Posts Tagged ‘art’

Graffiti Paris (aka Not the Royal Wedding)

In Paris on May 2, 2011 at 9:56 pm

Just back from a weekend avoiding the Royal Wedding in a nice Republican country. In fact I calculate that at the moment the couple were saying their vows, I was in Place de la Bastille passing a large shiny monument to the French Revolution (and we all know how that turned out…) Not that I wish K&W any ill will, but if the country had been shut down for a snow day or transport strike rather than a Royal Wedding, we’d all be talking about how much money the country had lost by not being at work. And don’t even get me started on the cost to us self employed of this disruption to offices being closed and children being off school…

On the plus side, it was a chance to indulge in some flânerie, and  I was overjoyed to happen upon some particularly beautiful expressions of the anarchic spirit in the form of Paris’ healthy graff scene in the 20e arr. And strangely moved by their ephemeral nature. Read the rest of this entry »


Gabriel Orozco at Tate Modern

In Exhibition reviews on January 18, 2011 at 10:06 am

Being a freelance journalist, for which read incorrigible freeloader, I love this time of year as it’s when the nice press officers in the big London galleries allow me to gatecrash their openings of major international exhibitions that would otherwise cost me a tenner, and probably a booking fee.

First up is the Gabriel Orozco retrospective at Tate Modern, a fairly slight show of a fairly young artist (he’s still in his 40s) that will nevertheless attract a lot of attention thanks to being publicised by the arresting image of a real human skull covered in a black checkerboard pattern (Black Kites 1997). Read the rest of this entry »

#27a Vincent

In Down and Out on January 21, 2010 at 11:46 pm

Gatecrashing the press view of the Royal Academy’s Spring blockbuster ‘The Real Van Gogh – the artist and his letters‘ (23 Jan-18 April)  it struck me that Vincent was an ideal How To Be Unemployed poster boy.

1) He recklessly abandoned ‘proper job’ to become an artist, jacking  in careers as an art dealer and then a missionary to take up painting at 27.

2) He displayed an overdeveloped work ethic, but still considered himself a failure – In just 10 years he produced more than 800 paintings and 1,200 drawings. In the last 70 days of his life he produced more than 70 canvasses.

3) He repeatedly tapped his younger brother Theo for cash and materials.

4) He entered a house share with another temperamental artist (Gaugin), which ended in breakdown and the ‘ear incident’.

5) He displayed a marked tendency to look on the dark side of life – In  a letter to Theo on 31 July 1882, describing his watercolour ‘Pollard Willow’ he writes: ‘where the black is darkest in this little sketch is where the greatest strengths are in the watercolour.’

6) Painfully lonely on account of working from home and harboured ambitions of setting up a community of like-minded artists.

7) But mainly because he puts most contemporary columnists and bloggers to shame with his frequent correspondences, particularly those to his brother.

Though this exhibition has its share of bold, colourful, energetic paintings, it is these exquisite letters that are the star. Illuminated almost like medieval manuscripts with sketches and diagrams, letters finished on the backs of drawings, drawings made on the backs of envelopes, long words curled round the ends of lines to avoid hyphenation, erudite musings on life, literature and art, and prose as smooth as butter, whether he’s writing in Dutch, French of English. Letters which are not the ramblings of a mad man but a of an educated man studying hard, perhaps destructively hard, in order to master something for which he has an all-consuming passion. Read Margaret Drabble writing in the New Statesman on the subject.

The exhibition includes, quite movingly, the last letter he ever wrote, dated four days before he shot himself, six before he died from his wounds.

Sadly the six volume box set of his letters (published by Thames & Hudson) are, at £395, beyond the resources of most HTBU readers (you should have caught the Radio 4 serialisation for free), but I urge you to book tickets for the exhibition now.

If you don’t believe me, read art critic Ossian Ward’s far more insightful review here.

They are clearly expecting crowds (the security guards were being tutored in queue control when I went) so get one over on all those people with proper jobs and go on a weekday.