Reflections on William Kentridge

 

 

Another noted artist that I only discovered in the last few years, but whose art and ideas have greatly influenced me, is the South African artist William Kentridge.

Renowned for his animated expressionist drawings and films exploring time, the history of colonialism and the aspirations and failures of revolutionary politics, South African artist William Kentridge (b.1955, Johannesburg) featured in two major London exhibitions in the last two years that I was fortunate enough to see in the last couple of years.

The Whitechapel Gallery exhibition showcased six large-scale installations by the artist, where music and drama are ruptured by revolution, exile and scientific advancement.

 

Highlights included the film work Second-hand Reading (2013), installation O Sentimental Machine (2015) and The Refusal of Time (2012), an immersive work created with composer Philip Miller, projection designer Catherine Meyburgh, choreographer Dada Masilo, scientist Peter Galison and collaborators from around the world.

Marian Goodman presented two multiscreen film installations: More Sweetly Play the Dance, and Notes Toward a Model Opera.

 

 

More Sweetly Play the Dance is an eight-screen danse macabre, reminding one of the medieval tradition which summons diverse vestiges of humanity in a paradox of revelry and mourning. Kentridge presents us with part carnival, protest, and exodus: a 45 metre caravan traversing in a sphere around us with figures in procession, a form the artist invoked in his 1999 Shadow Procession.

 

About the processional form, Kentridge says:

“In some ways we first come across it in Plato’s Allegory of the Cave. In a prelude to talking about the responsibility of the philosopher king, he describes people walking behind a screen carrying wooden and stone objects in their hands, their shadows thrown onto the wall opposite the prisoners shackled in the cave watching the shadows.”

Kentridge manages to combine traditional media with new media in work that references much of the culture and history of humankind’s interactions with each other – my work does not of course encompass such a vast range of subjects and media, however, I have found him inspiring for what is possible.

As with Mona Hatoum, Do Ho Suh and Tatsuo Miyajima, other artists who have greatly influenced me over these last two years, I dream about the kind of work I might make that goes beyond my previous boundaries of tradition painting and printmaking, of relatively small-scale, framed works, to the ideas of truly multi-media, multi-sensory pieces and installations drawing from a myriad of sources, cultures, languages and peoples.

 

 

Links and references

 

 

Advertisements

Society of Women Artists 153rd Annual London Exhibition 2014

Society of Women Artists (SWA) logoThursday 26 June to Saturday 5 July
(closes 3.00 pm on the last day)
Mall Galleries, The Mall, London SW1

Private view: Wednesday 25th June 10.00 am – 8.00 pm
11.00 am – official opening and presentation of Awards

I’m delighted to again have work accepted for the Society of Women Artists annual exhibition this year, and even more excited to have been made an Associate member. This follows having works accepted over the past few years, and this year having six works accepted (the maximum of four to be hung and two accepted but not hung).

For an invitation to the private view and free entry throughout the duration of the show, please visit my website at www.sharonlow.com or send an email to exhibitions@sharonlow.com

I hope to see you there there!

About the Society of Women Artists (SWA)

SWA Flyer 2014Originally founded as the Society of Female Artists (SFA), this unique group has held an annual London exhibition of the work of women artists ever since 1857.

During the mid-nineteenth century, women were not considered serious contributors to the field of art and they had great difficulty in obtaining any public showing.

At the first exhibition of the SFA, 149 women showed 358 works. It is a reflection of the times that some of the artists hid their true identities for fear of social recrimination.

At this time the art world was dominated by the Royal Academy which, when founded in 1768, had just two women among the founders; there were no other women Royal Academicians for over 150 years, until Annie Swynnerton SWA (a member since 1889) was elected as an Associate in 1922.

Some of the most noted artists of the time were attracted to the Society: when Lady Elizabeth Butler’s “The Roll Call” was displayed at the Royal Academy in 1874, even Ruskin, with his peculiar views of femininity, revised his opinion that “no woman could paint”.

The SFA was involved in education for women artists: female artists were effectively excluded by the mores of the time from professional training – even for those who gained a place at art school, the model in the women’s class would be decorously draped on grounds of propriety.

As access to professional training increased, the Society’s exhibitions attained higher standards, and a name change came in 1869 to the Society of Lady Artists. The mid-Victorian persona was discarded in the last year of the century, and the twentieth century was embraced by the Society with the new name: The Society of Women Artists.

Among its members the Society has had many famous artists: Dame Laura Knight, the first woman Royal Academician for over 160 years, was elected President of the SWA in 1932;  Mabel Lucy Atwell, the world-famous illustrator, was also a member. Current members include Daphne Todd OBE, the first woman President of the Royal Portrait Society; June Mendoza OBE, the well-known portraitist June Mendoza; the late Suzanne Lucas, Past President of both the Society of Botanical Artists and the Royal Miniature Society (in 1980 was elected as the first woman president of a Royal Society); and Philomena Davis, elected first woman President of the Royal Society of British Sculptors in 1990.

The Society has enjoyed Royal patronage since 1865 and the current patron is HRH Princess Michael of Kent. The current President is Sue Jelley.

Renaissance Impressions: Chiaroscuro woodcuts from the Collections of Georg Baselitz and the Albertina, Vienna

Of course I’m biased as a printmaker, but surely even non-printmakers can appreciate the amazing beauty in the Chiaroscuro woodcuts from two of the finest collections in the world currently on show at the Royal Academy.

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael Archimedes (?) c. 1518-20 - Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from five blocks, the tone blocks in beige, pale brown, brown and blackish brown 44.5 x 34.7 cm Albertina, Vienna. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienna - RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/10

Ugo da Carpi, after Raphael Archimedes (?) c. 1518-20 – Chiaroscuro woodcut printed from five blocks, the tone blocks in beige, pale brown, brown and blackish brown 44.5 x 34.7 cm Albertina, Vienna. Photo Albertina, Vienna. Organised by the Royal Academy of Arts, London and the Albertina, Vienna – RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/10

These works were either conceived as “independent works or based on the designs of the greatest Renaissance artists such as Parmigianino, Raphael and Titian”. The pioneering 16th-century printing technique:

“breathed new life into well-known biblical scenes and legends; from Perseus slaying the Medusa to Aeneas Fleeing Troy, and the Miraculous Draught of Fishes.”

In this exhibition the RA has gathered 150 of the most exquisite and rare examples of this forgotten art form, with a focus on the chiaroscuro method and the craftsmanship of its proponents in Germany, Italy and the Netherlands, which created the first colour prints “that make dramatic use of light and dark.”

I am in awe at the beauty and technical perfection of these marvellous prints. The exhibition is on at the RA now and runs until June 8.

Take a look at the article and images for the “Renaissance Impressions” exhibition on the RA website: https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/10

Master printmaker Norman Stevens at the Royal Academy

Norman Stevens ARA Painswick, Moonlight 1979 - Etching and aquatint Private collection © Estate of the artist - from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Norman Stevens ARA Painswick, Moonlight 1979 – Etching and aquatint Private collection © Estate of the artist – from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

I’m looking forward to catching the RA exhibition of the works of the much admired Norman Stevens ARA, who originally trained as a painter alongside John Loker, David Hockney RA and David Oxtoby in the 1950s at Bradford College of Art. The exhibition features works from Stevens’ first black and white etchings to the large-scale prints he made in in the 1980s.

Norman Stevens ARA Levens Hall Garden 1985 - Screenprint Private collection © Estate of the artist from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Norman Stevens ARA Levens Hall Garden 1985 – Screenprint Private collection © Estate of the artist, from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Described on the RA website as “a master of the medium”, Stevens is a self-taught printmaker, and found in this work “an art form that perfectly suited his meticulous and subtle approach.”

Stevens’ prints “make use of colour, light and shade to powerful and often haunting effect” as he explores the built environment and landscape.

Indeed, the art critic, William Packer, likens Stevens’ work to a “game of hide-and-seek with the real world”, where “”human presence is always suggested but never shown.”

 

 

 

Norman Stevens ARA Morning 1973 - etching, aquatint and mezzotint Private collection © Estate of the artist, from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

Norman Stevens ARA Morning 1973 – etching, aquatint and mezzotint Private collection © Estate of the artist, from the RA website https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16

I’m looking forward to seeing “in the flesh” the prints that the RA describes as “at the heart of the exhibition” – the important groups of prints which include his depictions of Venetian blinds and ‘clapboard’ houses, as well as his “distinctive images of Stonehenge and his captivating views of English formal gardens.”

I can’t wait to discover  more about the work of this artist who developed, over the course of his career, “an international reputation for his technically brilliant and beguiling prints.”

The Norman Stevens ARA exhibition is on at the RA now and runs until May 25.

Read the RA article about the Norman Stevens exhibition https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/16