Andy Warhol and Eduardo Paolozzi in Edinburgh (Scottish gallery of modern art, February, 2019)

The ‘i want to be a machine’ exhibition was a not so subtle jibe at Warhol’s notoriety in that almost everything Warhol is now famous for had clearly been previously created by Edinburgh’s own Paolozzi. There were lots of warhol’s bright screen prints and repeated iconic images, preceded by Paolozzi’s machine like posters, but the stellar exhibits in the show were Paolozzi’s sculptures which are unlike anything anybody else does. Why compare him to Warhol, I wondered, when he does his own thing so well? I suppose Warhol brings in the crowds, but its Paolozzi who captures their imagination once they are there.

Anni Albers at Tate Modern

Anni Albers work and life are both extraordinary. She swiftly emigrated to the USA with her husband Josef after the Nazis closed down the Bauhaus in Berlin 1933, (the Nazis were opposed to contemporary art movements). They went to teach at Black mountain college in North Carolina. At the Bauhaus Albers had been restricted to working with textiles as a woman, but she took weaving to new modernist heights and painted with her pictorial textiles…

This exhibition was quiet, thoughtful and understated, rather as I imagine Anni Albers would have been. It was also extraordinary and compelling. Once in the USA, Albers became fascinated by indigenous Mexican and Peruvian weavings which informed many of her subsequent designs.

The six long tapestry weavings by her (below) were beautiful silver/gold and dark woven designs for a New York synagogue, called the six prayers, that she made in the 1950s, although, as she said, she was only Jewish in the Hitler sense (ie: by heritage).

Indigenous Mexican weavings…

Informing colourful modernist tapestries…

?RWA open drawing?

I foolishly did not take down the name of the artist who made the fifth work that blew me away at the RWA open, which was a large, textural print/drawing evoking a cliff-like landscape. Who made this? I found it haunting and compelling. It evoked my own oil/coldwax and ink drawings of the Pembrokeshire cliffs, but I don’t think it was made from cold wax, it had a print-like texture, although the surface seemed scraped and scoured in the same way. I stood in front of this work for ages. I wish I knew who made it!

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visiting RWA open, November 2018

I visited this year’s RWA open last week. Having got over my sulk that they did not hang my work.

It was the usual crammed in hotch-potch jumble sale- a curatorial style that I rather like. There were four stand-out works for me: two paintings from Ian Biggs; a large painting from Dan Hurst and a huge self-portrait charcoal drawing from Anita Taylor:

visiting Hauser and Wirth in Somerset

It is a strange phenomenon, Hauser and Wirth in Somerset. if you link up to the Hauser and Wirth website you begin to get how strange it is- you can click on to any of their galleries- Zurich/Shanghai/Hongkong/London/New York…. and Bruton, Somerset. Eh?

And yet here it sits …. in magnificently landscaped grounds, in the heart of rolling, rural Somerset, in a beautifully restored and extended medieval farm and barn (designed by Parisian architects) …. lurks a large contemporary art centre: a shrine in renovated stone work, polished concrete, wood and glass.

Hauser and Wirth are one of the most successful contemporary commercial art dealers in the world. And yet they have chosen this small Somerset village setting for this beautiful exhibition/education space. Hauser and Wirth are a married couple of art dealers from Zurich whose children attend a school near Bruton….where they have opened this enchanting space. Extraordinary.

We went there on October 29th, which was the annual pumpkin festival. A strange local/international experience. Externally we were surrounded by pumpkins and people under ten years old with squeally voices. Inside we were enclosed in silence, renovated stonework, cool polished concrete and a very grown-up, urban-meets-rural atmosphere. We went to see the exhibition ‘ Stages and Tales’ by Dutch artist Berlinde de Bruckyere: a series of wall-mounted sculptural forms made from old blankets draped over frames. The forms hint at austerity/homelessness/sleeping rough and the decaying state of the western world and its societies. In a beautifully maintained gallery like this the effect was eerie and quite sickly. The artist had cured the works by rotting the blankets out in her studio courtyard over months. I found them oppressive, It was like stepping into a fairytale by the brother’s Grimm. society rotting amidst the polished concrete world of high art. It was quite terrifying. Surely they would have realised the impact of these pieces in the context? Surely that was half the point?

stages and tales…

stages and tales…

this is tomorrow…

this is tomorrow…