15 November 2014

Contemporary art sketchbook walk continuation (2)

Our agenda was to visit four galleries: Beers Contemporary, Parasol Unit, Victoria Miro, and Cubitt, which made for a nice walk from Old St tube towards the coffee bars of Islington. We visited all four but didn't draw in Victoria Miro ... the lure of coffee was too great!

First stop, portraits by Andrew Salgado - huge canvases, each with a tiny red dot on the label. Many included elements of collage and vivid mark-making. As the exhibition information puts it: "brazenly expanding upon a number of his trademark flourishes, including wild colours, bold themes, and off-kilter compositions ... his distinctive - but evolving - technique."
Our aim is to quickly settle down to drawing ... it doesn't really matter what you choose, or whether you "understand" it. The work I chose to draw was hardly my favourite, but it was instructive to look closely at the blocks of "flesh" colour and at the variety of extraneous marks, especially in comparison with those in John Piper's work. (My sketchbook is A-4 size.)

Shinro Ohtake's work was heavily collaged and constructed: his "oeuvre includes drawing, pasted works, painting, sculpture and photography, as well as experimental music and videos, but the activity of cutting and pasting is clearly his most powerful form of expression. Much of his work utilises found images and scraps discarded from urban culture".

Photography wasn't allowed in the gallery, but you can see a slide show of some of the pieces here. At the gallery's convenient table we had a quick look at our sketchbooks and at some books about the artist - this one is open at some "Frost" paintings, and on the table are thumbnails of pages in the big book in the exhibition -
He started the "Scrapbooks" in 1977 and has completed more than 60 now.
He used books in other ways too - this postcard is of a smallish piece, about 80cm high -

Yet more collage elements at Wangetchi Mutu's exhibition. Born in Kenya, she lives and works in New York; check out her website -

Coffee was at Candid Arts Cafe - up the narrow stairs to the welcoming room on the 2nd floor -
Then as darkness drew in, down a back alley to Cubitt to see woodcuts, sculpture, film by Sidsel Meineche Hansen ... the theme is mutation and self-destruction, "extending her ongoing work on nervousness, approaching psychopharmaceuticals as an internalised, institutional structure."
After Hansen;  after Ohtake
Inking the background was a learning curve - wetting the paper first works best - ink is another medium that needs "playing with", but not something you'd take along to a work with on the spot.
Shinro Ohtake's pieces were often richly black, or used many materials - for example, "Kasbah" at lower right, a black, layered piece with dangling tags framed with now-brown newspaper, contains "Persimmon tannin, cotton thread, staple, iron rivet, photograph, Japanese paper, newspaper, printed matter, thin paper, cardboard, wrapping paper, hemp cloth, wooden panel". That show runs till 12 December.

No comments: