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Tag Archives: John Stezaker

Creating Distorted Figures

28 Mar

Tate Britain‘s exhibition Picasso and Modern British Art sets out to trace Pablo Picasso‘s influence on Britain. Hence much of the exhibition looks at British artists influenced by Picasso, including Henry Moore, Francis Bacon and Ben Nicholson, drawing upon the research carried out for other recent exhibitions and the Tate’s own collection, and the exhibition consequently features several works that have appeared recently. Therefore it seems more targeted at the casual audience and tourists during this Olympic year, trying to introduce fresh audiences to the British artists shown. A considerable space and volume of wall text is devoted to indicating works bought by British collectors. This doesn’t seem to add much to the understanding of the artist’s work, or really to indicate that British collectors had a taste for particular genres of Picasso’s practice, but does help to reinforce the country’s importance within the art world and as a powerful nation in the modern world. Indeed a more pressing reason for this section may be to encourage visitors to collect the work of contemporary artists, demonstrating that British collectors can help cultivate major artists, and that by collecting work, one day you might be remembered by being named in a museum exhibiting it in the future.

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All That Glitters Isn’t Necessarily Gold

9 Mar

Hew Locke: Starchitect. Image courtesy of the artist, ArtSway and Hales Gallery, London.

Hew Locke‘s exhibition at ArtSway consists of works made of a variety of gold and silver plastic from pound shops, the most striking of which form shields with crossed swords behind, like would belong in a mediaeval castle.  Additionally plastic pearl necklaces have been used to draw royal crests on plain white fabric squares that hang like Royal Standards, which could be attached to trumpets heralding the forthcoming royal wedding.  Locke’s work is contained in a structure something like a bedouin tent constructed inside the gallery from sheets of plywood.  Each of these is pierced by numerous large star shapes through which the gallery lighting plus some additional lights shine through, creating something closer to a planetarium.

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Constructing Photography Now

14 Feb

Chu YinHua‘s slides on exhibition at The Mews Project Space provide an interesting critique of the built environment and the way the artist feels nomadic, without a home base, which is perhaps in essence critical of a negative impact upon artists caused by immigration laws.  Presented on a small-scale in a row of slide viewers, it is difficult to gage reality.  We see out of windows from a series of rooms with a very retro style of wallpaper, 1950s perhaps.

It is only by creating a miniature room which she can carry around with her, that Chu is able to feel at home anywhere.  In essence this is alike the boxes Georgian servants had as their only private space (mentioned by Amanda Vickers in BBC series At Home with the Georgians).

Whilst the rooms in Chu’s work are miniature, the views are real and include Nelson’s Column in Trafalgar Square and locations around South London in which Chu feels she would be happy to live.  They too are mediated however, through being images on a laptop screen behind the model, some at least extracted from Google Street View.  Such mediation allows us to now digitally travel to anywhere of our choosing simply at the click of a mouse.  Hence Chu chooses to make her home a virtual place.  She could have a party on social networking and chat room websites and even offer someone a slice of cake and a cup of tea.  The freedoms of consuming digital travel, however, might be said to lead us to exist in a box and never leave it.  Well, we can work from home, order in groceries and takeaway, or even go for a stroll around one of the world’s major art museums with the latest Google project.

Pair IV (2007) by John Stezaker, Collage, Private Collection, © The Artist

Nearby at the Whitechapel Gallery a retrospective of John Stezaker‘s work demonstrates a similar yet different kind of photographic construction.  Where Chu constructs the subject scene of her images, Stezaker constructs his images by physically collaging prints of found images, film stills and landscape postcards to create humourous and provocative works.

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