At ArtBomb, we truly believe that art makes life better. ArtBomb wants you to transform your spaces and fill your white walls with original works of art.
I love art that is BIG, MESSY, chaotic but that has something that pulls it all together into a greater whole. This something is elusive and abstract expressionists spend eons trying to pin it down, define it and to master that je ne sais quoi. What is it that makes one set up brilliant and another look like a random and unfortunate accident in an artistic parcours? We intellectualise with concepts like composition, contrast, value, color theory etc… but in the end the something that makes it work is ethereal. The painting has soul or the painting moves the viewer. These are the thoughts that I entertain as I look at the work of today’s artists that inspire me; Robert Burridge, Nancy Hillis, Mary Ann Wakely, Wendy MacWilliams, Anne Laure Djaballah, Charlotte Faust, Robert Kingston and others.
These artists are BIG, they are MESSY, their work is all over the place. It’s exciting!!!! But it is not n’importe quoi, anything goes. I look at their work and think I should have painted that. It’s just so obviously right. Why didn’t I paint that? I am the first one to be fooled into forgetting that it’s damn hard to make beautiful (de)compositions like those. Hours can be spent deliberately trying to be nondeliberate, orchestrating spontaneity, and chasing freedom of expression. The whole endeavour is an oxymoron. There is passion in the doing but there is tension also. The thrill of inspiration in midflight can abruptly nosedive when that élan that should turn a good painting into a WOW painting ruins it instead. The damn-ugly-artwork was so close to being awesome. Let’s go, Gesso!
The opposite is also true when there is a synergy between me and the painting. In my studio, this happens when I follow the painting instead of leading it. When I allow it to unfold, I feel like the painting is calling out for something,calmly inviting me to intervene in a certain way. If I look, wait, listen to it, I will know. It’s about being with it. These ideas are not new to me – they bring me back to these words that I use when training psychotherapists…Trust the process. Trust yourself. You are the tool and the technique. Painting is quite similar in that way, It will only feel right if I do it through myself as the principal medium. I can’t be Robert or Nancy or Wendy and I will get lost if I go that route. It’s ok to be inspired but straying away from my own ground will result in ok paintings but ones that don’t have that something. The something that gathers and makes complete. I suspect that somethingis the felt sense of coherence that comes from being truly oneself through the painting. And then there is the matter of wild abandon…..
Anne is a painter a psychologist and an Associate Professor at the University of Ottawa. Her paintings can be found in multiple private collections throughout Canada and the US. Anne`s work will be feautured on Artbomb next week and in September. You can also find more of her available artwork on our available page. http://www.artbombdaily.com/archive/artwork/available
Five of My Favourite Movies About Artists
Take some time off from watching TV series and immerse yourself in art! There are literally hundreds of documentaries, biopics, and imaginative cinema on the subject. Here is a completely subjective selection of my favourites.
Girl With a Pearl Earring (2003)
Of course you’ve seen it already, but well worth watching again. This subtle, sensual Peter Webber film is really just a shrine to the goddess Scarlett Johansson, but it gave me an appreciation for the paintings and world of Johannes Vermeer that I didn’t have before seeing it. The premise, from the same-titled book by Tracy Chevalier, is plausible but completely speculative- we know almost nothing of the Dutch artist’s life. Johansson plays the girl with the pearl earring, a housemaid who faces ruin because of the scandal of posing as an artist’s model, and the subject of one of Vermeer’s most iconic artworks.
I Shot Andy Warhol (1996)
Mary Harron’s I Shot Andy Warhol imagines the life of Valerie Solanas, the woman who wrote the “feminist classic” SCUM Manifesto, which is really a terrorist document of toxic vitriol that calls for the humiliation and eradication of men. Solanas eventually lived her ideology and shot that most oppressive patriarch, the effete artist Andy Warhol. If I made this film, I would have been a lot less sympathetic to the killer- my feminism means equality, and women who are violent and hate-filled and shoot to kill are just as heinous as men who do so. I also would have tried to make my movie easier to follow. But I too would have chosen Lili Taylor, a brilliant, underrated actress who makes this curious mess into something riveting.
Radiant Child (2010)
Forget about Julian Schnabel’s 1996 Basquiat, even though David Bowie plays Warhol and Jeffrey Wright is great as the tragic New York street artist. It is too predictably hagiographic, and in trying so hard to be epic, it manages to be as boring as Schnabel’s ego. Radiant Child, the documentary by Tamra Davis, is also a little guilty of saint-making- the whole Jean-Michel Basquiat industry has been embarrassing in this regard, missing the mark entirely in its efforts to be sympathetic to a complicated and broken man. But this doc does a lot more to get to the heart of the art and the truth than anything else on the subject, with actual, fascinating footage and interviews with people who knew the painter personally.
West Wind: the Vision of Tom Thomson (2011)
This is a stunning film, one of the most beautiful documentaries ever made. It matters not whether you are a new or a long-term fan of Canadian art, Tom Thomson, the Group of Seven, or the Canadian north. Peter Raymont and Michèle Hozer take you there, by canoe, right into the source of the deep quiet and profound beauty the artist captured. For folks like me who are not cut out for wilderness camping, this is an extraordinary opportunity to experience the Algonquin, and to see it through an artist’s eyes.
In the Realms of the Unreal (2004)
Jessica Yu brings to vivid life the intriguing story of Henry Darger. The friendless janitor lived completely invisible, seen only at the hospital he cleaned every day and at mass. No one knew a thing about his vivid interior world until he died, and the landlords took to dismantling the hoarding they found in the room he lived in most of his life. It is speculated that Darger was a closeted gay person, a child molester, and even a murderer, based on the disturbing and obsessive nature of the artwork and writings discovered after his death. He wrote and illustrated epic good- and-evil novels that were tens of thousands of pages long! Given what little is factually known of the artist’s history, it is most likely that he was just a simple and reclusive man damaged by childhood loss of parents, abject poverty, and abuse he experienced, witnessed, and eventually escaped in orphanages. He possessed no intellectual powers but a huge imagination, and he illustrated all the violent fears that danced through his mind. An unforgettable story, and beautifully filmed.
Lorette C. Luzajic
Lorette C. Luzajic is a writer and an artist. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.
As July heats up, art lovers everywhere often prioritize a trip to the museum or other art-related activities as part of our most treasured summer experiences.
There are always abundant options for fairs and festivals going on, whether you are on vacation or staycation. Get to know some of the region’s artists by attending events in the area.
And don’t just look- buy something! Your impulse is trying to tell you something. Say no to mass produced décor from Homesense and take home a true original. Start a collection of small works without wondering where you’ll put them- you’ll find creative ways to showcase your treasures. You can prop them against a bookshelf or create an eclectic jumble display with other mementoes in the front hall. If you love art, live with it!
Perhaps you’ve never participated in an Art Bomb auction. Make it a summer resolution to bid on some works you love and start or grow your collection of art. Art Bomb is an important initiative because it curates a wide selection of Canadian creativity and helps showcase us beyond the confines of local traffic. Our work is exposed cross-country and internationally.
Today we chat with Maggie Screaton, a collector who has regularly acquired pieces through Art Bomb’s daily auctions.
Lorette for Art Bomb: Tell me a little bit about the pieces you’ve selected from Art Bomb.
Maggie Screaton: I’ve bought five pieces from Art Bomb. Mostly smaller works- some amazing acrylics on canvas and one incredible photography. For some reason, I gravitate to the pieces that are like snippets of a bigger story. There’s a beginning and an ending in there somewhere but you can’t quite figure it out. The not knowing is kind of fun.
Lorette: What is your impression of Art Bomb? What do you like about this service, and how does that contrast with other resources you have collected through?
Maggie: I love that Art Bomb encourages you to interact with artists you might never come across. And I also like that I can kind of mull over any purchase a b it. I’ve bought works at shows and art fairs and there’s always this pressure to make an immediate decision. You can do that with some pieces, because you just have to have them. But sometimes it’s nice to be able to really check out a work before deciding to bid. And of course, it’s always fun when you win the auction. Art Bomb is great if you’re even the slightest bit competitive.
Lorette: What are the benefits, in your opinion, of Art Bomb for artists and collectors? Any drawbacks?
Maggie: The benefits can be huge. Art Bomb connects artists and buyers in a really convenient, hassle free way. I get amazing art by new and established Canadian artists in my email box every day and artists get their work viewed by a Canada-wide audience of proven buyers. It’s kind of a no-brainer.
Lorette C. Luzajic is an Art Bomb artist working in mixed media like acrylic, gouache, spray paint, collage, and photography. She is also a poet and the editor of The Ekphrastic Review. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.
Five Other Canadian Artists You Should Know
Over the weekend, we celebrated Canada Day and my mind turned to a recurring train of thought- Canadian art.
Like thousands of others, I visited the opening of Steve Martin’s Lawren Harris exhibition opening at the Art Gallery of Ontario. Steve Martin is a longtime art collector, and his motivation for curating this project is wonderfully simple- he wanted to take Lawren Harris outside of Canada and show him off, and he knew his celebrity would bring attention to that cause.
It’s a very significant event because it marks a shift in art history. Canada’s rich and varied artistic heritage has been underrated and too often unnoticed. While some find this depressing, I find it very exciting that Canada’s creative pinnacle lies ahead. This major event, which showed on both coasts of America before landing here at home, is just the beginning. Our past icons will be given new life and recognition, and the fact that contemporary talent has hardly been acknowledged only means that our spotlight lies ahead.
Ours is a young culture, one that is still being created. We do not have thousands of years of a certain legacy; rather, we are a world of cultures coming together with ancient native history and seeking through art a celebration of differences and a resolution of conflicts, reflecting our divergent and shared histories and our perspective towards our country and the world in a dazzling variety of ways. The best is yet to come.
To celebrate Canadian art, here are 5 artists you should know. It is an arbitrary selection of personal interest drawn out of a hat from hundreds worthy of listing. My hope is that you will nod at a favourite, explore unfamiliar names, and be led through and beyond to many more.
Benjamin Chee Chee
There are many tragic stories among the lives of artists. I suspect this is how it is among anyone, but those in creative professions wear their personal lives on their sleeve, in public view.
Benjamin Chee Chee was a northern Ontario Ojibway artist. It was not his semi-orphaned life, his substance abuse, or his violent temper that set him apart- it was the fact that his work did not show this tempest: Chee Chee’s sparse, distinctive imagery manifest absolute serenity and elegance.
In light of the artist’s prison suicide in 1977, they are especially heartbreaking. He was 32.
Everyone knows about the Group of Seven, but there was also the Painters Eleven. These were avant-garde, edgy, colourful folks discontented to keep on painting landscapes when modernism meant the world had moved into deconstruction, expressionism, and abstraction.
William Ronald was one of the eleven, and he happened too soon- his antics are fading into the mists of history when they are meant for Instagram and Twitter. He liked to dress in head to toe pink suits, or come to an art show flanked with strippers on each arm.
He painted massive sprawling and jumbled abstracts, but perhaps his quintessentially Canadian contribution was a series of outlandish portraits of 18 prime ministers. Pierre Trudeau was the guest of honour at the opening party.
When Toller was a child, he wanted to be a ballerina.
He was given hockey skates to make a man out of the boy. So he began dancing the ballet on blades, and skated on to become the Nijinsky of figure skating.
Indeed, Cranston is best known for winning the Canadian figure skating championships six years in a row, as well as a World and an Olympic bronze. But his most remarkable accomplishments took place after he retired somewhat reclusively to Mexico. There, he created some thirty thousand paintings.
It is impossible to compare his works to someone else or even to describe them: they are ornate, lavish, mythical, magical works evocative of fairy tales or world legends. They somehow summon Russian Orthodox and native Mexican at the same time. There has been relatively little recognition of this fascinating other life, but I predict it will resurface one day, resplendent, and Cranston will be considered as an important Canadian artist.
Doris McCarthy is the famous Canadian artist of whom nobody has ever heard.
She has been recognized, exhibited, written about, and honoured, and yet is not a household word.
She passed away in 2010, after living exactly one century. She painted continuously, alongside teaching for forty of those years. McCarthy studied with the Group of Seven members and her landscape style reflects a stylistic kinship, but she never made it into the boys’ club. In truth, she out-painted some of them by a long shot, leaving the confines of the Canadian outdoors as a subject and travelling to Japan, India, Costa Rica, Spain, India, Ireland and the Arctic to paint what she saw.
William Kurelek’s work traverses a path from whimsical to terrifying and Bosch-like without warning. His work is illustrative and detailed, but on an epic scale, showing everyday Canadian life from coast to coast.
There is something so sweet it’s barely tolerable in his idyllic tableaus of childhood in the snow or campfires under the stars, and yet the distinctive aesthetic and underlying angst are utterly compelling.
Kurelek’s life was a topsy turvy battle with depression, but his conversion to Catholic Christianity brought him tremendous healing and a philosophical paradigm that made sense out of his sorrow over man’s heart of darkness.
There are lots of kid’s books illustrated on the market, but the best way to appreciate Kurelek is in person at various Canadian galleries. Perhaps something is always lost in translation from canvas to print, but it’s especially true in his case. There is a very subtle quality in his work that I can’t express except to say, go and see them. Some of his works show at the AGO.
Lorette C. Luzajic
Lorette C. Luzajic is a writer and an artist working in mixed media collage, abstraction, and photography. Visit her at www.mixedupmedia.ca.