2013 by Lisa Eurgain Taylor
2013 Wimbledon College of Art BA Degree Show, until 22 June
Taylor’s artwork at Wimbledon was happily not alone in showing students being swept up in the magnitude and possibilities of paint. Unlike so many degree shows, where paint is clearly passé, Wimbledon students play, pull and pontificate paint, showing that medium needn’t be complicated to be inspiring and original. Jasmine Leonard, with sun filled images filtering light through a nostalgic pastel haze, Olivia Moullaali, darkly coloured painting with abstracting and perspective playing daubs, and Sarah Bold were among the other gems. Taylor’s work explores the belief that when we die we become part of the mountainous landscape, as told by Welsh bards. With the wonderfully poetic line “Forever in child, her thighs embrace the mist, her breasts caress the presumptuous clouds.” (from One Moonlit Light, Caradog Prichard) Taylor takes the shapes and lines of the human form to grow her wild and magical mountains. Building these bewitching landscapes from the abstracted beauty of the figure, Taylor’s paintings softly explore the visualisation of the age-old idea of ashes to ashes, dust to dust. Layers of paint, mottled and solid, create the mountains, with the imprint of figures pressed upon them in delicate lino-print. The repetitive and pattern-like way of introducing the human form into the landscape gives these awesome structures a rolling movement, a depth as they grow and shift, form covering them as wildflowers blanket a mountainside. Light, and the soft breath of mythology, then sweeps over these ranges, in the mist of a hazily painted sky.
c2000 by Jock McFadyen
RA Summer Exhibition, 10 June – 18 August 2013
It’s summertime again and, low and behold, the RA unveils its annual Summer Exhibition – extraordinarily now in its 245th year. Extraordinarily, as rarely do we now see a muddle of contemporary artists stacked on top of one another in academy style; the likes of Tracey Emin alongside those we may never have heard of. The unashamed, overwhelmingly full rooms of art are a welcome contrast to the slick streamlined spaces of “cutting edge” galleries. There is a nostalgia for these bulging stuffy old walls; celebrated, chastised, reacted against, the RA reminds us of the wealth of art being made now – and just how much there is. Standard, as always, varies wildly, with colour, style and material crashing noisily into one another from room to room; though with such an expanse of work, surely that is part of the fun. McFadyen’s (RA) Tate Moss hangs at the back of the largest gallery, reminding us of one of the delights of the summer show – size is no problem, numerous large works can happily gather here. For McFadyen’s painting, size is important, as the imposing urbanity of this building can impress itself upon the viewer. Lines are crisp and dead straight, picked out in the structure and grain of the brick, emphasised by McFadyen’s wonderful collage-like approach to paint. Each colour and compartment of painting is picked out as if cut from a different fabric or texture. This gives the painting a depth that draws the eye across the composition, making us acutely aware of each detail – be it a breeze block , pane of glass, or the strength of the turquoise paint against the earthy colours of construction. Gleaming, these details are reflected back at us, from the windows and the magnificently blue waters of rejected ripples of Thames or canal. The delight with which McFadyen picks out these corners of London, is the elated feeling of discovery: finding somewhere forgotten that has only gathered more beauty in its being left quite alone.
1993 by Jeremy Cooper
Exhibited with Postcard Narratives @ R O O M ARTSPACE
Anyone who was lucky enough to see Postcard Narratives at R O O M this past April would have immediately recognised a passion for this celebrated form of communication, a love that was unanimously expressed and explored by Jeremy Cooper and his invited artists. Cooper – whose postcard collection is vast, outlined in his recent book Artists’ Postcards. A Compendium – exhibited his work alongside 13 invited artists, from Tracey Emin and Gavin Turk to younger and recently graduated Cristina Garrido and Rebecca Loweth. All played with postcards; Frances Richardson building an empty and shattered wooden window frame, postcards tucked in the corners like friends’ photos, yet in each picture a white silhouetted space sits where a figure should be, the work aptly titled Would Only be Heartbreak for Me. In Abigail Lane’s Your World is a Burden to Me a full teacup perches on the edge of a plinth, a long and deadly straight drip of tea falling towards the floor, numerous postcards scattered carelessly at its feet. These small reproductions of treasured, memory filled, hated and loved images – possible words streaming across their backs – stir emotion, allowing these artists to make such bold statements and allowing us to identify with them. For there is something comforting and nostalgic about a postcard, a quality that sees generation after generation seduced. Mother’s Boy has four of Cooper’s prep school sports team photographs, ranging from 1957 to ’59, surrounded by cigarette cards of the glamorous girls of the ’50s. The young and determined faces of school boys sporting their kit are a sharp contrast to the beautiful and alluring pin-ups. Lined up around and between them, one gets the feeling these mothers boys don’t stand a chance. The subtlety with which Cooper brings his own life into the history told by his postcards is beautifully done, outlining perhaps the poignant power postcards possess. Although they each tell their own history, their image never fails to conjure personal memories and associations for the individual; they are small and accessible windows into a point in everyone’s time.
1969 by Garry Winogrand
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, until 2 June 2013
SFMOMA’s exhibition of Winogrand’s photography is to be swallowed up by the middle of the twentieth-century. Bouncing us through the depression of the ’30s, second world war, the glamorous ’50s and the swinging ’60s, Winograd invites us into other generations, seducing us into each with his captivating images. His images are enticing; shot at various angles, one is never looking at a picture but becomes part of the scene. Figures are never posing but absorbed in the action of their day, leaving the images fuelled with the energy of the moment. One of Winogrand’s favourite compositions is to capture those walking towards him, plunging us into the shoes of someone walking down the street, as we come head on to the faces of a different generation. This particular photo, Los Angeles, is quite restrained in the distance it keeps. In many photos the camera must have been thrust into the face of its subject, the expressions of the unsuspecting walkers close enough to feel their bristle of recognition at someone so close. It is this frank approach that makes Winogrand’s photographs so vivid, so expressive, and documentative of the lives of everyday Americans. Despite his naturalistic approach, this photo of Los Angeles beautifully demonstrates Winogrand’s attention to light and composition. The shafts of light, shooting diagonally into the foreground, put these strolling ladies on a pedestal, casting their shadows dramatically across their pavement ‘stage’. Looking closer, Winogrand had captured the distraction of the audience – the quiet moment of a child observing the curled over man in the wheelchair, cup held between his knees. His gaze is poignant, his innocence pondering on what he can’t quite understand; the ladies’ gaze has none of this intimacy, as they look down from their centre stage.
2013 by Rafal Topolewski
The International 3
The International 3′s stand at ART 13 was a welcome break. Bright and colourful, Topolewski’s paintings lined the walls of their cube, inviting us to step into the warmth of the sun reflected from the fronds of his palm trees. The paintings are large, with over-blown compositions that cut the edge off their scenes with the canvas. This almost abstracted effect serves to plunge us into the centre of the image; not quite realising where we are or what we are seeing, though recognising enough to conjure possibilities. Deep turquoise is evocative of brilliant skies and the ocean, while the hot and dry browns fade as dust and sand. We feel as one does on the first day in foreign climes, bleary eyed and blinking into the white light of a hot day. Topolewski paints these rays into his colours with glistening highlights that bristle his palms with life, contrasting with the dry heat of the flat colour in the background of the painting. Paint is precise in the falling fingers of the palms, while in the background it becomes bold, thin but intense, spreading either texture or colour. Exhibiting in NADA Cologne this year and based in Manchester, The International 3 is worth keeping an eye on.
An Honest Woman
2012 by Laura Clarke
Clarke was recently Artist in Residence at the Works on Paper fair and, if you were lucky enough if find her there or indeed just found her work, you would have been pulled into her weird and wonderful world. Etchings often bring an essence of naturalist documentation to artwork, lead by their infinite appearing capacity for detail, forged by the delicate line. It is this line that caresses objects so closely, focusing our attention on each component of Clarke’s compositions. Leading our eye thus, the subjects of her work gather a collective and poignant resonance, humming almost in their concentration of detail. This concentration is then spiked, tipped over to a raw seduction, as we realise the provocative subjects of her scenes. In An Honest Woman the intimacy of a shrouded clearing is scattered with haunting symbols that pinch the viewer’s gaze – nudity spilling out of open legs. A woman hangs, deadly still, though it is at the mercy of her own hands that she swings – curiously, from a large severed forearm with curling fingers – her feet digging into the soft flesh of an incomplete body. Smaller bodies are kept in the shadows of the foliage, slanting eyes caught in the flow and rush of earth as it cascades down to the pit of the painting, while a rat-like creature surveys the situation, clutching its jaw, its eye bright with a gleam. This scene, that scratches away at our imagination with descriptive and fantastically leading lines, is then calmed, soothed, by placidly flat distant mountains.
c2012 by Eleanor Watson
http://www.eleanorwatson.org/; currently exhibiting work at GX Gallery until 28 February 2013
A 2012 graduate of Wimbledon College of Art, Watson is proof that the power of paint has not yet died at University of the Arts London. Her paintings are crisp, clean and wonderfully emotive; the sharp edge of her accomplished technique carving the atmosphere of each composition. The almost graphic approach to shape in Watson’s compositions allows each jigsaw piece of the picture to make a point, thus becoming poignant in building the overall effect of the scene. Each detail stands out, whether it be a clinically drawn lamp or chair in one of her empty interiors, or a bold colour – as they are picked out of the pages of this map. Not that Watson’s crisp lines iron out the painterly possibilities of her medium; quite the opposite, the space these lines contain are filled with the play of colour and tone. Indeed, often colour will creep across her composition as a shadow, injecting each object in its path with a pungent hue. Watson’s handling of paint is a triumphant melody: flat and bold then impressionistically painterly, and each giving an impression of lightness of touch. Nothing is ever heavy, which is perhaps what allows such an appearance of life – of atmosphere – in her paintings. In Map the bright pages are aglow with colourful possibilities, held by the sharp and delicate edge of the paper which, springing up at each side, looks poised as wings to take flight. This energy is then expelled to the wood the map sits on, as a spreading of warmth – a subtle burnt umber – is buttered through the darkness. Watson is one to watch.