Archives for posts with tag: Conceptual Art

Phoebe Unwin @ Wilkinson

2There are basic emotions. Happiness. Sadness. Anger. Fear. These are like elements, the basic building blocks of Humanity.

Then there are more complex feelings that are more like chemical compounds. They can include the aforementioned emotions but are mixed with sensual stimulus, and context. Like smell, vision, memory and place, that are catalogued and recalled from the brain. These complex emotional compounds are harder to describe and often unique to the individual.

1Phoebe Unwin is all about capturing and recreating these emotional compounds in her work. Fleeting moments of life that are hard to understand unless you were there.

But what is Unwin trying to achieve by doing so? Does she want people to feel something or does she just want people to look at what she is feeling?

4If Unwin’s strategy is isolationist, i.e. not designed to trigger feelings or memories in other people and only present her own, Then for her art to be emotionally valuable to someone the paintings must be masterpieces (which, as nice as they are, are not) or Unwin herself must be emotionally valuable to you in the first place – therefore Unwin must be either Famous, or Infamous. Or have an intriguing personality which you would talk about to buyers.

If Unwins strategy is to evoke emotion within the viewer, Some paintings succeed. Her work is more effective when one can recognise context therefore triggering emotional response. But the more abstract works become defunct  – They are too gentle to evoke pure emotion (for example Rothko),  they are more likely to encourage critical analysis.

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I can appreciate Unwins brave pursuit of subtle complexity, but i reckon it’s a sticky wicket.

Runs till 13th October
Wilkinson
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New Contemporaries @ ICA

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Popped into this exhibition last weekend to have a nose around at some young guns, particularly at George Little who i’ve been keeping my eye on for a while. Unfortunately they had excluded his large canvas from the London edition of the show so was left with just a small painting and an installation to enjoy.

There was some excitement on my behalf though as i spotted none other than Mr Saatchi lurking in the bookshop. He looked a bit shifty, like he was going to lift something. You’ve got to give Charles his dues – he’s not an ivory tower sort of collector, he likes to get down and dirty with the students.

This iteration of New Contemporaries felt like a “light ” version of the Liverpool show. I guess the space in the ICA is limited, but i felt like i wasn’t quite getting the whole picture, especially after having a look at the catalogue. So in no particular order my highlights from the exhibition, which are mostly all painters:

Tara Tingleff   ( http://www.tyratingleff.net ) – header image is also hers.

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Anita Delaney  ( http://www.anitadelaney.net  – This photo shamelessly stolen from http://curatorcharlie.blogspot.co.uk/ )

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Emanuel Rohss ( http://www.emanuelrohss.com )

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George Little ( http://www.georgelittle.co.uk )

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Max Ruf ( http://www.maxruf.com )

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This exhibition is now finished but you can always check their website.

http://www.newcontemporaries.org.uk

Rana Begum @ Bischoff/Weiss

1 A particularly welcoming transatlantic gallery assistant greeted me upon arrival at Bischoff/Weiss. An invitation to talk me through the work was politely declined by this typically reserved english art lover, but the sentiment was most appreciated. Galleries have always been slightly intimidating places, but here and on subsequent visits this day, i met lots of friendly people. London’s art scene is becoming really approachable; it may be that art isn’t selling as well – a little extra sales patter is required. But i like it. A world away from a Gagosian experience, that’s for sure.

3 Rana Begum had come to my attention recently, she’s been getting plenty of press. A visit to the gallery afforded me a first view of her work in the flesh. I have to say i really liked it. Her slick minimal constructions might seem at first glance cold and lacking personality, but being in their presence made them much more spiritual. Gallery light reflected from the multicoloured, angled facets of each work, producing gradients of glowing hues across the gallery wall. It seems as if they are illuminated from behind, in a Flavin style construction, but  there are no extra lights involved. As you circumnavigate each piece, reflected light and colour evolve, dependent on your position in front of the sculpture. So in a way the work encourages the viewer to have a number of different viewpoints.

2 I do have one reservation. There is a heavy reliance on the white gallery wall. What happens when collectors who don’t have a white cube take a piece home, will it lose it it’s magic?

4 Get out there and spend a bit of time with Rana’s sculptures if you want to properly appreciate them. What seems to be simply abstract, reveals after a bit of quality time, a complexity that cannot be understood by viewing a flat image of the work.

They’re about till next Saturday, so get down there sharpish.

http://www.bischoffweiss.com/

Duncan aged 40 @ Skylight Studios

This former graffiti writer continues to progress into conceptual territory without giving up what he loves; making a mark. “Margate” the title of his latest exhibition explores the place that was once a Londoner’s favourite holiday destination, but after decades of neglect is now undergoing regeneration as a cultural and artistic hub.

I made the effort to visit this show on the east coast only to be greeted on arrival with a downpour of such magnitude it broke my umbrella. But my pilgrimage was richly rewarded. I discovered another strong collection of work from this passionate and convivial artist, who very kindly took the time to talk me through the work. Duncan continues to travel on his nomadic journey, acting as a conduit to the culture and history of each place he visits, via his multi media practice which includes performance, video, sculpture, printmaking and photography.

Setting up the exhibition was a video work. The artist had spent the day as a tourist, dressed top to toe in his trademark idiosyncratic, bootleg Ralph Lauren clothing (Shorts and t-shirt this time, but lucky for him it was sunny that day).

Like any visitor to the Margate beach who ends up using the local chalk to write their name on the surrounding walls, Duncan did the same, But a lot bigger. A series of photographs on aluminium and installations charted his use of sea water, chalk and a garden rake to produce 40 meter sand tags and chalk murals bearing his name. These monoliths were always meant to be transient and disappeared as quickly as they arrived due to the effect of the tide, sun and rain.

“Cats and Dogs”, took it’s title from from the weather based colloquialism. (Particularly apt considering my earlier soaking) It was a collection of homemade animal portraits collected from charity shops in the surrounding areas. I noticed one of the feline portraits was committed to paper in 1964. It was touching to see long deceased animals staring back at me from the gallery wall, I for one was happy they had found a new home.

Continuing his theme of printmaking with local delicacies Duncan presented “Bag of Chips” and “Donuts” , two unique portraits of these ritualistic objects. What lived a short life as a high carb high fat snack, became immortalised as an intellectual endeavour. What’s really interesting was the way the substances in the food (sugar on the donuts, oil on the chips) reacted with the inks to create a signature effect of their own.

I think the artist has captured the true spirit of Margate. On first view the work may seem a flippant, ironic take on the common man, but in reality it’s insightful, touching and just a little bit life affirming. With the cultural developments in the area, like the Turner Contemporary and growing artist community, the exhibition sums up the transgressive nature of the locality; documenting where it came from, and helping cement where it’s going.

Don’t visit this exhibition it’s finished.

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

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/