Monday, 3 March 2014

Try not to smile. I dare you.

Everyone loves a robot in a painting. Right? Who's with me people? So you can imagine how excited i was to find a hobot (that's a hobo+robot) deftly painting into an otherwise serene landscape, probably produced by a faithful student of Bob Ross.  David Irvine's solo show runs until March 29 at the Flying Pony Cafe. Irvine gives thrift-store found pieces new life with an injection of imagination and humour.

I find that artists who tread into humour risk being easily dismissed. We like art to be "beautiful" or "provocative" but art that makes us smile we tend to shrug off.  Given that our culture is filled with self-help books, tshirts and herbal remedies to make us happier, it seems like art that makes us smile should given its proper due. Maybe the AGO permanent collection could stand a few more Hobots. I for one would probably spend more time among the bucolic paintings of Canadian history if there was a chance I might see a flying steak.

Friday, 2 November 2012

I hate it when that happens

Den by Andre Petterson, 48 x 56 Mixed media on panel
The GALLERY THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED is having a show of Andre Petterson's work. I'm happy for him. I really am. Insert Jennifer Aniston type smile here.

It's not that I thought no one else knew about him. He is represented by a number of the bigger Canadian galleries. But it does ruin my fantasy that I am the only one who truly appreciates his work and that he is my secret discovery.  

I've been thinking a lot about why his becoming popular annoys me.  He is a talent worthy of great success.  Certainly part of  wanting to feel like you have the inside scoop and know about something that others don't. vanity. sigh. The other part of it is that I'm shocked to find that work which resonates so strongly with me, can appeal to so many other people.  The work I find dark and touching and hopeful and lonely all at the same times clearly says something (maybe even the same things) to many other people.  It's like finding someone else sitting in the rain listening to the Smiths. Shouldn't really be that shocking.  The power of great art - books, music, pairing- is that it speaks of the human experience in a way that feels personal. I am humbled. 

Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Unconsciously making great art

I always love it when discovering an artist takes me down the rabbit hole and suddenly i'm learning a whole bunch of stuff i didn't mean to.

Casey McGlyn, Early Influences, mixed media on canvas, 30 x 24
Case in point- Casey McGlyn. It's no surprise that i would be drawn to his work - not only does it have horses but McGlyn's work reminded me of the art i grew up with - and there is something incredible comforting in that. My stepfather collects American naive art. He is particularly fond of a series of work from the resident of a psychiatric ward which he owns.  McGlyn's work has that edge to it for me. That feeling of that he is absolutely brilliant and might very well be completely unhinged. There is an undeniable  darkness to his work but it feels honest - almost innocent.
Casey McGlyn, House on Ricky Lake, mixed media, 60 x72

McGlyn's work also set my Art History 101 alarm off.  A rummage of my book shelf rewarded me a write up of this piece by Karel Appel.

Karl Appel, Hip Hip Hooray, oil on canvas, 1949

Appel was part of a the CoBrA movement (Copenhagen, Brussels Amsterdam - the cities where the movement's key members were based).  The Cobra movement was founded in 1948 by a group  of painters (Appel among them) who believed in the strength of  instinct over reason. Their working method was based on spontaneity and experiment, and they drew their inspiration in particular from children’s drawings, from primitive art forms. (1)

Suddenly my stepfather's fascination with the art of a psychiatric patient makes more sense. What could be more honest than the artist expression of a mind unhindered by the filters of societal constructs and norms- that child like perspective of what one sees rather than what one is "suppose" to see.

When i look at Casey McGlyn's work i get the feeling that he woke up from a dream and felt the need to capture the images from his head. His childhood home mixes with dinosaurs wrestling and UFOs- and freed from the task of having to "figure out what the paiting is suppose to be," i as the audience and free to react emotionally to the piece.

 (1)MOMA online

Monday, 28 May 2012

I still won't play drawsomething with him

 Leonard Cohen's art was on display in Toronto at BCE place until last weekend. I love BCE's commitment to art in public spaces. I often daydream about getting a job as a curator for that space (ANYONE?). They do some wicked private and public partnerships that have made my lunch hour very interesting. 

 The pen and ink sketches are sweet and almost beautifully simple. Certainly Cohen would kick my ass in Drawsomething. But if I'm being honest, it was the name of the artist that made me stop. And that made me wonder – why do I care about art by a famous singer. I certainly don’t think i would be as quick to listen to a new song by Hirst (Bansky maybe).  
Is it because we hope to glean a little insight into the mind of Cohen?  Do we hope to see behind the curtain?  

I'm not saying that I don't think you can't be good at more than one thing. But i do think you can only be great at one thing. I think we all learned a lesson when Michael Jordan tried to play baseball.  I simply wonder why we are fascinated by the output of celebrities- no matter what it is.

Thursday, 16 February 2012

What the what?

Thanks for the feedback folks. Keep it coming.
A couple of you gently pointed out that while you found my last post interesting you:
1. Were confused by the Warhol and Basquiat image;
2. Didn't know who the f*&^ I was talking about;
3. Felt that perhaps my assessment of Hirst was a bit harsh (re: not evolving "art") and was laden with judgment.  

Sorry about that. Lemmesplan...
1. The picture of Basquiat and Warhol is from a promotional poster for a collaboration between the two artists. In the early 1980s, Warhol and Basquiat began a series of collaborative paintings together.

 I thought this was a great image because I think the two of them pretty much embody the New York art scene in the 80s. The celebrity. The excess. The fabulous-ness of it.

2. Who the who? (Thank you wiki)
Damien Steven Hirst is an English artist. He came to prominence as part of a group known as the Young British Artists in the early 1990s.  He is internationally renowned and is reportedly Britain's richest living artist. During the 1990s his career was closely linked with the collector Charles Saatchi, but increasing frictions came to a head in 2003 and the relationship ended. He is most famous for a series of artworks in which dead animals (including a shark, a sheep and a cow) are preserved—sometimes having been dissected—in formaldehyde.

Charles Saatchi is co-founder of Saatchi & Saatchi, one of the world’s most well known global advertising firms. He is a well known art collector and patron and the founder of the Saatchi gallery (which he opened in 1985 to show off his contemporary art collection).  Saatchi is pretty much as close as you can get to a modern day Medici. 

Robert Hughes is an Australian-born art critic, writer and television documentary maker who has resided in New York since 1970 where he moved when he obtained the position of art critic for Time magazine. Hughes is notorious for his criticisms of artist/filmmaker Julian Schnabel, whom he has described as being "to painting what Sly Stallone is to acting - a lurching display of oily pectorals - except that Schnabel makes bigger public claims for himself." He also called Warhol, "One of the most boring people I ever met."
[ed: I would follow Hughes pretty to the ends of the earth]

Gagosian Gallery is a contemporary art owned and directed by Larry Gagosian. There are currently 11 art spaces under this gallery.  In the early 1980s Gagosian developed his business rapidly by exploiting the possibilities of reselling works of art by blue-chip modern and contemporary artists. After establishing a New York gallery in the mid-1980s Gagosian began to work with a stable of super collectors including David Geffen, Charles Saatchi and Samuel Newhouse Jr. Bidding on behalf of Newhouse in 1988, Gagosian paid over $17 million dollars for "False Start" by Jasper Johns a then-record price for a work by a living artist. That record was beaten in 2008, when Gagosian paid $23.5 million dollars at Sotheby's in November 2007 for Jeff Koon’s "Hanging Heart" (an artist who happens to belong to the Gagosian gallery's stable). There is a bunch of sketchy stuff about tax evasion, back room deals and questionable ethics but I don't want to get sued so we'll just leave that part out.

3. Am I judging
yes. I am.  you don't have to agree. I welcome the argument. You should start a blog and we can link to each other. that would be fun.

I have some exciting stuff to show you but it will have to wait until next week...