MAAT Lisbon

Today I visited the new Museum of Art, Architecture and Technology that opened just last month in Lisbon. It is housed in a new massive impressive shipformed building as well as  in the old brick building beside it, that used to be the main electricity factory of Lisbon. These two buildings have very different atmospheres and now showed a total of six very different exhibitions to celebrate the opening of this new museum.

 

DOMINIQUE GONZALEZ-FOERSTER 

The huge new building housed only one of the 6 exhibitions- “PYNCHON PARK” by Dominique Gonzalez- Foerster. On display was one single big fenced in area with rubber Pilates balls, that the spectators can move around and play with.

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“Pynchon Park is the first site specific intervention specially conscieved for the Museum of Art Architecture and Technology’s new building. Focusing on the duality of Utopia/ Dystopia artist Dominique Gonzalez Foerster created a fictional environment that with nearly 1000 square meters, occupies MAAT’s oval gallery in it’s entirety.”

“Pynchon Park is proposed as a setting for an alien species to observe human behaviour in the best possible conditions”

“Pynchon Park ” appears as a new piece in which the artist brings together several media- sculpture, sound, light, performance- with classical literary references and dystopian ideas from the realm of science fiction.”

Text from the wall panels surrounding the installation and repeated in the exhibition catalogue.

So I understand that this is an internationally acclaimed artist that has previously done massive installations in Tate Modern, London and elsewhere. And yes, I can maybe get the hint at the duality of some kind of fun park, but then being fenced in as in a refugee camp. But I must confess that this type of conceptual art is something I still don’t understand. I still want something visually appealing or intriguing or in some ways triggering . After all the media hype from the opening- placing Lisbon on the map of ART and CULTURE and making it an international art DESTINATION- well this just felt like a huge disappointment. Hopefully further studies will make me more sensitive and open to this type of conceptual art…

 

RUI CALCADA BASTOS – WALKING DISTANCE

Rui Calcada Bastos photographs and films abandoned objects and through them records his own trajectory through the world.

“The work of RCB compels us to approach the world as a reality that is close to us, but that remains mysterious and unexpected. The territory of otherness and difference is always strange, it is that very strangeness that attracts and repels following rhythms that are impossible to establish, but are determined by the insatiable desire to circumscribe and conquer it. ” (Hm?)

This was the exhibition that I found most interesting today. There were some very simple beautiful huge format photographs of abandoned or disappeared objects, like here the nail in the wall where a rosary has hung so long that it has left a shadow in the paint, or a simple crack in a white wall, or a concrete border.

These photographs were bigger than me, and left a trace of melancholy and wonder.

I also found really interesting this whole wall made up of a city map, that upon closer inspection was a collage of places from several cities, like Lisbon, Berlin, Paris, Stockholm, Riga… There were loudspeakers installed in the map with a continuos sound of walking steps.

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CHARLES AND RAY EAMES

Charles and Ray Eames are among the most famous designers of the 20th Century, and it was beautiful to see an overview of their work here, featuring their input in design of objects, furniture, architecture, graphic design as well as new models for education.

The exhibition was made up mainly of many photographs and short films, and some  furniture and objects. Here are some pieces in bent plywood, a revolutionary idea at the time.

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I was most attracted to a wall with the covers of the magazine Art and Architecture from the years 1942-47. Ray Eames designed a total of 26 covers. I found the collages and juxtaposition of images and scribbles inspiring.

A whole other room was dedicated to the Eames collaboration with the Indian Government to create new models of education and a Design Institute in Ahmedabad, India. A sentence from the Bhagavad Gita , that the Eames resonated with : “you have the right to work, but for the works sake only, you have no rights to the fruits of work. Desire for the fruits of work must never be the motive for working ” Process is everything! A very good reminder for me too – the process is everything 🙂

EDUARDO BATARDA- MISQUOTEROS

Eduardo Batardas exhibition featured 30 paintings with 646 text fragments that represented a selection of T- shirt fronts.

“The artist uses a combination of painting and text that have always coalesced in his work throughout his fifty- year career. The artist uses their combination to hold the viewer’s attention, making it clear that art is time-demanding as it is a permanent challenge to the viewer’s knowledge and information. His complex pantings work as statements against ignorance and stupidity.”

Well after this introduction, it is obviously embarrassing to write that here again was an exhibition I did not get…Neither the visual all, nor the text fragments were in any way really speaking to me.

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I am currently really attracted to text, paintings or drawings with text and the art of scribbling. But this was just not a work that I felt moved by.

THE ELECTRIC WORKS

The last part of the museum features an exhibition about the old electric works that were originally here, with many old machines and interactive devices to teach kids about electricity.

I was already prepared to quicken my pace out of here, as this was not what I would want to spend my precious Saturday on, when I unexpectedly found myself so attracted to the surfaces, shapes and patterns of the old machines , that I ended up staying here the longest and took many many photographs .

Art In Marrakech

My week in Marrakech was focused on meetings and tasks around the COP22, so there was not much time really exploring the Moroccan art scene. I still encountered some art works  in the International Art and Culture Pavillion of the COP22 itself though, that I will share here.

All the works were related to Climate change , as this is the topic of the whole conference, and conveyed a rather gloomy ,scary atmosphere. I liked the layering and use of letters in this abstract landscape  by Moroccan artist Abderrahmanne Ouardane. I have been sketching on newspapers lately, and was attracted to this much more elaborate way of using different layers of text and scraps of newspapers with paint. I really like the beauty of the Arabic script as well, although I don’t understand the language.

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I liked the combination of traditional patterns with a very modern look of this painting by Aicha Aherdane, also from Morocco:

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It is like a swirl of the traditional henna art that has taken a rather spiky threatening metamorphosis.

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I was touched by  this portrait by Oussama Mahassine, Morocco, using various techniques from the Pop art era, lettering, print, the dots, letters standing out from the surface of the canvas. I really like the mood of the painting with the connection between the woman’s expression and the storks nestling on her head.

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This Globe called “Immigration” by Moroccan artist Mohammed Zouzaf  has something very simple and childlike, reminding me of an Easter egg, but it also reminds me of the various different patterns of different African regions and cultures, of arbitrarily drawn lines across the globe and I found it joyful and funny in the midst of many gloomy exhibits,

some of which were just too litteral – like this sculpture “Carbon Foot Print” by Swiss/ Syrian artist Houda Terjuman:

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Or this exploded mannekin in combat boots on a pile of charcoal by El Mehdi Mofid:img_0298

 

There were quite a few artists working in colourful cartoon like versions, with words like “Danger”, “Pollution” etc, like this painting by Soleimane Konate, Ivory Coast:

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Maybe these can be useful rather as illustrations for an unaware public.

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I found this huge colourful painting by Farah Chaoui taking another step to a more personal expression, although she too used words as land and water in French and English as well the map of Africa , like many others.

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This was a weird and rather unpleasing sculpture of blue plastic tubes by Nissrine Seffar, France/Morocco, that definitely produced a reaction in me and both clearly and emotionally tied in to themes like water shortage, draughts, floods and climate change.

The cultural pavilion also featured a string of concerts and performances that were a beautiful break from the far too stiff and corporate other parts of the Conference:

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All over Marrakech, there were public works tying in to the Conference and the theme of Climate Change. Solar panels lined the freshly paved highway and the roofs of the Mosques, there was a new public garden in the centre of town with sculptures made of recycled materials.

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This is “Labyrinth” made of compressed plastic bottles by artist Soukaina Aziz El Idsrissi. I found it rather shapeless and unharmonious, a little like a container port in the middle of town, although I appreciate the message and awareness it can create.

This globe made out of bicycle wheels was a more pleasing optimistic sculpture by Rachid Assiraj:

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And I really had to chuckle at this cascade of aluminium nipples by Mohamed Mourabiti, in a country where every sight of a nipple is carefully hidden under layers of clothing and scarves in any weather:

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Totally unrelated to the conference, I stumbled upon the BcK Gallery currently exhibiting the Malaysian “scribble artist” Vince Low.

Although I didn’t find the subjects creative, as they are for the most part copying famous photographs of famous people, I was very fascinated by the technique.

It is all wildly scribbled in ink with an incredible dynamic and movement . I found it very inspiring and will try sketching with this scribble technique now.

 

Although I didn’t have a chance to see his work live while in Marrakech, I will take a look at the paintings by Moroccan artist Abdelaziz Lkhattaf here, as he is one of the most internationally well known contemporary Moroccan artists, and paints a very contemporary , almost abstract form of landscape.

I can definitely see the shapes and colours of Morocco here, the dust, the sand and the very square shapes of the settlements and at the same time a gentle dreamlike imaginary world.

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These make me think of the cloud paintings by Georgia O Keeffe. For me a reminder to approach the landscape subject with more innocence and spontaneity 🙂

 

 

Francis Bacon. Invisible rooms

This weekend, I visited the exhibition “Francis Bacon. Invisible rooms” in Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany. Francis Bacon is such a well known artist, that his paintings lingered vaguely somewhere in my memory, but it was the first time that I really looked into his work.

The exhibition contained a large number of huge paintings and some smaller drawings .

I find this rather difficult to write, as Francis Bacon is such a respected artist, but I have a really hard time appreciating his art. I find much of it rather repulsive, but then not repulsive enough to really make me feel. There is a dark undertone to all the mutilated views of humans and flesh, despair and fear in the screams, the open mouths of anguish, the faces that drip away in a wash. And somewhere I can see the genius in there. I  do not only appreciate art that is all beauty and fairytales, I want it to make me feel dark feelings too. But there is something in this esthetic that passes me by, I can not appreciate it.

I did find interesting the way Francis Bacon divides the picture plane with squares, or various geometrical forms, cages and the way he thereby places the subject in the room. This is something to experiment with.

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He also paints many works in triptychs, which I really liked and will experiment with as well- remembering to draw in little series.

A picture of the artists studio:

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There were several pictures of the studios through the exhibition, all extremely chaotic. This chaos helped Francis Bacon see parts of reality more clearly.

I enjoyed the small drawings and sketches on various scrap papers or letters or in books and have already started sketching more on random papers- this seems to be a recurring theme right now.

Accompanying the exhibition was a 55 min movie with an interview of the artist, that left me just as untouched. I will be curious to go back to this artist a little later in my studies and check if some new understanding has emerged.

 

Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

Yesterday I had the chance to visit the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart, Germany,  that is currently showing an exhibition of works by Francis Bacon and another one of Impressionism, besides having an impressive permanent collection of modern art works.

PERMANENT COLLECTION

It was absolutely beautiful to be able to see some classical modern artworks in reality again. I was very impressed by the amount of key pieces that were on show in this Museum that had not really been on my “radar” as an interesting collection, but rather happened to be on my path as I had other errands in Stuttgart.

The round tour starts with Abstract Expressionism and the first piece upon entering the collection is a painting by Jackson Pollock. I have just recently watched the documentary about Jackson Pollocks life again, and how great to see an  original artwork again.

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Out of the web nr 7 from 1949. A good reminder to keep scribbling, loosening up and seeing the drawing process itself as the goal 🙂

The same room was dominated by a huge painting by Morris Louis- Beth Mem from 1958.

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Pop Art followed over several rooms, with works by Sigmar Polke, Roy Lichtenstein and Andy Warhol etc.

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This is Zirkus by Sigmar Polke from 1966. I had just been discussing this artist with my friend Ellen who used this technique with dots to recover her paintings that got damaged by bubbly plastic during transport. This gives me the idea of not only drawing on newspaper, but of possibly enlarging newspaper pictures a lot- til these print dots become visible, and then sketch on top.

Andy Warhols Peachhalves from 1962, and Roy Lichtenstein Spray from the same year. Happy commercial colours and the validation of elevating simple consumer goods to art. And here I will just sketch whatever comes my way, accepting every object as a potential subject.

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I really like this “drive by” picture of Gerhard Richter, Cow 13, from 1965. I used this drive past unsharp style a lot during my time as a photographer, and am now musing how to incorporate that in drawing. I also want to remember this piece for when I get to “foreground, middleground and background” exercises.

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I was delighted to find a room dedicated to Alberto Giacometti. It was called “Absolute Distance”, referring to Sartre’s expression that reality is always maintaining an absolute distance that no physical closeness can erase, which Giacomettis sculptures illustrate. The closer you come , the more the busyness of the surface dissolve the reality.

I love these paintings in very muted greys and browns.

The subjects emerge from the background with just a few criss crossed marks. Here is play between surface and line, between finished and unfinished , between dark and light. The subjects are very still, but the mark-making is with so much movement .

Picasso and Cubism

A wole room is dedicated to Picasso- with a huge installation of wooden sculptures , but also some of his very famous paintings from his various painterly phases- the Blue Period, the pink period, and then moving over Cubism towards Surrealism.

I was particularly happy to find some of the paintings of Cubism that I was writing about for the previous chapter of Still Life- what a treat to suddenly stand in front of those paintings!

George Braque Violin 1912/13

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And Picassos Violine Jolie Eva 1912

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And here I am standing in front of Modigliani’s Female Nude reclining on a white pillow, a painting I have seen reproduced countless times.img_9818

Wishing to get past those trees and perspective exercises and move on to the human body 🙂

Another whole room is dedicated to the British artist Bridget Riley , with her geometrical patterns with just slight deviations.

Welcome shaking hands by Bruce Naumann from 1983…..autumn-sept-dec-2016-1-of-2-1

and St John the Baptist by Jeff Koons

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are works that are maybe not directly relevant to what I want to learn or draw right now, but I felt a jolt of pleasure at seeing them here.

This visit was a very rich experience- I am oversaturated by impressions and buzzing with lots and lots of ideas!

 

 

»Augen. Blicke. Impressionen.«

French Impressionists in the Staatsgalerie Stuttgart

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When I hear the term Impressionists, I immediately recall pictures of landscape paintings, so I was delighted to be able to catch an exhibition with this theme now while still studying  landscape for Part 3. I was quite surprised to discover that the exhibition only contained a small part of landscape painting, but also the human figure, persons in their environment and still life.

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Claude Monet, Fileds in spring from 1882- this is the type of painting I was expecting to see here. Impressionists capturing the beauty and mood of the landscape with ever changing light and colours, rather than representing it realistically. The figure remains unknown as a part of the landscape.

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Armand Guillaumin, River landscape near Crozant, 1896- this pastel drawing attracted my attention by the bold way the artist left parts of the paper uncovered.

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As I am still drawing trees for landscape, I took a closer look at this painting from 1872 by Camille Corot and admire the light here. I would have guessed this painting belonged rather to  romantic style than Impressionist.

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Paul Cezanne, the Bath from 1880/82- rather a study of the human body set in a landscape.

I was very happy to discover some paintings by Odilon Redon here- another artist I had just been exploring online for contrast, light and dark, earlier in the course. Here “Fighting Angel” from 1900 and “The origin of thought” from 1885. It is definitely a play of tones that is fascinating.

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Vincent van Goghs lithography “Gardener by an apple tree” from 1883 is another example of a human figure in the landscape. I am looking at the simplified trees and the distinction between foreground and background.

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Finally Paul Gaugins “Where are you going” from 1892, with the vibrant colours and heat of Tahiti. I have visited Paul Gaugin exhibitions several times previously, but I am still attracted to the combination of quiet and peace and vibrancy that his paintings share, as I am attracted to the tropical landscapes that has been my home for over 10 years now. Looking at this painting I feel a certain longing to be working with that landscape for this part of the course 🙂