start small – Gerhard Richter

Gerhard Richter works across a wide variety of textures and formats: painting over photographs, painting from photographs but blurring, mirrors, versions of a major Titian painting…… where do you even begin?

On what basis do you choose your format?
I choose depending on the way I feel; randomly, in other words. When I haven’t done anything for a long time, I always start small, on paper.

Interview with Anna Tilroe, 1987 SOURCE
If you would like to see where Gerhard Richter went from his small beginnings with new themes and styles – see a 7 minute video of a gigantic exhibition of his works through his life, put together by the curator Hans Ulrich Obrist – equally as famous in his own line of work as the artist.
Screen shot 2018-03-01 at 13.17.51

Because Hans Ulrich Obrist is such an amazing curator, working together with the living artist, Richter – they have made an exhibition which is the best of both their work – the gathering together of series (currently broken apart, sold and living in separate parts of the world) – and Richter requesting that there be an added unexpected counterpoint on one part-wall, sometimes making a new piece specifically for that.  So you have the best of the old together with an added spice of something new.

There are even mirrors at the beginning and end of the exhibition – so that, as Obrist comments, the viewer becomes part of the exhibition.

Interestingly, as we see how Richter takes a classic painting, paints it blurred and draws interest from painting blurred photographs…. as I paused the video, I noticed that the curator himself becomes blurred in a mysterious way – see his hands in movement.


Cartoons Exhibition: at the Oxymoron Museum with John Atkinson

Always one to darken the door of an art exhibition, and having curated two myself, this diagram, spotted on Twitter this morning, made me laugh.  Delightful.

Plan of Oxymoron Museum

categories of display at the Oxymoron Museum   https://wronghands1.com/

John Atkinson, drawer of this cartoon, has his work exhibited in Time Magazine.  There’s a reason: it’s clever, perceptive and give you a smile or roar with laughter.  (Which, after all, is what we want from a cartoon).

You can follow John’s work at his website Wrong Hands.

Here are a few more gems:


Exhibition/Film Cezanne : “I will tell you the truth in painting”

Both Pablo Picasso and Henri Matisse acknowledge Cezanne: “He was the father of us all”.  Take a walk through a current exhibition of portraits painted by Cezanne with the curator, John Elderfield and English art critic Alistair Sooke – and see what they mean.

Paul Cezanne (unlike almost all the other French Impressionists) was a man of independent means – he inherited sufficient money from his banker father to be able to paint what he liked – and he devoted his life to his work.  He didn’t take commissions to paint portraits because, as John Elderfield says, Paul was too brusquely honest to flatter a sitter; he was concerned with truth, honesty, authenticity.

The exhibition is currently running at the National Portrait Gallery, London – until 11th February –  but if you can’t get to it, there is a handy live tie-in with the exhibition on cinema, opening in UK cinemas, this Tuesday, 23rd January.

I went to see a similar exhibition/film (on Matisse’s cut-outs) and it was like being in a comfortable armchair, wheeled smoothly around the show, and with no one standing in your way.  (Whereas, when you go to see a blockbuster show, there are inevitably a roomful of other strangers keen on looking up close to the paintwork – whom you have to wait and dodge around, all the time harried by the awareness that there’s someone else waiting for you to move away so that they can get their turn at the picture).

Here is the trailer for the Cezanne exhibition film:


“A Fine Line” – 4 artists’ exhibition, Edinburgh

City Art Centre, Edinburgh have a current exhibition curated by printmaker Angie Lewin and Lizzie Farey (willow weaver) who invited ceramicist Frances Priest and artist/printmaker Bronwen Sleigh to exhibit also.  (The exhibition runs until 18th February).


“In Conversation” (L-r) Amanda Game, Frances Priest, Angie Lewin, Bronwen Sleigh, Lizzie Farey

It was an absolute pleasure to be with them yesterday, at their “In Conversation” discussion, chaired by Amanda Game (independent curator and producer), and to hear them speaking about the process of making art and an exhibition together.  The talk was facilitated with warmth by curator Maeve Toal.

The exhibition took 3 to 4 years to put together but was a really pleasant collaboration.  The generous size of the exhibition space was a bonus, encouraging all the artists to work on a larger scale than usual.  They also agreed on the process of pattern as important to their work, although they work in very different disciplines.  There were also surprising associations, such as the ceramics tiles by Frances, likely to be used on a wall – and the architectural drawings by Bronwen.


Poetry Installation in rural Big House location

Beneath The Boughs was a poetry installation created in the grounds of ruined Lowther Castle in 2013. Featuring contemporary poetry by writers from Cumbria to Singapore, the installation was funded by Arts Council England.

An [insert text here] project. Concept by Katie Hale.

More about [insert text here] and Beneath The Boughs here: https://guerrillapoem.wordpress.com/

Review: A new era: Scottish Modern Art 1900-1950 (curator’s talk)

Today, at lunchtime, Alice Strang, Senior Curator at the National Gallery Modern (Edinburgh) gave an introductory talk on her newest exhibition: A new era: Scottish Modern Art 1900-1950.

The thesis of the exhibition is that Scottish artists were responding to the modern influences of European painting fast, through their own work and through courageous and daring exhibitions by SSA and RSA – responding much faster than heretofore thought, and often speedier than their English counterparts.

Samuel John Peploe "Tulips and fruit"

Talk on A New era: Scottish Modern Art 1900-1950

Beginning with the Scottish Colourists, Alice Strang pointed out that when J D Fergusson moved to Paris in 1907, his painting immediately changed – particularly his colour palette.  He was influenced by painters such as Picasso, whom he met and whose work he saw.  Fergusson was a link for other Scottish painting friends to also come across to Paris and see the new exciting ways of painting for themselves.

In displaying the above slide of Samuel John Peploe, 1912, “Tulips and Fruit” Alice Strang pointed out the influence of the lines filling in the coloured areas in the painting – like Van Gogh, whose work Peploe would have seen.  (I also felt that the strong lines were like woodblock lines within a print).

The Futurists were an influence on Scottish artists, with Stanley Cursiter seeing the first exhibition of Futurist paintings in the UK, in London – and choosing to exhibit two of them, alongside his own painting in the 1913 SSA exhibition.  We were given an opportunity to see the delightful play of light and fragmented viewings so beloved of Cubism, in his picture “Rain on Princes Street”.  (It was especially appropriate to be viewing this within a stone’s throw of Princes Street itself.)

Stanley cursitor

Stanley Cursiter – talk slide – “Rain on Princes Street”

As well as showing how Modernist art movements in France affected styles of painting and sculpture, we were shown how the paintings themselves reflected real places (in Edinburgh) by studying a photograph of a particular street location at the time, then flipping on to the next slide to show the painting of the same location.

Radical Edinburgh

Among the interesting evidences for Scotland being more advanced in its art than previously thought, Alice revealed that the first Edvard Munch exhibition in the UK took place in Edinburgh, in 1931.  In this decade, Edinburgh was awash with educators invested in forwarding new and exciting art styles: Hubert Wellington (Principal of Edinburgh College of Art), Herbert Read (Art Historian and Professor of the Fine Arts at Edinburgh University, 1931-33), and Stanley Cursitor (who was Director of the National Galleries).

Among the many artists featured in the exhibition are names I’ll need to investigate further, I was busy scribbling them down: James Nigel Mcisaac, Tom Pow (inspired by Braque), Thomas W Whalen, William Crosbie, William CrozierWilliam Johnstone, Keith Henderson, Benno Schotz in sculpture and sisters Anna and Doris Zinkeisen.

The one hour talk was generously jampacked with references, intriguing digital slides and local information from the curator as to the size of the actual artworks in comparison to the size they displayed on the screen.  As a starter, it definitely left you wanting more, and I look forward to exploring the exhibition itself, soon.

IMG_3963Funnily enough, with a touch of the sublime to the ridiculous, as I emerged from the dark interior of the Hawthornden Lecture room, right in front, through the glass windows was a view of the funfair which has sprung up in Edinburgh for the duration of the Christmas holidays: a bold yellow and red helter-skelter.  I have a sneaky feeling that the modern artists we’d been hearing about would have loved this circus-like brashness, juxtaposition, colour and movement.


And a final note of how life meets art – I was meeting a friend immediately after the lecture, in the Portrait Gallery.  While we were talking, my eye kept wandering to one portrait on the wall of the dining-room.  In writing up this blog post, I’ve just discovered its likely to be this portrait by the painter…. McIsaac, one of my new names to investigate!




Moonshine, Dreamworks, animator, painter

What art do animation artists love to make?

Just today, came across this lovely little video about the art which Dreamworks animation artists make in their private life – and an exhibition of it – great variations in styles and materials.  The cherry on the cake, for me, is an endearing comment at the very end from Jeffrey Katzenberg that he’d love to live among the art on the 3rd floor of  the Musee D’Orsay m, Paris (the Impressionists).  My feeling exactly, when I first encountered it, I practically had to be prised away with crowbars.  And I had to revisit the next day.  Hands up anyone else who had the same reaction?

After watching this, it is clear that animation artists are indeed fine artists – and they love to paint and draw.  All the time.  Even while waiting in a queue for something too mundane to mention.  Keenness and enthusiasm is right there.  One painter even dislikes selling her art to someone unless she knows the purchaser, she feels such a personal bond with her pictures.

Huge talent quietly shown here by: Sam Michalp, Nicholas Weis, Griselda Sastrawinata, Christian Schellewald, Paul Duncan, Marcos Mateu, Nathan Fowkes.

The book itself will be featured in my next blog post.