Thursday, 20 October 2011

Rothko at Whitechapel Gallery in photographs.

In 1961 the Whitechapel Gallery held a ground breaking exhibition of Rothko’s paintings. Following a Jackson Pollock exhibition in 1958 at the same gallery the effect on art in Britain was profound. Sandra Lousada captured the mood in a series of mostly black and white photographs as the public absorbed the new world of Abstract Expressionism. The Whitechapel Gallery currently has a room dedicated to examining the exhibition in photographs, letters and other documents. There is also one large Rothko – Light Red over Black, 1957

After visiting the frenzy of Frieze Art Fair 2011 at Regent’s Park the photographs of the original Rothko exhibition show a slight shock and quiet reverence towards the canvases.

Until 26th February 2012, Whitechapel Gallery, E1.

Photograph by Sandra Lousada.

Photograph by Sandra Lousada.

Photograph by Sandra Lousada.

Photograph by Sandra Lousada.

Photograph by Sandra Lousada.

Sunday, 16 October 2011

Art, Sculpture and Film at Frieze Art Fair 2011

Amongst the huge amount of work on display one piece stood out for me. At the Frith Street Gallery was Cornelia Parker’s 30 Pieces of Silver (With Reflection), 2003 . A beautiful, thought provoking and quite mesmerising work. The metamorphosis of the pieces after the have been crushed flat was fascinating as they were side by side with the original. The whole piece floats mid air like a giant Madhatters Tea Party without the guests.

A close second was a film by Ben Rivers called This Is My Land, 2006 following a hermit like man who lives in a forest. Shot in black and white with many scenes covered in deep snow there is a stillness  and sensitivity which pervades. The sound echoes this, with each crunch of a footstep in the snow. The film has a meditiative effect and shown in a small roughly built shed was an oasis of calm amongst all the go-getters of the artworld preening and schmoozing outside.

Properly outside was the Sculpture Park which was open to the public and felt relaxed compared to the uptight nature of 173 galleries squeezed together in a giant marquee. An opportunity for everyone to wander, sit and appreciate art in the open.

Circle Dance 201 by Tom Friedman (Stephen Friedman Gallery)
Seer (Alice 11) 2005 by Kiki Smith (Timothy Taylor Gallery)

Icon 2011 by Will Ryman (Paul Kasmin Gallery)

Photography at Frieze Art Fair London 2011

Photography at Frieze Art Fair is represented by some major galleries but in terms of quantity it is fairly low amongst the huge amount of art on display. There is photography exhibited by galleries based in Eastern Europe, Russia and India but overall the quality is uneven and it is the household names in the art world who dominate.

Andreas Gursky exhibits at Spruth Magers showing Dubai World 111, 2008. It has the hallmark of other Gursky work, large in scale, big on statement. It represents mans desire to recreate the landscape but at the same time recreate the world. It’s the type of work well suite dto a world where money washes around but the current climate of economic downturn calls for a different approach. As an artist it will be interesting to see where he goes next, having nailed his colours firmly to the mast of capitalist imagery full of consumption on a huge scale.

Dubai World 111, 2008. Andreas Gursky.

In contrast the work of Wolfgang Tillmans deals with phtography in a quieter, smaller way that feels more relevant and contemporary. Abstract work is represented here by Freischwimmer 190, at Maureen Paley, an image created in the darkroom full of poetry, mystery and also a lurking darkness that remains unknown and unresolved. Two more traditional photographs are exhibited at Galeria Juana de Aizpuru. In Flight Astro 11, 2010 merges the graininess and texture of film and pixellated nature of stars and constellation which together creates a surface pattern that shows both seamlessly linked together in union. Sunset Reflected, 2007 is straightforward enough but mixes darkness with Autumn melancholy and finally bright cloud – almost three landscapes within one, unsure of what they are meant to be.

In Flight Astro 11, 2010 (left) Sunset Reflected, 2007 (right)

Five black and white Robert Mapplethorpe prints were a delight to see. Marcus, 1978 and Peter Berlin, 1976 are beautifully sensitive portraits of young men full of vulnerability and honesty. Knowing how the community was going to be devastated by the AIDS epidemic makes them even more poignant. Haunting. 

Peter Berlin, 1976. Robert Mapplethorpe.

At a similar time Nan Goldin was in New York photographing the life of Cookie Mueller following her slow demise as an actress addicted to heroin. A series of 15 images claws away at her mask of hair and make up as she resists the surgical questions of the camera. It’s a battle she finally lost in April 1989. The work of these two artists reaffirms the strenth of photography to document but also to probe, question and reveal. Maybe it’s the work of people such as Mapplethorpe and Goldin who point us in the direction that art photography will go in the next few years. After years of being grand and oversized maybe it’s time to be intimate and personal again.

Sunday, 9 October 2011

Early Photoform

Copyright : Ed Sykes 2008
One of the first Photoforms I did. Somewhere between 30-45 second exposure.