Tamsui old Street (Subverting nostalgia)

One of my favorite places in Taiwan is the Tamsui old street (淡水老街). Right off the main street, there is a path where you can walk by the water. On that street there are great hidden, little cafes, carnaval style games, and delicious Taiwan small foods. Nostalgia is the only reason for my love of that path. The water is dirty and the taiwanese summers are very hot, but the air was filled with friendship, love, possibilities and youth. 

My goal this time is to get fucked up and walk that path again. I want to destroy all the innocent memories I created when I first went there at 16 by getting blind drunk. A testament to my gone-by youth. I'm a good person.

 

 

Seu Jorge and the black narrative

Seu Jorge is one of my favorite Brazilian Artists for the reason that he makes very considered decisions in his choice of covers. Despite being a great original music composer, the choice of his covers creates a narrative of oppression, Brazilian history and black culture. 

In this appearance at a Portuguese radio station, he sings, Leçi Brandão's "Zé do Caroço", a song about a retired police officer who attaches a loudspeaker to his Rio favela home in order to relay alerts, news, and announcements to the favela's inhabitants. The song alludes to the people's mixed reactions of Zé. Some despise the noise for interrupting their television novelas while others wish they had someone like Zé in their neighborhood. 

The second song is from Brazilian 90s rap group, Racionais MC's. "Nego Drama" is a song that narrates the history, injustices and perception of black people in Brazil. Seu Jorge transforms the clunky flow of Brazilian rap and turns it into a poetic recitation, a flow much more flattering for the Brazilian-Portuguese language. 

The transition of the first song to the second is seamless as the chords do not change. The themes from the first song carry over beautifully into the next. I don't know what else to say, I just really love this video. 

One person in the comments section said, "Marry someone who looks at you the same way red-shirt guy looks at Seu Jorge."

 

Contradictions, symbolism, and Freud

Before, I stated that I avoided using any form of allegory and symbolism in my work, however, since reading more into Freud's interpretation of dreams, I realized I’ve contradicted myself. 

Freud theorized that dreams are the unconscious' way of hinting to one's suppressed desires (with Freud, usually sexual desires). These desires manifest themselves as symbolic representations. 

If dreams are representations created by the unconscious, then the foreign, subversive elements that I introduce to my paintings are in fact symbolic representations that allude to the subject’s (or my) internal struggle. If I consider my canvas a dream sequence, then every element in the dream represents an internal conflict. 

Although I'm not trying to create any kind of cohesive message or narrative, in the end, representational work will always invite the viewer to question and assign meaning to what they are seeing --Regardless of my intentions. 

 

Pushing boundaries (Feeling lost and helpless within the canvas)

I'm going 40x30in. I'm getting tried of painting small. There's something about small paintings that feel extremely intimate and comforting —almost nostalgic. I want to achieve the exact opposite effect. I want to feel like I'm stranded in the ocean with no visible land around. I want to see the painting and feel isolated, engulfed and inconsequential to its presence. 40x30 does not achieve that yet... but it's about as large as my studio will allow. Should I make a life change and move somewhere new? I think I might. 

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Detachment from subject, notes to self etc, ... (Rambling again)

Whenever I fail to make a successful painting, it is because I wanted to make something beautiful. My expectations with the painting's outcome sabotage the piece in the same way that when a person betrays my expectations, the only outcome is disappointment and frustration. 

When painting figures, I always have to mentally prepare myself before starting. I have to treat the figures like real people and take them at face value. I have to emotionally detach myself from the subject, and impartially take in visual information (planes, value and line). Figures are beautiful just for being figures, not because they are imbued with an artist's emotions. Just like any interpersonal relationship, I avoid creating a mental, finished and idealized version of the piece. 

That's why, since I started painting, I found that it's no use trying to make a perfect piece. I make so many mistakes that in the end, the image becomes a sum of it's faults, and cannot live without them. 

 

Dear Mr. Chiang

Dear Mr. Chiang, 

Lately, you are been making multiple appearances in my work. I don't use you in my work to make any kind of political statement. Nor do I use you for any kind of personal agenda or to make some bitter commentary on how Taiwanese history has unfolded. I don't even care how many times they change the name of that damn park in Taipei. Mr. Chiang, there is something about your image that commands a powerful presence, creating an instant and apparent tension in my work. That is why you will probably keep showing up on my boards as an old, haunting apparition, instantly challenging all other elements in the composition. 

 

Hiking, Skiing and...

Despite living in New Hampshire for 12 years, I feel zero attachment to the place. Yeah, it's an alright place if you like hiking, skiing and heroin, but nah, I don't feel much. Although I'm not sure New York is home, it's certainly a step closer. Here I was able to meet many weirdly displaced people like me. It's very comforting in a way. I could build my own gang of rebels. In NH, I still feel like an awkward guest. 

Is it weird that I really relate to Caesar from "Rise of the Planet of the Apes"? Like my mom would call me from NH and be like, "So when you coming home to visit?" and I'll be like, "Hugo IS home." 

 

A Shakespearian Tragedy in Taiwan

 

"In 1964, the young man Tseng Kuo-ying, sentenced to ten years in the Navy Taiwan Independence Case, was a trumpet player in the New Life Correction Center’s entertainment team, regularly appearing on stage with the Green Island women. He fell in love with a local woman called “the Green Island Lily,” a Miss Su, and they decided to spend the rest of their lives together. Unfortunately it was discovered by a political warfare officer, who was also romantically pursuing Miss Su, and he had Tseng Kuo-ying locked up in a watchtower until he won Miss Su’s promise to marry him. In order to save Tseng, Miss Su had no choice but to comply. Not long after the marriage, however, she went to Taitung for medical treatment, and, while staying at a hotel in Chihpen, drank a large quantity of pesticide, and she was beyond rescue. Green Island had not only political prisoners willing to hold out for their ideals, but also lovers who were determined in their love."

Source: Green Island Human Rights Memorial Park

Original Post Here

 

 

Dream Journal - 7.20.17

On my way out of a large building, I notice a large, black case in the middle of the lobby. The floors and walls are made of marble and were over-polished, making me tread carefully with every step. I walk up to the large case and I open it without hesitation. Inside is a mahogany colored instrument. It looked like two, double-bass sized mandolins joined at the body, making its outline look like a monarch butterfly. I try to strum the strings but they are all loose. Suddenly, two white guys with beards came out from the elevators and start yelling at me. I leap through the air, and before landing a kick to one of their heads my vision goes white, and I wake up.. 

 

People I look at (Ongoing)

An ongoing list of artists I look at. Decided to start a list for myself so I always have a database on-hand. I always forget names, so hopefully this helps.

Painters:

  1. Edward Hopper
  2. Gerhard Richter
  3. Kaye Donachie 
  4. Alexander Tinei
  5. Adrian Ghenie 
  6. Kerry James Marshall
  7. Antonio López García
  8. Justin Mortimer
  9. Seongjin Kim
  10. Alex Kanevski
  11. Francis Bacon
  12. Lucian Freud
  13. Phil Hale
  14. Marcin Cienski
  15. Francisco Goya
  16. Lars Elling
  17. Diego Rivera
  18. Willem De Kooning 
  19. Picasso (Periodo Rosa)
  20. Magritte 
  21. Caroline Walker

Directors:

  1. Hou Hsiao-Hsien
  2. Edward Yang
  3. Denis Villeneuve 
  4. Werner Herzog
  5. Nicolas Winding Refn
  6. Satoshi Kon
  7. David Lynch
  8. Akira Kurosawa 
  9. Krzysztof Kieślowski
  10. Andrei Tarkovski
 

Rauschenberg, peers, and collaboration (More ramblings)

Two months ago I met an artist who has now become somewhat of a mentor figure for me. Whenever we meet he does his typical wise, old man thing and lectures me of the intricacies and secrets of the changing contemporary art world. He recommends me dozens of films, books and articles to study as well as share anecdotes from his career. 

It wasn't until after these encounters that I realized the value of having a reliable foundation of peers around you. Having been graduated for what feels like a very long time, the concept of critique and contribution was almost non-existent, making it surprisingly difficult for me to move forward with my work. 

However, everything clicked after seeing the Rauschenberg show (Among Friends or something like that) at the MoMA. The exhibition focused on Rauschenberg’s collaborative nature and how he drew inspiration from working with other artists. After walking through that show, it was evident how his contemporaries pushed and inspired him to create the sensational art he is so well known for. 

During school, we had a platform that allowed us to have an active self awareness of our own work. Whether I disregarded someone’s opinion (which was often) or not, just the fact that my work was constantly being reviewed kept me very self aware of how my work was being perceived, and subconsciously indicated how I should proceed. 

After graduating, I felt like I was lost in the dark. It wasn’t until that old, wise man told me, “You’re the talent. You’re the artist. You have to build the community around you”. And that’s when I realized it’s my own fault I’m lost, and that not having critiques is no excuse to not seek feedback. The energy of reliable peers pushes the creative mind beyond its present state. 

 

References

There's this place in Williamsburg where you can buy photographs people throw away. People are strange to give away their history like that. Imagine giving away your photographs just so a grimy art school grad can reimagine its context in the the most sickening and perverse way possible. Oh wait, that's me. 

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An annoying transition period

I have to apologize for the lack of new artwork on this site. I've been going through a weird transition period. 

I've been reconstructing my thesis from scratch. I don't want to create images from the sole basis of aesthetic or any dumb reason like that. 

That being said, In one month I've gotten more done than I have for the past year. I feel I'm hitting a good stride. Even though I've only made failures this past month, I feel they were necessary for me to advance to a better mental state. 

JULY IS MY MONTH. EVERY MONTH IS MY MONTH. 2017 IS MY BITCH. I AM THE CHAMP.  -or at least that's what I yell to myself in the shower. 

 

Thesis Ramblings Pt.1 (Don't mind me, I'm just rambling)

Up until now, I was always playing with the idea of portraying compressed time. Only I didn't know that was what I was doing. All of my work up until now has dealt with multiple scenarios in one setting. Those which don't belong in the same timeline brought together in one plane. 

I think all this stems from the my fascination with the mind. Especially, conscious thought, the subconscious, as well as the construction of memory. When recollecting an event, say, a family dinner, you may recollect specific aspects surrounding that event such as the setting, food, and whatever else, but don't just think about that dinner, other thoughts tend to invade or are occurring in tangent to that dinner. Your subconscious mind intrudes upon all conscious thought. I want to capture these intrusions.

My early work was much more immature as I couldn't exactly put my thesis into words. To make it easier, I started with existing narratives such as films. At the time, my professor described it as creating a visual novel from various sources. The idea was to displace multiple timelines and narratives to create a new narrative.

 Now, I'm working on investigating my own mind and those of others around me. Richter said that he would rather not paint at all if he were to paint something unspecific. Specificity became an essential quality for my work. I'm avoiding painting anything allegorical or symbolic as I feel it cheapens the work by establishing itself as absolute, interpretable idea, to the likes of propaganda. The best images are infinitely interpretable, or better yet, don't need to be interpreted. 

 

 

New Macros

Protein: 94g

Carbs: 19g

Fats: 117g

Day 3 of a ketogenic diet: The biggest change is the constant low energy, but mainly because I'm not consuming as much fat as I should (Hitting only 100g). My glycogen addicted brain is having withdrawals. Symptoms feel like a low fever, as well as fatigue and not feeling full after meals. After a few days, I should be feeling much better. Current goal is to lose .8 lbs/week for the next 4 weeks. I'll decide whether or not to stay keto after this experiment. Definitely missing carbs.. 

 

 

Self-Evaluation - 7.3.17

In school, I was one of the less technically gifted person in class, and solely relied on interesting methods of applying material and as well as heavy use of reference. Although, I had my own shortcomings, I believe I was able to compete with my classmates in my own way. 

Lately I feel my work has improved a lot technically, but has lost all sense of fluidity and originality. Part of this reason is because these days I've been spending a lot of time practicing color matching, as well as trying to use value more effectively in my work. Because of this, I noticed I haven't been putting in as much effort in the creation of my compositions, resulting in stiff, lifeless paintings. I've been relying too much on photoshop and found imagery so I could get to the painting right away. 

I'm glad I've come to this realization. I think it's time I find a different way to create compositions.