Storytelling on vimeo
Storytelling on vimeo
Ill paint myself because I am so often alone, because I am the subject I know best.
Frida Kahlo de Rivera ( 1907 – July 13, 1954) was a Mexican artist. She used a naïve folk art style to explore questions of identity, postcolonialism, gender, class, and race in Mexican society.
Her paintings often had strong autobiographical elements and mixed realism with fantasy. She was disabled by polio as a child. Then at age eighteen a traffic accident caused lifelong pain and medical problems. It was during her recovery that she decided to leave her earlier ambitions to study medicine and become an artist.
In 1927, she joined the Mexican Communist Party. Here she met the muralist Diego Rivera and they married in 1928. The relationship was volatile and included a year-long divorce; both had extramarital affairs. Throughout her life Kahlo was mainly known as Rivera’s wife. From the 1930s Kahlo’s always fragile health began to decline. She had her first and only solo exhibition in Mexico in 1953, shortly before her death in 1954 at the age of 47.
In the late 1970s her work was rediscovered by art historians and political activists. Kahlo’s work has been celebrated by feminists for what is seen as its uncompromising depiction of the female experience and form. By the early 1990s, she had become not only a recognized figure in art history and the Feminism movement, but also an icon for Chicanos and the LGBTQ movement.
Louise Bourgeois was the main source of inspiration for my series of abstract self-portraits: Assignment 4: Life in Red White Black
Louise Bourgeois was born in Paris in 1911. Her parents ran a tapestry restoration business where she helped out by drawing missing elements in the scenes depicted on the tapestries.
Bourgeois’s work is based, more or less overtly, on memory. Much of her work probes themes of loneliness, jealousy, anger, and fear. Many of these emotions originate in her vivid memories and sense of betrayal by her father who carried on an affair with Sadie Gordon Richmond, the English tutor who lived in the family house. This led her to seek psychoanalysis – a subject she wrote about a lot in her diaries. Through her work she is able to access and analyse hidden (but uncomfortable) feelings, resulting in cathartic release from them. She has said:
Some of us are so obsessed with the past that we die of it. It is the attitude of the poet who never finds the lost heaven and it is really the situation of artists who work for a reason that nobody can quite grasp. They might want to reconstruct something of the past to exorcise it. It is that the past for certain people has such a hold and such a beauty … Everything I do was inspired by my early life.
(Destruction of the Father, p.133.)
Bourgeois started printmaking in 1938, the year she moved to New York with her husband Robert Goldwater (1907-73). She experimented widely with techniques and effects, producing an important portfolio of etchings titled He Disappeared into Complete Silence (The Museum of Modern Art, New York) in the 1940s.
She used drypoint more frequently than any other technique. She produced around 1,500 prints that use only drypoint, or in combination with other intaglio techniques. She liked the fact that the drypoint needle was easy to manipulate and that no acid or special equipment was required. She referred to the scratching as an “endearing” gesture, a kind of “stroking.” While it could not “convert antagonism,” something she admired in engraving, she liked the immediacy of drypoint’s effects, with its soft, irregular line and tentative qualities. She used drypoint in some her most iconic print projects, such as the Sainte Sébastienne series, the portfolio Anatomy, and the illustrated book Ode à Ma Mère, which presents a range of her celebrated spider imagery.(https://www.moma.org/explore/collection/lb/techniques/drypoint)
Malbert, R., (2016) Louise Bourgeois: Autobiographical prints, London: Hayward Publishing.
Muller-Westermann, I. (ed.) (2015) Louise Bourgeois: I Have Been to Hell and Back, Ostfildern, Germany: Hatje Cantz Verlag.
Wye, D., (2017) Louise Bourgeois: An Unfolding Portrait, New York: MoMA.
Rembrandt’s was a key inspiration for:
Goldmark exhibition (has a loupe to see the detail of markmaking)
CD of Rembrandt etchings purchased from Rembrandthuis.
Rembrandt (1606-1669) was a Dutch painter, draughtsman and printmaker. His works cover a wide range of style and subject matter, from portraits and self-portraits to landscapes, genre scenes, allegorical and historical scenes, biblical and mythological themes as well as animal studies.
Rembrandt’s fame while he lived was greater as an etcher than as a painter (he did no engravings or woodcuts). He experimented with different etching and drypoint techniques. He used different mark-making tools to create different types of line – in contrast to the much more mechanical engraving techniques. Rembrandt sometimes employed even the V-shaped engraver’s burin in his etchings, combining it with the fine etching needle and thicker dry point needle, as in the work opposite, for richer pictorial effects.
Rembrandt’s landscape etchings and drypoints are in the classic Dutch ink and watercolour tradition with broody skies over low horizon and dark, cold foreground.
He makes the subjects look alive through the way he uses tone to draw the eye to visual features.
He also experimented with different inking variations for chiaroscuro, producing very different interpretations of the same plate. Etching allows a lot of correction and burnishing to change the image. In some instances his etching were explorations of light and shade that he then transferred into his paintings.
Detailed discussion of Rembrandt’s techniques and the background to his etchings.
‘Warts and all’
Rembrandt’s self portraits
!!to be further elaborated as I finalise Assignments 4 and 5
Francis Bacon’s edgy, visceral paintings tapping the unconscious a key source of inspiration for:
Quotations from the videos below:
We do with our lives what we can. And then we die. What else is there?
If anything ever does work in my case chance, and what I call ‘accident’ takes over.
Gamble everything on the next brush stroke…different strokes trying to do something else then develop themselves
How are you going to trap reality? How are you going to trap an appearance without making an illustration of it?
- Colour of meat is beautiful
Issues for my printmaking:
Tate Gallery Retrospective with words from Francis Bacon spoken by John Hurt
BBC Archive film
His last interview
Works set to music
Jenny Saville’s extremely tactile approach to painting women’s bodies, including her own, as a feminist critique of the way the female nude has been portrayed by the male art establishment has influenced my work in:
Assignment 2: The Human Condition 2: Flesh Here my focus is on the tactility of the body and ways in which different types of paper eg wrinkled blotting paper or tracing paper give different body textures. As well as meanings of different shapes.
Assignment 4: Abstract Self-Portrait (forthcoming)
Assignment 5: Memory? (forthcoming influenced by Aleppo)
“The way to change peoples’ attitudes is just to do it.”
“The struggle is part of making things work”
“Try to create a balance of being unbalanced”
References and resources
Gray, J., L. Nochlin, D. Sylvester and S. Schama (2005?). Jenny Saville. New York, Rizzoli.
Jenny Saville discussing her painting process in 2018 in relation to the All Too Human exhibition at Tate Britain. This is a detailed discussion of her working process and evolution as an artist. She is interested in:
Earlier interview with Jenny Saville, focussing particularly on her recent work with its interest in time and traces, multiple figures and memory.
in exhibition ‘All Too Human’ pieta of people carrying bodies out from war zones. she used lots of photographs of a woman in burqa and lots of bodies.
“I have been working on Pietas [depictions of the Virgin Mary holding the dead body of Christ] quite a bit, and a series of children being carried.
“Over 20 years I have collecting images of babies being carried out of bombings, war situations, in Pieta poses knowing that one day I will do a piece, so this work has been a long time in the making.
“Aleppo is the first one I have released like it.
“I have done paintings linked to war before, but not linked to a political situation – I have endless images from the internet, or from newspapers, of babies that have been killed in these bombings, and when I finished the piece, I have two children myself, how long will it be before we as humans know not to do this?
“When I was titling it, I thought I would link it – for the first time – to what is going on in Syria.
O’Donoghue was born in England but lived and worked for many years in County Kerry, Ireland. He graduated from Goldsmiths in 1982 and was Artist in Residence at the National Gallery, London from 1984-85.
His work is characterised by an engagement with the past. He uses figuration and abstraction to explore themes of human identity, memory, remembering and experience; and draws on history, mythology and personal records to create works which resonate with emotional intensity.
His printmaking includes very large carborundum plates of figures. He mixes fine grain carborundum, acrylic paste and black acrylic paint. He paints this on the plate with a thick brush, wiping off and reworking the image on the plate before it dries. This makes a complex, multi-layered texture. He often uses aluminium plates. Prints on thick Arches paper.
Hughie O’Donoghue installation at IMMA 2009
The Measure of All Things Introduction
‘Artists never completely control the meaning of their work’
The Measure of all Things Westminster Abbey 2014