Figurative Art - An Obsession
Saturday, September 16, 2017
sometimes written as figurativism, describes artwork—particularly paintings and
sculptures—that is clearly derived from real object sources, and is therefore
by definition representational. "Figurative art" is often defined in
contrast to abstract art:
Since the arrival
of abstract art the term figurative has been used to refer to any form of
modern art that retains strong references to the real world.
Recently in this
nice essay in the NY Times about Manet I
found out that he had a favourite subject called Victorine Meurent who appeared
in at least five of his paintings. The most famous ones were Le Déjeuner sur l’Herbe
and the other Olympia.
While I am not a painter or an artist this was comforting
as I have a photographed a few women in my life who were my steady subjects
(some of them for years).
On Friday I attended an opening of new paintings by
Thomas Anfield at the Gallery 7 (on 14 West 7th
Ave). While there I
did not notice anybody from our moribund media, but I did notice at least three
artists, Allan Storey
, Richard Tetrault, and the artist formerly known as 12 Midnite
. Also there were , Kokoro’s
Barbara Bourget , Jay Hirabayashi, and jazz singer Kate
Hammett-Vaughan. Also there was dancer Ziyian Kwan
and bookseller husband Rod Clarke
. For me this represented a distinct comfort in what to me seems
like a declining art scene in our city.
It does not take too much noticing to understand that Thomas
Anfield, a fine figurative painter who is flirting with cubism, that his
inspiration (and I would use the word, in a nice way, obsession) is his strikingly
beautiful wife Melo. In fact when I asked Melo if her nose was the most famous
in Vancouver she smiled and nodded positively.
Below you will read a personal opinion of mine. Note that
I am not an art critic and of art I know nothing.
My conclusion in noting that Richard Tetrault, Thomas
Anfield, Neil Wedman
, Angela Grossmann
and Tiko Kerr
(some of my fave local painters) are not overly rich and famous
perhaps because they do not have overtly obvious painter’s block. They paint
and paint. They have lots of stuff.
It would almost seem that in Vancouver we want our
artists to suffer and have long shallow periods of uncertainty.
My guess is that Pablo Picasso would have failed in
Vancouver. If you are prolific you cannot be of any consequence.
|Barbara Bourget & Jay Hirabayashi|
Embryotrophic Cavatina - Requiem For My Friend
Friday, September 15, 2017
As Ks go Krzysztof Kieslowski and Kokoro Dance
pretty close in my files. But they are not because I have a separate file under
D for Dance and that is where Kokoro Dance is.
In my Thursday Vancouver Sun (yes I am subscribed to the
daily as I want to know what is going on in my city) I read the interview
between the Sun’s Shawn Conner and Kokoro Dance’s one half (the other being
Barbara Bourget) Jay Hirabayashi.
To my amazement the two Ks are very close. You see the
choreographic work Embryotrophic Cavatina (with Hirabayashi, Bourget, Billy
Marchenski and Molly McDermott) that is to open this Wednesday at 8pm at the
Roundhouse Performance Centre has as its music composer Sbigniew Preisner's
orchestral work Requiem For My Friend. Preisner’s friend was Polish film
director Kieslowski who died in 1998.
I photographed Kieslowski in October of 1994.
I met up with Barbara Bourget and Jay Hirabayashi at the opening of Thomas Anfield's show at the West 7 Studios on Friday. Behind the pair is a work by Anfield and we all know that his favourite subject is his wife Melo.
The Man From Pittsburg Almost Made Me Smile
Thursday, September 14, 2017
|Linton Garner & his Peck Horn|
Of late as the weather begins to cool and the prospect of another winter in front of
me, it is hard not to be melancholy. It gets worse when I think of how many
people I photographed who committed suicide. Today, coming back from a
saxophone and cello concert in New Westminster my list of 9 grew to 10 when I
remembered yet another one.
arrived home determined to write a blog with a more positive and cheerful note.
And yet this one will be bittersweet as I remember a fine man, pianist Linton Garner, who died when he
was 88. He had an easy smile and a a reserved demeanour.
He had a sense
of humour and instinctively knew what to say when I asked the right question.
Rossini’s in Kitsilano, a jazz joint he
often played in I took my friend Patricia Hutter then one of the bassists at
the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. I asked a question of Garner, knowing how he
was going to answer.
asked, “I understand you are from Pittsburg. Who else is from there?”
was the usual one, “There’s Roy Eldridge, Ahmad Jamal, Art Blakey, George
Benson, Kenny Clarke, Stanley and Terry Turrentine, Ray Brown, Billy Strayhorn,
Earl Hines, my brother Erroll, Billy Eckstine…””
seemed he was going to go on forever, I interrupted, “Who isn’t from Pittsburg? “
His answer was, “There’s J.J.
Johnson, he’s from Indianapolis.”
Below is my
corrected (sort of) notes of my interview with Garner. They are fine, interesting but I
am not quite sure if I want to smile.
The Fuji X-E1 Soon To Be on a Shelf
Wednesday, September 13, 2017
In 1958 I bought my first camera, an Agfa Silette in a
Washington DC pawnshop. I had traveled with some fellow St. Edward’s High
School students on a chartered Greyhound bus. The first roll I shot with that camera
was with Kodak Tri-X. I soon was flummoxed by the camera’s limitations as the
lens could not be removed.
I saved up with odd jobs with Brother Hubert Koeppen and by
1959 I had a Pentacon-F Single Lens Reflex that I purchased for $100 from Olden
Cameras in NY City. I remember that day when Brother Emmett, C.S.C.
who ran the
PX type shot at St. Ed’s indicated that there was a package for me. That was
the day that I opened this glossy (very beautiful) box that contained that
new-fangled SLR. In those days rangefinder cameras were the cameras to have.
Since that day sometime in 1959 I have had many cameras and
I have kept juts about all of them. They are behind me on top of a couple of
negative metal filing cabinets as I write this.
Just about a week ago it dawned me that my first digital
camera (the only one I have ever had) my Fuji X-E1 is now 4 years old. As always
my Rosemary was right when she insisted I modernize my ways back in 2013. This
camera has been a Godsend.
With it I learned to shoot Arts Umbrella dancers with slow
shutter speeds. I recently applied that technique with the circus/theatre
the New Zealand troupe TheDust Palace
at the Cultch’s York Theatre.
|Rochelle Mangan - Goblin Markete - The Dust Palace|
But I have been frustrated in that the camera is unable to
focus quickly in the dark situation of a theatre. Anybody who shoots movement
knows that in a peak movement that movement is zero. When a baseball batter
hits the ball movement is zero. A camera’s slow shutter speed will freeze that
For me motion is best reflected in a combination of freeze
and blur. I use shutter speeds that range between ¼ of a second to 1/30th.
But it is almost impossible for me to anticipate peak movement (even when I do)
m X-E1has a shutter lag as it attempts to focus in low light.
That problem will now be over as I have purchased (a black
body in on order at Leo’s Camera on Granville) for the just out Fuji X-E3. Not
only does this camera (which will use the two lenses I already have) focus more
quickly it also has a silent (no click!) shutter.
As I wait for that phone call from Jeff Gin at Leo’s I am
somehow feeling as if I am 17 in Austin, Texas and nagging Brother Emmett if my
camera has arrived!
Giclée in French Slang means...
Tuesday, September 12, 2017
I have a friend who believes in this digital age that a
photograph taken with a vintage camera loaded with film is automatically art.
I am not sure I agree. What I do believe is that as
technology progresses one must be aware of the process and to understand what
Today marks the introduction of the iPhoneX (pronounced ten). Several essays on the subject
maintain that with the advent of the iPhone the camera (as a stand along
entity) is pretty well obsolete. This is because the recent iPhones are really
good cameras with a phone included. For me since I appreciate the use of flash
in a studio, until an iPhone can be mated to a studio flash, I would not
consider using one.
My advanced Galaxy 5S may have a good camera but I have made
it a point not to use and I haven’t even once! I would rather use my better
But in all the argument as to what is better nothing is
being written on the fact that sharper, with brighter colours, with saturated
colours do not in their own right make a photograph “better”.
Consider the definition of a well-made inkjet which has the
artsy French name of giclée. Wikipedia
zhee-KLAY or /dʒiːˈkleɪ/)
is a neologism coined in 1991 by printmaker Jack Duganne for fine art digital
prints made on inkjet printers. The name originally applied to fine art prints
created on Iris printers in a process invented in the late 1980s but has since
come to mean any inkjet print. It is often used by artists, galleries, and
print shops to suggest high quality printing but since it is an unregulated
word it has no associated warranty of quality.
The word giclée was
adopted by Jack Duganne, a printmaker working at Nash Editions. He wanted a
name for the new type of prints they were producing on the Iris printer, a
large-format, high-resolution industrial prepress proofing inkjet printer they
had adapted for fine-art printing. He was specifically looking for a word that
would not have the negative connotations of "inkjet" or
"computer generated". It is based on the French word gicleur, the
French technical term for an inkjet nozzle. The French verb form gicler meant
to spray, spout, or squirt. Duganne settled on the noun giclée, meaning
"the thing that got sprayed" and also, in French slang, ejaculation
(a connotation Duganne did not know).
In 2001 I photographed an excellent subject, Helen, who had
a Japanese variation on how Audrey Hepburn would pose with gloves and a hat.
The 5 picture display I called Odri. I used a medium format Mamiya RB-67 Pro-SD
with b+w film. I scanned the chosen exposures as colour negatives with my
scanner for a sort of realistic skin colour result and then had them printed as
tiny 2x3 inch giclées. In 2001 giclées had a look that was deemed inferior to
photographs as you could see the individual dots of sprayed ink. What you see
here is an enlarged to 8x10 version of the 2x3 original. If I were to try to do
this today it would be impossible unless I could find a vintage machine.
I have written here
on the surprising results with the use
of an iPhone3G. Its limitations resulted in handsome results that were not
I am currently trying to figure out how to download
photographs that I plan to take with that 3G now that it will not have internet
(it will be only a camera!) and be able to use that damn iTunes.
Fairwell French Style - Not
Monday, September 11, 2017
|Rosa 'Abraham Darby' September 11 2017|
Between 1807–1814 Napoleon’s Grand Armée fought Wellington’s, Portuguese and Spanish troops in what
the English call the Peninsular Campaign. Between 1813 and 1814 the French army eventually widthdrew
across the Pyrenees. Napoleon’s brother Joseph who had been installed as King of Spain
made a quick exit and eventually ended up in New Jersey.
The Spaniards have a very long memory for stuff,
particularly of the historical kind. My grandmother who spent her early
childhood in Spain in the waning years of the 19th century used to
tell me of rude people who left a party without saying goodbye as “despedirse a la francesa,” or “saying
goodbye French style.” The expression came from the quick French exit to avoid
In these waning days of summer as fall approaches my once
blooming roses (not remontant) have bid me goodbye. But some of my roses, in
particular the English Rose Rosa ‘Abraham
Darby’ has the odd bloom. I was almost sorry to cut this one today for the
scan. It has a glorious scent of fresh fruit. The scent lingers in my nose and Abraham Darby has a few more to go before it politely says goodby.
I am afraid to own a Body
Sunday, September 10, 2017
I am afraid to own a Body—
I am afraid to own a Body—
I am afraid to own a Soul—
Possession, not optional—
Double Estate—entailed at pleasure
Upon an unsuspecting Heir—
Duke in a moment of Deathlessness
And God, for a Frontier.