patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Archive for April 2012

The Music of Painting

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There is an impression that results from a particular juxtaposition of colours, lights and shades: what one might call the music of painting

Eugene Delacroix

… is quoted in the frontispiece of  Peter Vergo’s book The Music of Painting, first published in 2010 and just out in paperback.

 

according to Charles Darwent, Art Quarterly, it’s “a must-have for anyone interested in why modernism looks (and sounds) as it does”

good job I have it then! It was a birthday present, and I have just started reading it.

The front cover shows a reproduction of Theo van Doesburg’s Rhythm of a Russian Dance,1918. Music and dance have an obvious connection with each other and a less obvious one with painting. I have blogged about it before in relation to Mondrian, whose work also features in the book, in a chapter entitled Art, Jazz and Silence. I am also reminded of another book  Music and Modern Art, edited by James Leggio, and containing a chapter by Harry Cooper called Popular Models: Fox-Trot and Jazz Band in Mondrian’s Abstraction.

In a recent Rough Cuts video, James Kalm reviews the Stanley Whitney exhibition Left to Right, at Team Gallery (some great pics here ) saying of Whitney  “His approach to color and rhythm are akin to the spontaneous riffs of great jazz solos”.

In Blogland, Scott Van Holzen’s blog  art in music is dedicated to paintings based on musical themes and Ruth Gray, tells of how listening to some old records, she feels inspired to paint the colours she hears. I guess that making a connection between visual, auditory and kinaesthetic arts is almost bound to get somewhat synaesthetic.

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James Kalm: an egg floating in the middle of a doily!

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I love James Kalm’s Rough Cuts videos on YouTube. He takes his bike and visits New York galleries with his camera and gets videoing. We get pictures and commentary in slightly hushed voice, with little asides like “there’s such and such” when we see someone, and we get information about the New York art scene and some thoughts about the paintings. Often you can hear the rustling of paper as he looks up the title in the gallery notes. When I go to galleries I get my camera out like it’s a crime and discretely take a photo, usually discovering to my surprise that it is actually OK to do so. James Kalm just marches in says “hi” to whoever is in there and takes us along with him via the magic of video.

His new one is Terry Winters: Cricket Music and Tessellation Figures at Matthew Marks. I like the self-portrait reflection we get when he photographs the signage through the gallery window. I was unfamiliar with Terry Winters’ work and there was no chance I would have been going over to NY to see the show (unless NY stood for North Yorkshire, then I would certainly have gone) so it works as a good introduction. Kalm’s commentary ranges from the banal “I kind of  like what he is doing here”, to the factual “tessellation figure 9”, to the hilarious “it almost gets figurative…it’s almost like an egg floating in the middle of a doily”.

Terry Winters has been a respected presence on the New York painting scene for decades now. His latest show ” Cricket Music and Tessellation Figures” is the first major presentation of new works since 2008. These pictures reveal a poetic application of the geometric concept of a gridded plane, it permutations through knotting and folding and the fragmentation of image and its re-composition.

Written by Andy Parkinson

April 24, 2012 at 7:45 am

Moira Dryer

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Terry Greene recently drew my attention to an open letter from David Rhodes to Philip Guston. Then I saw this other letter from Rhodes to an artist whose work I have been getting to know recently: Moira Dryer. His letter at brooklynrail.org tells of a visit to Carol Szymanski and Barry Schwabsky in New York, seeing a small gouache by Dryer (photo) and being impressed by it. He comments on her approach to painting, about her influence on abstraction and regrets her passing (she died in 1992, when she was only 34 years old). He seems to agree with a comment I found by Bob Nickas that “she managed to make abstraction feel vital again” at a time when it no longer seemed as urgent or vibrant as it once did.

Here’s a picture I took of her wonderful painting entitled The Vanishing Self Portrait. I have written about it before, when I compared it to two other “abstract portraits”.

Moira Dryer, Vanishing Self Portrait,

I wondered if there were any of her paintings in UK collections, and so far I haven’t been able to find any (please let me know in ‘comments’ if you come across one). Instead I found this video at Rough Cuts of a painting show at Harris Lieberman N.Y. where we get to see one of Dryer’s paintings (at 2.50 and between 6.38 and 7.07 mins). In his commentary, James Kalm doesn’t tell us if it has a title. He does bring our attention to the handles attached to the sides and says that’s common for Dryer. Like the tree stump in the one above, they emphasise the support. With the tree stump I feel reminded of the connection to nature, there’s no getting away from it even in abstraction. With the handles, it is more the process of painting Vs utility that I connect to: was the stretcher held by the handles and tilted to control the flow of wet paint? I doubt it, but I like that the artwork gets me guessing about that.

For Dryer, painting is theatre, performance, and in both these paintings it seems appropriate to be thinking about how they were made. In The Vanishing Self Portrait the brush strokes, (or possibly erasure strokes) look gestural, I imagine the artist extending her arm from one end of the canvas to the other. Then I realise that it’s probably too wide to have been made that way. But here I am, considering the making of it and speculating about the details of that performance, whilst clearly seeing its results directly in front of me.

Written by Andy Parkinson

April 13, 2012 at 9:00 am

Working on the system

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In my day-job, it is my last day of full time employment at a company where I have worked for over 30 years (in its various incarnations). The end of an era, or was it an eon?

As well as having the pleasure of working with some wonderful people, it was also a great place for learning from the work. I learned how to work on the system, rather than just working in it.

It is a sad fact that employees all over the globe spend their time and ingenuity getting around the system, or “playing the system”, mostly because employers don’t give them the opportunity to get involved in improving it.

According to W.Edwards Deming “it is the job of management to work on the system, to improve it, with the help of those who work in it”.

More on Alex Hubbard’s video painting

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I have become very interested in Alex Hubbards’ work, having first seen a painting of his at the Indiscipline show at the Mead Gallery, his work was also one of the a subjects of discussion at the event with Bob Nickas entitled The Trouble with Harry, at Mead on 3 March 2012, where the show Eat Your Friends at Simon Lee Gallery, London was recommended and I got to visit it last week.

Since then, and since writing a few posts on Hubbard, I have been looking him up on t’Internet.

There’s this great video on youtube and an interesting artforum article by Fionn Meade, as well as a film review for Hubbard’s Cineapolis 2007, at Dinca.org where Andrew Rosinski refers to the work as

…a ruinous slapstick video painting in two minutes, a performance impelled by the cathartic concept of if it feels good, do it. A static one-shot, filmed from above, captures rummager Hubbard’s madcap actions of cutting, pouring, balloon burning, and paint feathering.  A tactile, prop-driven film that hits the bill down, smacks up the viewer, and slakes the cinematic thirst. If you’re looking for the ne plus ultra of ’00s video art and performance, take a big gulp from this plastic container.

He also includea a link to more at Ubu. Where they say

Playfully destructive and rigorously formal, Alex Hubbard’s tabletop videos — shot from above in a single take – blur together painting, performance, sculpture and video into humorous and disorienting narratives.

Written by Andy Parkinson

April 1, 2012 at 9:00 am