Category: Art shows, art collecting & more

Venice biennial 2017:  a crappy show with rave reviews

If you regret that you haven’t seen the show yet, don’t. Venice Biennale 2017 is monumental on concept and degraded on visuals, heavy on installations, and weak on any form of painting, huge on scale and tiny on emotion. Chief curator of the Pompidou center in Paris, Christine Macel  has arranged the exhibition in a number of pavilions -realms which flow together with concept art titled “Viva arte Viva!”

While paid entrance to the biennale invites you to visit vast spaces of the Arsenale and the Giardini, a number of other pavilions are scattered throughout Venice in medieval palazzos with gardens with free entrance and somewhat better art. Regardless the location, each pavilion usually represents a single country with its native artists showing off their talent to the multilingual public.

9 chapters or realms, 86 countries, 120 artists- a single feeling of confusion. The show opens up with large-scale installations situated between a long stretch of bare, tall brick halls of the Arsenale (medieval Venetian warehouse for arms and boats).

Karla Black abstract sculptures

 

Venice biennial 2017: the Arsenale

Overall, the show is missing on making a powerful statement simply because the visuals fall far behind the heavy concept. Boring to the eyes and craftsy at best, the viewer has to read lengthy statements in provided brochures to “get” the idea behind the pieces. To install such exhibition in Venice is like to bring a first-grader to perform a concerto. Venice overflows with art and history, while the biennial rejects any slightest idea of having representational art on its grounds. The exception is the Venetian pavilion itself that defies the curator’s voice with sparkling jewelry, chandeliers, gowns and sophisticated glass that highlights artist’s labor and skill.

A woman’s head is picking out from a hole in the floor with piles of clothes arranged in a circle.

The Romanian Pavilion

Like in a fairy-tale about the naked king, fooling of people takes place in the exhibition stating what they see is ART.  Rooms after rooms visitors encounter piles of materials, fabric, metals or abstract sculptures, that often have profound meaning expressed through riveting writing. However these endless primitive installations and videos leave the spectators  confused on what ART signifies or how artful it really is.

First, art exists to bring our attention to something, to make a statement, or to leave a record of times lived. Curated as apolitical and without a clear message, the biennial misses to deliver on any of these points.

The German Pavilion

More rooms

Second, Visual arts are called visual for a reason. Because the artist’s call to attention and its impact is visual, conceptual art rarely leaves considerable emotional impact. Even when the concept is heavy, it’s weakened by the absence of the visual perception we all possess. Therefore, such installations should get a specific classification and not get mixed up or promoted as great ART. Such notion lowers and even abolishes any standard for an artist to aspire to, and for people to learn to understand or appreciate. Why did we keep high standard in music or dance and completely abolished the one in art? It’s not the absence of artists willing to travel years in education to achieve something worthwhile of people’s attention, it’s about few art critics and curators, influential art shakers who pick and choose, add and subtract – curate according to their tastes, business practice and economic whims.

 

The pavilion of Shamans

Art installations that catch attention

On the upside, the exhibition is gender-even, nationality-diverse, with the majority of the unknown artists representing both influential and obscure countries.

There are a few art installations at the main complex of the biennale that caught my eye, making a statement.

The Zimbabwe Pavilion
Zimbabwe pavilion
The Russian pavilion
Russian Pavilion: Change of Decorum. Growing aggression, terror, irrational life of people, control and manipulation of masses are the themes of the art installation with drones, people, soldiers and androids living in the “transparent world.”

The Chile Pavilion
Artist Bernardo Oyarzun explores the theme of the current representation of the Mapuche community, a group of indigenous inhabitants of southcentral Chile and southwestern Argentina. Dark room features an installation of over 1,000 Mapuche kollong masks, traditionally used in ceremonies. Note that 40 Mapuche artisans produced these handmade masks commissioned by the artist who installed them in the pavilion.
The Argentinean Pavilion
Claudia Fontes, The Horse Problem
“Making art is not a luxury. It’s a way of surviving that humans as a species have developed: we are, so far as we know, the only group of living beings capable of calling the attention of others to the meaning of life. That’s something to celebrate.” – Claudia Fontes
Other rooms

The Mongolian Pavilion

The Venetian Pavilion

Official website of the Venice Biennial 2017: www.labiennale.org

Art off the biennial in Venice

A nice surprise is a solo show by Carole A. Feuerman situated in a peaceful corner of a green garden at the Giardino Della Marinaressa, by the Venice Biennale (open and free to the public). The artist makes hyper-realistic, life-size sculptures of women in painted bronze and steel, resin and oil that look so life-like, you just want to reach out and touch the sculptures!

Kendall Island, lacquer on bronze, life-size sculpture

 

Project by Lorenzo Quinn on the Grand Canal in Venice. His monumental sculpture of white hands raises awareness about the climate change and the rising sea levels.

Art off of the biennial: street art in Italy

I must mention the performance that I saw on the streets of Turin. A young man pounded the keys of an old typewriter with rare obsession. Here is one of his finished pieces.

The artwork made using an old type writer.

veronica winters artist

 

Dali art: surrealism & symbolism at the museum in St. Petersburg

Dali art

Art is not created in vacuum. It forms as a product of cultural, economic and emotional upbringing of the artist. Dali’s inner world is vast and complex, and his symbols become the hints to discovering and understanding the artist’s true nature, his mind and soul. Almost every artist begins his journey at the same Start line. Dali sets himself on a path with the desire to learn painting, lacking the super powers. The Dali museum in St. Petersburg divides the art collection into several sections from his early works and anti-art to surrealism, nuclear mysticism, and masterworks. Housed in a sunlit, modern building, the show begins with his very early paintings he completes at the 13 years of age.

Early Dali art may shatter your perception of someone’s talent. It doesn’t look great. Dali early paintings show different styles and influences, mainly borrowing from the French impressionists and Fauvism.

Dali art
Dali early works: his self-portrait and a portrait of his aunt

 

dali artwork basket of bread
Dali, the basket of bread. | Here we can see that the artist masters the classical approach to painting that opens him up to the development of his own style and subject matter.

Dali art styles & symbolism

Artistic styles

Dali (1904-1989) is the most notorious surrealist artist. His artwork has been one of my major influences for many years, mostly because the artist is able to express his psyche in visual terms so well, painting the melting life inside him that goes far beyond his dream state. With remarkable skill, he renders tiny details on small panels and huge canvases alike. In his work, Dali elongates the natural forms and de-personifies people with sightless, stretched or egg-like faces. He scatters the symbols throughout his paintings, and turns the rational world upside down with his vivid, barren landscapes of complex stories.

Deeply influenced by S. Freud’s work “The Interpretation of Dreams,” Spanish artist explores the irrational and his dreams in the beginning of his professional career. The surrealists rejected the rational mind, horrified by the rootlessness of the world war I, and explored the irrational instead. Although Dali is the best-known surrealist in the group, not many of us know that the artist breaks away from the surrealist movement due to some irreconcilable differences steeped in social and political views. The museum in St.Pete explains that Dali didn’t like the surrealists’ ideas of commune living and sharing, and his desire for self-promotion and individuality led him to part with the movement in a decade after he first joined the group in 1929. But at that time the artist gets fascinated with the optical illusions, creating his double image paintings, challenging our perception of rational and irrational.

Dali is a notorious artist who is able to redefine himself and his mission after leaving the surrealists and entering the times of abstraction and subjectivity. He brands himself as a classical artist who loves Renaissance and aims to infuse his art with spirituality and classical ideals, unlike the abstract painters of his generation. He comes up with a new term the “nuclear mysticism,” and begins to paint huge canvases filled with the universal subjects, religious and historical themes. Influenced by the advances in science and technology, Dali’s late works (1949-1989) transform the surrealism style into monumental optical illusions, historical symbolism and the reverence for the universal. Besides having a number of solo shows in Spain and America, in 1974 he opens up his own museum in Figueres, Spain to house his art.

Symbolism

Art is not created in vacuum. It forms as a product of cultural, economic and emotional upbringing of the artist. Dali’s inner world is vast and complex, and his symbols become the hints to discovering and understanding the artist’s true nature, his mind and soul. Through his art Dali reveals many of his fears, such as his sexual fear of women and his intense relationship with his short-tempered father. Dali also had a brother. Also named Salvador, he died as a toddler less than a year before Dali’s birth. This family tragedy was deeply embedded within the artist’s psychic and affected his perception of himself. Numerous surrealist paintings project the artist’s sexual anxieties in his self-portraits with soft, stretched heads and figures.

In his paintings, Dali often explores the authoritarian rule of his father during the surrealist period, depicting his father faceless and indifferent. The artist also paints small, father-and-son figures representing former closeness. Small, distant figures give a feeling of warm memories the artist longs for. The surrealist landscapes often have the airless, orange-yellow glow that contrast the dark blue sky sky and the mountains.

One of the main subjects for Dali is women. He often depicts women deformed, stretched or as the cut-out figures during the surrealist period. He often depicts his nanny as an old figure with a cut out body supported by the crutches.  Women often turn their faces away from the viewer to conceal the artist’s emotions towards women. In his late works women become Venuses, saints and symbols of female beauty for the artist.

During the surrealist period, Dali paints elongated figures supported by the crutches. The crutches represent a fear of impotence, death. In his work, rotting, limping bodies suggest the horrors of wars.

Ants and flies are symbols of death and decay, decomposing the pray.

Roses represent female beauty and sexuality.

Venus represents female love and beauty.

Melting watch represents the fluidity of time. The “Persistence of memory” is influenced by the discovery of the atomic energy and the sub-atomic world. Dali breaks the word into rational sub elements where Time stops limiting us. The image of the melting clock came to the artist after seeing a piece of cheese melting under the sun.

Melting, broken eggs are symbols of memories in the mother’s womb.

Keys represent unlocking the unconscious mind.

Piano represents a fond memory of summer concerts at the beach, and a scary memory of books his father placed on the piano that had the illustrations of the sexually transmitted diseases (St.Pete museum reference)

 

Gala: Dali’s muse & promoter

Dali was a tireless self-promoter. Together with his Russian-born wife and manager – Gala (Elena Ivanovna Diakonova) they worked on connections, marketing, and new job opportunities for the artist. Dali might not have achieved his fame during his lifetime, if he and his wife didn’t pursue those relationships. The couple lived between the U.S. and Europe, while Dali not only painted and exhibited his work in galleries, but also worked on his jewelry, opera sets and costume design. He also contributed to the art scene with his book writing, numerous illustrations, holograms production, and the creation of the dream-like sequences for Hitchcock’s film Spellbound. 

It’s interesting to see how close Dali and Gala were, how she influenced the artist, and how strong their partnership was despite their open marriage arrangements. Considerably older and not a striking beauty, Gala captured Dali’s heart at once when they first met in 1929. She quickly began an affair with Dali, and became his life-long muse. Gala divorced her husband, French poet and one of the founders of the surrealists, Paul Eluard to marry Dali.

We can recognize Gala’s face in many of his paintings where she models for the artist both clothed and nude.  Gala becomes a symbol of female perfection for the artist. In the Dali museum at St.Pete you see Gala in a double painting of “Lincoln” and as virgin Mary in “Columbus.”

Dali dies in 1989 after receiving the international acclaim with the retrospective shows in Germany, Spain, U.S.A, Holland, England, and Japan. Almost every artist begins his journey at the same Start line, but not everyone gets to the finish line. As artists, we go through several developmental stages, and only the persistent ones win. Dali succeeds threefold.

The Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL

Below you’ll find some of the Dali artworks shown at the Dali museum in St. Pete.

“Archaeological reminiscence of Millet’s Angelus” is an important surrealist painting for Dali. Inspired by the original of Millet, Dali saw this painting as a reproduction during his childhood and its figures haunted the artist for life. Dali paints his version of Angelus depicting two primordial people, male and female. We also see Dali twice in this painting as a boy with his father in the center and with his nanny at the bottom of the figure. The primordial couple symbolizes human relationship and destruction, showing the deforming, anguished figures set in a melancholic, colorful landscape. His painting projects an intense feeling of loneliness, loss and inevitability.

 

Dali artwork
Dali surrealist work (see the symbolism section for the descriptions).

 

dali artwork
“Slave market with the disappearing bust of Voltaire,” 1940 shows us two images. In this double painting we see a bust of Voltaire as the symbol of reason hiding within the two female figures in the slave market. Here Dali argues that we’re enslaved to rationality, while the artist tries to open up a different channel for our perception, painting the irrational dreams and the unconscious. Dali suggests that the rational mind can’t always lead us to the truth. What do you see?

 

Dali artwork Lincoln
Dali, the portrait of Abraham Lincoln, see the description below.

 

Dali late artworks
Late works: “The Ecumenical Council” shows Dali in the left corner and Gala as St.Helena. She connects the artist with the spiritual world above. Influenced by Velasquez, the artist paints on a huge scale with the monumental themes of science, history and religion.

 

 

dali artwork nuclear mysticism
In his late works, Dali paints optical illusions on a monumental scale. #1 the double image painting shows “Gala contemplating the Mediterranean sea which at twenty meters becomes the portrait of Abraham Lincoln.” Gala is a symbol of perfection and the Lincoln’s head with the crucifix give references to death and the fleeting nature of beauty. #2 “The discovery of America by Christopher Columbus” shows the vast discoveries of humanity as well as Dali as an explorer. He paints Columbus as a young man stepping out to a  new world. #3 “The Hallucinogenic Toreador” depicts Venus 33 times. The goddess of love and beauty, the second figure hides a Toreador face within her body. The toreador represents masculinity, a boy represents and artist, and a dying bull shows death. The bust of Voltaire symbolizes reason, and at the top left we see Gala’s face again. This painting represents Desire and Death.

 

The Dali museum in St. Petersburg, FL

The Dali museum houses a pretty vast, once private art collection of A. Reynolds and Eleanor Morse. They started their Dali collection in 1943. In 1982 the Dali museum in St. Pete was inaugurated. They simply ran out of wall space and decided to build a museum to gift their art collection to the public. What’s amazing to see here is how many artworks they acquired from one artist that included both huge canvases and tiny pieces, all of which hung in their house in Cleveland.

I recommend to sign up for the virtual tour of one of the Dali’s paintings on the 3d floor (free with admission). It’s really fun. Also, download the museum’s app that guides you through the collection. Check out their special events schedule and evenings at the museum.

Official websites: St.Petersburg http://thedali.org/ and Spain https://www.salvador-dali.org/

 

dali quote

 

veronica winters artist

 

frida kahlo art st petersburg

Frida Kahlo Art in St. Petersburg

Frida Kahlo endured 34 operations in her 47 years. She lived a life haunted by her tragedy, painting her pain. Sometimes I ask myself what if she didn’t go through a horrific accident at 18, would she still paint her pain and not some other inner problem in her life? Moreover, if she didn’t spend so much time in bed, would she become a great artist technically? The show seems a bit small but well-presented. It summarizes Frida’s relationship with her art, her famed husband Diego Rivera, and her pain.

“The Broken column,” 1944

Every aspect of Frida’s life is set against her pain. And lots of it. Surreal paintings and a few drawings focus on the breaking point in her life, the car-train accident. A broken metal handrail pierced through her pelvis that led Frida into a dark place of endless suffering, surgeries and miscarriages for many years to come. She documents her suffering on small canvases, often painting in bed.

After many surgeries, Frida spent lots of time in bed, refused to eat, and became very weak. Frida was forced to eat food through a funnel to recover that she illustrates as torture in this painting.

Frida’s art is highly symbolic and powerful despite the obvious lack of technical skill. She explores the symbols of her dreams just like French surrealists. Frida also saves herself from endless suffering by painting symbolic pictures that represent her thoughts. We encounter her husband Diego, blood, fetuses, bed, and animals.

For example, in this painting the artist documents the pain of her miscarriage with 6 symbols: the lifeless fetus, her pelvis, the snail pace of recovery, the fragile tulip, the medical machine, and some anatomical structure, illustrating the nature of her problem.

 

In the show we also see a number of pages taken from her childhood journal. Tight sentences fill in the pages with stories and doodles where we can see Frida’s desire to travel across time and space creatively.

Below you see a sketch of her accident.

 

Frida’s art is her self-portraits. By comparing her paintings to the black-and-white pictures, I think she paints herself too masculine with a hint for dark mustache and her signature arching eyebrow that looks like a wing. While nude or semi-nude artist appears serious, or even cries in her self-portraits, Frida’s photographs show the artist dressed colorfully, and even with some noticeable flare. She wears long skirts, shawls, jewelry, and the real flowers put in her hair that all point at her girly, untouched by the inner sorrow cheerful personality. 

“A few small nips,” 1935.” When Diego had slept with her younger sister, Frida began to have her own affairs. Inspired or perhaps traumatized by the newspaper’s crime report, the artist paints a horrific crime scene showing blood and stabbing of a woman. The blood spills on the frame as well. The museum interprets the artwork’s symbolism as stabbing infidelities of Diego.

We tend to idealize people once they pass away, give them heroic qualities and subdue their pitfalls. In this show I wished to see the subtle layers of her personality that I couldn’t pick up from her art. Did she feel like a victim who suffered and longed for pity from people around her? Or did she consider herself a hero who overcame her physical and emotional struggles? Did she have any considerable friends who supported her artistic purpose besides Diego? Why did she stay with Rivera despite his countless infidelities? Was it love or weakness? In her art and photographs we see Diego almost too often, and not enough of her surroundings or people who may have helped her heal.

 

The art show is up at the Dali museum in St.Pete till mid. April. I recommend downloading the museum’s app that guides you through the exhibition, making it memorable. http://thedali.org/

 Copyright: All images were taken from the art show at the Dali museum. 

.

 

art Basel: context art miami

Context Art Miami 2016: video paintings and flexible paper sculptures

Being a realist painter, contemporary shows like Context Art Miami rarely captivate me. There is plenty of weird work shown under the pretense of being great ART. A lot of it is not, in my opinion. I think it’s difficult to create a good work of art whether it’s abstract or realist, or somewhere in between. What excited me about this show, however, were two things: video paintings and flexible paper sculptures.

In this short video you’ll see some innovative works – video paintings by Daniel Cherbuin and flexible paper sculptures by the Chinese artist Li Hongbo. Enjoy!