Monday, November 12, 2007

The beautiful Brett Whiteley

Brett Whiteley was born in Sydney in 1939 and died in 1992 of a heroin overdose. There something about the fact that he's relatively unknown outside the art world, that he was found dead in a motel room and that i can tell from his strokes that this was a pure, innocent, highly sensitive and beautiful person, that makes me love him. I can't resist wanting to see each and every one of his beautiful works, reminiscent too many times of styles that recently became too trendy in an annoying way. But they have nothing to do with these half-talented opportunists of the design world - his works pay hommage to the history of art and design by reminding (or inspiring) some great and loved ones: Henry Matisse, David Hockney, Javier Mariscal, Loustal, Ralph Steadman - even the drawings of the late Alan Fletcher. I now learn from the web that there was a documentary on him that was screened on ABC in 1989, and that his studio in Sydney is now a museum. Did he ever think all this would happen? I can just tell from his drawings that this was a guy that only drew because he loved it and because his mind and heart were ever-burning with passion, pictures and sensations. He had a huge T-shirt collection: i think that tells a lot about him. Brett Whiteley, you are wonderful. Wherever you are, you surely still draw those magical things.

Penguins in Vouliagmeni

Saturday 10th November, Vouliagmeni Bay, Athens. About 20 people out. Who would have thought that 5 or 10 years ago? All clad in black wetsuits, looking like penguins, riding cool boards. Half of them actually knowing how to do it. A couple of them amazing. A curious crack in the clouds and the beautiful afternoon light making them look like unspecified creatures longing for deliverance from above.

Le geant fran├žais

Love these "Make your mix" ads for French N9UF Music Radio.
They're done by Parisian advertising powerhouse Agence V. Just by looking at their premises in their website, you feel intimidated. Sometimes I wonder, is it because they want to impress the big clients, or because they trully love working in such too-impressive-in-their-own-right places? Not sure - but these ads are beautiful.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Beachcombing and chance

Looking for stray objects washed up by the swell on an abandonned seashore at dusk can be a magical ritual. You're probably hungry, after a whole day at the beach; the sun has set and the sea is getting darker, the waves are getting bigger, gulls are screaming and you're wondering if a huge strange fish stranded on the sand is something you should take with you in your plastic bag or not. Some invisible force makes you want to look everywhere, and for more: find more love letters forgotten under the sand, more nautical maps stuck under a piece of wood or more debris from cargo boats with amazing typography on them.

I started doing this on Kolybithra bay on the island of Tinos. I expanded my activities on more islands and beaches and collected about a thousand of them in a period of five years and an amazing photographer, Yiannis Hadjiaslanis photographed them on a white studio backdrop. Then we paired them in funny or just nice ways and now a little book is out - called "flotsam & jetsam". Three hundred of these objects parade the book's spreads and, disintegrated as they are by the sea and the sun, they look like "artefacts from a distant alien civilisation" as a friend artist, Zachos Varfis, told me. There's also some great texts in it - the Ian Jeffrey one is a typical academic tour-de-force. I love this book and this project, and i wonder now, now that the project is done, will I ever look again for more of these objects? Or will they forever remain unwanted garbage on the dunes of Kolybithra?