Friday, July 7, 2017

Anna Zemánková

I recently had the pleasure of seeing the Anna Zemánková exhibition at The Good Luck Gallery. I had never heard of this artist, but after seeing a few images in a gallery announcement, I was compelled to go see the works in person. They are lovely. Quiet and bold, strange and alien, they are embellished, exaggerated, otherworldly floral-like creations made from crayon, ink and pastel.  Some of her works -- my favorites -- also include fabric, beading and embroidery.  They truly are a wonder to see. 

The exhibition at the The Good Luck Gallery runs trough July 9, 2017. If you have a chance to see the exhibition this weekend, DO IT.  If you can't make it, somehow remember her name and try to see the works in person someday. They are magical.

Please note, all of these works are NOT in the above-mentioned exhibition. I have scoured as many sources as I could to get a better feel for her works, and pretty much just put them here for my viewing pleasure.  :]  Yep, I'm obsessed! Just fab!

About the artist:

“I am growing flowers that are not grown anywhere else,” said Anna Zemánková in describing her artwork. Throughout her often troubled life Zemánková cultivated a unique personal botany in crayon, ink and oil pastel, creating her own singular realm of emotionally-charged lyrical abstraction.
Zemánková was born in Moravia (today part of the Czech Republic) in 1908.  She worked as a dental technician before marrying a military officer and subsequently dedicated herself to raising four children, one of whom, her first-born son, died in infancy - a tragedy that Zemánková never completely recovered from.

It wasn’t until Zemánková was in her early fifties that she started drawing. One of her sons, a sculptor, provided her with materials and encouraged her to produce art as an antidote for the persistent melancholy that afflicted her. During the pre-dawn hours, while the rest of the world slept, Zemánková listened to classical music and drew anomalous biomorphic forms that quivered and pulsated with a life of their own; stamens that rippled like electrical currents; tendrils that twined, spiraled and unfolded into otherworldly blossoms. These subtle and delicately-hewn drawings exude a powerful presence.

In the absence of gallery shows, Zemánková held “open house” exhibitions every few years, and her work came to the attention of Jean Dubuffet who included several of her pieces in the Collection de l’Art Brut Lausanne, the world’s most notable collection of Outsider Art.

Although her subject matter remained much the same, a number of different phases – marked by her adoption of new mediums, including collage, embroidery, and bead-work – define Zemánková’s artistic career. She was a restless, questing spirit who kept working even after both of her legs were amputated due to severe diabetes.

In 1979, Zemánková achieved significant recognition when she was featured alongside Henry Darger, Martín Ramírez and others in the groundbreaking group show at London’s Hayward Gallery that was the first major exhibition to give art world exposure to self-taught visionary artists. More recently, eighteen of Zemánková’s works were included in the seminal 2013 Venice Biennale, organized by Masimilliano Gioni, director of New Museum, NY—the first time in the venerable contemporary art exhibition’s 118 year history that the work of Outsider artists was represented.

Thirty years after her death, interest in Zemánková has never been greater. Shows of her work will be up this summer at the Collection de l’Art Brut Lausanne and the Cavin-Morris Gallery in New York, while at the Good Luck Gallery in Los Angeles we are delighted to be presenting the first ever solo exhibit of Zemánková’s art in California, where her rarely-seen beaded and embroidered works will be shown, as well as many collages and drawings.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Mojave, California

A while back my little sister told me that I might want to visit Mojave, California. She knows I get so bored and restless and that I love to get away and see new places.  So I finally took her advice and drove out there.  It's about 90 miles north of Los Angeles proper -- way, way, way out in the boonies where there are few people and traffic is pretty much non-existent. It is quiet, stark, scenic, and kind of bleak. But it was fun to wander around, feel tiny in a big landscape, and take these pics.

While in Mojave, I kept hoping (worrying?) that I'd run into a gang of tweakers that might let me take their photos if I gave them enough money to buy an 8-ball (yes, I know that term -- long ago I messed around with the second/ or third? tackiest drug of all, but those days are way behind me).  Anywhoo, no such luck.  I saw some down-and-out types at a gas station, but no obvious tweakers.  But maybe that's for the best?  Probably.

Many decades ago, my parents were heading out on their honeymoon.  They spent the first night in Oakland, California, and then headed south on their way to the Grand Canyon.  After about 7 hours of driving, my mom said they needed to find someplace to stay for the night.  They ended up stopping in Mojave, Ca.  Not exactly romantic!  HA!  My mom said it was roasting hot, the air conditioning didn't work, and my dad somehow got locked out of the motel room while wearing nothing but his underwear, and he had to crawl around banging on windows until my mom let him back in the room.  Or something like that?  Ridic.  

My parents currently live in my idea of a suburban nightmare neighborhood, on Mojave Way.  My mom says it is incredible how often people mispronounce the word "Mojave", calling it MOW-JAVE.  HELLO?!?!?!??!  Born in a barn??????  

Hmmm. What else can I say here?  Not much, really.  Nothing new or exciting that I'd care to share. The last year or so has had many ups and downs [yesterday was the anniversary of one of my worst experiences in life -- UGH -- I am so happy to have the year behind me so that I can hopefully get over it and just fucking MOVE ON already], but isn't that true for almost everyone in existence?  Every time I get into "woe is me" mode, I think about Syrian refugees and I shut my pie hole.  I feel like i am constantly RECALIBRATING lately.  Just re-adjusting to life, to circumstances, to expectations, etc.  If that makes sense?  But don't we all have to do that constantly?  Maybe I am just more conscious of it now.

A friend who is going through really tough times recently had some words of wisdom for me (courtesy of her recently passed father): stop rowing the boat and just see where it goes.  Of course I immediately pictured a boat moving precipitously towards a waterfall, LOL, but that's just me.  It is interesting advice, and I'll take it under consideration.  :)