Monday, 29 August 2011

Gerhard Richter's painting about 911, in Tate Modern exhibition

Gerhard Richter, 'September' oil on canvas, 2003
This painting, commemorating the 911 attack on the Twin Towers in New York, shall be in the forthcoming show at the Tate Modern (see earlier blog Gerhard Richter: Panorama). Does the painting have a resonance? Does it work as an image of such a tragic event?..

Saturday, 27 August 2011

Phyllida Barlow, 'Rig', Hauser & Wirth, London

Phyllida Barlow, 'Untitled: banners', 2010, fabric, timber, polystyrene, cement, scrim © Phyllida Barlow, courtesy the artist/Hauser and Wirth, photo: Oliver Ottenschlager            
Waving the flag fro abstraction, Phyllida Barlow remains a unique British talent and has been so for the last 40 years. Her new exhibition entitled 'Rig' from 2nd September to 22nd October at Hauser & Wirth, London, shows little sign of her strength waning. In this show she is using as usual a variety of materials from the urban environment of recycled ephemera, such as fabric, sticks, polystyrene and cement.

Phyllida Barlow ‘untitled: broken shelf 2’, 2011, timber lengths, plaster, scrim, fabric 
© Phyllida BarlowCourtesy the artist/Hauser and Wirth, photo: Mike Bruce
'Barlow's sculptural practice is centred on her experimentation with these materials and the process of re-contextualising them to create large-scale, three-dimensional collages. Her constructions are often crudely painted in industrial or synthetic colours, resulting in abstract, seemingly unstable forms: the seams of their construction left completely visible, revealing the dynamics of their making.'

There is a strong anti-monumental quality to her work that grows on you and retains its real power for when you are in front of it. This physicality, I think, is vital when responding to abstraction: 'Things aren't just visual. They are sensations of physicality.' (Phyllida Barlow, 'Modern Painters', Summer 2011.)

Phyllida Barlow was born in 1944 in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, England. She lives and works in London. In the late 1960s, Barlow began teaching at the Slade School of Art as Professor of Fine Art. In 2009, she stopped teaching in order to focus on her own work. 

Wednesday, 24 August 2011

What does a straight line communicate?

In the light of the plethora of taped and rulered edges in paintings that I am currently being presented I wondered what you might think of this trend. I have on a number of occasions given my opinion to this form of reductionism but the fashion seems to be growing and I now have to wonder if I am missing something. In the past Barnet Newman's work has moved me deeply and so I am not unaware of the potential impact of simplified forms and I really admire Mondrian's courage.

The simplicity is tempting, the lack of personal exposure comforting, the boundaries certain and readable, the invention of form and colour programmable and the overal appearance decorative but the grit is missing. Your suggestions would be appreciated because my curmudgeonly response to such work is now instinctive and not positive.

Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Aeneas Wilder at Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Aeneas Wilder's installation at the Longside Gallery, YSP is brilliant. The construction sets a tension in the room because all the pieces of wood are precariously balanced on each other to create the circular, slatted curtain. Having bouncy kids in the room made this anxiety greater because the slightest touch would have meant the dramatic collapse of 10,000 pieces of wood and 200 hours of work. It was like teetering with vertigo on a high ledge - will they, shall I,  could I? The metaphor and fragility was only part of why the work was so engaging. The visual effect was as if the wood and the gaps became a mirrored screen playing with the positive- negative perception. The simplicity of the wooden blocks was reminiscent of Japanese dojos because of the precision and the grid generated beautiful disruptions to the views of people in the room and of the parkland view outside. Aeneas's work is evidently considered, patient and precise. There is a performative occasion on 03.11.11 when Aeneas kicks his installation down but sadly the event is fully booked.

Born in Edinburgh in 1967 Wilder trained at both Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art, Dundee and Edinburgh College of Art. He is now based in Edinburgh and Japan and works extensively around the world.

Monday, 22 August 2011

Gerhard Richter: Panorama, Tate Modern, London

Gerhard Richter, 'Abstrakt bild 894-7', 2005 (this painting may be in the show)
An exhibition of Gerhard Richter's paintings is taking place next month at Tate Modern, London from 6th October-8th January 2012. Spanning nearly five decades and coinciding with the artist’s 80th birthday. ''Gerhard Richter: Panorama' is major chronological retrospective that groups together significant moments of this painter’s career. It includes portraits based on photographs such as the famous 'Betty' 1988, abstractions, subtle landscapes, colour charts, works on paper, mirrors and three important glass constructions.

Richter was one of the first German artists to reflect on the history of National Socialism, creating paintings of family members who had been members, as well as victims of, the Nazis, as well as canvases reminiscent of images of the bombing of Dresden. In 1988 he produced the 15-part work 'October 18' 1977, a sequence of black and white paintings based on images of the Baader Meinhof group. Richter has continued to respond to significant moments in history; the final room of the exhibition includes September 2005, a painting of the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Centre in New York in 2001.
Alongside works responding to historical events, the show presents many of Richter’s most ambitious abstract paintings from his 1974 colour chart containing 4096 different coloured squares, to his 20-metre long 'Stroke' of 1980, presented for the first time outside Germany, to the magisterial and richly coloured 'Forest' squeegee paintings of 1990 and culminating in the hauntingly beautiful six-part series 'Cage' from 2006 on long loan to Tate.' Gerhard Richter: Panorama is curated by God himself, Tate Director Nicholas Serota and Mark Godfrey.

Saturday, 20 August 2011

Ingrid Calame, Fruitmarket Gallery, Edinburgh

The American artist Ingrid Calame explores the jokey chance evocations of abstraction in her latest exhibition of works at Fruitmarket Gallery in Edinburgh until 8 October. In these new paintings, drawings and tracings, with imagery from cracks in the pavement or car parks appear and disappear in a jamboree of marks, gestures or stains in oil paint on the wall as well as canvas and aluminium, also suggesting aerial maps. Watch her interview below.

Ingrid Calame, ‘Step on a Crack, Break Your Mother’s Back’, 2008
Oil on aluminium, 101.6 x 61 cm (not in exhibition) © Frith Street Gallery
Initially, you look at the works and see ‘old school' Abstract Expressionism, then you realise she is playing with your aesthetic sensibilities yet paying tribute to 1950’s abstraction/automatism. There is a looseness to her approach to painting that is interesting as she questions how fixated we have become with Minimalism..

Ingrid is represented in the UK by Frith Street Gallery, London and James Cohan Gallery in the US.

Monday, 8 August 2011

'Material Worlds' at Sudeley Castle, Gloucestershire, UK

To be honest this is a mixed bag of sculptural works, all on sale through Sotheby's and using the grounds of Sudeley Castle in the Cotswolds as a back drop. There could have been more radical works on show, and the 'textile art' bug, just looks awful. At this time, in days like these, the curators could have made more of a statement regarding the state of play of international sculpture..?

Here's the press release..'Sotheby’s is delighted to announce an exclusive collection of leading designers and artists for MATERIAL WORLDS, its second outdoor selling exhibition in collaboration with Sudeley Castle, from 28 July to 30 September 2011. The exhibition brings together cutting-edge, one-off and limited edition works in strikingly different materials by 11 artists and designers, including Tord Boontje, Amanda Levete, David Adjaye, Ingo Maurer and Paul Fryer. Set amongst the romantic ruins of Sudeley and its award-winning gardens, the works will challenge the boundaries of Design, Art and Craft.' .......yeh, right, viva la Revolucion!..

Thursday, 4 August 2011

William Crozier, influential British painter, dies

(c) William Crozier
William Crozier, a post war artist and influential lecturer died in July. His work has moved between fluid abstraction and landscape influences. A member of the post war generation in Britain, he was educated at the Glasgow School of Art. He spent time in Paris and Dublin before settling in London, where he quickly gained a reputation as the 1950s through the early success and notoriety of his exhibitions of assemblages and paintings.  His early career shows a keen interest in existentialism and a highly personalized vision of nature and how to replicate this with paint. Crozier was represented by Flowers East Gallery and exhibited widely in London, Glasgow, Dublin and Europe. From the 1980s when he set up studios in Ireland and the UK, his painting of the landscape has blossomed with an extraordinary radiance and confidence. Read his Guardian Obituary here.

Wednesday, 3 August 2011

'The Shape of Days', Serge Murphy at Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada

An intriguing exhibition of found sculpture is currently being exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Canada, until 2nd October 2011. These are new abstract works and the first solo exhibition in a Montreal museum by Murphy. The walls display a multitude of statuettes made from wood, cardboard, paint, string and all kinds of wire and set on little shelves like 'knick-knacks' or holy icons.
 Serge Murphy, 'La Forme' Séquence 2, found media, 2011
Photo: Pascal Grandmaison
“It’s called 'La forme des jours' because these sculptures represent the passage of time, of days. In my work there’s always a relationship to time, it’s almost a material for me. I work in my studio every day, it’s a constant in my life. Making sculpture is a task that obsesses me,and it’s time consuming work. My relationship to reality is sublimated, transcended by this activity, by this daily use of my hands. It’s what gives shape to my days. Sometimes a simple shape, sometimes an excessive one, a shape that comes into my head or emerges under my hands. Sculpting is looking for shapes that resemble us...I construct as I improvise and I improvise as I construct, in a mixture of calculated gestures and experiments. I create associations of images that in my mind refer to people, to landscapes, to moments,to myself, to abstraction…”

Despite its make shift, do-it-yourself appearance, Murphy’s art harks back to the historical phenomenon of the cabinet of curiosities or the 'Wunderkammer' of the Renaissance, but re-orienting it to the opposite of the conventional definition of a treasure or wonder, to encompass humble, fragile little objects of no apparent aesthetic value, shabby scrap. 
Serge Murphy, 'La Forme' Séquence 3, found media, 2011
Photo: Pascal Grandmaison
“Shabby materials are living materials. They don’t foist themselves upon us, they are unassuming but they communicate something intense. They are easily accessible and just as easily modifiable. In the work of some tinkerers, there is a surrealism, a freedom to put together found objects and manufactured ones, which I find sympathetic. But I don’t have their artlessness and besides, my work invokes the history of the art of sculpture!”

Serge Murphy, born in Montreal in 1953, is not only a prolific sculptorbut also a video artist and a poet. His collection of poems La vie quotidienne est éternelle was published in 2010 by Éditions de l’Hexagone. In 2007, he was awarded the prestigious OziasLeduc Prize from the Fondation Émile-Nelligan.

Monday, 1 August 2011

John Hoyland 1934 - 2011

A great painter died last night. Abstract painter, John Hoyland, an inspiration, influence and teacher to many has left the studio.
photo. Nick Smith.