Last week I ventured to the Tate to see their new exhibition, ‘All Too Human’, looking forwards to seeing uncomfortably realistic Freud and soul-sucking, nihilistic Bacon. I also discovered a new artist, who has certainly struck a chord with me… I even bought a postcard. Christ, his work must be good.
The work of Michael Andrews (1928-1995) certainly held my gaze the longest, captured both by the subject matter and his beautiful, ethereal painting style. In ‘Melanie and Me Swimming’ (1978-9) the acrylic paint saturates the canvas; the dark, cool water had seeped into the painting, pooling around the figures. It’s a snapshot of human interaction, a fleeting event that may not seem significant.
With ‘The Deer Park’, Andrews uses luminous washes of colour, muted shades of violet and green. An exclusive club inhabited for eternity by ghostly figures, whispered rumours, illicit dalliances and too much champagne. There is something very Twin Peaks about this… Andrews used photographs of celebrities for inspiration – can you spot Marilyn Monroe?
Cheerful, mesmeric – and a little bit like a much needed hug.
I visited Tate Modern’s Calder exhibition for the second time last week – after the first viewing, it was blatantly apparent that I would have to come back. The exhibition has something of a hold on me – similar to the magnetic pull of Rothko’s awe-inspiring Seagram Murals (that room is one of my favourite places in London. Coincidentally, did you know that Mark Rothko was found dead the very same day those paintings reached the Tate Modern?)
But back on track. Calder is an artist I knew little about – mobiles, he is the guy who invented the mobile.This exhibition leads you through his developing practice; as an artist it’s so reassuring to find clear experimentation and progression. In my book, a good art exhibition is one you can fall into, appreciate without shuffling around, your nose in a leaflet or squinting at little labels. Calder was consuming from the start, with his little wire drawings of circus folk and animals; so deceptively simplistic, three-dimensional sculpted in the air – charming and witty.
It is cold and snowy and we keep getting power cuts. I am attempting to sew, but my fingertips are going numb. Work in progress:
We took a trip to the Tate Modern at the weekend to see ‘A Bigger Splash‘, which explores the relationship between painting and performance art. It was really inspiring and thought provoking, and I want to make art! I admire performance work, but it is something that I have never done myself (though I have often thought of it. But I’m sure every art student has their OH-MY-GOD!-naked-performance-art-epiphany moment.)
The show started out with a Pollock painting on the floor, underneath a film of him creating it. Excellent. Highlights were a beautifully messy Bruce Nauman video, a Yves Klein naked-women-painting video, and Eleanor Antin’s utterly captivating video of her putting on make-up. It struck a chord with me. Make-up is a peculiar thing. Slightly creeped out/morbidly fascinated by the work of the Vienna Actionists and all the documentation of painty, bloody orgies….
Anyway, it’s a really good exhibition- any exhibition that makes you WANT to get home and work has to be good- go see it! It’s on til April- you have time.
Sticking with performance art, I am reading a wonderful Marina Abramovic book. I love her. How she thinks about things, writes about things, and the themes and concepts she explores… I don’t like all of her work, but as an artist, she is truly admirable. Formidable. Compelling. Human. Honest.
An extract from the book;
“Attempting to escape the body is a dissociative response that produces a mental effect similar to that of self-inflicted pain, since the body in pain is a body without verbal language even though pain’s language is visually expressive. For Abramovic, performance itself provided a means of escape. In response to the question, ‘Who are you?’ Abramovic answered, ‘I don’t know; I learn about myself through work, not through life’.“