Sunday, 31 October 2010

The German abstract painter Ralph Gelbert at Hicks Gallery, London

The German abstract painter Ralph Gelbert has his first one man show in the UK until 14th November 2010.

Fire Island, (C) Raplh Gelbert

The Hicks Gallery, which does'nt have many abstract painters on its books, has done well in choosing Gelbert to add to its artists. His work has an 'old school' vitality and energy, often lacking in contemporary abstraction.

According to the German Embassy press release: 'It is not always necessary to rely on recognizable and familiar objects to explore a new  world or a different reality.  For several centuries, two major culture-building factors were responsible for the creation of a subjective reality distanced from the real  and ordinary world, and they are still valid today: religion and art, which often and deliberately interacted in a fruitful way.  Ralph Gelbert’s paintings, especially the larger formats, offer the chance to discover such imaginary worlds, instantaneously spellbinding the viewer.'

In my thinking abstraction is 'of itself' and does'nt need to send you into a 'different relaity', at its best it should heighten our experience of this reality and Ralph Gelbert goes some way in achieving this..

Venue: Hicks Gallery, 2 Leopold Road, Wimbledon, SW19 7BD Tel: 020 8944 7171

Opening Hours: Thursday - Saturday: 10:00am - 6:00pm,  Sunday: 1:30pm - 5:00pm

Thursday, 28 October 2010

Neil Fujita Graphic Designer 1921 - 2010

One of Neil Fujita's most famous designs was his cover for Mario Puzo's 'The Godfather' but he was inspired by abstract painting for many of his other designs. To quote The Telegraph's obit 

"Fujita had trained as an artist and incorporated in his covers work by Abstract Expressionist painters and leading photographers, moving the label away from its established illustrative style to link Columbia's progressive jazz artists with modern visual art. His designs perfectly complemented the rhythms and liveliness of the music. "Jazz called for abstraction, a certain kind of stylisation, using modern painters," Fujita explained.

Accordingly, on the celebrated Dave Brubeck album Time Out;Mingus Ah Um ;(featuring the Mingus), Fujita employed his own brightly coloured geometric abstractions to suggest an upbeat feel, while Round About Midnight, another of the memorable jazz covers of the era, showed a pensive Miles Davis cradling his trumpet while bathed in moody red light."

Wednesday, 27 October 2010

Deptford Painters at The Arch

Anthony Daley, Arnold Dobbs, Paul Marks, Laurence Noga, Victoria Scott are exhibiting at The Arch Gallery from 29th October - 18th December. The PV is this Friday at 6pm. The Arch Gallery is run by the artist Paul Marks. Paul is constantly questioning the form, content and process of his work. There is always a dynamic shift from one body of work to the next. In 2009 he had an exhibition 'Connections without Conclusions' and making a connection with the recent post on Digital Abstraction he showed a diptych 'Transmitter and Receiver'. I wonder if he is the same Paul marks that writes for The New Scientist. You can see examples of his work here, but for now here are two of the other artists in the group. Anthony Daley above and Laurence Noga below.

Helen Frankenthaler at Jacobson

Paper is Painting at Bernard Jacobson 13th October - 13th November

Image courtesy of The Art Story

Born in New York in 1928, Helen Frankenthaler first studied with Rufino Tamayo at the Dalton School. At Bennington College, Vermont, 1945-49, she received a disciplined grounding in Cubism from Paul Feeley, though her own instincts lay closer to the linear freedom of Arshile Gorky and the color improvisations of Wassily Kandinsky's early work.

In 1950 the critic Clement Greenberg introduced her to contemporary painting. During that summer, she studied with Hans Hofmann in Provincetown, Massachusetts. In 1951 Adolph Gottlieb selected her for an important New Talent exhibition, and she had her first one person show in New York later that year.

Frankenthaler continued making art during the 1980's and '90s, through today, celebrating her eightieth birthday in 2008. She has experimented with a variety of media, including clay and steel sculpture, even designing the sets and costumes for England's Royal Ballet, but has always found the greatest success in focusing on color and light. Frankenthaler lives in Manhattan and has a summer home in Connecticut where she still enjoys the sea and sky that inspired her in her youth. 

Friday, 22 October 2010

Frank Stella at The Hood Museum

Frank Stella's series of paintings Irregular Polygons is currently being shown at The Hood Museum Dartmouth College. Soumya Gupta of The Dartmouth reviewed the exhibition and the question and answer session given by Stella.
Cocorua IV

Thursday, 21 October 2010

Static Discipline, a model?

  1. Lumping things together simplifies things.
  2. Noise is a fact of life.
  3. Digital abstraction helps with noise.
  4. Reading things at a distance adds noise.
  5. Black and white is nice and simple but what's the point?
  6. The sender is interested in sending a signal to the receiver.
  7. There is an agreement between them that the receiver will receive high and low values only.
  8. The agreement between sender and receiver means there is better noise immunity.
  9. However if you don't have a noise margin you don't know how much noise can be tolerated.
  10. Too rigid a signal criteria doesn't allow for any noise margin.
  11. You have to define 'No man's land' - The forbidden region.
  12. I am going to discipline myself to playing in this 'Playground' and that is how I am going to define my rules.
  13. Stay within the boundaries and all rules apply.
  14. It is a discipline, there is no logic to it. just do it and you will be ok.
  15. The receiver can do whatever they want when they receive a sifgnal from the Forbidden Region. Burn it, ignore it, anything. No one cares you can add any value you want.                                    We still have a problem though.
  16. There is no margin for noise. Back to the drawing board folks.
  17. So let's allow the receiver to still receive the same values, values it understands but what I do is make the sender operate under tougher standards.
  18. The sender has narrow margins but allows for noise to be included.
  19. The receiver then can never see a value in the Forbidden Region. That is the beauty of using this discipline.
  20. So in the playground there is a region that only deals with high and low values.
  21. I am only going to focus on those values in the Forbidden Region.
  22. If there is a signal in the Forbidden Space then my behaviour is underfined.
  23. I don't care, want to go there, sure go there. I don't know what is going to happen to you.
  24. We are artists right? We have disciplined ourselves to play in this playground. I tell my 9 yearold "Don't go there." 
  25. A big system wants all the parts to have the same noise margins.
  26. It is very hard to have a practical system with a small Forbidden Region.
  27. This is called a 'Static Discipline'.
  28. If inputs meet input thresholds then outputs should meet output thresholds.
  29. A Static Discipline encodes the thresholds that the systems must follow in order for all to communicate.
  30. The larger the noise margin the better you can tolerate noise.
  31. For consumer markets the products may have relatively poor noise margins.
  32. You can process the signal with logic True or False or with numbers.
  33. Combinational Logic Circuit, the output is dependant at all times on the combination of its inputs and if one of its inputs condition changes state so does the output as combinational circuits have "no memory", "timing" or "feedback loops".
  34. The Andgate will enable the receiver to receive a stable, constant, disciplined signal even if their is noise added to the signal.
This is an edited transcription from a lecture on Digital Abstraction by Anant Agarwal of MIT, The only term I have altered is engineer ( electronic) for artist, highlighted in read.  This lectutre is for budding electronic engineers learning how systems communicate different power values. It is a good signifier for me that there are substantial cross disciplinary areas to discuss and explore. You can see the whole lecture with all the graphs and numeric values here at Cosmolearning

Monday, 18 October 2010

Alex Olson: 'Geometric Abstractions' at Lisa Cooley Gallery, New York

We liked the Alex Olson show at Lisa Cooley Gallery, 34 Orchard Street, between Canal and Grand streets, New York City, which finished this weekend.
Alex Olson, A Verb, A Noun, 2010, oil on linen, 41 x 29 inches, AO061

Alex Olson’s new paintings are called 'geometric abstractions' that incorporate scribbled and scrawled text-like marks, however, they are more than just 'geometric' they are loose and subtle paintings that suggest a knowing use of mark-making like A Verb, A Noun (2010) that references Abstract Expressionism and contemprary artists work like Cy Twombly. There are little nuances here on the surface and in the size of the works which can be surprisingly small. These paintings also play around with space on the picture plane, some creating space, others using the grid. Some are also painted with mauves and bright yellows that juxtapose the overall paintings well. In Plot (2010) Olson has created an anti-painting, it almost looks like it could'nt be bothered...This makes an interesting change from so much real 'geomentric' abstraction out there.

Alex Olson, Plot, detail, 2010, oil on canvas, 18 x 14 inches, AO055

Alex Olson, Plot, detail, 2010, oil on canvas, 18 x 14 inches, AO055
 Check out Jon Pestoni's paintings at Lisa Cooley Gallery also.

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Heinz Mack and Lucio Fontana at Ben Brown

6 October – 21 December 2010 at Ben Brown Fine Arts

Heinz Mack - Dynamic Structure, 1958-1959
Synthetic resin on canvas 102 x 74 cm; (40 1/8 x 29 1/8 in.)

Heinz Mack is one of the founding member of the hugely influential ZERO movement, an artistic group which crystallised in Germany in the second part of the 1950s. The term ZERO was coined in 1957 by Mack and Otto Piene to describe their artistic endeavor, and it later came to define the International Art Movement born out of their radical gesture. The central concerns of the movement were to do with the harmonious balance between the natural possibilities of the medium itself and the artificial intervention of the artistic hand. Far from considering these two elements in opposition, ZERO strove to create a dialogue between the two, one where the aesthetics would be as pure and organic as possible, allowing for the work’s true voice to emerge, facilitated by the artist’s intervention.

The relationship between Fontana and Mack started in 1959, when Mach visited Milan and met the Italian artist, who was almost a generation older and had already been a powerful influence on the ZERO group. Lucio Fontana’s ideology of Spazialismo shared many of the concerns central to the ZERO movement, and in the years that followed the two artists developed a close bond and an ongoing artistic dialogue.

The works in this exhibition illustrate that although the artistic languages of both Mack and Fontana are profoundly individual, they also very much resonate with one another, and share a profound common core. As Mack stated: “No matter how much I have learnt from other artists, no matter how much it is also correct that everything that I discover, invent, would like to realise today, has its origin in myself, in my inmost soul. It comes from my source. If there is a latent relation to the work of other artists, I do not see a contradiction in it. I am identical with what I create. It is the whole imaginative museum I enter again and again, and then it may happen, that Egypt is closer to me than New York.” (From an unpublished manuscript, Mack Archives) 

Lucio Fontana -Concetto Spaziuale 1961 80 x 90

The bringing together of these two collaborators is beneficial to both artists. The slashes look less of a gimmick, more drawn and composed and the drawn looks less formal.

Monday, 11 October 2010

James Hugonin paintings at Ingleby Gallery, London

Another artist working up North, showing at Ingleby Gallery, London. For the past 22 years James Hugonin has made just one painting each year. From his studio in the Cheviot Hills, in the border country between England and Scotland. Hugonin is working constantly on these intense evocations of colour and light, comprised of thousands of tiny coloured marks fluctuating across the painting’s surface. 

The Ingleby Gallery is celebrating the artist’s 60th birthday by presenting a survey of his six most recent paintings, alongside two early works which first began this remarkable series over twenty years ago from 1st October to 20th November 2010.

James Hugonin, 'Untitled' (XVIII), 2009-10 (detail), oil/wax on wood, 170.8 x 152.6cm
Untitled (I), now in the collection of the Arts Council of England, was begun in 1988 and since then Hugonin has completed a total of 18 identically sized and structured paintings, all of which had the same starting point; a grid made by scoring lines with a silverpoint wire into the surface of a gessoed board. The gradual change from painting to painting is determined by the way in which the way in which the grid is filled in with strokes of colour: from the almost colourless glazes that made paintings of luminous translucency in the early years, to the increasingly bold and solid pigments that fizz across the surface of the most recent paintings.

The analogy to music is clear: each painting is a balancing act of rhythm and pace and gentle movement. Since 2002 Hugonin has even written a score for each work before making the first mark: not a precise set of rules, but more an organic document that recalls the notation of composers such as Morton Feldman and Philip Glass. 

As Michael Harrison (director of Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge) has observed “the paintings carry with them that pace, that slowness, that sense of time. They ask us to slow down, and to look, and to settle as we would to listen to a piece of music, allowing time to take effect - to acknowledge that, for all their quietness and stillness, our relationship to them is one of continual change”.

Untitled (I) and Untitled (II) will be shown together in the smaller gallery, with the six most recent paintings Untitled (XIII) to Untitled (XVIII) grouped together in Gallery I. In showing these works together, this exhibition explores the remarkable and somehow dramatic shift in Hugonin's practice over the last 20 years despite the inherent understated quality of the works.

There is an exhibition catalogue available.

Sunday, 10 October 2010

Anne Smart: '12 Paintings' at Poussin Gallery, London

An exhibition of the paintings of Anne Smart are on show at the Poussin Gallery from 20th October - 13th November 2010. Anne Smart was born in Yorkshire in 1951. She studied sculpture at St. Martin's School of Art in the 1970's, started painting in 1978, and now lives and works in north-east Scotland. Her work is in a number of private collections, and since 1995 she has run independent teaching classes in abstract painting. 

Baroquey 2009

'Throwing Shapes' exhibition at Coleman Project Space and Cafe Gallery Projects, London

7 October - 7 November 2010

This is a new exhibition of paintings of a group of diverse artists working with abstraction in London, defining 'hard-edge' abstraction in its diverse forms from installation to raw canvas. Here's the blurb from the press release, not sure how much I believe, but it is interesting... Coleman Project Space presents a two-venue initiative curated by Rebecca Geldard with Vanessa Jackson, Clare Goodwin, Alasdair Duncan and Kilian Rüthemann.

'Jan & Dan', Claire Goodwin, 68 cm x 50 cm, Medium: Mixed media, Catalogue No: CGP1259

'Throwing Shapes' is a group exhibition on the itinerant nature of abstract painting’s core motifs. The conversational starting point for this colourful dialogue between venues, and works in various media, is a large-scale wall-painting commission by Vanessa Jackson at CGP London’s Cafe Gallery.
While the title elicits the notion of sharply defined forms flung, or Modernist-indebted visual strategies, it also references dance and music. ‘Throwing shapes’, like the term ‘abstract’ for an art context, has become a generic expression. It is now synonymous with human movement to music/sounds of all kinds but was initially used to describe the repetitive physical actions associated with electronic dance music: a simple sign language for those under its influence.

Vanessa Jackson, Medium: Installation, Catalogue No: CGP1248

This sense of reduction and recycling of forms and trends - given the recent nu-rave revival traceable through music, art and fashion, for example - is key to the exhibition remit. 'Throwing Shapes' does not attempt to survey the new, however, or plot fixable paths between the past and present, rather identify some curious conceptual territories emerging from artists’ re-negotiation of these basic forms; locate points at which specific aesthetic languages shift, mutate or break down.

Alasdair Duncan’s “signs for the future” pitch the viewer between the language of propaganda, painting and the perfunctory signage of everyday life. The London-based artist’s colour-rich, optimistic motifs, borrowed equally from the Bauhaus as the Highway Code, will appear here in two site-specific vinyl and sculptural works at Coleman Project Space.

Zürich-based Clare Goodwin also mines the past in a strangely positive way, her human-titled paintings conveying both the gritty reality of an era and sense of nostalgia one can have for a time that is not their own. Seventies design graphics and Op-art strategies appear rudely cropped into seductively hard-edged, conceptually adulterous compositional unions.

It makes perfect sense that Vanessa Jackson’s ritual play on canvas with geometric systems should find its way onto public surfaces given her interest in the democracy of mathematical approaches to art. Where Jackson’s ambitious three-floor mural for Sadler’s Wells in 2008 provided a lyrical framework for the performative dimension of the site, here the big white box of CGP London will become test-cell for the optical and kinetic possibilities of forms placed “arm-in-arm, hip-to-hip” in space. 

Swiss artist Kilian Rüthemann is known for his minimal, mostly temporary sculptural alterations to architectural spaces. For this, Rüthemann’s first London exhibition, the Basel-based artist will show a film in Coleman Project Space’s acclaimed Shed Space. Here, the virtual realm of the computer program provides the contextual fabric for his study of line and form as dictated by the flight paths of birds at sunset.

Times: Thursday - Sunday from 12 - 5pm.

Abstraction talks on Tate Channel

As Part of the Van Doesberg and Arshile Gorky exhibitions a study day, organised by Marko Daniel and Gill Perry, was held at the Tate. The talks were in conjunction with the Open University are available on the Tate Channel.

Umberto Eco on Archetypes

In his book Travels in Hyperreality, 1986, translated by William Feaver, Umberto Eco wrote:

"Just as extreme pain meets sensual pleasure, and the extreme of perversion borders on mystical energy, so too the extreme of banality allows us to catch a glimpse of the sublime."

Peter Lanyon, Tate St Ives

Peter Lanyon was introduced to contemporary painting by Adrian Stokes early on in his career and became one of the key abstract painters in the history of British abstraction. He was part of the St Ives group of artists and also taught at The Bath Academy, Corsham with William Scott. In 1957 he travelled to New York, exhibited at the Catherine Viviano Gallery and met Rothko and Motherwell. He was inspired by the Cornish Landscape and his flights over it in his glider. This traditional Turneresque connection with landscape and paint enables many to connect with abstract painting -The romantic flighty dreamer capturing his sensational response in paint. He defined for many what British abstraction was and for many still is. There is a classicism in this approach that appeals to the gardeners of England. There is a politeness and a gentility connected with Lanyon but the handling of the paint and the structures left in his work tell of a less precious explorer.

Thermal 1960

The exhibition runs at Tate St Ives until 23 Jan 2011
There is a symposium 26 - 27 November only £25 and you get free entry to the exhibition and lunch!

Lunch at Chapel, Kerris, August 1958

As seated round table clockwise starting bottom 

June Feiler, Helen, Christine (hidden) and Anthony
Feiler, Peter Lanyon, Marie Miles, Mell Rothko, 
Mark Rothko and Terry Frost
Photograph: Paul Feiler

Tuesday, 5 October 2010

Abstraction Revisited, Chelsea Museum.

Curated by Elga Wimmer this show brings together for The Chelsea Museum some of the big names of abstract expressionism with some contemporary abstract painters including Norbert Prandenberg whose exhibition at Ancient and Modern in London opens tomorrow.

'Abstrakt' 2009 Norbert Prangenberg

Sunday, 3 October 2010

Subversive Abstraction at the Whitechapel

Hahahaha abstraction is subversive and subverted with this show at the Whitechapel. (There you go Thige)  This exhibition is from a series titled Keeping it Real. Abstract art in the twentieth century often had ideals of purity and transcendence, but the artists here make abstract work from everyday experiences and materials.
The second in a series of four displays drawn from the D. Daskalopoulos Collection, Greece, includes Dieter Roth’s cheese paintings which decompose in front of your eyes, alongside a rare early collage by Damien Hirst using materials such as books and pencils. Lynda Benglis’ knotted painting is one woman’s wry comment on the masculine heroism of American Abstract Expressionist painting, while David Hammons’ Flight Fantasy, 1995, with gold ornament, crystals and cropped dreadlocks brings black culture to western art. Mike Kelley’s floor sculpture of rugs and toys plays with romantic ideas of childhood innocence, while Daniel Subkoff’s shredded canvas questions whether a painting is always a flat object. Other artists on show include Robert  GoberNikos KessanlisJulie MehretuKori Newkirk and Rosemarie Trockel.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Masters of Gesture at the Gagosian, Beverly Hills

PH - 387 1955 Clyfford Still

"These are not paintings in the usual sense; they are life and death merging in fearful union."
--Clyfford Still

Coincidental with The Abstract Expressionist show in New York, The Gagosian is showing 'Masters of the Gesture' which includes works by John Chamberlain, Willem de Kooning, Sam Francis, Arshile Gorky, Adolph Gottlieb, Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell, Mark Rothko, David Smith and Clyfford Still. "Influenced by their experiences during the interwar years that were marked by the detrimental effects of the Great Depression and World War II, the New York-based Abstract Expressionists viewed the world as emotionally barren and militated against political and social hegemony. "
This also links with the announcement that there is a Clyfford Still museum under construction in Colorado.

Pastoral 1947 Arshile Gorky