Thursday, 19 September 2013

Francis Bacon / Henry Moore - Ashmolean Museum

Francis Bacon, Study for a Portrait of Pope Innocent X, 1965
Francis Bacon / Henry Moore: Flesh and Bone is at the Ashmolean Museum until 19 January 2014.
Henry Moore, sculptor, (1898-1986) and Francis Bacon, painter, (1905-1992) were contemporaries and, arguably, through the 1950s and 60s the most successful and famous British artists of their generation. They were however very different men, as neatly described by Simon Wilson in the RA Magazine:
Henry Moore: dour, taciturn, down-to-earth, sober Yorkshireman and countryman, emphatically heterosexual, notably uxorious, draughtsman of genius, sculptor to his fingertips. His friend the poet Stephen Spender once noted how ‘normal as a man’ Moore was. Francis Bacon: garrulous, wasp-witted, champagne swilling metropolitan dandy, promiscuous masochistic homosexual with a taste for rough trade, painter of genius who claimed never to make drawings. Moore, sculptor of massively calm monuments of the earth mother in repose; Bacon, painter of grotesquely twisted humanity, writhing agonising in the void.
Though both artists can be seen to have drawn influence from Picasso the moods of their work seem polar opposites: in Alastair Smart's words, A case of existential howls and universal serenity. Nevertheless, this exhibition sets out to find common ground between the two artists: they were both, after all, obsessively preoccupied with the body. Rachel Cooke quotes Myfanwy Piper's perceptive observation in 1963, that Moore 'never forgets… the strength of the bone beneath the flesh' while Bacon 'never forgets that flesh is meat'.

An interesting exhibition. Read reviews by Rachel Cooke, Alastair Smart, Simon Wilson.
Henry Moore, King and Queen, 1952-3
Francis Bacon, Second Version of Triptych, 1944
Henry Moore, Reclining Figure: Festival, 1951
Francis Bacon, Lying Figure in a Mirror, 1971
Henry Moore, Animal Head, 1951
Francis Bacon, Head II, 1949

Tuesday, 17 September 2013

MA Fine Art Degree Show - University of Gloucestershire

Herdi Ali Kardi
The University of Gloucestershire’s MA Fine Art Degree Show is at Hardwick Centre for Art and Photography, St Paul’s Road, Cheltenham, 18 -22 September 2013.

Course leader Nat Goodden writes:
The exhibition will feature the work by the graduating artists, Herdi Ali Kardi and Alice Leeman, who both have a strong concern for the human condition and what it is to suffer.
The prints and large-scale drawings exhibited by Herdi Ali Kardi reflect his exposure since childhood to the horrors of war and, as a Kurd from Iraq, to the experience of genocide. He is a story-teller who does not focus on his own personal experiences as much as on those of his people. He does not spell it all out (which could diminish its power to affect), but draws you in to the desolation of a people and their culture under assault, as it has been for his whole life, and with roots reaching back to the early twentieth century and beyond. Despair and courage, resistance and determination, lurk just out of sight. The poetry is there before your eyes.
Alice Leeman’s paintings reflect something much more private. She draws on her experiences as a close observer of fragile states of mind, and in particular of those who are susceptible to chronic anxiety. Her work analogises something that is neither physical nor visible, and takes the language of painting itself – the skin of the canvas, the bones of the stretcher – as a metaphor for the mind and body. Her deconstruction and destabilisation of the elements of painting is about as far as could be from a dry intellectual exercise; it eloquently represents something that may be in us all, in the fragile chemistry that shapes who we are, and how we respond to the world outside. 
MA Fine Art is a practice-based course taken as one-year full-time or two-year part-time study. All forms of contemporary practice are supported, and backed up by a programme of critical, theoretical and professional studies.
Alice Leeman