• Beyond the Canvas

“We are at a precipice in this country, and we are either going to move forward or we are not.” - Carrie Mae Weems

In 2016, nearly half of the eligible US voters opted to forgo one of their fundamental civil rights and did not vote. This means that over 100 million Americans were so irreconcilably disengaged from politics that they could not be bothered to have their say. Worryingly, a whopping 20% of this 100 million is planning to do the same this year. The reason? They are simply not interested and do not care about politics. If you think about it, these 'indifferents' have just as much decision-making power as the other half who does want its voice heard in the political conversation. This very complex and, for me, entirely unfathomable issue is thoroughly explored by the 100 Million Project, a survey that quizzed 13,000 chronic non-voters.

In a bid to counter voter suppression and encourage people to vote in the forthcoming elections, legendary American artist and activist Carrie Mae Weems (of the iconic Kitchen Table Series fame) is once again using her work as a catalyst for social change. Her work and that of 7 other artists, such as Ed Ruscha and Jenny Holzer, is being displayed on 350 digital screens across 16 US cities until Election Day. It is estimated that these billboards will be seen by some 3 million people every day, reaching more than 106 million people throughout the campaign.

Only 2 weeks left, guys. Go register and VOTE.

#election2020 #democracy #whenweallvote #vote #100millionproject #govote #votehimout #yourvotematters #makeyourvotecount #voteblue #carriemaeweems #art #artblog #artblogger #beyondthecanvasblog

A billboard designed by Weems for the “Art for Action” campaign.

Iconic, but not frozen in time - a garment that continues to evolve and fascinate. That is the premise of this show that traces the history, transformation and global influence of the Japanese kimono from the 17th century to these days.

Over 300 stunning sartorial masterpieces that show us how the kimono, literally 'the thing to wear', went from everyday outfit in Japan to object of aesthetic inspiration and cultural appropriation in the West. Some of the Western tributes by the likes of Galliano, JP Gaultier and the late Alexander McQueen are particularly striking, but I thought the recent reinterpretations by Japanese designers were the most playful and inventive.

Sanitising gel abounds, but forget about social distancing. The show runs to October 25th and is sold out, so if you don't have a ticket you can always watch the videos of the curator tour: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEf0iFNTVGw&t=30s

#kimono #kimonokyototocatwalk #japan #japanesefashion #fashion #victoriaandalbert #v&a #london #artblog #artblogger #beyondthecanvasblog

Left: a kimono which belonged to Freddie Mercury

Centre: outfit designed for Madonna by Jean Paul Gaultier in 1999.

Right: kimono designed by Alexander McQueen for Bjork

Galliano for Dior in 2007

A kimono entitled 'Please let others sit comfortably' by Japanese artists Yokoyama Yumiko and Kadowaki Takahiro.

Kimono costumes from the Star Wars movies (none of which I have seen). On the left is the costume for Obi-Wan Kenobi, played by Alec Guinness in 1977.

Stunning costumes by Colleen Atwood from Memoirs of a Geisha. What a terrible movie that was.

Years ago in Tokyo I had my (tacky and touristy) kimono moment, too. To this day, the most uncomfortable thing I have ever worn.

The overwhelming dominance of Artemisia Gentileschi's personal narrative over her worth as an artist has always bothered me. The rape, the trial, the struggles of being a female artist in the XVII century - of course it's all relevant, but I never thought it needed to define her work. I also took exception to the sensationalisation of her life story and the overly sexualised reading of part of her oeuvre at the expense of her artistic legacy. Until today.

This dazzling show at the National Gallery makes an important statement about Artemisia Gentileschi the artist. And despite certain inevitable and relevant personal references, it finally does away with the idea that she used painting to seek revenge or handle her trauma. Now that half her creative output has been reunited in the Sainsbury Wing, we can focus our attention on her artistic achievements. Her paintings are confident and theatrical, full of both graceful sensuality and gruesome violence. Artemisia injects the usual biblical themes with passion and sensitivity, turning the narrative on its head. In her female-dominated stories, of which she is sometimes the protagonist, her masterful use of chiaroscuro creates such drama that we can almost hear the gentle rustling of the silk and the gasping of the characters.

Standing ovation for Letizia Treves and her team for gifting us with this long overdue survey of one of the most accomplished artists of the Italian Baroque. Artemisia is finally celebrated as the brilliant, edgy, ambitious, empowered and unapologetic painter that she was.

#artemisiagentileschi #artemisia #nationalgallery #london #baroque #painting #femaleartist #artblog #artblogger #beyondthecanvasblog

Esther before Ahasuerus (detail) (c.1626-29)

Judith and her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes (c. 1618-19)

Susannah and the Elders (1610)

Judith and her Maidservant with the Head of Holofernes (c. 1623-25)

Allegory of Painting (c.1638-39)

Judith Beheading Holofernes (c. 1613-14)

Mary Magdalene in Ecstasy (1623)

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