Monday, July 12, 2010

some drawings of this year 1

i'm always drawing. but drawing remains an undervalued art form. invariably, for exhibitions, paintings and sculptures are favoured. still, drawing to me is like poetry, and it is definitely a continuous source which pours over to painting. enough said, i'm just going to put up some pictures. (you can click on them for larger images.).

by the way, i invariably find drawings to be difficult to photograph well, my cameras nor my scanner are able to handle the contrasts and subtle whites and tonings that typically occur in a drawing. so although i put in quite some effort, the result is not as accurate as i would like it to be.

la gomera, drawing, own work
la gomera, mixed media on paper (own work 2010, 20 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement).

vision of st. francis, drawing, own work
vision of st. francis, mixed media on paper (own work 2010, 20 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement).

i found my love in a corner, drawing, own work
i found my love in a corner, waiting -though we did not know it at the time- for me, mixed media on paper (own work 2010, 40 x 30 cm, click on the image for an enlargement).

here i stand head in hands, drawing, own work
here i stand, head in hands, mixed media on paper (own work 2010, 30 x 38 cm, click on the image for an enlargement).

taking care of the psychiatric patient 1, drawing, own work
taking care of the psychiatric patient 1, mixed media on paper (own work 2010, 30 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement, i'm not satisfied with this reproduction's colours).

taking care of the psychiatric patient 2, drawing, own work
taking care of the psychiatric patient 2, mixed media on paper(own work 2010, 30 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement, i'm not satisfied with this reproduction's colours).

the false guru and his Divine Energy, drawing, own work 2010)
the false guru and his Divine Energy, mixed media on paper (own work 2010, 15 x 10 cm, click on the image for an enlargement).

self-portrait as you crying over me, drawing, own work
self-portrait as you, crying over me, mixed media on paper (own work 2010, 30 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement).

self-portrait cruising down the styx, drawing, own work
self-portrait cruising down the styx, mixed media on paper (own work 2010, 30 x 40 cm, click on the image for an enlargement).

not all art is conceptual

oh very well, so i was wrong. i should have said `all referential art is conceptual' or something like that. or (anyway, most interestingly): `all figurative art is conceptual'.

and still that would miss the mark of accuracy, since a substantial part of art is about the direct (mostly visual) experience. which is not always referential i believe (although there might be scientific debate on how much referential activity goes on in the brain when looking at art), and indeed there is in our time quite some art which is completely about the direct experience. one could call this experiental art, let me look up this term to see if it has been coined already.

so it would be perhaps not so interesting but more accurate to say:

most figurative art
has a large
conceptual component

but this type of statement obviously has far less appeal than postmodernized statements like:

not all art
is conceptual
(but this is)

anyway, to continue where the previous post left off, why coin the term `conceptual art'? this term is generally reserved for art which is mainly conceptual, meaning that visual referentiality, artistry & craftmanship play a lesser role than in other art.

in the most extreme cases, the conceptual artwork is not even physically realized, other than as a description of a physical possibility (perhaps even impossibility).

as an example, below ralf kwaaknijd's conceptual artwork `touch mahal':

`A large army transport-helicopter filled with crude oil flies above the Taj Mahal, and spills the oil on the white dome. Riots break out, the clean-up is lengthy and difficult.'

kwaaknijd himself says: "This artwork targets the vise of religion & capitalism in which the world is held, ultimately leading to strife, war, poverty and global pollution. Black-and-white thinking blocks any serious effort to address these global problems. And we are content to let the status quo continue, until some catastrophy forces us to act."

For some other interesting examples you might want to check out Monochrom (or not, then sorry!).

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

all art is conceptual

once again (like in `conceptual art vs. beauty') the title says it all. but my students still liked me to explain what i mean with:

all art is conceptual

oh very well. i'll try to explain what i mean, even though the nature of the postmodern fashion of vagueness and quasi-profundity is such that one doesn't of course explain anything about quasi-profound statements, one just adds to them with new quasi-profound commentaries. once again i forsake my chances of ever becoming a successful postmodernist ;-)

so why is all art conceptual, imnsho? because, as i see it, any art work references our human existence, our human experience, our human views and emotions, our human maps of reality and fantasy and ...

in other words, as wittgenstein pointed out so obviously and yet so beautifully in his tractatus logico-philosophicus:

wir machen uns

bilder der welt

literally translated: we create for ourselves images of the world. the meaning is to me, that any image that we create of the world, is by necessity a conceptual reference. it is a map, pointing to something in the real world, the direct world (like the direct beauty i talked about in the previous post). somehow we humans have the capacity AND yearning for developing references, communicating such references, analyzing references etcetera. you could say there is a fair risk that we spend most of our times poring over our maps of our worlds...and forget to go out and experience these worlds directly.

therefore to me, what distinguishes art from nature is its referential character. precisely this referential character is what makes all art conceptual. so why coin the phrase `conceptual art'?

(to be continued in the next post)

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

hard-won beauty, direct beauty, conceptual beauty

so, let's forget a moment about conceptual art...even though all art in a way is conceptual imnsho (in my not so humble opinion), which i'll comment on later.

more interesting perhaps to talk about hard-won beauty.

why not simply beauty, why this `hard-won' adjective?

to me, it is what distinguishes great art. when i'm walking in the forest, i come across all sorts of plants and trees which i find utterly beautiful and amazing. daily, i see people whom i consider very beautiful, each in their own way. i find many beautiful wonders in this world, all created by nature. zebras, swans, snakes, you name it. the sea, the forest, rolling grassy hills, the sun, the stars,...

and i would not trade this type of direct beauty for all of the world's greatest art works. but still, these (what i consider great) art works do have something special, something that their makers have worked extremely hard for, a different type of beauty...perhaps i should call it conceptual beauty, because these art works refer to our very deepest concept of beauty.

and other emotions as well.

anyway, here below a most remarkable painting which i consider to fulfill all of the above:

salvador dalí, christ of st. john of the cross
salvador dalí, christ of st. john of the cross (click on the image for an enlargement).

perhaps i will discuss it a little bit in the next post.

Monday, June 28, 2010

conceptual art vs. beauty 3

it is easier to criticize than to create, i believe. but since i am an artist myself, creating is not my problem, although it can be arduous and painstaking at times.

still, criticizing other artists is not my favourite pastime. i prefer to criticize museums, galleries, popular media, society, god, the world, the moon, the climate, my family (in private), etc...

even when i do not really appreciate a work of art, usually i try to find some merit in whatever effort has been made by the artist. but also i have these recurrent episodes where i berate myself for being altogether too soft and clement, and i find this to especially occur when i have seen yet another `great' work of conceptual art in which the contemporary art scene is being ridiculed or in which some other shallow message is being heralded as the ultimate in the artistic development of man...

and my god, these conceptual people are everywhere! perhaps not so amazing, since any halfwitted primate can come up with some superficial `shocking!' `mocking!' `rocking!' concept the depth of which leaves us all agape! like having a gallerist walk around for a month in a costume resembling a penis...well, NOW we're talking art!

oh no, frank, you misunderstand. it's not a teenage prank, it is a criticism of the fact that the modern art world is ruled by teenage you see it's much deeper than it might seem, and you have to see his whole oeuvre, which is all absurdistic and criticizing and well, so FUNNY!

actually i don't mind humor one bit...but does one classify the superficial jokes of a stand-up comedian as great literature? i KNOW that stand-up comedians are more appreciated than great literature, and i even do not criticize this, but i do mind if the library starts to get filled with the collected jokes of john howards and howard johns the extent where i cannot get a real modern writer any longer.

and this is what is happening in my perception in the art world. conceptual art is an easy way to facilitate the take-over of art by entertainment. i like entertainment to a liberal extent, but i dislike entertainment being more important than real issues.

now i remember that i made two conceptual sculptures which probably would illustrate some of my point (i'm working on numbers 3 and 4, but i've been at them for 3 years now and they still aren't anywhere near completion). perhaps i'll put them up in the next post.

conceptual art vs. beauty 2

ok, i admit it, the previous post was another cheap stab at conceptual art. yet the title does say it all, doesn't it?

the thing is, i'm feeling overbombarded with conceptual art lately. and too much of too much seldom does much for me. another issue that i'm having with conceptual art lately is that it really is all too easy to create something with a superficially semi-DEEP MEANING, if you know what i mean...and i'm just bored with all this DEEP MEANING stuff.

still, I'm also bored with all the meaningless postmodern vagueness that seems to be another vogue these days. one sees a face, painted with dripping paint. it is a face of a young woman, but there is no real expression, because it's really only a double set of lines, executed in paint, yielding an unclear double image. the artist shows (s)he can hold a brush, follow a smooth curve with them, and let the paint drip down a bit...and still create the suggestion of a face...well, all very nice and technically up-to-standard i suppose, but what is it about? why should i spend time looking at it?

neither of the above vogues (conceptual art and postmodern vagueness) seem to care much for hard-won beauty. by hard-won beauty, i suppose i largely mean what robert pirsig calls quality. but let's call it hard-won beauty for a change.

hard-won beauty in a painted or drawn face...what does that mean to me, then? stuff for the following post.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

warning! conceptual artwork below:

conceptual art