Monday, January 9, 2017

ART | An Eye-Bending New Series of Paintings, Without Paint

Two works from the artist Emil Lukas’s new “Tubes” series. CreditCourtesy of Sperone Westwater
When the artist Emil Lukas decamped from his Harlem studio about 25 years ago, he landed in Stockertown, Penn. — only 90 minutes from downtown Manhattan, but remote enough to include an impressive compound with a barn for painting and an industrial space for large-scale projects. “I moved out here because I wanted to work and be left alone,” says the 52-year-old multimedia artist, who considers himself a painter but uses paint about as often as he receives visitors (which is to say, rarely).
Currently, the industrial space — a 14,000-square-foot former factory that dates back to the turn of the 20th century — houses new “paintings” about to be unveiled for the first time this week at his longtime gallery, Sperone Westwater. Lukas is best known for his “Thread” series: canvases overlaid with multicolor woven polyester, using a loom system nailed into the frame, ultimately achieving a unique luminosity. “There has to be an optical excitement that’s transmitted from the artist to the viewer,” he says. “A ‘Thread’ becomes more special than just thread.”
The show will debut expansions of his “Threads,” along with “Stacks” (multilayered towers that are, he explains, “all connected conceptually, physically and visually”), “Bubble Wrap” (an updated take on a series that began in the late 1980s) and his magnum opus, “Liquid Lens,” an experiment using tubes from last year that’s quickly become his latest artistic fascination. “In a weird way, I consider these paintings, because they’re a warped surface that been manipulated and altered to create this event,” Lukas says of all of his series.
Clockwise from left: Lukas with one of his “Thread” paintings; a detail shot of a “Tube” work; the former factory in rural Pennsylvania where Lukas’s studio is located. CreditCourtesy of Sperone Westwater
At first, “Liquid Lens,” a 12-by-9-by-3-foot behemoth of welded aluminum tubes, might appear to fall into the realm of George Rickey and other practitioners of kinetic art. (“Everyone loves them; I’m O.K. with them,” Lukas quips.) But there’s a key difference: “I wanted to make a kinetic sculpture that moves with you but has no kinetic parts,” he explains. In creating “Liquid Lens,” the first and largest exploration in what has become his “Tubes” series, Lukas concerned himself with the tricks and mechanics of one- and two-point perspective — much as a traditional painter would. Depending on where one stands, sight lines and shadows connect quite literally to the viewer. “People get reconnected to what’s on the other side. They move with you, they follow you, in a way,” he says. “When you look at something, something has to happen. That’s what happens in my work.”
Lukas’s work may seem conceptual, but he avoids placards or lengthy essays explicating how to experience his pieces. “A painting needs to reveal itself. I think it’s generous to leave a work at a point where someone can look at it and figure out what it is, no explanations,” he says. “Let it be the way it is. Anyone curious enough can find the truth of the whole thing.” For Lukas, who has spent much of his career attempting to understand, interpret and play with the mechanics of the human eye, that truth often lies in the space between perception and optical illusion. “You really just have a few ideas, it’s all you’ve got,” he says. “The reason why they’re the few ideas you have is because they don’t let go of you.”

Guided Portugal’s Shift to Democracy

Mr. Soares in 2006. He was a relentless foe of the fascist government of Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar, who ruled Portugal for more than 40 years. CreditNicolas Asfouri/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
Mário Soares, the pugnacious Socialist leader who guided Portugal’s rocky transition to democracy in the 1970s after decades of dictatorship, died on Saturday in Lisbon. He was 92.
Mr. Soares died in the Red Cross hospital in Lisbon where he had been hospitalized since mid-December, according to José Barata, an official from the hospital. Mr. Barata did not specify an exact cause of death.
His death was confirmed by Portugal’s Socialist Party, The Associated Press reported. The party did not give further details.
Mr. Soares, a lawyer, was a relentless foe of the fascist government of Prime Minister António de Oliveira Salazar, who ruled Portugal for more than 40 years. He was later the central figure in Portuguese politics after Salazar’s successor, Marcello Caetano, was deposed in what became known as the Carnation Revolution of 1974.
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(Originally a military-led coup, the revolt became a mass movement of civil unrest characterized by carnations that were handed out and placed in the barrels of soldiers’ rifles and tanks.)
In the course of his career, Mr. Soares (pronounced SWAH-esh) suffered years of imprisonment, exile and political defeat. He served twice as prime minister, only to watch his country’s first attempts at representative democracy fall apart amid bitter party feuds.
He fought his country’s economic isolation and efforts to drag the revolution down anti-democratic paths. He also oversaw the granting of independence to Portugal’s African colonies and the country’s integration into the European Economic Community, the precursor to the European Union.
Mr. Soares was an indefatigable political animal, always enthusiastically shaking hands, smiling and engaging with strangers even when he was not campaigning. He was known in Portugal as “sempre em pé,” or always on his feet, after the toy that bounces back whenever it is knocked down.
“There are victories and defeats in politics,” he said in 1986, “and what is necessary is to maintain your convictions, to keep battling.”
Mário Alberto Nobre Lopes Soares was born in Lisbon on Dec. 7, 1924. His father, João Lopes Soares, was an educator and a liberal republican government minister before Salazar came to power and later a fierce critic of the dictatorship, which jailed him numerous times.
Mr. Soares took to his father’s path early on. He was first arrested at 19 as a leader of the democratic opposition at the University of Lisbon, where he earned degrees in philosophy and history. He obtained his law degree at the Sorbonne in Paris and set up a practice in Lisbon defending political prisoners.
He gained recognition — and the scorn of the dictatorship — for his work representing the family of Gen. Humberto Delgado, a popular opposition leader who was mysteriously murdered. Mr. Soares pushed the case in international courts, implicating members of the Salazar police, but the government eventually shelved the investigation.
His support of self-determination for Portugal’s colonies earned him even more hostility from the regime. While running in a controlled legislative election in 1965, he called for an end to the colonial wars and for negotiations with African nationalists. While the state branded him a traitor, public opinion was already embracing his anticolonial views, and his popularity grew.
Mr. Soares started an underground Socialist movement after becoming disillusioned with the leadership of the Communist Party, then the only organized opposition in the country. He began a tour of Europe in 1967 to drum up support from other Socialists, but he was jailed on his return and, in March 1968, banished without trial to the remote equatorial island of São Tomé.
Mário Soares in 1986. CreditGuilherme Venancio/European Pressphoto Agency
About six months later, Salazar became incapacitated after a stroke, and Caetano, his successor, initiated a slow political liberalization of the corporatist state. One of his first acts in 1968 was to authorize Mr. Soares’s return to Portugal. (Salazar died in 1970 at 81.)
Instead of retreating, Mr. Soares continued his crusade against the dictatorship and its colonial wars, and within a year he was sent into exile again, this time in Europe.
In France, he secured part-time teaching jobs at the Sorbonne and the University of Rennes. He kept a modest apartment on the Left Bank in Paris, where he wrote about his struggles against fascism and bolstered the opposition among immigrants and other exiles. He also consolidated his ties with other Socialist leaders and announced the creation of the Portuguese Socialist Party during a conference in West Germany in 1973.
By the time the dictatorship fell in the bloodless Carnation Revolution of 1974, Mr. Soares had been jailed 12 times — serving a total of three years — and had lived in exile for almost five years. (A former inmate was quoted as saying that even in prison the ebullient Mr. Soares “was always in a splendid mood and made us laugh.”) When he arrived by train in Lisbon from Paris after the revolt, he was mobbed by thousands of supporters.
He first served as foreign minister under the military-controlled civilian government and led the decolonization in Africa, ending years of war in Guinea-Bissau, Angola, Mozambique and other territories. But the government grew more radical under the influence of the Moscow-aligned Communist Party, prompting Mr. Soares to pull his party out of the coalition in 1975.
He organized street rallies and, with the help of a moderate military faction, ousted the pro-Communist prime minister, Vasco Gonçalves. Elections were called in 1976, and Mr. Soares won, making him the first constitutionally elected prime minister after the revolution.
“What we believe in,” he said after his victory, “is a socialism in liberty, neither dictatorship of the left nor dictatorship of the right.”
He served during a politically tumultuous period that saw coalitions form and dissolve. He was the head of two governments until 1979, and then of a third from 1983 to 1985.
In February 1986, Mr. Soares, a paunchy 61-year-old whom the right-wing opposition had called “Fat Cheeks,” became the first democratically elected civilian president since 1926, ending 60 years of military oversight. He was re-elected in 1991 and left office in 1996. He ran again for president in 2006 but finished third.
Mr. Soares was an ardent bibliophile, amassing huge collections of books that he admittedly did not have time to read. He was also a lover of Portuguese cuisine, especially cod and fresh sardines.
It was during a stint in prison in 1949 that Mr. Soares married Maria Barroso, one of Portugal’s leading actresses, whom he had met at the University of Lisbon. The prison wedding was a show of defiance that led to her being banned from the stage by the Salazar government.
In 1968, when Mr. Soares was banished to São Tomé, Ms. Barroso, a founding member of her husband’s Socialist Party, and their 15-year-old daughter, Isabel, joined about 100 supporters to see him off at Lisbon Airport and were badly beaten by the police. Ms. Barroso later founded a private school and was elected to the National Assembly before becoming first lady. She died in July 2015 at 90.
Mr. Soares was known for his quick-thinking debating skills and inspiring political oratory, though supporters, including former professors, and detractors alike said that dealing with practical details was not his strength. He preferred to focus on big ideas and grand plans.
He was also partial to the good life, owning a mountain house, a beach house and an apartment in Lisbon when he took office in 1986. At the time, he declined to move into Lisbon’s lavish presidential palace.
But his heart was with the people, his admirers said — a portrayal he embraced immediately after his election to the presidency. With thousands of supporters chanting his name in the early morning, he strode to the balcony of a mansion he was using as his headquarters and, in victory, shouted, “I am here to unite the Portuguese and not divide them!”

Pingtan Art Museum by MAD

Dezeen Magazine

Pingtan Art Museum by MAD

Beijing architecture studio MAD has designed an artificial island with an art museum set in caves in its three dune-like forms.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
Set in a reservoir on Pingtan island in China's Fujian province, the Pingtan Art Museum will be accessed via a narrow undulating bridge.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
The building is designed by MAD as three concrete mounds, creating cave-like exhibition spaces inside and curved public spaces over the rooftops.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
"The island is firstly a public space that is then turned into a museum," say the architects. "The sea, the beach, the oasis and the slope all interconnect with each other, forming a harmonious capacious space with the mountains in the distance."
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
The concrete walls will be mixed with local sand and shells to give them a rough, grainy texture.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
As the largest private museum in Asia, the 40,000 square-metre structure will display a collection of over a thousand Chinese artworks and objects.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
The building will also form the centre of a new city on Pingtan, which is currently in the planning stages.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
Read on more more information from MAD:

MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction Preparation Phase
Pingtan Art Museum, the third museum design by MAD Architects, has just begun its construction preparation phase. It will be the largest private museum in Asia, claiming a construction area of over 40,000 square metres. The museum's investments total around 800 million RMB and upon completion, its debut exhibition will display over a thousand pieces of national treasures.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
Being the largest island in the Fujian province, Pingtan is also the Chinese island nearest to Taiwan. In 2010, the 'Comprehensive Experimental Zone' project in Pingtan was officially launched; the island is expected to become the primary location for trade and cultural communication between Taiwan and the mainland in the foreseeable future. The island, which is currently home to fisheries and a military base, will quickly be transformed into an large-scale urban development zone.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
This new city, which is still under planning, will hold the museum at its centre. The museum itself acts as a smaller scale island off the Pingtan Island itself, connected to land only by a slightly undulating pier, which, in turn, bridges artificial and natural, city and culture, as well as history and future. The museum represents a long-lasting earthscape in water and is a symbol of the island in ancient times, with each island containing a mountain beneath it.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
The island is firstly a public space that is then turned into a museum. The sea, the beach, the oasis and the slope all interconnect with each other, forming a harmonious capacious space with the mountains in the distance. The building is constructed with concrete that is blended with local sand shells. The indoor space, formed by the rise and fall of the formal movements, looks similar to ancient caves.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
Site location plan
Pingtan Art Museum is built in a landscape setting of an urban city. After its completion, it will create a new space for the city and the city's inhabitants and further inspire them to reflect on the impact made by time and nature.
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
Site plan
Location: Pingtan, China
Program: Museum
Site Area: 32,000 sqm
Building Area: 40,000 sqm
Director in Charge: Ma Yansong, Dang Qun, Yosuke Hayano
Design Team: Zhao Wei, Huang Wei, Liu Jiansheng, Jei Kim, Li Jian, Li Guangchong, Alexandre Sadeghi
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
Floor plan - click for larger image
MAD Pingtan Art Museum Begins Construction
Roof plan - click for larger image