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

2017_8_Sculpture2

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.

cezanne apples and oranges still life

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.

sculpture12-1-of-1

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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Meaning – a poem

The following poem was written by Jóhann Eyfells, which was also part of his thesis:

MEANING

Conceptions of man,

Synthesized in active structures of cosmic rhythms.

Unadulterated formative forces,

Expanding the vistas of emotional discourse,

Convictions transformed in actions,

Attitudes and inward visions,

Hewn in harmonic forms and spaces,

Conceived in the circular expanse of barren horizons.

Rebelling against random nature,

Symbol of cohesion,

Heralded,

Staunch mark of its epoch,

Bearing meanings extracted from life,

Affirming implicit spiritual liberation,

In sky oriented forms of living faith.

Forces in Nature – Jóhann Eyfells  a documentary film

Chapter 3 – Kale’s Vision

The last part of our journey was no less amazing. Johann’s niece, Margret and her husband Kale invited us to stay in the northern territory of Iceland, in Akureyri, where we stayed for the next two nights. The flight north with Air Iceland was also a treat since we were invited to accompany and film the pilots in the cockpit, one of whom happened to be Margret and Kale’s son. Once on the ground, our guide Kale would drive us 100’s of kilometers through lava fields, along coastal roads, into volcanoes and finally to one of the largest waterfalls in Europe, Dettifoss , one of the most spectacular sites I’d ever experienced.

Gold

Chapter 2 – The Song Ingibjörg – An amazing journey, still unfolding…

We traveled about 7 hours toward the east and south to finally end up at Jökulsárlón where the huge glaciers are breaking off into the sea.

Iceberg2

The people of Iceland

Páll of Húsafelli - artist and musician

Páll of Húsafelli – artist and musician

Here’s  a link to Páll Gudmundsson’s site: http://www.pallg.is/Default.asp?Sid_Id=320&tId=1&Tre_Rod=&qs

Chapter 1 – Ingólfur and the Ghost Crevice – Filming A Force in Nature in Iceland

Since Monday, we have been traveling through some of the most remote and breath taking areas of Iceland, and here are some photos of the actual shoot to prove it. Anderson Seal, from Newport Beach, California, is our camera assistant extraordinaire and friend, and we are so lucky to have him with us. Ingólfur Eyfells,  Jóhann Eyfells’ son, has been our amazing guide, cultural attaché and location coordinator, and the rest of his family have been so gracious and kind to accommodate us these last 2 days and throughout the three weeks we will be in Iceland.

Don’t forget to check out our teaser trailer for the film on Vimeo:  https://vimeo.com/37860833

The first part of our journey, Chapter 1, was meticulously organized and guided by Jóhann Eyfells’ son, Ingólfur Eyfells. Being a project manager of a company that is solely in charge of operating Iceland’s electricity transmission grid, and also an avid hiker and adventurer,  Ingólfur’s knowledge of the interior country and its people was critical in our search for images that captured the very essence of this incredibly beautiful country. His own experiences growing up as a child also led us to places where we gained valuable insight into the lore, history and culture of the Icelandic people.

The Ghost Crevice was one such place, where it is said that spirits that were lurking and bothering the local farmers below were relocated to this giant crevice in the hills so that they could move on to the afterlife. When we did hike through and into the crevice and reached its very depths, it occurred to us that there was not a single sound that could be heard, except that which came from our own breaths and footsteps. Once inside this tall, naturally shaped, spiraling cathedral, we completely felt alone in another world along with the absolute stillness that seem to echo the mysteries of the world unknown. This experience alone has without a doubt made a deep impression in my own psyche. Simon and Garfunkel’s  Sound of Silence has taken on a whole new meaning for me.

With Ingólfur, we must have traveled hundreds of miles of dirt roads to see and experience some of the most breathtaking landscapes the world has ever created. Iceland is an island that continues to be formed and changed by its volcanic nature and temperament, so the landscapes are ever changing and diverse.

Ciaran Hope – a.k.a. Ciaran Dóchas is our music supervisor for Forces of Nature.

Ciaran Hope – Music Composer and Supervisor

I want to take this opportunity to welcome an extremely talented and loyal friend, Ciaran Hope, to our team. Please take an opportunity to read about this man’s accomplishments and life.

Since first dipping his toes into the film mecca of Hollywood in the late 90’s, Irish composer Ciaran has diligently spent his time working for prestigious film and production companies, projects, and organizations. To this day, his original pieces are shaped from a rigorous, distinguished artistic training and strong affinity with the music.

As a former Fulbright Scholar in film music, Ciaran has been the recipient of awards such as the IMRO prize at the RTE Musician of the Future, the International Solstice Composition Prize, a National Training Commission for Film and Television Bursary, an Arts Council of Ireland Postgraduate Award and his music was a finalist at the International Clarinet Association Composition Contest and the International Song for Peace Contest, while his work on the Hollywood feature film The Insider was nominated for a Golden Globe Award.

Ciaran has been commissioned to create classical pieces for prestigious cultural groups and organizations such as the Czech Clarinet Quartet and the Latvian Ministry of Arts and Culture and the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan, where his new work will be the signature tune for the centre and will be played before performances, at launches, exhibition openings and other publicity events. His recent commission for children’s string orchestra, titled “A Spring Morning” premiered on the main concert stage at Euro Disney and the Church of Sainte-Merri in Paris during the summer of 2011 and the reaction from the performers, parents and audience was phenomenal.

Since being awarded an Arts Council of Ireland Project Bursary Award to write a new violin concerto for violinist Cora Venus Lunny, violinist and composer have been collaborating closely on the new concerto. Ciaran has also undertaken residencies at the Tyrone Guthrie Artist’s retreat in Co. Monaghan and the Cill Rialaig Artist Retreat in remote Co. Kerry to work on the concerto, with the kind support of a 2011 Tyrone Guthrie Centre regional Bursary Award and a 2012 Cill Rialaig Residency Award.

Internationally, Ciaran’s music has been performed at showcases such as the Electro-acoustic music Festival of Cadiz, the Symposium of Brazilian Computer Music and the Logan Chamber Music Series in the famed Chautauqua Institute, New York. This year, his music was selected for performance at the second Beijing Irish Modern Music Festival of Beijing on March 18th 2012. He has also contributed music towards films that have been featured at over 40 film festivals around the world and have enjoyed commercial success in the U.S. entertainment industry as a composer for major entertainment companies, including Walt Disney, Trimark Pictures, Alcon Entertainment, TomandAndy, and Alliance Atlantis.

Commercially, his 2006 album, Etude in Film Score, was so successful that it made the top 40 sales at CDBaby.com in its first month. A track from the album, “Childhood Ends,” was selected for inclusion on an exclusive, limited release CDBaby promotional CD due to the album’s success.

Ciaran has also participated in BMI’s prestigious Conducting Workshop, where an elite group of 8 composers out of their 400,000 membership are chosen to spend two weeks working intensely with a conductor and live musicians at the musicians union in Los Angeles. His ‘classmates’ included World Soundtrack Award Winning and Golden Globe nominated composer Abel Korzeniowski, BMI Award winner Juan Carlos Rodriguez and Emmy nominated Annie winning composer Guy Moon.

As a speaker, Ciaran have given master classes on composing for film at a variety of venues including Trinity College Dublin, the Dundalk Institute of Technology, the University of Colorado at Denver and the Solstice Arts Centre in Navan. In December 2010, at the behest of the Provost Dr. John Hegarty, he organized a panel discussion that took place in the Science Gallery at Trinity College Dublin which focused on music placement and scoring in film and TV and gave master classes on film composition to Trinity postgraduate and undergraduate music students. The panel sold out in 3 days.

With a Masters degree in audio acoustics and a keen interest in all things audio, Ciaran has also published several research papers in audio acoustics and is currently exploring a new research project into the sonic stimulation of cell cultures at the world famous Saban Research Institute of Children’s Hospital Los Angeles.

Having completed writing and recording string arrangements for producer Noel Hogan of The Cranberries, his new score to the new Hollywood feature film Truth About Kerry starring Stana Katic(ABC’s CASTLE) is being very well received. It has just been announced that Ciaran was awarded the position of Composer in Residence for 2013 in the Centre Culturel Irlandais, Paris, where he will work on a new opera on the life of Robert Emmet.