What I see in Tal R’s paintings

Stuart Bush Studio Blog Tal R Red House, What I see in Tal R's paintings
Tal R, House red, 2018 Oil on canvas, 200 x 147 cm 78 3/4 x 57 7/8 in, © Tal R Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
Tal R’s painting practice follows the traditions of oil painting.  The artist walks the streets in Copenhagen near where he lives and works, looking for people, places and objects that appeal to his curiosity.  He looks for the moment that he feels is slipping away and paints its soul in vibrant and colourful paintings that at times float into abstraction.
Tal’s passion and exhilaration for paint clearly materialises throughout his work.  In each painting, he is learning about the endless curiosities with life and paint.  I see the pictures like a window into the inquisitive thoughts that are bouncing around in his head.
When I look at Tal’s paintings I easily relate to the places.  I understand some of the references; but at the same time, I’m often confused.  Tal often adds an object into his painting that doesn’t sit right.  By placing this almost ‘foreign’ object where it doesn’t belong, his paintings work at getting an unanswerable question into one’s mind.  He calls it ‘leaving the viewer with a stone in their shoe.’

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I cried because I love you - 'A Fortnight of Tears' exhibition review
Marcel Duchamp commented that “the creative act is not formed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.”
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Tal R, Rosa Road, What I see in Tal R's paintings
Tal R, Rosa road, 2018, Oil on canvas with artist made frame, 102 x 121 cm 40 1/8 x 47 5/8 in, © Tal R Courtesy the artist and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
We each come to his painting with our own way of seeing the world and pick up on different points of interest. Tal’s artwork then becomes about the paint, the artist, the viewer and their baggage.  These four elements are what is so attractive about Tal’s paintings. Tal does what all good artist do, he makes it look so easy.
Tal describing how his practice works,  “How I do it before I do it is, I work with all these motives, like figures and drawings. Sometimes they lose their vitality.  Then I put them away.  Later they appear in new forms.  So it is like being in my head.”

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What I have learnt from Alex Katz
“All of these places that I paint they mean something and they also mean nothing.  These are places I am very familiar with. I walk past them many times.  It makes it much more easy for me to rhyme in those places.  Although it is about places in Copenhagen, it could, in fact, be about anywhere.  If I grew up in another city, I would rhyme on those places.” Tal R
“It is like trying to grab a fish, and it slips out of your hand. You should catch it and feel it is yours.” Tal R
Tal’s work can’t be explained purely by understanding the subject.  The forms and references only appear to on the surface, rhyming with other footnotes that are possibly out of the picture.  The real subject matter is the formal qualities and paint.
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Tal R, What I see in Tal R's paintings
Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, Tal RInstallation view, Victoria Miro Mayfair, 14 St George Street, London W1S 1FE23 January –23 March 2019© Tal R, Per Kirkeby and Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/ billedkunst.dk/ DACS 2019Courtesy the artists and Victoria Miro, London/Venice
Often Tal starts with an underneath layer of paint in a free-flowing thick impasto style. It is usually an intense colour in contrast with what goes on top.  The tones are often a little subdued, but they pulse and wobble due to the contrastive composition.  They dance for your eyes like a gymnast, filling you with hopefulness.

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Kerry James Marshall, History of Painting
Tal doesn’t paint to give a complete account of the essential nature or direct likeness of an object. He goes for a ghostly like quality.  What is more critical to Tal is the success of those objects and colours as formal qualities in the painting.  He adjusts the flexible subject matter to create a visual harmony in their placement within the composition.  The intriguing forms and his unrefined strokes of oil paint encourage the object to float between figuration and abstraction.  This is the real subject matter.  It’s the skill of his image making that makes Tal R’s paintings a success.
Tal steps into a space where all good artist go, into a spacious creative area and into a painting where time disappears, where he is at one with his creative innocence. He loses himself in his work, like a child at play.  Pointing himself towards what he is interested in, and the work comes out unforced and without plotting.  Tal is in a place where he is allowed to be true and where no effort is required.  This creative space is a place where we all seek to go.
Tal R was born in Isreal in 1967 and moved to Denmark when he was young.  He studied at the Royale Academy in  Copenhagen, Denmark where he continues to live and work.  His work is currently on show at Victoria Miro Mayfair, in a group show titled, ‘Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, Tal R’ until 23rd March 2019.
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Tal , What I see in Tal R's paintings
Asger Jorn, Per Kirkeby, Tal R Installation view, Victoria Miro Mayfair, 14 St George Street, London W1S 1FE23 January –23 March 2019© Tal R, Per Kirkeby and Donation Jorn, Silkeborg/ billedkunst.dk/ DACS 2019 Courtesy the artists and Victoria Miro, London/Venice

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Isle D'Hollander - in and out of abstraction

I needed to find my new painting in my last painting

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, I needed to find my new painting in my last painting
©Stuart Bush, Inclination of form, oil on canvas
When I started out and sought to develop my work into an artistic practice I often used to get very frustrated and disappointed when I felt I had made an unsuccessful work of art.  As the piece was near completion judgemental voices in my head would take over saying, “this isn’t good enough,” “you’re not good enough” and “you’re never going to make a go of this”.  But over time I have learnt that I need to find my new painting in my last painting.
After a bad day in the studio, I use to stare at the canvas.  I would feel disillusioned and there would seem to be no way forward.  I would want the world to swallow me up. I would ask myself what do I do now? Shall I give up?  However, l saw a small light at the end of the tunnel, so I continued, but often after a long period of procrastination.
What I didn’t realise is that this is all completely normal. Rather than jump around with lots of ideas, I needed to find my new painting in my last painting.  As an artist, I needed to come to terms with the notion that an unsuccessful artwork is not a failure. It is a learning opportunity.  It is a bread crumb to the next work.  Everything that comes next, comes out what came before.

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A painting has to stand up by itself

Painter Killed By Critique Of His Own Bad Art

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Painter Killed By Critique Of His Own Bad Art
©Stuart Bush, You don’t understand me, part 1-4, gouache on paper
Most artists share the same fear and dread, a bad review!  You think it’s all over.  It makes you feel reluctant to share your work. I can imagine the day a museum curator knocks on my studio door with good news, and there is no answer.  The bell keeps ringing….
The curator keeps trying to get an answer until he/she realises something terrible might have happened.  Eventually, they gain access to find me dead under an incredible amount of bad art.  So much so that they can just see two feet sticking out of the bottom. Do they run for help? No, they are horrified by how much bad art they can see! The curator puts her hands up to her face and runs out screaming, “My eyes. My eyes!”
Later they removed the mountain of bad art that has been building up in my studio for years. They find me laying underneath it all like an ill-fated hoarder. My tongue hanging out the side of my mouth and I have a newspaper in my hands.  The newspaper is opened on an art review. Instead of saying what I  hoped for, “Oh my god, this artwork is the next best thing,” the reviews says, “Stuart Bush, what is this crap?”

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Jealously of another artist's work
How my mind can multiple my worst fears is ridiculous…  However, at least my creative imagination is good for something. I am certain I am not alone with these feelings of self-doubt. So I was curious about how other artists deal with a mountain of failed art. I decided to read, research and discuss this subject with other artists.  I eventually came up with this list to avoid this absurd tale actually occurring.
What to do when you have too much bad art. Starting with the most severe;
  1. My first idea comes from Michael Landy’s Breakdown, where he destroys everything he owns, even his artwork. My next artwork could be to document the destruction of my own work.
  2. The next idea is to destroy every unsuccessful painting straight after completion. Then cut up the canvas so no one is able to see my latest catastrophe.
  3. Of course l could work out what canvases I can repaint over. This could be a case of trial and error to see what works or doesn’t work.
  4. To save space, I could take the canvas off the stretchers and roll them up. Then recycle the frame by stretching a new canvas on it.
  5. My last idea is not to date my paintings. Maybe in time, I will realise they weren’t that bad. It may be possible to sell them as current paintings.

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The death of the artist and the birth of the creative entrepreneur

It is surprising that destroying artwork is common practice.  It is natural selection. Only the strongest will survive. The highly successful artist Lynette Yiadom-Boakye destroys her work at least three times a week.

“I know generally after a day of working on something whether it is working or not. Out of either pride or feeling, I wasted a whole day on something, I will often keep it until the next day.  Come back, look at it and destroy it.  I hate leaving things in the studio that I am not happy with.  Because I have this terrible sense that if something happened to me that night, and this was the last thing I did, my dealer will turn up at the studio and say ‘Well, she must have meant this one to go in.’ ‘She is not here anymore, but this looks all right.’  I don’t want anything there that someone might think I intended to keep it.  So I always feel like I have to make a decision and chop something up at the end of the day. But there is this thing that the light has changed throughout the day. Maybe I am not seeing it right.  Maybe l should wait until the next day until l can see it in daylight and be absolutely sure it is bad before l get rid of it. I have gotten to be very brutal. I am extremely quick to make a decision that something is wrong and get rid of it.  Like I said it happens a few times a week at the moment. More than a few times a week actually,” she says laughing.

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Understanding the 'Oak Tree' in conceptual art via Russian Politics
My last thought on the ‘Painter Killed By Critique Of his Own Bad Art’is that as an artist if you want to make a living from your art and you don’t want to fill up several skips, you need to get over this fear of judgement.  It is not possible to making a living if you don’t move past the feelings of self-doubt.
As well as spending time painting and creating your artwork, it is essential to promote your art. To talk to collectors and galleries and exhibit your work.
I have come to the conclusion that if l have a pile of work that I am not selling. I need to ask myself, why? Is it because I am not spending enough time promoting my work?  I need to be brave, put my fears to one side and plan an exhibition as soon as possible.  Or this absurd tale may come true.

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I love my work more than what it produces

Tracey Emin, ‘A Fortnight of Tears,’ exhibition review

Stuart BuSh Studio Blog Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin, It was all too Much, 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 71 3/4 x 71 3/4 in. (182.3 x 182.3 cm)
© Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis). Courtesy White Cube
Tracey Emin’s career was made on ‘My bed’ (1998) and ‘Everyone I have Ever Slept with 1963-1995’ (1995).  Other career highlights include Charles Saatchi’s ‘Sensations’ exhibition at the Royal Academy in 1997, her Turner Prize nominee in 1999, and her large retrospective at the Hayward Gallery in 2011.  Emin’s reputation has been founded on not only making upfront work and disclosures documenting her colourful life but also for her mastery and skill with a brush in her hand.  I went to her latest show at the White Cube in Bermondsey titled ‘A Fortnight of Tears,’ to see if Emin, now that she is 55 and a Royal Academician, is she still relying on shock and revelations about her undomesticated wild side or has she moved on to a new phase of mature work.
 
On entering the exhibition l was immediately reminded of the audience’s role in her work; the role of the voyeur in Emin’s authentic life.  However, in the first room, the experience started with an anticlimax.  The subject of her work was insomnia.  I realise insomnia is very debilitating and impactful on the suffering.  Nevertheless, I found the work lacking in her usual emotion strength and power.  But as l continued to walk along the corridor l delighted in seeing Emin’s signature style painting in full flow on the walls.

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Anni Albers Weaves her Magic
 
Emin is back to her best and ferocious self as she explores the creation of mark making and slaps the brush on the canvas.  Her technical skill and creative energy are on show as she continues to bind her life experiences and artwork together. Bringing together subjects of love, her broken heart after the death of her mother, her abortion, guilt, and her mental and physical state on to the canvas.  Her paintings have the forcible lyric quality of a master at work.  
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin, ‘A Fortnight of Tears’, White Cube Bermondsey, 6 February – 7 April 2019
© Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis)
The love of painting is undeniably on show in the large rooms, which along with paintings and large bronze sculptures such as ‘When I sleep’ (2018), continue to show her untamed emotional strength when dealing with a life that has never been untroubled or straight forward.  In the painting, ‘And so it felt like this,’ (2018) Emin erases her complex history with broad brush marks, that nonetheless still creeps through her washes of paint.  An abundant spontaneity flows from her brush as she generalises form.  Which at the same time apprehends her mental state through her emphasis of pure emotion.
 

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Kerry James Marshall, History of Painting
Emin is unafraid to portray what most people would be mortified to show.  She shows she has not lost her power to shock in the video in the auditorium titled, ‘How it feels,’ (1996).  In the video, Emin walks through the streets of London recounting the ordeal of giving birth to a foetus in a taxi in 1991.   It is a very direct and unsettling account of Emin describing and explaining the event and how she feels about not being able to have a child.  It was a shocking and excruciating experience, “I cried because I love you.” says Emin, highlighting her willingness to put everything on show for her artistic career.
 
As I watched the genuine and authentic account of Emin’s experiences, I wondered about her life.  How it is now, compared to how it might have been if she hadn’t realised that she needed to show her authentic life with her art.  If she hadn’t learnt to communicate her life experiences, love, joy, sorrow and anger in her art, her life would have been so very different. 
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, SOmetimes there is no reason
Tracey Emin, Sometimes There is No Reason, 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 48 1/16 x 48 1/4 in. (122 x 122.5 cm), © Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis) Courtesy White Cube
Emin has always been greatly inspired by Egon Schiele. It is very easy to see their clear connection not only in her work in this exhibition but also their lives too. They both love the exploration of mark making in the craft of painting and drawing.  A gesture in the heat of the moment emphases a moment of time in their eventful lives. 

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Tracey Emin - Hyperallergic
 
Although not all of the work is as powerful  Emin’s reality has crossed boundaries. I have never considered going so far and really putting my heart and life on the line like she has. As I am not willing to display my personal truths like she has. I think most people would be uncomfortable about doing so.   
 
However, as Neil Gaiman said “The moment that you feel that, just possibly, you’re walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself. That’s the moment you may be starting to get it right.”  I think to myself, “Is this what it takes to be a successful artist?”
Stuart Bush Studio Blog Tracey Emin
Tracey Emin, You Kept watching me, 2018, Acrylic on canvas, 48 3/16 x 60 1/16 in. (122.4 x 152.5 cm)
© Tracey Emin. All rights reserved, DACS 2017. Photo © White Cube (Theo Christelis) Courtesy White Cube

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Ilse D'Hollander In and Out of Abstraction

The ultimate experience – Crashing Wave by Mary Heilmann

The ultimate experience - Crashing Wave, Mary Heilmann, Stuart Bush Studio Blog
©Mary Heilmann, Crashing Wave 2011 oil on canvas 127 x 101.60 cm, All rights are reversed by the artist
At the Whitechapel Gallery in 2016, many thoughts rushed through my mind the first time I saw the painting ‘Crashing Wave (2011)’ by Mary Heilmann.  As I looked at the painting it evoked a special moment.  I remember being out on my body board on Manly beach, Australia, at complete peace with my surroundings.  The air was crisp, and the sun was bright as I pitched forward. I kicked with my flippers while paddling hard with my hands as I took off down into a crystal clear barrel wave. I rode the perfect wave, a foaming mass of white water.  The ultimate experience!
 
It was a weird feeling being out in the sea, which strangely had surprising similarities to painting in a studio.  There is the same solitude in painting when you’re standing with a brush in front of a canvas.  You’re in apparently harmless water, but there is the feeling that if you’re not alert, like one wrong move at the peak of the wave, you could end up scrambling to stay on the surface. The consequence being that you could get thrown around and washed out. Mental and physically rejected back on the beach or in front of a failed canvas.

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What I learnt from Alex Katz
Mary Heilmann’s unforgettable painting combines subject with spills and accidents, runs and washes, that are akin to nature.  Although Hellmann only witnessed surfing as a spectator sport, she has captured its impression in the surface energy of her painting. Using a geometric structure, Mary invites you to have an aesthetic experience.  A remarkable vibrant experience that is enthralling, leaving the feeling that reality has been refreshed.
 
Mary highlights the need to be at one with what you are doing.  One mistake and it’s over.  In both situations, you can spend a lot of time thinking and waiting for the right moment; the right wave or inspiration to get started. Hoping for the world to move through you. Undisturbed by turmoil and disorder.  Aiming for a placid stream of serenity where things come together in the stillness.  When you are in tune with that stillness, incline your mind towards a majestic moment.   Confronting the sharpness of life as you harness nature and ride the wave of an idea back to shore.

External related link

Mary Heilmann's biography - artnet.com

As Mary Heilmann says, “Each of my pictures can be seen as an autobiographical marker. A cue by which I evoke a moment from my past or my projected future. Each a charm to conjure a mental reality and to give it physical form.”

 
Mary Heilmann was born in 1940 in California. As a student, she trained as a ceramicist and a sculptor. After trying to complete in an all-male environment in both these fields she struggled to get any attention.   Then Heilmann decided to paint. She had her first show in New York in 1970 at the Whitney Museum of American Art after moving to New York in 1968.

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Understanding the 'Oak Tree' in conceptual art via Russian Politics

I love my work more than what it produces

I love my work more than what it produces
©Stuart Bush Hard to Concentrate, oil on board 30 x 40 x 3.5 cm
I am happiest when I realise that there is something to investigate, something that doesn’t quite fit.  I love the slow development of an idea.  The slow convergence of thoughts that often come after a period of incubation. l realise then that there is a problem worth tackling, a problem that is going to become my muse.  It is exciting to think that possibly, this concept hasn’t occurred to anyone else.  If it has occurred to someone before me, they will likely approached it in a completely different way.  I love my work more than what it produces.
 
I love going deeper, I just follow my hunch and allow it to unfold. When l am relaxed fresh insight and new connections will often present themselves. I enjoy being spontaneous and trying the different things that occur to me in the moment. Taking half formed concepts from other disciplines; taking them back to something simple and basic. Stripping away the layers of nature and making them new.

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I wish I could paint everyday
 
In doing so I have come to realise the significance of another type of time, so called idle time. I can’t explain it or the steps involved. But it’s time drawing, time photographing, time playing, time experimenting in my sketchbook and time idlily painting.  It isn’t time squandered.  It’s development time, where I take one step forward, two sides ways and often one backwards. Time that becomes something. 
Don't be afraid to make a mistake - Guardian newspaper
 
If I trusted that everything was already correct I wouldn’t discover anything new. So instead, l trust myself to challenge that previous knowledge and develop my ideas and connections. As a result l often find new exciting forms of representation.  No wonder I love my work more than what it produces.
 
Once the work is made however, I worry about having my ideas on show.  I am naturally shy and I don’t like being the centre of attention.  My creative work is never finished, I can’t wait to get back to my studio to play and exercise my signature strengths.  I thrive on the process of discovery and I want to paint something better than I did yesterday.  I have come to realise, I love (the development of) my work more than what it produces.  
 

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The art of being idle

It takes discipline to have creative freedom

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, It takes discipline to have creative freedom
©Stuart Bush, Empire state of mind, mixed media on canvas, 85 x 150cm
I crave for a life without physical, mental or financial constraints.  It has been my intention not to have limits on what I do, what I say or how I spend my time.  I want to make what I want, when I want.  One of the attractions of being an artist is the concept of free expression.  However, our culture, often wires us up to do what is safe and sensible.  In my experience, it takes discipline to have creative freedom.  
 
Commercial art is a good, sensible way of making a living from art.  It has a project outline, a list of do’s and don’ts and set deadlines. To get paid you need to do what is required. It ultimately has a boss saying, ‘you have to do this’, ‘this isn’t what the stakeholders are looking for,’ or ‘you need to make some changes’. But this isn’t the type of creative or artistic freedom I’m looking for.  

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Ideas behind Empire State of Mind painting
 
There is nothing wrong with someone else choosing this occupation.  I’m not being judgemental in any way.  I am personally not good at being told what to do.  Especially when it comes to my creativity.  Life would be boring if everyone choose the same route.
 
For me, a different route was required. When I was looking at job opportunities it was important to me that I found something that gave me time off during the week.  If I had time off in the week, I could follow what I love without having to struggle for money or time. The job I chose isn’t creative or artistic, but it is something I thought I would enjoy. Nevertheless, l chose it mainly as a way to pay the bills and give my family and me a good quality of life.
 
I am not saying working full time isn’t a comprise, it is.  However, there are clear benefits to this approach.  During the week with the rest of the family occupied with school or work I can be creative in my studio, there no-one is cracking the whip.  No-one is telling me what to do. This is great, however, it creates another problem.  Deep down I know I don’t have to work too hard because I don’t need to break out of poverty.
 

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What I struggle with as an artist
Over the years artists like Picasso, Matisse and Van Gogh unintentionally created a belief that to have freedom as an artist you need to be impoverished.  Picasso died in 1973 and this myth needs demystifying.  Things have changed drastically since then.  The world has become a different place since the internet.  Artists do a variety of different things to sustain a creative life alongside a family life.
 
I need to find ways to be more self-motivated. I don’t want to lose my direction and determination but at the moment my life style suits me.  If someone asked me if l would chose a job that is related to my art, but loose my creative freedom the answer is easy.  I want to be free to slay dragons.
 

Recommended link; 

Making a Mark - Blog
Yes, I have to work round everything else in my life.  Art has to come after family life, my job and hundreds of chores.  That’s fine. it just takes a bit of adjusting in order to create a balance.  I would love to do art instead of my full-time job. However, without money and life/work freedom, I won’t be able to work towards making the world a better place through my art.  Working to a brief of some kind would get in the way of my ideas.   
 
Everyone wants freedom.  As an artist I should do the things that I have to do in order to do the things I want to do.  I realise I am fortunate to have realised that it can take the opposite of freedom to have artistic freedom.  It takes self-control and direction if you want the benefits of being your own creative boss.  It takes willpower and self-mastery to be able to make what you want when you want.  To be able to prioritise my relationship with my creative work takes an unbelievable amount of discipline to have creative freedom. 
 

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The benefits of Adversity

Anni Albers weaves her magic

Stuart Bush Studio blog, Anni Albers Wall Hangings
Anni Albers Wall Hanging 1926 Mercerized cotton, silk, 2032 x 1207 mm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Purchase, Everfast Fabrics Inc. and Edward C. Moore Jr. Gift, 1969 © 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, London
Anni Albers at Tate Modern (11 October 2018 – 27 January 2019)
There was clearly was a buzz in the room when I entered the show at the Tate Modern. It was Saturday afternoon and the show was packed with inquisitive faces.  The Anni Alber’s exhibition was arranged to highlight her life’s work and show how her ambitious ideas started.  The ancient craft of weaving portrays the potential to impact peoples lives with beauty and functionality on its own terms. Textiles are at the heart of many cultures and this knowledge is passed on through the generations.  In this exhibition Anni Albers weaves her magic, by combining the attitude of the Bauhaus with the roots of modern abstraction.   
 
When looking for an exciting art exhibition, textiles is not something I am usually drawn to.  Similarly this must of been how Anni Albers felt when she joined the Bauhaus. On her arrival at the Bauhaus in 1922, Albers was encouraged to participate in the ‘Women’s workshop’ and dissuaded from joining the men’s painting class.  Although Anni was initially unenthusiastic about weaving, it was probably the best thing that ever happened to her.  
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Anni Albers weaving in her studio
Anni Albers in her weaving studio at Black Mountain College, 1937
Weaving has the potential to interlink many disciplines including art, design and craftmanship. Here Albers was able to explore her creative ideas away from any direct male competition.  She found a unique way forward incorporating beauty and delight in the structural principles of textiles and abstraction.  Textiles allowed her see the perfect marriage of grids, lines and repetitive patterns.

Anni Albers weaves her magic

Josef and Anni Albers Foundation
 
Albers was able to fully capitalise on the Bauhaus way of teaching by going back to basics where form follows function.  She saw the opportunity to combine it with ideas from highly influential key figures around her. People like Josef Albers, the painter and colourist who she married in 1925, and the painter Paul Klee.  Her weavings and wall art helped Anni Albers earn a passport to the US, enabling Albers and her husband to flee from the rise of the Nazi party in 1933.
Stuart Bush Studio Blog, Anni Albers TR II
Anni AlbersTR II1970Lithograph50.5 x 55.6 cmThe Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, Bethany CT© 2018 The Josef and Anni Albers Foundation/Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York/DACS, LondonPhoto: Tim Nighswander/Imaging4Art
From the US, Albers made frequent trips to Peru, Cuba, Chile and Mexico.  These inspiring trips encouraged her to see textiles from a new perspective.  She found, that weaving was capable of serving a communication purpose in different cultures with no written language.  It was also able to compete with painting and sculpture; and had an impact on architecture and printmaking. 
 
Albers took massive strides forward with what she later called ‘pictorial weavings’. The amalgamation of geometric abstraction into textiles were beautiful artworks in their own right.  Albers cemented her position in the world of art by hanging her weavings on the wall, competing directly with other forms of art like painting.  She became a catalyst in the revolution between arts and craft, aesthetics and function. The ideas developed at the Bauhaus have filtered into our daily life.   I recommend a trip to see this thought provoking interlace of ideas.
 

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Colour is for squares - Exhibition review of Josef Albers, 'Sunny side up'

The inspirational work of Franz Kline

Stuart Bush Studio Blog Franz Kline
Franz Kline, Vawdavitch, 1955. Oil on canvas, all rights remain with the artist
The first time I saw the inspirational work of Franz Kline was at the Abstract Expressionist exhibition in 2017 at the Royal Academy in London. Prior to that, I had only seen Kline’s work in reproductions in books.  I had always been intrigued and impressed by his paintings and when I saw his original work for the first time l was not disappointed. Kline’s work had a strong impact on me. It evoked the feeling and emotions that l have about the city.  It reminded me of the grandeur and the scale of the New York skyline.  Using line and form, his mainly black and white paintings, ask ‘Is this really what reality is about?’
 
Early in Kline’s career, he visited Willem de Kooning’s studio.  At that time Kline was drawing and painting representational images.  De Kooning introduced Kline to a Bell-Opticon enlarger.  When Kline’s representational drawings were projected onto a canvas Kline saw a new way forward. The images inspired Kline to make an experimental leap into abstraction.  
 
Throughout his career Kline was reluctant to talk about his art.  Unfortunately, the lack of dialogue had an impact on his career.  With little confabulation about what he was working towards, collectors since his death, have focused on other Abstract Expressionist like, De Kooning, Pollock and Rothko.   
 

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Abstract expressionism at the Royal Acamdemy of Arts, London
His painting process of white over black, over white in repetition using household paint is a sign that Kline saw his painting practice as different.  Household paints are clearly less expensive and less refined. But they enabled him to paint in his own, unique style using a mixture of high gloss and matt. However, at times it seemed like he was not striving for fine art, and not striving for durability of his legacy.  
Stuart Bush Studio Blog Franz Kline
Franz Kline, Andrus, 1961, All rights remain with the artist
 
In fact, Kline’s art showed other priorities.  It contained is a lot of intangible realness, which examined the grittiness and abrasiveness of the city.  There is a sense of the physical danger in the New York streets as law and order was fraying.  
 
Kline’s art was based on personal vision and inner thoughts, influenced by what he saw around him; the streets of New York and Jazz Music. Abstract painting and Jazz music without words suggests a profound correlation with the way people experience the city.  Each painting had its own rhythm. Line, colour and form were influenced by melody, harmony and rhythm like in the free jazz compositions of Miles Davis.  The paintings reflected the streets.  When looking at a Kline painting you have a unique sense that they go deeper and beyond the surface.
 

Related post; The inspirational work of Franz Kline

Abstract Expressionism - A time line of history, The Met
Kline’s painting technique was able to capture a visual intelligence as his captured forms competed with each other.  By the subtraction and the addition of new forms throughout his painting, he looks at the subtracted nature and essence in the city.  He envokes the stillness and movement, the noise and silence, the negative and positive, and the absence and presence. The result is a personal account and a romancing of the poetic qualities of the city that challenges the notion of beauty.  The limited palette hints that Kline may have a lack of knowledge about colour, but Kline’s seeks to evoke feelings by using the colours he sees when he looks up from street level.  
 
Kline work evokes a tangible experience.  There is a joy of geometry from the colossal departure from nature.  The drawings that started as representational, distilled and reframed through a projector find a response to genuine psychological needs within the details. Through light and dark you are drawn to the shape of something impalpable.  The resulting sculptural forms painted with abstract values, suggest a path to truth.  Kline appears to ask what the significance of each experiences is?   His work is certainly subjective.
 

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What I have learnt from Alex Katz

An art collector’s role in society

Stuart Bush Studio Blog, an art collectors role in society, he has never been in love, he doesn't know what love is
©Stuart Bush, He has never been in love, he doesn’t even know what love is, gouache on cartridge paper, 43 x 24 cm
In Malcolm Gladwell’s book, ‘David and Goliath, Underdogs, Misfits and the Art of Battling Giants,’ Gladwell considers how disadvantages can be advantageous.  I found his book insightful and it made me think about the art collectors role in society.
 
The book starts with the story about the conventional interpretation of the familiar biblical tale of David and Goliath.  In the story David is the symbol of the underdog. However, Gladwell explains in his interpretation, that there is another view of the ‘underdog’.

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Finding a love for collecting art
 
David’s sling is a devastating weapon.  It was one of the most feared weapons in the ancient world. The stone that comes from David’s sling and has the equivalent power to that of a bullet from a 45 calibre pistol.  It also sounds like Goliath is a guy who can’t see.  There are many suggestions in the story that Goliath is suffering from acromegaly which is a benign tumour on the pituitary gland.  The side effect of the cyst is that it can cause restricted sight.  
 
Gladwell explains the story is really about a big lumbering guy weighed down with armour. Plus, Goliath can’t see much more than a few feet in front of himself.  He is going up against a courageous kid running at him with a devastating weapon which has the power of 45 calibre handgun.  That is not the story of a so-called underdog.
 

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Wishing for dyslexia - also inspired by 'David and Goliath' by Malcolm Gladwell
This can be related to being an artist.  As an artist you have to have the courage to stand and say, “I have a new way of doing things, and I don’t care if you think I’m crazy.”  As an art collector; they have to look for that craziness, if they want to find a David.   
 
On the face of it, every artist could be a David.  But by choosing carefully and looking for what is not apparent, the art collectors role in society is to recognise the advantages that an artist protrays in his work that will make him successful.  Once the advantages have been spotted by an art collector, the collector needs to support the artist and to root for them.  Thereby building a mutually beneficial relationship. 
 
“If there’s a Goliath in front of you that means there’s a David inside of you,” Carlos Rodriguez.

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How I see art contributing to society