Category Archives: Travel

Unexpected!

Art Institute of Chicago is one of these encyclopedic art museums of the world. You have permanent exhibitions that span continents and geographies, centuries and epochs, personalities and schools. I went there the other day expecting a regular museum visit for max. 2 hours or so (so long the concentration keeps, in my case) and left after half a day! I started with newly built part for contemporary art and ended with temporary exhibition on Roy Lichtenstein.

What struck me there were totally unexpected pieces as well as their arrangement. Here are some of personal favourites.

Pablo Picasso, “The Old Guitarist”

Here is an early work from his Blue Period. Not only the monochromatic tones are fascinating here, but also how much psychology and emotions you have in a painting. Picasso wouldn’t be himself if you don’t see another side of the image: what in this perspective seems to be a penniless old musician can also be, if the painting is seen horizontally, a man who is leisurely enjoying his music playing by laying on his side.

 

 

Piet Mondrian, “Farm near Duivendrecht”

Another atypical work: when one says Mondrian, you would think of his abstract and non-representational works. However, they are mainly based on his views on landscapes and when you see this one, representing his native Holland, you also understand why. Flat lines of horizons, vertical drawings for trees and architecture – in the end, not so far away from his cubist experiments.

 

 

Francis Picabia, “Tetes-paysage”

As unexpected as it gets! (Or, in other words, what do you see here?) This is another view of cubism, not the fragmented one, but rather the one that combines many sources of inspiration from classical traditions of Rome and Greece, Renaissance and Neoclassicism. Not only that it is surprising how the profiles and landscapes visually fit together, but there is something in the surrealistic air around it that brings so many interpretations to the painting.

 

 

Rene Magritte, “The Banquet”

Speaking of surrealists, I cannot then forget to bring my all-time-favourite Magritte. This representation is nothing unusual for him, but this image was rather unknown to me from Magritte. The red sun here is really blinding.

 

 

David Hockney, “American Collectors (Fred and Marcia Weisman)”

Also not atypical for Hockney, but I have to mention him here as one of most inventive contemporary artists. What is particularly interesting for this piece is reflection of both characters in totem pole to the right, the sculpture of Henry Moore that the couple possessed: his stiffness and her smile. The coldness between the couple is palpable and stands in direct contradiction with warm Californian light that is surrounding them. (The couple indeed split not so long after the painting has been made.)

 

 

Roberto Matta, “Untitled”

Couple of artists were rather new to me, as Roberto Matta, one of most famous Chilean artists, Wifredo Lam, Cuban painter, or Arshile Gorky, Armenian. To all of them it is common that they have experimented with modernism, surrealism and abstract expressionism, and were strongly influenced with strong art movement in New York.

 

 

Roy Lichtenstein, “Desk Calendar”

Control freak (and project manager) in me absolutely screamed of joy when I saw this one. Yes, very much unexpected and very much me – no unnecessary colors, no explicit messages, just straightforward. I couldn’t help but simply admire it.

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German-Greek summer

A warm and sunny afternoon was well-spent in Glyptothek in company of Greek and Roman statues.

Roman copy of a Greek original, Apollon, 420 BC

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Sarajevo impressions: spikes, mothers and canned beef

I spent recently a beautiful week in Sarajevo. The city was pretty as always (or maybe even prettier): warm, sunny and full of good-mood people. Its artistic articulation took my attention in another area and I have seen rather the opposite.

I have seen the “Spiked” exhibition by young artist Daniel Premec, who is with his 12 aluminum spikes symbolically reflecting on difficulties in Bosnian everyday life but also artistic and cultural one; what all people have to go through in order to stay on the surface.

Daniel Premec, “Spiked”, 2012

I have not seen the photography exhibition “Majke” of two Polish artists, Monika Redzisz i Monika Berežecka, which focused on gender questions, sexual identity, gender equality and stereotypes, feminist ideas, transsexual and intersexual topics. I did see the poster and I found it to be just the right one.

Monika Redzisz i Monika Berežecka, “Matki / Majke”, 2012

… and now a ‘classic’: International Community monument, a over-dimensional canned beef by Nebojsa Seric Shoba, that fed the people of Sarajevo during the war-time. In the meantime, the ‘can’ became one of the favorite landmarks of locals. According to artist, this was a can with “never-confirmed content, expiration date, country of origin, (…) did not have anything better”.

“Monument to the International Community by the grateful citizens of Sarajevo”, 2007

“Monument to the International Community by the grateful citizens of Sarajevo”, 2007

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To me art is about self-acceptance

Before going to dOCUMENTA, I had a privilege (with time) to make a stop in Frankfurt and visit a must-see exhibition of Jeff Koons. Enfant terrible of several decades already and highly disputed and discussed about mega-artist has some amazing shows in Frankfurt and Basel. I had a chance to visit both Liebieghaus, for sculptures, and Schirn Kunsthalle, for his paintings.

Paintings were shown in one big hall and were combined there from several series and time periods, ranging from “Celebration”, “Made in Heaven”, “Antiquity”, just to name few.

Jeff Koons, The Painter, Exhibition in Schirn Kunsthalle

 

However, Koons’ sculptures were the ones that made me think/laugh/look around/smile and again think about them way longer after leaving the space. Not only that his pieces were provocative for themselves (‘balloons’ – that are not; e.g. made of stainless steel, all with ‘creases’, and several tones heavy), but the curatorial design and dramaturgy was amazing. Jeff Koons was placed right in the middle of antique and medieval classics. I have seen his ceramic women taking the bath right in front of renaissance tiles with Venus or Koons Cherubs next to baroque Eros and Psyche. After all, feel free to judge for yourself:

“Popeye”, 2009 – 2011

“Cherubs”, 1991

“Metallic Venus”, 2012

“Hulks (Bell)”, 2004 – 2012

“Woman in Tub”, 1988

 

To me art is about self-acceptance, and once you learn to accept yourself, automatically there’s a transcendence to going outward; it directs you to the acceptance of others, and everything is a metaphor for that acceptance—whether it’s working with objects, or images, or anything from the external world… [It] is a metaphor for the acceptance of others.

— could not agree more with him.

The exhibition is to be seen by 23 September.

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dOCUMENTA(13): constructively intelligent chaos! (part 2)

First day at dOCUMENTA(13) has been spent in visits to exhibition spaces in Fridericianum and Karlsaue. Second day has started off by visit to documenta-Halle. Built in 1992 by Jan Hoet and with its large walls and spacious halls, it has been a known challenge to most exhibition curators ever since. This year the critics were very positive about the visual fit of artworks in the exhibition space.

For example, we all loved four paintings of Julie Mehretu, an Ethiopian-born artist, famous for her large-scale architectural abstract paintings, where she and her team layer the drawings on several transparent media and combine them together to create a metaphoric story.

Julie Mehretu, “Mogamma (Part 1)”, 2012

An interesting story was waiting for us in another room: Yan Lei had painted intuitively 360 paintings for 360 days of Chinese calendar and all of these mass-media images were found in internet. Some of them were hanging on walls and from ceiling and some of them were racked in storage. During the 100 days of dOCUMENTA, the paintings are serially brought to a nearby car plant and painted over by a monochrome paint and then brought back to the exhibition space. In this way, Yan Lei creates a feeling of ‘finiteness’ in time, but also preserving them by sealing the paintings under the car paint itself.

Yan Lei, “Limited Art Project”, 2011-2012

Nalini Malani used an irregularly shaped storage room to show her video and light installation that reflects on human nature, evil in people and how and why it develops.

Nalini Malani, “Search of Vanished Blood”, 2012

We continued to Neue Gallerie, where we had chance to see an interesting 3D collage by Geoffrey Farmer, showing LIFE magazine cut-outs from 1935-1985. It represents a visual history reflecting American self-identity in past era. Its title is an homage to Walt Whitman famous poem.

Geoffrey Farmer, “Leaves of Grass”, 2012

One can truly appreciate the content and all energy and thoughts of dOCUMENTA only by paying a visit. I have ended mine by Kulturbahnhof and I am aware that many were left in the city of Kassel that I still need to see. Kulturbahnhof, a deserted building of a railway station, impressed me by the open and inviting space, truly amazing in its rawness – perfect place to exhibit contemporary art! William Kentridge was my last stop there: his 5-channel projection and a breathing machine was telling you a story of time, in a high-pitched voice, video and accompanying music. A show that could go on and on and that you could not stop watching – just like dOCUMENTA.

William Kentridge, “The Refusal of Time”, 2012

 

dOCUMENTA(13) will end 16.09.2012.

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dOCUMENTA(13): constructively intelligent chaos! (part 1)

Last weekend I was at dOCUMENTA(13), a large-scale exhibition that takes place every five years in Kassel. It all started in 1955, in order to bring Germany back from the cultural darkness from Nazi regime into the contemporary art evolution of the actual time. Therefore, dOCUMENTA differs from some more commercially popular biennale in the sense that it often works with a concrete theme that comes from the current societal needs and developments.

This time dOCUMENTA is connecting Kassel with Kabul, Alexandria-Cairo and Banff, and the main theme is “Collapse and Recovery”. The show has been curated by well-known Carolyne Christov-Bakargiev (CCB) and it lasts, as usual, for 100 days.

I was moved there with so many of artworks. What counts (in my humble opinion) is the artistic vision / goal / intension and subsequently personally experience and subconscious reaction.

Goshka Macuga, “Of what it is; of what it is not, that it is not”, 2012

This beautiful work is a tapestry, spread around in a semicircle in the rotunda and showing half-true half-fantasy: a destroyed Dar-ul Aman palace in Kabul with people attending banquet in honour of dOCUMENTA(13), superimposed in the image. Other, rather fantasy images, are combined throughout the tapestry.

Mariam Ghani, “A Brief History of Collapses”, 2011-2012

Mariam Ghani, “A Brief History of Collapses”, 2011-2012

Mariam Ghani shows a 2-channel video installation, in which in both of them a female figure goes through the empty spaces: ruined in Kabul and deserted in Kassel. Mariam narrates in the background about the conflicts and history and philosophical symbolism of both. You get the impression that you see and hear a poetry – very sad one.

Warlimpirrnga Tjapaltjarri, “Untitled”, 2008

During her engagement for Sydney Biennale in 2008, CCB got in contact with these artists of aboriginal background. The paintings shown here go back to the traditional painting style of dotting and applying the colour in a special order so that this somewhat psychedelic impression is created.

Robin Khan & La Cooperative Unidad Nacional Mujeres Saharauis, “The Art of Sahrawi Cooking”, 2012

A lot of interesting  works could be seen outdoors, as here in park Karlsaue, but also in different streets and buildings in Kassel. This one is inviting the visitors to go inside the tent.

(to be continued)

dOCUMENTA will end at 16.09.2012.

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Miro

In my last post I forgot to tell about another imperfect sightseeing tour. Wanting to see some modern classics*, I went to Fundacio Joan Miro. However, when I reached the place, the parks with Miro’s sculptures around was so beautiful that I sat there and spent an hour or so just enjoying the nature&weather&colours, only to discover that I can be in museum for half an hour or so before they close it.

So I say, whatthehexx, went inside and picked my favourite for the day: Femmes, oiseaux, etoiles

Joan Miro, “Women, birds, stars”, 1942

*Picasso was out of question, as you see Picasso’s everywhere. Right now there is exhibition “Frauen“, with works of Pablo Picasso, Max Beckmann and Willem de Kooning, in Pinakotheke der Moderne in Munich. I thought for a moment that they simply didn’t know what to do with collections and put them up together – ok, probably it is good from curatorial point of view…

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