Saturday 24 September 2011

For Artistic Impact: Shout Loud Or Whisper Softly: Louis Smith's 'Holly', and Matthew Schofield's 'Six Decades'

Went to  the BP Portrait Award 2011 last month and only just got round to blogging, such is rural tinterweb. As usual, was mightily impressed with most entries. Possibly just my perception, but there seemed to be a greater number of realist pieces this year. Technically, flawless, but I got sucked into analysing technique, focussing on detail and brushstroke (or invisibility of brushstroke!), but some of the paintings as a whole, left me cold. I can't really remember a lot of them!

I have two favourites. One shouted One Whispered.

Louis Smith's 'Holly'
'Holly' by Louis Smith was a huge pre-raph style painting, of a naked, ivory skinned beauty, chained to the rocks, inspired by Greek myth Prometheus. Kinda pseudo pre-raphaelite, or post-pre-raphaelite. Parody? Sincere? Anyway I kinda like it. I think it's grandeur is tongue in cheek. Jonathan Jones' review of Louis Smith's 'Holly' terms it as ‎'Retro- academic painting becomes the new outrageous...soft-porn fantasy...' I agree with the retro academic/the new outrageous comment. It's outrageous in size, bold in composition, lighting, the huge, hefty frame is unapologetically lavish, grandiose religious/mythical references. (He also tries to say it has Nazi connotations- I really don't agree...that's reading into it a little too dramatically in a political sense)

The pornography comment though...really?? Jones believes that Holly '...creates a tension between art and pornography...there's something sleazy about it all...' Recently, I've become aware of a lot of people commenting on nudes or sensuality in art as pornography. A lot of the people that seems to be making these comments are males- maybe a coincidence? I don't know, but I'll stick my neck out so far as to say that the people terming a beautiful painting of a nude such as this as porn, is probably due to the fact that they associate the naked body with sex. To me this painting is sensual, her body is beautiful, her vulnerability, the contrast of her soft luminescent skin against the dark, ominous, threatening rocks is epic and romantic in the 19th century sense. Is this because I'm a heterosexual woman? Afterall, audiences view art as individuals, not as a collective with shared backgrounds and beliefs. I don't see it as overtly sexual, its a bit sexy I suppose, but I see it as sensual, kitsch, retrospective and very powerful. Jones believes that 'the urge to dismiss it as kitsch may be a defence mechanism, to avoid confronting its uninhibited sexuality'. Yes, it's sexy in a sensual way. But it's also just very kitsch! Perhaps the urge to dismiss it as porn says more about his perception of the naked body.

Now for the painting that whispered. This piece grabbed me by the heart and squeezed...'Six Decades' by Matthew Schofield, 6 tiny oil on panel works. Very small, 102mm x 737mm. Unassuming, humble and very 'human'. Shows his Dad in family snaps through 6 decades. I really don't think much needs to be said, no point waxing lyrical about its merits, it is not befitting of this piece. It's about one thing. Love.

That's it. So simple. So much love

Matthew Schofields 'Six Decades', Oil on Panel, 102 x 737 mm.
So I guess the lil' trip to the BP Portrait Awards 2011 taught me that artistic impact can be made with the boldest, controversial statements, that are self aware, comment on art history and provoke questions about sexuality. Conversely small pieces that whisper an eternal truth, document a simple thing can really connect with an audience emotionally.

I guess I'll have to start whispering loudly.

Friday 9 September 2011

I've fallen in love with Richard Saja's Work, Embroidered lovers and Freak Shows!

Malice In Wonderland Works (selection)

'Black Butterflies', mixed media on canvas 2011

'The Bats, The Birds and The Beasts', mixed media on canvas, 2011

'The Prestige', mixed media on canvas, 2011

'The Trophy', mixed media on canvas, 2011.

'Utter Destruction As Beauty', mixed media on canvas, 2011.

'Utitled III', mixed media on canvas, 2010.

'The White Rabbit Takes Time Out', mixed media on canvas, 2011.

'Waste Place', mixed media on canvas, 2011.