When Mona Lisa was stolen from it’s Louvre wall in 1911 people queued to stare at the empty space left behind. Supposedly more people came to visit then before, when she could still follow the onlookers with her gaze. The lady of course was found in 1913 and is now very well protected, so we won’t be seeing that particular empty space any time soon.
Earlier this year the Centre Pompidou had nine whole empty rooms on display in Voids, a retrospective. The rooms referred to famous empty spaces from modern art history. Besides small texts on the walls describing the original empty spaces there were also still little objects like power outlets, thermostats, exit signs. At the moment the empty walls are hung with surrealist photography and we will have to experience the void elsewhere. What’s it like to visit an empty space when you intend to? And what’s it like to be caught off guard, like I was when I visited the Pompidou and was confronted with Yves Klein? Back then I was prepared…. but not quite, caught off guard after all.
Hans den Hartog Jager is a lucky man. He got to talk to Reinier Lucassen, well known for his reclusive lifestyle, for his book ‘verf’ (‘paint’), a wonderful collection of interviews with modern day Dutch painters. Highly recommended.
Lucassen told Den Hartog Jager how much he dislikes realistic painting and the emphasis on making a proper representation of reality in the entire western art tradition from the 15th century until the 20th century. In his eyes only a few great artists like Vermeer, Van Eyck, Rembrandt and Van Goyen, managed to ascend this ‘representing reality’ level, and created something more personal – the work of a genius.
Though Lucassen dislikes representations, he does love images. When Lucassen sees an art work that strikes him, he is drawn to it, immediately knows it’s good, even if he has no words to explain why. The image speaks for itself. In modern art every artist has to find his own way to express himself (which reminds me – is it actually true he thinks women should not be artists?), which of course is very hard to do. Each time an artist truly finds a new way, he is followed, built upon and before you know it a new modern academy-style is born. It comes as no surprise that Lucassen and artists around him were not too eager to ride the wave of abstract-expressionist art in the sixties. The taboo on figurative work must have been just as restrictive to them as the directive to correctly represent reality was to him in his academy years. Lucassen became one of the front men of the Nieuwe Figuratie (New Figuration). In his paintings popular elements like Donald Duck or a hot dog would show up. He would play with traditional painterly illusions by leaving parts of the canvas uncovered, using text or having people pop up unexpectedly on the painting.
I like what Lucassen says about realistic painting. When I started taking art classes I was very eager to learn how to draw, but after a while it became clear to me that making a realistic representation was something I could just learn, and if I had wanted to I could get better and better at it, eventually turning myself into a calendar artist, making pretty pictures. It stopped me in my tracks. Although I would still love to improve my drawing and painting skills I am so glad I came to Dogtime to work, play and learn.
My online activities have changed my life in ways I could never have imagined. I’m sure they will play a major part in my Dogtime experience as well. How can I use social media in my upcoming projects? Can I manipulate social interaction or perception? I’ve already embarked on an exciting trip, but where it’s going…?
Jonas Ohlsson’s first drawing classes are just meant to loosen up… no pressure, just getting into the flow. I like it, especially since he’s also an imaginative DJ, playing all kinds of weird and inspiring music during the class. So this is me…. loosening up in the first two lessons.
Every time I get off the train in Den Helder before a visit to my beloved Texel I notice the light. It’s different, brighter, colours look more saturated, fresher. In tuesday’s LAB class we watched ‘Dutch Light’, a documentary about the famous light in Dutch art – is it real or is it a myth? Of course watching this film my geographer’s brain started working and theorizing about what could be the case but I’ll have to tap into another vein… the one that makes me vibrate and want to go out when the light is so clear that colours seem almost unnaturally saturated, when buildings, landscape, clouds and the sky seem to be alive.
Monday’s class is about sculpture and teacher Alena Hudcovicová asked us to make an object that would reflect something of our character. Sharing my life online has become increasingly important to me and a source of love, friendship and creativity, both online and IRL. The Dutch children’s song ‘Elsje Fiederelsje’ inspired me to choose my online name @fiederels and I’m amazed by the way this name and my online identity have become part of me. Alena told us not to rush off, buy a chunk of marble and start carving and hammering, but instead choose a medium more forgiving and a tad cheaper. So I whipped up some egg whites and wrote my online name to bake and share with class 1A of Dogtime. Great knowing you all IRL and looking forward to connecting to you online!
I felt only night within me and it was then that I conceived the new art, which I called Suprematism (Kazimir Malevich)
Kazimir Malevich strongly believed in the supremacy of pure feelings in art. Had he been a writer, his book would probably have been gathering dust for decades by now. But he was a painter and he expressed his ideas in oils on canvas, causing a revolution in art by painting the first monochrome, aptly called Black Square, in 1915. From that moment on it was no longer necessary to paint a recognizable image.
Monochromes being the subject of last week’s LAB class at Dogtime I delved into the subject and discovered an amazing amount of artists had followed in Malevich’ footsteps. I knew many of them, but I was not aware they had also lingered in the void for a while, like for instance Robert Rauschenberg, who said “A canvas is never empty”. Likewise, we Dogtime students have to pass this stage, because we will be making our own monochromes. Let’s see how we emerge from the experience. As Matthew Collings put it, in modern art ‘nothing’ matters.
Rauschenberg - White Painting
I’m glad Rauschenberg resurfaced from the void and gave the world his Combines.
Rauschenberg famously erased a De Kooning, bringing drawing into the all-whites.
Yesterday’s class on communication at Dogtime started with a bombardment of concepts, images, lines of thought and often hard to follow connections between art, people, politics, history, ways of seeing and ways of presenting images. In a way this verbal bombardment was mirroring the visual bombardment we are all exposed to every single day. Back home, while waiting for the dust to settle I browsed through my notes. There was so much information I can easily understand why I went home with my head spinning. Let’s give it some time and start exploring.
I love the work of Gabriel Orozco so I was happy to see some of his work presented in this class. Orozco has a philosophical but also humoristic way of looking at the world and manipulating objects and space. Art that makes me think as well as smile… things could be worse.
I expect to learn a lot in the months to come by exploring concepts like punctum and studium, meaning, focus, synchronicity, blending, truth and fact. Maybe I’ll even be able to create a masterpiece that conveys as much symbolism and truth as this Bonnie Tyler clip. Warning: it might eclipse your brain.