11 July 2011 § 2 Comments
Amazingly I have now been blogging my way through the London art scene for a whole year now. I thank all those of you – some 20,000 – who have bothered to read my assorted ramblings.
Meanwhile, thanks to the nice people at WordPress, there are all sorts of reports and analyses to discover what the great British public (clearly in this case a notch above the average!) really are interested in. Which blogs were most read, the search terms you used to find the site and what you had for breakfast? I shall reveal all….
OK, not your breakfasts, but you get my drift – there is an awful lot of analysis available and there are all sorts of statistical traps to tumble in to, the chief one being that any ‘visitor’ analysis reflects what I have actually written about eg: Marc Quinn would not be on the list because I did not write about him. Another problem is that even if I wrote about ’Picasso’ daily who who click my blog amongst the zillions of Picasso search results? Treat the ‘charts’ below with caution but you never know they may actually reveal something?
1. Most visited and searched of the year, by a mile, was Pordenone Montenari, an unfortunate recluse who was rocketed in to the news by an Indian fund manager who thought that he could make a quick buck by promoting him as a newly discovered genius – he isn’t (image above).
2. I spent a couple of spare hours compiling a brief list of art-related humorous quotes and jokes. Sadly it trounced many deeply considered blogs of serious critical analysis and was second most searched. Oh well…
3. Amazingly Wolf Vostell came in third. I wrote just one feature about him and commented that he was sadly ignored in the annals of post-war art. Obviously not by many hundreds of you! Exhibition curators take note…
4. Ah, then comes the first contemporary artist – clearly it will be Emin, Hirst or Banksy perhaps? No, it is Eugenie Scrase, the oft- ridiculed winner of TV’s School of Saatchi. Ignore the power of TV at your peril. Worth a flutter if she ever gets a solo gallery show.
5 & 6. Perhaps we shall now get on to some serious art? Nope. Next is Ben Wilson the ‘chewing gum artist’. Well, he is quite interesting. Picasso slips meaninglessly in at 6th before the next half-dozen places. These are taken by contemporary artists of which I have featured literally hundreds, many of them mentioned numerous times. I have covered all the emerging artists championed for example by Saatchi and the top commercial galleries. Are these the ‘cream’ of those featured? Is too little being written about them? Should we take more notice of them in the future?
9. Alison Jackson. Hilarious and sometimes disturbing photos that ‘depict our suspicions’. Wry comments on our relationship with celebrity.
10. Wangechi Mutu. Striking paintings and collages referencing cultural identity.
11. Michael Fullerton. A brilliant show at Chisenhale and with work in British Art Now 7, his star is rising fast.
12. Following closely behind was Ida Ekblad, young and inventive Danish multi-media artist.
13. Clare Woods paints the strange, dark world of urban undergrowth.
Following close behind are Littlewhitehead and Toby Ziegler. A little farther back is Damien Hirst – perhaps surprising he’s not higher, but then again he does get rather a lot of column inches written about him.
Biggest surprise? Perhaps the fact that Tracey Emin is not on the list – or in fact even in the top 50 artists – despite the fact that my Love is What You Want Hayward review appears on the first couple of pages on a Google search and that I have featured her regularly when in contrast eg: Olivier and Ekblad I featured just once. Emin perhaps is not what you want?
So there we have it. After a year of careful and deep intellectual musing on the complexities of the contemporary art scene what you really were most interested in were an Italian recluse and a few jokes. Now where did I hear about that one legged, reclusive, dwarf, artist?
11 September 2010 § Leave a comment
Have you ever looked at a painting and wondered what might happen next? What about if the sun set a little or the model turned around? OK – I know that moving pictures have long been with us – the current Muybridge exhibition at the Tate giving early insight in to its origins – but Dutch artist Jacco Olivier, whilst combining the arts of animation, film and painting does actually create projected works that owe more than usual to the traditions of painting.
Using bold colours and free brush strokes Olivier repeatedly reworks initial paintings, the photographs of each stage in its development ultimately becoming an, often multi-layered, animated narrative. In his impressive painting style one glimpses the freedom of Matisse and the colours of the Fauves. Their semi abstract nature and emotional treatment of light evokes Howard Hodgkin, the abstract qualities often resemble those of Gerhard Richter.
There is little consistent theme to the works. Instead we are given a window in to a world where we glimpse what seem to be random, informal and seemingly insignificant scenes – simple scenarios from everyday life taking place in their own dreamlike environment. In the past Olivier has shown us such modest events as a plane flying overhead, a frog attempting to cross a road or whale lazily swimming by. He has said that his works represent someone “looking at the things outside, mixing them with his own memories and desires” although he does add “that’s all I need to make it work in my head, but is not necessarily something the viewer sees, or even has to see.” We do see a narrative, but it is just a part of the whole – we are still left to ponder on what is to come. There are no beginnings, no middles, no ends – no neat conclusions.
In the latest exhibition at Victoria Miro Olivier has become slightly less intimate than in the past. The works are larger in scale and have less emphasis on story-telling; the paint becomes more noticeable, the animation less so. His subjects, at least in Miro’s downstairs gallery, are traditional – the portrait, still life, landscape and the bather – the figures, where they appear, almost passive. A central family group is dwarfed as the landscape morphs about them (Reflection), a bather casually dries herself (Bath), a man slowly walks in to a pool of water (Transition), an aerial view of the countryside rolls uneventfully along (Landscape).
Upstairs is the impressive, twenty-four minute Revolution – a huge work that occupies the whole rear wall of Miro’s not insubstantial gallery. A day-in-the-life of an imaginary universe which, rotating slowly, reveals fantastical galaxies, clouds of gas and even a wiggling organism. The scale brings a physical presence as it evokes anything from Stanley Kubrick’s Space Odyssey ‘light tunnel’ to electron-microscope images or Hubble supernovas.
One occasionally yearns for the continuously morphing images to pause for a moment. There is a desire to sink more deeply in to the works and admire their painterly qualities; to perhaps absorb their aesthetic beauty at a more leisurely pace. Despite this one must admit that Olivier has undoubtedly created work with unique charm. Lying part way between painting and film, beautiful, intriguing, enigmatic and strangely hypnotic this is a world that I very much enjoyed being part of. Now perhaps if I cleared out the spare room and painted the wall white….?
- London – Jacco Olivier’s New Works (09.07.10 – 10.02.10) (hustlerofculture.com)
- Victoria Miro | interview (guardian.co.uk)
17 August 2010 § Leave a comment
The mid-summer lull in the London gallery schedules allows a moment for contemplation on what looks like a very mixed bag of Autumn shows. I just cannot quite work myself up in to a frenzy of excitment about this motley assortment of old hands and uninspiring newcomers.
Starting with public galleries the blockbuster Gaugin will undoubtedly be the major event of 2010 and amazingly his first major UK exhibition for 5o years. The Tate Modern promises that the exhibition will explore ‘the role of the myths around the man.’ Starts 30 September – stick it in the diary! Arrive after the 12 October and see what Ai Weiwei has installed as the 11th Turbine Hall commission. Recently involved in the Beijing Olympic stadium and then almost beaten to death for his political views he has said: ’Everything is art, everything is politics. You can call it art or you can call it politics, I don’t give a damn.’ Should be interesting.
Over at Tate Britain the schedule, starting 8 September, is totally underwhelming. Eadweard Muybridge (yes, correctly spelt) was a the 19th century photographer who ‘proved that a horse can fly’ with multiple images and anticipated the coming of cinema with the zoopraxiscope. He also travelled and documented America of the time. Just about worth dropping in.
Rachel Whiteread Drawings is the other choice – but why? Her casts of varied spaces, apart from being a direct steal from Bruce Nauman are getting tedious. Now she says this: ‘A lot of the works that I’ve been making over the years have been part of a cyclical process. I often feel a cycle is incomplete and need to tread the same path again.’ So now having run out of (someone else’s) ideas all she can do is more of the same again, but this time in drawings. Keep well away! The Gagosian, Daniels Street, is taking advantage with their own Rachel Whiteread exhibition on the 7 September – and I don’t see any reason to bother with this one either.
The Turner Prize 2010 exhibition is of course at Tate Britain too – from 5 October. Calming down in its old age but an interesting selection. Dexter Dalwood and Angela de la Cruz painting, sound artist Susan Philipsz and the multi-disciplinary Otolith Group. I like Dalwood but the inventive Otolith Group have to be my favourite.
The second part of Newspeak: British Art Now opens at the Satchi on 27 October. Despite the overwhelming mediocrity of the show it is strangely compulsive viewing, and there is a particularly nice cafe. Apart from that I can not wait to update my critics Saatchi league table from my previous posts!
The Royal Academy’s Treasures of Budapest starts on 25 September. Although there will be the opportunity to save the air fare to Budapest it doesn’t seem to be a show-stopper, but worth a visit. It promises Raphael, El Greco, Manet, Monet, Schiele and Picasso amongst others.
Of the smaller Galleries the Camden Arts Centre always seems to have something interesting. On 23 September Rene Daniels’ opens. His interesting work is ‘permeated through and through with writing, word games, literary references, visual puns, and allusions to art movements, institutions, and mass media.’
Of the private galleries Hauser & Wirth’s opens its expansive new Savile Row space on the 15 October with a Fabric Works of Louise Bourgeois - hardly inspirational, but I look forward to seeing the gallery. Of their other exhibitions the Piccadilly branch has the first posthumous show of Jason Rhoades’ opening 24 September. The exhibition features ’1:12 Perfect World’, Rhoades’ scale model of his groundbreaking 1999 exhibition, ‘Perfect World’ in Hamburg. Ho-hum.
At Haunch of Venison there is the strange choice of Loud Flash: British Punk on Paper, starting 24 September, which nevertheless looks like it may be quite interesting. Meanwhile do not miss the excellent Joana Vasconcelos and quirky animal-stuffer Polly Morgan whose exhibitions are currently on until the 25 September!
At the White Cube, Masons yard Christian Marclay opens on the 15 October: ‘Over the past 30 years, Christian Marclay has explored the fusion of fine art and audio cultures, transforming sounds and music into a visible, physical form through performance, collage, sculpture, installation, photography and video.’ Meanwhile over at WC Hoxton on 13 October Mark Bradford’s ‘multi-layered collaged paintings incorporating materials found in the urban environment’. Both may be worth a look but hardly captivating.
The pick of the rest are Jacco Olivier at Victoria Miro from 7 September - Olivier fuses colourful paintings with video – his works are delightful and fascinating. Finally Marina Abramovic is at the Lisson - god knows what we will see from the ‘grandmother of performance art’ but it is well worth a detour!
There we go – the best of the autumn? Not great and, in respect of painting very lop-sided. The public galleries mostly with retrospective painting, the private with, well all sorts from taxidermy to performance but pretty much steering away from anything on canvas . No demand? No talent? Are the private galleries out of sync with what the public wants - or is it the Public galleries? I will leave you to ponder the mystery….
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- Saatchi to Donate His Gallery and Art to Britain (nytimes.com)
- In pictures: 10 Years of Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall (news.bbc.co.uk)
- Nothing to see here – beyond the blockbuster exhibitions (guardian.co.uk)