Monday, 14 January 2013

Jankel Adler

No Man's Land, 1943

Cleron, the Cat Breeder, 1925

 Composition, c.1943

 Landscape, 1953

 The Game, 1933

 The Poet

Ein Jude, c.1926

Jankel Adler was born in Tuszyn, near Łódź in 1895. His family were orthodox Jews, and he was the seventh of ten children. Having studied engraving with his uncle in Belgrade, Adler travelled throughout Europe, and took up a teaching post at the Academy of Arts in Düsseldorf alongside Paul Klee. Influenced by Picasso and Leger as well as Klee, Adler's art was inevitably labelled “degenerate” by the Nazis, and he fled Germany for Paris in 1933. None of his siblings survived the Holocaust. He enlisted with the Polish army when World War II broke out but was discharged due to health reasons, following which he settled in Scotland and later London. He died in Aldbourne in 1949. More on Adler: one, two, three, four.

Sunday, 30 December 2012

New music

Six new/reworked tracks up on Soundcloud, and I'd like to think they're a significant improvement on previous recordings. I'm frantically busy with my MA at the moment, but we'll hopefully play live again in the new year.

Sunday, 9 September 2012

Yet more Quay covers

Previously: one, two. And there's lots of their drawings and graphic work to be seen in this exhibition catalogue.

Saturday, 1 September 2012

Wallace Smith revisited

Julien Gorbach, who's writing a doctoral dissertation on Ben Hecht, very kindly sent me some images and articles by Wallace Smith (see this previous post) from the Chicago Literary Times, a paper established by Hecht in 1923. Some of these are credited to "Vulgus", but I'm pretty sure they're by Smith, whose Beardsley-esque line is far better suited to fantastical visions than to caricature. Julien describes Smith's articles as being " like the kind of thing you might see from the last few decades in an underground 'zine or comic mocking urban hipster culture," so the following is from one of his "Wise Cracks by Joe Blow" columns:
"They tell me where you have been hanging out with these Bohemians, like they call 'em," charged Bitter Bill, "and I look to hear any day where you have wrote a book or done a old master painting."
"Somebody has gave you a very wrong steer about the jolly land of Bohemia," replied Joe Blow. "Otherwise, you will be next where true Bohemians don't do the kind of things."
"I am on to these Bohemians account of some one tells me where they're making a book over on Washington Street. Naturally I mosey over to see if some new handbook bloke has opened up a racket. I am very dumb to make this play. Because it ain't a gambling joint at all, only a place where they print novels and poems named after colors and literature."
"But while I'm in there, i run into my friend, Language McCarthy, and the next thing I know I am eased into a crowd of these Bohemians. They ain't foreigners, like you think. Although now and then you do hear some very heathen dialects, at that. And I get into some artist studios and meet some of the girls and boys with bobbed hair.
"But I never do catch one of these jobbies doing any writing or any painting. The long suit of the Bohemian blokes is heavy conversation. The main privilege of being a Bohemian is telling off-color stories in a mixed crowd and getting away with it. And talking about things which usually are left to the sewing circle clinics.
"Besides that, they gab most about literature and painting. They are strong for free thinking, like they call it. You can see right away where the kind of thinking they use ought to be free; or, at least, have no very hefty price mark on it.

Music for Films

I've mostly been working on music lately so the illustration's taken a back seat, but I did manage to find time to put together an entry for this competition on the marvelous Venus febriculosa blog. The brief was to create an alternative album cover for Brian Eno's Music for Films, the original of which looks like this:

With little else to go on, and to introduce a (vaguely Eno-style) element of chance into the process, I chose 18 films - one for each album track - at random, and paused each one at the time corresponding to the track length. Some of these stills were then painted and/or digitally manipulated and combined in the final composition.

The result is certainly a long way from anything else I've done lately, but it's similar in some respects to the kind of painting I was doing several years ago. And although this kind of abstraction probably isn't representative of the direction my work is heading in, I'm beginning to see how I might combine paint and collage more effectively.


I neglected to mention it at the time as I wasn't sure how I felt about about the results, but I contributed some maquettes to an online exhibition curated by the artist Clive Hicks-Jenkins. This had me stumped for quite a while as it seemed like such a counter-intuitive way of working for me, but the process of making them sparked numerous ideas. And I enjoyed Clive's rather generous description of my maquette-beast! Good to see a contribution from my fellow ex-Stockport Colleger Janet Kershaw too.

I'm not sure how much time I'll have to spend on this blog over the coming year, but I will have the luxury of access to a university library...

Saturday, 16 June 2012

Fred Tomaselli

Having recently finished TechGnosis, Erik Davis's fascinating exploration of the various esoteric and mystical currents lurking within our supposedly rational technological society, I'm currently reading Nomad Codes, a superb collection of articles by the same author on, among other subjects, Philip K. Dick, Terence McKenna, Goa trance, African trickster gods, Lee Perry, H.P. Lovecraft, and Burmese transvestite "spirit mediums." The cover features the extraordinary psychedelic art of Fred Tomaselli, who incorporates pills and herbs (legal and otherwise) as well as fragments of found images into his paintings before coating them in resin and varnishes. His work also adorns the excellent Wounded Galaxies Tap at the Window LP by Cyclobe (bottom). See more at James Cohan Gallery and White Cube.

Saturday, 2 June 2012

Das Kabinett des Jan Švankmajer

A while ago I complained that the art of Jan Švankmajer wasn't easy to come by. This exhibition catalogue rectifies the situation with numerous reproductions of his collage chimaeras, photos of his "natural history cabinet" of fantastical creatures made from found objects, and stills from his short films and features.


Form Is Void recently posted an animated short, The Torchbearer, by Jan's son Václav Švankmajer, and it's a remarkable piece of work. Below are some of his paintings and collages, more of which can be found here.