Monday, February 12, 2018

The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg

I went to see the Takashi Murakami exhibit at the VAG this weekend. I'm not a huge fan of Murakami's work, but I can relate to the hybridity of sources and the hyper-everything about the subjects. My criticism is that I feel with work that aligns itself so close to pop culture, there isn't much to dig out. I feel like there's even less to dig out of it when the work is in Japan or similar context. I'm sure that we read his work very differently here on the West Coast of Canada.
But, I put my own pre-conceived notions aside and I really enjoyed the show. The scale and scope of his work are very impressive, but this works needs to be large and loud and hyper. I don't think the message would come across on a more intimate scale.
You get a sense of the apocalyptic undertones which is ingrained in post-war Japanese culture, which can't help but get into the work, and it adds a real strength to it. I can imagine that the fear of nuclear annihilation would do some strange things to my work and bring out weird but sympathetic characters such as in Murakami's work.
I appreciated the video clips of him and his assistants at work in the studio. You get a real sense of the craft, labour, and highly considered choices inherent in the work. For me, I like to see how things are made, so this helped me enjoy the work on another level; as a maker.
I was less taken with his sculptural works because I feel the super-flatness of his graphics are what fills his works with a manic energy that leaps off the images in an embodied way. I was also disappointed in the glossing over of Murakami's commercial work. I feel like that issue is where a viewer might take issue or agree with his practice. I'm sure we would all take issue with the $45 octopus plushie in the gift store, but the question is; does the commercial success of the artist de-value the work? Is it okay to embrace a commercial culture and still have a gravitas to your work?

Here are a few images I took.

The show runs until the middle of May so if you have a chance to get down there, I highly recommend it. Here's a link to the show.

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Testing out some ideas

Here's a couple of images of the install ideas I've had. They aren't quite there yet, but you never can tell until you've got it set up in a space.

I'm liking how these pieces are starting to extend out spatially, but I think I can push it more . . . and not be constrained to the planes of the room ie. sags, folds etc.

Saturday, January 27, 2018

Art in words

I guess you never really stop fine-tuning your artist statement. Here's another go that reflects a shift in my interests in artmaking.

My painting explores the structure of looking. Using the mark as a building block, my work seeks to challenge the viewer’s relationship to the picture plane. This manifests itself in obsessive weaves of marks that create disorienting optical effects.

Short and sweet :)

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

Fox Knot

Fox Knot, 48" by 36", oil on canvas, 2018


Metamorphosis, 48" by 36", oil on canvas, 2018


Here's a look at the first statement for my exploration into disrupting the structure of looking.

This statement is largely about the trouble in locating the picture plane on a translucent surface, enhanced by a weave/pattern of positive/negative marks. The fixation of where the plane is located shifts continuously to the surface of the coloured cellophane to the back wall, which you can see through the negative spaces in the pattern weave. I wanted these works to reference painting more than drawings so I thought it might be a good time to use colour as a spatial device, not so much as expressive colour, but atmospheric colour. I wanted the hues/tones of the marks in each statement to illicit difference levels of optic buzzing, just to see what would happen at lower intensities. Because there are a lot of optic elements at play here, I was worried that this work could be too easily lumped in with that of Op Art. To deny this association, I wanted to stress the hand-made quality and inevitable failure by creating such a pattern by hand. Making the work by hand references the gesture as per the abstract expressionists, but because I'm taking the heroism out of the marks, it speaks to the diaristic aspect of making that is different than the ab exers. I think it might be more in tune with post-minimalism, think Chuck Close. So that's an association that I'm more comfortable with :)
One last point was that I chose to show these works in the concourse of the VA Building to see how they would act in a transition/thoroughfare type of space. Would these works stop people in their tracks? Judging from my personal observations (aka spying) I would say about half of the people who walked by would stop and interact with the work, a few minutes each, but those minutes count as gold. It takes a minute for the disorientation/reorientation to have that embodied experience that I'm seeking to offer the viewer who is open to it. I received a lot of positive feedback from my profs, peers, profs from other classes, and building support workers. I love making these works because I can harness the obsessive weirdo in me so I think I'm off on the right track.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

Thoughts on Beauty

What is beauty and why does it matter?
In my opinion, beauty is a standard or ideal that is agreed upon (consensus) outside of the individual (social). Its twin is ugly or non-beauty.
If I were to say if beauty had a function, it would not only bring pleasure to our senses but make us feel connected in some way to the world as a whole.
(bear with me cuz this is gonna get rambly)
In relation to the art that I make, is beauty important? Do I use beauty as a tool like I do my flat no. 12 brush? Going even further back to the question, what do I think beauty is? What are some examples? How does beauty differ from aesthetic experience?
I know that the purpose of my art is not to take the viewer on some life-enhancing experience . . . but why not? (contradicting myself already) Let's go back. What is beauty and what are some examples?
Currently, this is what I think beauty is.

Just off the top of my head.

Now, why does it matter? hmm, more later . . .

Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Thoughts on my drawing/painting/installation practice

What do I want to make this term for my interdisciplinary studio class?
I want to make large scale drawings/paintings/installations that deal with the structure of looking.
One of my profs recommended the book "Vision and Painitng: The Logic of the Gaze" by Norman Bryson. I've read the first chapter already and despite it being verbose in some sections, I think it will be interesting for the theoretical underpinnings of my practice. The Plinian model of representation is something that I want to question ie. painter as communicator of perceptual material to viewer as the site of reception eager for perceptual satisfaction.
I want to use the "mark" as my tool, building block. The poetry of the artist's hand is important to my work, not in a heroic sense, ie the grand gesture, because life is not heroic. Life is a series of small moments that accumulate into a lifetime. The mark is a measure of moments.
Perhaps large fields to immerse your field of vision, again Kusama, Guston.
Philip Guston

Yayoi Kusama
I want to make some experiments/process based works because I have a habit of stumbling onto things that have a lot of potential.

Why? Why should anyone care?
Something that Bryson already touched on in the first chapter was that the success of a painting using the Plinian model was based on the speed of which the viewer consumes the perceptual material presented by the painter. Any interuption is seen as negative. I can tell that this model is antithesis to my existing process, but it's interesting for me to know why and how. I think this will help immensely.