Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Mid Eastern Abstract Calligraphy

Not so song ago I had a watershed experience when I discovered a trove of Italian artists who were into (abstract) calligraphy, one way or another. It was quite an experience to see all the experimenting and creativity by those nationals. When the word calligraphy is used we usually picture wedding invitations or oriental characters. We forget that this type of activity and creativity is universal.
And so it was quite a treat the other afternoon to accidentally come across a trove of middle eastern calligraphers and view this art from their point of view. Some works are meant to be readable; others, not so much. There's definitely a lot of abstraction going on here; a lot of play with the fluid, gestural movements of the brush. There are undertones of culture and politics and religion going on here which give even more meaning the the art works. I like encountering these works from that standpoint. There's so much more meat for the mind.
The above work is by Mohammad Ehsai, an Iranian born in 1939. The image is from elitechoice.org. What few images you'll find, when you Google him, are all about gestural beauty, but the titles let you know that it's about religion too.

What started this whole adventure was stumbling across Sotheby's Modern & Contemporary Arab & Iranian Art Sale on Oct.24, 2007. You really must check out their site. In order to explore it, you must register. It's free and just takes a moment or two. But it's well worth your while and quite an education in itself. In pursuing those artists from that one particular auction, I ended up far afield and now have quite a bit of material to sort through and digest.

Monday, April 28, 2008

Desert Auctions

On Wednesday, April 30, Christie's Dubai will hold an Art Auction in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. At first glance I thought - What a strange little auction. But then I remembered that with any sizable offering there's more than a small amount of ugly art to wade through to find the good stuff. What struck me was the amount of works that incorporated calligraphy; a lot of which was playful.
The work on your right is by our friend, Charles Hossein Zenderoudi.

The image is from Artnet's Upcoming Auction Results for
Christie's Dubai
International Modern and Contemporary Art
Wednesday, April 30, 2008

We'd expect calligraphy in an Asian Auction. It was a little surprising to see it here; but it shouldn't be, it's very much a part of their culture.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Giampaolo Di Cocco


Came across this man in amongst all the Italians I had discovered a while back. Several of his images are arresting and puzzling. His is quite a strange oeuvre that I'll in no way try to comment on. You can check out the following links and come to your own conclusions.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Minimal & Abstract Photography


Photography is something I dabbled in for a while in my early 20's. Had several cameras, the developing equipment and even took a course or two. Actually, since I had figured out that I wasn't gonna be no Picasso with my painting, it seemed like an easy alternate route to being an artist. But I digress.

Gil Mares is a great photographer who has discovered that the hulls of ships make for beautiful and intriguing subject matter and definitely shows his skill as an artist. Although this particular image gives itself away, you'll be amazed and intrigued by the beauty he presents to us in images that are not so easily recognized. By zooming in he presents us with colorful, bold abstracts that are so simple and yet make us think.

This image is from his page at the Kidder Smith Gallery, where you'll find 14 examples of his work and an Artist's Statement that explains it all.

And you'll especially want to go to his website to see all the wonderful works he has there. Isn't it fantastic how an artist can show us something that's familiar and make it so fresh and compelling ?


Sunday, April 20, 2008

Night At The Auctions

It's Sunday, so that means there's no Art News on the Internet. And art-wise, the blogisphere is pretty much shut down. So howz a person to get an art fix ?
Go to Artnet, choose Auctions from the toolbar; then you can chose Upcoming Auctions or Recent Auction Results.
I usually stick with the big auction houses. Didn't see anything interesting in the Upcoming, so I checked out Sotheby's New York, Contemporary Art Wednesday, April 2, 2008. This is a cool adventure for several reasons. After several years of doing this, I'm just blown away by the realization of all the art that's out there; all the art that's been made. You see many artists that you've never heard of and then when you Google them you come across even more. Then there's the not so famous works by well know artists. So it can really be an art education. And what's very fascinating are the prices being paid. I'd be hard pressed to pay $300 for a painting, so it's interesting to see what people will spend $38,000 for, or even hundreds of thousands or millions. And after a while you see trends and reasons; things start to make a little sense.
The above image is "Untitled" 1991, oil and photograph by Gerhard Richter which sold for $21,250 (includes premium) , from Artnet.com.
I don't know if this is a bit of appropriation on Gerhard's part, but this simple piece really caught my eye and at first seems a bit unusual for Mr Richter. But after some thinking I realized that this fits right in with his oeuvre.

Saturday, April 19, 2008

Contemporary Collage

Collage. What possesses certain artists to want to cut and paste ? And once they do, like all artists, they find a niche; a particular train of thought to pursue.
Trained as a print maker and starting his career by making fragile sculptures,
Lance Letscher has a fascinating oeuvre with lots of depth. Some say he makes his collages like quilts, others point you to telltale signs of printmaking. Either way, you'll find a comprehensive and enlightening article about him here and then a shorter one that comes from a different angle, here. These will give you plenty of insight into his career and technique.

I have a weakness for writing in paintings, so when I spotted some words, I was hooked. That's what draws me in; I want to read what's being said. The orbs of color bring the top work into the realm of painting and the bottom work just has so much atmosphere and lightness to it. The way he does this piece is so unexpected for a collage.

Both images are from the Steven Wolf Fine Arts. They have 16 images of his work in widely varying styles.
Top image - "I Can Jump" collage on Masonite, 15 x 17 in.
Bottom image - "TBS" Collage on Masonite, 2005, 8.75 x 11.75 in.
( you can get an extreme closeup of this work)

Friday, April 18, 2008

Kikuo Saito

If you love Cy Twombly; if you love Larry Poons' later works, you'll love Kikuo Saito. Although there are elements in his paintings that remind you of these greats, Kikuo is definitely his own man.
Born in Tokyo in 1939, he moved to NYCity when he was 27 (1966); studied with Larry Poons and was an assistant to Poons and Kenneth Noland. What a beginning !

There are two distinctive things about Kikuo's work that attract me. In some of his paintings you have a grid - sometimes apparent, sometimes not - with random Roman Letters scattered here and there. For some reason the placement of those letters seem important enough to make me search for words or an answer. They add a very sophisticated and serious look to the paintings. Some of these can be very serious, as in the work titled Copper Wall, or especially the very dark and yet ethereal, Via Luca.
The other characteristic that attracts me is his puttering style of painting. It looks like he's just puttering around applying color here and there as the whim hits him. The bottom painting, "Avocado Road" 1999, Oil on Canvas 39 1/2 x 89 1/2 inches, is a prime example. You have a background that's as solid as it is vacuous, and he just seems to hang passages of painting here and there; just tinkering around and probably even muttering to himself all the while.

The top image is "Orange Dust", 2004. Both images are from Gallery Camino Real, where they have 14 examples of his work that enlarge, twice.

An excellent read is an essay by Karen Wilkin, accompanied by images. (caution - PDF)

You'll also want to check out the 4 images at the Robert Kidd Gallery.

And you absolutely must check out the work on paper they have at Artnet.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Perfectly Perfect

Encaustic has always been such a mystical, magical medium. The atmosphere and depth and nuances that can be achieved are phenomenal. So it's always a pleasure to find someone who does it well and offers something a little different.

Betsy Eby is the artist, here, and as you can see, she takes her work seriously; crafting delightful abstracts that you could stare at for hours.

Both images are from, and you'll really enjoy visiting her WEBSITE. She has studios on both coasts and on islands, no less ! There's great reading, photos of her studios and images of her work.

For those of you who have studied or worked with encaustics, you'll really appreciate her oeuvre and the results she achieves.

Isn't this paining just perfect for this time of year ? Titled, "Honey" Encaustic on Panel, 24 x 48 · 2007

Monday, April 14, 2008

A Number Of Marks


My memory of encountering a work by Elizabeth Enders for the first time, was one of joyous shock. It was early on in my web searches for artists who used calligraphy or mark making in their work, and the discovery was a hoot and holler, happy one. Seriously, this kind of stuff really flips my switch.

Since then, of course, I've come to realize that these kinds of art and artists are not an anomaly. It's truly comforting to come across the kinds of works I enjoy, daily. In fact, anymore, my searches are almost a second hand, casual stroll. There's roughly 17 (sometimes more) art blogs and art news sites I visit daily. Usually there'll be something that catches the attention and I'll pursue it by visiting the gallery and looking at the other artists there or by Googling the name and then going off in other directions that way. And for some reason it always happens later in the evening and before you know it, it's midnight or close to it. But it's a wonderful way to end the day.

Since moving to Elmira/Horseheads, I've been surrounded by wonderful people who do realism. So there's always this struggle to get things to match reality. I much prefer paintings that are a reality unto themselves. For me, it's much more heroic to struggle making something like this than to get your pine tree just right.

The above image, "Untitled" 1998 is from the Clowles Gallery, where you'll find more tantilizing images.You'll want to check out their other artists like Charles Arnoldi and Roberto Juarez.


Disapperaing Flamingos

Had a great 5 day mini vacation in my hometown of Williamsport, PA to celebrate my birthday. As the days went by I realized just how crucial it is for me, personally, to get away now and then. Some people can handle the same routines. I'm one of those who need to get away and see things from a distance; someone who needs change.

If you take Rt 15 south through Williamsport and cross the new Market St Bridge and head thru South Williamsport, there's a very sharp left turn before you come to McDonalds. This house with the group of flamingos in the front yard and a large wooden one by the door (disguising the mailbox), is to your right, on that corner. Having passed it several times, it seemed foolish not to take a pic. So sure enough one afternoon I stopped, put on the flashers and got out and snapped a few. Admittedly these aren't all that creative, so the thought was to go back and try again. The next day I headed in that direction and couldn't believe my eyes. They were all gone. The mind started racing - surely my little visit and photo session had nothing to do with their disappearance. . . . . Maybe they're going to mow the grass . . . . .
At any rate, it was a strange sensation and quite fortuitous to have taken the pics when I did. And really ! How often is it that you spot a flock of 28 Flamingos ?
click pics for larger view

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Dots, Krinkles & Folds

Triple WOW !!!
Three of my favorite artists are in a show at Gugosian Gallery , on W.24th st, NY until April 19. (click on View Work, on the left side of the page)
Yayoi Kusama, Steven Parrino and Anselm Reyle; a very good mix.

Image is from Artnet.

Yayoi Kusama has pursued dots like no one else and it's always a treat to see her work again; especially when it's work you haven't seen before.

Steven Parrino is famous for the drooping minimal canvases. Very bold, thought provoking and beautiful.

Anselm Reyle; bold colors and unusual materials that are always a surprise.

Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Birthdays Back Atcha

Well, I ain't a teenager no more and I certainly don't set the timer on the camera and take a pose. But I am looking forward to celebrating another birthday come 4/10/08. Taking a couple of days off - not sure if it'll be two or three or the whole weekend.

But either way - I'm outta here !!!


ThisRenault 17 is probably the most favorite of all the 12 vehicles I've owned in my life.

1st car - Renault 16
Swerved to miss a car on a rain slick road and ended up spinning around and going down a hill backwards and across 3 lanes to hit the curb at the bottom and break my axel. Got that fixed and enjoyed it muchly. On the way back from one of several trips to Florida it died in SC and I thumbed home and later friends towed it home. The carburetor was busted and it sat in the garage. Came home one day, and with a big smile my mom took me out to the garage and told me to crank it up; she had glued the carburetor back together. It actually worked.

#2 - Triumph Harold
Every time we made a sharp left turn I'd have to grab onto my girlfriend so she wouldn't fly out cause her door didn't latch. That was always good for a laugh.

#3 - VW Sunbug Convertible
The only new car I ever owned. Took a two week vacation and drove it out to California and back. Saw the prairies, Bad Lands, Grand Tetons, Yellowstone, Reno, Las Vegas, San Fran, Redwood forest, swam in the Pacific, Los Angeles, Grand Canyon, St Louis and a bunch of states too numerous to mention.

#4 - Peugeot
When I moved to PA to manager store, also got a mobile home and remodeled it - one night it dawned on me that I had too many bills. So I traded my VW Sunbug in at a used car lot for the Peugeot and some cash. L O V E D it. But then I rolled the thing and totaled it.

Yup ! That's the windshield in the passenger seat.

#5 - Renault 17
I was stylin in this thing. Took a four day weekend and drove up to Niagara Falls, up through Canada and then down through Sou St Marie. But then on the way back from a tennis game with my buddy, one night, we crashed. Wasn't all that bad, but enough to total it. All tree accidents were with the same insurance company. But 3 was enough and they canceled me.
I think that was my favorite. It's a toss up between it, the Sunbug and the Peugeot.

#6 - Ford Fairlane (older)
My first American car. I used this for a while and it got me to Georgia and eventually just died.

#7 - green Dodge Pickup
Pretty cool till my friend and I did a tune up on it, put the plug wires back wrong and bent 6 push rods.

#8 - used VW
Got me around for a while. Kinda fun.

#9 - some big old used car - don't remember the brand. Just remember thinking I could work on it and fix it. NOT

#10 - Toyota Tercel - small tin can

#11 - Honda Accord - very nice, served me well

#12 - Ford Escort, 4 dr hatchback.

All stick shifts but two, only one new car, only 3 American made - ain't it great ?

Monday, April 07, 2008

Up In The Attic

Both romantic and charming, this is the studio of Morten Andersen, 31, in Denmark. Rather fantastic and inspiring, eh ? And you know this is a studio for someone young enough to climb those stairs.
He's got a great Website that's got lots of images of his paintings; great abstracts ! And there's a whole lot more. Check it out.

Click thumbs for larger image.

Sunday, April 06, 2008

Cerebral Collage

If you don't see the face, squint your eyes.
Collage and more collage; we've all seen our share and have our preferences. It's something I've always enjoyed encountering, wondering what prompted the artist to do what he did.
But to me this is just a little different; actually way different. How simple and yet complex can you get ?
John Stezaker has several series in which he explores different ideas. This is from the Mask Series - "XXV". His concepts are just simply outrageous. In this series, you take an old photograph, a portrait and cover the face with a postcard. These are done well and are oh so thought provoking.
The image is from das artes plasticas. Once again - this Blog is just fantastic ! Lots of pictures and at the bottom is French text and the English text.
Here's the Link to the whole blog.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Postmodern British Coins

Speaking of bright shiny, have you seen the new British coins that will be going into circulation soon that were designed by 26 year old Matthew Dent? His designs won the competition, which was open to the British public. These are definitely fresh and new; not your average coins. A wonderfully new artistic take on a very old medium.

This image is from monstersandcritics, where you'll find 3 more images.

I first spotted this new development while reading The Gaurdian Blog - great article.

And you can go to Matthew's own website to see some large images and there's a link to the Royal Mint, which also has a video. It's a little long, but quite informative.

Thursday, April 03, 2008

Stefan Annerel

Here's another artist who's no stranger to bright, shiny color. If you happen to be in Amsterdam in May, you'll want to drop by Galerie Smits and see the two man show titled Duel. It was just last October that Stefen had his own solo show; you can see images from that show when you visit the link. He was kind enough to send me this new image of his work, along with the invite. This looks like several pieces stacked against the wall in the studio. Click for larger view.

There certainly is something to be said for works that are on Plexiglas or sheets of acrylic or that are made using resin. These mediums seem to propel the colors right at you; seem to house an inner glow.

Was having a great visit and conversation with an artist friend, Corky, the other day and was relaying how amazing it was to have a tiny peek at all the art work that's been made down through the years. We see the mountain peaks or crests of the big waves, so to speak, and just don't comprehend the vast sea of art work out there, where artist after artist influences another, like unending ripples. A tremendous amount of people have visited the same ideas and added their own solutions to that vast pool of knowledge. The more you see, the more you come to understand that many hands have stirred the pot.

For a really great shot of work in his atelier, go HERE.

And go HERE, to see great pics of his work. You get nice big enlargements when you click on the thumbs.

Tuesday, April 01, 2008

Neat As A Pin

At first glance it looks as though the artist is either just moving in, or about to move out; until you study the paintings. The paintings are finished. That's right, when it comes to applying paint, Ingo Meller doesn't spend a lot of time trying to cover the canvas. A few competent brush strokes and he's outta there. More about that later.
This post is about the studio; that sanctuary where art is born. The word conjures up different visions for each of us, but here we have a spare and sparse space that completely jibes with the artist's mental attitude towards painting. Kinda makes you wanna mess the place up a bit.
Image is from the Gallery, Slewe.nl as listed on Artnews.org.
When you visit Artnews.org, click on the major international cities listed at the top to see current exhibits from around the world. Also of interest is their lists of international galleries and artists.