Archives for drawings

Victoria and Albert Museum Celebrate the Legacy of Plywood

PLYWOOD is a versatile material with unique qualities which offers designers infinite possibilities for creativity. When steamed, curved and moulded plywood can be manipulated into curvaceous architectural forms or laser cut using the latest technology to create intricate lace-like tracery. Even plywood scraps can be re-purposed to make eco-friendly furniture pieces.

In celebration of this remarkable material, the Victoria and Albert Museum in London mounts Plywood: Material of the Modern World, a new exhibition which highlights the significance of plywood design this summer. Iconic designs of the twentieth century relating to architecture, furniture making and transport feature throughout the displays and bring to light the ground-breaking advances in plywood manufacture which include 19th century rotary cutting and the pioneering moulding techniques of the 1930s. Christopher Wilk, exhibition co-curator and Keeper of Furniture, Textiles and Fashion at the V&A, said, “Plywood is such a common, everyday material that most people barely notice when it is used. One could say that it has been hidden in plain sight.”

Victoria and Albert Museum, plywood, design, exhibition

Moulded plywood chair designed by Grete Jalk, 1963. Photograph courtesy of Victoria and Albert Museum, London

On display will be well-known furniture pieces by Alvar Aalto, Robin Day, Charles and Ray Eames and Grete Jalk, working drawings and a fascinating array of transport designs which include a plywood canoe, a 1960s racing car with a plywood chassis and a number of vintage skateboards.

Victoria and Albert Museum, plywood, design, exhibitionDrawing of Alvar Aalto designed Finnish Pavilion at the New York World’s Fair of 1939-‘40.
Courtesy of Alvar Aalto Museum

An intriguing cluster of sculptural forms designed by Canadian-based company, Patkau Architects will be exhibited outside in the V and A’s John Madejski Garden. Cleverly constructed to withstand freezing temperatures, these plywood ice-skating shelters float on the frozen Winnipeg River and provide a welcome respite from the biting wind. Fixed to a timber frame, their flexible plywood sheets sway and creak with the elements.

Victoria and Albert Museum, plywood, design, exhibitionPatkau Architects, Ice skating shelters, Winnipeg, 2012, Courtesy of Patkau Architects


by Miranda Charalambous

Plywood: Material of the Modern World, sponsored by and supported by the American Friends of the V&A (AFV&A) opens from July 15 – 12 November 12, 2017 in the Porter Gallery at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL

Telephone: +44 (0)20 7942 2000


Front page image: Patkau Architects, Ice skating shelters, Winnipeg, 2012, Courtesy of Patkau Architects







Pallant House Gallery Show Early Works By Lucian Freud

WELL-KNOWN for his thickly impastoed portraits of the human body, Lucian Freud painted every bulge, spot and blemish of his subjects with almost forensic observation. Freud’s early work, which is on display at the Pallant House Gallery in Chichester this month, also demonstrates the same scrupulous attention to detail but is surprisingly delicate, precise and decidedly less audacious.

In the new display, three recently acquired works by Freud are shown alongside existing ones from the Gallery’s permanent collection of modern British art and a selection of books featuring drawings and designs accomplished by Freud in the late forties and fifties.

Pallant House Gallery, Lucian Freud, painting

Lucian Freud, Girl with Fig Leaf, 1948, etching on paper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester. (On Loan from a Private Collection, 2017), Courtesy of The Estate of Lucian Freud. All Rights Reserved 2017/ Bridgeman Images

 During the early part of Freud’s career spiky pot plants, the odd sea urchin and stuffed animal heads were just as much part of his oeuvre as people. Freud admitted he had difficulty engaging sitters on account of staring too hard at his subjects. However, later he clearly utilised this approach to his advantage maintaining that, “the task of the artist is to make the human being uncomfortable.”

The drawing, Girl with Fig Leaf depicts Kitty Garman, Freud’s first wife whom he married in 1948, the same year she bore him a child and he painted the mysterious narrative, Interior Scene.  Freud used props and plants and in particular, thistles for symbolic effect. He admitted that he only painted the view from a window when he was feeling “strained”, which in this case would have been the beautiful landscape of Connemara in Galway. A strangely ominous and prickly portrait, it is perhaps a reflection of Freud’s impending responsibilities as a father.

GDK619751 Interior Scene, 1948 (pastel & Conte crayon on paper) by Freud, Lucian (1922-2011); 57.1x48.2 cm; Private Collection; © The Lucian Freud Archive; PERMISSION REQUIRED TO LICENSE MORE THAN FIVE IMAGES BY THIS ARTIST IN A SINGLE PUBLICATION,REPRODUCTION PERMISSION REQUIRED – EXCEPTIONS APPLY (SEE NOTES); CANNOT BE LICENSED FOR PRINTS OR POSTERS; English, in copyright PLEASE NOTE: This image is protected by artist's copyright which needs to be cleared by you. If you require assistance in clearing permission we will be pleased to help you. In addition, we work with the owner of the image to clear permission. If you wish to reproduce this image, please inform us so we can clear permission for you.Lucian Freud, Interior Scene, 1948, pastel and conté on paper, Pallant House Gallery, Chichester (on Loan from a Private Collection, 2017). Courtesy of The Estate of Lucian Freud. All Rights Reserved 2017/ Bridgeman Images

by Miranda Charalambous

The exhibition, Lucian Freud: Early Works is on until October 1, 2017 at the Pallant House Gallery, 9 North Pallant, Chichester, West Sussex, PO19 1TJ

Telephone: +44 (0) 1243 774557

Front page image: Girl with Fig leaf by Lucian Freud, 1948, Etching on paper, Courtesy of The Estate of Lucian Freud

Embassy, New Book by Frances Aviva Blane Published

THE LONDON-based artist, Frances Aviva Blane has just published Embassy, her second book which follows the success of Two Faces, an exhibition at the German Ambassador’s Residence in London in which a large selection of her paintings and drawings were included this year. As well as work from the show, the book includes an essay by the leading British artist and printmaker, Tess Jaray about Blane’s work.

Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistFail. Oil/linen, 90 x 90 cm, Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

In her foreward to the book, Jaray describes Blane’s emotive gestures as “painting straight from the heart to the canvas”. Blane draws and paints with alacrity but her work is not random but thoughtfully planned and, as the artist explains, “hard to make”.

Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistHimmler Court. Acrylic/Charcoal/Khadi, 47 x 47 cm. Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

Blane exploits the theatrics of vivid colour as it hits the canvas with her innovative use of paint. Sometimes pink wells up in a rush of emotion and simmers under mascara streaked tears. Yellow gets spiked with black and mingles with wet globs from the tube. Blane also enjoys the limitation of working in one colour, as her big black oils demonstrate. In these, she rips, gouges and scrapes the surface until it seethes like hot tar but in others, she thins the paint to a watery drizzle like rain from heavy dark skies.


Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistSky, [Detail]. Oil/linen, 60 x 60 cm. Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

An abstract expressionist artist, Blane works in an unusual way as she also draws figuratively. In these large canvases, the scrawled personalities of Blane’s heads become metaphors in paint as it breaks up. She welcomes the element of surprise as the paint drips and is allowed to take its own course. The effects of these marks can be disturbing, confrontational or plain hectic but some seem otherworldly as they deconstruct, fall and float free.

Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistDerail. Oil/linen, 198 x 198 cm. Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

Frances Aviva Blane, Embassy, book, artist, abstract expressionistFebruary, [Detail]. Oil/linen, 90 x 90, Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane

Blane is represented by the De Queeste Kunstkamers art gallery in Belgium where her drawings have been exhibited alongside work by Francis Bacon and Louise Bourgeois. Recently, her work was selected by film-maker Jordan Baseman and will be on show at Creekside Open later this year.

by Miranda Charalambous

Front page image: Heart, Oil/linen, 60 x 60 cm. Courtesy of Frances Aviva Blane











Philip Guston and the Poets Exhibition Opens In Venice

THE work of American painter and muralist, Philip Guston is re-imagined through the writings of five 2oth century poets in a new exhibition which aims to shed fresh light on the artist’s impressive oeuvre. The new show, Philip Guston and the Poets, which opens at the  Gallerie dell’Accademia in Venice this spring, traces the artist’s achievements from his early forays with cubism in the 1930s, his subsequent shift to abstract expressionism to his cartoon-inspired imagery of the 1980s.

Displaying over 50 major paintings and drawings, the show reveals the complexity and inner-workings of this talented and latterly, controversial artist in the expectation that his work gains greater appreciation and therefore be better understood. The curator, Kosme de Barañano explains, “Guston’s passion for Italian culture adds a complex and rich textural depth to his work.”

Philip Guston, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Neo-classicism, Abstract Expressionalism, figurationPhilip Guston, Mother and Child, c. 1930, Oil on canvas, 40 x 30 ins,
The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

Throughout his life, Guston’s work maintained a strong affinity philosophy and literature which, in the 1960s led to collaborations with the American writers Clark Coolidge and Bill Berkson. During this time, Guston’s painting underwent a dramatic transformation from abstraction to what appeared to be, absurdly figurative, a move which baffled both critics and fellow artists. Growing impatient with the constraints that Modern art imposed, Guston declared, “I got sick and tired of all that purity.”

Philip Guston, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Neo-classicism, Abstract Expressionalism, figurationPhilip Guston, Position I, 1965, Oil on canvas, 65 x 80 ins.
The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

Now darker and almost representational, Guston’s abstract work soon gave way to a riot of viscous pasty pinks and mimetic imagery depicting light bulbs, clocks and sensible shoes.  As his enthusiasm for this new approach gathered momentum, the sinister Ku Klux Klan figures from his much earlier works became re-incarnated into insidious cartoon-like forms. Guston’s hooded villains drive cars and smoked cigarettes just like his depictions of bulbous-headed oddballs.

These symbolic forms became his leitmotifs and illustrated many of Coolidge’s poems, writing which Guston appreciated immensely.  In this exhibition, W.B. Yeats’ 1930s work, Byzantium  is contrasted with Guston’s later work in which the artist strove gain control. In a letter to Bill Berkson, Guston candidly admitted, “I haven’t really understood what I am doing – does that come later?”

Philip Guston, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Neo-classicism, Abstract Expressionalism, figurationPhilip Guston, Painter’s Forms, 1972, Oil on panel, 48 x 60 ins.
The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

The exhibition is designed by Grisdainese and curated by Kosme de Barañano, a former Executive Director of IVAM and the former Deputy Director of Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía in Madrid. He is also professor at the University of the Basque Country and visiting professor at the University Elche, Spain, IUAV in Venice and at the Humbolt University in Berlin.

Philip Guston, Gallerie dell’Accademia, Neo-classicism, Abstract Expressionalism, figurationPhilip Guston, The Line, 1978, Oil on canvas, 71 x 73 ¼ ins.
The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy of Hauser and Wirth

by Miranda Charalambous

Philip Guston and the Poets opens May 10 – September 3, 2017 at  the Gallerie dell’Accademia, Campo della Carità, Dorsoduro 1050, 30100 Venice, Italy

Telephone: +39 041 5222247


Front page image: Philip in Rome, 1960, The Estate of Philip Guston, Courtesy Hauser & Wirth

Kröller-Müller Museum Shows Early Drawings By Van Gogh

THE Kröller-Müller Museum presents a rare opportunity to see early drawings by Vincent Van Gogh later this month. The exhibition, entitled The early Van Gogh “work against indifference”, is curated by  Auke van der Woud  highlights work from the Kröller-Müller’s extensive collection, the second largest in the world. Seldom exhibited on account of their sensitivity to light, the drawings on display depict the fringes of late nineteenth century society and convey much about the artists’ regard for working class people.

Van Gogh, drawing, art, Kröller-Müller Museum Vincent Van Gogh, Peasant woman gleaning, July – August 1885, black crayon, grey washed, white opaque
watercolour, traces of fixative, on wove paper, 52.2 x 43.2 cm © Kröller-Müller Museum

Accompanying the drawings in the gallery, which is near Amsterdam, are Van Gogh’s comments from his personal letters which reveal a fascinating insight into his tenacious approach to artistic practice, “I say it again – work against indifference – perseverance isn’t easy – but things that are easy mean little.”

 Vincent Van Gogh, Carpenter’s yard and laundry, late May 1882, pencil, black crayon, pen and brush in black ink, brown wash, opaque watercolour, scratched, traces of squaring, on laid paper, 28.6 x 46.8 cm © Kröller-Müller Museum

Although influenced by the work of  Breton and Millet, Van Gogh depicted the drudgery of rural life rather than a romanticised version of it. In a letter to his brother Theo, he describes his studies of tree roots wrenched from the earth as a symbol of “life’s struggle”.  In his figurative drawings, peasants shoulder the hardship of relentless labouring, either digging, gleaning or bent double under sacks of coal, they press on in all weathers. Van Gogh sensed truthfulness in their weathered faces, a quality he regarded more desirable than beauty.

Describing his model and mistress, Sien, he noted, “I find in her exactly what I want: her life has been rough, and sorrow and adversity have put their marks upon her – now I can do something with her.”

 Vincent Van Gogh,  Tree roots in a sandy ground (‘Les rancines’), April – May 1882, pencil, black crayon, pencil in ink, brown and grey washed opaque watercolour, on watercolour paper, 51.5 x 70.7 cm  © Kröller-Müller Museum

by Miranda Charalambous


The early Van Gogh: “work against indifference” opens from September 24, 2016 until April 9, 2017 at the Kröller-Müller Museum, Houtkampweg 6, 6731 AW Otterlo, The Netherlands

Tel: +31 (0)318 591 241
Front page image: Vincent Van Gogh, Peasant woman gleaning, July – August 1885, black crayon, grey washed, white opaque watercolour, traces of fixative, on wove paper, 52.2 x 43.2 cm © Kröller-Müller Museum

Two Faces Opens at German Ambassador’s Residence, London

ONE of the first holy fools recorded was a nun of whom the church historian Palladius writes that she pretended to be insane and possessed by evil spirits. To explain this behaviour, Palladius quoted the apostle Paul, “Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you seemeth to be wise in this world, let him become a fool, that he may be wise” (I Corinthians 3:19). The fool is a metaphor directed against worldly wisdom or religious dogma – not an invocation to turn into a gibbering idiot.

oil on canvas by Frances Blane
July. Frances Aviva Blane. Oil/linen (60x60cm)

In British artist Frances Aviva Blane’s latest series of mugshots in oil and charcoal, on display in Two Faces, a show of work by Blane along with paintings by Syrian poet and artist Darin Ahmad – both from refugee-backgrounds – which opened this week in London, a foolish face floats like a summons that raises the question of authenticity. These faces challenge the viewer with eyes that have stared at stars until they feared they were a million-orbed godhead. Is this foolishness of a metaphorical or real kind?

Blue head. Frances Aviva Blane Acrylic-Fabriano. 40x35 cms Blue head.  Frances Aviva Blane. Acrylic/fabriano (40x35cm)

July head Acrylic/charcoal/fabriano 40x35 cmJuly head. Frances Aviva Blane. Acrylic/charcoal/fabriano (40x35cm)

Look closely and Blane’s art contains a motif of daring. Sometimes her faces don’t have eyes and the experience they offer is unspeakable, although the playground colours and bright lights indicate an inclination to comedy. She brings to mind music-hall artistes and tumbling clowns gagging for a laugh. Her emphasis is on an over-sensorial input as insistent as the slabs of paint that lance and layer her linen surfaces.

Friend Susie charcoal/fabriano 47 x 47 cm by Frances BlaneFriend Susie. Frances Aviva Blane. Charcoal/fabriano (47x47cm)

In a charcoal drawing, her frenetic description of a landscape shoots into nothingness across the page. Elsewhere a scribbled portrait (Split Head) is faint and fearful but divided by bold orange streaks – like the schism between outer and inner. On large sun-splashed canvasses, strange, scribbled stripes embody vast spaces and yet more experiences that cannot be articulated in literal forms. But Blane makes room for deliberation and echoes the figurative with a weird mix of hopeful fondness and open hostility.

This is a selection from an artist impressively steadfast in her vision.

by Lilian Pizzichini

Front page image: July. Frances Avivia Blane. Oil linen (60x60cm)

Two Faces – a show of the works of Frances Blane and Darin Ahmad, The German Ambassador’s Residence, 34 Belgrave Square, London, SW1 please call 020 7824 1300 for opening times