Sunday, March 29, 2009

New Painting: Wounded Pear

Wounded Pear, 2009, oil on canvas, 8 x 7 inches
Here it is, the second "finished" painting of 2009. Seems like I'm on a roll lately, becoming a bit anti social and making a routine of going to work in the mornings and coming home to paint at nights. "The Master of Nightlife," as my friend calls me, has handed his party throne, for the moment, to other young party boys making a mess out of the city. I'm more focused now, I need to paint more and push my work further. New ideas are being worked on, expanding my subjects are the main concern and at times I hesitate to try new things I think I'll handle the new ideas well. I'm also in the process of submitting my work to different shows in the city, and one in London. Wish me luck with London Calling, a competition I just submitted my work for review, juried by The TATE Modern's Vanessa DesClaux, Tom Morton of The Hayward Gallery, and Francesco Manacorda of The Barbican Gallery. I'll share more as in the days to come as I work on more paintings.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Staying Motivated

It has been an off night for me. After getting home from work I felt exhausted, bored, and slightly depressed. I shouldn't be tired since I had a good night sleep. Sometimes this happens after I finish a painting. I feel a bit lost and unuseful. I could keep working on the paintings I have in progress but I feel like they are boring me, or maybe they are not the right kind of work for this night since they are larger and more difficult.
I didn't want this night to go to waste, and so I forced myself to start a small painting of a single object. I chose a pear that was not perfect. I loved the scars and wounds. This is a different subject matter, just what I need to keep me working without feeling bored.

Funny thing is that this didn't do the trick. My mood is still the same, but at least I started a new little painting, and I can't really say that the night was a total waste.

Monday, March 23, 2009

The Next Level

Finish one, start a new one! I have begun work on a new, larger piece. This will be the largest painting of this series of still lifes I've been working on since 2005. The idea for this painting has been brewing since the summer of 2006, but never took the courage to start it. But the time feels right, I'm in constant search for a challenge and I know this is the one. Trying to cover a 20 x 24 inch panel is not going to be easy but I will take it slowly and not loose my patience.

Friday, March 20, 2009

New Painting: Garlic Olive Oil

Garlic Olive Oil, 2009, oil on canvas, 16 x 13 inches
I must be crazy but I've been working on this painting non stop. It has been effortless, I was just on a roll and did very little to stop myself. So much that I haven't gotten any sleep tonight. For the first time in years I've pulled an all nighter working on my art. Think I haven't done this since college! Oh boy am I going to feel hurt at work in a few hours. But it feels good, I completed the first painting of the year. I needed this since I've been having problems with the landscape I started at the end of last year. I'm afraid I'll be fighting with that one for a while. This still life came very natural, I didn't plan much, colors just seemed to flow right out. I have set myself some goals for this year in terms of my art and I'm working hard to accomplish them. So here's to a good start!

Thursday, March 19, 2009

My Diana F+

This made my day! On Monday I received an email from MoMA notifying me as the winner of the MoMA Monday Nights contest. I went to the museum the first monday night of Feb. to look at some art on the day when all museums and galleries are closed. As I walk in I'm offered to enter the contest just by singning up for their E-Newsletter. After looking at art that night, and getting my picture taken in front of a Rothko, the camera contest was forgotten.
So on Monday I'm the winner and on Wednesday I recieve the package containing the 2007 Diana F+, a copy of a popular 1960's camera. I haven't been this excited over anything for a long long time. I felt like a kid again, opening the box and pulling the context out from it.
For a photo junkie like myself, this was like winning the lottery. With the camera came a small clothe hard covered book explaining the history and usage of the Diana.
Immediately I was captured by the photographs in the book. These were all taken with this model and I just can't wait to take this out for a test shoot around the city.
I am not too informed on the camera, all I know is that there seems to be a cult following for it, which I wouldn't mind joining in. Heck, I did it with Moleskine, why not Diana? I can't wait to post some images taken with this camera, that's if I can figure out how to work it. In the mean time here are some images I took of the photos in the Diana book.

For more Diana visit the flickr group devoted to this camera's photography.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Recent Progress

I began work on this canvas a few months back, little did I know I was going to leave it untouched after the first layer of paint. This canvas has been hanging around in my studio for a while and a few weeks ago I started working on it again. I haven't committed myself much to this or other painting since my latest landscape will not leave me in peace. That's a whole other monster I don't want to get into. So as I apply some color to this still life I begin to notice that I'm not so happy with the positioning of the stuff on the table. There's too much dead space at the bottom and the only way to resolve the problem is to reconfigure things. I brought things down a bit hoping this would work.
I felt a little better about the change and forged ahead applying more color. I'm having fun working on this still life and by the looks of it, it seems like I will finish it sooner than expected.

Monday, March 16, 2009

A Good Morning Start

This is what I wake up to every morning. OK, well at least on my days off, and they are not mornings but more like early afternoons. I usually walk to my studio and look around and sit for a few minutes thinking of what I should start with first. It could be the landscape, or the portrait I've left aside for a few months, or the new still life hanging on the wall. It takes me a while to get started on something as I stare at my palette and brushes by the window.
Before I know it an hour or so goes by and my stomach starts growling. I think it's time for breakfast, or lunch, whatever one wishes to call it. I don't live on tomatoes and onions alone. Another thing I can live off are eggs and hot dogs. I like them separate or together, it depends on my mood. Today I wanted them together in a sandwich. Yes, I know, soooo weird. I've been told about how nasty this idea sounds, but let me say this, they don't know what they're missing! The idea is simple. Whisk a couple of eggs, slice one hot dog thinly, mix them together, add salt and pepper, and on this occasion I added some parsley for color and a different flavor.

After the mixture goes in the pan and cooks well on both sides this is what I get. One hell of a sandwich. This always does the trick and helps me get my day started in the studio. What would I be without food?

Sunday, March 15, 2009

This is Why?

It was part of everyday life, the routine of going to the market late mornings to buy the freshest groceries for that day's lunch and dinner. This is how I grew up, accompanying my mother to one of Lima's open air markets, Limonsillo, to help her carry bags of meats and vegetables. Soon as we got home you could hear pots, pans and wooden spoons moving and shaking on top of an old stove, all in a hurry to get everything ready for noon or one o'clock. The smell at first was always the same sweet aroma of onions, garlic, salt and pepper. This is the "base," as my mother calls it, for everything you want to cook. Not knowing, at a very young age, this is where my passion for food and art began.
I was always around watching, and sometimes I would get in the action by helping stir, or looking over the stove so that things don't burn. Everything was prepared from raw components. We had no microwave, or pre-packaged food, even the term "take out" does not exist in our vocabulary. How could it when you always had to pinch your pennies in order to survive and have enough money left for the week to put food on the table. In such cases you learn to cook out of necessity, and if you haven't yet, you will learn to like it. Mom was not always in the kitchen. There were days when "the men" got in the kitchen and served up the family their own delights. I remember, and this is still a tradition being practiced by my family in Connecticut, that after a nice long party on a Saturday night, men go into the kitchen on Sundays to prepare Ceviche. I've seen all my uncles and father do it. I'm assuming this is a way of giving mom a day off from hard work.
All these memories still live in me. They are also part of my present everytime I visit my folks. Many lessons learned from mom have had big impact in my life. I listened close to everything and it is now part of my identity. "Siempre ten tu tomatito, cebollita, tu ajito...", always have a little tomato, a little onion, a little garlic, she would say. This is what can be found in my kitchen, reason this is why I paint them. The subject of my still life paintings have been all about the onion and tomato, and many wonder why? Why not some apples or other fruit, why this? These two things are what I identify with, they're tradition, reflections of my life. So what I paint is not randomness, my onion and tomato still lifes are self portraits of different stages in my life.
The beauty about them, aside from their colors, is how necessary they are in other kinds of cooking. Again, using tomotoes, oinons, and garlic as a base I made Linguini with Vodka sauce tonight. Italian, Peruvian; this is the beauty about my little onions and tomatoes, they have the power to unite different cultures through the enjoyment of good food.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

The Armory Show 2009

Overall, the show is as deliriously overwhelming as ever, with the usual small percentage of memorable work scattered throughout the vast shopping mall of unremarkable crap
John Del Signore
I don't think I could have put it any better. The long awaited Armory Show 2009 took place last week without a hitch. 243 exhibitors from around the world put up their "best" work/artists like peacocks showing off their plumage on a matting call. This year's show was clouded with the topic in every one's head, the bad economy, and to no surprise it seemed like there were less buyers shopping for the latest "it" piece of art. At least I didn't hear anyone ask for prices as I have in past years.
Deitch Projects, NY (Ryan McGuinness's painting in the background)
After seeing so much meaningless stuff here and there finally I arrive at Deitch's booth, a space displaying Ryan McGuinness and Elizabeth Neil.
Elizabeth Neil, Sideshow, 2008, oil on canvas, 76 x 85 inches
During the summer Deich mounted a solo show of Neil's work, large canvases full of gestural energy, such as Sideshow, that captured my attention and to this day I keep thinking about them. Finding this painting at the Armory was a great treat.
Michael Stevenson, Capetown, showing Deborah Poynton
There was a lot of crap on display, and finding good art became a difficult task. Not only was it hard to find good art, but it was also hard to find good "bad art." In past years some "bad art" got a response out of me, enough for me to photograph and take note of it. But this year not even that was on hand. What happened here? Walking around like a lab mouse trying to get through a maze, I came across this large painting by Deborah Poynton. This horizontal canvas had a very commanding presence, with two uneasy figures in a messy interior which was to some extent intimidating.
Susanne Vielmetter, untitled, 2009, oil on panel, 28 x 37
Susanne's Vielmetter abstract landscape was perhaps one of the very few beautiful pieces in the show. What can I say? This painting had it all; color, light, mood, intensity, and above all, respect and sensitivity to the act of painting.
Mitch Epstein, Amos Coal Power Plant, Raymond, West Virginia, (from American Power), 2004, C-print, 70 x 92 inches
Welcome to America the Great, or at least that's how Mitch Epstein want you to think with a little sarcasm. Photography has a history of reporting and exposing the truth, a perfect medium for Epstein's point of view.
Tommy Hilding, Shelter, 2009, oil on linen, 50 x 75 cm, Gallerie Magnus Karlson, Stockholm
Tommy Hilding became one of my favorite painters at the Armory. Gallerie Magnus was very proud to showcase about four pieces from the artist, and I don't blame them. His use of color and touch is very unique and the scenes he paints are approached with a sense of loss and nostalgia.
Painting by Stef Driesen at Harris Lieberman, NY
Certainly, it was great to find this large abstract painting at Harris Lieberman's space. Most of the Armory was full with the usual neon installations, weird sculptures, and paintings that can no longer be classified as "painting." And here it was, hanging on a wall, mostly by itself, Driesen's piece was a nice reminder that good ol' fashion painting is still being produced.
If you've had enough, you may sit for a while at one of the hang out areas of the Armory Show.
Aida Makoto, Mt. Fuji Girl, 2008, lambda print, 120 x 186 cm, Mizuman Art Gallery, Tokyo, Beijin
Asia was very well represented at both the Armory show and Pulse. What I noticed about the Asian artists in the Armory is that they were more preoccupied with the freedom of sexuality. Most times it was the female figure being explored, exposed, and exploited.
Naoto Kawaham at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo and Kyoto

Joseph Kosuth, #36 On Color (Yellow), 1991, 5 x 111 inches, neon, Galleria Lia Rumma, Milan, Naples.
And here we are kids, the fun light hearted one punch lines we now call "art." Neon, neon and more neon...makes me wonder when is it going to end? Haven't we had enough of these cutesy "I'm a revel bad ass" crap?
Sylvie Fleury, High Heels on the Moon, 2005, neon and 3 transformers, 130 x 220 cm, Catriona Jeffries Gallery, Vancouver

Stefan Druggemann, Make Me See, 2009, neon, spray paint, Sies & Hoke, Dusseldorf
As you can see above, a real badass. So much that neon wasn't enough insult to the institution of art, but the artist needed to add more to his statement by vandalizing his own art with spray paint. Yeah man, go get them Mr. badass!
Gering & Lopez Gallery, NY

Pat Steir, Black and Gold, 2009, oil on canvas, 84 x 84 inches, Cheim & Read, NY
Now back to the real thing. Sometimes it makes me wonder what Pat Steir thinks of her work hanging right around the corner from neon and bling bling?
Tommy Hilding, The Day After, 2009, oil on linen, 23.6 x 31.5 inches, Angles Gallery, Santa Monica
As I rush out of Pier 94 with the intercom system politely announcing that all visitors need to leave the premises because the 2009 Armory Show has now come to a close, I run right into Tommy Hilding again. With a sigh of relief I stop and look, and tell myself that good painting is still out there, and that there are those with great talent pushing and demanding that the noble act of painting not to be forgotten.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Oops I Did it Again!

I was not supposed to do this again, at least not for a while, but I was weak and slipped. Why would I decide to kill time and wait for a friend at Strand when I know I'm weak to its charms, I don't know? But that's what I did and ended leaving the place close to two hours later with a bag full of books. But this was a good purchase, as I always tell myself. I'm being more wise about my shopping, most of the books I buy are small and most of the time they run at $10 or less. I found some great exhibition catalogs for $3.50, you can't beat that. What was great about this purchase is that I found three new artists which I've now become a fan of; Axel Geis, David Kapp, and Salvador Tuset Tuset. All great painters and all are great inspirations. A catalog of Stuart Shills' 2008 exhibit was there as well, a show I missed and was very happy to at least see the work in reproductions. Another book I was happy to find, in hardback I must add, is Brunelleschi's Dome by Ross King. Been trying to find it in hardback but it seems that paperback is the only way is sold now. Two other books include Matisse Father & Son by John Russell and The Art in Painting by Albert C. Barnes. Oh boy when am I going to get through all these books?

Monday, March 09, 2009

Pulse New York 2009

Jim Lee at Freight Volume, NY
PULSE Contemporary Art Fair opened last Thursday, March 5 at Pier 40 on the west side of art city, Manhattan. As most of the fairs taking place at the same time, this massive exhibition of 101 national and international galleries required a lot of attention, energy, time, and most times patience.
In the Wrong Place by Markus Linnenbrink at FTC, Berlin, Germany
So how does one get through such shows which do nothing but bombard visitors with all kinds of physical and emotional stimuli? It's easy, just walk and be honest about what you see and feel. If we were to put it in simple terms this is what someone should think as they browse the endless rows of art: "crap, crap, crap, ugh more crap...ooh I like that, wow that's great, what?, are they for real?, omg I think I'm in love!"
How Many? by Teresa Diehl, 2009, glycerine figurines and stainless steel, Galerie Anita Beckers Frankfurt, Germany
At least this is how I approach such large exhibits. I know what I like and can spot the good stuff from afar and when I do I take my time and just look at it until I can't look no more. Most times painting is what pulls me in. Is exciting to find new contemporary painters who are still keeping the tradition of painting alive through their contemporary subjects, ideas, and approaches.
Bianca Regl at Lukas Feichtner Gallery, Vienna, Austria
Solo Walk by Michael Kvium, 2208, oil on canvas, 30 x 40 cm. Faurschou, Copenhagen, Denmark and Beijin China
Natural View by Michael Kvium, 2008, oil on canvas, 120 x 120 cm. Faurschou, Copenhagen, Denmark and Beijin, China
Electronic Village, triptych by Karine Giboulo, 2008, mixed media, Galerie SAS, Montreal, Canada
I may be a hardcore painter but I don't deny my attention to other media. Installations of various types do raise my interest, and I recognize the artist's good efforts and taste.
Electronic Village, triptych (detail) by Karine Giboulo, 2008, mixed media, Galerie SAS, Montreal, Canada
Table Burned by Wei-Li Yeh, 2006, ink jet on canvas, water based ink surface treatment, polyurethane and oil based stains
Eckart Hahn at Pablo's Birthday Gallery, NY
Sometimes I may find some things offensive, but if the presentation of the piece is done right, if you see the artist's care for their art, then I give my respect to them and their art. Such as Eckart Hahn's installation of burning crosses and the funny icross.
One of the most interesting pieces I did get to see was Mirrors Mirros by Daniel Rozin, represented by Bilforms Gallery, NY. This moving sculpture was made up to small mirror squares that had been attached to a computerized frame which moved according to the viewer's body movement.
Counterchange III by Stefan Annerel, 2008, acrylic, tape, glass and resin on board, 22.8 x 18.7 inches, Kusseneers Gallery, Antwert, Belgium
I like it when artists find ways of challenging the idea of what is a painting? For many years painting required paint of some sort, but now it seems you can create a painting without using much paint. I think Stefan Annerel is a good example of this, with his multi layered creation of transparency and color.
Reception by Vadis Turner at Lyons Wier Ortt Gallery, NY
There was something for everyone in this fair, even something for those with a sweet tooth!
Untitled (Cannon Balls) by Aleksander Duravcevic, 2007, mirrors and glass, Stefan Roepke Gallery, Cologne, Germany
Playhouse II by Dietrich Wagner, 2006, poly-fil, steel, rope, wood, 96 x 96 x 96 inches, Carrie Secrist Gallery, Chicago, IL
Untitled by Kim Dorland, 2008, oil on panel, 60 x 48 inches, Angell Gallery, Toronto, Canada
And there is always something which always leaves you wondering about what is it that you're seeing. The worst is if you can't make up your mind whether you like it or not? This was the case with Kim Dorland's work, a mixture of good color and crude paint application.
Martin Golland at Birch Libralato, Toronto, Canada
For more images of Pulse NY please visit my flickr set here.