The Art of Seda Saar

 

Seda Saar, 1 Spheres V 20 x 36 in. Mixed Media on Canvas 2019  © 2019, 2021 Seda Saar 

By Moira Cue

I never would have met Seda Saar (the second time) if I hadn’t joined the Los Angeles Art Association. I never would have joined the Los Angeles Art Association if I hadn’t been trying to help a friend, an attorney, find work with an arts-related nonprofit.

I met Peter Mays, executive director of the LAA, at the 2019 LA Art Show VIP Gala. (Peter’s impressive creds include serving as co-chair on the Education Committee for the Board of Directors for the MOCA Contemporaries.)

The lone attorney on their advisory board had just stepped down and they needed occasional help. I wound up on their email list and checked out a couple of events before I decided to join.

What stood out to me at the first LAA event I went to was that the social vibe was totally different. No social climbers or Hollywood shallow types. No one asked me “what do you do?” in a way that immediately read “what can you do for me?” Instead, I met an older gentleman who cradled his “anxiety dog,” and other introverts—people you can count on to be kind. It was truly endearing. So, when I got the call for artists, I thought, what the heck, why not?

I made it to about two LAA art events before the pandemic hit. At one event, the 2019 Open Show, I noticed one woman who caught my eye, Louisa Miller. Tall, lean, angular, with cropped hair, in her seventies, she stood statuesque, hawkishly staring at a painting. She was so immersed in the work; it was as if no one else was in the room. I immediately wanted to talk to her.

Louisa would introduce me to Frederika Roeder, the moderator for the 2020 Pasadena Critique Group. One of the best things about being in LAA is the critique groups where you get to meet with very nice people who are interested in sharing each other’s art. Our group included Louisa, a serious landscape painter; Olyessa Volk and Viktoria Romanova, both Russian immigrants with two totally unique styles; Frederika, a Southern California surfer girl down to her roots; Katherine Murray-Morse, who’d been in banking and had started painting two years prior; and Richard M. Blanchard, who also has a stunning interior finishing portfolio and celebrity clientele list (http://www.atom-zu.com/).

But THIS article is about Seda.

I first met Seda around 2012 or 2013 when she was running the MLY Gallery at the Malibu Lumberyard, which was particularly well known for a star-studded, much talked-about exhibition of a private buyer’s entire Warhol collection.

We met for the second time in Louisa’s spacious, high-ceilinged loft near a trendy Pasadena shopping district for Louisa’s critique (before Covid made in-person meetings unfeasible). Seda carried herself with confidence and authority, declaring certain paintings “successful,” and others “less successful” with an aura of finality. I was lured in by a series of works that amounted to some flirtation that Louisa had made with child-like abstraction. Everyone else was on a different wavelength. During and after the critique, I really connected with Richard and I hoped we’d become good friends.

I didn’t really start to get to know Seda until her one-person show Refractions – a Lens Through Time at the Neutra Museum Gallery (2020). She was gracious enough to make time to give me a personal tour. This was during the autumn wildfires of 2020. My friends in San Francisco and Portland filled their social media feeds with apocalyptic images of a sunless sky, a blood red moon, stories of struggling to breathe in AQI readings that were off the charts. In my own neighborhood, we were under evacuation warning. The entire city of Los Angeles was blanketed in soot and smelled like campfire. The few minutes outdoors between the car and the museum’s front door, even in a KN95, left my eyes stinging, my head pounding, and my throat sore.

 

Seda Saar, Spheres II 20 x 36 in. Mixed Media on Canvas 2019 (Private Collection San Diego) ©2019, 2021, Seda Saar. 

The Nuetra is a Silverlake nonprofit, designed by eponymous architect Richard Nuetra, renowned for his influence on Southern California modernist vis-à-vis crisp, steel and glass geometric forms. I can’t imagine a better fit for Saar’s work, which is informed by her study of interior architecture. (Saar holds a BA from London Metropolitan University.) In one area of the exhibition, near a seating area of mid-century Modern sofas and chairs, earlier, smaller, black-and-white renderings on paper of Nuetra-esque architectural forms in nature seamlessly fused Seda’s work with the museum’s purpose.

Seda’s work fits into two-dimensional and three-dimensional categories that enhance each other. For example, Saar recently won a Juror’s Award of Excellence for her sculpture, Prismatic, 2019, as part of the California Sculpture SLAM at the San Luis Obispo Museum of Art in 2020. The piece is created with acrylic plastic and mirror in a pyramid shape refracting various jewel-toned colors of light, like a prism.

 

These sculptural works dealing with geometry, color, and light refraction are plastic, three-dimensional versions of paintings and mixed media two-dimensional work that addresses the same formal concerns of space, light, and color. In both cases, one could argue that more is more, and be right; the moreness of three-dimensional objects in space versus the moreness, the meta-ness of a cosmic, or planetary schemata seen in pieces like Genesis.

But what made me excited enough to write about Seda’s work was the added insight that I gained through this private touring.

Seda Saar, Prismatic 12 x 12 x 18 in. Acrylic and Mirror Sculpture, ©2021, Seda Saar

Here’s where I disclose my biases: I not only write about art, but I make art too. And while I have gone through phases like any artist who has been working several decades, my own work never relies on draftsman’s tools or clean lines. I love work that is childlike, expressionistic, and primitive. Typically, or historically, I’ve found work that was very crisp less interesting. The first exception to this generalization was Agnes Martin; had I not seen the work in person at LACMA, however, its delicacy would have escaped me. The work of Donald Judd’s and Carl Andres of this world still leaves me cold, while the work of the Cy Twomblys and Howard Hodgkins makes my heart sing.

As with Martin and other women working in an oeuvre descended from minimalism or post-minimalism, post-identity, and masculinity, a closer inspection of Saar’s lines and glyphs reveals their fail to establish a machine-like detachment. Her lush, indulgent use of color breaks all the rules of “seriousness” more generally associated with East Coast, rather than West Coast, artists.

And yet I had to get over my own bias of–oh this is geometry, so this is not about nature. And when we talked about the fires, global warming, and cycles of nature, and she insisted that the work was in fact, about nature, my first reaction was dismissive–that she just didn’t know how to talk about her work.

And that’s when the interesting thing happened. As I mentioned, during this discussion the whole city was blanketed in smoke. I’ve lived through fire seasons before, but nothing like 2020. The fires of 2020 taught me how primordial our fear of fire is. Because my reaction was physical and ancient: the one thing we fear as animals is fire, and the one thing that makes us human is that we tamed fire. But the animal fear is deep inside of us, ready to hatch, ready to return us to our instincts: RUN! And a few days later, I would; albeit on an airplane, rather than with my two legs.

When Seda started to talk about chakras, my chakra energy was off, I was in fear mode (well duh, we were worried our house was going to burn down). Honestly, I forget which chakra was the culprit. But she told me that she studied shamanism in Peru, and she decided to walk me through a series of breaths, orations, and gestures intended to rebalance my chakras. I’m not sure I “believe” in chakras, but I’m pretty accommodating, so I went along with it. I don’t know if it changed my chakras or not. I know that something transformed in Seda while she was acting as a shamanic leader. Her voice changed, her presence changed, and we addressed the directions and certain elements of nature. At one point I closed my eyes.

And when it was over, and I opened my eyes, for a second her work came to life. It was no longer just formalism, or what I initially saw as a confused hodgepodge of various movements and thoughts that didn’t “line up” with the finished product. (Why does she keep talking about nature when these are so—quasi hard edge?) She had had a hard time explaining the work. (And why should artists be expected to write their own jingoistic marketing blurbs is beyond me.) But experiencing the work was totally different. I realized that Nature—the nature that I see as wild, as expressionistic, as opposed to geometric forms and straight lines—that Nature at the macro level (galaxies) and micro level (cells) can be very precise, very linear, very geometric.

Seda Saar, Genesis 36 x 48 in. Mixed Media on Canvas 2020 ©2020, 2021, Seda Saar 

And so, I had a shamanic experience of opening myself to another vision, another version, of reality. While it required the physical presence of the artist to pull it off, it is, undoubtedly, the highest and rarest achievement in art to break through unseen preconceptions and pull the viewer into the world of the artist.

Moira Cue is an award winning multi-media artist and art critic for The Hollywood Sentinel.  She attended the Masters Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  Learn more about her and contact the author at www.MoiraCue.com 

Textual content is  © 2021, Hollywood Sentinel. Images provided courtesy of the artist.  All world rights reserved.

bG Gallery Keeping Art Scene Alive in LA

“Kirsten Fletcher, A Cut in Time”  Photograph by Rama Lee, image courtesy of bG Gallery, Santa Monica, California

bG Gallery has always been on the cutting edge of showcasing talented emerging and established artists in Los Angeles. As they state, they “specialize in accomplished artists who have crossed traditionally contentious art ideologies including expressive-conceptual, insider-outsider, high-low and figurative-abstract.”
Beyond that, they are incredibly busy, always active in the global and national art scene, and just as importantly, are very cool, kind people to work with who treat people right.
They have been one of the few LA galleries that done shows either online or safely by appointment or small groups during 2020.  Their recent show just today was an online exhibition of wearable art, featuring some very talented artists with beautiful works, as seen in just one example with the image above.
Visit their official website, support the gallery, and mention you saw them here.  www.santamonicabgartdealings.com 
2020, Hollywood Sentinel

LA Art Show 2020

From February 5-9, the LA Art Show hit its 25th Anniversary in the downtown LA Convention Center, representing 120 galleries from 18 different countries. As always, there was a strong showing of Chinese and Latin American artists, including Los Angeles based Latinos (or, Latinx, if you prefer).


Opening night was fun.  A performance artist named Miss Art World, presented by the nonprofit cooperative 825 Gallery, was one of the more colorful personalities, with a big blue bouffant, a dress like the topping of a cake, and her signature beauty queen sash that says, “Miss Art World,” of course.


Cirque du Soleil performers looking like indigenous-inspired Super Mario brothers characters walked around on stilts, in weird color block mohawks.

Everyone wanted to take selfies or pictures of actress-model type women, and the ALPHACUBE by Lorenzo Marini (presented by Bruce Lurie Gallery) was busy all night with people taking advantage of the sculpture’s colorful interior, which made for a great wall-to-wall backdrop of blocks of letters. Give Los Angelenos a place to pose and they’ll love you forever. Or at least, they’ll post your work on social media that night.


Browsing through one of the Chinese galleries on opening night, I was offered some strawberry hard candies, which I enjoyed. “They’re popular for Chinese New Year,” the gallerist explained. We started talking about Year of the Rat, whether it was good for Year of the Rabbit people or not, and she mentioned that it was a very unlucky year for many Chinese. Only later did I wonder if perhaps she was thinking about the coronavirus.

Art brings people together from all over the world.  As one newbie wrote on Instagram, “Can I get season tickets?” There is so much to see, you literally can’t do it all.

I returned to the Show on Saturday and enjoyed meeting the proprietor of the Wyoming Working Group. They have quite a story! The group owns more than 50 canvasses attributed to Jackson Pollack. Attributed to means that, they think they were made by Jackson Pollack but can’t prove it. Their struggle to establish provenance has raged on for decades. The work has many Pollack-like qualities, but it also feels different. The patterns are similar, but the work has a different palette and much lighter touch. My first gut reaction—from a distance—was that they were fake (“Oh weird,” I thought, “there’s a booth called Pollack’s Paradigm. Looks like someone is trying to recreate the Pollack style.” I thought it was like one of those workshops museums do for kids.)

The explanation given for the work being hidden is that Pollack was going to have a major retrospective and had stashed away his “best stuff” in preparation for the show. Also, he was going through a divorce, and wanted to hide the work from his soon to be ex-wife and the dealers he no longer trusted. His untimely demise in an auto accident prevented the work from being released by the artist, the story goes. The work was allegedly gifted to an unknown girlfriend, one of several, allegedly, who sold the work cheaply. But there’s no proof a girlfriend other than Ruth Kligman existed. The work is interesting for the issues it raises about how an artist’s work is authenticated, and who gets to decide what is real and what isn’t. It’s a whole area of the art world that most artists don’t even think about when they’re alive. The Working Group has spent large amounts of money with scientific research to try to prove that the paintings are authentic. And whether they are or not, it’s a fascinating story and one they certainly seem to believe in.

But is it true? If it is, science will tell us, eventually. The Working Group claims fractal analysis backs them up; a quick Google search turns up articles both condemning fractal analysis as unreliable indicator of what is and isn’t a Pollack, and suggesting that new software is better—up to 93% accurate. The Group also claims to have one work with a fingerprint. A fingerprint, a hair, other DNA analysis would be tough to argue with. But the details of the fingerprint on the Group’s website are thin. And Pollack is the most forged post-war artist on earth. Even former members of the Pollack-Krasner Foundation’s authentication board have had public disagreements about other instances of post-humous attributions. To see the work in this collection and judge for yourself, click here: https://wyomingworkinggroup.com/book/#.Xk3ZRy2ZM_U
New discoveries, and sometimes new friendships, is what the LA Art Show is all about. At the KR Martindale Gallery, I had the fun experience of meeting an exhibiting artist, Guillermo Bert, whose work deals with complex social issues stemming from immigration, acculturation, and the Latinx community. He works with indigenous communities in Latin America as well as in Los Angeles, to create works that evoke lived experience through a mix of traditional symbols and contemporary technology (such as woven textile pieces where you can scan a QR code and hear first person narratives, or the videotaped stories of undocumented migrants projected in an installation of live tumbleweed). Most of Bert’s work is curated and displayed through museums rather than galleries; at the LA Art Show he brought smaller, collectable works like “Red States, Blue States, and White Lies,” a seemingly minimalist triptych of “laser, barcodes, and candy colors on Plexi” whose title betrays a conceptual punch.

One of my favorite sections this year was INK. With mostly Chinese and Japanese artists from foreign and domestic galleries, the section explores calligraphy rooted in both traditional and experimental forms. The important, avant-garde calligraphy artist Yuichi Inoue was presented by Japanese gallery Zeal House. Shoen Tominaga, another important avant-garde calligrapher, whose work inhabits the spaces of painting and writing, was presented by S.E.A. (Los Angeles and Tokyo).

I particularly enjoyed seeing work by Yang Xiaojian presented by the Shanghai based COSPACE Gallery. These works synthesize an Eastern, calligraphic-based sensibility with the Western painterly tradition; Chinese characters are imbued with weight and and a cartoonish heft like the objects in a later Philip Guston painting. This work, by itself, was worth the trip.

–Moira Cue

Moira Cue is an award winning artist, singer, and actress whose works are in collections worldwide.

©2020 Hollywood Sentinel

MOCA Launches “Warehouse” Courtesy of Wonmi Kwon

Debranne Cingari Nora’s Sweet Nothings; infused dyes sublimated on aluminum; 24 x 24 or 48 x 48 inches . Copyright © 2019 Coe + Co Photography Gallery, All rights reserved.  Coe + Co Photography Gallery / Cavalier Galleries Photography News.

MOCA LAUNCHES WAREHOUSE PROGRAMS WITH FOUNDING GIFT FROM MOCA TRUSTEE WONMI KWON

The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) is extremely pleased to announce a founding gift for WAREHOUSE Programs. This generous and transformative gift comes from longtime MOCA Trustee Wonmi Kwon, her husband Kihong Kwon and family. Located in MOCA’s Little Tokyo space, WAREHOUSE Programs will include curated programs that highlight performance and performing arts, artistic experimentation, experiential installations, a wide range of contemporary and social practices, and festival-like open events such as conventions, summits, readings, idea fairs, concerts, screenings, dance, as well as group, family, and community-oriented activities that encourage diverse, intergenerational experiences for new and established audiences. This gift will make possible a significant increase in programming and the infrastructure needed to support the space and its activities for years to come.

“It’s a bit over a year that Wonmi and I started talking about the cutting edge of contemporary art, the artist’s studio, performing arts, and performance art and the artistic spirit of the Temporary Contemporary,” explains MOCA Director Klaus Biesenbach. “We began exploring the idea of WAREHOUSE Programs immediately when we met, and now she and her family are founding Wonmi’s WAREHOUSE Programs! What an incredible gift for the community of Los Angeles and beyond! I cannot thank her enough and am very honored and grateful for this transformative gift!”

This support will enable The Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo to be open and available year-round and allows the warehouse location to be re-conceptualized as a convening space to engage and activate the community. In addition, this foundational contribution makes possible the creation of an artist bar and restaurant connecting The Aileen Getty Plaza with Wonmi’s WAREHOUSE Programs. This gift will be launched with a seminal mural facing Alameda Street by artist Barbara Kruger which bookends an earlier gift, also made by Wonmi Kwon and her family, of the Barbara Kruger mural, Untitled (Questions) (1990/2018), installed at MOCA Geffen one year ago. Work has already begun on evaluating infrastructure needs to realize WAREHOUSE Programs and the new offerings will begin to roll out in 2020.

“I have been part of the MOCA family for many decades and it is with renewed confidence and excitement about the museum that we make this gift,” says Kwon. “The space in Little Tokyo has always resonated with me for its physical and metaphorical proximity to the artist’s studio. It is a space of innovation, freedom, and experimentation. Knowing it will now be activated and opened up to the community in a robust and exciting way brings me and my family great joy.”

“Wonmi has been an inspiration to me and the entire board since she first became involved with the museum nearly 30 years ago,” remarks MOCA Board Chair Maria Seferian. “Wonmi and Kihong’s gift will make it possible for MOCA to return to its roots, at its first location originally named ‘The Temporary Contemporary’ and launch a program that showcases our museum’s commitment to the community, to living artists, and to new art practices. We’re so honored and thrilled by this gift!”

WAREHOUSE Programs further the museum’s mission by creating a space that allows for exchange within our communities, welcoming a broad range of voices, and drawing on the intersection of contemporary art with local and global topics such as environment and social justice.

The Art of Debranne Cingari

From Debranne Cingari’s VW Love collection, this striking image is the product of the artist’s exploration of Miami, driving a VW Bug through the city in search of her next muse. Photographing her car against a backdrop of graffiti’d walls, she has captured and manipulated intriguing images to create unique new compositions that play on the relationship of the car and the graffiti imagery. In “Nora’s Sweet Nothings” the composition suggests that the figure is whispering a secret to the car. Adding an element of color, the artist draws us deeper into the focal point of the lips. Color variations are available in limited editions in 24 x 24 and 48 x 48 inch sizes.

Photographer and assemblage artist Debranne Cingari is based in CT, but spends her time traveling the world seeking inspiration for her artwork. Her work has been included in major contemporary art fairs throughout the US, and is held in corporate and public collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Cingari is the recipient of numerous awards for her photography from Photographer’s Forum Magazine, and the prestigious Salmagundi Club in New York.

Hollywood Sentinel

2019 LA Art Show: In Review

 


Photo Credit, Moira Cue, 2019, LA Art Show, 2019.

VIP GALA

I am one of the few people who has attended the VIP Gala of the LA Art Show every year since it was first held in the LA Convention Center in DTLA instead of the Santa Monica Barker Hangar. In one sense, it’s the most important night of the show. Celebrities are sighted, including hosts of the annual St. Jude Children’s Hospital Research Center Benefit—This year’s hosts were Gavin Rossdale and Kate Beckinsale. And, as the Bruce Lurie Gallery’s Instagram page reminds me, sales are made.

I wonder every year if the Gala seems different because I am not the same person I was 365 days ago. The way I dress changes, what I eat, drink, or don’t eat and drink changes. This year,  no alcohol, and no animal products. Ironically, Pink’s Hotdogs served one of the better vegan options with a full sized vegan hotdog. There was also an all-vegan bruschetta station by Vespaio, a lovely restaurant on Grand Ave, right next to The Broad.

Opening night—which certain years has had all the theatricality of an Elton John concert circa 1973—felt calm, subdued even. They say when you buy a blue Volvo, suddenly the streets are full of blue Volvos.  A normally functioning brain filters out so much superfluous information every day. But I only saw a handful of women draped in sequins, glamourous feathered headgear, and stilettos; and this year no one was wearing the equivalent of a human scale plushy onesie or full-body latex appendage.

What stood out to me was the number of attendees, male and female, wearing the same thing that I settled on: a neutral tone business suit paired with high-end, funky lifestyle sneakers. Silver sneakers, striped sneakers, neon sneakers; even a little girl in a velvet party dress with blinking lights on her sneakers. Of course, some men just wore men’s suits with regular dress shoes. Some guys never change.

There were roughly 220 galleries from 18 countries participating this year, according to the cheerful lady who introduced herself as Kim (Martindale’s) “other sister.” She lives in Alaska, and therefor rarely attends the show. Kim Martindale has been the LA Art Show owner for 23 years, and is a major figure in the exhibition of tribal art nationally.

CATEGORIES

This year’s exhibit space defines galleries as members of several different sections: Core, Modern + Contemporary, DIVERSEartLA, Featured Programming, Roots, Ink Painting, Littletopia, Dialogs LA (a slate of talks and panels), Project Space, Works on Paper, Ethnographic Art, and LUXURY pbsg. Whew. Each of these sections has its own vibe and criteria and some galleries fit more than one category. To learn more about the groups, click https://www.laartshow.com/about-the-show/.

For the purpose of this review, we’re going to talk about things I like. That may mean that great work in some categories isn’t covered because I just didn’t see it.  Some sections are more prominent than others, and sometimes great work is missed because it’s hung in an interior corner with a lot of other work, or because of traffic patterns. To make sure you don’t miss out, you really need to go more than once, ideally at different times of day, and different days of the week.

BLACK AND WHITE CALLIGRAPHY:                                                     JAPANESE ARTISTS AT KAMIYA ART

The Kamiya Art booth is the first place I was drawn to. My recent influences include calligraphic as well as black and white work, and I have always found the balance between a minimalist palette and expressionistic brushwork in more contemporary Japanese calligraphy to be very appealing.

Kamiya Art; Photo Credit, ©2019, Moira Cue; LA Art Show, 2019.

I discussed the quintessentially Japanese ideas of kanji (vertical lettering derived from Chinese character) and koan (sometimes explained as a nonsensical riddle that can expand the mind) with Kei Takahashi, while exploring the work of Morihiro Hosokawa, who also happens to be a former prime minister of Japan. During Hosokawa’s tenure as prime minister, from 1993 to 1994, he is known for statements acknowledging Japan’s role as an aggressor during WWII. According to Wikipedia, “Hosokawa’s acts toward China and Korea inspired Russian president Boris Yeltsin to apologize to Hosokawa for the Soviet detention of Japanese prisoners of war in Siberia.”

The gallerist explained to me that the stark black and white folding screens, very nicely installed and displayed, did not make “sense.” The word “hell” was next to the word “Buddha.” “Oh, but that’s the life. That’s the human condition,” I said. We smiled, and laughed when I mentioned that George Bush has also turned to painting, but it’s not as good. (Though to be fair, the paintings of George Bush Jr. have a certain “Howard Finster reincarnated as trust fund kid who went to art school and learned a few sloppy shortcuts” naïve-ish charm. However, I don’t expect to see them selling for six figures at an international art fair any time soon. You can, however, see them online here. https://www.designboom.com/art/george-w-bush-exhibit-painted-portraits-04-07-2014/

Kimaya Art also displayed the calligraphic art of Yu-ichi Inoue (1916-1985), who is said to be the father or liberator of modern Japanese calligraphy. For Western audiences familiar with Cy Twombly, his work would be the closest analogous example: sensitivity, great emotion, vulnerability and transcendence are concentrated into the expressive form of text. Inoue is said to have “liberated” calligraphy in the modern Japanese art world from a formal, stylized expression to a human expression of great feeling.

Kamiya Art, Photo Credit ©2019, Moira Cue.

 

 

While Hosokawa, born into one of Japans’ noble families, has an almost militant energy—Yu-ichi, who was without the financial means to pursue his art full time until his retirement from teaching at the age of 60—shows in his lines a poignant longing that only those who have endured deprivation and worked, patiently, diligently, quietly, toward their own liberation, can fully understand.

Yu-ichi Inoue was born into an impoverished family. At 19 he became an elementary school teacher, and was eventually assigned to teach an advanced calligraphy class, which inspired him to take calligraphy seriously. When attacks on the Japanese mainland began in 1944, Yu-ichi was sent to the country with 35 6th grade boys. The children were ordered to return to Tokyo with their instructor after they graduated March 3rd, despite Yu-ichi’s pleas to keep the students out of Tokyo. When they returned, Yu-ichi found his parents’ house had been destroyed, so he volunteered to serve as a night watch at the school.

On March 10, 1945, the Great Tokyo Air Raid took place, and there were around 1,000 casualties at the school, including most of his students. Yu-ichi himself fell unconscious from heat and smoke, and barely escaped death after several hours of artificial respiration. Decades later, he would create multiple-character works inspired by this memory. His single character works include, notably, letters of the name of a female teacher, 28 years his junior, with whom he developed an intense infatuation that he would later confess, with shame, to his wife.

Yu-ichi Inoue is known as a founding member of the group Bokunjinkai, who published a magazine called Bokujin, with the intention of liberating calligraphy from binding tradition to embrace the naked human spirit. Calligraphy, in East Asian culture, is said to be the highest of all art forms. But it is poorly understood in the West.

The life of Yu-ichi Inoue is filled with poignant anecdotes. In his thirties, he was evicted from an apartment for staining the floors and walls with paint. He spent his life’s savings to purchase a house, but after buying a lot, nothing was left for construction. In his forties, he garnered critical acclaim, for example, being selected for the Sao Paolo Biennale in 1957 and subsequently included by critic Herbert Read in his book, A Concise History of Modern Painting. But Yu-ichi was not able to concentrate fully on calligraphy until 1976, when he retired from teaching at the age of 60.

I have asked myself many times if, in painting, victory deferred is sweeter. I admire artists who bend the world to their will; artists who succeed; artists who are compensated for what they do. It is not an easy task. Yet the artist who faces obstacles, who is delayed acclaim, who collects energy for his art rather than expending it on a public persona, is sometimes the one who creates work that endures, work that will nourish the viewer again and again, over a long journey.

PART TWO, CRITIC’S CHOICE: LA ART SHOW 2019

CHINESE ARTISTS AT MICHAEL GOEDHUIS

I was delighted to meet Michael Goedhuis himself and his assistant from London. They were, of course, charming people. The pamphlet provided by the gallery, “Chinese Contemporary Ink Art: Why Buy Now?” is an exemplary piece of cogent marketing, and makes most of the arguments I would make in favor of purchasing calligraphic work in general and from this gallery specifically.

And so, there is little left for me to say. A critic should not simply parrot the gallery; she should add something of her own, she should not pass on inferior ideas unworthy of the art they are linked to or regurgitate specious but stylized and prolix arguments that only serve to foist off an inferior product with fireworks and trendy mental gymnastics.

But there is an exception to every rule, and this is it. Mr. Goedhuis a rare man who is as good at writing about art as he is at curating, displaying, and selling it. Just read this pamphlet.

https://www.michaelgoedhuis.com/media/GoedhuisMedia/publications/publicationsDocuments/20151022143250_8whybuynow.pdf

Goedhuis makes a clear and compelling argument in favor of buying work by a handful of contemporary Chinese calligraphic artists. These arguments include the direction of the market, the annihilation of traditional Chinese architecture, the rise of China’s investor class, and culturally-specific value that is hidden only because of the distractibility and attraction to bright shiny objects that afflicts certain minds in the West.

Many people are frightened to buy art, because they don’t want to be taken advantage of or look like a fool or risk being seen as having bad taste. (Those who have truly awful taste are immune to this fear.) Art is expensive, art is personal, and there is a strange code that says we should tell inexperienced people that art is never to be purchased as an investment. But if you give no thought to the trajectory of the art’s value before you purchase it, you are failing to benefit from the mind-enhancing powers of art; just as Goedhuis asks the reader to  “… understand that art for the Chinese is part and parcel of their concept of morality and how to live one’s life and how to order society” I would further add, and ask, the buyer to understand that buying art is a cognitive development tool which requires deep thinking (get your mental workouts in) about the direction of human society. It is like placing your paper boat on a current.

–Moira Cue

An internationally recognized multi-media artist, Moira Cue attended the Master’s Program of the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.  A prolific artist, she resides in Los Angeles, with works in collections world-wide.

This content is (c). 2019, Moira Cue Multimedia, Hollywood Sentinel, all world rights reserved.