Blog, Exhibitions

Lucian Freud The Self Portraits

This small but packed exhibition is on from 27th October 2019 until 26th January 2020 in the Sackler Wing at The Royal Academy of Arts Burlington House Piccadilly London W1J 0BD https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/

Ok let’s start with the biographical bit, Freud was born in Berlin in 1922 and moved to the UK in 1933 to escape Nazi Germany. In the late 1940’s he chose to make portraiture his primary focus of practice.

Freud had two obsessions painting and sex. Author John Richardson once remarked ‘ He turns sex into art and art into sex- there is no differentiation; the two aspects of his senses came together in the act of painting”.

Because Freud was renowned for his works of startling intensity, and for frank, often disquieting nudes, he often required his models to sustain uncomfortable poses for long periods of time. Freud stated that it was only fair that he should subject himself to the same process.

The exhibition shows his work from his early years, including his painting Man with a feather (self portrait 1943) It was exhibited in the Lefevre Gallery in London in 1944.

The first portraits are in pencil and or ink. Encouraged by his mother, Freud had drawn obsessively since childhood. His approach to painting at this time was marked by a preoccupation with line, combining expressive force with a quality of draughtsmanship that led the critic Herbert Read to describe him as the ‘Ingres of Existentialism”

From around the mid 1950’s Freud turned his attention away from drawing to painting, and for a period of about seven years stopped drawing altogether. In order to free up his painting he stopped painting sitting down and from then on painted standing up. His last painting made sitting down is Hotel Bedroom 1954 and is a double portrait of himself and his second wife Lady Caroline Blackwood.

Between the 1950’s and the mid 1960’s Freud’s painting gradually freed up. In 1961 he took up using watercolours, replacing the linearity of pen and pencil with loose painterly washes.

From the mid 1960’s Freud used Mirrors to help him paint his own likeness. He didn’t use photographs and only kept mirrors in his studio not in the rest of his house. He liked the way that a mirror could suggest a new and unexpected angle or perspective.

Freud said of himself ‘ My work is purely autobiographical. It’s about myself and my surroundings…I work from the people that interest me and that I care about in rooms that i live in and know.”

Throughout his career Freud held a succession of London Studios, in Holland Park, Paddington and Notting Hill. They provided the stage for his encounters with sitters- each an intimate environment that was erotically charged.

A series of exhibitions in the late 1980’s and 1990’s cemented Freuds reputation internationally. From then on he held an exhibition every year for the rest of his life. He continued to paint self portraits that display his self- possession and extraordinary mastery of colour, form, light and shade.

Freuds late self-portraits become increasingly built up with thick layers of paint sometimes smoothed at others scratched as though responding to the changes in his physical appearance. He almost disappears into the surface. there is a narrowing of the space between the painter and his work. This is a very popular exciting exhibition and you will need to book to see it.

Blog, Exhibitions

Antony Gormley at the Royal Academy

Antony Gormley is an internationally renowned sculptor. Known mainly for his huge sculptures such as Angel of the North. This exhibition covers his work from his early beginnings in the late 1970’s to his latest works.

            The human body is at the core of his practice, but he is not interested in realistic likenesses, or depicting an ideal form. For Antony Gormley the body is a vessel for feeling. It is both the unique site of our individual journeys, and the one thing we all share.

This exhibition has work I had not seen before, including works on paper, fabric and other media. I loved his sketch-books full of workings for his often very complex sculptures.

            There is one particularly unusual wall hanging made from white pieces of bread hung together in a grid with a cut out human form made by biting into them. Called Mothers pride !

            Another fabulous wall hanging is made from clay and blankets and is from 1983 and is called Blanket Drawing.

            As you enter the courtyard of the RA curled up on the floor is a tiny figure, which were it not for people around taking photo’s, it  would be very easy to miss. The life size cast iron form is of his daughter when she was six days old.

            One of the first rooms you enter is full of slab works, they are dense hard, edged and look like enormous bronze versions of Lego bricks. They are extreme geometric abstractions of the human form. I persuaded a friend to sit next tone of them.

            In one of the smaller galleries is a single life-size body form, with head bent, contemplating the ground on which he stands. He is formed of tightly packed vertical and horizontal steel bars that map the internal space of the body.

            Clearing VII 2019 is an amazing space the artist calls it ‘drawing in space. In this interactive sculpture the viewer climbs in and out and walks round the room that consists of 8 kilometers of square section aluminium tube, coiled and then allowed to expand and uncoil until restricted by the walls and the ceiling.

            Lost Horizon 2008

Inside the gallery, gravity appears to be defied and space folds in on itself as bodies project from all sides, floor and ceiling all at odds with one another. The works are perpendicular to the rectangular architecture of the room, the effect as you move between them is disorienting.

            A more recent work is Cave, it is a sculpture on an architectural scale. The work can be walked into or you can walk round it. Inside it is dark and the viewer or participant has to feel their way through relying on senses other than sight.

            Another 2019 work is Host. A room filled with an expanse of clay and seawater. Described by Gormley as ‘an invasion of the inside by the outside’, the work provides a stark contrast to the gilded ceiling of the nineteenth-century gallery

This is a breath taking awe inspiring exhibition well worth a visit.

Blog, Exhibitions

Queer Portraits by Sarah Jane Moon

Currently on Show at the Gallery Downstairs at The Department Store 248 Ferndale Rd London SW9 8FR

2nd -14th November 2019 Opening hours 10.00-17.00 Nearest Underground: Brixton

I happened to be walking in Brixton last Sunday when I came across a sign advertising an exhibition of portraits. What a piece of serendipity, these are colourful joyful and an outstanding collection of portraits.

Sarah Jane Moon is an award winning professional painter based in London, who exhibits and teaches regularly in the UK and abroad. Her portraiture frequently explores identity, sexuality and gender presentation.

Moon’s portraits represent a cross section of contemporary queer LGBTQ+ life and love. Her subjects are often people close to her or whom she admires greatly for their commitment to live authentically and forge ahead in their chosen industry.

Those depicted include writers, landscape designers, doctors, lawyers, artists and more, and together they create a powerful statement on contemporary life lived with pride.

Moon has been gaining increasing attention this year and this solo exhibition follows swiftly on from her inclusion in the prestigious Royal Society of Portrait Painters Annual Exhibition(9th -24th May 2019, Mall Galleries, London and the internationally renowned and highly competitive BP Portrait Award Exhibition (National Portrait Gallery London- Currently touring to Edinburgh and Belfast.)

The subjects in Moon’s earlier portraits are presented in their backgrounds, offices, sitting rooms etc. You get a glimpse of that person’s life, their choice of furnishings, books and their style. The backgrounds in her later portraits are abstract with bold colourful marks, your eyes are drawn to the subject who has been painted, rather than the peripherals of their life.

Insta @sarah_jane_moon

FB @sarahjanemoonart

Twitter @sarahjane_moon

Blog, Exhibitions

An Exhibition of the artist Clyde Hopkins

It’s a shame about Ray

An exhibition  to celebrate the life and work of Clyde Hopkins has just gone on show at a Linden Hall Studio, a contemporary art gallery, in Deal Kent.

Acid Country 2014

The exhibition includes the work of his many friends and fellow artists, however for this blog post, I am concentrating on his work alone, as it is so much bolder than the work shown along side of it.

Hepworth and BB King

I am not going to write many words here, as the work speak for itself. So look at the images and enjoy.

About the Orinoco 2013

This is a free exhibition and well worth a visit. His work  was shown in various galleries around the UK, as well as in the US and Europe.

Bordeaux Mix 2011

He was also a visiting artist in many art schools during the 1970s until becoming head of painting, then of fine art, at Winchester School of Art in 1982.

From Gorky’s dustbin

From 1990 to 2006 he was head of painting at Chelsea College of Art and Design, London, and he retired as emeritus professor at the University of the Arts London. He died aged 71, in 2018.

Another Bally Earache
Blog, Exhibitions

The Royal College Art graduate shows 2019

Last week the RCA opened their doors for the public to view the degree shows. As one would expect it was a mixed bag of styles, standards and end results. It was all fascinating. Here are some of the offerings from students studying in many different disciplines including, print, painting, photography and video, ceramics and glass, and contemporary art practise.

What do you feel is the purpose of art ?

Coming to a show such as this it raises many questions.

Is the purpose of art to hold up a mirror to society?

To open people’s eyes?

To add beauty to a dying world?

To give a new perspective on what exists?

To show skill and craftsmanship?

Here are just a few examples of the work that was on show.

MA Photography Antonia Attwood

The first artist shown above has developed her practise to show in visual terms what poor mental health looks like. She has made insightful video’s of people on the edge. Her work informs, enlightens and and educates the viewer.

MA Photography Mirielle Chambre

Having lost her partner to a freak accident, and already embarked on her MA, Mirielle’s work explores grief in its various forms and and attempts to to embody a sense of a personal and universal loss. The work considers clouds as feelings and a metaphor for grief.

MA Painting KonstantinosSkiavenitis
MA painting Jhonatan Pulido
MA Print Aoife Scott

The work of the artist shown above is about plastic pollution and its environmental impact.

MA Print Ying Yu
MA Contemporary Art practise Ao Jing
This art work is both a thing of beauty and a musical instrument
MA Ceramic Art
Anne Lykke

MA Painting Soaking in her sacred Waters by Kate Bickmore

Blog, Exhibitions

Cindy Sherman

National Portrait Gallery, London 27 June – 15 September 2019

Cindy Sherman’s groundbreaking series, Untitled Film Stills, 1977-80, is currently on public display for the first time in the UK, in a major new retrospective of the artist’s work at the National Portrait Gallery, London. Cindy Sherman, explores the development of her work from the mid-1970s to the present day. The exhibition features around 180 works from international public and private collections, as well as new work never before displayed in a public gallery.

Widely regarded as one of the world’s leading contemporary artists, Cindy Sherman, (b. 1954), first gained widespread critical recognition for Untitled Film Stills, the series that she commenced shortly after moving to New York in 1977. Comprising 70 images, the work was the artist’s first major artistic statement and defined her approach. With Sherman herself as model wearing a range of costumes and hairstyles, her black and white images captured the look of 1950s and 60s Hollywood, film noir, B movies and European art-house films. Building on that layer of artifice, the fictional situations she created were photographed in a way that recalls the conventions of yesterday’s cinema. As a result, each photograph depicts its subject, namely the artist, refracted through a layer of artifice – a veneer of representation. 

Cindy Sherman at Private View – National Portrait Gallery

It is important to realize this is in no way similar to today’s instagram selfies. Unlike those who post themselves on instagram, wanting to be seen and admired, Sherman uses herself as a blank canvas that is hidden, transfigured and disguised. The exhibition sees all five of Sherman’s Cover Girl series, completed when she was a student in 1976, displayed together for the first time. Other key works are from the artist’s most important series including Rear Screen Projections, Centrefolds, History Portraits, Fairy Tales, Sex Pictures, Masks, Headshots, Clowns and Society Portraits. In a revealing juxtaposition, Ingres’s celebrated portrait of Madame Moitessier has been borrowed especially for the exhibition and is displayed alongside Sherman’s version of that historic painting.

‘Centrefolds’ was a commissioned piece by Art Forum magazine in 1981. It was presumed that Sherman would photograph women laid out for delectation of the male gaze, but instead she showed women as a psychologically frail, and with personality. The work was rejected by Art Forum as it showed an opposite impression to delectability, that of vulnerability.

Cindy Sherman is at once disgusted and fascinated by magazines. Between 1983- 84 she was asked to produce some fashion shots of the clothes of Jean Paul Gaultier so she shot them, on her disguised self, looking fraught, depressed and deranged. The irony is, that the more she attacks the fashion industry the more the fashion houses love her work.  

Cindy Sherman focuses on the artist’s manipulation of her own appearance and her deployment of material derived from a range of cultural sources in order to create imaginary portraits that explore the tension between façade and identity. She is famous for her use of make-up, costumes, props and prosthetics to create complex and ambiguous photographic images. A range of source material from the artist’s studio is shown in order to provide unprecedented insights into her working processes. Taking a quotation from Alfred Hitchcock’s 1954 film, Rear Window, which Sherman has cited as an important influence: ‘Tell me everything you saw and what you think it means’ as its central theme, the exhibition examines in detail Sherman’s rich and varied visual language – which draws on cinema, television, advertising and fashion.

Paul Moorhouse, Curator, Cindy Sherman, says: ‘Cindy Sherman’s art is completely distinctive. By inventing fictitious characters and photographing herself in imaginary situations, she inhabits a world of pure appearance. No other artist interrogates the illusions presented by modern culture in such a penetrating way – or scrutinizes so tellingly the façades that people adopt. Probing the elusive connection between appearance and meaning, her work explores contemporary life – and with sharp observation exposes its deceptions.’

Cindy Sherman is curated by Paul Moorhouse, independent curator and writer, formerly Senior Curator of 20th Century Portraits and Head of Displays (Victorian to Contemporary) at the National Portrait Gallery. He is the author of Cindy Sherman, published by Phaidon in 2014.

Cindy Sherman  27 June – 15 September 2019 at the National Portrait Gallery, London www.npg.org.uk

Tickets without donation: Full price £18, Concessions £16.50

Tickets with donation: Full price £20, Concessions: £18.50

Free for Members and Patrons

Cindy Sherman is sponsored by: Calvin Klein

National Portrait Gallery, St Martin’s Place WC2H 0HE, opening hours Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Saturday, Sunday: 10.00 – 18.00 (Gallery closure commences at 17.50) Late Opening: Thursday, Friday: 10.00 – 21.00 (Gallery closure commences at 8.50pm) Nearest Underground: Leicester Square/Charing Cross General information: 0207 306 0055 Recorded information: 020 7312 2463 Website www.npg.org.uk

Blog, Exhibitions

AWAMAKI

As part of the Weavers of the Clouds exhibition there is a section on the weaving of the women who make up Awamaki, a non-profit organization that connects artisan women in the Andes to global markets.

Here is some of the work designed and made by 21 weavers in the community of

Walaquilla Kelanca.

Each of the 21 weavers took images from their daily life and wove a piece that illustrates them, images include llamas, alpacas, birds, ducks, bats, turkey, deer, condors, houses, cornflowers, stars, eyes, foxes, native plants, mountains, lagoons, parrots, dogs, Andean geese Huallata, hummingbirds and owls.

Awamaki was formed in early 2009 to support a cooperative of 10 women weavers from Patacancha, a rural Quechua community in the Andes of Peru. Awamaki’s founders, Kennedy Leavens, from the U.S.A, and Miguel Galdo, from Peru, had worked together at Awamaki’s predecessor organization with the weaving cooperative for two years. When the predecessor organization floundered and finally collapsed, Miguel and Kennedy formed Awamaki to continue their work with the weavers. The organization grew rapidly to include programs in health and education, as well as other artisan cooperatives and a sustainable tourism program. In 2011, Awamaki spun its health program off into an independent sister organization, and made the strategic decision to focus on income improvement and market access through fair trade artisan cooperatives and sustainable tourism.

         It provides training in product development, business skills and leadership. Artisans have the opportunity to share their culture and sell their crafts to tourists through Awamaki’s sustainable tourism program. They collaborate with international designers to make contemporary handmade accessories throughout the world.

         Awamaki’s guiding principle is that income in the hands of women is the best way to help families be self-sufficient. In the rural Quechua villages where Awamaki is established, men leave to work in the tourism economy, while women stay in the village to care for farms, homes and children. Although highly skilled in traditional crafts, most women do not read, write, speak Spanish or have anyway of earning money. 

         Meanwhile, as the rural economy has shifted towards paid labour, traditional textile arts such as spinning, plant dyeing and weaving have experienced a decline. Awamaki was founded to give these women the opportunity to earn a living while encouraging them to continue practising traditional crafts.

         Today, the majority of artisans who have been in the program for at least seven years earn the same or more than their husbands. They invest in the health and education of their families, and are building a prosperous, sustainable future for Quecha villages in Peru.

Awaki is based in Ollantaytambo, Peru, in the heart of  the Sacred Valley of the Inca. It welcomes volunteers, tourists and other in support of its work.