from the negative space (ma – 間)

This is still not a Happy New Yea email, and I don´t think that this year I will write a Happy New Yea newsletter. I even noticed that my signature for 2021 says NO 21. So let this be a Happy B-Day to me newsletter! I am glad that I am still here no matter how bleak the future could be. And yes, this is an attempt of communication.

the works

January started promising with two paintings finished, both of which I enjoyed doing so much. I even had two weeks to spend with my kids during their summer break.

Two Cranes on a Snow Covered Pine Tree after Hokusai is a gift for two special friends. And Ghibli is a commission that brought new friends into my life.

February was the dying month, March was the recovering- from- dying month, and in April I started to work again. The plan was to do 9 paintings until July and to start my Bijin-ga series. I hardly had energy to finish 3.

I made Che Bella Vista Panoramica diorama based on Endi Poskovic´s Sunny Day over the Bay in Orange and Blue with Cadmium Red print in April, for the benefit of the Foundation “Center Duga Art”; Sweet Sixteen bijin-ga in May, a commissioned birthday gift portrait ordered by my friend for his wife – who is also my friend, friend :). In June I finished Who´s That Girl bijin-ga, the only one that is available from this series, so drop me a line if you are interested in buying it.

Additionally, my friend Selma started a small startup Selma Superbag Milano, Italy, the designer’s bags for women and she produced vinyl tote bag with Debra and Olga motif so check it out.

the break project

I was both physically and mentally drained. I realized that I was suffering from heavy burnout, for I  had two viral infections in 6 months, shingles and Covid, and I just kept on working. So I gave myself 3 months of the summer break, not working, just reading, and making some changes here and there, no brainer.

The sound system in my apartment was a mess and we decided to remove the PC from the bedroom (and apartment). We don´t find working at home or from home very rewarding. My friend from Slovenia, DR, was coming over so I ordered through him Z10 Pro by Zidoo, small, sturdy android media player that I have decided to turn into media center. Put some 4Tb HDD in the bay, 2Tb externally for backup and there you go. This machine is able to crunch all video and audio codecs so far. If you knew me, you would now that I am fond of media players and media centers. I had every build from WDC and I still have a few. As for the sound I had many components – Technics stereo, Denon AVR, Panasonic 2.1 sound bar, a small home HiFi, and 4 3-driver speakers (floorstand), 6 2-driver speakers (bookshelf) and one central and woofer. All I needed was the time to set up everything and now I had it. So in my atelier I placed the sound bar, small – easy to use, strong enough to fill it with the sound. In the kids’ room I left a small HiFi because it has the CD player. Denon AVR is also capable to crunch DTSX and Atmos and it is capable of passing through 4k HDR. It could be set up in 5.1.2 speaker arrangement but I wasn´t ready to place any ceiling speakers, so I went with 5.1 Zone 1 and 2.0 Zone 2 (bedroom). I arranged and set it up in a way that I can both enjoy audio listening and movies in my living room with the combination of Magnat music speakers as a front, and Canton surround 3.1 set. The total is over 500W of sound in living room, and it really shines out in movies, and when I listen to music in flat multichannel mode it hits sweet spot between 35% to 55% power level.

The stereo speakers for bedroom are another story. They were part of an old Unitra stereo that my father-in-law had. He passed away before I had a chance to meet him and my wife describes him as a person who liked to play Pink Floyd or Enigma LP and turn the stereo up. Unfortunately the stereo hasn´t been maintained and two transistors and 3 resistors were dead.  Unitra SP3015 amp was Polish amp built with Tesla transistors (Czechoslovakia) and it was common amp in my country introduced in mid 80ies, almost every household would have one. I burnt two Unitra amps in 10 years, but I was running them loud. It is distributed by Ei Radio Akustika, Niš (Yugoslavia, now Serbia) and it came with two Ei 3-driver speakers. I decided to add a little bit deeper bass by adding bass reflex tubes to those speakers and they went into bedroom, 160W total, enough to fill it up with the sound. Now we can enjoy the stereo music in our bedroom while drinking coffee and reading books.

As a bonus, I wanted to buy a new turntable, but while having a coffee with Damir A. who helped me and instructed me on few things that I considered in my set up, he said that he had an old Sharp RP-101 turntable that he would gladly give to me.  I said yes, but I needed pre-amp for AVR. So I restored Unitra to use it as pre-amp. It took time to find transistors but once restored it fitted the system perfectly. It is really amazing to hear Pink Floyd´s the Dark Side of the Moon or Enigma´s MCMXC a.D. or Jean-Michel Jarre´s Oxygene as old LP, CD and 5.1 mix. In this set up I have achieved building a personal time machine, as playing LPs teleports you back to time when the life was simpler.

the recovery

Luckily, we  went to the sea side this year, to the island Vis in Adriatic sea, for 17 days, where I also did nothing, just read 6 books, went to Open cinema for movies with my son and had the most beautiful morning coffees with my wife. This summer was marked by climate change- we experienced 3 heat waves, starting early in the summer. Usually we have one every few years and maybe the second in autumn causing long and beautiful Indian summers. Also, the Adriatic Sea is now infested with the bearded fire worms- ugly, nasty, red worms and rude foreigners from the States and GB who like to dispose their feces from Yachts in port or near the city beach.

I felt physically recovered but mentally I felt like a ticking bomb. I was just living in fear of a new lockdown, of a new online school year (and it is partially happening) and again I was overly exposed to decay of (my) country and people. This time the decay is also at the international level. One of the heaviest feelings that I have is this hole inside me, like something has been erased permanently from my mind. The best way to describe this feeling is to make an analogy. We went to the summer house of my wife´s family and next to it there was another nice summer house with small pool that used to belong to their cousins. Meanwhile they sold the house and the land and these new owners cleared everything out, leaving the ground for their new house. Everything erased, just new vacant space, and you cannot even tell there was a house.

Left from the birch was another house, now erased.

I also noticed that some teenage spunk in me has dried out. Is 40ies new 60ies?

All I want is to read books and listen to the records. And I also ease up on drinking. A very strange behavior for the shogun of the dark.

Apart from the visit from Slovenia, my friend Srđan Tunić came to pay me a visit, bearing A GIFT. An art historian and a curator by profession, who, in the last two years developed as a fantastic model maker and street artist. He built setting from Porco Rosso for me, a Marco´s hideout. Amazing details and inscription dedicated just to me. Thank you so much.

the happy birthday song

By the 1st of September I started working at atelier, more and more preparing for the new series. I am already starting to work on my 3 new paintings. My inner tension eased a bit. One thing I noticed is that many people died in this year, and half of them died not from Corona, but rather from common cause like cancer, strokes and such and their funeral and grieving went unnoticed. Therefore I would like to hear from you, how you doin´, are you still with us, and if you are still here I just want to say “Happy birthday to you!”.

My wife and I for our birthday (she was  born on 21st and I was born on 26th of September) bought ourselves two old LPs –  Eurhythmics’ Revenge and Jean-Michel Jarre´s Magnetic Fields, two tickets to 80ies.

It’s been a year and a half since I have been attempting to send New Year’s gifts.  Now all packages are subjected to customs, and there is no more snail mail for any kind of packages, so sending a simple book cost 3 times more that the price of the book.  I will try to figure something out with the private express mail companies but I am not promising anything.

recommendations

I would like to recommend you two anime:

On-Gaku: Our Sound – by Kenji Iwaisawa, a low budget one man army project, with great story; and Night Is Short, Walk On Girl by Masaaki Yuasa that I finally had a chance to see, and it reminds me so much of Mind Game that I really liked.

I just found out that Depeche Mode published their albums from Speak & Spell (1981) to Sounds of the Universe (2009) in 5.1 mix too – very, very interesting to listen if you like Depeche Mode.

I would recommend reading Haruki Murakami´s Underground, to me now his second best book.  For the end of this newsletter I will post two excerpts from the book:

It’s a question of morals. At the station, you get a very clear picture of people at their most negative, their downsides. For instance, if we’re sweeping up the station with a dustpan and brush, just when we’ve finished, someone will flick a cigarette butt or a piece of litter right on the spot where we’ve cleaned. There are too many self-assertive people out there.

from the chapter “I’m not a sarin victim, I’m a survivor”, Toshiaki Toyoda (52)

Since the war ended, Japan’s economy has grown rapidly to the point where we’ve lost any sense of crisis and material things are all that matters. The idea that it’s wrong to harm others has gradually disappeared. It’s been said before, I know, but this really brought it home to me. What happens if you raise a child with that mentality? Is there any excuse for this kind of thing?

from chapter “I felt like I was watching a program on TV”, Mitsuo Arima (41)

All the best to you and yours,

peace, love, udon & sake

muha

Live Long and Prosper
Sweet Sixteen
Two Cranes on a Snow Covered Pine Tree after Hokusai
Who´s That Girl
Ghibli
Che Bella Vista Panoramica
Selma Super Bag
Morning view from Bistro Frutarija, Vis, Croatia
Srđan Tunić´s Marco´s hideout
Happy b-day!