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WE ARE UNIQUE
If you started feeling like missing our column, here we are to proceed it. The letter T directly relates to ART (being its final character). Take it or leave it, T is the second most popular letter in the English alphabet (around 9,000 English words, including it), so get ready to meet new arT definiTions!
Raymond Georges Yves Tanguy (January 5, 1900 – January 15, 1955)
Born in the French-American family of a retired navy captain in Paris, Yves Tanguy was introduced to the world of arts through his friend, writer Jacques Prévert. Before joining the Surrealist group in 1925, young Yves did some sketching in cafes along with trying different jobs. The Surrealist group was led by the famous André Breton — the emerging artists (Tanguy among them) quickly developed the movement, shocking the public by numerous bizarre exhibitions. However, it wasn’t plain and easy from the start — one of the early screenings of Buñuel and Dali’s L’Age d’Or was sabotaged by some radicals who broke into the lobby of the cinema where the premiere was held and destroyed the works by Tanguy, Man Ray, Juan Miró and their fellows. But the surrealists were filled with determination to spread their art — and Yves Tanguy was a faithful member of the movement. Married twice, having had a love affair with the famous art dealer Peggy Guggenheim, finally receiving U.S. Citizenship in 1948, the artist never gave up surrealistic painting (at least, for a long period). Someone new to the world of art would say Tanguy’s paintings are as surrealistic as Dali’s artworks are, but there is a great difference between them. Having seen Giorgio de Chirico works in 1923, Yves Tanguy stayed inspired by the artistic manner of the former for the rest of his life. For this reason, Tanguy’s paintings have less to do with reality (so dreamlike and imaginary they look) than other surrealists’ works do.
The name of the movement derived from the French word ‘tache’ which means a stain. Tachisme was popular in the 40s and the 50s as a part of the larger Art Informel movement that praised a free usually gestural form of the artist’s expression, based on intuitive feeling. Whereas Art Informel was highly influenced by the surrealist doctrine of automatism and thus proclaimed the absence of any concept in a painting, Tachisme was more about a relaxed art procedure, considered to be a mere improvisation. Ideologically close to American abstract art, Tachisme wasn’t that radical and desperate, but it still remained a reaction to cubism and geometrical forms of abstraction. Curious that the name tachisme was officially coined by the French critics Charles Estienne and Pierre Guéguen in 1951, though the word had been used earlier to express impressionist and fauve techniques.
A Brazilian artistic movement that hardly lasted for a year, but left a significant mark both in the cultural and political life of the country. Finding its expression in different art forms such as film, theatre and poetry, Tropicalia movement is best known for its music part on the world scale. Marked by the so-called art installation of the famous Brazilian artist Helio Oiticica (1967), Tropicalia swept the everyday life of the citizens coming as an outcry against the severe governmental regime. Tropicalists identified the movement as a field for reflection on social history, getting to the roots of the national culture, then reconsidering the heritage in the terms of reality. Such bright Tropicalia representatives as band Os Mutantes, music artist Gilbert Gill, singer Gal Costa, songwriter Tom Ze and many others, mixed traditional Brazilian bossa nova and Portuguese fado with commonly popular psychedelic pop and rock music, coming up with some authentic compositions. To confront the repressing power of the authorities, Tropicalia activists referred to Manifesto Antropófago written by the Brazilian modernist poet Oswald de Andrade in 1928. Manifesto promoted the idea of Brazil ‘cannibalizing’ other cultures, thus not giving in European postcolonial cultural domination, which tropicalists willingly implemented into their practices. However, the increasing artistic activity of the movement caused the expanding of their political position (which was becoming more radical) — that couldn’t have been left disregarded by the powers. Tropicalia shows were finally forbidden to be performed in public in 1968, many members were exiled from Brazil. However, the impact Tropicalia had on life and mind of people (let alone, the history of music) can’t be overstated.
Vladimir Tatlin (December 16, 1885 – May 31, 1953)
Whatever revolutionary the art of avant-garde may seem, it’s artist Vladimir Tatlin who was a true rule-breaker. Leaving his home at the age of 13, he tried to earn a living working as a cabin boy. Sea voyages might have inspired the future artist, so that he entered the Moscow School of Painting, Sculpture and Architecture on returning to Moscow. However, his rebellious nature didn’t rest — hardly accepting any father figures and respecting his tutors (who included such famous Russian painters as Konstantin Korovin and Valentin Serov), young Tatlin was expelled from the School literally for poor performance and bad behavior. His second attempt to graduate from an art college took place in Penza but failed as well. For better or worse, nothing could prevent Vladimir Tatlin from making art. Meeting Mikhail Larionov in Moscow influenced his further artistic activity — Tatlin joined the well-known associations Knave of Diamonds in 1911 and Donkey’s Tail in 1912 — while seeing Picasso’s works in Paris presumably affected the artistic manner of Tatlin for his whole lifetime. However, Vladimir Tatlin wasn’t only a rebel, but a natural innovator — he sensed the upcoming wind of change in social life and implemented those alterations into arts. According to Tatlin, material, volume, and design became the new basis for any fine arts. Apart from painting, Vladimir Tatlin like many his contemporaries tried (and was successful in) clothes and theatre design, architecture, drama, teaching. Constructivism embodied social and cultural revolution which also matched the political one. Tatlin was excited about all that and just dived into performing his own groundbreaking creations — corner counter reliefs and planes further called Letatlin. The apex of Tatlin’s artistic creativity, the Monument to the Third International or Tatlin’s Tower made a splash at the World’s Fair in Paris (1925) but failed to impress the national powers. Soviet artists were supposed to move forwards to social realism, while Tatlin opposed it. For this reason, the artist’s first solo exhibition in 1932 was the one and only — his final 20 years of life Vladimir Tatlin worked as a book designer stepping aside from ideological struggles that conquered the realm of art.
Painting medium popular until 1500 AD when oil painting was discovered. Thanks to its consistency, binder egg yolk and colour pigments, tempera provided endurance for the painting and dried soon. Presumably Egyptians were the first to use tempera while making Sarcophagi decorations and mummy portraits, however, some ancient Indian rock-cut temples were also created with the help of tempera. Shrines and icons are a perfect example of this painting medium applied, but it doesn’t end there. Having faded into obscurity in the late Middle ages, tempera was first revived by the Pre-Raphaelites in the 19th century. Like following the lead, many 20th century artists (expressionists, surrealists, and magic realists among them) referred to the medium. Today tempera is still being used in the artistic practices.
Purplehaze Magazine enjoys meeting creatives — artists, designers, photographers who talk about their interesting life experience and share secret to success. This time we talk to Aleksandra Weld Queen, the artist who creates scale sculptures and installations by welding metal. And, yes, she does it herself because she is a qualified welding specialist. While Weld Queen is at work in her own castle (artist’s studio), her major works decorate both public spaces and private collections. How to combine arts and crafts, deal with artistic blocks and balance in the world where sexes do battle read below in the interview.
P.H. Hi Aleksandra! I wonder how you came to be Weld Queen? By the way, why Weld Queen exactly?
A.W. Well, you might say that this image came to me by chance. I created my first sculpture work in 2015 — waking up on one April morning, I imagined a huge meditating cat called Tikhvami and realized this was just me! I felt so much energy at that moment, so I was ready to throw myself into art. Of course, I was sure that my life wasn’t going to be the same as it used to be. I needed a kind of a stage name, so I asked a friend of mine for help. She’s a linguist. Together we could think of a couple of names but there was one that just hit me — Weld Queen, that’s how the choice was made. In fact, Weld is a noun or a short form of the adjective, for this reason many colleagues and partners tried to correct me all the time — say, you’d better call it Welding Queen. But I don’t really care as Weld Queen sounds fine.
P.H. You weren’t interested in art before 2015, were you?
A.W. Actually, I’ve loved arts and crafts since I was a child. Remember, at the age of 17 I enjoyed putting together LEGO model kits while many girls of my age were dating boys. I took up oil painting in 2007. It was more like a hobby for me, pretty naive. However, I quickly realized I was searching for more, so I asked my stepfather to teach me to work with metal (he is a big expert in this field). I started creating small sculptures — back then I had no grand ideas, but some images I wanted to bring from canvas to reality. I entered Welding Technologies at the Polytechnic College, as I was never aiming at receiving academic art education — I had to work instead. In fact, I didn’t see myself as an artist in those years, it came much later.
P.H. Honestly, the image of Weld Queen looks bold for Russia. Do they consider you to be a feminist? What is your attitude towards feminism, by the way?
A.W. Good question! No, I’m definitely not a feminist. I don’t feel like proving something to the opposite sex. I appreciate men and don’t see them as my competitors. They are more like my companions, there is much to learn from them: e.g. assurance, determination, manhood. By the way, I coined a special term to describe my attitude towards gender issues — neofeminism. I see it the following way: Russian women have recently started to realize their rights and possibilities, so they want to break free from dependence on men. In the Western countries the evolution has already taken place — everyone is aware of the girls’ power. But what comes next? Yes, women do have a right to work, to have leisure time that they can devote to their personal interests. I would say, it’s internal struggle that comes next as women try to prove all those notions to themselves. When you finally achieve this inner freedom and have some faith in yourself, you just leave the senseless battlefield. I enjoy exploring my gender role as well as the position of women in society while making art. In the performance Nutrient Medium I am sitting inside the woman-shaped metal case and “charge” mobile phones with my breast (in fact, charges are attached to the case at breast height). That’s how I observe the woman’s position — in a game, watching from outside. It can be a good engine. I accept femininity and related with it expectations that arise from society — however, I’m outside the game. I am glad I realized it. It’s a work done for good, not in spite of something.
P.H. Apart from making sculptures, you integrate your image into performances. Imagine, it can steal viewers’ focus from the art you make to your personality…
A.W. I don’t think it’s a problem. Meanwhile my artistic activity is running smoothly: I wouldn’t prioritize either sculpture or performance. My life itself is art, everything is interlinked and goes so naturally. Whatever I do, I explore the energy flow, choosing a proper medium through which I want to show the concept. Performance pieces just enhance the perception of my works. In fact, I fully identify myself with Weld Queen, nothing else exists for me at the moment. For example, yesterday evening I was going out with my friends. Guess what I had on? No, not jeans or trainers or any casual outfit, I just couldn’t dress like that! I had my hair done, just like a royalty, so I put on the Queen’s dress and grabbed an iron fan… I felt the way real woman might feel when they wear traditional clothes — totally accepted and approved by the society. My body seems to like this appearance but anyway it’s simply a convention, the one that embodies a stereotypical vision of woman’s dress. Personally I try to live as natural as possible, doing the things I like. You can see it in my art: I enjoy being Weld Queen and living her life.
P.H. Can you think of the work that you’re really proud of and the one that didn’t meet your expectations?
A.W. The Mother sculpture exhibited in Zaryadye Park is a very important work for me. It took me almost a year to create it: from the moment the idea was born until its complete realization. People who came to lie in the arms of the Mother shared their impressions — they reached the outer space, they say! Some of them came at night to avoid crowds and spend more time interacting with the figure. Visitors who had this experience appreciate the feeling of acceptance and protection they had in Her arms. Probably I fulfilled my duty bringing the Mother to life — It made people happy for a moment. You know, everything in life is a part of the World harmony, for this reason I don’t find any of my works disappointing. Actually, visions come to me, I don’t make them out, that’s why there is no point in hesitating, I just put my ideas into practice.
P.H. Does it mean that you never change the design of the objects during the working process?
A.W. Well, it happened once. I had an idea to create a woman-shaped figure wrapped into a robe. When my team and I started working, I suddenly felt I was going to change my mind about that image. As the steel casing showed up, it struck me — she doesn’t need any clothing! Later I understood why — the figure lacked openness and courage. Was I afraid to admit it to myself? Anyway, at that moment it became clear. We corrected the casing, so it all made sense. You see, it’s all about the inner feeling that guides you. Just stay true to yourself.
P.H. Does your creativity depend on such external factors as weather? I wonder if you work more or less on gloomy cloudy days…
A.W. Well, I don’t really depend on that. I love all the seasons and have no idea what Moscow melancholy (as we call it) is. Moscow is Moscow — sometimes it’s gloomy, sometimes it lacks sun. The latter is a problem, by the way, but still, it’s easy to solve — you just buy a plane ticket and fly away somewhere warm. Apart from this, I love this city. It’s beautiful in the meaning of architecture and culture and even weather. My studio is located on the territory of a real working factory, many trees grow there, so in autumn the ground is fully covered with colourful leaves, while in winter it’s all in the snow. Just stunning! In fact, I can’t understand people who don’t love place where they leave. If it’s so, why not to change it? However, this is hardly the case. Feeling bad inside, you won’t change things drastically just relocating to Goa or Thailand. You need an answer from within.
P.H. What about artistic blocks? Do you face any?
A.W. Yes, I do. However, they are not about the weather changing or anything happening in the outside world. When I have a work overload, I get quickly tired and start digging myself out. Here is what I found out: if you don’t feel good, a nice sleep, vitamins, hot tea and maybe an intimate conversation are all you need. Declines happen to everyone, however, I wouldn’t like to put it on public display.
P.H. Are you looking forward to participating in any specific exhibition/project?
A.W. As an artist I would really like to take part in Art Basel Miami. This summer I went to the art fair that focuses on the works by emerging artists called Scope Art Miami Beach. It’s been my fourth trip to the US, meanwhile my goal is to take a look around. I can’t think of any specific galleries I would like to work with yet. One thing is for sure — America is my destination, I am also interested in the Asian art market. I would say Western countries are more involved in the contemporary art field, local art institutions have much to offer to artists. The scope of services provided by some American galleries just amazed me — I could only dream of it!
P.H. Thank you for such an interesting conversation, Aleksandra! Before saying goodbye, please wish something to Purplehaze readers. ❤️
A.W. I wish you to listen to your heart, doing the things you enjoy. Trust yourself and follow your inspiration. If something gets you carried away, stop looking for excuses, just commit yourself to this activity. This is my secret to success.
UK based ‘Waste Free Fashion Collective’ present their zero-waste fashion catwalk at Soho House Berlin, presenting recycled fashion choices and advocating to make changes to the fashion industry. The catwalk was curated and organised by designer @erinlaurelhayhow and filmed by @jess_dadds, a brighton based videographer, documenting all the collectives catwalk films. The collective is a collaborative collection of talented makeup artists, hair stylists, designers, models film and photography. Erin is currently working on a new collection for AW20 that will be launching soon, and the collective are working on their next catwalk performance, so stay tuned.
SHAME ON WHO?
Photography, production, art-direction, post-production: Lotte Bruning Donskoi
@lottebruningphotography from agency @thenextchapteragency
Artist/Illustrator: Soraya Basiran @soraya_basiran for the agency @angeliquehoornmanagement
Styling: April Jumelet @apriljumeletstyling
Hair & Make-up: Liselotte van Saarloos @liselottevansaarloos for MAC Cosmetics, Bumble & Bumble and TUSH Brushes
Hair & Make-up assistant: Wout Philippo @woutphilippobeauty
Models: sisters Merel @merel_aj & Femke @femke__bloem from agency @tjardamodelmanagement
Photography assistant: Pim van Baalen @pimvanbaalen
Calder-Picasso / Musée national Picasso-Paris
Until August, 25
What do Pablo Picasso and Alexander Calder have in common? The most obvious answer might be: they both were striking artists and contemporaries. The current exhibition examines however a more profound resemblance — the Franco-Spanish painter and the American architect had a genuine interest for different dimensions what made them explore space and find new ways to interact with it. Whereas Calder’s pre-kinetic sculptures are full of a scientist’s curiosity and intellectual power, Picasso’s works are introspective and self-expressive at once. 120 works altogether of the two geniuses of the 20th century (shake, but don’t stir, please) are certainly something worth seeing in the city of (art) lovers.
What else to see: Berthe Morisot: Female Impressionist at The Musée d’Orsay; Bernard Frieze. Without Remorse at the Centre Pompidou
What else to see: Summer of love: art, fashion, and rock and roll at the Palais Populaire; Gustave Caillebotte: Painter and Patron of Impressionism at the Alte Nationalgalerie
What else to see: Summer of love: art, fashion, and rock and roll at the Palais Populaire; Gustave Caillebotte: Painter and Patron of Impressionism at the Alte Nationalgalerie
do not live in a big Russian city like Moscow or Saint Petersburg — I reside
in Rostov-on-Don. I learnt to find inspiration in everything, but still I am
really influenced by talented people, fashion and my own achievements.