Wednesday, February 27, 2013

2006-08 Recapitulations - Video Presentation of Paintings

Continuing my archiving practice, I'm posting video recapitulations of paintings I completed in 2006 through 2008, in three videos below.

Those three years were years of experimenting and re-aligning, after several intense years of creativity, fueled by the emotions stirred up by the dark time and reality - the period George W. Bush invaded Iraq and suppressed civil liberty at home, a period and political situation reminded me cruelly of the repressive China I fled from.  When emotions had been dulled by time, I needed to rejuvenate myself and rekindle my creative fire. Those three years were such period of the soul-searching and these three videos documented that journey:




>> Video presentations of paintings and drawings, Part XXVII: 2004-05 Recapitulations - Video Presentation of Paintings
<< Video presentations of paintings and drawings, Part XXV: 2012 Recapitulation - Video Presentation of Paintings Completed in 2012

List of Video Presentation of My Artworks

List of Video Presentation of My Artworks

On October 29, 2010, I started My Video Series, presenting my artworks with videos.  The number of these videos are large enough to warrant a list, similar to the one I made for the List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited, so my readers can navigate more easily of the ever larger web:

XXXIV: 2009 Recapitulation - Video Presentation of Paintings Completed in 2009
XXXIII: 2013 Recapitulations - Video Presentation of My Drawings
XXXII: 2013 Recapitulations - Video Presentation of Paintings & Installations
XXXI: "Arabesque" and Other Paintings Inspired by Literature
XXX: A New Video of "Liberation Road"
XXIX: 2003 Recapitulations - Video Presentation of Paintings
XXVIII: Video Presentation of Oil Painting "Black Woods"
XXVII: 2004-05 Recapitulations - Video Presentation of Paintings
XXVI: 2006-08 Recapitulations - Video Presentation of Paintings
XXV: 2012 Recapitulation - Video Presentation of Paintings Completed in 2012
XXIV: 2011 Recapitulation - Video Presentation of Paintings Completed in 2011
XXIII: Video Presentation of Oil Painting "Progression"
XXII: Video Presentation of Oil Painting "Dissonance"
XXI: Oil Painting "Liberation Road" on Video
XX: Video Presentation of My Abstract Paintings
XIX: One More Life Drawing Video from Last Year
XVIII: Ready to Go Back to Drawing Sessions
XVII: Looking Back One More Year
XVI: 2010 Recapitulation
XV: Monochromatic Drama
XIV: My Theatrical Paintings on Video
XIII: Video Presentation of Still Life Paintings
XII: Orientation of Paintings
XI: 2011 Calendars Ready for Downloading
X: Paintings of Interiors
IX: My Self-Portraits       
VIII: "The Triumph of Saint George" (2003)
VII: My Bird Paintings on YouTube
VI: My Fish Paintings on YouTube
V: Flower Paintings in Video
IV: Traveling the World - Video Presentation of Painting Inspired by Wonderful Cities
III: "Sibyls" - Portraits of Old Women
II: Tips for Artist: Video Presentations
I: The Song of Orpheus

I. The Song of Orpheus 

My Video Series

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

My Favorite Paintings at Musée Marmottan Monet

My 2008 trip to Paris brought me to the presence of more Monets, first at Musée de l'Orangerie, where his enormous Les Nymphéas filled two huge oval halls, then to Musée Marmottan Monet, which hosted his painting given the name to the Impressionism movement, Impression, Soleil levant, indeed a shimmering and muted vibrant painting of the gentle sunrise in a sea port.  The exhibition of the painting in that group show was mocked by the Parisian audience then and the group was branded as Impressionists, which quickly took hold of the people's imaginary and nowadays, almost any Impressionism show is a blockbuster event and people can related to Impressionism much more easily than to Titian or Raphael. How people's perceptions have been conditioned!  It was indeed a glorious painting but it didn't make into my top two favorites in this modestly-sized but very rich museum.

My favorite painting in that museum was a portrait by Edouard Manet, who was at the fringe of the Impressionists group and an odd man due to his somber palette and classical restraints of his portraits amongst the sunburst colors and free-forms of the others, and I loved him more for that precisely.  Here, his Portrait of Berthe Morisot, an artist in her own rights, presented us a confident woman who was somber, sensual, intelligent and serious, and not unaware of her own monumental yet feminine allure.  I love the way Manet applied his large swatches of paints to create flat areas confined in its clearly defined boundaries, such as the sitter's face and left hand - each of these areas glittered like the reflection of moon in dark water, surrounded by her "colorful" and singing black dress, and further accentuated by the dark brown flat background.  Simplistic, stylish and stirringly beautiful.

IMG_8907 _ Portrait de Berthe Morisot, Edouard Manet, Musée Marmottan Monet, Paris, June 2008
Portrait de Berthe Morisot, Edouard Manet

My second favorite was a well-known painting by Gustave Caillebotte, Rue de Paris, temps de pluie (Paris Street, Rainy Day).  Caillebotte made several versions of this work, and this one was more prosaic, more "impressionistic", less polished and less plastic than, say the one in Art Institute of Chicago, and had more earthy vitality, despite the fact that the subjects here were the sophisticated urban Paris and Parisians. I especially loved the exaggerated, plunging perspective of this work, and the perfectly captured varied postures of the pedestrians in the rain, and the central character's almost black face but for several suggestive strokes giving him many background stories for the viewers to fill in. A melancholic yet witty masterpiece.  Unforgettable.

Rue de Paris, temps de pluie, 1877, Gustave Caillebotte

My Favorite Museum Collection Series

>> My Favorite Museum Collection Series 64: My Favorite Sculpture and Painting at Musée d'Art moderne de la Ville de Paris
<< My Favorite Museum Collection Series 62: My Favorite Paintings at Petit Palais, Paris

List of My Favorite Artworks in the Museums I've Visited

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Visiting Four Universities in Austria and Italy

When I visited Vienna, Graz in Austria and Padua, Bologna in Italy last October, I was deeply impressed by the beauty of the campuses and the long history of those highly-esteemed institutions.

Universität Wien (University Vienna) was conveniently located in the center of the city, near the City Hall and the iconic theater, Burgtheater, and had a similar classical façade, giving it a sense of seriousness and loftiness.  However, if the maze-like structure was lofty, the students roaming around the staircases, courtyard and lawn made it clear that this institution was also a vibrant living organism and continued to generate academic debates and social and scientific advancements in despite its museum or temple quality look:

DSCN1148 _ Universität Wien, 5 October  DSCN1150 _ Universität Wien, 5 October

DSCN1128 _ Universität Wien, 5 October

DSCN1140 _ Universität Wien, 5 October

DSCN1121 _ Universität Wien, 5 October

DSCN1113 _ Universität Wien, 5 October  DSCN1115 _ Universität Wien, 5 October


After the glittering Vienna, it was hard to imaging that Graz would even top that.  Karl-Franzens-Universität Graz had the similar look to Universität Wien, classical and ornate.  What make it most remarkable was a small museum/storage/workshop in its Institut für Klassische Archäologie.  Behind the usual office space, there were two or three (I cannot remember clearly) connected large halls, in which many classical Roman and Greek marble sculptures and reliefs were collected and displayed.  According to the university, "the Institute is home to significant archaeological collections of ancient vases of Greece, objects from local sites as well as casts of ancient sculptures. These collections are open to the public."

Indeed they were open to public.  It took me quite a while to locate the Institute and two kind middle-aged women rather casually pointed out the halls to me and let me wander amongst those amazing sculptures by myself.  It was an absolute treat.

DSCN9102 _ Universität Graz, 9 October

DSCN9129 _ Universität Graz, Graz, 9 October

DSCN9117 _ Universität Graz, Graz, 9 October  DSCN9119 _ Universität Graz, 9 October

DSCN9113 _ Universität Graz, Graz, 9 October

DSCN9137 _ Institut für Klassische Archäologie, Universität Graz, 9 October

DSCN9149 _ Institut für Klassische Archäologie, Universität Graz, 9 October

DSCN9152 _ Institut für Klassische Archäologie, Universität Graz, 9 October


The most remarkable things about Università degli Studi di Padova (University of Padua) are its long history and its remarkably preserved ancient dissection theater.  The University of Padua was conventionally believed to be founded in 1222 as a school of law and was one of the most prominent universities in early modern Europe. It is among the earliest universities of the world and the second oldest in Italy. Since 1595, Padua's famous anatomical theatre drew artists and scientists studying the human body during public dissections. It is the oldest surviving permanent anatomical theatre in Europe.  Again, the city and the university were teemed with vivacious young people, learning to be themselves.

DSCN0908 _ Palazzo del Bò, Padova, 12 October  DSCN0925 _ Palazzo del Bò, Padova, 12 October

DSCN0907 _ Palazzo del Bò, Padova, 12 October  DSCN0906 _ Palazzo del Bò, Padova, 12 October

DSCN0927 _ Palazzo del Bò, Padova, 12 October

DSCN0888 _ Palazzo del Bò, Padova, 12 October

DSCN0910 _ Palazzo del Bò, Padova, 12 October

The anatomical theatre was quit delicate and the tours could only accommodate small groups.  We were only allowed to view the surprisingly small wooden structure from below, at the dissection table level, up to the tier audience levels.  It was quite remarkable and unforgettable.

DSCN0913 _ Palazzo del Bò, Padova, 12 October

The Anatomical Theatre, Palazzo del Bò, Padova (1)
Anatomical Theatre

The Anatomical Theatre, Palazzo del Bò, Padova (2)

My last stop in Bologna granted me a glimpse of the oldest university, Università di Bologna, which is widely recognized as the oldest university, considering that it was the first to use the term universitas for the corporations of students and masters which came to define the institution.

Bologna was much bigger than Padua, and more gritty, more living-in.  In this ancient arched city, one would not miss the university quarter, when endless sprawling crowds of young people filled out the street and plazas day and night.  It was messy yet lively.  There were some people there quite reminded me of University of California, Berkeley, with just the same dress "code" and odor:

DSCN3256 _ Università di Bologna, 16 October

DSCN3252 _ Università di Bologna, 16 October

DSCN3253 _ Università di Bologna, 16 October

DSCN3430 _ Università di Bologna, 16 October

DSCN3440 _ Università di Bologna, 16 October

University of Bologna also boasted an ancient anatomical theater but we didn't have time for that.  We did see its ancient Law School and I even got a peep of a lecture in one of the ground level classrooms:

DSCN3439 _ Law School, Università di Bologna, 16 October  DSCN3264 _ Università di Bologna, 16 October

DSCN3438 _ Law School, Università di Bologna, 16 October
Law School

And for a look of student life, we saw a crowded Caffè Zamboni, between Torre degli Asinelli and Basilica Giacomo Maggiore, near Università, with super-sized offering trays for the hungry youths:

DSCN5064 _ Caffè Zamboni, between Torre degli Asinelli and Basilica Giacomo Maggiore, near Università, Bologna, 18 October
Caffè Zamboni, between Torre degli Asinelli and Basilica Giacomo Maggiore, near Università

Related posts on Art · 文化 · Kunst
- Magnificent Churches in Vienna
- My Favorite "Sculptures" at the Imperial Crypt (Kapuzinergruft), Vienna
- Theater Experiences in Wien (Vienna) 
- Kaiser Maximilian I und die Kunst der Duerer-Zeit in Albertina Museum, Vienna

Label: Austria, Italy, Austria and Italy Trip 2012

Thursday, February 21, 2013

Free Art at Pro Arts Gallery, Oakland

In a week, you may visit Pro Arts Gallery in Oakland's Free Gallery Exhibit to grab a piece or two artworks offered for free, as part of the Free Utopian Projects.

Pro Arts Gallery stated that
The Free Gallery, by Free Utopian Projects*, is a new exhibition presenting free artwork, found objects and art ephemera to the public.

The Free Gallery is both an interactive experience of an alternative art economy, as well as a study of art as a consumer product. Who makes art? Who exhibits art? Who buys art? The Free Gallery explores the collapse of these distinctions by offering a subverted gallery experience where not only admission is free, the art is too.

Participating artists donate work to the exhibition to be presented salon-style in a continually evolving cycle of giving and taking art. A 'Preview' will be held from Tuesday, February 26 to Friday, March 1 to allow viewers an exclusive preview of items that will be available free to the public from the Artists' Reception onwards. A practice of taking one work per person will be encouraged. The project proprietor Jocelyn Meggait will be onsite most gallery hours to discuss the project with visitors, coordinate artwork, and document the selection experience.
* Free Utopian Projects is an ongoing alternative art project exploring Utopian economic systems by creating free, socially active installations. Curator/proprietor/artist Jocelyn Meggait has installed Free Projects at Kala Art Institute, Mills College Art Museum, and most recently at the alternative art space A Temporary Offering in the Renoir Hotel, San Francisco.

I contributed two pieces portraits to this exhibit:

Mesmerizing, 16"x20", 1997, Matthew Felix Sun
Mesmerizing, 16"x20", Oil on Canvas, 1997

Bending Nude Profile, 20"x16", 1997, Matthew Felix Sun
Bending Nude Profile, 20"x16", Oil on Canvas, 1997 

Quick facts about the gallery and the exhibit:
150 Frank H. Ogawa Plaza
Oakland, CA 94612

Exhibition Dates: February 26 - March 29, 2013
Preview: Tuesday, February 26 - Friday, March 1
Artists' Reception and Free Art Launch: First Friday, March 1, 6-8pm
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Friday, 10 - 5pm and Saturday 11 - 4pm
Entry: Free

Related posts on Art · 文化 · Kunst:
- "Scapes: Land, Sea and Urban" Juried Exhibition at Pacific Art League, Palo Alto, California
- My Next Show - Prince Street Gallery, Chelsea, New York
- Art Show in the Gallery of Studio Trilogy, San Francisco
- Opening at Artist Xchange Gallery March "Spring Garden" Exhibit

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Naked Audience for Naked Men Exhibit at Leopold Museum, Vienna

Last October, when I visited Leopold Museum in Vienna, I immersed myself with the great Austrian artist Egon Schiele, whose dark paintings covered landscape, abstract, portrait and many nudes of both sexes - intense, twisted, not overtly sensual but elemental (see images below).

DSCN0878 _ Sitzender Männerakt (Selbstdarstellung), 1910, Egon Schiele, Leopold Museum, Wien, 5 October
Sitzender Männerakt (Selbstdarstellung), 1910, Egon Schiele, Leopold Museum, Wien
DSCN0917 _ Drei stehende Frauen (Fragment), 1918, Egon Schiele, Leopold Museum
Drei stehende Frauen (Fragment), 1918, Egon Schiele, Leopold Museum

DSCN0852 _ Leopold Museu, Wien, 5 October
While resting in the Museumquartier, I, along with many other museum goers watched with great curiosity at the installation of a cutout male nude in front of the museum for the next main special exhibit - Naked Men (Nackte Männer), which was programed for the period from 19 October 2012 to 28 January 2013 but was extended to 04 March 2013.  The program description on Leopold Museum's website stated that: 
Previous exhibitions on the theme of nudity have mostly been limited to female nudes. With the presentation “naked men” in the autumn of 2012 the Leopold Museum will be showing a long overdue exhibition on the diverse and changing depictions of naked men from 1800 to the present.

Thanks to loans from all over Europe, the exhibition “naked men” will offer an unprecedented overview of the depiction of male nudes. Starting with the period of Enlightenment in the 18th century, the presentation will focus mainly on the time around 1800, on tendencies of Salon Art, as well as on art around 1900 and after 1945. At the same time, the exhibition will also feature important reference works from ancient Egypt, examples of Greek vase painting and works from the Renaissance. Spanning two centuries, the presentation will show different artistic approaches to the subject, competing ideas of the ideal male model as well as changes in the concept of beauty, body image and values.
It must be a very interesting exhibit but I do not believe that I share the same spirit as the brave nude visitors below, who were not only unafraid of measuring up their bodies to those on canvases, but also able to brave themselves to the winter days in Vienna.

Nackte Männer, Leopold Museum, Wien, 19.10.2012-04.03.2013 (2)

Nackte Männer, Leopold Museum, Wien, 19.10.2012-04.03.2013 (1)

However, as museum visiting experience goes, these men and women made it utterly unforgettable and made this exhibit a much talked-about event.  All power to them, then and who says that the Austrians are square?

DSCN0537 _ Leopold Museum, Wien, 4 October

Related posts on Art · 文化 · Kunst:
- Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele in Wien (Vienna)
- Angelic and Evil - Bunkerei and Palais Augarten in Augarten, Vienna

Label: Austria, Austria and Italy Trip 2012

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Three-Course Cultural Feast - Tetzlaff, Amour and Nijinsky

Last week, I attended three incredible cultural events - two live performances and one cinema, all were very stirring and thought-provoking in their distinctive ways, starting with a relative becalming night at Berkeley's First Congregational Church, on February 12, Tuesday, a solo violin recital by German artist Christian Tetzlaff, under the aegis of  Cal Performances.

Several years ago, I had heard Tetzlaff performing Brahms' Violin Concerto with San Francisco Symphony and was deeply impressed by his austere musicianship and for this recital, he offered something both familiar and more readily accessible, to me, (Bach and Ysaÿe), and something off the beaten track and more challenging (Kurtág and Bartók.  Of these music, I found Kurtág and Bartók most satisfying, perhaps due to the unfamiliarity and my joy of hearing these strange music fresh.  Kurtág's music consisted of strings of short fragments but very eloquent and coherent, and quite lyrical  Tetzlaff's virtuosity of playing these challenging music was extremely impressive, yet, what impressed even more was the stylistic accomplishment he demonstrated for the entire evening, and his seriousness, his unflagging concentration and intensity, though his playing was not without lighthearted humor at the appropriate moments.  He produced beautiful and sweet, and sometimes very unusual tones but these sounds all served a purpose, the coherent statement of the music.  His piano, pianissimo playing would live on forever.

The programed pieces he played were:
  • Eugène Ysaÿe - Sonata for Violin in G minor
  • György Kurtág: "A choice" out of Signs
  • Johann Sebastian Bach - Sonata for Violin in C major
  • Béla Bartók - Sonata for Violin
After the exhilarating but somewhat challenging program (even for some audience), he awarded us with a flashy Paganini 16, which and the lullaby of the “Heartbeat” movement from Bach’s A-Minor Sonata.

As for me, I'll start to listen to Kurtág when I paint.

Christian Tetzlaff plays Bach
Christian Tetzlaff plays Bach

On Friday, I finally made time to see the much talked-about film Amour written and directed by Michael Haneke, who had made many unforgettable films such as Caché, The Piano Teacher, and The White Ribbon.

Amour, a story on love and death, was a beautiful movie, confidently made and very difficult to watch.  It stared at the difficult situation one is bound to face at certain time, unflinchingly, and the result was wrenching but not depressingly so.  We took comfort in the humanity and obvious love the main characters, a cultured old Parisian couple, demonstrated in front us, gesture by gesture, syllable by syllable.

Amour by Michael Haneke
Amour by Michael Haneke

Since the main character was a piano teacher, we had several glimpse of her star pupil, the real-life great pianist, Alexandre Tharaud, who played himself in a very natural way and I kept wondering if this was his life story or not but was reluctant to find out.  One way or another, it wouldn't change the perception of this great movie about love and death in old age.  And if it was not Tharaud's teacher's story, it would be other people's stories. 

Was the movie depressing?  No.  Disturbing?  Yes; but a must-see.

Alexandre Tharaud in Amour
Alexandre Tharaud in Amour

On Sunday, 17th, I dived into one of the most disturbed mind and heart of a great dancer - Vaslav Nijinsky, via the modern ballet by John Neumeier, who had created many modern classics and was touring with his Hamburg Ballet, as part of the regular season program offered by San Francisco Ballet.

I was very grateful to be able to see any full-length ballet created by John Neumeier.  If his ballets were not as pure balletic as those from Imperial Russia, they were unfailingly probing and intense, such as his dark-hued The Little Mermaid presented in San Francisco several seasons before.

The first act of the ballet mostly concentrated on Nijinsky's life and creative experience, with many of his famous roles invoked by various dancers, juxtaposing with important people in his tumultuous relationships.  It was often amusing but somewhat prosaic.  Act two led us into his troubled inner world, with his mind descending to madness while the exterior world was a living hell of World War I.  I found the corps of soldiers and the solo turns of the pathetic Petrushka unbearably moving.  Another great creation was the shadow of Nijinsky (in white brief in the pictures below), whose surreal, insistent and twisted presence put both Nijinsky and the audience on edge.  The hallucination went on and on and I was utterly exhausted and became impatient for it to be over, despite the amazing dance on stage.  The gesture and motif did become repetitive and eventually monotonous.  Perhaps, that was by design?  The music of Chopin, Schumann, Rimsky-Korsakov and Shostakovich were played with thrilling brilliance.

Nijinsky by John Neumeier - Hamburg Ballet in San Francisco 3
Nijinsky by John Neumeier - Hamburg Ballet in San Francisco

Nijinsky by John Neumeier - Hamburg Ballet in San Francisco 2
Nijinsky by John Neumeier - Hamburg Ballet in San Francisco

What an exhaustive week, and what an extraordinary week. 

Related posts on Art · 文化 · Kunst:
- Angelic Voice - Philippe Jaroussky at Hertz Hall, UC Berkeley
- High Romanticism - German Tenor Jonas Kaufmann's Recital in Berkeley
- A Striking Film - "The White Ribbon"
- Rethinking Hans Christian Andersen's "The Little Mermaid"