Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Review of Gego: Line as Object at the Henry Moore Institute, Leeds

Gego: Line as Object
Henry Moore Institute, Leeds
24 July – 19 October 2014

“Here we’ve only got one job,” explains Lisa Le Feuvre, head of the Henry Moore Institute. “And that’s to write the future of art history with sculpture at the centre. And I want Gego right at that centre.”
Gego (1912-94) was born Gertrud Goldschmidt in Hamburg, Germany, but she emigrated to Caracas, Venezuela in 1939, immediately after graduating from a degree in architecture and engineering in Stuttgart. There, she became an artist, and spent the rest of her life, quite simply, “taking a line for a walk”.
“There is no danger for me to get stuck,” she wrote in 1966, “because with each line I draw, hundreds more wait to be drawn. That is the circle of knowledge with the ring around, you enlarge the inner circle and the outer becomes greater – no end.”

To read the rest of this review, please go to: http://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/gego-review-gertrud-goldschmidt-artist-henry-moore-institute-sculpture

Monday, 18 August 2014

Interview: Ed Atkins

Ed Atkins: interview
Serpentine Sackler Gallery, London
11 June – 25 August 2014

Since graduating from the Slade School of Art in 2009, artist and film-maker Ed Atkins has been busy. He’s been selected for New Contemporaries and short-listed for the Jarman award. He’s co-curated at the ICA, been commissioned by Frieze Film and Channel 4, and had a solo show at Tate Britain – among other things.

We spoke to him about his current exhibition at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery, where his film Ribbons (2014) is showing alongside related installations of text and image. The entire gallery, previously a 19th-century gunpowder store, reverberates with the film’s soundtrack: music as diverse as Bach’s Erbarme Dich and Randy Newman’s I think It’s Going to Rain Today, along with swearing, shouting and exaggerated sounds of drinks being put down and cigarettes being rolled – noises of everyday life writ large. The exhibition is described by the gallery as “part musical, part horror and part melodrama”. Atkins told us why he finds such categorisations interesting, but limiting. He explained why we should dislike the character (as if we wouldn’t) and why there are recognisable features of him, the artist, in the avatar.

Saturday, 16 August 2014

Review of Louise Bourgeois: A Woman Without Secrets at Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art

Louise Bourgeois: A Woman Without Secrets
Middlesbrough Institute of Modern Art, Middlesbrough
18 July – 12 October 2014

“When does the emotional become physical? When does the physical become emotional? It’s a circle going round and round.” Louise Bourgeois (1911-2010) posed these questions in 1991, speaking about her series of sculptural works, Cells. “Fear is pain,” she went on, before admitting that emotions are the primary subject of her work – emotions, contradictions and the childhood trauma of living with the knowledge of her father’s affair with her English governess.

The feisty and widely read artist, born in Paris, but an American citizen from 1955, died not long before reaching her centenary. She left behind a great body of work examining the interplay between such opposites as male and female, father and mother, soft and hard, exterior and interior, vulnerability and strength. Her recurring motifs at first appear simple, but, as her assistant and friend for more than 30 years, Jerry Gorovoy, says: “The more time you spend with her work, the more complex it is.” Rather like a spider’s web, one might suggest.

Portfolio: Flora Malpas

Portfolio: Flora Malpas

“It was the themes of fragility, vulnerability and social exclusion that interested me, perhaps because of my own sense of being on the fringe because of my sexuality,” explains Greenwich-based artist Flora Malpas of her early oil paintings of residents of a care home for adults with learning and physical disabilities, often shown at a game of Scrabble.

Influenced by Lucian Freud and Graham Sutherland, Malpas likes artists who use expressive brushstrokes to communicate the sitter’s personality. “I’m interested in the individuality within each sitter and the potential to investigate your relationship with the subject through the painting process,” she says. This includes her relationships with her family members, as well as with her girlfriend Rose, a regular feature in her work.

Wanting to spend more time on her art, despite a day job, Malpas can regularly be found drawing as she travels on the underground. From her many sketchbooks, she recently began to make prints. “I’d like to do an exhibition of just prints of commuters – ‘67 faces on the tube’ or something along those lines. I make the sketches on the tube, then transfer them onto lino at home, then carve them on the tube, so there’s a strong theme of journeys there.” Malpas’s artistic journey is just beginning, so watch this space!

To see this full portfolio, please buy the September issue of DIVA magazine

Monday, 28 July 2014

Interview with Gustav Metzger

Gustav Metzger: interview

Gustav Metzger: Lift Off!
Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge
24 May – 31 August 2014

“When I was young I wanted art that would lift off, that would levitate, gyrate, bring together different – perhaps contradictory  – aspects of my being. The search for – the need to encapsulate varying kinds of contradictory elements, the urgency of stopping sharp – extinct – twist and: razor-sharp endpoint. After the experience, we expand, reconnect with a normality which is not the same as it was. But normality once changed is not the same.” [Untitled, handwritten note by Gustav Metzger, p.2 exh. cat.]

Although Metzger (born in Nuremberg, Germany, in 1926) is better known for his Auto-Destructive Art, he was simultaneously developing its counterpart, Auto-Creative Art, in the same lecture demonstrations and manifestos that took place from 1959. The current exhibition of his works at Kettle’s Yard, Cambridge, focuses on the lesser-known Auto-Creative works, contextualising these against film and archive footage. It is a significant homecoming for the artist who studied at the Cambridge School of Art in 1945.

Studio International was lucky enough to meet Metzger in his London Fields studio. After a brief chat about the magazine, with Metzger recalling his two contributions from March and October 1969, we turn to talk about his work, his motivations, and his scientifically driven techniques.

Friday, 25 July 2014

Review of Xavier White’s Full Circle, a glass art exhibition, at ORTUS Learning and Events Centre, The Maudsley Hospital

Xavier White’s Full Circle, a glass art exhibition
ORTUS Learning and Events Centre, The Maudsley Hospital, 82-96 Grove Lane, Camberwell, SE5 8SN
16 July – 26 September 2014

With its spacious atrium and glass ceiling reaching up to the clouds, Duggan Morris Architects’ award-winning ORTUS learning and events centre at South London’s Maudsley Hospital couldn’t be a more appropriate location for Xavier White’s Full Circle, suggesting that, with an appropriate amount of effort, anything is attainable.

White is certainly someone who strives hard in the face of adversity. Growing up in the shadow of the Maudsley, little did he know that he’d end up there himself in 1985, following a near fatal cycling collision, as a result of which he lay in a 10-day coma. Now, 29 years later, White returns to his place of recovery, coming, as the exhibition’s title puts it, “Full Circle”.

As an artist who, since his accident, has been rehabilitating creatively through working largely with glass, this exhibition is both a retrospective, a culmination of his achievements – both in his career and his life – to date, and a promise of things to come. It speaks of his personal struggles, but also of those of his fellow survivors, and, seen through a wider lens, calls out to all of us who battle our demons and are challenged every day. After all, we all have brains.

Included are works such as What’s on at the Globe tonight? (2004), a piece White made during his City Lit foundation course. Following instructions on how to make the model in wood, White made his in glass, going on to win the V&A’s Inspired by competition for people in adult education and then being selected for a Bonham’s glass auction. On the stage, he has lovingly engraved a scene from his painting class where he was working on a large canvas as part of his ongoing Cohedia project, creating an imaginary, mind-expanding cityscape.

“The entire stage of the theatre corresponds to ‘working memory’, the immediate memory system in which we talk to ourselves, visualise places and people, and plan actions,” says White, referring to the work of eminent psychologist Dr Bernard Baars. “Mental architecture can be described as a working theatre. Working theatres are not just ‘Cartesian’ daydreams – they do real things, just like real theatres.”  

White is a thinker, who has researched deeply into the fields of neurology, neural architecture, learning styles and brain function. And yet, since his accident, after which he had to learn, from scratch, how to even put one foot in front of the other, he unsurprisingly struggles with formal education. Windows of Opportunity (2008) is an ode to these struggles: hexagonal glass panes, painstakingly painted with literary and scientific figures and references, designs for the university building in Cohedia. “Rectangular windows pushed out, phat with knowledge,” says White.

Why is Life Set Chess Game? Moves, Interactions, I can’t keep up! (2009), which has a companion work living in White’s own salon gallery at his home in Blackheath, is an exquisitely hewn chess set, composed of precariously but meticulously balanced glasses and decanters, pieces from his ongoing Verrelic Spires collection. The analogy is clear; the perpetual need to think, plan, and take action, with the risk of losing hanging heavy.

Think about it… (2014) comprises further such arrangements, displayed in a pristine, and somehow scientific vitrine, etched with images of hands, eyes, ears and mouths, nostrils flaring, visualisations of our senses, the closest most of us get to the functioning brain. Colourful glass nuggets, coded as charged ions, neurotransmitter inhibitors and exciters, are scattered about, resplendent in the refracted light. Either side are a thinker and a gung-ho teenage White, cycling along blithely, unaware of the life-changing event to come. Both symbolic of freedom. A beautiful sight, art to be enjoyed for its aesthetic value, but also a lesson in science, with White’s written reminder: “As you are observing this, your brain’s neurons are passing information to each other through an organic electrical exchange, releasing neurotransmitter molecules at synaptic clefts. This metabolically driven exchange is how we feel and think at the micro-biotic level.” And this exhibition is certainly one to incite both feelings and thoughts.

Upstairs on the roof terrace, with views over London’s greatest glass structure, the Shard, White has decorated the tinted glass wall with frosted vinyl circles, celebrating the metaphor of his journey. Opposite this large meditative arrangement are three smaller circles with the words Health, In and Mind, comprising Maudsley Learning’s mantra. The exhibition and its location point to White’s achieving the pinnacle of success (not to say he won’t continue to climb from here on in), and encourages others to likewise reach for their dreams atop the spires. As White concludes: “Xavier White’s full circle is on a roll.”

Installation shots all courtesy of the artist