In search of infinity

Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Fly in league with the night
18 November 2020 – 31 May 2021
Tate Britain, London, UK.

I was pleased to go to this art exhibition soon after it opened at Tate. Mainly because after Christmas the UK went in lockdown for COVID-19 and all art galleries closed. But, you are still in time to visit it if you’re in London because Tate Britain is now open and this show is on until the 31st May.

The artist is Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, a British painter and writer born in London in 1977 to Ghanaian parents, and one of the most aclaimed painters working today. Not surprisingly, as she’s had many years of academic training. She learned to paint from life and changed her approach to painting at an early stage, while studying at Falmouth School of Art, on the Cornish coast. Yiadom-Boakye realised she was less interested in making portraits of people and more in the act of painting itself.

Yiadom-Boakye paints black people, in the most traditional European art form: oil painting on canvas. The painters she admires include: Velázquez, Manet, Degas, Sickert. And her high level of execution has led her to win prizes such as the prestigious Carnegie Prize in 2018, and to be shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2013.

Yiadom-Boakye is well-know for her enigmatic portraits of fictitious people, who live in private worlds. Both familiar and mysterious, they invite viewers to project their own interpretations, and raise important questions of identity and representation. She mentioned in an interview recently that she keeps coming back to the idea of “infinity”.

She takes inspiration from found images, memories, literature and the history of painting. Each painting is an exploration of a different mood, movement and pose, worked out on the surface of the canvas. I see why the artist says her figures aren’t real people, although her source of inspiration seems to be real people. She likes to place the role of narrative in the viewer, and let our imaginations go free when we encounter her works, and that’s not what happens when you see a portrait of someone.

“I write about the things I can’t paint and paint the things I can’t write about.”
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

A writer of prose and poetry as well as a painter, the artist sees both forms of creativity as separate but intertwined, and gives her paintings poetic titles, which she describes as as ‘an extra brush-mark’. However she doesn’t see the titles as an explanation or description, just a way to release our imagination.

We both of The art berries enjoyed this exhibition. The figures on these paintings command your attention, either because of their gaze or the mysteriousness behind the scenes. They were like part of a dream or an old memory that transcends time. The subdued colours at first sight are in some paintings very vibrant, like the things or elements that appear in your dreams.

The artist uses timeless elements in her search for infinity. The enigmatic subjects and sensuality of most of the artworks on display, and the use of only black people on her paintings make them very contemporary, despite the references for her style are so classic.


En busca del infinito
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye
Vuela en liga con la noche
18 de noviembre de 2020-9 de mayo de 2021
Tate Britain, Londres, Reino Unido.

Me gustó ir a esta exposición de arte poco después de su inauguración en la Tate. Principalmente porque después de Navidad el Reino Unido quedó cerrado for el COVID-19 y todas las galerías de arte cerraron. Pero aún estás a tiempo de visitarla si estás en Londres porque la Tate Britain ya está abierta y esta exposición no cierra hasta el 31 de mayo.

La artista es Lynette Yiadom-Boakye, una pintora y escritora británica nacida en Londres en 1977 de padres ghaneses, y una de las pintoras más aclamadas en la actualidad. No es de extrañar, ya que ha tenido muchos años de formación académica. Aprendió a pintar en vivo y cambió su enfoque de la pintura en una etapa temprana, mientras estudiaba en Falmouth School of Art, en la costa de Cornualles. Yiadom-Boakye se dio cuenta de que estaba menos interesada en hacer retratos de personas y más en el acto de pintar en sí.

Yiadom-Boakye pinta personas de raza negra, en la técnica de pintura europea más tradicional: pintura al óleo sobre lienzo. Los pintores que admira son: Velázquez, Manet, Degas, Sickert. Y su alto grado de ejecución la ha llevado a ganar premios como el prestigioso Carnegie Prize en 2018, y a ser preseleccionada para el Turner Prize en 2013.

Yiadom-Boakye es conocida por sus enigmáticos retratos de personas ficticias que viven en mundos privados. Tanto familiares como misteriosos, invitan a los espectadores a proyectar sus propias interpretaciones y plantean importantes cuestiones de identidad y representación. Recientemente, mencionó en una entrevista que continua volviendo a la idea de “infinito”.

Se inspira en imágenes encontradas, recuerdos, literatura e historia de la pintura. Cada pintura es una exploración de un estado de ánimo, movimiento y pose diferente, elaborado en la superficie del lienzo. Entiendo por qué la artista dice que sus figuras no son personas reales, aunque parezca que su fuente de inspiración son personas de carne y hueso. Le gusta colocar el papel de la narrativa en el espectador y dejar que nuestra imaginación se libere cuando nos encontramos con sus obras, y eso no es lo que sucede cuando ves un retrato de alguien.

“Escribo sobre las cosas que no puedo pintar y pinto las cosas sobre las que no puedo escribir”.
Lynette Yiadom-Boakye

Escritora de prosa y poesía, además de pintora, la artista ve ambas formas de creatividad como separadas pero entrelazadas, y le da a sus pinturas títulos poéticos, que describe como “una marca de pincel adicional”. Sin embargo, ella no ve los títulos como una explicación o descripción, solo una forma de liberar nuestra imaginación.

Las dos integrantes de The art berries disfrutamos bastante de esta exposición. Las figuras de estas pinturas llaman tu atención, bien sea por cómo te miran o por el misterio detrás de cada escena. Son como parte de un sueño o un viejo recuerdo que trasciende el tiempo. Los colores tenues a primera vista son en algunas pinturas muy vibrantes, como las cosas o elementos que aparecen en los sueños.

La artista utiliza elementos atemporales en su búsqueda del infinito. Lo cual combinado con el misterio y la sensualidad de la mayoría de las obras de arte expuestas, y el uso únicamente de personas de raza negra en sus pinturas las hacen muy contemporáneas, a pesar de que las referencias de su estilo sean tan clásicas.

An expert in the art of repetition

Andy Warhol
12 March – 15 November (Extended)
Tate Modern, London, UK

This post is long overdue. But, Covid-19 has transformed our lives in unimaginable ways. Galleries have been closed for a few months and finally they can be visited only by appointment here in London. So, I’m back to tell you about the last exhibition I’ve seen in months: Andy Warhol at Tate Modern. The show has been extended until the 15th November, so you’re still in time to see it.

I’m not the biggest fan of pop art, but Warhol is an American icon that cannot be missed. The art show features some of his iconic paintings, the work that made him famous as a pop artist (a term he hated apparently) including Coca-Cola bottles, 50 Marilyn Monroe portraits (1962), 168 pairs of Marilyn’s lips (see a picture of The art berries featuring this artwork below), Elvis I and II 1963/1964, Pink Race Riot 1964, a woman falling from a building 35 times, 10 Brillo boxes in a corner, 100 Campbell soup cans, 112 bottles of Coke and Marlon Brando twice, etc. Warhol was an expert in the art of repetition. “I want to be a machine” he said. Hence, his obsession with repetition, which in my opinion enhances the artwork instead of making it dull.

Warhol’s sexuality seems to be an important theme in this exhibition. Beginning with a selection of his early line drawings of men from the 1950s, counting on the film Sleep 1963, which documents Warhol’s lover, the poet John Giorno – and featuring large-scale paintings like his 1975 Ladies and Gentlemen series, not shown in the UK before. They depict anonymous Black and Latinx drag queens and trans women from New York, including iconic performer and activist, Marsha P. Johnson, a prominent figure in the Stonewall uprising of 1969 – a series of spontaneous, violent demonstrations by members of the LGBT community in response to a police raid. The exhibition looks at how Warhol’s attempt to bring the stars of the underground into the mainstream.

However, one of my favourite works in this exhibition was right at the end of the art show: Leonardo da Vinci’s Last Supper. Silkscreened from a reproduction, it’s repeated 60 times across a panoramic canvas in black and white (see image below). It turns Leonardo’s masterpiece in a static film-strip by the use of repetition. And it’s some kind of homage to Luis Buñuel’s film, Viridiana.

The art show tell us about his experiences as a child of working-class immigrants, a gay man, a devout Catholic and the target of a bizarre shooting by one of his groupies, to help us understand the evolution of his art. His innovative and unique approach to art in an age of immense political, social and technological change has been recognised by the art world ever since.


Experto en el arte de la repetición
Andy Warhol
12 de marzo – 15 de noviembre (ampliada)
Tate Modern, Londres, Reino Unido

Hace tiempo que quería poner un post. Pero, Covid-19 ha transformado nuestras vidas de formas inimaginables. Las galerías han estado cerradas durante unos meses y ya se pueden visitar con cita previa aquí en Londres. Así que, estoy de vuelta para contaros sobre la última exposición que he visto en meses: Andy Warhol en Tate Modern. La exposición ha sido extendida hasta el 15 de noviembre, por lo que aún estás a tiempo de verla.

No soy la mayor fan del pop art, pero Warhol es un ícono estadounidense que no te puedes perder. La muestra de arte presenta algunas de sus pinturas más icónicas, el trabajo que le hizo famoso como artista pop (un término que aparentemente odiaba) incluyendo botellas de Coca-Cola, 50 retratos de Marilyn Monroe (1962), 168 pares de labios de Marilyn (ver una imagen de The art berries con esta obra de arte a continuación), Elvis I y II 1963/1964, Pink Race Riot 1964, una mujer que se cae de un edificio 35 veces, 10 cajas de Brillo en una esquina, 100 latas de sopa Campbell, 112 botellas de Coca-Cola y Marlon Brando dos veces, etc. Warhol era un experto en el arte de la repetición. “Quiero ser una máquina”, dijo. De ahí su obsesión por la repetición, realzando la obra de arte en lugar de volverla aburrida.

La sexualidad de Warhol parece ser un tema importante en esta exposición. Comenzando con una selección de sus primeros dibujos lineales de hombres de la década de 1950, contando con la película Sleep 1963 – que documenta al amante de Warhol, el poeta John Giorno – y presentando pinturas de gran formato como su serie Ladies and Gentlemen de 1975, no mostrada en el Reino Unido antes. Representan drag queens y mujeres trans negras y latinas anónimas de Nueva York, incluida la artista y activista icónica, Marsha P. Johnson, una figura prominente en el levantamiento de Stonewall de 1969 – una serie de manifestaciones espontáneas y violentas de miembros de la LGBT comunidad en respuesta a una redada policial. La exposición analiza el interés de Warhol por llevar a las estrellas del underground a la corriente principal.

Sin embargo, una de mis obras favoritas de esta exposición estaba justo al final de la muestra de arte: La Última Cena de Leonardo da Vinci. Serigrafiada a partir de una reproducción, se repite 60 veces en un lienzo panorámico en blanco y negro. Convierte la obra maestra de Leonardo en una tira de película estática mediante el uso de la repetición. Es una especie de homenaje a la película de Luis Buñuel, Viridiana.

La exposición nos cuenta sus experiencias como hijo de inmigrantes de clase trabajadora, hombre gay, católico devoto y blanco de un extraño tiroteo por parte de una de sus groupies, para ayudarnos a comprender la evolución de su arte. Su enfoque innovador y único del arte en una época de inmenso cambio político, social y tecnológico ha sido reconocido por el mundo del arte desde entonces.

Art creation as an ongoing process

Past art shows: Giorgio Griffa. A continuos becoming.
Camden Arts Centre, London, UK.
26 January – 8 April 2018

We visited this art exhibition in March this year and got really inspired by the paintings presented by Giorgio Griffa (1936) at the Camden Art Centre. Griffa is an Italian abstract painter who lives and works in Turin and has been closely related to Arte Povera, which stands for ‘poor art’. This is a movement that appeared in Italy in the 1960s and with which artists sought to radically redefine painting by incorporating throwaway or ‘poor’ materials into their work.

Griffa believes in the ‘intelligence of painting’ and allows for every element of the process to influence and form his work, from the type of brush he uses to the nature of the canvas or the dilution of the pain.

Griffa’s approach is performative and time-base, as he assures that painting is “constant and never finished”.

 

His sources of inspiration are quantum energy, time-space mathematics, the golden ratio and the memory of visual experience since time immemorial. The body of work he presented at the Camden Arts Centre spans his career as an artist from the 1960s through to today and it was curated by artist and curator Stephen Nelson.

I found this exhibition visually striking and very much of my taste. The use of bold and primary colours over unstretched raw canvas was reinforced by the white background of the walls. As soon as I went through the door I felt I was entering the artist’s individual universe. The simple shapes and materials he uses on his paintings resonate with me; as if the artist had found a series of universal symbols and shared them with the rest of the world.

Performing as The art berries, we added another layer to these art exhibition and I dare to say that Griffa would approve of this addition to his work, not only for what it brought of improvisation and time-base performance, but also for the “constant and never finished” approach he likes to use on his paintings.

 

GG-CAC5

GG-CAC6

GG-CAC2

 

 

IMG_4444 (1)

 

 

The plasticity of a surreal dream

Past shows: Karla Black, Stuart Shave/Modern Art
17 Nov – 16 Dec 2017

We attended this exhibition in November last year and really liked discovering Karla Black’s new body of work. With this exhibition she attempted to emphasise the importance of mark-making in her practice, which combined with colour and light connects her sculptural practice to painting.

Moreover, she concentrated specifically on one of the many sculptural problems that preoccupies her: how to preserve the precious, formal aesthetic decisions she makes, within the precariousness of the informal materials she favours. Many of the works in the exhibition were conceived and realised within the gallery space. As she’s asserted in the past, her sculpture is absolutely non-representational.

“There is no image, no metaphor,” Karla Black said.

In the first room, there were free standing sculptures made of Vaseline mixed with paint, then sealed between glass screens. In addition, we found hanging sculptures in the same materials and in clay, wool and spray paint across the whole show. In the second room, there were floor artworks of a pink fluff material and thin sculptures made of Johnson’s baby oil bottles, crystal glasses and wax.

Karla Black lives and works in Glasgow. She was born in Alexandria, United Kingdom in 1972, and completed an MA in Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, in 2004. In 2011, Black’s work represented Scotland at the 54th Venice Biennale, and was the same year nominated for the Turner Prize. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at multiple galleries in the UK and abroad.

Black’s works for this exhibition were fragile and evocative. The plasticity of the materials she used for this exhibition, as well as the pastel and shinny colours she employed on most of these artworks remain in my mind as part of a surreal dream.

 

image3

 

 

 

 

image4image6

 

 

 

 

IMG_4238 (1)