patternsthatconnect

abstract art, a systems view

Posts Tagged ‘University of Warwick

Fiona Rae at Leeds and Warwick

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Rhetoricalpens reminded me that Fiona Rae has a show on at Leeds Art Gallery until August 2012, entitled Maybe you can live on the moon in the next century. It looks good from the photos and I am planning to go and see it soon. In the meantime I am recalling the Fiona Rae painting that I saw earlier this year at Warwick University.

I like how in these snaps, you can somehow tell that Liz  Dooley who showed us round, complete with gloves because it was a freezing cold day, really loves the painting.

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Written by Andy Parkinson

June 4, 2012 at 9:15 am

Posted in Art

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For the millions

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When I was touring the art collection at Warwick University, assistant curator Elizabeth Dooley introduced a wonderful painting by Patrick Heron. I heard her call it “For the Millions”..

…and in this collection, dispersed as it is throughout the university and right there where work is being done, as well as open for public viewing, it may well get seen by ‘the millions’. However, I mis-heard her. The title is Four Vermillions. Four reds near enough in value, tone and hue to be called “vermillion” yet different enough for there to be four very distinct colours.

I recently heard David Batchelor (there is a marvelous piece by him in the same building entitled Against Nature, photo below) say that he does not use the names of colours, as you cannot know what kind of the named colour it is without actually seeing it. He said something like that anyway, unless I mis-heard him.

Thanks Liz, for the tours, they were excellent.

Written by Andy Parkinson

March 16, 2012 at 8:45 am

Jack Bush Paintings

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The University of Warwick has an excellent public art collection of over 800 art works. They are often on show right where studying is being done, and you can phone and make an appointment to view specific pieces.

part of the original buildings, designed by the modernist architect Eugene Rosenberg who also selected the first works of the collection, nine in all, two of which were the Jack Bush paintings.

I had learned long ago that there were Jack Bush paintings here but only recently taken the time to go and see them. The only time I had seen any of his paintings in the flesh previously was in a one person show at the Serpentine Gallery in 1980.

Anyway no photographs in this post I am afraid, for copyright reasons, but here are links to photos of the two paintings I saw: Joseph’s Coat and Charcoal Band.

Even more outrageously colourful than I had expected, breathtaking to view, they are hung as a pair, and high up so that perspex cases are not necessary. Climbing the stairs, I got a really good look at them both, Josephs Coat from Bush’s Fringe series, on the left, slightly larger than Charcoal Band, one of his Sash paintings, on the right. They look like oil rather than acrylic colours.

We have the modernist architect Eugene Rosenberg to thank for the selection of these and other colour field paintings in this collection:

I am committed to the belief that the artist has an important contribution to make to architecture. The bond between contemporary art and architecture is not easy to define, but I believe they are complementary – that architecture is enriched by art and that art has something to gain from its architectural setting. If asked why we need art, I could give answers based on philosophy, aesthetics, prestige, but the one I put high on the list is that art should be part of the enjoyment of everyday life.

Written by Andy Parkinson

February 9, 2012 at 8:45 am

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”

Against Nature ( A Rebours)

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Previously, I posted about an artwork by Klaus Weber subtitled Against Nature an allusion to the novel A Rebours (Against Nature, or alternatively Against the Grain) by J.K. Huysmans.

I had also seen a photo of another art work entitled Against Nature, this one by David Batchelor and I had wondered if the latter work also referenced the Huysmans novel. Noting that it was on display at the University of Warwick, I hoped to see it soon. Well, soon arrived recently and I got to view the piece. I also recently got to talk with the artist, who confirmed the reference.

against nature 1 against nature 2 against nature 3 against nature 7

Reading his book Chromophobia, the reference might have been obvious. He writes with affection on A Rebours.

The colours in the piece are ‘unnatural’, neon, flourescent, artificial, of the city rather than of ‘nature’. Made from second-hand, discarded lightboxes, neon signs, exit signs etc, with painted plexiglas and light shone through them, they are also repaired, re-used and recycled (so not “against nature” in that respect).

I heard him say recently that there is too much brown, grey and magnolia (non-colours) in British contemporary art, and that you can hardly speak of “bright grey” or “bright brown”. I think he is right (though I did shortly afterwards hear someone use just that term “bright brown”. The sentence went something like: “It’s not a dull brown though, it is a bright brown… copper”).

I love this piece of work. It has some painting in it even though we would hardly call it a painting. It is almost as if the colours have been freed from the constraints of pigment and medium, yet in a totally unnatural way. “Pure” and “impure” at the same time.

The discipline of the indiscipline

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Very soon The Indiscipline of Painting exhibition comes to the Mead Gallery at the University of Warwick. Photos of the installation process can already be seen on the Mead Gallery Facebook page (they kindly said I could include one here).

It takes some discipline to get a show like this together!

Featuring work by 41 abstract painters from the sixties to now, it starts on 14 January 2012 and runs until 10 March 2012. As well as seeing the show you can also book a tour of the abstract paintings in the University of Warwick collection, attend a talk by Daniel Sturgis artist and curator of the show and join a symposium for an in-depth discussion of the origins and endurance of abstraction.

Written by Andy Parkinson

January 9, 2012 at 8:45 am

Art in the University workplace

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I have written from time to time about art in the workplace, keen as I have become, to see good paintings there, pleased on the odd occasion that I find some, and fascinated by the responses of workers.

Why I haven’t thought before about art on display in those particular workplaces called universities I don’t know, especially as there are often galleries associated with them, and also that the buildings are sometimes open to the public. In Nottingham the Lakeside Gallery is part of the University of Nottingham and The Bonington Gallery is in the School of Art & Design at  Nottingham Trent University. It is not so long since I visited the Whitworth, at Manchester University and the other day I was introduced to the Stanley and Audrey Burton Gallery in the Parkinson Building of Leeds University.

They have some lovely abstract paintings, including work by John Hoyland, Terry Frost (one that I think is particularly good), Victor Vaserely, Victor Pasmore and Trevor Bell.

I have many times been on the campus of Warwick University but never realised that there was art to be seen there, not only at the Mead Gallery, but also on the walls in the University buildings. Click here for an excellent introductory online exhibition.