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Tag Archives: Contemporary art

London Art Fairs 2011: Bold and Textured

16 Oct

So, it’s show time for the art world in London.  Across the fairs and events visited thus far it seems there are trends for colourful work in bold primary and secondary colours and for textured work.

These themes began to emerge at the Pavilion of Art & Design London, where works for sale particularly include a number of pieces by Agostino Bonalumi on Galerie Vedovi’s stand, which build geometric patterns by stretching the canvas over various obstacles, some slashed work by Lucio Fontana, several Antoni Tàpies relief paintings, and a collection of collages by Roy Lichtenstein plus a design for a contemporary tapestry.  Here there seemed to be a particular choice of works with texture as the fair also contains a number of design stands, whilst the majority of work for sale is mid twentieth century.

At the Frieze Art Fair, Marc Quinn has left his Fingerprints all over Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac’s stand.  Indicating personal identity, authorship and uniqueness, the coloured version of this relief work seems to highlight the bacteria we may come in contact with in our daily lives, each secreting itself in a different groove in the texture of the finger print.

Fingerprints by Marc Quinn at Frieze Art Fair

Magali ReusBalance Sheet series on Galerie Fons Welters’ stand contrasts roughly textured silicon rubber with shiny, smooth aluminium grilles.

Balance Sheet Series (2011) by Magali Reus at Frieze Art Fair

Nick van Woert’s Not Yet Titled 7 (2011) on Yvon Lambert’s stand references Liam Gillick’s work and acts as a room divider almost akin to Richard Serra’s Titled Arc (1981), but is partially transparent.  A series of equal blocks are stacked horizontally, each containing different textured materials in different bold colours, including liquids, loft insulation, wire wool, chippings and powder.

Not Yet Titled 7 (2011) by Nick van Woert at Frieze Art Fair

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When Does Minimalism Become Too Minimal?

8 Oct

It was recently pointed out to me that there has been a lot of minimal art produced recently, and the exhibitions this article discusses feature minimal and monochromatic works, but can minimalism go too far?

Florian Pumhösl’s part of the current exhibition at Raven Row consists of two floors filled with a series of minimal works on glass.  This choice of unframed medium seems to reflect upon Joseph Kosuth‘s works including Clear Square Glass Leaning (1965) and No Number #1 (+216, After Augustine’s Confessions) (1989), and to the latter of these there also seems to be a link in David Batchelor‘s Shelf-like No. 5 (Green) (1999), currently on display at the Whitechapel Gallery in their latest exhibition of the Government Art Collection.  However, where Kosuth applied text to the medium using Letraset and later silkscreen, Pumhösl has composed and painted a series of abstract black lines, numbering between two and six on each piece.  These lines might describe journeys, lines of communication, horizons, or statistical graphs, but there is no information within the work for viewers to read the artist’s intention or act.  To the viewer these are simply random lines, some arranged so they create intersections and others vaguely parallel, floating in the liquid plane of the glass, sometimes alike part of paintings by Wassily Kandinsky.

Whilst Pumhösl’s work fits within the broad nature of minimalism and perhaps Abstract Expressionism, The Mews Project Space is hosting an exhibition of monochromatic works, which critically address minimalism and its practices from within.  In the first room of Dark Matter Jonathan Lewis has set out to recreate the installation conditions of Kasimir Malevich‘s seminal Suprematist exhibition, The Last Futurist Exhibition (1915), but Lewis uses only a series of prints of Black Square on White in different size and style frames and digital printing means and materials.  However the focus of The End (2011) is on the pixelation of the image, which unlike Lewis’s previous work is due to the prints being taken from a very low-resolution image found online.  This includes a rather bizarre square of different shade off-white pixels in each corner like an unreadable QR code or the tags within a graphic design software package for manipulating the dimensions of a selected image.  Then a greyish line of pixels forms a border between the two areas, as though the image could be of a black surface over layered with a white mount board casting a slight shadow.  Such is the case that online information, particularly that resourced from search engines that pick up any text on a page, can be confused between original pieces and things inspired by a master, hence it is possible that this may not be an image of the original.  Consequently the work questions the capability of communication of knowledge and ideas through the internet and the actual minimalism of artworks including Malevich’s.  Do they conform to machine-accurate straight lines or is the presence of human nature visible in brushstrokes and minor imperfections?

The End (2011) by Jonathan Lewis at The Mews Project Space

Opposite, Andreas Schmidt’s Free Porn critiques censorship on Google Images suggesting that there is either too much censorship or that the pornographic images obscured in this work are too easily accessible and without payment to the models and photographer.  Furthermore Schmidt may be critiquing several layers of censorship; that of the images, the power of Google and other search providers to control what you can find on the internet, and also that within the art world.

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Works of Art for All Surfaces

26 Aug

Works of art can be designed to be installed practically anywhere, but one under used area is the ground we walk on. ArtCritiqued.com has tracked down a selection of artists making work both for and with floor surfaces that could be used by the dedicated collector, if you wished, to cover that last remaining blank space in your home.

Detail of 3, 2, 1, 0 A A and away 1, 2.. (2011) by Carlos Noronha Feio

Carlos Noronha Feio has designed a series of Arraiolos carpets, which depict images of modern technology that may be used in war such as jet fighter planes, tanks, rockets and satellites, although they can also have many other peaceful technological and exploratory functions. This is highly political work, like the doormat-size carpet seen in the window of a Mayfair carpet dealers depicting a United States Five Dollar Bill across its entire width, which offers conflicting potential views of American patronism and luxury, versas walking over a past president and abandoning capitalism or commercialism. In Feio’s work the blood shed by those on the front line, along with civilian casualties in situations such as the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, is interwoven with that of the carpet makers, whilst Feio seemingly keeps his hands clean in designing the piece like a political or military leader.  This work consequently seems to question the reason for the existence and production of the depicted things, as the ownership of nuclear defence weapons seems questionable when no one would want to use them, and hence the work also addresses man as his own worst enemy.

These pieces have the feel of the tapestries worked up from Raphael’s cartoons for the Vatican. However, although the tapestries were the intended final work for Raphael’s commissioners, though not completed until after the artist’s death, the cartoons are revered and preserved in the V&A, but Feio’s designs have not been exhibited, though probably Raphael’s were never seen until after the artist’s death, apart from to be checked off by the Vatican prior to weaving, and may not have been intended to be seen.

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The Kinetic Flow of Light

15 Jul

A theme emerged amongst a selection of the graduates in the Royal College of Art MA Show’s Sculpture Building of making works about the flow of light and this seems to have flowed out of this institution to the wider London art scene.

Untitled (Vents1&2) (2011) by Brendan Giles

Brendan Giles‘ works at the RCA, Untitled (Vents 1&2) are sculptures of vents in which only selected slats are open and exist whilst the rest is solid. This creates an asymmetric pattern of lines where a little daylight can be seen hitting the wall behind the work, like some of Liam Gillick’s sculptural pieces that divide space. Perhaps, however, Giles’ works are actually more about the flow of air in and out of city buildings with vast air conditioning systems.

Oscillator-Aerator (2011) by Sara Knowland

Sara Knowland’s Oscillator-Aerator at the Royal Academy Schools Show bares a similar form but in wood painted grey rather than plaster and seems to directly reference the form of Julian Opie’s H (1987).

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Under the Surface

21 Jun

Placebo Syndrome (2011) by David Mullen at Tank Gallery

David Mullen’s paintings in The Pleasure Principle at Tank Gallery are an appealing sculptural form. By applying monochromatic layers of thick impasto oil paint to his canvases and then covering with one or more layers of gloss paint, Mullen has been able to allow the surface to dry solid whilst the interior remains liquid enough to peel the surface back into a sculpture with the surface of the painting cut away and hanging off the wall. These works, particularly the grey Placebo Syndrome are almost like a sardine can that has had its lid curled back halfway, exposing the yellow filling, whilst the framed work The Perfect Crime directly illustrates the paint coming out of the canvas, peeling back the layers towards the found picture beneath. From a similar thought process Eunkyung Lee’s circular paintings Collected Samples in the Slade MA show are on castors and invited to be kicked around the space to knock against one another and reveal the multiple layers of imagery that are built up on their surfaces. Hence the work becomes an interactive piece in the creating of new, constantly evolving work through the combination of fragmented images akin to peeling back the layers of adverts on a traditional billboard.

Collected Samples 2, 6, 11 by Eunkyung Lee

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Explorations in Materiality and Texture

29 May

Earlier this month a group of Goldsmiths MA students recently collaborated on the exhibition The Second Attempt at Phane Terglo at Lewisham Arthouse, where all the works were in shades of beige.  As mentioned in the article ‘All That Glitters Isn’t Necessarily Gold‘, a trend for monochromous work appeared over the winter.  What came out of The Second Attempt at Phane Terglo was an experimentation with contrasting textures.  In an all-encompassing installation, painted surfaces that had the finish of raw plaster contrasted with smooth MDF and the striated cut edges of plywood.  Synthetic flowers hung from a washing line whilst minimal glasses of beige drinks with a cherry in sat on the ledge around the room.  Sliced potatoes sewn to a painted strip of fabric hung from the ceiling resembled diseased skin, whilst their decomposition mirrors that of Anya Gallaccio‘s works such as preserve ‘beauty’, where she places red gerberas behind glass and allows them to naturally die.  Finally a series of three monochromatic portrait paintings seemed effectively identical but for slight variations that possibly indicate the models may have been an Asian male, a white female and a black male, demonstrating that we are all alike and equal, whilst it could be said to reflect the dullness of a homogenised society and hence perhaps celebrate our individuality.

The ordered layout of Gallaccio’s work is also mirrored in that of Victoria Scott‘s Lenty Pond (2011), which was shown in the following exhibition at the same gallery.  A grid of nearly 500 petri dishes laid out on the gallery floor formed a graduated change of colour.  From a distance these appeared to contain pigment or coloured sand but in fact they are oil paintings on canvas cut out in a circle, potentially violently, where a selection seem to quite strongly represent landscape scenes, and resulting in their slight undulation.  It was also interesting to observe the reflection of the rectangular gridded windows on the grid of transparent pieces, which also draw to mind Carl Andre‘s floor pieces over which the audience are invited to walk, but in this case despite a lack of barrier it seems the work would be destroyed by this kind of interaction.

Quite different from Scott’s work but related to the use of texture and material in The Second Attempt at Phane Terglo, Neil Taylor translates material in his exhibition True Wood at Campbell Works.  Taylor has carved a series of works that resemble wood out of blue Styrofoam.  The exhibition has a distinctly religious undercurrent, using apparently found material from a neighbouring evangelical church; a powerful letterhead with an image of the crucifixion as a watermark, as both source material and a medium on which to draw or write.

Taylor’s use of material is most interesting in the less religious works where he has created pallets out of Styrofoam and polystyrene, ironically crossing junctions between art and its packaging materials.  The packing is rendered as art whilst it suggests the disastrous or comedic scene that would occur if they were used in the intended manner of pallets.

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Artists Making a Mark with their Bodies

19 May

Following on from the article The Gallery as a Dance Hall, it appears there is also a resurging interest in performative mark making.  In Trisha Brown‘s Walking on the Walls a group of performers climb into suits harnessed to girders suspended from the gallery balcony, which act like the track of a rollercoaster.  This enables them to walk horizontally along the gallery wall in a performance that at times becomes like a cat’s cradle as they approach each other and seem to pass on momentum.  Essentially fixed on a straight line, the performers are generally only able to see and approach their neighbours, as described by Edwin A. Abbott in Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, however they do occasionally cross each other’s path in a slightly awkward fashion akin to when a cat’s cradle gets tied up.

Trisha Brown - Walking on the Walls. Barbican Art Gallery, 2011. Photograph by Felix Clay

The performers leave slight marks and traces of their performance in the form of footprints on the white gallery walls.  Whilst their impact is minimal, this could be read in a painterly fashion outside the performance.  What remains is the essence of movement, like the ghostly remains of fossilised dinosaur footprints in the rock.  As these footprints will clearly not last that long, being painted over for the next exhibition, if the wall hasn’t already been re-coated, it consequently  draws allusion with the work of Richard Long.  In his work A Line Made By Walking (1967) Long created a visible mark on the landscape through movement, but similarly the grass will have soon grown back.

Meanwhile, Brown’s Homemade (1966) resembles Stating the Real Sublime by Rosa Barba, mentioned in the article Still, through its use of movement of a film projector.  Where Barba’s work is sculptural in creating movement of a projection by the rotation of the film in suspension, Brown wore a film projector like a backpack, projecting a film of her dancing on varying surfaces of the theatre as she repeats the filmed performance in person.

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A Comparative Study in Space and Sound

5 May

What is perhaps most interesting about Ruth Proctor and João Ferro Martins‘ show at The Mews Project Space is the way their work is so similar yet has subtle differences when neither had met until they hung the exhibition.

João Ferro Martins & Ruth Proctor From L to L and Back Again

Following a set of outline instructions for sculpture combining found or ready-made materials, striking similarities occur in the choice of orientation of objects whilst differences appear in the choice of object design; straight edges versus curves, material, dimensions, volume, weight, colour, etc., which combine to give Martins work an austere, solid and workerly feel, whereas Proctor’s has a sunnier, more vibrant and perhaps feminine outlook.  With a bass ‘E’ guitar string stretched across each chair as if to create a rudimentary instrument, a vinyl record is similarly placed behind the back of the chair so about 60% visible from the front, but one is an album and other incorporates a single.  Meanwhile, at the Barbican, Laurie Anderson is pictured playing her musical invention/sculpture, the Viophonograph, with a record mounted upon a violin body and a pickup in the bow.

Laurie Anderson Viophonograph, 1976 Black-and-white photograph Photograph: Bob Bielecki Courtesy the artist and Sean Kelly Gallery, New York. © Laurie Anderson

Perhaps it might also be relevant to mention Christian Marclay’s Recycled Records (1980-86), at this point, as another example of an artist using this sonic yet visual form, combining cut records to create a new sound.  Meanwhile Martins’ further experiments with record media include Cymbal Scratching (2010), which seems to be the inverse of Anderson’s work in that a traditional instrument is being played by a twentieth century one, whereas Anderson plays the record with the violin bow.

Cymbal Scratching (2010) by João Ferro Martins. Turntable, amplifier, pre amplifier, two speakers, cymbal. Dimensions variable. Sound reproduction of the texture of the cymbal.

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