This Week’s 5 Major Art Fucking Picks #2

Art is the only domain in which you can play God without needing permission or resources. Art is the only domain in which asking for permission means hanging your spirit, the only domain in which censor will hopefully always lose battles in the continuous war. We are constantly hungry for amazing artists: old and new, known or not, disturbing, with the power of making us cringe and crave. Breathtaking, human, inhuman, striking, painful and liberating, demonic, psychedelic.

This is a new column and varied Cultartes editors will contribute to it. So we are searching and saving and promoting what makes our darkness itch and our hearts melt, whats sets us off, confuses us and makes us want to taste more. What leaves us bare, scared and delighted.

That being said, mighty reader-soldiers, here are our top 5 choices for this week:

Eleanor Adair

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(c) Eleanor Adair

Ok, well before I begin to comment on the painting, titled  “The Matador” let’s get to know Eleanor a little bit:

Eleanor Adair was born and grew up in Glasgow, Scotland. She left school at 16 and later travelled to Alaska where she exhibited her work in Wasilla. She continued her travels over the next few years, spending time living and exhibiting in Paris. Her work has been exhibited throughout the UK, including Liverpool, Glasgow, and London and in 1996 she was awarded the John. F. Munro Purchase Prize through the Society of Scottish Artists in Edinburgh. She currently lives and works in Edinburgh where she ran the Kiroh Gallery from 2004 to 2006 and has exhibited many times at the Royal Scottish Academy. She has had no formal art training.

Now, what made me select this particular painting is the fact that out of all existent colors, there is one I don’t like. It reminds me of hospital dirt and disease and all that filth we are so used to sweep under freshly clean carpets to maintain an appearance. This painting is one of the very few exceptions in which I feel delighted by the color. It was made using acrylic on canvas and if I were to go by the meaning suggested by the title I would say that the yellow plays the role of the madness of the bull. I find it interesting that she didn’t choose to use red, which is known to be the color which drives bulls mad, but that’s not true. It’s a myth, bulls don’t prefer a certain color.

Moving on, I see three characters in this painting (I might be wrong but this is my point of view). Two humanoids, one in the top left corner and the other close to the bottom right corner. In the middle, held like in some sort of hug I see the bull. As a whole I think this painting reflects the restrain the animal feels when used for the “fun” of humans. The appearance of the hug, is just an appearance, like a marketing strategy.

Though, if I were to completely go by personal interpretation, not taking in consideration the title, this painting looks like a dissociative episode. Whether we’re talking about the disorder or just about the fact that we are so much, constantly, shot with information that we have to dissociate from more than half of it. The yellow in either case wraps up the painting as a whole. It mixes so well with the blue-gray shades and the black that it gives you the feeling of all the colors being one, only one that is alive, shifting and changing.

Mirekis

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(c) Mirekis

Mirekis is a Polish artist born in Stalowa Wola and he is specialized in dark surreal photography. Yeah, I can definitely see that. But there’s a lot more to it. He combines landscapes with portraits of people, he isn’t limited just to that obviously, but whatever he morphs to create chimera photographs give me a mythical-alchemical feel.

Let me take them apart because I might confuse you if I explain them together.

The mythical part – every god in every mythology is the god of something: of war, of sun, of love and the list can go on. Some gods have even more concepts or parts of whatever makes a world under their management. Let’s take Veles for example, because I think he fits very well the picture I selected.

Veles, also known as Volos, is a god known in Slavic cultures mostly, but not only. He is the god of earth, waters, forests and the underworld. He is associated with cattle, the harvest, wealth, music, magic and trickery.

It is believed that he is related to the Indo-European deity of Mitra and the Norse deity Loki.

Those are exactly the elements I see in Mirekis’s picture. You have the ship masts on top, the ruins of an underwater city and plenty of vegetation. And, of course, they all form the mighty portrait. So I would say this photograph is like a snapshot caught by a petty human, accidentally seeing a god manifesting himself with all of his power.

PS: I know god should be spelled with G, but I think it’s bullshit. 🙂

The alchemical part – chimeras and homunculus.

We must first go through a few words about alchemy. It was practiced in Europe, Africa and Asia, as a method of aiming to purify and perfect certain objects. The most common area of practice was the transmutation of base metals like lead, into noble metals like gold.

However, a point of interest was also the creation of an elixir of immortality, the creation of panaceas that would cure any disease and development of an universal solvent. Why? Because our species is naturally preoccupied with the perfection of the human body and soul and in Europe, crafting the philosopher’s stone was connected with all of those projects.

What is the philosopher stone? An alchemical substance capable of doing what I just wrote, all of it! It was the main symbol of alchemy, symbolizing perfection, enlightenment and bliss. Yeah, so we’re just gonna create something that will help us reach what we are to lazy to  (enlightenment) or the impossible (perfection).

There were a few theories which said that homunculus (artificial man) can be used as a philosopher’s stone (because we are only going to sacrifice whoever is not like “us”).

Since chimeras were easier to create, because it’s more of a Frankenstein process, you take parts of living things and make another living thing of them. Plus there are already concepts of real chimeras in science (genetics) and medicine (different from the mythical ones of course, but with a similar core), I guess homunculi lost popularity over the years.

To get back to the photograph. It can either be a chimera, man brought to life by being mixed with the underwater earth or an attempt to create a homunculus.

Roberto Ferri

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(c) Roberto Ferri

Roberto Ferri is an Italian painter born in Taranto, who has a soft spot for Baroque painters (Caravaggio in particular) and masters of Romanticism, the Academy, and Symbolism.

His work now resides in important private collections in Rome, Milan, London, Paris, New York, Madrid, Barcelona, Miami, San Antonio (Texas), Qatar, Dublin, Boston, Malta, and the Castle of Menerbes in Provence.

I bet this painting is every angry feminist’s dream (I’m joking or am I? Ok. I am, but only because relating this masterpiece to feminism would mean to not appreciate it to it’s full potential).

I see this painting like a symbol of power. From the beheaded man, to the clean and very beautifully confident woman. There’s also a nuance of justice I am sensing. The golden upper corners suggest some kind of nobility, perhaps a divine kind of nobility, no matter if we are talking about religion, faith or just the power of feminine symbolism (you know, we give life and stuff like that, we also seduce you, to the point of no return, but this last part works in both ways).

I am drooling over how well the flesh is done, not only in this work but in all. Roberto is one of the few artists which literally make me want to take a bite of every character in his paintings.

Luiza Preda

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(c) Luiza Preda

Lately I just keep writing about her, she keeps stitching to my brain.

Luiza is a student photographer from Romania. She was born in Galați and is currently living in Cluj (one of the most culture oriented cities in Romania).

I am always surprised by her work. There are very few young artists in Romania with this much of a potential. I even tried to gather more than 30 to write a collective article at some point, but I couldn’t even get half of the number. I’m not trying to be rude here. I think there are many talented youngsters in Romania, but too few of them know it, too few of them use it, too few of them have the freedom form their families and society to manifest themselves artistically. Romania is a butcher for the young-chaotic-creative spirit.

Luiza surprises me because she didn’t give a fuck. She creates whatever she feels and she has a very deep understanding of cultural, philosophical, psychological concepts, all dressed up in the striking blue eyes of a voyeur. The picture I selected is something new, something I’ve never seen her create before and for me, it represents another important pillar in her evolution.

Zdzisław Beksiński

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(c) Zdzisław Beksiński

Another Polish painter, Zdzisław Beksiński was also a photographer and sculptor, specializing in the field of dystopian surrealism. He labbeled his creations as “Baroque” or “Gothic” and while I can see why, I don’t really agree, but oh well.

He created mainly in two periods. The doomsday part was the first and then, he shifted to a more abstract style.

After studying architecture in Kraków, he returned Sanok, the city where he was born to work as a construction site supervisor. This was not the life he dreamt obviously and as time passed he developed an interest in montage photography, sculpting and painting.

In the early stages of his sculpting he would often use his construction site materials. His early photography was also a precursor to his later paintings, often depicting peculiar wrinkles, desolate landscapes and still-life faces on rough surfaces.

He had no formal training as an artist and yet he painted so beautifully grotesque that I will never forget him. Beksiński preferred to create using oil on hardboard panels which he personally prepared, but he also experimented with acrylics and preferred to listen to classical music while painting, but was also a lover of rock. (He credited music as his main source of inspiration.)

Despite his creations, he was a pleasant person to have around, with a strong sense of humor, modest and somewhat shy. The painter used to avoid public events such as the openings of his own exhibitions and he almost never visited museums or exhibitions.

Here comes the glitch

Well, apparently despite his twisted creations he claimed that some of his works were misunderstood, he though they were optimistic or even humorous. He did not care about their meaning and interpretation and so he refused to provide titles for them.

This wasn’t a general disinterest, it was some sort of denial actually, that’s how I see it, after he burnt in 1977 a selection of his works in his own backyard with the argument that some of them were too personal and he didn’t want people to see them.

Beksinski seemed to believe that art was about the fragility of the flesh, that whatever pleases us dooms us and his paintings do show a great deal of decay and the struggle for and with life.

I don’t know how he was in his day to day life, but reading about his death is almost as if he painted all of that dystopia as if he knew, unconsciously, in the darkest corners of his mind that at some point, tragedies would hit him.

His wife Zofia died and 1998 and one year later, on Christmas eve, his son Tomasz commited suicide. The painter was the one who discovered his son’s body and he was unable to come to terms with what happened. He kept an envelope, pinned on a wall on which was written: “For Tomek in case I kick the bucket”

A few years later, in 2005, the painter was found dead in his flat in Warsaw with 17 stab wounds. Robert Kupiec, the 19 year old son of Beksinski’s caretaker, and a friend were arrested shortly after.

Because I wrote a lot about him and I know I’m starting to bore you, I will only like to add a few more lines about why I love his work so much. There is this string which we share, his images are like as if he took a walk in my nightmares and decided to do a photoshoot from his own understanding. Let’s say that the dystopia in my head is a little more modern, because I am a 21st century product, but the rest fits like a glove. I look at what he left behind and I feel that he knew there is more to our minds than our bodies locked up in this seemingly concrete reality. He greeted his demons with a big chunk of meat and a smile on his face, fed them like his pets until they crawled on the outside (maybe, probably, I don’t know, I can only guess) and showed him that they can also win through external forces not only internal.

There is a homey air I feel when I stare at the textures he illustrated and comfort from the colors he used. There’s the pleasure of getting lost, because you can’t really afford to get lost in real life, if you have goals (unless your goal is to get lost). There’s a sentiment that we are witnessing something heartbreaking beautiful with our closed eyes. Because as long as they are closed, everything looks like our society & not like his work. 

Bonus

Since my lucky number is 6 and I hate respecting any rules 100% (even my own), there always has to be a crack made for slipping through. This week’s slipping crack is from Russia, with a beautiful cold compassion.

Dimitry Markov

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(c) Dimitry Markov

His album already was shared and discussed, debated on the internet in the past days, so I will not comment on it anymore. It’s beautiful, breathtaking, raw, honest and diverse. It’s great! Congratulations!

That’s all folks, the artists which mind-fucked me this week. Stay tuned for the next episode!

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Bucharest-based artist. Psychedelic photographer, brain-scratching writer / poetess and priestess of the macabre.

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