Saturday, January 21, 2012

The Tri-Factor

Jake Aikman, Fathom, 2009
Raphael, The Three Graces, 1500-1505
Jean-Francois Millet, The Gleaners, 1857

Three is a mystical number. Carl Jung asserted, "... every tension of opposites culminates in a release, out of which comes the third." Pythagoras, the grandfather of mathematics, said that three was the number of completion. Three is the only number out of an infinite body of numbers that can be calculated by adding all the numbers below it: 1+2= 3. Three is ingrained into our existence in the sense that we always have a past, present and future in everything we experience. We exist in three modes of being: mind, body and soul. There are three primary colours that create all the other colours. As with the paintings above, the number three has the potential to create a composition that is visually resolved. Maybe that's why there were three blind mice, or three wishes, or Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice, ... !

Monday, January 16, 2012

The Fountain's Prophecy

Sherrie Levine, Fountain (After Marcel Duchamp), 1991
John W. Hoopes photography, Johnny-on-the-Spot (from Burning Man), 2003
Marcel Duchamp, The Fountain, 1917

Marcel Duchamp knew a thing or two about chess. In fact, he gave up making art later in life to play the checkered board on a full-time basis. One of his greatest moves in the art world was to put forward the readymade urinal, signed R. Mutt, for an exhibition in 1917. This was no willy-nilly act. Although those within the bourgeois art world at the time were left scratching their chins, Duchamp would later be recognised for unlocking the gateway to modern art through this key art piece.

For the Turner Prize in 2004, Duchamp's Fountain was voted the most influential artwork of the 20th century by 500 selected British art world professionals. The Fountain was a precursor to modern conceptual art, foretelling that artworks would move away from the realm of aesthetics, "retinal art" as Duchamp termed it, and become firmly rooted in the house of thought.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

The Art of Language

Jenny Holzer, Truisms, 1978-1983
Jenny Holzer, Truisms, 1978-1983
Martin Creed, Work No. 203: Everything is going to be alright, 1999
Kendell Geers, 7 Deadly Sins, 2006
Kendell Geers, Manifest, 2007

Art & Language is a shifting collaboration among conceptual artists. They deal with questions surrounding art production, and attempt a shift from the conventional "non-linguistic" forms of art like painting and sculpture to more theoretically based works. What makes these verbal statements all the more provocative is that artists often find ways to display them in the everyday public arena. For Truisms, Jenny Holzer wrote nearly 300 aphorisms or slogans that appeared on stickers, T shirts, posters and electronic displays. When Holzer started using electronic displays in 1982, she blazed these messages across giant advertising boards in Times Square, New York. She hoped they would sharpen people's awareness of the 'usual baloney they are fed' in daily life.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

The Spiral's Pull

Bruce Nauman, The true artist helps the world by revealing mystic truths, 1967
Robert Smithson, Spiral Jetty, 1970
Gustav Klimt, The Tree of Life, 1909
Istvan Orosz, poster for the designer's personal work, year unknown
The spiraling Escheresque illustration by Istvan Orosz was originally designed for an art exhibition whose purpose was to show the continuity and influence of ancient ages on contemporary arts. The design was later used as a poster for Orosz's personal exhibit. 

We live in a spiral-shaped galaxy. The spiraling aspects of nature are myriad: coiled snakes, vines, ammonites, tornadoes, whirlpools in water. The double helix that carries our DNA is a spiral that grows at a fixed rate and our sense of sound travels through the spiraled cochlea within our ears. When we curl our fingers into our hands, we observe a golden spiral. It's no wonder that swirling spirals are hypnotic to us; they permeate the very essence of our beings. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

The Huntress

David Chancellor, Huntress with Buck, 2010

David Chancellor was awarded the 2010 Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize at the National Portrait Gallery in London for Huntress with Buck. What strikes me first about the photograph is how her crimson hair matches the horse's coat. The orange hue is set ablaze through being enhanced by its complementary colour blue. Her unassuming gaze acknowledges the viewer and the interplay between her majesty and fragility, accompanied by a weighty buck, seems all the more apparent. One questions the practicality of how she lifted the prey onto her horse. I enjoy the huntress' shoes as they are a clue to which time period she belongs. 

Claude Deruet (1588 - 1660), Duchess of Chevreuses as Diana the Huntress

 Diana (lt. "heavenly" or "divine") was the goddess of the hunt, being associated with wild animals and woodland, and also of the moon in Roman mythology.

Gaston Casimir Saint-Pierre (1833 - 1916), Diana the Huntress