Yesterday, I went back to Manchester to visit The Whitworth Gallery as one of my favourite artist’s; Andy Warhol, had a solo exhibition on. I purposely went to see this show as my favourite artwork; Electric Chair, was on show and this would be the first time I have seen it in person.
Below are some images from Andy Warhol: Artist Rooms:
I love the majority of Warhol’s work and i know his work well, but at this show I realised how much I love his works in black and white, where he has printed the same design in opposite tones – it somewhat reminds me of my own colour palette and my use of the negative.
I finally got to see my favourite artwork, the pieces I have aspired to since starting art school. There were 10 different colour variations, each depicting the same haunting image of an awaiting electric chair, used on prisoners on death row in America from the late 1920’s to the late 1970’s. What I love about the pieces so much is the image of the chair, the space surrounding it is so empty, there’s a tension building, waiting for the next prisoner to take their seat. This particular chair expresses such history, and to see it in so many colour variations and still be so haunting is fascinating to me.
Series of 10 silk screened images on paper, 1971. Part of Warhol’s ‘Death and Disasters’ series.
This is a series of work I have never seen by Warhol, but I instantly fell in love with. He has a fantastic relationship to the theatrical and real life; it is obvious that Warhol is staging the scene, but I feel there is a struggling real life undertone to the image too.
I really love how he has used the similar colours in each piece to tie the whole set together, but there is still bursts of colour in each individual piece. I love Warhol’s humour and bringing the light side of death out in his work, his work can be tragic at times but it also has a bright side to it too.
Other works at The Whitworth:
Born 1978, London based artist; Idris Khan, creates large scale, stamped wall drawings, that I have used as the main subject in my dissertation and also found of incredible inspiration to my artwork. I visited his solo exhibition at The Whitworth Gallery in Manchester, to see his wall drawings in person and begin my analysis and enquiry for my work.
Khan creates these wall drawings by using letter stamps, containing sentences of his thoughts, which he repeatedly stamps to create the explosive motif we see on the wall. The undulating tonal effect was created by Khan’s thoughtful placement of each stamp.
As Khan was the main subject of my dissertation, I have already done vast research on him and analysed his work in depth. Through this I discovered that Khan’s wall drawings are a prime example of where image and text are so ‘intimately integrated’ the viewer is unsure whether the piece is an image or text artwork, something I am striving for in my own work.
The idea of ‘uncertainty’ constantly arises in Khans work, from the text or image decision, to the unsure aspect if the image is exploding out at you or rippling, and pulling you in. The illegibility of the text also adds to the treachery of Khan’s image, so overall the piece is constantly challenging you and leaves you with many questions.
The context of Khan’s work is usually his own thoughts towards a certain event, whether that being his grief towards his mothers and unborn child’s passing, or something that leads him to question god. Both of these are really pressing events to happen, I believe they are expressed through the explosive motif to suggest an overwhelming amount of thoughts.
Idris Khan is a big inspiration to me and I find his wall drawings of great importance and influence, I am in constant awe of his work, often referring back to his work and I strive to do what Khan is doing in my own work, analysing his work so closely, has brought out a lot in my own.
I intentionally went to Whitworth Gallery in Manchester to view Idris Khan’s work (last image in the photo collage below), specifically his wall drawings as research for my studio work and dissertation based on the relationship text and image can have in artworks, where they are so carefully integrated that the audience is unsure whether the piece is text based or a visual image.
Whilst at The Whitworth, I visited the other rooms and found some really interesting pieces, my highlights can be seen below:
One piece I found really interesting was the ‘War/Peace’ (3rd image in the photo collage) cross stitch, Its really intriguing how the definition of peace is backwards, in a less eye catching colour and under lines the striking definition of war, it makes a really dynamic piece with a provocative message.
For our first Transmission lecture of the new semester, visual artist and writer; John Russell was the guest speaker.
Usually, the first lecture of the new academic year is dedicated to discuss the theme/question for the lecture series, which we haven’t had this time. Instead we were informed this year’s Transmission series will be focused on ‘who is an artist?’ through guest speaker John Russell, who discussed his becoming of an artist and how he defines what it is to be an artist.
Russell first began by describing his current area of interest which is posting his writings and essays on an online blog accompanied with animated illustrations. He explained that he chooses to post online as he receives feedback and comments quickly. Russell proceeded to read out one of his writings about gender, the difference between a man and a woman physically and how surgery can change to from a man to a woman, which was all illustrated by his animated images/gif type media. I found it difficult to keep up with this but I enjoyed his mode of delivery – like an art performance.
After finishing his art piece, Russell explained that his father had recently passed away and his mother is ageing and he had realised he didn’t know his parents’ backgrounds or history, so he was now compensating for this by finding out and discovering his dad was an artist.
This then began the discussion of who is an artist? Russell’s father never went to art school as he had no confidence in himself, and he wouldn’t be considered an ‘artist’ in the art world. So, his dad became an illustrator for the daily mirror, radio times creating images in places of photos. Something I found poignant is he explained how upset and frustrated his dad was because he wasn’t allowed to sign the illustrations and he was refused to ‘mark his existence on the world’. The thought of not being able to put your name on something you have created distressed me, it was as though his dad was never acknowledged as an artist or human by refusing his signature, this point made me question who is an artist?
John Russell then discussed his early exhibitions post art school with other artists where they would create adverts and invites for non-existent exhibitions, he did this so people from art school would be shocked at how successful they were as artists and they were an attempt to become a part of the YBA (Young British Artists)movement, which he now explains how naïve they were as at the time they didn’t realise the YBA’s were backed by millionaires. He also mentioned how the most important part of this process was the name of the exhibitions, everything else came after – which was an interesting approach.
After the fake exhibitions, Russell then had a series of exhibitions; the first he mentioned was ‘Zombie Golf’ in 1994 where he turned a room in the bad part of Shoreditch into a crazy golf course that had a theme of zombies; which he was a big fan of at that time (movies). He then invited artists to display their artworks in this space. He asked artists whose works would ‘juxtapose with the zombies’, this was an exhibition that dealt with artists’ egos and pretentious attitude – Russell knew they wouldn’t want to exhibit in such a space, and in doing so removed their ego and created a spectacle.
The next exhibition/art work John Russell discussed was one that was in response to discovering the economical and corporate aspect that made the YBA’s so famous and how Russell wasn’t part of it. He named the exhibition ‘Fuck Off’ and these were a series of adverts in newspapers and invitations to a non-existent exhibition. It simply saw the exhibition name in huge letters in the newspaper – very anarchic.
Russell’s work is clearly driven by what makes you an artist and how artists become powerful and known. His work ‘The Bank’ shows this as he creates a newspaper that picked on powerful people in the art world and through this became a hypocrite – Russell creating art and wanting to be known but bashing the people who make you famous and the obvious unfairness in the art world. He gained interest from this and in so received many press releases which he corrected in an anarchic way – by removing the pretentious aspects. He explains it as correcting them like a teacher would to a student working and giving the press release a mark out of 10. It’s quite interesting to see someone so against this hierarchy and process to becoming an artist yet they clearly want to be well known.
John Russell finally presented his most recent works, much like the animated images at the start, yet these were large scale prints created in photoshop and were exhibited with back lighting behind them. Below is an example of this where he has recreated a ‘Jackson Pollock’ piece using meat. These works to me, appear quite garish and they are a big contrast to all the works he had mentioned previously.
Overall, this was a really great start back to the Transmission lecture series, John Russell made a really interesting guest speaker and brought up some great points for the question ‘who is the artist?’ and also what it is to become an artist.
I recently visited London and took a trip to TATE Modern, as I had seen that the new extension part had been completed and I was very interested in to what was new. I also wanted to see the Mona Hatoum exhibition on at the original Tate Modern building.
I firstly went to see Mona Hatoum’s solo show; this exhibition displays art work by Hatoum over her 35 years of working in Britain. I had research Hatoums work before and found inspiration in her piece ‘you are still here’, so I was really intrigued whether this piece would be displayed.
In a series of 10 rooms, around 100 of Mona Hatoum’s works were exhibited – a varied mixture of mediums, but mostly large sculptural works stood centre stage. For me it was quite an odd exhibition in how each piece holds its own context that is quite different to the rest, so it was a mixture of feelings going around, making the exhibition very stimulating because no two works were the same.
The first piece that caught my eye was ‘light sentence’, 1992. This was displayed in a room on its own and the effect of this piece was mesmerizing. Hatoum is known for working with the theme of oppression and containment, which was very evident in this work, the shadows cast by the single light bulb between the cages gives the effect of prison bars. The idea of containment is heightened by the bulb rotating slightly so the shadows glitch on the walls, it makes you feel very claustrophobic even thought the room is very open – this was definitely a highlight of Mona Hatoums exhibition.
‘Hot Spot III’, 2009, was the next piece that really caught my eye. As I have been researching into neon signs, it was great to see the material used in a different way. I’ve never seen neon used in a sculptural form to such a large scale. I liked how Hatoum had taken something normal like the globe and changed the context of it by making it glow red, the surrounding room was glowing and effected by this electrifying piece.
The final artwork that struck me was ‘you are still here’, 1994. The piece I had been researching was there for me to view in the flesh. It was really amazing to see a reflection of yourself with those words over you, as someone who overthinks everything, it was grounding to see this message on myself – this was definitely my favourite piece. Amazingly to think that from all the enormous artworks from this exhibition this small lone piece affected me the most.
Overall, this was a fantastic exhibition, I had high hopes for it and they were all exceeded – it was really well set out and each artwork stood on its own.
Images of artworks also featured in Mona Hatoum’s solo exhibition:
The New TATE Modern
The first aspect to comment on the new extension to the Tate modern is the stunning architecture, designed by Herzog & de Meuron who had also designed the original Tate modern building. It’s a very striking building with its unique and modern shape.
This new building has been advertised as 10 floors, entered, expecting to be overwhelmed by art. I began at the top which is a balcony floor where you can go out and view the sights of surrounding London. This is a really amazing touch to the building as it’s in the centre and the views are incredible:
I then travelled down the stairs to level 9 where there was a café, then to level 8 where there was a member’s room, then to level 7 and so on where there was no art, just rooms. It wasn’t until levels 3, 2, 1 where I saw works. I was quite disappointed by this as this new space is advertised as 10 floors of art yet only 3 of them have artworks.
As for the artworks on the three floors, nothing really stood out to me as it usually does at Tate. I can’t say that the works in these spaces were to my taste, they were still intriguing but nothing really excited me.
However I have 2 highlights, the first was ‘I am Afraid’, 2009 by Louise Bourgeois. Bourgeois had a solo exhibition in the new Tate modern and this was the piece that really stood out to me. Her other works were interesting but I didn’t connect with them, but the ‘I am Afraid’ piece was really touching – very simply presented and it felt like raw emotion and very romantic/poetic.
The second work I really liked was in a mixed exhibition and titled; ‘The Passing Winter’, 2005 by Yayoi Kusama. This was a sculptural piece where from afar the viewer sees a mirrored box with circular holes in it, when approaching the piece and looking inside the gaps, you enter a huge sci-fi type room where you are surrounded by mirrored shapes and portraits. This was a really fun interactive work that will always be seen as different to every viewer. It reminded me of a matrix type alternate universe, where everything is infinite; there is no beginning or end and it carried on forever.
Images of other works at the new Tate Modern:
Not the experience I was expecting from this new Tate building but still an insightful one, I’m excited to see it develop and become home to new exhibitions in the future.
It is now the end of my second year at Uni and from September I will be in my Third and final year. As with every year, third year students hold their final degree show and Arundel Gate Studios is completely emptied and turns into an art gallery, where the soon to be graduate students display their final works.
Art works by MA students and Fine Art:
As always, I am really impressed with the works on both an individual level and also how they come together as a collective and produce a really impressive show. Below are some photos of the highlights of the show. I really appreciated the professionalism of this show; the wall decals explaining each division of work (MA, Fine Art, CAP, and Part Time) and how the space was sectioned off for a more interesting viewing of the work. A really cohesive exhibition from the final year students, they should be very proud of their work – a really great last exhibition for Arundel gate court studios, before we move to our new site at the old post office.
Artworks by Creative Art Practice:
Viewing this year’s show suddenly became quite a different experience for me as reality hit, knowing that in one year’s time it would be my own final work on show, being the first year to hold an exhibition at a new location. The thought that it will all be over and graduation would be soon upon me has made a massive impact, provoking feelings of fear, apprehension and excitement of what the year will hold with a scary realisation that I won’t be in university this time next year.
Last week, I took a long overdue visit to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. I haven’t been for some time and the KAWS exhibition really caught my eye – I find his work interesting in how it replicates features seen on Disney characters and it’s cartoon like, yet still holds a contemporary art label.
I first took a look at the outside grounds of YSP, seeing some of the works that permanently reside at YSP, that I have seen before on my previous visit.
NOT VITAL exhibition
Born in 1948, Not Vital is a Swiss artist best known for his large scale sculptures. His solo exhibition around YSP exhibits many of his Large silver sculptures. These are really eye catching and have a great dynamic with their modern shape and colour contrasted with the natural landscape, which most of the other open air sculptures at YSP don’t have. I think the fact Not Vital has used silver/metal for the works makes them feel untouchable, as thought they have vast worth. I also really liked how it became a mirror of the landscape and you when you stood in front of them, making you part of the work – its a different visual each time; as the people in the work changes, the sky appears different, there won’t be the same photo of the work twice which I really love the idea of.
The standout piece by Not Vital for me was ‘Pelvis’, 2008. This work was placed on the top of a hill, which was interesting how you always looked up to it; the piece always looked down on everything else. The reason I liked this piece foremost was how it was part of the human body, and it was so glorified by it’s material, scale and placement. To me it was a random choice to use the pelvis, but it made me think more about the work because it was so glorified – an aspect I really like in an artwork.
AT HOME exhibition
This exhibition was indoors in a small rectangular room, divided by a wall. This room featured many works along the theme of the domestic. There were very diverse and different works, but they all clearly related to the idea of nostalgia, belonging, home, and were put into a very residential space, which heightened the context of the works. Below are images of some the highlights of this exhibition:
Text Based art at YSP
As I am focusing on text based art, I found a few stand out pieces that incorporated and used text in an interesting way.
The first was ‘Art for All/Art makes children powerful’ by Bob and Roberta Smith, 2013. This is a large scale banner type piece, as seen below. I wasn’t struck by this work due to its placement, situated on the outskirt of YSP and basically in the car park. Now I consider this it could have possibly been an attempt to be an information sign, but when I first saw it, I thought about how powerful the visual of the piece is and its context, but it’s been thrown to the side which took away some of it’s powerful statement. Maybe if I was driving and saw the sign as I left, It would be different. This work really made me consider how placement can change an artwork so easily.
I then came across Brian Fell’s ‘Ha-Ha Bridge’, 2006. This was one of my favourite works at YSP. I really loved the placement of it and how you just stumble across the piece in the woods. I really like how Fell has made something really dynamic from a normal object – it was a great opportunity to use the space and need for an object. This piece is explained brilliantly by YSP;
“In creating the Ha-Ha Bridge for Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Fell has provided an elegant design which also reveals further levels of meaning. By incorporating the word itself into the sides of the bridge he not only refers directly to the ha-ha beneath but also provides an amusing reminder of the original coining of the term derived from the cry of surprise at discovering a boundary”.
I also noticed that the path leading to the entrance of YSP has names of contributes in the walkway which I found quite interesting to see and I really like the use of the space – very innovative:
Roger Hiorns – Seizure, 2008
I then stumbled upon a hidden away concrete building, where people were queuing up to enter. Groups of 5 or less were lead to a bench inside the space, where you were asked to put on shoe covers, and at the end of the space was a crate looking cube. I’ve never experienced this lead up for an artwork before – It heightened my curiosity and expectations; to have to go through all this effort for a piece means it has to be something special. It came to my groups turn to venture into the crate and I was very surprised by what I saw. A removed 2 room council flat completely covered in Blue crystals. The artist had removed his environment from its original building and grown copper sulphate in the entirety of his home. It was so mesmerizing and impressive, how Hiorns had changed his own space so drastically, but it still had homely qualities to it; skirting board, ceiling light, bathroom with bath, door frames. I was also shocked at how he had removed his home from the rest of the council flat estate, It made me think of how a space can become you and so personal. I was a really strange feeling knowing you are in someone’s home although it looks completely different, like you have stumbled into an abandoned fantasy cave – a very surreal experience.
Unable to find any of KAWS’ works, I found out you had to wait outside for a van to pick you up to take you to another area where all the works were featured. This was also quite a surreal experience in that, you had to be driven to another space just to view the work.
At the top of the hill was a open plan space, with a wall of window at the end overlooking the landscape. There were several large scale sculptures in this space as well as some wall mounted paintings. I really like the innocent yet complex nature of Kaws’ work, as I’ve already mentioned they have a resemblance of Disney but the characters are far from that; they have quite a sad and pitiful atmosphere and blank stares, they almost feel like a shell of a person. The contrast of the cartoonish and colourful visual but also appearing to be unresponsive and dead on the inside is an aspect I admire about KAWS’ work.
Overall, a really fantastic visit to Yorkshire Sculpture Park.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park – http://www.ysp.co.uk/