Tag Archives: abstract

The universe within….

A large part of my work this year is about encapsulating the universe within.   Close your eyes for a minute; within each of us is an endless space – there is nothing, there are no ‘things’ – there are no boundaries.  This space can be peaceful and full of potential – it is the universe within.

This has been the focus of my painting recently too.

Below is the latest digital picture I have produced which found it’s source in a peaceful Norfolk Broad.    I am planning to exhibit three of these pictures on large canvases later in the year.

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Time for a cull

A great many artists will tell you that it is essential to have a cull of your work regularly, in order to keep things fresh, but it is a very difficult thing to do.    Earlier this year  I met Mark Anstee (see my blog post from January) who strongly feels that his work is temporary, and consequently, he culls regularly.

Yesterday I went to the excellent Abstract Expressionism exhibition at the Royal Academy and was delighted to see two photographs by Minor White included in the genre.   I have known about Minor White for a while, he was a mentor for John Daido Loori who I admire very much (Lee Aspland introduced me to them both) but I had not seen any of his work in person.

The prints they chose were mesmerising and I realised in an instant that I had to cull my photographic work and concentrate on the simple, zen, abstract work that I do.

So this morning I have deleted hundreds and hundreds of pictures that I have taken this year.   I have only kept the ones that made my heart sing when I saw them, and surprisingly most of them just evoked a ‘nah’ reaction – it wasn’t very difficult to do!

“One should photograph things not only for what they are, but also for what else they are.” Minor White

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Leaf, 2015

The featured image is “Elson, 2016”.

APT Open Studios – inspiring!

After a visit yesterday to the amazing APT Studios in Deptford I was inspired to have a paint.  It’s been a while and I really have to make the time – I love doing it – either in watercolour or acrylics, it’s a great afternoon when I can lose myself in a painting.

The two acrylics in this blog were done this afternoon 🙂

The studios are at Canalside and such an wonderful location – a bit of a rabbit warren but always something interesting to see at the next turn.  Yet again when I was thinking about what really appealed to me it was the abstract paintings – and yet I always try to paint things more figuratively myself – hmmm, a lesson there!

The following artists really made an impression:  Clyde Hopkins , David Webb, Arnold Dobbs, Lou Smith, Gillian Best Powell (I was sad to learn on the train going home that Gillian passed away earlier this year (not much older than me), I was particularly taken with her work and had collected some leaves on the way home to experiment with), Laurence Noga, Stephen Jacques and lastly Heather Burrell – her sculptures were wonderful and you will see an influence in one of my paintings here!

This is only a small fraction of the work that impressed and inspired me, but I can’t list them all – please do take time to look at their websites and also to go to the next open studios at APT – you won’t be disappointed!

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Sunday morning dream

Of course, the reason I was there in the first place was that Victoria Alexander, fellow MA Fine Art Student was a guest artist at APT and it was great to see her work in a different location and to catch up!

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Victoria Alexander with her kinetic piece.

And who knows, you might find me posting more paintings here in the future!

John Hoyland – Power Stations Review

After White Cube, I went from Bermondsey to Lambeth to the newly opened Newport Street Gallery to see the exhibition of John Hoyland’s work – Power Stations.

I have admired his work for a while, but nothing prepared me for walking round a room with these enormous canvasses, in such stunning colours.

I found the exhibition very inspiring and quite breathtaking at times – I could see the progression in his work, from very controlled, to looser, to very loose and back.   There are hard edges and soft edges.  Simple shapes and more complex shapes, drips and gestures.   I loved the colours – some of them really hit you, one of my absolute favorites was just grey and red (“29.12.66” – the featured image above).   There was also a noticeable change in how he used the paint over the time span, with some highly textural and others thinner.

There is such power in how colours are placed next to one another.   I was interested in the ‘void’ shape in the middle of several canvasses, where the uniform colour is at odds with the softer colours around it – these drew my eye constantly, to their nothingness.  I want to use that idea in the void paintings for my liminal project.

Below is a gallery of shots, just to give a flavour.  As I said, it really inspired me to pursue my own totally abstracted work which I haven’t had complete confidence in.   I sketched up a picture which would go with my liminal work on the coach home and will have a play with that idea over the coming days.

I found the exhibition very uplifting and emotional – and I am jealous of Damien Hirst being able to wander round any time he likes!

And after my experience at White Cube, I was very grateful for the small handout which explained a little about the show and the paintings.

Finally, I loved the building.   Light and airy, it was well laid out and I liked the open walkway above gallery 2.     But for me, the stars were the staircases at either end and middle of the long building.   Modern spiral staircases that were so beautiful, I took as many shots (on my phone, in poor light…) as I did of the paintings!   So, below, is a gallery just of the Newport Street staircases, superb!  (Oh, and a chair, which I loved in one of the galleries, the simplicity of the design was just perfect.).

After a long day walking around London, a bench in each gallery would have enabled me to sit and really contemplate each picture for longer.   As it was I moved on more quickly than I might have liked.

The exhibition is on until 3rd April 2016 – and I look forward to seeing what is exhibited next at Newport Street Gallery – although I may well come back to this one again first.

[I have just seen on the website that there was a shop!  I missed the shop! Damn…. ]

Stephan Geisler Exhibition at Jack House Gallery Review

I’ve just come back from a very enjoyable evening at Jack House Gallery in Old Portsmouth where it was the preview for German artist Stephan Geisler’s exhibition.  I had seen some of his work online and was interested in his use of colour and figures in his largely abstract expressionist paintings and so we went along to see more.

I am so glad we did, there is nothing to compare with seeing a painting that is 2 or 3m square on the wall in front of you, perhaps showing just a head portrait (“Pink Portrait”) 5ft high – seeing a picture online does not have the emotional impact of walking into a room of Stephan’s pictures.

The first thing that struck me, after the sheer size of the pieces (and apparently, these are the small ones!) was the colour.  Bold swathes of bright, almost neon colour used sparingly make the paintings vibrant and alive.

The second thing was the powerful wave of emotion and energy coming from the pictures – there were some incredibly strong feelings being portrayed.    I was struck by how much emotion can be conveyed merely by the tilt of the head.

Thirdly, I enjoyed looking at each picture and seeing how it was constructed.  There were two main genres on display – some of the paintings had elaborate collaged backgrounds using fabrics, images and text.   Figures (human and animal) are sketched boldly and then painted sparingly over the top.    The second genre had plainer backgrounds and were matte rather than glossed.    I liked both, although the latter would be easier on the eye in your living room!

What I loved most was the unfinished nature of most of the pictures.  Bare canvas, unpainted parts of the sketch, negative space picked out but not elaborated on.  Each picture was painted just the right exent to make the point and then left well alone.  I think knowing when to stop requires great bravery!

I asked Stephan about this and he explained how he built up a picture, always questioning when he had enhanced the subject enough and when it was time to leave the background less developed.    It was lovely to meet him and be able to discuss the power of painting emotions.

The figures in Stephan’s paintings are often in unusual poses, like the provocative “Red Bridge” or the beautiful “Four Wheels” or “Flying” – the shade of blue in the last two was particularly mesmerising.    Our favourite was probably the candid street scene called “Venice”  where the main character (the only one painted in entirety) is looking out of the painting right at the viewer in a posture that could be interpreted as confident or challenging.  The colours  (lime green, blue and white) are particularly vibrant.

The paintings did everything I want from art – they are visually stunning, aesthetically interesting, intriguing and thought provoking and above all filled with powerful emotions.   I just wish we had a wall large enough!

This is the first preview evening I have been able to attend at Jack House and I wish I had done so sooner, they have an interesting range of exhibitions and artists there.

The exhibition runs until 28th November.   Jack House Gallery is on the High Street, Old Portsmouth.

Jack House Gallery website:  www.jackhousegallery.co.uk/index/#/stephan-geisler/ (pictures of all the paintings I’ve mentioned).

Stephans Facebook page: www.facebook.com/stephangeisler.art