By on February 12th, 2021



Ida Ekblad, artist, from the exhibit Blood Optics. via (via (, Photo: Omar Luis Olguin)


Ida Ekblad Paints, Sculpts, Glories in Artmaking


To delight in Ida Ekblad‘s exhibit Blood Optics (directly above and below) is to to let some sunshine in. Some admirable artworks use veils, layers, mysteries. Blood Optics uses clarity.  Noon  clarity — full color, no muddying shadows. The piece above uses stripes like an underlying melody. From left, diagonal blue, squiggly blue, slightly different diagonal red. Each set finds a different riff on the tune, yet you agree the music can complete one song.


Below is a multiple-canvas piece and two identically-sized single paintings. If she’s true to the forms here, the two solos could only fit in a trio with the third canvas (probably in the center) being a contrasting shape. These two are more complex compositions and perhaps need a simpler cooling-down canvas in between.

The multiple on the right relies on semblances, not diagonals. It’s a long pie-wedge of a shape that begins with the height-filling form on the left and dwindles to the quiet circle on the smallest canvas to the right. The leftmost form and the red vase (and smaller rectangle) carry the red rightward. There’s a gloss of light on the vase (a lighting effect often ignored by Ekblad) and shiny far-right spoon. She has created a visual logic that again joins the elements into one tune.

I can’t speak for the practices of an artist I’ve never talked to, but if it was me these conjunctions were not planned at the painting stage, they asserted themselves at the strongly different compare-and arrange stage. I would find myself then in a different part of myself. Hand-eye coordination becomes trivial, a gear shifts, finding a mega pattern turns a key in a new part of your knowing.


Ida Ekblad, artist, from the exhibit Blood Optics. via (, Photo: Omar Luis Olguin)



I include this Ekberg sculpture because it shares so much feeling with the way she’s framed her canvases above. Imagine instead the highly carved and richly gilded framing you’ll find in old museums. You’d raise an eyebrow. The artwork would radically change. Maybe straight to comedy.





Ida Ekblad, artist, sculpture. via (, Photo: Omar Luis Olguin)



As always in this blog I don’t strive to cover the entirety of an artist’s output but the parts of it that stand out to me. Ekblad’s painting roams across a landscape of styles. Her sculpture deserves attention too — but what I show here doesn’t begin to exhaust her reach.



In the top photo below, a market basket filled with Ekblad’s ideas about sculpture, I’m most taken with the two in front — badly seen here, but notable. Similar to Swollen by Breath on They have an underlying grace that enlivens them.  Below that is Vampire Squid which I feel good/bad about. It’s an arresting ground for its hangings and placements. Fancy shower doors? Points for arresting novelty. But unless these objects all have personal meanings to the artist, they’re random. Always a big shrug for random. You don’t get credit for sifting and leaving some things out.




Ida Ekblad, various sculpture.




Ida Ekblad, Vampire Squid.



In sum I feast on Ida Ekblad’s creativity, willingness to abandon one fascination for a new one. Her flexibility and sly humor. I’m reading about Frank Stella now and the author points out that Stella took an almost scientific approach to exploring one aesthetic issue after another, in a regimented way. Ekblad is loudly another form of personality. She rose from street art and break-dancing to tackle more demanding forms. She’s very good at what she does. She moves along like she’s on roller skates.




More on Ida Ekblad:


Herald St Gallery, London

Galerie Max Hetzler

Saatchi Gallery








































By on January 28th, 2021


Detail of photograph by Clem Onojeghuo on showing mindful alignment of detail.



Clem Onojeghuo’s Photographic Eye


The photography editors at the Washington Post have recently profiled Mark Ruwedel‘s Seventy-Two and One Half Miles Across Los Angeles. Succinctly, opinions varied from there are lots of really talented artists out there who would love this kind of exposure (pun intended) to As a long time artist you are entitled to your own opinions as anybody else…. Before being uselessly critical of other work get a closer look at you mirror every morning just after getting out of bed : image you see may be sobering.  [see comments at bottom of same article]



Do you need more to diagnose plenty about human nature? But for guidance on the criticism of the arts of photography you’ll need to search farther.



Then I stumbled across the photographs of Clem Onojeghuo. One look over what Onojeghuo is offering can save paragraphs of verbal opining. Here is an eye that’s alive in the moment, quick to raise a lens, attracted to the details and angles that frame a great shot. His work has a pulse.



Take the photograph detailed at the top of this post. Ask what the photographer had in his mind — why did he stop here? Onojeghuo walks down a street. This car, this building. He stops and snaps? No he stops and exactly lines up the reds and whites of this chance arrangement. Sure that’s a notable car, yes the building has decorative paint — but what what his eye has caught is a line in reality that won’t exist  fifteen minutes later.



Look at this shot, the red coat and the red flowers. The diagonals, the casual gait, the swank car. No time to line up angles here.



Photograph by Clem Onojeghuo, London. via




Again quick to react to a one-time mix of fabrics striding by. Red car an extra piece of luck (or did he wait for this line-up?)



Photograph by Clem Onojeghuo via



I  urge you to explore and enjoy Clem Onojeghuo’s photographic instincts. And to compare it with that of other camera-weilding folk. [Find him also at @clemono2 | ]





My next blog post will approach the Ruwedel work from an important other angle. LA County is my home turf.






By on January 22nd, 2021


Edith Torony, what matters most is how well you walk through the fire. Painting. Via Saatchi Art.


Edith Torony, Painter of Enough Spaces to Interest a Physicist



Saatchi Art recently focused on a group of paintings they found notable in 2020. I found myself reading down through them with a sigh. When I saw Edith Torony’s work I stopped. “what matters most is how well you walk through the fire” presents a crammed canvas. No ground line, no overarching sky, no logical left or right. What I mean is a viewer cannot establish a point of view. The painter refuses to take one.


Is there a virtual wall which aligns the board that protrudes, the circus hoop hanging in air, the wall or two shown upper right and the pile of mega-dice to the left, the partial anime face?  Because the unrealistic fires, the whirly pinwheel and other details make me want to move mentally to the left to accommodate them.



I saw in a museum once — I think in Cleveland — a sign on the floor where they deemed it best for taking selfies. Eh?



Torony has a brain that I’d love to roam around in. This truly flat depiction of multiple viewpoints, not to mention relative scales, teases your logic-loving brain.



Of course I may read her painting all wrong. That can happen when you’re outside a creative cranium.  What can also happen is a shrug. I love this art whatever it is.


A few more so you get a real taste of her work.


Edith Torony, painter. From left: Fake Dreams, Cosmic Junk, Heaven & Earth, Heaven & Earth VI. via Torony’s page on Singulart.



You can see the repeated occurrence of stripes, of yellow and a pale blue.  Note on Heaven & Earth VI that the background is quite blurred with detail layered on top. Not so on the others. The painter keeps moving our point of view. Here’s a universe where anything goes.




This is miles different from my art but the ideal of anything fits suits us both.




Torony is Romainian. To my ignorant American ears I hear brutal heinous dictators. But I read Romania is long past that. And the fanciful work of Edith Torony says nothing about oppression and misery. Rather her focus is on the stuff we humans have cast off like used Kleenex. Packaging in its abundant difference, flashy buy me lures with no staying power. You’ve spent your money? The lure’s defunct. Squashed cans, the cellophane that binds three paper towel rolls into one price tag, the silvered crinkly bag your favorite chips came in.



Science magazine recently had the headline Human “stuff” now outweighs all life on Earth.” Torony isn’t nuts — this is yet another turning point for our planet which has been accumulating disastrous firsts for some time now. How this leads her to her compositions is mysterious to me.



She is an English-as-a-second-language person yet bravely goes for paragraphs of explanation about her various studies. Not a simple individual, not a simple line of reasoning.



“My work is an ode to chaos and reconstruction, to re-composition, to the reduction of everything to a recycled playground.” 

This and photo below via Torony page on Singulart.



Edith Torony at work.



Seeing her folded over what look like thumbnails and at close range to the canvas say a lot about how Torony gets her wild effects.




Edith Torony blog

Singulart Edith Torony with artist’s photo

Estopia Gallery










By on December 29th, 2020


Calligraphy in Motion, a Follow-up


A few days ago I wrote a post about Rus Khasanov whose videoed ABCs make you rethink what it means to read.



Here is ferrofluid (micro iron particles in liquid) demonstration a that slowly spells out “out of mind.”



‘Out of Sight Out of Mind’ looks at how often what we hold as important is invisible and yet when something is invisible it is easily forgotten.’

Thanks to Gurdonark for the music – Sawmill
Thanks to Raymond and Graham and Patrick and Sylvie for their help 🙂

Project credited to Kate Pincottvideo and text, Vimeo



As in religious philosophy this is another route up the same mountain.



By on December 26th, 2020


Rus Khasanov, WOW from project The Beauty of Shattered Discs. Courtesy the artist.

The WOW Word, the Glowing Art of Rus Khasanov


Succulent chromatic color, unpredictable natural movement, the contradictory ways of oil and water vying to influence what you see. How you see. The artist Rus Khasanov combines the patience of wisemen with the whimsy of jugglers. His cameras record the evanescent dance of his materials.




While working on this project, I was faced with the constant following of the ideal shot, which is so close and distinct, but constantly disappears beyond the horizon.




Khasanov works on the tightrope of an image-making technique he cannot control. It’s like a well-conceived experiment in the lab — you control the variables but cannot imagine what the true unfolding may look like. He tracks his quarry with still and video cameras. His worry is the best shot may reveal itself right after the camera has paused.



My own artwork is also pixel-based and I both envy his ability to photograph actual pixel colors and rejoice that my method — professional printing — does not require the attention Khasanov’s methods do. Ideally my work would like to be onscreen on the wall But they are without motion or change and inapt for screen longevity or attention keeping.



If anyone anywhere knows of software that will allow an animated GIF to be embedded in a Photoshop image, please let me know. I try it in Apple Motion and get a gigabyte-sized  file. But damn I love that file!



In profiling Khasanov’s work I  get the guilty pleasure of playing with GIFs running simultaneously. Not so easy to do. I love how the blacks pour through each of the first three GIFs. On his site Khasanov has almost 33 projects, most exploring color and motion in admirably ingenuous ways.




My last profile was of the artist of Gargantua, Refik Anadol. Anadol wants to leave you speechless — he hies himself to mountaintops in order to throw lightning bolts. Khasanov agrees that Anadol is a great artist. He’s the perfect foil for Khasanov who sees at a much-magnified level of micro-detail. A level your raw eyesight would sniff at like a curious dog and wander off. With his cameras Khasanov works like an artist framing with matboard L-shapes a precious piece of a whole image. It is a method of abstraction.


Rus Khasanov, from the project Beyond the Horizon. Courtesy the artist.

Rus Khasanov, .GIF from project Beyond the Horizon. Courtesy the artist.

Rus Khasanov, from the project Beyond the Horizon. Courtesy the artist.

Rus Khasanov, .GIF from project Beyond the Horizon. Courtesy the artist.


Rus Khasanov, from the project La La La. Courtesy the artist.





A wonderfully engaging sample of Khasanov’s work commissioned by Wired Magazine. Under 1 minute

Compare Khasanov with my last profile of a master of the gargantuan Refik Anadol


When I started this blog in 2012 Khasanov was my first subject.

By on December 9th, 2020



TED talk by Refik Anadol


Art Materials for Superpowers



Trying to think yourself out of the box?  Try thinking your way out of the tesseract, a figure in four dimensions — the 8-cell 4-cube.


Artists all over the world are finding new media to express themselves in. This blog has highlighted art made from draped fabrics and from unplaited rice rope fibers.


Give yourself the nearly-twelve-minute time it takes to re-set everything you knew about art materials. I feel like someone upset a bushel of ping-pong balls inside me and they’re bouncing every-which-way. Amazing, unthinkable, way outside the galaxy!


The artist is Refik Anadol.






It’s not uncommon for me to think further after publishing on a topic. My idea was that I had misspoken of Anadol’s work, that the data points are more like the model on the chair. The teapot, cube, rosebud. The algorithms would serve as the brushes and clay. But in reviewing this talk I hear him equating data points with pigments.   You have to be a numbskull or a philosopher to argue about the interpretation of a metaphor — already a figure of speech. As if there was something science could measure and report on. Pin down for posterity.


I’ll have to think harder than I have to make a data-pigment connection. Its distance from my thinking is discordant enough that it will  keep twitching uncomfortably in my brain.



The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not “Eureka” but “That’s funny…”  Isaac Asimov (1920–1992) in American Scientist.

The Princeton polymath John Tukey (1915–2000) observed that “the greatest value of a picture is when it forces us to notice what we never expected to see.”  (same source).



Please see also my next profile of Rus Khasanov. Between them you see how wide artistic curiosity can differ and still be Art.

By on November 14th, 2020



Photograph by Ivanna Torres of Unsplash. On I cannot find Ivanna_Torres, Ivanna Torres, Ivanna, Torres (plenty of Torres’s but not the right one.) Aha! Ivanna Torres. I followed the photo ID on Google.




I can’t find this photographer though I collected her work within the last two days. Ouch!   …OK, now I have her but want it on record that I often can’t find photographers directly on unsplash. Bah.


Torres clearly has a camera that can be submerged and she’s taking shots that focus partly underwater and partly out in the free air. This isn’t the only shot of Torres’ I pulled off unsplash but it’s the one I fixated on.


This is the use of a tool that I love to see.  The artist is exploring the fringes of what effects the tool will allow. It’s an extraordinary shot, surreal, edgy, beautiful.. I want to follow her explorations. It occurs to me that a split view can be achieved in multiple ways.

By on November 11th, 2020


Leonardo and Gyasi rethought (distorted version)



Woodshedded (verb)

(continued from last post)



Last night I was woodshedded by a friend, in the sense that I was privately lambasted for my muddle-headed idea for testing the concept of fair use in copyright law.



If I’m in the right lane at an intersection and attempt a left turn any accident is my fault. No ambiguity. But if I justify my publication of an image by pointing to the text I write about it — well my friend says that sucks. A lawcourt might as well.



The lesson I take is that by displaying Gyasi’s image without his permission puts him, the unsuspecting artist, in a weird position he did nothing to provoke. I didn’t pull his name from a hat. I’ve collected well over 800 artists on Artsy and Gyasi’s work stuck insistently in my head. Mainly because of his startling success with color. I sought out his work in my Artsy catalog, going down one-by-one more than halfway before I hit on his entry.



Till then I could see the work in my head but not remember his distinctive name. Now I’ve published and commented on the work. If he doesn’t know yet, Google will most likely tell him. I owe him an apology for snagging him into a controversy. He did nothing to incite this stranger (me) than to do stunning artwork that the stranger saw. Unfair, reprehensible. Stupid.



Sir, I apologize to you.





Recently Ruth Bader Ginsberg lay in state while thousands of people filed past. Some needed to pause a moment to pray or commune, others hustled past mindful of those behind them. I have seen the Mona Lisa, but in that hasty second way. I looked, grokked, got out of the way.



Fact is I don’t quite get it about the Mona Lisa. I observe her standing in public regard but I’ve never connected with an aha! The Nike of Samothrace however takes my breath away. I stayed a long time with her from more than one vantage and as I left felt I was being dragged away from a piece of my heart. The sculpture I assume is centuries wise and understands how to cherish all the nuggets of self we leave in homage.






Prince Gyasi. The artist’s way with color is twofold. First is his ability to achieve an intensity of color saturation that could look hokey but doesn’t a bit. I believe his world contains this powerful color and he has found techniques that initiate and convince us. His second achievement composes photo shoots where color rules even though the models caught show raw individuality. His website quotes him  “color can serve as a therapy, it can treat depression and transform emotions.”Here is where I feel we meet,  I agree with every bone in my body. Colors are like fruits that you can bite into. Songs that give you wings.



Gyasi’s color is like a limp balloon he pumps with helium. He gives color extra meaning.




By on November 9th, 2020



Leonardo da Vinci, Mona Lisa, and Prince Gyasi, Responsibility – 2. Mona: Copyright-free from Wikipedia. Gyasi: taken as fair use from the artist’s site.



Free Use, Copyright Law

(Please also read next post)


Testing, testing. Above we have two images. One is by Leonardo da Vinci whom you may have heard of by now. I know lots about her making, down to the wood that she’s painted on and how it warps seasonally. Green and brown is among my favorite color combinations and lend themselves to the Mona Lisa’s harmonious charm.



The image is copyright-free on Wikipedia. The image on the right is a screen grab from the website of Prince Gyasi, a Ghanaian. I do not have permission to use the image but I want to say that the artist’s achievement of supra-natural colors is the work of an iPhone. His experiments with photo-printing papers call attention to his curiosity.



In my view Gyasi is a fine artist. Da Vinci too. Gyasi photographs the stunning beauty of black black skin. His figures are rhythmic. Da Vinci’s rhythms are more subdued, have gentleness, grace. Gyasi is younger and his energy sings out. His inventiveness — as in the piece above — has nothing to do with the culmination of years of study. The artist’s focus is when the camera clicks.






I continue my tussle with the rights and particulars of copyright laws, specifically what is fair use to a blogger? My use of the works above is a test. I hope Mr Gyasi takes no offense at my using his distinctive work. It’s worth blogging about and I believe I’ve discoursed on it enough to claim fair use when using it.



The only identifiable face exposed is Mona Lisa’s. So no rights infringement there.



When I wrote my profile of Deborah Roberts I was denied the use of images by Stephen Friedman Gallery in London. That made my piece on Roberts less powerful and convincing, more challenging for the reader to decode. And it does the artist, getting less clarity or boost, no favors.



What you want a profile to provide is the flavor of the artist. It should not be hide’n’seek, bait’n’switch. Follow the links — surprise! — you’re the researcher now.



For months I’ve been compiling material for an essay on Furniture in Art. A survey. May I address this topic? By all means. Can I illustrate the survey with widespread examples and still claim fair use? Will that hold true in Bulgaria?



If I use no more than one image from each artist? If the essay remarks on the image and why it’s relevant here? Will Chinese law disagree?



Will USA law agree? British? (Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.)



Why — if I cannot receive even as much as pocket-change from my profile — can’t I use low-resolution, significantly downsized replicas of artworks?



What is free speech to a commentator on the visual arts without showing examples of the visual arts under discussion? Can a gallery refuse me use but can fair use rights override their no?






This is a test. Soon I’ll do another with an essay on furniture in art. Live, test the limits and learn.




Former copyright post

By on October 30th, 2020



I am not a man, I’m dynamite, by Deborah Roberts. Mixed media and collage on canvas, 2019.



Addendum (11.01.20.) I’ve received feedback that some think Deborah Roberts is a so-so artist. I emphatically disagree. I also disagree – – jumping up and down disagree — with the ambiguity of copyright law, in that what’s fair use and what isn’t seems to be about how big a law firm you can afford.



Deborah Roberts, Pieces Made into Wholeness



This powerhouse artist minces no words. She’s cut her way through photographs and found images and assembled the pieces into believable disjointed faces whose strong emotions you feel viscerally. Collage is fundamentally piecework but Roberts’ non-negotiable expressions lead me to call her collages wholework. These people are not composed for a pricey oil portrait, they’re caught in living moments. Mind-fuck situations. Trying to make Tab A fit in Slot B when Tab A is made of living crabs and Slot B is an unapproachable black hole.



I remember once as a child, after my father had spanked me he began applauding and and jeering why didn’t I really cry? A little white girl in a home of refined tastes.  I felt in that outraged moment like the Pacific Ocean was trying to collide with Mars. Does not connect. In life you love and sometimes love knocks you clear off your pivot. Rarely, which is why it’s such a shove.



Recently the journalist Kristen Welker moderated 2020’s third Presidential debate. She happens to be Black which means she knows about what Black people know as The Talk — the mandatory indoctrination for Black children by their parents on how not to provoke a White person into killing you. Ms Welker asked each candidate to comment on The Talk.



I take nothing from my furious little girl self. You can only react to the cards you’re holding. But my grown-up self tries to imagine The Talk. My parents tutoring me how to stay alive when in the company of other-skinned police. How to live in a society that prides itself on fairness — but, by the way, no one means Black people. You’re out of luck, brace yourself.



You want incomprehensible? White girl, bite down on that.



Deborah Roberts’s pieces give special attention to several parts of portraiture. The face is primary and it’s uncanny how well the artist can tell which pieces make emotions plain. Meaning complex but plainly seeable. Say a questioning face with iron determination in it. Two pieces that we can read together.


My impression is that Roberts inks in the Black hairdos. Making the photographs less personal, recognizable.


Deborah Roberts, sample hairstyles.



Deborah Roberts, sample hands (with an added white one).



Deborah Roberts, sample footwear.



Deborah Roberts sample clothes.



The hands are a focus, often way outsized for the character. There’s always invention and immaturity in the poses of the young girls.  She keeps growing as an artist, adding boys, women, men. And most notably — you feel it in your solar plexus — she’s added pieces of white faces, white hands into the troubled identity of her Black people.



You should also attend to her choice of footwear. When the subject’s feet are included Roberts is picky about the socks and shoes. Her people dress with personality.



Lastly, the torso seems to have a particular meaning. You’d swear the artist isn’t paying attention until you see how unerringly a rectangle of stripes shows just how a subject’s shoulders would sit. Also the torso is where Roberts can indulge her fancy in highly patterned and often wild clothing.



The figures are so startlingly realistic you lose sight of how surreal they actually are. I look at Roberts’ figures and say Of course. The artist treats the ratio of surreal and real like a rock guitarist a wah-wah pedal. Some works feature crazy exaggerations. Others put their foot down decisively. No experimenting here.



The first art I ever made that wasn’t someone else’s was collage. I have strong feelings about it. It’s in this context that I look at Deborah Roberts’ work with great respect. What seems weightless and little thought can only be due to deep seeing. The parts she exaggerates, those she sets akimbo, the sketchy arms, the ink hairdos — don’t take these for granted. The way she weights her works is telling. Meaningful.


See more of her work at the links below. [For an explanation of why I illustrate Roberts’ fine work with lame illustrations see the next post on Copyright and Fair Use.]



PPS: This image mix was culled from a web search. I’m suggesting it is fair use to showcase Roberts’ evocative range.

Deborah Roberts’ variety shown in a web search.


Deborah Roberts website

Deborah Roberts’s Gripping Collages Reconfigure Girlhood —  includes artist photo

Deborah Roberts at Stephen Friedman Gallery

Deborah Roberts on artsy

The Breakthrough Women of Artist Deborah Roberts