Sammlung Goetz: 'Imagination becomes reality: Painting Surface Space' 2006
Art In Question
An interesting word used on multiple press releases to describe Christopher Orr's surreal subject matter.
Image cut out from National geographic (2003)
The nun and the cat
I particularly like how this image contains symmetry (the painting on the wall reflecting the nun and the cat). I think this image is very intriguing both contextually and visually. It has a certain peacefulness to it which I really like.
Image cut out from National Geographic (2003)
Interview with Janis Avotins for Vernissage TV.
Janis Avotins- Untitled 2003
About Janis Avotins
With their ghostly, alienated faces and figures reminiscent of Soviet-era photography, Janis Avotins thinly painted canvases draw us into a fragile, elliptic world haunted by collective memory. -www.saatchigallery.com
Avotins work is fragile and melancholy, with the faded forms appearing on the canvas quietly as opposed to looking as though they have been forcibly painted. The dark backgrounds of his compositions emphasise the feeling of the figures getting lost within them- exaggerating feelings of loneliness and bleak atmospheres.
I think its interesting how his paintings remind one so much of aged photographs- comparatively my work is mostly photographic but appears very painterly. These techniques of crossing over mediums are partly what makes the work so intriguing, however I don't think the aim of work should be to imitate other art forms because in my opinion it decreases the value of the work itself.
ABelsey- Stet Journal. Janis Avotins.
Going the way of restraint, Janis Avotins is certainly one of the most subtle yet powerful presences here. The smoky textures and ghostly figures of his paintings bring to mind some of Richter’s experiments, albeit with an almost gothic sensibility. ‘Untitled’ (2009) draws us into the darkness towards a tiny figure illuminated in profile, dwarfed by shadowy architecture. In another piece, also untitled, a hand hangs from the cuff of a sleeve, glowing white in the darkness like an extracted tooth adrift in the void.
Maria Lassnig @ Hauser + Wirth
Maria Lassnig: A painting survey, 1950-2007
Viewing Lassnig's work beginning with her latest paintings and finishing with her early abstract work was fascinating. Her early work, although aesthetically pleasing in terms of colour and shape, was so different to that of her later more surreal and bold compositions. You could definitely see her development in terms of her self-awareness and exploration of her mind and body: from the realistic self portraits with the wine glass to the anthropomorphic, barely-human creatures which dominate her later work. (E.g 'Selbstportrat als Tier').
I really liked how she chose to display the work on large canvas with the bolts exposed on the side. (See photograph.) It helped to emphasise the organic nature of the paintings. On a lot of the later pieces of work-the canvas is exposed in the background, looking as though it hasn't been primed. This gives the paintings a raw- instinctive quality to them which I thought was interesting.
Maria Lassnig's work is the kind that makes you want to instinctively paint something, and definitely encouraged me not to be such a perfectionist in terms of what I put on the canvas and how it turns out.
Maria Lassnig- Side view of canvas with exposed nails
Sam Durant @ Sadie Coles HQ
Sam Durant: 'More than 1/2 the world' press release
'More than 1/2 the world'
Durant's protest slogans presented on brightly coloured lightboxes were extremely underwhelming. In an attempt to give the phrases power, he managed to achieve the opposite. I felt they were a nod to the commercialised and over-done use of fluorescent text art and generally came across as quite tacky.
The font was poorly chosen and the transfers meant there was little skilled craftmanship to them. It didn't aid the 'urgency and power' that the artist was attempting to communicate to the viewer. In terms of the context, Durant picked the dullest protest slogans, he could have been much more inventive. "Open your eyes"- Wow! How profound!
Richard Mosse: 'Incoming' @Barbican
Press Release: 'Incoming'
Barbican Art Gallery has invited conceptual documentary photographer and Deutsche Börse Photography Prize winner Richard Mosse to create an immersive multi-channel video installation in the Curve. In collaboration with composer Ben Frost and cinematographer Trevor Tweeten, Mosse has been working with an advanced new thermographic weapons and border imaging technology that can see beyond 30km, registering a heat signature of relative temperature difference. Classed as part of advanced weapons systems under International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR), Mosse has been using this export controlled camera against its intended purpose, to create an artwork about the refugee crisis unfolding in the Aegean Sea, off the coast of Libya, in Syria, the Sahara, the Persian Gulf, and other locations.
Mosse is renowned for work that challenges documentary photography. In his recent work The Enclave (2013) – a six-channel installation commissioned by the Irish Pavilion for the 2013 Venice Biennale – Mosse employed a now discontinued 16mm colour infrared film called Kodak Aerochrome that transformed the green landscape of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo into vivid hues of pink to create a surreal dreamscape. Questioning the ways in which war photography is constructed, Mosse’s representation of the ongoing armed conflict in eastern Congo advocates a new way of looking.
Thoughts on Richard Mosse
The imagery in the exhibition was photographed/ filmed using a thermal camera- one that might be used by the military on missiles and weapons of war. They weren't created for the purpose of documenting or storytelling- as Moss has used them for. The effect of the camera meant the images looked like black and white negatives and meant that detail can be seen, but identities and colour as well as other information is lost. In this way, the refugees in the video can be made anonymous, almost made ghostly or unfamiliar. Its interesting how many of the artists I've looked at, for example Luc Tuymans, use this technique of making the figures in their work anonymous- perhaps this is so that the viewer can relate themselves more easily with the work? I have been using figures, but from found photography so the people represented are in a way already unfamiliar and I am able to create my own narratives for them without taking out information. The people in 'Incoming' are just 'people' but not of any particular race or ethnicity which I think is an important element of the film- it removes all the preconceptions people might have towards the media's representation of a 'refugee'. This makes the film incredibly personal and powerful.
The footage itself was overwhelming and moving- at times shocking. It ranged from psychedelic illusions created by the thermal camera, to footage of people talking , arriving in boats, doctors addressing patients, bodies being identified, children fighting, people praying and a particularly disturbing piece of footing filmed in what seemed to be a morgue. The footage lasts for just under an hour, but whilst being there you lose all sense of time. It was both hypnotising visually and compelling to watch. It gave an insight into the lives of the migrants and showed elements of their lives which were at times deeply personal and moving. The audio included very little dialogue and was mostly made up of sounds which were exaggerated, e.g the sound of the waves crashing, emphasising the powerful imagery on screen. It is a show that I definitely want to see again. In terms of how it can relate to my work- the technique instilled to remove visual information is something that I have done, I have also been emphasising details which the viewer might not be exposed to. E.g Mosse exposes the viewer to the narrative, and I have been exposing the viewer to details visually within images.
Studium and Punctum.
Barthes cites two main factors in a photographic image, studium and punctum.
Barthes calls Studium ‘a kind of education (civility, politeness) that allows discovery of the operator’. Basically studium is the element that creates interest in a photographic image. It shows the intention of the photographer but we experience this intention in reverse as spectators; the photographer thinks of the idea (or intention) then present it photographically, the spectator then has to act in the opposite way, they see the photograph then have to interpretate it to see the ideas and intentions behind it.
Culture is an important connotation within studium, as Barthes puts it ‘it is culturally that I participate in the figures, the faces, the gestures, the settings, the actions,’ Barthes says that culture ‘is a contact arrived at between creators and consumers.’ I think this cultural middle ground is extremely important in the way ideas are put across from photographer to spectator, two people from completely different cultures and got them to analyse the same photograph, chances are you will get two very different interpretations (obviously other factors affect it but I feel that culture is the one of the most significant).
Barthes cites journalistic photographs as good examples of studium, saying ‘I glance through them, I don’t recall them, no detail ever interrupts my reading; I am interested in them (as I am interested in the world) I do not love them.’
To summarise studium adds interest, but in the order of liking, not loving. I think it is punctum that is of real interest to photographers.
Punctum is the second element to an image that Barthe mentions in Camera Lucida.
Punctum is an object or image that jumps out at the viewer within a photograph- ‘that accident which pricks, bruises me.’ Punctum can exist alongside studium, but disturbs it, creating an ‘element which rises from the scene’ and unitentially fills the whole image. Punctum is the rare detail that attracts you to an image, Barthes says ‘its mere presense changes my reading, that I am looking at a new photograph, marked in my eyes with a higher value.’
Clearly this second element is much more powerful and compelling to the spectator, changing the ‘like’ of studium to the love of an image. As a photographer an understanding of punctum could potentially allow me to make stronger images, although I feel that punctum needs that accidental quality about it to be most effective because it is so personal and could be different for everyone. Basically it could be anything, something that reminds you of your childhood, a sense of deja vu, an object of sentimental value, punctum is very personal and often different for everyone.
Whereas studium is ultimately coded, the punctum is not which I feel relates to how the interest in studium is often in the deconstruction of the image, whereas for punctum it is that point of impact, which in itself may have meaning but was not originally hidden within the images meaning. Punctum retains an ‘aberrant’ quality. Barthes himself says ‘what i can name cannot really prick me’, the inability to name is a good sytom of disturbance and punctum.
This relates to my own images- I have been finding the punctum in my images and exaggerating it to create a kind of subtle humour- the banal detail is made imporant whereas the studium i have made inferior.
Tuymans often draws inspiration for his works from historical events; however, he emphasises that any form of representation is shaped by a subjective, individual perspective. He asserts this subjectivity in various ways, often by looking inwards to mental states and internal organs, rather than outwards to external events. - www.tate.org.uk 2004
I prefer Luc Tuyman's series of interior paintings as opposed to his portraights and still life's as I think they are more interesting in terms of their compositions and the context behind the works. I love the muted colour palettes- often monochromatic pastel shades, and the curious absence of figures in the work which creates uncomplicated, almost eery atmospheres. The suggestion of emptiness and abandonment in these pieces create a sense of mystery, and this lacking information makes them a source of wonder.
Luc Tuymans at the National Portrait Gallery: Glasses
Tuymans's small exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery contained less than 10 portraits depicting people wearing glasses. The description for the exhibition was: Since the 1970s Tuymans has been preoccupied with how we perceive people and things. His work, with its use of found images and photographs and its meditations on history and memory, makes the banal striking, in this case the everyday phenomenon of spectacles, which are now so ubiquitous as to go almost unnoticed.
Personally I found the exhibition extremely uninteresting and disappointing. The portraits had no depth or meaning, they looked rushed and his attempt to make the banal striking definitely wasn't achieved. I already knew I preferred his interiors and still life's to his portraits, however this confirmed it.
Luc Tuymans interview with the guardian
Think the way he talks about his relationship with painting is really interesting. I definitely agree with him about how painting is a scary thing- being confronted with the blank canvas is like an author with a blank piece of paper or an actor with an empty stage. It gets me thinking about how ultimately, artists are attention seekers who create things for other people. This is what makes the practice so challenging- it all depends on how ones work is perceived by the viewer.
I also like how in his work taken from video stills taken on his iPhone of the computer screen- he includes his own reflection into the painting. He chooses not to leave this information out. The viewer might not realize this from first looking at the painting, but information such as the shadows and light reflections from the computer screen are revealed the longer you look.
Charlottenburg Spring exhibition 2017- Copenhagen
Whilst on a short visit to Copenhagen, I went to the Kunsthall Charlottenborg gallery where they were having their spring exhibition. The works were made by artists from all over the world and contained a lot of contemporary sculpture and thought-provoking film work including a short documentary about the Marikana killings in South Africa. I thought the exhibition as a whole was really diverse, and I particularly enjoyed the work of Ase Seidler Gernes who exhibited her large colourful textile, tapestry and pattern designs.
Press release from Hauser & Wirth- Zürich 2010
The small intense canvases depict phantasmagoric landscapes populated by figures from an earlier time. Fiction and formalism go hand in hand in these works, dissolving the distinction between reality and illusion. Part figurative, part abstract, they continue Orr’s on-going exploration of the language of painting.
With echoes of the Romantic landscapes of J.M.W. Turner and Caspar David Friedrich, Orr’s new paintings are bold in their execution. Layers of translucent pigment build up solid figures, whilst elsewhere paint has been scraped off to reveal the canvas beneath. The new works feature strokes of bright pigment that criss-cross the paintings, suggesting a meaning that lies beyond the experience of the viewer. Combining often ordinary source material to produce extraordinary juxtapositions, Orr creates a painterly vision full of free agency that is entirely his own.
Book: Christopher Orr by Patricia Fisher, Max Hollien and Colin R. Martin
His imagery is drawn from an extensive archive comprising vintage magazines, science textbooks, 16mm and Super 8 film stills, allowing him to produce extraordinary juxtapositions from everyday source materials.
The subject matter and context of Christopher Orr's paintings are what makes them so intriguing. The surreal and dreamlike compositions are created from combining found images (often from old magazines) and often depict figures looking at outlandish scenes, creatures or images. To me, the figures in the paintings are almost a representation of the viewer- we look at the painting just as they are looking at the world within the painting, trying to figure out what is going on. There is something very haunting about his work. A definite sense of danger and unease. The imagery is often disturbing- a sense of the 'unknown' as something threatening. The muddy and dark colours add to this atmospheric quality.
The source material is interesting because when these images are placed within their original context they would probably tell a very different story.Taking them out of context and making them ambiguous creates a completely different story
Dee Ferris - Article from SaatchiGallery website
DEE FERRIS IN THE EXHIBITION: I WANT! I WANT!
Dee Ferris' work is primarily concerned with questions of romance and escapism. Her shimmering oil paintings evoke both the idealised visions of 1970s advertising and the Arcadian landscapes of Turner and Fragonard. These fantasy rococo landscapes explore untenable models of love and friendship, offering faraway adventures in settings of country bliss.
Ferris’s seductive images glisten with oil and shimmer with glitter. Her images are ‘views’, depicting ostentatious country houses, glamorous sea-view hotels and nightclubs. Mannequin-like figures sit uncomfortably in lush dripping greenery, flowing turquoise waterfalls and iridescent shores. The exaggerated artificiality and intense hues seem to suggest anxiety as much as relaxed leisure. These are places of unattainable bliss which play upon our collective desires and fantasies. The work revolves around the point where this vision begins to disintegrate, examining the reality behind the mythology of escape.
Since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 2002 Ferris has exhibited in group shows at Neon Gallery, FA Projects, Anthony Wilkinson Gallery and Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.
Interview- Strange solution: Dee Ferris- Tate
She explains how she begins her process by collecting images which she finds aspirational or attractive, from sources such as magazines or holiday brochures- before disassembling them. This creates what she describes as a kind of 'new fantasy'. But without the conviction of it's sources.
Paint for her is the perfect medium because on one hand it is 'seductive' and 'sensual' and on the other it is often subject to accidents and flaws. According to Ferris- this works well for her work because it helps expose the 'falsity of the narratives'. She talks about how she knows if a painting is finished and when she knows to stop working on it- which I think is a good point to discuss for an abstract painter. She says she stops 'when time runs out', which I think is an interesting answer- she almost suggests that each of her pieces are unfinished.
Ibid Galler press release- Janis Avotins- December 2015
Untitled- 2012 Janis Avotins
John Bock @ Sadie Coles HQ
Hells Bells: A Western- Press Release
'Hells Bells: A western'
The exhibition features various sculptural artefacts and miscellaneous objects and is very immersive. Before seeing the film which the work is based on, you felt as if you were walking onto a film or stage set. The sculptures were very different from one another, some very delicate and detailed, such as a piece entitled 'See what happens when you fuck a stranger in the ass', which is made up of medical instruments and bloodied rags- shrouded in an intense red light. Others such as 'Miss Musa', made of fabric and acrylic stuffing looked much more 'thrown together' and seemingly more careless in terms of presentation.
The audio from the film playing in the back room of the exhibition filtered into the room, emphasising the darkly comical nature of the work. There was something dirty and disturbing about the atmosphere that these pieces gave off- a lot of them reminded me of middle-age torture devices, especially with the bloody rags and medical instruments.
I enjoyed the theatrical nature of the exhibition- the film itself was at times hard to watch because of the gory imagery and intense storyline. It was nice how the two elements of the show correlated with one another. It gave the works some context and explanation. Without the film- the pieces would still have been interesting.