Five Art Things? I still haven’t set an actual foot in an actual gallery since the middle of March, it feels strange now to even think of doing so, it feels slightly alien. The last opening and last pint in a pub and last gathering of one of the many art crowds that I was at was way way back in on March 17th. Back in the old world when the notion of going even three or four days without visiting an art gallery was unthinkable. We are still all doing things on line and visiting things on line but it hardly satisfies. But things are opening, really do need to see that Santiago Parra show in the flesh, on-line will just not do for that one. Five art things to go explore then? There are a couple of interesting things happening in galleries that unfortunately continue to insist on charging artists submission fees to just submit an e.mail to their dubious open call shows so we’ll not be covering the latest show at Beers or that other place, not in a hundred years, not until they change the policy and stop exploiting new young artists – you’d like to think that artists not so wet behind the ears would refuse to work with these places, alas not the case, artists on the whole don’t do community and supporting each other that well do they? And galleries never really did care that much about te actual artists did they?
So five art things, five more art things happening righ here, right now, or coming up any moment now, five art shows to check out in the coming days . Hey, I know we said it last time but we will try to do it most weeks now we appear to be coming out of lockdown, and yes this admittedly rather fractured Five Art Things feature was and is intended to be a regular, almost certainly weekly, or something like something near weekly thing – an almost weekly round up of recommended art events. Five shows, exhibitions or things we rather think might be worth checking out. Mostly London things for that is where we currently operate and explore, and like we said last time (and the time before), these five recommendations come, as we already said up there, with no claims that they are “the best five” or the “Top Five”, we’re not one of those annoying art websites that ignore most things whilst claiming to be covering everything and proclaiming this or that to be the “top seven things” or the “best things this weekend”., no, this is simply a regular list of five or so art things coming up soon that we think you might find as interesting as we do, five art things coming in in the next few days in no particular order…
1: Santiago Parra, Upheaval at JD Malat Gallery – a solo exhibition by Colombian artist Santiago Parra, from 15th July to 15th August – Do rather like the look of this one, there is an energy in that paint that is calling out to be seen in the flesh, It is interesting ot see how different artists have reacted to being locked down and to to the emotion of the whole pandemic thing, it will be interesting ot see how work changes as we start to (maybe) emerge –
‘When suddenly without wanting it, my arms lift the brush and a splash marks the beginning of the painting, in stupor I watch how the brush moves up and down, side to side and something gets written down on the canvas, I know it’s my unconscious writing but while it happens I am a witness to it all. When the energy has come out I know it’s time to lift the brush out of the canvas. The painting has now finished, I look up, exhausted, seeing it for the first time, I am surprised, amazed, at how this intriguing image has come out of myself’ – Santiago Parra
“Following Rising Action, the ground breaking solo exhibition that took place in 2018, Santiago Parra is back with his most accomplished body of work to date. Parra has described this exhibition as being more refined and more attuned. He has changed the way paint is applied and chosen deeper blacks with subtle nuances resulting in a more defined brushstroke. The change of style can be attributed to the period of isolation enforced by Covid-19 which had a direct impact on the artist’s aesthetic.
“The exhibition consists of fourteen mid to large format paintings created in a span of six months. These paintings were produced during the Covid-19 lockdown, a time of intense emotional tension for the artist. As a result, immense amounts of energy exude from the paintings. There’s a lot of angularity and composition is highly dynamic while brushstrokes appear to vibrate out of the canvas. Indeed, the artist called the exhibition Upheaval after seeing the paintings together. He liked how the word upheaval refers both to a massive telluric movement and also denotes a violent disruption of his inner feelings.
The subject of these works is simple: Parra yearns to express himself in the freest possible way. In this quest, he has found automatism which was a technique developed by Surrealists, its goal is to express one’s inner world in the purest most accurate way without the control or judgement of social pressures exerted by consciousness. One prerequisite to this kind of work is having the real urge to do it. Parra explains that his ‘objective is to let the practice develop on its own, the less conscious intervention the better’. Covid-19 really helped the artist reach his ideal aesthetic by creating new emotions inside of him that led to these tormented yet energetic canvases.
Every element of the painting: the brush, the paint and the canvas are chosen following the principle of automatism, respecting the inner voice that decides without doubting it, the aim is to empower the natural creative instinct. With everything ready Parra stands in front of the canvas and a multitude of feelings start to affect him, anguish, pleasure, fear, confidence… Here the objective is to decant one’s mind and calm down, breathing is important in the way that each breath has its own tune and one has to find the one that attunes with the canvas. As Parra explains ‘The concentration is beyond intense, every nerve on my body crisps, my muscles vibrate with tension and I begin to roar in an attempt to conquer the canvas, this can last for hours…’
Since Rising Action, Parra had a daughter which he said has changed him in a way that he had not expected, he has become more focused, clearer minded and this has undoubtedly translated into his work. In addition, Covid-19 has given Parra the opportunity to rethink his place in life, to question his values and aspirations. The upheaval that many worldwide experienced during the pandemic seems ever so accurately portrayed in his monochrome paintings. Now more than ever, Parra’s greatest desire is to make truthful art. If this is indeed the case then his desire is fulfilled, as Upheaval is the greatest portrait of truth one could wish for”.
JD Malat Gallery, 30 Davies Street, London, W1K 4NB. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am to 6pm.
2: Dale Lewis – The Great Day at Edel Assanti – Edel Assanti is pleased to announce that the gallery will be reopening in late July with Dale Lewis’ third exhibition at the space, a show called The Great Day. “The gallery will be open on a by appointment basis, allowing for socially distanced exhibition visits in a safe environment”.
“The Great Day is Lewis’ largest work to date – measuring 36 metres in length, the work will wrap around the full perimeter of the gallery. Reading from left to right, the work depicts a continuous linear narrative, recalling the pictorial systems of medieval tapestries and ancient hieroglyphs. The painting borrows its title from one of the first films that Alfred Hitchcock worked on in 1920. Whilst the title conjures a narrative as spectacular as the scale of the painting itself, the events it depicts embody the banality, melancholy and intensity of everyday inner-city London life.
The painting follows the artist’s walk to and from his studio in Bow on any given day. It begins at Lewis’ flat in an ungentrified area of Leytonstone, a few doors from Hitchcock’s childhood home. We see the artist on the toilet, cigarettes and brushes in-hand contemplating a day of painting ahead. The narrative unfolds onto the street outside the flat: garbage litters an alleyway inhabited by the ominous alcoholics Lewis crosses paths with each day. The artist’s route continues past a Wetherspoons pub where he often stops for breakfast, and scene by scene, progresses past a bus stop, laundrette, barbershop, meat market, until finally – in an allegory for the exhaustion following the completion of his monumental project – the story closes on a collapsing Lewis in a pub toilet cubicle.
Whilst compositionally Lewis’ work is often informed by compositional structures from Renaissance paintings, in its grotesque yet tender depictions of urban society’s underbelly, The Great Day partakes in a British tradition of social realism. The timeless scenes of the painting permit defining conversations of our era to seep through their cracks, traversing themes of national identity, multiculturalism, 9-5 jobs, mental health, religion, class and wealth divides. In Lewis’ hands, the ordinary is rendered extraordinary through humorous and grotesque cameos: mice share a diner’s fried eggs whilst a baby casually puffs on a cigarette under a chair; the barber scissors off a punter’s tongue; decapitated heads bounce around the wheels of spinning washing machines.
Whereas in previous works large areas of the canvas’ surface were left raw and intentionally underworked, here Lewis’ compositions are densely layered with generous applications of paint that reveal the artist’s lyrical, gestural approach to a tightly organised picture plane. The hallucinant atmosphere of Lewis’ compositions is born from his practice of creating work from memories of real experiences and witnessed events. The orgiastic scenes cannot neatly be described as inside or outside, daytime or night, but they are enhanced by the collapsing of depth of field into a flat plane, where characters, objects and scenes all compete for volume.
Whilst The Great Day was conceived one year before the period defined by Covid-19, the subject matter of Lewis’ monumental work feels all the more prescient today. The painting provides full immersion in the suffocation of London life and its protagonists, inducing concurrent feelings of claustrophobia and isolation. In Lewis’ words, the outcome of “having sex, drugs and alcohol on tap – never treading on a piece of grass, an endless waking nightmare of sirens and screams.”
The show will run from the 17th July until 19th Sept 2020. More details via the gallery website. Edel Assanti is 74A Newman Street, London, W1T 3DB
3: Mevlana Lipp: Calypso at Public – 15th July to 7th August 2020 – Publc get to open their new space at last, seems like a decade ago they said they were moving – “Public Gallery will inaugurate its new London space with an exhibition of new paintings by German artist Mevlana Lipp” they say. Another space run by curators who never ever seem to take that much interest in the art being made on their own doorstep, they do put on good shows though, here’s what they have to say about the new show – .
“Marking Lipp’s debut solo presentation in the UK, Calypso will feature twelve works that expand upon the artist’s dynamic use of colour, dimensionality and shape. Existing between painting and sculpture, Lipp’s work explores the mysteries of the natural world through hybridisations of humans and plants. In particular, this new body of work explores Lipp’s interest in primordial life forms; in which curling tendrils, pulsating bodies and luminous colours are envisaged by the artist as signifiers of human emotions and experiences. In Lipp’s words:
‘My work deals with communication –– it is about human experiences, encounters, that take place primarily on an emotional level without relying on rationality. The biomorphic plant beings in my paintings move in an archaic state of unconscious action –– they embody feelings like lust, fear, fusion, security, joy or sadness.’
Central to Lipp’s practice is his ability to create otherworldly compositions that challenge the perception of space, exemplified by his use of velvet backgrounds that appear as bottomless voids, as well as the array of textures and contrasting radiant colours of his central forms. Lipp expands the physical presence of his work by punctuating the velvet with pieces of wood so that each painting protrudes from the wall as sculpture.
Calypso brings these paintings, including some of the largest works Lipp has made to date, together to show the full breadth of the artist’s exploration of illusory space. Imploring a spiritual energy, the paintings depict the essence of primordial life deeply, sensually, and openly”.
4: Sue Fitzgerald at Catto Gallery – 18th July – 5th August 2020 – “One of the country’s great colourists, the joy of Sue Fitzgerald’s work lies in its beauty – vibrant fabrics and Chinese pots compete with flowers and fruit, heightened by stunning coloured backgrounds” so say the gallery and yes, there is something delightful in a positively polite kind of almost harmless Hampstead kind of way, which kinds of sounds like I’m insulting things when really I’m not. Catto is at 100 Heath Street, Hampstead, London, NW3 1DP
5: Al Braitwaite Left Blood on the Door at Ruby Cruel until 8th August – “I sleep with a stone in my mouth, until one day I sleep with a tongue of stone, and a pillow stone almost the shape of my heart”.
“Literally taking its name from the result of an accident the artist had on his first visit to Ruby Cruel, Al Braithwaite’s show, Left Blood on the Door, presents a selection of small scale pieces from his Works in Stone series. The sculptures have a tactile quality about them whose selection may unconsciously relate to the hand the artist damaged here. The aggressive materials employed make them somewhat unnerving and uncomfortable, perhaps a nod to that moment of pain he suffered. Displayed in the window, the works are intended to be hurried past but should stick in the amygdala (the centre of emotion and memory in the brain) of passers-by long after Covid-19 is no longer their primary preoccupation”.
Al Braithwaite is a conceptual artist whose work is characterised by his combinations of disparate materials. His use of hybrid textures plays a key role in his practice. Al works across multiple disciplines, showing among a diverse group of international artists and is in numerous private and public collections. Al Braithwaite lives and works London, England. Exhibition runs July 12 – Aug 8. Visible at all times from the street.
Ruby Cruel is at 250 Morning Lane, London, E9 6RQ
And while were here we shuold blow our own trumpets again
The third and final Cultivate on-line show durng this lockdown period is now live and can be viewed over on the Organ website via this link.
“And with good reason” she said, (And with good) Reason then, a third and final on-line art exhibition brought to you by Cultivate during these strange locked-down virus-fearing times. When we first planned April’s #43Artists show, the first of what has now become a trilogy of on-line exhibitions, we had no idea that this Covid thing was coming and that our gallery doors would have to close with very very little warning – yes, we had planned an on-line show in April anyway, before what would have been more physical shows in May. Lockdown (and the financial fallout that has followed) had of course put a stop to all current physical shows (as well as future plans) and so one on-line exhibition quickly evolved and became three, this is the third.
This time we have 39 artists and two hundred (images of) pieces of art, once again the show is brought to you by Cultivate founders Emma Harvey and myself, Sean Worrall, this time we have selected, invited and including 37 of our fellow artists to show work along side some of our own pieces. Once again we have some names probably familiar to Cultivate regulars, we have some artists who have never been involved Cultivate shows before (this is our 156th show under the Cultivate banner), and we have some artists making their debuts with us, indeed some we’d not heard of less that a month ago (always exciting searching for new artists). And, yes, while looking at art on line can never ever be a serious substitute for exploring it in an actual physical gallery, there are some advantages in that we can give you those vital links and let you go explore beyond our exhibition, we can also feature the work of people from all over the world, rather than just work from those who can realistically get their work to us for a physical show here in London.
This bit is important, those links (and using them) are so vitally important and so this time, rather than actually tell you what you’re looking at in terms of a description, a tittle, a size, an indication of medium and such like we have done with the previous on-line shows, this time we’ve decided we’re deliberately just going to give you the name of the artist and then at the foot of the exhibition we’re going to give you the link to each of the artists in the hope that you will (please) go and find out more, that you will go and explore, maybe communicate, that you will go find out if their paintings are big, if they work in oil or id they paint with a Polaroid camera or make linoprints of Joan Jett or acrylic paints of fruit or if their installations go further than what you see on this page – what is Lidia Lidia’s art about? Who is Jessica Hill? how big or small are those wonderful Liz Griffiths pieces? This time we’ve decided to only give you the visual information and very little else besides that all important link and rather then labelling each piece in the traditional way, this time, with good reason, all you are going to get is the image, the name and the link, all about those links that take you further.
It has been exciting exploring all the art for these three shows, exploring the artist’s websites, exploring the responses to the open call element of these three shows (this time 14 of the 39 artists involved were via an open call), personally I’ve enjoyed that part of the lockdown that has been the hours and days putting together these three, we have no idea what the future holds right now for us as artists or indeed for us as the people who bring you Cultivate but if this is it (and we really hope it isn’t, a tiny bit of that emergency funding that Art Council England have been dishing out too so many others would have been helpful when we really really needed a lifeline), if this is the last Cultivate exhibition then I think these three on-line shows following on from the success of the Nothing is Square Part Two show over by Columbia Road here in East London back in March have been good strong positive notes to end it all on. .Do please explore the art and enjoy it as much as we have enjoyed putting it together, do hit some of those links and do watch this space with good reason. Thanks everyone, keep looking, keep creating, contact and switch the other, this thing will not blow over, hopefully there will be more cultivating, art is a force for good, it bring people together in the right way and right now we really need that (sw) .
The third and final Cultivate on-line show durng this lockdown period is now live and can be viewed over on the Organ website via this link.
Previously: 7th July 2020 – ORGAN: Five Recommended Art Things – Luke Jordan live from Gallery 46, Hell Gette at Annka Kultys Gallery, Khadija Saye, Breath is Invisible, Luke Ratz at Cave Pimlico, Expectations is reopening at Emalin…