This exhibition comprises fierce, expressionistic works- many of single female sitters on couches-apparently his models arrive at twilight and he paints them when he cannot quite see the exact colours clearly on his tubes of oil. As the introduction to the exhibition at King’s Place, London states, “Opening in conjunction with the Baroque Unwrapped music programme, Piano Nobile presents Thomas Newbolt: Drama Painting – A Modern Baroque. Immense paintings by contemporary artist Thomas Newbolt explore the very essence of painting: the paradoxes of light and dark, psyche and body, figure and ground. Such liminal spaces are where Newbolt finds a vital potency: ‘I’m interested in the emotional area the painting opens up, so when I stand back I feel it’s true’. Layering undiluted oil paint in vigorous impasto, the paintings have a physical depth mirroring their expressive complexity.” Indeed it is the case that these paintings in impastos of pure colour have an impressive presence and dignity.
The figures have the sense that they are apprehensively awaiting a tense psychoanalytic session. Their long and elegant dresses have a timeless elegance about them perhaps reminiscent of Christian Schad but painted with an intensity approaching Francis Bacon. The colours are rich and vivid with an accent on vermillion or verdant dark greens against an equally strong background of intense blue or brown. There is an interesting triptych and smaller studies of heads. Dramatic, indeed, so if you are in London to see a play, take the short walk past the Guardian offices in Kings Cross to see these intriguing works.
Schatz came from a family of civil servants and attended the Vienna School of Applied Arts.With 22 years of commitment to the political left, the artist had already appeared as a book illustrator for Arthur Roessler and also for Josef Luitpold Stern. Schatz illustrated books in the interwar period, especially literature from theStrom-Verlag(including Stefan Zweig , Jack London , Upton Sinclair’s “Co-op” and Peter Roseggers “Jakob the Last”).
1925 was the Great Treasure State Award, 1928-38 he was a member of the Hagenbund . He lived during the Second World War treasure in Brno, Prague and later in a sub-camp of Gross-Rosen concentration camp in Graditz admitted that he “jüdisch-versippt” -which apparently meant that by his marriage he was considered part of the Jewish “clan”. Schatz became, on his return, by the City Councillor for Culture. His first prize for the design of the Wiener Westbahnhofs remained unrealized.
“Die Hoffnung” has the erotic interest that figures in much of Schatz’s work and is vaguely reminiscent of the sardonic style of Edward Burra, who has recently been the subject of a programme by Andrew Graham-Dixon called “I never tell anyone, anything”. This intriguing programme is available on You-Tube at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BoLh8xgOdI
This portrait by Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine (1888–1944) was completed in St Petersburg and it shows a cubist influence, the dynamism associated with futurism as well as a colourful lyricism. The palette is already not dissimilar from Sonia Delaunay with whom he was later to co-operate in Paris in the development of Orphism. They were both Jewish emigrants from Ukraine anduntil 1914 he was a resident in the artist’s colony La Ruche. This was an old three-storey circular structure- hence its name which is French for ‘ The Beehive’- situated in the 15th Arrondissement on the Left Bank and originally designed by Gustave Eiffell as a temporary building in the decidedly colourful area called the Passage Dantzig.
According to the Oxford Art On-Line, “His proximity in the mid-1900s to the artists of the nascent avant-garde, especially David Burlyuk and Vladimir Burlyuk, was of decisive importance to his stylistic development. Contributing to The Link (Kiev, 1908) and their other exhibitions in Moscow, Kiev and St Petersburg, he supported their stand against Realism and the Academy, favouring a brightly coloured post-Impressionism reminiscent of Georges Seurat and Louis Valtat.”
Amongst those considered as key figures in the development of painting before Matisse is the painter and print maker, Louis Valtat. He was a close friend of the Nabis. The latter used simple areas of pure colour and along with Gaugin, these influenced Valtat towards the purity of form, line and colour known as synthetism. His later work is also considered by some, notably Natalie Henderson Lee as proto-Fauvist. This was no doubt due to the time he later spent near the Mediterranean which intensified his use of colour.
Because Vladimir Baranoff-Rossine was fond of a bright coloured palatte it was said that he was influenced by the post-impressionism of both Seurat and Valtat. It is interesting how much information seems to have been flowing between Paris and St Petersburg in the mid 1900s partly due to the influence of art magazines. It was also supported by the influence of the members of the group The Link (Zveno) the Burliuks organized an avant-garde exhibition in Kiev.
Rossine’s self portrait was painted when he was just nineteen. The work already shows his movement towards a orphic style although his palette is not that far away from the colours employed by Nathan Altman in his The Ziger Macher (the watch mender). The notes from Hammersite.com suggest that this particular portrait was painted about 1914 and go on to say,” The painting is from the period Altman exhibited with The Jack of Diamonds group and attempted to express Jewish national identity utilizing a contemporary style. “
When Rossine moved to Paris in 1910, he will have come into a situation where critics such as Apollinaire, Gleizes and Vauxcelles were developing and defining the Cubist project. In addition he was already associated with the rather more expressionist style from the Russian cities such as the Burluik brothers. It must have been a period of quite frenzied excitement leading to the many innovative works.The crescendo came in Paris by 1913. (See The Essay at http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01pt70h) Other interesting figures within this general ambit include Jean Metzinger, František Kupka, a Czech painter, David Sheterenberg and the Ukrainian Avant-Garde Sculptor, Alexander Archipenko. The latter possibly an influence on Rossine’s own sculptural work.
More Rossine paintings can be viewed at http://www.flickriver.com/photos/tags/Rossine/interesting/
The eye-catching, penetrating splendour of Matti Braun’s lyrical paintings and creations are as unusual asthey are inspiring. Braun was born in 1968, trained at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Berlin and also in Frankfurt, he works in Cologne and has had several major exhibitions in Germany, France and Italy. His work can be seen currently at the Arnolfini Gallery in Bristol until the 6th Jan 2013. Further details may be found here at http://www.madeingermanyzwei.de/Kuenstler/Matti-Braun This current exhibition consists of an installation constructed from sections through a Douglas Fir tree obtained from Westonbirt Arboretum. These are surrounded by a lake of water creating a placid, contemplative effect. Filling the tank in which they are enclosed, gave the Bristol fire brigade a useful opportunity for them to practise and develop their skills. Further information can be read on http://www.arnolfini.org.uk/whatson/exhibitions/details/1409 and photographs of the operation at http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-19862898 and http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-bristol-19747232 The work was apparently inspired by a film, later abandoned, by the renowned Bengali filmmaker Satyajit Ray. It was entitled ‘The Alien’.
In some respects Braun’s compositions are a little reminiscent of the rainbow effects in the colour field paintings of Morris Louis- which the critic Clement Greenberg has termed post-painterly abstraction. There is also the possible influence of Mark Rothko. His paintings in acrylic, silk and cold-rolled steel bring to mind the evocative inks of a Rorschach test. Certainly, they invite the viewer’s personal response or interpretation.
Braun is gifted and prolific. His thought provoking and exciting conceptions will repay further attention in forthcoming years. On a personal basis they remind me of a garden hedge clustered in Mesembryanthemums in full sunlight. Set against a dark background they might suggest the delicate fronds of various luminescent underwater sea coral.
There has been a renewed interest in works of British Surrealism in recent years. In summing up an exhibition in The Independent on the 26th May 2008 at The Middlesborough Institute of Modern Art- http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/british-surrealists-minor-league-but-major-players-834236.html -Tom Lubbock wrote,” People have said that Britain was Surrealism’s original native land Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, William Blake, the gothic novel, Gulliver’s Travels etc. Perhaps we didn’t need the whole movement-and-manifesto thing. But it produced, slightly by accident, a group of very interesting pictures that ought to have a wider showing, and which the Sherwin Collection is willing to lend.” Clearly symbolism and surrealism have obvious links in mythology and archetypes and such matters were thrown into the generally creative and tempestuous furore which grasped interest in the period between the wars.This climaxed in in the organisation of the International Surrealist Exhibition in London in 1936. There is some evidence of these issues in the paintings displayed in the current exhibition, mostly on loan in Falmouth from the Southampton Gallery. The artists on show include PAUL NASH,CECIL COLLINS, CERI RICHARDS, ROLAND PENROSE, JOHN TUNNARD, EILEEN AGAR &ITHELL COLQHOUN.
However, the most exuberant and baroque piece was a comparatively recent work by David Kemp – entitled “The Hanging Gardens of Basildon”. On his blog, Kemp comments, “It is one of a series of a dozen large plant forms, all influenced by “THE GARDEN OF EARTHLY DELIGHTS” an enigmatic painting by the great Hieronymus Bosch, which explored many aspects of medieval life, many of which might still be seen as relevant to the human condition, in our modern world?” This comment on the fantastic botanical forms and the connection with Bosch is reminiscent of the work of the VienneseSchool of Fantastic Realism as explified by Arik Brauer whose interest in Bosch he derived from his own tutor, Albert Paris von Gütersloh.
No visitor can possibly fail to be impressed by the peculiar botanical drawing, named “Prophylactic sea-mouth” by Edith Rimmington. The haunting form appears as some kind of elongated mutation of a dogfish egg-case with a coiling eel like flagellum.
However, for those interested in the development of the work of Paul Nash, his oil painting, “The Archer” will doubtless attract attention both for its muted complementary colours and the charmingly odd bucolic setting. A friend comments in a personal communication, “The Nash is one of his complex compositions worked on for years with bits from all over the place. There is a letter by Nash about it in Tate Archives. The central ‘archer’ feature was a structure he made from an old toy boat, glass tube, twig, seaweed etc. I don’t think it exists anymore other than as a photo. It looks more compelling in the photo with strong echoes of surrealist sculptures by Giacometti, Man Ray etc. He constructed (like Lanyon), collected and photographed sculptural objects from which he derived elements of his paintings.
The ‘target’ is from Men-An-Tol of course + mirrors etc; the shadow of the girl bottom right, sampled from De Chirico etc.etc. All very sexual with the ineffective arrow being merely the shadow of the archer….. I’m not convinced that he managed to get it to cohere as an image. I wish he had left the landscape dominant as with ‘Landscape at Iden’ http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/nash-landscape-at-iden-n05047 where the symbolic elements infuse the composition naturally.”
This photograph of de Kooning and his wife, Elaine is engaging in its own right and may be found on a very useful and visually appealing website, at http://artistandstudio.tumblr.com/archive a site which includes self-portraits, painters and their models, their ateliers in pictures and photographs. Looking at this handsome couple prompts further work into abstract impressionism, its history and associated figures. The photograph is particularly engaging and was taken by Ibram Lassaw.
Willem de Kooning(April 24, 1904 – March 19, 1997) was born in Rotterdam in the Netherlands and journeyed to New York at the age of twenty, he was a stowaway and was very taken by Jazz. He came to prominence when he painted the 105 public murals for the 1939 New York World’s Fair. As the Wikapedia article about him states,” As his work progressed, the heightened colors and elegant lines of the abstractions began to creep into the more figurative works, and the coincidence of figures and abstractions continued well into the 1940s”. At http://www.theartstory.org/artist-de-kooning-elaine.htm it states of the couple,” Elaine and Willem de Kooning endured a long and, at times, very tumultuous marriage. As much as each artist benefited from one another’s paintings and teachings, they mutually suffered due to constant infidelities and struggles with alcoholism.”
Of particular interest is the abstract expressionism developed by de Kooning’s erstwhile colleague, whose fascinating work can be viewed at http://www.tumblr.com/tagged/adolph-gottlieb?before=1338654139 Gottlieb joined de Kooning and others, including Mark Rothko from 1935 to 1940 in a group known as “The Ten” http://www.louisschanker.info/tendisc.htm. Some of Gottlieb’s ouevre is somewhat reminiscent of Paul Klee.
This painting can be found in the National Portrait Gallery in London and shows the celebrated composer, Sir William Walton in 1948 in Capri where he was recovering from jaundice. Its atmosphere suggests recuperation and the date also reminds us that Europe was slowly convalescing from the devastation of war. Walton was to permanently settle the following year on Ischia, a volcanic island in the Tyrrhenian Sea some 30 km from Naples, of which it is a province. The painting with its remarkable diagonal composition and repeated dynamic lines is reminiscent of Wyndham Lewis, who was a significant influence on Ayrton and whose portrait he was to paint, a few years later in 1955; this is discussed at this link- http://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/ayrton-portrait-of-wyndham-lewis-t07133. It is perhaps interesting to compare Wyndham Lewis’s well-known portrait of Ezra Pound with Ayrton’s Walton. The subject in the latter case looking a good deal more awake and serenely pondering the pleasures of the view and the prospects of reloading his pipe from the tobacco pouch.
In the portrait, Walton almost seems to be couched against the rocky promontory which cascades down to the sea-where the line of the cliff appears submerged rather than reflected by the water surface. The pale tones in grey, purple, reds and blues convey serenity to the composition. The repeated folds and linear motif however add a contrasting energy to the figure that is captured as though by a camera and achieve a monumental charm at what might otherwise not seem a particularly significant moment. The subject has a contemplative gaze which will be prolonged, indeed deepened by the next twist from the “fragrant weed”. The glass, decanter and bill/slip of paper seem to encourage the viewer to share into his own pensive mood.
The Oxford Companion to Western Art, says this about English Neo-Romanticism, the movement which both Ayrton and as we shall see Minton both belonged, “Never more than loosely affiliated, its painters took inspiration from the early 19th-century landscapists: from SAMUEL PALMER and his circle at Shoreham, and from TURNER. They were also influenced by French post-CUBIST developments during the 1930s. The beginnings of the movement were dominated by GRAHAM SUTHERLAND and PAUL NASH, and, to an extent, by JOHN PIPER. Their conception of the anthropomorphic potential of natural landscapes and the objects within them had a powerful influence on the younger generation of artists who became popular in the early 1940s, developing a style of agonized and sinister landscape very different from their early exemplars. MICHAEL AYRTON, JOHN MINTON, and John Craxton (1922– ) were the most expressive and innovative of the painters involved; others who shared the concerns of the movement for a time included Keith Vaughan (1912–77) and the Scottish artists Robert Colquhoun (1914–62) and Robert MacBryde (1913–66).”
John Minton (1917- 57) was a talented but troubled teacher,painter and stage designer who trained at St John’s Wood School along with Ayrton who strongly influenced him. This period between 1935 and 1938 was a time when neo-romanticism seems to have flourished, again the Oxford Companion to Western Art writes of him, “British painter, graphic artist, and designer, born at Great Shelford (Cambs.). After studying in London at St John’s Wood School of Art, 1936–8, he spent a year in Paris, where he shared a studio with MICHAEL AYRTON (with whom he later collaborated on designs for John Gielgud’s production of Macbeth at the Piccadilly Theatre, London, in 1942). Among the artists whose work he saw in Paris, he was particularly influenced by the brooding sadness of Eugene Berman (1899–1972) (More information also at http://www.sullivangoss.com/eugene-berman/) and Pavel Tchelitchew (1898–1957). (There is a You–tube, in Italian at http://www.encyclopedia.com/video/aQpp6epASaQ-la-danza-delle-ombre-pavel.aspx) In 1941–3 he served in the Pioneer Corps, and after being released on medical grounds he had a studio in London at 77 Bedford Gardens (the house in which RobertColquhoun (1914–62), Robert MacBryde (1913–66), and Jankel Adler (1895–1949) lived), 1943–6. From 1946 to 1952 he lived with Keith Vaughan (1912–77). Minton was a leading exponent of NEO-ROMANTICISM and an influential figure through his teaching at Camberwell School of Art (1943–7), the Central School of Arts and Crafts (1947–8), and the Royal College of Art (1948–56).
He was extremely energetic, travelling widely and producing a large body of work as a painter (of portraits, landscapes, and figure compositions), book illustrator, and designer. After about 1950, however, his work went increasingly out of fashion. He made an effort to keep up with the times with subjects such as The Death of James Dean (1957; London, Tate), but stylistically he changed little. Minton was renowned for his charm and generosity, but he was also melancholic and troubled by self-doubt. He committed suicide with an overdose of drugs.”
The first painting, considered here, ofLucretia is that by Joos van Cleve, a Flemish artist dated 1525 (Oil on panel). The Rijksmuseum says,”Joos van Cleve was probably born in the town or province Kleve in Germany. He trained under a painter in Kalkar. Probably, he started working in Bruges in 1507. Later he moved to Antwerp, where he registered as a master painter in the painters guild. Van Cleve was one of the most influential painters in Antwerp. He received major commissions for portraits and altarpieces. In his paintings he combines a traditional approach with new elements. He was one of the first to paint broad landscapes in the background. In the north, painters began to show an interest in landscapes in the sixteenth century.” It is said that, that like Quentin Massys, a fellow artist of Antwerp, Joos van Cleve appropriated themes and techniques of Leonardo da Vinci.
Having recently seen Massys’s beautiful painting of Flora, 1559 in the Kunsthalle in Hamburg, I can vouch for its entrancing effect which has spurred me to look too at his splendid and interesting oeuvre.
There are 9 images for The Rape of Lucrece in the Lessing Archive http://www.lessing-photo.com/search.asp?a=1&kc=202020203B61&kw=RAPE+OF+LUCRETIA&p=1&ipp=6 of which that of Joos van Cleve, in my view, is the most moving. This is due partly to the intense use of colour and partly because of the composition. Her head is slightly raised and there is a plaintive and doleful expression on the face which clearly evokes her immeasurable sense of violation. The gesture is expressive rather than realistic and conveys the sense of drama, emphasised in the picture by the diagonal composition. The swirling dishabille of her dress and attendant necklace, the lacing, the elegant sleeving and in particular the looping arc about her headdress adds to the emotional sense of dire confusion. Her royalty is conveyed by these fine robes. The red and black surrounding the more delicate flesh tones add to the sense of catastrophe. Such emphatic use of colour reminded me of Munch’s painting of The Madonna with which it is interesting to compare and contrast, since this second painting with its languorous quality is quite different in terms of the feelings communicated. http://www.edvard-munch.com/gallery/women/madonna.htm
The etching and engraving which in a twisted and troubled composition in black and tones of grey, dramatically suggests the violence of the rape itself in convoluted tubes with a sharp diagonal point, perhaps suggestive of Tarquin’s arm but surely demonstrates the violence of the crime itself. The lower figure seems distraught and crudely exposed to the upper figure which appears too as some sort of metamorphosised fly with the same stabbing structure seeming like some horrific proboscis. Also Armion according to Wikipedia remarks upon,” The association between the phallus and the blade later becomes quite clear when Tarquin enters Lucrece’s chamber and threatens the young woman with his sword”. Here the abstract forms fully express the extremity of the situation. At this time, it appears Hayter had just moved to No. 17, Rue Campagne-Première and was, a few years later to collaborate with Miro, Kandinsky and Picasso on artwork for the Republican cause in Spain. Perhaps this is reminiscent of the significant political result of these events, that Lucius Junius Brutus, nephew of the last Tarquin King led the rebellion against him and founded theRomanRepublic.
At the end of May I had the opportunity to meet Maggie at her lovely granite cottage just off the coast road from Land’s End to St Just where I interviewed her about her development as a painter and printmaker. She has recently bought herself a new etching press which was on the table where we sat and had coffee around the sturdy wooden table. Her next exhibition will commence at the Cornwall Contemporary (http://www.cornwallcontemporary.com/ ) on the 17th August and runs to the 10th September.
Maggie grew up in Brynmawr in Gwent, South Wales and first came to Cornwalljust after leaving Exeter College of Art and Design. (Further details may be found at http://www.maggiematthews.co.uk/). Graham Sutherland was an early interest, particularly his use of colour. Having already been inspired by the landscape of South Wales with its magnificent mountain scenery, she was further impressed by the fabulous light of Penwith. Her family had strong naval connections, her grandfather had in fact been bombed out of Devonport, and the sea itself was an additional attraction for which she felt a strong, familiar affinity. Her palette changed completely and she became deeply interested in the St Ives painters. She was now to paint in bright and vivid colours which she soon came to use and to love.
Porthcawl andBarryIsland, nearCardiff, during the Miners fortnight holiday had already started a love of the beach and its natural history.ComprehensiveSchoolhad encouraged her interest in art, ceramics and sculpture but in addition Maggie enjoyed biology and maths, interests which were to prove an inspiration as her work has developed.
The facilities at Exeter, near the river inspired her interests in printmaking and ceramics. The geological society had an outward-bound bus and so there at weekends came down to Cornwalland whilst other students examined the rocks in CotValleyand other places, Maggie would be enthusiastically sketching. The sea, the mining and the Celtic connections were an additional attraction. After a period working on the manufacture of air and oil filters in industry in South Wales, Maggie arrived at Penzancejob centre whilst on a two-week holiday. She got a post working on the Jetsetter computer graphics project drawing paired-down sketches of simple objects like wine glasses and pencils.
Maggie continued to sketch the landscape intensively at weekends. She also went on Friday nights in St Just with Mary Stork to draw life studies, which she found a useful exercise and with Mary’s support she exhibited her work for the very first time.
Her first solo show was in Brown’s Restaurant which Maggie then proceeded to show at for another two more years and then had a further displays at Avalon in Marazion. Her very abstract colourist compositions at this point were very much influenced by her attraction to Patrick Heron’s work. In particular Maggie likes his later garden works and the space and depth created in these compositions. Paul Nash, Samuel Palmer, William Blake and Sutherland remain her favourite works for their pastoral, lyrical qualities. She remains interested in printing, ceramics and expresses an interest too in sculpture.
“Hugh Stoneman inspired a renaissance in fine print making in Britain and the artistic scene in Cornwall”, according to Fiona MacCarthy in The Guardian and looking through the splendid 144 pages of this book, you can see just why this is the case. The 99 works illustrated include those of Sandra Blow, John Hoyland, Martin Leman and Sir Terry Frost. Many techniques-from woodcuts to photographs, linocuts to carborundum –silicon carbide grit mixed with acrylic binders- are employed. As well as an introduction, showing photographs at work in the seclusion of his purpose built house in the tree lined valley below Madron, there is a biography and a useful and instructive glossary of print terms.
The works illustrated now belong to the Art Fund Collective and were on display at the Falmouth Art Gallery. The text indicates,”Hugh’s links withCornwall, were always strong . He was first based at Dod Proctor’s previous studio and later he bought Orchard Flower Farm, Madron in the early 1980s with his second wife Linda, which was to become the family home –Hugh commuting toLondonto his studio inLondonevery week”. Hugh was also deeply involved in an endeavour which is about to reach fruition in St Ives, the renovation of the Porthmeor Studios.
Among the attractive variety of prints in this volume there are several which are of striking interest. There is the darkly mauve, purple and black image from Patrick Heron’s Brushworks Series, an etching made in his last year. This is printed alongside the contrasting botanical, Spring 1957 by Dame Barbara Hepworth. Among the prints by Breon O’Casey, the vibrant simplicity of Four Circles 2003 stands out as does, for quite different reasons, the unusual vibrant simplicity of Little Girl on a Lion by Andrew Murray. This is an inspiring collection worthy of extended perusal; the fruit of many years of work by this masterful print maker.