September 14, 2019

The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters


The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters
Oil on Canvas over Wood Panel


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Head of a Deer


Head of a Deer
97.5 x 76.2 cm
Oil on Canvas over Wood Panel


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Martyrdom of Saint Philip


Martyrdom of Saint Philip
97.5 x 76.2 cm
Oil on Canvas over Wood Panel


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Jacob's Dream


Jacob's Dream
180 x 160
Oil on Canvas over Wood Panel


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Meadow of San Isidro


Meadow of San Isidro
122 x 244 cm
Oil on Canvas over Wood Panel


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50 Years Ago

It was 1969, I was 13 years old.

My family was traveling to Australia at the time, taking space available embassy flights chain connecting US Airbases along the way via Europe, the MidEast, India, Thailand and the Philippines. It was an adventure to be sure, but also it was par for the course. My life story is as convoluted as diverse, hard to recount simultaneously fully and succinctly. Pardon me if I demur today in this post. Maybe an 11th hour memoir can do the job someday?

One of the links on the chain was Madrid. I was born there, and the capital city always had a special aura in my imagination. I was drawing and thinking about art since before kindergarten. One of my early memories was the allure of grandma's box of Ticonderoga pencils tucked in her cabinet drawers. I remember the power of the smell of wood and eraser, the marvel of crumbling lead, the mysteries of sharpening. In the years in between, I matriculated the challenges of art (self) education, until the years just before the trip to Australia when I was reading texts on art history (it could have been Helen Gardner's famous book, I don't exactly remember) and copying the illustrations in the margins. Just before we left CONUS on that trip, I had just finished reading Irving Stone's "Agony and the Ecstasy". Every page was a jewel.

So it was when my parents dropped me off at the Prado like a day care center. Later that week, I took a bus to Toledo to see El Greco (by myself as memory serves, a personal growth milestone at the time), where I learned of the liberties that could be taken with the rendition of the anatomical human figure, the awareness of rule and how to break and recreate them dawned on me then. But it was a specific moment of my experience in the Prado, after the sequence of the galleries of Bosch, Dürer, Velasquez, Ribera... that I came upon Goya: his cartoons for the tapestries, his court paintings and then his Black Paintings.

Goya's Black Paintings.

I was standing in front of the famous Saturn. My sense is that it wasn't as famous then as it is now. That's my impression, but I might be mistaken. I was standing in front of "Saturn..." and Goya's world of paint telescoped into my eyes and mind. Everything and everyone around me disappeared and the only things that existed for that long, super-saturated moment was this painting and me. I don't know exactly how long that moment lasted. It could have been forever, or it could have been only a minute, or it could have been both. And as the ordinary world returned to my senses, a resolution grew within me to become an artist, to become a painter, to return and remain in that realm so saturated with paint and churning with arts' urgent impulse.

This is what paintings #'s 572-576 and 578-582 are all about.

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September 13, 2019

pocket of the Mediterranean


pocket of the Mediterranean
120 x 80 x 30 cm
Oil on Canvas over Wood & Wire


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September 12, 2019

AIRCAT 2019: Exhibition Documentation

AIRCAT Press Release Summer 2019

AIRCAT (Artists in Residency, Catalunya) is pleased to announce the inaugural exhibition "Littoral" comprised of art works created in Tossa de Mar by invited artists Avital Yomdin, Alberto Barcia Fernandez, including program mentors Gerard Smulevich and Dennis Hollingsworth. The exhibition will be on view from July 13 to August 25, 2019.

The four week residency is designed to reinvigorate the creation of contemporary art in Tossa de Mar. This is a legacy established within Tossa in the mid 20th century by the influx into the Costa Brava of creatives from a wide array of art forms seeking refuge in the interwar years. The Municipal Museum of Tossa de Mar is distinguished by the status of the first contemporary art museum established in Spain, its collection is graced by artwork created specifically within Tossa de Mar by artists of the stature of André Masson, Jean Metzinger, Marc Chagall, Rafael Benet, and many others. The objective of AIRCAT is to attract the best artists world wide who are concerned with advancing the ongoing dialog of emergent art history, introduce them to the kaleidoscopic array of aspects of the Costa Brava, presented thematically as a littoral, and to exhibit their art work to the audience of Tossa de Mar.

A littoral is where the land meets the sea, and more broadly where fundamentally different entities interact and where life thrives. Participants are exposed to a wide range of littoral aspects cultural and physical, and their work will be reflections of this either directly or indirectly in a variety of artistic media.

Avital Yomdin (Berlin, Tel Aviv) is captivated by the expressive potential of thermoplastic materials. Finding a concordance between the liquid qualities of her medium and the Mediterranean littoral, she has struck upon a fusion of method and subject that is most unique. Alberto Barcia Fernandez (Tossa de Mar, Mallorca) is fascinated by the churn and froth of paint. His paintings tend to register his encounters with specific physical places in the natural world, lending an aura of the performative to the tradition of painting. Gerard Smulevich (Los Angeles) is enchanted with the sea, often found kayaking along the coast of the Costa Brava. An architect and photographer, his meditations on the palisades of the Catalan littoral has animated his imagination about the possibilities of a secret world within them. Dennis Hollingsworth (New York City) is a painter based in both New York City and Tossa de Mar, Spain, who has been a practicing visual artist for more than 30 years.  Represented by Galerie Richard in New York and Paris, Michael Kohn Gallery Los Angeles and Galerie Miguel Marcos Barcelona, he has shown his work in exhibitions around the world including Japan, Germany, the Netherlands, Switzerland, France and of course Spain and the USA.

AIRCAT would like to thank the community and Municipal Government of Tossa de Mar for the opportunity to create and exhibit contemporary art in what is perhaps the most beautiful seaside villages of the Costa Brava. We are astonished by your generosity and our gratitude is boundless.



"Littoral Mask", AIRCAT Collective, 2019, 5 x 30 x 40 cm, photography

(Left) "Litossferenc I, Gerard Smulevich, 2019, 50 x 23 cm, photography
(Center) "Litossferenc II", Gerard Smulevich, 2019, 50 x 23 cm, photography
(Right) 4. "vista sober la ciutat", Gerard Smulevich, 2019, 123 x 33 cm, photography

(Left) "Litossferenc II", Gerard Smulevich, 2019, 50 x 23 cm, photography
(Right) "39.760085,3.111368", Alberto Barcia Fernández, 2019, 120 x 200 cm, Acrylic & ink on canvas

"swimming in the Lake is just not the same", Avital Yomdin, 2019, 40 x 30 cm, Hot Glue on Plexiglas

(Left) "39.760085,3.111368", Alberto Barcia Fernández, 2019, 120 x 200 cm, Acrylic & ink on canvas
(Right) "swimming in the Lake is just not the same", Avital Yomdin, 2019, 40 x 30 cm, Hot Glue on Plexiglas

(Left) "swimming in the Lake is just not the same", Avital Yomdin, 2019, 40 x 30 cm, Hot Glue on Plexiglas
(Right) "La Primera Vez", Dennis Hollingsworth, 2004, 100 x 110 cm

(Back Wall) "41.714905,2.933792", Alberto Barcia Fernández, 2019, 120 x 200 cm, Acrylic & ink on canvas
(Foreground) "swimming in the Lake is just not the same", Avital Yomdin, 2019, 60 x 45 cm, Hot Glue on Plexiglas

(Background) "41.714905,2.933792", Alberto Barcia Fernández, 2019, 120 x 200 cm, Acrylic & ink on canvas
(Foreground) "swimming in the Lake is just not the same", Avital Yomdin, 2019, 60 x 45 cm, Hot Glue on Plexiglas

"pocket of the Mediterranean ", Dennis Hollingsworth, 2019, 120 x 50 cm, Oil on Canvas on Wood and Wire

(Left) "Don't be a Guiri", Avital Yomdin, 2019, variable dimensions, Hot Glue on Nylon and Wire
(Right) "It's quiet down here", Avital Yomdin, 2019, variable dimensions, Hot Glue on Vinyl

(Foreground) "It's quiet down here", Avital Yomdin, 2019, variable dimensions, Hot Glue on Vinyl
(Background) "41.713958,2.916238", Alberto Barcia Fernández, 2019, 140 x 200 cm, Acrylic & ink on canvas

"Don't be a Guiri", Avital Yomdin, 2019, variable dimensions, Hot Glue on Nylon and Wire

"41.713958,2.916238", Alberto Barcia Fernández, 2019, 140 x 200 cm, Acrylic & ink on canvas

"41.725731,2.943887", Alberto Barcia Fernández, 2019, 140 x 200 cm, Acrylic & ink on canvas

"41.724370,2.940972", Alberto Barcia Fernández, 2019, 140 x 200 cm, Acrylic & ink on canvas

(Foreground) "It's quiet down here", Avital Yomdin, 2019, variable dimensions, Hot Glue on Vinyl
(Background) "41.713958,2.916238", Alberto Barcia Fernández, 2019, 140 x 200 cm, Acrylic & ink on canvas

(Left) "Ciudad Perdida I", Gerard Smulevich, 2019, 40 x 50 cm, photography
(Right) "Ciudad Perdida II", Gerard Smulevich, 2019, 40 x 50 cm, photography

(Left) "Ciudad Perdida I", Gerard Smulevich, 2019, 40 x 50 cm, photography, "Ciudad Perdida II", Gerard Smulevich, 2019, 40 x 50 cm, photography
(Background) "Don't be a Guiri", Avital Yomdin, 2019, variable dimensions, Hot Glue on Nylon and Wire
(Right) "It's quiet down here", Avital Yomdin, 2019, variable dimensions, Hot Glue on Vinyl

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AIRCAT 2019: Install Week

Week four of the inaugural AIRCAT summer 2019 in Tossa de Mar, and everyone is operating in extremis. Under pressure to absorb a new environment, to summon inspiration and express it, we hauled our work and tools into the Municipal Museum for the installation. What goes where? Who gets featured first, second and third? How do we deal with lighting, framing, arranging and coordinating the opening celebrations? How do we communicate our ideas and work to the public? What about the press materials, the audiovisual equipment, exhibition listings and descriptive texts?

No worries, Gerry and I are veterans at this, calm under fire.

Guidelines needed to be drawn. First, we can employ major and minor themes. The participating artists deserve the major notes, their art work are the main acts in the show. We have three rooms, two smaller and one large at the end of the procession into the exhibition. Hints as to what is to come for the major notes pepper the initial rooms, increasing in scale appropriately. In the entrance lobby, a series of portraits and a title piece introduce the show. In the big space, Avital Yomdin and Alberto Barcia sing. Along the way, opportunities and surprises arising from the quirks of the environment are encountered, digested and accommodated. Not a second was wasted.

And all along the way, we focused on finishing with enough time to rest and relax before the culminating opening Saturday afternoon/evening celebration. not easy that, since we were barely able to squeeze out a half day to decompress.


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September 11, 2019

AIRCAT 2019: Field Trip to Dali Country

The Costa Brava is defined by the spill of the Pyrenees into the Mediterranean Sea. North of Barcelona, Tossa de Mar defines the southern extent of the craggy coast of the Costa Brava and Cap de Creus defines the northern extent up to Portbou at the French border. AIRCAT took a day at the end of the program, right before the installation of the inaugural exhibition. It was a stressful decision since we were focused on pulling the show together, but it was the last chance to see the breadth of the Costa Brava and the land of Dali too. Besides, the museum's de-install schedule to clear the exhibition space couldn't be rushed, so we would have been panting at the doors ready to get it on, irritating the staff. A bad look.

So we looked at the wild coast instead. The roads accessing this region don't follow the coast, so we had to take the highway via Girona up through Figueres (Dali's home town and the location of a museum dedicated to him), past Empuriabrava (sky diving country) and Roses into Cadaqués and Port Ligat, Dali's famous home. The geology of the region is stunning, rivaling... even exceeding Salvador's fantastical imagination. Cap de Creus is a short hop east. All of the visitors, us included conducted themselves as if we were in a cathedral, pious and gobsmacked.


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AIRCAT 2019: Festivities in Tossa

Since the mission of the residency is to bring contemporary art to Tossa de Mar, it's best to conduct the program at the height of the summer festivities in the Catalan seaside town. It's best this way to allow the artists to become acquinted Every week is loaded with events such as fireworks displays, Corpus Christi, fishermen sardine cookouts at the beach, concerts of may kinds and scales, a strange event called Toquen a Correr where kids and the young at heart skip hand in hand through the streets to strange medieval music, Sardana dance circles in the church plaza... Well, you have to be there to appreciate the full impact. Here are few images to flavor the water:

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Sardanas at the church plaza. Snapped this on the fly walking home from the AIRCAT studio. #summerstudio

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Toquen a Correr at Tossa de Mar #artistresidency #summerstudio

A post shared by Dennis Hollingsworth (@pacificohollingsworth) on

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September 10, 2019

AIRCAT 2019: Alberto's Baptism

I'm not sure what to call what Alberto Barcia did this summer. Yes, he certainly painted paintings. But he also has this tendency to... perform?

Well, it's not a performance per se, since there wasn't an audience to bounce off of. We were out on the cleft of Cap Tossa (see the pop up image below). Alberto and I swam out in snorkel gear, towing one of Alberto's paintings on a raft. Gerry and Avi paddled out in a kayak. Gerry was kitted out in his camera gear and I had my GoPro on a stick, the objective was to document a baptism. Less than a theatrical performance and more of an immersion into the world (and a church, btw?) both literal and figurative.

This assumes that painting was considered as not to be in the world prior to "baptism" and this would be correct, given the prevalence -to this day- of the "death of painting" meme*. But maybe I'm projecting here? More probably, Alberto wasn't addressing, wasn't immersing his painting into the world at large, but into the very specific world of Tossa de Mar. He certainly called his action a baptism, but perhaps he was instead "having sex" with his home town... in a manner of speaking? He does love his home, as all real Tossenç** do.

But it is interesting to consider that Alberto is a painter who performs blends his painting with the world, in a way that he is scrubbing the world, scrubbing his community with his painting. At the same time, he is impregnating his canvas with littoral spawn? the world. It's interesting to consider that he does this after the painting is finished. It's more of an "After-Action Painting" and not so much like a Bob Ross (on the gross end) or Paul McCarthy's seminal wall slathers of motor-oiled tarps (the high end, if you're keeping track), which were not only distanced parodies but also are productions of painting meant to be captured on camera, which is an ultimate artwork disseminated in a medium other than painting itself. Check out one of his early pieces/performances.

This means that there is a bracketing going on, a posterior and anterior art-making phenomena which is containing... what, exactly? Is the artist in this situation simply a transitive feature, present yet invisible like gravity? And what does this mean for painting, if the medium of painting is alive and more than a prop in a staged play? Robert Irwin famously included the surrounding context of painting in calibrated progressive stages until painting was disposable. The context didn't need painting anymore. Art always has the ambition to mimic the world - "Va por culo, pintura!" Remember mimesis and Plato's diminution of it? The world is always more interesting than art. So plays the function of the frame -in all of its dimensions- in order to protect art. In other words, life trumps art but we need art art to navigate life. Remember the final scene of Seeing is forgetting...", where Bob drives down the famous California five freeway in an old Cadillac with not much more than a box of cassettes and a brand new MacArthur Genius grant? Like that.

Or alternatively, is the aura of the spotlight enlarged to include the brackets themselves? Beware the Inverse Square Law, lest the the intensity of attention becomes too attenuated. Art history had pissed on the aura enough times in the recent past, to the danger of extinguishing its fire. Pneumatic emanations such as this tend not to be appreciated by and large, until they are lost.

Cautionary notes aside, Alberto is an ardent painter who has calibrated, consciously or not, the liquidity of his medium to correspond to the lipid thickness of the Mediterranean. Alberto, the painter, is what in Spanish is called "goloso". Translated literally into English as "sweet tooth". The meaning of this word bridges "gluttonous" and "gourmand", another transitive identity that ties quite differing extents, a problematic distinction that fits Alberto very well. Remember, all artists wrestle with problems of one kind or another.


1. Search within this blog for the extended argument, if you are curious to learn more. And...
2. If this track tires and exasperates you, let me suggest that you are not sufficiently critical of the array of ideas that had brought not only the art world low (re: Zombie-ism, the impotency of criticism, the trend to regard art as a fungible asset) but culture in the fullest spectrum of expression. The 20th century is STILL slouching to extinction and the 21st has yet to be born.

Tossenç, this is the name for a homeboy or homegirl of Tossa.



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AIRCAT 2019: The Littoral Spawn

It is of no surprise to anyone that artist participants in AIRCAT arrive preset with methods and materials that they have already been well acquainted. In Avital Yomdin's case, she has long been fascinated with the substantial qualities and possibilities of thermoplastic glue, and more generally in the material properties of all plastics in general. Early on, the question arose as we grooved into studio discussions, what would happen if gravity could be suspended even if for a little bit by extruding hot glue into water? A bucket (and later, a paella pan) is kind of like a laboratory simulation of a littoral, a mediated environment between atmosphere and liquid. The material kept its extruded qualities as it cooled in immediate immersion, and it also fused with itself at random points, eventually forming a matted connective tissue, connecting nothing in particular and everything in general. The result resembled littoral spawn, a petrochemical synthetic homunculus, an expression both literal and figurative of the mix and frenzy of reproduction, the flip side of Darwin that nobody seems to talk about: less than the survival of the fittest and more of the proliferation of the sexiest.

As soon as Avital made the first spawn mat, he placed it on his face, looping the strands behind his ears like a mask.
We began snapping photos immediately and over time, involving many others in modeling the spawn. Below the fold, behold the frenzy...



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AIRCAT Summer: Studio Espai Colomer

AIRCAT (Artists in Residency, Catalunya) is able to operate due to the generous collaboration by the city government of Tossa de Mar (aka l'ajuntament in Catalan). They have provided AIRCAT with the three critical elements that a residency program needs: a place to reside, a place to create art and a place to exhibit art. What we are providing Tossa is the ability to bridge the contemporary art world, ending an interregnum that has lasted since the evaporation of a vital artistic presence in that remote seaside refuge in the 1940's & 50's.

Espai Colomer is the name of a civic multipurpose space immediately adjacent to the Casa de Cultura. The name derives from a gentleman who performed a remarkable amount of humanitarian work in his time, his portrait adorning the entryway there, such is their affection for him. The Casa de Cultura is the main cultural administrative office of the pueblo. Located near the entrance to town, just below the bus station on Avinguda Pelegri (Pilgrim's Avenue), it also sits across the street from an archeological excavation of Roman ruins, the ancient roots of Tossa de Mar. As a studio space, it is ample in size and it has plenty of the amenities critical to a well functioning group studio: air conditioning (June can be mild but the temps crank up the deeper into the summer you go), an actual commercial kitchen, bathrooms with a shower, and of course all the tables and chairs six artist will ever need.

To be honest, when we first saw the space, I was crestfallen. The original plan was to use the attic space of the museum. Centrally located in a fabulous historical structure, tucked behind the walls of the muralla, right next door to Codolar Cove, two floors above the actual space of the exhibition... the place is dripping with romance. But the reality would have been that in short order, the place would have turned into a sauna, and it wouldn't be romance that would be dripping then. Being situated in Espai Colomer was one of the first of several great fortunes that AIRCAT enjoy this summer.

Here and below, Chef/Caterer extraordinaire Laia Farré visited AIRCAT studio Espai Colomer for inspiration for a collaborative project during the inaugural opening festivities.


When Avital Yomdin created what I will refer to in this blog "Littoral Spawn" (an upcoming blogpost will document more of this), here mentor Gerald Smulevich is shooting Littoral Spawn portraits, starting with Avital herself.

Courtyard between Espai Colomer and the Casa de Cultura, a former hospital in antiquity and now an administrative center for cultural events in Tossa.


Alberto Barcia's table.

Avital Yomdin's table.

Gerald "Gerry" Smulevich's table.

My table.

Avital Yomdin at work.

Alberto Barcia at work.

Avital and Alberto harvesting Littoral Spawn.

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AIRCAT 2019: The Reference Map


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September 2, 2019

Language Lessons

Every summer in Catalunya, Spain, I struggle to expand my capacity to speak Spanish (Castellano) and Catalan. Poco a poca, Dennis, poc a poc. It's fun to query my friends about definitions. Everyone I meet leaps to the occasion with an alacrity that is a testament to the true cosmopolitain nature of the Spanish (and Catalan) people. I like to record the provocative words in my iPad. My dictionary at the moment is surpassing 30 pages...




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