Put on your conical hats, lean back and immerse yourselves in this music video, bringing you straight back to that early nineties post-modernist aesthetic. “Can You Forgive Her” features the typical Pet Shop Boys sound, mixing 90s dance with ambient and orchestral elements, accompanied by airy vocals and funny, yet poetic lyrics.
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.
I have always been a collector of little things. My first collection was a shoe box full of pine cones. Later I found it more exiting to collect objects that didn’t all look the same, like stamps for instance. My grandfather was a diligent and proud philatelist and used to give me stamps for Christmas. As I child I spent hours organizing and admiring these little artpieces, which is a labour I appreciate now, many years later. As well as being amazing graphic design pieces, these stamps are also icons of a bygone era. A digital print of an Adobe Illustrator file will never be quite the same as a miniature engraving, as many of the old stamps are. Here are some of the favourite pieces from my collection; the rest of the set can be found here: Thirty Stamps
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
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 discoverd Stelios Faitakis two years ago, at the Venezia Art Biennale, where he had painted a big mural on the wall of the Danish pavilion. His art captures the mood not only of the crisis in his native Greece, but also the global crisis of capitalism. Faitakis’ pictures look like something painted by a medieval monk beamed into our modern age, trying to document the society around him. The result is a striking visual language, which elevates the battles of our time to something much deeper than just angry young men throwing rocks at riot police.
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.
Bodys Isek Kingelez was born in what was then Belgian Congo back in 1948. He originally worked as a restorer of tribal masks at the National Museum of Kinshasa to support himself. But by 1985 he was able to focus on his art full time, and since then he has had big success as an artist. Bodys Isek Kingelez has become world renowned for his fantastic architectural models, made from cardboard and recycled scrap materials. He is regarded as a sculptor and artist, but why not recreate his cityscapes in full size? A city based on Kingelez’s models would be such a funky place to be, compared to the evil corporate urban environment that (literally) overshadows everything nowadays.
The South Ndebele People of Southern Africa have the amazing tradition of painting their houses with brightly coloured geometric designs. The custom started after the Ndebele moved from straw huts to mud-walled houses in the mid 1800s. The loss of the 1883 war with the neighbouring Boer settlers brought hardship and repression for the Ndbele. Their symbolic art is said to have taken form during this harsh period, as a subtle language of cultural resistance which went undetected by the Boers.
Esther Mahlangu has become world famous as a master of the Ndebele painting style. Since being discovered by a team of french culture and art researchers in the mid eighties, she has done commissioned work across the world, including an art car for BMW in 1991. More recently she has also decorated the new Fiat 500.
Moustapha Alassane was born in Niger in 1942. Originally a mechanic, he discovered the art of animation on a trip to Canada, sponsored by French filmmaker Jean Rouch. His animation style is uniquely African, mostly starring naively drawn frog characters and commenting on the (then) newly independent African nations with surrealistic satire. He draws directly on the film roll, cleverly avoiding the trouble of transferring the animation from paper.
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.
American artist Kevin Cyr plays around with concepts of mobile living, bringing to life great prototypes such as his Bike Camper. Personally I think this could become more than just a concept – it brings to my mind the millions of people sleeping on cardboard sheets on the hard pavement in cities such as Mumbai and Rio de Janeiro, and all the slum dwellers who get their shacks bulldozed with no compensation and no place to go. A micro mobile home like this could dramatically improve the living standards of a homeless person in the mega metropolis of the third world. Via Weburbanist.
Russian pensioner Olga Kostina has a very cool art project going on. She is in the process of covering her houses on the Siberian taiga with plastic bottle caps, nailing them to the wooden walls one by one. The themes range from cute pixel animals to traditional Russian macrame motifs, which is a textile knotting technique. The images are the courtesy of REUTERS / Ilya Naymushin. Via Odditycentral.
British artist and eco-futurist Richard Sowa is working on what he believes one day will become an independent nation drifting on the oceans. His island is located in the Caribbean coast of Mexico, and Consists of thousands of plastic bottles, covered with mangroves and tropical vegetation. He also built a house on the island.
Being born in 1986, I feel privileged to have grown up during the still primitive phase of the computer age, long before touch screens, crisp graphics and social media entered the scene. To me the pixelated computer images from my childhood have a strange beauty to them which can never be rivaled by today’s crystal clear ipad graphics. I guess it’s related with the limitations of the format, the low screen resolution and the limited colour palette. The limitations create a restricted stylistic framework, much like in traditional woodcut, silkscreen printing and stencil graffiti. It seems to me that the chances of succeeding in making something beautiful increases with the restrictions, perhaps making you less likely ending up in some stylistic blind alley.
Pixel artist Jim Sachs is an artist who stuck to his restricted medium even when the times changed – He still makes old school pixel art in the iPad era. A former American Air Force pilot, he got involved with the fledgeling computer and gaming industry in the early eighties. He started writing games for the Commodore 64, then got involved in the development of the Amiga (Commodore’s legendary gaming computer). His computer art from the late eighties and early nineties must be among the greatest achievements within the realm of pixel art. My first encounter with his amazing artwork was on my neighbour’s Amiga sometime in the early nineties, in the form of a desktop background called “Amiga Lagoon” (seen below).
The Japanese Tradition of turning manhole covers into funky artpieces must be the world’s longest lasting and most extensive street art project. The colorful customization of the covers started in the nineteen eighties, when Japanese authorities issued a standard measure and shape for manhole covers. This new measure ignited strong resistance among Japanese local communities, which in turn led to a compromise giving every municipality full freedom over the artwork depicted on the manhole covers. Below are a selection of images from the Japanese manhole covers group pool on Flickr. Click the images below to go to the respective owners’ Flickr page.
Today’s sleek and soulless computer animations have a long and quirky history behind them. Steve Rutt and Bill Etra were two of the pioneers of computer animation, and revolutionized the field with their video synthesizer from 1972. In the somewhat surrealistic video below, Bill Etra himself explains some of the features of their synthesizer: