Category Archives: Research points

5.2 – contextual research


Two artists who make work involving walks:

Jane Griseman makes drawings while walking between places that have poignant meanings for her – the Line Journey drawings.  She simply records on small pieces of paper the movements of her hand as she walks, and by doing this she not only refers to movement, duration and distance, but also records her thoughts, feelings and memories, rather than making observational drawings of the things she sees.  Mourning Walks were made walking between home and a burial ground, in response to a recent bereavement.  There are also videos and series of photographs recording walks, for instance between homes she has lived in, or along a childhood beach (trailing a piece of driftwood along her walk and photographing the resulting drawing in the sand) etc.   http://www.janegrisewood.com/Drawings/project2.html

http://www.callytrench.co.uk/rcc-jane-grisewood.html

Idea for my own work – take large water bottle filled with dissolved charcoal (from forest fire?)and trickle it along as I walk – then look back and photograph my zigzag path, with Hammie, my aged retriever, plodding slowly along behind.

Richard Long has come to be called a ‘Land Artist’. He makes art based on walks he is doing or has completed, and this can take various forms including text, drawing, sculpture and installation, photography.   He often intervenes in the landscape, making his work in and of the place itself.  For example ‘A Line Made by Walking, 1967, is a photograph of a path made in grass by his feet tramping up and down.  Many other works are displays of materials (eg stones) collected from the landscape and arranged in unnatural ways (eg circles)

I like the way he uses text – sometimes just lists of single, evocative words – to record and describe a walk.  Here the walk or the journey itself is the art. For example his long distance walks themselves (30 miles every day for weeks isn’t unusual!) become the work, recorded as text phrases describing places or his experiences and actions in the landscape.  

Like Griseman, Long makes work that records not only what he sees but also his response to the landscape and his feelings about it.  Inevitably much of his work in the landscape is impermanent.  According to Guggenheim, since his early work Long has been ‘experimenting with the idea of impermanence, a theme that would inform his work throughout his career’ (https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/richard-long) .  This impermanence is a concept i could consider in the context of my work recording my local neighbourhood.  The environment around me is changing very fast, and my place in it will soon also be in the past.  In the process of making my work, I will be exploring my own feelings about the place, and my aim will be also to create, or at least reinforce my own memories of it; the work itself will deteriorate over time, but the memory will have (I hope!) a longer life.

Idea for my own work – some arrangement on the land (circle, path or line) made of hundreds of lemons or walnuts


And an artist who makes lots of quick watercolour studies:

Mario Rossi

There are  some massive watercolour paintings on Rossi’s web site at  http://www.mariorossi.co.uk/Gallery-2/mario-rossi-circulars.html which are almost photo-realistic textural studies of (what looks like to me) the wake created by a motor boat (maybe a ferry) travelling at different speeds.  The supports appear to be made of six strips of paper, each about 40cm wide.  I like the idea of piecing together watercolour paintings to make composites; I saw a similar idea at work in Hockney’s exhibition at Saltaire recently.  Traditionally watercolour is used on a small scale, but by making composite paintings size can be almost limitless.

Going back to the course manual, I couldnt find Rossi’s watercolours of ‘the restaurants and shops near where he lives’ so contacted him.  He very kindly emailed me a pdf of several of these.  They were not in fact paintings of restaurants in his neighbourhood, but mainly painted from images found online, so nothing to do with the artist walking around making paintings near his home (suggest the factual error in the course manual is corrected).

However, they are inspiring paintings because theyre painted in a very fresh and direct way, and I can now envisage being able to go out and paint the houses in my neighbourhood, without feeling i have to make perfect ‘traditional’ watercolours.

Idea for my own work – quick watercolour paintings of my neighbourhood houses


References  (all websites accessed 23/7/17)

http://www.callytrench.co.uk/rcc-jane-grisewood.html

https://www.guggenheim.org/artwork/artist/richard-long

http://www.janegrisewood.com/Drawings/project2.html

http://www.mariorossi.co.uk/Gallery-2/mario-rossi-circulars.html

R5 – The work of Christian Boltanski

 

Christian Boltanski

All web sites accessed 01/07/2017

Boltanski’s work is about human identity, individuality,  memory and forgetting, dying and commemorating the dead.  Boltanski said What drives me as an artist is that I think everyone is unique, yet everyone disappears so quickly’ Tate Magazine Issue 2, Studio: Christian Boltanski, 2002 at http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/studio-christian-boltanski.  The objects and photos in his work are usually found, not made by the artist.  They serve as reminders of human experience, often evoking suffering and tragedy, but there’s no implicit or explicit reference to the subject or their history.

Eleanor Heartney says Boltanski has explored “how modes of display imbue simple objects with layers of meaning…the way in which objects are displayed thoroughly determines how we will perceive them” (Art and Today, p352)

His art works create an interplay between perception, memory (the viewer’s individual or cultural collective memory) and imagination.  In Archive Dead Swiss for example (Art &Today, p 354), Boltanski thereby leads the viewer to attribute the idea of suffering or death, or the fragility of identity and memory to the work, and as a result to experience a strong emotional response when viewing them.

This is relevant to my part 5 assignment, where I will curate and display my collection; the viewer will be affected not only by each item in it, but also by how the collection looks in my display.

 

According to Boltanski ‘A good work of art can never be read in one way. My work is full of contradictions. An artwork is open—it is the spectators looking at the work who make the piece, using their own background. A lamp in my work might make you think of a police interrogation, but it’s also religious, like a candle. At the same time it alludes to a precious painting, with a single light shining on it. There are many way of looking at the work. It has to be ‘unfocused’ somehow so that everyone can recognize something of their own self when viewing it.’  “Tamar Garb in conversation with Christian Boltanski,” in Christian Boltanski (London: Phaidon Press, 1997), p. 24 at https://www.guggenheim.org/arts-curriculum/topic/christian-boltanski


Works:-

The following can be seen at http://www.mariangoodman.com/artist/christian-boltanski

  • Several works are large scale photographic portraits printed on fabric; sometimes the veil is glowingly lit from behind (also see Christian Boltanski, Collective Unconcious by Nora Landes, at http://mariangoodman.com/sites/default/files/Musee%20Magazine%20%28Fall%202014%29.pdf They reminds me of my monoprint and painted portraits from old family photos for part 3, especially those painted on silk and linen.  Perhaps portraits of neighbours could form part of my part 5 paper museum.
  • Other collections of small, found photographic portrait works are presented in the form of a shrine or an icon, and lit with lamps, such as Scratch, 2014
  • Sometimes the portraits are fixed to small boxes stacked on shelves, implying each box contains the ephemera of that one individual’s life, like Reserve Detective III, 1987.  More recent work combines this shrine- like arrangement with the small boxes and the lamps.
  • Many of his visual installations include the use of sound – for example the dozens of small, labelled bells on stalks placed in the landscape in Animitas, 2014
  • In some works such as Reserve Canada, 1988,  objects (in this case clothes), stand in for portraits (which stand for the unique individual).

In Personnes (see https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/17/christian-boltanski-personnnes-paris-review?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other) Boltanski lays out clothes in their thousands in camp-like spaces on the ground

In developing a recent work, the artist wanted an audio recording speaking the name of every person in the world.  As he says, there are just too many people to make this practical, and also people are dying and being born too quickly.  I’d love to make an audio recording speaking names of people in my village (there are not too great a number), with background audio of the pervasive sounds on an outdoor summer evening- dogs, muezzin, bells, crickets, drums, music.

 

What I like and dislike about Boltanski’s work:-

 

His work can be thought of as dark, macabre and sad, dealing so heavily in death – Tom Lubbock, The Independent, 07/05/1994 at  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/remembrance-of-things-past-christian-boltanski-is-a-multi-media-artist-theres-the-book-the-triple-1434581.html; But for me it is also hopeful and optimistic, affirming a belief in the unique identity of every person, living and dead.  In Boltanski’s opinion, everyone is unique and important, (but everyone also disappears so quickly).


Viewing my environment through Boltanski’s eyes:-

My work for Part 5 is going to be about my tiny village and surrounding environment.  As a foreigner I observe my neighbours with a degree of detachment that wouldn’t be possible for a local – as though I’m seeing them for the first time – and at the same time I feel an emotional connection from being an outsider who’s been taken in and adopted by a small community.  Boltanski would view these individuals as lives to be commemorated, their portraits to be made and displayed in some way that suggests their uniqueness for example, the pasting of the portraits of individuals to stacked tins or boxes, suggesting contents specific to each person’s life.

I collected photo portraits of some local people and thought about ways of editing and displaying them.  A simple grid format as below (made digitally) suggests little as a group, though the portraits are interesting and highlight individuality.

Another idea, inspired by Boltanski, is to arrange portraits (maybe monoprints, or quick paintings with thin watercolour or ink) alternating neighbours who’ve died and those who’ve been born while I’ve lived here. I’ll think about how I’d display these to suggest to the viewer what I want to say, and how I see them.

Other works by Boltanski are collections of everyday objects – some sourced from Lost Property offices, tonnes of clothes sourced from jumble sales – which are displayed en masse, to seemingly represent the dead, lost or forgotten.  Our village life has its own day to day ubiquitous objects;  broom, pick, plastic carrier bag and bottle, scythe, bowls, cauldrons, baking stones, plastic jar, hosepipe, tractor, blanket, kilim, shalwar, all manner of clothes…..  in my mind these objects represent not the dead but the continuum of life and are temporarily identified with individuals who are born, live and die here.

Sounds, smell and light are part of the environment in which I live.  The sounds of dogs barking and owls hooting at night, voices carrying across the valley; cocks crowing at dawn; chainsaws cutting wood, tractors working away; goats bleating and being directed, bells tinkling;  crickets grating in the heat; the muezzin singing, marking the passing of time.  The smell of cooking fires, pine, eucalyptus.  The unobscured light of sun, moon and stars repeating their passage every day from before any of us were here till after we’re all gone.


References

 

Art and Today, Eleanor Heartney, Phaidon Press 2008

Christian Boltanski, Collective Unconcious by Nora Landes, at http://mariangoodman.com/sites/default/files/Musee%20Magazine%20%28Fall%202014%29.pdf accessed 01/07/2017

Christian Boltanski, “Tamar Garb in conversation with Christian Boltanski,” in Christian Boltanski (London: Phaidon Press, 1997), p. 24 at https://www.guggenheim.org/arts-curriculum/topic/christian-boltanski, accessed 01/07/2017

Tate Magazine Issue 2, Studio: Christian Boltanski, 2002 at http://www.tate.org.uk/context-comment/articles/studio-christian-boltanski (accessed 01/07/2017)

Tom Lubbock, The Independent, 07/05/1994 at  http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/remembrance-of-things-past-christian-boltanski-is-a-multi-media-artist-theres-the-book-the-triple-1434581.html

R5 – The work of Charles Avery

 

Charles Avery

All web sites accessed 01/07/2017

‘Through an extended series of meticulous drawings and bold sculptures, London-based artist Charles Avery has created a fictional land simply called “the Island.” Avery’s entire body of work since 2004 has been devoted to the exploration and expansion of the customs, people, and cosmologies of this imagined place.’ https://www.artsy.net/artist/charles-avery   

His evocation of the Island is mainly through intricate and detailed watercolour drawings, but also encompasses painting, sculpture, text and print.  To say the Island culture is a complete fiction isn’t quite true, as it is clearly based on our own modern, western world in some respects (clothes, people’s appearance for example).  But he is imagining another world with fascinating differences from our own.  
 
Rebecca Partridge states ‘There are few contemporary artists whose practices travel the same imaginative distance as Charles Avery‘s. Initially a ten-year project, now a lifetime endeavour, ‘The Islanders’ is an entirely visual and textual depiction, part-excavation, of an imaginary island and its people.’  Berlin Art Link, 2017, at http://www.berlinartlink.com/2017/03/28/charles-avery/. The artist, however, comes from an island himself, also part of a larger archipelago, and its quite likely in my view that his own environment exerts a significant influence on the portrayal of the imaginary Island.

Brian Dillon, in an article for Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, speculating on the provenance for the Island, mentions the floating island from Gullivers Travels, and H.G.Wells’ The Island of Doctor Moreau ( http://www.pilarcorrias.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/01/Avery_modern-painters_jan-2009.pdf).  Avery’s Island culture reminds me of Herodotus and his stories of other cultures in The Histories, 5c.BC,  (trans. Herodotus The Histories, Penguin Books 1996) with their weird and wonderful customs, fantastic monsters and so on – a mix of imagination, exagerration and reality, tall tales and conjecture. Herodotus though, insisted the marvels he described were faithfully reported by him from his own real travel experiences and other reliable sources. In both Avery’s and Herodotus work we can say fact and fiction exist side by side.
 
Herodotus came from the Greek city of Halicarnassus, present day Bodrum, on the western coast of Anatolia, which would have had close contact with the non-Greek Carian people of the region, from whom some among my neighbours are surely descended. I imagine myself standing in Herodotus’ shoes.  The Histories stowed in my boat, I sailed years ago through other mediterranean worlds to Caria and found a new and previously unimagined world here in which I’ve settled.  I can still observe my rural village world as though I’m seeing it for the first time, its people and culture are so ‘other’, and always surprising me. 

My thoughts for part 5 are developing along the lines of somehow portraying this ‘foreign’ world (in which I am admittedly the foreigner) and my experiences of it, from the mundane to the surprising, so that the viewer can enter my world, and I can record my experiences and memories of it, against the day when inevitably I will leave for the last time.

My concern is that I don’t romanticise or exoticise.  In making my collection I need to avoid anything twee, sentimental, romantic, picturesque.  i would like to make work based on the observation of an anthropologist. Many of Avery’s drawings depict with cool detachment groups of Islanders in their environment, going about their ordinary everyday lives. In Avery’s work there are drawings of everyday objects, and there are physical objects too, ostensibly brought back to the ‘real’ world by visitors to the Island and installed in Avery’s exhibitions.  I’ve thought about what ordinary everyday objects I would include or depict in my collection – I listed some of them in my previous post here.  Other areas for investigation and possible inclusion are flora and fauna, geography, social practices, transport, industry, headgear, religious practices, ….My collection might include, as well as paintings, drawings, found objects, found images, posters, text, sounds, video.
 
Like Avery’s Island, and Herodotus’ Histories though, my depiction of the present-day culture I live in can never be complete, and my Paper Musum will inevitably offer only glimpses and fragments, leaving the viewer to unpack meaning from my chosen artifacts.  Avery homed in on separate themes for different phases of his Island work.  Perhaps for part 5 I need to narrow down my area of investigation; my selection of subjects could be chosen, for example, to highlight the rapid transition from traditional, rural culture to modern-day consumerism.
 
There is a selection of Avery’s work at https://grimmgallery.com/artists/charles-avery/work/
 
 
 
References
 
 
 
Herodotus The Histories, Penguin Books 1996

R5 – the work of Archie Franks

 

Archie Franks

The works shown on Archie Franks own web site (http://archiefranks.com/) are a mixture of oils and watercolours, still life and landscape, which have in common a celebration of colour, close observation and a loose execution, a combination which I think is very appealing. Looking at his work will help me to home in on subjects which fit in the context of my theme, and avoid tight detail and picturesque approaches to my work.

Monster Munch with Moon for example (at http://archiefranks.com/portfolio/monster-munch-with-moon-2016/) is a thought-provoking painting for my own project.  The luscious painting of a garish snack packet is a very well observed still life; the artist has almost painted it as a painters parody of itself, in thick buttery brushfuls of glistening colour, highlighting the consumer’s self-gratification in eating the snack.    Contrast that with the other half of the painting, the moon in the night sky background.  There is a tension in the painting between the natural and the artificial that’s very much there in my environment too, where a traditional rural culture based on self-sufficiency is very rapidly being replaced with the modern culture of consumerism.  Franks’ own thoughts on this painting are discussed in an interview at http://www.jerwoodvisualarts.org/writing-and-media/francesca-blomfield-archie-franks-conversation/

Franks was Artist in Residence at Marlborough College in 2015-6.  The college writes that his work mixes ‘popular contemporary culture and the more mundane aspects of the artist’s own everyday existence” (http://www.marlboroughcollege.org/art/artist-in-residence/?no_cache=1&cid=1043&did=7983&sechash=0430c584)

I like the small (7×10″) watercolours on this website, on Franks own web site and at http://www.welcomescreen.biz/exhibitions/archiefranks.html.  Their small size makes them feel intimate.  They are loosely made using bold tones and his mark-making is done with panache.  The colours are very positive, but subtle, not straight from the tube.  My part 5 ‘paper museum’ will probably include watercolour works on paper, so keeping Franks’ watercolours in mind I will aim for a similar loose depiction of subjects, with confident colours and tones, and strong mark-making.

 

References

http://www.jerwoodvisualarts.org/writing-and-media/francesca-blomfield-archie-franks-conversation/

http://www.marlboroughcollege.org/art/artist-in-residence/?no_cache=1&cid=1043&did=7983&sechash=0430c584

http://www.welcomescreen.biz/exhibitions/archiefranks.html

http://archiefranks.com/

 

 

R5 – Looking at artists – brief study notes

From the courseebook list of 26 artists we’re asked to select three to research in greater depth.  I spent some time looking at all of them and made the brief notes which follow, before homing in on my chosen three artists, which I write about in my next post.


Aide memoire

 
  1. Anna Atkins – photographer, cyanotype, algae, leaves
  2. Audubon – Birds of America
  3. Sİckert – eg Dİeppe
  4. Marİa Merrİan  – insects forensically painted in bright watercolour
  5. Delaney – cut and paste flower collage
  6. Karsten Bott – collects and displays mundane, unwanted objects of our time
  7. Christian Boltanski – lost and forgotten people, mountain of clothes
  8. Marcel Broodthaers – Belgian conceptual artist, mocks art establishment – Musee d’art moderne.?
  9. Charles Avery –  fictional island, watercolour drawings
  10. George Shaw – suburban landscape paintings
  11. Lisa Wilkins – small china ink drawings of her experience of growing up in the nuclear age
  12. Lee Maezler – oil painted ruins of peoples rooms, bomb sites, dirty kitchen sink
  13. Hayley Field – abstracts – colour fields, vestiges of figuration
  14. Nathan Eastwood – monochrome, tough, mundane lives, laundrette scene
  15. Robert Priseman – celebrities as religious icons; execution, murder and murderers
  16. Kathy Prendergast – city drawings; painting over maps
  17. Tanya Wood – photorealist drawings of surfaces (pillow) and commuters
  18. Cornelia Parker – sculptor and installation artist – 30 pieces of silver
  19. Alex Hanna – serial painter of simple objects, in gentle coloured greys
  20. James Quin – pass
  21. Archie Franks – small impasto oil paintings of food – leg of lamb, monster munchies, crumpets; and watercolour land/town scapes
  22. Tim Stoner – colourful oils – interiors, inside looking out, landscape from his homes
  23. Karen Densham – cute subjects made sinister
  24. Terry Bond – highlighting the everyday in witty readymades, photos
  25. Mario Rossi – photographer creates geometrical overlays of repeated images
  26. Michael Landy – 

 

Brief notes

Anna Atkins – 19c. botanist and pioneer photographer, made cyanotypes of algae, published first book illustrated with photos.  Some examples of her cyanotypes of natural objects are at  http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/anna-atkins-google-doodle-celebrates-216th-birthday-of-botanist-who-produced-first-photographic-book-10109935.html#gallery .

I did some research on the cyanotype process and think I’d find it hard to source the necessary chemicals here.

John James Audubon – ornithologist, naturalist and painter, famed for studies depicting American birds in natural surroundings.  Preparatory watercolours for Birds of America are held by New York Historical Society.  This Trumpeter Swan is painted in watercolour, graphite, oil, black ink, black chalk and white gouache.  The bee-eater, the turtle dove and the swallow are the birds I love to watch when they visit us.  The sounds of the little owl and scops owl, and the nightingale are part of our summer night times.

 

Walter Sickert – painted his environment in Dieppe – shops, cafes, architecture, people, townscapes. See my POP blog here.  My village is a rich source of subject matter – architecture, people and animals, landscape, people’s household things and farming implements, shops and cafes.

 

Maria Sybilla Merian – German 17c. naturalist, entomologist and scientific illustrator.  Studied and painted the insects of Suriname, esp. the metamorphosis of the butterfly.  Her paintings, such as the one below, are mainly watercolour.

https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/themes//maria-merians-butterflies/the-queens-gallery-buckingham-palace/branch-of-pomelo-with-green-banded-urania-moth Branch of Pomelo with Green-Banded Urania Moth   1702-03

Watercolour and bodycolour with gum arabic and gold paint over lightly etched outlines on vellum | 36.7 x 28.9 cm

 

Mary Delaney – 18c. artist, she created detailed, precise images of flowers by cutting and pasting hundreds of tiny pieces of coloured tissue-paper – flower collages.  She also created garden designs, made shell decoupage decorations, and embroidered elaborate designs on dresses and furniture.  

Karsten Bott – collecting and categorising everyday objects is central to his practise.   He displays unwanted detritus of our consumer culture in his ‘archive of contemporary life’ within another museum. He also photographs his collection of objects for a sort of encyclopedia ‘One of Each’.   His collecting is a process which can never be finished.   His displays “trigger memories and associations in visitors, revealing the power objects have in the construction of individual and collective identities” Karsten Bott Museum of Life Gallery Guide page 2, Nicholas Thornton, Norwich Castle Museum and Art Gallery, at  http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/view/NCC081823 and http://www.formfollowsbehavior.com/2008/06/25/collecting-as-art/

An article about Grenfell Towers tenants’ loss of their entire homes seeks to explain the connection people have with their stuff:

“Research into the psychology of ownership has shown that we come to see our possessions as extensions of ourselves…when disaster survivors lose their homes and belongings, they often experience a profound sense of personal bereavement, as if a part of their “selves”, their identity, their story, has gone forever…part of the reason that many of our things mean so much to us is that we think about them in an almost magical way – for instance a gift from a loved one may feel as if it is imbued with the essence of that person…This magical thinking may also apply to the home itself”

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-40294075

I dont feel strongly visually excited about the stuff in my home – but even so, I suspect that to an extent it is part of my identity, my story.  Maybe why I found Part 4 projects difficult.  I do feel an emotional attachment and sensory pull to the landscape I live in, and my village- the neighbours and the outdoor world. So this is where i want to concentrate my part 5 efforts.

 

Christian Boltanski – b.1944  photographer and Installation artist – objects serve as reminders of human experience –  rooms filled with worn clothing items represent eg the holocaust the lost and forgotten.  Good article here https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/13/christain-boltanski-grand-palais-paris?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

I wonder about making my part 5 project about evoking the memory of the past and present lives of inhabitants of my region, trying to express the timeless and ancient quality of the place.  Paint people, and everyday objects used by them.

 

Marcel Broodthaers –  Difficult for me to grasp at the mo, but useful analysis of his work here http://www.theartstory.org/artist-broodthaers-marcel-artworks.htm

 

Charles Avery – his practise is devoted to depicting the culture of a fictional island, in drawings, sculpture, installations, video, text.

Or there is a rich source of material in the present day culture of my envirinment, which is a foreign land and sometimes seems like a fictional island to me!

George Shaw paints unregarded suburban landscapes in humbrol enamels on mdf.  Also trees and woods and traces of human oresence in them.

Lisa Wilkens – small scale drawings (chinese ink on found paper) to do with growing up in the nuclear age – fragmented memories, personal and impersonal, of a period of history.  

Lee Maelzer – rooms as wrecks, ruins and messes.  Dirty kitchen sink.  Palette and tones reminiscent of Sickert.

Hayley Field – paintings start with observation (people, places, memories) and move from figuration through reworking to abstraction, nuanced colour fields.

Nathan Eastwood – photographs local non-descript, mundane scenes (men at laundrette) , selects (manipulating lighting etc digitally) and paints, often in monochrome, in enamels on mdf.  His choice of scenes reflect people who live tough and monotonous lives.

 
Robert Priseman –  overpainted religious icons with portraits of modern celebrities. Earlier projects include paintings of execution apparatus, nazi portraits, murder sites, portraits of murderers
 
Kathy Prendergast – A rich seam of her work shown here http://www.kerlingallery.com/artists/kathy-prendergast/artist_works. Famed for City Drawings.  Her work with painting over maps, particularly watercolour on nautical charts, is intriguing.  Also The Grey Before Dawn painted on fabric.  Uses objects that have thier own history eg clothes, jars, maps.
 
Tanya Wood – careful, meticulous realist pencil drawings of everyday surfaces, and the impressions left by humans – pillows, paper bags; weeds; rope;  and of commuters at a railway station, observed from above or behind
 
 
Cornelia Parker – 
Crushed pieces of silver – fascinating interview and analysis here http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/parker-thirty-pieces-of-silver-t07461
 
Alex Hanna – painter of disposable amd worthless objects – bubble wrap, pill packets, piles of paper, crumpled paper – and fabric – pillows and curtains.  Recent paintings are in relief, maybe incorporating eg marble dust.  Monochrome, lovely coloured greys.  Singular focus, painted over many years.  Reminiscent of Morandi in simplicity of subject and subtle treatment, but Morandi’s objects were often decorative
 
James Quin – pass for now – dont get the relevance of his work to this project
Archie Franks – 
Love the fun of his luscious oil paintings of food (crumpets), animals (pigeons feeding frenzy), gadgets (beer taps).  Some great small (7×10″) watercolours on his web site – Time, Super Chariot Racer, Short Notice, here http://archiefranks.com/works/ and here http://www.marlboroughcollege.org/art/artist-in-residence/?no_cache=1&cid=1043&did=7983&sechash=0430c584 
 
 
Tim Stoner – 
Really enjoyed looking at his paintings and charcoal drawings on his web site, because the compositions and bright colours resonate wirh me.  He is painting place; interior, garden, landscape, and transitions between inside and outside. 
 
Karen Densham – 
Paints cute subjects, and makes them sinster. visual puns, double meanings.  Playful twists.
 
Terry Bond – 
Readymades, photos, films, sculptures – fun, visual puns, jokes; need to get the joke to appreciate the art. “Post Duchampian observational skills”, showcasing “the accidental presence of art in the everyday”. 
 
 
Mario Rossi – 
Photographer with painterly vision, creates geometrical abstracts of images through repetition and overlaying, composite images with mathematical / musical feeling.  Reminiscent of cubism, the image fragmented and seen over time and from slightly different viewpoints.
 
Michael Landy – 
 
 
 

References

 

http://archiefranks.com/works

http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/anna-atkins-google-doodle-celebrates-216th-birthday-of-botanist-who-produced-first-photographic-book-10109935.html#gallery

http://www.kerlingallery.com/artists/kathy-prendergast/artist_works

http://www.marlboroughcollege.org/art/artist-in-residence/?no_cache=1&cid=1043&did=7983&sechash=0430c584 

http://www.museums.norfolk.gov.uk/view/NCC081823

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-40294075

http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/parker-thirty-pieces-of-silver-t07461

http://www.theartstory.org/artist-broodthaers-marcel-artworks.htm

https://www.royalcollection.org.uk/collection/themes//maria-merians-butterflies/the-queens-gallery-buckingham-palace/branch-of-pomelo-with-green-banded-urania-moth

https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/jan/13/christain-boltanski-grand-palais-paris?CMP=Share_iOSApp_Other

R4 – Research, tondo painting and the domestic interior

Michaelangelo’s Doni Tondo is a portrayal in a round composition of the Holy Family, and it demonstrates how this circular format seems to create a sense of intimacy, unity and harmony.  The subject, the family, stand out as almost the only content of the painting.  They take up most of the surface area; around them,  the background is reduced to a monochrome frieze of figures, and the foreground is a dull, tonal area of nondescript grass.  The family themselves by contrast are brightly coloured and sharply in focus.  Similar in composition is a tondo by Ford Maddox-Brown which I saw in the Fitzwilliam Museum, The Last of England, a portrait of a couple looking back from the deck of their passenger ship as they start a new life. The focus is all on the couple, but there is plenty of nautical activity and rolling seas going on in the background in a very toned down way.

I saw Philip Guston’s tondo, Bombardment at the recent RA exhibition, ‘America After the Fall’.  It depicts the aerial bombardment of a civilian population.  Using a tondo format, associated with the Renaissance, Guston has made his painting into a general commentary,  creating a universal rather than a specific image.  The painting seems to me to resemble Michaelangelo’s work in the way the figures are painted flying through the air, as in the Sistine Chapel, their limbs dramatically foreshortened, and in the colours and the way in which the drapery is painted.

I looked at Mark Fairnington‘s work in Part 1.  His series of animal eyes are extremely finely painted but the detail is secondary to the overall effect.  Viewing them again I feel an empathy with each animal.  Each one seems alive, delicate.  The eye is the most vulnerable, sensitive part of any creature, the only organ unprotected.  There seems to be sympathy from the artist for the animal equivalent of the ‘human condition’ .  The small (35cm) tondo format seems to concentrate the viewer’s focus on the central subject, the eye.  Such intense concentration on one element of a painting  is perhaps particularly suited to the tondo format.  I don’t feel I could aspire to such painstaking work, which surely must necessitate physically demanding hours on end poring over each canvas.

Contrast his work with the eyes of Marc Quinn.  They are painted photo realistically in oil, each one depicting an enlarged 1.5m diameter) human İris, with its black central pupil.  But like Fairnington’s eyes, there is a lot more conveyed by the artist than in a photograph; we find a world of depth and richness in these stunningly beautiful irises,  “a kind of microscopic map of an individual’s identity” (marcquinn.com).  In some of the works, for example Map of Where You Can’t See the Stars’, a world map is superimposed on the iris.

Both artists are painting hyper-realistically; Fairnington describes the eye of his subjects in closely studied detail, and in doing so portrays the spirit of the animal; Quinn takes description in a different direction, superimposing his artificial concept of the eye as identity, as mirror of the soul etc, and its connection to and impact on the world.

 

I didn’t find any tondi by Roxy Walsh, but I enjoyed looking at her series Lady Watercolourist at Home and Lady Watercolourist Abroad.  These are watercolour on paper (A4-A5) and the immediate thing that I notice is the intensity of pigment. These are no wishy-washy watercolours.  But she retains translucence, presumably by limiting the mixing of too many layers and pigments.  Contrast to these the series Felix Culpa, watercolour on linen, which have very beautiful stain like tints with accents of sharp, bright pigment.

Iain Andrews says his paintings begin with a folk tale or an image from art history, which he then plays with, retelling and embellishing.  In the past he would work from photocopies of an image, cutting, rearranging into a collage to form the starting point for a new painting.  This is a technique I may try in my Part 4. More recently, he pours paint thickly and allows it to dry into wrinkled, crusty surfaces, then teases out forms by adding shadows, until the painting just begins to suggest some thing – becoming both abstract and figurative at the same time.  I like the possibilities of using similar techniques in my own practise.

Henny Acloque – her web site helpfully reveals the development of her work since 2010.  In her 2011 oval format paintings the artist superimposes flat abstract areas of colour onto landscapes after Breughel, Durer and Cranach.  Later, 2013, these develop form, described by contours painted in bright harlequin shapes.  The forms suggest strange other-worldly animals.  The harlequin forms break up and  develop into fairy-story spear-throwers and flying monsters.  Then more recently the paintings are cut into strips and rearranged until all appears fragmented.  Her web site talks about layers of paint and reflective varnish; they would have to be seen to be fully appreciated.

There is a cartoon quality in the harlequin forms – they can be seen as representing the irrational in a realistic setting.

 

Virginia Verran – the tondo features quite prolifically in her work.  She combines drawing and painting, using watercolour with pen and pencil to make strong marks and recurring motifs expressing her inner world.  Drawings such as Bonner-space (repetition), 2013 and PLINY, 2011-12 convey explosion, bullets, chaos, the hardware of war, as well as more organic motifs.

 

 

Other examples of tondo painting:

Pierre Bonnard, Bathers in a Park, 1908.  Oil on canvas 28 inches.

I found this oval painting in The Artist and the Camera, p244.  The oval format is used to contain a very intimate scene of the artist’s family children bathing.  It is a clever composition – an outer oval of dark foliage further encompasses and protects the bathers.  I like how the figures are lit by a warm light from above, and this light is reflected in the pool.  It was interesting in the book to see alongside the painting a collection of photos of the same subject.  In the photos adults are in evidence supervising the play; by omitting them from the painting Bonnard has given the scene an entirely different appeal.

Geraldine Swayne – Fake Ancestor # 5. 8cm diameter, enamel on copper portrait http://thefineartsociety.com/artists/112-geraldine-swayne/works/9448/  

Nalini Malani tondi in Vitamin P2, are reverse painted on acrylic sheet, in acrylic, ink and enamel.  I looked up reverse painting and it means applying paint to a transparent substrate ( eg glass, acrylic sheet), reversing the usual sequence of backdrop followed my middle ground and finally detail, so that you paint the detail first and the backdrop last; then viewing the painting from the reverse side.  Apparently the technique dates back to Byzantine times.   Malani’s paintings here have a warm and dreamy quality.  Traditional folk arts like glass painting, shadow play and kaleidoscope influence her work.  Her themes encompass oppression, war, violence and fundamentalism.

The domestic interior

As painted by Charlie Day the domestic interior is seen as a series of single objects painted in isolation, which taken together add up to a picture of his domestic world.  I can see the influence of Richard Diebenkorn who chose single objects in a field of interlocking colours as subject, and painted in an expressive, impasto style.  I had a look at Wayne Thiebaud‘s paintings of collections of everyday objects, arranged them in serried ranks.  His subjects are colourful, sweet and sugary.  Day and Thiebaud may have been influenced by Philip Guston’s late cartoon style work, and his rendering of personal objects.

Tori Day says her work “concerns the overlooked and mundane; things that might otherwise not be celebrated but which carry with them the marks of people’s lives”.  I can see this quite poignantly in her current series ‘Work’, a series of paintings of old carpentry tools painted on reclaimed Georgian floorboards.  She paints them in strong light, against a backdrop which she also includes in her composition, complete with masking tape and bulldog clips. The objects themselves are beautifully rendered with all the traces of their long history.  The strong cast shadows the lighting creates add importance and solidity to the humble objects,  Her palette is subtly colorful, restrained and elegant, which I admire and envy, with my tendency towards bright childish colour.

Tori Day also paints in watercolor;  her ‘CDs’ series, as the name suggests, portray cd cases, mimicking their designs in watercolor, each carefully placed centrally on a vellum surface.  Also on Day’s web site is a collection of watercolours again of everyday, mundane objects painted in isolation apart from their own cast shadows.

Jacquie Utley paints pastel coloured interiors peopled by elegant women in a recent series.   There are also rather pretty flower still lifes.  Despite the surface eye-appeal Utley depicts an intriguing, mysterious atmosphere in her work which Id like to achieve too.

The tondo painting project in Part 4 is concerned with the domestic interior, and my research has shown me that subjects need not be ornamental to be worth painting.  Tori Day in particular seemed to me to depict mundane objects in an extremely engaging way; maybe by looking so intensely almost any subject when painted can be endowed with an importance and can communicate the painter’s response and feelings about it.

References

wikipedia.org

markfairnington.com

roxywalsh.com

hennyacloque.com

charliedayart.co.uk

toridayart.co.uk

Vitamin P2 Pub Phaidon 2011

The Artist and the Camera by Dorothy Kosinski, pub Yale University Press, 1999

 

R3 – loose paint and monotype

We understand and read faces from the background of our own culture and experience, and that is why it is confusing looking at the faces of people from different cultures – we see strangers, whose faces and identities we struggle to recall in any detail.  I believe this phenomena is also intimately connected with the disruption in communication which occurs between two people, one of whom understands the basics but not the subtleties of the others’ language; we lose the intimate link between face, expression, and the spoken word, that helps us define and learn individual identity.  Yuko Masu expresses this breakdown of understanding in her paintings with a sense of despair and frustration, obliterating, smearing and blurring the heads she cannot read or assimilate the details of.  It’s particularly telling that she exagerrates the differences between western and eastern features – western eyes become as big and round as saucers, the sockets exposed.  Henry Tonks’ portraits are different altogether; they were realistic detailed studies of faces actually disfigured by battle wounds.  I can see there are some superficial resemblances with the distortion of features; but Masu’s faces are disfigured by her inability to comprehend the person in front of her, Tonks’ by unflinching observation of the incomprehensible.

 

I was interested in Eleanor Moreton‘s watercolour ‘Sisters’ shown in FAD Magazine here  http://fadmagazine.com/2012/11/24/eleanor-moreton-i-see-the-bones-in-the-river/ (there are other similar ones in the artist’s own web site). The painting has a photographic quality, possibly due to its source, but also because of the monochrome treatment.  I love her metaphor for the process of painting as a ‘dance’ –  intuitive when it’s going well. She describes how she likes painting on a smooth surface, and how at the time she was using brown cardboard as a support for her thinly painted oils.  The series referred to in the course manual, Absent Friends, was of portraits of female writers and singers the artist admired, painted in oil and pastel on birch panels, seen here http://www.eleanormoreton.co.uk/absent-friends-1/. In all of them you can easily see the smeared brushwork in the thin oil paint, not done to obliterate as Nasu does, but simply as a way of applying the paint..

Kaye Donachie‘s atmospheric portraits of historical female figures appear as if veiled with other layers of light and shade and outline, dissolving into other forms.

I also like very much Laura Lancaster‘s messy portraits, usually whole or three quarter length groups of figures, which seem to have photographic sources as reference.

Kim Edwards‘ monotypes of the Suffolk coast ( http://www.kimedwardsartist.com/gallery_686792.html )make no concessions to the beauty of that landscape.  Without being picturesque, I would want to express a very different experience from my days of living and sailing there.  Such unrelenting deep, forbidding grey is very rare.  Technically, it’s interesting that the course book says she uses thick oil for monotypes, as I had the impression so far that the paint will need to be quite thin to get a good print.

 

Annie Kevans‘ series of dictators as children show their sweet faces with a few delicate transparent washes of thinned oil on paper, and a very light touch.  They appear at first glance as monochrome sepia on old, yellowed paper, but looking more closely there are thin tints of pink, green, yellow, and of course black eyes on each one.  The series is provocative in its subject matter, and Kevans admits she made up some of the faces – it doesn’t really matter!  The works are portraits only in a loose sense, really being a composite of existing images, her research and her imagination.

42 more of Kevans’ portraits shown in Artsy.net – mainly female subjects – are similarly painted in thin sepia, but with colourful touches of bright blue and red her and there (I guess added later), like coloured photos.

She has created many more series, all with thought provoking concepts.

 

Kim Baker makes colourfully decorative, loose swirls of bright paint which seem abstract until you spot the shape of a bird amongst the brushmarks; in her latest (2017) series, Bird in Forest, they are composed in the shape of an oval, on a black background.  We can then interpret the swirls as leaves other forest.  They look as though made in a single brushstroke with a wide brush, loaded with several colours side by side (see also Manet below).  Alli Sharma uses dark backgrounds too, particularly in a series of cartoon-like animal portraits.  These cute furry animals have been made to show a grim and threatening persona by Sharma’s treatment; there is an air of menace which comes through in the human portraits too.

 

Looking at David Bomberg‘s work I found Circus (Abstract Composition) appealing for its light use of paint, ‘outlines and colour…creating a simple abract composition’ – https://artuk.org/discover/artworks/circus-abstract-composition-141712/search/actor:bomberg-david-18901957/page/2

In this self portrait: http://www.npg.org.uk/collections/search/portraitLarge/mw71457/David-Bomberg-Self-Portrait-with-Pipe oil paint is used by Bomberg’s in a very sketchy way to describe the subject.  I like the use of startling blue pigment among the gloomy tones to give the painting light, and differentiate the subject from its background.

 

I looked up Velazquez‘ techniques in the course-suggested book “Techniques of the Great Masters of Art”, p52.  It notes that his earlier paintings show attention to realistic detail, and talks about the care and detail with which many of his paintings were done, about his ‘smooth blended brushwork’ and how he ‘frequently made minor alterations’.  But then it notes that in the 1630s his handling of paint became somewhat freer and cites the light and sketchy gloved hand in the portrait of Phillip IV as an example.  This sort of brushwork was what impressed and influenced Manet.

In the same book, Manet‘s early work is said to have been made using slurred brushstrokes and a wet in wet technique, with colours mixed on the canvas.  In Déjeuner sur l’herbe, 1863 the figures are painted in thick oils, but the background by contrast was made sketchily, with thin, flat paint added later, around the figures (this approach does draw attention to the figures, which I will remember when I want to achieve that effect in my work).  Zooming into details, I can see the confident brushwork, which looks expressive of form in places, in others speedily executed with simple hatching.

The figures in Concert in the Tuileries, 1862 are also painted speedily, wet in wet, with rich, concise blocks of contrasting tone, and the background is done with thin greens, helping us again to separate background and foreground.

Much looser and unfocused is Manet’s handling of paint in Roadmenders in the Rue de Berne, 1878, in which you can see foreground details using distinct, vigorous brushstrokes, several colours to each stroke, and in the distance thin, opaque hazy blues and greens. According to the writer, ‘…loosely and broadly handled colour creates a sense of immediacy’ (p207).

 

 

This web page is about the history of mono printing and recounts various artists’ (Castiglione, Blake, Degas, Gaugin) practises http://www.monoprints.com/history.php

Many of Degas‘ pastels were done on top of his ghost monoprints.  Moma has some interesting insights into monotypes in general, and particularly compares those of Degas with Maurice Prendergast, Milton Avery and Elizabeth Peyton, here https://www.moma.org/explore/inside_out/2016/05/27/lasting-impressions-the-monotype-medium-from-edgar-degas-to-elizabeth-peyton/

https://www.moma.org/calendar/exhibitions/1613And here

According to the book ‘The Artist and the Camera’, page Degas made use of monotypes to depict dramatic tonal contrasts, often mixing his materials.  He had a passion for keepsake photographs of friends and family as well as self portraits.

 

Gaugin made delicately coloured watercolour monotypes; there is an example in ‘The Artist and the Camera’, page 121.  : see http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/cassidy/cassidy10-8-03.asp  for an explanation of his process: placing damp paper over the watercolour or gouache design and pressing with the back of a spoon would loosen the water based medium, transferring the design in reverse on to the paper. See also http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2007/impressionist-modern-works-on-paper-l07009/lot.112.html

Gaugin was also a pioneer in the creation of traced monotype – see ‘The Artist and the Camera’, page 121, in which the lines are blurred and textures appear where the artist has applied pressure on the back of the paper.  I watched this video explaining trace monotype process, and demonstrating the addition of watercolour and pastel https://youtu.be/vSBkHBQt7rU

 

I looked at the following contemporary artists who he monoprint techniques in their practice.

Therese Oulton makes monoprints combined with oil paint on paper. thereseoulton.com/portfolio/works/prints-in-the-Tate-collection/ and http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/oulton-untitled-p11197

I like the jokey, cartoon-like work of Sam Messer. Although it looks unpolished and scrawly, there is very deep observation, as well as a lot of fun in his images.  I couldn’t find any of his work directly referred to as monotype, but many of his paintings feel as though they may have started life that way.  I added one of his works to my Pinterest board ‘Monotype’  http://pin.it/xzuGk66 – this painting was sent to me by a supplier when I was looking for Japanese paper.

Charles Amoldi makes abstract monotypes .  In the one I’ve saved on Pinterest here http://pin.it/xVEwI9c he seems to have carved out abstract shapes from a black background, then maybe added paint and texture in the spaces created.

Kathy Muehlemann makes monotypes depicting natural scenes.  some are here http://richardtullis.com/Sites/Muehlemann/index.html and another in my Monotype Pinterest board.  She achieves dark, mysterious textures, the landscape seeming to evolve out of the process.

I found this an excellent student blog for giving me insights and ideas for monoprinting techniques https://suesprintmakingblog.wordpress.com/

References

http://fadmagazine.com/2012/11/24/eleanor-moreton-i-see-the-bones-in-the-river/

http://www.eleanormoreton.co.uk/absent-friends-1/

http://www.kimedwardsartist.com/gallery_686792.html

http://www.monoprints.com/history.php

https://youtu.be/vSBkHBQt7rU

http://www.artnet.com/magazine/features/cassidy/cassidy10-8-03.asp

The Artist and The Camera, Dorothy Kosinski, pub Yale University Press 1999

http://www.sothebys.com/en/auctions/ecatalogue/2007/impressionist-modern-works-on-paper-l07009/lot.112.html

Techniques of the Great Masters of Art, pub Chartwell Books Inc, 1989.