Tuesday, 15 August 2017

This Is Your Moment As A Human

Ramsés Morales Izquierdo, Traces from Charlottesville, August 14, 2017.

Ramsés Morales Izquierdo with his wife, Brigitte Mauchle
exemplifying how he initiates a cartoon
Every day brings the need for new cartoons and so Ramsés Morales Izquierdo had only just returned home from Copenhagen, when the cartoon above was made.

Steve Bannon looking back at the trails leading from him, unable to see the connection and as such his figure is the epitome of Ramsés' pen.

When in town Ramsés Morales Izquierdo gave a lecture to his colleagues in which he defined himself as a writer. As a cartoonist he is a writer of his ideas, transforming them into an image, he stated. A highly interesting point, which he developed further well into the evening, this time exemplifying his work process on paper.

The core notion is responsibility, instilled in Ramsés from his grandfather. The very grandfather, who gave him pen and paper with the exclamation mark: "Begin now!" when the small boy expressed his dream to be published in The New Yorker when he grew up. To a child dream and passion are one, as Ramsés says, recalling his reaction to his grandfather's words: "It was like gasoline".

His grandfather implanted in him a system of belief on how you are as a human, being in the moment that is given to you and answering the tough question before you - and you do it, you need to, without seeking to slip away.

Earlier in the day Ramsés had laid out the history of Cuba. Not just the past decade or two, but the length of Cuban history, stressing the grand personal responsibility of dealing with and to understand when living within a wall away from the rest of the world.

He is now living and working in Switzerland, which means a new concept of life as he puts it, except it makes of course no difference to his grandfather's dictum. Every day is begun with a meditation on what he is doing, seeing himself, visualizing his studio to create focus, listening in. He draws for two-three hours forcing him not to leave his desk except from looking up something. 

He is not allowed to do anything else until his grandfather's answer is found on paper. 

Ramsés demonstrated doing circles over and over again, while his brain is at work, testing the pencil. As he says, materials were lacking in Cuba and the need to invent is part and parcel with his working process. What he demonstrated that evening at the table, was a circling movement, which began adding in some sharp edges, distilling itself into a human head. 

Before us we have the key to his compositions. His cartoons features the person responsible, exposed to us in his or her utter lack of answering responsibly. Ramsés' grandfather's dictum has gained another layer by his grandson confronting the very one with the power to make a difference and who more often than not refuses to give an answer. Such as Steve Bannon above or the Saudi state below representing the human rights in the UN.

We see the betrayal. In steep contrast to the cartoonist, who will underline his assessment on subjects he ought not draw. Such as the troubled Venezuela right now. There is no need to give the US an excuse for military intervention.

Ramsés Morales Izquierdo, Saudi Arabia... Guardian of women's human rights...
April 25, 2017.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Ramsés Morales Izquierdo and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Sunday, 13 August 2017

Remembrance vs Reverence

Per Marquard Otzen, The Stymphalian Birds, September 5, 2011.
The man-eating birds with beaks of bronze, the creation of Ares, the god of war
 in Greek Mythology, along with the Danish Queen Margrethe II,
all of them ready to receive our fear and reverence.

"These monuments celebrate a fictional, sanitized Confederacy ignoring the death, ignoring the enslavement, ignoring the terror that it actually stood for". 

Earlier this year the Mayor of New Orleans, Mitch Landrieu had four monuments removed from public space, each of the four celebrating the Confederacy, the cause of which was lost in the Civil War. 

A movement known as The Lost Cause of the Confederacy, consisting of white supremacists had the monuments erected in the century following the Civil War, in the words of Mitch Landrieu:

Per Marquard Otzen, The Stymphalian Birds, September 5, 2011.
Their defeat was one of the hero Heracles' Twelve Labours.
"And after the Civil War these monuments were part of that terrorism as much as burning a cross on someone's lawn. They were erected purposefully to send a strong message to all who walked in the shadows about who was still in charge in this city".

His words form part of a strong speech Mitch Landrieu gave on May 19, 2017. Seeing the White House is unable to confront itself on its own rhetoric, let alone its key voters, let us listen to the Mayor after the violent white supremacist demonstration in Charlottesville. His speech is of particular interest to this blog defining how and especially why art matter:

Monuments form part of our public space and as such they define how we are supposed to see each other. They are efficient at hiding what took place by creating another presence before us. 

Monuments are not relics. They are not sacred items to be revered at all costs. Someone put them there for a reason. That reason may have a great ideal as its starting-point. Then again, it may just be a self-serving one. 

History cannot be removed, but monuments are not history. They are interpretations of it and must as such be up for questioning. Why place the Confederacy on a pedestal, when it "lost and we are better for it?" as Mitch Landrieu puts it. 

To uproot them are not an act of Nihilism nor problem-solving per se, but it is an insistence of seeing things from anew. Creating inclusion rather than continue the exclusion as is the case in New Orleans.

The removed monuments may be preserved at a cemetery for former monuments on which this blog quoted the idea by the sculptor Steffen Harder a few years back (sadly, so far in Danish only) A place with public admittance, but they are not taking up public space. They are at a place for thought and critical scrutiny. 

In their stead, there are other, far more relevant topics of art and life to have before us. Such as the anatomy of peace. Can we do this better?

Per Marquard Otzen, The Peace Dove,
December 6, 2007.

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Per Marquard Otzen and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Monday, 7 August 2017

Stone Scissor Paper

Darío Castillejos, Profound Anger, January 18, 2017.

The Mexican anatomy harbours anger so deep-rooted that the country is tearing its ribcage apart to be heard. The cartoonist is there listening in, giving it a visual presence of the sound so that we shall hear. So that we will understand.

Darío Castillejos, Corruption, September 30, 2017.

Shapes in bold volumes; foreshortenings in bold perspectives; highlights against deep shadowing: Darío Castillejos is working within the grand tradition of cartooning, reaching back from José Guadalupe Posada in the 19th century, who in turn inspired the muralists and cartoonists alike of the next generation. That is as grandiose a scale and outlook in art, which art history has ever seen, and Darío Castillejos is a worthy descendant two centuries later.

Darío Castillejos, Change of Bone.
His reaching across the centuries accentuates the deep-rootedness of the problems of our day and age. Man is all too ready to be corrupted and when we see the same problem across time, we understand how the undermining of society is not just stemming from crime as such, but from the organization of crime.

Organized crime as a means of social progression, as the chance to change one's status in society with the added glow of heroism when successful.

Corruption as a creator of mobility in society, however, is the antithesis of society or should we say, deformation of society to give it a visual expression. Darío Castillejos defines the deformation by emphasizing how no one is ever acting in isolation.

Everyone before us have grown together into new formations, which at first glance seems exactly that, a unity until he pressures our eyes to continue across the formation, forcing them to make a sharp turn, the sudden movement that leads us to see money changing hands or to the realization of who carries the burden of it all.

Darío Castillejos, Globalized Conflicts, June 29, 2016.

Those who carry it all remain outside: those at the lowest end of the ladder remain scattered, fearful of the next blow, continuing to carry the weight out of the very the very fear of what happens should they collapse. 

Darío Castillejos, Armed Intolerance, Jun 14, 2016.
Darío Castillejos creates texture as if his works were carved with a knife on the printing slate. At times they are.

His pen-as-knife juxtaposes highlighting with the density of the line. His figures are greasy in their greed or unwavering in their hide of metal while in stone as the institutions of society they loom monumentally to the side of the powerful.

Corruption is but one corner of what troubles society. Underneath its fellow troublemakers such as injustice, discrimination and violence, lie the basic components of human life in which greed and vanity have been allowed to create the pattern of society for too long.

Darío Castillejos, Justice in Crisis, 2014.

The imbalance is in every way a reality, with journalists losing their lives while doing their job. It is a struggle of the paper against stronger structures of the metal and stone, but he does so with the insistence of the importance of afterthought. Darío Castillejos lays the truth before us with the frankness of daring to look it in the eyes and sharing it with us. 

Darío Castillejos, October 25, 2014:
"The lady looks familiar to me..."

The cartoons shown are courtesy of Darío Castillejos and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Tuesday, 1 August 2017

The Caveman Ruleth

We have established before on this blog that the iconography on the line-up of evolution of man proves a strong, critical and original take each and every time it is applied in cartooning. It is never a stereotype, never relying on lazy cartooning.

On the contrary it is a masterful piece of iconography and of course it is so in the hands of Bonil, who exemplifies the recent election in Venezuela to rewrite the constitution in one single take on dictator and ballot box. Maduro has reversed the country he was supposed to serve to the lost regions of pre-history. 

Atop the ballot box, he is doubly mocking democracy in his aggression toward the peaceful demonstrators in the streets of Venezuela and their lawful expression of democratic rights. Instead, he is having adversaries killed or as we have just heard a few hours ago, taken from their home.

All of it encompassed in a strong composition of but a few lines of Bonil's pen upon a background of textured calm for contrast. 

Bonil, July 30, 2017.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Bonil and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Monday, 31 July 2017

Art Historian vs. Cartoonist

The Villa of Thielska Galleriet, built 1904-1907.
Architect: Ferdinand Boberg. Photo LCL, July 30, 2017.

I was pondering on the lines of the balustrades to the Thielska Gallery in Stockholm.

Built at the time of Valdemar Andersen and seeking the same solution to the use of the line: giving it at once presence and yet delicacy as if it is hardly there by punctuating it by little dots.

Valdemar would use the technique to draw cascades of a dress surrounding the actress Betty Nansen as tragedienne and in the act of posing as a tragedienne.

His architectural equivalent reaches the same effect by way of wringing the iron, removing all sense of solidity.

Valdemar Andersen, Betty Nansen, full-page monumental portrait
in the weekly satirical Klods-Hans, 1907.

The balustrade up close, The Thielska Gallery. Photo LCL, July 30, 2017.

Suddenly I discovered that we were surrounded by fire engines with blue lights ablaze. The firemen were in fact wrapping up that all was well by the time I turned around.

And that is why the art historian would fail as a cartoonist.

Friday, 28 July 2017

The Imprint of Mankind

Humans have created patterns for as long as they have been in existence. We see patterns as proof of intelligent life, of man's ability to create change. Anything and everything has been decorated with patterns through history and when we hold a tool in our hands taking a closer look at its pattern carved into it a thousand years ago, we nod: this is man. Man was here.

Man was indeed here.

Fadi Abou Hassan/FadiToOn, July 27, 2017.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Fadi Abou Hassan/FadiToOn and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Monday, 24 July 2017

"The Art of the Future"

"In our iconic society we look for meaningful images" in the words of Ramsés Morales Izquierdo, who teaches and lectures on cartooning on top of drawing them.

We were messaging this morning, the day of the trial of Musa Kart in Turkey. Cartooning is seen as a distraction and a danger, when it has the potential of which our day is in dire need. Our time and age will go down in history among those of decline of which everyone of the aftermath will shake his or her head in shame. A sentiment, which tends to encompass its artworks also. Cartoons on the other hand will be an entirely different story for their energy and critique, openly thinking and saying what their contemporaries had no time for or refused to do so.

The Statue of Liberty is one such example. She was laid out in the era of Napoleon III in which sculptures were piled with sugary detailing from wedding cake territory. The Statue of Liberty, however, was to be based upon the principle for all good drawing: The simplicity of the line.

Simplicity implies knowledge, as its artist, Frédéric Auguste Bartholdi underlined in his 1885-book The Statue of Liberty enlightening the World. A sketch in its rapidity is a concentration of what the hand of the artist has seen and understood. It encompasses the world, baring it all, omitting nothing.

"The model, like the design, should have a summarized character, such as one would give to a rapid sketch", wrote Bartholdi.

His work became an icon for the centuries as a moral compass. Ink, paper and ideas are the components of a good drawing as Ramsés says, keeping vigil with his pen.

Ramsés Morales Izquierdo, July 15, 2017.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Ramsés Morales Izquierdo and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Wednesday, 19 July 2017


Antonio Rodríguez García, The Reunion, July 10, 2017.

He would seek out the other at the dinner table, having nothing in common with his allies of which there were aplenty at the recent G20 Summit.

They have no verbal language between them, but then they have no need for any. Putin's translator was at hand that evening.

The serenity of their second meeting of the day, the official one not being enough. Undisclosed till now that it took place, as is it unknown what they exchanged, in full view, but out of earshot of the other dinner attendants.

Those inner secrets from the one, who cannot hold back and the one, who knows how to take advantage of any information he obtains in an hour-long one-on-one+translator.

Bear in mind. Ulay sought out Marina Abramovic during her performance The Artist Is Present at MOMA in 2010, and we were all in tears at the two former lovers sitting across each other in full view. But then, Ulay would go on to sue Abramovic for his share of their royalties from their years together. Ah, love!

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Antonio Rodríguez García and must not be reproduced without his permission.

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

The Dictator

Erdogan bellowed out recently that we should look up what the word dictator means and with due regret for our tardiness, let us turn to the Encyclopedia Cartooniensa for immediate clarification:

Vasco Gargalo, The Guillotine, July 17, 2017.

"Dictator" derives from dictare, i.e. laying down authoritatively, or the verbal equivalent of an execution.

Vasco Gargalo lets Erdogan's face mirror itself in the blade, giving it a sculptural dimension, which is one of his fortes as a cartoonist. He creates for the startle of what should be the softness of a human face while the shadowing is in fact a property of the metal. The reflection of which is further set off by the texturing of the wooden structure.

Erdogan's eyes are closed to the consequences of his authoritarianism. Dictators can be recognized on their spinal deficiency. They absolutely refuse to take responsibility for their actions.

So, Vasco Gargalo presents Erdogan with blood on his forehead. Erdogan was and is the one dictating that the cartoonist Musa Kart has been imprisoned since November 2016.

The cartoon shown is courtesy of Vasco Gargalo and must not be reproduced without his permission.

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