How to read art: Understanding Sculpture Shakespeare, & Shendi.

Colour, Conceptual, Connections, Philosophy
section of the branch

Side view of ‘The Branch’ by Sam Shendi

Everyone wants to understand art. Why not try to understand the song of a bird? …people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”
— Pablo Picasso

One perspective of 'The Bow'

The Bow, Sam Shendi

Sometimes we try too hard to understand what art is and what the artist is trying to say. Any art form be it; music, singing, poetry, writing, painting, drawing and sculpture, dance and even sport (if you see can go as far as to see that as an art form) is an expression from the artist. The creator. It’s their voice.

section of mermaid

How, as someone trying to appreciate another’s voice, do we try to understand what someone else is trying to say? Like with any conversation, it is best to let go of any judgements, any preconceived ideas or opposition. Easier said than done when in a discussion or a debate.  However, in the case of art. The art form isn’t directly speaking back to you in any kind of altercation, so the ability to let go should be easier.

So, with the case of sculpture if you want to understand it, you can consider these following things:

 How does it make you feel?

toy7

‘The Toy’

And any emotion can be relevant. See what comes up. Accept. Don’t try to force meaning or words. Relax and think about the sensations.

Does it evoke memories? Give you ideas, inspire you, does it open your imagination? Relax.

Shelter 2012 Sam Shendi

Let your eyes wander around it. This is why seeing sculpture, live in its three-dimensional form  is important and can help understanding. We can only appreciate or connect so much from an image.

cropped-pink-for-cover.jpg

Look at the colours or lack of colour, how do the colours impact or affect you?

Consider  the materials and whether that makes you feel a certain way?

I saw recently on the Yorkshire Sculpture Park instagram page the quote, “Sculptures often explore the edges of objects and spaces, overlapping, puncturing or touching”. What about the shape, the form, the surface. Is it smooth, soft, sharp, curvy, does it cast shadows?

cropped-kiss1.jpgHow do you interact with the piece when you walk around it?

Take your time.

Does it speak to you?  What does that question mean to you?

‘Urgency’ 2012 Sam Shendi

Art is an experience.

It is about analysing your emotional response to it and the potential for the work to open your imagination and idea up into potential a higher plane.

We might look at a Van Gough, Monet or a Rembrandt, a Da Vinci or a Michelangelo and think that we can understand the painting and sculpture because it visually makes sense to us. But go beyond what you see. How does it make you feel?

When I first saw the Mona Lisa, I was shocked by the size. When I wandered around Rothko’s large abstract paintings I was in awe. I’ve seen work that is brilliant, baffling and beguiling.

Often we don’t listen to a piece of music, whatever genre and try to understand it. Art appreciation seems a little harder, a little more perplexing. Why?

ripe 2In both there is composition, creating a scene, a mood, a form of expression.

My husband would say that it isn’t about ‘understanding’.  He thinks that unfortunately what is happening now is a generation of people who are driven by materialism and money and are spending too much time thinking about what to create and it that so much of art has become an object or a product. True artists should be simply driven by the desire to express their imagination. He says for example, “if you look at a Dali painting, what he has done is capture his imagination and introduces it to us. We have the opportunity to see inside Dali’s head”.

I went to see Othello with a very good friend of mine. The performance was modern, minimal and had a very shocking scene in the middle of it, which we were not sure needed to be there. Perhaps, we were seeing something that was inside the director’s head…eek! However, what was very noticeable to us both was that because we had studied it for one of our A-level texts we could understand it ( to a certain degree). Where as, we mused that had we not, much of it would have gone over our heads. Watching this Shakespeare performance 20 years after first reading it, seeing it, analysing and taking it apart made me realise that it is important to learn about an art form. If you do want to understand it to a higher level then it is about deconstructing it and putting it back together.

Living with an artist, a sculptor has enabled me perhaps to deconstruct my own way of thinking and put it back together. I wonder if that is essentially what marriage is asking you to do, when you live in a shared space and choose to share your life with someone different from yourself. Communication is so important.

“The biggest communication problem is we do not listen to understand.

We listen to reply.”

Susan Stiffelman.

The same in art, we look to form an opinion, we don’t look to observe and learn. In Othello, we are shown how character and emotion plays a vital role in understanding ourselves and others and how the dangers of not harnessing those emotions can them can have. We can either analyse and learn from it or put up a barrier in opening up our channels of understanding. So perhaps Picasso was right, we can’t explain art. We have to be open.

“Observe, accept, release, transform” Yung Pueblo.

looking up

 

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Baden-Baden, Pardon?

Exhibitions

We have a children’s book called ‘The parrot song’ which is a little ditty all about repetition. It mentions the German town of Baden-Baden and for a while in my ignorance I wondered why they had plucked out a town which rhymed with Pardon. I find it quite amusing because in the Arabic language there is no ‘p’ sound so words/letters in English can often me a little tricky for my husband. Baden and Pardon could almost be interchangeable. So when the offer of exhibiting in the German town of Baden-Baden came we had a rather interesting conversation as to whether it was one Baden or two. Needless to say there were numerous Baden’s and Pardon’s.

The connection with Baden-Baden was a racing event and the possibility of exhibiting ‘Troy’. The whole idea snowballed into my husband creating a body of work for a solo exhibition for Baden races. He painted prolifically in our house which was a real pleasure to participate in and be able to watch the process. He built on work we have had for several years. Layering ideas and colours, resulting in paintings like stories. I wish I had recorded the whole process really in todays digital age as it is an art in itself watching him create.

The sculptures, sleek and elegant are more like statements. He created new pieces specifically for the event adding to the already existing smaller horses head-piece ‘Mane’. So the summer was overtaken by preparing for Germany. With nerves, apprehension and excitement he flew to Frankfurt yesterday and onto Baden-Baden. Early this morning the work was arriving by van and I am sincerely praying they arrived safely, in one piece and the installation can begin. (text received all going well)

Here is a glimpse at the absolutely stunning work:

Mane

‘Mane’ by Sam Shendi

head

‘Arion’ by Sam Shendi

racer

‘Racer’ by Sam Shendi

name?

‘Rare Breed’ by Sam Shendi

whipped

‘Taking the Lead’ by Sam Shendi

Dark Horse

‘Dark Horse’ by Sam Shendi

Troy painting

‘Troy’ by Sam Shendi

on fire

‘Spirit’ by Sam Shendi

at the races

‘Once upon a time in Summer’ by Sam Shendi

namless

‘Temple’ by Sam Shendi

crusadercoming through

speed

troy baden

‘Troy’ by Sam Shendi

art at the races

poster of event starting tomorrow

His statement:

“I will be showing this collection at my exhibition at Baden Racing event in Germany from 28th of August to 6th of September. In this exhibition I am showing for the first time in my career paintings, which I have created involving horses to compliment my sculptural work. Being at the Baden racing event is a great opportunity and the perfect place to showcase this theme of work.Growing up in the countryside of Egypt I was surrounded by all kinds of animals in particular horses has influenced me. Not only as a creature but mainly the form and shape fascinated me. How it moves, the muscles and the harmony of the body whilst at speed and stationary. Riding horses in my culture is a natural thing there is no training for it. I believe being an Egyptian that I am a natural rider. The experience of riding has made me feel the body movement of the horse and the communication between the horse’s body and mine.At the faculty of Fine Art in Cairo I chose to be a sculptor, I never used horses as a subject as most of the practice was in the classical realism of human figures. However, when I look back at my sketchbook, every book has one or two drawings of horses. I wouldn’t describe myself as a painter; the prominence of my practice is in sculpting. Although, when I choose to paint the only thing, which comes to mind, are horses. I feel like my hand wills the brush beyond my control to paint them.

My usual sculptural practice is using steel and stainless steel using folding and welding techniques to create minimalistic sculptures to create my concepts. In 2013 I created an unusual piece, slightly different from my usual line of work. I had some material and saw a horse within so I tried to carve it out. I had no real purpose for creating it. The materials and space limited the size I could go to but my intention wasn’t for a full size horse. After several months of carving I realized I was creating my own version of a horse. This prompted the start of a collection and I am exhibiting them all together for the first time. My work reflects experience and memories that most of us share. Using the horse as a subject is a tool to highlight the universal concept to point out the strength within us, the harmony of creation of our body and the beauty within.”

Memories are made of this

Colour, Soul searching

So many things to write about from the past

Perhaps though best

to sit and look and reflect

with prompts of words
like
Form,  Figure, Shadows, Style,

Signatures, interpretation, Calligraphy,

Titles, human, movement, body and more

viewing from different angles to exploreMemories 2

memories 3

memories 4

memories 8

‘MEMORIES’ by Sam Shendi, 2015

Language for the mind in recalling

Thoughts for the soul in remembering

Knowledge for the brain in retaining

Ideas for the spirit in recollection

Prayer for the body in remembrance

Memories are made of this

memories 5 memories 6 memories 7

Doubts and dreams.

Exhibitions, Galleries

“I don’t believe anyone ever suspects how completely unsure I am of my work and myself and what tortures of self-doubting the doubt of others has always given me.” ― Tennessee Williams

All artists have self doubts.

My husband often has his doubts and uncertainties simultaneously with a very clear dream and extraordinarily clear talent. The moment of finding his style was a pivotal point. Not in no longer having those doubting moments but more determined.

It is amazing how just taking a moment to stop and observe can help you clear your mind. As I ate my particularly prepared porridge and looked out the window, I captured a moment. A bird perched in a tree finding shelter from the wind. How much protection it found? I wondered, as the tree danced with the movement of the strong gusts on this cold and blustery January morning.

Even within language we may not all be visualising the same thing. If we say ‘tree’, what type of tree is it. What are you thinking of? A willow drooping low and forlorn, a palm reaching energetically tall, a busy evergreen, a strong oak with branches stretching outwards. Is it a tree made out ladies legs? What concept do we have in our own mind’s eye.

bird branch

‘The Branch’ will be shown at FLUX , The Rag Factory. London. FEB 18th-22nd

It is easy to think of trees as strong and immoveable. As the numerous branches move like dancing arms outside it makes me understand that nothing remains the same. Everything is moving, flowing, shaking, changing.

I had a big writers wobble the other day after reading my brother’s newly formed blog. I had a sudden large wave of self-doubt as I compared my own skills with his, unfavourably. Immediately seeing his confident youthful writing style as superior to my own rather than thinking that it is just a different way of writing.

sketch doubts

‘A sketch’ by Sam Shendi

Perhaps a tiny slip of the deadly envy creeped in or a little bit of sibling rivalry but it didn’t last long. I don’t harbour bad and unnecessary feelings for long. Especially towards my younger brother to whom I am maternally overprotective of. I used it positively. It made me realise that I had to focus on my own style and my own direction.

Observing nature helped too, the bird in the tree. We all have moments where we doubt ourselves. The wind shakes the branches of our spirit a little. It makes us grow and develop. My brother who is writing about his recent travels, tells me he hasn’t changed. People don’t change. Perhaps travel doesn’t change us. I think though, if the experience doesn’t change us then time will. Travelling inwardly to the depths of our soul should change us. If we want to change the world then we have to start with ourselves.

with a bird

‘Conversation with a bird’ by Sam Shendi

I have read lots of beautifully brilliantly written blogs over the last four years, here are 8 I would recommend:

http://outsideairblog.com/                             https://knowthesphere.wordpress.com/

http://winterowls.com/                                  https://pathsofthespirit.wordpress.com/

https://ittosjournal.wordpress.com/              http://wharnsby.com/

https://haywardhelen.wordpress.com/         https://emmasouthlondon.wordpress.com/

“The greater the artist, the greater the doubt. Perfect confidence is granted to the less talented as a consolation prize.”- Robert Hughes. Perhaps. I guess it is one of those emotions, it is only human. ‘Only Human’ my husband’s exhibition at Cartwright Hall will end on 23rd February. So one more month to go and view it.

So my mantra for this month. Stop doubting and start daring to dream.

sketchbooks display

‘Sketchbooks’ on display at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

cellar gallery

‘Only Human’ exhibition at Cartwright Hall Art Gallery

MIME

Colour, Egyptian, Exhibitions, Galleries, Philosophy, Steel
'MIME'

‘MIME’

'MIME'

‘MIME’

It makes me smile, mainly because for ages my husband was calling it Mim, not knowing that little rule that when there is an ‘e’ the ‘i’ becomes ‘eye’. I was a bit unsure of this piece at first. I asked him.’Why make a sculpture of a mime artist?’ ‘What is the point?’. I felt that wIth most of his work I could understand the point. He explained that they had always fascinated him, the makeup, the dress code. He showed me some fantastic images you can see and I started to understand. Étienne Decroux, explored and developed the possibilities of mime and developed corporeal mime into a highly sculptural form, taking it outside of the realms of naturalism. My husband wanted to make a sculptural dedication in a way, in his style. A style which is become stronger. The geometric shapes and Egyptian style very dominate in this piece.

'MIME'

‘MIME’

Last week my husband’s sister stayed with us for a week for christmas. It was lovely to have the sounds and tastes of Egypt in the house. She brought lots of well liked and missed Egyptian treats and the sound of the arabic and egyptian language and laughter filled our house. It always gives me a window into another world and another dimension to my husband to hear him speak in his mother-tounge. Watching them made me think about this piece a bit more, how communication is not just with the tongue but with gestures. I often think I am understanding a conversation now, my ear is in tune and I understand some words but I have a way to go before I can grasp it completely.

It is always fascinating to learn something new, discover something new. When Art can challenge the way you think then I think that makes all the difference. This piece will be on show from February for four weeks at The Curious Duke.