Thursday, 10 April 2014

John Deakin - The Photographers' Gallery

John Deakin, Francis Bacon (Vogue), 1952
Under the Influence: John Deakin and the Lure of Soho is at The Photographers' Gallery 11 April - 13 July 2014.
This is a terrific exhibition. I love Deakin's intense photographs of Francis Bacon, Lucian Freud, George Dyer, Henrietta Moraes and others in the Colony Room circle of 1950s and 60s Soho; oddly, his great prints look even better having been salvaged from Bacon's studio - paint stained, creased and torn.
Sacked twice from Vogue, Deakin, an alcoholic, was clearly a difficult person. Gordon Comstock's profile of him, John Deakin: Champagne and Sulphur in Soho quotes George Melly describing him as a "vicious little drunk of such inventive malice and implacable bitchiness that it's surprising he didn't choke on his own venom". 
The Photographers' Gallery show includes 'rarely seen and un-shown works':  it is very good.
Watch a short video pairing Deakin's less well known pictures of Genoa with Johnnie Shand Kydd's pictures of Naples: A Tale of Two Cities.
Read a review of John Muir's book of the exhibition and a review of John Muir's earlier book A Maverick Eye: The Street Photography of John Deakin.

John Deakin, George Dyer, c1964
John Deakin, George Dyer
John Deakin, Portrait of an unknown girl in a cafe, 1960s
John Deakin, Francis Bacon, 1968
John Deakin, Francis Bacon, 1952
John Deakin, Lucian Freud, c.1961
John Deakin, Lucian Freud,1960s
John Deakin, Henrietta Moraes
John Deakin, Tony Abbro, newsagent, Old Compton Street, December 1960
John Deakin, George Dyer in Francis Bacon's Reece Mews Studio, c.1964

Monday, 7 April 2014

Alan Davie, 1920 - 2014; Tate Britain, Gimpel Fils and Alan Wheatley Art

Alan Davie, Patrick's Delight, 1960
Alan Davie died on 5 April 2014.
BP Spotlight: Alan Davie is at Tate Britain 14 April - 28 September 2014; Alan Davie: The Symbol is Neither Rational nor Concrete is at Gimpel Fils, 24 April - 23 May 2014; Alan Davie: The (Wild) Eye of Wonder: EarlyPaintings 1945-1970 is at Alan Wheatley Art, 9 April - 23 May 2014.
Alan Davie, Scottish painter and musician, one of the major figures of British post-war art has died at the age of 93 just days before 3 London exhibitions of his work open. These shows mark a return to visibility of a prolific artist who had largely slipped from public sight. Davie was one of the first British artists to respond to the achievements of the New York Abstract Expressionists. He encounteered the work of Rothko, Pollock and de Kooning at the 1948 Venice Biennale. 
Davie's 'action' painting method was built on improvisation techniques developed as a jazz pianist and saxophonist as well as Zen Buddhism. The imagery in his work drew from a wide range of sources and interests including Indian, Aztec and Aboriginal art.
Read The Artist that Time Forgot, an article by Mark Hudson written after a recent conversation with the artist; watch a selection of short videos of Davie  discussing his work on the Abstract Critical website and Talking Pictures 14: Alan Davie; read obituaries by Michael McNay, in The Telegraph and at the arts desk.
Alan Davie, Entrance to a Paradise, 1949
Alan Davie, Bubble Figure No.1, 1954
Alan Davie, Birth of Venus, 1955

Alan Davie, Opus O.521C The Horse that has visions of Immortality No.3,1963
Alan Davie, Ankh for the Serpents, 1967
Alan Davie, Entrance for a Red Temple No.1, 1960
Alan Davie, Fairy Tree No.5, 1971
Alan Davie, Altarpiece for Kali, 1980
Alan Davie, photographed by Ida Kar, 1958
Alan Davie, photographed by Eamonn McCabe, 2014