Cathy Breslaw's Installation

Cathy Breslaw's Installation
Cathy Breslaw's Installation:Dreamscape

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Korean Artist Do Ho Suh's Architectural Installations, Sculpture, and Drawings Examine "What is Home?": Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego

Do Ho Suh: Architectural Installations, Sculptures, Video and Works on Paper
Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego
through July 4, 2016

Article by Cathy Breslaw
Installation view, Do Ho Suh, The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, Austin, 2014. Courtesy the artist; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and the Kronos Collection. Photograph by Brian Fitzsimmons.

Korean artist Do Ho Suh creates architectural installations, sculptures and works on paper using themes of
home, identity, space, memory and migration.  When Suh wanted to re-create his New York City apartment, he looked to using a transparent polyester fabric, some steel wire rods, and the old-school technique of “rubbings” to create his ‘architectural drawings’ which served as “patterns”. He wrapped his real-life walls with paper, then carefully used blue crayon/chalk to rub across all surfaces top to bottom - precisely and completely calculating all measurements. This process served as an intimate connection Suh made to ‘home’ and ‘memory’, making a literal indelible mark on his mind.  The exhibition displays the immense drawings of each wall/room and all its fine details including light switches, heat regulators, locks, door knobs, pipes and fixtures. The result are room sized, transparent re-creations of his apartment, studio and staircase. Viewers can easily move through these life-sized see-through multi-colored structures and observe all spaces at once. In a separate museum room with black-painted walls viewers observe his series called Specimens,  single-encased large light boxes that house each appliance separately – refrigerator, bathtub, stove, and toilet.  Suh wants us to examine them beyond the objects themselves. The colored transparency of these common objects lends a sculptural point of view – as objects of beauty. Also included in this exhibition are a series of drawings made of multi-colored threads machine stitched and applied to hand-made paper.  It is within these drawings that we see some of Suh’s concentration on migration, his ideas about moving from place to place and his thoughts on identity. One drawing My Homes(2013) portrays a roughly hewn outline of a man made of black thread – while above his head two circles of several houses in various colors hang above – encapsulating Suh’s preoccupation with home, identity and moving as part of our globalized culture. Finally, a video mixed media animation Secret Garden (2012), depicts a replica of his home in Korea built by his father and where the artist grew up, as it is transported by semi-truck across the world to its ‘new home’ at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Do Ho Suh asks “What is home, identity and personal space in this globalized world with new and changing meanings, how do we maintain stability and who are we in relationship to what used to be our anchor – our ‘home’?”
Do Ho Suh, My Homes, 2013, thread embedded in Dieu Donné, cotton paper, 14 x 11 in. Framed size, 19 1/2 x 16 3/4 x 1 5/8 in. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin Gallery, New York and Hong Kong.

 Photo #3
Installation view, Do Ho Suh, The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, Austin, 2014. Courtesy the artist; Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong; and the Kronos Collection. Photograph by Brian Fitzsimmons. 

Photo #4
Do Ho Suh, Apartment A, Unit 2, Corridor and Staircase, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA (detail), 2011–2014. Polyester fabric and stainless steel tubes. Apartment A, 271 2/3 x 169 3/10 x 96 7/16 in. Unit 2, 422 7/16 x 228 1/3 x 96 1/16 in. Corridor and Staircase, 488 3/16 x 66 1/8 x 96 7/16 inches. Installation view, The Contemporary Austin – Jones Center, Austin, 2014. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photograph by Brian Fitzsimmons. 

Photo #5
Do Ho Suh, Specimen Series: Specimen Series: Stove, Apartment A, 348 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10011, USA, 2013. Polyester fabric, stainless steel wire, and display case with LED lighting. 41 3/4 x 20 1/2 x 25 3/4 in. Display case, 73 2/3 x 36 1/5 x 34 4/5 in. Edition of 3, AP 1. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photograph by Brian Fitzsimmons. 

photo #6
Do Ho Suh, Blueprint, 2014. Thread embedded in STPI cotton paper. 30 x 40 inches. Courtesy the artist and Lehmann Maupin, New York and Hong Kong. Photograph by Brian Fitzsimmons. 

Friday, March 25, 2016

The Life of an Opera Singer: Interview With Tenor Singer Teodor Ilincai Making U.S. Debut as ‘Pinkerton’ at San Diego Opera’s Upcoming Madame Butterfly

Interview/article by Cathy Breslaw

Teodor Ilincai, Opera Singer

Teodor Ilincai is a well-known tenor opera singer who makes his United States debut at San Diego Opera’supcoming performance of Madame Butterfly, opening Saturday April 16th.  Currently working in Marseille, France made it difficult to schedule a conversation, so I emailed Teodor questions about his life and work.
Rather than re-invent his words, I chose to present his answers the way he expressed them:

 1)    Where are you from?
I was born in northern Romania in a small and charming town called Falticeni in Suceava county,
a few miles from Malini, the village where my mom is from and where I grew up and had an amazing childhood.

 2)    Tell me about your family – Did you grow up in a family of professional performers?
I grew up in a very large musical family. To be precise, I have 9 brothers and 3 sisters.  Being the last child, makes me the “13th”, my lucky number! They all sing for fun and play instruments, too, in fact I took my first harmonica, guitar, and mandolin lessons from some of my older brothers.  Later, I learned piano, some traditional flute, and saxophone.  We used to sing in our Orthodox Church, so step by step I got used to Byzantine music common among Greek Orthodox people - but my family also had a choral tradition. One of my brothers is a cantor in the church in my native village, and three other brothers studied Theology, two of them being priests.  I am the only professional musician.

 3)    How did you get into singing opera? Who were your most important influences?
It was more like an accident, in fact two accidents….The first came when I participated as a contestant in a television show during my studies in Bucharest Conservatory where I learned to dance, act and sing. Back then I liked to sing American golden songs by Elvis Presley, Nat King Cole, Luther Vandross, Frank Sinatra,
Roy Orbison, and Paul Anka. My favorite of all is Elvis Presley!  A musical producer, Calin Marian,(may he rest in peace), felt that I had ‘something special’ in my voice and asked me to try some Neopolitan traditional songs. One song, “Time To Say Goodbye”, familiarized by Andrea Bocelli, brought me first prize when I sang it, and brought me a trip – surprise! – to Hollywood in 2003.  The second “accident” was in my last year of musical studies, when I needed money like other students – so I got a job in the Bucharest Opera Choir. I felt I could sing better than some of the soloists and here I am!

 4)    What is your educational background?
Between high school and four years of studying oboe and music theory in Suceava Music College, I studied
Philology (which deals with the structure, historical development, and relationships of a language). Thisenriched my knowledge about the world and improved my life as a human being.  Next I went to the
Conservatory in Bucharest where I studied Musical Pedagogy and Byzantine music.  Let’s not forget my private voice lessons with my beloved Maestro Corneliu Fanateanu, who unfortunately passed away last year. I will try and share with the world everything he taught me about singing and living.

5)    Since this is your debut in the United States, where else have you performed and what kinds of roles have you done thus far in your career?
I have performed at the most important opera houses in Europe – in Vienna, London, Paris, Monte Carlo,
Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Berlin, Hamburg, Munich, Dresden, Lausanne, Marseille, Toulouse and others.
At the beginning of my career, I was a full lyric tenor, which allowed me to perform Alfredo in La Traviata
by Verdi, Romeo from Romeo and Juliet – Gounod, Faust in Faust by Gounod, roles which I don’t sing anymore because my voice has changed significantly.  The only role, that of Rodolfo from La Boheme by Pucini, is one I will try and keep in my repertoire as long as possible as it is one of my favorites. I recently debuted as Mario Cavaradossi from Puccini’s Tosca and Turiddu from Cavalleria Rusticana by Mascagni, roles in which I feel very comfortable and brought me great satisfaction. The role of Pinkerton in Madame Butterfuly is one I enjoy as well.  In the next few years I will have debuts as Verdi’s Don Carlo and Manrico from Il Trovatore. Another role close to my heart is Lensky from Evgeni Onegin by Tchaikovsky, which is, in my opinion, a role suitable for smooth-spinto voices(and not for a lyric tenor, like most of the opera casting directors are used to choosing) because of the intensity and drama of this unique character. I hope to have the chance to sing it again sometime soon.

 6) Are you involved in any other kinds of performance other than opera? Acting? Musical groups?

I’ve been singing religious Orthodox music all my life, but also jazz, soul, blues, rock, pop-rock nad rock n’ roll.  I was a member of different choirs, whose approaches were from the Renaissance and Romantic periods. I have also sung Negro Spirituals, Romanian traditional and modern music. All those styles helped me to understand all kinds of music. Now I sing all this for fun, for myself and for anyone who comes to visit my apartment in Bucharest.  Sometimes I go to church and sing with pleasure the Byzantine music I grew up with and trained for.  As far as acting, I improve my acting directly on the stage, having played many different characters and I continue to learn so many things from the great directors I’ve worked with and continue to work with.

7)    Tell me about your singing  training.
You will discover my singing while attending my performances in Madame Butterfly. I consider that I simply continue both Romanian and Italian singing traditions, ancient, but very effective – singing that I personally think is the ingredient that could save each and every opera singer in the world.  I add some refinement, respect for the score, personal feeling and a piece of Romanian ‘deep soul’ and here you have the recipe!

8)    What are the most difficult part of being an opera singer? What is the best part of performing opera?Well, let’s call it challenging, as my agent Alan Green likes to say: “Say its challenging – not difficult, but if you say difficult you may block your brain. “ The idea is to be balanced, to be conscious that we’re like athletes who need to train and have a well-ordered life: eat healthy, sleep enough, but managing to stay relaxed at the same time is challenging.  Being away from home, travelling for long periods of time, can be painful since I love my country, but it’s a sacrifice all artists make. Also to make audiences happy is challenging – art is subjective.  The best part is that I am doing what I love the most, and I receive appreciation.

9)    How have you been training for Pinkerton? How long will you be rehearsing for this role?
I started studying this role on my own while in Barcelona playing in La Boheme in 2013. It was challenging because Puccini wrote the music for orchestra in such a powerful and dramatic way – you really need to be focused on giving your best, both vocally and interpretative. Then, the role is passing through all the registers of the voice – so its mandatory to have a strong technique and a Puccinian voice to achieve all the subtleties he wanted.  Another challenge is that you have to keep your voice “alive”, warmed up until the third act, taking into account that Pinkerton doesn’t sing in the second act. I think I manage to solve all these challenges as I’ve played this role several times. I will rehearse in San Diego for about 2 weeks – I believe this is plenty of time to make everyone happy!

10)  How long will you be in the U.S.? Will this production of Madame Butterfly be travelling to other cities/countries?
I’ll be in the USA until the end of April – I am happy to make my U.S. debut in San Diego, in such a great city!  I will be singing Pinkerton again next season in two different productions, at Staatsoper Berlin and the Royal Opera House in London.

11) Is there anything else you want your audiences to know about you or this specific version ofMadame Butterfly?
I’m 100% sure this production will be a success as I am a big fan of America and its accomplishments in acting, directing, music, entertainment, and visual art and opera is part of all that. As far as myself is concerned, I have come to learn that it is not healthy to underrate yourself so I say to all readers that they don’t know what they will be missing if they don’t come and hear me sing!


Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Robert Maplethorpe's "The Perfect Medium" - Joint Retrospective Exhibition at J.Paul Getty Museum and Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Robert Maplethorpe: The Perfect Medium
Joint Retrospective Exhibition - Los Angeles County Museum of Art and J. Paul Getty Museum
March 15 – July 31
Article by Cathy Breslaw

Whether the subject is portraits of celebrities or personal friends, nudes, floral still lifes, or his controversial “X Portfolio”depicting the gay s&m community, Robert Maplethorpe’s work is dominated by formalism - the sculptural nature of forms and an obsessive attention to detail. His highly prolific art career was cut short at 46 years old due to complications of AIDS but his mostly black and white photographs stunningly distilled gorgeous images carefully cultivated in his studio continue to mesmerize, shock and amaze us. His work reflects American cultural markers of the 1960’s, 70’s and 80’s – the sexual revolution and those marginalized by it, queer and gender issues, fashion, music and art icons. The subjects of his photographs were people in his own personal world including a long-standing friendship with musical artist Patti Smith, his long-time lover, patron and curator Sam Wagstaff, and a large series of self portraits. His photographs of black men in both portraits and nudes perfectly posed remind us of finely chiseled classical nude sculptures.  Maplethorpe also collaborated with body builder Lisa Lyon, creating over 200 photographs that challenge notions of how the female form should look. While both LACMA and the Getty are exhibiting a range of Maplethorpe’s photographic work, LACMA also exhibits works from his early career including jewelry he designed, assemblages using clothing, collage and constructions inspired by contemporaries like Andy Warhol, Jasper Johns, and Robert Rauschenberg. Also included are installation works incorporating Catholic iconography drawn from his Catholic family background, and appropriated imagery from homosexual periodicals. Elements of “dress up”, theater and an aspect of playfulness are also expressed in his photographs, especially in his portraiture. His goal of physical perfection in his models and subjects as well as in the photographic prints he created is visible throughout his work. Also on view are early drawings, sculptures, Polaroid photographs and short video works, lending more insight into Maplethorpe’s artistic sensibility and intentions. The scope of Maplethorpe’s work seen twenty-seven years after his death is fascinating in its connection to the formative social issues of three decades of American culture, especially in its examination of gender and identity issues and is an interesting counterpoint to our culture today.

These simultaneous exhibitions at both LACMA and the Getty is comprised of work acquired jointly in 2011 from the Robert Maplethorpe Foundation and the David Geffen Foundations and Getty Trust. Maplethorpe’s works for these shows were curated by LACMA’s Brit Salvesen, head of the Wallis Annenberg Photography Department and the Getty’s Paul Martineau, Associate Curator, Department of Photographs. Maplethorpe’s The Perfect Medium will go on international tour to the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts in Montreal Canada, the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Sydney Australia and a third venue.

Robert Mapplethorpe American, 1946–1989 Andy Warhol, 1983 Gelatin silver print Image: 39.1 x 38.5 cm (15 3/8 x 15 3/16 in.) Promised Gift of The Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation to the J. Paul Getty Trust and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art, L.2012.89.156 © Robert Mapplethorpe Foundation