The illusion of perfection
Williams, E. (2019). [online] Eprints.utas.edu.au. Available at: https://eprints.utas.edu.au/12958/1/Williams_thesis.pdf [Accessed 26 Feb. 2019].
The illustration of perfection.
the idea of undressing layers – the use of latex could be interesting, to perceive different body shapes. Or I could show videos of people peeling back layers of latex on their skin to symbolise taking away the imperfections of their body – linking to body confidence and media coverage of the body shape.
I think that this is a question that would be good to pose to the viewers, I could do an interactional piece to gain people’s opinions. For example, I could draw 6-10 pictures depicting perfections and then get people to vote and comment of which one they think is the most “perfect” and why. Drawings could consist of geometric drawings, simplistic line drawings, abstract painting etc.
I could use the data collected to produce pieces of work based on the winning theme therefore I would be creating in the public’s view perfect art.
I love Egon Schiele, I think that they are sensual and inviting but not vulgar. Schiele for me creates portraits that encapsulate the perfect balance of raw emotion and idyllic perception. He allows the viewer to see the real personality and struggles of the individual, while still keeping the depiction beautiful.
like this idea of the instillation and using use of all body types, the freedom of using all body types but the juxtaposition of regimenting them like they are not free to move I find interesting.
the exploration of the process to reaching perfection
exploring the process for creating perfection, therefore the use of repetition in order create the perfect outcome.
Going to look into repetition of drawings.
Also look into the perfect line – to me simplicity is perfect – therefore line drawings would be fitting, e.g. creating a page of continuous line drawings till I find the perfect one, I could also make this a time thing, record the process of me making it and seeing how long it takes me to reach the perfection.
Perfection is interpreted differently by different people therefore I could use this as a type of process, the physical interpretation of perfection from one person to another.
This could turn into a semi performance piece one person is drawing/writing their perception of perfection on another person’s back and that person then has to try and translate what they are doing onto paper. The outcome being the whole process not just the art on the paper.
Lovatt, A. (2019). Ideas in Transmission: LeWitt’s Wall Drawings and the Question of Medium – Tate Papers | Tate. [online] Tate. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/research/publications/tate-papers/14/ideas-in-transmission-lewitt-wall-drawings-and-the-question-of-medium [Accessed 26 Feb. 2019].
This article considers Sol LeWitt’s wall drawings as artworks poised on the cusp of the ‘post-medium condition’ of installation art. While the wall drawings are site-specific, they eschew the spectacular, immersive effects of subsequent multi-media installation art. They also adhere to the practice of drawing at the precise moment when conventional, medium-based categories were under attack. It is argued that LeWitt’s wall drawings refuted the modernist conception of ‘the medium’ as an autonomous entity, foregrounding instead its relational and communicative potential.
Straine, S. (2019). ‘Wall Drawing #1136’, Sol LeWitt, 2004 | Tate. [online] Tate. Available at: https://www.tate.org.uk/art/artworks/lewitt-wall-drawing-1136-ar00165 [Accessed 26 Feb. 2019].
Wall Drawing #1136 is a colourful and lively acrylic paint installation by the American conceptual artist Sol LeWitt, and an example of the artist’s long-term commitment to wall drawing as a central component of his artistic practice. The work is composed of both curved and straight solid bands of colour that are painted directly onto the surface of a wall using every primary (red, yellow, blue) and secondary (green, orange, purple) colour plus grey. The curve, made up of nine interlocking bands in these seven colours (there are two bands each of red and green), snakes along the wall, touching the top and bottom of the wall at various points. The same seven colours reappear, in an irregular sequence, as vertical bands that serve as a background pattern for the curve. Every band in the wall drawing is of the same width and there is no area left empty of colour. With the exception of his very first wall drawing exhibited at the Paula Cooper Gallery in New York in 1968, the artist did not execute the wall drawings himself; rather, he employed draughtsmen or assistants to carry out specific instructions to copy and enlarge his diagram of the drawing to the wall itself.
A letter of instruction, an installation diagram and a certificate pertaining to Wall Drawing #1136 can be found in Tate Gallery Records (PC10.1 LeWitt, Sol). These documents are in a format consistent with all wall drawings issued by the Sol LeWitt Studio prior to the artist’s death in 2007. Wall Drawing #1136 was first installed at the Fraenkel Gallery in San Francisco, California in September 2004 and was drawn by Marta Ayala, Sachiko Cho, Matt DeJong, Amanda Eicher, Melissa Levin, Amy Rathbone, Rick Salas and Paul Wackers. This information, along with a description of the work, is detailed in the wall drawing certificate, which is authenticated and signed by the artist. The accompanying letter, from the Sol LeWitt Studio Manager Susanna Singer, states: ‘Please be advised that the documents are the signature for the Wall Drawing and must accompany the Wall Drawing if it is sold or otherwise transferred. They represent the transfer of ownership from the artist to you … Under no circumstances will we issue a new certificate!’ (Tate Gallery Records PC10.1 LeWitt, Sol.)
The diagram is a small colour inkjet print that lays out the pattern of the wall drawing in one continuous elongated horizontal band, and is accompanied by a statement that reads: ‘This is a diagram for the Sol LeWitt wall drawing number 1136. It should accompany the certificate if the wall drawing is sold or otherwise transferred but is not a certificate or drawing’ (Tate Gallery Records PC10.1 LeWitt, Sol). This emphasises the importance of the finished artwork to the fundamental meaning of the conceptual idea. As the artist clarified in a 1971 article for Art Now: ‘The plan exists as an idea but needs to be put into its optimum form. Ideas of wall drawings alone are contradictions of the idea of wall drawings.’ (Quoted in Zevi 1995, p.96.)
Wall Drawing #1136 can be installed, removed, and then reinstalled in another location, as many times as required for exhibition purposes. As such, there can also be periods of time in which the work does not exist in physical form. The curator John S. Weber explains that: ‘As conceptual ideas that can be drawn, painted over, and redrawn by others, the wall drawings reengineer the fundamental nature of art in ways that favour a new degree of public access … The wall drawing’s very nature is collaborative and participatory ... They are conceived to accommodate their forms to different architectural situations and sites.’ (Quoted in Garrels 2000, p.98.) At the Fraenkel Gallery exhibition in 2004, Wall Drawing #1136 was installed on three walls of eleven feet high, with lengths of seventeen, thirty-six and seventeen feet respectively. When transferred to another location, the number of walls can change only by ensuring that the proportions of the original diagram are retained. In 1970, the artist stated: ‘When large walls are used the viewer would see the drawings in sections sequentially, and not the wall as a whole.’ (Quoted in Zevi 1995, p.91.) The composition of Wall Drawing #1136 is especially suited to the viewer’s gradual, meandering enjoyment of the drawing as it spreads across a number of interconnecting walls.
The artist’s first wall drawings of the 1960s were wholly monochromatic. In 1975 LeWitt introduced coloured grounds to his wall drawings and in 1983 he began to employ colour ink washes. The writer and curator Brenda Richardson has considered a subsequent shift in the nature of the wall drawings, significant to Wall Drawing #1136 and all the works of the 1990s and 2000s:
In the 1990s LeWitt began to favour acrylic as the primary medium for his wall drawings. It was the first new medium … to alter the fundamental aesthetic course of the wall drawings. By adding acrylic to his regular inventory of materials, he began working on walls in what is technically a painting medium. Pencil, crayon, chalk, and ink – the materials used by LeWitt for his wall drawings since 1968 – are traditionally identified as drawing media. LeWitt continued to use the term ‘wall drawings’ for this body of work, regardless of the medium in which the work is executed.
(Quoted in Garrels 2000, p.45.)
This sense of continuity highlights the importance of drawing as a conceptual, rather than strictly material practice for LeWitt. The introduction of acrylic paint into the wall drawings opens up their strict set of rules and procedures to vibrant ranges of colours and bold, graphic shapes – and even more traditional painterly concerns. The artist Ellen Carey has considered this particular facet in a related work, Wall Drawing 1131: Whirls and twirls (Wadsworth) 2004 (Wadsworth Atheneum, Hartford, Connecticut), which shares the same colour scheme as Wall Drawing #1136. She writes: ‘The rainbow’s colours – red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet – are formed when the sun’s rays are reflected and refracted by drops of rain and mist. Forming the basis for LeWitt’s work, this palette acts as a connection between his affinities for nature in general and this phenomenon specifically.’ (Quoted in Cross and Markonish 2009, p.25.) The curve in Wall Drawing #1136 can indeed be read as a series of rainbow arcs joined in progression, blurring the boundaries between abstraction and representation. A comment made by LeWitt in the early 1980s hints at his awareness of the increasingly colourful and exuberant nature of his wall drawings: ‘When represented with the scale that walls have one must begin to engage their physical properties. The theatrical and decorative are unavoidable and should be used to emphasize the work.’ (Quoted in Zevi 1995, p.104.)
his art like this gave me inspiration for questions such as what is perfect, is the perfect line perfection? This also links in with the exploration of repetition in order to reach perfection.
Anni Albers (1899 - 1994), born in Berlin, Germany, was one of the most influential textile artists of the twentieth century. Admired for her pioneering wall hangings and textiles, Albers was also a prolific printmaker.
She was admitted to the Bauhaus in 1922. Having been refused entry to the Painting Workshop, on the grounds that she was a woman, she turned to textiles, deemed to be 'women's work'. In the Weaving Workshop she received tutelage from Paul Klee, among others, and approached the discipline with relentless investigation, regularly incorporating non-traditional materials into her compositions. She remained a key member of the workshop, becoming an acting director, until the Bauhaus was forced to close in 1933. The following year Albers and her husband, Josef, moved to the USA to teach at Black Mountain College, Connecticut.
In 1963, whilst visiting Taramind Lithography Workshop, California, Anni turned her hand to printmaking and continued to work primarily in this medium until her death in 1994. Throughout the last 20 years of her life, she collaborated with some of the leading printers of the era, experimenting with lithography, screenprinting, embossing, woodcut and various intaglio techniques.
Her influence has been vast. Through her work,
teaching and writing, she has inspired and guided a large number of artists in directions that have now become part of the mainstream. In 1949, Albers became the first weaver to have a one-person show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the exhibition travelled to 26 venues throughout the United States and Canada. She was honoured with several more major exhibitions during her lifetime, and a touring retrospective on the 100th anniversary of her birth in 1999.
Recent retrospectives include Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf (2018), which will travel to Tate Modern in Autumn 2018, and Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain (2017). In 1965, Anni's seminal text, On Weaving, was published, remaining in print for two decades before being re-issued as a paperback in 2003.
Anni Albers died aged 94 in 1994, in Connecticut, USA.
Alan Cristea Gallery is the exclusive worldwide representative for the prints from the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation.
The Alan Cristea Gallery will present Connections: 1963 - 1984, a major retrospective of Anni Albers’ (1899 - 1994) prints, from
1 October - 10 November 2018. The exhibition, accompanied by unseen archival material, coincides with the Tate Modern’s first comprehensive survey of Albers’ textile works, from 11 October 2018 - 27 January 2019; together these exhibitions will shed new light on a too often overlooked artist, and fully explore Albers’ contribution to twentieth century art, architecture and design.Connections: 1963 - 1984, organised in conjunction with the Josef and Anni Albers Foundation, includes the first prints Albers ever made in 1963, all the way through to examples made at the very end of her working life, some 25 years later.
Admired for her pioneering wall hangings and textiles works, Albers was also a prolific printmaker. First turning her attention to the medium in her mid-60s, she quickly started to use printmaking techniques to achieve results not possible in any other medium. By 1970, declaring she had no space left for her looms, Albers gave up weaving and devoted herself entirely to printmaking.
Born in Berlin in 1899, Albers was admitted to the Bauhaus in 1922. Having been refused entry to the Painting Workshop, on the grounds that she was a woman, she turned to textiles, deemed as ‘women’s work’. In the Weaving Workshop she received tutorage from Paul Klee, among others, and approached the discipline with relentless investigation, regularly incorporating non-traditional materials into her compositions. She remained a key member of
Press Release July 2018
Gemma Colgan firstname.lastname@example.org +44 (0)20 7439 1866
the workshop, becoming an acting director, until the Bauhaus was forced to close in 1932. The following year Albers and her hus- band, Josef, moved to the USA to teach at Black Mountain College, Connecticut, counting Robert Rauschenberg, Cy Twombly and John Cage amongst their students.
It was in 1963 whilst visiting Taramind Lithography Workshop, Cal- ifornia, that Albers first turned her hand to printmaking. Enmeshed I and Enmeshed II, 1963, illustrate her exploration of organic forms that broke away from the formal horizontal and vertical structures required by weaving. The following year she was invited back to Taramind as a fellow, and produced her first portfolio of prints, a suite of seven lithographs entitled Line Involvements. As her graph- ic work progressed Albers created designs of a more geometric style, often making use of layering and rotation, a subtle combi- nation of techniques to create optically challenging, sometimes mesmerizing, works on paper.
Albers was fascinated by Mexico, first visiting in the winter of 1935-36, and returning another 13 times by the late 1960s. Her Meander prints of 1970 were based on a single weaving inspired by forms used in ancient Mexican art. Pushing the boundaries of her printmaking practice, the paper went through a screen printing press four times, the colour becoming deeper and richer each time it was printed over. Throughout the last 20 years of her life, she collaborated with some of the leading printers of the era, experi- menting with lithography, screenprinting, embossing, woodcut and various intaglio techniques.
In 1985, Albers claimed that it was her prints that finally brought her recognition, “I find that, when the work is made with threads, it’s considered a craft, when it’s on paper, it’s considered art.”
Albers influence has been vast. Through her work, teaching and writing, she has inspired and guided a large number of artists in directions that have now become part of the mainstream. In 1949, Albers became the first weaver to have a one-person show at the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the exhibition Anni Albers: Textiles travelled to 26 venues throughout the United States and Canada. She was honoured with several more major exhibitions dur ing her lifetime, and a touring retrospective exhibition on the 100th anniversary of her birth in 1999.
More recently the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, Spain, presented a major exhibition of her work in 2017 and the Tate Modern exhibition will travel from Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf, where the retrospective is on view from June - Septem- ber 2018. In 1965 Anni’s seminal text On Weaving was published, remaining in print for two decades before being re-issued as a paperback in 2003.
“I’ve got an obsession with death … But I think it’s like a celebration of life rather than something morbid.”
The first ‘Kaleidoscope’ painting, ‘It’s a Wonderful World’, was created in 2001. Originally inspired by a Victorian tea tray found by Hirst, the works are made by placing thousands of different coloured butterfly wings in intricate geometric patterns into household paint.
Works from the ‘Kaleidoscope’ series were first exhibited as part of ‘Romance in the Age of Uncertainty’ at White Cube, London, in 2003. In 2007, Hirst presented a major
series of the paintings in the solo show, ‘Superstition’, at Gagosian Gallery, London Davies Street and Beverley Hills.
The ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings reference the spiritual symbolism of the butterfly, used by the Greeks to depict Psyche, the soul, and in Christian imagery to signify the resurrection. The works are reminiscent of, and even sometimes directly copy stained glass windows (‘South Rose Window, Lincoln Cathedral’ (2007)). Their titles similarly often reference Christian iconography, and Hirst chose to name a collection of paintings in 2008 after entries in The Book of Psalms.
Whilst the butterfly is one of Hirst’s most enduring “universal triggers”, in the ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings he differs from his use of it in earlier works. Previously, the inclusion of live butterflies, as in the installation ‘In and Out of Love’ (1991), or whole dead ones in the butterfly monochrome paintings, was partially an exploration of “the way the real butterfly can destroy the ideal (birthday-card) kind of love; the symbol exists apart from the real thing.” Recalling someone once saying to him: “Butterflies are beautiful, but it’s a shame they have disgusting hairy bodies in the middle,” Hirst chose to use only the iridescent wings in the ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings, divorcing the butterflies from “the real thing”. Titles such as ‘The Most Beautiful Thing in The World’ (2003) reflect the idealised beauty they encapsulate.
The two largest ‘Kaleidoscope’ paintings, ‘Enlightenment’ (2008) and ‘I Am Become Death, Shatterer of Worlds
Alone Yet Together
914 x 1219 x 102 mm | 36 x 48 x 4 in
Glass, painted MDF, ramin, acrylic, fish and formaldehyde
2432 x 2432 x 132 mm | 95.8 x 95.8 x 5.3 in
Glass, stainless steel, steel, aluminium, nickel, Plastazote and entomological specimens
Sarah Morris is a contemporary American painter. Influenced by Pop, Minimalism, Conceptual Art, and architecture, her paintings feature hard-edge geometric abstraction that explores the physicality and psychology of cities. Often working in large-scale, Morris’ distinctive aesthetic is characterized by sharp white outlines filled with muted pastel tones. In tandem with her two-dimensional works, Morris is also an accomplished filmmaker, creating politically charged films that when coupled with her paintings offer, in her words, “two sides of the same coin.” Born in Sevenoaks, England on June 20, 1967, she went on to study at Cambridge and Brown Universities before attending the Whitney Independent Study Program. Her work has gained widespread critical acclaim, with Morris receiving a Joan Mitchell Foundation grant in 2001 and a fellowship at the American Academy in Berlin in 1999. She has held solo exhibitions at such institutions as the Palais de Tokyo in Paris in 2005, and the Museo d’Arte Moderna di Bologna in 2009. Morris lives and works in New York City.
JANUARY 11 - FEBRUARY 17, 2018
Berggruen Gallery is pleased to present an exhibition of new paintings, drawings, and a recent film entitled “Finite and Infinite Games’’ (2017) by American painter and filmmaker Sarah Morris, on view January 11 – February 17, 2018. This exhibition marks the artist’s first solo show on the West Coast. The gallery will host a reception for the artist on Thursday, January 11 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.
Morris is widely recognized for her large-scale, graphic paintings and drawings that respond to the social, political, and economic force of the urban landscape through a visual language grounded in bold and ambitious abstraction. Her probing of the contemporary city inspires a consideration of the architectural and artistic climate of modernity and humanity’s footprint—a subject that Morris energizes and invigorates through a distinct use of geometry, scale, and color. Her work straddles the boundary between abstract and representational. Systems and structures of power emerge from Morris’s perceptions of her urban surroundings—Hamburg, Rio de Janeiro, New York, Los Angeles, Beijing—cities of persistent physical and cultural transformation. As she proposes, navigating the modern world involves transgressing spaces of private authority—a persistent line of inquiry that runs throughout her body of work.
Using glossy house paint, Morris captures the vibrant and energetic nature of the modern city through her continual exploration of bright, lively colors and stirring geometric patterns. In this show, an underlying pulse exists throughout the artist’s paintings, as she explores visual embodiments of sound waves, sound graphs, and digitized movements through two-dimensional picture planes. Asymmetrical grids form futuristic compositions of sharply delineated shapes separated by rigid borders and acute transitions between colors. The grid-like quality of her work evokes city plans, architectural structures (including a staircase designed by Paul Rudolph), tectonic plates, or industrial machinery. Paring down structures of power to their formal elements, Morris’s work acts as a catalyst for creative exchange between art and architecture while simultaneously exploring the socio-political landscape of modernity and its rigid systems of power and control as well their failures. Her inspirations range from Oscar Niemayer and Joan Didion to lunar cycles and birdcages—a unique blend of creative voices and forces of nature.
This exhibition also includes one of Morris’s recent films, “Finite and Infinite Games” (2017). Featuring German theorist, writer, and filmmaker Alexander Kluge, Morris’s film uses the Elbphilharmonie as a site to navigate an individual’s space, history, and narrative. Interweaving the voice of Kluge, the text of James P. Carse, and Morris’s own voice, “Finite and Infinite Games” proposes a dialogue between Morris and Kluge, freedom and finitude, rules and possibilities. The inclusion of the artist’s film reflects Morris’s notion of her painting and cinematography as inherently connected, synchronously forming a dynamic body of work encompassing a variety of media. Through her films, Morris continues to explore the psychology of a place and the systems and structures of control that are embedded throughout its physical and cultural environment. As she enters spaces that appear withheld from artistic intervention, Morris captures the complex and contradictory nature of the modern city and humanity’s footprint, revealing the central role of art as a nexus of time, civilization, and place.
Sarah Morris was born in Kent, England in 1967. She earned a B.A. from Brown University in 1989. Morris also studied at Cambridge University in 1988 and participated in the Whitney Independent Study Program from 1985 to 1989. Her work belongs to numerous museum collections including the Pompidou Centre, Paris; the Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas; the Louis Vuitton Foundation, Paris; the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; the Museum of Modern Art, New York; the Tate Modern, London; the Yale Center for British Art, New Haven; and the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. Morris was the recipient of the Philip Morris Award from the American Academy in 1999, and she also earned the prestigious Joan Mitchell Painting Award in 2001. Morris lives and works in New York.
Sarah Morris, January 11 – February 17, 2018. On view at 10 Hawthorne Street, San Francisco, CA 94105. Images and preview are available upon request. For all inquiries, please contact the gallery by phone (415) 781-4629 or by email email@example.com.
Texts by Max Henry, Anna Kats, and Julie Ryan. Conversation with the artist by Benedikt Ledebur. Sonnets by Benedikt Ledebur
With a large body of work mainly comprising mixed-media paintings, Tamuna Sirbiladze was known for her distinctive style, which continually forged new terms between dichotomous relationships. Abstract and figurative, playful and serious, energetic and quiet, vibrant and muted, Sirbiladze’s work is characterized by both its intensity and flexibility.
Known for the speed at which she worked, there is a quality of immediacy in her paintings, as if they provide direct access to her imagination. This primacy is perhaps most evident in her gestural, improvisatory paintings made with oil sticks on unstretched, raw canvas, which purposely retain the appearance of being unfinished. “As an artist,” Sirbiladze writes, “I don’t want to control what the representation will be seen as.” This catalogue presents a careful selection of these oil stick works along with her other paintings—including her celebrated V Collection (2012), which was made in dialogue with iconic works by Caravaggio, Giotto, Raphael, and Velazquez, as well as her later paintings focused on women’s bodies in intimate, underrepresented scenes, Sirbiladze’s response to male dominance in the art world.
With contributions by Max Henry, Anna Kats, and Julie Ryan, as well as a conversation with the artist and an arrangement of fifteen sonnets by her partner, Benedikt Ledebur, this publication provides a comprehensive survey of Sirbiladze’s works and practice.
Exhibition visit – David Zwirney gallery Mayfair visited - march 2nd2019
Expressive art, revolving around the use of line and the female figure and the natural beauty of flowers.
Long brush strokes show a freedom in her style, could use inspiration from this as freedom was one of the key words people said when I asked them to summarise “perfection”. Could use this veracious style in my pattern work or when depicting the human from, or even use this style on the human form.
Tamuna SirbiladzePress Release
February 21—April 5, 2019
David Zwirner is pleased to present an exhibition of paintings by Tamuna Sirbiladze (1971–2016) in The Upper Room at the gallery’s London location. Including works from throughout her career, this exhibition will offer an illuminating overview of Sirbiladze’s singular and vital oeuvre.
Born in Tbilisi, Georgia, Sirbiladze attended the country’s State Academy of Arts before continuing her studies at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna and the Slade School of Fine Art in London. Informed equally by the traditional underpinnings of her early education in the Soviet republic and the liberalism of her later training, her works are characterised by a bold treatment of form and light and an iconoclastic approach to style and subject matter. Most of the artist’s canvases oscillate between abstraction and figuration, with brisk strokes ripe with expressive and symbolic meaning.
Sirbiladze was deeply engaged with the representation of women in the history of art, both as subjects and as artists themselves. Although the female body often appears to be in a state of distress in her work, or occupying a variety of vulnerable and ambiguous poses, she insisted that she painted ‘light and joyful [women], full of zest for life and fun.’1 Her unapologetic approach became fashioned as a kind of revenge aimed at a male-dominated canon and a distancing from the autobiographical tendency of some women artists.
Part of a series of square-format, two-by-two-meter paintings begun in the mid-2000s, Flavonal (2003) is a prime example of Sirbiladze’s allover, animated compositions. A female figure—discernible primarily by her long black hair—merges with a plethora of indeterminate forms in green, red, violet, pink, and orange hues. A sense of intense movement is suggested by the layered paint and frequent drips as well as by the sway of the hair, while the repeated spelling of ‘koks’ at the bottom suggests a state of intoxication. A barely discernible body appears again next to a syringe in Tryangel (2007), in which a more serene palette informs an introspective mood. In Matisse (2012), a woman’s back occupies the centre of a boldly coloured composition, at once evoking and suspending the shapes of Henri Matisse’s iconic, stylised bathers. As if to emphasise the immediacy of these works, Sirbiladze occasionally leant them, one against the other, in a freestanding sculptural formation directly on the floor, implying that visitors could flip through them like posters in a shop.
Andy’s Hair (2014) belongs to Sirbiladze’s series of flower paintings, started in the early 2010s. Carrying over the joyful assertiveness of her depictions of women, these works were inspired by Andy Warhol’s Polaroid self-portraits and posit lighthearted visual comparisons between the blossoming flower heads and the pop artist’s mane. Their often thick layers of paint offer traces of previous compositions and contrast with another group of paintings made around the same time by applying oil stick to unprimed, unstretched canvas. In these works, several of which are on view, Sirbiladze employed rapid, bold gestures, often moving swiftly from one composition to another in the process. Shapes emerged spontaneously, offering a mix of abstract and figurative motifs. Many are directly inspired by modernist still lifes—M Vase (Matisse Vase)(2015), for example, again revisits Matisse, depicting a classic vase, while Pomegranate (2015) evokes Sirbiladze’s native Georgia through the symbol of its national fruit; yet, others take their departure in children’s illustrations. Emphasising the mimetic plasticity of her works, Sirbiladze proposed that they ‘can be seen in the attitude of "bad painting," but only as one aspect. At the same time, the colors are very light, with an impressionistic cheerfulness. . . . My pictures should be flexible.’2
1Tamuna Sirbiladze, ‘When It Comes to the Point, What I’m Doing Now Is Almost Something Like Revenge . . . : Benedikt Ledebur in Conversation with Tamuna Sirbiladze’, in Tamuna Sirbiladze.Exh. cat. (New York: David Zwirner Books, 2017), p. 10.
2 Ibid., p. 11.
Comprising painting as well as video, drawing, and collage, Tamuna Sirbiladze’s (1971–2016) work has been presented in solo and group exhibitions across Europe since the late 1990s. She frequently collaborated with other artists, including her late husband Franz West. She had her first solo presentation in New York in 2015, and several of her paintings were included in the group show No Man’s Land: Women Artists from the Rubell Family Collection, which opened at the Rubell Family Collection in Miami in 2015 and travelled to the National Museum of Women in the Arts, Washington, DC, closing in 2017.
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Image: Tamuna Sirbiladze in her studio, 2012. Image courtesy Benedikt Ledebur.
Pattern as a process rather than an outcome.
Pattern as a process rather than an outcome.
If you use a rhythmical or repetitive method of producing a piece of art can that count as creating a form of pattern. Does this also work for the use of colour, if you repeatedly use the same colours thought out your piece does this count as creating a pattern too?
I want to explore the ways of creating a pattern by using the key words that define what a pattern is rather than just going the visuals of the outcome.
Joan Mitchell is known for the compositional rhythms, bold coloration, and sweeping gestural brushstrokes of her large and often multi-paneled paintings. Inspired by landscape, nature, and poetry, her intent was not to create a recognizable image, but to convey emotions. Mitchell's early success in the 1950s was striking at a time when few women artists were recognized. She referred to herself as the "last Abstract Expressionist," and she continued to create abstract paintings until her death in 1992.
Inspired by the gestural painting of Willem de Kooning and Franz Kline, Joan Mitchell's mature work comprised a highly abstract, richly colored, calligraphic manner, which balanced elements of structured composition with a mood of wild improvisation.
Mitchell rejected the emphasis on flatness and the "all-over" approach to composition that were prevalent among many of the leading Abstract Expressionists. Instead, she preferred to retain a more traditional sense of figure and ground in her pictures, and she often composed them in ways that evoked impressions of landscape.
Mitchell's abrasive personality has been a key factor in interpretations of her painting, which critics often read as expressions of rage and violence. Yet, almost as often, they have seen lyricism in her work.
Joan Mitchell, Royal Botanic Garden, Edinburgh
- Reviewed by Laura McLean-Ferris
- Friday 10 September 2010 00:00
As the browning petals begin to drop from the flowers in Edinburgh's Royal Botanic Garden, and summer comes to a close, there is no better exhibition to see than the one of paintings by the late Joan Mitchell at Inverleith House in the Garden grounds. Mitchell, who died in 1992, was a late member of the "New York School" of painting, and her paintings are bright concoctions of watery drips and stains with thick brushstrokes, exquisitely composed amalgams of composure and excitement. For such a major figure in abstract painting it is astounding that this is Mitchell's first exhibition in a UK public gallery, but this perhaps has something to do with the fact that she moved to France in 1959, able to continue her abstract painting in the company of Europe's long painting history, but without the constant hype of New York.
The colours and sensations evoked by her paintings often remind one of nature – of flowers, trees and landscapes – although any figurative elements swim in and out of focus. They are more akin to the sensory experience of looking at nature, rather than a representation of it. Sometimes, it seems that those flowers and trees are a gateway to something else. First Cypress (1964) is a dark mass of green oil paint, the shade of the darkest pine needles or wine bottles, almost black. While one side of the canvas is covered in lighter brushstrokes, encompassing elements of cream, custard and emerald, like a glimpse through leaves, for the most part the canvas is a curiously intimidating flat mass of dark green, appearing like a hole or a blockage. Garden Party (1961-62) is a mix of peachier shades and thicker brushstrokes, fading into a background of watered-down colours of pale blue, pink and grey, which almost stain the canvas, calling to mind other American artists such as Helen Frankenthaler and Morris Louis. Untitled (1968-69) is more expressionistic – a blaze of vivid colour seems to swarm above a dark blue vase shape, as though it could be a bouquet captured at its most vivid moment, trying its hardest to live.
The painter Brice Marden once said of Mitchell that "she could make yellow heavy", and there's certainly a heavy yellow or two in this exhibition, most notably in Cypress (Diptych) (1980). A huge field of golden yellow colour spread over two canvases accompanied by a sprinkling of violet, this painting seems to evoke a final full bloom of summer before darkness falls. Some black shapes near the centre blot the landscape – figures, trees, blind spots, or just a resting spot for the eye. This exhibition is a perfect match of location, artist and space. As light softly billows in from the gardens outside, the colours of Mitchell's paintings almost appear to bounce around the space, occasionally drawing you to the large windows. The bright green on a certain painting is mirrored in the grass outside, while an occasional bright hue is picked out in one of the exotic flowers in the botanic gardens. You'll most certainly, after this triumph, see a larger, more comprehensive exhibition of Joan Mitchell elsewhere in Britain in the coming years. Whether you'll ever see one in such an ideally suited location, as nature knocks in at the windows, remains in doubt.
To 3 October (www.rbge.org.uk)
City Landscape (1955)
Artwork description & Analysis: Informed by an urban energy, City Landscape is an iconic example of Mitchell's early work. The tension between the horizontal brushstrokes of vibrant color in the center with the surrounding whites exemplifies her use of the figure-ground relationship. The work also demonstrates her debt to Philip Guston, whose Abstract Expressionist work was often likened to Impressionism.
Process became a widespread preoccupation of artists in the late 1960s and the 1970s, but like so much else can be tracked back to the abstract expressionist paintings of Jackson Pollock. In these the successive layers of dripped and poured paint can be identified and the actions of the artist in making the work can be to some extent reconstructed. The later colour field paintings of Morris Louis clearly reveal his process of pouring the paint onto the canvas.
In process art too there is an emphasis on the results on particular materials of carrying out the process determined by the artist. In Louis again, the forms are the result of the interaction of artist’s action, the type and viscosity of the paint, and the type and absorbency of the canvas. Richard Serra made work by throwing molten lead into the corners of a room. Robert Morris made long cuts into lengths of felt and then hung them on a nail or placed them on the floor, allowing them to take on whatever configurations were dictated by the interaction of the innate properties of the felt, the artist’s action and gravity.
The British painter Bernard Cohen made paintings by establishing a set process for the work and then carrying it through until the canvas was full. John Hilliard’s photographic work Camera Recording its Own Condition of 1971 is a particularly pure example of process art, as is Michael Craig-Martin’s 4 Complete Clipboard Sets.
Could incorporate his style into performance art and action act – the way that he has the colours streaming you could create that with using the body like it were a paint brush.
Morris Louis became one of the leading figures of Color Field painting, along with his contemporaries Kenneth Noland and Helen Frankenthaler. In his short yet prolific career, most of which he spent in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Louis continually experimented with method and medium, manipulating large canvases in creative ways to control the flow and stain of his acrylic paints. His mature style, characterized by layered veils and rivulets of poured acrylic paint on untreated canvases, makes his paintings some of the most iconic works of Color Field Painting.
In addition to using thinned acrylic paint to stain the weave of his canvas, as colleagues like Helen Frankenthaler and Jules Olitski also did, Louis went so far as to manipulate the canvas itself, folding and bending it to shape the flow of the paint. This innovation allowed him to eliminate his own touch upon the canvas, while still giving him a way to emphasize his medium's inherent fluidity and saturated colors.
Louis's paintings of the 1950s established a vital link between Abstract Expressionism and Color Field Painting. He rejected the gestural abstraction of action painters like Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline, while also placing more emphasis on tonal relations and free-flowing color.
Rather than live in New York City as many of his contemporaries did, Louis based his career in his native Maryland and nearby Washington, D.C. In this way he expanded the geographical boundaries of the contemporary art world in America and brought attention to an offshoot of Color Field Painting later termed the Washington Color School.
About Now: Paintings and Prints 2000 - 2015
LONDON Kingsland Road
16 Oct – 21 Nov 2015
82 Kingsland Road
London E2 8DP
T:+44 (0)20 7920 7777
I will not begin the painting until something I have never seen or considered before comes into my mind’s eye, and then I will focus on it and the means I shall use to bring it to life on the canvas. – Bernard Cohen
Flowers Gallery is pleased to present a survey of works produced over the past fifteen years by Bernard Cohen. About Now: Paintings and Prints 2000-2015traces the continued progression of Cohen’s complex pictorial language, in which densely interwoven lattices of line, shape, pattern and colour are explored as a way of processing and recording experience.
The exhibition is accompanied by an extensive catalogue About Now written by Ian McKay, drawing attention to enduring and, in some cases, overlooked themes present throughout the artist’s work.
Cohen’s paintings take their starting point from simple underlying structural compositions, which divide the canvas into distinct linear pathways and segments, such as crossed bars or architectural elevations. Superimposing intricate networks of lines, dots and planes of colour, with recurring figurative motifs such as doors, windows, aeroplanes, railway tracks and fragments of the human form, Cohen creates dizzying arrangements, within which an internal sense of order is revealed to the viewer gradually over time.
In the painting entitled Reflexus I, 2002, lines are warped and fluid, forming organic matrices which fold in and back on themselves. Cohen describes the painting, whose title comes from the Latin, meaning ‘a bending back’, as “a looking back, turning back, going back and seeing, through what has been, to what went before.” This sense of ‘looking back’ also appears in paintings such as In Black and White Time, 2004, in which an octagonal aperture or window provides a view of a preserved and unembellished first layer of paint. As Ian McKay proposes, the dense spatial complexity of Cohen’s work causes time and memory to become conflated: “In the sensory overload of the moment that we first encounter such a Cohen painting, time shifts, becomes elastic as it were, as we grasp a simultaneous multiplicity of spatio-temporal possibilities.”
According to Cohen, his paintings can be seen to contain multiple paintings within their composition, held together by an overall organizing principle of rhythm. The painting Pictures at an Exhibition, 2003, takes its title from Mussorgsky’s piano suite of the same name, in which the music follows the progress of a viewer around a gallery. Mussorgsky represented the viewer’s experience of each artwork by variations of key, mood and tempo; similarly within Cohen’s painting, the nuances of colour and line in each layer alter the flow and tonal balance of the whole.
The works presented in About Nowreflect an unrelenting process of discovery, and an attempt to generate and unravel the full complexity of life, which McKay describes as an “ongoing search for meaning in its broadest, most human sense.”
John Hilliard is a British artist with a conceptual approach to the use of photography, actively questioning the medium as a representational device. He challenges viewers to re-evaluate photography as a form of documentation, and to consider its vulnerability to manipulation.
Hilliard studied at St Martin’s School of art, where he first engaged with the idea of favouring the concept over the object. His practice uses multiple techniques pre and post production to distort and abstract subjects from their original state.
Hilliard has taught at Camberwell College of Art, Chelsea College of Art and the Slade School of Fine Art, in London. His first solo exhibition was at Camden Arts Centre in 1969, and a declarative use of photography as a first-order medium at that point has since become the premise on which much of his practice is based. His work is part of the collections of the Tate Gallery, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Metropolitan Museum, Tokyo; and Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris.
Really like the idea of using black and white film camera to document the processes of making the “perfect art” and then presenting the photographs through a projector.
Book = John Hilliard – editor = Uta Nusser 1999
John Hilliard – accident and design 2015
Film photography artists
Really love this artist, want to take inspiration from his use of slow shutter speed to capture performance art myself
Think I am going to take inspo too as take pics of the landscapes near me at home, in the same style and then layer or project onto perfect surfaces.
Minor White once said, “All photographs are self-portraits.” When one considers the medium from a fine art rather than utilitarian perspective, it’s hard to argue against this assertion. Despite its mechanical nature, photography not only reveals what’s in front of the camera, it inescapably alludes to the personalities of those behind it. At one extreme are photographers who make self-reflective imagery in a calculated and direct manner, using themselves as subject (Francesca Woodman is a famous example). In contrast are photographers who reveal themselves more obliquely (as White did), through choice of subject matter, visual style and use of symbolism.
Prominent among the latter category is Dutch photographer Machiel Botman, whose entire body of work, begun in the late 1970s, can be seen as an uninterrupted visual diary of self-exploration. Yet he’s no soul-baring exhibitionist; Botman is akin to writers who express more between the lines than in the lines themselves. And his autobiographical impulse is subordinate to his desire simply to make sense of his life and the lives of those around him. It’s an unhurried, unstressed process for Botman, who was born in Vogelenzang, the Netherlands, in 1955.
“The understanding of life comes after the images have been taken, when they have come to rest,” he explains. “Many times to take a photograph is a violent action; you slice an instant from its past and future. You need time to let that become meaningful, to understand what you are really looking at, and to understand how that image can become important within you. Maybe it connects to what you have done before. Maybe it shows you something you never realized.”
Botman is neither defined nor limited by genre or technique. Landscape, portraiture, still life — all are given equal weight in his photographs. If there is one constant in the work, it’s that the images always evoke dualities. They are strange yet familiar, inviting yet distant, transparent yet oblique. The surface narrative is often in doubt: a disembodied hand supporting a shard of sharp-edged glass is almost Buñuelian in its implications; freckled skin and clouded sky comprise a gently abstract, Kertész-like visual riddle in “Magda’s Shoulder.”
There is something slightly theatrical about the work, which combines dark drama, a muted playfulness and an indefinable spirituality. Yet there is nothing stagy about the gestures and expressions, the settings and scenarios. Tranquility and lyricism predominate, with a sensed emotional volatility just below the surface. Narrative interpretation is open to question, not only for viewers, but Botman as well.
“For some reason the images are never very direct,” Botman concedes. “Some have really confused me, because I slowly began to see things that were conflicting with what I had seen before. Take ‘IJke Flowers,’ which is on the cover of my book Heartbeat. The instant of photographing my five-year-old son lasted just seconds. There was no plan, it just happened, like a short silence in a storm. When I saw it I knew it was the cover image I had tried to find for more than two years.
“I began that book after my mother passed away, and in a sense it is about that too. But it is also about my boy, who was born not long before, and about my relationships with other people. At first, that image is a young boy holding out white flowers to the photographer, and to the viewer. However, because of the light and the absence of focus, something ghostly enters. Something like death, perhaps. Something very finished. Not very easy.”
Although Botman did not begin photographing seriously until adulthood, he was no stranger to the medium during childhood. He and his brother grew up in a forest; using cameras their father brought home, the boys took pictures of everything around them: friends, tree huts, birds, dogs and cats.
“White Cat,” dated 1965, is an impressive accomplishment for a 10-year-old: The composition is nicely balanced, displays good timing and boasts nice contrast and texture. It has a quality of early Japanese photography — not very sharp, not very subtle in the grays, but imbued with much feeling. While Botman concedes its attributes, he ascribes them more to luck than skill, and considers the picture a gift from a child to the man he would become.
His uniquely personal response to his subject matter derives not from any attempt to be “different” or “cutting edge,” but simply from the fact that he can only photograph people and places that mean something to him emotionally.
It all comes down to an idea of what is real or not. He says it’s not difficult for photographers to take a portrait that suggests a personal connection with their subject, but for Botman, if no such relationship exists, then the image, on some level, is false. Moreover, he never asks his subjects to pose for him.
“They know I am photographing them, but it doesn’t matter, it is almost unimportant; I’m playing. Maybe that sounds crazy, but that’s how it is. And even with objects or landscapes the better images come from playing rather than thinking things out. All I do is get close.
“This all developed in a natural way,” he adds. “Although it is not easy to put into words what that means. What may be personal to me can be something else to you. I think it is about many things, from just thinking about photography, to how one photographs (even in terms of the equipment), to how one develops and prints.
“We are at a strange point in photography, with digital printing taking over; it is not the same as when one makes one’s own prints. Being able to identify an identity in the printing brings you much closer to the photographer. It’s about touching stuff, struggling, being a human being. We are rapidly losing that, and we are also losing the knowledge of how to capture that in the darkroom. Scary stuff. All of this is to say that I like it best when a photographer’s imagination surprises me.”
The element of surprise is a key driver for Botman, who sometimes utilizes sequential imagery to reframe a familiar subject in an unfamiliar way. He also remains open to the element of chance, especially when it results in unusual perspectives. Several of his photographs, like “Horse and Church,” appear to be the result of multiple-negative printing, yet Botman says the visual overlay in such instances simply resulted from faulty film-advance in the camera. Such serendipitous accidents support his contention that he doesn’t find images, images find him.
Botman doesn’t pursue commercial work, earning his living through print and book sales, teaching bookmaking workshops, designing and editing photo books for other artists, and curating exhibitions. Learning how to sequence images for books has had a marked effect on his visual discipline and growth. He continuously arranges his photographs in book dummies, which eventually become published monographs. He considers books the best, if not only way to disseminate his work.
“Exhibitions are fine, but they are smaller moments in time; they have an end to them when we take the pictures off the wall. The after-life of a show is relatively short. And there can be a certain distance standing in front of a framed image. It’s different with a book. We keep coming back to it, so the ideas in a book meet an evolving person, and affect that person in different ways. And to hold a book in one’s hands feels more like real life to me.”
Botman’s photo books show the connections between his ongoing development as a photographer and as a person. He furthers the autobiographical associations by including written texts and drawings. His photographs pose questions we all have about our reason for being, yet they don’t presume to provide answers. They do suggest that imagination is one of the most important yet overlooked qualities to help us make sense of the human condition.
THE WORK OF MACHIEL BOTMAN
The road must be straight, lined with trees at regular intervals. A country road, which immediately reminds me of France. But it might be an entirely different place altogether, one cannot tell. The photographer must have stood on that road, with his camera aimed at the vanishing point. Although it is the middle of the day, the road disappears into pitch-black darkness. The camera must have been very unsteady, causing the tree trunks to be out of focus and vague, with tree-tops flaring out wildly and no longer resembling branches or foliage in anyway. Instead, they more resemble thick smoke creeping along the ceiling. This makes the image shimmer and roar, like a hellish fire burning.
The image described here is one of the last photos featured in the book Rainchild, which was published the year before. The book presents numerous photos made by the Dutch photographer Machiel Botman over the last years. Rainchild is a real photo book, in the sense that it contains very little text.What we get instead, are individual images that seem to be ordered extremely carefully. The well considered placement of each image on the pageand their mutual relationship creates a rhythm and a metaphoric significance, and an overall suggestive and poetic atmosphere that makes the whole farmore than the sum of its parts. As a result, it not a book containing photos, but a real photo book fitting in the tradition of photo books published in Japan in the 1960s and 1970s. Rainchild is reminiscent
of Masahisa Fukase’s Ravens, the ultimate masterpiece among post-war Japanese photo books, and the books by Eikoh Hosoe and Daido Moriyama.Similar to the above-mentioned Japanese artists, Botman does not think that photography is intended primarily as a means to register or document theworld that we live in. He does not work with clearly identifiable places, times or subjects. A photo is not necessarily good as long as it is clear, in focus, understandable. He is mostly concerned with himself, his own life, his emotional world, his relationship with and feelings for the places he holds dear and the people he loves. For him, photography is the chosen medium to investigate and express his relation with the world. It is a highly intuitive search, a quest almost, where finding the right question is more important than finding answers.
These qualities make Botman belong to a group who choose to be unclassifiable. Their work is often extremely subjective, intuitive and closely related to their own personality. For them, looking at oneself is more important than looking at the other. Sometimes this results in an obsessive treatment of certain themes, with atmosphere and feeling taking priority over beauty or technical perfection. Often the focus is not on the merit of a single image buton the total oeuvre, which has become inseparably entangled with the artist’s life. Such an oeuvre is rarely given a linear presentation. Yet this non-linear narrative based on associations is essential in Machiel Botman’s photography. This is why each image has the power to touch or move the viewer,despite the fact that they are primarily part of an ego document. Nothing is fixed or final, it’s all potential and open-ended.
Still, a photo book has a certain internal logic. Between the covers there is a first and a last page, with in between the unfolding narrative. Thesequence is for ever fixed, which implies that choices must be made. Once the book returns from the printer, it has reached its final state and can no longer be changed. When Botman was putting Rainchild together, he made endless changes, constantly moving images, changing the sequence, and requiring new dummy runs. The journey seemed more important than the ultimate goal, possibly for fear of arriving at something final and irreversible. This, after all, is directly opposed to his searching, questioning and tentative way of working.
At the same time, this is what makes his work so strong. Every individual image has tremendous visual and poetic strength. But most of the time, it remains unclear what we are looking at exactly, and where, when and why a certain photo was taken. Unlike Botman himself, we don’t really need to know this. He offers us something that we can work with ourselves. This is exactly why Botman’s work transcends the issues of the day and will preserve its magnificent potential, even for future generations. It is often the works by artists who turn away from the fads and fashions of their day and keep pursuing their own line that prove to have a very distant best before date. Without doubt, Botman is among them.
landscape photographer – Dan Holdsworth
landscape photographer – Dan Holdsworth
forms FTP – determining the lay of the land
Through the ‘Forms photographs’, Holdsworth engages with our basic optical perceptions of landscape. The ‘FTP’ of the title refers to ‘False Topographic Perception’, the scientific moniker for the convex/concave phenomena Holdsworth captures. FTP is more often associated with satellite imagery of the moon and planets. We strive to gain a better understanding of their far-flung terrains, yet our distance causes misrepresentations and misreadings to occur.
It is no coincidence that Holdsworth has identified the same anomaly through recordings of a landscape within our own world, as his extensive body of works tend to document our planet through a distinctly otherworldly lens. From the glowing, radioactive negatives of his ‘Blackout’ series to the reductive topographic casts of ‘Transmission: new remote earth views’, Holdsworth’s art is rendered of a world we feel we scientifically know; yet he presents these vistas to us in an unfamiliar fashion that lends a sense of objective detachment, leading to newly considered perspectives.
‘Forms FTP’ was aerially shot at Crater Glacier in Washington USA, a baby in geological terms that was formed after the cataclysmic eruption of Mount St. Helen’s in 1980. This glacial, transitory landscape features as a cast in the ‘Transmission’ series and echoes Holdsworth’s previous glacial series ‘Blackout’, photographed at Sólheimajökull in Iceland - a site that also unexpectedly caused eruptive chaos in 2010.
The Mount St. Helen’s volcano had previously been famed for its almost symmetrical appearance and heralded as a natural beauty spot. It has been suggested that its reputation as a tourist location and position within the US lead to a sense of Western ‘safety’ - an assumption that nothing catastrophic could occur. The unexpected eruption that followed stands as a modern example of the Kantian dynamic sublime at work, subverting our expectations even at a time when scientific understanding seems so advanced. Focusing on the topography of this primal ‘new land’ formed post eruption, Holdsworth identifies an arena of geological instability and uses it to subtly challenge our perceptions of the wider conditions of landscape.
A sense of the sublime pervades Holdsworth’s catalogue of works, his seeking out of remote locations and large-scale photographic reproductions. However, the relationship between his practice and the sublime is more complex than the Romantic 18th-century definition. Holdsworth’s works emanate a darker, more paranoid 21st-century sublime that combines the unpredictable power of nature with man’s effect upon the fine ecological balance, the awe of technological advancement and the ethics of global surveillance.
Holdsworth has described his recent works as being ‘data-driven’ - that is derived from mechanical readings of a landscape’s surface before being treated with a more subjective, artistic eye. In process ‘Forms FTP’ is no different. To record this visual phenomenon, Holdsworth had to take a ‘bird’s eye view’, or what might better be described as a ‘machine’s eye view’, scanning the land below in a manner echoing that of aerial surveillance by drone technologies and Google Earth - the latter in particular a tool that has dramatically changed our interaction and understanding of even the most remote of landscapes. It seems nowhere is truly ‘off the grid’ any more.
An objective approach is reflected in the precise presentation of the ‘Forms’ images, so close-cropped that we are denied a sense of wider geographical context. On one hand this allows for an uncluttered and systematic examination the FTP optical illusion. Yet at the same time, this lack of further visual information allows for more subjective and interpretive thought. We are told that the landforms are located in Washington, but the squeezing, plunging contours could easily be from some distant planet or moon.
Holdsworth’s position therefore is somewhere between artist, cartographer and observational scientist. He has spoken of the earliest mappings of the American West as an influence upon his recent works, in particular the collaboration between early landscape photographers such as Carleton Watkins and scientists to map the vast Western frontier. This crossing of disciplinary fields is reflected in the ambiguous title ‘Forms’, a word that is at once sculptural, art historical and scientific.
The sculptural quality and inherent beauty, not only of a vast and rugged landscape but also of a high definition photograph, is clear within ‘Forms FTP’. We are drawn to the immense clarity of the images, that allow for the smallest grains of dust and dirt to be visible. The multi-layered textures and metamorphic forms of the glacier seem to rise and sink from the photo surface, lending them a sense of physicality despite their trappings within a two-dimensional medium.
Trying to decipher which out of the two specimens displayed is the ‘true’ landscape and which the inverted is almost impossible. Both appear plausible options in a landscape that is in such a transformative state of flux.
In ‘Forms FTP’, Holdsworth presents us with parallel worlds - one a reality, the other a window onto a manipulated realm. The two resonate together to conjure questions about our consumption of landscape by virtual means rather than physical experience. In an age of rapid technological advancement, with such a proliferation of visual information available, it seems that we have a greater understanding of our world than ever before, yet through a simple manipulation, like the covert switch of a Victorian illusionist, Holdsworth offers an alternative means of reading the lay of the land, and opens up the discourse of a new frontier - where documented reality converges with virtual construction and digital manipulation.
The unstable transparency of the prints on silk chiffon is relative to the light and the viewer’s position, varying continually as we move around them. As apparitions or ghosts the images portrayed appear or vanish in the space as fade-out recollections of a distant landscape. Hence, these impressions appear as oscillatory surfaces that fluctuate between presence and absence and contingent objects that shift as a result of what surrounds them.
The marbles are quiet indicators of the passage of time and place the viewer in front of a history that appears sluggishly inert and stable as the rock itself. The stratified structure of the stones - composed by physical-relational layers - portrays both the gradual passage of time and the discontinuity planetary history, an a-lineal discursive space where human action over matter is merely an event.
In ‘Macelos I, II and III’ a series of collages on found bookplates are placed in rough vertical cuts in the stones. Situated in interstitial spaces, the collages displayed within these works are partially exposed and partially covered and depict deserted territories that could have been the original sites of these sedimentary formations. As a result the stones refer to the image they hold, and simultaneously confront the image with reality.