“No Paine, No Gain” Alun Williams solo show. Handel Street Projects, London.

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.

Alun Williams Artist- painters Tubes-
Detail of Thomas Paine on His Estate in New Rochelle 2018 oil and acrylic on canvas

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.”

painters Tubes - new exhibition in London
Golden Thomas Paine statue at ICA Philadelphia. 2018. Acrylic on canvas.

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

Alun Williams- painters Tubes magazine
Thomas Pain Political Philosophy #1 2018 ink and coloured pencil on watercolour paper
Thomas PaineCommon Sense 2018 acrylic on canvas
Thomas Paine Common Sense, 2018. acrylic on canvas
Handel Strett Project. Alun Williams. painters Tubes magazine
Model of Thomas Paine Statue for NewYork 2018 resin metal paint glass wood

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Pauline Rignall….featured artist in painters TUBES magazine, issue #8

painters Tubes Editor interviews Pauline Rignall at her studio for issue#8
Pauline Rignall discussing her work with Denis Taylor Editor of Tubes magazine

Pauline is a painter who is exploring ‘human sensuality’ through the inspiration of myths and legends in her recent work.  She translates these often suppressed, or  hidden sexual feelings, into vibrant dynamic contemporary art. She is also a gifted landscape artist. Tubes editor, Denis Taylor, visited her recently in her home studio to discover more about her and her art…Pauline is featured in the upcoming issue (#8) of Tubes…not to be missed.

 

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Can artists write about other artists much better than non-artists?

Tubes magazine. Can artists write about other artists better than non-artists?
Giorgio Vasari was an Italian painter, architect, writer, and historian, most famous today for his Lives of the Most Excellent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects, considered the ideological foundation of art-historical writing.

As the Editor of painters Tubes magazine and a full time artists for 30 years, I have found that writing about other artists (in my case painters) gives me a sort of insider knowledge of how artists process their work, from both intellectual and physical angles. When interviewing other artists this special understanding forms the basis of our conversation(s) and helps me to get to the ‘pip-of- the-poodle’, as they say in Sweden. Little time is wasted on talking about the contingencies of painting- say, the choice of paint, the type of base preferred (board, canvas etc). Nor do I waste interview-time making a list of their education background, academic or art competition gongs, or any other ‘list’ that are usually intended to impress prospective buyers or potential representation of galleries.

I find that four to five hours is required to fully examine and get to the bottom line of the artists real reasons for living life an artist. What it is that drives them and provides the impetus to continue with ‘needing’ to create something original and authentic – This is often more complex than most people realise. Total confusion on the ‘why’ to create at all, is always that empty space that manifests itself as the struggle felt, as is the overpowering ‘need’ to gain not only recognition of ones peers, but also from total strangers, art agents or art galleries who may wish to actually purchase or value the work. Separation of the conscious ego from the subconscious creative mind remains an issue, as it has always been.

My conversations with artists helps me to confront some ‘hidden-agendas’ head on. ‘How to survive as a full time time painter’, for example, is often talked about, or rather, how difficult that is to maintain in the 21st Century. “Too many artists, not enough space to exhibit”, frequently comes up in ‘chats’ as an irritation, as does the gallery bias for one type of art over another or the ‘lottery’ of being singled out on the www for acclaim. Social Media addiction is always a problem for artists, especially for those that post every single brush stroke they make for the world to admire, i.e. “here’s one I started this morning..” type of post- (unfinished ‘updates’ of art is one habit that I personally abhor). 
Some writers of art prefer to ramble on the aesthetics of this or that work of art, using words that simpler descriptions would suffice quite adequately. And whereas that ‘academic way’ is probably a very 20th century way of writing about Art, it is still utilised today to avoid discussing the real practical issues facing painters. Or indeed what their Art is really ‘all about.’

The other difference, I have found, as an artist interviewing another artist is, I am truly interested in how a work or series of work came about, not in any ‘journalistic’ way, but as a fellow artist who experienced similar ‘awakenings’ or insights. It is also not that difficult for an artist who interviews another artist to quickly spot an ‘image-maker’ from an artist who ‘works’ to develop their Art rather than simply live off it.

For me, as the Editor of an Art Magazine, one that is devoted to ‘paintings and painters’ it seems clear that I should be looking to encourage other Artists to start to write about other Artists. If I am lucky enough to achieve that aim – I honestly think Art in general will be the better for it…

Denis Taylor Artist
Denis Taylor Artist and Editor of painters Tubes magazine