Sunday, 28 June 2015

Still Life of 2015

The still life has been with us since Antiquity. The seemingly simple subject rendered with an almost tactile realism juxtaposing soft with solid surfaces. Of the latter ones the glittery surfaces such as glass and metals is where the artist gets to show off his mastery of light being reflected or thrown back.

Willem Claesz. Heda (1594-1680), Breakfast Still Life with Blackberry Pie, 1631.
Staatliche Kunstsammlungen Dresden.

As simple as they may seem the objects before us are anything but solid in meaning. They are carriers of the fragility of life, the brevity of it and the sudden violence with which it may suddenly be ended. Placed before us they are reaching us at our most physical being sensing the pain.

Fadi Abou Hassan, Terrorism, January 2015.
"The series of terror will not stop at France, Tunisia or Kuwait...
Yesterday was Paris..."

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Fadi Abou Hassan and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Making of a Prime Minister

Yesterday Lars Løkke Rasmussen (I cannot believe I have just written his name on my blog. What the world has come to) gained back the title of prime minister of my country.


But then a cartoonist whose country is in flames, who has been imprisoned and tortured, and who managed to flee and seek political asylum, recognized what has just taken place. A prime minister about to create a government depending on right wingers of the kind, who gladly look on while humans undergo exactly that: War, bombing, prison and torture while making certain there shall be no possibility of seeking refuge.

So let us take a look of Fadi Abou Hassan taking a firm look of that very person, he had till now only heard of, not seen before. Fadi first drew this:

Fadi Abou Hassan, June 19, 2015.

He has a certain innocence, he is actually looking younger, only the bags under his eyes are ringed in as are the pupils of his eyes. Rings as in someone thirsting for power, ready to cooperate with anyone to gain dominance.

Fadi Abou Hassan, June 19, 2015.

The very same drawing lined in ink. This is a statement now with the teeth fully grown.

Fadi Abou Hassan, June 19, 2015.

 And finally with the skyline of the world as we know it. This is his prey.

Fadi Abou Hassan, June 19, 2015.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Fadi Abou Hassan and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Thursday, 11 June 2015

Copenhagen Comics on the Drying Line

Photo: Niels Larsen.
From the left: Charb by Bob Katzenelson, Wolinski by Jørgen Bitsch,
Tignous by Anette Carlsen, Cabu by Erik Petri and Honoré by Lars Refn.

This weekend marked the fifth month since the massacre at Charlie Hebdo and Copenhagen Comics paid homage to the five murdered cartoonists by exhibiting their portraits, drawn by five of their Danish colleagues. 

To underline their being there with the rest of us, another exhibition was growing underneath them, this one by Annette Carlsen, who was walking among the guests this year too translating onto paper what caught her eye. As always one had to be quick to discover her in action such as here scanning the audience listening to Art Spiegelman:

Photo: Louise C. Larsen.
Annette Carlsen, Guest listening to Art Spiegelman, June 7, 2015.

Annette Carlsen, Guest listening to Art Spiegelman, June 7, 2015.

The art of Annette Carlsen lies in characterizing persons, who may be without any outward movement and still we do not focus on any specificity of their noses or lips. We sense their inward emotion, listening in and yet not quietly doing so. They each have a personal reason for being there, maybe an agenda even, since Art Spiegelman is someone we have all been examined in in high school/gymnasium around these parts and we have discussed him for so long that there are a lot of ingredients at play when seeing and hearing him in real time.

Annette Carlsen, Art Spiegelman, June 7, 2015.
And there he is, very much present, at once relaxed and energetic and from whom each sentence contains a discussion in itself; such as how a cartoon can be racist and anti-racist at the very same time when drawn as a comment against racists and as such one part of a dialogue, only when seen from the outside it might seem racist. Which is a situation that is all too well known in cartooning today and sadly relevant in how Charlie Hebdo was all too often seen.

Annette Carlsen, Art Spiegelman, June 7, 2015.

Photo: Louise C. Larsen.

Annette Carlsen, Adam Holm in conversation
with Art Spiegelman,

June 7, 2015.
- Annette drawing Art Spiegelman and the journalist interviewing him Adam Holm in a light, which can hardly be described other than divine. The two of them very much knew they were being drawn, while below are some of the other guests, busy in each their way and each in their own world and yet all very much in a togetherness, the sum of them making for a festival. With a particular favorite in the bewildered one, seeing too much to interest him and walking in all directions at one time. That index finger is a Matisse.

Annette Carlsen, Guest at Cph Comics, June 7, 2015.

Annette Carlsen, Guest at Cph Comics, June 7, 2015.

Annette Carlsen, Guest at Cph Comics,
 June 6, 2015.

Annette Carlsen, Guest at Cph Comics, June 6, 2015.

And finally we have not least the very special privilege of having a cartoonist on the line too, Ivar Gjørup, as always caught in the act of speaking and as always radiating a light from within. May he never change:

 Annette Carlsen, Ivar Gjørup, June 6, 2015.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Annette Carlsen and must not be reproduced without her permission.

Wednesday, 10 June 2015

The Revolt of the Brain

Let us mark the anniversary of IS/Daesh in cartooning by a protesting brain. Not ours, but the brain of an IS follower; a brain tired of not being used.

Judging by the red line across the apple of the eyes, the brain is only too right; there is no one within. He is as absent of life as the blood of his victims.

Since it is an anniversary we ought to toast a wish: May the brain win.

Fadi Abou Hassan, June 4, 2015.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Fadi Abou Hassan and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Tuesday, 9 June 2015

The Ping Awards 2015

Photo: Niels Larsen.

Photo: Niels Larsen.
At this weekend's Copenhagen Comics Niels and the creator of Cowboy Henk Herr Seele were playing around to great pictorial effect.

Henk is a comic's character, who is as literal in his definition of the world as he is drawn. When reading Kierkegaard, Henk is of course grapping the head of the philosopher and reading off his brain. Henk is never short of a solution to the obstacles he is met with, which makes for a clear-cut graphical effect on the page furthered by a surface of solid colors.

Henk personifies the state of immanence in Kierkegaard's terminology, undressing the wacky ways of civilization while he himself remains unperturbed. Reading Either Or might turn out to be his most dangerous enterprise to date, putting his immanence at risk, but since he is reading with one eye closed, his brain shall probably remain untouched by the duality laid before him.

Cowboy Henk is finally to be found in Danish too, for which Herr Seele was awarded the very same evening at this year's Ping Awards:

Photo: Niels Larsen.

Among the awards given there is one of particular interest to this blog, The Cartoonist of The Year and Lars Andersen was the awardee:

Photo: Niels Larsen.
Lars Andersen, December 2, 2013.
- It was Svendsen, who came up with the idea
Technology runs everywhere in Lars Andersen's works. Cars, busses and trains transformed by his softly trembling coal line, slightly blurry, as coal tends to be. The softness is underlined by his storylines on innocence in the midst of modern life. 

Such as the reddening of joy of the technician, who came up with the idea of connecting train wagons of that new type of trains, IC4 from Italy, known for their inability to actually be of use. The sign reads "Aalborg cancelled" - that is just about the whole country being unconnected. 

Lars Andersen, October 18, 2014.
- I don't think Dan Jørgensen will be too happy about that, Futte!
Technology of any kind means infrastructure down to the one plug and the many meters of cord to a reading light. The Minister for Food Dan Jørgensen pulled through a law against sodomizing animals since it was already implicitly illegal and easier than changing the wellbeing of livestock in the farming industry. Futte was the dog of Gitte Skov, may his soul rest in peace. 

Lars Andersen, August 2, 2013.
Women are said to fall for men with humor
- I do the daily drawing at page 2 of Berlingske


Photo: Niels Larsen.

Photos and cartoons shown are courtesy of their artists and must not be reproduced without their permission.

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Atena and the Law of the Jungle

Atena Farghadani has been convicted to 7 and a half years of imprisonment (the article says 12 years and nine months, we keep getting varying reports) on the charges of "acting against the security of the state", "spreading propaganda against the system", "insulting members of parliament through her painting skills" and "insulting the Supreme Leader and the Iranian revolutionary guards".

The usual suspects in terms of legal allegations on behalf of a despotic regime.

This time directed at a young artist in Iran for speaking up on the right of women. She is now imprisoned for the second time after speaking up on the barbarity she had experienced in prison. Her description alone of how she attempted to create a sheet of paper to work on by flattening used paper cups, only to be found out and seriously punished for it is heart-wrenching. This is an artist constantly under surveillance to deprive her of her voice, even when trying her utmost to find an outlet for it. She has been denied finishing her master's degree in painting as part of her sentence. 

Mana Neyestani, Atena and the Law of the Jungle, Jun 3, 2015.

And her crime? This drawing below, which is from late last summer on the members of parliament voting against a bill on the free right to certain types of contraception. 

To declare oneself insulted by a drawing is the very proof of having recognized oneself as having been drawn.

We for our part cannot see any personal likeness. There are no insignia, no personal characteristics besides oversized jackets and a bowl into which paper notes are being collected. 

Justice is but a screen, as Mana Neyestani has drawn to speak up for Atena. The shadow will invariably reveal the truth. Within one cartoon we have the full story from the one pencil, its artist in peril and the malady of the society in which the pencil was used. Note the bias of the sword having cut through a part of the drawing in which it does not touch any of the animals.

Photo from the Facebook-page Free Atena

Atena herself insists on coupling the "I" to the greater picture. According to the Facebook page Free Atena the statement below was her defense in which we meet a strong voice of the "I" taking personal responsibility for her actions and laying out a rationale of why she did as she has done. So let us give the word to Atena; the excerpt below is from said Facebook page Free Atena:

"Before 2009, I used to ask myself: why some people cannot afford their food even if they try so hard, or why some little kids have to do heavy jobs, why some people should be executed by other people, I always asked myself why I am able to study in university but some people like Baha’is are denied education because of their beliefs, or why my dad always advised me not to talk about politics in university or taxi, specially about the leader! I got a lot of my answers in 2009.

If after 2009 I was present by the graves of 2009's martyrs or I joined their funeral was because that their murderers were never found and government also insulted and treated them with a disrespectful attitude, I just tried to heal their families, because I felt we are all members of one family.

If I did anything against execution it is because I think that execution is an inhumane and false punishment, doesn't matter if it's a drug trafficker's execution or a political activist. I imagined my family in their families' position and I felt we are all one family.

If I objected that why our Baha’i compatriots don't have the right to study was because I imagined myself in their position and I felt they are members of my family and each person with any nations, beliefs, and thoughts should have the same and equal rights and equality should run in society.

If I drew that cartoon of assembly representatives it was because I believe that if someone choose arts as their subject, but do not criticize the issues of their society, they have betrayed themselves, their conscience and their society."

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Mana Neyestani and must not be reproduced without his permission.

As for the drawing of Athena Farghadani, please spread it as widely as possible. Let her situation be known and the imbecility of those drawn be seen.

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