Monday, 28 March 2011

Norman Rockwell - Dulwich Picture Gallery

On a beautiful Sunday afternoon I decided it was finally time to head down to Dulwich to check out Norman Rockwell's exhibition 'Norman Rockwell's America'.  This exhibition ran for 3-months and as is my custom, I waited till the last day to see it.

Not know much about Rockwell except for his iconic status in Americana art, I was interested to see how this artist, who has influenced so many, resonated in a gallery.

According to the gallery:

Norman Rockwell’s heart warming depictions of everyday life made him the best-known and most beloved American artist of the 20th century. He lived and worked through one of the most eventful periods in the nation’s history and his paintings vividly chronicled those times. Norman Rockwell’s America exhibits a remarkable collection of selected original art spanning his six decade career.

This exhibition will be the first of his original works in this country. It will include all 323
Saturday Evening Post covers created between 1916 and 1963, along with illustrations for advertisements, magazines and books – providing a comprehensive look at his career.

As you can tell from the description, the exhibition was staggering in it's scope, covering amost 50 years of Rockwell's work.  While the Saturday Evening Post covers were an interesting look into a different century, what really captured the imagination were all the original works.
Having never seen his work in person before I was blown away by the level of detail, and how he so clearly identified feelings of expression in his subjects.  He also was quite clever at multiple painting styles both imitating the old masters, and crafting his own techniques.

Rockwell is considered an artist who defined America.  I think what this exhibition shows is how much an invention Americana truly is.  It really was Rockwell in the 30s and 40s who captured the qualities, and really definied, what it is to be an American.  

It's interesting, as an American living abroad, looking at these images and imagining a time when America was seen as a country on the rise, with ideals and a government to envy, not fear.

Really loved the lighting on this one

Some of the Saturday Evening Post covers

The level of detail was exceptional.  I loved the lone tooth on the right of his mouth.

The way this was painted was fascinating, the view point is so unique.

The travelling salesmen.  Depicted as a lonely figure rather than a rogue traveller.

April fools day painting.  There were over 60 jokes in this one.  You can see a few here like the cat with a dogs head, the girl holding the skunk in the background, and many more.

Love this picture of Russian schoolchildren.  With the boy in the back row looking out the window.

Great picture depicting a worker and the bourgeois art he ignores.

Friday, 11 March 2011

Brian Adam Douglas - Due Date

Brian Adam Douglas enjoyed his first solo UK show last night at Black Rat Press.  Always sure to be a good evening, the night didn't disappoint.

Brian's work (known also as Elbow Toe) is a bit atypical for the gallery in that Brian doesn't fit in to the stereotypical 'street artist' category.  As opposed to previous shows with Roa or Swoon this felt different.  Much had to do with the fact that there was no spray paint in this show.

The show was also a book launch for Brian's new book Paper Cuts, published by Drago.  Brian was kind enough to sign the book for anyone who asked and also, later in the evening, even sketched some of us (pic below).

The works are all collages.  Though that's a massive diservice to what they are.  1000s of pieces of paper are cut and molded to create these designs.  From afar they look like paintings, and even on closer inspection it's hard to believe the detail.  For example, the picture below which is of a sectoin of the Tradition piece, all of the stripes on the shirt are different pieces of paper.  There's no paint in the face, those are all hand cut pieces of a paper.

I imagine it's always a good thing when you're showing your work and the most common coment heard through the night was some variation of 'that's amazing'.  To see it up close is to both enjoy the scene and appreciate the labor that went behind each one.

The piece below, The Memory of You is Not Lost on Me, is the largest piece he's done to date.  It's 81 3/4 x 54 3/4 inches and on birch wood.  It was priced at £20,000 and like everything else in the show, had sold.  It also took Brian 3 months to complete it, working 10-12 hour days.  Absolutely incredible.

There are some more pictures below, but it is no means a comprehensive list of what was there.  Definitely go check it out before the show ends.

The Memory of You is Not Lost on Me
After Goya
After Goya
The Memory of You is Not Lost on ME
The Memory of You is Not Lost on ME
The Memory of You is Not Lost on Me - Closeup of the bees
Amazing how it looks like the water is flowing, there's no paint, only pieces of paper
The Designated Mourner - on Birch wood
The Gallery
Oscar and Scarlet
Any Which Way but Loose - again, no paint, just all bits of paper
Rites of Spring - on birch wood
Sweet Dreams
Sweet Dreams
The Hand that Rocks the Cradles
Talkin' 'Bout Tradition - Sketch of me by Elbow Toe

Thursday, 3 March 2011

Stik and Slinkachu

One of the best nights of the year so far for shows in London.  Two shows which contrasted in both style and substance both came off as successful in my opinion.

The Stik show was held at the Subway Gallery, a gallery the size of a living room located underground in the subway by Edgeware Rd Station.  Stik was given the gallery for the next three weeks and his latest print by Squarity was released.  He hasn't released one in some time so it was nice to see an edition of 50 so plenty can get one.  The coloured variants were either 1/1 (red, pink, gray) or numbered out of 2 or 3.

Stik was also there painting during the show which is a nice touch.  Small crowd, chips and beer brought by Stik, a nice warm show.

Slinkachu's show was quite a contrast.  Nestled in South Ken back streets the show was slick from the outside with broad shouldered bouncers making sure your name was on the list.  This was my first time at a Slinkachu show and I was blown away.

Slinkachu works by taking minature figures and creating a scene on the street.  The figures are so small that they'd be almost impossible to see passing by, so he takes a stunning photo of each one, which is what was displayed here.

Hopefully the pictures do it some justice because it was a fantastic show.

Subway Gallery

Wall in the subway where Stik was painting

Great idea, little mini OGs for 35 pounds

The prints.  The middle yellow is the edition with the others as APs

Stik packaging up a print

Light boxes for 900 pounds


Andpida Gallery

This was my favorite, burning embers

Saw this hiding in the back room...

Really loved this

Another black and white picture i loved, stranger danger