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Archive for the ‘Surreal’ Category

SpilledMilk
Classicism gives way to Romanticism: right there at the dairy section of Trader Joe’s, a gallon jug of milk falls off the peaceful, orderly shelf without any apparent provocation.
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14MayWhatNumber4
Again, the juxtaposition of chaotic and precise forms, round and rectilinear, irrational and rational, spontaneous and planned, fuzzy and delineated, Dionysian and Apollonian. The whole brain, not left or right, the works.
It’s well worth your time to contemplate what happens in your mind and your emotions when the 4 is superimposed here.

14MayWhatNumber
Btw, this swirling action was put on top of an earlier, abandoned painting in such a way that the early rectilinear shapes were left to show as pentimento, letting a shadow of memory and rationality connect us to yet another layer of time.
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14EACshowFeet2

This very fine exhibit opened a few days ago and will be up til Feb 16.  Come in whatever you can throw on to keep warm or slip into your most retro patent leather boots, but do hoof it over to the Evanston Art Center to catch this show.

14EACshow114EACshow214EACshow314EACshow5

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13RedCrochetIt’s hard to explain.  Crocheting and non-Euclidian geometry?  My model is now on display in the Evanston Art Center lobby. Pick up a flyer or visit the Evanston Art Center and read all about it:

http://www.evanstonartcenter.org/school/crochet-hyperbolic-plane

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13StudioGallKaren

Now it’s my drawing students’ turn in the Studio Gallery.  There are thirty-three drawings on exhibit, grouped by artist.  The work stretches over a two year period. You’ll see a variety of styles, in both still life and head/figure studies. 

13StudioGalMaggyDrawing is an intimate medium. You can’t look at a drawing from across the room.  You have to get up close and personal.  This is the medium that gives you the feeling that you are entering another mind as it tries to grasp the complexities of perception. Drawing is closest to my heart.

13StudioGalLinneThanks to Cynthia Bold, Linné Dosé, Gabrielle Edgerton, Karen Gerrard, Ale Podestá, and Maggy Shell for submitting your work.  Thank you, Ale, for helping me with hanging the show and applying your good eye.

13StudioGallAleThe work is for sale, at negotiable prices.  The show closes Oct 27. 

13StudioGalGabyDrawings are hard to document by camera.  You’ll just have to come in and see.  Here’s the notice from the Evanston Art Center web site:

http://www.evanstonartcenter.org/exhibitions/sketches-studies-studio-gallery

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13SAICsophiekahn2

When I saw the MFA exhibit at the School of the Art Institute in May, the piece that I found most moving was a sculpture, or rather the shadow cast by a sculpture.  The sculpture itself, the bust of a woman, was fragmented.  It wasn’t clear whether she was in the act of becoming or was being shredded to disintegration.  But in the shadow cast on the wall, she was whole.  It seemed to me that the work was not about a piece created by strips of white clay, but about the shadow. 

It seemed obvious to me that the artist, Sophie Kahn, was working with light. Her medium was not clay at all, but light and shadow. People who only saw the raggedy clay forms were missing the point.  Look!  The shadow!  That’s where we have the art—the life of this piece is in the shadow!

How did she create this effect?  I imagined her sculpting with a certain light source precisely placed on one side of her sculpting stand and a wall precisely distanced on the other side.  Then, for the installation in this gallery, she had to precisely duplicate these distances and angles.  A daunting task.  And for what? To create a shadow! 

This is profound, I thought.  When watching a movie, I’m inclined to think it’s about something other than the plot; when reading I’m inclined to be skeptical; in drawings and paintings, I’m inclined to look at the so-called negative space (an inclination well-documented in these posts) ; in general, it’s all about illusions.  Or as Goethe says in Faust:  “Alles Vergängliche  ist nur ein Gleichnis”…Am farbigen Abglanz haben wir das Leben.”  (All that must disappear is but a parable…We live our life amongst refracted color.)

Those lines are wafting through my brain whenever I contemplate art. Add to that the fact that in May when I was looking at this sculpture-shadow, I was reading “A Short History of the Shadow” by Victor Stoichita.

Well, I had to meet the artist.  I did and she talked about her work.————————–

13SAICsophiekahn1

Stay tuned.

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13BoyerrGrnSquVaseArrow

I encourage my painting students to work big.  Working on a large canvas helps you think in the modernist mode.  You’re more inclined to work with a big brush and a big brush makes an assertive, juicy, gestural stroke.  When you work small, you’re more inclined to think “decorative,”  more inclined to want to please someone else and more inclined to adhere to what you think are rules.

So, go for the big picture!

Bruce Boyer has definitely been converted to the big canvas.  He paints on 30 x 40.  Yesss!!  Because he works in oil—slow drying—he prepares the underpainting ahead of class.  The tones he chooses for the underpainting are rich sepia browns, reminiscent of the Italian Renaissance, or equally serious deep blues.

Then the shapes appear.  How?  I don’t know, exactly.  I do know, however, that whatever you put down on a canvas will trigger an association.  In the above painting, the green square came first.  The painting takes over.  From step to step, it lets you know what’s needed.  Boyer seems to be investigating the illusion of planes and spacial depth.  Notice that as soon as you think you know where you are, situated in credible space, your attention wonders to some element in the painting that throws your certainty out the window.  Endlessly fascinating.

When, as a painter, you’ve hit upon a game like that, it’s good to keep poking at its possibilities, variations and mysteries.  How does this work?  How does my mind work when I do this?

13BoyerRedSnakeFinalPlusBlueThat’s Boyer’s 40 x 30 painting, starting with bluish-black underpainting.  And here are two earlier stages for you to puzzle over. Notice how your attention moves through the painting.

13BoyerRedSnake113BoyerRedSnakeFinal

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In Indianapolis, at a sudden turn of Mass Ave, there’s a fresh new book store called Indy Reads.  I was there last week.  I was the only visitor in the book store.  Whenever I find a wonderful place I always wonder why it isn’t crowded.  I know, that’s precisely why it’s wonderful.  Anyway, there on the notices board, somebody had tacked: “Sit perfectly still.  Be moved.” (I didn’t have time to get the name of the poet, who was planning a reading of his work.)

That’s drawing in a nutshell:  Sit perfectly still. Be moved.

Back home at my kitchen table, I’m reading “A History of Private Life: From Pagan Rome to Byzantium,” Phillipe Ariès and Georges Duby, ed.   The image in the open book shows a writing woman of Pompeii. The caption says, “The grace of hesitation.”

Hesitation is part of writing and also part of drawing.  So is grace.  Sometimes, the grace of hesitation and sometimes the grace of being moved to make a sudden turn.

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I’ve always been grateful to Haydn for inventing the symphony but have more often than not found his compositions a bit too tame.  Until last week, that is, when I heard his Four Seasons performed under Carlos Kalmar’s direction at Millennium Park.  At its 1801 premier in Vienna it was a success, but I can’t imagine that performance to have been as bold as the one we heard here in Chicago last week.

But back to visuals.

The woman at left was posing for a friend whose fumbling with a camera required multiple takes.  This gave me time to pull out my pocket Sony.  I immediately saw this composition and am showing the photo without later cropping or tweaking.  My take on the scene will never make it as a having-a-good- time-wish-you-were-here postcard, will it.  It’s funny, I hope that’s your reaction.  It also has a warmth that the left-right flip lacks.

The flip is also funny, but in a weird way.  Pessimistic, gloomy, just plain wrong.  If this had been the scene in front of me—and that’s entirely possible—it’s unlikely that I would have “seen” it and taken the shot.

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When I set up a still life, I always remind the students that they can pick and choose.  You can decide to draw the whole pile of stuff or you can zoom in on a passage and work that out.  You can also aim for representation with all its complexities of shadows and high lights or you can take inspiration from the shapes in general and do whatever.

One student opted for the whole pile of stuff, but without the doll.  Only one student faced the challenge of the doll.  The other two (small class this term) settled for drapery, the supposedly bugaboo of still lifes.   Interesting, about the drapery.  If I had presented just drapery, the view might have been perceived as boring.  But drapery as one element in a very diverse pile of shapes, emerged as the choice cut.  Students always balk against drawing drapery—it’s complicated—but after so many months of balking, they have learned how to approach it and, lo and behold, drapery now is a welcome subject.  Probably because after so much practice, they can handle it.  Progress.  Let’s hear it for practice!!

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A doll’s curly hair can inspire propeller shapes and sometimes a doll lying down can, when turned vertical, suggest a funny face.  We do have fun in this class. Hard work and a lot of fun!

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