Tuesday, 15 August 2017

Giacometti at Tate Modern

It's been an age since Giacometti had an exhibition in London, but what a disappointingly small one this was. There were too few rooms. I reached the end before I had really started.

Tiny sculptures that my old eyes can barely make out, especially if they are tucked behind poorly lit glass, large works that in all honesty I have seen many times before, and some of which are not actually that interesting, and the dark palette of his paintings, had me scratching my head, again.

Yes, I get it, working and reworking and paring down to the essence, with a limited number of sitters, but perhaps something more cheerful? Easy for me to say, as I did not live through the horrors of war or the immediate post-war reality of Europe.


Monday, 14 August 2017

Another good reason to go to Birmingham

Wandering recently, I found myself in the church that became a cathedral in the town that became a city, and huge surprise, the stained glass was designed by Burne-Jones and manufactured by William Morris. Who knew?

There are four huge panels, three behind the altar and one at the rear of the cathedral, all in luminous red and blue. Interestingly, and out of the usual chronology, the ascension is directly behind the altar and the crucifixion to the right.

My favourite was the birth of Jesus, especially the shepherds and the heavenly host appearing above a very gothic wood, not bare grassy slopes.

Worth a detour, even if you have to wait a few minutes for a wedding party to vacate the premises.

Thursday, 3 August 2017

The Soul of a Nation - Tate Modern

Generally excellent, expect it to be absolutely packed out, so be patient and you will have the chance to view the work in the gaps between people. This is a must see show of black art from 1963 to the early 1980s, covering the civil rights movement. It introduced me to artists I have never heard of, let alone seen. That is shameful as some of the paintings are wonderful.

There are films and much printed matter to read, so expect to take it slowly. The only part that lost my attention was as the exhibition moved away from its political focus to art in general. OK abstraction is abstraction is abstraction, but this seemed to be going beyond the brief unnecessarily.

My favourites were the gilded paintings and the remade African art, voodoo altars and the like. I am still astonished that such protest and response has taken place in my lifetime. A reminder as I get on that much has changed and for the better, but that much still needs to change. Ten out of ten.

Poetry submissions

Gosh, it's hard work. Akin to having another job. You write the work and then you have the complicated and time consuming task of sending it out to journals and magazines asking their kind, overworked and underpaid editors to consider it for publication.

You have to keep track of what you've sent to whom, avoid multiple submissions, follow the formatting and other submission guidelines to the letter or be summarily rejected. There's no excuses for not doing as you are asked, but when you are having a marathon session it's enough to drive the poor poet crazy.

Thank goodness, for the most part, for submittable, which certainly cuts down on all that paper, postage and packaging. I don't know why more journals don't switch to it now. On environmental grounds alone, it is surely the way to go, no?

I think the only reason for not using electronic means for submissions and reviewing work must be to maintain a barrier - only the very determined will apply by printing and posting. But equally only the well off will apply - postage is a factor and it's not cheap, and have you seen the price of printer ink these days?

I'm still umming and ahhing as to whether it is worth sending my work to places demanding such an investment on my part when the chances of me knowing quite what was in the editors mind when she started to put the edition together are slim, and bearing in mind that very few publications actually pay their contributors.

It's a thought in progess. I shall think on.

Monday, 24 July 2017

Gillian Ayres at the Museum of Wales

It takes a certain degree of chutzpah to be this bold and huge with your work, but if you like your abstracts eye-wateringly bright and best viewed from as far away as the gallery space will afford, then this is the show for you.

Cardiff plays host to Gillian Ayres this summer. I'm not entirely sure why, but the National Museum decided to hang the show in reverse chronological order. Something of a pointless gesture if you ask me. I resisted being directed in this way and saw them in the order of making, preferring the earlier to the later, as well as her works on paper.

It was a welcome refuge from the more or less constant rain of the last two weeks, but I did feel sorry for all that day's graduands and graduates taking shelter in the museum as a good back drop for their photographs.

Saturday, 24 June 2017

Grayson Perry at the Serpentine Gallery

 The tongue in cheek Most Popular Art Exhibition Ever! is indeed proving so, given that I made the school girl error of trying to get in on the first Saturday afternoon after it opened. But the 40 minute queue was worth it.

I love Grayson Perry, and so it seems does everyone else. Who would have thunk it that a transvestite potter, as he describes himself, would become a living national treasure, yet he and his alter-ego, Claire, have.

Yes, he makes some obvious points, but they are ones worth making and his affectionate portrait of the nation is one we need to look at in these troubled times.

Thinking about the great inequalities in our country, whilst celebrating all its eccentricities is the order of the day in everything from the pair of Brexit pots, one of which is ever so slightly bigger than the other, to the wall sized tapestries, such as the stereotype map of Britain and the even larger one portraying our urban landscape complete with a traffic jam, burning car in a scrubby field, and grafittied skate park, to the personalised motorbike and cycle, to his sketch books.

The Serpentine has packed its three rooms with much to consider and the irony of buying a The Liberal Elite fridge magnet was not lost on me.

Monday, 24 April 2017

David Hockney and Queer Art at Tate Britain

So, OK, David Hockney is the fastest selling show, the longest opening, etc. and he seems the most popular living British artist. And yes, I do enjoy his work from the earliest through the swimming pools, to the Californian and East Yorkshire landscapes to the latest ipad work, the colours, the confidence with shape, all well exemplified in this major retrospective.

But at this point I am thinking it is all a bit over-hyped. Go in your thousands if you must, but I think I have seen rather too much of his work. I am jaded and cynical.

Queer Art was something else. It is a melange of homoerotic art, hidden messages and work by queer artists to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary this year of the decriminalization of homosexual acts. All very laudable and some of my favourite paintings were there, especially Vita Sackville-West in her red hat.

But, it was too much of a mishmash for me: a wide swathe of chronological time, a disparate collection of images and objects. I spent far too much time reading things in order to be told their significance. That is not the mark of a successful art exhibition. I am meant to be swept up in the work, not having a lengthy history lesson in order to appreciate it. Still, worth a peek if you are passing.