Tag Archives: fine art

Contemporary Art (9) Nathalie Djurberg

Nathalie Djurberg (b. 1978 BirthLysekil, Sweden) – young multimedia artist, lives and works in Berlin. She has won the Silver Lion for a Promising Young Artist at this year’s 53rd Venice Biennale. She was awarded for her multimedia installation “Experiment” (above – first photo shows the work still in progress).

Gothic, rich, visceral and provocative work of this girl could not to leave any mark on the viewers’ collective and individual consciousness. I met people who hated it, yet still remained under its dark spell respecting the way this artist had teased their common sense of civilized, dignified beings.

Djurberg’s theater of absurd – devil’s Eden of huge, colorful wax vegetation was seasoned with caves of screens where the true drama of life, lust, violence and death went on over and over again. Sounds were those of some tribal ‘mysteria’ inter-weaved with some primordial  sub-resonance of deep earthy tones which went on creeping into one’s unconscious. Child-like fascination with this chaotic, pre-rational microcosm battled with one’s impulse to treat the entire spectacle as pure fiction, a theater performance with no or little valid reference to the ‘real’ life outside that extravaganza…

Nothing more deceptive… Djurberg’s worldview is hyper-real and indulgent in parts – indeed – yet it’s much more realistic in its portrayal of the human nature and the Nature in itself than many works of so-called ‘Realism’ in art, where polite and dull landscapes or family portraits were given to the public as the ‘truthful’ depiction of life and man…

‘It’s a strange world’ and ‘Owls are not what they seem’… Let’s Breughel’s, Goya’s, the Romantics and the Surrealists’ dreams go on …

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Studying Art (19) – Recent Work

On this Work (Artist’s Statement)

What do we know about the universe and how do we know it? How does nature maintain its order and beauty being a maze of random matter and forces? What is the origin of life and what is its essence?

This work bridges my theoretical interests in science and philosophy with the practical challenge of the visual studies. The paintings have evolved in a long process of a natural selection by obliterating ‘weaker’ expressions in order to form integrated entities.
These ‘survivors’ are endowed with a definite, yet fragile presence of organic creatures.

Structured complexity and ordered randomness of nature becomes an epitome of the creative process. Art is asked to take a part in the universal quest to address the questions, which everything starts with…

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Creature (Ego), oil/mixed media on board

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Creature (Ego),  details

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Creature (Albus), oil/mixed media on canvas

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Creature (Albus), details

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Creature (Silva phallum), acrylic/oil/mixed media on paper

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Creature (Digitus), acrylic/oil/mixed media on paper

More images: My Work – May 2009

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This work is a challenge in itself – challenge to be accepted just as it enfolds for its own ‘maker’… The paintings are, at the same time, a sort of a pleasant surprise and a disappointment for me (don’t ask how is it possible, don’t know). They are like shadows of those images, that I didn’t manage to extract from my mind, my imagination and my experience in order to ‘write them down’ on the canvas. Yet, they also have an expanding quality – as a concept/intent they may possess just enough energy and potential to act against the contracting forces, to survive and – time will tell – to develop in the future…

I like their frail and complex tissue of appearance, I dislike their  elaborateness, which I’m tempted to name as ‘redundant’… I cannot help thinking that nature would make ten perfectly functioning organisms out of one of mine, nature doesn’t know what the indulgent expression is… Do I make things more complicated that they actually are… or – perhaps – it’s a valid approach, when one has the very first date with those puzzling scientific and philosophical questions from above?…


“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…

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


Multiverse (M) Theory and a tower of tortoises…

Featured above is the first of five parts of the BBC documentary: “Parallel Universes”. So-called ‘M’ (Multiverse) Theory in physics has been circulating in the air for some time now. Being still a big gamble and a hypothesis per se – one can be actually surprised that is being served by the BBC as a sort of a new ‘Decalogue’ to believe in…

To state my point of view – I’m quite impressed (who wouldn’t be…) – the sheer visionary power, actual and theoretical potential and imaginative flair of this new-born piece of science is simply entrancing. Einstein’s biggest dream of constructing the Theory of Everything – at once beautiful and working, seems to live on and evolve in interesting, unforeseen directions.

At the same time I have in mind the funniest first few sentences of a great scientific book, I’ve ever read. Stephen Hawking in his “A Brief History of Time” starts his explanations from an anecdote:

After Bernard Russell finished his proud lecture on the spherical nature of the Universe, he had to face a point of view of a little old lady, who said: This is all rubbish. The world is really a flat plate supported on a back of a giant tortoise. Russell asked with a superior smile: But what is the tortoise standing on? And the little old lady replied: You are very clever, young man… But it’s the turtles all the way down!

And Hawking challenges us further in his uniquely reachable, crystal-like prose (actually, it’s so casually understated, that I remember double checking, if my book was an original “Hawking” and not the simplified version):

Most people would find the picture of our universe as an infinite tower of tortoises rather ridiculous, but why do we think we know better? What do we know about the universe, and how do we know it? (…) Some of the recent, breakthrough answers may seem as obvious as the earth orbiting the sun – or perhaps as ridiculous as a tower of tortoises…Only time (whenever it may be) will tell.

Is the enchanting ‘M’ Theory that tower of tortoises, or is it the Holy-Grail of science finally found? I can’t assess it scientifically, but from an artistic point of view this concept of physics alone dwarfs a big chunk of the conceptual and postmodern ‘philosophy’ as formed and portrayed by artists – actually, it makes it appear as intellectually ‘lazy’ or simply pretentious, lacking in the visionary impact and, recently, quite impotent to generate any sustainable, innovative ideas… A. Einstein defending fiercely his freedom of imagination, which is ‘more important than knowledge’ (as he stated), S. Hawking or Michio Kaku – the devil’s advocate of ‘M’ Theory – they all present themselves as being much more, in much profound way… artists than many professionals within the fine art field I can think about…

Around 4.26 minute of the video presented  Michio Kaku beautifully dances on ice  talking about his childhood dream to take part in Einstein’s quest to link and explain everything in the universe… what an evocative metaphor of both – an artist and scientist condition…  Being a visionary and a dreamer, yet a risk-taker and a skillful performer at the same time… Sliding on the thin ice, exposed and vulnerable, yet – pushing the laws of physics in order to find even greater sense, balance and beauty…

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The remaining parts of the documentary:  (2) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atiLNT… , (3) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4UVYq… , (4) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=73hkF1… , (5) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jW3OJO…

Thank you “kellyneill” from Youtube for making this available to all of us.



Chaos Theory, Fractals and the complexity of existence…

I’ve promised you few notes on “Fractal Ontology”. Well, here they go…

The term bridges philosophical notion of ‘ontology’ -(Greek meaning: ‘theory/science of being’) with the phenomenon of ‘fractals’ taken from the natural sciences and maths. Going deeper – ‘fractals’ originate from the Chaos Theory, and this is where one probably should start all the explanations.

Chaos Theory is a dark horse of contemporary science. Two hundred years ago  it would be unthinkable – Newtonian perfectly organized world-view, with its deliciously logical mechanics, was too strong to allow any serious benefit of a doubt.  A hundred years ago Einstein’s genius abolished the rule of determinism, reductionism and objective knowledge in science – his contribution was so revolutionary and complex that it hasn’t been fully digested yet; practically, one can easy predict, that our 21st century would be a completely different fairy-tale if it wasn’t for that one man and his theories…

The ‘scandal’ of Chaos in science had started to develop in maths (with regular experiments being conducted in 1920s onwards), then had been followed by physics, chemistry and biology  – where scientists observed irregularities, even randomness in the dynamics of systems considered as ‘ordered’ by the traditional views. From various chemical reactions in micro and macro-cosmos to weather and climate – universe has started to display itself as – in fact – infinite chaos, rather than the absolute order, as humankind was keen to believe for ages.

In natural world, there have always existed structures and phenomena, which proved to be impossible to describe by traditional Euclidean geometry or Newtonian dynamics… Mountains ranges, clouds, coastlines, crystals, lightning, blood vessels –  boundless, captivatingly beautiful, unpredictable in its evolution though fairly self-similar, they generate themselves forever expanding accordingly to the rules, which cannot be completely captured or explained, simply because they’re no definite rules… Epitomes of Life per se – the face of Nature in its most primordial, creative and self-sustaining structure… These are FRACTALS – children of the organized chaos of the Universe. Yet “chaos” here doesn’t simply mean ‘anarchy’ but ‘a higher order’ – out of confusion and complexity life emerges as a functioning organism, it may be unpredictable and extremely sensitive to any stimulants – yet – it displays that innate tendency to form into patterns and structures – it fosters and commands order despite of all forces that act against it.

Fragmented, ‘broken’, complex, inexhaustible – this is the ‘fractal’ theory of existence (transplanting scientific concepts on the philosophical field). One of those very few examples where the nature of the human thought and the nature of the physical world interweave so closely and creatively.

Focusing on the creativity- ‘fractal’ world-view belongs to the oldest, most pre-thought, deeply spiritual as the example from the ancient “Book of Kells” (above) shows. There are many symbols and primitive art images created by ancient civilizations, which show their intuitive reading of nature as fragmented, ‘fractured’.

Picasso’s portrait of A. Vollard (above), just like many cubists works from its analytical period picture the fractal vision of reality – looks like art preceded science in its practical applications of the Chaos and Fractal Theory (though calling it with different names)… In many abstract and abstract expressionist works, from P. Klee and J. Pollock to postmodern works (look above -work from the “Fractal Gallery”), often digitally generated one can easily noticed how that chaotic, ‘broken’, non-linear (as opposed to ‘classical’ ordered) representation of reality prevails presenting itself with innovative spirit, confidence and haunting beauty.

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Note: Due to the immense complexity of the issues presented and the brief nature of blogging, one cannot consider this article as ‘informative’ in a scientific sense (due to simplifications and the fragmented outlook). Its intent is mainly that of promoting science and its theories. Care will be taken in my further research to develop this, here introduced, art-science affinity concept. Extended information on fractals can be found online – here are some of the links: FractalOntologyWikipedia, Chaos Intro, EnchantedMind and many more…


“Fractal Ontology” – Blog on WordPress

Here is the new fantastic blog I’ve just discovered – FRACTAL ONTOLOGY. ‘Powered’ by a formidable erudition and the searching spirit by two young guys: Joseph Weissman and Taylor Adkins.

These two gentlemen – graduates of philosophy, have an ambition to.. and here, if I may dare to give the voice to them:

So, basically, our idea is this: it is possible to plot a complex path, tracing connections through both clinical and critical theory, towards a new kind of science — a de-centered, non-hierarchical science, capable of grasping and bridging the ruptures between cybernetics, language and society.

What we’ve been doing: mapping out connections between psychoanalysis and philosophy to other fields and disciplines, including theoretical biology, cultural studies and artificial intelligence. We also provide notes, outlines, translations and textual analyses of important contemporary theoretical questions, works and writers.

Above that, they use images – photographs, fine art paintings or digital art – in a way, that actually made me think about impossible – that pure art is made purely to… serve other reasons than its own sake – that it exists to illustrate and enhance ideas that science and philosophy convey in words, graphics and numbers; and vice versa – pure art can and should be made to inspire scientific breakthrough-s.

What a boring, small-minded talk after all – to preach self-importance and superiority of lets say – painting or sculpture – in a clear isolation from what may be regarded as its actual ‘womb’ – I mean all the dynamics of a particular TIME, a moment in the TIME – with all the theories (all major and affluent from the fields of philosophy, science, psychology etc), as well as the cultural and political movements influencing an artist with his/her consent or without it…

And what is that ‘fractal ontology’ after all, and how it may be interesting for visual artists? Well, those of you who may miss the points made by Weissman and Adkins or may find them too cryptic, I will try to explain in my next posts (without any promise though)…


Studying art (16) -Humility

It will sound like a pure didacticism, yet – this appears to be the new discovery of mine: art is one of the best teachers of humility one can find.

I’ve been going through stages of naive, dreamy escapism, of unconditional passion, of playing tricks and games; I’ve used artistic means to express how much I care about and adore human world and how deeply negative, even nihilistic  about it I may become… I’ve got mesmerizing and intimate moments of a discovery, metamorphosis and truly painful bits of going astray…

And I’ve experienced months passing like weeks and those weeks making me older like one would got in years; childlike and often purely vain self-importance has been interweaving with the periods of self-abuse and self-denial…I made great plans and watched them going to pieces in one small push of fate; I hoped and got disappointed; I gave hope and let others down… My entire worldview and personal identity has been challenged dozens of times and I’ve never felt so powerful and so meaningless in my whole life…

And that’s all because of one decision made over three years ago – to study/make art – decision being continuously and not without a struggle refreshed almost each day…

Yes, art can be and is a severe yet quite compelling mentor and a guide – it knows no masters, truths, rules or logic beyond its own ones; it crowns with immortality and it devours without a blink of an eye.

This period of my study – final months of going towards the first degree in fine art is the time of humility and humiliation – I’m being put down by my own work, simply because it reads me perfectly – that neither my head or my heart are in charge as they should have been… So I’m producing substitutes, broken cups – useless right from the beginning, still-born paintings which I desperately try to revive and the ‘display’ work – to convince myself (yet not my tutors) that I’m in a good shape… I’m not prepared for a defeat yet, I’m not prepared to paint bad paintings, to be rejected and to admit my impotency, the limits of my imagination and mental capability; I’m unable to accept any help and to give much more than is expected of me…

And that’s why I’m not ready to be an artist yet… I may become a graduate in art, I will not become a painter… Unless I will find a way to cease to be – me myself – the biggest obstacle and enemy of my own work.


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