30 January 2014

great books #4 (Where the Heart Beats by Kay Larson)

This is a good read for anyone interested in one of the greatest cultural shifts in America of the last half century. I confess that I still don't know what to make of Cage. What I mean by that is that I haven't completely emotionally connected with his music or his art work. That said, he still fascinates me because of his relentless quest into the inner world of creativity, his searching beneath the subterranean world of an America of indescribable material achievements during this period. Of course, he knew 'everyone', a host of characters who were also exploring this terrain under the radar of popular culture. What was his legacy? I guess I'll know more when I finish this enjoyable book. 
More to be revealed.

28 January 2014

Jenny Bell, Australian painter

I have seen Jenny Bell's painting here and there over the past few years and they have stayed in my memory. (These are awful reproductions as it is difficult to find any with a decent sized resolution on the web)

These things remind me of certain works by Milton Avery. He, too, seemed obsessed with the subtly of Nature in the landscape. And, he possessed enough talent to compress it into a delicate abstraction in a most modernist sensibility. Jenny Bell has a wonderful sense of color which depicts the Australian landscape with a graphic truth. These are painter's paintings, and I mean by that, that she takes the risk of failure. She does not make pretty images for the public. She loves painting more than she loves Nature which is the way I believe it should be for an artist. I would like to see them in real life. I especially love the larger painting of the barn (in snow?) which has the clearest resolution. It is a sublime image.

27 January 2014

Dan McCarthy (untitled facepot #25)

So, wasting I don't know how much because I didn't pay attention on a recent Art Forum Magazine I felt like a sucker. There was little content inside (what was I expecting after all?) and it left me feeling cheap and empty. I did however fall on this facepot, as it is called, by the artist Dan McCarthy in between a million pages of advertisements. Somehow, it summed up for me the state of modern man as hapless bystander.

More will be revealed.

23 January 2014


Afternoon rain-
Smell of semen 
In the bush.

22 January 2014


An old man envies
The bamboo shoot.

20 January 2014

Sidney Nolan (Ned Kelly series)

A month ago I went to Canberra to see the National Gallery of Australia. It is an oversized building which does not lend itself to exhibitions, and I thought it badly organized as well. The closest comparison would be the Musée d'Orsay, which of course was a re-configured train station. And given its restraints, it is a far more successful museum than this elephantine building in Canberra. However, I only want to share images of Sidney Nolan, not offer a critique of the National Gallery of Australia itself. 

Sidney Nolan (1917-1992) Born in Melbourne, he lived and worked there until 1952 when he moved to London where he eventually settled. He was a prolific artist and a painter who has grown in my esteem over the past few years. Here is a series of paintings around the theme of Ned Kelly who holds an iconic stature here in Australia. I like that he seems to pull technique from anywhere, and everything. Without prejudice he arrived at a kind of personnel expression which defies category. In fact there is something in his expressive faces which remind me of Piero della Francesca curiously enough. Its a kind of scratchy obsession which penetrates past an academic training.

photograph by Nolan of a desiccated horse during a draught.

13 January 2014

Half hidden

Half full
Half seen-
Frustrated moon.

10 January 2014

treasure hunt!

TREASURE (03.00) from Oliver Murray on Vimeo.

Joyce Cary (Art and Reality)


'Art has its immense power for good and evil because it deals always with fundamental passions and reactions common to all humanity. Even its simplest forms, a single phrase of music, a color pattern, it can give a shock of pleasure which makes life valuable. For that enjoyment has no relation with appetite or self-satisfaction. It is something freely given, a good, a grace, belonging simply to existence, to reality itself. For that minute, the meaning of existence is this special pleasure, the emotion of beauty.'

Chapter XXXI Good and Evil

08 January 2014

painting and architecture #3 (Charles Gwathmey)

I think constraints are very important. They're positive, because they allow you to work off something.

Charles Gwathmey (1938 - 2009)

05 January 2014

Painting Architecture and #2 (Frei Otto)

Many people notice that computers have their limits. I've nothing against them, but my experience with materials and form I can touch has taken me a good deal further. 
Frei Otto (1925 - )

I made this drawing in Morocco about 6 years ago and it took maybe less than a minute to get down. I made hundreds of drawings on my trips there but only a few were 'right' enough to be saved. When I looked at this drawing after returning to France many weeks later I was jolted by what I was looking at. For it seems that I had seen death during one of my drawing sessions and it looked back at me.

Only my hand could have made this spontaneous image. It could not have been 'made' any other way than by fingers which had been practicing for years alongside my eyes. I write this because its with regret that I see the computer has somehow become our 'third appendage'. And, a computer cannot make the the 'necessary mistakes' from which an authentic art work is born. It lacks the fundamental element know as intuition.

02 January 2014

Jeff Koons, successful artist

Jeff Koons on Balloon Dog from SandenWolff on Vimeo.

"Art does not happen inside objects, it happens inside the viewer. Objects are just transponders…." 

Thus, in this nice little video Jeff Koons clarifies his ideas about art, and to be fair, he articulates them well. This is a thought provoking piece which raises the great perennial question: What is art?

What happens 'inside the viewers' is a very post-modernist approach to this age-old question and it is important but it cannot be more than half as valid as what happens in the object itself as they make a perfect whole. Where there is art, what happens in the art work happens also inside the viewer, but the reverse is equally true: what happens in the viewer happens only if it has happened in the object, otherwise, it is just a sentimentality and thus consequently out of the realm of any meaningful art.

These are two parts to the whole experience between artist and viewer, and when one fails it drags down the other and vice/versa. 

But, this is my own person view of course.

Regardless, Koons surfs the zeitgeist wave of the 21st century.