Friday, 25 September 2009

Jenny Saville

Jenny Saville is a British artist known for her paintings of naked obese women. She confronts and challenges notions of beauty and mocks the conventional stereotypes of how a woman is traditionally thought of (of course these are only some of her themes). She forces one to question the societal obsession with the idealized image of females, mainly that she must be slim and petite. I think at some point she also forces us to examine ourselves, our own views, and the society and culture we live in.

Saville is very courageous and direct in her work, and the fact that her paintings are usually at a very large scale emphasizes that. Her work is unconventional and controversial in some respect. However, she continues with her style as she displays an almost disgusting truth to the public.

The fascinating thing about Saville is that her work is somewhat out of place in a culture so obssesed with youth and beauty and thinness, and for this reason it stands out. Her work is unconventional as she does not veiw women as delicate beings, but as sufferers and possibaly survivors. She incorporates women's struggle with beauty through her work. Although the artist paints somewhat morbid images, I think her use of oil paints is actually very beautiful. Her paintings of the human body are extremely accurate from aspects such as the body's form and shape to its tone and colour. They give a highly sensual impression of the surface of the skin and the mass of the body. She uses colours such as whites and pinks as well as browns and reds to give a very physical and fleshy feeling. She draws attention to certain areas of the body with her use of streaks of bright colours. With this she shamelessly emphasizes on aspects of the female body.

Through her images and painting style she creates a complicated discomfort for the the viewers. I personally feel her works are those I don't want to look at but actually can't stop staring at (if you know what i mean). The details are somewhat disturbing, yet it is all you can look at.

I personally like her paintings more than her photographs, mainly because i love her style, especially her use of strong urgent brush strokes. Jenny Saville is a great refrence to those interesting in oil painting, the human body, and themes associated with the portrayal of women in society.

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

Not your average shopping site

A really creative idea for a website. Open in it, then wait and see what happens.

At first glance it looks like any normal shopping site.. second glance maybe your thinking, why is this site selling scotch tape .. as well as cake ?? Then it begins. It's so weird how the page scrolls down on its own. That to me, is thinking outside the box (for a website). Really cool.. Although it doesn't serve a purpose in particular, but does a concept/design need to? Not really. We're just used to websites with a certain use. We're on the internet everyday, surfing from site to site, that we might forget that websites can also be a form or art. It's nice to come across an inspiring and different site once in a while, for a change.

Film posters

These are a few posters I came across for old Arabic films during the 60s and 70s. I thought it was really interesting to see since they look so different from the posters we are used to seeing of Hollywood movies. While those would mainly consist of highly enhanced photographs, these mainly use illustrations of the actors, and use a certain tone that hints towards the main plot of the story. You could draw certain conclusions about the styles of imagery as well as typography at that time.
These posters were mainly hung on walls in specific areas, especially advertised for people of the working class, as they were the most visitors of the cinema at the time.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

"American Quran" - Sandow Birk

For my final project, I was thinking along the lines of a contemporary take on islamic art and Quranic studies. Then recently I found this artist, Sandow Birk, who has been working on an "American Quran" for the past 5 years. Following the traditions of ancient Arabic and Islamic manuscripts, he's been hand writing the entire English-translated Quran following traditional guidelines like colors of inks, for example. He uses American style in his calligraphy, like from urban graffiti. Once each chapter is transcribed, he then illuminates the text and its message with scenes from contemporary American life. He investigates how the message relates to peoples lives in the United States today. He adapts techniques and styles of Arabic and Persian painting and albums.

His project could be seen as controversial. At a time when the United States is involved in two wars against Islamic nations, ironically Islam has become the fastest growing religeon in the country. So Sandow Birk explores the religion as it would mean to an individual American in the 21st Century, how it's messages relate to them in this life and time. I read in an article that the artist is worried that muslims would be offended, or misunderstand his intentions and take the project in the wrong way. He spoke to religious experts who said that might actually happen at a time like this.

I think I might have 2 opinions towards this project. As a muslim it's a little strange for me to see a project like this. It's weird to see such modern and western images as a background to scripts from the Quran. Also, traditionally figures of people of animals are not used Islam, so that part is strange to see too.
As an art/design student however, I found this project a very interesting take, given the political issues going on in this time. His portrayals are not negative, they are just relationships drawn between certain scripts of the Quran and an American's (or maybe any westerner's) daily modern life. Actually, if it is seen from this point of view, the message is a positive one; the portrayal of Islam by an American who has thoroughly studied the religion, to other Americans. It is always easier to understand something if it is explained to you in a style or manner or context that you can most relate to. This might actually help break the developing stereotype of the religion. His works cleverly blends the past with the present, and the East with the West, making the pieces unifying in a way. Also, a Muslim's life is very modernized now, and Muslims believe that their religion is timeless, that it can be applied in any time or place, so the project could also represent that.. All in all I can say that personally its hard not to be critical towards certain aspects of the project and the pieces, but generally i think Sandow Birk’s is only trying to consider the Quran as it was intended; a universal message to humankind.

Saturday, 5 September 2009

Christoph Niemann

I've recently become a fan of Christoph Niemann, an illustrator, graphic designer, and author. His work appeared on the covers of The New Yorker, Atlantic Monthly, The New York Times Magazine and American Illustration. I love his style in illustration, bold and childish in a way, yet they represent serious issues with an almost humorous or ironic take. You can relate his style to pop art and comic art. Definitely an inspiration for my major project.
Check him out in these links:

The world's largest surrealist object

I can easily say that The Teatre-Museu Dali is one of the most interesting and inspiring museums I have ever been to. It is located in Dali's hometown Figures and contains the broadest range of works spanning his artistic career, from his earliest artistic experiences and his surrealist creations down to the works of the last years of his life. The Museum itself could be seen as a great work of Dali, everything in it was conceived and designed by the artist himself in order to offer visitors a real experience of getting inside his unique world. When entering the museum there are so many weird things about it, and nothing makes sense. You'd still appreciate the beauty of it all, but it just seems so bizarre. Later on you'd find out everything in the place is significant, and it all makes perfect sense. I was moving from one room to another being more and more convinced of how much of a genius Dali is.

After visiting his museum, I am now completely amazed by Salvador Dali. His works of art reflect an enormous diversity of techniques, materials and media: paintings, drawings, sculptures, engravings, installations, jewellery, holograms, photography and more. He has explored so many artistic styles at his time, from cubism, to renaissance and religious paintings. And finally has his own bizarre style that is so distinctive that I don't think there can be anything like it.

This is just one of the works in the museum. The story behind it is that Dali wanted to prove in front of an audience what a genius he is, and that he painted spontaneously and from insight (talk about modesty). What he did was he placed a live squid on canvas flat down on the ground. As the squid spilled its ink on the canvas, Dali moved it around with his feet and produced a painting of Beethoven.

This was the ceiling painted by Dali in one of the rooms in the museum. The main part of it is supposed to be his wife Gala and himself going up to heaven, representing that both of them will remain immortal through his paintings and works of art.

Wednesday, 2 September 2009

10 packaging designs I like

Zain ad - Ramadan 2008

Just like other religious holidays, Ramadan is a great opportunity for companies to advertise.
It's become really popular in the Middle East that people watch Arabic shows on T.V. These go from drama to history to comedy. The shows are made to last the whole month of Ramadan and people will spend hours watching them (although this is really not supposed to be the meaning of Ramadan, but you know how these things happen). So because of this, brands heavily advertise on T.V. during this month, and there is a lot of competition.
It seems like Zain (a popular telecom company in the Middle East) always takes a lead on television advertising at this time. They seem to know their target audience, what they want to see and what they're going to like. Zain usually captures different aspects within the traditional part of the culture and reflect important morals and values to the veiwers. They're aim and target seems to be clear, even if not immediately to the veiwers, but you know thats partly why they're so successful. Zain's ads have always been popular and talked about in Ramadan during the past years.
The video I posted is their ad from last year, even though this year's ad was equally successful, I personally like the theme and relevance of this one, and the positive message they were trying to convey.

The Hundertwasser-krawina house

Hundertwasser was an Austrian painter and architect. He became one of the most popular contemporary Austrian artists by the end of the 20th century. He had and original artistic vision which occured in pictorial art, environmentalism, philosophy, and design of facades, postage stamps, flags, and clothing. Some of the common themes of his work were colours, humans and nature, and organic forms.

The Hundertwasser-krawina house is an apartment house in Vienna designed by Hundertwasser. It was his first architectural project and probably the most famous and successful. Altogether he made 50 designs for shaping and remodeling buildings. Each apartment is a different colour as seen from the outside. Vegetation covered the roofs and terraces, and trees would grow from inside the building out the window. They would clean the air, soften the noise, and give shade. Some terraces were inaccessible, where nature may run its own undisturbed course. The columns in the building were very playful and colourful.
One of the most interesting things I found about Hundertwasser’s work was his rejection of straight lines. There were almost no straight lines in his work. He believed that they are uncreative and unnatural, as they don’t occur in nature. For this reason the floors in the apartment house were uneven and the walls were painted in a wave-like direction. I love the way he incorporates nature into his work in such a contemporary and modern way.
My favorite part of the apartment house was the children’s playing room. In the middle of the building was a big arch connecting the two main parts of the building. This was utilized on the inside. It was used as the children’s playing room, and they used it as a slide.
Another cool thing about the place is that people who lived in the building were welcome to scribble on the walls. The artist thought it was necessary for them to add their personal touch to the place.

Bahrain Fort

The Bahrain fort is one of the most important monuments in Bahrain. It is composed of an artificial mound created by many successive layers of human occupation from 2300 BC up to the 1700's. In 2005 it was inscribed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The remains show continuous human presence for many centuries. About 25% of the site has been excavated revealing different types of structures: public, commercial, residential, military, and religious.

The reason this fort is particularly interesting to me is the painted villages nearby. A few years ago many local artists came together to work on this project. They painted the whole village around the fort, which consists of houses, a mosque, and a wall that surrounds the area. Through the paintings the artists expressed their impressions of the culture and history of Bahrain from old civilizations to modern times. Since Bahrain is not so big on tourism, it’s great that these artists came together to improve an important site in the country. It’s a great example of how art contributes to a society. After the completion of this project the site became much more popular.

You would think though that it would be nice to live here, but you could say that the impression of the village does not at all reflect the lifestyle of it. The people here live in very poor conditions. Large families are crammed in spaces that hardly fit them, their incomes are low, and their lifestyle is tough.