Friday, July 24, 2009

#7 by Jasper de Beijer
I found this artist recently on the MCA Denver website and I was quite impressed. I am a fan of super-imposed and super-realistic art. The Horse in this piece is exploded by the bomb which is shown beautifully. It contradicts itself because we see death but also beauty. The horse almost has some grace of being a hero in its attempt of escaping the explosion. Nevertheless, the sophisticated technology of man has once again overcome nature. I also find the inspiration and background of Beijer relevant to this painting.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Neo Rauch

Die Fuge
Oil on canvas



Oil on canvas
I came across Neo Rauch and found him pertinent to my blog and also quite interesting. I see that in his work he sends a gamut of underlying and hidden messages regarding the cold war, communism, tensions between east and west germany and politics. I liked his Paranoia painting as it successfully captured that feeling. The tension of the people, the uncertainty in the poise and position. They appear to be planning but are vigilant of the outside which has disturbed them. I also find that the colors create this tense atmoshphere and shape the uneasiness that exists. The birhgt colors of yellow, green and light blue contrast with the dark color of the door which creates a balance among the two sides, even though the door is only a minimal part of the painting. Thus, it is called paranoia, the smallest things can sometimes create the greatest fear.

The second piece, titled Die Fuge, is a powerful piece. Translated (not sure about this) Die Fuge means music or a music composition principle. I am having some trouble concluding what this painting is exactly about but I presume that Neo Rauch reveals the conflict and distress of authorotative production. It seems that the men in red are causing a lot of the conflict in the scene and are physically ripping the earth apart. Perhaps Rauch wants the viewer to see how any authority figure can destroy a beautiful landscape.

Visiting the MCA, I found Damien Hirst to spark my interest. I was paticularly interested in the Saint Sebastian, Exquisite Pain, 2007. It made me question the artwork...what does it mean and why? Damien Hirst does presents death as a central theme but I could not express any emotion for this piece of art. It was simply too cold, too callous and too technical. Perhaps this was the intention of Damien show the emptiness of death and the abscence of emotion. I also included some other works to show examples of his work.

television the drug of the nation

Thanks to Chris for finding this clip! I was excited to find this because it is exactly what I wanted research. Television is the drug of the nation. What purpose does it serve? Entertainment, propaganda, marketing/advertising and as a news source? I agree with three of those. As paranoid as this sounds but the news is controlled and it is monitored. Sort of like 1984, Big Brother is always watching and evermore controlling what you watch. How does this relate to art? Well if television is perhaps the most popular news source and it is controlled, our definition or appeal to art may be skewed. Notice how Middle-eastern art is not mentioned too often in the American media while European art and artists are quite popular. Stay tuned...more to come.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

through song...

Another form of art is music...I recently found this song that I found interesting in relation to war, propaganda and ignorance.

Capital G:

I pushed a button and elected him to office and a
He pushed a button and it dropped a bomb
You pushed a button and could watch it on the television
Those motherfuckers didn't last too long ha ha
I'm sick of hearing 'bout the haves and the have nots
Have some personal accountability
The biggest problem with the way that we've been doing things is
The more we let you have the less that I'll be keeping for me

Well I used to stand for something
Now I'm on my hands and knees
Traded in my God for this one
He signs his name with a Capital G

Don't give a shit about the temperature in Guatemala
Don't really see what all the fuss is about
Ain't gonna worry bout no future generations and a
I'm sure somebody's gonna figure it out
Don't try to tell how some power can corrupt a person
You haven't had enough to know what it's like
You're only angry 'cause you wish you were in my position
Now nod your head because you know that I'm right�all right!

Well I used to stand for something
But forgot what that could be
There's a lot of me inside you
Maybe you're afraid to see

Well I used to stand for something
Now I'm on my hands and knees
Traded in my God for this one
He signs his name with a Capital G

I think this song successfully shows how power makes manipulation and control so easy to have. We look up to the authority figures but sometimes forget to criticize them since believing is also much easier to have than revolt.

On War and Baudrillard

Jean Baudrillard presents several interesting points when defining what war is. In his essays, "The Gulf War Will not take Place", "The Gulf War is not Taking Place" and "The Gulf War Did Not Take Place", Baudrillard contends that the Gulf War was not a war that can be defined by traditional meanings of the word "war", but rather it was a situation of violence created by "a masquerade of information: branded faces delivered over to the prostitution of the image, the image of an unintelligible distress" (Baudrillard). He points out that the images of war were recycled repeatedly to portray war and no real hand-to-hand combat occurred. At first, it seems ridiculous to fake a war but if you really think about it, faking a war would be relatively easy.

Since most of us do not travel to places of conflict regularly, we do have rely on other sources of information, such as TV, internet and the newspaper. All of these sources inform us of current world issues and include photographs that legitimize their reporting. However, how do we know that the information is truly valid and if the photographs are not staged? Unless you travel to Iraq on a regular basis and see it for yourself, the sources of media could be easily manipulated. Thus, the so-called war could be just an illusion meant for other purposes. If photography could be manipulated to be used as forms of propaganda then can art serve purposes other than inspiring creative thinking and expressionism?...I think so. Art is a very powerful form of sending information, controlling this form means having control of the audience if that audience chooses to believe it.

While looking at war photography, I could not help but notice Vietnam. Probably the first war in human history that has been dramatically changed by photography and film. Once the cruel images came to the United States, protests and scandal scrutinized the war.
One photo in particular grabbed my attention. The photo on the left shows: "police chief General Nguyễn Ngọc Loan executing a Vietcong prisoner, Nguyễn Văn Lém, on a Saigon street, on February 1, 1968, during the opening stages of the Tet Offensive" ( It is a powerful photo that captures the brutality and atrocity of war by presenting how even execution is done in such a animalistic manner. However, I have to question this photo and all of war photography because while the camera captures the physical reality (objects that are real to the sense such as touch, smell and vision), the photographs could be staged for specific purposes. "Capturing the moment" is most difficult aspect of a photographer's job, then how do we know that what he has captured is not staged or fake. This brings me to the issue of what is real in war and what war exactly is. We all have our idea of war, but is there a definitive answer to the question: What is war?
On Nguyen Ngoc Loan and his famous photograph, Adams wrote in Time:

The general killed the Viet Cong; I killed the general with my camera. Still photographs are the most powerful weapon in the world. People believe them; but photographs do lie, even without manipulation. They are only half-truths. ... What the photograph didn't say was, 'What would you do if you were the general at that time and place on that hot day, and you caught the so-called bad guy after he blew away one, two or three American people?

Sunday, July 5, 2009

simply incredible

This photograph, by Robert Capa, is one of the most renowned moments captured on photograph. It shows the image of a Spanish soldier the instant he is dropped by a bullet through the head in front of Córdoba. The photograph is incredibly powerful since it has caught the precise moment of death, something not many photographers can do. It captures the brutality and violence of war and shows the terrible ways people die. The photograph is intense, it shows you the struggle of the soldier at the very moment the bullet enters his head. It illustrates that death is now in control and the soldier is no more. I am stunned by this photograph because it precisely shows what death is and what death looks like. On the other hand is oversimplifies death and warfare because we only see one man out of thousands who have died in the same war, capturing the image of all the soldiers’ deaths…now that is a photograph. One has to wonder, however, that death could be as simple and as straightforward as this photo shows.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

It is amazing how an artist can portray one image into millions. In this instance, Adam Helms has taken the image of a jihad soldier and has used shadow to transform the image of a soldier into something more mysterious, haunting and evil. The portrait reveals an almost surreal depiction of a soldier. We, the audience, are naturally pushed to assume that the image shows evil which is exactly why art is so powerful. It is interesting how Helms has positioned the shadow, it looks as if the soldier is smiling in a very sinister manner. Adam Helms

Paper Works Gallery
Curated by Cydney Payton

Adam Helms draws attention to the continuum between past and present states of violence, occupation and injustice. Helms uses composite images sourced through the internet and unearthed in library archives to suggest a frontier that is both familiar and distant. His hand is revealed in the work through drawings, thus making personal the interior story of each image. The exhibition of new works on paper and a large- scale sculpture at MCA DENVER – his first solo museum installation portrays radical political groups and extremist subcultures throughout history.

Above: Adam Helms, Shadow (Portrait of a jihadi), 2008, Double sided silkscreen on vellum, 40 x 26 inches, Courtesy of the artist and Marianne Boesky Gallery, New York and Sister Gallery, Los Angeles

Thursday, June 25, 2009

I did not completely understand this painting the first time I saw it. It seemed too obscure and scattered and disturbing initially, but I guess that is exactly how Picasso wanted the people to see it. The overall impact of the piece creates a disturbed reality of pain and agony. This impact is formed by figures such as the mother weeping over her dead baby and the dead bodies on the floor and the flames that dominate the painting. Notice how the colors are black, gray and white which I believe symbolize the darkness and evil of war. It is not meant to be pretty and successfully conveys the message that war is ugly, brutal and horrifying. This is one of the most famous artworks that express the atrocities of war and the need for peace, and do so very effectively.

Guernica is a painting by Pablo Picasso, depicting the bombing of Guernica, Spain, by German and Italian warplanes at the behest of the Spanish Nationalist forces, on April 26, 1937 during the Spanish Civil War. The Spanish Republican government commissioned Pablo Picasso to create a large mural for the Spanish display at the Exposition Internationale des Arts et Techniques dans la Vie Moderne (1937) Paris International Exposition in the 1937 World's Fair in Paris.
Guernica shows the tragedies of war and the suffering it inflicts upon individuals, particularly innocent civilians. This work has gained a monumental status, becoming a perpetual reminder of the tragedies of war, an
anti-war symbol, and an embodiment of peace. On completion Guernica was displayed around the world in a brief tour, becoming famous and widely acclaimed. This tour helped bring the Spanish civil war to the world's attention.

Cool video