Showing posts with label picasso. Show all posts
Showing posts with label picasso. Show all posts

Thursday, October 23, 2014

extraneous work (4): writing about art, art contemplation, teaching art

my other dutch blog is called beeld en wereld (image and world; `beeldenwereld' means `world of images'). it started out as a blog containing notes for the art contemplation course `beeld en wereld' that i taught to art students at the unitacademy nijmegen. now i also use it infrequently as a personal blog for typically dutch art affairs. the course notes `beeld en wereld' cover a very broad range of subjects, and i am planning to translate some of these subjects to put up on this blog. one central theme is the dynamic relation between inner world <--> outer world, which i believe to be especially relevant for artists. the course notes also contain some art history, art philosophy, and guide questions for artists.

schema 1 beeld en wereld
scheme of inner world <--> outer world, interfaced through language, image, story with several feedback loops.

i do not think that many contemporary artists write as much about art as i do, although like i said earlier there are quite a few artists who write or have written more. my art blogs attract a fair number of visitors (over 400,000 visits in the past 6,5 years, not much in web terms but not a dry stream either). but the amount of feedback given is very little. it often feels like i write in some sort of empty place, with an occassional casual visitor. therefore it is quite uplifting to see that my students and some visiting artists are really interested in the course topics and the illustrations that i prepare for `beeld en wereld'.

also, the course has really helped me to gain insight in the myriad constellations that occur when considering the interaction between myself as an artist and the outer world. what role suits me, what roles are possible, viable, sustainable, what roles are in vogue; what reactions can be expected from various sources; different looks at market forces, what are the roles of art in our and other societies, current and past..etc. etc.

to me art contemplation encompasses everything from art itself to art history, art sociology, art psychology, artist's psychology, artist's development (technical, themewise, (non)pictorial, society-related, businesswise...) and what you can come up with.

i have found that such art contemplation is often sorely lacking in curricula or art discussions, whereas especially to the artist her/himself it can be very uplifting and helpful to understand the complex mechanisms that surround the various worlds of art. from the inner world of the artist to the outer world of society in general.

it is also very uplifting to me to see that other artists have worked on these issues as well:

diego vélazquez, las meninas
las meninas by diego vélazquez

in interpretation las meninas has more layers than an onion...many of those touching on inner world <--> outer world. please follow the above link to wikipedia and read about this painting, if you are unfamiliar with it. interestingly it also touches on the relation between vélazquez and his commissioner king philip iv of spain. this relation must have been excellent, just looking at the artistic freedom vélazquez was given for this portrait.

this most famous painting has inspired many other artists, writers, philosophers through the ages. such as picasso who in 1957 painted 58 different versions:

pablo picasso, las meninas 1957
las meninas by pablo picasso

joel-peter witkin, las meninas
las meninas by joel-peter witkin

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

finishing/restoring old work: pre-academy days

gambler ~ frank waaldijk
gambler (own work, 1982-2013, 64 x 91 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

the original painting `the gambler in the city' (see below) was made in 1982, when i was still in high school. i had just returned from a one-year exchange program in minnetonka, minnesota (1981-1982). before starting in minnetonka high school i had already decided that i wanted to become an artist. therefore i took all sorts of classes that weren't available in my dutch high school (vwo science), like oil painting, lettering and calligraphy, photography, film. since the classroom for oil painting was open all day, i spent about two hours a day in there, for a year, taught by my wonderful teacher richard cunningham. he, being impressed with my work and dedication, pushed me to apply for an art academy grant in the united states, but i wished to go home.

at home in the netherlands i didn't have a studio, and nowhere the necessary finances to use oil paint. i just was drawing all day and making sculptures, and then i decided to use cheaper outdoor paint for painting. in the painting you can see that i was already then fascinated by ways of depicting faces in a non-standard manner. picasso was a great inspiration for me, although i never became a real cubist.

but i was never really satisfied with the painting, the left-hand side was unconvincing and the colours weren't really what i wanted. however, for being 17, i was still happy with having painted such a face at all, and to develop my skills in any way possible. then a dear friend of mine took a liking to the painting, and for more than 25 years it stood or hung somewhere in his apartment. this was largely a boon, since some other works from that period have been lost over time, but the downside was that i never got around to really finishing it. a few years ago he returned it, saying he had lost his enchantment, partly due to its state of deterioration. this was not hard to understand. the painting had lost its lustre, the paint had faded and accumulated dirt/dust, and in my eyes it never was a very good painting to begin with, except for the face.

the gambler in the city~ frank waaldijk
the gambler in the city (own work (now lost due to reworking), 1982, 64 x 91 cm, click on the image for an enlargement).

so i told my friend: `i will restore the painting, but it will become very different. i will restore the lustre, but i also have to improve everything, from composition to colour etc., yet at the same time i want to retain its basic quality, if possible.' for the past 3 years i have been slowly working on a remake, the finished result which you see above. i found it hard to retain the buildings, their integration was already a problem when i started the painting. so i decided to simplify, and portray a gambler amidst another major addiction: alcohol.

all in all it was a painstaking process. nowadays i usually paint very differently, and i finally decided to blend the two styles, but this is not so easy as one might think. the result however gives me joy: i feel i have finally finished the original painting in the way it deserved to be finished.

[ps: by the way, my canon refuses to capture the colours of `gambler' anywhere close to accurately. it remains frustrating how badly affordable technology manages to handle colours. not only cameras, but computer screens as well. and many many people don't even notice. isn't that something...as an artist i'm always trying to achieve colour depth, colour life, colour tensions, colour harmonies. but who really notices? i like to think that some of my efforts go a long way with some people. it is probably too optimistic to expect that many people would notice.]

Sunday, December 2, 2012

old and new worlds, experiment, picasso, african art, el greco

self-portrait exploring new worlds ~ frank waaldijk
self-portrait exploring new worlds (own work, 1987-2012, 45 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement)

[also see the previous post] technical, emotional and psychological experimenting, trying to get to the essence. this work i started when i was in art school (art academy utrecht). almost needless to say, my teachers often didn't quite get what i was driving at, although they thought my work of high quality.

for them, any work i made was to be seen as an exercise, something to repeat at least 10 times, so that they could comment on every stage, and understand where it came from and was headed. for me, i was doing what the title suggests, and for me this is not served by studious repetition.

therefore i still have unfinished works from that period, works that i spent quite some time and effort on then, but was unable to bring to any satisfactory conclusion. in the past 10 years, i've been finishing a number of these `old' works, since nowadays my direction is clearer and my skills have improved.

this also reflects on how i see an artist's development: there is progress, but early periods have their own psychological merit and need not be discarded for lack of skills. on a different scale, i feel the same way about (art) history in general. modern art is all very fine, but... again like i wrote a few posts ago, perhaps george steiner was right in saying that our civilization is past its prime [in a 1989 dutch television series `nauwgezet en wanhopig']

steiner illustrated this feeling with comments about picasso, saying that picasso in essence only commented on the great masters of the past. so let's take a look once more at picasso's inspiration sources. perhaps i mentioned african art earlier on this blog?:

picasso en afrikaanse kunst

but did i mention its influence on les demoiselles d'avignon, the famous painting that picasso worked feverishly on for months, with hundreds of prepatory sketches? (and which he would not show)

picasso, les demoiselles d'avignon
pablo picasso, les demoiselles d'avignon

but one also discerns the catalan-romanic art influences from medieval times.

another major inspiration for les demoiselles d'avignon was the following masterpiece of el greco:

el greco, opening of the fifth seal
el greco, the opening of the fifth seal of the apocalypse

a painting which could have been painted yesterday as far as modernity and experiment goes, but which stems from the beginning of the 17th century, in the last years of el greco's life.


Wednesday, September 30, 2009

beauty & the beholder: picasso in cathedrale d'images

beauty is in the eye of the beholder...

and there is -my grumblings aside- still a lot of beauty to be discovered in art, and in contemporary art.

for me personally however, i find that i seldom have this breathtaking experience anymore, that i sometimes had when younger, on encountering some (for me) extraordinary piece of art.

not that i have lost the experience altogether, it just has become quite exceptional. so it was a real pleasure to rediscover it at the cathedrale d'images in les baux de provence (south of france), in the light show dedicated to picasso.

the show, taking place all days this year 2009, is displayed inside the completely darkened old bauxite mine, and is accompanied by various pieces of music. it is looped, and takes around 50 minutes from beginning to end. i watched it twice, and i thought it was amazing. on all the walls of the mine as well as on the floors, simultaneously, images are projected, accompanied by very suitable music.

the directors/artists obviously have taken a lot of time to consider how to present and to transform picasso's imagery into a spatial and sensory experience. (they are named on the cathedrale website: gianfranco iannuzzi, renato gatto, massimiliano siccardi and marco melia)

if by chance you are anywhere in the neighborhood, don't miss it!

cathedrale d'images, pablo picasso
(right mouse click `view image' for a better view)

i was taken to the show by the excellent guide barbara dumont, a national tour guide for france and fluent in four languages. warmly recommended.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

eve & adam 2, art, spirituality

frank waaldijk, the creation of adam and eve
the creation of adam and eve (own work, 2005, mixed media on paper)

i'm still neglecting this blog, for which i apologize (especially now that the blog attracts well over a 100 visitors a day). however, my other blog pitfalls of spirituality deals with about 16 subjects [19 pitfalls as of may 2009], of which i have now covered more than half. so in due time i should be back here with full attention.

actually, this split attention touches on the question what one can perceive as the role of art, and of artists, in society. my other blog deals with pitfalls of spirituality (see previous post for a link). but i find that out of this blog, images are coming to me, drawings, sculptural ideas, which perhaps carry a much directer message. which is critical in nature, just as the blog.

on the other hand, a lot of what i think of as `positive' spirituality has been playing a large role in my work ever since i started out as an artist, over 25 years ago.

and i would like to think that art can play a role in our uplifting. both emotionally, by providing beauty, solace,... and spiritually, by appealing to the level where we feel connected to other human beings.

therefore, art confronting us with suffering or abuse of people, might touch us in a way that a written report cannot. also,as another example, art showing the loving equality between woman and man might give some counterweight to all the stereotyping which we are confronted with from advertising and other outer-wrapping oriented endeavours.

this is my hope. i also believe it to be (and to have been) the hope of many other artists whose work can be classified as `spiritual' or `drawing on spiritual values'.

pablo picasso, boy watching woman
pablo picasso, boy watching woman (details unknown to me)