Shift Coffee has established itself as the essential “slow pour” coffee shop of Denton, Texas, at which you can experience the uncommon art of coffee in a comfortable atmosphere. This Sunday, December 15, 2013, Shift will up its game with a salon style art show featuring artists local to Denton, myself included, for one night only, from 7-10pm. Adding to the evening of art will be a drawing through which you could win paintings by the inimitable Kelsey Anne Heimerman and your very own Hunter Wild at 9pm. Lose yourself in the art, find yourself in the coffee.
The impact of Chinese painting is quite different from that of Western painting. To my mind, traditional Chinese painting is like something viewed in the moonlight: quiet, meditative, two-dimensional. The Western tradition is like something viewed in the sunlight: bold, bright, three-dimensional. The measure, the essence, of Chinese painting is to be found in landscape; the essence of Western painting is to be found in the human figure, how things relate to people. For more than one thousand years much of Chinese painting has emphasized self-expression through the technique of brush and ink; prior to the last one hundred years, Western painting focused on the painting’s subject, not the technique.
~Li Huayi, from “The Monumental Landscapes of Li Huayi”
“Contrary to what’s happening with undergraduate and graduate students today — where collectors are buying their work and they’re in shows while they’re still in school — I actually had a number of opportunities to show my work, and I chose not to until 1968. That was a very conscious decision that had to do with the work. I had a very strong belief — I still do — that the act of going public is a very important decision. Everything you do from the point in which you go public is part of the public record and is out there and you cannot get it back. Anything before the time you go public is nobody’s business and you don’t have to talk about it, you don’t have to show it, you’re not responsible, you can destroy it all or whatever. But there is something about that decision, ‘OK, I think I can put my neck on the line for this work and I feel strongly enough about it that I will live with however I feel about it later. This is now part of the public realm.’”
~Chuck Close, from In the Painter’s Studio, by Joe Fig (p36)
“All Black” installation view, from theartblog.org
It’s often hard to imagine monochromatic work in general, much less an entire monochromatic show with a variety of artists, feeling like much more than a dull point in a sea of invisible jewels. However, theartblog.com’s article brings a vivid and genuine vitality to this show in all black.
“The abbreviators of works do injury to knowledge and to love, for love of anything is the offspring of knowledge, love being more fervent as knowledge is more certain, and certainty springs from a thorough knowledge of all those parts which united compose the whole…truly it is impatience, mother of folly, which praises brevity.”
“In prose, the worst thing one can do with words is to surrender to them. When you think of a concrete object, you think wordlessly, and then, if you want to describe the thing you have been visualizing, you probably hunt about till you find the exact words that seem to fit it. When you think of something abstract you are more inclined to use words from the start, and unless you make a conscious effort to prevent it, the existing dialect will come rushing in and do the job for you, at the expense of blurring or even changing your meaning. Probably it is better to put off using words as long as possible and get one’s meaning clear as one can through pictures or sensations.”
~George Orwell “Politics and the English Language,” 1968
“Any advertisement in public space that gives you no choice whether you see it or not is yours. It belongs to you. It’s yours to take, re-arrange and re-use. Asking for permission is like asking to keep a rock someone just threw at your head.”
“Aiming for more” André Hägertz acrylic on canvas 89cm x 100cm 2010
André Hägertz, a fellow artist and friend of mine based in Stockholm, Sweden, is doing something that demands attention. His rich, deceptively fluid paintings are full of the kind of momentous insights that can only be derived from the “beginner’s mind,” that particular attitude that is devoid of arbitrary restriction. At the same time as his style and content give us this impression, he utilizes a clearly refined technical skill that, instead of conflicting, executes his intentions and vibrantly brings his concepts to fruition on the canvas. A lot of the pieces displayed on his website have a characteristics from a variety of the styles that I find most inspiring. But he synthesizes them into something dramatic and fresh that doesn’t look quite like anything I’ve ever seen before.
Picasso said that he strove his whole life to be able to paint like a child. Hägertz seems to bring that wild freedom that children have with their creativity, yet he merges it with the abstract surrealism that is the perfect partner and atmosphere for that type of creative action. His work lets the mind swim in that frictionless space, which most of us have moved away from; in some this art reinvigorates that residual creative freedom that persists deep inside us. Hägertz’s paintings are less nostalgic, less reminiscent of childhood itself, but are instead more generative of that same kind of aesthetic climate. It’s both common and relatively easy to make nostalgic art but quite difficult to do what Hägertz is doing. Yet, he pulls it off so smoothly. This is an artist to watch and witness. Believe me when I tell you, he’s doing us all a great favor with his art.