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a blog of painting, abstraction, and contemporary art
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the met to show pictureses of still life and interiors – what are they thinking?¿?

 Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867-1947) / White Interior / Oil on canvas / 109.5 x 155.8 cm

Pierre Bonnard (French, 1867-1947) / White Interior / Oil on canvas / 109.5 x 155.8 cm 

So your editor awoke this morning and was going through that google reader thing, because really what else is there to do on a Saturday morning, and there was this fancy picture by french that degenerate artist with a trembling eyeball and wet dog shaker Pierre Bonnard, and well he’s got those pretty colourses so I stared blankly at the screen for a few minutes and was like, ok what the hell he did put that cadmium yellow on the wall and in the woman’s hair so he must be crazy and that chair on the left really keeps the white wall from flying out of the canvas which means he probably knew what he was doing unlike some painters I know. Plus his composition is like a how to on how to divide up the space to create a firm foundation on which to smear all those pretty colourses. Anyway, that ultra-reactionary institution for rich old people, tourists, and your editor (shhhh….i’m that creepy guy in the corner with sloppy cloths and a sketch book watching everybody while I steal from the picturses), the Metropolitan Museum is putting on a show of these pretty pictures in january because they think it’s better for you to come and pay them to stare at the light of these pretty colourses in your track suit amidst the smell of old people than to sit at home popping the xanax in front of your sun-lamp trying to get over your mid-winter depression because Madoff stole all your precious monies because you didn’t give it to the Met to name a wing after you. Anyway, here’s some stuff from the fancy press release written by a curator in a brooch or bowtie since that’s always what they wear over there otherwise you can’t get in the door, unless of course your in a nylon track suit and speak some fancy language that isn’t ENGLISH…wait how come the let me in???

More modern than is commonly recognized, the late work of Pierre Bonnard is remarkable for the artist’s individualistic approach to color, light, perspective, and composition—particularly as seen in his interiors and still lifes [ie, he didn't know what he was doing, if only he followed the book then we wouldn't have to put on this show for you people who like to smoke the ganga and look at colour, and we could go back to looking a fat naked pasty white people].

Bonnard’s late interiors and still lifes explore a multitude of nuanced color relationships among glowing yellows, violets, reds, oranges, greens, and whites

Although Bonnard’s subjects were close at hand, he rarely painted directly from life, relying instead on pencil drawings sketched rapidly in little diaries. Four of the artist’s diaries from his years at Le Cannet will be loaned by the Bibliothèque national de France, Paris. The diary notations lay out idiosyncratic marks as reminders of color, tone, intensity, and contrast. These shorthand sketches were critical to the genesis of large-scale paintings, which Bonnard developed slowly, through a process of continual editing and revision. He often worked on several paintings at once, tacking the unstretched canvases to his studio wall in order to allow for alteration of the periphery of the painting and its overall proportions. In creating his paintings, the artist deferred to the memory of perception. His interest lay in exploring how diverse objects interrelate within a pictorial field, rather than dwelling on the literalness of any object or figure.

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December 20, 2008   No Comments

towering spaciousness

We can’t really talk about colour without talking about and looking at Hans Hofmann. Here is a piece called Towering Spaciousness from the Brooklyn Museum. In this piece Hofmann uses both colour intervals and overlapping planes to create a sense of expansion and contraction in the painting. Each colour relates to every other colour in the painting, thereby determining its relative location in space within the painting. The result is that none of the planes sit in exactly same place in space. The rhythm and movement of your eye as it jumps from plane of colour to plane of colour, or we could say the expansion and contraction of the planes of colour, work to create the sense of an open towering spaciousness within the canvas. Hofmann called this idea, his “push-and-pull” theory, which he wrote about in the book Search for the Real. So, it is the movement of colour/the movement of the eye that creates the illusion of space in this painting, not scientific perspective, which is what Hofmann spent years teaching his students. For me, what’s really interesting, is that when I stand if front of a painting like this, not only do I see the towering spaciousness of the canvas but I can feel it in my body, it’s a viceral physical feeling, something I don’t feel in front of the best realist paintings with precise perspective.

Hans Hofmann (American, 1880–1966) / Towering Spaciousness / 1966. Oil on canvas / 84 1/4 x 50 in. (214 x 127 cm) / Brooklyn Museum, Gift of William Sachs, 68.51

Hans Hofmann (American, 1880–1966) / Towering Spaciousness / 1966. Oil on canvas / 84 1/4 x 50 in. (214 x 127 cm) / Brooklyn Museum, Gift of William Sachs, 68.51

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December 18, 2008   No Comments

Yi School – 30 Years of Chinese Abstract Art

Because of isolation lasting centuries, Chinese artists have developed their own world of images, without connections to what is produced in Europe and the United States. The case of the Yi School is highly significant. Although it was born at the margin of the abstract art and conceptual art that have dominated the Western art world in recent decades, it maintains points of contact with these two. It is art lived as an experience of retreat and meditation that explores contemplation, unity and harmony. The extraordinary development of the People’s Republic of China in recent years and the opening of new pathways of communication and business with the West have stimulated the world’s interest in Chinese culture.  After its presentation in Barcelona, ”la Caixa” Social and Cultural Outreach Projects is taking to CaixaForum Madrid the first major exhibition of the Yi School outside China, organized jointly with the Beijing Municipal Bureau of Culture and the Beijing Culture & Art Foundation. The exhibition introduces eighty-two works by forty-eight Chinese artists of the last thirty years, divided into three periods. Yi art from the Cultural Revolution (1966-1976) until the 1980s is characterized by an idealized humanism in opposition to the revolutionary slogans (Yi xiang, “mental image”). The second period is when art at a time of urban and cosmopolitan expansion recovers private spaces and incorporates Eastern symbols and writing (Yi li, “mental principle”). The third period, Maximalism (Yi chang, “mental environment”), arose at the end of the 1990s and devotes its main attention to the process and the context of the art work.

A few months ago, to coincide with the opening of a Representative Office of ”la Caixa” in Beijing, an exhibition of fifteen works by international artists from the ”la Caixa” Foundation’s Collection of Contemporary Art was put on at the Beijing Art Museum of Imperial City. The Yi School: Thirty Years of Chinese Abstract Art represents its counterpoint. It is designed to bring the general public in our country closer to an artistic school that has had decisive weight in Chinese plastic art from the 1970s until now and to make the work of some of today’s leading Chinese creative artists better known.

The Yi School is defined as an artistic tendency in China, based for the last three decades on the aesthetic essence of Yi. It is distinct both from contemporary literature and conceptual art and from Eastern abstract art. In Chinese aesthetics, Yi does not mean just subjective thought, even though it is a fruit of our mind. It is not precisely equivalent to the terms concept, idea or significance, but represents a state of contemplation and meditation by creative artists, the way that artists or poets think about their surroundings or observe them. In this respect, the Yi School is the artistic style best suited to expressing meditation.

If we think that Yi is related not just to the thought of the artists, but also to the real environment and the objectives of meditation, the Yi School cannot be defined by any modern Western concept such as realist art, conceptual art or abstract art, even though it may look like all these tendencies, especially abstract art. In reality, the Yi School brings together almost all the characteristics of these three tendencies without restricting itself to any one of them in particular. This responds to a norm that has always governed traditional Chinese aesthetics, to stop art becoming excessively diverted towards the extremes.

In terms of expression of Yi, the artists have focused in different periods on different aspects of Yi. For example, at the end of the 1970s, during the Cultural Revolution, a series of non-official artists sought individual freedom in opposition to Mao’s propagandistic art. In this context, the Yi School focused on the search for individual expression and for “pure art” against “conceptualized” political art. The Yi School was expressed in the aesthetic form of Yi xiang or “mental image”. Artists sought unity and harmony between concepts and objects of nature, during the process of thinking about and observing the external world. Then the representatives of the Yi School at the end of the 1980s paid greater attention to expressing their ideas about the way to reform reality and cultural modernity through cultural signs. In this period, the Yi School defended symbolic concepts, the essence and start of an ideal culture and society. As such, the Yi School during this period is called Yi li or “mental principle”. Thus the Yi School of this epoch represents Yi Chiang or “mental environment”. Creating works of art is equivalent to meditating in a private space.

Yi School – 30 Years of Chinese AbstractArt
4 June – 21 Sept 2008.
Av. Marqués de Comillas, 6-8

Read a nice review of the show at Blog on Art in Barcelona

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November 18, 2008   No Comments

oranges sardines and inspiration

I love to eat oranges and sardines, though I’ve never had them together, but I keep coming across stuff about this show at the Hammer Museum. Sharon Butler wants to go and notes we don’t get any good images on the Hammer website.

From Ed Schad:

We don’t discuss inspiration openly anymore. Inspiration is much like the word “beauty.” We use it among ourselves, in the studio, and most have an inherent sense of what it means, but we don’t discuss it – you won’t find an Artforum piece on inspiration, you won’t see a symposium on inspiration. I admit thinking about inspiration is at times difficult for me. For instance, I remember studying Brice Marden in depth, with all the commentary about modernism, surface, and the painting support only to go to Marden’s artist lecture to hear “The Olives!! How wonderful they were, as I looked on them that day in Greece.”  {Read More…}

From Christopher Kuhn:

Conversation got a little heated around this last point, specifically between Von Heyl, who believed the sublime has something to do with contemporary abstract painting (what, I am not sure) and Amy Sillmann who more or less told her she was full of shit (but in a more polite way). I completely agree with Amy here, that the sublime is a crisis that occurs upon discovering a phenomenon that cannot be explained rationally. Now I have never been to a museum of gallery and found something on the wall that I was unable to explain how it possibly could exist. Typically, the answer is something along the lines of: it’s paint, or that’s a photograph. Sometimes art is tricky, sometimes things appear to be other than they are, but never in my experience have I found a work of art to be crisis inducing. Now, the word “sublime” is also used vernacularly to mean “awesome” or “great.” It’s fine to use the word in this way, but don’t then pretend that it has some deeper philosophical meaning, cause it doesn’t. {Read More…}

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November 14, 2008   No Comments