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1.26.2010

Human body as a contemporary art medium??

Good afternoon contemporary art lovers!
Did you ever read this amazing book entitled: "When I was a work of art" written by Eric-Emmanuel Schmitt? The story is about a desperate man who wants to kill himself and is "saved" by a megalomaniac artist who convinces him  to become one of his works of art. The artist proposes him to buy his body and  soul, to transform it into a work of art with a market value regardless of its beauty. The man accepts the deal involving surgery and lets himself be dehumanized and exposed in front of everybody. The question is: can he totally forget his soul, his mind, hie life as a human being? He tries to get away from the artist with the help of a young woman whom he is in love with to recover his lost conscious. The story takes place in a narcissistic world where one worships the appearance and semblance... in other words, our world. This book is very interesting because the author raises a real question and the story happens to be almost true...

Most of you know what "Body Art" means. But do you know who Tim Steiner is? Tim Steiner,  a 31-years-old swiss young man, had his back tattooed by Wim Delvoye, a Belgium artist, and sold for 150.000 euros in September 2008. The tattoo represents a Madonna with a skull above her head and took 35 hours of work. The deal was made between the artist, De Pury et Luxembourg gallery and Tim and they all shared the profit. The buyer is allowed to expose Tim as a work of art 3 or 4 weeks per year, and also to scalp Tim's skin upon his death in order to keep the work of art...

Gina Pane,  a French performer, staged her body and tested its pain limits. Her first body interventions questioned the personal relationship to nature. She then executed geometrical paintings, sculptures and installations determined by the relationship of the human body to nature. Known in the 70s, the public subsequently took an important part in her work and became the witness of her performances.
Self-injury is a plastic element used for pictorials goals. All that remains of her work are a series of photographs and her forever mutilated body (she cut her arms with thorns roses or razor blades, she climbed a ladder covered with glass cell but bare feet...). But she isn't the artist who has gone furthest in processing body...

Orlan is a famous French artist who lives and works in Paris. She was one of the first artists working on her own body. In 1964, she produced a series of several photographs, "Body Sculptures", on which she presents herself with different masks and costumes.  Then she did a particular performance, "The artist's kiss", during the 1977 FIAC in Paris. Basically anyone can buy an artist's kiss. The concept of the artist as an object had led her to a series of nine surgeries for one of her most famous performances "The Reincarnation of St Orlan" that happened between 1990 and 1993. Surgeries were filmed and broadcasted in institutions throughout the world such in Centre Pompidou in Paris, Sandra Gering gallery in New York... Her goal was to acquire the ideal of beauty as suggested by men who embellished women though art (the chin of Botticelli's Venus, the nose of Jean Gerome's Psychee, the lips of Francois Boucher's Europa...). She chose these characters based on stories these women are associated with rather than because they represented an ideal of beauty...

I personally had a piercing, and a tattoo, and I want a second one but I'll stop here!!
However, feel free to express yourself...

1.24.2010

Tim Burton at the MoMa

Good morning contemporary art lovers!
What an amazing exhibition! I had never realized that Tim Burton's work was so varied. He is a drawer, a movie director, a sculptor, a painter...a genius. This capacity of mastering multiple skills illustrates the thesis of Charlelie Couture, famous french artist who lives and works in NY, whose subject was the polymorphism of the artist. An artist can be a painter, a singer, a movie director... at the same time. This exhibition shows us the evolution of Tim Burton's work over the past three decades and gives us the explanation about how he has reinvented the Hollywood genre filmmaking through more than seven hundred rarely or never before seen drawings, paintings, photographs, moving-images works, puppets, storyboards...

Upon entry we are immersed in the fantasy world of Tim Burton. As I stepped into the exhibition I had to cross this amazing door that happens to be an enormous monster's mouth! Inside the exhibition it's hard to focus on one point and one doesn't know where to look at. Walls are full of drawings, sketches, paintings even movies character's costumes or sculptures. You totally forget where you are, you are no longer in New York you are into Burton mind. Then suddenly you start remembering all Tim Burton's movies that you watched, you think about Pop and Surrealism as some of his works of art remind us those art movements, you want to discover his world...

Tim Burton is a very good illustrator, his drawings are made with an extreme delicacy. Each time it is another story, another fairytale or another fable that is told. The tragic aspect of his drawings is masked by humor and a certain sense of spirituality.
You don't necessarily realize at the first sight that a personage can have pierced eyes or pins in its head. He manages to make attractive a subjects which are supposed to be troubling.

His movie's characters are as incredible as his drawings. They bring us into a different world, even on another planet. Preparatory sketches for such films as "Mars Attacks!", "Batman"or mannequins bearing the likeness of Johnny Deep for "Edward Scissorhands" are also presented here. As a filmmaker, he has an usual personal vision of his feature; he is an uncompromised visionary author. Very often, two different worlds coexist simultaneously in his movies: an unreal aspect and an alternate reality. Furthermore, the exhibition, a projection of each of his movies is scheduled and the Department of Films presents a series of films that have influenced, inspired and intrigued Burton. The series cover five decades and include German Expressionism, Universals monsters, science fiction...

The exhibition lasts until the end of April, you don't excuse not to go and see.
And by the way if you decide to go to Europe in the next few days stop by Brussels in Belgium. The "Palais des Beaux-Art" hosts the most important retrospective of Frida Khalo's works and a part of archival material belonging to Dolores Olmedo will be showed.

1.20.2010

Back in NYC!! What happened in Chelsea??

Good afternoon contemporary art lovers!
After spending more than a month in Europe for the holidays, I am very excited to be back in NYC. The loud sirens, the strong meat smell, the smoky streets...hhmm what else can I say, I am at home!
I must admit however that I was a little bit disappointed by exhibitions presented in Chelsea. Nevertheless, I discovered two very interesting artists. Both host their first solo exhibitions in NYC...

Rather a creator than an accumulator, Martin Denker, 33-year-old German artist, composes and orchestrates his images by appropriating photographic and visual sources reorganized via image-processing/altering applications into a large-scale photographic works, hung on the wall of the Bruce Silverstein gallery. He gets his inspiration from his daily life; everything that is around him can be a stimulus: from web browsing to video games, psychotherapy to art history... At first sight his images are totally psychedelic and Pop inspired, but looking closely his images reveal many details evoking the news, advertising, film-stills, works of art...which create one beside the other a strong and amazing composition.

The second artist, Pascal Grandmaison, is a young emerging Canadian photographer. The Jack Shainman gallery hosts a beautiful exhibition of his work. According to him, this exhibition is an exploration of reality and truth, a reflection on the illusion of real and its creation. His pictures are very intense and created with a very purist style. By representing a "ghost" he alludes to what is hidden and what is invisible. It's difficult to define where the line between reality and fiction is. One of his diptychs shows us a hand holding a rock, another photograph depicts a man falling from the ground... many issues that are a reflection on supernatural, inversion of gravity or dichotomies between reality and fiction.

Needless to say that you must stop by the Tony Shafrazi gallery which hosts an amazing exhibition of Robert Williams, famous american artist. But I am sure you already saw it, it started in October! His works takes us into the world of subjective theory and is representative of an alternative and underground art movement which embraces different kinds of figurative styles, manners and images often rejected by academic art institutions.

Go for a walk it's still sunny! Take advantage before going shutting yourselves up in museums or at Bergdorf...

1.07.2010

Fabien Verschaere, artist

Good afternoon contemporary art lovers!
I am really pleased to introduce to you one of my best friends: a French emerging artist. The first time I discovered his work I fell in love. His works of art are figurative. He shows us a world based on a fantasy land where all the characters are created from legends, fairy tales, as well as his imagination. Monsters, clowns, fairies, ghosts coexist all together amid castles, 'smileys', and some objects from our daily life. On each of his works he represents himself somewhere; whether he portrays himself in a dark or saint-like manner.  The canvas can be disconcerting at a glance. The contrast between life and death, health and disease are depicted in his works. At first sight his work can seem to be very funny and cheerful, but his work is very intense, hard and interesting. You can't take your eyes of it and every interpretations are allowed.
He is a painter but also a sculptor and a designer. He uses Posca and paints most of the time black figures on white background.

Hey Fabien, how are you today? Happy working on your next solo show at Enrico Navarra gallery in February in Paris? Tell us about this new exhibition...


In fact, as usual, it consists to show the last pieces that I produced for the last past months. I looked a lot the Mexican art and everything related to the Baroque art, classic or contemporary. I think American art becomes more and more baroque; American tradition  such as halloween or the imagery which can be found in the streets of New York all inspired me. I think my residency in NY that I had last year has been very helpful because I rediscovered all the things I love and I still want to explore through painting, as comics and popular arts. The exhibition's title is "sweet inspiration" because it reflects my own life and because it combines the excitement that I have thanks to my practices which mix my feelings with a practice codified and decoded. People have the key of what I want to express!

When I was with you at the atelier for the first time, I realized you paint without preparatory sketches and you usually begin in the middle of the canvas. Could you please explain us your process?


There is no any particular process in my work, it is a question of feeling and that is why I am still painting. Sketches are for the security of the artist and I take art as an active performance, a new look on the world each time I paint. At the beginning I directly painted on the wall in the museums which gave me confidence to create big compositions made without any sketches, just me against the wall. Wall became a friend, a mirror on which I tell my mental records which come from my travels and from my personal experiences.

When you were a student, who inspired you and has your style changed?


At the beginning I was inspired by Combas, Basquiat, Haring then I looked a lot Boltanski, Beuys and the american Minimalists. Then I worked on the Viennese actionists. Reflexion on the idea of the subject bring me to my actual work. One day I decided that there had only two different ways to paint:  represent the same subject all my life or try to paint everything the life makes me discover. I chose the second one.

What do you want to tell to the one who would like to make a comparison between you and the artists from the street (art), the graffitists... or even the comics?


I don't think I have a direct relation with street art. The only thing is I work with one acrylic felt pen stroke, directly on the canvas, and I give informations with a poetic way as graffitists do. The only thing I can understand which is issued from the contemporary art is the mix between mass medias, music, television, theater, movies, cartoons and everything which belongs to our world. That is why I want use everything from the street art to the Italian Quatrocento.

You are a painter but also a sculptor, a drawer and a designer. What is your favorite medium, the one with which you are more comfortable and why?


I am interested by all of these mediums, I touch, I try, I create... I have no preference I am like a child who discover every day what "to create" meaning...

Thank you so much Fabien! Good luck for the exhibition...
Guys if you like his work go for it but be patient I belong to those who bought the last paintings!