London-based Gonkar Gyatso (b. 1961, Lhasa) creates humorous works informed by both politics and his personal life. “Just as the identity of my homeland cannot be separated from religion and politics, so my own sensibility has been shaped by the undeniable bond between the two.” Gyatso’s practice revolves around the reproduction of Buddhist iconography, calling the Buddha his ‘muse.’ Skillfully incorporating Western and Tibetan cultural themes into his work, Gyatso transforms traditional images of the Buddha into Pop Art-inspired multimedia works that satirize world politics and the mundanity of life. His iconic work titled Pokemon Buddha (2003) marks the first example of what has now become the central theme of his practice; much of his work references the shifts in identity that characterize the life of a migrant.
Actually, China continues to build rail lines, bridges, dams and other public works projects evidence of an altruistic commitment to improve communication and commerce within Africa or a calculated strategy to further facilitate China’s deep penetration into the African hinterlands for raw materials (not unlike the European colonialists who built rail lines and ports to export Africa’s mineral wealth). China fully supports corrupt-to-the-core African dictators not because it does not want to “interfere” in local politics but because these dictators are the only means China has to ensure a chokehold on Africa. China’s fortunes in Africa are tied to the (mis)fortunes of Africa’s thugtators and dictators.
Is China a genereous investor and developer or have Africans face a revival of colonialism?
Cit: Alemayehu G. Mariam, Sep 07, 2017:
“The essence of neo-colonialism is that the State which is subject to it is, in theory, independent and has all the outward trappings of international sovereignty. In reality its economic system and thus its political policy is directed from outside… The result of neo-colonialism is that foreign capital is used for the exploitation rather than for the develop-ment of the less developed parts of the world. Investment under neo-colonialism increa-ses rather than decreases the gap between the rich and the poor countries of the world…. Neo-colonialism might be also the worst form of imperialism. For those who practise it, it means power without responsibility and for those who suffer from it, it means exploita-tion without redress. In the days of old-fashioned colonialism, the imperial power had at least to explain and justify at home the actions it was taking abroad. In the colony those who served the ruling imperial power could at least look to its protection against any violent move by their opponents. With neo-colonialism neither is the case.”
WILL AFRICA FEED CHINA …OR HAVE AFRICANS TO BUY LOCAL FOOD FROM CHINA IN THE FUTURE?
There are African voices that are warning: Beware of Chinese bearing gifts: “Investments, loans, aid…”
China has literally invaded Africa with its investors, traders, lenders, builders, developers, laborers, Confuzius institutes and who knows what else.
Feel free to get insight into facts & figures of the Chinese FDIs and Arican politics published by Alemayehu G. Mariam in the Pambazuka News (Voices for Freedom & Justice):
Kenyan Contemporary Artist Michael Soi is one of the crtical voices today.
Among other beautiful arts and design objects, he created a series of colorful, strong paintings called “CHINA LOVES AFRICA” (web: http://michaelsoistudio.com/)
He blames the Africans for selling their continent with ist natural resources, oil, gas , Copper, Titanium, Farmland, cattle, cheap labor for sweat shop relocation from APAC to Africa and so on. ..without transferring know-how same time.
In my view (Weiss-Nix), the Chinese won´t do the same mistakes like the greedy Western investors in China, who enabled China to become a global competitor because they gave up their loyality to their staff and locations in the course of the quite short-sighted globalization process – putting shareholder value first without any scrupel.
However, Michael Soi highlights that the engagement of the Chinese infrastructure investments are not free of charge at all. In the Weltspiegel-TV interview of 19th Aug. 2018, he explains cit:
“DEBTS ARE THE NEW IRON CHAINS OF TODAY”.
As a European I wonder, why it has been possible to keep and distribute the oil / gas related wealth across the Arabian societies (UAE, Qatar, Bahrain, KSA….) and why the African states, who are blessed with so many natural ressources (incl. people, farmland & animals) seem to be not able to manage these assets to the benefit of their People by developing their countries in a long run? A naive, stupid question?
Unfortunately, we (Germans) have to live from our sole significant natural ressource: Education, Discipline & Creativity – which means: Our People. Imagine what we could achieve if god would have been a little bit more generous to us….Okay, we`ve got a lot of rain…which won´t be for sale to China like our hidden gems (=innovative small-medium-sized businesses) and our strong global brands, I hope.
ABOUT MICHAEL SOI
Michael Soi (Born Nairobi 1972) lives and works in Nairobi, Kenya where he has is a leading light in what is a burgeoning contemporary art scene. The son of one of Kenya’s most distinguished contemporary painters, Soi has developed in to a successful painter and sculptor with a unique vision and highly distinctive style. His three dimensional work is playful and cryptic – usually created with brightly painted plywood. Much of his paintings provide satirical commentary on socio-political issues his unforgiving if humorous gaze focussing on political impunity, greed and Kenya’s growing sex industry.
Michael Soi’s paintings are informed by a strong tradition of cartoonists whose works have satirised Kenyan society since independence – often bravely poking fun at the political establishment. He is at pains to make work that is meaningful to his own countrymen and also bought locally by a new generation of Kenyan art collectors, but at the same time he now has a growing international following. His concern is with clarity of form and legibility of message; in the process he has created his own universal pictorial language
Soi’s acrylics on canvas paintings are sharply political and expressive, questioning Beijing’s push to making the most of Africa’s cheap labor, natural resources, and the continent’s increasing need for advanced technology and infrastructure. Put together, the pieces stand as both social commentary and a visual diary of how China is shaping the future of Kenya— and Africa — for generations to come.
With reference to his “CHINA LOVES AFRICA Series”, please find an INTERVIEW below…
Due to the fact that I couldn`t retrieve MIchael Soi` s website that included an online shop with very stylish designer bags (his old domain seems to be expired), please have a look at his FACEBOOK presence:
Born in 1969, Hildur Bjarnadottir is an Icelandic artist, she graduated from the Icelandic College of Art and Crafts and from the Pratt Institute of Brooklyn specializing in textiles.
She exercises the career of professor at the Iceland Academy of Art and at the Reykjavik School of Visual Art, where she is the director of the textiles department.
She continued doing researches on the subject “The role of textiles in the field of painting” for this project she worked in collaboration with the Bergen Academy of Art.
The artist addresses mostly two main subjects; the nature of textiles and of painting. Her main purpose is to highlight the materials used to create the composotion, their color and their texture. Hildur Bjarnadottir uses embroidery to create her pieces and installations. In order to achieve the desired result, an important previous work is necessary, that is where the artist shows her talents as a draftswoman, painter and watercolorist.
Her work is recognized internationally nowadays and her pieces are displayed in numerous private and public collections, including at the Bomuldsfabriken in Norway, at the Reykjanes Art Museum, at the Nordic House of Iceland, the Scandinavia House of New York and at the Vestyllands Kunstmuseums in Denmark.
Born in Damascus, Syria in 1980, Tammam Azzam received his artistic training from the Faculty of Fine Arts, University of Damascus with a concentration in oil painting. Alongside a successful career as a painter in Syria, Azzam was a prolific graphic designer, an experience that would inform his digital media work after relocating to Dubai with the start of the country’s conflict.
The initial phase of Azzam’s work was distinguished by a ‘hybrid form’ of paintingwith applications of various media that allowed him to arrive at tactile interactions between surface and form that multiply as compositions evolve. These semi-abstract works use unconventional materials such as rope, clothespins, and other found objects in order to accentuate the depth, texture, and space of laboured picture planes, creating a visible tension. Although outwardly different in appearance, the series that resulted from these early experiments were inspired by the artist’s changing perceptions of specific urban environments.
Following the start of the uprising in Syria, Azzam turned to digital media and graphic art to create visual composites of the conflict that resonated with international viewers. These widely distributed works are informed by his interest in the interventionist potential of digital photography and street art as powerful and direct forms of protest that are difficult to suppress. In early 2013, Azzam made worldwide headlines when his Freedom Graffiti print went viral on social media.
Recently, he has returned to painting with Storeys, a series of monumental works on canvas that communicate the magnitude of devastation experienced across his native country through expressionist compositions of destroyed cityscapes. Chronicling the current state of his homeland, Azzam delves into a cathartic exercise of reconstruction, storey by storey. Alongside these new paintings, he has produced a significant body of giclée prints and installations that depict the facets of cities through similar themes.
I am no arts connaisseur but in my view Chuck Close`s artwork seems to be positioned somewhere between hand-made, pixeled digital art, photorealism and a bit psychodelic abstract art mastering an orchestra of colours…
However, the result is absolutely fascinating.
“Close and his canvas painting questions art, of course, but also mankind’s relationship with machines. Close is challenging the future synthesis of man and machine. Artistry, mechanics, and humanity are all present. Though as a Contemporary artist, he is essential to bringing the ideas of machines and humans together in one body of work.” (cit.: Linda Weintraub)
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Charles Thomas “Chuck” Close (born July 5, 1940) is an American painter, artist and photographer who achieved fame as a photorealist, through his massive-scale portraits. Close often paints abstract portraits of himself and others, which hang in collections internationally. Close also creates photo portraits using a very large format camera. Even though a catastrophic spinal artery collapse in 1988 left him severely paralyzed, he has continued to paint.
Tetsuya Ishida was born 1973 in Yaizu, Shizuoka, the youngest of four sons. His father was a member of parliament and his mother a housewife. He graduated from Yaizu Central High School in 1992. Ishida stated in interviews that it was during this period that his parents and school principal put pressure on him to thrive academically and develop a career as a teacher or chemist. This experience later appeared in some of hispaintings that explore thesociety’s expectations of youths.
Ishida entered Musashino Art University where he majored in Visual Communication Design. He graduated in 1996. Ishida’s parents, unhappy about his career choice, refused to provide financial support during his university period.
Ishida and film director IsamuHirabayashi, a friend from his university days, formed a multimedia company to support their work together as collaborators on film/art fusion projects. Facing economic difficulties during Japan’s 1990s recession, their joint venture shifted to become a graphic design company. Ishida left the company to develop his own career as a solo artist.
From 1997 to 2005 he won a growing following, a number of awards and exhibitions, and positive praise of his works, which enabled him to work full-time as an artist until his sudden death.
On May 23, 2005, he was instantly killed by a train at a level crossing in Machida, Tokyo. He was 31 years old. There statements and rumors (?) that his death might have been suicide.
The 3 major themes of Ishida’s artworks:
Identity, norms and rules
Claustrophobia, isolation and lack of freedom
Utilitarianism and conformity
In contrast to his fellow countrymen, who are silenced by the rules of tradition, education, standards / norms and ethics, Tetsuya expressed through his art how he felt about the challenging living conditions in modern Japan. It is said that he was bold and flamboyant, often baffling people but mostly astonishing the masses with his fearlessness.
His artwork is breaking Japanese taboos in many facettes. The Japanese society was and is neither used to deal with blunt criticism, individual (unsatisfied) basic needs, outsiders, deviations as well as with topics like isolation, claustrophobia, scepticism, identity crisis, anxieties, frustrations and other motifs, which Ishida portrayed.
Many have titled his work surrealist portrayals of his observations as a child. Others call his work just plain madness. People, all over the world, appreciate the humor and realism in Ishida`s work that often highlights the extrinsic but also intrinsic compulsion to ensure conformity. An obsession that finally results in self-harming behaviours.
I remember the Japanese proverb: “The nail, which sticks out, has to be hammered down.”…and bent nails have to be removed.
Ishida’s artwork is sometimes difficult to interpret. It is unsettling and doesn`t leave the viewer blasé. When we think of Japanese art, we imagine quiet, flowing gardens painted with soft, neat patterns or an ancient pot, ingrained with history. Criticism in contemporary arts is often encoded or at least softened by a huge portion of “sweetener” or sugar coating. Ishida did not care. His confrontative, dark work is a slap into the face or a scream. Nevertheless, his arts is appreciated not only internationally but also in his homeland.
In 2009, his family was awarded the purple Japanese Medal of Honor, a decoration reserved for those who have contributed to academic and artistic developments, improvements and accomplishments.
Richard Ahnert, Messenger (2012) ~ Richard Ahnert’s anthropomorphic art is both whimsical and brilliantly provocative. This Toronto-based artist paints intriguing images of animals engaged in activities one might expect of weary modern-day city dwellers. While his work harkens back to the playful (and disturbing) posed taxidermy of the Victorian era, Ahnert’s paintings engage the viewer with considerable satire […]
Born in Braşov, he attended the Arts and Music high school in Timişoara from 1959 to 1963, having Julius Podlipny as a teacher. He then graduated in 1970 from the Nicolae Grigorescu Institute of Fine Arts in Bucharest, having Corneliu Baba as a teacher.
Since the 1970s, Câlţia has held exhibitions in Norway, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Denmark, and Romania.
In 1993 he became professor at the National University of Fine Arts in Bucharest, and in 2004 he became its chancellor.
His works have been acquired by many important museums and art galleries around the world, such as the Norwegian Museum of Contemporary Art in Oslo, Norway, and the Museum of Fantastic Arts in Gruyère, Switzerland.
Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin; born 7 October 1952, is a Russian politician and former intelligence officer serving as President of Russia since 2012, previously holding the position from 2000 until 2008. He was Prime Minister of Russia from 1999 until the beginning of his first presidency in 2000, and again between presidencies from 2008 until 2012.During his first term as Prime Minister, he served as Acting President of Russia due to the resignation of President Boris Yeltsin. During his second term as Prime Minister, he was the chairman of the ruling United Russia Party.
Putin was born in Leningrad in the Soviet Union. He studied law at Leningrad State University, graduating in 1975.
Putin was a KGB foreign intelligence officer for 16 years, rising to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel before resigning in 1991 to enter politics in Saint Petersburg.
He moved to Moscow in 1996 and joined President Boris Yeltsin’s administration, rising quickly through the ranks and becoming Acting President on 31 December 1999, when Yeltsin resigned.
Putin won the 2000 presidential election by a 53% to 30% margin, thus avoiding a runoff with his Communist Party of the Russian Federation opponent, Gennady Zyuganov.
He was reelected president in 2004 with 72% of the vote. During his first presidency, the Russian economy grew for eight straight years, and GDP measured in purchasing power increased by 72%. The growth was a result of the 2000s commodities boom, recovery from the post-Communist depression and financial crises, and prudent economic and fiscal policies.
Because of constitutionally mandated term limits, Putin was ineligible to run for a third consecutive presidential term in 2008. The 2008 presidential election was won by Dmitry Medvedev, who appointed Putin as Prime Minister, the beginning of what some opponents considered to be a period of “tandemocracy”.
In September 2011, after presidential terms were extended from four to six years, Putin announced he would seek a third term as president. He won the March 2012 presidential election with 64% of the vote, a result which aligned with pre-election polling. Falling oil prices coupled with international sanctions imposed at the beginning of 2014 after Russia’s annexation of Crimea and military intervention in Eastern Ukraine led to GDP shrinking by 3.7% in 2015, though the Russian economy rebounded in 2016 with 0.3% GDP growth and is officially out of the recession.
Putin gained 76% of the March 2018 presidential vote and was re-elected for a six-year term that will end in 2024.
Under Putin’s leadership, Russia has scored poorly in Transparency International’s Corruption Perceptions Index and experienced democratic backsliding according to both the Economist Intelligence Unit’s Democracy Index and Freedom House’s Freedom in the World index (including a record low 20/100 rating in the 2017 Freedom in the World report, a rating not given since the time of the Soviet Union).
Experts do not generally consider Russia to be a democracy, citing the lack of free and fair elections, purges and jailing of opponents, and curtailed press freedom. Human rights organizations and activists have accused Putin of persecuting political critics and activists, as well as ordering them tortured or assassinated; he has rejected accusations of human rights abuses.
Officials of the United States government have accused him of leading an interference program against Hillary Clinton in support of Donald Trump during the U.S. presidential election in 2016, an allegation which both Trump and Putin have frequently denied and criticized