Category Archives: Art

A clunky unedited book review!

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Sacred Band, by Joseph D. Carriker jr.
 
Where to begin? I am emotionally compromised, that’s where.
 
My favourite thing about this novel is the characters. I’ve been thinking about how best to describe them, but then, describing people has never been my strong suit. I describe characters well enough, using the labels assigned to them: troubled, gentle, loving, queer, trans, motherly, a person of colour, powerful, traumatised.
I struggle with describing the powers at play in this book because they’re not characters. They’re people. They’re alive and delightfully complex, each one more than their assigned archetype, each one richly developed with backstories that are not laid bare and tossed in your face for easy consumption. They tell you as much as any person would, and in ways that people do: in action, in small talk, in expression and emotion. Their defining traits aren’t tossed and jumbled into a single paragraph early in the chapter. They’re complicated in the ways I am complicated, or you are, or the ways the people you love are. They’re messy. They grieve. They get scared. They can be irrational and clingy. They can project their insecurities onto others. They also love and feel in a very, very real way, and that is the core of what makes Sacred Band so brilliant. A superhero is a symbol, a representation of a concept, and it’s important that you understand the face beneath the mask before you can begin to grasp the hero. These people are heroes, and not because of the (overly tight) outfits.
 
My second favourite thing about this book is the sheer diversity of cast. Gender, sexuality, race, and background mix and merge to bring people from various walks of life- with respectful appreciation of the reality of their existence- into eachother’s company. Each has different strengths and different obstacles. Sometimes they chafe, sometimes they soothe. Difficult situations are dealt with in unexpected ways, and I’m not just talking about the fight scenes. A friend of mine uses the phrase ‘A balm to my soul’ and that’s exactly what this story has been for me. Familiar struggles (especially the queer kind) played out on these pages are mysteriously lacking in mass-produced media, and although that issue is slowly improving, the representation of queer culture in these pages is so much more satisfying to me than the token gay characters popping up in our standard superhero fare. Here queerness is written the way most of us experience it. It’s every day life. It has events that mark our history, and sometimes they can define our personal narrative, but for the most part it’s just part of who we are. For the characters in Sacred Band, it’s just part of who they are, but within that, they give voice and power to the inherent rage against inequality and oppression common in the queer community.
We’ve all heard about those who are not so lucky as to be born into a safe environment. Those who have been disowned, discarded, abused and tortured and even killed for who they are. The fact that the novel begins in Ukraine and mentions the unrest in Russia hits a nerve. The villains in Sacred Band are real. We’ve all felt their touch, one way or another. From those who fought hard in defence of DADT to those who beat frightened transfolk and post the videos to youtube, we know these villains. The pain and anger in Sacred Band is all too real.
This novel gifts us with the superheroes that Hollywood pretends could never be: the queer, the underfoot, the outcasts, doing what they always have. What we always have. Fighting for our own, for the lives of those like us.
 
When I first settled down to read, I had no idea how sorely I needed that.
So yeah, I’m emotionally compromised. Read the fucking book. It’s worth it.
 
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The joys of Art.

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So, a selection of the Modern Masters from MoMA is currently being shown at AGWA, which is where I spent most of my time today.

Picasso, Pollock, Matisse, Duchamp, Bourgeois, Warhol and many others… I…

I was trasnfixed by Picasso’s Painter and Model within seconds. It’s one thing to see it in a textbook. It’s a whole other thing to see it in person. The energy in the brush strokes, the specific colours, the incredible….. completeness of it.

I stood in front of There Were Seven in Eight by Jackson Pollock and tried not to cry.

It’s like his interpretation of Picasso’s Guernica. Just look at it for a while. Just… Look. I don’t care if you think it’s a mess. I don’t care if you don’t think it’s art. If you need to, google Guernica. Google Picasso, and then google Pollock. Pay attention to dates.

See, while I was walking through that exhibition today, I could follow the progression of inspiration. Who inspired who, what inspired what. I could see the artists who worked against each other, who came first, who came later…

I spend a lot of time thinking that I don’t actually like art. I’ve grown up in a family in which art goes back generations. Dad is an artist. My grandparents are artists. My great-grandparents were writers and artists. It goes back as far as I can trace. Art, words, and sex. I follow the trend.

Standing there in front of these paintings, I was reminded how much I do actually love art. I love art. It’s not that I don’t care about it. I know it. I’ve been raised in it.

You don’t realise how much you need air until you can’t breathe.

You don’t realise how polluted the city air is until you’re in the country.

Picasso and Pollock were my breaths of fresh air today. I wanted to cry. I stood, with aching feet (I ripped off a toenail lastnight, which hurts like a bitch) and in a massive crowd of rude, irritating people, just to stare in wonder at these works. I must have stood there, in front of There Were Seven in Eight for an hour or more. I could hear the people around me discussing Pollock’s work with disappointment.

I forget sometimes that they don’t understand why his work is so wonderful.
I don’t hold it against them. Art to one person is shit to another.
I wonder how many of them were just there to see a name?

I got a good laugh out of Duchamp’s L.H.O.O.Q (which when said out loud, turns out to be “She has a great arse” in french)

And laughed even more with Dad when we found another version of that: L.H.O.O.Q (Shaved) which was just a playing card of Mona Lisa on paper.

I was disappointed not to see any Basquiat there, but oh well. I’m still buzzed from Picasso and Pollock. Can you tell they were my favourites?

After that there was coffee in a cute little coffee shop down the walkway from the gallery, where we sat and listened to a one-legged saxophonist play classic romantic songs, and songs about beautiful days. He helped a woman propose (or announce an engagement?) on video by playing the wedding music while she gestured and talked excitedly at a camera.

You know, I don’t need action and excitement to have a wonderful day. Plonk me in a place where there’s art and music and I’ll be happy.

Good day, all in all. Gooooood day.

Why I paint people.

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Not paint on bodies, although that’s fun, but I like to paint bodies. People.

I like the shapes and tones and curves and variations in bodies.

I would paint them all the time if I could.

Erotic paintings, nudes, clothed, silhouettes, religious paintings, closeups and distant hints of skin…
Thin and fat and muscled and slight, everything in between. Finding beauty in monstrosity and ugliness in perfection.

These are things I like to paint.

I want to study Freud.

and I want to study Michelangelo.

Maybe both Michelangelos.

(this one is by Michelangelo Pistoletto.)

I like bodies.

I don’t even have to like the person inside the body, although, sometimes they show through and make it even more amazing.

Steve McCurry did it pretty well, I know you’ve seen his “Afghan Girl” photo…

See, isn’t that just beautiful? Isn’t she stunning?
What a brilliant work of art.

I also like little pieces of bodies.

I like hands. Escher did hands:

And I like feet, too…

“The human foot is a masterpiece of engineering and a work of art”

You know who said that?

Leonardo Da Vinci.

I like dancers bodies, and I like little old bodies, and I like those moments of movement that are rarely noticed-

like the ones that Muybridge caught:

So.

If you were wondering.

That’s what I like.

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Somewhere far and cold and wide

Vast and seemingly inbetween

Point A and point B,

You and me,

Elsewhere above it all.

Find me, hide me,

Loosely, languishing on the kitchen floor,

Lost in kisses.

Locked lips in haste, this nowhere place,

Where we forgot what came before.

Tongues and gazes and the flight

Of alabaster rose, nipples that float beyond

Me, high, limitlessly adrift,

As you reach above, laughing,

Dusted with paint and with flour.

I gentle your hips with caresses, these murmurs,

Words with nothing but love in their teeth.

The river of your spine, the forest of your ribs,

These valleys and caves, yet unexplored,

Imploring, demanding, wet like wax,

Like your eyes of emerald and skin of gold.

I think I love, I dream,

I fall to earth euphoric.

Icarus and Midas

Questions…

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Anonymous asked:  “Describe to me a walkthrough of your dream house.”

The house is on acres of untouched land, by a river, on Australian soil. Good red earth, y’know?
It’s wooden on the outside, with healthy gum trees, a wild garden. Earth tones inside, and full of light, and there’s smooth airflow from one end to the other. There are two levels, wood and tile floors downstairs and carpets upstairs, where the bedrooms are. The kitchen is big and connected to the dining room. There’s a wall of windows that look out into the bush, and a small window at the back of the kitchen that enables food to passed from the kitchen to the veranda for eating outside. The walls alternate between gritty and rough to smooth and clean.

Upstairs are bedrooms, as many as are needed, and another bathroom like the one downstairs- sandy coloured, all golds and blues- with an open glass shower. A big shower, almost a wet room.
There’s a writing studio and library, wooden and quiet and filled with dusty light and beanbags and a writing desk.
There are guest rooms for company, which are white and clean and neat.

There’s a loft room, and that’s mine. It’s dusty wooden, raw-ish wood instead of the gloss downstairs. There’s a lock on the door and a massive circular window toward which the foot of my bed points. I have an easel there, and my own messy writing desk. Written on every surface are words or scribbled images, flecks of paint. There’s oils and medium and the smell of canvas, and painting cloths strewn everywhere. It’s a mess.

Everything in the house is randomly colourful. Red kettle and multicoloured coffee mugs- the big thick kind- and art everywhere.

Outside there is a garden path from the kitchen to where good edible food grows. There’s also a place for chickens and goats, and a little farther down, a big shed with a kiln and all my sculpting material.
From there, it’s only a short walk to the riverbank.

Panic

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I find myself terrified, most of the time, that I’m not a writer, and that I can’t write, and that this silent day-week-month-months-year will never end and I’ll never write another story.

I’m one of those people for whom a story doesn’t just fall out and rage across the page.
I have to work at it to get one page, one paragraph, one sentence.

The fact that it always breaks and I always write another story never eases the panic I feel when I find myself unable to write, whether for lack of inspiration, words, characters or plot.

It’s an infinitely more painful experience than any I’ve known throughout my life.

EDIT:
This was my dad’s response to this post:
“Some sage advice from a foot weary traveller upon the same arduous climb?
Revisit, rekindle, relinquish, rectify and relish. Take to your heart old literary loves, your older eyes will see anew that which your pubescent soul dismissed.
Renew your passion for the language, pop the juicy words loudly on your tongue. Gobble verbs, masticate nouns and sieve corpulent adjectives through your teeth. Never slake your thirst or sate your hunger.
Brandish swordlike the slick sharp steel of your vocabulary, curry no fear nor favour in your quest to slice open the arteries of creative expression.
Make it yours. However churlish, childish, covetous or controversial, own it.
Just. fucking. write.”

Androgyne: Work in Progress

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I started a new painting today. I’m not certain what I’ll call it but I’ve settled with “Androgyne” as a working title.

This is the result of about three hours work.
(It’s a bit skewed because I had the camera at an angle, so it’s all… bwerk.)

 

“Androgyne”
Oil on Board
Work in Progress

Muses (WiP) Update

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8 hours worth of painting yielded this:

 

This was after about 3 hours.

Also, look at my half of the studio. Isn’t it awesome? :3

End result for the Honey Muse. She’s tempermental and difficult to paint, so I have a looooong way to go with her.

And my camera apparently can’t deal with glare.

“Muses” oil on board.

Book Review: A Density of Souls

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Having not yet finished reading the book when I started writing this, I can only comment on what I have realised so far. When I have finished it, no doubt I’ll write some more. ^_^

The reviews for A Density Of Souls differ largely, fluctuating between 1-2 star ratings with bitter comments, and 5 star rave reviews. This book is a troublesome one that covers a lot of incredibly unpleasant realities, bundling up a dozen serious experiences that happen to people everyday, and then wraps them all up in a wonderfully written (if complicated) story. My guess is that the people who enjoyed the book are probably people who have experienced one or more of these- whether the destruction of friendships, the emotional damage of abusive relationships, the trauma of death and suicide, the difficulties of mental illness or the social otherness of being gay- and these people find themselves drawn to the characters they feel the most connected to. It takes a talented writer to involve the readers in what has been written, to absorb them in the story. I think those who didn’t like the book didn’t feel that connection, hadn’t felt those feelings.

When I picked up A Density of Souls, I expected Christopher Rice’s writing to be a pale imitation of his mother’s. I couldn’t have been more wrong. He has his own style and while some of the places mentioned are familiar to Rice fans, everything is somehow different. Intense and beautiful and ugly all at once, and sometimes, incredibly uncomfortable. I would recommend anyone read it, regardless of how they might feel about it. It’s certainly an experience to be had.

That said, they say that an author’s first published novel tends to be heavily autobiographical. The way some of this is written… Well. I wouldn’t be surprised.

5 stars.