Monday, September 10, 2012

The Grand Adventure

The idea of having a picture before me (or in my head) and forcing the painting to look like it has never really been my cup of tea. Though that struggle may be very rewarding in many ways, I have always preferred the adventure of not knowing where the journey ends, at all. When I paint, I'd like the paintings to surprise me, and they often do – occasionally even in a positive way.

The most adventurous thing I know is to walk a forest path without knowing where it ends. Those who did that in a time when we knew less about the world must have found it fantastic. The possible imaginary outcome of following a trail today is somewhat limited compared to what it was like in the middle ages, or even earlier. Just the notion of being in the woods, not knowing for sure, which kinds of beasts (or trolls?) lives there, is thrilling. I'm typically very satisfied with beholding the variation of plants wherever my steps take me, but the element of surprise is certainly a nice bonus.

Generally though, I think adventure is a state of mind, much more than exotic events and locations. It is an openness, I feel – an excitement of experience which comes when one is able to not take things for granted, and dare let go of control. Adventure is about being present and not constantly anticipating the next moment. When there is no plan, all moments look fresh. Well, something like that, anyway.

This one may be a little saturated on information, but I enjoy it anyway. It is 'The Grand Aventure'.

'The Grand Adventure' - Acrylics on Canvas - 100 x 81 cm - Niklas J Brandow
'The Grand Adventure' - Acrylics on Canvas - 100 x 81 cm - Niklas J Brandow (Sold)

Clicking the image for a closer encounter is highly recommended.

Friday, September 7, 2012

I spy, with my little eye...

I never really decided to do abstract art. It was just something that happened as I opened up the doors and welcomed what I found there. For that reason, I don't mind when people see things in my work, and it is no problem when obvious figures appear, among the otherwise nameless forms. I try to be as honest and simple as I possibly can, and if that means saturated pinks and kittens, then so be it.

This piece has one such element, which several viewers have spotted. I'm not sure if it is coincidental, or in line with my sub- or unconscious will of expression. Can you also see it in there? ...and if you can, do you find it disturbing or helpful?

I call this piece 'Sounded his Trumpet'.

'Sounded his Trumpet' - Acrlics on Canvas - 54 x 65 cm - Niklas J Brandow
'Sounded his Trumpet' - Acrlics on Canvas - 54 x 65 cm - Niklas J Brandow (Sold)

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Contemporary as Hell!

One saying, which is doubtlessly true, is that; The brain is like a sponge. It sucks up and is filled with whatever surrounds it. With a little self-analysis it is quite evident that one's thoughts, tastes, and preferences are shaped by the milieu in which one spends time.

So, we currently have this thing called contemporary art, which is a label as strange and illogical as modern, and post-modern art. The good thing about art today is that artists can deal with all subjects and all techniques, and pretty much get away with it. Though there are certainly limitations in most cultures, artists world-wide have at their disposal more diverse tools, subjects, and arenas than ever before. What I find regrettable though, is that the label 'contemporary art' seems to impose a certain number of restrictions upon the art welcome in the contemporary arena.

One gets the feeling that (regardless of the very diverse materials and subjects) we have limited the contemporary epithet to a certain style or expression. I can't really put it in words, but it is evident to me, as I browse the contemporary scene (at least in northern Europe), that what I see looks a certain way. So called contemporary galleries show specific styles of art. They show painting, sculpture, video, installation, happenings, events, and all sorts of techniques for sure, but no matter what kind of art they exhibit, it is kept within a certain frame of expression, which seems to have remained the same for quite some years now.

If I take the beginning of this post into consideration, and include the natural tendency of human beings to find a sense of belonging, it seems we have ended up with a self-feeding, self-repeating kind of contemporary art culture, which is far from as inventive and “post-post-modern” as it would like to be.

I personally enjoy hoping, that by now, we have the ability to move beyond fashion and style in the world of art, to welcome all kinds of contemporary expression under the label of 'contemporary', or even better, no label at all. The strength of these times is a broadened acceptance and openness for the great variety and possibilities of human expression. We are moving beyond the tribal consciousness of the past, and into a new kind of freedom. Simultaneously some groups seem to have decided that “contemporary” looks and is a certain way... and unless you perform your song in this particular dialect, you are not really a contemporary artist (according to them), which is no less than saying; you do not fit in this moment or age. 

My question is naturally, how can you not be a contemporary artist, living now? Surely, if you do not dwell in the blogs, magazines and exhibitions of late very often, your brain will not learn (ape) this language, and your artistic expression will look unfashionable or simply strange to the regulars, no matter how good an artist you are.

Art should be an expression from the impression of life, primarily, I believe. Much of the art I see, seem to be the result of other people's art (rather than life) and that makes it art-ificial in my opinion.

Looking at my own art, I wonder if people think of it as contemporary? Perhaps some do, but I suspect most do not. The question, I think, is a failure in itself. To understand and communicate with this contemporary time and culture, we must look at all the ideas, expressions, and styles of all kinds of artists alive today. All these are the contemporaries. The contemporary is not a wish to find something which hasn't been before, or to escape the past. Nor is it a certain style which appeared a decade or two ago. The contemporary is – or should be – all the voices rising naturally out of the current climate.

There, for example, I see a man painting icons exactly like they did centuries ago. He does it now, because now it is meaningful to him. He isn't imitating the past because he has failed to recognize the present. He does it as a direct result of his contemporary culture. The stress and consumerism of today brought him to it. It is not an escape but a work and a voice. That is as contemporary as it gets – a natural expression of current impressions. If he did the same motifs, for the same reason, but with the dyed seeds of genetically modified corn, or on the green surface of Las Vegas game tables, he might actually be welcome, but his deep, genuine commitment, devotion and skill is hardly taken into account. It simply isn't “contemporary” enough... by some people's ideas of what contemporary art is supposed to be, or look like. In that way they limit and choke our breathing. Thus they make sheep out of lions.

Please, Mr Artworld, whoever you are, remove these masks behind which you have been hiding for so long. If that means you can no longer reinvent yourself to a salable concept, then so be it. It is time you expose your simplicity, and lay bare your entire rainbow of wonder.

Monday, September 3, 2012

The Heart of Art

As I had finished this painting, knowing it was done, I was sort of unimpressed by it. A few days later my mind had changed and I started to enjoy it quite a lot. I'm not sure how well it comes through here, but there is a sober calm over this piece, which attracts me. Like most of my work it contains a lot of visual information, but it is comparatively still. Also, the dominating blue colors make for a certain peacefulness. I personally had to look at it for a few days before it spoke to me. What kind of time can you spare? ; )
'Protectors of the Heart' - Acrylics on Canvas - 81 x 100 cm - Niklas J Brandow
'Protectors of the Heart' - Acrylics on Canvas - 81 x 100 cm - Niklas J Brandow

 Click to enlarge.