Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Roger Ackling - Annely Juda Fine Art

Roger Ackling, Voewood, 2013 (Sunlight on wood)
Roger Ackling: Simple Gifts is at Annely Juda Fine Art until 7 May 2015. 
This exhibition presents Roger Ackling's last works - he died in June 2014. As I wrote on that occasion:
Roger Ackling drew with light. His working method remained remarkably consistent from the 1960s until his death - indeed, Sylvia Ackling reported that he often said that he was 'always making the same work.'(1) His method was to focus the rays of the sun through a magnifying glass and burn lines onto pieces of found wood or card. The modestly scaled pieces have about them something of Minimalism, something of Conceptual Art, something of the Wabi-Sabi aesthetic he admired. They are simple, beautiful, perfectly imperfect. (See full entry below with images and links to obituaries.)
The works in this exhibition are mainly made with driftwood and salvaged material collected by his friends and family along the beaches of Norfolk and given to Ackling: 'Simple Gifts'.
The publication of an overview of Ackling's work (Roger Ackling: Between the Lines) has been proposed as a Kickstarter project - click here to help fund it and watch a short video about Ackling and the project.
(1) Sylvia Ackling (1998), 'Lines of Latitude', in Roger Ackling: Set Aside, London: Annely Juda Fine Art, [p53]
Roger Ackling, Voewood, 2010 (Sunlight on wood)
Roger Ackling, Voewood, 2013 (Sunlight on wood)
Roger Ackling, Voewood, 2013 (Sunlight on wood)
Roger Ackling, Voewood, 2013 (Sunlight on wood)
Roger Ackling, Voewood, 2013 (Sunlight on wood with metal)
Roger Ackling, Voewood, 2010 (Sunlight on wood)

Roger Ackling, Voewood, 2013 (Sunlight on wood)
Roger Ackling, Voewood, 2012 (Sunlight on wood)

Friday, 27 March 2015

Albert Irvin, 1922 - 2015

Albert Irvin, Cathay, 1979 (7' x 10')
Albert Irvin died 26 March 2015.
I am very sad to hear of the death of Albert Irvin. I met Bert in the 1980s when he was teaching at Goldsmiths and I worked in the art library there. He was a charming, generous man and a great painter. He was completely dedicated to his art -  passionate about colour and the very stuff of paint: Turner was his 'home-bred god'.
Irvin left art school in 1950 and so was of the generation to experience the fresh impact of American Abstract Expressionism, notably through exhibitions at the Tate (Modern Art in the United States, 1956, The New American Painting, 1959) and the Whitechapel (Jackson Pollock, 1958). Irvin responded to the gestural energy and large scale of the American painting and in due course fully embraced total abstraction, developing his own distinctive formal language.
For me, the work of the late 1970s and early 1980s is particularly wonderful: to enter a gallery of these large, open, gorgeously coloured paintings is a joyous experience.
The paintings illustrated here are some of my personal favourites.
Read obituary by Mike Tooby.
Watch a short video of Irvin talking about his work in the Tate  and on the occasion of his retrospective at King's Place Gallery.
Read an article by Sam Cornish at Abstract Critical.
See more work at Albert Irvin website and at BBC - Your Paintings.
Albert Irvin, Glow, 1971 (5' x 6')
Albert Irvin, Cressy, (7' x 10')
Albert Irvin, Hannibal, 1975 (8' x 14')
Albert Irvin, Nightingale, 1977 (5’10” x 6’8")
Albert Irvin, Paradise, 1979 (7' x 10')
Albert Irvin, Plimsoll, 1979 (7' x 10')
Albert Irvin, Mile End, 1980 (7' x 10')
Albert Irvin, Orlando, 1980 (7' x 10')
Albert Irvin, Sul Ross, 1981 (7' x 10')
Albert Irvin, Linden, 1983 (7' x 10')

Saturday, 21 March 2015

Sean Scully - Cheim & Reid, NY

Sean Scully, Landline Yellow Yellow, 2014
Sean Scully: Landline is at Cheim & Reid, New York until 4 April 2015.
Sean Scully was interviewed on Front Row (broadcast 20 March, listen here) discussing his recent work, his forthcoming exhibition in Venice (6 May-22 November 2015) and his retrospective just opened in Beijing (随心而行:肖恩·斯库利艺术展,1964-2014伦敦|纽约).
In another recent interview Scully commented: "I’m not one of these people who is privileged with doubt. I look at my paintings sometimes and I think they’re fucking wonderful. I love them.” Well, me too - love his paintings that is; I have plenty of doubts!
So, although I won't get to see the wonderful work currently on show in New York (or the exhibitions in Venice and Beijing, come to that) I will make do with a selection of reproductions here.
(See also entry below.)
Read interview with Mark Lawson, listen to interview with John Wilson,  read Sean Scully on Why Abstraction Still Matters,
Sean Scully, Landline Wave, 2014
Sean Scully, Landline Pale Yellow, 2014
Sean Scully, Landline Fire, 2014
Sean Scully, Landline Beach, 2014
Sean Scully, Landline Skyline, 2014
Sean Scully, installation at Cheim & Reid, 2015

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

History is Now - Hayward Gallery

Bloodhound Mark 2 Surface-to-Air Missile and Launcher, c1965-66
History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain is at the Hayward Gallery until 26 April 2015.
This was potentially a wonderful exhibition - but it's got problems.
The following artists were invited to curate sections of an exhibition responding to perceptions of post-war and contemporary Britain: John Akomfrah, Simon Fujiwara, Roger Hiorns, Hannah Starkey, Richard Wentworth and Jane and Louise Wilson.
As Adrian Searle observed in his (generous) review 'artists can make good curators'; in this instance Richard Wentworth proves himself to be an outstanding one; however, unfortunately, Roger Hiorns and, to a lesser extent, John Akrofuma, prove to be disastrous ones. Hiorns has accumulated a vast, indigestible mass of information about BSE; Akomfrah has curated a very interesting selection of films from the Arts Council collection - but, he has chosen no less than 17 films requiring some 9 hours viewing time! I had allowed an afternoon for the whole show - it is simply frustrating and irritating to be confronted with so much material.
As for the other artists: Fujiwara's selection begins strongly with a massive piece of coal which neatly evokes both Britain's proud industrial heritage and the shameful trauma of Thatcher's destruction of that industry. However, the rest of his display is less compelling - and I really didn't want to watch a video of the 9 year old Fujiwara's school perfomance of Mary Poppins!
Jane and Louise Wilson's section is an interestingly idiosyncratic take on recent history, encompassing Northern Ireland, Greenham Common and the new town development of Peterlee involving artist Victor Pasmore; Hannah Starkey has raided the Arts Council photography collection and selected some great, if largely familiar, material.
The saving grace of the whole show is Richard Wentworth's characteristically witty and imaginative take on post-war Britain, responding to the 1946 'Britain Can Make It' exhibition, the founding of the National Health Service (1946), the Festival of Britain (1951), the onset of the Cold War and the burgeoning consumer society. Wentworth's selection ranges from a modest box of pebbles collected by Henry Moore to the spectacle of a 1964 Bloodhound Surface-to-Air missile, looking dissarmingly at home on the Hayward's roof terrace. Work by Hepworth, Nicholson, Moore, Nash, Paolozzi and others combine in an evocative and aesthetically engaging representation of British culture.
All the images below are from Wentworth's section.
Red reviews by Adrian Searle, Alastair Sooke, Waldemar Januszczak, Michael Prodger and Sarah Kent.
Henry Moore, Stringed Figure, 1939
Paul Nash, Battle of Britain, 1941
L.S. Lowry, July, the Seaside, 1943
War Office: briefing model - part of Juno and Sword beaches (D-Day), 1944
Barbara Hepworth, Reconstruction (Hospital Drawing), 1947
Ben Nicholson, November 11-47 (Moushole), 1947
Ben Nicholson, Festival of Britain Mural, 1951
Henry Grant, Londoners Relax on Tower Beach, 1952
Eduardo Paolozzi, from Bunk (Improved Beans), 1947-52
John Bratby, Still Life with Chip Frier, 1954
Reg Butler, Working model for The Unknown Political Prisoner, 1955-56
Nigel Henderson, Head of a Man, 1956-61
Eduardo Paolozzi, The Frog, 1958
David Hockney, Going to be a Queen for Tonight, 1960
Tony Cragg, Britain Seen from the North, 1981
Installation of Bloodhound Mark 2 Surface-to-Air Missile, c1965-66, onto Hayward Gallery roof terrace

Monday, 16 March 2015

Richard Diebenkorn - Royal Academy

Richard Diebenkorn, Berkeley #57, 1955
Richard Diebenkorn is at the Royal Academy of Arts until 7 June 2015.
I had looked forward to this exhibition: I was not disappointed. In fact, my expectations were exceeded: this is a terrific show. 
I have, until now, had little opportunity to see Diebenkorn's work: despite his high standing in the US and his place in the histories of modern art (see, eg, Robert Hughes' Shock of the New (1980) pp159-60) he is, I believe, represented in the UK only by a single print in the Tate. Perhaps, for this reason his unfamiliar work seems so fresh.
As this modestly scaled exhibition makes clear, Diebenkorn began as an abstract painter, turned to figuration, and then turned again to abstraction and to what is generally regarded as the apotheosis of his career: the Ocean Park series. Somewhat to my surprise I particularly liked the middle period figurative work. However, all the work is marked by a finely tuned judgement, a precise balance of colour and form. Beautiful.
Click on images to enlarge.
Richard Diebenkorn, Albuquerque #4, 1951
Richard Diebenkorn, Seated Man, 1956
Richard Diebenkorn, Woman by the Ocean, 1956
Richard Diebenkorn, Girl on a Terrace, 1956
Richard Diebenkorn, Seawall, 1957
Richard Diebenkorn, Scissors, 1959
Richard Diebenkorn, Cityscape #1, 1963
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #43, 1971
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #79, 1975
Richard Diebenkorn, Ocean Park #116, 1979