Three hundred and fifty eight

358

Alchemy

2014 by David A Pinegar
A Wall of Colour; 60 Threadneedle Street Space

A Wall of Colour is Pinegar’s first series of fine art photographs. A commercial photographer for 30 years, these new images allow him to explore and exploit the elements behind the success of his previous pictures, honing in on light, texture and colour. Confronted by these incredible prints (many are as wide as 3 metres), we are consumed by the intensity, the clarity, of these components. Magnifying his subject through a new process – Pinegar’s pictures are of everyday objects – he shows us a new way of seeing, of interpreting the world. Alchemy is all about the decadent colours of red, purple and gold; deep and luxurious, each colour spreads across the composition with agency. Melting to black darkly, or ignited with the brilliance of light, these colours create a tension that gives the image movement; a pulse, that sees it contort before us. Shapes are created in the varying textures, a superficial gleam of gold to a mottled and blurred crimson. We watch each shape form as an extension of our own imagination – thoughts or figures provoked, then cast in a play of colour and changing surface. Alchemy is a fitting title; the lure of extracting gold, as was the process in medieval times, is epitomised in this seductive image, where the glittering surface appears just beyond reach.

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Three hundred and fifty seven

357

Souterrain (entrance detail)

2012 by Lee Bul
LEE BUL, Mudam Luxembourg 2013-14

Born into the military dictatorship of South Korea, Lee Bul’s art is understandably reactive. Bul’s work is caught between a push-pull of wanting to look forward, but tainted with the history of what she has had to leave behind. This preoccupation is visualised in her most recent work with the inviting gleam of reflective surface; futuristic and glitteringly seductive, yet deliberately fragmented, these shards reflect our troubled world back at us. Diluvium, in Bul’s own words is her “monster installation”, which took over KCCUK’s windowed space that looks over Northumberland Avenue in September 2014. The walls and floor were covered in a mirror-effect vinyl that, unlike the crystal clarity of a mirror, was a mottled silver blur; encompassing and absorbing, we are never quite sure where each surface begins or ends. The floor itself rises and falls at various angles, mounting upwards in terrific shapes that give the installation a performative energy; it appears to grow and break free – cyborg-like, monster-like – before us. Highly reflective silver tape is then drawn between surfaces, multiple lines that fragment the space, as well as giving the ‘monster’s’ immense energy a visual dynamism. The tape’s sharp edge, intermittently ripped to create thinner, more deadly and jagged razors, contrasts to the softly textured silver of the walls; we are presented with two juxtaposing sides of reflection. Diluvium, a term used to describe superficial deposits formed by catastrophic flood-like actions of water, puts a poignant twist on the energy that pulses through these lines. The side-effects of action must be accounted for; no matter how seemingly beautiful, a shard of glass has a sharp edge.

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Three hundred and fifty six

356

La Princesa Ometepetl en su Jardin

c1980 by Abel Vargas
Instituto Nicaraguense de Cultura, Convento San Francisco, Granada, Nicaragua

Hanging on the cool stone walls of the sixteenth-century Convento San Francisco are a collection of Nicaraguan painters. The style of these artists unites them – all are naive in approach; colour is bold, lines are simple, creating a quiet and immediately accessible beauty to each of the works – no matter what the subject matter. When some of the paintings show the brutality of civil war or the ravaging of villages –  such as Amilcar Mendieta’s La Batalla de San Jacinto, 1988 – this naive approach is made all the more poignant; flat and two-dimensional blood seeping in puddles from Lowry-like matchstick men. Such violence, much of which is in living memory, is perhaps made easier to remember – or indeed to take possession of – in a style which is akin to the primitive painters of the country’s history. It is no surprise then that much of the other work by this group of painters is inspired by pre-Columbian legends, indigenous village life and mythological Nicaraguan figures. La Princesa Ometepetl en su Jardin is such a painting, showing the Princess of the island Ometepe ‘in the garden’. Vargas was born on the island of Ometepe – a mystical place even without the mythology, it is formed of two dramatic volcanoes and sits on Lago de Nicaragua – a lake so big that Spanish invaders thought they were setting out to sea when they first came across its shores. The painting shows the outline of the island’s distant volcanoes, their bright green tops, lush with jungle, misty in pillows of violet clouds. The jungle in the foreground appears shining and plump, abundant in leaves and lusciously healthy, with each detail picked out brightly. It is the almost childlike style of Vargas that lets nature appear so cheerfully; every leaf striving upwards, holding the jungle’s animals – the parrot, humming bird and tropical frog – still before us. The Princess herself appears as beautifully arranged as the green that surrounds her; serene in posture and composure, she holds out a red fruit, symbolising perhaps the passion, blood and love of her country. So perfectly undisturbed, Vargas’s garden is fanciful, yet not untrue; like so many Latin American artists and novelists, Vargas combines reality with mysticism to show another way.

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Filed under Postcards, Twentieth-Century

postcardwall on holiday

337

Taking a break in Central America, postcardwall’s weekly postcards will be few and far between for a while.

Follow on twitter @postcardwall_ for Central American art updates and watch this space for postcards from across the ocean come September…

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Three hundred and fifty five

355

Between Folds / Composition N.1: A Diagonal Line

2014 by Francisca Prieto
UNDERLINED, jaggedart

Prieto’s new body of work concentrates on the line, using its symbols and associations to govern her unique practice (see postcard 319). The line has endless expressions: it divides; it measures; it joins; it slices apart and binds together, forming the most intrinsic and universal signs. Francisca abstracts eight recognisable linear forms and invites us to enjoy them for the simplicity of their composition. The lean of a diagonal line, poised for movement, aptly unfolds with the records of motion, of sport – with the pages of The Wanderers cricket club logbook. As the angle of the composition pushes our eyes forward, Francisca grounds them with the vertical lines of the logbook’s tables, which run straight down. These bright red lines widen and narrow with a movement that mirrors the rhythm of throwing and catching, creating a tension between direction and motion. Emerging from between the gridlines are the softly hand-written words of play – “bowled”, “out” – repeated with the emphasis of an umpire’s call. Begun with the words “played at…”, the line (the game) is drawn to a close with the inky and inevitable “rain stopped play”.

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Filed under Postcards, Twenty First-Century

Three hundred and fifty four

354

THE WORLD EXISTS TO BE PUT ON A POSTCARD

2013 by Simon Cutts
postcardwall collection

Simon Cutts’s art invites us to a place where the lines between ‘a work of art’ and print overlap. Books have been considered art for decades; before the printing press any illustration would have been an original, and it is words on a page that inspire some of our most intense imagination. Cutts harnesses this powerful medium to create artworks that require this different level of interaction. In the 1975 work Poinsettia, Cutts made his ‘book’ out of a white box, which conceals two ‘pages’ (seemingly made of clothing name-tape) suspended by string – the left reading in green ‘my favourite flowers’ , the right in red ‘are leaves’; an image could not have better conjured this eccentric plant. THE WORLD EXISTS TO BE PUT ON A POSTCARD is just as powerful, suspending this loaded phrase in the centre of one of the most influential forms of material communication. The phrase is emphasised through its being built into its very medium – the black embossed lettering is carved into the thick pulp of the paper, so thick that the letters remain invisible on the other side. These words are given weight, as the postcard stands stiff in our hand. As people take pains over selecting a postcard that represents something – whether it be a holiday, a sentiment or exhibition – Cutts has cast the world as a selection of loaded images, ripe for the printing. Cutts is playing with a phrase of the French poet Mallarmé, “…que tout, au monde, existe pour aboutir à un livre” – everything in the world exists in order to end up as a book – which, printed on the back of the card, reflects that often the world does seem to exist just so you can tell someone about it. Immediately evocative of the countless images that we’ve ever wanted a postcard of, Cutts’s card could be sent to anyone.

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Three hundred and fifty three

353

not without undue prolixity

c2000 by Dolores de Sade
The Other Art Fair 2014, www.doloresdesade.com

De Sade works using the often forgotten media of etching, drawing on its exquisite potential to mark meticulous detail. Etchings have a depth, a gravitas – perhaps from their use in books – that demands a certain way of looking. Their quiet beauty, subtle in black and white, is all the more expressive for its limitations, with concentration on the leading line and the evocative pattern of shadows. De Sade’s work is often curiously humorous – eight lined-up conifers finished with the words “and so on…” – including text or half-hidden objects, yet the imaginative potential of the etching is truly manipulated in her places or scenes. As sporadic illustrations in a dusty old book, these images invite us in with their detail and frozen narrative; their sharp outlines freezing moments in time, leaving each scene paused with a hushed anticipation, suspended in the clarity of the image. Indeed, in not without undue prolixity de Sade’s scene stops mid-action, capturing a split second as a man falls through the air and a puff of smoke clouds a barrel of a gun. The violent action of these distant figures is framed elaborately with the rolling shapes of the rock-face – so bowed-over and huddled towards the scene, they appear almost alive, party to the cruel trick of the shot. The light, bathing the falling figure ethereally, is a glorious haze, triumphant against the dark and heavily etched rocks. The possibilities of the story – the shot, the fact that the man falls above the figure who holds the gun – are intriguing; the very lines of the etching burrowing deeper into our imagination the longer we gaze at the image.

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