Archive for June 2011
A few hundred yards from my hotel in Swansea (see yesterday blog), there is the Attic Gallery, apparently Wales’ longest established private gallery.
The Attic website says that the gallery “was founded in 1962 to highlight the work of contemporary artists working in Wales.” I think the word ‘contemporary’ here refers to ‘living and working today’ as opposed to ‘modern’ or, in more recent usage, ‘more modern than modern’, which may also imply ‘post-modern’ and ‘having “high Art” pretensions’. I wouldn’t describe the work on show at Attic using these other definitions of the word ‘contemporary’.
I saw paintings by Kathryn Le Grice. I liked them. Here’s an image of one the paintings in the show, (on until Saturday 2 July), Central Park NY (Bridge II) . Painted in 2010/11, I understand that is is more typical of her earlier work.
And here is another, more typical of later work, Circle of Trees.
Both these paintings, like all her work in this show, are abstract in the sense of ‘abstracted from’. (If my memory is correct Harold Osborne uses the term ‘semantic abstraction’ for this type of abstraction, which is actually a form of representation, as opposed to ‘syntactic’ or ‘non-iconic abstraction’ for work that claims to represent nothing other than itself. In the late 70s, when he was writing about this, I think the distinction might have mattered more than it seems to do today.)
Le Grice abstracts from nature and architecture “the patterns which form part of our everyday world” making paintings in acrylic or mixed media, that are quite modest in size. The forms she paints inhabit a shallow, cubist-like space, if I have the chronology correct many of the later works are larger in size.
Circle of Trees is a later painting, but small at less than 12″ in either direction. It is the stained-glass-like luminosity of the colour that impresses me. Even from a distance it looks bright. It is reminiscent of a Rouault, with the thick black lines adding to both the stained-glass look and to the luminosity of the colours, arranged in complementaries of green/red and blue/orange. It has a rhythm based on a central diagonal line around which the tree shapes seem to curve, creating a single arabesque shape.
It is supposed to be decorative, and it is! Decorative is a bad word in some circles. It’s not a bad word for me. And not for the circle of trees either!
I was working in Swansea, South Wales for a few days. I had arrived in the city centre hungry, when everything was closing. Taking a walk, I felt I was battling with the heavy traffic, in the rain. It seemed quite an unpleasant place to be and I was unimpressed.
The next day I arrived in the city centre earlier in the evening, the sun was shining, I had eaten at the Pizza Express, I had drunk a glass of Beer, and I had found some art (which I will write about for my blog another day). It was a different city – and I loved it!
It is amazing still to me, how our ‘internal’ or ‘emotional’ state makes such a massive difference to our perception of the ‘external’ world. The map is not the territory, but at times it might as well be.
I read a story about Mark Rothko in this blog post recently
I wonder what he would have thought about all those reproductions of his work. They’re everywhere. Often they are poor and they tend to get framed (and badly at that) and mounted with black borders, like these that were on the wall in a hotel I stayed at recently.
I love Rothko’s paintings. I hate the reproductions.
Thank you art dog for reminding me to dig out my own yellowed copy of Beyond the Crisis in Art by Peter Fuller.
You reminded me of the crisis that this book provoked in me, a welcome crisis, but one that took years to resolve.
I have been foolish enough to dig out my copy.
In the book there is an article on John Hoyland, I only realised in reading it again that Fuller is reviewing an exhibition that I saw, and liked, at the Serpentine in 1979.
Whilst Fuller is largely negative towards Hoyland, he appreciates what he thinks the artist repudiates: the allusion to content beyond the painting, “touching upon intimate areas of psychological (rather than purely perceptual) experience”.
‘nude drawing’ is a good example of a syntactical ambiguity; is it someone in the nude doing a drawing or is a drawing of someone nude?
However, it’s more the phonological ambiguity I was thinking about. I meant to say… new drawing.
It’s just a few lines I drew to work out an idea. Then, when I was looking at it later I liked the spatial ambiguity. In trying to find meaning in the drawing, in attempting to make sense of it, don’t we see spatial relationships?
And I was going to call the drawing New Direction but there’s another phonological ambiguity (you have to say it).
Not everyone sees the blue and green (see earlier blog)
…because they are subjective. Physically, there is no blue or green in this image. They are optically mixed.
I have already found that some people need to be coached to see them. It is a commonplace to say that we all see things in different ways – usually meaning we interpret data differently. It’s not always clear that we actually see things differently. If we distinguish between these three levels:
We often disagree about judgements. We disagree about interpretations. I would argue that we often think that we agree about descriptions – until we test what’s shared, only to discover that we disagree there as well.
This wonderful blog seems to have provoked a lot of interest.
Public art gets walked by seems to be one of the themes (it doesn’t have to be very public for that to happen. In a workplace near me there is a lot of good art on the walls by important UK artists – largely ignored, see previous blog).
In the comments section of the Myth Of Tomorrow blog there is a piece by Visartstudio including a good story about a Henry Moore sculpture in Toronto
…works that have become significant have done so by digging into our psychological reality and insinuating itself by a process of educating the imagination. Case in point The Archer by Henry Moore in Toronto Nathan Phillips square was supported by the extensive collection of Moore donation to the AGO… More significantly a pop song
Down By The Henry Moore – Murray McLauchlan (1974) summed up Toronto’s relationship to this now significant piece of art. So much so when it alleged removal was used in the first day with out art protest, the controversy drew near 100,000 people into Nathan Phillips square. Digging a bit deeper the art fit the square and became a cultural anchor that suited the site and the Toronto’s city Hall building and has become a bench mark of how Torontonians felt about there city, there future and themselves…
I was in Castleford UK other weekend, at a dance competition in the Civic Hall, and in front of the building is a piece of public art, a Henry Moore sculpture. It is unmistakably Henry Moore so in the pouring rain I wandered across the grass to get a better view.
I knew that Moore was born in the Wakefield area, but not that it was actually Castleford. The piece also serves as a memorial.
I saw this Blog the other day
via Love, Art & Fear
and then I started wondering about how it works (the image that is, not the blog)
Am I right in thinking that it relies on
- the closeness of the lines near where the ‘circles’ appear to throb (close but not converging),
- that the repeated motif is not quite symmetrical, and
- most of all, on tonal contrast?
What would happen if you loosened the closeness of the lines, introduced colour and reduced the tonal contrast?
Here is one of my recent paintings (just a rough snap, I will ask SLB to do a proper job when I get round to it!)
When you look at this painting in the flesh you can tell, I think, that most of the colour mixing is optical. There are no blues or greens in this painting, you supply them yourself. So my (no doubt dumb) question is: in the snap, has the camera optically mixed them (surely that’s not possible) or are we doing it, and can’t tell, perhaps because it is so much smaller than the original?
Maybe, I have just got used to seeing it. You are seeing the blues and greens aren’t you?