Curious Contemplation

at times these quiet moments invoke curious contemplation

beautiful silences in the romance of the night, its lights

however dim they may be- they are absolutely

pure, sustaining, remaining

the city is my shelter and shall remain so steadily

i keep what magic it lends me

i render it again and again and again

i make it last because it makes me last

nights in silence, in the dead silence

that still, calming anti-sound that i hold so close

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Cheers, NYX

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Kurt Schwitters Retrospective @ Tate Britain

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In the last years of his life Kurt Schwitters remained dedicated to his craft, and that resonates at the exhibition currently on at Tate Britain. Having fled his native country Germany and later Norway, Schwitters landed in London where, as viewers, we see the impact the new and foreign environment had on him and vice versa. Like a collage mathematician, Schwitters use of found objects in his works create a sense of harmony amidst the madness of World War II, which in which he coined the term “merz” to describe this process. Using everything from bus tickets to advertisements, rubbish and the like, the work of Schwitters is undoubtedly deserving of this retrospective.

This is DADA at its finest! So is it art that we he(ART)? or Anti-Art?

Cheers, NYX

The Little Drone Who Could – George Barber

Nestled in the housing projects of Hackney, lies a small contemporary art gallery – Waterside Contemporary. Amongst the convenient stores and laundromats, it would seem like an odd area to have a gallery space. But these small hidden gems in London, are what make London such a unique, adventurous city. The gallery might seem tiny and out of place, but it is what is inside the gallery that is grandiose and thought provoking.

The Freestone Drone” (2nd February running until 23rd March), a video installation by George Barber transforms the gallery into an environment mimicking the places that US drones might blow up. This description needs further explanation – don’t you think?

It is no secret that during the presidency of Barack Obama, drones (unmanned aerial vehicles) have mushroomed and been used more and more. These military devices are tools that are deployed to areas of “concern” for the United States, and attack and bomb areas with exact precision in order to eliminate any “threats”. Now these drones are meant to destroy locations of concern, but how precise are these drones? They are machines with no emotion or feeling. They are created to destroy without knowing the consequences of their actions. Do they know right from wrong?

George Barber brings these issues to light with his video installation. Clothing lines hung with clothes to dry surround the screening area.  The room is dark and the video consists of a narrative, narrated by a drone itself. This drone has emotion and feelings, and through his mission of destruction, he tells the story of his journey – thus the drone becomes personified.

He is curious as to what all these clothes lines are…who owns these clothes…what kinds of lives do these families lead? These clothes lines in themselves tell stories of different families – a family with three children, an old woman washing her husbands clothes, a newly wed couple… Footage shot different places around the world, that of lovers, and depictions of tragedy are paralleled with the drone’s childlike curiosities of the world- his fascination and love of people as well as his ultimate destiny: “It is foretold that the Freestone Drone is to die entangled in a clothes line.” With such a dramatic, dark narrative, the drone seems childlike and humorous. These private thoughts create tension and an unsettling feeling within viewer. He is playful and funny in his description, but his mission is one of great determent and horror. You laugh, but you do not want to at the same time. This tension develops a platform for the viewer to question these contemporary ethical dilemas.

Have we become so cold that we cannot even carry out our own evils and atrocities? Barber confronts our cowardness and attempts to display the contemporary and ethical concerns of what we are doing. It is a must see in London. So get your running shoes on, locate the gallery on your smartphone – trust us, you will def need it, and head on over.

Peace Out, K.

Dada – The Real Dada, NOT ze Dada Life

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Dada, an “art” movement that was “anti-art.” In terms of Duchamp, (who are friend below will go into detail) a 20th century French artist, had a disdain for the convention of tradition – hence why he turned a urinal into what he titled “Fountain.” Duchamp became associated with the movement in Paris during the WWI, when many Europeans realized that their society was breaking down. So, with a breakdown in society brought about a breakaway from tradition.

Duchamp’s readymades (i.e. “Fountain” and his “Bicycle Wheel”) were in a sense a conscious effort to break every rule of traditional art, in order to create a new type of art – a type of art that engages the mind and provokes the viewer to participate and think. Duchamp came up with the idea to discard art’s most fundamental values of artisanship and beauty. The readymades were the final solution of how Duchamp created a work of art that is not “art.”

Duchamp’s readymades were composed of assemblages, altered images, and prefabricated objects. The manufactured items were normally brought right off a shelf or salvaged, and often unaltered. Duchamp then would put all the pieces he wished together, and gave them abstruse titles, or even inscribed them with a phrase that was absolutely utter non-sense. It was the idea of putting all these random objects together that later artists were inspired from. Duchamp’s use of everyday objects, to create “art” in a sense gave influence to later artists such as Rauschenberg, Johns, and even Warhol. It was Duchamp’s idea that the artist declares what the art is that can be seen throughout all three of the artist’s works mentioned above.

ART IS ART BECAUSE THE ARTIST SAID SO. GENIUS.

XX, DP

In Honour of Mark Rothko, A Reflection on His Contribution to Abstract Expressionism

Today marks the day Rothko committed suicide – 25 February 1970.

Being one of my favourite artists, I decided I would share a fragment of one of the paper’s I wrote about Rothko and Abstract Expressionism:

The new creative approaches of the Abstract Expressionists in the 1940s and 1950s (up until around the 1960s) were groundbreaking to the visual world. “Abstract expressionism is defined as a twentieth-century painting style in which artists applied paint freely to their MASSIVE canvases in an effort to show feelings and emotions” declares Robert Smith in his article entitled “Abstract Expressionism and the Imaginative Curriculum.” Most “abstract” art, as in the case of Abstract Expressionism, was developed as a response to the whole range of human experiences (remember these works evolved right after WWII). Jonathan Harris, in his article entitled: “Mark Rothko and the Development of American Modernism 1938-1948 claims:

“Represented as the ‘universal Free Style of the West’, the large agitated canvasses of Jackson Pollock or Rothko’s floating fields of colour become emblems of freedom of liberal American society: beacons of individualism, unfettered activity and creative risk, proposed as possible only in a true democracy (43).”

Rothko took advantage of these liberties, and became the a leader of Abstract Expressionism.

This new field is divided into two categories: Action Painting and Color Field painting. Generally, works of this period were painted on a GRAND scale. While these branches appear physically different in terms of style, they both are a combination of spontaneity, ingenuity, and the investigation of the unconscious disregarding pictorial imagery. Line and color are the basic components underlying the work of the Abstract Expressionists, created through rhythm and movement. Rothko was the leader of the Color Field movement.

The notion that a painting is supposed to inform the viewer dominates. However, unlike art of past generations, the Abstract Expressionists did so in an untraditional manner. Paintings of this modern period were more than a history or religion crash-course. They were on a search for “something” more. This “something” was not “nothing.” In the case of Mark Rothko, the “nothing,” was not only a search from within the artist, but also a search within oneself. “I am interested only in expressing basic human emotions-tragedy, ecstasy, doom,” Mark Rothko.

Let us remember this great artist, and hold him close to our he(ART).

XX, DP

p.s. If you are in London visit his Seagram Murals at the Tate or if you are in Houston, Texas visit the Rothko Chapel.

Naked Paintbrushes – Yves Klein’s Lasting Impression

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Ever want to go back and be a part of history? Well, the Tate website has posted a video that briefly explains and exhibits Yves Klein’s (bio hyperlinked) “Anthropometries (video hyperlinked).” Through this series, Klein reconfigured the way art could be produced and examined by using the female nude NOT as the subject of painting (like Manet’s “Olympia” – below); RATHER Klein used the female body/bodies as paintbrushes to create works that appear almost primitive in form.

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Maybe you were too young to be there, so you haven’t really heard much about this… Maybe you weren’t in the right “artsy” circle (because most likely, no offense, they were only a SELECT few that were and that was WAYYY back in the late 50s)… Or maybe you are just new to the “art world.” But now, you can get an inside look into how these paintings were developed. And keep in mind he had a LIVE symphony playing for his guests (who are dressed to a T) as these nude females were brushing up onto canvases and were being directed by Klein, who acted kind of like an orchestra maestro. What an interesting experience that would be to witness.

Is it kind of like finger painting when you’re a child? Maybe, but not really (and we do not suggest dipping your child into paint by any means). Could it be an incredibly extended simile – without a doubt. But that is a stretch. A MASSIVE one. Maybe we should just admire his works from these series, in his signature colour IKB, and appreciate his break from tradition.
Props to you Yves, you made a lasting impression – literally.
Peace Out, K