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Category Archives: theory

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An early Christmas present.

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Picasso’s Guernica was the subject of In our Time on Radio 4, yesterday.   It was mentioned that Picasso used ground glass when preparing his canvasses and this increased the luminosity of the paint prefiguring TV and other forms of image lit from behind.  I had a look round and have found a wealth of powdered mediums supplied by Jackson’s.  I’d like to try using some of these.

I’ve been trying to discover more about Chiam Soutine’s life.  Information is very hard to come by.  Chiam Soutine (best of) by Klaus H. Carl looks like a useful book.

Just finished reading The Emerald Planet, How Plants Changed Earth’s History by David Berling.  Really interesting book about how evolving plant life interacted with the Earth, sea and atmosphere.  Explains how the gasous mix in the atmosphere is constantly changing and how feedback mechanisms are thought to work.   It also tackled the question I had about palaeo atmospheric pressure.   It is proposed that atmospheric pressure was higher 300MA, in the Carbonferous and that this led to the evolution of giant insects.

Visit to Courtauld Gallery to see Soutine’s Portraits:  Cooks, Waiters and Bell boys.  Nice little exhibition and the paintings didn’t disappoint.  Reproductions of some of the paintings were sometimes better than the actual paintings.  I often find that and I don’t know why.

Most of his pictures were of men in service.  Mostly torso & head and occasionally full length.  There were very few pictures of women and it was noticeable in the ones that were there that the artist’s viewpoint was looking down on the subject whereas the men were looked in the eye.

Jonathan Jones writes a good review of this exhibition for the Guardian newspaper.  I can see the link to Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach & Lucien Freud.  An even more detailed review is given by Alison Cole for The Arts Desk.com

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Young woman in a white blouse. Around 1923. Oil on canvas. 34cm x 45cm. Part of The Courtauld collection. Allocated by HMRC in lieu of IHT.

BR2049.  Could this possibly be as good as the original BR?  I enjoyed it but it’s incredibly dystopian which is a bit depressing.  It reminded me of Mad Max.  I wonder if it’ll be referenced by artists as much as the original BR?  The most novel idea was the two replicants/robots synching.  Main theme’s are humans destruction plus the nature of reality.

The Gaze.  I’m becoming very interested in how video calls disrupt ‘the gaze’.  I find video calls extremely unnerving.  The reason why is obvious.  I’m looking at a piece of technology and not into the eyes of another human being in another time and in another place.

I’d like to explore this feeling of discomfort  further – but where should I start!

Me looking at you but not really looking at you because you’re in another place at another time and you’re not really looking at me because you’re looking at a screen and you’re not looking at your screen either.  What are you looking at?  Where are you?  When are you?

Dan Rosenfeld articulates and tries to solve this problem.

I recently watched Solaris (1972), the original Russian version and Solaris (2002) the American version.  Both are based on Stanislaw Lem’s science fiction novel, Solaris.  The 1972 film is extremely long but a much more satisfying experience, asking lots of interesting philosophical questions.  The 2002 version seems to have lost much of the quality of enquiry and become just another ‘tale’.

Visited an exhibition called Abstract Remix at The New Arts Project, London.  From the press section of The New Arts Project website,

“Emma Hart and Mat Collishaw: this week’s best UK exhibitions”

To me this reads as Emma Hart and Mat Collinshaw are recommending Abstract Remix rather than their exhibitions being recommended by Jonathan Jones of The Guardian.

Most of the artist’s use slick modern materials like epoxy resin.   A big surprise was that Markus Linnenbrink’s artwork Whatevawillbe had indentations rather than projections. Did I like this exhibition?   I was attracted by the colours of Linnenbrink’s art which were very bright and appealing but most of the work had a rather ‘manufactured by machine’ appearance that I didn’t like.   I prefer stuff to look more man made and the process more obvious.

Also went to see Chris Olifili, Weaving Magic at The National Gallery.  Having seen the BBC Imagine programme about Olifili conceiving and realizing this work I was keen to see it for myself.  Here it is:  very reminiscent of a stained glass church window.  Strange references collide.  Christianity – stained glass windows.  Hindu – the drawings on the walls and Tapestry weaving – medieval European.  All made by someone who is of Nigerian heritage, brought up in the UK and lives in Trinidad!  A real cross cultural mix that has been realized into something magical.

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In considering my response to The Strange Death of Europe by Douglas Murray I’ve been participating in some Implicit Association Tests.  Project Implicit is a non-profit organization and international collaboration between researchers who are interested in implicit social cognition – thoughts and feelings outside of conscious awareness and control.

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The Implicit Association Test (IAT) measures attitudes and beliefs that people may be unwilling or unable to report.

Among the various tests that I have taken I’m really surprised by this result.  I was encouraged by my scientist father to study Geology.   I have always loved this subject and still do.  My understanding of science is that it is the closest thing that we have to the absolute truth.  It was quite a shock to discover than many people do not share this point of view.

Is my strong automatic association for Male with Sciences and Female with Liberal Arts due to nature or nurture?

 

I’m currently reading The Strange Death of Europe, Immigration, Identity and Islam by Douglas Murray.  Review will follow when I’ve finished reading the book.

Visited the National Portrait Gallery on Friday to see:  Howard Hodgkin Absent Friends and Michaelangelo & Sebastiano at the National Gallery.

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Leos triplet – image shamelessly stolen from watchthisspaceman!