Impressions from this year’s art Biennale. May you live in interesting times, they say!
Looking back on 2017 I am very pleased with these two books: ‘Of This World: 48 Haibun’ (Red Moon Press, 2017), and ‘Ekphrasis: Between Image and Word’ in collaboration with Maria Pierides (Fruit Dove Press, 2017).
If you have liked any of the books please think of adding a review or a few stars on Amazon.
If you haven’t read them and you’d like to purchase a copy, please contact me via the contact form here, or Fruit Dove Press for ‘Ekphrasis’.
For copies ‘Of This World’: Amazon UK
USA: Red Moon Press
Great news! Ekphrasis: Between Image and Word, the book accompanying the eponymous forthcoming exhibition at King Street Gallery, Carmarthen, Wales, is now ready, hot off the press, and available to order!
Fruit Dove Press says:
Ekphrasis: Between Image and Word presents 24 new paintings by Maria Pierides – and a response to each of these paintings in haiku, the shortest of poetic forms, by Stella Pierides.
From the back cover:
Stay awhile, travel the paintings, hear the echoes in between, and tell your own story too.
Alan Summers President, United Haiku and Tanka Society, co-founder, Call of the Page
I highly recommend this book. Take time to look carefully at the paintings whilst letting the words float in your consciousness.
Robert Lamoon, Visual Storyteller and Curator
From Welsh Country Magazine:
Maria Pierides’ work is inspired by her surrounding landscape, cultural identity, history, myth, time – and poetry. Maria’s visual abstractions are the outcome of conversations with the artist’s being in a particular place at a given time, shortcuts of her lived experience in colour, in texture, in paint. The collaboration with Stella Pierides, who responds to the paintings with haiku, adds layers of meaning that expand in ever widening circles and offer new and unexpected inroads to the paintings. Between image and word; between substance, imagination, and reflection; and between the past and the present, a world resonates, inviting us to engage with the whole of our being.
Printed on 30 pages of pearl photo paper
For copies please email email@example.com
or fill out the Contact form on the Fruit Dove Press website: https://fruitdovepress.com/
UK: £18.00, incl. P&P
Europe: €20.00, incl. P&P
USA: $24.00, inl. P&P
Fruit Dove Press http://www.fruitdovepress.com
Over the past few months, I have been collaborating with artist and painter Maria Pierides on an ekphrastic project. The result is Ekphrasis, the forthcoming exhibition at King Street Gallery, featuring 24 of Maria’s marvellous paintings together with my haiku responses to each of her paintings. A book of the exhibition will be available at the show.
M Pierides & S Pierides exhibition of paintings & poetry
A new exhibition which opens on 27th October in the Chate Room, King Street Gallery, showcases a dynamic new collaboration between painter Maria Pierides and poet Stella Pierides.
Delighted! So much looking forward to it! I copy below the full notice:
“Ekphrasis: Between image and word” presents new paintings by Maria Pierides – and a response to each of those paintings by Stella Pierides with haiku, the shortest of poetic forms. Maria Pierides’work is inspired by her surrounding landscape, cultural identity, history, myth, time – and poetry. Maria’s visual abstractions are the outcome of conversations with the artist’s being in a particular place at a given time, shortcuts of her lived experience in colour, in texture, in paint. The collaboration with Stella Pierides, who responds to the paintings with haiku, adds layers of meaning that expand in ever widening circles and offer new and unexpected inroads to the paintings. Between image and word; between substance, imagination, and reflection; and between the past and the present, a world resonates, inviting us to engage with the whole of our being. To coincide with her solo show at King Street Gallery, Maria is working on a book featuring a selection of paintings with the haiku written in response to them. King Street Gallery artist Matt Pearce said:
“Despite having been showing at KSG for less than a year, Maria’s work already has an extraordinary following at the Gallery because of its unique emotional impact.
We are very excited about Maria’s forthcoming exhibition which adds to her paintings a response – in poetry – by Stella Pierides,
which will inspire a new dialogue around the paintings.”
A private view takes place at King Street Gallery on Friday, the 27th of October from 5:30 to 7:30 pm. Maria and I would be pleased to see you there. The exhibition runs until 16th Nov.
For more information about King Street Gallery please visit: http://www.kingstreetgallery.co.uk
Inequality and Memory
The day before Anselm Kiefer was born, the house next door to his parents’ was completely destroyed. Only a sewing machine had remained intact. This event is linked, in several articles I came across, to his painter’s vision, his choice of subject, painting technique, and use of materials.
It is as if he still breathes the dust he breathed in as a newborn; still lives among the rubble he creates in his painting/sculptures; still looks for the diverse, as if bomb-strewn, materials for the surfaces of his constructions. There is a correspondence, an analogy, an equivalence between his original circumstances and his continued practice and vision in his work. A way of reconstructing memory, making it tangible; of keeping alive an event by reproducing its aftermath, expanding it in time. The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones would agree to this, as in his preview of the Royal Academy exhibition, he describes Kiefer’s show as
“an astonishing look at the awful burden of history”.
From the moment in time to expanding time, Kiefer’s objects do not stop this process of ‘remembering’ even when ‘finished’: the clay he uses shrinks, crumbles, and drops off; dried bits of material disintegrate, fall down, and become litter on the gallery floor to be returned to him. Even when the works don’t disintegrate, Kiefer ‘damages’ them deliberately, as if the state of being damaged, used, wounded, is the reality of painting. Here is where Kader Attia’s concern with re-appropriation of materials comes alive. Making/finding the rubble and turning it into a work of art, then turning this/letting this grow into rubble again, only to use the bits that come off in new work. Like the particles of the cosmos, on a microscopic level, Kiefer’s materials, and creations, belong together, morph, develop, die, and are reborn to a new form.
If this sounds benign, it is because Kiefer’s work reminds us to see it this way; it is a meditation on the ongoing, day to day processes of growth, decay, and regeneration. War, though, a main concern for Kiefer, and our time, is one of the most urgent and sudden, both violently disruptive and accelerative processes there are. When we linger in front of, or indeed around, a Kiefer piece, the terror and horror of the destruction of war; the awe of the immensity of scale come to mind: the holocaust (for Kiefer, perhaps the most personal reference); Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Congo, Gaza, Syria, Hiroshima… The beauty of the arrangements, of the depictions, and the terror of the depicted resonate with Rilke’s terrible angel which seems to be haunting Kiefer’s work.
So, inequality found in the polarities and the equivalences: Heaven and Earth; the moment and eternity; life and death; beauty and terror; growth and decay; memory and catastrophe. Claudia Pritchard, in The Independent, noting polarities in Kiefer’s work, quotes the claim of his being, arguably, ‘our greatest living artist’. Kiefer’s handling of the topic of memory as tangible and ever present will most probably ensure the continuing truth of this statement. Like the sunflower symbol he uses in his work, a head full of blackened seeds and beauty, Kiefer’s work contains the seeds of its own perpetuation. Pritchard quotes the exhibition curator, Kathleen Soriano,
“What I want people to take away from this show is not only the knowledge that he is a great painter, but also that he has great relevance.” Indeed Kiefer, she adds, is looking, like all of us, with great anxiety at today’s turbulent world. “He says you have to remember that history is cyclical.”
Recently, I revisited some of Anselm Kiefer’s work at the “Art Museum Walter” at the “Glass Palace”, an industrial monument in Augsburg: Eleven ‘paintings’ and two sculptures on show. While they are not new — forty per cent of the Royal Academy work is said to have been created for the show — the Walter collection displays excellent work firmly rooted in time and memory, while remaining open to possibilities of interpretation (the photos included here are from the Art Museum Walter) .
A privately and expertly run gallery, Kunstmuseum Walter, is housed in the Glass Palace — a monument to the past of the textile industry — which aims to show history being alive in the present,
“[involving] a continual confrontation with the present. The concept of a living museum is an essential part of the TIM [Textile Industry Museum] programme. In the textile machine section, former textile workers demonstrate the machines with an authenticity not to be found elsewhere.”
Here too is an equivalence: the metaphor of the sewing machine from Anselm Kiefer’s past finds an echo in Germany’s textile industry surviving destruction. Interesting to note that, in this context, some have referred to Augsburg as the ‘Manchester of Germany’, echoing the transition from a crafts-/guild-based industry to one of machine-based mass production, including the exploitation, poverty, and social upheaval this involved. In this juxtaposition, Kiefer’s work, in bringing together the themes of inequality and memory, continues to weave anew the fabric of history.
If you are not in Augsburg, or London, you need not worry. In Kent, there is an exhibition to console your artistic longings: my daughter Maria Pierides’ solo show at Creek Creative Studios in Faversham. 23 — 28 September 2014. Rush there, the Studios are open only till 4 pm on Sunday the 28th!
This post is part of a series of articles on the theme of Inequality, written for Blog Action Day 2014:
*Photos: Stella Pierides, Kunstmuseum Walter
For the first time since his death in 1935, Malevich’s work is featured at the Tate Modern. Fresh, moving, as well as full of movement, confident, it is a work that touches the viewer, questions and carries her away with confidence. It did me! I liked the tagline: The man who liberated painting.
I know the abstract expressionists in particular are said to have done this, but here is a whole new storyline. This exhibition shows the history of a free spirit, in art anyway, seeking the path to a new art: art freed from the obligation to equal reality, allowing colour and form to interact freely. Unlike Kandinsky, who made them sing in elaborate combinations, Malevich painted geometrical shapes in floating, superimposed, juxtaposed relationships; above all, squares and circles of pure colour.
Out of habit, I note that Malevich was the first of fourteen children, only nine of whom survived; that his family were refugees from Poland, fleeing events at home; that poverty and having to move often, were part of his personal history. All this may well have had an impact on his search for an alternative world and a different way of seeing things. In a post about inequality, these personal details become signposts, showing some of the routes unequal paths may take.
Experiencing the world from this perspective may be, partly at least, behind works, such as those shown here:
“paintings that do not picture the world, yet speak of (and extend) its infinite variety with a visual language all of their own. It is an art of utter originality.”
Malevich’s initial enthusiastic support of the Leninist revolutionaries could also have been fired by this wish to create a new world. He freely gifted his new art of Suprematism to the revolutionary regime, that, seeking to overcome the chasm between rococo Tsarist Russia and the revolution of the people, sought new ways of seeing, of expression, of being.
Jonathan Keats, writing in Forbes, says that when the Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein visited Vitebsk in 1920, he was surprised to find
“buildings were painted white and brashly embellished with bright orange squares, blue rectangles, and green circles. The artist behind this carnival of color was none other than Kazimir Malevich – founder of Suprematism – who was teaching at the local art school … bringing art to the people.”
Here was reality being defined and changed by art. Here was an artist’s l(eye)ns, lens, producing its way of seeing the world. The Forbes contributor points out the similarity with Banksy, and his creations on the walls of San Francisco’s Mission District; and of course, there is the graffiti at London’s South Bank.
Not only exteriors, but interiors too were being defined by the new world. Malevich’s symbols were painted on china and crockery; when materials and resources were scarce, the old china of Tsarist times were recycled: the new motifs of triangles and squares being painted on top. The experience of inequality in Tsarist Russia led millions of people to seek a new world of symbols, untainted by the past.
But there was disillusionment too. The Stalinist regime following Lenin’s, forbade the creation of abstract art, and even imprisoned Malevich. There was a time of not painting. Then a new Malevich emerged, a new way of doing things. In his new work, without the abstraction that was forbidden, representational painting appeared. In it, Laura Cumming notes,
“There are poignant souvenirs of Malevich’s radical past if you look – the future, as it might have been, in the blacksmith’s vibrant uniform, in the wild clothes he gives the Russian workers, in the triangles jigsawed together in his 1933 self-portrait. But this self-portrait is otherwise so like the one that opens this show, painted more than 20 years earlier, as to measure the loss. All that remains of this brief, brave adventure is the secret motif in place of a signature – a tiny black square.”
Actually, I liked Malevich’s new ways. The first time round, in his developing Suprematism, freedom fizzed out of his painting. This time, restrained, yes, by the prohibitive regime, by time, by other factors too. But it seems to me, on this visit, that these restraints added a new dimension to his work. The portraits I saw at the Tate exhibition’s last room, were not limited by, but smouldered with restraint and pathos; there was much condensed emotion, history, reference, symbolism to fully engage. Would Malevich have created these works without the benefit of his later years? Without his experiences, good and bad, at the center of changing times?
Without wanting to simply attribute the spurt of creativity and genius to inequality and misfortune — far from it — I would not wish to ignore their existence and possible role in Malevich’s later work either. In any case, I think he made it new, for a second time.
This post is part of a series of articles on the theme of Inequality, written for Blog Action Day 2014:
Recently I visited the Frank Auerbach display of 15 paintings and 29 drawings at the Tate Britain, selected by his fellow painter and friend, Lucian Freud. The collection was offered by the Lucian Freud estate, and accepted by the British Government, in lieu of inheritance tax.
The group of paintings is of international artistic importance and a good ’teaser,’ anticipating a major Tate retrospective planned for 2015.
A fine group of works, including one of my favorites, Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square, 1962.
What a fantastic, bold show of both, imagination and brushwork, deep feeling and insightful depiction of psychologically layered scenes. The same subjects — Julia, his wife; Estella, his mistress; Jake, his son; Mornington Crescent — visited again and again, let the viewer get intimately acquainted with, as well as intrigued by them. Born in 1931 in Berlin, Auerbach came to England in 1939 and has lived and painted in London since. A London painter, and a painter of London, Auerbach has gone under the skin of the capital, making it the prime set of his work. If not Auerbach, then who else captures the energy and multifarious burdens carried by London’s inhabitants so realistically?
In an interview by Hannah Rothschild, Auerbach, from what has been his tiny home and studio since 1954, opens up about his work and life. Surprisingly, a sparse and spare studio and frugal life are juxtaposed to and contrasted with his many-layered, rich encrustations of paint in his work. The charcoal paintings are also ‘rich’ in depth and insight that feels both, inquiring and haunting. I left the room intrigued by his work, troubled, and at the same time, strangely satisfied by his profound achievement. Reading Rothschild’s interview later, I found this which rang true:
“So why does Auerbach paint the same face, the same view over and over again? Wouldn’t it be interesting to try a new landscape or a different nose? Auerbach shakes his head. ‘The closer one is to something, the more likely it is to be beautiful,’ he says. ‘The whole business of painting is very much to do with forgetting oneself and being able to act instinctively. I find myself simply more engaged when I know the people. They get older and change; there is something touching about that, about recording something that’s getting on.’ Amid the frenzy of paint and energy it can be hard to spot the person in an Auerbach portrait. ‘Likeness is a very complicated business indeed,’ he says. ‘If something looks like a painting it does not look like an experience; if something looks like a portrait it doesn’t really look like a person’.”
Well, here’s food for thought.
peas in a pod —
thick brushwork layers
The interview can be found here
the hush in the visiting
NaHaiWriMo prompt: Art
When reading haiku, what is it that attracts you as a reader? What makes you click with one poem and leaves you indifferent towards another? Which qualities speak to you?
Might one draw a parallel between ‘picking’ haiku and beachcombing? Let’s take as an example Henry Moore, the English sculptor (1898-1986). Moore, famous for his monumental semi-abstract sculptures dotted in the landscape all around the world, was inspired by nature. During his walks, he collected stones, shells, driftwood, animal bones, rocks, that he brought back to his studio and kept for inspiration. Some of these ‘found’ objects were singled out as art objects by his artist’s eye, and transformed into works of art. Others became favorite objects to go back to with new questions, kept for inspiration. Like a super-spectator, super-audience or super-reader, he saw the value(s) residing in the shapes, form of sticks, rocks, and stones, picked them up and brought them in from the cold world into his art studio.
In a sense, as writers, we have something in common with Moore and his walks. Through the day, we gather experiences, pick up some in words, discard or ignore others. As readers too, we collect from our walks round the social medialand, from our reading journals and books, from our discussing topics, poetic thoughts or experiences, from the walks in nature and through the cityscapes surrounding us.
From another perspective, appreciating haiku as a crafted, rather than a natural, object may be more akin to appreciating paintings or sculptures on a gallery visit. Works of art hang on gallery walls, are placed in gallery rooms – like haiku sit on the pages of journals and books – for us to observe and mull over; we stand in front of them, around them for a short while, then move on and walk through the rooms – pages – quickly, too quickly often.
Henry Moore’s huge sculptures standing tall or reclining in the landscape demand our attention; whether we see perfection in them or the unruly shapes of our innermost selves, something in them appeals to us as viewers. And while we cannot pick them up physically, they come home with us. So it is with haiku, I believe. Which one speaks to us, creates a reaction in us, which one we pick to remember, to give it a home in our hearts, depends on many factors.
Something in it, in its shape, depth, sensory and sensual appeal resonates with us. There is a personal, familial, local, national, global, colonial, post-colonial, feminist, literary, yet to be named perspective(s) each of us carries, treasures, contributes to and responds with to the world. Often more than one. Hopefully more than one. Naturally, we all differ in our perspectives, ideologies, in our poems, in our choices of haiku.
But there are common, global elements too; essences, values, basics we share as humans that hold together a haiku and bring it to our reader’s eyes fresh from beyond culture, history, limiting perspectives and allegiances. And with our global, in addition to our local, receptors – much like the single neurons and neuronal assemblies we all harbor in the perceptual parts of our brains, each tuned to picking single elements or whole configurations – we are able to pick and enjoy those poems too. Jim Kacian, in his essay “Tapping the Common Well” in Bones: journal for contemporary haiku, while considering what it is about the haiku poem’s universality, points out this extra or underlying dimension:
“It is universal, because what it seeks is not the relative truths of nationalities or religions, but the universal truths between people: that which can be shared, recognized, valued around the world. This does not mean rain and sun mean the same thing to all people: certainly desert-dwellers have very different emotions about such things than those who live in a rain forest… There are always points of view. But haiku express values beyond these regional and economic differences, revealing the truth of things as they are, which is more at the core of how we feel most deeply as people. Haiku finds that which is not superfluous in the hearts of men, and expresses the values found there, as deep as that may go.”
And so in our lives as readers, as well as writers, armed or rather blessed with a variety of sensory and psychological receptors – some uniquely personal, others shared by the whole species – we pick poems that offer us the chance to recognize, come to terms with, or celebrate one moment from the river of our experience, one splinter from the tree of our lives; to reconnect with our humanity and to nourish our being.
So which haiku ‘receptors’ do you use? How do you like your haiku? Let us know here. It would be good to hear your take on this.
Kacian, Jim: Tapping the Common Well, in Bones: journal for contemporary haiku, Issue 1, December 15, 2012.
This essay was first posted here
I was delighted to be invited by Colin Steward Jones to guest-blog for the Scotland based Gean Tree Press. Since its inception, its blog, Haiku Matters! has been a hotbed of intellectual storm, liberal thinking, and wisdom… all about haiku.
I posted my first, introductory guest blog post on Haiku Matters! today! More to come soon, as I’ll be blogging for the whole month of May. On the menu: a walk or two, a bit of reading, playing with a couple of wild and not so wild ideas, reaching out to and from other genres, while touching on issues relating to the reader all along. Our reader, ourselves as readers, other poets’ readers.
If you have the time, do visit, take a look, and share your own point of view…
(Picture: Creative Commons)
I visited Ai Weiwei’s sculptural installation Sunflower Seeds at Tate Modern just after they stopped the public walking through the field of seeds at the Turbine Hall. Like many others, I found myself feeling disappointed. The seeds looked beyond my reach (I had looked forward to walking on them, listening to their crunching sound), and pale compared to those in the pictures I had seen. A message in front of the installation explained that Tate had been advised that interaction with the installation (such as visitors walking on the seeds) could cause dust to be emitted which could be dangerous to health.
I stood in front of the pale mass of more than one hundred million seeds on the floor feeling lost, thinking that had they glazed the seeds, I would now be walking on them! At the same time, knowing something about clay, I could understand the concern. So there I was, standing perplexed and disapointed, being faced with a case of dust to dust, or rather, dust, clay, ceramic seed, dust, with a short interval in between.
Then my eye caught the video screens right next to the seeds, and my whole experience took another turn! A fab-fun-fantastic video tracing the creation of the seeds – from the mixing of the clay to the forming of the seeds, the painting and firing and selecting the best seeds – the stories of the craftspeople in it were engaging and the colors, the scenes both breathtaking and remarkably informative.
I loved the idea of the amount of co-operative work that went into producing the installation. A whole community – more than 1600 people of Jingdezhen, a Chinese city with 1700-year-old history of porcelain manufacturing: it is known as the Porcelain capital – was involved in creating something together (the porcelain seeds), something that gave them employment, as well as purpose and community spirit. If the sunflower seeds symbolize the people of China, as suggested, then these symbols have been lovingly created and treated with respect.
Standing there, in front of the video images, next to the seeds and the playing of the visitors’ videos, it occurred to me that the Tate installation consisted of the seeds and the video together. That they were inseparable. No, more than that. That the seeds, the video, the dust, the message about the danger from clay dust (after all, which potter/ceramic artist has not heard of this hazard?), even the interactive videos made by visitors to the Gallery addressing the artist Ai Weiwei, all were part of the same installation! After all, Ai Weiwei is an interactive performance artist, merging life and art. I still believe that this is the case. Even if unintended, unconscious, a chance happening, I think even retrospectively, the lot belongs together.
In an article “From Seeds to Dust” Ulara Nakagawa alluded to the dust possibly belonging to the installation. I consider the Seeds installation as offering the possibility of a total/comprehensive/whole art work, where the art object consists of multiple layers: tangible visible object(s), sound, video, text, interaction with the artist, and an ongoing archiving of the viewers’ experience and thinking in their communication with the artist. After all, the Tate tells us: “…what you see is not what you see, and what you see is not what it means.” Well done, Ai Weiwei!