Category Archives: Feature

MOON

In one of Ai Weiwei’s latest artistic ventures, he teams up with iconic artist Olafur Eliasson to create a crowd-based collaborative project titled ‘Moon’.

Moon

Moon

Within this interactive website, anybody sitting behind a computer can leave their mark on the ‘Moon‘. Of this collaborative piece, Weiwei and Eliasson explain:

“Touch the moon by drawing on it – a vision, doodle, statement, a greeting, thought. . . your drawing is a hinge between you, everyone else, and the universe.”
Moon - detail

Moon – detail

This work becomes something of a gigantic, universal graffiti wall, where virtual visitors from all over the world are invited to illustrate whatever they like onto this interactive canvas. This collaboration between each contributing artist allows for a way to connect to like-minded souls from all over the globe and be a part of something extraordinary.

“Celebrate with us the gathering of creative powers from around the globe to mark the passage from nothing to something and from thinking into doing. Savour this moment of transformation. Leave your fingerprint and see the shared moon grow as others reach out too. Let’s show the world that together our marks matter. Creativity defies boundaries.”
Moon - overview

Moon – overview

“Ideas, wind, and air no one can stop.”

All images © Ai Weiwei & Olafur Eliasson

Leave your mark on the moon here.

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SPOTLIGHT: Stan Brakhage

Following from our post looking into the realm of the ‘Hyperreal’, we are continuing to explore avenues of painting we haven’t typically discussed within our online features. The world of moving image is something we don’t typically host at the gallery so this immediately presented itself as a phenomenon worth investigating. Through this research we came across Stan Brakhage, an artist working from 1952 – 2003, who experimented with both moving image and paint. Perfect! The piece below from 1987 is titled ‘The Dante Quartet’, and is simply astounding.

Divided into four parts, ‘The Dante Quartet’ explores the realms of Hell, Purgatory and Heaven, acting as a sort of visual representation (or interpretation, you be the judge) of the seminal literary wonder, Dante’s Divine Comedy. However what we found most intriguing about Brakhage’s piece is his personal affiliation with the words of Dante:

“Then comes a moment when suddenly I can’t handle the language anymore, like I can’t read one more translation of The Divine Comedy, and suddenly I realize it’s in my eyes all the time, that I have a vision of Hell, I have even more necessary kind of a way of getting out of Hell, kind of a springboard in my thinking, closing my eyes and thinking what I’m seeing […] and also purgation, that I can go through the stages of purging the self, of trying to become pure, free of these ghastly visions, and then there is something that’s as close to Heaven as I would hope to aspire to, which I call “existence is song”. And that all of that was in my eyes all the time, backfiring all these years. It’s lovely that I can have the language, but I also have a visual corollary of it, but that is a story.”
Stan Brakhage - 'The Dante Quartet' film still

Stan Brakhage – ‘The Dante Quartet’ film still

It would then appear that Brakhage is producing this experimental film to rid himself of these visions of Hell, creating a new form of poetry in itself. Taking six years to produce, this 8-minute piece involved Brakhage painting directly onto lengths film to create the incredible montage of still images we see fleeting before our eyes. The piece became a very personal journey for Brakhage, who went through a marital breakdown intertwined with a personal crisis, so realted to each stage of the film on a very deep level.

“I made Hell Itself during the breakup with Jane Brakhage and the collapse of my whole life, so I got to know quite well the streaming of the hypnagogic that’s hellish. Now the body can not only feed back its sense of being in hell but also its getting out of hell, and Hell Spit Flexion shows the way out – it’s there as crowbar to lift one out of hell toward the transformatory state – purgatory. And finally there’s a fourth state that’s fleeting. I’ve called the last part existence is song quoting Rilke, because I don’t want to presume upon the after-life and call it Heaven.”
Stan Brakhage

Stan Brakhage

As well as being aesthetically incredible, Brakhage has created a deeply poignant piece, and we here at The Strand cannot help but be mesmerised at this beautiful film and the message it delivers.

All images and film © Stan Brakhage

HYPERREAL

Our current exhibition, ‘Harmony’, brought to the gallery by Denise Hamilton and Nuray Yigiter explores various themes through the medium of paint. However today’s feature will not necessarily explore the themes that Denise and Nuray look into, but will rather investigate a type of painting itself that we at The Strand Gallery find wildly interesting – Hyperrealism.

© Chuck Close

© Chuck Close

Possibly one of the most well known Hyperrealist paintings of all time comes in the form of the above self portrait from Chuck Close, an absolute master of the field. The term ‘Hyperreal’ is defined as being ‘exaggerated in comparison to reality’ – or ‘extremely realistic in detail’ when used within the art world – and it is a skill that only a select few can truly cultivate.

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The pure wonder of hyperrealist works comes from the fact that the amount of sheer talent necessary to pull off a piece of hand-painted work so terrifyingly realistic is just unfathomable. The above works by Jason de Graaf are so astoundingly good it’s quite scary. What we at the gallery love most about pieces like this is seeing them in the flesh and just not even believeing that they’re paintings – that is the sign of a true artist. Much like the next collection by Victor Rodriguez

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These pieces by Brooklyn-based Rodriguez are another collection that we find simply amazing. Scrolling through these pieces is enough to make even the most talented of artists green with envy.

ARTIST FEATURE: Jayne Worthington

One of the exhibited artists in Border Collective is photographer Jayne Worthington. We set one member of our team the task of researching the artist and the particular piece she is exhibiting with us, and putting together a critical analysis on the project from an outsider’s perspective. Here is what she found:

TIME PASSES. LISTEN. TIME PASSES.

Jayne Worthington

Jayne Worthington

Jayne Worthington’s Time Passes. Listen. Time Passes is her most conceptually ambitious project to date: claiming to question ‘perceived understandings of landscape’, especially ‘the notion[s] of freedom and escapism’ associated with it and even ‘the validity of her own personal approach’. In addition, these preoccupations further complicate the title’s rare significance. Thus, the distinguished modesty of these photographs, which depict vast and still rural spaces, is unexpected but alluring. In fact, the more we engage with the work – and perform its poetic demands – the more we appreciate the masterful delicacy of Worthington’s artistic approach.

Jayne Worthington

Jayne Worthington

Therefore, looking into these scenes;

Listen.

Time Passes.

Listen.

They become filled with ourselves;

Worthington asks us to animate this landscape and because of the absence of people, animals and movement in these simple, vacuous spaces, we can. In doing so, we realise that such imaginative appropriation of it is distinctly personal, inevitable, and insatiable. This materialises in the idiosyncrasies of these photographs, which, since a surprising number showcase the resplendence of the natural light and the sublime scope of the landscape, seem to acknowledge the temptation to accentuate its idyllic potential. However, she ensures that as we inevitably grasp at the landscape’s positive energy, our visual and imaginative flux is disrupted by the marks of human construction. It seems that our contribution to the landscape only undermines the ideals we ceaselessly propagate.

Jayne Worthington

Jayne Worthington

The collection’s success relies on Worthington’s subtle visual exploitation of the tensions she strives to address. She coaxes us into self-realisation by affronting us with the familiar in a startlingly static form, moreover exciting our interest in the negative potential of nature’s aesthetics to prove how ambiguous its promise actually is.

Jayne Worthington

Jayne Worthington

Written by Elizabeth Worby.

All images © Jayne Worthington.

Jayne’s work can be seen as part of Border Collective at The Strand Gallery between 16th – 21st July.

Further examples of Jayne’s practice can be seen here.

Faces Around Westminster

To coincide with John Stewart Farrier’s Voices from Westminster here at The Strand Gallery, we have put together a mini-exhibition in our Print Sales Room. This mini-show has been put together from Proud’s permanent collection as a means of complementing yet questioning the works surrounding them.

Dorothy Bohm

Dorothy Bohm

Taking on Farrier’s political stance from within the walls of Parliament, this mini show is focusing on the broader spectrum of the city’s social stance around the Westminster area.

Ken Russell

Ken Russell

Calling on images from classic London settings, we are exploring a similar candid style that Farrier shows throughout Voices from Westminster, while maintaining a contrasting view of subject matter.

Dorothy Bohm

Dorothy Bohm

These classic London prints will be on show in our Print Sales Room for the duration of the accompanying exhibition. The images chosen focus on the broader spectrum of the public surroundings of Westminster, contrasted with the private interiors of Farrier’s images.

Ken Russell

Ken Russell

All images © Dorothy Bohm and © Ken Russell

Voices from Westminster can be seen at the Strand Gallery until 13th July.

WESTMINSTER FEATURE: Government Art Collection

To coincide with our current Voices from Westminster  exhibition by John stewart Farrier here at The Strand Gallery, we want to explore the recurring theme of art and politics that is portrayed through Ferrier’s portraits – a theme we haven’t really touched upon before. One member of the team pitched the idea of a feature on Government art collecting, and we wanted them to run free with the concept. So here goes:

Today, the Government Art Collection is one of the most important collections in British art, bringing together pieces dating from the 16th century to the present day. It was in fact the rising costs of decoration in 1898 which motivated officials to use artwork to cover the walls and start the collection, which currently stands at over 13,500 paintings and sculptures, highlighting the importance of art to the Government today.

Idris Khan - Bach... Six Suites for the Solo Cello

Idris Khan – Bach… Six Suites for the Solo Cello

Art is selected for the Government Art Collection with the help of an advisory committee, who choose works from artists who have a strong British connection. The placement of art works in government buildings and embassies is also based on a piece’s connection to a location. For example, to mark Ireland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, pieces were chosen from across European member states to exhibit, with the Farmleigh Gallery in Dublin acquiring Idris Khan’s “Bach … Six Suites for the Solo Cello” until the end of June.

L.S. Lowry - Lancashire Fair: Good Friday, Daisy Nook

L.S. Lowry – Lancashire Fair: Good Friday, Daisy Nook

Works from the Collection are displayed in the offices and reception rooms of several hundred major British Government buildings in the United Kingdom and around the world. Thousands of people visit these buildings every year and therefore the works of art themselves play a vital role in helping to promote British art and artists.

A conservator at work on location in 10 Downing Street © Crown Copyright

A conservator at work on location in 10 Downing Street
© Crown Copyright

Written by Stephanie Jenkins.

Voices from Westminster by John Stewart Ferrier can be seen at The Strand Gallery between 3rd – 13th July.

All images © Government Art Collection.