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Posts from the ‘Contemporary Visionists’ Category

Playing with Fire

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I have been soooo busy the last few months on things that required my absolute focus – such as making my wedding dress, teaching, and preparing for an upcoming solo exhibition. I was literally up to my eyeballs in yards and yards of ivory silk, wool and cream, and I discovered some truly wonderful people and places in the process. I am now returning more full-time to the world of paint just when spring has begun in the most glorious fashion, and I am hoping that I will have a little more time for writing about painting.


The Palace of Donn’Anna, Naples, Jules Coignet 1843

Henri Carr - Vesuvius in Eruption, March 1944

Naples - Vesuvius by Kajetonas Sklėrius (1876-1932) 12 x 17 in. watercolor, 1929

Joseph Wright of Derby. Vesuvius in Eruption, with a View over the Islands in the Bay of Naples. c. 1776-80. Oil on canvas. 122 x 176.4

Gustaf Soderberg View of Vesuvius from the Bridge of St-Januarius, Naples 1820 National Museum, Stockholm

One of the images constantly in my mind’s horizon is that of Mount Vesuvius, my next-door neighbor. For those of you who have never been to Naples and have heard rumors about how “dangerous” it is, be aware that the real danger is Vesuvius – a silent fountain of “rebirth” from which gushes the thrills, the fire, the dust, the goosebumps and the chaos that form Naples today, a modern city perched on a delicate historical tapestry. The experience is invigorating and intoxicating for an artist, a true adrenalin rush similar to that first enormous crush. But when in Naples, do as the Neapolitans do: Don’t worry about it. Let it overwhelm you, and in the meantime, if you can concentrate on getting some decent painting done, someday someone might really appreciate it.

Here below are some images/fantasies inspired by the presence of this potent volcano, a little tribute to “playing with fire.”

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Artists featured in alphabetical order include: August Wihlem Julius Ahlhorn, Henry Brokman, Achille Carelli, Henri Carr, Franz Ludwig Catel, Edward William Cooke, Jules Coignet, Christopher DiPietro, Johan Christian Claussen Dahl, Robert Dukes, Robert S. Duncanson, Jacob Philipp Hackert, Alessandro La Volpe, Heinrich Reinhold, Charles Remond, Kajetonas Sklėrius, Gustaf Soderberg, Joseph Mallord William Turner, Pierre Jacques Volaire, Michael Wetzel, Joseph Wright of Derby, Michael Wutky

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Sophie Jodoin: Exposure of Truth

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I came across some additional images of Sophie Jodoin‘s earlier works this past week, and it happened at a time when I really felt like I needed to see something that speaks of blunt honesty. I have been thrown a lot of curve balls during my experience in Israel, so it is consoling and encouraging to look at an artist that attempts to expose the learned truth, straightforward without agenda or masks, focusing on the victims rather than the crazed protagonists.


From The Fallen (revisited) series, 2006

Jodoin has explored numerous difficult themes over the years, particularly the violences in war, children, relationships, growing up and aging, as well as the feelings of numbness, nostalgia, fear, rejection, and aspirations that accompany these very facts of human existence. Around 2003, and certainly by her Fallen (revisited) series in 2006, Jodoin chose to remove color altogether from her work, to strip “away the sensuality of color often associated with painting,” as she put it. The 2004 series “A Little Red Suite: the World is a Heartbreaker” – oval portraits of grief in red – were thus followed by the black and white documentary type explorations of Drawing Shadows (of her mother) and Diary of K., and since then Jodoin has consistently stuck to the raw, graphic power of black and white.


From A Little Red Suite – the World is a Heartbreaker series

Is she perhaps better skilled in black and white than color? I might say so, but then again it has been hard to find more than a few earlier works in color to compare. Reality has its base in black and white, existing before the cones and rods of the eyeball, and color does impassion our moods unwillingly – just imagine if food were only in black and white. Certainly, the lack of color in her work over the last several years lends more severity, coldness and objectiveness to the analysis, and thus is more suggestive of a documentary approach on the human condition. It also serves to curb any of those who dare classify Jodoin as a political artist; the removal of optical color also takes out any of the cloying color of politics. At any rate, I like pretty much anything she does, in any hue or tone.


Study for Homicide, date unknown

She always knocks the wind out of me, because the images have a violence in contemplation rather than in surface – a jolt of exposure that is needed, in my opinion. It is too easy to go about our day ignoring, neglecting or simply being unaware of other currents and people around us. We are so “busy.” It is only when unfortunate things happen in our own back yard that we stop for a moment and begin to fully question the horrors of being human. Sophie Jodoin paintings function like universal backyards for the viewer. Though artists tend to notice things others may not, in many of her series, Jodoin chooses to make the likeness of a person unrecognizable while focusing instead on the realism of recognizable props, which can sift out an undercurrent of emotions that perhaps we had never considered before. We do not recognize a random soldier, but we recognize the bandages of war. We may not relate to a toddler’s face, but we can relate to a faceless young girl clinging to a bunny.


From the Ward Series 2008-09

Jodoin allows us views of people who – by a rare slip of circumstance – are not us, but could be us in a split second. We should not be fooled that we are better or more fortunate than anyone else simply because we are standing on the other side of the glass. Instead, we can absorb these works as exposures of the fragile, haunting truthfulness of life, and we can walk away more equipped to proceed with life, with more knowledge and compassion.

Born in 1965, Jodoin lives and works in Montreal, having earned her BFA from Concordia University in Montreal in 1988. Represented by Battat Contemporary and Newzones Gallery of Contemporary Art, she exhibits regularly throughout Canada, the US and Europe. Her website provides a thorough investigation of her work and bibliography since 2004. There is a also a beautiful filmed interview (in French) of Sophie and her work.

Exhibition: Antonio Lopez Garcia

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Photo of Lopez Garcia on the streets of Madrid by Oscar del Pozo

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If you have not yet been able to make it to Madrid this summer for the major retrospective of Antonio Lopez Garcia at Museo Thyssen-Bornemisza in Madrid, the Museum makes it a little easier to cope with through an excellent online virtual tour through the exhibition. The virtual exhibition walks you through the ten rooms of Lopez’ development, thematically displayed in categories of Memory, Surroundings, Madrid, Gran Via, Trees, Nude, Characters, Interiors, Food, and Projects. The new six curvilinear perspective paintings of Gran Via, talked about in the El Pais 2010 interview below, are displayed in progress, as well as a recent landscape view of Madrid, his newest flower paintings and sculptures of his grandchildren. The phenomenol show opened on June 25 and will be up until September 25, 2011.

Closed on Mondays, the Museum recommends early booking to the limited entry exhibition.

You can buy the soft-cover Spanish exhibition catalogue here online, with 176 color illustrations and 45 black & white ones for about 30 euros, but only if you have a Tax/VAT #.


Some of the works on exhibition, and others I love looking at:

Stephanie Pierce Solo Show in Boston

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Stephanie Pierce will be opening a solo exhibition at Alpha Gallery in Boston next weekend, April 16 from 3-5 pm. The show will be up through May 11, and I recommend going out of your way to see these new works. Pierce’s paintings are stunning visual trips for those who get to see them in person, a reward of intimate colors and forms that she has found by coming to that fork in the road and opting for the road less travelled. For closer looks of her paintings, please visit her excellent website.

The Coolest Way to Crack an Egg

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With Easter and Passover approaching, eggs are appearing everywhere. I have also been working on a number of little quick sketch paintings on panel, which I will post soon. So today this got me to thinking about Duane Keiser, and I went over to visit his blog, A Painting a Day. To my great delight, I found the following video where he “cracks” an egg in the marvelous magic trick known as oil painting. I appreciate it greatly because it shows terrific skill in painting abstractly from observation while having “fun” at the same time.

Pathways to Landscape Exhibition – Curated by Dean Fisher

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On a recent trip to the US, I had the enormous privilege to meet and talk at length with the artist Dean Fisher. An accomplished artist and gifted teacher based in Connecticut, Fisher recently put together “Pathways to Landscapes,” an extensive exhibition of landscape paintings by 25 contemporary artists at the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. As a survey of this nature and size is so rare today, I recommend that you run over to visit it before it closes on Saturday, March 26.

Fisher received the request to curate an exhibition after being awarded the Best in Show at the 33rd Annual Juried Show of the Ridgefield Guild of Artists. The artists he selected for inclusion – Robert Bauer, Frank Bruckmann, Hollis Dunlap, Nicholas Evans Cato, Eileen Eder, Dean Fisher, Josh Gaetjen, Christopher Gallego, Israel Hershberg, Diana Horowitz, Alex Kanevsky, Constance LaPalombara, Claire Maury-Curran, William Meddick, Lawrence Morelli, Artie Mihalopolous, Lenny Moskowitz, William Nathans, Josephine S. Robinson, Stuart Shils, E.M. Saniga, Jesus Villareal, Justin Weist, Brian Wendler and Jordan Wolfson – represent his consideration of some of the most cherished paintings available for collecting today: “If I were a collector, these are the works I would own.” Special lending arrangements were made with several galleries such as DFN Gallery, Forum Gallery, Steven Harvey Fine Arts Projects and Marlborough Gallery in New York, as well as with the artists to bring such an extensive exhibition to the public, including two or three representative works per artist. For those who cannot travel to Connecticut to see the exhibition, the following slideshow of photos provided by Fisher will offer a good peek.

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Dean Fisher is a contemporary classically oriented realist painter and has shown at Hirschl & Adler Gallery and Tatistcheff Gallery in New York. A highly respected teacher and exquisite painter of stillife, landscapes and the nude, he is a guild artist and instructor of painting at the Silvermine Arts Center in New Canaan, Connecticut and conducts workshops in Italy during the summer, including the new landscape painting program at the Certosa di Pontignano from August 27 – September 3, 2011, with details of the course yet to be announced.


Fisher, Beach-Windy Day


Fisher, Tide Pool

To view works of the selected artists in the exhibition, websites have been provided here when available:
Robert Bauer
Frank Bruckmann
Hollis Dunlap
Nicholas Evans Cato
Eileen Eder
Dean Fisher
Josh Gaetjen
Christopher Gallego
Israel Hershberg
Diana Horowitz
Alex Kanevsky
Constance LaPalombara
Claire Maury-Curran
William Meddick
Lawrence Morelli
Artie Mihalopolous
Lenny Moskowitz
William Nathans
Josephine S. Robinson
Stuart Shils
E.M. Saniga
Jesus Villareal
Justin Weist
Brian Wendler
Jordan Wolfson