Archives for paintings

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











Tate St Ives Cornwall Opens New Gallery Spaces

WEIRD and fantastical sculptures by Aaron Angell, one of Britain’s most radical ceramists are on display at The Studio and The Sea, a sparkling new season of two exhibitions at Tate St Ives in Cornwall which open this March. Both shows precede the transformation of new gallery spaces at Tate St Ives to be launched this autumn. The first show,  That Continuous Thing, charts the emergence of the 20th Century studio potters and the legacy of their influential ceramic-making.

The show takes its name from a quote by Peter Voulkos, an abstract expressionist artist renowned for his innovative use of tools and inspirational pot-throwing demonstrations. Highlights of the show includes work by pioneering artists, Bernard Leach and Shoji Hamada, innovators of the climbing kiln at the St Ives Pottery in the 1920s, experimental work from the ‘70s and ‘80s by Gillian Lowndes and Richard Slee and sculptures by 2016 Turner Prize winner, Anthea Hamilton made at Aaron Angell’s “radical and psychedelic” workshop, Troy Town Pottery, London.

That Continuous Thing: Artist and the Ceramics Studio, 1920 – Today, Tate St Ives, CornwallBernard Leach (1887-1979), Spherical Vase c.1927, reduced stoneware, 14.5 x 14 x 14 cm.
Courtesy of the Tate and The estate of Bernard Leach

The second exhibition displays Sea Paintings by Jessica Warboys, great swathes of sea drenched canvas weathered by the Zennor coast which explore the mystery of the landscape and the artist’s approach to symbolism and form. Apart from these specially commissioned works, Warboys displays her sculptures and films, imaginary narratives that mingle fiction with myth and forgotten histories.

The artists, who works across a range of media, including performance and stained glass, explains, “I am not concerned with how the tableau looks or appears as I make a sea painting, but with the result or record of the process.”

Jessica Warboys, Tate St Ives, CornwallJessica Warboys Sea Painting, Dunwich 2015, 2015, mineral pigment on canvas, 320cm x 500 cm (x 3 parts).
Courtesy the artist and Gaudel de Stampa, Paris

Supporters of the new season at Tate St Ives include the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Great Britain Sasakawa Foundation, The Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, The Japan Foundation, Idlewild Trust, and  Galerie Gaudel deStampa in Paris.

That Continuous Thing: Artist and the Ceramics Studio, 1920 – Today, Tate St Ives, CornwallAaron Angell, Flower, Bread Knife 2015, Glazed stoneware, 40 x 35 x 26 cm.
Courtesy of the artist, Rob Tufnell, London and Studio Voltaire
London. Photo: Andy Keate


by Miranda Charalambous

The Studio and The Sea comprises the exhibitions, That Continuous Thing: Artist and the Ceramics Studio, 1920 – Today and Jessica Warboys which open concurrently from March 31 to September 3, 2017 at Tate St Ives, Porthmeor Beach, St Ives, Cornwall, TR26 1TG

Jessica Warboys’ film, Hill of Dreams was made in collaboration with the Norwegian artist, Morten Norbye Halvorsen and was supported by The Office for Contemporary Art in Norway. The film will be screened by Tate St Ives in March.


Telephone: +44 (0)173 679 6226

Front page image: Jesse Wine, “I think you ought to know, I’m going through a creative stage some people find easy to connect to” 2016, Glazed ceramic, 82 x 123 x 55 cm 2 parts, Courtesy of the artist and  Mary Mary, Glasgow

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

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