16 December 2014

Jackson Pollock, Emily Kame Kngwarreye, Ian Fairweather and John Olsen
















Curious to say the least, looking at these images together. The top two are Pollack, the third is by Emily Kame Kngwarreye (who began painting when she was 80 years old) the next three paintings are by Ian Fairweather, and the last is by John Olsen. All these painters  are Australian except Pollock. 

Initially, I was interested in just placing two images (Pollock and Emily) but then one of my favorite of Fairweather crept in, then  another and another. Olsen was added at the end.

These are images which share a great reverence for spatial unity. This is a very 20th century idea but one which can also be related to many images from previous centuries but this is more complicated to explain.

In the meantime, enjoy!



15 December 2014

Thorsten von Overgaard in Rome with a Leica


A Life With Leica from Northpass Media on Vimeo.


on the contemplation of suffering




I met this poor dog in the heart of Katamandu a few years ago. And, I met some pretty sad-looking creatures there during that visit. Between all the apparent human suffering in Nepal it seemed almost ludicrous for me to focus on the dogs of Katmandu, but that is what happened. I ended up just taking photos of dogs everywhere. Not many people had much sympathy for them, probably because being a Buddhist country they believed that dogs were payback for earlier lives lived in sin or sumptuous decadence. In any event I became obsessed and was on the lookout for them. I heard of a western woman who had created a sanctuary for them but I never met her. My friend who lived in Katmandu told me that her house was teeming with all sorts of dogs and cats in various stages of hospitalization and recovery. Rolling her eyes, she described seeing one dog which was missing its back legs and was scooting around on a skateboard. 

This poor thing (pictured above) broke my heart completely. Two of its legs which had ben broken had evidently set at odd angles so it hobbled around in a kind of stoic daze. I managed to find a small 'store' and picked up boxes of dry crackers which I mixed with water in my hand to feed it. It was delirious with delight, but of course I had to walk away afterward, quietly weeping all the way back to where I was staying. 

Thus, I have never quite forgotten this little dog (his photos are on my desktop) which seemed to have accepted its own condition with stoic resolve. If only I could learn this for myself as I contemplate "my own suffering" and that of so many others around me in the western world. How does one survive the great pains of Life only to be swallowed up by our own suffering, and adding our own story to it, which as the old wise guys say, is optional.

Welcome to Christmas. 



12 December 2014

fire truck



The small girl in pink
Imitates the fire truck
Wa wa wa wa wa.


10 December 2014

Einstein on God



'I believe in Spinoza's God, who reveals himself in the lawful harmony of all that exists, but not in a God who concerns himself with the fate and the doings of mankind.


I am not an atheist. The problem involved is too vast for our limited minds. We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many languages. The child knows someone must  have written those books. it does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn't knowwhat it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see the universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws but only dimly understand these laws.'


07 December 2014

Katy Perry and Vincent Van Gogh!



I watched a documentary on Katy Perry this week and found myself bewitched by her crazy and likable personality. Yes, its bubble gum pop and show business but I understand why she has captured so much adulation with her young fans. She touches them. I cannot really judge the music as it is way out of my cultural realm but I am sure that she has enormous poetic talent. What intrigued me is that she is so successful precisely because she has touched so many young kids. She gets them, they get her. They love her just as much as they love her music.
And after watching this documentary I can understand. She is a live wire of eccentric joy and angst, an iconoclast in a conservative and conforming world. She is really unlike so much else out there, and she doesn't try to be anyone else like the corporate music industry demanded.

Anyway, I write about her because the 'commodity of her music' is the opposite of the commodity of the Contemporary Art market.
The people today who buy pieces (over a certain price) are only in it for speculation, and most  probably oblivious to, or uninterested in even liking the work itself. It is an object, 'a commodity', like a treasury bond; a bar of gold, certainly an asset class in itself. 

And, as a painter who travels alone in a world of  obsessional research, the work is often particular, and hopefully original. The audience for painting is tiny and limited to other obsessional people who wish to live with a pictorial poetry. Who really likes painting nowadays? Who needs painting? What is painting, in fact? And, who are the fans (to put it into laymen's terms)? The painter himself, cannot indulge in any illusions about his own social importance because there is none realistically speaking. He/(she) plods ahead like a poet to paper into the unknown guided only by the mysterious scent of possibility. For most there is no fan base. So, I return to my amazement at the way Pop works in our culture today. Katy Perry and her work are both adored.



04 December 2014

Judith Scott




I had never heard of this incredible little, stooped woman who died a few years ago. Her acceptance and success in the Art world asks many to think hard about what it means to 'be an artist' or 'to live creatively'. I haven't a clue, but I love that she made these strange and personal pieces, and I am moved by her. There is so much 'Art' made by so many 'overly-educated' yet, under-cultured and eager people wishing either to make a buck or find meaning for themselves in a complicated world. Judith was shielded by all those complications.


30 November 2014

John Carter of Mars



I know,... I know, yes, it was panned by the press when it came out, and it was ridiculed by many, but I take the contrarian view after watching it the other night. Expecting a joke, I was pleasantly surprised because, as a crazy film adventure, it actually works in an even crazier way. I think it is saved by its own natural camp, and its lack of any pretension which seems to haunt so many sci-fi films of recent years. Nor does it suffer from that moronic sentimentality which plagued The Lord of the Rings (and neither, does it generate a headache from so much CGI (computer generated graphics) which left me feeling dizzy and cheapened watching it).

I could never make it through Star Wars so many years ago because I also found it so moronic but in that dreadfully smug Hollywood kind of way. It had a kind of antiseptic chilliness about it which never touched me.  
Too very slick like so much from Hollywood. And yet, I know that the story was supposed to be one of heroic Greek stuff lauded by the great Joseph Campbell, but, non! non! de tout!

Now, John Carter does not pretend to be a anything but a romp; a weird campy lark between comic book pages so unabashedly stolen from another era completely. The story is so wacky that it actually works. It manages to pass through unscathed, that delicate and surreal zone which can make or brake our tolerance in Sci-Fi. I found myself completely unhinged from reality after just 10 minutes into it. Embracing its abstraction it stays true to its B-movie integrity. I think what really saves it from many possible disasters is that the main characters play it cool and, they have a certain likable charisma, not a wink, but a subtle smile to the audience (and each other) as if to say: "Isn't this pretty wild and crazy?" without an cheekiness visible.

So, my advice is to watch it with the kids, or just alone, with a large bowl of chocolate ice cream, fudge, and sprinkles on top.


29 November 2014

palm


Sometimes I wonder-
Do I want to plant palms trees
Or be painting them?


25 November 2014

morning piano



Summer crickets
Keep time with the metronome-
The morning piano.



21 November 2014

Emilio Ambasz (architect 1943- )


"In reality, some images or drawings have a greater impact than many buildings that are built."



13 November 2014

Giacometti's Comet....(!)





A remarkable achievement landing a 7X7 foot spacecraft on Comet 67P/Churyumov-Gerasimenko. And what photographs taken from the mother ship 'Rosetta'! (These come from the NYTimes article today)

In the lower photo is the comet, and the tiny speck of white to the right is the lander named 'Philae' (after the Egyptian island below Luxor I presume, and Rosetta after the small city north of Alexandria).

To travel all that way only to find Giacometti(!)



12 November 2014

my favorite things (Delacroix)




These images have always been close to my person, wherever I have lived; sometimes pinned to the bathroom wall, at others, on top of the piano. The portrait above is a photo from a book taken many, many years ago and has suffered from coffee stains and fly dung, and  yet, it has survived. And what beauty! What life in it! They are both watercolours, and were done somewhat early in his life. 


11 November 2014

jasmine


My neighbor's jasmine 
Sweeter
Than the neighbor.



09 November 2014

fun with mushrooms

Terry Riley forever from cloudsandsea on Vimeo.

Ki no Tsurayuki




'Poetry in Japan begins with the human heart as its seed and myriad words as its leaves. It arises with when people are inspired by what they see and hear to give voice to the feelings that come forth from the multitude of events in their lives. The singing of warblers in the blossoms, the voices of frogs in the ponds, these all teach us that every creature on earth sings. It is this song that effortlessly moves heaven and earth, evokes emotions from the invisible gods and spirits, harmonizes the relations of men and women, and makes serene the hearts of brave warriors.'


from the introduction to the Kokinshū, an anthology containing twenty books of poetry (A.D. 915 -920).

  Its color fading
with no outward sign
  in this world-
the flower
of the human heart.

Ono no Komachi (A.D. 834 - 880).


I wonder why so much celebrated 'avant-garde'  'cutting-edge' Western art of our time seems to mock and denigrate Beauty? Would it not be possible instead, to shock people by Beauty in the world instead of its horrors? I do not speak of a sentimentalization in front of Nature (of which we are also inundated) but of finding a way through to Beauty using metaphor like so many Japanese poets and artists. How can we (in the West) learn to show reverence for Nature instead of hating it and by doing it without sentimentalism?


07 November 2014

chemin du Chateaunoir (bashful)



I recently came across this lovely, small painting which was sold to a friend in LA more than 20 years ago. I had always regretted not having a photo of it, but in those days, (and none of my friends now would believe it) I didn't take so many photos of art work. This was done around 1995, when I hardly signed anything, just a tc at the lower left. I was so bashful!
My painting has taken a different direction but in my mind, always, I still see Nature in its most abstract form no matter where I am.  



03 November 2014

W B Yeats



'We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric,
but of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry.'



25 October 2014

Hokusai and Hiroshige forever


“From the time that I was 6 years old I had the mania of drawing the form of objects. As I came to be 50 I had published an infinity of designs; but all that I have produced before the age of 70 is not worth being counted. It is at the age of 73 that I have somewhat begun to understand the structure of true nature, of animals and grasses, and trees and birds, and fishes and insects; consequently at 80 years of age I shall have made still more progress; at 90 I hope to have penetrated into the mystery of things; at 100 years of age I should have reached decidedly a marvelous degree, and when I shall be 110, all that I do, every point and every line, shall be instinct with life — and I ask all those who shall live as long as I do to see if I have not kept my word.”
A friend in Paris told me there is a large show at the Grand Palais of Hokusai's work which is up till January. This quote (above) of his came from a NYTimes article from this morning which celebrates the work of artists who do not retire but flourish in their golden years. I admire the work of Hokusai but I really love Hiroshige.



17 October 2014

Fog horns


Fog horns!
Each morning I hear them:
The neighbors' cows.


16 October 2014

04 October 2014 (Philipp Glass)

150 X 150 cm
Here is a (sort of) new painting reworked 2 weeks ago. I wasn't happy with its corners so I created those blue edges. I rather like now. It is from a series done a few short years back when I was looking kind of calm image of meditative substance; nothing special, just a backdrop sort of experience, a bit like listening  to Philip Glass in the aftermath of sunset. It is a bit odd that he, who makes music like molten glass, should have a name such as he does, non? I am suddenly reminded about such people, and such names; there was a curator in the Medieval Armory wing at the Metropolitan Museum a few years ago; and his name (I swear it) was Helmut Nickel!



09 October 2014

Dumber and dumber still (ha ha)


More and more, I find myself surprised at the nonchalant destruction of grammar and syntax in our great language. It seems so prevalent, and it drives me crazy. The most obvious misuse of tense involves inserting the third person single into a sentence when its the third person plural which is called for. Everyone does it these days and it can be heard both on the street and on television. George Bush famously mangled his sentences (there's,.. you know,.. whole terrorists out there that'll try and kill us, you know.. over here)

We were taught (some of us anyway, and I didn't go to Harvard) that nouns like books or terrorists (with an s) are plural and should be used in the third person plural. (i.e. Here are the books.... there are the terrorists) We live in a world where it seems perfectly normal to say: 
Here's the books,,, there's the terrorists
instead of the correct: here are the books, and there are the terrorists.

I confess that it drives me CRAZY....
But even worse, people no longer correctly understand the use of direct or indirect objects, and don't even don't really care. So, when I tried to watch a video of an interview with a successful artist (who got an MFA from Yale University b.t.w.), I was astounded by his incoherence. Here is just a fraction of an idea, (and actually, even if his grammar was correct (and his verb tense was right), I still wouldn't have a clue what he was trying to say.) 

here it is (verbatim):



the successful artist:"I don't draw,,,, I've always done collage instead of doing drawing ...and,,,  photography ... I was looking at this photography book that was a photographer who had went to India and had photographed Indian prostitutes and Indian Brothels and ..ah,,,and the photographer was an American...... and that sort of objectification,... we don't do really do in painting anymore like since Gauguin or something, right,,,ah...but we used to do it,,,but we don't do it in painting anymore so in painting now,,,,, if you see a painting of an Indian woman,,, its a good chance that an Indian woman actually painted it...ah... so I was interested in what we might have lost in painting by rejecting that idea of objectification...



interviewer: mmn...


the successful artist: ah,,, and I guess in painting we have more self-objectification where I make paintings of people just like me....

WTF!



08 October 2014

Imran Qureshi











'And they still seek the traces of blood,2014 (Site specific Installation/Performance at Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve) 

These photos were sent to me by my friend Virginia Whiles. This is 'in your face Installation' which somehow finds a perfect home in the Bibliotheque Sainte Genevieve. in the very center of Paris. I cannot count on my left hand just how many cities would welcome such a piece.


04 October 2014

sand and wind alone



I came across this old photograph from the late 1970's of a very small painting I had made on South Beach at Fisher's Island NY circa 1975. Actually, I think I gave it to François de Asis shortly thereafter. What surprises me is that in it are essential elements of what I am still after 40 years later. It is a surprise to see that I was as interested in a kind of 'emptiness' then, as now. Actually, in those days, I felt invisible in my personal life, so it is not surprising that it 'fit ' with my growing obsession of unobtrusive images. It isn't just made up of such minimal means of paint. But too, a drawing which appeared like a phantom made of just sand and wind alone. It is a dune with a small jetty at the end which separates it from the palest of skies. The 'light' in the sand just below the accent of the jetty is stronger than the pale sea and  heavy sky hanging overhead which giving it tension. Funny that I not only like this small painting, but I am moved that it was given to me to make.


03 October 2014

die and fall

Its October; the season when things die and fall to the ground.

01 October 2014

plus que ça change,.....

Some friends of mine made this years ago, it has, ahem... an eternal quality about it.

Ad for french Yellow Pages from Les Films Associés on Vimeo.


29 September 2014

a rare gem


For the life of me I cannot recall just where I found this little gem. It's such a subtle thing of rare beauty; as if it could slip easily through one's clumsy fingers and be lost forever! Certainly though, I took this photograph from a catalogue in France this summer, wanting to steal it, and lock it away in my soul forever.


5 year old - 5 seconds

5 Second Vimeo Challenge from PitchBright Shorts on Vimeo.

26 September 2014

Stefan Zweig on Paris 9 (et, enfin, la dernière! promis!)


'For decades, only a tiny elite knew anything about Claudel, Péguy, Rolland, Suarès, and Valéry, Alone among the people of this busy, fast-moving city, they seemed to be in no hurry. Living and working quietly, for a quiet life without raucous publicity mattered more to them than thrusting themselves forward; they were not ashamed to live in a modest way so that they could think freely and boldly in their artistic work. Their wives cooked and kept house; it was a simple life and so their friendly evening gatherings were all the warmer. They sat on cheap wicker chair around a table laid with a plain check cloth- nothing grander than you would have found in the home of the workman on the same floor of their building, but they felt free and at ease. They had hop telephones, no typewriters, no secretaries, they avoided the intellectual apparatus of propaganda; they wrote their books by hand as writers did a thousand years ago, and even in the big publishing houses such as Mercure de France there was no dictation and no complicated machinery. No money was wasted on prestige and outward show. All these young French writers lived like the people of France as a whole, for the joys of life, though to be sure in their most sublime form, joy found in creative work. These new friends of mine, with their straightforward humanity, revised my ideas of French writers; their way of life was so different from that depicted by Bourget and other novelists at the time, to whom the salon meant all the world! And their wives taught me a great deal about the shockingly false picture we had gained at home, from our reading, of the Frenchwoman as mondaine bent only on adventures, extravagance and the sight of her own reflection in the mirror. I never saw better, quieter housewives than in the fraternal circle- thrifty, modest, and cheerful even in the most straightened circumstances, conjuring up wonderful little dishes on a tiny stoves, looking after their children, and at the same time in sympathy with their husbands' intellectual interests. Only someone who has lived in such circles as a friend and comrade knows what the real France is like.'




25 September 2014

Stefan Zweig on Paris 8



'Such friendships were granted to me, and the best was with Léon Bazelgette. Thanks to mu close connection with Verhaeren, whom I visited twice a week at St Cloud, I had been safeguarded in advance from being caught up, like most foreigners, in the dubious circle of international painters and men of letters who frequented the Café du Dôme and were really much the same wherever they went, in Munich, Rome or Berlin. With Verhaeren, however, I came to know those artists and writers who, in the midst of this lively and opulent city, lived in creative quiet as if on a desert island with their work; I saw Renoir's studio, and met his best pupils. To all outward appearances the life of the Impressionists whose work now fetch tens of thousands of dollars was just like the life of the petit bourgeois living on a small income - a little house with a studio built on it, none of the showy splendors of the grand villas imitating the Pompeian style favored by Lenback and other celebrities in Munuch. The writers whom I soon came to know personally lived as simply as the artists. Most of them held minor public office in a job which did not call for much strenuous work. The great respect for intellectual achievement felt in France, from the lowest to the highest ranks of society, meant that this indigenous method of finding discreet sinecures for poets and writers who did not earn large sums from their work had been devised years ago. For instance , they might be appointed to posts as librarians in the Naval Ministry or the Senate. Such employment  gave them a small salary and not much work to do, since the Senators did not often want a book, and the fortunate occupant of the benefice could sit in comfort in the elegant old Senate Palace, with the Jardin du Luxembourg outside the window, spending his working hours getting paid for it. Modest security of this kind was enough for such writers. Others were doctors, Duhamel and Durtain later; who ran a little picture gallery, like Charles Vildrac; or like Romains and Jean-Richard Bloch taught in grammar schools; they might keep office hours in  a new agency, as Paul Valéry did in the Agence Havas, or be assistant to editors in publishing houses. But none were pretentious enough to base their lives on the independent pursuit of of their artistic inclinations, like those who came after them and had inflated ideas of themselves as a result of films  and large print runs of their works. What these writers wanted  from their modest posts, sought without professional ambition, was only a modicum of security in everyday life that would guarantee them independence in their true work. Thanks to that security, they could ignore the huge, corrupt daily newspapers of Paris, and write without any fee for the little reviews that were kept going at personal sacrifice, resigning themselves quietly to the fact that plays would be performed only in small art theaters, and at first their names, would be not be known outside their own circle.'