Monday, November 28, 2011

When life gives you lemons

Paint a still life...

- Willem Claesz  Heda
- Jan Davidsz de Heem

- Willem Kalf

Two posts in one day? Yeah s'true. Studying for my Dutch Baroque test this Friday and I thought it was worth sharing. I waited all semester to learn about them and that class didn't disappoint. Yeah so they might not be the most exciting of paintings; they're of inanimate objects like vases, carpets, fruits, flowers etc... But they're delightfully beautiful and more often than not, they carry a moralistic message. Look at the lemons.
- Detail of a lemon from a still life by  Willem Claesz Heda

There are levels of significance: we all know they're sour and bitter, think of the senses they illicit, taste and smell especially in the middle of all the fine, expensive material objects. And then, imagine the difficulty in painting them, all the different textures: the pitted peel, the rough white rind and the shiny fleshy segments. This is an opportunity for the artist to showcase the virtuosity of his painting skill. Still lifes also address a larger theme known as vanitas - concerning the shortness and fleetingness of life, all things decay (like the lemons), glasses can be broken, life leads to death etc... pretty wicked eh? I've glossed over a lot but again a painting is worth a thousand words and I've left you three...

- Life is good

Listening to: 'Never Be Daunted' - Jaymay
Observations: Overwashed ma sweater... no more inside fuzzies
Craving: Less sinus congestion, more knowledge ingestion

Head Shots

I'm used to being in the practice of looking at images, but right now it's consuming my life. So to take a break from the array of slide tests, essays and other art history non-sense I'm elaborating on a theme I explored for an assignment in IB Art. Our first year midterm was to design our own exhibition around a theme of your choice with between 10 to 20 works of art from different media and I chose to document the changing style of female portraiture through the ages...

La Scapigliata, Leonardo DaVinci, 1508 

Grunge à la Marc Jacobs in the 90s

Plummage - Roman - Flavian Dynasty, Cary Kwok, 2007

Close up of The Birth of Venus, Sandro Botticelli, 1485

The first supermodels

Afghan Girl, Steve McCurry, 2002

Woman I, Willem de Kooning, 1950-2

Your body is a battleground, Barbara Kruger, 1989

Frida Kahlo

Les Demoiselles D'Avignon, Pablo Picasso, 1907

Coutney Love signing at a Givenchy after-party

Olympia, Édouard Manet, 1863

Head Bombarded with Grains of Wheat, Salvador Dali, 1954

Turquoise Marilyn, Andy Warhol, 1962

Some Girls album cover, Rolling Stones, 1978 

Photo of Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner

Weeping Woman, Pablo Picasso, 1937

Our idea of the stereotypical 1950s woman

Girl with a Pearl Earring, Johannes Vermeer, 1665

The girls of Sex and the City

Nefertiti Bust, Thutmose, 1345 BCE

Ruth Smoking, Julian Opie, 2006

For Your Pleasure album cover, Roxy Music 1973

Venus di Milo, Alexandros of Antioch, 130-100 BCE

Yulia Kharlapanova in Marie Claire Italia June 2011

Man I feel like a woman.

- Life is good

Listening to: 'Breeze' - Apollo Sunshine
Observations: Failsafe feel better = Geordie Shore
Craving: A way to keep tea warm permanently

Wednesday, November 23, 2011


Lately I've felt a slowly creeping ache in my gut that I haven't been able to push away... and I guess it's getting to the point where I need to address the issue, say it out loud instead of burying myself under my covers and sleeping it off, which is so much easier. To quote one of my favorite films:

"It's funny how things happen at particular times[...] we've been going through this thing, real quiet, so when we ran into you yesterday this thing that we've been going through, real quiet, she's talking about it. You know what I mean?" - Into the Wild

All it takes is one small thing to throw everything into sharp relief and that small thing was re-reading a letter my dad had written to me, several birthdays back. Then the thoughts came rushing.

So, I'm alittle lost because I think I've fallen out of love with the things that I used to find so important to me. I think I'm having a quarter-life crisis; as in who am I and what am I doing with my life? That kind of stuff. Most of it boils down to the fact that I think I've become disillusioned when it comes to art, something I care[d] so much about and some other stuff that I'm still wrestling with. This blog is where I celebrated my passion for the arts and I hadn't posted in so long because it's been such a struggle to find anything to engage in. 

As melodramatic or insignificant as this may seem to some it's a big deal for me. Take away all my creative, artsy stuff and there's not alot left and I guess that's been freaking the hell out of me. I'm worried I don't care enough about things and it's funny 'cause for a while I had self diagnosed myself as ataraxic," a condition characterized by the freedom of worry or any other preoccupation really", for those who've seen Lucky Number Slevin that was for you. However, worrying about not worrying is still worrying, so I can't be ataraxic even though it sounds cool. Maybe the feeling of not caring enough is really caring about things too much? I am not a big fan of self pity and this is not it. I'm not sure what I'm going to call this, dilemma sounds appropriate. 

And who knows, maybe, perhaps this is all just end-of-the-semester-itis?... Anyway, discussion ends here, but being disillusioned is actually what I wanted to explore today... well, actually subtract the 'dis' and we're set to go.

Elizabeth Bowen said "Illusions are art, for the feeling person, and it is by art that we live, if we do."

Things that make you look twice. GO!

Three dimensional street artist Kurt Wenner's work is arresting, in every sense of the word - he's had run ins with the law before. I'm not as sure about North America, but in Europe it is not uncommon to see street artists, those guys who sketch caricatures for twenty euros or make amazing acrylic paintings of panoramic city views; and street art, chalk drawings on the ground that are often religious in nature... but have you ever in your life seen something so complex on the sidewalk? Wenner is highly acclaimed for his innovative pavement pictures in which he combines a love for classical imagery with a form of geometry that he invented to create these illusionistic images. National Geographic made a documentary about him called Masterpieces in Chalk that you really should watch...
Here's part 1 of 3. He's a genius.

Tell me this is just another still life or a boring photograph. You're wrong, oh so wrong. This is the work of photorealist Roberto Bernardi... oh and it's a painting. Modern art is equated with weird drippings, geometric shapes, nude women and all manner of identifiable subject matter. But then you have these guys whose goal is to create paintings that mimic the qualities of a photograph. We're unused to this type of realism and naturalism in modern art, but Bernardi is part of a movement that began in the 60s and 70s and is still very much alive today. Tell me art and skill is dead, I dare you.

What, who, is that a man you say? Why yes, yes it is. His name is Liu Bolin, but he also goes by the Invisible Man as well. Bolin's work is characterized by him being painted to blend in to his surroundings, thus creating this illusion of invisibility. Watch the video below and you'll understand the pure devotion to his culture and craft... especially after a four hour painting session in which you aren't allowed to move.

Finally, this may be the most familiar image to most - René Magritte is a well known Surrealist and here we have Carte Blanche. I can't really say much except that I've loved Magritte since I lived in Belgium when I was eight years old. This image, while not as striking initially like the others is still equally complex and illusionistic. Seeing is believing... but can you believe this?

- Life is good

Listening to: 'August's Rhapsody' - Mark Mancina 
Observations: Kingston's first snow... yay?
Craving: The spasms in my arms to please subside

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Storyboard VII

Sometimes I see things that make me say 'woah'.

A graphic design student attending university in Bournemouth has gained a huge following for his amazing interpretations of Disney 'princesses' in real life. I think he's done a fantastic job at recreating their likenesses and he most recently did Tiana from The Princess and the Frog which is one of my favorites. Being the huge Disney nerd that I am I thought this was so amazing and inspirational, I love creative people.

This editorial from Harper's Bazaar Turkey took my breath away when I first saw it. Having been obsessed with the classical antiquity of Greece and Rome since I was small and more recently nurturing a growing obsession with fashion I found that the two collide on glorious harmony in this image. Tereza looks like the marble sculpture's living, breathing twin. The light, pose, asymmetry, earthiness... etc all work so well. Sure it's posed, but it feels natural enough so in my opinion it works.

I would have loved to be attendance at this photoshoot. I'm pretty sure that for the first time in history all the VOGUE editors came together while celebrating Japan's first Fashion's Night Out a couple months ago. Imagine all these powerful women together in one room... imagine the divas, the egos, the bitching! Again, I would have paid good money to see this.

I'm really interested in Dante's Inferno (which I've been slaving over for a paper), ever since I was a young[er] I thought it was such a neat idea, you know, travelling through hell seeing classical heros and historical icons in the many levels. Anyway, more recently I've become obsessed with Lucifer who fell from God's favour and heaven as seen in this engraving by  is Gustav Doré from John Milton's Paradise Lost, a copy of which I have asked for Christmas.

Reebok and Crossfit recently partnered together to set a Guinness World Record for the largest 3D painting ever... wish I'd been strolling Canary Wharf that day. Amazing. Never bash the visual arts.

Ok so it's a wedding dress, but dye it black and chuck it on Jessica Chastain for the Oscars cause girl's gonna need a  wicked dress when she accepts her Oscar for Best Actress of Supporting Actress... Plus it's so pretty.

I realized I haven't bragged about going to the Olympic Opening Ceremony on my 21st birthday next year... so yeah, I am going to the Olympic Opening Ceremony next year on my 21st birthday. Ok, I'm done. As to be expected I am very excited so when any mention of the Olympics comes up anywhere my neck snaps in that direction with lightning quick speed. Recently the official Olympic posters were revealed and they are by some very famous contemporary British artists: imagine my surprise to see names like Chris Ofili, Tracey Emin and Bridget Riley, these are big deal YBAs. Again, do not bash the visual arts. This is my favorite by Sarah Morris with an abstract take on Big Ben. 

 I've already celebrated my love for Van Gogh, but I thought that you should see another of his self portraits before moving on to my last 'woah' image of the day...

Creative people should be celebrated often and I could not love and appreciate this image by James Birkbeck any more than is humanly possible. No photoshop, no editing, just paint and the will to be creative. Check out his flickr photostream and other photos. This image encompasses Van Gogh perfectly and is one of many reasons why I study what I do. Gah #artfuckingrocksmyworld

-Life is good

Listening to: 'Fifths' - Deadmau5
Observations: Being under the covers on a cold day... so clutch
Craving: All my papers to write themselves for me