LEONIDAS

June 11, 2012
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Leonidas, Novacolor, pencil, gold leaf on Arches 400

Leonidas: Named after the great king of the Spartans elected to defend Greece from the combined armies of Xerxes at Thermopylae in 481BCE.

For you, inhabitants of wide-wayed Sparta,

Either your great and glorious city must be wasted by Persian men,

Or if not that, then the bound of Lacedaemon must mourn a dead king, from Heracles’ line.

The might of bulls or lions will not restrain him with opposing strength; for he has the might of Zeus.

I declare that he will not be restrained until he utterly tears apart one of these

-Oracle of Delphi

Leonidas’ stand with his 4-7000 troops was the inspiration also for possibly the gayest painting ever made.

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Leonidas at Thermopylae, by Jacques-Louis David (1814)

Blade Runner:

I’ve seen things you “people”(my quotes) wouldn’t believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched c-beams glitter in the dark near the Tanhauser Gate. All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. [pause] Time to die.

-Ruger Hauer

 

Rutger Hauer’s gentle evocation of the memories, experiences, and passions that drive the short lives of androids mirrors our own transitory connection to time, memory, understanding and what remains. This is even more so for a LEONIDAS, a sentient non-human,  because his transit will be so brief, what he leaves so ethereal and what he takes with him, to “people”, unbelievable..

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Aldrovandi Dog, Guercino, 1625, Norton Simon Foundation

A dog’s life is brief, his feelings, thoughts, if any, are hidden from us mortals.  According the Upanishads, horses (and possibly dogs) retain their memory of past lives. History for them may be an unbroken ribbon of tests of love and loyalty.

Like the sacrificial horse of the The Brihadaranyaka Upanishad; LEONIDAS allows us to contemplate the trail of experience, memory and loss as the universe contained in the horse (dog) is continuously dismantled and reassembled.

Leonidas is a painting about a dog, not of a dog. It was built on a golden mean (GM) (1.618) grid and using enlarged photographs all the lines were coordinated to major and minor vertexes on the grid. I could have used a raster to vector conversion program and had it printed full size but to align the outlines with the GM Grid would have been inaccurate at best. Doing the conversion by hand enabled the accurate placement of the endpoints of each line and the radius and endpoints of each arc. This enabled the outline to be more fully connected to the structure of the painting. Otherwise it would be merely laid on top of the grid destroying the, figuratively, figure ground relationship. All the lines and shapes in the painting were actual strokes and fills from actual construction of the outline.

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Too Many Cookes

February 17, 2011

nigel cooke bookOk, over at Blum and Poe. You would kind of expect better… Nigel Cooke is really trying to tell us something about the nature of reality. I read the press release (below) I can’t believe he really said those things,,, Beckmann? Really?? Beckmann was original. OK he was escaping from the Teutonic tradition of happy bunnies, idyllic pastorals, heroic portraits, etc. I can’t really identify a tradition that Cooke is working against (Bacon? if so why?). A dark canvas with some figures in a fucking boat, is that what it takes to homage Beckmann?? McCarthy’s Hummells are possibly a more apt homage.

These paintings come off as sort of slack attempts at shock and despair. I would imagine that the pose of despairing funk is purely manufactured to shock his fawning patrons. That leaves these as just another TV version of real painting. Please, zombies??? Really?

Ok Nigel lets just suppose I forget for a second that the world is on a crazy train to hell. Why would you want to harsh my buzz? This is message art. What’s the message?? Were all gonna die horribly? we’re gonna live our lives in misery unless we repent? is this a pep talk from one who knows… Hey thanks for the great eye opener. Didn’t know that the world is CRAP, wouldn’t have known that the world is a dystopian and nihilistic quagmire and that it’s difficult to keep forward motion. Thanks! I’m gonna go back to high school so I can learn that again. Or maybe I’ll hang some of these in my house in case I forget.

He’s showing at Blum and Poe so I presume that sales must be pretty fair. So what’s with the sanctimony?

comedy press release

Soft corn porn

February 2, 2011

Ok so Tad Beck is doing a cover of Thomas Eakins over at Sam Feeman’s. Male nudes standing around or engaged in silly activities. Riffing on soft core porn from the time when people were even more repressed than they are now. It’s a nude, it’s gay, it’s art, it’s gay, it’s a nude, it’s art? We get it, it’s more one joke art. Fucking boring shit. Obviously he means the frames ironically so that makes them anironic, just boring and way too gay.

Is this somehow comforting to have these images in your house? Oh my…shocking! Would these be soothing to some dinner guest, to have a limpet hanging near your bangers while you’re trying to follow the conversation (“we’re soo OK with gay” (easy-they’re harmless and boring))? What the fuck, why not just get some Eakins prints and write on them “please re-evaluate in today’s context.” Oh wait they already have been ad nauseum collegium example.

So if the photos aren’t boring enough for you he throws in a couple of projections. Fuck! A guy log rolling in the nude? Really? Are we back in art school? And it’s in a gallery that you have to walk by so you can’t even escape the boredom of this low concept piece. I guess I should have expected it, I can’t remember (I’ll admit the substance abuse is catching up to me) seeing an artist’s video that wasn’t crappy. Should they bother when they don’t have any ideas?

From the press release: “Beck’s initial interest in Eakins came through accidental similarities between that artist’s Swimming, 1885, to his own Roll (2003), a four channel video installation included in the current exhibition. To realize the low angle Beck unknowingly mimicked Eakins’ actions from over a century before by swimming alongside his models. Please! (Beck may have said to himself) “I guess I’m a genius like Eakins, boo hoo.”

Just in case you aren’t bored enough with this diatribe take a look at the rest of the press release.

We should all support other peoples work because it’s not easy getting stuff shown, or even to have the energy to produce original work. But come on (to paraphrase the poet “if there’s an original thought out there, [he] (Tad Beck) could use one right now”) I want to be jealous.

This isn’t paintings of horses

February 2, 2011

heather-cantrell

Is she wearing grandma undies?

So I go over to John Kinkaid’s gallery because Ezrha said she really liked these photos by Heather Cantrell. What the fuck are John and Whitney (and Ezrha) thinking? This was some of the most boring crap I’ve ever seen. Photos of her bored friends set in front of a crappy backdrop? What the fuck. Is this good because it’s big, because it’s photos of artists, because they’re black and white inkjets, because it’s boring, with nothing in the picture space to get into except a few titties, because she can sell boring portraits of bored people so they can depress their boring friends? Someone please clue me in.

From the press release:

“For Cantrell, the mirror references crystal gazing, communication with the spiritual world, folklore and magic as well as themes found in Oscar Wilde’s “The Picture of Dorian Gray”. Universally, the mirror (or reflection pool) has been conceived as a vehicle for spiritual communication within a broad spectrum of cultures and dates back to ancient Greece. Cantrell is fascinated with the crossroads of this spiritual communication and the more current modes of status, self-identification and promotion of who we are and/or who we wish to be (i.e facebook, twitter and blogging). It is between these elaborate and fast changing ways of seeing and being in our new overwhelming and elaborate world, and the slower, more “hands-on”, personal approach that Cantrell produces her work.”

Really? Is she trying to get a fucking grant with this? Really??