Clare Woods @ Modern Art

Clare Woods is an artist that is tottering on the edge of stardom. She’s been taken under the wing of some of the arts biggest movers and shakers. Popular with young collectors, popular with old collectors. Just generally all round popular.

She has made some pretty monumental paintings in her time. Haunting landscapes that capture an unusual feeling, like when you’re a kid and you find a secret place in the forest and get butterflies in your stomach. It feels like the spirit of Peter Lanyon is there watching over the works, which is a good thing.

Her technique of spreading flows of oil paint onto metal is an interesting one and works to obscure the naturalistic details of her subject matter and transform them into more abstract territories. For her new show at Modern Art, Woods has made a series of smaller paintings under the moniker “The Bad Neighbour”

These new paintings don’t punch me in the stomach like previous works have. Most obviously the lack of scale causes me to focus more on the technique than i might do normally and i don’t think it holds up on a small canvas. The lack of detail purposefully employed to suggest abstraction ends up suggesting a lack of craft.

I feel perhaps Woods may need to adjust course if she continues to paint small works. Perhaps that gap should be filled by her drawings which i’ve seen and are lovely.

This exhibition is now finished.

www.modernart.net

The Russian Art Show @ Calvert 22

Any authorities reading this will be pleased to know that this exhibition featured no civil disobedience, no governmental insults, or even any vague subversion. (well perhaps a little bit). Calvert 22 presented an immaculately behaved set of artworks from the Russian equivalent of the Turner Prize. Out of everything it was the video artists that did it for me:

Victor Alimpev’s work  Whose is exhalation?  featured a group of choral singers of all shapes and sizes humming in unison whilst one of their number held their breath.

When an individual could no longer hold their breath, the groups humming stopped. Each member of the group took a turn holding their breath. The film at 15 minutes long was beautifully directed and had an amazing tension between the glowing warmth of the choral humming and the ordeal the individual was going through trying to avoid breathing.

Taus Makhacheva presented the work “let me be part of a narrative” To quote the press release “the film is about the intimate human drama of defeats and difficulty amidst the medals and cups” 

The section i watched captured the local (or perhaps even national) sport of dog fighting, and the issues of etiquette, hierarchy and honour within the pastime. It also featured some of the dogs on their day off looking very cute, which sold it to me. (i’m a sucker for a waggy tail).

Overall, the impression of Russian art i will take away from this exhibition was thus: Intelligent. Well presented. Well executed. A bit tame. But thats understandable, as no one wants to end up like Pussy Riot.

Runs until 16th September.

www.calvert22.org

Deptford X Festival

I’ve been attending an evening course at CSM recently and the tutor Sarah Sparkes recommend this festival to everyone, so a few of us went down to have a look.

Hew Locke – Gold standard

With 6 main exhibitions and over 30 fringe events it demonstrated South London’s considerable influence on the UK art scene. In addition to the fringe shows there were a number of open studios which was nice for the nosy people amongst us (me).

A couple of works caught my eye:

I really enjoyed the work of Wayne Lucas at the Blank Promiscuity exhibition. He had painted moss covered reclaimed pavement slabs in a deep crimson and engaged them in a precarious balancing act with a crystal decanter. The slabs looked as if they had been dipped in blood. Sculpture with an intensity of colour that would rival Rothko. Incredible.

Another great work was by Gareth Long. A two frame animated gif involving a perpetually anxious looking daffy duck. The artist was responding to the curator Paul’O Neil’s exhibition theme “Last Day” at the Old Police Station. Watching Daffy contemplating the futility of life was hilarious and moving at the same time.

Well organised and good work. I’ll be back next year.

Matthew Musgrave @ Supplement

I’ve got a lot of respect for painters. Sat in a studio wondering what to put on a blank canvas must be daunting. I like solving problems, but I can’t come up with the problem AND the solution, that’s just too much.

Matthew Musgrave can, it seems. His work is concerned with what to paint, how to paint and how to progress. His paintings feel like performative acts. At first you may think that he has generated them in a flurry of brushstrokes, a spontaneity that is rather attractive. But looking at them in depth reveals more structure. They seem almost algorithmic. Slowly varying patterns of movement, colour and mark making. It’s a painterly routine that evolves through the course of each work and Musgrave paints the same scene more than once to fully investigate the subject.

Some of the works could be interpreted as landscape paintings, but in actuality are small sections of his studio, or objects contained within it. The interpretation of what he is painting, i think, is key to his work. He paints what he sees, as he sees it in his mind. The viewer is then subsequently challenged to interpret the painting themselves, to decide what they are looking at. It works like a chinese whisper. The emotional effect equally so. One always finds delight in how that initial whisper can evolve into something unexpected and unlike anything you might be able to imagine.

(this image from Supplement website)

Go on, pop down and have a look. My photos don’t do the work justice.

 

Till Aug 12th

supplementgallery.co.uk

 

Sara Barker @ Modern Art

Sara Barkers’ sculptures hang in the gallery picking up signals. Who knows, they could be transmissions from another planet, or perhaps they are tapping your iphone. Either way they are designed to receive and transmit, and they want you to know they are listening.

The works look incredibly fragile, and take up a lot of space for such a small surface area. They are created from what look like cut up pieces of canvas or board collaged onto metal and wooden structures. They certainly emanate a gracefullness that belies the ramshackle construction. Careful though, one wrong move and the whole lot could come tumbling down. (don’t cough)

The colours and angles are pleasing to the eye, but leave me a little empty in the heart. They are most definitely sober sculptures designed to perform a duty. I think their individual personality and palettes are there to distract you from a more sinister purpose. (I’m still not sure what it is, although it definitely involves communications of some sort)

The modern day equivalent of a portrait with eyes that follow you round the room

Runs till 4th August

http://www.modernartinc.com

Guy Allott @ Madder 139

I caught this exhibition a couple of weeks ago on a sunny Saturday. They seem to be few and far between these days (sigh). Madder 139 is a tastefully converted victorian structure which, with the strategic inclusion of some Velux windows, literally glowed with the warmth of the sunshine.

Guy Allott paints what he describes as “half real” places. Part landscape, part surrealist adventure. Psyche meets Vista. Some of the canvases exhibit rich fauvist palettes and Van Gogh like brush work, but these gestural brush strokes only reveal themselves when you inspect them more closely.

Other works remain brightly coloured but monochromatic. It’s interesting to see the two disciplines of landscape painting and illustrative surrealism coexist on the same canvas.

When I’m faced with a beautiful view the things that run through my mind are often anything but related to what’s in front of me. That for me is where Allott finds a sweet spot. These paintings present a fairly truthful representation of the human conciseness in action.

Well that’s my opinion anyway. Care to input?

The exhibition has finished.

www.madder139.com

BA Art Practice @ Goldsmiths

I though this graduate show deserved a post because a) there was some great work and b) they produced a lovely catalogue of the show and not only that, they gave it away free!

I’d never been to Goldsmiths college before and can now understand why it is such a successful art college. How can you not be inspired when this is the view from your studio window:

So without further ado here are my favourite ten works in no particular order:

Alex-jeronymides-noire : A crazy potato sound system. (how could he know i love crazy potato sound systems?

Pedro Magalhes: Don’t you ever have an urge to call a number written on the street. I do. I’m gonna call this one when i summon the nerve.

Emma Sinclair: Harnessing youtube to make a rather interesting microwave based fireworks display.

Taneisha Kitchen: Bondage taxidermy.

Jolene Farren: Architectural and abstract

Kyungmin Lee (detail): Unusual bubble abstracts

Rose Fooks: The room smelt of cheap perfume. Thats not a title, it did smell.

Dominique Dunand-Clarke: Nelson esque office spaces.

Kat Day: taking you into the virtual world of a dolls house.

Joanna Ng Shuhui: Adding human sound effects to everyday moving inanimate objects, surprisingly enjoyable.

That’s all. Roll on the Postgraduate show.

http://www.gold.ac.uk/

Luke Rudolf @ Kate MacGarry

Luke Rudolf’s paintings are a joy ride for the senses. My eyes can’t help but follow every line, inspect every texture, daub and hard edge prism. I could easily spend all day pondering the effort that was lavished on them.

The canvases are full of visual obstacles, bi-polar emotions and art history references. Look carefully and you will see Lichtenstein, Miro, Picasso and Auerbach. You will also see graphic and technological influences. Rudolf has created a monster of addition, but boy is it an attractive beast.

I’m imagining a Jekyll and Hyde storyline emerging in the artist’s studio. The “Hyde” Rudolf thrashes about at night attacking the canvas violently, using paint mixed on the floor. The “Jekyll” Rudolf has to pick up the pieces the next day. He’s analytical, calm and controlled, placing prismic and looping vectors skilfully across the canvas to make amends for his alter ego.

I look at these works and wonder how something can be so out of control but so precise? Rudolf pulls off what would be an impossible balancing act for most painters, with absolute grace.

Some people will call these portraits garish and ugly. Don’t believe them. Look closely, they are full of beauty and poise. They are living breathing visages and they need to tell you something important….

come closer…………

PAINTING IS ALIVE!

Truly magnificent and worthy of at least half an hour of your life.

Runs until 14th July

http://www.katemacgarry.com/

Slade MFA @ UCL

Visited the MFA show at the weekend. Quick post but wanted to share this photo as i thought the dressing of the main building was absolutely incredible, something that wouldn’t look out of place in Venice Bienalle.

Overall the work inside was variable but there were some notable exceptions:

This photographer. I didn’t get a name. Can anyone help?

And the ever impressive Alexander Ball:

Worth a look if you’re in the area. I think you’ve got till Friday.

David Price @ Art First

So apparently Eastcastle street is the new Vyner street. The cutting edge is undergoing an exodus back into central London, which says something about how much money art galleries make because retail space north of soho is ridiculously expensive.

David Price is currently showing at Art First. A gallery that shows mid to late career artists (for example richard cook who is one of my favourite landscape painters) and also some much newer artists. Price is in the nu camp. He is an interesting printmaker turned painter who creates mythological landscape compositions that are beautifully executed in delicate and detailed line work, reminiscent of masters such as Brueghel and Durer.

I really liked these works (hence the post). They appealed not only to my pre adolescent love of fantasy board games and painted tin models but equally to my mature tastes for high craft and Intellectual endeavour. What really got me going were the way the semi opaque glazes were built up, creating an effect somewhere between a watercolour and a stained glass window. A bit of a nightmare to light for the gallery owner but lovely for the observer.

“The close of the silver age” – David Price.  Runs till 23rd June.

 www.artfirst.co.uk