012 tate britain, a recollection

June 18, 2010 - Leave a Response

When I was in Britain with the Sec 3 & 4 AEP students, we visited Tate Britain, a museum featuring numerous artworks by well-known artists, both traditional & contemporary.

I hadn’t been, especially enthusiastic, at the prospect of visiting this museum – in general, I bear a negative pre-conception regarding art museums. From past experiences, art museums have been both dull and tiresome to me, having to walk amongst overwhelming masses of art, and not necessarily comprehending any of it. (I realised, this is an extremely inaccurate perception, since, 90% of the museums we visited in London/Paris turned out to be both enriching and inspiring; perhaps Singapore just needs to put in a bit more effort, in the art department.) In addition, we had signed up for The Guided Tour, a programme I cannot help but look upon with disdain – even up to now.
Yes, having somebody to explain certain artworks and draw linkages within artistic circles that you never noticed, is a good thing. However there is a limit to what they can promise and deliver – unless you’re planning to spend >24 hours in the museum, learning about every single piece of artwork and its history. Not a good idea.

That aside, this visit to Tate Britain, turned out to be unexpectedly fulfilling.
The guide was refreshing, in his manner – rather different from many other tour guides I’ve listened to. This made the tour a lot more interesting, than I’d expected it to be; he explained the artworks in a casual, layman manner, while maintaining the sense of professionalism.

One piece of work, I remember in particular, is Three Studies for Figures at the Base of A Crucifixion, by Francis Bacon – a relatively contemporary artist.

Three Studies for Figures at the Base of A Crucifixion, Francis Bacon

At first glance, this piece of artwork seems, slipshod, unappealing, and disturbing.
The garish orange background is harsh to the eyes, as are the three figures that resemble neither human nor beast.
To me, one of the most disturbing (as well as striking) features of this artwork, lies in the way nothing is very identifiable. The creatures resemble – from left to right, respectively – a vulture with its head bent in, a cooked chicken torso (and head, I guess), and a horse. They appear to have slightly, human, features, in the way they have agonized expressions, increasingly from the left to the right again. Even with these distinctions, facing this piece of work in the flesh (or, the canvas, really), I feel the need to question: what is this? What’s the painting trying to say, what relation does the title have, what role does the technical skill of the painting play? It’s neither precise, nor entirely abstract; the props in each segment seem haunting yet irrelevant.

The guide explained, how the painting is one of emotion, rather than observation – how the figures represent increasing pain, agony and trial. A crucifixion signifies suffering, like the emotions these three creatures display. What amazed me is, the way I managed to make personal commentary with SOVA-esque vocabulary; organic forms and contrasting colors! The guide linked this artwork to two others (one of which was also on display in Tate Britain): Picasso’s Guernica and George Stubb’s Horse Devoured by a Lion.

Horse Devoured by a Lion, George Stubbs

Guernica, Picasso

The horses bear, resemblance to the center figure of Bacon’s work; the linkage intrigued me, and immediately raised my personal interest in both traditional and contemporary art (I quite appreciate Francis Bacon now). Yes, the artwork still seems disturbing, but after understanding and dissecting it slowly, it actually becomes heartwarming.

The visit to Tate Britain completely changed my outlook toward museums, and, since we had the rest of the trip to visit various places, it gave a good start to the trip.

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010 antonygormley vs hansaipor

June 2, 2010 - Leave a Response

a)       Compare the different treatment of form and use of materials in these works.

In A Field for the AGNSW, a large number of clay figurines with minimal, abstract features face on direction and fill up the entire space of the room/area. They are arranged such that the final composition appears densely populated, yet in an unnaturally uniform manner, as all the figurines face the same way; towards the viewer. In doing this, Antony Gormley creates a haunting atmosphere, in which the artwork demands attention from the viewer. By using rough terracotta to create thes doll-like figurines, Antony Gormley was attempting to capture the tribal, nature essense of idols – such that these figurines appear to have some kind of primitive aura. However, as each of them is unique, they appear as an overwhelming crowd of peasants or followers, demanding attention from the audience. The juxtaposition of the image presented by the figurines – alternating between god-like spiritual entities and countless minions at the viewer’s feet – further encourages the mysterious, surrealistic feel of the artwork.
Han Sai Por’s artwork, on the other hand, has a less conflicted effect, though equally ambiguous. The subtle, rounded figures do not have striking or disturbing features that cause immediate response from the viewer, but instead project a feel of clamness. The marble surface of the forms appear polished, and the forms themselves rounded and organic, reflecting a sort of inner peace and serenity. As compared to Antony Gormlet’s work, Growth exudes simplicity. The figures are modelled such that they appear to be reaching out – but not in any one direction. This, therefore, lacks the fierce uniformity of the figurines in A Field for the AGNSW, and offers the sentiment of freedom in expression, and curiosity, rather than the staunch otder. There are also lesser figurines than what is found in A Field for the AGNSW, removing any feelings of intimidation or menacing presence. They do not command undivided attention; rather they appear unaware of the viewer and lack direct, initiated interaction.

b)      Why have these artists used simplified and abstract forms to express their ideas?

Antony Gormley, by creating his Field series, was attempting to recreate and draw inspiration from native spirituality and tradition. By using simplified, abstract forms, the many figurines serve to evoke a feeling of tribalism, instead of depicting a specific figure or concept. The ambiguity encourages the viewer to judge and interpret for his or herself, the meaning of the artwork – are the figurines meant to oppose or abide to the audience? The lack of an identity for the figurines enhances the feeling of “communism” and mob psychology, such that the viewer feels surrounded by the various figurines.
The abstract figures in Han Sai Por’s Growth are meant to depict an abstract concept, this the lack of identifiable featues makes in easier to grasp this concept. The artist’s intentions were to illustrate the notion of striving and developing in life, and this is brought out by the way the figurines appear to “reach out” with a single point of their “bodies”. The simplification of the figures prevents distraction and possible confusion, by creating the sculpture to the bare minimum that is necessary for identification.

c)       Assess how and why you think one sculpture is more effective.

In my opinion, Han Sai Por’s artwork does not create the striking, impressionable effect that Antony Gormley’s does. A Field for the AGNSW seems to fully use space to its advantage, such that the first impression is an incredibly strong one – the artwork is intimidating, abstract and far from straightforward.  By arranging the figurines as such, and deliberately using a large number of individually crafted figures, Antony Gormley effectively creates the fierce contrast between the dominant and the submissive – the artwork, despite comprising of many tiny, similar beings without distinctive identities, exudes a domineering, intimidating presence that forces the viewer to communicate with the artwork as an equal. This is not as evident in Han Sai Por’s artwork, Growth, in which the abstract figures bear no relation to the audience. As a viewer, one merely looks at the figures without experiencing any form of interaction, or understanding, on a higher level. It merely serves its basic purpose as “a piece of work”, with aesthetic appeal, if nothing else. A Field for AGNSW, however, extends further to cause feelings and reactions in the viewer, who then subconsciously makes judgement on the art itself. Thus, I believe it is more effective.

These were my responses for, a SOVA assignment, based on
Antony Gormley’s A Field for AGNSW, and
Han Sai Por’s Growth, for which I scored 18/20.

Field, Antony Gormley

Growth, Han Sai Por

Overall, I am rather satisfied with my answers for this assignment;
I hadn’t referred to my notes for this assignment
(partially because, I could not locate them)
but I was able to recall, what I have learnt about them from previous SOVA lessons.

I appreciate Antony Gormley’s Field very much, and,
its status as a piece of art, has a very lasting impact on me.
Aesthetically, it appeals to the senses,
but upon deeper exploration, the significance behind every detail of this artwork – from the material, to the method of execution, to the juxtaposition of elements to create conflict,
it impresses me, how a piece of artwork can have
so much detailed exploration, that ties together,
in one, theologically intact, yet understandable composition.

In doing this assignment, I managed to personally
come to understand all this, and
derive my own judgement, without being (too) biased.

I am, satisfied
with the way I read both pieces of work,
especially Gormley’s, and it felt like I was able to truly grasp a single response to the artwork,
that I could confidently support and share with others.

011 a giftart

May 28, 2010 - Leave a Response

title birthday giftart 090410
media Signo DX 0.38 Black gel pen on drawing paper
size 708 x 1832
dated April 2010

Due to my concept drawings for coursework, I’d developed an interest toward text in art – something extremely versatile, yet, hard to achieve.

Incorporating text in art, can be straightforward, or subtle.

In this case, I was hoping to achieve the latter, in which, text would serve as a part of the entire imagery,
varying the thickness of the strokes, and, the sparsity between letters, to mimic areas of different tonal value.
This, would then,
create depth in the artwork, which would typically be achieved by straightforward shading.

I had done similar, pieces, as preparation for my coursework,
therefore this artwork is one of the better pieces that I chose to put up.

One thing I dislike, is that
I didn’t finish it as well as I should have; the pen was blotty and I didn’t bothered using a better one. Also,
my lines weren’t as clean as they should have been, in order to create a more polished, effective result.
Since text, is a crucial part, of this artwork, it was necessary for the text to be clear and precise, which I failed to pay attention to.

Like I said,
I’m a lazy person, though that is no excuse.

009 sophisticated coco

May 22, 2010 - Leave a Response

title sophistication ft. Coco Rocha
media photomanipulation, using PS7
size 500 x 335
dated 17th May 2010

This was done as experimentation,
for my initial coursework idea.

I had planned on doing typography, and
presenting it by
‘wrapping’ it onto peoples’ faces.

The top image, was done using the ‘Liquify’ tool
The bottom image, was done using the ‘Warp’ tool under ‘Free Transform’.

I learnt that,
sometimes your first guess/others’ advice
is not the best way, to do art.

Advice is good, and should be taken into consideration,
especially if it’s a new area.
However, despite all the websites recommending
filtering and image-mapping,
the effect was constantly unsatisfactory.

I then decided to, go my own primitive way
and just warp the text according to a flexible grid, of Coco (the model)’s face.

Of course it was mostly instinctive, the angle which
her nose bent, and
her face curved.
But, it turned out nicer than the tried-and-tested-follow-instructions method.

Although, I didn’t end up using this for coursework, I liked the way this experimentation turned out.
Coco Rocha, was a good choice as a model, since
she has a very angular face, and it’s challenging to work with.
Also, the lighting of the photo
made it easy to work with (clean, defined, forms)
and choosing to use this font brought out the sharpness, of her face.

008 don’t cry over spilt wine

May 20, 2010 - Leave a Response

 

title the whinery
media photography; taken with a Canon PowerShot G10
size 3312 x 4416
dated 11th May 2010

My dad had opened a bottle of wine,
when I tried to pour some into a glass, I slipped and
result: spilt wine.

Being interested in photography,
I’ve gotten accustomed to spotting, artistic-capture-opportunities.
Usually, I’d have a fantastic idea,
which would require a lot of preparation/artistic direction
(eg. setting my backgarden on fire, or dropped paint balloons from my roof onto the glass platform below)
thus discouraging me from, taking the effort to set it up.

However,
in the case of such accidents,
not to capture it, would be a waste – plus I had just loaned the PowerShot G10 from school.

At the time of capture, it had been around eight pm.
The accident had occurred in the outer dining area, where lighting is weak, if at all practical
(we only ever use that area for eating).
I was forced to, therefore, use the flash on the camera.

I personally dislike using the flash
for the mere purpose of lighting up a dark environment,
unless, there is sufficient lighting from another source,
or the effect is intentional.
Otherwise, I dislike
the way the pictures come out in garish contrast, and how some parts get lost in the fierce lighting.

For example,
in the first picture, the label of the wine bottle is almost completely obscured, and there seems to be a lack of focus –
I’m not sure, whether to look at the bottle/wine droplets/table’s silhouette.

Also, because of the strong lighting,
shadows are very clear, and
the pictures get random black patches all over, which can be distracting.
The pictures have a very strong visual impression,
but, unfortunately,
it’s only because of the contrast, and the
intensity of the forms and color (the red wine droplets).

Otherwise, the photographs tend to make the eye wander,
in search of a focal point.

I like, however, the way the pictures have a natural, primal effect,
as all the random details (stray hair, yes, there is) (specks of dust)
are left in, like shots from
a crime scene investigation.

My personal favorite is, the fourth one.
Because the elements are evenly balanced, in strength,

and it’s more calming to look at.

007 enlightenment

May 13, 2010 - Leave a Response

title dad & a light
media photography; taken with a Canon EOS 550D
size 2048 x 3072
dated 12th May 2010

It took me a while to see the good in this picture,

specifically, Mr C told me,
why he liked it. Then, I realised,
it is rather special in its own right.

Firstly, the composition,
though unintended, turned out to be surprisingly ideal.
(my dad’s head aligns with the light overhead)
The lines on the blinds also draw toward a common point,
giving the photograph some kind of depth, and definition.
By taking portrait-orientated shot, I managed to capture the height of the light, from my dad’s head,

this gives the photograph the
emptiness,
that leaves people guessing,
as to what the picture means.

Personally, I find that this picture,
reflects something about
the way I feel about my dad.
He seems to be thinking about something, focusing on something,
which the viewer cannot see (maybe the newspaper)

the way I leave a huge space above his head
implies a sense of, meditative focus.
I always feel that, my dad has a lot on his mind,
and even when he’s relaxing, he has an aura of concentration;

I’m glad I managed to capture a hint of that, depth, in this photograph.

006 block test 1, 2010

April 22, 2010 - Leave a Response
  1. The Wall At Storm King by Andy Goldsworthy  

    The Wall at Storm King, Andy Goldsworthy

    1. “Searching out lines that already exist interest me more than imposing new ones…the intention is not just to make a line, but to draw the change, movement, growth and decay that flow through a place…” – Andy Goldsworthy

      Use the quote given above to describe and analyze Andy Goldsworthy’s work at Storm King. Discuss in relation to another named work by Andy Goldsworhy that operates in a similar way.
      The Wall at Storm King consists of a wall constructed out of stones and rocks found in the natural environment and surroundings. The wall while constructed by man, is made entirely out of natural materials. The wall is also constructed such that it weaves and bends through the spaces between the trees in the area, forming a continually curved line rather than a straight one that cuts through the forest.
      According to Andy Goldsworthy, he is interested in “searching out lines that already exist”. By saying this, he is inspired to create art and draw out forms that are already present in nature. This is evident in The Wall at Storm King, in which he creates a visible path of stones through the trees. Though this wall was not existent previously, it doesn not introduce completely foreign elements to the natural environment either. The artist merely outlines, reinforces and brings attention to the weaving path through the trees by placing the wall of stones and rocks there – he is not “imposing new [lines]” by placing artwork in nature, but instead adding to the “lines that already exist”.
      In addition, no foreign or alien materials are being utilized in this work; the stones and rocks used to create the wall were picked up from the surrounding area. Andy Goldsworthy believes that the energy and space around a specific material is also paramount to the material itself, and that the surrounding tells of how something came to be in its place. Thus, in using the natural materials found to construct this wall, he indicates the “change, movement, growth and decay” of the environment at Storm King.
      Another work, Icicle, by the same artist, has the same fundamental concept of execution. Icicle consists of an actual icicle, created such that it forms a star of multiple points rather than a typical cone-shaped icicle. While the finished product is nothing like a typical icicle, it has the basic concept of a thin conical item made out of ice; it is a pre-existing concept in nature, enhanced and stylized by the artist, without tampering the natural form of the subject matter. In addition, his work in Icicle will eventually melt away, like any other icicle,  giving a sense of change and transcience that is prevailing in the cycle of life and nature. This is brought to our attention, as the artwork is unique and different from other icicles – nevertheless it is merely an enhancement of “lines that already exist” in nature, and is temporal and ephemeral in the same sense.   

  2. Labyrinth by Dede Eri Supria; Temple of The Mind by Montien Boonma  

    Temple of The Mind, Montien Boonma

    1. Describe the painting style of Labyrinth by Dede Eri Supria.
      Labyrinth is done in a photo-realistic painting style, such that it is realistic to the capability of a camera optic lens rather than just the human eye. There is immense detail and attention in the painting, in terms of form and color. The painting is done such that there is a slight top-down view of the sprawling maze of cardboard and metal poles, creating a sense of theatrical décor to emphasize the dramatic effect and implied size of the maze in the painting. The colors used are bright and intense, clearly detailed spaces of color, which lend to the photorealistic effect intended by the artist. The colors appear to be primarily red, blue and yellow, which all clash and blend simultaneously, further enhancing the dramatic and intense nature of the artwork. Due to the colors, words such as brand names and company logos are strongly highlighted and visible amidst the complex maze of cardboard and construction. Similarly, the human figures are brought out as they are not as vivid as the rest of the painting – the human figures are rendered in more realistic, monotonous colors and forms.
      Dede rendered Labyrinth in such a manner, in order to emphasize the insignificance and smallness of the human presences amidst the maze of urbanization and industrial development. The human figures appear small and lost in comparison to the complicated vast structures of metal and cardboard, which serve to represent urban life, modernization and civilization. The posture of the human figures similarly suggest submissiveness, or more indifference to their surroundings.   

    2. What kind of symbol and material does Montien Boonma use from and why?
      In Temple of the Mind, Montien Boonman makes use of herbal medicine, wood and brass to create an interactive sculpture. The shape and physical representation of the artowrk resemble that of a pagoda – a religious relic commonly found in Buddhism. As a staunch believer in Buddhist principles, Boonma was largely inspired by such symbols of the mentioned religion, and thus incorporated them into his many pieces of artwork. Specifically to Temple of The Mind, the pagoda-like form of the sculpture signifies a sense of lightness, clarity and gradual ascension. This lies in accordance to the artist’s belief that the sculpture should be a place of meditation and relaxed spiritual healing. The bells inside the structure itself are also elements commonly found in Buddhism, and Boonma personally believed that the implied sound of bells brought a sense of recovery and healing to the spirit and mind. Thus, the incorporation of bells in sculpture, designed to evoke calmness and meditation in its audience.
      Boonma used herbal medicines in his paints, which lent a certain scent to his constructions. For example, jasmine, turmeri and sandalwood were some of the herbs used. Due to his past experiences with medicines and their healing properties, Boonma wanted to include this sense of healing in his work, in which people could be uplifted by the appealing effect on one’s sense, body
      and mind. Therefore, he incorporated herbal medicines in Temple of the Mind, in order to draw people to the calming environment of the sculpture and introduce the healing effects of the herbs.  
    3. Discuss the spaces constructed in Labyrinth  and Temple of The Mind; analyze the key differences between the two artists’ personal reflections of the world within their works.
      Dede Eri Supria’s Labyrinth suggests a sense of loss, confusion and general negativity towards the world. In painting a tiny figure in a huge expanse of material and urban elements, Dede appears to deliberately make humanity seem “lost” in the ever-changing sprawl of technology, commerce and industrialization. The structures bearing names of companies and brands appear huge and threatening in comparison to the subdued human figures. This is further emphasized by the sheer amount of cardboard and steel in the picture; the human gigures are dwarfed and overwhelmed by the maze of development. The human figures themselves are also faceless and devoid of any energy or enthusiasm or life whatsoever, making them appear indifferent and even submissive to the comparatively fierce maze surrounding them.
      By painting this, Dede appears to suggest that mankind is oblivious and indifferent to the rapidly revolutionizing world around them – specifically, the age of technology and advancement. While the artist maintains the view that he is merely trying to caution the society about the effects of urbanization, Labyrinth evokes a strong sense of disturbance, confusion and overal helplessness to the effects of urbanization. The maze appears cramped and constricted within the space. The viewer is provoked to think negatively of technology and consumerism, in a fabricated reality where mankind is literally swamped by the urbanization. The intense concentration of material and structures makes for a constricted and intimidating effect on the viewer.
      In contrast, Boonma’s Temple of the Mind seems to suggest a sense of peace, spirituality and hope. While Dede’s Labyrinth is concentrated and intense, Boonma’s work seems to invite the viewer to experience a sense of calmness and spiritual healing. The work is constructed such that the viewer can enter the physical space of the pagoda, and be in sync with the scent of herbs and implied sound of bells on the inside. Boonma gives a sense of peace with the surroundings, and isolation of the mind, such that the viewer is offered the prospect of emptiness and infinite possibilities to the mind, in the pagoda-like space. Unlike the fierce appearance of Dede’s painting, this sculpture is welcoming and calm, and projects a sense of harmony and accordance. The viewer can easily feel uplifted by this pieces of work, and not pressured like that of the Labyrinth.

This is, a copy of my block test one answers,
for which I scored 41/50,

I realised,
art has an extremely extensive vocabulary, even if it doesn’t seem so.

I rambled too much, during this block test,

typing it out made me feel like a broken record ;A;

005 iPod nano design

March 16, 2010 - Leave a Response

title my iPod nano design; untitled
media original pen drawing, edited with Photoshop CS3
size 3508 x 4961
dated end-year 2008

I had taken
some Digital-Art-Graphic-Design thing,
as my sabbatical elective, in Secondary Two.
Our assignment: To design our own iPod nano cover, with the assistance of Photoshop CS3.

Before attending the workshop,
I had adequate – if only, basic – understanding of Photoshop and its functions. Interest kept me, consistent, in my practice of using Photoshop
(I can use it pretty smoothly now).
The workshop taught me more technical skills I could employ
such as
adjusting image attributes,
the Pattern Stamp Tool,
how to tamper with the shadows and lighting,
and how to clean up drawings digitally.

title iPod nano final design; untitled
media original pen drawing, edited with Photoshop CS3
size 1299 x 1722
dated see above.

This was the final design for the iPod nano cover,
after editing with Photoshop.

Admittedly,
I’m not proud of the (lack of) skill I display
in this piece of work.

Due to my inexperience with digital art, this piece of work clearly shows immaturity;
the way I rendered the effects, is raw and unrefined.
I was, lazy, in clearing up the unwanted areas from my original drawing
(the translucent-y patches between some lines),
I didn’t meld the background text, with the image, well,
the emboss-effect of the heart in the center, is
quite frankly, atrocious.

In the end, the burnt-coffee-stains background
is the only detail, I find worthy of praise.
Ultimately, however,
since the final design only required
a very small area
of the whole drawing, it turned out, attractive on a small-scale.

I had achieved the effect I had in mind,
I only wish
I had been, more professional,

(The background text, came from, some political article
on Wikipedia. About atomic bombs.)

004 funfair posters

March 12, 2010 - Leave a Response

title funfair, posters
media digital art, PS7 & image scans
size 2480 x 3508
dated unknown

A series of posters, I was commissioned to do for my class’ stall during the Youth Day funfair, in 2009.

We had been selling handmade bookmarks.
Therefore,
the intention was to simulate the pages of
a) a mystery novel
b) a Japanese shojo manga
c) a fashion magazine
and imply the need for a bookmark, ‘in between’ its pages.

It’s conceptually (and technically) simple, in my opinion,
but I’ve always applied the mantra of
“Less Is Best”
when it comes to advertising.

Generally, the rule is,
to keep things as clean, and concise, as possible.

The emptiness of the poster, also attracts people to take a look at
exactly what it is trying to advertise.
In this case, I wanted to recreate something
familiar,
which would draw attention, but also keep it simple
and relevant to the product.

I personally dislike, this piece of art, because I believe there was
more potential in the idea of
marketing a bookmark.

The time constraint,
and also, I had to take into consideration, the way Nanyang Girls like
HUGE-EXTRAVAGANT-BRIGHT-EYE-CATCHING
things, more than modest subtlety
made it difficult for me to truly appreciate this, assignment.

003 all tied up/down

March 9, 2010 - 2 Responses

title all tied up
media Signo DX 0.38 Black gel pen on drawing paper
size 1461 x 2192
dated 8th March 2010

Sometimes, when I get
annoyed
at pencil marks/feverish erasing/sketchy lines,
the best way to get back into illustrating, is to jump straight to ink.

This illustration was a subconscious commentary
about the way we’re tied down,
to things around us, people, commitments, and emotions.

The ribbons are huge, elaborate, and
overwhelm the character herself, I had intended to
convey a sense of introvertedness and retreating into oneself, while being completely smothered by the things of the world.

Although attractive-looking,
the fierce shading lines on the ribbons make them appear rough, and
the crispness of their structure makes them look unyielding, sturdy.
They resemble pieces of cardboard, rather than
flowy fabric.

Even her shoes have binding ribbons.

The expression of exasperation,

I had meant to capture how
many of us, even those of us who aren’t students,
suffer
in imprisonment, even though it never looks like it.
The world is always so, inviting, and comfortable
until we catch ourselves lost in everything we’ve committed ourselves to.

The folds,
could have been cleaner, more elaborate,
but I got lazy.