26 August 2015

Simulacra - a film

"Simulacra are copies that depict things that either had no original to begin with, or that no longer have an original."

25 August 2015

60 Years..

(c) Dennis Stock / Magnum Photos
This year September 30th marks the 60th anniversary of James Dean's death by careless driving.. he thought the occupant of the other car who was pulling out up ahead on to the same stretch of the highway would see him speeding towards him but in the dusky desert sky the silver Porsche Spyder car became another mirage and Donald Turnipseed pulled out and that was the story of James Dean..

In Fairmount Indiana the news of Dean's death was reported as Local Fairmount Man Killed in Car Collision.. thus a legend was born and countless conspiracy theories about the badly disfigured young star being holed up in a hospital / sanitorium somewhere began.. 

Morrissey visited the Winslow farm Dean grew up on for his video Suede Head.. Jimmy Dean became the idol for disenfranchised youth and Rebel Without A Cause became the first film in Hollywood to feature a young male gay teen character Plato played by Sal Mineo.. and The Eagles wrote a song about him..

Dennis Stock's Iconic photos of Dean used for a Time magazine spread shot during his early career:

1 August 2015

Come and See.. Elem Klimov

'Come and See' by Elem Klimov.

The title comes from a verse in the Book of Revelation:

“And when he had opened the fourth seal, I heard the voice of the fourth beast say, ‘Come and see.' And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”

Young Florya wants to become a boy soldier and fight the Nazi's. We witness the devastating experiences the Belarussian's suffered under Nazi rule through Florya's eyes. It is a relentless film in that we the audience are not offered any visual relief to look away from the unrelenting horror young Florya faces and comes across and is witness to in his daily life under the Nazi's. At times it is very uncomfortable viewing but a story that needs to be told and witnessed.Through Florya we become voyeurs to this genocide.

I first heard about this film having visited a Jake and Dinos Chapman exhibition in the Serpentine a few years back and had read somewhere that the Chapman's Nazi vitrine HELL scenes were partly inspired by the film.

(Subtitles available in English on Youtube)

10 Reasons Why “Come and See” Is The Best War Movie Ever Made:

19 July 2015

Experimental Polish film: Kineformy - Andrzej Pawlowski

Andrzej Pawlowski (1925-1986) was an artist, filmmaker, designer, and educator, whose experimental work looked at the relationship between visual form and kinetic movement.He designed and built kinetic light machines, filming the light forms being projected and abstracted by special image-distorting lenses built in to the kinetic machines. The film that brought him to the worlds attention was Kineformy (Cineforms) in 1957. 

Maybe somewhere his work was influenced by the work of the Hungarian Bauhaus educator / artist / designer Laszlo Moholy-Nagy who in 1930 created a kinetic light machine called the
"Lichtrequisit einer elektrischen Bühne" (Light Prop for an Electric Stage) but which came to be known after his death as the Light-Space Modulator. 

Polish Cultural Institute New York page on Andrzej Pawlowski: http://www.polishculture-nyc.org/?itemId=320&eventId=688

Museum of Modern Art Warsaw artists page on Andrzej Pawlowski: http://artmuseum.pl/en/filmoteka/artysci/andrzej-pawlowski

More about Lumino Kinetic Art: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lumino_kinetic_art

15 January 2015

Squares and diamonds and abstracts..

I did a lot of reading about colour and abstract painting over the year.. I feel I'm drawn more towards abstract art rather than figurative or landscape or realist painting even though I have my own personal favourite artists in those fields. My eye is abstract. I'm a lens based artist, studied graphic design previously. Most graphic design is based on abstract shapes or arrangements.

I started using watercolour inks to make these on A3 sized white card. I would find doing these meditative and would usually do them after work, at weekends, sitting in the front room in front of the television or watching a film. Because the scale of the work it would take me a few days to finish them (just like the Enso drawings in another post) and I would have to use my concentration skills to get them right (I'm a very good listener and I have a heightened sense of hearing so would 'hear' these programmes and films instead of 'watching' them).

I found the watercolour inks to be very rich in colour. There are a few colours I really like using because my eye is drawn to them so I like to use them (I guess thats something to factor in when artists chose the palettes they use in their work as its not just random colours they use, its all relative in some way) and I would use a number 1 brush to draw them and colour them in - hence why it was so meditative for me!

Some of them work, some of them don't. I like to show things that don't work as much as those that do because they can be interesting too. I wasn't taught as a painter.

Here's a 'before' and 'after' as an example..

 The yellow, light blue, and the red are colours I like. I started off thinking if I could do it in one colour and then the other colours sort of jumped in.

I do like using one colour only. And I like where it takes me because these aren't marked out or planned, they just happen. Depends on my mood, if I'm in a rush or not, if I'm hot or cold, what kind of day its been. All factors apply to how it turns out at the end.

These two below, I really like..

Funnily enough I'm okay with hands..

..but probably only because its easier to focus on one part of the body at any one time as opposed to focusing on the different parts of a life drawing, making them work together and keeping dimensions relative to the other bits.. its a lot to juggle!

Life Drawing Classes

I don't post here much, a lot of things going on.. but here is a compendium of photos of various drawings I did on a few life drawing sessions I attended throughout last year.

I do believe that drawing is a skill that needs to be used to keep sharpened just like you would if you were using a tool fora hobby or your work. Its a great skill and teaches you about how to look at things and also about observation skills. You think you know what something looks like because you have seen it but you need to observe it to refine it and to notice the small details we may skip by thinking that we know what something looks like.

I don't think I'm perfect. In fact I hate drawing. Actually because I think I'm not any good at it, or because I think it doesn't look like what I think it should look like I hate doing it. Its the perfectionist in me I guess. But last year I overcame my dread of drawing and these are some of the results.

3 September 2014

Zen circles or 'Enso'

A little something I wrote elsewhere about these Zen circle paintings I do.. 

"I enjoy doing these because I find it meditative/relaxing concentrating on making each zen circle or Enso. Originally Enso just have the one circle, the ones I do have three componant circles around a dot. This symbolises me & my three children.. Also how your attitude radiates outwards & affects other people.. like a radiating circle.. a ripple in a pond."

I have done a few of these now this year, and I hope this explains a bit as to what fascination circles have for me in my recent abstract painting & drawings.. these are the first two on black paper. I'm planning a whole series so we'll see how it goes..  

More about Enso: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ens%C5%8D

21 August 2014

Necrology - Standish Lawder (1970)

"the sickest joke I've ever seen on film" - Hollis Frampton 

What does it mean? Let's look at the title. Necrology. Necro suggests something about the dead, -ology usually means a study of something. So put together its a study of the dead. 
Ok, but what about the cast list towards the end, what does that suggest?It suggests a roll call of the dead, albeit a fictional cast. 
11 or so minutes of people standing on an escalator with the film run backwards? They are ascending to meet their maker. 
The people featured in Necrology were commuters being filmed covertly by the filmmaker at New York's Grand Central station. It was filmed during the end of a work day when all office workers were let out of work to go home for the day, the end of their shift. 
Check out more about Standish Lawder & his films at UbuWeb: http://ubu.com/film/lawder.html

10 June 2014

William Henry Green - Action Artist (1957) / Ken Russell - Pop Goes The Easel (1962)

Tony Hancock - The Rebel (screenshot)
Watch scene here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gs73aPdYvnE

Do you remember the Action Art bicycle scene from Tony Hancock's "The Rebel"?

This guy was the inspiration.. British Action Artist, William Green.

Sadly all the negative attention to his (at that time) unusual work & his methods didn't do him any good and he gave up making art and became an alcoholic (he did eventually make a return to art due to an exhibition but that was thirty years or so later just before he died). Knowing this makes me realise how delicate people can be about their work and whilst we might all think aspects of it are funny or weird to us, theres always someone who takes pride in their work seriously enough that any criticism could make them feel self conscious about continuing their creativity and destroy their confidence.. Such a shame.

Here's a clip of Green working on a piece for a Pathe Newsreel clip called 'Action Artist' from 1957:

This could've been the very piece he was working on in his studio that day when Pathe paid him a visit: http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/green-untitled-t07905

Some more information about William Green including an artists biography & some of his later works on paper via England & Co Gallery: http://www.englandgallery.com/artist_group.php?mainId=56&media=Drawings%20%26%20works%20on%20paper

A nice little blog piece from the Illuminations Media Blog archive about sixties art television (mentions William Green & also a bit about Ken Russell): http://www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk/blog/index.cfm?start=6&news_id=195

I also read that Ken Russell filmed Green for a spot on the BBC's Sunday Report & I'm very keen to see that if the footage is still around.. In the meantime here's a link to 'Pop Goes The Easel' a report made by Russell for the BBC arts programme Monitor in 1962:

And a bonus link to Russell's Bohemian semi-social documentary about the old digs where he used to live in West London: 'A House in Bayswater' - 1960: