Wednesday, July 31, 2013
The Kingdom of Bahrain's presentation at La Biennale included works by Mariam Haji, Waheeda Malullah, and Camille Zakharia. Waheeda Malullah is a visual artist who works in multiple media with a focus on photography and video. Playful exploration is the hallmark of her art practice. Issues regarding the role of women dress and religion in her traditional community is a typical theme of her artistic endeavors. For this Biennale exhibition, she presented photographs of women dressed in the typical burka, fully covered head to toe, in interesting situations, like the one I painted here, she's inside a huge metal pipe, probably used for waterworks. The title of this group of photographs is "A Villager's Day Out".
Tuesday, July 30, 2013
Venice, Italy, and Yangzhou, China, are both cities that "grew from canals". The Grand Canal between Beijing and Hangzou is the earliest and longest man-made waterway in the world. For La Biennale di Venezia, 11 Chinese artists were invited to present. Wang Du's installation, as my small watercolor above shows, represents a bathtub, with a Yamaha motor off board. It's title is: "Love in the Time of Cholera", like the experiences of the hero and heroine of the novel, he points out that the only survival instinct of mankind is fearless romanticism and idealism. Wang Du lives and works in Paris, France.
Monday, July 29, 2013
At La Biennale di Venezia, I read a booklet published by Enel Contemporanea. This is an electricity company that is one of the sponsors of La Biennale. This is what they have to say:
"We wondered: is there something more luminous than light? ART is more luminous than light. We have realized that art makes a truly special light, because it is the only light that let us look at it, a light that illuminates without glare. Normal light illuminates the darkness around us, art illuminates what is inside us."
While being a resident artist at Arte Studio Ginestrelle, in Assisi, I visited La Biennale di Venezia. For a few days, I'm writing about La Biennale.
Today: THE SWISS PAVILION's presentation: THE SNAKE AND THE MOPED, artist: Valentin Carron. A wrought iron serpent welcomes you at the threshold of the Swiss Pavilion. It is a sculpture and a line that extends in space, indicates a path, and questions the status of the artwork and the function of sculpture, using the archaic symbol of the snake. Carron gives it new meaning, shifting into new material, using the moped for...future generations?
Sunday, July 28, 2013
In my last blog post, I described my impression with "U from Uruguay" presentation at La Biennale di Venezia. The artist is Martin Sastre. On the presentation, we read: "With the making of this perfume: "U from Uruguay", he extracts the essence of flowers and weeds from the farm of the President of Uruguay, Jose Mujica. Sastre is really trying to extract the essence of the austere way of life that distinguishes the head of government. Rather than moving into the presidential residence, President Mujica lives on his modest farm on the outskirts of the city, selling the flowers he grows in local markets and giving away 90% of his monthly salary for social housing, thus becoming a global icon of austerity. Sastre's proceeds from the sale of the perfume will go to establish a National Contemporary Art Fund in support of Uruguayan artists, thus applying President Mujica's principles to art. Sastre underscores the unpretentious lifestyle of the president of Uruguay."
Nest stop: THE SWISS PAVILION.
Saturday, July 27, 2013
Continuing with my comments about La Biennale di Venezia: URUGUAY. There was a beautiful triangular blue glass bottle, shining under a spotlight, on a pedestal. On it, a big U, for Uruguay. Behind the pedestal, on a video screen, you could see the story behind the making of "U, the perfume of Uruguay". From the flower fields he's collecting the fresh flowers, then a handsome man is climbing an ancient building `a la Indiana Jones style, then a masked (Batman type) man with a cape continues, to take off his mask, and most of his clothes, then he opens his briefcase `a la James Bond, takes out this huge key and opens this ancient door, to find....the blue glass bottle, the "perfume of Uruguay". There are only three bottles in the world, and they will be auctioned at the end of the Biennale, they said. It was a lot of fun.
As promised in my previous blog entry: La Biennale di Venezia's Dominican Republic presentation: A screen projecting four people seriously dressed and seriously reading Rules and Regulations about Chewing Gum. "Rule number 43, single women may not chew gum- Rule number 44, it is not allowed to walk, dance, and chew gum at the same time - Rule number 45, male and female cannot chew gum in the same room at the same time - Rule....." you get the idea! On the side of the screen, there was a bowl full of individually wrapped chewing gum, with a sign saying the audience was invited to pick up a piece, chew the gum, then stick it on to the screen. Needles to say, the screen was full of chewed pieces of gum, some "dripping" down from the screen, some sticking the wrapping paper to the screen. I made my contribution, while laughing at the on-going rules... Social commentaries seemed to be a constant at the Biennale's art installations. Next stop: Uruguay!
Friday, July 26, 2013
Continuing with LA BIENNALE DI VENEZIA (Venice Biennale): The theme of this 55th exhibition is the Encyclopaedic Palace, with the aspiration of showing a blending of contemporary art and historical tradition in the manner of an encyclopedia.
Most of the work is "installations", and I found that in their majority they question the system, be it the political, social or economic situation of their country or a universal concern. The installations sometimes were small, consisting of a video and an object, like in the case of Uruguay and the Dominican Republic, or in some cases they occupied a huge building and had taken months of work and a considerable expense to set up. The expense and work did not necessarily mean excellence or made it attractive in my eyes. Next stop: the Dominican Republic Chewing Gum Regulations!
La Biennale di Venezia, from June 1st to the end of November, started 110 years ago, organized according to national pavilions. Then other dimensions were added. This year 88 countries are participating, ten of them for the first time, like the Vatican. I visited the Venice Biennale this week, that's the reason I have not written this blog for a few days, and now I will be writing about the Biennale for a while, to share my views and impressions with my readers.
Impossible to see it all in a few days, impossible to write about it all in a few lines, so I'll pick and chose from what I did see, what impressed me, or what I remember. The comments will be personal, incomplete, and I take full responsibility for its content. Stay tuned for the next blog....
From Assisi, Italy, where I painted "Silencio", I recently finished reading "The Garlic Ballads", by Nobel Prize Winner in literature MO YAN. It is a denunciation of the peasants struggle and suffering in China as recently as the 1980s. The writing is beautiful and poignant, Mo Yan immerses us in the stench, blood, sweat and tears of the peasants. Not an easy read for me, I suffered with every character in the story.
Sunday, July 21, 2013
Motherwell speculated that there were different "families" of painters, and he belonged to the "black family" and earth-color painters in masses", a group that included Manet, Goya, Matisse ("don't forget that his greatest color is black") Miro, and sometimes Picasso. He aspired to join this company of painters who used Black as a Color, rather than a tone. Black color is quite prevalent in Spanish art, I think. Is there a connection to death in the bull-ring? At "five in the afternoon", like Lorca would say?
Friday, July 19, 2013
A few days ago we saw BROTHER SUN, SISTER MOON, by Franco Zefirelli. I know it's not a new hot movie. It's an old movie, it's an even still older story. But now I am HERE, where it happened. After watching the movie I went to the Church of Santa Chiara, and stared at the crucifix, not only THE crucifix in Zefirelli's movie, but THE crucifix, painted in the 1100s, that "spoke" to, affected and influenced Francis in the 1200s. Being here in Assisi, being able to walk through the same places Frances and Chiara walked, history comes to life in a very special way.
Thursday, July 18, 2013
painted near Assisi, Umbria, Italy
Ralph Waldo Emerson, in "Circles", said:
"The one thing which we seek with insatiable desire is to forget ourselves, to be surprised out of our propriety, to lose our sempiternal memory, and to do something without knowing how or why...Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm. The way of life is wonderful: it is by abandonment."
This is the area where I'm living, walking, painting, working, breathing in now. Range of nuances, scene becomes emotion, nature repeats itself. Mysticism and nature in perfect union, ginestra in bloom covering the fields with yellow flowers, and its smell invading your soul. Breathe in, breathe out, close your eyes, open your eyes. You are in Umbria, "the green heart of Italy".
Tuesday, July 16, 2013
This is a view of St. Francis of Assisi Church from a vintage point on the road. Inside, the walls are covered with paintings by Giotto and his students.
Reading about Dante, in DANTE, A LIFE, by R.W.B. Lewis, I find that once during a walk with his friend Latini, he predicted the future for him. Later Dante put this conversation in his COMEDIA, like this: "If you follow your star, you cannot fail to reach a glorious port, if I discern rightly, in the fair life." Francis of Assisi, Dante, and anybody who ever was successful, followed his/her star. So should we, and we will reach our port.
Monday, July 15, 2013
Walking around Assisi, in the province of Perugia, in Umbria, we often see grapevines attached to a wall, a building, and even to another tree for support.
Reading DANTE, A LIFE, by R.W.B. Lewis, I've just learned that when the first gold florin was minted in 1552, it became almost instantly the basic monetary measure in Europe. Its originality consisted in that instead of being engraved with the pope or the emperor, as it had been the custom, it had the symbols of the city of Florence (thus "florin"), St. Giovanni on one side, and the lily on the other, the city's secular emblem.
Sunday, July 14, 2013
I recently read THE BOY WHO FELL TO EARTH, by Kathy Lette. It was funny, heartbreaking, witty and wise. I recommend it very much. I particularly recommend you to read it, if you have a child or a member of your family who is not perfect, and you love them. Living with them is difficult, living without them unthinkable. The boy in this story is autistic, Asperger Syndrome, by the name of Merlin. He reminded me of an Asperger Syndrome boy I knew years ago, he's a man now, David. Kathy Lette gives us a wonderful story of living with and loving your child, no matter what.
Friday, July 12, 2013
Walking and painting at Arte Studio Ginestrelle, in Italy, one has time to meditate. Some quotations from Nobel Prize winners come to mind:
"Old age is wonderful...A pity it ends so badly." ---François Mauriac, LITERATURE, 1952
"The past is never dead. It's not even past." ---William Faulkner, LITERATURE, 1949
"Why two sexes rather than three? What a source of new plots three sexes would provide for novelists, of new variations for psychologists, of new complications for lawyers."
---François Jacob, MEDICINE, 1965
Tuesday, July 9, 2013
While having breakfast in Assisi, I meditate on the city's history: The first indication of a town inside the walls of Assisi date back to the 6th century B.C. The Etruscans, then the Romans, influenced the area greatly. The Goths, then the Byzantines, the Longobards had wars over it, conquering and losing the town one after the other. In the 12th C. it became an independent commune, and fights between Assisi and Perugia began....and continue up to this day! Assisi not only gave birth to the famous St. Francis (of Assisi) and St. Clare, or "Santa Chiara"in Italian, but also to artists and writers like the poet Sesto Properzio, and painters Tiberio d'Assisi and Dono Doni.
Friday, July 5, 2013
An old chair in the garden: Arte Studio Ginestrelle, Assisi, region of Umbria, in Italy. The yellow flower, "ginestra", gives its name to the Residency: "ginestrelle", little ginestra. A place to meditate, read, and find your "duende", after Federico Garcia Lorca's definition of your inspiration, your passion for creation, your losing yourself in something new, exciting, inviting, the joy of discovering a connection between what's inside yourself and how to express it.
Wednesday, July 3, 2013
One of my last paintings while Resident Artist in Ricklundgården, Sweden. The deer run wild, although they belong to the Sami population. The variety of designs or growth patterns of their horns is amazing, and very beautiful.
Rosalyn Yalow, Nobel Prize in Medicine 1977, wrote: "The excitement of learning separates youth from old age. As long as you're learning, you're not old."