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
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
I went on the Bathspa Gallery London gallery trip on tuesday and was with a small group led by Rachel Withers who lectures in both interpretation of art and who is an art critique. We covered 10 galleries or rather 9 in my case as i opted out of a later one! So I will concentrate on the highlight or those that raised issues. It also fascinating to compare the experience of last year using gallery trip to go to one exhibition Marlene Dumas Image as Burden where I just sat and looked!
Mark Wallinger’s Id paintings was something I wanted very much to look at and there was more time there. Dealing with the conscious unconscious and doubling one side of the image with another. at an arms reach was something I was conjuring with as at an early stage of painting large myself with extended brushes.
Scottie Wilson’s outsider art was obviously something that resonated with Rachel with personal knowledge. A man caught in a particular world cross hatching everywhere easily imaginable with a narrow boat. all sort of different influences boats fish water stylised.
Charlotte Joffe exhibition concerned with the complexity of relationships was a series of family portraits some similarity with others, perhaps intentionally. paintings that would mean a lot to the subjects. very different from other work we saw but in some ways disappointing Perhaps people known in the extended family and some taken form photographs in biographies Sylvia Plath and Ted Hughes for instance. There was a similarity in some and a distance in others not surprising in those taken from biographies.
The exhibition that stood out was Michael Joo’s series of paintings /prints of calorific works , calculation. What an exhibition that could hang together in every way. Situated in the creation on baking trays and the impression that results working with calorie counting. Food consumption, wealth and shortage. Result calculated within Buddhist aesthetics. What is the adequate nutrition? Results of research imprinted on the results Combining painting photography and printing. Aesthetically beautiful in the result. This exhibition felt the most satisfactory and beatify held together. images not possible to reproduce.
overall a taxing day, a bit of visual indigrestion, walked miles and blurred images and actually a lot of learning! A lot of artists to refer back to
Then yesterday several people had spoken to me about on the face of it a local exhibition by artist and printmaker Maisie Parker on life drawing one of my major preoccupation at least as a staring point.
Beautiful, comical in some cases, poinient the large angel, different interpretations bold, then covered, full bodied then a comical bum. different thoughtful and the 2 experiences together a lot of food to refer again to Michael Joo and in producing more work myself a resource
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.