Saturday, April 30, 2016

One of He Kun's color reduction woodcuts

I don't know the title of this piece - if any readers out there do and/or have more information about this contemporary Chinese artist, please comment below! I found two of He Kun's colorful and playful reduction woodcuts for sale on Amazon of all places. But doing a Google search for the artist I found a website with some information and that features several more impressive reduction woodcuts, most of which feature people or animals in landscapes and make surprising and dramatic use of color.

The sky seems flooded with scattered shards. Perhaps they have broken off of the central landmass, and some have even fallen into the water, and so I fear a bit for the lone swimmer. My eyes rest on him and I am calmed. The swimmer moves in a path parallel to a steer meandering across the field near the water's edge. They have both moved just past the halfway point of the picture plane, and so I feel confident that they know where they are going and will soon arrive at their destination. Assuming they have a destination. The world around them is colorful chaos. The symmetry we perceive is but one perspective, the pockets of serenity are tightly localized. What grandeur in this partnership between the inner life of the human mind and the outward state of the material world.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

"Breeze" by Zhao Yuzhuo

I am merely a footprint. Maybe my impression will last. I could fossilize, wait here for a millennium until some future wanderers with curious minds and open hearts discover me with a sense of wonder and awe. But odds are I will soon dissipate in the wind, never to be seen or heard of again. Either way, this moment is wonderful. Under a canopy of leaves, I watch the black horse graze a ways off, and enjoy the breeze.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

"Michaelmas" by Sybil Andrews

I last wrote about a Sybil Andrews woodcut in 2012, here. All her prints evoke a similar response from me - I hear drumming, feel a fierce and steady wind blowing, and no sentences that come to mind seem to do justice to the image before my eyes. But I can put forth my best effort.

Seize and hurl
First man one, then man two
Back and forth, like a seesaw
Balanced on a cliff
The carts below await, and yet
Simultaneously roll back and forth
In a race to stand still
Seize and hurl
Plunge the fork in, then fling
Into the firey below
Or is it above?
So much vertigo
So much more to go

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

"Mother Love" by Edith Wilkinson

A film came out last year about this little known Provincetown artist titled Packed in a Trunk: The Lost Art of Edith Lake Wilkinson. You can learn all about it and see more examples of the artist's work at this website.

Few specific moments will be remembered. But the quiet feelings of affection and concern will accumulate and keep us warm on the coldest winter nights, like a heavy quilt.

Monday, April 18, 2016

"Floating/Drifting" by Joseph Vorgity

What a joy to discover the work of Joseph Vorgity! He's originally from Philadelphia but now resides in LA. Vorgity has a number of white line woodcuts (including a whole series of male nudes) and other works of fine art for viewing and sale on his website.

A day will come when
He can shed his clothes, step in 

And freely drift off  

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

"Gentle Assault" by Hannah Phelps

Image posted with the permission of the artist. Learn more about Hannah Phelps and her work at her website

At first it seems so serene an image. Pretty pastels, whimsically arranged. My gaze is initially drawn up toward the peaceful green, then down to the equally calm blue. The rocks that emerge from the waters then call my attention, back and forth, back and forth, like two seals playing catch. But what is in between them, I cannot resolve. I stare at the chaotic shards, so wondrous and unpredictable in their movements and reflection of light, and eventually feel a tug of anxiety.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

"Cape Cod Sand Dunes" by Grace Martin Taylor

I've been thinking about making a landscape for almost two years now. Still haven't done it. It is merely a desire, opposed to an impulse. I can neither explain why I want to make one nor say why I'm blocked any time I attempt to realize this desire.

Today I was revisiting work by Grace Martin Taylor and was struck by this image, I suspect because it can help me answer those questions. A lot of woodblock printmakers and some painters in the 1930's made these sort of swoopy landscapes with outlines that seem to describe wind and sound more than solid ground. Most of those, unless they are also grounded by animals or structures in the scene, strike me as too airy to hold my interest.

But this image, for whatever reason, has my attention. There's something subtly bizarre about the use of color, the weight imbalance in the foreground tree, and the scale of the birds. I sort of feel like this image is a siren's song in the far-off distance, slowly drawing me to my doom.