Friday, 30 December 2011

John Chamberlain, American abstract sculptor and painter, dies..

John Chamberlain 'Kora', metal, 1963 (c) Tate Modern
There's an interesting little obituary on the life of John Chamberlain in the the Huffpost, check it out here. Here is a great little book where Chamberlain discusses his work with Hans Ulrich Obrist. They've got a couple of nice works at the Tate Modern, it may not be the MOMA, but hey, we Brits liked him too..

'The Indiscipline of Painting: International Abstraction..', moves, 2012

If you missed the big exhibition The Indiscipline of Painting: International Abstraction from the 1960s to Now at Tate St.Ives, where an attempt to survey abstraction in postmodern times, then you have the opportunity to see it at the Mead Gallery at Warwick Art Centre from 14th January to 10th March. This was an interesting exhibition at Tate St.Ives and it was a big exhibition that relied on more that just pulling out some of the old paintings in the Tate storage facilities, but actually borrowing works from further afield. 
Francis Baudevin print, for 'Indiscipline of Painting' (win a print here)
Hopefully it will give the future curators working at or with Tate St.Ives, the confidence to push for more interesting works and gain more support or funding to in creating a popular show and enticing art lovers down to the Cornish peninsula.

Though some of the work had a lightness that I found frustrating when seeing the works in such a confined space, perhaps it says more about the 'postmodern' times than specific artists approach, there still remained a slickness and Minimalist aesthetic throughout that makes you feel that abstraction is just about decoration, I felt it wasn't historically accurate, there are none of the 'big British heavies', or any of the later works by the St.Ives artists like Heron, Scott, Barns-Graham etc, that held on to abstraction through the sixties and seventies and were recognized more internationally than in Britain during this time, or any of the hard-edge painters in London at the time such as, Denny, Hoyland, or the later works of Gillain Ayres, Mali Morris etc. but some inclusions by artsist that have little to do with abstraction or have played a minimal part in its history. Still, it was an interesting show and worth seeing, and we bigged it up in a post back in October (see here). 
Mali Morris, 'Plural on Red' 2002
Here's the press release: 'The Indiscipline of Painting' is an international group exhibition including works by forty-nine artists from the 1960s to now. Selected by British painter Daniel Sturgis, it considers how the languages of abstraction have remained urgent, relevant and critical as they have been revisited and reinvented by subsequent generations of artists over the last 50 years. It goes on to demonstrate the way in which the history and legacy of abstract painting continues to inspire artists working today.

The contemporary position of abstract painting is problematic. It can be seen to be synonymous with a modernist moment that has long since passed, and an ideology which led the medium to stagnate in self-reflexivity and ideas of historical progression.The Indiscipline of Painting challenges such assumptions. It reveals how painting’s modernist histories, languages and positions have continued to provoke ongoing dialogues with contemporary practitioners, even as painting’s decline and death has been routinely and erroneously declared.

The show brings together works by British, American and European artists made over the last five decades and features major new commissions and loans. It includes important works by Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, Gerhard Richter and Bridget Riley alongside other lesser known artists such as Tomma Abts, Martin Barré, Mary Heilmann and Jeremy Moon.'

The painter and curator, Daniel Sturgis is presenting a lecture on the exhibition on Tuesday 31st January in the Conference Room at 6.30 PM, click here for more details.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

'Eye to Eye', Joseph Marioni, The Phillips Collection, Washington DC, USA

An often side-lined American abstract artist currently showing at The Phillips Collection is Joseph Marioni. The lush surfaces of his paintings explore the visceral quality of paint on canvas. He has a similarity to the Minimalist works of Brice Marden in the seventies, which the MOMA has a good collection of. He has had two interesting shows in 2011, namely at that great French exhibition space Espace de la Concret  and BAM/PFA at University of California,  Berkeley, entitled Abstract Now and Then, they also have an interesting exhibition in 2012 of Abstract Expressionism from their collection, click here for details. Worth checking out, exhibition ends on 29th January, 2012.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

New abstract paintings of Carmen Herrera, Lisson Gallery, London in 2012

An exhibition of the artist Carmen Herrara is taking place at the Lisson Gallery, London from 1st February - 3rd March 2012. 

Carmen Herrera, 'Red with White Triangle' (1961), Acrylic on canvas, 
48 x 66 inches, Private Collection, New York, (This work is probably not going to be in the show)

I had the opportunity some years ago to visit the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Havana, Cuba and see for myself the modernist paintings that echoed the major avant-garde movements taking place in Europe and America through the Twentieth Century. Even though the artists were cut off politically and culturally after the revolution, there was evidence of a rich engagement with their practice and an independent spirit and passion for painting.

Herrara, who was born in 1915, came out of that international experimental and Romantic ideal forged in the 1940's by many painters and shows an influence from Barnett Newman (listen to MOMA 'Vir Hiroicus Sublimis' multi-media description here) and Abstract Expressionism developed  through her subsequent travels in America, where she settled in New York since 1954) and Europe (living in France for a while) and a unique and passionate response to abstraction through her reductive abstract paintings. Through time she refined her focus, playing with symmetry and asymmetry, flatness and depth, illusion and the physicality of painting. The Ikon Gallery, Birmingham held a large scale retrospective of her work in 2009. This new exhibition at Lisson should be a very exciting example of her recent developments.

Tuesday, 27 December 2011

Helen Frankenthaler, radical abstract painter..

Helen Frankenthaler (c) ArtStory
Thanks, Peter for your post on the sad death of Helen Freankenthaler, she was the last of the Abstract Expressionists and a good friend of our John Hoyland. Her work, along with Joan Mitchell, has been redefined in recent years and we have a much greater understanding of their contribution to the lasting legacy of that great American abstract movement some sixty years ago. It was her revolutionary staining technique that Frankenthaler and her contemporaries Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, also known as 'Post Painterly Abstraction' shall be remembered for.

I first came across her when at art school during the presentation of the art documentary 'Painters Painting' by Emile de Antonio (see above, scoll along to 2:25). I was first struck by her elegance and articulate nature which is captured in this little clip from the fifties. This work below is her most renowned piece from 1952, which explores her staining technique.

Helen Frankenthaler, 'Mountains and Sea', oil on canvas, 1952

Helen Frankenthaler 1928 - 2011 I recently discovered that some friends of mine spent time with Helen Frankenthaler in New York and they described her as elegant, charming, witty and modest. This could be a description of her work and a suitable elegy.

Monday, 26 December 2011

Ellsworth Kelly at LACMA and new Matthew Marks Gallery, Los Angeles, USA

A new retrospective exhibition of Ellsworth Kelly, the master of geometric and Minimalist abstraction, is to take place at Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California (BCAM, Level 2) from January 22 – April 22, 2012.

Ellsworth Kelly, Colors on a Grid, 1976, lithograph on 350-gram Arches 88 paper, 48 ¼ x 48 ¼ inches (122.6 x
122.6 cm), edition of 46, © Ellsworth Kelly and Tyler Graphics, Ltd.
From the press: 'Ellsworth Kelly: Prints and Paintings is the first retrospective examination of Kelly’s exceedingly prolific print practice since 1988. The exhibition includes over 100 prints, the majority from the collection of Jordan D. Schnitzer and his Family Foundation, and five paintings.  The exhibition is organized thematically in order to explore Kelly’s mastery of key formal motifs: grids, contrast and curves. In the words of catalogue raisonné author Richard Axsom, Kelly’s prints “exchange the totemic presence, the tangible physicality and public assertiveness of the paintings and sculptures for the qualities no less genuine in registering Kelly’s vision: intimacy, delicacy, and in nearly immaterial veils of shape and color, an unmatched ethereality.” '

There will also be an exhibition at the new Matthew Marks Gallery that represents him in Los Angeles to accompany the retrospective. 

Friday, 23 December 2011

Victor Pasmore: From Construction to Spraypaint, New Art Centre, Wiltshire, England

Installation view, Victor Pasmore, (c) New Art Centre 
Victor Pasmore: From Constructions to Spraypaint. An often neglected British abstract artist of the the post-war years, Pasmore played a significant role in modernising British art education and was an influential teacher at Newcastle School of Art, with Richard Hamilton and Ian Stephenson. His late works are becoming more known and understood for their innovative use of spraypaint and the poetic use of line. This exhibition champions his last great abstract works that reflect his early interest in landscape and a very British sense of colour, also showing his three dimensional constructions. This exhibition is on until 12th January, also Roche Court Sculpture Park/New Art Centre is a unique and funky place to visit with much to offer the art lover on a cold Winter's day..

Installation view, Victor Pasmore, (c) New Art Centre

From Press Release: 'Victor Pasmore: From Constructions to Spray Paint, brings together key pieces from the most important decades of Pasmore's career. His constructed reliefs from the 1960s are amongst his most familiar geometric works in which Pasmore combined ideas of growth and harmony in three dimensions. These will be shown with essentially two-dimensional works combining fine lines and broader bands of colour. In later years, Pasmore returned to a more poetic style of painting, in which colour and organic forms dominated and his subsequent use of spray paint gave an immediate rhythm and movement, which replaced the rigour of his more static compositions.'

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Peter Krauskopf, new abstract paintings at Walter Storms Galerie, Munich

Exhibition installation at Walter Storms Gallery

We like the new paintings of Peter Krauskopf at Walter Storms Gallery, he develops a style of paintings that builds over time, creating a surface of over-painting, the gallery states: 'These are concretions of a time history: On homogeneous smooth surfaces which consist either of polished, complex previously discarded images or monochrome underpainting, Krauskopf takes a single image making procedure. He pushes with a knife or a brush, a broad even coverage over an unprecedented imagination. Thus, a symbiosis occurs between a picture of the past and its completion in the present.' These are exciting paintings moving abstraction on, yet acknowledging the developments of postmodern abstraction. There is a new monograph on the artist, Peter Krauskopf, 'Block', with texts by Ulrich Bischoff and Julia Franck.

Peter Krauskopf (born 1966) graduated in painting at theAcademy of Visual Arts in Leipzig in 1997 as a master class of Prof. Arno Rink. Since then his work in numerous institutional solo exhibitions were on display. Peter Krauskopf's work is represented in numerous public collections, including in the Print Room and the Galerie NeueMeister, Dresden, the Germanic National Museum, Nuremberg, Berlin Gallery and the Paul-Loebe House for members of the Bundestag, Berlin.

Peter Krauskopf, 'Haus' oil on canvas, 2011

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Rachel Howard, 'Folie a Deux' abstractions at Blain/Southern, London

Rachel Howard 'Regulus', 2011 (Detail), acrylic, house hold gloss and oil on canvas
The exhibition of paintings 'Folie A Deux' at Blain/Southern is until 22nd December. I know Rachel is part of the London scene, well known for hanging out with Mr.Hirst and being a kind of gothic girl with a Francis Bacon vibe and married to the Director of OtherCriteria, but we won't hold that against her. This is an interesting painting, for me she does have her moments when her she focuses on abstraction. But I think she gets distracted at being a kind of naughty British Cecily Brown with her suggestive figures, these leave me cold. Blain/Southern explore some interesting childhood ideas in their press release:

'Howard grew up on a farm in County Durham and attended a Quaker school, the questions that unsettled her childhood and troubled her in adolescence (“If God made me, then who made God?”) remain anchored in her work. “I am petrified of death,” she explains, “I can accept that I will rot and putrefy, but it’s the idea that I will no longer love, paint or think that chills me”. Rachel Howard does not believe in God. But she believes in life – in living, and she believes in art – in painting. It is this faith that shines through her work, and imbues her art with a quality that Joachim Pissarro has declared “sublime” according to Kant’s Critique of Judgement: “The sublime is to be found in an object even devoid of form, so far as it immediately involves, or else by its presence, provokes, a representation of limitlessness, yet with a super-added thought of its totality.”  Howard’s work is total and limitless in its refined glossy abstraction: it allows us to grasp a part of human existence that can not be seen but only felt.' ..and this is an interesting painting also, reminds me of the last Rothko paintings where they just empty out their life..these are real suicide paintings, he was found dead in his studio weeks later.
Rachel Howard 'Suicide Painting 4', 2007, household gloss and acrylic on canvas

Mark Rothko 'Black on Gray' 1969

Monday, 5 December 2011

Discussion by Gerhard Richter with Nick Serota and by Adrian Searle on the painting processes in Richter's paintings...

there are two fascinating documentary video's here: An interesting little video by Adrian Searle where he discusses (click here) Gerhard Richter at Tate, London (with sound effects..) also there is an intimate discussion bty Richter with Tate director Nicholas Serota on painting and his life etc, well worth exploring, click here