Get Your Own Art – for Free!

OwnArt

Own Art is an Arts Council England initiative which gives interest free loans to individuals, in order to make purchasing contemporary art and craft easy and affordable.  They are celebrating their 10th anniversary this year, and, as part of the festivities, have commissioned Turner Prize winning artist Jeremy Deller to create a digital animation.  This work, which will be based on that he did for the Venice Biennale 2013, is to be split into 10,000 stills that will be available to download as individual unique works of art.

To be one of the lucky 10,000, subscribe (anytime from now onwards) to The Space newsletter at http://www.thespace.org/artwork/view/wesit#.U5wnqyJwZeU.  Once you’ve confirmed your subscription, they will send you an email with a link to claim your work, which will then be downloadable from Monday, 7 July 2014.

The full animation will be premiered on screen on Saturday, 19 July, at both Westfield Stratford and Westfield London.

Own Art was created to inspire individuals to take their first steps and buyers and collectors of contemporary art and craft, as well as to assist the galleries they work with, along with their artists, to be more sustainable as businesses.  Customers can borrow from £100 to £2,500 interest free, and spread the cost of repayment over 10 months.  A quarter of the loan amount each year, on average, is to customers with an annual income of £25,000 or less.  Since the scheme began in 2004, it has financed in excess of £25 million worth of sales.

Jeremy Deller has been making art since the early 1990s.  He won the Turner Prize in 2004 for the documentary Memory Bucket, and his work covers subjects ranging from exotic wrestler Adrian Street to international fans of 1980s band Depeche Model.  He has exhibited widely throughout the world, and in 2013 represented Britain at the Venice Biennale.

For more information on Own Art visit www.ownart.org.uk.  You can find out more about Jeremy Deller at www.jeremydeller.org.

 

The Doors of Perception

John Middleton: Painting Works at the Coningsby Gallery, 9 -13 June 2014

Abstract art is, of course, all about perception. Almost always, the viewer sees the work through their own lens, and the resulting mental impression is, in effect, a collaboration between artist and observer. John Middleton’s show definitely gives the spectator a lot to absorb and think about; however there seem to me to be certain underlying themes to do with place, fluidity and possibility.

Doors are exciting, representing as they do the transition from one place to another. On entering the exhibition, the first picture to catch my eye was Doorway. With its central arrow, whose direction varied with your point of view, it seemed to say that our personal doorways can take us to many different places. Temple Doorway is another obvious example of the same theme. In a wonderful touch, the artist has used sand from a beach near the temple at Chichen-Itza to depict the building, yet it is the completely dark open doorway which draws the eye, suggesting the endless possibilities of the other side, and the journey from the physical to the spiritual which is evident throughout Middleton’s work. Nearby paintings complemented this idea. Path to the Temple suggests that either the rugged route or the direct path will lead you to the same destination, and Kimono, with its eye-catching gold square suggested a doorway filled with blindingly bright light.

Hanging side by side, The Pink Bird and The Green Bird were both inspired by Edward Lear. Strangely, although pink is a brighter colour, it was the latter which suggested Caribbean islands to me – perhaps because the bird was in flight, or maybe because green is the hue of vegetation and growth. Green is also a powerful colour in Idiosyncratic Pattern, which has shades of mother-of-pearl and has, to me, a 1970s feel, and asks the question “When is a pattern not a pattern?” This painting is also a good example of John’s fascination with flaws, rather than hiding them he likes to draw attention to them in an “X marks the spot” sort of way. The Last Sighting of Bigfoot deals wonderfully with the problem of making visible the invisible, while Henri’s Fish and Socks deceives the eye and plays with notions of depth and dimension.

Know Your Place seems to me to sum up the sense of myriad possibilities presented by this exhibition. Perhaps the empty space at the centre is for you; or you are one of the surrounding circles or even a small dot of colour right at the edge? The potentialities are endless as, I suspect, are the responses to John Middleton’s work – as varied as the works themselves. I have only touched briefly on the range of watercolours and drawings on display, but I found the whole to be impressive, engaging and stimulating.

For more information visit John’s website www.johnmiddleton.uk.com.
GreenBird

Open Houses in Hampstead

Hampstead's Village People, Fenton House (courtesy Sam Roberts) 7 Hampstead’s Village People: Portraits of Cultural Icons; Ryan Gander: The Artists have the Keys

On Friday, I payed a visit to two highly contrasting properties in Hampstead, where the National Trust were celebrating the opening of two new exhibitions.

First on the itinerary was Fenton House, which is hosting Hampstead’s Village People: Portraits of Cultural Icons, in partnership with the National Portrait Gallery.  The photographs are tastefully housed in two rooms on the ground floor, and cover a range of artistically influential people from the area over the last 100-plus years.  I was particularly taken by the pictures of Daphne du Maurier and Cecil Beaton, as well as Peter Barkworth, whose writing had previously made a great impression on me.

Then it was on to explore the house.   I was intrigued to learn that 55 of the paintings on permanent display were bequeathed by Peter Barkworth, and there are some wonderful paintings in Fenton House.  There are also rather a lot of harpsichords – on average two per room on the first floor.  Glass cabinets full of china and what I would describe as knick-knacks in each room complete the eclectic collection.

Before leaving, my companion and I took a stroll about the gardens, which are well worth a visit.  Beautifully laid out, on several levels, they seemed to induce a sense of peace and serenity in me, especially seeing the spring flowers just starting to appear.

Ryan Gander at 2 Willow Road (courtesy Sam Roberts) 46Secondly, we visited 2 Willow Road, the home of architect Erno Goldfinger, for Ryan Gander’s The Artists have the Keys.  Gander has been interested in Goldfinger’s work since 2005, and he has approached the current exhibition in an extremely immersive fashion, almost as if he was asking what else might Goldfinger have added to the house himself.  Gander’s art is place amongst other objects in the property, and guest are given a list of which pieces are in which room, but with no other indication as to location.  I enjoyed this mini-challenge, which was similar to a live hidden-object game, at the same time as appreciating the house in it’s totality and all the other art contained within.  Gander’s work is very much in sympathy with the style of the place, which also hosts work by Bridget Reilly and Max Ernst, to name but two.  I particularly enjoyed Things just happen to me, a chess set inspired by components from a Bedford truck circa 1975.

I found the house itself fascinating, from the bed that folded up into a cupboard, to the sliding doors between rooms, to the photographs stuck inside the bathroom cabinet.  A couple of very helpful volunteers were kind enough to share their vast wealth of knowledge about Goldfinger, his wife, and the house with us, and I went away feeling stimulated and informed.  I couldn’t stop myself saying “No, Mr Bond, I expect you to die,” at least once though!

Both Fenton House and 2 Willow road are open from 11am-5pm, Wednesdays to Sundays (last admission 4.30pm), but entry to 2 Willow road prior to 3pm is by tour only.  For more information and admission prices, please visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk or telephone 020 7435 3471 (Fenton House) or 020 7435 6166 (2 Willow Road).

 

Photographs courtesy of Sam Roberts.

Mary Tynan

A Brief History of Time

David Breuer-Weil’s Project 4 is an underground voyage through eternity.  The show seems to chart the ascent of man from the depths of the remote past, through the present, and forward into the far future, in parallel journeys of physical and spiritual evolution.

Walking down the steps to the graffiti-covered underpass, one is surprised by the almost club-like entrance to the exhibit.  Thankfully we were both on the guest list and over 18, and so duly proceeded into the Vaults, where we were greeted by professional, welcoming staff who directed us to the cloakroom, where it was a relief to give up our coats and umbrellas.

Once fortified with champagne, we started our journey of discovery in the Aspiration room.  Aspiration means both hope and breath, and this sentiment is embodied by the sculpture Emergence rising out of the earth like the birth of man, paralleling the consumerist growth of modernism – depicted in several of the room’s paintings by terraced houses accompanied by their paraphernalia of sofas, lamps, pianos, etc.

Birth, 2008, oil on canvasThe second space, Community, charts pivotal moments in the concept of oneself and one’s surroundings, as in Birth, which shows small groups of people coming up out of water in their own community unit bubbles.  Individuals inspired both reviewers, with one seeing a roadway turned sideways to symbolise a tunnel out of the earth, while the other (with a degree in Art History) was impressed by what she called “gooey plop!”

Commodification, on two levels, represents two dimensions in three.  Downstairs a giant foot (of God?) awakens Neanderthal consciousness, whilst on the upper level heads within heads explode from inside each other, with Interior resembling a bird’s nest of baby heads.  Back on the lower floor, Translations is the embodiment of being part of a book, and of how literacy contributed to the development of humanity.

Translation, 2008, oil on canvasMoving into Itinerancy, Origin shows the earth as a womb cracking open to spread mankind over its surface.  Frame symbolises the industrialisation of nature, whilst expressing a sense of serenity and beauty that is in contrast to the dynamism of many other pictures in the exhibition.

Continuity continues the human story into the future, with the 6 Orbit Panels echoing the Age of Aquarius.  Orbit 2 (Interiors) is the culmination of the isolation of modern humankind – individuals in rooms with only technology for company – the ultimate extrapolation of the bubble in Birth.  We move forward as man makes his way into space, with Milky-Way being the highlight of the show for both reviewers.  This is a sensitive representation of a beautiful celestial event, with the artist cleverly dropping in humans to float around the nebula.

Milky-Way, 2012, acrylic on canvasIn the final room, the exhibition appears to culminate in our own destruction, with exodus, fire and destruction characterising the paintings with titles such as Mortals and Afterlife 2.  After travelling through time, we watched a video of the making of David Breuer-Weil’s guide to the galaxy, with one reviewer finding the sight of the artist spreading paint across the canvas to be both erotic and inspiring.

Project 4 is an amazing and awe-inspiring exhibition, which cannot be recommended highly enough.  We were there for an hour, but could happily have stayed for three times as long.  A wonderful show in a sympathetic environment: it is not to be missed.

Project 4 is at  The Vaults, Arch 233, Leake Street, London SE1 7NN until Saturday 24 March 2013, open Monday-Saturday, 10am – 6pm and Sunday 12 – 4pm.  Admission is free.  For more information visit http://www.davidbreuerweil.com.

Mary Tynan and Fay Ryder

Re-examination Pays Dividends

New Possibilities: Abstract Paintings from the Seventies at the Piper Gallery

This exhibition presents the work of artists whose work became less fashionable during the 1970s with the rise of conceptual and performance art.  While these artists are still working today, most of the work on display is from this period.  This is a very diverse exhibition: all of the artists have very individual styles.  However, a common feature is an attention to craft, precision and formal values in painting.

The range of approaches is very clear when you compare the work of Tess Jaray and Frank Bowling.  Tess’ Alhambra (1979) is deceptively simple at first glance, but closer examination draws the viewer in and reveals the surprising complexity hidden in what you believe to be predictable pattern.  What at first appears to be a repetitive motif, on closer observation shows itself to have complex variation in colour, form and scale.  Frank Bowling’s Rush Green (1977) seems to be more the sum of its parts.  His deployment of paint by pouring it directly onto the canvas and utilising flow may seem haphazard, but on inspection the result is more mysterious.  There appears to be an equivalence with art from the past – for example, Monet’s paintings of the garden at Giverney – sustained attention is rewarded.

William Henderson and Barrie Cook both use a particular vocabulary to produce very different results.  Henderson’s Funky, Blackand Catch Me (1978) creates a feeling of depth and jaggedness, with a definite sense of illusionistic space, reminding one of the microscopic world when magnified.  Cook’s Blue, Red and Yellow Grid (1977) is an optical work which plays with the eyes.  It is reminiscent of cathode ray tubes warming up in a old-fashioned television.  There is a richness in the fact that the two paintings, both using repetitive linear forms, can produce such varied results.

Other highlights of the exhibition include Gary Wragg’s Carnival (1977-79), which is driven by the process of drawing; Patricia Poullain’s Untitled (1973), which has a lightness and openness whose accessibility reminds one of a childhood telescope; and finally, Trevor Sutton’s measured, well proportioned That Swing.4.K (1979) combines electric blue and black, demarcated by a delicate green line.  The piece is poised and balanced and seems to be very much of its time.

If you like your paintings to repay prolonged attention, then New Possibilities at the Piper Gallery is definitely worth a visit.

New Possibilities: Abstract Paintings from the Seventies is at The Piper Gallery, 18 Newman Street, W1T 1PE from 16 November to 21 December

Mary Tynan and Ian MacNaughton

(Pictures courtesy of the artists and The Piper Gallery)

Be Part of Art!

Have you ever wondered who the Mona Lisa was? Or perhaps imagined what it would be like to see your likeness on display in a gallery?

Next month, Gérard Rancinan is offering attendees at his Wonderful World exhibition the chance to be immortalised as part of the final composition in the series, which will be shot entirely on-site at the Londonewcastle Project Space.

Presented by The Future Tense in association with Opera Gallery and Londonewcastle, Wonderful World is the concluding part in Rancinan’s seven-year Trilogy of the Moderns.  Fresh from La Triennale di Milano, photographer Rancinan brings this revolution in three acts to a close, debuting the complete Wonderful World series to the UK public.

With galleries one and two housing the main exhibition of 15 large format works from Wonderful World, gallery three will feature a purpose-built set and studio, offering a voyeuristic glimpse behind the scenes of a fine art photo shoot. Repeat visits will reveal the organic nature of studio life – part art installation, part film set, part soap opera – as the shoot moves from concept, through production and postproduction, to the climactic unveiling of the finished work at a special reception on Wednesday 20th June.

To celebrate the completion of Trilogy of the Moderns, The Future Tense will publish a new print edition by Gérard Rancinan. Limited to a signed edition of 20 + 4 Artist Proofs, the work will be available only to those attending the show. A pop-up store will also sell related merchandise including the supporting books.

Wonderful World will open to the public at a launch reception from 6.30pm on Thursday 7th June 2012 (part of East London’s First Thursday late night art openings) and will remain on view until Sunday 24th June 2012.  Photoshoot auditions will be held on Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 June, from 11 am to 6pm, with the shoot itself being on Monday 11 June.

Wonderful World runs from 7 – 24 June 2012 at Londonewcastle Project Space, 28 Redchurch Street, London E2 7DP:  Tuesday to Saturday, 11am-7pm; Sunday, Noon-6pm; closed on Monday.  There will be an artist signing on 16 June from 12 – 1.30 pm; curator-guided tours on 17 June at 12, 2 and 4pm; and an unveiling reception on 17 June from 6.30 – 9.30 pm.  For more information visit the artists website at www.rancinan.com.

Mary Tynan

Time Well Spent at Store Street

Contemporary Printmaking: From Andy Warhol to the Emerging Generation

This exhibition by Orion Contemporary combines household names with Orion’s young, emerging stable of artists to promote printmaking as an art form and celebrate the importance of the medium.  To quote Andrés Olow Clase, director of Orion Contemporary: ‘From Andy Warhol’s exceptional print of 1974 to works made in 2012, the show explores the diverse vivacity and technical skill of printmaking.’  Following the inaugural exhibition in 2011, this year’s offering includes a variety of work by Lisa Denyer, Alexander Gough, Damien Hirst, David Hockney, Max Lowry, Dénes Maróti, Will Martyr, Andy Warhol and Giulia Zaniol.

I am not going to talk about the big names here; nobody needs me to tell them about the likes of Hockney or Hirst.  Instead, I would like to focus on some of the less well-known artists.

Alex Gough’s woodblock prints of Levi Mountain are influenced by his Finnish ancestry and are imbued with strong tonal contrasts, reflecting the twilight dancing on the snow, or the midnight hue as the mid-winter landscape melts into long dark nights.  Lisa Denyer’s ‘Range’ continues the mountain theme and uses a mystical combination of silver and black to engage the eye.  William Martyr’s art deco ‘Sweet Spot’ and ‘’Time Well Spent’ employs bright, vibrant colours to excite the viewer’s imagination.  Dénes Maróti pleasantly surprised me by his range: I was startled to discover that the bold, powerful images of repetitive figures were drawn by the same hand as the delicate flower prints.  Finally, Giulia Zaniol’s ‘Angels of London’ series uses a highly advanced two-plate technique of soft and hard ground, litho colours and spitbite to create images with deep and varied tonal harmony.  The combination of colours and images manages to be both haunting and calming at the same time.  Although chromatically I think the finest of the three pieces is ‘Parliament Angels,’ the image of the solitary seraph stood staring across the Thames at the distant ‘Tower Bridge’ will remain with me for some time.

Comtemporary Printmaking opens today at Store Street Gallery.  On the evening of 14th March, Gabriel Angel Moreno, will be reading a selection of his poetry written in response to the works in the exhibition, and Giulia Zaniol will lead an informal talk on the art of printmaking on Saturday 17th March at 4pm.

Contemporary Printmaking is at Store Street Gallery, 32 Store Street, WC1E 7BS.  Opening Times: 13th March – 17th March, 11am-6pm. 18th March, 11am-4pm.  Admission Free.

Mary Tynan