The Artists Conundrum: An Oil Painters Journal

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At 34, he is quickly becoming known for his talent at capturing gestures, emotions, body language, and facial expressions that reflect the human condition.


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McGarren Flack, Walk the Line, oil, 30 x Although he also creates still lifes and landscapes, the figurative genre consistently offers Flack the most compelling narrative possibilities. Flack has an eye for capturing contemporary culture and conundrums. Two students sat side by side sharing an iPod, silently changing songs but never exchanging a word.


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  5. They therefore began to demand differentiation and authenticity in both subject matter and style. Others just submitted to the salons occasionally because of their shorter stays in Paris or because they had representation elsewhere. Private collection. One noteworthy Latin American painter to exhibit there was Anita Malfatti, who used the salon as a sounding board during her three years in Paris.

    Woman from Para , in particular, exemplifies her evolution as an artist in response to the critical environment in Paris. Miss Malfatti, whom we feared at the last exhibition to have been losing her personality and disappearing into academic mediocrity, gives us this time a new aspect of her originality and one could not deny the definitively modern character of certain influences which one recognizes in her work, in particular the ways in which Woman from Para is treated, picturesque silhouette— but picturesque painting not picturesque in essence —which is detached by a white curtain, with designs in very light gray.

    One finds, especially if one remembers certain paintings by Miss Malfatti, from several years ago, the path traveled since her last submission and the works so strongly influenced by Matisse. And this is not a reproach because under this influence, Miss Malfatti had shown us paintings which were far from being unimportant. The place name thus lends specificity to the image that the generic regionalism of Tropical lacked. Imagen 8 — Malfatti, Anita , Woman from Para, ca. In it, Malfatti undertakes a subtle play with muted colors and textures.

    This foregrounding of the decorative emphasizes the flatness of the picture plane in a manner similar to recent works by Matisse such as Decorative Figure on an Ornamental Background of But unlike Matisse, Maflatti has avoided vibrant color in her evocation of the decorative, eliminating a common signifier of the tropical.

    While deploying the decorative in her paintings could be dangerous, easily dismissed as innately feminine rather than modern, Malfatti controls her presentation by limiting her color palette, thereby differentiating herself from Matisse and facile associations with the tropical, and claiming her place as a modernist. Under the equalizing spell of the ornamental, the figure is no more important than the floral wallpaper or the potted plant that surround her.

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    Yet the iron railing and black shutters create a confined space, isolating her from the world, as if she were trapped unable to achieve her creative potential. Is this painting perhaps a statement on the status of women in Brazil?


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    Or a more personal expression of frustration at the limitations placed on women artists? Through the critical feedback Malfatti received on her submissions to the Autumn Salon she was able to refine her approach and find a voice as an artist that was both Brazilian and modern.

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    Provisional Painting

    Argentine sculptor Pablo Curatella Manes exhibited at the Autumn salon nearly every year from to as did Brazilian Victor Brecheret from to In it Lhote rails against those who expect art to look like nature, and instead asserts that the art world is distinct and should follow its own rules. Many artists used these modernist leaning salons as a proving ground or a venue in which to test and develop new ideas before facing the weightier consequences of an individual exhibition.

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    By exposing their work to professional critics in the Salon context artists were able to receive critical feedback and hopefully amass positive reviews of their work, which in some cases, was their primary ticket to success upon return home. Defining national identity was a fraught project, however, and many artists who had established French residency exhibited in the French section, although most Latin American artists seem to have exhibited under their country of origin.

    What do you think of the xenophobia of those men? What leaves me with a feeling of painful melancholy is confirming that foreigners are quickly losing their originality. And this, which is serious, should be enough so that they do not need to declare these absurd classifications by nationality. What greater proof do the French want of their influence than this, sad, of the abolition of the personalities of the foreigners who come to Paris?

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    Thus for Maribona, the situation was far worse for the foreigner than for the French artists. Yet the French still feared the impact of this growing foreign presence. Rego Monteiro wants us to believe that in Brazil one expresses oneself in the same way with oil painting as with the hardest stone. This association of style with national identity allowed the critic to disparage an entire nation with the stroke of a pen. Rego Monteiro seems to have been the only Latin American artist to submit a piece that addressed national identity in any way at all to the salon.

    While the painting was most likely completed before the controversy erupted, by submitting it to the salon Rego Monteiro was positioning himself in future debates as an artist who was willing to confront, exploit, and re-construe French expectations of primitivism and exoticism. Set against a flat charcoal grey background, the bodies of the three men and the beast form a pyramidal composition, with the tension mounting as the bodies merge at the apex.

    Oil Painter's Journal

    The crisp outlines and carefully modeled shadows create the illusion that the image has been carved in stone in low relief. The scene therefore alternates between a futuristic mechanized world, where people are machines of war, and an ancient primitive one in which the forces of nature present a perpetual threat. The School of Paris exists…we can confirm its existence and its attractive force that makes artists from all over the world come here…There are among them great artists, creators who give back more than they take.

    They pay for the others, the followers, the makers of pastiche, the second hand merchants, so others can remain in place and content themselves with coming to France to study the fine arts, returning home right away to exploit the goods they just have acquired and loyally spread throughout the world the sovereignty of French art.

    Foreign creators were an acceptable presence because they contributed to French culture, but the followers, despite the fact that they perpetuated the French tradition in their home countries, offered nothing in return for their participation in the schools, salons, and galleries of Paris. What seemed to be at stake for Warnod was that France was losing control of the parameters of artistic exchange. The subject invariably speaks for itself.

    But I think there is pathos in the work. I generally find the photos from car boot fairs, junk shops or on Ebay, where they are sold as job lots or in house clearance sales. Often worn, dog-eared, stained and with a patina that gives them an unknown history, these photos have been on a journey over the last half century that I know nothing about. So I engage in a kind of storytelling when I am planning a new work — I react to the object itself, to the composition, colours, and my subjective response to the imagined character of the person or place I see in the original photo.

    I title the works when they are finished and I can see how my intervention has highlighted or exaggerated a physical or perceived characterisation. Unlike painters, I am not faced with an intimidating blank canvas. Found objects start the conversation. I think that perhaps the fact that I use actual photographs in my work at a time when photography itself is taking on a new dimension — particularly with the sharing culture of social media has highlighted the nostalgia of the photograph as object.

    How great to have all ones photos on file, ready to crop, colour adjust and post online in a few seconds. But I miss my old photo albums and the paraphernalia that went with them.