Daily updates from the first annual AFI DALLAS International Film Festival presented by Target, founding sponsor Victory Park, March 22 to April 1, 2007

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Extraordinary Art of the Transient Canvas

Two films show that brushes and easels aren't required for art

There are many documentaries about artists, but few about the canvas. Two documentaries in this film festival do exactly that. They focus on the unique choices and sublime passions of artists who go beyond the traditional flat cloth.

The first is Michael Ciancio's ANATOMY OF A CANVAS - a series of interviews with the artists and performers of the stunning Dallas-based Body Art Ball.

The second is Pablo Aravena's NEXT: A PRIMER ON URBAN PAINTING which follows five major cities and the heroes of the graffiti art subculture.

Timed just under an hour, Anatomy of a Canvas follows the artists and performers in Candy Smith's incendiary show. The artists use the canvas of the human body and the models (dancers, acrobats, singers, etc) become living art as they perform in full body paint.

Next captures the underground art culture that started in America's urban streets and evolved into a global phenomenon. Focusing on specific cities around the world, the film shows interviews with graffiti artists, scholars, critics, and other members of this socio-political movement.

Whatever assumptions one may make about these unconventional art forms, the documentaries expertly break stereotypes and explore the culture of art in all its forms. Each interview and clip exposes the motivation of these artists, and in doing so, the focus is lifted off the taboos of the naked body or the ethics of street art and put on the passion for transient, experimental design.

Both films enlighten us that the artist's canvas can be a city wall or a living form and what always lies just under the paint is passion, commitment, and beauty.

By Justina Walford, Staff Writer