member of:Observers of the Interdependence of Domestic Objects and Their Influence on Everyday Life

This group has been active for a long time and has already made some remarkable assertions which render life simpler from the practical point of view. For example, I move a pot of green color five centimeters to the right, I push in the thumbtack beside the comb and if Mr. A (another adherent like me) at this moment puts his volume about bee-keeping beside a pattern for cutting out vests, I am sure to meet on the sidewalk of the avenida Madero a woman who intrigues me and whose origin and address I never could have known...
--Remedios Varo

(Slideshow is of Artwork by Remedios Varo)
By believing passionately in something that still does not exist, we create it. The nonexistent is whatever we have not sufficiently desired.
--Franz Kafka

Thursday, April 23, 2009

New Painting

From paintings by zoe

The Baku is a mythological creature with the head of a lion, body of a horse, and paws of a tiger. He eats bad dreams.

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Alexander Jansson

From Alexander Jansson

Self Portrait

From Alexander Jansson

House of Ele Phable

From Alexander Jansson

Her Only Friend, The Moon

Alexander Jansson is an artist from Uppsala, Sweden, who works in digital illustration from his design studio, Sleeping House.

From Alexander Jansson

The Bearded Baumann Brothers

Boatsman Hattington is a children's book he has put together, which is in search of a publisher:

From Alexander Jansson

Ramone Bosco is a graphic novel he works on in his spare time. He says, "It tells a story of friendship, greed, and vengeance." Some of the characters, settings, and vehicles from that:

From Alexander Jansson

From Alexander Jansson

He is in what he calls a "garage band," named DiKate, for which he made a possible album cover:
From Alexander Jansson

He also has a youtube channel where he posts short video clips. The link will lead you to The Curious Kind, "a short film about an astronaut and his whereabouts on his journey to the end of the space."

His page is beautiful and stylish and offers much to explore:

From Alexander Jansson

Nocturnal Mysteries

From Alexander Jansson

New Year's Eve

From Alexander Jansson

Pavor Nocturnus

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Robert and Shana ParkeHarrison: Another silent post

A bizarre and surreal past/ future world. A husband and wife team using theater, collage, photography, and whatever else comes in handy to create their images. They say on their site that they are exploring the future world, an environment decimated by man's abuse, but the thing that stands out to me is the heroic magic of the man contending with that environment.
Thanks to Pequenos Nadas on Imeem for the playlist.

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Bizarre Effects of the Faltering Economy: Mass Psychogenic Illness

Ok, one more thing...
In explaining this video, I'm quoting here directly from Wikipedia. The video, of course, comes with its own explanation, but I happen to like this one better:

Dancing Plague

"The outbreak began in July 1518, when a woman, Frau Troffea, began to dance fervently in a street in Strasbourg.This lasted somewhere between four to six days. Within a week, 34 others had joined, and within a month, there were around 400 dancers. Most of these people eventually died from heart attack, stroke, or exhaustion.

Historical documents, including "physician notes, cathedral sermons, local and regional chronicles, and even notes issued by the Strasbourg city council" are clear that the victims danced. It is not known why these people danced to their deaths, nor is it clear that they were dancing willfully.

As the dancing plague worsened, concerned nobles sought the advice of local physicians, who ruled out astrological and supernatural causes, instead announcing that the plague was a "natural disease" caused by "hot blood". However, instead of prescribing bleeding, authorities encouraged more dancing, in part by opening two guildhalls and a grain market, and even constructing a wooden stage. The authorities did this because they believed that the dancers would only recover if they danced continually night and day. To increase the effectiveness of the cure, authorities even paid for musicians to keep the afflicted moving.

Historian John Waller thinks that the dancing epidemic was caused by mass psychogenic illness (MPI), a manifestation of mass hysteria that is often preceded by extreme levels of psychological distress. Waller states that famine had been prevalent in the region for some time, caused by very cold winters, very hot summers, crop frosts, and violent hailstorms. Mass deaths followed from malnutrition, and those who survived were forced to kill their farm animals, take out loans, and perhaps even beg in the streets. In addition to food shortages, diseases such as smallpox, syphilis, leprosy, and "the English sweat" (a new disease) afflicted the populace. This series of events might have triggered the MPI."

Enjoy the video:

wordless sharing

more alice, from a.r.menning:

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a brief playlist of her works:

she says:
"When making art, I attempt to gather threads of the mythic, the terrible, the fantastic: imagined fragments of eternal chaos, order, beings, and creatures that sparkle and fester beneath the thin film of reality that hems in our everyday lives, and weave visual tapestries with these threads. I strongly believe in the importance of what Bruno Schulz called modern mythologizing, making sense of reality by creating myths to suit humankind through every age and culture. The artist has a unique ability to interpret and represent reality (and all that creeps beneath its surface) in an endless variety of shades and stripes and languages, dressed in cloaks of whimsy, delight, and horror. I'm plotting away in my own little corner of the world trying to do just that. The past few years have been spent in an effort to develop my own visual vocabulary through which to weave such tapestries."

and a video by anna, also known as distantmirrors on youtube, of the art work of claude verlinde and the mysterious music of thomas newman:

Claude Verlinde - Anna.

and his chess set:
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plus a few left out of the playlist because of the nasty watermark. i'll leave it to you to figure out where i got them, haha. i even recommend visiting the site, because there are many more there, and they are larger than they can be here.

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Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Mutual Consent, or "Reality" Part II

The entire above image is actually a mural, painted by John Pugh.

“Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist.” --Rene Magritte

Rene Magritte
Portrait of Magritte by Lothar Wolleh.

Trompe l'oeil: French phrase meaning “trick the eye.”

Zeuxis was an ancient Greek painter, (b. 464 BC) who was rumored to have died laughing at a painting he himself had made of a funny old woman. “The woman had ordered a painting of Aphrodite and demanded that she was used as his model.” (Wikipedia) His paintings were so good they were believed to trick nature itself into thinking they were "life"-- so here he had created something real yet too bizarre to be real, and in this (surely) myth, he exploded from the dissonance between logic and what was physically "there." In Pliny's Natural History, the author reported that there was a competition between Zeuxis and Parrhasius to decide who would be named the better painter. “When Zeuxis unveiled his painting of grapes, they appeared so luscious and inviting that birds flew down from the sky to peck at them. Zeuxis then asked Parrhasius to pull aside the curtain from his painting, only for Parrhasius to reveal the curtain itself was a painting, and Zeuxis was forced to concede defeat. Zeuxis is rumoured to have said: 'I have deceived the birds, but Parrhasius has deceived Zeuxis.'” (Wikipedia)

So begins the story of the trompe l'oiel in art, though the phrase itself didn't come to be used to describe it until the Baroque period in art. As an example from the Baroque period, here is the ceiling of a Jesuit church in Vienna with only a slightly curved ceiling, which was painted by Andrea Pozzo to look like a fantastic domed roof:

Vienna Church ceiling (Andrea Pozzo)

And again in Rome, a ceiling fresco:


Here, the ceiling soars up towards God, far beyond its “actual” reach. Physically speaking.

According to Professor Lois Parkinson Zamora of the University of Houston,
“Artistic devices of spatial illusion were developed in Europe during the seventeenth-century—the century of the style we now refer to as Baroque—in response to cultural anxieties occasioned by revolutionary scientific discoveries, revolutionary religious upheaval, also by the new taste for virtuosic visual display. The authority of perception was being undermined, and Baroque artists responded accordingly—and often fantastically—with structures intended to deceive the eye...”

The 16th and 17th centuries were the period we now refer to as The Scientific Revolution," beginning with Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus' "On the Revolutions of the Heavenly Spheres." The sun became the center of the solar system, replacing the Earth. Replacing "us" as the center of the universe, the point of it. Andreas Vesalius' "On the Fabric of the Human body" was another of the harbingers of modern scientific thought; he made many corrections to previous erroneous beliefs about the human skeletal system, the circulatory system, and the nervous system. Both works were published in 1543. The steam engine was developed, and in 1672, electricity was created by a man and his machine.
As a result of the immense changes in his society's understanding of the world, in 1611, the poet John Dunne wrote:
"[The] new Philosophy calls all in doubt,
The Element of fire is quite put out;
The Sun is lost, and th'earth, and no man's wit
Can well direct him where to look for it."

Visual artists, as well, were apparently quite affected, and the trompe l'oeil became very popular during this period as a method to show how the eye could be "tricked" by what it saw-- how it might "see" what was not really there.

Someone who has used the trompe l'oiel to great philosophical and magical effect is contemporary artist Rob Gonsalves. But he tries less to deceive the eye and more to free the limits of our perspective, to help us "see" what we only dream of, and therefor to move our dreams a step closer to reality. Rob Gonsalves describes here the development of his style of painting. I have inserted images where I felt they would appropriately illustrate his words:

“Much of my free time in childhood was spent daydreaming and drawing. Usually the subject would be an imagined place. For me, the greatest joy in drawing came from giving form to something that had previously only existed in my head. Gradually, my drawings came to be influenced by another aspect of my personality: my strong aptitude for mathematics. Buildings became my main subject...
In my teenage years my interests shifted more towards the realms of surrealism, symbolism, and fantasy in art, literature, and even music. The emphasis on the subconscious and imagination intrigued me and pointed the way for the first handful of paintings that I was to produce. These images were dreamlike and enigmatic in the manner typical of surrealism. I did not at this point have the confidence to consider painting to be a career path that I could realistically pursue. My painting activities were essentially put on hold as I studied architecture and worked for some years in that business...
As I began painting again I felt the need to make the dreamlike, magical occurrences depicted seem more concrete, as if they could be experienced in the physical world. My first introduction to the work of Magritte helped to crystalize for me the direction that my work was to take. His work 'The Human Condition' has a magical effect while being at the same time a straightforwardly realistic image. I had wanted to affirm that magical and wondrous experiences are not confined to the realm of dreams or the subconscious, but rather can be derived from our experience and conscious interpretation of the physical world. Magritte's 'magical realism' helped me to see how I could achieve this....”

Rene Magritte
The Human Condition

Rene Magritte

Note how Magritte's painting reminds of the story of Parrhasius' victory, with curtains pulled wide to display the lovely view from a window, both curtains and window actually a painting... within a painting... I think his painting “Attempting the Impossible also fits here:

Rene Magritte
Attempting the Impossible

Rene Magritte
La Reproducion Interdite
(Prohibited Reproduction)

“Frequently, the desire to express the wonder of imagination is manifested as images depicting children at play. The magical transformation in such images illustrates what is happening in the minds of the characters depicted, who are so absorbed by their activity that what is imagined seems to become real. Often these images will involve the type of illusion device that suggests an impossible (yet convincing) change of scale.”

Rob Gonsalves
Unfinished Puzzle

“Other sources of inspiration for my images can be found in the various dualities that can be observed in life experience: natural vs. human made, urban vs. rural, light vs. dark, material vs. spiritual, etc. The images that are rooted in these concepts usually employ the device of a metamorphosis from one element to another.”

Natural vs. Human Made:

Rob Gonsalves
Still Waters
Here, the sense of peace is created both by the natural setting and by the careful attention the people who live their give that setting. The way they have interacted with their environment is what creates their magical ability (to walk on water).

and The Woods Within:
Rob Gonsalves

Here, the feeling of home is combined with the protective arm of nature. The family communes with nature and with each other, the home is not separate from the materials and spirit which created it.

Light vs. Dark:

Rob Gonsalves
Ladies of the Lake

Material vs. Spiritual:
Rob Gonsalves
The Light of a Late Night
(Note that the skyscrapers, typical emblems of material wealth and successful society, can also be seen as statues of ancient gods and goddesses, kings or queens...)

“...the techniques of optical illusion in my work are utilized somewhat intuitively. The devices that I use are generated perhaps less scientifically than in the work of artists whose primary concern is the creation of optical illusions for their own sake. For me, the particular subject depicted and its emotional impact is crucial; the illusions are a means to an end and must serve the objectives of the overall conception of the image.”

Rob Gonsalves
Medieval Moonlight
Here, the woman appears guarded over by monks, or representatives of God; they are illusions created by the shape of the clouds in the heavens and the frame of man-made architecture. The “sense” of a beneficent power watching over you is created.

A video of Rene Magritte's works, set to the gently mysterious music of Thomas Newman by DistantMirrors is here:

her video of Rob Gonsalves' works is here:

”There are things known and there are things unknown, and in between are the doors of perception.” --Aldous Huxley

Julian Beever (A flat image drawn on the sidewalk with chalk)

Monday, April 13, 2009

Remedios Varo Part II


Remedios Varo As de Volante

In my first blog on Remedios Varo's work (Mutual Consent ), I mentioned that she often painted characters with their own, perhaps destined, method of travel built into their clothing or bodies: wings, clothing that formed sails, legs that became wheels, mustaches that served as steering bars. In this painting, Tailleur pour les Dames, Varo has created a whole shop to provide useful travel attire:


Varo described the purpose of the costumes in this shop very compellingly:
" style is very practical for travelling, the back being in the shape of a boat. Upon reaching a body of water one falls over backwards. Behind the head is a rudder which one guides by pulling ribbons which go to the breast and from which hangs a compass. All of this also serves as decoration. On firm ground it rolls along and the lapels serve as miniature sails, as well as the walking stick in which there is a sail rolled up that unfolds. The seated model is for going to those cocktail parties where you cannot move and one does not know where to set down a glass let alone to set down. The weave of the scarf is of a miraculous cloth that hardens at will and can serve as a seat. The style at the right is for a widow. It is of an effervescent cloth, like champagne, has a little pocket for carrying a vial of poison and ends in a very becoming reptile's tail. The tailor's face is drawn in the shape of scissors [and] his shadow is so rebellious that he has to pin it to the ceiling. The client who is contemplating the models unfolds into two more people because she doesn't know which of the three styles to choose, and the somewhat transparent repetitions of her to either side represent the state of doubt in which she finds herself."

Varo was taught to sew by her grandmother and had designed and made her own clothes since she was old enough to be able, and felt that tailors had no concept of a woman's anatomy or her needs in terms of comfort in real life. This talent came to be very useful in her life in exile, both for the many Surrealist costume parties that were thrown and for work. She worked on costume design for Jean Giraudoux's Madwoman of Chaillot, for Pedro Calderon de la Barca's Gran Teatro del Mundo, and Leonid Massine's ballet Aleko.

Linked, of course, to the theme of clothing with extra sails, rudders, basins and wheels, was the fact of the travel that made these things necessary; travel either for exploration or from forced exile. She was forced to flee so many times, first from stifling convention and a strict, constantly observing (spying, gossiping, expectant) society, but then from Franco, and finally from Hitler. She developed her "signature style" in the home she made for herself in Mexico (where she arrived in 1941), where she felt more welcomed than she ever had before. To illustrate,Emigrantes and Apartalos que Voy de Paso:

Remedios Varo Emigrantes

remedios var0

In La Tejedora Roja, we see again the theme of the artist (often a weaver or a knitter, as this theme was often in tribute to the domestic arts of women) as creator of life:

La tejedora roja

For more on the artist's fascinating life and work, I recommend the book Unexpected Journeys, by Janet Kaplan, which is a jewel.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Oleg Denisenko

oleg denisenko

Oleg Denisenko (b. 1957 OR 1961) is a Ukranian printmaker, calligrapher, author and sculptor. His characters, with their medieval armor, their questionable horses, and their general bizarreness, remind me a lot of Don Quixote. Angelic wings, astrolabes, da Vinci drawings, books, swords, masks, and chicken legs. All together.

oleg denisenko
"The magic of black and white on the shining summits touches the heart with soft and disturbing breath of patina. It is very real... it is forever... The wish to comprehend the absolute truth is so desirable, but so unattainable. And only when we touch it the hope is born again. The holiness of taboo is esteemed. The pilgrim will tread three thousand ways until the echo of the man in the golden helmet will be heard. And tomorrow’s rain will prove the idea of the adherence to the golden mean. Finally the puzzle should be solved." - Oleg Denisenko
The faces are very similar to those in the icons of the eastern orthodox church, even sometimes laid out in squares as if they were mosaic.
oleg denisenko
oleg denisenko
"horn of hope"

In both of the above "hope" images, there is a strange symbol: on the shield and in the chalice. I believe this is a curled swastika, which was present in pre-Christian Slavic mythology as a sign of the sun god Svarog, and called "The Wheel of Svarog". According to Wikipedia, "It is a magic sign manifesting the power and majesty of the sun and fire... It was the symbol of power...both lay and divine." It later became popular as ornamentation on Easter eggs, as it was a symbol of the victory of Christ over death in the medieval Church.
If you know this to be the wrong understanding of the symbol, please LET ME KNOW.
oleg denisenko
oleg denisenko
there is so much fine detail in these... for example, in the above etching, if you look closely, you see he is riding a bird on a wheel...
You may also notice that many of the etchings bear the words "Ex Libris." Oleg Denisenko was a laureate in a large competition in 1994, winning a silver medal. According to the press release: In September 1994, at the initiative of and in cooperation with the Swiss Embassy, the Belgrade Ex-libris Circle launched two international competitions in the field of applied arts under the title World of Ex-libris. Ex-libris, or bookplates as they are often called in English, are small art graphics which a person pastes into his books in order to identify them as his property...Over 1200 artists from 63 countries submitted some 6500 ex-libris for the artists' competition, making it the largest event of its kind ever held in this specific field of applied graphic arts.

oleg denisenko

The name Daedalus means "cunning worker." He was the creator, in Greek mythology, of the labyrinth for King Minos. According to Wikipedia, he was "so skillful that he was said to have invented images that seemed to move about." Art becoming life.... According to mythology, he created functioning wings with his art, with which he and his son were able to fly. Pliny credited him with the creation of carpentry.

You can see a slideshow of many (many) of his works here:

I recommend visiting this site, where you can see his images much larger, which helps, with the overwhelming amounts of little details:

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Su Blackwell: The fragility of our life, dreams and ambitions

Su Blackwell gives the following Artist's Statement on her page:
"Paper has been used for communication since its invention; either between humans or in an attempt to communicate with the spirit world. I employ this delicate, accessible medium and use irreversible, destructive processes to reflect on the precariousness of the world we inhabit and the fragility of our life, dreams and ambitions.

It is the delicacy, the slight feeling of claustrophobia, as if these characters, the landscape have been trapped inside the book all this time and are now suddenly released. A number of the compositions have an urgency about them, the choices made for the cut-out people from the illustrations seem to lean towards people on their way somewhere, about to discover something, or perhaps escaping from something. And the landscapes speak of a bleak mystery, a rising, an awareness of the air."

The Castle

From the installation "While You Were Sleeping:"

The artist states:
"I read in a book a Burmese legend about the soul butterfly or is believed that a sleeping person's soul takes the shape of a butterfly and flies abroad while its owner is asleep, searching for the souls of other persons and animals and returning when the owner awakes. Burmese children are still taught never to wake a sleeping person for fear they may die, or worse, live on, without a soul."


"In Thailand I saw paper used in ceremonies a lot. I went to the funeral of a monk where people threw paper flowers on the pyre. I started working with paper and exhibited work here in Bradford with origami birds and pieces of old essay drafts on the floor.

I started working with books, inspired by an exhibition of Jonathan Callan, whose work really touched me, though he demolishes the book. I bought The Quiet American in Thailand and the book had all Thai inscriptions in the margin where someone had translated certain passages. It was really beautiful. When I read the book it seemed to resonate with what I had been thinking about Buddhism and the soul becoming a butterfly. I liked the idea of moths cutting through the book with a scalpel, leaving a negative image."

The Quiet American

From su blackwell