After a number of months wishing to get to this exhibition I made it last week! On Maria Lassnig a Painting Survey, 1950 – 2007. This has been touring internationally for a number years.
It demonstaed how her work progressed, She started working abstractly in geometric form, and there were examples of abstract monotone work in the 1950s. Thereafter moving to colour and then the transformation into paintings focused on how she focused her own body experience . Her work has been compared to that of the surrealists. Her education was interrupted by the war and I am unclear quite what happened to her artistic and other education with the annexation of Austria. I would assume neither her abstract or figuration would fit with acceptability of the Nazi era
A description of her work from Hauser and Wirth in the gallery in which ‘she captured physical sensation as felt from within. Lassnig devoted much of her career to recording her physiological states through a direct and unflinching style, believing that truth resides in the emotions produced within the physical shell.’
A quotation from the artist displayed in the exhibition perhaps are art work itself ‘I stand as it were, nude in front of the canvas, without intention, without plans, without a model, without photography, and let things take shape. But I have a starting point which arose from the realisation that the only truly real things are my own sensations, which transpire within the house of my body; they’re psychological, the sensations of pressure when sitting and reclining, of tensions and spatial extension- such things are rather difficult to depict.
Frequently used animals perhaps a frog where one might see a human limb emerge.
Fascinating to introduce another who has no knowledge of her visceral work
I struggle with mistakes.
Not mistakes in the art but mistakes in getting the canvas corners right like I would with wrapping presents at Christmas1
With print which has almost resulted in the technicians giving up with getting me independent
Forgetting processes almost more than the art itself which I’m feeling quite positive about
So maybe my practical mistakes which always get worse and I get more worried about them sould become part of the art itself.
I have created these 6 boards out of a body drawing featuring different angles and different body views and of course I could not get the hanging straight! There are lots of holes in the pristine white wall, chipped away the plaster too in one place. O viv!
I have been looking at the wonderful drawing and sculpture of artist Kiki Smith, fascinated that she starts with medically correct perspective, viscerally she elongates and distorts the body on occasions, in Other Worlds Baltic exhibition she was placed alongside Nancy Spero’s prints which their social and political comment alongside the 60s onwards with text and figurative art based on trace rather than actual body form.
I am beginning to think my work on aging bodies is more about the internal experience of being in the body rather than external.
So perhaps distortions, mistakes, not getting it right fit well together!
Update When i returned to my studios space yesterday some kind soul had straightened the lower picture and put in level screws rectified my mistake!
An interesting quote from John Ruskin
The last few weeks have been all about unpacking & settling into my new home in Frome Somerset and now with assistance making a studio in my new home.
Can I believe that? Yes an artist, me.
So now the carpet is removed in the attic room, thank goodness I asked for help, removing transporting a carpet down 2 floors and dragging it out of the pedestrian area to the garage.
Apart from some life drawing I’ve not been doing new work, but did experiment with a pastel sketch yesterday morning, should have thought more about paper but I wanted to work on red again.
Some discovery of artists Eleanor Adair, really evocative for me
and reading discovered Dolan and Tincknell ‘Ageing femininities Troubling representations’ O yes!
I started out with 2 identical red boards and despite attempts to create a series have come up with 2 very different pieces of work. What I do not understand at all is how differently the crimson red behaved. Disappearing to start with on the body of the 1st painting and appearing more distinct on the clothing of the 2nd. Or that’s what it feels like.For the moment this will remain a series of 2. With the possibility of a 3rd at a later stage. O well that will have to do for the present.
At the same time as I have been finishing studio work, I have been continuing to work through my plans for summer term project. The mention of Henry Moore months ago when Clare Woods ran the large scale painting workshop resulted in me looking into Henry Moore’s drawings. Some like the underground second world war drawings, and his mining drawings seem to be drawings for themselves. Others are clearly related to his sculptures but those figures in all of the drawings, all the figures have similarity. But can I look at him without experiencing sculpture? No I don’t think so now.
So whist I was in Weymouth this weekend went over to Portland.After having Googled Portland and sculpture and found Stone Carving, went and had a chat. they suggested if I was really to get to grip with Moore I needed the experience of engaging with the landscape and light on a 5 day course rather than just a weekend and give a presentation about my work!
I went to this talk at the Royal Academy on Friday, so glad as it dealt with so much that is relevant to me and what I am looking about. Focused on a painting of La Vecchia seen at an exhibition of Renaissance art by Giogione. I find this picture of the painting from the Guardian engaging as a young woman looking and pondering on the image. The discussion by panel; Lynne Segal professor of gender studies, Borgia author Sarah Dunant, Aileen Ribeiro prof from the Courtald institute and Dr Hannah Zeilig expert on cultural representation of aging. Wow a real discussion on something that is so relevant to what I am trying to do. Sarah Dunant and Aileen put in context discussed how unusual La Vecchia was, in an age of witch trials, and how sympathetically displayed more a representation with a message than a person . Shown a variety of images of older women, not a great many to choose from. Today when there are more people over 60 than under 16? Age is decline, are age and beauty diametrically opposed? The reality that time does destroy the vestiges of beauty. Men in power appear ‘beautiful’ and strong at all ages. Old age itself is feminized. Erotic images of women are never portrayed sympathetically.
This felt the beginning of a discussion, at the encouragement of the person I was sitting next to I got involved in a discussion with Lynne Segal about this, lots of agreement there but encouraging to get involved in a dialogue about my reaction and also talked to Kube a black woman whose concern about the lack of inclusion of a black women resonated
Fascinating time with other students and Clare Woods artists, the results behave meant great changes to my work but more anon as I work the results through
2 weeks ago I ‘discovered’ American artist Alice Neel(1900-1984) and continue to be utterly inspired the more I learn about her.
Her portraits are what immediately caught by attention this includes a self portrait that she painted in her 80s. Looking straight into what must have been the mirror. She painted key figures in feminism in the 1960s Linda Nochlin, totally politically aware painting key figures in left wing grass roots politics.
As I look at her biography and look at some many images I see a woman whom tragedy touched on numerous occasions.
She painted Andy Warhol shortly after he was shot, looking fragile with scars.
She painted her figures clothed and unclothed, as herself real and true to life no airbrusing here! Often painting her fellow artists naked, very much real flesh . It seems one of these of Ethel Ashton is on loan to the Tate, so I have just got to see it. Will write more.
Cannot manage to save the images so words will have to do.
These wonderful very moving video installations were the definite highlight of a winter visit. All you could do was stand watch and absorb!
web link YSP Bill Viola video link
In many videos as ever with Viola water poured, fire and light, the essence of life, words of a Sufi poet, Buddhism, Christian mysticism all play a part and it seems to move and speak for me to the inner woman. Notably much of the technical innovation comes from Viola’s partner Kira Perov
Viola’s slowly moving figures showed paths between life and death, mothers and daughters, youngsters approaching adulthood, facing all that life brings, all stages of life are here, aging and the search for eternity among other things.
For me the man searching for immortality , woman searching for eternity were the highlight, these 2 aging naked figures scrutinized their skin for blemishes and any signs of aging, as I look at the aging process for my work, including my own, the acceptance, appreciation apparent in this video speaks as many have found deep to the soul.