In an interview accompanying the show, the artist speaks of the 'idea of landscape which is full of life...nobody knows, within a second, just by a little act of terror... it transforms.' Qureshi's work often references the political situation in Pakistan but his intention is not to make work parading brutalities, rather he seeks to name the universal presence of violence. As he explains, “...there’s a lot of violence around me in Pakistan, but then there is a lot of violence all over the world. Violence is not a strange thing or a stranger for anyone."* In Where the Shadows are so Deep, we find life as well as darkness even in the deepest shadows of The Curve. Qureshi's achievement is that he communicates so much more about the nature of violence because it is shot through with such shimmering beauty. It is an extraordinary achievement AND it's there until July 10th. Don't miss it.
* read more
The angel here highlights another requirement: beauty should exist without pride or vanity. To the long list of acceptability criteria, a girl must add modesty, natural grace and, I would suggest, a bird-like appetite - unless she is providing for the appetites of others*, to the list of qualities necessary to be a woman deserving of a happy ending.
* See August Blog The Two Faces of Eve
BP: A Walk Through British Art at Tate Britain covers 500 years of British home-grown talent. I'm not sure that I've ever felt, or wanted to feel, particularly British but, as I wandered from room to room, I was surprised to discover that I was looking for something, a common characteristic that is reflected in my own practice.
Postmodernists might well assert that their arch parodies, nihilism and pastiche subvert and shock society. I am not sure how true this is. As Richard Kearney observes,’ groundbreaking' art is often rapidly assimilated into the mainstream. 'Even the most dissident imaginations appear to be swallowed into the ideology of the simulacrum which prevails in our consumer age'.
* Quotations from THE WAKE OF IMAGINATION Richard Kearney 1988
As part of the research and development process for a new artwork, THE MIND MANAGEMENT CLOSET, I have recently been reading about Neuroscience, specifically the field of Neuroaesthetics which explores what happens in the brain when we view an artwork that inspires. It is now established that a pleasurable reward occurs in the form of a chemical change. In his book, The Splendours and Miseries of the Brain: Love, Creativity and the Quest for Human Happiness (John Wiley and Sons Ltd, 2008), Neuroscientist Semir Zeki. connects this change with a subjective experience of perfection that both viewer and artist are seeking.
It doesn't surprise me that a chemical change is involved. When I describe my viewer's response to Keifer, the language I use is about physical sensation: heartfelt, breathtaking, heart stopping... At a certain moment when I am making a new work, I become infatuated with it, I am drunk on its possibility, my heart races, I am on a high. Then there is the real downer when I start to see it as just something else I made. Semir Zeki cites Lucien Freud on this subject. "A moment of complete happiness never occurs in the creation of a work of art. The promise of it is felt in the act of creation and disappears towards the completion of the work...Were it not for this, the perfect painting might be painted, on the completion of which the painter could retire. It is this great unsufficiency that drives him on...The process is habit forming."
Any artist reading the less than glowing reviews for Maggi Hambling's show, also at the National Gallery, will have winced at the viciousness of some critics. Hambling drew accusations of what many of us fear the most: inauthenticity, expressed (in the case of Jonathan Jones), in some of the most furious language I have ever read from a critic. I am yet to see the show, but I know that my experience of it cannot be identical to Mr Jones' because that's not how it works.
It has been an interesting first year as a blogger. Articulating and sharing my experiences as both artist and viewer is sharpening my thinking. Here's hoping that we all have many heartfelt highs in 2015.
I have just spent a few days in the handsome city of Glasgow, with its stone tenements, good people and vistas of mountains - even from the city centre. I spent most of my time exploring the university's Stirling Maxwell Collection* of early printed books, manuscripts and emblem books, finding intriguing images or series' of images that cannot be fully 'read' /understood without their accompanying text. I love the many nature-related maxims: a crab with the world on its back is accompanied by the text "Sic Orbis Iter" - The Way of the World. Text and image combined suggest that it is the nature of the world to go backwards.
*Although did see an amazing Hamlet at the Citizens Theatre.
In London the work on my own image series' continues. Moving on from DeTOXIFY-ME, I wanted to continue joining pictures into story using some kind of object rather than a flat canvas as my starting point. Working on wooden boxes in the Detoxify series flagged up several advantages. A box opens and closes like a book and offers a continuous series of surfaces that can be walked around as a story is told. After spending many a long hour looking at junk shops and e-bay curiosities, I hit on the idea of using printers' trays, those drawers used to store printing blocks, and discovered that these fabulous constructions offer all kinds of narrative potential. I am now busily, building trap doors between images, breaking down walls to connect them, erecting new walls to separate them and chiseling the occasional tunnel. There is so much potential for storytelling in the opening, closing, echoing and mirroring of one image with another. I am thinking of it as a new kind of joinery and have begun to make an atheist vision of EARTH, HEAVEN AND HELL.
It's an experience to carefully gild a swastika and paint the faces of murdered children. On the whole I am looking forward to moving up to Earth!