Wednesday, May 20, 2015

ESAUM

So much to report! How fast time shoots by.

First, I've decided to paint only spectacular works again. I often waiver between being as expressive and loose as possible, or technical finery. No path is correct, but I must prove, at least to myself, my complete belief that I can paint as well as any old master. So with a few future works, I will try.

Second, yesterday I performed live music with a band of others for the first time. It was great. I was mostly on keyboard. I must learn (or relearn) a few guitar chords. The event was an art collaboration with artist Sabine Kussmaul in Macclesfield. We designed an area, draped with paper and textiles, and in this installation played music and painted live with others, any artists and musicians that came and went, for six hours. It was a great experience that we aim to repeat.

Third! My next exhibition ESAUM is due to open on Friday. Why show art when art is a show? For this, the hallowed artists that take part will have their art blessed. The artists will be blessed, and those that come, in the Egyptian ceremony that I will enact.

Wednesday, May 06, 2015

Songs Of Life, Now On Amazon

I am feeling filled with joy and artistic energy. Whether this is warranted or not! I'm filled with a new true belief that my art is destined for greater things. So much art these days appears to be tired, lacking in thought, lacking in skill! Lacking in depth! In emotion and meaning, and I will continue to change this by weight of artistic quality. Only by making the best art can success flow, and I see my path as clearly as any lone hero. A great heroic art is coming to this tired world...

and, you can be a part of this great quest. My book Songs of Life is now available on Amazon.

See, here is the Songs of Life page:
http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/offer-listing/0957194722/ref=dp_olp_new_mbc?ie=UTF8&condition=new

Songs of Life is the poetry of William Blake, his "Songs of Innocence" and "Songs of Experience" from the 1790's. Most people must know some of the works there, from Tyger Tyger to The Sick Rose. Here I have re-illustrated the entire canon in full colour, and published the book with Pentangel Books.

Amazon ship the book worldwide, and this, this perfect gift of rarity and inspiration can be yours. I am a true believer in real books rather than e-books. I like e-books, but real paper and text has been scientifically proven to increase brain activity, memory of the text and have other certain cognitive benefits. This, my second book, will I'm sure be second of many. Why not aim to collect all of the first editions while you can?

My first book, 365 Universes, is available on www.pentangel.co.uk in both limited edition hardback (100 copies) or open edition softback.

Songs of Life is the perfect gift for the aspiring artist or poet.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Enlightenment

Life feels like a trudge at the moment. I feel that my type of art is unpopular, time consuming, painstaking detailed surrealism is just totally out of fashion. I feel that people haven't really got the time to understand art, that people want something quick, snappy, pretty, instant gratification. I was reminded of Rothko, who painted landscapes (and surrealism) for decades before a short stint as an abstract artist; that stint he became famous for.

Looking at contemporary art these days there is some good creative stuff. There are well painted flowers/kittens/pretty girls/jars of sweets and things for people who would be equally as happy with a photograph, yet like the idea of something hand crafted. Those pictures are too stupid and twee for up-market galleries, so those galleries seem to show abstract art, which is often just as meaningless, and bought by decorators, designers, and people who like the look or colours for their home because it's seen as more intelligent than the twee flowers and pretty girls.

Somewhere in there, there is proper art, that is art that has a meaning and convey what the artist was feeling and thinking at the time. Odd that there's so little of this around, but yes, there is some.

I'm reminded while reading about Haydn and Beethoven that the French Revolution and The Enlightenment guided their art tremendously, the idea the art can unify humanity, and can guide and improve civilisation. National anthems appeared at this time, and public education included songs because music was seen as a unifying force for good. What an unfashionable idea that is?! That art can improve humanity.

To a modern businessman, art is a commodity that can sell as decoration, or for a curious "high end" of art, become an investment. The a modern government art can regenerate slum areas to a degree, but generally has little use. To an artist art is the world. To most people it's a mix of those things, but in the form of music or films, can be entertaining.

But these days, outside of museums and history books, art is never great, never guiding for humanity, not transformative or inspiring or uplifting, or joyous. History painting, those great scenes of battles, old heroes and events, hasn't been popular in a century. Nobody paints history paintings now, yet at one time it was considered the highest of all genres.

So, sword in hand, or brush, I'll make a history painting, well, of sorts, a totally uncommercial weird piece of wood and sand and gold and black blood that nobody would like at this time, that no designer would commission and no investor would gap at, a modern relic called Tony Blair's Soul. It's a start.

Come, artists. Make history art!

Monday, April 20, 2015

ESAUM

Coming next month, a show of 13 artists. A tomb of treasure. Runs for one month and everything bought at this event will have magical properties. If you are nearby, come.

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Insignificance

I have some bad news, you are doomed to a life of mediocrity. We are all doomed to a life of mediocrity. Humans are insignificant in the grand scheme of things. In space, atoms are formed, suns are formed, ignite, burn and die. And the universe is vast, unimaginably vast, as unimaginably vast as time itself. A human life is a mere blink in the four billion years or so merely in the life of this planet, this huge planet with the several billion tiny humans on it. There are so many people that a billion could drop dead tomorrow and it would not make a significant difference to the universe, never mind just the one tiny speck that is an individual human. Humans are insignificant.

We are all insignificant, but that can be liberating because we special ones can see and know our true place when many people never do, and we can appreciate being alive because of that knowledge. The reason to live is that it's infinitely better than not living. Humans are special because we know we are alive, does a star know it burns? How blessed we are with this knowledge, when we truly appreciate it!

The best we can do is to help the poor pitiable souls who think they are important somehow and struggle in the daily rat-race of life, of which we are no longer a part. I believe this is the essence of what Buddha thought of as "enlightenment", coming completely to terms with our insignificance without seeking comfort in other people or work or drugs, food etc. Simply accepting.

Monday, February 23, 2015

The Love Symphony

I'm gearing up for The Phenomenology of Love. This two week show will really be a once-in-a-lifetime event, it's rare to have things like this these days! At the same time I'm reading Beethoven: Anguish and Triumph, a wonderful book and I feel that this show will be a breakthrough moment like his move to Vienna!

Here's the poster for The Love Symphony premiere. There will be more showings, including one in Shoreditch on Saturday 14th. Any showings will be posted in advance on www.phenomenologyoflove.com. This is a good film and worth seeing if you can, you might never get the chance again. If you know any film critics, journalists, bloggers, video bloggers or people who might like to write about the night or other special nights during the exhibition then please invite them and I will be happy to treat them as special guests.

Friday, February 13, 2015

The Love Symphony: A Fantasy of Darkness and Light

I've spent the past couple of weeks working on a film. At first it was mere accompaniment to music, something better than a blank screen to look at, but it quickly evolved into an artwork in its own right. Fundamentally it's a non-narrative film, a collection of stock footage and other segments of film to portray a mood, rather than carry a definite plot. This sort of places it in a similar field to very few other films, Disney's Fantasia, Koyaanisqatsi (Powaqqatsi, Naqoyqatsi, other similar films), some pop music or 'art installation' videos, but I think my film is different. I don't think those other films really worked well as artworks. What is their aim? What was my aim?

In the end my film became like a visual symphony more than a story. A music symphony is not the same as a book. I think there is a good story to a good symphony, that Beethoven's 5th Symphony is about something, but it's not something with an obvious plot like a film such as Pulp Fiction or North By Northwest. The Love Symphony film rapidly became like a symphonic film, it about something; one could say it's a love story, but it's not something tangible and explicit in plot. The Love Symphony is different from Fantasia and the Qatsi films for a few key reasons.

Firstly I used repetition. Of course, all music uses this, although notably the earliest music didn't. Musical forms evolved to repeat themes and build upon them. I decided that I'd like to use the same film clips or similar films clips, such as the same clip played at different speeds or with different edits, throughout the film. As in a musical work, I think this adds an important structural element that helps reinforce meaning and help cognition. Without repetition it becomes hard to build any drama because drama comes from contrast; differences that exist only in similarity.

Secondly, I fundamentally based the images on the mood, and much of that was directed by the music too. Putting images to the music is really important (or more specifically, putting images to the mood, which the music defines). Adding music to images is a backwards form of film-making, for films of this type.

Ultimately the result is something like I imagine Richard Wagner would call a Gesamtkunstwerk. That most multi-spectral of artists would surely have seen cinema as the realisation of his ideas; yet cinema now is primarily a narrative form. There are musicals, or plays, but the vast majority of cinema is either a filmed stage-play, or filmed opera. We might have increasingly sophisticated special effects (sets, costumes) but, for a medium that can convey any image, sound and emotion, the mere transposition of play to screen seems to miss out a whole type of film.

There are other types of film though; trailers and advertisements are films too, and yet are rarely considered genre works in their own right. These are unique, most have no 'plot' as such, or characters we can involve with.

My film is made up chiefly from royalty free stock footage. A lot of old films were used, bit here and there. The full gamut of human emotion and experience is contained in those films. What more is needed as a palette? Sometimes I needed special scenes and I filmed those myself; I wanted a candle for example, and a ticking clock.

The liberating thing about making this film was the speed, the lack of technicalities. It's all a matter of editing, going straight to the artistic, creative, emotional content right away, not spending hours or days hiring actors, building sets, buying equipment, converting file formats, catering, finding funding! And all of the time wasting technical periphery of film making that probably frustrates every artistic film-maker. This is real film making, it was like composing the music in the first place, which of course is as symphonic in scale and content; that here is as vital as the written script in a normal film.

The music is ultimately why Koyaanisqatsi worked; Philip Glass' score fitted the images and mechanical doom-laden mood of that film, the only one that works artistically. The music in Fantasia is amazing, but rather that choose one symphony they chose a mish-mash and the confusing lack of consistency is why that film didn't work as an artwork. An artwork must have one theme or central idea. One.

"The Love Symphony: A Fantasy of Darkness and Light" is about 45 minutes long and will be premiered at 5pm on March 7th 2015 at Gabriel Fine Art, Old Paradise Yard, London. The hard part for me will be to get enough people seeing this! I do hope enough do. One of the difficulties of film as a medium is just this; from great directors and huge film production companies to small independent film makers, the problem of getting a finished film seen is as hard as making the film in the first place.

For details of the venue where you can view this film, see www.phenomenologyoflove.com

Monday, January 26, 2015

Norman Bates

And now, a second new song from the album. Firstly, I must say that my mother is really the best in the world! However, she did hurtfully criticise my singing at one point. She was quite right, I'm not a good singer! but when I started painting I was not a very good painter, and as with any skill it will improve with time. Besides, the important thing about a song is what is said, not how pretty it is, in fact the main, key, and vital reasons for making this album at all was to escape from the awful over processed "perfect" music that seems to be ubiquitous at the moment. I won't go out of my way to make something sound bad, but nor will I stoop to correcting self-expression. You can't correct self-expression, only stifle it. Can you "correct" the brush strokes of van Gogh?

I've dedicated the album to the memory of Anthony Perkins (and Joseph Deacon). I'm pleased with this song, and aimed for a sort of operatic or musical style in it's production, perhaps a little like Kate Bush did in Hammer Horror. It's also a second song on the album about a mad knife maniac. Oops. Here are the lyrics.

Norman Bates

Oh Norman Bates where are you?
I need a little help.
I need some reassurance from a friend,
my mother's voice is grating
inside my head
to make me sad again.

I know I should not ask you
but you might understand.
I think you are alone inside like me,
and in the dusty mirror
of my dry mind
you're the one I see.

Norman Bates inside your
castle, your silhouette is
staring at me, you long for
love too.
Norman Bates!

Permit me to be forward
but when did things go wrong?
I wonder when the moment was with you?
It's hard to place a finger
upon a why,
perhaps you have a clue?

Oh Norman tell me something.
Any word will do.
I like the little messages you send.
My mother's voice is grating
inside my head
and she's my only friend.

Norman Bates inside your
castle, your bedroom light is
shining for me, you long for
love too.
Norman Bates!