Thursday, May 23, 2013

Flickr.com has changed its look ...

... and initially was a little odd, but then so was Blogger a few months ago, but we got used to it. The same features are there, but you have to search around a bit to find them.

I have to say that I like that the images show up in high resolution now. And I still go and comment on work I like, too. There are some seriously talented people out there.

And a new image, let's see ... some drawings I think.



Yes, you've seen this one before, on a previous blog. I was looking over them and decided to add a little colour. It's still called They Turned Out To Be Dutch.


This one is Bohemia Bagel I. I liked that particular café, it was popular with a lot of tourists.



This one I called Hradcanske Namesti, after the square we were all sitting in. My Czech is very limited, I know that 'hrad' means 'castle' and 'namesti' means Square, I can order two beers, say please and thank you and do you speak English ("Mluvite Anglicky?") and that's it. But many people in Prague speak English now - which is great!



Friday, May 17, 2013

Interesting .... really?

Various online dictionaries define the word 'interesting' as 'arousing curiosity or interesting, capturing and holding the attention'. The Merriam-Webster online dictionary lists a whole rake of 'related' words, which include 'breathtaking', 'enchanting', 'provocative', 'tantalising', 'thrilling' and 'spellbinding'; as well as a dozen or so synonyms which include 'absorbing', 'engaging', 'engrossing' and 'enthralling'.

An art piece can be all those things. I personally find Van Gogh's works to be 'captivating' - but not everyone I know feels the same. And I could stand for hours in front of Botticelli's Birth of Venus and never tire of it, ever - and I mean the original work, which is enormous. I think it's wonderful, and I love the symbolism in Greek mythology and the significance of the shell ... but that is for another blog. And I enjoy the playfulness of works by Joan Miró. Then there are own artists from Ireland - the great works of Jack Butler Yeats, whose skill at drawing horses with paint is unmatched, and whose works developed a wonderful psychic resonance as he aged. Another Irish artist who seems to tap into some kind of unseen but very much sensed otherworld is John Shinnors, whose abstracted series of The Scarecrow and The Estuary both tap into the various epistemological layers, as well as being technically interesting - oops, sorry, and you'll why I'm apologising for using that word by the time you finish reading this blog - for any artist who aspires to work in oil paint. 

I recently read an article in the Irish Times that discusses abstraction and how it has lost its shock value and has become rather mundane and slightly embarrassing. I'm just going to quote the last paragraph, because that is what triggered this blog: 

"Here, though, may be the irony of abstraction. It was too successful to retain its power to disturb and, in many cases, to delight. A slight air of disappointment hangs over the MoMA show: for all its wonders, too many of the once-astounding works can now be damned with that most terrible term of approbation: interesting. In the end, even the most abstract work does need what Picasso called “something” – some reference to a real or imagined, physical or spiritual world beyond itself." 
- by Fintan O'Toole, for The Irish Times

I couldn't help but notice his use of the word 'interesting' ... and couldn't help grinning wryly to myself. 

See, I don't think that Fintan O'Toole means 'tantalising', 'enthralling' or 'spellbinding'. He is using the word as every person who goes to opening nights of exhibitions has used it one time or another. It's a cop-out word. It's a form of politeness. It basically means 'I appreciate that the artist put a lot of time and effort into these works, and a lot of thought, did a lot of research, etc., but frankly the finished product doesn't do a whole lot for me. But well done. It's nicely presented. And thanks for the wine.' Well, this is what is means when spoken by someone who isn't actually an artist themselves. An artist can say an exhibition is 'interesting' and mean anything from 'spellbinding', 'enthralling', etc., through 'spiritually uplifting and ethereal' through 'very nice, I love the composition/textures/concept/process/product/colours/hues/drawing/line/wine' through 'I love the composition etc. and wish I had thought of doing it that way, kudos' through 'I wish I had thought of that first, now that cunt is going to get the glory for being the first to do it and I can't be seen to be copying him/her' through 'whatever. I want more wine. I wonder if they'll notice if I nick a bottle?' and so on. But I think generally that when an artist says an exhibition is 'interesting', like the non-artist, they are being polite - with the added consideration that as artists, they appreciate much better the industry that has gone into making the art and putting together the exhibition. 

I've made work that has been called 'interesting'. But I suppose that, given that even the greatest of the abstractionists, whose work was once considered 'ground-breaking', and 'innovative', are now considered 'interesting' in the pantheon of art history in general, I suppose I'm in good company. Or I'm damned.

Whatever. Where's the wine?




Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Photograph: Farm Laneway



A photograph I took of a farm laneway about half a mile away from my house.

I suppose photography suits the Irish landscape better than painting if your objective is actually recording the light before the rain sets in. I think it had been raining here 10 minutes beforehand, wouldn't surprise me, the weather in Ireland being what it is.

But would I work this into a painting? Probably not. I don't feel the need to reproduce exact image this in a paint medium, but I might take small elements from it and work them into something else in time. But as an exercise in contrasting colours, it might be fun to take the colours in the sky and work them through the rest to see what you end up with.

I say now probably not, but don't hold me to it. The more I look at it, the more I think hm ....

Watch this space. 

Monday, May 13, 2013

A potential Masters project?

In my messing around with the notion of 'punctum' as described by Susan Sontag in On Photography, I got ever so slightly sidetracked. The 'punctum' is the visual hook in any photograph that engages the viewer's interest/attention and thus influences how the individual interprets the photo, so I started looking at sketches I had made with a 'punctum' in mind, and tried to highlight said 'punctums' with colour.

Then I picked up On Photography again after 10 years, and as I was making my way through the first chapter, I couldn't help thinking that the ubiquity of photography might well now be overtaken by the ubiquity of the medium most commonly used to display it today - the Internet, and all of the communication thingies that are used, including social media. I haven't even started to explore the implications of this yet, but I'm sure memes will feature. And there goes the context ....

But anyway, I have processed some of the images I was looking at - from my visits to the wonderful city of Prague, which I hope to visit again someday. Below are a few of them. Enjoy.



Rainbow Seating near the Hrad entrance




View from Vysehrad, Prague


Jewish Quarter Café (Caesar Salad)