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August Arts Newsletter

Dad, 35x45cm oil on canvas
My father, David, was 80 a couple of weeks ago and I painted this portrait of him from his point of command at the kitchen table doing the crossword.

I hope the Summer is treating you well . If you are feeling the heat and need somewhere to cool down may I suggest a wander round some of our fabulous museums, many of which are air-conditioned. The Tate was deliciously cool last week and there are plenty of absorbing exhibitions on across London. Some suggestions below. Thank you to those who went to see my work at Henley Regatta last month. I am delighted to say that I sold all but one of my works.New exhibitions this month
Milton Avery 
(1885-1965) was a titan of American painting and often thought to be the first Abstract Expressionist. This is the first full scale retrospective of his work in this country. A true colourist and leaning towards the abstract, Avery pared down landscapes and figured scenes to their most basic elements. His influence can be seen clearly in the work of his admirers Mark Rothko, Barnett Newman and beyond. If you are at all interested in Amercian 20th century art then get yourself to the RA. Royal Academy until 16 Oct
Small is Beautiful has been hugely popular with everyone I know who has been to see it. A great show to take the kids to over the holidays. Over 140 artworks created by 34 artists, some require magnifying glasses and all require oohs and aaahs at their sheer inventiveness. Miniature Art Exhibition, South Kensington until 4 Sept.Superheroes, Orphans and Origins: 125 years in comics is a fascinating look at the number of fictional superheroes and characters that lost their parents at a young age. Superman, Spiderman, Batman and Black Panther are just a few of the back stories explored here. Fittingly it is at the Foundling Museum, founded in 1739 as a shelter for abandoned children. The exhibition was born out of the poem ‘Superman was a Foundling’ commissioned by the museum from Lemn Sissay, a poet who grew up in care himself. The artwork will appeal to any cartoon fan, made all the more interesting with this angle. Foundling Museum until 28 AugThere has been a huge explosion of ‘immersive art’ in London and other big cities across the world in recent years. Van Gogh, Klimt and Kahlo are currently running in London. The question is, why would you spend £20 a head to go to one of these (they all cost this much) when most of our fantastic museums and galleries are free?
I think there needs to be a distinction between contemporary art created to be immersive and old masters blown-up so you can walk over and in it. Both appeal to the selfie generation but good immersive art (see Future Shock, reviewed last month) has integrity and meaning whilst I was simply left feeling nauseous after the Van Gogh ‘experience’ last Summer.  I understand the argument that they are trying to appeal to new audiences who in turn will visit the struggling museums but I worry that those audiences are only going to be disappointed by a painting on a wall. My advice is to save the £20 and go to one of our museums to marvel at the real thing instead.
A few examples of my life drawing this term. All A2 size using charcoal and pastels on paper. I have only started using pastels in the past 18 months. I had previously written them off as uncontrollable but I think I’m beginning to enjoy that lack of control!

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1 thought on “August Arts Newsletter

  1. Yes, I agree the “immersive-great-masters-experience” seems pretty gimmicky. I prefer the painting on a wall thing myself. You can see the brush strokes that way. I wonder why gallery like to rehash the same artists all the time (I am heratily sick of images of Frida but I don’t see her actual painting so often) and ignore many talented lesser known ones (especially women). It’s always interesting to try a new medium. I like that you make the point about feeling out of control with pastels because I think that sense of control is key to all creative work. We walk a line of being able to not/control our medium. That slight sense of not being in cntrol gives the work its edge and life.

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