Monday, 29 September 2014

Artists of War

I've just finished watching the series on iplayer.   Firstly - I loved it and found it very inspiring.  So thank you Mr Graham-Dixon and the BBC:  "I would happily pay 3 times the license fee...".  What always gets me though are those niggly bits:
When Bomberg goes to Jerusalem he suddenly produces some paintings that are ... er I don't know.. 'see and put',  panoramas of the city that are clearly a response to light and an amazing space.  It's like he's overwhelmed by the beauty and can't stop himself from transcribing what he sees in a very straight forward way.  But the art historians have to make something of it that's not there.  It drives me up the wall.  You can clearly see in those paintings he simply thought it was visually inspiring and wanted to put that down.
In the same programme he looks at the charcoal drawing of St Paul's from a church spire... "probably St Bride's" .. well as you can see Fleet street on his right leading up to the West fa├žade of Saint Paul's and St Bride's on the other side, he clearly was not.  It really gets me that.  Its like the pomp of art speak overtakes common sense and basic research.  I don't know what spire it was drawn from but it wouldn't take long to work it out.
I remember seeing a programme on Constable years ago when the historian tells us how Constable, as a young man, must have had a poor view of the heavens as he had painted the moon in front of a cloud.  But it is clearly a thin cloud that the moon's light penetrates.
Having said all that I did love the series.  Quite humbling to see that sort of self belief and obstinacy - but I guess that's what you get from really great artists.
Catalogues for my efforts should land on door mats tomorrow... I hate this bit.  Lush to still be sporting sandals and shorts though hey!

Wednesday, 17 September 2014


I am currently reading (yes! Pete - reading!) a biography by Mitzi McCall about her husband's life Charles McCall (well both of their lives), .  I bought my studio easel from his estate about 10 years ago.   It was encrusted in paint and I'm adding to it.  I collected it from his wonderful studio near Sloane Square.  I was reading last night about his first one man show at the Leicester Galleries in the 1950's.  An Oliver Brown from the gallery expressed his concerns to Mitzi on the days that followed the opening that Charles would be upset by the press coverage.  Neville Wallace gave him a good illustrated write up in the Observer but Eric Newton in the Sunday Times was 'rather waspish and fitted the exhibition into a theme he was writing on other exhibits about repetition'.  … "All the other reviews were kind and there was a very pleasant one in the Daily Mail by Pierre Jeanerat."… Oh My God!  Any of us would settle for the waspish one.  Wouldn't that be amazing for critics to turn up to a show and write a criticism on it!  Imagine having to worry about 'what the critics say'.   Anyway, the paintings are being framed by the Ashleys - who are amazing and the catalogue is currently being printed. Messums have done a superb job as ever putting it together.  I know it sounds smug but I am so lucky to be promoted by such a fantastic gallery.  Everything is done so well.  It opens on 22nd October and runs until 15th November in 8 Cork Street.   It will be one of the last shows at number 8 sadly as Messums move over the road while that side is renovated.

'Regent Street Looking South' oil on canvas 30 x 35 inches

I did the NEAC digital selection with 5 other members of the NEAC committee yesterday at The Mall.  I am not a fan of digital selection at all and would prefer we did it all looking at paintings in the flesh.  It is a cost cutting exercise (although there are benefits for those submitting too).  All the open exhibitions now do it but it puts the emphasis on 'The Image' and not oil paint.  Apparently it is a necessary evil and we erred on the side of caution selecting rather than rejecting.  We saw some really good stuff…. I think!?  Anyway good luck to anyone who submitted and if you were rejected it wasn't me. It was the others!