Oh, I don’t know, this five art things to go check out feature is kind of shot to pieces now. The regular feature was supposed to be about five upcoming art shows that we were excited about, five recommended art exhibitions that are about to open, a selection of the five most exciting openings selected from the many (many) coming up. Back in the old world of 2019 we were out at art shows three or four times a week, back in the old world we artists would be painting and plotting and hanging art and showing our work on a weekly basis, we’d be sharing galley space with each other, there would be opening night parties, we’d be selling art to cover the studio bills and such, we’d be meeting people, we’d be going to each other’s shows, see those faces we’d meet again and again, the people who came to see the art, our art, the buyers, the collectors, the art followers, the bloggers, the Instagramers, the many people who make up the art scene, the art scenes, the art tribes. I’ve hardly seem any of my fellow artists since the shutdown last March, I’ve been to a small handful of shows over the last ten months, I’ve talked to lots of artists, people are struggling, mentally, physically, financially. Right now it fees like art is more important than ever
It feels like art is more important than ever right now. The connection that a gallery or a collection artists can provide to both each other and to the wider community. The thing I miss more than anything about not being able to put on an open-door physical gallery show, the thing I miss even more than being able to knock nails in to a wall and hanging art, the thing I miss even more than the buzz of an opening night and the gathering together of artists and art followers, more than the selecting and the “hey, come see this new painter we just found”, the thing I miss more than all of that is the locals that would regularly come in. I miss the conversations with the regulars, the people who from the estate by the Shipton Street space, the French woman who works in the local supermarket who always came to the shows, the mums and dads who would bring their kids in to our Cultivate shows. The retired council worker who always wanted to be an artist but hasn’t yet let me see anything he’s done. I miss the conversations, the people, the engagement that art affords, those conversations about a particular painting on a wall, about art in general, the conversations that start with “I don’t really understand art”. Art needs to be about people, about community, about engagement, about sharing…
We fished a young artist’s equipment out of a skip a couple of days ago, some of his possessions had been thrown there after his flat had been cleared, his bits and pieces couldn’t be left there, it was the last indignity. To my utter regret I didn’t really get to know him that well, little more than a passing hello and a short bite of conversation. I won’t mention his name here out of respect for him and his family, he jumped out of a window and landed with a crash right outside the studio here late on Christmas Eve. Obviously it wasn’t good, details aren’t needed, he quietly died there surrounded by battling medics early on the morning of Christmas gsy. His flat was cleaned out by workmen a couple of days ago. He was 25, an art student who lived in the flats above the studio here in Hackney. Right now art seems more important than ever, community feels more important than ever, creativity feels more important that ever, people pulling together feels more important than ever, the act of making and doing and sharing and being, and checking on each other. Right now making art, sharing art, showing art. Art feels more important than ever right now.
And so for now it has to mostly be about art events happening on line, and here, in no particular order are five art shows that are catching out eye. Once again we’re not talking a “top five” or anything like that, What we have here are five art things that have caught our eye.
1: Peter Prendergast at Messum’s Gallery – We were really looking forward t othis one, it was scheduled to physically open on January 6th, it didn’t of coutse, although you can see some pieces in the gallery window at the moment. You can view the drawings and paintrings here and well, as we said late last yearwhen we posted a preview piece, there’s a beautiful energy to a Peter Prendergast drawing and especially to a Peter Prendergast painting (I almost said big painting but they’re all big really even the smallest ones). He said so so much with every mark he made, with that sometimes almost violent way he made those marks. No, it wasn’t violence, it was commitment, a commitment to the mark. His commitment to both the painting and to an ever changing Welsh landscape that he really did paint so so wonderfully…. read on
2: Josef Herman at Albany Gallery, Cardiff – The Albany Gallery, will host its Annual Winter Show exclusively online on this month. This exhibition will feature a selection of the gallery’s most popular and highly regarded artists including Nick Holly, Theo Crutchley-Mack, Peter Kettle FRSA and Aled Prichard Jones, brightening what otherwise is more often than not a gloomy time of year for most.
The main thing interesting us though is the news that the gallery will also be showcasing collection of more than 100 previously unseen, preparatory paintings and drawings from the sketchbooks of Josef Herman (1911-2000). This exhibition coincides with what would have been his 110th birthday and February marks 21 years since his passing at the age of 89. The original owner of the gallery Mary Yapp visited Josef Herman and his wife Nini regularly during his lifetime. At these visits Mary would attend the studio and Josef would ask her to select items from his sketchbook to take back to the gallery. The works in this collection were brought from Josef Herman’s studio in the 1980s but some date from earlier periods of his career. The work in both exhibitions can be viewed through the website www.albanygallery.com
3: Chila Burman has been one of the few bright lights over the last few weeks with her work outside The Tate. Russell Tovey & Robert Diament‘s TalkArt episode with Chila Burman is well worth a listen – “Russell & Robert meet British artist Dr Chila Kumari Singh Burman who has recently transformed the front of Tate Britain into a celebration of bright lights and swirling colour for their annual Winter Commission. This extraordinary work has brought much needed joy to Londoners during the recent lockdown, due to its outdoors location on Tate’s Millbank façade. Since the late-1970s, Burman has explored the experiences and aesthetics of Asian femininity in paintings and installations, photography and printmaking, video and film. In more recent works, this theme has taken on a new power and vibrancy. Challenging stereotypical assumptions of Asian women, her work is informed by popular culture, Bollywood, fashion, found objects, the politics of femininity, the celebration of feminity; self-portraiture exploring the production of her own sexuality and dynamism; the relationship between popular culture and high art; gender and identity politics…. read on or listen to the episode here
4: Polina Barskaya – “Taymour Grahne Projects is pleased to present ‘Time Passing’, an online solo exhibition by Brooklyn-based Russian artist Polina Barskaya”. The show is on-line here until January 27th
Barskaya’s confessional portraits have a diaristic quality to them. Working from photographs, but allowing for artistic liberties, Barskaya depicts herself, her child and her husband within a domestic space. These portraits are either in the artist’s home in Brighton Beach, Brooklyn or in various accommodations visited throughout her frequent travels (ranging from Upstate, NY to Venice, Italy). Mired in quotidian details, each psychological drama is charged with longing, sexuality and self-reflection.
Barskaya’s paintings hone in on the psychological intensity of their subjects. Within enclosed spaces, Barskaya often uses windows and light to create a sense of disconnect and isolation. Quiet, and still, with rumbling under tones, her paintings are stories about the human condition. Through a combination of vulnerability and power, Barskaya unravels the complexity of life in her sincere portraits.
In the first work of this show titled ‘Lounging in Tsagarada’, echoes of Pierre Bonnard and Giorgio Morandi are evident in the use of light and color. A nude man is depicted lounging in bed in an impersonal room with an empty desk and nightstand. Perhaps he is just waking up or returning from a swim on a summer day. A conspicuous pair of bright blue shoes stand out against a pale pink floor acting like another cast of characters within this setting. Barskaya’s paintings comment on the power of vulnerability and the strangeness of place.
5: Jeanne Golightly – Migrations at CollexArt – “Jeanne Golightly uses her brush to draw attention to social issues. She examines topics such as racism, borders, refugees, migration, and displacement. In her work, she explores “the role of hope in the human condition and considers, with interest and wonder, those who move along uncertain paths toward unknowable futures.” With this group of paintings, Golightly captures the loss of individuality that people experience as they join mass migrations. By painting aerial views of featureless migrants, her work offers a critique of how governments and media depict refugees and migrants as nameless, faceless masses who have no voice. With titles like Long They Wait, Hope Series No. 17, and Neither Here Nor There, Golightly underscores the predicament migrants find themselves in our present-day world. Jeanne Golightly resides in the USA and has also lived in Germany, Jordan, Kuwait, Bahrain, and the United Arab Emirates” View the paintings here
And while we’re here, there’s a rather good piece on the Artlyst website right now, Richard Long: A Line Made By Walking 1967 – Significant Works, a piece by Sue Hubbard, you can read it here
6; ReCultivate – The current Cultivate group show, ReCultivate is of course hosted on these Organ pages. A carefully curated group show featuring 170 works from some 35 artists gathered together in one plac in simple slide show form, view it all here. The Christopher Tansey pieces as well as the Suzie Pindar piece on this page are both featured in the ReCultivate show.