Malvern Theatres - Autumn Show

by Humph Hack 15. October 2017 17:15

It is rare for a successful artist to paint in many different styles. The public will easily recognise a Monet, a Freud or even a Hockney. As ever it is the exception which proves the rule. So, for example Picasso is known for multiple styles, but even he had periods where all the work being produced at any one time was stylistically similar.

The three artists opening the new show at Malvern Theatres are all recognisable instantly because they all paint in a practised and recognisable style.

Amanda Dagg is amongst the best sellers from the online gallery www.artgallery.co.uk from which all the works on show are chosen. She relishes in the freshness of nature although her work does not attempt realism in the traditional sense.

She hails from South Wales and as well as producing an amazing quantity of work, she helps run a community led gallery in the area. She has successfully shown in the Theatre many times over the last few years.

Victoria Stanway’s works explore the female psyche. Her humorous paintings are much sought after, not just by women, but by anyone wishing to celebrate and understand what makes “girls” different. Victoria is based in Bicester and has not shown here before.

The third artist is Steven Shaw who hails from Solihull. His works – almost photo realist, are supreme examples of the genre. The works in this show are mainly animal studies, apart from two plates of biscuits; good enough to nibble with your cup of coffee in the Bistro. This is also Steven’s first show at Malvern. Artists queue up to be seen in this great venue.

The show runs from Monday 16 October until Saturday 25 November.

Tags:

Exhibitions | Malvern Theatres | The Art World

Movember Special: The Importance of a Moustache

by Aileen Mitchell 18. November 2016 15:53

The moustache is a real statement whether its handlebar, pencil or cowboy. It also plays a key role as a statement in art as well as fashion in everyday life. Join us this Movember as we look back at the historical president of 'the tash'.

One of the first and greatest celebrations of the upper-lip adorner was the Sutton Hoo helmet. This extraordinary object is a pinnacle of Anglo-Saxon burial art. The helmet was found as part of a ship-burial from the very rich archaeological site at Sutton Hoo in Suffolk, England. Look closely at the face mask and you can see that the neatly clipped moustache represents not just a moustache but the tail of a bird flying upwards. Surely one of the most recognisable tashes in art history.

When we think of medieval knights we imagine tall, handsome men astride a horse with – of course – a terrific moustache. This hairy status symbol was of such importance that in the fourteenth century Edward Prince of Wales had an effigy on his tomb showing him in full battle dress armour but with his moustache on show.

We have always looked to our monarchy and aristocracy to keep up to date with the latest vogues. Although Queen Elizabeth didn't sport a handlebar, the Elizabethan era was the start of men choosing to be very bearded. This was then further refined by King Charles I and his iconic handlebar moustache and goatee beard.

There have been many modern artists who have used the moustache as statements in their work, and in fact on people's art! Revolutionary artist Marcel Duchamp, famous for the statement urinal in the 1917 exhibition for the Society of Independent Artists, has also paid homage to the moustache. In a series of works titled 'found objects', Duchamp would take a mundane and ordinary object and alter it, making it extraordinary. L.H.O.O.Q. is a postcard print of the Mona Lisa with Duchamp's addition of a moustache and goatee.

As Duchamp demonstrated, it's not just men who have an important relationship with the moustache in art. Frida Kahlo, surrealist painter most famous for her self-portraits, often depicted herself with a moustache – or more accurately the natural layer of hair that lined her upper lip. This attention to her natural features is for a number of reasons from pride in her Mexican heritage to painting exactly what she saw, to a feminist statement about her main pleasures in life being considered as 'manly'. Putting herself under such scrutiny as she painted, it has been observed that Kahlo would make the hair on her upper lip more prominent than it really was.

Our next moustache-wearing art icon appeared in Spain at the beginning of the surrealist movement. Salvador Dali's moustache is almost as iconic as the melting clocks in his artwork. When asked in an interview whether his moustache was in fact a joke, he responded by saying it was "the most serious part".

Dali's moustache was not only a famous part of his look that we remember him by even today, but an extension of his personality and mood at the time. One day it would be tied in a bow, the next stuck in spikey straight lines, sometimes curving up like the horns of a bull. He also would sometime use his moustache to paint – either whilst it was still attached, or he would use the trimmings to make his own bristle head on a paintbrush. 

 

Van Gogh is another famous artist who had a very close bond with his moustache. Almost every self-portrait he painted includes a beard and moustache – so much so that the painting of himself simply named, Self-Portrait Without a Beard, is one of the most expensive of his paintings going for 71.5 million dollars!

It is interesting to see that in his self-portraits his brush strokes do not change from the texture of his face to the moustache and beard; the only thing that changes is the colour. Art historians consider this as Van Gogh expressing how his facial hair is very much an extension of himself rather than a grown accessory. Closer studies on this subject have also shown how little difference there is between the way he paints his landscapes and the way he paints himself. Another example of very deep levels of an artist expressing their character in their masterpieces.

There are such strong links between artists and the moustache throughout art history it would be wrong to deny its constant presence and significance. Not only is the moustache a statement on a fashion and visual level but an embodiment of an artist's emotions and opinions at that particular stage of their career.

Image credits:

User: vggallery.com/ Self-Portrait with Straw Hat / Public Domain/ Wikimedia Commons

User: The Yorck Project: 10.000 Meisterwerke der Malerei / Self-Portrait Without Beard / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

User: Karl Stas / LHOOQ (1919) / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

User: Thomas Gun / Charles I of England / Public Domain / Wikimedia Commons

Tags:

Art History | Artists | The Art World

What Is 'Fauvism'?

by Aileen Mitchell 17. August 2016 12:00

The Turning Road, L'Estaque – Andre Derain

Fauvism is one of the most influential styles in contemporary art, whether today's artists are fully aware of it or not. The 'wild beasts' of Fauvism radicalised colour and form, and inspired the next generation of young artists to engage with their surroundings on a whole new level, changing art forever.

Last month we looked at the trailer for the new film, Loving Vincent. It's from the legacy of Van Gogh that the story of Fauvism begins …

Starry Night – van Gogh

French artist Henri Matisse is considered the founding father of Fauvism. Inspired by Van Gogh's post-impressionist style of intensifying colours and distorting forms to create images fraught with emotion, Matisse began to use colour on a very emotional level. The results of this were bright, multi-coloured paintings and scratchy brush stroked figures.

In complete contrast to the pastel coloured impressionist paintings from the 1800s – 1900s, Matisse would use paint straight from the tube without mixing them, and combine cold and warm palettes in the same work.

The concept behind creating these daring new paintings was to not paint the scene before them as realistically as possible, but to interpret how the scene was conceived in the mind. Matisse didn't choose colours based on what looked technically correct, but based his palette on the feelings and emotions he had whilst painting a particular 'experience' rather than 'scene'.

The first time Matisse's colourful works were displayed, a respected art critic exclaimed that the one renaissance sculpture in the exhibition was surrounded by work created by 'wild beasts' (les fauves). Although this comment was intended to be highly damming, Matisse and his fellow artists in this new style decided to take this as inspiration for the title of the new movement they had created, Fauvism.

The Green Stripe – Henri Matisse

One of the most famous works created during this movement was the portrait of Amelie Matisse – wife of Henri Matisse, called Green Stripe, carrying the famous green stripe down the middle of her face.

Dividing the face into two shades is a conventional portrait technique – usually used to divide the face between light and shade – but Matisse chose to use the line as a divide between cool and warm tones.

This bold new move was analysed in many different ways – some said the green stripe was for jealousy, others said it divided the painting into purity and serenity. The most likely reason, however, is none of these. Matisse was not called a wild beast for nothing. Art was now beyond the point of displaying well-known representations and symbolism. The green stripe is simply there because it was what Matisse felt inspired to do at the time. Under close analysis, art historians claim that much of the painting appears to have been 'improvised'. This is indicated by the brush strokes – which are perhaps most obviously ad lib in the black patch centre-right. 

Paysage du Midi – Andre Derain

Although revolutionary, this gaudy movement did return to familiar territory in the subject matter artists would choose to paint. Moving away from the popular urban depictions, les fauves returned to painting landscapes.

In fact, London played a large part in the Fauvist movement. We can really see this period of history in context when we compare Claude Monet's dreamy, misty picture of the Houses of Parliament with Andre Derain's piece of yellows, pinks and lurid greens.

Houses of Parliament – Claude Monet

Charing Cross Bridge – Andre Derain

London art is still by far one of our most popular categories of art to this day! Perhaps it was Fauvism that set off this iconic theme with our very own ArtGallery artists.

Icarus – Henri Matisse

Fauvism was also a revolutionary movement for exploring the negative space in a painting. This is how works like 'Icarus' came to be so famous. Out of context, some people can find it difficult to understand why a piece so simple has become so revered. The answer is context. There may be thousands of people who can reproduce work like this, but les fauves were the first to do it – the first to have this original idea of completely breaking away from traditional art.

Inspired by some of the greatest painters of the previous era, like van Gogh, Munch and Cezanne – Matisse inspired many young artists who in turn became notable painters of their respective fields, such as Chagall, Levy and many abstract expressionists.

At the time of Matisse's first exhibition, another critic commented that his work was, 'a pot of paint flung in the face of the public.' This could either be taken in a negative way, or a great of describing the rebellious, spontaneous spirit captured by fauvism. We'd like to see it as a compliment to one of the most energetic and influential styles in Western art.

[Image credits]

User: artfactory.com/ André Derain, The Turning Road, L’Estaque (1906)

/ Public Domain

User: bgEuwDxel93-Pg at Google Cultural Institute

/ Starry Night – van Gogh/ Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

User: William Allen, Image Historian

/ The Green Stripe – Henri Matisse

/ Flikr / Public Domain

User: Sharon Mollerus

/ Paysage du Midi – Andre Derain

/ Flikr / Public Domain

User: Unknown

/ Houses of Parliament – Claude Monet/ Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain

User:  André Derain / Charring Cross Bridge – Andre Derain / Wikimedia Commons/ Public Domain

User: Sharon Mollerus / Icarus – Henri Matisse/ Flikr / Public Domain

Tags:

Art History | The Art World

Father's Day Art on ArtGallery.co.uk

by Aileen Mitchell 17. June 2016 16:02

Father's Day Artwork on ArtGallery

With Father's Day fast approaching, we've scoured our ArtGallery collection to put together a special blog post gallery. All of these original artworks are for sale on our website, directly from the artist.

If you can't make up your mind, there is also a selection of vouchers to choose from. These are emailed directly to you and the recipient of your choice! 

Good luck, and we hope you have plenty of inspiration to choose from:

Dad's Day Out by Susan Shaw

Dad's Day Out – Susan Shaw

Beer by Gary Hogben

Beer – Gary Hogben

Speed by Andrew Alan Matthews

Speed 3 – Andrew Alan Matthews

Fish and Chips by Gay Forster

Fish&Chips – Gay Forster

New Bond Street, Bath 1930s by Ernest George Perrott

New Bond Street 2, Bath 1930s – Ernest George Perrott

God Save the Queen by Gary Hogben

God Save The Queen #2 – Gary Hogben

British Superbike Round 2012 by David James

British Superbike Round 2012 – David James

Old Blues by Shaun Keefe

Old Blues – Shaun Keefe

Tags:

Artists | The Art World

Happy Birthday Damien Hirst & Paul Gauguin

by Aileen Mitchell 10. June 2016 10:00

This month we're celebrating the birthdays of two famous artists, Damian Hirst and Paul Gauguin. These two artists have given so much to art as we now know it today, from the creativity behind a concept to a renewed appreciation of bright colours.

Damien Hirst

Hirst in a still from the movie The Future of Art

There are few Brits who have not heard of Damien Hirst. As one of the most influential thinkers and artists of the modern scene, Damien Hirst has inspired many, split opinion, and created his own legacy.

Now one of the wealthiest British artists, with a net worth estimated to be £200,000,000, Hirst's creative path began when he took A-level art – only to be graded E. After applying more than once to the two art colleges he attended, (Jacob Kramer School of Art and later Goldsmiths, University of London) Hirst began to make a lasting impression on agents and curators that came to graduate exhibitions – namely Charles Saatchi.

Saatchi was so taken with Hirst's work that he offered to fund absolutely anything Hirst wanted to make for the showcase of the first ever Young British Artists (YBA) exhibition in 1992.

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living "Death Denied"

This exhibition saw the birth of the formaldehyde series – some of Hirst's most famous (or infamous) work. This piece was a shark suspended in a tank of formaldehyde, titled The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living. It also saw him nominated that year for the Turner Prize.

Since his YBA debut, Hirst's work has continued to sell out at auctions and galleries and he has designed charity CD album covers and even an image for a space probe to calibrate its onboard camera.

"Damien Hirst at the exihibition Damien Hirst The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011, Gagosian Gallery, NYC."

Although he has been widely received as a pioneer in modern art, there are also critics to Hirst's particular style. Some have described his paintings to be produced in a 'factory' setting. The famous spot series are largely painted by someone else, as Hirst has always believed that the creativity and art is in the concept of his work, rather than the production. He is even known to have said, "The best person who ever painted spots for me was Rachel. She's brilliant."

Paul Gauguin 

"Paul Gauguin, photography, ca. 1891"

Paul Gauguin was a French post-impressionist who was largely undervalued by critics until long after he died. In his lifetime he did however make a profound impact on Vincent van Gogh.

Inspired by his mother's Peruvian heritage and the bright colours of their culture, Gauguin incorporated bold, bright lines and backgrounds in his work that woke European art up from what he believed was a dullness in creativity.

"Parahi te maras, 1892, Meyer de Schauensee collection"

Initially a stockbroker, Gauguin began to paint in the late 1870s when Impression was the popular art style. Gauguin decided to paint with the colours he wanted to give life and vibrancy to his art, which was not in keeping with the style at the time. This lead to many bad reviews from critics and dealers alike, apart from one in particular…

Theo van Gogh was a big fan of Gauguin's work and bought three of his paintings. At the same time, Gauguin became close friends with Vincent – so much so they spent nine weeks painting together in Arles, France.

"Vahine no te tiare (Woman with a Flower), 1891, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek"

It was Gauguin who can be said to have had the biggest influence on van Gogh's progression and style as a painter. Sadly, their friendship ended after their nine weeks of painting, resulting in van Gogh allegedly threatening Gauguin with a razor blade before cutting off the lower lobe of his own ear. Van Gogh was subsequently admitted to hospital and Gauguin returned home.

Today, Gauguin's work is admired for its colours. The inspiration for these was African and Asian art – not to mention the Peruvian pottery and art that his mother collected whilst he was growing up. Gauguin tried to add a passion and depth to Western art that he thought impressionism lacked, creating the Symbolist movement.

Image credits

"Hirst in a still from the movie The Future of Art" by Christian Görmer licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0

The Physical Impossibility of Death in the Mind of Someone Living "Death Denied" by Agent001 licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported

"Damien Hirst at the exihibition Damien Hirst The Complete Spot Paintings 1986-2011, Gagosian Gallery, NYC." by Andrew Russeth licensed by Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic

"Paul Gauguin, photography, ca. 1891" by Louis-Maurice Boutet de Monvel - Museum page licensed by Public Domain

"Parahi te maras, 1892, Meyer de Schauensee collection" by The Yorck Project licensed by Public Domain

"Vahine no te tiare (Woman with a Flower), 1891, Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek" by The Yorck Project licensed by Public Domain

Tags:

Art History | The Art World

Art News: 10 Ways Technology Is Redefining Art Techniques

by Administrator 31. March 2015 15:33

Image by Scott Lynch

Did you know that the word ‘technology’ derives from the ancient Greek word for the systematic treatment of art (technē) and logic (logia)? Today, you could argue that the synthesis between art and technology is stronger than it has ever been. To prove this, here are 10 amazing ways technology is driving the evolution of art techniques. 

1. A robot that draws abstract artwork

Designed by artists Julian Adenauer and Michael Haas, the Vertwalker is a lightweight robot that can walk up and down vertical walls while using an eight colour paint pen. To date, the Vertwalker’s greatest creation was an exhibition displayed at the Saatchi Gallery called ‘Emerging Colourspace’.  Because the Vertwalker constantly overwrites its own work, any painting the robot produces is in a constant state of flux – well, that is until the batteries run out.

2. The 3D pen that lets you draw in the air

Above: The world’s smallest 3D printing pen, which started life as a Kickstarter concept. Photo from: designmilk

The pen, manufactured by LIX and available for pre-order soon, allows you to draw objects in the air by using technology similar to a 3D printer. The LIX pen uses a USB 3.0 port for its power supply, which melts and cools coloured plastic from its hot-end nozzle. After turning the LIX pen on, it takes about one minute to warm up before you can begin creating 3D illustrations in any and all shapes imaginable.

3. A device that turns pollution into art

A media artist in Moscow called Dmitry Morozov has created a device that locates air pollution before turning it into glitch art. The device creates art by translating air data into volts, which are then turned into colours and shapes algorithmically. Originally, Morozov built the device as a way of protesting against the extreme level of air pollution in Moscow. Ironically though, Morozov’s device creates more beautiful pictures when there is more pollution in the air.

4. Stained glass windows made from laser cut paper

Above: Either/Or Decreed by Eric Standley, a stained glass window made from laser cut paper. Photo from: Jon Fife

Eric Standley, an artist based in Virginia, is crafting ‘cutting edge’ art by using lasers to carve incredibly ornate stained glass windows from paper. Standley’s designs often take many months to plan and over 100 sheets of paper stacked on top of one another to create. The artist says he is inspired by the geometry found in Gothic and Islamic architecture, which is clearly evident in the design featured above.  

5. Mobile technology is allowing us to become the art

There is no question that mobile technology has changed the way people experience art. By making art available via mobile devices, everyone has the potential to access art on demand. However, the addition of wearable tech such as Google Glass and Occulus Rift are pushing these boundaries still further. For example, the Belgian art collective Skullmapping is using Oculus Rift technology to produce more immersive pieces that allow audiences to exist within their artworks. 

6. Asphyxia: A blend of dance and motion capture technology

Created by Maria Takeuchi and Frederico Phillips, Asphyxia is a film project that explores human movement via motion capture technology. The pair used Xbox One Kinect sensors to capture the dance moves of Shiho Tanaka, before using that data to render some truly spectacular images of their subject in full flow. To see images and videos of the project, click here.

7. The street artist taking 'GIF-iti' to another level

Above: An aerosol mural by the London street artist, INSA. Photo from: Retinafunk

For those of you who are not familiar with the work of street artist INSA, now is the time to correct that injustice. INSA creates animations of his street art by painting on walls, photographing the results, re-painting the walls, re-photographing the results and then converting the pictures into amazing GIFS.

However, now INSA has taken his ‘GIF-iti’ to another level by creating the world’s largest GIF. Painted on the ground in Rio de Janeiro over four days, the GIF was created using the same technique outlined above, but the photos were taken from a satellite 431 miles above the earth.

8. Adobe Ink and Slide could help make drawing easy for everyone

Last year, Adobe launched the Ink and Slide – a stylus and ruler that integrates with a pair of iPad apps that help users draw masterpieces with comparative ease. Of course, Adobe has made software such as Photoshop that has been invaluable to professionals for years. However, with the Ink and Slide, Adobe could provide amateur digital artists with the tools to fast-track their budding talents. 

9. 3D printing is expanding the possibilities of sculpture

For sculptors who are used to working with less malleable materials, 3D printing is expanding the possibilities of their craft. This is because 3D printing allows sculptors to work with a complex level of nuance, quicker and easier than they can when using conventional methods. These six sculptures produced using 3D printing illustrate the potential of this relatively new technology for producing spectacular art work. 

10. Interactive art that defies the laws of physics

Above: The Rain Room, an art installation that made the impossible, possible – with the help of technology. Photo from: DJ Ecal

The London-based art studio Random International recently wowed visitors at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) with their interactive installation, Rain Room. With the help of technology, visitors could walk through a room of pouring rain without being hit by one single raindrop. The installation worked by using a 3D camera and sensors that stopped and restarted the rain around each visitor as they moved through the installation.

Want to own a painting that blends art with technology? Simply visit The Gallery, and then use the search tool on the right to find a variety of artists that are using modern methods to produce striking prints. 


Tags:

The Art World

Global Graffiti: 10 Top Cities for Urban Art

by Aileen Mitchell 22. July 2014 12:10

Graffiti, or street art, has always been about revolution and rebellion, a visual statement and paint-based commentary about the political, social and economic concerns of our time.

Councils have tried to ban it, some have painted over it (oh, if only they knew how big Banksy would become), supposed art critics have vilified it, and many have questioned whether it can truly been classed as art at all.


Image by:  Heather Cowper

The fact remains, however, graffiti art has captured the attention and imagination of the public and perhaps a generation which wants more than the usual, prescribed - and therefore limiting conventions of stuffy art galleries and dusty museums.

(Ironically, and somewhat fantastically, Bansky’s exhibition at Bristol’s City Museum and Art Gallery in 2011 attracted more visitors – from all over the globe – than any other event in the museum’s entire history.)

But like a pack of paint-spraying pugilists, graffiti artists continue to fight the fight and make their unmistakable mark(s) on the world. Their artistic creations have revived life in run-down areas, provoked controversy and comment, and transformed many of the art form’s finest exponents into international superstars.

Graffiti art is truly a global phenomenon that’s showing no sign of abating. Here are ten of the world’s top cities for graffiti. 

New York City

New York has produced an impressive coterie of graffiti artists, from Poster Boy to Basquiat. Long Island’s 5 Pointz area has over 200,000 square feet tagged by both local and international painters, whilst other locations of graffiti-led interest include the Bronx Wall of Fame on East 173rd St, Victor Goldfield’s Ol’ Dirty Bastard Memorial, and Manhattan’s Bowery Wall.  

Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires has a much more open door policy when it comes to its tolerance of graffiti, as street artists are able to quite legally tag any building as long as the owner gives consent.  As a result there’s a cornucopia of top-level graffiti art all across the city, including works by America’s Ron English, Spain’s Aryz, and France’s Jeff Aerosol. 

And as you’d expect from such a diverse range of stencil-and-spray can impresarios, the themes encapsulated in their artwork is equally eclectic, from portraits of Argentine soccer triumphs by native Martin Ron, to political commentary by Italy’s Blu. 

Los Angeles

L.A. is a positive showcase for some for some of the most exhilarating graffiti in the world.  Bristol’s very own Banksy has several pieces along the La Brea Blvd, and Shepard Fairey – creator of the iconic Obama ‘Hope’ poster for the 2008 election – has a virtuoso mural on Melrose Avenue. Other pieces by renowned graffiti artist Lister and JR have also been frequently popping up. 

Melbourne

Down Under’s second city of Melbourne certainly isn’t backwards at coming forwards when it comes to embracing street art.  The city has its own Graffiti Management Plan, a body established to monitor and review graffiti work, as well as commissioning new pieces by emerging and established talent, and hastily removing illegal installations.  Notable native graffiti artists include Rone and Anthony Lister.  

Sao Paolo

São Paulo, Brazil’s bustling and chaotic industrial centre has a fervent and thriving community of street artists which has also attracted the attention of many international artists, including Paris’ C215 and urbanhearts.  Local urban art celebrities such as Vlok and Os Gemeos joined forces to create a graffiti corridor known as Batman Alley in the Vila Madelena neighbourhood, which consists of regularly rotating works

London

Cotemporary graffiti is represented on a grand and glorious scale in London, serving as a veritable who’s who of top talent with works and installation by internationally revered artists such as Grafter, Shepard Fairey and Banksy – all of whose unmistakable style span the Square Mile.  Camden, Shoreditch and Brick Lane are districts with new and burgeoning urban art talent.  

Santiago

Barrio Bellavista is the best place to check out the up and coming talent of Chile’s capital.  You’ll be dazzled by a colourful pictorial onslaught of variegated graphics, political cartoons and murals practically everywhere you look. And although graffiti is technically illegal in Chile, the government tends to turn a blind eye to graffiti as long as it’s confined to certain neighbourhoods.  

Berlin

Berlin is a tractor beam for top graffiti talent, being as it is a UNESCO-designated City of Design.  Most of the best tagging and installations are done in eastern Kreuzberg, where controversial political murals by Italy’s Blu take centre stage, as well as a huge astronaut on Mariannenstrasse by Victor Ash.  Spring 2013 saw Kreuzberg’s Gustav Meyer Allee clock tower receive the addition of a mural installation by France’s esteemed JR. 

Bogota

Whilst Colombia’s expansive vistas has miles and miles of murals, the historic quarter of La Candelaria – home to a coterie of university students and candlelit cafes – is regarded as the best. Everything from strong-worded comments against its former president to panoramas of a more psychedelic persuasion, the area’s cobblestoned plazas and sidewalks are decorated with invigorating graffiti art.     

Cape Town

Local graffiti celebrity Faith7 has firmly put the graffiti credentials of Cape Town on the map, giving it a kudos and gravitas that elevated graffiti to a revered art form in the city.   Public spaces and private homes in suburban Woodstock, for example, have seen specially-commissioned pieces adorn the buildings and walls, amongst them Cape Town’s native Freddy Sam and New York’s Cern.  In fact, Cern was instrumental in organising a global graffiti exchange program called A World of Art.    

Can you think of any other cities that should rank alongside these esteemed hubs of graffiti excellence? Share your comments below.

Tags: ,

Artists | The Art World

Incredible Pop Art Facts

by Aileen Mitchell 22. July 2014 11:30

We're all familiar with the iconic images of Andy Warhol's Campbell's Soup cans and his multi-coloured screen prints of Marilyn Monroe, but I bet there are plenty of interesting and surprising facts about Pop Art that you didn't know.


Image by: Ian Burt

Originating in the UK in the 1950s, the Pop Art movement created a landmark cultural and revolutionary shift in the way art was created and perceived.  In contrast to abstract expressionism (which was rife with over-exaggeration), Pop Art got right to the point, with little or no ambiguity, in a direct and no-nonsense way. 

Its use of icons, celebrities, everyday images and concepts, and cartoon characters took the art world by storm and created an immediate artistic appeal that galvanised the very core of pre-conceived concepts of art. 

It was funky, fresh, and fun, and was a term that applied to painting, sculptures, assemblages and collages.     

And the fact its images remain as potent and alive as they were when they were originally launched onto an unsuspecting public is testament to its striking originality and enduring appeal.  

It’s a style that been imitated ad infinitum since, and has been used, borrowed and paid homage to in countless food and drink promotions, magazines, comics, TV programmes and films.  It was, in short, an artistic revolution.  Art would never be the same again.    

The facts:

  • Pop Art wasn’t called that when it was originally unleashed unto the London masses – instead, it was referred to as Propaganda Art.
     
  • As the name suggests, Pop Art was unquestionably one of the most popular artistic movements of the contemporary art scene.  Its prime modus operandi was to act as a counter movement, a rebellion against the pretentious and over-intense style of the Abstract Expressionists.  
     
  • Another of Pop Art’s intentions was to reflect the normality and reality of people’s everyday lives; hence its plundering of images and concepts from magazines, comics and television.
     
  • Pop Art was born in the UK in the mid 1950s but it didn’t take long to reach the United States – by the late 50s it was already there. Its intention was to challenge everything about perceived ideas of tradition, and that visual aspects of mass media and popular culture could be considered art.  
     
  • Pop Art is primarily so effective because it extracts an image or idea from its familiar context and isolates it and associates it with other elements.   
     
  • Pop Art coincided with the Swinging 60s of London and its music scene – and resulted in a very happy and productive union.  Peter Blake, for example, created cover art designs for Elvis Presley and The Beatles, and – like Andy Warhol
    incorporating Marilyn Monroe in his work - used actresses such as Brigitte Bardot. 
     
  • Andy Warhol’s motto was: “I think everybody should be a machine.” This was reflected in the way he created his prints, which looked as though they could have churned off a factory conveyor belt.  American Pop Art was less subjective and referential than its British counterpart, being more aggressive and emblematic.  
     
  • The Independent Group is widely regarded as the pre-cursor to the pop art movement. Collages created from found objects - such as mass media items and advertising of the American culture - by the group’s co-founder, Eduardo Paolozzi, made up art pieces he called Bunk! between 1947 and 1949.  The word ‘pop’ first appeared in one his collages entitled I Was A Rich Man’s Plaything, made in 1947, where a smoking gun was accompanied by the word ‘pop’.   
     
  • Pop Art’s finest and most well-known exponent, And Warhol, certainly predicted the future with his quote: “In the future, everybody will be famous for fifteen minutes.” If only he could see the frightening reality of what his prescient prognostication would ultimately bring. 
     
  • As well as its use of advertising, comics and mass media, Pop Art’s intention was to present the banal and the prosaic in unique and exciting ways, very often through the use of irony.
     
  • Pop artists primarily use the vivid colours red, blue and yellow in their works – the colours representing the references to popular culture as opposed to any inner feelings or emotions of what was being shown.  It’s a palette that also lent itself easily for mass reproduction, as was the case with Andy Warhol’s silkscreen paintings.
     
  • Roy Lichtenstein created his own unique Pop Art style inspired by the visual immediacy of comic books. Black outlines, bold colours, and Ben-Day dots were all recreated in the spirit of comic books that were printed in the 50s and 60s. 
     
  • Pop Art is immediately recognisable from its clear lines and representations of people, objects and symbols.  It took a more reverential approach towards mass culture and consumerism - as opposed to Dadaism, which was destructive, satirical and anarchic.

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Art History | Artists | The Art World

Glitch Art - Making Art out of Errors

by Aileen Mitchell 17. March 2014 11:39

Advent Of The Glitch

Glitch art is a new and intriguing art form – and it’s changing the way we perceive and look at images.

Glitch art
Image by Rosa Menkman

The word 'glitch' itself has its provenance in the German word glitschen, meaning to slip. And that’s exactly what glitch art captures and presents – a minor, very often nanosecond slip from a steady, controlled image, slipping into a visual distortion that momentary stuns the viewer. The results of these images are disconcerting, jolting, unexpected, occasionally disturbing – and they make for visually arresting pieces.

Its first use in English was in 1962 during the American space program in John Glen’s comment: “Literally, a glitch is a spike or change in voltage in an electrical current.”

It’s a short fault, a temporary dislocation of a perceived visual image, and it’s a term that is widely used in the electronics and computing industries, as well as in circuit bending and video games.

In fact, electronic glitches have been exploited and manipulated in the experimentations of various musical genres in the 90s, Achim Szepanski, Oval and Pan Sonic being three of its exponents.

But the visual and artistic potential of the glitch concept is being incorporated into and embraced by a whole new raft of digital art movements and artists. It explores the imperfections, malfunctions and pixelated abnormalities of an image by saving and reproducing them.

In essence, it’s a visual defect, an artistic aberration, a pictorial peculiarity captured in a split second and reimagined in the form of a new medium, at once striking, unexpected and subversive.

Glitch art can be created with a TV, digital camera, scanner or printer – and it's being embraced by visual artists as a way of drifting away from, as well as questioning, the traditional modes and forms of art in the contemporary world.

Gurus Of Glitch Art

One of the most recent examples of glitch art was unleashed by Bristol-based artist Luke Jerram. His sculpture, Maya – created from over 5000 photos of his daughter – becomes more pixelated as the viewer gets closer.

Placed at Bristol’s Temple Meads station, it has left commuters puzzled and perplexed. Jerram himself is colour blind and creates works of art based on optical illusions and visual perception.

The sculpture was created through a series of Maya’s images which were scanned through an X-box Kinect and equipment at Machine Vision Laboratory in Bristol. These scans were transformed into more than 5,000, 12mm pixelated squares – known as voxels – and painstakingly placed on to an aluminium body to produce the final piece.

Canadian artist, Mathieu St-Pierre, creates his glitch art images in a slightly different, but no less intriguing way. He uses computer programmes and analogue video signals to generate original glitch images, manipulating the electronic malfunctions to create his own distinctive, creative palette.

In 2012, he created a series of ‘abstraction’ pieces that blend colours and glitches to dizzying effect. He has taken this technique and developed it one step further through his adoption of digital faults to create pieces saturated with colour with repetitive, wavering lines that act almost as brushstrokes.

And this concept can be taken even further – as it has been by Phillip Stearns of Glitch Textiles. He combined digital art with fabrics to create a crowd-sourced project in 2011. It’s a technique that sources patterns from malfunctioning hardware and short-circuited cameras and transforms them into soft fabrics and wool weaves with algorithmic, colourful and bright patterns.

This new technique may in some way be an attempt at contemporary experimentation and a style which can mark a stark contrast to older, more classical paintings, but London-based Quayola has found a way to create an artistic confluence of old and new. He has taken the classic paintings of Rubens and van Dyck and pixelated them in the glitch art fashion.

He utilizes a very precise computerised process that splits up segments of the painting and transforms them in to 3D shapes and blocks. In essence, its new technological forms creating new versions of traditional works – as many of today’s chefs might have it, a new twist on an old classic.

A clever variation on the 'glitching' theme has been appropriated by Manchester-based artist, Mishka Henner. He uses publicly available images to cleverly create his own variations on a theme, simultaneously blurring the lines of image ownership with new creative expression.

For example, he used Google map images of the Netherlands – parts of which has been itself pixelated by the Dutch government to conceal politically sensitive locations such as air bases and missile sites – and re-contextualised them, reframed them to question the censorship put in place by the government. And surely the best, most perceptive and true art should question everything.

Glitch art is paving the way for more innovative, ground-breaking artistic endeavours, and I’m sure plenty more artists will experiment in this medium to bring us thought-provoking pieces that challenge our perceptions of the artistic norm.

What do you think of glitch art and have you got any favourite artists? Share your comments below.

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The Art World

Global Graffiti - A Guide to Street Art

by Aileen Mitchell 14. January 2014 15:10

When it comes to stirring up controversy and generating a spot of artistic discussion, there's nothing that gets the tongues wagging and the tempers flying more than the art versus graffiti debate. Is graffiti actually art? Does it have any real artistic merit? Should it be displayed in legitimate art galleries?

It's a contentious issue and one that sparks heated and vociferous talk on both camps. In many ways, it's a case of the old school versus the new school – two separate lines of thought that seem destined never to agree.   

But no matter. Like it or loathe it, there’s no denying that street art or graffiti IS art, making a visual social commentary on time, place, political systems, world affairs, and important global issues just as much as the old masters.  It’s really a matter of the artistic representations of the culture and time – and now is the time of the graffiti artist.

Here are six of the most important and influential figures currently on the graffiti/street art scene.      

Mark Jenkins

Mark has made a name for himself through his street art sculptures and figures made from clear packing tape and placed in urban environments, primarily Washington D.C. and Rio de Janeiro.  More recently, he’s cunningly dressed them up and placed them in positions to give the impression of real people, discreetly recording the reactions of the shocked and surprised public. 

Frank Shepard Fairey

Fairey rose to fame with his ‘Andre the Giant has a Posse’ sticker campaign in 1989. He has since turned to professional graphic design, drawing considerable attention for his work on the ‘Hope’ poster for Barack Obama’s 2008 election campaign.   He’s had his work displayed in many prestigious art galleries, including the Smithsonian, New York’s Museum of Modern Art and London’s Victoria and Albert, as well as publishing several books on art. 

JR

This Paris-born artist’s journey into the world of art began with a happenstance finding of a camera on the Paris Metro when he was seventeen. His career as – as he puts it - a photograffeur was born, taking photos of regular people and blowing up the images into posters that he and his team put up.  One of his most famous works is a canvas and 100ft high mural on the side of London’s Tate Modern of a man pointing a gun at the camera.  

Blu

An Italian street artist from Bologna, Blu has gained notoriety from his massive wall paintings and stop motion animation pieces, often disturbing and surreal in tone. He’s painted walls in many European cities and American countries.  He once visited the German city of Wuppertal and anonymously printed 6,000 magazines full of his drawings distributed for free; this was followed by several large-scale murals.  Nowadays, much of his work is commissioned for art festivals. 

Banksy

Without doubt the most famous of contemporary street artists, Bristol’s favourite anarchic artistic son, Banksy’s main modus operandi focuses on an ironic, anti-establishment social commentary tinged with social realism. 

Prolific, iconic, his art is snapped up for thousands by the rich and famous and had his work dismissed as vandalism by an enraged city council. He’s also been in a documentary, storyboarded an alternate version of The Simpson’s opening titles, has a book of his work, and took over the Bristol City Museum and Art Gallery for twelve weeks to display 100 art works, attracting 300,000 enthusiastic visitors. 

D*Face

Identifiable from his signature icon of a black and white ball creature with wings, London’s D*Face has been, well, defacing walls, street lights, vehicles and other public surfaces since 2006.  Sticker, graffiti, billboard manipulations and murals are his trademark mediums of choice.  His work has gone global and can be found in San Francisco, Los Angeles, London, New York and Barcelona. 

These are just six street artists working their imaginative magic around the world – others such as Chor Boogie, Ron English and the more unappealingly monikered Phlegm, deserve equal mention. And the list goes on – a burgeoning phalanx of talented, creative, brilliant, perceptive, culturally-savvy and artistically astute pictorial social commentators, creating and developing this relatively new artistic movement and changing the shape of artistic history itself, with works that are important, unmistakable and vital.

What do you think of street art, and have you got any favourites yourself?

See our urban art and galleries for more inspiration. 

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Artists | The Art World





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