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By: Adam Kelly
European contemporary arts practitioner | Painter | Debut solo show Grandfather at AirSpace Gallery | 25 January to 2 February 2013 | Currently working on paintings that display a post-graduate visual growth.
Lives and works in Surrey, United Kingdom
# 25 [18 May 2013]
STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, 2013, directed by J. J. Abrams.
★ out of ★★★★
The highly anticipated sequel to 2009's reboot of the STAR TREK film franchise disappoints in almost every means at it's disposal. However, our villain shines like a gold statue in a silverware shop as the new younger crew of the USS Enterprise find themselves pitted against an adversary that bests them in every way.
INTO DARKNESS finds the crew of the Enterprise in the frontier of space performing their duties as silent protectors of other civilisations with an ever rule-breaking cocky Captain Kirk (played by Chris Pine) having been demoted. Meanwhile, a mysterious former agent of Starfleet known as John Harrison (played by Benedict Cumberbatch) destroys a secret installation and manages to attack several admirals and captains before being pursued to the farthest reaches of space where the crew of the Enterprise will learn shocking secrets that reveal the true enemies and friends.
Whilst the first in the new franchise of STAR TREK films was well received in 2009 and would have garnered 2 out of 4 stars from this reviewer, INTO DARKNESS delivers less awe than a serving of tiramisu and can only be justified by its lead villain Kahn this time played by Cumberbatch with exuberant passion and a ferocious aura that reminds us why this baddie is probably one of the greatest film villains of all time, and an excellent addition to the best film antagonists in recent years. Superior to the Romulans in physical and mental strength, as our human crew, Kahn represents a favourite of director J. J. Abrams' auteur in recent years: catastrophes/menaces spawned out of human ingenuity seeking vengeance against their captors with humanity as hero and villain. If it wasn't the giant monster in the Abrams-produced CLOVERFIELD, 2008, then it was the alien in SUPER 8, 2011, or the meteorite in his co-authored film ARMAGEDDON, 1998. Personally, several directors of other genres are joining the science-fiction band-waggon with this reviewer dying to see Guillermo del Toro's vision in PACIFIC RIM to be released this year which should follow a del Toro theme similar to Abrams [del Toro was here first]. It becomes apparent that the two keywords of this picture are "feel" and "loss" with a theme of "terrorism" coursing through the veins of INTO DARKNESS' heart, as acts of personal revenge and heroism all reveal consequences. Unfortunately, Abrams' direction confirms that he has very little to teach his audiences about cinema, and that if he is not paying homage to the pictures of Steven Spielberg in SUPER 8, then he is trying to dumb-down the beloved STAR TREK franchise for a target audience of twelve year-olds who most likely have never seen an episode let alone a film from the original series.
If Trekkies were expecting INTO DARKNESS to be their EMPIRE STRIKES BACK then they may very well be upset by how it "does not feel like a STAR TREK movie", producing a script of cheesy metaphors (apparently still utilised in the distant future) as well as numerous references and performances befitting an otherwise rubbish 'Beverley Hills 90210' school play production of Star Trek. The ending also has little resolve losing it's momentum, and demonstrating why it could alienate fans of the franchise; and whilst it leaves room for a sequel, it probably does not deserve such a feat. It is very difficult to accept that some critics actually wish to see INTO DARKNESS receive Academy-Award nominations#, whilst a Best Supporting Actor nod for Cumberbatch is more likely, although the Academy is famous for not always embracing the science-fiction genre. If what we have seen of Abrams' work is to present us with any clues to the ditsy direction of the highly anticipated new title in the STAR WARS saga (EPISODE VII (2015), then fans could very well be disappointed, and should expect heart and soul script-writing to be replaced with mechanical robotic direction and tasteless performances from the young folks.
Here's hoping to an improved follow-up and until then "Live Long and Prosper".
#'Summer Movies with Oscar Potential' by Thelma Adams http://tinyurl.com/nlxjaym
# 24 [4 May 2013]
Highlighted Upcoming Film - PACIFIC RIM, 2013, directed by Guillermo del Toro
The director of BLADE II, the HELLBOY films, and PAN'S LABYRINTH doing a sci-fi summer blockbuster about giant robots battling giant monsters? Ridiculous you say? Far from it - del Toro has come a long way since writing and directing unique World Cinema films with either a horror or fantasy flavour as evidenced when he made his first "mainstream" transition with Blade II (2002); often dubbed the best film of the Blade trilogy; which he infused with his love of fantastical creatures in a horror setting.
But his pet project was always the titular character of the HELLBOY films (2004, 2008) which also featured his muse Ron Pearlman in the lead role of a good-guy demon battling to protect humanity. Even the word "humanity" is a key to understanding del Toro's oeuvre, as his characters often represent the best-and-worst of our species (e.g. courage, greed, curiosity, evil, etc.). The point is, humanity is depicted in his films as being the cause of their predicament (e.g. the mechanical vampire-like device in CRONOS, 1993, or the titular mechanical army in HELLBOY II: THE GOLDEN ARMY, 2008) and for this PACIFIC RIM should be no different, as the Kaiju (giant monsters) in the film arrive not from space but from the Pacific Ocean [alluding to the BP Oil Spill of 2010 and other such disasters] and before long, humans are forced to build giant robots to battle the creatures in a fight reminiscent of the Titan-Olympian battle from Greek mythology.
You might think "monsters coming from the ocean battling humans? doesn't that sound like CLOVERFIELD (2008) produced by J.J. Abrams [who also wrote and directed the Spielberg-homage monster film SUPER 8 (2011)?" and the answer is not "yes". Whilst that similarity of origins for the lead monster(s) is similar it no-way represents unoriginality and artistic depth, as personally CLOVERFIELD and SUPER 8 were far from being "excellent" - CLOVERFIELD was nothing more than an MTV movie with annoying human characters and SUPER 8 was little-more than a rip-off Spielberg cinema, which demonstrate Abrams over-rated spectacle and left this reviewer in boredom for STAR TREK (2009 - on that note the new STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS, 2013, seems a right snooze-fest, and gives little hope that the direction in STAR WARS EPISODE VII, 2015, will be any good because of Abrams).
Although it has been 5 years since del Toro's last film (HELLBOY II), this film should demonstrate that whether Hollywood has succeeded in recruiting him, del Toro is very much an auteur and chooses his projects carefully, and makes them into visual splendors regardless of the budget or box-office gross. If you are a fan of his cinema, or just enjoy the Kaiju monster movies of Japan such as Godzilla, maybe even just want to watch a decent summer blockbuster, then PACIFIC RIM should be the choice you make.
# 23 [12 February 2013]
Mock Artist Talk +4
Q: A few weeks have passed since your debut solo show 'Grandfather' at Airspace Gallery from 25 January to 2 February. Where did the motivation to create the surprisingly different paintings featured in the show come from?
A: Most of the paintings with two exceptions were created in 5-minutes each over the two weeks before the exhibition, and like their debut in the aforementioned show, they were shown without hesitation, and with a long-awaited desire to just... paint. You always hear that expression "do not think too much" but you need to actually experience its message to understand it.
Q: With more colour and far-less abstract visual imagery, do the new paintings differentiate from your chosen themes of nationalism and/or identity?
A: No because much like the dictionary there are numerous definitions of the same word - much like different brands or styles of compasses all of which still lead you in the same direction. An example to examine is the painting 'Polish Sausage (Kabanos)' [see enclosed image] which includes a facial portrait made of eponymous sausages, topped with some Euro currency notes, and finished with a toxic looking puddle-of-a-smile. The chosen national icon of Poland (being half Polish myself) is the Kabanos which can at first look a tad pruney and skinny but is actually treated with almost as much respect as the farmers who harvest it, and the butchers who make it. Plus, there is a slightly non-realistic depiction of the Euro currency as a means to frame the narrative of the painting as not just being about sausages but also financial recession and a lack of culinary choice.
Q: There is a visual link with one of the paintings to Philip Guston [born 1913 died 1980] an American painter whom has been an influence on yours and many others' practices for his abstract and figurative work that often transcended the cartoonish aesthetic. Was this intentional and where there other works that were made from an intended influence?
A: Well one other painting was almost a close gloss paint replica Francisco Goya [born 1746-1828] with "cartoonish" alteration that is well received, and not strictly speaking but the crown object in another painting was conceived from the famous 'Keep Calm and Carry On' posters, and one featuring a snake, a cowboy hat and a blue jean leather bag seemed to very loosely originate from the Kings of Leon [American band, formed 1999] track 'King of the Rodeo' as symbols of the capitalist West (as a metaphor). Other than that, the paintings came from original intent, motivation and inspiration from items seen in everyday life that have a sense of pride bestowed on them like pub signs.
Q: From graduate to graduate artist-in-residence; what does the future hold for the practice?
A: Possibly applying for Masters studies or art courses in painting to increase knowledge of the medium, continue networking and developing the career prospects. There are ideas floating around for a self-organised group painting show in London because the time away from the capital was been lovely and it is terrific to return to the city that bore me and that I hope to exhibit in more often. Sculpture will likely not be continued again for a very long time due to lack of resoures, space and knowledge & comfortability with the medium to be able to craft it in this day and age. If there was a further education course to study in the future with a provided studio, tutors and mentors then sculpture might continue in the form of portable clay works that would act as forms for new paintings.
# 22 [12 February 2013]
I Moustache You a Question About These Contemporary Paintings
Attached to this post are two images of sketches to new paintings that have yet to be produced physically.
The first image contains sketches of the proposed 'moustache paintings' (see post #21), and an 'ivory painting' that much like 'Gold' (2013, see image) would depict an object of greed and defective use repeatedly. As a possible symbol of nationalism and a good or bad memory to different communities, both gold and ivory have tantalised not just societies in the western hemisphere but across different continents, as these mere trinket inanimate items have the power to start and end wars. In this conversation, the proposed depiction of smoke-pipes into this practices visual palette would not necessarily replicate that of influential contemporary painters such as Ryan Mosley (b. 1980) working today, but rather continue the progress of representing this eccentricly iconic object in contemporary painting as one of many dinosaur bones in the Natural History Museum.
There are sketches of proposed paintings that include a rasping, sweating tuba on a sculpted pedestal; a cave mouth constructed from stalagmites and stalagtites; and a star being fired from a circus cannon.
Further sketches in the second image include a panel full of strangely hooded shopping carrier bags; moustaches; abstract clay sculptures; ideas for a portrait featuring an Amish hair style; a bearded skull; a socialist realist star sculpture; a gangsta bandana; boiled eggs; and a cut-out face portrait featuring a triangular nose and moon-shaped mouth. However many of these ideas will become a reality is yet to be established, though out of the sketches shown from the second image the most coherent seem to be: the moustaches, and the hooded shopping carrier bags.
What this means is that the practice has NOT and will NOT sell-out, suddenly changing visual styles and imagery just to grab a chance at becoming a profitable painter capable of selling work. This is not capitalistism, this is evolution.
# 21 [11 February 2013]
Working men's clubs and pubs
An unusual spot of influence to the visual imagery depicted in the contemporary paintings has come from the post's eponymous title.
The recent exhibition visit to the UKs capital hubbub for culture and arts has invigorated the desire to paint with purpose and for pleasure. The main seismic force behind this revelation has been to continue the much-loved practice of painting, whilst continuing to search for the answers to questions relating to the medium such as "what is its place in the future?", "how is it different today from the last decade?" and more. These queries are not necessarily the result of searching for further tutelage in the form of an extensive painting course or Masters further education, but predominantly from the mindset of choosing ones bed and laying in it.
In the eponymous posts venues there can be found multitudes of alcoholic beverage glasses, gambling machines, dart boards and much more down-to-earth working class icons that symbolise nostalgia and reality. In these locations the last remnants of the dinosaurs that once ruled the earth exist as mobile exhibits in museums that testify to their ancestors.
In this respect the paintings' consistent theme of nationalism is always present and much like society today that has graduated from the Y2K scare, everything is constantly changing, and adapting. One day; and most of us hope it will not come; the dictionary will only be available electronically and several editions of paper publications will become the fabled tablets that have been introduced and slowly imposed upon this hemisphere.
Despite giving a mixed review of last year's first film in a new teenie franchise THE HUNGER GAMES, directed and co-adapted by Gary Ross (SEABISCUIT, 2003 and PLEASANTVILLE, 1998 fame), the film was perhaps the most realistic portrayal of life in the future-to-be where technology culture and liberal fashions have become standard against morally upright behaviour. Unfortunately the film still missed key moments to contribute provoking thought to social climates and poltical engagements. However this is not a review blog or entry, and the films relation to this conversation's topic is to present an example of the troubles that should be exhaled from our lungs, replaced by breathable culture and philosophic discussion.
It seems nostalgia is still the petrol which fuels this blogs alienation to the greater society we are living in today, and whether it deserves to be deemed a world fit to raise your children or start a family.
Luckily there are some aspects to culture and the arts that make the world not ending in 2012 sweet and charming such as the long-standing paintings of Old Masters like Rembrandt van Rijn (1606-1669), Fransisco Goya (1796-1828) and Modern Masters such as Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) and Philip Guston (1913-1980).
Just being surrounded by like-minded people in a friendly yet challenging environment with minimal violence but maximum competance like a pub allows one to appreciate their home-grown roots and current national identity.
These situations seem to produce revolutionary images of objects utilised to everyday means and becoming synonymous with status such as smoking pipes, moustaches, dart boards and more. With the passage of time, some of these idiosyncratic objects have entered the canvases of some of the best contemporary painters working today that serve as influence such as Ryan Mosley (b. 1980).
When it appears as though there are few reasons worth living in a time period where a nine year-old girl gives birth to a child whose father is seventeen years old, contemporary painting revitalises that feeling of imagination and a creative impulse that has beautifully crossed-over from previous centuries to the present day.
Let the arts no longer be liberal but belong to the left or the right, because you do not paint with your torso but your hand.
# 20 [1 February 2013]
End of Graduate Residency
The conclusion of this 6-month Graduate Artist Residency here at AirSpace Gallery from September 2012 to February 2013 resulted in the cultivation of a debut solo show that will forever be listed on the curriculum vitae, and records.
The affectionately titled GRANDFATHER solo exhibition was (without displaying bias) a triumph of communal involvement. Along with the Residency programme, the time spent at Stoke-on-Trent's premier venue for contemporary art has taught lessons in writing and achieving life goals that will hopefully carry into the future. With that in mind, regular submissions and art prizes previously avoided should be expecting another plus one applicant in attendance to their respective events.
Be it may a poster, or a gavel the trick to enforcing justice is a marketing tool that grabs attention. (tweet from twitter.com/adamkellyeu, 2013)
Response from visitors has been positive, with some feeling the work expresses unique qualities to contemporary painting, whilst others express a lukewarm invitation to the exhibit via the cloaked figure in the window [Survived Socialism #1 (version two) see image].
Based in the Hanley city centre of Stoke-on-Trent, AirSpace has a pleasant atmosphere as an ambassador to contemporary art, protected by SoT Police Station Headquarters (five minutes walk), critically evaluated by the City Central Library (five minutes walk), and historically aligned with the Potteries Museum & Art Gallery (two minutes walk).
Even without the studio and mentored support of AirSpace and its resident artists, the blog will carry on its course, noting interests, fascinations and updates in the world of contemporary art.
GRANDFATHER at AirSpace Gallery ends tomorrow, with impressive visitor numbers spanning it's run from 25 January to 2 February, and becoming the organisation's second exhibition of the new year.
# 19 [26 January 2013]
Weather Affliction and Contemporary Art
The opening of a long-awaited debut solo show GRANDFATHER at AirSpace Gallery in Stoke-on-Trent has seen the whole area swept by heavy snow, converting it into a blank canvas begging for painting.
This has caused a probable decrease in expected numbers of attendance but nonetheless historical and personal records attached to several persons will indicate it's existence and therefore an undeniable fact.
From the 25 January to 2 February 2013, the exhibition will run from 11am to 5pm everyday except Sunday and Monday when the venue is closed.
This learns another lesson about planning for weather conditions and their impact on contemporary art, and not just from visitor record numbers but also in how the presentation of the work might communicate with the socioeconomic pretenses. It is the same thinking that begs us to question the choice of venue, the selected arts practitioners etc etc.
In this context, the snow which is uniquely European, has almost re-created the atmosphere of a city held in the highest regard by the exhibits leading painter: Warsaw. During the most cherished memories of the capital of Poland, the city has been receptive to fiercely cold conditions that have ironically caused an increase in personal labour, resulting in more painters, sculptors etc to think, to question and to produce to heart's content.
In a stunning turn of events, though visitor figures are affected, the increased dependency on imagination and consideration of life goals has only increased.
Whereas if this or any other residency was located in an environment with the harshest heat conditions that would naturally cause a desire to explore the world outside ones mind (external growth), the snow has caused an external growth, gathering friends, family, tutors etc together in the hopes of meeting an artistic stereotype: sitting and conversing the questions of the universe.
# 18 [26 January 2013]
New Contemporary Paintings
Although produced within the last weeks leading up to the debut solo show GRANDFATHER, the newly exhibited paintings show a depth to artistic control and determination, foreclosing theory and existential texts in favour of lifting a paintbrush and using it for it's key purpose: to paint.
It would seem daunting to keep throwing around posts about creating new pieces of work which either have or have not fruition-ed but that is just one key lesson learned on this Graduate Residency, to be mentioned at the evaluation meeting soon.
Without applauding ones self, the paintings continue the Surrealist practice of automatic painting, commissioning the painter to imagine imagery out of the mind. Abstracted from real-life, and turning the inanimate animate or the blackly comic into colour has been an astounding experience, contemplating the ability to be in control of ones life and thus their practice.
Speculating the described image below in intentional, allowing for viewer's to accumulate their own interpretation's of it's picture plane:
Painting: Polish Sausage (Kabanos) - see website
A grass green background accentuates two folded rectangles, one pink one purple. Accompanying the oddly abstracted currency notes are three brown saturated pieces of food (the eponymous sausages) that have spawned two eyes. To top the picture, a diluted aqua blue puddle shaped smile sits adjacent to the lower right corner of the piece, producing an overall face that is shadowed by hints of a darker shade of green.
Without penalising or mocking the visually impaired, this description hopefully makes a point that without describing the context of the image, and without producing a photograph of the titular painting, the viewer can imagine it in much the same way as the artist has imagined its improvised production.
For actual images of the work included in GRANDFATHER, please visit the author's web-link at www.adam-kelly.com
# 17 [26 January 2013]
With the opening of the long-awaited debut solo show, GRANDFATHER, one is found with pride and conviction of their actions that have led the beginning to the end of the Graduate Residency a success.
Changes were made, thought processes were visualised, and goals were achieved with thank yous pointed out toward the gallery administrators for their continued support and encouragement.
Officially this blog will not be concluded, and all posts ascertaining to the partnership with the gallery will be maintained respectively. However the residency will officially conclude with the show's conclusion on Saturday 2 February 2013.
Without providing a spolier alert to viewers, GRANDFATHER has included both previously existing and newly made work, including two sculptures (one temporary).
This residency or any in a general sense can be encourage to those pondering a future in contemporary arts, much like the Professional Futures module of study (known by variable names) at University BA courses. Seeking temporary or permanent employment during the module generated decisive behaviour which would allow the person to consider their prospects. In comparison, a residency also teaches the practice of setting life goals; and without falling into a Nietzsche-esque depression; question the fabric of the subject's wants and needs.
Now is the time to browse the Degree Shows of 2013 and discover graduates whom are determined and autonomous. Because if there is one underlying concept evident in the title exhibition it is "to keep being creative".
# 16 [22 December 2012]
ul. Mozarta 3m 911 02-736 Warszawa paintings
Time is an enemy as well as an accomplice. Working neither for nor against the common thread, it will not accept payment but death. A key concern is to make dreams a reality, and nightmares a fear.
Secured in humanity's dominance over a common system, and the unlikely onset of a Biblical (Mayan origin) apocalypse, time has made it's power to intrigue and provoke. With this in mind, the moment to produce new contemporary paintings (as suggested in post # 11 [4 November 2012]) has not yet passed so a declaration of independence remains within reach.
Among the changes to come, the stable themes of nationalism and Europe are not to differentiate neither seek replacement over sub-dominant topics of nostalgia, and modernism. The key tool for battle; gloss paint; will never falter though the abandonment of accompanying medias such as marker pen will deteriorate to the point of banality. Future visual images will become more realistic, romantic and possibly figurative, permeated by a nostalgia locked deeper in the conscious. Drawing influence from Dutch Golden Age, Romanticism and New European Painting, the proposed work is to be produced as soon as physically, socially and financially possible (asapsafp).
Practitioners such as Rembrandt (1606-1669) and Francisco Goya (1746-1828) will engage in public appearances, with original visual imagery captured first-hand.
As can be witnessed from the inserted images, Rembrandt's 'The Night Watch' (1642) generally considered to be his masterpiece, has and will likely hold a strong visual influence in these future projected paintings, taken from works such as 'The Great Leap Forward' (see image) by author.
If guessed that situations with opposing 'light' and 'darkness' are a commonality, the connection is too simple-minded. It is relaying the chosen themes mentioned earlier that will investigate the wooden board/panel which will serve as canvas to the works waiting to be produced. Encroaching darkness is also not necessarily a motif in these works but dark backgrounds make for existential. philosophic thought.
If the image of a Norman Rockwell jumps into conscious thought then cease and desist reading this literature immediately.
In China, there assemblies of workers producing some of the best duplications of works by the Old Masters and movements such as Romanticism, Neo-Classicism etc. Whether this gives rise to the slow collapse of the Communist government and society is yet to be seen, however it enjoys another benefit of labelling further products (such as forgeries) to be "Made in China".
Such works are likely forbidden in Cuba and were either destroyed, controlled or seized in Communist Russia - but rest assured - these soon-to-be-produced contemporary paintings are not to institutionalise the downfall of these excellent societies but rather to work in their favour, promoting the European modernism that once held ground in Russia, the Soviet Bloc and Eastern Europe. The identity is to be unquestionable.
For those ever seeking to own a Rembrandt, a Goya, a Spanish master or an Old Master in general, the opportunity might approach.
The Socialist Realist movement promoted state-ism and an alliance with the working class which will also continue as a motif in future paintings, basically turning the bourgeois essence of these inserted images upside-down and embedding concepts such as nationalism into the pieces. Nostalgia could be turning around the bend dramatically.
The above title to the post #16 [22 December 2012] ul. Mozarta 3m 911 02-736 Warszawa relates to the former address of the living quarters of Edward Jezycki (1919-2005). Born and died in Warsaw (Poland), the city he loved.
European contemporary arts practitioner | Painter | Debut solo show Grandfather at AirSpace Gallery | 25 January to 2 February 2013 | Currently working on paintings that display a post-graduate visual growth.
Lives and works in Surrey, United Kingdom