Wednesday, September 18, 2019

Contemporary Art: Alex Kanevsky `s Unstable Equilibrium @ Hollis Tagart New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - Contemporary art shows many influences. Alex Kanevsky studied theoretical mathematics at Vilnius University in Lithuania before pursuing an artistic career in the United States (wikipedia). Now the artist creates compositions which are inspired by the concept of unstable equilibrium in physics. Gallery Hollis Tagart in New York`s Chelsea district has an exhibition with Kanevsky`s paintings, called "Liberation and Disorientation" (through September 28 2019 hollistaggart ). I display my favorites here, a very subjective selection as usual.

The press release explains "produced between 2018 and 2019 - and most on view for the first time - the works highlight Kanevsky's singular ability to capture the fluidity of time, through a blending of figurative and abstract approaches and rich use of color".

Anyway, I love Kanevsky's unique style. With intentionally imprecise brush strokes he creates surreal images. But let the image speak for themselves.
On top of this post you can see "Nurses with Wine" (2019, Oil on board, 36 x 36 inches) followed by "Provocation" (2019, Oil on board); "Taste of Apple" (2019, Oil on board);  "Model with Apple and the Planes" (2018, Oil on board) & "C.B. with Darkness" (2019, Oil on board)

Above follow "Classic Nude" (2019, Oil on canvas) & "Samurai Kimono" (2019, Oil on board)

Above you can see "Girl with a Horse in Cerulleda" (2019, Oil on canvas) & "Concordia" (2018–9, Oil on board)

Last but not least  "Road with Headlights" (2019, Oil on canvas) & "Seascape" (2019, Oil on board).

To be continued

Movies: The Goldfinch

(Drivebycuriosity) - Donna Tartt`s novel "The Goldfinch" belongs to my favorite books. I really enjoyed following the leading character Theo over the years and the events around the name giving Dutch masterpiece. So I was curious how director John Crowley,  screen writer Peter Straughan and the producers distilled & visualized this story ( imdb).

The movie flopped badly at the US box office. I think the film doesn`t deserve this. The makers did a good job squeezing a complex plot, which is spread over almost 800 book pages, into 2 1/2 cinema hours and they found the right balance. Book and film tell the complex story about a traumatized boy who grows up with a strong sense of guilt and gets confronted & influenced by challenging persons (this is a spoiler free blog). The fact that the story was told in many flashbacks may have irritated many viewers and spoiled the commercial success.

The movie benefits from a strong cast. Oakes Fegley convinces as the young Theo and Ansel Elgort as the older. Finn Wolfhard fascinates as the young Boris, Theo`s rogue friend in Las Vegas. I liked Nicole Kidman`s appearances as well.  I also enjoyed how the camera caught the differences between the bustling & classy Manhattan scenes and the emptiness of desert town Las Vegas. The makers depicted convincingly the traumatic & claustrophobic situation which shaped Theo`s life.

Apparently the majority prefers fantasies about star wars, horror movies and comic book & video game adaptions. I am grateful that the producers withstood the zeitgeist and gave us a complex & fascinating drama.

Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Books: Quantum - Why Patricia Cornwell`s Newest Opus Is Just A Foam Of Words

 (Drivebycuriosity) -  Patricia Cornwell belongs to the leading contemporary thriller writers. In the 1990s I read some of her books and I enjoyed them, but then she went off my radar because my interests turned more into science fiction, history and other genres. The title of her new book, Quantum, got my attention. The book is the start of a new series.

Unfortunately Quantum is just the overstretched introduction into a story and does not have much plot for its own, if any. Mrs. Cornwell created just a foam of words. On more than 300 pages almost nothing happens and the author gives just some clues which may be followed up in the coming books or not. There are too many paragraphs which are not connected with each other. What was Mrs. Cornwell smoking when she wrote this? For being just the teaser for an upcoming novel the book is way too long - and a waste of time.

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Heavy Metal: Wovenhand @ Saint Vitus Brooklyn 2019

(Drivebycuriosity) - Wovenhand belongs to my favorite bands. Yesterday they played @ Saint Vitus Bar, a tiny place in Brooklyn, practically a hole in the wall. This was the 4th gig by the band I saw.

As usual the band from Denver, Colorado, created a melange of country, native folklore, gospels, psychedelic & heavy metal. I got the impression that their sound is getting heavier from concert to concert. Frontman David Eugene Edwards, who is known as a devout christian, seemed to celebrate a Holy Mass. Even though I am an agnostic I was mesmerized by David´s powerful gospels. His unique body language & voice - combined with the massive riffs of the band - created an idiosyncratic show,  blending gothic,  psychedelic and heavy metal elements - a kind of metal opera. Awesome.

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Stock Market: Trade War? What Trade War?

 (Drivebycuriosity) - US President Trump`s trade war against the rest of the world is going on. The tariff hikes on Chinese goods - and China´s retaliatory actions - are already hurting US manufacturing & farming. The trade war also slows China´s economic growth which is putting a break on the global economy and harms US exports further. But the stock market seems to ignore the trade war. The S&P 500, the gauge for the US stock market, is close to his all-time highs from July and gained 4% since last year. Too complacent? I guess not.

( )

The data from the economy front show that the US service sector, which accounts for more than 80% for the US GDP, is still growing and seems to be unharmed. Retail sales, the engine of the US economy, advanced in August 4% since last year,  weekly jobless claims stay close to all-time lows and salaries rose about 3% y-o-y.  It seems that the economy is flexible enough to whether the trade war so far thanks to the ongoing new industrial revolution. 

There are also 3 tailwinds which are partly compensating the negative influence of Trump´s trade war: First, oil prices stay subdued. Today, Brent Crude - the gauge for the global oil market - hoovers around $60. Cheaper oil translates into lower gasoline prices. As a result the gasoline addicted US consumers - many live in the suburbs or on the countryside and commute long distances - have more money in their wallets which compensates partly for the higher prices for imported goods

Second: Interest rates are on a historic low. Companies & home owners need less money to pay for their debts and the extremely low costs for loans still inspire to invest. 

Third: Advances in Internet (cloud, 5G), mobile computing, 3-d-printing, robotics, nano- & biotechnology and other technologies are creating new markets, reducing costs & raising efficiency. 

If the trade war does not escalate and does not spill over into the whole economy these 3 tailwinds should keep the bull market alive.

Friday, September 13, 2019

Contemporary Art: Impressions From Biennial 2019 @ Whitney Museum Of American Art New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - New York is known as a global financial center. But the megapolis also is a center of arts and offers some of the world´s best museums. The Whitney Museum Of American Art impresses by her architecture & belongs to the leading art collections of the world.

This week my wife and I visited the museum again where we saw their Biennial 2019. The curators claim that this is "an unmissable event for anyone interested in finding out what’s happening in art today" (whitney). Really?

The show gets a lot attention in the media and attracts a cool crowd.

Above you can some examples what these curators consider as important art. These sculptures are created by Nicole Eisenman & Daniel Lind-Ramos

Are clocks on the wall art works too?

Something green hangs from the ceiling. The return of the Blob?

What the heck?

People could also watch videos tbere

Some works were more to my taste like Jennifer Parker`s "A Lesson in Longing" (2019, oil on canvas) & Janiva Ellis` "Uh, Oh, Look who got wet" (2019, oil on canvas).

I  also liked these 2 paintings by Jeanette Mundt 

 by Calvin Marcus

and by Walter Price as well.

To be continued

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Culture: Is London The World Capital Of Indian Cuisine?

(Drivebycuriosity) - Recently my wife and I visited London, where we stayed 6 weeks. We had much time to explore the British Capital and loved many things we saw. The long visit gave us the opportunity to taste London`s Indian cuisine - a fascinating experience.

It seems that London is the world capital of Indian cuisine (dnaindia  bloomberg). There are 2 reasons for that. The English history is entangled with the past of the Asian subcontinent. India had been a British colony for about 100 years. Many British lived in India, some married local women, and assimilated with Indian culture. Otherwise people from India immigrated to England and many settled in the capital. 

The other reason is economic. High-end restaurants have very high costs and need a big  affluent clientele to survive. London has a big enough market to support a row of upscale Indian restaurants thanks to her wealth and the high standard of living. UK ´s income per capita is $42,000, India´s about $2,000 (wikipedia).  London has per capita income of about $65,000, Dehli just $5,000. As a result London has five Indian restaurants with Michelin stars, New York City has one and Paris none (michelin  cntraveller).

It seems that curries, Chicken Tikka Masala (chicken with a combination of ground spices) & chutneys are now a standard part of English cuisine and you can find an Indian restaurant at almost any London corner. But Indian cuisine is much more than curries. Indian cuisine is full of ancient recipes, techniques and food philosophies. And Indian chefs are not afraid to use spices which are also good for your health. Curcumin, found in turmeric, is a potent anti-inflammatory. Cinnamon helps balance blood sugar; cumin and coriander aid digestion; fenugreek reduces cholesterol, counters heartburn, ginger relieves nausea; chilies contribute high levels of vitamins A, B and C.

Yes, anyone can purchase these ingredients and flavor their food. You can get very hot dishes also at Mexican & Szechuan restaurants. But some Indian chefs have the talent to find the perfect fit of flavors and to combine them into the right balance. The ingredients are often clothed and marinaded into bespoke, unusual and creative blends of complex seasonings and then cooked in a hot-clay oven, over an open grill, on a searing hot-iron-plate, or stir fried.

During our London visit we dined in 10 Indian restaurants and in 5 of them we enjoyed tasting menus of eclectic dishes  (in alphabetical order) : Amaya, Cinnamon Club, Jamavar, Quilion & Trishna. The tasting menus were symphonies of flavors - mesmerizing. And it wasn´t just the tastes. The variety, complexity, uniqueness and the anticipation before each next step increased the pleasure. 

The Cinnamon Club, located in a former library in the Westminster district, is my favorite. (above an image from their tasting menu). A combination of appetizers - Tandoori Norfolk free range chicken chaat (filled fried dough) in pastry shell Devon crab and kokum berry salad on lotus root crisp & carpaccio of home cured Shetland salmon and caramel jhal muri - started an exceptional culinary tour and opened an intoxicating mix.

Other restaurants also served addictive dishes. At Jamavar for instance I got delighted by their Malai Stone Bass Tikka.  The fish is marinated in spices before cooking in the tandoori oven, served with green cardamom,  mace,  avocado & mint chutney. Another highlight there was the lamb chop marinated in cumin, crushed onion, yogurt, fennel and ginger before being cooked in the tandoori and served with more ginger, with some carrots on the side. The spices having been absorbed into the meat and beautifully taking its flavor to a higher level. At Trishna I loved their Meen Manga Curry, consisting of cod, raw mango and flavored with Malabar tamarind.

The desserts completed the taste sensations. Above an image of Jamavar`s Mango Rasmalai, containing of wheat biscuit, mango cream & berry chutney. I am also dreaming of Cinnamon Club`s Cardamom shrikhand (sweet strained yogurt ) with tamarind glazed berries.

Even restaurants which don´t belong to the ivy league served fine dishes. The Mumbai Delight in Vauxhall south of the river had a delicious Manglorian Fish curry: Fish fillets cooked in freshly ground coconut masala with the twist of tamarind and roasted spices. Some day we might go back to London and may continue our exploration!

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Contemporary Art: Paradise Lost By Volker Hüller @ Gallery Grimm New York

(Drivebycuriosity) - - Manhattan is a global center of finance and also a mecca of art. Many foreign art galleries are lured to come here because of the amassed wealth. On Manhattan´s traditional Bowery you can find there gallery Grimm, a division of a Dutch art dealer (grimmgallery).

Recently I saw there works by Volker Hüller (exhibition).  I  display my favorites here, a very subjective selection as usual.

To be continued