A personal, curatorial & bilingual Blog about: Artistic Movements, my Art, Creativity, Innovation, Design, Leadership, Empowerment, Sustainability, Science, Jazz, Movies and other cool pursuits - Blog personal y curatorial bilingüe sobre: Movimentos Artísticos, mi Arte, Creatividad, Innovación, Diseño, Liderazgo, Empoderamiento, Sustentabilidad, Ciencia, Jazz, Películas y otros temas.
Hacia fines de 2015 tuve la fortuna de participar del evento Wine & Art, en el marco de la semana Buenos Aires Deli & Polo en el Hipódromo Argentino de Palermo.
Organizado por Art Work, con la gentil, creativa y esmerada Ligia Janeiro a la cabeza, fui invitado a presentar , en versión acotada, uno de de mis ya clásicos seminarios titulados “The Crash Flash Boom Creative Afternoon”.
Con una nutrida concurrencia de artistas y creativos, dedicamos un poco más de dos horas a indagar el por qué de estos procesos, y a comprender que podemos domarlos, alejándonos de lo imprevisto y de lo fortuito, convirtiéndolos así en nuestras armas de uso intensivo.
Quiero agradecer nuevamente a todos los que se acercaron, a los que tuvieron palabras muy generosas para conmigo, a todo el personal de Art Work, y particularmente a Ligia Janeiro por su generosidad y excelente buena onda.
At the end of 2015 I was generously invited to the event “Wine & Art”, held within the Buenos Aires Deli & Polo week, at the posh Palermo Racetrack in Buenos Aires.
Organized by Art Work, with Ligia Janeiro at the helm, I was invited to present one of my “The Crash, Flash Boom, Creative afternoon” seminars (in a shorter 2 hour version).
I had a wonderful time, and I was very flattered by the participation of some many artists and creatives, for the kind words afterwards, and for Ligia´s kind invitation and superb energy and care.
Creativity does not have to be something untamed. If we understand how it works and the mental processes that make it up, we can leave behind the “fortuitous event of the creative flash” and use simple tools to get our creative reasoning and thinking to work to our own benefit, in a concerted effort with others, while capitalizing on all of its potential.
In a world where information is being sent to us at incredible speed and with unconceivable depths; where we are also producing, inadvertently, data beyond our understanding; in a civilization that is advancing technologically beyond what the educational system can cope with; at a time when the knowledge of how things work is in more and more hands; and the technology which allows us to make them is in less and less hands; the role of the creative mind must evolve as well.
Now, evolving does not necessarily mean going freaky! It does not inevitably mean developing at the same speed the ability to digest all that is thrown to us, as well as rehashing it in new ways.
In fact, it may mean something completely different.
One of the biggest misconceptions on the theory of evolution, just to bring this point forward, is that the mechanism of natural selection – central to the theory – and which may result in improved abilities to survive and reproduce, should necessarily mean that the outcome is progressive.
As it happens, this is clearly not so.
What is called natural selection under the theory, does not produce organisms perfectly suited to their environments, as it is commonly misinterpreted. What it means, really, is that these organisms through different traits and skills are “good enough” to survive.
So evolving may mean, in simple terms, adapting survival characteristics which may be new, or even reacquiring qualities and attributes that were useful before, were lost for one or more generations due to environmental or social changes, and now have become of importance once again.
So how does this translate to the information age?
Well, it means for a start that the role of a creative professional is not to keep up with the speed of change but with change itself. In sporting terms, the creative thinker may be more like a long distance runner than a sprinter.
Secondly, being creative means being open to novelty and interested in everything. I always call myself “an encyclopedia of useless information”, this said with a glint in my eye, as I know very well that I gather information that most will discard for a good reason. To me, it is never useless.
But I must learn to choose what I digest. So the other evolutive step for a XXIst Century creative mind, may be then going back rather than forward. Specifically, to XIXth Century London and perhaps pay a visit to a certain sleuth who lived at 221b Baker Street.
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle created the great detective, Sherlock Holmes, based on a doctor named Joseph Bell whom Doyle admired for his quick logical interpretation as a physician, as well as for his “Method” of deductive reasoning (“Observe carefully, deduce shrewdly, and confirm with evidence”).
Bell turned detective became, in late 1886 and thanks to the pen of Conan Doyle, none other than the great Sherlock.
The role of the creative individual is very similar to the role of the detective. It involves keen observation, careful deduction, asking the right questions, having the correct basic knowledge, and above all, connecting all the dots (coming up with a hypothesis that is not necessarily constricted by a traditional structure).
In a world where information surpasses us, while technology seems to be speeding up way ahead, becoming like the road runner may be the wrong approach.
It may be that I enjoy going against the wave, but if everything speeds up, I usually slow down (and vice versa). Creative reasoning and creative thinking in a slow moving environment allows for swiftness. While if everybody rushes, our role is to slow down.
Like Neo in the Matrix, our advantage is that of being capable of decelerating everything down to the point where we are actually so cognitively enhanced that, in reality and for everyone else for that matter, we are indeed ahead of the curve.
And to do that, a bit of XIXth Century deductive reasoning may be the thing. Evolution may mean in this case, for example, simply slowing down; perhaps taking on a musical instrument – and not necessarily a violin -; or being involved in long periods of apparent daydreaming. In that mental estate, your mind will be doing its best detective work, and your deductive skills will allow you to see and connect the dots that no one else has managed to yet perceive.
FAR-OFF, most secret, and inviolate Rose,
Enfold me in my hour of hours; where those
Who sought thee in the Holy Sepulchre,
Or in the wine-vat, dwell beyond the stir
And tumult of defeated dreams; and deep
Among pale eyelids, heavy with the sleep
Men have named beauty. Thy great leaves enfold
The ancient beards, the helms of ruby and gold
Of the crowned Magi; and the king whose eyes
Saw the pierced Hands and Rood of elder rise
In Druid vapour and make the torches dim;
Till vain frenzy awoke and he died; and him
Who met Fand walking among flaming dew
By a grey shore where the wind never blew,
And lost the world and Emer for a kiss;
And him who drove the gods out of their liss,
And till a hundred moms had flowered red
Feasted, and wept the barrows of his dead;
And the proud dreaming king who flung the crown
And sorrow away, and calling bard and clown
Dwelt among wine-stained wanderers in deep woods:
And him who sold tillage, and house, and goods,
And sought through lands and islands numberless years,
Until he found, with laughter and with tears,
A woman of so shining loveliness
That men threshed corn at midnight by a tress,
A little stolen tress. I, too, await
The hour of thy great wind of love and hate.
When shall the stars be blown about the sky,
Like the sparks blown out of a smithy, and die?
Surely thine hour has come, thy great wind blows,
Far-off, most secret, and inviolate Rose?
I have been watching Jerry Seinfeld´s Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee since it was first on. From the beginning I liked the concept and most importantly, the way it was done.
The first thing I thought was “Mr. Seinfeld is probably right. We like coffee, we like cars, and comedians are funny. So, what´s not to love?”.
But many doubted. It was online, it was long, it was kind of weird (albeit, it was my kind of weird), and there was no real script. It was the ultimate show about nothing in particular with people who didn´t exactly know what they were doing there.
So the coffee bit was essential. Coffee, even more than cars, was the tree from which Seinfeld and friends could hang branches to leap around.
The initial response you heard on the grapevine was that it wasn´t going to work. I have been around enough internet specialists and executives to know that their view is that the average attention span of an internet viewer is about 5 minutes. So an online show of between 15 and 25 minutes was just not going to make it.
And yes ladies and gentlemen, do not be surprised. The people who feed us the virtual information we voraciously eat like Soilent Green think we are all internet dodos. It seems we generally have the attention span of a fly as well as the need to touch and move things around like chimpanzees.
But there is where Seinfeld and Co. hit the right note. They provided us, simians of the information age, with a tree and branches! And we all just jumped at the opportunity of enjoying ourselves before someone came along with the need for us to move along.
And so, six seasons on, we are still hanging around. Doing a bit of a “hoo hoo haa haa” while clinching to a banana peel and enjoying some friendly banter.
In the last episode of December 2015, Jerry had a very special guest: President Barack Obama. I urge you to watch this episode in the same way I urge you to watch all episodes. This one is surprisingly fresh and uncomfortably relaxed, and on top of that, it hit a right note at a time when I was in the middle of writing my last Blog article.
Tower of Power – the title of this article – is also the name of a painting of mine from early 2015. It is made in acrylic, inks, and oil based paints on canvas, and it is only 50cm wide by 70cm in height (not very large), but very powerful and intense. It is dedicated to the great R&B, Soul and Jazz band of the same name, from California, which has been around for more than 50 years and which has survived many changes in its composition.
And it is not only a great band (and a pretty powerful painting), it is also a way of referring to that ivory tower, or that isolated presidential palace to which so many people aspire, harnessed by money, political clout, or even circumstantial public support. It is same place that once clinched, they usually don´t want to leave.
The tower – my tower – is chaotic, energetic, a little unstable, and reminiscent of Babel´s, with an orange –furious- sky behind.
“Power tends to corrupt, while absolute power corrupts absolutely”, so says the famous quote from John Emerich Edward Dalberg-Acton, 1st Baron Acton, KCVO, DL. Or as you probably know him, Bob (or most likely, Lord Acton). He also said that “Great men are almost always bad men”.
President Obama refers very candidly, in his coffee laden chat with Jerry Seinfeld, to how nutty many world politicians get after holding on to power for too long.
Watching Obama with Seinfeld, and even admitting his “Well, I´m a cool President” line (you´ll see it in the full versión of the show), one cannot escape thinking that we are in the presence of one of the most powerful men in the world (in fact, these are two very powerful men chatting with each other).
So in light of Lord Acton´s phrase, would he qualify as bad, but charming? Or is it, as he says, that he may have saved himself -for now- from the perils of power just because he loves his job? And does this make him a good gage of what surrounds him?
Well, be it as it may, Obama´s explicit mention of world leaders who have “simply lost it” must have sent shivers down the spine of many seemingly powerful, self-conscious, mirror loving politicians the world over – both current and former -. It is uncomfortably funny to watch as well.
The truth is that, no matter where you live in the world, you can probably think of many examples. I was born in Argentina and we have a long history of nuts at the helm. But don´t be too hasty to laugh. This is something all nations share. I lived in several countries around the world and I can think of many politicians who qualify in this league. Power seems to have a tendency to corrupt no matter where you were born, how smart or pretty you are, or how well you talk or look on TV.
On the positive side, sooner or later, we pass through these self-centered eccentrics and thugs, just like we pass any painful gall bladder stone, and we go on living (and peeing) with joy.
And as long as we are going to go on living –and peeing-, I would sugest that good music be always present. Here is then a great concert from Tower of Power, an impressive and powerful band, playing live in Lugano (Switzerland) in 2010.
Distance. We always need distance. “20/20 vision in hindsight” says the refrain. Being in the middle of whatever it is we are trying to clarify, solve, understand… is always a challenging place to be. That is why so few can become strong decision makers. Being able to make decisions in the middle of the storm is something that is in the purview of a good ship´s captain. And we know that not everyone has what it takes to make it there.
So for most mortals, looking back may be one of the ways in which we learn. It is a way to really “see” and better understand what happened, and what we must do to avoid the negatives and make even better all the positives.
Bill Mays plays “Looking Back”
The problem here is that for nearly everyone, looking back would mean admitting mistakes, maybe some bad decisions, or the existence of opportunities that may have been mistakenly lost or left unattended. So we revisit scenes on our own. It is mostly a private affair. Almost as peering through a half open door and watching a scene from a movie that feels familiar.
It is like home schooling for grown-ups. Only when we test it against others, we may find out whether it really worked or not. In the meantime, we keep going. We keep looking back. We keep seeing better and better, even if most often than not, a little while too late.
Looking Back (2015), By Ignacio Alperin Bruvera
She is looking back, hiden amongst her own blues and attempting to become a Captain of her own ship. Only those who really care will see her, pondering, about what was left behind. Looking back…
Acrylic, Ink, and Oil based paints on Canvas. 50cm x 50cm
In more detail, some macro photography of the same painting.
And finally…there “she” is, just in case you want to know…. barely sketched but, just like “her”, if we look back at the painting and at a distance, we will see.
I recently published one of my new paintings (Joy Spring) which is, somehow, also a tribute to the great musician Clifford Brown, particularly in his pairing with drummer Max Roach in the album titled Clifford Brown & Max Roach.
This new painting coincidentally pays homage to another fantastic horn player and musician, and one which many consider one of the finest hard bop trumpeters of the post-Clifford Brown era.
Science Funktion (2014) is a 65cm x 60 cm painting, made in acrylic, printing & Chinese inks, and oil based paints on wood. As you know my art is influenced by music, particularly jazz. While the translation process of rythms and sounds gets a helping hand from my synesthesia. In this case, it is loosely based on the song of the same title, which was made famous by none other than Donaldson Toussaint L’Ouverture Byrd II, or as everyone knew him, Donald Byrd.
Born in 1932, Donald Byrd was an American jazz and rhythm & blues trumpeter. A sideman and a band leader from the 1950´s until very late in his life (he sadly passed away in February 2013), he was regarded as an influential voice amongst jazz musicians. Not only did he manage to move effortlessly between bebop, hardbop, funk, soul, rhythm & blues and electronic fusion jazz (influenced by Miles Davis move in the late 60´s). He was also an important influence in the early career of such greats as keyboard player and composer Herbie Hancock.
Science Funktion is one of the best known tracks in his álbum Caricatures, which he recorded in 1976 for the Blue Note label. Jazz purists don´t particularly like this phase of Byrds career, as he moves into electronic and funk in a fusion with jazz. But Funk, Soul and R&B fans consider this period as magnificent, and his mastery of the instrument is maintained thoughout. His Jazz roots are always there to be heard and enjoyed, and his love for all musical languages cannot be denied.
So here are Science Funktion, the song and the painting (and a slide show with details of the same painting).
The Clifford Brown & Max Roach quintet was a top band of the 50´s with a line-up that included at different times, top session musicians like Sonny Stitt, Teddy Edwards, Carl Perkins, George Bledsoe, Harold Land, Richie Powell and Sonny Rollins.
In 1955 the band recorded a jazz album which would be recognized as one of the most influential of all time.
Clifford Brown & Max Roach, as the album was very unimaginatively called, had nevertheless more imagination and power within its tracks than most records up to that time.
Their quintet was described by The New York Times as “perhaps the definitive bop group until Mr. Brown’s fatal automobile accident in 1956”, which cut short the bands successful life (only two and a half years), while this album was finally inducted into the Grammy Hall of Fame in 1999.
Even if the sound is very East Coast, only two of the tracks were recorded at Capitol Records New York studios, while the rest were recorded in California.
I recommend anyone interested in good music, and particularly great jazz, to get a copy of this album. It is pure joy.
As a homage I felt inspired to paint my latest work based particularly on one of the tracks, and another delight, “JOY SPRING”, which was written by Clifford Brown as a tribute to his wife Joy.
So here are both. Brown & Roach´s original rendition of the song of the same title, so you can discover or re-discover this little gem as well. And my latest painting, “JOY SPRING” (2014), 80cm x 90cm and obviously part of my “VISUAL JAZZ SERIES”. It is painted in acrylic, printing ink and oil based paints on canvas.
But wait, there is more. Below my painting, you will also find a second version of this wonderful song. This time played live many years later by the great Freddy Hubbard. As always, Hubbard´s playing is magnificent.