Dienstag, 20. April 2010

The "Invisible Siegfrieds" ended their four-day march

The “Invisible Siegfrieds” ended their four-day march

By Simone Kussatz

For four days, the “Invisible Siegfrieds”, who were part of composer Georg Nussbaumer’s innovative Ring project “Invisible Siegfrieds Marching Sunset Boulevard,” marched down Sunset Boulevard, pulling a cart on which alto Christina Ascher sat on, hidden behind a silver awning. The appearance of the helmeted Siegfrieds along with the strange sounds deriving from Ascher - who was listening to the Ring over headphones and only accompanied specific tones of the opera - had put many passersby into a state of astonishment. The reactions had been versatile, from people stopping and taking photographs to a driver rolling down her window, playing “Die Wallküre” full blast.

Yet, the participation in the project had been less than expected. “I’m a bit surprised about the low number of “Invisible Siegfrieds” we were able to recruit,” Nussbaumer said. “I thought that in a metropolitan city we would find at least ten people marching with us, because then the interplay between silence and singing would have been more effective. It would have given Ms. Ascher a counterbalance. It’s also a pity, because artists could have had a truly unique and interesting experience.“

The event ended Tuesday, April 20th at 7:45 p.m. at Will Rogers State Beach in front of Gladstones. CNN was there and about 30 people awaiting the Siegfrieds to participate in the last part of the project (Horn! Drop! Drink! ) and to watch Ascher dressed as the Statue of Liberty sing into the surf.

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Mittwoch, 14. April 2010

The works of Mark Hix

The works of Mark Hix

Like Jack Vettriano, Séraphine Louis and Henri Rousseau, Philadelphia-born artist Mark Hix is self-taught. His collection of art work, including oil paintings, works on wood, mixed media, and drawings, can be viewed at Bleicher/Golightly Gallery in Santa Monica in June 2010. Influenced by contemporary, neo-expressionist and independent artists, Hix’s works are a reflection of his life experiences and spiritual growth, created in his downtown Los Angeles studio at the Brewery Arts Complex.

What stands out most are his portrait paintings from “series paintings 1,” made of thick layers of oil paint. Among them are writers from the Beat Generation, Alan Ginsberg, Willam S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac. “More than being fascinated by the Beats,” Hix explained “I’m fascinated with individuals that are desperate to be heard and brave enough to try.” Furthermore, the 46-year-old emerging artist did a series on American folk singers, including Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie. “Although I appreciate American folk music, I’m more interested in who they were and what they did - ambitious restless souls.”

Although it might occur that Hix paintings carry political statements, especially in his portrait paintings of Sitting Bull, he looks at them more from a general philosophical perspective. “There was someone that stood in the face of enormous opposition, unwilling to let go of his principles.” For portrait paintings, Hix doesn’t use life models, but photographs. He mostly works with a palette knife and developed a unique technique by painting his works upside-down. “It helps me to focus on shapes and values,” he said.

One of his paintings “The Journey,” from “series paintings 2” shows a mostly black and white image with an elderly man, walking over a bridge in a winter landscape. Hix emphasized that “The Journey” is a metaphor for life. “The individual aged, still continues on his path alone,” he said, “making his way through the dense cold brush and trees of the forest (nature). There is a strange comfort there.”

Two of Hix’ paintings “After Cezanne” and “After Van Gogh” - the one showing a still life, the other a landscape - are studies and copies of works by Cezanne and Van Gogh. “After Cezanne” was inspired by Cezanne’s “Still Life with Red Onions,” although a cropped version of it, “After Van Gogh” by Van Gogh’s “A wind-beaten tree.” However, they’re not an homage to these renown painters, “but simply exercises,” he said. Whereas his copies look as if they were made by brush strokes similar to the originals, Hix stressed that he only used a brush to draw and lay them out. Only sometimes he went back and cleaned something up with the brush, yet he never models or blends with it.

Despite the fact, Hix has worked primarily on paintings in recent years, he likes to stay flexible.

His earlier work consists of a series of mixed media pieces - made out of burlap, plaster, oil paint, sometimes using photos and other objects. His piece “Moonlit,” an image mostly in blues and purples with a silhouette, is from his series “Shadow Figures”. The line of the Silhouette is created by the quick application of the plaster onto the burlap. “This allows me to create an illusion of depth in a new way,” he said.

Hix’ works on wood appear to have had an Asian influence. One piece called “Tree on a Hill” shows a tree on a slope that’s firmly rooted, but slightly crooked. There are three areas in the painting, where the wood is exposed, which are meant to project a metamorphosis. “In my eyes, they are romantic pieces,” he added.

Hix also has a collection of drawings, which depict speople he admires, Cezanne, Keaton, Modigliani and Thoreau. They were drawn upside-down like his paintings - with an ink pen, fast and free.

By Simone Kussatz

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Sonntag, 11. April 2010

The Chinese monk

It was during Moonfestival, the streets were filled with people, when I decided to take off for a hike behind Nanputuo temple in Xiaman in Southern China and suddenly found myself lost. It was a hot and humid day.
Nervous for a moment, I looked to the left and right and through the dense forest, when I suddenly heard someone's gentle footsteps walking over small fallen off branches and foliage on the ground. Suddenly a Chinese monk appeared in front of me. And although I wasn't able to explain myself to him in words he quickly could pick up from my gestures that I needed his guidance to find my way back. So, he invited me to follow him. But as we kept hiking and climbing over rocks, I realized he was lost like me.
We kept on moving, stopped in between, and smiled at each other, and kept on moving, stopped in between, and smiled at each other.
We then hiked around the mountain, when a young Chinese woman came across us. She spoke English and knew the way back to Nanputuo temple. Enthusiastic to meet a Westerner, she decided to join us. Later, I found out she was a student at the university, where I taught at. I was glad to have an interpreter on my side, although I would have preferred to communicate directly. The monk walked ahead of us and we followed him. We started laughing joyously, as I was trying to take pictures of the monk and his feet. His gown sometimes floated in the wind within trees and bushes, which seemed mysterious and poetic to me.

When we took a rest on top of the mountain, the monk sat down cross-legged and told us the story how he once was in love with a young woman, before he turned into a monk. However, the woman's mother didn't want her daughter to be with him, because he was a vegetarian. Heartbroken over this he turned into a monk. Years after though the mother and daughter turned into vegetarians themselves, so that the daughter was looking for him. And when she found him, she learned it was too late for them to rekindle their relationship, because as a monk he no longer could be with a woman.
There was a moment of silence.
Before our paths split down at Nanputuo temple the monk offered me to go on a journey with him to another monastry a bit further up north. I kindly refused the offer, although the idea of it seemed adventurous. Before I left, he asked, if I could send him copies of the photographs, but then we realized it would be difficult, he had no home and an e-mail address and was moving from monastry to monastry.

Story and photos by Simone Kussatz

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Freitag, 9. April 2010

Zen moments

During my stay in China, I was looking for places, where I'd be undisturbed, away from the crowds of people. I felt intrigued by the light and played around with it. Some of the images were shot around Nanputuo temple - a Buddhist temple in Xiamen - others on campus of Xiamen University, or on the piano island "Gulangyu" and at the "Forbidden City" in Beijing. The blue bench with the pink bougainvillae was taken in the Bangkok zoo, when I was trying to escape from China during the holidays. I tried to apply these moments that I call "zen moments" to my life in the U.S. During Thanksgiving 2009, I took a trip by car to the Grand Canyon and stopped at Red Rock in Nevada on my way to go for a run. I came across this rock and felt fascinated by nature's beauty with clouds hanging on top of it and decided to change the color photo into a black-and-white one to add a more dramatic appeal to the image.

All content of this site (c) belongs to Simone Kussatz

Photos by Simone Kussatz