Overseas…

Portugese Sea, Acrylic on board, 57 x 77 cm. 2020

I thought at this time of appalling embarrassment to be British (through no fault of mine I should add) I ought to find some way of reminding myself that some of us at least remain committed Europeans. So this picture, one of my Lunar Pulls series, just completed might suffice. Named after, and drawing upon, words from the great Portugese poet Fernando Pessoa.

On another – happier – matter, I’m delighted to be part of Enough Is Definitely Enough where a large roster of artists have been marshalled by the estimable Andrew Bracey to celebrate the great Velásquez. There’s a crowdfunded to produce a catalogue – why not chip in and bag yourself a reward?

Enough Already…

As we start to whoosh through 2019 (I can’t quite believe we’re in February already) I realise that my way of making work makes for an uncomfortable feeling of dread…

The endless prevarications could see me shuffling off this mortal coil without completing some of my many projects unless I get my digit extracted!  For a while, 2 or 3 years back, I instigated a schedule for the year ahead to be sure of getting through work with some discipline, and it worked to a degree though inevitably crumbling a bit at the back end of each year.  

Enough is Definitely Enough poster

And then the unexpected comes up to further disrupt things.  Of course one can (and occasionally does) turn them aside.  But some are just too intriguing to disregard.  So it was with Enough is Definitely Enough another fascinating and compelling project from Andrew Bracey.

I’ll let him explain: 

Over 40 contemporary artists have made new artworks in response to a postcard version of Velázquez’s masterpiece, Las Meninas for an exhibition at General Practice in Lincoln. Enough is Definitely Enough’ which opens on 30 March and runs to 13 April, features a huge variety of different artistic responses to the Spanish painter’s masterpiece – arguably the most widely interpreted of all paintings.

Art Historian Daniel Arasse reflected many people’s view that everything, or perhaps even nothing, has been said about Las Meninas -“what’s the difference, enough is definitely enough!”. The artists in the exhibition build upon previous interpretations by renowned artists such as Pablo Picasso, Richard Hamilton, Francesco Goya and Eve Sussman. Artists have long been actively influenced by the centuries old painting by Velázquez; with their responses, in turn, offering influence back to Las Meninas to enable new readings. With the artworks made for Enough is Definitely Enough’ there is potential for new relationships with Velasquez’s original painting to open up.

The exhibition is curated by Andrew Bracey and forms part of his PhD research at the University of Lincoln. He is exploring how contemporary artists have used and appropriated existing paintings by other artists, through a position of using the metaphor of the parasite and symbiosis in connection with painting.

Whether or not my contribution is parasitical, symbiotic or just plain daft you’ll have to pop along to Lincoln to judge…

Made in Britain

And it isn’t just requests for contributions to projects that pop up.  As part of the Priseman-Seabrook Collection initiative another show of selected works including my own opens in the Polish city of Gdansk in mid March with the title of Made In Britain.  It seemed too good a opportunity not to visit for the opening, not least as Poland is a country I’ve never visited.  So its off to one of the seminal sites in the resistance to communist rule in Eastern Europe.

And on Day Two…

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On Day Two we headed straight to the Prado.  There’s not much I can add to the story told in one of the world’s great galleries.  We made a beeline straight to the far corner of the ground floor where the extraordinary Black paintings by Goya are located.  Walking in I was instantly riveted by The Drowning Dog.  If you leave aside the facture in this smallish picture the image is startingly contemporary – the stark minimal ground in two colours with that small, almost dashed off, number of very few brushstrokes of the dog’s head.  And the rest of those haunting paintings fill the room with amazing images that are nothing short of pure genius.  From that room you pass through another space before entering the room with the 2nd and 3rd July pictures – both larger than I had expected but just as spectacular.  The Velasquez’s are just as staggering, Las Meninas of course is the stand out but there are so many others.  Then the Garden Of Earthly Delights by Bosch – surely still one of the craziest pictures ever made…some of that imagery I swear could only be the result of an encounter with an alien race!  And there are so many other great paintings to swallow up, a clutch of top notch El Greco’s, a marvellous Titian (one of several) and a stunning Fra Angelico.  We did four hours…by which time I was getting ‘picture blind’ and so the rest of the afternoon was resting up our critical faculties in the lovely Parque del Retiro…a great location to relax in and unwind from the ‘masterpiece’ overdose.

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In one part of which is this pavilion..a ‘loose’ copy of the Crystal Palace in the UK, the one that burnt down, that was hosting yet another contemporary art installation by a Czech artist called Jiri Kovanda.  Entitled ‘Two Golden Rings’ it comprised a twine that circled the inner space of the pavilion wrapping itself around the central pillars.  From only a few yards away the ‘piece’ was pretty much invisible…once inside it ‘revealed’ itself.

IMG_2410The picture above gives you the ‘jist’ of it.  For a few minutes as I wandered around the outer side of it I got to thinking that it was but one ‘golden ring’ but then…just off to the central ‘dog leg’ of the building there were a gaggle of folk and an attendant…

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gathered around a rounded off ‘cube’ of matting.  Ah ha! the second ‘golden ring.  And the blurb says that he “proposes a poetic reflection on questions such as existential precariousness, the sense of loss, the tendency towards entropy or the notion of impurity.”  Oh dear…

And I shall refrain from any comment on the show by Heimo Zobernig in the superb spaces of the Palacio de Velázquez.  Suffice to say that the back half of the afternoon was a far cry from the joys of the morning.

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Dinner at the wonderful Casanis – pretty much a sensation…a Bouillabaisse of exquisiteness, followed by a Turbot dish worthy of a two star Michelin joint.  Washed down with a decent white from Bordeaux.

 

 

 

Fulfillment

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Not of the picture above  – I wish!  My feeling is this one has a way to go…  But rather of another youthful ambition to go see all the ‘greats’ of painting.  My wonderful wife, the painter Sarah R Key is taking me off to Madrid as a kind of extended Valentine’s Day treat for a long weekend so I get to see Guernica, Goya and Velasquez as well as plenty of other painters whose work I’ve admired or been intrigued by for years.  So no posts until midweek now.