December 12, 2009

Work in progress

Here's the Angel of Incineration diving to deliver her fireball to the prone city of Dresden. This is a work in progress. Still looking amateurish at this point.

I'm painting it for a show on the Dresden firebombing I'm having at the at Bard College at Simon's Rock January 18 to February 12. It will be in the Great Barrington college's Atrium Gallery.

After 1 1/2 years working with acrylics, I've switched back to oils for this one to keep it in sync with the other paintings in the series I did several years ago.

My painting is derived from William Blake's Pity show below.

Ornithologically speaking, my wings are in the wrong position, unless she's putting down her flaps to slow down for a landing. Also, I have to tone  the gold down.

The painting is 4' x 5' and the bodies are cut-outs of canvas that I gessoed to the painting. The face of the prone woman, in my painting, is a blowup taken from Blake's. I also collaged a print of the horsewoman's face on the angel.

But it lost too much of the detail in the enlargement. And what you see instead is yesterday's effort to paint a reasonable facsimile of the Blake face. It isn't there yet.
Click on photos to enlarge.

December 10, 2009

Street joy

 During my gallery quests in New York, I shot lots of pictures. Last Friday I took more than 200.

One of my favorites from that haul was this one.

  Photo by Grier Horner/All rights reserved
Click on photo to enlarge.

December 8, 2009

Work on the wild side

Photos by Grier Horner

If you want to take a walk on the wild side, hit the Paul Kasmin Gallery in Manhattan and feast your eyes on Walton Ford's allegorical nature paintings.

It doesn't take you long to realize that the subjects in the Great Barrington artist's monumental watercolors would just as soon feast on you.

As these wolves are doing on the body of a dead soldier killed at the Battle of Borodino in 1812. This is where Napoleon won the battle but lost his quest to conquer Russia because he failed to pursue the retreating Russian Army.

 In this detail from that painting, you can see how brilliantly Ford depicts the wolves' ferocity and aspects of his painting style. The works are watercolor, gouache, pencil and ink on paper. These are not timid paintings either in subject or scope. This one is 60" x 119".

Below is a detail from another painting, The Royal Menagerie at the Tower of London - 3 December 1830.

These are photos of the paintings as you see them in the gallery, glare and reflections included. They were taken December - 179 years and one day after the incident in which two tigers mauled a lion.

My shot of Ford's painting, An Encounter with Du Chaillu, includes not only the marauding gorilla, but refections of me taking the picture and a truck passing by on the street.

Paul du Chaillu was an anthropologist, explorer, hunter and author who confirmed the existence of gorillas on a trip to West Africa during the 1860s.

In a nice twist, the gorilla, not du Chaillu, comes away with the trophy in this painting. And it leaves you wondering if the animal is going to manage to kill itself with the gun despite its twisted barrel.

Ford, who was born in Larchmont, New York, in 1960 is in the art world's bigtime. Museums give him shows. Critics give him raves. Collectors buy his work. The New York Times writes feature articles about him, as do other publications.

In a January 2009 New Yorker profile, he told writer Calvin Tomkins, "Before Fay Wray comes to Skull Island, King Kong isn't doing anything. There's no story until she shows up...What I'm doing, I think, is a sort of cultural history of the way animals live in the human imagination."

He may be giving the human imagination too much credit.

What he's doing is the way animals and events live in his imagination. And he does it powerfully.

Ford's show will be up through December 23. The Paul Kasmin Gallery is located at 293 Tenth Avenue at the corner of 27th Street.

December 6, 2009

Gallery Quest 5

 In my ongoing Gallery Quest, I hit 27th Street on Friday. I was lucky. If I'd put the trip to Manhattan off or gone back to 23rd Street as I'd planned, I would have missed Andrea Mastrovito's wild and wonderful show at the Foley Gallery. It closed yesterday.

His large paintings were butted together forming a single work of art that must have been 75 feet long as it circled three walls of the gallery at 547 West 27th Street.

I couldn't find any reviews, but New York Magazine gave it this squib:

"An exquisite show composed almost entirely of paper and exploring the edgiest theme of all: love. Imagine if Van Gogh had had a child who became a genius in the art of origami."

I think I'd slice a little Kara Walker and James Bond to that mix as well. And a pinch of Edward Scissorhands.

Here are a two details of the diptych show at the top to give you a better idea what this young Italian artist is doing.

Lights. Cameras. Action. Color. Drama. Humor. Figures formed of cutout letters. Animals copulating. Adam and Eve. Origami. Well, not exactly origami, because that's the art of folding paper. I think Mastrovito's is the art of cutting and layering paper as he builds his collages.

And here's a closeup from another painting. It gives added insight into Mastrovito's technique.

How's the Gallery Quest going? Stay tuned.
Photos by Grier Horner/Click to enlarge