Interrogating the Real 

Gerhard Richter

Following our introduction to painting we were shown a range of artists that used various techniques in their painting - on of which was Gerhard Richter who I had coincidently written my art essay on, in conjunction with Chuck Close. In my essay I discussed the formal elements, processes and concepts of both Richter and Close. Richter says, "I don't think the painter need either see or know his sitter, A portrait must not express anything of the sitter's 'soul', essence of character. Nor must a painter 'see' the sitter in any specific, personal way." (Gerhard Richter - Portraits, by Hatie Cantz) 

Andy Denzler - Condition I (2014)

Andy Denzler's figurative paintings have evolved only in the last few years after a long period exploring the possibilities of Abstraction. Starting with his 'American Paintings' series (2005) Denzler has since been involved in an examination of imagery drawn from various sectors of popular culture. Despite this seemingly dramatic shift between the abstract and figurative, what links the two bodies of work is the artist's continued dialogue with art history and, more specifically, the history of painting. Whilst the photographic/cinematic origins of many of Denzler's paintings are explicit, he renders them in a distinctly gestural style, lending them the appearance of a long photographic exposure or fast movie camera pan. His subjects are reduced to a blurred set of generic features, positions and clothing, thus echoing the reductive tendency present in much mainstream film and advertising, one that seeks to erase any imperfection or difference that the viewer may find unappealing. Likewise, the 'landscapes' that his subjects inhabit are most often reduced to a series of horizontal and vertical planes of muted colour. His work questions the surety of perception, both through its combination of appropriation and painterly technique as well as its playing with notions of 
memory and observation.

Condition III (2014) Pencil on Paper

A Portrait In Progress - Chuck Close

Self Portrait (1967)

Big Nude (1967)

After Medium Specifity Chez Fried, Jeff Wall as a Painter; Gerhard Richter as a Photographer - David Costello (Pg. 1)

After Medium Specifity Chez Fried, Jeff Wall as a Painter; Gerhard Richter as a Photographer - David Costello (Pg.3)

After Medium Specifity Chez Fried, Jeff Wall as a Painter; Gerhard Richter as a Photographer - David Costello (Pg. 5)

Jeff Wall - A Sudden Gust of Wind (1993)

Although referencing other artworks is perhaps most closely associated with the post-modern practices of the 1970s – think Sherrie Levine and Richard Prince in particular – it’s  a practice widely used in contemporary art. Jeff Wall’s large-scale photographic tableaux, many made in the 1980s and ’90s, could perhaps be seen as a kind of bridge between work that uses appropriation as a way to explore ideas about authorship – a key concern in post-modernism – and work that draws on art history and reworks it, perhaps in an attempt to understand the present by looking at the past. These works – shown as large light-boxes, a form that references advertising but also feels related as closely to cinema as to still photography without actually taking on the expected form of any of these – are both visually stunning and fascinating to look at; the detail is extraordinary and the scale – A Sudden Gust of Wind is roughly 2.5m by 4x – makes it possible to examine even the tiniest details. 

Jeff Wall - Listener (2015)

Visiting the Jeff Wall Exhibition was a very serene experience - I really enjoyed the simplicity of his work, the quiet moments he chose to recreate in his photography were extremely intriguing. I felt a sense of emotion form the characters that were depicted, their faces seemed burdened by angst or sadness.

Jeff Wall - Approach (2014)

Mies Van Der Rohe - Barcelona Pavillion

“Less is more” – This saying from Mies Van Der Rohe became one of the main doctrines of Minimalism, and one which perfectly describes the Barcelona Pavilion. He also believed in the truth to materials, allowing them to be beauty within their own right instead of masking or embellishing them. 

The qualities which make the Pavilion so modern are space, exterior and interior, light, transparency and materials. It blurs the boundaries between spaces, especially the exterior and interior by using glass and have a reflective pool just outside on the travertine plinth that the whole Pavilion rests on. The use of glass also allows the Pavilion to seem lighter, and something more than just mass, allowing light to seep into the interior spaces. It also is symbolic of a philosophy of living which was about democratic life. Architecture after the First World War took on a philosophical aspect, and wanted to become a metaphor for a new utopian future.

Mies Van Der Rohe - Barcelona Pavillion

Following a drawing I had made of a fat lady, I started researching other artists that were interested in this particular image of a human being. What had enticed me to draw it was the folds and fleshiness of her skin as there was so much of it, it seemed like the perfect thing to draw, it was very substantial. I first began looking at John Isaacs where his sculptures seemed to almost be melting within all the skin that was connected to their bodies.

John Isaacs - The Matrix of Amnesia (1998)

If Not Now Then When is a personal meditation on the physical memory of the body as its own landscape, as a place of inner emotional conflict, and not merely a depiction of obesity. As in the Picture of Dorian Gray—in which the painting ages and absorbs all the evil deeds of its sitter—this object can be seen as a kind of sponge. The heroic, somewhat classical, pose is absurdly contrasted against its physical form. This fictional and anonymous figure is a monument, a mirror to our current historical moment in which we confront everyday the side effects of our over consumption, waste and pollution, but are virtually powerless to change our course. This figure could well be a future monument to our own apathy and concealed guilt. Certainly it is a scapegoat.

Across the breasts we see the words that have been scratched in, like 'SUPPORT' and 'PETITE' - these are about thefact that colethes can manipulate the appearance of the body. What I enjoy most about her work is how she confront female objectification and how woman are powerless to control it. Throughout history women have been judged against the standards of that time as well as men. In 'Branded' she is pressed up against the picture plane and is pulling a piece of her flesh. With this she confronts the viewer with their own expectations of what the body should look like, challenging the conventions of beauty.

Jenny Saville - Branded (1992)

Lucien Freud - Standing By The Rags (1988-89)

Once again it is the materiality of the body he paints that intrigues me. He paints a reality, not an illusion, and exaggerates this to make us feel uncomfortable. Again the feel of the body being close the picture plane and taking up most of the space confronts us in a very immediate way so we can look at nothing else. 

Toby Ziegler - Succession of Failures (2014)

Toby Ziegler

Toby Ziegler’s paintings and sculptures orchestrate a continual oscillation between abstraction and figuration and between classical composition and its digital manipulation and obfuscation. His process often begins with the appropriation of an image which, through endless reproduction, has passed into the visual subconscious. The image is then rendered by computer into modular planes, worked on, developed and modified. If the final result is to be a sculpture, it is then fabricated in three dimensions, often in cardboard or wood, or, as in the most recent works, in oxidised aluminium skins.
The process for Ziegler’s paintings is related: often, as with his recent series made after Breughel they are based on images of historical paintings, altered to occupy an uneasy territory between the familiar and the strange. The flat picture plane may also be fragmented into facets, onto which detailed motifs are often added, at first seeming to be a kind of mechanically produced pixellation, but on further inspection revealing themselves as hand-painted tesserae, shattering the surface of the picture plane into an endless prismatic refraction of light. In the newer works grids or repeated motifs are painted over the picture, carrying the eye over its entire surface. 

Toby Ziegler - All Along The Alimentary Canal (2014)

Toby Ziegler - Clerical Whispers (2014)

'Ways of Seeing' - John Berger

'Ways of Seeing' - John Berger

'Ways of Seeing' - John Berger

Scott Short - Untitled (White) (2008)

Scott Short’s works explore the relationship between the mechanical and hand-made, the original and the copy, abstraction and representation. The genesis of these elaborately rendered paintings begins as simple colored construction paper that the artist copies on a black-and-white photocopying machine. He then takes that first copy and repeats the copying process, perhaps a dozen times, or as many as several hundred times, until the layering of copy over copy creates an image that Scott finds appealing - in effect these images emerge from the “flaws” that are inherent to this process. The final chosen image is then photographed and projected onto a large primed canvas, where Short begins a meticulous rendering of the original using black oil paint or india ink.

Scoot Short - Untitled (Blue) (2007)

Sebastiaan Bremer - Whoever Has Has The great Fortune

I find Bremer's work so visually stimulating - they become cinematographic in their intense color. You become part of the scene. In works like 'Whoever Has Had The Great Fortune' you feel as if you are lying within the grass because the flowers have been pushed so close to the picture plane and blurred simultaneously to inform this feeling. I also find the subject matter of his photography beautiful. The scenes depicted are mundane yet what comes through is a subtle, loving moment captured within time.

Sebastiaan Dwell - A Loving Father Must Dwell

Although Bremer has always been interested in photography, it wasn’t until the late 1990s that he began to draw directly on the surface of photographs. He has been inspired in part by nineteenth century spirit photography, and fin de siècle Symbolists such as the poet Rainer Maria Rilke, and painter Odilon Redon, but his methods partake of advanced photographic techniques. Often he will begin with a simple snapshot of friends or family or familiar places, and after enlarging it far beyond conventional dimensions, he will begin altering and embellishing the image with India ink and photographic dye. He has often used the ink to produce fine patterns of lines reminiscent of cobwebs, or readings from seismographs. Photographic dyes also enable him to blur and mute some forms while accentuating others, and make some colors bloom while others recede into mysterious darkness. The result is an image that seems to literally vibrate with hidden consequence, as if the subject matter has sent cracks across the surface of the picture. Whilst Bremer’s choice of images inevitably grounds his work in his own biography, his imagery also makes reference to alchemy, art, and the occult, establishing unexpected connections between ordinary life, history, and the unconscious. 

Painting At The Edge f The World:

Part 1 - Beyond The Edge

of The Frame  

Marcel Duchamp - Mile of String (1942) (part of his installation for the First Papers of Surrealism exhibition, NY)

Marcel Duchamp installed a mile of string in an exhibition of fellow surrealist artists who were livid, of course, because his installation thwarted the viewer’s accepted conventional relation to the art work–the viewer could no longer lose themselves in contemplation of a “window on the world” (even a dream world).  The viewer was thrust into a confrontation with the material reality of space, themselves, and the context in which the work is being viewed.

"It would be nice to banish every trace of myself, my looks, my papers, my passport, and even my fingerprints," Shiota has said, "and only create my works in dialogue with the cosmos." While exploring the hinterlands between waking life and dream states and chasing fading memories, in Shiota's labyrinthine installations the passage into oblivion always feels close at hand. 

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov - The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away (1985-1988)

What intrigued me about this piece of work was the sheer mass of objects that they had collected, inspiring me greatly as I also collect 'worthless' things that have been discarded and chucked away. I keep all the things I find for a day when I need use of them for one of my think books allowing them to become a source of inspiration. However what I like about this piece is that the Kabakov's display the objects without decoration, and in their pure form, showcasing them for their initial allure. 

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov - The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away (1985-1988)

Another character, The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away collects and treasures ordinary and discarded items. The walls are adorned with Three Green Paintings along with another of Kabakov’s artworks; also called The Ropes, strings are tied in rows several feet above the floor, from one wall to the other. Countless items hang from the strings and below each item a small piece of paper explains its origin. The character writes about garbage, lamenting that the world that surrounds him is a dump and wondering if every other country is likewise covered with garbage. He points out that the land, owned by no one, has become a dump and looms threateningly beyond the walls, submerging the apartment.

Ilya Kabakov - Albums

Kabakov created fictional albums. He has created a total of 50. Each album is a story about one character who is often able to overcome the banality of everyday existence, or, “of a small man, possessed by big ideas.” The series of albums Ten Characters (1972–1975) helped formulate much of Kabakov’s later work.

Alan Charlton - Corner Painting in 8 Parts (2004) Acrylic on Cotton Duck Canvas in 8 Parts

Form and process, complete abstraction, the colour grey, spruce pine stretchers, 4.5cm deep – Charlton set his own parameters over 40 years ago and has followed these personal rules ever since. He looked for utilitarian, industrial colours that had been mass produced for manufacturing; reds, greens and other colours were tried before he settled on grey. A colour with few associations, producing little emotional response beyond the direct experience between painting and viewer. A colour linked to the industrial landscape of his childhood in Sheffield.

Each layer of paint is sanded producing a grey, velvet texture, a light absorbing uniform surface. This use of colour asks the viewer to concentrate predominantly on the form, from crosses, rectangles, squares and their borders to voids within shapes. The space where two canvases meet, four corners cut out of a canvas square, an outline physically painted on the wall. We look at these grey structured shapes and become aware of how they affect the space beyond their borders. Charlton feels it is important that the work maintains an honesty to the space it exists in. His paintings change our relationship to the surrounding architecture, highlighting the areas between the paintings. It forces us to read the spaces within and around the paintings.

Ida Applebroog - Monalisa (2009), Gampi, mylar, ink, pigment, oil, watercolor and wood

Ida Applebroog - Monalisa (2009), Gampi, mylar, ink, pigment, oil, watercolor and wood

Ida Applebroog - Group A #13 (1969), Ink on Paper

Richard Wright - Untitled (2002), Gouache on Wall

Richard Wright - Untitled (2000), Gouache on Wall

Frank Stella - Die Fahne Hoch! (1959), Black Enamel on Canvas

Infinity Mirrored Room – Filled with the brilliance of life, one walks through a room covered with mirrors and filled with a colour show of different LED filled lights – the effect is an infinity of light which is stunning for the senses. Nevertheless, it does feel more fairground than art gallery, as beautiful as it may be.

Allegedly, all of this dottiness (both in mind and matter) began when Kusama was a young girl, when the image of a flower began to repeat itself before her eyes. Yayoi Kusama said about her 1954 painting titled Flower

"One day I was looking at the red flower patterns of the tablecloth on a table, and when I looked up I saw the same pattern covering the ceiling, the windows and the walls, and finally all over the room, my body and the universe. I felt as if I had begun to self-obliterate, to revolve in the infinity of endless time and the absoluteness of space, and be reduced to nothingness. As I realized it was actually happening and not just in my imagination, I was frightened. I knew I had to run away lest I should be deprived of my life by the spell of the red flowers. I ran desperately up the stairs. The steps below me began to fall apart and I fell down the stairs straining my ankle."

From this point onwards, Kusama started to cover everything with polka dots: walls, ceilings, floors, furniture, household objects, naked models, and herself, all representing the world as she sees it through repetitive and persistent hallucinations.

Even when the exhibits do not give you cause to “immerse” yourself within Kusama’s way of thinking, the art work on show betrays the extent of her troubled mind. 

Yayoi Kusama - Infinity Mirrored Room - Filled with the Brilliance of Life (2011)

I think Kusama's work seems to hold a certain sadness within it's beauty. The viewer sees a temporary moment of grandeur in works like 'Infinity Mirrored Room - Filled with the brilliance of life' yet we seem to forget that these dots are omnipresent for Kusama, and once we learn this, they become ghostly and haunting, like spirits from another world.

Michelangelo Pistoletto - Seventeen Less One (2009), Mirror, Wood

I think the element of distortion is what drew me most to Pistoletto's work. The cracked and broken glass creates a distorted image of reality which is much like the dreams I write about in my think books, and despite it's harsh, cold aesthetic there seems to be a certain beauty that emanates from within the mirror's themselves and their reflections. 

Matthew Barney - Drawing Restraint 2 (1988)

American artist Matthew Barney is renowned internationally for his provocative and richly visual sequences of sculpture, video, and performance. Elaborate and inscrutable, projects such as the CREMASTER Cycle (1994-2002) - a series of five feature-length films - weave mythological storylines, art-historical references, and abject symbolism through questions of artistic production.

DRAWING RESTRAINT (1987-present) is a significant and long-term project for Barney, in which he proposes art-making as parallel to athletic training: the development of form occurs through resistance. Begun while still a student at Yale, Barney was influenced by his background as an athlete and sought to foreground the physical body and its tensions in a studio practice. DRAWING RESTRAINT comprises drawings, sculpture, photographs and video works emerging from his self-imposed and increasingly complex obstacles and scenarios. Considered together, DRAWING RESTRAINT forms an ongoing proposition for the harnessing of one's impulses and drives into a desired output, artistic or otherwise. They demonstrate the underpinnings of Barney's work, in which the body plays a central role, and ritualistic processes of creation are explored through manifold materials, settings, and personas.

The earliest in the series, DRAWING RESTRAINT 1-6 (1987-1989), show simple studio experiments, where Barney attempts to mark the ceiling and the walls while bouncing on a tilted trampoline or tethered at the thighs with bungee cords. From the 1990s onwards, the artist began to introduce the spectacular cinematic narratives for which he is best known. DRAWING RESTRAINT 17 (2010) filmed in Switzerland, is a two-channel video bearing Barney's signature high production value and allegorical storytelling. Usually, in this series, Barney subjects his own body to physical tests; here for the first time, the protagonist is an athletic young Swiss woman, while Barney now plays the removed role of the established artist.

Matthew Barney - Drawin Restraint 9 (2005)

'Don't Be Afraid!' An interview with Katharina Grosse

Lesende shows such a quiet and ordinary scene of simply a woman reading. I think the silent beauty intrigues me most. It is such a mundane moment to stumble upon, one that anyone may come across, yet Richter has tranformed this moment into a painting and elevated its subject, putting it in the context of a gallery space which is why I love this painting, because it shows beauty in the mundane.  - REFLECTION WITHIN RESEARCH

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'I blur things to make everything equally important and equally unimportant. I blur things so that they do not look artistic or craftsmanlike but technological, smooth and perfect. I blur things to make all the parts a closer fit. Perhaps I also blur out the excess of unimportant information.'

'In your pictures, does the blurring stand for the transitory nature of the content, or does it emphasize the content itself? Or is the effect of camera shake just typical of this particular mass medium in lay hands? 
This superficial blurring has something to do with the incapacity I have just mentioned. I can make no statement about reality clearer than my own relationship to reality; and this has a great deal to do with imprecision, uncertainty, transience, incompleteness, or whatever. But this doesn't explain the pictures. At best it explains what led to their being painted.'

Condition II (2014) Pencil on Paper

“I’m principally concerned with addressing time and evoking a narrative through composition, light, and motion. I depict time by applying a filter of blurred movement.” Andy Denzler

Manet - Olympia (1832-1833)

With Olympia, Manet reworked the traditional theme of the female nude, using a strong, uncompromising technique. Both the subject matter and its depiction explain the scandal caused by this painting at the 1865 Salon. Even though Manet quoted numerous formal and iconographic references, such as Titian'sVenus of Urbino, Goya's Maja desnuda, and the theme of the odalisque with her black slave, already handled by Ingres among others, the picture portrays the cold and prosaic reality of a truly contemporary subject. Venus has become a prostitute, challenging the viewer with her calculating look. This profanation of the idealized nude, the very foundation of academic tradition, provoked a violent reaction. Critics attacked the "yellow-bellied odalisque" whose modernity was nevertheless defended by a small group of Manet's contemporaries with Zola at their head.

Chuck Close is another artist that particularly interests me, and one which came up in our presentation mainly for the use of his 'grid' method during his painting process. However this was not the quality that drew me to his work - it was his concept. Although his work comes across as hyper-realistic he actually categorises his work as Minimalists and this can be explained due to the use of the grid in his process. "I think I was driven to paint portraits to commit images of friends and family to memory. I have face blindness, and once the face is flattened out, I can remember it."

The video thoroughly explained Close's concept and process through out his life and how it changed after his paralysis, with comments from fellow Minimalist artists on his work. At first I thought Close;s work was all about the final product, this hyper-realist blown up portrait, but from watching the video I understood his work was committed and solely about his process. The fact that he broke down the image and painstakingly put it back together was a metaphor about his life as well as the loss of his father. "One of the things you learn when you loose someone … is that you … can survive almost anything. In terms of that metaphor for life falling apart, breaking into pieces, the need to re-structure, and put it back together… is a good analogy for the kind of work that I do… deconstructing an image and then painstakingly putting it back together." I also learned that he described his work as Minimalist as opposed to Hyper-realist, and went as far as to never exhibit with the hyper-realists either. This was because of his process of using the grid. By breaking the portrait into "..bite sized incremental chunks..." he was turning it onto a series of small minimalist paintings which collated to make a realist portrait.

The picture above shows how Close painted his colour portraits, which further emphasised the importance of process. By separating his colour portraits into magenta blue and yellow in the same way as a camera, and applying them in this order, it produced a full colour painting. He was making a handmade mimicry of a mechanical reproduction in an almost autistic fashion, giving himself “over to the process” (A Portrait In Progress)

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Although Close has employed various painterly styles throughout his career, including an intense neo-realism in the 1970s and a shadowy Pointillism in the 1980s, he is perhaps best known for his more recent works which are made up from a shimmering, fragile grid set on the diagonal. Close’s paintings are all-over images where the background of the picture – the negative space – is as important as the face itself and one cannot exist without the other. Likewise, in Close’s daguerreotype photographs, the background defines the limit of the image plane as well as the outline of the subject, with the inky pitch-black setting off the light, reflective quality of the subject’s face. Close’s method of painting is always indexical, an incremental process whereby associative colours and shapes build up a pictorial syntax and a recognisable figurative whole. Warm colours are set against cold, circles against squares and the organising principles of the grid are constantly broken by minute areas of expressive abstraction.

After Medium Specifity Chez Fried, Jeff Wall as a Painter; Gerhard Richter as a Photographer - David Costello (Pg.2)

After Medium Specifity Chez Fried, Jeff Wall as a Painter; Gerhard Richter as a Photographer - David Costello (Pg. 4)

After Medium Specifity Chez Fried, Jeff Wall as a Painter; Gerhard Richter as a Photographer - David Costello (Pg. 6)

The Hyper-realism of Simulation - Jean Baudrillard

In his essay The Hyper-realism of Simulation (originally published in 1976), Jean Baudrillard asserts that the use and abundance of media, signs, and symbols has so bombarded our culture that “reality itself, as something separable from signs of it…vanished in the information-saturated, media-dominated contemporary world” (1018).Photography, mass production, television, and advertising have shaped and alteredauthentic experience to the point that “reality” is recognized only when it is re-producedin simulation. Truth and reality are mediated and interpreted to an extent that culture canno longer distinguish reality from fantasy. Baudrillard terms this blurring of mediatedexperience and reality “hyper-reality.”
Hyper-reality is a result of systematic simulation, a process in which symbols are increasingly utilised to replace actual objects and experiences. Icons or signs are stand-ins as simplified and clearer emulations of reality. Easily comprehensible andrecognizable signs mask and ultimately replace the actual thing or experience, becomingmore “real” than reality itself. Contemporary culture has become one of reality by proxy in which “everything is therefore right on the surface, absolutely superficial. There is no longer a need or requirement for depth or perspective; today, the real and the imaginary are confounded in the same operational totality, and aesthetic fascination is simply everywhere.”

Jeff Wall - Property Line (2015)

Wall describes his work as “cinematographic” re-creations of everyday moments he has witnessed, but did not photograph at the time. “To not photograph,” he says, “gives a certain freedom to then re-create or reshape what I saw.” He takes months to stage and direct each of his “occurrences”. Over the years, they have moved away from the dramatic towards the more quiet and quotidian and, since 2006, he has exhibited prints rather than back-lit transparencies.

In his new show, you will search in vain for anything as spectacularly hyperreal asA Sudden Gust of Wind (After Hokusai) 1993, a huge digital collage in which four figures in a landscape respond to a sudden squall that bends trees and scatters a sheaf of papers though the air. Today, most of his images resemble reportage and, as such, are likely to incense his detractors, who claim he’s not a “true” photographer. His most contentious new work, called Approach, shows a homeless woman standing by a makeshift cardboard shelter in which we spy the foot of what could be a sleeping vagrant. Wall tells me it was shot under an actual freeway where the homeless congregate and that “it took a month to make, working hands-on” – but he won’t divulge just how staged it is. Is this an actual homeless woman, or an actor? Is the shelter real, or was it built by Wall’s team of assistants to resemble one?

Re-creating images from memory is crucial to Wall’s practice – perhaps because it flies in the face of the tradition of photography as an act of instant witnessing.

“Something lingers in me until I have to remake it from memory to capture why it fascinates me,” he says. “Not photographing gives me imaginative freedom that is crucial to the making of art. That, in fact, is what art is about – the freedom to do what we want.”

- Jeff Wall -

"I'm not trying to imitate a photograph; I'm trying to make one. And if I disregard the assumption that a photograph is a piece of paper exposed to light, then, I am practicing photography by other means: I'm not producing paintings of a photographs but producing photographs. "

Our built environment is meant to be lived in. Mies' buildings, beyond merely affecting our lives, endow them with greater significance and beauty. His buildings radiate the confidence, rationality, and elegance of their creator and, free of ornamentation and excess, confess the essential elements of our lives. In our time, where there is no limit to excess, Mies' reductionist approach is as pertinent as ever. As we reduce the distractions and focus on the essential elements of our environment and ourselves, we find they are great, intricate, and beautiful. Less is more.

Barcelona Pavilion

From the architect. "As part of the1929 International Exposition in Barcelona Spain, the Barcelona Pavilion, designed by Mies van der Rohe, was the display of architecture's modern movement to the world.  Originally named the German Pavilion, the pavilion was the face of Germany after WWI, emulating the nation’s progressively modern culture that was still rooted in its classical history. Its elegant and sleek design combined with rich natural material presented Mies’ Barcelona Pavilion as a bridge into his future career, as well as architectural modernism."  Raised on a plinth of travertine, the Barcelona Pavilion separates itself from it context create atmospheric and experiential effects that seem to occur in a vacuum that dissolves all consciousness of the surrounding city.The pavilion’s design is based on a formulaic grid system developed by Mies that not only serves as the patterning of the travertine pavers, but it also serves as an underlying framework that the wall systems work within.  By raising the pavilion on a plinth in conjunction with the narrow profile of the site, the Barcelona Pavilion has a low horizontal orientation that is accentuated by the low flat roof that appears to float over both the interior as well as the exterior.

Morris Louis - Alpha Pi (1960)

Bad Miracle (2002)

If Not Now Then When (2010)

I find it intriguing how Isaac has covered the head of his sculpture with a bag as if it means to say that this person is a universal representation of humanity instead of someone specific.

Jenny Saville: With the transvestite I was searching for a body that was between genders. I had explored that idea a little in Matrix. The idea of floating gender that is not fixed. The transvestite I worked with has a natural penis and false silicone breasts. Thirty or forty years ago this body couldn’t have existed and I was looking for a kind of contemporary architecture of the body. I wanted to paint a visual passage through gender – a sort of gender landscape. To scale from the penis, across a stomach to the breasts, and finally the head. I tried to make the lips and eyes be very seductive and use directional mark-making to move your eye around the flesh. 

Simon Schama: So you really do manipulate what’s in front of you through the mark-making. It’s very striking – I’m looking at a photograph of your transvestite painting Passage and that passage that moves from the penis and balls to the belly is really about the anatomy of paint as it constructs the body. 

Jenny Saville: I have to really work at the tension between getting the paint to have the sensory quality that I want and be constructive in terms of building the form of a stomach, for example, or creating the inner crevice of a thigh. The more I do it, the more the space between abstraction and figuration becomes interesting. I want a painting realism. I try to consider the pace of a painting, of active and quiet areas. Listening to music helps a lot, especially music where there’s a hard sound and then soft breathable passages. In my earlier work my marks were less varied. I think of each mark or area as having the possibility of carrying a sensation. (Extract from ‘Interview with Jenny Saville by Simon Schama)

Lucien Freud - Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995)

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“I paint what I see, not what you want me to see.” Lucian Freud’s pursuit of this ideal led him to create some of the most recognisable and astonishing images of the human form ever painted. For the late art critic Robert Hughes, the way Freud used the paint to capture the stillness of his sitter and the attention of his audience was at the heart of his exceptional talent: “Every inch of the surface has to be won, must be argued through, bears the traces of curiosity and inquisition - above all, takes nothing for granted and demands active engagement from the viewer as its right.”

Freud worked exclusively from life, usually using a nude model posed on his studio’s threadbare furnishings or against piles of painter’s rags. He would start with a rough charcoal sketch on the canvas, and then lay in the paint, working from the head outwards. Occasionally he would extend the canvas by gluing on extra strips to accommodate the composition. His models were friends, lovers, relatives and occasionally his own children.

Benefits Supervisor Sleeping (1995)

I found Ziegler's work really interesting because of the way it looked like the original image had been scrapped out. The aluminium beneath being exposed gives it a richer quality next to the faded and scratched colours. To add to this i really like the work titles 'Succession of Failures' as it suggests a sense of beauty within failure and is reminiscent of the WABI SABI ethos. It suggests that beauty can be found within the imperfections because it carries a history. 

Wabi Sabi - A Book I Read Recently

Toby Ziegler - Family Portrait (2011)

By exploring more of Ziegler's work I found more similarities to my work. In his work 'Family Portrait' he blurred out the faces of those within the painting, obscuring their identities which is what I began to do with my collages the more I manipulated them with screen wash. As with 'The Symbolic Impasse (Study)' he adds elements of geometric pattern to his paintings which I also did after our day of system painting.

Toby Ziegle - The Symbolic Impasse (Study) (2008)

Sean Dawson - Haus (2003)

Sean Dawson - Haus (2003)

Dawson’s paintings suggest a complex hybrid world that flips between representation & abstraction refusing to be pinned down in order to satisfy an immediate desire for them to make sense. Relationships are proposed - baroque/modernism, analogue/digital, order/chaos, however rather than a diametrical opposition, they are inclined towards a symbiotic configuration unleashing a uniquely intricate experience. This relationship, which focuses the viewer back onto the physicality of the process, seems to be the occasion that by disrupting the illusionary, abstracted imagery is important to the viewing event, within which another system of signification to which the work refers is suggested." In the recent work, images of modernist architecture are distorted through various pre-painting processes. Sweeps & striations are created across the already manipulated photographic image which has been transformed from 2D into a 3D form as sculptural acetate then back into 2D.

I started looking at Dawson's work because I began to burn the collage I had made - and in Dawson's Haus he seems to have painted a brunt image. He focuses on the areas where the image has been completely destroyed to the point where it no longer exists. 

Scott's highlighted images of error related somewhat to my work. When i photocopied my original collage my printer ran out of ink, resulting in a distorted image - which is exactly what Scott attempts to show with his paintings.

An Interview With Robert Ryman

An Interview With Robert Ryman

An Interview With Robert Ryman

An Interview With Robert Ryman

Sebastiaan Bremer - Dutch (1970)

Chiharu Shiota - Letters of Thanks

Chiharu Shiota - Letters of Thanks (2013)

Both Duchamp and Shiota use similar techniques of wrapping pieces of artwork so that they remain concealed. This idea intrigues me because it makes you aware of the space around the work that would otherwise be invisible. It shows you that every choice the artist has made has been for a reason, leading up to your encounter with the work.

Ilya & Emilia Kabakov

For his installation, The Man Who Never Threw Anything Away (1996), he created an imaginary character who collected and kept all his ordinary, discarded items, and garbage, throughout his entire life. In the apartment space, which included three rooms, objects of all kinds accumulated yet are archived and organized in rather strict order:  they were systematically classified and arranged on desks, shelves, in sideboard, and on graphs that filled on walls. Each item was presented with a note that carefully describes its origin.[4] Still, the utmost order seemed like a frustrated effort to group and archive all the connections between the objects. The objects themselves seemed less appealing to be presented among the mass, however, together they challenged the notion of memories, and absence, of remembering and forgetting, which are usually associated with the archive. The act of retaining everything or dismissing nothing suggested a desire to hold on to memories, and conjured up nostalgias for a lived past. The objects were equally valuable. They were memories. And memories are equally valuable and significant like Breakell discussed.[5] Selecting is as stripping oneself of memories. The imaginary owner wrote, “To deprive ourselves of these paper symbols and testimonies is to deprive ourselves somewhat of our memories.”[6] Memories are interconnected and chained to one’s personal history. In this case the imaginary owner of the apartment refused to select his own memories.

Another aspect of the piece is the time-consuming and monotonous process of collecting, almost as an obsession, which pretty much parallels with the human consumption of objects and our current digital age of obsessive documentation. The installation is critiquing the process of selecting what to be preserved, what to be discarded, what is considered valuable, archival and what is not, all of which is usually controlled and obscured by institutions of power. Now when it is no longer limited to academy and federal, the archive can be built, selected and accessed and preserved both physically and digitally by majority of citizens. The archive has become more intimate and personal, just as Kabakov’s imaginary man’s apartment. The digital age has allowed us to easily document every moment, event and/or memory of our lives, together with organizing and storing it. Perhaps too easily, for that we have become obsessed with this process of documenting living moments no matter whether it is through texts, photos, or recordings.[7] We generate massive volumes of contents and materials constantly, in this process of retaining memories. Like the world the man lived in, our world is a “dump” of products of both our historical, physical and emotional consumption which are reflections of ourselves and our culture.

The whole world, everything which surrounds me here, is to me a boundless dump with no ends or borders, an inexhaustible, diverse sea of garbabe. In this refuse of an enormous city one can feel the powerful breathing of its entire past. This whole dump is full of twinkling stars, reflections, and fragments of culture.[8] (Kabakov)

But like the man who collects everything, we are running out of space to accumulate memories. And like Breakell put it, “selection is inevitable, however problematic.” [9] We are facing a kind of archivist’s dilemma, having to classify our memories, trying to identify the garbage from the non-garbage and vice versa, that define both our personal and collective history.

The piece on the other hand, also reflected impression of the archive as “founded yet constructive, factual yet fictive, public yet private.” The garbage seemed personal yet impersonal. And though the objects each came with an attached history, their real identities and histories remained ambiguous and mystique. The ways they are chosen, arranged and labeled as a whole constructed a space of contemplation which is characteristic of the archive, described, by Steward, as a place of  “remembering, sifting, evaluating, shepherding, restoring”.[10]  This space consists of “found arks of lost moments in which the hereand-now of the work functions as a possible portal between an unfinished past and a reopened future.”[11] Letting go of past moments, or of garbabe is not necessarily refusing the person we was as the man worried, it could also open up creation of new memory and transformations of old ones. Breakell and Kabakov encouraged us to think of an archive not as something static but generative, continually changing and adapting. The imaginary owner of the apartment concluded in the end:

A dump not only devours everything, preserving it forever, but one might say it also continually generates something; this is where some kinds of shoots come for new projects, ideas, a certain enthusiasm arises, hopes for the rebirth of something.[12]( Kabakov)

Angela De La Cruz - White Nothing Print (2010)

What I like about De La Cruz's work is that she subtly blurs the boundaries of the picture plane - you are unsure of what can be identified as the painting and what isn't. This relationship is also tied into its context which is why it is so intriguing. The merging of these boundaries makes us contemplate what art is, and if it can only be art if it is a gallery and within a fixed frame. 

Angela De La Cruz - Dirty 8 (White 4), (2011)

Angela de la Cruz disrupts the gallery with unruly works that sit between painting and sculpture. She engages with the discourse about the ‘problem’ with painting by targeting its basic anatomy: the stretcher, normally left to its job of keeping the canvas smooth and pliant. De la Cruz breaks convention, quite literally, by mangling the stretcher and piercing the flat edifice of the canvas to unleash it into three-dimensional space. Slashed, twisted and reformed into something approaching sculpture, there is a dark humour at play: “The moment I cut through the canvas I get rid of the grandiosity of painting”, she says. Convention punctured, her works seem to mimic aspects of human behaviour or states of mind – cowering, cringing, surviving – and, more recently, this sense of human scale has been bolstered by works incorporating items of domestic furniture, such as chairs and tables. Prostrate on the floor or hanging on the wall like macabre trophies, they are evidence of a violent process and, as such, confront it as something thrilling, fearsome and, whether soiled or slick, just beneath the surface. 

Angela De La Cruz - Extension (Cream/Brown), (2011)

In 1969, Bronx-born Ida Applebroog was living in southern California with her husband and four children. Busy as a mother and an artist, she took refuge in the one place that guaranteed solitude: the bathtub, a “little sanctuary” where she would soak for two to three hours every evening. Over the course of several weeks that year Applebroog also brought sketchpads to the bathroom and drew her own naked body – specifically her crotch – from reflections in a mirror. The result of this ritual was more than 160 vagina drawings rendered in India ink and pencil. Some were highly detailed, others were fancifully exaggerated, and still others were abstractions comprising a single elegantly curved line. Each drawing chronicles an intimate act of self-exploration by a woman and artist.

These drawings, unseen by anyone other than their maker, returned with Applebroog to New York City in 1974 and were packed in a basement and forgotten until studio assistants discovered them in early 2009. Together these images comprise a remarkable archive that, forty years on, serves as a key component in an entirely new body of work called Monalisa. The centerpiece of this project is a room-sized wooden structure covered with more than 100 new drawings made from the original vagina images, which Applebroog has scanned onto handmade Gampi paper, enlarged and digitally manipulated, enhanced with occasional washes of pale pink, grey, and yellow. Translucent vellum wrapping a bare, enclosed wooden structure, the facades of this building evoke skin stretched over a bony skeleton. Applebroog’s architecture – an updated “little sanctuary” conceived through the lens of 80 years of life – makes home and body interchangeable analogs, containing the terrors and pleasures of existing in both.

Applebroog’s construction is based upon a photograph of a small home in the early stages of its framing, unfinished and empty. Her exterior and interior walls are a patchwork of the new vellum vagina drawings. Other drawings are affixed to small ladders that lean against the interior surfaces. There is no open front door; the viewer cannot enter but can peer inside through the gaps, slits and seams of the patch-worked walls of vulva images. On the interior back wall hangs Applebroog’s large painting ( Monalisa ) of a reclining doll-like figure amid a deep red atmosphere, legs spread and a direct yet inscrutable gaze on her face. Where the front door would be, an ambiguously gendered visage ( Brian ) stares. Applebroog refers to her installation as “Monalisa’s house.” However, at roughly eight and a half feet wide, sixteen feet deep, and twelve feet high, the structure is more a room than a house. It simultaneously calls to mind Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own (1929) and Marcel Duchamp’s infamous Etant Donnés, which was unveiled to the public for the first time in 1969 – the same year that Applebroog found sanctuary in the bathroom.

With Monalisa, Applebroog has made a portrait of the exquisite unresolved tensions between self-disclosure and interiority, public and private life, the priorities of womanhood and the prerogatives of an artist. By revisiting images made forty years ago and further advancing her work’s inventive relationship between form and content, the artist’s installation connects directly with previous achievements while forging fresh directions. Her career has spanned more than four decades, taking her from artist’s books to paintings and video, to digitally produced drawings and now, full environments. But in all of these she has been pre-occupied by the same issues of emotional violence, politics of domestic space, and the dark humor of everyday gestures. The new work on view in the exhibition ‘MONALISA’ uses seriality in ways that formally echo Applebroog’s critically admired multi-paneled pieces – works that repeat an image but add simple sentences that undercut its presumed innocence to reveal failures in language, psychosexual damage and power inequities – but introduce a more open, if no less challenging, narrative.

What really intrigues me about her work is how she recreated her private space based on Duchamp's 'Etant Donnas'. The paper thin walls of vagina drawing are almost translucent enough to see through into the interior space that is concealed from the public. The only opening we have to see what is within is a mere slit - but that is all. I also enjoy how she made these drawings of private sanctuary into something so public which I feel relates directly to my work. I write my private thoughts and dreams down in a place where I feel safe, then put them on display, in a sense making me vulnerable, and it is this vulnerability is what so greatly attracts me to Applebroog's work.

Richard Wright - Untitled 1 (2002)

Richard Wright creates subtle and exquisite wall paintings that respond directly to the architecture in which they are created. Often awkwardly placed in discreet locations, they combine graphic imagery and intricate patterning from sources as varied as medieval painting, graphics and typography.

I admire the element of un-sustainability Wright's work. He talks about how this directly relates to 'leaving no trace...' of himself, much like what will happen when he dies, challenging the formal conventions of art. His work is always temporary - sooner or later it will be painted over which indicates his work is about the moment it is created in and there to be enjoyed while it lasts. I feel drawn to his work, it has an appreciation for the small and sometimes un-noticeable things we may not always see, and celebrates them as a work of art in itself. I feel there is also a similarity between Wright's work and my own as I have currently started the corner project where we have to do a painting on the wall. I decided to draw a very repetitive and geometric pattern which i feel is reminiscent of Wright's and Stella's work as they bare this element of a repeated pattern or line.

Richard Wright - Untitled (2000), Gouache on Wall

Stella wanted to dispel any interpretive reading of his work, commenting in 1964, 'My painting is based on the fact that only what can be seen there is there. All I want anyone to get out of my paintings and all I ever get out of them is the fact that you can see the whole idea without any confusion. What you see is what you see.'

There is no doubt that in his early work, from 1958-60, Frank Stella created a kind of painting that was effectively more abstract than any before. He did this by using a format which eliminated to an extent greater than ever before both the illusion of space and the element of composition. At the same time he also eliminated colour, confining himself to non-colours, at first black, and then the silver-coloured aluminium paint used here. The surface pattern of this painting was arrived at basically by making a narrow stripe following the edge of the canvas, and repeating it until the whole surface is covered. The width of the stripe was determined by the width of the house-painter's brushes used. In his first works of this type, the 'black paintings', Stella used a traditional rectangular canvas, but for the aluminium series began to shape the canvas in various ways, which introduced variation and also drew attention to the nature of his procedure. This system of composition, in Stella's own words, '... forces illusionistic space out of the painting at a constant rate by using a regulated pattern.' The spectator's eye always moves smoothly across the surface, either to and off the edge, or, in this case, to and into the real space in the centre. The artist has also said that the aluminium paint was chosen partly for the role it could play in reducing illusion: 'The aluminium surface had a quality of repelling the eye in the sense that you could not penetrate it very well. It was a kind of surface that wouldn't give in and would have less soft, landscape-like or naturalistic space in it. I felt that it had the character of being slightly more abstract.' Not the least striking aspect of these works is that because their structures directly echo the shape of the canvas they are in fact pictures of themselves - a near perfect expression of Ad Reinhardt's idea of 'art-as-art'.

The title of Six Mile Bottom refers to a village in England, where the poet Byron's half-sister Augusta Leigh lived.

The geometry of Stella's pieces are very intriguing as they cleverly always lead your eye outwards through the use of the diagonal lines, then draws it back in again to the centre, creating a cycle which almost doesn't allow you to take your eyes off of the piece.

Yayoi Kusama - Infinity Mirrored Room - Filled with the Brilliance of Life (2011)

Yayoi Kusama - Dots Obsession: New Century, (2000)

Michelangelo Pistoletto - Seventeen Less One (2009), Mirror, Wood

The mirror has always been an integral part of Michelangelo Pistoletto’s poetics, symbolising the artist’s search for his own identity. With his first Mirror Paintings of 1961, the artist imagined not only a new way of conceiving the self-portrait, but also emphasising the mirror’s universality; its ability to reproduce reality and reflect changes from the recent past, present and future. Pistoletto’s work addresses division and multiplication through mirrors that are shattered and destroyed. Unlimited reflections demonstrate the artist’s constantly developing perspective. Used as a symbol of totality, Pistoletto’s mirror is a physical and intellectual extension of the capacities of eye and mind.

The performance of ‘Twenty-two less two’ (2009) presents an evolving situation in which the artist destroys the large, framed mirrors that ring the exhibition space. Only two mirrors remain whole. According to Pistoletto, their reciprocal reflection represents the infinite generation of light and life. Even the smallest of the broken mirrors, however, retains the same properties of the whole mirrors, multiplying their reflective power. The moment of destruction remains impressed in the mirror picture as the memory of a past event imprinted on the present. Pistoletto’s action symbolises the violence of human existence, reflected in the depths of the broken mirror.

Donal Judd - Specific Objects

Donal Judd - Specific Objects

Matthew Barney - Drawing Restraint 6 (1989)

Matthew Barney's work holds similar concepts and process' to 'Loopy Lines'. I decided to draw them on the wall and this movement of having to struggle to reach upwards to draw is reminiscent of Barney's work, as seen in the pictures. His work is an emphasis of this struggle which greatly intrigues me and causes the viewer to question the process as opposed to merely the finished work. I also decided to film the process of me drawing 'Loopy Lines' which also asks the viewer to think again about the process as a factor in the finished piece. 

'Don't Be Afraid!' An interview with Katharina Grosse (Page 2)

Katharina Grosse - Wunderblock (2013)


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