Virtual Gallery feature Artist FERDINAND LEGER

Presenting the VIRTUAL GALLERY’s first Feature artist for 2016 at the Kurilpa Poetry Cup

BAL26122 #260 The Mechanic, 1920 by Leger, Fernand (1881-1955) National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada French, in copyright until 2026 PLEASE NOTE: This image is protected by the artist's copyright which needs to be cleared by you. If you require assistance in clearing permission we will be pleased to help you.

Ferdinand Leger

*

Ferdinand Leger (1881-1955) was a French painter sculptor and film-maker whose personal take on Cubism was strongly infused with a sense of Classical monumentality and balance.

Leger came from a farming family in Normandy and originally trained as an architectural drafstman. He subsequently studied fine art and on moving to Montmartre in 1909 was soon heavily influenced by the work of leading Cubist artists that he saw there.

00

Drafted into the army in 1914 Leger spent two years at the front before becoming the victim of a German mustard gas attack at Verdun.

.During a period of convalescence in Villepinte he painted The Card Players (1917), a canvas whose robot-like, monstrous figures reflect the ambivalence of his experience of war. As he explained:

...I was stunned by the sight of the breech of a 75 millimeter

in the sunlight.

It was the magic of light on the white metal. That’s all it took for me to forget the abstract art of 1912–1913. The crudeness, variety, humor, and down-right perfection of certain men around me, their precise sense of utilitarian reality and its application in the midst of the life-and-death drama we were in …made me want to paint in slang with all its color and mobility.

13

This work marked the beginning of his “mechanical period”, during which the figures and objects he painted were characterized by sleekly rendered tubular and machine-like forms.

Starting in 1918, he also produced the first paintings in the Disk series, in which disks suggestive of traffic lights figure prominently. In December 1919 he married Jeanne-Augustine Lohy, and in 1920 he met Le Corbusier, who would remain a lifelong friend.

3

Like many modernists of the era Leger was a strong believer in the positive aspects of mechanisation and his works reflects this. His war-time experiences in the trenches also madehim a fervent believer in the concept of working class solidarity which culminated in his joining the French Communist Party in 1945.

51

During this period his work became less abstract, and he produced many monumental figure compositions depicting scenes of popular life featuring acrobats, builders, divers, and countryoutings. Art historian Charlotta Kotik has written that Léger’s

“determination to depict the common man, as well as to create for him, was a result of socialist theories widespread among the avant-garde both before and after World War II. However, Léger’s social conscience was not that of a fierce Marxist, but of a passionate humanist”

His varied projects included book illustrations, murals, stained-glass windows, mosaics, polychrome ceramic sculptures, and set and costume designs.

-Shane Kneipp

8

See more of Ferdinand Leger’s work at

the Kurilpa Poetry Cup,

Sunday 28th February, 2pm

Cup FEB 2016 handbill 2.with border

***

Advertisements

VIRTUAL GALLERY UPDATE..ZEL Speaks!

Zel for bio

The Kurilpa Poets’ ‘Unsuspected Artist’ for November,

known to the Art World only as ZEL,

has broken his austere Vow of Silence to issue

a short communique on this, the Event, of one of his

rare appearances. For like the fabulous Phoenix of Legend,

or the humble Cicada of Summer, the ZEL is a creature

whose long periods of torpor are broken by rare appearances

to the surface world we inhabit.

We re-print the statement in it’s entirety;

ZELIKO MARIC

Zelico Maric was born in Croatia and grew
up in Mount Isa.
I DO IT BECAUSE IT IS F UN.
A hungry dog
chewed on the bones
of memory
On the seashore of desire.

Jabberwocks ZEL
***************************

ZEL- Novembers “Unsuspected Artist”

Figures ZEL

The Virtual Gallery presents

ZEL

2pm. Sunday, 30th November, 2014

Our Unsuspected Artist for November in the Virtual Gallery is one of the rarest and most elusive of the native artistic wildlife lurking unsuspected in the lush, sub-tropical undergrowth that is Brisbanes Cultural Landscape.

I speak of course, of the legendary and reclusive ZEL.

Jabberwocks ZEL

BlacknwhiteZELWorking unsuspected in hollow logs and underground burrows,

the ZEL emerges once every fourteen years to exhibit it’s

Work and eat free cheese at Art Exhibitions.

Later, they return en masse to the sea,

and so the Circle of Life is Complete.

Be sure to catch this amazing Natural Spectacle

in the VIRTUAL GALLERY

Sunday, 30th November, 2pm-4.30

91 Cordelia Street, West End.

Harlequin ZEL

home of the water rat

**********

October’s Unsuspected Artist: BRIAN GILMORE

The Virtual Gallery

"a cat of mine on ketamine"- Brian Glimore

“a cat of mine on ketamine”- Brian Gilmore

Each month the Kurilpa Poets feature the work

of various local ‘Unsuspected Artists’.

There are many lurking amongst us,

infesting our homes and streets and schools!

Corrupting our young people!

Lying around on Welfare sniffing paint-thinner!

So we splash these Artist’s Visions

in Beams of Gaudy Light across

the white-washed walls of the Olde

 Croquet Club, as a cautionary example 

for young people.

This month we’ll be showing more

oddities and classics from the collection of our eccentric

Visual Arts Director, Shane Kneipp.

And as well as the usual historical stuff,

from the Land of the Living,

our feature Unsuspected Artist forOctober is;

Brian Gilmore-

dimensional shift

Dimensional Shift- Brian Gilmore

Psychedelic Visionary

Lurking in his shambling Fortress of Solitude by the waters of Moreton Bay, few passers-by suspect that within these crumbling walls, a Mad Visionary has been relentlessly exploring the Edges of Reality for many years.

Brian’s meticulously detailed Imaginary Vistas

chart his heroic journeys through the Archtypal Planes

and the bizarre Inhabitants encountered there.

UFO

UFO-Brian Gilmore

Brian is rumoured to be the mysterious ‘Dr Bob’,

companion to the Reverend Hellfire on the occasion

of their abduction by Aliens.

http://reverendhellfire.wordpress.com/2012/03/11/ufo-a-tale-of-high-weirdness/

If these rumours are true, it would certainly explain

the Other-Worldly aspects and Multi-Dimensional

themes that abound in this artist’s work.

Or perhaps some weird bio-hallucinogen

lurks in his genetic structure, a familial trait

as it were, for Brians elder sibling himself was a former Pineapple from the Dawn of Time, no strangers they to Psychedelia.

insect attack

Space Insect Attack- Brian Gilmore

Yes, truly the Psychedelic Impulse

flows strong through the Gilmore veins.

So come tripping with Brian at the Virtual Gallery!

2pm Sunday 26th October, 2014

91 Cordelia Street, West End

-Unckle Rat

Spiral Universe- Brian Gilmore

Spiral Universe- Brian Gilmore

****************************

Gil Daley- KURILPA POETS, Feature Artist; 28th Sept

Gils firewalkers detailreduced

The Virtual Gallery

Each month the Kurilpa Poets feature the work of various ‘unsuspected artists’

(and there are many, infesting our homes and streets and schools!

Corrupting our young people! Lying around on Welfare sniffing paint-thinner!)

and we splash these Artist’s Visions in Beams of Gaudy Light across

the white-washed walls of the Olde Croquet Club.

This month we’ll be showing more Surrealist, Symbolist and general Obscurist

oddities and classics from the collection of our eccentric Visual Arts Director,

Shane Kneipp.

And as well as the historical stuff, from the Land of the Living,

our feature poet for this month is;

Gil Daley- Abstract Artist

cherry blossom spring sky reduced

Another Art-World Outsider, Gil has been quietly working

on her Abstracts on and off for years. Gil likes to let her Art speak for itself,

and is happy for people to put their own interpretations on her work,

but nonthless I asked her for a few words about her Art…

“Usually I work with Oils, Acrylic and Water-Colours on canvas.

The pieces are my interpretation of Nature.

I use brushes, sponges, palette knives

and my fingers to create my works.

I just enjoy expressing myself with colours”

Maybe it’s best if we let a few samples

from Sundays Virtual Gallery

speak for themselves for now. Enjoy..

Birds of Pardise-w red frame; Gil Daley
Birds of Pardise-w red frame; Gil DaleyBirds of Pardise-w red frame; Gil Daleycherry blossom spring sky detail reduced
golden years; Gil Daley thgorn gardencropcolourreduced

(All art displayed in this post is the  the work of Gil Daley)

*********

Surrealism; Poetry from the Id, Part 2

 KICI Art Director Shane Kneipp winds up his exhumation of the Surrealist movement

surreaalist elephant tuba

SURREALISM- Poetry of the Id. Part2

 

Giorgio di Chirico (1888-1978) was one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. At a time when the visual avant-garde was dominated by Cubism, Futurism and abstraction, di Chirico was the person who re-introduced representational art as a major player in the visual language of modernism.

In 1911, di Chirico spent a few days in the northern Italian city of Turin. He was struck, both by the clarity of the autumn light and the staginess of the city’s squares and plazas. As the critic Robert Hughes noted, what impressed him was not the permanence of classical Italian architecture, but its theatricality. At a time when the Italian Futurists were deploring the old Roman, medieval and Renaissance Italy and celebrating everything new, di Chirico’s painting reeked of nostalgia, but it was a nostalgia soaked in dread and melancholy,(a word that bobs up more than once in the titles of his works). . It is art that speaks of alienation and loss, along with a sense of mystery and apprehension.

surrealism01

The other main theme of di Chirico’s work was the mannequin. Here the recognisable individual has disappeared, replaced by a mute dummy, a composite of objects and mathematical devices, T.S. Eliot’s Hollow Men.

Alas!

Our dried voices, when

We whisper together

Are quiet and meaningless

As wind in dry grass

Or rats’ feet over broken glass

Di Chirico’s work was immensely influential and inspired practically every major Surrealist artist with the possible exception of Joan Miró. Max Ernst, René Magritte, Yves Tanguey, Man Ray, along with many others, all owed (and acknowledged) an enormous debt to di Chirico. In the early 1920’s di Chirico repudiated all his early work and started painting in a more traditional style.

surrealist fish

Although the Surrealists were hailing him rapturously as a Grand Master, he totally spurned their overtures. In later life, when strapped for cash, di Chirico would knock up a copy of one of his earlier metaphysical paintings, and sell it as an old work that he “happened to find under his bed”. Roman art dealers joked that his bed must have been a good two metres off the floor.

There was one artist above all (who also owed a debt to di Chirico) who became totally associated in the public mind with Surrealism and that was a Catalan named Salvador Dali. Dali was a man hell-bent on fame. He was also in the words of Robert Hughes, “… a great embarrassment, with the political views of Torquemada, the greed of a barracuda and the vanity of an old drag queen.”

A typically flaccid Dali painting

A typically flaccid Dali painting

Dali was the Id dragged screaming onto canvas. He had read and absorbed Freud and used him to illustrate his own considerable neuroses. The human body for Dali is an object of disgust, a vehicle of flaccidity and decay. Spanish Catholicism was probably as much an influence as Freud.

In 1929, Dali painted Le Jeu Lugubre (The Lugubrious Game) as his entrée into the Surrealist group. It caused a goodly degree of commotion, the main bone of contention being the man in the foreground with faeces-spattered underpants.

A solemn forum was convened to debate the issue of whether shit was an appropriate image of the subconscious. Dali contended-with a fair degree of right on his side, that you had to take the good with the bad, and lets face it, the subconscious is fairly swimming in shit. Dali won the day, and admittance to the group, but it would certainly not be the last time that the foetid imagery welling up from his turbid mind would create embarrassment and dissension.

 

As well as being a highly talented painter, Dali had a manic genius for publicity and provocation. He set out to fix himself firmly in the public mind as the face of Surrealism and he succeeded. These stunts could on occasion backfire, such as the time in London where he set out to deliver a lecture entitled Fantômes paranoiaques authentiques (Authentic paranoiac phantoms) whilst wearing a deep-sea diving suit. Unfortunately Dali had neglected to arrange to have someone actually supply oxygen to the suit, and he nearly suffocated before the helmet was unscrewed. Never mind, it merely added to the legend.

In 1931 Dali painted a work that was to become the Mona Lisa or Sunflowers of Surrealism, a painting tattooed into the public consciousness. The Persistence of Memory is only a small work, 24×33 centimetres, but its impact was huge. Flaccidity, one of Dali’s favourite themes predominates as the watches hang like “runny Camembert in the sun” to quote Dali himself. One watch is draped over a stylised self-portrait, Dali himself in a state of cheesy surrender. This painting achieved immediate fame and placed Dali firmly on the road to art super stardom.

dali50

Salvador Dali, The Persistence of Memory, 1931

Dali intended to exploit his notoriety to usurp Breton as leader of the Surrealists, but he underestimated the loyalty of the members of the group to Breton. In 1937, a “trial” was held and Dali was expelled from the group. This was ostensibly as a reaction to Dali’s Fascist leanings, (which were considerable, he supported Franco for a start), but it was equally likely that Breton was alarmed by the threat to his leadership. Breton may have won the battle, but Dali won the war. As far as the public at large was concerned, Dali was Surrealism. As time went by his work lost its former manic intensity and started merely going through the motions. Dali himself could always be counted on to provided good copy.

MEanwhile,Breton was keen to reconcile Surrealism’s message of personal liberation with the revolutionary theories of Karl Marx and in 1927, he joined the French Communist Party, along with other members of the group. It was not a happy relationship.

Socialist Realism was the officially preferred Party art and to achieve this aim Stalin had brutally repressed what had been a thriving and dynamic Russian avant-garde. As far as the Party was concerned Surrealism was the expression of “bourgeois individualism”. Breton was expelled from the Party in 1934. Things got worse the following year. The Surrealists were delegates at at the first “International Congress of Writers for the Defence of Culture”. The leader of the Soviet delegation was a writer named Ilya Ehrenburg.

Ehrenburg had violently attacked the Surrealists in a pamphlet, amongst other things calling them “pederasts”. Breton quarrelled with Ehrenburg and slapped him several times publicly in the middle of a Parisian street.

.surrealist gold fish bowl

Strong as the desire is to bitch-slap Stalinist hacks, it is hardly the way to win hearts and minds. The Surrealists were expelled from the Congress, completing their total split from the Communist Party. It was not a clean split. One of the Surrealists, the poet René Crevel was an ardent Communist but was also devoted to Breton.

Unable to reconcile this dichotomy and learning he had cancer, he gassed himself to death. In 1938 Breton irreconcilably burned his bridges with the Party. Travelling to Mexico as part of a French cultural mission, he befriended Stalin‘s arch-foe Leon Trotsky.

trotsky and sureealist

Together he and Trotsky wrote a manifesto, Pour un art révolutionnaire indépendent (For an Independent Revolutionary Art), although it was signed by Breton and Mexican artist Diego Rivera. In it they express the need for art to be an integral part of revolution, denounced fascism, Hitler and Stalin and called for a coalition between Marxists and anarchists.

After the Second World War Breton moved towards Anarchism, writing in 1952, “It was in the black mirror of Anarchism that Surrealism first recognised itself.”

Diego Rivera, Leon Trotsky and André Breton, Mexico 1938

Despite its many strengths, Surrealism had obvious flaws. Although there were many superb female Surrealist artists such as Dorothea Tanning, Leonora Carrington, Toyen and Remedios Varo, Surrealism was very much a boys club. Women existed as sexual and artistic Muses, or were dehumanised as sexual fetishes, such as Hans Bellmer’s the Doll. Hans Bellmer, La Poupée (The Doll), 1936 Dorothea Tanning, The Guest Room, 1952 Toyen, The Shooting Gallery, 1940

The Surrealists were also violently homophobic. (This was obviously one of the main reasons that Ehrenburg’s accusation of pederasty so offended Breton.) It was a resolutely hetero club, which created immense difficulties for members such as the unfortunate René Crevel who was expelled in 1923 because of his bisexuality, before being permitted to rejoin in 1929.

Breton’s homophobia was intensified by his intense hatred of Jean Cocteau, one of the leading gay artists and intellectuals in Paris at that time. Breton saw Cocteau as a dilettante who constantly ripped off Surrealist ideas. With the outbreak of World War 2, many of the leading Surrealists fled France, justifiably fearing their chances of survival under the Nazis.

Breton and others ended up in New York. Surrealist painters such as Roberto Matta and Max Ernst, who both ended up in America, had a considerable influence on such upcoming American artists as Arshile Gorky and Jackson Pollack. When Breton returned to Paris after the war he soon found that Surrealism was yesterday’s news.

Sensible as fleeing the Nazis was, people who stayed and resisted such as Albert Camus and Jean- Paul Satre were seen as occupying the moral high ground. Existentialism soon emerged as the leading philosophy of the post-war era. Undaunted, Breton carried on keeping the faith alive until his death in 1966.

fin

WhatIsSurrealism

Although Surrealism is long dead as a movement, its ghost is still rattling chains in the attic of the Collective Unconscious. From the Sixties on, its ideas are firmly embedded in the fabric of popular culture. Its stylistic influence on film for example can be seen in works is diverse as Yellow Submarine and Eraserhead. In music Acid Rock was obviously influenced by Surrealism and much of the more modern Techno/Trance music’s Sound is the aural equivalent to Dali’s Melting Watches.

What would most have warmed the cockles of Breton’s heart was the influence the spirit of Surrealism played in the popular uprising of workers and students in Paris in May, 1968. There, on the barricades, protesters flourished red and black banners adorned with the old Surrealist slogans –

 

ALL POWER TO THE IMAGINATION!

And –

 

BE REALISTIC- DEMAND THE IMPOSSIBLE!

surrel WINDMILLS

***

SURREALISM-the Poetry of the Id?

 Visual Arts Director for the Kurilpa Institute of Creativity, Shane Kneipp, preps us for the Kurilpa Poets 27th April tribute to the Surrealist Classics of yesteryear with this learned discourse..

Surrealism-

the Poetry of the Id

Hans bellmer's dollandre BretonDali lugubrious game

 

Although Surrealism in many ways grew out of the earlier Dada movement, it had wildly different aims and objectives.

Dada had largely been a reaction to the cretinous slaughter of the First World War. Its practitioners engaged in a joyous anarchic chaos, firmly convinced that nothing could be more chaotic or senseless than the meaningless carnage of an entire generation of Europe’s young.

Dada largely attempted to avoid any specifically official line on the grounds that it was open to individual interpretation. The one country where Dada did get politically involved was Germany, where, in the political chaos at the end of WW1, there was a strong polarity between left and right, and it was virtually impossible to avoid taking sides.

The official leftist parties however viewed Dada as a pack of raving ratbags and largely distanced themselves. Despite this the Dadaists became the most trenchant visual critics of Weimar Germany, as can be seen in the works of such artists as George Grosz, Hannah Hoch, Otto Dix and John Heartman. Hannah Hoch, Montage

Hannah Hoch Montage

Hannah Hoch Montage

Surrealism was from the start a much more focussed movement than Dada. It had a specific aim, no less than total human liberation, both spiritual and physical. Unlike Dada, which eschewed the very concept of leaders, Surrealism had at its head a man who was so very much in charge that he has often been referred to as “the Surrealist Pope”, André Breton.

Andre Breton, Surrealist Pope; in attendance, Cardinal's Dali, Ray and Bellmer

Andre Breton, Surrealist Pope; in attendance, Cardinal’s Dali, Ray and Bellmer

 

During WW1 he worked as a medical orderly in a neurological ward in Nantes, which treated victims of shell-shock. Many of these poor wretches reacted to the hell of the trenches by retreating into imaginary worlds. Acquainted with the theories of Sigmund Freud, Breton was greatly impressed by what he saw as the unconscious mind’s attempt to gain control over the conscious world.

This would lead to a rather unfortunate tendency among the Surrealists to romanticise the state of mind of people perceived as insane while overlooking the fact that mental instability is generally far from romantic for those suffering from it.

 

rabies victim suffering hallucinations (spiders added)

rabies victim suffering hallucinations (spiders added)

Toward the end of the war, Breton became involved with the Paris Dada group, whose leading lights included the Romanian poet Tristan Tzara and the artists Francis Picabia and Man Ray. Breton however became increasingly unhappy with Dada’s formlessness. In 1919 he founded a magazine, Littérature with fellow poets Louis Aragon and Phillipe Soupault. Many of their first experiments with surrealism (a term “borrowed” from poet and critic Guillaume Apollinaire) were published in this forum.

 

They began experimenting with “automatic writing” attempting to create unconsciously without the intervention of the conscious mind. (Similar experiments with automatic writing had been undertaken by poets such as William Butler Yeats, but with radically different aims. The Surrealists were attempting to communicate with the unconscious, Yeats, an ardent spiritualist, was attempting to communicate with the dead. All in all, you probably stand a better chance of getting through to the subconscious, but I couldn’t swear to it.)

Chrioco

In 1920 Breton and Soupault published Les Champs Magnétiques (The Magnetic Fields) a book written using automatic techniques, in which the chapter divisions are marked by the point where one writer has stopped and the other has taken up the text. A typical paragraph in (an English language version of) Les Champs Magnetiques is:

It was the end of sorrow lies.

The rail stations were dead, flowing like bees stung from honeysuckle.

The people hung back and watched the ocean, animals flew in and out of focus. The time had come.

Yet king dogs never grow old – they stay young and fit, and someday they might come to the beach

and have a few drinks, a few laughs, and get on with it.

But not now.

The time had come;

we all knew it.

But who would go first?

 

Although seemingly disjointed, one suspects that the authors had not entirely surrendered full conscious control.

Another huge influence on Surrealist technique was a 19th century poet, Isidore Ducasse who wrote under the name le Comte de Lautréamont. In 1869 Ducasse published the first segment of his most notorious work, a long, rather murky prose poem entitled Les Chants de Maldoror (The Songs of Maldoror).

Compte de Lautremont

(Amongst other adventurings, at one point he leaps into the ocean and fucks a shark, say what you like about evil, it definitely has balls!) The only known photograph of le Compte de Lautréamont. After Ducasse’s death Les Chants de Maldoror sank into obscurity until 1919, when Phillipe Soupault came across a copy at a Paris bookstall. For the Surrealists the book immediately became canonical.

One phrase in particular enthralled them –

As beautiful as the chance encounter of an umbrella and a sewing machine on a dissecting table.

 

(Some translations say operating table.) Regardless of the variety of table involved, this quickly became the Surrealist’s visual ideal, the chance meeting of disparate objects on a neutral plane. The first person to fully realise this ideal however, was Italian, and he had done so long before he ever heard of Les Chants de Maldoror.

 

Part2 of this essay will appear next week…

chicken man

********************************************************