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If you’re like me, you think you know what “facet” means, and you like its associations because it reminds you of “fecit,” which means somebody “made” something in Latin; but you Google it anyway and fall in love with the … Continue reading

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A Toil of Two Tongues

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/10/17/where-noise-is-canceled-and-air-is-free/)

An aristo catwalk posture could be coached into a cack-handed nonentity, Siddhartha Huff surmised. Dialect was a horse of a different color. Sidd knew he must stifle Claw Hammer’s classless koine — the drawling pidgin of dinghy-spawn pullulating like maggots beyond the gates. Otherwise, the kid would never pass for highbrow amongst the real McCoy.

The way forward was to go for broke. Sidd would saturate the hapless ding with fossilized audio of a Jacob Rees-Mogg speech excavated from silicon hacked out of meso-diluvian flotsam calcified in substrate. Acquiring a semblance of the sculpted consonance and vocalic resonance of Old High Dulcet just might enable Claw Hammer to feign distinction when the time came.

Taking the Dingo out of the ding was akin to taking the monkey out of the simian — a steep climb — but not beyond the powers of a Rhipidistian bent on transitioning to Mamasutra. “By thunder!” Sidd murmured to himself. “Siddhartha Huff-bin-Chuck is a creature bred for challenge!”

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Fabulousness and Traps

Beauford Delaney’s portrait of James Baldwin (circa 1945-50), first the artist’s protégé, then his protector — and a frequent subject. Credit… Estate of Beauford Delaney and Derek L. Spratley; Michael Rosenfeld Gallery LLC.

Here’s a vibrant pulverization of Smith-song around the paintings of Beauford Delaney (1901-1979):

Robust impasto surfaces… startling colors… visionary buzz… new kind of painterly fabulousness… sturdy realism overloaded with color… something of an Egyptian immobility… crisis-crossing strokes [sic: Is “criss-crossing” intended?]… soft expanse of puddling blobs… pulverized in different color combinations.

(Roberta Smith, “Beauford Delaney: Portraits Glowing With Inner Light,” NYTimes, 10-14-21)
“June 1977,” 2021. Credit… Courtesy of Mickalene Thomas.

Angela Flournoy’s comment about subject matter being a trap says something useful to me, I believe.

Subject matter can be a trap; wanting to focus on what an artwork represents at the expense of how it was created obscures what particular, idiosyncratic creative epiphanies brought the work into being.

(Angela Flournoy, “Mickalene Thomas Is Reinventing Nudes,” NYTimes, 10-13-21)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Where Noise Is Canceled and Air Is Free

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/10/10/know-your-place-said-the-boot-to-the-sock/)

Within the close confines of Isthmia, what shielded the better sort from the dusky effluvia and clangor of the inducèdly frugal, besides walls, was a massive noise-whitening system. These two feats of segregation and filtration were tributes to the ingenuity of quality in pursuit of purity even in the moribund era of man time on a mote in God’s eye.

Siddhartha Huff maintained a pied-à-terre in The Meadows of Shalimar Suites crowning Lanvin Prospect. It served him for the odd evening when business (or pleasure) kept him in the city center. It was in this residence that Sidd sequestered Claw Hammer, thus buffering his impressionable charge from the bawling strains of street jamborees, the fetor of scruffy pheromones, and the cheap cologne of corner-lounging Freeholies.

Sidd knew he must, in short order, buff Claw’s rough demeanor to a reasonable polish if his plan to assume his own true identity could succeed. Nothing less would qualify the torpid malapert to protagonize the charade meant to be played out in the impending Lunation Gala.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Jenny Saville: ‘Humans Are Just Drawn to Eyes’

Jenny Saville in front of her drawing “Pietà 1,” in the Museo dell’Opera del Duomo, in Florence. Credit… Jenny Saville/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Clara Vannucci for The New York Times.

Jenny Saville speaks in all the quotes here.

Italy is a country of figuration, so I feel very at home here — but it was intimidating. I got through by really looking at Michelangelo… I started to do direct studies of the sculpture, and I saw how the internal torque of the bodies worked… He uses all the possible elements of a body, whether it’s the tilt of a head, the way a hand rests on somebody else’s flesh, the way material folds — all of them are used to heighten emotion, without sentimentality.

Saville’s “Byzantium” (2018)Credit…Jenny Saville/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Clara Vannucci for The New York Times.

I look at artists like Twombly, Pollock, Rothko and de Kooning — all the New York School that used paint as a poetic language in itself — and try to channel some of those things into figurative work. I love to start by dripping a lot of acrylic, and you see through the drips, so you get this kind of inner light. I think all the time about how to use this language of paint to get as much emotion as I can.

“The moment I put eyes on something, it’s just seems that the world coalesces in the painting,” said Saville of her recent portraits, “because humans are just drawn to eyes. Credit…Jenny Saville/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York; Clara Vannucci for The New York Times.

I love making the big heads because it’s a chance to be very abstract. The moment I put eyes on something, it seems that the world coalesces in the painting, because humans are just drawn to eyes. Most artists start with a figurative structure and then abstract from there, but I start by creating abstract areas of paint as the foundation, and then build figuration on top and let the abstraction show through in places — the same way Michelangelo would build a form from rough marble.

(Laura Rysman, “Jenny Saville’s Nudes Bring Renaissance Masters Down to Earth,” NYTimes, 10-8-21)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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‘Know Your Place,’ Said the Boot to the Sock

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/10/03/claw-hammer/)

Claw Hammer studied a handful of prehistoric photographs preserved in the Museum of Ancient Technology. “Why do barbs ape-grin in the pografs?”

Siddhartha Huff processed the uppity punk’s patois for a moment. “Where did you learn about apes?” he said, more to himself than to Claw. “Apes did not grin. Maybe that’s why they’re extinct,” he retorted aimlessly. “Well, barbs did, and they are, too,” parried Claw.

The allusion to barbarians — the dead races — startled Sidd. The Pandemiad, the ancient chronicle of the horrors that had decimated bipedalism, was heavily redacted by the governor. Unvarnished history would only stoke restiveness in the lumpenproletariat. Isthmia’s origin story was garlanded evangelically with doughty ranchers and perky frontier wives conjured from the epistemic hubris pulpits of the Alamocracy.

Sidd learned belatedly that Claw Hammer was a black bean — i.e., surreptitious member — of a ding gang roaming the warrens that styled itself the Freeholies. The low-born pack of fact freaks scavenged scraps of truth from the steaming silicon dumps and pieced them into haphazard realities in their noisome gaming dens.

Sidd enjoined Claw Hammer from further contact with the Freeholies. “Whore don’t gotta love it, just gotta do it,” he thundered in dingo over Claw’s protestations. Dressed down in his own dialect, the ding burst into tears and returned a sneer of acquiescence. The matter was (it seemed) closed.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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‘A Gloriously Unsatisfied Painter’

Sarah Cain, “My favorite season is the fall of the patriarchy,” at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C. Credit… Rob Shelley.

Brobdingnagian ocular hubbub. Colossus of hue and scream. Tympanic boom. These phrases leapt to mind — of course they did! — as I eyed Sarah Cain’s work. Confession though: Cain owns me for rejecting the term “murals” in favor of “wall paintings.” Call an abattoir a slaughter house is the principle I chase.

Installation view, “Opener 33: Sarah Cain—Enter the Center,” at the Tang Teaching Museum and Art Gallery at Skidmore College, through Jan. 2. Credit…Arthur Evans.

Cain’s paintings trouble received ideas of what serious art looks like. Almost everything about them — their speed, their brashness, their noodling compositions, their splashes and spray-painted scribbles, their tacky accouterments, their sense of absurdity — seems to undermine the gravitas that large-scale painting traditionally projects.

“Falling For You” (2021), acrylic, oil pastel, bra, beads and thread on canvas at Broadway Gallery. Credit…Sarah Cain and Broadway.

“She’s a gloriously unsatisfied painter,” says Ian Berry, director of the Tang and curator of Cain’s exhibition there.

(Jonathan Griffin, “With Big, Bold Art, Sarah Cain Redefines Seriousness in Painting,” NYTimes, 9-30-21)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Claw Hammer

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/09/28/ballin-the-jack/)

When Siddhartha Huff’s adopted ding learned he was suspended from the organ donor pool, the saucy rogue promptly gave himself a name: Claw Hammer. Sidd put Claw Hammer on a regimen of slenderizing drugs and commenced tutoring the tatterdemalion for the role he would play. The game was on.

Sidd adjudged the grubby urchin capable of fitting into the intricate mauve jumpsuit with ochre piping he reserved for apex state occasions. The trick would be training the nugatory lump to affect a strut passably intrinsic to the garb. The swagger and mince at a duchy ball were ecstasy grade. A ding-born guttersnipe raised in a cookie-cutter flat with tatty curtains was dismally unsuited by birth and breeding to walk importantly.

Sidd’s ruse, however, required only that he pass Claw Hammer off as himself for a strategic interval. The task was to enable the uncouth hobbledehoy to impersonate a personage for the few moments it took to point and shoot the antique “camera” at the posed Posse of Matrons. It would be challenging, but it was paramount to Sidd’s journey to free the Mamasutra in herself from his Rhipidistian chains.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Sean Scully: ‘Backs and Fronts’

Untitled (Seated Figure), 1967 (Credit: Sean Scully).

“Here’s another thing that I don’t agree with,” Scully says to me – the last comment he makes in our conversations for On the Line – “and that’s when Picasso said that art is war. Art is not war. War is war. Art is the enemy of war. Art is love.”

Scully’s seated figure (above) is helpful to me in my own process of trying to interpret face and figure. In the spirit of taking issue with orotund pronouncements that could mean anything, I go one further than Mr. Scully: Art is not love. Art is art.

Here’s the painting that “changed the course of art.”

Backs and Fronts, 1981 (Credit: Sean Scully)

(Kelly Grovier, “Backs and Fronts: The painting that changed the course of art,” bbc.com, 9-28-21)

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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Ballin’ the Jack

(Continued from https://ethicaldative.com/2021/09/21/its-not-over-until-its-celebrated/)

On the runways of the Hall of Fenestration slenderness was next to godliness. The frescos of the Gilt Tabernacle of Mar-a-Gogo depict Museolini, god of the catwalk, being draped in sumptuous crinolines by wingèd benitos whose sheer tights are ruched down the sides. The symbolism is blatant: The fashionist autocracy of Isthmia dispensed influency according to the dictates of dress, reserving outsized wattage for the cream of its waistcoat-and-bustier warriors.

Siddhartha Huff cut a dashing figure even by blueblood standards. His flounced lapels and flair for ironic arm candy had caught the eye of Astrid-bint-Wanda when he was a débutant. The honor he now held as Shootist for the dais pose at the Posse balls was a mark of favor from the doyenne of the Mamasutras. For a rake on the make in the vestibules of sway, the seasonal rites of self-osculation by the duchy glitterati were to die for.

It worked in Sidd’s favor that the mother of all Posse balls, the Lunation Gala, would be non-virtual. Face to face, the lords and lordesses would be at pains to match their avatars and selfie filters; full costume and heavy makeup were therefore de rigueur.

It had not escaped Sidd’s notice that the ragamuffin he had plucked from harvest on the organ farm generally matched his own features and stature. This ostensibly casual yet curiously pointed observation may tip the alert cryptoreader as to where Sidd’s shocking plan was headed.

(c) 2021 JMN — EthicalDative. All rights reserved

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