Man Ray by Roland Penrose Part 1.

This short autobiography is no longer in print.  I found it at the Strand and bought it with the hope for a light read about an interesting man. This was a success, albeit the writing style was a little less dissecting than desired.  Penrose believe Man Ray to be a genius, even if he was incapable of describing the details that made him so.  Penrose begins with Man's early life and works of art that he then describes. 

Dancer (Danger) 1920

"Man Ray's attitude became evident as early as 1920, in an object he made which was prophetic of his subsequent thought and work.  It consists of a combinations of cog-wheels, drawn with absolute precision and interlocked so closely that they immobilize each other.  Above them the word 'Dancer', which can also be read 'Danger', dominates the composition.  The object was realized with impeccable accuracy on a sheet of glass.  It is a conundrum in its title and in the contradiction it presents as a working drawing of functional machinery which cannot work.  It illustrates with precision Man Ray's reverence and distrust of the machine god..."  

It is this attitude that carries that main theme through out Man Ray's work. Once of continuing distrust, precision of skill, and contradiction. It should be noted that from the beginning of his life, Man Ray was never interested in creating works of   art that adhered to accepted forms of art.  He carried a passion for painting and drawing through out his life, but it was his photographs and sculptures that really carried the essence of his central aim. 

The Rope-Dancer Accompanies Herself With Her Shadows
1917 (aerograph)

Discouragingly, the beginning of Man Ray's art career yielded few sales and most of his work was met with dissatisfaction. 

"In his efforts to find new methods which would liberate him totally from the conventional manner of making pictures, and the aesthetic pretenses that went with it, he hit on the idea of taking home with him the paint spray he used for his office work and using it as a substitute for brushes and pencils.  The airbrush outfit with pump and instruments at once gave unexpectedly pleasing results.  But in spite of the poetic motive underlying the airbrush pictures, and the freshness and originality of work, they, just like the rest of his work, was met with hostile reception."

Man Ray continued on with life and eventually moved to Paris where he really began to make the bulk of the work that he became known for.  It was in Paris that he was able to meet many of the artists with whom he became friends for the entirety of his life.  It was this group of individuals that encouraged and inspired much of the work Man Ray was to later create.

"By chance, Man Ray found himself in Paris on 14 July 1921.  The national fete commemorating the storming of the Bastille was in full swing and Marcel Duchamp was waiting for him at the station.  The city's magnetism was drawing Dada revolutionaries from distant regions; Tzara and Arp had come from Zurich, Max Ernst from Cologne, Picabia, Duchamp and now Man Ray from New York."



Douglas Kolk @ Fredericks & Freiser, Will Kurtz @ Mike Weiss Gallery


It is worth knowing that Douglas Kolk was successfully showing work in the 90's, only to cease making work to attend to his own drug addiction before beginning  to make work again in 2004. This information is not hidden in any press release, nor do I believe it should be. Knowing this makes it very easy to attribute many of the circumstances and situations within his drawings to real life experience. Two dogs are fighting, a man states that he is the prince of demons, and many other alarming scenarios float through your minds eye along with chaotic vibrant colors.  Only Kolk himself will know which scenes are imagined and which really happened, but the ambiguous unknown and possible reality of it makes the experience worth happening.  It seems Kolk may feel similar of his addiction escapade as well, since it is appearing as his main show. 


It is difficult not to love a space where signs ask parents to ensure that their children do not touch a work of art.  That a work of art would so readily inspire a child to run up to it and feel it speaks to the general surprise of Kurtz well made paper sculptures.  Each of the scenes Kurtz created is well recognized around the city, various dogs doing various dog things. The work was endlessly entertaining to dissect with your eye, finding featured articles and colors over the shape and anatomy of each animal.  


Zhang Xiaogang @ PACE & Andrew Kuo @ Marlborough Chelsea


The heavy handed eyes and subject matter within Xiaogang's work leaves little opportunity to feel alone or without presence within PACE.  Most noticeable are the focus of characters that accurately describe the awkward relationship between the vast change of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the inner psychological/outer bodily change of ones adolescence.  Feelings of vulnerability, and the sturdy nature of busts create misgivings about the future within this world.  The press release offered the sincere notion that Zhang Xiaogang has, "established himself as one of the most important Chinese contemporary painters, whose figurative works delve into the human psyche, exploring personal and collective memory in the wake of the Cultural Revolution."  I would be hard pressed to disagree. 


It may be a little difficult to read the descriptions underneath each painting from the photos above, but it would be well worth enlarging the photo to do so. Kuo has aligned various thoughts to each color that weave themselves around each other. This precise yet complicated interaction reflects well on the complicated nature of life.   What really enhanced the exacting lines of most of the paintings were the various small paintings where freer lines and marks were made.  What could first be interpreted as a completely abstract paintings floats near the description of a head looking away once the lines of glasses are recognized.  It's a nice journey within each work. 


The Story of Art: Manet and Friends

Gombrich informs us that Manet and his friends were relevant among the third wave of revolution in France. "They looked out for conventions in painting which had become stale and meaningless. They found that the whole claim of traditional art to have discovered the way to represent nature, as we see it, was based on a misconception."  At the time, models posed in studios, with ideal lighting situations, where one could spend hours rendering the details of each shadow and shape of the model. Because this was how painters were trained, they brought this approach to nearly everything they painted, rendering to such perfection that which the eye could not normally perceive.  Manet and his friends believed it to be more accurate to render the impression of nature. Gombrich continues with the benefit of painting in an Impressionist style, "If we trust our eyes to, and not our preconceived ideas of what things ought to look like according to academic rules, we shall make exciting discoveries."

 Girl Styling her Hair, Pierre-Auguste Renoir. 

 Bridge Over a Pond of Water Lilies, Claude Monet. 

 A Bar at the Folies-Bergère,  Edouard Manet.

Boulevard des Italiens, Morning, Sunlight. Camille Pissarro.

Various painters began to challenge the norm of what was accepted in painting, and most of the Impressionists faced incredibly rude and harsh criticism.  So much so, that many Impressionist works were shown as a part of the "Salon of the Rejected", where the public went to laugh at artists who had refused to accept the rules of their so called betters.  This kind of controversy went on for nearly 30 years, and the negative connotation surrounding the term "Impressionist" soon disappeared. 


The Story of Art: Francisco Goya

Goya finds himself as the next subject because I enjoy his work very much, and he represents the beginnings of a break in tradition for court painters.  Goya was familiar with El Grego and Velazquez, and his skill secured him a position in the Spanish court. His paintings revealed the "vanity and ugliness, greed and emptiness" of his subjects.  He produced etchings in a new style called Aquatina, and most striking about his prints is they were not illustrations of any known subject, either biblical, historical or genre. 

Goya: King Ferdinand VII of Spain, 1814.

"Most of them are fantastic visions witches and uncanny apparitions. Some are meant as accusations against the powers of stupidity and reaction, of human cruelty and oppression which Goya had witnessed in Spain, others seem just to give shape to the artist's nightmares." Gombrich. 

Goya: The Giant, Etching. 1820.

"The monster sits in the moonlit landscape like some evil incubus.  Was Goya thinking of the fate of his country, of its oppression by wars and human folly?  Or was he simply creating an image like a poem?  For this was the most outstanding effect of the break in tradition- that artists felt free to put their private visions on paper as hitherto only the poets had done." Gombrich. 

This particular moment in art history is significant in that now not only were artists allowed to create whatever they wished, (as they had before), but that their works could be poetic and emotive in a way they had previously not been. Goya's work serves to make clear a darkness and horror in man, a subject that so few painters paid such attention to. 


Brooklyn Art Space Featured Artist: Natalie Lomeli

Earlier this year I was interviewed by Brooklyn Art Space to be one of their featured artists!  I'm very grateful and happy to share the video with you now. Also, the paintings I was working on in the video are now complete in the post just below this one. Thanks for having a look!

The Link to the Brooklyn Art Space Website: http://basoffice.squarespace.com/featured-artist/

The video:

INTERVIEW 02 - Natalie Lomeli from Brooklyn Art Space on Vimeo.


Here's the first batch of works from my residency at Brooklyn Art Space. April has been great so far, and I'm proud to say that I've spent 7 out of the last 9 days in the studio. I plan to keep up the pace for the rest of the month. I'd love to finish another body of work there before the residency is through.

 Porcelain 1, Watercolor & Acrylic, 11x9 inches

 Porcelain 2, Watercolor & Acrylic, 11x9 inches

 Porcelain 3, Watercolor & Acrylic, 11x9 inches

 Porcelain Well, Watercolor & Acrylic, 11x9 inches

Purple Well, Watercolor & Acrylic, 11x9 inches

Eel Off, Acrylic on Canvas, 44x38 inches

 Chain Chomp, Acrylic on Canvas, 44x38 inches

Chain Chomp detail

Chain Chomp detail

Chain Chomp detail

Eel Off detail

I've finished The Story of Art, so final posts about that next week. I've started reading a short biography about Man Ray. It never really occurred to me how odd it is that his first name is Man.  It's pretty compelling so far, and full of great quotes by Man. "If the creature had consulted its will only, it was bound to be crushed against the unknown."


The Story of Art: Rubens

Fisk has had my laptop for the last couple weeks, and while initially it was in inconvenience, I've really begun to love the extra time I have. Since I've had more time to read, here are some details about Rubens.

 Rubens: The Betrothal of St. Catherine

In four or five solid paragraphs Gombrich explains the relevance of artists Caracci, Cravaggio, Reni, Poussin, and Lorrain. It would be a disservice for me to try to paraphrase such a small set of paragraphs coherently - but since Gombrich spends quite a few pages speaking of Rubens, here he is.

Rubens: Head of a Child

Rubens adored new art but believed that a painter's business was to paint the world around him; to paint what he liked, to make us feel that he enjoyed the manifold living beauty of things. He studied in Rome for 8 years before returning to Antwerp after acquiring ,"such facility in handling brush and colour, figures and drapery, an in arranging large-scale compositions that he has no rival north of the Alps."  

Rubens: Self Portrait

"Having looked at the details, we must once more consider the whole, and admire the grand sweep with which Rubens has contrived to hold all the figures together, and to impart to it all an atmosphere of joyful and festive solemnity.  Small wonder that a master who could plan such vast pictures with such sureness of hand and eye soon has more orders for paintings than he could cope with alone.  But this did not worry him. Rubens was a man of great organizing ability and great personal charm; many gifted painters in Flanders were proud to work under his direction and thereby learn from him."  As an unrivaled painter in his time, Rubens' brushwork could bring life and joy to nearly any subject, because of this he enjoyed a rare amount of fame and success that few had achieved before.  Having a monopoly on the market, he took commission from separate political parties, many of whom enlisted him on various missions.  He was described as never vain, but always a true artist, and produced much work within his life time.