Schnabel Flag & A Portrait

I decided to  switch to mostly using cloth napkins. While sheltering in place it makes it a little nicer when finding oneself at the same table meal after meal. When the second wave of people being sick hits and those without empathy become even more animalistic than they had shamefully been during the initial outbreak,  (paper napkins) it will be one less thing I have to worry about being hoarded and unenviable to me. I ordered a few extra packs online so i am not perpetually washing them.

One pack i got looked like the pattern of the type of pajamas Julian Schnabel wears out in public. By coincidence the night before they arrived I had a dream that he had come over. I had made tagliatelle with my Palermo sauce.  After eating we sat at the table not bothering about clearing it, talking. I doodled on a napkin. When it was time to go home, without asking permission, he took my napkin doodle .

I took one of these Schnabel napkins and tacked it to my studio wall like a flag. A flag under which I serve, a flag of a conquered nation. A totem that there are others out there who also live to serve the process.

 

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I just completed this portrait. I used multi-media paper. The most important aspect for all my work is that emotion comes through. The true is always beautiful and i do not think in my ever growing body of work there is one face that is not.

“This Moment” 9×12 Watercolor & Paper

thismoment

Collage

There is a lot of precision in my drawings & paintings. I have always been serious about my sculptures but those are of a completely different process. They are largely improvised on the spot using whatever materials I have around. Often, they are not meant to last.

Collage is fairly new medium to me. They fall somewhere between my paintings & sculpture.There is an element of surrealism in them that does not appear in my work of other mediums. Ahead of time,  I always have in my mind the composition but i also leave room for some improvisations.

My first collages were really large 22×30 inches. They were not meant to last which made it feel freeing. Eventually being all the remained, the photos of the work would themselves become the art.

I used glue sticks and scissors to create my works. With my paintings, they need few days to dry. With the collages as soon as I was finished I needed to snap some photos as pieces would begin curling, bubbling or falling off.

Right out of the gate i got the same feeling of serving the process I get in creating my other works. People were interested in obtaining the actual pieces and not just prints/photos of them.

I invested in several pairs of good scissors and started using adhesive which also coats the works surface as well. In reading up on adhesives I found there is controversy over where images for a collage come from. Depending upon the  country, there are things which are illegal or if not that then despite semantics, a jerky thing to do. Were my images to be lifted I know that I would not be happy about it. This brought about my decision to largely use images from photos which I myself took. An added advantage to this is that it often feels as if collage is not taken as seriously stateside. Collage seems to conjure up images of of someone with nothing to do clipping pictures out of magazines while watching television. Using my own photos bolsters the legitimacy as art form and not mere hobby.

Painting, sculpture, collage, it is never an either or for me. All are part of the whole. I do find my painting helps my achieve more volume and mass in my collages. Now, all my works cross influence and inspire each other.

For drawing I constantly change up what equipment i use, the idea being that I can create work when on the road and in under far from ideal situations ( a waitress’s pencil, the back of a paper bag et al) . A lovely letter from someone compared my collages to jazz. This planted the idea in my head to start doing smaller sized collages as to be able to do them on the road.  I could do them all in pages of a nice notebook, initially using easy to travel with glue stick and applying adhesive once back home.

I enjoy going for the density of composition, which I prefer in all my works, without letting it get too muddy and reduced to visual babel. The initial challenge of achieving this in smaller collage was great fun.

“Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz”

22×30 inches
We are all living under a fluorescent sky temporarily. To stay productive is a huge help. Anyone who can create beauty, now is the time to do so as a reminder of what we will eventually return to. I named this piece after composer/musician (a.k.a Fantastic Negrito) whose work mixes a deep soulfulness with the lament of the blues and some funk.
Composition wise I utilize my preferred density regardless of medium along w/the feeling of a sort of open ended narrative.

 

20200411_105920Xavier Amin Dphrepaulezz

“Self Portrait” 11×14

These are all photos I took and my first smaller collage. I was very pleased with the results.

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Paper

I had unintentionally lucked out. Where I lived in Paris had five art supplies stores all within a five to ten minute walk. Each was good for specific things.

One aspect of all which was nice was that each was for working artists, this was reflected in the pricing, quality and selection. All the places were “historic” except the one closest to me. This one was still good though, it just meant the Soutine had never bought his pencils nor charcoal there.

All the staff at each place are artists themselves but they are almost shy about it. There is none of the (sometimes) overbearing networking as occurs in North America. I became Pals with Quintin. He finally showed me some of his work. intricate ink on paper works. I did not just offer up the small talk compliments but discussed technique with him which cemented our friendship.

After that, for years, every time I went into his shop I would get the sale price plus employ discount on my basket full of stuff.

A few years ago I went in early in the morning on my way to an afternoon of sketching and heavy lunching. We chatted and at first he seemed distracted but after a few minutes of talk it became clear it was more a type of embarrassment.

He was going to follow a girl he liked, really liked, to Ibiza where he would also work on his graphic novel. It was unclear if they would take him back on the staff when he eventually returned to Paris. I should load up as much as possible now as to take advantage of the deep discount.

It was the end of an era. Most likely a mistake on his part but that and/or an over earnestness is right of passage for youth as they find their way. I put things in my basket, he handed me blocks of watercolor paper. Seeing me doing math in my head, assured me not to worry about it.

Standing at the counter i knew to let the woman behind me go first, feigning to have forgotten something.

We were alone now, we shook hands. He turned around and grabbed a bunch of stuff off the backboard which he put in my swollen bags. Shaking hands, we exchanged information.

Back in my studio looking at all the stuff he gave me, I was pretty sure they would not be having him back. I had blocks of 7×10 French cotton paper which became one of my mainstays. I had so much of it that it lasted me several years.

I am constantly, from piece to piece switching what paper I use as it keeps things fresh. I do not know how it works for others but in my head i envision a piece before executing it and this vision includes its size too. This has kept my piles of paper dwindling but at a leisurely pace.

Despite plans already solidified, shelter in place finds me on the wrong side of the ocean, Paris right now for me as for most, just a magical daydream. I am very fortunate to be able to continue to work though. My stateside studio has taborets full of supplies.

Since I am going to be around, as i mulled over a new piece I carefully emptied them as to dust inside them. Something which was more busy work to contemplate by than actually needed. To my surprise I found that I had finally reached the end of my Quentin paper! It is all right I have plenty of other paper but this was, for me, the best cotton paper.

I decided to get a new paper to try, a 9×12 non-cotton paper. Right off the bat I enjoyed using the paper. It handles different from my French cotton paper but still enjoyable. Using the new paper, despite all going on, I get that familiar pleasure of serving the process & my craft. I hope Quintin is on some Spanish beach with his hippy chic drinking wine and looking out at the sea, I hope that I find myself walking around my arrondissement sooner than later.

 

“Blue Pillow” 9×12 Watercolor & Paper (new paper)

“Hand Selfie” 8×5 watercolor & Paper

 

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Hero

This is the face of a nurse showing the effects of wearing a mask 65 hours worth of shifts in six days. She is one of many heroes putting it on the line for strangers asking for nothing, no glory or even mention, in return.

 

There will be no parades, nor most likely can we ever adequately thank all who acted without hesitation to try to make a difference. In my more jaded moments, I imagine once this is over, people like her finally wearily able to take a moment to sit down as throngs of people rush past them, not even slowing down as to get to the store to buy armloads or microwave pizza pockets or to the beach to take side standing poses to post on Instagram. That’s probably at least for North America, close to the truth. The hope however is that going forward  we find a better way from how we were as a society, “returning to normal” not necessarily a good thing.

I thank and salute these people regardless of how collectively they are treated after the fact.

 

This is watercolor on 9×12 paper. I used a brand new paper which I liked and will continue to use.

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Hamachi & Suntory

I am not a fan of musicals. However it will never cease to make me laugh at how everyone spontaneously breaks into song & dance. I understand this is the gist and nature of a musical but it always seems to pleasantly jarring, especially if you are watching one of the classic Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly ones for first time.

For a novice, what makes it strange is that it is one part movie, then singing and dancing, then they all go back into whatever the scene was.

Two Pals walking along the Seine:

How was your date last night?

Well, let me tell you pal

Then they start singing down the street being joined in synchronized dance by traffic cop, flower vendor, newspaper vendor and couple who happened to be passing by and one waiter in his black and whit,e bottle opener chain looping from waist to pocket.

All these characters drop behind two lead characters, into a synchronized formation while the two friends dance and sing. The music stops, then everyone reverts back to what they had been doing in this street tableau.

So…are you going to see her again?

I keep busy and productive. When i let my mind wander, I try keep it if not positive, then at least interesting. When the world can move on from the main thing on our minds being the Pandemic, once I know everyone is safe and receiving any help needed, what then?

I softly laugh to myself, once everything is taken care of, I will be as if in a musical, making my way through the city stopping multiple times for sushi and drinks, singing a song about it.

This is one of my larger pieces 17×17 graphite & paper.

 

hamachonehamachtwohamachthreehamachfourHanachianssuntori

 

 

Green Clogs

The nature of fame has changed. Like a lot of things, it’s properties are no longer agreed upon facts. Where once it was tied in more with the possessor’s talents and the work put into achieving the abilities, now it is often more align with coveting the “fame”.

The reality star/internet influence is largely the ultimate ambition of an entire generation. A main element of this phenomenon is the “look at me/look at what I have” aspect. It allows for feeling good about oneself without having to really work (i.e practice to become the best guitarist et al). This new fame is done by of looking down on those without while also being watched.

Social media (Instagram etc etc) is full of postings of people showing others their fab lives even if it’s largely artificial. People taking photos of their tropical vacation, Parisian jaunts. (mostly) They are not trying to show you the poetry of the sights but rather what they have that you don’t, where they are but you are not.We should all try to be the best version of ourselves but this is perversion of that concept, people putting forth an idealized, artificial version.

There is a company now where you can rent a private jet by the hour, it doesn’t go anywhere, it is for photo ops, so you can post photos of yourself chin on hand gazing out plane window or leaning back in plush leather seat champagne in hand smiling at the start of your adventure to nowhere.

The zeitgeist? Immediately pre pandemic a celebrity gave her boyfriend half a million dollars in cash, putting it up on social media. Putting aside whether the money was earned, in what way is any purpose served aside  from “look what I have”? (although Marie Antoinette didn’t actually say it, and the proper translation is brioche not cake) if ever there was a “Let them eat cake” moment that was it. Art should inspire. Even bad art can inspire as the viewer feels that they can make a better painting, write a better song etc. There is no discernible culture involved in any of this. For now we all live in self imposed exile and the “celebrity” peacock(ing) to some extent continues, albeit from living rooms and bedrooms.

My studio windows face a new building with the same color scheme as mine. People go out onto their little Juliet balconies to drink coffee and smoke. They are too far away to talk to but we have now all become part of each others daily lives via our mutual observation. I can chat while painting but I am also simultaneously absorbed into the process so I do not mind being a show for neighbors.

It will be interesting once we are all through this, to see whose values change.

Of course I have no idea of their web presence and its content but I have yet to see anyone leaning back against the railings of their balcony glass champagne in hand looking up, duckbill faced to raised phone, snapping a selfie.

One of them, i have noticed seems to have learned my easel working hours. We have a tacit understanding, I do not mind her watching and I do not ogle her when, on sunny days she walks around in the nude. We sealed our social contract with a series of casual waves.

I have started working big. I will not switch the usual scope of my pieces but I like the occasional challenge to keep things fresh. I slip a larger piece into my oeuvre now and then. I am still learning my preferred paper, trying a new one with each large piece.   I do have my method down and size too. The large pieces are all 22×30.

Regardless of size and subject of my piece, I seek to convey beauty from the real.

 

“Green Clogs” 22×30 Watercolor & Paper

 

20200319_08504420200322_13154220200327_100109Greenclog

 

 

 

M Shelter in Place

The building across the way from my *studio, I had used images of it in my last large collage. I knew to Wait for no one to be around as to not have my phone being pointed in that direction misconstrued.

When it is my painting hours I am now sometimes watched by others  from their Juliet balconies. At first it was just something for them to do while getting some air, cup or coffee or smoke in hand. After first week of this i know there developed some curiosity about what I was working on.

Now, when I finish a piece I turn it towards the window so that they may from their concrete and steel nests, see it.

I am currently working on a large 22×30 painting. I must go slower as its new paper to me and the weather has been wet. So far I am pleased with the results.

During tough times I think it important anyone capable of creating beauty to do so. Not as a means of distraction but rather a reminder of what we eventually will return to once the crisis is over (beauty/culture). It is the reaffirmation that as long as the night seems, there will eventually be a dawn.

Beauty & culture also serve as a reminder during a crisis of who we are, not merely people trying to survive but a small part of a greater whole.

*I have live/work studio and am not breaking quarantine

This piece is 9×12 Watercolor & Multi Media Paper.

 

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Fa-Flex

The propaganda aspects of a lot of renaissance art has been lost to the more casual peruser of paintings and sculpture. The shorthand of what they were doing has now become that Michelangelo, da Vinci et al were presenting the physical ideal. The ideal being equated to something to strive for regardless of its impossibility.

Part of the magic of painting which started with the immediate precursors to   impressionism (Courbet, Fantin Latour, Millet) was that they were begging to slowly move away from the subjects when not a still life or landscape being restricted to  those of myth, biblical or historic. The heroic, idealized.

When the Nazi occupation of France became inevitable there was a scramble to get the high profile residents, thinkers, politicos and artists to safety. Matisse was on this list. At the last minute he backed out of fleeing, saying:

“If everyone who has any value leaves France, what remains of France?”

After the fact asked to expand upon what he meant in greater detail he cited culture not personality as what he had been getting at. If the abstracts which gives us pleasure, define us and add to us are gone then what is the point?

Unfortunately in current times art and culture by default often is associated with an elitism. Art has a duty, not in the sense of promoting a message or agenda though. Now is the time for any who can, to create something of beauty. And if you can’t, it is of equal importance to appreciate and enjoy it.  The purpose art and beauty can serve now has changed since the renaissance. None of it should be tied in with any sort of “ideal”. It represents something not necessarily perfect, an impossibility to be striven for but rather something outside of ourselves, the “I” becoming part of a greater whole.

This should bolster the thought that no matter how bad things get, we all have to live with ourselves when it’s over and back to normal. Paraphrasing Matisse’s train of thought, to lose what we value about ourselves as a society just to stay around, well what would be the point?

W.Wolfson 2020

“Fa-Flex” Watercolor & French Cotton Paper 7×10

 

Fa-Flex

 

 

Dorothy Dreams of an America Gone

Most of my pieces are only 11×14 at the biggest. I have begun to branch out doing the occasional larger pieces. The main impetus behind this was wanting to leave my comfort zone. To always work in a manner in which one knows they will succeed is to risk lapsing into mere mannerism(s).

I have also started to delve into doing collage. It is a new medium for me but one which I already really enjoy. I take it as serious as the rest of my visual work. I go real old school, utilizing scissors and glue stick and photos which I took, eschewing any kind of Photoshop magic.

An appeal for me is that I can achieve the density which I prefer in my work along with a sort of open ended narrative.

This is my second piece

Dorothy Dreams of an America Gone 22×30 inches

Dorothydreamsgoneanerica

 

 

Blue Pillows

With my work, I prefer a certain degree of density. The great thing about watercolors is that they allow for this density but in conjunction with a delicacy inherent to the medium.

Often I like the viewer to feel as if they are ease dropping upon a scene. It ads to the emotional cadence of a piece to not have anything explicitly spelled out. When walking through Paris, one will see these little vignettes play out in endless variations, their true meaning unknown to all except the direct participants.

It is a give and take as equally, I have found myself a player on this urban-impromptu stage. Being watched as I lean against the balcony railing, doing dishes in the back-facing kitchen or sitting up late at night reading in bed, mine just another square of light and gentle activity among the mosiac.

This piece is 9×12 watercolor & multi media paper.

 

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