Sunday, February 28, 2010

Commercial Art Seen as Job Guarantor

Situated in the eastern Chinese city Jinan, Shandong Academy of Arts and Crafts saw its commercial art programs attract tens of thousands of applicants. During the drawing, coloring, and painting exams, more than 6,000 applicants crammed together to audition:

Their most popular programs are graphic design, fashion design, computer animation, etc. All of these are seen as job guarantors in China's extremely tight job market.

Sadly, fine arts are less popular.

Saturday, February 27, 2010

If you are asking "is it art?" you are missing the point entirely - R.

My friend, an emerging artist, I'll call this person "R", made a provocative post online recently: "If you are asking 'is it art?' you are missing the point entirely." This has generated a lively dialogue amongst friends and colleagues in this artist's circle.

It received positive responses such as: "I LOVE THIS!"

Not everyone agreed. One of the response was: "Most art and literary critique does."

R responded: "I think good criticism realizes that this is such an irrelevant, anachronistic, naive way of approaching the world and goes beyond 'is it art' to ask what the implications of such a designation mean for the Art discourse, how the piece breaks with/relates/speaks to the Art historical canon, and even why a work has been accused of not being 'Art', etc. These questions are, of course, fairly broad but I think any good artist/critic should ask himself these questions when approaching a work."

More challenge: "Those are good questions for some artists, and def a good list for any critic. but certainly criticism isn't exclusively the objective of art and the best understanding or analysis of it is not always intellectual. art can and should exceed the realm of discourse, intellectualism, and even historical context, though i guess its all inherently connected to those things, whether the artist wants it, or is aware of it, or not."

In summary, R concluded: "I think elements of a work can supersede discourse and intellectualism but, in the end, can and *will* be intellectualized. Personally, I think no art can supersede its historical context because works always mean different things to different peoples of different areas and our perception of a work (which, when theorized about enough, becomes a concept in its own right) is filtered through a historical lens: the original intention and meanings, the original reactions, the original ideologies it supported/contested. I offer for study the Russian Avant-Gardes' (and Russian Revolutionary culture in general from 1915~1920) claims to existing in a suprahistorical reality. The simple fact that they were responding to previous art/political movements dooms them to historicity. And now, of course, we view them in a securely historical reality bounded in the discourse of art/history, not in some kind of transcendent, atemporal mythos. "

Brilliant discourse...

More Flowers?

It must be the spring season. I couldn't believe that I just finished off another flower painting. I've been blogging about flowers, flowers, and flowers - I think I am losing my mind.

After all these, I was ready to take a break from flowers. But, one day, on my way home from subway, I saw two lilies on the roadside, just below the curb. They were still largely intact, except for one or two bent petals, which seemed were melting into the gray pavement. Immediately, a picture conjured up to my mind and I decided to paint it.

Unsatisfied with my memory, I went back to the scene but those two flowers were driven over multiple times and utterly destroyed. Once a local flower shop opened, I rushed in and bought a stem with two blooms. Rapidly, frenetically, I smeared painted on the canvas, and within a week, I finished the project. Now I'm enjoying my painting and my lilies - four blooms now!

Thursday, February 25, 2010

My Flower Paintings on Synchronized Chaos

Synchronized Chaos, a cutural webzine just published a series of my paintings.

Below is the list of the work and the links to the images on my web site ( )

Red Flowers, Oil on Canvas, 16" x 20", 2010


Flowers in Blue Vase, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 18", 2000

Flowers in Blue Vase, II, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 18", 2000

Winter Flowers, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 18", 2008

Gladioli, Oil on Canvas, 24" x 18", 1996

Lotus, Oil on Canvas, 16" x 20", 1997


Magnolia, Oil on Canvas Board, 10" x 14", 1996

As announced earlier, two of these seven paintings (Flowers in Blue Vase and Red Flowers) are going to be on display as part of the
Spring Garden Theme Show at Artist Xchange Gallery, San Francisco in March 2010. The opening reception is on the 5th of March, 7-10 pm.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

ArtSlant Juried Winners for the First Showcase 2010

ArtSlant, an online art community, self-proclaimed "the #1 contemporary art network", hosts online showcases a few times a year. According to ArtSlant, the selections are made based upon the quality of the art work and a review of every artist's profile. Each of its Juried Winners is eligible for its Golden Frame competition, which will take place at the end of our 2010 Showcase series. The final 3 winners will receive exhibitions, cash awards and lots of worldwide exposure.
ArtSlant just announced its first 2010 Showcase winners:
Ting Ting Cheng - Photography
Kirk Crippens
- Photography
Iveta A. Ducakova
- Mixed Media
Katerina Gorokhova
- Painting
Jennifer Joseph
- Sculpture
Jung ji Lee
- Abstract Painting
Kristina Lee
- Abstract Painting
Jarek Puczel
- Painting
Christopher Steadman
- Installation
Hans Zantman
- Drawing
All the winners are highly accomplished artists and their works deserved to be viewed broadly. My personal favorite is Hans Zantman's drawing - his works are virtuosic and full of depth and emotion, through the myriad textured layers.

Hans Zantman
Mindscapes 'Meditations' Series 1, 2006 - 2009
3 x (50 x 70 cm) One work in total
Acrylic/Charcoal on canvas

Follow artists, the second 2020 showcase is open. Pick your best work and battle it out.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Your Photostream as Art

San Francisco Art Museum's current Shanghai exhibit web pages feature many photos of Shanghai from the Flickrs "photostreams" of various contributors.

As I discussed in my previous blog, Artists's Wonderful Tool - has becoming a very powerful tool for artists and art lovers. It simplified artists' burden of maintaining and updating their showcase websites and enable them to reach broader audiences, particularly once they send their selected images to appropriate groups live on the net.

Marketing is essential for artist's success. You might hate it, but you ought to work on it. Don't dismiss it as a less sophisticated. Even museum sees fit to utilize it.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

"Renoir in the 20th Century" - Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Los Angeles County Museum of Art is exhibiting "Renoir in the 20th Century" from February 14 through May 9, 2010.

According to its official website, "Renoir in the 20th Century focuses on the last three decades of Renoir’s career, when, following his rupture with impressionism, he turned to an art that was decorative, classical, and informed by a highly personal interpretation of the Great Tradition. Renoir’s paintings from this period, which have never been studied and shown as such, are often misunderstood as they do not fit comfortably into the history of high modernism. This exhibition is the first monographic study dedicated to Renoir since the comprehensive retrospective of 1985 at the Galeries nationales du Grand Palais in Paris, and the first one ever mounted by the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Offering an unprecedented look at Renoir through the lens of modernism, the exhibition bridges the divide that exists in many people’s minds between art of the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries."

There are nine teaser images on the website. They are fascinating and disquieting.

It is very interesting to see the scope of Renoir's opus. However, it also demonstrated that the popularity of Renoir is not something art world should celebrate heartily. Amongst the nine paintings, Self-Portrait with White Hat, 1910 was a truly interesting piece. It has a deep emotion and a true master piece. Gabrielle with a Rose, 1911 was a study of real beauty, so was The White Pierrot, c. 1901-2 and Woman Playing the Guitar, 1896-97, which though resemble those by Antoine Watteau, lacked the magical sense of the older artist's finer works. Gabrielle and Jean, 1895 falls in this category.

Self-Portrait with White Hat, 1910

Gabrielle with a Rose, 1911

The White Pierrot, c. 1901-2

Woman Playing the Guitar, 1896-97

Gabrielle and Jean, 1895

I'm indifferent to Jean as a Huntsman, 1910 and Dancer with Tambourine, 1909. They are virtuoso pieces but devoid of real meaning. They commends attention with their beauty but not much more.

Jean as a Huntsman, 1910

Dancer with Tambourine, 1909

While the remaining two are impressionist works at their most offensive, particularly Terrace at Cagnes, 1905, which was the harbinger of the mind-numbing, saccharine depictions of superficial delight popular at touristic "art galleries".

The Concert, 1918-19

Terrace at Cagnes, 1905

All said, I would still love to see these works, and hopefully more. Renoir was a great painter and the works assembled here, at least on the banner teaser, do not represent his best efforts.

I always approach blockbuster impressionism exhibitions with trepidation but they often turned out to be great experiences.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

A New Exhibition at Artist Xchange Gallery, San Francisco

Two flower paintings of mine - "Red Flowers" and "Flowers in Blue Vase" and will be included in the Spring Garden Theme Show at Artist Xchange Gallery, San Francisco in March 2010. The opening reception is on the 5th of March, 7-10 pm.

The Artist-Xchange Gallery is located at:
3169 16th St
SF CA 94103
Please join the party!

Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spring Festival (Lunar New Year) Time in Berkeley

February 14 is the beginning of traditional lunar new year celebrated primarily in the Pacific Asian countries. It is commonly referred to as Spring Festival in mainland China. However, in most part of China, it is far from spring. But it sure feels like that spring has arrived in Berkeley, California:

P.S. - Happy Valentine's Day!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Striking Film - "The White Ribbon"

German film, Das weisse Band - Eine deutsche Kindergeschichte (The White Ribbon - a German Children's History) by Michael Haneke has tremendous impact. It told a strange story in a German village on the eve of World War I. It demonstrated the origin and its impact of human brutality on children, and the society fostered them. It is a horrorfying story, without horror movies' gore. Instead, it lays bare the human soul, or the lack of it. In contrast to the hard-hitting story, the images are incredibly beautiful, in black and white. Though it has only two colors and shades in between, it is infinitely superior to the most colorful blockbuster, Avatar.

This movie will be talked about and remembered for generations to come, if our children have not completely sold their souls to iPads.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

William Kentridge Profiled by New Yorker

"New Yorker" profiled South African artist William Kentridge in January. It demonstrated the origin, development and the depth of the great Kentridge. I was most affected by a quote of his:
I have never tried to make illustrations of apartheid, but the drawings and films are certainly spawned by and feed off the brutalized society left in its wake. I am interested in a political art, that is to say an art of ambiguity, contradiction, uncompleted gestures, and certain endings; an art (and a politics) in which optimism is kept in check and nihilism at bay. - William Kentridge

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Lunar New Year Time in Shenyang, China

While planning Lunar New Year celebration at work, I came across a few pictures I took several years ago when I went back to Shenyang, China for Spring Festival, a.k.a. (Chinese) Lunar New Year. It was in deep winter and very cold but it was great fun. It was the first time I'd seen snow since I moved to California.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Art Students at UC Berkeley Spoke Up

Drastic funding cut and fee increase at University of California triggered a lot of emotions and also generated a surge of pertinent artworks. Below are a few new murals painted inside the Art Practice Department of University of California, Berkeley:

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Drawing at Cal (Life Drawing Group) at Kroeber Hall

Life Drawing Group at University California Berkeley is attracting more and more people for its Friday night / Saturday morning life drawing sessions. These sessions employ nude models from professional group and they pose for ten 2 minutes, four 5 minutes, two 10 minutes and three to four twenty minutes. All the models I encountered were very professional and inspiring.

Below are a few I did today:

For my complete output, please visit: