Esoteric and mysticism inspired creations have always been a little strange, drawing on all kinds of imagery and symbolism to represent the unrepresentable. Just take a look at the work of Bosch, Blake, and Böcklin to see how the imaginary world of the spirit realm is given precedence by visionary artists.
“The artist must be blind to distinction between 'recognised' or 'unrecognised' conventions of form, deaf to the transitory teaching and demands of his particular age.”
― Wassily Kandinsky, Concerning the Spiritual in Art
To take something to new levels of perception, we have to see things in new ways. Art is all about representation. The way we perceive art depends on what it represents to us. To see familiar themes and forms running through works, we associate one with the other and make personal judgements on taste. So to break from form,to talk about something in a way that no-one else is doing, it's not surprising when nobody listens. To make a mark, to notch that tree of creativity with our idea, it must become bigger than we are.
The art of the nineteenth and twentieth century painter František Kupka has been pivotal in the way we look at colour, form, and representation. Perhaps the Godfather of the Abstract Art scene, the works peel totally away from the realism and iconic portrayals so many had strived to produce. Kupka forgot about making things look real, he forgot about natural, he forgot about material. The works show us life and sensations with what was then a brand new language.
As a huge influence on Marcel Duchamp, Kupka is perhaps more recognised through the latter's more famous offerings. The Grand Palais in France has made a huge effort to re-shift the power-balance in the equation. Showing over 300 pieces including manuscripts, paintings, photography, and papers, the Czech artist is being shown for the true inspiration that he was.
Described often as the “Artist's artist”, the personality of Kupka made its way into that of several other big names at the time. In this depository of creative ideas that was the larger community and social life of the artist, naturally many more slightly adjusted templates emerged. Well travelled, being born in what was then Austria-Hungary in the 1870s, Kupka moved to Prague to study fine arts. He then established himself in Montmatre, Paris, in 1896 and began his career.
For the first time in the general field of view, colour and shape were used to symbolise sensations and relationships between ourselves and the hidden world. In occult fashion, hidden meanings were knitted through the various shapes and patterns depicted. By showing colour as vibrant and full of light, people become almost dream like beings experiencing material situations. This is the doorway many other artists needed to walk through to find their niche in the painting and descriptive arts world.
British practising Muslim and artist, Nasima Ahmed, has become quite a phenomenon on Instagram. Operating under the name of Moosleemargh, her works depict an interpretation of Muslim life from her own eyes. The work of the Islamic world has always been vibrant and colourful, and has often incorporated geometry and number.
Nasima has said that she'd like her work to communicate universal human experience and situations from a Muslim perspective for those who are non-Muslim. By doing this, she hopes to improve cultural understanding and appreciation for differing cultures. While living in Britain, which is multi-cultural in nature, being a part of a minority will naturally carry its own burdens. The art work addresses this head on in colourful and easy going images.
Because in the modern day artists utilise the power of social media to communicate their work, the way artists operate has changed. We now rely on shares, likes, interactions, and sales. Before, we just had to put up a shop somewhere and sell what we make. The modern art customer expects a lot more now, and if we don't give it to them, they will find an artist who will. It doesn't take a moment to upload a shareable version of some of our work for potential fans and customers to enjoy.
Why not check her out on Instagram
You can read an interview with Nasima on Muslim Vibe. (Where I sourced the images)
I am a huge fan of graphic novels and comic books. I used to read The Beano when I was knee high or slightly bigger, and now I see my son enjoying Lego comics in the same way. For children, they encourage a love for imagery, reading, and memorable characters with merits they can aspire to. It's good to see role models portrayed in superhero status, or in strange settings, combining the imagination with true to life experiences makes a great work of art. Now the classics with big names earn big money at auction, for example Spider-Man page originals often go for tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars each! Even the vintage comics on eBay are fetching a fair few.
Celebrating the medium of graphic story telling, which has its roots in tapestry like the one at Bayeux, draws in as many crowds today as it has always done. Many! There's something about the combination of iconic imagery with brief literary descriptions that attracts people. Perhaps it's the two forms of information in one medium combined that makes them easy to interpret and understand. We perhaps feel more involved with the plot and the story when we can see it, read it and imagine it all at once.
An Exhibit run by The Society Of Illustrators in NYC now holds the largest collection to date of classic artwork from the comic books of past and present. We can see for ourselves the almost sacred pages of Spider-Man, Thor, and Captain America editions from when they began. These characters have entered the psyche of millions if not billions of children over the years. Their ethic of struggle against evil, good friends, and strong personality has served to inspire countless real life versions.
The exhibit, called “Art of the Avengers and Others” sits on the Upper East Side of the city. Ask for directions if like me you might get lost. It's on the corner of 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue at the Museum of Illustration. I'm sure locals know exactly where that is. Spider-Man's co-creator Steve Ditko who recently passed away, has several originals in the show. Old methods of comic book production required artists to completely make the page original from blank paper with inks painted by hand. The scribes would then write in the neat little letters to incorporate the story. It took hours of work with several artists working all at once to produce the final images. These would then be replicated, stapled together, and sold to eager children and adults all over the place.
Several collectors have banded together to produce the display, in order to produce an exhibit of truly superheroic proportions, collating pieces from everyone's stash has been the ultimate answer. We can all admire the work involved, the continual evolution, and the brilliant characters that we all grew up to love. If you can, fly over to the Museum of Illustration and witness the fabled pages of lore for yourself. The exhibit runs until the 20th October.
Click the costume to buy one.
Australia hosts the global phenomenon that is world body painting this week, with members of cultures from around the globe meeting in one place to show off their colourful nakedness. From clowns and performers, to warriors and priests, we've been using body paint since time immemorial. As our diversity and technology has increased in magnitude, so has the ways we adorn our bodies with pigment. From looking scary to looking seductive, dressing ourselves in vibrancy and pattern has all manner of creative reactions. Showing off their flesh alongside multidisciplined DJs and event hosts, the festival is a great party for all. Check out this selection of photos from the festival.
Photos via SFGate
The Eric Edwards Collection is a private hoard of African art owned by the illustrious African American. From Today, July 12th, until September 28th, you can visit an exhibit of some of the pieces in person. Opening a private collection is always big news, many people feel that things like this should always be public however when they're personal property of individuals, who are we to say what they do with it? We can be grateful to Eric Edwards for giving us all the opportunity to enrich their minds in this way.
Centred at the Weeksville Heritage Centre, in Crown Heights, Brooklyn, the exhibit will contain around fifty masterpieces from seventeen African nations; a sample of the immense library of heritage Eric has painstakingly collated over the years. Named “From Africa To Weeksville”, latching the deep cultural history of Africa with a local vicinity can help residents to feel connected and part of the story through this showing.
One particular highlight is a granite bust from the 4000 year old Nubian Empire. There are also pieces taken from shrines, drums, and antique slave chains. Telling the story of the African people in America perhaps has never been so tangible, when the symbols of foreign fascism sit alongside items crafted by Empire.
It's in no question that the African influence on America has been a good one, from hours worked to people born, taught, and encouraged, the ideas, symbolisms, and lessons from the mother of humanity remain golden to this day.
The No Bounds Festival of Sheffield went down in history as one of the greatest people parties of 2017 with intellectual discussion meeting brand new cutting edge sounds and art for a handful of days in a sleepy industrial suburb. This October, the whole thing is happening again, only with even more quality than before? How can this be done, you may ask? It's no short order for sure, however with Hope Works behind the wheel and the kind of minds that run the underground and intellectual dance floors of the modern era, it seems that anything is within reach. Of course, when the people of Sheffield and their friendly neighbours get into something, they do it properly and show their worth. Team spirit has always been a key feature in this one time giant of manufacturing. Now as a city of commerce, information, and communication, with a handful of factories still flying the flag, this congregation can pack a punch.
To a selective soundtrack administered by the likes of Aisha Devi (live), Errorsmith (live), rRoxymore (live), Machine Woman (live), Daniel Avery, Volvox, Paula Temple, DJ Storm, Demdike Stare, Sounds of Sisso (live) and coucou chloe (live) plus many more in the pipeline, a festival of conversation, education, and inspiration will ensue. Make a date in the diary for the 12th - 14th of October this year and bring your thinking cap along with you. This is going to be an exciting hyper-local debate session involving politics, club-culture and gender equality. On demonstration are the talents and techniques of the industry, with have-a-go heroes more than welcome to join in the experience.
To garnish the whole weekend, many local artists are showing off their wares in various examples of commissioned and self-governed projects. Screenings of independent film will take place, enriching the souls and spirits of all who care to spend their time among new friends. Poetry readings and two all night raves just make the whole thing unmissable. If you have the opportunity to go to this event, then you really need to find a way.
If you want to read about the kind of artists that will be performing at No Bounds 2018, head on over to The Electro Review!
Get Tickets for No Bounds from Here
Want a taste of Sheffield Poetry? Visit my poetry blog.
If you thought blogging was a new thing, based on the idea of websites and links, then you're missing the point. Okay, it means web log, and in truth a blog can only be one once it's online however the art of making magazines is rooted deep in our history. Ever since the printing press, people have been making copies of writing to distribute around. Business soon caught on and the world of literary marketing was born. Once information and commerce came together in one document, a viable business model was formed. The magazine was born. Now we have a huge choice, and rightly so, the idea is to saturate humanity with quality and creativity. Garbage in, garbage out, so they say- so let's make sure that we consume as much nutritious media as possible.
Big name brands make headway in their field of course, however it doesn't stop there. Only if we're not really paying attention do we funnel through to the regular names that invest so much in every way to be the first one in mind. We of course pay more for these types of media, if we see an advert for it then they have paid for that advert. The bigger the ad, the bigger the budget. Grabbing the attention of the casual browser is big money and always will be. To stand out from those who can afford to be seen, we have to invest in other ways. Finding a unique edge, a voice that sounds different, a point of view that is under-represented, something that will attract people for the right reasons.
I've written at length on the ins and outs of alternative media. After burying myself in books for months, and living a lifestyle completely enveloped by alternative media for many years, I was able to create Subway Scene. It goes into real sociological depth as to how, why, and when art and culture grows. The 'zine, or a magazine made by start-up media companies (like my own), has been around for generations. After finding my way in writing books, I went on and joined Now Then here in Sheffield and worked as a music journalist for a few years. Once I had built a web-following I moved on and concentrated on my own journals. That's where we are now.
With Alternative Fruit, the aim is to bring people's attention to all the wonderful world of culture and art that's ready to be explored. With all this talk of 'zines, it's only right to share with you an archive of decades worth of varied zines from many angles. Open Culture wrote “While examples from recent years show that alternative print publications haven’t disappeared, the richest, most historically resonant examples tend to come from the 60s and 70s” which to me suggests that by the 1980s, too many cooks were spoiling the pot. It can be like this with blogging, as I know full well, when you do something well many others (who you had hoped would help you grow) refuse to do this and then begin to work on their own little empire. You'd think this was okay, but when they're untrained and ignorant we just find a lot of copycat work out there which has no real point to it. I guess it requires a critical eye when deciding whether a journal is worth bookmarking or not. I hope we all have many in our list, and of course Alternative Fruit is read by all the really cool people.
Go and explore the archive.
Whether it was a doll's house or a train set, toy soldiers or a teddy-bear's picnic, the majority of us enjoyed playing with models at some point in our lives. Having miniature representations of real life gave us an imaginary world where we governed the workings and dramas within. Much like the Hand of God, we would place toy people and objects just where we wanted them, we'd tell the story and with the illusion of self-governance, we'd move the figures around. It was fun, and it likely helped us to make sense of the grand scheme we found ourselves in. When we're children the world is complicated and in a way, alien. We need to play at being part of it before we can begin to take part ourselves.
Even as adults, many of us gladly invest in limited edition models of our favourite characters, keep them in the packet and wait for them to be worth a fortune. We play with little people on computer games all the time, and some of us even design them. When I saw the latest model sets made by digital art studio Graza, I was swept back in time to my own train set that I would enjoy. I also played with Airfix models, my specialism was cars. These new designs may be digital however I think we can all agree that nowadays most of our play is done in the digital world. Playing with models can be done in the 3D virtual reality environments. Tactile skills will progress as the technology does and I have a lot of faith in the benefits of well designed computer experiences.
The Human Colour Sets project delves into various scenes that virtual and imaginary happenings could take place. Each one is designed to the highest degree of descriptive detail. Creating the pieces seems to have been an exercise in model making and art design that goes further than most to really capture the feel of what it's depicting.
See the whole project and more on Behance.
Globalisation and modernisation can't be stopped, it's a natural progression of an interconnected society. Unless we go back to using sailing ships and hand written letters, the world is going to adapt and progress at a much faster rate. With all the ideas of humanity within reach of all people, we literally can cherry pick the best the world has to offer for ourselves. It may be that some nations can only afford a basic version which can be improved over time. Remember that the western nations were once basic too, and it took time for all nations to establish working and effective solutions to the issues of society. It seems that for every issue solved, a handful more arise, with the basic needs met the aspect of human psychology comes into play a lot more. Society breeds all kinds of humanitarian issues that can be weeded out with the correct nurture and education.
The problem culture faces in this race to the utopian dream is that traditions and styles from previous generations can often go overlooked. When the influence of huge cultural giants like Hollywood, Bollywood, and the Japanese animation scene come into play, we tend to lose focus of the minor player who have been doing their thing for a lot longer than the cinema. Tribes from across the world had and have fashions and ways of life which served them in ways mostly unknown to the rest of us. Perhaps outdated and made redundant when there's something available from abroad that does it better, yet it's important not to lose our hold of the ground covered.
How can we ensure that cultural heritage is kept alive in modern society? The most used way is in art and design. Traditional motifs and patterns can be called upon to decorate any number of modern items, keeping the roots of culture well watered even if a high tech motorway is built on the top of it. There tends to be a fashion in place for which cultures are most desirable as decoration at any given time, which is to be expected, however it needs to be made into a stable road for all cultures to walk down. Providing a platform for varied cultures to show their unique styles in works of art and in everyday items is a necessity.
Recently, many nations have adopted indigenous fashion as a centrepiece for their national image. By nurturing the styles and designs unique to the area, a relevance and association can be built that pays homage to the generations of folk who made the lands their home long before modernisation. It's imperative that countries look to their true roots, beyond the propaganda sent with the colonists, and knit their true colours into the blanket. We must accept that once in time, all of our lands were fought for, colonised, changed hands, and shared long before we were born. Our heritage is something to be proud of and honoured as far back as it possibly can go, no matter where we are from.
In the recent edition of Vogue, an article reveals that Toronto this week holds their first Indigenous Fashion Week. This will showcase many tribal fashion designs which make something new from the old. Hopefully the colours and designs will influence many other designers who can establish industry wide appreciation for elements of antiquity and culture. Members of the tribe have created their own versions of clothes that incorporate the wisdom and stories handed down for countless generations. What would you design if you could put your heritage into something to wear?
Browse rolls and rolls of inspired fashionable designer fabrics
Once again, the Venice Biennale exhibition makes its self known in a big way. Pavilions from all over the world demonstrate a particular area of culture that's keyed into the social interest of the day. With all eyes on Korea this time around, it's no wonder that their given selection of art is raising some eyebrows.
During the 1960s, Korean homes were designed by a state agency called the Korea Engineering Consultants Corp. They designed many items for Koreans to use in their daily lives. This communist style expression of government took away the plethora of choice we are so often bombarded with, and left citizens with few options in way of style and expression. When we rely on the state to do things for us, we lose our liberty in the given area.
The Korean Pavilion contains four archive projects designed by the agency themselves. These have in turn been used as foundation and inspiration for more modern and expressive interpretations of the design ethic. Influential is an understatement, the state department in question had a massive monopoly on Korean infrastructure though the industrialisation period of the 60s. In fact, at the Expo '70 in Osaka, the KECC showcased a whole range of projects in order to establish the nation state in the global scene.
Echoes of these days are perhaps best studied from a historical and detached point of view. Many Korean people will remember the communist era and the transition into democracy. It's still touchy ground and we all have our egg shells. Touching on this recent time frame is perhaps a brave but worthwhile venture for art.
Included in the showing is a film called Fantastic City by Hyun Suk Seo. This documents the direct experiences of those touched by the KECC in their area of work and life. Also is an installation of photography called Reference Points. Kyeongtae Kim set up the exhibit to showcase the architecture from a human eye's perspective, again, allowing us to examine the soul rather than the form.
A work of fiction is also on show in the Korean Pavilion. Light From Anywhere by Jidon Jung describes the job role of a guide at the Osaka Expo in 1970. This puts readers into the mindset of those trained to highlight Korea's cultural significance. The keystone to this array of experiences is perhaps the work called Spectres of the State – Avant-garde. This collation of essays and correspondences outlines the relationship between designers and the government. The tenuous connections and desires, motives, and methods of both parties have to find common ground. Maybe there are lessons to be learned from this material no matter what we do for a living.
Perhaps with the hum drum aspects of our lives seen to and catered for on a huge scale, it gives us more time to experience life on a deeper level. It's difficult for me to say as I've never experienced a communist lifestyle. Maybe some Alternative Fruit readers can enlighten the rest of us in the comments?
Via E-Flux Architecture
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