The poetry in traditional crafts

Past shows: Martin Puryear at Parasol unit, London
18 Sept – 6 Dec 2017

It’s not often that I discover artists like Martin Puyear. I was truly interested on the body of work he presented at the Parasol Unit gallery in Shoreditch, London, end of last year, and really inspired by it. His abstract works are finely hand-made from wood and bronze and the use of craft methods and natural materials on the sculptures he creates shows a great respect to skilled craftsmanship. He proves that abstraction isn’t separate from traditional techniques and in fact it’s more relevant than ever. To me, this exhibition brought back the spirit of the Arts & Crafts Movement promoted by William Morris and Ruskin in the XIX century, with the joy of craftsmanship that it inspired and the natural beauty of materials.

Furthermore, with his works Puryear also explores social history and makes a very subtle political statement. In addition to the sculptures, the printmaking works presented on this gallery on the first floor offered a different perspective of the wood and bronze sculptures.

This exhibition was curated by Ziba Ardalan and was the artist’s first solo show in London. It presented over 30 works of sculpture and works in paper and spans 40 years of the artist’s practice. In the ground floor gallery there were large-scale works, such as the “Big Phrygian”, 2010–2014. This five-foot tall cedarwood sculpture, painted bright red, resembles the distinctive shape of a Phrygian cap, which is a soft conical cap with the top pulled forward. People of ancient Eastern Europe and Anatolia wore such caps, which in the modern world have come to signify the pursuit of liberty.  This contrasted with the iron sculpture “Shackled”, 2014, which recalls the shackles worn by slaves when they were taken to America.

The African-American began exploring traditional craft methods in his youth, studied a BA in the States and went to spend two years as a Peace Corps volunteer in Sierra Leona, where he learned local woodworking techniques. Following this time in Africa, he spend two more years (1966-68) studying at the Royal Swedish Academy of Arts in Stockholm before returning to the US to attend Yale University in 1971, where he received an MFA in Sculpture. His work is widely exhibited and collected both in the United States and internationally.

“I value the referential quality of art, the fact that a work can allude to things or states of being without in any way representing them.” Martin Puryear.

For The art berries, performing with these works was like merging with nature. Almost like when an architect thinks about how to integrate his design within the surrounding landscape, but with a more humble approach of course! We hope you enjoy the photos! 

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A peek at the Californian mountains

Past shows: Ed Ruscha at the Gagosian gallery, London
“Extremes and In-betweens”
Oct 5 – Dec 17, 2016

This is an art show we visited more than a year ago and it’s not currently on. But I’ve decided to start my blog with it because it was very inspiring for me. It made me realised what I wanted to blog about and therefore, I owe it a first post here.

I first encountered Ed Ruscha’s work at Tate Modern and have been interested since. He’s called by many the Magritte of Los Angeles and one of the longest living pop artists. He produced all the works for this exhibition in 2016, and it was Gagosian’s first show of Ruscha’s paintings since an exhibition at its Rome gallery in 2014-15.

The novelty of this show is that the words appearing on the artworks were presented in logical sequences and in diminishing or augmenting typeface over a sand background in most of them; and with blue skies over the mountains of California in some other works, combined with a circled selected view that suggests we are having a peep in, but not part of this idyllic scenery.

As per the press release published by Farah Nayeri for The New York Times, Ruscha said about his works at the opening: “I’m not trying to wrap things up or make final statements or capture anything in a big way,” he said. “It’s more like, whatever the voyage is, that’s where I am. I’m just traveling along the tops of things, not trying to bring an answer to anything, necessarily, but just to keep making pictures.”

With the comments above, it appears to me that he doesn’t want to be categorical with these artworks, but exploratory with visual images as well as with words. A search done from a rather logical perspective.

The photo with raspberry adds a new layer to these artworks. She seems to be enjoying the solitude of these mountains and looking at us from within the scenery itself.

 

Welcome to The art berries blog

The art berries is an art collaboration between me and other friends, who are also art enthusiasts. I’ll be the person posting here, but the other art berries have also a key role in attending the art shows, performing and contributing with art ideas for the photos. We hope you feel as inspired when you see the photos as we did when we took them.

Feel free to contact us and perhaps send us a photo of you visiting an art show with you in the picture. We’ll do a picture selection every month and post the ones we like the most. We hope you enjoy this blog and the arts you see around!