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: 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: 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

 

Art: Food – Bigger than the Plate

The latest immersive and interactive exhibition at V&A museum explores our current and future relationship with food, available until 20th October 2019, it brings together different innovators, communities and organisations to consider what collective choices will lead a more sustainable and delicious food future.

It is a topic that is close to my heart, food sustainability is a key concern of our times and rightly so. One has to consider how we will feed the world in the future where population growth is expected to reach close to 10 billion people by 2050  and without damaging our world even further. The V&A tastefully explores this question and gives us hope that there are people out there doing their best to change the world.

Key Highlights

The exhibition is split into 5 key components, starting with composting and navigated all the way to eating; representing the natural food cycle. I have highlighted my favourite pieces and new ideas from the exhibition below.

Composting

Compost is the organic matter that has been decomposed in a process called composting. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products and produces a soil conditioner (the compost).

The exhibition starts off with the consideration that if you are a consumer, you are also a producer. If you eat, you produce waste – not just the fundamental human poop but also the by-products that come with food production.  It is a lot of waste and our usual reaction is just to get rid off it, it is “undesirable” and ends up in landfill or our oceans. It breaks the cycle of nutrients. This is exactly why we need to familiarise ourselves with the natural cycle of reproduction, growth and decay which returns organic waste to the soil to provide nutrients for future growth. Luckily there are a lot of smart people who have started to think outside the box!

  • Loowatt (2019) – Closes the loop on human waste, they have developed a waterless flush toilet and manages the collection, transfer and treatment of faecal sludge. Waste is converted to energy and fertiliser. An innovative and sustainable way to manage human waste across the globe.
  • Urban Mushroom (2019) – Oyster mushrooms growing on a bed of used coffee beans from the visitors of the V&A museum. This was an extraordinary way to recycle used coffee grounds which normally just end up in the landfill. Is this the future of farming in our cities?

Farming

Farming is the fundamental way to grow our food, however, there is a disconnect between us and how food ends up on the table. With the rise of human convenience, everything is packaged and beautifully displayed in our supermarkets; often from far-flung and exotic places. Recently I bought green grapes that came all the way from Brazil, and I had to stop and think – wait .. is this right? Should I not just eat produce that is in season? By being removed from the process and the slick machine of globalisation has meant that produce is available all year round – do we stop and think – how was this grown? where did it come from?

IMG_20190526_103343-01.jpeg

Key highlights for this section of the exhibition is the beautiful wall art by Fallen Fruit, which was inspired by depictions of fruit from the V&A collection.

Having lived in Hong Kong for two years, I was surprised and humbled to see that there is a small food revolution occurring and is being displayed back in London, my home town. HK Farm is a collective of artists, designers and farmers who grow food locally on rooftops and questions the values of the contemporary city in the process. Being able to grow and produce food right in the heart of one of the world’s greatest concrete jungle was refreshing to see.

I would also recommend everyone to take time to sit down and watch a video montage on European food production Our Daily Bread by Geyrhalter and Widerhofer (2005). It is not an easy watch, but necessary.

Trading

https://images.app.goo.gl/wNHqsRJyBQEKYaUX9

How do we get our food? How is it transferred to us? How many hands does it need to pass before we get to consume it? This section of the exhibition explores the globalisation machine and how it is easy to hide the environmental and social costs of food production.

  • Ester Hernandez: Sun Mad (2008) – This iconic poster (above) is by the Chicana (American – Mexican) artist Ester Hernandez, it was created to draw public attention on the human cost of the grape harvest, including the harmful effects of pesticides on pickers. In 2008 as displayed above, it was updated to include an “ICE” bracelet to signify the fate of many immigrants farmworkers working in the US.
  • Johanna Seelemann: Banana Story (2018) – This was another enlightening video on the world’s most popular fruit. It challenges the simplistic narrative of the “Made in” label. The video is a story of one banana who travels 8800km, crossing multiple national borders and 33 hands before landing on the shelves of a consumer.

Cooking

Evolution of cooking by Ferran Adrià was explored in this part of the exhibition, the head chef of El Bulli from 1987 until 2011, changed the way restaurants cook and serve food around the globe. His cooking extends beyond cooking and explores the deep history, in what he considers the fundamental part of human evolution. The drawings reflect his understanding and analysis of the development of cooking in human history.

Eating

IMG_20190526_111132-01.jpeg

Eating – my favourite part of the cycle and comes to the end of the exhibition. The most memorable display is “Self Made” by Christina Agapakis & Sissel Tolaas (2013)  and it is definitely not for the squeamish! Some of our tastiest food is made with the help of microbes. Cultured from some famous individuals such as Heston Blumenthal’s, their bacteria was used to produce cheese forming a “microbial portrait”. The project was to challenge our perceived notion of bacteria and develop understandings of the microbiome and its role in how our bodies function. Grim, but a must see.

A wonderful display and truly enlightening experience. I did come away feeling that I should reconsider becoming a full vegetarian though! As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the exhibition and your thoughts of food in general.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

Art: Sorolla – The Master of Light

No painter before or since has painted Mediterranean sunlight like Joaquín Sorolla

In 1908, Sorolla was considered as one of the greatest living artists and his works has finally returned back to London a century after his exhibition at the Grafton Galleries in Mayfair. The National Gallery has curated 58 spectacular pieces of work, many of which are from private collections, spanning his whole career. It is a rare opportunity to see them all together in the beautiful Sainsbury Wing and I cannot recommend the exhibition enough!

Sorolla, The Master of Light

Sorolla was born in Valencia and his talent and determination to be an artist developed through his work retouching plates for a photographer. His talent led him to be admitted to the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia at aged 15. His further studies in master painting led him to Rome and Paris. Very early on, Sorolla’s strategy was to send large scale paintings on dark and troubling social themes to major exhibitions in Spain and abroad, where he sought and gained recognition. No subject seemed to restrict Sorolla’s paintings, he also painted his family, portraiture and landscapes, my favourite which are explored further below. 

Sorolla painted a variant of impressionism, which can be considered the first distinctly modern movement in painting. Developed in Paris in the 1860s, it spread throughout Europe. The style focuses on colour and light, which Sorolla was particularly infamous for. In 1906, Sorolla exhibited for the first time at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris, one of the main impressionist galleries. The Master of Light, interestingly, did not capture the British audience at that time but his works were particularly revered in the US. In 1908, Sorolla met philanthropist and collector Archer Milton Huntington, who made him a member of The Hispanic Society of America in New York City. This led to one of his largest commissioned works, which took 7 years to complete the 14 paintings known as Vision of Spain which adorn the walls of the gallery of the Hispanic Society.

Sorolla suffered from a stroke in 1920 which meant that he was no longer able to paint and died three years later at home with his family by his side. Unfortunately, after his death, his work went out of fashion and Impressionism was replaced by personal expression and avant-garde movements such as Dada, Surrealism and Expressionism. It is only in recent years where there have been a series of exhibitions in Spain, Germany, France and the US has reignited his popularity.

Social Painting

Since 1884, Sorolla had set his sights on the coveted first-class medals in Madrid’s Expoicion Nacional de Bellas Artes that was held to stimulate national artistic production and it was an opportunity for Spanish young artists to be recognised. During this tumultuous time, there was a shift in paintings of classical subjects to the dramatic changes that Spain was undergoing. Sorolla’s most famous social paintings include Another Marguerite! (1892) and Sad Inheritance (1899). My favourite paintings were And They Still Say Fish is Expensive! (1894) and Sewing the Sail (1896). Though contrasting in mood, the thoughtful depiction of emotions and light is truly captivating; the size of the paintings and the use of colour and light can only be appreciated in person.

https://images.app.goo.gl/E1ksGw2An3iPPZXq9

https://images.app.goo.gl/xpB5DtwN3X6k1C2B7

Family

Evident through his paintings, Sorolla loved his family and the portraits of his children and his wife are some of his greatest works. Though the female model was not identified in Female Nude (1902) it has been suspected that it was wife, Clotilde. Inspired by Sorolla’s visit to London and seeing The Rokeby Venus displayed in the National Gallery, he captures the beauty of the female form and the luscious silk and lace fabric on which she laid. Other notable paintings include My Children (1904)Mother (1895-1900)Clotilde in a Black Dress (1906)Maria Painting at El Pardo (1907); and Joaquin Sorolla Garcia (1917)

https://images.app.goo.gl/cpyEZVoebmWmWSPm8

Beach & Landscapes

Sorolla grew up by the sea and after 1900 he created a large body of work outside capturing the pleasures of families and intimate scenes of the beach. These paintings brightened the exhibition as if capturing a sliver of the sun in each and was a breath of fresh air (it was also a stark contrast to the terrible summer we are having in London). Notable pieces included Young Fisherman, Valencia (1904); Running along the Beach, Valencia (1908)The Smugglers (1919) but my favourite was After the Bath, the Pink Robe (1916)

https://images.app.goo.gl/iAy31k5hbXGYZBfq6

Dynamic, vibrant and vivid; Sorolla was a true Master of Light. Obviously, this exhibition is awarded 5 out of 5 pineapples. I would love to hear your opinion of his work and whether any of you have seen any of it before? What are your favourite pieces? Have a sun-filled Sunday!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S. For those are interested in learning more, the curator wrote a wonderful article here

Art: Phyllida Barlow

Phyllida Barlow

Phyllida Barlow’s cul-de-sac showcases an entirely new body of work at the Royal Academy of Arts located in the contemporary art galleries, The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries, which will be open until 23 June 2019.

The British Sculptor is famous for her use of inexpensive everyday materials to create precarious structures filling spaces which they are held. In the form of a “cul-de-sac”, with only one way in and out, there are no barriers for visitors to explore the artwork. The guide that accompanies the exhibition explains that there are usually three protagonists when it comes to her artwork.

The first protagonist

The first protagonist the artwork itself, her use of materials such as plywood, plaster and polystyrene, in addition to the transparency in how her artwork is created. This is part of her wonder as she breaks the conventions of traditional sculpture. Barlow takes inspiration from her surroundings; particularly domestic and street worlds. The untidiness of urban leaving, repairs of buildings and infrastructure repairs holds a fascination for Barlow and is often expressed in her work.

Using such inexpensive materials enables Barlow, unlike bronze, stone or steel; to retain the freedom to make changes to her artwork as it develops, or even change/redo previous works; conveying a sense of transience and impermanence. The unrefined quality of her work, combined with the appearance that it will topple over any minute reflects the chaos and messiness of urban life.

Her work may not be considered beautiful but it certainly emits great energy; when looking at the art close up, the creative process is clear. A visitor should also consider whether you have space to run should the artwork decides to shift from its position of zen!

The second protagonist

The second protagonist is the exhibition space which Barlow considers to be of equal footing with her artwork. The relationship between the two is crucial and the placement of the installations are carefully considered. This is demonstrated wonderfully in this exhibition where her voluminous work fills the whole gallery space. When one looks up, it is difficult to separate her towering structures with the ornate gallery’s curved ceiling. They are as if one.

The third protagonist

The third protagonist is us – the visitors to the gallery. How the individual pieces are placed and how one might circumnavigate around them (such as there is only one way in and out); to explore and wander around spaces is of critical importance in Barlow’s work. The encounter and the residual memory that the visitor is left with has long preoccupied her. This is particularly explored when she represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2017. She considers how the public reacts and interacts with inanimate sculptural installations (normally one would just stand and stare). This is carefully considered in this exhibition and as a visitor took the opportunity to weave in and out of the artwork and get up close without being reprimanded. Being able to explore is freedom.

Arte Povera

When searching to understand Barlow’s influence of her work, or what art movement she is part of, it is clear that she remains undefined and does not follow convention. Her work shows influences from Arte Povera, Pop Art and New British Sculpture amongst others. Arte Povera means “poor art” where poor refers to the use of inexpensive materials compared to traditional ones such as bronze or carved marble in sculpture. Using such dispensible materials was to challenge the values of the commercialised contemporary gallery system. The term was coined by Italian art critic Germano Celant in 1967 to describe a group of young and anti-elitist artists. It is considered as one of the most significant and influential avant-garde movement to emerge in Europe in the 1960s. The movement was in contrast to the sensibility of American Minimalism by using performance, and unconventional approaches to sculpture, such as installation. There was no manifesto drawn up for the Arte Povera, as a key factor of the movement was the rejection of rules and pre-existing structures.

The movement was at its height from 1967 to 1972, but its influence on later art has been enduring. In Japan, the Mono-ha group looked into the essence of materials and stepped away from technological modernism. In the US, the terms anti-form and post-minimalism was used to describe work that also rejected the sensibility of Minimalism.

Barlow’s influence

Barlow had an important influence on younger generations of artists through her teaching a the Slade School for Fine Art where she later became a Professor of Fine Art. Her infamous students include Turner Prize-winning and nominated artists Rachel Whiteread and Angela de la Cruz. She became a Royal Academician in 2011 and continues to live and work in London.

What a phenomenal and accomplished female artist, I would recommend this exhibition for anyone interested in contemporary art or one who is curious to try a different art experience. 4 out of 5 pineapples.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S For another splendid review of another exhibition of her work please see this article here.