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SUSAN ALDWORTH

27 Aug

Susan Aldworth: The Portrait Anatomised (National Portrait Gallery)
Produced as part of a commission for Guy’s and St. Thomas’s Hospital in Westminster, the portraits by Susan Aldworth in this display depict three individuals with epilepsy. Expanding a notion of contemporary portraiture, the artist appropriates the illustrative vocabulary of medical science in her innovative printmaking process and in doing so asks how this material corresponds or contrasts with the subject’s sense of self.

I’m not a huge fan of print making, so I actually found the method and ideas whilst creating these portraits more interesting than the final pieces themselves. Perhaps because they were large pieces created quite quickly and perhaps because of the strong connection to health and science that runs through the process.
I feel like a great deal of thought and emotion went into these portraits (the artist has a strong connection to the theme), and I think that is probably why they are so successful.

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EXHIBITION: Keep Your Timber Limber (ICA)

24 Aug

• Explores how artists since the 19040’s to the present day have used drawing to address ideas critical and current to their time.
• Ranging from the politics of gender and sexuality to feminist issues, war, censorship and race.
• The works can all be viewed as being in some way transgressive.
• Using traditional and commercial drawing techniques to challenge specific social, political or stylistic conventions.
• Could be retitled ‘The Penis Exhibition’ because there are that many drawings of dicks.
Works that stood out for me:

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• JUDITH BERNSTEIN
• Sexual violence and acts of war
• Male power
• Pop art and abstract expressionism (historically dominated by male artists).
• Vietnam war
• Against the decisions made predominantly by men on behalf of society

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• CARY KWOK
• Studied fashion
• Beautifully detailed, delicate ballpoint drawings
• Men at the moment of ejaculation (revealing a moment historically associated with defencelessness and weakness)
• Religious figures (universal, regardless of faith)

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• TOM OF FINLAND (aka Touko Laaksonen)
• In opposition to the dominant image of the homosexual in the 1950’s
• Adopted the tougher image (the rebel of the time, the biker)
• First artist to depict ha homosexual man as happy, healthy and masculine.
• Establishing the gay man not as a pervert, but as a joyful person.
• Sometimes with the message ‘Clothed is sexy’
• These images were so popular that the images and ideas that they depict have become somewhat of a cliché

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Loved the little book shop at the ICA. Found about 10 books of interest that I will try and find in the UAL libraries (or add to my Christmas wish list 😛 )

EXHIBITION: Medicine Man and Medicine Now (Wellcome Collection)

23 Aug
  • ‘Medicine Now’ reflects the experiences and interests of scientists, doctors and patients since Henry Wellcome’s death in 1936.
  • The main topics examined are: the body, genomes, malaria, obesity and the experience of medicine.
  • Items exhibited include artistic responses to the issues presented.
  • My favourite works were by Irish/German artist MICHEAL HOPKINS. With white ink on slate Hopkins has created abstract x-ray compositions. The fact that they are slightly abstracted makes them really interesting for me because they look like they could be real x-rays but its uncertain what bones or creature they’re depicting.

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  • SENSE was a sculpture by ANNIE CATTREL illustrating the activity patterns of the human brain as it responds to the five senses.

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  • ‘Medicine Man’ is a vast stockpile of evidence about our universal interest in health and the body.
  • The objects exhibited are from Henry Wellcome’s own collection. They range from diagnostic dolls to Japanese sex aids, and from Napoleon’s toothbrush to George III’s hair.
  • It also provides and very different perspective on some of our own obsessions with medicine and health.
  • Some of the objects are examined by a variety of commentators from different backgrounds, to show that one object can mean many different things and tell many different stories.

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  • The exhibition also contains real human remains, which I find cool and interesting to look at. I also like the display of past instruments used in operations and amputations.  

Exhibition: Propaganda: Power and Persuasion (British Library)

19 Aug

The first thing that comes to my mind when I hear the word propaganda is lies. I think of corrupt governments spreading lies about the enemy to justify wars and other actions. But the current Propaganda exhibition at the British Library has shown me that as the 1950s French political thinker Jacques Driencourt declared, nearly “everything is propaganda”.
The exhibition’s examples of propaganda vary from a bronze coin issued in 290BC bearing the head of Alexander the Great portrayed as Heracles, son of Zeus, to World War two posters, then government health campaigns and even twitter feeds. Together these examples describe propaganda as any efforts to influence beliefs and behaviour.
The exhibition explores the origins, strategies and consequences of state propaganda ending with how digital technology has provided new routes for states to communicate but has also provided new ways for people to challenge and criticise state messages. Social media, such as Twitter, Facebook and online blogs, make everyone a potential propagandist!
Here are a couple of examples from the exhibition that I found interesting or amusing:

‘Personality Identification’ playing cards. Used by soldiers in the Iraq war to help them remember faces and names of different enemy members.

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Superman Bosnian comic book.
This Bosnian comic book cover was used to highlight the plight of land mines in the country. It shows Superman swooping in to save two boys hunting for war souvenirs in a minefield. It was later band however, when children actually went looking for land mines hoping that they would meet superman and he would come to their rescue!

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I also bought a book whilst at the museum: George Orwell’s ‘Animal Farm’

Paint Made Flesh

13 Nov

Paint Made Flesh examines the ways in which European and American painters have used oil paint and the human body to convey enduring human vulnerabilities, among them anxieties about desire, appearance, illness, aging, war, and death. In the tradition of great figure painting stretching back to Rembrandt and Titian, the 34 artists in the exhibition, working in the years since World War II, exploit oil paint’s visual and tactile properties to mirror those of the body, while exploring the body’s capacity to reflect the soul.

Drawn from private and public collections and arranged by chronology and nationality, the 43 paintings in the exhibition reflect a wide range of styles. Strong colors and vigorous brushwork associated with German expressionism give crude life to figures by artists ranging from the San Francisco Bay area painters to a younger generation, including Markus Lüpertz and Susan Rothenberg. Candid depictions of flesh by British painters Francis Bacon and Lucian Freud suggest psychological pain at the margins of society, while paint as skin betrays the inner feelings of Jenny Saville’s swollen females.

Other artists represented include Karel Appel, Cecily Brown, Francesco Clemente, John Currin, Eric Fischl, Willem de Kooning Leon Kossoff, David Park, Julian Schnabel, and Pablo Picasso.