30 August 2014

Return of Peter Pan - by Kasia Turajczyk

Do we really have to give up our dreams and allow society to rule our lives? It starts from the moment that we are born: “You have to do so, you have to behave in this way, you can’t say that, you can’t do that, don’t look like that, don’t move, don’t cry, don’t laugh, don’t think, don’t breath”.
Lying is a bad thing to do but telling the truth isn’t good either.  When you grow up society expects from you to have a job, to make money, to find a partner to reproduce new offspring and after that do the same to them what your parents did to you; program them.
To Be or Not To Be - by Kasia Turajczyk
For thousands of years humans have agreed to be so and to do so.  Without any guarantee that our lives will be better, happier or healthier. The primitive instinct to procreate and the other strong instinct; to stay alive, occupy the humans’ minds.    It is encoded in our universal DNA even if we know we all die, eventually; and that our death is often despicable and undeserved.
We are working with persistence to develop new technologies, to make our lives easier but at the same time to destroy each other with more sophistication. We created a kind of civilisation, but it is very primitive. To be true we didn’t change as homo sapience a lot the last 10000 years. Wars, conflicts, exploitation, slavery, deceptions, envy, propaganda, jealousy and the all surrounding fear control our existence.
The best way to survive in this world it is to find your inner child and escape into that reality; hide there and wait till the end of your life.
Puella aeterna and puer eaternus are the heroes of my series entitled “Peter Pan”.  

This is not a Paradise - by Kasia Turajczyk

I think that becoming a mature person isn’t synonym for better. Definitely, it doesn’t mean better life. To stay a child for ever is only the one possible alternative to survive in this horrible world.  Contrary the physiologists arguments……..Live Long Peter Pan!  Voilà

The Loony Bin of Life - by Kasia B. Turajczyk

8 July 2014

Francisco de Goya and his black paintings.

I owe you, my readers, an apology for such a long break from posting and writing. I have been writing but it seemed that I never finished those many articles - ideas about Witkiewicz, Wojtkiewicz, Goya, Max Ernst, Remedios Varos, the Museum of Surrealism in Vienna, Tadeusz Makowski, Mathias Grunewald and so on and so on. I can only blame my nature, my pessimism and my sluggishness or maybe idleness.

Getting older isn't a nice event in once life. I am not that old but also not young anymore.  I have become obsessed with death. I am not afraid to die. However  I am terrorized by the idea that one day I will wake up and everyone close and precious to me in this life (life for me is about people and love, not about possessions and things) will have disappeared. They will simply no longer be here, they will all be dead.  That happened to lots of humans during the second world war, it happens still in Arabia and Africa every day. It could happen to me too. Our existence on this planet is so unpredictable, often surreal and cruel.

This long preamble brings me to Francisco de Goya. Two months ago I spent a whole day in the Prado, Madrid.  Of course one day, even if it is from the opening till the closing isn't enough for the Prado. But I have my preferences, my own likes and not-likes (dislikes would be too strongly stated), being selective leaves me more time to see what I want to see.  

Prado, Spain, Madrid and my obsession with death, all that logically brings me to Goya,  of course.  Goya of the Pinturas Negras, the so-called black paintings. Goya made them in his last years in Madrid, 1820-24. He did it for himself, and only for himself.  They are murals. He painted the walls in his farmhouse -villa  “la Quinta del Sordo”, outside Madrid.  He was not working anymore for the royal family, he was free of duties. He could paint entirely and only for his own pleasure. However after seeing those works you can assume that Goya didn't paint them to express his pleasure, happiness and delight.  I would insist, that he painted them to state his anger about the political situation in Spain, his fear of death, his disappointment with humanity and maybe his pessimism and depression.  To tell the truth, nobody really knows what was his motivation to do so. All the explanations by art critics, curators and some artists are only speculations. If you would like to read some more reasonable and sensible discourse on this issue I would definitely recommend the biography of Goya written by Robert Hughes. ( I am a huge fan of Robert Hughes writing talent. )

Las Parcas - The Fates 

14 dark paintings all placed together in one large room in the Prado. What a treatment for a disturbed  and pessimistic soul - I am talking about myself. I could stay in that room in Prado the whole day just going around and admire the imagination, the artistic concept, the use of colours, the stroke of his brush and thinking about how to steal them!  Yes, I would love to have it in my own house -  probably they would make of me  a totally  medieval monk, locked in my  external hermitage of Goya's spirit. Some of the paintings are almost black/grey and brownish - some of them like Sabbath-Asmodeus or Duel with Clubs are more colourful with used of aero blue, bright iridescent red and unbleached titanium.  Most of the works are huge, from 144 cm high till 438 cm width.

Duel with Clubs


The most famous black painting is probably Saturn Devouring His Son (it could be a daughter, though!).  The head is already consumed by Saturn as is much of the right arm. He doesn't look very pleased with this.  He looks ashamed for his horrifying act of incest and at the same time  uncontrolled.  The story of Saturn devouring his children is based actually on a Greek myth about the god Kronos, one of the Titans. Saturn is the Roman name for Kronos.  Kronos learned from his mother Gaia and his father Uranus that he was destined to be overcome by his own sons, just as he had overthrown his father. As a result, although he sired the gods Demeter, Hestia, Hera, Hades and Poseidon by Rhea, he devoured all of them, both the male and female, as soon as they were born to prevent the prophecy coming true. It is one of the early myth.

Saturn Devouring His Son

For me the most beautiful, pur sang work of art is Head of a Dog. It is so modern and contemporary that it is very difficult to conceive that it was painted almost 200 years ago. You can't just pass the painting. You can't ignore it.  It is a big canvas 134 cm x 80 cm, made in a few tones only:  diverse ochres and siennas.  There is a huge empty space and in the middle of the lower part of the image only a small protruding head of a dog.  I looked at the small sad head of the dog, and I swear I could hear his terrified yearning. The dog is totally alone, there is nobody there, and there will be nobody there. Only the almost invisible shadow of somebody, maybe a ghost. The situation is hopeless, melancholy par excellence. Of course all the paintings are amazing, made by a man who was already 74/78 years old, but still innovative and still progressing, a real genius!

Head of a Dog

I love Goya, I admire his talent, his passion, his brush stroke, his choice of colours, his work ethos, his never ending search for new media and his determination to be true to himself as an artist and as a person.

You must go and see the black paintings!

Baron Émile d'Erlanger acquired “la Quinta” in 1873 and had the paintings transferred to canvas. The works suffered enormously in the process, losing a large amount of paint. Finally, the Baron donated these paintings to the State, and they were sent to the Prado Museum, where they have been on view since 1889.

"Heads in a landscape" is, in all probability, the fifteenth Black Painting. It became separated from the other paintings in the collection and is now in the collection of Stanley Moss in New York.(from Wikipedia)

15 October 2013

This is not a Paradise - the realism of dreams genre

This is not a paradise.

It belongs to my "Return of Peter Pan" Series, but there is a difference with the other paintings from this series, it's much darker and more philosophical than the others.

I am back into oil. It is an absolute pleasure to smell the turpentine, the oil paints and all the chemicals I am using when working with oil. I forgot how wonderful and magnificent oil technique is. I am using the traditional method – layering and glazing. But the background of this painting is partly made using acrylics.

The symbols in the image of my work are very obvious. My poor harlequin isn't very happy, is he?
He is balancing on top of his freedom. He has two choices: selling his soul to the nasty snake or to a shiny apple. There is another choice, extreme one: the suicide. But I can see his inability to commit it.
This is not a paradise!

14 July 2013

Odilon Redon

My first contact with Odilon Redon took place in the Museum d'Orsay in Paris in 1988. I still remember the moment when I saw a small pastel with exceptionally bright colours. "The Flower of  Blood" was the title of that work and it had something very mysterious in it that captured my attention for a long time. The flowers and the character of the female were obvious but the giant creature in the top right corner was really weird. And the colours, the colours were just amazing: clean, bright, fantastic and glowing. It was obvious that this painting was telling a mysterious story. I could stay in front of it a whole day and just escape from my physical body and the material place into totally different world. 

The Blood of Flower

Next to it was another pastel of Redon;  with a golden background and a black creature/face at the front. The title of the work was Underwater Vision.  I remembered coming back a few times to the dark part of the d'Orsay where Redon's paintings were exhibited.  I was trying to find answers to why those works captured my attention so much and what was in them different to all the other amazing paintings there. The fascinating colours, the secrets, the stories? Odilon Redon was/is one of those painters, whose works are mystical and metaphorical;  they will never really reveal their own secrets. In Redon's own words: 
"My drawings inspire and are not to be defined. They determine nothing. They place us, as does music, in the ambiguous world of the undetermined. They are a kind of metaphor. I have placed there a little door opening on to the mysterious. I have made stories."

Underwater Vision 
Odilon Redon has been seen by some art critics as the precursor of Dada and surrealism. I don't agree with that. His work is mystical and fantastic but not strictly surreal.   His work is very individual in most of its aspects. It is as unique as the work of Botticelli, (before he became a religious fanatic), Breughel, El Greco, Vrubel or Wojtkiewicz

His early work, black and with drawings in charcoal, is very haunting , scary and crazy - the crying and smiling spiders, the cactus man, the bizarre creatures, they are coming straight out from bizarre and dark dreams into the perception of the recipient. His series of etchings reminds me very much of Los Chaprichos, the famous etchings by Goya.

The Spirit Forest

There is something very peculiar about Odile Redon.  Till his fifties he worked almost exclusively in black and white - charcoal drawings and lithographs. Once he passed the age of 50 he started painting and using colours - most works being made in pastels and oil. After the discovery of colours he became an remarkable colourist. I think the colours that he used undeniably inspired Chagall. The similarity in colours between the two painters are so obvious that I have to make this assumption.  
Odilon Redon remained relatively unknown until Joris-Karl Huysmans, a French writer, published his book 'A Rebours' with a passage dedicated to the art of Redon.
"Those were pictures bearing the signature: Odilon Redon. They held, between their gold-edged frames of unpolished pearwood, undreamed-of images: a Merovingian-type head, resting upon a cup; a bearded man, reminiscent both of a Buddhist priest and a public orator, touching an enormous cannonball with his finger; a dreadful spider with a human face lodged in the centre of its body. Then there were charcoal sketches which delved even deeper into the terrors of fever-ridden dreams. Here, on an enormous die, a melancholy eyelid winked; over there stretched dry and arid landscapes, calcinated plains, heaving and quaking ground, where volcanos erupted into rebellious clouds, under foul and murky skies; sometimes the subjects seemed to have been taken from the nightmarish dreams of science, and hark back to prehistoric times; monstrous flora bloomed on the rocks; everywhere, in among the erratic blocks and glacial mud, were figures whose simian appearance—heavy jawbone, protruding brows, receding forehead, and flattened skull top—recalled the ancestral head, the head of the first Quaternary Period, the head of man when he was still fructivorous and without speech, the contemporary of the mammoth, of the rhinoceros with septate nostrils, and of the giant bear. These drawings defied classification; unheeding, for the most part, of the limitations of painting, they ushered in a very special type of the fantastic, one born of sickness and delirium." ¹.

Most of Redon's work is in the hands of private collectors. Lots of his work can be found in Dutch museums:  Gemeentemuseum Den Hague,  Rijks Museum Kröller-Müller  in Otterlo,  Stedelijk Museum and Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam (a big collection).  It was thanks to Andre Bonger ², who introduced Redon to Holland and to the society of La Libre Esthétique in Brussels that Odilon became extraordinarily famous in the Netherlands.

La Libre Esthétique (free aesthetics) was an artistic society founded in 1893 in Brussels to continue the efforts of the artists' group Les XX which dissolved the same year. To reduce conflicts between artists invited or excluded, artists were no longer admitted to the society, thus all exhibitors were now invited. The first annual exhibition was opened on 14 February 1894, and the exhibition of 1914 was the last.
Work by Odilon Redon has a place in my private museum of imaginary, unique and beautiful works of art.

¹.Joris-Karl Huysmans, Against Nature, translated by Margaret Mauldon (Oxford University Press, 1998), pp. 52–53.
². Andries Bonger, nicknamed "Dries", was Johanna van Gogh-Bonger's favorite brother. Bonger was a friend of his future brother-in-law Theo van Gogh in Paris. It was through Andries that Johanna and Theo met.

17 June 2013

Why Beauty Mattters - documentary by Roger Scruton

A few months ago we were visiting the Wellcome Collection in London, to see the exhibition entitled "Death, a self-portrait", largely collected by Richard Harris. Whilst there I enriched myself with a very small book about Beauty. I am currently reading this short philosophical introduction to the subject of beauty, written by Roger Scruton.

Beauty, Truth and Goodness, the big trinity of Plato and Plotinus. Maybe not necessarily in that sequence. Probably Truth, Goodness and Beauty is a more suitable order.

I am a kind of very idealistic pessimist, or maybe a pessimistic idealist! Even if I gave up my idealistic view about human kind I didn't give up on truth, goodness and beauty.

A long time ago I studied Socrates and Plato. I loved Plato's Dialogues. Beautifully written literature and full of wisdom. Plato argued powerfully for objectivity. Plato opposed relativism. He criticized the views of the sophist Protagoras in his dialogue Thaetetus. In a paraphrased dialogue, the philosopher Socrates argued that relativism is self-defeating as follows:
"My opinion is: Truth must be absolute and that you Mr. Protagoras, are absolutely in error. Since this is indeed my opinion, then you must concede that it is true according to your philosophy." 
We are living in a time in which we question everything, everything is relative, everything is impossible and everything is possible.

In Ancient Greece Plato opposed relativism, and he criticized the views of the sophist Protagoras.

Today Einstein would be astonished if he suddenly arose from the underworld and discovered the impact his Theory of Relativity has had upon artists, musicians, writers, in fact the whole art world in the XX century.

Maybe I should blame Einstein and not Duchamp for the destruction and death of the quality, the beauty and the mastery in ART?

Yesterday I discovered a documentary "Why Beauty Matters" by Roger Scruton, the author of my little book. I want to share with you this fascinating and thought-provoking documentary.

But beauty still matters even for the contemporary artists. Gottfried Helnwein's paintings are an excellent exemplar of that. Super-realistic with a touch of magic. Maybe the most talented master of today!

Gottfired Helnwein  - The Murmur of the Innocents 6  2009


27 April 2013

Animation -"Much Ado About How To Become A Famous Artist"

This post is an exception. It is not about surreal art but it is about the contemporary art scene that has become surreal.

I find (and I think) most of the art work currently presented in contemporary art galleries, art shows and modern art museums very much alienated, exhausted, recessive and fake.

I still think that mastery, technique and talent are more important than the contemporary concept that “expressing yourself” is all that counts. Everybody can express their own feelings in their own particular way. You don’t have to be “fine artist”, you don’t have to have any “technique”. Following that principle everyone is an artist as long as they “express themselves”. But is that ART? I don’t want art to be elitist, but art should be about the truth, the good and the beautiful. And yes, there are some objective criteria for these categories.

This animation movie (my first)is a humorous view of the modern contemporary art scene in the XXI century. It is based on my experiences as a female fine artist, a painter who loves quality and mastery, and above all the Truth and the Beautiful.

I wrote the whole script for the movie and produced the animation together with Nikolaus Cieslinski. The movie was made in cooperation with the VisionLore Group, a Polish animation company. They designed the visual characters.


21 April 2013

Tomasz Sętowski, his house and his Dream Factory.

For all the fans of Tomasz Sętowski I have something to share with you about the private life of the great artist. I found this information by accident whilst searching the web. Almost a year ago a Polish local paper from Częstochowa (it is Sętowski's city) posted an article and photos about the place where he is living. The article is in Polish but the images are in a universal language. 

Here is the link: Tomasz Setowski and his house

A short summary of the article: Tomasz Sętowski lives in Stradom, a district of Częstochowa. He lives there with his wife, son and Mona, the dog. Their house is a private sanctuary; only for them and their closest friends. He lives in a house which may not be big enough in area but is overflowing with history.

The house belonged to a well known artist, Marian Michalik, who was also Sętowski's teacher. In his paintings Michalik used the technique of the XVII century Dutch masters of still life, giving the images a touch of magic realism. Over the last few years Sętowski has become known worldwide as one of the most prominent representatives of the style called "Magical Realism". Before that he was just categorised as a surreal painter. There are only a few painters belonging to this Magical Realism subgroup of surrealism who can paint like Sętowski, faultlessly and with masterly technique.

Tomasz Setkowski in his Dream Factory.

Tomasz Sętowski has his own gallery/studio called The Museum of Imagination in Częstochowa. The address of his Dream Factory is ul.Oławska 2; 42-200 Częstochowa, Poland
phone: +48 (34) 366 66.

Hereby some wonderful images of his work - all of them are gouaches.
Most of the titles of these images has been translated by myself. Some of the translations of the images on Sętowski's website are not good in my humble opinion.

Awaiting  Inspiration
The Enchantress Of Dreams

The Rider of Time
What Is Going On On This Planet