The Beers London gallery will be showing The Fantasy of Representation from July 31st until September 19th, 2015. The exhibition, curated by artist Andrew Salgado, explore figurative representation in painting featuring artists Hurvin Anderson, Francis Bacon, Gary Hume, Alexander Tinei, Dale Adcock, Scott Anderson, Sverre Bjertnaes, Alison Blickle, Daniel Crews-Chubb, Blake Daniels, Eckart Hahn, Aaron Holz, Adam Lee, Jenny Morgan, Justin Ogilvie, Lou Ros, Andrew Salgado, and Dominic Shepherd.
‘What counts is seeing, coupled with fantasy, with imagination...
- Josef Albers
It may seem paradoxical, perhaps, that an exhibition based on the wonderment of representational painting should lead with a quote by Josef Albers - one of the most regarded and unforgiving modernists of the 20th century. However Albers, as educator, theorist, stylist, and technician, has had some of the most profound effects on the world of contemporary painting, as any other leading artist. In some instances, his breakthroughs in colour-theory, and his insistence on the importance of the eye and the subsequent cognitive processes (as it relates to our understanding of art), can be read across discipline, media, or intent. These are not ideas beholden to abstraction, but ideas of abstraction that have bled into the other disciplines. They prove, above all, that fantasy lurks in even the most austere corners of representation. In some respects, as an artist myself, I often find myself returning to simpler ideas to find deeper complexities in my understanding (and execution) of art: ideas such as those laid out by Albers, to understand the challenges of a work, by, for instance, Francis Bacon, who is largely regarded as the greatest painter of the second half of the 20th century. The stark, uncharacteristic and often uncompromising combinations, favoured by Albers, can assist in our understanding of the unlikely combinations in some latter-career Bacons: where those unearthly pinks, lustrous ochres, blood-deep maroons, and army-greens truly come alive.
I'm inclined to discuss the paradox of the representational artist (I imagined Albers and Bacon in a boxing ring, though I'm sure nothing could be further from the truth), which introduces a disjuncture, to which the practice of the representational artist has been challenged, by those pure abstractionists. Today, it’s quite trendy to mutter the word ‘representational’ as some sort of pejorative term: that as representational artists, we are somehow less enlightened - clinging on to some banality of representation, as though aesthetically remiss or delayed in our artistic development, like we haven’t quite evolved into the higher realm of pure abstraction. Recently, during a studio visit I commented that for the first time in my own art practice, the ‘background’ held as much importance as the figure. My visitor asked, innocently enough: “then why do you still feel the need to paint the figure?” My response, simply enough: “Because I want to.”
Artist Andrew Salgado
Photo: Charles Moriarty
When looking at the contemporary abstractionists, the representational artists are expected toget it, (we doget it -you would never believe some of the abstractionists whose work I frequently look to for inspiration) and frankly, my practice has become stronger as a result. But the contemporary abstractionists do not look to us: they are not expected togetour practice. Such is one of art’s bitter ironies. The truth is, in accepting abstraction into our vernacular, the representational painter has become ambidextrous. We speak two languages; we are visually acrobatic: like moles in fake moustaches, infiltrating enemy headquarters, sleeping with their women, drinking their gin, but reporting back to that world of representation – often with a wink and a nod. But with our embrasure of abstraction, we have welcomed fantasy. Who knows, perhaps it is our Achilles tendon that we retain a desire to locate, anchor, inform; that paroxysm where a brushmark becomes a reference.
Truthfully, the intention of this exhibition is to showcase the work of talented painters, both emerging and established, who, I believe, are exciting representatives of the contemporary state of representational painting. An artist like Dale Adcock, for instance, straddles the line between such severe, stark abstraction, and pure imaginative figuration, so that classifying him as either seems impossible. Sverre Bjertnes transcends the expectations of the figurative artist: both hyper-real and 'not-at-all-real', a stylistic schizophrenic. In discussion on the telephone with Scott Anderson’s Los Angeles representation, we both referred to him, very casually and confidently, as a representational painter, and personally, I love that duality, where his work – ostensibly completely abstract – is actually anchored in some dreamy, shape-shifting (sur)reality. I see a tree. I see eyes. I see a monster. It makes my mind work…Tick tock, tick tock, tick tock...
I'm reminded of a seminal and telling essay on Cézanne by the celebrated essayist Clement Greenberg ( “Cézanne: The Gateway to Painting.” The American Mercury. 1952)in which the critic credits the influential Modernist with separating thethingor (for you art-nerds out there)referentfrom its painteddepictionto itsessence, reduced to a colour, a feeling, a suggestion in planar space. Chuck Close writes something similar when he criticizes (or at least critiques) Andrew Wyeth's remarkable Christina's World (Chuck Close. “The Great Illusionist.” Financial Times. 2006.), for erroneously paintingeach bladeof grass (I imagine him saying this with some long-held disdain for the banalities of grass), as opposed to painting theideaof the grass. The naked eye cannot distinguish between blades, and as such, Close considers the divorce from verisimilitude as tantamount. An interesting argument, but Close is simultaneously a hyperrealist and a totally abstract painter (just look at his catalogue of works). A similar feat is made by Alexander Tinei, where superficial brushstrokes suggest a tattoo or a tribal mark, but perhaps appear from merely the artist’s whim todecorate, and though that has become such an ugly term in contemporary artspeak, I question much purely abstract art, which seems to have gone so far down the rabbit-hole that it has doubled back upon itself: entirely abstract art is often purely decorative, at times blank, (is the word pointless too accusatory?), often distancing or just too plainly hard to decipher. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily. In fact I love abstraction. I am often drawn more to purely abstract painting than I am to representational painting, but nobody likes to feel like the wool is being pulled over their eyes. In the best sense, it is evident that representational art is being pulled from its roots (just like grass!) and pushed into abstraction. I look at Justin Ogilvie’sPeasantpaintings and think:yes!Here a mark might be an eye, but on another level, it is only a mark, the essence of a thing, always abstract, always representational, always somewhere in between. And what a beautiful thought that is! I’m reminded of the Kate Bush song where she sings aboutThe Painterwhen she croons, “lines like these must be an architect’s dream”. (Kate Bush. “An Architect’s Dream.” Aerial. 2005.)
Above all, this exhibition is something of a celebration of painters: a series of representational painters' painters, who illustrate the infinitesimal possibilities of imagination, as introduced by representation; its bounds, and our desire (as artists and viewers alike), to transcend, to challenge and to subvert. And it is a vanity project, I guess, inasmuch as it allows me the opportunity, as an artist, to wear the mask of a curator, if only to momentarily present a group of artists from different eras, nations, styles, and movements, for no other reason than to celebrate their influence on (not only my own tiny practice, but) the state of representational painting today as a whole. Towards a new language of representation, where these lines are blurred, and what we are left with is not unlike a painting by Albers: a series of lines, colours, and delineations, only within the picture plane itself, to be deconstructed and reassembled as we please, limited only by the imagination of the viewer.’
Essay by Canadian artist and curator Andrew Salgado.
Developed in collaboration with the National Museum of Women in the Arts’s national and international committees, the exhibition series increases the visibility of artists who are working in innovative ways within a variety of creative communities.
Women to Watch is presented every two to three years and features emerging and underrepresented artists from the states and countries in which the museum has outreach committees. Each exhibition focuses on a specific medium or theme chosen by NMWA’s curators.
Organic Matters, the fourth installment in NMWA’s Women to Watch exhibition series, explores the relationships between women, nature, and art. The connection between women and nature has a long history, one that is fraught with gendered stereotypes and discriminatory assumptions. The contemporary artists highlighted in Organic Matters build upon and expand these pre-existing conceptualizations by actively investigating the natural world, to fanciful and sometimes frightful effect. Collectively, their work addresses modern society’s complex relationship with the environment, ranging from concern for its future to fear of its power. Through a diverse array of mediums, including photography, drawing, sculpture, and video, these artists depict fragile ecosystems, otherworldly landscapes, and creatures both real and imagined.
The exhibition features works by Dawn Holder (Arkansas), Jennifer Celio (Southern California), Andrea Lira (Chile), Françoise Pétrovitch (France), Jiha Moon (Georgia), Goldschmied & Chiari (Italy), Lara Shipley (Greater Kansas City Area), Rebecca Hutchinson (Massachusetts), Mary Tsiongas (New Mexico), Rachel Sussman (Greater New York Region), Mimi Kato (Ohio), Ysabel LeMay (Texas), and Polly Morgan (United Kingdom).
Polly Morgan, Systemic Inflammation, 2010
Taxidermy and steel, 130 x 113 x 113 cm
Photography by Tessa Angus
“Taxidermy is an ultimately futile effort to harness nature; it allows us to manipulate and control the body of an animal in a way we would struggle with, or, in my case, would not wish to in life. Seeing these birds outside of, but harnessed to, the cage presents a paradox: who is free, passenger or bird?”—Polly Morgan
Organic Matters — Women to Watch 2015, June 5–September 13
National Museum of Women in the Art
1250 New York Ave NW
Washington, D.C. 20005
Marcel Dzama, Miss Death Disco, 2014. Spray paint, ink, and collage on lithograph and silkscreen print. 13 3/4 x 11 7/8 inches (34.9 x 30.2 cm)
Marcel Dzama is a Canadian artist based in NY. While he is best known for his delicate psychosexual drawings, his work also includes sculpture, painting and video. He has just curated an online art auction on Paddle8, in support of the non-profit 826NYC.
826 was founded in 2002 by award-winning author Dave Eggers and award-winning educator Nínive Calegariby. Now with a network of creative writing and tutoring centers in seven cities across America, the 826 branch in New York is based in Park Slope and located at the Brooklyn Super Hero Supply Company. 826NYC is a nonprofit organization dedicated to supporting students ages 6-18 with their creative writing skills, and to helping teachers inspire their students to write.
New York based gallery David Zwirner is currently exhibiting the artworks. The auction features works from established and emergent artists such as Richard Prince, Raymond Pettibon and Eduardo Sarabia (in collaboration with Marcel Dzama).
Richard Prince, ‘What We Lose in Flowers...,’ 2012
Courtesy of the artist and ExhibitionA.com
This exhibition will be on view July 20-31 at David Zwirner Gallery, 533 West 19th Street, Manhattan. The auction will also be open for bidding online at paddle8.com.
Gary Webb's giant sculpture ‘Dreamy Bathroom’ is currently exhibited at the Cass Sculpture Foundation.
‘Dreamy Bathroom’ by Gary Webb, Cass Sculpture Foundation, 2014
Aluminium, bronze, automotive grade paint and lacquer, 350 x 150 x 150 cm
Cass Sculpture Foundation is an independent commissioning body dedicated to commissioning new work from emerging and established artists. It was developed as a charitable foundation in 1992 by Wilfred and Jeannette Cass. The Foundation's 26 acre grounds are home to an ever-changing display of 80 monumental sculptures, all of which are available for sale with the proceeds going directly to artists.
Gary Webb’s whimsical, texturised tower of joyful abstraction is composed of a number of individually crafted components. The use of bronze, which lends
Dreamy Bathroom a sense of sculptural gravitas, is pitched against the colourful, aesthetic playfulness of the shapes. Webb’s poetic assemblage of invented forms reference numerous objects – from Victorian fountains to decorative cushions – and art historical movements. The reflective, brightly coloured surfaces allude to, or parody, the kitsch appropriations of Pop Art, whilst the forms themselves are a nod to the post-industrial rigours of Modernism. Ultimately, however, the work’s meaning remains enigmatic. As Webb explains: “People can appear to share the same conversation, yet find each is talking about something completely different, or at least have a different take on it.”
Gary Webb's edition and unique works published by Other Criteria
Webb’s practice focuses on the formal interplay between contrasting shapes, lines, materials, fabrication techniques and points of art-historical reference. Rendered in a combination of industrial, organic and classical materials such as glass, Plexiglas, neon, wood, sand, cut metal, rubber, bronze and marble, Webb combines traditional craft methodologies with modern technologies, in order to create work that evades categorization, and tends towards the inscrutable. His colourful sculptures are often originally conceived as spontaneous drawing, about which he explains: “Every single time I’ve made something, I don’t know what I’m looking for, so in a way I’m on exactly the same level as the viewer.” The results are highly finished, humourous, yet poignant reflections on art history, human emotions, popular culture and our relationship with artifice, through the mediums of colour, form and texture.
Discover Gary Webb's works available at Other Criteria here.
Work: You Can save Me
oil and acrylic on canvas
30 x 36”
The Jerwood Gallery will be showing leading British artist, Rachel Howard, for her largest solo public gallery exhibition in the UK.
Howard distinctive, abstract paintings have been globally recognised and are held in many prestigious international art collections. The artist was born in County Durham and graduated from Goldsmiths College, London, in 1991. She was awarded the Princes Trust Award in 1992 to support her art practice, was shortlisted for the Jerwood Drawing Prize in 2004 and received the British Council Award in 2008. Navigating between the abstract and the figurative, Rachel Howard’s paintings explore the fragility of the human condition; examining the complexity of our emotional spectrum. She paints a multitude of human experiences and emotions and, for this exhibition in Hastings, has created a significant body of new work.
Over a dozen new paintings, ranging from large-scale canvases to smaller works, alter the rules of how the medium of oil paint is approached. Works such as You Can Save Me and Lean To draw on maritime themes to investigate the sense of being at odds with the world.
oil on canvas
36 x 30"
Rachel says 'I grew up on a farm near the sea on the North East coast of England, and having a permanent horizon every day to look at gives a wonderful reassurance in what can be at times a very uncertain world. My show at Jerwood Gallery explores both these aspects of certainty and uncertainty.'
In addition to this exhibition, Rachel Howard will be curating a one-room display which will showcase some of her favourite works from the Jerwood Collection.
Rachel Howard at Sea, Jerwood Gallery
Rock-a-Nore Road, Hastings TN34 3DW
18 July – 4 October, 2015
Eternal Love, Black and Gold – exhibited at Other Criteria London
Eternal, the collection created by Damien Hirst in collaboration with French historic crystal and glass manufacturer Lalique, takes as its motif the butterfly, which is presented in three series: Love, Hope and Beauty. These exquisite panels express Hirst and René Lalique’s shared sense of the magical and paradoxical beauty of the butterfly, ephemeral and eternal at the same time. Each series of crystal panels is available in 12 different colours in a limited edition of 50 pieces per colour.
"I’ve always loved crystal and it’s both beautiful and difficult to work with, so I’m really excited about the project. It’s amazing being able to use all the expert craftsmanship and incredible history of Lalique for something new, and the results are beyond all my expectations. I love that the panels have an almost religious feel, they make you think of stained glass windows which I’ve always adored, it’s the way they manage to capture colour and light so completely and then throw it back out at you. [...]
I see butterflies as souls and part of a wider visual language. I’ve always described them as universal triggers; everyone loves them because of their incredible abstract fragility and beauty. [...] I’ve always loved that they look identical in life and in death, but when the light shines through these panels, it feels like they’re brought back to life in some way." Damien Hirst, 2014
|The Eternal collection is exhibited at Other Criteria London and New York, and online here. |