papa ibra tall: hot fresh then & now


Papa Ibra Tall was a Senegalese artist, influenced by Negritude and French modernism. Papa Ibra Tall is the one. I love his lines, his colors, his overall aesthetic. Tall’s work is refreshingly non-derivative.

If Tom Robbins’ books were to be illustrated, Tall could do them. His paintings explore the connection and interplay between spaces and shapes, the proportion, the balance, the movement across the page, the overall experience as it interacts with the supreme detail of his pieces. That’s how Robbins’ writing is. Both are unconventional, both create art that involves or references many of the senses.

I love lines and appreciate linearity, and Papa Ibra Tall’s lines are one of a kind. This pseudo-collage, super luxurious feel of his images, bodies them up and saturates them. I think I’ve gushed publicly about Egon Schiele (gasp x 1000, so beautiful*), and I’m starting to feel this way about Tall. However, where Schiele’s pieces are intensely physical, Tall’s paintings feel almost otherworldly.  Unlike Schiele, the boundaries of Tall’s lines and planes are precise, and his colors saturated. Tall’s use of dots and other geometric details to build a multi-layered picture is also unique.  The effect on the page is also very different; Schiele’s work is involved, convoluted, very much about the internal monologue of whoever he’s depicting. There’ve a short story feel about them. Tall’s paintings convey a different narrative. His paintings are never about just one person, even if there’s only one person in the picture, because his paintings are about his subjects in relation to other environmental factors. Tall’s images tell a myth, a legend, an epic. The tonalities and the imagery remind me of an illustrated collection of fairytales that I read as a child.

old houses in krumau

* It ought to be noted that Schiele has some tendencies toward exploitation/voyeurism in his portraits of women. Someone who is hyper-physical, as Schiele is (just look at his treatment of the human form for proof) is hyper-physical in many ways. I’m not excusing it, but instead saying that it might be the flip side of a coin.


Laissez les bon temps rouler,

the girl


On Pursuing Childhood Dreams

In this particularly tumultuous pre-graduation, career-launching time, I’m faced with a barrage of questions about my future. Most of them sound a lot like, “What are you doing after graduation?” If they’re talking about careers, I can only answer that I’m still looking. What I’ll really be doing is pursuing the same dream I’ve had since I was a child, though with a different slant.

When I was little, I would always say I wanted to grow up and be a traveling artist. Over the past few years, I realized that, in one form or another, I’d always been chasing that dream. The following are few jobs I’ve thought about, to illustrate the idea:

1. Underwater photographer for nature/adventure programs

2. Writer (Travel journalism and novels, primarily)

3. Explorer (5th grade, writing about Magellan)

4. Foreign correspondent

5. Coral reef gardener

6. Tour manager

7. Book editor

8. Gallery owner or art collector

9. Sommelier

10. Entrepreneur

As you can see, at different times I’ve defined art and travel in different ways. Art includes the visual, verbal, performing and culinary arts. Sometimes I’m not even creating the art, but handling, evaluating or sharing it. Also, the travel can be mental or physical.  I like the process of going new places in my mind or in space probably because I love to learn and explore. The way that I appreciate art and the way that I travel are much the same – both require that I dig deeply into the experience. Combining the two lights me up.

As distant as these jobs may seem from one another, even in the context of the traveling artist concept, they do all share a certain quality. That is, I’ve never wanted to be a bohemian vagabond, though that could be considered a traveling artist. Instead, these are all purposeful careers. I need that forward motion. These ten ideas all offer the opportunity to learn constantly, to exercise my creative problem-solving skills, and to communicate meaningfully.

If I told you I wasn’t nervous about the next phase of my life, I’d be lying. I feel, as many seniors do, very vulnerable. Luckily, I also feel confident. I know exactly what I love to do, and know that there are many professional ways to achieve that happiness. It’s all about finding the slipper that fits.


As always, and especially now, laissez les bons temps rouler,


Advice About Creating Art, From Ira Glass

Screen Shot 2013-04-14 at 1.30.52 PM

Recently I received (indirectly) beautiful, inspirational advice from Ira Glass, the brains and the glasses behind NPR’s “This American Life.” This advice is really valuable, really important to keep in mind.

Video by David Shiyang Liu




Winston Churchill said…

“Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”



New Year’s Resolutions and Letting the Good Times Roll

I’m taking what I can into my own hands and leaving the rest to sort itself. Here are the things I will do, am doing, in this newest year:

1. Be healthier, inside and out.

2. Teach myself French.

3. Memorize a few poems.

4. Read Proust’s Swann’s Way.

5. Travel more, in big and small ways.

6. Write more diligently.

7. Learn better how to ask the right questions, and how to see what’s in between.

And hope that I continue winding up where I’m supposed to be!

Laissez les bons temps rouler,