Gabriel Morcillo Raya

The Paintings of Gabriel Morcillo Raya

Born in Granada, Spain, in February of 1887, Gabriel Morcillo Raya was a painter and teacher. His oeuvre is composed mainly of figurative works and landscapes influenced by Orientalism, a movement which was particularly influential in Spain, due to Spain’s exceedingly dense and complex  relations with Islamic culture.

Gabriel Raya initially studied painting under the tutorage of his aunt Paquita Raya. He later attended Granada’s School of Fine Arts, where he studied under landscape and genre painters Miguel Vico Hernández and José de Larrocha González. In 1907, Raya relocated in Madrid to continue his studies under Valencian painter and illustrator Cecilio Plá y Gallardo: however, due to financial reasons, he was impelled to return to his hometown of Granada. In 1910, Raya received a grant from the Granada Provincial Council which enabled him to travel back to Madrid for further studies. 

Raya exhibited his work during his years in Madrid and earned in 1912 an honorable mention for the work he presented at National Exhibition of Fine Arts. In the same year, he was appointed director of the Residence of Painters of the Alhambra. Two years later, Raya returned to Granada and, in 1918, was awarded a scholarship to the Academy of Painting in Rome, which he did not accept. His work began to challenge the pictorial content of the time with its more concrete detail and use of movement and color.

In 1925, Gabriel Raya became an academician of the Royal Academy of Fine Arts of San Fernando, Granada’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts, and the Royal Academy of Fine Arts at San Telmo. He accepted the position as Professor of Decorative Painting and Natural Figure in 1927 at Granada’s School of Arts and Crafts, where he influenced several generations of local artists, among whom was the painter José Guerrero whose later work  became known for its chromatic masses of color, and Miguel Pérez Aguilera, whose development of his own pictorial language played an important role in contemporary Spanish art.

Raya had his first exhibition of his orientalist works in 1944 in Granada and achieved great success at exhibitions held in Buenos Aires, New York City, and Venice, Italy. During the period from  1955 to 1960,  he traveled to Madrid to paint portraits of Francisco Franco and his wife, and Admiral Carrero Blanco and other members of Madrid’s high bourgeoisie. Raya received the Silver Medal of the Red Cross, a decoration for those people whose voluntary actions supported the Spanish Red Cross, and, in 1951, the Grand Cross of the Order of Alfonso X the Wise for merit in the field of culture. 

Gabriel Morcillo Raya passed away in Granada in December of 1973, at the age of eighty-five. Several of his works, including the 1916 “Dwarf El Puerto Real”, can be seen in the collection of Granada’s Museum of Fine Arts. 

Note: An interesting article on the orientalist movement is “Editorial: Spain and Orientalism” by Anna McSweeney and Claudia Hopkins which is located at Taylor & Francis Online:  https://doi.org/10.1080/17561310.2017.1316039

Insert Images: 

Gabriel Morcillo Raya, “Muchachos”, Initial Stucy, Date Unknown, Watercolor on Paper, 57 x 47 cm, Private Collection

Gabriel Morcillo Raya, “Self Portrait”, Date Unkonw, Oil on Canvas, Private Collection

Christoper Soden: “Dionysus”

Photographers Unknown, Dionysus

i am wielder of chaos
bearer of cozy poison
hidden son of jupiter
gestated from his thigh
supple strapping boy
follow the crooked
steps of spontaneous
capering i will soothe
your terrified gaze
summon frantic defiant
nymphs to slake
your thumping skull
with tender anarchy
my fierce priestesses
in robes of moonlight
diaphanous cobweb
will sing lilting implacable
spells to wreck
planets in their courses
wine and feral milk spouting
from tap of hyssop branch
i will swaddle you
in mother night caress
you with snake tongue
drizzle silky
secret language
of the rapacious
in your ear nudge
succulent fissure
yearning for arc
of scalding bliss
sap of brief
delectable death

Christopher Soden, Dionysus

Born in Texas, Christopher Soden is a poet, playwright, and a critic of film, literature and theater. He attended the Vermont College of Fine Arts where he received in January of 2005 his Masters of Fine Art in Poetry. Soden has taught classes on the craft and theory of poetry, English literature, and the process of publication; he currently teaches literature in the Continuing Education Program at the Dallas College Richland Campus.

Soden’s first full-length poetry collection, “Closer” was published by Rebel Satori Press in June of 2011. While realizing that one can get only so close to another being, the works in this collection, written mostly in free verse, display the persistent sense of longing that one has for another. Soden’s collection of confessional narratives present an honest look at same-gender sexuality, maleness, loss and regret, and the complexity of the human condition.

Christopher Soden’s “Queer Anarchy”, a collection of short plays, monologues and performance pieces, dealt with gay and lesbian life in America; it received the Best Stage Performance award from The Dallas Voice, the first newspaper to represent Dallas’ LBGTQ community. Two of his plays, “Water” and “A Christmas Wish” were staged at Dallas’ Bishop Arts Theater Center. Other plays written by Soden include “All That Glitters Ain’t Goldie”, “Lizards Need Love Too”, and “Space Cowboy, Aunt Velma and the Macaroon”.

Soden received a Full Fellowship to Lambda Literary’s Retreat for Emerging LBGT Voices. He is a member of the Distinguished Poets of Dallas, the Poetry Society of America’s Poetry in Motion Series, and is a Founding Member and President Emeritus of the Dallas Poets Community. Soden’s poetry has appeared in many print and online magazines, including G&L Review and Chelsea Station; he currently writes for the Dallas Art Beat, the Examiner.com, and the online theater review, sharpcritic.com.

“I remember the first time I heard Sylvia Plath’s ‘Lady Lazarus’ in a writer’s workshop I was taking. Our teacher, Jack, read it aloud, and I was unacquainted with Plath and her poetry. Didn’t even know she was dead. As anyone who knows the poem can tell you, it gathers steam and just continues to escalate by way of rage and audacity. Plath just keeps pushing and pushing until you think she couldn’t possibly go any further, and yet she does. By the time Jack finished with those three lines, ‘Herr God, Herr Lucifer, Beware. Beware. / Out of the ash I rise with my red hair, / and I eat men, like air,’ I could feel deep shudders traveling up my back. My scalp was ablaze. Until that moment I didn’t even know such poetry was possible. That was when I knew I wanted to be a poet.”

– Christopher Soden

Alojz Klimo

Paintings by Alojz Klimo

Alojz Klimo was a Slovakian painter, graphic artist and sculptor who, along with Milan Dobeš and Miloš Urbásek, is considered to be the founding representative of geometrical and constructionist art in Slovakia. 

Born in Pieštany in 1922, Klimo attended the Department of Drawing and Painting of the Slovak Technical University from 1941 to 1945, where he studied under Maximillán Schurmann and Gustav Mallý, both influential in the development of Slovakian modern painting. From 1945 to 1948, he studied under painters Jan Bauch and Antonin Pelc at Prague’s University of Applied Arts. Klimo returned to Slovakia in 1948 and settled in the city of Bratislava where he lived and worked until his death in October of 2000. 

Alojz Klimo developed his expression of art gradually. Inspired by prewar European modernism, he was known for his expressive paintings by the end of the 1950s. The drawings and graphic work he produced in this period were influenced by the national and folk traditions of his native country. Fascinated by the progressive technology, architecture, and industrial landscape of the early 1960s, Klimo’s work moved progressively towards abstractionism. 

By the end of the 1960s, Klimo’s work was characterized by symbols, signs, and pictograms which served as commentaries on both the positive and negative manifestations of contemporary civilization. The basic building blocks of his artistic language were triangles, squares, rectangles and circles portrayed in multiple variations to form a wide spectrum of motifs. His dynamic paintings with their vivid colors and simple compositions  illustrated the possibilities of a formalized geometrical style. 

Alojz Klimo regularly used symbolic motifs of urban scenery in his work. The themes of streets, crossroads, and roofs of houses appear throughout his work, either as paintings on wood panels or graphics produced with linocuts. The image areas are divided into individual fields, designated by bold black lines. Klimo’s most significant and best known “Crossroads” series depicted fields created by accentuated diagonal lines; the fields of the “Windows” and “Roofs” series were formed by systems of rectangles and squares. Each segmented field in his work was depicted by specific colors of pure tones, a technique which was similar to that used by American artist Roy Lichtenstein. 

Since 1945, Klimo was a member of an artist group called August 29, and later, in 1967,  became a member of the Club of Concretists, an organization of geometrical abstract artists. . The Club of Concretists was banned in Czechoslovakia in 1970 during the period of political normalization, which was characterized by the loss of the reforms gained during the more liberal government of Alexander Dubček. For Alojz Klimo, it became difficult period in which to exhibit his works. As such, he devoted his time to illustrating books, particularly children’s books, and also creating monumental sculptures for architectural details.

During his lifetime, Alojz Klimo presented his work in twenty-five solo exhibitions in Slovakia and abroad. He also participated in more than two hundred collective exhibitions in Slovakia and other countries, including the Czech Republic, Austria, Italy, Sweden, Egypt, Mexico, and the United States. In both 1958 and 1960, Klimo represented Czechoslovakia at the Twenty-Ninth and Thirtieth Venice Biennales. In 1970, he exhibited his large, moveable sculpture, entitled “Colored Transformations” at the Czechoslovak Pavilion of the World Expo in Osaka, Japan. 

Klimo’s works, which include paintings, wood cuts, graphic work, and sculptures, are represented in the galleries and private collections in Slovakia, Hungary, Czech Republic, Germany and Austria.

Image Insert: Alojz Klimo, Poster for Slovak Fund of Creative Arts, 1966, Serigraph on Paper, 28.5 x 20 cm, Private Collection

Herbert List

Photography by Herbert List

Herbert List was a classically educated artist who combined his fascination with  Surrealism and Classicism with his love for photography. His austere, classically posed black and white compositions, particularly his Greek and Italian homoerotic nudes, became a prominent influence on both fashion and contemporary photography. 

Born in Hamburg, Germany, in October of 1903 to a wealthy business family, Herbert List  studied art and literature between 1921 and 1923 at the University of Heidelberg. In 1923, he began to travel for the family’s coffee business, Kaffee-Import Firma List & Heineken. List made contacts and visited plantations in Costa Rica, Guatemala, Brazil and El Salvador; during this four year period, he began to record his travels photographically.  

Through his connections to the European avant-garde, List became associated with  American photographer Andreas Bernhard, known for his dynamic black and white city scenes and natural structures. Bernhard  introduced him to the Rolleiflex camera which allowed for more sophisticated compositions. Beginning in 1930, influenced by the Bauhaus artists and  the emerging surrealist movement, List began photographing still life and portraits of friends, often employing draped fabrics, masks, and double exposures. 

Once the National Socialist Party was in control of Germany, the Gestapo began to pay attention to Herbert List’s openly gay lifestyle and Jewish heritage. In 1936, he left Germany for Paris and decided to begin a professional career as a photographer. During 1937 List maintained a studio in London and held his first solo show at Galerie du Chasseur d’Images, the first Paris gallery dedicated to photography.  Starting in 1936 with a reference from fashion photographer George Hoyningen-Huene to Harper’s Bazaar magazine, List began a three year period working as a fashion photographer for various magazines, including Verve, Vogue, and Life.

Dissatisfied  with fashion photography, List returned to his still life and portraiture  work. He traveled throughout Greece from 1937 to 1939 where he took photographs of ancient temples, sculptures and landscapes; two hundred of these photographs would be published in his 1953 “Licht Über Hellas: Eine Symphonie in Bildern”. During this time, List supported himself with work for magazines and the press, and by doing portraiture work. 

Working in Athens, Herbert List hoped to escape World War II; however, when troops invaded Greece, he was forced in 1941 to return to Germany, where, due to a grandparent’s Jewish heritage, he was denied the ability to work or publish professionally. Near the end of the war in 1944, despite his Jewish heritage, he was drafted into the German military and served in Norway as a map designer. A trip to Paris during his military service allowed him the opportunity to photograph images of Jean Cocteau, Pablo Picasso, Georges Braque, Jean Arp, Joan Miró, and other artists.

After the war, List continued to live in Munich until 1960, where he photographed its ruins and produced freelance photo essays for newspapers and magazines such as Look, Picture Post, Heute, and Harper’s Bazaar. List was made art editor in 1948 for the Swiss-German language, daily free newspaper Heute, which was published by the Allied Forces. In 1951 through an invitation by photojournalist Robert Capa, he started contributing photographs to Magnum, an international photographic cooperative. 

Through the next decade Herbert List focused his interest on photographing life in Italy. where he shot photo essays, street scenes, architectural views, and portraits using a 35 mm camera and a telephoto lens. His work became more spontaneous and was influenced by the Italian neorealist film movement and the work of his Magnum colleague Henri Cartier-Bresson. List ’s travels for his photographic work was extensive, including trips to Spain, France, Mexico, and the Caribbean. 

List’s publications include “Rom”, a collection of his work in Rome, published in Munich in 1950:“Caribia”, his Caribbean Island series published in 1958: “Nigeria”, published in 1963; and “Napoli”,  a 1962  collaboration with Italian director Vittorio de Sica. List is best known for his  1988 book “Junge Männer”, a collection of seventy images of young men lounging in the sun, wrestling, or gazing at the camera. The introduction of the book was written by English novelist Stephen Spender, who fictionalized List as Joachim Lenz in his novel “The Temple”. 

Herbert List passed away in Munich on the 4th of April in 1975. His archive of photographs, originally part of the Ratjen Collection, is now housed in the National Gallery in Washington DC. His work is held in many private and public collections, including New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, Boston’s Museum of Fine Art, Kunsthaus Zürich, Cologne’s Museum Ludwig, Munich;s Stadtmaueum, and the Musée Picasso in Paris.

Insert Images:

Herbert List, “Self Portrait, Herrsching”, 1947, Silver Gelatin Print

Herbert List, “Man and Dog”, 1939, Gelatin Silver Print

Photographer Unknown, “Herbert List and Max Scheler, Venice”, 1952, Silver Gelatin Print, Mas Scheler Estate

Herbert List, “Young Man Under Reed Roof, Torremolinos”, 1951, Gelatin Silver Print

Ane Brun and Fleshquartet, “The Opening”

Ane Brun and Fleshquartet, “The Opening”, “Wallander”, Season Three Closing Theme, 2012, Vocal Recorded by Conny Wall Gig Studio 

Born Ane Kvien Brunwoll in March of 1976 in Molde, Norway,  Ane Brun is a songwriter, guitarist, and a vocalist of Sami origin, the indigenous Finno-Ugric people inhabiting the northern parts of Finland, Norway, Sweden and the Kola Peninsula of northwest Russia.

The daughter of jazz singer and pianist Johanne Brunwoll and lawyer Knut Brunwoll, Ane Brun studied music and law at the University of Bergen, and, during that time, began writing her own music compositions and lyrics. After playing a few minor shows, she recorded her first demos in Bergen in 1999. After settling in Stockholm in 2001, Brun focused all her energies on her musical career. 

Brun’s debut album, entitled “Spending Time with Morgan”, was recorded in 2002 in both Uppsala and Stockholm, Sweden. It was released in 2003 on the DetErMine label, a company founded by Brun and Ellekari Larsson, the pianist and vocalist of the Swedish band “The Tiny”. Following two years of European concert tours, Brun released her second album, entitled “Temporary Dive”, which was produced by Katherina Nuttall and released worldwide between 2005 and 2007. The album was well received with award nominations from all over Europe; and it was awarded the Spellemannpris, the Norwegian equivalent of the Grammies, for Best Female Artist. 

Ane Brun released her album “Duets” in November of 2005. This album contained duet collaborations with, among others, Canadian singer Ron Sexsmith; French musician and composer Teitur Lassen; Syd Matters, the French band of composer Jonathan Morali; and a collaboration with the band Madrugada on the single “Lift Me”, which earned Brun another Spellemannpris award. As of 2020, Brun has released a total of nine albums, of which two are gold albums, one platinum album, and two albums, “Duets” and “It All Starts with One”, which became platinum twice.

Ane Brun continues to tour and has appeared in  multiple stage arrangements from solo acoustic to a full band with string section. She currently lives in Stockholm, Sweden, where she writes, records and manages her own recording label, Balloon Ranger Recordings.

“The Opening” is a haunting and fitting theme song for the main character in the Swedish television series, “Wallander”, which stars actor Krister Henriksson in the title role. Adapted from author Henning Mankeil’s Kurt Wallander novels. the three-season series is set in Ystad, Skåne, near the southern tip of Sweden, The thirty-two episodes follow the life and cases of Detective Wallander, a man with few close friends and tentative relationships with colleagues, who towards the end of his career suffers memory loss and gradually succumbs to Alzhheimer’s disease. 

“The Opening is a song whose lyrics and melody were written by myself with the music and production handled by the Fleshquartet. I got the script for the very last Wallander film, and wrote these lyrics inspired by the main character. It’s about trying to move forward when you find yourself at a standstill. It’s an encouraging song about daring to take a step in any direction when you feel stuck. Sometimes it’s just a small step or a short conversation – or sometimes just a single word – that can set off the necessary process of change.”  —Ane Brun

Jasper Johns

Jasper Johns, “0 Through 9”, 1960, Lithograph, 76.2 x 55.9 cm, Private Collection

Born in May of 1930 in Augusta, Georgia, Jasper Johns is an American painter, printmaker, and sculptor who is associated with Abstract Expressionism, Pop Art, and the Neo-Dada movement of the 1950s and 1960s. He is best known for his series of flags, targets, maps, letters and numbers. In 1954, after burning all his previous artwork, Johns started introducing numbers and text into his abstract paintings. Because he incorporated well-known motifs into his art, the work is defined as both abstraction for his use of stripes and circles, and representational for his use of targets and flags.

Jasper Johns spent his early years in South Carolina, an area he considered an artistic wasteland. After making the decision to become an artist, he studied for three semesters at the University of South Carolina; he later moved to New York City where he studied briefly at the Parsons School of Design in 1949. With the advent of the Korean War, Johns was stationed in Sendai, Japan, for a two year period from 1952 to 1953.

After his return to New York, Johns met artist Robert Rauschenberg in 1954 and soon began an intense, emotional relationship and artistic collaboration. Rauschenberg was an intense, spontaneous, energetic personality; while Johns was a more shy, intellectual personality with a slow deliberate style. This contrast led to private heated moments but also great creative accomplishments. In the 1950s, during the six years they were together, Johns and Rauschenberg produced many works which today are considered iconic masterpieces, such as Johns’ two series, “Flags” and “Targets”, and Rauschenberg’s “Combines” series.

In 1959, art dealer Leo Castelli met with Rauschenberg to discuss his upcoming gallery exhibition. This meeting led to Castelli’s discovery of Jasper Johns’ downstairs apartment with its trove of paintings from the “Flags” and “Targets” series. Castelli signed Johns immediately. In the years that followed, while Rauschenberg’s career waned and, for a time, faltered, Jasper Johns’ career thrived. His first solo exhibition in 1958, based on his series of American flags, sold out with four of the works being purchased by the Museum of Modern Art. By the beginning of the 1960s, Johns’ and Rauschenberg’s aesthetic, romantic, and professional conflicts led to the break in their relationship and a concentration on their individual careers.

Johns was introduced to lithography in 1960 through an invitation by Russian-American printmaker Tatyana Grosman to produce prints at her publishing company, Universal Limited Art Editions. Hesitant to work with what at that time was considered an antiquated medium, he was encouraged to proceed by friend and artist Larry Rivers. Since 1960, Jasper Johns has worked on developing various printmaking techniques to investigate and develop his existing compositions.

Johns’ first completed print was the 1960 “Target”; however, having been exploring numeric figures since 1955, his inaugural attempt at a printed series was based on the symmetrical and easily configured number zero. This initial lithograph series, entitled “0 Through 9”, consisted of the numbers 0 to 9 superimposed over each other to create numerous compositions. Although elements of all the numbers are visible, the individual numbers, removed from their original context, become difficult to distinguish.

This reduction of the combined numbers to a numeric motif places the attention of the viewer on the work’s pictorial composition and technique. It is the numeric motif to which Johns has returned most often, exploring it in paintings, drawings, print, and sculpture. He has produced more variations on it than any other subject matter.

Often regarded as one of the fathers of conceptual art, Jasper Johns received in 1960 the Vincent van Volkmer Prize, a highly endowed biennial art prize. In 1963, he and long-time friend, American avant-garde composer John Cage, founded New York City’s Foundation for Contemporary Arts. a non-profit foundation which offers financial support and recognition to performing and visual artists. Johns received the National Medal of Arts in 1990 and the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2011.

Insert Images:

Fred W McDarrah, “Jasper Johns- Whitney Museum”, 1977, Gelatin Silver Print

Jasper Johns, “6”, Portfolio “0 t=-9”, 1963, Lithograph, Edition of 10, 52.1 x 40 cm, Private Collection

Rachel Rosenthal, “Robert Rauschenberg and Jasper Johns- Pearl Street, New York City”, 1954, Gelatin Silver Print, Rachel Rosenthal Trust

Sjohnna McCray: “We’re Mostly Made of Water”

Photographers Unknown, We’re Mostly Made of Water

Driving the highway from Atlanta to Phoenix
means swapping one type of heat for another.
A bead of sweat rolls over my chest,
around my belly and evaporates
so quickly I forget I’m sweating.
Body chemistry changes like the color
of my skin: from yellow to sienna.
My sisiter says, it’s a dry heat.
At dusk, lightning storms over the mesas.
Violets and grays lie down together.
Mountains are the color of father’s hands,
layers of dark–then light.
People move west to die, retire in a life
of dust, trade the pollen of the south
for a thin coat of grit, the Arizona desert–
promesas, promesas.
We stop on the outskirts of town
and think about being reborn.
When he places his mouth near my mouth
because he’s so obviously thirsty,
when he moves to the well
where my tongue spouts out
because we’re mostly made of water
two-thirds of me is certain:
este infierno vale la pena.

Sjohnna McCray, I Do, 1972

Born on March 7, 1972 in Cincinnati, Ohio, Sjohnna McCray is an American author and poet. He earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Ohio University and his Master of Fine Art from the University of Virginia, where he was a recipient of the Henry Hoyns Fellowship. McCray also received his Master of Arts in English Education from the Teachers College at Columbia University.

Growing up in the diverse working-class neighborhoods of Cincinnati, McCray was raised by his mother and his father, a Vietnam War veteran. Influences on his work include contemporary poets James Wright and Sharon Olds; Lucille Clifton, a finalist twice for the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry; Robert Hass, Poet Laureate from 1995 to 1997; and Robert Hayden, the first African-American to serve as Consultant to Poetry to the Library of Congress, a post now known as Poet Laureate.

Sjohnna McCray’s poetry collection “Rapture”, a chronological poetic narrative published in 2016 by Graywolf Press, was selected by Poet Laureate of the United States, Tracy K. Smith, as the winner of the 2015 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets. The poems in the latter half of the collection portray some of the intimate and middle-age aspects of gay life. McCray has also be honored with the Intro Journal Award from the Association of Writers and Writing Programs, Ohio University’s Emerson Poetry Prize, and a Pushcart Prize nomination.

McCray’s poetry is interwoven with family memories, history, and the issues of race and desire. In addition to his poetry, he has published essays on race, mental illness, and homosexuality in numerous journals. His poems and essays have appeared in Tin House Online, The Southern Review, The Tahoma Literary Review, StorySouth, The Columbia Daily Tribune, and Harpur Palate.

Sjohnna McCray has taught in Chicago, Phoenix, and New York City. He and his partner currently live in Savannah, Georgia, where he teaches in the English department of the Savannah State University.

“My partner and I have been together for seventeen years and in retrospect, before gay marriage was legal, our commitment was sealed when we decided to mover across the country- to the desert. The poem (“I Do”) attempts to address how external shifts in landscape can transform and reflect on what’s going on internally.”- Sjohnna McCray, 2021

Lee Friedlander

Lee Friedlander, Photographs from the “The Little Screens” Series

Born in Aberdeen, Washington, in July of 1934, Lee Friedlander is an artist and photographer known for his innovative images depicting America’s city streets. His candid street photography captured the light and content in the country’s urban landscapes.

At the age of eighteen, Friedlander began his formal studies of photography at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, California. In 1956, he settled in New York City, where he photographed jazz musicians for record album covers. Friedlander’s early work was influenced by Swiss photographer and documentary film maker Robert Frank, best known for his 1958 book “The Americans”; Walker Evans, known for his Depression Era images taken with a large-format view camera; and the French pioneer of documentary photography Eugène Atget, known for his scenes of Paris’ streets and architecture. 

Awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1960, Lee Friedlander was able to focus on his photography, which is primarily executed with hand-held Leica 35 mm cameras and black and white film. Friedlander’s street photography featured detached images of ordinary urban life, including structures framed by fences, gas stations, parking lots, store fronts, churches and commercial signs and posters. In his work, he cleverly used reflections and shadows, often shooting images at strange angles or through car windshields. Friedlander has also used car mirrors to frame an image within an image. 

Friedlander is constantly aware of the photographer’s relationship to the picture plane; and he places at least as much importance on it as on the image’s apparent subject which could be an empty street, a store window, or an unremarkable piece of town statuary. Friedlander’s photographs often contain his shadow and/or his reflection, a self-portrait which lends an odd edge to his observations.

Friedlander had his first solo exhibition in 1963 at the International Museum of Photography located at the George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. Along with photographers Diane Arbus and Garry Winogrand, he was a key figure at curator John Szarkowski’s 1967 “New Documents” exhibition at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, an influential exhibition which generated a new look in documentary photography. 

Lee Friedlander has published books regularly: the 1969 “Work from the Same House”, a collaborative effort with artist Jim Dine; “Self-Portrait” published in 1970; the 1981 “Flowers and Trees”; the 1985 retrospective “Lee Friedlander: Portraits”; “Nudes” published in 1991; and the 1992 “The Jazz People of New Orleans”. Friedlander has received a number of awards for his photography, including three Guggenheim Fellowships, five National Endowment for the Arts Fellowships, and a MacArthur Foundation Award. 

Friedlander is also responsible for rescuing and printing the negatives of early twentieth-century New Orleans photographer Ernest Joseph Bellocq, remembered for his haunting photographs taken in Storyville, New Orleans’ legalized red-light district. These photographs were published in the 1996 “Bellocq: Photographs from Storyville”, with an introduction by photographer Susan Sontag.

Note: In the early 1960s, Lee Friedlander’s attention was drawn to television sets, a relatively recent luxury appliance. His series “The Little Screens” first appeared as a 1963 picture essay in Harper’s Bazaar magazine, with a commentary by photographer Walker Evans. Six untitled photographs showed television screens broadcasting glowing images of faces and figures into unoccupied rooms in homes and motels across America. 

Between 1963 and 1969, “The Little Screens” series grew and, in 2001, was exhibited in full at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco. The series documented not only iconographic ghostly rooms filled with bland furnishings of the period; it also revealed an emerging future reality of omnipresent television screens, and droning television voices and personalities that filled space in an increasing isolationist culture.

Insert Images: Lee Friedlander, “Self Portraits”, 1960s, Gelatin Silver Prints

Károly Ferenczy

Paintings by Károly Ferenczy

Born into a Viennese Hungarian-Jewish family in February of 1862, Károly Ferenczy was a teacher and a productive painter. He initially studied law and completed a degree at Vienna’s College of Economy. Encouraged by wife and painter, Olga Fialka, Ferenczy decided to explore painting and traveled to Italy. In 1887, he studied painting in Paris at the Académie Julain and began his painting career in Hungary, where he started painting in a naturalistic style, influenced by French painter Jules Bastien-Lepage. . 

In 1893, Ferenczy took his  family to Munich, where he attended free classes given by the Hungarian painter Simon Hollósy, a leading proponent of Realism and the Naturalist Movement.  Hollósy encouraged, among his students, an appreciation for the French painters and their techniques, particularly the practice of open air painting. Returning with his family to Hungary in 1896, Ferencsy joined fellow artists István Réti and János Thorma at Nagybánya, now called Baia Mare, a municipality on the Săsar River.

In 1896, Károly Ferenczy, along with Réti and Thorma, founded a summer retreat for artists at Nagybánya. This eventually developed into an artist colony which attracted many artists from Hungary interested in learning the open-air style taught by Simon Hollósy. Ferenczy has his first exhibition in Budapest in 1903, which began his career as an artist. Three years later, he accepted a teaching position at the Royal Hungarian Drawing School, now known as the Hungarian University of Fine Art. Ferenczy, however, remained strongly associated with the artist colony, where he would return in the summers to teach.

Considered the leader of Hungarian impressionism and post-impressionism, Ferenczy concentrated on mostly studio paintings, which consisted of a traditional array of genres, including nudes, urban scenes of circus performers, and still life paintings. In his later years, his work ranged from portraits to nudes and Biblical scenes. A highly productive artist in both lithography and painting, Károly Ferenczy died in March of 1917.

The Hungarian National Gallery in Budapest holds a collection of fifty-one paintings. The museum held a major retrospective of his work in November of 2011 which included nearly one hundred-fifty paintings, eighty prints and drawings, as well as photographs, letters, and catalogues related to his life and art. His work is held in other regional institutions, including the Frenczy Károly Museum, and in many private collections.

Insert Image: Károly ferenczy, “Self Portrait”, 1893, Oil on Canvas, 69 x 52 cm, Hungarian National Gallery

John Kingsley Orton

Photographers Unknown, Parts and Pieces Making a Whole: Set Thirteen

Sir — As a playgoer of forty years standing, may I say that I heartily agree with Peter Pinnell in his condemnation of ‘Entertaining Mr Sloane’. I myself was nauseated by this endless parade of mental and physical perversion. And to be told that such a disgusting piece of filth now passes for humor! Today’s young playwrights take it upon themselves to flaunt their contempt for ordinary decent people. I hope that the ordinary decent people of this country will shortly strike back! Yours truly, Edna Welthorpe (Mrs)

—John Kingsley Orton, Letter Sent for Publication under the Alias of Edna Welthorpe

Born in Leicester, England in January of 1933, John Kingsley Orton, known under the pen name of Joe Orton, was a working-class, gay playwright whose outrageous black comedies shocked, outraged, and amused theatre audiences in the 1960s. 

After attending secretarial classes at Clark’s College in Leicester from 1945 to 1947, Joe Orton worked as a junior clerk for three pounds a week. He began performing in theater productions beginning in 1949 and joined several groups, including the Leicester Dramatic Society. Orton was accepted for a scholarship at London’s Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in November of 1950; however, due to appendicitis, his entrance was delayed until May of 1951. It was at the Royal Academy that Orton met the seven-year older Kenneth Leith Halliwell, who also was a struggling actor and writer. After moving into a West Hampstead flat, they quickly formed a strong relationship and became lovers.

After graduation, Orton and Halliwell collaborated on writing several novels, which were unsuccessful at  publishing. Due to a lack of serious work, they began to amuse themselves with pranks and hoaxes. From January 1959 to May of 1962, Orton and Halliwell removed books from several local public libraries and began to modify the blurbs and cover art. One volume of poetry by writer and broadcaster John Betjeman was found with a new dust jacket featuring a photograph of a nearly naked, tattooed middle-aged man. Discovered by the authorities in May of 1962 and later found guilty of five counts of theft and malicious damage to seventy books, the two men served six months in prison. A collection of these altered book covers are now housed in the Islington Local History Center.

In 1959, Joe Orton wrote his only novel, which was  posthumously published as “Head to Toe”, and soon began to have success in his plays’ productions. His first play “Fred and Madge” was written in 1959; and “The Visitors” followed two years later. In 1963 the BBC purchased Orton’s radio play “The Ruffian on the Stair”, which was broadcast on August 31st of 1964 and, later in 1966, adapted as a stage play. 

By the end of August, Orton had also completed his play “Entertaining Mr. Sloane”, which premiered on May 6th of 1964 to reviews which ranged from praise to outrage. Although it lost money on its short run, the play tied for first in the Variety Critics’ Poll for Best New Play, and Orton came second in the category for Most Promising Playwright. By 1965, “Entertaining Mr. Sloane” was being performed in Spain, Israel, Australia, and New York, as well as being adapted into both a film and television play.

Written between June and October of 1964, Joe Orton’s next play was “Loot”, a wild parody of detective fiction, which added the blackest farce and jabs at established ideas on death, the police, religion, and justice. It underwent sweeping rewrites before it was judged fit for the West End. “Loot” was first staged in London on September 27th of 1966 to rave reviews. In November the play moved to the Criterion Theater where it ran for three hundred forty-two performances, won several awards and firmly established Orton’s fame.

Orton, over the next ten months, revised his “The Ruffian on the Stair” and his “The Erpngham Camp” for the stage as a double play entitled “Crimes of Passion”. He also wrote his television play “Funeral Games”, the screenplay entitled “Up Against It” for the Beatles music group, and his final full-length play “What the Butler Saw”, a play of seduction, blackmail, and cross-dressing, which came to the West End stage in 1969, eighteen months after Orton’s death.

On the 9th of August of 1967, John Kingsley Orton was bludgeoned to death by Kenneth Halliwell at their home in Islington, London, killed by nine hammer blows to the head. Halliwell then committed suicide with an overdose of Nembutal. Later evidence showed that Orton had earlier confided to a friend that he wanted to end his relationship with Halliwell; and it also showed that Halliwell had spoken to his psychiatrist three times on the day of the murder. Halliwell had felt increasingly threatened and isolated by Orton’s success, and had come to rely on barbiturates and antidepressants. The bodies, along with Halliwell’s suicide note, were found on the morning of August 10th by a chauffeur who had arrived to transport Orton for a meeting in London. 

The body of Joe Orton was brought into the chapel of London’s Golders Green Crematorium to a recording of the Beatles’ song “A Day in the Life”. Playwright and director Harold Pinter read the eulogy. After Orton’s cremation, his ashes and Halliwell’s ashes were mixed together and scattered in a section of the Garden of Remembrance at Golders Green; no marking memorial stone is erected there. A statue of Joe Orton was later installed in the city of Leicester and, in 1987, a film adaption of John Lahr’s 1978 biography of Orton was released under the title “Prick Up Your Ears”.

Note: For those interested in theater and gay history, an interesting article is Greg Buzwell’s 2019 “Homosexuality, Censorship, and British Drama During the 1950s and 1960s” located at the British Library site: https://www.bl.uk/20th-century-literature/articles/homosexuality-censorship-and-british-drama-during-the-1950s-and-1960s

Egyptian Arched Harp

Egyptian Arched Harp (Shoulder Harp), circa 1390-1295 BCE, Wood, Diagonal Length 82 cm, Soundbox Length 36 cm, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

The Eighteenth Dynasty of Egypt, spanning the period from 1550 to 1292 BCE,  is classified as the first dynasty of the New Kingdom, which was the era when ancient Egypt reached the peak of its power. This dynasty included the reigns of pharaohs such as Tutankhamun who ruled Egypt at a young age; Hatshepsut, the longest reigning woman pharaoh of an indigenous dynasty; and Akhenaten, the heretic pharaoh, who ruled with  his principle wife Nefertiti. Unique among the Egyptian dynasties, the Eighteenth Dynasty had two women who ruled as sole pharaoh: Hatshepsut, who ruled from 1470 to 1458 BCE, and Neferneferuaten, usually identified as Nefertiti, whose short reign extended from 1334 to 1332 BCE.

Arched harps were already in use during the Old Kingdom and remained the foremost string instruments until the end of the Middle Kingdom. From the New Kingdom onward, Egyptian arched harps co-existed with a great variety of harps in different shapes and sizes. During the later part of the New Kingdom, musicians experimented with new forms which could accommodate more  strings, eventually progressing from the arched bow harp with four or five strings to the classic full-sized arched harp with a leather soundboard and twenty-two strings. 

The smaller, more portable ancient Egyptian bowed shoulder harp became briefly more popular from about the reign of Tuthmosis III, who ruled from 1479 to 1425 BCE. The arched shoulder harp with the curved neck, preserved in New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection, is dated from 1390 to 1295 BCE. This harp has twelve strings and an open, slightly waisted sound box, whose opening was once covered with skin. Rope tuning rings under each string gave a buzzing sound to the soft-sounding tone produced. Topping the arched frame of the harp is a carved head of a Nubian captive who appears to be bound by the strings of the harp. 

This type of portable, boat-shaped arched harp was a favorite during the New Kingdom and is shown in the hands of processional female musicians performing alone or in ensembles with singers, wind instruments, rattles, and sistrums, small rattling percussion instruments made of brass or bronze. Prior to the Middle Kingdom, depictions of harpists feature men as the chief musicians. Harps and other instruments were used for praise singing and entertainment at festivals, temple rituals, court functions, funerals, and military events. Today, arched harps derived from these ancient Egyptian forms are still used in parts of Africa and Asia

Chris Plytas

Photography by Chris Plytas

Born in 1953 in London, Chris Plytas is an established contemporary visual artist whose work covers the psychology of self-image and identity. His photographic portraiture works have been admired often for their way of unearthing the primal and sensual core of their subjects, and the way they sometimes straddle the borderline between beatific innocence and animal rage.

From 1974 to 1977, Plytas studied fine art, painting and sculpture at St. Martins School of Art in London and earned a BFA with honors. After graduation, he developed his darkroom skills on landscape and portraiture photography.Plytas also  did reportage photography for publications, in which he covered  events such as night clubs, concerts, fashion shows, the Royal Wedding, and the Cannes Film Festival.

During the period form 1977 to 1985, Chris  Plytas did photographic printing, layouts, and personal design realization in London for Vivienne Westwood, the English fashion designer largely responsible for bringing punk and new wave fashions into the mainstream. In 1982, he became Director of Berwick Universal Pictures, Limited, an award-winning documentary film company based in Soho, London.  Starting in 1985, Plytas began concentrating on his own personal, black and white, fine art photography, shot with Hasselblad cameras, for exhibition and personal archives. 

Chris Plytas’ first series, entitled “Australia”, was shot over a six month period mostly in the New South Wales and Victoria provinces of Australia. This large body of work, consisting of landscape and portraiture, was exhibited in 1987 at London’s Photographers Gallery and toured Europe for six years with support from Fonds National d’Art Contemporain, a public collection of France’s contemporary art. 

Starting in 1987, Plytas engaged in a six-year shoot for his series “Hadrian: The Violence and Sexuality of Adolescence” series, a coming of age story shot in real time. His next series “Le Corps Enjeux (The Body)” was shown as part of the Mois de la Photo exhibition, sponsored by Audiovisuel and Kodak,  held in Paris in 1988. Plytas spent a year from 1992 to 1993 in the Xi’an and the Yannan regions of China, where he shot his “China: Voyage to the East” portfolio, a series which he dedicated to Sun Wukong, the trickster Monkey King.

Known for his exhibited photographic series, Chris Plytas began to receive commissions for portraiture work. His “Family Portraits” series was commissioned by the De Ganay Archives and, at present, consists of forty-eight individual portraits of members of the French aristocratic family. He has also received portraiture commissions from various  other European  and American families 

After shooting his “Miami Beach” series in  1994.  Plytas  has continued working, throughout his career, on multiple personal portfolios, some of which have been exhibited and published. These include his “The Burden of Classicism”; “Nature and Nurture”; “Youth: A Retrospective” shot in Italy; “Beach-Scapes” shot in  Italy and Sicily; a series entitled “Allegorical Portraits”; and “Blood Ties”, a portfolio documenting family member connections.

In addition to his participation in numerous group exhibitions, Plytas  has shown his work in solo gallery exhibitions, including  Paris’ Galerie PONS in 1995, Paris’ Galerie Serge Aboukrat in 2000, a 2002 exhibition in Italy entitled “Frascati Doc”, an exhibition project at the Chateau de Courances in France in 2004, and in 2015 a Paris exhibition entitled “What is Erotic?”. 

Chris Plytas’ work is available in limited editions and custom portfolios. Private individual or family portraits can be commissioned. His website is located at: https://www.chrisplytas.com/index

Insert Images:

Chris Plytas,, Title Unknown (Slogan on Wall), 1992-93, China, Voyage to the East Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Chris Plytas,, “Boy and Girl Entwined”, 1986-2003, The Body Series, Silver Gelatin Print

Susi Leeton

Susi Leeton, The Birch Tree House

Susi Leeton graduated with honors in a Bachelor of Architecture Degree from Melbourne University. After gaining international experience in Rome and Singapore, she returned to Melbourne and began working on a range of residential, retail and commercial projects. In 1997, Leeton established her office, Susi Leeton Architects and Interiors, where she has creatively explored both urban and rural settings. 

Susi Leeton Architects and Interiors is a small practice, located in the South Yarra area of Melbourne, Australia, which focuses on high-end residential projects. The practice encompasses all the disciplines of architecture and interior design: conceptual design, regulatory, town planning, engineering, documentation, and furnishing. Working with clients on a holistic level, the practice ensures design continuity within strict budget parameters throughout the project. 

The Birch Tree House is a sculptural, four bedroom, family home approached along a pathway aligned with a row of birch trees. The entry is sheltered within an arch containing an oversized door. The focus of the house is towards the northern wall of large steel sliding doors which open onto the yard with its large oval pool. The volumes of space are soft, sculptural forms that overlap and intersect creating workable family zones both inside and out. 

Natural light and soft materials, whose finishes were deliberately refined and tonal, were selected to create a chiaroscuro of light and shade. Texture was a main consideration in the design. Natural limestone, oak timber flooring, polished plaster walls, and linen curtains were the understated palette. The walls of polished concrete create a shimmering effect throughout every space. 

Birch Tree House was on the 2020 shortlist for the Australian Interior Design Awards. Construction was done by Visioneer Builders, an Australian award-winning construction group located in Richmond, Victoria Province, which is  focused on unique, highly-specified single residences, multi=residential developments and commercial structures. 

The photography was done by Felix Mooneeram, a freelance photographer from the United Kingdom with a focus on design, architecture and lifestyles, and Nicole England, a Melbourne-based architecture and interiors photographer who has worked with many of the industry’s top architects and designers worldwide. 

Clara Peeters

Clara Peeters, “Still Life with Cheeses, Artichoke, and Cherries”, circa 1625, Oil on Wood, 46.7 x 33.3 cm, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Clara Peeters, “Table with Cloth, Salt Cellar, Gilt Standing Cup, Pie, Jug, Porcelain Plate with Olives and Cooked Food”, 1611, Oil on Panel, 55 x 73 cm, Museo National del Prado, Madrid

Clara Peeters was a still-life pioneer, one of the only female Flemish artists who exclusively painted still-life works. She was a contemporary of Rubens, Van Dyck, and Jan Brueghel the Elder, and as such, was active during one of the great periods of European art. Peeters is credited with the popularization of colorful, banquet or breakfast pieces, depicting sumptuous displays of tableware, goblets, food, drink and flowers, into the Dutch painting tradition. She is known for her meticulous brushwork, ability to capture precise textures, and her low angle of perspective.

While customs and law did not favor women’s inclusion in professional activities, a small number of women were able to overcome the existing restrictions and become painters. Factors such as the problem of studying anatomical drawings from live, normally male, models who posed nude in an activity was forbidden to women and thus limited their work to portraits or still-life paintings.

There is very little documentation on the life of Clara Peeters aside from her paintings. Scholars believe she was born between 1588 and 1590. Although a record indicates a Clara Peeters was baptized in Antwerp in 1594, both Clara and Peeters were common names. A baptism in 1594 would imply that her sophisticated 1607 paintings, the earliest dated known works,  were done when she was thirteen, which seems unlikely. By 1612, Peeters was producing large numbers of painstakingly rendered still life paintings. There is no known work of hers beyond 1621; the date of her death is also unknown.

While Peeters is not registered in the painters’ guild in Antwerp, she is described in a document as a painter from there. Of her known works, six bear marks on their painting panels indicating their preparation in the city of Antwerp. On the blades of three silver knives depicted in Peeters’ paintings are hallmarks, indicating their origin as the city of Antwerp; these knives also bear Peeters’ name which might be an indication of her own marriage, as silver cutlery was used as wedding gifts.

Clara Peeters’ first known work, signed and dated 1607, reflects the compositional and technical skill of a trained artist. She signed thirty-one works and dated many of them; another seventy-six works are speculated to be in her body of work, although documentation is lacking to assign them affirmatively. Although no record of patrons is available, it appears that Peeters was a successful artist. The fact that her work was widely distributed and is present in collections in Amsterdam, Rotterdam, and Madrid, suggests she exported her paintings through dealers and likely was able to achieve some profit. Four of Peeters’ early works came to the Prado Museum from the Spanish Royal Collection. 

Clara Peeters devoted her activities to still-life painting, deploying a style that emphasized the real appearance of things, in a period where realism was seen as an alternative to the idealism of the Renaissance tradition.Her paintings depicted fish and fowl ready to be cooked, cooked food displayed on the table, serving vessels, cutlery, other objects, most of them costly luxury items. These were all painted with great detail in the description of both texture and form: the brightly lit objects were presented in elegant contrast with the dark backgrounds. 

Peeters’ paintings show the tastes and customs of the prosperous classes in the middle of the Renaissance period. The tables in her still-life works include imported goods and food, such as wine, fruit, sweetmeats, and particularly fish, of which Peeters was the first artist to portray as the main subject of a still-life. Her work also included falcons next to dead fowl, the subject of an aristocrat’s hunt, and sea shells, prized for their exotic origins and beauty. 

Clara Peeters was one of the first known artists to incorporate self-portraiture into still-life paintings. Barely noticeable, they appear at least in eight of her works, often reflected on a silver-gilt goblet or on the lids of pewter jugs. On the surface of the right goblet in her “Still Life with Flowers, Gilt Goblets, Coins and Shells” are located six self-portraits of Peeters, where she is seen holding her brushes and palette in a stance upholding her status as a woman painter. Depicted in detail on such a minute scale, these self-portraits attest to Clara Peeters’s level of artistic skill.

Insert Images:

Clara Peeters, “Still Life with Flowers, Gilt Goblets, Coins and Shells”, Detai View of Self-Portraits, 1612, Oil on Panel, 59.5 x 49 cm, Karlsruhe, Staatliche Kunsthalle

Clara Peeters, “Still Life with Fish, Candle, Artichokes, Crabs and Shrimp”, 1611, Oil on Panel, 50 x 72 cm, Museo National del Prado, Madrid

Clara Peeters, “Still Life with Cheeses, Almonds and Pretzels”, 1615, (With Signed Silver Knife), Oil on Panel, 34.5 x 49.5, Museum Mauritshuis, The Hage

Fabrian Cháirez

The Artwork of Fabrian Cháirez

Born in Chiapas in 1987, Fabrian Cháirez is a Mexican artist whose work questions the predominate idea of masculinity and provides alternate representations of the male image. Already showing an artistic aptitude at an early age, he studied from 2007 to 2012 at the Faculty of Arts in the University of Sciences and Arts of Chiapas, where he graduated with a BFA in Visual Arts.

Cháirez is a figurative and traditional academically trained painter whose work emphasizes both composition and color. The body of his work has a neoclassical style and is influenced by symbolism and the Art Nouveau. Major art influences in his paintings have come from the works of Mexican Neo-Expressionist painter Julio Gálan: Spanish portrait and landscape painter Joaquin Sorolla, known for his sunlit canvases;  Mexican painter Saturnino Herrán, renowned for his majestic paintings of indigenous people; and Spanish portrait painter Dîego Velásquez, whose work became the model for the early realist and impressionist painters. 

Cháirez’s work, in response to the hostilities against the concept of sexual diversity, revolves around the image of the male body and the LBGTQ world. In his discussion of the stereotypes of Mexican virility, he uses the traditional Mexican archetypes, such as wrestlers, charros or horsemen, and the Mara Salvatrucha or criminal gangs, for his central figures. Cháirez places these generic images in suggestive and erotic scenarios in direct contrast to the existing social norm regarding the male image.

In 2015, Fabrian Cháirez had a solo exhibition entitled “The Garden of Delights” at the José María Velasco Gallery where he presented thirty pieces, including graphic work, illustrations, and oil paintings. In this body of work, he showed typical male figures with feminine features. In 2019, Cháirez exhibited his most controversial work, “The Revolution” at the Palacio de Belles Artes, a prominent cultural center located in central Mexico City. 

“The Revolution” is a thirty by twenty centimeter oil painting on canvas that represents the revolutionary general Emiliano Zapata, a stereotype of Mexican masculinity, who is shown seated naked, wearing a pink hat, tricolor sash, and high-heeled shoes, on a horse. Created in 2014, Cháirez produced this image as a example of other types of masculine representation. After the Mexican Ministry of Culture selected this work to be part of, and the poster image for, the 2019  exhibition entitled “Emiliano: Zapata After Zapata”, a controversy developed in the social media. Zapata’s relatives and supporters threatened to sue Cháirez and the National Institute of Fine Arts for denigrating the figure of the revolutionary leader. 

On December 11, 2019, a demonstration occurred within the Palacio de Belles Arts in which demands for the removal of “The Revolution” were made. A counter demonstration by LBGTQ activists defended the inclusion of the painting in the exhibition. A message from the Minister of Culture defended the painting’s inclusion and rejected any violence or censorship. On December 13th, a note, containing the personal opinion of the Zapata family,  was added next to the painting as a compromise, despite objections by Cháirez and his supporters. In January of 2020, “The Revolution” became part of the Tatxo Benet Censored Art Collection, a collection of all art banned for political, religious or moral reasons, soon to be permanently housed in Barcelona. 

Fabrian Cháirez’s website is located at: https://www.fabianchairez.com

Manuel Puig: “The Most Beautiful Thing”

 

Photographers Unknown, The Most Beautiful Thing

“—What is being a man for you? —It’s many things, but for me… well, the most beautiful thing about a man is that, being pretty, strong, but without making a fuss of strength, and that he is advancing safely. That he walks safely, like my waiter, that he speaks without fear, that he knows what he wants, where he is going, without fear of anything. “It’s an idealization, a guy like that doesn’t exist.” “Yes, he exists, he is like that.” —Well, it will give that impression, but inside, in this society, without power, no one can advance safely, as you say.—Being a man is much more than that, it means not putting anyone down, with an order, with a tip. Moreover, it is… not allowing anyone next to you to feel less, that no one next to you feel bad.”

Manuel Puig, The Kiss of the Spider Woman

Born in December of 1932 in General Villegas, Argentina, Manuel Puig was a novelist and a screenwriter. As there was no secondary school in his hometown, his parents sent him to Buenos Aires in 1946 where he attended College Ward, an educational institute with intercultural bilingual education at all levels. During his time at College Ward, Puig began to systematically read books. Starting with the Nobel Prize winners, he read works by such writers as André Gide, Hermann Hesse, Aldous Huxley, Thomas Mann, and Jean-Paul Sartre.

After seeing Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1947 police drama film, “Quai des Orfèvres”, Puig decided on a film career as a director. For this profession, he learned three languages: Italian, French, and German. In 1950, Puig enrolled at the University of Buenos Aires Faculty of Architecture; but, in 1951, he switched to its School of Philosophy. He was already working, upon graduation, as a film archivist and editor in Buenos Aires; and later, after  winning a scholarship from the Italian Institute of Buenos Aires, he continued that employment in Italy.

Returning to Argentina, Manuel Puig started his obligatory military service in 1953 where he served as a translator in the Aeronautics section. Living in Buenos Aires in the 1968, Puig wrote his first major novel, “La Traición de Rita Hayworth (Betrayed by Rita Hayworth)”, a novel told in multiple voices to create a portrayal of ordinary Argentinian lives in the1930s and 1940s. In 1969, he wrote his second novel “Boquitas Pintadas (Heartbreak Tango)”, a story about the contrast between mediocre reality and fantastical dreams; the novel also raised questions about machismo and the damage it causes. The narrative is told through confessions, letters, diaries, newspaper clippings, eyewitness accounts, and rememberances of life.

Holding leftist political tendencies and seeing the instability of the Argentinian government, Puig relocated to Mexico in 1973, a place where he would live in exile throughout rest of his life. He wrote his third novel “The Buenos Aires Affair” in 1973, and three years later, wote possibly his best known work, the 1976 “El Beso de la Mujer Araña (The Kiss of the Spider Woman)”. Unusual in that it has no traditional narrative voice, the novel is told in large part through dialogue, without any indication of who is speaking, except the insertion of a dash to show change of speaker. 

“Kiss of the Spider Woman” depicts the daily conversations between two Argentinian prison cellmates, one a political prisoner who was part of a group attempting the overthrow of the government and the other a transgender woman in jail for corruption of a minor. The two characters, seemingly opposites, form an intimate bond in their cell and become lovers, albeit briefly, and they are both changed by that relationship.   

Manuel Puig’s novel was initially published only in Spain; however, upon its publication, it was included on a list of novels banned to the population of Buenos Aires. Despite having been entered into the Frankfurt Book Fair in Germany, it remained banned in Argentina until Raúl Alfonsin’s government took control in 1976. Puig adapted “Kiss of the Spider Woman” into a stage play in 1983. The novel was later adapted in 1985 into an Academy Award-winning film of the same name, starring William Hurt and Raul Julia. Hurt’s winning the 1986 Oscar for Best Actor marked the first time an Academy Award went to an actor in an openly gay role. 

In 1989, Puig moved from Mexico City to Cuernavaca, Mexico. Following doctor’s orders to stop smoking, he took daily walks, but the high altitude of the area labored his breathing. He had access to higher quality medical care than most and received care at a clinic near his home. Experiencing pain for several days, he was admitted to the Las Palmas Surgical Center on July 21, 1990, for risk of peritonitis. 

An emergency operation removed Manuel Puig’s inflamed gall bladder; however, his lungs filled with fluid and he became delirious. He died from an acute heart attack, on July 22, 1990.  After funeral rites, attended by only six people including his mother, Manuel Puig’s body was sent to Argentina and placed in the Puig family tomb in the La Plata Cemetery.

Andreas Fux

Photography by Andreas Fux

Born in East Berlin of the German Democratic Republic in 1964, Andreas Fux is a photographer whose body of work focuses on how the human individual evolves into his own artistic creation. He belongs to the Prenzlauerberg photo artist scene, which documented the last decade of the German Democratic Republic. 

Andreas Fux initially trained from 1980 to 1982 as an electrician. In 1983, he began his own sstudy of  the process and techniques of photographic work. During the years between 1983 and 1988, Fux exhibited his photographs in private gallery spaces. His first published works appeared in a 1988 issue of Das Magazin, a monthly East Berlin magazine that focused on culture and lifestyle. Working as a freelancer, Fux provided the publication with black and white photographs covering Berlin’s punk and youth culture.

 In 1989, Fux worked on photo productions for Deutsche Film-Aldiengesellschaff, the state-owned film studio of East Germany. Since 1990, he has been working as a freelance photographer for various newspapers and magazines, as well as executing his own photographic projects. In 1992, Fux’s first solo photographic book was published entitled “The Russians”; it was a supplement to his solo exhibition, of the same name, at the Janssen Gallery in Berlin, a show which later traveled to Hamburg and Munich. 

Andreas Fux gained a wider audience for his work with the 2005 series “The Sweet Skin”, which covered a decade of works between 1995 and 2005. For this series of portraits which focused on tattoos and skin scarification; he followed the lives of his models, with daily documentation and night shoots in his studio. Against a mostly white background and in the silence of the photo studio, nude photographs of his models were taken, in which the contrast between intimacy of the body and clinical sterility of the room was exaggerated. In another series entitled “At the End of the Night”, whose topic was body culture, the nude, and sexuality, Fux posed his subjects against a black background with a selective light source that modeled and fragmented the models sculpturally. 

Fux’s 2001 series “The Horizonte” is reminiscent in its formality of the 1980s “Seascapes” series done by Japanese photographer and architect Hiroshi Sugimoto, in which Sugimoto bifurcated the landscape images exactly in half by the horizon line. At the beginning of September 2001, Fux travelled across the North Sea on board a Ukrainian training sailboat. For this series, he celebrated the beauty of the horizon as an interaction between sea, clouds and light. The images of “The Horizonte” series were seen by the critics as an expression of calm and innocence. For his 2010 series “Kerberos and Chimaira”, Fux staged his motifs in a wind tunnel at Berlin-Adlershot. Using the strict compositions of expressionism and the aesthetic codes of the latex and fetish scene, his series examined  a dangerous and often not considered proximity between the erotic picture codes of fetishism and the aesthetics of National Socialism.

For his 2016 exhibition “Shame and Beauty”,  Andreas Fux opposed new portraits with a selection of older works, a combination which showed the development of his oeuvre over the years. His new work preserved the almost tender and respectful handling of his subjects found in his early works. The photographic sessions in which he bathed his models in soft light took an entire night, were meticulously planned, and took place in a highly sensitized atmosphere. This Berlin show contextualized the discussion on governmental and social repression and persecution; the works in this show had previously been exhibited by Fux in Moscow in September of 2015 under rather adverse conditions.

Andreas Fux has had solo exhibitions in Germany and abroad, including the Widmer and Theodoris Gallery in Zurich, the Photo Festival in New York, the Esther Woerdehoff Gallery in Paris and the Pasinger Fabrik Gallery in Munich.

A collection of Fux’s photo work from Berlin can be found at: https://andreas-fux.berlin

Elise Ferguson

Paintings by Elise Ferguson

Born in Richmond, Virginia in 1964, Elise Ferguson is a painter, sculptor, and print maker. The daughter of a mother who designed women’s clothing and a stepfather who was an architect, she spent her early life in a home of modern design elements, surrounded by a growing art collection.  

Ferguson initially began her formal art education at Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore. She then received her BFA from The School of Art Institute in Chicago and her MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago. After graduation, Ferguson moved to New York, considered a mecca for the visual arts, to be surrounded by artists, similar-minded colleagues and galleries. She currently works out of a shared studio space with two other creative professionals a short distance from her Brooklyn home.

Inspired by architect Louis Kahn’s un-camouflaged use of cement in his designs, Elise Ferguson uses sculptural materials, including metal, pigmented plaster and ink on medium-density fiberboard, as a means of creating illusory space and preserving a series of compositional actions. While certain of her works allude to representational elements found in the studio or nature, Ferguson also creates pieces that are purely abstract with optical interactions of grid, lines and concentric circles.

Ferguson was a sculptor for twenty years before she focused on painting. Her “Retaining Wall”, a two-hundred foot length wall cast of urethane tiles reminiscent of a 1950s linoleum kitchen floor, was installed at the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, New York in 2003. A similar sculpture entitled “Greenvine”, a patterned wall of green tiles executed in 2005, is installed at a private home in South Hampton, New York. Although she created distinctive sculptural works, Ferguson is best know for her textural paintings.

Incorporating her sculptural aptitude, Ferguson paints the majority of her work by using pigmented plaster on paper or panels. With the use of computer graphic programs, she draws her repeating and often undulating patterns, with purposefully placed imperfections and glitches. After they are drawn, Ferguson makes screen prints that she applies to the pigmented plaster. Although seemingly flawless, the imperfections seen on a closer look create a tension in the work between the geometric figure and the plaster build-up.

For her 2020 “Clamp” series, Elise Ferguson sought to translate her layering techniques used in her paintings to a handmade paper edition. These works of color and geometric patterns were accomplished by layering brightly colored linen pulps on cream or black cotton base paper sheets. Using her computer, Ferguson designed an undulating U-shaped wave of parallel lines which, once made into mylar stencils, made it possible to create thin, crisp lines on the base sheet. The resulting work, with its stenciled pulp lines, has a distinctive look, unique to the art of paper making.

Ferguson’s work has appeared in solo exhibitions at the Halsey McKay Gallery, the Romer Young Gallery and 57W57 Arts.  Her group exhibitions have included the Albada Jelgersma Gallery in Amsterdam, Ikast Kunstpakhus in Denmark, the Cincinnati Contemporary Arts Center, the Socrates Sculpture Park in Queens, and the Barton Art Galleries, among others.  

Elise Ferguson has been recognized with several awards, including a Northern Trust Purchase Prize, an EAST International exhibition grant,  the Dieu Donne Papermill Workspace Grant, and residencies at Barton College, University of Nevada Las Vegas, MacDowell Colony, and the  Illinois State University.  She is represented by Halsey McKay Gallery in East Hampton and Romer Young Gallery in San Francisco.

Elise Ferguson’s website is located at http://www.eliseferguson.org

Insert Images:

Elise Ferguson, “Cloudbank”, 2018, Hand-Printed Block Print on Linen, 15 Feet in Length, Gallery Installation, Halsey McKay Gallery, New York,

Elise Ferguson, “Pile”, 2014, Pigmented Plaster on Panel, 60.1 x 60.1 cm, Private Collection

James Huctwith

 

Figurative Paintings by James Huctwith

Born in rural southern Ontario, Canada in 1967, James Huctwith is a painter in the realist tradition. From 1986 to 1989, he studied fine art at the University of Guelph’s College of Art in Ontario, primarily in architecture and art history and theory. Huctwith started painting and exhibiting in the early 1990s in Vancouver. Relocating to Toronto in 1995, he was represented by the O’Connor Gallery where he regularly exhibited his emotionally and physically explicit work for a decade.

After a period of personal disruption and change, Huctwith joined Vancouver’s Gallery Jones in the spring of 2005. He stayed with the gallery for two years, during which time he exhibited  a series of non-figurative works. Beginning in 2006, Huctwith was also represented for two years by Montreal’s Galerie Harwood, where the work he exhibited consisted primarily of interpretations of the still life genre. In 2007, he ended his relationship with the O’Connor Gallery.

Feeling a need to recapture his connection with his work, James Huctwith returned to the province of Ontario, placed his previous work with Toronto’s Antonio Arch Fine Arts, and signed up with Ottawa’s Galeria La Petite Mort. His first solo show of figurative work at the Petite Mort gallery in the fall of 2009 was a success. Huctwith’s work, now published and regularly reviewed, is collected internationally with many works in private collections..

Huctwith’s current realist work, both figurative and portraiture, is done with an emphasis on historical techniques. His canvases of male figures are moody, masculine, and mysterious. While a sense of calmness is presented in Huctwith’s scenes, there is often a lurking undercurrent of uncertainty and conflict.

The artist’s website can be found at: http://daintybastard.blogspot.com

Franz Szony

Photographic Work by Franz Szony

Raised in Reno, Nevada, Franz Szony is a writer and photographic artist whose main body of work, both in its fine art and commercial forms, embraces conceptual portraiture. 

After finishing his primary education in 2014, which included art classes at an early age, Szony relocated to San Francisco where he attended the Academy of Art. At the academy, he initially studied fashion and illustration, and, later. focused on photography. After learning the technical aspects of photography, Szony returned to his hometown of Reno where, as a freelance artist, he photographed different advertisement campaigns for newspapers, theaters, and several casinos. He exhibited his own work in a small gallery he created and hosted monthly nude drawing workshops in that space. 

Szony moved to Los Angeles in 2012 and settled in the Brewery Artist Loft complex, an industrially zoned area where artists rent living and working space. Inspired by the area’s creative energy, he photographed campaigns for perfume and fashion brands, created album covers, and did creative photographic work for companies, including Disney and Warner Brothers. 

Influenced by illustrators such as Marc Davis and Erte, and, at an early age, by the extravagant stage shows of Reno’s casinos, Franz Szony’s conceptual portraiture work is lush both in its color and settings. His images are presented ambiguously in time and place, and androgynously in character. Szony’s photographs often contain symbolic or mythological elements and convey psychological, political, and sexual identity messages to the viewers.  

Franz Szony is also a songwriter who has produced several music videos in which he has incorporated his poetry and visual art. Shot over a period of three days, his music video, “Petunia”, based on several of his photographic pieces, was released in 2018. Other music videos by Szony include “La Petite Mort”, “Antibeige”, and “Pansy”, also released in 2018; and “What You Seek” and “Surrender Dorothy”, both released in 2020. 

Szony had solo exhibitions at Reno’s Sierra Arts Foundation in 2015 and at Hollywood’s World of Wonder Gallery in 2019. His work is included in many private collections. Franz Szony’s website is located at http://www.franzszony.com