Top 6 June
I visited fourteen exhibitions in June. Honestly, it has been the most difficult month for choosing my favourites. So many great works! Some of the artists deserve extended discussion, some of them – honourable mentions. To my favourites, I should have included Deborah Roberts for her collages focusing on race and beauty, Cy Twombly for his incredible lyricism in Natural History lithographs, Luchita Hurtado for the use of crayons and watercolours (such an effective combination for textural compositions!) in her works, and Frank Bowling for making colours so vital. However, for one reason or another, my favourites from June are listed below.
Michael Craig-Martin (b.1941, Britain)
Michael Craig-Martin: Sculpture (31 May – 3 Aug 2019) @Gagosian, Britannia street, London
Michael Craig-Martin has occupied London art scene completely. Royal Academy features his work at Summer Exhibition. His posters are shining in Bond Street, Mayfair, London. His signature style consists of clean outline of everyday objects and vivid colours of flat planes within the outline. No chance, it goes unrecognizable.
However, when you think about clean outline of one plane, it makes an illustration, a drawing, but is it possible to transform it to three-dimensional object without losing artist’s signature? All Craig-Martin’s sculptures presented at the Gagosian hold everything you can expect from him. Craig-Martin’s sculptures, three to four metres in height, made from powder-coated steel, look like drawings from afar, and merges into single thin line when looking from side. These large, yet elegant sculptures invite to think about conceptual power of everyday objects. Thus, why scale is so important? Why does context for an object matter so much? There is a paperclip somewhere on the desk. Isn’t it the same?
Two Girls and a Dog
Acrylic on paper on canvas, 1987
Link: image is 7th in the article
Paula Rego (b.1935, Portugal)
Paula Rego: Obedience and Defiance(15 Jun – 22 Sep 2019) @MK Gallery, Milton Keynes
Absolutely wonderful storyteller. The beauty of her work is spontaneity presented within the narrative, allowing to forget how well it was planned.
Oil and dry transferring lettering on canvas, 1974-1975
Francis Bacon (1909-1992, Irish-born British)
Francis Bacon Couplings(9 Jun – 3 Aug 2019) @Gagosian, Grosvenor Hill, London
Work from the exhibition of double figure paintings. Rare treat and tormenting pleasure to see Bacon’s works. Sharp division of horizon, areas of unpainted canvas and unrecognizable faces suggest the highly expressive manner of the process of making the work. Figures look like they were photographed many times, and the images were merged to celebrate the movement, intensity, passion.
Oil, charcoal and paper on canvas, 1976
Lee Krasner (1908 - 1984, USA)
Lee Krasner: Living Colour (11 Apr – 1 Sep 2019) @Barbican, London
Lee Krasner was a pioneer of Abstract Expressionism, and the exhibition consistently proves the point. The idea from her works I took home was the way she reinvented/recreated her work through time. Instead of holding onto old drawings, she used it as a raw material for a series of collages. To create, to examine, to continue. Krasner took an irreverent pleasure in seeing these treasured remnants of her past cut up, as is written in the official press release of the exhibition. Would you dare to reinvent your work so drastically?
WhiteChess Set/Play It By Trust
White painted table, stools, chess set, artist’s instruction piece, 1966/2019
Yoko Ono (1933, Japan)
Sky Pieces(15 Jun – 6 Oct 2019) @The Heong Gallery, Cambridge
Yoko Ono is a queen of ideas. She examines your imagination. She asks to participate. More than that – she invites to contribute to the process of art making. And all is done through instructions and pure installations. Listen, read, do.
To play white chess (white versus white pieces) is a challenging task requiring courage to take an action and incredible self-control. It is so easy to let opponent wander and wonder which of the pieces are his/her. Is it about war or peace? When is the right time to stop? When you don’t remember your moves anymore, or when you feel the end is close?...
Mixed media on paper collage, 2007
Howardena Pindell (b.1943, USA)
Howardena Pindell (5 Jun – 27 Jul 2019) @Victoria Miro Mayfair, London
Circle is an exciting shape to work with, - says the artist. Her exploration of circle in her work goes from two-dimensional spray paintings to three-dimensional works, more like collages. Colourfully painted circles are arranged in asymmetric form, as it was no boundaries, no sharp corners, no edges, no limitations. Nothing constrains the artist to achieve the amorphous, dynamic tension between aggregate and whole. The additional thread implied linear against the circular, giving an extra dimensionality in her works. Inspiring achievement.