The Witless Clunkery of a Third-Rate Mind

Friday, September 16, 2011

Jan Svankmajer Exhibit in Harajuku

I still have a few days off before I start back to work (lucky me!) so I met up with a friend from work and we went and had ramen at our favourite ramen shop. Real ramen is so different from the pre-packaged stuff that I kind of feel sorry for people who have never tried it. (I know that sounds obnoxious ... but then again, last year I had Peking Duck for the first time and I remember thinking, "Wow! Why have I never eaten this before? This is amazing!") In fact, there was a poll recently on "the best foods in the world". Ramen came in at number 8, which is perhaps a little bit high, actually, but I agree that, when you're in the mood for some rich, salty pork broth and noodles, there's nothing quite like it. (And remembering my experience with the Peking Duck, I am looking forward to trying some of the other foods on the list that I have never eaten.)

After lunch, I decided to go to an exhibition of some works by Jan Svankmajer. He's a Czech surrealist filmmaker whose movies I have really enjoyed in the past. His films usually have a lot of stop-motion animation and puppetry, and he is not only a painter and a photographer, but a sculptor who makes all kinds of strange, organic looking objects to use in his films.

Most of his pieces are really bizarre and creepy, which means I find them really interesting! It was cool to be able to see the pieces up close, but I was left wondering how he made a lot of them. Because they are to some extent "movie props", I was surprised how good they look up close.

Any time I see a really good exhibition, I feel a little bit sad that I haven't kept up my art. I used to draw a lot in high school, and at one stage I considered going to art school, but I went to university for physics instead. It seemed like the more responsible thing to do, but I wonder what my life would be like now had I pursued that direction.

I think it's one thing to do art as a hobby, but life seems to intrude, and you never devote enough time to the art. But if you are a full-time artist, I think one thing inspires the next; you get drawn deeper and deeper into your work, and projects spawn other projects. Certainly, that seems to be the case with Svankmajer, who is extremely prolific and is still active and pursuing new directions now at age 77. One of the most interesting parts of the exhibition was a series of collages on the theme of Japanese ghost stories. Really cool!


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