I love illustrations and guache paintings but, to be honest, I don’t usually look for it like I do with other types of art. This means that when I do like an illustration, it is because it made its way into my liking by its own talented and impressiveness.
This drawings by American artist Katie Horan did just that:
From the Ladymonsters series
Another new artist who deserves all the attention and encouragement in the world is wonder painter Frank Gonzales:
From the Birds series
I love depictions of birds and his are just eye-wettingly wonderful.
Two beautiful sides of the color spectrum to make one eastethically happy.
The second American who is beyond admiration for me is the out-of-this-world performing artist/writer Miranda July.
I know I’ve written about her before but she is indeed one of the best and most intriguing voices of a generation.
The way she expresses herself is so unexpectedly interesting it gets me lost in my own thoughts and reflections. How can someone be so gifted?
There are so few surprising idealists these days I feel should pay my tribute to her.
When this post gets published, I’ll already be strolling down the streets of New York.
To celebrate my lovely trip to the Big Apple, I prepared a special series of posts about American artists I admire from all fields of the art world.
Since music is the art that appeals the most to me (it’s a visceral thing), I must start with it.
The American singer/musician/songwriter who has and will always have my utmost admiration is Fiona Apple
She’s as talented as can be and doesn’t even worry about success. She only makes music when she wants to and has a very interesting posture about the arts.
Posted in Music
Tagged Fiona Apple, NYC
I know it’s shallow and I feel like the ultimate teenager to say this but I’m fascinated by male singers in bands I admire.
In my dreams I’ve hooked up with Justin Timberlake (after he’d left N’Sync), dated Thom Yorke and was chosen by Kurt Cobain as his boyfriend. How adolescent of me.
Still, since I’m entitled to daydream for I am a Pisces, here is the list of my most recent top 5 teenage-style wannabe boyfriends from an indie rock band:
1. Oliver Sim, The xx. The voice, the looks, the words. He’d have me in a minute.
I can't give you up
2. Erlend Øye. The style, the voice, the height and the talent. Someone I’d love to share my bed and ideas with.
No better place, no other time
3. Rostam Batmanglij, from Vampire Weekend. He plays so many instruments the melody for my love is already played. Plus, he’s got that exotic look and he’s openly gay.
I can feel it coming
Isn’t it relieving when one doesn’t feel afraid of souding ridiculous?
I’m off to New York.
A new moment of my life has just began. Or is yet to begin, I’m not sure.
I’ve been feeling quite heavily the weight of the past but, fortunately, the future is around the corner.
To celebrate this renewal, I’d like to post a video by an artist I’m still discovering myself: Pantha du Prince
This music project by the German electronic music producer and DJ Henrick Weber reminds me of the sonority of Matmos at times, with a quicker beat and good feeling to it. A pinch of Erlend Øye is also felt at times.
Great discoveries lie ahead. I can feel it.
In exactly four days I’m going to New York City to spend 10 days relaxing and doing some art research.
To compensate for the rather short time I’ll have to devote to this blog, I’m preparing a series of posts on American artists I admire, of all kinds.
When I was thinking about which ones to choose, I suddenly remembered a painting I had seen years ago of a beautiful boy taking a shower depicted with pastel colors in a very poetic way. After a brief research, I found it in my art archives:
Man Taking Shower in Beverly Hills, 1964
It turns out the artist is not American, but English. David Hockney is his name and he was involved in Pop Art (thus my belief he came from the USA).
I just love this series of swimming pools, bathrooms and boys. The geometry, the choice of color and subjects sends this message of relaxation, beauty and heat I really relate to.
His most famous painting:
A Bigger Splash, 1967
If longing for summer and relaxation can be translated into images, these are the best ones.
In a previous incarnation I must have surely been either an Eskimo or a Viking. Seriously, the attraction I feel for Nordic artists is inexplicable.
I was just listening to the radio a little while ago when this strikingly beautiful tune started and I thought: this music is fantastic! When I searched for the name of the band I found out they are Swedish. How impressive.
This is Dag för Dag:
A quick anecdote. A have a friend who once went to Sweden for the sole purpose of finding inspiration for his designs. When we asked him, why Sweden?, he just said: “look at all these great acts we got from there, The Knife and the likes. There has got to be something in their water that makes them so creative.”
That’s a good question.
Day by day in Sweden
Still surfing on the waves of Brazilian music, I’d like to share my new-found appreciation for Céu, a singer whose beautiful voice and jazzy-like melodies have been enchanting many.
This is a quote I found on Céu on YouTube:
Just when you think that Brazil must surely have exhausted its supply of irresistibly jazzy, funky, sexy, soulful electro-pop singer-songwriters, someone like Céu comes along and makes you think that maybe that particular well is bottomless after all.
It is exactly this kind of Brazilian music I miss when I’m abroad:
A voice that takes me to melody heaven.
To end the special series of posts about Rio, there’s nothing more appropriate than talk about the city’s most wonderful and internationally known cultural product: its music.
There is life beyond samba and bossa nova (both of which originated in Rio) and many are those who have discovered that the mix of rhythms and cultures can be used for making good tunes.
My favorite Brazilian indie rock band comes from Rio:
Funk carioca is another type of music which has only recently gained admirors. It is a direct product of the favelas and many say it has the same impact as samba did when it first became known.
The favelas are the slums hanging from hills where most poor and black Brazilians live. Favela on Blast is a really cool initiative which explains it and shows what Funk carioca is about very well.
Anyway, is truly great for the dancefloor:
Finally, one of Brazil’s cleverest and most creative and important singers comes from Rio. Marisa Monte is unparalleled also because of the research she does on Brazilian rhythms, including them in her recordings:
As said before, Rio is all about nature. Not only because of the temperatures, but also because of the breathtakingly beautiful combination of sea, mountains and forest which is so present everywhere in the city.
In every direction you look, there will be something in the city that reminds us of mother nature, even if humanity tries to hide it by erecting such tall and unnecessary buildings.
Interestingly, this importance (ever so present) of nature and its impact on the Cariocas got me thinking about another place I know where people are truly connected to their surroundings: Iceland.
By looking at a selection of works by Icelandic artists, I couldn’t help but notice the need Icelanders have to express themselves using or showing nature.
Hrafnkell Sigurðsson is one of the Nordic contemporary photographers that really caught my attention:
from the Mirrored Landscapes series
The multitalented Ólafur Elíasson is another great example. His use of landscape and the even more famous studies using light is so inextricably connected to Icelandic nature it is impossible to miss the reference.
Lava Floor, by Elíasson
Going back to Brazil, who can ignore the impact use of color has in Brazil’s most important contemporary painter, the carioquíssima Beatriz Milhazes?
Only when one has been to Rio can one understand the source of such colorful influence.
Nature and art.
I know I have already mentioned how hot it is in Rio and I’ll do it yet again, for not knowing this can really interfere with you fun while you visit the city.
Heat will ruin your well-being if not handled well. So, how do cariocas cope with it? Simple. They just spend the hottest times of the day in the shade, most likely in wonderful city hide-aways, such as:
When there, take your time, find a nice place to seat (in the shade) and sip something ice-cold. Cariocas love mate, a type of tea made from South American herb which goes really well with Rio. A good caipirinha will also brighten your day up.
But not everything is that easy. Many fashionistas, especially those who live in tropical countries, worry about dressing stylishly when wearing little. I assure you it is possible. Another suggestion, this time by Dries van Noten:
dress (little) to impress
As a clever woman once said: “there are always ways to look good, you just have to have style”.
If you think you can handle real heat, you have got to go to Rio to put yourself to the test.
As I mentioned here, Rio de Janeiro redefines heat. It is constantly scorching there, and if you happen to be in the city during the official summer, you’ll find out you can sweat in ways you never thought possible.
Such melting temperatures have their consequences on lifestyle, fashion choices and and thus, tourism.
Some basic rules:
- avoid walking between 11am and 3pm. Everything should be done by taxi or anything equipped with an air-conditioning system;
- wear only bright colors, most specifically white;
- cotton is your best carioca friend;
- pants are forbidden – anything long becomes a burden to be worn in Rio;
- hats are in again and become a must in the tropical sun.
The combination of tailored shorts & shirt is the best choice for tropical trips. Worn with nice shoes (which must be walkable) or stylish sandals, casual becomes chic in a blink of an eye:
Julia Watanabe, spring 2010
But remember, when it’s 40°C outside, less is always and desperately more.
Rio is the most famous Brazilian city and its image is the one foreigners most often connect to the country.
The truth is, Rio de Janeiro is quite unique, it is like an entity of its own.
A very famous line in a Brazilian song about the city goes:
Rio is the hot-blooded capital of the best and the worst in Brazil.
Nonetheless, before one embarks upon a trip to the Marvelous City, there are aspects to be considered. The main ones are threefold:
1. Rio is unbelievably hot all year long (I’m talking about 40°C/104°F);
2. Rio is all about beach and nature (despite being the country’s 2nd largest city);
3. Rio is always extremely casual and shuns all kinds formalities (including efficiency).
If you plan your trip around these three very important and constantly present factors, your time there will be fun-filled and stress-free.
To remind you of how lovely the spontaneousness of the city is, here’s my all-time favorite Bossa Nova song:
To be enjoyed sippng a caipirinha.
The reason for my absence here is that I took a short trip to Rio de Janeiro, which was very rich in many senses.
I went there to solve some issues but also to relax and do some research.
I shall reveal some of the conclusions I came to over the course of this week, which will be dedicated to things connected to Rio and its overwhelmingly tropical soul.
Rio is unparalleled.