22.1.09

Artist: Adi Nes







I am in love with Adi Nes’ photography. Perhaps it is because we have the same taste in men. I am guessing he is also drawn to the muscular build and Jew curls that are depicted in his David and Jonathan.

Adi Nes, is a forty four year old Israeli artist photographer. Raised in a low socioeconomic class his parents, both Sephardic Jews, nurtured his creative side. Upon completing his army service in the Israeli National Defense he enrolled accidentally in a photography program. Heavily influenced by his cultural surrounds in Israel, Nes found his calling in creating mesmerizing photographs that are intensely layered.

The first time I saw a 38’’ by 48’’ photograph of Nes’ in a gallery I could barely tear my eyes away. Nes is an intensely talented artist with a box full of tools that he implements like a true craftsman. Lighting and shadow, key elements of photography and natural lighting, every photographer’s best friend and worst enemy, is a large part of Nes’ genius. His photographs light up, heightening his subject matters mythical and saintly allusions. His models fascinate, surrounded by a dirty glow they are at the same time untouchable yet unmistakably human. The value of his photos intensifies the ying yang effect drawing the eyes between the darkness and the glow.

His staging, a throwback to the foundation of photography as art, when photography was staged in order to accommodate the longer exposure time, is undoubtedly time consuming. Nes clearly invests much by way of time and cost before shooting his first set. Even selection of his models is a testament to his flawless eye for choosing a part that complements the whole. The staging is integral to Nes’ talent of combining space and shape choosing locations for his shoots that give his photos a three dimensional effect. Whether there are objects in the forefront, literal levels using steps or figurative levels, his works create a simultaneous sense of shallow and deep spaces within his stage. In carefully selecting his costumes for his models Nes creates a timeless tale that transpires boundaries. He blurs the line between what is and creates an image that is intensified with the cognitive knowledge that there exists a contrast. He uses homeless people to depict biblical heroes and prisoners to represent success.
Nes’ art is captured in a photograph that takes into account all aspects of visual and design elements within photography; combines them with his own personal stories, the personal stories of his models, tales from biblical, mythological and contemporary times; and creates a masterpiece.

Lunch


I had a wonderful lunch with an dear friend of mine.
Rare, plank seared, salmon served room temperature over a bed of greens dresses with sweet and garlicky vinaigrette. House-made toasts and crispy fries. I used most of my mayo dip for my fries a la Netherland styles.
We second guessed ourselves and didn’t order a bottle of wine right off the bat. It was just as fun laughing about it while ordering one glass after another!

Collecting Contemporary Art


I attended a lecture given by Naomi Arin that delves into the art of collecting art.
Arin gave examples from a New York Times article that broke down various investments one could have made in 1998 for 100,000 dollars and what they would be worth today. The obvious point is that art can be a good investment and the moral is that despite these hard “economic times [,] art remains the best and most enduring investment opportunity”.
Herb and Dorothy Vogel are the new poster child for collecting contemporary art on a dime. In case you have been living under a rock they are the couple from New York who devoted their lives and modest earnings to collecting contemporary art. They bought art for the love of art for over 45 years and because they were able to apparently, unconsciously, predict the trends in art their collection of more than 4,500 works now ranks among the best. The Vogel's collection includes works by such artist as Sol LeWitt, Donald Judd, Richard Tuttle and Steven Keister.




(http://www.wmagazine.com/artdesign/2008/11/vogels?currentPage=1)

So the question remains how does one begin collecting art work that might appreciate in value. Some collectors begin their collections by permanently borrowing works of art from family. This seems like a natural process. Most art enthusiast realized art at an early age and one might hope that is watered and fertilized by one’s environment.
My personal opinion is that it is tacky to buy art just for the sake of investment appreciation. It’s like faking it when your time (and profit) would be better served coupling with something you feel passionate about. So the simple answer is buy what makes you happy. Happiness cannot come of true ignorance so the important lesson here is: educate yourself. Educate yourself on the style of art that draws you. Know it’s history and it’s predessessors. Know the artist[s] who coined the technique and know what has been tweeked in the contemporary artist whom you admire.
Once you enlighten yourself in these aspects take care to purchase the piece that will eventually be the most recognizable. Everyone wants to own an original piece or a limited print however there is a lot to be said for owning a piece of art work that can be recognized by a fellow art enthusiast as belonging to a particular artist.

If you can’t live without it then you should probably buy it.

21.1.09

Artist: Michael Lazarus

Michael Lazarus:

Materials he uses in his works: collage, acrylic, latex, enamel, mirrors and wood.
In 2000 Holland Cotter wrote of Michael Lazarus:

“Michael Lazarus does scary things with what might, in other hands, pass for geometric abstraction. He divides his paintings in big asymmetrical sections, which he fills with oddball colors -- mustard, pink, pea green, burgundy -- sometimes full-bodied and bright, sometimes wan and soiled.
To this foundation he adds a slender but potent arsenal of emblems. They include images of upwardly licking flames, of a kind one finds in Tibetan painting, and areas of collage. Recurring in almost every painting is a mask like oval, a cross between a smiley face and the skull on a bottle of poison.”

It seems that six plus years later his artwork is continuing along this path.

In the L.A. Now Exhibit the three works by Lazarus are entitled Embrace (2006), Reverse (2006) and Charmer’s Lair (2007)

In a 2006 article by David Pagel he describes the patterns in Lazarus’ work as evocative of Op Art.

Op Art is an art movement that was coined in a 1964 article in Time Magazine titled: Op Art: Pictures That Attack The Eye. Op Art has largely been viewed as a term used to describe ‘Sleights of Art’ where the artist uses illusions to create movement. The use of colors, value, patterns, texture, shapes and line are employed in such a way as to suggest that there exists a stationary back-ground. The eye is made to be fooled and thus an illusion of something that is not real is created. A common optical effect employed by Op is the use of light reflection or shimmer.
The Op Art’s influence on Lazarus’ work is evident in all three of his works in the LA Now exhibit. In Charmer’s Lair he also uses the Op Art reflection technique. Lazarus’ work is a mathematically-based composition relying heavily on the use of geometric shapes and organic spirals to create a sense of movement. He also creates an interesting effect using negative space. Lazarus' works include cut outs exposing, in this case, the white wall on which it is mounted. The use of negative space is not only an element of art but it is also a technique that is used specifically in the creation of Op Art.

Lazarus’ was most likely influenced by Victor Vasarely and MC Escher:

Another quote regarding Op Art:


“Scornful of the emotionalism and accident in abstract expressionism, op artists know where they stand. Precision is their pleasure. Their art instantly engages the beholder, yet does not demand his involvement or insist that he relate it to the world of objects, emotions or experiences. Op fascinates the way a kaleidoscope does a child.”

I find Lazarus’ art style interesting because he is obviously influenced by Op Art. Common to his art work is the rushed sense of imperfection. He does not clean up his paint lines or spend too much time on creating details within his art.

As David Pagel writes in his 2006 article: Into a void of inhuman beauty:

“Neither precious nor fussy, they seem to have been urgently crafted, as if he had no time to spare and getting the job done was more important than nailing every detail. The handmade imperfections provide character and pathos.”

In short the characteristics of Op Art are:
  • Op Art is, almost without exception, non-representational.
  • The principles of art employed (color, line and shape) are carefully chosen to achieve maximum effect.
  • The critical techniques used in Op Art are perspective and juxtaposition of color
  • In Op Art, space both positive and negative are of equal importance.

Collage:

In ‘Charmers Lair’, Lazarus uses the technique of collage (From the French: coller, to glue) which is a form of visual arts made by ‘assemblage’ of different forms, thus creating a new whole. An artistic collage work may include newspaper/magazine clippings, bits of colored or hand-made papers, portions of other artwork, photographs, Etc., glued to a piece of paper, wood or canvas.

Techniques of collage were first used at the time of the invention of paper in China around 200 BC. The term collage however was coined in the beginning of the 20th century by both Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso (Guggenheim Museum's online art glossary) when collage became a distinctive part of modern art. According to some sources, Picasso was the first to use the collage technique in oil paintings. According to the Guggenheim Museum's online article about collage, Braque took up the concept of collage itself before Picasso, applying it to charcoal drawings. Picasso adopted collage immediately after.

Collage, according to these sources, is an artistic concept associated with the beginnings of modernism and entails much more than the idea of gluing something onto something else. The glued-on patches which Braque and Picasso added to their canvases 'collided with the surface plane of the painting'. Lazarus’ works are textured and it is obvious where the painting ends and the glueing of magazines starts. The origins of collage in terms of ‘modern art’ were part of a ''methodical reexamination of the relation between painting and sculpture'', and these new works "gave each medium some of the characteristics of the other," according to the Guggenheim essay. Although Lazarus’ works are clearly meant to be mounted on walls they have the characteristics of a three dimensional piece through the use of collage onto a wood surface. Furthermore, these cut-up bits of magazine create fragments of ‘externally referenced meaning’ into the works.

6.1.09

Peter Carey

I first heard of Peter Carey while studying Commonwealth Fiction at University.


Carey is an Australian native who up until 1976 made his living primarily in the advertising industry. He wrote when he was not working and eventually 1976 was able to start writing full-time.
I read his book The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith (1994) about ten years ago. I just finished his latest novel His Illegal Self (2008) and find his style to be mesmerizing and his themes consistent. (http://petercareybooks.com/)









Carey does not mince his words nor does he ‘show’ us- he tells us and our imagination is left to conjure the dialogue. Common to both books Carey seems to have a sordid relationship with human bodies, textures, smells and the unpleasant aspects of life.


In The Unusual Life of Tristan Smith the protagonist is born with a cognitive memory and terrible disfigurement. His body is a great source of perpetual pain as is his memory. In His Illegal Self, Che is taken from his privileged reality and thrust into a word of underground, overgrown organic textures, smells and grimy people. In both books the protagonist is on a mission to discover their father; Tristan who he is and Che where he is. Both novels take place in worlds that are reminiscent of perhaps reality but certainly are never established, mostly just suggested. It is these make-believe worlds that stimulate the reader to exercise their own memory banks and grasp at certain similarities within actuality whether in the past, present or it has even been suggested- the future.


Carey’s writing is stimulating in that it prods the reader every word of the way. It is not writing that requires a dictionary but certainly if not given your undivided attention the novel can and will turn on you within the sentence.

Contemporary Art






“I was very much part of my times, of my culture, as much a part of it as rockets and television.” – Andy Warhol












Undoubtedly Andy Warhol was a pioneer in the Pop Art (Popular Art) culture. Along with Roy Lichtenstein, Claes Oldenburg, David Hockney and others, it is my understanding that this movement was based on the principle of making art accessible to everyone. They used present day images of popular culture to reflect such things as consumer society (Campbell’s soup art), Hollywood stars (Marilyn) and money.
I am reluctant to comment on Andy Warhol’s art as contemporary. After all, what do rockets and television have to do with us now?

So what do I consider worthy of classification as contemporary art?

The artist needs to be breathing- the minute they stop they also stop being able to represent the present moment. Now I realize that museums and galleries are not able to obliterate colletions based on a breathing technicality, but I can.
To quote Chekhov:
"There is nothing new in art except talent"

Let me take a step further and suggest that talent and modern art media are elements of contemporary art.

Many people see art as something that is on canvas. Many artist today are making art that simply was not possible before. Jennifer Steinkamp uses a computer program called Maya to produce her art. What makes Steinkamps' art ‘real’ to me is that I am in a meadow and can feel the wind swaying me when I see/ watch the image of her flowers.
‘Graffiti art’ is raw contemporary art. Indicative not only of urban culture but often used as a political platform and as a commentary for present day issues.

Art like that of Takashi Murakami’s which is primarily ‘Japanimation’ art is a paradigm of how much Asian culture has influenced modern American culture. The global village as represented in art is very much a part of present culture. I’ve always thought it is so funny how we see modern fashion and contemporary home d├ęcor with Asian characters and how many of us really know what is written on our tee-shirt?
David Hockney, well known for his use of photomontage not only uses modern techniques but his art also reflects on homosexuality which although not a ‘new’ issue is certainly one of much heated debate for modern times. As a naturalist artist who is still working/living I would venture that it would be impossible to not consider him a contemporary artist. (http://www.davidhockney.com-/ his bio is cleverly written)

The MOCA's collection includes artist from 1940 to the present.

The MCA Chicago's collection is from 1945 to the present.

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