Paths

On November 12, 2013:

I bumped into a school friend (more acquaintance) at the mall and we greeted each other cordially. She’s in her early 20s (21-22 years old) . These brief, accidental meetings generally don’t mean much – but till today I still think of our conversation.

She’s about to finish her undergrad studies in a few months so I asked her what’s next? To which she replied – oh of course, work. Then marriage. What else is there for an Indian girl?

She is to be engaged in two months with her Indian boyfriend.

I am still in shock that her life is so considerably comfortable that she truly believes this is the only path. Eat, live, poop, drink, have kids, make money, die.

Maybe I’m too judgmental. After all, being comfortable and financially secure, finding a job, finding a man for marriage is hard enough on its own.

But to think there is NOTHING else a young Indian woman can do – is that not awfully CRAZY. It’s like being stuck in a narrow, comfortable feather box and never wanting to leave. I guess many would choose to stay. I wish I replied to her right there and then with something such as “Uh, there is A LOT MORE for an Indian girl, or anyone to move forward in life. Travel. Start a project / business. Go on a residency. Teach. Draw. Write. Go to Africa. Start modelling. Become a chef. Become a racer. Anything! Just don’t think you can’t”

I hope I get out soon – and find new paths. Although that can be hard too.

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KJ ink.

Getting a gallery show – perspective from an arts manager

There are a lot of posts by artists on the internet about getting into galleries – and I have many friends who are artists that ask me the same question – “How do you select artists for a solo or group exhibition in your/ a gallery?”

Truth be told there really is no straight-forward “formula”. I usually tell artists to approach people they know in galleries if they’re friends with them, or to just approach galleries directly even without an agent or curator in the middle – ESPECIALLY without an agent in the middle. In Bangkok at least, agents are not as common or a norm (yet). In fact, many seem aggressive or pushy with their artists. That’s not the Thai way, or Asian way in fact. And there’s usually more ‘excitement’ involved than need be. 

Anyway, gallery owners or managers are not going to bite your head off if you walk-in unannounced asking for a gallery show. In fact, it’s quite common. The main problem is not only approaching galleries for a show with your work (although I understand that can be quite intimidating for new artists), the main challenge is in being noticed. There’s no formula in standing out as well. Artists can stand out by saying “ground-breaking” or shocking things – yes we will remember you for your radical ideas, but that does not necessarily get you a show. That just makes a good story to share. 

Be prepared and keep trying! It will be worth the trouble.Show works that you believe in and that represent who you are. Show you care. Show you understand this is also a business and you are willing to cooperate. Show that you have chosen this gallery specifically because you believe your style of works and profile will suit our gallery’s mission. Show that you have researched. If rejected, don’t become explosive or abusive – it’s a part of life. Develop yourself and your works and come back. Some might reject you for trying too hard, others will respect your efforts. That way, you will also know who you click with and want to work with. And most importantly, keep in mind nothing is straight-forward. Gallery representation does not only rest on being talented or creative, there are various facets involved in this business for a variety of reasons. 

 

Painting a beautiful divorce – Anne of Cleves, 1539

I recently discovered something interesting about King Henry VIII’s fourth wife and had to write it down.

Other than the fact that King Henry obviously had no regard for his wives, all 6 of them – it felt great reading how art had a hand in manipulating him to marry someone he divorced in a heartbeat.

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Quick background his wives: One died, one survived,two divorced and two were beheaded.

  1. Catherine of Aragon (marriage annulled; died while detained under guard at Kimbolton Castle);
  2. Anne Boleyn (executed);
  3. Jane Seymour (died days after giving birth, widely believed to be following birth complications);
  4. Anne of Cleves (marriage annulled);
  5. Catherine Howard (executed);
  6. Catherine Parr (widowed).

In 1539, King Henry VIII went looking for wife number 4. His chancellor Thomas Cromwell assured Henry he knew of a German princess who would be a perfect match. The King’s painter-in-residence, Hans Holbein the Younger, returned with a painted portrait of the princess and Henry immediately fell in love. When she arrived to England however, he was more than a little appalled.

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      “As Michael Farquhar reports in his book, “Royal Scandals”, the king’s first words upon their initial meeting were, “I like her not.” In a letter to Thomas Cromwell, Henry complained that she stank and her breasts sagged. They were married on January 6, 1540, but Henry was so repelled by her that he could not bring himself to consummate the marriage. In another letter to Cromwell, written after his wedding night, he said, “I liked her before not well, but now I like her much worse . . . [I] could never in her company be provoked and steered to know her carnally.” Anne agreed to a quick divorce, and received a handsome settlement that enabled her live out the rest of her life in comfort. Thomas Cromwell was not so lucky; he was accused of treason and beheaded a few days after the divorce became final. Curiously, Holbein retained his post as King’s Painter, and does not seem to have incurred Henry’s wrath.”

Quite ironic nothing happened to the painter in residence, and how a portrait was enough for the King to decide to marry Anne Cleves. Imagine if that was the only basis for men to select women to marry or become attached. Oh wait, I think that still exists. Pfft

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6 mind-bending talks about biologically inspired art

Seen unseen art!

TED Blog

Art so often seeks to capture the beauty of the natural world — from cave drawings of animals, to paintings of landscapes, to sculptures of the human form in marble, bronze or wood. But in this playlist, find artists and designers who take this to the next level, making art based on the laws of nature and the invisible workings of biology itself.

[ted_talkteaser id=762]Tom Shannon: The painter and the pendulum
In this interview, John Hockenberry questions artist Tom Shannon about his metallic sculptures that levitate, and about how his scientific inspiration has evolved over time. Shannon says that his art starts with the need to solve a question — a process similar to scientific exploration. In the privacy of Shannon’s studio, we see work that challenges the idea that objects can’t defy gravity, as well as a sculpture that simply exemplifies the complex relationship between earth and sun…

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Soul searched through art

I haven’t been actively blogging much recently as things have picked WAY much with work. On my recent trip to Singapore however, I visited two South-Indian mandirs aka temples, which I’ve never been to before. I can’t explain much of the stories or history behind the beautiful art or carvings that are there as I don’t know the history of them myself, but the view, beauty, and simple faith people believe in their god will take your breath away. It doesn’t matter if you believe it’s right or wrong – religion is altogether another topic. But the beauty and peace that surrounds this place through its art, architecture, its interior and stories is truly something to behold.

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Lovely auctions and bulging pants

How Contemporary Came to Eclipse Classic at the Art Auctions

Entitled “How Contemporary Came to Eclipse Classic at the Art Auctions,” this article really got me thinking. The art market apparently has this inevitable, impending sense of bubble that everyone seems contemporary art is in, and it will BURST soon. But will it?

Even after the peak of a universal recession, there are filthy rich (SUPER filthy) people who have cash to keep buying very very expensive art. In fact, they hike up the prices in a bid to pay more! I love art, I love this industry and all its weird crazy kinks but there seems to be no shame in the crazy different way emerging and established artists live. Life is always unfair I know, no matter who you are, but why does it seem the art world plays it to another level? Yes it’s a great avenue for black money etc etc but not everyone can possibly into that, right? Or am I just too naive? Many emerging artists cannot be full-time artists because it just cannot pay the bills, and generally have 2-3 extra jobs to pay the rent, expenses and art supplies. Especially the very gifted artists who do not only work with painting mediums but instead work with experimental installations and sculptures that are CRAZY expensive and time-consuming and incredibly difficult if not impossible to sell or get paid for.

Even as somebody working in the industry, there seem to be different levels that art professionals just aren’t allowed in. Yet. Many people working in art companies or organizations get shit pay. It’s generally due to the upkeep of the company itself, for the artists, and due to slow sales at various months and so forth. I read this and try to understand how much this Tobias Meyer is making by solely working at Sotheby’s all his life. After graduation, he was a trainee at Sotheby’s and is now the Head for Contemporary Art – worldwide! He is essentially an amazing sales expert who happens to have extensive knowledge about his “product” and sells to the filthy rich. I have worked in quite a few art environments – from corporate company, to commercial gallery, to non-profit events and hopefully starting up something of my own with artists around the world (one step at a time though!).

I don’t mean to sound jealous or compare my life to other art professionals in any way, especially since situations and times play a very big and important role in shaping the economy, mentality towards art, etc are so different to today to any time before in history.

But it’s insane how fate works, how some paintings (even though they are quite brilliant in their style, concept and execution!) are sold for more than 900,000 US. If that money could instead jump start an idea that artists can execute – whether it’s to collaborate with other artists around the world, promote awareness/education (affordable) programs for the public or in universities, create studio spaces for artists, or help the digital generation connect with the real, physical world instead of facebooking from noon to dawn – wouldn’t it be better worth the money? If there is no avenue for them to direct their money… all they need to do is ask another art professional (probably not at an auction house though. Damn vicious cycle. Although very sparkly and glamorous looking from the outside)

But as I’ve learnt on my job… sometimes the richer ‘they’ are, the more they hold on to the money. So they ‘invest’ and try to grow more. Cuz you know, everybody totally gets to take all that money and power when we die and go to … heaven? hell? reincarnation? another universe? So which better to way to feel you’re investing in art than through auctions and the tertiary market – where you feel you’re being financially sane while simultaneously showing-off your level of sophistication & wealth at the same time? Two birds, one stone! Bravo!

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(Jackson Pollock’s “Number 19” at Christie’s)

Ramblings, Reflections, Reviews.