Saturday, 28 February 2015

New short Brice Marden film of the artist in his studio..

'From his sprawling studio space and the large moss garden outside his home, artist Brice Marden discusses his approach to abstraction and the ways paintings can serve as vehicles to take viewers to another time and place.' See the Brice Marden short film here.


Monday, 16 February 2015

Carole Pearson and Guy Bigland at Salisbury Arts Centre

By the Rules and exhibition of work by Carole Pearson and Guy Bigland  at Salisbury Art Centre 26 February – 29 March 2015
An exhibition of paintings and sculpture sparked by creative rules.
Carole Pearson is drawn to industrial materials which she considers playfully and with a lightness of touch.

Guy Bigland’s Solution Paintings are generated from set criteria which convert the numbers in a Sudoko puzzle into instructions for making paintings.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

Seven from the Seventies at Flowers

Seven from the Seventies Flowers Gallery 16th January - 21st February

This exhibition brings together the work of seven influential abstract painters from the decade, featuring Colin Cina, Bernard Cohen, Noel Forster, Derek Hirst,
Michael Kidner, Jack Smith and Richard Smith.

Each demonstrates a reductive and disciplined articulation of the sensations of light, form, sound, colour and space. Their ordered, procedural and systematic approach to painting opened up new possibilities for future formal experimentation within abstraction.
Michael Kidner Column (no.2) in Front of its own Image, 1970 (c) Michael Kidner Art Ltd., Courtesy of Flowers Gallery
Michael Kidner’s rigorous intellectual approach to colour and form also resonates emotionally: ‘Unless you read a painting as a feeling,’ he has said, ‘then you don’t get anything at all’. Column No.2 In Front of Its Own Image, 1972-3 systematically records the grid or lattice formed by the movement of a three dimensional object in space, itself a solid representation of the intersection of two wavy lines. Exploring the complex effects achieved by the arrangement of simple elements according to a set of self-imposed rules, he generated “visual metaphors for the opposing manifestations of order and disorder in nature.” (Irving Sandler -Michael Kidner, Flowers Gallery, 2007).
Colin Cina, MH39, 1973  (c) Colin Cina, Courtesy of Flowers Gallery
Colin Cina’s MH series has been described as the artist’s “homage to the rectangle” (William Feaver - Art International,1972). Finding a sense of freedom within its formal confines, his lyrical coloured panels are rhythmically orchestrated by vertical lines and chevrons, the relational aspect of which set Cina’s work apart from much Colour Field painting of the time. Like so many younger artists of that epoch in London, most of my paintings then were defiantly big, chromatic works, in loose kinship with those of the New York school of that period - broad and tall and deliberately ‘anonymous’ with respect to paint-handling. New York was then still in thrall to Clement Greenberg’s somewhat uncompromising pronouncements on how a poetic but very new abstract art could be achieved. London’s ‘hard-edge’ painting of that decade was less reverent about the Greenberg approach: you might say, it was more eclectic, more rooted in pioneer Modernist European ideas. – Colin Cina
Colin Cina photo courtesy of R Demarco 1968

With prominent roles in British art schools as well as international professorships, their ideas impacted upon a generation of artists. Colin Cina, and Michael Kidner were tutors of mine when I was at Chelsea but unlike John Carter, a contemporary constructivist and fellow tutor, they were not set on imposing their approach. They were well informed artists with a real sense of the place and influence of abstraction in the UK. They encouraged open enquiry and if anything I remember them being almost reticent to introduce students to their own paintings. However I recall with affection my only Colin Cina studio visit where he shared with excitement the latest evolution in his work. Colin's delight was because he had broken the picture plane with shadows. This nuance of painting, this small adjustment was where our discussions were focussed, seeing the small personal and formal boundaries being tested.

Friday, 9 January 2015

Dragomir Mišina at the Pound

Dragomir Mišina's solo show 'At First Glance' at The Pound Corsham  Fri, 9 Jan 2015 - Sun, 22 Feb 2015

The work has been carefully selected and curated by me and Fiona Cassidy, taken from five different series dating from 2011 to present. During this process we have considered the unusual gallery layout, positioning paintings according to view point, and the relationship which they form when viewed from the distance. Moving closer to a painting, focus shifts to the complex surface of expressive mark making, carefully edited with use of layers, repeated several times. That is where the idea for the title comes from. First impression, from the distance, when viewing the work is different from the impression when observing a painting close up. Each visit to the same painting will reveal something new to the previous time.

This exhibition invites the viewer to look around at the diverse painting techniques, discovering contradictions and connections.

Mickey Mouse was here

Mickey Mouse was here

Last Supper

Monday, 5 January 2015

Adventures of the Black Square Abstract Art and Society 1915–2015

Peter Halley Auto Zone 1992
Following on from the Whitechapel catalogue post it is the Whitechapel again but this time with Iwona Blazwick's curated exhibition that is opening on 15 January, this epic show takes Kazimir Malevich’s radical painting of a black square – first shown in Russia 100 years ago – as the emblem of a new art and a new society. The exhibition features over 100 artists who took up its legacy, from Buenos Aires to Tehran, London to Berlin, New York to Tel Aviv. Their paintings, photographs and sculptures symbolise Modernism’s utopian aspirations and breakdowns.

Presented chronologically the show follows four themes:
‘Utopia’ is expressed through Malevich’s black square, the progenitor of new aesthetic and political horizons, seized by artists fromVladimir Tatlin to Hélio Oiticica.
‘Architectonics’ presents floating geometries that propose new social spaces as imagined by Lyubov Popova or Piet Mondrian and Liam Gillick.
‘Communication’ spreads the message to the masses in manifestos and avant-garde graphics.The ‘Everyday’ embeds routines and objects in the aesthetics of progress as observed in a textile by Sophie Taeuber-Arp or the abstract motifs painted on Peruvian lorries captured by Armando Andrade Tudela. Middle Eastern artists such as Nazgol Ansarinia link Modernism with Arabic and Persian decorative arts; while Western artists such as Lewis Baltz, Peter Halley or Jenny Holzercritique economic and political abstraction.Adventures of the Black Square explores how abstract art has travelled worldwide, permeating our life and times.

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

New American Painting catalogue 1959

I recently went to supper with friends who were clearing out a number of items. After the meal they asked me to take a look and among the variety of prints, paintings and books was this catalogue produced by the Arts Council in 1959 for the exhibition at The Whitechapel Art Gallery in London in association with MOMA New York. I knew of the exhibition but I had never seen the catalogue before. The artists in the exhibition include Baziotes, Brooks, Francis, Gorky,Gottlieb, Guston, Hartigan, Kline, de Kooning, Motherwell, Newman, Pollock, Rothko, Stamos, Still, Tomlin and Tworkov. 

I have scanned it an uploaded it asa PDF here for you to read New American Painting Catalogue 1959

Friday, 5 December 2014

Earliest evidence of abstract thought?

Photo credit Josephine Joordens

Nature magazine has published these images of this engraved shell which is from a freshwater mussel species and was collected in the 1890s by the Dutch palaeontologist Eugène Dubois, at a site in eastern Java called Trinil. There, Dubois discovered the first Homo erectus fossil — a skullcap — and other ancient human bones. He also brought home dozens of shells excavated from the site. They were examined in the 1930s and then packed away into a box in a museum in Leiden, the Netherlands.
The engraving might have stayed undiscovered, were it not for Josephine Joordens, a biologist at Leiden University. 
By 40,000 years ago, and probably much earlier, anatomically modern humans — Homo sapiens — were painting on cave walls in places as far apart as Europe2 and Indonesia3. Simpler ochre engravings found in South Africa date to 100,000 years ago4. Earlier this year, researchers reported a 'hashtag' engraving in a Gibraltar cave once inhabited by Neanderthals5. That was the first evidence for drawing in any extinct species.
But until the discovery of the shell engraving, nothing approximating art has been ascribed to Homo erectus. The species emerged in Africa about 2 million years ago and trekked as far as the Indonesian island of Java, before going extinct around 140,000 years ago. Most palaeoanthropologists consider the species to be the direct ancestor of both humans and Neanderthals.

Henk Caspers/Naturalis
The shell, from a freshwater mussel, shows a hole made by a member of Homo erectus.

Monday, 24 November 2014

Annabel Emson at Marian Cramer

Annabel Emson at Marian Cramer, Amsterdam
29th November - 31 January
"This selection of paintings is inspired by the idea of light in history. Some of the works are tonal renditions of old master paintings selected for their specific qualities of light. They include works by Turner, Rubens and Constable. Other paintings were taken from memories of different types of light, for example Daylight or Orange Night in the Reeds. In this series of works Emson found that removing colour from paintings and limiting the palette to black and white helped emphasize the tonal qualities of light in her work."

Visiting the Spirit of Barnaby Jones

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Review of artists from Turps Banana correspondance course exhibition earlier this year in a-n magazine..

5-11 September 2014: An exhibition of works by 19 painters enrolled on the 2014 Turps Correspondence Course by Charley Peters in a-n magazine.

This is a review of Correspond, a group show by students on the Turps Correspondence Course. Due to the shifting environment of higher education it feels relevant to also consider the positioning of the exhibition as an alternative to university based arts education. In recent years the landscape of undergraduate and postgraduate experience has been vastly remodelled; studio space and individual contact time with academic staff in many institutions has depleted as tuition fees and cohort sizes have been dramatically raised. New models of education and professional development for artists are necessarily but too slowly emerging outside of the university model to provide a non-institutional space for creativity. The Turps Correspondence Course, and its studio-based equivalent, the Turps Art School, was founded in response to the growing concern for the future of painting tuition in the shifting climate of Higher Education. Conceived by the Editors of Turps Painting Magazine to be an artist led painting school, the Turps Correspondence Course offers painters the opportunity to develop their practice through a series of quarterly written appraisals from a dedicated mentor in response to work submitted online.
The Correspondence Course still follows, in part, a traditional art school model: a dedicated director of studies, support from practising artists, and critical feedback on presented work, albeit in a virtual capacity. It lacks the benefit of a physically defined peer network, but adds focus instead to in-depth individual development exclusive of the rest of the course cohort. One of the most significant way in which the Turps Correspondence Course challenges conventional art education is its lack of reliance on group teaching methods such as the ‘crit’, a type of formative assessment where student-artists physically present their work to gain critical responses from peers and tutors. The crit’s perceived strengths lie in the development of reflective practices, in offering students the experience of presenting to an audience, and contributing to peer learning.But there are also problems with such institutional practices, in which students are expected to ‘perform’, present work using an exclusive, learned academic language, and locate themselves unquestioningly at the bottom of a hierarchy of knowledge led by teaching staff. In his refreshingly honest ‘survival guide’ for students and tutors, Why Art Cannot be Taught (2001), James Elkins describes crits as, ‘like seductions, full of emotional outbursts’. He analyses confrontational critique dialogue and proposes that there can be a problem in the translation of the spoken language between a tutor and student, stating that ‘critiques are perilously close to total nonsense’. Considering the significance placed on physical exchanges such as the crit in art education there has been comparatively little research into developing alternative strategies. It is timely that The Turps Correspondence Course appears to be taking important steps towards establishing a progressive learning environment outside of some of the more problematic institutional conventions.
Correspond took place in the Turps Art School studio building in South East London, showing the work of 19 painters at the end of a year of their engagement with Turps Correspondence Course. The exhibition hang felt very conventional – but this was ultimately one of its strengths; presenting itself as a show purely about the paintings themselves, and not of their curation or the words of contextual theory surrounding them. The artists were each represented by a modest number of selected works that illustrated both the breadth of practice on the programme and the general level of competence, which on the whole provided strong competition for many other postgraduate painting shows.
Among the highlights for me were the works that appeared to articulate what painting, as an active, interrogatory discipline, offers to the process of a work’s development. Miranda Boulton uses graphite lines and washes of oil paint to navigate the space of the painting support. The resultant works express the tension between an image permanently in flux and one in a state of final resolution, with the decision making processes equally exposed and hidden in layers of suspended marks. The delicate formalism of Susan Preston’s work is generated through the subtle erasing and scraping of layers of paint, bringing separate elements of the composition into balance. Whereas Boulton’s work expresses openly the dynamism of its own making, Preston’s paintings have a much more static, poetic outcome. Negotiating the matter of balance in a more investigative way to Preston, Roisin Fogarty incorporates both rational and intuitive methods of working. She creates strict compositional structures on which to explore colour, tone, line and edge, all as seemingly flexible considerations despite the initial systems in place. Resolved well as individual pieces, Fogarty’s work nevertheless suggests a larger interrogation of the formal qualities of painting.
Painting more figuratively but still with a consideration of its material properties, Jules Clarke uses the fluidity of paint to describe the movement of one frame in a film to another, creating dreamlike images that appear to be played out in slow motion. Possessing an otherworldly quality, the image surface – showing the recreation of scenes taken from film or television – is gently disturbed by light daubs of paint. The world Clark portrays feels nostalgic, not just for the subject matter of home movies, Hollywood films and music videos, but because her disrupted images recall a time recently passed of pre-pixel analogue television snow. These are sombre images suggesting the fragility of memory and the ability of paint to render an ambiguous state of being, also present in Paula MacArthur’s large scale images of gem stones built up through layers of lightly tinted turps and intense colour. Made from a succession of wet, energetic glazes her paintings hold together as impressive compositions in their entirety, with areas of internal fragmentation suggestive of pure abstraction. The runs of colour, bleeding edges and vigorous drops of paint in MacArthur’s paintings are left on show, alluding to her working methods and succeeding in establishing a dynamic interplay between the organic and the man made, the instinctive and the premeditated.
Much of the work shown in Correspond focused on the pictorial; the sculptural, painted books of Natasha Morland and Katie Shipton’s physical manipulation of paint providing the only expanded negotiations of the discipline. In the context of other graduate art shows this was an initially surprising, but also largely pleasing focus on making, rather than redefining, painting.  If the works shown in Correspond are representative of what the Turps Correspondence Course can produce then it appears to be a serious alternative to an institutional experience at a time where, to quote its founders, “there is growing disquiet about the quality of painting tuition”. Rather than proposing a radical rethink of what painting could be, Correspond offered a serious contemplation of its merits and is a testament to why the tuition of painting – stripped back to its most rudimentary components of constructive feedback, time to reflect and the opportunity to disseminate the work made – should be back on the agenda of all our art schools.