exhibition

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!

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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.

 

Exhibition: Ages of Wonder, Royal Scottish Academy, Edinburgh

The phrase “embarrassment of riches” could have been invented to describe the current exhibition at the RSA, Edinburgh, of “Ages of Wonder”.  Around 450 works of art, collected in lifetime of the Academy, earliest work dating from 1540 up to the present day.

In this brief video (by the Edinburgh Reporter) you see Sandy Wood, co-curator of the exhibition with the Academy’s President, Arthur Watson.

Careful, Sandy!  Right at the start, we see him taking down a picture by Arthur Gillies – while right below it is a painting by my favourite artist, Anne Redpath. A heart-stopping moment for me – but of course he does it safely.

The exhibition continues until 7th January, at Royal Scottish Academy, The Mound, EH2 2EL.  Or to put it in a way more useful to humans than Sat Nav, around the middle of Princes Street, the big mock Greek temple building.

And it’s free.

A sight for the ears – exhibition tie-in

Edinburgh, Scotland: Last night, I was at the book launch of a pamphlet book of poetry “Seen/Unseen” written in response to the artworks in an exhibition “Hidden Gems” at the City Art Centre, Edinburgh.

There was a brilliant turnout, in part due to the fact that there were 30 poets involved and most of them were there to read their poems.  Kate Hastie mc-ed the event, having curated the book and the writers – all like herself drawn from the Scottish Graduate School for Arts & Humanities.  Or, to put it another way, many doing Masters and PhDs in Literature or Writing.  And to put it another way, rather likely to be our next generation of published professional writers.

The poets were responding to artworks such as the picture and sculpture shown (photos from City Art Centre website)

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David Bomberg (1890-1957) current Exhibition

David Bomberg currently has an exhibition at Pallant House, Chichester until 4 February 2018.  It then reopens at Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle-upon-Tyne  (17 February -27 May) before going on to the Ben Uri Gallery and Museum, London NW8 in the summer of 2018.  Bomberg drew and painted in a variety of styles throughout his life:

It’s difficult to believe that these pictures were all made by the same man.  But David Bomberg (1890-1957) is a vital artist, who didn’t stay in the same painting style – or indeed the same place – travelling from poverty in London to the First World War, to Jerusalem, to Spain, to London then Spain again.  Once again, we are looking at that period through and just after World War One, a hundred years ago, when so many writers and painter’s lives changes forever.

There’s a very clear and interesting brief 3 minutes video introduction to David Bomberg’s life and work by the curator of the current show, Rachel Dickson and Sarah MacDougall:

And for those who are seriously interested in finding out more, art historian Andrew Graham-Dixon has made a compelling one-hour documentary on the artist.  We learn of his connection with Sir John Singer Sargent, Sickert, The Slade School of Art and how Bomberg himself became an art tutor and affected the thinking and practice of the next generation of art-makers.  This programme is currently available to view if you live in Britain (and pay a TV licence fee) on BBC i-player here.  The title for the programme is: “David Bomberg: prophet in No Man’s Land”.  If outside the UK, sometimes you may find copies of BBC arts programmes uploaded to Youtube.

 

Creative Takeaways

If you are a visual artist, look at Bomberg’s pictures, and pick one style very different from your own – try it!

 

The art of writing about art – a cure for writer’s block

This weekend past, I was shown a beautiful and enjoyable way to start new writing – with a beneficial side effect of getting rid of writer’s block: begin by responding to a picture. The technical term for this is Ekphrasis – see previous blog post a year ago, here.  And for me, it is hugely enjoyable, and a promising way forward.

This weekend’s workshop was called “Hidden Gems Open Masterclass: Ekphrasis: the art of writing about art”, held in City Art Centre, Edinburgh and tutored by Kate Hastie.  We met to receive some practical guidelines on Ekphrasis – and then simply took the lift down, to select an artwork in the new exhibition in the basement, “Hidden Gems”, and write poem or prose lines about it.

“Every painting is a library of information”  – Kate Hastie

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I want to be exhibited! if only…..

Brooklyn Art Library keeps a collection of sketchbooks submitted by drawers/painters like yourself.  You, yes you.  They take them and exhibit them for you.  Yes, you.

Sign up by January 5th, 2018 for next year’s challenge.

Send a sum of money to get a sketchbook sent to you, fill it, return.

2018 themes to choose from are: Underwater, This is now that it seems, Textures, Lines and Graphics, Long stories with short endings, A Comic Book ending, Connections, People I wish I knew, No Worries, Tacos.

What does it even look like?

Here are a couple of books sent by one illustrator, Clare Hemingsley

who enjoyed it so much, she did the project challenge again the following year:

Looking for a challenge in 2018?  This could be it.

Fancy an unusual line on your artistic cv?

Just want someone to see what you make, because you think it’s actually good?

This could be IT.  Apply.