Friday, February 29, 2008

The Catcher in the Rye

Knowingly borrowing from the works of well known or forgotten artists is really an attractive staff. Salvador Dalí can be a very good example for that research. He knew very well the value of a good idea, which was not yet in the central focus of mass culture conscious.

There is a story about a temptations of hermit Anthony, first written by Athanasius of Alexandria. This experience represents an irresistible life challenge for certain people, which cannot be rejected. The story went through countless interpretations. One of the most incredible experience is awaiting you in the book "Temptation of st. Anthony" written by Gustave Flaubert. This surrealistic typhoon stirred my waters about fifteen years ago, when I was living in my hermitage of wood. I got intoxicated by this unusual text during deep nights – I did not experience any religious shock – just the touch of the Flaubert's phenomenon made me shivering and shaking and caused birth of new horizons somewhere deep inside of my rising universe.

But, to stay in the trays of the topic, the opportunity to substantiate the wondrous Anthony's experience tempted many masters of brush and colour. One of them was Salvator Rosa, whose monsters attacking the lonely hermit have quite temporary look.

Salvator Rosa saint Anthony
Salvator Rosa, Temptation of st. Anthony, 1646

Three centuries later a painting with the same subject and features was created by a painter with the same first name. You can discover there an interesting idea of Rosa, which immediately became an ace of spades in the hands of master Dalí.

Salvador Dali Saint Anthony
Salvador Dalí, Temptation of st. Anthony, 1946, detail

The general view of the painting discloses the power of imagination of the very specific Spaniard, producing new and new variations exploiting the unnoticed detail, lying bare several centuries. But the little spark inside the right head can cause unexpected fire.

Salvador Dali Saint Anthony

Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Art of youth

The Academy of Fine Arts in Bratislava is a place causing mixed emotions to its students as well as to its visitors. But anyway, if we search for a place, where the future of the culture is born in this country, this is the right one. Mostly because there is no other choice.

Twice a year The Academy is open for public. You can go in and walk through the workshops and have a look at the works of students. You may have all kind of expectations before seeing the show and you will be filled with very different feelings after you finish the inspection. Last time I participated the weekend of the open doors in January. Honestly, after my previous experience I decided to walk only through the department of painting.

abstract painting
Author of the painting: Sylvia Cechova

Facing the courage and self-confidence of young people I am slowly realising my age. But, for the sake of respectability and diplomacy, this time I will focus on the works I found interesting or even attractive. Other does not matter. The word "painting" for me has a particular content based on certain experience. More specifically a historical experience, which in the light of Academy production looks pretty out-fashioned.

Well, in spite of this I can introduce a few interesting authors and works worthy to be seen. The choice is purely subjective.

Author of the paintings: Lucia Talova
city view painting
abstract city view
abstract painting
I found catching look series of decorative paintings induced from a city views – in transcending to a slight abstraction they are very suitable for a company's representative interiors. With potential to get paid well, of course. After a short discussion the author – Lucia Talova, expressed slight disagreement with my opinion that it is decorative. But is not a good decorative painting a piece of art too? Is it something minor? I do not think so. These paintings were well done.

Author of the paintings: Kristina Simekova
abstraction Kristina
abstraction Kristina
colorful abstraction

Pure abstract forms with special choice of colours is quite a tradition at this academy. Year after year the students repeat almost the same repertoire. From time to time some of them get free from that standard and offer something more spectacular. Such is Kristina Simekova, whom I know personally and in the future I will try to interview her. Her paintings shake my attention particularly with the choice of colours. Sometimes it feels quite bold to me, something as a manner of youth rebellion. But these are just a few paintings in the light of what may and must come. I expect bursting of creativity in the near future, so let's wait and see.

Author of the paintings: Agnesa Urgeova
portrait prints
portrait prints

These are the works I got most inspired of, mostly because I am involved in figure painting. Series of portraits titled "Wanted". Monotypic prints implying portraits, where the raw features of a face can be recognized. Hang on the wall, about ten pieces side by side, leaving deep impression of freedom to imagine all the possible connotations - from horror to basic sketch of portrait. The author was facing slight critique from academy authorities, taking it seriously and thinking of adjusting the future work to their suggestions. But, to me the prints worked well, I really felt they were good and wished to see more from the author's production. Maybe she will be willing to answer some questions. Surely you will hear more about her soon.

Did you like the show? Feel free to comment the artwork, ask questions to the authors, I can provide answers in future posts. Even more: Do you study in an academy of fine arts? Do you think your works could be shown here, interviewed by me? Leave your link, let others know your work. This is the right place for it.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Lunchtime intermezzo for black ink and reed pen

Lunch is a part of the day I like the most (of course, I enjoy the work too, because it cultivates :-)). On one side I can switch off my machine and for a short time look at the sunshine, smiling faces and put fingers deep into my wallet. In addition the lunch time is an opportunity for me to be myself. At least for a while.

Regular part of our lunch programme is a coffee session in a cafe bearing proud name Lagoon. We call it realistically "The Stink". Without further explanation...

My time is short – just sit down in a chair, greet the waitress, agree with question: "Same as usually?". Follows quick withdrawal of the staff from the pocket of my wind-jacket, shaking the bottle of black ink, free the reed pen from it's box, open the sketchbook. There is a Vienna coffee with heavy load of cream and chocolate already put on the table – then short exercise with fingers and my colleague John gives an order: "Now!" and in a second I start to draw the lines on a blank paper.

I am inconspicuously monitoring potential victims randomly dispearsed around The Stink interior. Colleague Imro remarks: "Do you always have to produce such a strange faces when drawing? Does it help to create a better drawing?" I am hunting details, features, noses, lips, fingers in the clouds of smoke. I pretend watching my colleagues, but to be honest, my eyes follow only one person in the room. That is a dream of all mad painters who dedicated their lives to brushes and colours. You can search such a forms expressing fully your ideals of art and beauty whole life, and you are lucky if you find at least close compromise. It is one person in a million.

michal splho drawing
The Stink is the place of fulfilled ideals of the artist almost veteran. Here is the embodiment of everything you can expect from your model. The light is breaking on her faceforms in a ways, which cause five minutes breathe breaks. You wish to scream: "Stop! Do not move!" and try to catch everything in a three quick draws of ink on the blank paper you have. You try to stop the time, put down on the paper all you saw and felt. Unfortunately, I missed it, including the likeness, light, proportions – of course, ten seconds is not enough to catch the pose Zuza takes while washing the cups and dishes. It is raw reduction limited to the very basic impulses of artistic instinct.

ink drawing
Then the time comes, John stands up, gives an order again: "We leave!" and my dark part of soul hates him a lot. The dream is dissolving, Zuza hides behind the clouds of smoke, moment of freedom ends here. I pack up the staff, blow the papers to dry the ink. I am faced to the reality – I missed it again. Tomorrow there will be another attempt. We say good bye to Zuza, John is buying cigarettes in the booth nearby, and in a short time we sit at work again, preparing magazine, which is weekly distributed to the hands of this small nation.

the stink interior

the stink interior

portrait of zuza
PS: The drawings here are just short excerpt from the time spent in The Stink. As you can see, Zuza is really the person in the leading role of my lunch time. Hope you enjoy the show.

Friday, February 22, 2008

Morandi retrospective

Just recently I met a few young people at my workshop. We had an interesting chat, looked through my new paintings and I got a new things to learn. To be specific, the fact, that nothing can stop young generation today. Twenties does not mean a free space available to fill. It is uneasy to astonish a young Prometheus with an unknown information. Mostly because the unknown information does not exist for him. Where have the times gone...

In the age of internet there are no secrets. Where had Salvador Dali stolen his motives from? What colours were on Rembrand's palete? Where did Picasso hide his bank notes? How many children had Vermeer? Are we screwed up? Click, click - the fingers dance tango on the keyboard and the sreen will spit out the answer in less than a second: We are not srewed up.

I tested the young blood with many secrets and got convinced word by word, that the hiden knowledge is not "in" anymore. All is revealed. We tasted a wine and I tried several aces of spades: seven layers painting technique, Carravaggio's painting style, El Greco's miracles of complementary colour combinations placed in monochromatic space, Goethe's theory of colours. Prometheus came up with Morandi.

Giorgio Moranadi? I sharpened my attention. He knows a lot, but Morandi? How can he know about Morandi in his age? How can the Italian genius gain attention of this young abstractionist in the bloom of his development and power? What more, here in Slovakia? Well, maybe not all is lost.

Great Morandi, who did not leave his studio in Bologna during all his life. His paintings - as an escape from time and space, a strange effect he elicited by removing labels from the bottles, dials from a clock and people from landscapes. Pure metaphysics. The heros in main role: bottles, bowls, kettles, cups, ceramics. In the final part of the show they get pure abstract form, dissolving on the limit of recognition of the real world. In Morandi's words: There is nothing more surreal and abstract than reality.

Well, we cannot enjoy Morandi here in Slovakia, but for the lucky ones crossing the New York in autumn time, there is opportunity to visit retrospective of his works in The Metropolitan Museum of Art - aproximately 110 paintings, drawings and etchings. September 16 - December 14, 2008. Maybe we will meet there.