Glasgow Museums

Over Week 6, I went to visit a couple of museums in Glasgow. The first I went to, was the Glasgow Gallery of Modern Art.

The most useful part of the museum for my current work, I found was in the TASTE! exhibition. An exhibition where through the display of artwork and archive, presented a narrative which unpicked the history of the Gallery of Modern Art’s (GoMA) collecting, shining a light on both the artworks and the processes behind their journey from artist’s studio to museum collection.

On their website it states that “By hanging artwork and archive together, TASTE! suggests that object and idea are of equal importance and offers the exhibition as a space to enjoy, question and discuss the value of art.”

What I was first attracted to, was seeing the piece Oyster Stew Soup by Andy Warhol.

In his work, Warhol had the idea that artwork could be produced to specific consumer taste. He saw the artist potential in the modern industry and used the rapid technological progression within his work. His Oyster Stew soup is a work which finds joy in the everyday.

I drew quite a bit of inspiration from this piece and the philosophy behind it. To link consumerism and particularly the food advertising industry can be linked to the fetishisation of women. How it at times is almost ridiculous how women are presented to be “consumed”, alongside these products, or similarly. It brought into mind the value of brands and I’m considering how to incorporate this in my piece.

Another aspect of the museum that I really like, though may not necessarily be currently used in my work – is the curation.

The big lettering and titling of the pieces attracts your attention immediately, and in itself becomes a kind of advertising for the work. It was something I have never seen before but was a refreshing set up compared to the normal pristine presentations at museums

A second gallery I visited was the Kelvingrove Gallery of Art.

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There I was lucky enough to see a couple of Pre-Raphaelite portraits of women, a useful experience after doing some research on them to inform my portraits.

Barbican Basquiat Exhibition

For Week 6, I signed up for a trip to the Barbican which was unfortunately cancelled. Having found time in London I managed to go to the Basquiat Boom for Real exhibition at the Barbican. The exhibition brought together a selection of more ehan 100 works from international museums and private collections – with rare film, photography and archive material as well as his reknown art.

I’ve always been a big fan of Basquiat’s work and having written an essay about his work and how jazz and the blues influenced his work in sixth form was really looking forward to seeing his work in person. I was not only impressed by the work and a lot of the times it’s size, but also by all the aspects of his life that he brought into his work and how he made his work accessible beyond the art world through starting as a street artist (similarly to Keith Haring).

PurpleSTARS

For Week 6, I attended an introduction to PurpleSTARS by Kate Allen. It explained the organization and how they’re projects with Sensory Objects aimed to create ways for museums to be a more sensory and accessible experience for those who are disabled.

It is a really interesting project seeking volunteers which I think I would partake it. We were also shown a couple of the Sensory Objects created which I was really impressed by. Kate gave us all soundcards to personalise as an initial step to the project which I hope to make in the coming weeks.

 

Printing with a car

For Week 6, I took part in the printmaking with a car workshop. Printing is a medium that I’m not very familiar with and was looking forward to learning about.

At the beginning of the workshop, we started off by being introduced to the different tool used to carve a print and materials we would be carving into, either wood or MDF. To start of we each had to individually carve an image into your chosen material (I chose MDF) and we would start off with those small prints.

After carving the image, we then went on to print the images. We learned to distribute the ink evenly onto the MDF and then had to place the MDF carefully into a piece of paper, before using a press to print the image onto the piece of paper. I was quite happy with the result of my print and especially liked the ones that were slightly more faded.

Once we had completed our individual prints, we were split up into groups to make the larger print that we would press with a car. My group decided to make an image of a car which we carved out together.

We then spread ink on the MDF. It proved to be a lot more challenging to distribute the ink due to the size of the paper and it was quite difficult to tell if it was completely covered after the first layer of ink. Working as a group did make it significantly easier.

Once the ink was layered, we finally got to press the print using a car. What this entailed was placing the MDF of a sheet of paper and placing them between two wooden planks which the car would drive over in order to press the ink onto the paper.

The finally step carefully peeling the MDF of the sheet to reveal the print, and then putting on a rack to dry.

Overall we were quite happy with the result and made a few more copies of the print. I really enjoyed the workshop and working with this medium.

Painting and Walking Gallery Tour in London

(Italicised quotes from the press releases received at the exhibitions)

1. Modern Art – Sanya Kantarovsky ‘Feral Neighbours’

First exhibition we visited on the tour. In this gallery space, the paintings were large, vividly coloured with a cartoonish style. The paintings felt like an intimate portrayal of personal scenes, a feeling that felt a bit unsettling at times.

2. Victoria Miro – Nijdeka Akunyili Crosby ‘Portals’ & Group Show ‘Protest’

The first exhibition we visited at the Victoria Miro was Protest, a group exhibition including 17 artists.

The exhibition was an exhibition of historical and contemporary works by artists concerned with the socio-political issues of their day, who question the status quo and the power structures found within societies, and who take the language of protest as a means to explore its potency.

My favourite works from the exhibition were:

  • Doug Aitken’s Free, 2016 – a sculptural text work lined with shattered mirror that takes a single word and through the actions of light and reflectivity, turns a ‘quick read’ into an endlessly shifting experience.
  • Kara Walker’s Tell Me Your Thoughts on Police Brutality Miss ‘Spank Me Harder’, 2015 – a series of works on paper which ‘conflates different eras, idioms and attitudes to explore racism, its symbols and legacy from the American Civil War to very recent killings and assaults that have fuelled the Black Lives Matter campaign.
  • Isaac Julien’s WESTERN UNION: Small Boats (The Leopard), 2007 – which questions what art that deals with newsworthy issues, or protests against suffering of others should look like, in this piece he brings together baroque pageantry and metaphor in a work that, referring to the journeys made across the Mediterranean by Asians and Africans trying to enter Europe by sea, experiments with the notions of cultural entanglement and the dissent between aesthetics and politics.

Outside the first gallery space in the Victoria Miro Garden was Alex Hartley’s piece A Gentle Collapsing II. This piece was a preview of his solo exhibition at Victoria Miro in November. This architectural intervention transforms the gallery’s waterside garden into a scene of poetic dereliction and decay. Resembling an International Style domestic building apparently abandoned to the elements, the site-specific work gives rise to thoughts of modernism and its legacy, Romantic ideas of the ruin and the picturesque, as well as the nature and meaning of the folly in the constructed landscape.

In Gallery II was the exhibition Portals by Njideka Akunyili Crosby – this was probably my favourite exhibition from the day. In these pieces, Akunyili Crosby draws on historical, political and personal references to make luminous, densely layered figurative compositions whose intricate surfaces combine disparate materials and aesthetic traditions. An amalgam of processes including painting, drawing and photo-transfer techniques are harnessed in large-scale works on paper that, precise in style, nonetheless conjure the complexity of contemporary experience. In these works, doors, windows and screens function as physical, conceptual and emotional points of arrival and departure, while in a broader sense the work itself is a portal through which mutual ideas about transcultural identity flow back and forth.

3. Tramps – Denzel Forrester

”Denzil Forrester’s work is rich, complex and highly sophisticated. The strength of his draftmanship and his extraordinary use of colour enable him to bring to his canvasses dynamic movement, and purposeful power. London’s urban life is his main source of inspiration. The music which permeates his work comes from the West Indies; the range of iridescent colours into which he translates the music has been evoked by the light and colour of Italy. Forrester has been painting at his London based studio for the past 30 years. He is currently lecturing at Morley College.”

From http://denzilforrester.co.uk/bio.html

4. Carl Freedman – Fergal Stapleton ‘La Ceremonial’

”Small paintings in exhibition from an ongoing series of vanitas begun several years ago. Initially they were quotations (over-looked details and fragments) of Old Master painting and a few were painted as still lives.

Larger paintings are fuller and more expansive celebrations of the same anti-gestalt: mass of uncertain features cohering into unstable versions of human faces, clothing, action, with highlights tending to resolve into peculiar jewels and baubles”

We also had a talk from the Gallery Director – Robert about the artwork and his role as a director as well has his experience within the art world.

5. Limoncello Gallery – Alice Browne ‘Forecast’

”Title ‘Forecast’, refers to her interest in the problematic practice of projecting a vision of the future. For her exhibitions, new body of paintings which for the first time figuratively reference Boticelli’s illustrations and Dante’s vision of the ‘malebolge’ – structure of concentric evil ditches in which sinners guilty of fraud are punished. Works also gesture towards a more innocent desire to will our own futures through reading star signs or simple gestures such as crossing fingers for luck (also used as a sign of deceit). Working procedurally with layers of paint towards a formally unpredictable outcome. Browne embraces the anxiety of not knowing.

Paintings describe obscure imaginative spaces , which simultaneously appear to adhere to the rules of gravity and perspective whilst outwardly ignoring them. Boxes, shadows, screens and girders mingle with drips, floating transparent forms and abstract geometric shapes. Works appear to occupy multiple planes and visual languages, result in a complex network of forms that flip between object and image.

Floor of gallery collection of ‘photo-objects’. Obscure in origin, unplaceable images reference practice of cleromancy.” 

Also had a talk from Alice Browne about her exhibition and process as well as her general experience as a practicing artist.

6. Gallery 1.1 – Charles Williams ‘Louise Bourgeois & Other Stories’

”’Recent series of still life paintings started as an attempt to escape the tyranny of meaning and narrative by painting things and not people, quickly fell into a meditation on mortality that led to my getting the horrors when I painted them. Cannot escape the figure because painting is a means of dragging out things about own existence from my mind and making them ‘real’ in front of me, and hoping for validation from other people.’ – says Charles William.

Image of the still lives convey a meaning, even if it sidesteps the visual/tactical one of texture and shadow. By default, almost, Williams’ objects are objectified, showing us the notion of a person or a political idea, or a memento mori.” 

7. Campoli Presti – Jutta Koether ‘Best of Studios’

”Work deconstructs the distinction between copy and original. Paintings open a broader discursive space through the incorporation of performance and the appropriation of art historical subjects and positions. Best of Studios, Koether reframes the position of painting as a resistant body whose experimental character addresses the digital condition in which painting operates.

Through insisting, noisy techniques of applying paint in deliberated zones, Koether penetrates into the historical organization of painting’s different fields of passage.”

Short talk from Cora Muennich – Galleryist about the work of the artist and her personal experience as a galleryist.

8. Laura Bartlett – Sol Calero ‘Solo Pintura’

”Solo Pintura = 10 new works by Venezuelan artist, which investigate issues of nationality and identity construction – themes at the core of her practice.

Embracing the style and pictorial vocabulary of a culture misrepresented, paintings are rich in topicalia – bursting with fruits, plaints and ‘exotica’ – restrained only by the hand painted frames that contain them. Vibrant colours spool from canvas to wall, as Calero connects areas of the gallery by painting the walls in pastel shades of green, yellow, pink and peach. Paintings function within them to bring a sense of the domestic just as now they evoke an inside/outside dichotomy.

Calero uses pictorial repeats to mimic tiled floors, wallpapers, blinds and vases – creating at once, an interior and exterior environment. Work display an architectural awareness, as the corners of walls meet floors, tables and windows but any symmetry is lost to the intrusion of abrupt patterns and broken borders that steer the works towards abstraction. Surface accentuated in larger works by inclusion of small mosaic tiles bringing a new texture to the paintings. Message is bright and persistent: there are layers to these works, as there are to an individual and a nation.”

9. Maureen Gallace – Maureen Pall

”Group of new paintings Gallace has selected depict carefully adjusted visions of the houses and landscapes that she has visited and reimagined as a subject over many years. Focusing her attention on specific aspects of the weather, the beach shore, architectural details and plants that grow in these areas – Gallace’s oil paintings are realized with wet-on-wet brushwork into formal compositions and completed on small wooden panels.”

Whitechapel Gallery

For Week 6, I signed up for 2 gallery trips in London. The first trip was to the Whitechapel Gallery on the 2nd of November.The Whitechapel Gallery is a public art gallery opened in 1901 as one of the first publicly funded galleries for temporary exhibitions in London. Our visit was mainly focused on the exhibition by the Guerrilla Girls, alongside other exhibitions at the gallery.

Guerrilla Girls‘Is it even worse in Europe?’

The Guerrilla Girls’ exhibition is the first in Europe, commissioned by the Whitechapel Gallery. In this exhibition, diversity in European art organisations is explored. It presents responses to questionnaires sent to 383 directors about their exhibitions programme and collections.

After looking at the eye-opening statistics presented in the exhibition, we discussed our thoughts on it. I found this discussion quite interesting because I found that it showed a quite a varied response to the exhibition. While some people felt that it could be empowering and could lead to improvement, a lot of people also felt it was quite a discouraging exhibition to women and minorities in general in particular as it exposed the sad reality of representation in the art world. I felt that I could resonate with both of these feelings. I find that the carrying out of this research is especially important for the museums involved, as having to face the facts so publicly I feel is a very effective way for these art institutions to work on the lack of representation as they will generally want to do everything to uphold a good reputation. On the other hand, it did make me realize and feel intimidated by the realities of being a successful artist as a woman and an ethnic minority in this time.

Samson Kambalu – ‘Introduction to Nyau Cinema’

 

The second exhibition we saw was Samson Kambalu’s Introduction to Nyau cinema. In this exhibition, London-based artist draws inspiration from early cinema and watching films as a child in Malawi. Flickering images, appropriated footage, improvised projections, unexpected power cuts and a lively audience made every screening a joyful live event, one that also made visible the mechanics of film.

Barjeel Art Foundation Collective – Imperfect Chronology – Mapping the Contemporary II’

The display Imperfect Chronology: Mapping the Contemporary II focuses on the theme of mapping geographies, examining the notion of statehood and exploring how artists engage with the rapidly expanding cities of the Arab region. This is the final display in four part year-long series at the Whitechapel Gallery.

Alicja Kwade – ‘Medium Median’

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The final exhibition we saw was a commission work by Alicja Kwade, which explores our relationship with time and space. ‘A 21st century mobile, featuring twenty-four electronic star charts, revolves at the centre of the installation. Slowly orbiting each other in a three-dimensional composition, the devices evoke kinetic sculpture and occasionally align in the formation of the constellation Cassiopeia.

As the sky charts receive information from GPS satellites showing the current locations of stars, they also vocalise in unison a reading of passages from Genesis. Directly connected to the universe, the screens become windows into a starry Milky Way, positioning the viewer at the centre.

Surrounding the mobile, Kwade (b.1979, Katowice, Poland) has placed several large bronze casts reminiscent of Modernist sculpture. Their biomorphic shapes are echoed in the artist’s projection of an ambiguous mass rotating in a black void.’