Categoría: Exhibitions

Study visit: Victoria Miro Gallery and Gagosian Gallery, Mayfair

Study visit: Victoria Miro Gallery and Gagosian Gallery, Mayfair

Victoria Miro – Jules de Balincourt Exhibition

I had never been to a commercial private gallery before, and also did not know that these galleries existed in Mayfair. This was therefore a first for me and an area that I shall visit in future.

This was my first time on a study visit and found the interaction with other students and also direct contact with a tutor – Hayley Lock – very helpful to me.


The paintings by Jules de Balincourt – were all painted in oil on smooth untextured panels. The paint was applied in thin transparent layers. His subject matter we were told is based on American news items but it seems in a very ambiguous and somewhat mysterious way.

All of the paintings included figures, many zombie like and on occasions of contrasting sizes – very small and giant – as in Big Little Monsters, 2017 and They Cast Long Shadows, 2017.

Jules de Balincourt, Cave Country, 2017. Oil on Panel

The use of colours in my opinion is based on the bright daylight of California, something I am more aware of – travelling around the world.  Artists often change their palette according to their location/local environment.  Balincourt’s paintings appear unfinished and he must have great courage to say – that’s enough for this painting – they are certainly not overworked paintings! Another aspect to mention is the format – there were three large paintings approx. 1.7×1.5m however many were a much smaller format down to 61x50cm.


Jules de Balincourt, Troubled Eden, 2017. Oil on panel (detail)

In the above detail of Troubled Eden – a disturbing title and mysterious painting – you can see the very thin layers of paint, scraped over with sandpaper or scourer.  The painting has some connection to catwalk models and a not so perfect paradise?

My favourite paintings from the show included If trees spoke and we listened and They cast long shadows:

They Cast Long Shadows 2017, Oil on panel

There is an effectiveness in his interplay of transparent and opaque paint, and his use of detail in the smaller figures and buildings contrasting with the larger figures that have an absence of detail.

I made my own version using collage and marker pens:


Gagosian – Glenn Brown Exhibition

This was a wildly different exhibition, much bigger with line drawings, large oil paintings and sculpture.  Each artwork was made to fit carefully chosen elaborate, antique frames.

I use pre-existing images to go into pre-existing frames. I don´t like a blank canvas or a blank sheet of paper – Glenn Brown

The whole exhibition works were completed in just one year – a massive undertaking and one when you see the level of detail in every drawing, and the research into the master paintings used as the basis for many of the works, is awe-inspiring.

The exhibition space smelt of oil paint – as some of the works were obviously not completed dry! I was interested in the drawings made with indian ink and acrylics on drafting film (mylar) – as this is a support that I have been experimenting with. Also whilst there is terrific depth to Brown´s paintings and drawings – they are all made on smooth, flat surfaces.

His combined use of thin lines to create what appears from afar as larger brushstrokes is impressive – he is in some cases achieving the same effect as for instance Frank Auerbach’s thick impastos using brushed thin lines on a flat smooth surface.  By contrast he then produces a series of sculptures that are built up of thick impasto brushstrokes of oil over acrylic paint.

To me there is obviously an element of digital manipulation in his drawings and oil paintings – particularly in the oils the backgrounds appear almost photographic, unreal even. His drawings in which he combines two or three different faces in one are another example.

I am a great fan of the work of Frank Auerbach – so this exhibition was interesting in that it showed a different artist’s method to achieve a similar effect but on a different support and completely different style of brushstroke. It also provided me with more ideas to develop my work on Mylar, in addition to complementing a new discovery from Japan – the work of Tawara Yusaku, who worked on a small scale using ink and built up what appears to be one larger brushstroke using a small brush with up to maybe 200 smaller energetic brushstrokes which he completes almost unconsciously and repetitively like a buddhist chant:

Tawara Yusaku

I have also been trying out his technique, of creating horizontal lines (I-chi) with a small No. 1 sable, indian ink and rapid, energetic brushstrokes – the upper example is with one charge of paint on the brush, the lower one using multiple charges of ink:




Gallery Visit – Tate Britain

All too human

After being intrigued and inspired in the exhibition by Paula Regos technique of pastel on paper mounted on Aluminium, I also found this article in a blog presenting an argument about a pastel drawing being rejected because it was not considered to be a painting.

This was interesting in that it was obvious to me that Paula Rego‘s work has been drawn and built up like a painting.  Whilst on paper, it is an important work and one that should be considered a painting.  In the article there were other examples of fine art pastel paintings that I would not consider drawings. The example offered of a Cy Twomby mixed media painting in which he uses lead and coloured pencils, wax crayons and oil paint is also interesting to debate…as to whether it is a drawing or a painting…however I do not consider this to be a drawing but a mixed media expressive painting by a master artist who uses whichever medium he feels interprets his message.

Getting back to the exhibition, it was a moving experience to witness some important works by Bacon, Coldstream, Moore and Uglow after just completing Part 4 of the course.

It would have been helpful for me to have seen and understood the works of Coldstream and  Uglow before or during Part 4 – in particular their rigorous measuring of the model and control of their environment during the process. In Uglows work – a good example is Georgia 1973, Oil on Canvas – the painting is built up using precise modelling of every detail of the body, facial features and hands etc. Every aspect of composition, patterning, fixed gaze and hair was very tightly controlled – even clinical. The painting was drawn from a low viewing position (or the model on a high platform) and utilises the rule of thirds and strong diagonals of the body position and pattern/bust area. A relatively large painting (83.8×111.8cm) the figure is imposing, cropped and the gaze/pose to me reflects the almost unnaturally controlled modelling over a considerable period of time.

A new artist for me in the exhibition was F.N.Souza – an example of his work was Negro in Mourning 1957 – painted in black and blue on a white background – the blue used to introduce lighter tones to the face and neck, but also to show a flood of tears from the eyes down to the shoulders. In this painting he has effectively used positive and negative space – the white space above the shoulders weighing heavy on the subject, the white arrow-like collar pointing downwards and also acting as a structural prop to support the head and neck, also acts to balance the large stretched head in the composition. The paint drips downwards adding to the subjects grief. I hope to visit his work more in POP1.

A real treat were the sculptures of Henry Moore from 1957 – Draped Seated Figure, and Woman – both of which I stopped to sketch:


This drawing was almost a blind contour drawing, as I followed the contours of the limbs and drapery with my eyes.  I used pressure to add more emphasis and thickness to my linework and also added shading to express form. This is an activity I should carry out more often – using master fine art as the basis of my own exploration of tone, line and technique.

Henry Moore’s drawings of the underground shelters during the war were particularly interesting for their mixed media combining dry and wet media to express form.


Shelterers in the Tube 1941 by Henry Moore OM, CH 1898-1986
Henry Moore, Shelterers in the tube, 1941. Pen, Chalk, watercolour and gouache. 15×22″ Tate London


Of particular reference to my chosen subject for Part 5, were examples of work from Leon Kossoff, Frank Auerbach and David Bomberg. There is also a clear link between the works of Bomberg and John Virtue/Dennis Creffield  in the subject matter and use of black and white media:

St Paul's and River 1945 by David Bomberg 1890-1957
David Bomberg, St Paul’s and River, 1945 , charcoal on paper, Tate London

After the exhibition, I bought a book on the London Landscapes by Leon Kossoff – currently on show at Annely Juda Fine Art, London.

Impressionists in London

This exhibition was also of great interest to me – not only because of the urban (London) landscapes but also to see such master paintings from a turbulent and changing period in modern art.

My own experience of travelling the world and returning to the low heavy grey skies over Heathrow Airport have never been erased from my memory. The french artists (in exile) visiting London from sunnier, brighter places painted their new home in a variety of ways – Monet painted the fogs and mists over the Thames and was also struck by the lights at night as in Leicester Square at Night, 1901. In this painting Monet uses a variety of brushstrokes horizontal, vertical and in dabs to depict form and perspective. Perspective is also described using a variety of colours and intensities.  Everything was painted on a dark blue background.

Whilst artists such as Monet and Pissarro were interested in the more romantic elements of the Thames, I particularly liked Andre Derain‘s bright and colourful industrial scenes. In Charing Cross Bridge, London, 1906/7 he uses just three colours on a grey background to great effect.  Dark and mid blue for deep shadows, red for mid tones and green for lighter shades. Like many of these French visitors his viewpoint is high – possibly from his hotel room window?


Andre Derain.jpg
Andre Derain, Charing Cross Bridge London, 1906/7


It was difficult to find a good version of this painting on the internet and all have varying colours.

Russian You tube video – Contemporary Drawing

Interesting and varied contemporary drawings in a Russian exhibition:

There was an interesting range of contemporary drawings – traditional drawings in pencil/pen, installations using wire, video and photography, large and small formats.

I liked the wire installation of electrical pylons etc – a subject in one of my drawings for Part 3 and also similar to the work of David Oliviera – who also works with wire.

Visit to Bogota Colombia

Visit to Bogota Colombia

During my recent business trip to Bogota Colombia, I was able to take time out to sketch a small part of the City and to visit two excellent Art Museums:

Art Museum of the Banco de la Republica and the Botero Museum:

I was fortunate to see an excellent collection of Latin America art and Colonial art as well as European Art.

Among the artworks my highlights were as follows:

Guillermo Wiedemann, Retrato fondo rojo, 1950, Oil on cardboard

In this painting, I sensed a sadness in this portrait of a Mulato native of Colombia. I was also intriqued by the effects of the apparently simple line on a multicoloured background. The uncovering of the breast and phallic simbols on the RH side –  to me suggest rape or submission, even persecution.

Fernando Botero, Venus, 1932 Coloured pencil on paper

This is perhaps a lovely portrayal of a volumptuous figure using coloured pencil on paper – that may help me in Part 4. Very light shading – modelling the figure to give a wonderful 3D effect. I also noted that there are no heavy lines in the figure – just enough to assist the shading/modelling.

Alberto Giacommetti, Carolina with white background, 1961 (Detail), Oil on canvas

This drawing in oil could easily be a line drawing in ink – this is an artist that provides a constant source of inspiration for Part 4 of the course.

Jean Baptiste-Camille Corot, The small valley, 1871, Oil on Canvas

Whilst studying in Part 4, I was impressed by the wonderful pencil sketches made by Corot – This a good example of foreground, middleground and background.

Fernando Botero, Still life with basket of fruit, 1990, Pencil on paper

In this drawing I appreciated the modelling and textures in this drawing after my studies in Part 2. Botero’s skill at still life is also reflected in the modelling of his figures (and other subjects – such as trees). There is a deeper meaning within this drawing with the use of many symbols – such as the cross represented by the stalk of the apple, the peeled orange, the knife and the hammerhead of the bananas.

Frank Auerbach, Mornington Crescent towards the South, 1996/7, Oil on canvas

After reading about Auerbach and his work, it was a treat to see a work up close.  Not a large painting. You can see eveidence of his technique of scraping off paint, repainting, struggling to find the a solution to the modelling, movement and atmostphere of the scene – a scene literally outside of his studio – a scene he walked past every day and made many studies of – both in oils and pencil.  This is particularly relevant to my current work on Townscapes.

Marc Chagall, The flying clown, 1981, Oil on canvas

This painting was the most moving for me – I visited Chagall’s immense retrospective at the Royal Academy, London just before he died with my late father. This was a very special memory for me and I have never ceased to be amazed by the imagination, vibrant use of colour and sheer emotion within Chagalls paintings.  This painting made a few years before his death when he was a staggering 94 years old includes all the memories and motifs from his life and work – a self portrait? An inspration for me for Part 4 and the next course of POP.

Alejandro Obregon, Violence, 1962, Oil on canvas

This is a key work by a Spanish artist who settled in Colombia and worked with other artists interested in figuration/abstraction  – using the nude, landscape and historical issues as a subject for their works. In this painting Obregon’s work is a visual metaphor linking  the nation in conflict with a pregnant woman, whose figure blends into the mountainous landscape. A relevant work to my current studies in Part 3 Expanse.


Unfortunately I do not have details of this installation/sculpture – but it reminded me of the work of Julie Mehrethu in its explosive nature and effective use of pieces strategically placed to exagerrate the feeling of space and depth. An awesome piece of work and I am sure a Curators nightmare to install!