About haydenyates

Father, Teacher and Filmmaker.

How important is Jóhann’s contribution to the 21st century?

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Jóhann Eyfells with M.J. Neal

“We shall never surrender”. Those were the words that Winston Churchill pronounced at the wake of the Nazi Invasion of France in 1940. In 2017, there is another invasion that has been going on for many years, perhaps decades, and that is the mediocrity of art and  of the apparent corruption that seems to have permeated the Art world, where art is considered to be nothing more than a commodity and a means to exclude and even extinguish out of existence many meaningful and important artists of our time. Art can be equated to mean anything that requires a certain level of creative planning, execution and outcome. The outcome of that narrative begins the moment the art piece, like a sculpture, is shown to a receptive audience. However, what determines whether the art is successful and important is not necessarily through exhibition, peer or public scrutiny, or how complex and successful the narrative is, but rather is sometimes judged and priced arbitrarily by an elite group of art buyers, collectors and critics.

The question is how do we know if the art is good, and how can we determine that for ourselves? Some say that “art is subjective, and not all art is for all people.” Whether someone likes it or not, art should have a number of criterias that can determine whether the art is important and meaningful to someone(s). Here is something I found that might guide us a little.

“How to Judge Art: Five Qualities you can Critique whether you’re an Artist or not.”

“The characteristics I found were beauty, skill, inherent meaning, uniqueness, and fulfilled intent. I’ll explain each of these throughout the article.

I’m convinced that anyone can use their own fundamental knowledge to compare artwork based on these five inherent properties. Even if other people have a different opinion than you do about a particular work of art, this article should help you explain how you came to your conclusion.

All right, so on the basis that all art is not created equal, let’s get to the nitty-gritty and break down these five characteristics of art.

Beauty in Art

Beauty is, and always will be, in the “eye of the beholder.” Your decision about the beauty or lack of beauty in a particular work of art is instinctive and natural. In fact, you probably won’t even have to make that decision, you’ll just either be captivated by a piece of art or you won’t.

People within the same social context often agree on what is beautiful, so you’ll probably find others close by who will like the same things as you do. Some aspects of art that are generally appealing to people are:

1. Repeating shapes, patterns, and symmetry.
2. Colors, especially colors that complement or enhance each other.
3. Textures, both visual and physical (like thick, impasto paint).
4. Crops and compositions that focus the eye and keep the viewers’ attention.
5. Movement or flow to guide viewers through the art.
6. Correct or appealing proportions of figures and objects.
7. Presentation and framing.

You won’t need to take a checklist into the galleries for this since your eye will naturally be drawn to the art you prefer. Like I mentioned before, this is the easy one. All you have to do is answer the question, “Do I like this?” Of course, if you decide to ask why you like it, then the list above might come in handy.

Cezanne still life with table

Skill and technique

Technical skill is the most comparable and measurable aspect of art. As you look at a painting (or any other work of art) you probably will be able to determine how skillfully it was created simply by comparison with other works.

First, compare the works to other art you’ve seen in that medium before – if it is a painting, for example, decide whether this artist is more talented than others you’ve seen. It might be difficult if you’re just starting out, and in that case, don’t let it worry you. It will only take a short amount of time for you to see the differences between a skillful painting and one that’s poorly done.

Second, look at all the artwork on display by the artist. You might find that some are more impressive than others, or appear better made, and you’ll certainly have an idea of one or two that are the best out of the entire group.

Third, look at each work of art itself. Are they individually consistent? Are there places that you can see odd markings compared to another area within the same piece? Sometimes art may look rushed or strange, but if it is created in a similar fashion throughout the entire piece then the effect is most likely intentional. If not, then that work may not be as good as some others that are more internally cohesive.

Judging the level of skill in a work of art is probably the most difficult thing I’m suggesting to do in this article. Over time and with more exposure to art you will eventually come to a greater understanding of different mediums. Plus, if you’re lucky enough to be an artist yourself you’ll probably find out that you instinctively have a better grasp of other mediums already.

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Inherent meaning

Art is powerful, not just for its beauty or the talent needed for its creation, but because it can cause emotion, make political statements, or challenge preconceived ideas. Of course not all works of art are intended to be so thought-provoking. A still life of oranges and apples, for example, usually won’t have a deeper meaning. If it does, I think the artist deserves more credit than for a traditional still life.

Here are five levels of meaning in art, which I’ve listed in order of increasing importance.

1. Purely representational art – Made simply for visual appeal, with no deeper intent.

2. Art that references other art – It “tips its hat” to some other work, possibly providing a fresh perspective or continuing a conversation that another artist began.

3. Art that tells a story, or evokes a specific emotion – This is art that begins to affect you. It might cause you to understand, empathize or feel what’s being depicted.

4. Art that makes a statement – Here the artist is clearly speaking through the work, actively promoting a cause or perhaps bringing attention to an issue that’s important to him or her.

5. Art that is an allegory or metaphor – This is art that contains more than one meaning, and possibly several. It use symbolic imagery or deal with more intangible human issues, and yet the artwork should still work as a visually appealing creation.

Look for these when you look at art. Finding meaning or emotion in art opens up a whole new realm of enjoyment, and will deepen your appreciation of artists who incorporate it into their work.

Uniqueness

This is the aspect of art which relates to not only what the artist is depicting but also how the artist is depicting it.

Good art either explores new subjects, or old subjects in a way that hasn’t been done before. When you look at art, ask yourself what (if anything) is different in the work from all the other art you’ve seen. Sometimes it will jump out at you, sometimes it won’t. If you do notice something different, decide for yourself whether that unique quality distracts from or enhances the piece.

There’s a happy medium, I believe, in finding art that stands out from the crowd but doesn’t use gimmicks or cause distractions.

Fulfilled intent

What is the artist trying to say? I hear this question a lot, and for the most part there’s a simple way to find out. If you’re at a gallery, read the artist statement. Many artists just want to accurately portray a subject, or to express an emotion. The important thing is for the artist to be in control of the art. If the intent is one thing, the art shouldn’t say something else. The artist statement should deepen and strengthen the viewers’ understanding of the art.

Cezanne still life with flaskI’d suggest that when you go to a solo show, briefly scan all of the works being displayed so you can get an idea of the artist’s style and note any constant themes, emotions, or ideas.

Then go through each piece of art again, but more slowly, to really study them. Take your time and determine what you think of each one according to the five characteristics mentioned in this article. After that, check out the artist’s statement.

Compare the artist’s intent with what you had previously understood the intent to be, and then armed with that knowledge (trust me, sometimes it’ll blow your mind) make one last round of the gallery to see how your opinions have changed.

If you experienced the artist’s intent before reading the statement, excellent. If you only got it after reading the artist’s statement, that’s OK too, just not quite as good.

This method keeps the art from being overshadowed immediately by what the artist is saying about his or her work. It lets the art speak for itself, yet the artist still gets a chance to clarify what is meant in case you miss the point on your own.

Of course, if you can’t even understand what the artist is saying in the artist statement, then just try to enjoy the art for its visual impact and don’t worry about it. The intent probably wasn’t very clear for that artist either.

To sum it all up:

Good art should appeal to you. It will be skillfully made, most likely by an artist who has created other works in a similar fashion.

The best art has meaning beyond just an image; perhaps it will bring you to tears, make you laugh, or remind you of something you’d almost forgotten. It also stands out in a crowd, and dares to be different.

Most importantly (in my opinion) good art is understandable, although it may make you think in ways you never expected to.

I hope you found this article helpful; I know that in writing it I’ve solidified some of my own views about art. Feel free to send me your own comments or feedback as well.”

*All images in this post are details from still life paintings by Cezanne.”

In the end, art is nothing more than a commodity, and its value is arbitrary, unless someone(s) is willing to break the mold and take the risk and forfeit actual money for the piece, due to its inherent value to the collector, not the value determined by those market forces. People who have the means to buy art are less likely to forfeit money on art that is not deemed “marketable” in the Art World. If the work is not deemed valuable by market demand, than the art is “un valued.” By the way, not all marketable art is good art, and it seems that the world has ignored that fact for many decades now.

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Jóhann Eyfells, at 94, is without a doubt one of the most diverse and important artist of the 20th and 21st centuries. However, the recognition he has sought has been as elusive as the collectors for his work. Why? Very simple he doesn’t play the game that most recognized artists have, and he is to many collectors, buyers and critics untamed and enigmatic. His body of work challenges the viewer by its impressive forms, diversity, physical size & weight, and its inherent deeper meanings. He is one of the most true and honest artist that this world could ever hope to produce today, whose creative process is deep, precise, and multidimensional. He brings to this world an opportunity to not only peer into the unknowing universe that resides around us, but also within our own consciousness. He needs our attention, because this world desperately needs him to help us out of our mediocrity and growing lassitude.

 

 

Jóhann Eyfells will never surrender because what keeps him alive is not whether he will be accepted, appreciated or if his work will sell, but because he embodies the spirit of an artist, continuously searching for the opportunity to express what words can’t possibly express about ourselves and the universe we belong to.

 

 

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We did it! “Best Documentary Film”

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Our film had its US premiere in Fredericksburg, Texas. It had a tremendous reception. It won the “Best Documentary” category at the 2017 Hill Country Film Festival. As the director and co-producer, I cannot say enough about the experience of watching our own film, A Force in Nature, in front of a live audience. It was a very moving and emotional moment, probably the most satisfying I’ve ever experienced in my entire life.

What a way to introduce this film to the world. It had its American premiere in Fredericksburg, Texas, the very spot where the film began filming, almost 10 years ago. On September 28 – October 8, 2017 the film will have it’s European Premiere at the Reykjavik International Film Festival where Jóhann Eyfells was born. This promises to be quite a homecoming for the artist and his priceless body of work.

 

World Premier at the 2017 Hill Country Film Festival – April 27-30

 

I don’t know if I am awake or dreaming any of this, or if in fact the making of our film, A Force in Nature, has reached its final conclusion, giving way to a new phase in the film’s life cycle. We helped it along through its conception and development, and now it’s about to be born out for the world to see and experience for the first time.

Finishing A Force in Nature was undoubtedly a personal challenge for me. Through the course of the ten years of production/post-production, I would often wonder if it would ever get finished, especially since this film was mostly self-funded. The close collaboration I had with co-producer and editor Vishwanand Shetti (aka. V.) during the past 6 years was not only an extraordinary opportunity to learn the art of perseverance and patience with getting the project finished, but also afforded V. and I the space to explore the depths of Jóhann’s life and his thought provoking art installations.

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The 2017 Hill Country Film Festival will be where the film will have its first public exhibition on Saturday, April 29. For me personally, this process of making this film has also fostered a long and lasting collaborative friendship with both V and Jóhann Eyfells, who continue to have an unwavering influence on me as a human being and artist.

Being an artist is nothing short of insanity, yet its the type of insanity the world needs right now, desperately! Its the right kind of insanity, in which we are challenged to allow ourselves to experience the unexpected and spontaneous, and be aware of the forces that keep us complaisant and indifferent. When taking action or making a gesture, an artist does so without hesitation because he/she knows that the expression itself has to be authentic and immediate. The artist does not allow fear to dictate the decisions and choices he/she makes, but rather fear is merely there to signal that an action and/or thought is to take place.

As is often the case, when in the presence of Jóhann, one is constantly put to the intellectual test. Recently, Jóhann Eyfells and I discussed the difference between the concepts of “instinct” and “intuition”. He asked me if I knew the difference. Hesitantly, I responded that I thought I had good intuition and instinct and admittedly used both words interchangeably, not really aware of the difference. Jóhann was quick to point out the difference to me, explaining that “instinct”, which comes from deep within our nature to feel, is spontaneous and tireless, while “intuition”, which is more connected with intellectual reasoning, is more deliberate and sluggish. That got me thinking. Once more Jóhann challenges me to get in the ring and participate in the fight against complacency, and to do that, I must be willing to jump headfirst into the dark abyss, in other words, the unknown.

Do you know the difference between “instinct” and “intuition?”

Hayden de M. Yates (director and co-producer)

Visit HillCountryff.com and book your festival passes now. A Force in Nature will be screening on Saturday, April 29 at 11am.

“This is my best work yet!”

At 93, Jóhann is in the midst of creating yet another large body of work, which is no less challenging to the critical eye of the public viewer. Not only is it large in scale, but extremely massive in weight, some pieces weighing up to 14 tons. I cannot readily explain the meaning of this series of sculptural pieces, but I do know that after 11 years of knowing him and following him through several different phases, that this one is quite remarkable.

The process by which these pieces are created begins by him finding large discarded and often mangled single purpose industrial parts, reminiscent of the industrial age and beyond. As he scrutinizes and makes his selection, Jóhann is carefully listening to each piece as it whispers to him, expressing its mangled past, each one subjected to the various destructive forces that shaped it as it was being decommissioned and discarded. It’s as if, once it loses its “raison d’être”or usefulness as a cog in the machine, the individual unique narrative of it’s life begins to take shape. The “cog” that was designed for its functional usefulness, born out, manufactured ‘en masse’, indistinguishable from the rest of the cogs, is now given new life again to express its unique self. Once again, Jóhann the artist, is the midwife that brings each of these pieces to light for us to experience.

As a viewer or participant of these Eyfells’ pieces,  I can say with total conviction that if you are willing to listen hard enough to your own creative source, each piece will speak to you in ways that will blow your mind. Personally, I was left stunned.

SEE THE FILM: https://vimeo.com/135532487

Submission to festivals

Now that the film is finished, except for a few minor touch ups, we are now ready to submit it to all sorts of film festivals. We’ve just submitted it for consideration at next year’s Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah and SXSW in Austin, TX. The dates for both festivals are as follows:

Sundance Film Festival is  January 21-31, 2017 (Notification date is December 7). SXSW is March 10-19, 2017 (Notification date is February 10).

V. and I were also able to make a poster for our film, utilizing an image that was originally shot by Ian Candler. I suspect we will have a couple other options before too long. Here is our poster:

Counting Down the Days: Post-production (editing) is coming to a final end, giving way to a new beginning.

May 18, 2016

Our NLE timeline!!!!

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The moment we have been waiting for is quickly approaching. The narrative or story for our film is completely constructed and finally finished! We have 100 minutes of ‘story’ laid down on the timeline. Now comes the work of bringing in all together in a cohesive structure, as well as add the b-roll, wild sound, graphics and proper music. Both V and I are ecstatic that we are finally at this stage! Something I have long waited for since the project began… About 9 years ago.

(Hayden de Maisoneuve Yates – Producer & Director)

 August 7, 2016

Last night, to my delight, I just saw the rough final cut of our film, A Force in Nature, that Vishwanand Shetti had just completed after pulling many all night sessions of editing that would usually begin at 10pm the night before and end the following morning at 7am. We’ve reached that critical place my friends! I can say without a doubt that it’s turning out BEAUTIFULLY!

Can you believe it? We’ve been editing for over four years?
It’s also been that long since Anderson Seal and I had shot some of the most beautiful Icelandic scenery this world has to offer (https://vimeo.com/151791661), and meeting the most incredible group of people you could ever hope to meet, the EYFELLS family!
I am both humbled and grateful by the experiences this film and my 11 year friendship with Johann Eyfells have been able to offer me. Both Vishwanand and I acknowledge that the growth and friendship that we both experienced on this film has been deeply profound.
The next stage now is to add graphics, do a final sound mix, find the right music, and do some color correcting, and start shopping it around and exhibiting it. We would like to welcome my dear friend Gary Walker to the fold as he will be doing some of his post-production magic on our film. He was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Individual Achievement in a Craft: Graphic Design for his work on The Eyes of Me.

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A FORCE in NATURE is a film that celebrates the artist spirit that makes the impossible seem possible. Johann Eyfells embodies that human spirit that emboldens us to face our fears of the unknown and become more than what we perceive of ourselves. Jóhann is certainly not Cervantes’ tragic and defeated character of Don Quixote, Man of La Mancha, but rather the true hero that fought all of his monsters and won!

Together Vishwanand Shetti and I are very proud of what we were able to accomplish with this film, and we could not have done without you and the support you have all shown us!

You can visit our blog at https://www.facebook.com/groups/128411080555698/and read all about Jóhann and our filming through the course of the last 4+ years.

(Hayden de M. Yates – Producer and Director)

September 4, 2016

Five years of editing is coming to a close. I’ve spent every spare moment of my 30’s studying every interview and allowing the process of Johann Eyfells to become part of our process.

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Funny thing is I only personally met this 93 year old sculptor for maybe the 4th or 5th time in all these years last week, yet he has become a very influential person in my life after the tens of thousands of hours I’ve spent working with the hundreds of hours that the director, Hayden Maisoneuve Yates, has captured over the past 10 years. Looking forward to sharing these ~90 mins real soon.

(Vishwanand Shetti – Producer and Editor)

September 16, 2016

Our new timeline. Finished!

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September 24, 2016

We just submitted our film to both the Sundance Film Festival and SXSW, which means we have really finished! It’s taking a little time for this to sink in. From this point on the film will take a life of its own. Both Vishwanand and I are exulted at the the idea that we now can see the kind of life that this beautiful film will take. Be sure to keep updated on the day to day events on our Facebook page

https://www.facebook.com/groups/128411080555698/

SEE THE FILM: https://vimeo.com/135532487

I am a Thief

“I am a thief. I steal someone’s creation. I take someone else’s ‘success and make it my own.” Jóhann Eyfells

There is an inert and outward beauty in these so called found objects that Eyfells selects as his own. How is he able to recognize the inherent genius that created each of these objects? Is it God or is it Man? When each of these forms were initially created, they were designed and manufactured for a single function use to serve mankind. Jóhann Eyfells recognizes, not only the brilliant unambiguous engineering in each of these object, but also the inherent beauty of obsolescence. Most of these pieces share a common fate. They experienced a similar array of forces that it took to create, utilize and destroy them. Eyfells is merely there to bring these forces to light by displaying these objects in their various stages of disintegration and dissolution. He will also go as far as to give them new life and re-purpose them into functioning pieces of art. Thanks to Jóhann they begin a new life of artistic expression.

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(photo courtesy of Hayden de M. Yates)

Should you wish to participate towards the making of our feature film documentary, A Force in Nature, you can do so right here:

https://paypal.me/VitruviusCreations

My life with Jóhann

It is a rare moment when I can fully reflect on my life and acknowledge how a single human being has significantly influenced my life.  But after almost 10 years of knowing Jóhann Eyfells, as an artist and a human being, I have finally managed to do just that.

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The art of Johann Eyfells is not an embodiment of the person but rather an expression of  something beyond the person, beyond the rational constructs of modern civilization that have shaped our physical lives. When you stand and face an Eyfells’ sculpture be prepared to be intellectually, psychically and spiritually challenged. You are about to enter a reality that is both unfamiliar and irrational. It is truly the unknown, seemingly chaotic, which most of us will avoid at all costs.

I have no doubt now, that Jóhann Eyfells is as nimble, precise and swift with his understanding of the cosmos and the physical world we live in, as he was in the ring as a boxing champion in Iceland. It is with this almost ‘supernatural’ agility that he is able to conceptualize and execute all of his projects, whether it is his collapsions, in which ‘time’ as an abstract concept is visually revealed, his cairns, his rocks or his multiple installations of ‘industrial made’ found objects of massive proportions, sometime weighing up to 14 tons.

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And let me tell you, when I stop to think how a 92 year old, whose body is as fragile as porcelain, can manage to lift and precisely position these huge rusted steel remnants of an industrial age past to satisfy his aesthetic compulsion as an artist, I am often left speechless and astonished.

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Yes, indeed, he often sees the inherent beauty of something that would otherwise seem obsolete and discarded to most of us seemingly ‘forward thinking’ humans, and that is precisely what these objects have become to him, beautiful expressions of human engineering and brilliance. Recently, they have become necessary and critical components to articulating to the world our often unsettled and sometimes fearful relationship with the unknown and irrational. It does seem ironic that he uses the very elements that not only embody the rational and physical world, manufactured tools and elements of the industrial age, like giant turbine propellers, to open our minds to the unfamiliar seemingly insane world of Eyfells.

As a true artist, he tirelessly challenges our tendency towards complacency, brought on by the comforts and conveniences of the industrial, electronic and now, digital age. I see him as the Don Quixote of the 21st century, tirelessly and against all odds, confronting the rational world, except this time he does not represent a tragic character that ultimately gives in to ‘convention’ and renounces his ‘insanity’ to become a mere shepherd. No, instead, he selflessly provides us with the opportunity to see for ourselves how collectively we can easily be allured by the deceptiveness of rational thought, that it is ok to embrace the irrational, the unknown. He is our new hero, without a doubt, and it will take us a little while to realize this. Its highly probable that he will not see this revolution of thought take hold before he passes on, but I would hope that he will bare witness to a larger audience and more global appreciation of his accomplishments.

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If WE are willing and courageous enough to allow ourselves to be immersed into the unknown and uncharted aspects of our intellect and psyche, I promise, like I have, YOU will in fact see the light and wisdom of Jóhann’s aesthetic expression and art, and as a result, be forever transformed.

Today, thanks to the insight I’ve gained through Johann’s work and vision, I feel I am at a better place in my life, simply because I am not defeated by the fear of the unknown. In fact, it is that fear that signals that part of me to move forward instead of backward, to take risks and ‘leaps of faith’. It is also through those ‘leaps of faith’ that I discover new understanding, not only of myself, but of the cosmos around me. I will certainly miss Jóhann when he is no longer with us, but his insight and joy of life will eternally course through my veins.        Written by Hayden de M. Yates

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Photos by Hayden de M. Yates and Ian Candler

To see the trailer of the new documentary film, A Force in Nature, go to the following link:  https://vimeo.com/135532487