CHRIS FREMANTLE

What art have I seen? I Object: Ian Hislop’s Search for Dissent

Posted in Civics, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on September 30, 2018

Very good, diverse and provocative exhibition of satire, caricature and disruptive intervention (and not all lefty liberal either).

From the time of the Pharohs in Egypt through to the Umbrella protests in Hong Kong via classic British fart-based disrespect of leaders and rulers.

Taking Joanna Macy’s triumverate of ‘actions to defend,’ ‘Gaian structures’ and ‘shifting consciousness’ this is pretty much a workbook of ways to undermine authority.

It shows the breadth of the BM’s collection but also perhaps shows that this isn’t a focus of collecting. Hong Kong and Tianamen Square are represented but Occupy isn’t – the diagram created by Rachel Schragis of the Declaration of Occupy Wall Street would speak volumes.

Possil Free State, Greenham Common, Twyford Down, Faslane, the ZAD, Standing Rock and all the other combinations of defending and Gaian structures are insufficiently represented.

Perhaps the Liberate Tate/Art not Oil campaign is too close to home: the parallel Sumerian exhibition is sponsored by BP.

Of course out of context pretty much everything needed explanation, but there were many objects which stood out regardless, including the bronze head of a Roman General buried under a triumphal gate deep in Africa beyond the Empire.

In other cases you had to spot the critique including in the Seychelles banknotes where the engraver had included rude words around the head of the Queen.

http://www.britishmuseum.org/whats_on/exhibitions/i_object.aspx

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What art have I seen? Colourists and Life School

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on September 22, 2018

Beth Fisher’s astounding and inspired drawing of her family with her dead mother. Just one of a number of powerful pieces in Ages of Wonder: The Royal Scottish Academy Life School

Also The Rhythm of Light
Scottish Colourists from the Fleming Collection

What art have I seen? Keith Sonnier

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on August 31, 2018

What art have I seen? Prada Marfa

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on August 20, 2018

Elmgreen and Dragset’s Prada Marfa. So gentrification… it’s definitely a thing. Art definitely can cause it. We saw a small tract house for sale – sign said Zoned for Residential/Commercial inc Art Gallery. The art workers we met (eg part-time tour guide with two art history degrees/full-time chef) were struggling to survive housing costs in Marfa. Of course we can be ironic about it, but what else can we do?

What art have I seen? Chinati Foundation

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work by chrisfremantle on August 19, 2018

What should a museum be when made by an artist?

The artist decides where and how the work is installed (in agreement with the artist who set up the museum).

Works do not compete with each other.

Work is (almost exclusively) permanently installed.

The work is well documented but there are no signs and labels (except where they are part of the work).

What art have I seen? Hyperobjects

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on August 18, 2018

What art have I seen? The Block

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work by chrisfremantle on August 18, 2018

Studios and Libraries in The Block, Judd Foundation.

20th Century Books organised by date of publication (or author birth maybe).

Books before 20th Century organised by geography.

Studio contains work for thinking.

What art have I seen? Blue Star Contemporary

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on August 16, 2018

A Manhattan Beach Memoir by Gary Sweeney. Family home going to be demolished so turned inside out, becoming an installation, a tribute and an evocation of America in the second half of the 20th Century.

From Underfoot: Breaking Through Surface and Ground. Group show of materials, concepts, details.

What art have I seen? Robert Powell: Between The Lost Places

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 30, 2018

What art have I seen? Assemblages: Sculpture, Found Objects and Boxed Reliefs

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 30, 2018

Assemblages: Sculpture, Found Objects and Boxed Reliefs at the Fine Art Society, Edinburgh including work by Fiona Dean, Will Maclean, Alberto Morocco amongst others. Did the latter influence the former?

What art have I seen? Land of Lads, Land of Lashes

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 11, 2018
homothetic

Rosemarie Castoro, Land of Lashes, archival photo, 1976

Land of Lads, Land of Lashes at Galerie Thaddeus Ropac. Rosmarie Castoro, Wanda Czelkowska, Lydia Okumura. Three different contexts (NYC, Poland, Brazil). Deep formal sculptural concerns bringing in expressionist, minimalist, humorous, bodily aspects. Interesting in comparison to Lee Lozano – the catalogue of the recent retrospective of Castoro suggests similar interest in lists, instructions and texts. Okumura’s spatial works relate to Sol Lewitt but also to Fred Sandback and are more dynamic than Lozano’s large paintings.

What art have I seen? More Christo drawings and collages

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 11, 2018

More Christo and Jeanne-Claude, this time at Repetto Gallery. Drawings are all attributed to Christo, though the installed projects are Christo & Jeanne-Claude. One public installation in the Serpentine Lake, one public exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery, two commerical gallery exhibitions simultaneously (Stern Pissarro and Repetto).

I hadn’t realised before that some of the drawings are collages including fabric and string. In particular Wrapped Wall has fabric stapled to the image which is then drawn on, so some of the creases are ‘real’ and some inscribed – remarkable. The more you look at these works, the more they give you.

You can see in the 1976 The Pont Neuf Wrapped collage below that there is fabric inserted into the image – the media are listed as “Pencil, fabric, twine, photograph by Wolfgang Volz, wax crayon, pastel, charcoal and map.”

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What art have I seen? On Collecting

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 9, 2018
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What art have I seen? Seeing Beyond The Immediate by Patricia Cain

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 7, 2018

Grass Verge, Oil Pastel

Trish Cain’s exhibition Seeing Beyond The Immediate at the Lillie Art Gallery in Milngavie

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What art have I seen? Mastaba by Christo & Jeanne-Claude

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work by chrisfremantle on July 4, 2018

The Mastaba on the Serpentine, works related to barrels in the Gallery, other works at Stern Pissarro.

Curiously the Mastaba floating on the lake is more like the 2D works in the Gallery than you expect – it has an unreal quality, perhaps because of the formal geometry and the colour too. All the earlier proposals going back to the late 60s are yellow, red and orange, but this is maroon and purple. Maybe more complementary to the greenness of Hyde Park?

There is definitely a Dada streak in this, the absurdity of this large form, just as there is a Dadaism in wrapping things.

Mies van der Rohe said art addresses the conditions of the time – his were industrialisation and mass production. Christo and Jeanne Claude’s work has a curious relation both to industrial and post-industrialisation, but the temporariness – here now, gone in September – reveals more. Temporary abnormality sensitises us to the normal.

Christo clearly denies any political intent but this monumental structure composed of oil barrels is a reminder of our, as Brett Bloom calls it, petro-subjectivity.

What art have I seen? David Nash

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 3, 2018

The blue of Blue Column (2017) is so intense it vibrates on the page

The red of the sequoia wood in Red Around Black (2017) is so dense it could be corten steel

What art have I seen? Robert Callender

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on June 30, 2018
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What art have I seen? Re(a)d Bed

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on June 30, 2018
Pryde, James Ferrier, 1866-1941; The Red Bed

James Pryde, ‘The Red Bed’ (1916)

One of the challenges in creating work for hospitals and healthcentres is that there really isn’t any place to experiment.

If you want to in some way engage with our health and the institutions which deal with us when we are sick, pretty much regardless of artform, it is tricky. Quite rightly healthcare professionals control access. Hospitals aren’t really places for experimentation. You probably ought to know what you are doing if you are going to make art in places where people are sick, recovering or dying.

So the exhibition Re(a)d Bed in Edinburgh’s City Arts Centre is an important correlate to the major Art and Therapeutic Design programme currently being installed and otherwise integrated into NHS Lothian’s new Royal Hospital for Children and Young People, Department of Clinical Neuroscience and Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in Little France, Edinburgh.

The works in the exhibition are the result of residencies and fellowships intended to provide developmental opportunities for artists to explore issues and create new and challenging responses to in particular the neurosciences context. Key to this programme has been the partnership between Ginkgo Projects, public art and design managers, and New Media Scotland/Alt-W. The exhibition comprises both some historical items as well as new works by artists, craftspeople and designers. Full documentation can be found on the New Media Scotland site here. Gavin Inglis’ in progress graphic novel exploring functional neurological disorders, Stacy Hunter’s questioning the depersonalisation of the clinical environment, asking what objects could make it more personal again, Sven Werner’s audio work on becoming invisible… These and the others are all important vectors through healthcare experiences and environments, experiments that need to be done, ideas that need to be tested and prototyped.

Beyond Walls provides more information and regular updates.

 

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What art have I seen? Beuys Utopia at the Stag Monuments

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 26, 2018

Joseph Beuys: Utopia at the Stag Monuments at Galerie Thaddeus Ropac.

So what is the difference between Kienholz and Beuys? Both are constructing with everyday materials including furniture and other stuff selected for symbolic import. Both are speaking to the social. Kienholz’ Nativity or Beuys’ Feldbett?

Kienholz is utilising the detritus of urban society to assemble installations that comment on religion, race and sex. Beuys is using the most basic materials to provoke our understanding of the larger significance of life – fat, felt, electricity, ovens, clay, etc.

Beuys’ work suggests the potential for social transformation. Kienhol’ work on the other hand is mostly stabbing at hypocrisy with satire.

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What art have I seen? Ed Kienholz and Speigelgasse

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 25, 2018

Ed Kienholz at Blain/Southern. Boy Ed could be offensive. The ‘Black Leather Chair’ Proposal is really ‘in your face’ nasty, especially in the wording – see here.

I rather like proposals as a format (e.g. Peter Liversidge and Lee Lozano) and I didn’t know Kienholz had adopted that strategy. I also didn’t know about pricing method – a sum for the written proposal and plaque, a little more for a drawing, and then a sum to be agreed for realising the proposal.

Also saw Speigelgasse at Hauser & Wirth. All Swiss artists, following the influence of dada…

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What art have I seen? Verity Birt’s Her Feet Are Talons; Her Hands Are Unclean

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 10, 2018

What art have I seen? Gi cont.

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 3, 2018

Mitchell Library contains two temporary library related projects:

A public library of and for listening by Anneke Kampman and Katherine MacBride

Gi Form

Invitation to Forms with Kate Briggs, Joseph Buckley, Francis McKee, Vivian Sky Rehberg, Sarah Tripp, Nina Wakeford and Brighton Upton-Trust

What art have I seen? Gi

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 1, 2018

Deniz Uster’s Citadel at the Briggait, along with Nadia Myre’ Code-Switching and Other Work.

Rosie O’Grady’s May Day at the House for an Art Lover.

Duggie Fields at The Modern Institute

What art have I seen? Will Maclean

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on April 30, 2018
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What art have I seen? Ross Birrell The Transit of Hermes

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on April 23, 2018
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What art have I seen? Séan Hillen

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on March 22, 2018
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What art have I seen? Séan Hillen

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on March 22, 2018
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What art have I seen? Lee Lozano

Posted in Exhibitions, Strike, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 16, 2018

Lee Lozano Slip, Slide,Splice at the Fruitmarket Gallery. I bought her Notebook republished by Primary Information years ago, partly because I like scores and instructions and partly because we were working on Calendar Variations and I was looking for artists working with grass.

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What art have I seen? A Global Table

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 3, 2018

A Global Table at the Frans Hals Museum, Haarlem, Netherlands (thanks to the snow-cancelled flight.

The sound of cicadas is evocative and the Carribean accents confirm that although I’m standing in the Frans Hals Museum in Haarlem outside Amsterdam, Shelley Sacks has transported me to an island far away. I’m standing listening to a man or a woman talk about being a banana farmer and the way that global trade affects their lives and livelihoods. In front of me is a mat of pressed banana skins, positioned like a portrait. If I put my nose close I can just get the musk, though the museum’s air conditioning has done for it really. I listen to the voice on headphones. There are twenty portraits around the room. Twenty different voices. Twenty different glimpses into lives and livelihoods. In the middle is a large round table, the centre of which is filled with dried banana skins. The table and benches invite conversation. Irreverently I wonder if the museum staff ate all the bananas, or did a local baker make a lot of banana bread? Gill makes good banana bread. I eat bananas because they are a good snack and don’t give me wind. They are part of my domestic life and Shelley’s installation asks me to relate my domestic to through a series of scales to another domestic and regional, linked by a global corporate system of trade. One of the banana farmers asks the Europeans (i.e. me but probably a bureaucrat or politician in practical terms) to help the banana farmers against the American multi-nationals.

It would be great to be part of one of the conversations that happen around this table periodically.

Other works in the exhibition invite you to participate in a ritual with salt to recognise its role in the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade

; or tell you about the ‘policing’ of relationships between Dutch men and indigenous and mixed women in the Indonesian colonies; or explores the batik business in which the Dutch as all good merchants do took from the Africans all sorts of designs and then sold them the materials. These and other works in the exhibition all revealed or described situations, where Shelley Sacks’ piece opens up a dialogue. In her work no simple moral position is offered. Rather we are asked to engage with the lives of the banana farmers.

Sadly the complimentary part of the exhibition focusing on Food in Still Life painting had been replaced at the Museum. It had been replaced with paintings on the theme of humour. Actually this is an interesting juxtaposition. The exhibition blurb is,

Naughty children, stupid peasants, foolish dandies and befuddled drunks, quack doctors, pimps, procuresses, lazy maids and lusty ladies – they figure in large numbers in Golden Age masterpieces. The Art of Laughter: Humour in the Golden Age presents the first ever overview of humour in seventeenth-century painting.

These paintings offer a moral commentary on society. They do this with beautifully rendered scenes containing jokes and knowing winks. Sex is alluded to through visual language of hares and skewers and the audience is captured by knowing looks. Scenes are ripe with meaning and compositions juxtapose meaning in revealing ways. Not all the contemporary works dealt with their subject matter with such finesse.

What art have I seen? Hamburger Bahnhof

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on March 2, 2018

2018-03-02 14.09.09

Several amazing Robert Rauschenberg works.

Also major pieces by Joseph Beuys at the Hamburger Bahnhof including ‘Tallow’ originally made for Skulptur Projekte Munster and now in the collection. Caroline Tisdall’s description is much more evocative than the one on the archive website.

What art have I seen? Mark Dion’s Theatre of the Natural World

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on February 16, 2018
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What art have I seen? The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on January 27, 2018

The Land We Live In – The Land We Left Behind at Hauser & Wirth, Somerset. Enormous exhibition curated by Adam Sutherland.

This exhibition is in parts a bit like a rural museum managed by volunteers with cases of curiosities (models of bird feathers probably ten times life size, a doorstop homage to Robert Burns, various other tchotchkis). The first room you enter had a number of artists’s projects that explored food production. Another had strange hybrid works including an applebarn doubling as a confessional. The end wall of that room had a video piece which included a shocking segment of a cow being killed with a bolt gun in an abbatoir.

Whilst it is great to see the exploration of the rural in art and craft, the curation in the end felt conventional rather than radical. It’s a question of balance – the room with the food production projects was too modest and the room with the arty installation pieces was too overblown. The shocking video was just shocking. In about 1970 Helen Mayer Harrison and Newton Harrison exhibited, as part of a group show at the Hayward Gallery, a portable fish farm. This led to a storm of protest because they proposed to kill and eat the fish at the end of the exhibition. What were catfish, a staple food in the US, were carp kept as pets in the UK. The Harrisons’ scale of production was also more interesting – enough to produce a feast. The food production in The Land We Live In might keep a family in lettuce for a couple of weeks – it’s is certainly not enough to supply the Gallery restaurant. That installation should have been a whole room producing vegetables and fish for the restaurant. How would we have felt seeing the fish swimming around and then having them killed for our lunch?

We had too much ‘big art’ and not enough big ideas.

What art have I seen? David Bomberg at Pallant House

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on December 31, 2017

What art have I seen? Vertigo Sea

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on November 3, 2017
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What art have I seen? Nazimî Yaver Yenal at Istanbul Research Institute

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 4, 2017

What art haven’t I seen? Martin Puryear

Posted in Exhibitions, Failure by chrisfremantle on September 8, 2017

What art have I seen? Life of John the Baptist

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work by chrisfremantle on July 31, 2017

Faith

Andrea del Sarto’s Life of John the Baptist at the Chiostro dello Scalzo. Last here 18 years ago. Just as good.

Salome’s Dance

What art have I seen? Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work by chrisfremantle on July 26, 2017

Detail from The Emperor

I have a particular love of artists’ personal projects (Ian Hamilton Finlay’s Little Sparta, Charles Jencks’ Garden outside Dumfries) and Niki de Saint Phalle’s Tarot Garden is no exception. Quirky and deeply personal under a veneer of playground fun.

The Devil

Fascinated to read that Tinguely did a lot of the welding for the armatures and that the ceramics were largely made, fired and glazed on-site.

The Moon

What art have I seen? Collection Gori

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 18, 2017

What art have I seen? Hokusai

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 7, 2017

What art have I seen? Raphael Drawings

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on June 29, 2017

What art have I seen? Aleksandra Mir

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on June 28, 2017

Aleksandra Mir’s Space Tapestry: Earth Observation and Human Spaceflight at Modern Art Oxford as well as Kazem Hakimi’s Portraits from A Chip Shop (also at the Fire Station).

What art have I seen? Tschabalala Self and Richard Wright

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on June 9, 2017

Tschabalala Self at the Tramway and Richard Wright at The Modern Institute. In passing saw Florian Hecker at the Tramway and Manfred Pernice at The Modern Institute.

What art have I seen? Muirhead Bone

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on November 25, 2016

Exhibition at Roselle House of Scottish artist known for his prints and drawings of industrial Glasgow and his work as the first War Artist. He was connected with Ayr and Pamela Conacher put the Inspiring Landscapes exhibition together as part of WW1 remembrance. Master Printmaker Ian Nicol contributed participatiry workshops.

What art have I seen? The Context is Half the Work

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 28, 2016

The Context is Half the Work: A Partial History of the Artist Placement Group.

Went looking for descriptions in the letters and documents of what APG said an artist is and what they do… 

What art have I seen? E.A.T. Experiments in Art and Technology

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 14, 2016

What art have I seen? William Kentridge, The Guerrilla Girls, Jannis Kounellis

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 13, 2016

William Kentridge environments and Guerrilla Girls on European galleries and museums and the women they show and collect bothe at The Whitechapel Gallery

Jannis Kounellis at White Cube.

What art have I seen? Sunken Cities

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on October 12, 2016

Sunken Cities at the British Museum. Jake pointed out that the pitch the Lighting Designer made was to give a sense of being underwater with strong directional pools of light. It’s too much – the shadows on this utterly astounding carving of a woman with a diaphonous dress was so bad there were big areas in shadow.

What art have I seen? Marie Velardi

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on September 22, 2016

‘Lost Islands and other Works’ by Marie Velardi at Peacock Visual Arts including the timeline of human development according to Sci-fi literature.

I was invited to respond to the work as part of a Creative Carbon Scotland Green Tease. Anne Douglas and published an essay in the Elemental: Art and Ecology Reader earlier this year talking about the way that the Harrisons use inconsistency and contradiction in their works. This seemed relevant in relation to Velardi’s works, perhaps most obviously the timeline but also the works about islands and coastlines. Keeping contradictory truths in tension is an important skill and capacity that artists use in their works. Having just been at Tim Ingold’s lecture on the Sustainability of Everything this point is relevant to how we conceptualise living and carrying on. 

What art have I seen? Out There: Our Post-War Public Art

Posted in Exhibitions, Sited work by chrisfremantle on September 14, 2016

Walked past this yesterday and today went to see the Historic England exhibition on post-war public art. Highlights how the Festival of Britain in 1951 acted as a platform for new work perhaps in a similar way to how the 2012 Cultural Olympiad and 2014 Commonwealth Games have provided a platform for a new cross artform sited work.

https://historicengland.org.uk/get-involved/visit/exhibitions/public-art/

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