Soulscapes and Success: The Extraordinary Art of Taha Afshar

Taha Afshar’s previous series, Garden of Mystery (2015) and Swedish Landscapes (2015) enjoyed considerable success. In Letting Light In (2016) Afshar returns to the original inspiration for the figurative works of the Garden of Mystery, Mahmud Shabistari’s Gulshan-I Raz (c., 1311) but via the abstraction of Swedish Landscapes. Afshar’s ‘take’ on Shabistari’s poetry interacts and comments upon a Sufi-Western canon stretching from Homer, Plato, and Plotinus contra Ibn Rushd and with Al-‘Arabi and Shabistari all the way to Sigmund Freud, André Breton, and Jacques Lacan. It’s heady, enlightening stuff. Afshar’s Letting Light In doesn’t shy away from the deepest questions that characterise our otherwise inane ‘being’ here, the otherwise absurdity of our life in this cosmos. He’s unafraid to explore that once, there was a command: ‘Let there be Light!’ We’d do well to follow Afshar in Letting Light In.

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D.S. Graham
Interesting Artworks: Laura Footes' The Hunt

Laura Footes’ large-scale pastel drawing, The Hunt (2014), depicts the moment in which a massive hunting party catches a fox. The line of the hunting party surges from the upper right towards the bottom left of the drawing, where the hounds rip apart the fox with such ferocity that only a pit of crimson identifies the prey. In the background, a Brontëan country house hunkers amidst rolling fields. The drawing is deliriously chromatic and abstract in its rendering. Footes’ pastel lines read like neon signs, and she arrays the cool white of the hounds’ coats around the fox like the petals of a carrion blossom. The long line of huntsmen—again, ominously clad in red—leap towards the carnage. This compositional movement prevents the drama from existing in one frozen moment, but rather emphasizes its crescendo. The panoply of colour and energy does not depict triumph, but rather a fever pitch.

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Lauren Amalia Redding
The Global Fine Art Awards, 2018

This year will mark the fourth annual award ceremony and gala of the Global Fine Art Awards. Founded to celebrate the best in curated exhibitions from all over the world, the entries are judged on exhibition design, historical context, educational value and public appeal. The fifteen awards cover a range of categories, from ‘Ancient Art’ to ‘Photography’, and this year the GFAA’s reaffirms its commitment to the international with the new ‘Global Planet’ and ‘Global Humanity’ awards.

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Ellen Charlesworth
At the Violet Hour: Reanimating T.S. Eliot's 'Inviolable Voices'

October 1921. The British poet T. S. Eliot travelled down to Margate to recuperate after suffering a nervous breakdown, buckling under the weight of his failing marriage and the pressure of completing The Waste Land (1922). He’s thought to have drafted ‘The Fire Sermon’, the third section of this work – which would come to represent one of the defining poetic compositions of the Modernist era – in a Victorian seaside shelter, an open timber structure that still stands today, overlooking Nayland Rock. Nearly a century later, an exhibition has opened in the Nayland Rock Hotel (now a Grade II listed building) assembling national and international artists, inspired by the poem and the ‘inviolable voices’ that invest its text, the myriad faces, the stories, the ‘heap of broken images’ that emerge from Eliot’s ‘unreal city’.

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Calum Cockburn
The Rise Art Prize

Rise Art offers the public the opportunity to vote for the winner of the Rise Art People's Choice Award, 2018. They’ve just announced the finalists. We’ve picked out our favourite five—or rather, six—artists from the shortlist. The finalists have been chosen by a team of ‘insiders’ from all over the art world. They include curators such as Rachael Thomas of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) and Sarah Martin of the Turner Contemporary in Margate; journalists and editors such as Emily Tobin of House and Garden and Beatrice Hodgkin of The Financial Times’ How to Spend It supplement; academics like Jean Wainwright of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) and, of course, artists such as Anthony Micallef and Bruce Mclean.

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D.S. Graham
Scott Hutchison's Metamorphosis: Superimposed Moments in Time

Hutchison’s Metamorphosis (oil on aluminium) fits perfectly in this context. Two different moments are frozen in a round composition called a Tondo concretise the meaning of metamorphosis that the artist want to suggest. A feminine figure seems to be compressed by the circular form of the painting, but four disembodied hands move freely in the circle and seem to have their own mood.

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Fragmented Memories through Novel Experiences: The Art of Christian Hook

I was very happy with the exhibition at Clarendon Fine Art. I made and interpreted my own artwork from a new perspective, and learned to look at art through different eyes, as if I was someone else. In the process I happened upon a number of interesting concepts which were new to me.”

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Aronson: Fine Art on Wall Street

Ben Aronson’s Wall Street Series (2010) steps back from the politics of Wall Street to offer us a real painter’s view of New York’s famous financial district.

But, why Wall Street? It’s one of the great shibboleths of contemporary politics, economics, and ideology. The famous—or is that, infamous—street that metonymically stands for finance, money, and perhaps, greed. ‘For a painter,’ says Aronson, it’s an ‘incredibly exciting scenario, visually, for paintings in which to present such an emotionally charged inquiry.’ He waxes lyrical of the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) ‘kaleidoscopic lights and screens,’ which made for ‘an amazingly cinematic visual feast.

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D.S. Graham
The Art World through its 10 Costliest Paintings

We’re celebrating the sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for a world-record $450,312,500 (including fees, etc.) at Christie’s (NYC) on 15 November, 2017, with this two-part series examining the contemporary art world through its ten most expensive paintings. In this first part, AAMag explores the concept of ‘provenance’ through the gaps in that of da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi—or is that Bernardino Luini’s or Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio’s? We’ve used de Kooning’s Interchange as an introduction or primer to some of the major players in the contemporary market—you’ve got to know your Geffens from your Griffiths and not just your Boltraffios from your Leonardos! We’ll also examine the major ‘market maker’ that is Qatar’s Al Thani family through their purchase of Cézanne’s The Card Players in 2011; while Gauguin’s Nafea faa ipoipo? allows us to touch upon the early history of Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips (de Pury); and we’ll finally turn to the surprising relations that link Abstract Expressionism with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Republican Party through the ideologies of freedom/autonomy and money

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D.S. Graham
Lee Jungwoong: A Brush with Treachery

Lee Jungwoong’s artworks are formidably executed and eminently collectable. His Brush (Plate 5) (2014) is a magnificent example of trompe l’oeil in its deception of the viewer’s eye—we’re entitled to ask: Is this really a painting and not a photograph? Furthermore, Jungwoong’s paintings of paint brushes are, really, appealingly intellectual.

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D.S. Graham
Hank Willis Thomas’ Politics of Sport

Hank Willis Thomas’ artworks have a reputation for critically commenting on the pressing issues of political, black, and social identity that continue to vex and provoke society today. The Beautiful Game at Ben Brown Fine Arts (5th October to 24 November 2017) examines the relationship between these and their wider social forces in relation to sport in a truly global setting.

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Barney Trimble
Q&A: Layne Johnson

Layne Johnson, has returned to his fine art roots in a series of staggeringly breathtaking cloudscapes. ‘[I]f you haven’t experienced the Texas Hill Country,’ he says, ‘I hope you can someday.’ If you, like us, are stuck under the grey autumnal skies, then head over to Johnson’s impressive Instagram. You’ll find contemporary American Impressionism at its very best. Intimate morning suns gleaming through the woods. Glorious pink and orange sunsets over distant mountain ranges. There are few artists today who can capture a landscape as does Layne Johnson.

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Bianca Schor
Fagerlund's Intimate Painted Moments

Although Fagerlund revives the traditional canon of art history, he never loses touch of the contemporary: when his female main character is drinking tea on the couch, Untitled (F-53) (2016), he again uses close-up and rough cuts, in reference to smartphone photography, to capture a calm moment. In this way Fagerlund emphasises the old masters tradition with modern contemporary aspects, he provides the viewer with mysterious stories of the mundane and all its secrets. The brilliance of the work is that the viewers also find themselves inhabiting those mesmerising moments in personal memories or subsequent dreams.

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Lucia Täubler
The Human Geography of Carl Krull

Krull has certainly traversed a complex terrain in recent years. Specifically, that wonderful and intriguing country that is the United States. His speech is in an amateur geographer or explorer’s register. He speaks of the ‘unchartered territory of the empty paper.’ He describes his drawings as ‘human seismographs.’ Of course, you’ll probably remember from your own geography classes that seismographs are those instruments that record the energy released by earthquakes in seismic waves. Krull’s are composed of the lines alluded to earlier, those black lines—more wobbly than parallel—that traversed the white canvas.

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Top 5 at The Other Art Fair London

Saatchi Art’s The Other Art Fair returns to London in October 5-7, 2017. There’s a plethora of abstract and figurative artists on show—although, the selection is somewhat weighted in favour of the former. From Elaine Kazimierczuk’s fragmented landscapes to Zeljka Paic’s architectural fantasies, Art Aesthetics chooses its Top 5 Artists to collect at The Other Art Fair 2017. 

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Q&A: Erin Hanson

Erin Hanson was eight years old when she began painting. Aged ten, she accepted her first commissions. Aged twelve, she was employed at a local mural studio. Since then, Hanson has won numerous awards and opened her own gallery, The Erin Hanson Gallery.

Art Aesthetics sat down with Hanson to discuss life, business, and, most importantly, art.

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Interesting Artworks: Interwoven by Daniel Bilmes

Daniel Bilmes’ paintings contain many of the hallmarks of timelessness. His work shares both aesthetic similarities and the emotional intimacy of great painters of the past. The painting Interwoven depicts a young woman, eyes closed and neck exposed. Drawn with obvious technical skill, the tight details of her face for a focal point that contrast the more abstract areas of the ground characterised by broader brushstrokes. 

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Q&A: Dina Brodsky

Whilst most of us are currently lounging somewhere sunny, Dina Brodsky is working hard. This New York-based contemporary artist specialises in realist miniature paintings and cycles through Europe in the summertime to draw inspiration for her work. Scanning her environment as she travels, Dina sketches away the little gems she comes across, and later turn them into miniature, ultra-detailed oil paintings, on 2’’ diameter copper or Plexiglas discs.

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