holditnow

Is the Interweb making us stupid?

954003870a14ce5ee3e437cce017cd17

All knowledge is two YouTube videos away. You need to fix your garage door opener; there’s a YouTube video for that. How do I install a toilet? There’s a YouTube video for that. What’s the hero’s journey according to Joseph Campbell? YouTube. What’s the difference between an ionic and covalent bond? YouTube, YouTube, YouTube and so on. I say two YouTube videos because not all YouTube videos are created equal, as well you need the second one to confirm the findings of the first one and lastly if you’re like me you have trust issues. Who does this guy think he is explaining the laws of thermal dynamics anyways?

So why with such a rich wealth of knowledge at our fingertips are we becoming so stupid?

91c03a483379c9f5818c4bd26eb58f17

We really don’t have to look any further than the comment section directly underneath our lovely YouTube University. For every drop of insight there’s a sea of ignorance. Everything’s political and no one’s listening to anything that diverts their emotional base. My new pet peeve are the political videos that claim So-and-So DESTROYS So-and-So. The only thing being destroyed here is the value of words. In most cases casual viewers cherry-pick their team’s words and claim instant victory. Discourse is healthy unless it becomes a Garfield without Garfield comic where you remove your opponents ideas from influencing you in anyway. Destroys: the ball hasn’t moved an inch.

GQPRaDO

Both sides of the argument are equally guilty of demonizing the opposing team and the internet is a giant megaphone. How did so many smart people get sucked into such a stupid predicament? This sounds like a textbook example of hell: you’ll  be condemned to a circular argument with a deaf, dumb and blind troll with a bullhorn for eternity. Insert proper cliche here. Indignation has become the designer drug of the 21st century.

3f0c04d974a95d645d05073c0deee637

Maybe the potential of the internet was too good for us and we weren’t meant to have nice things. Maybe we should just stick to Aunt Petunia’s gardening blog and call it a day. Maybe politicians do have our best interests in mind. Maybe internet trolls are really doing God’s work and exposing the flimsiness of our convictions. Maybe brawn over brain is the way to go. Maybe facts don’t really matter. Maybe listening and compromise are antiquated ideals.  Maybe a world without Art is better off. Maybe we get what we deserve. Maybe… but no.

Don’t be stupid.

 

Difference of Opinion

difference-of-opinion

Difference of Opinion 2017

Work in progress; this is a digital re-imagining of a painting I did years ago. Feels kinda relevant at the moment.

Myths and Confetti

myths-and-confetti

Myths and Confetti 2016 

Film Critics: You’re Doing it Wrong

dad1f5a388abea684708d79047976f5e47fb55ae

I wonder how many decisions go into making a movie? A hundred, a thousand, ten thousand, a hundred thousand …..more? Casting alone would present a thousand questions with multiple outcomes. Just to make it a little more complicated; let’s introduce a well established canon with a built in fan-base, but at the same time try to branch out and create something altogether new. Oh ya, and there is also potentially billions of dollars riding on the decisions you make. I think those last few factors may have some influence on the way you go about things. So what do you do?

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

You go out and make Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Rogue One a Star Wars story,……. then you market the crap out of all the decisions you made, then collectively hold your breath and see what the fans think, and then check your receipts, and then … maybe see what the critics are saying. So what are the critics saying? In the case of the two movies mentioned above: the consensus for both of them is that ‘they are both at home in the universes they inhabit with a welcome cast of new characters that create an enjoyable chapter to expand their canons but are not without their flaws’. Highly serviceable to borderline satisfactory. Wow brings a tear to the eye!

rogue-one-chirrut

As of this moment we have yet to create the perfect blockbuster movie that satisfies everyone. The reason being; there are too many specified factions to appease. How do you cater to the hardcore fans and the uninitiated simultaneously? They both require two different things that often run in direct opposition to one another. Now that we reaffirm all our own beliefs and opinions on social media, we can pick and choose the reviews that suit our experiences. If you want a nostalgia based Easter-egg laced review you’ll get it for the nod and wink crowd. If you’re more into the opportunity missed, what I would have done differently review, they’re multiplying like rabbits. If middle of the road, should I spend my money on this is more to your liking than just glance at the overall percentages or box office receipts.

A few things that need to be considered: what do you want to get out of the movie going experience? We all want to be entertained, ideally through our heads and our hearts but how high are our standards? Is anything short of (insert your favourite movie here) passable. Can a movie even come close to the character development and long range storytelling that we are spoiled with in the Golden Age of television? How much ownership do we have to these worlds and why do we take our entertainment so personally?

FANTASTIC BEASTS AND WHERE TO FIND THEM

Everyone’s a critic, myself included. I watched both films discussed and was happy with the results. The kid in me was tapping myself on the shoulder exclaiming “did you see what they did there?” more times than my inner critic poking me in the back saying”did you see what they did there?”.  I will probably get the DVD’s when they come out (because I’m a Philistine that loves dated technology) and watch them over and over high-fiving my inner child the whole time. Mission accomplished.

How’s that for a review?

Alphonse Mucha: The Slav Epic

mucha3

The Oath of Omladina (detail) unfinished 1926

It was a Christmas miracle! Ok maybe not a miracle, but it always seems miraculous when an artist receives funding to realize their artistic vision. This is what happened on Christmas Day 1909 when a wealthy Chicago businessman agreed to fund renown Czech Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha‘s ambitious Slav Epic. Ambitious would be an understatement; the work consists of 20 large scale paintings, some ranging in size of 26 by 20 feet. The series consumed the last decades of his life.

mucha1

The Abolition of Serfdom in Russian 1914

The series depicts the history of the Slav people and serve as a monument to both celebrate them and inspire them. The works have a very cinematic scope with their muted palettes and hints of the mystical and the magical. He employs the tricks he learned throughout his years of developing Art Nouveau but the series never truly veers into this realm.

mucha5

The Celebration of Svantovit 1912

I wasn’t too familiar with the work of Mucha before we stepped foot into the National Gallery in Prague. You are immediately struck by the scale of these works. It appears to be a cast of 1000s. The room is painted a neutral grey and the lighting is low so that even though the works are painted in a muted palette, they pop. These are those rare works that become more rewarding the longer you spend with them.

mucha2

The Tsar Simeon I of Bulgaria 1923

Unfortunately my photos do them no justice, take a look here for a much better survey. If you find yourself in Prague and are tired of the masses on Charles Bridge, Mucha’s Slav Epic is a welcome respite from the madding crowds.

Mystic Landscapes at the AGO

who-knew-it-was-a-triptych

Paul Gauguin: Vision After the Sermon 1888 The Yellow Christ 1889 Christ in the Olive Garden 1889

Who knew these three paintings were originally meant to be a triptych? I certainly didn’t; but now that they’ve been arranged together for the first time (for the exhibition Mystic Landscapes at the Art Gallery of Ontario) since Paul Gauguin painted them , it sure makes sense. The primary colour scheme alone should have been my first clue. The otherworldly theme of the story of Christ’s life as envisioned in French Brittany runs through all three as well as the artist himself appears in all three with him taking the starring role of Christ in 2 out of three. I always found this to be very revealing about Gauguin, it takes some kind of hubris to paint yourself as a martyr. Maybe this is the reason  they never made it to a church to serve as inspiration for the pious. Piety was kind of on the back-burner of Paul Gauguin’s life but I guess  he did like to dip his toe in the mystic. He was definitely a seeker.

My hat’s off to the curators for pulling off this feat (along with another, I’ll get to in a minute). I was most excited to see Vision After the Sermon when it was announced it was coming to Toronto, but had no idea the other two were along for the ride. Now that I’ve seen them as a triptych it’s hard to see them any other way. This is exactly what good curation should do, shed new light on the familiar and re-contextualize art into new and exciting combinations and narratives. Having said that: my biggest criticism with the AGO is some of their exhibition themes can get really stretched and unnecessary. Please let the art speak for itself and don’t put words in its mouth.

contemporary-wall-decals

Vincent Van Gogh Starry Night Over the Rhone 1888

The art not only speaks for itself in Mystic Landscapes but sings. Besides Gauguin you get heavy-hitters like Munch, Whistler and O’Keeffe and lesser known artists like Jansson and Dulac. There is a wonderful room devoted to the work of Claude Monet with fine representations of the various series he embraced over the years. His Waterlilies, Cathedrals, Poplars and Haystacks are all present. Van Gogh’s Starry Night Over the Rhone is given a place of prominence near the end of the show. A personal highlight for me was this Egon Schiele,

554px-egon_schiele_-_landscape_with_ravens_-_google_art_project

Egon Schiele Landscape with Ravens 1911

but the biggest surprise of the show is the inclusion of our own nation’s artists. When it comes to landscapes, mystic or otherwise you have to admit Canada can hold its own. Lawren Harris, Emily Carr and Tom Thomson get to share the walls with Monet and O’Keeffe and rightly so. The curators have positioned our artists at the table with some of Art history’s biggest names and this is an exciting and revelatory prospect. It is one thing to propose this in our own backyard but another to shout to the hills, which will happen when this show ends its run in Toronto and moves to the Cathedral of Impressionism itself The Musée d’Orsay in Paris.

west-wind

Tom Thomson The West Wind 1916-1917

Make your way to the Art Gallery of Ontario to see Mystic Landscapes. Come for the Van Gogh, stay for the Gauguin and revel in our National treasures before the secret gets out and standing in line becomes a way of life.

 

Foolish Expectations

foolish-expectation

Foolish Expectations Digital Image 2016

Fountain Vista

false-expectations

Fountain Vista Digital Image 2016

Blue Expectations

aqua-expectation

Blue Expectations    Digital Image   2016

Double-down Spin Repeat

the-caves-of-gingervitus

Double-Down Spin Repeat    digital Image 2016