Sketch pad

Sketch pad

Sketches, works and thoughts

New blog

WordPosted by Frederico Penteado Sun, March 23, 2014 14:07:49

I'm not sure how many people read or take any interest in what I write or show here but in the end it does not really matter (although I really thanks those who did), it could be just 1 or 1000. I do it for a "virtual" viewer or reader so to embody or rectify it in my mind: it is akin to the psychotherapy process of allowing your therapist in your mind space as a confessor or watcher for an inner dialogue. Even if the "therapist" doesn't say a word, it is there. Its cathartic presence is what is most important. It would not work if I put it down on paper and lock it in a drawer, I would forget and leave it.

I have decided that this blog is old, it does not reflect anymore what I am doing and is technically impossible to organize it as I want. So I decide to end it and create a new one and if anybody is interested just click here:

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Oskar Schlemmer

ArchivePosted by Frederico Penteado Sat, March 01, 2014 09:22:30
"Das Triadische Ballet" after the painter, sculptor and choreographer, Oskar Schlemmer. It is the discovery of masterpieces such as this that my "faith" in the artistic enterprise is renewed: or better saying, in the power of imagination and expression to give meaning to all things human .

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ArchivePosted by Frederico Penteado Thu, January 16, 2014 06:06:40
After dull moments I finally got unstuck and figured out a succession of frames that allow me to carry on my animation. When work becomes a bore or it's simply painstaking is because it's taking the wrong direction. One must always keep that joyful, playful side of making in other to create a meaningful, valuable work. It is like children at play: it is not really the toy that matters but the enthusiasm and joy of playing that does. A child can find amusement and interest in the most simple things because everything is new, the world is new, like if it has been created afresh. The most simple things propel or trigger imagination, so should be the mind of the artist. But there is a substantial difference in the mind of the child and that of the artist. Like the child the artist is imaginative, however, the child does not possess "creativity" it is solely "imaginative". For creativity is a form of cunning, a way to arrange solutions, a faster way to get from A to B, and the child lacks the maturity and experience to be cunning. Creativity and imagination are different things, but often confused. Imagination is the pure faculty of fantasy, creating in the mind, abstracting from reality whilst creativity is the capability of solving, fixing, inventing. So is the difficult balance between imagination and creativity: without imagination the artist is but a craftsman and without creativity a dreaming child.

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ArchivePosted by Frederico Penteado Sun, October 27, 2013 10:46:27
It has been a while since I touched consistently my blog and there are reasons for this, if anyone bothers. When I started this blog a few years ago, my intent was to post sketches, paintings and drawings, and also, write down my thoughts about, not only my artistic attempts but furthermore into other's works that I find inspiring (or not at all).

However since I have started, this blog, as it is natural my mind has shifted, so to speak, or better saying, my focus has shifted. When I started, shortly after my Master degree in Fine Art, my main focus was Painting, two dimensional representation using colour and shape. But step by step I grew increasingly disappointed with this particular medium or art form. I shall detail:

In my judgement the art of Painting has in its very essential nature a uniqueness that I find, as it stands now, inadequate for my aims. By uniqueness, I mean the "uniqueness" of an object of painting, the painting itself: as any painter knows, a painting is impossible to repeat and also impossible to copy or reproduce. Any copy or reproduction of a painting will be, obviously, a much lesser object. So paintings are unique objects, that happen only once in time, forever. Now this makes paintings similar to rare jewels and exquisite signatures: they are unrepeatable and not susceptible of being multiplied. This very nature of this art object shocks frontally with the my idea of art has something that should be easily accessible to a great number of people. This horrid "uniqueness" of the painting digs even deeper if we compare it to other art forms such as literature, music or film. Take for example two unquestionable masters of these arts, such as Dante or Tarkovsky. It is not the actual paper where Dante wrote the Divine Comedy that matters but the verses and the ideas they express: it doesn't really matter the book where his words are printed, but the words themselves and what they mean. Same with Tarkovsky: it doesn't really matter the original film stock which he recorded "Stalker" but the movie itself, the images, story and concept behind it, it does not matter if it's printed in a CD or DVD or in a file in your computer, what matters is the intangible quality of it. Now take the example of a painting by Van Gogh or Picasso: the object and the intangible quality of it is confused. If you had to choose between a printed copy of "The sunflowers" or "Guernica" and the original paintings you would not even think twice because, taking their monetary value apart, the actual paintings will be always ever much more full than any possible reproduction. So Painting is trapped in its own "uniqueness". To add to this,everybody can afford a copy of Dante's book or Tarkvosky film without losing the essential, intangible quality of them whereas the vast majority of people can only acquire cheap copies of Van Gogh or Picasso paintings and hope that the wealthy of this planet lend the masterworks they have on their walls or safes to public museums.

And this takes to another crucial point surrounding Painting, or broadly speaking, Fine Art, and what is called "the art world" or the market of art. Since art objects have this intrinsic unique nature to them, it is obvious that those objects that are sought after can fetch very high prices. In fact, some prices are so excruciatingly high that they only be compared to the pure speculation of sharky financiers or the high betters in a Las Vegas casino. This makes fine art a gamble of the rich (or the ubber rich even), in what once critic Robert Hughes called "a game between the rich and the ignorant, a bare but useful business". In a tendency that contradicts, again, what I think art should be, easily accessible to a great number of people, it closes itself within a circle of golden, inexpugnable walls. And of course almost every fine artist aspires to get into this golden circle, and the best they could wish is that their paintings are bought for high prices by rich snobs so they have them in their safes. Master Paul Klee once warned that "modern artist were not just curiosities of rich snobs" but his warning proved useless and his portent true. This has created such a stifling environment that fine art is almost at the risk of extinction as a significant cultural form: closed in profitable trends, driven by markets, the criteria of the auction and trend degraded it to the point of, maybe, no return.
Which leads me to the final point of my dissertation. Fine art and specially painting was in my opinion the most exciting and experimental art, the cutting edge of all the arts, by the beginning of the 20th century. Painting was the ultimate laboratory for artistic experiments, that would then influence all other art forms, from architecture to poetry, from music to film. Expressionism, surrealism, abstractionism, the first half of the 20th century, painters paved the way to almost every other artist in a raging fury of creativity and imagination. However on the second half of the past century, it lost its spearhead, its steam and became more and more a mere continuation of the past breakthroughs in repetitive formulas. With the appearance of Pop Art it degraded further and descended into more repetitious and soulless formulas. Pop Art was a direct negation of two of the most revolutionary aspects of modern art: abstraction and surrealism and vulgarized visual language with imagery borrowed from mass media. Conceptually shallow Pop art found it's biggest ally in the anti-art rants of Duchamp and so did many subsequent contemporary artists to hide their incompetence. As the old modern masters died of age, so it became more the scenario we have today: in most part nothing that is aesthetically satisfactory let alone a breakthrough. This gap left by painting, from the middle of the century on, was filled in my opinion by Music and Film, which then assumed fully many ground breaking forms and experiments. There is also a technological elemental to this: it is poignant that visual artists have come late to the digital age. While in Music, for example, there has been composers working with electronics since the late 40's but only in the 80's some artists shyly attempted to use a computer. Musicians have long use synthetisers, samplers and other machinery but if we look for an equivalent in Painting, which is software like Photoshop or CorelPainter it can only be found in the form of printmaking/illustration. This again is due to the "unique" nature of the object of painting. In my view, the art of Painting survives best in the form of Illustration or Printmaking (in which we need to include Photography), not only as experimental form due the new digital tools we have available but because the art of Illustration/Printmaking is now susceptible to be multiplied, infinitely without loss of its intrinsic, intangible quality because there is no distinction between the "original" and its "multiple". Of course, many painters will then look down on "Illustration" as a craft not a fine art, as if Caravaggio or Rembrandt for example did nothing but to illustrate passages of the Bible, but I shall not deter myself for now with narrow academical conventions.

I finish my short essay by saying that there are contemporary painters that I do appreciate, but taken as an art form it gradually imposed itself on me as being limited and somehow contrary to my current aims and visions. In the end all art forms derive from the same source, that is "Poetry or "Poesy"(to mean the essential drive of creation, not the activity of making verses or art with words) and in that sense I see myself as essentially as a "poet"to which a certain medium may serve or not.
With this I close one chapter, and move on to the next whatever it might bring.

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Art at its most

ArchivePosted by Frederico Penteado Thu, July 19, 2012 23:19:46

The picture on the left is a cheap plastic statue by Damien Hirst currently in front of Tate Modern advertising its six-month long exhibition in this respectable art gallery.
The picture on the right is an anatomic children´s toy that can be purchased on-line for £18.

I appreciate the money making cunning of philistines like Hirst and Serota but honestly....Im sure many dictators would appreciate their efforts to make a society where general population is totally impaired to art stimuli and respond only to kitsch and utterly uninspired objects.

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ArchivePosted by Frederico Penteado Thu, April 19, 2012 17:02:14
Today, Lu Ming, a tutor, approached me with a very particular request. She wants to know if I can get her any resource, books, websites about the subject of creativity. "The students and tutors are low in creativity", she added.

I agreed to help her since I could not do anything else to such poignant although naive request.

The definition of creativity itself is very difficult and proves to be an epic task. There may be plenty of books about creativity by philosophers, psychologists, neurologists, theorists of all kinds but all of them fail, I risk guessing, to give a final answer to that question. There is the also the question if "creativity" really exists, since it might mean that we "create" as if we would do something from nothing like gods, or if we rather "discover" new things, new perspectives that somehow were already there.

Whatever the answer may be one thing is for sure: creativity implies disobedience, non-conformity to the rule, the upsetting of established views and norms. It also implies a high degree of individual autonomy, a freedom that those creating grant to themselves. That is why Plato expelled the Poet from his autocratic utopia, the Republic, because the Poet upsets the order, he invents things, he imagines.

And of course there is no formula to turn someone into a "creative person". It is my opinion that it cannot be taught or demanded but only stimulated, fostered, given space to roam.

Fish grow according to the size of their aquariums: we cannot expect to have a shark inside a bowl of water. Or grow a forest within a fenced and roofed garden.

I have little idea how to help her, apart from pointing my own efforts with my students, but I will try.

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TV Star

ArchivePosted by Frederico Penteado Wed, February 22, 2012 08:34:28

A small extract of Henan TV news where I am offered a traditional paper cut artwork made by students of the university on the National Teachers day. I find amusing my minor celebrity status and I cannot but have an inside giggle when I see this. But this also shows how warmly welcomed I was in China in stark contrast with the indifference and sometimes disregard, (with few exceptions), I face in the West. To my resentment, in Europe I am often treated as good for nothing. In here at least I have been given the personal reward of being able to transmit to young people some of my skills and knowledge. Bless them.

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Mr Stormy Peng and Dafen, the painting village

ArchivePosted by Frederico Penteado Wed, February 01, 2012 14:45:11
I finally arrived to Shenzhen my last stop on this journey. The main purpose of this trip was to make giclee prints of the coloured illustrations for Dean Whittington's book. Two months ago I browsed China giclee printers, just to find three: the first in Beijing did not reply me. The second, in Shanghai was overpriced, and finally the third one in Shenzhen seemed ideal. Mr. Stormy Peng, the owner of a digital printmaking workshop was quick to respond me in an open and friendly manner. After we a long thread of emails we finally met this morning. He welcomed me warmly and the results of the prints could not be better. At lunch time we visited Dafen, the Painting Village, in the Buji District of Shenzhen just a stone throw from the workshop.

Dafen is a quarter with hundreds (if not in the thousand figure) of galleries and studios, inhabited by painters, calligraphers and their families. It could be called a factory of paintings if it wasn't set up like a neighborhood, with the galleries on the ground floor and the living quarters, flats above. Every single door is an art gallery. The production of oil paintings is enormous: stacks and stacks of oil paintings lean on the walls of galleries. The spaces often cannot contain the sheer quantity of painted canvas and they are forced to be displayed in the streets. Most of them copies and imitations, many of old and modern masters. The "sunflowers" of Van Gogh are ever present. From this place, tens of thousands of cheap Van Gogh's sunflowers have been shipped it is said. Such is the paradox...

But not all are imitations and copies. After our roaming around the village we stopped in this particular gallery. It was one of Mr. Peng's print costumers and I was about to be introduced to the exquisite technique of painted digital art. We went upstairs to the balcony to have jasmine tea and continue our long conversation. Soon, Li, the gallerist and wife of the painter Zhang Yulian, joined us. After a translated conversation she offered me to show her husbands creative artwork in a third floor. I was surprised and still not yet understand totally how it is done. Apparently, an original is photographed, then printed in giclee to which texture is added with acrylic. She told that the original painting is not sold but only the facsimiles. At this point my conceptions of originals and reproductions started to shaken with this overlapping of painting and printmaking. This could be considered a form of monotype because I know it is impossible to perfectly repeat a dab or stroke of paint. I left the room somewhat dazzled and head to the workshop to finish the first batch of my prints. By this time my dear host Mr. Peng and I had talked about nearly everything: western and eastern art, Chinese history, Europe, Buddhism and Christianity, love and death, print techniques... It was sunset when we finished the first fourteen prints.

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