Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Sad moments in history

If any country's history both past and present, is full of strife, it is Israel's.
American activist Rachel Corrie was killed by a bulldozer in 2003 as it attempted to demolish a home belonging to a Palestinian pharmacist. Recently a judge has cleared any reponsibility or negligence of the Isreali armed forces whilst the driver of the bulldozer claimed not to have seen her.

Corrie was wearing an orange high visibilty jacket and was protesting through a megaphone.

The relationship between America and Isreal has always puzzled me. As it probably does with anyone who gives a damn about human rights. How has this been allowed to continue on is beyond me.

*Photo taken by Tom Hurndall a British activist killed sometime after by an Isreali sniper. The Hurndall family are also looking for answers to their son's death.

Monday, 27 August 2012


This is an exciting day. I'm going to art class! My chance to pick up a pencil and try to do something I may lose interest in after a couple of days. Well, I don't think I will lose interest, I've always loved art and have always enjoyed going to art classes during my summers. It is a chance to improve, restore my love of art and get those artisitic fingers working.

Perhaps this divulging into the artistic sphere will work, perhaps not. For some, an innocent artistic venture does not always end so well and may unfortunately end rather terribly. News from Borja, Spain has swept the world recently. Beware of this woman:

Her name: Cecelia Gimenez

And do not allow her to restore any art in your church!
Ecce Homo (Behold the Man) by Elias Garcia Martinez

Cecelia Gimenez, a woman in her 80s, was allegedly given permission by the priest of the church to restore the painting. The restoration resulted into more of an accidental abolition and angered the family of Garcia Martinez, the original painter. Now, unfortunately the little old lady is not doing too well with being in the centre of a media storm. She is reported to be having panic attacks and has become somewhat of a recluse. The only advice I can give to her is that she needn't worry, for she was not the first:

Whistler's Mother: decapitated.

Wednesday, 22 August 2012

New Avenues

 Its lovely when you find an artist of your time that can draw, paint or write exactly how you feel. An artist that leaves you screaming in an orgasmic "YES!!!" when viewing their work. French artist Francoise Nielly's painted faces does this for me.

Loud. Proud. Unashamedly flourescent.

Unfortunately, a fan on her facebook page ruined this for me. "Give us something different!" He proclaimed. It was then, it dawned on me. She only ever paints faces. Maybe one face or maybe a group, but only faces. I did see her paint a horse once... but it was next to a face. Did an evil genie grant her this wonderful, artistic talent but in exchange she was forever doomed to only paint a human head?

"No" she retaliated. Almost a year later.

Francoise recently published a painting of hers that is both DIFFERENT and WONDERFUL. I give you ladies and gents, the new, though rather unimaginatively named, Untitled670

le corps - without a face!

A breath of new life blown down new avenues does no harm to no one. For me, I'll be returning to Spain soon for "la tercera ronda" - a third year! While I hope for this year to be a little different from the last few, I have learnt so much on this journey that I know I can only learn more. Whether it is more about Spain, my friends or about myself, the adventure will be restarting again in a couple of weeks.

I recommend to anyone that they should try to live abroad at some point in life. It is such a valuable rite-of-passage. However, it is also highly challenging and frustrating. I struggled with the language and struggled even more with always being the only Caribbean kid in town - which people love, hate or don't care about but would always judge me first for. Maybe not always, but more than necessary. That can be hard, even if they are being positive.

It doesn't matter what anyone thinks. What doesn't kill you makes you stronger so book your flight, pack your bags and watch your life take a new road to the horizon.


Tuesday, 21 August 2012

I Predict a Riot! Of the Russian Kind.

Oh, I've been spammed. How dare random users of the internet link their pornographic site to this blog! A certain website under a certain guise has fooled me into clicking onto their garbage. I guess this is a common occurrance in the blogosphere but not one that I'm privy to.

This website supposedly came from Russia but I've read online that its normally other countries pretending to be from eastern Europe that are the real culprits. One of these real culprits listed as being England. All in the name of schmuck.


It does, however, bring me "nicely" onto what I intended to blog about. And that is of a few unexpected Russian revolutionaries. Last Friday three members of the band Bikini Kill Pussy Riot were sentenced to two years in a minimum security colony on the grounds of hooliganism motivated by religous hatred.

Masha, Katia, Nadia
What strikes me most is that they are reported not to be crazy, political, madwomen hell bent on changing the world. According to the guardian, they "were lovely, sweet-natured, bright young things who just didn't see why they shouldn't have a voice."
From what I have personally seen through their interviews is that they seemed to have told each other to keep smiling and not to show their fear. Its bravery. Even during the sentencing they still wore those balaclavas. Not the ones of the bright, colourful kind, that they wear whilst perforning in their band, but the invisible balaclavas of their smiles and unbothered looks of "is this over yet?"
Pussy Riot
Some lucky escapees in balaclavas a symbol of Pussy Riot.

However, in my opinion, storming a cathedral is probably not the best idea. I feel many will not be able to see past the fact they were in fancy dress on an altar pretending to pray and playing punk. This is pretty much  the same thing as waving two middle fingers and blowing a big, fat raspberry at Russia's beloved Virgin Mary. However, they are young, they are female or known in Russian simply as devushki "girls" so how else will their voice be heard? I doubt Putin is down with the Russian youth, asking for their opinions and thoughts about how to lead the country. He has pretty much ruled Russia for fourteen years under numerous names such as: Leader of Russia, President of Russia, Director of the Federal Security Service, Chairman of the Council of... (we get it Vlads, you run this shit) to hell like the little people matter.

I hope, if people are able to look past that altar-punk-rock-momemt, they will see that Pussy Riot didn't intend any harm towards religion and Russia, they are just tired of the oppression they feel from a 60 year old man and links he has to the church as an institution and power therein. They've put the European spotlight of fame and blame uncomfortably on Putin and may get a few album sales to boot. Win, win, win.

Here's to hoping their sentence will get appealed so they won't be shipped off to Siberia and eaten by yetis.

And here's to hoping, most of all, that Russian (or whoever they are) spammers will stay away from my blog!

An added note: What is WITH the media transforming Nadezhda Tolokonnikova (Nadia) into some punk-rock protesting pin-up. This #&"@s me right off. Stop undermining them.

Yes, she is pretty, but that is not the point.

Wednesday, 15 August 2012

Banksy Conspiracy Theories

Banksy, the most famous graffiti artist of our age.

He can perhaps be most thanked for widening the audience to graffiti or, what it is now becoming more popularly known as: "street art". However, there is a famous problem with our famous stenciller: we say his name like we are familiar with him, we nod in understanding at his understated but strong political messages but, and most importantly, we do not have the slightest clue who he is.

Who is Banksy?

This post has been inspired by an impromptu visit to an exhibition close to Tottenham Court Road station showing the creations of one street artist named Mr. Brainwash. The work involved stunned me. A portrait of the Beatles made from cut up pieces of vinyl set on an uber-trendy Union Jack background? A gigantic gorilla made from tyres? Random white horses doused in paint? Yes, Please.

Life sized taxi

As I had no idea what the exhibition was all about but was loving every moment of it, I had to ask visitors what the hell I was seeing. Whilst I queued patiently to receive my free posters, one woman introduced me to the name "Mr Brainwash" but she firmly believed it was Banksy. I nodded eagerly in agreement like I totally knew about the whole Banksy argument.

But who is our favourite graffiti artist of the present day?  Despite all the international recognition and the fact that he must have to create his graffiti masterpieces out on the open road in public, Banksy has never been named. The most we are told about him from interviewers is that he is from Bristol, born in 1974 and wears tracksuits. The most he himself will ever say, judging by his minimalist website, is that he comes from a dysfunctional family and doesn't want an intern thank you very much.

Not only can we ask Who is Banksy? But who is Mr. Brainwash? The creator of this amazing exhibition I visited. The styles were so eerily similar. Thierry Guetta, who goes by the moniker Mr. Brainwash, has a very different persona to Banksy. For instance, he has a biography. According to LA Times: Guetta was born in 1966 in Garges-lès-Gonesse, a seedy suburb a half-hour drive north of Paris, the youngest of five children of Tunisian Jews who had moved to France to escape persecution. His mother died when he was a child, and when Guetta was 15, his father moved the family to Los Angeles.
From this, he sounds as real as can be. The story is surreal, about Tunisians that were Jewish and ended up living in LA but it has been concretly supported by public records and accounts from friends, past employers and family. This appears to support the argument that Guetta is real and does exist but it does not prove whether he is the alter ego "Mr. Brainwash". Guetta himself is not clear about this and only goes on to add that "in the end, I became his biggest work of art."

Whatever that means.

Perhaps its just my paranoia and distrust for everything I'm told, but I refuse to believe it all. Isn't Banksy/Mr. Brainwash a street artist? Where has all these differing mediums come from? I mean, one person who can create a gigantic tyre gorilla AND paint a replica of one of my favourite paintings but doctored into the modern age (look below)? I find it hard to believe. But if this really is all possible from only one pair of hands, I want to meet this person.
Edward Hopper Chop Suey updated
 When other artists have tried to do it, it rarely ever works. By "other artists" I am referring to my own opinion of Picasso who was an amazing sketcher, painter, etcher but when it came to making pottery and navigating craftier avenues without a wooden stick intervening I wasn't very impressed. So is Banksy, or ahem, "Mr. Brainwash" the seemingly impossible exception? I have trouble believing this.

He must be an amalgamation of artists. Perhaps a certain crowd from Bristol Arts School all cleverly conspiring together, you know, like they do at the Pentagon and Area 51 . They have a clever link of artists across the globe thus can perpetuate the myth to places like LA. It is perhaps a response to the modern day which asks the question: who buys art these days anyway? These are tough times. For many, paying the mortgage and buying food in a time of job scarcity tends to take more presidency over art pieces. However, artists need food too. What else can they do rather than simply create a pretty yet satirical piece of work that is only admired and never purchased?

For me, this is where art becomes clever. Banksy would never have become such a hit if we knew everything. Curiosity is human nature, intrigue of the unknown is what we crave. It is easier for many to fall madly in love with the unattainable: "I want that Cartier watch!" "Why doesn't my ex-girl/boyfriend want me back?" "Her food choice looks better than mine, I wonder if she'll mind if I take some?" It drives us mad but its what we believe is best for us.

I, for one, enjoy the conspiracy around it. There may, by all means, be just one artist taking to the streets with a hoody and spray can and perhaps also I could follow suit and remove my "About Me" page..
Or, ermm, on the other hand, nahh thanks! Its a conspiracy and my "About Me" page will remain as is!

More conspiracy hunting can be done by watching the film "Exit Through the Gift Shop" featuring Banlsy and Mr. Brainwash which I am yet to watch, so haven't included in this blog.

INTERVIEWER: Are you still friends with Mr. Brainwash?
: I like to think so. When I asked him what he thought about the film he said "This is a cult movie, this is a classic movie, this movie stands alone, like The Godfather."

Tuesday, 14 August 2012

Art History for Dummies

Sometimes things just need to be put into Layman's terms. Especially when it comes to learning about things that catch us post our obliged, compulsory academic heydays.

So, to give me the art history lessons I never had but will now, I salute you Spencer. He somehow manages to make this topic both understandable and interesting, away from the dusty shelves of a stuffy lecturer's personal library.

Art Nouveau vs. Art Deco