Category Archives: London

An Interview with James Ostrer

What do French fries, licorice and cream cheese have in common? For many of us, all three foods make it into our diets every now and again. However, it is rare to think of these items together. In fact, it takes an inventive mind, and extreme circumstances, to imagine a combination of these opposing foods. However, photographer James Ostrer creates fine art by combining these diet death traps.

In his critically acclaimed art exhibit, Wotsit All About, Ostrer uses odd but generally acceptable junk food combinations to bring grotesque monsters to life.  Showing at the Gazelli Art House in London from July 31 to November 9, Wotsit All About puts various junk foods on display in interesting ways.

The underlying message of Ostrer’s most recent art exhibit is rather clear: our relationship with junk food is horrifying. This reality is, for lack of a better word, sugarcoated by fanciful advertising and winsome marketing practices. However, Ostrer’s photographs reveal a truth that the billion-dollar junk food industry doesn’t want us to know: junk food is not safe. It is addictive and has the power to transform an individual into an unrecognizable being, either emotionally or physically.

Wotsit All About is unique in many ways, but for James Ostrer, it seems to fall in-line with the out-of-the box art he is known for. In prior years, Ostrer has taken his family to a morgue, gone to a brothel, been photographed by prostitutes, collected mattresses from the street and buried himself in “vast quantities of food,” all in the name of art.

If you only know his junk food monsters, you don’t know James Ostrer. In a brief interview, Segmation got to know the English photographer a little better. Through his transparency, insight and unique intelligence, we are beginning to see his artwork, and art in general, in new ways.

  1. You just finished a solo show at the Gazelli Art House. If you could summarize the past four months in three words, what would they be?

Totally Fudging* Awesome

*Except, Ostrer, in the midst of his war on junk food, did not use the word “Fudging.”

  1. Let’s travel back in time. If I were to ask six-year-old James, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” what would he say?

I really don’t remember considering the future in that way until at least the age of sixteen which even by then when asked I would get really anxious and just say I don’t know. So in reality at six years old I think I would have been freaked out and just wanted to see my mum and have a snuggle.

  1. Your artwork is, for lack of a better word, unique. What triggers your out-of-the-box concepts? 

All of my work is based on a desire to find or understand my own concept and experience of happiness. My art practice is like being booked into a self-help course that doesn’t have any structure, timeline or preconceived ideologies of what will help me while relying wholly on my desire for positive change. The concepts that I work around are in direct response to what I am trying to unpick about my negative self.

  1. In your interview with Tony Gallagher, you mention “The Journey” required a “huge amount of research around human behaviour.” In your opinion, how does research enrich art?

I think it totally depends as it can be as detrimental as it enriches…..Obviously historical context and referencing can be very valid and often almost everything about a piece of work…. but as interesting as I can sometimes find this kind of work I can equally find it clinical and boring. I find the visceral relationship between the emotions of an artist and the thing they have made the thing I truly love in art…..so when I see a great piece of outsider art where there has been no influence or contamination from outside influence/research it can blow my mind away like nothing else….

  1. In the same interview you mention that you use art as a way of expelling your “deepest demons.” According to Aestheticamagazine.com, “Wotsit All About” was your response to a sugar addiction that resulted from, among other things, well-calculated marketing. We know all sorts of people struggle with addictions; many of them have artistic temperaments. What advice would you give the artist who wants to use art as a tool for addiction recovery?

My emphasis would be on the fact that it is a great tool but with all the many complexities and extremes to addiction you need a whole tool box full of things that help to work your way through.

I would also suggest regularly taking rain checks with your process of making art to challenge whether u are simply just excusing yourself to have a continued engagement with something you have a problem with. A clear example of this could be where people use self-harm as a form of artistic expression. I am not saying this kind of work isn’t valid but as an artist (especially at the beginning) you are often every member of your business so unlike if you were working for a company you don’t have a boss or human resources department keeping an eye on you so you need to do this yourself….

  1. What is your favorite color?

The few seconds of black in a cinema just before a film starts.

View more of James Ostrer’s work by visiting his website: http://jamesostrer.com/home.html.

Read more Segmation blog posts about art and food:

James Ostrer’s Junk Food Art

Coloring Each Season with Healthy Food

Food Never Looked So Good

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Graphic Designer Creates a Different TYPE of Art

What do you call a graphic artist who does not need a computer?

A typewriter artist.

Born and raised in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Álvaro Franca is often called a graphic designer but may be better known as a typographer or type designer. He creates fonts.

What is your favorite font? You might use Calibri, Arial, Tahoma, or Times New Roman. Franca develops fonts that are seen online and in print. He has developed fonts for reading purposes and as parts of advertisements. He even designed labels for beer bottles.

Franca uses a computer to craft font types, but it is what he creates with a vintage typewriter that makes the 22-year-old artist most impressive.

In a collection of work titled, Typewritten Portraits, Franca creates portraits by using a vintage typewriter to strategically placing single characters on a blank sheet of paper. To deepen the complexity of his work, he defines, shapes, and shades the faces of infamous authors so they are recognizable and, in some cases, may be mistaken for sketch art.

The method for creating Typewritten Portraits was conceptualized by Franca in 2013. While he might be the first person to use a typewriter to recreate portraits of Jose Saramago, Charles H. Bukowski, J.D. Salinger, Jack Kerouac, and Clarice Lispector, he was not the first artist to use a vintage typewriter as an art medium.

In 2012, Segmation wrote a blog about vintage typewriter collector and artist Keira Rathbone. Rathbone lives in London and uses over 30 typewriters to create original works of art.

While both artists use typewriters, Franca and Rathbone have contrasting approaches to creating art. Using his computer, Franca created a method that allows him to know exactly where to put characters on a typewriter page. For instance, from the start, he maps out where to add the letter “m,” which is the character he uses to add depth and dimension to portraits.

Rathbone, on the other hand, does not sketch or outline any of her art. With a well-trained eye, she is able to create scenes from her imagination and recreate images she sees. By going over parts of a picture multiple times she produces the perfect amount of shading. This gives her images the level of depth and dimension that Franca factors in from the start.

These two artists live a world apart but both use typewriters to create masterpieces. Rathbone truly needs no computer while Franca uses his for precision. Watch the artists at work and let us know which approach you like better. Leave us a comment at the bottom of this page.

<p><a href=”http://vimeo.com/90642350″>Typewritten Portraits</a> from <a href=”http://vimeo.com/alvarofranca”>&Aacute;lvaro Franca</a> on <a href=”https://vimeo.com”>Vimeo</a&gt;.</p>

 

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Joshua Reynolds – English Portrait Painter

www.segmation.comJoshua Reynolds was a man with many titles: artist, painter, educator, president, and Sir. In the 18th century, the man with an extensive career fulfilled all these roles.

In the summer of 1723, Joshua Reynolds was born into a large family in Plympton, England. His parents had 10 children in all. Their heritage could be defined as intellectual; Joshua’s great-grandfather was a mathematician and his father, a school teacher.

Samuel Reynolds provided his son with a broad education. It included reading, writing, history, arithmetic, geography, and drawing. On his own efforts, Joshua gave attention to medicine, metaphysics, and astrology. More than any other activity, however, his greatest interest was painting.

It is believed that Reynolds began painting at a young age. His first portrait was signed the year he turned 12. Around 17, he apprenticed with the artist Thomas Hudson. This is where he began to acquire skill as a portrait painter.www.segmation.com

Joshua Reynolds started his independent career in 1743. In the beginning, his portraits included paintings of family members and himself. While much of his work showed signs of Hudson’s influence, his self-portraits revealed a Rembrandt quality.

In 1747, momentum built around Reynolds career. He set up a studio on St. Martin’s Lane in London. Most of his clients lived near the street that would become known for its art venues. During this time, his talent and connections bolstered his career; he was named “one of the nation’s most important artists” by The Universal Magazine.

On a tour through the Mediterranean and Rome in 1949, Reynolds was impressed by historical artwork. In fact, he was reported saying how ignorant he felt when viewing some of the world’s greatest art pieces. He copied many of these paintings and studied them often. His tour continued onto Florence where he spent a significant amount of time with Italian painter, Francesco Zuccarelli. He continued his travels, visiting places like Milan and Paris, before returning to London in late 1752.www.segmation.com

When Reynolds was settled into his St. Martin’s Lane studio again, he was said to produce more than 100 portraits each year. The value of his artwork increased as he was asked to paint portraits of elite society.

In 1768, his career as a portrait painted merged with the world of art education. Joshua Reynolds was elected the first president of the Royal Academy. There he gave many lectures that would eventually become a great book of art criticism known as, The Discourses on Art. One year after he took the role as president, Reynolds was knighted by George III. Later, in 1784, Reynolds became the portrait painter to George III.

Following these accolades, Reynolds health began deteriorating. He was hard of hearing and would become so deaf he required the assistance of an antique hearing-aid, the ear-trumpet. By 1789 his sight was waning too. Still, Reynolds was known for being a good listener, great friend, and generous man. He was never thought of as “handsome.” Reynolds was short in stature with a round, flushed face. He never married but had a lot of friends and was admired by many.
Eventually, liver disease took the life of a great artist, educator, countryman, and friend. Joshua Reynolds died in London in 1792.

Today, the legacy of Joshua Reynolds lives on. While his work is revered, his practices and teachings are indispensable to the world of art. Joshua Reynolds was a man of much talent but beyond all else he was a person with many strengths. Few other artists deserve his titles.

Sources:
http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/500800/Sir-Joshua-Reynolds

http://www.nndb.com/people/898/000084646/

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Joshua Reynolds English Portrait Painter

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Thomas Moran – American Landscape Painter

www.segmation.comThe interesting life of Thomas Moran started with humble beginnings and ended in the Whitehouse.  Moran was no politician though; he was an artist who raised the bar for American painters and illustrators. More so, Thomas Moran was responsible for making America what is it today.

Like many history makers, Thomas Moran immigrated to America from England in the 19th century. He was born in Bolton, Lancashire in 1837. Early in his life, his entire family moved to a suburb of Philadelphia.

The four Moran brothers, (two being older than Thomas) were all artists, either by profession or hobby. Thomas’s artistic nature and innate talent began to show at the age of 16 when he apprenticed for a wood engraving firm. In this role he was diligent to develop abilities in illustration and watercolor. By 1860, Thomas sought to infuse his personal art with fresh inspiration.

He traveled to the Great Lakes to paint their landscape. After returning to Philadelphia, he was able to sell lithographs of his work. This encouraged the growing artist to travel and further his skill in drawing and painting landscapes. Moran found himself in London next, studying the works of J. M. W. Turner. It is noted that Moran appreciated the esteemed artist’s choices of landscape and color usage.www.segmation.com

Between his time in London and his next adventure, Thomas Moran’s landscape art appeared in numerous publications. With some notoriety and industry connections, Moran was asked to be one of the first artists to document The West with the United States Geological Survey. Throughout a forty day journey, Moran kept a diary of drawings reflecting the various landscapes he and the team encountered. As a result of his art, and the team’s work, Congress was persuaded to name Yellowstone a national park. In 1872, it was the first park of its kind.

This voyage created a good amount of recognition and wealth for the artist. Yellowstone inspired Moran’s infamous piece, a 7′ by 12′ oil painting appropriately titled, The Grand Canyon of Yellowstone. The United States government purchased this for $10,000 that year. This is the same amount paid for another large painting inspired by a different survey that took place two years later.

The Chasm of Colorado was the result of a survey that sent Moran and Army General, John Wesley Powell from Salt Lake City to, what would soon be known as Zion National Park. The results of this survey were numerous illustrations, publications, and growing notoriety of both the artist and America’s unseen west.

Throughout the course of his United States travels, Moran grew a strong affinity towards the Grand Canyon in Arizona. In fact, every year for the last 25 years of his life, he would visit this source of inspiration. Of the natural wonder, Moran wrote, “Of all places on earth the great canyon of Arizona is the most inspiring in its pictorial possibilities.”

At the age of 89, Thomas Moran passed away in Santa Barbara, where he lived out his senior years. His legacy, on the other hand, continued to live. The oil paintings bought for $10,000 by the government were later featured in the Smithsonian. In addition, Mount Moran in Grand Teton National Park was named after the artist. There are many other landmarks and museums that have collections or pieces of his 1,500 oils paintings, 800 watercolors, and countless illustrations.

Thomas Moran’s portrayal of the magnificent West united the states of America. With that honor comes recognition that transcends time. On a wall in the Oval Office hangs Moran’s The Three Tetons. His place in American history has been solidified; his legacy lives on a Whitehouse wall.

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Joseph Mallord William Turner – Great Painter of Light

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Joseph Mallord William Turner (1775 – 1851) was a controversial English landscape painter. Joseph Mallord William Turner, better known as J.M.W. Turner, was born on April 23, 1775, in Covent Garden, London, England. His eccentric style matched his subjects – shipwrecks, fires, natural catastrophes, as well as natural phenomena such as sunlight, storms, rain, and fog.

Although renowned for his oil paintings, Turner is also one of the greatest masters of British watercolour landscape painting. He is commonly known as “the painter of light” and his work is regarded as a Romantic preface to Impressionism. Turner was considered a controversial figure in his day, but is now regarded as the artist who elevated landscape painting to an eminence rivalling history painting.www.segmation.com

The significance of light to Turner resembled God’s spirit. In his later paintings he concentrated on the play of light on water and the radiances of skies and fires, almost to an Impressionistic style. Segmation’s collection of Joseph Mallord William Turner patterns includes many examples of his style including The Fighting Temeraire, The Shipwreck of the Minotaur, Snow Storm, The Grand Canal, Peace – Burial at Sea, and Rain, Steam and Speed.

This Segmation set contains 25 paintable patterns.

Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/J._M._W._Turner

Joseph Mallord William Turner

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Lovers of Literature Get Lost in 250,000-Book Maze

Do you get a chance you art-lovers to see the “maze” of books that has been created by two Brazilian artists in London?  The artists, Marco Saboya and Gualter Pupo, made excellent use of about 250,000 books, arranging them in what is described as a “labyrinth” that is displayed at the Southbank Centre. The book maze (aMAZEme) has attracted scores of visitors since its opening. The up to eight feet high maze walls are made of stacked books of all colors and textures, offering visitors a true feast for the senses and stirring up of literary passion.

Reportedly, aMAZEme is not the first book labyrinth of its kind. Another book maze was constructed and displayed in Rio de Janeiro, but did not boast the number of books that are contained in the London exhibition. aMAZEme, created with an astounding quarter-of-a-million books, both used and new, took only 4 days to create. All of this was accomplished though the hands of about 50 volunteers and the brilliant minds of the two artists who dreamed the idea into existence.

Jorge Luis Borges, Argentinian writer, provided the exhortation behind Saboya and Pupo’s book creation. Apparently Borges was an avid book enthusiast. Pair that with his affection for labyrinths, and you have the inspiration for aMAZEme. The book maze is actually patterned after Borges’ fingertips, adding to the unusual but captivating overall design of the project. It’s obvious that Jorge Luis Borges’ influence is planted firmly in the heart of aMAZEme.

aMAZEme does not exist solely for aesthetic purposes; it is also interactive. Visitors are greeted with the opportunity to go on an audio tour of the book labyrinth. To ensure spectators don’t assume the books are haphazardly placed, the audio tour “guides (visitors) through the meticulously mapped book titles.” For an even richer experience, visitors have the option of watching literary icons give “performances.” The funds aMAZEme brings in will be given to poverty-fighting charities. The aMAZE me labyrinth is proving to be beneficial to both book lovers and underprivileged individuals around the world.

http://www.cbsnews.com/2300-504784_162-10013188.html?tag=page

http://inhabitat.com/amazeme-book-labyrinth-completed-for-the-london-2012-cultural-olympiad/

http://inhabitat.com/amazeme-book-labyrinth-completed-for-the-london-2012-cultural-olympiad/amazeme-book-maze-london-2012-2/?extend=1

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London – A Town for Art Lovers

Each year visitors from all over the world travel to London to see Buckingham Palace, the Tower of London, Covent Garden, The London Eye, and Piccadilly Circus. But did you know that London is full of amazing artwork as well as landmarks? It’s true. In fact, art lovers are some of the main people who make their way to London each year. Here are just a few of the most famous pieces of art that are located in London:

Sunflowers, by Vincent Van Gogh

Located in the National Gallery, Sunflowers was painted in 1888. Sunflowers is a still life, oil on canvas painting that was created in Arles. Vincent Van Gogh reportedly painted Sunflowers with the intention of using it to decorate Gauguin’s rented home in the South of France. The National Gallery, Sunflowers’ home, also shelters other pieces of famous artwork from the 13th – 19th Century.  One of the best things about the National Gallery is that its artwork is free for viewing.

The Lady of Shalott, by John William Waterhouse

The Lady of Shalott was created by the masterful hands of John William Waterhouse in 1888. The painting is a depiction of Tennyson’s poem entitled The Lady of Shalott. The woman representing the Lady of Shalott in Waterhouse’s painting was, reportedly, his wife. This naturalistic painting is located at Tate Britain, which houses British art made in the past 500 years or so. Contemporary and international modern art can also be found at Tate Britain.

The Raphael Cartoons, by Raphael

Commissioned in 1515 by Pope Leo X, The Raphael Cartoons are said to be “among the greatest treasures of the High Renaissance.” Created by Raphael and his “assistants,” The Raphael Cartoons were used as tapestry designs for the Vatican. The paintings feature St. Paul and St. Peter. The Raphael Cartoons are currently housed at the Victoria and Albert museum, which is home to 4.5 million pieces of art, clothing, jewelry, ironwork, and much more.

English poet Samuel Johnson said, “When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life; for there is in London all that life can afford.” Indeed, one of the finest things that life affords is art, and that can be found in abundance in London.

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