Friday, May 29, 2009

Surreal Things

How surreal was Surreal Things?
Not surreal enough.

cc&kat, 2nd floor promenade, Art Gallery of Ontario, Jan31,2009.

I've had great hopes for this new summer exhibition at the Art Gallery of Ontario.
When I first heard about the exhibition, I have just finished my Dada/Surrealism art class.
I was super eager and excited by the fact that I can actually see some of the works, in person, that I only got to see in textbooks.

Perhaps my expectations were too great.
I found the exhibition rather, lacking the flavour.

Left: Man Ray, The Gift, 1921
Right: Salvador Dali, Apparition of a Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach, 1938-39

The only exciting things I got to see were Man Ray's The Gift (1921/1970 replica) and Salvador Dali's Apparition of a Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach (1938-39). It was absolutely stunning to see Dali's Apparition of a Face and Fruit Dish on a Beach. Its grandeur captivated me. I stood there for good 10 minutes, trying to absorb what was the most interesting piece in the exhibition.

Salvador Dali, Meditative Rose, 1958

I really hoped to see Dali's Meditative Rose (1958).
It isn't one of Dali's infamous works, but nevertheless, my favourite.
Just like The Kiss, when I first saw this painting, it spoke to me, slowly.....
(When I exited the exhibition and went into the gift shop, they had Meditative Rose jigsaw puzzle. I really wanted to buy it but it was way over priced :-S)

"At the age of six, I wanted to be a cook. At seven, I wanted to be Napoleon. And my ambition has been growing steadily ever since."
-Salvador Dali-

Dali was quite the character.
Surrealism was the perfect suite for the crazy, yet brilliant, minded Dali. There was nothing ordinary about him. Even his wife was scandalous. Gala was a special lady, and that is all I am going to say.

In 1924, when Andre Breton published the manifesto of Surrealism, he explained the primary aim the movement was, "to resolve the previously contradictory conditions of dream and reality into an absolute reality, a super-reality." (from TATE)

Max Ernst, Pieta or Revolution by Night, 1923

During the study, I chose Pieta or Revolution by Night (1923) by Max Ernst as my final term paper. I was rather into Max Ernst, then, than somewhat overrated Dali.
(Normally, I try to avoid writing papers on artists who are too famous. This gives me the challenge of looking for books and articles that are harder to find, and also I can bs and wouldn't be too critical.)
So I hoped to see some of Ernst's paintings too, but no luck. There were three drawings and a sculpture, which I did not recognize at all. Disappointed.

Surrealism is something I probably cannot understand fully. It speaks of the troubled mind, dreams, trans/unconsciousness, schizophrenia, automatism, delusional images.... simply nothing ordinary.

What was going through these artists minds when they painted these?
I truly, really want to know. I guess it can be similar to getting high on drugs (well... didn't they do that back then anyways?). Otherwise, it is almost impossible to create something so bizarre, or they just had absurdly incredible imagination.

"You know the worst thing is freedom. Freedom of any kind is the worst for creativity."
-Salvador Dali-

Surrealism was practically based on Freudian theories. Freud was the father to many Surrealists, including Dali. Freud's study of unconscious and schizophrenia inspired the Surrealists, creating irrational images that left the viewers wonder, "what the hell were they on?"

Left: Rene Magritte, The Tempest, 1931
Right: Yves Tanguy, The Satin Pillow, 1929

I also enjoyed Magritte's The Tempest (1931) and Tanguy's The Satin Pillow (1929). Looking at them, I get lost in their world of dreams and imagination. If I were to paint my dreams, could it look somewhat like these? I think I am too normal to have dream such strange dreams.

Salvador Dali, Shoe Hat, 1937

One interesting theory by Freud was applied to Dali's Shoe Hat (1937).
"A woman's hat may very often be interpreted with certainty as the male genitals." and then he continues in his The Interpretation of Dreams, "In the dreams of men, one often finds the necktie as a symbol for the penis; this is not only because neckties hang down in front of the body, and are characteristic of men, but also the original of the symbol. Persons who make use of this symbol in dreams are very extravagant in the matter of ties, and possess whole collections of them."

Seems, Surrealists were cleverly hiding phallic images into their paintings as it is not too obvious to the viewers but at a closer study, the meaning becomes very sexual. And continuing to read Freud, so it seems most of everything are related to male genitals.
To think what was going through the minds of the Surrealists are one thing, but really, what was Freud thinking when he came up with these theories?

"The problem with the youth of today is that one is no longer part of it."
-Salvador Dali-

Well.... My final verdict is.... B-

I don't want to sound too dissentient about it, and I feel that it would have been tremendously expensive to have all the great masterpieces everyone wants to see on a loan. Also, it was sad to see Samson and Delilah(1609-10) by Rubens return to its original home. I really hope to see some great paintings coming to AGO in the future. Andy Warhol exhibition in 2006 was amazing and I loved it. Now with the new Gehry look, I hope the exhibitions can be as glamorous as the architecture too.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

art is art, is art?

To show our admiration and astonishment,
we applaud at performances, concerts, and movies.

A breathtaking performance won't take more than 10 seconds before standing up and start clapping your hands. Of course, the performers/movies spent 2-4 hrs to amuse the audience. The gratification stays with you probably until you go to bed and dream about it. Some amazing performances are surely to leave some marks and influences, for sure.

look at Heath Ledger clapping, ever so happily :D

On the visual arts side, it's not that simple.
How many occasions have I ever clapped before an art?
Now that I think about it, I don't recall putting my hands together for a wall piece.

Are we simply accustomed to not applaud for non-performing arts?
Are people afraid their alienated actions might raise some eyebrows? be frowned upon?

Perhaps it is not so appropriate to cause loud clapping noise in a gallery,
so from today, I will clap quietly in my head, admiring the beauty that stand before me.

Close Distance, York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront Centre

The thing about arts nowadays is that the grand public is not interested in something different, something unusual, something unique. Is the mass media manipulating our minds into liking only what is familiar? What happen to all the adventures and curiosities?

One thing that I cannot tolerate is thoughtless comments about art.
Saying, "So.. What is this?" is one thing. I can take time to explain it to you, if you'd actually listen.
But... rudely blurting out, "Oh, I could have done that!" is just not acceptable.
First of all, why didn't you? If you claim it is simple enough for you to do, why are you not part of the creative force? huh?

Even though the works exhibited are not mine,during the exhibition, I am the person who is representing the art, so it is difficult not to take it personally when someone attacks with apathetic and disrespectful comments.
When will people ever behave? I don't even dare ask to understand, because for most of the part, I don't understand many things myself.

Close Distance, York Quay Gallery, Harbourfront Centre

But I'd sincerely hope that visitors will take time to read the labels, for it is displayed there for a reason. Since I have participated in making the appropriate labels, I now know how much effort was put in for couple of paragraphs pasted on the wall. It completely satisfies me to see people actually reading the labels. Any feedback is welcome. I've started writing a label designed especially for kids since last September, and it's a project in progress. I am learning to write, interpret, and adjust. I've had great comments which enlivened me.

So, my small hope continues......
If you cannot understand, don't start arguing.
Just try to enjoy it, and take advantage of what is before you.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

meditative juncture

photo by kat 2009-05-14

It was one of my new year's resolutions to start a jigsaw puzzle, finish it, and frame it.
I've been procrastinating, until one day, a random stop-by at midoco..
I found it

Klimt's Kiss
- my favourite, inspiration, mentor... basically everything -
was first on the docket, but out of luck.
I figured..
why not complete a puzzle worth $135mil?

Gustav Klimt - Mrs. Adele Bloch-Bauer I, 1907

In 2006, Ronald Lauder purchased the most valuable painting of the 20th century for $135 million,
from Maria Altmann, the niece of Ferdinand Bloch, Adele's husband.
It is now living at Neue Galerie in New York.
At the time, it was the most expensive painting ever sold.
Now it sits at 3rd place, which I find ridiculous.

Jackson Pollock - No.5, 1948 / Willem de Kooning - Woman III, 1953

Pollock's I have thrown paint all over the canvas and now I call it art was sold at whopping $140mil to apparently David Martinez, a Mexican Financier, though it is not clear if he actually purchased it or not.
De Kooning's deformed woman, oops I mean abstract figure of a woman, was sold at $137.5mil to Steven A. Cohen, an American billionaire hedge fund manager.

David Geffen, the philanthropist record executive and the previous owner of both of the paintings, sold the paintings to raise money to bid for Los Angeles Times, though he was outbidden by Sam Zell who now owns the paper.

Compared to both No.5 and Woman III, Adele seems much more meticulous and sophisticated.
As I encountered the realm of Klimt, it took me only one glance of The Kiss to fall in love.
It is his spontaneity that I admire.

Many, and I mean too many, are saying 'I don't like contemporary art.'
During Klimt's time, this is probably what he had to deal with too.
His work was breaking the traditional allegory and symbolisms, turning them into a disturbing sexual forms.
Yes, his subjects are overtly sexual women, often nude, lecherous, stimulating....
but he cleverly disguised these erotic features by utilizing mythology.

As I have learned working at an art gallery,
art is not for everyone.
It can appeal differently to different people,
but it's only for people who can appreciate art.

"If you cannot please everyone with your deeds and your art, please a few. To please many is bad."
- Friedrich Schiller

Strange, but Klimt does not have a self-portrait.
For he does not believe himself as an interesting subject.
He eulogized women above all.

"Whoever wants to know something about me - as an artist which alone is significant - they should look attentively at my pictures and there seek to recognize what I am and what I want."
- Gustav Klimt

Thinking of Klimt, I intend to finish this puzzle by June 12.
I've given myself a month.
1000pieces? should be able to manage... right?

photo by kat 2009-05-14

The lilac was a present from Carly from her lovely garden.
It filled my room with the scent of spring.
Seeing Carly's lovely garden, made me want one too.
some day...
probably when I am much older tho..
but for now,
puzzle will do..

help me relieve my stress

morning, rain, coffee is all I need

*image borrowed from Hiro's Flickr page ( Thanks! This is actually the perfect image for my first post. I simply love it.

Perhaps I took quite some time before creating a blog account.
Seems all the names that I wanted to use as the url address are taken.
Some active, some seems it's been abandoned for a while.

The names that I intended to use were:
- andthereiwas
- mistyblue
- purpleheart
- coffeeandcheesecake
- blanketofclouds
- dreamingaloud
- cappuccino
- earlyonemorning
- cckat (weird how even this one was already taken)

I tried about 30 or more other names, obscure ones even, all seems to be taken.
So I decided to simply list things I like...
smell of the fresh morning air, the rain, and of course, coffee.
I would have put rice there too, for I love the smell of just cooked rice, but it simply doesn't fit in with the other ones. lol.