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It can only be a good day when Phil Toledano announces a new body of work and on a cold grey one it's warming to see his latest: Kim Jong Phil.

Quoth he:  "I think a great deal about what it means to be an artist."

"I reflect on the elaborate psychological mechanisms required to pursue something so elusive, so ambiguous. I often wonder: 'Am I talking to myself?' 

I don't make work for other people, but as an artist, I need to be in dialogue with the world that exists beyond my overpopulated cranium. I've concluded that to be effective-to be functional-I must guzzle an eye-popping cocktail of delusion and narcissism.

It occurred to me that being an artist is a great deal like being a dictator.

Just like a dictator, I must live in a closed loop of self-delusion. A place where my words and ideas always ring true. A gilded daydream of grandiosity. There can be no room for doubt. I must be convinced that I have something vital to say. I must believe that the world is waiting in keen anticipation to hear my message.

For my palette, I've copied pre-existing dictatorial art. Paintings from North Korea, statues of assorted dictators (Kim Il Sung, Laurent Kabilla, and Saddam Hussein). I had these works re-created in China, and each instance, I've replaced the great leaders with myself."

Bloody brilliant. Read a thoroughly excellent interview with Mr Toledano via APhotoEditor

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Mr Toledano as Laurent Kabila, 20 inches.

International world global domination. Oil on canvas, 40x50 inches © Mr Toledano


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From Shipping Forecast: South-East Iceland, Saturday 10 August 1996 © Mark Power

Amador Gallery will be opening an exhibition of one of my personal faves, Mark Power, on January 26th 2011 at their midtown location. I'm most familiar with Power's 'Shipping Forecast' series, alongside which will be a new body of work, 'The Sound of Two Songs'.

"The Sound of Two Songs is the result of the artist's love affair with Poland, describing in photographic terms the changing social values of a country caught between the past, the present and the future, both in terms of attitude and of the contradictions found in its landscape. The series reflects both the urban and the rural, the old and the new, setting the crumbling inner city housing estates of the Communist era against the new developments of colorful apartments and gleaming shopping centers."


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From The Sound of Two Songs, Warsaw, February 2005 © Mark Power

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This arresting feature was guest curated by Louisa Curtis of Chatterbox Enterprises.

"I met photographer Art Murphy a few years ago when he was also working as an accomplished retoucher and printer in New York. Fast-forward a few years, add in a life-changing move from the city to the Catskills, and an already-existing interest in things past, and we have a new fine art project, inspired by nature, studying 380 million year-old fossils that are found in abundance around his home. Art has created an exquisite body of work that one minute transports us into feeling we are truly underwater, exploring for hidden treasures at the bottom of the inland sea, and then another that might remind us of ancient life forms, marine invertebrates that existed all those years ago. The images have a softness and subtlety of color that seem unlikely for such crusty remnants of old age. They are, quite simply, beautiful. Last year, prompted by an exhibition opportunity, Art's work was presented as a one-of-a-kind art book in the style of an old Catskills scrapbook, where a link was examined between the painters of the Hudson River School of Art and the earliest geologists who explored the country. To see more about the project, the book and the images, please visit his website." - Louisa Curtis

"My images are an attempt to focus on the intrinsic beauty of these early life forms and provide the viewer with a more visceral and emotional interaction - a connection between the distant past and the present, what is buried all around us as part of the evolutionary trail of life here in the Hudson Valley. As I see it, this work tends to bridge a gap between art and science. The visual manifestations of science and nature contain an often-overlooked wealth of aesthetic experience. I have the good fortune of living in a most beautiful area, tucked in the woods between the Hudson River and the eastern edge of the Catskills. Thanks to its unique geologic history, fossils abound, specifically invertebrate fossils from the Devonian Period. In many locations it sometimes seems that every other rock contains a fossil. They can appear to be so commonplace that, aside from schoolchildren hunting for them on science field trips, most of us stumble over them with barely a notice. Not long ago, I took the time to look a bit closer and was amazed at what I found. The images that appear here are part of a long-term project, a decidedly unscientific one that reflects the intrinsic beauty of these creatures from an incomprehensibly distant past. In removing any reference to suggest scale, they appear as beautiful sculptural objects seeming to grow out of the surrounding rock.

I have often said that, while the Hudson River painters hiked the area they carried hammer, chisel, and sketch book, I carry hammer, chisel, and digital camera. I shoot while out in the field, particularly when I find something too big to carry back to the studio. Most often, though, I carry bags full of rocks home. Some of the fossils are free-standing. Most are buried in rock. Once you become familiar, you can tell that certain rocks will have greater or lesser possibility of containing fossils. I carefully begin cracking them open and then the fun begins. Cracks in the rocks will often lead to well defined fossils and then I explore the patterns and designs that emerge with the camera. Sometimes a single large rock can have me busy for days." - Art Murphy

Thanks to Louisa for her work on this story. View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Fossil ©  Art Murphy

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Simone Rosenbauer is one of the selected artists for reGeneration² and she attended the panel discussion at Aperture last night. A young German living in Australia, she told me about her project 'Small Museum'. She's been to 40, and there are more. Bloody brilliant. More projects on her website.

Karsh_Mandela_02.jpgI have worked with the Estate of Yousuf Karsh for several years, and I edited text for the official Yousuf Karsh website, but I still hear stories about the shoots that I have never heard before. Tooling around today I found a comment from 2009 in an article on The Online Photographer, Mike Johnston's extensive photo blog, about Karsh's most recent book 'Regarding Heroes', from a reader who had attended the opening at the Art Institute of Chicago. Director and Curator for the Estate, Jerry Fielder, had related the story of Karsh's 1990 session with Mandela, and confirms this is what happened.

I personally never had the opportunity to meet Mr Karsh but it's easy to gather he was extremely charming and entertaining. The commenter, Ken Tanaka, put it so well, I hope he doesn't mind me lifting his comment.

"In 1990 Karsh was to photograph Nelson Mandela. Mandela arrived at Karsh's studio in Ottawa with only an hour of rest after his long trip from South Africa. Karsh was normally a master of establishing quick rapport with his sitters but he could see that Mandela was just plain exhasuted and that getting that "public mask" off would be very hard at that moment.

So Karsh decided to try telling Mandela a story to warm things up. He recounted a recent session in which he photographed the Pope. While chatting, he asked him, "How many people work at the Vatican?". The Pope considered the question for a moment, as if trying to formulate an accurate answer, and then replied, "About half.". For a moment Mandela's exhaustion and troubles lifted as he found the little story hilarious. Click! Karsh managed to capture that moment in this portrait."

This is one of the results.

Nelson Mandela © Yousuf Karsh

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London-based Katie Ell is a colleague of aCurator-featured photographer Michael Corridore who kindly directed her to the magazine, prompting her to submit 'A Piece of My Mind', the latest collaboration by Katie and Creative Director Paul Alexandrou.

"From the wildly irreverent to the deeply heartfelt, the series documents the different words and messages people choose to have tattooed on their bodies. Collected over a nine-month period, the project explores the power of language, the line between public and private, and the universal need to share what's on our mind."

An exhibition opens in London at Tapestry, 52 Frith Street, W1, from January 10th to March 10th, 2011.

View the full screen magazine photo feature.

Katie is a commercial photographer shooting celebrity portraits, fashion and art projects. A trip to her website is a good time.

Sparky © Katie Ell
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Come to the NY opening of Dirk Anschütz' new solo exhibition of his fabulous portrait series 'The Sultans': Turkish men of a certain age in all their patriarchal glory. As I've mentioned before, Dirk is a most entertaining photographer and story-teller, as evidenced on his blog. You can read the back story on The Sultans at The Heavy Light. I think Dirk is also onto something with a new and interesting concept on rent-to-buy art. Read more.

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Karolina Sekula sent this wonderfully eloquent statement to accompany her series on newly-single women. 

"Every year statistics reveal tens of thousands of divorces in Poland. The number becomes even greater when you count in unmarried couples that break up. In 2010 those statistics strangely and unexpectedly started including a large group of my friends and... myself. I began photographing women close to me that recently split up with their life partners, just like I did. All of the photographs were taken in my models' houses, when the first emotions had already been coped with and were replaced by sadness and melancholy."

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This hooded man kicking in a door led the submission from Nashville photographer Chris Hollo. "The Door Project began as an idea on a return flight. It occurred to me that you never really know what to expect when you answer the front door." The concept tickled me. Having spent the first half of my life in the suburbs of London, I could relate, but as a resident of New York City I have a techno-tune video intercom and a doorman (whose intercom ring is reminiscent of an 80's novelty car horn) at the entrance to my apartment building, and a spy-hole at my front door. As aCurator, I sometimes crave a bit more humour in the submissions, so I thank Chris for helping start the new year with a dose thereof. 


I was really pleased when Chris told me that he is an adjunct at Nashville State Community College and he references aCurator in one of the classes he teaches, Special Topics, a project photography class where the students get to declare a project, write up a project statement and then spend the semester working on it before exhibiting it publicly. You can see some of his students' work here.

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A short interview with yours truly from SlideShowPro about aCurator photo magazine. SSP is the platform upon which top web designer bigflannel built the mag. With thanks to Todd Dominey.

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