artists to watch 6 – david brian smith

16 April 2011 § Leave a comment

David Brian Smith originally had to insert his middle name in exhibition catalogues to avoid confusion with multiple others of the same name. Nowadays it is less necessary as his talents have become more widely recognised. Picked up by the wily Carl Freedman gallery in east London Charles Saatchi has been quietly buying a few works – most recently The Birthday Party in a February charity auction. Smith recently featured in his Newspeak: British Art Now II exhibition, which incidentally closes on the 30 April 2011 – if you have not yet been it is well worth a visit – see previous post.

Drawing from his father’s background – a farmer in his native Shropshire – Smith has developed a unique style.He draws on autobiographical incidents and memories which root his colourful and intricate landscapes in the real world. With their ‘intense palettes, dramatic skies, folkloric subjects, and passages of pure dream-like invention, they radiate an almost spiritual quality’.

The Carl Freedman gallery has recently had a second – sell-out – solo show and another is planned for the end of the year whilst his latest piece, featured in Fruchtbaresland which opened last week (closes 14 May 2011), sold before the show opened. His work has a healthy waiting-list and anyone interested would be advised to get their name down  – or get in touch with me asap!

fruchtbaresland at carl freedman

14 April 2011 § 1 Comment

Fruchtbaresland (barren land) is, like every Carl Freedman exhibition, makes a detour to the barren lands of East London well worth while. A group exhibition that opens today, it includes Armando Andrade Tudela, Michael Fullerton, Thilo Heinzmann, David Brian Smith and Catherine Story.

At the end of the gallery a fabulous new work by Smith (another future ‘One to Watch’!) grabs the attention. He draws on autobiographical incidents and memories which root his colourful and intricate landscapes in the real world. With their ‘intense palettes, dramatic skies, folkloric subjects, and passages of pure dream-like invention, they radiate an almost spiritual quality’. Saatchi showed his work at British Art Now and has also quietly been buying more of his work.

Fullerton’s painting Something That Originates Or Results From Something Else; Outcome; Issue (2011) enters sexual and political territory and is one of his best. This striking portrait is of Mary Palevsky – is the progeny one of the creators of the atomic bomb – which ushered in the the nuclear age and a new political era. Having been included in British Art Now 7 – In the Days of the Comet,  amongst other important exhibitions, Fullertons reputation is rocketing  – no pun intended!

Thilo Heinzmann’s delicate landscape of splattered pigment is also excellent and gives the exhibition its title. I am not really sure that this title really ties the works on show together and it is clearly an opportunity for Carl to show a number of his stable – but who really cares when everything in this small gallery is well worth seeing?

newspeak part 2 at the saatchi gallery

22 November 2010 § 3 Comments

Steve Bishop

Following the unremarkable Newspeak: Part 1, Charles Saatchi‘s review of ‘British Art Now’ continues with the opening of Newspeak: Part 2. I conducted a gloriously unscientific review of the critical opinions following Part 1 and planned to subsequently add the latest assessment to create an overall league table of artists and a full review of critical opinion to cover the whole.

Sadly, the second, similarly unremarkable, part has proved so unattractive to newspaper editors that only a handful of major papers have run a review. Here then, is a less than comprehensive selection of reviews followed in the next blog by a critics selection of artists – both good and bad.

Tessa Farmer

By way of a brief reminder Newspeak: Part 1  was, almost in one voice, branded as unco-ordinated – ‘a mess… the contents of someone’s attic’ (Independent). The quality was perceived as indifferent; ‘some good, some mediocre, some ghastly’ (FT) with ‘one or two instances of inspired brilliance’ (Guardian).

Five months down the line, we sadly have much more of the same. I wandered through one attractive space after another loosely filled with largely indifferent and uninspiring art. The critics agreed that Saatchi had perhaps once again used a scattergun approach to selection. ‘Arbitrary’ was Amy Dawson’s view in the Metro, adding that it is ‘difficult to make sense of this baggy hotch-potch of the good, the bad and the downright ugly’. Brian Sewell wondered if the work ‘truly represented British art Now’ whilst Laura Mclean-Ferris commented that the curating was ‘basic and clunky’ and that ‘if you want to see an exhibition that defines current art practice  Britain [then] this is not it’.

But was there a deeper concern – that there was actually not much good art out there to select from? Brian Sewell thought that, contrasted to Sensation and the period following, ‘there is nothing to excite nor offend’ … ‘British Art has fallen in to a trough of sameness’ (Standard). ‘There is little to get excited about’  concurred the Mirror.

Mustafa Hulusi

The only mild dissent, if you like, came from Richard Dorment in the Telegraph. He commented that the show was ‘strong‘ and gave a ‘good idea of what is going on out there’ but in the end what was out there was’ just the great big simmering bouillabaisse of good, bad and mostly mediocre art that we’ve been seeing for decades now’.

Once again there was little personal criticism of Saatchi himself and Brian Sewell seemed to hit the nail on the head observing that he was really ‘part impressario and part Svengali, part Barnum and Bailey’ and stepping in where the Tate should had not, to support the here and now of British art. It seems that – in the end – one has to say that there is not much confidence or consensus in quite what there is right here and right now!

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