Two Exhibitions: Jon Rafman and John Hoyland

I'm not going to say much about these two exhibitions, well at least I'm not setting out to but I never know when I start writing what may develop. So, the first experience was the Jon Rafman exhibition; and experience is the right word here as his work really encourages interaction. I find this kind of thing very difficult to write about, probably because I'm unfamiliar with many of the references, these being: video games, internet memes and virtual landscapes. However, this didn't stop me enjoying the show very much. The key for me is spending time with the pieces, just relaxing and watching the videos a few times to get into the 'zone'.

The essential pieces in this exhibition comprise of a video trilogy exploring the deep internet; a collage of images exploring desire, consumerism, escapism and memory within the subculture of on-line communities. These are all very powerful works, sometimes hypnotic and sometimes violently exciting. I particularly liked Erysichthon (Temple Ruins) and Sticky Drama. Videos are experienced within their own environments, one called Betamale invites you to climb into a container filled with balls; we didn't go in but watched others from the mezzanine, which was quite amusing.

We were there on the opening day of this exhibition and there were a lot of people, consequently we missed some of the pieces due to queues. We will be going back for the Sculpture Garden (Hedge Maze) and various smaller pieces which are like cupboard units. On entering through a door you can watch the videos in a sort of Tardis/cupboard...I made the classic mistake of opening one up while someone was in it saying "Oh I am sorry" and quickly exiting the area.

Zablbdowicz collection  This exhibition is free to get in and is on until 20 December 2015.

Exhibition number two was in the newly opened Newport Street Gallery. This was the opening exhibition for Damien Hirst's new gallery, set up to show his own collection. The space is very nice; two floors coated in ultra-white, clean paint and impressive stairways connecting the two spaces. All the paintings on show were by John Hoyland and covered the period between 1964 - 1982. If you go to this show looking for meaning you won't find much, or maybe you look for references to the world around you in a painting but that will be missing too. What these works are about is pure painting and pure colour. They are very experimental works. You will experience the artist searching for different ways to apply paint, for example, very thin washes against thick slabs of colour with hard but not precise edges. They go from being quite tidy and neat to explosive and messy; from jewel-like reds blues and greens to works that are fleshy and pink and reminded us of exploding cakes. Being predominately decorative, I thought the work was good but not deep; to me they are all about the surface. Still, I enjoyed going to a new gallery space and viewing work that I haven't seen before. Also it was enjoyable to mooch around Vauxhall, where we encountered alpacas in a nearby City farm and sweet potato chips in a pub that were very good.

These two exhibitions are polar opposites and cannot be compared but for me the Jon Rafman was more fun whilst the John Hoyland felt sedate and laid-back.

Plenty of time left for this as it is on until 3.4.2016

Alice Anderson: Memory Movement Memory Objects

So, for my sins, this week I had to go to hospital for an Endoscopy. That's the one where they stick a camera down your throat, go on a tour of your innards and then take a few snaps like they're on some sort of weird holiday. I chose not to be sedated, which meant copious amounts of mental preparation in order to remain calm.

Anyway,  I arrived at UCH Hospital in Euston with half an hour to spare so I popped into the Wellcome building a couple of doors down to kill some time and found myself in another world entirely. Inside was a free exhibition by Alice Anderson called Memory Movement Memory Objects. As I entered I found myself in a very dark environment so it took a moment for my eyes to adjust but standing out against this black void was the shape of a car entirely wrapped in copper wire, reflecting the available light beautifully. 

On exploring further I found myself in another room filled with many objects on walls and plinths all wrapped up, shining away like jewels inside a cave. I can remember a record deck and some empty toothpaste tubes that had been given the 'treatment'.

In another room there were sculptures made up of combinations of objects. I particularly liked these, perhaps because the composite objects had morphed into a new entity, becoming generally larger and more sculptural than the single pieces.

This led into the room with an installation of giant proportions. Immediately I was reminded of my own intestines; it seemed kind of symbolic of my forthcoming situation but it was a very soothing experience being in the room.

There were some other groupings: one of small geometric shapes and another of a large circle of vertical but flat rectangular shapes reminding me of Stonehenge.

There was was a surprisingly large collection of work. Big items like a canoe and a wheelbarrow were in the last room. It's all about committing moments to memory and rediscovering things you thought you knew but for me it was just a really nice place to be before being kind of tortured. 

So if you find yourself near Euston and you want to get away from it all for a bit, take yourself into another world of darkness and quiet where gleaming morphed objects sit quietly waiting for you to gaze on them. Alternatively, if you really fancy a bit of wrapping you can join in and wrap up one of the donated objects.

This exhibition is on until 18 October and is free to get in.

September Holiday in Nice with a bit of Art in the mix...

Well, I've been away on my hols, that's why I've been a bit on the quiet side. It wasn't a quiet holiday though, in fact it was very busy and I'm quite glad to be back so that I can have a rest. 

What a great city Nice is, it's big, challenging, totally beautiful and it's by the sea! I wouldn't mind living there in another life but it's très chaud, that's the only trouble. I think I would have to live in Northern France, let's say Dinard (which is also gorgeous) and have a place in Nice too that I could enjoy from September onwards...yes that would be very NICE...geddit!  

Who was it that said "Nice is not nice"? I've looked this up and cannot find the answer but anyway I disagree; it's got so much going for it. A city right on the Côte d’Azur is pretty impressive but it has many other plus points. Forgive me if you're already a fan but I shall list just a few here: elegant architecture, top shopping, very modern tramway, cheap as chips to get around, lovely food, attractive people who are very fond of dogs (especially tiny ones) and access to virtually the whole of the South of France by the train which runs along the coast and of course the ART, of which there is a lot, both in and near to Nice. There's so much to see and do we should of had two weeks instead of one but now I've got an excuse to visit again.

The last time we were in France we stayed in Antibes and went to Nice for the day where we visited The Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art. This time we stayed right in the city and decided to visit once more but unfortunately it wasn't free to get in as they now!  It was still good to see the permanent works such as the Pop Art section, the Yves Klein, Niki de Saint Phalle and Tinguely. We also enjoyed a substantial temporary exhibition by Keith Sonnier, who makes sculpture with neon light. He's known as a Postminimalist who also works in performance and video art. Thankfully we were able to take photographs (that's forbidden at the Matisse and Naive Art Museums). Here's a record of our visits, which were often rather rushed due to our busy itinerary.

Keith Sonnier

Along the coast near the border of Italy is Menton, a lovely town with a hilltop village that's very pretty and popular but we didn't go for the village, we were there to swim and visit both Jean Cocteau Museums, a little old one and a gigantic and architecturally impressive new one. Jean Cocteau was an artist, poet, film maker, playwright, designer and writer. He could turn his hand to anything but seemed to infuse poetry into all the disciplines he worked in. I particularly enjoyed his free and easy drawings which are totally uninhibited. The sectioned-off area was amusing, being dedicated to some of his rather graphic drawings of the sexual act, mostly depicting men with totally exaggerated genitals. If you haven't seen these you will get an idea if you look on Google images but be careful if you do it at work! There was an age restriction on the entrance to this section which seemed all the more funny written in French...I can't really explain why. We could take photos in this museum - hurrah!

This exhibition inspired us to watch Cocteau's film Beauty and the Beast, which was really lovely. I felt very sad for the poor beast...

...but I think the beast is gorgeous even with a furry face and fangs.

At the Jean Cocteau Museum

We also visited the Museum of Naive Art which was a bit out of the way for us but worth the effort. I preferred the older pieces much more than the recent work on display. I must say I felt that the presence of the guards a little annoying. They don't let you take photographs and were a bit too conspicuous for my liking. We managed one though (see below)...take that fascists!

I was captivated by this Louis Pons assemblage
Jouet pour adulte 1961

Also there was the Matisse Museum. I felt I should have enjoyed this more but big queues to get in followed by strictness regarding not taking photographs and noticing guards following people around was distracting. We saw one guard make a woman wipe all her photos. C'est ridicule et stupide! I mean, what do they think people are doing with them? Personally, I would just be writing about and inadvertently promoting them if it was me. Why do they do this? A friend recently said that it was so that they could make more money in their shops selling posters and the like, which could be true. Still, I find this constant stalking a little annoying as it makes the experience feel restrictive...shame! I can't say that there was much there that really made an impact on me anyway. It seemed a bit dull and missing some of the vibrancy I was expecting. It was a lovely day out though so I'm not really complaining.

Matisse Museum

We had some lunch in the garden grounds where they have routes dedicated to Jazz musicians.

Here's a sneaky photo of a little Matisse torso which we liked...


 ...and here's Henri's paint box, I wonder if the paints would still work?

 Taking a rest on a whale's's all a bit exhausting!

Cap Ferrat September 2015