Modern Art

Modern Art – An Overview

Modern art is broadly defined to be art works that were produced from the 1860s right up to the 1970s. The term “modern” is specifically used as the works of this period is a breakaway from the more ancient and traditional forms of art and ushered in a period of experimentation. Modern artists brought a fresh perspective to the art world by embedding new and bright ideas not only in the style of art but also in the methods and materials used in their works.

Abstraction is a characteristic of modern art where conventional and intricate details are replaced by interpretation and outlook of the artist’s thought processes in a broad and theoretical or conceptual manner. Comparatively recent works of art are also called postmodern or contemporary art.

A parallel to modern art can be drawn with furniture too and will help explain things better. Modern furniture timber in Melbourne or anywhere else for that matter has evolved over time as in art. Today’s design and styles are a far cry from the antique styles of heavy furniture still found in royal castles and establishments. Modern furniture is sleek with fine lines as distinct from the more traditional furniture of yesteryears. Similarly, modern art is a sea change over what is known as ancient or traditional art.

Modern art can be broadly categorised into three time periods.

Origins in the 19th century
Modern paintings are commonly identified to have emerged from 1863 when Edouard Manet exhibited his painting Le déjeuner sur l’herbe in the Salon des Refusés in Paris. This is just a conjecture and art historians have not been able to put a finger on the actual year of emergence of modern art. Some even go back to 1784 and say that the beginning of modern art was with the completion of Jacques-Louis David painting The Oath of the Horatii.

Early 20th century
The movements that came to be characterised as modern art in the early 20th century included Cubism, Fauvism, Expressionism and Futurism. Between 1910 and the end of World War I, all these movements emerged in Paris which soon became the hotbed of modern art. Pablo Picasso, Guillaume Apollinaire, Pierre Laprade and Alberto Savinio were the artists during this period who took the concept of modern art further.

Post World War II
After World War II, the focus shifted from Paris to the USA. This was the period that saw various art movements emerging such as Abstract Expressionism, Color field painting, Pop art, Hard-edge painting, Minimal art, Lyrical Abstraction, Happening, Video art, Post-minimalism and Photorealism. In the late 1960s and the 1970s, other forms of art like Land art, Conceptual art and Performance art took centre stage.

This essay is just an overview of modern art in a nutshell and there are lots more to it than this only.

Professional Painting

Beginners Guide to Professional Painting

If you want to take up painting as a profession and are really serious about it, you have to start with the basic techniques and then move on to the more complicated styles. To begin with, you can try out online tutorials that offer step-by-step guide by well known artists. There are a whole lot of things that you have to slowly master and these include priming, staining, basic of brushwork and even methods of correcting your finished piece.

In the beginning, learning to paint can seem very intimidating but you will feel at ease once you learn the preliminary techniques. Here are a few guidelines on painting that both freshers and the not-so-professionals can benefit from it. However, it is also a matter of talent for art and you should have it even it is in small proportions. Learning painting is not as cut and dried as knowing tree trimming cost or the latest football scores from the Internet.

Here is a guide to professional painting that will help you create one that is vibrant in colour and tone.

Priming the canvas or paper

The first step to prepare the medium on which you will paint regardless of whether it is paper or canvas is to apply a coat of primer on the surface. It is natural for the top layer to absorb the first coat of paint and hence applying primer creates a barrier between the paint and the surface. Paper can be used for both acrylic and oils but should always be primed first.

Building up the paint

Building up an acrylic or oil painting depends on individual tastes and likings and this is what sets the style of one artist apart from another. Some well knew artists prefer to first cover the surface with a very thin under layer of paint that dries very quickly before proceeding to build on it. Once the first coat dries, the main blocks of paint that contributes to the tone and texture are slowly added on. Learn how to build texture into your paintings and then develop a trademark style of your own.

Knowing the intricacies of brushwork

Excellent brushwork is very helpful for blending in texture to your painting and adding in minute details. The extent of brushwork that needs to be used depends on you the artist. You might use the same brushwork techniques in both acrylic and oil or you might develop acrylic that has a more flat colour tinge differently to oil. The trend of putting in small and minuscule details in paintings through brushwork originated in the times of Rembrandt and Titian while the art work of earlier artists had smoother surfaces and more subtle blends.

Mixing the paint on the surface

Pastel colours unlike paints cannot be first pre-mixed on a palette before being applied to paper. Instead, the colours are mixed on the surface itself so you do not have any room for error. You can practise this technique after you have become well conversant with priming and building up paint. Learn how to gradually build up overlays of colour that will ultimately determine the tonal key for your artwork. You should focus on paint pieces that are vibrant, vivid and dynamic in colour.

There are some things that cannot be rectified once done. For example ask arborists at Daryl’s Tree Care & Surgery in this regard and they will tell you that tree care services once gone through cannot be changed or modified. Thankfully for artworks this is not the case. Hence if you find in the middle of your work that this is not what you wanted or the colours do not harmonise with one another, you can set things right. This is a critical lesson for you if you want to go on to become a professional painter.


Brisbane Baroque’s Jarrod Carland, Shannon Pigram promise awkward Helpmanns

Whatever happens on Monday night at the 16th Helpmann Awards in Sydney at The Star casino’s Lyric Theatre, it’s highly likely to be a ceremony involving a hearty helping of awkwardness. After all, the Brisbane Baroque festival is up for six statuettes for its April performance of Handel’s Agrippina (after it won five in 2015 for Faramondo).

None of the five nominated artists have been paid for their performances, after a financial scandal plaguing the management company of the festival emerged in recent weeks. As widely reported, Brisbane Baroque’s executive director (and also of the “postponed” debut fixture Sydney Sings) Jarrod Carland has been convalescing in a Melbourne clinic recovering from a reported illness. Contacted on Sunday, his partner (and fellow director of the festivals’ operating entities) Shannon Pigram refused to answer our questions about large sums of money having reportedly been transferred between the entities, and that both Destination NSW, Griffith University and Tourism and Events Queensland had demanded access to their books.

And the sixth nomination, if it wins the category of Best Opera, would be collected by Pigram, who has indicated to organisers he is attending the ceremony. What Pigram might say about the outstanding bills, or what his artists (if successful) might say about their unpaid invoices, is anyone’s guess.

Furious Brisbane Baroque artists still unpaid five months on

Company directors are still trading but refuse to liaise with creditors, while debt is estimated at over half a million dollars.

Five months on from the artistic successes of this year’s Brisbane Baroque, it still appears that only a handful of artists have been paid for their work, despite audience attendance – and therefore box office returns – suggesting a positive financial outcome. Meanwhile, Limelight has discovered that other companies owned by the directors are still trading, despite festival debts estimated at well over half a million dollars.

Reports in Limelight and other Australian media back in June revealed serious management irregularities, while the Event Owner and Executive Director, Jarrod Carland had reportedly checked himself into a medical institution in Victoria. Many in the arts community were therefore surprised when in July, Carland’s fellow director and boyfriend Shannon Pigram appeared at the Helpmann Awards in Sydney to acknowledge the audience applause on behalf of absent singers and collect a slew of trophies in place of his “seriously ill partner”.

Following the Helpmanns, on July 25, the Brisbane Baroque website was updated with a message saying how “thrilled” the directors were with their four awards. “We all know how hard it is to mount festivals and they are always a risk but these awards and response this evening confirms that the hard work is worth it,” the statement said, adding, “There have been several reports in the media over the last weeks concerning payments to artists and personnel for their services for Brisbane Baroque 2016. Brisbane Baroque is continuing to liaise with creditors and hopes to finalise an outcome by the end of July.”

Since then, neither Carland nor Pigram have responded to any attempts by artists, their agents or Limelight to get in touch with them, while the company’s only employee, Holly Plew, is now believed to have left Brisbane Baroque Ltd. Several of the artists and their managements have contacted Limelight to express their frustration at what seems an intractable situation.

Alison Johnston was employed as a contracted co-artistic administrator for Brisbane Baroque, and tasked with issuing contracts signed by Jarrod Carland. Separately she runs Orchestra of the Antipodes, and as a creditor she has been attempting to follow up on behalf of many of the performers since April. According to Johnston, the list of unpaid artists stretches to around 40 international and Australian soloists including Mahan Esfahani, Vivica Genaux, Greta Bradman, Brett Weymark, Erin Helyard, Ulrike Schneider, Carlo Vistoli, Russell Harcourt, Joao Fernandes, Owen Willetts, Keri Fuge, Kiandra Howarth, Morgan Balfour, Nicholas Tolputt, Brenton Spiteri, David Greco, Kristian Winther and Ioana Tache. In addition, it is understood no money has been received by any ensembles including Latitude 37, Orava Quartet, Camerata of St. John’s, the Queensland Symphony Orchestra and 32 members of Orchestra of the Antipodes. It is believed that the outstanding debt could be as much as $750,000.

“As far as I know, no-one has been paid since this date (or indeed before), and no-one has heard from management at all,” said Johnston. “The only artists that we have been able to ascertain as having been paid from the Festival are Miriam Margolyes, Laurence Dale and Rodney Fisher. The last two were the directors of Agrippina and King Arthur respectively, and directors’ contracts specify payment in advance which is why they would have been paid as they were.”

It also appears that a number of the suppliers, including the firm that freighted the Agrippina set from Germany and the people who remade the Agrippina costumes are also still waiting on invoices. “I have had basically no communication from Shannon or Holly,” said Johnston. “Holly had said at some point early-ish on that Shannon would call me but he never did. Any actual information that has been received from them (like the July 30 payment date) has had to be prised out of them. And of course it has subsequently proved to be not true anyway. The sentence in their statement that ‘Brisbane Baroque is continuing to liaise with creditors and hopes to finalise an outcome by the end of July’ is untrue in every respect; they haven’t been liaising with anyone. So there is no indication if or when the situation might be resolved.”

Graham Pushee, Managing Director of Arts Management representing two of the unpaid artists, tells a similar tale. “We have been constantly and regularly sending emails requesting – or demanding – payment, which was contractually due within 15 days of performance,” he told Limelight. “At first we were told that Jarrod was seriously ill and they would be in touch. Then Shannon said that no payments can be made at this stage – but with no reason. Jarrod has never replied, despite being copied on everything.”

By June, Pigram was reportedly stepping in as Carland was apparently the only signatory on the accounts, and Pushee was told that Brisbane Baroque “intends to make good on all outstanding fees”. But following the Helpmann Awards, communications have completely dried up. The agents and managers however are now all in touch with each other. “We’re trying to work out how to go forward. We’re not discounting any possibility but we have to look at what’s realistic,” Pushee says. “My clients are independent artists, reliant on the income from events like this. Apart from being frustrating, I find it unconscionable. There’s a moral as well as a financial dimension here.”

Meanwhile, Limelight has obtained an email sent by Jarrod Carland on September 14 to clients of Studio Jack, a boutique media campaigns company of which he and Pigram are also directors, that suggests that the Brisbane Baroque situation is not interfering with their other various commercial enterprises. The light-of-tone email reports staff changes at Studio Jack, contains no mention of Carland’s illness or ‘unavailability’, and makes it clear that for them it is very much business as usual. A phone call to Studio Jack elicited the information that both Carland and Pigram are “in and out” on a regular basis, though neither of them could be spoken to on this occasion.

“This kind of thing is detrimental to the entire industry,” says Pushee, who is having to consider insisting on contracts requiring part payment in advance. “Having worked with them before, we had no reason to be suspicious, or wary, or in any way concerned. But there are some people you’ll never contemplate working with again, no matter in what guise they resurface.”

As regards the future of the festival itself, Limelight understands that there are intense behind the scenes efforts to ensure that the popular event goes ahead in the future and that it continues to attract interstate visitors and enhance Brisbane’s and Queensland’s cultural profile. However, QPAC felt it important to clarify their relationship to the festival and the company. “Brisbane Baroque Festival is produced by Brisbane Baroque Limited of which Jarrod Carland and Shannon Pigram are Directors,” a spokesperson explained. “QPAC provides in kind support to Brisbane Baroque Festival and for this support QPAC receives an in associationpresentation credit on marketing collateral. Given QPAC’s relationship with Brisbane Baroque Festival is as an ‘in association’ partner, we have no financial authority over the event. QPAC has not yet been given any indication from Brisbane Baroque Limited as to the plans for Brisbane Baroque Festival 2017”.

Contemporary Art

The Many Sides to Contemporary Art

Art of today is classified as contemporary art drawn by artists who are a part of the 21st century. It is not easy to define contemporary art simply because it has no boundaries, it has no logic and it is always in a state of fluid dynamic evolution. This form of art represents thought processes that have seen the world coming close to form a global village challenging the traditional boundaries of class, culture and ethnicity. Contemporary art is far removed from the traditional art themes, it is basically a manifestation of ideologies, identities and happenings ruling the world in the modern era.

Why it is that contemporary art cannot be specifically put in a framework unlike say Egyptian tomb paintings or Greek sculpture or Renaissance paintings or period paintings? It is because contemporary art describes a way of life, it brings forth through art, the prevailing circumstances of the modern world. Most importantly, it is a portrait of our recent past and depicts in art form the social, political and economic upheavals of the twentieth century.

Historically, the roots of contemporary art go back to the beginnings of the “Modernism” era. In 1910, the Contemporary Art Society was founded in London by Roger Fry as a private society that focussed on buying art works for placement in public museums. A number of other institutions followed suit notably the Contemporary Art Society of Adelaide Australia in 1938. There is however a flip side to what really falls in the “contemporary” definition. Since this concept is anchored in the present and as the start date moves forward, the previous periodicity of “contemporary” loses its relevance. Hence the works of art bought by the Contemporary Art Society of London in 1910 can no longer be described as contemporary.

Contemporary art has always been a mix of representational forms and the abstract. It has always stood for the prevalent socio political concerns of society. A case in point is the art works of Judy Chicago whose forms of women were symbols of the feminist movement of the 1970s. Similarly, artists of the 1960s created works that characterised the free liberal hippy movements. Artists like Maya Lin who designed the Vietnamese Veteran’s Memorial Wall in Washington DC and Richard Serra who was associated with the Minimalist movement in 1960s have all tailored their art to design sculptures that have appealed to the emotional conscience of the people.

This is what contemporary art is all about. It is not simply about visual appeal, it is more of delving into the undercurrent of modern happenings and sentiments and portraying them in art form.