Life Drawing – 11 August 2014

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Life Drawing – 21 August 2014

This gallery contains 24 photos.

I mixed things up a lot for this week, and made an abortive attempt at sculpting – abortive because the paper clay I prepared was still too moist, so wouldn’t hold the necessary weight. Lots of media – pencil, some … Continue reading

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Rare-These-Days Quote #61

“Constructivism demanded that every work speak plainly, and not mystify anyone. This was true of architecture, too: the building as declaration. Here is a design for the offices of the party newspaper Pravda. The problem was Lenin wasn’t interested in the avant-garde. He wanted a mass art. After him, Stalin, the terrible simplifier, made anything that wasn’t mass art a political crime. The Constructivists were, from his point of view, bourgeois formalists, little specks of useless free imagination in the great ocean of his new Russia. Some he killed, some he starved, and all of them he degraded, and state art went back to its original job – the narcissism of power.”

– Robert Hughes, The Shock of the New, Episode 2.

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Life Drawing – 14 August 2014

This gallery contains 10 photos.

Had a much better session today. Last week none of my paintings felt cooperative. Started out with charcoal gesture drawings, trying to situate the figures in actual space as often as possible. After that moved on to pencil + watercolor, … Continue reading

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A draft minus 100 words.

I lied once,
well, many times,
but this is one time I did.
I said there was an old metaphor
in philosophy of science
that “science is like a peach”,
it has a definite form,
but there is diffusion
all over its skin.

From its meatier flesh there grows
a fuzz,
a fuzziness out into the air,
the air,
which is not made of peach.
There might still be form in a peach,
we might still talk of a peach as
A Whole Thing Unto Itself,
a category of

one peach.

Though there are
parts peach
which mingle with the unpeach.

I think it was a white lie?
I wanted to convey
the Demarcation Problem
an old argument of

“What makes science not non-science?”

Because it parallels

“What makes art not non-art?”

“Peach” struck me,
in that moment,
a better metaphor
than Edmund Burke’s

Though no man
can draw a stroke
between the confines
of day and night,
yet light and darkness
are upon the whole
tolerably distinguishable.

“Night and day”,
too emphemeral,
so much just light,
where a peach is
all meat and stone.

And I’ve grown fond
of Voronsky, who said
“science is abstract,
art is concrete”.

Maybe I liked that
the peach seemed
so concrete
a concrete meat
a thought to put one’s hand around.

So not an old metaphor,
a new simile,
not made by me
but given up mysterious by the world
“fresh as if issued to children on a beach”.

How mystic.

But we still want definition
what is art like:
What Is Science?
What Is A Peach?

Art gets us at the world
the cement world
a world we cannot warp
by taking thought alone.

Art is paint that won’t run up a canvas.

Or: Art is the body in protest,
writhing with hunger or satisfaction.

Or: It only adds. I don’t understand how it subtracts.

And it says: This is!

Or: This is not!

And sometimes: This may be!

But it says it all, and tries
at least tries
not to be wrong.

And if art is wrong,
when it is a lie,
like my white lie,
when it thinks it has
succeeded in warping a world,
or added one cubit to its stature
with some scalpel of thought,
has it failed to be art?

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Clay Play

Block 2's makeshift clay stationLately my classmate, Angela Fisk, and I have been having a lot of fun learning to use clay. I did a lot of pottery as a teenager, and it’s just filled me with joy watching Angela fall in love with the medium so totally. I am hoping we can get more people to come a play, and learn the basics, so that even if the lecturers don’t tend to teach clay, students can pass the basics down, and perhaps Massey Fine Arts will have a ceramics club for a short while. The interest has been overwhelming, but that hasn’t translated into people actually taking up my offer to give them a lump of clay and get them started hand-building. That might be because people are busy, I don’t think any of the interest if just feigned, and I’m hoping that we can coordinate with the local Potter’s Association to make some cool stuff as a group. I’m going to go observe a pit firing in November so that perhaps we can negotiate around our art department’s lack of kiln(!) For my own part, I’ve been playing with brick patterns, with shifting and warping clay “plates”, and with liquifaction, all images associated with earthquakes, continuing my Christchurch earthquakes theme from last semester, but hopefully getting more general. I haven’t made anything beautiful or special yet, but I’m still in the experimenting stage, having lost nearly two weeks to the flu.

I’ve also been making paper clay, so that I can build sturdier and more delicate sculptures. It’s a tedious process, firstly you have to pulp a lot of paper, but the worse part is combining two parts clay with one part strained pulp. It it very messy work, but the resulting clay is satisfyingly versatile compared with raw clay!

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Jargon, What’s Art, and Recent Prizes.

I am currently taking a paper on Fine Arts Research. I have only had a few classes, but it already seems much less oppressive than our misleadingly titled “Critical Studies” papers, which I’m glad to have behind me. It is, however, raising some funny little questions, and placing me in quite a tense environment semi-regularly. Earlier this week we had to read out a paragraph towards a 500 word “Artist Statement”. I didn’t particularly want to read mine out to the class, but when nobody else on my side of the room would volunteer to read theirs I got impatient and took the plunge. I had to edit out whole portions of my paragraph as I read, knowing they would upset the lecturer. My original went along the lines of:

The great conceptual power of traditional media is its “invisibility”. Pretentious, abstruse art – the Hirsts, the Koonses, Kohs, and Warhols – it alienates and distances the working class. It scares them into believing they don’t “get” art, that art is for the elites, concealing its shallowness by baring it plain. It is the accessibility of traditional media, the way it slinks gracefully back behind its content, that allows representational art to be so much more politically radical than the formerly avant-garde who now cling to the art industry like a prudish heiress clutching her pearls.

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