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Tag Archives: Visual Arts

A Return to Classicism

16 Aug

Correlations between art and politics have been repeatedly shown and this is clearly apparent among a selection of this year’s graduates that have returned to classical forms, responding to economical situations in Greece particularly.  Perhaps this will become known as Post Neo-Classicism or Anarchaic Art.

At Goldsmiths Hannah Lyons (BA Art Practice) has created a Doric column from expanding foam that bends slightly to lean against the wall, needing to be propped up, like Greece needs support from other Euro zone countries including Germany.  Titled I Tried (2012) it infers the artist’s attempt to create something and the failure to achieve the desired perfection, requiring the practice and refinement that can be seen in Greek sculpture across the Archaic period and into the Classical period, yet this is emblematic of contemporary attempts to stimulate the economy and develop businesses.  Meanwhile in BA Photography at Camberwell College of Art Maria Gorodeckaya includes a smashed plaster Doric column, reflecting a broken economy, in her installation Деструкция (Destruction in Russian), Gorodecaya’s column lays in fragments as it was broken, with three main sections that one could imagine being sliced violently with the swipe of a sword, like the conversion to Christianity defacing polytheistic Classical sculpture.

Деструкция (2012) by Maria Gorodeckaya

Lyons also exhibited Ironic Piece of Work by Female Artist (2012) in which she has successfully cast a plaster female figure, Aphrodite or Venus perhaps, without head and arms like a classical relic, but potentially suggestive of this being a cost cutting measure, imagining the construction of a temple, from which it might have originated, as a public building project inevitably running over budget.  The irony here seems to lie in a female artist creating a female figure that is presented as a purely sexual object, devoid of any identifying features and with just a loose drape of a skirt for modesty, seemingly about to drop at any moment.  Furthermore this pure white figure is contrasted against dark arches painted on the surrounding walls, highlighting a possible reference to the abrasive cleaning carried out on sculptures from the Parthenon at the British Museum to make them stand out, and by turning the otherwise unused space of the lift lobby into that of a formal museum gallery she ostensibly lowers the latter to the level of importance of the lobby, a transient space one doesn’t really want to spend much time in.

Ironic Piece of Work by Female Artist (2012) by Hannah Lyons

Won Woo Lee‘s F.A.S.W. (First Abstract Sculpture in the World) (2012) project at the Royal College of Art (MA Sculpture) includes an amalgamated collection of fragments of plaster bust, arranged into a somewhat pot-like form, with just the occasional facial feature visibly emerging from the surface slightly, adding texture and some light shadowing in addition to the darkness seen inside the object.  Whilst this, like Gorodecaya’s work, is suggestive of uprising, it also speaks of the desire for perfection sought by Archaic sculptors and realised by their Classical successors, like Lyons’ I Tried.  Adjacent to this visitors are occasionally startled by Always Something Behind the Truth (2012), an adjacent table which suddenly shakes like someone is panning soil to find remains or gold on an archaeological dig, further accelerating the physical erosion of further facial fragments on top of it, as measures such as quantitative easing could potentially accelerate recession.

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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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The Art of Selling and the Selling of Art

25 Jun

With Mark Leckey‘s work at the Serpentine Gallery it seems unclear whether the work or the sponsorship came first.  By addressing commercial branding and marketing Leckey is actively promoting Samsung and also Fiorucci in a far more direct and blatant manner than I have ever seen an artist do before.

 

Whilst Andy Warhol adopted the graphic design of popular commercial products including Brillo pads and Campbell’s soup, he did not turn his work into a powerful encapsulating installation.  Self complementary announcements are repeated in a direct manner, asserting the value of the brand name, rather than an actual product, badged onto fairly high-end electrical products including televisions, Blu-ray players, microwaves, cameras and mobile phones which are shown in a slideshow in the background of the film shot in a green screen room created in the gallery.  The focal point of this work, GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction (2010), is the ‘Smart’ black fridge freezer that stands in the installation like a monolithic sculpture such as the Easter Island heads.  Leckey takes on the imagined persona of the fridge, seemingly only educated by the company’s promotional material.  In this slick, ultra minimal work, and the trailer at the exhibition entrance, Leckey has assembled a series of hypnotically flashing messages on screen between the Samsung and Fiorucci logos and famous or celebrated artworks and artists, relating the brands to art in the way advertisers aim to emotionally elevate the quality and significance of their product.  In particular Henry Moore’s signature and name are used in the trailer as a Moore sculpture is included in the exhibition installation as another monolith to compare the fridge with, and the use of the signature makes passing reference to Citroen’s Picasso branding.

 

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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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The Gallery as a Dance Hall

27 Apr

It has been a while since the last article, however this is due to a lack of cohesion within the contemporary art world recently, but now a clear trend has appeared for visual artists making works that transform the gallery space into a site for dance and performance.  With Arts Council England redistributing funding from its new National Portfolio in favour of dance, and programmes such as Strictly Come Dancing and So You Think You Can Dance? gracing our television screens, it is likely that interest in dance is growing, and hence galleries are making curatorial decisions in favour of this kind of cross-genre art form.

It is not new for artists to engage in set design with a president set by Piet Mondrian, who designed a set for Michel Seuphor‘s L ‘Ephémère est éternel, and Liubov Popova (who was exhibited with Alexander Rodchenko at Tate Modern in 2009).

What is perhaps different is that many of these contemporary artists (and similarly video artists such as Nathaniel Mellors, showing at the ICA) are controlling the whole experience in the fashion of Richard Wagner.  In German there is the word Gesamtkunstwerk that describes this all-encompassing art form.  However it is likely many of these contemporary artists are working on a much smaller budget.

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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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Drawing in space

5 Feb

Bridget Riley‘s Composition with Circles 7 (2010), installed at the National Gallery, London, makes use of circles in a similar manner to Susan Hiller‘s Magic Lantern discussed in my previous article ‘Curated to Confuse?‘.  Riley and her assistants have drawn a series of meticulously accurate, large, monochromatic circles across the entirety of a vast gallery wall.  Like Hiller’s projection, they build up layers, overlapping and forming a series of Venn diagrams.  However, where Hiller explores colour, Riley explores ways of tesselating the circles, creating a vast array of different size and shape sections of overlap and space, whilst maintaining a fairly ordered overall plane.

Adrian Searle furthers the link between the two by saying this work of Riley’s “… seems to envelop you as if one were consumed by bubbles of light.” (http://www.guardian.co.uk/artanddesign/video/2010/dec/15/bridget-riley-national-gallery-wall-circles).  However this work feels much more rigid and defined than flowing light.

This is an installation of drawing which looms over the viewer, affecting our perception of space.  It also physically alters the gallery walls in a museum that, due to its collection, usually retains works within a frame.  Hence it is an intervention in the space, much like Doris Salcedo‘s Shibboleth (2007), a crack in the floor of Tate Modern‘s Turbine Hall.

Besides this piece, it is a small exhibition and predominantly represent’s Riley’s current work, not necessarily her most interesting.  On the other hand it is interesting to see how her modern abstract style has been inspired by some more traditional sources.  A couple of Riley’s older Op Art style works are included, and these create the optical illusion of three dimensionality.  The exhibition Common Logic at IMT Gallery, however, exhibits a series of experiments which take drawing literally into three-dimensional space.

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