Weekend links 179


Summer Swell (2007) by Fred Tomaselli. The artist is interviewed at AnOther.

• Mixes of the week for the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness: Forever Autumn Mixtape by The Outer Church, and celebrating what would have been Trish Keenan’s 45th birthday: Trish’s Toys & Techniques Birthday Tape (with cover art by Julian House).

Jirí Kolár: His Life, Work and Cultural Significance to the Czech Republic. Leah Cowan looks into the life and work of this influential Czech artist. Related: Jirí Kolár: poet and collage artist, and collages, rollages and prollages by Jirí Kolár.

• “Name any well-known poet from any age, any country. He or she wrote at least one poem about death, most likely several poems.” Russ Kick introduces his new book, Death Poems.

[M]any pictures in the splendid exhibition at the British Museum show men having sex with men. One of the earliest erotic handscrolls, from the 15th century, shows a Buddhist priest casting longing glances at his young acolyte. Indeed, among some samurai, male love was considered superior to the heterosexual kind. Women were necessary to produce children, but male love was purer, more refined.

The question is why were Japanese – compared not just with Europeans, but other Asians, too – so much more open to depicting sex? One reason might be found in the nature of Japanese religion. The oldest native ritual tradition, Shinto, was, like most ancient cults, a form of nature worship, to do with fertility, mother goddesses, and so forth. This sometimes took the form of worshipping genitals, male as well as female.

Ian Buruma on The joy of art: why Japan embraced sex with a passion. Shunga: Sex and Pleasure in Japanese Art is a forthcoming exhibition at the British Museum.

Harold Offeh on how the cosmic life and music of Sun Ra inspired the artwork decorating the Bethnal Green, Notting Hill Gate and Ladbroke Grove Tube stations in London.

• Fearful symmetry: Roger Penrose’s tiling by Philip Ball. Related: Penrose Tiles Visualizer, and lots more Penrose tiling links at The Geometry Junkyard.

Masculine / Masculine. The Nude Man in Art from 1800 to the Present Day, a new exhibition at the Musée d’Orsay.

• Into the Croation Zone: more derives from Christina Scholz here, here, and here.

Stephen Eskilson on Heteronormative Design Discourse.

Applied Ballardianism

The Zero of the Signified (1980) by Robert Fripp | The League of Gentlemen (Fripp/Lee/Andrews/Toobad, 1981): Minor Man (with Danielle Dax) | Heptaparaparshinokh

Alchemy & Inquiry


The Dust Blows Forward, The Dust Blows Back (2011) by Fred Tomaselli.

Artistic alchemy has been thriving in New York for the past few weeks. Alchemy & Inquiry is a show which has been running at the Glyndor Gallery, Wave Hill, the Bronx, since April, featuring paintings by Philip Taaffe, Fred Tomaselli and Terry Winters. “Alchemy” here is used in its broadest sense:

The word “alchemy” in the exhibition title alludes to transformation on many levels: chemical, magical and spiritual. Creative powers are summoned to transform common elements physically and metaphorically into substances of great value. With practices and insights that prefigure many important discoveries in biology, chemistry and physics, alchemy likewise fascinated and continues to fascinate poets and painters, serving as an allegory for the physical manifestation of immaterial spirit. This tradition unites the work of Winters, Tomaselli and Taaffe. (more)

A PDF catalogue containing commentary by the always enlightening Peter Lamborn Wilson can be downloaded here. A sample:

Certain extra-formal aspects of art cannot be ruled out as irrelevant to our experience of that art or to our understanding of it. A visitor from Alpha Centauri would not know that Tomaselli’s paintings actually contain real pills, maryjane leaves, spore prints, or whatever—real illegal drugs. But we earthlings cannot fail to consider this witty provocation when thinking about Tomaselli’s works. To own one of his paintings—if the Feds ever wanted to make an issue of it—would be, simply, a crime. Is a crime, actually. This fact adds nothing formal to Tomaselli’s art. But, oh, how much it adds, let’s say, conceptually. How much weight? What an aura.

If proof were needed, contra all the puritan anti-drug fascists and priests, that genuine mystical drug states are accessible via entheogenic drugs and various (illegal) ditchweeds, then we could enter Tomaselli’s paintings as evidence. The point is that if drugs could not do this then there would be no reason to make them illegal. Imagine: icons that are also reliquaries, containing edible body parts of vegetable saints, forbidden by the Babylonian Ugly Spirit, the eternal Mind Police.

The NYT reviewed the exhibition but missed a trick in not connecting it to the Alchemically Yours group art show which has been running at Observatory, Brooklyn throughout the past month. That show ends this weekend; Alchemy & Inquiry runs until June 19th. Thanks to Jay for the tip!

Previously on { feuilleton }
Alchemically Yours
Laurie Lipton’s Splendor Solis
The Arms of the Art
Splendor Solis
Amphitheatrum Sapientiae Aeternae
Cabala, Speculum Artis Et Naturae In Alchymia
Vision Quest
Digital alchemy

Weekend links 29


A Folies Bergère dancer, c. 1909.

Six Novels in Woodcuts: The Library of America publishes a boxed set of Lynd Ward’s works: Gods’ Man, Madman’s Drum, Wild Pilgrimage, Prelude to a Million Years, Song Without Words and Vertigo.

• RIP ace graphic designer Raymond Hawkey. Related: Raymond Hawkey: An eye for detail, and Hawkey’s James Bond cover designs from the mid-60s.

The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, an exhibition at Duke University, North Carolina, features work by 41 artists from around the world, from the 1960s to the present, using vinyl records as subject or medium.


The Île de la Cité, a steel engraving by Albert Decaris (1950).

Fred Tomaselli will have a new exhibition of his work at the Brooklyn Museum next month.

Socialist Monuments in Bulgaria photographed by Linda Ferrari.

• What would Howard think of the Mythos Art Dildo?

Space is Process, a film about Olafur Eliasson.

Thurston Moore’s Indie Books.

Chris Colfer in a leather bar.

Ephemeral New York.

• Chrome! Helios Creed’s YouTube channel.

Fred Tomaselli at White Cube


left: Summer Swell (2007); right: Big Raven (2008).

I like Fred Tomaselli’s hyper-detailed psychotropic paintings a great deal. Londoners can see an exhibition of new work at the Mason’s Yard branch of White Cube until 16 May, 2009.

Tomaselli’s new work is a departure from his earlier, more direct use of pills, hemp leaves or ornithological references. The birds are painted with greater freedom, with each flame-like brushstroke animating the feathers as if an aura were radiating from the wild creature. Big Raven is inspired by the American Gothic tradition and the poetry of Edgar Allan Poe, while Detail, with its dramatisation of the relationship between predator and prey, is a timely homage to Darwin’s Origin of the Species. The single, hypnotic gaze of Eye celebrates Tomaselli’s understanding of visual reciprocity – as if the bird were returning the artist’s affectionate stare. This reoccurs in the galaxies of multiple eyes found in his photograms, or monstrous apparitions created in direct response to front-page articles from the New York Times, through to the talismanic eye that emerges from the sea in Summer Swell, as if it were drowning in its own visual abundance.

Previously on { feuilleton }
The art of Fred Tomaselli