Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Happy Christmas

With Robert Kingston signing up we have reached 50 followers. Hurray and welcome. We have considerably more shy folk following us anonymously but the 50 is a timely gift and worth celebrating. Thank you for your interest and contributions. Thige you have been a star. It is heartening to feel connected in this way and we enjoy discovering art and debate via the other blogs and sites that you bring with you when you sign up. will continue to post in 2011 making connections with artists, abstract exponents and organisations around the world with an interest in abstraction. If you have any comments or suggestions for content or activity we would be glad to hear them.

Best wishes and a Happy Christmas to you all.

Happy Christmas from Monkey Business on Vimeo.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Mondrian at Centre Pompidou, Paris

Piet Mondrian, "composition en rouge, bleu et blanc II", 1937
© Mondrian / Holtzman trust, coll. Centre Pompidou, RMN
A new retrospective exhibition at Centre Pompidou in Paris, re-assesses the legacy of Mondrian and De Stijl. Amazingly this is the first exhibition of Mondrian to truly assess his influence on twentieth century art, especially with his ideas regarding Neo-Plasticism to be held in France. The exhibition explores his commitment to painting from the early years of the twentieth century, through his ground breaking developments with De Stijl combining his ideas on Theosophy with other artists, Theo Van Doesburg and Gerrit Rietveld. They created such a strong social understanding of the role art can play, especially abstraction, in society. His legacy remains not only in abstract paintings of a geometric and reductive style, but also in 'concret' sculpture, city planning, architecture, furniture design and graphic design.  You may be interested in an article by Simon Schama, where he has written a review entitled 'Driven to Distraction' in the Financial Times on 17th December 2010. In this he explores the photographs of his studio taken by Andre Kertesz (see below), but also Schama states: 

'But don’t go looking for it in this otherwise exhaustive and glorious show which is, after all, a heartfelt celebration of the modernist furnace that once was Paris – even if it took someone as resolutely Dutch as Piet Mondrian to distil abstraction from its fizzing alembic.'

Andre Kertesz, 'Chez Mondrian' 1926

The photo above is a well known photo, but the photo below shows his studio interior and his bed, it defines clearly the simplicity in which his life was lived, also expressed so clearly through his work.
Andre Kertesz, 'Mondrian's Studio' 1926
 The exhibition runs through until 21st March 2011 at the Centre Pompidou in Paris.

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Matthew Collings gets with the programme

Perhaps it was affected but it seems incredible that maestro Collings has only just contemplated how maths and physics inform process and aesthics and perceptions of the world. Still it is entertaining watching him struggle with the abstractions and concepts he is presented with. The programme Beautiful Equations on UK BBC 4 will only be available for 7 days so catch it while you can.

I also enjoyed Horizon's Fermat's Last Theorem. The emotional commitment, isolation and inventiveness of Andrew Wiles in his search to crack the daunting proposition of xn + yn = zn  .  I vainly empathised with his balancing of the formal traditions with the unlikely and the evident enlightenment when the solution revealed itself.  An abstract artist surely?

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

John Hoyland interview in Turps Banana

It's 2010 and painting is once again in the ascendancy, also abstraction is reaching a wider audience, whether at the Jerwood Prize, Tate's recent Rothko show or Walker Gallery USA.

Earlier this year I had a conversation with David Moxon about John Hoyland RA and his importance, and it soon turned out we had differing opinions, specifically on his later works. However, when asked by Marcus Harvey to propose an artist to write about for Turps Banana we both independently came up with John Hoyland for our proposal.
Nick Smith
We recognise that John Hoyland is a significant international artist that is shamefully undervalued. This is a man who has been committed to abstract painting for over 50 years, who was friends with Barnett Newman, Helen Frankenthaler, Rothko, and also friends with a major influential painter to me, Robert Motherwell. 

John Hoyland, is now 75 and recently recovered from a heart by-pass and has lost none of the vigour and vim that made his name in the 1960's, whether representing Britain at the Sao Paulo Biennale with Anthony Caro, hanging out with Robert Motherwell, Helen Frankenthaler and Barnett Newman in New York or London. John Hoyland is one of the last of a generation of painters that attended art school in the 1950's when they were being revolutionized by mavericks and were developing the Bauhaus principals that has set them apart internationally. Hoyland has created a style of abstract painting that was against the prevailing figurative painting of the post war years, yet was detached from the more geometric painters of the sixties, such as Bridget Riley, Robyn Denny and Alan Green. He also had little time for the St.Ives painters. Perhaps the influence of the United States on his work was what set him apart from the London scene.

Nick Smith
In this candid interview, John Hoyland discusses his extensive body of work, his recent exhibition of paintings at the Yale Center for British Art. He also explored his misgivings on the younger generation of painters and presented his forthright views on some of his contemporaries.
I appreciated his openness and recognised that his age, status and perhaps having been confronted recently with his own mortality provided him with licence to tell it as he sees it. He is of an influential and disappearing generation of painters. I maintain that he is one of the few painters that searches for new forms at the risk of being uncomfortable and in doing so asks questions about how we perceive harmony in the world, through the paint. He has been focused on this and his commitment to painting is exemplary. He has a palette and marks that are identifiable as his and he had the courage to step away from what his contemporaries were doing. If you are among those that find his work brash loud and rude I urge you to take a look again and appreciate them for their honesty, their enquiries and inventions and the author’s life long commitment to painting.
He has had failures and there are obviously others that have achieved their own idiosyncratic compositions and invented forms of their own but for me John Hoyland is a great artist and unwittingly stands in and has helped describe an Englishness in painting. There are few painters around the world who paint with such freedom.

Nick Smith's excellent studio photographs documented the interview and the set can be viewed here:  Hoyland Album Nick Smith

The full interview can be read in issue 9 of Turps Banana due out on the 15th December.