Learning from ‘the man and the beast’: amazing Picasso exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery

Conversation with Picasso

“Go and do the things you can’t. That is how you get to do them.”

Things I have learned from Pablo Picasso:

– keep an open and curious mind – it will inform your creativity
– be open to change
– keep exploring and learning, don’t get stuck in your ways
– be free in your expression, don’t censure yourself
– be succinct and clear
– reduce to the max

Conversation with PICASSO

“I begin with an idea and then it becomes something else. ”

Conversation with PICASSO

“Art is the elimination of the unnecessary.”

Conversation with PICASSO

“Learn the rules like a pro, so you can break them like an artist.”

“Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) remains one of the most celebrated artists of all time. Contemporary art critic Robert Hughes wrote: “No painter or sculptor, not even Michelangelo, [was] as famous as this in his own lifetime.” Picasso was a champion of abstract art, which has come to define the avant-garde in the 20th century.

A Spanish-born artist who spent his adult life in France, Picasso’s artistic production spans over six decades, making him one of the most prolific artists of the modern era. His celebrated Blue and Rose Periods (1901-1906) marked his first decade in Paris. These early canvases are known for their deep, cool palette, often featuring people from Picasso’s circle of friends, while the Rose Period brought warmer, brighter hues of orange and pink, with figures from the theatre, ballet, and circus.

Cubism in its Analytic and Synthetic phases (1909-1919) developed when Picasso joined forces with French artist Georges Braque, and the two began experimenting with the composition of the object and picture plane. As they dismantled and re-assembled forms into various states, often with multiple perspectives and angles, Cubism was born.

While embracing elements of Classicism and Surrealism in both artistic and literary circles into the mid decades of the last century, Picasso never stopped exploring new themes and techniques in his art. His total artistic output is estimated in the thousands, including paintings, drawings, prints, sculptures, and ceramics. He married twice and had four children by three women.” (Source: WAG)

For more information about the amazing exhibition at the Winnipeg Art Gallery (WAG) – ‘Pablo Picasso, man and beast’ (May 13 until Aug 13, 2017), click here.

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Seen and liked: Blue Whale exhibition and Henry Moore Sculpture Centre

 

 

Art Gallery of Ontario (AGO), Toronto

The Art Gallery of Ontario is known for its extraordinary collection of Henry Moore works. The Henry Moore Sculpture Centre opened in 1974 to house Moore’s original gift to the AGO, now totalling more than 900 sculptures and works on paper.

The collection of the AGO includes more than 80,000 works spanning the first century to the present day. The gallery has 45,000 square metres of physical space, making it one of the largest galleries in North America.

Click here to read more about the Henry Moore Sculpture Centre.

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Royal Ontario Museum (ROM), Toronto

In 2014, nine rare blue whales became trapped in ice off the coast of Newfoundland and died. Their loss represents about three percent of the Northwest Atlantic’s blue whale population. Blue whales usually sink when they die, but in an unusual occurrence two of the blue whales washed ashore in Trout River and Rocky Harbour, Newfoundland and Labrador, offering an unprecedented opportunity for research.

Working with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, Research Casting International and the local communities, scientists of the Royal Ontario Museum de-fleshed and recovered the bones of this endangered species, transporting them to Ontario. After a two-year process where the bones were buried in manure, and de-greased, one of these awe-inspiring animals is now displayed at the ROM.

Click here to read more about the exquisite Blue Whale exhibition.

Urgent environmental issues converted into dramatic form by Thaddeus Holownia

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I am not prepared for what I am going to see when I enter the Corkin Gallery in Toronto. At first glance, I only see photographs of little strange birds facing downwards as if falling out of the sky. Some look as if they are asleep, but others are charred beyond recognition. I am starting to understand that I am looking at something very tragic, captured as a reminder or warning by photographer Thaddeus Holownia. But what exactly is it?

The Canaport bird kill exhibition shows many lingering images. ‘A fast shutter for slow violence’, journalist Geordie Miller called the art of Canadian photographer Thaddeus Holownia, who took pictures of some 200 creatures killed by human error. “Drawn to a deadly light on a foggy night, songbirds begin to fall from the sky. By evening’s end, more than 7,500 are rendered flightless, lifeless. Twenty-six species of songbirds felled by one flame, a flare from the natural gas burn-off at the Canaport Liquefied natural Gas terminal in Saint John, New Brunswick, September 13th, 2013.”

The disastrous event is represented on a 17-foot-high scroll – called Icarus, Falling of Birds (2016) – and several individual photographs. The viewer cannot help but be affected by their immediacy and immensity.  I left the gallery with a sense of sadness and discomfort, but also a genuine interest in the work of Thaddeus Holownia, who manages to artistically capture dramatic urgent issues in a very unique way.

Click here for the whole story and article by Geordie Miller (Canadian Art, Feb 2017).

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“The work of Thaddeus Holownia deals with how how humanity changes landscape,
how the forces of nature mould human structures.

His work calls attention to various ecological and political issues;
and his art practice conveys these precarious relationships.”

(Corkin Gallery, Toronto)

 

Further information:
canadianart.ca/reviews/thaddeus-holownia/
Corkin Gallery, Toronto

Contemporary Art from North North America – Oh Canada …

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‘Uncharted galvanized hut’ by Chris Millar, 2008.

Curiosity. Humour. Absurdity. 

An epic art exhibition is taking over Calgary: Comprised of more than 100 artworks by over 60 artists and collectives from across the country,  Oh, Canada: Contemporary Art from North North America, is vast in scope and size – so big that no one gallery space in Calgary is large enough to host the entire exhibition. The exhibition, organized by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art (MASS MoCA), is the largest survey of contemporary Canadian art ever produced outside Canada! In order to bring this ambitious survey of contemporary Canadian art to Calgary, four local art institutions have partnered to co-represent it (Esker Foundation, Glenbow, Illingworth Kerr Gallery and Nickle Galleries).

Oh, Canada is huge in both scale and scope: 61 Artists. 4 Galleries. 1 Exhibition.

“Over 800 artists from every province and territory were initially considered for ‘Oh Canada’. Following 400 studio visits, 62 artists and collectives were selected, focusing mostly on those less known outside Canada”, says Denise Markonish, the Curator of ‘Oh Canada’. “These artists hail from as fas west as the Yukon, as north as Nunavut and as east as Newfoundland and Labrador; they cross multiple generations, and wok in all media, from painting to performance.”

The overall selection is fabulous! I particularly enjoyed Chris Millar’s work, as the natural born storyteller draws us into his ‘own private universe of wondrous tiny details’, holding our attention while unfolding his outrageous tales and phantasies. Millar’s paintings are dense mixtures of images and phrases, whereas his sculptures are sprinkled with visual clues for the viewer.

Does Oh, Canada define a country as large and intricately layered as Canada? “Not really”, says Markonish, “though it provides insight – through more than 100 artworks – into some of the country’s most noteworthy art practices and ideas, including a deep and continuing interest in the land, craft and identiy politics”.

As for me, a new Canadian since December last year,  Oh, Canada  is but one snapshot among many possibilities, intended to encourage dialogue, debate and a deeper exploration into the breadth and excellence of Canadian art today.

 

 

ABOUT the museum:
Glenbow is Western Canada’s largest museum, with over one million objects in the collection including works of art, cultural artifacts from around the world, and photographs and documents relating to the history of Western Canada. The exhibitions, programs and events are designed to create memorable experiences for all Calgarians.

About Chris Millar
Born in Claresholm, Alberta, Chris Millar grew up in Sherwood Park. He completed a fine arts diploma at Grant MacEwan Community College in 1998, and a bachelor of fine arts in painting at the Alberta College of Art+ Design in 2000.

Seen and liked – Large-scale installations by Ai WeiWei in Vancouver and Phyllida Barlow in London

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AI WeiWei, Art Gallery Vancouver, Canada, 2015

Simply fascinating! ‘Ai WeiWei’s large-scale installation BANG comprises of 886 antique stools and replicas from the Qing dynasty (1644-192) that has been installed by traditional Chinese craftsmen. Three-legged stools were often handed down through generations and could be found in nearly every Chinese home until the 1960s, when industrial manufacturing replaced carved wood with plastic. They are arranged in an expansive rhizomatic structure that suggests ‘directions in motion with no beginning or end’. Like traditional furniture, BANG is always detachable, connectable, reversible and modifiable, with multiple entrances and exits. Any one stool in BANG can be interpreted as symbolic of an individual in relationship to the rapidly developing and complex structures of contemporary society.’ (Vancouver Art Gallery, 2015)

Phyllida Barrow, Tate Britain

Phyllida Barlow, Tate Britain, London 2014

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Phyllida Barlow at the Tate Britain 

What a treat at the Tate Gallery in London – the circuit walk through British Art provides a chronological overview from the 16th century to the present day, showing famous and less famous works together. In Fall 2014, I went to see Phyllida Barlow’s large scale sculptural installations at the Tate, where the sculptor unveiled her largest and most ambitious work in London for the Tate Britain Commission 2014. The Commission invites artists to respond to Tate’s collection and to the grand spaces of the Duveen Galleries. Phyllida Barlow’s large-scale sculptural installations used inexpensive, everyday materials such as cardboard, fabric, timber and polystyrene.

More about the artists:

Ai WeiWei is one of the most prolific international artists practicing today. Performance, photography and installation  are equally associated in his visual repertoire, in addition to projects in writing, design and architecture. After returning to China from the United States in the early 1990s, Ai’s work focused on cultural traditions that had been discarded during the Cultural Revolution.  He began collecting Chinese antiques and furniture and integrating them into his artistic practice as a means of addressing historical and cultural values in the context of art. (Info: Art Gallery Vancouver, 2015)

Phyllida Barlow has been described as one of the great art teachers of her generation. Barlow, who turned 70 last year, has spent her adult life making sculpture, enjoying her greatest success by far over the last 10 years. She’s taught everyone from Martin Creed to Rachel Whiteread, but it’s only now, that Barlow is getting her dues as an artist. She creates on a massive scale, using cardboard, rags, rubber, tape, tarpaulin, paper, polystyrene.

Interview in the Guardian

 

‘Circulus Maximus’ – an art solution

A circular space. A cone-shaped stage. A slanted platform – this is ‘Circulus Maximus’, an amazing project by Wim Goossens and Arnaud Hendrickx  at the Museum for Contemporary Art (M HKA) in Antwerp, Belgium.

I am circumventing the cone-shaped stage from the left, while some other visitors tiptoe to the right. We meet at the back of the circular space, at the base of the slanted platform, facing a circular ramp ascending and almost touching the ceiling at its furthest. What did the custodian say? “Only few artists master such volume?”

This art solution is brilliant.

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‘It is rather expensive – from waste of space point of view, but everybody likes a circular space; the instant feel of awe, the light drenched wide-angle view, the sublime, all that kind of stuff. But there are few ones who know how to master such a volume. Often it comes down to putting in perspective a 360 degree surrounding: do you bring it back to a plane or not?” (The Custodian)

 

About M HKA

The M HKA is the museum for contemporary art, film and visual culture in Antwerp, Belgium. It is an open place of encounter for art, artists and the public. The M HKA aspires to play a leading role in Flanders and to extend its international profile by building upon Antwerp’s avant-garde tradition. The M HKA bridges the relationship between artistic questions and wider societal issues, between the international and the regional, artists and public, tradition and innovation, reflection and presentation.

Leuvenstraat 32. 2000 Antwerp. Belgium

Photographs: D.S. Herold / Copyright 2014

Seen and liked: Bailey’s Stardust in London

Exhibition of thought-provoking portraits at National Portrait Gallery until 1 June

Baileys

A few days ago, I went to see Stardust in London. What a treat!  “I try to simplify things by just having a white background and no distractions”, David Bailey once said. “I don’t care about ‘composition’ or anything like that. I just want the emotion of the person in the picture to come across.”

As well as new work, this landmark exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery features over 250 images – personally  selected and printed – by David Bailey.

Bailey, whose career has spanned more than half a century, has made an outstanding contribution to photography and the visual arts, creating consistently imaginative and thought-provoking portraits.

“In photography everything is so ordinary; it takes a lot of looking before you learn to see the extraordinary.” David Bailey

Bailey’s Stardust illustrates the extraordinary range of subjects that Bailey has captured: actors, musicians, filmmakers, writers, designers, models, artists and people encountered on his travels. Rooms are devoted to icons from the worlds of fashion and the arts, striking portraits of the Rolling Stones and Catherine Bailey and people of the East End of London, as well as Bailey’s time in East Africa, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Delhi and the Naga Hills.

More information

National Gallery

The National Portrait Gallery
The Gallery was founded in 1856 to collect portraits of famous British men and women. Visitors can explore over 195,000 portraits from the 16th Century to the present day. There is also the photographs collection which consists of more than 250,000 original photographic images of which at least 130,000 are original negatives. They date from the 1840s to the present day. For more information, click here.


David Bailey
(born in London, 1938), who had taught himself photography, became a photographic assistant at the John French studio before being contracted as a fashion photographer for Vogue magazine. Along with Terence Donovan, he captured the Swinging London of the 1960s: a culture of high fashion and celebrity chic. Together, they were the first real celebrity photographers, socializing with musicians, actors and royalty. Read more on Wikipedia.