OCA visit to Saatchi Gallery London 27.09.13


children drawn to draw drawings of children? Selected portraits by Annie Kevans of dictators as children.

This outing was  a last minute decision that I made a few days before the outing itself. Luckily for me there where still places available.

The group met at 11.30 at the gallery. Then followed an art packed day which challenged us to think about the works on show not just observe them. We were split in to groups of 3/4 each group tasked with finding one art work they felt strongly about and telling the rest there opinions, observations and feelings regarding the chosen piece. I found it particularly interesting how the tutor pointed out that the items in each room where grouped together to high light there similarities and by looking for these connections we can have a deeper understanding of the artist intentions.

Whilst in the gallery we looked at both the exhibitions on display. Paper, as the name suggests was a collection of works by artist that have used paper in their art in interesting and some very unexpected ways. I was pleased to see a wide selections of drawings on display as I am currently on the drawing module it is grate to see how cutting edges artist are using the medium. More surprisingly there was a good selection of sculptures all using paper but in very different ways.

One such 3D work by Colombian artist Miler Lagos stands out in my memory. What first appears a pile of charred logs laying on the gallery floor and propped against the walls is in fact constructed of thousands of sheets of newspaper cut in to ruffley circular shape to form part of the branch. The end sheets of paper are left so you can still read the news print. The piece is titled ‘Time runs backwards – fragments of time’ . Which along with the work is self explanatory.

The other exhibition on show there, New Order is a show case for Saatchi’s latest collection of artist fresh form art schools. Over all impression of this one is it’s quite a poor year for new art talent. A few pieces stood out for me, some of the others did not and seem as if there appeal is toilet humour void of talent or even the mastery of a paint brush in a couple of cases.

The high lights for me being a video piece showing vaulters annihilating a fancy dinner laid out on a table as if in readiness for a aristocratic banquette. ‘Ictu Oculi’ by Greta Alfaro appeals to me as I just fined it an intriguing concept and in the watch of it it reminds me of both a nature documentary and Christmas dinners gone by! The artist  intends to get the on looker thinking about the fragility and quickness of life much as rotten fruit symbolised in 17th century painting.

Nicholas Deshayes has several pieces here The stand out being 5  panels of Polystyrene that’s surfaces have been cut into with a hot wire to produce undulating rippling waves that seem to shimmer and shimmy as the light catches them. They are truly beautiful to behold. The artist says he works in “the threshold between liquid and solid”(Deshayes), and this is an apt description of the pieces. The 5 panel piece is entitled ‘Soho Fats’. The inspiration comes from  congealed human fats that clog up London sewers. Which only goes to show you can find inspiration and beauty in the most unlikely of places!

Wandy Makers Creepy little thigh high mannequin with human faces and sadistic tendencies of sticking each other with needles  stood out for me because I though the faces had been so skilfully made that had they have been taller you might think them alive. I even did a test by showing a friend a photo of ones face saying it was one of the people from the OCA trip. ‘She looks sweet’ she said passing the phone back to me unaware she had been duped. It was nice to see a little bit of craftsmanship on show here in these Chapmen brothers inspired dolls.

Back to the paper exhibition which was a far more inspiring collection. I have decided to limit myself to just three artist so I can be sure I’m making selections that are relevant to where I’m at in my own artistic development. Perhaps this is something I should adopt for future write ups rather than try to mention every piece that I found vaguely interesting.

First off then..

USA artist Storm Tharp produces portraits that are distorted and faded. His work focusses on fading memories and how little we really remember of peoples appearance when they are not right in front of us. He works in mixed media. The three offerings at Sattchi show a clever use of expanding ink splodges to make the hazy distorted faces. Two pieces ‘Window’ and ‘Jodie Jill’ have a more finished, refined quality to them than the third ‘Love Nothing More’. This last one is a collection of 21 A3 portraits lined up 3×7 deep and high enclosed in the same frame. Some of the blurry faces give you the feeling, Do I know that one? Maybe, maybe not. They seem very lose with minimal lines to describe the subject, more like ides in a sketch book than finished pieces in there own right but as a series they work.

The two other drawings stand as beautiful pieces in their own right. The ink has been masterfully handled in such away that has allowed its liquid nature to show but also managed to confine it so it represents the features and bone structure of the faces. The hair and clothes of both the girls look like they may be colouring pencil. I know colour pencil, gouache and ink was used in the making. They have been framed so as to allow the notes and practice brush strokes around the blank edges to be seen. Again this gives it a feeling of sketch book work, like the idea is still evolving. If I didn’t know better I would think these two where prints as the picture surface appears so smooth.

I find Tharps work very appealing and have had a good look through his back catalogue. I’d love to be able to harness ink in this way and have all ready started my own experimentation with expanding ink splatters as part of assignment two. I have read he takes influence from Japanese ink drawing and there methods so I should try and fit in some research on this area.

The second artist I’d like to log is Dawn Cements. Two large walls are entirely given over to her huge stream of consciousness style drawings. She uses Sumi ink for her mono tone work and gouache for the colour works. She is a highly skilled drafts woman using perspective effectively to help depict mood as well as give a feeling of depth. Her eye for detail is also admirable with floral patterns on sofa and wood grain on floors given grate attention.

One of these large black and white works on display here is an ongoing observation around the artists home. There seems to be no beginning and no end in her drawings. She adds extra giant sheets of paper to the work as it evolves. If she wants to go upstairs as she does in ‘Travels with Myra Hudson’ she simply adds another page to the top of the drawing. This second drawing is a reproduction of the 1952 film Sudden Fear. She pauses the DVD to draw in the scenes. Surprisingly the actors are left out but the mood of the scenes is indicated by the drawn in scenery. For instance on the aforementioned stair case where something violent happens in the film the drawing takes on an Eiry uncomfortable appearance with long shadows and strange perspectives at work.

It would be so much fun to try and do a drawing in the style of Dawn Clements. As I am about to move on to landscape drawing I can see a lot of opportunities for the drawing to start on one piece of paper and extend. I will try to incorporate this idea some where.

The Third artist, Kluas Mosettig , I would like to mention as it’s something completely different. What appears to be inverted colour pictures of the sky at night  are in fact brought into existence by the artist turning on an over head projector and then drawing in with a pencil all the dust marks and scratches as they are projected on to his large square sheets of paper.

I can’t really put my finger on why they appeal. As a large triptych I find there minimal style both relaxing and strangely mesmerising. Almost like a foggy Whistler seascape I feel complied to stair into them and try to make sense of the dots and scratches to form something recognisable to me. Its such an out there idea it high lights how we can push the boundaries to come up with something unique.

To sum up it was a really worth will outing to paper. I think it has influenced my work for assignment 2 and I hope to try out some new ideas sparked by the visit in the next section.


About Emma Perring

Artist, oil painter

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