Walk don’t Roam

Looking at Buildings and their settings takes on new meaning in these times. Having seen the loss of many functional reusable buildings replaced by mediocre architecture given by the profession at its worst the plain truth reveals itself in the present.

You’ll need a drink after this!

Here are a selection of photos randomly taken of an array of locations many of which will be familiar but not seen lately.

Behind this wall lies the Ursula Burke exhibition which contains the wounded. It depicts and behind this very wall a replication in the artistic interpretation of Ursula Burke the Villa de Livia fresco. That was created in the fifth century to convey the peaceful protection from a world over which birds flew freely and many creatures lay. All not hospitable and therein lay the future which we must enter. To call Ursula Burke’s exhibition profound and seeing the past ages of the fragile relationships we have with the world beyond the horizon, all having different surroundings is a huge understatement.
The Church axis blocked by a darn Bank in the seventies
The original much loved building seen only close up
The view removed
Spot the awful Hamilton Architects tin additions – go to the Park to see more!
A certain Arch practice obliged in providing a set of designs for Buildings along the pavement edge for QUB Estates but thankfully they were dropped. Who on earth thought it was a good idea in the first place? How did the architects not see the Mies relation of a tower set back, which mostly is disregarded, but nevertheless is essential and the reason why the Ashby building sits so well and has added a fine natural corner in a highly used and mixed use area by landscaping relating to both the location and the building. ?
Take home your rubbish or drop in the bin nearby kindly placed by the BCC fgs
The Red Devil’s will return
Oscar Wilde went through this doorway – and came out again – around 1888?
Gods own
Tulips
Tim what were u thinking?
Isolate and educate
Is that corner not inappropriate? asked the dog
Bresson got there and found this
Perspective found this
Spot the roof add ons to the Museum (the tropical ravine was not restored well – it now has 2 roofs and a walkway) did anyone visit the beautiful Kew Gardens version? Staggering here!
Where have all the cars gone?
Barbecue Ribs overdone
Don’t look behind me – there’s a facsimile Library – don’t believe the brochures it’s 20/21at century architecture honest and C.S. Lewis would have been aghast!
A meaningless adoration with space above – is it a bell tower a lighthouse or folly?
Time to return home

All views are my own in this essay.

John Graham

2 May 2020

Belfast

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Artist Unknown : Known Art PRONI – QSS Belfast

Artist Unknown : Known Art

The Artist remains anonymous leaving conjecture to the fore though the relevance of the art itself is slowly releasing its objective aims. Seeing the work in this very laidback utterance of records waiting inspection is highly immersive. It affords a massive degree of development of anyone’s perspective. Without a creative narrative other than the short circumspect motives of lauding to the place and context no genus loci is foremost. The 22 years of work are seen in a few items, 22 or thereabouts. Counting the past and Colouring the past all recall time.

With an exhibition title the past is somewhere in these pieces. Colour is the apparent manifestation but achieving a connection or correlation is intangible. That is not a downfall but a point at which to travel on to another aspect. These materials are the essence of an experience encountered either through words or the books and documents happened upon. Over a period of 22 years there are perhaps gaps and peaks. There is not reference other than a phrase at each piece that itself is a code of words themselves ambiguous and tertiary. That is itself a form of approaching record and memory as we all know how fragile and open to interpretation that can be.

The words written here are borrowed as well as an appreciation of the leap onto a fixed point taken in time where a sudden phrase or vision is unfolded.

Not displayed. Displayed.
Ideas embraced are kept away from the identity narrative but embrace here 22 objects in materials honed on material. I thought of the art here maybe being made by a machine, and unlike a machine art combines narratives set to provide us with a set of visions and understandings from an initial connectivity.


The scope is left uncertain and aim is intense recalling observation now illuminated and entrusted to cabinets and walls displayed in accordance with expressed wishes so far as can be understood. Pairs. Light. Single eye level sight. Triptych on a line separated by a height on the line of sight each a crest fallen or risen. Stark daylight comes in window filtering shifts outside of time passing. Inside merging with LED and spotlight directed on other things. Room of sides. Some open. Cases repeat use. Different context. Explaining objects. Deciphering others perceptions. Editorial nuance. Collaborations of consent. Elaboration sent.

Time remains constant meaning fluid as metal. Sheets of glass hang as semi-state liquids. Porcelain is stacked along a wall in glass cubes solitary as Meissen mutable bodies violations of humanity stocked for future recall and memory yet discarded invisible broken and rendered gas in a fire. Dacha porcelain melted through malleable corrupted expedient obedience.
Set in a case intact still and caught in hubris and artful connectivity. Light shades it’s luminous transparency. A balance is found. Memory invoked. No story told. Ideas flow. Here are examples of the Porcelain on display and in this place is taken the viewer elsewhere without delving into specific references.

October 24th 1777
A true Genius will always Remember
to Leave a Space – unwritten – to Come in
Contact with the wax or wafer – by which
Means – the Reader Escapes – half an hours
Puzzle to Make out a Sentence – & Ever
while you live – never Omit – no –
not – that – what! – what! – dates! – dates! –
am not I a Grocer? –
pun the 2d –

The daily choices determined your mood and discard elements of the past lurking in the shadows of the day’s past. Those days recall the spaces left empty.

Magic is before you still as the ever-present it looks to you and asks what it means for you to take it in. Thus the art is realised. Somewhere a forgotten energy stored is released and summons you to the garden. It is earth stood on it is a thin veil of crust over a molten melting furnace we inhabit. Those metals surge to meet us and the conglomerate spells of their integrity allow the freedom to explore ourselves.

Here are some titles – they are random like a memory.

No. 7 October 22d 1778
My Dr friend
have you never – beheld – a Bust with
double – no! – not double – but with
two Very diferent profiles – one Crying
& one Laughing – thats just my
Situation at Present – for poor
De Groote – huzza – is Presented to
the Charter house – by – Bless him –
the good Arch XXXX Bishop of Canterbry,
but, by a standing law, he can not be
admitted till a Fresh Quarter begins –
& as he says – he may be dead by that
time – we will hope not – well this is
the Laughing Side. – The Duke of
Queensberry died this morning –
alas – ‘I ne’er shall look upon his like again’

the Clearest Head & Humanest of Hearts
I have – in common with many –
many – a Heavy loss – I loved the
good Duke – & not without Reason –
he is Gone to Reap a Reward – that
St Paul could not Conceive – in the
flesh – & which I will be bold to
say – they both – Perfectly
Enjoy – at this moment. God
of his Mercy Grant – that thee & I,
& all I love – yea & all I know
may Enter Eternity with as promising
hopes – & Realize the Happiness – in store
for such as the Duke of Queensberry

Far from the element of truth is the offer of alternatives equally valid and worth consideration. It is why the pages are filled with narrative in our daily lives and completion for new thoughts materialised as conjunctions in science discovery or rationally deduced revision is found in the capsule of a moment in time and then the dialogue moves on. This art is a message in that context. Colouring the past is cumulative and expansive in its scope. The offer made is to unearth your own archeological logic of existence.

Colouring The Past – 5 Feb to 31 Mar
Exhibition, Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI)
in Belfast.

An exhibition by Antico

Influenced by both the colours of ancient manuscripts and the vivid emotions of jazz, this unique exhibition brings together twenty two works which span twenty two years of output from this artist. The music that influenced the artistic practice will play during the opening event.

Antico has studied archives and artefacts across the world and drawn upon this experience to imagine a sense of the past. Our concept of the past offers us the opportunity to reflect upon history on a more personal level. What can this body of work tell us now?

Venue: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland, 2 Titanic Boulevard, Titanic Quarter, Belfast BT3 9HQ

QUEEN STREET STUDIOS BLOOMFIELD AVENUE

Emergence III Is the third iteration/showcase of recent graduates from Belfast School of Art facilitated by QSS
New start
The Graduate degree show put together at QSS Queen Street Studios is located within the new premises acquired over last year and shows also its heft under the fragile spaces artists within a sector very short on resources and is a very good taster of work unfolding. Their; QSS, helping other artists is just a token and sign of the reservoir of good functioning practice within the local art community. ‘Joy for humans lies in human actions; kindness to others, contempt of the senses, the interrogation of appearances, observation of nature and of events in nature.’ Marcus Aurelius. Some of these boxes are already ticked here.

17 artists are on show. Works vary from Silkscreen prints, Acrylics on Canvas, Oil paintings, mixed media including soap, embroidery, some recycling and a small but very thorough working of Sculptural themes which I set about writing first given they gained my interest most.

Sculpture
Fantastical, celebratory, lighthearted and evocative are some of the other boxes ticked. In the centre of the main room is a water closet. It sits in a white container gridded with black lines and it spills as the Trevi fountain or the Peeing cherub the pure aqua normally associated with cleansing, so an opposite act is in is circulated and no overflowing content is uncontained. The overflow is circulated and no overflowing content is uncontained. A paradox of a loo.

Leoni Hill Why is this failing?

There is a section of floor where a carefully curated set of (paper) banana skins. Decorated and plain on the plane of the floor making a forest of little yellow hills. Like an aspect of a terrain visited and a banana republic is happened upon this is a bit of a confounding mystery to some. Asked what the the bananas were about the best instant reaction was, ‘About £2 a kilo.’ Somehow it may cost more in time.

For some unknown reason I happened to think the room was containing objects and a collection of art that were speaking to each other. Not to overdo the sense I was struck by how for example the work was a course of art development and we were looking at the present form of expression and how this generation or group were seeing the volume of, the globe of, nature of art and its ability to convey an interest or view. Very few pieces if any failed in that respect.

The most interesting work and I saw it in the RUA 2019/2020 show was Lens II which is so delicately realised and fine tuned it will adapt to whatever situation it finds itself in. Though it would be wise to keep it away from natural sunlight in case it’s lenses ignite a combustible material it might focus on.

Aimee Nelson Lens Structure 2

The exhibition has more sculpture and it is worth attention. With this work by Paddy McKeown an example of making magic from simple shapes. This time a cone.

The many paintings on display are across a spectrum of approaches with pattern often appearing and the emergence of the stylised Hockney type openness to figurative abstraction immersed in colour. Without the Californian weather. An intelligence of culture and political immobility is captured or occasionally alluded to. The lack of prescriptive dialogue is a sign of carefully avoiding a rhetoric or belonging in a timeframe. The acuteness of single works is evident in many pieces, the accurate vision of natural landscapes as recomposed in singular visions is a frequent art narrative and is continued here.

I liked the work of Anna Horathova who along with her sister are working in fine art photography and other mediums. This photograph is taken in Kiltonga Woods Newtownards. It is a beautiful atmospheric paper print.

Here are some very nice pieces of work proving it is hard to distinguish or correlate a critical view on anything as there is much to be absorbed and much to find in the future from these works.

Something to rest your head on.

All views are merely opinion and hopefully are an insight to the works here shown.

John Graham

14 February 2020

Belfast

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Modigliani Female Nude 1916 : UMNI exhibit

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The Ulster Museum is Home to the Courtauld Institute owned Female Nude 1916 by Modigliani for several months and is currently on display on Level 4. until Oct 28 2018.

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In situ

In 1916 Amedeo Modigliani made his mark on the roll call of innovative painters and artists by discovering for himself a means of reaching beyond the normal day to day portrayal of figures and in observing their forms and persona.  His breakthrough was immense and it presided alongside other expressionist painters as signalling their forging of a method of seeing which hitherto had been associated with the primitive art of African or Tribal representation, themselves suggestions of nation or people in the essence of their existence, in the moment to be taken as informative of them and the way they saw themselves.

 

 

There were several parallel ongoing pursuits of these ‘laws of lawless art.’  The extent to which Modigliani was alone in achieving a breakthrough of this magnitude is a debate matching infinity.  Races singled out the line and drew on walls or on pottery, or paper symbols of the most interesting thing around them, themselves. The human shape and deportment became a goal of self realisation and the life force found was firstly lent in these simple lines as a record alongside animals and adornments while they often were seen sans clothes or with few garments.  It became their projection and mirror.

 

 

Beyond the Western ideal and sanctuary of patronage and mostly hierarchal societal record including the religious there was a necessary alteration by the twentieth century, of placing a fresh editorial gaze on the act of seeing humans and how they inhabit a picture throwing new light literally on the viewers perceived recited notions of self and arts role in life.  Some later exponents went beyond this as indeed did the practioners themselves.  Picasso became an obsessive and many would say a misogynist which is see often in his work.

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F. E. McWilliam’s Gallery Banbridge Co. down. Glass cabinet image.

Level 4

The precious object that is Modigliani Female nude 1916 is in a small room of the Ulster Museum for a short period and the high Victorian windows are draped partially with protective white cloth filtering the streams of daylight found illuminating the pictures within.  The filter works and the natural light is subdued. The daylight lamps of the artificial supplementary light is carefully graded in its presence allowing the vivid colour and individuality of this work to convey its communicative self to the viewer.  Many have been and return to see it time and again because there is no solitary promised answer in reading the painting and it is continually rich in its candid figurative depiction.

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You can see a window reflected in the glass protection of the painting top left.

Other paintings such as the O’Brien do not have glass only canvas and paint between it and the viewer.

What is seen is a figure of a female regards but not regarding by returning a look. She is in a pose which neither is common or contrived.  The purpose of line is a first engagement this painter makes with his model figure. She is neither a form meant to reveal a representative body or shape of a female but is a woman whose occupation or purpose is to lead the painter towards the aim of finding a means of conveying more than the body as a form but to imbibe an essence of a human who happens to have the appealing form of a woman in her full force of life.

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Woman’s Head. Artist:Amedeo Modigliani (Italian, Livorno 1884–1920 Paris)
Date:1912. Medium:Limestone
Dimensions:26 7/8 × 6 1/4 × 9 1/2 in. (68.3 × 15.9 × 24.1 cm)
Weight: 75 lb. (34 kg), Classification:Sculpture
Credit Line:The Mr. and Mrs. Klaus G. Perls Collection, 1997

By the time Modigliani has reached this point in his life he has tried his first love, sculpture but like many artists before him it did not lend him its mystery to enable his thoughts to come out in those three dimensions.

 

In 1909, after meeting Constantin Brancusi, Modigliani began to produce sculptures by carving into stone, completing about twenty-five works throughout his short career. The style of these abstracted, elongated heads is echoed in his subsequent figure and portrait paintings. Fittingly, this particular head, with its strong connection to African sculpture, was originally owned by the American artist and African art collector Frank Burty Haviland. Haviland lived in France and Modigliani became familiar with his collection. In addition to African art, Modigliani’s sculptures reflect his knowledge of ancient Cycladic, Sumerian, Egyptian, and Greek art.  Met Museum text.

The Romanian Brancusi was a favourite and revered friend of Modigliani and the connection is not lost in the application of visual effects as one is now finding the essence of his work accessed through the simple device of line on one plane.

Simple it maybe but it is incalculably intimate in its dynamic.

Painting dynamics

The piece is regarded as having an unorthodoxy in art taking it back to the primordial instinctive throwback beyond the renaissance and challenged th mores of the world of patronage of the arts while taking out the sensuous and sexualised component and objective servile diminished role played elements often seen band depicted previously in the horizontal form that feminine objectivity Picasso had shown ‘the regard as thief of the jewels of womanhood in his Les Demoiselles d’Avignon.

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Les Demoiselles d’Avignon. Painting by Pablo Picasso and a Photo by David Bailey

That regard in Les Demoiselles d’Avignon being sent back with spades to the viewer looking into the collective as a band of protective women creating a homogeneous foil and asking questions of the one who seeks insight of them/selves.

Life

At the age of 35 Amedeo Modigliani became the victim of Tuberculosis and died following his earlier periods of poor health. With his frailty he was occupied in hiding the illnesses he had succumbed to by the apparent act of concealment through drug abuse and alcoholism.  In order to appear as someone whose outward demeanor may have been taken as a consequence of the behaviours of alcohol and drug consumption among his fellow artists he nevertheless was in a worse state of decline than those afflictions might have has on him.  He was know as a poetic and romantic womanizer with his personality and health possibly driving him to those distractions.

The painting

In the models flesh tones are seen the blue faint covering of the ground where his technique has built up, through modifications and layers, a semi transparency as flesh is seen damaged and slightly coarse having it seems been achieved by hard bristles and Amedeo stabbing and stippling of the bodies fleshy tones.  It is not overly done as the blue tinges are apparent beneath. Also the belly is raised by the luminousity of a white globe of her stomach giving another view and state of fecundity.

White is found in the left arm in the elbow crevice and I took that to signify and it probably is not!, vitiligo as the meaning of her vulnerable working body might be found lacking in minerals and vitamins out of a poor diet. A kind of symbolism entering. Then there are other ‘marks’ and these are widely accepted, as the appear in the lower parts of the painting due to studio carelessness.

They add, do not detract from the vitality and energy coming through the painting. This is itself a derivation of a style which an artist displaying his continued and unsettled enjoyment of his own work is temporarily in a state of transition and wondering where on the next canvas abrushes mark should be made.

The production of his ‘muse’ through this nude figure is strikingly provocative in that it undermines the stasis and unsettles by its uncompromising frankness and the perfect non sexual overtones but the strength of the woman’s body as human strongly over arching the whole of the notion of ourselves as species.

How extraordinarily perceptive and resolved this work has become in complete conflict with its dynamic and continual motion and emotional projection. This surely must have been a component in Amedeo‘s sense of himself as an artist despite his longing to be a sculptor he had reached further than his peers and created a new radicalism in acceptance of flawed beauty in painting.

There is undoubtedly life in this painting after its seemingly resolved completion. It disowns tranquility, it abhors looking as a sexualised object, it resents the act of being regarded, it shows its point of belonging in human form. There seems to be an act disassociated of itself from its locality in the composed space by the organisation of the blue ground which in the higher part is more consistent and less disturbed than the lower segment implying a wall and floor where the red couch is protected in a vague white soiled sheet just visible beneath the buttocks of the model and affording some protection in its placement.

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My sketch pastel begins! A2.  The next stage is at the foot.

The Painting & Paint colour

What if it were a drawing and without ‘colour’?  I imagined it as firstly about the act of line drawing which it has a distinctive attribute. Then I posited the thought that ‘colour’ is only an embellishment. The rendering to produce light and share dynamics. This is a very wrong attitude with which to approach it.

The form of light and shadows is fully realised, in black and white by modern photographers such as one who put this above all other considerations, David Bailey.

The conquest is seeing what the light produces but Bailey’s work is akin to drawing, being in black and white.  Here in this painting the evolution from the line element takes many side moves.  The hair in the left is seen having been taken in, maybe a bulk of hair existed formerly and was painted back; it certainly appears that way, to effect the outlines flow rather than truly represent it and the right hand, possibly present and visible at one point, is kept hidden to achieve the flow of the line.

Then there is the mystery or discarding of a primary light point.  There is only the front universal point of light which negates reasoning as to where shadow is found. The paint itself is the shading element and it’s texture the convenience delivered by brush marks and of a sharp gouging effected in the hair for example giving that plural feeling of it having neither a source but being in sculptural form a third dimension advancing with movement. Under a kind of universal light.

Perfectly flawed it is a hard act to follow and this is as I opined earlier a feature I believe which gave impetus and cause for Amedeo to produce further and more challenging work.

The maturity of the return to painting in a further simplified and reduction of marks is seen in his later work as he is vexed by the ‘treatments’ and beautiful wonderous lines of centuries before and the earlier, the more profound, its own examination rewarded him in discovery.

Additions

A year or so ago I wrote this on the predicament of the model whose anonymity is transparent as she is neither the object of the completed work nor a character assumed from the past. The aloneness and emptiness is striking now when I think of the Modigliani pursuit of his art when consumed by this painting.

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Some negative aspects relating to the curation.

If there are some criticisms of the room and it’s interpretation of the lineage and common approaches to be made, it is the use of very tenuous art held by the Gallery in its own collection as a stark contrasting difference.  The delivery is failing in many places. Using the ‘theme’ of the model is the route taken, not the act of the mark and the line.  The servile component of life modeling is a trope and not what the painting is primarily about.  Ratifying it by using a ‘portrait’ by a local artist even a twentieth century one is laying claim to small connections.  So what if the artist in the glass mosaic is featured herself within the work shown?

Being in the work as model is neither near or revelatory in the nakedness sense giving a threadbare tribute?  To artists, imagined scoping is outside the context and in fact a distraction of quite harmful presence.  There is in the ‘life model’ comparisons, only one showing the contrast between a vertical nude and horizontal nude; the latter being the previous approach taken all through and since the renaissance.  A wandering connection again is made and it is a mighty problematic one, conflicting and not a complementary distraction.

In the O’Brien Life model with a barely visible child, as with the laundry woman, there is no substantive connection whatsoever in setting it alongside, in the room as a ‘relief’ of emphasis or anything else.  An allusion is taken in respect of ‘women in 1918’ which is quite facile and out of kilter with the main work.  This phenomenon goes back centuries and still exists.  It is wholly utilised in this way I find, because of what the UM has in its collection and is clutching at straw metaphors.

The best thing to do is to ignore the room’s additional works and concentrate on the immensity of the work and avoid this distracting padding.  The abstraction of colour and choices made to effect a flow had gone missing in all other work. I found myself sketching one, the face below for example, merely to find the quality of line. I also looked at the effect of a pastel line drawing on blue paper to see the effect of the colours magic within the painting and it is obvious the line and oil is a combination which is spectacularly successful here because of it’s transparency, luminosity, roughness and eveness in parts as handled and dispersed here.

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It ended up as this.  I believe the reason it became so different and colour, which is such an incredible thing to realise in seeing the actual painting with the blue and flesh tones coming out at you from the canvas means it needed something entirly different in approach when using something other than oil paint.  This is pastel on an A3 size pastel textured blue sheet.

John Graham

3 July 2018

Belfast

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