Category Archives: Art Exhibition Reviews

Self Portraits- Jean Eve

Jean Eve was born into a working-class family. Entering the Colonial School of Le Havre in 1918, he became involved in the colonial  troop called Spahis and drew watercolours during his travels. Returning to Douai, he enlisted in the railways and then worked in a foundry workshop. Leaving painting , it was then that he had the revelation at the Petit Palais during the Gustave Courbet exhibition. But having a dependent family, he is only allowed to paint on Sundays.

In 1929, Jean Eve met Moses Kisling, who brought him closer to the editor of L’Art Vivant, who decided to organize a support committee for him to devote himself only to painting, which allowed him to quickly exhibit at the Salon des Indépendants. At the invitation of Henri Bing and Maximilien Gauthier, he participated in the exhibition “The Popular Masters of Reality” in 1936. This was the beginning of the fame for Jean Eve.

He then exhibited in New York and Switzerland and received the rank of Knight of the Legion of Honour and Commander of the Order of Arts and Letters.

Jean Eve’s painting is characterized by its sincerity and simplicity. As Maximilian Gauthier said, “he painted what he saw, simply, with all his heart.”

“My real workshop is nature” Jean Eve

This self portrait is somewhat reminiscent of Lucien Freud’s earlier work currently on display at the Royal Academy. Eve’s work is on display in the Musee Maliol in Paris.

Harry Ousey-Neglected Colourist amongst the St Ives Artists

 

Very recently I attended an intriguing talk by Sue Astles, Ousey’s neice about this little known Northern  Artist. I found myself wondering just how such a brilliant colourist could seemingly be rather overlooked. Further information and background can be found at

https://www.lancashirelife.co.uk/out-about/harry-ousey-exhibition-at-the-salford-museum-and-art-gallery-1-4082392

and at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Harry_Ousey

There are two possible factors which one might surmise for this aberration. Firstly, it seems that his interest in experimenting in so many various styles may have mitigated his being recognised for any definite style. His restless interest in both conventional and abstract work is not difficult to recognise. There is a certain interest in certain themes such as stone wall construction and the sea horizon. Certain influences seem to be lurking in the background from Miro, Dufy and perhaps Rothko. However, the multiplicity of his painting styles, doubtless including original work, could have inhibited proper recognition.

Such recognition might have been easier if he had access to gallery display. My second point is that I surmise that the influence of more recognised and prominent figures in the St Ives nexus made this difficult. Artists like Denis Mitchell and Terry Frost would have understood this. There was a social class barrier to surmount and I am fairly sure this is a pressure that a less wealthy northern painter would have encountered this even in the more enlightened postwar period. A glass ceiling even amongst progressives and bohemians!

Image result for harry ousey artist

Image result for harry ousey artist

Ousey’s later interest in environmental compositions reminded me also of the not dissimilar work of Margaret Mellis. (Not to be confused on grounds of alliteration with the abstract Penwith artist Marlow Moss!)

 

Felix Valliton

From the Latin American Expo at Photographer’s Gallery, the above photograph in the context of Latin American history brings up all the associations with the colour red. Melons with a knife implies the violence of the troubled history of South America. It also recalled the painting by Valliton which he painted upon the outbreak of the First World War- also a bloody image with another fruit/vegetable. I had seen this just a few hours before at the R.A. I ask myself what it is about these images that was so affecting. Perhaps it was that I was about to visit the Stanley Kubrick exhibition, perhaps also that they are reminders of how easily, in the current situation politically matters could go wrong.

Here are some further images of the Valliton from the R.A. I found his work dramatic and affecting on so many levels. A true modernist with a thoughtful face according to his self-portrait.

Valliton 1914
Gertrude Stein by V
Gertrude Stein by Valliton
Landscapes

Viewing Joseph Wright’s paintings in Derby

Image result for joseph wright of derbyThe light from within the Orrery

illuminates the children’s faces.

This glow in the darkness

spreads and each canvas is lit.

This picture depicts some wonder of generosity;

a marvel that touches deeply your curiosity.

Here around are landscapes, portraits and myths

gathered in profuse display and all Wright.

Here Arkwright sits near the spools of cotton

woven at his water-powered mill,

seemingly the quintessence of optimistic enterprise.

Beyond Arkwright’s son and wife look

more prosperous yet more mannered too as

Gainsborough might depict.

Across here a scene from Laurence Sterne

has captured Wright’s inquisitive imagination.

Nearby Vesuvius again erupts into crimson

and emerald below in the bay boats float

with fishermen undistracted in their industrious

capture of shoals beneath the calm seas.

I too am captured by a certain canvas in which

an Indian squaw sits widowed on a hillside under

her hero husband’s suspended arms and

awaits the breaking tumult from the threatening clouds.

Image result for joseph wright of derby

Derain, Balthus and Giacometti in Paris

This exhibition is currently showing at Le Musée d’Art moderne de la Ville in Paris until the 29th of October and comprises some 350 works which depict the friendship between these three artists. Their friendship which began in 1933 shows their joint fascination for classical Italian masters, formal clarity and experimentation with both still life and open air painting.

Derain, in particular, emerges as the significant and productive painter in this innovative and energetic period and naturally, a truly brilliant colourist. Here we see his later work and not his fauvist period. This exhibition shows their cross fertilisation between the three and their enthusiasms which clearly ricocheted off each other. In addition they shared models, friendships, collectors and in particular their interests in all aspects of contemporary drama. They were, until after the war, energetic in their correspondence, although without clear transcripts, their letters are not always easy to read even if the visitor is a fluent in French. An impressive self-portrait by Giacometti dominates the entrance, which calls to mind a certain likeness to Duncan Grant. Grant and Derain were post-impressionists deeply influenced by Matisse and Cezanne and indeed both were acquaintances of Gertrude Stein.

When comparing these three artists, each of whom are creative masters, it is worth considering their dates:- Derain (1880-1954), Giacometti(1901-1966) and Balthus(1908-2001). Derain was then their guiding light and already very well-known. He was in recovery from his years of military service but ready to move beyond fauvism towards a new classicism. He found time however to design for Diaghilev and the Ballets Russe.  He studied the masters of the early Renaissance and then Pompeian art. It was one particular still life that attracted the penetrating attention of Giacometti with one work- a sombre work from 1936 Nature morte aux poires.

Giacometti is currently on show at the Tate Modern until the 10th September and a few weeks later a new film appears with the Australian actor, Geoffrey Rush playing Giacometti. However, this Paris exhibition shows the cultural hinterland of this key modernist and his interest in working with Beckett, for example in the minimalist staging of Waiting for Godot.

The range of Balthus’s work is illustrated including the disquieting suspense filled eroticism of his depiction of reading, languorous adolescents. Balthus’s East-European ancestry has been the subject of much controversy but it seems that his mother was Jewish and romantically involved with the poet, Rilke. His work shows a deep knowledge and interest in literature. He had moved to Paris in 1933 from Morocco and formed a circle of friends which included the foremost poets and playwrights of the period. The range of his work is shown here and it is unsurprising to learn that the controversial psychoanalyst, Jacques Lacan was a major collector of his oeuvre.

The work on show includes some thought provoking portraits, sculptures, stage sets and photographs. It is not difficult to discern the disquieting political atmosphere of the times. As is well known, Derain stood accused on account of his visit to Berlin during the German Occupation. Nevertheless, Derain appears to have offered protection to members of Balthus’s family.    These works which include the magnificent etiolated sketches, almost carved into the background, by Giacometti, evidence the frenzied artistic activity situated between Saint-Germain and Montparnasse.

 

Their friendships included writers and poets like Artiste Arnaud, Max Jacob, Jean Cocteau together with Breton, Camus and Malraux. Surrealism was penetrating the dramatic experiments of the evolving “theatre of cruelty” with projects by Sartre and Jean-Louis Barrault. The world of fashion with Doucet and Dior, too was an occasional involvement. This is an exciting exhibition and prospective visitors require a minimum of two hours to get their money’s worth.

 

 

Moody girls with shiny noses……..and…..Jazz!

“Inesvigo” (Inconsequential) on YouTube is a constant source of pleasure. The combination of paintings with a musical backing gives a short journey into the imagination and concerns of each artist that he chooses to portray. For instance, I have just discovered the bohemian, metropolitan world of Milt Kobayashi.

Image result for Milt Kobayashi.

These paintings by Kobayashi give a glimpse of what I assume to be New York and perhaps Hawaii. They are interesting as a documentation of a historical and social context which is as vivid of the era as, for instance, Christian Schad is of the Weimar Period. The execution is quite different however and very expressive and not dissimilar from the Plymouth painter, Robert Lenkiewicz. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Lenkiewicz 

It is clear that his work is much influenced by the famous French Painters like Degas, Lautrec and Manet. Perhaps indeed some were painted in Paris as the bottles and tablecloths seem to intimate. Often the subjects, treated with moving sympathy seem filled with melancholy -that the Germans call “Wehmutig”.

This is what Inesvigo writes:-“He was born in New York but soon moved to Oahu, Hawaii with his family. At age eight he went to Los Angeles. After graduating from the University of California in 1970, he began working as an illustrator. In 1977 he returned to New York and when he visited the Metropolitan Museum his artistic career changed when he saw a portrait of Velazquez’s Juan de Pareja. He began to study the work of Whistler, Chase and Sargent, who had Velazquez’s influence. Then he studied Japanese painting of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries. The perspective of Japanese art provided harmony in color, composition and drawing – Kobayashi has received two important awards: the National Academy of Design’s Ranger Purchased Award and the Allied Arts Silver Medal. His work has appeared in the magazines Forbes, Fortune and Reader’s Digest”