Wednesday, September 14, 2011

The elusive art of the elusive artist Bansky in the news

Bansky as he appeared in his documentary
It has been said, sometimes smugly, by some street artist that if the public doesn't like their art (graffiti) then they can just paint over it. The situation is more true if the graffiti art is painted on private property.

This year there are two interesting stories about the street artist Banksky's work painted on private property. 

Banksy is a pseudonymous England-based graffiti artist, political activist, film director, and painter. He has dozens of celebrity collectors - including Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie and Christina Aguilera - who have paid hundreds of thousands  for his creations.

Wikkepedia writes:

"Banksy began as a freehand graffiti artist 1992–1994[13] as one of Bristol's DryBreadZ Crew (DBZ), with Kato and Tes.[14] He was inspired by local artists and his work was part of the larger Bristol underground scene with Nick Walker, Inkie and 3D.[15][16] From the start he used stencils as elements of his freehand pieces, too.[13] By 2000 he had turned to the art of stencilling after realizing how much less time it took to complete a piece. He claims he changed to stenciling whilst he was hiding from the police under a rubbish lorry, when he noticed the stenciled serial number[17] and by employing this technique, he soon became more widely noticed for his art around Bristol and London.[17]

Banksy wrote in his glossy coffee-table book Wall and Piece : “The people who truly deface our neighborhoods are the companies that scrawl giant slogans across buildings and buses trying to make us feel inadequate unless we buy their stuff. They expect to be able to shout their message in your face from every available surface but you’re never allowed to answer back. Well, they started the fight and the wall is the weapon of choice to hit them back.”

Many consider him, his name at least, as the best know street artist of all time. His fame has increased dramatically with his documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop,"

 In 2006 Banksy was introduced to Thierry Guetta, an exuberant, eccentric French expatriot claiming to be making a documentary about street artist. Banksy joins in on the project, but is greatlly dissapointed with the final results. Banksy decides to take over the editing of the project from Guetta and brings in two proffesionals Jamie D'Cruz and Chris King, as producer and editor. They went through thousnads of hours of  Guetta's unlabeled film, much of it unuasable. Guetta, not detered by his freinds rejection of his editing of the material, returns home to Los Angeles to begin making art himself. Banksy comes up with the idea to shift the focus from street artist to focus on Guetta.

The resulting documentary "Exit Through the Gift Shop", list Banksy as it's director. The film has received overwhelmingly positive reviews, holding 96% on Rotten Tomatoes, and was nominated for Best Documentary in the 2011 Academy Awards. One consistent theme in the reviews was the authenticity of the film: Was the film just an elaborate ruse on Banksy's part, The Boston Globe movie reviewer Ty Burr found it to be quite entertaining and awarded it four stars. He dismissed the notion of the film being a "put on" saying "I’m not buying it; for one thing, this story’s too good, too weirdly rich, to be made up. For another, the movie’s gently amused scorn lands on everyone."

Still not everyone know who Banksy is: Banksy's gorilla in a pink mask (July 2011)

Banksy's gorilla in a pink mask appeared on the wall of the former North Bristol Social Club in Eastville One of street artist Banksy's most famous early works in Bristol has been mistakenly painted over.

The gorilla in a pink mask on the wall of the ex-North Bristol Social Club, in Eastville, had been a familiar landmark in the area for more than 10 years.

But the building has recently been turned into a Muslim cultural centre.

New owner Saeed Ahmed assumed it was a regular piece of graffiti and had it painted over. "I thought it was worthless," he said.

He added: "I didn't know it was valuable and that's why I painted over it. I really am sorry if people are upset."

The wall was whitewashed by the new owner of the building who had never heard of Banksy.

A paintings conservator, Richard Pelter of Park Street-based International Fine Art Conservation Studios, was last night attempting to remove the whitewash using large cotton buds and sensitive cleaning materials.
Mr Pelter said he had been doing some tests.

"What I found was that the paint there was quite soluble underneath, but no-one could actually tell me where it was on the wall. 
The upper layers of paint can be removed, very carefully. It would take quite a long time and cost quite a bit of money to do it."

The gorilla was uncovered, maybe not the best idea.

Every Picture Tells a Lie -uncovered (September 2011)

In 2003 Banksy spray painted a mural inside, on the wall of  a contemporary art gallery in Germany's capital. The graffiti shows five soldiers with angel's wings and yellow smiley faces beneath the slogan "Every picture tells a lie!"

When the show was over the picture was painted over.

Now the covering paint has been removed. The mural was excavated as part of an art project by Brad Downey, a Berlin-based American artist, whose exhibition is titled What Lies Beneath and focuses on layers of paint. Downey, who also took part in the 2003 exhibit, remembered Banksy's work and wanted to uncover it for his 2011 project.

The gallery is unsure of what will happen to Banksy's work once Downey's exhibit ends on Oct 23rd. It could go back to hibernating behind white-washed walls -- that is, if someone doesn't try to buy it first.

Monday, September 12, 2011

It's 9/11 again - a choice for an artist meditation: Van Gogh

It's  9/11 again, television and papers are filled with reflections on the terrorist attack ten years ago. As the United States has found, the true enemy is always allusive.

Artist must face allusive threats from such enemies as procrastination to perfectionism. So for today's reflection I chose a letter from Vincent Van Gogh to his brother:

My dear Theo,
Life passes, time does not return, but I am dead set on my work, just for the very reason that I know the opportunities of working do not return.
Especially in my case, in which a more violent attack may destroy forever my ability to paint.
During the attacks I feel a coward before the pain and suffering—more of a coward than I ought, and it is perhaps this very moral cowardice which, while formerly I had no desire to get better, makes me now eat like two, work hard, limit myself in my relations with the other patients for fear of a relapse—altogether I am now trying to recover like a man who has meant to commit suicide and, finding the water too cold, tries to regain the bank.
My dear brother, you know that I came to the south and threw myself into my work for a thousand reasons. Wishing to see a different light, thinking that to look at nature under a brighter sky might give us a better idea of the Japanese way of feeling and drawing. Wishing also to see this stronger sun, because one feels that without knowing it one could not understand the pictures of Eugène Delacroix from the point of view of execution and technique, and because one feels that the colors of the prism are veiled in the mist of the North.
My work is going very well, I am finding things that I have sought in vain for years, and feeling that, I am always thinking of that saying of Delacroix’s that you know—that he discovered painting when he no longer had either breath or teeth.
Well, with this mental disease I have, I think of the many other artists suffering mentally, and I tell myself that this does not prevent one from exercising the painter’s profession as if nothing was amiss.
When I realize that here the attacks tend to take an absurd religious turn, I should almost venture to think that this even necessitates a return to the North. Do not talk too much about this to the doctor when you see him—but I do not know if this does not come from living for so many months, both in the Arles hospital and here, in these old cloisters. In fact, I really must not live in such an atmosphere, one would be better off in the street. I am not indifferent, and even during the suffering, religious thoughts sometimes bring me great consolation. Thus this last time during my illness a misfortune happened to me—that lithograph of Delacroix’s, the Pietà, together with some other sheets, fell into some oil and paint and was ruined.
I reproach myself for my cowardice; I ought rather to have defended my studio, even if it meant fighting with the police and the neighbors. Others in my place would have used a revolver, and certainly if as an artist one had killed some rotters like that, one would have been acquitted. I should have done so, and as it is I have been cowardly and drunk.
Ill as well, yet I have not been brave. Then face to face with the suffering of these attacks I feel very frightened too, and I do not know if my zeal is anything different from what I said, it is like someone who meant to commit suicide and finding the water too cold, struggles to regain the bank.
Do not fret in any case—my work goes well and look here, I can’t tell you how it rekindles me to tell you sometimes how I am going to do this or that, cornfields, etc. I have done the portrait of the warder, and I have a duplicate of it for you. This makes a rather curious contrast with the self-portrait I have done, in which the look is vague and veiled, while he has something military in his small, quick black eyes.
I have made him a present of it, and I shall do his wife too if she is willing to sit. She is a faded woman, an unhappy, resigned creature of small account, so insignificant that I have a great desire to paint that blade of dusty grass. I have talked to her sometimes when I was doing some olive trees behind their little house, and she told me then that she did not believe that I was ill—and indeed you would say as much yourself now if you saw me working, my brain so clear and my fingers so sure, that I have drawn that Pietà by Delacroix without taking a single measurement, and yet there are those four hands and arms in the foreground in it—gestures and torsions of the body not exactly easy or simple.
I beg you, send me the canvas soon if it is possible, and then I think that I shall need ten more tubes of zinc white. All the same, I know well that healing comes—if one is brave—from within, through profound resignation to suffering and death, through the surrender of your own will and of your self-love. But that is no use to me—I love to paint, to see people and things and everything that makes our life—artificial—if you like. Yes, real life would be a different thing, but I do not think I belong to that category of souls who are ready to live and also ready at any moment to suffer.
What a queer thing touch is, the stroke of the brush.
In the open air, exposed to wind, to sun, to the curiosity of people, you work as you can, you fill your canvas anyhow. Then, however, you catch the real and the essential—that is the most difficult. But when after a time you take up this study again and arrange your brush strokes in the direction of the objects—certainly it is more harmonious and pleasant to look at, and you add whatever you have of serenity and cheerfulness.
Ah, I shall never be able to convey my impressions of some faces that I have seen here. Certainly this is the road on which there is something new, the road to the south, but men of the north have difficulty in penetrating it. And already I can see myself in the future, when I shall have had some success, regretting my solitude and my wretchedness here, when I saw between the iron bars of the cell the reaper in the field below. Misfortune is good for something.
To succeed, to have lasting prosperity, you must have a temperament different from mine; I shall never do what I might have done.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Shiro Daimon on dancing

Shiro Daimon is recognized as one of the most remarkable Japanese dancers today. His meticulous technique, complete, is both as a dancer, actor, musician. Disciple of the great masters of Noh (Kanza Tetsunojô 8th, national treasure) and dance of Kabuki (Hanayagi School)

It's been almost 60 years since I started dancing,
 yet dance is still a mystery to me.
Dance upsets me now as before.  
Why does the dance make me crazy?
One day, I must find the reason.
Once I wrote: 
"At the age of 7, I was eaten by the dance." 
Indeed, at that time, the days preceding the show, 
my throat could not accept food and after the dance, 
my soul felt separated from my body,
as though it had left, gone on a journey.

I can find in the story the origin of my religion of the dance.
The most important thing for the dance is to liberate the soul. 
The choreography is a way for the release. 
The soul is a flower. 
The technique is a seed. 
I planted on my body several seeds so that the flower may open.
It is the Soul who chooses the seed. 
She, the Soul, makes me dance. 
If  one day my body is like a frozen tree, 
certainly my soul will
open like a flower.

by Shiro Daimon

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