Sunday, December 13, 2009

Four Months & Counting

first published in News & Buzz London at www.artslant.com

The independent charity, The Art Fund has joined forces with the Staffordshire County Council, Lichfield District Council and Tamworth Borough Council to raise the £3.3 million necessary to keep the recently found Staffordshire Hoard in the West Midlands. The Birmingham Museum & Art Gallery and The Potteries Museum and Art Gallery, Stoke-on-Trent have just under four months to raise the seven figure valuation set by the Treasure Valuation Committee for the Hoard.



Found in July by metal detectorist, Terry Herbert on a farm owned by Fred Johnson the Staffordshire Hoard is the largest and most valuable treasure find in British history. And should the valuation not be met the ownership of the treasure will revert to the finders for them do with as they see fit.

The Art Fund is an independent charity with some 80,000 members committed to saving art for everyone to enjoy. Since 1903 they have assisted more than 600 museums and galleries around the UK to save over 860,000 works of art, from priceless masterpieces which were under threat of being sold abroad, to acquiring fascinating works costing a few hundred pounds. Each year they provide about £4 million to museums and galleries to help them build the public collections of the future. They also led the 2001 successful campaign to extend free admission to all national museums and galleries.

Andrew Macdonald, Acting Director of The Art Fund, said: "This awe-inspiring hoard really must be kept in the West Midlands where it was unearthed. Since we were founded in 1903, The Art Fund has led many successful campaigns to save treasures such as this, and our success is down to the support of members of the public who care as much as we do about preserving the nation's heritage."

The public can donate to save the Staffordshire Hoard at www.artfund.org/hoard and more information about the Hoard itself can be found here.

Sunday, December 06, 2009

Sleepless in Transit

First published in News & Buzz at www.artslant.com

Friday December 4 was a day of relaxation for Stephane Guegan, the director of cultural services at the Musee d’Orsay in Paris. Charged with the delivery of 112 of Musee d’Orsay's best post–impressionist paintings half way across the world for the National Gallery of Australia’s exhibition Masterpieces from Paris, the exhibition had opened.

Described as the creme de la crème of the French museum’s collection, Mousier Guegan claimed that a decent night's sleep became elusive from the moment he first saw the insurance valuations of the works listed on paper - and that was before he even left Paris. For included amongst the 122 paintings are seven van Goghs, nine Gauguins, eight Cezannes and five Monets.

This exhibition of priceless paintings, which also includes works by Georges Seurat, Pierre Bonnard, Douanier Rousseau and Edouard Vuillard, are on loan whilst the Musee d’Orsay renovates its post-impressionist galleries. It is the first time they have been brought together in an exhibition outside of France.

After the Australian exhibition, which closes on April 5, 2010, Mousier Guegan will be faced with more disturbed nights as his charges travel to Tokyo and San Francisco before returning to the walls of the Musee d’Orsay.

More information about the Masterpieces from Paris can be found at the National Gallery of Australia’s web site, here.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Financial Boost for Aussie Artists

First published in news & Buzz at www.artslant.com

Australian visual artists are set to receive an increase in the revenue generated by their work with the Australian National Government's passing of the long awaited resale royalty scheme.


Under the scheme artists whose work is re-sold in the secondary market for more than $1000 will receive a 5% royalty. Ex pop star and current Federal Arts Minister, Peter Garrett, said "It is only fair that artists and their descendants should share in the growing value of the artworks - particularly as value can grow substantially over time. In particular there will be benefits for Indigenous visual artists, who have experienced significant increases in the value of their work."

The Resale royalties will be collected and distributed to artists by a single collecting organization which is expected to be in place by mid 2010. The scheme will cover original works of art, such as paintings, collages, drawings, prints, sculptures, ceramics, an item of glassware or photographs made by living artists and/or their estates for up to 70 years.

It is expected that the royalty will be collected from overseas sales as well local sales especially from 49 countries that acknowledge a resale royalty right for visual artists. These countries include England, France, Germany, The Netherlands and the US State of California.

Further information about the Australian Resale Royalty scheme including a PDF link to all the countries that acknowledge a resale royalty right can be found here.

Saturday, November 07, 2009

What a Picture - What a Photograph

First published in News & Buzz at www.artslant.com

With the dust barely settled after FIAC the next annual art fair is girding its loins for its Paris exposition. Paris Photo 2009 will grace the Carrousel du Louvre Exhibition Hall from November 19 to 22 whilst another nine Paris galleries will be presenting exhibitions related to the photographic medium.

The Middle East is the focal point of this year’s fair with three exhibitions. The Central Exhibition will show a selection of rare images from the collections of the Arab Image Foundation in Beirut. The Statement Section will provide an overview of emerging talent from Tehran to Damascus, Beirut to Cairo and Tangiers to Dubai. And in The Project Room a program of video screenings will be on show, a display of the growing interest in this medium among the artists of the region.

A hundred and two exhibitors (89 galleries and 13 publishers) will be showcasing a wide variety of photography from the 19th Century through to the present day. Created in 1997 by the Dutch Publisher, Rik Gadella, this year’s Paris Photo fair will be featuring the work of 500 international photographers. From Germany to the United States, from Japan to Morocco, the 2009 edition of Paris Photo is geographically diverse with selected participants coming from 23 countries.

The satellite exhibitions to the main event include “Michael Kenna, a retrospective” at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, “The Subversion of Images, Surrealism, Photography, Film” at the Centre Pompidou, “ August Sander : Seeing, Observing, Thinking” at the Henri Cartier Bresson Foundation, “Delpire & Cie” at the Maison Européenne de la Photographie ans “Federico Fellini, La Grande Parade” at the Jeu de Paume.

The Middle East focus expands out from the Carrousel du Louvre with exhibitions such as “Palestine, creation in all states” at the Arab World Institute, “Djân, Body and Soul” at VU Gallery, “150 years of Iranian Photography” at the Musée du Quai Branly, and “Iran 1979-2009 : Between Hope and Chaos, 30 years of Iranian Documentary Photography” at the Monnaie de Paris.

For more information about Paris Photo 2009 go to their web site, here.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

7th Australian Film Festival in the Philippines

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The Australian Embassy in Manila, Screen Australia, and the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade in cooperation with the Ayala Malls Cinemas, Greenbelt and Ayala Center Cebu present the 7th Australian Film Festival in the Philippines from 5-14 November.


The 6 award winning films in the festival are:

Unfinished Sky (R 13)
Director: Peter Duncan
When Tahmeena stumbles onto John’s isolated farm, he has no choice but to take her in. An illegal refugee, she's been badly beaten and speaks no English. While John's not inclined to welcome visitors, he’s even less inclined to involve the police. As they communicate through signs, pictures and a gradual understanding of each other's language, they begin to recover faith in themselves and their trust in humanity.
Selected Awards:
Toronto International Film Festival, Pusan International Film Festival, Brisbane International Film Festival- Voted #1 film (2007), Best Film - Method Film Festival (2008)

The Black Balloon (PG 13)
Director: Elissa Down
Thomas and his family move to a new home. He has to start at a new school, all he wants is to fit in. When his pregnant mother has to take things easy, his father puts him in charge of his autistic brother. With the help of his new girlfriend Jackie, Thomas faces his biggest challenge yet. A story about fitting in, discovering love, and accepting your family that is funny, confronting, and ultimately heart-warming.
Selected Awards:
Australian Film Institute 2008 AFI Award – Best Film, Best Direction, Best Editing, Best Original Screenplay, Best Supporting Actress (Toni Collette), Best Supporting Actor (Luke Ford)
Berlin International Film Festival Crystal Bear - Best Feature Film
Film Critic’s Choice of Australia – Best Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actress

The Bank (PG 13)
Director: Robert Connolly
The Bank is a political thriller set in the world of high finance, a modern day story of alchemy.
Selected Awards:
2002: Göteborg Film Festival, Palm Springs International
2001: San Sebastian International Film Festival, Toronto International Film Festival, London Int. Film Festival, and Vancouver International.

Danny Deckchair (PG 13)
Director: Jeff Balsmeyer
An ordinary bloke rockets out of his loveless relationship into a new world in which he gets the chance to stand out from the crowd and fall in love.
Selected Awards:
2003 Film Critics Circle of Australian nominated for Best Supporting Actor - Female Justine Clarke
2004 Paris Film Festival nominated Grand Prix – Jeff Balsmeyer

Garage Days (R 18)
Director: Alex Proyas
GARAGE DAYS is a film about one kids dream to be a rock star. Freddy learns there is more to being a rock star than just drugs and tunes. He learns about friendship, babies and love.
Selected Awards:
2003: Sundance Film Festival (USA)

The Hard Word (R 18)
Director: Scott Roberts
Three brothers have found a uniquely profitable way to spend their jail time. Crime does pay, and no one gets hurt – until they discover the catch. When sex and greed come between bad cops and good criminals, the consequences are fatal –for some.
Selected Awards/Festivals:
2002: Filmfest Hamburg, London Australia film Festival 4 x Australian Screen sound Awards.

Screening schedules for Manila and Cebu can be found here.

Monday, November 02, 2009

Muddying the Water

First published in the News & Buzz section of www.artslant.com

Copyright questions raised by the fair use clause in the law, where appropriated material is used for the creation of a “new” work, are complex; so much so that the courts decide them on a case by case basis. In this digital age, the ubiquity of copyright infringement has ensured that the Associated Press/Shepard Fairey dispute over the “Hope Poster” is destined to remain front page news for some time to come.

Shepard Fairey lied to the court about which Associated Press photo he used as a basis for his “Warholianesque” poster and fabricated evidence of support has done his cause more harm than good. Fairey has stated “The new filings state for the record that the AP is correct about which photo I used as a reference and that I was mistaken. While I initially believed that the photo I referenced was a different one, I discovered early on in the case that I was wrong. In an attempt to conceal my mistake I submitted false images and deleted other images. I sincerely apologize for my lapse in judgment and I take full responsibility for my actions which were mine alone. I am taking every step to correct the information and I regret I did not come forward sooner.”

The fallout from this statement has seen his legal team withdraw from the case and Associated Press add the brand launched by Fairey, Obey Clothing, as a co-defendant. Associated Press have also claimed that Fairey profited from the work which was originally available as a free down load during the 2008 US Presidential race.

With copyright laws designed to encourage creativity and innovation, rather than restrain it, how the courts decide on this case will be of intense interest to artists and others for whom remixing is an important aspect of their work. As the LA Times editorial of November 1 concludes “The dispute between Fairey and the AP offers a chance to make that line a bit clearer. We don't think the court should condone his deception -- some kind of sanction would be appropriate. Yet that should not tip the balance the court must strike between creators and those who follow them.”

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Rembrandt Code

first published in News & Buzz at www.artslant.com

One of the world’s great paintings, Rembrandt van Rijn’s The Night Watch, has become the star of avant-gard film maker, Peter Greenaway’s latest movie, Rembrandt's J'accuse.

Greenaway is most widely known for his films, The Draughtsman's Contract, a 17th Century murder mystery, The Cook the Thief His Wife & Her Lover, described as a corrosive allegory of life in contemporary England and his interpretation of Shakespeare's The Tempest, Prospero's Books. He trained as a painter but moved over to film making with the making of his first film ‘The Train’ in 1966. With his interest in Renaissance painting in general and the Flemish painters in particular, an influence that is a hallmark of many of his films, it is little wonder he should turn his attention to the 17th Century masterpiece.

The Company of Frans Banning Cocq and Willem van Ruytenburch, more commonly known as ‘The Night Watch’ is renown for its size (11ft 10in x 14ft 4in), the effective use of chiaroscuro and the sense of movement in an otherwise traditionally static scene. It is on permanent display at Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum and is considered to be the museum’s most famous painting.

In ‘Rembrandt's J'accuse’, Greenaway presents the debatable conspiracy theory that Rembrandt, through subtle hints in the painting, puts all the characters involved in a complex and devious conspiracy to murder. The ‘evidence’ offered by Greenaway are the numerous details in the painting that were never noticed before or that were simply not correctly interpreted. He also implies that Rembrandt’s social and financial ruin that followed the completion of the work was an act of revenge by the paintings cast.

More information about Rembrandt and his work can be found here and about Peter Greenaway and his work, here.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Dream Factory with Photoshop

First published in News & Buzz at www.artslant.com

Photoshop, the photographic post production tool of the new century, is either loved or despised by photographers, depending upon their aesthetic vision for the medium. But in Harry Brant Chandler’s exhibition “Dreamers in Dream City” it along with other computer processes comes into its own.

Chandler had only 15 minutes to get a snapshot of the Walt Disney Concert Hall architect Frank Gehry. From the architect’s conference room portrait of his interpretation of Rodin's Balzac, Chandler super-imposed the snapshot upon the Los Angeles’ landmark he created. And so it is with the other 54 portraits in the exhibition.

From aviator Amelia Earhart to the Watts Towers creator Simon Rodia, from musician Jim Morrison to author Raymond Chandler, all are placed within the context of the dreams they realized. "I wanted to place the subjects in the context of their specific environments that showed what their dreams were about," Chandler says.

Renown as the city of dreams, Los Angeles attracts hopefuls from around the world, particularly to the Hollywood studios. But this exhibition goes beyond tinsel town and celebrates the builders, the inventors, the artists, the folk heroes, the activists, the entrepreneurs, the discoverers as well as the entertainers.

As the executive director of the Museum of the American West at the Autry National Center, Jonathan Spaulding, says "What Harry has done is create something which is authentic to his interpretation of these particular people and the story of Los Angeles."

Chandler’s manipulated photographs are on display at the Autry National Center until January 3, more information and a selection of images from the exhibition can be seen here.

Saturday, October 17, 2009

When is a Warhol Not a Warhol?

First published in news & Buzz at www.artslant.com

Pop artist Andy Warhol was nothing if not prolific working as a painter, printmaker and filmmaker. The job of authenticating his work falls on the shoulders of the Andy Warhol Art Authentication Board, Inc. which is a committee of the Andy Warhol Foundation.

Should a work fail the Board’s authentication, the word "DENIED" is stamped on the reverse making the work unsalable even if the decision should be reversed. When a work is submitted to the board its owner must sign a document stating they will not challenge the board’s verdict in a court of law before the board will look at it. And the Board is not required to divulge the reasons for its decision even in the case when it reverses a previous decision.

But this cloak of secrecy, which has annoyed more than one Warhol collector, is set to change. In a class action lawsuit brought by film producer Joe Simon-Whelan and other yet-to-be-named plaintiffs the judge, Laura Taylor Swain, gave the plaintiffs the right of "discovery" when dismissing The Foundation’s motion to dismiss the case.

Soon not only will the muddied waters that surround the authentication or otherwise of this 1965 "Red Self Portraits," silk screen print become a little clearer but any accusations about the Board’s competency and integrity will also be laid to rest.

A full discussion about this case can be seen here.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Still Life

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Still Life with Hose (2009)
Archival inkjet print of digitally manipulated photograph
16" x 12"
First published in News & Buzz at www.artslant.com

Scientific evidence suggests that a 13 x 9in (33 x 24cm) portrait, in chalk, pen and ink on vellum, mounted on an oak board, which was sold at Christie’s New York in the late 1990s for $19,000 is a work by Leonardo Da Vinci.

Examination of the work by a “multispectral” camera, a process that reveals each successive layer of colour, and enables the pigments and pigment mixtures of each pixel to be identified without taking physical samples has found a finger print on the work that is “highly comparable” to one on a Leonardo work in the Vatican. This has seen Martin Kemp, Emeritus Professor of History of Art at Oxford University claim the work to be by Da Vinci. Although skeptical at first, this and his other research has confirmed the works authorship. “All the bits fell into place like a well-made piece of furniture. All the drawers slotted in,” he is reported to have said.

Now valued at over $160 million and titled “La Bellathe portrait is expected to go on display next March in the exhibition And There Was Light: The Masters of the Renaissance Seen in a New Light at Eriksbergshallen, Gothenburg, Sweden. The exhibitions artistic director, Professor Alessandro Vezzosi, is amongst the growing number of art historians who believe the portrait to be work of the Renaissance master.

Included in that number is Professor Carlo Pedretti, head of the Fondazione Pedretti for Leonardo studies who has said “this could be the most important discovery since the early 19th century re-establishment of the Lady with the Ermine as a genuine Leonardo”.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

If It Bleeds, It Leads

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“If it bleeds, it leads” is an aphorism that sums up a news room’s approach to prioritizing their forth coming news presentation with the more graphic (up to a perceived good taste point) the visual/s the higher up the greasy pole the story will be placed.

It was therefore with a gob smacked interest that I read the opening comments of Stephen Mayes, World Press Photo Secretary for six years, at the opening of the 2009 Photo Press awards. In essence he said “The overwhelming impression from the vast volume of images is that photojournalism (as a format for interpreting the world) is trying to be relevant by copying itself rather than by observing the world.”

Well, Duh! With damn near 50% of the World Press Photo of year going to either “Children in Distress” (17 out of 51) or “Men with Guns” (10 out of 51) what does he expect? Professional photographers in general and photojournalist photographers in particular are a pragmatic if not a cynical lot. And being professionals they do their home work to maximize their chances of winning, be it checking out the background for a photo shoot or a competition’s preferences.

If Mr. Mayes comments are more than rhetoric perhaps he should check the mote in his own eye before complaining about the splinter in another’s. For in its 54 year history, The World Press Photo of the year has never gone to a good news story.

Competition award winners are those who can best play to the gallery and in the case of the World Photo Awards it is a jury that ”consists of thirteen picture editors, photographers and representatives of press agencies from different parts of the world” whose daily mantra is “If it bleeds, it leads”.

Please note: Whilst the World Press Photo Award has been in existence form 1955, competitions were not held in 1959, 1961 & 1970. You can see the winners of the World Press Photo of the Year here.

Monday, August 31, 2009

Guest Artist @ Revad.com

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British artist David Riley has done me the honour of posting one of my works in his web sites "guest artists" section. You can see his choice here. In His words "I chose this specific image to hang because of its exploration of the relationship between coded language and a very personal visual aesthetic."

And while you are there check out his work (duh) especially his intriguing piece "In the Out" which can be seen here.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Whose Truth

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Came across this editorial quote at the Asian Photography Blog “As digital processes proliferate in the industry, photography has lost its role as an objective witness.” It is a succinct paraphrasing of the thoughts behind the many photography blogs that see digital processing i.e. Photoshop, GIMP et al, as the boogey man of photography.

The implication is that an “objective witness” will tell “the truth” and before digital processing photography did just that. Wrong! Photography has been and always will be a subjective medium. Any truth that a photograph contains will be edited by the photographer. As the photographer takes compositional concerns into account when they jostle about for the best shot so the objectivity of the photograph is compromised by the photographer’s artistic concerns. For we all know that the pretty pic will sell a lot better than the dull one.

Then there is the static nature of still photography which will compromise its ability to portray anything more than a moment in time, for life is not static. What was true when the shutter was pressed can be turned on its head within the blink of an eye, as so often happens in the real world.

And this is without entering the muddy waters of trying to determine what is truth, objective or otherwise, for one person’s trash is another’s treasure. A photographer whose objective is to present their truth should welcome digital processing and master the associated tools to create images that are inclusive rather than exclusive. Images that show the object in the light of their concerns, which the post processing enabled by the digital has made that much easier.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Come One, Come All

There is a guy in the middle of London standing on a plinth making paper airplanes, stuffing them with folding money and throwing them to the passer bys. I kid you not. I just saw this dude do it over at http://www.oneandother.co.uk, the live web cam from the One & Other project at the empty Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in London, a space normally reserved for statues of Kings and Generals.

He has just done it again and like the first one it nosedived to earth.

But why take my word for it go on over and see for yourself.

Every hour a different person will strut their stuff for 45 minutes longer than Andy predicted for the next 94 days. Already about 140 people have done their thing and there are another 2260 to go.

What would you do if you had an hour?

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Pop-a-gander

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One of the hurdles that photography faces when moving from its documentary roots into realms of fine art is to disassociate itself from being a prisoner to its caption. When the sentence, paragraph or essay informs the viewer’s reaction to the visual then the value of the visual is reduced to illustration. And the stronger the polemic of the written word the quicker the visual becomes propaganda.

This is not unique to photography and can and does happen in other genres, as with the current exhibition at the Hiraya gallery, First Impression – Lust. Ronald Caringal has hung 8 large paintings that dominate the space with their pop art meets super realism to make eye candy aesthetic. These crisp and clean and tres cool renderings of fantasy female faces are dominated by their titles. Witty one liners with erotic over tones such as “It was the moment he was glad to meat her” or “It was the moment he got into master baking” for example.

When this is coupled with Angelo Suarez’s catalogue essay “The Pleasure of the Oral” the political message becomes unmistakable and the works become illustrations of the written polemic. For without their titles and the essay they are accomplished graphic renderings which could well be a distinctive part of an IKEA gallery; a stylish decorative finishing touch for a bachelor pad.

The exhibition continues until 15th of July at 530 United Nations Avenue, Ermita.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

An Interview with Henry Bateman

Dennis Rito, the man behind the Philippine Photography Scene blog put me though a third degree after the Pixel Perfect exhibition opening. The result of his interrogation can be seen here.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Got Time for a Read?

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Two new books that concentrate on the “how to” side of the business of art are, if not actually on the books stands, soon to make an appearance. One looks at the subject from the Artist’s perspective the other from the Gallerist’s.

In Jackie Battenfield’s (exhibiting artist, lecturer and teacher, and gallery director) The Artist's Guide: How To Make A Living Doing What You Love the art world is explained and she and offers clear and useful steps to setting goals and achieving them. And it’s on Amazon already.

Edward Winkleman’s (gallerist and long time arts blogger) How to Start and Run a Commercial Art Gallery hits the books stands on the 14th July. Ed has been blogging about life as a New York Gallerist at his well trafficked site edward winkleman (art | politics | gossip | tough love) since April 2005. His words of wisdom are now packaged within these covers.

From The Artist’s Guide comes this arts definition attributed to Boston’s Samson Projects’ Camilo Alvarez "A gallerist will send a collector the artist's bio, whereas a dealer sends them the invoice." Whereas Leigh Conner from Conner Contemporary Art says "Ed Winkleman's book is a comprehensive reference for any gallery owner. Whether you are new to the business or seasoned gallerist, it is always wise to remember the essentials".

Perhaps artists should read Winkleman and gallerist's Battenfield.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Spirit Endures

First published in The Expat Travel & Lifestyle Magazine June 2005.

"Science and art belong to the whole world, and before them vanish the barriers of nationality," so said one of Germany’s greatest sons, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe. A poet, dramatist, philosopher, scientist and theologian, who from the 18th century onward has influenced some of the world’s foremost artists, scientists and dream makers.

Goethe’s creation of the literary archetype Doctor Faustus, the man who sold his soul to the devil, has inspired musical masterpieces from Mozart to Mahler. His work on color theory inspired the British painter William J M Turner. Goethe’s ideas on evolution helped frame the question central to Charles Darwin’s “Origin of the Species”. Even the popular culture of the 20th Century is in his debt as the author of the poem Der Zauberlehrling upon which Walt Disney based his “The Sorcerer's Apprentice” animation.

Consequently, it is fitting that the German Government’s outreach to the world should bear Goethe’s name. For over 50 years the Goethe-Institut has been presenting a contemporary portrait of Germany through language studies and cultural exchanges. With 134 institutes in 82 countries the Goethe name has become synonymous with brand Germany.

Operating under an organizational structure that encourages delegation, the Goethe Institutes are able to respond to the aspirations of the communities in which they live.

Such as earlier this year, the Philippine Philharmonic Orchestra approached the German Embassy for assistance with their world music concert season, Transymphonia. The seventh concert in the series, “Pillars of German Music” celebrated Felix Mendelssohn’s 200th anniversary with The Hebrides Overture, op. 26 and the Violin Concerto in E Minor, op.64 along with Beethoven’s third Symphony, “Eroica”. The Embassy passed the request over to the Goethe-Institut who arranged for the German solo violinist Annette von Hehn, (pictured on the right) who resides in Berlin, to come to the Philippines to perform the violin concerto with the orchestra.

But the Goethe Institutes not only respond to requests, they also tap into the Zeitgeist of their communities. The increased interest in photography in the Philippines, most noticeably heralded by the successes of the photography dedicated Silverlens Gallery, prompted the Goethe-Institut Manila to stage successive photographic events.

In 2008 they ensured that the 2005 World Press Photo Awarded, Peter Bialobrzeski included the Philippines in his six month South East Asian artist in residence program and workshops. Whilst in the Philippines, Bialobrzeski worked with 10 young Filipino photographers for four weeks exploring and interrupting urban Manila. This was followed by the exhibition “Mapping Invisible Cities” at the Shangri-la Plaza featuring, not only Bialobrzeski photographs, but also the work of the workshop participants from Manila, Hanoi, Bangkok, Jakarta, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

This year the Goethe-Institut in conjunction with the Yuchengco Museum and Rogue Magazine brought the highly acclaimed “Zeitgeist Becomes Form: German Fashion Photography 1945-1995” exhibition to Manila. Commissioned by the Institut für Auslandsbeziehungen it featured the work of some of Germany’s best know photographers including Helmut Newton, Jürgen Tillers and Wolfgang Tillmans. This exhibition was the logical follow up to the 2007 photographic exhibition “Deutschlandbilder - Images of Germany”.

Since 2007 Goethe-Institut Manila has been under the direction of Richard Künzel. (pictured on the left) A multi-linguist proficient in German, English, French, Serbo-Croatian and Russian, Künzel is man to whom borders are just lines on a map. He started his working life as a sleeping car attendant on the Orient Express, then moved on to become a trekking tour guide in Nepal during which time he first set eyes upon his wife, Ricarda, at the southern base camp of Mount Everest. In his 30 years with the Goethe-Institut Künzel has, apart from the Philippines, flown the flag in Kazakhstan, Turkey and Egypt.

It was whilst he was in Egypt, as that institute’s cultural officer, Künzel became the vice president of the Friends of the Railways of Egypt and the Arab World. Who, in 2002, organized the Peace Ambassadors train, a 2000 kilometer rail journey through the war ravaged Middle East. Starting in the Egyptian capital of Cairo the train was shipped to the sea port of Latakia in Syria and from there it traveled by rail to Mosul in Iraq.

But this 61 year old German National is more than a Deutschland impresario, although in the coming months he will bring to the Philippines “Contemporary Picture Book Illustration in Germany”, “Come-in: Interior Design as a Contemporary Art Medium in Germany” and the “Alexander Kluge Film Series”. Künzel the pedagogue is a man in love with his mother tongue.

This passion has held him in good stead with the day to day activity of the Goethe-Institut, the teaching of the German language. With the German Government’s decision that immigrants must be proficient in basic German to be eligible for a residents visa the Institute’s work load has increased significantly. Filipina brides of German Nationals are knocking on the Institute’s door seeking the assistance needed to be with their husbands.

And with many coming from “the provinces”, where the instruction in grammar is rudimentary at best, Künzel and his team of language instructors have developed an innovative program that meets the needs of both the prospective immigrant and the German Government’s directive. Such is the strength of this program that tertiary institutions across the Philippines are sending Filipino teachers of the German language to learn the program. These include the German language departments of the Ateneo de Manila and the University of the Philippines in Manila, the San Carlos University in Cebu and the University of Mindanao’s faculty of Hotel and Restaurant Management.

It is this type of interaction that fosters the Institute’s ability to gauge the pulse of the Philippine community and cross borders both regional and cultural. Which for Richard Künzel, a man of many parts from many places, means he can, with the Goethe-Institut’s encouragement, promote a world where the best of his country’s endeavors can be shared without fear or favour.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Generous Co mpany

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Charcoal has long been used by artist’s for sketching out ideas and drawing layouts to be painted over. It isn’t often that finished works are presented in this medium and rarer still for an exhibition to be devoted entirely to it. But Charlie Co’s latest exhibition, “Balana”, at Slab Gallery does just that.

His eighteen large (4’ x4’) charcoal drawings stand out in stark relief on the gallery’s white walls, a powerful and dramatic onslaught to the visual senses as you walk through the door. With their dark gray mattes and black frames these black and white images with their small splashes of color, which heightens the limited palette, confront the audience not only through the rendering but with the subject matter. For Co is uncompromising in his depiction humanities follies with his cast of self-indulgent characters.

From the business man looking through a key hole in “Here Comes Mr Smiley” with its pedophilic over tones to the un-repentant survivor in “Bail Out” that recalls the allegory of the ship of fools, Co tackles the issues of the day with insight and candor. But his work is more than current events as he turns to gaze through the proscenium upon issues that have occupied the human consciousness from the time of Medieval Morality plays in works like “St Michael Duels The Devil”. And more often than not his tongue is firmly in his cheek with a satirical sense humor that lightens the messenger’s tale, this aspect of his work is especially prevalent in “Crow Monger” and “Message From An Angel”.

Although bordering on the macabre from time to time, see "Masquerade" and "Halloween Chair", Co is a generous artist who has created images for this exhibition that keep on giving. "Balana" will be on view until 4th of July at Slab Gallery 2/F YMC Building 2, 2320 Pasong Tamo Extension, Makati City.

A Master of Modern Photography

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Andreas Gursky F1 Pit Stop I, 2007, © Andreas Gursky / SODRAC (2009)

German photographer Andreas Gursky is having a retrospective of his work at the Vancouver Art Gallery. And as part of the publicity for the event FOTO8 have published Guy Lane’s interview with him.

Read the interview and see more Gursky pics here.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Bacon on Show

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Francis Bacon, "Painting" 1946

The Irish artist with the reputation as a chronicler of the grotesque, Francis Bacon’s major centenary retrospective has opened at the Museum of Modern Art. After sojourns at the Tate Britain and the Prado Gallery in Madrid the 60 works have found their way to New York.

And “A Sky Filled with Shooting Stars” author, Robert Ayers says it’s “The best exhibition I have ever seen, anywhere, in my life”. You can read the why of his claim here and best of all you can see some decent sized pics of some of the artists seminal works.

Monday, May 25, 2009

A Good Day to be an Aussie in the Philippines

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It’s a good day to be an Aussie/Filipino, my home country and my adopted country both picked up gongs at Cannes.

First time director Warwick Thornton got the Palme d’Or for best first film for his love story “Samson and Delilah” and Brillante Mendoza picked up the directors Palme d’Or for his crime movie “Kinatay”.

The Filipino’s grisly tale of a kidnap-rape victim who is beaten up before being murdered and hacked to pieces in “Kinatay” nudged out heavy weight directors like Quentin Tarantino and Jane Campion to get the nod from the International Film Festival’s judges. These same judges said that the slow, shy courtship of the young petrol sniffing boy and the girl caring for her aged grandmother in “Samson and Delilah” was the best love story they had seen in many years.

Now the tricky bit will be to find a cinema that will show these films in preference to the standard Hollywood fare.

To find out about all the Cannes winners go here

Friday, May 22, 2009

Manila and Me

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First impressions are not always to be trusted. Such was the case when I first laid eyes upon the the 51 black and white photographs, under glass, at Briccio Santos’ “Inner Spaces” exhibition at the Silverlens Gallery. There were some interesting compositions but the works were mute.

A closer examination, literally with my nose inches from the glass, and I was drawn into the works. These 20 x 24 inch and 16 x 20 inch Manila cityscapes demand this intimacy and the viewer’s reflection in the glass, which is usually an annoyance, becomes an integral part of the experience. The viewer becomes a part of the scene and as their focus shifts so too does the relationship with the scene presented.

This idea of reflection is carried over to Santos’ installation, the 52nd work in the exhibition, “Tunnel of knowledge”. A circular library with a mirrored ceiling and a mirrored floor. This hall of mirrors extends above and below to become a book lovers wishing well. Constructed to exclude the casual viewer's reflection the more intrepid can become involved at the risk of suffering from vertigo.

The majority of the books in this library are stacked upon the shelves with their spines hidden from prying eyes. And those with their titles on view are, for the most part, technical manuals and self help tombs. A couple of fiction titles make the cut but the only literary title on show is Mark Twain’s, Huckleberry Finn. Interestingly, considering its setting, books about art are conspicuous by their absence along with poetry, but who reads them today?

Inner Spaces continues at Silverlens until 20th June with a talk by Briccio Santos scheduled for Saturday 6th of June.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Great Abstract Photography

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Miu Kiuchi is a Japanese photographer who produces some lovely images. Can't tell you a lot more as my command of the Japanese language is on a par with my Greek. But be that as it may, Kiuchi's photographs speak volumes. You can see more of her work here (it's a bit slow to load but well worth the wait).

Monday, May 18, 2009

And Baby Makes 3

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Back in the days when the world was young I got to motor around in one of these. It was officially “the wife’s car” but it was such fun to drive that I would nick it whenever the opportunity arose.
Now according to the WSJ, Fiat is set to become number 3 in the world car maker stakes. Vai, vai bambino.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

"A brush, like a computer, is merely a tool."

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So says one of England’s most influential artists, David Hockney . For his latest exhibition “DAVID HOCKNEY: DRAWING IN A PRINTING MACHINE” at Annely Juda Fine Art, London, Hockney has abandoned his brushes in favor of Photoshop and a Graphics Tablet.

Paul Hockney I
Wednesday 25 February 2009
inkjet printed computer drawing on paper,
edition of 12, 140 x 95 cm


In a Sunday Times article he was quick to ridicule the misconception that this work was some sort of computer art, in which the computer rather than the artist dominates. “Most people thought they knew what ‘computer art’ looked like, but of course that is like saying they know what ‘brush art’ looks like. It is daft.”

You can see a selection of Hockney’s latest work here.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Stay of Execution

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Today was scheduled as the last day of my current exhibition at Sining Kamalig. But gallerist Simoun Balboa, in his wisdom, has given the works a reprieve and they will remain on show until Thursday the 24th of May.

So if you haven't got to see "Pixel Perfect - The Exhibition" yet, or are desirous of a second look you have another 12 days to satisfy your curiosity. I shall be popping in from time to time as I continue working on my new project based on the Gateway Mall, which is home to the Gallery.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

On You Tube

A reworked version of this video.

A selection of triptychs created this year.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

A Week and 2 Days

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My exhibition at Sining Kamalig (Art Granary) Gallery is on until 12 May. Below are some shots from the gallery.



We Shoot Bottles

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A pretty boring subject but a great web site, simple, clean and tells you what you need to know. Interested in web site design, this is a must see. Click here to go there.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Have an Interest in Copyright

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I discovered Artbabble a week or so ago (see post here) and trolling through its pages came across this discussion “Remix: Lawrence Lessig and Shepard Fairey (LIVE from the NYPL) 2/26/09”

Shep Fairey is the creator of the Obama poster who is getting his ass sued for copyright infringement for this same poster. But it’s Larry Lessig who makes this video interesting, 16 and a half minutes in and his spiel is were the synapses start to fire. Lessig is the author of Remix, founder of Creative Commons, and one of the leading legal scholars on intellectual property issues in the Internet age. (And he can dance, well verbally at least.)

Involved with the internet and art? Ignore this at your peril.

Sunday, April 26, 2009

Back in the Studio II

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Almost Red & Pretty Big
(A visual critique of Pixel Perfect - The Exhibition)
5 archival inkjet prints - Dimensions variable - edition of 5 + 1 AP

Domestic Chaos

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Front Porch by Julie Blackmon

If domestic chaos is your thing check out the delightful vignettes over at Julie Blackmon's web site. She has 3 series of works "Mind Games", "Domestic Vacations" and "New Work". Front Porch is from the Domestic vacations series.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Back in the Studio

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Reception (2009)

It's good to find some time and space to work on pics after the hurley burly of the last week.

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Up & Running

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Posts have been a bit thin on the ground over the past few days as it’s been kinda hectic getting the exhibition up and running. But with many thanks to Simoun, Kristine, Muffet, Rica and Coro for all their hard work, we got the pics on the walls and the video working. I would also like to thank Bing and Raul who braved the elements (Want it to rain? Schedule an exhibition opening for me and watch the heavens open) to officiate and cut the ribbon.

Sining Kamalig Gallery

The works are now on display until Tuesday 12 May at Sining Kamalig on the 4th level of Gateway Mall in down town Cubao next to the Araneta Coliseum.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

A New Link

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Thanks to the guardian blog for the heads up to artbabble. A “you tube” sort of place but with the subject matter related to the visual arts. And the navigation is good, with “series”= production house (the arts organization), “channels”= generic art forms and “artists”= well artists.

If you have only a passing interest in the arts you could loose a few hours there and they have only started out, (not a lot of content yet). Click on the link above or on the side bar to see for yourself.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Happy Birthday Matilda

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Yesterday (April 6) was the 114th anniversary of the first performance of Australia’s best known song and unofficial national anthem, “Waltzing Matilda”.

Once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong,
Under the shade of a coolibah tree,
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he watched and waited 'til his billy boiled,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Down came a jumbuck to drink at that billabong,
Up jumped the swagman and grabbed him with glee,
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And he sang as he shoved that jumbuck in his tucker bag,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Up rode the squatter, mounted on his thoroughbred,
Down came the troopers, one, two, three,
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?"
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
"Where's that jolly jumbuck you've got in your tucker bag?",
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Up jumped the swagman and sprang into the billabong,
"You'll never catch me alive", said he,
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me".

Waltzing Matilda, Waltzing Matilda
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me"
And his ghost may be heard as you pass by that billabong,
"You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me."
"Oh, You'll come a-Waltzing Matilda, with me."

This is the modern day version of this song, the original which was first performed for the Queensland Premier of the day at the North Gregory Hotel in Winton, Queensland can be seen here.

Saturday, April 04, 2009

If You Say So Mr Winkleman

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Times are tough in prestigious art burb that is New York’s Chelsea district if the latest exhibition at the Winkleman Gallery (April 3 to May 9) is anything to go by. Entitled "The Reappraisal", artist Jennifer Dalton has, if you believe the press release, catalogued all the stuff in her place and offered it for sale.

“From graduate student paintings to the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink to the planter in the back yard” everything has a price, and not just one price but three. What the artist thinks its worth, what Christie’s Auction house reckon it’s worth and “your price” i.e. how much you will have to pay to own it. A porcelain vase has been valued at $100 by the artist, $15 by Christies, but “your price” is $1500.00. One can’t help but wonder if this was the motivation for the blog post Three Grumpy Thoughts on the Salander Case a few days earlier?

Prices range from half a million for a trinket of the kitsch variety to the artist paying you $5 to take stuff off her hands. But one still has to pay the rent as the blogging gallerist often alludes too. Hence “The Reappraisal is a meditation on materialism, growing up, and the extent to which we can properly judge ourselves and each other by the contents of our bookshelves, refrigerators and medicine cabinets.”

Come on, no matter how you dress it up, a garage sale is a garage sale.

Friday, April 03, 2009

Memories

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My friends and long time collectors Pat and Tony Stroud sent some pics (Tony is the shutterbug) of my earlier (circa 1984/85) works from a time before the camera and Photoshop.

Tree
Oil on canvas


No Standing Anytime
Oil on Canvas


Somerville Theatre
Pencil & gouache on paper

A quarter of a century (which is kinda scary) and still going strong (which is kinda encouraging).

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Monday, March 30, 2009

Is it Art?

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The best definition I have come across for art comes the Hungarian/Australian painter Desiderius Orban which goes along the lines of “If when viewing a work of art for the first time you don’t change your mind about something, either you are a very stubborn person or it isn’t a very good work of art.”

This definition applies to photography just as well and I have just discovered Colin Pantall's blog and his current series “How Not to Photograph” which hammers the point home.

Don’t go there unless you want to know why your pics suck.

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Pixel Perfect – The Exhibition (Fact File)

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Gallery: Sining Kamalig
Address: 4th Level, Gateway Mall, Araneta Centre,
Cubao, Quezon City
Duration: 21 April to 12 May (Open 11am to 9pm Daily)
Opening Reception: 6pm to 9pm Tuesday 21 April
Artist: Henry Bateman
Email: bateman(dot)henry(at)gmail(dot)com
Gallerist: Simoun Balboa
Email: siningkamalig(at)gmail(dot)com

The Book

Pixel Perfect
A print on demand publication printed in the USA.
Signed copies can be ordered through the gallery.
Softback Php3500.00, Hardback Php4500.00




The Art Works


Seasons Greetings
3 archival inkjet on canvas panels 60.5” x 48”
Edition of 1 plus 2 AP
Digital files created between December 2005
and December 2006
Printed February 2009



Remembering Batangas
3 archival inkjet on canvas panels 60.5” x 48”
Edition of 1 plus 1 AP
Digital files created between September 2006
and June 2007
Printed February 2009



Kalbaryo
9 archival inkjet on canvas panels 60.5” x 144.5”
Edition of 1 plus 1 AP
Digital files created between April 2006 and April 2007
Printed February 2009

Broken Spaces
12 archival inkjet on canvas panels 80.75” x 144.5”
Edition of 1 plus 1 AP
Digital files created between December 2007
and July 2008
Printed February 2009


At an Exhibition
3 archival inkjet on canvas panels 60.5” x 48”
Edition of 1 plus 1 AP
Digital files created between January
and June 2008
Printed February 2009



2 416 329X
3 archival inkjet on canvas panels 60.5” x 48”
Edition of 1 plus 1 AP
Digital files created in July 2008
Printed February 2009




The Sign Says 1
9 archival inkjet on canvas panels 60.5” x 144.5”
Edition of 1 plus 1 AP
Digital files created between August and November 2008
Printed February 2009

The Sign Says 2
3 archival inkjet on canvas panels 60.5” x 48”
Edition of 1 plus 1 AP
Digital files created in November 2008
Printed February 2009




How to get there



Sunday, March 22, 2009

Friday, March 20, 2009

Getting Connected

First published in The Expat Travel & Lifestyle Magazine March 2009

What do an Irishman, a Scotsman, an Englishman, a Swede, an Indian, an Australian, a Norwegian, an American, a Chinaman, a Filipino, a German, a Spaniard and an Austrian all have in common?

Apart from seeming like a chapter of the United Nations, they are some of the nationalities of a group of people who meet each month at one of Manila’s many watering holes to swap tales of their Philippine adventures. They are also members of www.internations.org, the international online community for people who live and work abroad.


Canadian John Mihalo and Irishman Tom Kershaw share a drink at the bar of Murphy's Irish pub during the January InterNations get together.

InterNations is the brain child of three Germans, Christian Leifeld, Philipp von Plato and Malte Zeeck. Between them, in the preceding thirteen years, they had lived and studied and/or worked in fifteen countries that ranged from India in the east to the Americas in the west. The impetus to start InterNations was their shared discovery, common amongst expatriates, of the often difficult process of finding like minded people who could show them the ropes in their new country. So in September of 2007, utilizing their skills in international management and media, they founded InterNations, an organization dedicated to making life easier for people living abroad.

In the eighteen months from its inception, InterNations has grown to 100,000 members from 230 local communities across the globe. Members range from diplomats, members of IGOs and NGOs, foreign correspondents, expatriates employed by multinational companies, their family members and the diverse range of individuals living abroad along with locals with ties to the expatriate community.

Via the internet, InterNations provides a network that enables its members to interact with other people in a similar situation. From New York to New Delhi, from Amsterdam to Addis Ababa, it allows members with comparable interests to share insights and ideas through the site’s forums; to exchange reliable information on expat-specific topics; and to keep in touch with friends and business contacts. From across the world or around the corner, these globally minded people pool their knowledge and their experiences.

With topics that range from the meaty like, “How to bring peace to the middle east?” or “Who will be the next superpower?” to the frivolous such as “what frequently tickles your feet” or “ROSITA'S CANTINA - with the cook, the thief, his wife and her lover - SORRY WE'RE OPEN” and its 21979 replies, the forums are at the heart of the web site. With six broad categories, that includes an Expat Q&A, there is a plethora of information as well as opinion just waiting discovery. And if the forum can’t help, the members’ directory with its display of country affiliations means an answer is just an email away, pretty much wherever in the world your concern lies.

More than a Web Site

But this ever expanding network is more than a web site, members are encouraged to get out from behind their computers and interact in the real world. Each of the 203 local communities has an ambassador. A dedicated individual who organizes activities within his or her local community that brings the membership out of the house, out of the work place.

From bowling in Budapest to pub nights in Paris, the InterNations’ ambassadors organize get-togethers for their multi cultural throng. With, of course, the recent festive season being an excuse for serious party going from Melbourne to Moscow, from Miami to Manila.

Here in the Philippines the pre Christmas get-together was organized by the local InterNations’ ambassador, Pat Hawkins. An Australian and a serial expatriate, he has lived and worked in 48 cities in 39 countries mostly in the Middle East and Asia. Hawkins, although currently employed in real estate here in Manila, utilizes his past experience as a team leader in information technology start ups to organize the local events. He has grown the Manila get-togethers from an initial seven people from four countries to 25 people from 20 countries in just a handful of months. Based around the principle of eat, drink and be merry, these gatherings foster a bonhomie conducive to making friends and business contacts.

The Dane and the Filipina

The Dane and The Filipina take a break whilst Malling

Lone Nielsen is a marketing post graduate from Denmark, who came to Manila upon the completion of her degree to work as an intern with the Filtra group of companies. After her one year stint with Filtra, she will return to Denmark to pursue a Masters degree in her chosen field of Marketing and Management Communications. This year off from study has given her the chance to gain some valuable work experience whilst indulging her passion for foreign travel. Joining InterNations seemed like the obvious thing to do when she arrived in the Philippines.

Monelli Ponce de Leon is a Filipina in her mid twenties. An avid reader and part time computer geek, she is also multi-lingual, speaking English, Tagalog, Spanish, Japanese and French. For this language instructor joining InterNations was a “no brainer”, not only for the networking associated with her employment but for the opportunity to practice and maintain her language skills.

They met at the InterNations gathering held at Murphy’s Irish Pub in down town Makati a couple of months ago. They have since got together several times outside of the InterNations meetings to swap notes on their cultural differences while Ponce de Leon introduces Nielsen to the intricacies of the Philippines unofficial sport, malling. No doubt the true test of this budding friendship will come when the Filipina introduces the Dane to her favorite local delicacy, balut.

Beam me up Scotty

Currently, basic membership of InterNations is free but only through invitation, which can be obtained from the front page of www.internations.org. Answer the half a dozen questions and you could find yourself on the invitation list for the next get-together, which in Manila tend to be held on the third Wednesday of the month.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Street Art

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Road closures are part of the deal as this year's crop of Easter Shrines start to take shape over the Poblacion barangay. These folk art installations must be ready by Wednesday 8th of April, just 3 weeks away, to celebrate Christ Pasyon. It is also the second day of The Great Filipino Easter Photo Tour, click here for more info.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Triptych

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Remembering Heath Robinson (2009)
3 archival inkjet on canvas panels 48" x 60"

The Circus is Back in Town

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Artist Cesar Caballero with a bevy of beauties at
the opening of his latest exhibition


Pinocchio has given way to the three ring spectacular. Views of both the arena and the bleachers are on view and explore the nature of the beast. The internet’s “WTF” transposes to the canvas with a cartoon aesthetic that links the transition. Anime with a Spanish twist, perhaps?

It is the blurring of the perspective, from performer to perceiver that intrigues in Cesar Caballero’s latest offering "Silence and Whispers" at Artina Gallery Café. The linking device of the 3 dots in a speech balloon cements the sense of wonder of both and raises the eternal question even if the roles are stereotypical.

“Silence & Whispers” is on show at Artina Gallery Café, A Venue, Makati Ave until 13 April.

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Spreading the Word

First published in The Expat travel & Lifestyle Magazine March 2009
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In May last year, when the hammer fell on Emmanual Santos’ angel series of photographs “Passing of Light” at Christie’s Hong Kong auction, a record price for Philippine and Asian contemporary photograph was set.

Hill of 1,000,000 Crosses by Emmanuel Santos, part of the series that created the Philippine & Asian record at Christy's Hong Kong Auction © Emmanual Santos

The woman who instigated this historic moment was Isa Lorenzo, the Artistic Director of the Silverlens Photography Gallery. For this doctor cum photographer cum gallerist, whilst acknowledging the importance of the economic capital of photography, the development of the cultural capital of the medium is her driving force.

Silverlens' Artistic Director, Isa Lorenzo
photograph by Rachel Rillo

After completing her medical degree, Lorenzo realised her passion was elsewhere and headed off to the US to study photography at the Parsons School of Design in New York. There she gained her masters in Photography and Media Studies. Whilst in the Big Apple she also exhibited her work at the International Center for Photography and the Thomas Wenrer Gallery. To say, Lorenzo was under whelmed by Manila’s scatter gun approach to exhibiting art in general and photography in particular that she found upon her return to the Philippines would be an understatement.

“Making the work is half the journey, and the easy part in comparison, to finding a gallerist who really believes in an artists’ work, much less photography”, she says. “The lack of support for photography as collected art plus being forced to work in a vacuum takes its toll on the creative process,” Lorenzo adds. Consequently, taking the recognized international gallery practice of nurturing a stable of artists through their careers as her model, she created Silverlens Gallery in September of 2005 specializing in fine art photography.

Through the careful planning of their exhibition schedule of international and local photographers, the gallery has grown to be one of the most highly respected players in the Philippine art scene. And in October of 2008 Silverlens expanded their local operation opening on two new galleries, the SLab Gallery and the 20Square Gallery. Adjacent to and interconnected with the original Silverlens gallery, these spaces exhibit a wider range of contemporary art including painting, sculpture and prints. With the same curatorial team as the main gallery, these new additions are fast becoming, likewise, respect venues in the local art scene.

International Expansion

As a logical extension of these local successes, the Silverlens’ curatorial team, with Lorenzo at its head, has been making inroads into the international art scene. And it is here that Lorenzo’s focus on developing the gallery’s cultural capital, rather than the economic, has started to pay dividends.

Firstly by targeting top draw art fairs in the Asian region like HK08 in Hong Kong and Art Singapore. And then placing gallery artists in some of the regions biennales such as Korea’s Busan Biennale and the Singapore Biennale, Silverlens is promoting the world class nature of their program. It is these events that attract the glitterati of the international arts world, the serious, well heeled collectors and more importantly the top flight museum curators.

Whilst sales are an economic imperative and a record setting auction price will generate headlines, the works go into private hands for the enjoyment of the few and the headlines will be wrapping tomorrow’s fish and chips. Whereas placing a work in a museum’s and /or institutional gallery’s permanent collection ensures the work will be displayed for generations to come. And with museum and gallery attendances trumping sporting events world wide, year after year, means the placed work will be seen by very many pairs of eyes. It is also an indication of a work’s cultural significance, as these public collections are the historic record of the world’s cultural capital.

Pulse

In March each year galleries from around the world descend upon New York City. For the city that bills itself as the art capital of the world, from the 5th to 8th of the ‘Ides’ month, the boast becomes a fact. Seven art fairs opened their doors over these four days and an expected quarter of a million visitors flowed through them. From Zurich to Amsterdam, from Montreal to Manila, the crème de la crème of the art world wormed their way though the Big Apple.

And Silverlens was there. Lorenzo and her team dove into this particular pressure cooker of long days at their art fair booth and nights spent networking with colleagues. “It is hard work, and you never really know who is walking in to see the show. It’s a thrill and a half”, Lorenzo muses.

For Lorenzo, getting Silverlens into the Pulse Contemporary Art Fair is a feather in her cap. Their 2008 application was rejected by the highly selective Pulse curatorial committee. Silverlens was advised they were showing too many artists, the Pulse selection committee expects participating galleries to be as selective as them. Over the successive nine months the Pulse curators kept an eye on Silverlens’ other fair appearances and the gallery program and for the 2009 fair gave them the nod.

After The Fawn by Bea Valdes

When Lorenzo and her team flew out to New York, they had six artist’s works in their bags. Steve Tirona, Gary Ross Pastrana, Bea Valdes, Isa Lorenzo, Mariano Ching and Patricia Eustaquio all strutted their stuff at the Pulse Contemporary Art Fair under the Silverlens banner, rubbing shoulders with some of the art world’s heavy hitters. And for Steve Tirona, Pulse was his New York debut.

Nos. 61-97 by Gary-Ross Pastrana

A Silverlens exhibition is fast becoming a high point in a photographer’s career, adding a culturally significant entry to their resume. To be accepted for representation will see the photographer thrust into the international spot light as the Silverlens’ star continues to glow, with increasing brightness, in the international art firmament.