Chance Aesthetics

October 9, 2009

Since my mother was diagnosed with cancer I have not have much time or energy to go out and see many art exhibitions. In addition to that, there hasn’t been much time for even working in the studio. Other than the small drawings I have done I have been sort of out of the art loop.

In saying that, Monday I was able to make it over to the Mildred Lane Kemper Art Museum on the campus of Washington University. I also what to state that I like going there to see contemporary art than I like going to the Contemporary Art Museum St. Louis. I think the exhibitions at the Kemper are more varied and I like that the museum is free and being in the situation I am in, free is great. I honestly have not been too interested in the recent exhibitions at CAMSTL.

The exhibitions I saw were Chance Aesthetics and Metabolic City. I will separate the two into separate posts. I was interested in Chance Aesthetics because in my own art I have used elements of chance to develop my work. I tend to use it as a starting point such as dumping ink or paint, using drip patterns and allowing “mistakes” to happen and worked with the unexpected things that come up when making art.

Historically, art has been a skill in which an artist demands exceptional control to achieve a great work. This means works were planned endeavors obsessive perfection. In the 20th century some artists decided to work in opposition to this. The exhibition starts with the Surrealists and Dada, which makes sense to me. What I think is so great about using chance as a basis for a work is that it becomes playful and fun instead of being an intellectual and dry assignment that a lot of art has become.

Some of the works are sloppy and dirty but some are totally obsessive, clean and systematic. The latter still retain an element of surprise and engagement.

Some notable artists and works. I like Ellsworth Kelly’s gridded, cut-up and reassembled drawings.

Ellsworth Kelly

Ellsworth Kelly

There is Mimmo Rotella’s decollages of advertisements that you might see on the streets where posters are layered and ripped apart. Sort of like a defaced pop art.

Mimmo Rotella

Mimmo Rotella

Similar to Rotella’s is Jacques Villegle’s work. Something is very subversive and punk about these works. I like that.

Jacques Villegle

Jacques Villegle

I did love the simplicity of Duchamp’s readymade, “hatrack”, that was hanging from the ceiling. I think most people would see the spider-like look of this work and I think most would enjoy this one cause of its playfullness and it is non-confrontational.

Marcel Duchamp

Marcel Duchamp

I enjoyed William Anastasi’s subway drawings. I was doing stuff like this when I was in London. I am not saying I did it first but I feel a connection to this cause of my own personal experience with this mindless exercise. Fun and surprising to make.

William Anastasi's Subway Drawings

William Anastasi's Subway Drawings

There is the systematic digital looking Francois Morellet’s telephone directory works. By just looking at it, it looks like a non-objective minimalism. There is the white one that has the layer of varnish on some areas…white on white…so when you look at it at certain angles you see the differences. I think of Ryman’s white paintings. With the black one’s I think of Ad Reinhart’s black paintings. Those ones are definitely more quiet and subtile. Some of them use hot and sometimes competing color schemes that are more challenging. His work can seem like a combination of a Sol LeWit type of work and op-art. The grid seems to be a very important part of the structure of his work.

A telephone directory work by Francois Morellet

A telephone directory work by Francois Morellet

In addition to those works there is Arman’s work in which he collect Claes Oldenburg’s trash. Interesting in an invasion of privacy kind of way. There was a osmotic work by George Maciunas in which spills ink onto a canvas ans lets it spread a soak into the canvas. Marcel Jean and Andre Breton’s drawings were similar. There was Ray Johnson’s mail art and game-like works. There were some exquisite corpse drawings, John Cage compositions and a Nam June Paik’s blank films…well except dust scratches and whatever happened to interfere with the film. Plus there were Deiter Roth’s rotting works.

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Computer Chips and Art

July 16, 2009

While at the library I cam across a magazine called, Technology Review. It is published by MIT. Specifically, the one I was looking at was the February 2009 issue. I picked it up and just started flipping through the pages. While at it, I came across these wonderful pictures of computer chips; large and detailed. I was pretty stunned at how beautiful they are.

These pictures brought to mind some artists…specifically the painter Peter Halley and  Hans Hoffman. Halley’s definitely have a circuit or diagram influence. Being that his paintings started showing up in the 1980s, computer circuitry influence doesn’t seem far fetched. In comparison to an actual chip, they are extremely simplified. However, Hans Hoffman started gaining a reputation as an abstract expressionist painter in the early-mid 20th century. So I doubt a connection could be made to computer chips. I just thought of him because of the hard-edged geometric squares and rectangles that lay in contrast to free-form “painterly” brush strokes. With some of the chips there are some ridged areas and some areas that seem more murky. There isn’t the “push” or “pull” that made the Hoffman paintings so famous.

Here are a couple Halley paintings:

panic-room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2140184089_e0737b4022 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here are a couple of Hoffman paintings:

hofmann 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

102786 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ok, here are the chips I was looking at in the magazine:

L to R top: Intel 8080, Intel 8086; L to R bottom: Intel 386, AMD 386

L to R top: Intel 8080, Intel 8086; L to R bottom: Intel 386, AMD 386

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

motorola 68000 introduced in 1979. Powered the Macintosh 128K

motorola 68000 introduced in 1979. Powered the Macintosh 128K

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

L: Intel Pentium processor introduced in 1993; R: IBM PowerPC 601 also introduced in 93

L: Intel Pentium processor introduced in 1993; R: IBM PowerPC 601 also introduced in 93

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The IBM PowerPC chip was developed jointly with Apple and Motorola. This chip was used in Power Macs.

Intel Pentium 4 chip introduced in 2000

Intel Pentium 4 chip introduced in 2000

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2007's Intel Core 2 Duo

2007's Intel Core 2 Duo

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I will make note that these chips are in chronological order. The first one was introduced in 1974 and had 5,000 transistors and was the heart of the Altair personal computer. The last one, introduced in 2007, has 410 million transistors and more than one” core” plus a huge data cache. It is amazing how complex these things are and the size of todays chips are tiny in comparison to ones in the past.


Announcement and Cindy Tower

June 5, 2009

Slacking on the blogging. However, I am not slacking in general. I am going to be part of a group show at St. Charles Community College this August. It is their annual Multimedia Exhibition. I am honored to be invited and to be showing with some other awesome St. Louis artists. Plus, I am working on a website for someone I know who has a business. Plus, I might have a few more things in the pipeline. Other than that, I’ve been out riding the bike and enjoying the outdoors. After all, it is summer-time. 

A month or two ago I went to check out some art at the Sheldon Art Galleries. I wanted to see what was up with all the hoopla over the Cindy Tower exhibit. She does plein air paintings of industrial and inner city ruins. Mostly, these are in East St. Louis. Plus, she documents the process. 

I have sort of mixed opinion of her. The paintings are nice as paintings. She is obviously a talented painter can really capture all the detail and beauty of the spaces in decay. They actually seem lifelike. 

IMG_1073

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I think the paintings can stand on their own. This is where I feel mixed. She makes videos documenting the process of painting these. Obviously, the process is important to her. However, I question the importance to the viewer. Is the video supposed to demystify the process or is it purely self-indulgent? My opinion is that the documentation is unnecessary and I would like to have some mystery. Honestly, I am not interested in the process. Well, I like to imagine what it is like.

Some part of me feels like it is exploitative too. Here is a white woman going into a perceived dangerous ghetto that is almost 100% non-white. She goes in and makes these paintings and then selling showings and probably selling these paintings to well-off people. She seems interested in showing the decay and the beauty of it. However, is she doing anything to make those areas better? I am not sure. Anyway, does she even want that? I mean, that is her subject and the revival of East St. Louis would take away her subject matter. Of course, this is St. Louis. There are plenty of areas wrought with decay. 

Plus she is blatantly breaking the law and brags about it in the videos. I think that sort of makes artists look bad. To me, she is trying to make the paintings a performance but I don’t like the “bragging” about how dangerous the process is. it just seems like a case of a well-off privileged white woman having an adventure (slumming) at the expense of the poor.

I like the paintings and I do find the warped canvases, the dirt and the grime that is on the paintings because of the circumstances of creating them quite nice. They are not these precious and pristine objects. They reflect the subjects well. I am just not sure about the need for the documentation and just giving away the process and not leaving any kind of mystery for my imagination.

Why do I want mystery? In my case when I see an abandoned building or drive through a run down area, being a white woman from crystal clean suburbia, I do have this fascination with decay. It does seem exotic. I do get a sense of wonder because it is different. I get curious and want to explore but I get a sense of fear and anxiety of the unknown. Seeing the paintings lets me see inside and still get that feeling. I guess, I don’t want to the reality because it does expose how well off I am in the world. I guess it makes me feel guilty in finding pleasure in someone else’s pain. What I see between the paintings and the documentation is a tug-a-war or reality and romanticism. However, the mystery is gone. 

The paintings with the artist statement with the description of the process was enough for me. The videos….not interested. However, the work does pose some interesting and pressing sociological issues that St. Louis and the nation needs to deal with.


New Work With “Webs/Maps” and Oil Bars

April 11, 2009

I am going to make this very short today. I got some new work coming along. Feeling good about the progress being made. Soon I hope to have some pictures of some of the new work. 

I started doing these drawings (mostly for fun so I could get out of the rut I feel like I was in) at first on paper. They were of just random objects I could think of  that related to the day’s events. Then I would wrap or connect them through this “web” made up of little squares. I started to notice the squares and their borders started to look like city plans; sort of like the following map you will see. The pattern that is formed is similar but less “regular” and is not derived from any particular place. It is from my mind. Totally intuitive and layered. 

 

Section of an old map of Vienna, Austria

Section of an old map of Vienna, Austria

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The use of the map is nothing new with my work. I just started a new way to go about it. I then decided I didn’t really need the objects and just started drawing the “web”. I started letting the edges overlap. This formed new “webs”.  Making them is repetitive and meditative. 

Now I have started painting these with oil bars on canvas. I’ll see how those go. I like the oil bars because they are oil paint but applied through drawing. It is immediate and have a raw aesthetic that I like. I work rather fast. It is like being a kid and drawing with the thick crayons. 

So right now it is a combination of these intricate pen drawings that I described in earlier paragraphs and the oil bar drawings derived from the same idea but they look so different. 

So through the elimination of everything except for one element, I have found some inspiration and motivation. So hopefully this is a move forward after about a year of struggling with my work. 

Once I get to a point of being finished with some, I will be sure to show.


Elvis Painting

March 22, 2009

 

What makes people produce art that depicts a celebrity one does not know? 

 

I can see a person making a portrait to honor someone important to one’s life. I can see someone making a portrait for some money (a commissioned work). I can see someone doing it for an exercise. I am not exactly sure what drives a person to spend so much time on a painting or drawing of a person they don’t know. I think it it has to be a product of obsession. Of course, this is something I can expect out of adolescence because, from my experience, when a teenager really likes something a lot they can be rather obsessive and evangelistic about whatever that thing is. It could be a love, some celebrity, a musician, comics, sports. You name it. What about adults?

I was in Memphis, TN last week. My boyfriend and I went to Graceland to see Elvis’s home and the whole spectacle. While doing the tour, we ran into a wall of art sent to either Elvis himself and to the estate. It is said that they have too much to show, so they rotate the works. They are mostly paintings of Elvis himself at different points in his career. There was one of his mother. There was this giant 6 foot full body oil paintings of Elvis looking rather heroic. (I was also thinking he looks like a Chippendale…with the bow tie around his nude neck).  I was starting to think of the works of Van Dyck and the fully portraits he did of the most noble people from that time period. Can we really compare Elvis to some king or leader of the state? Well, his nickname is “The King”. Actually, can I compare this anonymous artist to one of the most hailed painters of all time? I don’t think so. 

Here is a pic I took. They quality is not that good. It was rather dim in the room and could not use a flash (which would be bad for the painting and as you can see, there is already a hefty glare from the lighting). 

 

Elvis oil painting

Elvis oil painting

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Here is a Van Dyck painting….

 

 

King Charles I

King Charles I

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of course, when I think of Elvis related art, I think of something on black velvet. Something really cheesy. As for the Graceland stuff, I guess they figured there is so much of art made in his honor, they should display some of it. They could probably just have a museum of the work.