Friday, April 15, 2011

BP Portrait Award Finalists Announced

The shortlist for this year's BP Portrait Award have been unveiled. The winner, which will be selected on the 14 June, will receive £25,000 prize money and a commission worth £4,000. Of the 2,300 entries this year, here are the 4 finalists.

My money, for what it's worth is on Louis Smith's giant painting "Holly" to win.

Louis Smith with help from Carmel Said, Holly, Oil on canvas, 12 x 8'

Louis Smith, from Manchester, studied painting at Sheffield Hallam University and scene painting at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He has exhibited in Britain and Italy. He was a BP Portrait Award exhibitor in 2009.

Louis’ huge portrait is an allegory of the Prometheus story re-imagined in female form – as punishment for stealing fire from Zeus Prometheus was chained to a rock where an eagle ate his liver daily only for it to grow back to be eaten the next day: ‘It’s a message of composure in the face of adversity, something we can all draw strength from in our struggle to make a living each day.’

Distracted, by Wim Heldens, Oil on canvas, 750 x 550 x 20 mm

Wim Heldens is a self-taught, professional artist who lives in Amsterdam and whose work has been seen in numerous group and solo exhibitions in Europe and the United States. He was a BP Portrait Award exhibitor in 2008 and 2010.
Wim’s shortlisted portrait is of Jeroen, a 25-year-old philosophy student to whom the artist has been a father-figure for twenty years: ‘I have been fascinated with painting Jeroen in all stages of life through growing up. While I have painted him many times in groups, once in a while there is the desire to paint a simple portrait of just him. Now, he is an intelligent and sensitive young man.’

Mrs Cerna, by Sertan Saltan, Oil on canvas, 410mm x 510mm

Sertan Saltan, originally from Turkey, now lives and works in Avon, Connecticut (USA), where he is developing a studio. He studied painting at a famous atelier in Istanbul before moving to the United States in 2006 to continue his studies at New York State University where he gained a BFA in Product Design.
Sertan’s sitter, Mrs Cerna, is the younger sister of a friend in New York City: ‘The contrast of knife, gloves and rollers brought both humour and horror to mind. I wanted to capture on canvas that moment which allows the viewer to meet this extraordinary woman and experience the richness and complexity of her preparation for this Thanksgiving dinner.’

Just to Feel Normal, Ian Cumberland , Oil on linen, 1500 x 1000 x 25 mm

Ian Cumberland lives and works on County Down, Northern Ireland. After graduating in Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Ulster in 2006 he has had a solo exhibition at the Albermarle Gallery in London, has won several awards and his work is represented in public collections in Ireland. He was a BP Portrait Award exhibitor in 2009.
Ian’s shortlisted portrait is an enigmatic study of: ‘a friend whose story is like many others from my generation that have fallen victim to themselves and their preferred habits. The title refers to his answer when asked why he continues along his chosen path.’

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Dianne Gall, until April 15, Emerge Art Space, Perth

Dianne Gall's latest exhibition titled "Come the night" is currently on at Emerge Art Space in Perth. The exhibition continues her interest in Film Noir genre and is well worth viewing.

Dianne was recently interviewed by Gemma Jones for The Vine, click here to read

Last year I interviewed Dianne Gall about her paintings, click here to view

The fullness of it all surrounds her, 2011, Oil on Linen,

We will be safe here, 2011, Oil on Linen, 61x1520cm

The other door, 2011, Oil on Linen, 40x40cm

Moonlight 2011, Oil on Linen, 30.5x30.5cm

Friday, April 8, 2011

Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century, until July 4, The Met , New York

Rooms with a View: The Open Window in the 19th Century at The Metropolitan Museum of Art focuses on the Romantic motif of the open window as first captured by German, Danish, French, and Russian artists around 1810–20.

This exhibition focuses on a subject treasured by the Romantics: the view through an open window. German, French, Danish, and Russian artists first took up the theme in the second decade of the nineteenth century. Juxtaposing near and far, the window is a metaphor for unfulfilled longing. Painters distilled this feeling in pictures of hushed, spare rooms with contemplative figures; studios with artists at work; and open windows as the sole motif. As the exhibition reveals, these pictures may shift markedly in tone, yet they share a distinct absence of the anecdote and narrative that characterized earlier genre painting.

Presented in four galleries, Rooms with a View features the works of about forty artists, most from Northern Europe. The first exhibition of its kind, it ranges from the initial appearance of the motif in two sepia drawings of about 1805–6 by Caspar David Friedrich to paintings featuring luminous empty rooms of the late 1840s by Adolph Menzel. Many of the artists are little known on these shores, their works unseen until now.

Georg Friedrich Kersting (German, 1785–1847)
Woman Embroidering, 1811
Oil on canvas; 18 5/8 x 14 3/4 in. (47.2 x 37.4 cm)
Klassik Stiftung Weimar, Goethe Nationalmuseum

Caspar David Friedrich (German, 1774–1840)
Woman at the Window, 1822
Oil on canvas; 17 3/4 x 12 7/8 in. (45 x 32.7 cm)
Staatliche Museen zu Berlin, Alte Nationalgalerie

Carl Gustav Carus (German, 1789–1869)
Studio Window, 1823–24
Oil on canvas; 11 3/8 x 8 1/4 in. (28.8 x 20.9 cm)
Die Lübecker Museen, Museum Behnhaus Drägerhaus

Franz Ludwig Catel (German, 1788–1856)
A View of Naples through a Window, 1824
Oil on paper, mounted on canvas; 18 1/2 x 13 1/8 in. (46.8 x 33.5 cm)
The Cleveland Museum of Art

Constant Moyaux (French, 1835–1911)
View of Rome from the Artist's Room at the Villa Medici, 1863
Watercolor on paper; 11 5/8 x 9 in. (29.4 x 22.7 cm)
Musée des Beaux Arts, Valenciennes

Friday, March 18, 2011

Sam Leach, until April 2, Peter Walker Fine Art, Adelaide

Sam Leach's latest exhibition Enlightement becomes sacrifice of sacrifice opened last night already sold out at Peter Walker Fine Art, which isn't unusual for either Sam, or the gallery.

Sam presents a new body of work which continues his exploration into the relationship between human and non-human forms, in particular anthropomorphism. Sam’s work retains his familiar style, evoking the old masters, but with a nod to contemporary art and society.

To see more os Sam Leach's work, visit his website by clicking here

Conic Section , Oil & resin on wood , 40 x 40cm

Balson Ape, Oil & resin on wood , 25cm diameter

Apply Multiple Filters , Oil & resin on wood , 40 x 40cm

Fracture Landscape , Oil & resin on wood , 25cm diameter

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Margaret Bowland, until April 1, Babcock Galleries, New York

Margaret Bowland's first New York solo exhibition "Excerpts from the Great American Songbook" is currently on at Babcock Galleries. This is definitely an exhibition not to miss as Margaret Bowland is one of the great up & coming painters currently working in the USA.

Margaret Bowland: Excerpts from the Great American Songbook is accompanied by a new book on the artist written by Siri Hustvedt and published jointly by Babcock Galleries and the Greenville County Museum of Art.

After New York, the exhibition goes to the Greenville County Museum of Art from May 18 to July 17, 2011.

Margaret Bowland's Excerpts from the Great American Songbook explores problematic and provocative issues of race, gender, beauty and individuality in contemporary social thought. She evokes great old musical standards like "Isn't It Romantic," with its velvet melody caressing one's ear and lyrics hanging in the air: "Soon I will have found some girl that I adore/Isn't it romantic?/While I sit around my love can scrub the floor..." Suddenly, it isn't so romantic as the song floats one into the dark side of gender and race. Bowland says "beauty makes sense to me...has weight for me, only when it falls from grace. It starts to matter when it carries damage. Sorrow allows [beauty] to cast a shadow". And what is the shadowy dark side of beauty? Bowland's paintings, conceived with a rich tenebrist light seem to punch their way into one's consciousness through the captivating metaphorical image of a young black girl whose inner awareness looks upon an outer world in which "it ain't necessarily so". Everything is so audaciously familiar in Margaret Bowland's paintings, so known and certain, and yet immediately, viscerally and fastidiously uncertain.

AND THE COTTON IS HIGH, 2011, 82 x 70 inches, Oil on linen

LIFE IS BEAUTIFUL, 2010, 65 3/4 x 56 1/4 inches, Oil on canvas

SOMEDAY MY PRINCE WILL COME, 2010, 78 x 64 inches, Oil on linen

SOMEWHERE OVER THE RAINBOW, 2011, 82 x 66 inches, Oil on linen

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

The Daily Mail tests viewing times for classic paintings, and modern art.

We know what we like, and it's not modern art! How gallery visitors only viewed work by Damien Hirst and Tracy Emin for less than 5 seconds

To read the entire article by Philip Hensher, CLICK HERE

The Daily Mail decided to view how long visitors at the Tate Britain looked at certain works in their collection with interesting results.

"The basic fact about art is that you, the viewer, decide how much time you're going to give it. Other art forms give you no choice.
A symphony is going to take up 40 minutes of your time; a film two hours; a play perhaps three or four hours. But you can choose whether to look at a painting for ten seconds or ten minutes. That's a good measure of how interested you are by it.
We wondered whether there was a difference between the amount of time people were prepared to give a classic painting, and to modern art."


"We set up that simple test. We spent a day sitting in front of four classic paintings, and the works of four famous contemporary British artists.
We counted how many visitors stopped at each; for how long, on average, they spent looking at each work; what the longest examination was; and what sort of gallery visitor each work seemed to attract.
surprisingly, despite all the controversy, and the public promotion of new British artists, they did less well in this test than the 18th and 19th Century artists.
Tracey Emin's Monument Valley (Grand Scale) is an image of the artist, sitting in an armchair in a famous American landscape. No one looked at it for more than two minutes; if people did look at it, it was for five seconds on average. And most visitors did not look at it at all.
Though Damien Hirst's famous pickled animals do seem to interest visitors, one example - the 'spot' paintings that form such a large part of his work - might as well have been wallpaper. Our sample spent, on average, less than five seconds looking at it."

The implication of the results of this survey of gallery-goer's apathy, the Daily Mail contends is something that professional curators might like to ponder.

Ophelia: by Sir John Everett Millais
TOTAL VIEWERS: 562 AVERAGE DWELL TIME: 1 minute, 57 seconds LONGEST LOOK: 30 minutes

Monument Valley: by Tracey Emin

Anthraquinone -1 Diazonium Chloride: by Damien Hirst

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Vivian Maier, until April 3, Chicago Cultural Center

I am going to break from posting only about painting and show the work of street photographer Vivian Maier because not only is her work brilliant, but also her story is absolutely amazing.

Vivian Maier was an American amateur street photographer who worked for about forty years as a nanny in Chicago. During those years she took about 100,000 photographs, primarily of people and cityscapes mainly in Chicago. Her photographs remained unknown and mostly undeveloped until they were discovered by a local historian, John Maloof, in 2007, who tried to contact her only to discover she died (April 21, 2009) several days earlier at the age of 83 after slipping on some ice hitting her head.. Her photos, some 100,000 remained hidden her entire life, tens of thousands have yet to be seen as she left boxes of undeveloped film rolls.

It's best that you watch the Youtube Video below to see the full story of Vivian Maier and how her work was recently discovered.

The first American exhibition of her photos Finding Vivian Maier: Chicago Street Photographer is on now at the Chicago Cultural Center

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Ron Bolt, until March 26, Albemarle Gallery, London.

Ron Bolt, in his current exhibition at Albemarle Gallery, London, continues his exploration of the coastal and river waterways that fascinate him, a wilderness that he describes as “sacred”. Continuing in the tradition of landscape painting in Canada although with a focus of where land, water & light meet.

Ron Bolt was born in Toronto in 1938. His career spans forty years. As a painter, he has held over seventy one solo exhibitions around the world.

Sundown at Black Rock, oil on canvas, 117 x 99 cm

Tidal Surge - Antrim, oil on canvas, 117 x 104 cm

Flashdance South, oil on canvas, 92 x 132 cm

Dazzlerazzle, oil on canvas, 107 x 117 cm

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Harry Holland, 04 Mar - 26 Mar 2011, Albemarle Gallery, London & Mar 9 - Apr 30, 2011, Mineta Fine Art, Brussels, Belgium

Harry Holland has exhibitions opening this week in both Brussels at Mineta Fine Art and at Albemarle Gallery, London.

Harry Holland is widely regarded as one of Britain's best craftsmen, who works with uncompromising commitment and sincerity to produce art that is intense and rewarding.

His style is distinctive and immediately recognisable, something which every artist seeks. The paintings are suggestive in the sense that they imply situations, events, or relationships that are not directly expressed; this imbues them with an engaging sense of mystery.

Holland was born in Glasgow in 1941. He trained at St. Martin’s School of Art from 1965-69. Since the seventies this extraordinary classical artist has had over thirty solo exhibitions and figured in countless group exhibitions worldwide.

Below are paintings from the London exhibition;

Balcony, oil on canvas, 51 x 30 cm

Beach, oil on canvas, 76 x 66 cm

Boat ten, oil on canvas, 89 x 122 cm

Below are paintings from the Brussels exhibition;

Ipod, 2010, 46 x 38 cm

Landing, 2010, oil on canvas, 61 x 37 cm

Photo, 2010, 46 x 52 cm

Friday, March 4, 2011

A Debt to Pleasure, until April 2, Montserrat College of Art Gallery, Beverly, Massachusetts

“A Debt to Pleasure,” curated by Gallery Director Leonie Bradbury is currently on at the Montserrat College of Art Gallery in
Beverly, Massachusetts.

I'm certain this exhibition will be of great interest to many here, as allegory and realism, something not often seen, yet discussed regularly in such places as art forums. In this exhibition allegorical realism is employed to investigate symbolism in painting (past and present), cultural history and the art world’s insistence on originality and obsession with everything new.

Erik Thor Sandberg, Alterations, oil on panel, 2010. Courtesy of Conner Contemporary, Washington D.C.

Inspired by the visual and symbolic richness of the painting practices of the distant past, the artists in A Debt to Pleasure integrate the sensual and the sinister to question ‘meaning making’ in contemporary art. Featuring Julie Heffernan, David Ording, Shelley Reed, Erik Thor Sandberg, and Anne Siems.

Beyond their flawlessly rendered surfaces, the paintings in A Debt to Pleasure integrate the sensual and the sinister, the vulgar and the mysterious. Each artist explicitly references stylistic techniques and aesthetics of the past to create a provocative body of work that explores meaning making in painting.

An exhibition of technical skill, visual indulgence, and timelessness, “A Debt to Pleasure” presents a series of works that question their place in history. Beyond their flawlessly rendered surfaces, each artist explicitly references stylistic techniques and aesthetics of the past to create a provocative body of work.

Shelley Reed, By the Pool (after d’Hondecoeter), Oil on canvas, 2009. Courtesy of the artist

David Ording, After, oil on canvas, 2005-7. Courtesy of Carroll and Sons Gallery, Boston

Julie Heffernan, Self Portrait as Tender Mercenary, 2006, Oil on canvas, 231 x 173 cm / 91 x 68 1/8 in Courtesy of Dodge Gallery, NY

Anne Siems, Snail Girls, mixed media on panel, 2010, Courtesy of Walker Contemporary, Boston

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Teresa N Fischer, until March 3, Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento, California

Although Teresa N. Fischer's exhibition "Nostalgia Emerging" at Elliott Fouts Gallery, Sacramento is about to close, do yourself a favour and check out this wonderful artist's paintings.

You can see more of Teresa's paintings by visiting her website Click Here

Also at the start of this year Teresa began blogging about her paintings, the process, the inspirations etc. To visit her blog click here

Chalk Rocket, oil on linen, 18x24 inches
Rocket Chalk has been juried into Salon International 2011.
This is a project of the International Museum of Contemporary Masters and is hosted by Greenhouse Gallery of Fine Art in San Antonio, Texas. The exhibit is April 2 - April 22, 2011.

The Roost, oil on linen, 12 x 24 inches

When your horse comes in, oil on linen, 24x18 inches

Popcorn express, oil on linen, 14x28 inches

The Swan, oil on linen, 20x16 inches

Curiosity got the bird, oil on linen, 12x24 inches

Friday, February 25, 2011

Caravaggio, until May 15 in the Sant’Ivo alla Sapienza in Rome

An anonymous portrait of Caravaggio

Apparently Caravaggio was a very naughty boy, much more than previously known. An exhibition of his art and recently discovered and restored documents, which include his police record, offers further proof of this famous artist's roguish dark side.

Caravaggio appears to be almost compulsive in his lawlessness. For instance, the man was weapon-obsessed, sporting a sword, dagger, and pistol at various times. Twice jailed for carrying arms without a permit and known for beating strangers in late-night fights and pelting police with rocks.

The new evidence clarifies some of the details of the notorious brawl in which Caravaggio killed a man. The 1606 brawl during which the artist killed one Ranuccio Tommassoni, leading the artist to flee Rome and causing Pope Paul V to issue a death warrant, the documents reveal that the fight was over a gambling debt, and not a woman, as some accounts have suggested. The showdown was arranged in advance, with Caravaggio squaring off against four foes alongside a gang of three of his own comrades, including a friend who was a captain in the Papal army. One of Caravaggio's supporters was also wounded in the battle, thrown into prison, and subsequently put on trial.

Detail of a police report on parchment regarding a complaint that Caravaggio was illegally circulating in Rome with the sword and a dagger pictured.

One document on display features a drawing done by a judge of a sword and dagger seized from Caravaggio, who was arrested for carrying weapons without proof of permit. All this had been unknown until skilled archivists were able to examine the original records from Caravaggio’s decade in Rome. These records—police blotters, judiciary decisions, eyewitness accounts in the first person—were bound into ten volumes, each with up to 1,500 parchment pages of hand-written reports in Italian and Latin. The problem was that the parchment pages were self-destructing because the highly acid ink was eating up the pages. To save them, the archives director made a public appeal for sponsors. Thanks to articles in the Italian financial daily Il Sole-24 Ore, a handful of private sponsors were found, and the costly, time-consuming and painstaking restoration work could begin.

Other incidents include the written testimony of a waiter at the Moor's restaurant who had the bad fortune to be working when the irascible master painter came in for lunch with some friends:

"I brought them eight cooked artichokes, four cooked in butter and four fried in oil. The accused asked me which were cooked in butter and which fried in oil, and I told him to smell them, which would easily enable him to tell the difference. He got angry and without saying anything more, grabbed an earthenware dish and hit me on the cheek at the level of my moustache, injuring me slightly... and then he got up and grabbed his friend's sword which was lying on the table, intending perhaps to strike me with it, but I got up and came here to the police station to make a formal complaint"

Caravaggio also apparently cut a hole in the ceiling of his studio to accommodate some of his large paintings. Since he was a renter, this did not sit well with his landlady. After she sued the artist, Caravaggio and a friend decided to revenge themselves by hurling rocks at her window.

Apart from all of this, Caravaggio managed to to find time to paint many a masterpiece.