Archive for the ‘Drawings’ Category

Barocci at the National Gallery and Picasso at the Courtauld

May 17, 2013

Up in London this week delivering my work to Novella Baroni and Flavio Gianassi at the Baroni Gallery for the forthcoming  From Surface to Structure:  An exhibition of drawings and sculpture by six contemporary European artists. Drawings by Adrien-Angelo Bastien, Sandra Beccarelli, Dianne Kaufman and Fiona Robinson; sculpture by Matteo Baroni and Mark Beatie, Very exciting to see the space and meet three of the other artists in the show.

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I spent the rest of the week in London and managed to see the Barocci Exhibition at the National Gallery and the Picasso show at the Courtauld.  Wonderful stuff!  Federico Barocci (c. 1533–1612) was an extremely accomplished draftsman as well as painter. Despite having studied Italian Renaissance painting when I did my BA I was not familiar with his work.  I found one or two of the portrait studies a bit saccharine, in particular the study for Mary Magdalene where the warm skin tones reminded me a bit of Renoir’s Girls at the piano.  The study, in the same row for the head of St John the Baptist has similarly rosy cheeks but the greenness of the skin tones suggests that maybe, like many Byzantine Madonnas, the colour has deteriorated over time.  It is painted in oil on paper lined with linen which puzzled me as a combination couldn’t work out which was the top surface.  The study for the head of Nicodemus which is also in this row of studies was very beautiful, startling in its strength, depth of emotion and modernity.  All these studies were for the Entombment of Christ 1576 – 82.

 

federico-barocci-head-of-nicodemus-for-the-entombment-national-gallery-of-art-washington-ngaFederico Barocci, Head of Nicodemus.

Lots of the drawings in the exhibition appeared to have been done from life and on cheap greenish paper which looked like modern sugar paper so it is interesting to think that Barocci never meant these works to be seen outside his studio and here they are on display in one of the most prestigious art museums in the world.  In the painting of St Francis receiving the Stigmata the drawings of the trees were wonderful, so full of life and movement and there were some framed studies of trees too which had a similar vibrancy and immediacy.

Next stop the Courtauld Gallery to see the Picasso exhibition.  I love the Courtauld exhibitions, usually just two rooms worth of the most astounding work and so you can really immerse yourself in the work without getting gallery/eye/foot-lag!  I saw the Child with a dove for the first time and there were many of the poignant introspective works from Picasso’s blue period.  The exhibition is on until May 26th so still time to go and see it.

 

Drawn 2013 Open Drawing Exhibition at the RWA

March 21, 2013

Third Nocturne

Third Nocturne, one of my 2012 drawings made in response to listening to music, mostly Chopin’s nocturnes has been selected for the RWA Drawing open.  The exhibition opens in Bristol on Friday and runs through until June 2nd.  After the January blues I  finally got back into the studio and started working on a new group of drawings, Partita 1 – 5 made whilst listening to Brahms cello sonatas and piano trios.  They are now posted on my website with the Quartet drawings which I made last year.  I am introducing underlying grids into these drawing which are creating an interesting counterpoint to the slashing diagonals which are struggling against the vertical lines.  Still unable to resist these verticals which are suggestive of the neck of a stringed instrument.

Partita 4

Partita 4. 2013  Mixed Media on Arches HP 300gm.  76 x 56 cm

More sketchbook drawings, dancing from page to page…

December 18, 2011

I love working in my sketchbooks.  No pressure I just hop, slide, move, dance from one page onto the next, following my train of thought. Making drawings from observation, rubbing them out drawing over them, playing with ideas. Thinking I’ll try that or I wonder what would happen if. It is the best way of visual thinking.  The excitement, waiting to see what things will look like, knowing  it doesn’t matter if it works or not because it is about finding out, opening doors not closing them.   Taken from one of my Ballycastle sketchbooks which is full of drawings of Main Street, this little group of drawings started with a  sketch of a derelict notice board, plywood streaked with rain-water stains.  They then started absorbing the narrative of  earlier drawings of the horizon and the cracks in the pavement of the same street..

 

Sketchbook drawings from Ireland

December 4, 2011

Spent a couple of days scanning in pages from some of my Balinglen Sketchbooks to send to someone.  A boring chore but actually it was lovely to look again at those images and remember the when the where the light the weather and the things I had forgotten about. Realised there are some many ideas here that I want to take further.

RWA Autumn Show, Gerhard Richter and the Degas

October 30, 2011

My drawing Soundscape IV won the Excellence in Drawing Prize at the Royal West of England Academy Autumn Show yesterday which was a very nice surprise.  The exhibition of 508 works, selected from a submission of over 2000, is on at the RWA in Bristol until December 31st.  There seemed to be  more abstract work this year and the hanging of the works seemed more thoughtful. I also heard this week that I have been offered another residency at The Cill Rialaig Project in Kerry for next May so I will be going back to somewhere I really love.

I spent last week in London and managed to get to both the Gerhard Richter at Tate Modern and the Degas at the Royal Academy.  I enjoyed both but definitely want to go back and spend more time at the Richter.  I also want to look again at Tacita Dean’s work Film, the new Unilever series work in the Turbine Hall, without small and tall children running around and waving their arms in front of it to make shadows.  I had forgotten it was half term!

I queued in the rain for forty minutes to see the Degas and the Ballet: Picturing Movement but the security staff came out with huge RA umbrellas for those people who hadn’t though to bring their own.  Nice touch!  It was wonderful to see some of the paintings of dancers which I had only ever seen in reproduction.  In one room the centrepiece was his renowned Little Dancer aged 14 circled by all the preparatory drawings he did for it, hung at the appropriate position from which he would have drawn  them as he  moved around the model making observations.  A lot was made of Degas’ connection with and use of photography and the moving image with a whole room of Muybridge films some of which I suspect were shown at the recent show at Tate Britain.  However some of the early films of dancers were mesmerising.

Degas Little Dancer aged 14 years

I had been to the Richter the day before and when I first walked in took my glasses off twice to clean them before remembering how destabilising his paintings are!!  But I loved the show, works I hadn’t seen before including a lot of his gray paintings.  The Cage series I had seen before but it was good to revisit them.

A new direction , maybe – and Johns Cage and Berger

July 13, 2011

 

Post New York I have been looking at a lot of Art. Exhibitions and books. I have been picking through Every Day is a Good Day:  The Visual Art of John Cage,  the catalogue for the Hayward traveling exhibition which is sadly not traveling anywhere near me.  And today whilst working on No. 33  of my RN Drawings I have been listening to Cage’s pieces for Violin and Piano. I also bought  Bento’s Sketchbook, John Berger’s imagined drawings of what might have been in the lost sketchbook of the 17th century philosopher Benedict de Spinosa.  Promises to be utterly fascinating.  Working on another new drawing, large, already time-consuming and complex, based on a sketchbook drawing made from the top of Bolus Head in the Ballinskelligs in Ireland, I needed to revisit Kathy Prenderghast’s work.  So I dipped into The End and the Beginning, which has quite a few of her love city mapping drawings in it, though they are so delicate they are difficult to photograph and consequently difficult to see in reproduction. So a productive day in the studio, at last, lots of reading and I’m off to London at the weekend to engage with the Tracey Emin at the Hayward so watch this space!

My most recent exhibition roundup is on isendyouthis art-diary, link in the side bar.

Horizons Sketchbook – Shortlisted for the Sketch Drawing Prize

March 27, 2011

My Horizons Sketchbook containing 55 double-page spread drawings of the changeable, mesmerising view of the sea in Ballycastle, Co. Mayo has been shortlisted for the Sketch Drawing Prize at Rabley Drawing Centre.

During my Fellowship at the Ballinglen Arts Foundation in September/October, 2010, my house faced the sea and every day I drew the rapidly changing vista from my window; the light, the weather, and the mountains appearing and disappearing like ghosts. The exhibition, Sketch National Drawing Prize 2011 which contains 40 sketchbooks by 38 shortlisted artists from all over the UK, will open on 9 April through 28 May and then tour nationally for a year.  Looking at some of the other artists who have been selected I think it will be a fascinating exhibition and I am very honoured to be part of it.  It was selected by Deanna Petherbridge, artist and author of ‘The Primacy of Drawing’, Meryl Ainsley, Director of Rabley Drawing Centre and artist Sandie Sykes.

discovering drawings at the British Museum and continuing to paint in my studio

January 23, 2011

Going to any exhibition is always a delight but discovering an artist for the first time is very special.  At the British Museum last week in the exhibition Picasso to Julie Mehretu Modern drawings from the British Museum Collection, I came across the drawings of Edda Renouf.  I was blown away by her exquisite, timeless, quiet work.  It is very beautiful and her philosophy is in tune with the ideas that inform my own work. The following quote from Edda Renouf’s 2009 Statement, which I found on her website www.eddarenouf.com and am printing here with her permission, is particularly significant.

My works are thus a record of the days, weeks, months and seasons when they were created becoming a journal of my working process, while at the same time their structures and signs relate to thoughts and memory; to music and sound, themes that point to the idea of ‘making the invisible visible’ thereby revealing the movement and hidden presence of wave structures in our universe and again the abstract energy within my materials.’

© Edda Renouf,  2009.

 

Picasso to Julie Mehretu  Modern drawings from the British Museum Collection, Room 90, is on until 25 April 2011. It is a really good show with work that ranges from a huge Michaelangelo cartoon, German expressionist George Grosz, Gerhard Richter and finally a small black and white Julie Mehretu.  I have Catherine De Zegher’s book on Mehretu, (Rizzoli, 2007) but haven’t seen her work in the flesh before so was disappointed, expecially since the show is titled from Picasso to Mehretu, to find that there was only one drawing by her. However there is  a fine line drawing, Untitled Subway Drawing by William Anastasi which absorbed my attention.  A show which takes up two rooms,  is always a treat; time to really look intently at each piece and not too many visitors because it hasn’t had the blockbuster marketing treatment.

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Life in the studio continues.

 

Finished this week; Unstable Horizon painting 5.   oil charcoal and graphite on canvas.  80 x 100 cms, 31 x 40 ins.  above, details below

there is something about horizons fading into darkness

January 14, 2011

At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,

The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable

And you are in the dark again.

These lines from Seamus Heaney’s  ‘The Peninsula’ have a particular resonance for me and the whole poem is a magical evocation of shoreline reminding me of Achill.  They accompanied me as I came to the end of  my first large Unstable Horizons painting.  Heaney talks of breakers being ‘shredded into rags‘,  ‘leggy birds‘ which suggest to me the exquisite white egrets which stand in the river that runs alongside my studio; and ‘Islands riding themselves out into the fog‘. Achill again.  Such wonderful imagery.  Seamus Heaney’s collection Opened Ground Poems 1966-1996 was on my wish list but I ended up buying it myself.  Couldn’t wait! And it is wonderful.

The painting, for now just Unstable Horizon Painting 3, has been looking at me for weeks daring me to put the final marks on it.  Pencil, graphite, charcoal one after the other in destabilising lines, blowing charcoal dust all over the studio as I go.  Then covering the surface with butter soft paint and cautiously scraping it away again, stopping  the charcoal from smudging and muddying the paint.

Top. Unstable Horizon Painting.  Oil charcoal and graphite on canvas, 80 x 100 cms. 31 x 40 inches.

Below.   from my sketchbook, Achill Island

The unstable horizon from a small boat in wild seas

December 6, 2010

 

During my two residencies in Ireland this year I worked extensively in sketchbooks.  In Ballycastle my house faced the sea, nothing between me and Greenland, and every morning I drew the rapidly changing horizon, the light, the weather, and the mountains of Donegal appearing and disappearing like ghosts. At The Cill Rialaig Project on the Kerry coast  there was nothing between the wild rocks and America apart from the Skelligs, inhabited in the fourth century by a group of monks. For them their location was the edge of the known world. I went out to the Skelligs in wild March seas in a ferociously bronco-bucking, little fishing boat and once there, climbed to the top. Two of the scariest things I have ever done! The sketchbooks full of horizon drawings, the drawings from the cliffs in the Ballinskelligs, the memory of my trip to the Skelligs and getting to know the local people in Co. Mayo has translated itself into a body of work concerned with Unstable Horizons. They reference the physicality and history of the land and my experience of it as well as the uncertainty of the economic and political situation in Ireland, which is also part of my family history.  These small paintings are the beginning of a determined exploration of these ideas and I am already working on two larger canvases.