Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Interview with Louise Cattrell

Interview: Louise Cattrell

Louise Cattrell: Another Place
71 Blandford Street, London, W1
Presented by Payne Shurvell
15 April – 16 May 2015 

Originally from Glasgow, Louise Cattrell likes to travel. She has had artist residencies all over the world, in places as diverse as Switzerland, Bulgaria, America, Sri Lanka and the Australian desert. The landscapes that she paints – in oil, but weakened with turpentine to the point of looking almost like watercolour – are from memory and often end up as an amalgamation of different places. Some of her canvases are large, but she also challenges herself to work on a smaller scale, capturing and containing the vast expanses of the sea, the sky and the mountains within the frame.

Monday, 27 April 2015

Interview with Bryan Kneale

Interview: Bryan Kneale

Bryan Kneale: Five Decades
Pangolin London
25 March – 2 May 2015

Bryan Kneale RA (b1930) was born and grew up on the Isle of Man, where, in the postwar years, art books were not easy to get hold of, but the library had volumes of the then Studio magazine, which he used to pore over and draw inspiration from. His ideas come from everywhere, though: in particular, Kneale recalls a lump of shrapnel from a German bomb that his father brought home for him when he was bedridden with whooping cough. This story, which Kneale told us at Pangolin London, where he is currently showing five decades of his work in a mini-retrospective, is expanded on in the catalogue that accompanies the exhibition.

Full of tales, Kneale also talks about his unconventional ways of working with metal and forming new shapes. Elected a Royal Academician in 1974 (after being made an Associate in 1970), Kneale famously accepted the honour only on condition that he could mount an exhibition – the Academy’s first – of abstract sculpture. Including the work of 24 sculptors active in the UK at the time, it has since been described as “the most groundbreaking exhibition of contemporary sculpture held in Britain”.

Kneale originally trained as a painter, studying first at Douglas School of Art and then at the Royal Academy Schools from 1948 to 1952. Today, alongside sculpting, he also draws, and some of his works on paper are included in this exhibition. Despite suffering a serious stroke two years ago, Kneale continues to make work – albeit with a little help where necessary – and his ideas haven’t dwindled at all. Nor has his wry sense of humour. He began by telling Studio International about the risk of death by sculpture …

Friday, 24 April 2015

Review of FB55 in the Fox Reading Room, ICA

Fox Reading Room, ICA
24 March – 17 May 2015

This was supposed to be a small but fascinating celebration of the 60th anniversary of Francis Bacon’s first exhibition at the ICA. Instead, the business of curating the show became for Gregor Muir, the ICA director, a mystery of the disappearing archive. “I had hoped to show installation shots, I had hoped to show photos of Bacon at the ICA, and I had hoped to present a room in which I could show what the exhibition looked like,” he explains, “but that was, in the end, impossible.”

For whatever reason, there is scarcely any documentation of the 1955 exhibition. Muir scoured the ICA archives from the time, now held at Tate, but all he could find was a test print of an invitation card (through sheer luck, he later chanced on an actual card in a nearby bookshop); the press release; a list of works; and one photograph of an ICA employee standing in front of one of the works, hanging in the then Dover Street Market premises.

So why persist in making a show out of, well, virtually nothing?

To read the rest of this review, please go to: http://www.studiointernational.com/index.php/fb55-francis-bacon-archival-display-review-ica

The Independents: Paul Stolper, Maria Stenfors, Rebecca May Marston (Limoncello)


Published in Issue 17 of State magazine, Spring 2015

Profile: Mila Askarova and Gazelli Art House


Published in Issue 17 of State magazine, Spring 2015

Eurostate: Baku


Published in Issue 17 of State magazine, Spring 2015

Periscope: Eileen Cooper at the Royal Academy and Xavier White at Bethlem Gallery


Published in Issue 17 of StateF22, Spring 2015

Thursday, 23 April 2015

A Snapshot of the Mind. Essay on mental health, photography and the work of Daniel Regan

A Snapshot of the Mind
Essay on mental health, photography and the work of Daniel Regan

Living with mental health issues is not easy. First, there is the struggle with the issues themselves, then there is the stigma attached. Society, in its general ignorance, has a fear of certain diagnoses – certain labels – and, as a result, many of us hide our struggles in shame. Feeling alone, feeling isolated, feeling like no one else could ever possibly feel – or do – as you do, let alone understand, is shaming – and shame is nothing if not self-perpetuating.

Recently, with the opening of the newly renovated Bethlem Gallery, I saw some work which shook me – shook me in a positive way – because, in it, I recognised my own behaviours, my own coping (or non-coping) mechanisms, my own shame. The relief of such cataclysmic moments, when, through looking at art, I am reminded that, actually, I am not alone, is always immense. Since this day, a few weeks back, I have been looking around for more artists whose work touches upon mental health and I was happily reminded of photographer Daniel Regan, whom I first met just over a year ago. Looking at Daniel’s work – as I have been in earnest this past week – has opened more doors to self-recognition, to feeling less alone, to a sense of hope, and to a pride – a pride in Daniel for being ‘one of us’ who is willing to speak out, to reach out, and, who, by empowering himself, empowers other people.

This essay was commissioned by Photoworks as part of their What Are You Looking At? ideas series.
To read the rest of this essay, please go to: http://photoworks.org.uk/snapshot-of-the-mind/

Daniel Regan

Interview with Shirin Neshat at Yarat Contemporary Art Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan

Interview: Shirin Neshat

Shirin Neshat: The Home of My Eyes 
Yarat Contemporary Art Centre, Baku, Azerbaijan 
23 March - 23 June 2015

Shirin Neshat, who was born in Iran in 1957, became internationally recognised in 1999 when her film Turbulent (1998) won the international prize at the Venice Biennale. The two-channel black-and-white film made a stark comment on the inequality of gender roles and the invisibility of women in Middle Eastern culture, using the medium of ancient Persian music and poetry. Poetry also often features in her still photographic works, inscribed on the portraits in beautiful calligraphy.

For the opening of the Yarat Contemporary Art Centre in Baku, Azerbaijan, Neshat has produced a new body of work, The Home of My Eyes, comprising 55 monochromatic portraits of local Azeri people, each overlaid with a mixture of Persian poetry and the subject’s own answers to four key questions:

• What does home mean to you?
• If you had to define an image of Azerbaijan, what would it be?
• What makes you most proud of being Azeri?
• What is your favourite celebration?

The works are hung on the two facing walls of the imposing 11-metre-high gallery in a converted Soviet-era naval building. Neshat describes the commission as a “portrait of the country” – a country that has only been in existence since 1991, when it gained independence from the Soviet Union, and borders on to her own native homeland, to which she has not returned since 1996.