I was offered an exhibit in my favorite cafe MaiMano at the heart of Budapest.
The date is not set yet but I am thinking about the beginning of June as a good time when the temperatures are very pleasant and there is a constant flow of people including many tourists.
The exhibit will include mainly my watercolor sketches done in this lovely cafe, which is in my opinion a very appropriate setting for them.
I am still didn’t give up on the hope to find a decent gallery somewhere in Europe but meanwhile with every passing day I can feel how my desire to deal with the hustle of working trough intermediary is diminishing quit e significantly.
Ever since the Internet , the idea of having a gallery which in best case has about two weeks in two years to show your work is totally out of sync with the current reality in which you can showcase your work on a daily basis which I actually doing. For me doing art is before anything else is a process in which the creative flow is not limited to studio work but has a much wider significance in quick response to many life situations.
On my daily rout one for example, going into the city by tram, I meet people in this limbo situation between station between stations, most staring vacantly into the space absorbed with their inner thoughts, in different body positions. Being able to make quick sketches with an iPhone app is a great advantage that besides sharpening my observation of the essentials of the body movements and perfecting my ability to register in a glance the essence of a gesture is also at the same time gives me some insights into inner state of people observed.
People in a state of suspension, will be probably the topic of my next exhibition.
Yesterday, I have come back to my usual watercolor sketching in the cafe after some time spending with digital experimentation with a new iPad Pro. Together with the apple pen, they give a very nice feeling of a decent approximation of a real sketching.
As I have written before
, digital art is not a replacement of the real thing but it has some advantages to ordinary painting and sketching by adding some dimensions which real life painting still cannot do. Working with separated layers, allowing mixing different feels like water color effects together with oil like smears. Working with light instead of the additive process of mixing pigments on a canvass adds a deeper understanding of luminosity and chroma.
Changing backgrounds is a breeze with digital medium which is another great advantage in creating scenes that are not limited to what is given in front of the eyes.
Another and perhaps the biggest advantage of digital creations is the deepening of the understanding of the power of the image. Because of the ephemeral nature of the medium it has no real substance out side of the computer screen and that makes the reality of the image much more pronounced.
This issue of reality of the digital image deserves a whole post to itself so I will not go deeper into right now.
For now all wanted really is to announce the news about the upcoming exhibit of my cafe sketches to be held at MaiMano cafe in the heart of Budapest.
Digital sketching keeps captivating my attention.
Recently I have discovered this wonderful easy to use application for iPhone called Procreate which so far is the best app that allows for very quick doodling in a very simple and easy way.
The public transportation in Budapest is very efficient and convenient and even on occasions when its very crowded it is still comfortable enough to steal few glances without drawing any attention. This is actually a very important key element in doing these sketches. I found that people usually do not like to be observed and if they catch you looking at them, they usually change their position or can move away, annoyed.
There are about five station from my home in Buda to the centre of the city which I visit quite frequently and it is a great opportunity for some quick sketches on my smart phone.
Here are some recent quick sketches of people between the stations.
These are gesture drawings that leave no room for details so it’s an excellent way to practice capturing the essence of the movement.
I have started the practice of quick digital sketches almost from the very beginning of the appearance of the smart phones and with time I feel more and more comfortable with the medium. Here are some ideas on the use of digital media as opposed to “real” painting.
Inspiration plays an important role in re- enchatment of the Arts.
In writing this post, I am using few presupposed and self evident truths about the current state of the Arts.
One, is the need for re-enchantment of the Art.
I have taken this term from Suzi Gablik’sbook by the same name where she criticises some of the basic tenets of the Modernist movement that led directly to much of the confusion left by the Postmodernism. Part of this confusion left the artist without a philosophical background needed to establish a basis for relevant correspondences between the personal and the universal principles of creation. At the same time this lack of philosophical support opened a gap in communication between the artist and his audience.
Second, is the need for Inspiration as vital source of revitalization of the current confused condition of the Art. The extreme relativism of the late Post-modernism has left a scorched field where the traditional values of excellence have been replaced by purely personal, anecdotal and many times accidental views that left the Art without it’s Muse .
Inspiration according to full definition of Merriam- Webster dictionary is: “a divine influence or action on a person believed to qualify him or her to receive and communicate sacred revelation “In other words, an inspired person is one who is touched by his Spirit. That sacred part of his being that communicated the feeling of the Devine.This kind of definition tends toward somewhat religious interpretation which I believe tend to distort the real meaning of Inspiration as a direct heart felt feeling that is totally natural to all of humankind and not only to artists.
I have many sources of Inspiration.
Some come from my daily observations of life around me. Be it an interesting form of simple objects that can turn into a still-life drawing,like this Moroccan tea pot done with silverpoint technique.
In the beginning of my artistic development I was enchanted by the magic of Jan Vermeer’s intimate interiors with their delicate balance of composition and the luminosity of his colors.
Here is a composition that was influenced by the Vermeer’s Young Woman with a Water Pitcher
Another great influence on my development as an artist is a more contemporary American Andrew Wyeth who’s hunting and mystical connection with landscapes of rural Maine and Pennsylvania resonates strongly with my own view of Nature. Wyeth’s choice of the tempera medium which requires contemplation and slow visual meditation on the subject matter, invites from the viewer equally slow contemplative viewing. In today’s hasty world it is in itself a huge accomplishment.
With time, my themes have varied and mutated according to context, time and places I have found myself.
At certain point I have found that many of my themes tend to converge into one recurring theme that has accompanied my creative work and that is the theme of the cafe.
I have found that besides a great opportunity to exercise my powers of observation, this theme of the cafe, allows me to combine all other themes in a very simple, elegant way where the spontaneous interaction of all the forms untie to create a unified and sometimes totally unexpected message.
The theme of the cafe is enough in itself and need no other justifications for painting it but as it happens, it has the power to combine a wide variety of objects and themes that seamlessly fuse into each other allowing the mundane everyday objects to interact and create a whole new possibilities for flowing in different artistic directions.
Let’s say, a couple sitting around a table, with a dog playing at their feet, with some messy still-life on the table, with cups of coffee and perhaps some food, in the background. I can paste any landscape or cityscape that doesn’t even have to be in the original composition. This way I can eliminate accidental architecture or replace any other object that feels more meaningful and more appropriate for the final purpose .
In this age of photoshop aid with the cut and paste ability, I can substitute any and all of the components to create a more meaningful and more interesting composition then the original conception.
All these themes and objects, appearing in the context of a cycle of creativity that is inspired by a wheel of The Five Elements taken from the Chinese Wu Xing theory.
On this wheel of creativity taken from the Chinese philosophy of Dao i will write later in a different post
Once in a while I tend to experiment with digital medium.
I find it especially useful on the go for some quick visual notations that keep me alert for the beauty of the ordinary forms that surround us.
I mean, it is not always very practical to pull out your watercolor gear when waiting for a bus or in line in post office. True, I could pull out my sketchbook which is always ready in my bag pack and do some quick pencil sketches but I find that the wide range of options allowed by the digital applications that can be used with any smartphone today is truly exiting and besides, is a great fun.
Interestingly enough, the advent of the touch screens and the use of the fingers to smear directly on the painting surface has brought back that wonderful feeling from childhood when we were allowed to smear our paint with abandon without worrying about results. At least for those of us who were lucky enough to be allowed or even encouraged by the adults in charge which many times was exactly the opposite.
Of course, there is a big difference in the tactile feel when smearing real paint onto a paper or a canvass but there are definite advantages in messing around with digital paint and still keeping our hands and clothes clean.
As far as I am aware, the artificial controversy around the digital versus real painting is almost over but frankly I do not follow it very closely. I believe this debate is somewhat misplaced in that it is a superficial dichotomy between the “real” and the virtual.
Personally, I rely on the Buddhist world view that makes no distinction between the two and view all reality as a virtual construct flowing from the projections of Mind.
I know that some of my colleague artists, of my generation, still have a great disdain towards anything that is digital and virtual.
Anything that requires a different look at the very concept of what is art, how it is made and what is the role of art in the new digital age which is upon us, makes them feel uncomfortable and defensive about the traditional ways of making art.
There is nothing wrong of course in the traditional, classical mediums of expressions but it is becoming increasingly difficult to ignore the implications of the fact that our cultural context has moved into an era where the medium has become the message with all it’s implications.
The medium is the message.
It is not my intent here in this short post to go into lengthly explanations of this term coined by Marshall McLuhan but I do think that it is worth exploring his ideas about the role of the
artist in the new digital culture we all live in.
In Robert K. Logan’s book on Marshall McLuhan’s immense contribution to our understanding of our day digital culture, there is a chapter about the way McLuhan saw the role of the artist in our society.Here is a quote from that book:
“ Whereas the ordinary person seeks security by numbing his perceptions against the impact of new experience, the artist delights in this novelty and instinctively creates situations that both reveal it and compensate for it.
The artist studies the distortion of sensory life produced by the new environmental programming and tends to create artistic situations that correct the sensory bias and derangement brought about by the new form.
In social terms the artist can be regarded as a navigator who gives adequate compass bearings in spite of magnetic deflection of the needle by the changing play of forces.
So understood, the artist is not a peddler of ideas or lofty experiences. He is rather the indispensable aid to action and reflection alike.”
My interpretation of this statement is that most serious artists in all times have always took advantage of the changing environment with introduction of new technology.
I am sure there were many artists who didn’t embrace the new medium of oil painting at the time and in fact there was a transitional period between medieval tempera technique into the new medium of oil painting.
I can personally envision a time in not too distant future where artists will be using three dimensional screens like the ones in Steven Spielberg’s film, “ Minority Report “ where Tom Cruise is shifting trough vast amount of data moving three dimensional screens with hand gestures.
As much of the science fiction anticipates future scientific developments so is the technology that was used in this film is apparently is already available and in use in some specific industries.
Imagine an artist in his studio standing in front of these kind of virtual canvasses using unlimited virtual color pallets based on frequencies of light instead of muddy pigments with creating shimmering images of beauty that radiate light from inside adjusting themselves to the different light conditions, independent of outside light source.
I know that many artists will understandably argue here that nothing can replace the “real” feel of “ real” paint as it is mixed on the palette and applied with “ real” brushes.
I believe this argument is based on lack of information and imagination as to the ability of the technology to supplement the touch and feel of our tactile senses.
Again, this technology is already here in early development stages but as we already know, the pace of advancement of this kind of research is usually surpasses the ability of most people to comprehend the incredible speed with which the results of the research roll out of the lab into the everyday use. Remember the shock of unveiling of the iPhone touch screen by Steve Jobs?
To counter this shock and disorientation caused by the new technologies is precisely where the McLuhan’s teachings can be very helpful for the artists in transition to creating in the Global Village. Given the fact that most of McLuhan;s concepts are presented in a non linear jazz like fashion it is not an easy task to decipher the meaning from his revolutionary ideas some of which quite prophetic in anticipating the age where most people on Earth will be connected everywhere, all the time.
The many implications resulting from such a condition can be quite disturbing for many artists that are still cling to by now obsolete world view in which making art is still tied up with clear distinction between the figure and the ground.
Since we live now in the age of total connectivity and instant communication, this kind of separation and clear cut division is obviously not possible anymore and there is a great advantage for artists that can make this shift in consciousness to include both figure and ground in the context of making art that is more then just repetition of the past ideas and visions.
To quote McLuhan once more :
“Art at it’s most significant is a Distant Early Warning System that can always be relied on to tell the old culture what is beginning to happen to it. (McLuhan 1969)
The serious artist is the only person able to encounter technology with impunity, just because he is an expert aware of the changes in sense perception. (mcLuhan 1964,33)”
Looking from a bird’s eye view over the procession of many art forms of the past, it is obvious that Art is tied up with the culture and the norms of the time creating the different mannerisms which we later call the history of art. At the same time we can see just how non linear this progression is.
The cave art of Altamira is not that different in style and eloquence of expression from that of Matisse in spite of being separated in time by some eighteen thousand years .
This mean that our sense perceptions do not change so much in time in spite of a constant expansion of consciousness and this is what I believe that McLuhan has meant when describing the artist as an agent of and early warning system who’s understanding of the World is acquired trough sense perceptions that are at the same time are concepts no less reliable then that of a scientist or a philosopher.
In conclusion, I would like to say that I hope that traditional techniques of doing art will always persist along with the newer experimentations of digital and virtual art emphasizing the importance of inspiration and creativity over trite and banality.
In this age of great cynicism in the Arts with money replacing artistic value, it is important to articulate the new paradigms that would provide the basis for true appreciation of the Arts allowing artists to extract themselves from marginalization and exploitation by culture gone mad with greed.
I have been doing commission art for many years now and it has always been a concern of mine wether it has the same validity as the art that is done with an artists free will .
Today’s post is about the difference between working on your own free concepts as opposed to doing a commissioned work.
The whole concept of working without a commission as a free agent I think is relatively a very new thing and historically,art was created mainly in a context of some sort of a commission. Think of all the great work of the masters of the past. The Night Watch by Rembrandt,
The Sistine Chapel by Michelangelo,
or The Last Supper by Leonardo Da Vinci..
There is of course numerous other great examples with all their great stories of saintly patrons, greedy artists and the history of the commissioned works that withstood the ravages of time.
No doubt, independent works of art have appeared from the earliest of times and were always part of many artists free expressions but it was not until the Romanticist period that the arts gained full freedom to pursue their true unique vision based on individual inspiration emphasising originality and innovations opposed to the more socially oriented Classicist periods.
In a way, doing a work in consideration of a clients demand as in a commissioned portrait for example is somewhat contradictory to the concept of an independent work of art that obeys no prescribed rules of conventions and the real challenge is finding the middle path between the two approaches.
In my own commissioned work I always try to emphasise the need for greatest amount of freedom for individual interpretation related to style and composition. Many times there is a definite contradiction between the conception of the client and that of the artist, creating a tension that can result in breach of trust and aborted work.
To avoid such result there is an absolute need to negotiate right from the beginning the terms and conditions, explaining the limits of the expectations and demands of a client that many times believe that by commissioning a work they have bought the right to control the result. Obviously, the paying client does have a right to a certain amount of intervention but it has to be pointed out right from the beginning that since the original idea for the commission came from the impulse to have a work of a certain artist’s style, this fact must be respected and be allowed to come to full expression, accepting a certain amount of deviation from the clients vision.
Ideally, an end result of a commissioned work should be something that gives both sides a feeling of accomplishment and fulfilment of both the client and the artists vision.
August is ending and I am back at my favorite cafe. It is bloody hot in Budapest makes me wish I would be somewhere in Alaska.It was a very busy summer with continuation of renovations of our apartment, visiting Viena , making arrangements for the arrival of my son , vacationing with family in Montenegro
and preparing for the end of my two months exhibit in If Jazz Cafe. For one reason or another, August tends to be a very busy month in my life. Maybe it has something to do with the fact that I was born in this month.
Looking forward for the arrival of Autumn.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.