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.

 

Art: The Renaissance Nude

Happy Bank Holiday everyone! Did you all have a wonderful weekend so far?  I have switched up my usual long read on the weekend to cover the exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts (“RA”) – The Renaissance Nude which is due to finish on 2 June 2019. I want to ensure that for any of my readers who may be interested can still have time to do so after reading my review 🙂 Without further ado, let’s get straight to it!

Exhibition

Located on the top floor in The Jillian and Arthur M. Sackler Wing of Galleries of the Royal Academy of Arts, the exhibition explores the development of nudity in 15th and 16th-century art. It was a pivotal time for nude in Western art because of the renewed interest in the human body, both from a scientific and artistic perspective. In particular, nudity was transforming Christian Art, where the stories of the Bible from Adam and Eve to crucifixion were retold with exquisite works.  

For a Y generation like myself, nudity in art is not something that I have considered given its proliferation in contemporary art and just everyday life of having access to the internet. Scantily clad influencers and models in magazines do not even get a raised eyebrow in our modern age. Having said that, my workplace still feels that we need to be protected from such images. The firewall has blocked my blog because it contains “Adult Material” but it really is no surprise given it is an art and happiness blog after all! Yet this warning message clearly summarises the controversies of nudity, though it has become more widely accepted, there is a very fine line between acceptable, erotic or profane. I believe that the general consensus is the more covered up it is, the better!

Adult Material
The RA has intimately navigated nudity through the ages by displaying a wide range of mediums, from painting and prints to sculptures. Nudity is not discriminatory, from the beautiful to the shockingly horrible or cringe-worthy, “varied” summarises this exhibition. I found the flow of the exhibition difficult to follow but I would recommend the accompanying audio guide. It is worth the additional cost as it brings key paintings of the exhibition to life. Some of the excerpts were narrated by Stephen Fry, who was a pleasure to listen to as he elaborated the tales/history behind a piece. I recognise that this exhibition may upset some people’s sensibilities and nudity is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is well executed and thought out, as a result, I give it 3.5 out of 5 pineapples! 

Key Highlights

The Good: Titian, Venus Rising from the Sea (‘Venus Anadyomene’) (c. 1520)

One of the most beautiful pieces of artwork in the exhibition is Titian’s Venus. A private moment when she is born from the sea. It is a serene and quiet painting capturing a “candid” moment, wringing water from her hair. A small scallop shell to the left is the only tribute to the more famous Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. It is an exemplary example of the beautiful Renaissance woman form.

Titian, Venus Rising from the Sea (‘Venus Anadyomene’) (c. 1520)

The Bad: Dieric Bouts, The Way to Paradise, The Fall of the Damned, 1468 – 1469

It goes without saying that Renaissance art transformed religious art during the 15th to 16th-century. From the depiction of Adam & Eve, Heaven & Hell through to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, nudity was used as a method to persuade devotion. Bouts’ panels made up a triptych devoted to the Last Judgement. The Way to Paradise, the individuals are beautifully and discretely covered up in white cloth. On the other hand, The Fall of the Damned, individuals are seen tumbling and tortured whilst entirely naked. The shame for the naked body, according to the curators, can be traced to the Fall of Man, when God forbade Adam & Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The Fall of the Damned will convince anyone not to be bad.

The Ugly: Hans Baldung Grien, Aristotle and Phyllis, 1513

This woodcut created by Hans Baldung Grien is shocking and cringe-worthy. It is not something I would have expected from this period of history as it is easy to remember the beauty of the Renaissance period and associate it with all things ethereal and graceful. Yet it is easy to forget that all humans have an ugly side. The tale of this painting is about the great teacher Aristotle warning his student, Alexander the Great, to stop having intimate affairs with his wife, Phyllis, but instead to concentrate on his studies. Understandably Phyllis was upset when her own husband shunned her sexual advances. To make a point and exact revenge, Phyllis seduces the old philosopher and humiliates him by riding him like a horse while Alexander hid and watched. Weird – is all I can say.

https://images.app.goo.gl/7ncLixFbHFGmgJUm7
Hans Baldung Grien, Aristotle and Phyllis, 1513

Other must-see pieces

  • Leonardo da Vinci, The Anatomy of the Shoulder and Neck (recto), 1510-11. No Renaissance exhibition can exclude the master of Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci. This understated piece of art is as if ripped from his personal notepad, but it showcases his amazing eye for detail and his extraordinary mirrored handwriting. Displayed in the middle of the exhibition, it is easy to walk past, but this double-sided drawing is worth spending a few minutes to admire.
  • Pisanello, Luxuria, 1426. This small and understated pen and brown ink painting is of a reclining female. She is sensual and powerful with self-confidence. It is in contrast to the usual demure female form in Renaissance Art. What a wonderful piece.

I would love to hear what you think of the pieces I have reviewed here, do you have a favourite? Have you been to the exhibition, I would love to hear what you thought about it as well!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Oceania

Hi Everyone,

I hope you all had a great weekend. I finally have visited an exhibition in London, I believe it has been several months since I visited a museum – so glad that I am back on it 🙂 Going to museums and galleries is my favourite activity, I find it therapeutic yet stimulating. This is one of my key recovery tasks. My boyfriend has always encouraged me to do what I love and always challenges whether I have thought about “life management” properly; do read his blog more on this concept.

People have often called me a sponge (or a nerd) because I just love soaking up new facts and learning about things. It often doesn’t matter on the subject matter either. I have started to recognise that this is one my core passions/values and will be a key focus in 2019.  I will touch upon this in a future post as I have been doing a lot to try and understand my “why“.

Image result for map of oceania

http://www.freeworldmaps.net/oceania/

Oceania

I asked some of my followers on Instagram which exhibition I should visit next for the blog and Oceania proved to be a favourite. Unfortunately, the 10 December (today) is the last day at the Royal Academy of Arts. However, I thought I would share with you some photos that I took from the exhibition and what I saw you are able to enjoy it through my eyes. The exhibition trailer is also awesome so do check it out because it showcases a few key pieces.

It was a truly amazing exhibition because I realised that I had no previous knowledge of Oceania history, culture, and art. I would give it 4.5/5 pineapples. It was a great introduction to the variety of rich and diverse cultures in that region. The exhibition has now encouraged me to read more on this part of the world. If anyone can recommend a good book, I would be grateful as my 1-minute search didn’t really come up with much.  I bought the Oceania book from the RA as it seems to be a good starting point. For those who also want to have a look, RA is currently having a sale on the book and the paperback version is only £13. [Not an ad – just really loved the exhibition]. I am also considering whether I should do a course on Anthropology because of it! What do you think?

The Economist’s 1843 magazine also wrote an in-depth review of the exhibition with greater detail on the artists and history, which is a great short read.

Hope you enjoy the photos! Did any of you manage to check it out?

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken

An apology and revival!

To my dearest readers,

I cannot believe that it has been so long since my last post. I wish I could give an awesome excuse as to why I stopped writing – like trying to save the world and didn’t have enough time to go on the internet. However, as some of my followers on Instagram knows, this is an absolute lie.

Unfortunately, life happened and, very much so, a lack of self-discipline. One of my best friends moved away from London (due to the draconian immigration laws in the UK) so I spent most of it trying to share time with her (this is not an excuse btw). She was also my inspiration for my blog and re-introduced me to the world of art and culture through the Art Pass.

I had forgotten how much I loved all this stuff and how much London has to offer. The blog was to get me off my butt and do something different. Whilst my best friend is wandering the beautiful streets of Paris, I have been inspired to post on my blog again because I really love sharing my experiences with you all. If you can share a bit of love and beauty in this world – that can’t possibly be a bad thing.

Therefore, I would like to say SORRY to all my readers. I don’t think I should make any more promises, as I feel I will be lining myself for failure. Maybe we should all try and bet how long I can keep this up for! Do leave a comment below, I would love to see the range of guesses 🙂

Though I have not been blogging, it does not mean that I have not been keeping busy! Below is a quick round-up of all the exhibitions I have been to in 2018 and that is currently still open. Take a deep breath – this is going to be a whistle-stop tour!

  • Royal Academy of Arts (RA)
    • Charles I: King and Collector, available up to 15 April SO HURRY!!!!. 4/5 Pineapples. It is the first time since the 17th century that all these pieces have been reunited. It provided an extensive look into how art was shaped during the time of Charles I, and it is always great when there is a bloody history as part of the story.
  • Southbank Centre, Hayward Gallery
    • Andreas Gursky, available up to 22 April 2018 (SO HURRY). 4.5/5 Pineapples. Again, being a budding photographer, I always get excited about photography exhibitions. Gursky is famous for selling one of the most expensive photos in history. If you google it, it does not look like much … but the size of his works and the detail – truly phenomenal. It is also located in the spacious Southbank Centre, which is always worth visiting for its Brutalist architecture. This was one of my favourite exhibitions this year.
  • Natural History Museum (NHM)
    • Venom: Killer and cure, available up to 13 May 2018. 3.5/5 Pineapples. This was an interesting exhibition and the first time I have seen that there is a live animal on display. There are some really awesome animals in the collection and I always learn loads 🙂
    • Wildlife Photography of the Year, available up to 28 May 2018. 4.5/5 Pineapples. I love this exhibition and I go every year so this might be a biased review but this year there is a great portfolio of photos.
  • Barbican Centre 
    • Another kind of life:  Photography on the Margins, available up to 27 May. 5/5 Pineapples. This was one of the most humbling experiences. I went very early in the morning and it was so quiet and I think it resulted in a very different experience. The exhibition was just truly beautiful and curated very well. There are a variety of photographers on display, I probably should write a separate post on this for those who are interested. but ultimately, it was really worthwhile – a true eye-opener. This was also one of my favourite exhibitions this year.

You have done it, you have reached the end! Now you can breathe out 🙂

As you can see, it has been a busy first quarter of 2018 and I really looking forward to sharing it with you all. Next stop will be Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy at Tate Modern.

Until then, with Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Jasper Johns

Hi Everyone!

I had recently visited the latest Royal Academy of Arts exhibition: Jasper Johns “Something Resembling Truth”. It is currently still on and will be available until the 10th December. An adult ticket is £17 without donation but the ticket price does include audio guides for those are so inclined to use them!

I have not actually heard of this artist before until a friend mentioned that he was going to have a look. As always, I would jump on any opportunity to expand my knowledge of art and culture. When I googled, and saw the iconic paintings the US flags, I realised who I was going to see! Having said that, because of my lack of knowledge of this artist, I wasn’t very sure what I was in for!

This is the first comprehensive survey of the work in the UK and it was an extremely large exhibition. I personally thought it was beautifully curated and the artwork was chronologically ordered. Each room you walked through was of a different decade. Obviously, to be difficult, I started with his latest work from the early 2000s and then making my way backward in time to the 1960s. I am glad that I did because I think it provided a different perspective on how his work developed. It was notable, how it became more vibrant and sophisticated over time, though admittedly more and more abstract.

There are some obvious reoccurring themes throughout his works, but my favourite pieces were definitely the recent paintings, which seemed to have a more Picasso feel; or the really early works with different materials, such as the Painted Bronze (ale cans) and The Critic Sees (1961).

Overall, it was a very well curated exhibition with a lot to see. For someone like me who was unfamiliar with his work, it was an eye-opener. However, personally, I am not a massive fan of his work and often found it difficult to emotionally engage with his art. Though, if you are a fan of his artwork, this is not an event to miss! As a result, I would give the exhibition 3.5 pineapples out of 5.

I would love to know your thoughts of this artist and whether you have had a chance to go and see the exhibition! Please leave your comments below 🙂

As always, with sweet & sour love,

Pineapple Chicken x