Review: Picasso 1932 - Love, Fame, Tragedy at the Tate Modern

The Tate Modern’s PR team write that the ‘myths around Picasso will be stripped away to reveal the man and the artist in his full complexity and richness. You will see him as never before.’ And yet, you don’t see so much of Picasso ‘stripped away’ than his young lover, Marie-Thérèse Walter, who was only 17 when she met Picasso, then aged 46. For Aistè Ga, my gallery partner for the day, this turned Picasso into less of a genius and more of a flailing, finite man

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D.S. Graham
REVIEW: John Copeland's Your Heaven Looks Just Like My Hell

The Times' Waldemar Januszczak notes that Hirst is playing the kingmaker. Copeland, then, is one of the first to be coronated. His works featured alongside the likes of Tracey Emin, Jeff Koons, and Richard Hamilton in Selected works from the Muderme collection in Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery. He has returned to the venue for his first solo UK exhibition, Your Heaven Looks Just Like My Hell which explores the ‘act of looking’ through obstruction, tricks of perspective, and hidden imagery. It is a natural starting point for an artist who views realistic painting as ‘too straight’. 

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Barney Trimble
Matthew Small: Material Humanism through Benjamin

Matthew Small isn’t so much a flâneur as a magpie: ‘that oven door, that shelving unit, that piece of trash to someone…’ He crafts persons’ portraits from these ‘found’ scrap-pieces. Often, they’re overlaid with riotous layers of colourful paint. How to respond? ‘We’re always more than the sum of our parts,’ might say the humanists. ‘For there is always something special about the person, who, qua person/individual, transcends their environment and therefore the junk on which their portrait is painted.’ Alternatively, the strict determinists might say that ‘we’re but products of the (urban) environment,’ and the junk-canvas conveys something of late-twentieth century life in the modern metropolis: the strange cycles of treasuring and discarding both persons and things. Small modestly suggests that it’s ‘about me looking at an individual and trying to communicate the idea that that individual is worth something.’ He says that his ‘work is about normal people, it’s about that person on the street and about people who don’t always get observed.’ Walter Benjamin offers an interesting foil for these different interpretations. 

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Daniel Graham
Gregory Mason: Paradoxes in the Paint

Opening Thursday, 5th April and running through 28th April in London, Greg Mason’s solo show of luscious oil paintings at Cass Art Islington, “After Shock”, explores the paradox of aftermath and rebuilding embedded within the paradox of his technical approach. The work in this exhibition focuses on the small town of Farindola in central Italy, which experienced a severe earthquake which, in turn, triggered an avalanche that killed twenty-nine people. In 2017, Mason resided and worked in a home damaged by the tragedy as part of an artist residency in Farindola, providing a cherished insight into the town, its inhabitants, and their altered lives.

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Lauren Amalia Redding
Stella Kapezanou through Adorno: Real People in the Palms of their Holiday.

We’re entitled to twenty-eight days of it a year. More, once we’re retired. Who doesn’t want to ‘recharge the batteries’ or get some ‘rest and relaxation’ before the long slog of work (the other two-hundred-and-sixty-one working days of the year) begin again? Kapezanou, who won the Clyde and Co., Emerging Star Award in 2017, paints people worshipping the deities of Sun, Sand, and Sea. For they’re the new ‘holy’ trinity of the ‘holiday’

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Interesting Artworks: Spotlight Fish Dance by Victoria Horkan

hickly painted canvasses are not a new phenomenon, think of Frank Auerbach, Anselm Keifer, Jackson Pollock and Willem de Kooning. Laden with paint and metal and sand and bright specks of diamond, works like Keifer’s Starfall from 1995 carry the weight of impressions and gestures that seek meaning free from representational convention. Impasto seems too timid an adjective to describe the layers of paint and debris these artists heap onto their canvasses.

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Hana Nihill
The Calligraphy of Mostafa Nourbakhsh

This April, the Contemporary and Modern Art Gallery (CAMA Gallery) will be opening their new premises in London. A welcome addition to London’s renowned international art scene, the new site in St James’ will showcase an array of the finest talent from the Middle East. Already an established presence in Tehran, the CAMA Gallery aims to revolutionise the Iranian art world and open up the market for collectors. With a long roster of talented artists, London based art lovers will finally have the opportunity to view works that have yet to be seen in Britain.

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Ellen Charlesworth
Soulscapes and Success: The Extraordinary Art of Taha Afshar

Taha Afshar’s previous series, Garden of Mystery (2015) and Swedish Landscapes (2015) enjoyed considerable success. In Letting Light In (2016) Afshar returns to the original inspiration for the figurative works of the Garden of Mystery, Mahmud Shabistari’s Gulshan-I Raz (c., 1311) but via the abstraction of Swedish Landscapes. Afshar’s ‘take’ on Shabistari’s poetry interacts and comments upon a Sufi-Western canon stretching from Homer, Plato, and Plotinus contra Ibn Rushd and with Al-‘Arabi and Shabistari all the way to Sigmund Freud, André Breton, and Jacques Lacan. It’s heady, enlightening stuff. Afshar’s Letting Light In doesn’t shy away from the deepest questions that characterise our otherwise inane ‘being’ here, the otherwise absurdity of our life in this cosmos. He’s unafraid to explore that once, there was a command: ‘Let there be Light!’ We’d do well to follow Afshar in Letting Light In.

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D.S. Graham
Interesting Artworks: Laura Footes' The Hunt

Laura Footes’ large-scale pastel drawing, The Hunt (2014), depicts the moment in which a massive hunting party catches a fox. The line of the hunting party surges from the upper right towards the bottom left of the drawing, where the hounds rip apart the fox with such ferocity that only a pit of crimson identifies the prey. In the background, a Brontëan country house hunkers amidst rolling fields. The drawing is deliriously chromatic and abstract in its rendering. Footes’ pastel lines read like neon signs, and she arrays the cool white of the hounds’ coats around the fox like the petals of a carrion blossom. The long line of huntsmen—again, ominously clad in red—leap towards the carnage. This compositional movement prevents the drama from existing in one frozen moment, but rather emphasizes its crescendo. The panoply of colour and energy does not depict triumph, but rather a fever pitch.

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Lauren Amalia Redding
The Global Fine Art Awards, 2018

This year will mark the fourth annual award ceremony and gala of the Global Fine Art Awards. Founded to celebrate the best in curated exhibitions from all over the world, the entries are judged on exhibition design, historical context, educational value and public appeal. The fifteen awards cover a range of categories, from ‘Ancient Art’ to ‘Photography’, and this year the GFAA’s reaffirms its commitment to the international with the new ‘Global Planet’ and ‘Global Humanity’ awards.

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Ellen Charlesworth
At the Violet Hour: Reanimating T.S. Eliot's 'Inviolable Voices'

October 1921. The British poet T. S. Eliot travelled down to Margate to recuperate after suffering a nervous breakdown, buckling under the weight of his failing marriage and the pressure of completing The Waste Land (1922). He’s thought to have drafted ‘The Fire Sermon’, the third section of this work – which would come to represent one of the defining poetic compositions of the Modernist era – in a Victorian seaside shelter, an open timber structure that still stands today, overlooking Nayland Rock. Nearly a century later, an exhibition has opened in the Nayland Rock Hotel (now a Grade II listed building) assembling national and international artists, inspired by the poem and the ‘inviolable voices’ that invest its text, the myriad faces, the stories, the ‘heap of broken images’ that emerge from Eliot’s ‘unreal city’.

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Calum Cockburn
The Rise Art Prize

Rise Art offers the public the opportunity to vote for the winner of the Rise Art People's Choice Award, 2018. They’ve just announced the finalists. We’ve picked out our favourite five—or rather, six—artists from the shortlist. The finalists have been chosen by a team of ‘insiders’ from all over the art world. They include curators such as Rachael Thomas of the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) and Sarah Martin of the Turner Contemporary in Margate; journalists and editors such as Emily Tobin of House and Garden and Beatrice Hodgkin of The Financial Times’ How to Spend It supplement; academics like Jean Wainwright of the University for the Creative Arts (UCA) and, of course, artists such as Anthony Micallef and Bruce Mclean.

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D.S. Graham
Scott Hutchison's Metamorphosis: Superimposed Moments in Time

Hutchison’s Metamorphosis (oil on aluminium) fits perfectly in this context. Two different moments are frozen in a round composition called a Tondo concretise the meaning of metamorphosis that the artist want to suggest. A feminine figure seems to be compressed by the circular form of the painting, but four disembodied hands move freely in the circle and seem to have their own mood.

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Fragmented Memories through Novel Experiences: The Art of Christian Hook

I was very happy with the exhibition at Clarendon Fine Art. I made and interpreted my own artwork from a new perspective, and learned to look at art through different eyes, as if I was someone else. In the process I happened upon a number of interesting concepts which were new to me.”

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Aronson: Fine Art on Wall Street

Ben Aronson’s Wall Street Series (2010) steps back from the politics of Wall Street to offer us a real painter’s view of New York’s famous financial district.

But, why Wall Street? It’s one of the great shibboleths of contemporary politics, economics, and ideology. The famous—or is that, infamous—street that metonymically stands for finance, money, and perhaps, greed. ‘For a painter,’ says Aronson, it’s an ‘incredibly exciting scenario, visually, for paintings in which to present such an emotionally charged inquiry.’ He waxes lyrical of the New York Stock Exchange’s (NYSE) ‘kaleidoscopic lights and screens,’ which made for ‘an amazingly cinematic visual feast.

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D.S. Graham
The Art World through its 10 Costliest Paintings

We’re celebrating the sale of Leonardo da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi for a world-record $450,312,500 (including fees, etc.) at Christie’s (NYC) on 15 November, 2017, with this two-part series examining the contemporary art world through its ten most expensive paintings. In this first part, AAMag explores the concept of ‘provenance’ through the gaps in that of da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi—or is that Bernardino Luini’s or Giovanni Antonio Boltraffio’s? We’ve used de Kooning’s Interchange as an introduction or primer to some of the major players in the contemporary market—you’ve got to know your Geffens from your Griffiths and not just your Boltraffios from your Leonardos! We’ll also examine the major ‘market maker’ that is Qatar’s Al Thani family through their purchase of Cézanne’s The Card Players in 2011; while Gauguin’s Nafea faa ipoipo? allows us to touch upon the early history of Sotheby’s, Christie’s, and Phillips (de Pury); and we’ll finally turn to the surprising relations that link Abstract Expressionism with the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) and the Republican Party through the ideologies of freedom/autonomy and money

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D.S. Graham
Lee Jungwoong: A Brush with Treachery

Lee Jungwoong’s artworks are formidably executed and eminently collectable. His Brush (Plate 5) (2014) is a magnificent example of trompe l’oeil in its deception of the viewer’s eye—we’re entitled to ask: Is this really a painting and not a photograph? Furthermore, Jungwoong’s paintings of paint brushes are, really, appealingly intellectual.

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D.S. Graham
Hank Willis Thomas’ Politics of Sport

Hank Willis Thomas’ artworks have a reputation for critically commenting on the pressing issues of political, black, and social identity that continue to vex and provoke society today. The Beautiful Game at Ben Brown Fine Arts (5th October to 24 November 2017) examines the relationship between these and their wider social forces in relation to sport in a truly global setting.

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Barney Trimble