Wednesday, 24 September 2014

Update from the life of an Art Intern

Update from the life of an Art Intern

Dear Readers,

I must say it has been a bumpy ride but I have now settled into something which is making me incredibly happy, more every day!

I finished my internship with Simon Dickinson and although I enjoyed the experience and the people who, as I mentioned before are lovely I came to realise that the Old Master world was not for me, and not playing my strengths, so I bid the Dickinson team adieu and with the help of a very good friend ended up meeting the lovely Serena Morton.

A little background about Serena:

Serena started in the same area of the art world as I did, doing four years at Christie's. From there she curated many sell out exhibitions and bought many artists along with her on her journey.

Now Serena has her own gallery in Ladbroke Grove and is opening another fantastic space nearby (how she finds the time and energy to do all of this is an utter mystery!)

Serena has utterly taken me under her wing and who knows with her, we could take over the art world!

I will be keeping you my devoted readers up to date, there are many exciting plans in the pipe line but for now...WATCH THIS SPACE...

The Raven's Eye Critic

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Forms of Abstraction

Forms of Abstraction - Simon C. Dickinson Ltd

6th June - 18th July 2014
Jermyn Street

I have been lucky enough to have been offered an internship with the prestigious art dealers Simon C. Dickinson Ltd. Previous to this however they asked me to come in for two weeks to help them prepare for their up coming Abstract Expressionist exhibitions called 'Forms of Abstraction - American Expressionism from the 1950s to Today'.

Please excuse some bias but I was working with incredible people who were both professional and kind and so this in turn had a huge impact on the preview evening and the general feeling of the exhibition.

I must admit I didn't have a huge knowledge of Abstract Expressionism before my time at Dickinson but I read up a lot about it and became transfixed by the art and the theories behind the paintings. The exhibition was curated by the renowned art collecter and writer Susanne Van Hagen as well as many works of art featured in the exhibiton belonged to her.

Here is a brief synopsis of Abstract Expressionism  for those who weren't entirely sure....

  • Avant garde movement in 1940s New York
  • Managed to shift the art worlds focus (which had previously been on Europe to America) 
  • The movers and shakers were artists such as Jackson Pollock, William de Kooning, Franz Kline, Robert Motherwell and many others
  • Two sub sections of Abstract Expressionism - Colour Field and Action Painting
  • Many were abstracted rather than being fully abstraction paintings
  • strong use of colour and thick, impasto paint to convey emotion

Susanne Van Hagen with Alabaster SR11-41 (2011) by Sterling Ruby ->

On the ground floor of the building is a stunning space that is the gallery, here all the work was set up and as I was assisting in the organisation of the exhibition I was lucky enough to be able to see the paintings being up packed and hung. This was a completely different way of viewing the paintings and being able to be in a completely deserted gallery surrounded by incredible works of art.

The way that the works were laid out meant that there was a gradual journey throughout the first room and opened out into the large open second room. The second larger room has high ceilings and gives the air of space and harmony. The walls were a huge white expanse which worked well with the scale of the paintings. If the walls had been painted grey which is a fashionable and popular colour at the moment the paintings would have looked less dramatic and fresh.

All of the paintings were so full of colour and the artists expression that the exhibition had a lively and almost carefree attitude, with the artists transferring how they felt through their paintings to be directly received by the viewer made one feel as though they were becoming enveloped in the artists life and way of self expression.

The exhibition is still on so get down there and have a browse and let your mind be blown!

I have just been to Masterpiece art fair so a post on that will be following shortly.

I hope you have enjoyed this post and that hopefully you now feel like you know the beginnings of Abstract Expressionism! Keep reading, keep following, as always a pleasure, until next time....

The Raven's Eye Critic

Sunday, 4 May 2014

The Other Art Fair

The Other Art Fair 

I had a a very exciting Saturday morning spent at The Other Art Fair which was organised by Tracey Emin. The idea behind TOAF was that 'it was born from a realization of the disparity between a London audience eager to discover the next big thing and talented artists struggling to gain recognition'. 

The fair was at Ambika P3 on Marylebone Road and the industrial setting worked really well and gave the the whole factory feel to the event which meant that the works were able to speak for themselves and were not overpowered by the setting. 

I would love to be able to discuss with you, my dear readers all the very talented artists that were exhibiting their work, but I fear that this post could go on forever! So I will share with you my favorite select few artists.

The first artist who I saw was incidentally a very talented family friend which was a lovely surprise! Joanna Ham (Click Here) specializes in mixed media collage which she turns into monochrome photograms, from there Jo adds the expressions of the figures then the image is transferred onto a silk screen and a limited edition print is created. These monochrome prints have such a chic feel to them at the same time as having a slightly quirky edge to them.

The next artist who I was enchanted by was Rachel Ann Stevenson. Her work is an amalgamation of both taxidermy and sculpture that leaves the viewer to interpret to a degree what they see when they view these works. I had a chat with her and she was so kind and welcoming and ready to answer any questions I had (which is rare as it was clear I was not a gallery curator or a private buyer).

Her work has an other worldly quality to it that is dark and perhaps sometimes sinister but her sculptures remained with me for the entirety of the fair and kept resurfacing as though demanding the recognition it truly deserved. They also appear to me to have a Brother's Grimm aspect to them that gives the pieces a certain timeless quality. In Rachel's own words she describes her works as 'representing the delicate smoke and mirrors between the conscious and the unconscious mind'. (Click Here) to view Rachel Ann Stevenson's website.

Another artist who particularly stood out to me was Lewis Forbes. His dramatic paintings have a clear influence of Francis Bacon to which Forbes testified, stating that it was viewing Bacon's paintings that originally got him interested in becoming an artist in the first place.

I tried to decipher from Forbes what was truly behind his shocking and graphic paintings but he simply said that there is no rhyme of reason to it, he just paints. He does no preliminary sketches the paint goes straight on to canvas often using his hands to create the thick impasto paint effect. Lewis Forbes' paintings are refreshing in an age where every detail of a painting is agonized over and dissected within an inch of its life, in the end loosing whatever main message is there to begin with. (Click Here) to check out Lewis' website.

Now my dear readers the last artist I would like to share with you is another artist whom I have a soft spot for as my sister happens to own a collection of his prints, Dan Hillier is an incredibly talented engraver whose whimsical and gothic pictures greet me every day at breakfast!

 Hillier's work have a strong sense of the Victorian era about them, and with that and his interest in incorporating animal aspects into his works make for a slightly unsettling viewing that has a strange macabre humour to it. His more recent engravings have moved away from animal and human slicing to a more mystical and astrological theme. (Click Here) for Dan Hiller's website.

I can't thank all the artists enough that I met, in particular the truly wonderful ones mentioned in this post for taking time out to talk to me and give me an insight into the inspiration behind their works, and so to Joanna Ham, Rachel Ann Stevenson, Lewis Forbes and Dan Hiller I thank you again, it was an absolute pleasure to share with you these truly talented artists and I hope we see much more of them in the future.

My dear readers as always, a pleasure,

The Raven's Eye Critic

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

Interview with Jessica Ledwich

Interview with Jessica Ledwich

This post is a particularly exciting one as I have had the utter privilege to be able to interview a truly incredible photographer, Jessica Ledwich.

I originally found out about Jessica Ledwich from an article in The Huffington Post (click here) which was discussing one of her sequences of works called 'The Monstrous Feminine', I was completely blown away by her confrontational and macabre pieces, from there I researched her and the more I saw of her works the more I fell in love. I think her photographs are so powerful and really give a strong message as to what femininity in this day and age means. So I thought I would get in touch with her on the off chance that she might be interested in being the first interviewee for this blog and so I am truly honoured to be able to share with you all the words, thoughts and advice of Jessica Ledwich in the 10 questions that follow:

1. Why did you choose photography as your medium? 

Photography is only one of the mediums I employ in my artistic practice. What I love about photography is it allows you to create an imagined space. By choosing what to put in front of the camera you get to control what and how people engage with your image. 

2. Whose work has influenced you most and why? 

There are so many incredible artists out there whose work inspires me for different reasons. For some it is their ideas, others it is the level of craft in their work or their use of materials. But I would say that two of my early influences would have been Joel-Peter Witkin who treats confronting content with such beauty and Guy Bourdin who always had such wit and seduction in his pictures. 

3. What inspires you? 

Honestly? Great Art that makes you stand still for longer than 9 seconds and actually makes you feel and experience something. 

4. What makes a good photograph stand out from the rest? 

What is chosen to be left in or out of the frame. It’s not actually about composition but about understanding how your image will be read and how to control your own visual language. 

5. What made you switch from commercial photography to what you are doing today? 

My work has always been content driven. I always found myself wanting to bring in something to give it an edge. Commercial clients always got a little nervous with that. I was always more interested in subverting the image and generating a dialogue rather than merely representing it. 

6. What lies behind the rather sinister and macabre nature of your photographs?

The more bizarre and macabre aspects of human nature have always fascinated me. The things people do provide such great inspiration for my work. As they say, life is stranger than fiction. 

7. In ‘The Ferocious’ and ‘The Fantastical’ sequences that you have put together you have quite a confrontational message regarding femininity and fashion respectively: why did you choose to depict these subjects in this manner? 

Like most women, I spent a lot of time reading fashion magazines as a young girl and was acutely aware of this sense of women's sexuality being something that was scary, uncomfortable and somewhat threatening. I was also aware of this strong sense of fear surrounding the idea of ageing. That ageing is something everyone must avoid at all costs. 

For Monstrous Feminine I was interested to explore these ideas and attitudes. My work aims to hold up a mirror to these ideals and allow people to draw their own conclusions. I suppose this series is quite confrontational, however so is the reality of just how ingrained these attitudes are in our culture. 

Similarly I found myself questioning the role fashion plays in our sense of identity. For example the absurdity of sitting on a 7 year waiting list for a handbag that is essentially a piece of cow skin. Fashion is the vehicle of desire and its job is to sell a fantasy. There is nothing wrong with that per se, however I do think the industry needs to take some responsibility in the way it stereotypes notions of what is ‘desirable’ and the effect that has on the self esteem and behaviour of women, particularly young women. 

8. Would you say that your work is a reaction against your original background in fashion photography? 

Fashion photography is a medium that I understand well. I think there is an interesting dialogue to be had when using an advertising style to generate a dialogue about the industry. Having worked in the industry I understand what goes on behind the lens and what goes into the final image. The use of light, camera lens, make-up, and photo manipulation are all used to create an image that is significantly enhanced from the original. This is the power of photography. We still subconsciously believe that ‘the camera never lies’, but in fact it does it so well you don’t even know you’ve been lied to.

9. Among your work which is your favourite piece and why?

That is a very difficult because I enjoy them all for different reasons. I do love the absurdity of the woman trying to squeeze into her underwear – how many of us have had a moment like that in a changing room?!

10. How do you believe the power of photography can effect social change?

Photography is a medium we are all familiar with therefore it is a language that we can understand and hold a conversation in.
We are completely bombarded with images 24 hours a day so for something to make people stop and take notice means that it must speak to them on some level. 
Art has the capacity to effect social change if it makes people engage and think about something. Photography, through its very expression, is a very powerful tool to generate a dialogue.

I can't thank Jessica Ledwich, enough for sharing with me and you, my lovely readers her motivation and inspiration behind her powerful photographs. Here is a link to her website for you to peruse some more of her incredible works.

Thank you again,

The Raven's Eye Critic

Friday, 7 March 2014

Edinburgh Fringe (Part 2)

Edinburgh Fringe Festival (Part 2)

Now some of the photographs I took had no rhyme or reason to them, they were either things I thought were beautiful, funny or inspiring. So the beginning of this post is going to somewhat stray from tradition a little as I wanted to include them so that you, dear readers might come to see a slightly more personal side to me..

Now I know this sounds ridiculous but the photograph below I took in the Anthropologie store in Edinburgh. When I saw this I immediately fell in love as it so reminded me of something that has come straight out of Tim Walker's world (if you have read my previous posts you will know I much I am in love with his work). 

Myself and Anthropologie have a fairly new relationship and previously I had never really given it a huge amount of thought as I thought it was wildly over priced. However as soon as I entered their store in the centre of Edinburgh I was enchanted. The whole store made me feel like I had stumbled into a Grimm's fairy tale and everything from the door knobs to the walls are so beautifully imagined that I honestly felt as though I was walking around a giant art installation.
Below are some other items in the store I fell in love with!

Now back to the culture! The next gallery pit stop we made was to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery that was exhibiting photographs by Man Ray. The Scottish National Portrait Gallery is one of the most breathtaking buildings in Edinburgh and the inside certainly does not disappoint. The exhibition was held in the Robert Mapplethorpe Photography Gallery which is one vast room split up with large wooden blocks that created the illusion of being more intimate. These smaller areas then focused on different places and times in Man Ray's career. 

The majority of the photographs were black & white however there were a few exceptions. What was interesting about the subjects chosen for the exhibition was that all the portraits were of people who were 'relevant' in his life which included friends and muses, but left out family.

The final piece of art I explored when in Edinburgh was the Peter Doig exhibition 'No Foreign Lands' at The Scottish National Gallery. I had never heard of Doig before but I was completely blown away, so much so that I bought one of those extortionate exhibition posters!
Most of his paintings reflect the time he spent in Trinidad, this can be seen in particular through the colour and rapid brush strokes.

There is certainly a distinct psychedelic effect to his paintings that gives the viewer the feeling that they are part of a hallucinogenic experience and demands us to suspend our disbelief. There are aspects to his work that show that Doig is stylistically similar to the likes of Edvard Munch in terms of his confrontational view of life as well as Gauguin shown in the vivid colour and depictions of the locals in Trinidad. 

I could not recommend Peter Doig more as a painter. If anyone feels the need for escapism track his works down and envelope yourself!

As always a pleasure, your host,

The Ravens Eye Critic

Monday, 6 January 2014

Edinburgh Fringe Part 1

Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2013

Hello there! It has been a very long time since I last wrote a post, various reasons being that I have been working so there has been a severe lack of culture in my life...that is until I went to the Edinburgh Fringe!

I have wanted to go ever since my sister performed in it when she was at school! Every year I read reviews about breathtaking art exhibitions and up and coming comedy acts that have all been displayed at the Fringe, and every year I say to myself I will go, and this year I was lucky enough to finally go!

My mum and I were staying with some family friends who lived on a beautiful road but a stones throw away from the centre of Edinburgh.

Now on to the important stuff...

One of the first things we went to see was the much anticipated 'Castration on a Tennis Court' which was a talk by the renowned art historian Andrew Graham Dixon on the artist Caravaggio. This was one of the talks I had been most excited about seeing as it was on a subject I was particularly interested in and it is widely known that Caravaggio was a complete rogue and also a murderer, so I went in assuming it would be utterly gripping and that I would be on the edge of my seat for the entire wrong I was.

Graham Dixon swaggered on to the stage mumbling and drawling and that was simply the beginning! The entire hour was spent with Graham Dixon giving the audience the feeling that he would rather be anywhere else but there. His droning speech was interjected with constant humorless jokes that left much to be desired and I am afraid that is as much time as I am willing to spend on him.

The next cultural stop we made was at the Scottish National Gallery which was exhibiting 'Witches and Wicked Bodies'. The National Gallery of Modern Art is situated slightly out of the hustle and bustle of the centre of Edinburgh, about fifteen minute walk from Princes street and set in stunning parkland.

This exhibition was beautifully laid out with themes flowing from each room in such a conducive manner that it made the viewer feel as though they weren't wading through numerous rooms. The rooms were all dark grey, which appears to be very popular among curators recently. It was split into six themes/rooms:
Hideous Hags & Seductive Sorceresses,
Unnatural Acts of Flying,
Witches Sabbaths & Devilish Rituals,
Unholy Trinities & Weird Sisters of Macbeth,
Magic Circles & Raising the Dead
The Persistence of Witches

Now, this was quite a niche subject as going around the exhibition there was a wide range of viewers all with different levels of interest, some doing a quick sketch and others simply trying to get round the exhibition as fast as possible. I am sure that many felt it was simply too long and therefore felt it was slightly repetitive but I must say I found it utterly fascinating.

What I particularly enjoyed about the exhibition was the vast range of different mediums used to depict this relatively narrow subject. It spanned from etchings all the way through to photography, with the likes of Goya and Cindy Sherman being included within the exhibition.

However there are a few things that I feel perhaps could have made the exhibiton more streamlined, for example if the small boxes of information were stenciled straight onto the wall rather than being mounted on to pieces of bright white card it would have looked much sleeker and less garish.

Also I know this may sound silly but going through the whole exhibiton there was just one small wooden bench! Most modern galleries have at least one bench per room. Many of the people who visit art galleries can be elderly and to not cater for that seemed to me a pretty obvious flaw.

Another slightly odd compositional flaw was that in some of the rooms there were vast empty mantelpieces with no piece of art above them, simply a bleak, grey wall.

However as an exhibition I found it to be absorbing and interesting and although it is no longer still on there is an exhibition catalogue with the same name. The Scottish National Gallery is definitely worth a visit with some truly stunning works of art and sculpture (Like the below photograph)  as well as soon fairly strange cabinets of curiosities!

There were so many aspects of Edinburgh that I fell in love with that I can't simply put into just one post so watch this space for more on the incredible experience that is The Edinburgh Fringe!

Keep reading, start following...your host...

The Ravens Eye Critic

Monday, 6 May 2013

The Guggenheim (New York 2)

(New York Part 2)

The Guggenheim 

I have been in the midst of exams, revision and essays, so please excuse the tardiness of this post. I have been dying to share with you, my dear readers my truly sensational trip to the Guggenheim when I was in New York.

The way the museum is laid out is truly innovative, the highlights being the light, space and elegantly curved  lines that gives the space a calming feel and the viewer can simply meander up the floors at  ones own pace rather than feeling like cattle being herded from one room to another

It also seems to me to be visually  linked to the new renovated Ashmolean museum in Oxford. The light and space really gives the viewers room to breath and experience the art in a new cutting edge way.

The exhibiton that was on at the time that I was there was called Gutai: Splendid Playground. This was an art movement that I had never heard of so I was intrigued and enthralled by the exhibiton. 

(Work [Water], 1956/2011)
Gutai artworks are mixed installation, performance and site-specific environments that rose from a response to the innovative exhibitions organised by the leader Yoshihara Jiro. The first piece of art that the viewer was confronted with was a documentary film of an outdoor Gutai art exhibiton in 1956. This gave the viewers an introduction into what the Gutai was all about.

Against the backdrop of the fascist unity that was cultivated by the Japanese government during world war II, Gutai stressed the development of the self and originality not as aesthetic but as existential issues. Gutai art was as much about the process of the work as it was the finished piece. There is an energy to this art movement that really reflects how 'the people' were feeling at the time, their release from oppression and their embrace of art as a physical activity.

Shiraga Kazuo’s ‘Work II’ (1958)
The art works gave the viewer a feeling of aggression but interestingly at the same time a hint of playfulness which the artists felt when creating these bold works, it makes us think that perhaps it was almost a  therapeutic way of dealing with the suppressed culture they lived in. 

Another interesting artist that the Guggenheim was exhibiting was Tayeba Begum Lipi, one of Bangladesh's leading contemporary artists. Her installation Love Bed made in 2012 was particularly shocking.

It depicted a double bed made out of razor blades and gave reference to the double kind of political and gender specific violence. The message given by Lipi is that love can often be violent. She has made other objects solely out of razor blades not only to shock but also because through her work she is trying to understand why the notion of beauty is permanently determined by a male audience, hence the inclusion of the razor blades (a predominately male object). 

Another work of art which I really feel I have to include which is part of the Guggenheim's permanent collection is Franz Marc's The Yellow Cow 1911. This is one of my favourite paintings ever and is part of Der Blaue Reiter (Blue Rider) movement which was started by Marc and which Kandinsky later joined. In these paintings Marc developed a theory of colour and symbolism going hand in hand and had strong associations with spiritual values. 

To me looking at this painting simply lifts the heart and gives so much joy, as not only do the colours, but the subject matter which is so bold they seem almost farcical. The vivid cow appears to be floating through the landscape in a meandering almost peaceful nature that gives the viewer a sense of peace and contentment. 

Now my dear readers, a small note to finish with: What I have found recently to be frustrating about art galleries and museums is that no one seems to spend any time over art any more. I believe the average person spends about six seconds on a work and some, not even that. Another pet hate of mine which I found more prevalent in New York than London was the amount of people who simply took photos of the art works but didn't 'look'. I found this particularly shocking when looking at The Scream by Munch (talked about in my last post) that is held at the MoMA. One of the most famous paintings in the world and hardly anyone spent time on it, they simply took a photo and moved on.

I hope you have enjoyed reading some of the highlights of my trip to the Guggenheim and are left with the urge to visit yourself, as it truly is one of the most breathtaking museums in the world.

Once again it has been a pleasure,

The Raven's Eye Critic