London Galleries VisitsPosted: January 3, 2014
My first trip was to the White Cube, the first piece that particularly interested me was ‘Receive Calls On Your Cellphone From Jail,’ by Mark Bradford.
As soon as I entered this room I immediately felt enclosed and constricted in some sense. It reminded me of a prison environment. I found some relationship with my current project, particularly when considering the work of Michael Foucault and his view on the panoptican society we live in. Researching the work after I realised this was the exact outcome Mark Bradford had intended.
Bradford goes on to reveal that the work was made specifically for the 9 x 9 x 9 space, ‘turning the room into a panoptican which evokes the strong sense of physicality that one experiences in jail.’ This is something that intrigues me in regards to environment. The suggestion of the contents suiting the environment, rather than the environment suiting the contents, isn’t that a reflection of a prison in itself on some level.
‘In 9x9x9, Bradford has created a site-specific installation Receive Calls from Your Cell Phone in Jail (2013). Based on a merchant poster found in his neighbourhood, this work focuses on an aspect of the economic and racial demographics of his locale, where social crisis is transformed into commercial opportunity and exploitation. Comprising one hundred and fifty canvases, installed in horizontal and vertical rows from floor to ceiling, each panel bears trace elements of the primary message. Positioning the viewer at the centre of the piece, a panoptic survey of the individual panels conveys an impression of solitary cells within a maximum security prison.’
This piece was part of Mark Bradford’s major exhibition, ‘Through Darkest America by Truck and Tank.’ Much of the work consists of found materials in the urban environment, for instance posters, billboard sheets and news print. Bradford’s expansive, multi-layered collaged paintings explore the dynamics of social abstraction, where image is fused with context. An example of this is shown below.
This Overlapping, collage approach in this piece is reminiscent of a prison structure in an abstract sense. The prison as an environment is something I want to work with in my work, I want to move away from portraiture and focus more on the environment. Mark Bradford is an artist that is inspiring to me, here is a video below in which he suggests certain perceptions of society, in this case language and the term ‘bad ass.’
His use of layers is also interesting to me.
My next visit was the Tate Britain, a part of me wants to gain inspiration from non-contemporary art, this came in the form of a Joshua Reynolds painting, ‘The Age of Innocence.’
It wasn’t the painting itself that interested me, it is what laid beneath. A recent examination by the Tate uncovered an underlying piece by Reynolds titled, ‘A Strawberry Girl.’ X-radio graphs of the piece indicate that only the hands of ‘A Strawberry Girl’ are left preserved by Reynolds.
I find this a very endearing quality that the subject’s unbeknownst to each other share an environment. All be it, to the discomfort and expense of the original model. On the other hand this reminds me of the corruption that history is really. How much of what we think of the past is actually fact, how much is myth?
The final visit was to the Saatchi gallery, which I was very impressed with, it was the ‘body language’ exhibition which seemed to focus on painting for the most part. The first artist that interested me was Helen Verhoeven. Her paintings of people in certain environments were relelvant to my work, as I want to move away from portraiture and focus on human enclosures or boundaries.
Something I want to paint is the panoptican prison-like environment, this reminds me of this to a certain extent, as it is the painter acting as surveillance.
Another painter who inspired me was Chantal Joffe, particularly in her approach to painting. Through analysing her paintings the under layer is very important, here below are two examples.
Notice the forceful drip across the upper thigh of the subject, the layering of this thinly applied flesh tone compliments this well.
Her work is like a ‘degenerate version of social realism.’ The paint in a sense acts as a therapy for these women, Joffe ‘seems to resurrect these women as real people, the paint reanimating faces that were previously mask-like.’
‘Chantal Joffe has a distinctive style of painting which offers an uncompromising sense of power, complexity and impetus to the female figures she portrays.’
There is a psychological aspect to Joffe’s work, it almost demands an analysis from the viewer.