Archive for January, 2009

Art and the Subconscious: Sleight of mind

Posted in ART, ART HISTORY with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 10, 2009 by echostains

 

dali persistence of time

 

Being fascinated with the subconscious and the art associated with it, starting with the Surrealists (see Max Ernst) and earlier post: ‘Altered book page 10 Freefalling Snake in the Grass’ and  ‘Altered art book page 4 A Qustion of Life and Death’   you will see what I mean.  Artist have used many different means to tap the subconscious.  Methods of producing paintings and drawings, writings and other works where the artist supresses conscious control over the movement of the hand, allowing the subconscious mind to take over is called automatism.

gisele-prassinos-reading-her-poems-to-the-surrealists

 

Automatism in its fully developed form is a 20th Century phenomenon.  The Dadaists made use of the basic idea, though they were more interested in chance effects than automatism as such.  For example, Dali after working in a variety of styles influenced by Cubism, Futurism and Metaphysical painting, turned to Surrealsm in 1929 and never looked back.  He transformed automatism into a more positive method which he called ‘Critical Paranoia’, eleaborating on images in his dreams and fantasies and merging them with the natural world.

salvador-dali-metamorphosis-of-narcissus-

salvador-dali-metamorphosis-of-narcissus-

 There are many paths into the subconscious though…….

To be continued

 

 

 

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The Bride keeps her Clothes on after all these years

Posted in ART with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 9, 2009 by echostains

I found this writing I did a few years ago when I was in my Foundation years at Uni.

‘Art and the Subconscious’

“The French writer Andre Breton wrote his first Manifesto in 1924.  Its main objective being to ‘express verbally or by other means the actual functioning of thought – in the absense of any control exercised by reason’.  One of the first artists to be inspired by this and take it as a direction, was Max Ernst.  He had been impressed by Freud’s ‘Leonardo’ essay, where the artist commented on ‘the beauty of spots on the wall’, remarking that ‘if one looks carefully enough, you will make some wonderful discoveries’.  Ernst tried this by placing a piece of paper on his floorboards and rubbing a black pencil over it and thereby producing a ‘frottage’.  He was surprised and amazed by the sudden increase to his visionary faculties and by the contradictory and super imposed images that emerged…………..”

As you can imagine I couldn’t wait to try this out and made loads of these frottages, non of which have survived.  Max Ernst was a favorite artist of mine and one of my favorites paintings that I was actually lucky enough to see in the flesh (Surrealism – Desire Unbound) at the Tate in 2002.  It didn’t disappoint.  This is what I wrote about the painting  (before I knew any of the political implications) : –

ernst The robing of the Bride 1940

 

 

 

“One of my favorite paintings has always been ‘The Robing of the Bride’  (1940) by Max Ernst.  Looking at this painting always produces a sort of primitive response.  This image was on the first poster I ever bought for my first flat.  I never get bored with looking at this image, I find it intriguing, full of symbolism that I don’t fully understand, yet somehow feel familiar with.

This painting echoes something within me that I have nearly forgotten, yet know sense to be still there, though I am unable to quite bring it to the surface.  The effect this painting has on me today  is the same as the first time I saw it.  The secretive Owl like head dress: the small face wedged on top of the breasts: the dark deformed creature crying on the chessboard floor: the texture of the painting (I know now to be ‘Decalcomania’).  I find these images particularly intriguing.  A metamorphosis is going on that sustains my interest on a deeper level each and it happens every time I look at this painting.”

europe_after_rain-1942-decalcomania

europe_after_rain-1942-decalcomania

 One of the interpretations of this painting is the dangers involved in a marriage of the ‘French bride’  to the ‘German Barbarian’.  This is one of the given interpretations.  Ernst was politically conscious, but his oeuvre was the subconscious and the means of reaching it.  So perhaps this political statement was not his sole intention.  I would like to think that Ernst would not be too bothered whether his painting was appreciated as a political statement or whether it be enjoyed on a surreal level.  I am resolved not to resolve the enigma of this painting.

Page 12 Altered art book continued Death wish: Don’t Fear the Reaper..

Posted in ART, MY ALTERED ART BOOK PAGES with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 8, 2009 by echostains

 

page-12-moon
page-12-moon

 

 

 

page 12 continued

‘He hid his own fears and wishes and only took them out in private under the eye of the moon..’

Fear of madness, fear of death, even fear of living in some cases, we all live with  fears and artists are no exception.  Some even exploit their fears: (quite lucratively in Damien’s Hirst’s case). His 1990 installation ‘In a Thousand Years’,  the life cycle of the common house fly; from the maggots hatching, eating, breeding  to being zapped and dispatched by an insect-o-cutor.

Hirst in a thousand years
Hirst in a thousand years

Reducing the dangerous and magnificent shark to a pickled carcass, preserved in formaldehyde, I think speaks volumes about our fears, the fragility of ourselves and the unimportance of  trivia in the greater picture of life.  The whole idea of being ‘hatched and dispatched’ is like coming in at the end of the film.  It is the ‘jam’, the ‘meat’ the ‘it’ in the middle: it is the LIFE that we are concerned with: what happens NOW. The title of the shark was ‘The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living’ (1992) says it all.

Hirst The physical impossibility...
Hirst The physical impossibility…

   Hirst still fears death like most of us.  His 2007 piece  entitled ‘For the Love of God’, consisted of a cast of an 18th century skull encrusted with jewels which sold for £50m ($100m).  Death must be laughing all the way to the bank!

 

hirst skull Diamonds are forever?

hirst skull Diamonds are forever?

Altered art book: page 12 By the light of the Silvery Moon furtively

Posted in ART, MY ALTERED ART BOOK PAGES with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 7, 2009 by echostains

page-11-and-12

 

 

page-11-and-12

My scanner is now out of action.  It was playing up the other day, now it’s completely packed in.  I have  had to take a photo of these pages, with not much success. but anyway …….

Page 12, the words chosen were: –

‘He hid his own fears and wishes and only took them out in private under the eye of the moon.’

A childhood memory flashed up.  I was counting money and the moon was shining though the window.   I saved my pocket money up in an old French coffee bean tin.   It was blue and white striped.  There was something about this tin that was exotic and ooh la la.  I hid the tin away, only taking it out when the moon was full.  I had heard that if you turned your silver over when it was a new moon, your money would increase! 

This is wrapped up in superstition and also fear.  It is the compulsive feeling that if you DON’T do something, something bad will happen.  Being told that Santa won’t come unless you go to sleep…then not being to be able to get to sleep because you are too excited, then panicking!!  

page-12-moon

page-12-moon

Although not very clear, the moon I made is actually silver.  A coffee tin hangs from it, followed by a small silver charm of a handbag. 

Media used: ink, oil pastel, silver card, photocopies, ribbon, charm

 

Brief Encounters trip the light Fandango

Posted in ART HISTORY, LIVING IN THE PAST: NOSTALGIA, WORDS AND COMMUNICATIONS with tags , , , , on January 6, 2009 by echostains

Princess carabu

Princess carabu

Not sure if I’ve got anything interesting to say today (or at any other time really).  But that won’t stop me saying anyway.  I’ve been out.  Can’t you tell?  We met a very interesting character in the pub.  An old man of 75, who had us enthralled with his stories…which proved to be a bit tall, but never mind, it was very entertaining.  How do we know these stories were embroidered?  Because we Googled certain infrmation.  Disappointed, but what an absolute HOOT!  I love people like this!

 

Here’s another one to be going on with……

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Princess_Caraboo

Altered art book page 11 continued: let your fingers do the walking

Posted in ART, MY ALTERED ART BOOK PAGES with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2009 by echostains
page-11-shoes

page-11-shoes

Continuing Page 11 in the Altered book, I tried to find artists that used childhood experiences are a source.  Tracey Emin (b. 1963) springs to mind immediately.  A lot of her art is in the form of the confessional.  From family sayings (her beloved Grandmother in this case) ‘There’s a lot of money in Old chairs’, where an upholstered chair, appliqued with her one of Granny’s favorite sayings bears testiment to the passing of time.

Read about the chair and other works here 

emins chair

emins chair

Emin’s past experiences provide her oeuvre and may be cathartic to the artist, drawing a line or shutting doors on stuff that has happened before: memories and events that she cannot change.  Everyone experiences this at some time in their lives.  Sometimes it is hard to just walk away without resolving situations.  Sometimes situations just can’t be resolved,and you just have to accept this to move on.  There is a saying by Persian poet Omar Khayyam that goes; –

 

 

The moving finger writes and having writ, moves on: nor all your piety not wit shall lure it back to cancel half a line, nor all your tears wash out a word of it.”

 

Polish  artist Miroslaw Balka (b. 1958) also refers to childhood experiences.  His sculptures and installations employ unusual media like soap and salt.  I have seen this sculpture, and found it very moving and humbling.  Perhaps it was the way the shoes were positioned near the stained carpet that produced the poignant effect: a feeling  of being privileged to be looking at something intensely private: the artist’s personal experience.

fire-place-balka-1986

fire-place-balka-1986

 

http://www.artcyclopedia.com/artists/balka_miroslaw.html

A good article about Tracey Emin’s work here; –http://www.sundayherald.com/arts/arts/display.var.2410349.0.0.php

Altered art book: page 11 Walk a life in my shoes

Posted in ART, MY ALTERED ART BOOK PAGES with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 4, 2009 by echostains
page-11-walking through childhood

page-11-walking through childhood

The words I picked out were; –

‘They walked through their childhood’

The idea of walking through childhood is of course associated with memories: nostalgia for what has been.  My immediate thought was childhood toys, until the shoes hit me that is.  How many pairs of shoes do we go through in life I wonder?  What about past lives? all those shoes!  One CANNOT have enough shoes…… or enough lives?

page-11-shoes detail

page-11-shoes detail

I scribbled these hastily on a prepared white background.  The idea of walking in different shoes puts me in mind of Reincarnation, doing unto others as they would do to us, role reversal and of course following in our Forefathers footsteps.  Is there a purpose? is there a pattern? or is life just a repetition of what has gone before? (in our personal sphere)

I have quite a few artists in mind, associated with this page, but they will have to wait until tomorrow.

Media used; ink,wax crayon, watercolour paint, print, mock snakeskin paper