Monday, April 25, 2011


MODULE 2 / EMMANUEL VAN DER AUWERA / BRING US TO OURSELVES, MIKHAÏL 07 JANVIER 2011 - 30 JANVIER 2011 Palais du Tokyo, Paris. by craniv boyd.

Bunraku puppet theatre is alive and well in France, Belgian based artist Emmanuel van der Auwera posits a new method to work with marionettes in his 2009 short film Bring us to Ourselves MIKHAÏL, it is a cynical work that heralds the victory of euro democracy over Socialism, which could now twenty years after the fall of the iron curtain seem like old news. 


The film is an exercise in a sustained form of irony a crucial moment for understanding this study is a shot of "Mikhail" Gorbachev in three quarters human scale as a puppet he rides in the back seat of a limousine pensive in a place that must be near the former east Berlin because of a glimpse from the car window of the German Democratic Republic era television tower on Alexander Platz, an socialist obelisk architectonic accessory that capitals of many of the Warsaw pact nations like in Tallinn, Estonia, or Vilnius Lithuania had, and still have now. The viewers know from a passing glance out the window of the vehicle where Mikhail is traveling, the fact that he has not left home today without his Louis Vuitton bag is a cruel joke. Viewer ship can recognize meta if not the derivative source for this particular camera angle or scene, it is from a 2008 advertisement where the real Gorbachev sponsors the Louis Vuitton bag, the conceit that a former world leader one member of Perestroika and proponent of Glasnost would be preoccupied with what kind of hand luggage he takes with him is weird.


Film authors like David Lynch occasionally depart from a specific image, like a severed ear in a freshly mowed suburban lawn as in Blue Velvet (1986) working intuitively building a narrative from that single striking and original image that could be an overture or clue to depict a kind of suppressed and obfuscated violence rampant in North America. Van der Auwera departs from an image that although original and striking, retired cold war era eastern European politician with hyper capitalist fetish commodity next to him on way to some round table discussion or negotiation or other, the image finds its origins out side of the mind of the artist who selects to work with it. Seeing a rather long passage in the short film devoted to depicting an ironical twist on advisement for a French luxury brand, you suspect the whole film is built on this shaky foundation, the sand quickens as Mikhail gets out of the car to leave flowers possibly as a bereaved for a loved one (mother Russia in her socialist lifetime) at the foot of the remainder of that asbestos infested barricade 1961-1989 that was the iron curtain at its most visible instance in Western Europe, the Berlin wall. Or is Mikhail here to leave flowers in an act of penance a belated apology for not taking the wall down right away when the late R. Reagan demanded it in a speech held in front of the Brandenburg gate.


The thread snaps as the marionette enters a junked out trashed office space, he is manipulated by two young men of European extraction who look serious and nondescript, their downcast eyes seem to whisper "look at the puppet, at the face of the marionette." The lighting schema is dramatic and overtly theatrical with a dominant bias toward primary color contrast we see blue shadows in red floodlights or vice versa, so as to indicate with heavy handed light design a heightened emotion where the empathetic Richter scale lies flat. It is difficult to feel pathos for a puppet even if the puppet gets wet, as Mikhail does in Bring us to ourselves Mikhail due to the office sprinkler system that is set of for no apparent reason other than climactic flare, perhaps the lights look better and more sparkling when the surfaces in the frame are wet.


The credits roll and the short film is over open ended and poetic as it was at the start, one thing is certain that it is presented by the 21st centuries answer to Academic Painting of the salons of Baudelaire's time, or rather a kind of Bau Haus redeaux for multi or newest medias and technologies. How fruitful is it for a young artist to have the imprimatur of sponsorship, funding and the post-modern version of the Academe branded at the end of their short work? When that work winds up looking over managed on the technical, and budgeting sides and malnourished on the concept and creative sides. The paltry view provided by a work that looks smooth almost too slicked slides over hot button topics like socialism communism and commodity fetish presenting every thing from an uncritical confused distance, that is half mocking and pedantic at once. By craniv boyd  

Miral (2011) From Julian Schnabel Pathé/The Weinstein Company Based on the novel by Rula Jebreal film report by craniv boyd.

Miral (2011) From Julian Schnabel Pathé/The Weinstein Company Based on the novel by Rula Jebreal film report by craniv boyd.


Maps, territories lands they represent, the people and histories they demarcate and hint at is the starting point of this film Miral (2011) latest of artist and director Julian Schnabel. As the opening credits roll we are in a soft macro focus on maps the names are Roman and the legend indicates the epochs under great conquerors like Caesar or the son of Phillip of Mastodon, the by gone names of places like Jericho or Philadelphia or Canaan, the region looks biblical and when the still existent city of Jerusalem appears on the map viewers are located in the near east, the cartographic slide show in pastel hues is once reminiscent of a claustrophobic locked in space Schnabel explored in his previous film the diving bell and the butterfly, yet at the same time the interest in antique cartography dovetails with the artists recent works on paper, which are  paintings over nautical maps of tropical Islands. Miral is a film made by an artist the opening credits are done with an artist's sensisibitily in his choice to show a map of the sort you find in an Antiquarian instead of a Google map or an image taken by remote control form a satellite orbiting earth. The opening credits align the film with drawing rather than re emphasizing photography and the latest technology.




Miral is a story of women Schnabel "follows" the women in the effort to generate the film, the narrative begins Homeric style in Medias res with the preparations for burial of Yasmine Elmasri's character of Hindi the camera takes us into a real space of a Palestinian mortuary and the realness of the Arab women who spread green pigment over the white shroud and in their movements have the green pigment transferred onto their black garb, are all authentic so matter of fact so as to be exotic not in their subjects but in the reality of the locations and people portrayed, naturalism in film has in recent years approached the status of endangered beast.


The date of death is given in a white Swiss san serif sub title, Swiss modernist type a time-honored classic in current fine arts. The same typeface is utilized center frame white and super imposed heralding the name "Hindi" it is the same sculptural usage of type that French Jean Luc Goddard developed in his early classics like Masculin Feminin with Schnabel the type is like nouvelle vauge cinema, yet more in tune elegant less abrasive than in the cinema of Goddard, striking yes but working for meaning in the film not subverting it anarchically. Hindi word and name floats over the filmed action not on a separate title of black.


The story starts in 1948 where Hindi a youngish woman takes a formative position when confronted with horror she faces in the uncomfortable reality of displaced palilistinian children in the street, she acts and takes the children home with her. She founds a school and the narrative continues, Wilhelm Defoe's character as the interested U.S. army officer who asks Hindi "so you never married… listen…don't be a stranger" represents a kind of saintly character who forgoes one committed relationship so as to: "(but I) have 2000 children and they all need an education."




The banality of evil, how a claustrophobic and abstract repetitious movement of the subjective camera towards and away from a black pole of some sort, the movement looks wrong then its persistence and inescapably becomes sickening. Suddenly it stops and the camera jumps to reveal the scene of unapparent squalor the viewer suspected they might be in. It is a fat balding man getting up from a bed buttoning his pants up, while his stepdaughter lies crying and raped, the spectators to this see from this terrifying moment that they were placed in the subjective view of the helpless young woman, the abstract nature of the prior camera angle withheld the mystery of incest in progress.

The woman gets ups from the bed rapidly collects her personal affects then steals some crumpled cash from a coat pocket announces she is leaving immediately, can't take it anymore tells her younger sister to come with her now as she cowers under the blankets across the room, the mother pleads with her not to leave and the woman in anger says she knew what he was doing to her all along and watch out because she (pointing at the cowering sister) is next. The mother begs of her not to do this but she leaves despite this, her mother hands her some money, in that moment of her embarkation made through willful choice that defined the abuse victim, a now familiar white title appears with her name "Nadia" so as to illustrate an example of strength of character as a result of determination relating to decisions. The options of to stay there with the certainty of mute oppressed and suffering or to leave and survive at any cost with the uncertainty of the world at large. She Nadia is given a name in the moment after she decides to live on her own away and through her trauma.


Cut to the progress of a rake or rather scenes from the life of moll Flanders, we have no innocent girl duped into a life of debauch as in the etchings of Englishmen W. Hogarth, rather an uneducated belly dancer survivor who uses the same object her former abuser took, her body her person. Has she fallen or is Nadia falling up dancing in a Middle Eastern cabaret so as to have capital from the immediate abilities of her person, with the use of her body as sex object? Her motivations for choice of work place become apparent after her dance set. Seated at the bar drinking by herself smoking, An Israeli man approaches with a pick up line in Hebrew, Nadia's rejoinder is a bitter retort in his mother language, Impressed the Israeli man asks "who she is actually" surprised by the fluency of a visibly Palestinian belly dancer in a second Semitic language. She tells him to back off that it is obvious that she does not want to speak to him. Her employer steps in gently and firmly reminding the man to respect her wishes, after the bar patron exits, Nadia's employer pours her another milky chartreuse colored drink of spirits at her request, he offers her a sandwich encouraging her to eat something, Nadia is not hungry she finishes the drink instead then rambles home staggering numbed by the alcohol waving weakly at the dock workers as the sun comes up. It is implied that drink on demand is an important perk if not motivation for Nadia's choice in nocturnal employment, it corresponds to the gin and destruction of women and morals W. Hogarth illustrated in his social commentary of London.      




The rage that was the impetus for Nadia's personal exodus haunts her as Palestinian and young attractive woman in a newly colonised nation of Israel antebellum the six days in 1967, life is hard for her to navigate. She is a bus passenger alone and in broad daylight, she is not delegated to the back of the bus like Rosa Parks, her discrimination is more of the perforated sort, half sanctioned by the state rather than wholly as with Jim Crow and segregationist south, on her bus ride an Israeli man facing his Israeli partner or girlfriend makes eyes at Nadia, he must smell something for he then in-turn touches her hand that is on the overhead support railing in the bus near his, a small gesture nevertheless an invasive one a kind of unsolicited sexual overture hand contact, Nadia's rage emerges a steely hate-filled glare is shot at the Israeli man with a wandering eye and idle hands, his companion who is mid sentence speaking at him sees his apparent divided attention, the harsh query "what are you looking at" turns to derisive barking at Nadia "Arab whore". She succumbs to her unprocessed rage, striking the woman breaking her nose so as to break the nose of that special woman who gave her life and unjustly blamed her later for inviting incest. She is arrested and incarcerated for an assault on an Israeli woman the drastic rapid cutting forward through commotion and apprehension on the bus, to trial and entrance through the gates of a bright prison yard we are led to believe that this is draconian if not fast justice for minor infractions. Rosa Parks no doubt felt a kind of despair and fatigue when she sat in the front of the bus. The nonviolence of Parks and harsh unjustified imprisonment sparked a boycott that was a decisive battle in a war fought with love as its primary tactic that was the civil rights movement. Violence and rage are what relegate Nadia to a character cum quasi case study of injustice in the novel of Rula Jebral on which this film is based, she like so many fall prey to her anger within. Her own unconsidered rage directed in frustration at a petty if not inconsequential minor injustice spirals her out of it, her violence puts her in jail and jail time changes her life.


In the slammer her cell mate knows immediately the tell tale sings of the early terms in a pregnancy, her caring and love for Nadia are mysterious how did this woman young Palestinian considerate and incarcerated come by clinical knowledge of the human reproductive cycle? Nadia does a favor for her cell mate by approaching a red haired tall Israeli alpha female in the yard, demanding a cigarette after a brief sizing up of the intensity of Nadia's gaze, the inmate furnishes her with information along with the smoke, that her cell mate is a terrorist serving three consecutive life sentences.   




Fatima's story is announced in the same way as Hindi and Nadia's her narrative is the most concise in the film, as a minor role her time and motivations are compressed each of the moments of her life are concrete and jump from one to another, the cuts move in crescendo in their frequency, from her occupation as chief nurse in a hospital at the time of the six days war, her dismissal from her post because of her complacency in abetting the escape of recovering wounded migrant Jordanian soldiers who were prisoners of war, to what she did with her free time and anger after hitherto trauma she witnessed in unprecedented scale via horrors of war, how she elected to go further down the path she started when she abetted the escape of combatants from the hospital. We see Fatima animated and expressive in clandestine meeting with radical extremists sympathetic to a cause her voiced over narration overlaps her voice in the meeting confusing things her actions and next move begins before her narration can catch up, she walks into a crowed movie theatre, speaking of the ease with which she could execute her deception, as an Arab woman she could plant the dynamite in the red hand bag under the seat of the movie theatre, the Marquis reads Polanski Revulsion, the audience watches with some what rapt attention Sharon Tate's last performance, Fatima keeps looking at a couple necking across the aisle the cuts are increasing in their frequency she leaves her lethal bag under a seat, and exits the theatre, ticking is heard, Sharon Tate is being attacked onscreen and as the ticking persists the camera goes and shows a quick ever increasingly rapid jump cut portrait of the movie going public to show all the lives taken by the pending violence off screen, cut to the dock with Fatima the accused seated sentencing is in process and the court asks all to rise, she in a last and desperate attempt at insurrection remains seated, unrepentant and receives two consecutive life sentences for her deed and a third bonus life sentence thrown in by the court for her disrespect of its proceedings. She throws up her fingers in a kind of symbolic gesture so as to confirm her martyrdom and solidarity with a terrorist cause. After this we are told that goods she fanatically planted did not deliver there were no casualties, this passage in the film is rendered to near absurdity so as to parody extremists in general to be a sword that cuts both belligerents in this dramatic instance.       




Solar flare and over exposure contribute to the subjective over the shoulder camera work that builds the shots of most of the film. Variations in color film stock and filters provide an atmosphere and a patina to epochs decades and dramatic events, of the Miral saga Schnabel is able to color a murder scene with a bucolic rose tint, the assassination occurs semi obscured the villain pulling the character slowly and violently out of frame and out of life.


Over the duration of Miral the light gets in your eyes offering a Pier Paolo Pasolini esque method of the long take, the flare of the sun or artificial light with Schnabel comparable to a moments where Jason or the Blind Theseus's heads are framed by the sun light and solar flare as they navigate in the visitation of the attic Argonauts epic Pasolini created in the 1970's with his version of Medea. The sensibility for the light in this film establishes Julian Schnabel as a maitre much more so than his previous films.




Some of the adult children of the Director are cast in supporting roles Vito as an extra, body guard for a visiting dignitary to Jerusalem, who holds a press conference in a hotel about the results of a peace treaty, singed in Norway. Stella plays role opposite Frida Pinto's character Miral, as an Israeli woman daughter of an officer in the Israeli army who dates Miral's cousin, a moment of tension when the girls shift their conversation from English rock and roll bands like the who, and the rolling stones to questions of, citizenship and nationhood when the officer father comes home and grills Miral about her ethnicity correcting her answer of Palestinian to say "you are Israeli". The sequence of the two girls driving through the checkpoints and the landscape in a red convertible hints at a kind of friendship and casual tolerance between ethnicity's one would hope to have more of in the Middle East.




When the title announcing "Miral" is given in its large Swiss sans serif center frame, the frame presents a close view of a young Miral in a blue dress off to left of center frame, the view ends near where the armpits begin, projected on the screen in a theatre this image of the girl in Palestine is big she is for a moment a "Big Girl" this view and the image echoes a series of oil paintings Schnabel made in recent years titled "Big girls" which brings us to artistic cross pollination over varied forms in the oeuvre of an artist, Schnabel has in fact returned in film to an idea for an image he developed in painting in a way that is seamless, this instance and moments where a pair of lovers discuss a book and the frame is filled with black and white half tone photographs of natural disasters which look like the source photographs for mammoth paintings on view in the lobby of the met life building on park avenue,  are points in which the painted practice of Schnabel, as in the title credits are most crystalline and at hand.




Another character that deserves mention in this commentary of Miral is the inanimate protagonist of the vernacular architecture of the Region. Architecture has its tear-jerking monologue in the sequence where Miral and friend are instructing at a refugee settlement when a condemned concrete multi family house is demolished. You cant fake that house falling down, this realness of the Israeli soldiers the Palestinian extras on-looking, two trained actors as plants to dramatize the whole scene tying back into the cohesion of the fiction, is nothing short of brilliant, decidedly absent are computer generated imaging and digital extras, present are the buildings with a past, truly torn down on location the authentic people moving towards a W. Herzog position of bringing the boat over the mountain in the Amazon. In the service of fiction based on a true story the light, geography, location and man made structures are all authentic so as to have a fresh and independent, thereby more humane or comprehensive intuitive artists view of a region that saturates the media with flat images of conflict. by craniv boyd. 

Sunday, April 24, 2011

John Kelsey rich texts: selected writing for art editors Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw, Institut fur künstkritik isbn 978-1-934105-23-8, book report by craniv boyd.

John Kelsey rich texts: selected writing for art editors Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw, Institut fur künstkritik isbn 978-1-934105-23-8, book report by craniv boyd.


Insider art texts that have a conflict of interests occasionally if not too subtly hinted at in the selected writing for art that New York based John / Writer/ Artist/ Gallerist/ Permanent Member/ co-founder/ contributing editor/ Kelsey wrote for Artforum Parkett and some exhibition catalogues which editors Daniel Birnbaum and Isabelle Graw present in book form for the Sternberg press. The art world as it exists in New York City, Paris, Germany (Berlin, Frankfurt Am Main, Köln) Zurich and Oslo; the theaters of North European and North American are where the majority of Kelsey's subjects are to be found.


For Kelsey in recent years the job description of the "immaterial" laborer of the "contemporary" artist has been extended to vaporetti passenger as working time flattens out to encompass all the time. Better get your sea legs ready you numerous MFA post-grads, an art career in New York can only start after the Masters in Fine Arts level in New York City implies Kelsey, after juggling your debt incurred from massive student loans to pay astronomical tuition, try to social network your way to Venice so you can be a relevant "contemporary" artist working all the time even as you take a ferry across the grand canal.


In his rich texts John Kelsey elaborates the fate of all too many MFA post-graduates post 2008, the purgatory of the artists assistantship, particularly hellish is Kelsey's rendition of the city of Dis Norwegian recovering drug addict, Bjarne Melgaard has built in his studio in the Bushwick section of Brooklyn. Melgaard saddles the youngish talent he employs with the task of mass-producing photo realist portrayals of child pornography, paintings he exports back to Oslo for a solo exhibition Melgaard has at Astrup Fearnley Modern Museet. Kelsey who writes the catalogue text for said exhibition remembers to mention that the Norwegian mounted an exhibition a few years prior at Reena Spaulings Fine Art, he continue the narrative in the essay along a chronological thread the argument by mentioning Melgaard's next solo expo in New York was at Green Neftali Gallery, so as to position both Reena Spaulings Fine Art and Melgaard in a positive trajectory of progress. Kelsey and Melgaard's meeting in 2008 at the time of his Green Neftali exhibition is recounted at taking place in a luxuriously banal hotel suite where haut couture menswear is strewn about aftermath of a shopping spree, also littering the suite are tomes from the cannon of post modern gay and transgressive literature like the late Kathy Acker. This essay lends credence to the disturbed artistic practice of Melgaard who presents an irregular and uncomfortable sexual practice pederasty, is Norway so permissive so as to exhibit the currently Brooklyn New York based Artist. Melgaard we learn is a kind of militant gay army of one, he is author of a poem titled " a concept of rape" calling for violence against heterosexual oppressors, his art practice looks as if it could stand under the general umbrella of Sadism. Neo liberalism and Globalism choose not to incarcerate their sadists, they permit them to display their sick fantasies on museum walls in the developed world John Kelsey's catalogue essay for Melgaard's art is titled "Rape and the City" so as to make light of a truly sad state of affairs.


The single color photographs of current professional women tennis players in action are epitomes of physical bodies that fascists would have appreciated, these athletes, whose photographs bracket each essay or article are placed throughout the book with out captions, they are just there scantily clothed sweating in the act of the tennis match, zoomed in cropped and displaced. The women could be possible psyignomies for Bernadette of Bernadette Corporation or Rena of Rena Spaulings fine art these two fictive women are the pseudonyms of the two projects John Kelsey is committed with. Both names appear intermittently over the course of the selected writings for art that span the years of approximately 2002- 2010. The text is written in a dry yet humorous academic prose that presupposes a critical distance to which many have come to expect from serious arts writing, end notes and citations from all the usual suspects of French structuralism and post modern thought along with selected Octoberists like Krauss or Foster reinforce a learned critical or objective subjectivity which is far from contra pied with the editors at Art Forum the publication that commissioned and published the bulk of these writings for art.


This critical distance is played with in that Rena or Bernadette are mentioned in the self described "hack" texts adding airs of legitimacy to both pseudonyms of the author and his art project collective or his art gallery collective. To translate the name Bernadette as My writing and Rena Spaulings as My Gallery readers can see more clearly the concept of situationist play as tactic co-opted into a form of self serving tribalism crypto public relations. John Kelsey is a clear writer whose topics in this book extend from most things visual or theoretical fashion, 3D cinema, Art, Facebook, Laptops. In escape form Discourse Island he gives a succinct genealogy of e-flux and OMA AMO that is sharp if not damming. Kelsey writes lucid observations on routine groupings of politically ambivalent artists who end up in turn being perceived as politically committed are at their most poetic in his assessment for art forum of theanyspacewhatever exhibition at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where Kelsey compares the look of the show to functions on an Mac book pro copy paste dragged and dropped into Frank Lloyd Wright's rotunda on fifth avenue. Perhaps form another like "program" such as Renzo Piano's iconic building in the Beau Bourg of Paris. The endemic organizing of group shows is treated simply and elegantly at the end of the essay Unclaimed Bags will be destroyed a catalogue text accompanying the exhibition Uncertain States of America that took place in Oslo by serial ubiquitous curator Hans Ulrich Obrist, so as to mention the inherent dislocation inflicted by placing my production next to your production so as to imply the creative decision is now in the hands of the curator whose work it is in a temporary cohesion induced by proximity. By craniv boyd.

Jerry saltz SEEING OUT LOUDER art criticism 2003-2009 isbn 978-155595318-8 book report by craniv boyd

jerry saltz SEEING OUT LOUDER art criticism 2003-2009 isbn 978-155595318-8 book report by craniv boyd


From reading Jerry Salz's seeing out louder I find that I am more informed about Jerry Saltz the man, than the art he has view obsessively and regularly for the past thirty years in New York City. This is partially due to the fact of the interview between Saltz and Irving Sandler at the end of the book, rather art world anctictdotes inserted in the lively review that build and image of an auto didact who avoids a close reading of art works so as to chase the fabled demon of analogy looks like this or that in Saltz's case artist X, Y, Z and W in short order. The reviews thematically arranged out of Chronological order are light fares both crunchy and informed yet there is vulnerability present a disposition of neediness to be informed.


Saltz makes the reader all to aware of a time when: "he was an artist" or "when he was a truck driver" or " when he was a greenhorn" to write all this is to narrate a caterpillar to butterfly metamorphosis as if art, New York's art specifically holds trans formative power, an elixir to remove all trace of the "greenhorn". Saltz is entertaining when he writes of moments of the experience of seeing however to hammer down on being a young man new in town straight from Chicago dropping out of art school and the rest, how he informs us how he came to new York to be rich and famous from the art, is to pound on an obscure nail presenting the reader with the bitter taste of some failed vague naïve dream of youth.  Staying with the art world at any cost is not the same as staying with art at any cost. The passion object in Saltz's vocation is over the course of SEEING OUT LOUDER switch from the art to the scene to the art world. A broader view and diagnosis of the art scene in New York rather than descriptive pathology of discreet viral art practices, so as to make Saltz a General Practitioner home visiting the galleries treating patents with a head cold, rather than a neurosurgeon being handed a scalpel to excise a tumor pressing on the hypo campus.


A personal memory that supports the subtle gossip tenor of Jerry Saltz's art criticism from 2003- 2009 is his perception of New York art dealer Paula Cooper as attractive when he was making deliveries to her gallery in his former life as a truck driver. Saltz has his "æsthetical heart" stolen for better or worse back in 2002 by then 28-year-old Thrisha Donnelly when she rode in on a white horse for the debut of her New York art career. She some how now can only preach to the converted she remains for Saltz a "thoroughbred good artist who does not mount good gallery shows." A kind way of phrasing there is not much in the way of art objects to look at, this reminiscing of Donnelly's debut for her exhibition two years later tells more of how Saltz reacts when he sees the name Donnelly, how that invokes the stunning memory of a young equestrian woman in uniform, rendering the review of her current work at hand a some what sentimental stroll down memory lane.


The gossip element is at its most brazen when Saltz writes of a bathroom conversation with an unnamed art critic who states "Andrea Fraiser is a W____" how is it that Saltz starts the review of an artists exhibition with a conversation that is inappropriate if not chauvinist, Jerry Saltz then provides the back story of a notorious exhibition Andrea Frasier had at Fredrich Petzel Gallery so as to justify the polemic that Fraiser may or may not have invited with the recent work where she beds an art collector who paid for an art work  recorded on video. The background information eclipses the description of the work he reviews, making his article about the controversy gossip and urban legend surrounding the Andrea Fraiser brand.


At times Jerry Saltz writes of artist in immature terms, explaining that Martin Krebber a Köln based German Painter over 50 has "street cred" like some kind of gang member, because he studies with Markus Lupertz and was former assistant to G. Baselitz & M. Kippenberger, then paragraph ends with a string of Teutonic names. To speak of an artist having as having "bulletproof" street respect is to contribute to the myth of artist as renegade or delinquent it precluded and cheapens the efforts of those who paint paintings for a living. 


The review of Jim Nutt starts with a flash back to the personal world of 1970's Chicago that Jerry Saltz inhabited, it tells of how he "hated" Jim Nutt's work then because he was obsessed with art forum then and Nutt represented a strong mid western regional figurative painting ignored by the editors of art forum in the 70's.


In the course of the interview between Saltz and Sandler, readers are informed that writing is not easy for Saltz, that he self identifies as a loudmouth more of a raw nerve and a folk critic. His lively writings are generous in their broad view of the New York art scene that Jerry likes to call Babylon his commentary is direct and clearly state the biases he has as an autodidact, yet he does more to speak of names in the art field than objects which artists have made. by craniv boyd

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Peggy Franck: drawing from a Store of thought, Kimberly Clark: Temporary Devotion, Aharon Ozery: “No sky no earth- but still snowflakes fall, SODA_JER

Peggy Franck: drawing from a Store of thought, Kimberly Clark: Temporary Devotion, Aharon Ozery: "No sky no earth- but still snowflakes fall, SODA_JERK: Astro Black, Künstlerhaus bethanien gmbh Exhibition Spaces Kottbuser Straße 10 25th March-17th April 2011. by craniv boyd.


Franck: Bright colors like neon and painterly gestures on new material surfaces such as semi transparent one directional mirrors are all well and good, Perspex and plexi and rolled sheet acrylic are in and of them selves fine and friendly as materials, their newness and relative limited expressive range can pose an issue for artists when they are seduced by technological advances in light weight construction materials. You can weld and melt and warp and break all this plexi glass heat forming your path towards a world of neo-baroque inevitable plastic explosion in the first decades of the twenty first century, that involved and heat intensive tactic could be one way of battling the distance and cold hardness that plexi and plastic like other synthetic materials like it carry with them. Dutch born Peggy Franck does not choose this path. In her work which is to be read as output of consistent praxis and process plexi glass figures in the same way paper would as two dimensional formal surface, bright colors are applied to objects and the disparate elements of panel, pane or surface act flat and are flat some what disappointingly so for a public seeking another installment of the love saga between two and three dimensions. Space and volume are absent only hinted at weakly with bright colors painted in broad strokes in scatter about reason without rhyme hanging methodology. The third dimension it almost totally oppressed by the second, begging the question is this installation created with the graphic designers approach or sensibility to volume?


Clark: If Mark Zuckerberg made artwork would it look like this? Chances are slim of that, Dutch artists Eveline van de Griend, Iris van Dongen and Ellemieke Schoenmaker have been working together as artist collaborative or fictive persona Kimberly Clark for only two years less than Zuckerberg created the Facebook. Nihilism and drunken antics persist in a slide show and video montage with blinking stuttering red and white bold face type techno electronic music is the soundtrack. A leggy woman is dancing around holding her head Ichabod Crane, or the ghost of the dead Hessian Soldier attends a cocktail party in sleepy hollow wearing a mini skirt. The slide show digital photographs are entrenched in the bacchanalia photographs that crop up on coed social networking profile pages. People pose and smile to the camera in nocturnal scenes in various European capitals unawares that the party photo they took with the headless brunette with shapely legs in high-heels was using their souvenir as an art project. This could be a case of thirty something year old girls from Holland gone wild, yet the gross out factor and Northern renaissance tradition for the gruesome is too prevalent to be simply titillation. We are taken from a loop of the headless woman sitting and dancing in hotel room soaking in glam decor, does she move with Saint Vitus dance or out of ennui? There are some strange subculturesque arty looking party video with Ichabod Crane in heels dancing with other freaks in the culture production tribe, Ichabod Crane in heels then goes shopping so as to have a horrid juxtaposition between her decapitated head she holds and the Chanel hand bag accessories she prances around commentary on rampant niche consumerism perchance by showing up in a zombie state to shop.  This video loop is one component of Kimberly Clark's Temporary devotion, self-referential title remains to be seen if this was intended. Indeed in an organism with low life expectancy rates the artist collective where rates of attrition can be high like a Heavy Metal music group temporary devotion is a prerequisite. Other parts of the practice of Kimberly Clark include a kind of dynamic rehabilitation of Duane Hanson; a life like woman fully clothed is in the process of vaulting a fence a decapitated doppelganger is nearby. There is also the small art bar, this is comical and successful in that it smells authentic yet is not overdone in the stale scent of old drink. On the Path from the Dynamic zombie tableaux to the video montage towards the obscure Berlin Bar revisited there are a hand dryer with motion sensor and a urinal mounted on the wall. The hand dryer is complacent of the prevalent bathroom humor because it is decked out in black lacy women's knickers. R. Mutt had some trouble urinating after he left the artists bar on can tell by the red Catsup stylistically adorning the urinal on the wall across the entrance to the bar in a box the size of half a shipping container.


Ozery: Do androids dream of electric sheep? The distopic æsthetic proposition posed in grand scale by Israeli Artist Aharon Ozery calls to mind the title of science fiction novel by American author Philip K. Dick, a work more known to the movie going public of the 1980's as "Blade Runner". The work is large and the multiform aluminum tubes suspended in a cube evokes a cats cradle or overblown pick up sticks fashion in turn the sculpture elicits an order of functionless childhood game or interior of strange earthbound space craft. "No sky no earth- but still snowflakes fall" appears as if it could be a world machine built by aliens. The title alludes to a future where our planet in the solar system is disappeared, our blue skies by default in the same oblivion our planet went off to yet winter time weather persists.


Jerk: Identity confusion is a result of what could be called visually samplings from beyond the post colonial. Perchance it is a cold space from which Astro Black comes, a video cycle that is self referential and heavily steeped in hip hop culture so as to become kitsch for the Rapper and Black studies Urban intellectual yet at the same time is so rigorous and technically advances so as to become a seamless collage of time based media, so if Hannah Höch or John Heartfield lived today and had access to You Tube and final cut express they could conceivably create a kind of insider humorous allegory on race relations and hip hop culture that artist collaborative Soda_Jerk has created in their work Astro Black. Which brings me to the point of being an American, takes one to know one or some such saying, in Astro Black there is a subtle kind of outsiders perspective and exotic otherness at play, the author seems to choose source video like actor Laurence Fishburn in his sun be speckled character in the matrix and some stock footage of Ronald Reagan holding a speech as president, a blending of the space ship landing from science fiction film Independence Day and a music video of Public Enemy and Flavor Flav "fighting the power" as you will in 1990's Manhattan due north of central park, has some thing un-American to it in its hyper Americana. So as to say too enthralled with the sub-cultural exports of the U.S.A to be made by some body who grew up with this particular order of diversity right front and center, it has something of the child who could not make it to the block-party therein lies a kind of relaxed and lenient approach to charged cultural references. The exacting precision in post-production errs on the pedantic, obsessive or Mannerist, perhaps we are embarking on an era of mannerist time based works in the cinema.  The stance that is more redolent with sunny continent of Oceania where the sister, sister collaboration of Dan and Dominique Angeloro come from. By craniv boyd.

New Season Matthew Lutz-Kinoy SILBERKUPPE/ Dominic Eichler & Michel Ziegler/ Skalitzer Strasse 68 10997 Berlin, DE by craniv boyd.

New Season Matthew Lutz-Kinoy SILBERKUPPE/ Dominic Eichler & Michel Ziegler/ Skalitzer Strasse 68 10997 Berlin, DE by craniv boyd.



A refreshing springtime work on canvass is about to come down, it is still for the moment big and colorful, riotous tempera and Acrylic paint on nude canvass, the work hangs in SILBERKUPPE on Skalitzer Straße in Kreuzberg. Matthew Lutz-Kinoy, an American born artist is the author of this work titled Prospekt A, a German Language term used in stage and scenic design.


The work is generous in both palette and scale at 645cm x 288cm x 130 cm it is large format. If paintings could be said to have flavors than Prospekt A, would taste of some of the female masters of the so called New York School of painting such as Helen Frakenthaler or American ex-patriot Joan Mitchell whose difficult abstract paintings from the fifties were made in Paris, the late Hungarian born yet Paris based Michel Hantaï is also an artist who created with bright color fields and bare cotton duck, tying off and turning abstraction or non representation into a method as if one possible rational outgrowth of abstract expressionism would be a kind of rarefied Batik. These could be the close cohabitants of a flavor spectrum of non representational painting.


A work on canvass that is concurrently capable of including installation art in its fold, the painting is on a system of supports, yet the support is dynamic possessing a novel approach to the site of SILBERKUPPE. A rectangular structurally supportive column in the narrow corridor makes its impression not quite bifurcating the length of canvass what is essentially an awkward space is elegantly addressed by a canvas that behaves as an installation taking into account architectonic givens in the installation space. The receptive and malleable nature of the shape of the canvass could be perceived as wry or clever, yet some how the local color Mathew Lutz-Kinoy has provided in gestural big brushed abstraction is more transcendent than punning. Still the title of the work and the format that of extra Extra large do provide some cues as to how a work of art can look and behave on the theatre of an opening evening. by craniv boyd.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

OMBRE ET LUMIERE. Photographie moderne mexicaine Du 10/11 au 25/2/11 - Instituto Cultural de México - Mois de la Photo à Paris, novembre 2010 Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Agustín Jiménez et Luis Márquez by craniv boyd.

OMBRE ET LUMIERE. Photographie moderne mexicaine Du 10/11 au 25/2/11 - Instituto Cultural de México - Mois de la Photo à Paris, novembre 2010 Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Agustín Jiménez et Luis Márquez by craniv boyd.



On the timeline between the silver gelatin print and the 12 mega-pixel camera stands Pêcheurs de nuages "cloud catcher" a photograph taken by Luis Márquez in 1939 of a Mexican Man that has since gone. The white national costume that is often illustrated by the murals of Sisqueros, Orozco and Rivera is seen here worn in the common place on a man with a net walking against a cloud-filled sky. His costume is not the heroic attire of the Mexican revolutionary set in pigment and lime in a social realist mural alla fresco, it is fact, fact as recorded by an analogue camera taking an exposure on a black and white thirty five millimeter film stock.


There are some who can ascertain by visual hallmarks of a photographic print alone whether or not the exposure was taken by a range finder or a single reflex lens, I am not one of them, however I would hazard a guess informed by the 1930-s vintage that Pêcheurs de nuages was taken with a range finder style camera Lieca more than likely. The now less common range finder is a make of camera that affords the photographer more mobility, the absence of prism or mirrors in the viewing mechanism allows for more discrepancies between what the photographer sees in the viewfinder and the vantage the lens exposes for the negative. Taking pictures with a range finder is an exercise in approximation taxing both the imagination and the ability of letting go for which a photographer is rewarded in lighter camera weight and increased durability without any downgrades in 35mm format.


The striking quality of commonplace and momentary events: recording a sunset with cloud cover in a barren coastal landscape. A fisherman done for the day takes his large net carrying it over his left shoulder the long pole of the net is balanced left hand extended forward shoulder at the fulcrum and the net behind the man in a sombrero hanging limp yet catching his unexpected prey of cumuli. Luis Márquez the author of this photograph the chance encounter with his poetic title creates a visual pun that speaks to cloying induced by ambition or hubris of mankind. In 1939 who could really be said to be capable of catching a cloud? Mankind subsequently invents a way to synthetically induce precipitation. The Mexican in the photograph may not have risen the day he was photographed with the intention of catching clouds, it could be difficult to ask him today, yet this activity is what we can observe today a fraction of a second the moment it takes to think about taking the next step on the way home as you carry a fishing net over your shoulder. By craniv boyd.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Játtanir Várframsýning 2011 Føroysk Myndlistafólk Listaskálin 18/3-25/4 Listasavn Føroya, Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.

Játtanir Várframsýning 2011 Føroysk Myndlistafólk Listaskálin 18/3-25/4 Anna Katherina Højgaard, Eigil Lyngsø, Ludvík Breckmann, Marjun Jóanesardóttir, Martin Tórgarð, Pól Skarðenni, Johan Martin Christiansen, Sara Björnsdóttir, Hrafnkell Sigurðsson, Haraldur Jónsson, Þóroddur Bjarnason, Erla Haraldsdóttir/Craniv Boyd. Listasavn Føroya, Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.



"Játtanir takes place in the eternal now. Art is the only thing that can heal us. We are grateful for the Feroese experience. In the middle of the Atlantic ocean. Takk"




The uncomfortable risky task of assessing an exhibition is problematic in a small society; the smaller circle of the Nordic Art world is made smaller when you as an artist judge the very exhibition you are a guest participant in. I will make my best effort here to write some truth about how I saw this spring exhibition so as to make whatever readership "see" the art themselves in this relatively remote local, not as a mere description of fact but a moment of disparate recollections filtered through an at times reasonable medium that of the artist as art commentator.



Children & Fathers:


There is much ado about when children learn how to relieve their calls of nature by themselves. Many specialists are occupied with learning how ideal or less than ideal toilet training can influence the lives of adults. This is not my area of experience however when something from the bathroom is displayed in a museum, thoughts of the bathroom reoccur. Þóroddur Bjarnason, an artist from Iceland, has a work titled New Heights New Opportunities, it consists of a series of "ready mades" an out growth of my friend and yours too Marcel, of "R. Mutt" renown. The objects in question are plastic cream-colored footstools designed and manufactured for the funkis project of Ikea, the function of these stools is to assist small children to reach the seat of the western style toilet. Þórrodur Bjarnason leaves the paper labels from Ikea on the stools so as to remove all doubt of from whence they came, the placement and titling of this series is apt if not wry or brilliant, because it is a new level of development when a human child learns to hold it in and release it at the appropriate time and place, a basic skill that does in fact result in new heights and opportunities. This step so quizzically small in relation to a full-grown human adult is reminiscent of a "small step for man and a giant leap for mankind" training oneself to do the unnatural can lead humans to walk on the surface of our closest and largest natural satellite.


Faðir /Stóra teppið is a Blurring of the very masculine with a sensitivity and craft practice of quilting and sewing that is often associated with the "fairer sex". Icelandic artist Hrafnkell Sigurðsson in this work made for Játtanir from local and found materials, castaway oily rags from the shipyard at the port of Tórshavn. The rags in their usage and stains become a painting of sorts a document of a crucial activity culturally relevant to a fishing dependant economy. That of ship maintenance an activity difficult to portray in expressionist or realist painting. Fabricating a quilt out of motley rags that are basically utilitarian in nature, Hrafnkell Sigurðsson makes a strong case for aesthetic value in mundane and overlooked objects this work is one that encourages a new perspective on life in the Faroe Islands it is a powerfully smelling quilted textile with a distressed texture.



Sin & Sound:


An oil painting by Faroe Islands based autodidact artist Ludvík Breckmann, was selected for this edition of Várfamsýning. The naive style painting Lívsins frukt Uppgongd is a depiction of three women musing an apple, this fruit is the biblical apple from the tree of knowledge of good and evil, the blonde red-haired and brunette women are two seated and one standing, all eyes are closed or semi shut, a black raven is on a window sill beak cracked open so as to cackle in the hair obscured ear of the seated Blonde holding the apple. Under the raven a striped gray and black cat seated upright tail tilted away, the feet of the three women are meeting in some kind of a stylized pact on the floor. Each of the women wear a solid colored slip or shapeless tunic, they are represented with a hard thick black border so as to delineate their corporeal demarcations, these frontier of the painted flesh in Ludvík Breckmanns painting call to mind the black contours of mature paintings of German born expressionist Max Beckmann, how ever his lines have soul, those of Ludvík Breckmann are charming yet at times a trifle stilted it errs on the illustrative.


Let us say with literary license that the three women in this painting were to take a bite of that illustrated apple of knowledge, perhaps they would hear new words for their emotions or become aware o their emotions as did the biblical hero and heroine of Book of Genesis, if we take this conceit further their emotional vocabulary would be expanded to encompass the words uttered in the sound installation "Játtanir" by Icelandic Artist Haraldur Jónsson. This work comprises of an alphabetical list of adjectives for emotions in the related Norse languages of Icelandic and Faroese. The voice that conveys the words sounds neutral and un-emotive yet it has a female charge. If the computer "Hal" from 2001: a Space Odyssey had a sex change he might sound like this. The emotions the words for them are repeated in list format, so as to isolate feeling, to render a linguistic emotional spectrum into a tangible loop that reoccurs, spending time in Alternative Exhibitions space at Listasavn Føroya, a mysterious voice from down stairs repeats words subtly hinting towards the limits of describing emotions in two related rare old Germanic languages.   



Performance & Relics & Remnants:


A glittering silver shoe lays on its side on the floor of this coy seemingly random gesture is a remnant an appetizer if one is permitted to speak of art objects in terms of five course restaurant meals, this shoe is an object that makes its appearance in the site specific video installation behind it. Where is my stuff, by Icelandic artist Sara Björnsdóttir is a work that compresses and doubles time and space. An updated tromp l'oie effect is employed resulting from video-graphed material of a door that opens and closes which is in turn projected back onto the same door. The day that the material was recorded becomes a close and unnerving reality, for the slight scale shift of projected door and actual door is a puzzle that the viewer is invited to ponder. The majority of the three minute long site specific video loop unfolds in real time, with Sara Björnsdóttir looking for her things, suddenly real time is abandoned vís a vís jump cuts and objects including a pair of glittering silver shoes that appear in rapid succession on the ground, Sara finds her stuff, kicking off the rubber boots she wears in the video to out of frame. In the dimly lit room where the projection is installed the same pair of rubber boots is to be found on the floor, out of frame just where Sara Björnsdóttir left them, an additional relic of this video loop that nods towards performance art.


Further relics of the creative process are remnants, components of ÞAÐ, a performance and installation by Haraldur Jónsson. The performance, a single time occurrence for the vernnisage of this edition of Várframsýning, it was a moving experience to go for a walk in a scenic plantation where the Listasavn Føroya is located on with the public before they had seen the spring exhibition, they were a captive yet patient audience who transformed into participants in a procession led by Haraldur Jónsson holding a music player over his head that recited words (those of his sound piece Játtanir), once inside the museum and the alternative exhibition hall, Haraldur Jónsson then took his position kneeling on a prayer mat an officiating in a hermetic and cryptic event that was a skillful an profoundly light hearted example of the artist creating. With his eyes firmly closed so as to create a distance from the audience and so seal him self off in another space, Haraldur Jónsson reached into the dark hat he had been wearing and pulled out one piece of flesh colored clay after the other, carefully shaping them one at a time in a way that was rich in symbols. After what seemed like it could continue from a fount of imaginative power Haraldur Jónsson stopped suddenly so as to impose an end where there was non and turned his back on the opening public he scrawled the title of the work on the wall in thin delicate course lettering that was so big as to be more form than letter form at the pace of a tortoise. It spelled ÞAÐ Icelandic for that.  


Super flat & Light pictures:


Mirror, mirror on the wall who is the fairest of them all: in the situation of Várframsýning 2011, Þóroddur Bjarnason's super flat art work Mirror 4 People is a shock towards the new. The spring exhibition in this sub arctic constituent country traditionally in recent years is heavy on paintings, mirrors and performance are relatively new arrivals at the Faroe islands, and the new experience that the Faroe Island art public has visiting the museum and seeing ones self in the wall instead of an oil painting via a large format square mirror on the wall, Bjarnason modestly drives at pointed questions posed by many artists in 20th century (Joseph Beuys among others) that of "is every body an artist?" or "can every body be the subject of art?" 


Another moment of flatness or near flatness is Stýriborð – Bakborð a photo diptych by Hrafnkell Sigurðason the photos are close up of the hull of ships and the bright primary color contrast of red and blue is present, the worn texture and the surface of the boat and its protective enamel are felt more as a memory of the sensation touch the fooling of the eyes affect is also at play here with a close up of a significant object towards this specific fishing economy of the Faroe Islands, Sigurðason is able to bring us closer to objects many nowadays tend to be distant from, tools for the hunt and survival, thereby engenders a new æsthetic meaning for these instruments.


The untitled photographs of Anna Kathrina Højgaard, in a grid were unassuming portrayals of the volatile weather and sea in the Faroe Islands, they provided a general palimpsest of what it could be on the islands taken by the ocean in remote and relatively desolate areas they were studies of the light and snapshots of the sublime as it occurs in the power of natures forces.


Drengur og Hestur, by Erla Haraldsdóttir / Craniv Boyd, a video that was according to Faroese arts critic Kina Poulsen "more of a long short film" showed pre adolescent Children and Horses the winter in Skagafjörður in Iceland and its changing weather in the form of a wide screen format video projected in a side chamber. All gloating aside, there was a steady stream of a patient audience for the work during the opening evening to which we are grateful.


Texture & Presence:


Markings on the wall and delicate gestures are a shocking expression of ironic minimalism Concrete Realism, a wall drawing in pencil by Sara Björnsdóttir, is barely there, it is there enough to provoke you. The dearth of apparent readily available "art information" and obvious bourgeoisie musicological signifier (i.e. thick gold leaf masterpiece picture frames) or a work label like can induce panic. The wall where Concrete Realism is drawn on is the most visible and prominent wall space in the alternative exhibitions hall, at first glance it appears nude or inchoate, a barricade of brass poles and a white rope are sentinels guarding the wall indicating an implied "do not touch" or "please stand back" with time similar to when your pupils and irises are adjusting to let more light to your retina when entering a darkened room, you see the cracks and the wall appears on the cusp of falling apart. This artistic position expounded by the drawing that holds the seemingly empty space is an aggressive expression with wispy means.


Innímillum, (in the middle) Pól Skarðenni, is the other direct to wall work in this edition of the spring exhibition. It is paint on the wall in a tour dú force of abstract expressionism, or it is expressionism when it keeps regular hours, Pól Skarðenni worked on this painting while the museum was open, over the course of the days prior to the vernissage Pól Skarðenni shared the normally private and isolated process of painting a picture with those who visited Listasavn Føroya, to see him work consistently on a personal expression which in all likelihood will be painted over was instructive in the practice of per formative painting, or painting as process based art. Skarðenni is a Faroe Islands based artist, it seemed that his contribution to the group exhibition was one that was about his method and time spent painting he approached the challenge to make the painting he would not make otherwise bringing his presence and creative involvement and intuitive decision making to the wall and leaving it there with the paints he brought. One feels that Pól Skarðenni's time spent creating this painting in the same room while the visiting Icelandic artists where installing and curating Várframsýning 2011(a first time event) he took the opportunity to be there and observe to have a working contact via osmosis with the artists from the north. by craniv boyd

Monday, April 4, 2011

S. J-Mikines 1906-1979. Aftur av jarðarferð 1937, Listasavn Føroya, Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.

S. J-Mikines 1906-1979. Aftur av jarðarferð 1937, Listasavn Føroya, Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.


We are in a small vessel for rowing on the sea, and it is dark a dank bottle green light is about, present in the approaching darkness our co voyagers in the craft are downtrodden, dejected wearing long faces  absorbed in memory pensive and wearing black.


The boat is peopled by eight people four men and four women in the front is a pair of man and woman, this man holds the hand of the woman next to him and their heads are close conveying a mutual intimacy and  common bereavement. This man bearded with a mask of sorrow is the most colorful  and hopeful passenger, his ocher and flesh tones on his face makes not only the woman he is holding look like a member of the impoverished martyrs club of Picasso's blue period, but the rest of the depressed convoy seem suitable for membership there too.


There is a quizzical diagonal light that hovers above and behind the passengers, it is so meager and bizarre it appears at risk of vanishing altogether in the thick sea fog  and island mist. This light is a back drop for the people in the boat, the vast expanse of the ocean between the islands is stated in this meager light.  The momentary depression of the passengers set together with the dramatic environment of the ocean at dusk sets a overwhelming fear into the body of the viewer. Panic when it feels like a cold dampness creeping through attire. These people need to get home it is late out and they have laid some one to rest, they are making a crossing from one Island to the next as the light leaves for the night, and the ocean, the elements do not seem to be  merciful in regards their bereavement.


The rectangular canvas is oriented in the vertical, the passengers form a compositional triangle or pyramid that simple and elegantly juts out of the horizon like the tip of an iceberg, the man steering the vessel is the zenith of this pyramid and he leans right the light above him is almost like a spot light so as to draw attention towards  both the semi darkness and the people who are moving through it.  The painting is a study in deep Prussian blue and black  Payne's grey and other hues are present but the dominant  color is decidedly black. The thick  shiny varnish on the buckling surface only heightens the patina of 1937 thick wet on wet oil painting, the visible cracks on the paintings surface now almost three quarters of a century later are sings of a conservationists nightmare, a rare stunning emotional poetic expressive painting that displays the dignity and resolve of a small fishing community  with irreversible and rapid sings of decay due to the painting technique of Faroese expressionism and Faroese modernism. by craniv boyd.

S.J-Mikines 1906-1979. Fyri jarðarferð 1935. Listasavn Føroya, Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.

S.J-Mikines 1906-1979. Fyri jarðarferð 1935. Listasavn Føroya, Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.


A beam of light is on the far wall shimmering on the surface of grey, the harsh light comes from a window it casts an unencumbered spell over the coffin in the center of the room, the bereaved by the window are touched, its starkness is palpable pressing and encroaching on the forms of a solid family and friends who grieve the loss of one of their own. 


Woman Man they stand in front center obstructing the view of the sarg. A point of light at the height of the inseam of the standing man is there to indicate a continuation of the light saturated surface of the chest for the lost loved one. This couple like most of the group is a volume in black and dark pigments so dark as to be perceived as black. They are there gathered in a moment communing in silence, their silent observation of the dead mirrors our own silent vigil of them in their moment of loss, we too via the mind hand brush and paint of S. J-Mikines´s 1935 painting Fyri jarðarferð, are included in the wake observing from the hall of one of the „pyramids" of Listasavn Føroya a community who is in all likelihood now departed themselves.


The sole bright earthy hue's are the burnt or deep ocher present on garments of two men that stand shoulder to shoulder by the window, their faces are stylistically rendered emerging from the semidarkness, their eyes are dark pits, rather they have no eyes deep set shadows of the brows downcast obscure them. Faces that are rendered in a way of anonymous grief, not one face in the painting is whole they are either profiles of sorrow or partly present fragment swallowed by the black.


Stoic peoples, a presentation of a moment in the quotidian, this is not a historic funeral procession a lá Courbet, rigorous in its romantic panoramic depiction of the community in les grand formats, it is more of the moment prior, the quietude the anticipatory or the reverent, Mikines has painted a community in a spartan expressive bare bones manor that in is transcendent. Humanity and its moment of observation of the dead as show introduced to us by Mikines is about his community observing the emotion of loss than pomp and circumstance or irony Corbet presents of a community in broad day light carrying one of their members to their final resting place.


A dichotomy of proximity and distance, Mikines  has painted archetypes grieving that spread out and over his micro culture, this painting is a moment of accuracy and veracity. It is plausible and you feel the pain. Mikines dispenses with a need for a romantic depiction of a crocodile tear on cheek or maudlin saccharine illustration of emotional responses to loss. Mikines brings the public to a space where people are viewing death he depicts the atmosphere  of a wake rather than  hypernaturalisic portrial of the individuals in their respective grief at a wake in a specific building in Faroe islands. 

Ruth Smith 1913-58 Sjálvsmynd 1956 80x60 cm. olja Listasavn Føroya Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.

Ruth Smith 1913-58 Sjálvsmynd 1956 80x60 cm. olja Listasavn Føroya Tórshavn, Føroya by craniv boyd.


How threadbare your blue painting jacket looks, how stern you peer back at us with a sentient intensity. The red white and blue of your shirt seem soft chalky yet rough, jagged as the strokes that make up your face and study. Behind your short graying bob a halo of your own accomplishments a red apple is it? On the painted surface of a still life it floats hanging on the wall above your head like the apple from William Tell. A pewter grey jar for your brushes is next to your cheek your short hair obstructs our view of your painting instruments, they rest on a hasty dreamy bookshelf jammed to the brims with tomes on what? A visit to your home in Súðerøy now a museum could tell us if we compare you as you present yourself of 1956 to us now from then two years before you swam out into the Sub-arctic North Atlantic.


Have you heard of Cezanne? If I were your colleague when you were at a Danish art academy of 1930´s Copenhagen I would ask you due to your way of painting, and being curious about those women painters from the outlying colonies and territories of Denmark such as Greenland, the Danish West Indies, Iceland, or the Faroe Islands from whence you came. Why leave your remote and sleepy home to study painting and fine arts here at the point where the Baltic kisses the North Sea?


Your studio wall is having a hue that appears to be a true Naples's yellow. Did you know that Naples's yellow traditionally contains some lead white in it? If I were you I would be careful of my lead white or Naples's yellow usage, so as to avoid prolonged exposure and resulting lead poisoning. The walls in your studio as you have painted them appear to have some texture and history to them they breathe as do most of the expressive surfaces do in your painting. The expressive surfaces in your representation of the space I assume you paint in appear to have been painted quickly. The surroundings of your working environs are deemphasized they are cast in a supporting role of the drama that is the landscape of your visage.


What time of day? What kind of ambient light? What is the nature of the space you inhabit? And where exactly are you? What could you possibly be thinking while making this work? This oil you have made is evocative is its power derived from the mysterious tragedy that ensued. You look serious you serious gaze informs me that you are painting your self without a trace of irony, yes we can see you now Ruth Smith tight slight features of a mira fuerte, a Picasso of the north or a Cezanne who happened to be a mother too. Well more like a Plyath than a Picasso, more like a Chopin than a Mozart model, a melancholic whom blooms later rather than a child prodigy with supportive parent with moderate talent in the same field who pushes and coaches your Genius.


Your pale face is almost drawn in a grimace, there are notes of purple grey orange green and blue one eye of yours is with us now the other is of the dead obscured in shadow indistinct and undefined your lips are pursed so as to speak without words an unspeakable trauma. A stasis of features equilibrium of the planes that make a face the colors of the light striking your skin and the blood and tissue underneath it and the moods and soul you possessed when you painted your self for your self. There was no distant prince who needed to see if you were looking good enough to marry, by 1956 a photograph would have sufficed for sending a likeness, to paint and to take the time to do that in the portrait form, that with no immediate commercial value to paint a difficult painting of oneself so as to express some existentialist moment of acting as painter and acting sitter. To create so as to be in the procedure of art making and to show here I am now with you just painted and of the moment. Instead of to prove how I looked in 1956 two years prior my fateful swim. by craniv boyd