Friday, August 28, 2009

Stories Behind My Paintings - The Triumph of St. George

Many times, I was asked about how I came to the concept of a painting project and what else influenced my decisions on color palette, composition, etc.

It is often very difficult to summarize the process, the understanding of which can be very helpful to understand a work, therefore I decide to start to write about my works, to help the understanding of my work and process, despite the fact that my paintings don't have multiple layers of meanings and depth of masters.

The first of this series will be about The Triumph of St. George (Oil on Canvas, 48" x 30", Completed in 2003), whose conception was formed during the drumming up of invading Iraq in the late 2002 through early 2003. It has been widely observed that harsh and difficult environments foster artworks of great depth and humanity. I cannot pretend that the St. George painting reached such height, but it is during the period I was most productive and my works were most satisfying.

During the period, I felt very frustrated and angry and helpless, due to the political situation and I started to channel my feelings towards creation. I never doubted the military might of the US therefore I didn't hesitate to predict the adventure a "triumph". Yet, I also foresaw the huge costs inflicted upon the poor Iraqi people, a la Yugoslavia or worse. I imaged the the dead bodies piled up, like the images of The Monolith (Monolitten), Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo. I also imaged the burning oil fields, bombed out buildings, represented by mushroom clouds and iconic Hiroshima Memorial in the background. I tried to faithfully reproduce the smug smile of George W. Bush and in a nod to reality, I recognized that his opponent was a monster itself. I let George stood high on the pile of limb-tree, carrying a flag of Saint George I borrowed from work by Albrecht Dürer, since this war was undeniably injected with certain Christian fervor.

Thus I preserved my private thoughts about the event and commenced my Apocalypse Series of paintings, to commemorate the human miseries.

Durer - Saint George Ref: DUA007 The Paumgärtner Altarpiece: St George (Left Panel) Albrecht Dürer, c.1498-1504

The Monolith (Monolitten), Vigeland Sculpture Park, Oslo

Monday, August 24, 2009

Exhibitions at Contemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco

Sunday, I visited Comtemporary Jewish Museum, San Francisco for the exhibit of Marc Chagall and Artist of the Russian Jewish Theater. It was a fascinating and moving exhibit and one can view endlessly fascinating works by Marc Chagall for the Yiddish theater he associated with, particularly the large-format mural pieces. The last day is September 7, 2009. Catch it while you can!

With delight, I notice the upcoming exhibition about Maurice Sendak is scheduled from September 8, 2009 through January 19, 2010. Accompany a kid or two to the show and you'll win their hearts for ever.

The building itself is very attractive yet weighty. According to the Museum's website, "in 1998, the Contemporary Jewish Museum selected architect Daniel Libeskind to design its new home, which was to include an adaptive reuse of the landmark Jessie Street Power Substation, designed by Willis Polk in 1907." I was particularly taken by the room currently showcasing Jews on Vinyl, with the cathedral ceilings and unsymmetrical diamond-shaped windows, which adorned the sky-wards ceilings like stars, allowing in light and air, and hope.

Related posts on Art · 文化 · Kunst
- Il Ghetto di Venezia and Museo Ebraico (Jewish Museum) in Venice
- Late Night of Jewish Museum in Vienna

"Flame and Citron" and Other War Movies

Summer time, we were usually treated with crappy blockbuster movies. However, this summer is rather different. I just saw an outstanding Danish war-time movie "Flammen & Citronen" which depict the demoralizing effect of war on human kind, particularly on those so called good guys. Watching it was a tense and somber experience but richly rewarding.

The other war-time movies in my radar are "Inglourious Basterds" and "Anonyma - Eine Frau in Berlin (A Woman in Berlin)". Stretching further, we'll have "District 9" which again, shows the effect of war, its absurdity and cruelty and the resilience of men.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Sad Story and an Argument for Buying Living Artists' Works

Today, I read this story in San Francisco Chronicle: "S.F. dealer accused of selling fake Miró prints". According to Chronicle, "Pasquale Iannetti, 69, who runs Pasquale Iannetti Art Galleries Inc. on Sutter Street, was indicted Thursday by a grand jury in San Francisco on charges of wire and mail fraud for allegedly shipping prints that purportedly had been authorized by Miró, the renowned Spanish Catalan painter and sculptor who died in 1983."

It is a sad story. I have visited the Gallery before, for a special exhibit of works by the great German artist Käthe Kollwitz. Apparently impressed by my admiration for Kollwitz, Mr. Iannetti gave me a copy of their beautifully produced catalog, which still sits amongst my treasured artbooks on my shelf. I felt sad for his downfall and felt bad for the collectors who were duped.

Yet, this is a story argues for buying living artists. People should not treat artworks as commodoties. They should buy what they love to see and if they are not experts to tell geniune from fake, then buying artworks they love from living artists would solve the problem more than adquetly.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Exhibit at Artist-Xchange Gallery, San Francisco, September 2009

In September, I'll participate the exhibit at Artist-Xchange Gallery in San Francisco. The six paintings the gallery selected are as below:


The artists' reception is on September 4, 2009, Friday, 7 pm - 10 pm.

The gallery is located at 3169 16th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103. Its telephone number is (415) 864-1490 and its hours are: Monday-Friday: 12 pm - 9 pm; Saturday: 11 am - 9 pm; Sunday: 11 am - 8 pm.

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Art Exhibit at University Health Services

On August 13, Thursday, I visited an art exhibit at the Tang Center of University Health Services (UHS), University of California, Berkeley. The half-day long exhibit showcased the talents of seven UHS staff members - painters, photographer, jeweler, and textile maker. The talent pool of the Cal staff is amazing and it is always gratifying to see people's commitments to their artistic endeavors and the appreciation of these.

I was particularly taken in by the oil paintings of Melissa Martin, who has a very sophisticated way of manipulating layers and webs of paint. Her sense of color is outstanding as well:

Wouldn't it be wonderful if more people dedicate their time to such pursuit?

Friday, August 14, 2009

Alphonse Berber Gallery on Bancroft, Berkeley

The Alphonse Berber Gallery on Bancroft, Berkeley, California is an amazing place which often showcases fantastic works in huge dimensions.

Currently, it has a giant tree split in half by a white wall and both halves were fully occupied by translucent candy-colored pink birds, in all shapes. It was such a joyous work yet at the same time, one expects something not so sweet to happen any time.

It is a wonderful place for Berkeley.


Friday, August 7, 2009

Card Campanile

Card Campanile
Originally uploaded by Matthew Felix Sun
This is a team building project four teammates and I finished in "Project Management Made Simple" workshop at UC Berkeley Extension a few weeks ago.

Our work was not the tallest, but was the most economical and aesthetically pleasing. Therefore, we won.