ART BEAT ISSUE 01>>June 2011>>www.artbeat.ae
UAE’s GRAFFITI ART SCENE SHARJAH BIENNIAL 10
SIMON COATES STEPHEN EMOND POPULATION FOUR 1
A R T I S E V E R Y T H I N G ! 3
CONTENT Comic Design
Science Meets Art 8 Artitst perspective between science & art
Interview with graphic novelist Stephen Emond
Overview of events during Sharjah Biennial 10
Featuring interviews with artists from SIKKA fair 2011
24 FUN ART Guess who?
Interview with Population Four
STREET ART 10
Exploring the UAEâ€™s Graffiti art scene
YOUR ART CORNER
7 Steps on sketching Animals
Thirty Seconds to Mars band performs live in Abu Dhabi
EDITORIAL ARTBEAT Editor Neha Kalvani Content Writer Neha Kalvani Chief Designer Neha Kalvani Illustration Neha Kalvani Photographer Neha Kalvani Printing Resolution Graphic Center P.O Box 1234, Dubai United Arab Emirates Editorial: +97104345 6789 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org Website: www.artbeat.ae Copyright (c) 2011 by ARTBEAT LLC all rights reserved reproduction in whole or in part without permission is prohibited.
Renowned English sculptor and artist, Henry Moore, once said “There’s no retirement for an artist, it’s your way of living so there’s no end to it.” Artbeat is your everyday art magazine with a difference as it believes everyone is an artist at heart and the need to cater to their interests and passions is what we aim to fulfil. That said, here’s a beat that we want art enthusiasts to familiarize with as it’s a pulse that will stick as you read on. Our first issue marks an amazing array of interviews with international artists, novelists and musicians. An overview of special openings, exhibitions, workshops that have taken place in the Middle East over the past few months. Intriguing reviews with upcoming bands along with the latest concert buzz in Abu Dhabi caused by 30 seconds to Mars. A special feature on the graffiti art scene in the Middle East with more emphasis on the Emirates is a definite eye opener as it interviews graffiti artists and photographers who’ve been an intricate part of the scene for more than five to ten years. For those budding artists who wish to pick up their skills we have regular tutorials on a variety of topics that always need that polishing or brushing up. This week we concentrate on sketching animals, illustrated in easy seven steps by our very own inhouse artist. Furthermore, Artbeat has also opened an art corner to enable upcoming artists to share and promote their work. So please do email your contributions to email@example.com or log on to www.artbeat.ae for more information. Yours Artistically, Neha Kalvani Editor
SCIENCE MEETS ART By Neha Kalvani
The Morphospace of the Aftermind
TOBIAS COLLIER www.tobiascollier.com
Art and science are just labels used to describe many many diverse activities...but at best they are both creative endeavours.”
Science and technology are elements heavily imbued with art. When science meets art, a humanized version is radiated instead of its mechanical and robotic self. If you think about it every field today can be directly or indirectly associated with art. Technology and art are interlaced as each depend on one another in order to make viewers experience art in its most convenient form. Talking to London based artist and a recent resident at Al Bastakiya, Dubai, Tobias Collier has been incorporating science in art for over thirteen years giving us an insight on how indifferent these two fields are. “I see very little difference between the two fields. They are just labels used to describe many many diverse activities...but at best they are both creative endeavours. I am personally interested in the structure or method that scientists prescribe themselves when conducting a research program. “I take inspiration from these often differing methodologies and apply them to the production of art. I see art production as a program of research... looking at what it is to create, and how one can pursue a pre-planned way of being creative,” said Collier as he further entailed that he tries not to make assumptions about what either art or science are, or indeed the supposed distinction between them. An ideal example of this amalgamation of science in art is Colliers, latest piece, “The Morphospace of the Aftermind” which he finished in 2010. “It is a work that has been ongoing for many years, although the actual drawing of the chart only took a couple of weeks. I had the paper on my studio wall and just started making notes, sticking pictures and drawing lines on it. It depicts a very specific approach to research as outlined by the Hungarian mathematician Imre Lakatos,” explained Collier. He was very critical of the conventional approach to study being, as he saw it, too inductive. That is inducing a truth simply by repeated observation of a phenomena.”
Evidently seen in the drawing, Collier recollects Lakatos’ suggestions of how one should have a core hypothesis (some statement about the world) which always remains unchanged, and instead surrounds itself by an auxiliary belt of questions designed to inform the core and drive the research forward. Collier’s says that his drawing is a graphic depiction of this method combined with another theory, that of morphospace. To put it simply, he combines and examines theories in a pictorial way allowing the ideas to literally define the image. As he draws closer to completion he removes all the text leaving the structure alone behind. It is amazing how artists like Collier imbibe their scientific methodologies into the process of art making. Collier explains he employs this by taking up approaches from artists like the aforementioned inductivist and Lakatosian methodologies as well as Karl Popper who suggested that “science was only valid if it could be proved wrong...what we call falsification”. Collier finds this idea fertile and justifies himself by reasoning that “if you work in an area that allows for the potential for what you do to be deemed ‘not art’ that seems to clearly leave you the contra potential to indeed make art, far better odds than in most approaches, perhaps.” When asked if his work was an attempt to express his or the rest of mankind’s understanding of the universe, Collier replied that it ultimately is in some ways just the remains of his efforts to affirm his own existence through the act of being creative, but also it’s ofcourse a journey into the meta-galactic. “Human societies have always defined themselves by their relationship to the idea of outer space, we are no different, and that’s why I consider this to be the most important of subjects for the artist.” With science and art rapidly evolving side by side, meshing into one another as they aim to progress and further develop their fields, who knows what it will unveil in the near future. 9 ART AND TECHNOLOGY I 9
UAE’s Graffiti Art Scene
Photo Credit: Megna Kalvani
Like anywhere in the world, Middle East is no exception when it comes to graffiti being an act of vandalism, criminal offence and in some cases can even lead to deportation from the country for expatriate offenders. Dubai, you would think would be one of the last places to find such an art, but over the years the city has built a unique range of graffiti art works that are largely inconspicuous or concealed within the overly-organised city. Photographer Jalal Abuthina recently launched a book “District 333: Beyond the Surface” after having spent approximately seven months in 2010 trying to source and document graffiti throughout the entire city. He also found the Al Badaa neighbourhood (aka District 333) to be a distinctly unique area in Dubai for several reasons that have made it the backdrop for his project. Jalal points out that ‘with the exception of the old neighbourhoods in Dubai and the new wave of commissioned live graffiti events, the art form usually only exists through quotes, simple pictures, and anything else that takes a very short period of time to compose and create. At the expense of getting caught by the authorities, many are also left anonymous with no signatures or
“tags” left by their creators/authors. Ironically, Jalal finds that the areas in the city however contain the greatest amount of graffiti (and even the most politically inclined, poetic and explicit forms of it) are those where the majority of the Dubai police force live and call home. Some of these neighbourhoods (such as Satwa, Rashidiya, and Karama) are amongst the oldest neighbourhoods in the city. The author further entails, “just like the graffiti scattered throughout it, Al Badaa is itself somewhat hidden. The district rests between the more popularly known areas of Satwa and Jumeirah 1 and, because of its relatively small size and location, it is commonly assumed to be a part of one of these two greater areas,” “Al Badaa is also one of the very few districts of the city where European and Arab expatriate families live in recently developed villa compounds that, in some parts, are located (literally) across the road from an Emirati freej (or neighborhood) that is well over 30 years old. A large segment of the district is also home to many blue collar workers of Dubai, who are a mix mostly of Indian, Pakistani and Filipino individuals and families” said Jalal.
Middle East Graffiti Online UAE based website, camelbombing.com was initiated in February 2011 and focuses on graffiti in the Middle East. Dfekt (pronounced as defect), is the tag name of the founder of camelbombing.com said that there no real inspiration that started it and the name given to the portal is self-explanatory as, ‘bombing’ is graffiti terminology, and slapping the word ‘camel’ on the front made it relevant to the Middle East moreover ‘it’s an ‘awesome name.’ Camelbombing also ventures out to include India among a total of six other countries largely because it is in that region of the world and nobody else really covers that scene. The site has also begun to cover other places like Africa and Tunisia. Having connections all around the region, it seems easier to update the graffiti website as readers and artists are able to submit pictures and content via email and social media websites. “Every artist is different and every region has its own unique ‘style’, if you look at styles from Europe, and compare them to American they are completely different, so it’s really just going to eventually develop
into its own style in my opinion,” said Dfekt. Exposed to a diverse amount of expression and potential seen in various graffiti all around the Middle East, Dfekt understands “everyone who does graffiti does it for a reason, be it fame, hate, anger or simply to say they exist amongst many other reasons,” Graffiti has a played a vital role in light with the recent revolutions, as a lot of graffiti surfaced during the protests, mainly in Egypt and Libya, there was also a big news story of a graffiti artists who was killed shortly after painting a mural in Libya during the revolutions. Camelbombing is also associated with Sandblast magazine which will be the first graffiti publication in the UAE. The small and talented editorial team are working on the soon to be published content out in July 2011. “From what we understand it is the first graffiti magazine in the Middle East in general and for sure one of the first magazines to actually cover the scene in depth, but we know the second we make those claims someone will come out of nowhere and claim their 30 pieces of A4 paper stapled together was the first magazine” said Dfekt. By Neha Kalvani
Cover of the first issue of UAE’s upcoming graffiti magazine, Sandblast. The publication is due to release in July 2011 in association with camelbombing.com
Everyone who does graffiti does it for a reason, be it fame, hate, anger or simply to say they exist amongst many other reasons.â€?
Founder of Camelbombing.com
Photo Credit: Neha Kalvani
Syaone is a British graffiti artist residing in the Emirates for the last five years. Starting off at a tender age of fifteen, art attracted the writer like a bee to a hive, “art was the only thing that interested me at school so it seemed logical progression at the time,” said Sya. “I began doing graffiti around 1989 after seeing a kid at school copying stuff out of a Spray Can Art book. Wondering why he was copying, I decided to do my own stuff. Then I met another guy from Slough and we used to go off up to London and paint and check out all the new work up there.” With fifteen years of graffiti writing up his sleeve, Syaone has spent most of his time in London, Brighton, Devon and travelling the world with work. He also confesses that he took a break from it for about six years to concentrate on work but couldn’t seal it out completely for his love for the art persuaded him to keep involved with sketches or just checking out news works in and around London from time to time. “With my graffiti work it’s just for the enjoyment of getting out there and creating something for myself and anyone else who’s interested. I do it because I want to and for the enjoyment of painting my name and creating art. It’s my passion and I love it. It’s a release.” Sya describes his style as ‘lazy’. “I like my work to be smooth and rounded, nothing to complex just bright colours, simple fills and an easy on the eye outlines. Flop style I guess the style is. Just sitting there with no dramas.” Inspired by influential graffiti artists like late Dondi White who he he describes as ‘way ahead of his time’; Astek from London whose style is just so smooth, Dreph from Manchester who brings in a new style and Bow, his partner who’s part of many projects and are said to be planning alot more things in the future. Moreover, Sia finds any of the writers in the UAE an inspiration. “I have lived and travelled to many places and have always
stuck a tag or a little piece in nearly every place I have visited. Every place is different be it people, situations that you need to get in to be able to paint. It’s different every time.” “I don’t do anything illegal any more, been there done that.” said Sya who’s had a chunk of crazy and exciting adventures in the past that he hopes to share with his grandchildren some day. Stories that involve being bitten by dogs, crazy chases, hiding in hedges for hours on end are only a few as he recalls how the police who once sat and watched him paint for two hours then asked him to put their names up. When asked what he thought of the UAE street art scene, Sya replied that it was “getting better by the day. There so many talented guys and girls here that paint in all forms of street art. Be it the OFW crew with Bonz, Choly, Frez etc up to Bow and her stencil work.” “The scene will improve once people understand that it’s not all about the vandalism but an art, a free art, if you will. We don’t advertise anything but our names and our crews, it’s not rammed down anyone’s throat like the huge billboards all over the highways. It’s just a different art form that needs time to grow here.” Sya is currently working on new pieces and ideas with Bow and increasing his style a bit more. He plans on putting a few little live painting events in the pipeline and even the possibility of a graff jam here in Dubai. He also is keen on “travelling to a few far flung places with the big chance to paint some good spots.” Sya’s message to the new generation of graffiti artists is “don’t do it because you think it’s fashionable” followed by “Practice, Practice Practice, don’t go out there thinking that you are the best and try and burn all other works, do it because you have the passion to create something.” He also emphasises that artists should start by keeping it simple and then progress.
Snapshots of various Syaone’s and Bow’s graffiti tags found in Dubai Festival City, United Arab Emirates.
I do it because I want to and for the enjoyment of painting my name and creating art. Itâ€™s my passion and I love it.
CLOSER LOOK AT COMIC DESIGN Article and photographs by Neha Kalvani
Pictures have their own unique way of communicating a story to you than mere words. Do you still reminisce those days as a young kid, where waiting for the next issue of Superman or Phantom seemed ages away. Visiting bookstores, standing in queues filled with spasms of eagerness to grab your very own copy of your favourite illustration was one among a few things we all did as a youngster. Superman, Spiderman, Phantom, Mandrake the Magician, X-men, Archie, Tinkle all have one thing in common that they are popularly read with colourful, catchy imagery known as â€˜comicsâ€™. Comics are a spectacular art in itselfthe style, the layout, the alignment and placements are all distinct characteristics that make a reading a comic such a unique experience. The combination of drawing and text enable readers to gracefully and eagerly read each page. This traditional method is often compared and related to storyboarding, but because design comics include one or more characters in the story, many designers find comic strips to act as a better medium to
easily communicate user experiences. To any comic it may be already evident how narrative in nature it is for one comic can only tell a single story, and that story is usually told sequentially that have to be followed like a flowchart. Another characteristic that comics feature are their seeming lack of formality. Graphic narratives such as these have been around since the Ancient Egyptians or even earlier if you count cave paintings. Comic books are a flourishing commercial art form and many organizations find comics useful in developing and communicating designs for products. Furthermore, Comics are becoming recognized as an effective means of communicating difficult concepts to diverse audiencesâ€”even in the most staid corporate environments and with the most serious topics.The next few pages, feature an exclusive interview with renowned graphic novelist and comic artist, Stephen Emond who shares his intriguing experiences while working on his comic series, Emo Boy and graphics in his recently published books, Happyface and Winter Town.
The sizes and shapes of the panels have never been important to my stories. It has always been the words and images that drew me in, kind of like watching a movie.â€? - Jaime Hernandez Co-creator of the black & white independent comic Love and Rockets. It was one of the first comics in the alternative comics revolution of the 1980s.
Stephen Emond is a part-time superhero but more importantly he is the creator/writer/artist of young adult novels HAPPYFACE and WINTER TOWN, as well as the comic book series EMO BOY. The American artist grew up and still resides in Connecticut.
Stephen Emond Interview with
By Neha Kalvani
1. What inspired or triggered you to work on your first graphic novel, Happyface? It was really an opportunity that had landed in my lap and was completely unexpected. It wasn’t long after I’d wrapped up my comic book series Emo Boy that I ran into my future editor at Little, Brown Books for Young Readers. She’s now a full-on editor with her own list of books but at that moment in time, she was an assistant editor looking for projects and I was an out-of-work artist and writer. She’d read Emo Boy and asked if I had any ideas for a Young Adult novel, and we went through my lists of ideas together and decided Happyface was an intriguing character worth pursuing. 2. You mentioned in one of your interviews that the book is more or less based on your life, do these characters resemble the real ones? This is something I struggle with. I don’t consider any of my books or stories to be autobiographical, but they are very personal stories, especially Happyface and my next book Winter Town. I consider each character to be a part of myself that I’m trying to express, but details from my own life and from people around me do find their way into my stories. Because of that, it’s easy to assume all the stuff I make up in my head is somehow real. It’s really a big mix of my experiences, things I’ve heard about, influences, and my own imagination. And that’s not just for the protagonist, but really for all of the characters. 3. Could you share your experience of how you balanced illustrations and text? Did you find it hard keeping that control/ balance while making sure none of each goes overboard? This was a very gradual process. Initially I was not at all interested in using art, having just finished my Emo Boy comics. When I first started, I was excited by the challenge of writing something entirely in prose. As the project evolved, though, my editor Connie kept bringing the idea that we aren’t using all of my talents, and I eventually gave in and decided to see how it would work with art.
Early on, I wanted it to look like a sketchbook, complete with scribbles in margins, pages of only art, random non-storyrelated musings, etc. But we quickly learned that anything that diverted from the story just became a distraction. Finding the right balance was difficult, and then maintaining that balance was even more difficult. For instance, the book up until about October or so was done pre-contract, and I was drawing and writing it simultaneously, page by page. Once we used that much to secure a deal, I wrote the rest of the book as prose, and later adapted it into the art/writing hybrid style. What I found was that when I thought I was all done, there was a huge difference in the amount of art. The latter half wasn’t nearly as art-heavy as the early chapters. I ended up going back for a second pass to make sure it felt even, and added a lot of new art. 4. When you worked on Happyface, did you work on the graphics first matching it to the text; or vice-versa? A brief on how you worked during the course of book? I think I touched on this, but at first I was very much focused on the art, and sketching out thumbnail versions of each page to see where the art would be. The problem we encountered is that with all the art in place, it was very difficult to edit the text. When we wanted to add a paragraph or delete a sentence, all the art had to be moved around and re-thought out. So once we had the okay to write the rest of the book, I wrote it all out as prose, with the idea that we’ll add in art once it’s all approved and final. It was a long process. 5. What was the best and worst ‘Happyface’ experience? This might not seem fair, but there were a lot of great experiences and I can’t think of much negativity. I was very lucky to have things go so smoothly. Meeting and working with my editor was a blessing, because she is amazing. Getting to write something so personal and have people react so favorably to it was incredible. The first review I got was from Publisher’s Weekly, and it was a glowing starred review. I was on cloud nine for weeks after that!
I didn’t encounter any issues in the editing process, I didn’t get any really terrible reviews. It was really a positive experience from start to finish! If anything was a bad experience, it was the nearly a year-long length of time between finishing Happyface and starting Winter Town that was hard. I wish I could just go from project to project but it takes time to come up with something I’m really invested in. 6. As you worked on Happyface, did you find it comparatively different from your other works? Yes, this was my first time writing strictly in prose, and I had no idea if I could even do it or not. I’m so used to just drawing everything in a scene, that when I had to explain it and try to write descriptively, it was very difficult. Even now, my first-pass chapters tend to be incredibly short. I seem to be very interested in dialogue and brief set up. On second and third drafts I add in what the characters are doing, what they are thinking, what’s happening around them, what things feel like, smell like, look like. Comic writing and movie scripting is much faster, though they all take an equal amount of forethought and planning. 7. What’s in store for your fans in the future? Is there any relation between Winter Town and Happyface? Well, Happyface will be out in paperback in June, so that’s pretty exciting. It’s also out in Germany now, which is neat for me. This December my second book, Winter Town will be out. I’ve spent so much time with it that I’m nervous and excited for it to be out in the world. I have no idea what people are going to think. It’s a personal, slice-of-life story like Happyface, but I think it’s a little quieter, maybe more somber. It takes place in 2 weeks instead of a full year, and mostly revolves around two characters, a boy and a girl. The story and the characters all felt so real in my head, I feel like i lived with them for a year or two and I’m hoping that feeling will translate to readers. I hope that by the end of the book you’re going to want to give each character a big hug and ask them not to leave. 8. Can readers expect a second instalment to Happyface? I get asked a lot if there will be a Happyface 2, I think in this current era there are so many series and sequels in books and movies that it’s almost a given that if you like something, there’s more around the corner. But Happyface was written with a very clear arc. He’s a boy that needs to learn to deal with his problems and accept who he is, and by the end of the book he’s doing that. I don’t feel it really needs a sequel, although I do have a full background story in place for Gretchen. She was a very deep character that frequently threatened to overshadow Happyface’s own journey, so I often had to tone down her story or just hint at things she is dealing with. There’s a whole background for her I did not get to put in Happyface and a reason she finds herself attracted to him, but I don’t know if that story will ever get told!
9. What are your top three art tools that you can’t live without? I’m a sketchbook fiend, anywhere I go I look for sketchbooks. I love especially bright and smooth paper that I can ink on without any bleeding. Second, I’ve become addicted to the Pentel Pocketbrush. It’s just as good as an inking brush, but no need for the messy ink! I guess third would be any of my old standbys, pencils of varying softness, bristol board, and of course photoshop. 10. What or who continues to influence or inspire your work? I’m always finding new influences, from old comic strips and comic books to movies and anime and manga. I think most of my inspiration to write the personal stories I write though comes from inside, I think writing and other creative endeavors are just a great outlet and a chance to be the person you feel like inside but maybe don’t get to act out as too often. I’ve always been reserved and quiet, and books and comics are almost a second life for me, it’s another place for me to just be me. 11. Like Emoboy, any plans of translating Happyface onto the big screen? It would definitely make a good teen watch, have you considered it? Oh, I’d love to, but sadly it’s not up to me. I had a great experience with Emo Boy, it hasn’t been made yet but working with so many creative people was so much fun. I’d love for any of my stuff to be made into a movie, I love movies. I could always end up writing something for the screen in the future but I feel I have more control with printed media and am enjoying my time writing books for now. 12. What advice would you give upcoming artists? Anyone that wants to write or draw, just love doing it. I know too many people that want to be writers or artists but they don’t do the work, they don’t enjoy the process. You have to love doing it, and do it for the fun of it, not to get published or make money. Doing it makes you get better, and getting better is what makes you ready for publication. Before I did Emo Boy I did a comic strip called ‘Steverino’ for years and years, and it was my form of expression, it was something I loved doing and I did it for free and gave it out. But that process taught me all I needed to make Emo Boy and writing Emo Boy taught me all I needed to write the movie version and Happyface. But first you have to really love doing it because it’s not a get-rich-quick field! 13. Have you ever visited the Middle East? Specifically, Dubai by any chance? Or perhaps plan to? I hate to admit this but I’ve never even left the US! I’d love to travel and hope as my career continues I get a chance to visit everywhere in the world.
Population Interview with
By Neha Kalvani
First off, we at Artbeat would like to congratulate the band on your new music video, “This Town Will Drag You Down,” for it looks and sounds absolutely fantastic and moreover, it has received a sensational response, how has the experience been so far? Thank you very much! Absolutely awesome, but incredibly tiring. It was cool being able to shoot it on the big stage at 53 degrees, and the guys from Mycho (who filmed it) were really professional and made it easy for us to just get on with it. It’s kind of weird having to listen to your own song so much, but it’s ended up worth it. The final result was everything we’d hoped for and we’re really happy with it. 2. Already a month into the New Year and you’ve already had two gigs on your list (The Abbey Inn, Oldham on 21st Jan and The Soundhouse, Bolton on 22nd Jan) do you have any band rituals before going on stage? We don’t really have any rituals but we’ve invented some pretty odd games to kill time between sound-checks. Also, we like to hunt out any nearby fried chicken restaurants for pregig snacks. 3. What is your favourite song to perform live? Probably one of our newer songs, called ‘You Can’t Take Us Anywhere’. It’s easy to rock out to and the lyrics basically sum up what we are. 4. What/Who inspires you as a band? Does it influence your music? A fear of apathy. We see a lot of people who don’t really try, and who moan about not going anywhere. We understand how hard you have to work to get anywhere, and we don’t want to fall into a routine of not doing anything and becoming a band that goes nowhere. We’d like to look back in 5 years and say “at least we tried”. 5. If you could work or collaborate with anyone in the music industry who would it be? John Williams. A rock opera of Jurassic Park is exactly what the world needs, it just doesn’t know it. 6. What do you reckon has been your best gig? We haven’t done it yet! We always look to improve. That’s not to say we haven’t had some really fun shows and met tonnes of cool people along the way though. 7. And your worst? One of the problems with being an unsigned band is that you’ve no choice but to occasionally play bad gigs. But you’ve got to take the bad with the good. Give us a room to play in with only five people watching and we’ll still give it our all. Sometimes good things can come from what seemed to be a bad gig; you never know who could be watching!
8. One thing your fans don’t know about you but you want them to know? We’d like to bring to the attention of the public that our guitarist Dave is a real life werewolf. So if we ever have to pull out of a gig, it’s probably because it’s a full moon. 9. As a band, do you reckon it to be about playing for the music, or does fame and fortune play a part? Being in a band for the fame and fortune is a big statement to make. We’d love to be able to make a comfortable living out of what we do, and hopefully our music can take us there. It’s hard work having to work a day job and be in a band trying to make it. 10. If you where to give our readers advice about starting a band what would it be? If you’re going to start a serious band, be prepared to put a lot of time and money into it. There’s a lot of fun to be had though, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. 11. What are your plans for the rest of the year? Any new releases? In other words, what should Population fans look forward to this year? Currently doing some demos for a new album which we plan on releasing this year. After that, loads more gigs and hopefully just to keep the ball rolling on to bigger and better things.
Give us a room to play in with only five people watching and we’ll still give it our all.” 27
music review (C) abc for Giants official album cover
By Neha Kalvani
Genre: Alternate Rock/Pronk/Jazz Record Label: Pocket Zoo (DIY) Band Members: Tommy The Cat - Vocals & Guitar Lorin Zu - Vocals & Guitar Jazz Cool - Guitar Teflon Tim - Bass Matt The Daddy - Drums
ABC for GIANTS, previously known as ‘The World Famous Camel Tamers’ are an English band from Chester who recently regrouped in 2009 to form a five member band that mix distinct forms of alternate rock, pronk and jazz. ABC for GIANTS have self produced their EP, ‘Hipscotch’ which was finalised after a number of studio sessions in Leeds University and includes four of the first songs written by the band. If you’re a new listener to ABC for GIANTS, one of the first things you will note are the typical elements of pronk, rapid key changes, whole tune and other unusual scales whilst still keeping therock element of punk music. At first, you maybe unsure of what you’re listening to but as you listen on, the music along with strong vocals by Tommy The Cat and Loring Zu reel you in like a fish attracted to bait. Not to mention, Jazz Cool on the guitar, Teflon Tim on the Bassand Matt the Daddy on the drums who add to the catch. The band have taken it up a notch since 2010, with ‘Slave on no 28 I PERFORMED ART
Wage’ being one of the four EP’s released this 2011. ‘Slave on no Wage’ is an apt title for this almost 7 minute track as it takes you on a rollercoaster of musical moods and dark emotions. ‘Born Backwards (and Pulling)’ really does sound like it’s on fast rewind as its full of sheer frenetic energy that makes you feel like you’re on one of those crazy but FUN carousel rides. ‘A Sly Comment on Not Existing’ takes the cake with its eccentric yet strong instrumental and vocals that easily makes any listener tap away to this track. ‘In the Dark’, is the bands fourth and final track on the Hipscotch EP that was only just completed and uploaded for downloading pleasure, two days ago. ‘In the Dark’ is a 6.34 minute track that may feel like two songs swathed together as it gives way to a flail yet inviting chaos. Some of their other tracks from their first album, Babble (2010) include Rat On Land, Misfortune and Terror, Countess of Blaggard , Worms etc. At times, there are simply too many twists and turns of style to get a firm grasp of a song; but if you’re patient you will soon fall in love with ABC for GIANTS, and it will be worth it as you soon realize that the band evidently masks their music with imagination, emotion and passion that I imagine all five band members loved making.
Photo Credit: Neha Kalvani
Live in Abu Dhabi
Concert Review By Neha Kalvani
The Los Angeles trio, Jared and Shannon Leto, Tomo Miličević and not to forget the touring members Tim Kelleher and Braxton Olita rocked Yas Island in Abu Dhabi on 11th March 2011. 30 Seconds to Mars was voted ‘Best International Band’ at the 2010 Kerrang awards, the American three piece have been rocking packed arenas around the world and will be bringing their ‘This is Mars’ album tour show to the Capital. Renowned for their electronic, alternative, indie rock sound the show was called to be a soldout, weeks before the scheduled date. Yas Island housed an estimate of five thousand die-hard, screaming and loyal 30 Seconds to Mars fans in the Middle East on the night of the performance. Kicking off at 9.00 pm, the one and half hour show allowed a
riveting performance by the band as they sang a total of 13 tracks from their three albums, ‘30 S econds to Mars’, ‘A Beautiful Lie’ and ‘This is War’ released so far. Opened the concert with a crowds favourite, track form their first album and what so happens to be the name of their world tour ‘Echelon’. This performance was followed by some of their big tracks, ‘The Kill’, ‘Hurricane’, ‘This is War’, ‘ Beautiful Lie’ and ‘Closer to the edge’. The band closed the concert with ‘Kings and Queens’ calling upon lucky twenty fans on stage but that soon turned into fifty as fans got excited, knocking down barriers as nothing seemed to stop them to get to Leto’s invite. Half way through the concert he called up an eight year old Emirati boy, to honour the host country, United Arab Emirates. While the group’s members haven’t even confirmed that they’ll make another album, there are plenty of tour dates in 2011 to keep fans satiated. PERFORMED ART I 29
MARCH 12-21 2011
IKKA Art Fair featred artworks by upcoming Emirati and UAE-based artists, galleries, and institutions that were open for the public from March 12 to 21, 2011. The fair was hosted by the Dubai Culture & Arts Authority (Dubai Culture) at Al Bastakiya, one of the vibrant centres of Dubai’s cultural activities and artistic heritage. T he exhibition aimed at fostering and promoting Emirati artistic content creation, and establishing a platform for these artists to present their works to a wider audience and drive original content creation by inspiring the creative community. The Sikka Art Fair was held in what is unquestionably regarded as the ‘highest point in the art calendar’ of Dubai, which brought together artists from around the world for active dialogue and interaction with the local community. SIKKA, named after the alleys in a neighbourhood, is the journey of undiscovered art, the physical route where many artistic inspirations were showcased to challenge the routes of art and culture. The Sikka Art Fair has nurtured an appreciation for visual arts through hands-on workshops as well as the exchange of ideas through interactive sessions with renowned artists. By Neha Kalvani
Photo Credits: Neha Kalvani
- Featured SIKKA Artist Fatma Lootah is an Emirati artist who lives in Verona, Italy. She studied Art in Washington, and was trained for three years in drawing, portraits and most importantly paintings, which is her favourite way of expression. When asked about her first realization for her love for art, she replied back saying, “I was 13 years old, when I said to myself that art is what I really want to do. It has been a big part of my life ever since. My art is me, it’s what I feel, it is my soul. As the soul moves with light, I feel that paintings move in the same direction. Art for me is not a decorative thing, as an artist can be whoever he wants to be while painting and nothing can stop him, but himself. One can see an artist and his soul through his work.” Fatma Lootah was really inspired by the works of artist, Picasso. She feels that his work has influenced her to see art differently and to never give up and follow her dreams of being a successful artist. By Neha Kalvani
EXHIBITIONS AND INTERVIEWS
EXHIBITION AND INTERVIEWS
London based English artist recently relocated to Dubai to find himself allured by Emirati art and architecture. His art has received a positive response as he creates a balance between the freedom of action and abstract expressionism with an academic approach to both his work’s themes and their execution. Bastakiya’s Sikka Art Fair is the fringe festival that runs parallel to Art Dubai which featured Coates’ work during his residency at the fair and open to the public for the first time.
EXHIBITIONS AND INTERVIEWS
1. When did you first recognize your talent and know that this is what you wanted to do?
3. What form of art do you specialise in or take great interest in?
I’ve always been able draw, right from a young age. I actually remember being about three years old, and my mother used to draw clowns and crocodiles for me to copy. By the time I went to school aged five, I had decided that I wanted to be an artist.
I tend to work mostly in paint, acrylics specifically. I do this because I find painting to be the most difficult and challenging of all the disciplines. I guess I give myself a hard time, but an artist who can’t paint or draw to a high standard just isn’t an artist. I also work in three dimensions – so, installation and sculpture – and I’ve started to take an interest in sound as art, but I’m finding that sound doesn’t make me question myself enough. Painting keeps me awake at night.
2. Was art an intricate part of your life growing up? Can you tell us about your early influences? Yes, it was. I was brought up in Plymouth, a city in the South West of England. Plymouth was also home to a painter called Robert Lenkiewicz, and he drew portraits of me and my sister in his studio. I think I was around six when they were done and I can remember being transfixed, both by Lenkiewicz and the paintings on his studio walls. He died in 2002 and had been a controversial painter throughout his life (some of his work was considered disturbing and proved too much for a conservative town) but it was his style and approach that had an enormous effect on me. A lot of people can see Francis Bacon influences in my work, but Lenkiewicz is the artist who has influenced me above any other.
4. Could you tell us some more about your work and how would you describe your style? Ha – I find it very hard to describe my own style so, when people ask, I just say I’m an abstract expressionist painter. It’s not a satisfactory description of my style but, when I say I’m an abstract expressionist, it seems to satisfy whoever is asking. My work is very stubborn: it’s often as much about what I don’t do, as it is about what I do. I don’t follow trends and I have no time for people who do. I’m fascinated by basic levels, and I try to represent things like very basic emotions in an engaging way.
EXHIBITIONS AND INTERVIEWS
I give myself a hard time, but an artist who can’t paint or draw to a high standard just isn’t an artist.
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4. What technique do you follow in most of your work? I paint with acrylics because I don’t paint with oils, oil paints take too long to dry and I’m not very patient. So I suppose I use similar techniques to the ones used in oil painting, but at a higher speed. You will always see some technical competence in my work as well, alongside the splashes and the confusion. This is because I’m constantly making sure I can paint as well as any other artist. 5. What inspires you and how do you stay motivated when things get tough in the studio or if you ever experience artists block? I’m my own worst critic, so creating a new piece can be agonising at times. Therefore I try and treat my art as a job – something that I have to do, whether I like it or not. When I’m in my studio I try to spend five hours working solidly, without distractions. I keep my space very simple, so that there’s no excuse not to get on with it – just me, a canvas and the paints. When I get stuck I tend try and find out what other artists have done in similar situations. Aside from Lenkiewicz, Picasso, Caravaggio and Jean-Michel Basquait have helped me out in the past. Inspiration can come from weird and unexpected sources. I’ve just done a painting based on a scene from a 1972 Barbra Streisand film, and other sources of inspiration have included the tennis player Serena Williams, a French play from the 1900s called ‘Ubu Roi’ and the notion of suspension (I’m always hanging things from other things). 6. Are your art works received differently in Dubai than they are in Europe or in the US? Yes, I’ve just moved to Dubai from London, and London is one of the coolest places on earth. Therefore, reactions from London galleries can tend to be guarded and aloof – coolness isn’t necessarily a good thing. It’s slightly different outside of London, but the English art community in general is still very cliquey. The reactions I’ve had in Dubai so far have been very positive. Broadly speaking, I don’t expect anyone, anywhere to immediately embrace my work with open arms as it is quite dense and disconcerting.
7. Where are your favourite places to work? Right now, I have a studio in Bastakiya, and I enjoy being there. I first worked in Bastakiya when I was an artist in residence for the Sikka Art Fair in March, and I was seduced by Bastakiya’s architecture, the position and history of the place and the fact that it’s right next to a mosque. 8. Where are your favourite places to forget about work? I’ve just discovered snorkelling. I’m not very good yet and I really have to concentrate, so being underwater makes me forget about everything, work included. Mostly because I’m trying not to drown. 9. Could you share your current and future projects with our readers? At the moment I’m pulling together pieces for a solo show in Dubai that will launch mid-May. This means a lot of organisational and admin work (framing, pricing and so on). At the same time, I’m working on the next painting in my ‘Rexia’ series, there’s also a sound and 3D installation piece called ‘Coda’ in the pipeline and I’ve got an idea for another 3D piece that utilises scans of room I worked in during the Sikka Art Fair. I also draw constantly. 10. Is there any advice that you would like to share with artists who are just starting out? It depends on how seriously you take your art but, if you want to make a living from your own creativity, it’s crucial to find out as early as possible whether you have genuine talent. You can get praise from your friends and family, but that tends to be because you’re you. From a practical point of view, I’d say that it’s crucial that you do an art foundation course as soon as you can. During the course – depending on how good your tutors are - you’ll find out whether you’ve got what it takes or not. There are a lot of people out there who believe that they have a talent but, when it comes to making a living, they just don’t cut it. One other good tip is to look at your work in a mirror. Of course it will be reversed but it helps give you a glimpse of objectivity and an idea of how other people see your work.
Interview by Media and Comunications student, Neha Kalvani residing in United Arab Emirates since 1995.
EXHIBITIONS AND INTERVIEWS
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SHARJAH BIENNIAL MARCH 16 - MAY 16
This year the â€˜Heart of Sharjahâ€™ witnessed one of the most awaited transformations of contemporary art as the regions largest and highly established exhibitions took place between March 16 to May 16. More than 100 artists from the region and beyond engaged in this event to interact with diverse audiences as they shared their love for paintings, photographs, video, film, sculpture and installations. Free and open to the public, Sharjah Biennial 10 was curated by Suzanne Cotter and Rasha Salti and Associate Curator Haig Aivazian.
The Sharjah Biennial is one of the most celebrated cultural events in the Arab world. Since its inception in 1993, it has formed a cultural bridge between artists, art institutions and organisations locally, regionally and internationally. Produced by the Department of Culture and Information in the Emirate of Sharjah, the Biennial now holds a key regional position in the production and presentation of art and in fostering experimentation. Since 2003, when the event switched from being a representative to a curated show, it has gone beyond the concept of national pavilions. This year the 10th Biennial reaches out to over 100 of 40 different nationalities as it introduces and displays their work over the three month period. Suzanne Cotter, who is co-curator with Beirut-based Rasha Salti (creative director, ArteEast) and associate curator Haig Aivazian, says that the critical mass of interest around the Biennial has grown exponentially. “It has a relevant and productive dynamic,” she says. This year translations for visitors of key information into Urdu, Hindi and English will be available as it presents new and specially commissioned works by contemporary artists, filmmakers, writers and performers from across the region and internationally all in the “heart of Sharjah” in United Arab Emirates, situated 20 minutes from Dubai. Developing on the geographic reach and the focus on new production of previous Biennials, Plot for a Biennial merges what have traditionally been parallel formats of exhibition, film and performance into a multivalent sequence of encounters that extend from the Sharjah Art Museum to Sharjah’s historic Heritage Area and sites around the city. After the official launch, one of the key events held in Sharjah Biennial 10 was a guided tour with renowned Kuwati and Syrian artists, Tarek Al-Ghoussein and Yazan Khalili respectively on 22nd March 2011 that largely focussed on photography. Another highlight was on 2nd April 2011, a family art workshop at the Sharjah Biennial 10 was spent with prize winner Imran Qureshi at the Sharjah Art Museum, Arts Area. Pakistani artist, Imran Qureshi led a hands-on workshop where participants learnt the technique of miniature painting,
including an introduction to materials, wasli making (the traditional surface for miniature painting), brush making, tea washes, gliding and marbling. But Qureshi’s masterpiece was undoubtedly the Biennial’s prize-winning ‘Blessings upon the Land of My Love’ which at first sight, shocks with what seems to be blood from a massacre scattered across the floor of a courtyard, but the red turns out to be a floral pattern, perhaps a symbol of hope. The contrast is the violence of the current era with the traditional tranquillity of the courtyard. Between 28th April to 5th May another artist workshop was held by Ayah Younis, Jordanian artist who worked a group of high school students that aimed to introduce artworks from Sharjah Biennial 10. Students from Ibn Seena High School were asked to have explore ideas, materials and processes and make their own artworks inspired by a visit to the Biennial. Ayah Younis, born in Amman in 1984, has a degree in Industrial Engineering and a particular interest in the Arts. Through a series of workshops, events as well as over two years working experience with Children’s Museum Jordan, Younis has worked closely with children from different generations and backgrounds. From animation workshops to self-development, these meetings aim to widen young audiences horizons, empower their presentation and self-esteem as well as develop their expression and interpretation skills. Ayah’s approach is based on exploration as well as informal learning, an open approach that allows much of creative thinking and openness. This was followed by an art workshop by Maya Ahmed on 8th to 12th May for Al Amal School for the Deaf, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services. Ahmed worked with students and introduced them to artworks from Sharjah Biennial 10. Together they too explored ideas, materials and processes as students made their own artworks inspired by their visit to the Biennial. Students even held their own exhibition at the end of the workshop. Artist talk with Emirati artist, Abdullah Al Saadi shared his presentation as he relayed his experience of his Camar Cande’s Journey on 9th May as art enthusiasts gathered on the Sharjah Arts Area courtyard, facing the Sharjah Art Museum.
Imran Qureshi painted these series of paintings to depict the choices of religious clothing or activities after 9/11 Photo Credits: Neha Kalvani EXHIBITIONs AND INTERVIEWS
Imran Qureshi’s prize winning masterpiece, ‘Blessings upon the Land of My Love’ illustrating violence and hope caused by the revolutions.
Abdullah Al Saadi photograph during his presentaton on his Camar Cande’s Journey on 9th May.
Students pick up basic lessons of art at the Drawing and Collage Workshop with AUS Professors Dougan and Heintz on 14th May.
Students provide their interpretation of their favourite artworks during the closing event of Sharjah Biennial, Talk 8 on 16th May.
Photo Credits: Neha Kalvani
Al Saadi’s shared his presentation detailing his experience as he photographed his donkey as he trekked through the northern region of the UAE and Oman. Accompanied by a donkey named Camar Cande and a dog, the artist documented the landscapes encountered on this journey with photographs, video and watercolour paintings. Drawing the Biennial was a one-day event offering everyone from children to adults, from artists to those who can’t draw a straight line held on 14th May. It was a chance for anyone to make art at the Sharjah Biennial 10. A series of artists and other creative professionals conducted drawing and art-making workshops, offering participants a range of activities to choose from. Kicking off at 4pm, several workshops opened for artists and visitors. The Origami Workshop with Reem Al Awdah was a one hour-long workshop that highlighted the art of Origami. Origami, a traditional Japanese art of paper folding that transforms a flat sheet of paper into a finished sculpture through folding and sculpting techniques. The workshop consisted of an introduction to Origami’s history, followed by a brief overview of the various types of
EXHIBITIONS AND INTERVIEWS
Origami. Attendees will then be guided to create their own Origami sculptures as well were able to view life-sized origami sculpture of Buraq, the mythical flying horse, which is featured in the installation by Sharjah Biennial 10 artist Jumana Emil Abboud. Conceptual drawing with Paolomaria was held in the same day in collaboration with DUCTAC at the Dubai Community Theatre and Arts Centre. Using traditional materials, found objects, digital imaging or the entire exhibition space of a gallery, artist Paolomaria exploited the infinite potential of the discipline of drawing. Paolomaria the shared his methods of conceptual drawing with participants who soon discovered new ways of drawing and they had a chance to develop their own visual vocabulary. Simultaneously, the theartre workshop was conducted with huda Al Qaydi in collaboration with Sharjah Theatres Group. The workshop revolved around “Camar Cande’s Journey,” a Sharjah Biennial 10 project by aforementioned Emirati artist Abdullah Al Saadi. Participants used theatre and drama to create their own representations of Al Saadi’s journey through the northern region of the UAE and Oman.
Artist and Visual Communication Professor Zara Mahmood held a drawing workshop in collaboration with The Pavilion. Mahmood’s guides participants to produce two series of drawings. The first series was inspired by outdoor surroundings, including the streets, buildings and people that form the environment. The second series looked at indoor surroundings for material, here participants were invited to make work in an attempt to capture the atmosphere surrounding them. The Drawing & Collage workshop, led by AUS professors Brian Dougan & Eirik Heintz, allowed participants to examine one or more Sharjah Biennial 10 artworks and devise a proposal in the form of a drawing or collage of what they think the next work in the series might or could be. The workshop offered participants a chance to look deeply at artworks in order to speculate about the intentions of the artist, the subject matter of the works and how meaning is represented. It also allowed the participant an opportunity to change or alter the meaning of a work or series based on their own interpretation, understanding or ideas. In collaboration with University of Sharjah, Artists and tutors Thaier Helal and Fatima Zahra Hassan led students to create a
series of monochrome drawings done on large papers and on paper rolls (to produce scrolls). These drawings were later joined with each other for a display as a ‘narrative’ of the Biennial. One of the other events on the list for the day was mixed media workshop with Ebtisam Abdulaziz which took place in collaboration with Emirates Fine Arts Society. Abdulaziz inspired the workshop by her Sharjah Biennial 10 artwork “Women’s Circles,” a documentation of a performance consisting of 20 digital prints. Participants were invited to create mixed media artworks as a response to the artwork. The last day of the event, May 16th ended with Talk 8. A closing event that invited schools and university students to present their feedback and responses to Sharjah Biennial 10. Participants from the Ibn Seena High School, Al Amal School for the Deaf and the College of Architecture and Design at the American University of Sharjah gave short presentations that were followed by quick Q&A sessions. The audience saw presentations in the form of photographs, videos and artwork that were created in different locations of the Biennial. Even with the Biennial drawing to an end on May 16th, the exhibition will still remain open to visitors.
with Neha Kalvani
In this tutorial, weâ€™ll take a close look at how to sketch a basic portrait of animals, in this case, wolves. The eyes are a key specimen that make this sketch successful accompanied by the angular faces and minor details. The pencils are used to accomplish specific shades.
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1 The outline of the two wolves are drawn cautiously with a HB graphite pencil on sketching paper.
2 Further flat tones are added to suggest the form of the wolves. The laid texture of the sketching paper breaks out the tone of the shading.
Further tones are applied using a soft B graphite pencil.
4 Shading is now intensified using a softer 2B pencil.
Tones are now blended by using the blunt edge of the 4B pencil to add a little more detail to the wolves features.
6 Darker tones are now added using the 6B graphite pencil. This helps in defining the shadows on the wolves faces and the background.
Use a small piece of paper or your finger to rub the surface of the sheet as this technique serves the purpose of shading.
Illustration by Neha Kalvani
,(Guess who?) The Man With No Name
Well, if that heading didn’t help you put a name to that caricature we reckon you were either born yesterday or aren’t into western flicks, either way here’s a man you should know more about if you haven’t made that satisfying guess. Born on 31 May 1930, the film actor, director, producer, composer and politician has come to be known as an international ‘cultural icon of masculinity’ for the strong roles he played in the Man with No Name in Sergio Leone’s Dollars Trilogy of spaghetti westerns (A Fistful of Dollars, For a Few Dollars More, and The Good, the Bad and the Ugly) in the 1960s, and as San Francisco Police Department Inspector Harry Callahan in the Dirty Harry films (Dirty Harry, Magnum Force, The Enforcer, Sudden Impact, and The Dead Pool) during the 1970s and 1980s. With over eighty movies to his name, he has paved his way into Hollywood from a television series, Rawhide, the fifth longest American western theme aired on CBS network started off in 1959 and drew to an end in 1966. The then upcoming star played the character of Rowdy Hides, a rider and trailboss and soon realized his dream of the big screen. Soon he moved onto acting , starting out in 1955 starring in Francis in the Navy and The First Traveling Saleslady in 1956 while recently starring and directing in award winning films, Gran Traino and Million Dollar Baby in 2008. Beginning with the thriller Play Misty for Me, the actor turned director has over 30 films in his career; including westerns, action films, and dramas. Interviewers Richard Thompson and Tim Hunter note that the man in the caricature’s films are “superbly paced: unhurried; cool; and there is a strong sense of real time, regardless of the speed of the narrative” while Ric Gentry considers his pacing to be “unrushed and relaxed”. Many of his films rely on low lighting to give his films a “noirish” feel. On a political front, during the 2008 United States Presidential Election, the celebrity endorsed John McCain, who he has known since 1973, but nevertheless wished Barack Obama well upon his subsequent victory. He also wrote to the British Chancellor of the Exchequer George Osborne to protest the decision to close the UK Film Council, warning that the closure could result in fewer foreign production companies choosing to work in the UK in 2010. The 81 year old has previously been described as a “serial womanizer” by The Independent newspaper for the celebrity has fathered seven children by five different women, although he has only married two. With that we leave you to it as we quote a line from one of his movies, Dirty Harry (1971) ‘do you feel lucky? well, do ya, punk?’ By Neha Kalvani
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01 ART CORNER
Lakshik Perera Age: 20 I Nationality: Srilankan Location Dubai, UAE Biotechnology Student at Manipal University Contact: email@example.com Deviant art user name: lemonslip666
01 - Down from the sky 02 - City of angels 03 - The fall Lakshik considers his speciality lies in photomanipulation . “I’ve always wanted to learn more and more about photography and photomanipulation, its possibilities makes me always wonder. Art has always been my hobby and a way to get my mind off of things. Simple logical reasoning never appealed to me and now it has become my own way to look at things in a more different perspective.” Software used Adobe Photoshop
Kevin Sebastain Age 20 I Nationality: Indian Location Dubai, UAE Visual Communications Student at Manipal University Contact firstname.lastname@example.org
04-05 Erebus 5th These pieces aim to justify Erebus, a Greek work, which translates to chaos. Software used Photoshop sketch book PRO, Windows Photo Gallery
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Saurabh Chhabra Age: 19 I Nationality: Indian Location Dubai, UAE Computer Engineering student at Wollongong University Contact email@example.com 06 Blue Nirvana Tools used Oil paints on canvas
THE MO BEAUTIF EVERY P IS THE OF
OST FUL PART PICTURE FRAME ART CONSISTS OF LIMITATION G.K. Chesterton
Art does not end here.