I paint. Therefore I am!

Art stinks!  Today it does, and artists are showing a great deal of pride over a lot of junk they are creating. The public is awestruck by the ones I have in mind, and they are among the heroes of our time. The media is a magician. It makes heroes every day out of immoral, tasteless, even ugly, issues.

One of my favorite artists has bored me!  Except for a few of the most interesting compositions, this artist is doing the same type of painting every time – same colors, same foreground with a variety of places pictured – in the same colors too – same “look” overall.  But she is traveling the world, giving dozens of workshops in different countries supported by the workshop fees and her name, and selling her art consistently. Don’t get me wrong. She’s an excellent artist! But she is doing pretty much the same thing she has been for years. With few, remarkable, exceptions, I feel like I’m looking at the “same painting” every time she posts something new.

Another artist I know is very good, but all her works look the same too. Colors, mood, and nature scenes with no variety in any of them, except for the positions of the trees, rivers that are her subjects “par excellence”.  Hundreds of versions of the “same painting.” Also boring.

Picasso did some interesting work, some great work, and a lot of junk.  But he is famous and his art sells for millions.

The same extraordinary prices are paid for the works  of Warhol and                Anyone who can wield a paintbrush with some skill, can easily reproduce their work!

Just saw each artist’s art at a recent artist group get-together (posted on Facebook), roughly 15 people, and not one single one of the artworks they proudly displayed and oohed and awed over was good! Not one! The work was ridiculous, amateurish, garish, ugly, and/or boring with no talent shown.  These people are just throwing paint on a canvas trying to look different (therefore avant guard and great?) and every one of them has had consistent shows, sold art, and are classified among the best artists in their area.

No artist without a penny to his or her name can get his or her art “out there” to be seen. And if the artist is an unknown, being seen is still like being invisible.

The art buying public is crazy! They will buy plastic whirligigs for their garden and cheap poster reproductions of well-known artists (great and not), and pass up a lovely original work of art for their home, if the venue, the artist, the hype, are not “in the news.”

Connoisseurs of good art are among the most rich and the most poor.  The former are not within my acquaintance or reach. The latter cannot afford my art, even the less expensive works. Hence, I have little trouble gifting an artwork to someone who really cares and will treasure the gift.  I have made a few exceptions: some  artworks, because of size, presentation, or, most importantly, the special time, love and skill that went into them, and still hope to sell them at a fair price.  The result? I have been sitting on a small horde or “good” works that have never moved out of my closet.

I am perplexed.  I am also needful of an income.  Selling some artwork would be a fair return on the time and creativity that produced them.  I am also slowly giving in to the fact that these artworks “will never sell!”  What good are they to anyone in the closet? Shall I donate them to charity? I have done so several times in the past and the donated works have brought in a healthy amount for the charities involved. The natural conclusion, if I could not sell them, is that they are not worth anything. But if they sell for charity at a good price, then they are worth something.  People don’t bid – even for a great cause – on something they don’t want! 

Let’s use some logic:  artists “in the news” – skillful or not – sell. Donated art is in the news, hence it sells.  I am not in the news. I don’t sell.  The charity sells.  Should I become a charity case, I would have it made. Now I laugh.  No, I will be me. I will put my loving message in my art, and as with everything else in life…I will leave it to God.  Who knows, If He made me an artist, time may change everything …. and I will speak again.  

Wherefore “Art” Thou?

When I view artwork in a Gallery or through a social media connection, I usually leave well enough alone and only occasionally comment on something that I like, but when I find an artist that breaks out of the mediocre and creates either masterpieces or junk, I want to say:  “People, wake up!   Get your priorities straight! Don’t you know the difference?”
In the world of art today, anything goes.  I respect that. What I do not appreciate is the number of artists who are gaining recognition on the basis of art that is unpleasant to look at, can be copied by other artists, or shows no artistic talent at all!  When such an artist explains his or her work, the words end up as meaningless as their art.  A case in point … and I quote:
cantwell art ex
“My paintings are the result of a ritualistic process. This process includes a series of combative encounters between the artist, the subject and the canvas; where the mood of the artist, degree of vagueness of the subject, and chance of the materials, can create an infinite number of outcomes. […]   The movements of direction and perspective, in my paintings, act in a distortion of harmonious interactions and playful moments. The work presents a oneness of almost congested thickness, hints of depths, and constant shifting of weight. There is a musical aspect in the way things repeat, move forward, move in reverse, mutating and pushing matter as the flow pleases. The matter is usually suggested towards the natural world in the form of weathering landscapes, atmospheric energies or systems. Some present time and change within a geological melody.”     –Jordan Cantwell’s artist statement
What did he say?
Jordan Cantwell can’t well define his art!  I’m not sure that he can even paint!  He is a Pollock who has advanced to kindergarten, inasmuch as he intends to paint something by himself.  Contrary to traditional rules of landscape painting (not  yet learned in kindergarten), here he paints the sun into his skies, red and furry.  It shines down on vague city structures that seem to be coming and going in various stages of “tipsy.” They hover over flowing pieces of blue emanating from the city like over-crowded freeways, eventually intermingling haphazardly and spreading out into a vast blue “ocean” on which sails a tiny red boat like the home-made one my kids used to play with in the bathtub. In the final observation, the sun is the only part of this work that I find “good.”  Within his [quote] “combative encounters between the subject, the artist and the canvas” the artist appears to have lost the fight.                    —-My critique
Even if you don’t agree, indulge me here. It’s my blog, so I say what I think.  In the world of modernism the process of creating art often seems to be synonymous with “it doesn’t matter.”  Yet, I think “it matters.”  One earns the name “artist”  through exceptional skill and creativity, and by managing and improving on these over time – not by letting the paintbrush go where it will, as if it were doing the thinking and not the artist.
Among contemporary artists today, there are two who have earned my respect because their work epitomizes the word “fine” in fine art:   Lorena Kloosterboer paints trompe l’oeil and realistic art with a skill and aestheticism that few others can equate!
 Lorena K art ex
Artist’s statement:This trompe l’oeil depicts a small niche holding an array of translucent glass bottles & jars.  
The niche symbolizes a safe haven which holds the spirit of divinity. Glass objects, due to their transparency, represent an inner plane. They reflect purity, spiritual perfection & knowledge. The niche & the jars embrace all the essential traits we seek in life.
“Clarity No. 2” Acrylic on Canvas, 15 ¾ x 12 inches
Keiko Tanabe is a master water-colorist who gives new meaning to mastering watercolor.  Her work is magnificent. I wish for all the world that I could render a watercolor painting with as much beauty and sensitivity as she does.  She has the ability to change every day ordinary landscapes, that we rarely “see” as we go about our daily activities,  into works of beauty.  I mean, who ever thought that cars on the freeway or telephone lines dangling askew were art-worthy!  This is one artist who is changing the world through the magic of her paintbrush.
Keiko SCal freeway view


Yoshiko Shimano, artiste en gravure

 Critique d’une Exposition de Yoshiko Shimano, artiste en gravure

La Gallérie Universitaire présentait une exposition d’art par Yoshiko Shimano, artiste en gravure, et moi, artiste débutante dans ce milieu, j’avais hâte de me plonger dans les subtilités de l’art traditionnel japonais de la gravure, dont l’origine et le milieu m’avait longtemps fascinés.

Ma première réaction? « Ah, non ! Encore une exposition  d’art abstrait, sans contenu  digne d’observation ».  Je me prépare  à être déçue.  Mais la visite étant obligatoire  pour mon  cours d’Histoire de l’Art, je  commence à traverser la grande salle pour jeter un premier coup d’œil aux œuvres accrochées sous des lumières de piste.  Je deviens de plus en plus intriguée par le style de Mademoiselle  Shimano, ses dessins, et les subtilités de couleur qui m’attirent peu à peu,  malgré moi. Les douces formes de fleurs et feuilles commencent à surgir des grands tableaux (et ce qui me parait le plus intrigant) avec un air de mystère.  J’ai  l’impression que l’artiste nous a donné  juste assez d’information visuelle pour capturer notre attention, nous laissant découvrir le reste de son message nous-mêmes.

Ce qui me frappe en regardant les tableaux de plus près, ce sont les riches textures créés par le tissage de douces couleurs et l’unique emploi du milieu même. C’est à peine que j’arrive à empêcher mes doigts à parcourir la surface de ces œuvres. Je veux les piquer avec un doigt, les caresser  et découvrir comment l’artiste les a réalisées. Je ne le fais pas. C’est interdit !

Un paysage délicat de feuilles en douces couleurs  sort à première vue de son plus grand œuvre « Wa    Issho » (gravure sur bois / linogravure / sérigraphie). A mesure de la contempler, je vois émerger du fond, de petits bouts de nature  derrière des feuilles et des fleurs à moitié dessinées. D’autres feuilles plus doucement tracées  apparaissent entre quelques traits de couleur placés avec génie : vert pomme, rose, et bleu ciel –pas en contraste, mais en complément  inattendu des bleus gris, verts et roses des feuilles entières centrales.  A mon opinion, c’est une œuvre d’art délicate et sophistiquée, qui me fait penser aux beaux jardins de Japon ou les fleurs jaillissent des quatre coins verdoyants, attendant la découverte. La texture est magnifique !

L’œuvre/titre de l’exposition, « Unity Brings Peace «  (gravure sur bois, calligraphe), représente  le thème principal de l’exposition –  Une étude des fleurs.  Dans cette œuvre il y a des dahlias, mais dans la majorité des autres œuvres ce sont les hortensias qui abondent.  « Unity Brings Peace » me plait moins que les autres œuvres, même qu’elle porte le nom de l’exposition, donc  on dirait que c’est  l’inspiration de l’artiste pour le thème de cette exposition.

'Eternal Home'Il y a une œuvre que m’attire: c’est « Eternal Home »  – a gauche (sérigraphie).  Elle est exquise ! La texture irrésistible de l’ensemble, doux mélange de couleurs, et milieu, sont une inspiration pour cette humble artiste ! Des hortensias émergent de cette œuvre en plusieurs étapes,  quelques-uns  entiers,  d’autres partiels, et d’autres encore à peine perçus, quelques pétales  vaguement tracés, comme si les fleurs sortaient de différents niveaux de l’existence. Encore cet air de mystère : Où existent ces fleurs ?…d’où arrivent-elles ?…ou vont-elles ?  Elles sont éthérées!   Je veux tendre la main et les cueillir, avant qu’elles ne disparaissent, dans le cas qu’elles soient  seulement de passage.

Les deux œuvres portant le même titre,  « Manani Street », ou l’artiste emploi une combinaison de milieux (gravure sur bois / calligraphe / sérigraphie/encre sumi), montre la fusion remarquable de couleurs et textures typique de toutes les œuvres dans l’exposition.   La seule œuvre qui  ne me plait pas du tout, c’est « Three of Us. »  Celle-là m’inquiète. A mon avis, elle ne  représente  pas l’esprit de l’exposition qui, fidèle à son titre, m’a laissé avec un sentiment de paix.  Curieusement, ma dernière impression après avoir apprécié l’art de cet artiste, c’est que la qualité apparemment “non finis” des sujets, m’a  laissé à la fin,  pas avec des questions, mais avec des réponses!  Merci, Yoshiko Shimano-San.  Vous êtes  « Sensei !