Big Art Theory Blog

a place where art meets literature in a way unseen before

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.


Tsuguharu Foujita, Paris Street, 1930, Private Collection


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?


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.


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


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


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


(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 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

Golden Imprint I

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


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



‘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 ( 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.


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.


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’


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’



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’



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


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:


Private collection of the author


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 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 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:

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.


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, or, let alone the talent search platforms such as 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.


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


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.




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


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


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


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


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?


Halim Al Karim, White Ash 8 Ed.8


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.

Hidden Godess Hidden Goddess 5, 2009, lambda print, black silk, 55 x 39 in (140 x 100 cm).jpeg

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


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.


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.


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.

Hidden War (From Hidden Series), 1985, lambda print on aluminum, 54 x 128 in (138 x 324 cm).jpeg

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)


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.


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’


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’)


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



© 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.


(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.


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.


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.


(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).


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.’


(c) Gabriele Viertel


(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.


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


(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

‘It Is Not The Artists Who Speaks, But Life Within The Artist Who Has Much To Say.’(19)

‘The highest purpose of art is to inspire. What else can you do for anyone but inspire them?’ Bob Dylan

Few days ago, trying to chase away the ‘fall blues’, while having my morning coffee I have noticed that finally the sun was rising above the sky, which faintly promised for a pleasant weather for the rest of the week. Taking another sip of my latte – still feeling quite uninspired- I said to myself – ‘I wish something spectacular has happened’.

Autumn Leaves.jpg

When I opened my mailbox,  I’ve noticed that there was something  waiting for me there. It turned out that my blog had few new ‘followers’ which, of course, made me very happy. Among them there was an alert about a writer called Kim (author of  a very nice online read called ‘Peace, Love and Patchouli’).

As a faithful believer in low of attraction (‘ask, believe, receive and show gratitude’), I sensed instinctively  that I should pay a return visit to my new reader (zipsrid.wordpres To my delight, right there, at  Kims blog, I’ve found profound words by a poet and illustrator, Jan Walsh Anglund that I’ve found very meaningful and used for the title of my new post.

So now we know for sure. It is not the artist who speaks.

It is the ‘the life’ within the artist that has much to say.

‘Life’ is the very reason why creative people ask questions everyone else is too frightened to ask. The artist ‘speaks up’ to open the locked doors inside of peoples souls, to make the hearts grow, to help those who seek an emotional and spiritual survival.

As a matter of fact, the recent news on Nobel Prize in literature has been yet another great example where not the artist, but ‘life that speaks on his behalf, has been awarded.

Bob Dylan1.jpg

In a real world nobody would have ever consider giving a Noblel Prize in Literature to a rock star, a rebel in a leather jacket with a cigarette in his hand. But an inspired poet who speaks about ‘real life’ and the difficult times he lived in, ‘will do’. Absolutely, no shadow of doubt.

A poet, ladies and gentlemen,does classify for that kind or international recognition.

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As recently informed by international press, Bob Dylan has been distinguished with the most prestigious literary reward “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

Some conservatives and skeptics may wonder if the artistic ‘body of work’ of a music star should be equal to the work of writers such as Günter Grass, John M. Coetzee or Samuel Beckett? But if the art of Dylan changed peoples life’s and nurtured many generations long after his greatest popularity – why should we doubt his genius?

‘The Bob Dylan  Case’ has again convinced me that the real art does not like to ‘go by the book’. On the contrary, it prefers to stay unconventional,  unpredictable and sometimes even shocking. It is not ‘the theory’ but ‘life’ that  makes the art and artist win and stand out from the crowd.


Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Dream II’, Private Collection

In my last post I promised to say more about Armando Alemdar Ara based on the conversation I had with the artist while in London. It is not accidental,  that I started my post from mentioning Bob Dylan, the poet and musician, as I came to the conclusion that both artists have got a lot in common. Even though they represent different art genres and use different tools and approach towards art.

What matters is that they are both poets (Armando is then ‘a silent poet’),  humanists and there is a mystery within their art. According to an article published in ‘The Guardian’ on the 13th of October:

‘Dylan’s lyrics reflect both deep nihilism about the human state of affairs and sometimes idealism about human encounters, one-on-one. Ever since the advent of the nuclear bomb, he has summed us up pretty well. He isn’t just a writer — he has a perspective.’

The same eclectic approach applies to the art of visual artist,  Armando Alemdar Ara.  He isn’t just a painter — he has a perspective of a philosopher, of somebody who has lived thousand years and understood the dilemmas and moral problems of humanity and knows how to ‘speak’ about them so they become more bearable. His art seeks idealism, in human form, in the energy that the body produces and spreads around.


Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Ariadne’, Private Collection

The presence of ‘Life’ in Armando’s artworks brings to mind different masterpieces of greatest masters such as Michaelangelo or  Durer.

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         Michelangelo, ‘A Male Nude’, c. 1504-1505, Teylers Museum, Netherlands

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Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘The Challenge’, 2016, GX Gallery

If you look at that kind of paintings , you’ll feel tempted to identify yourself with the subject matter in the most ‘private’ way. It is something that touches the roots of your existence, just like the poetry does and lets them work their magic’.

Prometeus.jpgArmando Alemdar Ara, ‘Prometheus’ (Homage to Michelangelo), GX Gallery, London

During our fascinating conversation that took place in the heart of London, Armando explained where  his inspiration comes from:

‘I paint only the ideas that I have explored and learnt about. In my artworks I present concepts that have occupied me  for a long time and have been settled in my mind. As a matter of fact to develop an idea on canvas is a complex, lengthy process that is time-consuming almost like meditation.’

There was one particular painting, ‘Icarus’, that I found especially intriguing. This artwork successfully captures  a  very important part of human nature. The curiosity, the need of taking risks that sometimes might be stronger than ‘common sense’:

Falling Is also Flying 2015.jpgArmando Alemdar Ara, ‘Falling Is Also Flying’, 2015,  GX Gallery, London

Study for the Libyan.jpg       Michelangelo, ‘Study for the Libyan Sibyl’, 1511, Metropolitan Museum of Art (MET)

testa-femminile-di-profilo-michelangeloMichelangelo, ‘Head Of A Young Man’, c. 1516, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford, UK

‘If I choose Icarus, as a subject matter of my art, I think about the meaning of this myth with all its symbolical and philosophical implications, I bring my discoveries to a conclusion until I end up with a single concept. This abstract concept is the one I then challenge myself to transpose into canvas. When I get down to work on that painting, my mind might still be unsettled – and therefore I start asking myself questions such as “Did Icarus just fail because of his arrogance or was it just youthful ignorance? Could it not just have been an innate ambition of humankind to improve itself in a search of freedom? Could ‘falling’ be the same as ‘flying’? Isn’t the experience of failure necessary to reflect on our weaknesses and appreciate success later? Can I not paint this event as an empowerning, beautiful experience?”

When we talked about Armando’s art 10 years ago and how it has changed throughout the years – the artist revealed:

‘Back then I was in full flow of creation, painting and producing a lot of work. When I reflect on it now, it was perhaps too much work produced too quickly. Now I find myself revisiting some ideas that I had merely brushed over without sufficient thought and consideration. My exhibitions were sell out and maybe this affected the speed of my painting and development of ideas. For painting I used sketches from ballet and contemporary dancers during their rehearsals. This is after all how I developed my own style, by showing their energy and forms of movement as physicality equal or even more accentuated than their actual body.’

camille-italien2(c) Camille Litalien

I also wanted to learn more about the people who posed for  Armando’s artworks – that  point was also explained in detail by the artist:

‘There was one particular dancer that became my muse during that period, Camille Litalien (currently Assistant Professor of Dance and Movement at Utah State University’s Caine College of the Arts). I sketched hundreds if not thousands of drawings of her. As a matter of fact I rarely turned them into paintings, apart from 2 or 3. I used these drawings later for many paintings. The movement of her body was incredible and her mind understood my mind and what I wanted as an artist.’

camille-italien3(c) Camille Litalien

In the book that has been published by GX Gallery that Armando has given me some time ago there were two sketches that I found very powerful and striking –  ‘Abandon’ (2008) and ‘Hope’ (2005).

'Hope' 2015.jpg                      Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Hope’, 2015, GX Gallery, London

As I learned later from the artist both artworks present the same muse – Camille.

‘I’ve done it very quickly’ – said Armando – ‘With just a few impassioned gestural lines that captured the essence of movement. I must say that I get the idea first, the abstract concept, e.g., ‘Hope’. Then I think how I could present that concept visually, which pose would be best. Camille knew this instinctively, to the core of her being, so she was able to embody each concept effortlessly, like a Mozart of dance.’

camille-italien1(c) Camille Litalien

At the end of our conversation I asked Armando, how would  define the act of painting:

Venus 2016.jpgArmando Alemdar Ara, ‘Venus’, 2016, GX Gallery, London

‘Painting for me is like meditation. The very act helps me notice my thoughts, and let them go. Sometimes I ‘see’ myself painting at the easel, I guess some would say, I leave my body. I ‘see’ my thoughts, how they come and go. I don’t do anything with them, my hand are moving as if  they did not depend on my mind. I don’t have to think about which color to choose next. After a while, the conclusions come naturally, by themselves, both into my mind and on the canvas. Everything is in a flow and movement.’ 

When I think of Armando’s work and poetry of Bob Dylan or  the work of any other artist – I can see the constant strive for perfect expression in poetry, in music, on canvas, the need to touch the core of our humanity – as ‘that element’ that brings the artistic work to the next level.

It is the journey to find the right pose, the right stroke, the right word or note that matters and  which makes the work valuable. It is the movement of ‘Life’ that the artist whispers trough the chosen medium of expression : ‘The floor is yours, teach me, I am listening’.


(c) Nacho Ormecha Photography

It is the act of  breaking through the limitations of body and mind, it is accepting the challenge and taking risk even if one could fall:

‘If after out death they want to transform us into any tiny withered flame that walks along the paths of winds- we have to rebel.

 What good is an eternal leisure on the bosom of air, in the shade of yellow halo, amid the murmur of two dimensional choirs? One should enter the rock, wood, water, the cracks of gate. Better to be the cracking of floor than shrilly transparent perfection’.

Zbigniew Herbert, Polish Poet  (translated by Czeslaw Milosz – Nobel Prize winner in Literature, 1980)


(c) Zbigniew Herbert

‘Capturing The Intangible, Ethereal and Spiritual Element of Human Form.'(18)

‘Without a tradition, art is flock of sheep, without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse.’ Winston Churchill

I am sure the most of you are able to recall this classic tale from Greek mythology: asked to find goddess Demeter hiding in a cave, Pan, an avid hunter, prefers to roam the forests of Arkadia in search of game — where he unwittingly falls upon Demeter.

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Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘ORPHEUS AND EUREDICE’, 2014, GX Gallery, London

Looking closer at our lives, we can easily notice that the old tales and stories are the perfect mirror of the universal truths. In fact – during our lives, we often find something of great value and importance (something that we needed and dreamed of for a long time) only once we finally give up and stopped looking. Isn’t this ironic?

Some people call it luck,  but in fact it is serendipity –  a phenomenon to be found in the biographies of  the world’s most famous scientists and discoverers such as Alfred Nobel, Louis Pasteur, Christopher Columbus or Wilhelm Roentgen. The common factor in serendipitous scientific discoveries is that they were all “made by individuals able to see bridges where others saw holes”. The impossible becomes possible when we accept the truth that was beautifully expressed by Seneca: ‘The greatest blessings of mankind are within us and within our reach.’  


Armando Alemdar Ara, Lilith, 2016,GX Gallery, London

In my case, since I am constantly in search for the nuances in the world of art – I have been looking out for ‘the fresh air’, something that would become ‘one of my greatest blessings’  that I could then, share with my readers. To be more specific – I really wanted to find an artist that would be able visualize the invisible, the inner form, energy that is there within us and around us.

Adam II.jpg

Armando Alemdar Ara, ADAM II (HOMAGE TO ANDRE DURAND), 2016, GX Gallery

Moving further, I was especially interested in exploring if a piece of art could become a bridge to a thought-provoking, philosophical dialogue, bring us to nirvana – that is the transcendent state in which there is neither suffering, desire, where one is released from the effects of karma and the cycle of death and rebirth?


Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Hope’, 2014,GX Gallery, London

My question was, is it  actually possible for a contemporary artist to unify the past with the present time, bring together ‘the classical’  and ‘modern’ art’ in a way that ‘fits’ the taste the of modern audience, so deeply fascinated by minimalism and abstract paintings?



‘Embrace’, GX Gallery, London

As you may already have guessed, the answer came unexpectedly, when I was occupied with something that had absolutely nothing to do with art. In fact, back then, I was searching on the internet for the translated fairy tales for my 2-years old niece, by the Dutch writer Herman Dirk that I wanted to buy her for her upcoming birthday. It is important to emphasize that the artistic name of the author I was looking for was Armando.

When I inserted that name into the browser – somehow ‘Uncle Google’ made me land at the website of the London based visual artist known as Armando Alemdar Ara.


This way my unsuccessful online shopping made me spot something precious that I might otherwise – never have discovered.



Armando Alemdar Ara,’Icarus’, 2011, GX Gallery, London

I must admit that for the first time in my life I have found artworks that were the visual form of  the values that I have always admired and searched for in art. I was absolutely stunned by the paintings that were as deep, as poetical and emotionally charged as the essays and speeches of my favorite, British philosopher Alan Watts.

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Alan Watts, 1915-1973,  (british philosopher, writer and speaker)

What is the bottom line of the Armando’s art? What makes him unique and exceptional?

I’d start from the artist intention, his honesty and generosity to invite the onlooker to join him in a deep, contemplative intellectual confession. Further there is a quality – that Alan Watts named in his speech on ‘art of living’ – that is the artist ‘sensitivity, the ability to have the mind open and wholly receptive’.

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Armando Alemdar Ara,’The Call’, 2015, GX Gallery, London

For me, personally, seeing the art of  Armando – was discovering the dual aspect, the complexity of our humanity (the sphere of our inner ‘contrasts’ –  sacrum and profanum,),tasting the state of nirvana, enjoying ‘the now’  without forgetting the past.

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Armando Alemdar Ara,’Longing’, 2013-14, GX Gallery, London

There is the unquestionable harmony of forms and colors that delights and makes the paintings strikingly beautiful. But  more importantly,  while looking at the artworks one may feel inspired contemplate on human condition. The fact that there is so much greatness within us, that we all need to love and be loved but at the same time we tend to be furious, violent and aggressive. The fact that people are full of paradoxes, strong and invincible but also doubtful, fragile and vulnerable. The paintings of Armando show that human beings  are one the one hand perfect divine creations – and, on the other hand – also so erratic and sinful, unable to avoid constant ‘raise and fall’.


Armando Alemdar Ara,’Amor Heroes’, 2013, GX Gallery, London


Armando Alemdar Ara,’Amor Heroes’, 2013, GX Gallery, London

Thrilled and overwhelmed by my exceptional discovery I decided to connect with Armando first via LinkedIn, then arranged a short meeting with him next time I was in London. In truth, the concept of  seeing the painter in person – sat on the horizon, strange and unattainable. But this is what I was really after. I wasn’t sure if our tight schedules will allow us to make this meeting happen. For all I knew, meeting Armando was one of the things in life that you simply have to give a go. Whatever timeline the artist was about to ask of me, I was destined to say yes even if I had to postpone other appointments that I had planned for the day.


Armando Alemdar Ara,’Awakening’, 2016, GX Gallery, London

The short meeting with the painter and art historian at one of the London’s café was something I will never forget. There was a certain electricity in the air during our conversation that activated all my senses . The discussion with the artist was spellbinding, mind-opening and inspiring. Actually wished I could be one of his art students that had the opportunity to learn from the great artist at the  university ( I was delighted to notice that during our conversation Armando actually called his students  in the sweetest and most loving way, that is ‘my children’.)

The things I remember most from the meeting were Armando’s kindness, the warmth of his voice, his contagious enthusiasm and energy, the eagerness to share his passion and genuine love for the art and the humanity. In fact all those virtues have already been beautifully encapsulated in all of his paintings. The questions I asked and the very thoughtful answers that the artist had given to me during our conversation could be found in my next post.

What was it like to meet Armando Alemdar Ara? My experience could be compared to having a coffee with an inspired spiritual leader, the head of a new church who introduced me to a new, intriguing belief. The name of the new artistic religion was Neomodernism – that Armando, the co-founder of artistic movement explains on ‘the manifesto’ on his website:

‘Neomodernism – espouses spiritual and aesthetic values in art. It is also a philosophy of art, a way of looking and creating a new relationship with works of art from the 15th to the 20th century. The movement cuts through the media hype surrounding old master and modernist works of art, labels that have blinded the public – not to say made it hostile – to these works’ Neomodern message.’


Armando Alemdar Ara, PROMETHEUS (HOMAGE TO MICHELANGELO), 2015, GX Gallery

Armando’s artworks,created in 21st century  – represent very innovative and characteristic style (neomodernism), at the same time naturally and intentionally reach out to old traditions of art history. The artist does not cut off from the past, contrary to many contemporary painters. For him the classical art  seem to be the very much needed ambrosia, ‘the natural, mother’s milk’ that nourishes and energizes his canvases, making them powerful and harmonious. Similarly to the scientists that I mentioned earlier in this post, Armando is able to ‘see bridges where others see holes’. He promotes the dynamics, the evolution of life and art and encourages to search for the happiness and tranquility that has its source deep inside of human soul.  The paintings emanate the cosmic and everlasting energy that is ‘around and within us’.

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Armando Alemdar Ara, ‘Fugit Amor’, 2013, GX Gallery

What I find most moving and overwhelming in Alemdar Ara artworks,  is how the visual expression becomes his  voice that could be heard and understood by anyone who looks at his canvases, regardless of age, nationality, believes or status. That voice of the artist is full of love, tenderness and compassion and it seems to echo the words of Seneca, that there is no time to lose, that life is there to enjoy:

“Begin at once to live, and count each separate day as a separate life.” 
― Seneca

* To learn more about Armando’s art you may visit his official website:  and the website of the GX Gallery that represents the artists work:


‘Art Is Either A Daring Adventure Or Nothing At All’ (17)

‘On the ridge where great artist moves forward, every step is an adventure, an extreme risk. In that risk however and only there, lays the freedom of Art’. Albert Camus

There are artworks that you would look at it and feel unsettled; you would look at it and wonder about its meaning, and something in you would be moved, without you knowing why.


Andrew Wyeth, ‘Christina’s World’, 1948, Metropolitan Museum of Art.

And this was exactly how I felt, while I was first introduced to the thrilling art of American realist painter, Andrew Wyeth. It was the discussion that I had with the talented poet living in Maine, US about the iconic painting called ‘Christina’s World’ (MET),  that lead me to the exceptional collection by the same author, known as ‘The Helga Pictures’.

The series of paintings that I discovered few months ago caused certain restlessness in my mind – a feeling that kept me awake at night.  While I was looking at the artworks again this week – there was a song by Matt Simon on the radio, that made me grasp the obvious:

‘There’s a place I go to

Where no one knows me

It’s not lonely

It’s a necessary thing’

RoomAndrew Wyeth, ‘Her Room’, 1982


Andrew Wyeth, ‘The Wind From The Sea’, 1947

Now, let’s think of a place that puts everything else aside, a place that once found, shall never be abandoned.  A place that we choose to stay in, as it feels like the only place on earth that where we could truly be ourselves.


Andrew Wyeth, ‘Day Dream’, 1980

I think you’ve might already have noticed that Whyeth’s art has the ability to bring one to that kind of place. ‘Helga Pictures’ are the provocative bridge leading to the exclusive world created and reserved just for two. There is an American  poet, Red Shuttleworth, that in his poem ‘Happy Birthday Andrew Wyeth’ beautifully described the ‘electricity’ and  highest intimacy between the artist and his blonde muse:

‘Borrowed attic, autumnal field: Helga comes
thirsty… drinks plain iced tea from your cup.
You speak of distant stars or newspaper
delivery boys… only Helga on the bed knows,
turning over and over, droplets of sweat
dampening an off-white Montgomery Wards
cotton sheet.  Her secret. Your secret.’

You might be wondering now why are those paintings so intoxicating,  misterious and moving?  The truth is that only looking deeply into the relationship of the painter could explain all that remains invisible at first glance.


Andrew Wyeth, ‘Self Portrait’, 1949

While gathering information about Wyeth, I was especially interested in revealing the artists ‘secret weapon’ that pierces the onlooker heart with an ache of longing and recognition.

The beauty of Helga portraits lies in the harmony and exceptional trust that was there between the artist and his muse.  Wyeth celebrated quietly being in Helga’s presence, watching her breathe, sit, sleep, exist.  The ‘dazzling Prussian girl’, as the painter used to call his muse, regularly ‘barricaded herself’ in the secondary reality that was accessible only for her and the inspired artist. Place that felt like asylum and ‘run away’ from all that’s ordinary, usual and deprived of magic.

Astonishingly enough, the artist has never really intended to show his works publicly. This is what he confirmed during the only interview ‘on Helga Matter’ that he has ever had:

 ‘My intention was to keep ‘em hidden away until I died’, he says, ‘Then they could be revealed’.


Andrew Wyeth, ‘Braids’, 1979

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Andrew Wyeth, ‘Crown Of Flowers’, 1974

In fact, over the span of 15  Wyeth created 240 artworks keeping it all secret and away from the public eye. As I learned from a  little book written by Thomas Hoving, a former director of Metropolitan Museum of Art –  the only person who has ever interviewed the artist on his controversial ‘artistic process’, Wyeth, believed that he could never have finished ‘The Helga Pictures’ without the public peering over his shoulder. Therefore, he did not reveal their existence to anyone, not even his wife, until the series was completed.

In my opinion Andrew Wyeth was a kind of artist who created either while in love, or did not create all. There was no other force on earth that could make him paint a masterpiece without having the heart engaged in the process.  Similarly to Picasso – Wyeth couldn’t run away from the influence of Eros on his life.


Andrew Wyeth, ‘Night Shadow’, 1979


‘Wild blonde hair, most often in pigtails,
no silly grins, her full breasts, farm-fit body
summer-moist… she lets you,
roughly-handedly, at-first,
position her for the immortality
of sugar-loaded light.’

 As the artist he explained during the interview with Hoving:

‘I knew right away that I wanted this relationship- if it worked- to be a secret. Because I didn’t want anyone to know that I have fallen deeply in love. (…) ‘The difference between me and a lot of painters is that I have to have a personal contact with my models. I don’t mean a sexual love, I mean real love. Many artists tell me they don’t even recall the names of their models. I have to fall in love with mine – hell, I do much the same with tree or a dog. I have to become enamored. Smitten. That’s what happened when I saw Helga walking up the Kuerner’s lane. She was this amazing, crushing blonde.’

Seabed, 1980.jpgAndrew Wyeth, ‘Seabed’, 1980

Helga, on the other hand,  turned out to be the this persistent, restless and most patient model that any artist could dream of. She understood the importance of her role, was discreet, deeply engaged with her whole being in the process of creation.

When I thought about the circumstances in which the exceptional artworks were painted- I can almost see how Andrew  kissed Helga when she entered his house in the evenings. How they sat down, how everything fell into place. I can almost hear Andrew’s words before getting down to work on their first painting, how he pressed his lips together on a smile, feeling the happiness and excitement rise within him, stronger than the fear.

With every new painting – the affection was growing – the feeling was deeper.

‘I don’t know who I am anymore, except with you’ – must have been Andrews words while talking to Helga, or ‘To love is to be alive. In death there is none of this.’

No doubt, there was obsession and deep need to be loved in return between the two lost souls. There was also sadness and loneliness by every ‘goodbye’ that Andrew recalled during the interview – there was this ‘catching and releasing’ that went on till the end of Wyeth’s life.

When the artist wife was asked what she thought of the relationship of her husband with the model, she replied, “All I see is love.”


Andrew Wyeth, ‘Lovers’, 1981

There was also this rare, unique ‘mutual understanding’ that only real soulmates could achieve, something that made it all work:

 ‘If I’d see a good pose, something that enthralled me, I’d say “Stay there.”. And she would- for hours.(…) ‘I deliberately did Helga in all times of the year and weather. Outdoors and indoors. Helga says we lived outdoors – she joked that it was like living with Robin Hood’.


Andrew Wyeth, ‘Refugee’, 1985


Andrew Wyeth, ‘Cape Coat’, 1982

According to the artist – Helga Testorf was the only viewer and curator of Wyeths paintings for 15 years, before ‘the word got out and all hell broke loose.’


I found it truly fascinating to get an insight into the artist’s explanation how he felt about the entire collection:

 ‘Hey, they weren’t paintings to me,  but attempts to discover something about this lady. They were a complex, mental process. The heart of Helga series was that I was trying to unlock my emotions in capturing her essence, in getting her humanity down onto a panel or two. The medium didn’t matter. I didn’t care if they were drawings, watercolors, drybrush hers, temperas. I didn’t sign them until they were all completed because that wasn’t what I was interested in.’

The interview by Howing that I’ve read made me realize that it was Helgas kindness, intelligence, her gentle heart and deep sympathy for Wyeth encouraged the artist to carry on, to set his spirit free:

‘When I saw she wasn’t nervous any longer, I asked if I could make drawings of her without her blouse. She didn’t mind at all’

When you look at many paintings from the collection you could see how comfortable Helga felt with the role of a model. The peace and harmony that emanate from the paintings are moving and so convincing, even though we know she had to be a part of two worlds.

The highly insightful, sensitive ‘The Helga Pictures’ are considered Andre Wyeth’s most remarkable achievement. Those artworks create a testimony of trust, love and real intimacy between artist and his muse. The secret beauty of those artworks may lay in the deep affectionate feeling, masterfully translated it into a universal, visual language of art.

The collection is not only a fascinating journey into the painters heart and soul and his secret life. It  is also a proof that – both for the creators and the admirers, the art could become the greatest escape. The daring adventure, ‘the necessary thing’, the place where anything is possible and where, just like in the song, ‘one could reveal life’s mystery.’

Sleep Study

Andrew Wyeth, ‘Sleep, Study’

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