Wednesday 26 March 2014

Fever Afterimages

Though I haven't quite finished with my "Moments" series (there is at least one more related painting that I want to do) -- I have had ideas for another group of monoprints and a painting percolating for the past year! With this in mind, I started preparing canvas. The painting will be a free-hanging piece, unstretched. I am making use of end pieces of canvas, I have sewn 5 pieces together and made hanging loops. I wanted to pre-soak the canvas, so here it is hanging outside to dry. I plan to apply texture in the form of newsprint glued on, though it will be completely covered by paint not as per Maritime Alps and Tree Kids where the paint was translucent. 

As is my usual practice, ideas for new work generally show up on my greeting cards first. These were all created in 2013 for various occasions. I haven't yet decided on the composition or colouration for the painting, but I expect to have it worked out with the help of the monoprints and drawings, which I am starting this week.

 I am titling this body of work "Fever Afterimages". For once I am not tentative about the title!

Wednesday 19 March 2014

Artist Biography Films

Over the past few days I have been catching up on some of the films I have wanted to see for awhile. I am not sure if it is a coincidence or I just happened to be in the mood for artist biography films, but that is what I watched. Gustav Klimt is one of my favourite artists so I don't know why it has taken me so long to see this bio pic. "Klimt" stars John Malkovich in the title role, which gives a clue as to the type of film it is -- enigmatic, hard to follow, interesting...I love films about artists so I cannot be an objective critic here as I love seeing the necessary bits of painting as the artist is at work and reproductions of paintings like the one below, Two Women Friends, which was destroyed in a fire in the 1940s.

Klimt's drawings are always amazing.

Egon Schiele, Klimt's protegé and friend, was portrayed in the film by Nikolai Kinski. I cannot help being an admirer of Schiele's drawings. Below is a portrait of Klimt by Schiele. There is a fantastic scene in the film where Klimt and Schiele are in a café and take turns working on a drawing, just as something artists might do while having a coffee...

I read an interview with Michael Douglas when "Behind the Candelabra" was at Cannes last year and this film was put on my "to see" list. Douglas really was Liberace and the film co-starred Matt Damon. It is a fabulous film, fabulously and sympathetically presented, and the actors showed a real relationship between the older, eccentric Liberace and the younger, romantic lover. As a child I loved watching Liberace specials on TV because he was so entertaining and this film shows how he was so well loved by his audiences.

The third artist film that I watched recently was "Pollock" with the wonderful Ed Harris playing the artist and Marcia Gay Harden also doing an amazing interpretation of Pollock's wife, fellow painter Lee Krasner. The scenes of both Pollock and Krasner painting really got my heart beating!

Wednesday 12 March 2014

Spring in Wicklow - Kilmacurragh

Spring is definitely here, hurray! The last few days have been beautifully sunny and the plants are just loving it. I have been watching the pink blossoms on the tree outside my house get more abundant with each passing day and I am looking forward to "petal pollution" by the end of the month. Saturday required a return visit to the National Botanic Gardens at Kilmacurragh, about a half hour drive south of here (Bray). The snowdrops were in abundance.

Though the trees are slow to bud, the daffodils were happily looking around.

and so were the gorgeous purple - and the odd white - crocii. There were some low ropes along some footpaths, new since last time we were at Kilmacurragh, and I thought they might just be for temporary protection of these growing wildflowers.

I think this is probably not that unusual sight but seeing an artist painting en plein air is idyllic nonetheless. I did not want to disturb the artist at work, so never found out if it was a man or woman; despite the day that was in it, the air was still pretty chilly and the artist was well wrapped up for outdoor painting!

Kilmacurragh has only recently been taken over by the National Botanic Gardens, so it is still a hidden treasure: I think I saw the painter and 3 other people there. There was a poster for rhododendron walks every Sunday in March and there are a lot of trees on the property. I could see that all the rhododendrons were in bud, but this one tearaway section of a budding tree was in full bloom!

Wednesday 5 March 2014

London - Victoria & Albert Museum

There was so much to see at the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, I am so glad I finally made it there! The V & A was just not on my radar, as I had pre-conceived (and incorrect!) notions about the museum's collection. At the main entrance one is greeted by this lovely hanging sculpture full of lights.

The entrance has a double foyer so this hanging sculpture of blown glass modules is also lovely to see.

The Jameel Prize 3 exhibition was on; for more information click here (link to the V&A which also includes short videos of the artists at work. "The Jameel Prize is an international award for contemporary art and design inspired by Islamic tradition. Its aim is to explore the relationship between Islamic traditions of art, craft and design and contemporary work as part of a wider debate about Islamic culture and its role today."

Although I was not allowed to take photos in this gallery, I found some photos online of the work that I particularly like. These two carpets by Faig Ahmed are based on traditional designs, but in the left one the upper right corner of the design is skewed and in the right one the top quarter of the design is pixellated! The designs were obviously worked out with the aid of a computer bringing the traditions to the digital age. This is both amusing and effective.

Laurent Mareschal created a temporary "carpet" from spices.

Here is a detail of Mareschal's spice carpet. Kneeling on the floor beside it a delicious aroma wafted to my head.

Commanding the gallery was Nada Debs's "Concrete Carpet" with Arabic script carved into it, the font designed by fellow Jameel Prize shortlisted artist Pascal Zoghbi.

The carpet was created with multi blocks of stone. Here is a detail. The Jameel Prize exhibition included more than works based on carpets -- these were just the works that appealed to me.

As well as the huge sections devoted to permanent collections of artifacts in ceramics, furniture design, clothing design, jewellery, sculpture, historical artifacts, etc, there are also curated thematic exhibitions. We saw one about photography as fiction, which included the work of Jeff Wall and Cindy Sherman among others. There was also a gorgeous and eclectic exhibition of British drawing from the last few hundred years. I was pleased to see two elaborate Aubrey Beardsley pen and ink illustrations, a beautiful flower sketch by Frederic Leighton, an early David Hockney portrait, and this fabulous drawing, "Head Study Two, 2009" by Alison Lambert. The drawing is done in charcoal and soft watercolour paper, and has a heavy patchwork texture as she has glued additional paper onto areas and continued drawing over that.