30 November 2008

Visioni interiori - Bill Viola

(from an email to a dear friend)

Today i went to see an individaul exhibition of Bill Viola which I loved soooo much! This is the first time that I saw a solo show of Bill Viola and i was completely stunned by his work ...

A little story: in 2002, i wrote him an email inviting him to go to Hong Kong for an artist-in-residence project for 6 months. Then he replied me not by email but a letter, a hand-written letter posted with a stamp!! I still remember the letter was written in capital letters, begins with "DEAR SELINA" and ends with "YOURS, BILL". I was so touched when I received it though the reply was negative.... unfortunately, i couldn't keep it as a souvenir but had to file it into the documents. Probably now a piece of torn paper.

I knew a bit of his work but never really seen one until in Paris. I was so excited to discover this solo show, which is so unexpected and yet marvellously beautiful !! There are 16 vidoes all together, a correct size for a video show in my opinion. Most of the shows in Paris museums are huge that determined to exhaust the visitors. 16 pieces is really good, on average 15 mins on each video, which is about the right running time of Viola's work, so you spent 3 hours for the visit and able to see almost all the work in complete.

I like in particular The crossing (1996), Catherine's Room (2001), Five Angels for the Millennium (departing angel) (2001), The Greeting (1995), The Veiling (1995) and Ocean without Shore (2007). His video gives audience a total experience (which hits me some much right now since I've been troubled with the word "exhibition" for a while), every single piece is an integration of visual aesthetic, sound, lighting, emotion, vision and imagination, and sometimes even physical movement of the space when the sound goes to a certain high frequency that the wall starts to shake!

Most of them are so emotionally intense yet all the images go so slowly, like taking a break from the reality to chew on the feelings of that particular single moment in life. The low frequency of the sounding system hypnotise the audience, you feel like you are entering into that moment of life, that you hear your own breathing, that you are completely surrounded by the vacuum of the distilled minute. Watching his video is like passing through redemption. He is a very meditative artist who like to explore the issues of life and death, memory and reality, suffrance and internal peace, emotion and detachment, etc. I like the title of the show, "visioni interiori", that's very Bill Viola !

I am not a big fan of video art, but Bill Viola is more than a video artist. He uses new technology to re-interprete the classical visual aesthetics. His images (the composition, the lighting, the colours scheme, the contrast, etc) are direct descendents of the italian renaissance, but the emotion and the attitude are contemporary, despite the fact that they are universal and eternal human predicament. When I stood in front of the five small screens of Catherine's Room, I coudn't take my eyes away from them ! The simple arrangement of the interior of each scene, the careful choice of colour (particularly the window and the fabric), the change of lighting, the slowness and tranquility of the movements... all the banality and confinement become such an immense visual pleasure, and every movement goes directly to the inner world of the personnage, so peaceful. At that moment, I dreamed to have some classical italian beauty and grace to be there in the scenes.

The other work, The Veiling, in which he set up 9 layers of silk screen with appx 30 cm of space in between, double projections from both ends through the silk layers. With the density of 9 layers, the images are perceivable but floating and sometimes nine-folded. It gives you the illusion of watching a 3D movie without the glasses on.

Ocean without Shore was created for the Venice Biennale last year. I haven't see the installation in its original scale. The version they are showing here is a looping of all the videos in the series. It's so powerful in terms of theme and images. It starts with black and white blur images of a person walking slowly towards the fixed camera. There is an invisible water screen in front, the moment when s/he passes the water screen, again everything in slow motion, the water splashes brutally on his/her body and s/he emerges from the water screen to a high-definition colour image, stunned himself as well the audience, he looks bewildered, troubled, excited and refreshed, like a rebirth or 1 minute in heaven. Then s/he truned quietly and passes again the water screen to his/her black and white blur world, sometimes, s/he would look back with nostalgic eyes, then disappears in melancholy. That's so powerful, really taking your breath away. It's the last video in the show and the latest of among the works as well, but the show is not chronological. When you finish a show with a powerful work, you look back with nostalgia too! An important consideration for a curator, I guess ! (Click to see the presentation of Bill Viola on Ocean without Shore)

Obviously, for Viola, the presentation (scenography) of each piece is perceived the moment the video is conceived. I appreciate the idea that artists create work with in mind the idea of showing instead of selling !

Bill Viola - Visioni Interiori / Palazzo delle Esposizioni di Roma / now - 06 January 09

Every line has a meaning - Basquiat

Jean-Michel Basquiat
1960 born in Brooklyn / 1988 died in New York

"My work has nothing to do with graffiti. It is painting and always has been".

"Every line has a meaning".

Basquiat soared into the heavens of art like a shining star, and then in 1988 at the age of 28 he died of an overdose. His explosive new aesthetic – iconoclastic and obscene – shock the puritan WASP art world from its prolonged slumber.

In less than eight years Basquiat succeeded in establishing new figurative and expressive elements alongside the Conception Art and Minimal Art that had dictated the style of America and Europe. Faced with the enthusiasm with which his work was greeted, particularly in Europe, America found itself obliged to shake off its initial indifference and for the first time to recognize a black artist as the symbol of the creative potential of the ethnic minorities.

The meteoric rise of the young painter, whose mother came from Puerto Rico and father from Haiti, shock America. Basquiat was black, had no art training and came from the New York underground. From the age of 18 he had covered house walls in SoHo and carriages on the underground railway with angry, frantic images. His iconography was brutal, destructive, without hierarchy and rules, virtuoso, furious and seductive. It took its bearings from Haiti, Puerto Rico, an imaginary Africa and Pop Art. With his gigantic skulls, grilles and feathers, threateningly gaping mouth and top hats – he opened art up to dissolution, and instability, to the "other" and to the "negative". During the ten years in which he had a decisive influence on art, the most successful black American painter embodied the New Wave version of the epoch-making figure of the accursed artist.

Jean-Michel Basquiat / Fondazione Memmo, Rome / now - 01 Feb 2009

23 November 2008

Roma - Italia

第一次遊覽羅馬,是十年前的事。逗留了三天,去了vatican 一趟,對羅馬的印象只有古羅馬癈墟,其次便是中央火車站,因為在那裡的電話亭打了電話回家,興奮地告訴爸爸,「我到了羅馬﹗」

這次重遊羅馬,打算步遊這座古城。應朋友之邀而來,住的地方正是羅馬市中心,一條街五分鐘直達西班牙廣場和 spanish steps。昨天北上 villa borghese,今天東走西班牙廣場至二戰記念館,途經許願池折回酒店。

日落時刻的西班牙廣場 及遊人,還有天空中飛舞的群鳥,牠們的形態、組合變化、速度,真令人嘆為觀止。可惜拍不下來。

建築師朋友 Pisanu 特意帶我去看他最喜歡的羅馬當代建築 -- Museo dell'Ara Pacis,美國建築師 Richard Meier的作品,它讓我想起柏林的 national gallery,極簡潔冼練的線條,很有 minimalism的味道。當我看見它時,我再一次告訴我自己,我真的不喜歡Frank Gehry,還有 Louis Kahn那一系的合我品味。

前往 Villa Borghese 時無意中發現的,相信是以前的古羅馬城牆。路牌上寫著的是 「Largo Federico Felini」,不知Felini以前是否住在這裡。離我巴黎家三分鐘路程是 Rue Francois Truffaut。


沿途又踫到一個正在進行中的行為藝術,雕塑小狗名叫 Lilli,牠的本性讓牠隨處方便,於是,藝術家指責道,「你好停止此等行為。」當然,弄髒地方的幕後真兇是另有其人。真是指桑駡槐。

這露天咖啡座叫 Cafe de Paris,很美很服適,很像熱帶家中的客廳,可能太像家了,結果沒客人坐上去呢。

17 November 2008

The Strike Schedule

A friend is leaving for Dubai tomorrow with Air France to start his new life and exciting career there. However, the uncertainty of life starts with an uncertain flying schedule. Air France pilots are on strike against the new proposal of postponing the retirement age from 60 to 65.

News from AFP, with a newly released strike schedule in France :

On Monday, Pilots on strike.
On Tuesday and possibly again on Sunday, railway staff are due to take action in protest against proposed changes to working hours.
On Thursday it will be the turn of teachers to demonstrate against working conditions and job cuts, joined by high school and university students.
On Saturday post office staff will march to express opposition to the privatisation of the Post Office.

Euuh......... at least we will have a day off from strikes on Friday... gosh! I am flying on that day to Rome ! I wish there would be pilots and railway workers !

16 November 2008

Picasso et les Maitres

Photo acknowledgement : Galerie du Grand Palais

This is a major retrospective of Picasso’s oeuvre, exploring how the central themes and subjects of 18th, 19th and 20th-century painting have remained constant through the more modern of Picasso’s art, bolstering the artist’s own claim that “in art, there is neither a past, nor a future”. The exhibition is arranged into ten large sections, each devoted to a different theme adopted by the artist. Commencing with a section devoted to self-portraits and portraits of painters, a homage to the grand masters that greatly inspired Picasso, the exhibition starts in earnest from the beginning of Picasso’s career, looking at his years of study and his works in charcoal at the end of the 19th century, principally contrasted against those of the French and Spanish schools including works by Velásquez and Manet.

The exhibition then moves to Picasso’s years in Paris at the turn of the 20th century and to his interest in the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist trends of that era, notably painters such as Renoir and van Gogh. Sections on Cubism, engraving and slide film see Picasso’s work contrasted against that of Cézanne, Rembrandt, Poussin and David, whilst sections on eroticism and nudes present Picasso’s interpretation of famous pieces by Titian, Degas and Goya. The exhibition ends with sections devoted to the seated woman and portraits, highlighting in particular the works inspired by Picasso’s lovers, alongside paintings by Ingres, Manet and van Gogh.

Galeries Nationales du Grand Palais

8 October 2008 - 27 January 2009

Photo Credit :

1. Grand nu au fauteuil rouge
Pablo PicassoParis, 5 mai 1929
Huile sur toile, 195 x 129 cmMusée Picasso, Paris
© Succession Picasso

2. Madame Moitessier

Jean Auguste- Dominique Ingres 1856
Huile sur toile, 120 x 92,1 cm
The National Gallery, Londres

7 November 2008


今天收到 bernice 陳國慧的電郵,說阿麥房主告訴她我的摶客,她偶而上來看看。我的摶客出產率極低,兩個月兩篇文章,基本上進入半癱瘓狀態。IATC 陳經理到訪,偏偏電郵的主題是關於我的專業會員資格的更新,不然覺得汗顏。我真不負責,寫寫又停停。沒恒心的人,是幹不了大事的。


每次在姐姐的摶客留言,總要依螢幕顯示的「核實驗證」輸入字母,有一次試了好幾回都輸入錯誤,摶客告訴我,「It seems that you have difficulties reading the letters」,自此之後,我就發現,字母顯示清楚而簡單得多了。今天才注意到,原來旁邊有一個殘障標誌,看來摶客可真把我列入智障名單之內了。

1 November 2008

Marlène Mocquet – 童話與惡夢之間

文字及攝影 / 丁燕燕
圖片提供 / Galerie Alain Guthrac

Marlene Mocquet 的作品有一種魔力。掛在一大堆作品當中,它總是第一個跳出來,攝住你的注意力。遠遠地看,你會以為它是抽象畫,並被它獨特的色彩感吸引。近距離觀察,你看見一個個形狀奇異、色彩斑斕的小生物在畫面上游走,它們瞪著大眼睛、張大了嘴巴,進入極度驚慌的狀態;穿著紅裙的小女孩成為了故事的主人翁,穿梭在一個又一個畫面上,她迷失、驚愕、好奇、失措、勇敢。Marlene以繪畫來創造她的小宇宙,詩意、狂想、感情豐富,也叫人不安。有人說她的作品是小孩的幻想世界,天真,或者是,但絕對不單純。是童話世界的魔境?是孩提時代的夢魘?還是對成人世界的不信任?



Marlene喜歡意外,29歲的她也是在意想不到的情況下開展藝術事業。2006年從巴黎國立美院畢業,在畢業作品展中,她的作品得到評審團的推許,包括著名藝術家 Daniel Firman,Firman致電當時正與時裝設計師Christian Lacroix在一起的畫廊老闆Guthrac先生,兩人趕來買下了作品,同時附上畫廊合同一份,幾個月後,首次個展便在Alain Guthrac畫廊舉行,今明九月是Marlene的第二個個展。「我沒想過自已會這麼快找到機會,但當機會來時我抓住了。當Alain Guthrac問我是否有信心開個展時,我說有,事情就這樣開始了。」

藝術家需要才華,也需要機遇。能在不可掌握的現實世界中抓住機會,這也要考眼力、心力。就如 Marlene的作品,你給它三秒鐘的注視,它就能叫你一見難忘,你以後永遠也不可能認錯。這就是Marlene Mocquet 的魔力。

1.《凋零的蘋果樹》,2008,混合媒體,26,5 x 22 釐米
2.《在樓梯上的小女孩》, 2008, 混合媒體,55 x 46 釐米
3.《大力水手Popeye與寵物們》,2008,混合媒體,200 x 200 釐米

4. 《牆上的白鋼手》,2008,混合媒體,200 x 200 釐米

5.《在肥沃土地上的兔子》,2008,混合媒體,200 x 200 釐米