Sunday, January 04, 2009

They Mean The Most To Me

During the brief time I've taken off – over what are, in Australia, the Christmas, New Year and summer holiday seasons rolled into one – I've been thinking about what artists' works have had a persistent hold on my imagination. There are only a few – and none are young or 'of the moment'.
Paula Rego
makes sculptures that she then arranges like strange puppets. She also paints. Although I like her paintings, her sculptures interest me much more. They are put together crudely, with papier maché and stuffed hosiery, but they have a subtle refinement of proportion and detail.
Rock paintings by the San, or Bushmen, of southern Africa:
I've been thinking a lot about art made using objects found in an artist's immediate environment. The San are said to have mixed pigments with tree gum, milk, animal fat, plant juices and body fluids of animals and insects and used their fingers and brushes made from sticks, feathers and bones. As explained by David Lewis-Williams, the San's paintings are about San mythology, and spirit world. To enter a spirit world, trancing has to be initiated by a Shaman through the hunting of power animals, such as the eland. Elegant Shamanic figures with cloven feet hold the tail of dying eland. Both have their legs crossed at the ankle. In another, the shaman begins to take on more of the animal's form. The human-animal combination has been used by thousands of artists since. What interests me most is the visual representation of the transition to a spirit world.
Ghada Amer:
I'm less interested in the subject matter of Amer's work than I am in its use of embroidery, the traditionally female 'craft' of sewing. Amer leaves threads loose and hanging.They look like delicate drips of paint (with which they are often combined). In her more abstract works, the thread takes on a gossamer quality, forming chaotic, intricate patterns in their tangle.
Jackson Pollock:
I saw Blue Poles at the Australian National Gallery when I was just a kid. It overwhelmed me like a magnificent storm, paint flying about in a way that looked random but was very deliberately placed. I've thought of that work, now and then, ever since, especially when I'm at the beach, staring at random, geometric patterns carved into the sandstone cliffs by powerful Pacific swells. I wasn't very interested in Pollock beyond that work until I saw a documentary on his life, the other day. Now what interests me is that he created a new way of painting. I want to know the process, how he came to paint in that way, and why he lived his life the way he did.
Cy Twombly:
A few years ago, I bought a number of large books on Twombly but for some reason, I lost interest and never read them. Then, after beginning to use words in my own work, my interest returned. Often, when I am using words in art, I focus purely on mark making. The words are important, but during the process, they become a texture. I'm still not totally enamored of Twombly's work but I'm really interested in what lies beneath it.
Alan Moore
is a writer (famed for the graphic novels Watchmen, V for Vendetta and From Hell), artist, vegetarian, anarchist, practising magician and occultist. Impressively intelligent, he lives within his eccentric world completely.
I should also include Francesco Clemente and Andy Goldsworthy in this list but I have written so much about them before on this blog, I probably don't need to say more.
Who'd be on your list?


Anonymous said...

Hi Hazel,

One of my favorite
movies is Pollock,
with Ed Harris and
Marcia Gay Harden.
Rather dark but a great
example of his life and work.


Anonymous said...

Billy Childish – just for the energy and relentless output across various media.

leigh said...

Robert Ryman
John Baldessari
Chris Burden

for now.

happy new year!
leigh wt

sue beyer said...

I am interested in Gauguin. I love the way he uses colour.

Mr Y said...

Paul McCarthy

I saw his exihibition in a large space filled with his designs, it was like a brief walk through hell, really scary. And he is alive so that's 5 bonus points to me.

Imani said...

Andy Goldsworthy is definitely one of my favorites. He moves so deliberately to make these beautifully elaborate installations. In his Rivers and Tides movie, he gives his whole explanation behind his work and it's breathtaking. If you haven't seen it Hazel, I highly recommended it. Very good to focus on, or excellent background noise.

(by the way, i just finished reading all of your posts today. im a huge fan!)

Roman said...

I second the listing of Pollock (also love the movie!) and Twombley. I would like to add Franz Kline for his bold mark making and Man Ray & Marcel Duchamp for pushing the boundaries of art.

blah blah blah said...

Kurt Schwitters, mainly because of the heartbreaking story of his flight from Germany and leaving his wife with his son to seek sanctuary.

Because he was a Dadaist outside Dada makes him more of the movement somehow.

His persistence with his art in what must have been awful conditions make me feel that his work goes beyond the desire to be famous or lucrative in your time. He makes a lot of current artist seem shallow, just chasing the megabuck.

Hugo Ball is a hero too, dressing up in cardboard in Zurich and spouting nonsense seems the only sane response to the events of his time.

Sorry, I go on a bit!

blah blah blah said...

just warming to the theme a little...

I'm 50 miles behind everyone else but when you read of some of the lives of artists, the sacrifices, painting under the threat of death, painting to eat the next day, painting lovers every day as they slowly die, turning it not into "things that people don't need to have." but a reason to be here...

...and then compare and contrast with a picture of Emin, legs spread on the floor clawing piles of money

...Hirst inflating the price ridiculously of another bauble

I just feel like screaming "somebody DO something!"

maybe the people that really are great in our life-times are so under the radar now, we will be long dead before they are recognised.

artcanyell said...

Hannah Hoch (sp?) is a major inspiration. Someone should make a movie about her life. Lets not forget Freda Khalo who outshone her famous husband eventually.