©2018 by Michael Rowland. 
 

The Stories We Tell Ourselves

April 20, 2017

 

 

Why do I have to read about art to understand art?

 

I spoke to a good number of artists in their studios this last two weeks and the main thing I have found is that a little more goes a long way. It doesn't take much to add perspective to a previously difficult piece of art.

We engage in art in a 'What does it say about me and my situation' kind of way. As soon as we meet the author of the work however we are forced to accept the otherness of it.

Suddenly there can be a warmth and sincerity to that which at first seemed cold or aggressive and vice versa.

Occasionally you instinctively hit the nail on the head. But not very often. The enigma is key to 'art'.

 

Myself, I am embracing allegory in my latest daubings. The literary element to my paintings is still very important in that I always feel they have a story to tell as oppose to a message to relay.

The 'enigmatic' element in a work of art is not something you can plan. It is the very thing you hope will be there when you drink your final cup of tea in front of the fecker.

Until then we tell ourselves stories of the values to be found in the functional patience of a restless dreamer.

 

 

 

JAMMING

Dox – Centre for Contemporary Art

17.3. – 1.5.2017

 

This was one of my absolute favourites this fortnight. So so pleasing to see this collection of paintings made by The Jamming Project. There is a video on site of the artists at work in this totally free environment unfettered by any  competitiveness.

The paintings sing this freedom.  

This is a collaboration of people with intellectual disabilities, artists from the Aventura Workshop and students of the Academy of Fine Arts. The paintings were created jointly over the last two years of the project’s existence.

I wrote last time about the possibility that I would better be able to understand Vaclav Ciglar's glass art if I had studied glass art.  I don't believe that is necessarily true. I don't think it is true because anybody can stand in front of anything and like it or not. Therein lies ones initial understanding. To say that studying abstract expressionism would help one understand the Jamming exhibition would be false. This is heart on canvas stuff. An undeniably positive explosion of discovery and enjoyment. Enjoyment in the brush strokes, splatters, personal images and icons. Incredible stuff.

 

„If the people painting are not 'artists' per se, what makes it any more valid or worthy of a gallery space than a child's doodles?“ NOTHING! That is the beauty of art - for me.

 

Price tags are a matter of commercial choice.

What gets curated by whom is a matter of commercial choice.

What gets created is the sole choice of the artist and is as valid as it will ever be in its realisation.

Jamming is a collection of joyous paintings realised, and I am delighted The Jamming Project and their guests organise this action.

 

 

WE ARE OPEN

Pragovka & Obejvak studios - Kolbenova

April 8th

Hosted by Kolben Open this was the fourth open studios event in Prague.

 

First and foremost Is the Obejvak studio.

 

Kate Behulova, Andy Allen, Erica Hoelper, and Jo Blin.

 

I was warmly welcomed with a cup of coffee and a nice sit down. I think I was their first visitor on this We Are Open open studio day.

The space is just magic. New York loft apartment warehouse wide window walled fabness.

Kate made sketches while we chatted. Her ink works are wonderful, loose explorations of instinct and passion. She really does 'take a line for a walk' : a walk along an astrological tightrope traversing the darker parts of her/our star spangled inner universe.

She prefers to work in the studio overnight. The eerie, unlit, empty, semi derelict warehouse suits her best, she says.

 

Jo works on performance pieces and though she doesn't really need more than a comfy chair to conjure her concepts she displayed her photos and red carpet on which she does her performance pieces in the studio. Her work made me laugh and think, without feeling like there was anything bitter or forced in the irreverent, written comments she surrounds herself with when out in the streets. Comments which engage the viewer bluntly and directly in the fashion of an 'en plein air' Twitter attack.

This is deep fun performed by a driven artist dedicated to touching on that most sought after grail - the attainment of beauty through truth.

 

Erika is a seriously playful sculptor/media artist with a sticky bonbon soul. She pours childhood curiosity into an adult's existential vacuum and squidges out the artistic, metaphorical equivalent of Samual Becket frosting a funeral cake. Love it.

 

And Andy I have spoken about before but I will add that after only 2 hours sleep on a studio sofa and with a hangover to beat the band he managed to act the consummate host. Well done that man. His current work in progress promises to be one of his best as well as one of his largest. Thanks guys.

 

 

Pragovka

 

Then there's Pragovka. An amazing opportunity to see dozens of artists in their natural habitat. Although I imagine it is rare to find them all there at the same time except for on occasions like this.

This is the thrill of art college pickled and preserved in turps and glue and canvas and angst and joy and an infinity of possibilities.

And they opened a temporary bar. Yay.

I was excited to meet David Pesat (see last blog) and Katerina Adamova two very welcoming and talented artists of two very different styles and techniques.

 

Katerina works in delicate pencil crayons.

"Sometimes I use my son's pencils. Sometimes he takes mine and I can't find anything."

Katerina for some reason stood out for me as the 'professional' artist of the Pragovka crowd. I mean she just has this aura, as do her drawings, of being the real deal.

Her pictures are hard hitting gossama, or cuddly bulldozers. They are tricky and they snicker and they are primarily pleasing.

These are drawings you can get on many levels. Although the accurately-drawn scenes are popular with many viewers, there is clearly a lot more to these pictures than meets the eye.

Katerina mentioned that she had been quite ill for a time and that this period of her life informed much of what she does now.

There is a distinct joy for life leaping from these pictures as well as a profound feeling for the absurd.

Her use of empty spaces and untouched paper creates a Zen like atmosphere in her unique world of transmogriphying humans.

Like Cindy Sherman she acts as model for her own art and hereby manages to show off her acting skills as well as her modelling and drawing skills.

 

Don't miss the next Kolben Open in the Pragovka (Obejvak) Art District. This is most definitely one of the best place on Planet Prague.

 

 

EBERHARD HAVEKOST

Rudolfinum – Vernisaz 6th April

6.4.2017 – 2.7.2017

 

„The Big question the artist is posing in this exhibition is 'Why all the different styles?'“

On a simplistic level I was delighted to see such varying images and styles displayed and procured from ten years of work only. My own 10 year journey has been equally vacillating.

Speaking for myself, my aim has always been the same, whether I have painted pop art, abstract expressionistic paintings, impressionistic, large, small, sculptures or even written songs.

This is one of the reasons I love conceptual art so much. Conceptual artists are not tied down to their viewers expectations.

Rather than confusion, I see here a painter at work and play. The questions the curator asks are probably not the same questions Havekost asks himself in his studio….

 

How best to tackle this mood and this subject with these materials today?

 

Not…

 

What is the sense in painting a pure abstract today when I just completed a hyper realistic painting yesterday?

 

The paintings themselves as stand alone pieces and outside of this curatorial act of mild controversy were to me underwhelming. A few of the photo realistic paintings are curious but mainly because they reminded me of Luc Tuymen‘s or Gerhard Richter’s photographic paintings.

The expressionist images work well all lined up in a thin decorative line in that massive central hall space but don't affect the senses individually as well as they might.

Again, this may be a case of work which works with other work.

 

The large scale post impressionistic painting of a dinosaur and one of cavemen are interesting anomalies even in this already busy mix of genres but don't lift the exhibiion above 'yeah interesting how he mixed the styles'.

 

                                     -------------------

 

 

It is not unusual for artists to know each other. It's the hanging out which makes a scene and can often help spark mutual inspiration.

Gertrude stein's book Alice B Toklas  is a perfect example of exactly this.

Woody Allen once said that the secret to success is to 'Show up.'

Kris Kristofferson also said something similar on becoming a popular singer songwriter – „Stay out. Never sleep. Be the last one at the party.“

 

As much as I enjoy hanging out, I still feel more comfortable within the confines of my own private studio; a safe and comfortable distance away from the temptations of nearby, interesting art colleagues to drink daytime wine with.

None of us can avoid having to 'Show up' since the nature of our work is to show it off. I can't help but feel though that the best thing about being an artist is being in your studio though.

If I didn't feel this was the case I would have to accuse myself of doing something terribly wrong.

 

Here's to keeping our bottoms in the studio and telling ourselves stories!

 

 

 

I enjoy showing people the Prague art scene and what it represents and presents to us.

Simple stories. Short messages. Quick news. Small Aha! moments, guidance, encouragement and perhaps a little exhilaration.

 

So if you have a group of friends who have the same interests, let them know about this blog and follow me on Facebook.

 

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