During the Paraguayan – Triple Alliance war of 1864-70, an Argentinian low ranking officer made a name for himself. Not in the battlefield but just of outside it, with a paint-brush. Yes, being an active soldier, Cándido López no-doubt saw many battles in person yet because of his literacy, he made Second Lieutenant. Perhaps this gave him more free time, a wage to buy materials, or perhaps he just got lucky.
Cándido López began his career sketching for a photographer. In those days the shots were immaculately prepared and preliminary sketches were commonplace. Discovering a talent for likeness artistry, Cándido López took up painting too. When war broke out he applied his talent to the battlefield, often painting images that would be sent home for news.
Rather than showing the brutal reality of fighting, Cándido López depicted war in a detached and still-life manner. There were bodies and a bit of imagination will reveal the suffering behind the image, however the whole scene was the image and not a particular figure writhing in agony like other artists may have depicted. It's not a modern invention to show anguish in art, the decision to occult the pain of war seems to have been a deliberate one.
Why did Lopez do this? Some may say that his work served as a useful tool in recruitment. If the horror and tragedy of war was hidden from the casual viewer of the artwork, they may be more willing to join the fight. Brutal psychology tactics in a marketing scheme? Or a serious matter when the lives of so many and the way of life of so many more were being fought for?
Maybe it was a way for Cándido López to cope with his own war. Perhaps the confrontation of fear and death on a daily basis led him to seek out places where he could snicket away and paint. The avoiding of the nasty side to war perhaps was his own way of distancing himself from the terrible moments that he'd endured.
However the images came into being, perhaps the most important job they did at the time was to give the people at home a sense of hope and a diluted version so they felt more content. After-all it was their sons and fathers who were out there, in their brilliantly coloured uniforms. Wouldn't you rather think of them politely duelling among greenery and birdsong?
It was perhaps ironic that Cándido López's original trade of photography was to ultimately smash the illusion that he'd gracefully portrayed. The true reality of fighting was brought home to everyone during the next hundred years as several wars showed us all again and again how horrific and inhumane armed conflict is.
Regardless of how we feel about fighting, those in the fight have to be cool and clear headed. For the ones in battle, if they want to be a suitable candidate for the work they must be able to ignore the emotional reactions they may have in the face of pain and suffering. Any soldier has to do questionable acts yet they don't question them. They follow their training. We can only do this if our training is properly applied and we stay mentally focussed. Maybe works like that of Cándido López are exactly what soldiers need when learning their role.
Yorkshire has a rich history in the art world. With luminaries such as Ruskin, Turner, Hockney, and Jarvis Cocker, we're inundated with the middle-north's creative talent. A classically industrial region, with many mines and factories in its past, Yorkshire has evolved from farming communities to manufacturing in a short period of time. Now though, as the world continues spinning, industry has been in decline for many years. With automation, cheaper labour abroad, and less demand, Yorkshire like the rest of Britain has been forced to move on once again.
What is there today for Yorkshire? What does the brand say to the world? Thankfully with several world-class universities the influx of talent and innovation is continuing. Because of the local area's natural beauty and the over-all friendliness of it's people, many students decide to make their home here once they've graduated. The people who are born here are equally as talented and ready to make an impression on the world.
This year sees another burst of growth in this creative orchard nestled away across Yorkshire. Coming up in March is an exhibition of water-colour and sculpture from Dusseldorf artist Paloma Varga Weisz. She will be found at the Henry Moore Foundation in Much Hadham. This June, the Hepworth Wakefield will host an exhibit from textile artist Sheila Hicks. The David Chipperfield designed, award-winning gallery is an ideal venue to show off this cutting edge fabric sculptor.
And once more, the Yorkshire Sculpture Park is making all the right moves with it's half a million annual visitors. Women take centre stage on this year's event calendar, with works demonstrating the true power of women in the world of sculpture. Particularly notable this year is the work of Joana Vasconcelos. This Portuguese textile and fabric sculptor has 25 works of art on display right now at the park. Another worthwhile visit is to the Breaking The Mould exhibition. This Arts Council Collection survey exhibit holds over 45 pieces each made by women since 1945. Perhaps the ladies at the time felt a new sense of empowerment after the suffrage during the war.
A lot of the co-ordination of this collectivity of feminine energy is thanks to 2020 Holberg Prize in Humanities winner Griselda Pollock. Her hard-work and innovation has brought so many golden threads together in this year of women's art. The social and critical histories professor at Leeds University also has 22 books to her name. As this is her final year in post before moving on to be professor emeritus at the same institution, it's an excellent culmination of contacts, guidance, and craftswomanship.
Via The Guardian
Visitors to the Marina Bay Sands ArtScience Museum in Singapore this season can experience an intense and spectacular display of digital art. Each visitor to the showing will provide input for the continually running software which creates the ambiently interactive display. The Way Of Birds exhibit demonstrates with moving lights how a flock of birds can navigate a complex geography without a defined leader. The flock of lights moves around the room in acrobatic patterns while avoiding the people among them.
The 19 individual exhibits express questions about life and death, climate change, and various other wonders of the universe. The theme of the entire array of technology is impermanence, offering a transient and user generated display that will depend on who is where and what they are doing. The Future World experience at the ArtScience Museum has been designed by several luminaries including teamLab. This international digital art collective have a large back-catalogue of science and art blends which inspire new generations of thinkers.
100 Years Sea is an exhibit designed to push home the effects of sea-level rising. By showing interactive graphics, the level of the water on bodies of land will change over time. By the end of the program, the idea is that 100 years of predicted sea-level rise based on current rising will be shown to drastically alter the way land-masses appear. Other less dramatic displays include a demonstration of cherry blossom forming and then falling like confetti. This cycle of birth, death, and change is what inspires many great works of art.
For people with mental health concerns, the mind is not a safe place. With continual input from the sub-conscious sea and the world at large, the learned thinking patterns continue to plague us. The travel from notion to notion, emotion to emotion, is seemingly random. Finding the strength to put up a resistance to the mental processes of depression, despair, and panic is not easy. We have to be super-human in order to be the black knight of our own thoughts. Often it takes two or more to really help a person begin thinking in more healthy ways.
Photographer and visionary artist Kate Miller-Wilson recently published a selection of self-portraits which show all of us how manic thoughts travel. Her series is titled Static and consists of double exposure photography. The thing which makes these stand out is that the second image is made by exposing the film to static electricity. The random flow of charge through the air as a spark catches is very similar to the striking anguish that mental-health issues can deliver. A sudden flash of multiple edged tension rips through the image of self in a metaphorical rush of anxiety.
Insulating the mind from this emotional pain is often a matter for a doctor, varying drugs can alleviate the symptoms. Learning new patterns of thought and finding the strength to stand up to and disagree with the painful offerings your mind produces is much easier when the noise is turned down. Perhaps these images can show those of us who have not experienced poor mental-health that it's not something we are able to control on our own. We need insulation, wires, and all kinds of components to get the voltage flowing in a way that helps.
You can see more images and read about how Kate Miller-Wilson achieved this in her article on PetaPixel.
Among Emptiness – Poignant Photography Depicting Classical Art With One Dark Commonality | Alternative Fruit
In a sparsely decorated viewing room in a museum is an exhibit named “A Strange New Beauty”. The display by Troy Brauntuch is simple, a selection of 32 prints are in plain and non-invasive frames. When looking at the images in the photos, viewers will see that the colours are inverted. The prints are done on beautiful gloss which seems to glow with luminosity. The images are of neoclassical nudes and stunning landscape paintings. When looking deeper into the images of academic interest, we can see that there is hardly anything there. Almost as if the displays were incomplete or thrown together without cultural thought, we wonder what the exhibition is trying to say. Strange indeed.
It's when we realise that these images are taken from Nazi Germany that things start to make sense. Images of the Fuehrer and his ominous logo have been avoided and in some cases scrubbed out of the photo. What is the artist trying to say? Perhaps it's a bit like astronomy. When we want to explore a star, we have to block out some of the light. It's too bright to see properly and only with filters can we get to know what we're looking at.
Astronomers use disks to cover the body of a star or the sun in order to view its atmosphere, and surrounding objects. When we block out the evil of the Nazi regime that we associate with its leaders and symbols, we're left with the human side of it. How helpless do you feel when your government does something you don't like? How many of us know how to oppose the actions of our leaders in a way that works? What if the opposition to leadership has been executed in your country? You'd not want that to happen to you.
The works in the photographs make us look at this period in time in the negative through a filter and it helps to dilute our feelings about it. When we can swallow the object, it makes it easier to digest and embody its truth. What is the truth in the Nazi period? What moral to the story is there? Is there anything positive we can learn from National Socialism once we filter out the bad things? Did the trains run on time?
These photos are of the so-called “Great German Art Exhibitions”, which showcased art made by commission from the Third Reich. Knowing that the aesthetic of each piece was due to a racist ideology perhaps changes the way we view them. If an evil person finds a beautiful woman beautiful, are we to deny her beauty? No, surely that's not fair. We have to transcend the initial desire to repel and allow ourselves to move beyond reactionary judgements.
Choose Love on Alternative Fruit is reader supported. Because of you, more people get to discover creativity and art for themselves. Thank you so much!
Follow the editor on Twitter