Plastic Ocean, installation by Tan Zi Xi

Image by Filmbetrachter from Pixabay

José Angel Araguz at TheFridayInfluence.com has posted yesterday a brief notice that included a reference to Singapore-born, London-trained artist Tan Zi Xi, creator of the installation Plastic Ocean. Made of over 20,000 pieces of plastic refuse, Plastic Ocean was exhibited at the Singapore Art Museum in 2016. Here’s more about it, along with five impactful images, in an interview with the artist on oceanic.global.

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Discovering texture

Some wonderful ways to add texture to paintings

Laura Hunt, Artist

Helping people deepen their experience of art is something I enjoy; exploring the various elements of art is one way to do that. Here’s an introductory excerpt from my most recent post.

To set the stage, here are the seven elements required to create art: line, shape, form, value, space, color, and texture. Some artists use all of them in a given work, some may only use two or three, but each artist has her own way of employing the elements and choosing what expresses her intent. The elements required to create art are line, shape, form, value, space, color, and texture.

Last time I wrote about line, an element that makes frequent appearances in my paintings. This time I’ll select another one off the shelf –texture.

The element of texture doesn’t require much explanation. You know when a tactile quality catches your eye, begging to be touched. Running…

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Spiritual Bucharest and Crazy Bucharest

I went to visit several artist workshops last weekend, as this month over 70 artists In Bucharest and Mogosoaia are opening their premises to visitors on weekends on the occasion of the George Enescu Classical Music Festival.

One of the artists I visited was graphic artist Carmen Paraschivescu. Her workshop is filled with intricate designs in mixed media, the ornamental tracery pinning down vivid, effusive inspiration. Here are two works she did for an art salon on Bucharest. They are titled Spiritual Bucharest and Crazy Bucharest.

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Spiritual Bucharest
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Spiritual Bucharest
Spiritual Bucharest (detail)
Spiritual Bucharest (detail)
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Crazy Bucharest

And here are two other works of hers.

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Carmen Paraschivescu will open her workshop next weekend too, so if you’d like to have a look at these pieces, she’ll be happy to receive you for a chat and a glass of wine at Str. Doamnei nr. 5 (the tower on the corner of Academiei and Doamnei streets) between 12 noon and 8 p.m.

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The Joys of Playing with Scrambled Dough

Ploytip Asawarachan, owner of Scrambled Art studio in Bangkok, Thailand, devotes her creative energies to helping young children (as young as two years old) fine-tune their motor skills and explore their imaginations. She and her staff mix batches of their own play dough (called Scrambled Dough), adjusting the recipes to the age of the children.

I asked Ploy to tell me more about her work at the studio. Here’s what she said.

MT: What are the things kids would like to create when they set their hands on Scrambled Dough?

PA: This definitely depends on their age, but we currently use Scrambled Dough with kids between 2 and 3.5 years old, which, in my opinion, is more interesting. Kids at this age still cannot identify or sometimes distinguish shapes and colors—so I do not expect them to make shapes with Scrambled Dough. What I expect (and what they like to do) is to smash, poke, pull, and squeeze the dough. My job is to create fun life-simulation activities that support those actions and make them stronger to develop fine-motor skills.

We like to play with farm animals by pretending the dough is a ranch, and to build fences by using real branches or sometimes straws. After that we make up a story about each animal and tell the story to the rest of the class. Kids at this age want to use everything that’s on the table.

The human brain can be manipulated by colors that are associated with different emotions and desires. For instance, McDonald’s uses the colors yellow and red. That is because yellow represents hunger, and red is the color of speed and excitement. These colors manipulate the human brain and change our perception of the situation we are in. Scrambled Dough actually uses the same concept. I create Scrambled Dough with natural coloring, avoiding bright colors, and that gives the children a calm feeling. I also avoid hard textures. In this way, toddlers can be less distracted and calm.

For more excitement and to appeal more to the imagination, I have created the Marble collection for the children to see the colors blending together while they play.

MT: What are some of the things the children say about being able to work/play with Scrambled Dough?

Most of them do not really ask about the dough—what it’s made of, or how to play with it. They actually get into the action and use all the tools that I provide. Their past experience might affect the willingness to play with the dough. For example, a bad experience during their play time at the beach might make them not want to play with the dough.

MT: Do kids interact with each other as they work on their projects? Do they tell each other things? Do they help each other out with their projects?

Yes. They are more likely to play with each other and to help each other to put different parts together.

(Photos courtesy of Ploytip Asawarachan)

I found Ploy’s story inspiring, so I asked her to tell me a little about her background.

PA: As a child, I liked to draw all the time. My inspiration was my father. He always drew something on paper while I was doing my homework. His pencil left marks on the page underneath, and I traced them with my pencil. It was always a butterfly.

I grew up in a small town (population about eight thousand) called Ayutthaya in Thailand. Ayutthaya used to be the capital of Thailand before it changed to Bangkok. My life was not very exciting back then, but I could say it has changed when I decided to be an exchange student in Maine, USA in 2006. From a small-town girl who could not speak English, I was now traveling alone to a country I’d never been in. I adapted very well and explored so much! Then in 2008 I moved to Nottingham, UK as an exchange student again. It seems like I adapt myself very well and it becomes my strength. I get along and make new friends, and I relish the new culture and the new environment around me. Finally, my degree took place in Sydney, Australia, a country so diverse in terms of culture and art.

All my life I’ve been busy making art and crafting things. When I was young, I was very into landscape and fine art, especially Georgia O’Keeffe’s work, but when I grew older I got a lot into improvisation with different materials from daily life, including many from nature.

MT: Thank you, Ploy, and good luck with your studio and your other projects!

Here’s Ploy’s blog.

Old Age: Suffering Takes Over

As part of the White Night of the Galleries (September 30), the alternative gallery space at Dr. Iacob Felix no. 72A hosted an installation called Road, about the road of life.

The piece that intrigued me the most, despite its simple concept, showed a family photo and a number of medicine package inserts, blisters of pills and prescriptions pinned to an old light brown overcoat. The garment was hanged from the ceiling and a side wall, and underneath it was a pile of medicine packets, pill bottles, and blister packs. The label read Bătrânețea (Old Age), by Rene Răileanu.

Underneath the coat, medicine package inserts and related paraphernalia
The stuff that pushes us up where we fall/fail
Flying high

The piece, with the medicine signifiers replacing the body of the person, made me think how in our old age we’re shaped by suffering and how the fact that we’re still standing under that coat is due to the many medicines we take, medicines which help numb that suffering but which, in many ways, take over our identity as we become more and more concerned with our health, talk often about our ailments, and are perceived through the lens of our illnesses by others. And then there the family portrait at the top—what most of us hold most dear in our waning years.

Rene Răileanu is mostly a figurative painter. If you want to see some more of his work, here’s his website.

Vlad Basarab, Earth People, at Amzei Market Makers

Walking about Amzei Square yesterday evening, I stopped at Amzei Market Makers to see their current exhibition (curated by Beti Vervega and Mădălina Mirea). One of the artists included in the show was Vlad Basarab (b. 1977, Bucharest), a graduate of the Ceramics section of the University of Alaska Anchorage, as well as of two MFA programs in the U.S., currently a PhD student in visual arts at the National University of the Arts in Bucharest.

Vlad Basarab is mostly known for the clay books in his Archaeology of Memory series. You can see a photo on ArtOut, accompanying Mădălina Panduru’s interview with the artist, and a video on YouTube, showing in 4 minutes and 31 seconds the way one of these books dissolves under the week-long attritive action of water. In the interview, Vlad Basarab explains that he has left the pages blank in order to allude to oblivion and absence, and to stimulate the viewer to imagine what might have been in those books. Along the same lines, the disintegration of the book suggests the loss of collective memory. For more info in English on Vlad Basarab, see this page from the online art portal Modernism.

I didn’t get to see his books yesterday, but the works he did contribute to the show were rather strong, too. They were called Oameni Pământ nr. 1 (Earth People no. 1) and Oameni Pământ nr. 2 (Earth People no. 2), and played with his favorite media, the elementary materials of earth, water, and fire. I thought they were quite inspired. Here they are.

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Earth People No. 1

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Earth People No. 2