Thursday, 6 October 2016

Escape to Italy I

The Arrival

At that hour the small town was quiet on a Sunday, but it could have been any time and the streets would have been just as peaceful. Sundays are sacred to the Italians. I made my way down dim lit roads. It seemed as if everyone was sleeping. Only occasionally did I pass a comrade traveller or two, but they were heading out while I was heading in. The air was so humid that within moments of stepping outside one was dripping. Google maps lead me down a secret maze to the Pisa Central Treno. It was empty; I knew the last train to Florence was at 10:30pm so I had about 20 minutes to figure out where to catch it. I dragged my overly packed carry on through the platform tunnel to the 1st and 2nd where a sign directed me to get tickets. I trudged up the stairs thankfully, managing my bag well enough.

It was dead empty; I starred as the lone traveller in the lonely train station. Of course, with today’s technology I used a computer to book a ticket, not to Florence but to Firenze Central. I scanned the screen for the platform and as quickly as my bag would let me manage, I rushed back to the very last platform, from which I had come from to begin with, of course.

I felt as if I was melting and the cool air on the train was fanning me back to life. I had no idea if I was accidentally in first class or not, I didn’t care as I collapsed in an empty seat. I opened my bag of clothes bursting at the edges and proceeded to ditch my trainers and leggings. I found my little gold Melissa shoes and put them on. I repacked as best I could, shifting a few things around. I pulled out my DK Eyewitness Travel guide to Florence & Tuscany and my hard core Italian Phrase Book and started to devise a plan of attack for tomorrow, also reminding myself how to pronounce things in Italian.  

It was 5 minutes or so before the train was leaving and it exploded with people, as if I was seeing the bars let out after last call. Mostly youths in punk wear. Some young lovers rushing to get the seats they could cuddle on. Within a blink of an eye my empty train was full of chatter in languages I couldn’t quiet comprehend. The Politza did a quick walkthrough of the train and pulled some youths aside to have a discussion with them. Obviously they had to get off the train. We were off and I was entertained by people watching for a time while the ticket master worked his way down the isles stamping our oversize parchments. I at least was able to practice Grazie.

A little after an hour we poured out of the train. My fellow train posses disbursed in every direction. The Firenze Astation became a bigger yet similarly desolate place as the Pisa Central. When in doubt follow the crowd; this of course took me to the wrong exit, locals were waiting on rail cars and buses to get them home, this I knew was not an option for me. I retreated back up the stairs, the annoying voice in my head singing, “You’ve over-packed” every time I stepped up. To the left lead me to the ticket station and the outside had the taxi queue, “thanks my lucky stars”. Upon my turn I attempted to read the address. Then of course handed the poor man my phone, to which he said, “So not in Firenze,” at which my head cursed “Oh shit!”. The rational brain took over and said for me, “No in Florence outside of the city,” and here was my first lesson about taxis in Firenze. They DO NOT like to ever leave the city to those little places on the outside. But he begrudgingly took me to Caldine which is right next to Fiesole…  several small dark windy roads later, I arrived at Agriturismo Montereggi, thus started my Art Escape to Italy.

Wednesday, 21 May 2014

Emotion and Art

The TATE put out a question/statement today.

"A work of art which did not begin in emotion is not art" - Paul Cezanne. Do you agree?

This is a question I believe takes more than just a flippant answer of I agree or disagree. Emotion is always. You are always feeling something good or bad. Emotion is unavoidable, everything ever done comes from emotion, which makes the question above a moot point. 

When I start to create a painting, there is always an emotion. The trick is to be able to work through all your emotions. They might effect my colour choice, the strokes, the composition, but they are always there and they are always changing. 

I don't believe in the "artist turmoil". Yes. This is a strong and valid emotion, one that shouldn't be avoided or ignored, but to rely on it so completely in order to make great works of arts is a fool's errand. Creating art because something bad happens to you is art therapy.

There needs to be an idea behind your artwork. Maybe it can come from an emotion you had about one subject or another, but what happens when that emotion is gone? If you don't have knowledge, a process, an idea, then you have only the instantaneous reaction. While this reaction has it purpose it should not be the only thing driving your work. 

I don't think the answer is a simple as yes I agree, while in some ways I do. I also want to add that is not the only thing that should be starting the work of art. There needs to be intelligence and passion, so that no matter what mood you wake up in, you can still work towards your creation goals. So I am one upping Cezanne. Presumptuous I know, but " A work of art which did not begin with purpose and passion is not art." Blair Lamar

Monday, 22 October 2012

The Buzz in Bermondsey

There is a new 'Buzz in Bermondsey'. I was there to see the debut of the newest of Jay Jopling's White Cube Galleries. There was excitement in the air. Patch and I arrived 15 minutes before the opening and we found ourselves to be a part of a tremendous queue. There was slight pushing and shoving as people were trying to keep their spot in the line. Everyone around me was buzzing, wondering what will happen next. The security showed no favouritism. People were trying desperately to get in, stating they were press. "The press opening happened earlier, you will just have to wait for general entry." We were the third wave of people to get in and even then we had to wait in-front of the gallery doors before finally being able to enter the show. It was unlike any other gallery opening I had been to.

While in the gallery, there was a mix of people there. Some well known, such as Tracy Emin, Damien Hirst, Paul Freud, Grayson Perry, and so on, then there was the rest of us. The young artists looking at the older generation, seeing if the next genre in art had been declared by anyone, or if we still had a chance to rise to the occasion to break modern and post modernism. There were the fashionista dancing to a different beat from the rest of the fashionable trend wearers. All of them making their statements as they strolled from room to room. The business workers were there, the art lovers and collectors, and the curious from the streets who got lucky enough to somehow get in. All of us are there for the same reason to see what the artists have to throw at us next. We are looking for the next movement in art, to be shocked and mystified, to see the world splashed all over the canvas with a new truth about it. The question is were our searching hearts satisfied?

When looking at art work, I always remember my studies in Venice, Italy. Staring for hours at the Tintoretto, Caravaggio, and Titian. They were breathe taking. For a young painter it's heaven. One day while staring at a Titian, professor Michael Phillips came up behind me and said, "It makes you asks why paint?" The question shocked me. He was right I was thinking, "How can I ever paint that way?" That is always what I am looking for, a painting to make me stop and ask, "Why paint?" in some symbolic way. To tip my hat off to the artist that does it better or the best. To push me to slave more in my studio, trying to push my own work to be the best.

Art is alway objective, the way I see work is different than another. I found my fellow artists had mixed reviews on the show. Some loved it. I had to laugh when one spoke of a particular instillation "It looks like something you would get from IKEA." The space was amazing, the show was done well, except I would comment more on work I thought was astounding but the lack of labels on the walls was very frustrating. At least give me a number to reference to. I kind of drooled over the technique used in the Orozco painting.  Even Modrian would have been inspired by the use of lines, circles and gold leafing. Now I just need the contemporary jazz music to go with it.

All in all an exciting evening! I was impressed by the granger of it all, the space, the buzz, some of the art work. I can't say I loved every piece or that I have seen a break for a new genre in art. Which just leaves my fellow artist and I from Southwark Studios to continue with our practices trying to perfect our styles hoping to discover a new way to describe the world around us. In the mean time it is nice to have a lunch break spent walking around the White Cube, just minutes from us.

White Cube Bermondsey
Southwark Studios

Wednesday, 14 March 2012

Vegan Flash: Lessons from The Lorax

My Cousin wrote this. I have always loved this book. It's about taking care of the world. I think people in the city forget sometimes what the world was like before cars, and public transport. So heres a funny reminder, and a flash back for childhood for me. Dr Seuss helped make the, life loving laughing creative person I am today. Without him my imagination wouldn't have thought of green eggs and ham and fox in sox can and possibly exists in the world today.

Vegan Flash: Lessons from The Lorax: "Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better.  It's not" - The Lorax My son and I went to see The Lora...

Friday, 25 November 2011

Thought about artist statements

An artist statement is the truth about what you do and how you arrived there. You skip out more of the flowery language that you would write in a exert about a show. Although I am pretty sure most people try to lie about their work all the time to sound more impressive and to be mysterious about it.

Wednesday, 28 September 2011

Miro comes alive.

Recently Marko Daniel, Matthew Gale, Kerryn Greenberg, and Teresa Montaner curated a Joan Miro exhibition The Ladder of Escape at the Tate Modern, and I must say it is one of the most well put together exhibitions I have ever seen.

I must admit I have never liked the way I have seen Miro displayed until this exhibition, and because of this phenomenal display I now have a new since of understanding of Miro's work. I have a new found love and appreciation for it.

The exhibition goes through Miro's earlier well developed works.  The style in is earlier work jumped in style a little which made the flow of the room jump a little, but as you continue through the rooms the work becomes more and more styled and developed and you can sense the change in the artist's life and development of his painting.

The painter's development begins to peek through I believe in the 1930's after the Catalan Peasant movement in his work.  The taste of bitterness in an easy to swallow pill because of his use of colours becoming brighter.  You see chaos ensue within the paintings. I find myself being disturbed but unable to look away.  I laughed to myself when I think about Figures Devant un Volcan (Figures in Front of a Volcano).  His titles sometimes say it all.  The world is about to explode. Seeing what happens today around the world, I can definitely relate to this feeling. The work proceeds more and more into Surrealism. The civil war in Spain is escalating.  He stays in France with his family out of the turmoil in Spain.  I found Still Life with Old Shoe one of my favourites from this movement.  It moves into a dark back ground with neon colours.  Almost as if he is in a dream.

At the beginning of the 1940's we see another change in the artist's work,  as constellations become his inspiration.  The artist actually uses the shapes of iconic stars in his work and there is almost a constellation order to the lines, dots, shapes and small drawings to the work.  The backgrounds are beautiful, some reminding me of sunrises or sunset colours.  I founds these works very aesthetically pleasing to look at.  I wouldn't really get a hint of WWII breaking out around him except for these little monsters with gapping mouths seemingly about to eat something in the piece.  It was like he wanted to Keep Calm and Carry On, as the British were saying at the moment. In all seriousness, sometimes you have to paint something beautiful when the world is so ugly around you.  Why not look up and get some inspiration. This part of Miro's work had never been brought to my attention until now.  I found the room filled with this style of work to be very moving.  I took time with each one to see all the little things in it.  I selfishly wanted to kick everyone out of the room and have it all to myself to enjoy each piece.  Even with the larger crowds it was nice to hear peoples comments on the work while you were waiting to see it for yourself.  All good things come to those that wait.  Isn't that the saying?

A voice came through the paintings in the period of 1934-1941 then the line, shapes and colours became even stronger in the 60's and 70's.  These works show the artist's response to life and the politics at the time disturbing him.  Yet we see the title The Hope of a Condemned Man and the piece itself being larger than life. Giving this viewer a since of empowerment.

As the rooms continue, you see the works where Miro is giving back to his community. Grand scale murals, the canvas becomes larger and larger. I have never seen nor knew about the burnt canvases.  I can't believe this work escaped me until now. As an artist what would it take for me to burn a piece?  He really wanted to show you the bare bones, this is paint, this is a canvas, and those are stretcher bars. While reading more about the pieces you see that Miro wanted you to be able to look through the empty space of the burnt canvases. He wanted you to see natural landscapes.  This idea fascinates me. But what empowered me the most was the room with the Triptychs.

I have seen a series of these Triptychs before and they have not evoked emotion out of me like they did in this exhibition.  It is my opinon, and that of others, that art work should evoke something out of you. It should cause you to stare. This might be a disturbed, an awed, a shocked and glamorized reaction, but still a reaction of some kind to the art work. The way in which all art work is displayed is important. It can make or break a piece.  My hats off to Marko Daniel with the Triptychs display.  Rather than putting these works on a large room with large walls, where the scale of the actual piece doesn't shock you as much, this curator put the Triptychs in their own room.  The pieces took up the space and surrounded the viewer.  They made you a part of them. It made you look at them and realize what was so astounding about these pieces.  I felt the need to stay in this room.

The over all show was astounding.  I hope no one missed it.  If you did you really have missed an amazing display. Go buy the exhibition book at the Tate and cry yourself to sleep.  A good artist with the right curators can really make you see an artist and become inspired.  I want to shout out thank you to the curators for making Miro come alive.

Wednesday, 31 August 2011


"Color is not a question of quantity like value but of choice and we can compare color with music. In music there are only seven notes but all depends on their placement. The same applies to painting : in order to get an overall harmony of colors, ratios of colors are more important than colors considered individually."

Georges Britia