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Melancholy Re-Imagined

Instagram is undoubtably on of my latest fascinations. I find myself researching profiles and scrolling down on countless accounts daily, looking for fresh and interesting pages that might or might not give me some new ideas and presumably some inspiration.

Recently, I bumped into a new account and was captivated by the beautiful simplicity and sense of melancholy conveyed by each photo. The Account Holder is Julie (@joouuuls) / She is a 23 year-old woman, currently doing her MA in Literature in Paris!

Lets talk photography

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I am still not sure whether it because I find Paris so alluring, or simply because of Julie’s  great eye for photography, but I find every single image that she posts to be very intriguing.

There is some sort of aesthetic satisfaction that I get from her images. Her page consists of mostly landscapes, city images, photos of houses / buildings and occasionally some very simplistic and often comic shots that spice up her account page and give it a little bit of  edge.

Julie has never thought of doing photography professionally, she simply uses her iPhone5 to take pictures, whenever she sees something interesting that grabs her attention – and that is probably why her images look so effortlessly beautiful.

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I believe that what makes me so ‘obsessed’ -lets say- with her page is the melancholic feel that her photos convey. Even the colourful ones, even the more comic ones. The general sense of each photo – and also of her page as a whole – is somehow melancholic.

Melancholic, but not sad – maybe a bit nostalgic –
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She makes me believe in the scary imaginative possibilities of photography

Profoundly beautiful yet mysterious, her pictures are an outburst of creativity & potential. Scrolling down her Instagram, I can’t help myself from letting my imagination free and visualise the most random narratives that help my mind fly free and travel places.

Take a look at her great use of shapes / forms and mostly angles
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Self Portraits  – her originality is obvious –
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Julie manages to capture the beauty of her city through very simple photographs. I don’t know if its because she finds the perfect angles for the shots or her way of capturing the perfect light, but she makes each picture surprisingly creative. Whether its black or white, dark or light, sunny or cloudy, her images makes you travel places.

Hectic yet serene, hard yet soft, disturbing yet beautiful. I get surrealistic feel from Julie’s images, although it seems like the images are not necessarily consciously created for that purpose.

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Although we are talking about photography, there is a clear distance born between her and her objects, a separation from reality that travels you to this parallel dreamy ‘truth’.

Maybe that is the actual point of photography, making something realistic more ‘dreamy’
–  Capturing a perceived separate reality and removing it from its original context to later on contextualising in, on your own personal way  –

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Hope you love her profile as much as I do

Joulie LC
@joouuuls
https://www.instagram.com/joouuuls/

Thank you for reading,
x
Elli

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Introducing JR

One of the artists that I have been shamelessly following on every social media platform is JR

JR of course is the pseudonym used by the photographer/artist whose identity is still not confirmed. JR describes himself as a photograffeur and states that “the street is the largest art gallery in the world“. The artist is best known for flyposting large black and white images in public locations all around the world, using a similar technique to the appropriation of the build environment by graffiti artists.  His work combines art and action and deals with the concept of freedom, commitment, identity and personal limits. 

I can probably go on and on and on, trying to explain what it is that makes me so interested by JRs work. I like the fact that he exhibits his work on the streets rather than inside a gallery/museum space. In this way, people who are not the typical museum visitors get to experience art by walking down the streets of their neighbourhood. JR successfully manages to make his works a part public locations, therefore, a part of our everyday life.  The photographs he uses manage to convey strong emotions: Happiness, sadness, loneliness, anger, despair, devotion, whatever the emotion is, it comes alive through his works and has a great impact on the viewer – at least it does to me. His photographs speak to me – make me stop and think –

I am truly inspired by his work, and I don’t think that I can make you understand where that comes from. it is probably because I have read way too many articles about him and have followed his artistic career for years. The only thing I can do is show you some of his work, through videos & photographs. I really hope that you take the time to understand his work.

Here is a great Introductory video that illustrates JRs work and vision
“The INSIDE OUT movie focuses on international communities involved in the INSIDE OUT Project: their story, their sorrow, their hope. Searching for what is common in their motivation, the movie will try to come closer to what is universal: human feelings”

The following Video is the teaser of the film “Les Bosquets”, one of  JRs most recent projects

“The film Les Bosquets brings the audience in a place where art and the power of image interweave. Based on the story of Ladj Ly and the performance of the ballet Les Bosquets of New York City Ballet (2014) inspired by the riots in the French suburbs in 2005, JR reveals its experience in the ghetto of Montfermeil where he created his first project, Portrait of a Generation. This film is a continuation of this 10 years project, for which he uses various means of expression and narration : video archives, choreography and testimony. This short film will be presented exclusively in galleries and museum shows”.

This is the trailer for ELLIS, a short film starring Robert De Niro,written by Eric Roth,directed by JR.

“The short narrative film, ELLIS, awakens our collective memory. Leaving their past behind them, immigrants fleeing poverty, discrimination, dictatorship arrived there. Ellis Island was the gateway to the United States for millions of immigrants. Upon arrival, they were processed, approved or denied access. Due to sickness or simply tiredness, many were placed in the hospital. A purgatory of sorts, in the shadow of the Statue of Liberty, where thousands of men, women and children awaited their fate. ELLIS tells the forgotten story of these immigrants who built America while questioning about those who currently seek the same opportunities and safety in this country and other parts of the world. The short film stars Academy Award Winner Robert De Niro, was written by Academy Award winner Eric Roth and directed by the artist JR whose Unframed art installations in the abandoned Hospital complex serve as the set for this powerful and timely film.”

Here are some photographs that show JRs’ unique style, technique and vision..

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JR now owns the biggest art gallery in the world. He shows his work freely, around the streets of the world, managing to attract the attention of people who are not considered to be the typical museum visitors.”JR creates “Pervasive Art” that spreads uninvited on the buildings of the slums around Paris, on the walls in the Middle-East, on the broken bridges in Africa or the favelas in Brazil. People who often live with the bare minimum discover something absolutely unnecessary. And they don’t just see it, they make it. Some elderly women become models for a day; kids turn artists for a week. In that Art scene, there is no stage to separate actors from spectators”.

JR does not explain the meaning behind his portraits of people’s different expressions. His aim is for people to interpret his work in the light of their own experiences, leaving an empty space for an encounter between the subject/protagonist and the passer-by/interpreter.

Visit his website for more information, videos and upcoming projects: http://www.jr-art.net

I would love to read your comments and thoughts on this post

Thank you for reading,

Elli

Prussian Blue..

A few weeks ago I decided to go around galleries in central London and search for exhibitions that haven’t been advertised as much online. I came across Omer Tiroche Contemporary Art (OTCA) gallery exhibiting works by Thomas Mailaender. Prussian blue, Mailaender’s latest solo exhibition comprises a diverse selection of the artists modern cyanotypes, many of which have not been shown in the past. As a fan of developed photographs, I decided to take a closer look..

Prussian Blue is a collection of amateur photographers which Thomas Mailaender collected and developed into creative and visually interesting art works. The artist begun building up his archive back in 2000, collecting more than eleven thousand images from the internet and numerous markets around Europe. To elevate his findings,  he used cyanotype;  a traditional method where photographs are developed and edited producing a distinctive blue-hue print.

“Mailaender has employed his archive images to create innovative works that not only entertain his audiences with their amusing and candid content but at once highlight the changing parameters of art today”

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What I firstly enjoyed about this show, is the play between the amateur and the professional work. Taking a closer look at the images exhibited, they look like they could have been captured by almost everybody, illustrating veryday life moments that we can all identify with. But this fact made you stop and think, why didn’t I take that photo myself? Why didn’t I capture that moment when I havd the chance to? This is the reason I believe makes this images special, the fact that although they represent something that comes from the everyday life, they have been presented in a way that makes us stop and think, consider and reflect on that photograph and suddenly, this fact for me is what transforms an amateur photograph to a work of art

Something that also appealed to me what the way the show was curated. The works were simply placed on the floor of the gallery. The fact that they were effortlessly placed by the galleries walls created a welcoming vibe to the audience and at the same time a connection was created again between the amateur (photographs/curation) and the professional (development/gallery space)  Finally it is worth taking a closer look to the smaller and a little bit more personal works shown in the gallery space. I found it more intriguing to notice the artists technique by looking at these works, maybe because the colors were a little bit more vivid, maybe because you had the chance to take a closer look at them.

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Leaving the gallery, I was pleased to have come across yet another unexpected exhibition. Walking towards my next art exhibition, I could not stop thinking about the concept of amateaur and professional art. Here is a show that illustrates the perfect marriage between amateur and professional treatment. And although Thomas Mailaender is an already established, professional artist could he have successfully completed his selection of works without the help of amateaur photographers? One could argue that he could have spent time on taking photographs himself, but what is certain is that the show would have not be the same.

Thank you for reading,

Elli

Personal Favorite: Egon Schiele, Exhibition London

I have always been a great fan of non-realistic portraits. I enjoy viewing non-realistic portraits because I personally believe that in that way, the artist lets his creativity shine, and in a way, the painting he creates expresses his thoughts and ideas about the person illustrated. Thus the artist does not depict a person realistically, but he paints his feelings, thoughts and beliefs.

I was very excited when I read that works of Egon Schiele, one of my favorite artists that focused more on portrait paintings, were exhibited in Courtauld Gallery in London. Born in Vienna, Egon Schiele was a leading avant-garde artist in the early 1900s, the years around the First World War. During his short but very productive life, Egon Schiele managed to create a great collection of portraits (including self portraits) that were consider to be provocative, controversial but most importantly, some of the most radical depictions of the human figure in the 20th century.

This is the first time that original works of Egon Schiele were exhibited as a single collection in the United Kingdom and I felt very special to be a part of that. The exhibition was small, and included a small collection of his drawings and watercolour works. I wish I could see some of his oil paintings that illustrate his unique technique and skill, but I was surprised by how much detail he successfully created using humble materials such as pencil, chalk and watercolours.

The exhibition was divided in two small rooms. The first room included his famous self-portraits where the second room was focusing more on his collection of female figures, his ‘nudes’.

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What I find extraordinary about Schiele is the way he planned, understood and then created his self-portraits. The artist used a number of different mirrors and techniques in order to observe the increasingly extreme poses he adopted. In a way, todays ‘selfies’ could be considered to be a modernised version of Schiele’s technique of looking at his bod and understanding his own anatomical structure. He was fascinated by the human figure and the different forms he could create with his own body as well as the angles and shapes that his figure could take. He sacrificed anatomical accuracy for the sake of his paintings; he distorted body figures by elongating the back of a figure, cropping the figures legs or arms, making their heads smaller or larger, based on the feeling he wanted to portray. In a way, he would treat the human figure as a blank canvas; he would choose to shape it based on the message he wanted to convey, his ideas and feelings and not on the traditional anatomical structure of the human form.
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The second room includes a small collection of his famous nudes. The portraits created are again non-realistic and the figures are distorted in the same way as his self-portraits. . The theme of his paintings though is not the distortion of the human figure, but the female sexuality and how that can be illustrated through a painting. For his portraits, Egon Schiele painted some of his family members; his wife but he also used random women as well as a lot of prostitutes. The images  exhibited were very bold and sexual. In his nude paintings, he draws in detail some of his models private body parts making his works raw, fleshy and unflinching. Some characterise his work as too disturbing and sometimes grotesque. Too erotic, too radical, too offensive, too controversial, but as the artist thought, sex is beautiful and the nude body is poetic.

Walking inside the exhibition space, I could not help but notice the way people moved inside the space, and viewed the art works presented. The nude paintings were the ones that people seemed to enjoy the most, and spent more time in front of. More specifically, people seemed to pay more attention to the most sexual and erotic paintings, the ones that showed the female genitals in detail. I wondered why was that? I tried to monitor their moves and understand them. I saw young girls moving close to the paintings, talking quietly and laughing with each other. I saw older people turning their heads from one side to the other, looking at each other and communicating through their eyes. Were they disturbed by the raw imagery, or were they simply intrigued? I could never know, but what is certain is that the raw nudity and sexuality is something that is always going to be disturbing, controversial and create conversations.
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I personally was impressed by Schiele’s astonishing technique and use of materials. The artist managed to use humble materials such as pencil, charcoal and watercolours and create such bold lines and figures. His use of colours gives his figures a fuller shape, balances his shading and makes the bodies come alive. I also enjoyed the fact that Schiele has no context in his drawings. He simply places his bodies inside his frame, with no justification for being there. He does not place the figures proportionately inside the frame, in most cases the figures ‘don’t fit’ inside the frame and different body parts (head, legs, arms) seem to be left out of the picture.

Going against the norm, distorting his figures, using grotesque bodies, provocative and sexual imagery are only a few things that Egon Schiele managed to do through his work. This unique way of perceiving and creating art is what draws me to Schiele’s work and what in my opinion makes him one of the most important and unique artists that ever existed.

Here is some information for the Exhibition:
Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House
Strand, London, WC2R 0RN
The exhibition will be available until the 18th of January, 2015
Daily 10am – 6mp (Last admission 5.30pm)
Tickets from £5 – £8.50 (Free for Friends)
http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/index.shtml

I would love to read your comments below!
Thank you for reading,

Elli

Vandal Lust

A few weeks ago, I created a post, asking viewers to answer ‘what is your favourite art form’. After looking at the results and comments, I personally found it hard to give just one answer. I really like to create paintings and mixed media art, take photographs and also create short films. At the same time, what I really love in exhibitions I visit are large scale installations. One of the reasons why I enjoy large scale installations is because I like  to take my time to view them, walk around them and try to the find small and beautiful details that are not that obvious at first sight.

A week ago, I visited Saatchi Gallery and viewed a work created by Andra Ursuta; Vandal Lust. Andra Ursuta was born in Romania in 1979 and has lived and worked in New York since 2000.

There is a thrilling and unnerving sense of destruction and metonymy in Ursuta’s works (sculptures/installations). Most importantly, the artist doesn’t steer away from using her personal memories and experiences, whether the damaged psychology of her country or her own body, which is often the inspiration of casts, to ignite her mixed-media creations. Ursuta’s narratives are convincingly bodied forth by a distinctively fractured, somewhat deprived sense of craft.

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What I understand from observing and researching Vandal Lust is that self-invention and self-destruction are endlessly interchanged. It is not very clear whether Longing and failure that fill the work are real or artificial. “By resurrecting an obsolete piece of battlefield technology generally reduced to recreational use by living history enthusiasts, Ursuta blurs the distinction between authentic private feelings and their reenacted, staged version.” (Source: zoominfo.com)

Vandal Lust is a life size tableau that was inspired by “The man who flew into space from his appartment’ and it centres on a crudely made catapult that seems to have been used attempting to launch the artist into space using a large medieval siege engine, built to the limits of space capacity and  based on reconstructions found online. The basic part of the installation, which is the catapult is not a solid monolithic structure but it includes a variety of materials ranging from cardboard, plaster, scraps of lumber, resin and remnants of destroyed or abandoned objects.

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The following section is a part of Ursuta’s interview with Christopher Bollen from interview magazine, focusing on her inspiration and what she tried to say through her installation.

Vandal Lust borrows from  Ilya Kabakov’s famous piece The Man Who Flew Into Space From His Apartment ? where the man is presumed to have successfully launched himself into space. In yours, there’s a dent near the ceiling and the figure curled on the floor. Is that about failure?

Launching and failing. I guess it could be seen as being about the art world, that trajectory. But it was more about knowing you will fail but going for it anyway

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What I really enjoyed about this work of art is trying to find hidden details, walk around the art piece and try to imagine the story behind it. Moreover, I liked how the installation had many different elements, the larger part which was the catapult, but also a human cast which was on the floor, as well as the bodies ‘effect‘ on the wall of the gallery. All these small details were there to help and lead the viewer towards understanding what the catapult was and what was the story behind the work of art. If one of the three elements were not there, the work would not make sense. After leaving the exhibition, I was very excited to go back home and research the artist and the messages behind her work and personally, I enjoy viewing works of art that are that effective and make want to think and research about them even after leaving the exhibition.

Do you think vandal Lust is an effective installation?

Thank you for reading,

Elli