Last summer I visited Kapoor in Berlin with my friend and Atlanta based artist Michele Schuff. Conveyor belts and cannons discharging hot red wax projectiles, splattering them on the walls and floors of the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Anish Kapoor’s Symphony for a Beloved Sun. The breathtaking size and scope of Kapoor’s work on display made me ask myself: how in the world can anyone create art on such a scale? As an extremely successful artist with the institutional resources and staff to support him, there really are no limitations to Kapoor’s creativity.
When I asked Michele how she recognizes great art and what appeals to her as an artist, she answered “when it feels authentic.” In a contemporary art world full of successful artists who have turned their ateliers into factories, appropriating the work of other artists and creating amazing art out of everyday objects, it can be hard to differentiate between art and avocation, between the authentic and the deceptive. And what if deception is precisely what the artist intended (see “Exit through the Gift Shop“)…don’t worry, you are not alone in asking: is that art?
Who better to explain the (r)evolution of contemporary art than Japanese artist Morimura Yasumasa, who has been “appropriating” the work of other artists for years and has been appointed artistic director of the 2014 Yokohama Triennale. At Tokyo’s Mori Art Museum annual cocktail party for new members, Morimura gave an honest reflection about the current Andy Warhol exhibition. A teenager at the time of Andy Warhol’s rising popularity, Morimura recalled how obscure Andy Warhol and his pop art was in the mid to late 1960s. In contrast with conventional wisdom that painting is a window to the innermost thoughts and feelings of the artist, Morimura quoted Warhol’s famous saying: “If you want to know all about Andy Warhol, just look at the surface of my paintings and films and me, and there I am. There’s nothing behind it.” In other words, it is what it is – take it or leave it. In fact, Morimura concluded, there is much more behind Warhol’s work than first meets the eye. He sees an homage to the concealed advertising artist (Brillo) and the insightful eye of a discerning art director well attuned to the iconic imagery of his day (Marilyn Monroe). Whether you appreciate Warhol for his aesthetic use of color and form on the surface or for a deeper – and perhaps nostalgic – and concealed context, it is impossible to deny Warhol’s authenticity as an artist. Morimura, whose self-portraits also include projections of himself as Marilyn Monroe, knows as well as anyone what it means to test new waters, while paying tribute to the artistic past.
So the next time you find yourself asking “is that art,” it is worth taking a step back for a moment. In contemporary art – as in life – it often makes sense to reserve judgement and simply “take it all in” before drawing a conclusion, because contrary to conventional wisdom, beauty in art is not only in the eye of the beholder, but foremost in its creator.
In an article for the Huffington Post, author Jeanette Leardi wrote that “Nostalgia is much more than mere reminiscing; it’s a feeling” and she adds a call to action: “If you find yourself recalling a fond memory and wishing you could recapture that moment, give in.”
Czech Artist Kamila Najbrtová has done just that. For Kamila, memories and reflections of the past have a hypnotic effect, which draw you in and create a new reality – a reality which she captures in her paintings. Like in a mirage, the subjects in her painting never seem to exist exactly as they appear. They are more like “tips of thought” or dreamlike memories that change with the moment of their thinking. A selection of Kamila’s works were presented at the Project Art Lounge exhibition LIGHT BREAKS last November.
In a new series of works, Kamila Najbrtová embraces nostalgic images, which are a dominate theme in her work and captivate the viewer. Among the most powerful are the black and white images like the TV test pattern, to which you awakened on the sofa late at night before the days of non-stop entertainment, or the blinding light diffusing from an unidentifiable source. Interpretations are left to your own imagination. Her signature use of painting on transparent fabric and glass create a mesmerizing effect of depth and movement that is both interesting and stunning to look at. These and other new works will be on display at Art Prague from March 11-16th in the Kafka House.
For more information about Kamila’s work, please contact Project Art Lounge.
In their book Teaching As a Subversive Activity, authors Neil Postman and Charles Weingartner challenge the hierarchy of a teacher driven education system in America and invite a democratization of the learning process – a revolutionary idea when the book was published in 1971.
In her book project GIRL ON CANVAS, artist Pola Dwurnik presents her own work in a revolutionary new way. Self described as “Subversive, rascally and girlish,” Pola’s book includes contributions by over 30 art historians, designers, essayists and philosophers. She challenges us to take a fresh look at painting and its reception, “completely uncontrolled by the artist.”
In an art world where trends are frequently culled, curated and controlled by a small elite, Pola Dwurnik invites us – like Postman and Weingartner – to challenge our assumptions and let art (like schools) be what they are – a source of creativity and independence. Pola’s book premiere’s at berlinerpool on January 30, 2014 in Berlin.
The lights went out for LIGHT BREAKS on Sunday night at Project Art Lounge’s first international exhibition. But as Silvia Sinha, Michele Schuff and Kamila Najbrtová return to work in their studios at home, the positive feedback in Basel continues to pour in.
With visitors likening their works to James Turrell and Dan Flavin, these three artists clearly set Atelier Davidseck aglow with their own interpretations of light filled spaces.
In two days, nearly 100 visitors engaged the artists in an intense dialogue, exchanging “tips of thought” and giving evidence that the glow worms evoked in Dylan Thomas’s poem were all about.
As Project Art Lounge sets out to discover new ways to help art enthusiasts discover great art, take a moment to enjoy some impressions from LIGHT BREAKS on the Project Art Lounge youtube channel: http://youtu.be/81OReaw3uuc
To stay in touch with Project Art Lounge, please visit our Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/projectartlounge
As the days get shorter we appreciate all the more how light enlivens us. The name of the exhibition LIGHT BREAKS is inspired in part by the creative power and energy that emanates from light and how it is used in art. In his poem “Light Breaks Where No Sun Shines” Dylan Thomas evokes images of light to symbolize life, passion and self-awareness. “Dawn breaks behind the eyes,” Thomas says, where “tips of thought” reside like “glow-worms in their heads” until, finally, “light breaks on secret lots” and “logic dies.”
Our perceptions of light and the passing of time are inherently connected. Dawn and dusk are like bookends separating the lightness of day from the darkness of night. Michele Schuff – one of the artists featured in the exhibition LIGHT BREAKS – explores notions of time and space in her last exhibition, Measure for Measure: “I imagined 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.”
As seen in the artwork of Michele Schuff, as well as with Silvia Sinha and Kamila Najbrtová, glow-worms are clearly in their heads and “tips of thought” are evidence that their art is still very much alive.
For the full text of “Light breaks where no sun shines,” visit Poets.org.
Project Art Lounge is pleased to announce its first exhibition featuring the works of Kamila Najbrtová, Michele Schuff and Silvia Sinha. –> CLICK HERE FOR A RECAP OF THE EXHIBITION HIGHLIGHTS.
Each of these artists capture light, time and space in a unique and captivating way. Please join us for the opening and vernissage on Saturday, November 16th from 4pm-10pm.
The exhibit continues on Sunday with a VIP Brunch with the artists (invitation only) and open to the public throughout the afternoon.