A while ago I strayed across an interesting old video on You Tube that got me thinking about the relationship between Artistic freedom and Modern Religious Art. This particular discussion, come lecture, was presented by a line up of tenured academics and young post graduate teachers. The panel argued how Contemporary Art institutions reacted negatively to work that was based in some sort of religious subject.The discussion started after an initial lecture by one of the Academics, David Thyrell. So began two hours of surprising statements, amusing quotes, some fairly logical reasoning, heart felt speeches and many contradictions from an art academic viewpoint.
Thyrell reckoned that… “Only Art that is critical of (western) religion of faith is acceptable as Contemporary Art. And all other art that could be read as religious, is translated to one of a post minimalistic view.” (And he went on to say)…”that all references to faith and religion is edited out at source”. (And also that…)…”the contemporary Art world does not seek any debate on this form of art because they see it as non-progressive, as propagandistic and not supportive of an advancing culture or indeed, enlightening mankind for the new centuries ahead of us.”
Thyrell spoke with passion and summed up his lecture by stating:-
…”it seems, that religious work that is non-specific, for example, non-stated religious, ambiguous or totally abstracted with very loose associations, are acceptable as Contemporary Art. Providing the images are not from a Judeo Christian slant. However, the tribal, the Asiatic or the cultism subjects are OK.“
Judaeo-Christian made up the bulk of the audience (note: it was held at a Roman Catholic University) I guessed they must have been appalled by the status-quo of the implied bigotry against religious art levelled against the ‘Artists of Faith’ as they call themselves. For me personally, there is no need to be religious specific to appreciate (or create) Art that is good, even if that Art owns its very existence to institutions of any religion persuasion who sponsored it, or indeed created by an artist that holds a particular belief system or faith.
Good Art is what floats my boat, I don’t care who or why or for whom it was created for. As for the rest of the Art that floods the web and the mass media art reviews, much of that, I find sort of shallow, or egoistically based, or trendy or with sought after intellectual inveigle high street gallery intention. I simply pass quickly by, metaphorically speaking, without so much as a cursory thought. So for me to be anguished by an Art as the above, would only go to validate it as important to a sort of global cultural or spiritual advancement, which I personally, believe it is not, perhaps it’s has the absolutely reverse effect.
Most artists, (those I know personally), when looking at a work of art and those that could be deemed as ‘Religious’ minded, tend to ignore the intended propaganda or dogma that is implied in the painting, but rather they are far more concerned about the pure magic of the work in front of them.
For example some the work of Pontormo or El Greco, to mention only two (religious sponsored) painters of the distant past, whose work I personally very much admire and gain a feeling of wonder and inspiration from.
After a while I began to feel that the lecture, come debate, was slightly myopic….
The full article will be published in issue #11 of painters Tubes magazine, December 2018
“Defining the Elemental”
Dean Clough. Halifax West Yorkshire
27th October through to 12th December 2019
Preview of the exhibition
This is a show that has ten painters and writer who has created poems for the works on exhibition at the Crossley Gallery venue inside the expansive Dean Clough complex.
In the introduction David Traves points out the inspiration of British 20th century painters such as David Bomberg, Leon Kossof and Frank Auerbach, that some of the participating artists may have been inspired by, although that is referring to paint application, more than it is to the subject.
The original concept and title for the exhibition. “Defining the Elemental” was his original idea and it conjures up a whole range of meanings behind it. Essentially the artwork to be shown in the main is based on nature, although one or two of the artists have expanded that to include the human figure and one or two with pure abstraction work that perhaps have broader and more expansive connection with the title of the show, i.e. “initium aquam” (Latin: Life began in Water) by Denis Taylor and “Rebuilding ground zero” by Jeanette Barnes. Richard Fitton, another fine painter, shows some new work, one in particular that is removed away from the ‘impasto paintings’ he is known for, to a more delicate surface finish and his growing concern for the drawing content in his creative output (e.g: “Amy” mixed media- on loan from a private collector). Ian Norris exhibits his highly developed semi-abstract work with his accomplished handling of paint, art works that are always based on dedicated charcoal sketches.
Nicki Heenan and Miranda Richmond are to exhibit their delightful and unique landscape paintings along with ‘imagined’ landscape paintings of Richard Clare and the more definite subject based work of Stephen Stringer. Shaun Smyth shall be showing a large panoramic painting of the Mersey Gateway Bridge, one of the many works that are to be shown at the Brindley Gallery, Merseyside with the exhibition ‘Constructing the Mersey Gateway Bridge’ (18th February 2018 to 5th April 2019). Shaun will also demonstrate his dedication as a skilled draughtsman by placing several charcoal sketch pieces next to his large painting. Barry De More, another painter whose work gives more than a nodding reference to Kossof and Frank Auerbach, will show works that range from the local environment of Keighley to Bradford (Yorkshire UK) to images of industrial workers on site.
All the painters and the work have a dedicated poem (prose) created by David Traves. His writing also extends to the brief introduction of the exhibition catalogue. David concentrates on his own reaction to each of the painters and their work and gives his own personal interpretation of the essence of each artist, words that are laid out in a classical manner, or style (i.e. short lines of words), but with deeper meaning behind them, meanings that perhaps encourages the reader to think more about the Art, and the artist(s) who created them.
All the work is available for acquisition by art institutions, public art galleries and the private art collector. Interested parties can contact, Crossley Gallery at Dean Clough (https://www.deanclough.com/) the artists directly or via painters Tubes magazine at: firstname.lastname@example.org
The exhibition runs from the 27th October 2018 through to the 12th January 2019
Dean Clough, Crossley Galleries, Halifax HX3 5AX
Tubes artists contributor, Laurence Cause Parsley, reviews a new exhibition of the work of Alun Williams. London – on show until 10th November.
Tucked away in a quiet street of Islington, The Handel Street Projects run by its passionate owner, Fedja Klikovac, presents until the 10th of November the first Alun Williams‘ solo show in London for thirty years. Alun Williams was born in Manchester in 1961, and lives and works in America. He is involved in the experimental projects undertaken by Parker’s Box, Brooklyn and supports the activities of Triangle in New York, Marseille and La Vigie in Nîmes, France.
The visitor is presented with a variety of artworks, ranging from vintage-framed drawings in graphite and ink in the hall way, small scale resin sculptures covered with blue or gold paint on the mantelpiece, more sketches and drawings in the main room next to larger paintings. They all have a common point: a sinuous, irregular-surfaced abstract shape. In fact this abstract shape is the signature of Alun Williams: passionate about History and historical characters, he sets on a search to discover an accidental ‘trace’ close by a landmark linked to the character he is interested in. From there the artists embarks on a pictorial narrative.
“No Paine No Gain”… refers to Thomas Paine (Thetford 1737- NY 109) the British philosopher… “who was a pioneer of democracy and equality having an enormous influence on both the American and French revolutions. He was also a pioneer of innovation in spreading information-very much a precursor of recent politicians realising the potential of social media. In Paine’s case his famed political texts such as Common sense, Rights of Man, and American crisis were published as ‘cheap’ pamphlets in print runs up of up to 500 000, a circulation volume previously unheard of in the 18th century.”
Alun Williams visited Lewes where Paine lived for a while and on the doorstep of his house found a splash of blue paint. The shape is more than a seducing form under a glass globe as seen on the mantelpiece: in a surrealist way, Williams decided that the splash will be the symbol representing Thomas Paine thus opening a very interesting dialogue between past and present and, in the case of Artist’s Impression: Golden Thomas Paine statue at the ICA Philadelphia, even future! The painting depicts a night view of the ICA in Philadelphia, the first town Paine visited when he went to America. Williams makes the viewer stand outside the building and look through the bay window inside the hall, where a somehow incongruous large stone pedestal is set with the gold sinuous shape at the top. It is a very powerful statement, painting of a memorial monument which does not exist, the symbolic historical presence of Paine in an existing building questioning the meaning of democracy and equality in today’s and tomorrow’s America and thereby in today’s and tomorrow’s world.
It is worth mentioning that the artist has used the same process with Edgar Allan Poe or Jules Verne and more obscure characters, all gathered in a book, LEST, Manuella Eds, 2011.
Alun Williams – “No Paine No Gain.” at: Handel Street Projects, 22/09 – 10/11. Wednesday to Friday 12pm-6pm, Saturday 10am-1pm and by appointment.
14 Florence Street, London N 1
As of August 8th – painters Tubes printed version of the magazine will be available to read at the Manchester Central Library, Manchester City Center, Manchester UK. Enquires for supply of Tubes magazine for public venues welcomed: email: email@example.com
please put – “tubes printed magazine – public availability” in the subject line.