Sweet ‘Art on the road part 3: Sweet ‘Art in South East Asia – by Corrina Eastwood

So we continue our travels on a high, through New Zealand, feeling the temperature rise and swapping walking boots for sun block and mosi repellant, we finally reach Bali for some well deserved R&R. This is hard work, honestly! We spend a little time on the beach but then, needing our art fix we head with anticipation to Ubud where we hope to be spoilt for choice in finding galleries to peruse in the famous art village.

Ubud and Bali in general is a beautiful, creative and inspiring place. Even the menus handed to you in restaurants are individually and exquisitely decorated and as a visitor you constantly absorb the vibrancy, colours and texture of the endless shops, stalls and ‘galleries’ selling amazingly executed arts and crafts. I mention galleries in this way, as the use of the word in Bali is very versatile, to say the least. You can enter a ‘gallery’ to find it sells only trousers, fans and key rings and this became a little tiring on our quest to find some amazing contemporary art.

We did enjoy viewing some of the more commercial crafts on offer particularly the beautiful abstracted designs of many of the Batiks made at Sari Amerta.

Batiks made at Sari Amerta

Batiks made at Sari Amerta

Batiks made at Sari Amerta

Batiks made at Sari Amerta

…..and this pic, well, just because!

…..and this pic, well, just because!

We also enjoyed visiting the Museum Puri Lukisan (www.museumpurilukisan.com) for an interesting over view of the heritage and history of Balinese art. I took great interest in the Ogoh- Ogoh, amazingly impactful effigies built by the young males of a village from simple materials such a papier-mâché and bamboo, to be burned on the Balinese New Year, in an effort to appease evil spirits.

Museum Puri Lukisan

Museum Puri Lukisan

Museum Puri Lukisan

Museum Puri Lukisan

Balinese Women by Louis S.W van der Noordaa at Museum Puri Lukisan

Balinese Women by Louis S.W van der Noordaa at Museum Puri Lukisan

Locust

Battle of Locusts and Red Ants 1956 by I Ketut Suparna at Museum Puri Lukisan

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I came across a great blog, Healing Pilgrim when seeking further information about the wonderfully grotesque Ogoh –Ogoh, take a look to see some awesome photos. www.healingpilgrim.com/2012/03/22/balis-monster-mash

Balinese offerings to appease evil spirits

Balinese offerings to appease evil spirits

We loved the offerings, beautiful objects that just fascinated us from a creative perspective. I found this great blog ‘a little adrift’ that says a little more about the offerings and has some great photos! Take a look if you have a greater interest. http://alittleadrift.com/2010/10/ritual-balinese-beliefs-offerings

On our travels around Ubud and the surrounding towns we visited an endless array of weaving, stone carving, bronze casting, basket weaving, jewelry making and furniture making workshops. All of the highest quality and reasonably priced and we strongly recommend it’s the place to head to if this is your thing. We were on the look out for something different however and after several visits to studios where artists worked at easels in lines, clearly churning out imagery to most appeal to the art buying tourist, we finally stumbled across the slightly ramshackle Wina Gallery. I was instantly intrigued by this space as it conveyed a sense that it may contain something genuine and subversive. Unlike many of the galleries we had already visited this space was unpolished and to be fair, falling apart a little yet for me felt it had it priorities just right.

Wina Gallery

Wina Gallery

It held a solo show of works by the artist Antonius Kho (www.saatchiart.com/Antoniuskho) and we found ourselves double taking at some of the pieces finding them a challenge to digest in some ways within the context of Balinese art. It may be an internal rebellion I began to feel on my travels, toward western sensibilities and the glorification of the white cube in the western curating style, but I loved the way the space seemed to live and breath, responding to its surroundings and in turn the work responding to it.

There is something incredibly visceral in the reception of Antonius’s work. An intertwining of conflicting aesthetics and bazar narratives feel to dominate the experience of looking and it left me feeling a little giddy. Maybe it was the heat! The multi layering of ‘Let’s Go To Play’ achieved by utilizing painted upon acrylic sheets intensifies a sense of imperceptible depth and for me increased an interesting unease in viewing.

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Lets Go To Play By Antonius Kho

Wina Gallery

Wina Gallery

Antonius emerged from the back of the gallery to greet us as we viewed his work and invited us to join him in his studio, to see what he was currently working on. We were thrilled to be invited into what felt like such a special and intimate space, half under cover from the hot Bali sun and half lit with dappled sunlight. Again it may be a response informed by our very different cultural perspectives but I felt so inspired by the space and this artist. A real sense was conveyed of balance and perspective being achieved and understood by this artist in the way he chooses to practice.

Antonius Kho’s studio

Antonius Kho’s studio

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Antonius Kho’s studio

We were sad to leave Bali, so sad in fact that after a trip to Borneo we decided to head back! Eventually though we move on to Cambodia, first stop, the hustle and bustle of the Phnom Penh! So exciting! We had a few meetings arranged so first we headed out on a search for the Romeet Gallery (www.romeet.com). The city can be a little tricky to navigate with most tuk tuk drivers struggling to find a contemporary art space but we eventually make it and meet with the lovely Sao Sreymao.

romeet

Romeet Gallery

She shows us around the space and introduces us to the work currently on show by artist Bo Rithy. These sculptural pieces own the space in a powerful and emotive way. Sao explains that this is the second solo exhibition held at Romeet by this artist who only in his twenties has now decided that as well as pursuing an art career will study law, driven by a desire to respond to his countries ongoing political and economic difficulties. This patriotic concern is explored in his works ‘Longvaek’s Bamboo’, the pieces being about the fall of Longvaek, which has been described by historians as catastrophic for the Khmer kingdom, which remained answerable to the then Siamese and Vietnamese, until the country became a French protectorate in the mid-19th century. For Bo this represents a time in which the Khmer people began to encounter more and more crisis.

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Longvaek’s Bamboo by Bo Rithy

We had experienced visiting the Killing Fields just outside of the city only the day before and the sense of a nation in dignified yet endless recovery from such horrors still resonated with us. In fact this sense had resonated with me for over ten years, since my last visit to Cambodia.

Now at the gallery I could not help but see the representation of bones and a spine in ‘Longvaek’s Bamboo’ and considered that which may become almost archetypal for a nation with such a history. However, it also feels that the artist is keen to communicate strength and connectivity through the work, in relation to the Khmer people and this is a cultural quality that even as mere visitors we can still clearly bare witness to.

Longvaek’s Bamboo by Bo Rithy

Longvaek’s Bamboo by Bo Rithy

Later in the day we feel an Angkor beer or two calling us so head to Meta House (www.meta-house.com) where we have heard the arty parties are the place to be. When we arrive we get our beer on while catching one of the films shown as part of the ongoing events program. ‘Rated X- Journey Through Porn’ is directed by Dag Yngvesson anda seemingly accidentally insightful documentary about the porn industry. Meta house was founded in 2007 by German filmmaker Nico Mesterharm and he along with his Cambodian team opened Cambodia’s first art/communication/media centre.

We have a long chat with Richard in the bar and he fills us in on some of the history of Meta House, its focus on film as a medium and how it provides a space for artists and creatives to engage in a process of practice development and critical thinking.

We are really excited by the ethos and the space and over more beers Richard goes on to mention an interesting visit to Mata House from David Puttnam, the producer of the film the Killing Fields released in 1984. He describes how valuable an experience the exchange had been for young artist attending the viewing of the film and following Q&A and we leave feeling inspired and wishing we could stay longer……

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Sweet ‘Art in Phnom Penh

…….but as is always the case we must move on, the beach awaits and so does Vietnam!

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Blogging from the beach.

 

 

Sweet ‘Art on the road part 2: Santa Fe to LA – by Corrina Eastwood

So after some very long drives through the high planes of west Texas and New Mexico, past grain silos and rolling tumble weeds, and after a lot of coffee, we arrived in Santa Fe with excited anticipation, primarily of visiting the Georgia O,Keefe museum. Before that we come across the SITE (www.sitesantafa.org) an amazing space that really drew us in as we passed by despite it being a little on the periphery of the town centre.

Site, Santa Fe.

Site, Santa Fe.

SITE is a non profit arts organisation that opened in 1995 to present what was then the only international art biennial in the United States, and one of a handful around the world. We were lucky enough to catch their current show Feast: Radical Hospitality In Contemporary Art and really enjoyed the show as well as the interesting curating style. The exhibition examines the history of the artist-orchestrated meal and 30 artists explore the social, political and commercial structures that surround the experience of eating together.

I was particularly struck by the documentation of the piece ‘International Dinner Party’ by Suzanne Lacy. Lacy called for participation of women from all over the globe to hold and document dinner parties honouring women important to their own cultures. All parties were to take place in March 1979, in the hope of creating a network of women, acknowledging women that would extend around the world. This made me think of our launch show in aid of international women’s day and to also feel inspired with ideas for our IWD show next year!

I found the documentation of the response to Lacy’s call fascinating and emotive with archives of postcards that she used as a call for participation, along with highlights from a trove of letters, photographs and other materials that participants sent describing their meals. Also exhibited was a wall map pinpointing the countries in which parties took place.

Archives from International Dinner Party by Suzanne Lacy

Archives from International Dinner Party by Suzanne Lacy

I love the use of found objects in art and feel my fascination with the archives of a documentation of such a happening relates to this love. A sense that an object can so strongly retain the sense of its importance in the past, translated in the present. We were helped by the gallery assistant to search through the archives for the telegrams relating to parties that took place in London, the assistant seemed to really enjoy our enthusiasm for the piece and the show as a whole.

Map documenting International Dinner Party by Suzanne Lacy

Map documenting International Dinner Party by Suzanne Lacy

Untitled by Felixstowe Gonzalez- Torres

Untitled by Felixstowe Gonzalez- Torres

Here is another piece (untitled) in the show by Felixstowe Gonzalez-Torres. We were invited to take a sweet to eat which complemented the spoonful of delicious Slatko, a type of Serbian jam also on offer!

So with our Sweet ‘Art sweet tooth satisfied we head off, next stop; the David Richard Gallery (www.davidrichardgallery.com) to catch an exhibition by Paul Pascarella. This is a really cool contemporary space and the work looked great, the guys in the gallery were also super friendly and welcoming.

Sweet 'Art at the David Richard Gallery

Sweet ‘Art at the David Richard Gallery

Sunset Gold by Paul Pascarella

Sunset Gold by Paul Pascarella

Pascarella’s recent paintings are inspired by the powerful forces observed in nature and seen in person convey a dynamic energy emphasised by the large scale of most works.

We also popped in to Charlotte Jackson Fine Art (www.charlottejackson.com) and took a look at the exhibition of works by Ronald Davis.

Stronger from the 'Floater' series by Ronald Davis

Stronger from the ‘Floater’ series by Ronald Davis

Davis’ work makes interesting analogies between the materials and techniques of traditional painting and the digital tools of graphic imaging. He seemingly applies the same artistic decision making considered in traditional painting, such as conventional brushwork and perspective, to his use of a mouse and keyboard. Also worth noting, another beautiful airy contemporary space; Santa Fe seemed to be good at this.

And then we finally made it! To the Georgia O’Keefe museum. O’Keeffe is described as one of the most significant artists of the 20th century and was devoted to creating imagery that expressed what she called “the wideness and wonder of the world as I live in it.” She was a leading member of the Stieglitz Circle artists, headed by Alfred Stieglitz, America’s first advocate of modern art in America.

O’Keeffe was one of the first artists that I studied when at art school. I loved her use of mark and colour and her evocative and dreamy washes. I also liked, in retrospect what I feel was a very feminine symbolism in her imagery as well as her character as a person and artist, strong, sexy and compelling.

We spent majority of the show enjoying some of her instantly recognisable works, specifically the works in which she collaborated somewhat with Ansel Adams exploring their interpretations of landscapes in Hawaii, following a visit.

I was particularly struck by seeing Horses Skull With White Rose in person which I remember as being an inspirational and important piece for me when I began studying and developing my own practice.

Horses Skull with White Rose

However, as we ventured further into the show I found my self feeling quite disappointed. Many works I had hoped to see where not in the permanent collection and I found the most compelling and interesting works were in fact photographs of the artist her self taken by other artists depicting her very strong and enigmatic style. I was pleased to have seen these as well as displays of the brushes a pallets that were left in O’Keffe’s studio before her death and an easel holding an unfinished work. The last work she was pencilling out before her death, the outline of a tree.

I began to realise that maybe in some ways I had built up such great expectations of seeing so many works of an artist I had so admired that this was always to end in disappointment, as I tried to fulfil the wishes of the young artist I once was. I am in retrospect so very grateful to have gained a greater insight in to the woman and artist that showed such dedication to her practice.

We were sad to leave Santa Fe although I was relieved to discover that in fact I was not developing a chest infection but was actually suffering a bit from being 7,000 ft above sea level, I had no idea!

So we hit the road again and headed to LA via a weekend in Vegas (you don’t want to hear too much about that!) We were excited to get to LA as we had a few meetings planned and a studio visit with artist Water Kerner (www.waterkerner.com). Water currently has two pieces showing at the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery and had offered to take us to visit the show followed by lunch and a visit to her studio.

Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) is a facility of the City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs and showcases art from residents of LA at all levels of their careers as well as artist from other parts of the world whose work is of relevance to the people of the City of LA (www.lamag.org).

It’s an amazing and dramatic industrial space of 10,000 square foot and has breathtaking views of the Hollywood hills from the grounds complete with a great view of the Hollywood sign which gets us embarrassingly excited!

View from LAMAG

View from LAMAG

LAMAG entrance

LAMAG entrance

This does in no way faze Water who is excitement personified with a dynamic energy that makes me wonder how she may get by if it were not for her passion for her practice as an artist to focus on. We learn later that Water has had many successful creative careers and this answers my question as it transpires that this energy and creative passion have resulted in many achievements. She mentions in passing later with great humility that she founded Lati2d in the early 90s, a company that specialised in providing cutting edge graphics for TV and film. If I’m honest even after Water patiently explained Lati2d and it’s success I was still confused by the technicalities but the several trophies and awards at her studio for achievements in the field helped my simple mind a tad! Water then went on to be a successful director working on commercials and music videos and again I understood to a greater existent on seeing photos of her posing with Janet Jackson in her studio toilet!

For now however we get to know Water through her works at the LAMAG open call 2014. Unfortunately we missed the private view by just one night but enjoyed looking around the varied works on display. The space is huge and the amount of works a little overwhelming to view but with shows like this I always feel it’s best to let the whole show wash over you a bit and the important stuff will stick.

Here are a few of the peices that stuck….

Beachy by Aaron Rivera

Beachy by Aaron Rivera

Stacked #1 by Jodie Weber

Stacked #1 by Jodie Weber

……..and Water’s work definitely fell in to this category also.

As I have mentioned I love work that incorporates found objects and the first piece of Water’s that we spot stands out amongst the other sculptural pieces. ‘Blue Danube Family Portrait’ combines found objects and the juxtaposition of the chosen objects strikes me as important and interests me as I imagine the cans as actors, taking centre stage for a bow.

Blue Danube Family Portrait by Water Kerner

Blue Danube Family Portrait by Water Kerner

The anthropomorphism I attribute to the piece and the sense of theatre comes before I learn the title. Water explains that Blue Danube is the piece of music that can be heard when turing the handle to the music box amongst the cans, her desire being for visitors to interact with the piece. Later she describes her inspiration for the piece and a recurrent theme in her work which appears to be a desire to draw the attention of the viewer to that which is fragile and ephemeral and to Water, precious. Particularly with reference to the environment and our need to protect our planet. Water remembers the film ‘Soylent Green’ saying it had a great impact on her and segues a little into her passion for film and it’s power in conveying important messages. “Sound, light, music, motion!” she exclaimed commenting on what influences her work. I haven’t seen the film ‘Soylent Green’ and Water refuses to give away the ending but for her it began a concern for the environment and our careless attitude towards conserving our planet.

This feels to be an incredibly important issue to her and I get the sense that when something is important to Water it needs to be worked through and extensively explored. She described the piece a little further, her ideas relating to consumerism with the cans having once been a part of this preoccupation and explains the wooden built QR code for viewers to discover and be taken to her website.

Blue Danube Family Portrait (QR detail) by Water Kerner

Blue Danube Family Portrait (QR detail) by Water Kerner

She mentions that she finds the many music boxes that she uses in her work on eBay and I notice this also fits with her exploration of ways in which we can reuse the worlds resources with eBay often being a very modern form of recycling.

I also begin to feel that as an artist Water is very process led, taken by an unconscious need to purchase something or manipulate a found object to use, a need that may become clearer to her later. It is this gut lead process that give the work it’s edge. She describes the process of rusting the cans for around a year, spraying them and carefully observing the decay. She then wonders aloud if her interest in rust and the ageing process relates to more personal feelings. Water is keen to discuss feminist ideas relating to women in the work place and views about women in general in society.

For me Water’s work feels incredibly personal, it is this sense that touches me and draws me further in. It is a possibility in her work that I ask if she has considered and this leads us to her second piece at the LAMAG show.

Illuminated Tryptic by Water Kerner

Illuminated Tryptic by Water Kerner

Illuminated Tryptic by Water Kerner

Illuminated Tryptic by Water Kerner

‘Illuminated Tryptic’ is what appears to be a collection of personal artefacts and found objects brought together in a way that feels to me to serve as evidence. A testimony to some thing deeply personal and important, gathered and considered, pieced together like a puzzle, making real something internal and intangible. The complete picture of the puzzle is of course unclear and open for interpretation as I imagine is the intention, yet I am intrigued by the illuminated aspect of the work and the x-ray effect achieved by the use of light, an x-ray being something that searches to reveal the internal, as an aid to healing. There is also an actual x-ray scan included in the piece yet I wonder more about the symbolic than the literal.

Later I ask Water about the piece and she comments that she would not know where to start in describing it. That for her it in some way relates to spirituality, that it holds personal meaning yet with this piece she struggles to share.

What moves me about the piece, that I feel is captured with such dignity, is the representation of the beautiful in that which is flawed. Found objects of little monetary value, discarded and no longer of use given reverence and with good reason. I notice the reference to Water’s name within the piece, the sterile water containers, hidden behind layers of meaning, the tap on top of the piece that feels a little tongue in cheek and I gain a sense of what may need to be revelled or hidden about these personal elements, this very much represented in the overall aesthetic. For me the piece holds a moving sense of the questioning of what is to be valued or discarded. What is beautiful, valuable or important? For me the answer is found far more often than not in the most surprising, flawed places. An idea of the existence of beauty because of flaws, not in spite of them, is communicated, maybe a tricky mantra to maintain in a town like LA!

An exciting visit to Water's amazing studio

An exciting visit to Water’s amazing studio

Water shows us the installation she's currently working on.

Water shows us the installation she’s currently working on.

Detail of Water's work in progress

Detail of Water’s work in progress

Another exciting piece from Water's studio.

Another exciting piece from Water’s studio.

Water Kerner in her LA studio

Water Kerner in her LA studio

Inspiring to see the beautiful space and all works in process!