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Artist's Cafe
Reviews, critiques, thoughts and observations.
Hillel
18 Mar 08 24:47 GMT

FRANCIS BACON

The last museum exhibition I saw worth talking about was "Francis Bacon / Paintings From The 1950s" at the Albright Knox Gallery in Buffalo, New York. Buffalo is only about an hour and a half drive from Toronto and naturally I only got there on the very last day of the show, July 29th, '07. There was quite a lot of work, mostly from the Sainsbury collection, thirteen paintings in all. The Sainsburys were early supporters of the artist and the portraits of Mrs. Sainsbury were Bacons first depictions of a female. In addition there were works fom other private collections from all over the world including Albright-Knox's own "Man With Dog", he did at least a couple of versions on that theme, the one at the Albright -Knox is definitely the best. Although it's a relatively small museum the Albright-Knox has an excellent collection and when they make an acquisition it's usually a very good example of a particular artist's work.

Although I've seen a few original Bacons previously at the Tate and the one that's in the Albright- Knox collection, this was the largest number I've ever seen at one time and there were a few good pieces and a few not so good ones. It's always a good lesson for us artists to learn that even the greats are not always that great and that should give us leave to be a little kinder and more forgiving with ourselves. What impressed me was Bacon's attention to the presentation of his work, not surprising for a gay former interior and furniture designer. This need for lusciousness, all the works beautifully and sometimes ornately framed with elaborate mats and under glass. So prissy and precious and sometimes actually quite annoying, all that glass, the reflections often obscuring the image underneath. What surprised me was that the show produced in me this kind of stereotypical gay notion of Bacon for I've never really thought of him as gay in that way, implying a homosexual at ease with life or at least wanting to be. Rather, I've always thought of him as I think he did, as a queer, a flaming faggot. The boy that his manly horse breeding aristocratic (although broke) Irish father threw physically out of his home for being a poof and parading around in his mother's underwear and gowns. The young lad that lived a life of decadence in prewar Berlin on the the avails of older men. Crossing the channel once again to continue that kind of life as best he could in London. Always attracted to the underworld and the dangers of the brutish types he was prone to, the ones he could count on to give him a good beating or rob him of his money and punish him as Dad had done for being a queer and thus satisfying his deeply sadomasochistic desires. Notorious for his flamboyancy and sardonic words he was an outlaw to the end. Compare him with Hockney, an artist I admire for his cerebral study of art and optics. A gay man at ease with himself and others, I met him once at an opening, he was very polite and charming. Also compare their art, of course there is no comparison. Bacon's art when successful is simply unforgettable, all that angst and pain imbued with the strangeness of his life that makes us all too aware and sensitive to the strangeness we all feel somewhere within ourselves.

Just a couple of other observations. Admiring art writers have often spoken of Bacon's originality in painting on the reverse side (the unsized and unprimed side) of the canvas, yet no one ever mentions, as you all well know, that the sizing and priming supposedly protects the canvas from the acidic effect of the oils and turps, although frankly these paintings from the '50s seem to be in perfect shape. So much for art education. Not having one allowed Bacon to do as he chose. The point I'm coming to however, is never believe what an artist says even if he or she believe it themselves. Bacon in interviews and statements made much of what he called chance in his painting and I don't see much of that at all, in fact he was a very controlled painter. The reason he painted on the unprimed side was for reasons of control. I know it because when I was a graphic artist we used similar techniques for rendering mock ups. We would do big flat areas of colour with thick strokes of waterproof Magic Markers. The depiction of letters or figures could be painted in very quickly with designer colours or gouache without disturbing the underlying areas of colour. Likewise Bacon who no doubt used that technique commercially as a designer found that the oils on the "wrong side" of the canvas were absorbed and dried very quickly. In other words they stopped so that he could have more control when painting his figures without the colours bleeding. Later, for the same reason he quite often used acrylics for the grounds.

Actually he always painted more as a designer than a painter, like Robert Motherwell he had superbly good taste. In Melvyn Bragg's documentary on him there are some scenes where he reviews some slides of his own work and other works important to himself. Shown a of slide of his own works he said something to the effect of, "I don't think that one worked very well." that was followed by a similar painting of the same subject matter and he said something to the effect of, "Oh that one's much better, it's a much better layout". That really struck me at the time because designers and commercial artists concern themselves with layout, whereas painters always talk in terms of composition. That's the reason I think a purist and idealist like Giacometti derided his work and called him a fraud. I love my hero Giacometti but I also love Bacon precisely because he was a fraud and trickster who invented his own rules and life and art and stage managed the whole thing perfectly and yet beyond all that, his paintings are honest and do reflect his life and obsessions.

(Anyone else out there who has seen something of interest, a commercial show or a museum show or anything else that has given them food for thought please share your ideas with the rest of us and post your writings here. And as always your responses, arguments and objections are welcome.)

Hillel
23 Mar 08 02:38 GMT

DIFFERENT PERSPECTIVES ON FEMALE SEXUALITY.
JOHN PAUL DELANEY AND TERESA MILLS

Two different Art Process artists one male, the other female. Both working three dimensionally. Their topic, female sexuality and surprisingly they come to rather the same conclusion.

Taking the Art Process tour you sometimes notice certain things of interest. Completely different works by what appears to be artists of completely different sensibility start to come together and make some kind of visual sense when viewed together in the same context.
Let me make the case of the connection between the two artists titled above.

John Paul Delaney's Inverted and toothed sculpture "The Victim" He explains it away as something different just a reaction to doing works with protruding and arrogant elements (sounds very macho and very defensive doesn't it?) yet I can't help viewing it as other than the almost inevitable attraction to and the succumbing to female sexuality and the inherent danger so prevalent in the male imagination. The cause of early male impotence, fear of losing one's manhood to the mystery of the female organ is a common and an archetypical male phenomena. There's a certain truth to it as well. The male spider is compelled to forfeit his life for the pleasure of sex and the procreation. A similar feeling takes hold to greater and lesser extents among human males. The deadly attraction to that place of comfort comes with great cost. The union that produces family and children and also produces the loss of freedom and individuality, the shackles of conventionality and obligation. The loss of one's self and one's art. These are the fears and possibly the realities depicted so beautifully in Delaney's work.

LINK

As I looked at Theresa Mill's beautiful work "Sexual Object" I couldn't help thinking about how much more direct she was about the whole sexual thing, quite aware that the beautiful organ conveyed so tenderly in her work is also the cause of the same trap that the male senses and even worse (men quite often abandon the whole setup whereas women, so connected to the children seldom do). She very wittily turns the lovely organ into an iron for pressing clothes. The compulsion the organ produces in her and the resulting consequences will certainly keep her bound and chained to the tasks of housekeeping, responsibility and obligation. The same loss of freedom, self and art depicted by Delaney. Yet she is quite aware of what is happening, she deals with it squarely and knows she can't beat the compulsion. The male who must volunteer his services is much less aware, somewhere in his psyche lurks the truth and the fears to where his compulsion and attraction to that selfsame organ will lead yet it's not quite as clear and he disguises his fear. Perfectly natural, the perpetuity of the species demands it.

LINK

JP
24 Mar 08 09:53 GMT


"..The deadly attraction to that place of comfort comes with great cost.."

When I read that quote from your piece, I fell about the place laughing - yep, you said it brother, that about encapsulates the whole shebang.

Hillel
24 Mar 08 20:25 GMT

As you well know my whole purpose in life is to amuse you so I'm very gratified. Mind you a grievous fall into utter despair or at very least a vain suicide attempt were more the reactions I was hoping to provoke.

teresa a
16 Apr 08 12:26 IST

hi Hillel, I really enjoyed reading your very apt comparison of our works! I have been so busy with my teacher training lately that I haven't payed a visit to the artprocess site in a while. I have just also been reading the rest of the artist stories in Artist's cafe, they are such an interesting read and so well written. Thank you for entertaining us all.

Hillel
16 Apr 08 17:52 IST

Thanks Teresa, I'm glad you enjoyed it and had wondered where you'd disappeared to. Training to be a teacher, eh? I'm betting it'll be art and not ironing.

Hillel
20 Jun 08 01:58 IST

CUBISM?

Having just read Norman Mailer's Portrait of Picasso As a Young Man I thought I'd share some thoughts. It's not a great book, nothing really new to be garnered if you've read anything else about the artist and it relies heavily on Fernande Olivier's book about her ex lover. What's most interesting to me is the author's take on "Cubism", I use quotation marks because the word itself like other words in the art lexicon was never formulated by the artists to describe what it was they were up to but rather bestowed upon it by sometimes angry and puzzled critics. Mailer seems to understand that most of the explanations and rationalizations created by those who championed Cubism as a movement like the dealer Kahnweiler and the poet and intellectual Apollinaire were a hodgepodge of various notions of modernity. Trying to tie everything together with notions of the fourth dimension and Einstein's theories of relativity, both had a stake in the success of the new movement. Although I believe he was a genuine enthusiast Kahnweiller's motivation as the preeminent dealer was obviously commercial, while Apollinaire poet, intellectual and avant-guardist was more concerned with how he'd be viewed by posterity. Picasso and Braque were more or less silent and the second rung of cubists like Gleizes and Metzinger borrowed and improved upon the earlier formulated language and created manifestos as did the Synchromists and Futurists, etc. Mailer then goes on to create his own muddled theories and his protagonist Picasso is always the best and the greatest, pretty much relegating Braque's paintings to a more minor status which is completely outrageous because both artist's work at the time, regardless of the gap in their innate abilities was of very equal quality. The democracy of their work together marked the only period in his life when Picasso was actually able to quash his ego for the commonality of the struggle. It should be noted that Picasso hated all the talk and particularly hated theories.

If you've ever read any of the thousands of subsequent writings on the topic you'll have noticed how boring and unreadable most of it is. Museum tours and explanations surely confuse the people in attendance. They come away knowing that those early works created during that narrow time frame (1908-12) were very important but without any real appreciation or understanding. So the question is does anyone actually know what Cubism is? And does anyone actually like the stuff or do they just take it in because "it's good for you" the way bran and whole wheat is in one's diet? I suspect that like James Joyce and Franz Kafka, who although people constantly speak of their work, they are in reality seldom read and it's a rarefied minority who actually enjoy the stuff. Cubism plays a similar role and familiarity with it is necessary for a person of culture. The popular mantra that Cubism was the logical outcome of Cezanne and was anticipated by him in his work is I think a falsity. I doubt that had he lived another 50 years Cezanne would ever have produced a Cubistic work, devoted as he was to the idea of realizing the world as accurately as his eyes could see it, unprejudiced by experience and mental preconception, "Realize all forms by the sphere, the cylinder and the cone." to paraphrase his famous saying, has more to to with his own technique for achieving his objective, each fully loaded chiseled brush stroke applied with meaning, one next to the other until the whole complete. None of this has much to do with Cubism. Only from a very surface like interpretation of the building of planes and some slight vibration of movement when in trying to achieve accuracy a former brushstroke is left intact. That plus outright mistakes in getting things right when for example a table's top seems to be on the wrong plane, the apples ready to roll off, does Cezanne in any way anticipate the Cubism of Picasso and Braque. The main similarity I see is that Cezanne approached his work with an unrelenting spirit of research and investigation. Rightly venerated I doubt whether the majority of people actually enjoy his work as much as his more luscious, easy and painterly contemporaries.

So what was Cubism? I believe it was a myriad of different things to different artists each of whom was working intuitively in their own way. One thing is for sure it was truly the start of the modern era, art could no longer be the illusionistic depiction of things. The invention of that one eyed monster the camera did a much better job of all that. But the intuition of artists determined that there was an even more realistic experience to be had of this world, one that didn't just capture one brief moment but encompassed past and future. Each in there own way set out on their explorations of space and time. Multiple views of objects, a new type of plasticity and the depiction of movement and time. Even surrealism that seems so at odds was a byproduct of the same quest for a more real reality, which is actually the literal meaning of the sur prefix of the word... over or super reality. In the past 100 years or so nothing has fundamentally changed. Except for the occasional retrograde throwback work of some neo romanticists or classicists, we're all Cubists even if our art is not cube like, pursuing in whatever form we choose a greater truth about our world. Freed from the restraints of producing realistic illusions of the world the advent of Cubism allowed artists to enter an age of exploration to discover some kind of greater reality that they sensed was out there, their only tools being intuition and imagination. The fact that Picasso and Braque could only sustain their rigorous investigations for approximately four years before descending into what became known as Synthetic Cubism, a decorative style of painting with Cubistic elements shows how hard the job was. For me "Cubism" has become a catchall word for any kind of advanced and investigative art that aims at attaining some newly sensed truth an art who's chief characteristic is one of research and not adornment. Usually perceived as ugly and shocking at first, art motivated by a spirit of investigation can, given time and understanding, attain a beauty beyond measure as the reality catches up with the art.

karen
24 Jun 08 24:23 IST

Well, I wasn’t recommending a volume specialized on Picasso’s art or an analysis of his first works, I just thought that Mailer’s book was fun, easy to read an enjoyable for anybody who like me still feels the fascination for this contradictory genius par excellence. An artist that flooded the world with his ouvre, and influenced decisively every discipline he touched and nevertheless thought it was absurd to think that art had any kind of historical mission, and who never worked thinking of the future “ All I have ever made, was made for the present and in the hope that it will always remain in the present. When I have found something to express, I have done it without thinking of the past or the future” he once said.

Mailer describes Picasso’s life and art covering the Blue Period, the Rose Period and cubism in a multiple facetted approach through the testimonies of his intimates at the time, Fernande, Stein, Apollinaire, Jacob, etc, constructing the puzzle that Picasso often represents for people who never had the privilege of seeing him alive and try to find out the enigma of his genius, and of his charisma. (like me)

The book might not be new, or it may not be original, but it does achieve the goal he set to himself “ the desire to make Picasso as real as any character in life or in art”.

It did help me understand better some of his fears, and obsessions and his behaviour, and I enjoyed reading the anecdotes of these years in Mailers clear and natural writing. I chose the book to read about him, the young man, so I wasn’t expecting one of those “boring and unreadable art texts” that you mention and that I sometimes make an effort to read (and never finish).

Your description of cubism is very good though and I agree with you in your identification of cubism with “advanced and investigative art that aimed at attaining some newly sense of truth an art who’s chief characteristic is one of research and not adornment”..” “Multiple views of objects, a new type of plasticity and the depiction of movement and time” who wouldn’t?? but I also like the idea of its relationship with the relativeness of things, quoting Robert Hughes for he describes it in few words.. “cubism has everything to do with proposing infinite relationships between things , and seeing how many of them at a time can make visual sense”

“ reality is not figure and void, it is all relationships, a twinkling field of interdependent events”

“You still cannot walk into the cubist room. But that is partly -or so the paintings quietly argue- because you are already in it . It is the space of relativity…….”

The space of relativity......... is there anything more relative than colour ?



Well, yes it was not easy to read, and it still isn’t but it is true that it remains the most influential art dialect of the early 20th century.

And I liked the book….

Arnold
24 Jun 08 03:41 IST

In his exposition toward a definition of Cubism, Hillel highlights the fact that we are in the centenary year of the birth of Modern painting.
With this I heartily agree. In fact I am presently celebrating the event!
Whenever I need to reinvent myself as a painter, I return to those four years of collaboration, Braque/Picasso, and steal some more!
Braque himself offered what may have become the watchword of all Abstractionists ' you must have TWO ideas, one to destroy the other.'
L'chaim!

Hillel
25 Jun 08 01:07 IST

I should explain, Karen and I sometimes correspond and we ask each other what we've been reading. Karen had mentioned she was in the process of reading Mailer's book on the young Picasso and on one of my excursions to the public library I picked it up. That period of art is of particular fascination to me, Picasso not so much, but nobody can deny his major contribution at the beginning of the century. Whether the Mailer book is good or not I can't really say, I'm not a literary critic but for my purposes it failed to provide me with any new insights. However I truly enjoyed Karen's response and respect and understand her viewpoint. Picasso was certainly an enigma and had such a great power and so many second and third rate followers and imitators that he almost single handedly destroyed Paris as the centre of the artworld after the war giving America the opportunity to attain a cultural cold war success by supplanting it with NY.

The book however did get me thinking once again about that revolutionary period of time. The labeling of art and the so called schools of thought and philosophies... the "isms" so to speak were I think a very unfortunate development and that's what I'm trying to get at here. Cezanne had only reached his fulcrum and old age leaving the path open for a hundred years of diverse art. And Picasso and Braque had barely begun their experiments when suddenly new isms were sprouting up everywhere in a host of different European countries. So art became not so much a continuation of learning and process but was in constant search of the newest and the latest movement or revolutionary enfant terrible, at least from the marketing perspective of things.

Yes you can draw certain straight lines from so called Cubism to Europe's post war Abstractionists, Quebec's Automatistes and America's Action Painters. The realm of illusion culminating in flatness (the art of the past) and the realm of flatness culminating in illusion (the art of the present and future). In the quest for the new and the shocking, all of that has been thrown to the wind. The image once again has taken primacy and people including artists and experts have lost the visual literacy to look at painting and sculpture as unique forms with their own rules of engagement and construction. The image reigns supreme, the painted image competing with the photographic, digital and video, all being viewed on par, the only question being which image is the more intriguing and for people without the visual literacy to assess the constructive or historic components, it's a moot point. We the practitioners of the so called quiet arts are certainly the losers as whatever audience we ever had is continually dissipating.

That's why those early years of the 20th century have such power. When you see a retrospective of any of the artists from those times you marvel at their optimism about the future, they were all in their own way onto something unique and it's still reflected in their work today. Hughes talks of the "shock of the new", the true and real shock of the new is never lost no matter the length of time that goes by. I don't want to sound like an old curmudgeon or malcontent but I doubt that it will ever happen again. I really like what Arnold had to say, I don't recall hearing it or reading it but it's very true, modern art is a conflict that cannot be resolved, I think that's the antithesis of what modern consumers, reared on neatly conceived TV programs with beginnings, middles and convenient endings are prepared to deal with. One idea is more than enough for them, never mind two that are on a direct collision course.

Arnold
27 Jun 08 04:58 IST

I am so happy to have Hillel around to do the reading and digesting of the endless confusion of commentary and critique and opinion and analysis which has infested the artworld
I love the simple clarity of the twin paradigms - illusion>flatness,flatness>illusion which he has created for us. A satisfying summary of 100 years of artwork, allowing me to put MY time to better use!

Hillel
27 Jun 08 21:54 IST

Arnold, do I detect a note of sarcasm? Do you think it easy, the enormous investment of time I put in here, sometimes 30 to 40 hours a day, all to come up with mindless and inane trite so you serious artists can get on with your relatively easy jobs of creating enduring and meaningful art that will touch the souls of humanity unto the ages while I sublimate my own personal aims and ambitions for your sakes and the betterment of mankind. I thought not, that's the problem with all you artists, its always me, me, me.

Arnold
28 Jun 08 21:31 IST

Not a toot of sarcasm, Hillel...in truth, I wonder where you young folks get the energy to do what you do !

Hillel
29 Jun 08 16:59 IST

"Young folks", "energy?" and you're telling me you're not being sarky!? All kidding aside Arnold, I know we're just having a bit of fun here but to get back to the original topic. What is your take on Cubism? Your work shows an engagement with it and I'm not talking about going back to those years and stealing from the trough but I can't help thinking about The Blaue Reiter Group and Franz Marc, August Macke and others when I look at your portfolio. JP's painted works always conjures up for me the so called Orphists like Robert Delaunay and others. People look at my stuff and say "What is that, some kind of Cubism?" and I say "yeah". It's hard for me to understand how any artist working in the modern milieu can remain unaffected or detached from those early years without some major struggle.

Sure in the end something either works or it doesn't and it's the emotional impact that counts. There will always be some iconoclastic artist or a complete primitive who will challenge our aesthetic beliefs and produce something completely different and powerful. But for anyone born in the last hundred years Cubism is a major part of our language. So what is it and what does it mean for all of you?

Arnold
08 Jul 08 05:44 IST

the artworld according to me, me, me.

My earliest exposure to Aret was to the early paintings and sculpture of Picasso -1904 to 1915. So quite naturally I believed that this was also the beginning of Art for the rest of the world.
A look at Art history shows that most every innovation and twist performed upon painting had been done before WW1. Nothing is new. France, Germany, Russia, Africa, Cuba, even Canada had spawned artist/innovators of the first order, and they covered a lot of ground. But if there was a progenitor, a prime mover, it was Picasso. All benefitted from the competitiveness of the time, but Picasso drove the bus.
About 1906, picasso completed his famous portrait of Gertrude Stein. A critic remarked that she didn'e look like that. " She will! " picasso replied.
The balls on that guy. Twenty something!
Suddenly, Eurocentricity in Art was dead! Image was dead! What took its place was a 'World Painting', where Vision is everything. Where each part of a canvas is as important as the other. The subject is not more realistic, but more REAL! Freedom - to dioscover!
Yet, as soon as Picasso sniffed a 'style' of Cubism energing, he turned away and moved on.
Blah, blah, blah, it's all been written. But for me, the purest explanation of what changed is contained in this anecdote ( stop me if you've heard this ) - a visitor told Picasso he didn't understand him. Later he showed him a photo of his wife. " Oh, " said Picasso. " how small she is!~ I guess it's so she can fit in your pocket."
It took me years to figure that out. Cubism, Picasso and Modern Art...in a word.

Arnold
19 Jul 08 04:42 IST

Another week of busting my ass at work so I thought I'd drag in on my way home and see what's up. My heart is light because tomorrow is my studio day, and how I covet those few hours. Like any good Sunday Painter I want to put a few more whiskers on that cat I'm painting!
I've brought along a bottle of (Folonari) Valpolicella in honor of a meeting last week with a friend of 50 years. We drank this stuff together before we were legal, and I'm happy to say it is the same swill now as then!
Aaah!
I've spent many hours navigating this site, and found a lot of information lying around, about its history, its membership..I'm going to sign up again under a new name, to be the 1000th ! What do I win, JP?
I like the naivite abounding here, i like the sophistication. I am pleased to find that nothing changes, yet all is fresh and new! And I like the work! The innnocent idea of the work we all share...
I could get to like this cafe, cheap and dark, as it fills with raucous arguement and noses to punch! So pass around the bottle - it only cost $1.79, and I'll easily earn that from the next sale of a painting!

JP
19 Jul 08 10:55 IST

Actually Jacques (Montel) had mentioned a few weeks ago that we were coming up to the 1000th to join up, and how should we celebrate the event? He met with a roaring response of.. silence (perhaps a bit of shuffling in the background and the odd "Quoi?").
We're all too jaded with just getting through the week with the aim of having some precious hours in the studio (as you so aptly describe) that ideas of festivity don't come into it - we ain't there yet.
Nevertheless, had we the wherewithal, my suggestion for the prize would be:

A night's out drinking with Hillel.

(Personally, I aim to actually get to do that one day).

So if you sign up again to become the 1000th, you might even treat yourself to a trip down the road to Toronto and go knock on his door?

Roll on that next sale!

Hillel
20 Jul 08 01:53 IST

Arnold I really like the way you put it in the artworld according to you, you, you... very succinct and to the point.

Now will someone please tell me how AP is coming up to 1000 members, if you go to "Artists A-Z" it seems to say membership is approaching 600 members. When Jacques mentioned something about it a while back I really didn't understand what he was getting at. Explanations please.

As far as a night's out drinking with me goes... I'm too old for that stuff now, a late night drinking bout would probably finish me off completely. My drinking nowadays is usually confined to the daylight hours so the lucky winner should show up at my door in the morning but not before 8 a.m. because that would be plain ridiculous. What kind of person would start drinking before 8 a.m. it's just not civilized.

JP
20 Jul 08 16:19 IST

The 1,000 are registered users - those who have added some basic details and their email address. They comprise artists exhibiting or not (yet) exhibiting on ap, and others interested in the artworks - as when they register, they can leave comments on the site.

The others you mentioned (actually currently 484) are registered users who are also exhibiting at least one artwork. So we have quite a way to go yet before we can say that we are 1,000 artists contributing to the site with images of our works and our comments.

Nevertheless, reaching the 1,000 registrations (and a couple of months ago 100,000 unique session hits) are milestones that state our presence is slowly but surely growing.

JP
20 Jul 08 20:58 IST

Needless to say, the accumulation of numbers in this sense is meaningless, when what is *really* required is, say, 10 core artists, angry and serious about not accepting the status quo, willing to come together as a unit to withstand, and counteract, the oblivion of being ignored by the (well known to us) all-powerful marketing machine made up of eager-to-please critics and gallerists, whose only goal appears to be financial profit and brushing shoulders with stardom.
How about taking on this charade collectively, about pulling out the stops, about showing what a real, angry, visual language can communicate? Who among us has the balls, and the ingenuity, to work together to take all that challenge on?
Never mind the accumulation of numbers, personally I want to deal with those few among us who are fed up with taking all the crap lying down, and are ready to talk about doing that one deeply-satisfying and meaningful (to us) show that tells them simply - brother, cool it, take a look - this is really where it's at.

JP
21 Jul 08 18:38 IST

Hmm... no reply on that one. Looks like it was a bit over the top as a proposition, for we ever so genteel artistes.
Right then, as the saying goes, if you can't beat them, join them. Let's just open up our own gallery.

Hillel
21 Jul 08 21:01 IST

I love when you've been into the ale and start ranting like a crazed anarchist. I read what you wrote 10 times yesterday, trying to figure out what it is we as a collective can do to challenge the shopkeepers who don't want to stock our particular products because they doubt they can flog the shit. What are we supposed to do, pick a date and declare it "Unrecognized Artists Day" and then simultaneously throw bricks through windows and burn down buildings in 60 different countries?

Today I'm glad to see that you've sobered up, thought the whole thing through in a more reasoned manner and decided that we should open our own gallery. How about a chain of galleries in 60 different countries so we can keep our stuff circulating world wide? Sounds do-able to me.

JP
21 Jul 08 23:00 IST

If it weren't for you, this site would have closed down from boredom long ago. Thank goodness I have you to bother put a few lines together and give some character to the process, even if you do insist on a reality check each time.
Nevertheless, I'd like to take up your point on the shopkeepers. I've a feeling it's not the actual work that interests them as saleable, but rather the whole package of the artist profile - age, sex, race, background, market readiness, adaptability etc. We suspect it's not all about the work, right? Then what I'd like to do is bring those artists who don't fit into the schema, a little to the forefront and show there's quality in them dar' un- (or little-) known artists really. I mean there'e lot's of precedent for this already in history, right? So why not play on that?
Basically I'm saying let's ignore the gallerist/critic path and get a core group to work closely together on a year's preparation for a collective show? The participants should think more about maximizing the effect of the group as opposed to perfecting their own individual pieces. The point is that the show should be a kickass one that will turn heads and get people talking. With all our combined decades of experience, surely we're capable of that? C'mon it's too damn easy to dismiss it out of hand, why not discuss a little more to see if there's a small possibility in the making?

Regarding the opening a gallery proposition, I meant an online one.

Arnold
22 Jul 08 03:49 IST

Boy, try to chill after a fierce weekend, and run into some frikken artiste
trying to flog a charcoal on newsprint!
Look to the music business as analogy.
Now EVERYONE is in a band. Everyone IS a band! All music is available anytime to everyone. The record industry is DEAD! Whether we know it or not, music has gone thru a sea change in the last five years.
Gone is the top Fifty. No more golden oldies, standards or classics. Music has gone truely democratic, and extracted the Capitilist Imperative.
And NO ONE is going to make a nickel off it!
take this as given, and apply it to the visual arts....
Jeez I'm tired...

Hillel
22 Jul 08 19:00 IST

Arnold makes a good point, all these websites and images out there just for the taking. Unlike this one, some with very high resolution jpegs, downloadable and good enough to make decent glycee prints on paper or canvas. Times they are a-changing, the difference in the analogy is that the end result in the visual arts usually (not always) results in a one off collectible object that will always remain a tradable commodity. The music biz will always have its live concerts and performances. To squeeze the maximum amount of loot out of those objects and performances fame will become an even more important factor than it has been.

Now back to Delaney... okay Mr. Democracy, before I even approach certain sensitive concerns and I think you know where I'm heading. And without taking into account the myriad of practicalities and logistics, what do you mean by historical precedents, are you talking about artist's whose achievements weren't recognized during their lifetimes or do you mean precedents for the kind of show you anticipate. Events that turned whole scenes around and gave some obscure artists notoriety? Cool down Arnold, at this point we're only having a theoretical discussion.

JP
22 Jul 08 22:04 IST

I meant the former... referring to the erstwhile unknown artist who's work is 'discovered' to be interesting, a little late in the day.

I just figured that as we're all so wizened and wise with bags of experience to spare, why can't we put a kickass (I like that yankee word) show together collectively - where the show is more important than any single artist's work?

I was thinking along the lines of "Twelve Interfering Artists". The point being that each artist presents her/his project proposal online, for the other 11 to discuss and deliberate, and basically interfere with the original plans to such an extent that in the end (let's say over a year's work online - all well documented) the resulting works are more a result of the combined interference rather than any single approach. I think if we got the right group together, not only the completed work would be worth seeing, but also the website dedicated to the progress of the project. It's taking the basic theme of ap and combining it in a quirky way.


Arnold
22 Jul 08 22:30 IST

Note to JP - Delete button for my half-considered comments.
The 'collective' within my example of the music business would be, i guess, a generation...a great number of people who have re-defined 'success', lowered expectations, in a way, in order to make and share music for sheer joy! We pay for the technology that disseminates, but not for the art itself. And the artists don't care!
Whoa!
In my mind, this paradigm now exists, and grows.
What i am reaching for is a model against which to measure the near future of making paintings and sculpture.
And i'm out of my depth.

Hillel
23 Jul 08 04:06 IST

Keep talking, I think you may have something but you've really got to stick with the concept. Trapani failed because the whole idea of process, theoretically to be documented in the Studio Logs was lost. The Studio Log in effect became a mere ticket for entry and in the end even the slight documentation that did exist plus plenty of bits of dialogue that could have at least realized some aspect of process was not there. The actual hook of the show was not realized, I still think it was a good concept. The problem was and is the effort it takes to document one's own process to keep a visual and written diary day after day. It gets in the way of spontaneity to be so conscious of one's self as viewed from the exterior. Also few artists are prepared to work openly and reveal secrets or perhaps allow the magic to escape through an open studio door. That's why there were in actuality only, if I recall, only 2 or 3 studio logs of merit by artists who can work in that manner because in a way it's part of their own process. The show should really have been limited to those.
This new concept could prove even trickier. On a personal basis The idea of announcing in advance what the project is would be like writing some sort of bullshit for a grant application. My project is always the same, I paint and try to make a better painting than my last one and get closer to what I've been looking for.Yet the idea of interference is intriguing. If I've got you right the participants monitor each others' process and progress, making suggestions and commenting. (Something you can't do right now in the Studio Logs but might be worth considering to make that page more interesting.) Activity like that might just force movement and change of habit and lead someone in a different direction. On the face of it it sounds horribly aggravating and irritating but it does combine the whole AP rationale of process and artist to artist communication. This concept is even more demanding than the first one.

JP
23 Jul 08 06:25 IST

I knew you'd get the picture ('scuse the pun), Doctor Kagan. Only thing is that you wouldn't be allowed get away with a cast-off statement like "I just paint, so that's all". In fact, if you look through the texts of ap, you'll find so much richness in stories of what stimulates you, what doesn't, past influences, personal history, your family etc. All of this will have to come together over the year of interaction with the other 11 pain-in-the-ass interfering artists, to create a fascinating image of the artist today.
You see in reality it boils down to a publicity stunt - at least that's what we'll say to each other as we put ourselves publicly through this collective *Hard Time* (c). Anything else of worth that might emerge will be a plus. I think if we build a good enough site for it, it could become interesting, and maybe we could use it to convince someone to let us do (i.e. finance) that show in Toronto that Hanjo wants. At any rate, we hope it should raise some interest on the internet, for our individual projects as artists, and for the more general project of the artists of ap.

Hanjo
23 Jul 08 18:10 IST

Well friends, what a funny suggestion! At first sight I would answer the same way I did with the Trapani concept. Showing the process? Letting someone into my studio? NO WAY! But as you all know it was Ilona (I think it was her) that asked me why I was so shy to do that, for my very own website for her was just that process thing. I don’t think that it is but nevertheless the idea cought me and from then on I tried my best to make this process documentation become real and interesting. In February 2007 I had an open studio exhibition for to show the Trapani idea and what I had done for it so far. During the two days of that open studio about 120 visitors came to my studio and were attracted by those two studio-logs I had gathered in two separate books. They even sat down to read the entire text! I mean they really took the time to go through it and even asked questions etc. It was fantastic. I hadn’t expected this. Unfortunately (ha ha) one of the visitors was so attracted that he bought my first contribution, the feet inmidst of the tomatoes, right away from the wall.
Okay, what I want to say is that I am very hesitant with the suggested project. But from my experience with what we had in mind for Trapani I am able to imagine that this new idea could become very interesting and challenging. So why not have a try?
But ... I beg your pardon for being rude again ... the main thing will be that we keep our hands on it from the beginning to the end and not delegate it to a so called organizer who has quite different personal interests in mind. It’s true, I loved to have been part of that terrific emergency squad that finally made the show run but I would be perfectly fine without it next time.

karen
23 Jul 08 22:29 IST

I think it could be a good idea, and this interference of other artists in one’s own work and viceversa can be a good stimulus; irritating or not (in fact irritation is a perfect spur that usually modifies something in us )it can generate a subterranean flow of influences from which no doubt we would all be enriched and probably surprised from the resulting works. I wouldn’t mind it at all for I’ve grown accostumed to work with people around me at my studio, but of course I’d rather have the comments of other artists I respect.

Hanjo
24 Jul 08 12:12 IST

John-Paul, the essence of your suggestion seems to be „To create a fascinating image of the artist today“ as you have said. So it will not so much deal with art shown in works but with artists life. The outer circumstances as well as the inner prerequisites.
As far as I know all this has been said already in different comments, forum entries and studio-logs. It’s exactly as you’ve said that „If you look through the texts of ap, you'll find so much richness in stories of what stimulates you, what doesn't, past influences, personal history, your family etc“. So to paint that image of the artist today it would only need some people to carefully scan all these kilometres of texts already written somewhere on artprocess and to find a scheme to systematically organize them. This alone would be a tremendous piece of work to do. But in the end you would have exactly what you are interested in.

Quite another thing is to gather a bunch of artists (I guess you would need some kind of criteria to chose them) and let them work on whatever they are used to do and at the same time let them interfere in each others working process over a years time. And I cannot really see what this part has to do with the first one. Well normally I do 30 to 40 pieces during such a period. So maybe you have in mind only some three or four works particularly produced for this purpose like it has been with the Trapani project. But even then I am very sceptical if this will work. I am not talking about different artistic personalities or just different personalities ... from being very communicative to being loners. I am talking about what making art is in contrast to talking. As we all know there are many different ways of communication. Starting with using words, body language, gazes, vibes or whatever else. And there is music, paintings, sculptures, films, dance, performances etc. etc., the whole range of art. Each one using a different and typical king of „language“ which if translated into words will loose most of their speciality. It’s evident that you cannot repeat a piece of music in just words. With all the other kinds of art you will at least be able to describe what is to be seen ... a very poor substitute only. I guess that the use of these hermetic languages gives art this touch of magic. And even artists are not necessarily able to put in words what they are doing . So what will come out if everything that is done in one of these languages is pulled into the world of words, discussed, critizised etc. And last but not least will put the focus on the theme only for one cannot really discuss the style, the manner, the craft. All this makes me be very sceptical as said in this interference part of the project. But nevertheless why not give it a try just for the fun of it?

Hillel
24 Jul 08 16:30 IST

The essence of JP's suggestion to me is not so much about an image of the artist today but the effect of the interaction of artists as facilitated by this particular website. I agree with Hanjo that much of that can already be witnessed on AP but the "hook" for a show would be the documentation of all that internet interaction and the resulting work from such a diverse and geographically separated group.

My recommendation would be to firstly establish the capability within the Studio Log to facilitate the concept, get it in use and see what happens. My experience has been that curators of the type of public galleries likely to be interested in our venture, pre-plan their exhibition calendars 2-3 years in advance. Our concern at the moment should not be with which institution will host and fund another AP show but just getting the process going to see what evolves.

Keep the process open to all members, forget about a specific number like 12, the interesting interactions and groups will form on their own. With an ongoing process and something to show I think it should be possible to interest a curator from somewhere or other and he or she would be the final arbiter as to who and what gets shown. An independent and professional curator would not only keep the process (for us) democratic but they would obviously have their own agenda and the ability to mount and present a professionally produced show. In any event it's an interesting experiment.

JP
25 Jul 08 07:40 IST

I want to step away a moment, and take a look in from the outside. The artists are complaining that their work isn't getting the deserved attention and credit they think it merits. Nevertheless that doesn't stop them - they keep churning out their works month after month - hopefully to sell them, but that doesn't always (or often) happen either. Looking around the internet, it's much the same story - mountains of art being created by serious, well-meaning individuals on high-quality websites, so much so that in the end one gets bleary-eyed looking at the sheer volume of the countless images. In fact, they all tend to blend into that monotonous experience of looking at the third-hand: computer-rendered images of photographs, of artworks.
To counteract this bland surfing experience, I would propose to setup a project that intead gives an insight into the working and playing lives of the artists themselves. So instead of just the image of the work, there is some collective discussion and banter going on between the artists, that amply encompasses and includes their daily life - all to make it that much more interesting for the casual viewer.
To the artists, I say guys, lighten up - this is a marketing exercise, don't be so defensive. The project shouldn't be the usual life-and-death debate, but much more relaxed and spontaneous, less important within your oeuvre. You've got to look at the whole (i.e. the project), how it is shaping up, how to make it more attractive for the client (your internet viewers, and eventually organizations that will finance a real show). Your individual contribution should'nt be your goal but instead how all the contributions come together to make a potential whole. Naturally, the fact that it's a marketing exercise shouldn't be communicated either (you gotta fake it a bit), and let's run with what happens naturally at ap in a stop-start, not very cohesive fashion, and put it into a more controlled structure, governed by you, with a view to the audience?
Evil-of-evils I hear you cry! Yeah, it is a bit. I wouldn't pollute ap.net with it, but would instead put up artprocess.org, which I've been thinking could be a container for organized events and online projects like this.

JP
26 Jul 08 15:27 IST

Er.. is this the silence when, up for blasphemy before the Spanish Inquisition (High Art section), and I, accused, say "C'mon guys, cool it, let's all just chill out here a moment.." ?

Or is it just that everyone's at the beach?

Maria
26 Jul 08 16:22 IST

Be patient J.P!
I, for one have been working like hell.


I have been absent for a few days while organizing an event here and I just read all this today. I am trying to form a clear idea of this proposal, which I think is the fruit of the initial idea of this artist to artist communication project of ap, and of course the reason why I am here with you guys.

As a first approach on my part, I would like to say that what bothers me in today’s art scene, is that there is far too much chit chat and image making and marketing in the expense of the actual work of art. To such a point that the essence of the work, where it comes from and why it looks like what it does, is forgotten. Which in turn, drives the public away from art, as something that is practiced by a bunch of conceited fruitcakes who live in a world of their own, with no real contact with reality.
Having said this, I tell you that I don’t care about the artist’s profile. What I deeply care about is find a way to show how an art work is born and what factors interfere with its realization and its final form. The interaction between artists is fundamental and inevitable. It happens as we speak, even when we don’t know it does. I would be very interested in recording this. I think it would be a perfect way to show in what way an art work is the meaningful product of live interaction between the artist and his/her environment and peers. It might help show how “meaning” gets into works of art and the difference between a meaningful art work and any other product (however exclusive or expensive or impressive) one can buy, two things that the public seems to mistake for one another, especially because of the fact that the art market treats the works of art the same way as any other object that works as a status symbol.

I am not sure I am making sense. I hope some of you might agree with me.

So, I tell you how I imagine this new project: each and every one of us starts one or more works and tries to document his/her thoughts while uploading images of the process. I would make an application where each member would have a personal studio log on their page instead of a huge studio log page for every one. Then we could start commenting on the work we feel we have something to say about and each artist can talk about which comments and how have influenced his work (a sort of blog apart) and of course show how the work has changed or not because of this. We don’t have to be theoretical about it. Just record our feelings and thoughts. A simple “…this idiot the other day said I should make it bigger. So I decided to make it even smaller!” will do. This can go on for a year or so and then we see what works have been made. Without having predecided on “what I will show in this show” like we tried to do for Trapani.
Then, I agree with the idea of an independed curator who would sort all this out and help chose the works and documentations that make the point of this interaction clearer and help find the best way to exhibit this whole idea.

Focusing on the actual works is I think what is missing nowadays. We must remember what making art and not marketing is all about. Sales might follow but this should be the result of meaningful art production and not only marketing. I don’t think marketing is evil at all. On the contrary, I practice it to some extent. But it cannot be the motor for doing what we do or the work dies. After all, getting this message across is the best marketing you can get. You will have convinced your buyer of the quality of the product…

Hillel
27 Jul 08 24:38 IST

Aye Jae Pea, ye hae awaket us all frum the deepe slumbre tha hae descent upon us. Whye hae ye dun it laddye?
Oops sorry, I get in these moods when I've been drinking a wee bit too much of the scotch whisky. Your last words were so awe inspiring yet confusing that, as you can see, everyone was struck dumb and confounded. Maria makes some good points and suggestions but I don't think we're quite getting the idea and how it would work. We've all been trying to fit it into the AP we're all accustomed to which as your talk of AP.org (?) attests to is not the idea.
You've plainly got something in mind so why don't you just get on with it? Lead the way Oh Great and Terrible One and we will surely follow ye (oops).

JP
27 Jul 08 11:25 IST

A couple of points Master Hillel, 1. - I ain't no leader, you all know that, and I don't intend to take up that role, and 2. - would you ever keep away from that scotch stuff, but instead take a sup from the well of purity of the Irish? Sure with taking the Irish whiskey, doesn't the clarity of mind descend upon you in all it's glory, that renders the universal understanding deep within, such that no manner of quizzical complexity brought before you cannot go unresolved?
And now back to our topic of discussion. OK apologies for any confusion - all I meant was, whatever form of project we eventually come up with together, let's not start with the premise of how it might useful for our own work, instead I suggest we talk about making an online website that'll be an interesting place for the casual viewer to go? Let's make an "experience" rather than a show of works.
It should be relatively easy for us to do. We know how ap works - let's now use the idea in a context of marketing.
Taking an example, remember Hanjo on his vespa in the studio, or preparing his studio meal of wine, olives and prosciutto? I think that idea of focus on the issue (the upcoming show in Italy), and sense of humour worked well. I'm not saying we should all become comic actors, but that fact that he was able to lead the viewer into context, in a way that maintained interest, and gave a picture of the playful side of the artist, meant that he guaranteed himself returning visitors curious to see what he was up to next.
The same with Hillel - he makes movies with words, and has us all waiting for his next update, that'll make us laugh or cringe, or both. Once again, we return to read his latest.
Fortunately, both of these guys happen to be good artists too - so they really give good value to the viewers of ap (I suppose next they'll be demanding a fee from me for new updates - as they bring so many people back to the site!).
I would like to make a container full with all that kind of richness that gives a three dimensional aspect to the making of an artwork. I'm saying we should dedicate some of our creativity into the manner of presentation, and not just the work itself. If anything, for this project, the presentation should - in our collective mind - be more important that our individual pieces. The goal will be that the project is the product, and that it could then become a "saleable" item i.e. attract the curator's interest in organizing a proper show.
The idea is that for this project you have to think like Saatchi (as you know he made his fortune in advertising), and not like one of his empire of artists.
Am I making myself any clearer, or just stirring those murky waters?

...Maybe I'll be needing a drop of the Irish after all.

Hanjo
27 Jul 08 16:06 IST

Hanjo:
Well, with or without Irish Whiskey (I will remember having one when being in our Irish Pub round three corners next time for some guinness) I have the feeling of finally getting the point.
So at least it would mean that there should be a fresh studiolog section for this project only and not mixed-up with the one setup for Trapani. Opposite to Maria’s suggestion I would prefer to have it just the same way. For only this gives me the chance to stumble over something I haven’t expected. On the other hand there should be the possibility to comment on the entries so a kind of forum should be included. How to do this technically is a question I cannot answer for the only thing I know about weepsites is how the word should be written properly. Just as a question I would like to ask if it would be possible to include a part where small videos can be shown, so that perhaps one could upload something that shows how one is working or sleeping in the studio. But maybe that’s just too elaborated or difficult to do.
Anyway, it looks as if it is up to John-Paul now to create the tool for to start the experiment. By the way, thanks for the kudos.

Hillel
28 Jul 08 07:27 IST

It's too bad that items get lost in the back pages and can be missed so easily. For instance I just checked out the studio logs to see what Hanjo had been up to there because it was mentioned here. Great stuff... very interesting but it's the first time I've seen them because I don't go to the studio log pages unless I see something on the home page that sparks my interest. Obviously if I notice that my pal Hanjo has made a new entry I'll check it out. If someone else comes along and makes another entry then that appears on the home page knocking Hanjo's off before I notice it then I'll just plainly miss it. The same thing with comments, although in time because I visit the site usually once a day and take the tour I'm likely to stumble across something I should have seen earlier. Of course one thing I'm never going to miss is "The Best of The Forum" because that stays on the home page for months and even years helping to keep the page lively and interesting.

There must be a way to set up on the home page a recent activities box. This site having a much slower pace then some others would allow for items listed to stay on the home page for quite a while. Sometimes traffic is so slow it could be a good long while, i.e. (date, time) Hanjo added a new Studio Log "Compensation", So and so added a new work/s (title), Arnold added a new entry to "don't bother knockin', etc., etc.. You get the idea and of course all the listings maybe 6 or more are hyper-links to the location. (Maybe it's too difficult, like Hanjo I know nothing about website technicalities.)

But I digress... so Hanjo and Hillel, two geezers are going to carry the day and entertain you all. I've got great hopes for Arnold (another geezer) and of course those two big mouthed broads, Maria and Karen but most of the the youngsters you can't yank a word out of 'em for love or money. And just one other thing J'ais Pis, "cringe" ... "disgust" and / or "nauseous", definitely but "cringe" "CRINGE!!!! (I'm hurt)

Hillel
28 Jul 08 07:28 IST

It's too bad that items get lost in the back pages and can be missed so easily. For instance I just checked out the studio logs to see what Hanjo had been up to there because it was mentioned here. Great stuff... very interesting but it's the first time I've seen them because I don't go to the studio log pages unless I see something on the home page that sparks my interest. Obviously if I notice that my pal Hanjo has made a new entry I'll check it out. If someone else comes along and makes another entry then that appears on the home page knocking Hanjo's off before I notice it then I'll just plainly miss it. The same thing with comments, although in time because I visit the site usually once a day and take the tour I'm likely to stumble across something I should have seen earlier. Of course one thing I'm never going to miss is "The Best of The Forum" because that stays on the home page for months and even years helping to keep the page lively and interesting.

There must be a way to set up on the home page a recent activities box. This site having a much slower pace then some others would allow for items listed to stay on the home page for quite a while. Sometimes traffic is so slow it could be a good long while, i.e. (date, time) Hanjo added a new Studio Log "Compensation", So and so added a new work/s (title), Arnold added a new entry to "don't bother knockin', etc., etc.. You get the idea and of course all the listings maybe 6 or more are hyper-links to the location. (Maybe it's too difficult, like Hanjo I know nothing about website technicalities.)

But I digress... so Hanjo and Hillel, two geezers are going to carry the day and entertain you all. I've got great hopes for Arnold (another geezer) and of course those two big mouthed broads, Maria and Karen but most of the the youngsters you can't yank a word out of 'em for love or money. And just one other thing J'ais Pis, "cringe" ... "disgust" and / or "nauseous", definitely but "cringe" "CRINGE!!!! (I'm hurt)

Hanjo
28 Jul 08 09:12 IST

Hillel, you once again hit the nail upon it’s head as we would say here. Very goooood suggestion. Unlike you I do not look up ap every day. I simply do not want to get these rectangular eyes from looking on a computer screen all the time (my granma told me that this would happen for to push me out the house saying go play with the mud instead. So it happened that I got knowledge of the brand new and very interesting topic on the forum page only weeks later. An activity box oh my that would be sooo nice. And thanx Hillel that you posted it twice making it as important as possible!

Hanjo
31 Jul 08 08:53 IST

He used his last reserves to slam the heavy door behind hin and sank to the floor absolutely exhausted. Every single breath filled his lungs with pain. He’d never run that fast. Everything was in turmoil outside. This upheaval he couldn’t stand no longer. It was like hell. But finally he made it, he’d reached this shelter. He was safe.
When the pain in his lungs slowly faded away he turned around to lie on his back more comfortable. Here he could sleep for days he knew. If only no one of that Kagan gang was showing up. He carefully listened but no noise, no whisper, no nothing. Not even a mouse. He calmed down. My what a peaceful place this was. Artprocess it was usually called. He had no idea where that came from but nevertheless this was like heaven. No one would ever disturb him. And he sank into slumber with a smile on his face ...

JP
06 Aug 08 21:41 IST

OK Following on Maria's suggestion to put references to the studio log in the artist's gallery, and Hillel needing more forum and SLOG history on the homepage, and removing the fixed pick of the forum. I thought they're probably good suggestions and so I made the changes as they weren't so difficult to do.
Let me know if anything breaks because of the updates please.

Hanjo, reading your recent studio log "what's coming next?" I get the feeling your alter ego is trying to tell you something. I reckon she's saying:

"Keep away from those guys - it'll just mean more trouble - don't tell me you've forgotten already?"

Hillel
07 Aug 08 01:16 IST

Sorry folks, I've been indisposed. Hanjo I enjoyed your prose above, I'm not sure what you're on about but you've got real style as a writer. I've just looked at your latest studio log project that gives us an advance sneak, peak of your take on JP's latest idea and you're not only a good writer but a producer, director and cinematographer as well. My feeling is that you should go off to Hollywood and join the ranks of Julius Schnabel, David Salle and Robert Longo of painters turned auteur filmmakers. I've also noticed the changes to the home page... very lively! "Good work!" to one and all.

By the way (this should probably go on the bugs page but I'm here already) about making that posting above twice, when I clicked on "reply" after making my comment an "error something or other" came up instead of the usual "thanks for your reply!" so frantic that I shouldn't lose my daft comment I went back a page and thankfully it was still there so I sent it again, later I noticed I had sent it twice.

JP
05 Dec 08 22:52 GMT

I've just re-read Hillel's opening message to this thread. It's become so much more meaningful after viewing the interview he mentioned (currently available) at the following URL:

LINK

Consider watching the videos and re-read Hillel's comments, and let's discuss more... we've not exhausted this topic yet, by any means.

Hillel
12 Dec 08 24:59 GMT

Much of Bacon's work has a sexual charge whether the imagery is explicit or not and I think that's the reason it's fascinating. Actually it was the work of our very own Hanjo Schmidt that twigged me to contemplate the nature of what I call "charged work". I liked a sense of perverse sexual energy in his double female paintings. I know he has made statements against what he calls "pornographication" of the nude in art and I believe he's sincere in what he's said however it's my own perception (viewer's prerogative) and I found it very interesting.

Then I thought about other artists of interest in that regard like Schiele and Freud. With Freud it feels more repressed and for me the work is more perverse than Schiele's whose work is much more sexually overt. Then again maybe in Freud's case it's just a contrivance of some kind because his name is "Freud" but I really don't believe that. Pornography bores me but there was a certain charge to early porn right up to the 1950s when it wasn't so formulated and explicit. What I've become interested in is what it is that creates a charged image. Going back in my mind to areas of my own experience I've been experimenting with the pieces I call "The Intimate Moment".

I'd be very interested in getting Hanjo's opinions and feelings about the big Bacon retrospective that he recently attended at the Tate and I thank him for being the inspiration for my latest work and for the postcards from London.

Hanjo
12 Dec 08 05:47 GMT

Oh it would have been much better to ask me what my opinions and feelings were about that almost countless amount of backs and backs of heads of all kind. Of course it was packed on Saturday and Sunday. But as I could see on Tuesday and Wednesday as well it was packed the same way every day. So in the end I had to attend one of the early morning viewings for members only, to learn that there were various paintings hanging on the walls.
Well, first of all I sensed this extraordinary sacred atmosphere this man creates with his paintings. And it’s not only the use of triptychs or the massive golden frames the paintings are in or the sheet of glass in front of every one of the extremely sensitive surfaces. It also is the colours, in particular the orange red and black, the presentating composition, the powdery surface of the paint, the mystery of the theme and the hint at martyrdom that produces this sacred air. So this declared lifelong atheist (god bless him for that) creates more of a sacred fluidum than the catholic church and Rothko together. That’s impressive. By the way, in the Tate Modern there is this big Rothko retrospective running simultaneous and you can experience that Bacon was absolutely right in saying that Rothko makes you depressive and not elevated or whatever.

Okay, let’s skip Freud and Schiele and jump directly to that questionable remark Mr. Schmidt once made somewhere. As far as I know it was not about „pornographication" of the nude in art but about „pornographication" of the human body. And I slightly have the impression that there is some kind of difference in it.

I don’t think that the depiction of the nude in whatever explicit state is pornographic in the sense of how we use that term nowadays. And it’s very clear that from the very beginning of art the depiction of the nude always had a sexual connotation concealed with alegoric and mythological themes. And all of this is pretty much okay even though for me it is a bit boring after all these centuries. And if somebody finds that in a still life the combination of a tomato and a toe are sexually charged why bother? What I was talking about some decades ago was the fixation of the body as a sexual thing ONLY, which consequently in the end leads to headscarfs and burkas and separation of the sexes and this I think is highly pornographic.

Well, as a sculptor (what I actually am, the painter is only camouflage) I’m interested in the design of the human body. Just have a look at a simple leg, it’s incredible. And as a painter (what I actually am, the sculptor is just a reminiscence) I’m interested in the surfaces of things. So that’s why the sexual connotation in a nude is not that interesting for me and not my theme. But if even that comes out as being sexually charged for some viewers ... why not? By the way, for me not the depiction of the naked body is that exiting but situations. That’s why I prefer texts more than images.

Okay, now I have to look for some breakfast.

karen
14 Dec 08 09:37 GMT

I read your comment on Bacon, Hillel, and agreed with you, although I think the intense air that one senses in Bacon's paintings is not only because they are "sexually charged", but because one feels to have entered a forbidden territory common to all of us, but horrifying in what it implies, we look , we participate, we remain silent in the same room where something terrible has happened , or is about to occur.It has to do with the animal part of ourselves that we don't like, but are certain to have. Violence and sex have always been related.
The way in which his figures are caged under a potent light makes me feel not only their being alone but also being exposed, exposed to my gaze, I feel the voyeur and the torturer at the same time. And the terrible doubt , why do I keep looking at it??? arises. These and many other uncomfortable images of oneself float in his closed rooms like a magnifying mirror and this makes us all confront an idea of ourselves that has nothing to do with the image of rational humans we try to display daily. Bacon in its contained images, or in the most explosive is saying "this is what we are..." we like it or not, admit it or not, it is the truth. He once said " (..) the greatest art always returns you to the vulnerability of the human situation." When I see his paintings they always impress me and make me think how fragile we are, and how complicated .
I am looking forward to see the show here in Madrid in February, and take a close look at his portraits, not for the colours, not for the design but for what he thought connected his work to Velázquez and Rembrandt, "the fact that every successful portrait contains a reminder of death: "you feel the shadow of life passing all the time" .

Hillel
15 Dec 08 01:05 GMT

Karen, I think you're bang on in your assessment of Bacon at his best and you've said it beautifully. When an artist has had the impact that Bacon has I think it's important to try to understand what it is that gives power to their work. Not for the purpose of emulation which particularly in the case of Bacon would be a ridiculous endeavor but for the purpose of growing one's own art. What comes across to me in our discussion here is that the best art comes from one's own life experiences. The thing is to be honest and true to oneself. Matisse for instance was obviously not an angst ridden person but he painted what was for him of intense interest or pleasure. Some people may trivialize his art as sugar coated confection but he produced a great amount of diverse and honest work. I recall visiting the MoMA in NYC and coming across his paintings The Red Studio and The Piano Lesson and receiving that same jolt of surprise I felt when I first saw Bacon's Three Studies for Figures at The Base of a Crucifixion at the Tate. Obviously no two artists could have more different natures but to quote Hughes "the shock of the new" was the same and I believe both artists wanted to create beautiful, luscious work. Bacon does have that extra charge of (as you say) violence and sex. That was the nature of his life, you can't fake it.

To come back to something I said at the start of this discussion not everything Bacon produced was of equal quality, he self admittedly produced plenty of works that missed the mark, as do all artists, especially the successful ones who are under pressure to produce great amounts of work to meet market demands. After a while they start parodying themselves and there's no doubt Bacon did that but he certainly produced more than his fair share of memorable works.

Arnold
20 Dec 08 06:12 GMT

Hillel has shown me his, so I've got to show him mine...I've uploaded some old stuff on the studio log site, (tho I'd like to be able to use a photo with a comment ANYWHERE on this site, JP!)
I hope I've been provocative in my selection! I'd certainly like to offend somebody...in the artworld we have always had one theme and one thousand opinions!
Well, that's it. My feet are on the table. I'm getting pleasantly intimate with a bottle of French Cabernet, thinking about tomorrow, a Studio day, when I get to put some more touches on that vase of sunflowers I've been painting.

Hillel
21 Dec 08 01:03 GMT

Thanks Arnold, that's what I was looking for, all that oozy, dribbley, painterly type stuff and from what I could see they look great. More Rauschenberg, Johns and even Rivers than I would have thought, your process and inspirations are interesting to me. Why not upload those images and more with (if possible) some better quality 150k jpegs into your portfolio so we can enlarge them for a better view and comment on them individually.

I see no one has made comment on "10000 Faces..." yet. I posted it not only because I thought it was a loving portrayal but you bring up some issues that haven't been covered yet on AP. I'll give it another day or so but if no one else comments I'll have to bore you all once again with my personal insights.

JP
21 Dec 08 11:16 GMT

I'm very eager to listen to Anna's broadcast however I'm a having a bit of a technical glitch as the audio for that page isn't working for me. I'll try later when my son finishes his stategy gaming on his fancy new computer to see if I can listen to it there.
I hear Arnold's suggestion for the possibility to make comments. It's not the first time either that it's been proposed. Originally, I had figured the studio log to be just the artist talking his audience through the evolution of the making of an artpiece - a place where the artist wouldn't be interrupted, with enough silent space to concentrate on presenting the process. I'll have to review that when I come back to doing the next version of that part of the site.
In the meantime, I tend to agree with Hillel that the "upload artwork" (LINK) area is more suitable to presenting finished artworks (dimensions, materials etc). There the work gets added to the general bank of art images that appear randomly on the site, are sent as email images to the artprocess community, and are resized for viewing in different contexts. You also have the possibility of adding and responding to comments.
It's not related to the discussion, but I'm currently working on adding an artist event section which is basically the same sort of idea but with a slant towards exhibitions, one-off projects, past shows etc.
Thanks again to Hillel for pushing Arnold to upload those earlier paintings along with the very interesting introduction to each.

Maria
04 Jul 09 18:49 IST

I am thrilled.
Is anyone of you familiar with the work of William Kentridge? Well, I wasn't till I saw sculpture, drawings and film of his, last week in Athens.
Wow. It changed my life again. Look him up if you don't know his work. I'd like to talk about it.

fotini
06 Jul 09 10:52 IST

I have watched a number of videos of Kentridge's work on y-tube this morning ,thanks to you Maria.And yes it is wonderful to discover an artist like that,a good word for me to describe him is humane.How was the rest of ''Heaven'' ?

Maria
17 Jul 09 19:47 IST

I don't think I have seen Heaven. I saw the whole of the Magic Flute live, which is devine, and I got a big book on his work with a DVD showing parts of his studio work and the film Tide Table which is also wonderful. I think I will be looking for more literature on his work. Isn't it something else when the element of time and music are bound with drawing?