Art

Jenni Sparks and David Robinson: Hand mapping cities

Creative cartographic expressions are a distinct challenge, especially if they have to possibly double up as real word navigational aids as well. There is this tension between creative, expressive liberty and the concrete ‘rootedness’ in directionality, topographic fidelity and cartographic accuracy. The complexity of a project of this nature increases manifold when it is to be hand drawn entirely without rapid erase, undo, redo tools. Precision of line coupled with a quirky ‘sense of humor’, which in turn is married to the larger vision of a macro city to micro map translation, undoubtedly showcase the remarkable skills and abilities of British illustrators Jenni Sparks and David Ryan Robinson. Take a look.

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Polish cine posters: Artist liberation and aesthetic innovation

Apocalypse Now (1979)

Lending considerable prestige to the ‘stick-to-the-wall-and-tear-it-down’ medium of the poster, was the first International Exposition of the Poster held in Krakow, Poland in the fag end of the 19th century, 1898 to be precise. Jan Wdowiszewski, the then director of the ‘Technical Industrial Museum’ authored two essays devoted to the art of the poster, and in conceiving the Poster Exposition, tapped into the artistic vitality of Krakow of that era, and in turn laid the foundations of what will be later internationally known as Polish Poster Art. The artists associated with the initial poster years in Poland were from the Academy Of Fine Arts and were members of the Society of Polish Artists“Sztuka” – there was acceptability associated with creating posters of various kinds, and over the next century, this specific ‘zeitgeist’ saw some of the most remarkable visual expressions through posters, making them an identifiable and essential part of Polish culture. With Polish independence, post First World War, Tadeusz Gronowski, an architecture student at the University of Warsaw rose to the fore as one of the key ‘architects’ of Polish poster art, responding to the needs of an industrialized nation and the urgently required advertising communications. Gronowski’s work was marked by modernist, cubist impulses and an irreverence for visual tradition, a liberating move from the poster styles of the earlier periods. His work was carried further by later architects turned graphic artists from the University of Warsaw.  Read More…

Maleonn Ma: Theatricus Surrealis

Shanghai, China native, and graphic design major from the Fine Arts College of Shanghai University, Maleonn Ma conjures up evocative still images weaving in a complex tapestry of memories soaked in surreal flakes. Measured, yet pushing on an unseen edginess, and bordering on imploding on the self, Maleonn’s work has theatrical roots, and often requires some form of stagecraft or the other – not excluding the usage of actors, costumes, props, decor, mood light and so on. This, one attributes to his family background in the Beijing Opera and the traditional performing arts, and his proximity to theater and the visual arts. Unfazed by titles, genres and typification of various kinds, Maleonn responds intuitively to his artistic journey, taking on projects of varying challenges and complexity, at times with a dash of humor. Take a look.

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Riusuke Fukahori: Of Goldfish, Resin and Paint

Every generation throws up a talent so extraordinary, that the work produced by the artist finds resonance across cultures and peoples. Nagakute, Aichi prefecture, Japan based artist Fukahori invented and innovated a complex technique of poured resin, and layering of acrylic paint, to come up with extraordinary three dimensional life-like ‘sculptures’ of varied goldfish. A graduate of the Aichi Prefectual University of Fine Arts and Music, and an admirer of French impressionist Claude Monet, his work displays a singular focus and extraordinary passion in creating small to large resin-paint ‘sculptures’. The relationship between art and life has been debated for centuries now, and by his admission Fukahori negotiates his identity and his everyday via his thematic obsession with goldfish – an idea, a metaphor, a poem. Take a look.

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Ghana: VCR Theater Posters from the 1980s.

Mirroring the VCR days in India, the first VCRs reached Ghana in the 1980s to give rise to a rental structure and exhibition of video cassette movies, particularly in the urban centers of Accra and Kumasi. Quite like India again, a host of fixed and mobile VCR movie theaters rolled into business. Itinerant VCR businessmen would travel the country hooking up TVs and VCRs to portable generators even, in case of non availability of power, to create impromptu theaters of entertainment. A table and a couple of chairs were good enough. These VCR movie screenings were promoted via a large variety of colorful and exaggerated hand drawn and hand painted posters by self taught artists who often used discarded flour sacks as the canvas. In the idiom of popular street art, these posters exude a charming lack of sophistication, and therefore, is typically in opposition to high brow gallery art. This liberty of interpreting American and Hong Kong movies in a single frame for promotional purposes on the streets of sub-Saharan Africa, had given voice to a rather unique visual idiom – marked by childlike exaggerations, disregard for fidelity to content, emphasis on shock and gore, and a wicked touch of humor. Take a look.

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Jeremy Mayer: Typewriter assemblage sculpture

Oakland, USA, based Jeremy Mayer is a typewriter freak, and not in the expected manner of collecting vintage typewriters and restoring them to functionality, polishing and burnishing them to be stored in a personal museum of sorts. He does the opposite. He takes them apart – but with the sole intention of putting them back together in staggeringly imaginative sculptural articulations. I have a distinct affinity towards acts of purposeful and creative recycling, or in this case, re-assemblage, via which industrial produce that has lived its perceived utility and is discarded (considered ‘junk’) is put to use again in creative and imaginative ways. Mayer is an exceptional talent, for he uses no solders and welds, but works entirely with manual, and some might say, old fashioned tools, like the screwdriver and the pliers. If you have ever used typewriters, here is an opportunity to appreciate them, from a different perspective. Take a look.

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Remembering Storm Thorgerson (1944-2013) : Wish you were here.

British artist, graphic designer and film-maker Storm Thorgerson has left an indelible mark on the minds of a generation or two of youngsters (or ‘oldsters’ for that matter) who grew up imagining the music of Pink Floyd. A graduate of the Royal College of Art, Thorgerson’s influences were many, and when he was brought in to deliver the artwork for the ‘psychedelic-progressive’ music of Pink Floyd in the late 1960s – early 70s, he mapped his interest in the surrealism of René Magritte, Salvador Dali and the inimitable Man Ray, to the atmospheric music of Pink Floyd. This touch defined the music, created spaces for imagining, and was provocatively original. Working with analogue, pre-Photoshop tools, Thorgerson was singular about his vision and uncompromising. However hard we may try, it is difficult to evoke Pink Floyd without Thorgerson. He passed away quietly, a few days back (18th of April, 2013). Storm Thorgerson. Wish you were here.

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Ronen Goldman: The Surrealistic Pillow

Tel Aviv based Israeli artist Ronen Goldman‘s work from the year 2012 onwards has caught the attention of visual art critics and commentators, and one can see why. Apart from showcasing his proficiency and considerable skills in generating extremely imaginative visualscapes through digital photo manipulations, Ronen’s work also has a streak of social satire and commentary infused with dream-nightmare states. Tapping into long traditions of 20th century surrealistic art and marrying it with 21st century digital tool sets, Ronen’s surrealistic pillow is a memorable and provocative statement. Take a look.

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Liu Bolin: Standing still, still Standing

Contemporary performance artist Beijing based Liu Bolin expresses himself by getting painted on his shoes, trousers, jacket, face and hair. A graduate of the Central Academy of Fine Arts (CAFA), Beijing, Liu takes a stand, literally, against what he considers totalizing, unyielding forces, be it late capitalist, marketized consumerism or regimes of political command and control – the individual in each case is annihilated, symbolized by the corporeal evaporation of the one standing alone in Liu’s performance art. Liu is often misunderstood, not surprisingly, by those not familiar with his work – “He is the one who is standing only, and others are painting him with brushes in hand – how is HE the artist!?”. In each of Liu’s performances, he is in complete control, not the ones holding the brushes. He locates the site, directs them (almost cinematic here) to do what they have to do, is fully responsible for the paint used, and above all, presents his bodily self as the canvas. Yes, he stands still, hope he is still standing.

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Gregg Dunn: Neuroscience Painting

1. Cerebellar Lobe

Gregg Dunn, neuroscientist, is a lover of Japanese Edo scroll and screen painting. He discovered that the elegant forms of neurons in our brains can be painted expressively in the ‘sumi-e’ style. Neurons may be tiny in scale, but they clearly posess the same beauty seen in traditional forms of far eastern minimalist painting traditions. Dunn offers a unique persepective to our ‘skull tissues’ of neurons, glial flares, hippocampus, the cortex, synapses, and ganglion. Take a look.

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