Friday, September 16, 2011

Dragana Crnjak

These images are from an installation by Dragana Crnjak in a show at the main Herron art gallery @ IUPUI in Indianapolis, IN. These images are done in acrylic and charcoal. The marks in charcoal seem to have shadows underneath as the charcoal dust fall, which gives them an implied dimension while the others marks are flat. There is an interesting play of space involved. Before I had more clues as to what the image was about (migration, for one thing), I had a sense of the natural or wild being expressed.

As seen in the detail, some of the marks are of animals such as wolves - though even they blend in with the overall abstractness. She also mentioned ideas relating to villiage and community. And there is definitely wildness going on.

I went to her lecture on Wednesday. She is from Bosnia and her family came to the USA with refugee status. Some of her works, like the ones below, are more about houses (sometimes upside down), displacement and negative space.

I Flipped (2007)

Unusual Morning (2007)

More can be seen at her website:

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Snake Photos

I saw these photos of snakes by Guido Mocafico while I was browsing on the National Geographic site:

Naja samarensis

Western green mambas - Dendroaspis viridis

Copperheads - Agkistrodon contortrix

Rhynchophis boulengeri - Rhinoceros rat snakes

Epicrates cenchria cenchria

Apodora papuana

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Leonora Carrington

Leonora Carrington, surrealist artist, has died at the age of 94 in Mexico

"She was the last great living surrealist," her friend, poet Homero Aridjis said. "She was a living legend."

"She was famed for haunting, dreamlike works focusing on strange ritual-like scenes with birds, cats, unicorn-like creatures and other animals."

She was born in Lancashire, England, in 1917 - her family was in the textile manufacturing industry. She painted, moved to Paris at the age of 20 where she met Surrealist painter Max Ernst as well as other artists - Salvador Dali, Marcel Duchamp, Joan Miro Andre Breton, Picasso and Man Ray. She went to Frida Kahlo's and Diego Rivera's wedding.

Carrington and Ernst were briefly together until he was arrested by the Gestapo in Nazi-occupied France. Peggy Guggenheim took an interest in Ernst and helped him escape to America (Gugenheim and Ernst were married from 42-46) In 1939 Carrington went to Spain, fell into a deep depression - her parents had her committed to a psychiatric hospital after she had a breakdown in Madrid.

She escaped to Lisbon, and was able to leave Europe by marrying poet and journalist Renato Leduc. After settling in Mexico, she married writer-photographer Emerico "Chiki" Weisz in 1946 and had two children.

She first exhibited her surrealist paintings in 1938 in Paris and Amsterdam. In 1947 she exhibited at the Pierre Matisse Gallery in New York City which gained her attention. She also wrote several books.

"She created mythical worlds in which magical beings and animals occupy the main stage, in which cobras merge with goats and blind crows become trees," the National Arts Council wrote. "These were some of the images that sprang from a mind obsessed with portraying a reality that transcends what can be seen."

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Toshiko Takaezu

Image from Stan Yake's Biography, Toshiko Takaezu, The Earth In Bloom

Toshiko Takaezu has died - she has been one of my favorite artists since I've known about her - 30 years or so. She was 88.

She is mostly known for her ceramics - enclosed or nearly enclosed cylinders and spherical shapes with expressionistic glazes.

I remember going to a show of hers at the American Craft Museum when it was by the MOMA in the 90s. (That museum has since changed its name to Museum of Arts & Design and moved to Columbus Square). I got yelled at for taking a couple photos.

The Perimeter Gallery in Chicago always had a couple of her things - usually fairly small - on display. Some of her things were quite large - over 5 feet. They would seem to stretch the limits of what would be possible or reasonable to create.

She is credited with helping to bring ceramics into the realm of fine arts.

The New York Times article says she was influenced by the Finnish ceramist Maija Grotell - who made ceramics "to be seen and not used." She was also influenced by Zen Buddhism.

She regarded her ceramic work as an outgrowth of nature and seamlessly interconnected with the rest of her life. “I see no difference between making pots, cooking and growing vegetables,” she was fond of saying. Indeed, she often used her kilns to bake chicken in clay, and dry mushrooms, apples and zucchinis.

“You are not an artist simply because you paint or sculpt or make pots that cannot be used,” she told Ceramics Monthly in 1975. “An artist is a poet in his or her own medium. And when an artist produces a good piece, that work has mystery, an unsaid quality; it is alive.”

She was born in Hawaii and died in Hawaii and in between she studied at Cranbrook Academy of Art in Bloomfield Hills, Mich (where she studied with Maija Grotell), taught at the Cleveland Institute of Art for 10 years and then at Princeton for 25 years.

Moon, n.d.

I got to making painted spheres for awhile - which were partly inspired by her ceramics.

Friday, January 21, 2011

Glue, Ceramics and Cloth

I went to the January show at the Halcyon in Terre Haute the other day. Upon walking into the foyer area, one encounters Christy Brinkman's hot glue creations. The dark grey-blue wall shows them off most effectively. The light, whitish translucent quality suggests snowflakes, but the shapes seem more like mold, or coral, or some life form yet unseen.

I have seen Ms. Brinkman working on these. It's a labor intensive process as she builds up the structures with strips of hot glue. It is interesting to experience the result, many of these glue creatures together in an environment. The dark back room with strategic lighting suggests an underwater habitat. Even though, they are so much plastic, unlike other plastic things, Brinkman's creations seem more fragile - as life is.

_________________In the large gallery is ceramics created by Judy Ohmit and textiles/quilts by Julia Sermersheim.

Sermersheim's quilt/textile pieces are mostly about abstraction and color - as quilts typically have been. Sermersheim's quilts often express a more organic nature - and a playful use of stitching. The one with the pond is the most literal in it's expression. The one shown in the background of the two ceramic figures is the most colorful. (You have to experience this in person to get the full effect - nothing could adequately reproduce those colors).
I like the way Judy Ohmit's ceramic women relate to each other - especially "Sisters" - and I like the colors and simplicity of them. In one sense some of them are like so many gift items that portray occupations. Perhaps one thing that makes these different is that so many of those things are about more typical types, while many of these are less typical yet abstract - such as "Hope."________________________________


Soon, I'll go off to work on a painting that is a multi-week process. The colors of the quilts inspire me to push the colors in my painting; the ceramic figures to endow my figures with personality. While I always like to express the organic quality of life - the hot glue pieces remind me to be experimental in my approach.