Category Archives: Artcritics

The day the world was once more united.

Michael Arad and Peter Walker – 9/11 Memorial

We shall never forget the day the world stood still. We shall never forget those who gave their lives that day. We shall never forget the days after, we shall not ever forget. Many artists around the world contributed to the same cause by building fountains, sculptures even by rebuilding, to make sure we never forget what happened that day. To remind us how fragile our world can be, how only a few can take away the lives of many. How people all over the world united in greave.

Well, I didn’t want to have the reminder sort of in the sky, so that people would forever look at it. I wanted to have – really to create a city from the bottom up. From that foundation, which held, from the democratic power of what the site really is – Daniel Libeskind

Daniel Libeskind, an architect, artist and set designer, who was selected to oversee the rebuilding of the World Trade Centers He titled his concept for the site Memory Foundations, is one of those who made sure we wouldn’t forget by not only building a memorial monument but also by ‘rebuilding’ the site. It is very important to emphasize the fact that Libeskind did not see this project as being an urban one, he saw his master plan as being that which was a place of the spirit, the place were people perished. Therefor it was not a piece of real estate any longer. You could not simply put a building there. Instead he kept the space (where the the towers stood) open and used the site itself as the memorial.

Well, I think one doesn’t really have to invent this memorial space, because it is already there. And it is speaking with a voice and, you know, 4 million of us came to see the site. – Daniel Libeskind

Michael Arad and Peter Walker, whom have built the ‘fountains’. I really do believe that i could not be done better, as Libeskind quoted above, it is not about ‘building’ a memorial, because it is already there. So what they did really emphasizes this thought. They ‘built’ 2 fountains where the towers use to stand (around the fountains all the names of those who lost their lives that day are carved in stone). What made it even more wonderful is the way how they used trees to recreate the shadow the towers would have cast upon the city.

Daniel Libeskind’s Drawing of World Trade Center Site with Memorial Voids

9/11 Memorial – Michael Arad and Peter Walker.

Also artists like Jeff Koons, the most controversial artist alive, made their contribution. He created his tribute sculpture in 2010 and it stands facing the construction of the new site. The work resembles a red flower (which could be free for interpretation). The piece itself is surrounded by an active fountain and raised concrete ring that you could sit on to enjoy and observe the work.

Jeff Koons – Red Balloon animal.

People all around the world made art on this topic. I do not have the means to review and show them all, therefor i’d like to mention them and encourage the world to continue doing so, not only on this topic, but in general. Art bounds, it connects one another. It unites the world.

I’d like to mention one more; Steve Tobin, the artist who made “Trinity Roots”, tells the uplifting story of the 70-year-old sycamore tree that was felled by the intense impact of the collapsing towers across the street from the World Trade Center.  The tree absorbed the shockwaves, which a physicist has compared to those of a small nuclear bomb, and was laying in such a way as to shield historic St. Paul’s Chapel at Trinity Church and its ancient tombstones from falling debris.  The tree, which even took a hit from an I-beam, seemed the only positive story that came out of the tragic events that day.

“The Trinity Root is the most significant work that I shall ever make,” said Tobin.  “I hope that it gives solace to the millions of people who visit Ground Zero from all over the world, and from the community of Lower Manhattan, particularly on the five year anniversary of the day that changed the world forever.”

Steve Tobin – Trinity Root

Memorial stained glass

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Manifesta 09

So a while ago I went to this awesome exhibition; the  European Biennial of Contemporary Art Manifesta 09, which is situated in a old mine site. The place, the artwork, the history, everything was right. If you do live in Belgium or somewhere near enough I highly recommend you go and visit.

“Manifesta originated in the early 90’s in response to the political, economic and social changes following the end of the Cold War and the subsequent steps towards European integration. Since that time, Manifesta has developed into traveling platform focusing on the dialogue between art and society in Europe. Manifesta has become a flexible and mobile structure, capable of continuously changing and reinventing itself. For each edition of Manifesta a new curator or team of curators is appointed who in turn invite artists from around the world to participate.”

I’m hoping to discuss some of the works on them own as soon as possible.
Till then I hope you enjoy some of the pictures I have taken.

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The reclining nude (or naked?).

Henri Gervex – Rolla – 1878

Nakedness reveals itself. Nudity is placed on display. The nude is condemned to never being naked. Nudity is a form of dress. – John Berger

Based upon a poem by Alfred de Musset (1810-1857), this reclining nude which belongs to the early work of Henri Gervex (1852-1829), who’s birthday it would have been today (160), which(his early works) belonged almost exclusively to the ‘mythological’ genre. Although it is (or should represent) a mythological painting, the lady reclining on the bed is most certainly not a Venus (as told in the poem). Based upon the pile of cloths, the half dressed gentlemen standing at the balcony I could imagine her being a prostitute, reclining and resting after a wild a sensual game of love. The gentlemen still looking upon the beautiful lady laying in (his) bed.

Do you regret the age when, in majestic grace, Fair heaven amid the gods made earth her dwell- ing-place ; When Venus Astarte, child of the mighty sea, Rose from the bitter wave in virgin purity? The time, when drifting nymphs lay on the river’s breast, And with their wanton laughter vexed the lazy rest Of fauns stretched out to sleep upon the reedy shore? When in the pool Narcissus his fair image saw, And when great Hercules eternal justice dealt, Clad in his gory mantle of a lion’s pelt; When mocking satyrs swayed the leafy boughs among, Whistling a jeering echo to the traveler’s song? – Alfred de Musset; Rolla

Although most likely not a Venus, she does have the perfect body, heavenly white skin which could refer to the earlier works of Titian. A voluptuous body of a young lady, reclining on a bed, staring directly at the viewing audience and not in a coy manner, almost as if she invites us to join her.

His work (Gervex) is also clearly influenced by Cabanel (1823 – 1889), which was his teacher. Which can be noticed in the same use of lightly, fresh colors, the white and pure skin, even the breasts are almost exactly the same. Thematically on the other hand there are almost no comparisons possible, except for the ‘venus’ which is shown on both paintings. It should be said that both painting’s mythological theme’s were only an excuse to paint a nude. Therefor there is a difference between a ‘naked‘ and a ‘nude‘. Gervex clearly painted a ‘naked’. Titian a nude. 

A. Cabanel- The birth of Venus -1863

Reclining nude (photo)- artist unknown

Berlinde de Bruyckere

I’d also like to show the comparison made with the work of a contemporary belgian artist (which I shall be reviewing later on).

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Undoing a Building.

By undoing a building … [I] open a a state of enclosure which has been preconditioned not only by physical necessity but by the industry that proliferates suburban and urban boxes as a pretext for ensuring a passive, isolated consumer. – Gordon Matta-Clark

Gordon Matta-Clark ; Splitting (1974)


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Coast to Coast – Beaufort 04 (4)

Flo Kasearu – Coast to coast

Coast to coast is a installation project that consists of three containers that are converted into ships. They are lying in empty beach of Bredene, in Belgium. These three symbolic objects on the natural, apparently undisturbed coastline prompt thoughts of freight transport and the endless circulation of goods and people. But they also reflect the economic situation: the containers, lost objects, stand empty and useless on the beach.

Flo Kasearu – Coast to coast

Flo Kasearu – Coast to coast

Provocative, reflecting, lost and empty. Coast to Coast is a installation prjoect that consists of three containers, each container is shaped like and therefor converted into a ship. Again (as all sculptures, artworks in beaufort) they interact with the surrounding landscape and somehow feel ‘uncommon’. The three contatiners lying there on the coastline prompt thoughts of freight transport and the endless circulation of goods and people. Lying there totally empty and ‘useless’ they also represent a reflectation on the economic situation.

Flo Kasearu (who the work belongs to), an Estonian artist, well known for her video art (see below) and installations, mostly are placed wide against a specific social background. They concist not of merely criticism but demand for a certain change in society by confronting the ‘viewer’.

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The rise of Modern Iconoclasm.

Search & Destroy – Mekhitar Garabedian

Invading their personal space, tresspassing the natural habitat. Some people feel the urge to destroy or damage certain artworks, sculptures. Simply beacause they don’t belong in their environment. The modern iconoclasm is what they call it. Although I don’t seem to find the name being very appropriate is it’s connotation is much more severe then what is happening now. Especially compared to the destruction of religious artwork and the fear for idolatry (without mentioning the the destruction of the Buddhas in Afghanistan, but i’m not touching that one.

Let’s keep it nearby; In Ghent there’s a contemporary art exhibit in town. It exists of multiple sculptures, installations situated all over town. Therefor it’s not remarkeble that some of these became the victim of ‘modern iconoclasm’. (The same thing happened at Beaufort – see below). As you can see on the picture above, the letter is ‘R’ (Search & Destroy) is missing. The piece has been removed from the installation and thrown into the water. Why they did this, isn’t surely known. One thing is for sure; they took the message a bit too serious.

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In search for the ‘true judge’.

“Who decides whether someone can paint or not? Who decides who’s actually capable of doing this (cf. Hume), should this be a good painter? But then again… “

What is Art?

Last night as i was laying in bed, I wondered to myself; what if everybody could paint? And then suddenly realised that they maybe could. What I mean is; as it’s hard enough to try and recapitulate all the schools of thoughts that are possibly out there right now and it would be a lie if I told you, that everyone sees them all as being art. So it also happens to me that I seem to struggle when facing a new work, figuring out why exactly this is art, or why it should be art.

So where do we draw a borderline, in what is art and what isn’t , where do we say to one another; “you can draw, and you can’t”. Maybe it simply isn’t a right thing to do; the “zeitgeist” we seem to be living in isn’t one of standards and rules. It’s a time of institutions and museums, it are these people or groups that decide whether or not something is art. Whenever something finds it’s way into a museum, it suddenly becomes art.

So you could say they are no rules left; no standards to reach. There are only poeple who judge wether or not a work is appropriate. (makes me remind David Hume’s; “On the standard of the taste”; where he tries to describe and find the “true judges”, what makes a critic a good critic; but i’m wanderings off) . But still I can’t seem to find an answer to this rather simple question; “Who decides whether someone can paint or not? Who decides who’s actually capable of doing this (cf. Hume), should this be a good painter? But then again… “

Dear God, no wonder I can’t seem to sleep at night.

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It’s simply can not be put into words.

I do believe that art is so mysterious and wonderful because it speaks a language of it’s own that is not translateble in common words, you can’t simply describe the feeling of art, it’s only by experience that you can feel/get the true meaning of art, which is to tell and share you it’s story. Each work speaks in a different language, a different tone, a color which is unique to the work itself. Therefore it would be irrational to try and put into words what art is. Words simply lack to describe the enbodyment of it’s soul.

“.. it would be irrational to try and put into words what art is. “

What we experience, define or describe art to be is not universaly seen as ‘art’, cultures differ and so it is right to say that for example a picasso will not be seen as art in all cultures. Only in the way that we describe it to be art. Other cultures like the Navajo use art, for them it has a certain purpose to fulfill (whether ceremonial or festive). These objects that they use get hung in a museum as ‘a piece of art’ (masks etc.), which for it’s creator it isn’t.

This makes me wonder wether it’s such a great idea or not to share this. As I’m trying to describe the indescribable. I created myself a paradox.

I simply refuse to see art as a common object. To me they all have a story to tell, a lesson to be learned. Art isn’t simply something you wander by, you need to give it time, time to let it tell you it’s story and time for you to listen and comprehend. So you could say that art is by no means only an object but it has a certain degree of subjectivity. Alhtough it ‘s not merely the object that embodies the subject. Nor the the subject that gives life to the object; they enforce each other, make one another stronger and can’t merely excist without eachother. Art without a certain degree of subjectivity would be like a forest with no trees; which wouldn’t be a forest at all, would it?

So I would say that it is through the embodiment that it’s ‘soul’ can freely speak. Therefore I can only tell you this; take your time, enjoy art like it should; listen to it, it will speak to you. You’ll notice, it always has something to say, it has a mind of it’s own.

Splashing waves; art & the sea. – Beaufort 04 (2)

Nick Ervinck – “Olnetop” – Bredene (BE)

“All art is but imitation of nature” –  Lucius Annaeus Seneca 

You can see it from miles away; 8 meters high, the sun reflecting on it’s smooth plaster surface, as it arises from behind the dunes. It seems to astonish everyone that passes by, as art should do. It’s almost alien shape refers to splashing waves. To me it resembles a lot more; it seems to reach for the sky, the sun. It’s bathing in the sun, it seems almost divine in a certain way. It’s mysterious, almost sublime (reference to nature and it’s powers enlarged, shown on a massive scale) maybe even dangerous?

In my opinion this is ‘the most astonishing’, ‘impressive’ and ‘beautiful?’ work I saw at Beaufort ’04.

Nick Ervinck is a belgian contemporary artist (Flanders) whose contribution to Beaufort 04 is an 8 meter high (yellow) sculpture/ installation. He searches for the interaction between virtual constructions and hand-made sculptures.

Nick Ervinck – “Olnetop” – Bredene (BE)

Nick Ervinck - Olnetop - Bredene (BE)

Nick Ervinck – Olnetop – Bredene (BE)

Nick Ervinck – Olnetop – Bredene (BE)

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