Barry – an island in the arts world
By Glyn Hughes
A WARM welcome back to the reclusive and secretive Celtic artist Barry Breeth last featured on these pages many years ago.
His wanderings have taken him around the world since then and he flew in – and out – of Cyprus recently to
look up some old friends.
Like most true artists, he cannot resist drawing on any piece of paper that may be to hand, inspired by a stray word, a
knowing comment or a suddenly-revealed view.
One thing he did resist, however, were calls for his recent work to be displayed.
All these remain under cover, as it were, and he says that is how they will remain until he feels the time is right for
them to be exposed to view.
As his last exhibition was in 1989, we should not hold our breath.
He did, however, allow us to reproduce some of his sketches, in itself a rather historic event…
Short and pithy
Many galleries just happen to be closed. Others are late sending in information. However, art information is still being
sent. Poems too.
A top pocket sized booklet arrived on the arts desk.
Titled "The Aphorisms of Irsee" it appears to be part one of the New Aesthetics. It contains definitive statements on the
nature of art by Clive Head and Michael Paraskos. Printed by the Orage Press in association with the Cyprus College of Art.
Special thanks is given to the students and tutors of the Summer Studio held at the Cyprus College of Art in Larnaca, June
2007; and those of the Kunst Leben, held in Irsee, Germany that same summer for their discussion with Head and Paraskos of
some of these ideas.
Here are some of the 75 definitive statements. Take your pick:
Artists should slow down and experience the world. A quiet cup of coffee is often the best starting point for art.
All artists create heavens. The heaven of God; or, the anti-heaven of the Devil; or, the earthly heaven of humankind.
Photography kills painting when the painter merely copies a photograph. It turns the artist into a photocopying machine.
Reproduction is never enough. Art is always a creative act.
To illustrate ideas is merely to repeat those ideas and turns artists into parrots.
The artist creates form, and through form creates a reality. In the artwork politics is always subservient to art. Art
does not illustrate politics.
The primary purpose of art is the establishment and organisation of believable space.
Art is the organisation of space, but the creation of mundane space is a worthless exercise.
True art comes from an aesthetic engagement with the world by a particular person, in a particular place, at a particular
The artist creates form and space through a direct engagement with the world, a physical engagement with their materials,
and a personal engagement with their own sense of self. That is what aesthetics means in art.
Through art we can confront suffering, but only if our aim is to alleviate pain, rather than wallow in it.
Even great art that shows suffering is a refuge from pain. It is balm for the human spirit.
No idea in art is better than any other idea.
This mean an artwork dealing with torture, murder or any other form of inhumanity is not automatically better than an artwork
that deals with a still life or gentle landscape. It is a harsh truth, but death and the teapot are of equal value in art.
Summer poetry corner
Constantinos Kalotaris has sent in a poem
I Am Truly Fully Conscious In The Winter Nights
I am truly fully conscious in the cruel winter nights
When the timid light vibrates in the sunset;
Dawns in April are crueler though
As the snow relapses sometimes
And freezes the earth and what is underneath.
Bur nevertheless the winters and the summers and the springs
Have been detached from us years from now,
Since we have thought that we have managed to measure
The black spaces of despair.
We have exploited our minds and our passions
And cultivated the entire ego;
what is left is wolf ferocious,
What is expected is holocaust magnificent.
But this is not what the Lamb wants and desires.
Strange days and nights have come under the neon lights;
First of all the Prozac age
the blue pill age
the electronic age
the subatomic age
the internet world;
the capricious billionaires in full exposal;
the explicit bankruptcy of the private mind
the internal failure of all cardio-vascular connections
the heartless eyesight of cold blooded brains
the dehumanisation of the minds and all the minds that came before
and will come after
the institution of cruelty in poetic beats
the insinuation of perverted directions of being
the annihilation of being and of the self;
the vacuum and relaxation after cataracts of debauchery
the loveless affairs
the kissless sex
the whoring of all emotions
the careless reduction of resources
and the melting of all ice;
the cooking of our brains in huge microwaves
the devouring of entire libraries for self promotion.
Wait O Lamb for the last day of the machination to come;
Wait O lambs and all the other lambs
And all the sons and daughters of the lambs
For the future and the past to explode in the present,
And celestial pastures will be deployed in eternal dawns
And revelation of angels in distant stars.
In your hearts you will relish the Adam complete,
The total universe,
Constantinos Kalotaris 10/5/2008
Baghdad mural painters resist brush with religious rifts
It's art ornamenting life: murals of soothing landscapes and historical heroes covering the blast walls that are now as
much a part of Baghdad's cityscape as date palms and desert dust.
The idea took off last year when Iraqi aid groups sought work for young artists - and offer a bit of hope and a splash
of colour to a city whose signature hue is oatmeal brown.
But fully rising above Iraq's sectarian suspicions has proved a challenge.
Many members among the founding group of mural artists are putting down their brushes to protest requests by neighbourhood
councils to depict politically charged sectarian themes such as Sunni shrines in Sunni districts, Shiite saints in Shiite
''We'd rather refuse the work than do that,'' said Ali Saleem Badran, one of the original crew of muralists in the Jamaat
al-Jidaar, or the Wall Group. ''That is not what this work is supposed to say.''
But that's what Baghdad has become: a quilt of separate Sunni and Shiite enclaves after years of sectarian killings and
threats. Some displaced families are crossing the lines and returning to their old neighbourhoods as violence ebbs, but the
capital may never fully regain its place as a true mixing ground for Iraq's religious and ethnic groups.
The mural project began in early 2007 when Iraqi civic groups approached aspiring and student artists, including Badran
who was then in his last year in art school.
Hundreds of concrete slabs - each about 4-by-2m designed to shield against car bombs and other threats - were gradually
turned into an open air gallery that's intended to boost spirits and kindle optimism.
It's a bit like the Baghdad version of other acts of art in the face of adversity: the New Deal-funded murals during the
Depression or the tangle of messages and figures on the western face of the Berlin Wall.
But the rumbles started a few months ago, Badran said, when the programme was transferred from loose government oversight
to neighbourhood councils who have suggested sectarian images.
Many of the original crew of artists have refused to take part. Local dabblers have often taken up the slack with less
refined - but still potent - references to either Sunni or Shiite roots.
''They want to take an idea that was supposed to unite the city and express the things that divide us,'' said Badran, now
a professor at the Fine Arts College in northern Baghdad.
Baghdad officials have tried to clamp down on overt sectarian symbols, but watching over the miles of blast walls borders
on impossible. The best they can do is appeal for reconciliation.
''This is the year of reconstruction. This is the year of building,'' said Tahseen al-Sheikhly, civilian spokesman for
Baghdad security operations.
Most of the blast walls are apolitical renderings: the region's past as Mesopotamia, the Sumarian and Assyrian cultures
and then Baghdad's place as an intellectual heart of the Mediaeval Islamic world.
Others show the fabled Hanging Gardens of Babylon - one of the seven wonders of the ancient world - and ziggurats, the
terraced temple towers that once dotted the Mesopotamian valley.
Still others depict stylised scenes from Arab myths and literature, Scheherazad's tales is a favourite subject - or wild
nature such as galloping Arabian horses or boats on the Tigris river.
Remarkably, none of the designs appear to have suffered any significant vandalism or the type of graffiti on the naked
blast walls, such as the scrawled slogans and advertisements for businesses hidden behind the concrete.
One barber tried to lure customers with a ditty that rhymes in Arabic: ''Jump and you will find me.''
The hands-off aura around the murals could be fear of the Iraqi security patrols or America's aerial surveillance. Badran
likes to think it's respect.
''People know these murals represent a kind of hope,'' he said. ''So why would they ruin them? That's like saying they
don't want things to improve.''
Qasim Sabti, who runs one of Baghdad's best-known galleries, said he encouraged about 20 young artists to join the mural
effort in the early stages, but denounced any attempt to push sectarian images.
''It is absolutely rejected by any respectful artist and we, as a community of artists, refuse this,'' Sabti said.
Manufactured scenery for Olympics
Polluted Beijing is usually shrouded in grey, so for the Olympics, Beijing city officials have tried to add some colour.
They have taken a dusty metropolis with thousands of cranes hovering over construction sites and sought to create an idealised
Enormous murals in shades of blue and green, many showing off towering palm trees and blue skies, rise like Hollywood backdrops
to hide the reality of the Chinese capital.
Beijing Olympics emblems are often used to hide unfinished construction projects. Some of the make-believe scenes are pastoral,
showing a path wandering through a tangle of trees, or rolling green hills that suggest a quaint village lies just out of
The murals typically hide a bare concrete wall, an ugly hole in the ground or a building site.
Feel like a game of golf? One mural guides the urban viewer down a lush, green fairway complete with sand bunkers.