Saturday, August 22, 2015


Beth Orton
18" x 24.5", watercolor on poster, 2015
We have now the post-postmodernist era, post-internet art, metamodernism, zombie formalism, hypermodernism, and post-capitalism. From looking at it you can't distinguish post-internet art from post-internet non art, happily exploited by the commercialization of the internet. The characteristic of metamodernism is that it has characteristics of both modernism and postmodernism, floating between idealism and realism, between “a modern enthusiasm and a postmodern irony, between hope and melancholy, between naïveté and knowingness, empathy and apathy, unity and plurality, totality and fragmentation, purity and ambiguity.” [Vermeulen, van den Akker, 2010] Our culture in simply confusing, we have learned that truth subjective and illusive, and that falsehood is true. We have learned that identity is flexible, we can't distinguish between human nature and the human condition, we don't know what is knowledge and what is experience. It's all a big blur. There's an overload of information and images. There's too much (art). How to navigate? Rather than to cry about it we should embrace this condition of confusion. Doesn't the lack of any certainty create a sense of freedom? We know too that this era of post-postmodernism will end, perhaps there will be a future philosopher who, like Confucius, will make sense of this mess, and provide spiritual stability. Until then: let's enjoy this period of confusionism.

The watercolor of Beth Orton was painted on a poster with a reproduction of a work by Ikki Matsumoto featuring three spoonbills. The portrait was painted in the ground (negative space) that is the bodies of the spoonbills, which is at the same time the figure (positive space). The top 100 song: Safe in Your Arms from Comfort of Strangers.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


16" x 12", oil on canvas paper, 2015
The painting of Airto was created on top of a landscape demo done in a new episode of landscape painting at the Alliance in Fort Myers. The landscape is situated in my back yard but was painted from memory. I turned it upside down to have Airto emerge out of water. I just added some waves to make the landscape become a reflection of itself. The top 100 song is called Andei (I Walked) and comes from the double album The Essential Airto featuring Flora Purim & Special Friends from 1976. The special friends are Hermeto Pascoal, Ron Carter, and Sivuca. There is a second version of Andei on the album on which Airto's wife Flora Purim performs her characteristic scat singing style. Usually I'd pick a version with a woman's voice but here I didn't. I guess I'm not a big fan of scat singing. I've painted Flora Purim before in a double portrait with Hermeto Pascoal but never Airto Moreira. It's a beautiful song.

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Primary Colors: Tuareg

Tuareg: Camel Tournament
16" x 20", oil on canvas, 2015
Music for a Camel Tournament performed by Tuareg women was recorded during the Henri Lhote Expedition of 1948. A small black and white photograph taken during the recording sessions dons the liner notes. They are the notes to the album African Music from the French Colonies which is Volume 2 from The Colombia world Library of Folk and Primitive Music series compiled by Alan Lomax. On the recording one can hear a chorus of women accompanied by a tindi (a mortar converted to a drum) which is played, witnessing the photograph, by a little boy. The setting is in Algeria in the Hoggar Mountains of the Sahara Desert. I can't discern any mountains in the photo but I'll take Lomax's word for it. It was my intention to paint one red dot in the sky, which could possibly have been interpreted as the sun. Once one starts to place dots...

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Obituary: Ornette Coleman

Ornette Coleman
12" x 16", oil on canvas paper, 2015
Randolph Denard Ornette Coleman died last month (June 11) in New York City. He was 85 years old. Coleman's legacy is an enormous discography and the concept of free jazz, which was also the title of one of his earlier recordings. I've made a number of Coleman paintings over the years, some belong to the best the archive has to offer. He is included again this year, established months before he died. NPR critic Kevin Whitehead reviewed Coleman's newest record (which turned out to be his last) New Vocabulary on February 10th this year. The album was recorded in 2009 with Jordan McClean and Amir Ziv and released on System Dialing Records in 2014. In the 2000s Coleman was not very active any more but this record sounds as fresh as his early 1960s recordings. The song in the top 100 is Baby Food, but likely others will follow as I've played many of his records (and YouTube videos) since. With the passing of Coleman the world has lost one of the most influential jazz musicians and one of the top 100 musicians in my 33 years of counting.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Primary Colors

Suicide (Alan Vega, Martin Rev)
10" x 16", oil on canvas paper, 2015
The image of the women in the center comes from a 1920 photograph by an anonymous photographer and is part of the Uwe Scheid Collection. It's getting a little ridiculous, these series of musicians flanked by anonymous (nude) women from that collection (the photos by Gerhard Riebecke that were used last month also belong to the collection) and it will stop soon (there is one more on its way). Why these women appeared in the paintings in the first place has to do with the Buzzcocks painting that was part of the previous series of paintings (with the musicians superimposed on found paintings). A very objective reason indeed. (There are more subjective aspects to it too. The mind wanders places and the unconscious is being well taken care of.) Anyway, here's Suicide, the two-man band consisting of Alan Vega and Martin Rev. The song, no surprise, is Ghost Rider, the track used by M.I.A. in her song Born Free, the number one in consecutive years. As noted in Bun Bun, Martin Rev (who co-written the song with Vega), appears on my favorite version of it. Ghost Rider appeared on Suicide's self titled debut of 1977, in which format it appeared in this top 100. The current version listed is however a live recording found on YouTube filmed at CBGS's in 1977 or 1978. The audience boos and Vega anticipates.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Happy Anniversary

Maria van Boekel
oil on canvas, 2015

Out of context in terms of the top 100, but you're number 1, you always were and will be. Happy 15th anniversary!

Thursday, June 25, 2015


Peliatan Dance Troupe
16" x 12", oil on canvas paper, 2015
Sekar Jupun is the title of a gamelan performance by the Peliatan Dance Troupe, it was uploaded to YouTube in 2012. The Peliatan Troupe is from Bali, Indonesia. In the context of ancient art history I used this video to talk about a music tradition in south-east Asia dating back to the bronze age. Gamelan, however old it is, doesn't go that far back in time. (The oldest depiction of a gamelan ensemble is found on the walls of the famous 8th century Borobudur temple on Java. According to local lore gamelan dates back to the 3rd.) The clip was a substitution for music performed on bronze age bells from China which is rather boring. About a month later I saw the same clip posted on the Facebook page of a friend in Columbus, Ohio. The central figure in the painting is based (again) on a photo by Gerhard Riebicke, photographer of a German nudist movement, taken in 1925. The painting reminds me of a painting by Linda Gall that another friend from Columbus owns. (Love that painting.)

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Saint Coe

David Allan Coe
20" x 48", oil on canvas, 2015
The album Nothing Sacred by David Allan Coe is described as "among the most racist, misogynist, homophobic and obscene [albums] recorded by a popular songwriter." The song Jimmy Buffett insults the popular singer of the title. Both Coe and Buffett were living in Key West in the 1970s, but in the lyrics "Jimmy Buffett doesn't live in Key West anymore," Coe accuses Buffett of escape (and being an elitist m*f*er.)  The photograph on which this painting is based is much newer that 1978, the release date of Nothing Sacred, but looking at the palm trees in the photo it may very well be in Key West. (Why Coe is wearing a fur coat in the picture I do not know. My wife and I drive to Key West tomorrow but we won't take any more clothes than a t-shirt, shorts, flip-flops, and bathing suits.) Music critics were hesitant to give any attention to the album and musician. Yet the art world was not so concerned. The Art Institute of San Francisco pulled a drawing of Coe from this website for their announcement of the exhibition Wrong is What I Do Best in 2014.

Monday, June 15, 2015

Vision of Disorder

Vision of Disorder
30" x 40", oil on canvas, 2015
As a teenager my favorite music genres were punk and hard rock. When I was in my twenties the two styles fused into what came to be known as hardcore in America. Perfect you would think, yet I was the least bit interested. My favorite hard rock bands were all British: Black Sabbath, Deep Purple, and Led Zeppelin. When in the eighties hard rock (now known as metal) started to speed up with American bands like Slayer and Metallica I had lost interest. By that time I had taken an interest in the history of popular music and listened to music that came before punk and hard rock. Blues, folk, garage rock (the list kept expanding in years to come). By now all music is fair game for me and in that context I occasionally check out the latest trends in metal, in punk, and fusions of heavy music. As I stated in my previous post (painting of Minor Threat) I'm not that crazy about most of the metal music that has been produced since the 1980s. This holds true too for the band Vision of Disorder, despite a remix (by The Tyrant) of their song Slapped with an X in this top 100. The painting of them, larger than usual, is the most macho I've ever made.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

U.S. Punk

Minor Threat (in front of a Gerhard Riebicke photo)
oil on canvas paper, 12" x 16", 2015
As a punk rock fan you'd expect more American bands on these pages. In theory American punk (hardcore as it's called) would be the greatest rock and roll music ever, yet I never listened much to it, and when I do, I don't care much for it. Unlike black metal and some of the more naive British punk bands, the American ones act (in my opinion) in the right spirit of non-conformist, socially conscious, and anti-establishment way. Bands like Black Flag, Fugazi, Dead Kennedys, so important in the history of punk, are, as it is with so many genres, dominated by white middle class young adults. They're missing from the top 100 history (the two most successful punk bands within that history are Bad Brains and Bikini Kill, both of whom do not fit the characterization). The 1990s was a decade in which hardcore split-up in many sub-genres, fusions often between 'heavy' styles. The 2006 CD Threat: Music that Inspired the Movie, chronicles bands that would fit in a genre called metalcore. It features some of the most important punk bands within this genre: Agnostic Front, Vision of Disorder, Bleeding Through, and a bunch of others. The film (that inspired the music) is about the friendship between a hardcore and a hip-hop fan. The music on the disc are remixes (from the world of hip-hop deejaying) of hardcore songs. Usually in products like this the parts are better than the whole, but in the case of Threat it's the other way around, and for me it's the most exciting fusion CD out there. I don't care about many of the bands that are on it (in their own right), and worse, the individual deejays I can't even listen to. Within this context then I present then the first portrait of cult/punk hero Ian MacKaye (second from the right) as singer in the band Minor Threat.

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Bahnar Postage Stamp

Bahnar People of Vietnam
12" x 16", oil on canvas board, 2015
The source for the above painting is a postage stamp from Vietnam. It depicts two youthful Bahnars (Vietnamese highland tribe, also known as Bana) in traditional costume. If the two youngsters on the stamp are actual Bahnars is highly doubtful. It appears as if the people, the stamp is modeled after, are Vietnamese fashion models stuck in Bahnar costumes and attributed with a Bahnar spear and fish basket. The Vietnamese government is proud of their indigenous people with their own characteristic forms of culture, who for sure are an asset to the tourist industry. The record Introduction to the Music of Viet Nam (1965, Ethnic Folkways Library) recorded by Pham Duy features three examples of Bahnar musical traditions. The track in the top 100 is called Calebass-Zither Ting Ning in the liner notes. The track is the least accessible of the three and I don't expect it would ever be used by the Vietnamese government to boost their image. I don't think Ting Ning will attract any tourist to come to Vietnam (with the exception of a few obsessed music fanatics). Tourist attractions in the central highlands include gong concerts by the Bahnar (an example is also included on the record). They were originally a matriarchal society.

Wednesday, June 3, 2015

Whatever Happened to the Buzzcocks?

The Buzzcocks
14" x 20", oil on found canvas, 2015
I've had Singles Going Steady, a Buzzcocks compilation album, for more than twenty-five years yet it is not until now that the record first appears in a top 100 list. I always liked the record and must have played it fifty times or maybe even more. Nearly every song on the record is a classic, and has at one time or another found a spot in my weekly top 10 lists from which the annual top 100 is compiled, most appeared multiple times. 
The painting in the background was given to me by its maker, a woman from Ohio who's name I forgot, many years ago. At a fair I told her I liked the painting, she told me I should buy it, I told I didn't want to spend money on a painting. she told me "how's ten bucks," I told her "it's worth more than that." She ended up giving it to me, at first I wouldn't accept it, but she wanted me to have it, she insisted. Somehow I hope this writing finds her, and hope to she'd approve of the addition of the four Buzzcocks.