19 Jun 2017

The 'Reality' of Photo Art Today

   The 'Reality' of Photo Art Today
by
Shibu Arakkal

“The greater the number of people who share a subjective opinion in favour of a work of art, the greater the possibility of that work becoming timeless”

Hiroshi-Sugimoto _ Boden Sea, Image courtesy Uttwil _ https-__fraenkelgallery.com_wp-content_uploads_2012_05_Hiroshi-Sugimoto
Hiroshi Sugimoto Boden Sea
Beginning this article with a quote of my own might seem self-absorbed but the quote itself is my distilled understanding of my learnings about art, having spent the greater portion of my life around art and artists and to later specialising in it as my medium of practice.

This article is my response to John Raymond Mireles’ article on petapixel.com titled ‘Why Photographers Don’t Get Modern Art’, which I found touched on many aspects of Contemporary Art which are close to my heart.

Before I make my way to contemporary photographic art, I would like to mention my dad’s (Yusuf Arakkal) words (possibly someone else’s originally), who is no more and someone who was one of the very significant and relevant contemporary artists from post-independence India. He used to say that any work of art will only be judged by time and no one else. Much as I too believe that, the statement also seems to put current art in a bit of a quandary in the sense of what is widely agreeable, certainly about the credibility and calibre of art done over the last thirty odd years. As Mireles points out that most of the art done over this period, varying in styles and mediums has been rather vaguely termed Post-modernist. Noting Mireles’ article, the most common statement a lot of this kind of art has been faced with from its popular audience is ‘I could have done that too’, to which I go back to what my dad used to say, ‘But you didn’t’.

If I were to name widely agreed-upon greats as Michelangelo, Da Vinci, Rembrandt, Salvador Dali of a few, I would quite confidently say that there would be little subjectivity about the ‘great’ calibre of their work, not just in the art world but even with the art literate. This level of consensus on a type or specificity of art, I fear often comes after the artist’s time and in his day leads to much debate and quarrel about the true ‘greatness’ or calibre of the art itself.
Edward Steichen's 'Road into the Valley' | Negative 1904 / Print 1906, Edward Steichen _ Road into the Valley _ negative 1904_ print 1906 _ commons.wikimedia.org.jpg
Edward Steichen's 'Road into the Valley' | Negative 1904 / Print 1906

Man Ray's Portrait of Dora Maar | 1936, Image courtesy Man Ray _ Portrait of Dora Maar, 1936 _ in.pinterest.com
Man Ray's Portrait of Dora Maar | 1936

Irving Penn's Skulls | Late 1970s, Image courtesy http://www.highsnobiety.com/2017/01/05/irving-penn-photographer/
Irving Penn's Skulls | Late 1970s
Bill Brandt's 'Coal Searcher Going Home to Jarrow' | 1937, Image courtesy Coal-searcher Going Home to Jarrow, Bill Brandt, 1937 _ moma.org.jpg
Bill Brandt's 'Coal Searcher Going Home to Jarrow' | 1937
Up until the point when photography arrived on the scene, painting seemed to be the most ‘realistic’ art form but it obviously couldn’t compete with photography in that department. From then on painting seemed to get fervently preoccupied with philosophical and conceptual interpretations of reality in their widest as well as technical sense.
Annie Leibovitz | The Three Ghost, Image Courtesy http://mymodernmet.com/annie-leibovitz-disney-dream-portraits/
Annie Leibovitz | The Three Ghosts
Although photography due to its ‘realistic’ character became a medium of documentation, there have been several photographers who chose to use the medium artistically. Of the ones who have, I count Edward Steichen, Man Ray, Irving Penn, Bill Brandt and in more recent times, Annie Leibovitz, David LaChapelle, Cindy Sherman amongst others who seem to have succeeded by the earlier stated benchmark of subjectivity.






David LaChapelle 'Icarus' | 2012, Image courtesy DAVID LACHAPELLE _ ICARUS, 2012 _ https-__www.facebook.com_librairiegalerielouisrozen_photos_a.759648724055310.1073741827.759639670722882_1075277845825728__type=3&theater.jpg
David LaChapelle 'Icarus' | 2012
 
Cindy Sherman's 'Untitled #305' | 1994, Untitled #305, 1994, Image courtesy Cindy Sherman _ www.arthistoryarchive.com.jpg
Cindy Sherman's 'Untitled #305' | 1994
As Mireles mentions, stalwarts like Ansel Adams became the leaders of a modernist movement in photography, creating a style while crafting techniques that are relevant to this day.

Ansel Adams | Aspens Northern New Mexico | 1958, Image courtesy Ansel Adams, Aspens, Northern New Mexico, 1958 _ anseladams.com.jpg
Ansel Adams | Aspens Northern New Mexico | 1958
Until recently all two-dimensional visual art forms aiming to recreate or interpret reality have incorporated visually appreciable elements such as the subjective use of colour and contrast, creating an idea of composition relative to the viewing frame of the work itself, the use of lighting as an image enhancing element, amongst other things. This approach made the artwork distinctly ‘artistic' as opposed to faithfully realistic.

Even Photorealism in painting was a visual depiction of the way the camera or the lens saw reality with all the subjective artistic enhancements.

In photography, from Pictorialism to Modernism there was always a conscious effort made to heighten, if not strengthen these aspects of a photograph that made it more appreciable albeit not very realistic. To the point, that true realism was never seen as very interesting a visual idea.

With all art that is very ‘now’ such as a lot of new media or contemporary experimental work, I can’t honestly tell if the demand is due to the hype, which seems to be almost critical to the success of the work or if it is just the reality of the market. I do however feel strongly that in years to come, classical ideas of photography will stand on its own, even if in its own niche. And I think will also be regarded for its unique sensibility and aesthetic, simply because it has a visually rich tradition and processes, unlike any other print medium.
Thomas Demand's 'Clearing' | Gallery Display, Image courtesy Thomas Demand _Clearing_ 2 _ artblart.com.jpg
Thomas Demand's 'Clearing' | Gallery Display


Thomas Demand's 'Clearing' | Venice Biennale Display, Image courtesy Thomas Demand _Clearing_ 1 _ in.pinterest.com
Thomas Demand's 'Clearing' | Venice Biennale Display
I see photography's lead into new styles (or movements, we wait to find out) in the digital era that are either a very real interpretation of reality, visually faithful, devoid of artistic enhancements i.e. as the human memory remembers a seen visual, one that tries to harness the power of that memory and to somehow remain austere of those luxuries that we once considered appreciable, even fundamental.

Or tangentially giving rise to a concept such as Hyperrealism, where using, while pushing the boundaries, every available digitally technological means in creating images that are almost too sharp, with colour and contrast in their widest gamut ever seen in the history of photography. And to use photographs in their singular form or as multiples in stitching together, morphing, layering or making seamless digital collages that give one an illusion of a visual that could be real but isn’t really. Hyperrealism in its most experimental techniques challenges dimensions, the vertical and horizontal axes, space and in ways, time and fundamentally obliterates our secure bearings of visual comprehension. It is as much to be understood as accepted that photo editing and processing software from here on will be considered legitimately complimentary tools to photography and not as has been, an unholy convenience or an impurity in the process. This is especially where my views differ from those of Mireles’.
Lee Jeffries' Hyperrealistic Series on Homeless Children, Image courtesy Lee Jeffries _ Homeless Children _ in.pinterest.com
Lee Jeffries' Hyperrealistic Series on Homeless Children
The new wave of western painters seem to already have eagerly embraced these two styles of visual interpretation and will hopefully further the basic premise and idea with more freedom. Especially given that painting unlike photography doesn't have the constraints of working with subjects that are already existent.

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About the Author: Shibu Arakkal is a ‘Lorenzo il Magnifico’ Gold Prize winning photo artist, based in Bangalore, who has practised his art for over twenty years, and has shown his work extensively in India and abroad. One might bump into him riding his motorcycle, or cross paths with him while he is satiating his travel yearnings. He is a self-admitted dog-lover and philosopher inspired always by his daughter Zarah. You can connect with him on facebook.com/ShibuArakkalPhotoArt.com and www.instagram.com/ShibuArakkal

All images are for reference purposes and have been sourced by the author from the Internet, mainly from the artists' websites, Facebook and Pinterest pages. Please view image details for the source.

16 Jun 2017

Art News: Jaipur Art Summit 2017

5th edition of Jaipur Art Summit (Dec 14-18, 2017) planned on a much larger scale


Rajasthan and specifically Jaipur, which had always been an art, culture and heritage rich city in the world has now steadily and strongly made its presence felt on the world art scenario. Jaipur is creating an international language of art, literature and design and some of the festivals have been really instrumental in giving Jaipur an international and national presence, one of them being the Jaipur Art Summit. 

Over the past 4 years, the Jaipur Art Summit has been able to create a premier platform for modern and contemporary art in the state to display the work of masters as well as young and upcoming artists from the globe. The five day long event is a first of its kind in the state. 
Its effort is to take the rich legacy of the state in various art forms across many mediums and formats like painting, digital art, art installations, sculptures, interactive art and other contemporary and folk-centric expressions to a wider spectrum of audience. 
Art News, 5th edition of Jaipur Art Summit (Dec 14-18, 2017), Art Scene India
It includes an international painting exhibition, national seminars / talks on contemporary and traditional art related subjects by scholars of repute, international art camp, site specific art installations, live art demonstrations of rare art forms, video art screenings and art films apart from performing art forms. 

The prime objective of the summit is to bring together artists working in different mediums and genres, cultural art players, art historians, critics, institutions and galleries from the country and the globe to promote art and build an environment for appreciation for arts, exchange of peer learning and knowledge sharing. This will help in bringing together regional, national and international voices alongside a world view, fostering possibilities of partnerships and create newer pathways for art promotion globally. 

In this coming 5th edition of Jaipur Art Summit the event is planned on a much larger scale taking into its ambit many more dimensions of not only contemporary art but also tribal and traditional arts internationally, owing to the response in the 2016 edition.

In 2017, the scheduled dates for Jaipur Art Summit are 14-18 December and the Summit would include participation of international/ Indian artists, art colleges, literary figures, architects and interior designers in several distinctive art events like: 
  • International Artists Camp and Artist Interactive Sessions 
  • International Art Exhibition  and Galleries Show 
  • Demonstration of Tribal and Traditional Arts 
  • Site Specific Art Installations 
  • Contemporary Art Talk and Discussions 
  • Art Movies and Art Critics Session 
  • Art Performance Shows 
  • Creative Art Workshops
  • Graffiti and Street Arts 
  • Experimental Photography Shows 
  • Digital and Multimedia Arts 
  • Performing Arts (Folk/ Theatre/ Music/ Dance)

(press release)

22 May 2017

Bangalore: MAY 2017 Screening of Films at NGMA

NATIONAL GALLERY OF MODERN ART BENGALURU (NGMA B)
(Ministry of Culture, Government of India)

in collaboration with

Bangalore Film Society

invites you for

Journeying through life & relationships in 
the passage of time

MAY 2017 screening of films 

All the films will start @5 pmEntry is Free on first come first serve basis. All are invited!

In the month of May we return to a series of films by auteur directors like Akira Kurosowa, Andrei Tarkovsky, Jim Jarmusch, David Lynch and Asghar Farhadi. These seminal films are philosophical deliberations on living and dying, journeys made through life, relationships formed and the passing of time. 

Akira Kurosawa’s 1952 film Ikiru (can be translated ‘to Live’) deals with a dying man and his final desperate quest for meaning. In Stalker, Andrei Tarkovsky (1979) explores existential desires and meaning. What makes life worth living? What is reality, and how does one define it? Even today we are unraveling the layers of a complex cinematic experience like Stalker but Tarkovsky often insisted that his films held no coded messages, rather they were visual poetry which strove to convey emotion rather than meaning. David Lynch’s The Straight Story from 1999 is a classic American Road Movie, based on a true story of Alvin Straight’s 240 mile journey on a lawn mower to meet his estranged invalid brother.  The film is a beautiful, understated search for self and examination of mortality. Jim Jarmusch’s Broken Flowers (2005) is a comedy-drama film that explores the alienation and desperation that comes as a result of not making any choices in an absurd existence. The movie stars Bill Murray as a man on a road trip, searching for the mother of a son he may have fathered. And finally a 2009 film by Asghar Farhadi titled About Elly, a curious psychological drama through a fascinating interplay of personal and social relationships amongst a group of middle class Iranian friends on a vacation.
Tuesday 23rd May 2017
Ikiru (Akira Kurosawa, 1952)  2 hours 23 minutes
Wednesday 24th May 2017
Stalker (Andrei Tarkovsky, 1979) 2 hours 43 minutes
Thursday 25th May 2017
The Straight Story (David Lynch, 1999) 1 hour 52 minutes
Friday 26th May 2017
Broken Flowers (Jim Jarmusch, 2005) 1 hour 46 minutes
Saturday 27th May 2017
About Elly (Asghar Farhadi, 2009) 1 hour 59 minutes

27 Apr 2017

Art News: Call for applications for Artist Residency in Manipal University

Call for applications for Artist Residency in Manipal University last date May 15, 2017

The intention of this Art Residency at Manipal University is to add to the public art and aesthetics of the University. The University has already taken a major step in art-advocacy by hosting the prestigious KK Hebbar Gallery, and wants to further extend its support to young and talented artists. This year the Resident is required to be a Sculptor. As the University is located in a culturally and ecologically distinct region, it is preferred if the selected Artist pays homage to this distinctness by working with material (for example, laterite) native to the region. The idea is to create works, individually or in exceptional cases as part of a group of 3-4, that dot the landscape of the many different types of Institutions (such as medical, engineering, hospitality etc )that constitute the University. The works should be clearly visible, and perhaps pinned in a way that they cannot be stolen. It is also a key requirement that the Artist be a good communicator, who is willing to take customized classes/demonstrations in these varied Institutions explaining the rationale, process, and the need for public visibility of art in non-museum spaces. Such an opportunity is a great incentive for the selected Artist—his or her work would literally be seen by thousands of young people every day, and would become part of their lives.

The University will also provide opportunities for the Artist to further curate and exhibit their work, and mentor interested and talented students. The Artists need to submit their CV, with photos/samples of their work, a statement of what they hope to achieve in the given time, and details of budget, materials and other requirements for their work. The remuneration offered to the main sculptor is Rs 50,000/- per month for 3 months, and if there are a few assistants, their remuneration may be up to Rs. 30,000 per month.

The K K HEBBAR ART FOUNDATION will select the artist for the Artist Residency Project.

Dr Nikhil Govind
HGAC MANIPAL

All applications to be directed to: raorekha460(at)gmail.com, rajanipras(at)yahoo.com
(Press release received from Rekha Rao)

11 Apr 2017

Art News: Google doodle celebrates Jamini Roy's birth anniversary


The Google doodle today, 11th Apr, 2017, celebrates the 130th birth anniversary of Jamini Roy, with an image inspired by his Black Horse painting


The Google doodle today, 11th Apr, 2017, celebrates the 130th birth anniversary of Jamini Roy, with an image inspired by his Black Horse painting. Art Scene India

Jamini Roy (1887–1972) was a graduate from the Government College of Art, Kolkata, who gained recognition for his stylized paintings rooted in folk art traditions. The 1920s were remarkable for the search for identity on the creative front, and artists experimented with various subjects, themes, techniques and medium to express their artistic vision. Amidst this, Jamini Roy was drawn to the folk arts of Bengal, and simplified forms, while adopting bold, flat colours, and painted stories of ordinary men and women from villages, and other popular images inspired from the patua style.

“The appropriation of folk idioms manifested in various ways. There was a phase in which he adopted the calligraphic brush lines of Kalighat Patuas to create sophisticated forms. The austerity of lines only serves to highlight Roy’s superb control over brush. The lines drown lyrically and sometimes even sensuously with lampblack over white or pale gray background show not only vigour, but also the poetry latent in the human form. The paintings Baul and Woman Seated are excellent example of this style.” (1)

Jamini Roy – Mother and Child, oil on canvas, mid 1920. National Gallery of Modern Art collection,The Google doodle today, 11th Apr, 2017, celebrates the 130th birth anniversary of Jamini Roy, with an image inspired by his Black Horse painting. Art Scene India
‘Ramayana’ considered to be his magnum opus is spread across 17 canvases and is created in the Kalighat pata style with natural colors, using earth, chalk powder and vegetable colors instead of dyes. The complete “Ramayana” is on display today at Sarada Charan Das' residence "Rossogolla Bhavan" in Kolkata along with 8 other large scale originals. The Das residence harbors the largest private collection of Jamini Roy paintings with 25 of the master’s originals. (2) Many of his other works can be viewed in the National Gallery of Modern Art in New Delhi.

Jamini Roy received many awards including the Padma Bhushan in 1955, he passed away in 1972.

Roy has played a huge role in popularizing Indian art among the masses and his works are recognised widely with ease. He is perhaps, one of the most copied Indian artists and for that reason, often it is difficult to assess the originality of his works.


(1) http://www.ngmaindia.gov.in/sh-jamini-roy.asp#

(2) http://www.kcdas.co.in/sarada.php

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