Tag Archives: painting

The Hobbyist

Hands Up

I don’t mind when celebrities later on in their career fancy themselves as artists and try to take up painting or photography. What gets to me is when they rely more on their celebrity status and the art they create and sell is clearly BS. I remember Richard Grieco, an actor who was famous in the 80s, had an art show with works clearly inspired if not poor copies of Pollock’s work. When asked about Pollock, he denied ever being inspired by him. Ugh. What a hack! Shows like these with garbage art amount to nothing more than expensive autograph sales.

Now back to 2016, there’s a story about a Korean singer-turned-artist who was charged with fraud. Cho Youngnam was “indicted of fraudulently selling artwork with his signature on it after having other people create most of the work and “doing only a small portion himself.” He was accused of paying a man surnamed Song to paint 21 pieces from 2011 to 2015, 17 of which he sold for a total of 153 million won ($126,000).

Cho claimed that it was common in the art world to have artists hire assistants to create most of the work. Initially, the court found that it was fraudulent for Cho not to divulge that his paintings were mostly done by his assistant. But then a higher court reversed the decision and proclaimed that buyers don’t need to know that the works were made with the assistance of another person, and the fact that there was an assistant was not an essential information in the sale.

A public plea session was held and it’s upsetting to hear Cho’s side argue that it’s customary for artists to have assistants do most of the work. For one, it’s not common. Second, their argument showed a lack of knowledge of art history or perhaps relied on the general public’s lack of knowledge of art history.

They cited artist Marcel Duchamp’s ‘Fountain’ which was a simple store-bought urinal. The only thing the artist contributed was it’s positioning and the fact that Duchamp signed it. Duchamp was a pioneer of the Dada movement which used found objects in creating art. It was no secret that he was using objects he didn’t manufacture himself. Instead, he manipulated them and gave them new forms. ‘Fountain’ was created as a form of mockery of the Society of Independent Artist’s rule which accepted all works of art as long as the artist paid a fee. And honestly, looking at the number of pay-to-play galleries in Seoul. “Fountain” would serve as a biting critic of how the art world is, particularly in deciding who gets to have a show or not.

Cho was not making any statement regarding the material nor the process of his work. The fact that 90% of the work was done by a more skilled assistant was not part the work’s story. If Duchamp acted like Cho, Duchamp would have pretended to have moulded the urinal himself. It was a ridiculous comparison. If Cho wants to position himself as someone who thinks up concepts and hires other artists to fulfill his vision, he could very well have done that. Doris Salcedo is a famous installation artist who uses furniture. She famously stacked hundreds of chairs in an alley in her piece ‘Istanbul.’ She didn’t build all of the furniture herself, nor did she stack all of the chairs by her lonesome. Cho could’ve started out by doing the same. Instead, he marketed himself as a singer who found he had talent painting. He didn’t market himself as a singer who had ideas for paintings other more talented people could paint.

I grant that artists will have assistants and apprentices. One of my favorite sculptors is Camille Claudel, who was the student, mistress, and assistant to Rodin. Some may speculate that some of Rodin’s famous works have Claudel’s hand in them, but it is undeniable that even before Caludel, Rodin was already a known genius. Also, both artists shone as separate great artists, though Rodin’s shadow loomed large over Claudel. Cho is no Rodin. He is a rich singer who found a hobby.

I haven’t read the book in the article, Aesthetics Scandal, but I want to look at the pull quote, “The manner of conduct that the Korean art world showed during the process was regrettable. They provided the wrong information to the judiciaries for the first hearing. Saying that physical execution is crucial to art, that authorship lies in the skills of the execution, that fine art does not use assistants, that one is only allowed to use an assistant when the process of the work takes the theme as a meta experiment […] All pieces of wrong information that stemmed from a lack of understanding of contemporary art were used as evidence for the first court’s ruling. The art world is in need of self-reflection and introspection.”

I agree, there is so much nuance to art that it is unwise to say make sweeping rules regarding authorship. However, when it comes to law, defining fraud is much clearer. In Canada, “Every one who, by deceit, falsehood or other fraudulent means, whether or not it is a false pretence… defrauds the public or any person, whether ascertained or not, of any property, money or valuable security or any service” commits fraud. How were the pieces sold? What was Cho’s compelling story regarding finding a new passion in visual art? Did he say he discovered he had a knack for painting of did he say he had a knack for coming up with ideas for his assistant to paint? Isn’t this just a visual arts version of Millie Vanilli? Someone else sang and recorded the songs, while two guys lip-synced and danced to them. For Cho, someone else did most of the hard work, while he painted a few corners and acted like an artist.

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Wrong!

Kuntoy

The most vulgar-sounding brand for a toy ever. “Buster cube” doesn’t help either. I wonder if no English speaker in the company ever pointed this out.

My wife and I went to a local toy convention called the ‘Kidult Expo.’ It was interesting, a little something different to do on a Saturday. But compared to North American counterparts, it was quite lackluster. There were many things on display, but most of the stuff that’s for sale are mostly items that are already available out in stores… and in Korea’s case, bookstores and department stores. I gave my wife fifty dollars. We were both to spend fifty dollars each on items that will probably just take up space in our tiny apartment. We left the convention with no money spent.

I don’t know what it is. Perhaps it’s cultural. We went to a comic convention in Winnipeg a couple of years ago, and that convention beats out the convention last weekend in terms of the amount and variety of commerce as well as excitement. I don’t think the organizers or even some of the businesses managing the booths know how to properly run a fun convention. I even saw a booth for life insurance, facial treatment, and credit cards. And amazingly, people were checking them out.

Downstairs from the toy convention is a comic book convention running at the same time. These are mostly kids making and marketing their own comic books, posters, and other paraphernalia. It’s more “creative,” and there are more opportunities to see products not sold anywhere else. But there’s a distinct high school feel to the whole thing, and I definitely could feel my age. Also, the whole manga aesthetic is a blur to me. The characters all start to look the same regardless if it’s a Korean or Japanese artist.

Taekwon_V

This is probably the most interesting thing in the convention for me. I should start buying cheap art and putting robots in them.

SpiderMan

The saddest battle scenario ever

Cosplay

I’m out. I don’t recognize anyone here.

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On Ancient Cases of Fellatio

Nelson_Shanks

Love the talent but hate the person, that’s exactly how I feel about Nelson Shanks. In a world where people make art careers without even knowing how to draw accurately, he maintains the (arguably) unfashionable tradition of academic painting. Just looking at his Website, it is amazing that such a talent still lives and breathes and creates magnificent work. It is like the work of a man taken out of the Renaissance; wonderful and beautiful paintings. The man has more talent that many artists could ever hope to have.

This is why this whole business with the Bill Clinton is all the more disappointing. In an interview with the Philadelphia Daily, he reveals that he’s hidden references to Monica Lewinsky in Bill Clinton’s portrait which was destined to be hung at the National Portrait Gallery. He said that he found the former President’s lie offensive and that the affair was a shadow to the Clinton presidency. He was quoted saying that the 42nd President was “the most famous liar of all time.”

clinton_shanks

How obnoxious is that?

Now, I enjoy putting hidden messages and allusions not just in my work but also in the works I see and follow. But Shanks just put his own personal politics in what is meant to be an apolitical peace, lied about it during the process, and missed the irony throughout the whole thing. And what was so unforgivable; the former President’s extramarital affair, something which is a personal matter that his family appears to have moved beyond from? The hidden “humor” is crass, misplaced, and really should not be brought up now since everyone has already moved past it. Poor Monica Lewinsky deserves a life past her youthful indiscretions.

Regarding shadows to someone’s presidency, I think the big shadow in the Clinton presidency is their relationship with the banks and how they deregulated them. It is an overbearing cloud that still haunts the world to this day.  And as for lies, I think the biggest lies are the ones that cause the most lives. George Bush and Dick Cheney got American into an unnecessary war. It cost thousands of military and civilian casualties and created a quagmire which Barrack Obama perpetuates.  How’s that for a shadow over someone’s presidency?

The shadow of that dress is not that overwhelming in comparison.

A part of me thinks the whole thing is just a cry for attention. I wonder if setting up a dress to cast shadow during the painting process even truly happened. Shanks claims the Clintons have been trying to get the portrait taken down from the National Portrait Gallery, but representatives from the gallery deny this and the Clintons apparently couldn’t care less. If this was a cry for attention, it really is quite sad because the man is amazingly talented and shouldn’t need to court the raving right wing in order to get attention.

I don’t mind politics in art. I think it’s the artist’s job to tell truths in their work. And should it be in the realm of politics, then so be it. But harping at the Clintons regarding an old scandal just seems petty and ridiculous. And in the end, what message is the artist truly trying to say? I think it speaks more about the artist’s narrow minded politics than anything else.

I don’t know, maybe it’s just my progressive leanings, but I don’t think conservatives make for good messengers in art. I haven’t seen any good examples. There are some good technical artists out there; but most of the time, the work just comes off looking bizarre, hateful, hypocritical, and deeply misinformed.

one_nation_under_God_blasphemy

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Perils of French Realism

nude

After years of holding on to my old iPhone 4, I finally upgraded to an iPhone 6. I had the option to get the iPhone 6S but found it a little too big to be called a phone. It seemed more like a tablet and I feel like the bigger a phone gets, the more unwieldy it is, and the likelier I am to drop it.

I’m quite happy with the upgrade. It’s big enough to be able to read pdfs of magazines and comic books. I was quite an avid comic reader when I was younger, and this might get me back to reading graphic novels again. The screen is gorgeous, and pictures and artwork look great on it.

Unfortunately, last Friday, I was admiring the phone and testing it out on the bus. I happen to be looking at some historic paintings to set as my wallpaper, browsing through masterpieces with heavy contrasts, works by Rubens, Rembrandt, Caravaggio, then BOOM!… Gustave Courbet. For the uninitiated, Courbet was a French realist, most known for a particularly unorthodox and intimate portrait of Joanna Hifferman entitled, L’Origine du Monde. I will let you find that painting yourself.

Now stumbling on the masterpiece wouldn’t be so bad in itself. Unfortunately, a lady standing next to me saw the image as quickly as it appeared on my phone. Our eyes met for a moment by the reflection on the window. And as innocent an accident as it was, I felt as if I was caught committing a crime. She looked away, and I quickly put the phone in my coat pocket. That’s enough art browsing for now. What am I to do? I can’t explain myself to a stranger. That would make me appear more guilty. Of course, quickly hiding my phone makes me look guilty as well.

Two stops later, she gets off. I just gave that woman a story to tell her friends.

 

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