Art of the Day: Lynn Chadwick, ‘Maquette III High Wind (801)’

  August 24th, 2014

 
 
 
 
Chadwick 
 
      Lynn Chadwick (British, 1914–2003)
       Maquette III High Wind (801), Edition of 9, number 3, 1980
       Metal & bronze sculpture

 
 
 
 
Chadwick 
 
      Lynn Chadwick (British, 1914–2003)
       Maquette III High Wind (801), Edition of 9, number 6, 1980
       Metal & bronze sculpture

 
 
 
 
     Above are two different versions of British sculptor Lynn Chadwick’s “Maquette III High Wind (801)” from 1980 (#3 & #6, respectively, of an edition of 9). I like these austere, dangerous bodies. Just as the title suggests, we have the sharp gust from behind blowing her garment forward. The wind is nothing to her: her spine is erect, her head proud, her legs in mid-walk in one of the versions, steady stanced in the other. Her head in fact has been transformed to axe-blade or hook-barb, giving her steady advance some martial menace. Look at the top shot: the twin corridors of her gusted dress look like shotgun barrels.
 
 
 
 
 
 

MORE INFO:

For more information about Chadwick’s work, please check out lynnchadwick.com as well as this NY Times article.



[Posted by SnailCrow on August 24, 2014]

Comments

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| sculpture ]







Art of the Day: William Adolphe Bouguereau, ‘Jeune Fille et Enfant’ (Girl with a Child) (1877)

  August 23rd, 2014

 
 
 
 
Bouguereau 
 
      William Adolphe Bouguereau (French, 1825 – 1905)
       Jeune Fille et Enfant (Girl with a Child), 1877
       Oil on canvas

 
 
 
 
     I don’t often post on figurative art of this era, but this piece commanded my attention when I was browsing my sources this morning. Bouguereau was apparently a very in-demand portraitist and figure painter in his time, and I can see why. It’s not the technique, which he has in spades. What’s more striking to me are the emotions at play, both direct & subtle: the watchful child with his big dark soulful eyes, the child’s relaxed right hand in contrast to his wary gaze; the way the mother is clutching the child to herself; her limpid, slightly sorrowful, spellbinding eyes; her mouth on the verge of any number of emotions. I can’t take my eyes off this painting. I feel cleansed beholding it.
 
 
 
 
 
 

MORE INFO:

For more information about Bouguereau’s paintings, please check out www.bouguereau.org as well as adolphe-bouguereau.tumblr.com.



[Posted by SnailCrow on August 23, 2014]

Comments

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| paintings/drawings ]







Art of the Day: Various by Adam Birtwistle (2002 – 2012)

  August 22nd, 2014

 
 
 
 
birtwistle 
 
      Adam Birtwistle (British, b. 1959)
       David Hockney, RA, 2002
       Tempera and gouache on linen paper

 
 
 
 
birtwistle 
 
      Adam Birtwistle
       Mr Jambon, 2012
       Tempera and gouache on linen paper

 
 
 
 
birtwistle 
 
      Adam Birtwistle
       Victoria, 2012
       Tempera and gouache on linen paper

 
 
 
 
birtwistle 
 
      Adam Birtwistle
       Cherie Blair, 2012
       Tempera and gouache on linen paper

 
 
 
 
 
     I just discovered the work of British artist Adam Birtwistle. The above examples are representative of what I’ve seen of his recent work — powerful portraits of disarming, bleak frankness often venturing into the unflattering or outright ugly. His style is furry, meticulously smudgy, smartly vague in places (creating patches of mystery and confusion in his subjects’ faces); at other times it’s naive & child-like & reminiscent of folk art — he’s highly effective in either mode. His subjects are typically positioned bottom-center, engulfed in a dark-colored void, often black, above and around them. This has the simultaneous effect of rendering them innefectual, shabby — but also unreal and powerful, like undead sentries watching & smirking from the dark tunnel of worlds’ end.
     Frequently his backgrounds feature, like ghostly wallpaper, spare line drawings of animals or other figures & objects which sometimes are clearly related to the subject (take the case of his portrait of Malcolm Luther King [not included here], which features a slave ship behind him), & which sometimes bear no clear relationship to the subject at all. Mostly he depicts historical and contemporary figures, but at times, as in the case of Mr Jambon (above), the subject’s real-world counterpart, if any, remains obscure.
     I love his work. You feel quietly guided through a backdoor of the soul of his subjects, through & under brambles and shadows which most portraits rarely approach. His charming, splotchy, scratchy style (especially around the eyes and mouth — check Jambon for instance, or Hockney’s right eye) makes his subjects murmur and tremble, on the verge of many simultaneous emotions. His humor adds one more vital ingredients to his paintings’ complex, potent affect: whether its the saggy indeterminacy of Queen Victoria’s garments, the beady little eyes he paints in so many of his pieces, his subject’s occasional stray unkempt hairs, or his decision to dress many of his modern-day subjects in medieval-esque garb (seek out Jessye Norman’s [not included here]). These are humans somehow both fully revealed in their clownish, pocked, un-idealized fleshliness, and also capable of arresting our attention with old, silent, cold powers and secrets.

 
 
 
 
 
 

MORE INFO:

For more information about Adam Birtwistle’s paintings, please check out www.piano-nobile.com as well as artrabbit.com.



[Posted by SnailCrow on August 22, 2014]

Comments

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| paintings/drawings ]







Art of the Day: Jess Barnett’s ‘Crash’ (2014)

  August 21st, 2014

 
 
 
 
jess barnett 
 
      Jess Barnett
       Crash, 2014
       Acrylic ink and pencil on canvas, 18″ x 24″, inspired by the 2014 plane crash at Hanscom Air Field

 
 
 
 
 
     The painting is “Crash” (2014) by Massachusetts-based artist Jess Barnett. I respond immediately to this piece’s stark, tense, violent energy. Leaving the title & inspiration out of the picture (which is of course impossible, but doing my best here to just focus on the pure visual elements), the painting owes much of its emotional power to its unusual compositional & formal elements, as well as its indeterminate, shifting associations.
     Let’s consider the formal ingredients first: the vertical blue-gray, brisk brushstrokes of the background, punched through by three thin, black & red lines. The lines are in turn blotted by four different color shapes, each of which establish themselves with unsettling 3-D presence against the rest of the painting’s ether. The first thing that strikes me here, formally, are the vectors. We have the upward & “inward” vector of the three dark lines, tridenting forward. We have the downward & upward vectors of the background. We have the circular motions of the two blue blotches below. And we have the red gelatin cylinder pointing top-left, while the brown-blue sea cucumber points to the top-right, each crossing one or more of the 3 lines, their orientations creating angles with each. Finally, there are punctuating bright blood dot sprays on either side of the three lines that keep the eye sweeping from side to side. For a piece with just a few elements of subject matter, that’s a lot of motion & interest, very well economized, and when you add in the title and the blood-red colors and the suggestion of a road or smoke or guts, you have not only motion, and uncertainy, and multiplicity, but all that stuff plus suffering, pain and death. A potent, mysterious concentration which in ways is reminiscent of the disembodied works of Bacon.
     Composition aside, the painting makes me imagine and see many things (again, leaving aside the title and inspiration, responding purely to the visual content). Many things I can’t even name. To start with what I can describe: I like how the three lines seem to create a perspective, and begin to situate the action in a tangible universe: it’s as if we’re seeing a rainy road stretching into fog. Or it could be a pair of slightly bloodied, emaciated legs, feet disappearing into water, or some other substance. Or it could be just lines, disembodied and not establishing 3D-ness at all. But just when it seems like you’re looking at some kind of flat configuration of shapes, there’s something about the way the color blots, the vertical stroke sky, the blue-gray filling in the lines’ spaces near the bottom, and the lines themselves which all exist to create a nervous visceral energy, one that shifts back and forth between a 3-D depiction and a 2-D one. Example: that red presence is sometimes a well sculpted blotch, other times a kind of small, tangible boutique dessert shop blood-flan. Or a dense truncated cone of plasma. The topmost shape is sometimes a 2D spiral cable, but sometimes it leaps out at you: smoke, fresh coil of intestine, alien organ.
     A troubling piece that moves deeply with its stark, careful visual language.
 
 
 
 
 
 

MORE INFO:

For more information about Jess Barnett’s paintings, please check out jessbarnett.com.



[Posted by SnailCrow on August 21, 2014]

Comments

[file under: ART OF THE DAY ||| paintings/drawings ]