I am going to try to answer these question in this post
How has my art evolved?
What are the common threads?
What has stayed the same?
What has changed a little
and what has a lot?
To start with I am going to give you a whistle stop tour of the changes in my art to show how it has evolved. In 2004 I started considering ways to deal with the negative effects of consumerism through art.
I immediately knew I didn’t want to celebrate its over bright, flashy and showy side, the way Pop Art mirrored consumerism, for example the 57 varieties of Campbell Soup. Warhol’s pop art mimics the production line by using repetition. He was trying to tell us about the times in which we live. Campbell’s tomato soup, is available to everyone and you can have this too but it is a trap, it’s a prison.
I went through a period of considering whether creating edgy work would be a good way to create a new body of work.
It took me a long time to realise that the minimalist artists also had disdain for consumerism. Minimalist artists presents a contrary and opposing view in the way their art deals with consumerism. Art works like Carl Andre, Equivalent V, mimics the emotionless and blankness of consumerism. Life has become dominated by consumerism and we are its submissive servants.
As I worked to find a subtle way to deal with consumerism in my work I considered this as a response to minimalism.
What are the common threads? What has stayed the same? What has changed little?
The common thread throughout the work have been how I have started each work. They have all started with street photography. From there they have also always had a relationship back the original photograph they came from.
And my final question was what has changed a lot?
What has changed a lot is my understanding of art. I think the explanations of Andy Warhole and Minimalism highlights that.
‘A study for being normal 1’ (2006) ‘Blind boy’ (2007) and ‘The Kingdom’ (2009), are currently available for sale.
My review of Rana Begum – The Space Between at Parasol Unit, London
This is Begum first solo show in a public institution in the UK. It is very interesting to see how different artists approach a similar topic using their own take and ideas. Begum’s work requires the viewer to react to it, to move and look at it from different angles to see the play of light, colour, reflections and shadows created by the art work against the backdrop of the gallery wall. Similar to the way you look at architecture in the city against the sky line
My favourite work in this exhibition is the ones featuring the straws.
I liked how simple the concept was. I could imagine an art student at a degree show presenting this work. This comment could be interpreted as criticism but it is not meant to be one. Sometimes,often, the simplest things work best.
I also really enjoyed the simple coloured forms with wire No 624 M drawing 2015, No673 M drawing, 2015 and No 62, M Drawing 2016 made from powder coated mild steel and paint on mild steel sheet. The spatial playfulness is compelling it remind me of Justin Hibbs exhibition Alias_Re_Covered recently at Carroll / Fletcher. Another artist that is worth a closer look.
I’m not sure that all this work is completely original but what work is? We all borrow and steal, and are inspired by what we see.
Duchamp said ‘the artist has only 50% of the responsibility and that is to get the work out, it is completed by the viewer.’
In my understanding of contemporary art, the Duchamp quote that the work is completed by the viewer is a really important. Often I think viewers look at work and immediately ask themselves why did the artist make this? What is he or her trying to say? Asking an artist to explain what his art means in my view defeats the ambition of the artist.
The person viewing the work comes to see the work with their own unique background, knowledge and history. It is important to understand that art is not like design where everything has a purpose and a function. Trying to understand why artists make the work in the first place is immaterial. The art work now exists on its own, and it has to stand up by itself.
Everyone sees things differently, people make their own connections. Two things are put together and they create meaning. Once the artwork is made it has to be completed by the viewer, with their imagination. The best artwork in my eyes means different things to different people.
I remember drawing as a child and really enjoying it. All it took was a single positive comment to keep me going back for more.
I still crave approval when I make work now but I have to deal with it in a new way to enable me to make work as an adult. I have to convince myself when I am producing work that it is good enough. By working and focusing on the process of making rather than thinking too much I can still be productive. If I think, I procrastinate and I stop working, so I don’t. If I stop working on piece of work I need to find another piece of work or idea to work on and keep busy.
After my recent visit to the Serpentine Pavilion designed by Architect Bjarke Ingels, I thought about my son an how inspirational this building could be to him and other younger viewers especially ones who loves Lego.
When I got home I showed my 8 year ago son the photos I had taken of the pavilion and I hope to take him to see it. I explained how the architect may have used Lego and looked at the way it stacks and interlinks to come up with the concept of the Serpentine. I hope that next time he plays with his Lego his mind might starting imagining all sorts of wild possibilities. These possibilities are endless and he should avoid getting stuck by thinking too much like I do, wondering if it is good enough.
If you’re in the Hyde Park area of London l fully recommend the short walk into the park to see it, it is on until 9th October.
The intention of my painting, ‘A moment of reflection maybe in order’ was partly to dissect appearance and to attempt to penetrate life’s underlying structure. It was painted following my research into existentialism, the philosophy that sought to identify man’s significance in a meaningless universe.
A review of Mary Heilmann exhibition, ‘Looking at pictures’ at the Whitechapel Gallery in London
Exhibition continues until 21 August 2016.
I received an email from the Whitechapel Gallery inviting me to visit an exhibition of Mary Heilman’s work. I immediately wanted to visit the show after seeing an image of the painting ‘Crashing Waves’ in the email. I was intrigued by the dynamic and simple composition in the painting and wanted to see the original, so I made my way to the show as soon as I could.
Mary Heilmann was born in 1940 in California. Much of her work is inspired by time on the west coast of America. She had her first solo show in New York in 1970 at the Whitney Museum of American Art and is still working today in her seventies, living and working in New York.
The show at the Whitechapel Gallery was quiet when I visited allowing me plenty of space to look and enjoy the high-quality, beautiful works of art. The theme of the show, ‘Looking at Pictures’ embodies the scope and strength of work that is inspired by pop culture and minimalism.
While viewing ‘Crashing Waves, ‘ I realised Mary Heilmann’s work was astonishingly beautiful. I was interested in how Mary had let things almost fall out of control in her paintings. I noticed the painterly marks with their different techniques from runny and washy paint to bold gestural marks were playing off against each other. Working in this free, spontaneous way must have been very exciting, challenging and a way of learning something new with each painting.
In the paintings, ‘Carmilita’ (2004) & ‘Franz West’ (1995), I liked their freeness. They felt unconstrained and spontaneous even though I suspect they were carefully contemplated and planned. There are physical traces of thought and play as if Mary Heilmann was attempting to control and balance the accidents. I’m sure she made other versions of these paintings as it was difficult to control the failures that naturally occur when working this way. Pulling pictures back from the brink of collapse would have potentially spoiled this free way of working. I’m sure repetition would have been the solution to keep the paintings lose.
There is bristling energy in Mary Heilmann’s work as she harnesses nature. She clearly shows she cares passionately about non-representational visual language and the joy of life. Mary’s choice of colours, light and volume are a treat and fill you with warmth from the California sun. I really enjoyed the exhibition and would recommend checking out it out. I’m sure it will inspire some vibrant new work in my studio.