I finally have my own personal website, which I’m being told is a must for creative professionals in today’s competitive online marketplace. Here it is: www.dukepope.com
To be honest I’m still trying to figure out how to get ahead in this rat race of self promotion and social media mumbo jumbo. I sometimes wish we could go back to the time of knocking doors and calling up solid desktop telephones with gut shaking mechanical ringing and get through to a real person on the other side. In reality I guess there’s nothing stopping us from knocking doors and ringing up people, and despite the mantra of “online presence is everything” perhaps this is still the way that would actually get you somewhere as an aspiring creative professional. I guess it’s time to put it to the test! (And perhaps I’ll even let you know how it goes). In the meantime please have a look at my webpage and let me know what you think of it! (And as a side note, if you click the “music” link, it will take you to my soundcloud and my latest song, which I finished last week, called Believe in Love.)
It is so refreshing and inspiring to come across an artist with such a playful and creative catalogue as S. M. Samsu. Not bound to the western conventions of perspective or the intellectual blind alley of westen post war art, Samsu’s work sparkles with artistic freedom and the joy of painting. Of course Samsu is established within the genre of Bangladeshi rickshaw art, but he lifts the genre to new heights with his colourful symphony of animals, birds and people. Especially his paintings where animals take the place of people, as in his “Rickshaw workshop” and “school”, are just so playful and surreal they instantly make the viewer smile.
The images are taken from rickshaw-paint.net, where artwork by S. M. Samsu and other Bangladeshi rickshaw painters can be bought.
The fascinating still life portraits of Guiseppe Arcimboldo were largely forgotten in the centuries following his death – until his rediscovery in the 20th century by modernist and surrealist painters such as Picasso and Salvador Dali. How could it happen that such a brilliant and original artist almost vanished from the annals of art history? The Renaissance was marked by a fascination with riddles, puzzles, and the bizarre, which is also evident in the art of his Arcimboldo’s contemporaries, such as Hieronymus Bosch and Peter Bruegel. As the Renaissance faded into Baroque and Rococo this fascination was gradually replaced by esthetic indulgence and dramatic displays, plump women and lavish interiors. In the meantime Prague, where Archimboldo had spent most of his life as a painter for the Habsburg court, was sacked by the Swedish army in 1648, and his work spread across Europe. Arcimboldo’s assembled portraits are playful, but also scientific in their representation of nature. He was certainly an eccentric, but his absurd, yet analytical portraits still capture us almost five hundred years later. For those wanting to read more about Arcimboldo, there is a great article about him at rhetoricaldeivice.com
I scanned these images from a book found in Keith Fawkes Books in Hampstead, London. It’s the messiest and most chaotic bookshop I’ve ever been into, but those are the kind of places where strange treasures like “Visions of the Future” can be found. The subtitle reads: “An exciting and novel selction of science fiction art of today”. The book was a British publication, featuring at the time young British artists. Judging from a quick round on google, most of them seem to be active still. So there is plenty of inspiration out there! Here are five of my favourite artworks from the book, which stood out among all the weird and funky sci-fi kitsch.
Allthough Wes Wilson is seen as the father of the psychedelic rock poster, the poster art of Victor Moscoso stands for me as the archetypal expression of the hippie era. With vibrating colours and psychedelic imagery, his posters take you straight back to that special vibe of the late 1960s San Fransisco. Victor Moscoso was born in Spain in 1937, but moved with his family to Brooklyn, New York three years later, where he spent most of his youth and childhood. He went on to study art at Yale under the supervision of Josef Albers, whose color theory later became an important inspiration for him. Jack Kerouac’s On the Road was a motivating factor for Moscoso to move on to California and San Fransisco in 1959. But it wasn’t until 1967 with the Summer of Love that Victor Moscoso rose to international fame, with his posters for the Avalon Ballroom (whose concerts featured artists such as Janis Joplin and the Doors). There is an excellent interview with him at The Comics Journal, for those who would like to read more about his fascinating life and refreshing take on art. Victor Moscoso is still active as an artist.
I decided it’s time for me to showcase some of my own work, namely my digital collages. The first one was created in 2005 after a visit to a friend in Spain. Having collected all sorts of things since childhood, the flamboyant gay man with the baroque wig was responsible for turning my collection into a creative laboratory. I found him on a leaflet in Barcelona, announcing a major gay disco event. When I came back home, he just fit right in with the glossy collectable pictures I had gotten from my sister as a child. In the background I put a starry sky and space rockets from my father’s 1950s trading cards collection. The resulting piece can be seen underneath. Since then I have been steadily adding new works to my digital collage universe, with the herbal Jesus as the latest addition, made in 2011. They were all part of an exhibition in Mumbai, India in 2011, together with Ismael Sanz Peña’s animations. Himali Singh Soin arranged the exhibition and actually made it happen. To see more of my artwork, look here.
These animal illustrations are from a 1960’s edition of Danish Lademann’s Encyclopedia. The illustrator has done an impressive job of squeezing all the animals into their respective habitats or families, resulting in these fantastic and somewhat surrealistic illustrations. They are however perfectly in tune with the encyclopedia of the past century, before the creation of Wikipedia and the internet – Get as much information as possible compressed into your limited volumes of books. As a summer temp at an antiquarian book shop in the Norwegian Book Town, I have unfortunately seen a lot of these old encyclopedias end up in the paper recycling. I’ve saved a few, but realizing there is a limit to how many old encyclopedias I need in my book shelf I have also dissected many of them, resulting in a great collection of old illustrations.
Since Norway is a a small country with only four million people, you would not expect the regional differences to be too big. The geography though is such, that for almost a thousand years, from the end of the viking era and until modern times, the different regions did not interact much among each others – so that each part of the country developed distinct cultural and linguistic traits. Oddvar Torsheim is an artist whose burlesque style is distincly Western Norwegian. His art is a homage to the fjord landscape and the people who live there, but also a satirical look at Norway; the religious fanaticism of the west, the oil industry and the greed which has corrupted our innocence over the past decades. And then there is women, beer drinking men and I guess a bit of autobiographical references too, in Torsheim’s humorous, freudian universe.
In 1899 German biologist, philospher and artist Ernst Haeckel began publishing Art Forms of Nature (Kunstformen der Natur), a series of detailed litographic prints, depicting the fantastic diversity of life. No life form is left out in this astonishing catalogue of illustrations of everything from mosses and lichens to plants and animals, on land and in water. Many of Haeckel’s theories have since his death fallen from grace, as for instance his dubious classification of human races. But Heackel’s artistic vision of nature has defenitely withstood the test of time, by merging science and art in a most beautiful way. All images are from Wikimedia.
I really like Japanese illustrator Shusei Nagaoka’s artwork from the 70s and 80s. It’s full of neon glowing space ships in distant galaxies and shiny naked women encountering strange looking martians. Among his greatest achievements are his album art for bands such as Electric Light Orchestra and Earth Wind and Fire. It’s kitschy and over the top, but so much more exiting than the mostly boring album art (and music) of our era.