Passepartout is all about documentaries and visual stuff I find worth seeing.

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A World of Emotion and Essence: The Enchanted Art of Katherine Bradford

Truth is, I quite often find consolation in words and in art, and these days I’ve been in special need of both. Luckily, I found Katherine Bradford‘s work.

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What nature made and a keen eye can find: the hall of fame of stones with human faces

You might not be impressed, but I am. I just discovered there is a Japanese museum of rocks that look like human faces. I used to own some of these, who knows where they ended up. If only I knew about this place.

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The Kitsch Update: Christina Rosen and her amazing ceramic dogs

There is a small part of me that wants to say ‘this is kitsch’. And then there’s another part of me that tells this small part of me to get lost – pff, you and your categories and concepts! – this is magic, you know it is…

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This simple feeling of comfort: the art of Frances Baruch

I cannot remember what I was searching for when I came across Frances Baruch‘s work. What I remember is this feeling of comfort I had looking at the pictures of her gentleness-inspiring ceramic work of people and animals. It was that feeling I sometimes have when I discover something that resonates with me and that feels…’true’.

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Old Passepartout, New Passepartout and a Trip in Between

Dear friends,

After thinking long and hard about the changes I want to make to Passepartout, I finally reached some conclusions. Starting June 2016 you can expect some new sections on the blog: a monthly interview, stories behind photos you might or might not know, more in-depth look into photo themes and also a monthly ‘Best of’ with everything good I spot around the web each month.

Meanwhile, May will be a month of rest, and Passepartout takes some time off because I will be on a trip to Thailand and Myanmar to recharge and explore.

But let’s not lose touch. Please subscribe Passepartout’s feed & newsletter.

See you all in June,

Bianca-Olivia

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17th Century Dutch Humor and What Hid Behind an Apparently Inoffensive Bush

The truth always prevails my dears, that’s what I have to tell you! They tried to cover it up in this 1643 Isack van Ostade’s A Village Fair with a Church Behind painting, and they painted a bush on top of it. But 100 years later, curators spotted the fake, took it off, and revealed the true “artist’s intentions”: a pooper with a dog looking at him. In 1903 when the bush was painted on top of this shameless little fellow, it seemed more appropriate to go about doing such business in a bush I guess. But in the 16th and 17th century this kind of potty jokes in art were apparently quite popular. You don’t have to be a high-brow art lover to appreciate old Dutch paintings, you can also be a ‘Where is Wally?‘ fan and spot for the twist behind them.

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Medieval Emoticons: the Delights of Seeing Art from Long Ago in a (Funny) New Light

I’m a big fan of medieval art and representations. That’s especially when they are cherry picked around a subject. I previously loved these Ugly Reinaissance Babies, now I’m absorbed by these ‘Medieval emoticons‘, and in general by the website where I found them. Discarding Images is a real treat.

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You’d Never Guess: an Animation Lars von Trier Made When He Was 11

Here’s a question: after watching Dancer in the Dark, Melancholia and Nymphomaniac (or whatever other films of his you watched)… can you imagine Lars von Trier as a kid? I…can’t. It makes sense that he was a kid at a point, but watching this surprising stop motion animation he made when he was 11… something doesn’t click. He is one of those people who feels like he was born the way he is now. It would make sense if as a kid he made Little-Dancer in the Dark and another version of Melancholia based on kids. But no.

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Chewed: photos of dogs’ second best friends

And when I thought a photo series cannot get more bitter-sweet than Mark Nixon’s Much Loved, I discovered Ron Warren & Arne Svenson’s Chewed. No big philosophy, just a series of dogs’ second best friends: chewed stuffed toys.

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The kitsch update: Elena Eremina’s still life with hamsters

It’s official: all the good kitsch comes from Russia. Or at least a good part of it. I hope you’ve seen Svetlana Petrova’s cat, Zarathustra, making classical paintings ‘better’. Or Svetlana Novikova’s crazy coloured animal paintings. Well, Elena Eremina photographs her hamsters, in the kitchen, after her husband and child go to sleep. The result is this photo series with a Flemish still life painting air in contrast with these too-cute-to-sweet sentimental scenes. I find this contrast surprising, terrible and lovely at the same time.

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Have you ever heard of Svalbard and its Soviet ghost town called Pyramid?

I have been watching a total of six films over the weekend. Three of them were documentaries. One of them was about a place you most likely never heard of: have you ever heard of Svalbard, this Norwegian island archipelago somewhere close to the Arctic? It is a largely frozen place populated by few people and way more polar bears, and the starting point of many expeditions to the Arctic. After seeing a short, informative and rather awkward TV documentary about the Russian community there (see the bottom of the page), I realized I heard about this place before, when I read about Pyramid, a Soviet town that used to represent the ideal communist community. The town is now abandoned.

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Oversized: surreal photos of animals in the middle of the city reminding they used to be welcome there too

Liu Di is a Chinese photographer and his Animal Regulation series is about breaking mental patterns of what our cities look or should look like, and have a thought of two about animals and how urban growth impacts them, or to be more accurate, excludes them from our life. Now that’s a good subject for reflection, and I know a thing or two about this. I could tell you about the fox I met in my street because we’re basically expanding our neighborhood on her land and she kinda lost her way. I could tell you about the hedgehog shelter I volunteered at, where wounded hedgehogs come to get better after being hit by something while trying to cross the street, because they do remember their home used to be on the other side. Or I could say nothing, nothing at all, just wish everyone not to see concrete and flats out of their windows, but green and animals, or even a giant bunny or an elephant (my guess is that the huge frog won’t be most people’s first choice).

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I know where your cat lives!

Basically the title says is all. I know and everyone knows. And now you can know where other people’s cats live too, there’s an app to help you with that kind of knowledge. Ingenious idea, I love cats, works for me, take a look.

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The kitsch accident: when old paintings, onions and eggs collide

Here is your dose of kitsch. When art meets onions and broken eggs, this is the result. It doesn’t happen often, and when it happens it’s not really an accident. In this case, Zeren Badar caused these particular accidents. He says he is hugely influenced by dadaism and neo-dadaism. He creates three dimensional collages with found objects, food and cheaply printed old paintings. Bottom line, the recipe is to take on per-existing work of art, put some onion, put some egg, some objects you find or just paint on them somehow, and take photos of the resulted collage. Yes, try at home.

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The Island of Doctor Moreau: the surprising-kitschy-collage version

Andrea Mastrovito makes a lot of stuff, and most of it is worth seeing so check her website and look carefully. What caught my eye is – predictable, right? – this amazing-kitschy-surprising-collage, a recreation of the animal kingdom, her own version of Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau, now called The Island of Dr Mastrovito with version I and II. Well. Truth is her version is much more gentle than the original story, in which a mad doctor does all sorts of experiments hoping to transform animals into people. Mastrovito only cuts all these animals from nature books and puts them all together in this arresting installation.

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Mimi Revencu’s world: cats, houses and the power of colors

These paintings come from somewhere very very close to me. So close that I have actually been around when some of them were painted. And that’s because the painter, Mimi Revencu, is my mom. She made art since she was young, then for years she did not. And in a twisted moment, when my uncle died, something changed. She went back to painting and ever since then – many years ago – she has been painting almost every single day. She defines her style as Mirabilism and every day, stroke after stroke, she creates a colorful world, full of energy.

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Bansky’s slaughter truck: stuffed toys raise questions about the meat industry but also about ourselves

Have you seen Bansky‘s slaughter truck? I find it brilliant. The idea is that if it’s hard to relate to the animals you don’t see and end up on your plate, then perhaps is not so hard to relate to the cute fluffy toys. The fluffy toys are going to be slaughtered. How do you feel about this? What are you gonna do? I admit it made me really sad. Sad to see the toys, which I love, but also sad to wonder…are we really that far away from nature and from those terrible meat farms, that the only way to relate to animals’ situation is through toys?

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When blessing is what you do for a living: Orthodox priests blessing stuff

This is not the kind of stuff you normally see on Passepartout, but I simply cannot help myself! I find it important for you to know that orthodox priests are in the habit of blessing everything, and once they start, they never stop. In the Orthodox tradition – in which I was born – people ask priests to bless, for example, a new house. But we don’t need to limit ourselves to that, obviously. Everything is ‘blessable‘. A tank, a horse, a spacecraft – all splashed with the holy water – in exchange for a more or less symbolic financial compensation. How much is this related to faith…I don’t know. But it also doesn’t matter. What matters is that you can just think and make a top 3 things you need to be blessed. Things will be arranged.

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So many stories: the magic of Alexander Jansson’s illustrated world

I cannot believe I found these only now! Where have they been hiding? It seems that every time I’m having a greyish Dutch day, I find something magical to get me out of the gloominess. Last time it was Leszek Kostuj and his surreal paintings. Now it is Alexander Jansson, this wizard from Sweden who does all sorts of mixed media illustration, 2D/3D stuff and other tricks. His work managed to completely change my day. Have a look. You really have to. It’s all magic.

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The magic, the kitsch and the love: Svetlana Novikova’s surprising animal art

What? You don’t like this? No, no, this cannot be. It’s 7 in the morning, autumn is coming, days are shorter… Can you tell me without blinking that you can take a look at this tomcat below and not get a warm and fuzzy feeling? I certainly do get that feeling and with this discovery, my love for kitsch art got an upgrade. These remarkable paintings are made by Russian painter Svetlana Novikova, and on her website she says her goal is to create one of a kind, exclusive original pieces of art that have a personal emotional impact. It seems to me she succeeds pretty well in doing that.

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