Tuesday, July 26, 2011

New DVD from Ignat Ignatov

Pre-orders are now being taken for artist Ignat Ignatov's first instructional oil-painting DVD, Portrait Painting - Glowing Rim Light.  The 2 hour step-by-step lesson follows Ignatov as he paints a 16" X 20" alla prima portrait of a young girl shoulder-lit with strong, warm light coming through her hair.  Shipping is scheduled for the end of next month, and US buyers who order before August 27th will automatically be entered in a drawing to win a same-size giclée of the finished painting.  For more information, and to place your order ($65+shipping), please visit Ignatov's website and click on the heading "DVD."


Monday, July 25, 2011

Slow Art

Sadie Valeri  -  Undersea  -  15¾ X 20 in., oil on panel
Sadie Valeri, who considers herself a slow painter, attains a high level of detail in her paintings from life
that can only come from many hours of observation and hard work.

Previously, I have mentioned Australian-born art critic Robert Hughes on Underpaintings because of several comments he has made about Modern Artists such as Damien Hirst.  Though I don't always agree with the choices Hughes makes as to who is worthy and who is not in 20th Century Art, many of his remarks on the current state of art are astute, and are also most welcome from a person with his cultural influence.

If you have not yet had a chance to see his 2009 International Emmy Award-winning documentary, The Mona Lisa Curse, it is definitely worth seeking out.

Slow Art film via John Jude Palencar at Muddy Colors.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Tennyson Anyone?

"Down she came and found a boat
Beneath a willow left afloat,
And around the prow she wrote
The Lady of Shalott."

 In 2009, in celebration of the bicentennial of Alfred, Lord Tennyson's birth, Britain's WAG Screen group created several short films about one of Tennyson's most beloved ballads, The Lady of Shalott. One of these films focussed on a visual retelling of the story, and when the filmmakers sought imagery from which to draw inspiration, they naturally turned to the Pre-Raphaelite painters who had previously illustrated the work.  Of the many treatments of Tennyson's lengthy poem, it was John William Waterhouse's iconic image from 1888 which influenced their depiction the most. 

"The mirror crack'd from side to side;
'The curse is come upon me,' cried
The Lady of Shalott."

"She loosed the chain, and down she lay"

Actress Victoria Rigby as Elaine of Astolat, The Lady of Shalott

"Lying, robed in snowy white"

During Queen Victoria's reign (1837-1901), England enjoyed significant growth and prosperity.  This led to a Nationalistic pride, and British subjects found themselves more deeply interested in their own history and culture.  Tennyson's works, such as the Idylls of the King and the related Lady of Shalott, centered on the romantic British mythos of King Arthur and his Court¹, and this was exactly for which the public was clamoring.  The popularity of his writing earned Tennyson the appointment of Poet Laureate in 1850, from which position he continued to promulgate the Victorian ideals of courtly love and honor through parallels between contemporary society and Britain's past, albeit legendary, glory.

Filmmakers and costumers also drew inspiration from Waterhouse's 1915 painting,
 "I am Half-Sick of Shadows," Said the Lady of Shalott.

Actor Ben Poole as Alfred, Lord Tennyson, giving a reading of The Lady of Shalott in another of
WAG Screen's short films.

Pauline Loven created the costumes for Tennyson Bicentennial  films.  Her costuming company, The Orchard House Wardrobe, is now the official wardrobe department for Crow's Eye Productions, the professional filming company which recorded the scenes for WAG Screen in Lincolnshire.  To learn more about Ms. Loven, please visit her blog, Period Wardrobe.

To order the DVD ($22.50 USD + S/H), please visit the WAG Store.  Currently, 50% of sales are going to help the family of American blogger Stephanie Piña, who is facing mounting medical bills after her husband suffered serious injury in a motorcycle accident.  Visit the Pre-Raphaelite Sisterhood blog for more information.

The entire ballad by Loreena McKennitt can be purchased on iTunes.

¹ Tennyson based his writings on Sir Thomas Mallory's Le Morte d'Arthur, a compilation of British and French legends.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Right Here: New Maine Island Paintings
by Alexandra Tyng

Sister Lights, oil on linen, 54" X 40"

From August 5th through August 28th, the Dowling Walsh Gallery in Maine will be hosting a solo exhibition by Philadelphian artist, Alexandra Tyng.  The show, titled  Right Here: New Maine Island Paintings, will feature over 30 works by the artist, celebrating the scenery and people of Mt. Desert, Monhegan, and Indian Islands.  For Tyng, who has spent summers in Maine since childhood, this is a very special show, and she went to great lengths to prepare this exhibition in a new and interesting manner.

Lighthouse Day, oil on linen, 34" X 48"

Star at the Edge, oil on linen, 34" X 42"

Paintings and Cocktails, oil on linen, 28" X 52"

Early Morning Callers, oil on linen, 22" X 22"

The Squall, oil on linen, 24" X 40"

"The exhibit will be organized in terms of progressions," explains Tyng, "from far away to close up to far away, etc., so as viewers move around the gallery, they first see a general location from the air, then gradually hone in on an area until a particular place is revealed, then they move farther and farther away from the place until another aerial view shows another more inclusive perspective. The cycle then begins again as viewers move around the gallery.  I hope it will reveal the way I think about hierarchies of scale and the discovery of places where people live - places that are insignificant when seen on a large scale from above, but special when they are experienced up close."

Back to the Lakes, oil on linen, 38" X 62"

Elemental Balance, oil on linen, 46" X 42"

Before the Woods, oil on linen, 22" X 40"

Reclining Light, oil on linen, 24" X 36"

The Aladdin Lamp, oil on linen, 20" X 30"

Carl Little, author of The Watercolors of John Singer Sargent and of a variety of books on the art of the Northeast, including Edward Hopper's New England, provides the essay for the accompanying catalog to Tyng's show.  In it, he states, “. . .Alexandra Tyng is equally comfortable—and accomplished—in landscape and portraiture, which makes her something of a rarity among contemporary artists.  She even dares to combine the two, setting figures in her views, inviting us to consider how person and place fit together (and they do, splendidly). . . . To move from the expansive to the intimate and back again makes for a distinctive visual experience.”

Surf and Calm, oil on linen, 10" X 15"

Lakeside Knitting, oil on linen, 24" x 36"

Morning Sun over Monhegan Village, oil on linen, 26" X 46"

Artists on Cadillac, oil on linen, 14" X 18"

The Porcupines from Cadillac, oil on linen, 28" X 42"

Overlook, oil on linen, 40" X 30"

The Dowling Walsh Gallery is located at 357 Main Street in Rockland, Maine.  The opening reception for Tyng's show will be August 5th, from 5:00 to 8:00 PM.  To see more images of the artist's work from the exhibit, please visit the gallery's website.

Jet Streams, oil on linen, 34" X 72"

Afternoon Ferry, oil on linen, 26" X 40"

Monday, July 18, 2011

In Memoriam: Claudio Bravo (1936-2011)

Chilean-born, hyper-realist painter, Claudio Nelson Bravo Camus, died this past June 4th at his home in Taroudant, Morocco.  He was 74.  Though initial claims indicated that the artist had passed away due to complications from an epileptic seizure, Mr. Bravo's assistant later reported that his employer had been seeing a cardiac specialist in Paris, and that Bravo's death was the result of two massive heart attacks.¹

Although the young Bravo had taken some private art classes with academic painter Miguel Venegas Cifuentes, he was mainly a self-taught artist.  By the age of seventeen, Bravo had his first exhibition at the prestigious Salón 13 in his hometown of Valparaíso, and after a sojourn dancing with Compañia de Ballet de Chile and acting at the Teatro Ensayo of the Catholic University of Chile, he moved to Concepción where he became a well sought-after portrait painter.

In 1961, he moved to Madrid and continued to work as a portraitist to high society.  During the following decade, he painted many famous and powerful people, including the daughter of General Francisco Franco while in Spain, and Ferdinand and Imelda Marcos during a trip to the Philippines.

"I don't want to betray myself. I have a very special talent to copy the reality, and I have tried many times to do another kinds of painting, but my friends - great painters - told me "don't be mad, you have a gift from Heaven which nobody else has."  I copy a different reality, I re-invent it, just follow my gifts. Why would I betray myself by doing another kind of painting and following the others? I like being myself, not being like anyone else, so the only way is following the gifts that God gave me.  I paint reality, and as it's full of mistakes that I don't like, I correct it."²

During this period, Bravo also began painting his images of highly-detailed, wrapped packages, tied up with twine.  It was these paintings which earned Bravo a favorable comparison to the Color-Field painters such as Mark Rothko, and a favorable review from the renowned New York Times art critic, John Canaday, who saw Bravo's paintings at an exhibition in New York City in 1970.  Though these paintings were hyper-real in execution, Bravo did not follow the example set forth by the Photorealists who worked from photographic reference;  Bravo worked solely from life.  "Always," said Bravo in a 2001 magazine interview, "I have relied on the actual subject matter, because the eye sees so much more than the camera:  half tones, shadows, minute changes in the color or light."³

On a visit to Tangier in 1972, Bravo fell in love with Morocco.  He said he was "fascinated by the composition of things in the country," and was "mesmerized by the use of color in every day life."⁴  He adopted Morocco as his new home, and inspired by his new surroundings, began expanding his subject matter, devoting more time to allegories, landscapes, and the usage of a brighter color palette.

Although Bravo worked during a period when the opinion of Realist Art was at its nadir, the popularity of his particular paintings made him extremely prosperous. "The success of my pictures exceeds all my dreams," said Bravo.  "I never thought that I was going to be so famous, so expensive. I never thought that I was going to have presidents, kings and ministers knocking at my door."⁵  This financial success freed the artist to choose his own subject matter, and only take the commissions which interested him.  It also enabled the artist to live like the royalty he painted, maintaining an apartment in New York City and three palaces in Morocco. 

Works by Claudio Bravo are included in the collections of El Museo del Barrio, New York, the Baltimore Museum of Art, Baltimore, Maryland; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, New York; Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Santiago, Chile; Museo Rufino Tamayo, Mexico City, Mexico; Museum Boymans-van Beuningen, Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Museum of Modern Art, New York, New York; Museum Ludwig, Cologne, Germany; The Palmer Museum of Art, State College, Pennsylvania; and the Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.⁶

"My contribution to art is doing the best works that I can do. I think that nowadays artists don't work but improvise, they buy an object, turn it over and that turns out to be an sculpture! I think that the only example that I can set to the young artists is first-class working, I'm a hard-working man."⁷


¹artdaily.org, "A Master of Light and Shadows, Chilean Painter Claudio Bravo, Has Died at Age 74," retrieved July 18, 2011 from {www.artdaily.org/index.asp?int_sec=2&int_new=48038}.
²Ana María De Aguirre, "Arte Al Limite:  Claudio Bravo - Confessions of a Bourgeois Painter," retrieved July 18, 2011 from {www.artfacts.net/index.php/pageType/newsinfo/newsID/3252/lang/1}.
³William Grimes, "Claudio Bravo, Chilean Artist, Dies at 74," retrieved July 18, 2011 from {www.nytimes.com/2011/06/13/arts/claudio-bravo-artist-who-blended-hyperrealism-and-classical-elements-dies-at-74.html?_r=1}.
MoroccoBoard.com, "Hyperrealist, Painter Claudio Bravo Died in Morocco," retrieved July 18, 2011 from {www.moroccoboard.com/news/5274-hyperrealist-painter-claudio-bravo-died-in-morocco}.
⁵De Aguirre, op. cit..
MoroccoBoard.com, op. cit..
⁷De Aguirre, op. cit..