Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Alice Neel: My Animals and Other Family

You don't see much of Alice Neel's work in the large public galleries so it was nice to come across this show in Mayfair. The last show of her work I caught was the retrospective at the Whitechapel in 2010. This is a small show of drawings and paintings capturing the portraits for which she is renowned, but with the inclusion of animals. I really liked the looseness of style of the unfinished portrait (Hartley With a Cat), above from 1969, with the contrast of the stark white background and cool blue stripes of the sitters t-shirt contrasted with the warmth of his pinkish skin tones, and the warmth of the matching cat's stripes.

I thought the harsh overhead lighting effects that Neel captured in this portrait of Eddie Zuckermandel (1948), was just spot on and gives a real intensity to both the sitters and the cats eyes.

This portrait - Lushka, 1974, was another favourite. I liked the way she has captured the background foliage as it reminded of Gauguin's work done in Tahiti. The colours are really rich and lush, and the brushwork is loose and lightly applied to describe the dogs fur.

Alice Neel: My Family and other Animals
Victoria Miro Mayfair
14 George Street
until 19th December

Sunday, 26 October 2014

Self: Bacon Hirst Koons Picasso at Ordovas

This a very small but well formed show consisting of just five pieces of art, and is quite timely with this current craze for selfies. It is always fascinating to see how artist choose to depict themselves and the media in which they choose to express this. On display is the notorious Damien Hirst photograph posing with a severed head in an anatomy museum. it could be interpreted as him literally looking death in the face and laughing. Hirst explains that he was absolutely terrified at the time and this was his way of coming to terms with his own mortality. Death, and medication to prolong life have been themes which were to become a constant in his work ever since. It's a very powerful image.

Self Portrait R., 2008, a series of x-rays above continues Hirst's medical theme.

I really liked the Jeff Koons self-portrait marble bust sitting on those jagged crystalline structures which reminded me of Victorian marble sculptures. There was something very narcissistic, but also meditative about it. It is perfectly and beautifully carved and I liked the way elements of the marble glistened as they caught the light.

The two stand outs in the exhibition though, are the Damien Hirst owned portrait of Francis Bacon and a stunning Picasso preliminary sketch for his 1901 self-portrait Yo-Picasso. It is funny that Bacon loathed his own face and wasn't what most would identify with as being "attractive" in a traditional sense. He still manages to make something that I regard as unique though with his painted self-portraits. The colours and textures/mark-making combine to create a portrait that is beautiful on canvas at least.

It is the first time that the Picasso drawing has ever been exhibited and it is rather wonderful. I was entranced by the painting Yo-Picasso at the Courtauld's Becoming Picasso 1901 show from last year which I wrote about here, and I was similarly entranced by this drawing. It is beautifully sketched with a series of flowing lines about the arms and body, and I like the way he has actually left the face really sparse in comparison with just a few marks to describe the eyes and facial features. I am really fired up to go and see the Rembrandt Late Works show at the National Gallery now to see his self-portraits in comparison to these.

Self: Bacon Hirst Koons Picasso
25 Saville Row
London W1
until 13th December

Thursday, 23 October 2014

Kerry James Marshall: Look See

Kerry James Marshall is an African-American artist whose work I particularly like. I was fortunate enough during the summer to be in Madrid where a retrospective of his work - Kerry James Marshall: Painting and Other Stuff, took place in both the Reina Sofia and Palacio de Velazquez, an outpost of the museum in the Retiro park. That show also featured other aspects of his output such as his cartoon style drawings, prints and video works.
I visited the show on a couple of occasions, (it finishes on 26th October if any of you are able to catch it in Madrid), and really like his take on the African American experience and his depiction of black people where he exaggerates the blackness of the skin, by using only shades of blacks and greys for the skin tones of the figures in his paintings and prints.
This is done purposely in an effort to redress the balance in the way black people have been depicted in art history.

This show at David  Zwirner focuses on his paintings and is a strong one with some real gems in it. There is also a large unfinished painting (below), which gives us a glimpse into his working methods showing how he layers  the paint in blocks to build up the finished image.

The show Look See is about the act of actually observing placed on both the artist and viewer. "Looking" is generally understood to be a removed, detached action, "seeing" involves perception and making connections between elements". In the paintings the figures are either doing things that make them aware that they are being looked at, or are engaged with looking at something within the picture frame, or straight out of the frame at the viewer. I like the image below where Marshall draws us into the drama of an intimate situation involving a young couple, where the young man is about to propose to his girlfriend and holds the ring behind her back, making us complicit in his plan, whilst the young lady remains unaware of the surprise about to be sprung on her.

I really enjoyed this show and it was good to experience the uplifting, intense colours of Marshalls' palette in London's autumnal drizzle.
Kerry James Marshall: Look See
David Zwerner
24 Grafton Street
London, W1
until 22 November

Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Alex Chinneck: Take My Lightning

Managed to catch this monumental work by artist Alex Chinneck who specialises in artistic architectural interventions, whilst on my travels. It is entitled Take My Lightning But Don't Steal My Thunder, and takes up a good portion of the piazza in Covent Garden. It another of his pieces that features illusion. This time he has created the illusion that one of the areas historical buildings has broken free of its foundations and is levitating in the air. It is pretty convincing from a distance. There were so many tourists and others milling around and looking on that it made it difficult to get a closer inspection. It is on display until October 24th.

Below is another piece that he created earlier this year called Under The Weather But Over The Moon, by Blackfriars bridge which I cycled past on occasions, in which he creates the illusion of having turned a building upside down.

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Exhibitions: Sotheby's and Paula Rego: The Last King

October is perhaps the busiest month of the art calendar in London. There is so much to see from unknown artist's open studios across a variety of boroughs, to galleries putting on special shows to celebrate Black History Month, or to coincide with, and hopefully grab a slice of the action that the mighty mother of all art fairs - Frieze, (which takes place in Regent's Park until Sunday), brings when major buyers and collectors descend on the city ready to spend, spend, spend! I love it, as it is an excuse to get away from my desk, and an opportunity to see what other artists are doing and get some inspiration for my own work.

I started my art tour by taking myself on a trip to Sotheby's auction house to see the  much hyped Giacometti sculpture Chariot, one of an edition of five completed in 1950 which is expected to break records by selling for over $100 million when it is put up for auction next month in New York. The auction houses are a great place to see art pieces which are usually held in private collections and out of the public eye, and it is truly mind-boggling when you see the estimates (prices they expect to reach at auction), which are put on certain pieces. 

There were some beautiful pieces on display such as Tete, Modigliani's limestone bust, as well as Still Life Vase With Daisies and Poppies, a Van Gogh painting also expected to sell for a high price as it is the first time in several years that one of his important pieces has come onto the market.

There was also a good display of Warhol prints. One early print of Liz Taylor (similar to the one pictured above), is again expected to command a high price when it comes under the hammer next month. It is equally as interesting to watch the bidders and potential buyers who can afford to bid for these works and eavesdrop on snippets of their conversations. I'm eager to see what prices these works achieve at auction next month. 

Head spinning with trying to count all the zeros these works are expected to fetch, I left and took a short walk to the Marlborough gallery to see Paula Rego: The Last King of Portugal and other Stories. Having been an illustrator I can appreciate the draughtsmanship in her pastel paintings and also the reliance on a narrative thread that ties the images together. These new works are still peopled by strong matriarchal figures who appear to dominate smaller men. Her working style seems to have gotten looser and sketchier in finish but there is still that great use of colour and mark-making.

Paula Rego: The Last King of Portugal and Other Stories
Marlborough Fine Art
until October 25th

Friday, 17 October 2014

Frieze Art Fair Advertising Campaign

You know by now that I love birds and other winged things, and I recently saw these rather wonderful ads for the Frieze Art Fairs in London and New York. The photography is great and shows the different birds off to stunning effect. The campaign was created by Studio Frith and the brief was to link both Frieze's London and New York art fairs and Studio Frith did this by using photographs of birds that migrate to New York's Randall's Island and those which inhabit our very own Regent's Park where the fairs take place.


A really effective, subtle campaign which is beautifully shot.

Tuesday, 14 October 2014

Cabinet of Curios - Orso Major

I shall be exhibiting some new work at the following show. Contact myself ,or Gita, at Orso Major for more details, or please do turn up at the private view on Thursday 16th October- 6-8pm, the more the merrier, it will be a pleasure to meet you.

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Cabinet of Curios
Orso Major Gallery presents "Cabinet of Curios", a new series of intriguing art pieces that evoke the inevitable mysteriousness of the autumnal season. The show includes works by artists Julia McKenzie, Joe Silcott, Charlotte Proudlove, Gabriela Szulman, Shobhna Patel, and Pen & Gravy.
Connected through their interest in uncovering the natural and fantastical world through the use of a variety of mixed-media, these artists offer a contemporary take on Victorian and Edwardian practices and influences. 
Orso Major Gallery will intimately display a number of small and intriguing pieces that when arranged together, will imitate a cabinet of curiosities. The gallery will become a vessel for these artist' pieces, many new to Orso Major.
Shobhna Patel, paper scopes
Shobhna Patel
Charlotte Proudlove, Doll parts set in glass domes
New art at the gallery
Charlotte Proudlove's framed and encased fragmented porcelain dolls, found in the rubble of a German toy factory, are brought back to life through their eerie presentation and surrounding winged decoration. They offer a glimpse into a forgotten past.
Gabriela Szulman's mixed-media collages give new dimension to the figures she portrays inspired by the dark side of the mind.  Gabriela Szulman's new jewellery pieces are also now available in the gallery, including the new addition of earrings (from £24).
Shobhna Patel's uniquely interactive cut-paper stories, suspended in tubes, encourage the viewer to peer into a fantastical world. Her detailed paper cuts set in miniature jars show scenes from the poem Sea Fever by John Masefield.  Intricately planned scenes allow the viewer to become a part of these beautifully arranged works, and to understand the artists' interest and passion for popular tales.
Mixed Media
Julia McKenzie's mixed-media works, include a new piece at the gallery titled The Fontenaye, a laser cut screen print of a ship in a bottle.  The viewer examines her artwork as if looking into a world trapped in time.
Pen & Gravy reworks Victorian and Edwardian photographs by applying his free-flowing pen to give colour and a new dimension to the black and white or sepia-toned posed families, giving them a ghostly veil.
Joe Silcott offers a contemporary take on the Victorian fascination of capturing and preserving nature by continuing his ever-popular butterflies in circular formation. His use of symmetry evokes an etheral feel and appeals to the viewer's curiositiy, as the butterflies look as if they could come to life and fly away.
Pen & Gravy 
Fiscal Ball by Joe Silcott - butterfly forms cut from various currencies
Black shield with doll by Charlotte Proudlove
Join Us for the Private View - Thursday 16th October
Most works are under £500 and will be on display at the gallery from 8 October until the end of the month.
A private view for the show will take place on the evening of Thursday 16th October 2014 from 6pm to 8pm and it would be amazing if you could join us.
Tell us what you think
We've been at 19 Lower Marsh for a good few months now and we would love to hear what you think of the gallery on this survey.  If you could find five minutes ( or less ) to answer the questions here it would really help us to become even better and we'd love to have your feedback.
The survey can be found on this link
Thanks so much in advance!
If you have any questions about the art work shown please get in touch at gita@orsomajor.com.
The usual gallery opening times are Tuesday to Friday 11-6pm and Saturday 11-3pm.
I look forward to seeing you at the gallery soon.
Orso Major Gallery, 19 Lower Marsh, London, SE1 7RJ

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Dragonfly Tattoos

I wanted to do a follow up post to the recent Butterfly Tattoo post I did in June, and inspired by the recent Time: Tattoo Art Today, exhibition at Somerset House, and a dragonfly piece that I have just finished, here are some more tattoos, this time dragonfly inspired. There are some really nice examples here, and some not quite as successful in my humble opinion. If you're going to make as bold a statement as a tattoo I think it really pays to get the best tattoo artist that you can. The piece above really works in terms of placement, scale and simplicity. The clean lines and monochromatic work of Chaim Machlev, (first two images below), is a real winner also. Great attention to detail and beautifully inked.




Orso Major has a show - Cabinet of Curiosities, opening next week which will feature one of my Dragonfly pieces. I have been made aware that one 'artist' not content with emulating my Butterfly Balls, has now also started making Dragonfly pieces only a year after I debuted mine. Coincidence? Accept no substitutes or pale imitations people!