Tuesday, August 23, 2011




Both Martin and I got our artwork accepted for the annual " MOMA" (Museum of Modern Art) Tabernacle exhibition in Machyntlleth, Wales. "What is art?" A quote by Leo Tolstoy was the basis for the theme and at the awards ceremony the curators told us that Tolstoi answered the question as follows: "Art is not a craft, but the communication of feelings the artist has experienced". Of course it is a statement typical of his time and not a comprehensive explanation of what art really is (something that the curators doid not take a stand for).

Moma Award 2011
Had we been aware we could have found out about the theme a long time ago and so we could have done something specifically for the exhibition, as many certainly do. In retrospect, when one sees the other artwork that was accepted into the exhibition, one tends to ruminate that some other work than the one one submitted might have done better. Well,  c'est la vie. We recieved no price but at least we got in. Nearly 300 works by as many artists were displayed -  a third was rejected by the jury.
This is my contribution,  the collage "Some things should never be forgotten", copyright 2011
Sea and Water symbolize emotions and are often present in my work.
The volcano is quite an obvious symbol of male aggression
and repressed emotions. 

I'll leave the rest to the viewer, but there is more than this in a paradoxical way, 
it's also about a positive experience of masculinity and sexuality.
My collage has been squeezed in a corner ...
many small works were difficult to see because they were hanging too low or too high. 

Otherwise, I think it's nice with big shows and lots of art . 
A stern Welshman behind me ..?
Martin's piece is "The Longing of the Sea",
he has also used the sea as a symbol of emotions.
The background is digital, the figure painted in oil and tempera.
Emotions are a tricky chapter. It is of course one of the broadest themes you can think of as emotions so often are present in the artistic expression. I think people tend to enter work that express very easily identifiable feelings, as they are probably more likely to be chosen than more subtle expressions. In this exhibition, there are quite a few portraits with emotional facial expressions, and bodies in different positions.
Eugene Delacroix, "Freedom leads people", 1813
The expression of emotions of the individual became popular at the beginning of the 19th Century and found its way into the arts - it was the Romantic era. As with all trends, it's one that comes and goes in different forms. In the past, creating a painting took weeks and months (much like Martin's art as he's using  the mischung technique). Expressionism, on the other hand, was the spontaneous expression of emotions using a very direct, fast and strong painting style. It is an art style that was fashionable about a century ago. Although there are always those who want to paint in the expressionist way and do so with panache, whether figurative or abstract, it tends more often to be a case of art therapy. As far as symbolism goes, I am well aware that the meaning of symbols is unfamiliar to most people. Allusions to the sea and water  therefore usually go unnoticed, although an attentive viewer can have an intuitive understanding of them. Symbols can easily become ends in themselves and should only function as the support or structure of a complex content. In my art I would say that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts (the symbols). It is also more than just allegory or metaphor, as I am striving for deeper emotional meaning.

Although the jury intended to take into consideration the feelings that (anecdotally) have been present in the creation of an artwork, even if the content may not be that emotional, I think such feelings are rarely obvious enough so that the jury with confidence will be able to say that "it was emotionally interesting." It requires more time, insight and intuition than many have during the curating of an exhibiton (I myself have acted as curator in the past, so I know what it is like). It is also common that the feeling contents run counter with technical ability as emotional eloquence normally requires a high level of skill. Many of the most acclaimed works were in fact more aesthetically pleasing than emotionally expressive.

As expected, the winning work was an expressive portrait with a strong facial expression. There were some anatomical problems with the hand, possibly as a result of the painting's presumed spontaneity (though I must admit that the hand bothers me). In and of itself an interesting ambivalence was present, and  the emotional expression wasn't too obvious as it was pointing to a complex and perhaps conflicting inner experience that seems to stand outside time and space. The colour scheme is interesting and suggests internal conflict as well. We noticed that most of the artwork were drab, and we think it has more to do with Wales than with a desired artistic expression.
Marcelle Hanselaar (photo MOMA )
Second prize went to another portrait in the Renaissance style that the judges felt had a mysterious "Mona Lisa Smile". This to me starts to sound like clichés. I also think that the idea of ​​painting the facial details neatly but the clothes in a sloppy and badly painted way is a frequently seen style, a way that I do not think is particularly effective. The picture feels a little "derivative" as Martin and I always say.
Serena Jones (photo MOMA )
As the third prize, I would probably have chosen something other than an image that looked as if it was drawn back in the 1930's ... The feeling seems to be more present in the expressive charcoal drawing than in the content. No, no great art in this sketch, no.
Jill Cope (photo MOMA )
It's nice that the children are encouraged to be creative within the framework of a serious gallery. I have absolutely no experience in children's art but it was still pretty obvious that some children had received guidance from parents or other adults. Another problem is that what looks interesting in the adults' eyes often has come about accidentally as children do not see the world the same way as adults do, and generally create in a lot more subconscious way. 
Ayesha Woodward (photo MOMA )
In this work by a 9-year-old the decorative foreground feels like a random phenomenon. Martin and I thought an atmospheric picture of a rainy day in Wales by a 14-year-old seemed genuine and spontaneous. 

An additional prize will be offered and it is the visitors' choice. I nominated an installation of a bra with ambivalent text that I thought was quite handsome and a less obvious choice. In the class under 18 year olds.Martin and I both nominated the same picture by the 14-year old above.

On the whole, I must say that the artistic level was quite high and not bad for a provincial gallery, and once more I see that people around here are very artistically talented. It's all of us poor wretches who want to make art but can not afford to live anywhere else. (Perhaps I should point out that Martin has not always been this poor, on the contrary. But to do that you really enjoy is not always lucrative, we do need more than just good will). However, I felt that I once again ended up in a competitive stance and it felt a bit uncomfortable. It is easy to slip into negative thoughts about how much better one should be or whether one should really carry on with the task of being an artist.

Finally, I must comment on the nibbles that galleries often offer here in the UK. There is always wine. At lunch time, it is often a sandwich and chips. Unfortunately, it's always the classics:, i.e. cheese with raw onions (ugh), egg and cucumber, tuna and various forms of meat that we don't eat. Why salad is added to the meat and not the vegetarian options is an insoluble mystery ... 

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