Karen Jacobs: Remnants and Patterns


To look at the art pieces of Karen Jacobs is to experience the magic of the dance of organic movement against a stable time frame for reference. Through each window of a partial grid, one sees flickering moments captured in time. At once, the pieces reveal the moment against the continuum of time in a paradox of multiple juxtapositions. These pieces invite deep contemplation.

Jan Kirstein

 

Karen’s work is influenced by the Bokusho – “The term bokusho refers to abstract sumi-e or calligraphic drawings. My rice paper/ India ink gestures are torn, manipulated, collaged and incorporated into textured canvas paintings. ”  Karen Jacobs

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About the Art

“An ongoing interest in the linear juxtaposition of remnants and patterns has led much of my work to be classified as geometric abstraction. Organized by divisions which aren’t always precise and shapes which tend to stack and interlock, the work may remain totally abstract or venture into suggestions of landscape or other elements of nature.”

 

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“There is, perhaps, a seed of an idea when I begin but I am quickly directed by the work, answering the needs, sorting the puzzles and discovering solutions. I work with layers of thick and thin color, washed or scumbled over a textured surface. Traces are left by the pentimento of assorted mark makers and scrached or removed paint; lines are straight, curved or gestural, surfaces are wiped, dripped and spattered; all adding to an eventual sense of accumulation and the essence of time.”

 

 

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“Though most paintings are acrylic/mixed media on canvas, I often venture into other media such as oil, watercolor, encaustic and ink… in addition to other painting forms such as the structural boxes I call Pylons which may be either wall hung or free standing.”

 

 

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About the Artist

 

 

“The early years of my art education and career were pursued as possible, second to the needs of a mobile military family. A move to Washington, D.C. permitted both the time and opportunity for studies at the Maryland College of Art and Design and with outstanding local artists and teachers. My learning experience continued through both outside sources and personal exploration wherever we happened to be.”

 

 

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“From high detail realism to total abstraction, I’ve always sought my own way and allowed the work to develop independently. My preferred medium is acrylic as it allows the impulsive changes necessary to my process, but I’ve worked extensively in nearly all painting mediums from watercolor to oils and encaustics plus several original print processes.”

 

 

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“My professional career has included representation in numerous galleries from Santa Fe to D.C., New York to New Orleans, Memphis and Atlanta. I’ve competed and won awards internationally and my work is in private and corporate collections around the world. I currently live in Birmingham, Alabama.”

 

.karenjacobs.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Collages by Lee McKenna


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The collages by Lee McKenna are imbedded with a sense of the passage of time and the compression of memories as if from a dream. From the field of torn shapes emerges  the hopes and memories of a love drifting through time.

Jan Kirstein

 

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“Mystical Poems of Rumi 1”, A.J. Arberry
The University of Chicago Press, 1968

This is love: to fly to heaven, every moment to rend a hundred veils;
At first instance, to break away from breath — first step, to renounce feet;
To disregard this world, to see only that which you yourself have seen6 .
I said, “Heart, congratulations on entering the circle of lovers,
“On gazing beyond the range of the eye, on running into the alley of the breasts.”
Whence came this breath, O heart? Whence came this throbbing, O heart?
Bird, speak the tongue of birds: I can heed your cipher!
The heart said, “I was in the factory whilst the home of water and clay was abaking.
“I was flying from the workshop whilst the workshop was being created.
“When I could no more resist, they dragged me; how shall I
tell the manner of that dragging?”

 

 

 

The work of Australian artist Lee McKenna can be found here:     http://leeamckenna.bigcartel.com

Collector’s Choice: Jane Davies’ New Exhibion


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Submerge yourself into a sea of dynamic visual poetry by abstract painting master Jane Davies. In Janes’s paintings, the world is true to nature in form and integrity. Images embrace the viewer with harmonious discourse of color, shape, line, texture and pattern, all orchestrated with an instinctual genius for proportion, movement and intuitive balance.

Take some time  to pull yourself away from today’s political world upheavals if only for a few moments. Change the scenery. Replace your television  with  these paintings by Jane Davies.

Change your life by changing your scenery .  Gaze at these amazing paintings. Change the world by changing the scenery in front of your eyes. You can change the world, beginning with your own world. And that is always the best place to start.

Let these paintings enter your vision and dance in your soul.

Written by Jan Kirstein, Painter

 

 

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Edgewater Gallery: “I have new framed pieces up at Edgewater Gallery in Middlebury, VT.,” says Jane Davies. “If you’re in the area I hope you’ll stop by. You can also purchase from their website, Take a look.

 

 

 

 

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JANE DAVIES
PAINTING + MIXED MEDIA
ARTIST STATEMENT

Formal elements are my first and foremost source of inspiration. I can be moved by a simple combination of color and line, or the relationships of shapes and edges, or the interplay between pattern and scale. I look at colors, textures and images out in the world as well: rocks, rust, surfaces affected by age, by marks of the human hand, by time and tides. But I also look at a lot of art in many mediums, and gorge myself on the infinite ways in which materials can be transformed into rich and expressive visual statements.
In my own art practice, focus on process is an essential component of developing work that feels authentic and personal. My process involves a back-and-forth play between spontaneous, intuitive mark-making, and careful deliberation and intention: I think of it as letting things happen, and making things happen. I make a move, and then the painting reveals something new to respond to. Each move changes the whole piece and sets up a new set of challenges. It takes practice and continued effort to stay present to this dialog and not get carried away by the desire for a quick result or an easy resolution. It requires trust in my own intuitive responses, and a willingness to not-know, to not have the route laid out like a road map.

 

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http://edgewatergallery.co/artists/jane-davies/

 

Visit Jane’s website:  http://www.janedaviesartgallery.com

 

Coming soon by Jane Davies:
New 100 Drawings: Starting October 4, 2017 – 10 interactive sessions online, find out more and register here.

 

 

 

On a more politically proactive note….Pink Postcards

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thanks for viewing  the .KIRSTEINFINEART BLOG

 

Enhancing Creativity and Insight with Meditation and Stones


 

 

 

Meditation is known to enhance creativity and intuition and can be further accelerated with the use of specific stones and crystals. This article by ben-tiger describes The 12 Synergy Stones used in meditation to raise awareness and induce enlightenment.

Article By Ben-Tiger

Synergy Crystals are a special collection of Meteorites/Tektites and Crystals known to have very high influence on the energies of the human body. When used together in conjunction with each other they create a spectrum of energy very beneficial to the mind, body, and soul.
They will help raise your vibration, activate all of your latent psychic abilities, put you in touch with your spiritual guidance & higher self, and much more! Simply being in the presence these 12 stones will begin to increase your vibration. To feel experience the most powerful effects of the synergy 12, it is suggested to meditate with each Stone individually occasionally, as well as meditating with the entire collection.

 

1 – MOLDAVITE
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“The Fast Forwarding Stone”
Considered one of the most powerful crystals. Moldavite is a meteorite with perhaps the most intricate history associated with it. As a stone that fell from the sky it is often seen as a gem that feel out of the crown of an angel. Moldavite’s properties are considered “other worldly” as it contains the essence of star dust and space. Facilitates strong, clear, and direct interdimensional interconnectedness between ones consciousness and the higher planes of light.

 

2 – PHENACITE


“Adaptability Crystal”
Phenacite has gained its name by often growing in the geometric shape and pattern of many other crystals. It specializes in giving one the ability to harmonize with other forms of self. It is known to assist with “Alignment” allowing the abilities of the invisible Chakras to be obtained. Phenacite is excellent to use for nerve damage, brain imbalances, brain damage and genetic disorders that limit brain function.

 
3 – BROOKITE

“Bridge Crystal”
It is an ascension stone, helping one increase the vibratory frequency of the physical body. Enhances psychic communication and connection to extraterestrial beings. Helps one feel present in the body as a spiritual being. Encourages one to focus on the now instead of striving for some ephemeral future reality. It assists in processing of electromagnetic energy and encourages healthy adaptations to Light energy on a cellular level.

 
4 – DANBURITE

“The DNA Crystal”
Excellent for connecting with Angelic entities and energies. Can help release grief, intense fear and anxiety, resentment or anger…soothes the emotional body. Allows one to experience immersion in the realm of Spirit and the full opening of the heart to Divine Source, so one may become a conduit for this frequency on the planet. Especially useful in these times , as we are asked to expand our hearts and carry a more aligned vibration.

 
5 – AZEZTULITE

“The Center of the Earth”
Second to only Moldavite when it comes to the lure surrounding this crystal. Made popular by a group of psychics claiming to channel a group of inner earth beings known as the Azez it has been often seen as one of the highest vibratory crystals. It is attuned to higher vibrational domains and fills one’s energy body with spiritual Light, and allows one to be a beacon of serenity which seems invulnerable to the turbulence of daily life.

 

6 – NATROLITE

“The Purification”
Natrolite crystal is a zeolite known to actually assist with the physical cleansing of the body. Many have reported sensation of feeling lighter and a floating off feeling once using Natrolite. Natrolite reduces physical swelling and water retention while also working to remove any fear one may have of water.

 

7 – HERDERITE


“Brain Crystal”
Used to increase communication in the various regions of the head mainly the frontal lob. Herderite boosts abilities related to extracting information from invisible phenomena. This is also know as being Psychic. Herderite is also a crystal that can amplify its rare strength by being combined with other crystals. This makes it a perfect match for the synergy crystal set. Herderite specializes in dealing with behavioral issues as it promotes leadership.

 

8 – SCOLECITE

“The Connectivity”
Scolecite is a stone of kindness, gentleness, & non-reaction. It invites interaction with other peace loving beings helps support proper serotonin levels. It brings a sense of peace and calm when one is distraught. Seen as a crystal that has the ability to connect and network the paths of the innerself with the proper “tubular etheric connections” the body is familiar with.

 

9 – TANZANITE

“The New Beginning”
Found in only one place in the world, Mount Kilamanjaro Africa. It is also considered a precious stone and often used in some of the most expensive jewelry due to its beauty. The occurance which forms Tanzanite is known to be 1000x more rare than that of a diamond. Tanzanite’s metaphysical properties consist of energy related to clarity, newness, life, and freshness. It blue color is often associated with the Sky and the Ocean the birthing pools of most if not all organic life.

 

10 – PETALITE

“The Dispeller”
Can be used to enhance one’s sense of connection to All-That-Is and help one embody that consciousness even after meditative practice has ended. It assists in opening the third-eye and crown chakras and can stimulated higher perceptions. Petalite is soothing and healing for the emotional body. Particularly valuable for overcoming abuse/victim patterns and brings a frequency of calm self-acceptance and self-love. It can be used for ADD, ADHD, excessive worry or stress.

 

11 – TIBETAN TEKTITE

“Ground Control”
Provides for thought transmission between the physical realm and the location of origination of the stone. Helps to Raise one’s vibrational level. These meteorites are often used to strengthen the energy fields of the body while allowing one to remain grounded in their experience.

 

12 – SATYALOKA QUARTZ

“The Antenna”
Connected with extremely high vibrations it serves to assist the user with ridding themselves of old stagnant frequencies. This has an effect of propelling a person out of an old environment and state of consciousness in to greater expanses. Satyloka also increases our bodies “spiritual antenna” allowing us to be much more perceptive of a subtle energies and forces.

 

This is just an overview of some of the stones that can be used in meditation. To learn more, go to the ben-tiger website: http://www.aruarian.com/the-synergy-12-stones-rare-combination-of-crystals-for-higher-vibration/

 

 

 

To coincide with this feature on stones and meditation, I am introducing a line of yoga pants by KIRSTEINFINEART at:  https://www.redbubble.com/people/janiskirstein/shop/leggings?ref=shop_product_refinement&asc=u

 

 

Collector’s Choice: Jean Michel Basquiat


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QUICK FACTS

NAME
Jean-Michel Basquiat
OCCUPATION
Painter
BIRTH DATE
December 22, 1960
DEATH DATE
August 12, 1988
PLACE OF BIRTH
Brooklyn, New York
PLACE OF DEATH
New York, New York
NICKNAME
“SAMO”

Jean-Michel Basquiat was a Neo-Expressionist painter in the 1980s. He is best known for his primitive style and his collaboration with pop artist Andy Warhol.

Synopsis

Jean-Michel Basquiat was born on December 22, 1960, in Brooklyn, New York. He first attracted attention for his graffiti under the name “SAMO” in New York City. He sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets before his painting career took off. He collaborated with Andy Warhol in the mid-1980s, which resulted in a show of their work. Basquiat died on August 12, 1988, in New York City.

 

Early Years

Artist Jean-Michel Basquiat was born in Brooklyn, New York, on December 22, 1960. With a Haitian-American father and a Puerto Rican mother, Basquiat’s diverse cultural heritage was one of his many sources of inspiration.

A self-taught artist, Basquiat began drawing at an early age on sheets of paper his father, an accountant, brought home from the office. As he delved deeper into his creative side, his mother strongly encouraged to pursue artistic talents.

Basquiat first attracted attention for his graffiti in New York City in the late 1970s, under the name “SAMO.” Working with a close friend, he tagged subway trains and Manhattan buildings with cryptic aphorisms.

In 1977, Basquiat quit high school a year before he was slated to graduate. To make ends meet, he sold sweatshirts and postcards featuring his artwork on the streets of his native New York.

Commercial Success

Three years of struggle gave way to fame in 1980, when his work was featured in a group show. His work and style received critical acclaim for the fusion of words, symbols, stick figures, and animals. Soon, his paintings came to be adored by an art loving public that had no problem paying as much as $50,000 for a Basquiat original.

His rise coincided with the emergence of a new art movement, Neo-Expressionism, ushering in a wave of new, young and experimental artists that included Julian Schnabel and Susan Rothenberg.

In the mid 1980s, Basquiat collaborated with famed pop artist Andy Warhol, which resulted in a show of their work that featured a series of corporate logos and cartoon characters.

On his own, Basquiat continued to exhibit around the country and the world. In 1986, he traveled to Africa for a show in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. That same year, the 25-year-old exhibited nearly 60 paintings at the Kestner-Gesellschaft Gallery in Hanover, Germany—becoming the youngest artist to ever showcase his work there.

Personal Problems

As his popularity soared, so did Basquiat’s personal problems. By the mid-1980s, friends became increasingly concerned by his excessive drug use. He became paranoid and isolated himself from the world around him for long stretches. Desperate to kick a heroin addiction, he left New York for Hawaii in 1988, returning a few months later and claiming to be sober.

Sadly, he wasn’t. Basquiat died of a drug overdose on August 12, 1988, in New York City. He was 27 years old. Although his art career was brief, Jean-Michel Basquiat has been credited with bringing the African-American and Latino experience in the elite art world.

Jean-Michel Basquiat Biography
Author

Biography.com Editors
Website Name

http://www.biography.com/people/jean-michel-basquiat-185851

 

 

 

Collector’s Choice: Richard Diebenkorn


Richard Diebenkorn review – gorgeous, serious, hard-won work of a lifetime

Royal Academy, London
A beautifully arranged overview of Richard Diebenkorn’s work, from blazing California abstracts to figuration and back again, dazzles and delights

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A Day at the Race, 1953 by Richard Diebenkorn. Photograph: Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh. Patrons Art Fund © 2015 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Ocean Park on a hot California morning, the sun already beating down, sprinklers playing across fresh lawns, white buildings rising above parched boulevards that stretch away to the cool waters of Santa Monica bay. I’ve never seen it. Yet it has entered my senses forever because of Richard Diebenkorn.

The abstract paintings of this 20th-century master used to be everywhere, in the form of posters. Luminous overlays of soft, bleached colours balanced on underlying grids that conjured the built-up land against the fathomless Pacific, his Ocean Park paintings were so popular in the 1990s they attracted snobbery.

 

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Ocean Park #27, 1970. Photograph: Brooklyn Museum © 2015 the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

Abstract art for people who don’t like abstract art, was a common jibe; too easy on the eye, too neat and tidy, was another. When an Ocean Park poster appeared in one of the houses in the Channel 4 soap Brookside, I remember hearing his work compared to downmarket decor.

Perhaps this is one reason why Diebenkorn (1922-93) has been stinted in Britain. It has been so long since the last show – at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1991 – that a generation may never have seen his work. Not the least joy of the Royal Academy’s exhibition is the revelation of scale: the Ocean Park paintings may be amazingly big – nine or 10 square metres – or surprisingly small. Some are painted on cigar box lids.

But more remarkable for British viewers must be the chance to see Diebenkorn’s art evolving over a whole lifetime, from Albuquerque, New Mexico where he studied, to Urbana, Illinois where he taught, Berkeley, California where he lived until 1966, and then Santa Monica and the hundreds of works in the Ocean Parkseries.

 

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Berkeley #57, 1955. Photograph: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art © 2015 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

The early abstracts are dense, rich and beautiful – colour and form fitting ruggedly together like outlandish rockeries. Invoking the hot light and open atmosphere of Berkeley in particular, and the wild, red stoniness of Albuquerque, so familiar now from Breaking Bad, they seem to be all about how the eye gets into the terrain, how it sees its way around tall trees, avenues, parks, mountain ranges, buildings and sky. It is no surprise that Diebenkorn was a lifelong student of Cézanne.

Sometimes the early works appear to pivot around a particular form – something like a handprint, a sign or an arrow. These remain mysterious, balancing the arrangements of colour around them. It’s as if something figurative had cropped up in a landscape seen from within, but also from high above; a human detail in the wide south-western landscapes the painter saw from the air while flying back and forth in the 50s between California and New Mexico.

Just as Diebenkorn was finding fame with these intricate yet craggy paintings that hold their marvellous colours – cobalt, forest green, flamingo pink – like the evening sky in the branches of a tree, he suddenly changed tune. Like his near contemporary Philip Guston, he gave up abstraction and turned to the figurative.

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Cityscape #1, 1963, with its ‘strong hints of Edward Hopper’. Photograph: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art © 2015 the Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

This show is perfectly arranged so that you can see this coming almost from the start because the first gallery has sightlines into the second. A doorway frames a terrific painting of a long California street, heavily shadowed by houses in the heat, that spools away into the wild blue yonder. It still has a planar aspect – and some of the real buildings were apparently eliminated to get that patchwork of lawn and field from the early abstracts – but now there are strong hints of Edward Hopper.

A portrait of a pair of scissors, heavy and old yet still full of iron purpose; a man sitting shirtless and pensive in the dusk; the parched sidewalks of Berkeley – Diebenkorn pays open homage not just to Hopper and Cézanne but now Matisse. He paints his wife, his neighbourhood, the humble objects of his house and studio with a tough, terse brush but a seductive love of the subjects as well as the paint itself.

 

Scissors, 1959.
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Scissors, 1959. Photograph: The Grant Family Collection © 2015 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

The burning blue of a Bay Area sky held in balance with the softer greens and blues of the land and sea below are pinned together with the succinct black drawing, so delicate and yet structural, that you see throughout his career. It keeps a rigour to these paintings that might so easily spill over into swoony light and heat. But just as Diebenkorn was becoming the best known of the Bay Area figurative artists, he did the opposite of Guston, turning once more to abstraction.

On a trip to Russia, Diebenkorn had seen Matisse’s great and strange French Window at Collioure, with its haunting planes of darkness and light, and the memory stayed with him. There is a genetic link from the Matisse to everything you see in the last rooms of show: these rectilinear paintings, so gorgeous and yet serious, so hard-won, showing what he called the ‘tension beneath the calm’.

Of course the Ocean Park paintings have beauty and balance as their uppermost characteristics. The California blues are all there – cobalt, aqua, sky, cerulean, the faded jade and turquoise of boatyards, beaches and outdoor pools. And the architectural structure below is so elegant in its measured thinking, in its geometry and even its joinery.

 

Ocean Park #79, 1975.
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‘Tension beneath the calm’: Ocean Park #79, 1975. Photograph: Philadelphia Museum of Art © 2015 The Richard Diebenkorn Foundation

But are they expressive of whole landscapes, could they be evocations of someone’s sprinklered garden with its sparkling pool? How does the atmosphere enter in? The paintings are stranger than expected, and this paradise is not without shadows – sometimes a grey pall, or a funereal black border edging into the frame.

In fact the Ocean Park series that has given so many people such pleasure arrives out of hesitation, correction, uncertainty, further attempts, frequent cancellations. How can one tell? Diebenkorn leaves the workings on show. The veils of colour that settle on the painting like a misty haar lie over many trials and second thoughts. The paintings look light, bright, uplifting, slim; but this only comes after long and patient thinking.

This is what connects late with early; all of these paintings are bent on seeing and depicting the same thing – cities and landscapes – in new ways. The elements may be the same, the architecture of lines and planes, the suave black drawing, the patches, clusters and veils of atmospheric colour. But the sense of endeavour, of tension, scrutiny and indecision changes every time and makes each painting vital and restless for all its composure. Even at the end, Diebenkorn is still trying to work out another way to give us the light and space of California.

 

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Collector’s Choice: Janet Jones


 

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“Rather than collecting beautiful materials for collage and mixed media, I look for those that have had a troubled past.

 

 

I want to draw attention to the innate beauty of the stains, foxing and velvety patina of old book pages and the grime and grunge of “road kill” papers rescued from the street. Sometimes these found papers are finished pieces with very little intervention on my part, and in other cases I distress papers by soaking, laminating, staining, scorching and sanding to give them still more history.

 

 

I take pleasure in giving these humble materials the loving presentation they deserve.”

 

Janet Jones, artist

comjanetjonesfineart.com

 

 

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Collector’s Choice: George Raftopoulos


www.georgeraftopoulos.com

 

 

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‘TRANSPORTED-MIGRATION’
Text by John Burns 2016.

What does contemporary art have to do with migrants and migration? When we normally view the subject through modern eyes it’s usually all about dodgy photographs, boredom and things somebody found in their grandfather’s attic. For me looking at the paintings of George Raftopoulos, it’s all about ghosts on the canvas.

 

 

 

 

Despite what the experts will tell you, good painting is a chicken and an egg type thing. The public gets what galleries think constitutes modernity as opposed to art that is actually part of the modern world. The notion of contemporary painting tends to conjure up thoughts of narrow minded navel gazers trying to avoid a work for the dole scheme. As cave art and the Sistine chapel can attest, there was a time when painting was expected to be more about the community than the artist’s own daydream. This is why when really good contemporary art comes along it confounds critical expectation. George Raftopoulos’s series of works based around Greek immigration to Australia does the confounding eloquently. It is a prime example of how 21st century art can still communicate big ideas without needing a stable Wi Fi connection. There is a reflective quality to these works, both in how they are seen by the audience and the feelings they evoke. George makes them more than a set of Kodachrome memories. Playing with the notion of migrant identity or absence thereof, he invites us all along for the journey.

 

 

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Post world war two migration from Greece has become part of our nation’s folklore. This gives almost everything associated with it a mythic quality. From milk bars to fruit shops it’s easy to live in a halcyon era. But what is lost in the process is the often harsh reality of being a stranger in a strange land. There was always more to being Greek in Australia than “Con the Fruiterer’ .This exhibition does not rehash the bare bones of history, but rather explores a parallel emotional story of the lives involved. A key trait throughout the works is George’s own ambition to see Greek immigration to Australia as more than a textbook event. He wants us to remember that the lives often observed by two lines in a government publication or stereotypes in a comedy sketch are those of real people. George’s paintings bring these experiences of the past back into contemporary focus. They are ghosts of the Charles Dickens kind. Juxtaposed with Greece’s own current crisis of refugees, the series reminds us of the shifting way we see migrants both past and present.

 

 

 

 

With George’s images, the notion of the eyes being windows to the soul is actually true. You get a reminder looking at the collection, that all humans are migrants. Travelling between cultures has never been a case of just reaching point B. Whether it be sixty years ago, a million years past or last week, it’s not who the migrant actually is but who they are seen to be that matters. Via a process of primitively printed smudges on each canvas, George loosens the identity from each individual portrait. Whilst we know that these images are based upon Greek immigrants, their immediate identification is lost to a point in which they can become anybody. Devoid of a bias towards an ethnicity we are left with who we are. As a collected group, they look like a gallery of freaks. As individual images you respond to the traits you see in yourself. These are light and dark mirrors, both complimenting and condemning the viewer. Your ego asks “how could anyone defame or vilify anyone like me?” The ghost replies “well you did, didn’t you?”

 

 

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I’m a Gen X, one of the last eras’s in which the term “Wog” was still used as part of the everyday vocabulary. Few of us cringed at the term back then, I do now. But just because something becomes politically incorrect, does not necessarily mean society changes or the wounds heal overnight. The works Prophet and Dreamer reflect this sense of dystopia. Prophet carves a face out of black and white toning. Black to the left, white to the right and grey down the middle. As hordes of Syrian refugees flood Greece today, it is a stern reminder that migrants are seen in a variety of emotive ways, both in hindsight and at the time of their arrival. The work doesn’t make the judgment of good or bad, the audience does. George over prints the piece with a motif resembling lace. Almost like some kind medieval costume drama, there is a sense of royalty. Perhaps, as George likes to suggest we are all “emperors” with our new clothes. The way we see new arrivals is blinded by our own sense of perfection. The lace effect across the Prophet face resembles the fabric from a church as it does the tablecloth from “the Oasis” cafe. The identity of the migrant becoming as much what we project on top of them as who they really are.

 

 

 

 

Dreamer is a humorous brain piece. A strong fleshy pink color contrasts the human nature of the Dreamer to the more austere grays and blues of his brother the Prophet. There is a different slant on communication too. Whereas Prophet suggests a sense of almost of John the Baptist style ire, preaching outward to us sinners, in Dreamer the audience is literally looking inside the mind of a migrant. As George’s frantic lines in the cranium suggest, it is a head filled with both ideas and emotion. An ear pointing one way whilst the face is moving another means a life in a hurry to start. It also presents a strong need to keep traveling, whether to arrive at a destination quicker or to avoid being beaten up by unhappy locals.
Most contemporary art asks the viewer to leave their brain at the door so they can be “enlightened” by someone who knows more than they do. In these conditions a series of works on migration could quite easily become one of flag waving or flag burning.

 

 

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This exhibition is in sharp relief to the pseudo-intellectualism that presents itself on many gallery walls. George has a sense of humour, these are odd things to look at and he knows it. But being an oddity is what the migrant, and for that matter the human experience is all about. These paintings are conversations with the past. They don’t tell stories as much as they reacquaint us with people who should never be forgotten. If you enjoy a good landscape then this probably isn’t for you. But then again, maybe it is. These paintings show you the world from a broader perspective than just the artist or the critic. They urge us to be more, not just because they are clever, but we are too.

John Burns, March 2016

 

 

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A memory written by Geordie Williamson 2012

The small town in rural NSW where I grew up in the 1970s and 80s boasted a single milk bar, owned and operated by the only Greek family for 100 miles.

I remember it as an exemplary instance of that hallowed antipodean space: entered via a blowfly-baffling swish of plastic strips, beyond which ran counters of speckled laminate, generously stocked with Smiths chips and rolls of Lifesavers. Bevelled milkshake cups were stacked on one corner, beneath posters for Chiko Rolls and flavoured Moove faded to a palette of orange and brown by the heat.

The son of the owner, George Raftopolous, was in my year at the local public school. He was a lively boy who made friends easily, despite the overwhelmingly Anglo cast of the school community. His popularity was enhanced by the fact the family shop had the only video games in town. The boy’s father would load credits into Frogger for those mates of his son who called in of an afternoon.

Later, my family moved away. I was sent to boarding school and lost touch with my friend. It was only decades later, with the aid of Facebook, that we reconnected. The boy had grown up to become one this country’s most talented younger painters, and his abstract canvases, which made reference to Greek myth and graffiti with equal brio, woke my curiosity. When I Googled him, however, certain statements made a lie of my complacent memories. In interviews, the artist spoke of the sense of exile he felt in our country town. He recalled instances of overt racism. During four years in New York, the artist was considered “an Aussie”, he said in an online interview, but back in the central west “we were wogs”.

The disjunction between that Greek boy’s easy accommodation to the cultural norms of the country Australia of our childhood and his mature retrospection was inexplicable to me until I began to read other stories by migrants relating their experiences of arrival on these shores. His story turned out to be a familiar one, in which private hurt and confusion are hidden behind a mask of conformity. It turns out that the child who arrives from the global Elsewhere knows instinctively the deformations of self that will be required of them to fit in.

I am not a trained art critic but I acknowledge the ‘expressionistic fierceness’ that others have identified in his work. George’s paintings, vivid and monumental in the spirit of Picasso’s neoclassical mode, blend two registers: the Greek past, whether the archaic past or the the near-present Corfu from which his family emigrated; and a use of colour and line that recalls Australia’s monochrome emptiness, as well as the fluid lines of John Olsen. The result is once familiar and alien, elegant and disquieting, rigourous and anarchic.

His work, in short, dissolves the complexities and crudities of Anglo-Australian culture by embracing its contradictions. The Lebanese writer Ghassan Hage has written of returning to to his grandparents’ former home in Bathurst, NSW, not far from where George and I grew up. In the overgrown backyard he discovers a fig, a pomegranate and an olive tree – “the holy Mediterranean trinity, or one of them, at least” – that his homesick forebears planted decades before.

For Hage, these fruit trees don’t merely partake of a quintessentially Anglo obsession with backyards, a “marking and shaping and rooting oneself” in space. Rather it is the knowledge that these trees were planted by his grandfather’s hand that makes Hage feel, after long estrangement, “Australian”. The original act of planting is a historical rhyme that allows the author to embrace a paradox: a sense of rootedness that ‘does not mean a sense of being locked to the ground, unable to move’ but instead makes the author feel as if he suddenly sprouted wings.

Hage’s arboreal epiphany, with its sense of the importance of gesture and cultural recombination, reminded me of my schoolfriend’s paintings. Raftopolous’s art does not fetishise what Hage calls an “anti-colonial belonging, which pits the belonging of the colonised against that of coloniser while conserving colonialism’s either/or logic.’ Nor are these works explicitly postcolonial, prematurely judging colonial culture as something already superseded. Instead, Raftopolous counters ‘colonial culture from a space beyond it, showing that another mode of belonging is possible’.

Collector’s Choice: Tim Benson


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timbenson.co.uk

Faces of Ebola

“In November I will be exhibiting a number of portraits of Sierra Leonians affected by the recent Ebola outbreak. This solo show at the Mall Galleries’ Threadneedle Gallery will highlight the continued stigma that surrounds both survivors of the disease and many of those who treated them.”

 

 

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“The oil painted portraits by Tim Benson grip me with their visceral paint application of vibrant variance of hue. His build up of painterly brush movement forms a human soul and presence commanding and compelling in its power and complexity. From out of the flat two dimensional painting surface emerges the individual personality and presence of a person made complete and whole through the engagement of intuited color and form.”  By Janis Kirstein

 

 

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Educated at Glasgow School of Art and Byam Shaw School of Art from 1998-2001, contemporary artist Tim Benson has received recognition with his election as Vice President of the Royal Institute of Oil Painters. As a practised figurative artist Tim not only creates a distinguishable likeness of a subject but moreover evokes the sitter’s character and mood. He is never satisfied with simple representation, rather concentrating on bringing to his work an emotive and often visceral quality.
Tim regularly exhibits in solo and group exhibitions around the UK. He displays fine art paintings that stand on their own as collectible works of art and accordingly has established a large following and collector base. In addition to his fine art pieces, he accepts more formal portrait and figurative commissions in oil or charcoal.

 

 

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EXHIBITIONS
2016
• November: Faces of Ebola – Mall Galleries

 

 

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Do you know what I would love?  I would love to hear your thoughts and feelings about this feature! How does this work affect you, make you feel? Grace us with your comments and insights.  We would all love to hear from you!  Thanks so much.                Jan Kirstein

 

Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort, Kentucky


josephinesculpturepark.org

Best Field Trip Ever! Western Hills High School Art students all agreed. The trip to Josephine Sculpture Park in Frankfort, Kentucky was the best field trip they ever went on since Junior High!

Artist and owner of the Sculpture Park, Melanie Van Houten gave a moving and insightful tour to my students, encouraging art students to do what they want in their lives, to build their lives within a box without a ceiling of restrictions.

 

 

 

 

She he started her sculpture garden after receiving her Master of Fine Arts at University of Minnesota and teaching there as a professor of sculpture for six years.  She then returned to her native home state and created this sculpture garden on the farm that was once her beloved grandmothers. Melanie spent many joyful years growing up on this farm and recalls many happy days enjoying the farm’s natural wonders.

 

 

 

Beginning from “scratch,” Melanie built her park by tirelessly writing grants, and taking small steps each year to build the beautiful park into a substantial collection of contemporary sculpture pieces from all over the country. The Park also includes a multitude of community festivals, plays, art lessons, tours, and many other community contributions throughout the year.

 

Josephine Sculpture Park is a tribute to the Creative Arts, to the Building of Community, and to the preservation and value of the earth. Frankfort is indeed very lucky to have such a rich cultural resource right in its very midst.

 

Below: A sculpture in poured iron by Melanie Van Houten made at the University of Minnesota.

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The art students from Western Hills’ Fashion Design Class give a responding thanks to Melanie Van Houten for providing such an amazing resource for expanding their Fine Arts awareness! Many thanks to Melanie Van Houten!

Written by Janis Kirstein