Staring at art from the Tate's collection and thinking about it

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Amoha O Fetise - Neville Gabie

Neville Gabie, Amoha O Fetise, 1998, screenprint on paper, 380 x 260 mm, Tate.

Part of a wider project in which South African artist Gabie photographed makeshift goalposts across the world, admirably describing them as examples of 'dirty minimalism'.  This screenprint, in which the standard football pitch layout is distorted, connects well with that concept of a blueprint being imperfectly followed, potentially by nearly anyone in any place.  Well, maybe not Lou Ferrigno in a tiny lift, but you get the idea.
   There's a quote from Shakespeare at the bottom that I could live without, as that sort of thing makes me feel like the artist is asking for a pat on the head for having done reading.  No need to show your working out, artists!

N - Newsletter - Joe Tilson

Joe Tilson, N - Newsletter, 1969-70, screenprint on paper, 737 x 500 mm, Tate.

Another work acquired due to the Tate's seeming policy to purchase every print made in Britain in between 1968 and 1976.  Part of the A-Z Box, in which pop artist Tilson explores various types of visual communication.  Here the language of newsletter is subjected to Dada cut-up, so that it is rendered nonsensical.  While Tilson's contemporaries the Situationists would use this device to undermine the Capitalist Spectacle and thereby bring about a new world order built around messing about in a giant playpen for adults, Tilson opts for the usual pop ambiguity of balancing on the wall separating criticism and celebration.  Newsletters ought to be examined, the work says, but they're probably not evil.

Provence - Charles M. Gere

Charles M. Gere, Provence, 1926, ink, crayon and watercolour on paper, 324 x 457 mm, Tate.

Charles M. Gere does a watercolour of his holiday in Provence, as about a billion and one other British artists had done for over a century and a half before him.  What distinguishes him from his predecessors?  At first glance, not much.  He hasn't shattered the image and rearranged it in a Cubist stylee, or turned the colour knob up like an over-excited Expressionist.  But, if you look closely, you can just about tell this is from the twentieth Century, and not the nineteenth.  There's a flattening of the areas of colour that gives a hint that Gere may have once seen a Gauguin, and results in the impression that the ground is as liquid as the river running through it.  Much British art of the time is in this vein.  A nod to the undeniable fact that something's changed, but not wanting to be foolish and throw all the old stuff away in a rash moment.  Many sneer at this, but it's a reasonable enough attitude.  Most people are not revolutionaries, but are also not totally conservative.  This type of work captures that large slice of human experience nicely.

Sunday, 7 July 2013

The Founding of Australia 1788 - Algernon Talmage

Algernon Talmage, The Founding of Australia 1788, 1937, oil paint on canvas, 2290 x 3200 mm, Tate.

Another example of what the Tate was actually buying doing the modernist era.  Weirdly, the actual painting was presumably too tedious to photograph, and instead is represented here by this line sketch of it featured in the 1937 Royal Academy catalogue.  So instead of a presumably unremarkable history painting (I've seen a detailed oil sketch and you'd have to be really big on the founding of Australia to get much out of it), we get this curious ghost version of it.  Print out and colour in.