Friday, 30 January 2015

On Music

Minimalism applies not only to fashion, architecture or interior design, it also applies to music.  There are some wonderful composers that we listen to who have chosen a minimalist approach to music.  One of these is Ludovico Einaudi, an Italian composer, whose work is well known worldwide.  Einuadi’s appeal lies in his approach to music, which to my non-musical ear seems to be deprived of excessive colouring, filled with pleasant repetitions and subtle twists of action.  I especially adore his piano solos. 

Have a listen here.

Keir is fond of Yann Tiersen, best know for his soundtrack for the film Amélie.  

Keir has recently discovered K.Leimer, the Canadian born, Seattle based ambient music maker.  Leimer’s work is full of enchantment, with sonic manipulations, the use of tape loops and wonderful experimentation (or so Keir tells me).  Keir is currently making his way through Leimer’s back catalogue.  Have a look out for Leimer's work online.  Spotify and Youtube have a small selection mostly of his most recent works.  His newest album, The Grey Catalog, is a good introduction.  

Thursday, 29 January 2015

On Art History

A review of Tom Nichols’ Renaissance Art (Oneworld Publications April 1, 2010)

Everyones path is different, some know straight away what they want to study and do in life, for others it might be a longer process.  However, as long as there is a process it is not wasted time.  Personally I knew what I wanted to study, but it was not an option at that time, so I graduated with a different degree.  I then started a second degree in Law as, for a short while, I forgot my passion towards art history.  Now that my second degree is nearly over I must admit to myself that I want to keep on studying and this time I should do what I wanted to do in the first place.  The key is learn from the experiences and not to give up.

To refresh my knowledge in art's history I reached for Renaissance Art by Tom Nichols, a reader in History of Art at The University of Glasgow.  Now that I want to apply for a Postgraduate degree I have to research and refresh my knowledge and as I have a love for the Renaissance, this seems as good a place as any to start.

This little book is utterly informative, not ignorant in its context but fascinating and interesting.  It is divided into sub-chapters which are very short, that give a little breath between each chapter, a moment for contemplating the previous text.  The language used is well explained so that the reader does not feel lost in the amount of the professional terminology.  I believe that it is a read for anyone, artists, professionals, students, and even those who have no interest of pursuing art history other than a hobby.

The only minor fault I can find is that there are not enough illustrations and, unfortunately to understand some of the mentioned context one has to reach for other books or an internet search.  However, for the wealth of information that Nichols provides, it is a very small quibble to have.

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Nature in Art

Architecture rests in space, only the most skilful and sensitive architects are able to understand those relations between nature and a building.  This post will be one of the series of architecture related posts, as I collect material on Peter Zumthor, one of the few who understands the need for the bond with nature.  Swiss seem to respect the surrounding the exteriority and assimilate with the outside, does this mean they think outside the box? I would say no.  I think through respect of what we already have and understanding of the scenery in which a project is to be based, the final result cannot go wrong.  Only poorly educated architects do not consider the surrounding, and portray only a shell of what is needed, an empty shell of their own souls.  So many went wrong, but…wait, there is hope, as long there are few who do understand the necessity of combining natural with man-made.  The complete symbiosis is never possible, but all those attempts are for a reason, to create true and beautiful objects and buildings which will serve centuries and will stand as marks of our times. 
As it happened we explored in person projects of someone distinctively different form Zumthor, someone whose relation to nature was far more literal, organic and visible.  Charles Rennie Mackintosh, the most recognised Scottish, Art Nouveau architect and artist, the range of disciplines he got involved in is impressive.  His drawings and ornamentation of the monumental works create a Mackintosh Style.  Organic lines, oval shapes, softness and pastel shading only a few attributes of Charles Rennie Mackintosh.  Especially interesting is The House for an Art Lover, a building which is irregular in its form, one cannot draw an imaginary line suggesting a middle, and relating to symmetry.  Each side of the House for an Art Lover is different, a lot of soft and curved lines run along and surprise spectator who cannot believe that there is no ‘middle'.  Each element is beautifully composed and refers to the wonders of nature, one can see it as a rock formation, or an irregular tree, as if the building itself is condensed within the surrounding park and the garden. 

The Oval Room- House for an Art Lover
Image via Pinterest

Mackintosh's original plans for House for an Art Lover
Image via Pinterest

Inside of the House is as, if not more inspiring.  My favourite was The Oval Room, which in the past was designed to be a drawing room.  There is a wide window that allows a lot of light into this little space and a beautifully tiled fireplace.  The whole space seems unified and peaceful. The interior is full of contrasts, such as The Hall and Dining Room which are clad in dark wood with heavy dimmed light.  This contradicts the white interiors of The Oval Room and The Music Room, which are clad in white painted wood with lots of natural light.  To go further, The Oval Room with its minimal design clashes with the organic forms of the Music Room that is strongly decorated in organic, repetitive forms.  The House in my view is an unforgettable experience, it is a must to see inside as the architect never stops to surprise us.  There is everything there minimalism, maximalism, lightness, heaviness, darkness and brightness, organic forms and references to nature that make you feel as if you are in a different world.  This is a rare experience and a chance to touch a piece of history of the Art Nouveau era.  Mackintosh is to Scotland as Gaudi is to Spain, and I only wish his work was better taken care for as the Tea Rooms designed by him lost its freshness and it is difficult not to worry when you pass.  It is the most important matter to love and care for the national inheritance as Glasgow without the Tea Rooms and Mac Building would never be the same again.

Last thing to note is my humble opinion on the plans of rebuilding Mac Building's Library.  I dare say that no one is able to copy what was lost in the fire, a modern element should be introduced instead, something not clashing but educating and reminding of the lost past.  I wish it could happen but I fear that kitsch replacements and imitations will be introduced.  Having been shown the level of craftsmanship now on offer, it is fair to say that no one should be allowed to imitate the old Master, clearly for lack of appropriate skills in modern times and  a vast danger of being laughed at in the end. 

Thursday, 8 January 2015


Seascape Hiroshi Sugimoto

This year, the only resolution that I decided to force onto myself is to transform my life into a way that I could claim I live minimally.  Therefore, I had to consider what does minimal living might mean to me, what rules should I follow and in what areas of my life should I be incredibly strict.  I decided on two main points;
1. I should focus on buying less. 
2. I should do a clear out and take note of what I already have.

I have many more things that I want to alter during the next year, my job, finishing my studies, better time management.  However, these are things that I am sure a lot of people would like to alter.  This year I will focus on being minimal in the material sense, by clearing out my drawers, shelves and wardrobe(s).  I will focus on maximising productivity, up my pace to reach my goals and fulfil my ambitions.

Approaching Shadow 1954- Fan Ho

Dior Homme Demi-Measure 2012 Fall/Winter Lookbook
Image via Pinterest

There are lots of articles online about living a minimalist lifestyle.  Here are a selection for you to have a look at;

Here are some of my thoughts on why being minimal is important;
Minimal is lighter.
Minimal is less but of good quality so that whatever you posses can last you years.
Minimal is to take care of your possessions.
Minimal will make you feel lighter.
Minimalism is clarity.
A minimal life will help me to understand what my priorities are.

Minimalism is for the benefit of the future, the environment, and family.  It is to teach future generations to desire other things than material objects and to respect possession, to love what we have and where we are. I have been observing people who are inspired by this movement and it feels like this is the right time to try and to clear my mind. 

Image via Pinterest