Hilma af Klint - A Pioneer of Abstraction

Wassily Kandinsky is generally regarded as the pioneer of abstract art. However, a Swedish woman called Hilma af Klint (1862–1944) might claim that title.
When Wassily Kandinsky wrote to his New York gallerist Jerome Neumann in December 1935, he was clearly anxious to reassure him once again that he had painted his first abstract picture in 1911: ‘Indeed, it’s the world’s first ever abstract picture, because back then not one single painter was painting in an abstract style. A “historic painting”, in other words.’ Sadly, this historic painting was thought lost. The artist neglected to take it with him when he left Russia in 1921 for Germany, before later moving to France. He knew the art world was engaged in a contest. To be acknowledged as having produced the first abstract painting had become a highly coveted prize. Which modern artist could claim that prize was still being fought over.
What Kandinsky did not know is that a Swedish painter by the name of Hilma af Klint had created her first abstract painting in her Stockholm studio in 1906, five years before him. What’s more, she had taken the same path towards abstraction. Without knowing of each other’s existence, the two artists seem to have travelled for a long way like two trains on the same tracks. Klint arrived before Kandinsky.
The history of the Swedish artist Hilma af Klint (1862-1944) is fascinating and unknown to most. It is a story of a female artist on the edge of the establishment – like the subjects of the earlier exhibits Women of the Avant-garde in 2012 and Yoko Ono in 2013 – and thus far she has not attracted much attention in art history. 
Her extensive work was created in a spiritual space of mysticism and other parapsychology movements – similar to what happened with Kandinsky around 1900. Hilma af Klint links inner experience and symbolism together in innovative and pioneering abstract paintings that were never shown publicly in her lifetime, when she exhibited only her figurative images.
Klint was educated at the Royal Academy of Art in Stockholm (1882-87), specializing in naturalistic landscape and portrait painting. In 1906, at the age of 44, she began to paint abstract and symbolic images, and between the years 1906 and 1915 she created her magnum opus, Paintings for the Temple, consisting of 193 paintings in various series and groups. Collectively they are about conveying the idea that everything beyond the visible world is connected. She began early on to take an interest in the unseen aspects of reality as well, and beginning in 1896 she participated in weekly meetings of a group of women artists called “The Five” with the objective of expanding their spiritual consciousness.

 A fundamental notion for many artists in the 1900s was that art should broaden our sense of reality. Painting was the means by which Hilma af Klint sought insight into a greater context behind the visible world. An interest in the occult and the spiritual was in vogue at the time, but af Klint kept this side of her artistic pursuits hidden from the rest of the world. HOK is pleased to now be raising awareness of these unique works and to contribute to bringing a bit of art history up to date”, concludes Milena Hoegsberg.

A number of Hilma af Klint’s abstract works are structured in series, with dimensions measuring several meters in height and width. It took as many as four men to hang each painting on the wall. In the enormous works that depict the stages of life from birth to death, geometric forms and symbols are combined with the ornamental.

Ed van der Elsken

Ed van der Elsken (1925, Amsterdam -1990, Edam NL), was one of the Netherland’s greatest and most influential photographer and filmmaker, who expressed his meetings with people in photos, photo books and films for more than 40 years. Although his worldwide reputation rests on his unique black-and-white photography, the last thirty years of his life were mainly devoted to working in colour. 
His first book of colour photographs, EYE LOVE YOU, was published in 1977. Ed van der Elsken photographed people. Or more precisely, what people made of life and what life did to people. He travelled all over the world recording this in his photographs and, in the process, creating a unique oeuvre that continues to attract international attention even today. ‘A book about people’ is what he called his first book of colour photos, EYE LOVE YOU (1977). ‘I love you’ but also ‘My eye loves you’. Love, life and death play key roles. Looking and being looked at. Van der Elsken’s themes are the sexual interplay and tension between men and women, the freedom and happiness of young people setting out to explore the world, and the experience of destitution in disillusioned old age. He was one of the first photojournalists in the Netherlands whole-heartedly to embrace colour photography. Van der Elsken had already used colour (slide) film in the fifties, when he was working on his pioneering photobooks Een liefdesgeschiedenis in Saint Germain des Prés (1956) and Sweet Life (1966), although both were eventually published entirely in black-and-white. 

In 1950 Ed van der Elsken  founded “kindred spirits” in a group of dropouts in the St. Germain des Prés (Paris) neighborhood. In a private diary he kept photographic “notes” about their activities, which he was allowed to photograph undisturbed. It is evident that he was primarily fascinated by the beautiful redhead Vali Myers. In 1953 he met Edward Steichen, who pointed out that his photographs had a narrative structure and advised him to create photography book that tells a story. Supported by his wife at the time, the Hungarian Ata Kando, van der Elsken organized his contact sheets, put together the first of a total of three dummies and started a joint project with the graphic designer Jurriaan Schrofer. In 1956 the publisher De Bezige Bij released „Love on the Left Bank“. Elsken‘s pictures were put together to form the story of the unrequited love of the protagonist Manuel for Ann alias Vali Myers. It is fictional and takes place over a period of months, during which he followed a pair of lovers with his camera and captured a harsh yet tender love story in the working class neighborhood of St. Germain des Prés. The photography book that resulted is not only regarded as the summit of his work but is also internationally recognized as one of the most extraordinary photography books of the 20th century, as it is the first one using the format of a photo novel.

Ed van der Elsken's work remains to be widely shown at contemporary art museums throughout the world. Recent solo- and group shows were held at the Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo (2015), Museum Boerhaave, Leiden (2014), Stadsarchief Amsterdam(2014), Nederlands Fotomuseum, Rotterdam (2010), Foam, Amsterdam (2005), The Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo (2003), The Palazzina di Giardini, Modena (2002) and many others.

Joseph Plateau - Phenakistoscope

In 1832, Belgian physicist Joseph Plateau invented the phenakistoscope, or 'spindle viewer' as a toy for his sons. The optical toy - phenakistoscope, was an early animation device that used the persistence of vision principle to create an illusion of motion.  It was also invented independently in the same year by Simon von Stampfer of Vienna, Austria, who called his invention a stroboscope.  Plateau's inspiration had come primarily from the work of Michael Faraday and Peter Mark Roget. Faraday had invented a device he called "Faraday's Wheel," that consisted of two discs that spun in opposite directions from each other.  From this, Plateau took another step, adapting Faraday's wheel into a toy he later named the phenakistoscope.  The phenakistoscope uses the persistence of motion principle to create an illusion of motion.  Although this principle had been recognized by the Greek mathematician Euclid and later in experiments by Newton, it was not until 1829 that this principle became firmly established by Joseph Plateau. 
The phenakistoscope consisted of two discs mounted on the same axis.  The first disc had slots around the edge, and the second contained drawings of successive action, drawn around the disc in concentric circles.  Unlike Faraday's Wheel, whose pair of discs spun in opposite directions, a phenakistoscope's discs spin together in the same direction.  When viewed in a mirror through the first disc's slots, the pictures on the second disc will appear to move.
The phenakistoscope uses the persistence of motion principle to create an illusion of motion.  Although this principle had been recognized by the Greek mathematician Euclid and later in experiments by Newton, it was not until 1829 that this principle became firmly established by Joseph Plateau. 
The phenakistoscope consisted of two discs mounted on the same axis.  The first disc had slots around the edge, and the second contained drawings of successive action, drawn around the disc in concentric circles.  Unlike Faraday's Wheel, whose pair of discs spun in opposite directions, a phenakistoscope's discs spin together in the same direction.  When viewed in a mirror through the first disc's slots, the pictures on the second disc will appear to move.  
The phenakistoscope was also referred to as the Phantasmascope and Fantoscope and was ultimately replaced by William George Horner's  Zoetrope. 
A zoetrope is different because the images are fitted inside a spinning wheel and users peer through the slits in the side of the toy. This means more than one person can see the moving images for various angles. 
Although the toy was invented before Queen Victoria took to the throne, it became popular during her reign.

A later, handheld version of Plateau's design was created in which the discs were separated, thus removing the need for a mirror. 
Examples of scenes, depicted on the original phenakistoscope, include a couple dancing and horses jumping over fences. Others show jesters performing star jumps as red and yellow birds fly near their heads, frogs hopping around a circle of grass blowing in the wind, and magpies bouncing on top of people's heads as the people are showing eating small blue balls.
There are also kaleidoscopic phenakistoscopes that use geometric shapes to create a hypnotic effect, and more surreal images of men climbing ladders into the mouth of the Moon, or diving into the mouths of lions. 

The digital versions of these stunning animation are created by American photographer Richard Balzer

Ninna Galas - Roma: One Nation Many Lives

Moldova, October 2015. 
My first photo project.
The story of the most interesting ethnic group of people you can meet in any country -  Gypsies. 
One nation – Many lives. 

Aurika has beautiful, brown eyes, anxious face and a rare smile, which seems to be disappearing slowly from her face. She is gypsy. And she is a mother of eight children. Gabi is the youngest one, smiling all the time and running in the square around the cathedral while her mom and older sister asking people for help in Chisinau streets.
They asked us for help too. and then she told the story with a hope us to help them somehow.
She told us how hard it is to live in the street under the Chisinau sky in this cold, rainy weather, she told us how difficult it is for mother to not being able to give the children normal life. And she showed us a wedding ring on her finger, the ring which gives her an imaginary hope of being close to her husband , who has actually died several years ago.

Aurika was still a kid when her mother died and she was sent to an orphanage. As she told us, that was the hardest time in her life. Even though she learned read and write there, she was treated very bad and tried to escape from there many times. And she finally did.
After getting married and having kids, she was dreaming of having a normal family and to raise her children in an appropriate way. But everything got wrong for her. They have been kicked out from their flat because of the unpaid rent and were forced to live in the street. on the question if she would work if she had a chance, she looks at us with a hope and says, yes, I would love to have a job, I would be happy to be able to work like other people do, to see my children being proud of me, to have a chance to send them to school or kindergarten and give them education to live normally in the future. but its not possible so far. Schools refused to accept my kids only because we are gypsies. When we asked what the state does for them, she said she sent a letter to several institutions and asked them to accept them to school but the only answer she got was an offer to send the kids in an orphanage.
 <which mother would send her kids to the orphanage, I’d rather live in the street with them then send them to that place> says Aurika. 
Then she is asking us how many we are and if we actually are able to change something for them with this project
- W
e are many and we hope that our project can have some good outcome and will be a step forward to change their lives, to change many lives of one nation.
And she is happy, telling a smiley good bye and hopes to see us again.
We leave.

Text - Barbare Popova
Photo - Ninna Galas

Etsuko Miura

Etsuko Miura is a Japanese modeler, sculpting unusual bondage dolls. What people don’t realize is the life-size scales and proportions of these creations. These Frankenstein brides mates are handcrafted to a traumatic, amputated status.
Formerly, Hans Bellmer attempted the creation of a perverted girl fantasy with ball-joint dolls, and Miura carries on his aims in a sensational manner to create intensely majestic "Eros and Thanatos" bride dolls that evoke an ultimate eroticism in the context of the Pygmalion aesthetic.

Tari Nakagawa

Doll artist Tari Nakagawa was born in Iwatsuki, Saitama, He's being studying the  Modeling course in University of Tsukuba. Later he has started studying doll sculpting with Roy Yoshida at DOLL SPACE PYGMALION.
Lives and works in Sapporo.

2009 -  Exhibition Down Below - Down Below - (Yokohama Roman Museum)      
            Exhibition Vol.109 monochrome Exhibition (Daikanyama Art Rush)
            Spinning eyes Nakagawa Tari × Sugawara Eiji Exhibition of barrier (Otaru Dala Space)
2010 - Mellow Yellow,Merry-Go-Round,(Ginza Yu Gallery) 
           Girl Alice Exhibition (Shibuya Maria of the heart)
           Yoshi Manabu, ten ghost Exhibition, hell Courtesan Exhibition  (Shibuya Maria of the heart)
           Goth Exhibition, (Yokohama Roman Museum)
2011 - Day of sleep The Girl under the Mayudama, Contemporary woman writer Exhibition,(Shibuya Maria of the heart)
           Yoruso Bellmer Exhibition part3, "Bellmer and Japanese Ball Jointed Doll" Exhibition, (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           Sea of ​​Our Lady Exhibition (Shibuya Maria of the heart)
           Exhibition white sea (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           August of paradox Exhibition (Shibuya Maria of the heart)
           Oiran hell Courtesan Exhibition (Shibuya Maria of the heart)      
           Arrivederci Maria Cuore (Shibuya Maria of the heart)
2012 - Yoruso doll Exhibition 2012 [Requiem / Renaissance] (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           Permanent Exhibition ark (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           Exhibition twilight Sora,foil Labyrinth (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           The doll exhibition at the doll Napishtim nurses (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           Taisho Roman doll Trade Concert (Otowa Hatoyama Hall / Ningyo-ya Sakichi sponsored)
2013 - Elpis (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           Nakagawa Tari screw Collection Exhibition, Les Catacombes blanches (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           Moroboshi Daijiro Tribute Exhibition (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           Little Creatures1 ~ 5 Exhibition (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)      
           Body & clothes Exhibition (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           Boy and Rabbit Exhibition (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           Yoruso # girl Exhibition "Sometimes the transitory girls are  beyond the hour" (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
2014 - "Costa d'Eva, Eve of rib - Nakagawa Tari doll Works" published(Publishing / studio-Parabolica)
            Rib exhibition Eve (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
           "Robe de Plumes."
           "Kafka Tribute Part3" within the doll participation (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
            Yoruso # doll Exhibition (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)
            Exhibition Eve of rib + flower Labyrinth (Nagoya K's old houses)
2015 - Chi聚 (Sanaki),Chile and Others (Nagoya various places)
           Exhibition Eve of rib + flower Labyrinth (Asakusabashi Parabolica bis)

Mari Shimizu

Mari Shimizu was born in Amakusa, Kumamoto. She took video courses at Tama Art University. Later she started dolls' production for the puppet show and at the same time she was doing doll photography.
After graduating, beside the voluntary screening activities, she was working on creation of dolls

Famous for her artwork featuring ball-jointed dolls, Mari Shimizu’s latest solo art exhibition titled “Manifeste du Pop Surréalisme” was held at Tokyo’s Vanilla Gallery from Jan. 20 to Feb. 1, 2014.
According to the artist’s statement, since Andre Breton launched his Surrealist Manifesto in 1924 and Hans Bellmer published his own doll art 10 years later, the 20th century came to be thought of as the age of machines. However, at precisely the same time the unconscious mind was beginning to be unlocked through psychoanalysis. Once God made people who made people, but morality and religious worship died in World War II. Ninety years after the Surrealist Manifesto, what interests Mari Shimizu now more than all religions and philosophies, is a paradise in which all forms of life––humanity, animals, and plants––can all exist together as the icon of a new era.

2000 - The doll photos used in the album "Antique". 
2001 - Established a doll classroom "Atelier orchard". 
2008 - September, solo exhibition "Bible and the horse"
2010 - February, solo exhibition "Maria - Strange Angels Garden 
2012 - June, released the anthology "Miracle"  (Atelier third)
           July, participated in "ART OSAKA" (B Gallery). 
           September , the doll used in drama "Red Thread of Woman" 
2013 - January, the doll used in drama "The Brothers Karamazov"
           March, retrospective exhibition to commemorate the 20th anniversary doll artist "St.Freaks - Holy Variant " 
           April, pro events in Italy Brescia " Il Giappone nel chiostro to participate in. "
2014 - January, solo exhibition "Pop Surrealism Declaration" 


Mahlimae is a group of art dolls created by Nicole Watt in the middle of the wilderness in Tasmania, Australia. These small imaginary beings look as if they came straight out of a long forgotten magical forest. Lovely and eerie, with sad innocent eyes, Mahlimae dolls have captured many people’s hearts since 2011.
Nicole Watt is a self-taught mixed media sculptor with a degree in Psychology. And, the name Mahlimae is the amalgamation of her two daughters’ middle names: Mahli and Mae. She started making dolls when she was pregnant with her youngest daughter and wanted to create special keepsakes for her.
All Mahlimae dolls are carefully hand-sculpted and created using gathered natural materials. And, their exquisitely simplistic, adorable, and quirky designs are inspired by ancient folklore. Inexplicably beautiful, their subtly expressive faces – made using tattered fabrics – radiate their longing for connection.

“Sewing was one of those skills I seemed to spontaneously and quite mysteriously acquire upon having children. I have however, always been a dreamer – one of those people with a wild (some would say odd) imagination full of magical places inhabited by some strange but loveable characters. I have countless art journals filled with whimsical creatures and the stories that illustrate their existence; often inspired by the Tasmanian wilderness in which I am lucky enough to live.

Mahlimae is the means through which I attempt to bring some of these quirky characters to life through fabric, narratives and watercolour illustrations. I like to think time has started to shape a unique Mahlimae ‘style’ which, if I had to describe it, would be a little asymmetrical, a lot quirky and always brimming with my heart and soul.”