Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Roger Dean Talks 'Avatar' at Retrospective

A special thank you to author Cathy Rose A. Garcia for allowing me to reprint this wonderful article

``Osibisa'' is the original work by British cover artist Roger Dean, which was also used for the cover of Osibisa's 1971 self-titled album.  Courtesy of Roger Dean

By Cathy Rose A. Garcia
Staff Reporter

One look at the floating islands in British artist Roger Dean's landscapes and the first thing that comes to mind is ``Avatar.''

But Dean was creating these lush, otherworldly landscapes in the early 1970s, decades before director James Cameron even started work on the billion-dollar-blockbuster. Days after the film came out the Internet was abuzz as fans discussed the striking similarities between Dean's fantasy world and Cameron's Pandora planet.

Dean, who was in Seoul last week for the opening of his retrospective ``Dragon's Dream'' at the Daelim Contemporary Art Museum, Tongui-dong, Jongno, remained tight-lipped whether he will pursue legal action against Cameron.

``The only thing I will say is I am extremely grateful to these millions of people online who have recognized the similarities and talked about my works. It's a great honor that so many people recognized it. I didn't know there were that many people who would remember my work,'' he said, during a press conference at the museum.

Dean apologized for not being able to talk about the matter, but hinted of future developments, saying: ``I'm sorry I can't say much about it, but watch this space.''

``Dragon's Dream'' is the largest retrospective of Dean's works, which include original paintings; original album covers for the rock bands Yes, Uriah Heap, Gun and Asia; and design logos.

``This is exciting for me because this is the biggest exhibition of my work that I have ever seen. It is wonderful that we have my works all in one place. Some of the pictures have never been exhibited before, and some have never been shown since the 1970s,'' he said.

Dean's career in cover art started in 1968. After designing Ronnie Scott's jazz club in London, record label executives were impressed and asked him to do art cover for then a new band named Gun's album ``Race with the Devil."

``It was an intriguing thing for me. I never thought to do cover art. ... They continued to ask me to do jazz albums with very austere graphic designs. At that time I wanted to go and do more rock 'n' roll. So with my portfolio, I went around London, knocking on doors and asking for work,'' he said.

In 1971, Dean did his first covers for Osibisa (``Osibisa'') and Yes (``Fragile''), which attracted a lot of attention and made him a sought-after cover artist.

His album cover art was distinguished by a dreamy, surrealistic quality that matched progressive rock music. Dean created a world of floating rock islands with pine trees and flying dragons that most people would label as ``fantasy,'' but he disagrees.

``I never thought of it as fantasy. Essentially, I paint landscapes. Most are real, like the trees, but I add something that is not real like waterfalls with no source of water or rocks that float. But these are all inspired by places I've seen,'' he said. For instance, some of his landscapes with rock formations were inspired by American deserts.

Some of Dean's paintings are now worth as much as $2.5 million, but he takes more pleasure in the fact that his album covers have reached millions of people around the world. ``I definitely feel happiest when millions buy the albums. ... Basically, I only paint three or four paintings a year and if I sell one, it is a great honor for me,'' he said.

Rock music by Yes, Uriah Heap and Asia are played at the museum to get viewers into the right mood while looking at Dean's works.

Interestingly enough, the silvery-haired artist is not influenced by the music of the bands whose covers he makes. ``I talk to the band about the ideas they want to convey through their music. ... (But) I'm not reinterpreting their music. I listen to what they're saying about their music,'' he said.

While he loves different genres of music, Dean doesn't listen to music when working on his paintings and designs. ``When I listen to music, it's for the mood, but not for the creativity,'' he said.

Dean is also a designer, who has worked on logos and stage design and architecture. One of his most famous logos is for the video game Tetris, which has been played by millions of people around the world.

The ``Dragon's Dream'' exhibition runs through June 6. Tickets are 5,000 won for adults and 3,000 won for students. Visit http://www.daelimmuseum.org/.

SOURCE:  http://www.koreatimes.co.kr

This Date In Music History-March 30


Rolf Harris (1930) (1963 US #3 single "Tie Me Kangaroo Down, Sport")

Graeme Edge - Moody Blues (1942)

Ronnie Rice - New Colony 6 (1944)

Eric Clapton (1945)

Jim Dandy - Black Oak Arkansas (1948)

Dave Ball - Procol Harum (1950)

Re Styles - Tubes (1950)

MC Hammer (1962)

Tracy Chapman (1964)

Celine Dion (1968)

Mark McClelland - Snow Patrol (1976)

Norah Jones (1979)

They Are Missed:

Born on this day in 1955, Randy VanWarmer, singer/songwriter, (1979 US #4 single "Just When I Needed You Most"). He died of leukaemia on January 12, 2004.

Timi Yuro, died from throat cancer in 2004 (age 62). Was just 18 years old when she reached #4 on the US charts in 1961 with "Hurt."

Born today in 1913, Frankie Laine, popular singer. He died on February 6, 2007

Born on this day in 1973, Adam Goldstein, DJ AM. Worked with Crazy Town, Blink 182, Madonna and Will Smith. Died on Aug 28, 2009 of an accidental drug overdose.


In 1957,  Buddy Knox became the first artist in the Rock 'n' Roll era to write his own number one hit when "Party Doll" topped the US singles chart. Knox would go on to score four more US Top 40 hits between 1957 and 1961.

The Chiffons started a four week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1963 with "He’s So Fine." In 1971 George Harrison was taken to court accused of copying the song on his 1970 "My Sweet Lord" and ordered to pay $587,000 to the writers.

16 year-old Lesley Gore recorded her breakthrough hit, "It's My Party" in 1963. The song produced by Quincy Jones went on to be a US #1.

Lesley Gore first appears on TV in 1963, on ABC's "American Bandstand."

Paris police arrested 85 rioters at a Rolling Stones concert there in 1966.

Lip-sync mishap in 1967 - Jimi Hendrix was appearing on Top of the Pops, but instead of playing the "Purple Haze" tape, a studio tech rolled Alan Price’s "Simon Smith And His Amazing Dancing Bear." "I don’t know the words to that one," Hendrix calmly states.

Also in 1967, the photo session took place at Chelsea Manor studios in London with Michael Cooper for the cover of The Beatles 'Sgt Pepper's' album. A release was needed from all the living persons represented on the cover. Mae West initially declines but is later won over by a personal request from the group. After the shoot The Beatles resumed work at Abbey Road studios on ‘With a Little Help From My Friends’ adding guitars, bass, tambourine, and backing vocals. The session began at 11:00 pm and ends at 7:30 am.

The Yardbirds performed and recorded "Live Yardbirds" at the Anderson Theater in 1968.

John Denver went to #1 on the US singles chart in 1974 with "Sunshine On My Shoulders," the singers first of four US #1's. Denver was killed in a plane crash on October 12, 1997.

The Sex Pistols played their first show in 1976 at The 100 club, London and they began a weekly residency at the club in June.

The Eagles’ “Hotel California” hits the top of the album chart in 1977.

Paul Simonon and Topper Headon of the Clash were arrested in London in 1978 for shooting pigeons from the roof of a rehearsal hall.

Genesis released “England By The Pound” in 1980.

Phil Collins started a two week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1985 with "One More Night," his second US #1 hit.

Gloria Estefan started a two week run at #1 on the US singles chart in 1991 with "Coming Out Of The Dark."

R.E.M. started recording sessions for their 'Automatic For The People' album at Bearsville Studios, Woodstock, New York in 1992.

Pink Floyd released the album "The Division Bell" in 1994.

Rapper Scarface was at #1 on the US album chart in 1997 with ‘The Untouchable.’

In 2001, LeAnn Rimes reached an out of court settlement with her father and her former manager. The country star filed a lawsuit claiming the pair had stolen $12 million from her.

It was announced in 2006 that Courtney Love had sold a 25-percent share of her stake in Nirvana's publishing rights to Larry Mestel, of Primary Wave Music Publishing. "I needed a partner to take Kurt Cobain's songs and bring them into the future and into the next generation," says Love. " The grapevine claimed that Love made more than $50 million on the deal.

In 2007, a man was arrested by police and detained under the Mental Health Act after trying to force his way into Paul McCartney’s mansion, screaming: “I must get to him.” The middle-aged man burst through security patrols into McCartney’s isolated Sussex estate; guards who feared an assassination attempt were scrambled to intercept him as he sped towards the front door. He was finally halted by trees and a fence just yards from Sir Paul’s six-bedroom home at Peasmarsh.

Guitars signed by Bruce Springsteen, the Who's Pete Townshend and Sting were up for bid at the third annual Musicians On Call Benefit Concert and Auction in New York in 2007. The event helped support the organization's program of entertaining hospital patients through live and recorded music.