24.10.15 Cerith Wyn Evans @ White Cube
Source: Cerith Wyn Evans at the White Cube, Bermondsey on 24th Oct 2015
After seeing Cerith Wyn Evans' work at the White Cube today, his exploration of "the flow of energy" and translating movement into notational form made me think further about how the motions/form of the human body can be translated into mark making and in turn other three dimensional forms. This idea of translating movement into lines/shapes linked back to the life sketches I had been working on yesterday and Thursday, and made me consider how I could develop the felt/thread structure of lines/curves further into a freestanding structure.
‘The Illuminating Gas [...] systematically imposes a formless anxiety, diverging yet centrifugal, directed not toward the most withheld secrets but toward the imitation and the transmutation of the most visible forms: each word at the same time energised and drained, filled and emptied by the possibility of there being yet another meaning, this one or that one, or neither one nor the other, but a third, or none...’ Michel Foucault
25.10.15 Barbara Hepworth @ Tate Britain
Source: Barbara Hepworth: Sculpture for a Modern World, at Tate Britain on 25.10.15
After seeing Hepworth's work on the Public Art project brief today, I decided to go and see her exhibition at the Tate Britain today to get a deeper understanding of her work and practice, before drawing her sculpture at some point in the next few weeks. While I initially hated the first room of the exhibition (the miniature carvings seemed way too decorative and twee, and while the level of skill was impressive I thought the subject matter slightly dull; depictions of birds and frogs in marble) I really loved her work by the time I left the final room, as I was interested in the way her sculpture explores spacial relationships between different forms/objects, in particular the figure with its surroundings and other figures.
Two Forms, 1933 (Alabaster on Limestone Base)
Alongside her exploration of relationships between figures, I was also interested in the exhibition's portrayal of her studio relationship with Ben Nicholson, and how their work had influenced each other's. Some of Nicholson's paintings/prints also seemed to echo Hepworth's exploration of human relationships (or possibly their own relationship?) and the correlation between their work became obvious when looking at Two Heads:
Two Heads, 1932
Man and Woman: Heads in Profile, 1933 (Linocut on paper)
Nicholson was also influenced by Picasso, who he met in 1932, and Nicholson made fabric designs from a similar repeat pattern. This idea of relationships and overlapping in particular made me think about the new shapes created out of negative or doubled space when existing shapes are overlapped, and how this could be addressed in the construction of a garment (ie. putting a series of individual shapes together like a collage, and placing an emphasis on all the seams/joins to highlight the new shapes created by building up layers.)
1933 (Study of a Head) Oil on Canvas
I also liked the slightly cubist references in Nicholson's portraiture of Hepworth, showing multiple perspectives of his wife on a single plane, and creating new shapes by overlapping varying viewpoints of her profile. This had strong links with Picasso's portraiture, and I thought cubism would be an interesting movement to look at further when examining/developing the construction of my garment for the Public Art brief. Overall, my visit to Hepworth's retrospective resulted in lots of ideas about how fabric could be layered/overlapped to explore the body's relationship with it's surroundings, or it's relationship with the garment itself.
25.10.15 Frank Auerbach @ Tate Britain
Reclining Head of Julia, 1995
Source: Frank Auerbach Exhibition at Tate Britain on 25.10.15
Reclining Head of Julia II, 1997
Head of JYM II, 1984-85
Whilst at the Tate Britain (after seeing Barbara Hepworth's exhibition) I also went to see the retrospective of Frank Auerbach's paintings and drawings, which were interesting as they used heavily built up layers of acrylic and oil paint, feeding further into the idea of "layering" and "overlapping" that I'd like to explore in my garment in the Public Art project. I liked the repetitive nature of Auerbach's working process and how you could see his subjects (his wife Julia and other family friends) ageing as his paintings were repeated over time. Like the Hepworth exhibition, I preferred the pieces that focused on the figure or the face; I disliked the landscapes as I felt they didn't come across as personal and were less interesting as a result. Once I find out which brief I am doing next week (hopefully soon and hopefully Public Art!) I want to begin drawing my sculptures and investigating further how to create new shapes on the body via the process of layering.
26.10.15 Peter Lanyon @ Courtauld
Blue Glass Airscape, 1960
Source: Peter Lanyon: Soaring Flight at the Courtauld Gallery on 26th Oct 15
Iron Airscape 1961
Today's visit to the Courtauld's Peter Lanyon exhibition made me think further about how different shapes and gestural marks could be layered up to create new structures and shapes, which in turn could be developed into prints, forms of textures for the body. I learnt that Lanyon's work was greatly influenced by his experience of hang-gliding and the movement of the land beneath him, which gave the work a lighter, more gestural quality, however when these marks were placed on top of heavier shapes/textures the pieces made me think about the movement of fabric around the body and how it could be altered with varying weights/weaves/textures. Again linking back to this idea of layering that I am now really keen to investigate, like Frank Auerbach's show yesterday I want to experiment layering with different forms of media (ie not just collage- perhaps papier mache with fabric? or knit or yarns?) The overlapping of pieces of glass in Blue Glass Airscape were also inspiring as they raised the issue of transparency/translucency, and made me consider using sheer fabrics or tracing paper to work with when overlapping shapes (allowing for a more clarified view of the negative space and new shapes created by different arrangements.)
Richard Serra "Matter of Time" 2005
Source: Anthony Gormley: On Sculpture ed. Mark Holborn, Thames and Hudson 2015
Despite Richard Serra's Fuclrum being my least favourite of the three sculptures I looked at, after reading the section about Matter of Time in Anthony Gormley's book On Sculpture, I became more interested in how his work makes the viewer consider their existence and experience. The chapter made me think about how I want to work with negative space and silhouette to develop my shapes further, as part of the overlapping/layering process that I have now become slightly fixated with.
"Serra says he is not interested in surface, or in the accidental surface qualities of rust, but I think the fact of these rain-stained, scuffed and industrially striated, deep dark reds, is very important to the impact of the work. Serra is clear about where his sculpture comes from. It comes from process."
Anthony Gormley discusses how the work "gives us back a sense of our bodies as sensitive instruments," and also refers to Joseph Beuys' belief in "the potential of sculpture to develop new perception, implying in some ways our bodies are extensive instruments." Gormley asserts, that while there is literally no imagery in Serra's work, it remains something deeply human. "By engaging with these strangely hybrid works that are both objects and places, somehow through them we are released into a new and extended sense of being in the world, with a sense of our own weight, measure, scale and movement."
This passage in particular made me realise, that while as a shape Fulcrum is incredibly simplistic due to it's lack or imagery, it's main purpose is to make the viewer experience their own scale rather than simply look at sculpture and feel something from it's image. This idea of emphasising feeling rather than image reminded me of the earlier research I did into Rei Kawakubo's designs fro Comme des Garcons, and how she placed a design emphasis on feeling/mood rather than imagery itself. Whilst I understand that the current Public Art brief is focusing on the development of shapes around the body, I am glad I read about Serra's process as it has made me consider a different approach to design that could potentially be used for another project in future.
Plan for Matter of Time, drawn by Richard Serra
Hepworth Yorkshire Sculpture Park Catalogue 1980
Two Forms (Apolima) 1969
Hepworth on wanting to work larger scale in the 1960s: "This doesn't mean that I don't like working small because I do. It's refreshing, like painting or drawing, but I've always wanted to go my arm's length and walk round things or climb up them. I kept on thinking of large works in a landscape; this has always been a dream of my mind."
Two Opposing Forms (Grey and Green) 1969
"All my early memories are of forms and shapes and textures"
The Family of Man: Figure 1, Ancestor I (1970)
On human relationships with the landscape: "I, the sculptor, am the landscape. I am the form and I am the hollow, the thrust and the contour."
Two Forms (Newborn), 1971
"Sculpture makes certain people act in a certain way; they move in a certain manner. Their gestures and their reaction are extremely expressive to a sculpture and that is the point."
"Sculpture provides a link between human scale and sensibility and the greater volume of space and mass in architecture."
Child with mother, 1972
Alan Bowness of Hepworth: "She quickly decided during that representation was not the aim of sculpture, and was one of the first sculptors to make completely nonrepresentational works. The forms she made, however, never lacked a human significance: they should be seen as equivalents for the relationships of one person to another- man to woman, mother to child,each of us to the natural landscape."
It is this idea of relationships between bodies and their surroundings that I want to explore further in my sketchbook, as I think it could link to the process of overlapping shapes and creating different shapes/forms out of the negative spaces in between, and the different outlines cause by the overlap. I want to work with tracing paper or fabrics with a slightly sheer quality, and also hope to develop some paintings/prints of overlapping forms and faces in my sketchbook.
Cubism and Picasso
Portrait of Ambroise Vollard, 1910
After thinking about layering and overlapping geometric shapes (based on the paper structures from my lesson today,) I wanted to research more into Picasso's cubist portraiture, as I was interested in the idea of taking a shape and fragmenting it into a portrayal of multiple perspectives on one singular plane. This portrait in particular interested me most as I liked the colour variations in the overlapped shapes, and I wanted to explore overlapping shapes further as part of Public Art using Cubism as inspiration for the fragmenting/overlapping process, which now seems to have become central to the development of shapes for my garment.
The Women of Algiers, 1955
Barbara Hepworth (Working with Colour)
Source: 'Approach to Sculpture', Studio, October 1946
"I have been deeply interested during the last 10 years in the use of colour with form. I have applied oil colour- white, grey, and blues, of different degrees of tone. except in two instances I have always used colour with concave forms. When applied to convex forms I have felt that the colour appeared to be "applied instead of becoming inherent to the formal idea."
Coloured form (Deep Blue and Red), 1940
After researching Hepworth's theories on colour, I realised that in my own sketchbook I had been using a similarly neutral palette of greys, black, white and inky blue. I decided to continue with this palette for the final outcome, but was also really interested in how colour could be something internal that bled outward, so I decided to add blue to my final garment by painting the underside of the leather pattern pieces I'd cut out cerulean. The painting was a slightly messy process, and some of it bled/smudged through onto the other side, but I liked this overall effect as it seemed to reinforce the idea of colour existing internally and bleeding outwards.
7.11.15 The World of Charles and Ray Eames
Developed by Chamberlin, Bon and Powell, the Barbican was built over a decade, costing £156m at the time of opening in 1982. A large area that had originally been devastated after bombing in WW2, the centre was declared "one of the modern wonders of the world" by the Queen. The exposed concrete walls of the barbican (a key characteristic of Brutalism) have been viewed as a reaction against the lighter, more "frivolous" buildings of the 1930s and 1940s- interpreted by some as a representation of an atmosphere of "moral seriousness amongst architects in the second half of the 20th century.
I liked the harshness of the angles in the space, and thought each of the buildings in the barbican had a pleasing sense of order/symmetry. Linking back to the idea of repeating geometric shapes (like I had thought about when visiting the Bridget Riley exhibition in independent study week,) I was interested in the idea of "holes" and how we inhabit space and structures around us.
26.10.15 Bridget Riley @ Courtauld
Sources: Bridget Riley: Learning from Seurat at the Courtauld Gallery on 26th Oct 15
Whilst in the Courtauld Gallery after the Peter Lanyon exhibition, I saw Bridget Riley's work and thought that her repetition of geometric forms might lend itself well to the Tactile Structures project, as much of brutalist architecture relies on the repetition of very simple small shapes (eg. square/rectangular/hexagonal tiles.) It was interesting seeing how Riley herself had produced a version of George Seurat's impressionist work; The Bridge at Courbevoie. It was especially interesting seeing the how she had copied the dotted/blobby mark-making of Seurat's piece in her own version, and how this idea of repeating the same form then bled into her own works (illustrated by the repetitive triangles of Tremor.)
After Seurat's The Bridge at Courbevoie, 1959 (Bridget Riley Version)
Looking at the repetitive dot motif also made me consider how I could use thick blobs of paint to create textures, as well as more traditional forms of stitch or knotting techniques. I think looking at the idea of repetition in brutalist architecture would definitely be a potential starting point for developing my ideas for the textiles project; potentially looking at lines, stripes and grids as well as dots. However, I will need to make more in depth observational studies first in order to get shapes from the architecture to start investigating and working with, so at this point I am really just waiting to find out which brief I should start for next week.