August 31, 2004

Everyone is a General

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I used to work like a mole in the darkest room in the cranium of a warship, creating a picture of the world with technical extensions of our senses.

Here's a story from Wired about how soldiers are training today. Shades of CounterStrike!

Check this other image out:
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(It kind of looks like a Terry Allen installation... or a bad grad student project.)

And this:

When ICT was founded, one of its first directives came from Army chief scientist Mike Andrews. "Build us a holodeck," he said, referring to the room-sized device on Star Trek employed to simulate the environments of alien planets.

Returning to ICT headquarters, I notice an unexpected aftereffect of spending an hour in the holodeck. Glancing out a window, my brain no longer trusts that I am seeing the real world. The freeway traffic and tract houses of Marina del Rey seem virtual.

(Attention! Segue underway:)
That reminds me* of our studio visit with Markus Weggenman. Markus was kind enough to show us his studio shortly before we left Z?rich. The whole time, I was patting my pockets reflexively for the digital cameras, both out of commission. Here's images dragged from Mark M?ller's website:

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and this:
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Markus paints in gouache everyday, but don't visualize these jpegs with the mineral textured surface of that medium. He takes his work through a process of selection and editing (two or three hoppers of selection), 8x10 inch thick papers everywhere in sorting piles in his studio, he captures the images with a scanner and further tinkers with the images and prints out copies to send to his trusted autobody paint specialist to render the image on Alcoa wafer insulated aluminium panels. When you see these images, think auto body finishes. Big. Reflective. Actually, scale-less, because they can be the size of a TV or the side of a building. They can be expensive to make. Gorgeous.

And free. Markus lays the paint down every day, no expectations, meditative maybe. He frames his work in terms that reminds me of Lasker, the painting the image of painting. The removal that made things possible again. He has a few words pinned to the wall that point to an existential nausea: "The ground is an illusion..." or something like that. He talked about an early enthusiasm that led to frustration with painting, he used to be a psycholanalyst with a practice, and then one day, he walked up to the Kunstmuseum and proposed an exhibition of work in '89 or '90, and he has been chamed ever since as a painter. After the crisis of thinking he cannot bring anything new to the painter's table, he painted stripes (Buren?) and therefore painted himself into a corner, a world of horizontal striped paintings... I saw a photo of an installation in a multistoried atrium of some official building of many hundreds of his stripe paintings, amazing... it was after this he leaped out of the corner with the autobody work.

But I prefer to see his work not as a refusal... therefore the leap. Because it is a practice of painting that extends over multiple technologies and modern materials. What once was a simple technology, oil with pigment in suspension, now is a multitude... perhaps bewildering and therefore the nausea. When Markus reaches out his hand in his studio, he is reaching over time and continents and specialists, through many kinds of people of expertise...

...kind of like CounterStrike. (are the eyes rolling? ok, ok... I like the big leaps) The difference is that one uses the technical multitude to simulate reality and the other uses it render it real.


*Markus, I hope you don't mind the segue, the juxtapostion with military images! For me, such things are not negative images... nor specifically positve either.

Posted by Dennis at 6:34 AM | Comments (3)

August 30, 2004

SCALE

Scale is the thing, the acute issue of our time:


If Rothko and Pollock were addressing their own need to paint large pictures, Barnett Newman described the encounter between the beholder and the work as a phenomenological relation: The painting should cause the viewer to feel present.

An ArtForum article. Check it out.

The stuff I wrote about how we live and organize cities, the ideas pivoted on scale, the relation of one measure against another, people and cities. I was saying that we should recognise that we are building cities that relate to a super inhabitant, the most obvious is the view of a car as an human augmented with various prosthesis to extend the limitations of our bodies: telephones, television, the internet and the computer, and automobiles.

The question I wanted to highlight is whether we can build to a scale that relates to human measure (without simulation, Disneylands) or are we destined to build within the extremities of our inventive imaginations. Take Tossa for example: can you build a place like this, or are intimately scaled human environments best found, concretized historical facts on the ground, products of older technologies such as animal drawn vehicles which no doubt scaled the layout of this fishing village.

In painting, I've been uncomfortable with the global institutional scale of the factory cum kunsthalle (but I have no quarrel with globalism per se), the cavernous spaces of contemporary white cube. I think it is the museum that is the agent who should change in response to the work than the artist who should scale up thier work to fill the superhuman scaled spaces of today. This recently became vivid as we saw the Urs Fisher show at the Kunsthaus Z?rich last weekend.

In general, our abilities to shift scale has rendered a time when one can do more with less. In our lifetimes, the progression of answering machines, personal computers, the internet and cell phones as enabled new business start up with less costs than in previous generations. The ability to do more with less is empowering to both those with good intent and those without... hence Osama.

Scale. it's a big deal.

Posted by Dennis at 7:29 PM | Comments (1)

And the problem is...?

This, found while thumbing through the Art Newspaper:


German artist J?rg Immendorff's thrill-seeking landed him in the dock in Berlin last month. Mr Immendorff was fined Euros 150,000 and given an 11-month suspended sentence following his arrest last year in a luxury hotel room where he was found naked with nine prostitutes and 11 grammes of cocaine.

A rich and lusterous selection from the internet, for you. My compliments.

I'm looking for pictures of Martin Kippenberger in the head bandage. In the meantime, click this, I think Ohlen was eloquent. And be sure to click on "Psychobuildings".

UPDATE:
My old friend Craig Rizzo (painter and architect living in Arizona) send this in...
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You can find it here. The internet is so fantabulistic.

You can see where he has pinned a self portrait to the wall, a great photo, shades of Vincent's ear.

Posted by Dennis at 3:02 PM | Comments (0)

August 29, 2004

End of Summer

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The five day forecast.

Posted by Dennis at 1:49 PM | Comments (2)

August 28, 2004

What More Can I Say?

Back home after a night out, I don the ear buds and crack open the laptop.

Tonight Kiko asked me if I painted while I was drunk. That's not an easy question, replying either yes or no is misleading. Plus, a straight answer leads to a lot of personal indulgement... er, divulgement, and you don't want to experience that. People like ambition but they don't want to see you break a sweat. Don't worry, you won't see the butt ugly here, too much of life misses this blog to let you see me get all sweaty. Like i said, this isn't transparency, no matter how it looks.

I wrote the last blogpost as if my head was packed with cotton, sleeping most of the days since the return from Z?rich to get back into that old place, head space again. Normality is a major feat, not to be taken granted.


But I'm a little drunk right now, yes... that's right. And I am writing this with my senses altered. Yep. Drunk. It's four thirty in the morning, we've had a nice evening with Kiko. We took him and Terese to dinner to say thanks for looking after our dog Juno.

Soon the morning will break and the last few minutes of the late evening, early morning are best spent flashing down these words... what the hell, huh? A semblance of real life for you.

Steve Earl: "John Wesley Harding lost his roll shootin dice..."
Steve Tyrell, "The Way You Look Tonight"
Steeley Dan: "Home at Last"

"...Could it be that I have found my home at last?

Home at last..."

But the real deal on the "do you paint whilst inebriated" question is that my work is alla prima, to paint within the drying time of paint. So, my work is accomplished in the several mental states I happen to experience in the time I am painting. Which is everything.

Take this moment for instance. Several whiskeys and wine. And I type this here blog just fine, thankyouverymuch. We went to El Pirata first after the restaurant. And whoops, I'm a little tipsey! Cuff me, Dan-O.

Moroccan Spirit" "Music For 1001 Nights - Outro"
Dionne Warwick: "Do You Know The Way To San Jose?"
James Brown: "Lowdown Popcorn"

At El Pirata, Pepa, the wife of the family who owns the bar was dancing to CD's the pretty Slovakian girl was spinning behind the bar. Xerlo is there, he's a stately figure, a solid chunk of Catalan manhood. T-shirt and jeans, he's older than I, still vital. In a good way. Tanned, wearing glasses... his hair longish and cut perfectly. He and Kiko are planning to sail to nearby islands next summer, talk of getting thier licenses to sail across the Mediterranean. Who knows what would happen?

We clinked glasses and promised we would do it. (Fingers were crossed the whole time.) Visions of the Raft of the Medusa flashed to my inner eye.

V. Menuett: "Suite No. 2 in D Minor, S. 1008 -"
James Brown: "The Popcorn"

Glasses of NO CAN DO's... whiskey. Ice.
Pepa was dancing in the doorway, Teresa is clapping.... it's wonderful here that they get into the music and become part of it, bodily . The August summer moon hangin' over Codolar. The sea is cloudless, the moonlinght painting Nacho's road over the sea. Hips had started to rotate. Kiko gets up and dances with Pepa. They know the words. I nurse my drink. Kiko orders more, accomodating me by pouring my whiskey into his and Xerlo's.

James Taylor: "Walking Man"
"Ah but who would want to listen to you, kissing his existence goodnight..."
"any man stops and talks... but not the walkin' man..."

Ibrahim Ferrer: "Herido De Sombras"

It's almost five in the morning, and I can't think of anything better than to scribe a few lines to my pals so far away. Cheers to you guys in Hop Louie. Cheers to the guys in Z?rich. Kiko was nice enough to let us get away, playfully buying us the next drink: "Let us talk about going to Tu Rai after this drink.", glasses clink, brindis. Stephanie and I had to draw the line. No discos tonight. So we stumble home, Juno all beside herself when we arrive.

Tony Fernandez: "Sweethearts on Parade"
"...and now I find, as they pass me by, I will never be a sweetheart on parade..."
The Lightning Seeds: "You Showed Me"
Tim Eriksen: "Am I Born To Die?"
Tom Sachs: ""Japanesmo"

(If you haven't figured it out yet, music I am listening to here in my iTunes music and listing the songs for you as they play in random order, for what it's worth to you)

I turn up the volume when the Japanese girls sing.

We had a great time in Z?richland. I would like to live there. I like the people.

Stevie Wonder: "Visions'
"...would I live to see the milk and honey land where hate is a dream and love forever stands... or is this the vision in my mind?"

"...I'm no one who make believes, I know that leaves are green... they only turn to brown when autumn goes around... I know just what I say, today's not yesterday and things have an ending...."

As the earth spins and my head spins and the edge of twilight moves West towards the Pacific, here we are in Spain, thinking back to our life in California. We kind of miss it (Cali), and despite this feelling, we are building something new here... and we would miss this life here too, if we would leave... but no worries.

We are moderns now, we can do more with less.

Luscious Jackson: "Soothe Yourself"
The Soggy Bottom Boys: "In The Jailhouse Now"
Bebe: "07-El golpe"
India.Arie: "Simple"

"... what more can I say? (so simple)..."

Courante: "Suite No. 1 in G Major, S. 1007 -"
Cheikha Remitti: "Ya Lemmima"
Nat King Cole: "Don't Get Around Much Anymore"

"...it's oftly different without you, don't get around much anymore...."

Posted by Dennis at 10:32 PM | Comments (0)

Atlantis

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Our week in Z?rich was simply fabulous. Mark was a wonderful host, we met a great number of wonderful, generous, attentive, intelligent and informed people: artists, writers, collectors, students, movie directors, cooks, designers, old friends...

Here's a few keepsakes:

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We arrived home after a six hours travelling door to door, Z?rich to Barcelona. And coming home after five or six days of a constant high, my metabolic pendulum was swinging towards hibernation...

I tell you that the most wonderful feature of traditional Mediterranean building is the ability to control the interior light with the shutters and blinds that accompany all window openings in these thick walls. Sleep deprived. A little R & R. We went for a swim after Spanish (Castelleno) class early the next day after we had arrived and the contrast of Switzerland next to Spain was still on reverb as we plunged into the waters of the cove, the memory of a similar plunge into lake Z?rich was fresh and vivid.

Mark had taken Stephanie and I for a swim soon after we arrived. After a walk through the streets of the Bonhoffstrasse of the dentral island, a kind of Beverly Hills of Z?rich, we checked into a bath house on the lake. A rare sunny day, crowds of Swiss were soaking up the pale sun of the high summer. We changed into our swim suits and the initial plunge into the pure lake water was like jumping into the bottled water regularly served at the local restaurant dinner tables. Treading water, the lake filled with sails as the image you see at the head of this post crowned the horizon.

Back in Tossa, the sea was so salty and briney and filled with all kinds of lifeforms and debris and froth. Evian and brine. After so much swimming this summer, it's not uncommon for me to experience a loss of balance when I arise from a prone position, sometimes the room will spin when I close my eyes in bed. Coming out of the salty Catalan water, we plop down and dry out, sopping the last rays of the waning summer, the world spinning from the whirlwind of it all. It's so amazing being here.

I had camera problems, first with my little spy camera crapping out and the batteries of the backup too weak (chargers were too hard to find on the fly), so I offer this meager foto album of the trip. Besides, I feel like a geek if I whip out the camera as we meet so many new people.
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Z?rich is a fantastic city... it's like a combination of Tossa and New York, for the intimacy of urban human scale (the village feeling) and the high metabolic cost of living (the place is very expensive) that delivers an acme in modern living. The best of human endevour at your disposal, at a price.
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Z?rich is big on the dramatic arts, the pics above are from a summer theater festival staged in improvised camps at the lake's edge. That night, we go to take in the scene and eat some food such as we had, plates of Cameroon cusine from one pavillion. Elsewhere in the city, movie theaters are everywhere, people have to make reservations to get in and often people belong to movie clubs, some watching three or so movies a week.

And they're no slackers when it comes to the visual arts. I talked to writers, so many by type and with so many in depth. It is rare for me to have the same careful concentration of interchange with "ink stained wretches" in the states. Collectors often take the conversation into deeper water, other artists are very open and often volunteer to open their studios to us, eager to exchange thoughts about art. No fear.

Marina (Mark's number one at the gallery) took us to see the Giacometti at the police station. On the way, I was anticipating the Giacometti I knew of, the elongated mottled and modeled Existentialist figures, I was thinking that the police would be able to protect the work from thieves. Then we arrived and I was flattened by the experience... I wasn't that aware of the family story:
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Here's a snippet form a quick google search:


Turn left to Werdm?hleplatz, continue towards the Limmat River, and make a short stop at the Police Department. This building used to be the biggest convent in Z?rich, and later became an orphanage (financed by the same Pestalozzi) before being converted into the police station. Don?t be shy--enter the police headquarters to have a peek at an amazing wall painting by Swiss artist Augusto Giacometti. The vault was painted after World War I. The famous ?hall of the flowers? (Bl?emlihalle), awash in bright colors, reflects the relief and joy the artist felt when war was over.

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This, a shot with a flash to show how the color shifts. The place was amazing, a police station, no less! And painted in 1926! the colors reminded me of the artist I was showing with, Judy Millar had installed a couple of large paintings in the second gallery, the juxtaposition of primary hot against muddied colder colors, often one over the other, all rigorously organised and yet freehanded too, fantastic.
Judy is from New Zealand and she's been in Berlin for a little while. (She has built a house for herself on a cliff near Aukland I think... she'll send me pics...)

Everybody is talking about how great Berlin is. Everybody.
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Artist, painter Reto Boller walked with us along one of the rivers coming off the lake into the city. Reto was working on a competition for an installation in a public space. He took a break to have dinner with us. This time, we happened upon a canoe-football match:
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Fun stuff.
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To tell you the truth, I had expected a Hollywood version of Z?rich before I first arrived last year: stainless steel and glass, perfectly cast concrete and beautiful people everywhere... and yes, all this is present there, but the city is wonderfully diverse and human scaled and shaggy in a good way (plenty of strip clubs to offset the bank district), and at the same time, the swans are big and healthy, the fish are fat and plentiful and there is both an absense of trash, a presence of grafitti and occasional -yet still rare vandalous shennanigans (smashed storefront glass) in the streets.
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Sorry, no pics of the opening are available, the desire to lower the paparazzi factor and overtones of preying on the offhand moment being too large to ignore. However, I did manage to squeeze off these after opening party shots, the city had hosted three coordinated nights of opeings with collective parties for each.
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Time after time, people would say: "...please don't put this in your blog..."... yes of course, we must be discreet. Many things don't get posted anyway, the impression of transparancy is a false one by and large. I do think this shot of Mark (he's on the right, Marcel Isler is on the left, I got to talk to his brother Peter) is a good one. A great guy to collaborate with, lucky man that I am.

And Atlantis? Floating in the Mediterranean water once again, I was resting from a series of deep dives, floating on the surface. I was looking over a rock formation with memories of Z?rich reverbing in my head. And in the offhanded moment, a thought of Atlantis came to mind... how the rocks could be a foundation for a house or an Atlantean road... and I then thought about how the people in Switzerland could be Atlanteans, that perfect place far away, long ago.

Posted by Dennis at 9:01 AM | Comments (1)

August 19, 2004

A Toast for Zagunis

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I love fencing. I fenced before (I bought my first gear in Singapore when I was a kid sailor), during and after college... but I can't claim any great skills here any more than an ocassional tennis player can fluff up over Wimbledon. But a tip of the hat is in order for this daughter of Olympians who trained for her Gold medal from the crib and came into Athens at the last minute to surge to the top.

Zagunis makes fencing history with sabre gold By Ted Brock, NBCOlympics.com

ATHENS -- American fencer Mariel Zagunis defeated China's Tan Xue 15-9 for the gold medal in women's individual sabre Tuesday evening at the Helliniko Olympic Complex.

Zagunis will go down as the first gold medalist in the history of Olympic women's individual sabre, which made its debut in these Games.

Tuesday marked the first time the U.S. has won a medal in the 80-year history of Olympic women's fencing. Sada Jacobson's 15-7 bronze medal victory over Catalina Gheorghitoaia of Romania preceded Zagunis' gold and made the achievement that much sweeter...

This is posted probably because I found another article online along similar lines. Check this out, pugilism and philosophy:


Boxing and the Cool Halls of Academe
By GORDON MARINO

"Know thyself" was the Socratic dictum, but Tyler Durden, the protagonist in the movie Fight Club, asks, "How much can you know about yourself if you've never been in a fight?" Although trainers of the bruising art wince at the notion that boxing equals fighting, there can be no doubt that boxing throws you up against yourself in revealing ways. Take a left hook to the body or a trip to the canvas, and you soon find out whether you are the kind of person who will ever get up.

For a decade, I have been teaching both boxing and philosophy. My academic colleagues have sometimes reacted to my involvement with the sweet science with intellectual jabs and condescension. A few years ago at a philosophy conference, I mentioned that I had to leave early to go back to the campus to work with three of my boxers from the Virginia Military Institute who were competing in the National Collegiate Boxing Association championships. Shocked to learn that there was such a college tournament, one professor scolded, "How can someone committed to developing minds be involved in a sport in which students beat one another's brains out?" I explained that the competitors wore protective headgear and used heavily padded 16-ounce gloves in competition as well as in practice, but she was having none of it. "Headgear or not," she replied, "your brain is still getting rattled. Worse yet, you're teaching violence."

I countered that if violence is defined as purposefully hurting another person, then I had seen enough of that in the philosophical arena to last a lifetime.

There is a thread I'm pulling that leads me to thoughts of how the martial arts has qualities that are resonant with a part of the art world. For example, in foil fencing (which is all I know, I never cultivated sabres or epees because I felt I had to "dominate" the foil -my instructor's words- first) the target area is a quadrant arrayed over the chest area. The sword arm can only attack in one quadrant at a time, leaving the other three vulnerable to counterattack. An attack disables defense. Fencing is based on the legacy of dueling, where an attack into an attack is insane and therefore an attack requires a parry before one unleashes the riposte. These basic principles underlie all action on the piste. There is something of a limited series of interrelations, more of one diminishes the extent of the other. It's kind of like chess. It's kind of like painting.

Why part of the art world? Most of it has been swooning over the open set, the multimediated, the alternative media.... for a long time now.

Posted by Dennis at 11:29 AM | Comments (3)

Isler and Isler

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Yesterday, the paintings were shipped off to Z?rich early in the morning. The once packed studio is empty and as usual I have mixed feelings. Happy to have the studio for new work, apprehensive that others may not see what I saw when I finished the paintings. Normal.

Sorry to not have captured Marcel's visage in this pic. He's the co-owner of Isler and Isler, brothers who started their own company after many years of working too many hours for nothing in the biggest art handling company in Z?rich. He's very amiable. Although wired. At the time of this shot (Wednesday morning), Marcel has had no sleep since Monday. I offer him coffee but no, he's been eating caffine pills for days. Very humid, we sweat, dripping beads onto the crates. He and his brother are swamped with work, good news. Z?rich will be having many openings soon, a frenzy, my show will be in the middle of it. (A butterfly flutters its' wings in my gut.) Marcel will deadhead to Switzerland with the work.

Ten paintings, five traveling crates built like fine furniture. Marcel parked illegally nearby, asking the policeman along the way if it's ok to leave the van there whilst we load it. The van was new, and the interior was outfitted perfectly for handling art, it looked like an ambulance.

Se?or Policia wasn't happy about the answer, begrudging. Marcel smiles to me on the way back: "In Spain fifteen minutes means an hour." I wince at the stereotype, wanting to remind him that this is Catalonia. But I figure he knows Europe better than I.

An hour and a half later, we finish securing the paintings into the crates, double screwing them, a good job. We do this in the ground floor, hauling the paintings from the studio above. I begin to feel good about it. We load up the dollies and hail the crates to the van... where the policeman has his tow guy there, affixing the yellow boot onto the front wheel. Castelleno ensues, Marcel speaks well. Shrugs, apologies, reassurances. A fine. I am barely hanging on, understanding what's going on. Marcel pulls out his wallet and out pops a crisp 500 Euro note. My eyes widen. No, the fine is less (I wonder if the police wants a bribe?) and Marcel looks for a ready teller, he needs change. Antsy minutes pass and Marcel finds his hundred dollar notes and the policeman is getting uncomfortable. It wasn't two hundred Euro fine, it was twenty two. The policeman was cool, he didn't want the appearance of graft. Marcel, flush with relief, begins to plan for a two hundred Euro drinking party once he returns home.

I hope he makes it back ok.

Posted by Dennis at 3:40 AM | Comments (1)

August 17, 2004

UnderWater

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I wish I had a digital underwater camera to show you all the amazing sights off the coast. Not many people from Tossa partake of the submariner experience here. There are many scuba divers, some tourist snorkelers... but not many locals don the mask and fins. Why? I haven't the slightest.

But the water here is fabulous. Imagine a kid's idea of the perfect aquarium: fishes in schools of several types (sardines, and flat reef fishes, and angel fish kind of silouettes and many others beyond my ability to describe) and rocks and undersea hillsides studded with shellfish (mussels for one) and sea urchins tucked into crevices with the litter of shellfish carapaces they somehow break apart and little reef fish who guard their territory jealously with tails curled up defiantly, and sea grasses and algea and little fans and sponges and the ocassional octopus deep inside rocky grottos, eyes blinking.

I would kick down, equalizing the sinus pressure four or five times as I reached the bottom, as deep as I can stand, the pressure smashing the mask to my face. I would upright myself on the bottom and try to hang out as long possible, like a hardhat diver dan ornament in a kids aquarium, in what looked like thirty feet or so of water, the hillside of the Costa Brava to oneside, the wall of immense blue (words fail now) of the Mediterranean to the other. And the fish were all around in schools, hundreds of them maybe thousands, many types beyond my ability to catalog, small as your fingers as large as two palms, not travelling anywhere but just floating, hanging out, suspended in the briney blue matrix, cerulean blue, emerald hue, aquamarine glowing lens of the sea.

I found this online:

In the waters around the Medes islands we also find a fascinating world suspended in the sea. It is a life made up of millions of micro-organisms which normally cannot be seen by the naked eye. The smallest are the bacteria and ciliforms. Next, slightly bigger, are the grass-green algae, the diatoms and the dinoflagellates which make up the phytoplankton and then, like flees which never stop moving about, we discover the copepods, amphipods, worm larvae, echinoderms, decapodiforms, and sagitta which make up a large part of zooplankton.

If currents are favourable, there is a large accumulation of gelatinous plankton made up of siphonophores, micromedusiforms, ctenophores and salpas (Salpa maxima and Thalia democratica). The large jellyfish are more occasional with the exception of Pelagia noctiluca.

Close to the rocks where the sea breaks hardest we find schools of small silvery fish which in fact are the fry of the transparent goby (Atherina hepsetus), anchovies (Engraulis encrasicholus), bogues (Boops boops), European pilchards (Sardina pilchardus) and saddled bream (0blada melanura). These small fishes serve as food for the big predators -bass (Dicentrarchus labrax), amberjack (Seriola dumerili), barracuda (Sphyraena sphyraena) and Atlantic bonito (Sarda sarda)- which come to the Medes islands.

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The Medes Islands are north of here off Cadaques. Back track from the link above and you can find more information on it.

Posted by Dennis at 9:08 AM | Comments (2)

August 16, 2004

Meet Nacho

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"Lepresente mi amigo nuevo, Nacho"

Permit me to introduce Nacho Arn?, he's Kiko's buddy in a trio of families that hang together for Tossa weekends winter and summer, the third being Xerlo. Nacho and his wife Leslie operate business in the world of motorcycling, motorcycle racing. Their magazine and business is caled "ATTACK".

Thier magazine has expressions interspersed within articles such as this:

EXTREME

They have a little baby girl and a teenager. I will probably botch a description of this world, this being my first exposure to it. My apologies, Nacho! Here goes:

Nacho and his wife not only sell motorcycle parts and clothing (a shop in Barcelona, they rent a place here in Tossa for the summer), but they have a racing team that, from what I can understand with my ability to comprehend Castellano ... in a bar... drinking ...after a day in the sea ... after being sunbaked until you sag from mild radiation poisoning is that he's doing pretty good, winning races. Winning races that is with wreckless young James Dean type lads who care only to win and will do anything it takes because they hae no conception and perhaps an abiding contempt for mortality, all this with the media sucking it up like flies to... to... sugarwater (?).

Sorry, I got all hyperextended there.

SUPERSPORT

They've got a backer for their small team "JoeDarcey" (the combined names of Nacho and Leslie's daughters), an Irishman who made his fortune in gold and diamonds. It seems he's a likeable guy... not because of all the precious materials and all, but nacho tells funny sotries about him.

"El maravilla es una pieza mas de la colecc?on de motos de carreras de nuestro amigo Gerard. Un se?or irland?s al que le apasionan las carreras de motos y que ha querido dar upportunidad a Diego Lozano, piloto trabajador y talentoso.
-fragment of editorial from "ATTACK Shopping", No. 8.

SUPERBIKE

He's the tall guy in the shorts in the photo above. The drawing is Nach?s handiwork.

CHALLENGE THE LIMITS

They publish a magazine from which these fotos were taken. The magazine doubles as a features mag and a catalogue.

WORLD CHAMPIIONSHIP!

Here's some shots of their bikes:
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EL FINAL

Posted by Dennis at 9:09 AM | Comments (1)

August 14, 2004

Flamenco Lesson

Another vignette from the other night...

We were in Bar Tahiti, the place was crowded, the dance floor and the tables, everywhere people. And they were all grooving on the singer who was spanking his guitar. Well, they all spank their guitars here. One singer thinks he's all that, singing with a a knowing wink... he bugged me. This guy would stop in mid song, expecting the crowd to continue singing as he lights his cigarette. The next one was more direct and workmanlike, more to my liking. Just sing the song cantadero.

What was funny is that not only do the people know the lyrics and not only do they sing along but sometimes they will sing back up, the doo-wop parts. On top of this, they are dancing up a storm, Flamenco stylin'. And our new acquaintence, the young lad and born again Catalan, Marc was on the floor. He orbitted (shimmy shimmy) to where we were parked in the club and offered us a quick lesson on how to dance Flamenco style:

"You must enact the taking of an apple from a tree..."

Reaching dramatically for an apple above one's head, Marc plucks the virtual apple from the bough. I'm a sucker for visualizations and I see the leaves rustling and the branch snapping up and down.

"Then you must eat the apple!"

Marc takes a theatrical bite, a lusty smile, one imagines a huge chunk is chomped maybe the juice is running down your neck, the chunk maybe is too big in your mouth you lusty thing you.

All of this is instructed to us, while Marc's lower body is rotating around a different axis, his hips are countering the swing of his shoulders, the feet are happy feet tippy tippy tappy all over the place.

The hands rotate in circles, scribing arcs pivoting from the wrist, circle forward wrist down circle forward palms up and the fingers positioned like the hands of sculptured saints in ecstacy, a ballet drama, a whole act invovlving the five fingers each having attitude in controposto to each other. Invisible castenets. It's a good thing they aren't barefoot, I can't imagine the toes doing the same thing.

"Then you must throw the apple to the ground!"

A Flamenco move, a theatrical motion mixing pleasure with disgust as if the apple is a lover who has betrayed you or you are wontonly casting away a true love. Oh, the humanity of it all!

"And you must step on it!"

Marc's foot was smashing down virtually crushing the imaginary apple. Then he points to the hips as they arc from side to side, a life of their own and that life lived separate from the happy feet as he tappy tappy tippy tappies off into the crowd body rubbing virtual sex all over the place.

That, my friends is how you dance Flamenco.

UPDATE:
Kiko's wife Teresa tells us that this interpretation is from Seville. Evidently, there are many others.

Posted by Dennis at 2:33 AM | Comments (1)

August 13, 2004

?Quien es mas Catalan?

Last night, we have dinner with Kiko, a bar-b-que on our new terrace, the one Kiko built. a great night with gentle warm breezes, a big sky bowl overhead, the towers of the old town framing the tree topped lit up hill with seagulls illuminated by the pueblo's night lighting as they fly aloft, all this as the lighthouse atop the hill flashing its beacon in rotation.

We brindemos together, a great moment to savor. Kiko wants to learn English, so Stephanie and I stay comfortably in our native language to help him out. Later, Kiko's friend Xerlo (pronounced "Cherlo" or "Sherlo", kind of like how the Catalans spell chocolate: "xocolate"), a guy who owns a garage and is living the good life. They have bought a boat recently and the Zodiac had sprung a leak... (Kiko: "It was like a swimming pool in the sea!") Xerlo turned around and bought a 6 meter replacement with a v-8 engine. Images of speed boat racing spun in our heads.

After the chicken and grilled vegetables, we go out for drinks at Kiko's insistence. Our arms didn't have to be twisted too hard, but we knew the chances of getting home round five-ish was great.

The first stop was the bar Sa Barca. Along the way, Kiko shows us the various projects he has built in Tossa over the years... and there are many. Kiko has this love of the rustica manner of traditional construction... after seeing what the local developers had been doing here in Tossa with the cheesy cheap construction here and there, this town ought to knight Kiko straight out.

Sa Barca is another bar in which Kiko had done work, and Kiko tells us that he had advised the owner to anticipate the various improvement to come: "You must put money away every month to take care of this problem.", I was pleasantly amazed that Kiko could track and lead his line up of future work in such a practical, intimate and amiable way.

We meet their friend, the camarero Marc... a young lad we had thought he was Catalan, he is enthusiastic for the independance of Catalonia. He is problably in early twenties, I wouldn't be surprised if he was still in his teens, precocious. Full of energy and funny, he was eager to practice his English, a language he learned from pop songs. And he spoke accordingly, I wish I cuold recount a bit of it, sometimes he was hilarious.

The great blog Iberian Notes mentioned the recent brouhaha concerning the symbols of Spain versus Catalonia:

Here's the goofy new bit of Catalooniness. for the last couple of years it's become popular among many Spanish young folks to wear T-shirts with the profile of the Osborne bull on them. Osborne is a big maker of brandy down in Jerez--their most popular brand is Veterano, which is just fine to dump in your coffee in the morning. Their symbol is a profile of a bull in black, and they began putting up huge signs with their bull symbol all over Spain on the highways way back when, I guess something like the old Burma-Shave signs there used to be all over the US. So, the Osborne bull has become sort of symbolic, like an old-time thing that everyone knows about that's always been there. And some smart guy started printing the Osborne bull on T-shirts, and people thought it was cool and bought them. Then people started putting little Osborne bull stickers on the back of their cars...

...So the Cataloonies decided they needed to hit back against this Osborne bull epidemic. They've come out with two sticker and T-shirt possibilities: one is the typical Catalan donkey, which is on at least one of every ten cars, and the other is a black cat (CAT = Catalonia, get it?), which seems to be much less popular. Some people, I guess as a joke, have started putting on stickers of a moose in profile. I'm not sure what that would have to do with anything.


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Note here that the Bull is well endowed, cojones and penis are notable. ?Que Guiy!

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The burro has been described as something stupid ("...tanto, tanto, tanto..."), a contrary response to the bull. But I think that for the people who adorn their property with this image, they must not be saying that they are less than their other. And surely the burro is known for qualities of hidden strength as opposed to the obvious strengths of Castille, and this is in accord with how Catalans describe themselves: thrifty, industrious, direct, dependable, etc. Plus, the burro is kind of funny in his stubborness. You can almost detect a wink... or am I projecting?

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Note here that there are male and female donkeys. Nubbins signify thusly.

So naturally at the bar, we talk of the toro and the burro. Nearly every Catalan or Spanaird will surprise you with their response. These guys weigh in, mostly amused by the issue, dismissive. Young Marc however interjects:

"No, Catalonia is a cat!"

I had thought we had a passionate Catalan here. (I've been looking for the Cat, stay tuned for the image.) I'm curious about the separatist issue, I wonder how volitile it is, I mean it wasn't that long ago they were sacking the church, family against family. Right now, I estimate things are stable, but if more of these lads like Marc show up, I will start to stockpile provisions.

As we walk to the next bar. we discover that Marc is not born in Catalonia. He is from the south of Spain: "You do not have to be born a Catalan to be a Catalan, being Catalan is a state of mind.." Amazing. Very interesting. I remember Robert Hughes mentioning the supple flexibility of Catalan nationalism in its ability to assimilate immigrants... and here it was, a living example.

I wonder, could Stephanie and I become Catalan too?

Posted by Dennis at 11:49 AM | Comments (6)

Cool Car

There's this super cool car we see every time we cross this part of Tossa. I know nothing about it. Perhaps there is someone out there in the blogoverse who does?

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Isn't it great? I wonder how the owner of this deals with the winter months? I think there's a car club thing going on, I've seen others of this kind now and then.

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Posted by Dennis at 10:43 AM | Comments (1)

Sugar Bear

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Posted by Dennis at 10:37 AM | Comments (3)

August 12, 2004

Style

Here's an interesting article I found via ArtsJournal.com (I'm on their maillist, a hot tip for you):

The Strunk-and-White people privilege readers, viewing them as delicate invalids, likely to scurry off to their bedchambers when faced with any sentence diverging in the slightest from the plain style. (Using another metaphor, White wrote that his old teacher Strunk "felt that the reader was in serious trouble most of the time, a man floundering in a swamp, and that it was the duty of anyone attempting to write English to drain this swamp quickly and get his man on dry ground, or at least throw him a rope.") At the other extreme, the Goldberg group coddles the writer the way an overindulgent parent would a sensitive child: Are you sure you've shared everything that's on your mind or in your heart?

Like almost everything else, these two camps and their tussle have historical roots. Since ancient Greece, people interested in language have argued whether it should be primarily a means of expression (Gorgias, the original sophist) or of communicating truth (Socrates and Plato, the Strunk and White of their time). The first camp favors eloquence and doubts the existence of external "reality"; the second favors clarity and has few doubts about anything. Dominance has tended to swing back and forth between the two, like a pendulum. (Very) broadly speaking, Camp One held sway in the Renaissance and Camp Two in the 18th century. Romanticism shoved the pendulum all the way back, with a new wrinkle articulated by Comte de Buffon in 1753: "Style is the man himself." That was probably the first and certainly the most striking articulation of the Charlie Parker/Julia Child notion of style as individual expression and revelation. Such 19th-century writers as Gustave Flaubert, Walter Pater, and Walt Whitman took the idea to extremes, putting forth style as a unique, supreme, and sometimes mystical expression of soul.

The more things change...

Posted by Dennis at 2:26 AM | Comments (0)

August 11, 2004

Titulos

The best way to come up with a title is to let it bubble up from the depths. But over these months painting the group of paintings going to Z?rich, I had been staring at the depths seeing only a few bubbles but no soggy titles had yet popped to the surface.

During this time, I was aware of the shortcoming and the solution was to act nonchalant. I assured myself that the answer would present itself shortly. Be cool, you're a verterano. No problem, chill.

But as the day of the shipping approached (today), only bubbles gurgled from the depths. Only bubbles.

Now, this isn't serendipitous because looking for fortune negates the very definition of serendipity. And while it might be kismet, this noun falls short of description because fate has no need for individual will.

Because a conscious will is involved, the word dowsing seems more appropriate. And to us this term, a thicket of folkloric weeds have to be disentangled from it. Images of country yahoos wandering through the woods gripping a divining rod, or the standard cinema plot device as in Rob Riener's classic and non-standard "Princess Bride" where Mandy Patinkin as Inigo Montoya is lost, mid-journey and his last resort is to divine the answer:

CUT TO:

INIGO
He kneels, the sword held tight between his hands. Eyes closed, he faces the grove of trees, starts to talk, his voice low and strange.

INIGO
"Father, I have failed you for twenty years. Now our misery can end. Somewhere ... somewhere close by is a man who can help us. I cannot find him alone. I need you. I need you to guide my sword. Please."

And now he rises, eyes still closed.

INIGO
"Guide my sword."

CUT TO:

THE GROVE OF TREES
as Inigo, eyes shut tight, walks forward, the great sword held in his hands.

FEZZIK, frightened, follows close behind.

CUT TO:

THE SECRET KNOT
that reveals the staircase.

CUT TO:

INIGO
walking blind through the grove of trees. He moves to the Secret Knot, hesitates, then moves past it.

Then Inigo stops. For a long moment he stands frozen. Suddenly he whirls, eyes still closed, and the sword strikes home dead center into a knot and --

Nothing. He has failed.

In utter despair he collapses against the tree. Against a knot in the tree. Against THE KNOT in the tree. It slides away, revealing the staircase. FEZZIK and Inigo look at each other, then start down.

(reeling myself back in here...)
OK, so I come from the generation weaned on the stuff of Joseph Campbell. But there is something to the final resort to surrender and the trust of instinct (so somesuch thing). Didn't Dante require the guidance of two emmisaries as he walks into the depths of the Inferno, with Virgil as the symbol of reason who can only take him part way, leaving Beatrice, the personification of Love to conduct him to the end? By all this, I mean to say that creating, inventing titles for my paintings has to be something more than a rational calculation... and at the same time, I'm suspicious of purely emotive ejaculation.

(Well, who wouldn't?)

There was a time when I refrained from titles, wanting to number or somesuch alternative. A dealer and onetime friend convinced me back in the day that titles are necessary. But his idea of necessity was different from mine. From his point of view, titles allow convenient handles for the art market to work with. Traction for transactions. Imagine a dealer and collector on the telephone: "What's the price of the blue-red one that's four by five feet?" Which one, say again? I didn't care much for arguments of convenience.

But the idea of titles as something like a highway sign began to dawn for me. I didn't want paintings to be signs pure and simple... the totalizing ideology of art-as-sign was the intellectual regime of the artworld of the late 80's and the emphasis on the flesh of paint was my rebellion to those days and whatever else of that mindset that still remains. I wanted titles to be suggestive, indexical arrows and I wanted the domains of knowledge/information that the title refers to be bigger than whatever puny efforts I have exerted within them.

Years ago, I came across Benedetto Croceand I gleaned a few notions about intution from him:

Croce essentially identifies intuition with expression: one is a complex of feeling and thought, while the other is the image that derives from it, but for Croce they are the interior and exterior views of the same thing. Logically, we cannot have an intuition without a corresponding expression; that would be like talking about a poem inside us that we are incapable of writing down. People do talk that way from time to time, of course, but others are entitled to doubt whether the poem is really there. The reason we may think we have intuitions that we cannot express is that most of our intuitions (like our memories) are vague and cloudy; when we come to actualize them, we realize this and put the fault down to poor technique. What differentiates artists from the rest of us is that artists' intuitions are clearer than ours and become clearer still in the process of expression.

Given Croce's idealism, the third factor in the artistic process, communication, is relatively insignificant. If intuition and expression exist in the artist's mind, then the work of art exists; its actualization as matter, as words on paper or paint on canvas, is a comparatively trivial issue and one that, for Croce, has nothing to do with aesthetics as such. In Croce's aesthetic the poem comes into existence when the poet silently recites its words, the painting when the artist has fully visualized it, the song when the composer has heard its melody in his or her head. Communication is crucial, of course, to the appreciation of the work of art by anyone other than the artist. And here technique becomes important. For the audience, the process works backwards: we move from the actualization to the expression until we have apprehended the lyrical intuition with which the artist began.
It is important to recall that these three steps are presented in a logical, but not necessarily a temporal, order. Croce is not under the illusion that a work comes into being full-blown in the artist's head and only then is transferred to some material form. Poets have their drafts, and painters their sketches, and Croce is well aware that artists constantly refine and reshape their work, that they move, in his terms, from the act of expression to that of communication and back again.


(Emphasis Added)

By the time the "actualization" of the "expression" has driven you to apprehend the "lyrical intution, you are looking for any and all historical context to help shine a light on your subject. You have to mine the well of mental content, detective work. What were they thinking, who were they talking to, what was the historical context, etc.? (Hence, this weblog... I consider this to be a bibliography, arrows pointing that-a-way.)

I don't claim to be a philosopher or even have a toehold on Croce's ideas, but as I first read his writing, I had a distinct mental image of the relation of intuition to rational knowledge: that intuition is the result of a deep (below the conscious threshold) comingling of ideas thrown into the mind, the intersections of which show above the surface of awareness as intuition. In short, if you wanted great intuition, you had to have a robust reserviour of ideas/experience (stuff like that)... you have to be curious, open and insatiable.

Titles point toward those thoughts. Significant Mental Content, that-a-way.

By the time I finished the last painting for the show, nothing yet had bubbled. Still nonchalant, I let the time pass, thinking and hoping that at any moment, some conception of the nature of the titles would appear. The final painting was done on a Saturday... then the days elapsed one after the other. At one point I considered plotting the solution, charting a matrix of thoughts and rigging a calculus of titling... then I reconsidered. It would only be a jury-rig, makeshift, false. I had expected the pick up date for the paintings to be today (later to find that it would be a week later). Then this morning broke. I was in bed, I had just awoke , the task still a heavy weight. All that time pissed away.

And then, a thought appeared.

The blog!

The titles are already in the blog, functional, direct, unaffected. They didn't have to be conjured, they existed already. Blogposts have been structured by Movable Type to tag each entry with a title. It didn't create them with posterity in mind for they are handles, no more. Selecting titles culled from the blog became the solution, sometimes from blogpost titles themselves, sometimes selcted from the content.

The titles:

ww#210 La Primera Vez
ww#212 Breathing Room
ww#213 Painting Past a Future
ww#214 Out of the Head
ww#215 Thirty Hours
ww#216 Up for Air
ww#217 Muchos Cosas
ww#218 Grace
ww#219 Bound
ww#220 Congealment

Now, let's see if I still like them in the morning....


Posted by Dennis at 9:28 AM | Comments (1)

August 8, 2004

Let's Go

What follows is beastial and base. Click on at your own risk.

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Let's go for a walk!

After all the studio time, I've let the business garden go to seed. It's all in a carbboard box: all reciepts in a plastic bag, all my files are as yet unpacked, all the stuff in a heap. Lots and lots of documentation to take care of.

Bleh.

Much of this organization is conducted on this here laptop. It's a hot month, the heat lingers past midnight. And even though we retreat to the inner reccesses of our stone house, the humidity lingers. And here in this room is our dog juno, at our feet, panting, tongue distended, her body heaving witht the force of her exhalations. Soon, we are rebreathing the oxygen delpeated spiked humidity of supercharged dog breath.

Bleh.

It's been a full day since she's been out to go potty. Surely we can take a break for some coffee or something. "

Juno, would you..."

She already knows what's up, fluffing up.

"...like to go..."

She's spinning around already.

"...FOR A WALK?"

Yes, yes, happy, happy, joy, joy!

We're on our way.

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Whe you take a dog to go potty here, you've got two choices: the beach or behind the church. While pooping on G-d's back do' is fast, the beach offers more chances to stop for coffee or something. To the beach we go.

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Juno is the ambassador here. She introduced us to the House of Fun, our neighbors who live as much on the street as inside. These people are taking the summer seriously. Serious spearfishermen, I've seen their catch of fish and octopus on the street.

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The short stop of choice is a pit stop at bar Josep, but not today. We've had people come over and tell us of the history of our house. It used be called "Can Marcelino", a bar where the fishermen in town would hang out. People would even bring their own sardines and cook them in the fireplace. Big barrells of wine. Several people here have given us glimpses of that history at different times, and once one openly winced that a couple of Yankees have a piece of Tossa history. And that person was from Barcelona. No offense, Catalonia.

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Now, bar Josep has taken the mojo from Can Marcelino. This bar is well broken in.

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The evil deed.

Go caganera!

I'll have the world know that we bag and trash the poop. We are the only ones to do this in town. I have handled all material that has gone into this animal and what has come out.

THAT, my friends, is love.

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We decide to go to the little bars on the edge of the beach, tables in the sand. Along the way, a city sponsored volley ball event thingy was animating the paseo. Tossa is my model of how a city should meet the sea.

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From the table, more sports with a backdrop. The lady got beaned with the ball.

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Two canyas, chips, a nice end of the day.

Posted by Dennis at 4:09 PM | Comments (0)

Two in Rapid Succesion

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After the larger paintings, I had ideas I wanted to extend and two smaller panels to exercise them on. These two brings the number of paintings bound for Z?rich to ten, the best I can do as we settle into the Costa Brava.
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The last three paintings are taking a turn and I wanted to try to make this vivid in this post. It is in the use of paint applied and immediately removed. It comes from a longstanding practice of scooping paint, a removal, a figuration from evacuation. (Here's a painting in a blogpost on a painting that illustrates this.)

I had used it to establish large flat areas. In the last painting, you might notice the large marbelized areas, an experiment that was. In that last painting and these two subsequent ones, I used the blue and marbleized areas as a starting point and as a kind of drawing to establish the direction of the compostion.

These flat areas have the potential for drawing (dibujar), and it has a promise of extending a composition (larger), these frenetic marks figuring terminal ends of blob forms that provoke the figural. There was a cartoon in the thirties where one of the characters was a blobby, ghostly form with whiskers and a hat... on the fraying edge of my memory.

But I'm entertaining two contradictory ideas.

One one hand, I seem to have noodled my way out of the scale limitation of the way I've been painting for so long. By beginnning with a trowel of paint over the whole surface of the painting, the intensity I want to bring in this all prima method kept me within a certain size, the scale of outstretched arms. (Big exception: a couple of four meter paintings right before we left LA.)

Now, with the extendability of these initial drawings (pushing or throwing the paint on describes an edge, volume of color and edge of the outline are what remain after the paint is sheared off. Now, a painting can be any size because this "drawing" can be laid down relatively quickly.

Add to this the possiblity of working section to section as traditional muralists do and size is not problem. And to reiterate, working alla prima is easy when the painting is the size of one's arms outstretched... hard when it approaches instutional scale.

And this leads us to the other hand: this scale limitation might be worth fighting for. To keep the art experience in the intimate scale implied: the-you-are-there of standing in front of a painting within environments closer in scale to habitation than stadiums. Would Morandi have worked the way he did in today's wharehouse sized exhibition spaces? Tuttle certainly didn't have to.

Do I have to? Of course not. Do I want to? I'm not sure right now.

Details:
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The first consequence of laying down the marbleiszed forms is that an open skein of paint is necessary, a net of mark making becomes desireable. As always, I want the best of every touch or mark of paint to show from the beginning to the end, each touch limiting the next, a chain of edits or masks covering the worst of each mark and showcasing the best aspects of form. I've always liked to see raw canvas in the middle of a heavily worked painting, evidence of grace under fire.

Here's a detail of the second of these smaller panels, the last painting painted for the group of paintings bound for a theshow in Z?rich.
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Unlike the last larger painting, I'm not pulling the compostion to the edges of the frame. I followed the simplicity and kept from pulling the paint to the edges, allowing a figural congealment around the first flat marbleizing actions.
Fewer marks, more suggestion per mark.

This last pic is distorting the color, the red (alizarin crimson dented towards indian red with black and burnt umber), so here's a close-up to correct the record:
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AH, that's better.

... but the green is off. Oh well. That's color for you.

Posted by Dennis at 8:53 AM | Comments (1)

August 6, 2004

Things

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In this work, the relation between things in themselves (abstraction) and things described (representation) is like the moon to tides.

Posted by Dennis at 9:50 AM | Comments (0)

August 4, 2004

Spontaneous Formations

This world wide web thingy is frickin' amazing:

When Spirit began transmitting in January, space fans downloaded 35 terabytes of visual data from NASA's servers in less than a week. And they're not just loading up on screensavers. They're putting their image-processing software to the test, hunting for signs of life, past and present. Since the 1960s, when NASA probes sent back the first shots of Mars, amateurs have filled their files with curiosities. Their conclusions: worms, trees, UFOs, pyramids, subway stations, giant fungi, fossils, buried cities, and, of course, the famous face. According to EBTX.com, a Web site devoted to "figuring out the universe" and run by 56-year-old "E.B. from Texas," amateur investigators don't look for the sorts of general principles that attract most scientists. "We look to the anomalous features," says E.B.

What is intersting is not the curious creatures detected by the independent researchers but:

1. The spontaneous analysis of the Mars images over the web using widely available software.

2.I've always had an eye on the amateur astronomy world and what is interesting is the open door and deep water that characterises the conversation animated within.

3. How we see things in things.

4. That amateurs do it for love.

5. Dendrite formation, it's how bushes and brains and life works.

Posted by Dennis at 5:59 AM | Comments (0)

The Kitchen is the Thought

The prupose of this blog is to provide a virtual visit to the studio, and every so often, context seeps in as an acknowledgement of wider implications of influence running both to the paintings and out into the world again.

I've just came across this New Yorker article about the 3-11 attacks in Spain. Politics is so hot now, I've kept it separate so as not to get pulled by the rip tide of current events. This is a painting blog, not a political blog, there are so many political ones out there on the web anyway. But we are living in Spain now, and context matters. This article by Lawrence Wright is intense, informative and a must read:

Soon after the attacks of September 11th, the imam had a dream about Fakhet. ?Sarhane was in his kitchen, cooking on the stove,? he recalled. ?I saw what he was cooking was a big pot of worms. He tried to give me a plate of the food to eat. I said no. I said, ?Please clean the kitchen!?? Days later, the imam confronted Fakhet. ?This is a message from God!? the imam said to him. ?The kitchen is the thought, and the thought is dirty.? Fakhet didn?t respond. ?He?s a very cold person,? the imam told me.
Posted by Dennis at 2:22 AM | Comments (0)

August 3, 2004

I Meant To Do That

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No, this is not an atttempt at a contemporary "Factum I&II". Usually, I work both flat and on the wall. Usually, I end up flat to let the paint jell and skin and hold itself up. This time, I guess I didn't let it stay down long enough.

A recent incorporation of paint spplied and sheared off to reveal large areas. I'll call them "removals". Similar to much scooping and removal of paint, this one is of a kind but different in that it is one of, if not the first acts in such a painting. As a result, a surface is made slick and the monads (the spiny hemispherical elements) will move following gravity.

An accident, and I like it. I think I'll try racing a bunch of monads down a slick removal in the next little painting.

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Posted by Dennis at 10:51 AM | Comments (0)

Swirl

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Swinging from painting to painting, there was time to hang with some friends, visiting recently from ChinaTown LA. As Dave and Phil rolled in from the Pardo installation opening at La Caixa Foundation, I was literally laying the last licks.

"Nuestro vida es corta." Do it all. Soon enough, we will winter here and think of the companionship of old friends from Los Angeles. We miss them sono enough, so it's hard to defer the fellowship at hand.

I've had bad photo karma during most of the visit. Since so much time was spent in the water, I think we will need a waterproof digital camera someday soon. There is such a visual richness going on out there, I'd like to try to convey it to you all.

Most of the images here were shot in the last night of the visit. I would write about the recreation, but seeing it in print just doesn't cut it. Somehow, writing in detail just brings it down.

Suffice it to say that it was... good. (Many adjectives have just been erased.)

Damn good.
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Bettina and her sister Bolyn were traveling in Europe together and a day or two of Barcelona can be traded easily for time spent in Tossa. They arrived on a Friday with plans to stay a night. One night became two.

At one point, I said that the fun meter has just been broken. We had just returned from a two hour Zodiac boat ride with the five of us. Phil opted out, having had his fill of boatrides in his youth. Bouncing and holding on for our lives, Kiko unleashed a some type "A" behaviour at the helm of a boat he co-owns with his pals Nacho and Cherlo. We had just toured the caves and nooks North and South of Tossa.

Bettina's response: "Does that mean we can't have any more fun?" Later that night, Bettina was shaking her groove thang (photos below) until the sun came up.
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Bolyn is a research scientist whose company is trying to cure cancer. As far as I can understand, they are using viruses, a variant from a military bio warfare research legacy, a virus that was customised to be a microbiological truck as vehicles to administer an engineered genetic code that will effect a immunological response eradicating cancer cells. She spoke of this in very certain terms, very confident. (G-dspeed to her.) Her Ph.d work was in immunology.

I got to ask her my favorite questions: "What is life, actually?" As I had read and seen the images of mitosis and mieosis of cell division in high school, I had wondered where the motive force comes from to orchestrate the ballet of life. G-d, is that you there? If molecules link into proteins and proteins into more complicated (cellular) structures, is life just a cascade of events? Are we more like rocks rolling down hills?

Her answer: "We don't know."

At one point we were all walking together and Kiko said to Bolyn in his initimable Catalan accent, "I think you are going to cure the cancer, Belen." (There is a name in Spanish, "Belen", and this is how Bolyn pronounces her name.) Bolyn pipes up, "Fuck cancer, I want to stay in Tossa!" (I know this might sound rough, but it was exotic coming from her mouth. You had to be there.)
dave.jpg
Naturally but with caution (like samauri warriors, the unsheathed sword must taste blood before it returns), we three painters spoke of painting. Dave and Phil went to undergrad together in Illinois. Phil went to the San Fransisco Art institute, where he met Joel Mesler, and where they both were influenced by the cranky yet exciting and challenging painter there, Sam Tchikalian. Dave went to the Chicago Art Institute. I got the impression that artists of that generation (the most recent, the 90's) saw the figural as the task at hand and process art as an older agenda... perhaps as an exhausted mine.

Dave's work seems literary to me, images of owls, overgrown monuments, seascapes... spooky stuff, lots of glazing and dark colors. He makes installations and he relates the paintings to whole floors made of wood reclaimed from cargo pallettes ( a show at DianePruess a couple of years ago). He seems to be drawn to moody colors and motifs (yea, but he did buy a kitten lamp when he was here). One night, the Prussian Blue of the sea caught his eye (that's what Tossa will do to you). I can compare his work to that of Steve Hanson's ballpoint Victorian night street scenes. Dickens. Two points are enough for me to dead recon a course. Steve isn't a literary expert but his wife Frances Stark might be, and that's enough to take the concept to the bank.

I think my interpretation may have surprised him, but Edgar Allen Poe seems the fit comparison here. The Yankee Victorian era had laid the foundation for Goths to come. But it would be wrong to think of Dave's work in Goth terms... he is not affected as you might see in his picture (no black lipstick for example)... but the imagery in the way he renders indexes to Poe, and I mean that as a compliment (or a good intentioned observation). I think that the time of Poe offers otherworldly imaginative possibilities barely explored today in our virtual times.
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Phil managed to take off without leaving me his CD of images of his recent paintings. That's too bad since they were pretty interesting. It looks to me that he's got a groove going on (no pressure, Phil). He's been rendering images of his favorite things, figures from his artworld: Picasso, his shirtless back to the viewer (camera?), in a cocked bowler hat... a younger Frieda... a younger Guston (it liiks like from the LA muralist years)... Jonathon Lasker in profile, his checkered jacket a riot of marks....

All this, rendered mainly in black and white, with an occassional tint of color here and there. And the rendering is coherent enough to deliver the figure but loose to rely on the ocassional accident (a so-called accident) of the hand. Fresh. And extendable, lots of things to come it seems.

---Phil, send me the disk if you can, and get some of Dave's stuff too!

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Now, until these guys met Kiko, we have already been having a good time. No doubt they would have gone home in a rosey glow, brimming with stories to tell. But Kiko stepped up and broke the fun meter. At the time this picture was shot, we had been swimming and snorkeling and bouncing on a zodiac in the Mediterranean, we had been to the bars Flamenco, El Pirata, San Antoni and as the sun began to rise, the local disco Tu Rai.
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Kiko and his wife Teresa and Nacho's wife Leslie and Bettina and Bolyn danced gleefully on the dance floor. The rest of us hung on the preimeter and wriggled a bit, Dave jumping in and out. Phil was a ranger, belly to the bar. Nacho sells motorcycle products, there's a huge motorbike culture over here. Nacho was trying to communicate (a perpetual smile framed in whispy whiskers trimmed in the latest style) in fractured English, these poetic concepts: "The moon is not the important thing, it is the moon (reflected) in the sea... and it gives (us) a road..." and then he invented a new word (I forget) to decribe this moon-road to where, I don't know.
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Tu Rai is the club people here go to when they plan to party to the break of dawn. The club is skinned inside in rusting steel, big plates and messy welds. On the corner atop the counter is a model of the first Catalan submarine. In Robert Hughes' "Barcelona", he devotes eight or so pages(pages 264 and on) to the story of the invention of this underwater vehicle:

And the submarine worked. There were a few glitches and leaks, caused by damage from a botched launching in june 1859. But that September, Ictineo made her first public trials in Barcelona Harbor, followed by a flotilla of excursion boats with hundreds of people on board: deputies, professors, scientists, journalists, and the merely curious. She swam in a stately manner along the surface, filled her tanks, dived, surfaced again, dived again. Her descents were short, because she carried no air supply beyond what was in her small hull at normal pressure. But by the end of the day she was a success, and Narcis Monturiol was a local hero, acclaimed as a veritable Catalan Leonardo da Vinci.
turai.jpg
Posted by Dennis at 9:58 AM | Comments (0)

August 2, 2004

Pep Talk

I've just found this:

So you want to be more creative, in art, in business, whatever. Here are some tips that have worked for me over the years:


1. Ignore everybody.


The more original your idea is, the less good advice other people will be able to give you. When I first started with the biz card format, people thought I was nuts. Why wasn't I trying to do something more easy for markets to digest i.e. cutey-pie greeting cards or whatever?

Read it when you feel a little lost.

Scrolling through and linking to the main page, I find this nugget:

Or painters. You spend one month painting blue pictures because that's the color the celebrity collectors are buying this season ("Cash"), you spend the next month painting red pictures because secretly you despise the color blue and love the color red ("Sex").

Well, nobody's perfect. Certainly there are some painters who do this... I can't think of any right off the bat. Oh yea, I heard that Serra is selling his political posters like crazy. I'll bet David Hockney has this down to a science.

Posted by Dennis at 9:52 AM | Comments (0)

Malo

bebe.jpg
In our Spanish class (l'Study), our teacher Elena wants us to listen to the music and begin to recognise the lyrics. So this time, we deciphered the lyrics to Bebe's hit, "Malo". Unlike most summer pop music here, this one isn't a simplistic repetition of love blah blah blah. It's about domestic violence.

Here's a link. Click around, there's a bio and more.

Here's the lyrics:

These are the lyrics given in the class, the website has a better transcription, but I have a rough translation:

Bebe
?Malo?

Apareciste una noche fria

He appeared one cold night

Con olor a tabaco sucio a ginebra
Withthe smell of tabaccoand Gin

El miedo ya me recorr?a
This fear goes through me

Mientras cruxaba los deditos tras la puerta
I hear you and I cross my fingers

Tu carita de ni?o guapo se te ha ido comiendo el tiempo
Your handsome face is eaten by time

Por tus venas
In your viens

Y tu seguridad machista se refleja cada dia en mis lagrimitas
Your macho attitude is relfected in my tears

(estribillo- chorus)
Una vez m?s, no por favor

One more time, please, no

Estoy cans? y no puedo con el coraz?n
I?m tired and my heart is not willing

Una vez m?s, no mi amor, por favor, no grites
One more time, no my live, please don?t shout

Que los ni?os duerme
The children are sleeping

Voy a volverme como el fuego

I became the fire

Voy a quemar tu puno de acero
I'm going to burn your fist of steel

Y del morao de mis mejillas
And the bruise of my cheeks

Saldra el valor para cobrame las heridas
I will thus have courage to show my wounds

Malo, Malo, Malo eres

You are a bad, bad, bad person

No se da?a a quien se quiere, no
You cannot hurt the people you love

Tonto, Tonto, Tonto eres
You are a stupid, stupid, stupid person

No te pienses mejor que las mujeres
Don?t think you are better than women

El dia gris cuando tu estas

That grey day you were here

Y el Sol vuelve a salir
And the sun returns when you leave

Cuando te vas, y la penita de mi coraz?n
When you go the pain in my heart

Yo me la tengo que tragar
I have to swallow (repression)

Como el fog?n
(Stove) I?m cooking

Tu carita de ni?a linda
Your face is beautiful

Se ha ido envejecido son el silencio
But you look older with the silence

Cada vez que me dices Puta
Everytime you call me Cunt

Se hace tu celebro m?s peque?o
Your brain becomes smaller

...poruqe quieres

...because you want

Malo, malo... no me chilles porque me duele
Bad, bad.... don?t shout because it hurts me

Eres debil y eres malo
You are weak and you are bad

No te pienses mejor que yo, ni que nadie
You think you are better than I? but you are not

Y ahora me fumo un cigarito, te hecho el fumo
And now I smokd the cigarette and I blow the smoke

En el corazoncito... porque malo, malo, malo eres, tu, si siempre
In your small heart, you are bad, bad, bad, you are, if always

bebe2.jpg

Posted by Dennis at 8:27 AM | Comments (0)