Sunday, 23 March 2014

Ephrem Solomon: Untitled Life

I really like the graphic style of Ephrem Solomons' work, and having only recently discovered it, was glad of an opportunity to see it first-hand in this show near Oxford Circus in central London. Tiwani Contemporary Gallery is also a new discovery for me despite it being open for two years or thereabouts. They are a part of the burgeoning Fitzrovia gallery scene, and specialise in showing artists from Africa and its diaspora. Solomon is 30 years old and works from his hometown of Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

I initially thought Solomon's work was a series of lino-cut prints, but was surprised on close inspection to see that they are woodcuts which are then collaged and painted onto. This is a unique twist on traditional woodcut technique in which they are usually carved into and an impression taken from the block and produced as a series of limited edition prints. It is the first time I have seen this one-off woodcut technique and think it works well. 

The exhibition is comprised of a series of portraits - some close-ups of heads and others single figures or groups. There is an emphasis on space, pattern and symbols such as chairs and slippers which reference displacement and political regimes of both his country and others across Africa. I wondered why Solomon chose to collage fragments of torn newsprint paper onto the backgrounds of his pictures and was told that is how Ethiopians actually decorate their living spaces.

The works are hung unframed and this suits Solomon's strong imagery. Looking at the strong graphic imagery I was reminded of the graphic work of Erich Heckel (below), the German Expressionist artist and member of Die Brucke, whose prints produced in 1913, were influenced by African masks and carvings.

Solomon himself is influenced by Van Gogh and Schiele so there is a nice cultural exchange of ideas and styles coming full circle.

Ephrem Solomon: Untitled Life
until 29th March 

Tiwani Contemporary
16 Little Portland Street, W1

Wednesday, 19 March 2014

Aubergine Gallery

Aubergine Gallery and Picture Framing in Wimbledon, south London now stocks a selection of both my diamond dust and other limited edition prints. Their website is here.

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Lisbeth Zwerger - Leonce and Lena

Illustrator Lisbeth Zwerger has won almost every accolade that can be awarded to an illustrator, and is one of my favourites in the genre of children's book illustration. I was excited then to have her latest book arrive on my doorstep recently. Leonce and Lena is the comic story of two royals - Prince Leonce, and Princess Lena, and adapted from the well-known play by Georg Buchner. It was written in 1836 and is like a Shakespearian tale of mistaken identity in which the two main characters are due to wed, but are unaware that it is to each other, and how they eventually fall in love and their true identities are revealed.

It is good to see Zwerger's work develop with the inclusion of collage in this and the last few books that she has published. The use of patterned and marbled papers adds a nice textural element to her beautiful watercolour illustrations. A welcome addition to my collection.

Lisbeth Zwerger - Leonce and Lena
NorthSouth Books

Friday, 7 March 2014

Pond Gallery

Pond Gallery in Clapham will sadly be closing at the end of March. Linda Sell the owner has decided to retire. They are having a closing sale of artwork at discounted prices. Several of my pieces have already been sold but there are a few remaining pieces still available. There are discounts of upto 20%. 

I will be sorry to see Linda go as she have been extremely supportive not only of my artwork, taking it to Art Fairs such as Affordable Art in Battersea, but also on a personal level. I will miss popping in to drop off artwork and having a good gossip, and thank her for taking on and representing my work, as well as the sales over the years. And I would like to take this opportunity to wish her all the best for the future.

Pond Gallery 
26 The Pavement
Clapham Old Town
020 7622 4051

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Mark Shields: Host

Mark Shields is one of my favourite contemporary artists, and it's always a joy to go to a new show of his work to see which direction his art has taken since his last exhibition. His work is in a state of constant evolution and it is interesting to see the stylistic shifts his work has taken since his first exhibition at the Grosvenor gallery which I saw a long time ago as a student, to his new work currently on show there. Constants appears to be an underlying thread of spirituality, narrative, and a love of the human figure.

For this new exhibition (Host),which is split across two galleries, Shields has completed a set of 99 paintings of a single figure on muslin, each 5ft by 2ft in size. Shields looks as though he has been channeling the spirit of Roualt and Leger in some of the paintings and I feel that the figures seem restricted by the size imposed on them. It would have been interesting to see some of the figures break out of their confined, restricted format and developed into larger scale narrative compositions like in some of his previous work. They are of archetypes and seemed to me like figures adapted from Tarot cards, or Byzantine altar-cloths.

Shields states of this new series - "In early 2012 I had been combining collage and paint and ended up sticking patches of muslin over the paintings to allow quick changes to be made. The texture reminded me of the painted linen shrouds from Egypt, and I decided to work directly onto roughly cut muslin fragments with diluted oil paint. 

The ghosts and traces of disintegrating, overlaid images made me think of the image as a residue of an almost ritual act rather than as the result of mere picture-making. This and perhaps associations with the Turin shroud and embroidered Byzantine altar-cloths led to the painting of full scale figures on narrow sections of cloth. It seemed natural that there should be a large number of these and that the number should be incomplete to evoke a perpetual search. 

For me they seemed to document moments of doubt, anxiety, revelation, gratitude and so on. A primitive and emblematic 'Host' of witnesses having their origins in real life, but interlaced with literary, cultural and historical references of personal resonance. I thought of them almost as icons acting as go-betweens or entry points to invisible realities".

Host: Recent Paintings by Mark Shields
14 February - 7 March 2014
Grosvenor Gallery, 21 Ryder Street, London SW1
Browse & Darby, 19 Cork Street, London W1