Monday, 20 December 2010

Don Van Vliet, 1941 - 2010

Don Van Vliet (Captain Beefheart) died on 17th December, 2010.

Captain Beefheart, Mojave Desert, 1980; photograph by Anton Corbijn.

Musician and painter, Van Vliet was a true artist: original, eccentric and uncompromising. With The Magic Band he produced a series of extraordinary albums, including what is widely regarded as his masterpiece: Trout Mask Replica, 1969. Accounts of the bizarre and traumatic circumstances of the recording of this album are legendary. (Fast and Bulbous... Tapered, too.)

Trout Mask Replica
, 1969, album cover
I never saw Captain Beefheart perform, but I treasure seeing 'Captain Beefheart's Magic Band' (that is, without the Captain) at the Carling Academy in Bristol in 2004. The Magic Band, in this instance, were Mark 'Rockette Morton' Boston and John 'Drumbo' French (both contributors to Trout Mask Replica) plus Gary 'Mantis' Lucas and Denny 'Feelers Rebo' Walley (both contributors to later albums).
In 1982 Van Vliet retired from music to devote himself to painting.

Don Van Vliet, Rolled Roots Gnarled Like Rakers, 1985 (Michael Werner Gallery)
Read obituaries and appreciations by, Caroline Boucher, Alexis Petridis, Sean O'Hagan. See also The Captain Beefheart Radar Station.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Tacita Dean - Turbine Hall commission

I am very excited to learn that Tacita Dean, one of my favourite artists, has been given the daunting challenge of taking on the Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall installation, next year (to be unveiled 11th October, 2011).

Tacita Dean (photo: Frith Street Gallery)
Dean has worked in a variety of media – drawing, sound, found objects, photographs - but is, perhaps, best known for her 16mm films – Laura Cumming, reviewing Dean’s recent Craneway Event (a film of Merce Cunningham rehearsing his dancers in a disused Ford assembly plant in San Francisco) called her the great poet of art film.
Brian Dillon, writing in Tate Etc identifies Dean’s characteristic attraction to objects that speak of a future that never came: Such structures seem to bypass the present, setting up instead a strange relay between past and future, between utopia and nostalgia.
Dean’s poetic meditations include: Fernsehturm, the revolving restaurant at the top of Berlin’s television tower; Sound Mirrors: the spooky 1930s pre-radar, concrete listening devices in Kent; Bubble House, the abandoned futuristic house in the Cayman Islands - discovered by Dean when researching material for another work, Teignmouth Electron, the bizarre story of Donald Crowhurst, the hopelessly ill-prepared lone yachtsman who entered the 1969 round-the-world race, faked his logbooks and disappeared.
Tacita Dean: (top) still from Bubble House, 1999 (16mm colour film, 7 mins.); (bottom) still from Sound Mirrors, 1999 (16mm black and white film, 7 mins.)
Dean’s films are typically slow, and elegiac, the static camera’s gaze lingering on her subjects; it will be interesting to see what she does in the vast space of the Turbine Hall.
Tacita Dean is represented by Frith Street Gallery
Selected bibliography
Cumming, Laura (2001) "It's All Done with Sound Mirrors", The Observer, 4th March
Dean. Tacita (2005) Berlin Works, London: Tate St Ives
Dean, Tacita (1999) Teignmouth Electron, London: Book Works
Dean, Tacita and Millar, Jeremy (2005) Place, London: Thames & Hudson
Dillon, Brian (2005) "The History of Future Technology", Tate Etc, Issue 5, Autumn
Searle, Adrian (2001) "Age and Beauty", The Guardian, 20th February

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Exhibition Roundup - December 2010

An occasional, and highly selective, pick of current and forthcoming exhibitions.

Len Lye, still from Colour Box, 1935

The Ikon Gallery is presenting the first ever UK retrospective of Len Lye (1901-1980). Lye is best known for his extraordinary hand-painted films made in the 1930s in the UK and in the 1950s in New York. Astonishingly, his early ground-breaking avant-garde films were sponsored by the General Post Office through the work of the GPO Film Unit. (In fact, the GPO Film Unit, under the leadership of John Grierson, was a major sponsor of innovative and experimental film-making). Watch Colour Box (1935) and other films on YouTube.
The Ikon exhibition, which includes Lye's film, painting, sculpture and drawing is on until 13th February, 2011. Read Laura Cumming's review.

More colourful abstraction can be seen at the National Gallery, where Bridget Riley is showing Paintings and Related Work until 22nd May, 2011. See reviews by Adrian Searle and Laura Cumming.

Bridget Riley, Red with Red, 2007

The Lisson Gallery is showing a pair of abstract painters: the recently 'discovered' Cuban, Carmen Herrera and British, Stroud based, painter Peter Joseph. Herrera, born in 1915 has been developing her abstract style since the 1940s but only sold her first painting in 2004 at the age of 89. Read Laura Cumming's review of Herrera's exhibition at the Ikon Gallery, last year.

Carmen Herrera, Blue with Orange, 1984

Peter Joseph, an admirer of Rothko and Newman, employs a methodology associated with Renaissance painters to produce precisely toned two-colour canvases.

Peter Joseph, Turquoise and Grey, 2006

Also at The Lisson Gallery is an exhibition by Ceal Floyer whose multimedia works combine conceptualism and minimalism. The current show includes "Things" which is described on the Lisson Gallery website, as follows: A cluster of plinths stand in an empty room each emitting at different intervals in real time the word "things”, the only audible section from otherwise silenced pop songs. However, apart from the plinths themselves, no ‘things’ are present in the room.

Ceal Floyer, Things, 2009

Victoria Miro is presenting a rare show of the work of Francesca Woodman. Woodman died at the age of 22 in 1981, but left a substantial portfolio of work exploring the self and the body. See Sean O'Hagan's review. The exhibition continues until 22nd January.

Francesca Woodman, Untitled, Rome, Italy, 1977-1978

The Serpentine Gallery is presenting multimedia work by the Algerian, Philippe Parreno. The Serpentine describes the installation as a scripted space in which a series of events unfolds. In his enthusiastic review Adrian Searle describes his journey through the 4 short film and video works which comprise the exhibition. See also review by Laura Cumming.

Philippe Parreno, still from Invisible Boy, 2010

Most of the exhibitions listed in the November Roundup will run through December - see below, for details.

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Longstone + The Land of Nod - Xposed Club, 10th December

Poster by Mark Unsworth
Longstone, the experimental electronica duo, Mike Cross and Mike Ward, are making a welcome return to Xposed Club with a performance on Friday, 10th December. Listen to a sample of their wonderful 2009 album, Kabuki, at MySpace.
["electronic circuit bending drum programming analogue modular slide guitarring oscillatory low pass filtering junk percussion sax blowing voltage controlled glacial funk"]
The Land of Nod (another duo - Anthony Walker and David Battersby) will also be playing. This will be their first live gig for five years, when they headlined the John Peel night in Cheltenham. (In 2003 they recorded a session for John Peel’s Radio 1 show.)
Xposed Club: in the atrium, Pittville Studios, Cheltenham on Friday 10th December. £5.00 (£3.00 concs.) on the door, starts 8.00pm.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Deutsche Börse Photography Prize - shortlist

The shortlisted artists for the 2011 Deutsche Börse Photography Prize have been announced. They are:
Thomas Demand

Thomas Demand, Haltestelle, 2009

Roe Ethridge

Roe Ethridge, Thanksgiving, 1984, 2009

Jim Goldberg

Jim Goldberg, Democratic Republic of Congo, 2008

Elad Lassry

Elad Lassry, Lipstick, 2009

The artists' work will be exhibited at Ambika P3, University of Westminster, 2nd - 30th April, 2011, and the winner will be announced on the 26th April.
Read Sean O'Hagan's article, Do the Deutsche Börse Photography prize jury really get photography? His title references an article by Paul Graham in American Suburb X: Photography & Culture, in which he remarks that there [is] a sizeable part of the art world that simply does not get photography.

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Jeremy Duncan - Summerfield Gallery, Pittville Studios

Concurrent with the Lisa Milroy exhibition, "In the Black" (see below), Jeremy Duncan is showing paintings in the Summerfield Gallery: "A Certain Slant of Light: paintings of London, Paris & New York, 2005-8". Duncan describes his studies of the play of light on architectural details - including disused warehouses, buildings being demolished, new flats being built - as almost a form of abstracted realism. (See Artist's Statement, Waterhouse & Dodd Contemporary.)

Jeremy Duncan, Mott Street, 2008

Jeremy Duncan, Centre Georges Pompidou, 2008
The exhibition will be open until 17th December, 2010 - The Summerfield Gallery is at Pittville Studios, University of Gloucestershire, Albert Road, Cheltenham, GL52 3JG. Jeremy Duncan is represented by Waterhouse & Dodd Contemporary.

Monday, 22 November 2010

Lisa Milroy: "In the Black" - Summerfield Gallery, Pittville

In the Black, an exhibition of paintings by Lisa Milroy will be in the Summerfield Gallery at Pittville Studios in Cheltenham (University of Gloucestershire) 24th November – 17th December 2010.

Following her graduation from Goldsmiths in 1982, Lisa Milroy achieved early success with her paintings of still life objects (shoes, light bulbs, melons,…) the motifs painted in sensual bravura strokes on plain, neutral backgrounds.

Lisa Milroy, Shoes, 1985 (Collection: Tate Gallery)

Lisa Milroy, Light Bulbs, 1988 (Collection: Tate Gallery)

Later work includes architectural subjects (the Travel Paintings), portraits and Japanese interiors and figures (Geishas).

Top: Lisa Milroy, Room, 1997 (Collection: Tate Gallery); bottom: Lisa Milroy, Girl, 1998 (Collection: Tate Gallery)

For this exhibition, In the Black, Lisa Milroy has selected fifteen paintings from 1984 to 2009 to present the use of black in her work. In a text written for the show, Milroy describes the role played by shadows in her still life paintings:

The darkest area in my painting is the point at which the object and ground meet in shadow. ‘Darkest’ does not always mean black, although this dark can feel like black. The black of a painted shoe has a different material quality than the black in a painted shadow. Both allude to different realities, the shoe tangible, factual, ordinary, the shadow suggested, felt, mysterious.

She describes, in detail, making, and applying, black:

I make my own black paint by mixing ultramarine blue and burnt umber. I only use black straight out of the tin for painting a ground or as a glaze, or for drawing on the canvas when I need a line both fluid and pigment-rich. Emotionally, it feels quite different to use readymade black as opposed to black I make myself. My own black feels more intimate, a part of me, like my own shadow. Readymade black is more a tool, functional. Independent from me, readymade black paint is less emotionally charged.

A shadow in my painting binds an object to the ground. My shadows are made from ultramarine blue, burnt umber and titanium white which produces a soft gray. For a hot or warm shadow, I add a touch of yellow ochre or alizarin crimson to the mix and for a cooler shadow, I add more ultramarine blue. To paint a shadow, I start by brushing my own black paint to the right of the object. Then I paint the gray component next to it. To finish, I blend the black at the edge of the object into the gray area and the gray area into the off-white ground that surrounds the object.

Lisa Milroy is the Head of Graduate Painting, Slade School of Fine Art, UCL; she is represented by Alan Christea Gallery. Read an interview in RA Magazine, Autumn 2009, Issue 104.

Installation view

The following items are available in Pittville Learning Centre:

Bradley, Fiona (2001) Lisa Milroy, London: Tate Gallery
Chisenhale Gallery (1995) Lisa Milroy: Travel Paintings, London: Chisenhale Gallery
Lisa Milroy (2003) [video], London: Illuminations (theEYE series)
Waddington Galleries (1998) Lisa Milroy, London: Waddington Galleries
Watkins, Jonathan et al (2007), Lisa Milroy: Making Sense, Birmingham: Ikon Gallery

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Barre Phillips - Xposed Club 20th November (FCH Chapel)

Poster by Mark Unsworth
On Saturday the 20th November, Xposed Club will host a rare performance by Barre Phillips in the Chapel at the Francis Close Hall campus in Cheltenham. Barre Phillps is a free improvising bassist who has worked with Sonny Rollins, Chick Corea, Ornette Coleman and many others. On Saturday he will be performing with Tony Bevan on saxophone, Matthew Bourne on piano, Tony Buck on drums, + Pat Thomas on piano and Chris Cundy on bass clarinet.
£6.00 (£3.00 concs.) on the door, starts 8.00pm.

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Jerwood Drawing Prize - Pittville Studios

The Jerwood Drawing Prize 2010 exhibition will be at the Summerfield Gallery, Pittville Studios, University of Gloucestershire, 11th - 22nd November. (See review in an.)

First prize has been awarded to Virginia Verran for her drawing Bolus Space (signal), 2009/10, pens on canvas (above).

Second prize has gone to Cadi Froehlich for Untitled (tea table), 2010, side table, hot drink rings (below).

Student prizes were awarded to Warren Andrews:
Warren Andrews, David M. Hutchinson Drawing No.436, 2010, mixed media.

and James Eden & Olly Rooks:
James Eden & Olly Brooks, Burst, 2010, film (of graphite balloon bursts) 5mins, 15 secs.
The Jerwood Drawing Prize was established in 1996 as the annual Cheltenham Open Drawing Exhibition - it was renamed the Jerwood Drawing Prize when the Jerwood Charitable Foundation became the principal supporter in 2001.
Just under 3,000 entries were submitted this year for consideration by the selectors: Charles Darwent, Art Critic, Independent on Sunday; Jenni Lomax, Director of the Camden Arts Centre; and Emma Talbot, artist (former Course Leader, Fine Art, University of Gloucestershire).

Installation view.

Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize - National Portrait Gallery

David Chancellor's Huntress with Buck has been awarded first prize in the Taylor Wessing portrait prize at the National Portrait Gallery. The portrait is of 14-year-old American Josie Slaughter, a skilled hunter from Birmingham, Alabama, on her first hunting trip to South Africa. Chancellor says: ‘The contrast between the peace and tranquillity of the location, plus Josie’s ethereal beauty and the dead buck, was what I wanted to explore. Here was a vulnerability and yet also a strength.’

Second prize was awarded to Panayiotis Lamprou for Portrait of My British Wife; Lamprou says of the picture: ‘To me, it expresses female power and independence as well as my devotion to my wife’.

Third prize went to Jeffrey Stockbridge for Tic Tac and Tootsie (twin sisters Carroll and Shelly McKean)
The sisters, who live on the street in Kensington, North Philadelphia, and suffer from insomnia, are both addicted to Xanex and have resorted to prostitution to supply their habit.
Stockbridge says, ‘Enduring unthinkable pain on a daily basis, the sisters are both incredibly strong and weak at the same time. Caught in the grip of their addiction, they do whatever it takes to survive, except for getting clean'.

Fourth prize went to Abbie Trayler-Smith for Untitled 2 from her series Childhood Obesity. The prtrait is of Chelsea from Sheffield. Trayler-Smith says, ‘Whilst talking about how it feels to live with the prejudices that come with being overweight, I looked away to change the film in my camera. When I looked back the picture was suddenly there. I shot one frame.’

The exhibition is at the National Portrait Gallery from 11th November - 20th February 2011. All quotes and details above are from the NPG website.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Exhibition Roundup - November, 2010

An occasional, and highly selective, pick of current and forthcoming exhibitions.

Sarah Lucas, Nud (24), 2010

The British Art Show 7: In the Days of the Comet has opened in various venues across Nottingham (until 9th Jan, 2011) and has received some very positive reviews (see Adrian Searle and Laura Cumming). Particularly well received has been the work of Sarah Lucas (above) and Christian Marclay’s film, “The Clock”. (This can also been seen at White Cube, Mason’s Yard until 13th November.)

An exhibition of the work of Gerhard Richter is showing at The New Walk Museum and Gallery in Leicester, until 27th February 2011. This is one of the ‘Artists’ Rooms’ donated to the nation by Anthony d’Offay.

Gerhard Richter, Abstraktes Bild, 1994

Myth, Manners and Memory: Photographers of the American South is showing at the wonderful De La Warr Pavilion in Bexhill on Sea, until 3rd January 2011. The exhibition includes work by Walker Evans, William Eggleston, William Christenberry, Carrie Mae Weems, Alec Soth, Susan Lipper and others. The De La Warr Pavilion, designed by Erich Mendelsohn and Serge Chermayeff, built in 1935, restored in 2005, is one of the Modernist gems of English architecture.

William Christenberry, Green Warehouse, 1978

Erich Mendelssohn and Serge Chermayeff, De La Warr Pavilion, 1935

In London, Rirkrit Tiravanija is at Pillar Corias. Tiravanija has been associated with 'Relational Aesthetics' (see Nicolas Bourriaud (2003) Relational Aesthetics, Dijon: Les Presse du Réel) - his previous work has included preparing meals for gallery visitors. This show features 2 works: an 8 hour video charting a day in the life of Leung Neaw, an elderly Thai man, and a 35mm slide installation showing the gallery director recounting a day in her life for the duration of a working day.

Angela Bulloch has also been associated with Relational Aesthetics and is showing new sculptures, Discrete Manifold Whatsoever, at Simon Lee (until 27th November).

Angela Bulloch, Aluminium Double, 2010

Richard Wentworth: Three Guesses, will be at the Whitechapel Gallery, 6th November – 30th January 2011, and promises to investigate perceptions and misperceptions of length and volume, and string!

The Courtauld Gallery has put together a show which brings together, for the first time, a group of Paul Cézanne’s paintings of card players. See 3 short videos about the work on the Courtauld’s website. The exhibition will run until 16th January 2011.

The Taylor Wessing Photographic Portrait Prize will be at the National Portrait Gallery from 11th November – 20th February 2011.

David Knight, Catharina #081, 2009

Most of the exhibitions listed for October will run through, or into, November. For links and details of the following, see Exhibition Roundup – (mid) October:

· Shadow Catchers: Camera-less Photography at the V&A ( - 20th February 2011)

· Christian Marclay at White Cube (Mason's Yard) ( - 13th November)

· Move: Choreographing You: Art & Dance at the Hayward Gallery ( - 9th January, 2011)

· James Turrell at Gagosian (Britannia Street) ( - 10th December)

· Damien Hirst: Poisons + Remedies at Gagosian (Davies Street) (- 20th November).

· Marina Abramović at the Lisson Gallery (- 13th November)

For links and details of the following, see Exhibition Roundup – October:

· The Liverpool Biennial ( - 28th November)

· Bloomberg New Contemporaries 2010 at The Coach Shed, Liverpool ( - 13th November)

· John Moores Painting Prize 2010 at the Walker Art Gallery ( - 3rd January 2011)

· The 4th Brighton Photo Biennial ( - 14th November)

· Robert Mapplethorpe at Towner in Eastbourne ( - 21st November)

· Paul Gauguin at Tate Modern ( - 16th January, 2011)

· Ai Weiwei at Tate Modern ( - 2nd May 2011)

· Turner Prize at Tate Britain ( - 3rd January 2011)

· Eadweard Muybridge and Rachel Whiteread Drawings at Tate Britain ( - 16th January 2011)

· Fiona Banner at Tate Britain ( - 3rd January 2011)

· Kitagawa Utamaro and Donald Judd: A Good Chair is a Good Chair at the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham ( - 14th November)

· The 20th Hereford Photography Festival ( - 27th November)

Friday, 5 November 2010

Catatumbo - Xposed Club, 12th November

Poster by Mark Unsworth.

Catatumbo - an improvising trio: Ingrid Laubrock (tenor saxophone), Olie Brice (double bass) and Javier Carmona (drums), will play Xposed Club in the atrium, Pittville Studios, Cheltenham on Friday 12th November. £5.00 (£3.00 concs.) on the door, starts 8.00pm.

[Catatumbo = a river rising in Colombia and flowing into Lake Maracaibo in Venezuela; Catatumbo Lightning is a spectacular phenomenon occurring over the mouth of the river, where it enters the lake: lightning storms will occur for up to 10 hours a day, 140-160 days a year. (Source: Wikipedia)]

Photograph by
Vladimir Marcano

Thursday, 28 October 2010

BJP International Photography Award - exhibition

The winners of the 2010 BJP International Photography Award are being exhibited at the AOP Gallery (Association of Photographers) from the 2nd to the 6th November.
The winner of the 'body of work' category is
Peter diCampo for his Life Without Lights series:

Peter DiCampo, Lights at the night time market in Gbulung, Ghana.

DiCampo writes about the project on his website:
Year-round in Ghana, the sun sets at 6pm and rises at 6am - thus, the residents of communities lacking electricity live half of their lives in the dark. Over ten years ago, the government of Ghana began a massive campaign to provide the country's rural north with electricity, but the project ceased almost immediately after it began. The work sluggishly resumes during election years, as candidates attempt to garner popularity and votes. But at present, an estimated 73% of villages remain without electricity in the neglected north - an area comprising 40% of the country.

Living without lights is more than just a minor inconvenience. Electricity provides a paramount step on the ladder of economics, and northern villagers know what is being kept from them: lights to study and cook by, machinery and refrigeration, and a standard of living that would attract teachers, nurses, and other civil service workers from the city, not to mention foreign tourists. Potential economic growth is stifled and poverty's cyclical nature is perpetuated...

The winner of the single image category is Michelle Sank for her picture of a sleeping man, an award which has proved to be controversial in the pages of the BJP.

Michelle Sank, Man asleep on the Golden Mile, Durban, South Africa.

Tuesday, 26 October 2010

Hereford Photography Festival - 2010

Simon Norfolk, Full Spectrum Dominance, 2008

The 20th annual Hereford Photography Festival runs from 29th October through to 27th November. An extensive exhibition programme includes "Twenty", curated by Paul Seawright and featuring photographers who have shown work at the festival over the last 20 years, including, amongst others, Jodi Bieber, Martin Parr, Paul Hill, Rankin, Roger Ballen and Simon Norfolk. See slide shows of images at The Telegraph and The Independent. See the HPF website for full details of all exhibitions and the programme of talks and events.

Landscape Photographer of the Year - 2010

Winter Mist: Corfe Castle, by Antony Spencer: winner of the The Landscape Photographer of the Year, 2010.
See gallery of winning and commended entries here.

Andrew Whitaker, Newcastle and Gateshead Quayside. (Highly commended.)