Dreams – like Vanessa Dakinsky and Natalie Shau

Vanessa Dakinsky - home pageDream II Natalie Shau MadreNot I have a dream. Not play dreams of Genie. Not sweet dreams are made of this with all of us looking for something. Sour dreams then? Getting closer, already way to close. Nightmare. Wake Up.

Seeing the worst in things. Projecting your own internal horror to the world around you.

A juxtaposition of images could be banal but incites in us panic of the strange, against the stranger, feeling the worst even if that moving biped with a teapot for a head is the sweetest of creatures if you just took the time to get to know him, her, it, whatever…if you could just get past the tea coming out of their spout you might find that even if they are not someone/thing you would invite home then they are still an interesting conversationalist at the very least.

My own dreams involve flight – literal flight and of fancy too – becoming invisible, physically stronger or faster, even occasionally I choose to be a wittier version of myself – or so I imagine in the fevered moments of my sleeping…usually though my dreams are like a sleeping soap not much different to my day routines – occasionally a character from a TV program might show up in one of its scenes and which will feel quite unremarkable at the time and shows clearly I watch far too much TV. I have even had a few bloggers show up in my dreams of late. Really! It might have been you! And again clearly demonstrating that I am spending too many hours reading the diverse ramblings – sorry, articulate observations – of bloggers.

Vanessa Dakinsky Helium

Helium by Vanessa Dakinsky

But if my dreams do drift from the banal and it seems as if I am to encounter creatures or shapes that will frighten and unnerve me, a sense of foreboding, then frankly I am a spoil-sport, I know then that I am dreaming and I wake up. I do not wait around to get a good look at the menacing creature coming toward me, so as to stare them in their predatory eye or even to run and hide that much the better to experience the impending horror all the better to record it in my waking hours with the end to make art of it.

Is that what Vanessa Dakinsky and Natalie Shau do? In the name of their art suffer their dreams so as to make life of them again upon their expectant canvas? Or do those who have dreams they cannot make sense of go into art or music or fiction-writing or some other flight from reality profession whereas those who have prosaic dreams – or worse swear to you that they never dream – go into accountancy or news-reading or grave-digging. You can’t be cursed with a dark imagination and dig graves for a living, right?! And if there are any grave-diggers perchance reading this I am happy for you to give me the heads up and put me straight.

Both these artists were featured this week on My Modern Met…and some of the words used to describe them are predictable enough if also unavoidable – juxtaposing, surrealist and here I am hundreds of words about nightmares in and I have yet to mention Alfred Hitchcock or Lewis Carroll.

If I had to set up a Dakinsky versus Shau showdown because modern media likes that sort of thing then I would say Dakinsky is the more compelling artist, Shau the more compelling nightmarist.

Natalie Shau

Hunter’s Dream – Shau

And that perhaps both should see a therapist. But then that might cure them of their art. But again I’m only an unlicensed pop-psychologist so don’t pay too much heed to me.

Both are new names to me, perhaps they are to you too. I am not going to spend too many more words on them as their art does speak for itself. What a cliché. And one I always use when posting about paintings or photography too. Then I will say that art is subjective and you don’t need me to make up your mind for you and that I will just post up the artworks and be done. That is probably what that ‘WordPress Writing Helper, Copy a Post as an existing template’ is for.

I will then go on to add ‘But then what is the fun in that?! in regard to myself usually giving you some of my thoughts anyway. I have blogged too many posts! But hey sometimes the best comments aren’t always the most original ones. I’ve not said that before – ends blog-post wiping the easy stain of cliché off his hands feeling a little more content with himself.

Pleasant dreams.

Vanessa Dakinsky oil on canvas self

Vanessa Dakinsky – self-portrait

Natalie Shau - Dream II - My Leda

Natalie Shau – My Leda

The Cold War – Sandy Skoglund

A picture speaks a thousand words it is often said. Even if we don’t hear all of them. Some pictures have more to say than others…some have over-much to say – others short, sweet, succinct.

A picture cannot be self-evident then? It can speak but it speaks in multiple tongues.

And in any case self-evident to whom?

Some listeners hear more, experience more than others do.To one a picture may elicit a warm fuzzy feeling of love and empathy; to another it elicits nothing they remaining cool and indifferent to it, yet another may have a visceral dislike to it.

One may be flattened in awe by it but another left feeling only existential ennui…

Each of us ourselves will sometime hear more or less depending on our moods and our current and passing preoccupations. Sometimes to our environment we are as a sponge, other times as marble.

Where we experience the art may also effect how we are affected – the company we are in, or if we are alone. We may respond better in a crowd at a gallery with friends and strangers or by ourselves at home with a paper print or online image.

But what about what we already know of the artist and their art?

Do you find knowing about what the artist thinks about it a help or hindrance? Do you need to find out what the artist says about their work/s first before experiencing it? Or do you prefer to experience it first without that knowledge only seeking out what the artist thinks about it afterwards?

The reason for these musings arise having happened upon a piece on My Modern Met about Sandy Skoglund called Incredibly Elaborate Non-Photoshopped Scenes posted up by one of their bloggers Eugene. The article presents a brief biography about this American artist and sixteen of her works. You can also access many more of her works on her website which includes video too, as well as a much more detailed biography/résumé.

The Cold Wharf - Sandy Skoglund

[Having read this again it seems I have deleted a few lines of text. This was over a year ago and I cannot remember now what I wrote but this is just to acknowledge that and the slight abruptness in the narrative of the next main paragraph!]

[Also when I first wrote this I was under the impression this piece was called ‘The Cold Wharf’ – I must have been very tired! – but have left the musing as it is for this piece was more about my impression of the piece itself rather than any objective reality pertaining to it. And I did later in the piece make reference to the cold war. Clearly it would have been a difference piece had I got my facts correct though!]

Though perhaps it was not that random and perhaps my sub-conscious and its silent hand led me to it above all others. Perhaps.

Like the other images though it was dominated by a palette of two bold colours. For The Cold Wharf these were red and gold. Or red and orange. Or red and yellow. Clearly I am confident that one of the colours is red at least!

The Cold Wharf has a sleeping man surrounded by an army of toy soldiers armed with toy rifles and toy guns. There are toy missiles too. These are many but all unattended. All of this artillery though is aimed toward the sleeping man.

Is he sleeping though or are his eyes just closed in fright, ostrich-style? He is prone on the ground but his hands are over his ears and he appears to have moved his head beneath the telephone table. Taking cover from the toy bullets, from the noise?

Are the violent images arranged against him real or in fact part of his dream, his night-mare?

Or where does this violence originate anyway? With him or with others? Where does his violence end and the world’s violence begin? Is this the violence of his own life – his mind, his home, his neighbours, his neighbourhood. Or the fictional violence of comics and books, computer games and action-movies seeped into his unconscious?

The violence visited from the second-hand daylight of his TV screen? The endless staged killings of crime shows and the common-place tidal wave of violence from news-programmes?

The violence of war and genocide and crime and matter-of-fact accidents.

Or is this a Grimm fairy-tale, the innocent play soldiers become sinister reality and about to turn on their Gulliver?

This image is a staged scene – everything in it I can assume is there for a reason.

Why is the dog there? Lying alongside him, so then the man’s pet and close faithful companion…mirroring his master’s actions, joining him in his doom.

And the telephone and its stand – are they significant, or at least have meaning? The telephone to provide a call for help, the SOS from all the violence. But it is inescapable violence so the telephone is redundant, a sign only of futility…

Do the colours themselves have any meaning – political or religious or other symbolism? Perhaps that depends on when the picture was taken. Red could mean China or the old Soviet Union, communism itself, and the reasonable or unreasonable paranoia thereof?

The gold makes me think of the sun and the red imagery of Japan so perhaps then the Rising Sun…I am assuming the prone man is American or at least Western then if I am considering his enemy to be from the East…he looks Caucasian but it is not that clear. Japan is now a friend of the USA but if this picture was set in the early 1940’s?…but then that telephone is not of that decade, far more modern than that. Perhaps it is a metaphor for the rise of Japanese industry and prosperity and the decline of the USA’s industry and prosperity.

And what of the title The Cold Wharf? Sounds like The Cold War but…

What do its words mean to me? Cold is obvious but the colours feel like a glow of warmth and of a radioactive heat at that, and ominously nuclear than solar.

The word Wharf though does not resonate with me… for now at least …

And what of this picture’s thousand words to you reading this post? You may hear similar words to what I hear but you may well hear something else entirely. You may indeed have no interest at all in what The Cold Wharf has to say.

For some that is the curse of art. For me it is its blessing.

International Photography Awards 2011

Day to Night, Times Square by Stephen Wilkes (USA)

Day to Night, Times Square by Stephen Wilkes (USA) Cat Professional Cityscapes - 3rd Place

IInternational Photography Awards some categoriesn my last post Kirsty Mitchell – photographs from the Garden of England I noted the challenge of a photographer gaining exposure for their work – first getting noticed then drawing the webizen in so that they are doing more than window-shopping the vast virtual glass-face that is the web.

One option available is to submit your work to a competition. Even if you do not succeed in winning a prize there is the added traffic from visitors to the competition-website then seeking out your site if they like your work. You may also get feedback from the competition panel too.

One such prize is the International Photography Awards (IPA). I came upon these awards via an article from August this year on the My Modern Met website. The article explains about the competition then posts some of their favourite photographs. I am going to do exactly the same – and also urge you, if not already familiar, to visit the IPA site.

They are based in Los Angeles, USA and describe their mission ‘to salute the achievements of the world’s finest photographers, to discover new and emerging talent, and to promote the appreciation of photography.’

Their site includes an archive gallery dating back to 2003 where you can explore the work of the winning entrants back to that year plus what they call ‘honourable mention’ galleries for both Professional and non-Professional photographers.

You are able to submit your own work at any time – either online or even – perish the thought! – by post.

In addition to the vindication of winning a prize and the increased exposure and credibility to your work, cash prizes ranging from $5000 to $10000 are awarded too.

The awards are not generic either but divided into numerous categories, too numerous indeed to list here, but to give you a flavour of some, there are awards under the umbrellas of Advertising, Architecture, Editorial, Fine Art, Nature, People and Special (basically anything else not included in the other categories) – which in turn have a diverse selection of sub-categories.

There is no theme or narrative therefore to the photos in this post merely some of my own personal favourites. And personal favourites today, tomorrow I could have chosen a different selection such is the quality and quantity of entrants submitted. Actually there is one unintended theme – trees – this urban-soul is perhaps more rural than he realizes!

I have not at this stage researched any of the photographers featured in this post and am looking forward to later doing so and posting on those that have most impressed me.

Women of History by Peter Lippmann (France) - Cat: Professional Fashion

Women of History by Peter Lippmann (France) - Cat: Professional Fashion - 1st Place

Giraffe IV by Alex Bernasconi (Italy) - Cat: Professional Other

Giraffe IV by Alex Bernasconi (Italy) - Cat: Professional Other - 3rd Place

Expressions of Autumn by John Scanlan (USA) - Cat: Professional Seasons

Expressions of Autumn by John Scanlan (USA) - Cat: Professional Seasons - 2nd Place

dead tree IV by Alex Bernasconi (Italy) - Cat: Professional Trees

dead tree IV by Alex Bernasconi (Italy) - Cat: Professional Trees - 2nd Place

Tales of Tolkein: Walking Ent by Alexander Kitsenko (Ukraine) - Cat: Non-professional Trees

Tales of Tolkein: Walking Ent by Alexander Kitsenko (Ukraine) - Cat: Non-professional Trees - 3rd place

Omar Ortiz – Hyper Realism – more seeing is disbelieving

Omar Ortiz Enfoque 1 Jun 2011

Enfoque 1 June 2011

From the pictures in this post you may think that the man behind them, Omar Ortiz, is a photographer – and you would be forgiven but you would be wrong.

These pictures are in fact oil-paintings. Yes really!

I came upon, well Stumbled Upon, his works from the My Modern Metropolisart website. They, also known as My Modern Met, describe themselves as a place where art enthusiasts and trend-spotters connect over creative ideas. They are USA based and have been going just over three years.

Omar Ortiz - La Espera (Waiting)

La Espera (Waiting)

If you are looking for a website that collects and curates current art from around the globe then this site is well worth a visit. I plan to spend more time on this site and blogging about some of the art on it. This site also encourages you to register so that you can then not only browse its content but be a contributor of content whether of your own photography, video or blog posts.

Omar Ortiz’s work was posted as part of a contributor named Pinar’s blog-post titled Hyper-Realistic Paintings of the Female Form. If you like the pictures featured in my post you should check out Pinar’s post which includes many many more pictures.

Omar Ortiz also has his own WordPress blog. It is written in his native Spanish language but if you do not speak Spanish that is no barrier to understanding and engaging with this site which is predominantly pictorial with many more examples of his hyper-realist art.

Omar Ortiz at work

Photograph of the artist painting a photograph!

Omar Ortiz is Mexican and a relatively young artist born in Guadalajara in 1977. He studied as a Graphic Designer before becoming a full-time painter in the early 2000’s. His main teacher of Art is fellow Mexican Carmen Alarcon who he considers as a mentor. Further biography can be found on his blog-site along with a photograph of him – well at least I think it is a photograph!

Hyper-realism is a very recent genre of art more modern indeed than Modern Art (itself not literally modern covering as it does the period from the 1860’s to 1970’s!) having began in the early 2000’s. Its art resembles high resolution photography – and not just paintings but sculpture too. Omar Ortiz seems to have been there at its start with art posts on his blog dating back to 2001.

Like Pinar I am staggered at his representation of the human hand. Likewise his representation of bones and veins beneath the skin and of hair.

Despite the ‘Wow-factor’ I have some reservations too – is his work as much high-craft as art?

The technical aspects are expert but in trying to recreate so closely a photographic rendering of the human form is the warmth and art compromised?

Omar Ortiz - El Coloso

El Coloso – The Colossus