Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving Thoughts: Laura Battle at Lohin Geduld; Bono and Spiderman; Van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece

[Laura Battle, Numinosum, made 2010; all images by Battle are copyright of the artist, who is represented by Lohin Geduld Gallery, NYC]
[Battle, Charm, 2010]
[Battle, detail from Timeline, 2010]

[Van Eyck's Adoration of the Mystic Lamb, in St. Bavo Cathedral, Ghent, Belgium, completed 1432]

Thanksgiving here in the U.S.A.-- a calm, grey Hudson outside our window as we prepare a feast for friends. We thank the winds and tides that have brought us all together. We thank each other for each other. We thank creators for bringing beauty into the world.

One creator who grabbed our attention earlier this week is Laura Battle, whose third solo show of paintings and drawings opened Nov. 17 at Lohin Geduld. If you are in NYC, make this show a priority--it closes December 23.

Battle takes us to new territories, mapping them with the precision of NASA and the imagination of Paul Klee. (In Battle's deft hands, Klee's "taking a line for a walk" is given fresh discipline and direction.) Her images grip us with their finely balanced tension between exactitude and intuition. She uses color subtly, as the suffused substrate for the trajectories of her lines and glyphs, as the field for controlled wanderings. These are cadastral surveys of new-found places...places we want to go.

For more,
click here and click here.

Another blessing this week: Peter Schjeldahl's article in The New Yorker
on the restoration of van Eyck's Ghent Altarpiece ("The Flip Side; The Secrets of Conserving the Wood Behind an Early Masterpiece," Nov. 29, pp. 42-47). Schjeldahl reminds us of "the eloquence of van Eyck's glazes, which pool like liquid radiance," which "generate a sweet and mighty visual music."

His main focus, however, is on the restoration of the altarpiece--the first in over fifty years--being done by an international team of all-stars funded by The Getty Foundation's Panel Paintings Initiative. Schjeldahl details all of the craftsmanship and connoisseurship that goes into making and preserving a piece like the Ghent Altarpiece. The wood bends and exhales, the paint blisters and seams, the restorers battle to mend and prevent.

Schjeldahl emphasizes the tactile nature of art-making and of art's enjoyment, an artisanal turn in a world where sight is privileged. The restoration experts distinguish themselves here "from academics who are numb to the muscular feel of planes and chisels wielded with hair's-breadth precision."

Another item that struck us this week: the Broadway version of Spiderman is nearing its opening, directed by Julie Taymor, with music by Bono and The Edge.

Bono is quoted in the NY Times (Nov. 23, article by Patrick Healy):

“We’re wrestling with the same stuff as Rilke, Blake, ‘Wings of Desire,’ Roy Lichtenstein, the Ramones — the cost of feeling feelings, the desire for connections when you’re separate from others...[...] If the only wows you get from ‘Spider-Man’ are visual, special-effect, spectacular-type wows, and not wows from the soul or the heart, we will all think that we’ve failed.”

I am not sure about Rilke, but I believe Blake would have liked the Spiderman epic...I can absolutely imagine Blake etching, lettering and inking Peter Parker, Mary Jane Watson, Doc Oc, and The Green Goblin, maybe including the story in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell or The First Book of Urizen.

Happy Thanksgiving to all.

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