In our main site version, due out late August (which has now slipped to mid-October), there will be menu items for additional information about a specific artist such as their Biography, their personal statement about their work, their CV, Exhibit experience and more. For now, I’d like to include some background on the several artists that won both the vote count and jury portion of our South of France Art Competition. We have collected several writings and we will continue to add to this list over time. A consideration in interpretation is that many of the myartspace artists are from countries all over the world and have used translation techniques from their own language into English, some of these translations may be slightly less optimal than said in their own “tongue” however, we have represented them as best possible under these circumstances. Thank you for your understanding.
BEST IN COMPETITION:
ILONA NIEMI, Piikkio, Finland:
Ilona Niemi is a visual artist from Finland (b. 1975). Her works are psychological portraits inspired by the disappearance of the artist’s childhood friend, Piia, in 1988. Using traditional oil painting techniques, Niemi depicts faces of young women from her hometown in Finland, and surrounds them with candy-colors and rounded shapes. In contrast to the paintings’ initial impact of sweetness, her visual sources are morbid: the biomorphic shapes are based on diatoms found in the bodies of drowning victims, and the colors are often abstracted from autopsy photographs. The resulting works are reminiscent of childhood play but with a grown up, psychological twist – hiding the sinister under a sugary coating. Niemi has exhibited actively, and her work has been shown in the National Portrait Gallery in London, as well as in numerous group shows in Britain, Finland, Norway, France, Japan and the US. She has had solo shows in New York, Chicago, Scotland, and Finland. During her artistic career, Niemi has won various awards, such as the Royal Scottish Academy Painting Prize, and John Kinross Scholarship for a three-month residency in Florence.
MICKE TONG, San Francisco, California:
"Micke's art is his way of assimilating into humanity, discovery of the self and manipulating wondrous historical events to make his statement. Much of his work re-interprets life and does so through unusual use of color, shape and transparency. Although the bulk of his art has been in the digital realm, Micke carried his fascination with the unique and unusual into a wide range of multi-media artwork including video, performance and art installations. "
TOP ARTIST AND PHOTOGRAPHER WINNERS FOR VOTE COUNT:
SUE COOK, Oxfordshire, U.K.:
To explain my painting career you have to go back to World War I really and to my Welsh grandfather. He had dreamed of being an artist and had an exceptional talent. He drew and painted constantly and I think hoped it would mean earning a living above ground. In those days nearly all the boys were destined to work down the mine.The War started and like so many in his village, he signed up at 17 and was sent to France. He did a fantastic self portrait of himself as a gladiator to pass the time on the boat.
Here's the picture:
In France, he was badly injured and sent to a remote hospital but my great grandmother got a telegram saying he was dead. In her grief she destroyed all his paintings and drawings. He returned eventually and refused to ever paint or draw again. This sketch is all that remains of his work. Years later, as me and my sister were growing up, he would spend hours instructing us on how to draw and paint - but would never do it himself. When I was a teenager he finally told me why he never drew again - he said that he had seen such horrors in the trenches it was all he could see whenever he lifted a pencil and it just overwhelmed him so much it was easier not to draw at all. Very tragic I think. But he did tell me shortly before he died about 10 years ago, that I should always follow a dream and to keep drawing.
So I did. I had done all the 'science' subjects at school (as my parents wished) and gone to University to get a degree in Microbiology. I had a series of jobs all science related...the latest being to train as a science teacher. I got my teaching certificate when I was 7 months pregnant with my second child. It was then I decided it was time I started living my life the way I wanted to. So, I went and bought myself a set of acrylics and a canvas in November 2004 and started painting in my kitchen when the kids had gone to bed (they are 6 and 2). And I haven't stopped since.
To begin with they were paintings for around the house, and gifts for friends and relatives. People said I should sell them. So I made bet with myself - if I could sell a painting on ebay I would build a website and have a go at marketing myself.
Well the painting sold to an MD of a New York Ad agency and it cost as much as the canvas to send it to New York!! More orders came in and the kitchen was beginning to look more like a studio....it was becoming a right pain to have to clear away all my stuff (and put it out of reach of the kids) for every mealtime. On one disastrous occasion, Maddy (my 2 year-old daughter) got hold of a biro and added her own scribbles to a painting I was about to finish. I had a few choice words to say that day. You can imagine it felt like the professional equivalent of saying the dog ate my homework when I tried to explain to my client that there would be a bit of a longer wait for her canvas!
Well the orders keep coming, and I have been incredibly fortunate to have sold enough work to pay for converting part of the garage into a studio. And I couldn't be happier - I am so lucky to be able to paint and be at home for the kids, I couldn't ever consider going back to working in a lab or office ever again....I finally have my own little bit of art space to work in - I think my grandad would be proud.
SCOTT TALLEY, Lockhart, Texas:
I am from Lockhart Texas and recently graduated from Texas State Technical College where I received my degree in Digital Media Design. I recently discovered my purpose in life and plan to devote all my time to photography and selling my posters. I would describe myself as easy going, creative, driven, and adventurous. I don’t really see my photography as art but more so as a way to capture how I view the world around me.
RUNNERS UP, JOINT SECOND PLACE:
LARZ ELDBAGE, Sigtuna, Sweeden:
I live for 3 important things:
1. PEACE - need forgiveness
2. FREEDOM - need responsibility
3. LOVE - need understanding
"The life of eighteen-year-old girl in Israel is interrupted when she is plucked out of her environment at an age when sexual, educational, and family values are at their highest exploration point. She is then placed in a rigorous institution, where individuality becomes a secondary matter, making room for nationalism.
My project is an exploration of the mandatory military service of Israeli female soldiers based on my own experience in the Israel Defense Forces between the years 1988-1990. My photographs disclose a complexity of emotions with an emphasis on melancholy. The soldier is often caught in a moment of self-reflection, uncertainty, a break from her daily reality, as if questioning her own identity. With this project I wish to seek answers to matters that were left unresolved, and to shed some light on this defining moment in the lives of Israeli women."
MICHAEL BERKOWITZ, Brooklyn, New York:
I've been taking photos almost all my life. I took my first lessons with Alfred Eisenstadt, a family friend, when I was 15 -- however until fairly recently, it was painting, sculpting and performance pieces that spoke to me as an artist.
My work had always revolved around religious themes, and I have had a fair amount of renown in that field. (The work I did immediately prior to photography is in the permanent collection of The Jewish Museum, The Yeshiva University Museum and The Hebrew Union College.) About 4 Â½ years ago, I picked up a book by Taschen, entitled, "Early Erotic Photography," nude photographs from the 1800's. I was so taken by the images that I purchased a large format camera, built a set in my studio, hired a model and took some photos. I was so pleased with the results, and the reaction of others to the images was so swift and strongly positive, I became hooked on photography. It felt as if I was doing exactly what I was meant to do. I have never looked back. In 2005, my first book of photographs, Erotic Flashback was published internationally by Goliath Books. I am currently working on a second book.
At first, my sole intention was to enjoy myself simply by creating a beautiful image. Once I had a handful of photos, I created a website. Within a few months, women from all over the world were discovering my site and offering to pose for me, without pay -- in exchange for prints. Women came from as far as Iceland and Italy to work with me.
Seeing how powerful the models desire to expose and exhibit themselves made the process more complex and compelling. Time and again, the women expressed gratitude for the opportunity and explained how liberating and empowering it felt to pose nude.
Recently, I've been combining some of my experience and skills from my days in sculpture and performance with my photography. I've begun creating elaborate costumes and jewelry for each model. Most of the models love the dress-up aspect of my work. It connects with their early experience and helps them feel comfortable in exposing themselves. I want to push this aspect of my work even further.
Throughout my entire career as an artist, I have always asserted that it is always through our bodies that we experience the world; and that experience profoundly shapes how we perceive and process our experience. Eroticism is one our most powerful and profound visceral experiences and certainly deserves a serious investigation in fine art. It is this aspect of erotic art which I am pursuing.
My models come from all walks of life, range in age from 18 to 50, and are all shapes and sizes. They are students, housewives, business women, archeologists, psychologists, teachers, composers, artists, even two physicists. They all share a desire to explore their sexual identity, look at that image face to face, and in turn show it to the world.
RUNNERS UP, JOINT THIRD PLACE:
YOLANDA ROSA, Mexico:
JASON MICHAEL AUMANN, San Francisco, California:
"My name is Jason Michael Aumann. I am a fine artist attracted to the idea of creating sensual, subtle, thought provoking images. My works assert an emphasis on color, composition and the human figure. Most are usually quite involved, both with their construction and meaning. I aim to create art that engages the viewer beyond aesthetical interests or a momentary glance. Time & the epiphenomal, symbolism & narrative, emotions & the human condition are all reoccurring themes used in my visual vocabulary. Formed together, they build a distinctive dialogue that encourages the viewer to take possession of their own interpretation."
MARINE PENVERN, Paris, France:
I am interested in myself as a human being in relation to the environment.I explore my own life through the self portrait, sort of a quest to my self.It is both to know and enjoy all the pleasures of my own self.Those paintings came to me when I had no subject at all and couldn't think of one. It first started on a cold day of winder. The heat was off in my apt, and so I made a piece of clothing with a hood to keep me warm. As I was staring at a blank canvas, my own shadow appeared. The shape of it seemed interesting enough to paint it. Later I picked up a plaster mask of my face that I made a while ago and held it in front of it. The painting then came together in a very magical way. It was meant to be.The other shadow paintings then came along as an exercise of style.
SUZETTE TROCHE, Santa Clarita, California:
Artists Statement People, places, thing; all shot in super-terrific, Hi-Fi color, in unexpected and exciting new ways. The happy, glittery toes of yours truly must visually satisfy the insatiable appetite of the viewing public. Let me take you over the rainbow to my little Hollywood- where I tun pixels into frozen films. Enthusiastic, excited patrons are banging their spoon on the nice china asking “is it soup yet?”..My fancy image casserole is pipin’ hot and ready to be served to the most discerning gourmand.
JULIANNE INGLES, Chicago, Illinois:
My series called The People & Co. is inspired by an image of a pre-dynastic bird deity – a simple figure carved from stone with a small head, small cone-like breasts, the legs of a mermaid, and arms that are raised above its head, curling backward. The image struck a note with me and I painted it. The canvases began with a single goddess-like figure. Later she was joined by other figures. Quietly, they revealed themselves as the characters in my life. I called them The People.
My paintings raise questions and reveal themes such as healing, death and celebration. These questions and themes are not always apparent when I begin a painting. Abstract thoughts and emotions seem to float around the studio and I try to gather them up and put them on the canvas. Gradually they become concrete, but when I look at a completed painting it is as if I am remembering a dream.
Arts writer Robert Kameczura summarized my work nicely in part of an essay he wrote:
“The worlds in Ms. Ingles' paintings belong to her figures, which symbolize some of the deeper aspects of our nature, ranging from benevolent to tragic. Ms. Ingles' work is that of a compassionate person with a deep interest in using forms, color and paint textures to conjure metaphors about life and a sense of atmospheric places. These places are part domestic and friendly, part distant and otherworldly. They have a distinct sunlit aura but this luminosity is sometimes troubled by shadows and darkness. There are dichotomies: between light and dark, between figures and other figures, between figures and the places they inhabit. But through these dichotomies Ms. Ingles' work asks us thoughtful questions. What is our relationship with our fellow humans? What is our relationship with ourselves? What is our relationship with the landscape we live in? What gives beauty or a haunting aspect to a place? What is the nature of the world we live in?”
ZACHAR VAKS, Tashkent, Uzbekistan:
Hard Uncomfortable hand human ties to beast instinct within. I am underscoring insecurity of my narcissism. So confident cliché fearing . Rhyme is comfort for the narrative yearning folk culture lack. WIsh writing was more fluid. Art Definitions Red Meat addiction is pulsating as the most potent honesty. Lies through all curative aesthetic absorbent of all comments to critique the self is to hard to be the hardest. pass the coolness 3axap water. I will create masterpieces, if only persisting. Roots may shift. Deleting edit self forming process to aim for acknowledgment. Man potential rejections collective successful cross out, the fake 2n guess ? marking I veins will grow as a painter Human. Dreamalities conduct. Don't want to wake mother, sister ,grandmother. I miss my passed grandfather. I love him.
Obviously...TOO OBVIOUS syndrome how to go past.I will sleep...I must be brutally honest in my painting How I want to activate Magic and expose all my queries, insecurities,dilemmas. Magic fuses visual language with senses of nose, ears, sex Honesty, help Honesty for me.
Yet I want people to see. I love love one liner barriers. Just help pass lazy, lethargy pity and go towards organization , Discipline, strength, Honest Good strong heart. I will. Confidence.
JORIS VAN DAELE, London, U.K.:
My work is about the natural beauty and sexuality that is innate in women and men who are, in most usual circumstances, considered ordinary. I seek out each subject's best view, and explore and discover new ways of seeing while preserving his or her individuality. It's a message about all humanity and the beauty within.All art is built on a footing of prior work. My greatest technical teacher was Ansel Adams, as Ruth Bernhard and Man Ray taught me honesty of vision with the figure. My work is built on their foundations and inspiration...I first experimented with the Internet in 1996, to bring my work to a larger audience than the few galleries in New York and Los Angeles that were carrying my work. I was pleased by the large and extremely positive response that resulted, and created the on-line Bare Naked Gallery in 1998 to exhibit and market my work. The web site has helped me meet interesting subjects and clients, and has been a successful way of selling my work. My studio is located in London, Ontario Canada.
TADASHI TERADA, Japan:
The foundation is Wabi-sabi in Japanese arts.
It is the thing of Nature and assembles.
It treats preciously. The material itself.
They have a dialog. Like a -- YODA of Star Wars -- It is the cause of "FORCE". The meaning is "Ki(mind-power)" of Japan.
It's my treasure.
*This actual theme
'Blessing of forest in the last autumn.'
My art is gleaned in the forest of autumn. It was discovered with my dog:-) When the creation was started,it was completed with surprising swiftness.
The material having interesting shape stirs up the creative impulse.
It doesn't end infinitely.
VOTE COUNT WINNER
RUNNER UP, SECOND PLACE:
GABRIELA CALLEJA, Chile:
"I am Gabriela Calleja, born in Chile, in the year 1977, I currently live in New York. I have inherited from my family the love for art and the love for nature. At the beginning of my artistic career, I unconscientiously fusioned these two loves of mine, and the result are my paintings, which fill me with joy and life. For this reason a short time ago I decided to show my work (which had been appreciated by only friends and family until this time), and try to deliver small instances of joy to the world, instances that are truly necessary in times that we are living. My current battle is to continue on my journey throughout the world turning sad walls in to happy walls that are filled with life.
VOTE COUNT WINNER
RUNNERS UP, JOINT THIRD PLACE:
My art is intuitive symbolism. Intuitive symbolism is more about what I do in my daily life than what I create. The art I create is my souls reaction to what I do in my daily life.
It is expressed in my poem Because:
Neither birds or men can live beneath the ocean.
Neither fish or men can fly above.
Neither birds or fish can dream my wonders.
So I fly my dream and dive into the ocean of love.
Just because I can.
CORRIGAN CLAY, Coos Bay, Oregon
Corrigan Clay is a photographer, digital artist, and oil painter whose work often combines each of these mediums in various ways. His subject matter are often philosophical or spiritual in nature. His oil paintings focus on the landscape as a narrative, idea-laden artform while his photography uses echoing natural images to accent the implications of a larger philosophical idea. Most of his photography is composited with photoshop to add age, incorporate design elements, and strengthen composition.
One of Clay's driving artistic principles is to avoid "Artonomy". Artonomy has two meanings, one is the disection of art into its elements in order to celebrate independant elements as art. Corrigan feels that this dissection is a modern emphasis based on enlightenment influences from the sciences, and that while it has produced exquisite art, it has also sacrificed art's ability to useall of its elements to communicate ideas effectively. "While art will always be subjective to the viewer," says Clay "the artist can draw some boundaries on their viewer's experience and communicate through story, atmosphere,color, and composition. Art is powerful psychologically, and to reduce it to 'pretty colors' or 'bold lines' is to rob it of that power".
Artonomy is also the false idea that the artist is a solitary well of creativity that ought to be brooding and famous. Clay states this distaste for artistic autonomy, saying, "As an artist, I don't want to dissect my art into its various organs, nor do I want to be divided from those I wish to speak to through my art. I don't want to be famous and misunderstood, but to speak clearly and compassionately to the audience my art might find, no matter how broad that community might be."