Monday, February 25, 2008

Some Artists Who Confound our Perception of Space (and some that I just like for other reasons).

Paul Klee
I came across this watercolour painting by Paul Klee for the first time the other day. If I've seen it before, I don't remember it. I think it's a brilliant analysis/ parody of the conventions of pictorial space, with its shifting horizon lines and transparencies. The application of the "scientific" perspective-construction approach to a flat stick-figure is cool, and like so much of Klee's work, the painting seems uncannily "ahead of its time".

Uncomposed Objects in Space, 1929

Thomas Huber
(b. Zurich, 1955)
I first discovered Thomas Huber's work around 1990, and his work has continued to amaze me ever since. I'm particularly interested in his experimentation with different (and conflicting) levels of pictorial space "beyond" the picture plane. As described on Galerie Akinci's website,

Huber conceives of the pictorial space as a place to live. The fact that paintings are open on the spectator's side means that the spectator can enter the picture. According to Huber, the painting is not a surface but a boundary, a dividing-line between appearance and reality.

I'm also interested in the references to "instruction" in Huber's work-- each painting seems to function (self-consciously and with ironic intent) as a sort of fable.

Lachen und Weinen, 1996


Entresol, 2003

Paolo Uccello
(b. circa 1397)
The Miracle of the Profaned Host (1467-1468, tempera on wood)
For many years, I've been fascinated by Uccello's use of cutaway views (and a sort of accordion-folded perspective) in this painting, allowing him to show multiple, seemingly discrete stories simultaneously.

Royksopp Video
The beautiful video by H5 of France for Royksopp's song, "Remind Me"
, achieves everything I always wanted to do with microscopic-to-macroscopic vantage points, but better, in a couple of minutes. Play video.

Maginot Line
Below: murals and frescoes from the underground tunnels of the Maginot Line.
From Wikipedia:
The Maginot Line (IPA: [maʒi'noː], named after French minister of defense André Maginot) was a line of concrete fortifications, tank obstacles, artillery casemates, machine gun posts, and other defenses, which France constructed along its borders with Germany and Italy, in the light of experience from World War I, and in the run-up to World War II. Generally the term describes either the entire system or just the defenses facing Germany, while the Alpine Line is used for the Franco-Italian defenses.
I really like the earnestness of these attempts to create illusionistic "outdoor" spaces beyond the claustrophobic tunnel walls. And the fact that art, in this case, acquires the status of a necessity-- a contributor to the mental health of the tunnel occupants.

Yi Eung-nok
Korean, born 1808

This is an eight-panel screen. I am inferring that the objects are depicted at approximately "real" scale. I am intrigued by the choice of one-point perspective, and how the painting suggests only a slight deepening of the space of the room. My initial take on the stacks of paper and knick-knacks was that they appeared surprisingly mundane and contemporary as subject matter. Apparently, though, these objects are "symbols of the scholar's life, evoking the Confucian ideal of self-cultivation as a duty to society" (Kenneth Baker.)

Rik Hagt
I saw this artist's work for the first time the other day, on a Dutch blog that also showed a few images of my own work. I think that what attracted me to this painting was my interest in "style", as a set of visual characteristics that allow us to immediately pinpoint the time period in which an object was made. Hagt's methodical rendering of the quirky bedspread pattern (not once, but twice), gives the room a sense of austerity. There is something about painting a picture of a patterned fabric that is sort of like painting a picture of a painting-- an interpretation of an abstraction.

Damian Ortega
This appears to be "3-D" version of the early 20th century attempts to capture rapid movement in a static painting (such as Duchamp's "The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes" of 1912, below.) I like how all the chair parts seem to compete with one another for space, and the fact that Ortega carried through with the tedious joinery necessary to realize this piece.

Marcel Duchamp

The King and Queen Surrounded by Swift Nudes, 1912

Kenny Hunter
(b. Edinburgh, Scotland 1962)

This Scottish artist stylizes his figures in a way that seems to refer simultaneously to a sort of Lego aesthetic, and to the kinds of figures one might see in Chinese propaganda posters. The contexts of the figures suggest the history of "the monument", but the figures' attitudes suggest humility and isolation. Each figure's "gaze" seems to be contained within the space that is claimed by the sculpture.

Seated Couple

Reclining Man, 2004