Wednesday 25 April 2018

Lucian Freud Symposium

Hot on the heels of seeing Daphne Wright's "Ethics of Scrutiny" curated exhibition of The Freud Project, I attended a day long symposium at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA). The programme of the symposium "Rethinking Freud & The Contemporary" was wide-ranging and fascinating.

The above photo by of Freud painting performance artist Leigh Bowery, taken by Bruce Bernard, along with a picture of the Courbet painting it emulated (below), was referenced several times during the day by different speakers.

The various speakers -- curators, artists, writers -- were all fascinating and added to the understanding of Freud (both his work and personal life). I was especially interested in what the artists had to say. Painter and inaugural Hennessy Prize winner, Nick Miller spoke about studio practice and portrait painting, and Daphne Wright, in conversation with writer Brian Dillon, spoke about her responses and choices as an artist curating the exhibition. Later in the day, the three Freud Research Residency artists spoke about their projects in response to the Freud Project at IMMA. Laura Fitzgerald's presentation was both humorous and significant as she, perhaps not intentionally, focused on portraiture. Sue Rainsford (collaborating with Bridget O'Gorman, who was not able to attend) discussed her project, A Knowing Body, which is at once both an intellectual and visceral development of work that takes a huge leap away and towards Freud!

 Performance artist Richard John Jones presented possibilities of work that echoes the relationship between Leigh Bowery and Lucian Freud. The eccentric Bowery was both a model and muse for Freud, the fleshy, nude portraits in many ways antithetical to Bowery's performance "disguises".

I find myself ever more curious about Bowery; I am a fan of the 1990s Simon Pegg tv show vehicle Spaced. I love the "Art" episode, and though I did not know at the time I first saw it, Leigh Bowery must have been the reference for "Vulva", the former partner of artist character Brian. Brian's wistful remembrances of performance duets, in flashback, are both hilarious and recognisable to anyone who has every experienced the absurdities of some performance art.

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