Friday, 31 January 2014

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Firework Carpet

Happy Chinese New Year!

Watch this video of Firework Carpet, one of many extraordinary carpets made out of daily objects by We Make Carpets Dutch group. 
More works:

Monday, 27 January 2014

The Rediscovery of Jackson Pollock

I have recently started watching a series of lectures by UC Berkeley Practice of Art from Spring 2011 edition. In his lecture Introduction to Visual Thinking Professor John S. McNamara has asked the class (of probably freshmen, mostly American students) whether they know and like Jackson Pollock. Those, who “really respond to his work” were “a small number of a small number”. I felt some disappointment in the speaker’s voice, so probably to somehow justify such a low awareness the lecturer added that Pollock is “a very hard artist to understand”.

Myself, I have been first introduced to Pollock back in 2004 when as a Business major student, I was also allowed to take art studio classes at Baskin Visual Arts Center that turned into the brightest memories of my entire year at UCSC. Professor Frank Galuszka was very passionate about Pollock and his dripping technique, but at that time I was more into Kandinsky basing my paintings on his color theory after reading Concerning the Spiritual in Art 1910 book. 

The rediscovery of Jackson Pollock happened back in early October 2013 thanks to Pollock and The Irascibles – The New York School at Palazzo Reale, a part of Autunno Americano cultural project that brought Whitney Museum of American Art collection, including one of the most famous Pollock's painting Number 27 (1951), to Milan. Even those who do not like abstract expressionism or are as indifferent as I was before, will find it interesting to attend. Well-curated, with only few minor defects such as broken light (that is probably fixed by now) was giving a special shadow effect to Morris Louis painting, a video presentation by Luca Beatrice only in Italian (watch here) and a bit confusing flow/signage as well as an odd location of a gift shop inside the exhibition space instead of being adjacent to it (right after the first room, yet, with the entrance from the last exhibition hall), the show is a great way to discover and to learn about the first pure American art movement and its key figures. While the focus is on Pollock, exhibition represents other painters of post-war USA such as William De Kooning, Mark Rothko, Robert Motherwell, Ad Reinhardt, Clifford Still, Bradley Walker Tomlin, Richard Pousette-Dart. The Irascibles or Irascible 18, as they were called after submitting an open letter to New York's Metropolitan Museum director boycotting American Painting Today - 1950 exhibition are depicted on a famous photograph dressed up in suits as respectful bankers (except Pollock who already made a huge effort by taking off his favorite jeans and wearing a suit)

In addition, the exhibition has a good mix of learning and fun thanks to video installation showing dripping technique in action as a step-by-step digital process or an option to lay down on a comfy sofa and look up where an extract of Jackson Pollock 51 documentary by Hans Namuth is screened. As far as I know, this is the only time when Pollock was speaking on camera when he was making a painting. 

the digital step-by-step process creates a white space on the floor into Pollock's Number 27 painting. Click here to learn more about this artowrk

A brilliant idea of placing the visitors below the screen with the video gives an effect of Pollock painting on you

Jackson Pollock 51 (1951) documentary by Hans Namuth, full movie

The sound is not the greatest, so here's the extract on Jackson Pollock's attitude to painting

I enjoy working on a large canvas. I feel more at home, more at ease, in a big area. 

Having the canvas on the floor I feel nearer, more a part of the painting. This way I can walk around it, work from all four sides and be in the painting, similar to the Indian sand painters of the West. 

Sometimes I use a brush but often prefer using a stick. Sometimes I pour the paint straight out of the can. I like to use a dripping fluid paint. I also use sand, broken glass, pebbles, string, nails, or other foreign matter. 

A method of painting is a natural growth out of a need. I want to express my feelings rather than illustrate them. 

Technique is just a means of arriving at a statement. When I am painting I have a general notion as to what I am about. I can control the flow of the paint. 

There is no accident, just as there is no beginning and no end. Sometimes I lose a painting, but I have no fear of changes...of destroying the image. Because a painting has a life of its own, I try to let it live.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

Kirill Khrustalev's Neighbours: A Sentimental Journey Around the Room

This is the first of a series of the post Arty Summer 2013 of going through my archives and uploading photos from the exhibitions I have been to and still have not gone through photos yet. 

I present to your attention a witty conceptual exhibition Neighbours at Pechersky Gallery located on Moscow's Winzavod territory by Kiril Khrustalev from Saint-Petersburg. 

Kirill Khrustalev, Matter and Stone, 2009
Kirill Khrustalev, Cup with Banded Ear, 2011 
 Kirill Khrustalev, Sorrow, 2012 
  Kirill Khrustalev, Matchpeg (Impatient), 2009
 Kirill Khrustalev, Shoot (Росток), 2013
 Kirill Khrustalev, Laocoon and his sons, 2010
 Kirill Khrustalev, Antique, 2012
Kirill Khrustalev, Vesuvi for Tea, 2011 
 Kirill Khrustalev, The Great Bear, 2012
 Kirill Khrustalev, Reached the Bottom at 17:03, 23.03.2012
 Kirill Khrustalev, The Honest Bottletop, 2012
 Kirill Khrustalev, Sunset at the Top, 2009
 Kirill Khrustalev, Escape, 2009 
   Kirill Khrustalev, The Thirst for Things, 2011 
  Kirill Khrustalev, The Last Leaf, 2010  
Kirill Khrustalev, On Rare Discases of the Retina, 2011 
Kirill Khrustalev, The Golden Rush, 2012 
 Kirill Khrustalev, Caterpillar, 2011
 Kirill Khrustalev, I am Working With Form, 2012

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

A Position on a Map

Yesterday, on January 21st, the doors of Galleria Patricia Armocida opened to the second in Milan solo show of Philadelphia-based self-taught artist Jim Houser

To tell the truth, I have not heard of Houser before, googling brought me to the artist's website that seems to be under construction, so I limited my research to Artsy page in addition to Galleria Patricia Armocida's invitation and pumped up with basic knowledge head to the show.  

By 8 pm, an hour after its official opening, the place was full and noisy. The artist who I have recognized thanks to a photo from his website, was leaning to the wall in the crowded room, looking a bit frustrated probably since he was not understanding the Italian people spoke around him. I managed to exchange only "hi" from a distance as an English speaking Italian involved him into a conversation and I decided to explore the space. 

I have noticed that his cartoon style fits well with the other artists previously shown in the gallery, Steve Powers and Parra whose few works were in the first room. 

Behind flat and brightly colored pieces, lays a story of Jim's own life. Houser picks certain autobiographical objects and repeatedly uses them in his paintings. This recurring meaning a lot to him, yet remains enigmatic to the viewers who just see fun and bright illustrations. So when after exploring the space I found myself next to Jim I decided to take a chance and learn more about these symbols. Below I present you "A BEGINNER'S GUIDE" to Jim Houser's paintings.

If you see birds or leaves, look at their shape with bigger attention: don't they remind you a part of an infinity sign? The full sign is made out of the heads of two birds or two leaves. Thus, any appearance of this shape should direct you to thinking about something infinite. The painting below probably represents Jim's infinite love to his family as he and his second wife has one child so far. 

Arrows we agreed is "up to the point" symbol. This painting, for example, depicting a constellation of arrows creating a circle is about arguments, some words Jim said, should or should not have said. 

I mistakenly thought of the candles as a sign of a romantic love, instead they are more for memories and sadness. 

Cowbow-style hat is a way of "making fun of ignorant American".

Jim has been always keeping journals, where he was making some drawings. From those old days come his fonts and a habit of inserting words almost to every painting. He was surrounded by painters since his friend and a flatmate Ben Woodward was studying fine arts and eventually became an artist himself. 

Old Life, New Life

In a book titled Babel: Jim Houser published few months after Houser's first wife tragic death in a car accident I have found these words in the afterword: "True love is out there. It can change you forever. It can help make the world a new beautiful place." Dec 13, 2004

Jim Houser, GNRS, 2013, Mixed media assemblage on wood panel, 121.9 × 121.9 cm. Source: Jonathan Levine Gallery

The painting above is a dedication to Houser's first wife, a painter herself, who has influenced him and his artistic style a lot (thanks to her he started painting back in 1996). As he confessed in the earlier mentioned book, to commemorate and cherish memories about her he decided to be just like her. He has told me that she liked to paint these shaped leaves, but since she passed away, the background is black. This element represent the Infinite love and infinite sadness from her loss. In his current works he is making a link with his old life and new one appreciating the past and happy for the present in which he is married the second time.

Now, the cartoon stories have obtained a whole new meaning to me and now I can even claim I have my own infinite love representation drawn by Jim Houser in edition of 2 on the gallery invitations made by Fontegrafica: 

If you are interested to see how Jim creates his pieces, check out the first video, the second is about his preparation to the exhibition titled Myself in Black Book Gallery: 

To check out all the photos from the event, please, visit my FB page

The exhibition is on until April 18, 2014. Check Galleria Patricia Armocida for more information.

Monday, 20 January 2014

Cosmic Geometry by Monir Farmanfarmaian

Monir Farmanfarmaian, an Iranian artist, born in 1924 in Qazvin, left for New York during WWII. “I wasn’t bad looking,” she says, “so everyone invited me to their parties.” This is how she met The Irascibles (Pollock, de Kooning, Rothko) and worked under Andy Warhol for Bonwit Teller. 

Called "a role model for the artist of the twenty-first century" by Hans Ulrich Obrist, she was merging traditional geometric forms with Sufi spirituality, her love to birds, in particular, nightingales,  and her childhood spent in a grand old house full of stained glass and wall paintings. 

To me, her works recall early childhood memories of seeing Persian miniatures' frames mosaic made out of fish bones and wood in the bazaars of Tehran and visiting Shāh-é-Chérāgh Mosque in Shiraz. In fact, this site was a point of inspiration for Monir Farmanfarmaian to experiment with glass pieces. 

“We sat there for half an hour, and it was like a living theater,” she notes. “People came in all their different outfits and wailed and begged to the shrine, and all the crying was reflected all over the ceiling … I said to myself, I must do something like that, something that people can hang in their homes.”

Group I (Convertible Series), 2010, mirror, reverse-glass painting, and plaster on wood, dimensions variable according to a set variation of patterns 
Triangle and Square, 2008, mirror, reverse-glass painting, and plaster on wood, 39 2/5 in. x 63 in.

 Birds of Paradise, 2008, mirror mosaic and reverse glass painting, 180x129 cm each
 The Two Cycles

Saturday, 18 January 2014

Beauty - a short video by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro

"Bello" or "bella" which means "beautiful" are among the most commonly used words in Italian language as Italians use this adjective to describe everything. This word was the first that came to my mind after finishing watching this short movie by Rino Stefano Tagliafierro - a compilation of paintings that turn into a story of beauty and the feelings underneath it.

If you are curious, here are the paintings in order of appearance:

Asher Brown Durand - The Catskill Valley‬
Thomas Hill - Emerald Bay, Lake Tahoe
Albert Bierstadt - Among the Sierra Nevada Mountains
Ivan Shishkin - Forest edge
James Sant - Frau und Tochter‬
William Adolphe Bouguereau - L'Innocence
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Song of the Angels
Ivan Shishkin - Bach im Birkenwald
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Le Baiser
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Nature's Fan- Girl with a Child
William Adolphe Bouguereau - The Motherland
Ivan Shishkin - Morning in a Pine Forest
William Adolphe Bouguereau - The Nut Gatherers
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Two Sisters
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Not too Much to Carry
Thomas Cole - The Course of Empire: Desolation
Martinus Rørbye - Entrance to an Inn in the Praestegarden at Hillested
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Sewing
William Adolphe Bouguereau - The Difficult Lesson
William Adolphe Bouguereau - The Curtsey
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Little Girl with a Bouquet
Claude Lorrain - Pastoral Landscape
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Cupidon
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Admiration
William Adolphe Bouguereau - A Young Girl Defending Herself Against Eros
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Dawn
William Adolphe Bouguereau - L'Amour et Psych
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Spring Breeze
William Adolphe Bouguereau - The Invation
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Nymphs and Satyr
William Adolphe Bouguereau - The Youth of Bacchus
William Adolphe Bouguereau - The Birth of Venus
William Adolphe Bouguereau - The Nymphaeum
Gioacchino Pagliei - Le Naiadi
Luis Ricardo Falero - Faust's Dream
Luis Ricardo Falero - Reclining Nude
Jules Joseph Lefebvre - La Cigale
John William Godward - Tarot of Delphi
Jan van Huysum - Bouquet of Flowers in an Urn
Adrien Henri Tanoux - Salammbo
Guillaume Seignac - Reclining Nude
Tiziano - Venere di Urbino
Louis Jean François Lagrenée - Amor and Psyche
Correggio - Giove e Io
François Gérard - Psyché et l'Amour
John William Godward - Contemplatio
John William Godward - Far Away Thought
John William Godward - An Auburn Beauty
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Flora And Zephy
Louis Jean François Lagrenée - Amor and Psyche
Fritz Zuber-Bühle - A Reclining Beauty
Paul Peel - The Rest
Guillaume Seignac - L'Abandon
Victor Karlovich Shtemberg - Nu à la peau de bete
Pierre Auguste Cot - Portrait Of Young Woman
Ivan Shishkin - Mast Tree Grove
Ivan Shishkin - Rain in an oak forest
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Biblis
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Elegy
Marcus Stone - Loves Daydream End
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Head Of A Young Girl
Hugues Merle - Mary Magdalene in the Cave
Andrea Vaccaro - Sant'Agata
Jacques-Luois David - Accademia (o Patroclo)
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - San Giovanni Battista
Roberto Ferri - In Nomine Deus
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Cristo alla colonna
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Incoronazione di spine
Paul Delaroche - L'Exécution de lady Jane Grey en la tour de Londres, l'an 1554
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Decollazione di San Giovanni Battista
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Sacrificio di Isacco
Guido Reni - Davide e Golia
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Giuditta e Oloferne
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Davide e Golia
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Salomè con la testa del Battista
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Davide con la testa di Golia
Jakub Schikaneder - All Soul's Day
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - San Gerolamo scrivente
Guido Reni - San Gerolamo
Pieter Claesz - Vanitas
Gabriel von Max - The Ecstatic Virgin Anna Katharina Emmerich
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Portrait of Miss Elizabeth Gardner
Jan Lievens - A young girl
Johannes Vermeer - Portrait of a Young Girl
Luis Ricardo Falero - Moonlit Beauties
Joseph Rebell - Burrasca al chiaro di luna nel golfo di Napoli
Luis Ricardo Falero - Witches going to their Sabbath
William Adolphe Bouguereau - Dante And Virgil In Hell
Théodore Géricault - Cheval arabe gris-blanc
Peter Paul Rubens - Satiro
Felice Boselli - Skinned Head of a Young Bull
Gabriel Cornelius von Max - Monkeys as Judges of Art
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Medusa
Luca Giordano - San Michele
Théodore Géricault - Study of Feet and Hands
Peter Paul Rubens - Saturn Devouring His Son
Ilya Repin - Ivan il Terribile e suo figlio Ivan
Franz von Stuck - Lucifero Moderno
Gustave Doré - Enigma
Arnold Böcklin - Die Toteninsel (III)
Sophie Gengembre Anderson - Elaine
John Everett Millais - Ophelia
Paul Delaroche - Jeune Martyre
Herbert Draper - The Lament for Icarus
Martin Johnson Heade - Twilight on the St. Johns River
Gabriel Cornelius von Max - Der Anatom
Enrique Simonet - Anatomía del corazón
Thomas Eakins - Portrait of Dr. Samuel D. Gross (The Gross Clinic)
Rembrandt - Lezione di anatomia del dottor Tulp
Peter Paul Rubens - Die Beweinung Christi
Paul Hippolyte Delaroche - Die Frau des Künstlers Louise Vernet auf ihrem Totenbett
Elizabeth Jane Gardner Bouguereau - Too Imprudent
William-Adolphe Bouguereau - The Prayer
Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio - Amorino dormiente
Augustin Théodule Ribot - St. Vincent (of Saragossa)
Caspar David Friedrich - Abtei im eichwald


Zhao Wou-Ki's Radiant Orchid

Radiant Orchid was named color of the year 2014 by Panton. I have noticed it appeared a lot in the paintings of Zhao Wou-Ki. 

Zhao Wou-Ki merged his classical training in Chinese calligraphy with his inspiration from Paul Klee, Paul Cézanne and Henri Matisse. He moved to Paris in 1948, embarking on a lengthy career that ended with his death at 93 last year. 

Source: Artsy

18-3-92, 1992
Untitled, ink on paper, 2000
Composition, 1955
Hommage a Matisse, 1986 oil on canvas

Her: Love In The Modern Age

Official trailer

After finishing his Oscar-nominated movie Her: Love In The Modern Age, Spike Jonze asked around what is love in the modern age... Lance Bangs made a documentary on it...

Documentary on what is love in the modern age

Source: Vice Magazine

Friday, 17 January 2014

The Ethereal by Y.Z. Kami

Y.Z. Kami, Iranian-born artist Chelsea studio

“If you look at it from a distance, it looks focused. But the more you get closer to it, it gets very fuzzy. I wanted to give the viewer the feeling that the light is coming from the hand, so, the viewer has a mystical experience.”

His other works from the current exhibition reminded me the show of another Iranian artist, Shiraz-born Shirazeh Houshiary by Lisson Gallery at Venice 2013 Biennial (hopefully, one day all the photos will be uploaded!)

If in NY don't miss his solo show at Gagosian NY that runs through February 22, 2014. Opening Reception on 2014-01-16 from 18:00 to 20:00

To watch the interview:

Source: Blouin Artinfo