= The Crawford Arts Review

Monday, 27 January 2020

The art that is sculpture embraces the art that is architecture

The result, I think, is a triumphant win-win for both.

The sculpture (the picture on the left shows only a small part of it) is the work of Spanish installation artist and sculptor Cristina Iglesias and it has just won her the Royal Academy of Arts 2020 architecture prize.  

The prize is awarded for urban sculptures in public spaces (in other words, the spaces between buildings). By this process it is hoped the life and work of two sets of people are enriched: the people who work in the buildings and the people who pass by in the normal course of their day, taking a fresh air break, having lunch, shopping, or catching a moment of relaxation.

The multiple sections of the specially commissioned sculpture are built of cast bronze, granite and, of course, water. They surround the Bloomberg Building and are in fact integral to the building's roof drainage system. So here Ms Iglesias displays not only architectural but engineering skills. Gravitational force and the gradient of bronze the sculptor has built in to the work mimic the fluid dynamics of a rushing stream so that you can almost imagine this is the local Walbrook stream (now underground) you are looking at. Lower level granite walkways have also been installed so that on sunny days you might imagine sitting on the banks of the stream watching as the sparkling water makes its way down the ancient river valley to enter the Thames.     

Note: The Bloomberg Building, the company's European Headquarters and itself a winner of RIBA's Stirling Prize, was designed by Lord Norman Foster of Foster and Partners and sits in a 3.2-acre site between St Paul's and the Bank of England.

Cristina Iglesias Forgotten Streams
The Bloomberg Building
3 Queen Victoria Street
London EC4 

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Until Sunday 26 January 2020

Fifty or so of Paul Gauguin's portraits, displayed in the National Gallery's Sainsbury Wing in a backdrop that is grandly, and blackly, architectural. Congratulations to everyone concerned here.

My eye was caught by a relatively early work of the artist. Having moved to Brittany after the Paris stock market crash which ruined him, Gauguin is shown jauntily wearing a bright Breton top. The same crash had turned him, not without some work of course, from a Sunday to a full-time painter.

Portraits of his friends include an 1889-90 study in charcoal of fellow artist Meijer de Haan and a further sculptural portrait of De Haan fashioned from oak wood.

Portraits of Tahitian women abound, dazzlingly. The Exhibition's poster work is the 1883 painting 'The Ancestors of Tehamana' or 'Tehamana Has Many Parents' (Merahi metua no Tehamana); in painting her the way he did Gauguin made her an icon. French Polynesia's national flower (tiaré flowers, Tahitian gardenias) are wound in her hair, she wears a modestly high-necked smock dress; the fan she carries serves as an explicit reference to the tropics. Behind her the artist has made a frieze of hieroglyph-like symbols. It matters not that they can't be read. They're there to represent mystery and exoticism, the unknown and unknowable early lineage of the peoples of the South Seas.

In full creative flow, and knowing syphilis would probably kill him, Gauguin wrote on one of the paintings of Tahitian beauties he sent back to Paris: "What! Are you jealous?" one can only surmise his thoughts at that point.

The National Gallery
Trafalgar Square

Monday, 4 November 2019

until Saturday 30 November (but watch out for any extensions)

Ride the Wild
at Levy Gorvy, Old Bond Street

Works by a 3-artist group: Albert Oehlen (6 works), Franz West (8 works) and Christopher Wool (3 works).

Albert Oehlen is Hamburg trained, assured and with the lightest of academic touches. If anything he espouses the great tradition of Gerhard Richter, of covering up his genius by adding some painterly scrawls over the top as if to say – oh, I don't want to boast, it's only a painting. I love his work.

Wednesday, 23 October 2019

How to own a Unicorn

This lovely beast, here being comforted in the arms of a gentlewoman, is part of a c1500 Franco-Flemish  tapestry 'A la Licorne' on sale at Christie's  on Friday 25 October. They and the tapestry form part of the Oliver Hoare Collection.

Thursday, 3 October 2019

James Rosenquist until Saturday 09 November


First, Ely House: James Rosenquist, "Visualising the Sixties": Can one begin to call the 1960s an age of innocence? Compared to now, that is? Well, the work of James Rosenquist will allow you, non-nostalgically, to revisit it. 

In the US, the sixties was a decade that Rosenquist made his own, becoming as influential as any artist of his time. His works are full of innovation in terms of materials, techniques and subject matter. Mylar, the acetate of the time, was painted and precision cut to make what he called Immersive paintings; collages incorporated everything from torch lights to fishing hooks. No wonder other artists of the time revered him.

Rosenquist was also an entry player in the field of kinetics. The picture shows his painting Tube (1961).

Paint applied to canvas seems to spin before your eyes. But step back a moment and look sideways on (see image below).

Here the painting resembles a speed dial. I venture to say that here the artist is demonstrating the consummate skill of the commercial 'billboard' artist he once was. In the scaling up of poster art, the image must have enough impact to arrest the attention of the speeding walker or driver.

There is something fragile and somehow innocent about so much of the work we see here, whether painting or preparatory sketch. The artist is able to get his effects using a subtle but convincing graphic language that is never brash, but nevertheless wholly convincing. 

What a nice man he must have been you think as you pass the giant photograph of him at work that adorns the Gallery's entrance hall.


Coloured minimalism, Rosemarie Castoro (red pink green grey blue tan, 1964), maximalism, Elizabeth Peyton, (Kiss, 2019), and between these poles, the sculptural Oliver Beer (Recomposition (Troy), 2019)  a violin sectioned and set in resin.

A co-production of a series of Oskar Schlemmer's original Bauhaus Dance performances as part of Frieze LIVE's focus on the Bauhaus, and coinciding with Bauhaus 100, its 100th Anniversary. Performances take place on 2nd, 3rd & 5th October at 4pm in the performance area close to the Ropac booth (Stand B7).


Friday, 20 September 2019

London Design Festival ends Sunday 22 September

Camille Walala was always meant to be a designer you think (her father is an architect) as you gaze at her geometrical and grid paper works - currently in South Molton Street and (hurrah) due to stay there after the Festival ends on Sunday.

Monday, 16 September 2019

London Design Festival at The Conran Shop Marylebone High Street

The London Design Festival 2019 began on Saturday. I have collected my Red Book, the Guide to the whole of the Festival.* I biked up to Marylebone High Street and found it at The Conran Shop, the official design district hub for Marylebone. You'll also find three floors of design excellence. Keep going until you're right at the northern end of this lovely street, it's No. 55.