BogeArt Review- Late at the Tate ‘Feminist Tour’

Late at the Tate – a bi-monthly evening of poetry, paintings and performance – a popular venue and experience; certainly worthwhile for any culture vultures like myself. The feminist tour, led by the capable and renowned Sutapa Biswas, was indeed enlightening and every bit as feisty and liberal as eye-rollers might imagine when they hear the illegitimately notorious f-word. Biswas perhaps sacrificed delving into the intricacies of the works we saw for the sake of name-dropping and Gove shaming, but nonetheless the hour was insightful and rightfully rigorously opinionated.
I was made abundantly more aware of the difficulties artists encounter when having their work belatedly acquisitioned by the Tate; a problem that seemed particularly sexist to Biswas but perhaps is more political than it is gendered. Of course, female artists are generally first in the firing line in an era of austerity and attacks on the arts, but this is an increasingly prevalent issue that should be greeted with a united response to ensure art remains an appreciated necessary aspect of british culture. However, it is signifiant that just 13% of Tate Britain’s collection can be credited to female artists, as I was repeatedly told. The history of art has generally been the history of male orientated works; women are the lucky objects of sexualisation, rarely the protagonist.
We were shown a piece by Rose Finn-Kelcey, The Restless Image: An effective photograph capturing the distance between what is felt and what is seen; a perfectly calculated motion in front of an eerily silent backdrop. Biswas seemed to be grasping at straws when she attributed the handprints in the sand to leaving a mark for the rest of womankind in the exclusive world of art, but when presenting a feminist tour whilst providing a colourful list of friends and contacts it was an understandably tenuous comment. Biswas’ main rhetoric with regards to Finn-Kelcey revolved around her work being acquisitioned by Tate Britain after four decades’ worth of attempts. A frustration shared by many aspiring artists, supposedly of both genders but nonetheless hard-hitting.
I fail to see a direct gender focus in this photograph – the title itself addresses the theme and orientation of Finn-Kelcey’s art; motion and restlessness. Gender and Identity are significant contemporary motifs that could have been better explored, especially considered our current context where the realms of feminism and popular culture are no longer discrete. Regardless, Biswas was a charismatic artist and the tour was well worthwhile.

-Alex Newell (BogeArt contributor)

BogeArt- Humans of Art:

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Alex, 19, History Student, at Late at the Tate,                                                                                 ‘I will definitely come back- it’s a great alternative to the usual Friday night pre-drinks. I’ve never been to the Tate Britain before and, since there was so much going on, the permanent collection was virtually empty, so it gave me chance to explore it undisturbed!’

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BogeArt Event- Late at the Tate 6th June:

Maddy and I were invited to this month’s Late at the Tate by a friend of mine who was performing. Late at the Tate is a great programme where one can enjoy a cultural evening with free entry to the exhibitions if you are 15-25yrs old. When we arrived there was a band playing on the lawn, free ice-cream and dozens of air force 1’s and acid wash straight from the studios of the Tate’s neighbour, Chelsea Art School.

This Late at the Tate theme was ‘Inhabit’, with the aim to ‘explore what it means to occupy space through sound and visuals focusing on issues of displacement, marginalisation, and feminism’. There were poetry performances hosted by The A & The E (https://www.facebook.com/theaandthee) and a feminist tour by Sutapa Biswas which our friend Alex went on. Her article on the tour is coming shortly.

Music played a big part in the evening with MogaDisco, Skinny Girl Diet, Dionne Reid and Reprezent Radio gracing the stage on the lawn. In the Tate’s BP Spotlight Source room (curated by Tate Collective London with the aim to draw links between the display of art in a salon hang and 21st century digital and social media platforms), Blackmale Beats played. When we went to investigate the Source room there was little emphasis on the display, with all the beer bottle-holding hipsters and the tall DJ with a trendy beard and a Pharrell hat (#noexcuse) there were too many cool vibes to pay attention to the art.

The highlight for me was the free entry to the Kenneth Clark- Looking for Civilisation exhibition, which is normally £11. A closer evaluation of the exhibition is coming soon. On the whole a lovely evening, but then again how can it not be with the sun, the Thames, free ice-cream and the Tate!

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Maddy in the oh-so-trendy BP Spotlight Source room.

for more info go to http://www.tate.org.uk/whats-on/tate-britain/eventseries/late-tate-britain

– Isabella Bornholt; BogeArt

BogeArt- Humans of Art:

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Sana, 19, Pharmacy Student; Sabs, 19, Art Student. John Deakin exhibition at the Photographers Gallery.                                                                                                                       ‘I’ve never really been into art or thought to explore it (its not a huge part of my Kurdish culture) but recently i went to the National Portrait Gallery with some friends and had a great time. I came here to further explore what London has to offer art-wise’ -Sana             ‘I’m happy to help educate her!’ -Sabs

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BogeArt Review- Under The Influence: John Deakin and the lure of Soho

Deakin Drinking, 1960s, John Deakin, Courtesy Robin Muir Chefs in a Soho Café, 1957, John Deakin, Courtesy Robin Muir Jeffrey Bernard, Cambridge Circus, London, 1950s, John Deakin, Courtesy Robin Muir

Previously, and perhaps naively, I have seen photography purely as a form of documentation. Even during the, albeit brief, period at 15 when I wanted to be a landscape/nature photographer, what excited me about taking photos was seeing something beautiful and capturing it in that ephemeral moment. I have too readily dismissed photography as merely the perfect image; ignoring the emotive instincts in a scenario which other art forms more blatantly depict. Paintings, sculptures and installations are more calculated, more contrived, with the artist being able to alter as much as they wish in any given expansive period of time. A photograph can be prepared for, but it must all inevitably and somewhat uncontrollably fall into place in an instant.

I haven’t forgotten Photoshop, but photography relies largely on seeming real (that is surely what sets it apart from other forms of image making?). When that realness is altered in such an emotionless way- a computer mouse does not transfer the sensibility of the human hand- I think perhaps it brings with it an emptiness/falseness that is absent from unaltered photographs. Saying this I understand that flicking through magazines and getting lost on Nowness has its appeal, but forgive me for being excited to seeing some unedited, black and white unfiltered photographs.

John Deakin’s style of photography is not contrived or overly thought through. There is a really great part of the exhibition where we get to see Deakin’s selection process. There is a contact sheet on display of a series of portraits of the writer Frank Norman, with the version that Deakin selected to be the final piece circled on the sheet. This highlights the organic qualities of his work, as these images do not vary greatly, its feels as though he circling the image that made the most interesting portrait came naturally to him. He feels at ease as a photographer.

Deakin strove for appreciation as a painter. He almost resented his success as a photographer- he was hired and fired by Vogue multiple times. Daniel Farson, a friend of Deakin, said the photographer ‘feared success more than failure and embraced the latter with a customary nonchalance’. At the core of this exhibition is Deakin’s relationship with each medium and his attitude towards success. He was a natural photographer; he didn’t seem to labour over it. His paintings on the other hand, as primitive in style as they are, feel stressed and forced. His work and fear of success (similar to the modern attitude to ‘selling out’) seem intertwined. He was his own worst enemy, craving the opposite of what the world gave him. It might also be worth noting that he was a heavy drinker and on numerous occasions sabotaged his work at vogue- his main source of income.

I think that one of the reasons his photographs communicate more effectively than his paintings (although his paintings fetch a decent sum now) is the fact that he focused on portraiture. As I argued before photographs can easily be emotionless and robotic; the way Deakin avoided this was by focusing on portraits. It is hard to make an image void of feeling when it is a portrait; with a person’s eyes (windows to the soul) and expressions available to snap.

I was not expecting to take these ideas from the exhibition, on the contrary I was ready to merely scratch the surface of the images by instead paying attention to the depiction of 50’s and 60’s Soho (an area I grew up in). If this is all one is looking for it will not disappoint, there are portraits of locals, artisans and workers in Soho’s bohemian streets. There are also other gems like the portrait of a young Lucian Freud, in Fitzroy Square, staring into the camera.

-Isabella Bornholt; BogeArt

BogeArt Review- Building the Picture: Architecture in Italian Renaissance Painting

The National Gallery has started curating exhibitions looking to rejuvenate their permanent collection by encouraging us to engage with these works (many of which hang in forgotten about parts of the gallery or storage normally) from a different angle.

“Buildings in paintings have always been treated as a background, as something subordinate to the figures themselves,” says Amanda Lillie, co-curator of Building the Picture, “We’re arguing that the buildings are active protagonists. They’re not just propping up the characters, but are also capable of carrying key messages and performing a series of crucial roles themselves.”

This DIY-exhibition is rather ingenious; the National Gallery does not have the trouble of borrowing/commissioning work, and the limitations that come with only using NG works invite curious and exciting ways to approach the art. It was really interesting to look a little more closely at works I would perhaps walk past on a regular visit, or works I knew fairly well (e.g Carlo Crivelli’s Annunciation) and really consider the architectural feats achieved in paint that perhaps surpassed those achieved in real life.

The exhibition begins with five short films which give five contemporary perspectives on imagined architecture. The short I found the most interesting in regards to the exhibition was the film on computer game cinematics. Computer game cinematic director Peter Gornstein talks us through the construction of virtual architecture, and like was often the case with Renaissance paintings, the virtual world provides a platform for architect to realise their imagined dreams. What is visible in many of paintings in the exhibition is the idea of the painted architecture surpassing the real life architectural possibilities of the Renaissance; many are of such a fantastical nature that the construction would doubtfully seem possible even today.

What is also drawn to attention through the comparison with video games is the idea of entering a space/world when viewing these paintings. The architectural features in their most blatant form provide context; but these Renaissance images, thanks to the developments in perspective, allow the viewer to visually step into the beautifully crafted religious scene. Similar to how we step into a virtual world when playing video games. When looking at the Antonello da Messina’s Saint Jerome in his Study, c.1475, I almost feel as though I can walk into the study and turn a corner to explore the church-like setting, like I would be able to if it were a video game.

Crivelli’s Annunciation appears early on in the exhibition, marking the end of the Middle Ages with its love of magnificent patterns and linear effects and the introduction to the mathematical and convincing Renaissance. Crivelli does comply with the idea of architectural fantasy that was explored in the films. His passion for adorning every inch of the picture area creates an impractical and divine scene that surpasses the realms of reality. Segments of the back panel from Duccio’s Measta and The Virgin and Child with Saints by Lorenzo Costa and Gianfrancesco Maineri show us how the architectural features in art can be used as a narrative tool. Duccio’s panels were part of a series, and he was revolutionary in how he used the architectural structures to lead our eyes through the scenes and on to the next. In Costa and Maineri’s work the architecture allows for several stories to be told within the one unified image, e.g Adams Temptation in the bottom center is part of the interior architecture.

I could go on as for such a small exhibition it covers a lot of ground, but perhaps more importantly it inspires curiosity, forces us to look, really look, and investigate what the architecture in the paintings actually does. If you wish to delve deeper and learn more on the subject the catalogue is online (amazing) as are the films. With so much homework material it is clear why art critic Waldemar Januszack wrote that he was ‘enjoying the show for five hours’ – I must confess I only managed a measly three.

-Isabella Bornholt; BogeArt