Thursday, September 5, 2013

Just 'Cause ThIs Art Is Painted On A Tooth Does It Make It Better?

Whenever I find myself saying to myself; "Now I have seen it all., I should know better. Obviously I have not seen everything. But, I have seen a lot of weirdness, though, especially in art.

Recently I stumbled upon the creations of Turkish-born artist Hasan Kale. His art is teensy, tiny, minuscule. Kale paints on all kinds of unusual canvases, from butterfly wings to coffee beans and even tiny pepper seeds. No surface is to small for 53-year-old Hasan Kale. Ever since the 1980s, he has been painting his eye-straining miniatures on things as small as cactus thorns and rice grains.Yes, there is a lot of craft involved and it seems as if he has tons of fans who love his work. But not me.

When his images are enlarged, they quickly become trite, in style and subject matter. Having spent decades poring over medieval manuscripts with my magnifying glass in hand, I fell in love with the art of the miniature inside countless manuscripts. The subject matter is fresh and right for the time. But those books were created during the 11th through the 15th centuries. Hasan is painting now.

Mr Kale should have used his manipulative skills to paint images of today.The artist has the rich tradition of Turkish miniature art behind him and he could have called upon that heritage to create ever-lasting pieces reflective of our 21st century..

However, Kale shows us countless scenes of Turkey that quickly become kitschy. Istanbul is depicted set against cobalt skies with puffy clouds and swooping gulls. Boats are beset by harmless billows.Tourist art comes to mind.

Moreover, when a viewer starts to admire a frame around a work of art, instead of the work itself, there is a problem. I did find myself scrutinizing beans, cashew nuts, thorns and more, because in closeups, they were gorgeous. Much prettier than the art!

Looking at the countless butterflies and insects used as canvasses by Hasan, I also began to sympathize with those critters. They were beautiful in their own right and the artist has almost bastardized them, not enhancing their innate loveliness.

Enough said. I am returning to the glorious, golden age of the miniature in beautiful Books of Hours. In those tiny treasures, indeed, I have not seen everything!

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