patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘Gillian Ayres

Abstract painting and maths

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The Mathematics Institute at the University of Warwick has a number of abstract paintings on the walls. One of them is painted directly onto the wall.

This magnificent work by Ian Davenport entitled Everything, is the result of pouring paint (via a syringe) from the top of the wall, one stripe at a time. The colours run down the wall and form little pools on the ledge below.

Following a predetermined system Davenport seems to combine both control and chance, the colours taking the path set for them, yet sometimes meeting and mixing with others, their specific forms allowed rather than delineated.

There are smaller paintings than this, some of theme equally concerned with the process of painting, and with the “deliberately accidental”, Callum Innes‘s words for the process he adopts of dividing the canvas into two, painting a quarter with a flat colour leaving the other quarter exposed, and then taking the same colour and applying it to the other half of the canvas before “unpainting” it by rubbing it off with turpentine, leaving a ghost of the original colour.

Down the corridor from this painting is almost its opposite. A painting that has little interest in ghosts of paint, or even in paint that is flatly applied. Gillian Ayres‘ paint stands a couple of inches off the surface of the canvas, thick and physically present.

Apparently the mathematicians here are fond of the abstract paintings, and are surprised when we are surprised by that. “After all” they say “we are used to working with abstract concepts”

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Gillian Ayres in the meeting room

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In a workplace recently, walking past a room where there was a meeting going on, I saw out of the corner of my eye, artist proofs by Gillian Ayres on the wall. I considered interrupting the meeting to take a look. I also wanted to ask the group whether they had noticed the art, and what difference it made to their meeting. Instead, I determined to go in early next day and see the work before anyone else could get in there.

I couldn’t help it! A bit like Gillian Ayres whos says she paints because “One can’t bloody help it”, nice little video of her here saying that and other things too.

Written by Andy Parkinson

December 13, 2011 at 8:45 am

Constructivism casts its shadow in Leeds

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At last I got to see the show Construction and its Shadow at Leeds Art Gallery, that had appeared on the Abstraktion blog a few weeks ago.

constructivism and systems

Constructivism and its Shadow at Leeds Art Gallery, May 2011 - finishing soon

When I mentioned to the museum attendant how good I thought it was she seemed pleased that I liked it (we all like to get a ‘like’ every now and again). She said that most people who comment say that it’s rubbish.

What? Most of this work is ‘old’, the exhibition is a reminder of a tradition. Surely, the fact of abstraction has lost its ability to shock, surprise and elicit “a child could have done that” by now. Especially this work, most of it is quite complex and I would have thought difficult to dismiss. Well, I have been wrong before!

In my continuing quest to see abstract art outside of London, I had a good day in Leeds. At the Constructivism exhibition I was particularly interested in the work by Jeffrey Steele. Later, I noticed that at the seminar I missed, about the influence of the British Constructivist and Systems groups, Jeffrey Steele had been speaking and I wished I had been there.

Jeffrey Steele

Jeffrey Steele, SG 1 62, Oil on Canvas

In the permanent collection of contemporary art (post 1880 I think was their definition) I saw a Robyn Denny that I haven’t seen for ages. When I saw it, I remembered hat I had seen it before, at Leeds many years ago. I also imagined that, back then I saw a big John Hoyland painting, but if I did it wasn’t there today. (Just checking the catalogue I downloaded from the gallery website, there is a Hoyland in their collection. I would have liked to see that)

There were three impressive John Walker paintings, as well as some by Terry Frost (not his best), and one by Gillian Ayres (Helios 1990, not my favourite).

There were some interesting paintings in the other collections, I particularly enjoyed looking at an Ivon Hitchens landscape.

Then, visiting the cafe was an art experience itself, not the food necessarily (which was good and reasonably priced), but the environment of the Tiled Hall

tiles

Tiled Hall 1

tiles etc

Tiled Hall 2

Floor

Tiled Hall 3

tile hall ceiling

Tiled Hall ceiling

tile hall ceiling 2

well, this is definitely the ceiling

On the way out I did wonder whether you could see too much Henry Moore (!)

Leeds

Henry Moore figure outside Leeds Art Gallery, looking away from the gallery

Henry Moore Leeds

Henry Moore figure outside Leeds Art Gallery, looking towards the gallery

perhaps not.

Leeds, Henry Moore Institute

Henry Moore Institute

We did go into the Henry Moore Institute attached to the Gallery (nice building) and looked at interesting photographs and sculptural pieces by Jean-Marc Bustamante, but in a hurry, because it was very nearly 5pm and they were getting ready to close.