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!