Welcome to the French Riviera

Bah oui. Ze French Riviera….

It actually is as beautiful here as in the postcards. But don’t take my word for it – a picture says more than a thousand words.

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One of the streets in the old city of Hyères

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Hyères will be my home for the next three weeks – I am the artist in residence at LMStudios where I have the run of a quirky, centuries-old little house in the historic part of town. This includes a gallery on the ground floor where I exhibit my own works.

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The gallery sitting aspect of this residency is my least favorite part. I find it quite excruciating to represent and sell my own work. Give me another artist’s work that I admire and I can be an amazing salesperson. I believe people fall into three categories as far as galleries go – first you have the totally oblivious passerby like this gentleman below who stood for a good five minutes at the entrance of the gallery reading his daily!

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The majority of passersby fit into the second category – those who look in through the glass vitrines but are deathly afraid to enter – either from fear or discomfort. And lastly there’s the tiny minority whose radar is open to the existence of art and dare to step foot inside!

Because I just arrived, the work I hung in the gallery are small format works I brought with me until I start producing work here (I’m not sure yet what direction my works will take). The surroundings need a while to simmer. A very interesting local gentleman  popped into the gallery on my first day.

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My multi-media series on African women appealed to him greatly. My first sale of the morning was from that series. See below.

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Au revoir until next time!

 

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MIAMI BASEL – A TEASER

WYNWOOD WALLS BASEL

Art Basel Miami is THE North American art event of the year. It’s hard to overstate its hype and importance in the art world. Over 250 international and US galleries are represented, drawing more than 70,000 visitors to Miami. Every establishment in the city hitches a ride on this massive event. It’s an opportunity for anyone involved in art, food, culture and fashion to shine. I got a sneak peak at one small sliver of Art Basel at Wynwood Walls.

WYNWOOD WALLS

Wynwood is the artsy/funky/upcoming neighborhood in Miami that boasts wall art that goes way beyond graffitti. In fact some of these magnificent wall paintings are protected 24/7 by uniformed guardians. I came across a number of selected artists for Wynwood Basel hard at work completing their giant commissions.

There were some truly magnificent walls. Here is a small selection.

Wynwood Walls
Wynwood Walls

One of my favorites was a clever take on Picasso’s famous bull composed of found objects:

Another 20′ wall was painted to advertise an exhibition at a nearby gallery. Impressive.

Next year I hope to get more than just a tiny taste of this global art destination.

Let’s welcome the New Year in with a smile. Say cheese!

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New works for Paris show

Up up and away napa

Since returning from my artist residency in Auvillar, France, I have had my nose to the grindstone, preparing forty works for a show in Paris next May with Carre d’artistes gallery. This is a departure for me in terms of technique, commercial output, and most difficult for me, sticking to a unified theme.

watch where you step

The gallery only shows square formats and specifies four different sizes their artists have to adhere to. The largest is 19″ square. I am working on wood in mixed media – photo transfer, collage and paint, and experimenting with resin coating. I am going for a French-inspired, contemporary look, with an eye to fuse art/fashion/social media imagery with a cheeky narrative.

French Cinderella

It’s very fiddly work but I am enjoying it when not panicking about the deadline. My studio is strewn with magazines, old stamp albums and all manner of source materials. More details about the exhibition as I get closer to the date.

Gotta get back to work!

flower mouth

Lisbon, artfully yours

Lisbon offers the visitor grandiose vistas from its seven hills, gastronomic pleasures from the sea, Old World charm, friendly people, fado music and relatively mild weather. For the art seeker, Lisbon’s most iconic artform – hand-painted tile or azulejos – is in plain view. However, tapping into the contemporary art scene takes some sleuthing. I did some digging and uncovered some real finds.

PART I : SKIN DEEP

Lisbon owes much of its charm to the tiles that grace the exterior and interior walls of its buildings. Turn down the alleyways of Chiado or Baixe and the tilework will take your breath away.

The infinite variety of imaginative graphic designs are reminders of the city’s early Moorish influence when the Berber and Arab armies conquered Lisbon in 714 AD.

Christian crusaders invaded in the 12th century, bringing their traditional aesthetics that were eventually reflected in tile art over the next few centuries.

Unfortunately, Lisbon was totally destroyed in 1755 by an earthquake and tsunami. All the wondrous tile facades around the city therefore date back only to the mid-18th century yet they still impart the city’s eclectic history.  I was told that Lisbon’s current mayor encourages international graffiti artists to add their contemporary marks on the city’s ancient walls.

(I didn't need too much prompting - the clothing stores were pretty funky!)
(I didn’t need too much prompting – the Lisbon clothing stores were pretty funky!)

PART II : BEYOND THE WALLS

A visit to the Coleção Berardo Museum of Contemporary Art in the Belem district is like walking through a visual Cliff Notes of 20th century art – the line up was impressive: Giorgio de Chirico, Tom Wesselman, Andy Warhol, Cy Twombly, Torres-Garcia, Morandi, Philip Guston, Rothko, Jean Tinguely, and ad infinitum.

Striking a pose in James Turrell's 1969 Fargo, Blue, one of the early works that set the precedent for experiential viewer participation that is the greatest art trend of the 21st century to date.
Striking a pose in James Turrell’s 1967 Fargo, Blue, one of the early works that set the precedent for experiential viewer participation that is the dominant art trend of the 21st century to date.

The Gulbenkian Foundation is a must-see for its twin museums (modern and contemporary) located within a lushly landscaped property in the center of the city. It appears to be a favorite Sunday outing for Lisbon families and it was lovely to see kids on scooters and little tricycles riding past some seriously avant garde art.

Crawling out of an interactive exhibit. The things I do for art's sake....
Crawling out of an interactive exhibit. The things I do for art’s sake….

Although I highly enjoyed these museums I was beginning to despair of finding some fresh new galleries and underground art scene. I lucked out at a restaurant one night when a fellow diner pointed me in the direction of Galeria Graça Brandão in the sleazy bar and night club area. The gallery represents young local artists working in installation and video. From there I was directed to the little known Carpe Diem, a magificent, crumbling palace whose ornately detailed rooms now house cutting edge conceptual works.

Floor installation, Carpe Diem
Floor installation, Carpe Diem
Painting installation, Carpe Diem
Painting installation, Carpe Diem

I’ll wrap up with a few recommended galleries in the Xabregas enclave : Murias Centeno, Baginski, Filomena Soares and Ar Solido. In the Campo de Ourique district, check out Caroline Pages Gallery and Bajinsky.  A reminder to any readers who have favorite art haunts in Lisbon – please share. And to the beautiful city of Lisbon and the cute airbnb apartment I stayed in, I say, obrigada!

“Go big or go home!”

Ai Weiwei, Iron Tree, 2013.

According to one influential art critic, “Go big or go home” was the underlying theme at this year’s FIAC – the French International Fair of Contemporary Art, celebrating its 40th year in Paris. Anxious to re-establish its relevancy, FIAC seems to be making a comeback on the global art map. Judging by the oversized artworks on display, I wouldn’t be surprised if this year’s FIAC showstoppers could be seen from space.

Chinese artist Ai Weiwei’s Iron Tree (above) is a good example of FIAC’s supersized sculptures. Weiwei is by far one of my favorite contemporary artists. He likes to think big – very very big.

Artist Weiwei holding handfuls of the millions of porcelain sunflower seeds that make up his installation 'Sunflower Seeds' at the Tate Modern
Artist Weiwei holding handfuls of the millions of porcelain sunflower seeds that make up his installation ‘Sunflower Seeds’ at the Tate Modern

However, while talking to a talented fellow ceramicist today, I was dismayed by his blanket statement about there being no point in his trying to get into galleries because “they just want big”. I take issue with that. Artists these days have to be wary of falling into the trap of thinking that ‘bigger is always better’.

One successful artist who has followed his passion for the other end of the size spectrum is Thomas Doyle who, in his own words, sculpts in “1:43 scale and smaller” (see image below):

Publications such as Newsweek and the Wall Street Journal laud Doyle’s illustrious international career based on his tiny worlds. I was naturally very excited to have him select one of my 4″ high figurines (see below) for the upcoming Small Worlds exhibition opening December 7th at the Target Gallery in the Torpedo Factory, Alexandria.

Goose that Laid the Golden Egg

Likewise, my tiny 5″ x 5″ portrait entitled Le Parisien (below) just won second place in the small format section of the Mortimore Prize for Realism in Australia.

Parisien I medium

Thinking on a gargantuan scale often means that the artists cannot possibly produce the works by themselves. They need to hire a team of assistants to create their masterpieces. I personally would miss making things with my own hands – after all, that’s what drew me to art in the first place.

So for those of us artists who often enjoy creating on a small scale, and for those art appreciators who like to experience artwork of an intimate size, let it be known that we are not going home!

My figurine 'Wet Dreams', recently sold through Susan Calloway Fine Art, Washington DC
My figurine ‘Wet Dreams’, recently sold through Susan Calloway Fine Art, Washington DC
Irit Ovadia Rosenberg suspends tiny clay fragments overlaid with multiple glazes and her signature prints. Currently at Tova Ossman Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel.
Irit Ovadia Rosenberg suspends tiny clay fragments overlaid with multiple glazes and her signature prints. Currently at Tova Ossman Gallery, Tel Aviv, Israel.

“Double Vision” Opening

Last night was the opening reception of Double Vision, at Luke & Eloy Gallery featuring fourteen multi-disciplinary artists including myself! silence-please-stillYou can pan the various works in the exhibition, including my ceramic book and video (still image on left) thanks to gallerist/curator Brigitte Martin. Just take note that the sound of maddening laughter is the audio part of an artwork, not a member of the public laughing at the art! This show underscores the multidisciplinary direction taken by many contemporary artists today. I myself found a richer, more expressive palette when I stopped trying to box myself into a particular artistic category. CHECK OUT THE REVIEW IN THE PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE !http://pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/ae/s_617770.html