My studio in Vermont, located in the Wolf Kahn building beside the Gihon river. March - April 2013
Thanks to the Vermont Studio Center, I‘ve been able to spend a month exploring and responding to the beautiful terrain of the Green Mountains, working each day by the flowing waters and cascading rapids of the Gihon river. The month began in heavy snow and ended with the first signs of spring, as the ice flows slowly dissolved and the rivers rose up with the roar and rush of melt water.
Arriving from London with two rolls of paper and a few drawing materials I set out to find a way of recording this parcel of time by interacting with the river’s alchemy, pacing out the days - sometimes icily cold, sometimes warm and wet as the season changed - with images made both with the water and of the water.
Responding to its vibrant sounds, both its pulsing rush and gentle whisper, was a way to reconcile its irresistible force and glittering surface with the mutating course of its submerged history. The resulting series of images, each made in one continuous sitting, developed their own non-verbal language: a kind of writing on water, in water.
Johnson Vermont USA: International Artists residency, March 30th - April 26th 2013.
A cloud floats by: a suspended moment, a weightless presence, an unformed thought, a singular impression on the face of the earth.
A small lithograph to begin the new year, printed by the Curwen Press, January 2013.
The movement between East & West is integral to Francesco Clemente’s life and work. His identification with India in particular, and long periods spent working in Madras, gave his work an original and mystical dimension when shown in the west alongside the new expressionist painters of the 1980s – especially so as modern Indian art had little international visibility at the time. Since then the resurgent subcontinent and the global art market has brought a new generation to the attention of western collectors & curators, leaving Clemente’s hybrid vision looking outdated. The material and spiritual traffic between East & West has changed, something Clemente appears ill disposed to, judging by the somnolent procession of faceless backpackers moving across one of his new canvases. And yet he was jut such a traveller seeking enlightenment when he set out in the 70s.
The signs of cultural transmission – the sketchy mandalas and snatches of sanskrit - seem both overly familiar and cursorily executed. The diverse symbols loosely scattered across his large canvases diminish rather than increase their mystical charge: in ‘The ark’ a classical temple sits on a vessel above a swollen sea of eastern script, while in ‘Sand bites mandala’ (below) the diagram’s sacred heart is subverted by mobile technology (perhaps signifying the desire for new systems of connectivity to replace the old).
Clemente wants ‘to generate the fragmentary language not of one mind but of many minds, not of one truth but of many contradictory truths, not of one culture but of a dynamic mix of cultures’, but his simultaneous overlaying of western thought (in ‘Letter to Carlyle’) and romantic imaginings (Blake & Fuseli) serves only to confuse rather than illuminate his references. The former delicacy and poetic richness of his watercolours and work on paper has given way to late work that - on this showing at least - seems both hurried and overblown.
Blain Southern, London 30 November 2012 – 26 January 2013
cross country explores the subtle graphic and spatial interplay between the work of three artists who each recover, through the cryptic tracery of lines and marks, crossings and erasures, the tactile experience and remembered contours of their chosen territory.
The large wall piece, a ‘spatial re-enactment’ in white chalk created for this project by Andrew Vass, concentrates on ‘the performative nature of drawing, the trace in relation to spaces, as a direct response or an internalized choreography’.
Alongside, Kate Palmer shows three of her recent portrait format drawings which relate to her snowboarding experiences, while Luke Elwes extends through his new work on paper an enquiry into the mind as landscape and how mark making becomes a means of crossing it.
New work by Andrew Vass, Luke Elwes & Kate Palmer
Broadbent Gallery, London
29 November – 15 December 2012