Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Tricky - The Dark One Is Back

He’s Back! Tricky released Knowle West Boy after taking about 5 years off. Within the same vein of Maxinquaye, this new release is reminiscent of his former glory. “Past Mistake” is a noteworthy track on this exciting new album. The dark brooding backdrop and haunting soundscapes form an all-encompassing aura that seems to swirl all around you all the while pulling you deeper within itself.
His music transcends regular boundaries and becomes an audio storyboard with faceless actors. This time accompanied by Lubna, Tricky echoes the lyrics in his low growl as she whispers of an unforgotten past.

Monday, September 29, 2008

Neruda - The Heights of Macchu Picchu

In “The Heights of Macchu Picchu” Pablo Neruda drifts in between surreal and physical realms, contemplates and confronts death, only to be reborn in unity with his fellow man.

The Heights of Macchu Picchu is essentially a long poem, written in free verse, consisting of twelve individual cantos, representing the calendar year as well as its seasons. Although each canto has its own flow, tone and style, they all fit in together to form a complete idea. Through the use of metaphor, Neruda accomplishes in transporting the reader into a world where the most common items acquire extraordinary attributes and the metaphysical unites with the concrete.
It is a poem of symbolic death, redemption and resurrection in which the poet himself begins as a lonely voyager and ends with a full commitment to the American indigenous people, their Indian roots, their past, and their future.

Not All The Same

Aren’t we all the same? Don’t we all eat the same food (rice and beans)? Don’t we all speak the same language and dance to the same music (salsa, merengue, bachata, and cumbia)? Don’t we all look the same?

The answer is NO.

I have personally felt like I’ve had to “educate” certain non latinos about our various cultures at times, and never felt it should be that way. Most of our countrymen emigrated to the United States “The Land of Milk and Honey” from the Carribean, Central and South America and were forced to assimilate within mainstream culture, and suppress our old customs.

It is interesting that we, as Latinos, always see and discusses the differences between our many cultures. We are proud of the characteristics and customs that make us Cuban, Peruvian, Dominican, or Puerto Rican etc, when amongst ourselves, but seem comfortable with “mainstream” America grouping us all as one and labeling us all as Hispanics, Latinos, or even just Spanish people. In accepting these “blanket” monikers we further enforce the injustices and ignorance that force the people of our many nations to adhere to the same artificial rhythm. This also gives “mainstream” America the idea that any one subsection or nationality can in fact speak for or represent the larger, more diverse group. This response, although understandable, does not improve the plight of our Spanish-speaking countrymen. Many times we feel that there is “strength in numbers”, therefore accepting these labels as a way to simply safeguard what is ours and not lose any ground in the advances that have been made thus far.

This is just something that I have chosen to articulate after pondering the subject for some time...

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

"Crash" Matos

John “Crash” Matos is a well known modern artist and former graffiti artist. John’s earlier work focused on “ masters” or “pieces” which consists of full mural-like pictures as opposed to “tagging” which is more or less an elaborate signature. Unlike others who have come from this background, John was able to successfully transition his work’s support from primarily trains and walls to canvas. Although he made this transition, John still utilizes the tools of his former life, spray-paint to create his work.

What one immediately grasps when you look at his work is his aggressive use of bold color… color that is not just aesthetically pleasing, but tells a story as well. His adventurous nature shines through in his strong transitions in color, shape and style. There are definite comic book references made in certain pieces like “Shadow”, while “In Contempt Of” seems to stick to his graffiti-inspired roots.
There is a quality about his work that makes me feel like he has an almost imaginary sack of ideas in his mind where he extracts his images to put into his work. Although some of the images he superimposes or squeezes in on one canvas may seem random, there is something about them that joins them together. The separate images almost seem to be fighting for supremacy and space on the canvas while John picks and creates the ones with the most compelling story. Each image has something to say individually, all the while still contributing to the bigger picture.

A common theme among the various pieces that I have looked at would be John’s infatuation with the eye. Eyes are painted meticulously making clear and distinct appearances in works while other objects are obscured by or overlap one another. The eye is depicted as a radiant force in otherwise unintelligible pieces. Possibly because many people believe the eye to be the window to one’s soul, I believe John makes the eye the window to his paintings’ souls by conveying their meaning or purpose through them. John is a master at his craft, and I really appreciate that fact that he remains focused on his individual vision within a world which is dominated by oil and acrylic.