Wednesday, November 6, 2019

Artistic reflextions so far this year

While it is true that the year is slowly coming to an end, I thought it would be best to start filling the blank spaces I've left since my last posting.  I've been trying my hand at flower painting, taken up embroidery and will also be taking other classes this year in a bid to learn new skills.

I have generally been active, visited many art shows and events in 2018 and this year as well. Some art has been good and some art has been bad. Thankfully, all art has something to teach you.

Above: my rose painting: It is really a drawing I did on paper using crayons and ink, earlier this year or at the end of last year.

I have also been doing a studies on women and relationships, mostly about the role of the modern woman and her ties to her cultural past.

In terms of my own artwork, I have been part of various exhibitions this year, participated in crafts markets and done one unexpected solo show at the WIPO this month (Nov. 2019). More information on these to come before the end of the year.

So what else is new? What's good.

Well, last year just as this one, I went to Art Genève, Art Basel (Switzerland) and 1-54 (London). It was also interesting to visit the British museum last year and see the Nigerian sculptures & artefacts which were taken/looted during the colonial era.

The South African artist, W. Kentridge was in Switzerland and gave a talk at Art Basel Conversations. It was amazing. I hope to do a longer piece on that or at least post part of the article I wrote on it. He had a retrospective of his work on show and I went up to talk to him after he spoke. He was most gracious.
William Kentridge

Sculpture by I. Lardschneider, at Volta Art Fair in Basel, 2019

Painting by The Kid, Volta Art Fair, Basel,  2019

Sculpture by Victor Ekpuk - at 1-54 in London, 2019

More to come on those but suffice to say that they were each very interesting - for various reasons. Last year, I also travelled to Thailand and saw artwork by Thai artists and got inspired by Asian culture. This year, went to the Bilbao's Guggenheim and was blown away by Rietcher, Kiefer and Serra.

On the personal front, I have been trying my hand out at linocut /lino printing and it has been a challenging experience since I've had to turn my hand and eyes to trying new techniques. I am currently part on an exhibition on show in Nyon at Espace Eeeeh! which ends on 9th November:

I've also set up a Facebook page:

And now have an Instagram account dedicated mostly to my craft work, under the handle: Flakisimo

All in a bid to be more "online" and social-media visible. Not always easy but at least this year, am really trying. Fingers crossed that there are better things to come.

Your comments and questions are of course welcome.
In the meantime, wishing you a happy and productive day!

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Venice and the Biennale 2017

Art at the Biennale di Venezia was in many ways, epic.

In general, art exhibitions are normally engaging, but in the beautiful city of Venice, this exhibition was on a whole other level.

Here are just a few images to whet the appetite before I delve into the full article - hopefully by next week.

Hew Locke
Diaspora Pavilion, Palazzo Pisani, Venice


Yinka Shonibare
Diaspora Pavilion, Palazzo Pisani, Venice

Monday, September 5, 2016

Grenoble! Grenoble!
How I love thee Grenoble!

Ok, that was a slight exaggeration given that 90% of the shops were closed when I visited the city in August. But I wasn't there to shop so I really shouldn't complain.

This said, their museum was very much open and what an amazing museum it is.

The discovery, was quite accidental. The city tourism shop was closed! so I had to ask people on the street if there were any galleries or museums in the city. Given the limited time I had to visit, I thought I could do a quick blitz and be gone.
Boy, was I wrong!

How does one do real justice to this museum? Not easily, is the answer.
The museum is divided into sections. It has its antiquities section and its 17th century to modern & contemporary art collection. The layout, art on display, as well as the staff were all excellent and this is now officially one of my favourite museums.

I have been meaning to write this post for a while now so bear with me if some parts are added later - (including captions of course).

 Hours few by and I was reluctant to leave. The only downside? They had a very tiny African art collection and it all fitted literally in a box, i.e., a small display glass cabinet. More on that another time.

If you get a chance, do visit this incredible art museum, which frankly, must be one of France's best kept secrets.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Hello! How time flies.

So, exhibition news!

I will be showing my new collection in August at a pop-up gallery in Geneva! Howsdat?!!

It was all kind of sudden and very conceptual but you gotta go with the flow sometimes.

This exhibition is different from past shows for various reasons.
For one thing, I will be exhibiting with my dear friend and fellow artist, Magda. We haven't done an exhibition together in so long, it would be interesting to see how our work has evolved since our Espace Diamono days.

For another, the faces are relatively small pieces, which is a departure from my bigger canvas work.

The exhibition is entitled "Parallel(e)" as we work in parallel and have a lot of other (parallel) points in common.

Magda will be showcasing mostly lino work and I will be mostly exhibiting my oil paintings.

The faces collection is an experiment into intuitive painting - which basically means it was more important to use colour to define emotive presence rather than the other way round.

More information and pictures on the exhibition to follow shortly.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Old is New though It is Past

It's funny how looking back on the year, I realised how many exhibitions took place and concurrently, how many I should have visited.
Here are some of the ones I saw but forgot to post the blog about.
And I still intend to write up on that one excellent Picasso exhibition at MAH.

(I don't know why but I can't seem to post the pictures. Will have to add them in at another point).



The Qin exhibition in Berne was surprising for many good and bad reasons. For one thing, I expected that there would be more examples of the warriors on display. Only a handful and by that I mean you could count them on your fingers.
We went on a quiet Tuesday afternoon. The exhibition is best understood either through a guided tour or using one of those audio guides.
At its origin, the warriors were painted in bright, bold colours from lilacs to deep reds.
We saw one or two models of such paintwork. Without a doubt, I preferred them without the paintwork simply because it in no way discusses
What is so incredible is the amount of attention to detail. The horses are well-wroth, these tall, powerful creatures with fearless gazes.
Just as incredible is the manner in which the pieces were made and assembled. It was a chain production where the head was added as the last piece. Each warrior is individual, with facial features distinct from the next.
Military rank was important and this was incorporated into the sculptures - whether it was the kind of body armour the solider wore or the official ornaments which was seen as signs of authority.


The Royal Academy’s annual show had ended by the time I made it to London. Yes, very disappointing, indeed.
Still visible and hanging outside in the Annenberg Courtyards was the El Anatsui installation. The massive sculptural installation "Tsiatsia - searching for connection",  drapes the front of the building like a majestic robe.
The metal glimmers as it quivers slightly in the afternoon breeze. These are old cap lids from beer and soda bottles which have been flattened out into rectangular diskettes and painstakingly sewn together to form this patchwork of swaths of gold interlinked with red, blues and yellows.  It is almost like a distorted, perhaps abstract painting of the continent.

Also outside is the installation “Homeshell” by architectural firm, Roger Stirk Harbour + Partners. It deals with the thorny issue of housing. It was originally part of the Oxley Woods housing development in Milton Keynes but it is now turning a laser-like glare on the city of London. This is a city whose population is forever expanding but which, according to them, does not have sufficient construction projects to meet the demand.
This is a project that looks at the future, to the ever growing demand for a place to call “home” and the troublingly high statistics of those who remain homeless in the country (even though there is allegedly 32,400 hectares of vacant brownfield land in England). The need to provide housing is also about being able to do so at a reduced cost, where the investment matches the needs and means of those who most need it in a way that is both cost effective and easy to build. While the proposal to offer these quick fix (it only takes 48 hours to construct on site), matchbox kind of housing (the 2012 Olympic Velodrome was constructed using this method) may not be to everyone’s taste but in the firm’s opinion, it does offer a valid solution to a growing problem.
These are some of the advantages including the fact that Homeshell is adaptable to any location. Insulshell comes with 25-year warranty and a six decade design life (whatever that means). They also boast that they can build a six-story building in under a month and their system is also adaptable to constructing schools, factories and health centres. It all almost sounds too good to be true.

It was good to see the art selected for the annual competition hanging on the walls of the NPG.
While superlatives like amazing, most intelligent and incredibly ambitious definitely apply, the art on display is also thought-provoking.
This was where Katherine Windsor’s painting hangs. After the controversy surrounding it and the pictures flying over the internet, I thought the painting would be awful but it is so much better to see in real life. There is a great deal of artistry in the work and while I still feel it could have been more flattering (in the painting she does indeed look older than she actually is), it is in fact a very good painting.
The BP Portrait Award this year showcased the paintings of 55 artists from around the world whose works were considered to be the “most outstanding and innovative”. Though there is big prize money to be won, there is something very prestigious about showing your work alongside other artists of varying ages and styles at this acclaimed venue. In a world where the bizarre, outrageous and downright talentless is being praised, it is nice to see that traditional artistry, the harkening back to the original definitions of skill and talent are still being celebrated and valued.
Yes, this is definitely a case of substance over style.
Hoorah for the BP Portrait Awards.
I enjoyed Lionel Smit’sKholiswa”, the tattooed man “Takami Horikoshi” by Colin Davidson and the multiplicity of faces in “Conversations” by David Caldwell. Some other works may not have been to my personal taste but that is the truth about democratic selection, it allows everyone their subjective favourites. Little matter.
I salute all the artists selected.


Museums have always been accused of being a prison for the oeuvres of mostly dead artists. While they are indeed the purveyors the art that is supposed to matter in the future and the strict guardians of artwork made by artists who for the most part, are long dead and gone, they do offer a focal point for contemplation.

Without them, it would be almost impossible to see the work of artists scattered around the world assembled in one location. Instead, these works would likely have been squirrelled away into private collections or stashed in warehouses until an appointed time when they will once again see daylight when they are traded at Christie’s or Sotherby’s or perhaps loaned out for an international exhibition.
The many floors of the Tate have a weaving, almost hypnotic feel to them. Climbing up the innumerable stairs is a slog and not for the unfit. I am glad when I eventually spot the escalators and I jump on it as though I have just finished a marathon.

It is a pleasant surprise to discover the permanent exhibition is free. My intention had been to see at least one of the temporary or travelling shows but in the end, there just wasn’t enough time to see everything.
It is Sunday morning and the high-ceilinged rooms are filled with people, their necks craning as they stare at paintings on the wall, hoping to find relevance in the art by artists like Picasso, Miro and Kadinsky.
Works by Meschac Garba and the Sudanese modernist painter, Ibrahim El Salahi (different floors) were part of the temporary exhibits - which I did not see. One of Garba’s pieces was on display at Unlimited in Art Basel (the colourful and ginormous flag ball which I took a picture of – see below). El Salahi’s exhibition at the Tate is a major retrospective of a career spanning five decades and incorporating over a hundred artworks.
The significance of art is never more evident than when the visitor is moved by works they can study up close rather than on the pages of some glossy art book. 
In the end, I enjoyed seeing works by the old masters, from the Impressionists to the Cubists, to the Expressionists. And I would gladly go there again.
Then I went off and bought a rectangular art pad, walked a few metres and stood in front of the water looking out from the banks of London on a cool but pleasant morning.
What better way is there to spend a Sunday in a cultural city?

Other London sights:
Well, I can't help but mention the sculptures by Sean Henry which I stumbled upon in a swank hotel in London.  His tall, life-like men in painted bronze are intriguing and strangely, essential - yes, odd as that sounds. The scupture, "Man with potential selves" - is as mysterious as it is hypnotic.
This discovery was a very happy accident.

Unfinished business – Belinda Mason
On exhibition on the ground floor of the Palais de Nations (Porte 40) was the photographic works by Australian artist, Belinda Mason, who took photographs of the indigenous populations suffering from various maladies including mental health issues. These photographs were presented using a 3D lenticular format. Very cool.
The exhibition proved insightful as these close-up portraits of Aboriginal men and women was intended to give voice to people who the artist felt were either ignored or poorly assisted by the medical community in their regions. There is something compelling about looking at the face of a person and seeing their struggles and suffering in such an open, raw way.
As you walk by, the images follow you – or more precisely, the picture modifies itself, and the eyes seemingly shift to follow movement. They are in a sense, Mona Lisa like, personal and personable.
It is perhaps no coincidence that the works should be on display during the 24th session of the Human Rights Council where raising awareness and discussing daily human hardships of people around the world. After all, the plight of others is a pre-requisite aspect of their deliberations.

Also on the same floor:

The Andy Warhol Exhibition
I could easily use a whole page just to wax lyrical about an exhibition that incorporates diamonds, screenprint and that involves an iconic artist. But I won’t.
There is much to be said about Warhol – which has already been over said (if truth be told) so I think I will highlight the stuff I didn’t know about the artist.
Born in a country that no longer exists, Warhol is the fourth child of his parents and threw himself into art from a young age. He went off to New York and started off his career as a commercial artist. He was rejected by many galeries and his early works did not sell well. It took several years before he finally made it as a "real" artist.
Just before, he  reached out to artists like Jasper Johns and Rauschenberg, hoping for their support - as they were the only other artists who were going against the Pollock style of abstract art with their "pop art" -  but he was firmly rebuffed.
Indeed, it was the Campbell soup paintings that made the art world sit up and take notice (though at the time of the exhibition, he was mocked or alternatively, ignored). Still, he perserved and became an overnight success!
What is most interesting about the exhibition (aside from the generous application of diamond dust) is the versatility of the artist.
He surprised me and that, any artist can tell you, is always a good thing.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Some kind of new Art

Since I have been meaning to add new photographs of my own work (as opposed to those of others), I have decided this is as good a time as any to add some of the older paintings first.

oid@2012 copyright

Above is the cow I painted using oils and mixed technique. Last year was all about painting animals. Most, if not all, are on canvas. I was rather surprised how they turned out, a bit like realising you can speak a new language when you thought you couldn't.

                                                                 oid@2012 copyright
                                                                  Clownfish Bubbles

The new stuff I am working on is very experimental, mainly because I am trying out different compositions as well as new styles of paintings. The painting below is not finished but I am adding it to my "African Symbolism" collection - which is still very much work in progress.

Will try to add more as and when the inspiration strikes.

oid@2013 copyright

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Kunstmuseum Basel! Revisiting Old Masters and Recreating New Memories

Oh, how I missed this amazing place without realising it!

Once I decided, rather on a whim, to go and see works in the museum I had not visited in so many years but for which I held very positive memories thanks to my last foray all those years ago.

 Aside from unexpectedly setting the alarm off twice (first apparently for staring too closely at the back of a Tinguely installation – it’s a white painted disaggregated metal sculpture fixed to the wall with the complex mechanism behind it unplugged - yet visible if you looked) and then another time on the second floor when I touched a flyer that I thought was for public consideration. The museum security sauntered in to see who had dared cause this disquiet. I pretended not to have anything to do with it. A truly bewildering experience if you ask me.

As I wandered the halls and rooms of the ground floor, I started to wonder what exactly I had liked so much about this place. Well, I soon discovered what it was about this place that made it worth visiting again and again.
I started off with the works by Stoecklin who had a special exhibition – like a mini- retrospective – of his works on display. The whole thing was explained in German so of course I cannot offer a descriptive of what the exhibition was about or why it was being held now.

Upon reflection, I don’t think a museum is the place artists go to die – this being a quote made famous by an artist whose name escapes me.

I think it is a place where they go to be reborn, their genius remembered, visible up close and personal. Looking at the work of most of these artists is like living and breathing the same air as them, even for a fraction of a second. It is as though you are with them from the conception of their artwork to the final brushstroke, following them as would their assistant, their shadow. You can feel their energy, their almost palpable push or patient musing over the canvas, as though you are invited into their atelier to ponder with them every single thrust and quibble of the brush or palette knife.

Paul Klee: I discovered more works by this artist I would normally ignore. Ignore is probably harsh. I have however been known not to linger over his work, rather walking past without stopping. Not this time though. I found myself pausing, studying for an inordinately long time his abstract painting – the one with hundreds of tiny dots over fragmented squares and triangles.

His canvases, I realise, have more depth and a careful thought than I ever before gave them credit for. This is evident in the formulation of his pieces. It makes me want to visit his museum in Berne.

Niklaus Stoecklin’s “Das Wilde Madchen” was a pleasant surprise. The bright blue background and the odd, rather savage female figure is an unorthodox choice. He’s the first artist I have ever seen who has been able to convey layers of depth in his foreground - be it matt or glossy. He knew how to create luminous texture in his paintings seemingly without trying. His layering is complex and the paintings never look flat. It is not surprising to discover he learnt modern graphic style of art in Munich and was very interested in posters.

Born to Swiss parents, Stoecklin hailed from Basel and trained as an artist from a young age. He earned a living designing posters. He died in 1982.


Hodler: one of my all-time favourite artists!! It was good to see his self-portrait in which it looks like he’s a man who did not take himself too seriously when he didn’t have to. His are paintings filled with matt colours which never look flat or dull. I of course marvelled at the detailing in his work, the final defining dark brush marks which turn the painting into something that is almost an illustration drawing. Bravo Hodler, bravo!

Picasso’s The Two brothers - 1906 – the pink large nude. One of the boys is on the cusp of adolescence while the other will not be a toddler for much longer - is an affectionate and kind piece, not least because of the choice of dusky rose as the predominant colour.

The “Seated Harlequin (Portrait of Painter Jacinto Salvado) 1923” is beautiful – of course it is one of Picasso’s best works. It is gentle, mature, sophisticated and achieved with soft pastel colours, without jarring with the outlined detailing. All this was achieved using a tempura on canvas technique.
Holbein: I didn’t realise there was a Hans Holbein the Elder (Portrait of Jorg Fischer’s Wife at the age of 34) and a Hans Holbein the Younger (Lais of Corinth and Adam and Eve). Both are amazing artists in their own particular style and disposition. Though they do manage to reflect a certain over-seriousness in their subjects. You can tell portraiture was taken very, very seriously back then.

Bocklin’s Naiads at Play – 1886 is interesting. Aside from the size (151 x 176.5 cm) and depth of detail, it is all the more amazing because it is tempura on canvas. Just think of the hours spent mixing the egg yolk in with the pigment, painting, redefining and painting again.

I did not see the Piet Mondrian or the Ed Ruscha exhibitions and I don’t regret it as there was so much to see on the other floors and I am not a particularly ardent fan of either of those two.

Another surprise for me was the Soutine pieces on the second floor. The dead-carcass-skin-artist showed he had other styles and (shock!) was classically trained.

I thoroughly enjoyed Van Gogh’s cityscape View of Paris seen from Montmarte – 1886 as well as other landscape paintings in the same room though their names and painters escape me right now – one was of a view of a village painted in bold horizontal strokes of bright primary colours – Meuniers? Should have taken notes.

Segantini was a delight as ever though they only had one of his paintings; At the watering place – 1888. It has this outdoorsy, almost folkloric style and is of course filled with cows, grass and farm life euphoria. The painting is not the one I saw but it gives some idea of his style of art.

Giovanni Segantini is a Swiss artist whose brushstrokes are unlike any other artists, thin, sharp and deliberate. They convey vibrancy, life and lush depth seemingly without much effort. His paintings – at least the ones I have seen, are never flat or boring.

Apparently, he has a museum dedicated to his works in St. Moritz. I would love to visit but St. Moritz is far and won’t be going yonder to ski so…

In any case, the Kunstmuseum Basel is a hallowed repository for great international artists. Their works seem to vibrate off their wall with energy and a synergy unlike anywhere else. Here the examples of the big names sit side by side as though in a permanent conversation with each other. From Miro, Gaugin, Kandinsky and Leger to Picasso, Monet, Degas and Manet, to Jasper Johns and Dali, there is something on each floor that is bound to delight the soul. I am so glad I came.