Monday, December 22, 2003
You can also still buy stuff from the Fanclub shop
Wednesday, November 12, 2003
Lots happening at the moment. On Friday there was the private view of Ruins/Souvenir at Transition. The show looks great and is soo different from the last show (Temporary Fiction). I've already described a bit about Souvenir but thought that it might be nice to show a few of the photos, remember they are all for sale - Â£5 each and the show is on until 30 November at Transition - 110a Lauriston Road, London E9
All the photos are anonymous while the show is on , so you have to buy one to find out who it is by. Artists involved in the show include: Melanie Manchot, Harry Borden, Hans Scheirl, Stella Vine, Sarah Doyle, Nicholas Hughes and Malcolm Garrett
Friday, October 24, 2003
What's Goin' On
So after a very long absence In am back. I haven't been away anywhere just seem to have been very busy and have lost the blogging habit. Loads going on at the moment at the gallery, we have a fantastic show on until 2 November called Temporary Fiction and opening on 7 November is a two part project called Ruins/Souvenir. Ruins is a collection of prints by Pirenasi gathered together by the artist/curator Hugo Worthy to form a "simulacrum of a conservative exhibition space" while Souvenir is an installation of snapshot photos by over 100 artists and photographers put together by the artist Paul Murphy. The Souvenir snaps are being sold at a very reasonable price to raise money to fund future projects at the gallery £5 unframed and £40 framed. The exciting bit is that the photos are only going to be identified by their locations and the artists will only be revealed at the end of the show.
Last weekend was the Frieze art fair and to accompany this there has been a frenzied amount of art activity in London. The east end saw F-est and Capri which are two gallery umbrella organisations. Capri is a grouping together of the younger east end galleries and includes Transition. The party held on Saturday night in Vyner street was fab with many galleries contributing cars suitably arted up for the Capri rally. The two galleries in the street Modern Art and Mobile Home seem to have got together to provide work which was almost identical - little paintings that looked like photos. Very clever but ultimately really quite boring and sterile. Anyway there was free beer and dispite the cold everyone was very upbeat.
The Frieze art fair was huge. Held in a specially designed tent in Regents Park which creaked and shuddered with every gust of wind in contained stalls from every trendy gallery in the world. Because of this many artists were grossly over represented - stand up Sophie Von Hellerman - as their Berlin, New York and London galleries all fought to show their best pieces. I had read the Adrian Searle piece in the Guardian before I went so I was already clued up on the star attractions (precocious performance children, big grassy slope etc.) However the most exciting moment for me was my first sighting of Charles Saatchi in the flesh (he has been into Transition before but I wasn't there) He was at a Berlin gallery and looked like he was going to buy a load of messy sculpture by someone who I thought was called Urs Fischer but I have just looked him up in Google and it wasn't him at all. This brings me to a gripe - what is it with the really confusing labelling at the moment in art, it just is not allowed anymore to have the artists name under their work there has to be a map or sometimes no indication at all of who has done what. Anyway the whole Frieze thing was very elitist and although I started off enthusiastically by the end I was really depressed - art can not be sold like a packet of washing powder. My favourite things were the Tokoyo galleries which seemeed to have a much younger fresher outlook and the Franz Koenig bookshop was excellent (pity no Arty on sale though).
Sunday, September 07, 2003
St Martins' MA
It is time once again for the St Martins' MA Fine Art show. On until Wednesday 10th it is an eclectic mix of stuff a lot of which has a slightly dry conceptual bent. The undoubted highlight is Alex Michon's Billy Fury / Momento Mori which can be found on the ground floor. I do I'll admit know the work very well (and have written a little piece about it which you can find below) but it still shines out like a beacon amongst the mish mash of over thought, academy pleasing trash. It is also worth checking out Nicky Magliulo's video provokedly titled Elton John Is A Cunt .
Memento Mori/Billy Fury
Alex Michon’s Billy Fury, Memento Mori is a drawing space, a wholly inhabited fantasy world spun around the pivotal axis of the English 50s pop icon Billy Fury with a Jean Genet prison cell sub plot. These references are Michon’s own personal inspirations and knowledge of them is not essential to an understanding of the work, it’s the infectious, obsessive space that the work puts you in that is its point.
Billy’s early death was caused by a congenital heart defect and this vulnerability is friable in the heartfelt scratched out drawings which cover every wall surface of this miniature gallery /cell. Nostalgia is the hook but it is not the ultimate point, this is compulsion and obsession, a need to make work and breathe life into a world that would otherwise lie dormant.
In 1688 a physician from Muhlhausen called Johannes Hofer proposed that the term nostalgia should be used to define the medical condition of homesickness. ‘So that thus far it is possible from the force of the sound Nostalgia to define the sad mood originating from the desire to return to one’s native land’ (1). Michon’s work evokes this original definition of nostalgia in so far as we feel we know this/her world and whilst viewing it we want to be part of it.
Whilst creating a new work /world, Michon in the mould of Sybil, Christine and Eve White adopts another personality, she lives in another world, which is in this case the Denmark Street, Tin Pan Alley of Larry Parnes and his stable of stars. Billy’s world becomes intertwined with the homo-erotica of Jean Genet’s Our Lady of The Flowers as the low camp of hundreds of twinkling fairy lights illuminate butt smoking Indians and winsome bequiffed boys.
Memento mori are reminders that we will one day die and were a devise often inserted into 14th Century paintings (2). Pop stars have a unique position in modern society in that they are worshipped, identified and empathised with, their every move is something we can live through -“There were people whose interest in Maria Tambini seemed to rise with her decline. Over the years she had uncovered an audience who were attracted to her suffering” (3). Their failings and frailties are our own modern day memento mori.
Memento Mori/Billy Fury is a reminder of the frailty of the individual as they expose everything of themselves to a hostile world / institution. It is affecting, touching and courageous.
1: William Fiennes - The Snow Geese – Picador 2002
2:Such as Hans Holbein’s - The Ambassadors – (1533) - The National Gallery, London
3:Andrew O’Hagan – Personality. The text refers to the rise of fictional singing star Maria Tambini.
Thursday, September 04, 2003
Arty + Rosy Wilde
I am back from my various summer and holidays ready to start a new year of art projects. The new issue of Arty - Nature, will be out next week and is available from all the usual outlets. I have also had some work in a show at the new Rosy Wilde Gallery in Whitecross Street, London and have a couple of pieces in the new show - Vaguely Romantic. It is a really interesting gallery with a very distinctive style, run by the artist Stella Vine it focuses particularly on figurative painting and drawing - think Karen Kilimnik. The new show at Transition is opening next week and features the work of the artist Mark Croxford.
Sunday, July 06, 2003
Goria: Nadia Hebson
This is the new show at Transition and runs until 27th July.
Nadia is predominantly a painter, she paints exquisite portraits on copper which are a tantilisiing mixture of traditional and contemporary - John Currin mixed with Hans Memling. For Goria however she has made an installation which places her paintings within an evocative environment.
For Goria, Transition has become a theatre set through which the viewer is invited to walk. There are towering trees and clouds of mist which finally part to reveal small, jewel like paintings. These are self portraits of an emotional artist with tears trickling down her face. There is also a minature grotto celebrating or remembering something long forgotten and inviting us to enter - but of course we are much too big.
The whole experiece is quietly affecting and really quite beautiful.
Wednesday, June 25, 2003
Peter Blake @ Tate Britain
I went to hear Peter Blake talking at the Tate (Wednesday 18th June). I've always liked his stuff with his Elvisy, poppy motifs, in fact his toy shop was one of the first art works I ever liked. More recently I saw a piece about how his On the Balcony was put together, at the Transition show at The Barbican - I hadn't realised its connections to the Royal Family. Anyway it dawned upon me as I sat in the Tate Britain lecture hall that loads of his themes and interests are also mine.
The talk coincided with the launch of a new Peter Blake book - one of the Tate's contemporary artist series and there was free wine and nibbles (which is unheard of at one of these events ). During the talk/Q&A Blake came across as a very nice, affable man with a penchant for story telling, he even apologised for talking too much. He was amazingly open in describing his working methods and influences even saying that if he sees an artists work that he likes he rushes back home to make his own version of it. His work over the years mirrors everything he likes, admires and wants and this enthusiasm is reflected back in his paintings, sculptures and collages. He said when I saw "things I was interested in I couldn't not do work about them"
Blake is now in his 80s and has officially retired which he says means he isn't worrying about the art world but just doing what he wants when he wants although this doesn't mean his work rate has slowed down. He described the making of a set of illustrations for Under Milk Wood as something he is doing as "a hobby in the evening".
Peter Blake gives me hope for the future, he is still there doing what he wants with as much enthusiasm as ever.
The Tate's website has this event archived
Sunday, June 08, 2003
I’ve been very busy!
I’m currently curating a show called Arty-tecture at Transition (110a Lauriston Road, London E9) which opens on Friday 13th (my lucky day!) To accompany the show there is a new issue of Arty (an art fanzine that I edit) which is also titled Arty-tecture.
The theme is the cross over point between art and architecture, and specifically creative, dreamlike places. The show includes work by:
Alice Anderson, Emi Avora, Grania Cumming, Viviana Duran, Carol Ho, The House of O’Dwyer, Tom Hunter, Ben Ford-Smith, Antonio Gianasi, Sam Griffin, Antonia Low, Cathy Lomax, Paul Murphy, Marcus Oakley, Kavel Rafferty, Peter Robathan, Heidi Stokes, Andrew Thomas, Edward Underwood, Yolanda Zappaterra
You can find out more about the show and the artists at www.transitiongallery.co.uk
Arty has stuff by many of the same people as well as others such as Sex Lovemat and Paul Lewis. Below are some images from Arty by Emi Avora, Marcus Oakley and me.
Saturday, May 24, 2003
I’ve been to a whole host of shows over the past few weeks which I haven’t written about so here is what I think of a few of them
Days Like These - Tate Britain
I had been looking forward to seeing this show, I’d even came over to see it once before but found it closed as I was a day too early! Inevitably because of my high expectations it was disappointing and even the inclusion of a few of my current favourites didn’t stop the overall dull and depressing atmosphere.
Richard Hamilton’s controversial inclusion was an interesting idea that really didn’t work, he seems to be desperately trying to keep up with the latest trends but his video, drawings and Marcel Duchamp piece were uninspiring and vacuous. George Shaw and Peter Doig’s paintings are great but they were hung in a room with Shizuka Yokomizo’s exceedingly plain series of Stranger photographs – a curatorial thread I really couldn’t follow. In fact the curating as a whole was half hearted and the presentation was far too slick, this show says nothing about the current trends in British art.
As much as I may have criticised the current Becks Futures in an earlier review it did have that homespun, anti-corporate, diy thing going for it, something Days Like These attempted to reflect by the inclusion of Margaret Barron. Barron paints on pieces of sticky tape, which she then fixes on to a surface close to the scene she has painted. The show info. delighted in telling us that they couldn’t vouch for the longevity of the outdoor paintings, but there were also meant to be some inside the gallery. I really wanted to find them but hard as I tried I couldn't track them down.
There were also lots of film and video pieces and it is one of these that was the star of the show. Nick Relph and Oliver Payne’s film Gentlemen was brilliant. It was as I wrote in my notes as I watched it “so punk, so angry, so lethargic – poetry with images”. The film consists of mainly out of focus shots of tinsel, bright lights and urinals with a cutting voice over, and is a kind of love/hate message to the tacky, corporate culture of London’s famous streets. There is a kind of Oliver Twist / Steptoe feel to it; a mixed mocking of the old culture whilst still hanging on to an affection for it. The very feeling that infuses current English sensibilities.
Despite Relph and Payne’s beacon of light the whole show was very unsatisfying and didn’t work, it was trying to do everything and ended up saying nothing.
The Jerwood Painting Prize
This is another show I wanted to and expected to like. I have seen the last five shows of this annual painting competition and they have always been an interesting and varied mix of young and older painters. This one was just terrible! The work on show just seemed really old fashioned – John Wonnacott! John Hoyland! Shani Rhys James’s revoltingly coloured figurative compositions follow in the footsteps of Paula Rego but are completely superfluous in a world that already has Paula Rego. The most successful room features minimalist compositions by Marc Vaux – metal frames containing an inner frame of brightly painted wooden bars - and Alison Watt’s large paintings of fabric folds.
So what apart from the establishment reputation of the painters is my beef? Well… where is the humour? Where once again is the obtainable diy aesthetic? Why is everything roughly the same size – monumental (last year there were some gorgeous tiny paintings by Pamela Golden)? And most importantly where is the excitement?
If you have read my earlier blogs you may know that I entered this prize and was rejected, well I am not surprised. These painters are from a different art world; they are all very firmly routed in the routine commerciality of Cork Street and have nothing to do with pushing boundaries. This prize is not for me!
Paperworks @ Kate Macgarry
At last a show I liked! This is a new gallery to me, I was enticed to see it by this shows candy coloured email list of the participating artists and the inclusion of Lily van der Stokker (who I have read about but never seen).
The gallery is in the newly fashionable Redchurch Street (London E2) and is a small but beautifully formed space. The work as suggested by the title is all on paper (apart from kathrin Bohm’s screen print and installation) and is a mixture of quirky watercolours, cutout constructions and collages. I really loved Michael Harrison’s Cat watercolours. These are not cute, chocolate box cats but sleek, mystical, Egyptian style cats. The works are called things like Teaser and Crossed Destinies. I also liked Luke Gottelier’s bunch of watercolours entitled Cowslips, they are colourful, joyful and non-reverential. My favourite pieces however are by the fore mentioned Lily van der Stokker, little coloured pencil sketches entitled things like Grandmother and Grandfather (design for wall painting with seating). They are I expect exactly what their titles suggest and are executed in a heart-felt style.
An uplifting show, I look forward to the next one in this inspiring space by the charmingly off beat Francis Upritchard.
Sunday, May 18, 2003
FA Cup Final
Arsenal 1: Southampton 0
Yesterday I was at the FA Cup Final in Cardiff. It was fantastic, the roof was shut and the noise of the crowd was deafening. The atmosphere was great with the Southampton fans really going for it; loads of face paint, ginger wigs and yellow and blue. The best thing of course was that that Arsenal won, there is nothing like that moment when your team lifts the cup. So despite the missing players and the match reports it was a really exciting game and Arsenal played with a real determination. The brilliant Thierry Henry was deservedly voted man of the match and did everything save score, a privilege that went to Robert Pires.
What a day!
Tuesday, May 06, 2003
Sense And Sensibility - Transition Gallery
Today me and Paul Murphy (the show's curator) started to install the next show at Transition - Sense and Sensibility. The private view is on Friday 9th and the work looks really interesting through its bubble wrap and plastic bags. So far we have filled in holes in the walls, pulled off sticky fixers and painted, tomorrow we will actually put it up!
I have also launched the Transition web-site which is at http://www.transitiongallery.co.uk.
Sunday, April 20, 2003
Chantal Joffe @ Victoria Miro
4th April – 7th May 2003
Chantal Joffe is a painter and for this show she paints women and babies. In the accompanying catalogue there is an essay by Sacha Craddock, which I really hoped would tell me something about the paintings’ place within contemporary art. It didn’t. I recently read a review of the new Saatchi Gallery in the Guardian by Adrian Searle in which he quoted and ridiculed the catalogue notes calling them verbose and overblown. This is I fear a general art world malaise. Craddock’s essay is very short yet it took me five readings to understand it’s point, which is – these works are not portraits, they are of created fictional characters and there is no narrative. The press release rather blows this by telling us that the paintings have ambiguous origins that they shift between “portraits of friends and looking like anonymous icons torn from the media”. There is one (it could be Large Head of a Woman in a White Blouse although I am not absolutely sure) which looks very much like an old photo of a pre-royal family Diana - hardly a created fictional character then. The press release writer obviously couldn’t be bothered to decipher the catalogue notes and who could blame them.
The paintings themselves are lusciously painted with thick brush strokes and quirky little details. I especially liked the little room filled with babies (not in the catalogue presumably because the show is called Woman) This peculiar, brief period of life has been a neglected artistic area and Joffe’s paintings describe it particularly well. I loved the detailed recording of the cheerfully patterned baby paraphernalia, her babies are strapped into these bouncy chairs and car seats clad in their ubiquitous stretchy baby gros. The obsessive attention to baby detail makes me feel that the subject must be very close to Joffe, the artist’s loving eye trapped within a world of twenty-four hour baby exposure.
The Women didn’t have quite the same emotional intensity as the babies and thus were less convincing, they were rather uncomfortably grouped and seemed a little blank. I wish that the babies had been the focus of the show although it may have been the intimacy of their small gallery setting that contributed to their success.
Saturday, April 12, 2003
Scritch Scratch @ Transition
Mark Croxford, Annabel Dover, Delaine Le Bas, Alex Michon, Marcus Oakley
Last night was the fantastic private view of the brilliant Scritch Scratch. The show examines a particular type of drawing, that cares nothing for the formality and tradition of the medium. It also looks great, and has a really unified feel to it.
Alex Michon'sdrawings on brown card are scintilatingly current, juxtaposing the war with an arcadian idyll. While her "Material Interventions" are all homespun nicey, nicey with added blood.
Delaine Le Bas'sthree framed drawings once again include stong images of for instance skeletons amongst their highly coloured surfaces. Her fabric and glass piece is powerfully entitled "Fucking Hell it Makes my Heart Bleed" and contains a complex series of violently graffitied layers.
Annabel Doverhas one large painting in the show - "Christening Gown". A shimmering dress proportioned to fit a ghostly, giant baby. It hovers in front of the viewer as they enter the gallery, its goya-esque white brushstrokes seemingly lifting it away from its rollered black background.
Mark Croxfordshows a series of architectural mirror drawings. Their over painted terracotta surfaces scratched away to reveal the magical, silvery mirror beneath.
Marcus Oakley'swork is presented in two clustered installations and has a quality of visionary innocence about it. Each cluster is a mixture of framed drawings, paintings on found board and sewn textile pieces. Some of the paintings have quirky slogans in speech bubbles. A country cottage says "Summer means new love" and a cartoony animal says "peace". The most telling slogan is above a tree lined landscape and says "Everyone knows this is nowhere", this is powerful work.
Of course I am a little biased as I did curate the show but... it is really good. Don't miss it .
Transition, 110a Lauriston Road, london E9
Becks Futures @ The ICA
8th April 2003
I don’t dislike the ICA, in fact I really like it and I think that they have put on lots of really good shows but…
This years’ Becks Futures has work by nine artists and as a friend said “it is the first group show I have been to where all the work looks like it was made by the same person”. There were a lot of quite boring videos and lots of very quirky projects and ultimately it was all pretty hollow.
The stand out things are:
1: Francis Upritchard – Funny Girl
I like Francis Upritchard especially since I recently found out that she is a girl rather than a boy. I saw her work at The Bart Wells Institute a few months ago and it was very funny. For Becks she has made a crappy little mummy complete with a B&H packet in its top pocket which moans and quivers, next to this are some vases which have a kind of Egyptian look about them (these are the things I saw before, the vases are 'found' but the egyptian cats heads on them are added by the artist) She is also showing a glass vitrine documenting evidence that Prince Charles is an Anti-Christ (complete with the only paintings in the show)
2: David Sherry – Artist as Christ
David Sherry sewed balsa wood on to his feet and videoed the process. This video is in the show it and is horrible, I could only watch it for a few minutes but, it was memorable. The same artist also had a plain old computer printer set up which spits out sheets of written text and illustrations. There is a notice inviting the audience to help themselves (I always like a freebie) It turned out to be a diary of a month the artist spend trying not to touch another human being.
3: The inclusion of Iventory in the Show
Inventory is a magazine / journal. The fact that this makes it able to be included in the show is exciting. Unfortunately I have never been able to understand much of it and the documented work displayed here is quite boring
Sunday, March 30, 2003
I've left the Tresco paradise and am now back in lovely East London. On my way home I managed to fit in a visit to St Ives (see the review of The Tate below) which was worth it for the amazing train journey alone. I was sad to leave The Scilly Isles (and Cornwall in general) but its good to get back to civilisation (as the nice Tresco bike hire man said).
'Daying' at Transition has now finished and at the weekend I am going to start putting up the next show 'Scritch Scratch' which I am curating. It is going to be really interesting with an eclectic mix of contributors and is very succinctly a new appraisal of drawing. I will give more details in my next entry.
The Tate St Ives
The Tate St Ives is a good looking building (kind of reconstructed 30s industrial) and the beachside location is stunning but it seems to operate on a reverse tardis principal with much less room inside than is apparent from the outside. Consequently I’ve always found shows here a bit of a let down (I remember a particularly insipidly small Rothko one), this current display however seems to work.
There are three major things going on in the gallery at the moment.
Terry Frost– a retrospective, a room of new work and another small room of his selections from the Tate collection. I found his new work a little bland and the old work a little tired; I did however enjoy his collection selection, which included Reinhart, Delaney, Kandinsky and Barnett Newman.
Pier Arts Centre Collection– The Orkneys’ Pier Arts Centre is being renovated, so for a year some of its collection of ‘St Ives’ artists is on loan to the Tate. Initial thoughts are that this is a standard selection of St Ives’ work (although it does include some gems by Alfred Wallis, Ben Nicholson etc). What however makes it different is the way it’s shown. The artist Julie Roberts (one of the three showing in ‘Painting Not Painting’) has designed Barbara Hepworth wallpaper, which lines the gallery. The shock of the non-white walls is one thing but a patterned wall in an art gallery is quite fantastic! The wallpaper image is of Hepworth in baggy boiler suit equipped with a hammer and chisel sculpting away at one of her trademark organic, oval shapes. The colours are beautifully nostalgic and the handmade, screen printed surface is a homely English version of Warhol’s cow paper. It lifts the art hung upon it to a new level and for the first time I can feel the excitement that the incoming Nicholson felt when he first saw Alfred Wallis’ paintings whilst his own fireworks and Coty paintings are revitalised and compelling.
Painting Not Painting– Julie Roberts, Jim Lambie and Victoria Morton. This is a commendable effort to investigate the diverging practices that make up contemporary painting. Jim Lambie is really more of a sculptor and his ‘zoobop’ must surely be one of the most over exposed art pieces of the 21st Century. If you haven’t yet seen it, it is a custom made floor covering made up of strips of different coloured tape which together form a kind of psychedelic, stripy lino. Victoria Morton does abstract canvases. The catalogue essay attempts to place her in some new kind of category where the artist works into the space of the canvas using gestural marks but I’m not sure I go for it. Colours are nice though. The most interesting work for me is that of the fore mentioned wallpaper designer, Julie Roberts. I haven’t heard of her before but judging by her cv she’s been around a while and despite my disappointment when I read that she is interested in examining the depiction and role of women in art (a prejudice of 20th Century Feminist art that I should get over!) her work was fascinating. Roberts has painted the walls of a small room with watercolour so it resembles faded Victorian wallpaper. Upon this are hung a series of her precisely made drawings of the victims of Jack The Ripper based on research made in the public records library. Although fairly gruesome (one in particular) they gave a peculiar dignity to these women who are only remembered because of their deaths. The understatedness of the installation is a fantastic subtle contrast to the bombastic nature of Lambie’s ‘Zoobop’.
The message I took away was that painting has expanded its boundaries and anything can now be included within its remit, including sculpture, drawing and installation. This is I think a very positive development.
Overall the gallery is as interesting as its ever been, so head down to St Ives before the summer surf crowd take it over.
Thursday, March 27, 2003
On Tuesday night I went to one of the weekly ‘private Views’ that are held at Gallery Tresco. As the name suggests this is ‘the’ gallery on Tresco and shows work by many of Cornwall’s top artists.
The current show is an eclectic mix of a large number of artists who all use the islands as their inspiration. Unfortunately the buying audience here is a little (and I am being very generous here) on the conservative side and both the gallery and the showing artists have to engage with this commercial reality, thus a lot of the work looks a little chocolate boxy. There is also an inherent problem when painting the landscape, especially one as beautiful and light filled as this one, which is how to make it look and feel contemporary. I know that every time I come here I take photos but I also bring my watercolours because the landscape is so uniquely stunning that I feel compelled to try and capture it. The inevitable landscape painting quandary is which route to take; the abstract route (I always feel this is a cop out), the simplification method (used to great effect by the late John Miller but which now looks like a Greek holiday poster), accentuated colours (too fauvist) or in the end not worrying and just making ‘nicey, nicey’ watercolours (which is what I and a lot of other artists end up doing).
Back to the gallery and my top three picks. Mike Hindle’s colour rich, semi-abstract watercolours,
Kathy Todd’s atmospheric, carefully stippled strips of sand dunes and my number one choice Harriet Barber’s painterly oil on board seascapes. Barber’s paintings are refreshingly raw, colour piled on in an effort to summon up the emotion of the place rather than worrying to much about accuracies They have an endearing hint of the naïve about them which is only spoiled by some over elaborate framing, unfortunately a common gallery problem (the most popular choice is lime washed wood which I’m afraid looks very Ikea and old hat). It would look so refreshing if all the work on show was pinned to the walls with drawing pins, but this is probably just my art school sensibility and the buying public obviously likes to take a nicely framed souvenir home with them.
Gallery Tresco will I am sure go from strength to strength and who knows maybe they will find a contemporary gem along the way. I’m looking forward to the day when Tresco Gallery Projects opens and artists attempt to place the Island beauty within some kind of larger socio-political context. It would also be fantastic to see media other than paint in engagement with this beautiful last of England landscape.
Monday, March 24, 2003
moorland fringed by rugged rocks and caves
It was very exhilerating, the spell of isolation only broken by packs of hellooing pensioner hikers.
Saturday, March 22, 2003
To borrow from Derek Jarman this really is "The Last of England".
Annie Metcalfe, Annie Henry, Mat McIvor
4-6 New Road, Newlyn, Cornwall
The Palm is a newish restaurant in Newlyn and shows a changing selection of work by local artists. As the proprietor David Costin said, there aren’t that many places for artists to show work locally as the galleries will only show the big names. As a London artist I have often Patronisingly thought how wonderful it must be in the provinces with all those cool little galleries (such as The Newlyn Gallery) but I now see you have to be either locally famous or interestingly foreign to get your work shown.
The Palm is currently showing work by three artists; Annie Metcalfe (who lives over the road) has been given the wine bar. She paints semi-figurative seascapes and cites her interest as “the intangible area of the point where land meets sea and that momentary experience which occurs at the point of impact”. Her reoccurring motifs are the flotsam and jetsam of the fishing industry, with a series of small square canvases showing cropped images of fishing net floats on the seashore, lusciously painted in bright, fresh colours. In the main area of the restaurant are a series of small bronze sculptures of the human figure by Annie Henry (www.anniehenry.com). Although much smaller they reminded me of some of Anthony Gormley’s work and have an inviting tactile quality to them. Also in the restaurant are a large number of brightly coloured, smoothly painted landscapes by Mat McIvor. Some of these melted into abstraction with structural honeycombs inspired by the Eden Project’s futuristic domes whilst others featured silhouetted skylines reminiscent of Jan Pienkowski’s (www.janpienkowski.com)70’s illustrations, beneath highly coloured stripy skies.
Overall the whole thing became greater than the sum of its parts and the freshness and commitment of the area’s art was what I came away with. David Costin should be commended for his vision in giving over his restaurant to these artists as well as of course the fantastic food on offer
I should probably mention that I am on holiday in Cornwall (well the Scilly Isles at the moment to be more precise). So the next (and the previous) group of reviews and pictures will be coming from here.
Morrab Road, Penzance Cornwall
20th March 2003
This gallery is home to the historic collections of Penzance and Penwith district councils and features the largest art collection in West Cornwall with a focus on the paintings from the 'Newlyn School'.
I started off my visit in the traditional way with tea and cakes at the cafe (very good) and a look around the shop (lots of local information and books) before deciding to part with my £2 entrance fee. There were 2 special exhibitions on as well as a selection of paintings from the permanent collection.
The first show was "Copperwork in Cornwall" it was very bright and coppery and gaudy and I suppose beautifully crafted but a bit too much like stuff that hangs up in a pub. In fact I am going to go as far as to say that I hated it! Anyway I was always more interested in the paintings and the other show - "Flash Harry: Photographs by Harry Penhaul" - which sounded much more interesting. In the opening self portrait Flash Harry looks a little like a second world war spiv in the mould of Walker from Dad's Army, a nice guy but a little bit dodgy. He was born in 1914, died young (aged 43) and took some good pictures of local people and events. Characters on show included a strange looking man with a big moustache and a farmer on a tractor drinking from a watering can - all black and white and gritty, like people from a Thomas Hardy novel (I know my timing is a little out but they were the same basic characters unchanged by half a century) Other photographs had happy, skinny kids and smiling country folk and could have been subtitled 'We're all pulling together and much happier than you are now'. "Diverting" I wrote in my notebook.
The final section of the gallery is devoted to the permanent collection. I've seen some of it before and there are some works I really like. Elizabeth Forbes "A Zandvorf Fishgirl" is a very appealing portrait of a young girl holding a basket of fish, downbeat and melancholy in a Gwen John kind of way, all muted blues and greens. "The Fishgirl" is sentimental in that gauche way that Victorians loved but is now soo taboo and I love it.
I also liked Stanhope Forbes' "Regatta Day", T.C Gotch's "Girl In A Cornish Garden" and best of all Harold Harvey's "The Donkey Meadow".
If you find yourself in Penzance check it out.
Sunday, March 16, 2003
Painting Year Zero @
Keith Talent Gallery, Tudor Road, London E9
I like this gallery because its in the same street as my studio and because it seems to have a painting focus.
This show is about... painting - see title. The painting is abstract, featuring macho geometric shapes or maybe I just think this because all five participants are male. Notable works include those by Robert Holyhead whose paintings are very neat and very bright, one is called "Painting with white lines that do not cross" which is a pretty acurate description. Others by Danny Rolph feature psychedelic colours and layers of "twinwall plastic" - these have names which I can not decipher - "Heisterkamp" and "C.S".
Overall the show was diverting but I have to admit that abstract painting is not really my bag.
Thursday, March 13, 2003
Martina Jenne Isabel Ivars Sharone Lifschitz
14th - 30th March
I have just been to the private view of a new show at Transition called Daying. It is a collaborative work made by three artists in a day about a day.
It is a very contemplative show, comprising of a series of photos of things the artists were doing at different times of the day. If you examine it carefully you can identify each artist’s pictures and three separate narratives are revealed.
Visually it is very satisfying linked as it is by a black 'thread' and broken up by numerical time labels. My favourite bit is as you enter the main part of the gallery, in front of you are photos of the three artists just after they have woken up – at the beginning of the time line. To your right are photos of the artists at the end of the day – at the end of the time line. It makes for a pleasing closure to the cyclical nature of 'Daying'.
Saturday, March 08, 2003
(29th Jan-16th March 2003)
This show features the work of three artists - Jens Haaning, Matthieu Laurette and Aleksandra Mir.
It seems to be about interventions that artists and obviously these three in particular, make in the real world. It is really quite a lame show and its language speaks to those already initiated in the art world yet it trades on the pretext of being inclusive.
The downstairs room features jokes translated into arabic and then posted on to advertising hordings in different cities. Also letters written to various countries requesting citizenship for the artist so she can show under their name at the Venice Biennale.
OK I admit that I didn't look at all of it as carefully as I could of because it bored me, it (the show) was lazy and required too much work from the viewer. It also seemed to patronize the "ordinary" non-artists it was seeking to engage.
Best bits - lookalike pictures from different countries and a collection of wine bottles with artist designed labels.
Thursday, March 06, 2003
When these arrive I am going over to my studio to finish a painting which I am entering for a competition. The painting is called "The Green Flash" and was one that was in my Alleyoops show but I've decided it needs to be changed. This means it must be dry by Saturday when I am delivering it, so I must finish it today, so the postcards must be here soon! The competition is The Jerwood Painting Prize. It is won every year by really well known artists so I have no chance but I've paid my entry fee so what the hell.
Monday, March 03, 2003
1: I did it
2: I don't have to worry about anything breaking down anymore.
I forgot to mention before that I am the "director" of the gallery as well as the other things I do. We're working on the programme of shows at the moment which are
Sense and Sensibility
I'm also thinking about new art I want to make, but as so often happens post show, can't decide which idea to follow first. So I'll probably check out some other shows this week and write my piece for the new Arty - scandal issue.
Anyway - saw Arsenal yesterday and they won 2:0 against Charlton which means we are 8 points clear. Thierry Henry was great and it made me very happy.
Sunday, March 02, 2003
Phantoms of Unease (Reflections on glamour, fetish and transformation)
Alleyoops: Cathy Lomax
110a Lauriston Road London E9,
7 Feb – 2 March 2003
“So I turned myself to face me
But I’ve never caught a glimpse
Of how the others must see the faker
I’m much too fast to take that test”
Changes – David Bowie
On entering the gallery (through a narrow corridor) the viewer is confronted by a full-length mirror which inadvertently screams. The effect is disconcerting, inducing a slight gasp which literally makes the viewer take a step back (in skateboarding terms alleyoops means to skate backwards) this feeling of being “tripped up” or caught in the site of unknowing is further explored in the main room of the gallery which is filled with various portraits of masked figures. They range from paintings of children1 to images taken from fashion magazines (Blitz Girl, Fashion Girl, Wonder Girl) to the more sinister Fetish Girl (with all the inherent connotations of sexual deviance and to the music hall grotesque of Victorian pornography in The Deadly Phantom The titles suggest both a secret anonymity (the exotic pseudonyms of call girl cards) and the comic book potentiality of the superhero. The what if pretending of multiple personality. These figures guard their secrets behind their masks.
The walls in the gallery have been painted a steely grey which adds both to a feeling of containment (these faces are locked forever in the mausoleum of their painted frames) and to dislocation, the figures float in their own hypnagogic phantasmagoria. Vintage chandelier crystals hang from the ceiling, disrupting the solidity of the painted frames whilst a barley audible soundtrack of glass tinkling replays a manic cacophony of hallucination.2
In Alleyoops we are in the “upside down world” of subjectivity, where nothing is quite as it seems. In Phantoms of the Brain (Human nature and the architecture of the mind)3 VS Ramachandran, reflects on the nature of personality and surmises that “Everything I have learnt from an intense study of ‘normal’ people and from patients who have substantial damage to various parts of their brain, points to an unsettling notion that you can create your ‘reality’ from mere fragments of information, that what you see is a reliable but not always accurate representation of what exists in the world”.
Thus, the mirror screams out its refusal of reflection and repositions the desiring abracadabra of fascination4. But this scream is also the scream of adulation, the teenagers’ scream of idol identification the lure of a dip into the pool of promised glamour.
This kinaesthetic twinkling world of tacky magic is haunted by the ghost of its own melancholia. Like the beautiful Orpheus’ catastrophic gaze as he ascended from the underworld, looking back he was lost for ever, the spell was broken.
1: The painting Sick Boy delineates that “indecisive moment” of a photograph which never makes it to the family album, the bleary eyes of a poorly eight year old hidden behind an oversized “lone ranger” mask, In Cat Boy Lomax paints a kind of goofy anthropomorphic figure (boy becoming animal)
2: Marina Warner - The Inner Eye (Art Beyond the Visible), The South Bank Centre - 1996 (a national touring exhibition organised by the Hayward Gallery).
Warner follows her introductory essay in this catalogue with a short dictionary in which are explained some of the principal manifestations and exponents of the Inner World that is her subject:
“Hallucination: distinguished from illusion in that its subjects while materially absent, are true cognitive experiences overpowering the capacity to discriminate between fantasy and reality.”
3: VS Ramachandran, Sandra Blakeslee, Phantoms in the Brain and Architecture of the Mind - 1998, fourth Estate Limited.
4: The word fascination has an origin in Latin for casting a spell by visual means (as does the word glamour)