Art for Modern Architecture (Homage to Ellsworth Kelly) by Marine Hugonnier, 2004-ongoing
French artist Marine Hugonnier took cutouts from the book Line Form Color by the mid-century artist Ellsworth Kelly and made these newspaper collages. According to the page where I found these “Art for Modern Architecture investigates the role of the image, its abilities and its limitations and reverses the process by obstructing the press images on the front page of a week’s worth of newspapers.” I mean sure, maybe. I’m not really one to delve into the academic rhetoric of contemporary art. But I do enjoy the outcome. Visually, it’s an interesting juxtaposition of form and context. And it would actually be cool if a major newspaper did this for real. On the one hand it might look like censorship but on the other, I wonder if it could provide a bit of buffer from hasty conclusions.
Sculpture #12, Fede Saenz
Sculpture #11, Fede Saenz
Sculpture #14, Fede Saenz
Sculpture #10, Fede Saenz
I first bookmarked artist Federico Saenz because I liked his pink-infused abstract paintings. And then I saw that he also makes these cool geometric sculptures. If I was in a position to buy one or the other, I’d be torn. I’m a sucker for the right doses of pink.
Network Object 1
Network Object 2
Eric Frommelt is a Los Angeles based designer and illustrator who creates very meticulous graphic posters inspired by data and technology: “My work grew out of a desire to show how beautiful data, networks, and information could be represented in the abstract.” He executes this idea of non-literal infographics exceptionally well. I’ve gotten so used to outputting my own graphics via code that sometimes I have to stop and marvel at other people like Eric who can manipulate so many tiny elements by hand. I get overwhelmed by having to make so many little decisions for each placement and colour but in his work I get a real sense of deliberateness and enjoyment from the process.
I grew up with a sewing machine in the house. My mom taught herself how to sew at a very young age and became very skilled at just about any type of garment. Probably half of our family closet was custom-made — everything from bathing suits to fur winter coats. Following her example, I sewed a few outfits for my dolls but beyond that never managed to produce anything wearable in real size. Alas, I don’t make my own wardrobe. But my affinity for fabrics and threads persisted nonetheless and these days I will sew anything that has a straight edge — pillow cases, totes, curtains and, occasionally, quilts!
I didn’t actually know much about quilts until only a few years ago. Nobody in my family made them and their traditional aesthetic was never that attractive to me. But I gave them a closer look once I discovered that I have a slight obsessive-compulsive tendency for assembling big things from small pieces. After doing some research to see if there were any new modern trends in quilting I came upon Japanese textile artist Yoshiko Jinzenji and her work totally transformed my mindset about what quilting can be. I was instantly inspired and embarked on my first quilt back in 2008. It was lots of fun but also lots of work. I wasn’t sure how soon I would want to do another one.
Last summer I finally got the itch again and made two quilts at once! But this time I took a different approach. To be honest, I’m not so much interested in the patchwork aspect of a traditional quilt (which some might argue is the whole point!). Perhaps the most important part that was revealed to me in Jinzenji’s work was that fabric can be as much of a creative surface as paper or an oil canvas. Duh!
So for these quilts, I wrote a couple of geometric algorithms to generate the designs and then used Spoonflower to get them printed on large pieces of cotton. (Unfortunately one of the colours was too light and didn’t come out but thankfully the designs still worked overall). Then came the quilting — 5mm apart — the most labour-intensive part of the process! With my first quilt I didn’t go for such frequency but I kept seeing it in Yoshiko’s work and wanted to try it. All I can say is that once the quilting was done, it took me another six months to attach the binding, haha. The final result is a rather stiff and heavy panel which works best as a wall-hanging or a mat, not so much as a sleeping cover. I’m quite pleased with the outcome. It’s confirmed to me once again that I like working with fabric and hope to continue using it in my future projects.
P-61, “geometric hints”, plotter drawing ink on paper, 50cm x 50cm, 1970
Bild 12/366, Tempera/Leinwand, 1966, 73cm x 92cm
P-18, “random walk”, plotter drawing ink on paper, 50cm x 50cm, 1969
P-196/B, Acrylic on canvas, 1977, 130 cm x 130 cm
P-10, “random walk”, plotter drawing ink on paper, 50cm x 35cm, 1969
I’m not sure if this blog is starting to show it yet but you might notice soon enough that I gravitate towards black and white quite a bit. Not that I don’t like color, I do, but black and white will always be my first love. Many of my initial sketches or renderings are void of color.
It’s no surprise then that these paintings and drawings by Manfred Mohr made it into my folder of favorites. Mohr is considered a pioneer of digital art. He programmed his first computer drawings in 1969 and has been creating with the machine ever since. His body of work is well documented on his site where you will notice that he’s been working with color the last decade or so. But I remain partial to his earlier decades, even before the computer. I especially like the very subtle geometry and the abundant negative space in his egg tempera paintings.
I few years ago I was browsing in the shop of the now-closed Function 13 gallery in Kensington Market. It’s really too bad that the gallery couldn’t survive as it was the only spot in Toronto that kept its pulse on the small and emergent digital art scene. If you were a generative artist, this was the gallery that would get what you’re doing. I’m not sure what the alternative is right now..
But anyway, as I was browsing, I randomly picked up this book ‘Code Drawings’ that was filled with very elaborate and dynamic black and white ‘generative sketches’. Or that’s what I assumed at first, only to discover that the sketches were actually hand-made drawings that adhered to a set of rules defined by artist Son Vo:
The project directly references the work of Sol LeWitt who created a his well-known series of Wall Drawings based on a variation of loose guidelines and diagrams. I just love the fact that a single line of instruction becomes the seed for 200 unique and beautiful drawings. That’s really the crux of what attracts me to generative art so much — the possibility of creating great complexity with very simple input. Granted, I like to use the computer to speed up the process. And yet, as these drawings remind us, it’s certainly not a prerequisite for engaging with the same ideas.
I’ve never gotten into origami as a hobby or anything but it never fails to catch my eye whenever I happen across it. It’s actually rather odd that’s it’s not an active interest of mine as it’s got so many properties I love — paper, pattern, geometry, a puzzle-like sensibility — and yet my hands remain apathetic. It’s not an art for impatient fingers. I especially came to appreciate this after watching the documentary Between the Folds. If you want to know how far a single piece of paper can go, it’s a must-see. Truly though, what I like most about origami are the diagrams, like the series above by paper folder Francesco Guarnieri. there’s just something about the web of those red and black lines that is infinitely delightful to my eye.
Composition II, serigraph, c 1970 (source)
Cassiopée II NB, acrylic on canvas, 1958 (source)
Untitled composition, (source)
For whatever reason Op art never featured prominently in my art history classes. If you did a pop quiz on me now, I might recognize a few slides but I wouldn’t recall a single name associated with the genre. I don’t know if my teachers didn’t like it or simply didn’t have the time but somehow this movement was always given a mere glance over. Not that I was too intrigued anyway.
The other day though, I discovered Victor Vasarely and while reading his bio realized there was a lot to relate to from my current context of interests in geometry, computing and art. Vasarely began his education in science and medicine, making an abrupt switch into art a few years later. Inevitably, the objective nature of scientific method made its way into his artistic practice where he developed methodical systems for rendering his graphic paintings — “an art programming language that allowed for endless permutations of forms and colours to create individual and unique works” (source). He might be known as the father of Op art, but it would be hard for me to ignore the roots of generative digital art in his work as well.
Oh and his paintings are massive. Next time I’m in the south of France, Fondation Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence would certainly be a worthwhile visit.
Raffia Pile Cloth, Central Africa, 1940-1950 (source)
Raffia Pile Cloth, Central Africa, 1900-1930, (source)
Raffia Pile Cloth, Central Africa, c 1950 (source)
Rafia Pile Cloth, Central Africa, early 20th century (source)
Rafia Pile Cloth, Central Africa, early 20th century (source)
I’m a big fan of ethnic crafts and textiles. Whenever I travel, I always seek out local art offerings at the markets and souvenir shops. There is so much variety in different regions and sub-cultures that it’s an endless source of inspiration. A couple years ago I discovered the Textile Museum of Canada here in Toronto. It’s a tiny gem of a museum that usually gets overlooked next to ROM and the AGO, but it’s actually my favourite place to indulge in cultural voyeurism without getting on a plane.
Last fall I went to their exhibit called Natural Resources, which showcased handmade artifacts from around the world using traditional techniques and natural materials. Amidst the many beautiful pieces, I was most struck by raffia cloth panels made by the Shoowa tribe of the Kuba people. Known as Kasaï velvet (Velours du Kasaï), these panels are intricately woven using raffia palm fibers, which are then clipped to create a tufted surface. The most striking thing about them though are the geometric designs — irregular, spontaneous, abrupt — they completely defy the respect for symmetry and balance found in many traditional crafts. With my generative art brain I automatically imagined as though they were put through some kind of glitch algorithm. In my experience, a manually random design is not easy to create and I commend Shoowa for doing it so well without any software!
See more examples here, here and here.
Too bad that this book is out of print but even a used copy might still be more affordable than an original panel.