Watching Fox 44 the other night, I noticed surprisingly in my drunken state, that I could not understand a word of the commercial lasting for around 60 seconds. I thought it was due to my then numbing mind, however after rewinding the television commercial I saw that it was in Chinese without any subtitles. I have to be honest and say that it was liberating in a way. It was as if finally a minority group in our society were being represented without having to cater for the super majority. They did not care whether you and I were interested in the product. It was irrelevant whether we understood the language. If I wanted to find out more, I would have to do research, or at least ask someone about it.

Yes there was something on my television that I did not understand, and instead of resenting the people who made it, I found myself more interested in their product and indeed it reignited my interest in all things Chinese. Culturally speaking China has a great history going back thousands of years, yet the country has seen the most dramatic fundamental changes happen in the past 100 years. The establishment of the Communist Party in 1921 and the Cultural Revolution in 1966 changed China’s cultural backdrop beyond recognition. People’s lives were also changed and copious injustices were force-fed to the population who lost much of their individual liberties for the promise of national progress.

It’s immaterial whether I’d agree with the Chinese take on Marxism, because these days I have my doubts about Marxism itself, however from an art history prospective I have never seen any group of artists find their connection with humanity and modern times more than the Chinese artists of today. What is even more wondrous is that these groups of Chinese artists are doing these great works amidst embargoes and restrictions placed on them by the government. It’s as if when artists’ hands are tied and they are more limited they manage to shine brighter and find a clear voice amidst the fog of conflict.

Chinese art that really matters today is born out of boundaries and not heartache. It is profoundly political and uncompromising. It is the new generation questioning the value system of the old, and ironically finding their way back to history. It is rebellion against collective ideology, yet it works within that framework. It is subtle and meaningful when you look at it twice, and you need to because you might otherwise dismiss it wrongfully. I have here introduced three artists that I thoroughly like myself.

Liu Bolin is a great Chinese artist who uses his own body to question the position of the individual inside a modern society. He prepares his body with paint and stickers in order to blend in with his backgrounds. He disappears, yet you can still see him, you know he is there because his work is being presented in a way that requires you to look for him. Living in any city around the world and you might encounter hundreds of people walking around at one time or other, yet you’d be hard pressed to remember their faces because you tend to be on your way to somewhere or on your way back. We have become so preoccupied with getting to places that we miss each other on the way. We have become complacent to other’s existence, and we are more ignorant because of it. Seeing these works makes you question your own preconceived values and you are searching for an individual in an urban background.

Zhang XiaogangNext artist is the painter Zhang Xiaogang whose work I came across when watching the film “Sunflower” by Chinese director Yang Zhang. The film explores the relationship between an artist father in the time of Mao and his son who later becomes an artist himself. Sunflowers are referring to the communist generation who turned toward the revolutionary party exhibiting their loyalty. However the son’s paintings when he grows up, which are actually by Zhang Xiaogang, question these loyalties and the conditions people of China were subjected to. Some people see these works as supporting the Communist ideology, however I see more of a human link within these paintings which do not adhere to the ideas of a collective. Zhang Xiaogang himself commented: “For me, the Cultural Revolution is a psychological state, not a historical fact. It has a very strict connection with my childhood, and I think there are many things linking the psychology of the Chinese people today with the psychology of the Chinese people back then”.

Final artist I want to praise is the world renowned Ai Weiwei. He has been described as an activist artist, and much of his work is about highlighting the flaws in a system that preaches perfection. He took it upon himself to collect the names of children who died in the devastating Sichuan earthquake in 2008 called the “citizen’s investigation”. Ai Weiwei published 5 385 names in his blog which was later shut down by the authorities. In 2010 his installation “Sunflower Seeds” was exhibited in Tate Modern Turbine Hall, and consisted of one hundred million porcelain seeds all handmade and painted. Apart from referring to the revolution loyalists, the seeds are significant in terms of exhibiting the condition of the Chinese population. He remarked that having sunflower seeds have become a favourite pastime of the people, some of whom have cracked front teeth because of it.

China’s art is now a force to be reckoned with, and they are showing the world a side of our modern times that might have been forgotten and forsaken due to shackles of cultural and social fixations.

The question is an old one, and also been asked throughout history by various critics and artists from all over the world, yet the question has never been as paramount as it is today. Photography has changed enormously with the advancement of technology, and I would venture that the very nature of it has changed with the digital age.

Capturing a moment in time, at a certain place and thus cementing it in history is a long gone advantage of photography, and no matter how much the professionals in the field argue for the case of documentary genre, it is a thing of the past, and as it did when it was popular, it belongs in news rather than art galleries and museums.

Medicine 15.09.2010

Don’t get me wrong, I am a big fan of some old photojournalism work, and I would still pay to attend exhibitions of works like Migrant Mother by Dorothea Lange, or Robert Capa’s The Falling Soldier. However if I’m being honest I’d rather pay to see the Paris scenes by George Brassaï, because artistic photography draws me in, stimulates my mind and inspires my soul.

Documentation of a moment is admirable, and indeed tremendously important, but for me art happens when you use your imagination to create something new from that moment. I’m looking for an experience, and that is precisely why I enjoy stimulating work. I’m afraid photojournalism’s contribution to this stimulation is few and far between and those who capture these moments can only be called lucky, because as much skill as they might possess, they would have to come in contact with the right situation to use their skill, and that happens through chance.

When a painter is confronted with a white canvas, the possibilities are endless. It is like a poet and a blank page. It is like a musician with his instrument. Endless variations. Endless prospects. Endless risks. It is only when the camera is presented with these visions that it reaches the same level as any other art form, and again it requires an artist to arrange the scene, or alternatively manipulate the already taken image to reach a desirable artistic scenario.

Digital age of ours has allowed us to crop, cut, replace; play with saturation, light, contrast; blur, frame, distort; use effects like cracking, bricking, edge burning, rainbowing, inverting; even pixilating and sketching a photograph. You can change a photograph so much that it will no longer resemble the original, and you can now have a printer reproduce the image with paint onto a canvas which then can be framed and put in a gallery labeled oil on canvas and no one could argue otherwise. After all, if contemporary art has taught us anything, it is the fact that the role of the artist is not important; it is the product that is born out of the idea that matters.

My Heart Soars

The problem is that with all the digital manipulation involved one might find it hard to call the process photography, because what we are being presented with aren’t just photographs in the traditional sense, they are artworks created using photography. These images are a far cry from reality, and no one would claim they have anything to do with the real world, so we would have to find a new word for them.

I would like to call them “Digigraphs”, and I really think they have revolutionized the art world. Anyone using a few applications and programs can create a piece of artwork using their computer, phone or tablet, and the result are not just photographs because the original file looks nothing like the finished product. Millions of these artworks are being uploaded onto social media sites every day, and some even find their way into our local galleries and museums.

True art for the people by the people, and although of our time, certainly not the same as photography or any other art form previously revered by the elite of the society. This is something entirely new and in constant state of evolution. It’s time to get involved and express yourselves, because being an artist means precisely that.

Artwork by Taymaz Valley

I have a very active imagination, driving me to the depths of insanity where color patterns and psychedelic scenarios exist. I have come to this condition after years of abusing my brain and spending some time in various states of intoxication. For this special Christmas piece I would like to summon art to envisage the worst festive dinner with the most unbecoming, loathsome, and abhorrent artists imaginable as guests. These artists are by coincidence some of the most well-known, creative and well respected figures in art history. Suitable for a dinner party of any sort however… they are not, especially one that celebrates this time of benevolent behaviour. So welcome to my fantasy Christmas, bah, humbug!

The doorbell rings, two hours early, and it can only be our ever neurotically precise friend Joan Miró. He is dressed immaculately and as usual does not say anything as he enters the house. He has always been quiet like this, saying as little as possible. In fact he was so reluctant to answer any questions put to him that the Surrealists sentenced him to death with Max Ernst grabbing a piece of rope, while others grabbed Miró’s arms and put a noose around his neck, all the while the artist said not a word. Man Ray later depicted Miró with a rope that plays on the incident in the Paris studio. The poet Michel Leiris said after the Artist’s death in 1983: “The joke about the hanging could not have happened with anybody else. Miro really was afraid that they would hang him.”

Clement Greenberg wrote about Miro’s visit to America in 1947: “Those who had the opportunity to meet Miro while he was here saw a short, compact rather dapper man in a dark blue business suit. He has a neat round head with closely trimmed dark hair, pale skin, small, regular features, quick eyes and movements. He is slightly nervous and at the same time imperson

al in the company of strangers, and his conversation and manner are non-committal to an extreme. One asked oneself what could have brought this bourgeois to modern painting, the Left Bank, and Surrealism?”

However, now the rest of the guests have arrived, and everyone hurrah a “Pablo” when Picasso walks into the door and finds the first girl that takes his fancy. He nonchalantly takes a drink from the table and walks up to the girl saying what he had said to win over Marie-Thérèse: “Mademoiselle, you’ve got an interesting face. I’d like to paint your portrait. I am Picasso”. This move is not welcomed by our old friends Gustav Klimt and Paul Gauguin who were planning to make their own move and win the heart of the barley legal girl with promises of fame and fortune through modeling.

In one corner a schizophrenic and a manic depressive are arguing the relevance of reality. Vincent Van Gogh and Edvard Munch, both drunk on absinthe, smoking god knows what, are talking about the importance of expressive brushstrokes and using prime colours to produce paintings that question the idea of reality and produce a new way of seeing the world. Even though they seem to concur on most points, especially the significance of German Expressionism, they have difficulty when it comes to the question of religion. Our friend Vincent believes in rapture and salvation, whilst Munch takes a dimmer apocalyptic take on life and cannot help talking about his own encounter with death, yet both artists agree that for a painter it is ill-advised to shoot one’s hand rather than cut an ear.

In the other corner our Marxist comrade Diego Rivera is arguing with the Nazi sympathizer Salvador Dali who openly supported Spain’s General Franco and even featured Hitler in one of his paintings causing the Surrealists to expel him from the group. Dali who claims now that he did it out of concern for his nation and that it has all been over-hyped by the media, is bested by Rivera who points to the commercial work Dali did in America advertising various products for the Capitalist cause. All the bickering comes to a halt as Caravaggio challenges Jacques-Louis David to a sword fight, fortunately I manage to stop the situation from getting out of hand by pointing out that the doorbell has started ringing and everyone calm down to see who’s at the door.

When I open the door I see a sulking Damien Hirst who complains about his invitation being lost in the mail. I smile shaking my head at the artist saying: “My dear Damien, I’m afraid you were not invited. Make sure you close the gate on your way out.”

Happy Holidays Everyone.

The winter season is upon us, and snow has already started to fall from the sky, however not surprisingly it has again been milder than last year and not much ice has formed on the grounds yet.A warmer winter means bad news for our ever so considerate and uniquely well-mannered taxi drivers as people are more inclined to walk their way to various locations, while it means good news for dog owners like me who do not have to worry about winter shoes for our pets.

Winter is of course the season that sees more greeting cards being sold on the account of that merry imminent eve when young and old come together, whether religious or secular, to celebrate generosity and selflessness. For as long as we have had the existence of cards, we have had the need to supply images for the cards especially for holidays like Christmas, and over the years images on holiday cards have become an industry of their own with certain artists and graphic designers working exclusively on Christmas cards all year round.  

I would like to single out three images which I think would be ideal for Christmas cards, and considering the fact that I am a devout atheist, you can bet that I will not be picking works that are remotely chocolate boxy or religious in tone. So, if you were hoping for Thomas Kinkade like idealized winter scenes, I’m afraid I would have to disappoint you.

First painting is “Hunters in the Snow” by the Flemish Renaissance painter and printmaker Pieter Bruegel the Elder who is sometimes referred to as Peasant Bruegel because he depicted peasants lives predominantly. Painted in 1565 the work is also referred to as The Return of the Hunters as it portrays a group of hunters descending toward their village accompanied by their hunting dogs. The painting itself is monumental pieces of work which plays with the idea of civilization versus savagery. The hunters who kill and are violent by nature are returning to a place where there are no signs of primitive barbarism. Their hunt has been unsuccessful and they are tired, back bent, struggling to control their gait, resembling in many ways their dogs. At the same time down at the village there is modernism afoot. Children playing games and others ice skating with modern buildings surrounding them. The fire being lit at the left hand side might be referring to progress, and the crows resting on tree branches on the hunters’ side could be reinstating the idea of doomed activities men partake in. The right hand side of the painting where the village rests is more open and light, and the horizon takes the viewer deeper into the future where there is hope for improvement and better understanding.

The second work is “In the Woods” by the 19th century Canadian artist Tom Thomson who has been associated with the Group of Seven; however he was not a member of the group as he died before the group was formed, nevertheless his influence on Canadian art has been well documented. The painting in question was purchased by National Gallery of Canada in 1918 and it is truly a treasure worth seeing. The painting depicts woodland with trees blocking the way of any visitor and the viewer struggles to see beyond the obstruction. The snows on the grounds give the painting a chill factor which accompanied with the suffocating feeling one gets being denied access to proceed, makes one very aware of his or her position with respect to nature. Defenceless is a word which appropriately describes your feeling, yet there is hope and optimism presented by the sunlight which is allowed to peek through the tree branches. And there is the future to consider with the hint of mountains visible in the background, as if Thomson is saying don’t worry you will find a way through, however it might not be yet so patience is a virtue.

The final work I would like to bring to your attention is Le Moulin de la Galette Terrace and Observation Deck at the Moulin de Blute-Fin, Montmartre by Vincent Van Gogh painted in 1886. This painting represents what Van Gogh had been feeling before he embarked on his journey to Paris where he discovered a taste for colour and bold brushstrokes. This painting is Vincent prior to being bitten by Impressionism and Pointillism and has loneliness and alienation feeling to it. Vincent’s experience leading up to this point had been a very tragic one. He had spent his time observing poverty and abandonment of the underprivileged by the very society which was supposed to care for them. He saw himself as a prophet for the destitute, and his promise of salvation would come in the form of art. Yet, at this point he yearned for recognition and he detested the utter solitude gnawing at his insides.

In my view these three paintings would make wonderful card images for any art lover who is looking to enjoy something other than the usual over sentimentalized Christmas card. However if you think these works would be too sombre to send to your relatives and friend, I have here created an image which is so full of holiday cheer that I’m sure even your grandma would love, and it is free for all you Forget The Box readers to download and enjoy. However, I must state that even though I am permitting the private use of this image, the public copyrights belong to me and you should refrain from making an unscrupulous business venture out of this.

Lens, Pas-de-Calais, France is the new destination for art and architecture fans. You might not have heard of the town because it is very small with a population of only 35,000 and the only attraction of the town thus far has been a football stadium that had a capacity more than the population.  However, now this old mining town has become the grounds for Louvre-Lens which is a branch of the Paris Musée du Louvre.

Lens was chosen in 2004 by the French Prime Minister Jean-Pierre Raffarin out of the other candidates for the project which included: Amiens, Arras, Boulogne-sur-Mer, Calais, and Valenciennes. Choosing Lens seems to be a tactical as well as practical move by the officials as the town boasts a 20 hectare site just an hour away from Paris, as well as being located on an important highway to Holland and Belgium. They have estimated around 500,000 visitors from all over Europe per year which the officials hope will revitalize the local economy.   

Similar projects have been experimented with in the UK with opening of Turner Contemporary gallery in Margate and also other branches of Tate in Liverpool and St Ives. There are talks of international ventures like opening branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim in Abu Dhabi, UAE. These projects have made many in the art world uneasy and skeptical as to their benefits overall.

The fact is that you are more likely to become a head of a museum or major gallery with a degree in economics or marketing than art history, and this is a reality many face after graduating. These establishments need to make money and with the growth of online resources and reproduction technologies, less people are inclined to visit Paris or London to see a major artwork. This has caused museums to increase lending, tours and opening of branches nationally as well as internationally.

Many have been vocal in their disdain for the branch openings, with critics like Harry Bellet from the Le Monde describing Louvre-Lens “like a bookshop where all the books are muddled up”, and the Guardian’s Jonathan Jones writing “British art museums must avoid the mistake the palatial Paris gallery is making in sending its treasures to the provinces”.

The Lens branch itself is very unassuming minimal structure designed by the Japanese architecture firm Sanaa, and the two people involved in designing Louvre-Lens Ryue Nishizawa and Kazuyo Sejima couldn’t be happier with the result. They set out to produce a space which would complement the outdoors and the natural setting of the grounds, as well as taking as much advantage of the natural light as possible.

The space looks and feels open with the walls resembling thin aluminum with plenty of windows and glass structures. It is a far cry from the 200 year old Louvre building in the heart of Paris, and in no way has that awe factor. Yet, it manages to draw people in and tweak their interest. The curator Adrien Gardère has produced an exhibition completely different to the Paris set up, where most of the artwork and artefacts are intermingling. The point seems to be to introduce pieces you might not have had the chance to see alongside one another, and this way it might produce inspiration for further exploration.

Granted the average visitor might be planning a trip to Lens just to see a few masterpieces like Liberty Leading the People and Leonardo’s The Virgin and Child with St. Anne, however they might have just set on a journey of discovery which might will them more interested in History of Art and a tad bit more enlightened.

 

A painting of the late singer Amy Winehouse done by the South African born artist Marlene Dumas has been acquired by UK’s National Portrait Gallery which is the second most important Art gallery in Britain. The price paid for the work is undisclosed, however judging by Dumas’s price tags I would estimate it for around $3 million. She has been described as the most successful artist of our time, which goes to show how far the art world has drifted away from the shores of sanity and taste.

I challenge anyone to find any resemblance of beauty in her work. Her paintings, which you might mistake of that of a child playing around with paint are, contrary to popular conception, devoid of any emotion or honesty. She possesses no technical proficiency, and the color palette might have as well been done by that elephant that wowed the YouTube audiences with randomly splashing paint onto a canvas.

Dumas’ Amy-Blue which will now shock the visitors to National Portrait Gallery as they walk into the contemporary wing, will be given an entire wall to itself as another testament to what market created reputation does for a bad artist. Look kids, you don’t have to learn how to draw or paint, you just have to find the right rich man to buy your finger drawings and you will be the most famous artist in the world.

The painting itself was painted after the pop star’s death, and has some resemblances to the singer, and the blue used has been described as relevant to her troubled life and her choice of music, but man it is an awful portrait. Failing to find any critic who would praise the work without abandoning their ethics, the press resorted to asking Amy Winehouse’s father to comment, and this is the man who disowned her own daughter when she was alive because of her drug taking and out of sorts behaviour, and after her death published a book about how he loved her, starting a foundation to cash in from her fame.

Mitch Winehouse in an interview said about the painting: “It is a fantastic piece of work and we are fascinated to know how Amy was seen and remembered by family, friends and artists of all kinds. With the Amy Winehouse Foundation, Amy is our inspiration and it is profoundly moving to find that she still inspires so many others too.”

Yes, Amy Winehouse was an amazing singer and I was a big fan of her lyrics which were raw and uncompromising, but honestly, would anyone call her an inspirational figure? She became so addicted to drugs that she could not perform on stage anymore, and people booed her until she was forced to cancel her tour. She kept returning to her relationship with Blake Fielder Civil who admitted to getting her addicted to crack cocaine and has a long list of charges to his name from sexual abuse to attempted robbery.

Have we not had enough of celebrities and pop idols? Are we not intelligent enough to decide for ourselves what is good or bad? Do we still need to pay for entertainment, while those who have to carry the burden of entertaining us lose touch with reality more and more? Aren’t studios and managers and publishers rich enough to stop feeding us garbage in hopes of fattening their own pockets?

Why does the old man in the corner of Saint Catherine and Drummond have to beg for cents and cigarettes, shacking from the cold, fingers and lips frozen blue, while you and I take money out to pay these robbers and charlatans to give us celebrity and all the products and news that come with it?

I’m afraid I find no beauty in the portrait of Amy Winehouse, and I will not condone UK’s National Portrait Gallery for exposing such inferior work to people especially children who will visit on their school trips. We do not need any more idols.

Barry MacPherson is an outstanding artist currently working in Montreal. His work takes you on an emotional journey so compelling that one cannot help feeling the awe inspiring admiration which I would usually associate with Abstract Expressionism. However, Barry’s pieces are far from abstract, they are figurative in all aspects, and yet they are not mere copies of nature and real life, they bring with them such ferocious force of feeling that you cannot look away. All I could do when confronted with his work was gaze meekly, unable to grasp my thoughts, unaware of my surroundings. I met with him and he was kind enough to answer a few of my questions.      

In your view, how hard is it to call yourself an artist or a painter? Does it take courage?

I guess if you take yourself seriously, it does. It’s a choice that you make and have to take responsibility for but it seems that the answer to that is left up to others biases and opinions.

Your paintings deal with emotions predominantly, even when they are devoid of people humanity can be found in them, do you consider this quality risky in the art market?

I never really understood the “Art Market” It has to do with money and marketing I guess and that is certainly something that was never taught in art school. I always (naively) believed that art was something that was creative and informative. It had nothing to do with what was being sold, just to be hung on a wall or whatever else. I have always had a strong belief that my work would be legitimate if I tried to be honest about my feelings on how I observe and portray whatever qualities I wish to express in my work especially within the context of the human condition. A world devoid of emotion would be a cold one indeed. From my observations I continually ask myself what is this person really feeling or what is really the situation here? My biggest problem is how can this be conveyed with all the limitations one has with the chosen medium, i.e. paint? To really answer your question, I think the art market has to do with what others dictate and not really the artist wishes to create.

Where do you stand on copies of your work painted by yourself or others? In essence can a copy ever regain the original quality?

I truly don’t think or care about this. We all copy something from something to some extent. Les Levine did a piece in 1970 titled “Les Levine Copies Everyone” In my “Reality of Life Series “ I took one of Bouguereau’s models and made her much younger to express what I was trying to do in “Broken Dreams”, the first painting in this series. I guess one might feel that they are on to something if their work is copied but a copy is a copy is a copy. To me the original quality is not only in the finished work but in the whole process from the concept to the chosen medium and the end result. There is a lot in there that a copy or reproduction could never capture.

Are you influenced by the Art scene or what is happening around you socially or politically? Or would you rather find solution to the meaning behind your work away from other influences?

I am not really not interested in the art scene, but am to some extent perhaps influenced by what others are doing, and yes I am certainly interested what does go on socially and politically. I feel this has always been the source and true foundation of anything I might think of as significant in any of my work. I like the idea of working in a series of paintings to cover a time frame of what actually happens in any event. And again these can be social or political in context.

When and where can we see your work next?

Presently I am part of a group exhibtion “Traffic” Conceptual Art in Canada, 1965‐1980, at The Vancouver Art Gallery that ends in January 2013 and in my studio.

Obama won, hooray! Four more years of the same. No seriously. Nothing in American political structure changed this week. The Senate stayed with the Democrats; Republicans kept the House of Representatives and Obama stayed at the top of the food chain presiding over an unfriendly, uncooperative system thanks to the conservatives who have vowed to stop every single bill he puts forward.

So we are back to where we started four years ago, but not as hopeful and exhilarated because let’s face it, Obama didn’t do an extraordinary job as President. Soldiers are still dying overseas; the economy is predicted to fall into another recession; unemployment hasn’t bounced back; Guantanamo Bay is still operating; the Health System hasn’t been reformed and it is still run by the insurance companies; and al-Qaeda seems to be getting stronger even without bin Laden.

In short, all the promises of “hope” and “change” have now turned into “we can still turn it around together” with a hint of uncertainty. Nevertheless most Americans agreed that Obama is better than Mitt Romney and they are allowing him another four years in the office. One couldn’t help being reminded of all the excitement and euphoric celebrations that occurred this same time four years ago. Most countries breathed a sigh of relief at the re-election of President Obama, well apart from Israel and Pakistan.

The fact is that Obama has a quality to him that allows people to relax and not think about packing and moving to a bomb shelter like they felt with George Bush. Obama has managed to inspire many artists with his honest to goodness, intellectual talk, liberal views, and family man approach. Painters, photographers, illustrators and sculptors from all over the world have depicted him in a favorable light. He has an aura of sophistication that comes naturally to him and which makes him an ideal candidate for art.

Legendary artist and illustrator Shepard Fairey who started that whole Obey label scene, made Obama into art accessible to the masses. His “Hope Poster” could be seen everywhere four years ago, on T-shirts, hats, mugs, mouse pads, bags, and I even saw people getting it as a tattoo. The image became so iconic and popular that the Obama Campaign gave direct permission for distribution of it through various platforms. The mixed-media painting done later by Fairey was acquired in 2009 by Smithsonian Institution for its National Portrait Gallery.

The image was a genius take on the President and brought fame to Fairey who now sells pieces for thousands of dollars, and has gone on to sign contracts with fashion houses and superstores who are looking to cash in just by putting his name on their products. The “Hope Poster” however brought a bittersweet ending for the artist, as it turned out the image which was used had been taken by the freelance photographer Mannie Garcia and belonged to the Associated Press.

The Associated Press took Fairey to court for illegally using a copyrighted image and actually won this September. The court has found the artist guilty and has sentenced him to two years of probation and 300 hours of community service. The AP’s CEO and President Gary Pruitt commented: “After spending a great amount of time, energy and legal effort, all of us at the Associated Press are glad this matter is finally behind us. We hope this case will serve as a clear reminder to all of the importance of fair compensation for those who gather and produce original news content.”

Another artist who deserves a mention here is the British painter Lizzy Watson whose portrait of Obama manages to convey a truly contemporary feel to the art of portraiture. Lizzy Watson studied at the University of East Anglia and is one the college’s most versatile artists. Her Obama brings a contemplative expression to the features of the President, making him complicated and likable at the same time. Her method of drip painting manages to open up the image and make it more inviting to the viewer. It is a unique modern take on a traditional genre.

I couldn’t end this article without adding my own take on the great man, and as I work mainly with digital images, I have here presented a lighthearted work which I think paints the President as a cool character who can also indulge in some fun: “Obama Bill”.


For all those Plateau folks out there who so obnoxiously declare that nothing cool ever happens outside of their neighbourhood, I say you better watch out. I love the hustle and bustle of The Main as much as the next person, but with the opening of Gallery Boutique Arts dans le Coin, right next to NDG staple Shaika, things are starting to develop on Sherbrooke West. And for this west end girl who has spent more then her fair share of time on the orange line heading east, I say its about darn time.

This past Thursday I made my way to the Gallery Boutik to check out “The Lowbrow Theory” Vernissage. While there was no specific theme for the show, it  was easy to understand why the curators brought the 12 artists on display together; the work was a combination of surrealistic, illustration,  pop and street art, and it flowed together perfectly. To enhance your viewing pleasure the event had a DJ and gal in a Princess Lea bikini serving drinks… now who could possibly resist that?

I’ve greatly enjoyed expanding my arts coverage here at Forget the Box, and I do believe this is my first time devoting a post to a vernissage. It’s made me think about how I can ramble on for a thousand words about film or theatre but I find it much harder to analyse a piece of art. My date for evening summed it up best when I asked him why he liked a certain piece the best (painted by FTB friend Jody Hargreaves) and he shrugged and replied. “I don’t know… I just do.”  A film or a play has two hours to  win you over, but with a piece of art its all about the initial impact. You can wax on poetically about the use of colour which all the paintings (especially Hargreaves), used to excellent effect, but in the end like fashion I feel it comes down to that immediate feeling you get when you first lay eyes on it. Thankfully for me the night was full of positive gut feelings.

Of all the work on display that night, the pieces I found myself drawn to were the illustrations and prints. Dewey Guyen for instance, was one artist whose dark work reminded me of the “American Splendor” graphic novel series. While I don’t know if I would ever purchase his artwork, Guyen’s pieces are so intriguing that I found myself examining them the most all night. There’s got to be something said about art that creates such an intense reaction in you that you just can’t look away.  If I was a wealthy art collector instead of a poor blogger, I happily would have purchased all the work of Earth Crusher  whose simple yet engaging prints would look great hanging on any wall.

I wish I could have stayed longer on Thursday, but thankfully with The Gallery Boutik just around the corner from me now I’ll hopefully have plenty more chances to stop by and ponder the question of what it means to analyse a piece of art. If you want to check out The Lowbrow Theory show for your self the vernissage runs until November 15th.

* photos by Emily Campbell

 

This week saw the devastation of American East Coast by hurricane Sandy which tore through houses and buildings, leaving debris and wreckage behind. Many people lost their lives, and New Yorkers couldn’t hep being reminded of the shattering events of 9/11. The reports place the Hurricane as the most catastrophic natural disaster ever recorded in American history.

This follows a decade that saw the number of natural calamities increase dramatically and repeatedly causing worldwide damage to cities in all continents, displacing masses of people and taking thousands of lives. From earthquakes, tsunamis, floods and hurricanes to severe draughts in hotter climates near the earth’s equator, these events have become more common place.

All reputable scientists have agreed on the notion of climate change and our role in increasing global warming causing these horrifying happenings, yet as the issue becomes more political more sceptics are born in paranoid backlash which is not helped by liberal parties like the NDP, Green and Democrats in America pointing the figure at the Conservatives and Republicans in a blame game that surely cannot resolve the issue.

The problem we have which obstructs reaction to climate change from the public is the economic downturn and global recession which has given birth to a new generation of poor working class who are ready to forsake the bigger picture as long as any of the parties promise them jobs and financial prosperity. This is not a unique even in global politics, right wing parties have always emerged and grown in the times of hardship with promises of wealth for their nation, and people, especially the poor and unemployed, have always preferred financial survival to social betterment.

However, this time around we have a bigger issue that is affecting every single living creature on this planet, and climate change will not go away if we fail to react. We, like many countries around the world, have a conservative party in charge. Our leaders are willing to keep their people happy with promises of jobs, and do not realize by doing so they are putting the planet at risk. They talk of debt, economic growth, outsourcing, stronger middle class, yet when it comes to global warming they start going at each other’s throats in hopes that it will distract us, because they need to grow the economy with fuel. Oil dictates how fast a country is growing, and observing China one soon realizes how important producing oil is, and how thirsty for oil a fast growing nation can become.

The best thing liberal parties can do at this time is to downplay the issue of Climate Change. We really do not need another Green Party member lecturing the ordinary public on how to conduct their day to day lives. We have to stop the issue from becoming political, because being burned by political parties over and over again has taught us to be wary of their promises and comments, and like the boy who cried wolf, people stop believing until it is too late.

Power is what politicians hunger for, and even if their ethics and intentions are right and noble, they manage to screw it up when they get into power. People have seen this and experienced this many a time in their lifetime, and this distrust of politicians can end up costing us our lives. We have seen the warmest climates ever recorded in the past decade. We have seen natural disaster after natural disaster occur, yet because Mr Obama stands up and says climate change is an issue, and we need to look for alternative energy resources, we frown, because he is a liberal, because he is a democrat, because he smokes cigarettes and smoked weed at school.

In short, we need solutions now, and no more lectures or finger pointing. Every single person is responsible now, and let us forget indirect democracy because it does not work. We need direct democracy, where every member of society makes a decision for the wellbeing of our lives and our planet.

The artworks in this article are by American painters Thomas Cole and John Singleton Copley who looked into nature for inspiration and found disturbances that were frightening.

Well not really, because the new exhibition at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts labelled ONCE UPON A TIME… IMPRESSIONNISM, contrary to the title, is not just another well-known impressionist hullabaloo designed to attract large crowds looking for pretty pictures of Paris and Parisians, there are a few academic and modern pieces in there also.

The pieces on display are from Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute in Williamstown Massachusetts, and were privately collected by Robert Sterling Clark heir to Singer sewing machine fortune. Mr Clark had a good eye, and certainly had the means to acquire such collection. However, as many a time prior, a private collection fails to display the strength of a movement, no matter how high in volume are the pieces.

In most cases the paintings are mundane examples, and there is only Degas’ Little Dancer to represent the sculpture medium, and yet that particular work might not be an original as the Little Dancer has many copies all over the world in many museums and collections, so one is forced to gauge the worth of this exhibition by paintings.

Try as I may, I can only single out three paintings worth mentioning, and all three are substandard works by the artists who painted them, nevertheless due to the importance of the artists and the significance of their other work within art history, I am compelled to proceed with descriptions that are at best conditional.

The Bath by Berthe Morisot painted in 1885-86 is a later exhibited work, yet one of the more important impressionist works on display due to the fact that Morisot had been exhibiting with the Impressionists from the start. “Societe anonyme des artistes peintres, sculpteurs, graveurs, etc” which is now known as the First Impressionist Exhibition included nine pieces by Morisot which were oils, watercolours, and pastels. Morisot sought to tell a story through her art be they comments on the progression of artistic styles or social norms imposed on women in particular, portraying them in private quarters which was not done by other artists with such empathy.

The social conventions existing in 19th century frowned upon women undertaking professions deemed unsuitable like oil painting; however Morisot through perseverance and dedication managed to pursue her choice in the arts amidst a wave of discouragement. Being a professional artist was seen as a masculine profession, and some women were ridiculed and labelled as “not true women” for pursuing such activities, in some cases masculine adjectives were given to women artists and writers.

A popular caricature at the time showed the horrified spectators at an all women exhibition in 1880s sighing disgusted, whilst in the background proper, suitable women were being escorted by their male companions. It was regarded as necessary for women of certain class with well to do upbringing to be escorted out by men or chaperones. The Ecole des Beaux Arts, the sate art school did not accept female students until 1897 and only then because of much appeals and numerous petitions put forward by women artists.

In 1867, when copying a Rubens with her friend Rosalie Riesener, Morisot came to meet Edouard Manet. Manet was an older painter of a somewhat wild reputation, especially after his much scorned entry to 1865 Salon “Olympia”. Manet, like Morisot, came from an upper middle class background and soon befriended Morisot and her family.

This brings us to the second piece in the exhibition which is worth seeing: Moss Roses in a Vase by Manet painted in 1882. Manet painted almost exclusively flowers toward the end of his life, and these small paintings can be seen as an old man not being able to undertake monumental work, or as I see them Manet’s realization of his own mortality.

Cut flowers have a short life span, they wither and die, and so does man. What Manet seems to be doing is trying to give us art that defies death and mortality. He seems to want us see his life in those flowers, and as a keepsake we are left with his creativity and ideas.

Final piece you should see, being an offensive culprit of the misogynistic, racist art of the 19th century is: The Slave Market painted in 1866 by Jean-Léon Gérôme. This painting embodies the qualities that gave rise to feminism in art, and the reason why Modernism set to destroy academic painting. It approaches art with such ignorant, male dominated manner that I really cannot see anyone not be offended by it in this day and age.

First of all it is a nude, but nothing like Manet’s Olympia. This nude is a slave, painted bare for your lustful gaze, and if you had any doubts about that do not worry because she is not confronting you at all, she is lost in trance, almost drunkenly looking at her new master checking her teeth like a horse.

You have the best seat in the house, because you get a sneak peek at her for free, and you don’t even have to buy anything so your conscience is clean. And those men selling her and buying her are all from another, distant, exotic land. Of course they are savages you tell your wife, but you praise the artist for his immaculate brushstrokes. If there was ever any uncertainty that the majority of academic paintings from those periods were done for the male gaze, this work with one gesture proves the sceptics wrong.

 

ONCE UPON A TIME… IMPRESSIONNISM will be at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts until January 20, 2013.

The Montreal based artist and filmmaker Payam Mofidi is having a solo exhibition in Tehran’s trendy Assar Art Gallery. The exhibition has been titled “Destroyed Memories” which evokes a feeling of imminent nostalgia for the audiences, and indeed that is the intent of the artist.

The mixed media paintings are reminiscent of pre-revolution photographs and artwork plays around with people, disfiguring and visually manipulating. There are no recognizable faces or events in history here, however the work triggers a sense of remembrance and familiarity of a bygone era which is not unique to the Persian viewer, undeniably these work are universally decipherable.

Even the most savant art follower might question the reason behind such utterly contemporary work being allowed in one of the most closed off capitals at a time when the country is fast becoming more and more isolated from the rest of the world due to political and economic pressures exerted by the west?

A few months ago Iran decided to exhibit the biggest Modern and Contemporary art collection outside of Europe and North America, which they had inherited from the dethroned Queen Farah Pahlavi after the 1979 revolution. This art collection which the Queen had started to accumulate during the reign of Shah contains some of the most spectacular work by artists like Mark Rothko, Jackson Pollock, Andy Warhol, Francis Bacon, Edvard Munch and René Magritte.

If you think the irony and the political message of a row of Andy Warhol’s multi-coloured Chairman Mao being exhibited publicly by the Islamic Republic is lost to this observer then I am sorry to disappoint you. Iran is setting itself up as a place for art, and whilst other aspects of the system and culture are being oppressed, visual arts is flourishing, and this certainly gives an image of Iran as a progressive player in the region to be reckoned with, not to mention appealing to supporting forces like China and Russia.

Nevertheless, regardless of political games being played, visual arts having the freedom they have acquired in Iran is a step forward for the many exceptional artists working in and out of the country, and I see any exchanges with the west a hopeful and positive move which then can be built on for all of our sakes.  

“Destroyed Memories” by Payam Mofidi plays with the notion of nostalgic musing and these images are violent, disturbing and grief-stricken, however the way they are painted and the coloring used defy nightmarish feelings one might expect before confronted with the work. They are gentle, soothing and engaging, for they make you delve deeper into your unconscious and find your own memories which you had disregarded.

Memory is a delicate, elusive component of our psyche, yet even though they might seem ephemeral they are set in stone so to speak, for we repress them and they only resurface when we are faced with a trigger. Destroyed is a term that can be seen as tongue-in-cheek because no memory is shattered, they exist in the cavernous dark corners of our mind and they affect our day to day conducts.

Through evolution the human brain has created some sort of defence mechanism to combat the psychological damages we might endure in the event of an unforeseeable experience, and that is the repressed memories. However, this mechanism is not exclusive to bad experiences; it deals with other intense, unsettling matters the same way. We do repress love, passion, sex, beauty and other stimulations that might not sound so destructive, but the point is that these experiences will remain with us whether we are aware of them or not.

When we are faced with a trigger that causes resurfacing of a memory, a profound connection is established and we cannot help feeling inspired, alas with this elevated mood comes a sorrow that can only be explained by our realization at having forsaken those memories. We feel sad because we had ignored our experiences consciously for so long even though they had been in play throughout our lives. Nevertheless we find beauty in those triggers as like an epiphany moment we connect with our surrounding and come out of the cocoon our mind had built, and for me Payam Mofidi’s work do exactly that and I suspect I am not alone.

“Destroyed Memories” will be at Assar Art Gallery Tehran until 24 October, 2012

At Guggenheim New York next week there will be a reading of the infamous Picasso’s surrealistic play Le Désir attrapé par la queue to coincide with the gallery’s Black and White Exhibition of the artist. The play which will be staged on the 8th and 15th of October is directed by Anne Bogart.

The cast performing includes the writer John Guare, Diana Picasso who is the artist’s granddaughter, and the director of Guggenheim Richard Armstrong as Silence, which is one of many surreal characters like Big Blonde Curtain, Big Foot and Onion.

The play was first premiered at the writer Michel Leiris’ home in Paris in March 1944 and was performed by Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir and Valentine Hugo the artist who was the wife of Jean Hugo the great-grandson of Victor Hugo. The original performance was directed by Albert Camus and featured Picasso himself.

Guggenheim revived the play previously in 1984 with the cast including Louise Bourgeois and the British artist David Hockney, and next week the play will once again be captivating audiences with its hallucinogenic acts and reparative randomness of dialogue. In the second act five pairs of feet outside hotel rooms will be chanting: “My chilblains, My chilblains, My chilblains” before a voice from the stage will be calling: “the dancing shadows of five monkeys eating carrots”.

Picasso has been reported to have composed the play in 1941 during four days of illness which explains the dreamlike sequences of the acts and the non-linear absurdity of the whole thing. Picasso and the Surrealists were contemporary and it is likely that they were influenced by one another.  André Breton the founder of the Surrealist movement even included Picasso in the Surrealist manifestoes of 1924 and 1929.

Picasso was close friends with Guillaume Apollinaire who first mentions the word Surrealism and it is where the movement’s name derives from. He was also friends with the Surrealist poet Paul Eluard in the 30s and even indulged in writing poetry that was influenced by Automatic writing. However, Picasso never saw himself as a surrealist and was always unique in his voice and style, so labelling his work as definitive Surrealism is improper, yet the influences are there and can be explored.

Writing, painting or performing through tapping into the unconscious was a significant method adopted by the Surrealist, and there are evidences of artists and writers reporting and painting their experiences after lack of sleep or when ill. The notion that true clarity can come from the unconscious had routs in the work of Sigmund Freud and the birth of psychotherapy, which André Breton had become familiar with when working during World War I in a neurological ward in Nantes.

Joan Miró wrote about how after being food deprived and failing to sleep for a few days he would see shapes and colour on the ceiling of his bedroom which he then would proceed to draw and paint onto a canvas. Other Surrealist writers and artists speak of similar experiences which then they used as inspiration. When it came to performances, Surrealism had been much influenced by Dada and their hypnotic and nonsensical shows at bars and on stage.

In many ways Picasso’s Le Désir attrapé par la queue can be seen as influenced by these movements, and I see it as homage by the artist, because it is so different from the work Picasso had done and he never pursued it wholeheartedly afterward. Yet its distinctiveness and exceptionality is all there and above all it is fun and entertaining.

Picasso Black and White will be at Guggenheim New York from October 5, 2012 until January 23, 2013


This week I attended the Cégep de Saint-Laurent’s exhibition of Visual Art students and I was taken aback by the quality of work on display. These young students produced work on par with any University graduate in Montreal and they had clarity of vision and message that was utterly remarkable.

Work ranged from classic painting and collage, installations to conceptual and what gave these students’ work the special touch were the concepts and ideas being communicated. The social and political statements these works make are very current and understandable igniting sparks of inspiration in the viewers.

Some of the artists exhibited take a more relaxed approach to their art, and music, films and fiction can be seen as influencing their work.  They are fun and contemporary and remind us that not all art should be about serious political matters, they can evoke a sense of wittiness that can sometimes be forsaken in today’s art.

“Fondu” by Ann Karine Bourdeau Leduc is a very modern and interesting take on the art of painting, and it deserves praise here for its innovative quality. In this work two elements in the art of painting have come together to produce an astonishing piece. The shape of each section in the piece is irregular and unconventional, and the artist has decided to use a black background with colors dripping up, down and side to side to give it a very liquid and fluctuating feel. To make it more mechanically fluid the artist has decided to attach the different sections together like a collage and if look long enough and the pieces start to move around one another like the arms of a clock.

Medeleine Zoe and Gabeil Robitaille have given us “TEMPS D’OURS” a painting that I can easily see in a museum of modern art. From a technical aspect the portrait in flawless, the dimensions and alignments are just right and produce a recognizable sorrowful gaze in the face of a man who is somewhat threatening at the same time. The choice of colors in the painting is just incredible, the greens and blues in the face of the man give him a cold sick look, contrasted with the reddish eyes which accompanied by the frowned eyebrows produce that angry feel. The choice of dark red for the man’s clothes also confirms this rage with a hint of passion.

One artist’s photos and review of her work were removed at the artist’s request.

Montreal Comiccon 2012 was bustling with people of all ages and from all persuasions, gathering to celebrate one our generation’s greatest contributions to the art of storytelling and entertainment.

The beauty of the event was the lack of a unifying theme; indeed Comiccon covered all genres from comic books and graphic novels which in themselves can be subsections into numerous categories, to sci-fi, films and television programs which have achieved or are gaining fashionable status amongst the content savvy audiences.

In the long queues zigzagging around the building people were thoroughly excited, be they in their handmade elaborate costumes, or just wearing their favourite T-shirts exhibiting their leanings toward certain fictional story

The key word here is fictional, because unlike religious groups and cults these people are intelligent enough to know fully well these superheroes and supernatural beings have no connection to reality, and so they are indulging in some harmless fantasy.

Mike Mignola the creator of the comic book Hellboy, present at the Comiccon, exclusively made a drawing of his character eating a Montreal poutine, but I really don’t see a group of Montrealers now declaring faith in his prophecy and start wearing magic Hellboy underwear at gatherings eating poutine.

Even though I can imagine ancient and modern religions being born the same way as legends of superheroes, I just can’t envisage fans starting cults because of Superman, Batman or Wil Wheaton’s super bright character Wesley Crusher on Star Trek. But again, who would have thought people would believe in Mormonism and one of them could one day run for presidency of United State.

My point is that thanks to mass media and expansion of communication means, we can now safely say that the great David Finch is an artist and not a prophet, and comic books like X-Men are great fictional stimulation for our ever dreamy intellects, they are not holy books. I really think Homer would have loved to have Iliad or Odyssey in graphic novel forms, and if nobody has done it yet I want credit for the idea.   

Did you hear about people murdered over Green Lantern being portrayed as a homosexual? No, because reason is in control here; these books are telling us stories even though as outrageously unrealistic as an angel talking with a prophet, they are based on imagination and we are aware whilst losing ourselves in the pageantry.

Though I have always been against the celebrity cult, I am ashamed to say that Sir Patrick Stewart being at the Montreal Comiccon this year made me abandon my ethics and I was succumbed to the glitz and glamor of the great man. I have been watching him and following his career from Shakespeare, Star Trek: The Next Generation to Beckett’s “Waiting for Godot”, even having a recording of his appearance in the eleventh season of Frasier in 2003.

So I paid the money at the till for a photo-op with an actor I consider one of the greatest of all time. I proceeded to queue once again, in line with many fans who I felt a great deal of camaraderie with. We shared bonds that united us, least of which was choosing to take our photo taken with Patrick Stewart instead of William Shatner.

Waiting in the line, I kept thinking what would I say to the great man? Thank you for opening my eyes to Shakespeare? No, no that would be too pretentious. Thank you for Star Trek? I guessed many of my comrades in the line would say the same. Thank him for Samuel Beckett? Suffice to say I was lost for words, and so I decided to just shake his hand and thank him for everything.

When the moment of truth arrived and I was next up to meet the man, the guard told me in a stern voice: “No touching or handshakes.” And just as I was gathering my nerves to say something, the photographer said that doomed word that shall haunt me for rest of my days: “Smile!” and the photograph of me and Sir Patrick Stewart was taken without him ever knowing who I was, or how much I enjoyed his work.

On the way home, photograph in hand, I thought about how many photos with actors must have been taken that day, and how for them it is only to feel appreciated as they should be, but how for the rest of us it is a fake memento of our starry eyed, childish wish fulfilment. All I can say is that I stood next to the man I admire, hoping it gave him some reassurance that he is doing a good job, alas I think he gets that from the awards and titles he is given, and so all our adventures that day are but a memory.

Jono Doiron is an exemplary, praiseworthy artist currently working in Montreal, and I met up with him at the English Language Arts Network (ELAN) meeting where he was kind enough to speak to me about his work.   

80s popular culture is being revived in fashion and movies, how much of your work is driven by the current scene?

I actually don’t actively seek out which 80’s trends are enjoying resurgence. Whenever I’ve aligned my work with those trends, it’s mostly just been a coincidence. For instance, when I did the painting of the My Little Ponies smoking (‘Stable Vices’), the designs were based off the 80’s cartoon, not the new one. I wasn’t even aware there was a new show at the time. The fact that I was born in the 80’s, kind of instills a fondness of cartoons (and some other trends) from that era while earning me camaraderie with others of similar influence. The application of my work tends to be more derivative of the current scene: taking inspiration from street art, graffiti, illustrative styles and numerous other contemporary painters. The content of my work tends to be more influenced by the past, particularly the 80’s and 90’s.

Where do you stand on commercial art? Would you mind if your pieces were sold by stores that do not specialize in fine arts?

I don’t believe commercial art and fine art are nearly as divided as many people would believe them to be. In my opinion, as soon as art has a price tag – whether it’s an original oil painting or a plaque mount – it’s commercial art because the objective is to sell it.

What’s important to me is that my work finds the right audience, and that’s not always possible to do so in art galleries alone. Many people for whatever reason are still intimidated by art galleries or just do not have the incentive to go into them. Locally, I think businesses like Montreal Images have the right kind of focus. They do not specialize in original art, but have an obvious convergence in selling art. As with many other things, the value of something is often determined by the circumstances you discover it in. What I’m not OK with is selling my work in stores that don’t specialize in anything. I still desire to have my art shown alongside other art.   

Do you see your work as bridging the gap between illustration and painting?

Absolutely! I refer to myself as a painter and illustrator when I meet new people. My paintings are very much illustrations because they deal with narrative subject matter, and they are illustrations that just happen to be painted. The fact that my work isn’t discernibly one area or the other allows me to exist in both worlds and I enjoy that.

Do you envisage a graphic novel in your future?

I would love to produce a graphic novel in the future. It has certainly been on my mind for a long time. There are several characters I’ve developed over the years and I think bringing them into comics would be the proper medium for them. When I was younger, my ambition was actually to be a comic strip artist, but later my focus shifted to animation. I enjoy the strong emphasis on storytelling the medium offers, the tolerance for every style and that you’re only limited to what you can draw. A graphic novel is a mountain of work to produce, but when you’re finished, people can take your art along with them wherever they go and I think that’s pretty cool. The comics I enjoy the most tends to be the cartoony stuff like Uncle Scrooge, Sam & Max or the Looney Tunes or SpongeBob comics, so the book I would make would probably be something similar of that nature.  

How much of your work is autobiographical?

It’s very difficult to remove myself from my work completely. Every painting or work of art I do, whether it’s personal work or commissioned, I try to add elements of my tastes and interests. When I first started, I didn’t really have many ideas for paintings – now I have tons. The reason is I’ve accumulated more life experience since then and now have more to say and share with people. What you choose to paint speaks volumes about yourself because you’re communicating to the world something you think deserves more attention. If you choose to devote hours to making a painting, the subject matter must be important to you or you wouldn’t have bothered. 

The reason I frequently paint cartoon characters is due to both a kinship and a personal conflict. I admire them in very much the same light most people look up to celebrities, however, I’m upset by the fact they don’t actually exist and I’ll never meet them. I grew up without cable too so the only time I really got to see them was Saturday morning and ‘The Wonderful World of Disney’. I often depict them in my work as if they actually grew up with me and must now face the same tribulations we all encounter to make them more relatable.  They’ve gone through a lot of the same stuff I have. The paintings that focus on those themes tend to be the most autobiographical.

What do you say to those who say painting is dead?

Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, but I would say that is one poorly researched. Painting is a medium – not a genre, so anyone who truly believes that comment probably just hasn’t found anything that’s resonated with them yet. I would recommend that they keep looking. Not just traditional painting, but there is equally stunning work that is completely digital too. There are still plenty of people making paintings, so it’s obviously not dead.

When and where can we see your next exhibition?

Currently, I have many original paintings on display until the end of the September in a restaurant called Bistro Resto Bon Ton located in LaSalle. I am doing a ‘meet and greet’ on the evening of Wednesday September 26th. I would be happy to answer any questions about my work and encourage everyone to attend.

Mid September, I have a table at the 2012 Montreal Comic Con as well. I will be selling works ranging from original drawings, (smaller) original paintings, prints and a self published booklet of sketches. I’ll also be drawing quick sketches for people too.