Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Edvard Munch: The Graphic Works

10/04/19
Edvard Munch: The Graphic Works

Edvard Munch: love and angst
British Museum
11 April – 21 July 

Although best known today for his paintings, it was through his graphic works that Edvard Munch made his international name. This exhibition at the British Museum, London – the largest of his prints in 45 years and compiled in collaboration with Norway’s Munch Museum – brings together some of his most iconic images, and reunites a number of prints with their matrices, elucidating the various processes involved in their making. Norwegian Arts looks at the artist’s experimental use of lithography, etching and woodcut.


Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s inscription at the foot of an 1896 black-and-white lithographic print of his iconic painting The Scream (1893) – ‘I felt the great scream throughout nature’ – is almost as soul-wrenching and shudder-inducing as the world-famous image itself. According to Giulia Bartrum, the curator of the British Museum’s forthcoming exhibition, ‘Edvard Munch: love and angst’ (11 April to 21 July), the wide-mouthed figure shown covering his or her ears, long assumed to be screaming, might, in fact, be hearing the scream rather than uttering it. The full title of the work, The Scream of Nature, similarly supports this standpoint. Either way, the very fact that such discussion is still ongoing, 126 years after the painting of the picture, shows the enduring appeal and intrigue of the Symbolist artist’s work. This lithograph will be one of more than 80 works on display, primarily comprising prints, from the period between 1894, when Munch first began experimenting with graphic media, and the first decade of the 20th century. During this time, Munch travelled a lot between Kristiania (modern-day Oslo), Paris and Berlin. It was in Berlin that he made his first print, aged 30. 


Read the full feature on the Norwegian Arts site






Monday, 25 March 2019

Spotlight: Milton Keynes

25/03/19






Published in the spring 2019 issue of Art Quarterly, and online here



Preview of Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern

25/03/19



Published in the spring 2019 issue of Art Quarterly

Review of John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing at Two Temple Place, London

25/03/19
John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing
Two Temple Place, London
26 January – 22 April 2019

With the bicentenary of his birth on 8 February this year, there is, deservedly, a renewed interest in the Victorian polymath, John Ruskin: a writer, whose collected publications run to 38 volumes; an art critic; an artist; a teacher; a social commentator; a collector; and, importantly, a supporter of artists. His anniversary is being marked by a plethora of exhibitions around the country, including several at Brantwood (his final home in the Lake District); Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud: Watercolours and Drawings, which is touring from York Art Gallery (29 March – 23 June) to Abbot Hall Art Gallery, in Kendal, on the edge of the Lakes (12 July – 5 October); and John Ruskin: Art & Wonder at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield (29 May – 15 September). The latter is a further iteration of the exhibition, John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing, currently on display in the neo-gothic mansion, Two Temple Place, on the Embankment, London, which celebrates primarily Ruskin’s intentional legacy, the Guild of St George. 



Read the full review here




Saturday, 23 March 2019

Interview with Miriam de Búrca

23/03/19
Interview with Miriam de Búrca

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Through her work, Miriam de Búrca (b1972, Munich) seeks to draw attention to burial sites in Ireland known as cilliní, where, as recently as the 1980s, anyone deemed unworthy by the Catholic church of a burial in consecrated ground was laid to rest – or, rather, not to rest, since theology teaches that their unblessed souls remain for ever in limbo. These unfortunate and unknown strangers include stillborn or unbaptised babies, unmarried mothers, those who have taken their own lives, the mentally ill and excommunicates. The absence of headstones adds to the wilful desire to make people forget and to suppress this long chapter of Irish history. But De Búrca believes it should be remembered – those buried should be remembered – and, by making careful drawings of the plants growing on the graves and, in the process, paying absolute attention to detail, she seeks to pay back some of the attention that those buried have been denied. Having finished with the sods of earth in her studio, she then returns them to the graves, hoping further to show a sign of respect and return some of the lost dignity. 



Watch the interview here

Interview with Joy Gerrard

23/03/19
Interview with Joy Gerrard

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Working with hand-ground Japanese ink, Joy Gerrard (b1971, Dublin) makes small drawings and large canvases depicting bird’s-eye views of mass protests, here specifically anti-Brexit and anti-Trump marches from June 2018. Consciously working from media images – primarily stills from helicopter footage – which she collects in their hundreds, Gerrard selects those images that she will turn into her monochrome drawings, getting to know the image and memorialising it in the process. From these, she then may select a couple to work up into a large canvas – using the same medium, but to very different, almost abstract effect. This time, she works from the drawing, concentrating on areas of tone and shade, creating a strong composition, built up in small sections. Overall, her aim is to make visible the masses who attend these protests, which she strongly believes canmake a difference. Her work not only takes protest – and remembrance – as its themes, but it is, in itself, a form of protest.



Watch the interview here



Interview with Mary Griffiths

23/03/19
Interview with Mary Griffiths

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Mary Griffiths (b1965, the Wirral) has long been making drawings of (frequently derelict) industrial sites. A year and a half ago, she was introduced to Astley Green Colliery, a former coalmine in Lancashire, which was closed in 1970 and knocked down but for its winding house and headgear – rare examples of 1908 working-class engineering. Spending time at the site, walking around the surrounding geography, reclaimed by nature with trees, grass and mosses, and talking to the volunteers (the colliery is now a museum), Griffiths filled myriad A6 sketchpads with figurative drawings, focusing on aspects that intrigued her, from details of the machinery to a visiting colony of pigeons. From these drawings, she then extrapolated her larger abstract works, made on plywood, with layers of acrylic gesso, and even more layers of graphite, pushed into the board and burnished, before being cut into with an etching needle. Using thousands of straight lines, placed at minutely different angles, she creates an oscillating effect reminiscent of the surface geography of the region. One work, Wild Honey, for example, represents the seams of the coalmine, the waterways and the main roads. Griffiths sees her work as “an identification of the remarkable work that was done in industrial areas” across the country, and it is important to her to capture something of the “gravity and splendour” of the working-class engineering.




Watch the interview here



Interview with Barbara Walker

23/03/19
Interview with Barbara Walker

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Barbara Walker (b1964, Birmingham) describes herself as a “scavenger” for information. She typically works on topics that are new to her, whereby she is learning and being stimulated. For this seven-year (to date) project, looking at the contribution of black soldiers to British war efforts – from the first world war to the recent and contemporary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – she has spent time in archives, ranging from the Imperial War Museums to the US Congress, and even on eBay. Although the soldiers she draws are unknown to her, she feels they become like her children, and she gets to know them over time. Her works vary in scale, from small, often embossed pieces, to larger-than-life wall drawings. These latter are washed off at the end of the exhibition and live on only in photographs and, most importantly, people’s memories. Walker uses simple materials and methods, and her goal is to seduce the audience, and give the anonymous soldiers power: claiming a space for them and giving them a voice. Studio International spoke to Walker while she worked on her wall drawing for the exhibition. 



Watch this interview here





Thursday, 14 February 2019

Interview with Christine Lindey

14/02/19
Interview: Christine Lindey

Christine Lindey’s recent publication, Art for All. British Socially Committed Art from the 1930s to the Cold War, looks at a mid-century era of artists deeply committed to their political beliefs and prepared to voice these unabashedly through their work. During eight years of research, Lindey uncovered many new or little-known names and her finished book reveals this untold story of 20th-century British art history, presenting 30 artists and looking not only at their work and activism, but at their background, education, means of patronage and struggles to make ends meet.


I spoke to Lindey by email and telephone to discuss some of this fascinating and inspiring history and to pull out contemporary resonances and lessons that might be learned. 

Read the full interview here



Friday, 8 February 2019

Harald Sohlberg: A National Treasure

08/02/19
Harald Sohlberg: Painting Norway
Dulwich Picture Gallery
13 February - 2 June

An Yves Kleinian blue is pierced by the bright, white light of the Evening Star. Beneath it, a range of white mountains rise and fall, like drapery, almost as if breathing, or foaming like the peaks of waves. In the foreground, eerie, bare and broken trees pierce the silent serenity, forming crosses and grave markers, as if amidst the rubble of a battlefield. A vivid expression of the sublime – although, perhaps equally a precursor of the uncanny shivers of the surreal – Winter Night in the Mountains (1914) is arguably the most ambitious work of Norwegian artist Harald Sohlberg (1869-1935), and is widely considered to be the ‘national painting of Norway’. It remained his obsession for 14 years, and he produced many versions in his attempts to capture exactly what he wanted.


Although less well known outside of his home country than his contemporary Edvard Munch, Sohlberg is nevertheless being described by Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, as ‘one of the greatest masters of landscape painting in the history of Norwegian art’. Denying the influence of other artists on his work, and attributing the origins of his ‘artistic awakening’ to his own psyche, his oeuvre unites elements of Romanticism, Naturalism and Symbolism, always drawing on the Nordic landscape and its vast potential to depict both the earthly and the infinite. As Dario Gamboni describes in his catalogue essay to accompany the gallery’s forthcoming exhibition, ‘Harald Sohlberg: Painting Norway’ (13 February to 2 June), whereas Munch chose to foreground the human figure, treating the landscape as an additional expression of ‘a state of the soul’, Sohlberg focused primarily on the landscape, with the merest hint of human presence. This exhibition, which is travelling from the Nasjonal Museet, Oslo, marks the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth and will be the first solo exhibition of his work outside of Norway. 


Read the full feature for Norwegian Arts here