A Certain Kind of Light, Towner Art Gallery, Eastbourne

In need of some artistic inspiration so went along to the A Certain Kind of Light exhibition at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne yesterday. On view was a very eclectic mix of work which all involve lighting effects of some kind from various artists. Below is the blurb for the show and I’ve picked out a few pieces of work that I was particularly engaged in.

A Certain Kind of Light explores how artists have responded to light, its materiality, transience and effect.  The exhibition brings together artworks that reflect the relationship between light and a wide range of themes from brightness, colour and perception to transformation, energy and the passage of time. Encompassing paintings, sculpture, video, photography, drawing and immersive installations, it features artworks created from the 1960s to the present day by almost thirty leading artists including David Batchelor, Ceal Floyer, Raphael Hefti, Runa Islam, Anish Kapoor, L S Lowry, Katie Paterson, Peter Sedgley, Rachel Whiteread and Cerith Wyn Evans.

Given its function as the basis for vision, light has long fascinated artists as both a material and as a subject. The exhibition considers the different ways artists have explored the various aspects of light, from its importance as a source of illumination, as a pure sculptural material, as a mysterious force and as a source of energy that can be conceptually converted into other forms’

 

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Angela Bulloch, Pink Chance Corner (1995) Perspex, glass, metal and plastic

Interior décor qualities that follow a set of rules. We see objects like this in their masses on department stores. Is this a comment on or poke at consumerism? The lights softly blink, like a pulse, a life form characteristic. The blinks are systematic, simultaneously and individually like there is some dialogue happening. The sculpture is positioned in a dark corner which also references the title of the work.

Anish Kapoor, Untitled (1995) Stainless steel

Where ever I position myself the work alters. I found this piece fascinating, largely as it draws on optical illusion effects which made me consider how artists explore relationships with surface, space, depth and scale. When viewing, the reflective surface captures its viewer, quite apt in the way in which we are continually recording ourselves

Brad Lochore, Shadow No52 (1994) Oil on canvas

During some of the Research Presentation discussions in February and March, phenomena in art was discussed a few times. Here, the shadows convey a transitory phenomena, a manifestation from the light. The concept of Lochore’s work is interesting. The shadows are not from real objects but from digitally manipulated photographs which are projected onto the canvas and then painted.

David Batchelor, Festdella (2006) Plastic bottles, low energy electric lights and festoon cable

This got me thinking about how we see illuminated lighting in urban environments. Using ephemeral fluid containers such as PET bottles, hair care products and cleaning agents, the lighting dimly-lit bottles softly glow resonating party or festive aesthetics.

Julian Opie, Indirect Lighting (1989) Rubber, aluminium glass, plastic, wood, stainless steel and florescent light

Again, like Bulloch’s work, Indirect Lighting is very industrial. I imagined a big deep-freeze display cabinet you find in supermarkets. However, there is a lot more going on. From its scale and shape, it appears extreme and powerful and its smooth steel exterior bears the hallmarks of comfortable, modern living.

Peter Sedgley, Corona (1970) PVA and pigment of canvas with kinetic lights

I didn’t notice the kinetic lights, very subtle, I wondered how it views in the dark. You can detect 1960s Op Art influences with the geometrical pattern and contrasting colours. The inner lighting defusing the pigment. The effect is multiplied by a sequence of alternating coloured lights.

 

The Expanded City Group Exhibition (London 2017)

A few weeks ago Jonathan posted us information regarding a group exhibition, The Expanded City in London which focuses on living in cities. As my current project fits the brief, I thought it might be worth my while submitting work which will also be shown later this year at the summer show. Also, I’ve submitted an animation, Alienation & Conformity (2015) which didn’t get the airing it deserved at the time of completion as I had to leave the MA course for personal reasons. Now everything has been sent off so two animations are being considered for curation.

THE BRIEF

The Expanded City is a group exhibition collaboratively curated by Goldsmiths Visual Cultures Society and the UAL Curation Society, featuring works from students across London universities.

This exhibition will explore the ways that life in London is organised and influenced by structures of capitalism. How do we, as cultural producers, shape the space we live in, and how are we shaped by it? Although published more than a century ago, the depiction of city life and its impact on the individual depicted by George Simmel in his text The Metropolis and Mental Life remains relevant. Those who live in the city are familiar with the profound alienation and anxiety engendered by a constant sensory barrage. The individuals living under total capitalism are denied the ability to change the social and economic structures that shape their lives. Life has been flattened: nothing now can be imagined without its presupposed monetary value.
The reach of the city has become ever wider. Accelerating developments in technology and communication have resulted in the spread of cosmopolitan values through mass media. The city has expanded beyond the physical, and into the transcendent connective platform of the digital, bringing together people in an unprecedented scale.
The density of the metropolis has facilitated spontaneous cultural collaborations, projects and ideas. With this countercultures demand and produce autonomy over their work. The city as a centre of production in turn attracts more producers. However the resilience of the market-economy has absorbed the aesthetic strategies: the search for authenticity and self-management are now used to promote the conditions required by the current model of neoliberalism. How do artists react to the conditions of the contemporary expanded city with its effects, infringements, and limits that affect the experiences of mental life?
The Expanded City envisions an invisible and vital part of the city (and the mental life) and the impact it has on cultural producers. This compounding of sensory information and the subsequent anxieties it draws on, will provide the opportunity for students and members of the public to collectively resist the solitude felt within the city.

Submission:

Disruptive Technologies (motion tween animation complete, 2017)

 

Artists are invited to submit a PDF (no more than 15 MB) containing:
– Contact details, including place and course of study
– An artist’s statement (maximum 200 words)
– Up to 6 images of works to be considered
– Up to 300 words explaining how your work relates to the concept of the expanded city
Submissions will be accepted until the 23rd of March (midnight) sent to expandedcity@gmail.com
Our aim is to promote London based students and to give them a platform in which they can share their own original ideas and contribute to a wider artistic discourse. We encourage the use of different media in order to open the field to experimentation at various levels.

Towards Night Exhibition at the Towner Art Gallery

Yesterday I went to see a very engaging exhibition titled, Towards Night at Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery . The show  explores the theme of nocturnal and is curated by artist and senior lecturer in Fine Art at the University of Brighton Tom Hammick  (incidentally a former graduate of Camberwell College of Art). Apparently, this exhibition had been in the pipeline for the past three years. You can see why; such an eclectic mix of roughly a 100 pieces of artwork from 60 artists. The artists ranging from the very famous to the relatively unknown and spanning over the past 250 years. I thought the mix of artists made the exhibition much more captivating. It must have been a hell of a job organizing and asking for works by big names such as J.M.W. Turner, William Blake, Hiroshige, Julian Opie, Emil Nolde and Edvard Munch to be loaned out. While reading Hammick’s in-depth reviews on each piece of work in the guide, one particular comment caught my attention, (the passage begins referencing a Hiroshige exhibition) “This exhibition showed the importance of historical work on current practice, and exemplifies one of the main themes in this (now) exhibition; that artists, like writers and poets, so often look back to earlier work as a source of inspiration and aesthetic” Yes! I couldn’t agree more.

 

A few selected pieces and thoughts :

emil-nolde-the-sea-b-1930Emile Nolde (The Sea B, 1930 oil on canvas). A very dramatic and inflamed seascape. The strength of Nolde’s moving, powerful swirling waves and clouds could be an interpretation of the uneasy political chaos in Europe at that time. I feel that the artist was enduring such loneliness and hopelessness at this time. Worse was to happen to Nolde, in 1941 he was banned from painting, even privately!

 

 

 

J.M.W. Turner (Fishermen at Sea, 1796 oil on canvas). When I think Turner painting, I think of light, dramatic landscapes and seascapes not something dark like this seascape. There’s a lot the viewer is drawn into here, the peril and the fragility of the defenseless fishermen on the boat, the waves at their mercy while the dim moonlight peaks through. While observing, I considered Turner’s process, the days before cameras. The preparatory drawings would be interesting to see too.

j-m-w-turner-fishermen-at-sea

 

 

Peter Doig (Echo Lake, 1998 oil on canvas). The sheer scale of this painting blows you away. On first viewing I thought it was a scene from a film. I wasn’t wrong though the film I couldn’t detect. Apparently, it’s a film still from the horror film, Friday the 13th. The scene depicts a policeman standing over a lake (Echo Lake) with his hands to the side of his head. The flashing lights of the police car in the background make the narrative all the more engaging. I’m unfamiliar with the film so I’m left wondering what happened before and what is going to happen. What and why is the isolated figure calling out? peter-doig-echo-lake-1998

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Julian Opie (View of Moon over Manatsuru Peninsula, 2009 ink on paper).

julian-poie-view-of-moon-over-manatsuru-peninsula-2009

From historical background, I found out that Julian Opie and Utagawa Hiroshige have something in common. Both artists have celebrated places of walking pilgrimage at night in Japan. This made me consider my own practice in Japan, whilst I haven’t celebrated walking pilgrimages at night, I’ve celebrated old farm houses in the day in Japan with my cyclogeography  series. Here, Opie pays homage to Hiroshige with this lenticular print. I find the reflectionary, tranquil, peaceful surface absorbing.

 

 

Michael Craig-Martin (Ashtray, 2015 screenprint).

This iconic image shows that the curator has really thought about the nocturnal visual from every possible angle.  For me, Craig-Martin’s piece conjures up those spaces where life begins at night.The nightclub: neon lighting, movement, liquid and pill consumption, a pulsing beat and smoke. However, the artist has gone against the grain. The narrative doesn’t have any suggestions of smoke nor is a dirty ciggy butt playing central to the composition. What we do see is something clean and ultra-cool  lying static, suspended in negative space. Abstract realism? michael-craig-martin-ashtray-2015

RAUM Gallery, London Pop-up Show November, 2016

This week marked an historic occasion for me. It was the first time I’ve exhibited artwork in almost 20 years. A big ‘thank you’ to friend and MA Fine Digital course participant, Terry Quinn who kindly curated a selection of rotoscope animations for me at the RAUM Gallery in London. Currently working in Saitama, Japan, I was just content to visualize and imagine the scene. However, Terry posted me a few snaps and a video of the show this week. Seriously, it was like giving a blind person vision!

 

 

A bit about the RAUM Gallery by Jane Cuppage , May 2016

RAUM Gallery is an artist run project space that collaborates with students and emerging artists to provide an area of exchange inside the realms of the University of the Arts environment. RAUM – (the German word for space), is described by Martin Heidegger as a “happening, a taking place”. In Building Dwelling Thinking, Heidegger states that, “only something that is itself a location can make space for a site. The location is not already there before the bridge is. Therefore, a space is something that has been spaced, or made room for.”

RAUM Gallery attempts to challenge these happenings and make us think about space by allowing a constant changing programme of exhibitions, experimental projects and performance events to take place. Its uniqueness is described by its small scale and unusual form. It enables us to think of space as an event of exchange, an occurrence of social importance that encourages dialogue between students, staff and artworks.

Until now we have managed to do several exhibitions achieving its goal of creating dialogue between students from different colleges across UAL. In early May RAUM Gallery invited a selection of students from Foundation Diploma in Art and Design to exhibit pieces from their final show. A prize was awarded to Foundation student Madeline Robinson from the painting pathway.

Opera City Gallery: Gerrit Rietveld

rietveldbruna-ado-exhibition-2016Today I got the opportunity to go to see the Dutch Modern Design exhibition at the Tokyo Opera City Gallery in Shinjuku. The exhibition consisted of work from Gerrit Thomas Rietveld,  Dick Bruna and Arbeid Door Onvolwaardigen (a Dutch children’s furniture manufacturer). However, it was Rietveld, the artist from the De Stijl (the style) movement, which I was particularly keen to see. Having seen some of Rietveld’s work in previous exhibitions, this collection of his industrial and architectural designs was much more comprehensive by comparison. Pity that the gallery has a strict policy on taking photographs, so I had to make do with a few recorded notes and thoughts of the exhibits on a piece of scrap of paper.

elling-sideboard-1919

Before the conception of Reitveld’s radical, Red and Blue Armchair in 1917, exhibited were chairs which bared similar hallmarks by appearance. Rietveld’s earlier designs had a rawness about them. Uncomplicated and simple by appearance. The exhibits were displayed in an order which conveyed the designer’s progression; not only in his chair designs but also tables and buffet cabinets. A central characteristic was emerging in his work. The focus being on spatial, very simplified geometric forms and making use of new technologies and available materials at that time.

berlin-chair-1923

 

 

red-blue-chair-end-table-1923

Comments made by Rietveld on the Red and Blue armchair in 1919:

‘with this chair an attempt was made to allow each component simply to be, and that in the most original form according to the nature of use and material, the form, that is the most responsive, in order, through proportions, to achieve harmony with the rest. 
the structure helps to interconnect the parts without mutilating them, so that the one predominantly covers up the other or makes it subsidiary to itself as little as possible, in order that the whole above all stands free and clear in space and the form wins from
the material. this wooden joint makes it possible to construct a large chair like this with rails of 25 x 26 cm’
.

rietveld-redblue-chair-model-2016
Red & Blue Chair do-it-yourself kit

A nice touch to the exhibition were the model kits of the chair sold in the gallery shop. For only 900 yen (7 quid), I thought, I’ll have one of them! When constructing the 16- piece maquette, it kind of deepened my understanding with this simple yet one of the most celebrated works of the De Stijl art movement.

red-blue-chair
Red & Blue Chair Model

Mark Williams Exhibition

Mark Williams Exhibition Card

A few weeks ago I was invited to the opening of a solo exhibition by a New York-based American painter, Mark Williams . The exhibition was held in a stylish gallery, Art for Thought (which also serves as a café) in a plush area of Ginza in Tokyo. To be honest, I didn’t know a great deal about Mark Williams` work. The exhibition flyer stated his work leans to geometric abstraction and he’s been on the art scene for a while. Anyway, by going, I hoped I might even get the opportunity to ask him a question or two and learn something.

Mark Williams’ comment on the exhibition flyer:

‘I am compelled to create art. I am alert to the world around me-shapes, patterns, rhythms and colours. I see the way things are arranged, assembled and placed. These things capture my attention; get me thinking. I begin new work without a predetermined result. I follow my intuition. However, it is considered deliberate and controlled-completely intentional. The finished artworks are frontal but also they read laterally and spatially’

Taking his comments on board, for me, I viewed his work as making references to maps or something environmental. Living and working in New York, I thought that aspect would be an influence. I scribbled down some questions based on my assumptions.

1(i) In your own words, you say your work is very ‘controlled’ Does living in the New York environment influence your work in any way?

2 (ii) I view your work as making a comment on social relationships in cartographic form, is that how you interpret your work?

 

At the show he was given a smooth introduction in Japanese and in English by Art Alliance, lecturer, Yuki Miyamoto. A large number of the participants at the exhibition  were from Art Alliance which incidentally is a group which specialises in classes where students learn English through Art and Art History. Mark then offered a few comments about his work which Yuki translated to the audience.

During the course of the evening, I managed to get a few minutes to talk to him about his work. I got to ask him the first question. The answer was ‘no’ However, he seemed interested as to how I saw his work. The process element of his work I found particularly engaging. It all sounded very meticulous, a lot of attention to detail, considerations into rules such as parameters, guidelines and pre-mediated calculations regarding positive and negative spaces. My head was spinning at this point! Also, and I wouldn’t have noticed this, that his process involves a large amount of various types of sticky tape which is precisely arranged. I’m not sure as to what kinds of tape, though he did mention medical bandage. The canvas is then coated entirely in one colour, taped, then painted over before the stripping process begins. He also mentioned about his watershed moment coming around 1994 when his work dramatically shifted. I didn’t catch the main reason but having researched his work later, it may have been either his process or materials used. Our conversation also briefly touched on a few American artists that had made a life’s work out of recording their own environments. Hopper being one.

It was absorbing listening to him articulating on his work in such depth. I definitely got something out of going to the exhibition and felt inspired as a result. I only wish I had taken my voice recorder to the exhibition especially as he told me an amusing anecdote when meeting abstract expressionist Willem de Kooning for the first time. Sadly, it`s all a haze in my memory but a fond memory.

Below are a few of my favourites (not exhibited at the show).

                                                                                                                   

                                                                   

websiteIMG_5332[1]

Stand Out (2010) Acrylic latex on canvas, 20 x 24 inches

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

              

Untitled92008inkonpaper12x9[1]

Untitled #9 (2008) Ink on paper drawing 12x 9 inches

 

Further dialogue from myself and Mark Williams for historical discussion purposes

Dear Mark,

Thank you for your kind comments regarding my article last week. It was nice meeting you too that evening. I would have loved to have had the opportunity to chew the fat on art a little more with you. Anyway, I just have one small question that has been on my mind regarding my article. When viewing and commenting on others’ practice, I always try to maintain an accurate representation in articles as to avoid any fabrication or misunderstandings. However, there was some speculation that my question to you regarding the environment influencing your work could have been a ‘yes’. In my article I have clearly stated you said, ‘no’. During that evening I took notes as I had forgotten to take my voice recorder. According to my notes, I have written, he said, ‘Well, not exactly’ to my question. I took that as a ‘no’. Would you mind clarifying very briefly ‘yes’ or ‘no’ just for peace of mind as I wouldn’t want the article to contain any falsification. Thank you

Jason

June 5th, 2016

Jason,

My apologies for not getting back to you sooner.

My art is not directly based on or influenced by my urban surroundings.  I am not a nature painter.

My art is contingent on me making things (paintings, drawings, prints, Artist Books).  As someone once said, “Work leads to work.” Might have been Richard Serra.  I am not good at visualizing something before it is made.  How about this: One thing leads to another.  In the gaps are assessment, critique, puzzling, decision, and so forth that build up to the next set of actions (making more stuff).

All best enjoy the summer!

Mark 

 

July 23rd, 2016

Electronic Superhighway (1966-2016)

Aldgate East Tube Station.JPG

On my ‘to do’ list before I left the UK and returned back to work in Tokyo was to go and check-out the Electronic Superhighway exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery held in London. As the exhibition was on the low residency schedule, it wasn’t surprising to see the exhibition featured quite prominently on blogs during February & March. The reviews being both positive and negative.

As I entered the exhibition, my pre-conception was just as I had expected (i.e. an assortment of flashing, noisy monitors, indescribable electronic objects, videos being played in small rooms, selfie imagery, video games, a few installations and discarded keyboards and monitors in dilapidated states. Is this really going to be my cup of tea? , I thought. Stay positive. Also, it’s important to note, other than viewing the art, I intended  to pay close attention as to ‘how’ the artists had audienced their work. It’s an area that has been increasingly playing on my mind for some time now. Ever since the question was raised by a member of the panel in one of those UAL discussions  Jonathan had posted us last year.  Funny how something small can stay inside the mind but isn’t easily forgotten. Possibly as I had made notes on audiencing when attending the Camberwell student exhibition last July. I aim to comment more about audiencing in future posts.

Anyway, here’s my twopence worth on a few notable pieces:

As the exhibits didn’t seem to be in any chronological order, I began to make notes from the dark ages (i.e. 1960s when I was born!!) to the present day. One or two pieces from this period really caught my eye. The work of Swedish artist, Ulla Wiggen for one, especially her series of paintings in the 1960s where she has explored the inside of analogue devices. Pop art being the theme at that time and these paintings bared all the hallmarks. Also, it was interesting to note that Wiggen was a psychotherapist. You can see the cognitive process going on in her abstractions.

 

 

DSCN3040
Douglas Coupland , Deep Face (2015)

 

 

 

As we are consumed by the ‘self’ on social image, it wasn’t a great surprise to find artwork which referenced this aspect of social media. Douglas Coupland (Deep Face, 2015) has cleverly ‘arranged’ an engaging composition of which he uses four large scale, monochromatic, faceless, I.D. postured portraits. Each portrait have Mondrian geometric patterns as an overlay to cover identity. He makes a deliberate comment on facial recognition software. I found this piece very engaging though I’m not sure about the Mondrian graphics.

 

 

I was very curious about Lynn Hershman Leeson’s Lorna (1979-1982) as it was kind of different from the other work. Ok, the installation did involve a monitor but for me the artwork was memorable due to the psychological narrative which documents the life of an agoraphobic woman, Lorna. Once inside this lonely yet warm interior, you could interact physically; use the remote to watch scenes of her life. The viewer is invited into her story. Eccentric/menacing characteristics: She hasn’t left the house in four years and carries a gun. A piece of work that explores image culture and identity via a machine as far back as the late 70s. I was impressed!

Lynn Hershman Leeson.JPG
Lynn Hershman Leeson, Lorna (1979-1982)

 

 

A few years ago I bought a T-shirt with an image of Janet Leigh screaming (image from Psycho). I was drawn towards the ASCII style of the image. At the time I had no idea that the image was created by a recognized artist. But why didn’t I consider the artist? Prior to this course, I didn’t really pay much attention to artists who manipulated technology in their work. You could say I’m opening my eyes more now. I’m a bit more informed with Vuc Cosic’s work too. At the exhibition I came across more of his artwork. ASCII History of moving images (1998). Again he uses ASCII (American Standard Code for Information Interchange) characters which transform the visuals. A lot of his work borrows iconic work. In this case, he uses iconic imagery from films such as Taxi Driver, Casablanca and Ben Hur.

 

Another obvious piece that you knew would come across at some point was a comment on surveillance. In the wake of Tim Berners-Lee’ s HTML in 1990 which triggered World Wide Web.Rafael Lozano-Hemmer’s Surface Tension (1992) gives a nod to Orwell’s 1984. This work made me consider scale deeply. It was a key factor for this piece of work to become memorable. Apparently, this interactive installation was in fact the first eye which is able to follow the viewer around. However, I wasn’t aware of that fact when viewing.

 

 

 

 

 

Recording Britain: The Curator’s Talk

Yesterday afternoon Gill Saunders from the V&A gave a talk at Eastbourne’s Towner Art Gallery about the current Recording Britain exhibition. Below are a few rambling notes taken from the talk.

The Recording Britain collection is held at the V&A. The work is currently on tour, the Towner being the final exhibition (I think)

The scheme was set up by the director of the National Gallery, Sir Kenneth Clarke in 1939 as part of the official War Art Scheme

The Pilgrim Trust funded the project

Just over 90 artists; men and women both professionals and amateurs were commissioned to make ‘sympathetic’ records of vulnerable buildings (i.e. buildings ready to be pulled down), landscapes and lifestyles. Examples mentioned were inns, parishes, farms, follies and villages

Surprisingly, the exhibition documents areas of England at a staggering 95% and Wales at only 5%. Scotland not being included as it had its own project, Recording Scotland, again set up by The Pilgrim Trust .

Clarke intended the work should be documented by drawings and watercolours

Clarke thought at the time photography wouldn’t capture a true interpretation

Watercolour had more prominence in British Art though out of favour with the avant-garde and now considered a medium for the amateur

Edward Walker, an artist with very distinct, detailed style especially in his architectural drawings, made a series of observations back in 1940. ‘The disappearance of old England and its ever-increasing Americanization’ I thought that comment could be very relevant today.

Fish Street, Shrewsbury
Edward Walker: Fish Street, Shrewsbury (1943)

In similar character, Louise Puller disregards modernisation and has a contempt for town halls.

 

Charles Knight was commissioned to document the vulnerable landscapes

Value your local landscape, places which symbolise natural identity

References by John Betjeman,  the beauty of the villages

Many scenes from the collection depicting timeless landscapes, non-evident industrialization such as telegraph poles

Russell Reeve Fraston Tower in Suffolk. The decorative vernacular folly

Freston Tower, Suffolk
Russell Reeve: Freston Tower, Suffolk (1941)

County life scenes are the central focus, industrial landscapes are marginalised

 

Documented industrialization: Manchester shipping yards, Cornish tin mines

It was highlighted by a member of the majority of the work was recorded in 1940/1941. However, my interest was piqued when I learned that Laura Oldfield Ford , a graphic artist I very much admire especially for her punky, post-industrial landscapes, was also included in the collection. As her work is fairly recent, I wondered if the Recording Britain project is an ongoing project. Not sure if image below was in the collection.

Laura Oldfield Ford  Heygate Estate
Laura Oldfield Ford: Heygate Estate (2010)

 

 

 

 

 

 

Kenneth Rowntree, the conscientious objector

This afternoon I popped into The Towner  in Eastbourne to attend an Art Viewpoint meeting. The meetings are usually held on the final week of each month. The talk was headed by Corinne Farmer, who incidentally was a lecturer at Camberwell (small world), the informal discussion focused on three paintings by the painter Kenneth Rowntree. The paintings are part of the Recording Britain exhibition. Even though the talk was relatively short, it was very informative and not only did I become more familiar with the work of Kenneth Rowntree but also I learned another term- ‘conscientious objector’. More information regarding this term can be seen here . The Smoke Room of the Ashopton Inn was discussed at the meeting. For me, I found this particular painting verging on abstract realism, the abstract being the non-visible of wear and tear one would expect in an old pub. For example, a pristine looking dart board, the gleaming surface of the pub table and windows without smears. Another talking point was the non-figurative aspect of Rowntree’s work. I think there are parallels with the work of Edward Hopper. The next talk at the Towner, scheduled March 12, will be given by Gill Saunders, head of the V & A. She will be discussing the origins and aims of the exhibition, Recording Britain. A bargain for only £6!

Kenneth Rowntree

The Smoke Room of the Ashopton Inn, Ashopton, Derbyshire. 1940 (V &A images)

 

Sorry, I couldn’t help myself. Below is archive evidence of myself recording Britain in the New Inn in Kewstoke, near Weston-Super-Mare in 1992. Like Rowntree, I should have omitted the figurative.

New Inn, Kewstoke (1992).jpg

 

 

 

 

The London Design Festival 2015: Curiosity Cloud (Mischer’Traxler)

Over the past week London has been the staging the Design Festival. Not to miss out, yesterday we got up earlier than usual, jumped on a Victoria bound train and headed to the V&A Museum to view some, not all, of the design movement which is scattered around the city. As we had arrived to the museum relatively early, it didn’t feel busy, the assistant at the entrance handed us a map and gave us a few recommendations. “Curiosity Cloud is amazing, get in the room before you have to queue!” she said with excitement. So we did just that, and we weren’t disappointed.

We entered a dimly-lit baroque interior (The Norfolk House Music Room)  with a handful of visitors. Curiosity Cloud is an installation made up of hanging mouth-blown  glass globes. Roughly around 250 globes. The glass is made from a Viennese glass company Lobmeyr. Inside each globe is a handmade insect which has been printed into laser cut foil and then embroidered to create the body. As I later found out, around 25 insect species which fall into the following categories were made: extinct, common and newly discovered. There was a tranquil, non-threatening atmosphere in the room. The representations of insects softly flickered and glowed within their glass space. However, when you walked closely around the globes, the insects would become much more animated. A sensory device activated by body temperature, I later learned. What a captivating concept to explore relationships between humans and the entomological world, I thought. I was even fortunate enough to speak to one of the designers, Thomas Traxler, who had collaborated with boutique champagne house, Perrier-Jouet on his project. He gave me some insight into the thought process behind the installation.

If you want to catch this rather impressive installation then you’ll need to head to the Champagne region of France.

Thomas Traxler having a word with my daughter, Moe.  Probably telling her not to get her greasy mits on the glass! 

 

During the day we saw many other interactive innovations and we were able to talk freely to all the designers too. Notable work included: Decentralisation and Data control by Industrial Design Graduate, Sarah Gold. Fixperts, solving problems by drawings with Mia which my daughter really enjoyed. Also, the video game Killbox,  which I assumed was just another video game with minimalistic, stylish graphics. However, the concept behind the game has rather serious, sinister connotations involving drone warfare.

http://www.killbox.info/

On reflection, being able to openly speak to the designers made all the difference. I could learn more about their practice and the thought process as a result. Even something small such as my perception of the word ‘interface’ has changed (A layer(s) enabling a user to communicate with a machine). As a designer said to me, a casual interface could be simply knocking on a door or waving from a train window.

 

 

 

 

John Virtue-The Sea

Yesterday I popped into the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne for two events. The first, a John Virtue exhibition and the second, a 90-minute talk given by the fine art photographer Ori Gersh.

John Virtue’s exhibition is a site-specific project, The Sea. The work extensively features the North Sea. As I entered the large show room, I was immediately engulfed by the huge black and white canvases. Scale and space, I thought, for this kind of work is key for the viewer to feel the full impact. Some of the canvases spanned four metres in size! Also, the non-use of colour (he considers a distraction) gives his subject matter a menacing feel. The moving waves felt strong, bold unflinching, uncompromising and dramatic. The vibrant and violent brush strokes had strong similarities to Jackson Pollock’s splatters.

His sketch books were also on view at the exhibition. As many as 70 sketch books largely documenting Virtue’s time on the coast line at Blakeney Point in Norfolk. It was amazing to see and understand how such a vast area of nothingness could be scrutinized and analysed with such intent.  After the exhibition, before going off to Gersht’s talk, I considered my next project and my time living and working in Tokyo. I had just witnessed how an artist communicates his large canvases through his location. What can I do? How can I do it effectively? What should I be observing and taking in?- Always questions, forever questions.

No 10 (2011-2013)
No 8 (2011-2013)

 

 

 

Ori Gersht-Don’t Look Back

As part of my research for my next project, Don’t Have Nightmares 0.2, I am looking at site-specific art where the artist uses a specific location to create a body of work. Last week I went to the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne to see the Ori Gersht exhibition-Don’t Look Back’. Ori Gersht was born in Israel in 1967. He is a fine art photographer and currently works as a professor of Photography at the University for Creative Arts in Rochester, Kent. In short, this exhibition focuses in areas which have endured extreme devastation. The show is divided into three bodies of work.

White Noise   documents a train journey from Krakow to Austvitz in Poland. The images echo the prisoners that were taken to the concentration camps.

Liquidation focuses the border between Ukraine and Romania. Gersht revives personal history. The imagery is based around his father surviving the holocaust as a 5 year old boy. Places where he was hiding or places he was staying during the WWII. In Gersht’s own words, ‘this work is exploring the subjective and the objective between what we know and what is seen’

Evaders  follows the journey by German philosopher Walter Benjamin. This is represented by a split screen reconstructing the journey of Benjamin. Screen one using an actor walking walking along the Pyrenees (apparently fleeing from the Nazis). Screen two uses footage of still images of the Pyrenees. Ambient sounds from the location connect the still and the moving.

Many of Gersht’s images have a very painterly characteristic. The images have an intense beauty heavily contrasting to the context. Having prior knowledge about the exhibition, I assumed I would be viewing dark, sombre landscapes (thinking representationally as usual!). I was very impressed with the body of work and how the artist combines his concepts with conflict, time, history and landscape.

Ori Gersht will be talking about his work at the Towner Gallery in Eastbourne on Saturday, March 28th at 3 p.m. Tickets: £6/£5

White Noise 1 White Noise 2

 

 

 

Objects of Disobedience

Yesterday my daughter and I went to see the Objects of disobedience exhibition at the V&A museum in London. Exhibited, was a wealth of unusual objects that have been and are used in movements to protest against laws and to topple governments. Interestingly, the objects range from things that are considered harmless such as teacups and things which symbolize provocation such as a spray can or a balaclava. As one of the exhibition notices read, there is no protest aesthetic. Activists work by media necessary, from mobilising folk traditions to using the latest technology; from interventions on the ground to actions on the internet. While viewing the objects, I did question the ‘no protest aesthetic’ remark. Probably it is not intentional to make objects such as paintings, stencils, badges, sculptures, vehicles etc, pleasing to the eye but the South American tapestries (Oppressive rule in Chile 1973-1989) with their bold colours and intricate stich work were a fantastic spectacle as was the Tiki Love Cherokee jeep (2007) decked out in decorative Polynesian design mosaic tiles.

Below are just a few examples with photos and a video of the objects and their purposes from my notes at the exhibition:

BADGES– Badges against apartheid. Badges to support the struggle against apartheid. (South Africa 1980-1994)

Free Nelson Mandela Badge (1984)

BOOK SHIELDS– book blocs shield us to represent ideas and understanding in the face of violence. Often used in demonstrations by activists with non-violent intentions.  (Manchester/London 2011)

Book Shields

VIDEO– Barbie Liberation Organisation- Anti sexual stereotyping (U.S.A. 1993)

SCULPTURE– Guerrilla girls feminist group- synthetic fur and rubber. Exposing sexism in the art world. (U.S.A. 1989)

Guerrilla Girls

VISUAL ARTS– Stencils used for artwork to protest in Syria.  Graffiti can be executed quickly and clandestinely as possible. Fighting for freedom. (Syria 2012)

Syrian Stencils

BIKE BLOCS– Mass civil disobedience against the COP15 climate summit. Machines of creative resistance. Organized in swarms bike blocs formed blockades and decoys supporting thousands on foot. (Copenhagen 2009)

Other objects of disobedience included t-shirts, banners, newspapers, defaced currency, catapults, PET bottles and guerrilla do-it-yourself manuals which incidentally, looked remarkably similar to the illustrations in The Anarchist Cookbook (1971).

British Tabloids

The World of Tim Burton Exhibition

The World of Tim Burton

This Christmas I was fortunate to have my family stay in Tokyo with me over the festive period. One of the events pencilled in was The World of Tim Burton Exhibition at the Mori Arts Centre Gallery in Roppongi Hills, Tokyo. I read about this exhibition about 5 years ago when it was held in New York’s Museum of Modern Art. The exhibition was attended by record breaking crowds and it received top reviews. Like many artists with extensive careers, Burton has been involved in so diversely different projects in genre and context. I wouldn’t say I am the biggest Tim Burton fan but there are some projects which I have been drawn to purely because of the concept, subject matter, character design or theme. We planned to go Saturday, December 27th. For an exhibition that started November 1st, I felt and hoped there would be no record breaking crowds and that Tim would not be in attendance. However, we still had to queue for over an hour to get in! I should have learned by now; never go to events at the weekend in Tokyo; it’s very likely that 10 million people will be in the queue with you! Below: Tim Burton exhibition entrance and poster. Notice the expressionistic interior entrance.

Tim Burton Exhibition Entrance.jpg Tim Burton Exhibition Poster.jpg
The exhibition was very extensive and was divided up into sections.  The artwork exhibited spans over four decades. I was amazed by the amount of drawings and illustrations exhibited. Burton has been so proactive, I thought.  Each section was based on a theme or project which customized the spectator’s viewing preferences. For me, I mainly wanted to view his early work, influences, inspirations, horror drawings, doodles on napkins and the work which learned heavily on German Expressionism influences (i.e. mise-en-scenes of Edward Scissorhands and Batman).  Below: Alice in Wonderland and Edward Scissorhands sketches.

Alice in Wonderland (2009) Edward Scissorhands Sketch

From his early work (16-26 yrs old), you could see how his future projects would take shape. Clowns, monsters, horror characters and bug-eyed people are predominantly his main interest. The children’s book writers Rohald Dahl and the cartoonist Dr Suess (Theodor Geisel) are noticeable early influences, especially the use of anapaest style of poetry; a very characteristic element of the Dr Suess children’s books which Burton mimics in his early work. Below: The Boy with Nails in his Eyes and The Queen of Cydonia

The Boy With Nails in His Eyes The Queen of Cydonia

Some of my favourite work is The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories. The illustrations are a mix of satire, black humour and misunderstood characters in the form of a monster/alien-like creatures. Viewing these original drawings on scraps of ripped paper, complete with smudging, scribbles and construction lines, I found all very engaging. I got a lot from this exhibition, even his unrealized projects. A wealth of art which didn’t even make pre-production. Great exhibition and a nice way to round off the year.

Daniel Rozen’s The Wooden Mirror/’Kirishin’ Exhibition-Nobuyoshi Araki

After scanning the Tokyo Metropolis Arts and Entertainment guide last Thursday evening, I didn’t see much in the way of exhibitions which caught my attention. Then, I noticed that I had just missed an exhibition at the Bunkamura in Shibuya which featured a piece of work (The Wooden Mirror) by Daniel Rozen. I had noted him at The Digital Revolution for his innovative piece called Mirror Number 10. The Wooden Mirror follows similar themes to Mirror Number 10. See below:

Anyway, I decided that as I had not been a photography exhibition for a while, that would be my aim. Finally, I came across an exhibition by the photographer and contemporary artist, Nobuyoshi Araki. I’m familiar with his work which to some is considered extreme and disturbing, I suppose it depends on how you interpret his work. He’s collaborated with quite a few famous artists over the years. I recall a collaboration with the musician, Bjork back in the 90s. His current exhibition is called ‘Kirishin’. There isn’t a direct translation for this word but the nearest is something like cutting photos with sentimentality. Basically, a play on words but as I later found out, the artist had been recently diagnosed with retinal artery occlusion that has caused the loss of his right eye. This explained the title of his last exhibition, ‘Sagan No Koi’ (Love in the left eye) and connections to his current exhibition. The 30 photographs printed from slide film and then cut and pasted together. Most of the images depict urban areas, daily life and humour. The awkwardly cut images suggest his state of mind from the loss of his eye. I wasn’t awestruck by this work but what I did get out of it was how the emotional narrative was clearly evident in Araki’s work and the methods he used to convey his state of mind.

Image from Kirishin exhibition by Nobuyoshi Araki