Writings on Water

Dancing ink on canvas, drawing with a hand breathing.
I draw what I cannot dance… remaining forever on a page.
Carolyn Carlson, 2017

Scan 2017-8-5 15.29.14From the image on the exhibition leaflet I just knew it was going to be good. But walking through the exhibition of Carolyn Carlson’s drawings revealed some serious soulful authenticity.

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Carolyn Carlson photographed by Guy Delahaye in Venice, 1988

Carolyn Carlson is a Californian dancer and choreographer who has lived for extensive periods of time in Paris, Roubaix, Venice and New York. During her nomadic existence she has always written, drawn and painted in fusion with her dancing career.  Carolyn Carlson’s ballet, ‘Writings on Water‘, lends its name to this exhibition that presents over 100 sketches and drawings. The venue, museum La Piscine in Roubaix, is no coincidence. Not only is the water just next to the exhibition rooms but Carlson was also director of the Centre Choréographique National in Roubaix for 9 years.

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La Piscine, Roubaix, a public swimming pool turned into a museum.

Carlson calls herself a self-taught poet, illustrator, and calligraphic painter, with influences from a Zen Master. During a meditation class in New York in the 1960’s she drew her first ink drawing with a one-out breath. She recalls that instant as a discovery, a key to her work. Her dance improvisation encouraged also her calligraphic works which she likes to call an imaginary spontaneous solo.

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For the ballet ‘Signes’ she collaborated with Olivier Debré. In the exhibition you can see Carlson’s design drawings and a video of the final ballet.

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It’s also very interesting to see many of her tools, sketchbooks, artist books etc. displayed in the exhibition. Altogether, ‘Writing on Water’ succeeds to provide an intimate look into the holistic artistic life of Carolyn Carlson.

Carolyn Carlson ‘Writing on Water’ is on view in La Piscine till 24 Sep 2017. Pictures are taken by me in the exhibition, artworks are taken from the catalogue.

 

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Punk – Junko Oki

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Junko Oki – A Bulb, 2017 (Detail)

Junki Oki started her artistic practice in 2002 right before turning 40. Her work consists of embroidery on old fabrics, often several centuries old, collected by her late mother. Her work focuses primarily on human relationships, particularly those of her family.  Personal memories seem to spiral into abstract intricate thread drawings. Junko Oki is based in Kanagawa, Japan.
I had admired her poetic and authentic work online, so when I learned that Office Baroque in Brussels was hosting her first solo exhibition in Belgium I just had to go and see her work in person.

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Junko Oki – A Jacket, 2016

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Junko Oki – Fingertip, 2017

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Junko Oki – Anna Maria, 2016

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Junko Oki – A Mineral, 2017

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Junko Oki – Snow, Ruby, Lemon, 2017

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Junko Oki – Memories, 2017

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Junko Oki – Time Machine, 2017

 

IMG_9196Apart from her 2 and 3 dimensional embroidered work, Oki is also known for a series of artist books. The success she enjoyed after showing her work to the world was compiled in a beatiful book ‘Punk’ that not only captures her work but also the unique atmosphere she manages to instill in each work.

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Punk – Book on Junko Oki’s work, 2014

Solo exhibition Junko Oki on view at Office Baroque, Brussels till 27 May 2017. The gallery has some copies of Punk for sale. Check out their website.

 

 

Gerhard Richter – New Paintings

 

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Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (946-4), 2016. Oil on canvas

Gerhard Richter, one of the most famous artists of our time, has lived in Cologne since 1984. It’s there that Museum Ludwig currently presents his new paintings. 26 abstract paintings are exhibited, all created in the past year. Some of my favourites are below.

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Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (943-1), 2016. Oil on canvas

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Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (944-10), 2016. Oil on canvas

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Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (946-3), 2016. Oil on canvas

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Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (946-5), 2016. Oil on canvas

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Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (947-1), 2016. Oil on canvas

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Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (947-8), 2016. Oil on canvas

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Gerhard Richter- Abstract Painting (939-7), 2015. Oil on canvas

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Exhibition view Gerhard Richter New Paintings Museum Ludwig

The museum asked the master himself to select some of his older works from their collection to contextualise the surprisingly bright colourful new compositions. These works are shown in a dense showcase adjacent to the exhibition.

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Gerhard Richter- Ema, Nude on a Staircase, 1966. Oil on canvas

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Gerhard Richter- Betty, 1977. Oil on canvas

Gerhard Richter’s first wife, Ema, with whom he moved from the GDR to West Germany, posed for a photograph, appearing naked on the stairs in his Düsseldorf studio in 1966. With ‘Ema’, the artist painted one of his first works based on one of his own colour photographs that would become an icon in his oeuvre. Ema is at that time pregnant with their daughter Babette who was born 6 months later. Babette is depicted 10 years later on the painting ‘Betty’.

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Gerhard Richter- War, 1981. Oil on canvas

The paining above, ‘War’, belongs to a series of abstract paintings that Gerhard Richter painted in preparation of his contribution to Documenta 7 in 1982. It’s one of his first monumental abstract works.
One can only conclude that Richter, at age 85, relentlessly continues his investigation in the presentation of reality and continues to be fascinated by the use of chance in the creation of his works.
On view in Museum Ludwig till May 1st 2017.

Saul Leiter: paintings

“I may be old-fashioned, but I believe there is such a thing as a search for beauty – a delight in the nice things in the world. And I don’t think one should have to apologise for it.”  

Saul Leiter in  ‘In No Great Hurry‘, a 2014 documentary about Saul Leiter

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Saul Leiter, Untitled, ca 1960. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper

Saul Leiter (1923-2013) was born in Pittsburgh. His Jewish father was a well known Talmud scholar and Saul studied to become a Rabbi. His mother gave him his first camera at age 12. At age 23, he left theology school and moved to New York City to pursue painting. He had developed an early interest in painting and was fortunate to meet the Abstract Expressionist painter Richard Pousette-Dart, who was experimenting with photography. His interest in photography grew and he started to take pictures of his neighbourhood. The rest is history. Saul Leiter became a pioneering photographer with a very distinct eye.

Despite his photography career, he never gave up painting. In the retrospective exhibition which originated at the Deichtorhallen in Hamburg and travelled to FOMU in Antwerp, his pioneering pictures were shown next to his colourful paintings; abstract paintings on Japanese silk paper, painted-over nude pictures and small paintings in sketchbooks. A beautiful  artistry of Leiter to be discovered!

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Saul Leiter, Untitled, ca 1960. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper

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Saul Leiter, Untitled. Gouache and watercolour over gelatine silver print

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Saul Leiter, Untitled, 1960. Gouache and watercolour over gelatine silver print

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Saul Leiter, Untitled, 1960. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper

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Saul Leiter, Untitled. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper

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Saul Leiter, Untitled. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper

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Saul Leiter, Untitled, 1960. Gouache, casein and watercolour on paper

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Saul Leiter, sketchbooks

All pictures were taken by me in the Retrospective in FOMU, Antwerp.

 

 

Full Moon

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Museum Voorlinden, Wassenaar

A new museum is born. The youngest museum in the Netherlands opened in September 2016 near The Hague. Museum Voorlinden houses the diverse art collection of Joop van Caldenborgh. The idea to develop a new museum to house this exceptional collection rooted a few years ago and finally saw the light in 2016. A new building was designed, the gardens were designed by Piet Oudolf and the stately building in the garden was turned into a restaurant. It must be said: Museum Voorlinden is a gem to be discovered!

What striked me most during my first visit is how the surrounding landscape is made part of the museum experience and also the pleasant way the visitor is invited to explore and learn about the art works.

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Ellsworth Kelly – Blue Ripe (1959)

The opening exhibition in Museum Voorlinden was and ode to the late artist Ellsworth Kelly (1923-2015). It was the first solo exhibition of the American artist in The Netherlands since 1979 but it closed on January 8. Martin Creed is coming up next.

The exhibition ‘Full Moon‘ offers an introduction to the collection by presenting 40 art works to be discovered and to enjoy the pleasure of looking. Museum Voorlinden also has a number of works in its own permanent exhibition where they are shown in the best possible way. Museum Voorlinden is highly recommended by Fieldnotes. Some of my favourites are below.

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Ron Mueck – Open Ended (2007-2008). Mueck makes extremely realistic human figures. Only the scale of the sculptures reveals that they are not ‘real’. As a son of a puppet maker he gets intrigued at an early age about puppets and the ways to make them move. At some point he works as assistent puppet maker with Jim Henson (‘Sesame Street’ and ‘The Muppet Show’). Mueck manages to never impose his own vision or story so that you can freely make your own story while looking at the works.

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Kaari Upson – Janice, Tracy, Sarah, Kristin, Joan, … (2012). In 2003 Kaari Upson entered a deserted house close to Los Angeles where she lives. Apparently a pervert has lived here who is now serving his time in prison. Upson took some of the found objects, named the mysterious figure ‘Larry’ and created several works within this new reality. The installation on display here is the climax of Upson’s Larry project. All women that played a role in the narrative of the Larry project come together here and are named in the endlessly long title. the crutches are made from silicon and in their slackness have lost all functionality of support. The skin colours, the use of hair, dust and dirt make the work attractive and repulsive at the same time.

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Rémy Zaugg – Imagine, you are standing here in front of me (1990-1993). Painted in white on a white canvas the text in Rémy Zaugg’s work is barely readable at first. Zaugg is well known for his word-paintings. This work is in a way a self portrait. By using the tool of language Zaugg challenges the viewer to visualise his portrait. At the same time it is an illustration of the relativity of all perception: everyone creates his own image.

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Pascale Marthine Tayou – Cloth Painting F (2013). Various pieces of fabric, stitched together, stretched over a frame and eye-catchingly in the center is the skin of a swine. The fabrics, taken from second hand garments, and the skin almost come alive because of the filling with hay. These are recurrent materials and objects in the oeuvre of Pascale Martine Tayou, a Cameroon artist living in Belgium. Tayou creates universal images dealing with topics like migration, the circulation of people and commodities, equality versus inequality. He presents it in a colourful way by means of objects from his motherland.

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Astrid Mingels – Introverted (2014). The skin of a zebra, folded neatly, displayed on a white pedestal. Astrid Mingels removes the skin from its colonial context. By folding up the skin, she refers to the downfall of the modernistic way of thinking. The trophy is reduced to a package that can easily be stored in a cupboard.

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Ornaghi & Prestinari – Abito, 2014. In Italian the word ‘abito’ is used for the blue working garment. We see two versions: the one in the back is a common overall with paint splashes. The garment in the front is an exact copy but now knitted and every spot of paint is embroidered by hand on the wool. It brings hommage to the painter and the craftsmanship inherent in the act of painting.

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Giorgio Morandi – Natura Morta con quattro oggetti e tre bottiglie (1956) & Natura Morta con cinque oggetti (1956). “Nothing is a s abstract as reality”, is an often heard quote of Morandi. In his studio he collected all sorts of pots, jars, vases and jugs. He depicted them in hundreds of combinations. Morandi is not interested in the representation of the objects as such, but in creating works where the main motif is the interrelationship of their form, the space in between and the interplay of light and shadow. It results in an endless variety as these two etchings on display illustrate.

 

 

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Richard Serra – Open Ended (2007-2008). This monumental work in steel weighs 216 ton, is 4 m high, 18 m long and can be experienced by walking through. After a few steps you enter an other world completely surrounded by the art work. A museum room was specifically designed in close collaboration with the artist to house ‘Open Ended’. The result is an exciting contrast between straight and bowed, light and shadow, inside and outside.

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Leandro Erlich – Swimming Pool (2016). Erlich plays with optical illusions. He creates disorientating installations, mostly architectural spaces where something is not quite right. When you visit make sure to go ‘in’ the Swimming Pool. You won’t get wet.

Seeing art is great fun at Museum Voorlinden. And that alone deserves a visit.

Pictures were taken by me, caption content is adapted from visitors guide “Full Moon” exhibition and the book “Highlights Collectie Voorlinden”.

 

 

Van Gogh’s first steps as an artist

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Pink peach trees (‘Souvenir de Mauve’) – Vincent Van Gogh, circa 30 Mar 1888, oil on canvas. This is one of the first paintings he made after moving to Paris

Vincent Van Gogh (1853-1890) might be one of the most famous artists in the world. He was born in 1853 in the Netherlands. After having done different jobs he decided to become an artist at the age of 27. Van Gogh took painting lessons in The Hague from a cousin by marriage, artist Anton Mauve.

Van Gogh’s early drawings and paintings can now be seen at the Kröller-Müller Museum in the Netherlands. The expo ‘The Early Van Gogh – work against indifference‘ showcases 120 works from the museums’ collection from the period 1880-1885. The works clearly show how Van Gogh’s artistry develops in his early Dutch period. It reveals his fanatical practising to improve his drawing technique and to create art that in his own words ‘wells up from a deeper source in our soul’.

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Man seen from the back and studies of hands – Vincent Van Gogh, May-Jun 1885, chalk on paper

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Reaper – Vincent Van Gogh, Jul-Aug 1885, chalk on paper

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Man with broom – Vincent Van Gogh, Oct 1881, chalk, charcoal, watercolour on paper

 

 

 

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Boy with a sickle – Vincent Van Gogh, Oct-Nov 1881, chalk, charcoal, watercolour on paper

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Carpenter’s yard and laundry – Vincent Van Gogh, May 1882, pencil, chalk, ink, watercolour on paper

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Weaver in front of his loom – Vincent Van Gogh, May-Jun 1884, pencil, ink, watercolour on paper

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Peasant woman cleaning a pot – Vincent Van Gogh, Jul-Aug 1885, chalk on paper

After his father died in 1885 he started working on the famous painting ‘The Potato Eaters‘. Later that year he decided to enrol at the academy of art in Antwerp and from there he moved to Paris.
The works he produced in France until his death can be seen in museums all over the world but for his very first drawings and paintings you have to go to the beautiful Kröller-Müller Museum.
And while you’re there grab one of the free white bikes and enjoy the surrounding Veluwe National Park with all your senses.

 

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Exhibition view ‘The Early Van Gogh’ – Kröller-Müller Museum, The Netherlands

Tip: The website of the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is a great resource if you want to read more on Van Gogh.

Paulina Olowska – portraits

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Paulina Olowska – Girl in Portobello Road market offers for sale dresses she has made, 2012. Oil on canvas.

Paulina Olowska (1976) grew up in Poland in the days of communism. Today, she still  lives and works in Poland, dividing her time between Krakow and her studio in the lush Polish countryside.
As an artist she explores topics as the woman as an archetype, muse, mother, housewife, model or artist and she sets them against the backdrop of the historical, social and cultural shifts between East and West since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

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Paulina Olowska – Granny, 2012. Oil on canvas.

Olowska has always been profoundly interested in the cultural and social significance of clothing and fashion. Her early paintings and collages were based on commercial images but recently her paintings became more lively.  She plays so freely with the paint, watered down to nearly watercolour, sprayed or liberally pasted on the canvas, it all happens easily in one painting. Seeing her paintings in person is a true delight.

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Paulina Olowska – Nicole de la Marge and the Rolling Stones, Queen, 1964, 2012. Oil on canvas.

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Paulina Olowska – Untitled (for Ulrike Ottinger), 2012. Oil on canvas.

Having studied art in 5 countries; Japan, America, the Netherlands, Portugal and Poland, Olowska continues to exhibit her work internationally. Last year she was shown in Paris, Aachen and Tate Modern-London. Soon she will have a show in Metro Pictures Gallery in NY (Nov 4-Dec 22, 2016). The portraits above are currently on view in “These Strangers… Painting and People” at SMAK, Belgium till 8 Jan 2017.

Read more about Paulina Olowska in this interesting recent article in NYTimes Style Magazine and here.