CHRIS FREMANTLE

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

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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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What art have I seen? Surreal Encounters

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on August 27, 2016
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What art have I seen? Jo Spence

Posted in Arts & Health, Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on August 17, 2016

Jo Spence at Stills.  Three groups of work that clearly demonstrate the radical approaches to photography being used by Spence and her various colleagues.  Put this alongside the ‘Context is Half the Work: Partial History of the Artist Placement Group’ at Summerhalland its a salutory reminder of what radical practice looks like.

Good review here http://thisistomorrow.info/articles/jo-spence-1

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What art have I seen? Alice Neel and Jess Johnson

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on August 16, 2016

Two exhibitions at the Talbot Rice Gallery, University of Edinburgh.  Alice Neel, New York portrait painter. The drawings in the Playfair Library on the ground floor and the balcony are well worth the trouble.  The influence of the Expressionists is really strong, but it’s clearly NYC.  The show links biography with work which is fascinating, but a bit distracting.  The mark making is great!

Jess Johnson’s Eclectrc Panoptic drawings, video and VR environment are all enthralling – the VR environment is really successful  transposition of the drawings – it is a linear exploration and not ‘gamified’ but I suspect that the real quality is in the work with Simon Ward to make it feel like you are moving through the drawings.

What art have I seen? A partial history of the Artist Placement Group

Posted in Exhibitions, Research by chrisfremantle on August 6, 2016

What art have I seen? Dia Beacon

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 24, 2016

‘Best of minimalism’. The good tracks were Agnes Martin, Louise Bourgeois, Richard Serra, Robert Irwin, On Kawara, Fred Sandback. Having come from Mass MOCA it is apparent that Dia need to have a space for one artist to be focused on in depth.

What art have I seen? Mass MOCA

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on July 23, 2016

This is part of Michael Oatman’s ‘All Utopias Fell’, a strange spin on solar energy and communication with the stars. The Jetstream is about 3 stories up and contains amongst other things a library and archive.

The three floors of Sol Lewitt’s work arranged Early, Mid and Late. 

Explode Every Day – an inquiry into the phenomena of wonder – standout pieces by Michael Light’s ‘100 Suns’ (photos from the Los Alamos National Laboratories); Rachel Sussman’s ‘(Selected) History of the Space Time Continuum’; Ryan and Trevor Oakes’ drawings exploring perspective; Tristan Duke’s scratch holograms; and Julianne Swartz’ trembling, rattling ‘Bone Scores’.

Three works from the Hall Foundation by Anselm Kiefer, one of which immediately physically connected with Kilmahew.

What art have I seen? Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum

Posted in Exhibitions, Uncategorized by chrisfremantle on July 17, 2016

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In the Yellow Room we find Whistler’s ‘Nocturne, Blue and Silver: Battersea Reach’ along with a Matisse, a Degas, a Sargent and another Whistler.  Having been to Hearst Castle last year, we wondered what the difference was?

What art have I seen? GSA MFA

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on June 25, 2016

Glasgow School of Art MFA at the Glue Factory. Liked Yeonkyoung Lee’s disco inspired installation – v nicely composed. Uesung Lee’s drawings and detritus of drawing as a form of labour. Also Jamie Green’s Shankland ‘Sun Never Sets’ – v clever curatorial exercise. Finally like Sian Collins and Westmoreland Stones.

What art jave I seen? Deep in the Heart of Your Brain

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 27, 2016

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Jacqueline Donachie’s exhibition at the Gallery of Modern Art in Glasgow. Three groups of work: drawings of lamposts – sources of illumination in the modern urban landscape; sculptures which use the materials of accessibility infrastructure (ramps and handrails) but perhaps seen from the perspective of someone for whom they don’t work or maybe just that they evoke the precariousness of the people for whom they are designed; finally videos speaking to sisters, speaking to feelings of doubt, but also playful.  Powerful stuff. (Oh and a piece of armour –  a boot – that could flex more than you expected.)

https://galleryofmodernart.wordpress.com/2016/03/04/deep-in-the-heart-of-your-brain-jacqueline-donachie-20-may-13-november-2016/

What art have I seen? Scottish Endarkenment

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 19, 2016

What art have I seen? Sarah Barker

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 19, 2016

What art have I seen? When the future was about Fracking

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on May 9, 2016
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What art have I seen? Gray’s Graduates in Residence

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on March 25, 2016

They’ve called it Only the improvisation remains constant, a quote from the Harrisons

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This is a detail of one of Tako Taal’s works.

What art have I seen? Anselm Kiefer

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on February 14, 2016

What art have I seen? Musee Art Moderne, Paris

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on February 13, 2016

What art have I seen? Island Drift and Nick Hedges

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on January 21, 2016

Streetlevel have an exhibition of work done with NVA in the Loch Lomond national park exploring light in a dark landscape. Light is brought to life almost as another albeit strange and new entity in the landscape. In the Trongate 103 Foyer Nick Hedges photographs from the Gorbals in the 70s are a reminder of what highrise housing was replacing – slum tenaments – but Hedges photography doesn’t just capture the issue – it’s as beautifully composed as a Vuillard.

What art have I seen? Drawn into tomorrow

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on January 19, 2016
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What art have I seen? Burnt Sierra and the Ship of Theseus

Posted in Exhibitions by chrisfremantle on January 6, 2016
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