Thursday, May 22, 2014

Chinese landscape paintings

I've been meaning to post this since last week, but then the sunny long weekend happened and this got pushed aside. Now that I see big rain clouds in the sky, I want to talk about the exhibit of Chinese landscape paintings at the AGGV.
I've never really been able to engage with Chinese painting before. I think this is due not only to my nose-down-in-Western-Art-history upbringing, but also because I wasn't sure on how to "read" them. Up until last year, I wasn't aware of other concepts of "space" in painting other than the fixed point of view of Renaissance paintings and the push and pull space of abstraction. I stumbled onto a couple of documentaries on David Hockney on youtube where he talks about painting that goes beyond the singular view of the photographic eye. I liked this idea and began exploring it in my own work (to varying degrees of failure ;)) and now I feel like my mind is more attuned to this way of seeing the world: moving focus.
I think this opening up of my own perception of space is what allowed me to get into the works on display at the AGGV. I was looking at them not only with the idea of moving focus in my mind, but also as a painter making marks on a flat surface.

I found the exhibit quite exhilarating and as I was leaving the gallery, I could see motifs for Chinese landscape painting everywhere I looked.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

My Passion the Sham

I realize that painting is in itself a lie (or illusion), but it's a good one ;)

Wednesday, May 14, 2014


I wonder if I'll ever find my answers on a page in my sketchbook?
I find solace in making stuff.
Soothes me.
Gives me purpose.
Keeps any anxiety manageable
and the silence at bay.
Is it vanity that makes me want to represent my life in pictures?
My life is pretty good, a few things need work.
What does it mean to someone else?
Does my reality touch anyone else?
Surely there must be some common experience in what I show.
I am not that unique or different.

The power of smiling.
Thinking of things that make you laugh.
Melt your heart.
Brings you joy.

Beauty is in the silence.

"There is a reason people are nasty and bitter and cruel." Chris Ware
It's our duty as people to find understanding and empathy for those who are mean to others.

I'm reminded of my little brother sitting at his desk on his first day of junior high school. I peeked in his classroom to see him drawing, nearly in tears. I went in to console him. I remember my teacher saying something to me afterwards about "the little muffin will have to toughen up."

Saturday, May 3, 2014

UVic MFA grad show 2014

I went and checked out the MFA grad show at UVic today. I'm always excited to see what's in store because during the course of the year, you're able to see these ideas in development (while peeking into the various studios and crit rooms in the Visual Arts building). It's interesting to see which pieces get shown and which ones are cut.
I was particularly taken with these following pieces:
Megan Dyck

Carley Smith

Carley Smith
I'm also interested to see what constitutes MFA level painting, so I'm glad there were a few painters in the mix. One I liked was Jereon Witvliet. As is always the case with contemporary painting, at first I always feel blocked off or unable to engage with the images. But after about 10 minutes or so with the work, the mystery starts to come forth. Questions like what am I looking at? become what do I bring to the image? What I like about these paintings is their mystery. I'm reminded of Luc Tuymans and then I start to imagine what Witvliet has omitted from these images. That reference I think is very helpful (at least to me) in interpreting the work. I also feel like I can "hear" the images, like they resonate some kind of hum or sine wave.
Jereon Witvliet

Jereon Witvliet

Jereon Witvliet
Lastly, I was very intrigued by Ethan Lester's installation. It's easy to get overwhelmed with installation art because more than one sense is being stimulated: sight, sound, touch, but Lester was able to choreograph the experience with the right balance of each. Lester's use of coloured spotlights helps to divide the space and create different atmospheres. Naturally, I think of Louise Bourgeouis's "Cells" when I see work like this, but it really touched me because it made me think of an old high school buddies party pad: old, wrecked couch, cigarette butts, liquor bottles, they detritus of sexy times, blaring TV set, living in the moment, looking to score, getting high/buzzed/laid/whatever. I especially appreciated the small details like floor tiles missing and the holes in the couch. 
Ethan Lester

Ethan Lester
I left the show feeling energized and motivated to push my own painting to the limits. Can painting be more visceral and engaging than an installation? Possibly not because of the whole "real/lived space" thing that object have. But a painting can transcend the laws of physics, of time, of space. I just got goosebumps thinking about that :O

Thursday, May 1, 2014

A few new cafe paintings

Below are a few new cafe paintings. I've been doing a lot of painting lately actually, but not much seems to be holding up, or I'm not ready to accept it and show it. Not sure if I'll continue with the cafe as a theme, but it has led me to wanting to portray moments of silence, being alone, stillness. So i guess we'll see where the winds take me next.

Half a Dozen In One Sitting, 30" by 30", oil on canvas, 2014

Food Court Dad, 40" by 40", oil on canvas, 2014