My limited edition prints are proving popular as festive gifts. I have just delivered another batch to Jealous Gallery, and Aubergine Gallery still, I believe have a few copies in stock. I am not sure when the last Christmas posting date for the mainland UK is, but please contact the galleries if you would like to purchase a copy of either print before Christmas.
Copies of my limited edition laser-cuts Butterfly Ball and Heartbeat, can be purchased directly from myself either unframed or framed in an ash box frame.
Whilst at Victoria Miro I also took the opportunity to see these huge pumpkins adorned with Yayoi Kusama's trademark dots. A really timely show this, it being autumn and harvest - the season of 'mists and mellow fruitfulness'. Unfortunately when I visited they were covered with packing to protect them from damage because of building work being carried out at the gallery, so it is hard to see the scale. I like the fallen autumn leaves around their base though.
These pictures below are from the gallery website and give an indication of scale and weight as they are bronze so must weigh a ton. Kusama writes of her pumpkin obsession:
"Pumpkin head' was anepithet used to disparage ugly, ignorant men, and the phrase 'Put eyes and nose on a pumpkin' evoked a pudgy and unattractive woman. It seems that pumpkins do not inspire much respect. But I was enchanted by their charming and winsome form. What appealed to me most was the pumpkin's generous unpretentiousness. That and its solid spiritual base"
They are lovely and playful and reminded me of my early Pumpkin Head limited edition linocut prints when I was also obsessed with gourds and pumpkins. I saw them as being like children and an essentially feminine motif, pregnant, full of promise and a metaphor for creativity and spirituality.
Up to Victoria Miro to see Wangechi Mutu's latest show based on both African and her own personal mythology of "Sirens and Serpents". These are her trademark collages, but it appears that her recent work is incorporating more painterly textureswhich is an interesting development. She handles collage so wonderfully though, and these latest pieces are no exception featuring her almost alien/human hybrid figures.
I am not sure if Mutu was aware of John Everett Millais' Ophelia in Tate Britain, but I saw some parallels with the figures his painting and her piece, IfWeLiveThroughIt,She'llCarryUsBack, below. I couldn't help but compare the two. Whilst Ophelia sings in the water seemingly oblivious to her fate, Mutus' figure is all too aware of hers and finds solace in the water having jumped from the (slave) ship in the background.
In the gallery upstairs there is a great menacing installation of a female headed serpent asleep having devoured her prey. In the background a ritualistic video installation plays. Most artist's video installations leave me cold, but I found Mutu's to be compelling especially in the presence of that huge intimidating serpent.
The darkness of the gallery and the incessant hum of the video installation adds to the illusion that you have accidentally stumbled upon this serpents lair and if you rouse her with one false step, you may well beher next victim.
I had aresponse to my Icarus post of June in which I explained how the myth was informing my recent work with gilded paper feathers (above). The response linked me to this Youtube post of south London poet Kate Tempest performing her poem Icarus.
Tempest recently released her album 'Everybody Down' and received a Mercury Prize nomination for this. She has a new single entitled 'Guts' - a collaboration with south London MC Loyle Carner coming out on December 8th.
Thank you to whoever posted the link and bringing Kate's poetry to my attention as I was not aware of her before. I think it is an impassioned performance from a talented wordsmith. Press play and let me know what you think.
Not to be outdone by auction house rivals Sotheby's, Christie's broke all auction records with a sale last week which included Andy Warhol's Triple Elvis created from a still of his film Flaming Star in which he poses with a pistol (above), which sold for a staggering $81.9million (£51.6 million), and Four Marlons, a multiple image of Brando on a bike in a leather jacket (below), which made almost $70 million, (£43.9 million). These two did not beat the record for a Warhol piece sold at auction however. That distinction goes to Silver Car Crash (DoubleDisaster), which made $105.4 million at auction last year.
Sales from these two works along with other pieces from Cy Twombly, Willem De Kooning and Jeff Koons meant that Christie's Contemporary and Post-War Evening sale made nearly £536 million on the night - the highest sale of any auction in history. An extraordinary nights work!
A quick update on my Sotheby's post of last month where I managed to catch these and other pieces in London before they went to auction in New York. Auction sales records were again smashed at Sotheby's sale in New York last week. The star lot was Giacometti's Chariot (1951), above. As predicted it caused a sensation when it sold for $100million which makes it the second most expensive sculpture ever, (the most expensive being his Walking Man sculpture which realised $104million four years ago). Chariot is one of a very limited edition and this is one of only two which were enhanced with paint, and held in private collections. It is interestingto see the profile of sculpture being raised and now commanding the prices traditionally reserved for oil paintings.
Also commanding attention and a record breaking price for the artist of $70.7 million in the sale was Amedeo Modigliani's Tete (Head), carved from a single piece of limestone scavenged from a Parisian building site. I thought this piece was beautiful and had thought it would do well but was surprised at the price it made. It was however the first time it has appeared at auction so I can imagine the frenzied bidding from collectors on the night eager to own it.
Lastly, Van Gogh's still life painting, Vase with Daisies and Poppies, achieved a figure of $50 million and was one of the very few paintings that Van Gogh actually managed to sell during his lifetime. Although not an auction record for this particular artist, it is still a significant amount to be paid for any artists work. It was painted with flowers gathered from Dr Gachet's garden whilst he stayed with the doctor during a period of recuperation. On the night Sotheby's recorded their most successful sale in the company's history realising £263.9 million in sales.
On my way to Orso Major to deliver more work, I made a little detour and visited a lovely little exhibition a ten minute walk away that was packed with Edward Bawden gems - many of which I had never seen before. The show is at Morley College and is entitled "Edward Bawden Storyteller".
Bawden was one of the biggest influences on my work as an illustrator and lino-cut printmaker, and what is nice about this exhibition is that it is at Morley College, one of the venues where I used to print my linos. The work of Bawden and his great friend Eric Ravilious is very popular at the moment so I should imagine that this show will be very attended.
There are examples of Bawden's work in a variety of media - advertisement line drawings, linocuts, watercolour designs for stage and murals, book illustration and poster design.
It was good to see his original illustrations and compare these with the finished posters to see what alterations the printers had to make in colour and design to produce the finished posters. It was also interesting to see some tapestry designs and two small colourful tapestries created as a result of a visit to Egypt.
Although the linocuts are my favourites, the etchings are lovely it was great to get up close and examine the superb cross-hatching and line work in them. The concentration required must have been quite intense as the line work is so precise and dense in areas.
There is the large mural of Scarborough which Bawden created from collaged maps and watercolour painting, and also a charming Peepshow panorama of a Scarborough beach scene, and also two documentary films about his life and work. I also liked the personal quirky illustrations he created as greetings cards for friends.
This exhibition is apparently the first major survey of his work since the larger retrospective at the V&A in 1989. I found it very inspiring and well worth a visit. If possible do remember to take the opportunity to go into the main college building to see his wonderful murals in the refectory there as well.
Edward Bawden Storyteller runs until 26th November Morley College 61 Westminster Bridge Road London SE1