'Finding the Cool Place on the Pillow': British Contemporary Abstraction
'Finding the Cool Place on the Pillow':
British Contemporary Abstraction
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Frank Bowling, Richard Deacon, Gary Hume, Anish Kapoor, Christopher Le Brun, Sarah Morris
This online presentation explores abstraction through the printed medium. It covers a wide range of techniques that best suit each artist’s temperament: Christopher Le Brun uses woodcut for the physical primacy it offers; Sarah Morris screenprint for its crisp lines; Kapoor etching to achieve extraordinary colour modulations.
The presentation also includes blockprints by Richard Deacon from his most recent series ‘Cinema’. These large scale textured works are inspired by visits to the artist’s local cinema in the 70s and 80s when he lived in Brixton, South London. Another recent project included is Christopher Le Brun series ‘Ideas of March, an ambitious project of in total 13 sets of woodcuts that were proofed throughout the spring of 2019.
Above Image: Christopher Le Brun, Ideas of March XI (v)
The configuration of the space and the entrance doors, which had two glass porthole like panels in them, - the front door to the cinema itself were mostly glass - meant that at night, particularly in winter, lights from the traffic coming down the hill of Acre Lane opposite threw moving patterns across the screen (which was not curtained). Waiting for the film to start I’d just watch these shapes shifting across the screen. Of course it’s all very Platonic to think about them, but it’s the memory of those shifting and unfocussed patterns that spurred the drawings and the prints.
The question I set myself was how to make the most straightforward prints out of what I habitually do, such as cutting, pressing and covering. Ordinary actions which in themselves feel already dense with implication. These prints were made deliberately to stand outside today’s context of overwhelming digital sophistication and technical possibility which holds little interest for me. Stravinsky called it “finding the cool place on the pillow”.
When the methods (a musician might say instrumentation) are so pared down, the lines, colours and shapes, reveal their mystery more freely. It is as if they become more compelling by not being interfered with. Colour then speaks to colour and shape to shape amongst themselves. It’s enough! It’s like looking instead for something foundational, timeless and lucid by attempting to uncover the etymology of a familiar word. Words and even the significance concealed within actions become tired and invisible by overuse. I have rediscovered them for myself - by barely trying.
-Christopher Le Brun
Frank Bowling OBE was born in Guyana in 1934 and moved to London in 1953. He studied at the Royal College of Art and has studios in both London and New York. In 2005 Bowling became the first black artist to become a Member for the Royal Academy of Art and in 2008 he was awarded an OBE for his Services to art. His work combines screenprint imagery, with maps and faces regularly featuring, and abstract pourings of colour.
Richard Deacon CBE, born in Wales in 1949 studied at St Martin’s School of Art, the Royal College of Art and Chelsea School of Art. Deacon was the Turner Prize winner in 1987, was awarded a CBE in 1999 and represented Wales at the Venice Biennale in 2007. He primarily works in abstract sculpture though he refers to himself as a ‘fabricator’ rather than ‘sculptor’. He constructs works with everyday materials such as laminated wood, corrugated iron and foam.
Gary Hume, born in Kent 1962 studied at Goldsmiths College during which his works were exhibited at Freeze, an exhibition organised by Damien Hirst in 1988. He represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1999 and was nominated for the turner prize in 1996. He is best known for his stylized depictions of everyday objects using high-gloss household paints.
Anish Kapoor CBE, was born in Mumbai in 1954 and moved to London in the 70s to study at Hornsey College of Art and Chelsea School of Art. Kapoor represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1990 and received the Turner Prize in 2002. He is known for his conceptual sculptures, notable public works include ‘Cloud Gate’ aka The Bean in Chicago and ‘Sky Mirror’ exhibited at the Rockefeller Center.
Christopher Le Brun is a painter, printmaker and sculptor. Born in Portsmouth in 1951 he trained at the Slade and Chelsea Schools of Art, London. Elected to the Royal Academy of Arts in 1996, he became the first ever Professor of Drawing. He was subsequently elected President from 2011-2019. His work is characterised by an adherence to the essential values of touch, light, space and colour while maintain a questioning and strongly individual stance in relation to contemporary art history. (edited from Le Brun’s website)
Sarah Morris was born in Kent, England in 1967. She currently lives and works in New York. Morris studied at Brown University, Cambridge and at the Whitney Museum Independent Study Program. She is a painter and a filmmaker whose works are focused on different cities and investigations into urban architecture. Her paintings typically feature bright colours in abstract graphic forms.