Archives for posts with tag: Modern Art

Patrick Caulfield @ Tate Britain

Three words..



 PC 3



PC 1


Still can’t get my head around Gary Hume though.

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.

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.

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

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…………


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

Runs until 14th July

Marcus Coates @ Kate MacGarry

Marcus Coates is an eccentric (to say the least) conceptual artist. His work centres around the link between the human and animal world, often refashioning himself in the mindset and image of an animal to become a conduit between the two worlds and to aid communication between the inhabitants of both.

Looking at the work “crucifixes for various amphibians 1973 – 2000”  He appears to have began his artistic career torturing animals rather than channeling their thoughts, but he was only 5 so i’ll let him off. We’ve all tortured a few animals in our time (i remember getting a newt stoned with my mate Piers once).

Coates work makes me laugh. I really like his “Self portrait underground (worcestershire)”, pictured top, that really made me chuckle. There is no doubt that if Marcus had experienced a less supportive upbringing he would probably be that strange man who sleeps rough and everyone knows in your local town but crosses the road to avoid. But i bet we all secretly wish we could live a life free of societies self imposed boundaries. And to top it off Coates is getting paid for it. Who’s laughing now?

Don’t go and see this exhibition, it’s finished.

You can always visit this shiny website to find out more:

The Catlin Art Prize @ London Newcastle Project Space

More Collectors than ever seem to be happy to take a risk on a young artist . For those looking for something exciting and challenging, emerging artists can offer affordable unique works. (Lets face it, no one really wants editions).

One reason more people are buying “new” is the high cost of established artists driven by the increased demand for contemporary art in general. Another reason is that financial speculators see what happened to Hirst’s values over the last 20 years and want a piece of the action.

There’s also something else i believe thats driving purchase of new work, and it’s down to the rise of online curation. Cool hunting as it’s also known. New art imagery is snapped up and propagated on websites, tumblrs and blogs (look, you’re reading this now). What this does is create is a PR network for artists within the target market that is buying work: 30 something, digital savvy, highly paid, creative professionals. When an young artist is suddenly appearing worldwide, you’re getting some guarantee of “good” and thus more inclined to buy in.

The Catlin Art Prize is a prime example of the cult of the new. A great venue, great curator, great artists and hefty financial support from a sponsor enabling it to happen.  I thought the exhibition was brilliant. A really impressive show any artist would be happy to be a part of, even an established one. I listened to people chatting excitedly at the show, students i think, hoping it was going to be them next year. (and this was two days after the private view) My photos really don’t do justice to the quality of the hanging and the lighting. It was top class.

So if you’re a collector you can thank Art Catlin for making it tougher to find that fantastic new artist before everyone else. And we all know it’s not going to get any easier (or cheaper)

Here are my favourite three artists from the show:

First: Ali Kazim

My vote for best in show went to Kazim. His work is more reserved than a lot of the other artists, but still waters run deep. Kazim demonstrates incredible craft, emotional depth, and multi disciplinary talent. His obtuse self portraits, executed in pigment we’re so technically brilliant it was as if he was laying himself bare for everyone to see. The clincher though was Untitled (heart). A sculpture of gentle magnitude. Executed in human hair it was an beautiful metaphor for the fragility of the human spirit. I expect big things for him.

Second: Max Dovey

I really liked Dovey’s work. The idea of capturing the last day of terrestrial analogue TV resonated with me. All of a sudden I was a kid again, watching older relatives run around like headless chickens attempting to record the entire Live Aid concert, unaware that pretty soon technology would render this practice redundant. Dovey’s cassette collection is more likely to contain Jeremy Kyle and Quick Cash! loan ads, but I think it’s a more profound snapshot of society than anything else.

The Last day of TV is part document, part monument, part personal statement, and probably the best use of increasingly rare VHS tapes, ever. (Although with all conceptual artists I always sort of think they’re having me on, and those tapes are probably all blank, but then who’s going to be able to watch them soon? Dovey’s got us over a barrel). I’ll be watching closely to see if Dovey continues to create engaging executions whilst capturing the zeitgeist. If so, perhaps he’s got something.

Third: Jonny Briggs

Briggs has been getting plenty of shine recently. He’s currently at the Saatchi Gallery and seems to be the artist of the moment. The reason he’s in my top three is his mastery of a wide range of mediums. In the last year i have seen strong video, sculpture and photographic work from him. I don’t know if i connect with it on a personal level (strange, because i like dark work) But his executional skill and mastery of theatre within an image impresses me. A Standout work for me is “Regeneration”

The Catlin Art prize runs until 25th May. Go see it.

There might not be another show as strong as this till Art Catlin 2013.

Jeremy Deller @ The Hayward Gallery

Jeremy Deller has made me fall in love with community art. Normally the phrase would make me run a mile. I’d imagine blue rinse brigade sculpture workshops. But through the eyes of JD even forced creativity can be beautiful.

I’ll admit ignorance. Until recently i thought Jeremy Deller was a crime writer. I didn’t know he had won the Turner prize. I had no idea of the sort of art he produced. What turned me onto him was a BBC2 documentary on the eve of his current show. It covered the man and his seminal works. What i saw opened my eyes. I made a date in my diary to go to see it in the flesh.

This Saturday i turned up at 10am on the dot to make sure i was the first person in the gallery. This tactic paid off. The first room of the exhibition was a re-creation of his first ever exhibition, set up in his parents house whilst they were on holiday. As no one else was around it felt like i had a fairly intimate insight into the artists formative years, especially as i was able to sit on his toilet (trousers up obviously). You could see the embryonics of his future achievement on the walls.

To cut a long story short. The rest of the work was incredible. Deller facilitates and curates the human spirit. It’s conceptual art, but with substance, weighted to the gallery floor with the ballast of reality. I’m going to be straight with you. I was, on a couple of occasions, close to tears. Tears of joy.

I have trouble expressing how i feel when i see Deller’s work. When i try to describe it i have all this emotion inside my chest me trying bust through my ribs. I cant get it out quick enough. I try to post rationalise my feelings, but just start spouting empty rhetoric. It’s indescribable. It’s burning wonderment at how incredible life can be. It’s like stumbling across a beautiful sunset whilst on your way to the off licence, stopped dead in your tracks, rushing on the knowledge you were able to experience it.

Often art is designed to remind you of your insignificance. Deller is much more optimistic. An artist that is able to capture and distill the human spirit in their work. He reminds the individual how wonderful they are and that their life can mean something. Deller plants himself firmly on the park bench of life and keeps his eyes peeled. He encourages you to do the same. Thats what makes him a fantastic artist, and in my eyes one of the most significant conceptualists ever.

If I haven’t made it clear to you by now. I really, really, really enjoyed this exhibition.

Please i implore you, go and see it.

Ends 13th May.

Katie Paterson @ Haunch of Venison

Haunch of Venison is owned by a major auction house. So if an artist is picked up by them you can be pretty sure they will be around for a while. Good news for Katie Paterson then, who has a solo exhibition at the Eastcastle street venue.

When i read the press release from her 100 Suns exhibition, i was reminded of some suspect advertising awards entries:

If anyone reading this works in advertising they will be familiar with the term “scam” whereby an agency creates fictitious work, or produces work that was never commissioned or paid for by the client. All for the sole reason of entering awards and making the agency look really creative. Pretty much everyone does it.

Anyway these are excerpts from the HOV press release about Katie’s Work:

(1) As the World Turns (2010)

Adapted record player, vinyl record of Vivaldi’s four seasons

An adapted record player that rotates in synchronisation with the earth ( one revolution per 24 hours) playing Vivaldi’s four seasons. If performed from beginning to end the record would play for four years. The movement is so slow it isn’t visible to the naked eye, yet the player is turning imperceptibility.

(3) Black firework for dark skies (2010)

Firework remains, wooden display box

A single black firework set off under dark skies, in an unannounced location. It’s charred remains are now all that exists.

(6) Dying Star Doorbel (2008)

Sensor, loudspeaker

The sound of a dying star, a tiny hum close to a middle C, played every time a visitor opens a door.

I’m sure Katie’s creative intentions are genuine, and i can understand the emotionally uplifting nature of the ideas. But when you read stuff like this, and there is little craft to back it up, it does make you wonder if you are being taken on an interstellar wild goose chase.

To sum up. The ambition of Hirst spliced with the astronomical sexiness of Professor Brian Cox.

One for the conceptualists definitely.

Sarah Dwyer @ Josh Lilley

I’m not getting paid to cover Josh Lilley Exhibitions, it’s just that the gallery is in Fitzrovia and i love  walking the back streets north of Tottenham Court road. I often imagine myself in the post war years, wandering into a pub to find Francis Bacon and Quentin crisp discussing the merits of the british political system over a sherry.

Moving swiftly on.

Sarah Dwyers paintings are dynamic and spontaneous.  You do get a sense that she’s lets it all out on the canvas, but not in a violent grand action, more like gracefully poetic meandering way. Perhaps even with her eyes closed.

I especially like the textural intimacy. Different materials cohabiting harmoniously, in a ramshackle manner, within the confines of a canvas. The only straight lines are the frame edges.

I do have some reservations. There is little immediate impact or dynamism within the canvases. With a short attention span i find myself walking away quickly from each one. They are the sort of paintings you need to spend time with, or even live with. If you did i’m sure it would slowly draw you in and envelop you into it’s cosy world of ethereal abstraction.