Friday, 23 December 2011

Neice paintings but erm, ne-phew and far between

At last a few paintings to show for 2011. I think these are the first I've ever painted using photographs as a source. They turned out surprisingly well, if I do say so myself!

These are portraits of my neices and nephew. They live overseas so I couldn't ask them for a personal sitting but, in any case, I doubt they'd sit still for long enough.

I've always liked the technique of using the background colour of the canvas to show through as part of the finished scheme. In these instances I deliberately chose a strong colour and painted the subject with relative colour hues. The green background, admittedly, was a bit of a challenge but Alfi, my neice, is a bit of an extrovert character so I'm sure she'll take it in good spirit!

All three are acrylic paint on canvas, 150x150mm.

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

Ai Wei Wei

Really glad to see the BBC "Imagine" programme tonight about Ai Wei Wei. What an exceptionally brave and clever guy he is! Of course, I'd first heard his name in architectural circles when he collaborated to design the 2008 Olympic Stadium. And then came across him again in his artist guise with his ceramic sunflower seeds at the Tate Modern. It turns out the sunflower and its seeds have all sorts of connotations for the Chinese population, a better symbol than I'd ever imagined. It was sort of ironic that the seeds were fenced off from the public ...because of trade union concerns about health and safety!

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Art and Sport

Apparently Wimbledon quarter finalist Marion Bartoli is also a painter and is currently completing a landscape triptych when she's not on the court!

It would be nice to think this is true, but then again it is probably the latest urban myth...

Monday, 27 June 2011

Cardiff Art College

...or whatever it is called these days, UWIC College of Art and Design? Cardiff Art College held its degree show last week and poignantly, after I'd signed on at the Jobcentre, I paid a visit. It is always a strange experience returning to the Howard Gardens building, which seems to be trapped in a time gone by and, like an old junior school, seems to be much smaller than I remember.

Earily still, in the 4th floor corridor there is a massive photo along one wall of the staff from the 1980's. I'm sure all of them have now retired or moved on, though the fine art technician of the time (Alan?) was still around, giving a talk to visitors about the exhibition. He exchanged a brief sort of 'Do I know you from somewhere?' kind of look.

As for the degree show it was a mixed bag as usual. In fact somed of the ceramics work was highly enjoyable and quite witty too. In contrast, a lot of the painting work was littered with far too many works called "Untitled". And where were all the artists' statements of intent? Are art students no longer expected to 'nail their colours to the mast', so to speak?!

Art seems to have decreased considerably in monetary value over the intervening 20 years. Ticket prices seem to be the same as (or less than) they were in the 1980's! Maybe this is partly because paintings have decreased in size too, what with the cost of paint and materials these days... Judging by the smattering or small red stickers, the public would only buy things that were small and under £200.

Anyway, aren't I in danger of forgetting that I'm now trained in architecture? Fortunately the WSA opened its degree show on the day CAD's closed. My egotistical unpaid musings as a blogging art critic will be suspended while I survey the displays of white cardboard, balsawood and over-complicated computer renderings in the Bute Building.

Sunday, 19 June 2011

Walls of Jericho

I went on a cultural mission to see some galleries last week in Oxford's trendy area, Jericho. It was a bit of a disaster, one of the galleries was closed because of an event, another had its door locked for no apparent reason and a third seemd to have closed completely!

However, after a very long walk along the Woodstock Road I managed to find the North Wall Arts Centre (embedded in the north wall of a boarding school). In the foyer was a fabulous exhibition of paintings and line drawings by South African artist Catherine Charnock. They were predominantly based on an area of woodland, but there were also a few paintings of urban scenes. together with cars, street furniture and brightly coloured city imagery.

The small black and white line drawings were exquisite but the paintings of the woodland were brilliant, layered in bold colours using a wide variety of methods of application, including a lot of drips. The drips of paint and other marks extended around the edges of the canvas - as she says in her blurb exploring "the dialogue between the paint and its canvas support".

Thank goodness I made it that far, the one exhibition was just the tonic for sore feet and a frustrating afternoon!!

Saturday, 28 May 2011

Silly in Piccadilly

An artistic and an architectural experience today in my quest to see as much stuff as possible before I leave London... namely the White Cube Gallery in St James's. Certainly a building for the architectural purists and an interesting contrast to its surroundings!

Current show is of George Baselitz. I knew he was a paintily painter and was curious to see this display. Initially my reaction was disappointment and antipathy, he seems to be an artist in his late bullsh*t period, having discovered the gimmick of hanging his paintings upside down.

This is probably harsh. There is an intelligent review of the exhibition which goes some way to convince me I should forgive him.

Next stop was the V & A for the exhibition about the British 'Aesthetic Movement'. This is probably one of the best and most engrossing exhibitions I have ever visited anywhere, well worth the £12 entry. It is fascinating that a movement which professed to promote 'beauty' in place of the staid symbolism of the Academy was seen as such a dangerous threat by the status quo!

Friday, 27 May 2011

Rich pickings in Shoreditch

A quick foray into Shoreditch this afternoon. Mike wasn't at Black Rat, but his grandly titled 'Four Cities' exhibition was a mini treat, showing works by Swoon, Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos and Banksy. The Banksy's of course were crisp and pithy but I really quite liked Shepard Fairey's stuff. He had painted and printed (generally in red) on top of a patterned collage of text, all with soft political overtones. My favorite was entitled "Kiss Me Deadly", of a large lipstick shaped like a missile.

After 20 minutes the rain eased, Mike still hadn't returned from his errand, so I headed off to the White Cube. Here was another unexpected treat, an exhibition of work by Friedrich Kunath. The White Cube had in fact become a Black Cube and the paintings on the walls had splashes of flourescent paint which glowed in the spotlights. Kunath's epic paintings were incredibly rich, with loads of colour and deft drawing. Overall (with the help of Beach Boys music) the exhibition became a surreal dreamscape, surprisingly compelling. Above all Kunath was clearly a fine draftsman and his vast line drawings were exquisite!

Walking back towards Liverpool Street in another major downpour, I passed a massive piece of street artwhich looked very much like the lino prints of 'Swoon'. presumably she made her name using the streets as her canvas, so it's not beyond belief that this was by her. Extremely artful and sketchy, unlike the normal throw-ups!

Tuesday, 17 May 2011

Oxfordshire Arts Week 2011

Just come back from a great few days visiting art events and artists studios in South Oxfordshire! As usual the group exhibitions were very hit and miss. And some of the random artists studios in the middle-of-nowhere were fabulous!

Completely by accident I stumbled across Jim Vincent's brilliant collages, called 'Imaginary Landscapes' at the Cornerstone Arts Centre in Didcot. He ingeniusly combined collaged printed images with acrylic paint to blend surreal views, with the occasional recognisable landmark. The closer you looked, the more you saw. They were also ridiculously underpriced (c.£150-250) and, though the exhibition had only been open a couple of days, half had already been sold!

Elsewhere, Penelope d'Aguilar's vast oil paintings were a completely unexpected surprise, created and exhibited in the Baptist Church at Bayworth. The atmosphere was complimented by the loud dance music being played by her son in the studio. They were right up my street, and sensibly priced (c £2600). Each must have been 150cm square and constructed cleverly using positive and negative shapes. The blacks were not black and the whites were not white, but the subtlest mixture of shades. I wish I had my camera with me that afternoon!

At Brightwell-cum-Sotwell I came across the brilliant Anne Ware, amongst a mixed bag of local painters. She had a great colour sense and her watercolours were unexpectedly vibrant.

By coincidence the following day I met the artist who claimed the accolade of having taught Anne Ware. Caddy Attewill had a splendid stone-built studio at Marsh Baldon, with an enormous timber framed window overlooking a meadow. As an architecture graduate I spent more time looking at her studio than I did her paintings!