Art: Antony Gormley

Another artist that does not need an introduction (particularly in the UK), the Antony Gormley exhibition is being held at Main Galleries in the Royal Academy of Arts until 3 December 2019.

From the British coastline to the rooftops of Manhattan, Antony Gormley’s sculptures are recognised across the world. With work from his 45-year career alongside major new installations created for our galleries, we present his most ambitious exhibition in more than ten years. – RA

Antony Gormley

Gormley is an internationally renowned sculptor, with a focus on the human body, though never really portrayed in its realistic form like Da Vinci. Instead, for Gormley, the body is a “vessel for feeling” and describes it as a “place”.

He has stretched the understanding of our bodies and makes one rethink how we interact with the world. I think the video below summarises succinctly what he is trying to do and captures how his works can make one feel, in particular, the description that his works lead us to a “meditative, if not, worshipful” state is interesting. Perhaps, his most famous work is the Angel of the North, which is a public sculpture in Gateshead in the North of England.

Guide to the exhibition

The exhibition showcased Gormley’s use of elemental and industrial materials, including (a lot of) iron, steel, hand-beaten lead, seawater and clay. His work is raw and lacking in colour as if creating his own dystopia.

  • The Courtyard: Before you enter the exhibition, do look out for my favourite piece of the whole exhibition is the Iron Baby (1999). This lifesize form of a baby curled up on its front is based on Gormley’s six-day-old daughter. She is vulnerable to the elements to remind us of our precarious position in relation to our planetary future, which is something we have to face and tackle.
  • Room 1Slabworks (2019) uses building blocks made of steel, the industrial works look like a pile of artfully placed lego pieces, but as you walk and look closer, each reveals their human form.
  • Room 2: This room showcases his early experimental works made in the 1970s and early 80s. The piece to look out for his other infamous materials he uses for his art – bread. Mother’s Pride V (first made in 1982), is an outline of the body where the void was created by the simple act of eating.
  • Room 3: Probably one of the more advertised pieces of the exhibition – this is something that I have never seen before, but a whole room filled from floor to ceiling of an 8km coiled aluminium tube. Clearing VII (2019) is to challenge the boundaries of sculpture. To get to Room 4 the viewer has to navigate through the tubes – I challenge you on how to get through without touching the artwork!
  • Room 4: A single life-size body form, with its head, bent, as if in contemplation. The use of space is interesting in this room as if the individual is seeking solace.
  • Room 5: One of my favourite rooms in the exhibition, pushing the boundaries of the space within the RA, this vast hall houses the Matrix III (2019) is a vast cloud of recycled (98%) steel mesh. Truly mesmerising.
  • Room 6: Three highly tensioned steel bars zip through several rooms of the gallery. Though extremely abstract, it is one of the more striking pieces of the exhibition, Co-ordinate VI (2019). Passing through several rooms, you wonder where the line starts and whether it ever stops as it disappears into the walls and through the roof.
  • Room 7: I really enjoyed the sketches in this room; it is the only room in the exhibition where there wasn’t a sculpture. Some of the drawings were chaotic, something similar to what you see in a scary movie after the kid is possessed by a spirit, yet was a very interesting insight into the development of Gormley’s ideas.
  • Room 8: Lost Horizon I (2008), where the floating cast iron bodies. The purpose of this room is to deny us the horizontal line in which we orient our lives it was disconcerting for myself!
  • Room 9: Body and Fruit (1991/93) These two big hanging “fruits” originated from the artist’s body, held tightly in a foetal position and then using wooden batons project outwards, which is then cast in iron, to form the shape we see it in this room (really weird to be honest). It is suspended just inches from the floor, emphasising its stillness in contrast to our movement around them.
  • Room 10: probably my least favourite room, these Concrete Works (1990-93), are large concrete blocks, each concealing a void in the form of the body.
  • Room 11: A spectacular piece Cave (2019)is an architectural sculpture. The vastness of this piece just blew my mind. At the doorway, it is possible to enter into the cave or it is possible to walk around the structure – I would recommend doing both. It is supposedly a body crouched on its side but I did not manage to see it on the day…Made from rolled steel; the form and differing lines just meant that every angle was a beautiful piece of art. I am very interested to learn how the artist managed to get it within the space of the RA, please do let me know if you know how he did it!
  • Room 12: More drawings, with some made from blood.  Look out for the two sculptures made of hand-rolled clay on the floor!
  • Room 13Host (2019)gives another experience, similar to the installation 20:50 (1987) by Richard Wilson. You stand to look through a doorway, to another directly on the other side, and it is filled with clay and seawater. The water reflects the door and the sky roof above; reflecting the changing light and gradually transforming.

Verdict

An immersive experience, Gormley’s art made me reflect on my body and provoked thoughts on how I interacted in the world. The industrial materials used, as I mentioned before, seems to reflect another life – a dystopian world. Recommend this exhibition for his fans and sculpture lovers. However, it may not be for everyone. Though I found it interesting, after walking through the rooms, there a slight sadness when I realised my favourite piece was free to see in the courtyard…

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Helene Schjerfbeck

Maria (1909)

Tomorrow is the last day for the exhibition of Helen Schjerfbeck at the Royal Academy of Arts (RA), for those who will be in London for the weekend, it is worthwhile stopping by and also seeing the Antony Gormley exhibition as well (I will write this up another time, I think Schjerfbeck was better). As many of my readers know, I really enjoy seeing art created by women artists. I knew very little about Schjerfbeck but thought it was opportune since I was already going to be at the RA to see Gormley. I am so glad I did!

She is described by the RA as one of Finland’s best-kept secrets and the exhibition is the first in the UK. Though she is little known where I am from, she is a Finnish national icon and rightly so. I really enjoyed the exhibition, her naturalistic and abstract style was warming and uplifting. She was a pioneer of her time, whilst her peers painted in the traditional Finnish style, she broke away and developed her own modern/contemporary style.

At the age of four, she fell and broke her hip which left her with a life long limp.  With a similar story to Edvard Munch, art was introduced to Schjerfbeck to pass time when she was unable to go to school. At the extraordinarly young age of 11, her talent was recognised and was offered a full scholarship at the Finnish Art Society. As she forged her own path, she has been an artist that could never be categorised. She constantly experimented with her techniques and took inspiration from other artists of the time.

Schjerfbeck lived through some of the most seismic shifts in modern art, from Impressionism to Surrealism. But she was never one to follow the crowd and forged her own path

Paintings to look out for

  • The Bakery (1887) – This was painted during her time in St Ives. In this painting Schjerfbeck captures the atmosphere through colour, light and composition. With the beautifully painted baked goods, it makes a very warming and comforting piece of art.
  • Woman with a Child (1887) – What I love about Schjerfbeck’s paintings is that she manages to capture warmth in a very unique way. Her art is just a pleasure to see. This intimate painting between the woman and child, the painting filled my heart with joy.
  • The Convalescent (1888) – The child-like curiosity and emotion. Wide-eyed and ethereal, it captures such an innocent moment.
  • Maria (1909) – The picture in my header, it is so simple, but her naturalistic style is captured very elegantly in this piece
  • Self-portrait with Palette (1937) – An excellent example of her varied painting styles, this very modern self-portrait vastly differs from her initial style.
  • Madonna de la Charité, El Grecon mukaan (1941) – Another wonderful example of her modern naturalistic style.

A wonderful exhibition and just a small insight into this remarkable artist, I hope that I would be able to go to Finland to see her other works. For those who won’t be able to make the exhibition in London, the video on the RA website gives a great summary of her work if you don’t get a chance to see it in person!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

 

Art: Leonardo da Vinci – A Life in Drawing

An individual who does not need an introduction is, of course, Leonardo da Vinci. Marking his death 500 years ago, the Royal Collection is displaying more than 200 of the 500 drawings in the collection at the Queen’s Gallery, Buckingham Palace. The exhibition will end soon on Sunday 13th October, so I thought that I would share my thoughts for all my readers so you have time to go before it closes! Tickets can be purchased here; it should be noted that the exhibition is extremely popular and it is recommended that tickets should be booked in advance.

I was extremely lucky that my best friend spotted there was a special talk being held at the gallery after hours. The tickets were limited we were able to explore the exhibition in relative peace (there were about 150 guests or so). I was extremely honoured to have listened to Martin Clayton, the curator and Heads of Prints and Drawings, give a unique insight into the mind of one of the history’s greatest thinkers. He also presents a lot of what he talked about in this wonderful video about his life.

The Exhibition

https://www.rct.uk/collection/search#/25/collection/912726/a-portrait-of-leonardo

The exhibition spans across three (and a bit) rooms, starting off with what is deemed the most reliable surviving portrait of Leonardo da Vinci by his favourite pupil Francesco Melzi. Most interestingly is the provenance of the painting and others in the collection which was bequeathed to Francesco Melzi; from whose heirs purchased by Pompeo Leoni, c.1582-90; which then made its way to England to Thomas Howard, 14th Earl of Arundel, by 1630; probably acquired by Charles II; Royal Collection by 1690.

Clayton explained that Da Vinci was revered in his day as a painter but only completed around 20 paintings. He was a respected sculptor and architect but none of these works or building survives today. He was also a military and civil engineer, but diverting the river Arno with Machiavelli was never completed. His astonishing works on anatomy was never published. I do wonder how the course of scientific discovery and understanding of the human body would have changed if only he shared his works with others!

Much of his life’s work never came into fruition or was destroyed, this is why the Royal Collection of his drawings and notes are invaluable to understanding his greatest achievements; and also why I encourage my readers to visit the exhibition. It is probably the last time in our generation that we can see all these displayed in one setting.

The Blue Room

In this room, there are other paintings by artists of the time and introduces a great variety of works and different subjects that Da Vinci researched and drew. One of my favourite pieces is the A man tricked by Gypsies (c.1943). Gypsies were banished from Milan in 1493 because of their reputation for fortune-telling and theft, this drawing was a satire on current events and probably for the entertainment of the Sforza court. This is the first time I had seen a more cultural/political drawing by the great artist, but I am extremely drawn to the piece because of the expressions and details on the faces. In this room, there is also a rather explicit drawing, again, not something I associated with Da Vinci – see if you can spot the piece – The hemisection of a man and woman in the act of coition (c.1490-92).

A man tricked by Gypsies

The Green Room

This room introduces Da Vinci as a military and civil engineer in addition to his cartography. In August 1502, the fifty-year-old Leonardo was appointed as a military architect and engineer to Cesare Borgia, son of Pope Alexander VI. Over the next few months, he created one of his most impressive surviving map of Imola. Leonardo paced the lengths of the streets, as recorded on an annotated sketch of each quarter of the town and given the irregularities in the rectilinear street plan testify to the accuracy of the map, which may still be used to find one’s way around Imola today.

https://www.rct.uk/collection/search#/2/collection/912284/anbspmap-of-imola

Another wonderful piece worth noting is this room is The cardiovascular system and principal organs of a woman (c.1509-10); which you would also get the opportunity to see when you leave the exhibition as it is by the exit. It is an anatomical study of the principal organs and the arterial system of a female torso, pricked for transfer.  Leonardo’s only documented dissection was carried out in the winter of 1507-8 when he performed an autopsy on an old man whose death he had witnessed in a hospital in Florence. In this incredibly detailed piece of work, he combined his understanding of various organs into a single diagram of a woman rather than a man, with an astonishingly perfectly spherical uterus. 

The Red Room

This was my favourite room in the whole exhibition because there were many detailed anatomy works and also his “deluge” that was completed nearer the end of his life. I found it very hard to pick out my favourite drawing in this room because there was so many, but one of note is the fetus in the womb (c.1511). Colour is rare in his atomical drawings, but in his late studies, he started to use red chalk. It is believed that he may have dissected a pregnant woman at some point, but in this piece and looking at the notes, the placenta is drawn with multiple structures based on his understanding by an earlier dissection of a cow. Da Vinci never discovered that the human placenta is single and discoidal. The drawing is also a great example of his notes and infamous mirror writing.

https://www.rct.uk/collection/search#/1/collection/919102/recto-the-fetus-in-the-womb-verso-notes-on-reproduction-with-sketches-of-a-fetus

At the end of his life, he seems to have become obsessed with destruction. A deluge (c.1517-18) is a drawing of a dramatic flood and cataclysmic storm. There is just so much going on with the drawing, which I found to be a stark contrast to his other neat, refined, and, well thought through works. During this time, he also started writing long passages – torrents of thoughts with no punctuation describing with relish a huge storm overwhelming a landscape, and the futile struggles of man and animal against the forces of nature.

https://www.rct.uk/collection/search#/1/collection/912380/a-deluge

There seems to have been a deterioration in his mental health during his final years when he was living in France at the court of Francis I. It is also understood that his physical health also deteriorated greatly, one observer noted that Da Vinci was an old man had lost the use of his right arm, possibly from a stroke. I am a great admirer of Leonardo Da Vinci’s work and in my mind, he was immortalised as a genius who never aged. It is heartbreaking and bittersweet to understand that in his last years, he knew that he was dying, and yet, was still able to create these stunningly intricate and chaotic drawings.

It is an exhibition of a lifetime and I recommend it to anyone who has time to see it. For those who would not be able to, do not dismay – the collection is available online on the Royal Collection’s website. What is your favourite Leonardo Da Vinci’s piece? As always, I would love to hear from you, so please leave a comment below.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Frank Bowling

Frank Bowling

Hi everyone! How have you all been? It has been a while since I last wrote a post. Life has been a bit of a rollercoaster and I have turned 30th!! Making The Pineapple Chicken Blog officially two years old 🙂 It is pretty surprising actually and what a journey it has become. There are no plans to stop posting and hopefully I will share a little art and wellness for many years to come.

Since I have not posted in a while, I realised that I needed to get this post out as soon as possible because it is last chance to see the wonderful Frank Bowling exhibition at the Tate Britain which finishes next week on the 26th August. It is the first retrospective of his works spanning 60 years, he is a true master of colour and paint. For me, the art was unique and otherworldly. I came out of the exhibition feeling completely zen and at peace.

Should you visit, I would recommend ordering the audio guide for the exhibition as it provides a lot more flavour to the wonderful pieces of his work and includes jazz pieces which inspired Bowling’s art. The guide also includes Bowling himself with his smooth baritone voice.

Frank Bowling

Born in Guyana in 1934, he moved to London when he was 19 years old and studied at the Royal College of Art alongside David Hockney. He continues to fly between London and New York studios mastering his abstract and visionary use of paint. Using countless methods and processes, from staining to pouring and different materials and object, the exhibition provides a key insight into his creative world. Now 85 he still paints every day, experimenting with new materials and techniques. For anyone who knows where I can get my hands of some of his artwork or even prints, please do leave me a comment or email message, I would love to see his work in my home.

Exhibition

In my usual format, the below is a walkthrough of the exhibition rooms and highlights of my favourite key pieces to look out for. Bowling is also one of the best artists I have come across when it comes to naming their pieces of work. Unlike others who prefer “Untitled”, for Bowling, there is careful consideration of naming his pieces of work. They would only be named after they are completed and he returns to look at the pieces.

  • Room 1: Birthday (1962) – This was an extremely powerful piece, though not visually beautiful, it is unforgettable. This painting was part of an exercise when Bowling was at the Royal College of Art where the theme was of birthdays. This piece depicted the intense pain of a neighbour giving birth. Inspired by Francis Bacon and this is reflected by the strong gestural strokes.  Room 1 holds his early work which demonstrated his interest in social and political issues as well his own personal narrative.
  • Room 2: Mirror (1964-6) – The painting dominated by this spiral staircase gilded with gold connecting the studio at the Royal College of Art to the V&A museum in London. The painting also includes a self-portrait and a portrait of his wife (at the time) Paddy Kitchen. Room 2 held paintings that were created during 1964 & 7, which was a tumultuous time in his life and career. In 1966, Bowling moved to New York to establish himself and it is in this room, we see Bowling use of stencils in his work.
  • Room 3: Barticaborn 1 (1967) – This is the largest room in the exhibition and introduces map paintings. In New York, Bowling stopping painting the human figure that was seen in his earlier works. Fields of colour are overlaid with stencilled maps of the world and silkscreened images, it is in this room, we start seeing different techniques of processing paint, from painting to staining. This focus marks Bowling’s rejection of the western-centric cartography of many world maps.
  • Room 4: Tony’s Anvil (1975) – Around 1973, Bowling stared pouring paint on a titled canvas to produce contrasting layers and colours from a height of two meters. The spilling paint created an energetic and innovative painting style, it is the first time we see bright and bold contrasting colours. #
  • Room 5: Vitacress (1981) – This is my favourite room in the whole of the exhibition. By the end of the 1970s, Bowling has mastered his techniques of painting that he had been working on over the past decade. He had a deep understanding of the dynamics of the flow of paint and the drama of colour combination. He created Cosmic Space through the use of ammonia and pearlescence, and applied splotches of paint by hand, producing marbling effects. These are pure masterpieces of paint and personally, I thought made the whole exhibition worthwhile visiting!
  • Room 6: Spreadout Ron Kitaj (1984-6) – In the 1980s, Bowling started to experiment with texture in his paintings. This involved glueing various objects, including plastic toys, onto a canvas. He also made use of acrylic gel to extend the volume of paint, texture and transparency in his painting. There was a greater range of colours (often spanning the rainbow) and layering.
  • Room 7: Great Thames II (1989) – This room brings together four pieces that were created in 1989 of abstract expressionism to capture Bowling’s interpretation of the  English landscape.
  • Room 8: From V2-RS1 (2005) & Haze (2005) –  In the 1990s, Bowling continued to create with acrylic paint and gel and similar to Room 6, experimented further with materials and glueing of materials. It is also the first time we see smaller-scale paintings, one of which, is so simple, yet distinctive. This is the first time we also see a very subtle colour palette; making these also one of my favourite pieces.
  • Room 9: Aston’splunge (2011) – Capturing all his skills in one piece, Bowling has combined pouring, spilling, throwing, brushing and dripping paint premixed with gel, water and pearlescence. It is just an explosion of colour. This piece refers to the middle name of his assistance and longtime friend Spencer A. Richards. The final room of the exhibition showcases recent art pieces over the past decade and at 85, Bowling continues to create in his studio and experiment with techniques adopted over many decades, combining them into an infinite number of variations.

Bowling’s technical mastery, acquired through decades of experimentation, gives way to a remarkable confidence to improvise. He continues to establish, and systematically break, an ever-changing set of self-imposed rules. – Tate

Master of painting and colour, the retrospective of Frank Bowling’s six decades of masterpieces is a trip worth making to Tate Britain. This blog rates the exhibition 5 out of 5 pineapples, so hurry as it is the last chance to see it as it closes next week!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Olafur Eliasson – In Real Life

If you live in London you would not have been able to miss all the adverts that have popped up in train stations, on the tube and buses for Olafur Eliasson In Real Life at Tate Modern showing until 5 January 2020.

The Exhibition

The exhibition brings together 40 works of art made between 1990 and today. The greatest thing about his art is how immersive the installations are. He has also created sculptures, photography and paintings, but I personally think his greatest works was when he used science/geometry to create them. Similar to Phyllida Barlow his works rely on the individual’s experience and that fundamentally is required to add meanings to his pieces, it is encouraged that you use your senses! There was no fixed route through the exhibition (adding to the chaos) but there is a “suggested route” that in the exhibit guide.

A big tip from me is that you should wait (if you can) until after the Summer Holidays as I tried to visit as schoolchildren were just breaking up…I greatly regretted this decision as the exhibition was swarming with children. I don’t have an issue with children but when mixed with interactive art it was absolute mayhem.

There are a lot of pieces dotted around the Tate Modern itself, don’t miss out on Waterfall 2019 that is placed outside the Blavatnik Building entrance.  One of my favourites was the Stardust Particle 2014 which you will notice just outside the entrance of the exhibition. Due to the popularity of the exhibit, I would recommend visitors with the flexibility to either go very early in the morning or later in the evening. For those that do it for the “gram”; this is one of the most instagrammable exhibitions I have been to this year!

Best Immersive Experiences

  • Din blinde passager (Your blind passenger) 2010 – this is the largest immersive experience in the exhibition. It is essentially a 39m long corridor filled with fog. For those who may be claustrophobic may not enjoy this as you will only be able to see 1.5m, if not less, ahead of you. The exhibit is made from water-soluble fog containing non-toxic polyols and makes it smell like banana?! but should be noted that the air feels heavy. Whilst you walk along the corridor the ceiling lights change colour, changing from orange to pink to blue; very surreal. It was a very odd experience but I enjoyed it so much I did it twice.
  • Big Bang Fountain 2014 – unfortunately, I was unable to take a photo of this exhibit because of the flashing lights. For those that are afraid of the dark, this one is not for you and word of warning – it is hard to find the exit! This a particularly popular exhibit and there was a very long queue to enter this small room, but I do not think it should be missed!
  • Your spiral view 2002 – This is a tunnel of mirrors, but was one of my favourite pieces because of the different reflections on various shards of the mirrors as you walk through. It was a little disorientating at first because I couldn’t work out how everything was reflected. Though a beautiful piece of work and reminded me of one of my favourite artist’s Lee Bul.

Other notable pieces

My other favourite pieces of Olafur Eliasson were how he was able to manipulate light.

  • Beauty 1993 – I nearly missed this room as you have to turn right as you enter the corridor from the room where there is the Moss Wall 1994, however, definitely go back. Admittedly, it is a mist with a projected light onto it but it is completely mesmerising and beautiful.
  • Eine Beschreibung einer Reflexion (A description of a reflection) 1995 – you will have plenty of time to enjoy this piece of art as you wait in line to see the Big Bang Fountain 2014 (see above). This one baffled me the most as I was unable to work out how a light that was beamed onto a piece of rock and projected onto a circular board creating wonderfully mystical shapes.

The exhibit reflected Eliasson’s art interests in nature, geometry and how as humans we perceive and interact with the world. It particular, it highlighted his view on climate change, as reflected in all the goodies in the shop and Little Sun in the exhibit. The exhibition really spoke to the environmentalist in me, his pieces of art were a great marriage of art, science and the environment. 5 out of 5 pineapples! 

Have you visited the exhibition or seen any of his pieces of art before? As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Natalia Goncharova

Natalia Goncharova

The first retrospective of the (take a deep breath) female Russian avant-garde artist, painter, costume designer, writer, illustrator, and set designer Natalia Goncharova is being held in the UK at the Tate Modern and will be available until the 8 September 2019.

When embarking on this art journey and blog around two years ago, I had no idea what my preference would be or what would interest me. It has been a journey of self-discovery and a lot of learning along the way. Though very early on, I knew that I would make the effort to celebrate and learn about the works of female artists. Living in London has meant that I have been able to enjoy the increase in exhibitions to celebrate the works of solo women artists, such as Lee Bul, Dorothea Tanning, Diane Arbus and Lee Krasner just to name a few and may it long continue! For those interested in female artists, I recommend following @thegreatwomenartists on Instagram, where Katy Hessel does an amazing job of introducing up and coming women artists as well as historical figures.

Natalia Goncharova

Born in 1881, Natalia Goncharova grew up in the Tula province, some 200 miles away from Moscow. She was born to a family of “impoverished aristocrats” who made their fortune through textiles, and as a result, this meant that she was familiar with all the stages of textile production, in addition to, nature and farming life. This influenced a lot of her later work through the design of costumes and fashion, as well as her paintings of traditional Russian dress and life.

In Imperial Russia, life and society were dictated by rigid class structures, though Goncharova did not fit into these accepted categories. She was a founding member of both the Jack of Diamonds (1909–1911), Moscow’s first radical independent exhibiting group, the more radical Donkey’s Tail (1912–1913), and with Larionov (her life-long partner) invented Rayonism (1912–1914), see more on this below. She was also a member of the German-based art movement known as Der Blaue Reiter.

Her work greatly influenced the avant-garde in Russia and she was not afraid of being controversial. In 1910, her first solo exhibition was denounced by the press as “disgusting depravation.” Russia, clearly, was not ready for her. At her exhibition, where she displayed the first time her depiction of female nudes ultimately led to the confiscation of her two female nudes and her ‘God(dess) of Fertility painting by the police. This led to her being on trial for violating a law relating to the public display of ‘corrupting’ images but was acquitted. These are currently displayed at the Tate Exhibition.

Goncharova’s experimentation with self-fashioning succeeded in provoking a reaction and brought her considerable attention. Her first retrospective exhibition in 1913 confirmed her as one of the most successful and radical artists, where over 12,000 people visited the exhibition. She was a force to be reckoned with and broke down the barriers of what society deemed what a woman should and should not do. 

“As an aristocrat’s daughter, a radical artist and a woman she always stood apart” – Tate Modern Exhibition Guide

Key Pieces

The exhibition is displayed roughly in chronological order and the key influences on her art during that time. Below are a few key pieces in each room to illustrate how she is a pioneer of “everythingism”.

  • Countryside: Peasant Woman from Tula Province (1910) is a beautiful example of Goncharova’s eye for detail and realism, in particular, textiles which continued to be explored and developed throughout her life. The bold lines contrast with the intricate pattern on the traditional costume making it a very striking portrait.
  • Moscow: Peasants Picking Apples (1911) marks a change in Goncharova’s painting style. Influenced by European painting, realism made way for old colours and minimal and flattened surfaces. On the opposite wall, there is Queen Isabeau (1909) by Picasso, the similarity is clear. I am not actually a fan of this painting as it looks like something that would be included in a children’s book but recognise it is a key piece in her repertoire and emphasises her ability to adopt many different styles.
  • 1913 Exhibition: Gardening (1908) is one of my favourite pieces, where the limited palette reminds me of the French Impressionist style. Goncharova expresses a particular interest in work completed by women, such as them washing linen or harvesting, have a look-out for others in this room.
  • Fashion: From the accounts of people who met Goncharova testify to her unique approach to self-presentation, including painting her face and wearing extravagant outfits. Fashion designer Nadezhda Lamanova commissioned Goncharova to create works for her fashion house, where she chose to use a striking colour palette in Design with birds and flowers. Study for textile design (1925–8)
  • War: In 1914, Goncharova and Larionov arrived in Paris, however, by August it was the outbreak of the First World War. In this room, it displays her series of Mystical Images of War. This was the first time she used lithography to produce these hauntingly beautiful black and white prints. The White Eagle, Maiden on the Beast and Angels and Aeroplanes are just a few of my favourites
  • Art and Religion: central to the development of Russian art is devotional religious paintings, however, this was an exclusively male practice. Goncharova entered a challenging territory when she applied her own approach using simplified forms. Many at the time thought it was inappropriate and yet were acknowledged at the time to being some of her strongest works. My favourite was Christ the Saviour (1910-11)
  •  Modernism: this is the room that introduces the new movement that she created with Larinov Rayonism, look out for the colourful and electric painting Dynamo Machine (1913)
  • Paris: In 1919, Goncharova moved to a flat in Paris where she would remain for the rest of her life. Having a studio enabled her to return to large scale works, including the beautiful Spanish Woman with a Fan (1925-9) and Spring (1927-8) which is stretched over a frame creating a free-standing screen.
  • Theatre: the final room brings together Goncharova’s sketches, costumes and set designs from several ballet productions. The costumes in this room are splendid and not to be missed, my favourite being The Firebird which is one of the most enduring productions in the Ballet Russes repertoire.

Rayonism

Rayonism, or rayism, was based on the effect of light on landscape or cityscapes. Goncharova and Larionov developed a new modern style to express energy and movement. It is a subset of Russian Futurism and the movement was inspired by scientific understanding of the material world through x-rays and radioactivity, as well as, the fourth dimension.

Extraordinary Pioneer of Everythingism

The exhibition celebrated an extraordinary woman who defied conventions and had her own voice during a time when many others wanted to silence her. Highly recommended, 3.5 out of 5 pineapples. As always, I would love to hear what you think so please do leave a comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

Travel: Da Nang, Vietnam (Part 2)

Following on from my blog post last Thursday, this is the next instalment to my trip to Vietnam. It should be noted that travelling at the end of June to Vietnam means that you have to battle with intense heat and humidity; the second day of the tour we were in 40 Celcius Degree heat! I recommend sunscreen, a hat and a lot of water…or just don’t visit in summer; According to the locals, the best weather is in October/November.

Cham Museum

I actually visited the Cham Museum on Day 1 of the tour as it is located in Hải Châu District, Đà Nẵng, central Vietnam, near the Han River. This building was first built under French Rule in 1919, since then it has been expanded and now holds the world’s largest collection of Cham Sculpture. Champa was an Indian civilisation between the period 500 to 1000 AD that built and flourished in Central and South Vietnam. I was unaware that Vietnam had such a rich history, and there are many archaeological sites throughout this region. Their legacy remains through brick temples and intricate sculptures carved from sandstone, mainly of the god Shiva and Asian animals. The museum is worth visiting for those who are interested in the history of the Champa people and worth going to add further colour when visiting sites such as Mỹ Sơn (see below). Though note to all visitors, there is no air conditioning in the building so I would advise bringing a fan in the summer months to cool yourself.

Mỹ Sơn

Mỹ Sơn is located near the village of Duy Phú, in the administrative district of Duy Xuyên in Quảng Nam Province in Central Vietnam, 69 km southwest of Da Nang. It is a cluster of Hindu Temples in Vietnam and was considered the most sacred in the Champa culture. Located in the mountains and surrounded by lush forest, it is one of the most picturesque places I have visited. I recommend starting your visit here early in the morning before larger tour groups start their tours.

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The first excavations were conducted by Henri Parmentier and Charles Carpeaux (1903-04) and each cluster of buildings were artistically labelled Cluster A, B and so on. Evidence suggests that the first buildings were constructed between the 4th and 5th Century, however, currently, the oldest that remains is from the 7th Century, with the newest built in the 13th Century. Unfortunately, a lot of the buildings have been lost during the American War from bombing. Whilst you are there look out for the discarded bombshells and craters on the site.

Despite the destruction, temples, meditation rooms and even the library remain intact for visitors to observe and admire. It is a wonderful place to visit and I recommend it to be on anyone’s Vietnam itinerary.

Hội An

This beautifully preserved Southeast Asian trading port dating from the 15th to 19th Century and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1999. The streets are lined trees and hanging from them a kaleidoscope of lanterns. We visited during the day before the hustle and bustle of the night time markets. The main street was quiet and peaceful. In the heat of the afternoon sun, the residents sheltered in the shade playing card games and ignored us as we walked past. This allowed us time to admire the colourful historical buildings undisturbed.

The town reflects a fusion of indigenous and foreign cultures (principally Chinese and Japanese with later European influences). The Chinese influences were clear as a lot of the streets within the town reminded me of Chinese period dramas which I use to watch with my grandmother, the heavy wooden doors and intricately tiled roofs. One stop on the tour was the Old House of Tan Ky and this brought back memories of my grandmother sister’s home in China in the 90s before the growth of China reached the town. It was surprisingly nostalgic even though I was in Vietnam. The family still resides in the building and is an example of 18th merchant’s home.  Note the beautifully carved chairs as you walk into the building.

A great example of Japanese influences in Hoi An is the infamous Japanese Covered Bridge dating also back to the 18th Century. The bridge features two monkey sculptures at the entrance of the bridge, and as you cross, the other end stands two dog sculptures representing the start and beginning of when the bridge was completed. There is a Taoist temple in the middle the bridge and as you walk on the left, note the markings of the heights of the floods over the decades.

Hội An is ultimately designed for tourists, with many restaurants and shops, I would recommend shopping at the Central market but note you will have to bargain. Rule of thumb is you should deduct two-thirds of the asking price. Though note that you are supporting the local economy and people, don’t be like my mother where she was arguing £2 with the shopkeeper and making him very upset and told us to go away (I went back with the negotiated price + the disputed £2)… Located with the Central market are food stalls and juice stands. On the outer edges, towards the river, there are a lot of fresh fruit stalls and you can see the locals buying their food shopping, on the sides, there are souvenir stalls and baskets.

Whilst we were there, our tour guide was kind enough to ask his wife to wait in line for what he says is the best Banh Mi in Vietnam – Bánh Mì Phượng. I later found out is the one that Anthony Bourdain tried. Honestly, it is AMAZING (we ate it so quickly I didn’t get a chance to take a photo of it). It is not very large, so don’t do what I did and shared it with my sister – it is worth having one for yourself!

I wished that I was able to stay later to experience the night markets even though it has been noted it is a bit of a tourist trap. Hội An is beautiful and worth any diversion for a visit.

That is what I wanted to share with you on my trip to Vietnam, I hope you enjoyed the blog post. Have you been to Vietnam, if I go back what would you recommend? As always, I look forward to your comments!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

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