What’s the point ?

Asking this question in the context of doing art has  two meanings.

Ok, maybe it has more but right now I would like to concentrate on the two that are coming up readily to my mind,

One, is the simple visible point of focus around which the composition is built. In the art of painting, it can be a simple object that has an intrinsic balance that gives us a sense of beauty that pleases the eye.
A  rose, beautiful landscape, an interesting face, a general feeling of a place that can lead to some abstract forms or even a pattern that gives a sense of a meaning like the musical rhythm patterns of Kandinsky or the intricate abstract patterns of an Arabesque.
They all have a sense of a built-in reason for their own existence and require no further explanation.
In Chan Buddhism it is referred to as Tathatā. The inherent suchness of things.It is the seemingly mundane appearances of simple forms that given the right point of focus and right perspective, allow us a glimpse into the more elevated and perhaps a spiritual reality of everyday objects that surround us.
Some of the greatest Art is Tathata.Think of the eloquent line in the Turkish Bath by Ingres

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Turkish Bath

Or Bouquet Of Peonies by Eduard Manet

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Eduard Manet Bouquet Of Peonies

The exquisite rhythm of lines in a still life by Giorgio Morandi

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Still life by Giorgio Morandi

There are of course countless examples of great works of Art and  great artists troughout the history if Art  who knew intuitively what is Tathata and in many ways the art of painting could be viewed entirely from this focal point.
Many of the contemporary philosophies of Art that try to explain what art is get into superfluous explanations that miss the whole point of visual expression and the main reason why the human eye is craving to look at beauty.
Much can be said about muchness , Tathata and the God of the simple things revealed to anyone who can listen with their eyes but I will touch on this in another post related to the concept of the Pardes taken from Kabbala mystical way of life.

The second focal point , which i would like to touch and  in my opinion is the more important question in the realm of Art making, it is the why of the work of art. The raison d’être.
This can be of course a very tricky question in the sense that much of a good work of art is not done on a conscious level. It would be a very awkward process if an artist or for that reason any creative practitioner had to think about the deep hidden reasons of why they are drawn to express themselves in the that particular way and it would undoubtedly hinder the whole process of creativity.
There is of course countless attempts to explain what constitutes a work of art and why a certain work is a masterpiece while others are mediocre repetition of something trite. The verbiage of artsy talk has been a subject of many of the anecdotical  talks in post gallery visits in Woody Allen’s films that intuitively draws laughter from the audience. It makes us laugh, precisely because of the ridiculous pomposity of the words used only by the few initiates of the inner conclave of the world of Art.
What I would like to discuss here is something that is rarely thought in art schools in spite of much talking done in the famous crits of the more prestigious schools of art.
This point is the individual perspective that combines the particular with the universal. It is where according to Carl Gustav Jung , the archetypal world of our dreams converge with the specifics of our individuality, creating a unique patterns that constitute the creative dance of our life.
Putting it all back into an  individual perspective,in my own personal art, in the theme of the cafe I am trying to combine the specifics of observations of a given scene with some kind of unexpected element that has a deeper quality.
I is a specific state of mind that allows the subconscious, dreamy quality, to interlace with a more mysterious aspect of reality, usually hidden from a casual glance and requires a deeper, more dynamic and more contemplative looking.

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attentive listening

Cityscaping in Budapest

Citiscaping at Mechvart liget
Citiscaping at Mechvart liget

Summer is here and with it the opportunity to do some cityscaping.
One of the privileges of living in a beautiful city, I guess is the fact that the eye can feast in almost any direction it looks.
In the photo above, I have started a new composition yesterday in my neighbourhood of Rose Hill in Buda.
I must admit that I love the challenges of the cityscaping.
One is finding the right spot.
In my opinion, finding the right spot is more then just finding what pleases the eye. There is of course the obvious sight that draws attention of the eye. Then, there is the special angle that is not too conspicuous and is a little of the main flow of the pedestrian flow. Yesterday, I was lucky to find a balcony of a restaurant that is in renovation so I had plenty of shade and even got a chair from the renovation workers.I guess luck is also a very important element in life and it is truly so in finding the right spot for the right composition.
Roaming the streets, exploring the place one lives in, looking for points of interest that go beyond what meets the eye is a very enjoyable preliminary action that creates a nice workflow with initial sketches and first impressions.
In my case, since I am new to my neigbothood, this kind of search for the right spot has an additional value of getting to know the place where I live.
Second, is having the right gear.
Well, there is the obvious stuff like the portable easel, the paints and the materials but there are the less obvious stuff that many times can make a significant difference between a pleasant work session and a disturbed one in which you look for a paper towel to clean either your hand or a paint that was dropped and cannot be left on the pavement.
I mean, there is an absolute need to leave your place without a trace of your activity .
It is more then being considerate. In case of oil painting with all the hazardous materials of turpentine and paint thinning mediums, it is important to have a disposable trash plastic bag that will keep your used paper towels from being scattered all over by the wind. I was lucky yesterday cause I didn’t have a trash bag but there was no wind so my  used paper towels didn’t fly all over the place.
Since I am planning to make a video tutorial about the whole subject of landscape and cityscape painting, i will not go into details about it right now but just wanted to mention these obvious prerequisites .
The third challenge, in my opinion is the most important and it is a need for a  fair amount of tolerance for being distracted by the audience.
No matter how secluded is your spot, there will always be an audience. I mean,if your spot is not in the flow of the daily routine pedestrian traffic  most people will not notice you and go about their usual business.
Some people, take a peek and sometimes smile since a street painter is not a very common everyday sight.
Some people will stop by and will ask your permission to watch .I personally do not mind and usually agree. I know some artists become too self conscious and cannot work with an audience watching over their shoulder.
I guess , years of teaching have thought me to be able to concentrate on my work without feeling too self conscious.
Sometimes if you are open for it, there is a conversation that develops and sometimes it flows into a real interest either to see more of your work or even buy. In this case ,painting outdoors is a kind of promotion of your work. Once in while, though there is the one or two exceptional people who will start tell you their life stories or about their uncles, grandma, children, spouses paintings, seasoned with anecdotes of personal details. Personally, I have found that the best way to send them away is by simply ignoring them.
All in all, there is a need to develop a bit of exhibitionism in order to enjoy the outdoor painting. Without it, the whole experience can be an unpleasant encounter with a crowd that disturbs your creative flow.
Here is a video of the famous Spanish artist Antonio Lopez Garcia trying  desperately to disperse a crowd blocking his view on the Puerto Del Sol Square.
Of course one can always ask what is the motivation of an artist to paint outdoors in one of the busiest and most visited by tourists square in the world with full knowledge of the conditions.In  early spring, I had an opportunity to do some plain air watercolour sketching in the north of Hungary at the Balaton , Kaptalanfured area.

sketching at the lake
sketching at the lake

There is a nice complementary relationship that exists between the two modes of outdoor painting.
The plain air, landscape painting as an independent theme  exists from the early Romantics for whom Nature with all her glory was more then just an interesting subject matter. It was an anchor point to escape the stifling constrains of Neo Classicist era with the emphasis on moralistic , historical subject matter with greys and browns as the dominant colors.The beginning of the modern era had a need for a  fresh, new philosophy that today we would call ecologically conscious philosophy with the Noble Savage at it’s core.
Budapest is an amazing city for cityscaping and almost any location you choose, you can find many interesting angles from which to start a composition.
I am not referring of course to the obvious tourist postcard vistas like the Parliament house, the Chain Bridge or the Fishermen Bastion, even though, I am sure it is possible to escape the obvious postcard view with the right kind of orientation.
Here is an old painting where I have incorporated an element of the Chain Bridge and combined it with my ongoing theme of the cafe.

chain bridge cafe
chain bridge cafe

Precision 


yesterday after completing my first composition with the couple I moved on to the next table that came out to be much better with a more precise balance between the technique and the theme.
Actually, this is really what I am after when sketching outdoors. Especially with water colors. Since this medium requires a great deal of freedom in handling and a fairly high degree of profciency in balancing the different elements, it is therefore ideal for finding the right balancing point between the technique and the theme.
my first attempt today to find this balance was definetly not a good one so much that I do not feel like posting it here but the second one was so much better that I feel like can bragg a little.

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The opening of the exhibit in IF Cafe

 

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Last Saturday night was the opening of my show at the If cafe on Raday street in Budapest.
There was an impressive amount of people who came to share with me the event. Most of them are friends of Eva Kovacs , my life partner. I would like to use this opportunity to thank all of you dear friends for honouring me with your presence and contributing to the success of the evening.
This is also the place to thank Eva Kovacs for the hard work she has put into making this event possible. Without her dedication and hard work on all of the many aspects from framing the paintings ,tastefully curating the hanging of the art on the walls and paying carefully attention to all the minute details , the whole project would not be possible. Thank you my beloved.
The introduction by Jozsef Kereszturi was charming, spontaneous, tasteful and witty.
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The event included an attempt to broadcast live sketching of the amazing jazz trio band that included the fine musicians , Karoly Gaspar on piano, Barcsa Horvath Jozsef on contrabass, Laszlo Csizi on the drums and  Vinand Gabor vocals and sopran sax.
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Special thanks to each of you guys. Your music was not only full of charm but essential in giving the whole evening the special flavour and direction without which the whole evening would not have the magical presence. Thank you.And last but not the least, many thanks to Hofi ,his wife Juco
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and the great stuff of the If Cafe for opening their space for the opportunity to pull together all the different aspects, energies and dimensions allowing it all to happen.I must admit that in spite of the powerful presence provided by the Internet ,a real live opening in a gallery or in this case a cafe, is still a very potent happening that complements very nicely the every day presentation of the process of art making.here are some images from the opening night.

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Live broadcasting at the opening of my show

the poster for the exhibit in IF cafe
the poster for the exhibit in IF cafe

 

Finally, after six months in Budapest, I am opening a small but hopefully exiting show of my sketch works in one of the loveliest areas in Budapest. The place is called IF cafe and there is daily live Jazz music.Since I love accompany the music and the musicians gestures, most of the show is concentrated on those sketches done directly on the spot.
You are most welcome to join for the opening at 7:30 pm at IF cafe on Raday street 19, Budapest.

Jászai Mari ter

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Jaszai Mari ter

Finally , in the middle of May it has become warm enough for plain air painting. I know ,there are many plain air artists that have the guts and the know how to paint outdoors in the middle of the winter but for me the idea of freezing in the attempt to get an image is just not very appealing. Middle of May is good enough for me. The above is a watercolor painting done from a very nice square called Jászai Mary ter in the middle of Budapest. Like many places in this city, this square has a history and apparently right underneath the square during the ww2, the Germans built an underground bunker there. Now there is apparently a gallery there but I still haven’t visited there and maybe my next painting excursion I will find out .

Using GoPro camera to record myself sketching

sketching withflamencorhythm from josef on Vimeo.

 

I was one of the many disappointed geeks that were waiting for the Google Glass to appear on the market but apparently Google screwed up the whole concept and the criticism the product has received has killed the idea or so it seems. I still hope that in the future, some adjustment will be made to get this idea into reality, since I believe it is a product who’s time has come.
Meanwhile I have decided to use something that was really designed for extreme sports but I believe it has also a potential for being used as a tool for visual artists and teachers who want to show the process of their work.
I am talking about the GoPro camera that has conquered the world of the extreme sports and started to expand into other areas like performances of all kinds.
For some reason, it seems that the visual artists are a bit  slow to adopt the use of the latest technology for enhancement of their presentation.
Here is a video of myself sketching with a pen and ink in one of the many Budapest lovely cafes.
Thanks for watching and you are most welcome to leave a comment.

Spring in Budapest

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Waiting for the date or spring time in Budapest

 

Spring has finally arrived.The leaves have sprouted and almost immediately bloomed into the fresh yellowish green and together with garden flowers, the city has become vibrant and full of life.
At last I can sit outdoors and get a better view of the magnificent buildings facade some dating hundreds of years back in time.
Here is a man supposedly waiting for his date with a glass of red wine. But in reality it is an improvisation on something I have started yesterday and red wine belongs to someone else who sat at the completely different table.
The guy who is in the painting arrived about an hour ago and drank a pint of beer.Since yesterday he was with a lady who seemed to be his partner by the way she was kissing him I assumed that he is waiting for her.
This part of the creative process where I can add and invent stories that are suggested either visually or by the context
is something I enjoy tremendously. Sometimes there are all kinds of happy evidence and other times I can actually glimpse into dome kind of hidden aspect of reality that is totally intuitive.
A good example of this is the quick pen and ink sketch I did while being hospitalised few days ago.

angels
angels among us

There was an old guy who was attended by the nurse, and the dynamics of their interaction was very touching and moving. I finished the gesture drawing quickly and only few hors later decided to add wings to the nurse.
Next day the old guy has died. I was quite shocked cause he didn’t seem to be in such a dire condition.
What is amazing is how the intuition knows the future even if totally subconsciously.

Puncturing a hole in the matrix

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angels among us

 

Once in a while I find myself in a hospital.
A combination of bad genes, my natural laziness preventing me from exercising regularly , age, a pseudo bohemian lifestyle, all together and each separately, bring my bodily systems to such a condition that requires medical intervention.
Right now I am in Semmelweis University Hospital in Budapest awaiting gastroscopy.
I have few days to balance and prepare myself and meanwhile using the time to observe and sketch with pen and ink. It is my favourite technique for quick impression of a passing moment.It is also a very good exercise for the eye/hand coordination that captures a gesture concentrating on the essentials , leaving out the superfolous details.
Sometimes, this attitude of nonchalant quick doodling allows a glimpse into those fine extraordinary details that reveal some extraordinary connections between the outer form and it’s magical content.
Hospitals, are a meeting ground between heaven and hell, alternating frequently one with the other. Angels in form of nurses and doctors attending to suffering of the patients with different degrees of dedication, creating opportunities to puncture a hole in the matrix , revealing the tenderness of human fragility and at the same time the enduring the majestic beauty of it’s spirit.

Laci bacsi flirting as usual

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Laci bacsi

 

Back at Mai Mano cafe. After two weeks of absence, it feels good to come back.
Laci bassi is a very prominent regular figure in the cafe and is loved by all. He is ninety years old and commands respect in the way he is still preserving his joviality especially when he meets one of his many female admirers.
His face is full of expression and once in a while I try to catch him still enough for a quick sketch.
It’s almost an impossible mission cause he is full of motion and the face changes expressions rapidly.
Rather then being annoyed, I flow with what is given and sometimes I even succeed to catch a part of his likeness.