Pola Dwurnik at buch|bund in Berlin
After unveiling her book last year, Pola Dwurnik has had plenty to say about the world of contemporary art. She continues the conversation on September 19th at buch|bund with one of the book’s contributors, Konstanty F. Szydłowski, philosopher, romanist, art critic, translator, curator. More about Girl on Canvas and what Pola has to say about painting here…
Looking out at the New York City skyline from atop the new Whitney Museum I was reflecting on the ambiguous title of the new Whitney’s inaugural art exhibition: “America is Hard to See”. In referencing Robert Frost’s ode to the unintended consequences of discovering America, I thought of my own discovery tour of the Japanese art world. Whitney curators appeal to the difficulty of charting the course of American art, and perhaps of the American identity itself. Art is not only a portal to the identities of the artist, but also an opportunity to escape the limitations of one’s own narrow perspectives and discover new possibilities.
Transcending borders is what expats do for a living, so it was fitting that Project Art Lounge invited members of the expat organization InterNations to visit 3331 Arts Chiyoda Center in Tokyo. In a converted high school building near the manga and electronics mecca of Akihabara, artist Masato Nakamura has created a space to bring together contemporary artists and the local community. Rather than the sleek facade of many new contemporary art spaces, this revitalization of an existing public gathering spot is a unique pairing between old and new traditions of Japan. Like the traditional call and response ritual symbolized in the 3331 name, a single stroke of ingenuity enables artists and galleries to show off their hard work and achievement.
3331 Chiyoda Arts hosts more than 10 contemporary art galleries along side co-working spaces and creative agencies such as the Huffington Post and Softbank’s robotics lab featuring Pepper. Through an artists in residence program, international artists add global perspective to an otherwise very local environment which also plays host to community flee markets and knitting clubs. An interesting gift shop and Japan’s only Lomography Gallery Store can be found in the center’s lobby.
During the InterNations visit, Tama Art University’s AKIBATAMABI21 gallery gave a sneak preview of their new graduate curated show. The Kyoto Design Lab showed of innovations in 3D-Printing and architectural innovation. KIDO Press presented the emotive manga-esque prints of Bangkok artist Wisut Ponnimit, while Bambinart Gallery showed an enigmatic paintings solo show by Shinobu Hanazawa. In Gallery Jin, visitors learned the difference between the words “kawaii” (cute) and “chow” (scary) in an freakishly intriguing installation by Yuriko Sasaoka. The art space Island Medium presented an simple but poignant installation from Akira Fujimoto’s “New Recycle” series, which was also featured along side Yang02’s work at the Art Fair Tokyo. The Able Art Gallery showed a number of interesting works produced by artists with disabilities.
The exhibition that drew the biggest response from the expat visitors, though, was probably the exhibition of #Hogalee at Gallery Out of Place Tokyo. The artist was on hand with gallery director Kazushige Suzuki and assistant Emily, who guided the group of expats on a tour of the center.
In the show “n-th derivatives”, artist Hogalee quotes a work by Cindy Sherman before superscribing himself with photographs of his own version of Cindy Sherman’s Untitled #96 taken at spots around Tokyo like a traveling gnome. By further expanding the idea of derivatives, Hogalee invites visitors to take pictures of his work and post them on social media with the hashtag #hogalee. Hogalee then re-appropriates the images on Hogalee’s instagram account, displaying the resulting posts in the gallery in a manner similar to the Instagram series presented by artist Richard Prince.
After a fascinating tour, the expats of InterNations had plenty to talk about over food and drinks in the center’s 3331 food lab. As exhibitions change almost monthly (including an impressive exhibition of Jasper Johns prints at KIDO Press), 3331 Arts Chiyoda center is definitely worth a return visit. The exhibition schedule can be found on their website: http://www.3331.jp/schedule/en/.
Thank you to everyone who visited the exhibition “Water Abstracts – Photographs by Silvia Sinha” presented by Project Art Lounge in Tokyo. In case you missed it, here’s a look back at the event.
Visitors to the Project Art Lounge exhibition of Water Abstracts – Photographs by Silvia Sinha also got a sneak preview of her new series entitled “Brandmauern” or Firewalls. Like her water photographs, these are images of change and transformation. By capturing the rough and sometimes colorful exteriors of exposed sustaining walls – occasionally outlining a once neighboring building – Sinha not only demonstrates her painterly eye for detail, she also documents the ebb and flow of the city. As Berlin continues to transform and evolve, these urban vistas will also change and many will even disappear. Their lasting image, however, is thoughtfully preserved with Silvia Sinha’s photographs.
Silvia Sinha’s Brandmauern series was featured in the 6th European Month of Photography exhibition at Carpentier Galerie in Berlin. Silvia spoke about her new works at an exhibition in the the offices of Representative Dilek Kolat, legislator in Berlin. They will also be the subject of a museum show at Museum St. Wendel from September 13 – November 1, 2015 in Saarland.
A number of her “Firewalls” photographs can be viewed in the Firewalls album on her Facebook artist page.
Thank you to everyone who visited the “Water Abstracts” exhibition featuring photographs by Berlin artist Silvia Sinha. For another look at the artworks on exhibit, click here. Please contact Project Art Lounge below if you have any questions about Silvia Sinha, are interested in adding Silvia’s work to your collection or simply want to be added to our newsletter.
“Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a voyage of seeing.”
In the exhibition Water Abstracts, Silvia Sinha takes us on her own “voyage of seeing.” In this second exhibition of Silvia Sinha’s works presented by Project Art Lounge, the artist explores not the seaside, but the concrete jungle of Berlin. While Sugimoto contemplates the co-existence of water and air as the source of life, Silvia’s photographs reflect upon the other elements of light and flow – 光と流 – hikari to nagare. In the middle of a big city, she studies how water gives life to the urban landscape by capturing the fleeting contours of the cityscape as they are reflected on the water’s surface.
In thriving metropoles like Berlin and Tokyo, it can be difficult to find the calm places and moments of reflection that are embodied in Sugimoto’s seascapes. Silvia Sinha’s photographs remind us that the flow of life – both tranquil and dynamic – are in front of us every day. Her work is not the result of a snapshot or a chance encounter. Instead, like the work of other artists, her’s is the result of long periods of observation and introspection. In Silvia’s own words, her artwork “arises out of a very contemplative process that requires a high level of attention and a lot of time. Seeing and composing on the spot is from the perspective of the visual arts an important basis of my work.”
In her series Water Abstracts, Silvia Sinha continues to build her portfolio of abstract photographs, which were also presented by Project Art Lounge in the exhibition LIGHT BREAKS in Basel, Switzerland. Like her series about “Firewalls” in Berlin, Water Abstracts symbolizes the ever changing flow of the urban landscape. Her photographs are presented as a canvas that is neither literal nor without meaning. Silvia Sinha: “What I see is a painting on the water’s surface – one of vivid shapes and colors – which gains in abstraction through my deliberate focus, while it’s subject develops an entirely new vitality.”
On the first anniversary of the exhibition LIGHT BREAKS, Project Art Lounge visited Michele Schuff in her studio in Atlanta. In addition to a whirlwind of gallery visits and film showings, we also had plenty of time to talk about Michele’s artistic evolution and her ambitious plans for the future.
When you think about the bustling art centers in the US, you probably think about New York and Los Angeles. What few people realize is that there are a number of other large and mid-sized cities that enjoy top rankings among artists and critics alike. With an energetic community of artists, galleries and collectors, Atlanta is often found at the top of the list. Given it’s moderate cost of living, affordable studio space and proximity to excellent art institutions, it is no secret that emerging artists love Atlanta.
Last year she left her job as Historic Collections Manager at the iconic Fox Theater in Atlanta to commit herself full-time to her artwork. Before leaving the company, Michele was instrumental in getting a 50 thousand dollar grant to help the Fox Theater “go green” with environmentally friendly lighting. Let’s hope her collectors are equally generous.
Thanks to the ingenuity and architectural creativity of her partner Brian, Michele now has a newly renovated studio to call her second home. This is where we sat down to talk about her work.
Michele’s medium of choice is encaustic painting. Her studio is full of bags of wax, pigment and resin that she heats and mixes in a laborious process before applying it to wood and canvas with a hot iron, knives, brushes and molds. Her technique has evolved over the years to the point where some of her paintings are three dimensional sculptures and installations. In her 2007 work “Lux in Tenibris” (Light in Darkness), Michele created a multitude of lanterns out of wax and hung them by piano chord in a darkened room of Atlanta’s Whitespace Gallery adjacent to several celestial paintings in deep blue. As art critic Jerry Cullum wrote in an essay about the show, the “repeated image of lights that are either stars in a night sky or illuminated vessels floating in a richly luminous dark” suggests the presence of an “inner light” which is apparent in much of Michele’s artwork. It was this persistent and fragile warmth that was at the heart of the LIGHT BREAKS exhibition a year ago.
Michele is a dreamer, whose artwork is informed by introspection. Her paintings, with titles like “Lori’s Dream” or “What is Mine”, are as much about a state of mind as they are about the stories that inspired them. During her 2013 show “Measure for Measure” at Georgia College and State University’s Blackbridge Art Gallery, Michele described how “a space outside of time might exist when one is entirely engaged in some kind of creative work- where everything drops away and that one can tap into a completely alive, creative state of consciousness where time becomes irrelevant.”
In her new studio, Michele has plenty of space to explore big ideas, which is good, because she likes large scale works. A couple of large format pieces hang in the Raffles Hotel in Istanbul, Turkey and we agreed that would be a great place for a Project Art Lounge retreat as soon as we can find the time. For now, Michele is busy planning her next steps.
Like other artists, Michele has at times contemplated tossing her art in the trash bin or onto a big bonfire “as a cathartic exercise to liberate myself from the past”. She’s also thinking about venturing into new mediums and smaller formats. In the past, she has created beautiful works on paper and mixed media, including an exciting new project that reveals Michele’s wild and crazy side. Without giving too much away, Michele says she’s “burning for a fresh start”. Burn permit or not, Project Art Lounge is anxious to see what Michele comes up with. If you are interested in learning more about her work, you can visit Michele Schuff’s Artist Page on Facebook or her profile on Project Art Lounge.
Project Art Lounge is about art, not politics, though sometimes these worlds intertwine. Since some of the reaction to my last post “Je ne suis pas Charlie” has been critical, I think it necessary to add some context to that discussion and why I responded the way I did.
My post was motivated by three things: firstly, to stand *with* the artists at Charlie Hebdo in their support for freedom of expression without adopting the self absorbed claim “je suis Charlie”. The internet is full of narcissistic memes that cannot live up to the authenticity of artistic expression demonstrated by the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists. Their courage is greater than mine and we must respect them by trying to understand their true intentions.
Secondly, to suggest that art is a point of departure – the beginning of a dialogue and not the end. In order to continue the conversations that Charlie Hebdo and others have promoted through their artwork, we must be mindful of differing points of view. NOTHING justifies the kind of violence that we saw this week. For something good to come of it, we must seek understanding and not division. Art can sometimes be provocative and divisive – and sometimes outright insulting. This doesn’t just apply to political cartoons depicting Islamic icons. Think about the reaction to Andres Serrano’s “Piss Christ” photos which offended so many Christians. In my view there is a time and a place for each of these discussions and as we take sides on the broader issues, we must try to understand what motivates dissent and do everything to keep the conversation going. It is where the conversation ends that violence begins.
Finally, it is my intention to highlight the valuable contribution of Lucille Clerc to this discussion. Her moving illustration reminds us that creative expression cannot be broken. Unfortunately, her work initially “went viral” under a fake Banksy profile, leading many to believe that her contribution was that of the famous graffiti artist. Does it matter? I think it does. Banksy is also great at highlighting social and political issues in his art, yet (unlike his French counterpart – see note Below) Banksy himself remains an elusive figure. Like Charlie Hebdo, Lucille Clerc has nothing to hide. Hers is an honest and open show of support and deserves to be known under her name. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the internet makes it difficult to know anyone’s true intentions – a fact that has unfortunately encouraged the spread of abusive propaganda.
For all the potential for art to shock and awe, its purpose is more powerful than that. Art can be an incredibly constructive force for change if it encourages a meaningful and sustainable conversation. That seemed a more salient message to me than the over-simplified affirmation “je suis Charlie” which only those closest to Charlie Hebdo can really fully grasp.
N.B. French street artist Blek Le Rat (nicknamed the French Banksy) condemned the attacks on Charlie Hebdo and urged his fellow citizens in France not to react with more hate.