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Big Art Theory Blog

a place where art meets literature in a way unseen before

The Royal Society Of Faceless Sitters. Transitions by Jake Wood-Evans.(28)

‘For me the subject is of a secondary importance. I want to convey what’s between me and the subject’ Claude Monet 

One of the major European painters of the 18th Century Sir Joshua Reynolds  was an English painter specializing in portraits. He promoted the “Grand Style” in painting which depended on idealization of the imperfect.  What is more, he was also a founder and first president of the Royal Academy of Arts, and was knighted by George III in 1769. One of his most important tasks that Reynolds had to fullfill as a painter was to present to the outer world a breathtaking image of a dignified, perfectly happy and self-actualized royal individual.

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Sir Joshua Reynolds, ‘Sarah Campbell’, 1777–1778, British Museum

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Sir Joshua Reynolds, ‘Admiral Augustus Keppel’,  1779.

As we all know things tend to change with the time passing by.

In 1917 The Exhibition of Royal Society of Portrait Painters in the UK was criticized for containing ‘too many portraits of the smooth, photographic type’.

One hundred years later, ‘the search for ideal’ that the old, royal painters were after, has been irreversibly set to fire and ‘burned in flames’ as a thing of the past, replaced by the less obvious, richer in meanings and blurry depiction of reality by the young and highly talented English painter Jake Wood-Evans.

Artists STUDIO

         (c) Jake Woods-Evans, Studio, Source:  Artists Instagram Profile

From what I learned from Wood-Evans website, he was born in 1980 in Devon and graduated from Falmouth University with a BA Hons in Fine Art. The artists was subsequently awarded a scholarship from the Royal Academy for classical study at the Prado museum in Madrid. Based in Brighton for a number of years, he currently lives and works in Hastings.

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(c) Jake Woods-Evans, Artists In His Studio, Source:  Artists Instagram Profile

What  immediately caught my attention  while  attentively studying Wood-Evans artworks, was the fact that his “noble and royal sitters” are captured in a quite unique, intriguing manner.

PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN RED, AFTER SIR HENRY RAEBURN, 2016

(c) Jake Woods-Evans, PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN RED, AFTER SIR HENRY RAEBURN, 2016, Unit London 

To be more specific, the contemporary painter that I was introduced to by the contemporary Art Gallery Unit London  appears to be incredibly successful in making the onlooker believe that ‘the presence of the models on the canvas’ is actually nothing that could be taken for granted and might be only temporary. The charming ladies wearing pearls, silk and satin dresses, gentlemen in their expensive royal clothes are ‘here and now’ for a couple of seconds but also – already somewhere else, in a space we could never name or identify.

PORTRAIT OF HUGH WILLIAM WILLIAMS, AFTER RAEBURN, 2016

(c) Jake Woods-Evans, PORTRAIT OF HUGH WILLIAM WILLIAMS, AFTER RAEBURN, 2016, Unit London 

To me the sitters on the portraits seem to have just one thing on their mind, that is the William Shakespeare‘s words from his famous play ‘Hamlet’:

‘To be, or not to be, that is the question’

It is almost as if the dukes, baronesses, queens and princes from Evan-Woods artworks were about to do the least expected. They seem to be waiting for the right moment to kindly thank the Principal Painter in Ordinary to the King for his time and attention and leave the dull activity of posing, without turning back for a second, disappearing as a free spirit to the alternate reality, be it heaven or hell.

MRS FRANCIS RUSSELL, AFTER ROMNEY, 2017

(c) Jake Woods-Evans, MRS FRANCIS RUSSELL, AFTER ROMNEY, 2017, Unit London

Let’s take a closer look at the way in which the artists skillfully plays with the hidden meanings. Why are the sitters from the Wood-Evans portraits ‘losing their face’?

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(c) Jake Wood EvansDetail, ‘Portrait of a woman in yellow’

SIR JOHN FAWCETT, AFTER SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, 2014

(c) Jake Woods-Evans, SIR JOHN FAWCETT, AFTER SIR THOMAS LAWRENCE, 2014, Unit Lodon 

To lose ones face means to be humiliated or come to be less highly respected. And it’s plain to see that in this happens, we can no longer speak of a self-actualization, can we? In addition to this, if we analyze the relation between all that is literal and metaphorical, we shall come to the conclusion that ‘losing face’ is the last thing that a well-known and celebrated ‘royalty’ would ever permit to happen. Let’s think for example of ‘Lady Diana Case’.

When her love affairs came to light she was stripped of the ‘Her Royal Highness’ part of her title, but she continued to live in Kensington Palace and was still considered part of the Royal Family. Yet as she remained incredibly popular with the public, and The Daily Express newspaper in particular, there was a considerable outpouring of grief when she died in 1997 as a result of a car crash in Paris.

In this respect, ‘disappearing faces’ from Wood-Evans artworks might represent ‘nuda veritas’ – the sudden reveal of the naked truth about the seemingly flawless  royals, whose life in fact is never really as it seems, often filled with scandals, love affairs and dramas, carefully hidden from the public eye.

PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN BLUE SILK, AFTER REYNOLDS, 2017

(c) Jake Woods-Evans, PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN IN BLUE SILK, AFTER REYNOLDS, 2017, Unit London 

On the other hand, the artworks speak not only of the ‘out of paradise’ vision of the ‘past noble generations’. What if any of us had to lose our face?  Isn’t that something we are all, deep down in our hearts, secretly afraid of? Doesn’t the English artist touch something very important and fundamental about our human nature? What if we were to lose our dignity, honor and pride?  Would it be much left then?

LADY BAMPFYLDE, AFTER REYNOLDS, 2016

(c) Jake Wood Evans, LADY BAMPFYLDE, AFTER REYNOLDS, 2016, Unit London 

Wood-Evans unfolds not only the ‘uncomfortable truth’ about the pas. In fact he also speaks generally of human condition in a thoughtful, yet provocative and universal way, showing us that what we tend to perceive as ‘the perfect world’ and ‘perfect human beings’ is often nothing but smoke and mirrors.

When the ‘perfect mask’ is gone the sitters are left disarmed and vulnerable, with nothing out there left for them to hide their flaws, fears and sorrows.

Wood-Evans ‘Transition’ is the voice of a real, powerful artists that speaks of ‘the darker side’ of the history and the present time.

Speaking of the ‘lost glory and splendor’ , the artist leads a fascinating dialogue with the 18th century painters and with the Art in general, showing his contemporary perspective and echoing on his canvases the Burke’s Reflections on the Revolution in France, written in the early 1791:

“to the splendor of the foliage, to the neglect of the stirring the earth about the roots. They cultivated only those arts which could add splendor to the nation, to the neglect of those which supported it – They neglected Trade & substantial Manufacture…but does it follow that a total revolution is necessary that because we have given ourselves up too much to the ornaments of life, we will now have none at all”.

The exciting news for the art world in general and for the  fans of Evan-Woods art is that on the 30th of November 2017 The collection “Transitions” is going to be available for a private view at the Unit London Gallery  that according to many contemporary art critics is going to be one the one of the most anticipated art events of the year.

To find out more about Evan-Woods art please visit his website, 

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‘Artists – The Only True Evangelists Of The Collective Unconsciousness.’ (27)

‘Each one of us, not only human beings but every leaf, every weed, exists in the way it does, only because everything else around it does. The individual and the universe are inseparable. We are all connected and interdependent.’

Alan Watts, ‘Lectures’, 1982

How do the words by the influential, British philosopher, writer and speaker Watts apply to Art and Artists? Could it be true that all Artists are connected? Are the artists the only evangelist of collective unconciousness? I think that’s something worth investigating.

Carl Jung described ‘collective unconscious’ as a source that each of us carries within us, where all of our choices, behaviors and fears come from. It is a ‘hidden voice’ that only artist have the courage to allow to speak out loud.

It should not come as a surprise if I told you that many artists are ambassadors of ‘collective memory’. They use art to tell stories about personal and cultural memory that are open to interpretation, that reframe the past not as a fixed narrative but as a multiplicity of voices from diverse points of view. But art does only refer to past, to the universal values that are timeless themes such as love, true, life, death, freedom but also to the emotions of a given moment in time, ‘the here and now’.

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  (c)  Henrik A. Uldalen, Mural In Oostende, Belgium 

I decided to share with you something that has recently impressed me a lot. During my recent online ‘fishing for an intriguing topic’, I came to know that the contemporary artist are not only connected to those from the past (for example to ‘old masters’ such as Bosch, Breughel, Da Vinci or Vermeer), but more importantly, trough sharing the same ‘contemporary times’,  some of them seem to be entwined with one another. Despite of living thousands of miles away, the artists are still sharing the same ‘global village reality’, where Social Media plays a role a Babel Tower. Without leaving their ateliers, studios and houses, artist ‘gather’ and meet on Instagram, Twitter or other platforms using the same, international language of Art.

There is no deny that the Internet makes the world we all live in, smaller than ever  before.

After analyzing the works of two artists, living in different countries, coming from different cultural background, but having, in my opinion, incredibly a lot in common,  I felt inspired to explore the term of ‘collective consciousness in art’ by looking closely to thei paingings and photographs each of them created.

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(c)  Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Reverie’ 

The two, self-thought artist, that I’ve been fascinated with, are the Norwegian figurative painter Henrik  Aarrestad Uldalen (1986) and German Fine Art Photographer Gabriele Viertel (1969), living in The Netherlands. Just to remind you – I visited Gabriele several times during my business trips to the Netherlands, Eindhoven and wrote about her works couple of months ago on my blog. You could find my previous works on her art using this link.

The Venus Blues

       (c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘The Venus Blues’, 2017

What stroke me most,  when I started to compare the artworks of both artist, was that while using different visual mediums (painting and photography), they seem to have the same goal, that is to take the onlooker by the hand to exactly the same mysterious and dark place. A place that makes one get ‘those goosebumps’ and doubt the power of own perception.

By presenting their stunning models in a gothic, underwater, surrealistic environment,  the artists are touching the important and universal topics such as: a fine line between life and death, memory and the loss of it, beauty that is a fragile thing, disappearing to soon, unexpectedly, drowning forever in the depths of blurry water of the time.

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(c)  Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Flutter’

DANCE MACABRE

(c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘Dance Macabre’, 2017

I’ve been amazed to realize that Viertel and Uldalen, without actually knowing each other in reality,  seem to lead an artistic dialogue ‘beyond borders’, as if their minds were unconsciously linked. It almost feels as if they were ‘brother and sister’, with the same roots and similar experiences from the past, with the same, incredible sensitivity. There is no deny that the things we get to ‘hear’ through their artworks are said loud and clear, without using any words.

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(c)  Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Efflux’

NARCISSA

(c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘Narcissa’, 2017

Henruk Uldalen

                (c) Henrik A. Uldalen 

Dance Macabre, Gab

(c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘Dance Macabre’, 2017

When I saw the surrealistic works of Uldalen and recent works of Viertel,  they brought to my synesthetic mind stunningly beautiful Kylie Minogue immersed in water,  who for the purpose of the video has been turned into the Elise Day. Whenever I see the video recorded more than 10 years ago, in 1996, where the Australian singer was ‘the innocent angel, the virgin wearing white dress’, bathed in beauty like a glazing fire, I feel shivers down my spine.

The song that I’ve got in mind is, of course, is ‘Where Wild Roses Grow’. There is no deny that this particular song shall forever remain forever imprinted in the history of music. The unique combination of  the ‘dark’ voice of Nick Cave and angelic attributes of Kylie Minogue are simply impossible to forget.

Astray

(c)  Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Astray’

It was quite astonishing to me, when I noticed that both Uldalen and Viertel in their work were successful in bringing to mind the same powerful emotions that appear while one is listening to the overwhelming ballad from ’90. The artists masterfully merge the ethereal, otherworldly beauty with the vision of the slowly approaching death, as if they were singing along with Nick Cave:

‘On the last day I took her where the wild roses grow
And she lay on the bank, the wind light as a thief
And I kissed her goodbye, said, “All beauty must die”
And lent down and planted a rose between her teeth’

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(c)  Henrik A. Uldalen, ‘Vacate’

 

Bath Of Venus, Gabriele

(c) Gabriele Viertel, ‘The Bath Of The Venus’, 2017

I like to imagine that if Elise Day was real, if she lived in our times, before she’d go to the river with her insane lover The Murderer, on the last day of her life, she’d contact Viertel and Uldalen first and ask them to freeze her beauty for all eternity. Don’t you think that the vision of her face, captured on a photograph or canvas, could possibly stop the one who was born ‘beneath angry star’ from the unforgiven deed?

 ‘They call me The Wild Rose
But my name was Elisa Day
Why they call me it I do not know
For my name was Elisa Day’

Where WIld

(c) Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Kyle Minogue, ‘Where the Wild Roses Grow’, 1996

P. S. If you would like to listen to the song mentioned in this post – please click here

To learn more about the Art of Gabriele Viertel please visit her offical website.

Using this link  you could learn more about the Art of Henrik A. Uldalen

Living In Hotel California With ‘Tiffany Twisted’ Supergirl (26)

‘An artist is an art lover who finds that in all the art he sees, something is missing: to put there what he feels is missing becomes the center of his life’s work’  Romare Bearden

‘Kalispera, welcome Madame!’ – I heard the enthusiastic voice in the doorway as I arrived at the ‘Blue Beach Hotel’ in Chania, Greece.  I’ve never mentioned it before but from her early childhood I knew that visiting a new  place is likely to make me ‘feel’ the symptoms of synesthesia.

Let me explain you first what hides behind the mysterious phenomenon. Similarly to Tori Amos, Pharrell Williams, Marilyn Monroe, Vladimir Nabokov, David Hockney or Vincent Van Gogh, I possess the unique ability to ‘merge’ several senses at the same time. In one of the online articles I’ve read that actually 4% of our society are synestheists.

 

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David Hockney, A Bigger Splash, 1967, © David Hockney Collection Tate, London

The truth is that those who experience synesthesia “hear colors, feel sounds, and taste shapes” in a remarkably consistent fashion. The condition, which occurs in about 4 percent of the population, is more common in women than in men, and appears to be genetic.

As somebody who can speak from own experience I must say this ‘superpower’ could become a very helpful device in poetry, art of music, but at the same time it might turn into something very annoying  when we talk of its presence in the everyday life activities.

How do I know I’ve got synesthesia? It’s simple, whenever I see certain colors they make me think of music, or a song, or a melody. Or when I see a word it brings to my mind a certain color or fragrance.  At times the feeling  is so overwhelming that one may feel frustrated that you cannot get rid of it no matter how hard you try. And we all know that in our lives there are  important  moments that really require our undivided attention.

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 Anna H. Lucy, ‘Blue Beach Hotel 1’, Private Collection of the author

So here I was, delighted with a thought of 7 days living in my beloved Crete, my little paradise. While waiting for the hotel manager to come I closed my eyes for few seconds and let the colors enter into me.  Although the space I was in was overcrowded and its contents extremely miscellaneous, all seemed to come together into a whirl of blue, white, turquoise wherein each thing, though contributing to the whole, became more itself. There were cups, bowls, vases, little statues representing many Greek gods that only good God knows  the name of and many other things that created a unique and unforgettable atmosphere.

There were also cute, tiny blue ships located nearby large tv set that brought to my mind faraway travels and dangerous, exciting adventures.  On the couches there were white cushions in light blue and light green stripes  and the simple fact of looking at them made me feel relaxed.

While discussing my hosts the details of my stay, almost  immediately I noticed large library with numerous novels (mostly thrillers and romances). To my growing amusement they were in Swedish, Norwegian, Polish, German and English. ‘How wonderful’ – I thought to myself feeling  that endorphins were running in my veins much faster than couple of hours earlier, when I was still on the plane.

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 Anna H. Lucy, ‘Blue Beach Hotel 2’, Private Collection of the author

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 Anna H. Lucy, ‘Blue Beach Hotel 3’, Private Collection of the author

Feeling incredibly lucky, still a the reception of ‘Blue Beach Hotel’, ‘cool air in my hair’, hearing the sounds of waves coming from the sea,  I felt immersed in the endless amount of blue objects that were surrounding me.  Apart from this I  could not concentrate anymore and even though there was no radio on,  I could hear very clearly in my head the refrain of the famous ‘Hotel California’ by The Eagles. This legendary song in 1977 made the American band won the Grammy for the record of the year. For many generations to come this song  shall remain a piece of music that paint a visual picture that everybody sees differently.

David Hockney, 'Portrait of Nick Wilder', 1966

David Hockney, Portrait of Nick Wilder, 1966, acrylic on canvas, 183 x 183 cm, Fukuoka, The Fukuoka City Bank

 

When my Greek hosts asked me how was my trip and then tried to explain to me few other things with regards to my stay, the Eagles in my head carried on singing about ‘such a lovely place, such a lovely face’. Because there was no other way to escape the uncomfortable situation I told the dark-eyed and very handsome Greek that I was very tired indeed and dreamed of my bed more than ever. Of course I wasn’t tired, it was a fiction I had to quickly make up to get myself out of the reception.

When Vasily (as that was his name was very understanding  host)  looked at me and noticed that I was more than ‘carried away’. Fortunately he did not ask any more questions. I  took the keys to the apartment and obediently followed my ‘temporary guide’ that was going to show me the way to my Blue Beach Room.  After a quick shower I  was lying down, ‘safe and sound’ in my light green bed covered with a white and light blue blanket.  All the stress and fatigue seemed to disappear with every new breath of the fresh , slightly salty air coming from the sea. I knew that the week at Blue Beach Hotel will do me good. Before falling asleep I had to smile once again at my ‘Hotel California’ distraction and inspired by the visual delights of the Blue Beach Hotel I started to contemplate on the many different kinds of art that serve different goals. Interior design, for instance, is an Art with an aim to provide the observer with a certain experience, an emotion that one will remember for a long time. My analysis did not last longer than 5 minutes, and  before I knew I was already asleep.

 

By ania luk · Ambiguous 1Ania Luk, ‘Ambigious’, 2016, Private Collection

When I woke up I felt somehow that I  still must be dreaming.  How otherwise would I explain all that I saw? I was on the beach, surrounded by palm trees and young women wearing bikinis and pretty boys in colorful shorts.  When I looked around I realized that Blue Beach Hotel I picked for my holiday was gone and has been replaced by the famous Hotel California from the Eagle’s song that looked exactly like the David Hockney sunny villas & hotels from the artworks he created in ’60’s and ’70’s.

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David Hockney Portrait of an Artist (Pool with Two Figures) 1972 Private Collection © David Hockney Photo Credit: Art Gallery of New South Wales / Jenni Carter

To intrigue you even more I have to add that right next to me, on the large Gucci towel there was a glamorous, stunning and breathtakingly beautiful girl with long dark hair. She acted in a very comfortable fashion,  like she was my old friend who decided to spend her ‘relaxing time’ in the fancy LA area together with me. What stroke me most was the fact that she looked exactly like the model from the collection of paintings ‘Supergirl’ by Polish visual artist called Ania Luk. (www.anialuk.com/en)

I need to add that I’ve only recently got to know that Polish painter via Internet and found out that she created a series of artworks that attract the onlooker with a cubist perspective that mirrored artists interest both in Modigilani and Picasso. There is something ‘disturbing’ about Luk’s artworks, something that similarly to the genius ‘California Dreaming’ series by David Hockney, the godfather of British Pop Art, cannot be ‘read’ literally.

New_Picasso_1.jpgAnia Luk, ‘Summertime 2’, 2017

I remember very well that when I saw Luks paintings for the first time I was sure that I am dealing with a visionary artist who isn’t afraid to speak with metaphors and who has recognized ‘the weak points’ of the modern world and effortlessly plays with it.  Luk’s power to feel, and in great measure, to express, will live the impact on the face of contemporary Art. In her recent series ‘Summertime’ and ‘Supergirl’,  AniaLuk is touching ‘difficult topics’ such as narcism, perfectionism, self-centeredness of a ‘Selfie-Generation’, feminism, materialism, beauty and sexual freedom of 21st century.

Since Supergirl from my dream was my ‘temporary friend’, spending there a warm summer day with her gave me a clear idea of what Supergirls are like. When you look attentively at the painting by Ania Luk you might notice those things yourself.

Supergirls always live according to their own rules. Just like a Modern Sirens they seduce everybody who comes near them with their intoxicating charm.  But there is also a certain warning in their eyes : ‘This could be heaven, or this could be hell’.  They  believe in a ‘Miss Independent’ and ‘Miss Happy On My Own’ scenario for life which they explain with too many disappointments from the past. They are very strong, decisive and at time even ruthless – a modern femme fatale that you could not fool around with or play games with. If you do, just like the unpredictable Claire Underwood from the famous American series’The House of Cards’, she will find you and destroy you.

 

supergirl1.jpgAnia Luk, Supergirl 2, 2017

Have any of you ever met a Supergirl? I am sure you must have heard of her kind.

Supergirl is an aspiring celebrity, a happy single lady, size 34, 30+ woman with a tiny dog to keep her company in a lonesome moments of her life. Apart from this she’s eating very healthy, using organic comestics, travelling a lot, living a life of a princess, with the ridiculously expensive designer clothes in her luggage, a well-trained body, perfect nails, exquisite hair style, red-lipstick and flawless skin, worshiping false Gods, material wealth and excess.

With the thousands of followers on social media she almost never gets really lonely or starts feeling blue. She works as a free-lancer and spends her holiday in luxury locations. Does that sound familiar to you?

It should not come as a surprise that just like in the ‘Hotel California’ the mind of Supergirls is ‘Tiffany twisted’. In their free time they attentively follow all the beauty  and fashion trends, surrounding themselves with luxury goods and people who belong to the hermetic ‘bold and beautiful’. Just so that you know it for sure,  a Supergirl isn’t interested in moral life based on God’s teachings. You can try to impress her, but be aware that you are entitled to nothing.

Let’s get back  for a moment to my Hotel California. While lying there in the picturesque L.A. by the pool, looking carelessly at the clear blue sky near the Beauty Queen I noticed that my Perfect Friend looked as if she was already slightly bored waiting for the waiter to bring her the glass of refreshing white wine.

The Eagles song came to end and  with the heart beating fast in my chest I realized that there was just one little thing that my Supergirl forgot to tell me about living in the Hotel California.

Something that Eagles knew so well while they were busy with writing their famous and celebrated song. Something that David Hockney has always been very familiar with and succesfuly expressed on his artworks. Something that while looking at Ania Luk’s paintings made me stop what I was doing and think.

That something made me desperately want to wake up from my dream immediately.

‘ You can check anytime you like, but you can never leave.’

Desperate Houswifes.jpg

    David Hockney, Beverly Hills housewife (diptych), 1966-67

 

 

The Bridge To The Greatest Artistic Achievements (25)

‘Beauty shall not be an opiate that puts you
to sleep but a strong wine that fires you to action,
for if you fail to be a true man or a true woman,
you will fail to be an artist.’

‘Decalouge of the artist’, IX, Gabriela Mistral

There are many reasons why people from all over the world dream of visiting Paris. They want to feel the unique atmosphere of the vibrant, Parisian cafes,  restaurants and museums, take a long walk surrounded by the exquisite architecture, taste the delicious latte and croissants early in the morning – hoping that Louvre, the art galleries and art fairs soon open for the curious eyes that are hungry for beauty.

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Tsuguharu Foujita, Paris Street, 1930, Private Collection

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Tsuguharu Foujita, Paris Street, 1955, Private Collection

But there is something more than just a need for experiencing beauty of the surroundings. What people are  really looking for is ‘the scent of love and romance’ they hope to find in the  magical “une ville d’amour.

Talking about magic. Let’s stop for a while and think of the capital city of France, 100 years ago. If I were to ask you to mention 3 names of important artists that you associate with Paris of ’20 of last century , whom would you choose? I am sure that most of you would go for a Spaniard Pablo Picasso, the Italian Amadeo Modigliani and the Mexican Diego Rivera. And how about Foujita?  Ever heard of this extravagant,  Japanease artist whose distinctive and flamboyant works brought elements of Japanease Art to Western oil painting?

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Foujita, Autoportait, ca. 1923, Private Collection 

Foujita Tshuguharu and his muse Youki (Lucie Badoud) in his atelier in Montparasse, Paris, France, 1931

Foujita and his wife and muse Youki, Private Collection 

To me Foujita was a very important figure in the hermetic artistic circle of  the interwar period in France. The greatest contribution the history of art  by this Japanease-French artist are displayed in his depictions of female nudes and cats and his special white paint upon which he could draw a masterful line, one that seemed to outline a woman’s whole body in a single unbroken stroke. There is one more thing that makes the works of Foujita unforgettable – the subject matter of his work, beautiful women with certain sadness in their eyes, that expressed the artists own emotions, the secret longing for something that the heart is hungry for and cannot live without.

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Tsuguharu Foujita, Reclining Nude with Toile de Jouy, 1949, Private Collection

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Formento & Formento, Nicole IV, Los Angeles, California 2012, Robert Klein Gallery, Boston

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Formento & Formento, ‘Circumstance’

Why do I want to speak of Foujita? First of all he his works are outstanding and have got that ‘exotic sensuality’ that attracts and delights in a very special way. But there is more. Some facts of this artistic life, his tendency to depict strikingly beautiful, sad and wistful women, the physical appearance and the artists relationship with his second wife Youki strongly reminded me of an artistic couple that I met online some time ago – Richelle and BJ Formento.

The way those conceptual photographers (and in private life – a  married couple) work with the light  and pigment is quite remarkable and original. The depth of their works has been appreciated by international magazines such as like Aesthetica, Blink, Musee and L’oeil de la Photographie and currently represented by many international art galleries. It’s apparent that the talented couple does know how to awaken the magical atmosphere through situating their stunningly beautiful models in the Hopper-esque landscapes, making their skin look as if it has been covered with a unique blend of crushed oyster shells (as a matter of fact Foujita actually did use the shells-powder while creating his most remarkable paintings).

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Formento & Formento, Lauren VII, 2010, My Web’Art Gallery

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(c) Formento & Formento

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Tsuguharu Foujita, Bust of recycling woman with cat, 1950, Private Collection

When I started my research on Formento & Formento what inspired me most about the couple was their love. In times when people change partners with the frequency of replacing a hat or a coat for the new season, the feeling between the photographers seems to be bullet-proof.  I don’t have to mention that love and passion, if shared with the right person becomes not only the most powerful source of inspiration,  but also the bridge to the greatest artistic achievements.

Frankly, I’ve never spoke to BJ and Richelle about the circumstances in which they met. For now I’d like to believe that their first meeting was as romantic as the first randez vous of young Foujita in 1922 with Lucie Badoud (19 years old back then) in Parisian café ‘Rotonda’.

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Foujuta and his wife Youki, 1927, Kluver/Martin Archive

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BJ and Richelle Formento, Art Basel 2014

It’s plain to see that The Formento’s work leave plenty of room for imagination. The onlooker is taken into the space where graceful women are contemplating a memory more haunting than any other. Subtle messages hover over. The mood is evoked. The stunnnig creatures seem to  drift in the longing for something that has remained unattainable for a long time. The artist begin a dialogue with us the onlooker – and we witness a unique moment that is known from a movies. A touching, overwhelming ’emotion prive’ when we think of the things that we keep locked deep down in our hearts and never really reveal to anybody.

If you look closely you’ll notice that the works  by Fomento & Formento are created with cinematographic attention to detail, bringing to mind the carefully composed shots and the gorgeous rhapsodies by Wong-Kar-wai.

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Formento & Formento , Son XXI, Paris, 2013,  Fahey/Klein Gallery

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Tsuguharu Foujita, Young Japanease Woman, Private Collection

It is a true blessing that so  many, incredibly talented artist from all over the world make us see and appreciate the beauty that is born of the purest form of love. In fact ‘the law of art’, something that the artist apply in their work,  should be followed in every discipline and profession,  no matter if it’s  engineering, teaching, writing or designing – art greatest mission is to  inspire and show us ‘the only,  right way’:

‘You shall bring forth your work as a mother 
brings forth her child: out of the blood of your heart.’

Gabriela Mistral, ‘Decalogue Of The Artist’

*To see more of beautiful works by Formento & Formento please visit the artist official website http://formento2.com/ and My Web’ Art Gallery

 

‘The Secret of Art Found In the Golden Imprint Of An Oriental Dress (24)’

Do you know what people did in the old days when they had secrets they didn’t want to share? They’d climb a mountain, find a tree, carve a hole in it, whisper the secret into the hole and cover it up with mud. That way, nobody else would ever learn the secret…’

‘2046’, movie by Kai War Wong

Let me continue this thought-provoking quote from the movie by Kai War Wong and Christopher Doyle, by explaining you something that I recently discovered about artists and their soul.

Do you know what artists do when they have secrets they don’t want to share? They take a brush, a pencil, a camera or clay and create. They climb a highest mountain of their artistic skills and whisper their secret onto the artwork – and they do it long enough until they get the result they’ll find satisfactory. Their goal is to  bring to life something strikingly beautiful and immortal. That way, nobody else would ever learn their secret.

The movie 2046 that I quoted above is a heartbreaking, visually delightful and touching cinematic experience. I’ve seen it many years ago but could not quite understand it’s meaning. A beautiful enigma, indeed. During my recent online research on that movie I’ve came across many online reviews commented the production as something that ‘exists as a visual style imposed upon beautiful faces’. I wasn’t happy with that description and knew there must be more than this.

Few weeks ago, while listening to the soundtrack from the movie, I decided to watch the movie once again. This time, luckily enough, I was able to put the puzzles together. At the first glance the production speaks of the lonely souls that try to reach a mysterious place called 2046 in order to recapture lost loves. In this world nothing ever changes, so there is never loss or sadness. No one has ever returned from 2046.  The ‘essence’ of the movie could be described as somewhat bizarre and erotic story.

But here is the thing. What if the director tried to explain us through this movie the meaning of the word ‘Art’?  Isn’t art an unattainable  space of ‘frozen time’, a mysterious ‘room 2046’? A place which the lonely souls constantly try to reach, looking for comfort, delight, joy, secretly hoping it will bring back to mind the emotions of love, passion that have been tasted once but lost along the way?

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2046, photo presents the movie character Bai Ling 

The sudden discovery, was followed by another ‘link’ that appeared in my mind. The similar kind of overwhelming beauty, unforgettable mood of longing, regret and poetry that was plain to see in ‘2046’ I have found in the photography of a very talented, Vietnamese photographer Viet Ha Tran that I’ve been introduced to by My Web’Art Gallery.

There was one specific collection by Viet Ha that I found especially appealing. Namely, ‘The Golden Imprint’ presenting Asian ladies wearing hand-made, tradition-inspired costumes. The photoshoot had the participation of the three Vietnamese supermodels Dieu Huyen, Oanh Di, Nhu Van, and the renowned accessory designer Do Van Tri.

If Art really is ‘the frozen time’ and the secret place where anything is possible, the models could as well be seen as reborn 2046 characters. The lost souls, the breathtaking beauties observed by the art viewers from ‘another room’. It all  makes a perfect sense as 2046  has never been defined as a place, a room, a temple –  or a state of mind.

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2046, photo presents the movie character Bai Ling 

Just like in the amazing, ‘painterly’ shoots of ‘2046’,  Viet Ha Tran allows us to see the  spectacular details, ‘the scenes’ are rich in colors and baroque architectural details.

But that’s not all. There is a deeper meaning going beyond the view of extremely elegant, unearthly beautiful women, goddesses standing still in the temple, that have the power to make time stand still. Their faces and body carry deep, transcendent emotions, erotic sadness, contemplation on something ‘higher’ than ‘here’ and ‘now’.

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Viet Ha Tran, ‘Golden Imprint V’, 2014, My Web’Art Gallery

Everyone who goes to 2046 has the same intention, they want to recapture lost memories. The same happens to a poets or visual artists. The Creative process is a way to regain ‘the lost treasure’, to recall the emotion that can result with a triumph of mature observation and art.

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Viet Ha Tran, ‘Golden Imprint II, 2014

The fascinating works by Viet Ha Tran and the movie ‘2046’ that occupied my mind for a while and reminded me of a poem, that I wrote 2 years ago, entitled  ‘King Of My Heart’.

my Kazuo – the king of my heart
this is how I want you
to remember me
when we’ll both live
in the different times
and different space

I want you to remember
my vague girly smile my necklace
made of well-polished enticement
and my patterned oriental dress

remember my soft hair dearest Kazuo
my skin my well defined cheekbones
and the days when you called me Takara
your Japanease duchess of precious stones

whenever you’ll miss me my love
imagine me and call me by my names
call me your Chandra- The Moonlight
your Mischiko – The Empress of Japan
your Layla that stands for the Night
your Akira – your Princess of Grace

whenever you’ll long for my presence
think of all the depths
the fascinating recesses of my soul
that you travelled through
and eagerly explored

and most of all darling
remember our passion
to reach for the stars
our desire
to keep our dreams alive
and change the world

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Viet Ha Tran, ‘The Golden Imprint I’, 2014, My Web’Art Gallery

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Viet Ha Tran, ‘The Golden Imprint III’, 2014, My Web’Art Gallery

Seeing an exceptional artwork and falling in love have one important thing in common. As much as it is ‘a voyage into a secret harbor’ – it is also a matter of timing. We can appreciate and treasure what happens to us or what we see or hear, only if we are ‘ready’ to receive it all with open arms and hearts. The golden imprint on the beautiful dress on the photography by Viet Ha Tran will offer you more (apart from the  obvious, aesthetic delight) if you look at it with certain knowledge of Vietnamese tradition, history, maturity, curiosity and sensitivity. The same happens with the art of love – if  you give it the attention and tenderness it deserves, it will open up to you it’s petals, enriching your life, giving it a new, deep meaning. But that will happen only when you’re allow your mind to understand that getting close to a mystery of a true love is just like getting close to a real, exquisite piece of art. It is the greatest reward.

‘Don’t only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets;

art deserves that for it and knowledge can raise man to the Divine’

Ludwig van Beethoven

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Viet Ha Tran, ‘The Golden Imprint IV’, 2014, My Web’Art Gallery

To learn more about Viet Ha Tran’s works please visit: Web’Art Gallery or the artists official website http://www.viethatran.com/

 

 

‘Capturing Women In Their Absolute Femininity (23)

“Know what you want and try to go beyond your own expectations….set a very high goal, one that will be difficult to achieve. Because that is an artist’s mission: to go beyond one’s limits. An artist who desires very little and achieves it has failed in life.”

Paulo Celho, ‘The Spy’
According to the scientific research two-thirds of the population have had déjà experiences. The phenomenon of déjà vu  appears when we find ourselves in a totally new place or talk to a person we never met before and we recognize the scene as ‘familiar’ and ‘known’. The more you look the more something deep inside is telling you that you have already seen the object you’re looking at. Mesmerized from head to toe, swept along by certain forces, you feel endorphines running through your veins, just like you’ve heard a melody or song that you used to listen to over and over again, ages ago.

There is no doubt that ‘déjà vu’ refers also to the visual art. I am sure that many of you have experienced this sensation while seeing a new, moving, exceptionally beautiful artwork for the first time online or in an art gallery, art fair or a museum. There are artworks that speak to you with a familiar voice, making you love them ‘at the first sight’ – as they remind you of somebody or something. The image you look at with a lot of attention takes you down the memory lane, to the place you used to know, can recall – at least from the movies. Mastered by the scene, the mood for a little moment you forget about the rest of the world.

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D.A. Woisard, ‘Seduction #2′, 2007, France, My Web’ Art

The true magic of art lies with the fact that even though the styles, the techniques and themes may reappear in new variations explored by different visual artist, the excitement, the thrill that the viewers experience while confronted with a new artwork – feels like something new, unknown and fascinating. Just like recognizing the notes of a new, fresh and captivating fragrance that surround you when you enter the luxury boutique of Dior in Paris in Galleries Lafayette for the first time.

The feeling I described above I experienced when I’ve seen the photographs by D.A.Woisard for the first time. It happened when I visited on the wonderful online gallery My Web’Art (www.my-webart.com) that recently has become the Partner of my blog.

large_Matin_d_e_te___300dpi_.jpgD.A. Woisard, MATIN D’ÉTÉ, 2015, France, My Web’Art 

 Woisards work has been described by the legendary photographer Jeanloup Sieff  as ‘retro-contemporary’ which I find very apt – as the work of the artist allows us to travel in time and space in a very convincing and natural way. What chain of events has brought  Woisard into the greatness? In 1983  he became an assistant to Lucien Clergue and made the drawings of his retrospective exhibitions of his 30 years of photographs at the Musée d’Art Moderne in Paris (1984) and in Rochester (USA 1985).

This is how Clergue commented working with D.A. Woisard: “… I was very pleased with his collaboration and I could also appreciate his human qualities, his punctuality, his discipline in his work and his enthusiasm …”

Being around the great master of photography allowed D.A.Woisard to sharpen his photographer’s eye, to perfect his original perception and to direct his sensitivity towards new creative fields.

In 1984, Woisard presented his black and white work to Helmut Newton, who advised him to leave Marseilles for Paris, Milan, or New York.Encouraged by his master, the artist moved to Paris and worked for the major modeling agencies such as Glamour, Elite and Karin’s.

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Helmut Newton, Monica Belucci, Private Collection

Consequently, publications at prestigious magazines such as ‘Photo Reporter’, ‘Harper’s Bazaar’ and commissions (Editions Régine Deforges, Robert Laffont ) sealed his destiny as a photographer.

It was at Bastia in 1994 that he exhibited for the first time Woisards photographs. Then he went on with his first Salon des Artistes Français, where he won the Bronze Medal in 1999, followed by the Silver Medal in 2000 and the Gold Medal in 2001.

Dominique-André Woisard is now an owner of a  medal of honor, a member of the Jury of the French Artists, and a member of the Salon d’Automne. His talents are based on her three favorite themes: Portrait, Landscape (Especially Corsica, land of his ancestors), and of course Woman in his most absolute femininity, like straight out of Billy Wilder or Joseph Mankiewicz movie.

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Jeanloup Sieff, Les Dos D’Astrid, Palm Beach, 1964, Private Collection

 

D.A. Woisard, similarly to his older fellow photographer, Jeanloup Siff developed a style characterized by clean, modern elegance, capturing long bare backs, sumptuous curves, elegant black dresses and ladies lingerie. If I was to describe D. A . Woisarsd in few words, I would call his work a tribute to the absolute feminine beauty, to their grace and divine power. I look at the artwork and feel seduced  aesthetically and empowered at the same time.

But when we are talking about this French artist we cannot forget that there is much  more than the exquisite aesthetics. To me –  if we would like to compare this photographer to any living writer I would choose Paulo Coehlo – and call Woisard  ‘Paulo Coehlo of  B&W photography’. There are few reasons why I see the similarity of the artist work to the bestselling writer, adored by women all over the world.  Both Coehlo and Woisard seem to be deeply inspired, fascinated by the vulnerability, sensitivity of feminine body and spirit. Moreover – they also seem to understand what is femininity all about, what are the most important aspects of it, what makes a woman a divine human being.

 

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D.A. Woisard, ‘La Robe De Marie’, 2008, France, My Web’Art

Coehlo in his novels, describing beautifully the most ‘private emotions’ of his female characters  allows us to witness a  very true moment of sentiment, retrospection, melancholy, despair or solitude experienced by a woman while reflecting on love, passion and desire. The same technique, but in a visual way is used masterfully  by Woisard. This makes  the photography the greatest illustration to the Coelho’s words.  Or, if you prefer – we could turn it all around – the words by the well-known Brazilian writer, Coelho become the greatest description of the Woisard’s photography.

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D.A. Woisard, Rendez-vous #2, 2006, France,  My Web’Art

 “He’s seeing my soul, my fears, my fragility, my inability to deal with a world which I pretend to master, but  which I know nothing about (…)  At that moment, Maria learned that certain things are lost forever.” 

“Let’s go back to the train station,’ she said. ‘Or, rather, let’s come back to the day when we sat here together for the first time and you recognized that I existed and gave me a gift. That was your first attempt to enter my soul, and you weren’t sure whether or not you were welcome. But, as you say in your story, human beings were once divided and now seek the embrace that will reunite them. That is our instinct. Initial desire is important because it is hidden, forbidden, not permitted. You don’t know whether you are looking at your lost half or not; she doesn’t know either, but something is drawing you together, and you must believe that it is true you are each
other’s “other half” 

Paulo Coelho, ‘Eleven Minutes’

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D.A. Woisard, ‘Seduction #1’, 2016, My Web’Art

“I’m not a body with a soul, I’m a soul that has a visible part called the body.” 

“How does light enter a house? If the windows are open. How does light enter a human? If the door of love is open.”

Paulo Coelho, ‘Eleven Minutes’

 

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D.A. Woisard, PARIS VIIÈME, 2012, France, My Web’Art

“It’s really easy being as romantic as people in the movies, don’t you think?” 

“What’s so special about me?” There isn’t anything special
about you, at least, nothing I can put my finger on. And yet and here’s the mystery of life – I can’t think of anything else.” 

 Paulo Coelho, ‘Eleven Minutes’ 

 

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D.A. Woisard, ‘L’Attente’, 2016, France, ‘My Web’Art’

“I’ve learned that waiting is the most difficult bit, and I want to get used to the feeling, knowing that you’re with me, even when you’re not by my side.” 

“Human beings can withstand a week without water, two weeks without food, many years of homelessness, but not loneliness. It is the worst of all tortures, the worst of all sufferings.”

“Profound desire, true desire is the desire to be close to someone.” 

Paulo Coelho, ‘Eleven minutes’

 

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D.A. Woisard, ‘NU #1’, 2014, France, My Web’Art

“She asks him to touch her, to feel her with his hands, because bodies always understand each other, even when souls do not.” 

“The strongest love is the love that can demonstrate its fragility.” 

Paulo Coelho, ‘Eleven Minutes

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Serge Lutens, Private Collection

When you look at the photography of that kind you allow yourself to participate in a deep experience that raises the spirit and makes us  appreciate the female beauty more than ever before. One thing is sure, D.A. Woisard is an exceptional artist who desires a lot from his work and knows how to capture the magical moment. If you look carefully you will notice that  his iconic photos speak volumes of their creator and the depth of his soul. The magical art of Dominique inspired me to take my own pictures in his very beautiful, ‘contemporary-retro’ style:

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Private collection of the author

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D.A. Woisard, ‘Portrait #1′, 2004, France, My Web’ Art

Since soon there is going to be a Valentine’s – the international celebration of love I would like to wish all of my dear readers a lot of faith in art and, of course, plenty of faith in love. At the same time I would like to invite you to visit a Photography Exhibition ‘Femmes Capitales’ organised by my friend Bianca Hutin,  My Web’ Art and Galerie de Thorigny that is going to take place on 31 January in Paris . More information on this event you could find using the below link:

Photography exhibition “Femmes Capitales”

To paraphrase the aforementioned writer Paulo Coelho – we should never forget that art just like love is an act of faith. Its face should always be covered in mystery. It should be experienced with feeling and emotions because if we try to decipher it and understand it, the magic disappears.

P.S. To see more artworks by D.A. Woisard – please visit the Web’Art official website: D.A. Woisard at My Web’Art

‘What If Van Gogh Had Instagram and Hopper Millions Of Facebook Followers? (22)

‘If you hear a voice within you say ‘you cannot paint’, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced’ Vincent Van Gogh

Just right before New Year’s Eve I decided to take a look at the collection of the books in my little library and pick up the titles that I wanted to add to my personal ‘waiting list’. There is one, particular shelf in my office where books stand in a sort ‘priority queue’. This is where I keep the most important books that I haven’t finished reading yet. ‘Lucas’ by Kevin Brooks  was one of the novels that I started to read last summer and somehow never got to an end of it. When I asked myself, why did I actually buy this book, I realized that it was because of its remarkable and meaningful foreword. It hypnotized me the first time I’ve read it:

‘I don’t know, Dad’ – I sighed – ‘I am not sure I can paint’.

‘Ah now, that’s nonsense. Anyone can paint. (…)

‘But I don’t know all the techniques and styles, you know..’

 ‘Art isn’t about techniques or styles, son. Art is about feelings that you translate into a vision. You’ve got your feelings, haven’t you?’

‘Too many’ – I said.

‘Well, that’s all you need. He puts his hand on mine. ‘You just have to let it out.’

So that’s what I did. And this is it.’

Talking about feelings and  inspiration. When I’ve recently visited a very informative and platform artsy.com there was one particular article that caught my attention. It was called ‘Adrien Brody on Why It’s Never Too Late to Become an Artist’. Most of us remember this American actor from  films such as The Grand Budapest Hotel (2014), Peter Jackson’s remake of King Kong (2005), and Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris (2011).  I was delighted and truly excited about this good news for the art world and fans of Brody but I can’t say I was really surprised. In fact I could tell by the sparkle in the actors eyes that he was after something. There is no deny that working with the movie directors and the film crew is a team-work. No matter how ‘creative’ acting is – it certainly cannot be compared to the process of creating an artwork as this activity could grant an artist total freedom of expression. And this is why Brody decided to undertake something new. The question is –  how did that happen? Let’s see how artsy.net explained it:

‘It happened by chance. A friend of Brody’s, a French artist, had promised to paint him a piece. After four years, and a period spent out of touch, they finally settled on a time for the work to be completed. “I built him a large canvas, measured it for the wall,” recalls Brody. “And I bought some additional canvases in case he wanted to do some additional work and play around. I thought I might help him. And so while he was painting, I started painting some stuff too.” Brody’s friend was adamant that the actor had to continue.’

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Adrien Brody  in front of his artwork ‘Dropfish’ at New York, 2016,  David Benrimon Fine Art, New York

And here’s my version.

It was a feeling.

Sometimes, if you don’t follow your feeling, you will have to wait till the rest of your life waiting for your head to explode.

In my opinion the fact that the actor finally begun to create his own artworks – shows that you cannot escape from something that you had crush on for a very long time.

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Adrien Brody creating an artwork, source: artsy.net

The thing is that if the feeling arrives we just ‘know’. The same way birds know it’s time to migrate or the dogs know the thunderstorm is coming. In times like these – when you experience ‘new calling’ –  you have to act upon it.

If the 43 old  movie star did not take his fame and success for granted and still has had the desire to get down to work and start something new and challenging, this can mean only one thing. Namely, that bad timing, terrible circumstances or different (a non- artistic) professional experience is no excuse. And that proactive approach is something that we need, especially now – while the world is busy with new year’s resolutions’.

Change is an opposite to waiting. Waiting is a trap. There will always be reasons to wait. The truth is, there are only two things in life, reasons and results, and reasons simply don’t count.

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A scene from ‘The Pianist’ by Roman Polansky, 2002

The news on Brody is another sign that that all artistic souls have their own, unmistakable light. In most cases it is just a matter of time that they leave the doubts and eagerly start another chapter of their lives. It is the flame of  inner creativity that cannot be left unnoticed, the desire to learn something new, to ‘let out’, the need to unleash the artistic potential that begins to speak louder than anything else and invites the change.

The recent story of Mr Brody, the Oscar winner for the cinematic masterpiece by Polansky ‘Pianist’, is a great example that  successful career is not something that gives one permission to ‘sit down and relax’.

It is important for me to stress, right here, that making yourself a name as an international artist (known  today as ‘personal branding’) used to be an almost impossible task in the past, having in mind no social media that faster than ever before,  turn the world into a global village. In the past there were no international online art galleries such as artsy.netartfinder.com, saatchiart.com or etsy.com, let alone the talent search platforms such as artisize.com that connects artists around the world to art “seekers”. The artist had no chance to  post, tag and promote their work. All they had was their talent and will to work hard.

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Can you imagine what would have happened if Van Gogh could use Instagram on daily basis, sitting alone in his room in Arles? Imagine he had the opportunity to interact with thousands and millions of  his followers and share his work, contact galleries and museums? Can you picture  Monet promoting his water lilies series on Facebook Fanpage, waiting for another like, making selfies –  while playing with his smartphone in Giverny?

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Claude Monet at his gardens, in Giverny, Paris.

But let’s don’t’ get carried away by ‘what if’s’. Here are the facts on some of the  world’s most famous painters of all the times.

The master of American realism, Edward Hopper didn’t sell a painting until his 30s. In fact nobody really noticed his art  until his 40s. After the sale of single painting in his 30s he struggled financially for another 10 years before becoming recognized for his highly unique stylistic features in his paintings of American life.

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Edward Hopper Sketching in Paris, 1927. Gelatin Silver print. Frances Mulhall Achilles Library

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Edward Hopper, ‘Western Hotel’, 1957,  National Gallery Of Art, Washington, US

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Edward Hopper, ‘Hotel By The Railroad’, 1952, Private Collection

Cezanne, on the other hand, went off to Paris in his early 20s as an enthusiastic young painter to go to art school. He failed the entrance exam for the art school Ecole des Beaux-Arts and was knocked back from the Salon many times. He began working with Camille Pissaro in his 30s, so being around peers helped him develop work, and he gained some small accolades in his 40s. He died reclusive and alone before his work was discovered by an English art critic many decades after his death.

 

 

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Paul Cézanne, Paul Alexis reading to Émile Zola, 1869-1870, oil on canvas, São Paulo Museum of Art

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Paul Cezanne, ‘The Bathers’, 1900, National Gallery, London, UK

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Paul Cezanne, ‘Boy in the Red Vest’, 1889 or 1890,  Foundation E.G. Bührle, valued at $91 million

And here comes another icon of Impressionism.After the death of his wife, when he was in his 40s, Monet began to paint in high volumes. He had painted in his 30s, and received small bits of recognition. He didn’t really hit the ground until nearly halfway through his life. After painting “Impressions Sunrise” in his 30s, it took him another decade before he invented and developed his iconic style. It was the artworks created in his ‘old years’ in Giverny, outside of Paris that contributed to his international fame and recognition

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Claude Monet, ‘Le bassin aux nymphéas’, Private Collection – Claude Monet, valued at $89.6 million 

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Claude Monet, Mother and a child, 1875, Museum of Fine Arts (MFA), Boston, MA, US

The beginning of new year is a perfect moment to make a plan, write down the goals and stick to it, weather you’re an artist, a writer, an entrepreneur or a goalkeeper. If your chased by a creative idea or are busy with something –  but aren’t there yet –  do not get discouraged, but try over and over again. You just never know  where the new journey will end. The trick about trying is is that you could wake up one day as a  different, happier, more fulfilled person. This is whom I see now,  whenever I look at Adrien Brody images,  seeing him proudly posing in front of his paintings.

“Are you ready?” Klaus asked finally.
“No,” Sunny answered.
“Me neither,” Violet said, “but if we wait until we’re ready we’ll be waiting for the rest of our lives, Let’s go.” 
― Lemony SnicketThe Ersatz Elevator

‘The Artist Is Not Made For Defeat. Between Secrecy And A Search For Unspeakable Truth.'(21)

‘You see something. You identify it not for what it is but as a function of what of your own background and your own life prompt you to see. We carry with us not only our worries, but also what happens to us and what we anticipate will happen. We are not content with just being in the world. We are here as killers, musicians, artists and so on.’

Halim Al Karim

Do you remember the last time when looking at an artwork has opened up something inside you? The moment when a painting or a photography ‘looked back at you’ with the gaze that has the intensity of a real human being, disarming you totally, from one moment to the next?

I am sure that the most of you experienced a total ‘merge’ with a form of art at least once during your lifetime.  For some people it would be a visual artwork – for others a piece of beautiful music or stunning performance at the theater.

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Halim Al Karim, ‘Eternal Love’

When it happens – one begins  to unfold the unearthly, encrypted messages from the inspired artist. It’s important to add that you may feel slightly intimidated with the fact that somebody (in this case it is the artist) who knows you so well.

There are artworks that will make you wonder, how did he or she know?

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Halim Al Karim, White Ash 8 Ed.8

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Halim Al Karim, Eternal Love 10 Ed. 3 + 2AP

I have come to  realize that this very special kind of art, in some incomprehensible way, has the ability to purify you, leaving you with a feeling of awe, holiness and enlightenment.

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Halim Al Karim, Hidden Godess Hidden Goddess 5, 2009

If you  know how to listen – that sort of  would tell you fascinating stories. If you are ‘receptive’ an artwork could actually speak to you and just like the Princess of the mystic East from ‘Arabic Nights’, Scheherazade. It would tease you with thousands of breathtaking tales, leaving you asking for more but never really coming to an end of the story.

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Halim Al Karim, ‘Hidden Goddess’, 2009

Sometimes art takes a shape of a beautiful virgin that touches you with her long, white fingers but never reveals all of her secrets, only bringing you closer to conclusions that you’d otherwise never make.  From this point of view the artists are the greatest and most generous givers in the world  that don’t truly realize the importance of their mission. Is there anything more precious on this earth, than the content of the artist soul reflected in a piece of art?

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The picture taken in XVA Art Hotel,Dubai, Authors Private Collection

Some artworks by exceptional artist can set free all that’s been locked up.  For me the photography by an Iraqi artist Halim Al Karim that I’ve been lately introduced to – posses that that kind of special power. Halims art scratches you, devours you – touching your soul with a new kind of curse and teaching you, just like the poem by Polish writer – Zbigniew Herbert ‘The Evoy of Mr. Cogito’, to be faithful and go:

Go where those others went to the dark boundary

for the golden fleece of nothingness your last prize

go upright among those who are on their knees

among those with their backs turned and those toppled in the dust

you were saved not in order to live

you have little time you must give testimony

be courageous when the mind deceives you be courageous

in the final account only this is important

and let your helpless Anger be like the sea

whenever you hear the voice of the insulted and beaten

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Halim Al Karim, ‘Lost Memory’, 

I met Halim Al Karim during my most recent trip to the Middle-East. On the last day of my stay in the beautifully located hotel called XVA Art Hotel (a ‘place to be’ for all Dubai visitors who love contemporary art and appreciate original and traditional style of interiors and delicious breakfasts) I’ve been introduced to the long-haired artist by an American lady,  Mona Hauser (the very kind and unbelievably hospitable hotel and gallery founder).

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XVA Art Hotel, Dubai, Authors Private Collection 

 

During our very short conversation Halim looked at me with his big, brown eyes and was trying to explained to me the origin of creativity:

‘Cavemen had no education, neither have they seen museums or art galleries. Still – something in them enabled them to paint the beautiful shapes on the cage the walls’.

What stroke me at first was  – while Halim was speaking to me- was the fact that he was both ‘present’ and ‘absent’. During our conversation the artist seemed to be detached from the reality, trying to protect himself from me and the rest of the world. Deep inside I was sure there must be a reason why  the artist was building those walls around him, appearing to me as ‘ a difficult game’. There was something about him that made him take a step back and stop others from coming any closer. For a moment I felt like I was  near to wild animal that could  be easily frightened away.

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Halim Al Karim in Denver Museum Of Art

At the same time I knew I was invited to enter the very exclusive territory, that one would step into with utmost respect, wearing no shoes, in order to make sure that the sleeping monsters and demons in the artist head, aren’t woken up.

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Halim Al Karim, ‘Eternal  Love’

There are many things that I’veI learned few hours later, from the book that I have received from Halims close friend and artist Irfan Mvgdi residing in the same hotel.  As a matter of fact Halim Al-Karim underwent a harrowing experience during the first Gulf War. Opposing Saddam’s regime and its compulsory military service he took to hiding in the desert, living for almost 3 years in a hole in the ground covered by a pile of rocks. He survived only through the assistance of a Bedouin woman who brought him food and water and taught him about gypsy customs and mysticism.

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Halim Al Karim, ‘Goddesses of Beirut’

In some of Halim’s work, photography is used for its non-physical qualities: a medium which quite literally creates an image from light, capturing the transient and interwoven nature of time and  memory.

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Halim Al Karim, Hidden War (From Hidden Series), 1985

 

The Sumerian artifacts featured in Al-Karim’s Hidden Prisoner and Hidden Goddess were photographed in the Louvre and the British Museum; Al-Karim describes seeing them interned behind glass, far away from their home, as a painful reminder of visiting his friends and family who were held as political prisoners at Abu Ghraib during Saddam’s regime.

The Images of Al-Karim whisper the words of truth. They recite tales of a man that went trough many traumatic experiences – and yet – never took his existence for granted.

‘repeat old incantations of humanity fables and legends

because this is how you will attain the good you will not attain

repeat great words repeat them stubbornly

like those crossing the desert who perished in the sand

and they will reward you with what they have at hand

with the whip of laughter with murder on a garbage heap

go because only in this way will you be admitted to the company of cold skulls

to the company of your ancestors: Gilgamesh Hector Roland

the defenders of the kingdom without limit and the city of ashes

Be faithful Go’

(Zbigniew Herbert’ ‘Envoy of Mr. Cogito)

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Halim Al Karim, Hidden Victim, 2008, Weng Art Foundation, Krefelfd, Germany

There is plenty of pain, solitude, fear, longing for love, search for inner peace– the ache of existance and the ache of of death. But most of all there is this a penetrating gaze of a person that may forgive but shall never forget.

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Halim Al Karim, ‘Witness from Baghdad 3’ (from Witness From Baghdad Series), 2008

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The picture taken in XVA Art Hotel, Dubai, Authors Collection

All of the artworks by Halim Al Karim  that I’ve seen so far bring to mind a self-portrait. This way Halims portraits of women (the goddesses) and men become the portraits of all human kind.  Moreover, there is one, important thing they have got in common. Namely, the persistence and the steadfastness that the Nobel Prize Winner in Literature, Ernest Hemingway spoke of,  in one of his most famous short story:  “An Old Man And The Sea”.

‘A man not made for defeat.  A man can be destroyed but not defeated’

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Women look at “Witness from Baghdad” by Iraqi artist Halim al-Karim, exhibited by Christie’s for its seventh auction of international modern and contemporary art in Dubai. (Photo by Karim Sahib /AFP/Getty Images.)

‘The Artist Must Taste Dark Water And See Wild Winds.’ (20)

‘Once the soul was perfect and had wings, it could sour into haven that only creatures with wings can be. But the soul lost its wings and fell to earth where it took an earthly body.  Now, while it lives in this body no outward sign of wings can be seen yet the roots of its wings are still there… And we see a beautiful woman or a man, the soul remembers the beauty it used to know in haven, and begins to spout and that makes the soul want to fly but it cannot yet it is still too weak so that man keeps staring up to the sky at a young bird, he lost all interest in the world around…’ (T. Malick, ‘The Knight Of Cups’)

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© Gabriele Viertel, Merit Award of Best of Contemporary Photography 2015, Fort Wayne Museum

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© Gabriele Viertel

What is the reason that a certain kind of art has got the ability to touch us deeply, move the roots of our humanity, steal our hearts, leave us breathless?  A sensational movie ‘The Knight Of Cups’ (2015) by Terence Malick and the  philosophical journey that I experienced thanks to it, brought some answers that I want to share with you.

In the movie there is poetry of existence; its unwieldiness  and spontaneity, rejecting mummified conventions and  structures foreign to it.The surrealism and paradox of choices made throughout the years. The phenomenon of life is in excess of every frame, yet Malick dares to leap into the flux and  follow its rhythms.

Floating in the water and diving ‘in the great divide’ has been one of very important, and reoccurring motifs of this Malick’s movie.

According to the major figure in the history of philosophy – Thales, water was the fundamental material of the universe, something out of which everything else could be formed. Something essential to life, and capable of motion and therefore – to change. And as we all know – water has been and will always be the inspiration not only for the philosophers or movie directors – but also for writers, poets and visual artist.

The unique, photo-like structure of the film I’ve recently seen,  brought to my mind ‘The Underwater Collection’ called ‘Follow Me To The Depths’ by fine Art Photographer Gabriele Viertel. I have seen those works many month ago – but the images kept ‘hanging on’ in my mind – and I knew the time will come when I come back to them.

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(c) Gabriele Viertel

Few weeks ago I had the pleasure to meet  Gabriele  when I was in Eindhoven, The Netherlands. As a matter of fact her works have been appreciated and recognized worldwide, published by Vogue Italia, Cosmopolitan and the  Museum of Modern Art San Fransisco. Artists work is in the public collections of the Fort Wayne Museum of Art, Indiana USA and the University of Art, Rotterdam NL as well as in various private collections.

Regardless of the international success and popularity – one thing is sure – Gabriele’s photography makes you stop and stare. It moves you in a unique way– inviting you to visit a different space where there is no time and where a perfect, strangely exciting  female beauty (femme fatale or an angel?) that approaches  you – in the movements that reminds you an elegant dance.

Looking into the photography by this German artist means a fascinating encounter with mystical creatures. The unworldly, underwater compositions bring to mind the artworks of the symbolists, the most famous Art Nouveau painters ( popular between 1890 and 1910), for example of  Fernand Khnopff or Franz von Stuck.

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Franz Von Stuck, ‘The Dancers’, 1986, Private Collection

Similarly to the subject matters that were beautifully explored 100 years ago – Gabriele presents elegant, sublime and mystical women, making the viewer want to uncover the enigmatic truths hidden behind appearances.

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Franz Von Stuck, ‘Sin’, 1893, Private Collection

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Franz Von Stuck , ‘Salome II’, 1906, Städtische Galerie im Lenbachhaus – Munich  

Viertel’s art challenges the viewers what it is that they really see. Are the models the modern mermaids that live deep under the water or beautiful nymphs that are floating in the cosmic space? Or – perhaps, are they dancers that are too busy to notice the onlooker ?

The intense, sublime and introverted subject matters reflect Gabriele’s own personality – packed with ethereal energy, original talent and fresh ideas that come from fairy tales, the world of fashion (Gabriele used to be a catwalk model for the designers such as Dior or Karl Lagerfeld)  and fascination of the artist with the female beauty and classical dance styles.

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(c) Gabriele Viertel

Before our my meeting I exchanged few mails with Gabriele and got to learn about more recent work.  What my eyes got to see were the sensational, very expressive underwater portraits of two female figures. This how the  images talked to me: ‘‘If we are to live exposed to one another, we must admit that part of our identity originates in our vulnerability’ (Achille Mhebe).

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Fernand Knopff, Study for ‘Caress’, 1896

The mesmerizing beauty of the models made me think of the emotions their faces and gestures expressed. To me those artworks present an essence of ‘the togetherness and vulnerability’. We observe two beautiful creatures living happily in their underwater world,  caressing each other, telling each other secrets and stories. They are ‘at peace and harmony’, reaching the intimate closeness, physically and spiritually, sharing the pure and divine love that Malick beautifully spoke of in his movie:

You gave me peace. You gave me what the world can’t give. Mercy. Love. Joy. All else is cloud. Mist. Be with me. Always.’

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(c) Gabriele Viertel

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(c) Gabriele Viertel

When I  first came across the photos of Gabriele Viertel – I was so fascinated with it,  that I decided to show them to the Amsterdam based poet,  Elly de Waard . To my growing excitement Elly was very enthusiastic about the artworks that she did not know before and allowed me to publish one of her poems from the collection called ‘Nine poems from a sequence of eighty-two’ that I found very ‘corresponding’ with Viertels art.

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So beautiful, the way her

Naked body leaps through the

Breakers, her breasts high, her arms

An extension of her back

Reach up. Beneath her skin like

Still never developed

Wings that want to open

 

Out I see her shoulder blades

Moving briskly. An un-

Disfigured Venus she is,

Rising from the marbled

Foam, alive. Ah, how sweet

The way her softness

Withstands the muscled waves! She

Holds her hands in front of the

Hollows with wiry hair. Rocks

 

Kneel down before her, resting

Against each other offering

The masterfully polished

Forms of their backs to

Her. In sculpting their masses

 

The polisher of the tides needed his

Eons, but nature was able

To create her perfection

In a brief thirty-one years.

(c) Elly de Waard

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(c) Gabriele Viertel

There is no doubt – the Art by Gabriele Viertel does know how to put spell on your heart. It is like a beautiful, rare pearl at the bottom of the ocean waiting to be found. This art challenges you – telling you that the perfect beauty does exist. It encourages you to look beyond the surfaces and search for  the beauty that surrounds you in the ‘real world’. The atmosphere of a magical dream  brings delight, it makes you want to unfold the mystery that the life is full of.

So this is how art never ceases to amaze, teach and inspire us. The soul of an artist is a soul that has found its wings and does remember beauty, as if had no other choice:

 

‘I must see new things and investigate them.
I want to taste dark water and see crackling trees and wild winds’ 

 Egon Schiele

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