Thursday, November 4, 2010

first visit to Tate Modern

After getting little to no sleep the last few nights it was a welcome change to sleep 10 hours night to Thursday. I mean, even if it resulted in me getting up at 13:00 I clearly needed it right? Sleeping that much always leaves me feeling well hung over, and since the "day" was more or less over I decided to skip uni and go in to London in stead to check out Tate.

One of the hidden blessings of having little prior knowledge of art history is that I can go to exhibitions like the one featuring Gauguin and be able to at least partially experience the paintings without thinking about what other people have said about him. Then I can go read up on him afterwards and go see the exhibition again. (I did buy the membership after all.)

I say partially, because it's difficult to ignore all of the informational wall scribblings. Honestly, I love them when I want them, but when I don't want them they are such a nuisance.

Consequently my first review of the exhibition isn't very academic in nature and it can be summed up in a rather crude statement: what a dumb bastard. I mean how far can you take ethnic and racial stereotyping and fetishising the "exotic" before somebody calls you on it? Obviously really fucking far as long as you lull it into a romantic ideal of the "simpler" life in the proverbial garden before the fall (read industrial revolution), which in it self is problematic even if people continue to buy into it as if it was on bankruptcy sale.

It pisses me off.

Personally I think the main reason for why he painted a lot of exotic semi-nudes was that he liked looking a boobs and that he knew they would sell on the European marked. Maybe reading more about him will make me see him in a better light, but the scarce information from the wall scribblings make me shudder a bit. I mean, here you have a man who acknowledges mens rights to use prostitutes as recreation, who complain that the island paradises he lives in have become too "western" and who ends up dying of syphilis, I might have to eat my words if I find some written proof that he didn't sleep with his models, but I assume he did, and so he probably condemned a fair share of them to die of syphilis as well.

Now I should probably say something about the art too, after all, I have seen some of the paintings before and I have admired them. And I still do for the record. There are some like "the morning" which really enthralls me, even though I'm not sure it's worth $39,241,000 , there is something about the light and how it changes over the painting that fascinates me. And there's something about the expression of the woman with the bare rear that makes me bond with her telepathically, I know exactly what she is thinking. "Didn't your parents tell you it's rude to peek while a woman does her morning toilette?"

Enough with the sarcasm.

I really admire the way he paints bodies, especially the skin. He manages to convey something delicate with relatively rough brushstrokes and evenness with patchy colors. He simplifies in a manner that doesn't take away, but rather adds to the atmosphere and emotions in his subjects. He aims to portray a simpler, more naive and more beautiful world, his idea of paradice, and he does this skillfully in the way he presents nature in his pictures, the use of bright colors and an exageration of childlike features in his models. If I was to atempt to say something about style, I'd say that he goes from being more of an impressionist to closing in on expressionism as he grows older.

I'm looking forewards to reading more about the guy and going back to see the exhibition again. Maybe I will have more meaningful things to say about it by then.

So far my favourite painting is "the ham", with it's semi abstract backdrop and exiting color contrasts it really caught my interest. Like many of his other works it's fairly simple without being uniteresting. Besides I've rarely seen meat in a natura morta before, at least not as the main focus. But again that probably say more about how few natura mortas I've happened across so far...

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

painting workshop with Jeff

I didn't want to write about the workshop until it was over, but I really had a good time today and I want to not it down while it's live in my mind.

This workshop began last week and I must admit, it took me a while to get serious about it. It seems I sometimes take for granted that I will run on my own motor when it comes to art and forget that it usually only works like I expect it to when I know where I'm going with what I'm doing.

First fuck up was not reading the handout and thinking I could get away with just mimicking the others. To be fair to myself there wasn't enough handouts, but to be fair in general I did show up ten minutes late, and I could've asked to look at somebody elses. So major note to self: even if it looks like a kindergarten pastime from a distance, at university, expect there to be more meat on the bone.

So I just played around with colors and textures until day three, when I found out that one of the things I should've, or at least could've done was bring in a photo to work from. The first two days wasn't total waste though, since I've never even touched gel and matte medium before and never played around with pure pigments. As far as acrylics go, I've been a "set of seven premixed tubes" kinda girl with only rudimentary knowledge about color mixing.

So today I can say I'm proud to be able to mix a nice looking purple and a decent turquoise, as well as being fairly(stupidly) confident that I can use the gel medium and the matte medium to achive a range of effects.

On Friday I brought in a Caterpillar toy and implemented a likeness of it onto one of my abstract experiments, adorning it with the words "splat!" to make it easier for people to associate the green goo underneath it with the sad faith it's bound to suffer. Sorta kinda funny, but I do take some pride in manging to make the Caterpillar actually look like the toy it was based on.

Which leads me to today, when I dared myself into painting something less abstract and more figurative:

it's from a Shell commercial in a nature magazine that I tore out to have something to work with. I was a bit daunted at first to try and paint the boy with the kite since I'm not proud of my realistic drawing skills and since I've hardly ever done this kind of trying to paint a likeness.

But I'de decided to do it, so I figured at least I could try to get the colors right and put all the parts of the kid sorta where they belonged. Trying my best I still ran out of canvas so I couldn't fit the kite on the painting. Then again, I guess it's a nice effect that the string disappears out of the image, the way his head is turned upwards and the direction of the string alongside the summery atmosphere hopefully makes people imagine a kite there, even though they can't see it.

So I did paint it crudely because I didn't feel confident to put in any details with the fussy brush I was working with, but when I saw it from a distance it seemed to look quite good.

Deciding to put some layers on it I covered it with matte medium and mixed a bit of white in the bottom part with a wide brush to create a hazy effect. Wanting to bring out the skin a little bit I covered it it with gel medium.

My over all favourite part of this painting is that it helped build my confidence to try to more of the same. It's not "great", but it does what I wanted it to do and it has qualities which if I'd seen it painted by somebody else I would'v recognized as "nice". I'm so often overly critical of myself, so it's nice to catch a break I guess :)

Smalish print tutorial with Phil

Since The yellow apron workshop clashes with the print workshop and I was really eager to try something with print I signed up for a half hour with Phil at the prints today.
Just being in the workshop made me realise how little I know about the process. I mean, I just have a loose idea of what I want out of the end product, but to get there might be more complex than I though it would be. Not to worry though, I like complex things.

Phil showed me around and we mostly talked about the first step, namely choosing printing surface and how to cut it. For the small scale thing I'm thinking of first, the wolf head, I figured linoleum or wood would be best. I don't know why I thought wood would be the simplest process, I guess I thought of it as the most primitive material, but as it is, is it also the hardest and contains more texture than the other.

I was lucky enough to get a smalish piece of linoleum for free to experiment with. So now I'm going to play around with the wolf head and ankh design and see what I end up with before I go back and start cutting.

Sadly the cutting material is a bit scarce because some inconsiderate people borrow without returning. I might have to buy my own in time if this really turn out to be something I'd do more of and I have a feeling it is. The opportunity to mass produce a simple design and then tweak and individualise it really appeals to me as I'd really like to create affordable pieces for people like myself. I mean, even if you're relatively poor and maybe especially then it would be nice to get something unique at a decent price. And I don't particularly like rich people in the first place. Plus, I have to eat and live, and have reasonable work hours.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Hackney Stables

Last Saturday I chanced upon a gallery in Hackney while I was checking out the Broadway marked. Standing on the bridge chatting to my friend I noticed a sign saying Hackney stables, clothing shop and gallery. Curious I followed the signs and ended up on the third floor of some scruffy looking flats. On the same floor I could look directly in to a studio or workshop of some sort and on a rooftop close by I could see a man working on a paining, it seemed like a right creative neighborhood.

It is a smallish gallery with a cafe and a clothing store and on their website they confirm that they are genuinely interested in keeping it a ambiguous space. The exhibition that was on "New beginnings and other tales" ended this Sunday, but the artist that interested me the most is putting on solo exhitition “The Object of Painting” by Bryan J. Robinson. The private view is on the 4th of November and the exhibition will be running until the 5th of December, open every weekend from 10am until 6pm.

Other woks that interested me was (sadly I'm still so clutsy that I forgot to note down the names, but I will investigate) a house built out of record covers, it looked like a club or something and there were rows of miniature people walking towards it.
Another sculpture was a chair where the fourth leg was a cast iron man leaning in to support it, it had a brick on it that might have been the backrest or maybe only symbolized the weight of what was on the chair.

But back to Bryan, it was really his painting that got most/all of my attention while I was there, so full of intricate little figures in a chaotic but still strangely harmonious pattern, so full of colors and vague texture. Like a bustling city and like my own mind when I'm thinking about too many things at once.

After checking out his webpage (which is sadly partly down due to construction) I'm eager to see his solo show this week. I'm hoping I'll be able to see some of those pictures in grader scale, or maybe something completely new in the same style.

A little warning about the staff in the gallery to other Norwegians that might like to go there though, some of them understand Norwegian language quite well.

about bloody time I guess

I'm well behind on this, but it doesn't matter because I'm going to ace it from now on.

following this post I'll go on to post myriads of comments, ideas, critics of exhibitions and notes from seminars and tutorials. Hopefully next month this will already be a busy place and the only way to make sure it is will be to get trucking.

Since I probably should have started this in September and since I'm bound to forget some of the things I should have written about until later I'll just write about what happens daily and fill inn what happened earlier as I think of it. sooner or later it's bound to sort itself out, right?

Well, see you around.