Wednesday 13 October 2010

Fundamentalism Influences Photographic Art

At the week-end I came across an extraordinary partnership between a graffiti artist and a photographer that has created some disturbing images. The collaboration between photographer Carolin Becker and painter Simon Harrison was originally intended to be a commentary on how Hinduism impacts on daily life in India and the pair had travelled to Rajasthan to capture their vision of street life in Jaipur. But nine simultaneous bombings by Muslim fundamentalists in the centre of the city in 2008 altered their plans. The tragedy killed more than 60 people and the focus of their work shifted to portraying hints of death and terrorism.

The photographs were taken by Becker on the streets and outside the temples most affected by the bombs on the day of the tragedy and during the days beforehand. The original prints were then overpainted by graffiti artist Harrison using acrylic, gouache and spray-painting. It would be easy with a casual glance to think this photographic art had simply been manipulated on a computer but when I looked closer I could see the textures and sheen that can only be achieved with paint.

The image I found most compelling is of a young boy running across an open space in which Harrison has painted his shadow to show him holding an AK-47 rifle. In another image the same child is shown in the same pose carrying a large luminous cross in a skewed perspective of the religious conflict underlying the tragedy.

Becker and Harrison's aim was to portray how the lives of the adults and children in the photographs might have been affected by the bombings. This approach, in itself, by two Western artists raises disturbing questions on whether the effect on the subjects might ever be accurately conveyed and it is unclear if the subjects are even aware of their inclusion in these artworks.

Nonetheless this series of powerful artworks reminds the Western viewer that radicalism also affects the lives of those living in Third World poverty.

You can check out some of the BeckerHarrison images from their exhibition "What a Difference a day makes" at BeckerHarrison.

Monday 27 September 2010

Favourite Art Quotes

These are some of my favourite art quotes which remind me why I need art in my life.

  1. "Art is the expression of those beauties and emotions that stir the human soul" (Howard Pyle)

  2. "Art is not the bread but the wine of life" (Jean Paul Richter)

  3. "Art seems to me to be a state of soul more than anything else" (Marc Chagall)

  4. "Art evokes the mystery without which the world would not exist" (Rene Magritte)

  5. "A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art" (Paul Cézanne)

  6. "Art is not what you see, but what you make others see" (Edgar Degas)

  7. "Art does not reproduce what is visible; it makes things visible" (Paul Klee)

  8. "Art is an effort to create, beside the real world, a more human world" (Andre Maurois)

  9. "Art is long, Life is short" (Hippocrates)

  10. "Art is the most intense mode of individualism that the world has ever known" (Oscar Wilde)

Thursday 15 July 2010

Is it necessary to know the artist's inspiration to appreciate an artwork?

In many artworks the message that the artist is trying to communicate is obvious even to the uninformed viewer. Take the work of one of my favourite artists Jo Bunce. Her highly detailed approach to painting flowers needs no explanation – she simply wishes to portray the beauty of the flowers she paints.

But in many other works the viewer can appreciate the skill of the artist, find the image evocative or disturbing but may not really know what message the artist is trying to convey. This is particularly true of abstract art.

This is where some background on the artist's inspiration for a specific piece can greatly add to the appreciation of that work. By background, I do not mean the Artist's Statement that most artists seem to produce under duress and with great difficulty. I believe that the reason many artists statements sound somewhat false and stilted is because artists, by their very nature, are skilled at communicating visually. This does not always make them good communicators via words. And does a viewer or potential buyer of art really want to read all about the artist, their work, how and why they create art in the way they do?

I believe a viewer is attracted first and foremost by the image itself. Then a few sentences giving them some insight into a particular work can be used to simply enhance their enjoyment of the work.

Art is not just about creating something visually appealing but about a dialogue between the creator and the viewer. The artist communicates a message and the viewer responds emotionally. Without that dialogue a piece of art has no meaning and can it really be classed as art if it is no more than a decorative image with no meaning behind it.

Unfortunately in today's throw-away society so-called "art" with no meaning and little merit is mass-produced for the masses. Instead of being something to treasure it is often bought simply to match the décor and discarded when the décor is changed with little thought about the meanings of colour in visual art.

This is such a shame when there are so many fantastic artists producing art that can bring another dimension to a living space, provide a talking point for years to come and, yes, can also be beautiful.

Thursday 1 July 2010


Art’otel, Berlin

The Art'otel Berlin City Centre West has a permanent exhibition of over 200 signed prints and original works of art by Andy Warhol. Originals by the pop art genius hang in all of the rooms. A tour of the hotel offers guests an overview of the stages of Warhol's artistic development.

Hotel des Académies et des Arts, Paris

Semi-abstract figures by the French artist Jérôme Mesnager adorn the walls of this boutique hotel in the Latin Quarter. The artist is best known for his striking depictions of “white bodies”.

One Aldwych , London

Over 400 pieces of contemporary art and sculpture can be found at this hotel. At least one original painting hangs in each room. The collection includes work by rising stars such as Emily Young and Justine Smith as well as work by established artists such as Richard Walker.

Gallery Hotel Art, Florence

Throughout the year the hotel's public areas and the Bar and Restaurant host exhibitions of photography and contemporary art.

Hotel Estela , Sitges, Barcelona

Nine rooms at this port-side hotel have been transformed by a group of contemporary artists who include Josep Maria Subirachs, who is working on the façade of the Sagrada Familia in Barcelona.

Broomhill Art Hotel, Barnstaple, Devon

Broomhill's Sculpture Park displays one of the largest permanent collections of contemporary art and sculpture in the South West of England. A collection of 300 bronzes and stone sculptures by over 60 sculptors are sited in the 10 acres of garden.

There is also an art gallery inside, an organic restaurant and six B&B rooms.

Thursday 17 June 2010

Reasons To Buy Modern Art Prints

Are there any advantages to buying a Modern Art Print that may be produced in its thousands or tens of thousands? How can you be sure it is good-quality and how many other people will have the same picture hanging on their walls?

Any good artist will have expended huge amounts of emotional energy and physical effort in the creation of their works of art and they all want as many people as possible to appreciate and get enjoyment out of seeing their work on display. One way to make this possible is by the production of art prints.

Art Prints are now widely available in a range of styles, colours and quality - they make good art inexpensive and, therefore, available to a much wider audience than had previously been possible. Producing Art Prints has become a standard part of many artists' careers for this very reason. Prints are produced of the works of, probably all, of the great artists of history and many renowned contemporary artists. Whilst a mass-produced art print is no substitute for original works of art, or even Limited Edition Art Prints, they do provide a way to enjoy a piece of exceptional art in your own home when you are on a limited budget.

Art connoisseurs are very likely to sneer at mass-produced art prints but a print of a great work of art on the walls is preferable to having bare walls. A print of a great masterpiece or a contemporary classic can still be appreciated to a certain extent and can certainly bring joy and beauty to a living space.

Furthermore, current trends in art buying are becoming more and more associated with the decorative merit of a piece rather than collecting art for its own appeal. Many buyers simply want art to match their decor. It is a shame that art can be reduced to a purely decorative home accessory to be replaced when the room décor changes. But an artist, obviously, benefits from the sale of prints as they help to establish or increase the artist's reputation as more of their works become known to the art–buying public.

And just because something is mass-produced that doesn't necessarily mean it is poor-quality. Advances in technology mean that many Contemporary Art Prints now produced digitally are far superior prints to the traditional lithographs used in the past. Up to date printing processes can result in an image that has richness and depth of colour so, even if the resolution is not the greatest and the lifespan of the print is relatively short, at least the image itself can be appreciated if only for a short while.