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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Künstlerhaus Schloss Balmoral: Fellowships for Painting. 2014

Offering residential fellowships for international visual artists, the Künstlerhaus in Bad Ems, Germany, was founded in 1995 as a place of reflection, artistic production, discussion and meeting. It supports visual artists from all over the world by awarding a total of six artists-in-residence fellowships. For 2014, the residence fellowships will be awarded exclusively for painting. In future, each fellowship will be awarded for a different artistic genre. This offering, which is unique in Germany, is intended to enable deeper mutual creative cross-fertilisation among the resident artists. It will also lead to a more intensive specialist exchange of ideas with external artists, speakers, teachers, curators, etc.

Eligible to apply for a Balmoral fellowship are visual artists of any age from Germany and around the world. The focus of artistic work for the residential fellowships for 2014 must be on the medium of painting, whereby painting does not necessarily mean just ‘paint on canvas’. Formal and conceptual exploration of the limits and possibilities of the genre are also welcome.

The preconditions for applicants for the residential fellowships for visual artists are a completed course of study in art (M.F.A. or comparable) and three years of continuous artistic work after the conclusion of studies until the beginning of the fellowship. Applications are also possible for autodidacts distinguished by special artistic achievements, as documented by exhibitions and prizes. Knowledge of German or English is expected.

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Teratology in the 18th C: Monsters and Artists

In 1775, French artists Nicolas-François and Geneviève Regnault published the influential ‘Les Ecarts de la nature ou recueil des principales monstruosités‘ (The Deviations of Nature or a Collection of the Main Monstrosities). Tapping into centuries old scientific, ethnographic, and cosmographic interpretive traditions of “the monstrous”, François and Regnault were guided by poet Boileau’s idea that “no monster exists that cannot be made pleasing through art”. This marks an important moment in teratology i.e the study of perceived abnormalities in the natural world, both real and imagined. Perceptions, whether individual or societal, of deviations from the norm hold a place of academic interest for me, for they are often lensed with an entire arsenal of valuations of what is acceptable and what is not. The term “monster”, which is derived from the Latin verb “monstrare” meaning “to show”, was used to describe a visually unusual creature from about the 1st century B.C. onward. Classical interpretations of “the monstrous” were to remain influential until the end of the 17th century. Then came the ‘aesthetization’ of the monstrous along with the coming of Christianity, when authors began interpreting such phenomena as having been brought forth by God to communicate divine judgments. By the end of the Middle Ages, unusual natural occurrences were increasingly perceived as “wonders,” or “prodigies”, terms which all focused on their strange and exceptional character. Wonders were seen as signs of God’s anger, or a sign of the power of nature, inspiring fear or admiration depending on the religious and political context.

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