Archives for posts with tag: Francis Alys

Thinking in shapes.

Across RCA is a great scheme where students get to do something completely different for a week.

I went to the Princes School of Traditional Arts and joined the current talented MA students for lessons in geometry and biomorphic patterns.

1411 geometry class 2

We made platonic solids from sticks and thin card.

1411 Geometry class

Geo = earth, metry = measure.

Having recently read Raymond Williams ‘People of the Black Mountains’ which tells stories of a burgeoning civilization spanning thousands of years it was interesting to connect the theories of the early measurers in his book with what I was learning, to think about this knowledge in terms of history.

The teaching was very much from a spiritual perspective, highlighting the balance and harmony in the universe present in mathematical relationships.

I found these ideas quite relevant to the ways I have been thinking about my work. I am thinking of introducing pattern into my work and I want the shapes to have meaning, to be from the very structures that the world is built from. If I am searching for paradise in the everyday then looking at the construction of the universe seems a good place to start.

Heaven and earth linked by consciousness.

1411 gallerie Nadine Feront (1)

This painting, done using a brush with just a single hair, makes me think of stone circles.

Writing this blog helps me pin my thoughts down. To pause and consider what I have recently seen or read or discovered feeds my practice.

Coming back to think about the history of clearing our space in the forest.

Building – burial – marriage – ancestors – (wild men)

The forest as dark, dangerous and profane as opposed to enchanted, sacred, shelter.

I haven’t made this work yet.

This year the RCA Printmaking study trip was to Belgium.

We visited Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven at her studio in Antwerp.

Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven

Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven

Her interests are in the intertwining of the female body, mysticism and technology.

Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven

Anne-Mie Van Kerckhoven

She believes she could almost be a reincarnation of the mystic Marguerite Porete in that she shares so many mutual concerns.

Porete was executed for heresy as a result of her poetic mysticism in  Le Miroir des âmes simples anéanties (The Mirror of the Simple Souls Who Are Annihilated and Remain Only in Will and Desire of Love) which lists seven stages of annihilation of the soul necessary to become one with God which fell foul of current Christian thinking.

Again the mirror.

We visited Museum Plantin Moretus home of the oldest printing presses in the world.

1411 Museum Plantin Moretus (1)

The current exhibition was Dissected Anatomy

1411 Museum Plantin Moretus 3

The sphere is a symbol of unity and completeness

1411 Museum Plantin Moretus 2

I have asked my optician for the scan images of my eye to use in my work

1411 eye

Always searching.

We visited M HKA Museum of Modern Art Antwerp

There were beautiful evocative photographs taken in Moscow’s Museum of Natural History by Russian artist Olga Chernysheva. The illumination of the light boxes emphasized the illumination of the museum display cases within, making the images ethereal and other worldly.

Olga Chernysheva Cactus Seller 2009

Olga Chernysheva Cactus Seller 2009

Social realism. Hans Eijkelboom set himself very clear rules about what he would photograph each day.

Hans Eijkelboom Fotonotities  (1992 - 2007)

Hans Eijkelboom Fotonotities (1992 – 2007)

From the swarming figures on the streets he picks out the individual and then places them back in the group setting up taxonomies and cultural relationships

Hans Eijkelboom Fotonotities

Hans Eijkelboom Fotonotities

Faith and hope – the fulfilment of desire must never happen – it must always be in the future

Francis Alys When Faith Moves Mountains: Lima, Peru

Francis Alys When Faith Moves Mountains: Lima, Peru

We had a trip to La Centre de la Gravure et de l’Image Imprimee in Louviere. A soulless print archive in a soulless place.

Like a crematorium built for function on the outskirts of town, it seemed displaced from locality and devoid of the spirituality of the temple or shrine. An archive seems a sad place somehow.

The theory is, it’s only a resting place.

1411 first proof chapel

First proof of soft ground etching – Chapel of Rest

Wiels Contemporary Art Centre had a big retrospective of Mark Leckey with the wonderful title –  Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials

There was a new interpretation of the Universal Addressability of Dumb Things. This time the material icons had been 3D printed. The status of the object has been questioned throughout the various incarnations of this exhibition. Where does the aura lie?

Mark Leckey Lending Enchantment to Vulgar Materials

Mark Leckey

Ana Torfs ‘Echolalia’ exhibition also at Wiels Contemporary Art Centre was tantalising for me. It contained research and imagery that I am drawn to yet the presentation of so much factual text alongside turned it into something a bit dry.

Ana Torfs

Ana Torfs

The installation piece ‘The Parrot and the Nightingale, a Phantasmagoria’ worked well

and I liked the vignette images of islands like the view through a telescope but the text was intrusive

Ana Torfs

Ana Torfs

I can understand why you might want to include all your research, she talks about an archaeology of knowledge

Ana Torfs

Ana Torfs

I have a similar problem, I am grappling with how to make known my research and narrative in my own work

It’s hard to make it evident in the image but I don’t think it matters that everything should be disclosed, ideas should be sparked and then threads can be followed that may lead elsewhere even.

French artist Emmanuelle Laine at c-o-m-p-o-s-i-t-e gallery in Brussels had made a colourful intervention creating a sculpture on site that she then photographed and repeated around the gallery walls. She has found a way to include her research and incidental thoughts in her work, her tools both for process and inspiration are left scattered around the space in evidence

Emmanuelle Laine

Emmanuelle Laine

The traces of construction and thought processes are not discarded or hidden – the sculpture becomes an exploded view of the artists brain during the creative process

Emmanuelle Laine

Emmanuelle Laine

Great to see some more video work of Philippa Kuligowski at New Sensations.

She has a wonderful way of collaging imagery and media in original ways to create engaging magical narratives.

Philippa Kuligowski The Plover and the Crocodile

Philippa Kuligowski The Plover and the Crocodile

The Plover and the Crocodile link to film

Other work I liked also at New Sensations –

Vivien Zhang Porcupine Hair

Vivien Zhang Porcupine Hair

Nicholas Johnson Mildew Swoosh

Nicholas Johnson Mildew Swoosh

Felicity Hammond Restore to Factory Settings

Felicity Hammond Restore to Factory Settings

 

Ben Woodeson  That Bit From the Omen, Yes That Bit

Ben Woodeson That Bit From The Omen, Yes That Bit

I haven’t seen The Omen so I don’t know that bit.

I am looking at invisible planes made visible, the threat of collapse and the possibility of violence.

The new media animation by Charles Richardson was intriguing. It was not a hologram. The figure turned and writhed out of the screen in 3D but no glasses were  involved –  it was like a ghost had entered the room  – it was uncanny

Charles Richardson Rehearsal

Charles Richardson Rehearsal

In an inspiring lecture Esther Teichmann made suggestions of work to check out including Marie Darrieussecq ‘My Phantom Husband’, Claire Denis ‘Beau Travail’ and Janet Cardiff and George Bures Millar ‘Blue Hawaii Bar’ link here – Searching for the light in an evocative installation in a Victorian water reservoir.

All the time I thought I was looking at landscape but maybe I was looking for what was held within the landscape. The nooks and crannies where the myths hide.

 

 

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These tiny dogs, examples of Victorian taxidermy, were on display at Hall Place in Bexley, Kent.

There is something so appealing about the miniature, but it questions our expectations when scale is distorted beyond what feels natural.

1309 Victorian Taxidermy (1)

Although there were attempts by the Victorians to breed such minute specimens these particular ones are fakes. An X-ray proves a lack of skeleton.

VictorianTaxidermy

VictorianTaxidermy

These strange little creatures were an appropriate taster for the exhibition ‘Beastly Hall’, inspired by the resident  topiary of the Queen’s Beasts.

The Queen's Beasts

The Queen’s Beasts

Originally carved in stone to commemorate the Queen’s coronation in 1953, these living sentinels are based on real and mythical creatures.

Artists had been selected for the exhibition who explored all aspects of what might be considered something ‘beastly’.

HyungKoo Lee works in reverse to the Victorian taxidermist – he creates a fake skeleton.

Hyungkoo Lee 'Ridicularis'

Hyungkoo Lee ‘Ridicularis’

Transporting Goofy from popular culture to natural history.

Carsten Holler’s Red Walrus has a cartoon appearance with its plasticised body and unnatural colouring.

Carsten Holler 'Red Walrus'

Carsten Holler ‘Red Walrus’

It has however been given human eyes which gaze out from within a fabricated world.

Joana Vasconcelos takes a kitsch ornament and adds another skin, a layer of decoration.

Joana Vasconcelos 'Flibbertigibbet'

Joana Vasconcelos ‘Flibbertigibbet’

We were told when we got our cat – it is not an ornament, don’t expect it to behave like one.

Thomas Grunfeld has created a whole series of ‘Misfits’ through mixing species.

1309 Thomas Grunfeld 2

Thomas Grunfeld ‘Misfits’

Questioning our manipulation of nature.

1309 Thomas Grunfeld 1

Thomas Grunfeld ‘Misfits’

Creating a modern mythology.

Thomas Grunfeld 'Misfits'

Thomas Grunfeld ‘Misfits’

Exploring the fear of genetic engineering and what it might create.

Polly Morgan doesn’t always deal in horror but in ‘Blue Fever’ the melding together of so many bodies through a thrashing of wings creates something disturbing.

Polly Morgan 'Blue Fever'

Polly Morgan ‘Blue Fever’

An entity that cannot breathe, suspended in continuous flight with no escape.

Tessa Farmer explores flesh under attack.

Tessa Farmer 'A wounded Herring Gull'

Tessa Farmer ‘A wounded Herring Gull’

Her trademark tiny skeletons in league with the insect world bring down a much larger life force.

Tessa Farmer

Tessa Farmer

Claire Morgan’s installation of blue bottles suspended in flight creates  a geometric order from an association of disgust, germs and disease.

Claire Morgan 'Heart of Darkness'

Claire Morgan ‘Heart of Darkness’

Damien Hirst puts the visceral into the kitsch.

Damien Hirst 'Sacred Heart (with hope)'

Damien Hirst ‘Sacred Heart (with hope)’

Hope and treachery are preserved in perpetual limbo.

I really liked Rachel Goodyear’s delicate drawings of spirits escaping earthly vessels.

Rachel Goodyear

Rachel Goodyear

Her drawings incorporate 3D paper cuts which flow out from and off the page.

Rachel Goodyear

Rachel Goodyear

Her organic ceramic pieces hold strange images, transitory moments like worrisome memories best tucked away.

Rachel Goodyear 'curling up into more comfortable positions'

Rachel Goodyear ‘curling up into more comfortable positions’

The spiritual theme is continued with Jodie Carey’s funeral flowers bleached of colour.

Jodie Carey

Jodie Carey

These flowers are made of plaster, chiffon and ground up bone,

Throughout the exhibition there is the uplifting sound of birdsong.

It comes from Matt Collishaw’s truncated tree trunks where LP’s mimicking the age rings of trees spin and fill the space with the sounds of woodland.

Matt Collishaw 'Total Recall'

Matt Collishaw ‘Total Recall’

The birds recorded are actually mimicking chain saws. With this knowledge the jolly suddenly becomes sinister.

Susie MacMurray filled a room with peacock feathers echoing the crowds drawn to watch the spectacle of the coronation.

Susie MacMurray 'Spectacle'

Susie MacMurray ‘Spectacle’

These fragile remains of the male peacocks display act as an unexpected barrier.

Susie MacMurray 'Spectacle'

Susie MacMurray ‘Spectacle’

The idea of the voyeur is further expressed by Francis Alys in his footage of a fox let loose in The National Portrait Gallery.

Francis Alys 'The Nightwatch'

Francis Alys ‘The Nightwatch’

Trapped and confined to relentless meanderings the fox is exposed to the sort of CCTV surveillance that we are subject to as we traverse the city while similarly unaware of our voyeurs.

Peter Blake’s ‘Tarzan Box’ from 1965 expresses a clash of cultures and clichéd fears of what the exotic might hold.

Peter Blake 'Tarzan Box'

Peter Blake ‘Tarzan Box’

The exploration of dark spaces could reveal fantastical creatures of horror.

Charles Avery 'Duculi (The Indescribable)'

Charles Avery ‘Duculi (The Indescribable)’

There were also lots of artists showing at the Venice Biennale who engage in fantasy and myth.

Levi Fisher Ames sculpted his fantastical creatures in wood and displayed them as specimens in glass cases.

Levi Fisher Ames

Levi Fisher Ames

‘Animals Wild and Tame – Whittled Out of Wood – Nothing Like It Shown Anywhere’

Levi Fisher Ames

Levi Fisher Ames

Ames took his collection on tour around Wisconsin in the 1880’s telling outlandish tales about his creatures to his audience while simultaneously  carving more figures.

Severely autistic Shinichi Sawada has created a very personal mythology with his clay figures.

Shinichi Sawada

Shinichi Sawada

These beasts look like they come from a ritualistic and totemic past, but are recent creations, combining spiky defence in a fragile form.

Domenico Gnoli’s beasts also ‘hail from a vast storehouse in the human imagination’.

Domenico Gnoli

Domenico Gnoli

His series of drawings ‘What is a Monster’ from 1967 place surrealist creatures into everyday settings.

Anna Zemankova is growing flowers that are not grown anywhere else.

Anna Zemankova

Anna Zemankova

Produced during frantic early morning reveries she allowed her mind to flow freely recalling cultural influences entwined in her fantasies.

Ivan Morison also loves to create myths. His talk at the Whitechapel Gallery was peppered with stories of the fantastical, almost believable sort. Is there really a village in Italy that strings goats up from a tree and shoots at them? Was the world’s biggest dinosaur really the victim of arson?    Storytelling is part of the work and has been formalised in the traveling puppet theatre of Mr Clevver, based on a character from the post-apocalyptic novel, Riddley Walker by Russell Hoban.

Heather and Ivan Morrison

Heather and Ivan Morrison

Another of the Morrison’s escape vehicles. They travel through rural landscapes setting up camp unannounced and putting on a show to whichever locals turn up..

Heather and Ivan Morrison

Heather and Ivan Morrison

Telling stories that blend factual recall with fiction, merging information into a narrative that builds on the mythology of their own lives and also the lives of people they encounter.
Out of its time, part medieval part futuristic, Mr Clevver is an evolving work about the coming together of different people in differing places.

'Mr Clevver' Ivan and Heather Morrison

‘Mr Clevver’ Ivan and Heather Morrison

Kay Harwood showing at Simon Oldfield Gallery also deals in mystery and suggestion.

Kay Harwood

Kay Harwood

Exploring iconography and mythology her paintings have a wonderful pure surface, like porcelain. The muted and restricted palette gives a timeless quality.

Kay Harwood

Kay Harwood

These men look like contemporary apostles in meditation on some spiritual truth.

The quest for inner retrospection. A solitary wanderer.

I wanted to capture something of an enchanted wood in these images.

These are screen prints with sublimation inks transferred onto polyester. I printed 3 layers separately onto paper and then heat-pressed them on top of each other blending the colours.

1309 woods

Layering the shadow of a rose garden on organza over the grey woods.
I have been thinking about whether to add a figure in the woods.

Also have been working on one ‘return of the forest ‘ collagraph, cutting sublimation printed organza onto the collagraph.

The forests disappeared under the advancing ice and then reappeared as the ice retreated.

Going back to a time before civilization, before religion. Right back to the beginning to see where the first dislocation took place, looking back for the myth of living in harmony with nature in some idyllic context and the start of nostalgia.

1309 return of the forest

Thinking about fantastical creatures and myth has been helpful for the new work I am planning about beasts of the forest.