artblog Roland






Friday 14th October, 2016: US presidential election 2016
Trillary versus Hump, a matter of cosmetic surgery as usual.
cosmetisch surgery





Saturday 26th September, 2015: 'Circuit' recent work on paper
My recent work 'Circuit' (2014): acrylic/oil-paint and plastic on (news) paper. 76 x 46 cm

Circuit



Monday 10th August, 2015: Arte tomba
vanGendthallen

Afgelopen lente trof ik op één van de grote deuren van de hallen een poster aan: Een foto van een zonderling in een legerjas met een gasmasker op die een bord omhoog hield met de tekst; I AM AMAN. De onder de foto afgedrukte tekst luidde als volgt;

“Anti-Art police intelligence has informed us that this notorious art figure, ‘The unknown’ may make an appearance somewhere in spring/summer of 2015. He is known to fight for equality in the arts and for the cultivation of meaningfull dialog in creativity. He has made an effort to undermine mediocrity and the corporate art movement. As well as to call for an end to measuring the value of life/art by money. This horrific act has placed him on a special list of watched persons.”

the Unknown
Op het eerste gezicht het soort kunstenaarsproza dat alleen door de makers zelf serieus genomen wordt. Alsof de kunst en haar makers hier in het Westen nog voor iets of iemand een bedreiging zouden kunnen vormen. Het idee alleen al. Kunst is vooral gesubsidieerde vrijetijdsbesteding die de hoger opgeleiden mentaal in vorm moet houden. Een appendix van het onderwijs en als zodanig misschien niet eens zo verkeerd als er toch geld genoeg is. Maar kunst als reële bedreiging voor de status quo vind je alleen nog in dictaturen zoals China, Rusland en in religieuze gevangeniskampen zoals Iran en Saudi-Arabië.
Het is mij niet duidelijk waarom de schrijver belang hecht aan gelijkwaardigheid (equality) in de kunst. Want dat zit de door hem beoogde “battle against mediocrity” volgens mij alleen maar in de weg. Met de constatering dat “life/art” worden gemeten “by money” heeft hij ongetwijfeld een punt. Maar het wordt een ingewikkelde onderneming om daar iets aan te veranderen. Voor zover ik weet heeft alleen Joseph Beuys met zijn Installatie ‘Das Kapital Raum’(1970-1977) serieus naar een oplossing gezocht voor dit probleem.

En tóch bleef mij iets fascineren aan deze boodschap en haar vormgeving. Ik herkende onmiddellijk de onvrede met ons huidige culturele klimaat. Niet eerder werd er zoveel belastinggeld aan kunst besteed dan de afgelopen decennia en niet eerder was de sector zo’n slappe hap en het resultaat zo’n steriele en slaapverwekkende bedoening.
De kunstsector heeft zich in ruil voor al dat belastinggeld veel te veel uit handen laten nemen door de overheid. Met als gevolg een sector die vooral leuk, educatief en braaf is geworden. Getemd door overheidsdienaren met smetvrees die alles menen te weten van kunst en haar doelgroep.

Op de facebookpagina van de pamfletmaker www.facebook.com/JJSPACESevent is te zien hoe hij kort na de ontruiming van het sinds 1983 gekraakte ‘Slangenpand’ aan de Amsterdamse Spuistraat een expositie improviseerde. Hij bevestigde werken van eigen hand aan de hekwerken rondom het voormalig krakers bolwerk. Iemand (mogelijk de politie) haalde het werk weg en de kunstenaar was ontsteld. Waarschijnlijk inspireerde deze hele affaire hem tot het maken van zijn affiche.

De krakers en anarchisten van de Punkbeweging hielden de overheid destijds al als vanzelfsprekend (en vaak letterlijk met een stok) buiten de deur, met als gevolg dat sommige van haar ideeën en resultaten nog altijd even ‘frisch und knackig‘ zijn als toen. Zij is nooit geannexeerd door welke culturele overheidstombe dan ook omdat er gewoon geen vat op te krijgen was. De opgestoken middelvingers van de tegencultuur lieten zich niet exposeren in door snobisten ter beschikking gestelde ruimtes. De stencilmachine en cassetteband bleken voor hen veel betere media.

Het doet mij goed om zo nu en dan weer een signaal van de contracultuur tegen te komen, hoewel het soms ook een knagend schuldgevoel veroorzaakt m.b.t. mijn eigen activiteiten. De gevestigde musea ben ik in ieder geval steeds meer gaan mijden en niet alleen omdat er geen reet te beleven is. Ik kom er gewoon liever niet zolang daar de door de overheid aangestelde Zonnekoninkjes à la Wim Pijbes en Beatrix Ruf het er voor het zeggen hebben. De smaakvoorkeur van dergelijke types is immers net zo arbitrair als die van u en mij maar met dat verschil dat hen jaarlijks door een ministerie vele miljoenen euros worden toevertrouwd om naar eigen inzicht te shoppen in de chicste veilinghuizen ter wereld. In het beste geval mogen wij vervolgens voor €17,50 in de rij staan om een glimp van van hun verzamelwoede op te vangen. De verworven kunst verdwijnt na de kortstondige aandacht meestal voorgoed naar de klimaatkelders. En het zou mij niet verbazen als de directie daar in die tombe een gezellig zitje heeft ingericht met cognac en sigaren binnen handbereik. Bij het zien van een lange rij mensen bij een museumloket moet ik vaak denken aan de beroemd geworden woorden van oer-punker Johnny Rotten:

“Ever get the feeling you’ve been cheated? Good night!”



Monday 1st September, 2014: 'Locus Y': my recent collage
Locus Y 2012

Locus Y: various materials on (news) paper. (56 x 38 cm) Autumn 2012




Friday 24th January, 2014: The Beuys enigma (sequence)
"There exists no other revolutionary force than the creative power of man"
(Joseph Beuys)

To concern oneself with Beuys means work. Last summer I continued my research into the work of the German artist Joseph Beuys (1921-1986), I started in 2010. Fieldwork drew me to the city of Kleve in the German lower Rhine region, where Beuys grew up and where he, in the late fifties, had his studio in a former health resort. This health resort is now a museum and Beuys' former studio is incorporated in the exhibition space.
Kurhaus Kleve

When Beuys purchased this studio in 1958, he was recovering from a serious depression. Many of his drawings from this period can be seen in the museum. I find these postcard format drawings with their sparing use of colours, very intriguing and many times puzzling. They often represent women, deer or swans. Sometimes also peculiar mechanisms, possibly studies for sculptures. In the reconstructed studio Beuys' tools and art requirements from that period are shown in display cases. Due to the authentic lightening the place slightly resembles a tomb.


Druidin



As a result of my visit I have a better understanding of how the anthroposophy of Rudolf Steiner influenced the ideas and works of Beuys. In particular the development of his famous 'expanded concept of art' and » the concept of the 'social sculpture' . In spite of my objections to anthroposophy, I consider it the least harmful of world beliefs.
I find the expanded concept of art Beuys developed in the late fifties still unsurpassed. From here on Beuys considered art as a tool with which to understand our complicated existence, rather than a method of depicting it. Beuys was more and more intrigued by the processes that led to autonomous forms, than he was in the completed art works.

Beuys 1958

Returning home and gazing at the lower Rhine landscape, I considered the expanded concept of art applied to music. But I soon realized that since John Cage it is impossible to expand music any further.


Beuys' Studio


In addition, Beuys had his own ideas about sound and music, which are omnipresent in his actions and social sculptures.
In an interview with Caroline Tisdall * Beuys describes the importance of music as follows; "The acoustic element and the sculptural quality of sound have always been essential to me in art, and in terms of music maybe my background in piano and cello drew me to them." (In his youth Beuys had had a thorough piano education)

On some occasions Beuys collaborated with the Korean artist Nam June Paik (1932-2006) and the Danish composer Henning Christiansen (1932-2008). Christiansen is known for combining pre-recorded tape loops with acoustical music fragments and ambient noise.
Beuys&Christiansen

Here is an excerpt of Christiansen's collaboration with Beuys from the action; Celtic+~

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Celtic+~

When artist Willoughby Sharp questioned Beuys about the artist with whom he felt most kindred, his answer was short "John Cage".** And although they never worked together, they had common sources of inspiration (Erik Satie, James Joyce and Marcel Duchamp) In the same interview with Sharp Beuys added "Perhaps the reason I love Cage and Nam June Paik more is because they are at the point of origin. Things have a certain reach. Beyond that everything is derivative."

The many impressions I received in Kurhaus Kleve and the books about Beuys which I read later have made me even more conscious that I have far to go in my search into the enigma Beuys. My next destination will be the enormous collection of Beuys works in Darmstadt called: » ++Block Beuys++ .

SaFG SaUG

With special thanks to Myra Geerling.

* Caroline Tisdall 1979
** Willoughby Sharp Artforum dec. 1969




Saturday 6th July, 2013: The first fifty years! (ordinarium)
Roland 50!





Sunday 6th January, 2013: "SPUR" a collage
"SPUR" 12-2011 a collage (various materials on paper 50 x 38 cm)




Tuesday 1st January, 2013: ♩Happy 2013 & "21 chords on an E"

happy new year

titel





Monday 16th July, 2012: ☢ Safe swimming in Fukushima (antiphon)
Chernobyl disaster





Monday 18th June, 2012: Jean Barraqué disassembled (trope)


During my military service (1984/85) I had to do a civil job at the Royal Library in The Hague. In one of the countless musical dictionairies available there I stumbled across the virtually unknown French composer Jean Barraqué (1928-1973). The dictionary especially praised his first published work, the ‘Sonata pour piano’ (1952).
I was intrigued by it and ordered its rare recording by pianist Claude Helffer for which I had to wait months to arrive. When I finally obtained the Sonata on vinyl I was baffled by both its accessibility and it’s complexity. Although saturated by the serial writing style of that period, resulting in a typical post-war pointillistic music, this sonata possessed stunning elegance.
The only other sonatas from that period I knew were the tenacious piano sonatas by Pierre Boulez (1925), but at that time I had difficulties with their whimsical trajectories and hammering touché. Barraqué managed to create a deeper layer to tie together the serial swarms of notes that kept holding my attention.

The Sonata starts with the following fierce outburst;

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opening

....but then settles down soon to a stream of dense polyrhythmic registral-locked pitches.This means that all 12 pitches are confined to certain regions of the keyboard. With all the other musical parameters (duration, dynamics and attack) constantly changing (integral serialism), the listener constantly balances between recognition and surprise.

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registral-locked pitches


Now and then, this fascinating soundworld is interrupted by short outbursts of harsh and dry chords;

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chords


....after which the registral-locked stream continues without steady pulse.

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continuing


Barraqué seemed to have had an unstable personality with a tendency to alcoholism. This is presumably the cause of his early death and minor musical output. Many of his compositions were left unfinished. Among the handful of completed works I have never found the enunciative power of his Sonata again. Was it a promising take off that wasn’t to be substantiated? Or perhaps I recognized more in Jean Barraqué than in his amazing Sonata only.



Saturday 26th November, 2011: Dangerous art? (antiphon)





Thursday 18th August, 2011: Buy now! Greedmachine.... (antiphon)
Here is my latest collage: 'Greed machine' [60x46 cm]



(detail↓)















Thursday 4th August, 2011: On the purpose of counterpoint... (responsory)
Schnberg


Polyphony and its method of construction ( counterpoint) is characteristic for western music. Several melodies sounding simultaneously can not be found in the music of any culture other than the western. The phenomenon originates from the 12th century and reached its perfection in the late 16th century with the oeuvre of Palestrina as a classic example. Even today conservatory students are tutored in the tough rules of Renaissance counterpoint.
During my study I endured my counterpoint lessons as tedious, although my results were quite good. It seemed to me that the purpose of counterpoint was to bring about boredom. The severe rules seem to strive for something to sound as bland and dull as possible. I’ll show you an example of ‘perfect’ counterpoint by Palestrina. It will be brief, thus preventing you from falling asleep...

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Palestrina

Palestrina’s contemporary Gesualdo di Venosa had the tendency to experiment in this field, applying a more progressive use of harmony and rhythmical contrasts. But by counterpoint standards he is still considered a maverick.
I can recommend his work to pop musicians for the harmonic swerves in his music they seem to seek but cannot grasp. Probably due to their lack of knowledge of counterpoint.
Here a short example from one of his madrigals from about 1600.

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Gesualdo

150 years later a free and yet masterly output of counterpoint is to be found, of course, in the music of J.S.Bach. In particular his organ works, but also in ‘Das Musikalisches Opfer’ and ‘The art of fugue‘, Bach put the rules of counterpoint to the test.
Listen to this excerpt from one of the many landmarks of polyphonic writing by Bach, the conclusion [stretto] of the triple fugue in E flat BWV 552 for organ.

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Bach

After Bach’s death (1750) counterpoint fell into disuse. With the exception of Beethoven’s late works (the magnificent late quartets in particular, composed while stone-deaf!), western music tended to focus on melody accompanied by functional chords (harmony) instead of polyphony.
It was only in the early 20th century that counterpoint was revived, mainly by the efforts of the second Viennese school composers and their chief Arnold Schönberg.
Here is a example of ‘Interbellum’ counterpoint by Bela Bartok, not a student of any particular school at all, but nevertheless adjusting counterpoint technique to a contemporary (1936) musical vocabulary. (This music is often imitated by film composers for its imaginary and somewhat gloomy qualities.)

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bartok

After the second world war, a group of young composers (Karlheinz Stockhausen and Pierre Boulez in particular) wanted to establish a complete new musical vocabulary, with Schönberg’s serialism as a point of departure. They broke up with all esthetic traditions that were in favour in the society that had led to the disaster of WW II. They dismissed both melody and harmony, advancing a kind of musical ‘pointillism’. And guess what technique they considered most useful to realize this ?
Yes indeed, counterpoint, though of a different kind.
They interpreted the term counterpoint [ punctus contra punctus= note against note] literally. The technique they used I would like to describe as ‘constellational’ counterpoint. Inverting and reversing swarms of pitches, firmly rooted in series of duration, dynamics and articulation.
The first cornerstone of this ‘total serialism’ was the rigorous ’Structures 1a’ for two pianos from 1951 by Pierre Boulez. The applied technique “provided him with a syntax with which he could formulate new musical thoughts”, as he described later.

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Boulez

This might sound a little dry and spasmodic but all beginnings are difficult. Soon composers like Boulez and Stockhausen proved to be in control of the new found language and managed to compose works which are now considered to be masterpieces of that era.
Here an excerpt from Kontra Punkte (1953) by Stockhausen; pay attention to the shrewd use of dynamics and instrumentation which gives this music its breathtaking resilience.


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Stockhausen

It might take some effort for one to release the whole concept of melody and allow oneself to become immersed in these highly organized clouds of sounds.
I found it worth while. It also revealed to me the true value of counterpoint as a tool and method for approaching music of all kinds, instead of a set of rules preventing one from composing something interesting...


(With thanks to Myra Geerling)




Wednesday 27th July, 2011: About grids (trope)
grids


Living in a recently designed part of Amsterdam
grid2e
means one has to come to terms with the acrid outlines of an artificial environment. Even the parched signs of nature seem to have been assembled for some architectural purpose. The whole scenery looks as if planned with a razor blade. It is no wonder that prolonged exposure to these architectonical grids slips into your thinking and working. Nevertheless, I have no problem with this influence since I have an almost obsessive fascination for structure. The grids surrounding me represent both form and transparency. I like my neighbourhood!

One of my recent wall sculptures, 'Polyptychon' [118x51x7 cm], is probably one of the offsprings of this influence. Moreover, it was made from materials found at local waste disposals, which makes it almost a tribute to this area.
polyptychon

Assembling it I left some space between the wall and the sculpture. Often a void can be an additional layer to a work, similar to silences in a piece of music.





















Monday 11th July, 2011: Sonata, ce que je veux de vous. (sequence)
Sonata, what I want from you.

The word Sonata comes from the Italian word sonare and means ‘sounding’. It was used to indicate musical works composed for instruments only, to distinguish them from works composed for voices, which are called Cantata, a word derived from the Italian word cantare.
Over the years, various rules have been established to which the Sonata should apply.
In my recent Pianosonata IV, I returned to the origins of the Sonata as a short ‘instrumental work’.
The sounds I used have been derived from John Cage’s String Quartet in four parts from 1949. The sounds consist of series of Gamuts, gridlike arrays of preset sounds. [image left]

Working with these Gamuts restrained my freedom of composing to a considerable degree and it was closer to cinematic montage than to traditional composing. It was not unlike the cut-up technique used by the Dadaists and, later on, by William Burroughs.

During this assembling of Gamuts I grew bothered by the piano’s sound limitations, which made me decide to change this by electronical means.
With the help of Martin van den Oetelaar and Willem Kwakernaat, I designed a construction to hang guitar pick ups above 14 strings of my grand piano.
The construction had to be adaptable because no two grand pianos are identical on the inside.
The signals received by the guitar pick ups can be synthesized without influencing the grand piano’s percussive and resonance sound qualities.
The pick up signals adapted thus do not produce a sound effect, but a simultaneous composition with the acoustic sonata.
This way, the sound processor is an instant composer during the performance of the Sonata.
martin v/d oetelaar

My special thanks go to my distinguished colleague Martin van den Oetelaar for his patience and support.



Martin van den Oetelaar ↑


AK/BS3

With thanks to Marleen H.

Friday 14th October, 2016:
US presidential election 2016
Saturday 26th September, 2015:
'Circuit' recent work on paper
Monday 1st September, 2014:
'Locus Y': my recent collage
Friday 24th January, 2014:
The Beuys enigma (sequence)
Saturday 6th July, 2013:
The first fifty years! (ordinarium)
Tuesday 1st January, 2013:
♩Happy 2013 & "21 chords on an E"
Monday 16th July, 2012:
☢ Safe swimming in Fukushima (antiphon)
Monday 18th June, 2012:
Jean Barraqué disassembled (trope)
Saturday 26th November, 2011:
Dangerous art? (antiphon)
Thursday 18th August, 2011:
Buy now! Greedmachine.... (antiphon)
Thursday 4th August, 2011:
On the purpose of counterpoint... (responsory)
Wednesday 27th July, 2011:
About grids (trope)
Monday 11th July, 2011:
Sonata, ce que je veux de vous. (sequence)