Art World Roundup: Easter egg found at Santiago de Compostela, lightning bolt becomes protest icon, David Alan Harvey’s suspension from Magnum, and more

Art World Roundup: Easter egg found at Santiago de Compostela, lightning bolt becomes protest icon, David Alan Harvey’s suspension from Magnum, and more
Photo of protests in Poland featuring a poster of work by Ola Jasionowska. Courtesy Flickr Commons/Marta Konicki.

This week’s Art World Roundup includes an art historian who’s found an Easter egg at Santiago de Compostela, another type of pilgrimage for Bob Ross enthusiasts and an exhibition of works by Ahmet Ögüt pulled early in Azerbaijan. Learn more about Ola Jasionowska, the artist behind the red lightning bolt used by Polish protesters, and see what artists received grants through the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Finally, an update on the suspension of David Alan Harvey from Magnum over harassment allegations.


Easter egg left by medieval stonemason

Dr Jennifer Alexander, a reader in art history at the University of Warwick, has undertaken an extensive survey of Santiago de Compostela, a cathedral that attracts hundreds of thousands of pilgrims from around the world. During her work, tucked away amongst the foliage carved into the building’s pillars, Alexander found the signature, in the form of a self-portrait, of stonemason who worked on the cathedral’s construction. “You find this in medieval buildings,” Alexander told the Observer. “They’re usually in dark corners where only another stonemason would find them. This one is in a bit of the building where you’d have to be a stonemason to be up there to see it. It’s tucked away in among a whole set of capitals [the top of a column] that are otherwise plain. It’s just such a charming connection between us and the person that carved it. It’s almost as if it was designed just for us to see it by those people working on the building. Of course, this stonemason probably had no idea that he’d have to wait so long to be spotted.” The maker of the stone self-portrait is unknown, as are most of the tradesmen who worked on the impressive Romanesque building. Alexander’s survey is part of a project funded by the Galician regional government to better understand the cathedral and its construction.

Figure carved into stone found at Santiago de Compostela Art World Roundup
A stonemason’s self-portrait hidden amongst the pillars of Santiago de Compostela. Photograph: Courtesy of Jennifer Alexander vis the Observer


Ahmet Ögüt accuses museum of using exhibition as propaganda

A solo exhibition of works by Turkish artist Ahmet Ögüt was abruptly ended after it was used as part of a propaganda campaign, according to the artist. “No Poem Loves Its Poet” was on view at the Yarat Contemporary Art Space in Baku, Azerbaijan. The art space took to Instagram and Facebook in early October posting a photo of the museum’s façade with banners for Ögüt’s exhibition and a banner reading “Everything for the homeland! Karabakh is Azerbaijan.” Karabakh is currently occupied by Armenian forces but is recognized by the UN as part of Azerbaijan. Both sides have violated ceasefire orders in recent months. After the post, Ögüt wrote a public letter stating: “As the institution has regrettably rejected my requests to take down the exhibition banner with my name appearing next to the Azerbaijani national flag on the facade of its building, and the photo thereof on its social media sites, I have no other option but to demand the immediate closure of my exhibition […] I refuse to allow my work to fall prey to political instrumentalization.” “No Poem Loves Its Poem” was was then ended by art center on October 29th, the day following Ögüt’s letter, as was confirmed by Art Asia Pacific.


A different type of art pilgrimage

Bob Ross, the beloved painter who taught the masses how to embrace “happy little accidents” and to paint through a PBS series The Joy of Painting, has experienced a renaissance in recent years. His television show, filmed between 1983 and 1994, has been  revived by Netflix and people around the world have been inspired to pick up a brush and follow along to the smooth voice of the man with an iconic perm. Now, in Muncie, Indiana, people can partake in the “Bob Ross Experience,” an interactive exhibition taking place at the Lucius L. Ball house (part of the Minnetrista museum and gardens), where Ross filmed the show between 1983 and 1988. As part of the Experience, six of the 26 Ross paintings held in the Minnetrista collection are on view, there is an area devoted to Ross memorabilia, you can dawn one of Ross’s painting shirts, and visitors can pose with one of Ross’s easels. However, the pièce de résistance, for any Ross enthusiast, is in a corner of the recreated studio where a one of Ross’s paintings sits, as if the artist just wrapped up his work and stepped out for a minute. The Bob Ross Experience also offers workshops where you can paint along with Ross and a certified Ross instructor to create your own masterpiece. During his career, Ross painted more than 30,000 works, three versions of each painting, although, they can be difficult to track down today despite being so prolific.

Bob Ross paints a painting Art World Roundup
Still from ‘Bob Ross: Beauty is Everywhere’ on Netflix.


The artist behind the lighting bolt

“The lightning bolt represents the power of women and is a warning to the government,” Ola Jasionowska told Artnet News of the red lightning bolt design she created that has become the symbol of Poland’s feminist movement. Jasionowska is an artist, illustrator, and designer working as an art director at Warsaw City Hall who isn’t a stranger to working with posters. Since protests kicked off in the Polish capital on October 22nd, Jasionowska’s emblem has been used by protesters in various countries, it’s been translated into tattoos and face masks, and been drawn onto faces as teardrops. The protests are in response to a ruling by the Polish Constitutional Tribunal that would ban abortions in even the most extreme circumstances. The ruling sparked protests, the likes of which the country hasn’t seen since the 1989 fall of the Soviet Union, with thousands in other countries having turned out to protest in solidarity. Artnet News’ full interview with the artist can be read here.

Silhouette of woman with red lightning bolt reading "Strajk Kobiet" by Ola Jasionowska Art world roundup
Ola Jasionowska’s first poster that became a logotype for Ogólnopolski Strajk Kobiet (Polish Women on Strike), 2016. Courtesy Ola Jasionowska via Artnet News.


Joan Mitchell Foundation names 2020 Painters and Sculptors Grants

25 artists have been selected for the 2020 Painters and Sculptors Grants distributed through the Joan Mitchell Foundation. Each of the artists will received a $25,000 unrestricted grant, eligibility to apply for residencies with the Joan Mitchell Center, and access to art professionals for “consultations on career development and financial management.” This year’s cohort includes: Zarouhie Abdalian; Natalie Ball; Rina Banerjee; Bahar Behbahani; Sarah Cain; Luke Luokun Cheng; Jesse Chun; Gabriel Dawe; Joey Fauerso; Colette Fu; Reggie Burrows Hodges; Linda Infante Lyons; Kahlil Robert Irving; Tomashi Jackson; Caroline Kent; Fred H. C. Liang; Melissa Melero-Moose; Julio César Morales; Demetrius Oliver; Diego Rodriguez-Warner; Arvie Smith; Edra Soto; Cory Kamehanaokalā Holt Taum; Jordan Weber; and Didier William. This is the 27th year the foundation has offered the grants which seek to “support and nurture the lives and careers of working artists,” according to Christa Blatchford, executive director of the John Mitchell Foundation.


David Alan Harvey receives one-year suspension from Magnum

Photography cooperative, Magnum, has suspended David Alan Harvey, an American photojournalist, for a year following an investigation into allegations of harassment made against him. The allegations were brought to Magnum in August of this year and Harvey was temporarily suspended while the agency investigated the claim. “After a thorough investigation carried out by an independent investigator, Magnum’s board, with the assistance of outside legal counsel, concluded that the behavior represented a breach of its code of conduct and bylaws,” read the statement in part. “A year-long suspension was found to be the appropriate sanction for Mr. Harvey’s breach of the bylaws and the code of conduct that all members adopted in 2018. […] Mr Harvey has been asked to engage willingly in sensitivity and anti-harassment training among other requirements.” The complaint was filed against Harvey just days after a series of his photographs sparked controversy for what some believe to be the exploitations of underage girls. The series, called “THAILAND. Bangkok Prostitutes” was a 1980s series of photographs by Harvey documenting the Thai sex work industry. The images have now been removed from Magnum’s archives but Harvey’s suspension is not related to the series of photographs.