Tag Archives: culture

“Floating Culture” and the Thickness of things…

Check out these two last posts on Henri Art Magazine:

In Hyperaesthetics – 19 sixty he describes our culture – POMO (Postmodernism) of an unacceptable lightness:

We are somnambulists and voyeurs, lost in the hallucinatory world of light-speed and lenses. We are no longer grounded. We float in the digital subjective, our voices not quite our own, because we have merged into the great electronic collective. (…) We lack depth and heft. We are light as a feather on the breeze – a world of Forrest Gumps. (…) We signify rather than converse. We develop games rather than create poetics. We program applications rather than create mythologies. Our vision determines nothing in the free floating vacuum of space.

Hm, interesting… It reminds me about Japanese Ukyio-efloating world, floating culture from 19th. century, which Hokusai captured in his great woodcuts. That was the world of hedonism, light-weight and extravagance, ‘unbearably light’ as M. Kundera would say. In Hokusai’s ” Great Wave” a disaster strikes dwarfing the frantic efforts of men in boats, who are about to perish. A big metaphor and vision at the same time?

Then, Jerry Saltz is being quoted as commenting on the “Generational: Younger than Jesus” (what an awkward title, after all) exhibition:These young artists show us that the sublime has moved into us, that we are the sublime; life, not art, has become so real that it’s almost unreal. I would disagree – that “Man is the measure of all things” – that’s nothing new; in fact, it has been said in 5th B.C. (Protagoras) and has been repeated endlessly in different forms from then till now. But, hardly ever before man was less ‘sublime’, if one takes traditional/dictionary meaning of the word as : elevated, noble, lofty, awe-inspiring, majestic and out-of-this-world… Well, one could agree on the last adjective Floating in today’s cyber-space, creating avatars and entire parallel worlds/lives online, living in the complex, globalized, absolutely commercialized spacethe contemporary man is, indeed, out-of-this-world. But, if the world he inhabits belongs to the ‘sublime’ experience is rather a questionable point…

Another post: Rough Trade – Thick is a logical consequence of the first one. We are too light, our art is too light… Solution? We have to become thicker… Actually, I find it fascinating – this author from another continent, another generation expresses, in slightly different terms, what I defined as: painting independent ‘living organisms’,  rather than just another image/representation. We echo each other intuitions, as if this mood and a need of a change was in the air:

It is not the “fresh air…around the painting” that we need to be looking at. We’ve had fresh air around painting for FAR TOO LONG. We need fecund, thick air in the painting itself. We need to be panting, gasping for air, in front of the painting. And it’s here that we get to the thickness of things. It’s like when one holds a thing in one’s hand – it has heft and weight, volume and form. It has temperature and texture, it asserts its existence. These are exactly the same things that happen when we look at things without the critical play, when we look at things straight away and it should happen when we look at art. We should see the Thickness of things and by seeing it, we should feel it…

———————————————————————————————————

Henri – Mark Stone – is an American painter. To see his personal site click here.


Contemporary Art (6) – Jakub Julian Ziolkowski

Untitled , 2007,  oil on canvas,  15.75″ x 12.5″

The Great Battle Under the Table, 2006
Oil on canvas
190 x 165 cm / 74 3/4 x 65 in

ziolk40346

The Garden, 2008
Oil on canvas
105 x 82 cm / 41 3/8 x 32 1/4 in

——————————————————————————————————————–

Jakub Julian Ziolkowski (b. 1980) – Polish painter, lives and works in Krakow, Poland.

Well, there seems to be a considerable, positive ‘buzz’ around this artist on the international art-scene… A Cinderella story, if one considers a newly graduated painter from a (still) ‘provincial’ Eastern Europe (Ziolkowski graduated from “Jan Matejko Academy of Art” in Krakow in 2005) having a successful, acclaimed exhibition in the Hauser and Wirth in London. At the moment, one can find his paintings  among others in the NEW MUSEUM – NY, at the prestigious “The Generational: Younger than Jesus” exhibition – a visionary event aiming at promoting the youngest, promising artists from around the world. And Jerry Saltz writes about them in the ‘New York – Art Magazine’: Jakub Julian Ziolkowski’s paintings aren’t about academic ideas of formalism, happy doodling, or mannered figuration; they’re visionary Bosch-meets-Ensor. (click on the link to read the entire review).

Not too bad at all as for an emerging artist…

Personally, what I find especially compelling about Ziolkowski’s work, is … its perverse realism...

“Realism?!” – I can hear you doubting – Call it sur-, call it magical -, call it dada-, but not just ‘realism’, for Christ’s sake ...

Well, they are realistic paintings – I can guess so, seeing this particular painter as my never-met mate from the same yard. We share our generation, our actual and, in parts – spiritual landscape – being born and brought up in one culture at the same time… Our education belonged to one of the most classical in Europe (in the world?), we had been taught, with the utmost solemnity,  that Greek/Roman mythology, classical philosophy, together with The Bible are totally responsible for how we think and perceive reality and ourselves.

So, reality is anything but a plaything to be messed with, reality is the residence of gods’ and humans’ stories – it exists to be reported, to be told, not to be ignored or subverted for the rebellion’s own sake… We may be tempted, of course, to turn our backs on it, to exorcise it from all the evil, cruelty and confusion so deeply ingrained into its tissue. We are the Polish X-generation from 90s, 00s – born out of oppressed parents (due to the Communists’ rule) into a world that could hardly offer us anything, except a perpetual struggle for survival –  to a country being itself  a huge mess due to a political, economic and cultural transformation… Hundreds of thousands if not millions of us from this very generation, from highly educated to those ‘just’ ‘resourceful’ ones, had left their homes as soon as the borders of Europe had been finally opened… And crossing the borders, alike staying behind on a land being slowly deserted by familiar faces and ideas – that makes one a realist – no matter what – a realist in a deep conflict with reality…

And there are hints of those intimate wars being fought in Ziolkowski’s paintings – battles between a duty to tell the ‘gods and humans’ stories as they are, and the perversion of imagination, troubled by the insecure, heartless world around.  Battles are fought under a table, while a huge spider-web covers after-Van Gogh’s-like wheat-field (Untitled, above) … well,  it didn’t surprise me when I read a reputable Polish author (of the older generation) commenting on Ziolkowski’s ‘dreamy hallucinations’ and his ‘private worlds of phobias’… Traditionalists would never accept Francis Bacon’s concept of the ‘concentrated reality’ –  being conveyed not merely as an illustration but an extract of it – presenting itself so intensely real that… mesmerizingly or shockingly unreal…

———————————————————————————————


Polish Theatre gets the clapping!

I just couldn’t miss this great opportunity to dive in the memories of my family town – Krakow (‘Cracow’ as it is misspelled sometimes).

The annual,  intensely energetic festival of theatrical performances – the “Divine Comedy” hosted by Krakow’s stages has made the arts news in the Irish leading newspaper. In the recent edition of the “Irish Times” Peter Crawley reports from Poland in all the acclaiming terms, tinting the relation with a bit of jealously (‘why something similar cannot be done here, in Ireland?’ – one can read between the verses).

To emulate the success of the cultural event is equally difficult like – I guess, to gamble if a transplant will be accepted by the ‘mother’-body or not. In Krakow, as far as I can remember, there were at least three major national theaters (independent companies) functioning all year long and few minor ones – all employing the set of full-time and excellently prepared professionals – actors, directors, stage design artists and so on. To be a respected theatre personality in Poland has meant to be more than the talented painter, even some of the writers didn’t get the same devotion; some of the poets only (mainly Nobelists and other great-s) would equal or surpass the actors and directors on the Pantheon of the ‘moral’ and ‘existential’ guides. The most famous academies for the future ‘theatre people’ have got the magic aura around them; fine art centers only rarely could have matched them in the sky-high level of the artistry in their principles and the artworks produced.

Above that, Poland’s social, political and cultural life has been always evolving around the drama-comedy sweet-sour swing – it’s been full of a struggle, bloodshed, brain-washing, oddities and bizarre elements, hate and vanity – a bit like in Ireland, yet – in Poland there is ten times more hands to meet the challenge of becoming a professional playwright or a performer. Adding to it the long tradition and the comparatively recent excitement with the ‘showing Europe who we are’ (Poland joined the EU in 2005) – and you got a high-quality international festival, prepared and ‘powered’ mostly by the young generation and – what’s important – getting the claps!

Well done Krakow. Looking forward to hear more good news.

——————————————————————————————————————————–

Read the original article here.


Let it shine… (Whilt 6)

0

02

03

01

04

06

I have to confess – I took my camera with me one Christmas-time evening specifically for this reason – to collect the ‘evidence’ of the tastelessness and prodigality, which flourish in the Irish (and I suppose Polish, French, Spanish… everywhere) towns right from the beginning of November. Why someone would like to keep three Christmas trees under one roof – doesn’t it ridicule the very sense of having it (slightly like celebrate three bonfires in the Roman home)? Why does someone find it attractive and/or desirable to display twenty or so flashing, twinkling, glaring decorations – every one of them kitsch – if even one quarter of these make their point quite clearly (I would say – ‘plainly and blatantly clear’)? Why everyone lets the commercial/consumption machine to devour all the magic and beauty of the season? Why – I’ve been keeping asking finding myself astonished and confused like a newcomer from a far country…

But, after giving the issue a bit of a deepen thought (and what I have learned today) I came to a conclusion that there won’t be probably any straightforward and satisfying answer to these dilemmas. Not only because one is not supposed to discuss the taste of others (De gustibus non est disputandum), but due to the complexity of the whole phenomenon. How a particular culture, country, region and a family responds to the public celebrations/mythologies is deeply rooted in its history and habitual imprint, spiritual/religious background, psychological/mental DNA, economic and even political conditions, as well as the contemporary, today’s challenges and ongoing (that’s why very difficult to analyze) transformations. And even grasping all of these wouldn’t necessary help to decipher why this particular culture/region/house has chosen to celebrate in such a way. One could be completely mislead judging the Roman ancient culture by the Dionysian Festival or the contemporary Spanish nation by their Bull Running pandemonium.

Looking at my photos I have to underline – it was a short walk and no more than a dozen of pics taken – yet, in a strange way, some of them translate an obscene, common or even bizarre scene into a charming image of a welcoming, cheerful or even contemplative environment where – who knows, the true spirit of this time lives on… If a camera is like a ‘dream catcher’ of our thoughts and feelings – I must have found myself unable to expose all the shallow ugliness of the environment, as I was planning to do. Too bad? Well, who knows where the true lies – in my criticism or in these images’ sweet dreaminess?

………………………………………………………………………………………………………..


%d bloggers like this: