A COFFEE PAINTING

A painting writes to his painter: IVAN MRSIC

By Rosanna Albertini

 

IVAN MRSIC, Coffee Painting, about 2001 Courtesy of the artist

IVAN MRSIC, Coffee Painting, about 2001,  ground coffee on plexiglas 10″ h x 12″ w
Courtesy of the artist

Dear Ivan,

It’s me, your painting. It has been hard to be on my own: your friend the plumber packed me so well ― as if I were a leaking pipe ― that I couldn’t breathe. Was Peter his name? You had asked him to deliver me to the other Peter, the one from Los Angeles. But, his meeting with the other Peter did not go immediately well. The two Peters waited for each other at the museum entrance, each of them at different doors. Remaking the effort the day after, they finally have been able to reach the same entrance. Both were kind. The American Peter kept me in his hand baggage for the flight. It was good to be packed and not see how far was I going from New Zealand, over the ocean.

My real landing was on a bed, in a Los Angeles house. She unpacked me immediately, maybe she is claustrophobic. I was so disoriented and shy that, instead of blushing, I turned into the palest thing, almost invisible. I did not want to look vain. I didn’t know who the “she” was, but she really looked at me. With no words, so I could read her thoughts. “Did I already see you in Ivan’s house?” ― she mumbled ― “You must be one of the first coffee paintings he made, if not the very first.” I only know I never grew much, my size is 25 x 30 centimeters.

Holding me, she started the tour of the house, where to place me? I desperately wanted to be by myself. She must have felt it, she found two nails already hammered into the wall underneath a shelf covered with books, a shady place symmetrical with the picture of a two-year-old pretty girl: her daughter. Maybe she liked me. You know from your Croatian grandmother that coffee grounds have magic powers. Especially now, after some weeks, I can see her mind-set at first glance when she stares at me. I am so happy I could liquefy.

I am a coffee way that doesn’t need milk,

750 squared centimeters of universe blocked in infinite stillness,

the house for a fruit freed from plantations,

a solidified magic rag showing that beauty can be humble,

a piece of sky the same color of earth,

I am the grace of broken things that multiply, spread on archival drawers.

On the same wall where I am hung, but above the art catalogues, shines her Neapolitan mother’s picture. It makes me dream that in the night time I let the ground coffee go away and jump into the filter of a Neapolitan coffee maker to become fragrance in the morning, as it has to be.

(Letter of a painting to his painter Ivan Mrsic, from Los Angeles (California) to Auckland (New Zealand), sometimes in 2008.)

1945, my mother and me in her

1945, my mother and me in her

Ivan Mrsic is a visual artist and a musician. Born in 1957 in Zagreb, Croatia, when Croatia was still one of the six republics of Yugoslavia. Adopting a Maori custom, I place him in his genealogy: son of Tonica Ilijic, who was born to Ivan and Katarina, and of Andjelko (Angel), born to Andrija and Jelena, the grandmother who used to read the coffee grounds on the bottom of the cups and inspired Ivan, in a dream, to start a series of coffee grounds paintings. Ivan landed in Auckland on February 24, 1989. He was a professional printer for many years. Studied jazz percussion at the Conservatory of Music in Montreux, Switzerland. When I arrived in Auckland for the first time, Ivan volunteered to be one of my  guides through the new world. The kindest.

THANKSGIVING to COREY STEIN and PELLEGRINO ARTUSI

 “The Art of Eating Well”

TUNDRA-VENICE Chapter 4 (Chevac, Alaska — Venice, California)

By Rosanna Albertini

While I crack eggs, and separate the yolks from the whites, hoping my Italian potato cake for Thanksgiving will look better than a panettone, my husband has a hard choice to make for his pumpkin pie: goat milk, soy cream, real cream? Fat, sweet, irresistible butter or vegan buttery spread? Real eggs, children of hens, or a liquid substitute? For this time, November 2015, we pretend history of cooking stopped in 1891, when Pellegrino Artusi published his “Art of Eating Well,” a book in perfect Italian language that helped to unify Italy more than the monarchy or the republic, with recipes for common readers of a country in which most people did not speak Italian.

I learned to cook from that book when I was twelve, and never quit. Only, beware of eggs, one century ago they were much smaller, their number must be cut in a half. And don’t be afraid of simple food! Pellegrino Artusi writes the recipe of the meatloaf as spirited as Corey Stein when she depicts the California Surfertaco.

COREY STEIN, Surfertaco beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Surfertaco
beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artis

183 . POLPETTONE (Meatloaf)

Mister meatloaf, don’t hesitate to come forward, as I wish to present you to my readers. I know that you are retiring and shy because you’re conscious of your origins and realize you are more lowly than many others. Take heart and doubt not that a few words in your favor will convince people to try you, and perhaps even smile upon you.”

Corey Stein’s siblings in Alaska would be the perfect eaters of Artusi’s GENOESE PUDDING featuring a mixture of milk-fed veal, chicken breast, prosciutto, butter, grated Parmisan and eggs. The pudding must be completed, on the top, with chopped liver cooked in meat sauce. He recommends to serve it hot, “if it was made well, I guarantee your guests will remark on its delicacy.” It could be an alternative source of calories for lovers of Carnation evaporated milk. Unfortunately, also among the icebergs, butter is replaced by all-vegetable shortening. Adding mashed potatoes, sugar and salmonberries, good health is assured.

COREY STEIN, Crisco beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Crisco
beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Carnation milk beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Carnation milk
beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

In California, instead, cows could cry in their stable: soy milk is ‘silky,’ who ever would call silky the creamy, good smelling cow milk? They call it FAT. Yes, nourishing food has been banned from our lives, but we shouldn’t ignore that rich food of the past, like the Macaroni pie, were prepared and offered rarely, meat was on the table only once a week or less, bread and tomatoes were a whole meal.

COREY STEIN, Silk beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

COREY STEIN, Silk
beads hand sewn on felt, Courtesy of the artist

201. PASTICCIO DI MACCHERONI (Macaroni pie)

The cooks of Emilia-Romagna are usually very good at making this difficult and expensive dish, which is excellent when it is well made―a thing that’s easier said than done. Macaroni pie is a Carnevale [Mardi Gras] dish, and during that period of the year, there isn’t a luncheon or dinner in Romagna that doesn’t begin with it.

I once met a Romagnan of legendary appetite who arrived unexpected at a party as the guests were sitting down in front of a magnificent pie fit for a dozen. “What!” he said. “Just that pie I could eat all by myself for all of you?” “If you can eat it, we’ll pay for it,” they replied. The good man didn’t wait to be asked twice, and did. “He is going to croak by morning,” the astounded spectators said to each other after the performance. Luckily, the man’s condition wasn’t serious, though his belly did swell until the skin was as tight as a drum and he groaned, writhed, and cried out as if he was in labor. A man armed with a rolling pin hurried to his aid and, kneading his stomach as if it were dough, cleared the way for who knows how many other pies.

Gluttons and parasites of this type are rarer in our time than they used to be, for two reasons, I think. First, the human constitution has become frailer, and second, spiritual pleasures, a benefit of civilization, have eclipsed the pleasures of the flesh.”

 

The Art of Eating Well by Pellegrino Artusi (1820-1911) is a translation of La Scienza in Cucina e L’Arte di Mangiar Bene. Translated from Italian by Kyle M. Phillips III, Published by Random House, New York, in 1996. Out of print, but probably it can still be found as used copy, if the search is well done.

LIFE AS IT IS

according to GREG EDWARDS, painter

IN A SKETCHBOOK, A STROKE OF BEAUTY IN THE IRON AGE

By Rosanna Albertini

Artist Greg Edwards has driven and drives most of his urban life in Los Angeles and San Francisco. He paints and draws, draws and drives. He paints abstract actions on large canvases in his studio. His body, big and tall, towers over my caucasian, limited size. He needs a big car. Like most artists, he must work in order to survive. Greg is a limousine driver. The first year I moved to Los Angeles, about twenty five years ago, he showed me his paintings in an exhibition hosted by a shopping center in Crenshaw. He was proud to bring me among his people, the African American community in Los Angeles. I ate my first gumbo. I felt ‘white.’ To me, white and European, it was only a deeper immersion in a foreign world, no more surprising than other Korean, Japanese, or Mexican communities in Los Angeles. So many street names sounding perfectly Italian, with effort I had to tell myself they were Spanish, made me feel at home.

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing, bac814, ink on paper, 12" high x 9" wide Courtesy of the artist


GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing:On The Razor In Paris” ink on paper, 12″h x 9″ w
Courtesy of the artist

I think I decided that day I would never considered Greg Edwards a ‘black’ artist, just a very interesting artist. Time showed me I was wrong. It took years to learn an American history that for most Italians was a fantasy around Uncle Tom and cotton fields. Gone with the wind and no more. Our imagination was stuck in the Eurocentric confidence that we knew almost everything, which is worse than having our thoughts blocked by their own limits. Imagination is the key to what we do not know.

Greg’s art has become to me as important as his friendship. Many obstacles we had to overcome to built a reciprocal trust through personal wounds and stories of pain and separation, and stories of daily violence in the U.S. despite new written rules and equalized civil rights. It’s the IRON AGE: humans must work for survival, they can’t contain their passions, nor regulate the amount of pain they suffer or inflict. They kill, place explosive belts around their waist, lie and betray their families. Hesiod had seen it coming six century before Christ appeared. Terrorism and wars wear iron shoes. I can’t write a new post pretending the massacre in Paris did not happen. Not to mention others in Africa, Turkey, Lebanon, India, Iraq, Palestinian territories and in the U.S., only some among many.

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing, 818, ink on paper, 12" high x 9" wide Courtesy of the artist


GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing: “The Purchase Of Sky And Forest” ink on paper, 12″ h x 9″ w
Courtesy of the artis

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing bac821, ink on paper, 12"high x 9" wide Courtesy of the artist

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Sketchbook Drawing: “Visionary Roadmaster At Home” ink on paper, 12″h  x  9″ w
Courtesy of the artist

The paintings made by my grandfather Oreste, and the war stories recently written for this blog by his son Alberto, happened in a worse time of bombs, starvation, and dedicated fascists, practicing torture on their human companions if they believed they had different ideas about civility. Yet grandfather kept painting, and his mountains, his lakes were free from the surrounding violence. They emanate hope.

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Shetchbook drawing, bac824, ink on paper, 12"high x 9" wide Courtesy of the artist

GREGORY WILEY EDWARDS, Shetchbook Drawing: “The Spirit Of Monk’s Girlfriend” ink on paper, 12″h  x  9″w
Courtesy of the artist

I feel the same in front of Greg Edwards’ drawings: beauty is held by his big hands in a warm human cave among the lines that life has written on his palms. He drives, he has to wait for indefinite time. There, in a buffer space before the necessary adaptation to somebody else’s needs, he opens his notebook and lets his fingers to put images down, shadows of things seen hovering on his mind, already light. He draws them as presents of the moment, as they take place in the thickness of time: textures of feelings as if art allowed him to collect them from the daily confusion and lie them on a paper floor, half dream, half geometry, decoration as well as vanishing wishes more than real in his mind.

Beautiful things

like a mouse, like

a red slipper, like

a star, a geranium,

a cat’s tongue or ―

thought, thought

that is a leaf, a

pebble, an old man

out of a story by

Pushkin       .

Ah!

rotten beams tumbling,

.       an old bottle

mauled

from: WILLIAM CARLOS WILLIAMS – Paterson, 1946

ORESTE ALBERTINI

ORESTE ALBERTINI, Primavera (Springtime) 1946 

VENICE BIENNALE 2015

 UNOFFICIAL REPORT, AS CLOSE TO LIFE AS IT CAN BE

By Rosanna Albertini

Shaken by wind and rain, Venice, the lady who never undressed after the party, is splashed by the waves. And it’s only September. New monsters navigate between Giudecca and San Marco, before they turn right leaving through the lagoon. Each of them is a five, even eight deck high cruise ship, taller than any building in the city. They came into my dreams at the end of the night, bringing shivers in my spine. Years ago the wooden dock on which one waits for the boat in San Marco was cut into two parts like a piece of butter by the 2 deck boat that goes to Lido. The boat was ridiculously small compared with these ships. No one was angry, white wine is a local gold, a drunk captain can be forgiven; we jumped onto the shore without missing a second of the funny, unbelievable performance.

2015-09-24_170738349_4819C_iOS

2015-09-26_165450623_00FB4_iOS

As for now, I wouldn’t like to watch a cruise ship cutting the city in slices. The population is angry. And the Biennale brought art from all over the word into a theatrical scene more and more used and abused by foreign intruders (Costa, the shipowner who built the port in Venice is from Genoa, already an insult to the Venetian dignity). Working in a cafe near the Arsenale is an ordeal that transforms a pretty waitress, at the end of the day, into an almost unrecognizable wreck of a woman. The Biennale has temples at the Arsenale and Giardini, but the fusion with the city did not happen. Many national pavilions scattered in the meandered body of Venice had already disappeared in September. Some exhibitions seemed made to fill pages in the press, or to adorn empty palaces.

Not the Iranians though. They were given the most ruined, modest and spooky space in Cannareggio. There, the exhibition was shining, thoughtful about the present as much as rooted in an ancient civilization.

The press office of the Biennale let us writers know that information about the entire Biennale will be available online. Confident in the future, I feel allowed to skip details. I only hope this project won’t have the same destiny as the Monument to the Partigiana, a bronze by Augusto Murer, installed by Carlo Scarpa in front of the Giardini entrance of the Biennale in 1964. Soon damaged by the waves, the site restoration was completed in 2009. Time, in Venice, is a flexible entity that Albert Einstein couldn’t theorize.

P1040440

Once more, no verdict about the art. I loved and learned. I will go back. But this Biennale left a melancholy taste in my mouth. I’m not able to separate the Biennale from Venice. The world is changing, Venice is sinking.

HERE IS A VISUAL STORY OF PERSONAL, HEARTFELT WAYS TO PRESENT THE SPIRIT OF OUR TIME

Artists: Joan Jonas, Katharina Grosse, Céleste Boursier-Mougenot, Melvin Edwards, Huma Mulsi, Babak Kazemi, Farideh Lashai, Georg Baselitz, Irina Nakhova

nature and art have no borders

revolutions

they come to us without a word

what road do I take?

the way it is

the camel is embalmed

trees move on their own

humans

still walking on their heads

don’t fall from the wall

while a man

flew into space from his apartment

KATHARINA GROSSE, Installation at Venice Biennale 20115, "All the World's Futures."

KATHARINA GROSSE, Installation at Venice Biennale 2015, “All the World’s Futures.”Photo: Peter Kirby

 

CELESTE BOURSIER-MOUGENOT, rêvolutions, a project for the French Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale. Courtesy of the artist and of Xippas, Paris; Paula Cooper Gallery, New York; Galerie Mario Mazzoli, Berlin. © Laurent Lecat.

CELESTE BOURSIER-MOUGENOT, rêvolutions, a project for the French Pavilion at the 56th Venice Biennale.  Photo: R.A

 

joan jonas, "they come to us without a word," 2015 production still, Courtesy of the artist

joan jonas, “they come to us without a word,” 2015, American Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015
production still, Courtesy of the artist

 

MELVIN EDWARDS, The Way It Is, 1992 Welded steel, 18.25 h x 21 w x 16.5 d inches

MELVIN EDWARDS, The Way It Is, 1992 
Welded steel, 18.25 h x 21 w x 16.5 d inches Venice Biennale 2015, “All the World’s Futures”

 

BABAK KAZEMI, Iranian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2015

BABAK KAZEMI, Iranian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2015 Photo: R.A.

 

HUMA MULSI, Iranian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015

HUMA MULSI, Iranian Pavilion at the Venice Biennale 2015 Photo: R.A.

 

FARIDEH LASHAI, Iranian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2015

FARIDEH LASHAI, Iranian Pavilion at Venice Biennale 2015 Photo: R.A.

 

GEORG BASELITZ, Doesn't Fall from the Wall, 2015 Venice Biennale 2015, "All the World's Futures"

GEORG BASELITZ, Doesn’t Fall from the Wall, 2015
Venice Biennale 2015, “All the World’s Futures” Photo: R.A.

 

IRINA NAKHOVA, Russian Pavilion, (The Green Pavilion) at Venice Biennale 2015 Photo: Rosanna Albertini

IRINA NAKHOVA, Russian Pavilion, (The Green Pavilion) at Venice Biennale 2015   Photo: R.A.

 

THE LAST VENICE BIENNALE I VISITED, IN 2009

There will be no verdict in this report from the Venice Biennale 2009. A “quiet” venue? It’s the general verdict. Yet, what’s the difference between a lagoon and swamp? They are both quiet. If nonsense weren’t good for the brain I would throw the word “quiet” into a canal, but so many told it, or felt that way, a common sentiment must be treated with consideration. Quietly, seventy seven countries from all over the world sent their artists to Venice, to refill the historical pavilions as well as empty basements on the Canal Grande, empty churches, dismissed convents, the abandoned ship factory of the Arsenale, other modest or rich spaces, private foundations. And many artists, instead of magnifying the aura around their ego or their objects, brought to Venice scenes of human experience of the kind shared wherever humans live.

Venice is an expensive shell waiting for artists every two years to bring back international gossip, art comedies, and provocative gestures, as if the ballrooms were still open, and bridges and narrow streets could still embrace and hide love games and illicit exchanges, monkeys, bears, prostitutes, commerce of exotic goods, knives and fists in return for someone’s insult. “Quiet,” sounds like “nianca na strasa de comedia sto ano,” venician language for “not even a rag of a comedy this year,” in a play by Carlo Goldoni, the local glory in the Eighteen century, a sort of Venetian Woody Allen.

Not my impression this year, frankly, maybe because in a previous life I have been a Venetian, and I love the city insanely. Today Venice has the charm of a lady who for centuries never undressed after the party; even threatened by financial straits, she is a majestic old lady. And this Biennale turns out to be an interesting, silent merging of international art into the normal flow of the city life, so that the art spaces are next to the pharmacy, the bakery, clothes and fruit vendors; at times signs for national pavilions or side events (forty four) compete with street markets, flocks of tourists, and spots of chairs for tired legs in front of small cafes. Some exhibits are so hidden in meanders that to find them is an adventure. No complaints: when the art is good, visitors are even more rewarded.

MYTHICAL FIGURES IN A SILENT LAND

MYTHICAL FIGURES IN A SILENT LAND

By Rosanna Albertini

C H A R L E S  G A R A B E D I A N’s  paintings on paper at LA LOUVER

All our language is composed of brief, little dreams.*

Los Angeles, at the crossing of Venice Boulevard and Centinela the morning sky is so clear, so entirely blue that I forget signs and buildings and the few trees. As I stare at the yellow of the traffic light turning into green, I notice a flight of birds: sparrows? mocking birds? They are smaller than crows. The black bodies fly higher and higher in the sky drawing a big circle of joyful squawks. They move toward the right. My feet anchored at the bus stop, I see my mind following the birds as the Etruscan and Roman augures used to do: they said yes. My already made decision to write some notes about Charles Garabedian’s paintings and drawings I had seen the day before was approved by invisible gods.

A glimpse of gratitude followed, hard to explain: Garabedian’s art had moved my mind far away from opinions or reasonable thoughts. For a moment, I was free from obsessions about forecasts, directions, polls, rain or not rain, how many minutes the Uber car is from my feet. I was presently here and ancient, time did not exist.

Each instant falls at each instant into the imaginary, and we are hardly dead before we are off, with the speed of light, to join the centaurs and the angels.**

The sky joined the asphalt. These united elements In Garabedian’s paintings, human and inhuman, are utterly clean. Signs of history or artifacts have been wiped off. Images are painted on paper, big sheets of thin paper that shrinks and moves under the thickness and wetness of colors. Evocation of tragedies vibrates in mythological names: Electra, Cassandra, Antigone, Polynices, Prometheus. Yet these painted characters are the lightest one can imagine, they open their legs and arms in a silent flatness. Magnificent, absurd figures born without bones, with eyes lost in the night of time. No drama is there, no need of redemption.

CHARLES GARABEDIAN, Prometheus Chained, 2014 acrylic on canvas 56 x 75 inches (142.2 x 190.5 com) © Charles Garabedian Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice CA.

CHARLES GARABEDIAN, Prometheus Chained, 2014
acrylic on canvas 56 x 75 inches (142.2 x 190.5 com) © Charles Garabedian
Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice CA.

A chained Prometheus dances on the rocks turning his back to us. One would say he is a wizard titan who generates flames from his fingers, almost a joke. “What did you do with my most precious present? ― he mumbles ― bombs, global warming? When you realized that my fire brought you power, nothing else counted anymore, you cooked your soul. At least I’m devoted to my eagle that eats my liver every day. Because you hate your eagle, or consciousness, call her as you like, your liver won’t regenerate.” He keeps dancing on the top of the Caucasus. The very drama is our memory, imaginary blood congealed in words.

Artist Charles Garabedian doesn’t flinch from his own dream. His Antigone and Polynices leaves the genealogical tragedy out of the scene. Love circulates between the living figure of the woman and the dead young man on the ground, his long arms lying in abandonment as if death was no different than lovemaking exhaustion. Blood is red spread around his head. Sophocles’ story has been translated so many time over hundreds of years that it arrives to our days extremely worn out, with no details except the sweetness of gestures, a right hand hesitant towards a final stroke ―her nails are painted blue. At the same time each painted character seems to have escaped from a miniaturist’s sketch book, bringing us portraits of primary characters, completely contained in a graphic fantasy of absolute nakedness and natural feelings.

CHARLES GARABEDIAN, Antigone and Polynices 2014 acrylic on paper 51 x 48 1/4 inches (129.5 x 122.6 cm.) © Charles Garabedian Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice CA.

CHARLES GARABEDIAN, Antigone and Polynices 2014
acrylic on paper 51 x 48 1/4 inches (129.5 x 122.6 cm.) © Charles Garabedian
Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice CA.

Don’t confuse the story with the art. Garabedian dilutes human misery in colors and madness in gentle, benevolent scenes. Gods are pink. Mostly naked, of course. In our messy world threatened by control mistaken for intelligence, he brings us back to our senses.

Myths are the souls of our actions and our loves. We cannot act without moving toward phantoms . We can love only what we create.***

His drawings arise from the middle space between words, thoughts and visual symbols. Transfiguration produced by colors is missing. But charcoal is fragile, heated wood deprived of oxygen, it’s perfect to draw ghosts with the same matter as ashes. Cassandra (2014) and Supplicant I (2013) are two figures that I could count among the cells of my own body: they are part of me as of many other women, for sure. Cassandra is modestly self-contained; her gift of seeing into the future makes her rebuked, no one believes her, so much that her neck disappears, and her head sinks for protection between the collar bones, if at least she were a turtle! Her mouth is sealed forever.

CHARLES GARABEDIAN, Study for Cassandra, 2014 charcoal on paper 48 x 32 in. (121.9 x 81.3 cm) © Charles Garabedian. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.

CHARLES GARABEDIAN, Study for Cassandra 2014
charcoal on paper  48 x 32 inches (121.9 x 81.3 cm.) © Charles Garabedian  Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice CA.
.

The Supplicant has also lost her voice, she is prisoner of a tower, or simply the house, that covers her like a protective and suffocating armor: as she bends her body toward the unknown space outdoors some bricks fall down, her feet start going but not yet. The artist has entered the tower of women’s condition, keeping their image self absorbed, aware of a destiny we could call impersonal. I believe I feel in my ears the final claim for compassion of a woman in Afghanistan while a group of men in a circle throw stones at her. She is in a hole in the middle of the human circle, the top of her head barely visible. A photo of the ‘ceremony’ was published two days ago in the New York Times. “please, stop, please don’t…” until silence pitied her.

CHARLES GARABEDIAN, Supplicant I, 2013 charcoal on paper 48 x 29 1/4 in. (121.9 x 74.3 cm) © Charles Garabedian. Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice, CA.

CHARLES GARABEDIAN, Supplicant I  2013
charcoal on paper  48 x 29 inches (121.9 x 74.3 cm.) © Charles Garabedian Courtesy of L.A. Louver, Venice CA.

Charles Garabedian knows about pain. His family escaped the Armenian genocide. He doesn’t complain, for himself or others. Physical or moral damage absorbed by bodies and landscapes are painted over, making his art a tapestry of patience, and a source of sympathy: the act of sharing pity and tenderness in stories told for centuries to lift the weight of knowledge, and continue to love.

* ** *** Paul Valéry, “A Fond Note on Myth” [1928] in The Outlook for Intelligence, Edited by Jackson Mathews, Bollingen Series XLV, 1962.

EPHEMERAL ATZEC ON THE 405

Text and image by HARRY GAMBOA Jr.

 

Ephemeral Aztec on the 405

Bone:

Something about the cold dry air has me feeling out of tune with my former self. Not sure where the rest of me has gone off to but certain it isn’t all fun. At least I’m in a resting position with a grand view of the eternal chaos.

Freeway:

Everyone is speeding in utter opposition to everything that they’ve all been feeling. They know it is a perpetual dead end yet the keep moving towards the ultimate collision. If only you’d be kind enough to scratch my aching asphalt.

Smog:

Breathe in and breathe out. Do it several million times and you still might not ever smell a rose. My particulate matter count is so high that it doesn’t really matter if the air is rarified. I’m transparent and you are pale in comparison. Let your tear ducts do the talking.

La Muerte/Death:

Everyone, enjoy the moment as it will only last forever.

Memory:

I am a cloud in a creamy thought of lust and longing. It would have been better to drop acid everyday for a decade. Instead, I’ve invested in the minute-by-minute countdown that is reinvented every time I wake up. I can’t recall if I have a name or if you are a thing.

La Muerte/Death:

Let’s leap into the black hole to find what is rightfully yours.

Bone:

There once was a skull that was so important…

Freeway:

Merge quickly before anyone cuts you off!

——La Muerte/Death:

All decisions are painful.

Smog:

Blow me away.

 

HARRY GAMBOA JR., Macaroon, 2013 l-r: J. Isabel Salazar, Juna Carlos Garza. c/o Virtual Vérité

HARRY GAMBOA Jr., Macaroon, 2013  © Harry Gamboa Jr. 2013
l-r: J. Isabel Salazar, Juan Carlos Garza.
c/o Virtual Vérité

______________________________

KATE NEWBY – SILENT BRICKS

A FICTIONAL LEGEND

by Rosanna Albertini

“There is a big difference between using a rock and making a rock.” (Kate Newby) 

Let’s imagine things and people never were, so we could

breath such emptiness in and out

and feel murmurs of silence

subject and names are gone

a field remains of impersonal vibrations

the simple fact of an existing energy field

as impersonal as ‘it rains’ ‘it’s cold’ ‘it’s foggy’

names can’t tell about it, verbs maybe can

no offense to time and space they don’t count

compared with human energy

incurable daughter of fate

no one nothing will change her

what kind of art now?

(Emmanuel Levinas, Le temps et l’autre, 1979. Translation from French RA)

One of the many answers could be:  Kate Newby’s Two aspirins a vitamin c tablet and some baking soda – 2015  In Los Angeles, at Laurel Doody.

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail.
Courtesy of the artist and of Laurel Doody. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Let’s imagine a beginning without time, the artist looking for a space to visit, landing on its flatness like an alien presence bringing presents in a quiet and friendly manner, so quiet that visitors, or recipients, if they exist, could easily ignore them. John Cage’s prepared piano’s distinct notes would trace the spirit of this presence better than words: liquid sounds, ponds of feelings for a landscape that only exists if some body’s expectations go astray, heading towards a field of sensations that float and fly, light feet on the floor.

I can hear you

making small holes

in the silence

rain

(Hone Tuwhare, Rain, in Deep River Talk, 1993)

In that landscape Kate’s art makes sense if we forget all the strings we attach to the word ‘meaning.’ An impersonal field of energy offers tactile surprises to the eyes: a small island of wax on a wooden skin, coins melted in clay, a couple of glass stones at the edge of the window sill, as if they were two feet waiting to fly rather than jump. And even more surprising, four irregular metal cilinders with a point that worked holes and lines and angles in the clay, helping the artist’s fingers. Her magic fingers, not merely tools. Strangely, they make me think of Mahuika in the Maori mythology, the image of the goddess grandmother who hides fire in her body, and gives it to the living humans pulling out her fingernails one by one, her fingers bursting into flame. Although Kate Newby is from New Zealand, this is only a fantasy of mine.

She carved small and big holes in each brick, made the bricks one by one preparing them for the kiln, pierced the silence of the matter introducing scratches, cavities, scars produced by pieces of metal or glass. Wounds of the same kind, in a place run by history, would be normal accidents happening over time. As I told before, time is gone. This is reverse archeology: a fictional legend.

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

Kate Newby,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015, detail. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen

It’s a cluster of unnamed,  brand new objects: never used, human hands made them all, they might not be useful or noticeable. The artist brought them into a friendly room, aware of their novelty which is first of all a lack of experience: who ever looked at them? In their primordial, perhaps pre-historical surface they wear without knowing, why are they sprinkled with something white looking like bird shit (what’s a bird?), or with colored pebbles and small shells (where do colors come from?), can they stand to be under scrutiny? Scrutiny is an architecture of thoughts as cold as a laser beam. The whole energy field could be destroyed.

A window, a thick expansion of green outside, emptiness in a room. I don’t know if Kate Newby still feels like a pile of leaves, this time she has aspirin, a tablet of vitamin c and baking soda in her mind’s pocket. Is she able to shut down her self and bring up only her (and our) alterations? Being impersonal like rain and dry like the destiny?

When she looks from afar at the scattered sculptures released by her hands,  she sees them together in her mind as they cannot be seen in the physical space where they are installed. Suspended from a branch outside the window, the musical fingers can perhaps visually connect to the glass feet, not to the bricks inside the room. They are dispersed family members, that only a mental vision would bring together. Distance and displacement don’t reduce her attachment. The conversation she had in mind in the making of the art has been slowly decanted into the objects’ physical quality, so as not to disturb the sediment, that is different for each material. A physical conversation between wind, leaves and silver fingers, and between the sky and the glass blocks, takes place outdoors; while the iron, that makes the clay red inside the room, reverberates the iron in her blood and viceversa: human and inhuman temperament of the metal share the same nature. A wish of infinity, in the blue pebbles?  The raw matter that is in her is also in the body of her art: an “incredible feeling” arouses her vision. She will never say it in words, nor should I. It’s a feeling of certainty, though, joined to the pleasure of giving.

KATE NEWBY,

KATE NEWBY, “Two aspirins a vitamin C tablet and some baking soda”, 2015
Courtesy of the artist and of Laurel Doody. Photo: Fredrik Nilsen