I came to my computer this evening (who am I kidding, I’ve been on this thing most the day) to slap down a VERY half assed and pointless post, just cus I said to myself I would, and was planning to delve into the folder of photos I took before Phone Loss Olympics 2012, choosing something I didn’t have a lot to say about, and forcing something out of it.
Then I found out I had some photos of my latest DEREK HESS purchases, which I now really wish I could go have a little stare at.
One of my all time favorite artists – Derek Hess
Anyone that knows me, most likely knows I am a big fan of Hess. Even if they don’t actually know it… they do know it. I have quite a lot of his artwork scraped into my body, and his work is how I met the tattooist who I plan to use for the rest of my life. After I get him to move over to Vancouver obviously.
I first came across Derek Hess after borrowing a Darren Doane DVD, XDoaneX (the first one), in I’d say around 2002 off my buddy Jon. The DVD contained an interview with the artist, which I didn’t bother to watch for quite a long time, but once I did, I found that not only the amazing front cover of the DVD I’d been staring at was his work, I also realised that I had seen his work tons of times before, and would soon start to see his work cropping up regularly. More than once I have picked up and CD from a record store shelf for containing Derek Hess artwork, and ended up buying the CD.
My favorite work of his is his most simple; black and white outline drawings of figures, angels, machines, weapons, religious symbolism, all done with super fast and sketchy flourishes, which look as though they could be off-hand doodles, until you realise that every line is perfectly placed, and looks as though the man can create a powerful and Da Vinci-esque Vitruvian Man figure of perfect proportions without even trying. Like his hand just does them. Which could actually be true, as I read his father was a soldier in WWII trained to throw down sketches of artillery and tank placements in seconds, while making sure their model and size could be identified.
Derek Hess is just able to portray raw power and emotion through such a small amount of lines, which give all his figures the impression of movement and leap off the page. It makes sense that when he had an entire gallery to himself, he wrapped the windows with an ongoing mural of figures ‘in the pit’ throwing fists and stomping ground all melding into one another, facing outwards, covering the entire building. Regardless of any clue I would of had towards Hess, if I had seen a building filled with gigantic dancing/fighting figures made from brush strokes in his violent but precise style, like he was making the painting inside a pit himself, but really fucking concentrating, I would have made it my goal to find out who that artist was, and probably could have said there and then I would commit his work to my skin.
He’s the man, and whether or not you feel as strongly about the raw elements of his work as I do, he’s still worth a look if simply for his newer work making some serious fun of politics and religion. He’s always kept the key elements and style, and his main figures, mainly angels which are often nailed to the ground or removed from their wings, but as with most good artists has been experimenting with other mediums such as found art, collage, typography, and including works from his favorite childhood artists, in the forms of comic books. These all of course add their own elements to the work, and his use of Captain America obviously pushes very strong themes. He’s not using an iconic figure of American symbolism just because he likes his costume.
I do actually have a bunch of other Hess prints and items (including a glass that will never be drunk from), and I could even go as far as to showing my SICK INK BRO but I don’t actually have any photos, and anyway, these pieces here give I believe the best summery of his work. You get the main established style right there, and if you don’t dig that you will dig no more. If you do like though, these some album covers you really need to check, and while you’re at it you could even go as far as listening to the music within them. More than one band has been discovered by me simple by employing Hess to produce their artwork.
Film what I did see lately – Life Is Beautiful
This has got to the most heartwarming tale of a concentration camp ever. This really is a stand out film in being able deal with such a strong subject in a lighthearted, comedic, and family viewing manner, while keeping all the harsh realities of the holocaust and giving you many stark reminding moments of the true horrific nature of the films setting. The way the characters and the film deals with the situation makes it much more emotional and bleak when you take a moment to remember where they really are.
Half the film is dedicated to setting up our hero, his always positive and can do outlook, his heart of gold, and the pursuit of his princess. We learn to love this man and his flaws, he plays a mild version of the bumbling idiot, but we soon found out this man isn’t stupid at all and has the most ingenious solutions to any situation. Before we know it, his small Italian town is under Nazi occupation, and his happy little family is whisked away to a concentration camp. It’s such a shock and change from the lovely little comedy we were watching about a guy getting his girl, that for a moment you fear the entire thing was a set up just to make you suffer, and you now watch them do the same.
We are then given the main focus of this story, and are treated to the beauty of the title in possibly the most opposite setting imaginable. The man and his child are separated from his wife, his boy is of a very young age, and so to comfort him the father puts up the best act of caring, with every inch of his life, for his child and their well being, by tricking the boy to believing the whole thing is all just one big game. It’s pure genius, and he is constantly challenged throughout the rest of the film to keep the act up by instantly counter acting anything which could give away the harsh realities, and keeps the boy willing to play along, in the hope and belief that they will win the grand prize… His own real tank!
This film has to be seen by the premise alone, and it’s certainly not making any kind of cheap shot by flirting with the idea of being a comedy set in a concentration camp. In no way would I compare it to any modern day standard of the word comedy, there’s no extremism, gross outs, or dick jokes (though their could be a few about… no), but the main character is played hilariously by the fast talking (well, he is Italian) Roberto Benigni, who radiated positive attitude, in looking for love and the care of his child. The film is very lighthearted, and is perfectly toned, allowing us to see the concentration camp from the eyes of a child who believes it is all just a game, while at the same time realizing the pain his father is going through, and the power he has from the love for his child, to keep on a brave face.
By the way, I’m actually tempted just to slag films off on here from now as getting my opinions across on something which has impressed and entertained me so well is much harder to articulate and express in a manner that does any justice at all. I feel I need to go back and let the film sink in repeatedly, then research the back ground of it’s production, just so I don’t end up being insulting to such fine work.