Posted by: nicodemomanifesto | October 31, 2009

Dr Seuss

Okay who doesn’t love Dr Seuss?! His books are the best, they present a world everyone wishes they could live in. Well a world I wish I could live in, at least. But not only did Dr Seuss write and illustrate his own books, he also painted! And some of them are quite political.

Economic Situation Clarified - Dr Seuss

Economic Situation Clarified - Dr Seuss

Like this painting (“Economic Situation Clarified”) for example. It presents what has become of the work force since the Industrial Revolution. If you look closely, you’ll notice the ones walking up have smiles on their faces whereas the ones walking down are sad and frowning.The rich become richer and the poor become poorer. This situation has been developed into an almost mathematical system (hence the characters walking in straight lines, all orderly) in order to justify it even though it’s destructive for the overall happiness of society. I especially like how Dr Seuss titled this painting, because he’s basically cutting all the bull shit economists spew to try and substantiate what’s going on in society, and he simply presents it as it is, or as he says, ‘clarifies’ it. I also like the top of the painting, because it seems like either the characters are falling into place or the whole system is disintegrating – so there is some kind of action happening, we just don’t quite know what it is.

King of the Pond - Dr Seuss

King of the Pond - Dr Seuss

 This piece, called “King of the Pond”, is of a similar idea. It’s about the rich being rich at the expense of the poor. All the turtles have to stack up on top of each other in order to please the turtle on top, who is having a jolly good time while the others suffer. Is the happiness of few really worth the misery of many? Hell no! It’s time to rebel, my little turtles! But ya, I also couldn’t help thinking about the philosophical theory “Turtles all the way down” – which is about the idea of infinity. I have a feeling Dr Seuss meant for this philosophy to be in his drawing, and it’s not just coincidence that he used turtles. Maybe he’s trying to say that the turtles’ pain is infinite and that you should never exploit someone like that, or that the turtles will forever be in this situation if they don’t rebel. Anyways, another thing I like about this drawing is that even though it’s about a rather morbid topic, it still has a fun and playful look to it.

The final painting I will be talking about is not political, but I still feel like it has a really powerful message. It seems to me as though it is a painting of a bird flying over the ocean. The only thing that makes me doubt this is that the waves are so colossal they could almost be mistaken for mountains. But this is what makes me like the painting so much, it’s the scale of the waves (or mountains – but I’m gonna go with waves) compared to the scale of the bird (who is much smaller). Yet the bird does not faulter, it keeps its head held high as its elegant tail flies high in the sky (I rhyme! – just like Dr Seuss). I don’t want to use the word ‘hope’ or some expression like ‘a light in the dark’ because they’re cheesy, but that’s essentially the feeling I get from this painting. The painting also reminds me of the novel “Life of Pi” by Yann Martel, which is about a boy and a tiger (there used to be some other animals too, but you can guess what happened to them) who are floating on a raft across the Atlantic ocean. They (like the bird) are completely isolated and seperate from any kind of civilization. There is something very peaceful and spiritual about this, and that being utterly alone isn’t always such a bad thing. 

Freebird - Dr Seuss

Freebird - Dr Seuss

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Posted by: nicodemomanifesto | October 20, 2009

Fall

I’ve really started to feel the effects of Fall lately. It’s getting pretty cold, there are leaves everywhere, and now it’s pretty much always dark when I wake up. I don’t necessarily mind any of this, actually I quite like it. What I enjoy most is the inherent creepiness of the season. The skies are almost perpetually grey, the trees are bare and creaky, and of course there’s an influx of horror movies in theatres because of Halloween. In spirit of Autumn here are two pieces of art which I feel capture the sensations of the season – both of which include skeletons!
 
 
Skull Of A Skeleton With Burning Cigarette by Vincent Van Gogh

Skull Of A Skeleton With Burning Cigarette by Vincent Van Gogh

 
This little guy here is ‘Skull Of A Skeleton With Burning Cigarette’ by Vincent Van Gogh. It was meant to be a study of the human anatomy – but it turned out to be more of a sarcastic piece with the addition of the cigarette. The reason I chose this painting is because it’s comedic yet slightly frightening at the same time. I’ve always been interested in this combination because it seems almost oxymoronic, but if done well it really works! This painting seems almost cinematic, as if it should have been in a movie like Beetle Juice or something. Simply by sticking a cigarette in the skeleton’s mouth, he takes on a sort of personality and becomes more of a character rather than a bunch of bones. The connection I made between this painting and Fall is pretty obvious, I guess – it’s partly because of its creepiness but also how fall is the transition towards the death of nature, just as a skeleton represents the death of a human.
 
 
 
Spirit Of The Forest - Odilon Redon
This piece done in charcoal is called ‘Spirit of the Forest (Specter from a Giant Tree)’ by Odilon Redon (who, like Van Gogh, is a Post-Impressionist). I don’t really find this one funny, mostly just eerie. It reminds me of the tales I used to read in children’s horror-story anthologies. There would always be one about a kid who walks through a forest or graveyard alone as a shortcut and they end up meeting some kind of supernatural being. I like how this ‘forest spirit’ has a skeletal frame which extends to branches at its extremities. The head is quite strange because it isn’t a skull, rather it’s some not-quite-human face, staring in the distance as if curious. I also like how the spirit is putting its hands on its hips, as if presenting itself to you. Overall, the colour scheme is very warm and dark, as if you truly are lost in some ominous forest. Everything about the piece is a little bit messy – which I feel enhances the fantasy of the whole scene.
 
Basically, what I really like about fall are the scary parts of it. Of course there’s the whole ‘getting cozy by a fire’ side, but for me personally, it’s the spookiness that trumps all.
Posted by: nicodemomanifesto | October 18, 2009

Montreal Artist – Zilon

I think it’s important to be familiar with the artists from your city – and by artists I don’t only mean painters, but writers, directors, musicians, or whatever interests you the most personally. The reason for this is because the artists’ creative expression is a result of who they are, which their environment has an influence over. It’s interesting to see what part of Montreal life is found in their work, and how it is interpreted.

VuitonDarling

Vuiton Darling

One of my favorite Montreal artists is Zilon, a sinister and at times genuinly disturbing graffiti artist. I first stumbled upon his work a few years ago in the art gallery Yves Laroche, which seems to perpetually have his newest work on sale. I highly reccomend checking out this gallery – it’s located in Old Montreal and has some really interesting artwork. Go to the gallery’s website to get a feel for the style of art it houses. Most of the stuff is young and edgy, usually with a bit of a dark sense of humour.

I was immediately drawn to Zilon’s paintings, they creeped me out and intrigued me at the same time. He also has a very distinct style, so once you’ve seen a few of his pieces you can spot his work pretty easily. Even now, if you walk around Montreal enough, you’ll see some of his stuff (in public!). The current window display at Ogilvy’s (which runs until November 1st) features Zilon’s art. He was also commissioned to create some pieces for Diver/Cité, and there is a billboard with one of his paintings on it in the village. Zilon has expanded his art to the comic book world as well, he is the illustrator for the graphic novel Magnum 66.

Viva USA (The Porn Queen)

Viva USA (The Porn Queen)

What I think I like most about Zilon is the dangerous, chaotic and sexual side of humans he portrays in his art. It’s the part of humanity most people are uncomfortable discussing, yet it’s so prevelant and impossible to deny. Zilon’s message is beyond reason and rational thought, rather he submits to the overwhelming influence of our emotions, our primal instincts. This aspect of our human complex is mysterious and frightening, but unequivocally tempting.

Here are links to two of Zilon’s websites if you’re interested in seeing more of his work: Zilon Sonic, Zilon Ville Froide. Note: Zilon is also a musician, so turn up your volume when visiting his sites – the music is supposed to go along with the paintings.

Posted by: nicodemomanifesto | September 26, 2009

Buddhism, Untitled

3 Day Buddhist Experience

Untitled

Today I’ve decided to present to you one of my own personal paintings. I made this painting last semester for an assignment in my Eastern Religions class. The assignment was to follow either 5 or 10 of the Buddhist precepts for 3 days, I followed 9 (I figured it would be near impossible for me to not eat after noon for the rest of the day). We were allowed to express our experience being Buddhist for 72 hours any way we liked, either through an essay, a short story, a diary, anything. I chose to do a painting.

I based my primary sketches off of other traditional Buddhist pieces of art as seen below. Some of the same elements I used were the lilly pads the Buddhas are sitting on, along with halos adorned with flowers in back of them. I also used the stylized clouds in my painting and the idea that the Buddha is perched next to a coastline.

Some noticable differences between my painting and the other traditional Buddhist images are that my lilly pad is on top of a mountain, there is no Buddha seated on the lilly pad, and there is a figure at the base of the mountain attempting to climb up. The significance of these changes is that it represents my journey in Buddhism and the struggles I faced.

The lilly pad is placed on top of a mountain because it is supposed to be out of reach. I am trying to grasp at the idea of what being a ‘perfect’ Buddhist is, and I speculate if I can ever really achieve such a thing. Although I only got a taste of what Buddhism really is, I felt like I really connected with the religion and it certainly intrigued me. I am most definitely interested in further studying Buddhism, and even practicing it, but I don’t feel like I’m ready to take on such a task yet.

There are a few possible interpretations for the lack of a Buddha in my painting. One silly idea was that I was to be the next Buddha, so I was meant to fill the empty seat. Obviously this was not a serious idea, but rather just for fun. A more serious interpretation would be that the Buddha was missing as an extension to the theme of the mountain, meaning that the task of having to follow in the footsteps of the Buddha seems nearly impossible. Is living the life which the Buddha lead really even plausible for a human? Trying to connect to the Buddha on a personal level seems very difficult, mostly because he seems so unhuman and abstract. As if being the ‘perfect’ Buddhist is impossible because it would require the follower to no longer have natural human qualities.

There are plenty more details to be observed and disected in my painting, especially because it has to do with something as complex as religion. I don’t exactly want to point out every possible interpetation, because I like to leave a little mystery, plus it would take forever. Let me know what you think of my painting and how you personally interpret it!

Posted by: nicodemomanifesto | September 20, 2009

Rousseau and Primitivism

I have a history paper due at the end of the semester. The subject can be anything I want as long as it is within the 19th and 20th centuries. It’s a long paper so I really want to choose a topic that will spark my interest and hold my attention. Naturally, I went looking for potential topics within the realm of art history, and Post-Impressionism has always been a favorite of mine so I looked for artists or movements during this era.

I didn’t want to do Gauguin or Van Gogh because I’ve already researched them plenty and have done them in past projects. Rather, I was looking for something fresh and intriguing, so who better than Henri Rousseau? Nobody, that’s who! The reason I find Rousseau so compelling is because his paintings are based off of pure imagination, plus he had no formal training so he really developed his own personal style. His paintings which I like most are those which portray a jungle scene, because he made them while he was living in Paris yet they present a scenery which is completely foreign to his location.

File:Rousseau-Hungry-Lion.jpg

The above painting, The Hungry Lion Throws Itself on the Antelope (1905), is one which I especially like. Rousseau’s style is almost childish, which I find just gives it more of a fantastical edge.

In my history paper I also need to make an argument, not just document the life of the artist of my choice. So I looked farther into the beliefs of Henri Rousseau and found that he is associated with Primitivism, a philosophy which argues that mankind was better off during it’s primitive years, before it was corrupted by society and modern amenities. I’m going to explore the legitimacy of Primitivism and explain how it connects to Rousseau’s art. I’ve always been attracted to the idea of Primitivism, especially when the pressures of school and society start to weigh heavy. Why not just run away into the woods and live off the fat of the land?

henri_rousseau_traumgarten

Posted by: nicodemomanifesto | September 14, 2009

My First Blog, kind of

Just a song I’ve been listening to a lot lately to set the mood 😉

My name is Nicodemo (but most people call me Nick) and this is my attempt at starting a Blog and keeping it up! I’ve created a few other First Blogs on various other websites and none of them really stuck. Maybe it’s because I felt it was useless writing them or because they didn’t really have a purpose. But I feel like this time is different. Like this Blog might be the one for me.

The reason for this is because I have a friend who has been blogging daily for the past one or two weeks. He really wants me to start one as well and I think if we’re both doing it it will be more fun. Also I want to have a bit of a theme to my Blog this time around, not just me talking about myself all the time. I’m not really sure EXACTLY what I want to do yet, but I have a bit of an idea. I know I want my Blog to have something to do with art, because it’s what I like most. Either I’ll post pictures of works I’ve done or works in progress, or maybe I’ll post pictures of paintings that I really like and talk about them for a bit, I don’t really know yet. I didn’t want to start my Blog until I got a clear idea of what the theme would be but I figured if I stuck to that rule it would have taken me forever to begin. Rather, I’m just going to experiment with the two ideas for a bit and see where it goes. I’ll let the theme evolve organically and see what fits best.

Okay well enough boring you! I promise my future posts will be more entertaining than this one. I just wanted to lay it all out on the table right away so that I could do the more fun stuff later.

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