Saturday, February 26, 2011

45 days: luca's sweater looks better on luca

well, readers, i am actually sitting in my kitchen this morning. last night i spent about 4 hours washing dust-covered utensils, plates, pots, pans and containers, emptying boxes, organizing and COOKING! yes, i made chickpea cutlets, mashed potatoes with mushroom gravy and kale avocado salad. so so nice.

of course i couldn't sleep after about 5 hours of rest, so i came down to read more about managing labor pain. then i decided to see if any of the art shows i did this week got press. turns out r*nfrew posted some truly hideous pictures of me on facebook - lovely!

despite that upon seeing pictures of me raising awareness about eating disorders my first thought was "oh gosh i look really fat...," and the fact that it looks like i was speaking to an audience of one who wasn't even paying attention (there were over 50 people there!), it was nice to see former patients and interns "like" the pictures. one girl i barely remember said she loves me! i do hope it's somewhat obvious that i'm pregnant from the photos... alas.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

49 days: food porn

kitchen should be done by the end of the day, so what is mama zoe doing at 4:30 in the morning? scouring isa chandra moskowitz's food blog for recipes of course! tempeh helper, chickpea cutlets, snobby joe's, mmmm... right now my to do list looks like this:

cranberry orange muffins!

oh dear, i've made myself quite hungry. better get a snack before returning to bed and informing luca that today is not in fact a snow day.

Friday, February 18, 2011

53 days: arkhip kuindzhi

arkhip kuindzhi was a ukrainian painter, born some time around 1842. a member of the wanderers, a russian art movement that rebelled against academic restrictions and concentrated on realism and social change, his moody landscapes were influenced by the work of caspar david friedrich.

i find myself drawn much more to realist than impressionistic landscapes. they come much closer to my own experience of the land, which does not feel transient or feathery. of course i admire many of the great impressionist works, but kuindzhi captures something else that seems deeper to me - something more eternal. the fusion of romanticism and realism is powerfully striking. his dramatic use of color and sense of illumination evokes a profound emotionality, but feels grounded, rooted, embedded. there is a majestic solidity in his landscapes, a tension of presence and absence, a solitude and melancholy. kuindzhi's parents both died when he was 6, and while one can only guess at the impact this had on his life, i don't think it's presumptuous to surmise that the loneliness of his unpeopled images may reflect this early loss. for me there is always loneliness in landscape, perhaps because it outlives everything else. everything that happens in a landscape - a celebration, an intimate moment, a brutal crime, a ritual or routine - these things are transitory, while the landscape remains, impassive. i wonder if the need to capture a landscape comes from that feeling of impermanence and loss - who will remember that which has outlived everything else?

these are my favorite kuindzhi paintings that i found online:

this one is called "after the rain". dig that rich green ground and murky water!

the movement of the clouds, the unbearable clarity of the blues and greens. can't you just smell this scene?

this looks like a million places i have walked and wondered in, remembering and imagining...

Saturday, February 12, 2011

59 days: jenny saville

i've been looking at jenny saville's work in the middle of the night for a week now. she is the real deal. i first saw a couple of her paintings in the infamous sensation exhibit at the brooklyn museum back in 1999. they certainly were memorable, but at the time i was more interested in some of the more, well, sensational, art in the collection - stuff about violence, death, the edges of sexuality. such was my dark little mind at the time. so when my intern mentioned saville as an artist who paints transsexuals, i was delighted to discover this was the same artist that i had encountered over a decade ago. this time around, her work had a new immediacy for me. she did do a painting of a transsexual, but mainly her work is just about flesh, female flesh:

saville says about her fascination with the flesh, "it's all things. ugly, beautiful, repulsive, compelling, anxious, neurotic, dead, alive." she remembers sitting on the floor as a child, looking up at her piano teacher: "from below she had these big, thick thighs, a thick tweed skirt and tights, and i'd spend the whole time looking at the way her thighs never parted and how the flesh would rub against the tights." this is the kind of recollection that makes a lot of sense when you look at her work. the bodies that she paints, though often inscribed with the judgments of a society that fears and rejects their voluminous weight, are rendered with so much love, so much attention, so much wonder and awe. all the subtle gradations of color in different parts of the body, the soft jelly-flesh under the breasts, the interplay of red warmth and blue shadow, the thickness of layers, the frankness of hair and fingers and folds. seen from below, they are immense and powerful. these are bodies that cannot be contained or commodified. saville has noted that many women find their own experience of their bodies reflected in her paintings, and i would agree with that. there is of course the appeal of advertised images of femininity, where bodies are clean, smooth, tight, dry... but in this work the actual experience of female embodiment is brought forth. flesh is not hard and even, or delicate like a flower; it is messy, leaking, smelly, hairy, heavy. it is everything that women are made to feel ashamed of, which of course exposes a profound misogyny - our unentitlement to live in and be at ease in our own bodies. saville is masterful at capturing the abject elegance of her subjects, reveling in their physical heft while framing and positioning them in such a way as to reveal the deep anxiety therein. she says, "i'm not painting disgusting, big women. i'm painting women who've been made to think they're big and disgusting, who imagine their thighs go on forever..."

some of the images go further than others in addressing the way women's bodies are discarded and subjected to violence and degradation:

long live the new flesh! and now it is time for this mama bear to get some more sleep.

Friday, February 4, 2011

67 days: alex gross

lately i've been perusing lots of blogs that feature very pretty interior design and "inspiration" photos. i've especially been taken by la maison boheme and moon to moon. but although i have been enjoying noticing my emotional responses to these types of blogs and the images that populate them - awe, envy, fascination, dreaminess - it's very different than looking at the kind of art that interests me. that got me wondering if decor is art. certainly it is highly creative and at best can be seen as a form of installation art where environments evoke different states of consciousness. however, i ultimately think decor is much more aligned with fashion than art. it is a glamorous spectacle that impresses and stimulates feeling -much like advertising - but i can't think of any picture off the pages of elle decor or architectural digest that has actually made me think. or at least think anything beyond "wow" or "i want that." whereas looking at the work of some of my favorite artists - edvard munch comes to mind - there is much more than just desire that is being stimulated. the art i like reaches deep inside and touches a spiritual hunger to expand, to question, to transgress, to clarify, to fix in time and space a longing, a memory, a fear, an idea, an ache. no matter how lovely floor tiles and window treatments can be, they just don't do those things.

so i've decided to post about some artists that have got my attention right now. i begin with alex gross. he seems an appropriate choice since i am here trying to make distinctions between art and design and he is collapsing any such distinctions into a two-dimensional kingdom of pop surrealism:

i first saw his work on the cover of adbusters a couple months ago. it was this last image of a girl on her cell phone at the beach, wearing a pink floyd t-shirt and holding an ice cream cone. how was he able to capture so much of the cultural landscape of postmodern america in one image? it's staggering! so i started exploring more of his stuff online. it's extremely funny and so full of references that the work seems to exist as a dream space that is saturated with endless signifiers, symbols, logos and icons. combined with archetypal, even mystical imagery and painted flatly with an already-dated palette, it evokes a distinct feeling of unease, dread and alienation. the eyes of his subjects appear glazed over, hypnotized, transfixed, but not looking at anything. they themselves are spectacles, caught in a matrix of manufactured commercial desire and co-opted identity. in addition, the paintings are like composites of other paintings, creating an aesthetic of homage, appropriation and visual recycling - mirroring both the mindscape of consumerism and the language of the unconscious. the experience of looking at them changes depending on the viewers knowledge of their predecessors and informers.

take this one for instance:

does this not echo the imagery in "love song" by joe coleman, another pop surrealist of a more violent, grotesque variety:

and how about the darkly unconscious space of leonor fini's masterwork?

this one is a clear allusion to a christian schad portrait:

ok, it's after 5am now so i must get in a few more hours of sleep before heading out to install my own art show of patient work at psu. more art to come!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

69 days: decor envy

i found a designer i like even more than jonathan adler. i don't like everything she does, but what i do like i am completely bowled over by. this is the work of muriel brandolini:

still in full-on kitchen mode. have made much progress. thanks to my beloved decor blogs i discovered ikat textiles. i'm gonna get these chairs from anthropologie!

i think they will go great with our juparana gold granite table:

and black oceanside tiles:

now i just need to make a final decision about the walls, trim, lights and lewitt painting.