Friday, October 8, 2010

Paris, je t'aime



Paris is one of my favourite cities. This was the first European city I had ever visited. It was like love at first sight.

I didn't grow up traveling that much as a kid because my Mom was always working and my Dad's a home-body. I had to try my best to imagine re-living my parents' experiences abroad and asked them over and over about what it was like in Italy and France. My Dad rambled on and on about the art and the food in Italy, but when asked about Paris he would fixate on how expensive it was to buy a bottle of coke. My Mom would then interrupt by telling me of my Dad's grand expenses on acquiring Coca-Cola during their stay. Didn't give me the clearest sense of the city. Anyway, the idea of going on a plane was a real treat (still is). So, when my high school art teacher announced that the school was planning a trip to France, I was pretty stoked to say the least.

When I laid my sixteen year old eyes on the place, I felt as though I was immediately delivered to a realm so full of beauty that my mind was going to implode. Since then, I have been exposed to a much greater extent of the world, but I have yet to experience the same sensation. It was probably just a one-off feeling. One of those moments that can only be experienced in youth.

This time around (le troisiemme), I was invited by my friend Latana, who was born and raised in Paris. Latana currently lives in London, where she is based as a mezzo soprano, but is often shooting off from one end of the EU to the other, chasing down operatic roles. Latana and her family showed me around the Paris that they know and love during my 4 day stay and overwhelmed me with their generosity and kindness. I wish I was more proficient at French so that I could express my gratitude with something more eloquent than "merci!"

During my stay, I was also able to meet up with my long time pal, John Mutter. He just landed in Paris that same weekend to start off his new musical life there. We have not only been buddies since the age of five, but we've also collaborated on various projects. John's been making music for a long time. I remember organizing concerts for his band as a teenager. He got a Canadian Arts Council grant that will enable him to be in Paris for the next few months making magic.



Anyway, we did lots of meandering through the winding roads of Paris, the regular sight-seeing spots, and ate wonderful food (care of Latana's Mom). I had not visited the Louvre since I was 16, so we went there. Latana spent five years working in that marvelous museum, so she did the navigating.


This is in the same room as the Mona Lisa.



Goodness, how I love Delacroix and Gericault.
I had to take a photo of these Tigers by Delacroix. A good animal, artist combo.



I felt rushed in the Louvre. There was a small, but wonderful Watteau drawing and prints exhibition that gobbled up a lot of my time. Then I found myself racing towards the Dutch wing, taking quick peeks at vanitas paintings and animal studies, and giving the Vermeers a momentary glimpse, as I could feel the invigilators ushering me out with their "Get out, so I can go home" eyes. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to sketch as much as I intended. Just got a quick sketch of a Rubens study and sketches of people walking around the museum foyer.




Latana took us to the Opera House at night. It was one of the highlights of my trip I think. The neo-baroque building was just so gorgeous and ornate. It's too bad I didn't have time to go inside. Maybe next time.



By the time I was set to go home on the Eurostar, my hopes of getting some shut eye before returning to London failed. I don't know what the baby behind me looked like, but it probably looked something like this.

Monday, September 27, 2010

5th Terrace Annual 2010


You know something worthwhile is happening when there is home sewn bunting around.








Well, the 5th Terrace Annual was on Saturday afternoon. It was the first real, crisp Autumn day in London. Saturday was sandwiched between two cold and rainy days, so we were really lucky to get such nice weather, especially for this outdoor event. The Terrace features dozens of artists who have contributed their pieces throughout the past five years. The pieces are left exposed to the elements and time. I thought it was a good opportunity to exercise a bit of unpossessiveness (if that's even a word. I can't think of an appropriate antonym for preciousness). Anyway, you get my drift.


It's hard to see in the photographs, but a large spider decided to create a little intervention by building a huge web over my painting. Amazing!!! I should collaborate with spiders more often. My messy painting with their delicate tapestries...

I hate writing about my work, because I feel like an ass telling people what an image should signify, but here's a little thing I wrote about how this piece relates to the subject of decay:

I think people are prone to hold onto objects that act as time capsules or immortality amulets. The figure in the painting wades in a pool, scavenging for a sign of life that will distract her from her own mildewy state. But as she blindly gropes around, even the flowers in her hand heave a sigh of brevity. The title references a musical genre popular in 1950s Louisiana, that faded into obscurity, while also referring to recent ecological devastation in that region.

Life springs forth from the earth and gets pulled back down by gravity, corporeality, and time. I am accepting of my mortality, but I find myself almost fearful of what outlives me. As a painter I concern myself with the materiality of my work, taking into account the archival quality of papers and gesso. But does it matter if these physical objects surpass the existence of it's maker? It would be embarrassing to find recognition (exploitation) after death. Like poor Van Gogh with his personal letters on public display and sunflowers reproduced on mugs. I'm better off if my work gets cast into the external elements. We can both decay as equals, in a sense.


It was nice to see my pals out, braving the cold.

There's me (in "Big Yellow") and my homeboy, Andrew, from Vancity.


Tash and Sadie.

Sade again with Ondra and Arnie.
Not pictured is Rosa and Tiger, who also came around, which, overall, made it an awesome day. Thanks to everyone who took the time to say hi!

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Pond Studies



This adjustable table on casters was passed over to me by Jess Piddock. It's a little low, but it's a good studio companion.





Oil and acrylic on paper.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Vellum Play



I have a habit of hoarding particular things for a prolonged period, just waiting for a special day when that item can be unearthed for a greater purpose. I guess I developed this problem as a kid, stashing away stickers and rocks and stuff. I still have this problem associated with stickers, although I don't keep a sticker album anymore. Nowadays, I'm more inclined to be precious with paper (and other drawing/painting surfaces), cobalt violet, and saffron.

I had a bit of vellum I have kept in my folder for god knows how long. It's traveled with me from Vancouver, throughout Spain, and now in London. I love this stuff.





When the oil spill off the Gulf of Mexico occurred, I found myself in the studio closely following the updates and stories through BBC radio. I made quite a few oily studies on canvas paper prepared with acrylic paint. I got impatient with waiting for the prepared surfaces to dry and decided to treat myself to the small squares of vellum I had stashed. It's magic when oil touches that stuff. I tried transferring this similar imagery to canvas and it didn't have the same feeling or effect at all. If I hadn't blown my money on that gouache set, I would have stocked up on more vellum.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Upcoming Exhibitions

So, there should be some good stuff happening this Autumn in London. Gosh, Autumn already...

This week!

NATASHA ROSLING



I met Tash in 2006 when we did a study exchange. She came to Vancouver and hung out at Emily Carr while I went to Chelsea and spent lunch at the Tate Britain. We were able to meet at the beginning and the tail end of our travels. She has since completed her MFA in Amsterdam and traveled the world participating in artist residencies from Shenzhen to Utica. Tash is a very hard worker and very cool. She will be having a solo show at Hidde van Seggelen Gallery from this Thursday, September 9th until October 17th.

The design for the site and the gorgeous press release was created by the extremely talented (and equally hard working) illustrator/ Madmen co-conspirator, Karolin Schnoor.




The London Art Book Fair




Art books, who doesn't love them? The fair will be held at the Whitechapel Gallery and there will be lots of talks and workshops offered throughout the weekend. Word is, there will be lots of deals, up to 40% off publications. Many of the events are free. I've just booked a free talk for Jake and Dinos Chapman AND a free ticket for the screening of Pull My Daisy, with cameos by Allen Ginsberg and Alice Neel (who, by the way, has an amazing retrospective at Whitechapel until the 17th)!
This neat-o book fair will take place September 24th to the 26th.

JESSICA JANG




And me, showing at the Terrace Annual 2010, my new painting, Swamp Pop. It's better in real-life, I promise. Click on the image to really zoom into the swampy mess. Please come down to the private view Saturday, 25th September 2010 3-7pm, at 4-17 Frederick Terrace, London, E8 4EW.

GAUGUIN


I'm not going to get into how I feel about Gauguin as a person and his choices in life,(as interpreted through text, rather than first person time-travel, duh), BUT I will say he lays down a mean palette. Can't wait to have my retinas massaged (and maybe kicked around) by his tropical hues. Oh man, oh man...
Tate Modern from September 30th to January 16th.

Monday, September 6, 2010

I'M BACK!?!

I know, I know, I'm lousy at keeping up with this blog. But I am here to revive it.



Since I've last posted, needless to say lots has happened, including the acquisition of a studio space on Fish Island. I've been lucky to find a nice spot amongst art pals Sadie Edginton and Jessica Piddock(unfortunately Jess has moved out and prepping for her MA course at Chelsea next year, so now we have David Bradley, confectionery extraodinaire in her place).


Those are some of Jess' portraits next to my stuff, during our open studio in August at the Hackney Wicked Art Festival.



I've been dragging myself down the Hackney canal and into the studio whenever possible. The studio is located right by a 2012 Olympic construction site. I get to see this monster grow larger and larger by the week as I cycle past.

It's been a tough Spring and Summer. I've been struggling to keep up with a steady studio practice. There were long periods of distrust of myself, my hands, and my mind. I would stare with bloodshot eyes at a mess I couldn't even recognize before me. But with slow perseverance, I think the worst of it is over and I can get on with things. I guess that's just the partial hazard of working mostly by yourself, removed from the world, in a room scented with turps.

Yeah, anyway, I'm back and feeling alright about things.