Ittenology: Theories on Colour Explored at Rook and Raven Gallery

Yesterday I attended the private viewing of Ittenology. The show features the works of Marita Fraser and Nancy Milner who explore Johannes Itten’s theories regarding the juxtaposition of colour and its perceptual contrasts.

Australian Artist Marita Fraser lives and works in London, graduating from Sydney College of the Arts with first class Honours in 2005, continuing her studies at the Academy of Fine Art, Vienna (2006-2010). The artist has exhibited extensively across Australia and Europe. Fraser has held solo shows with James Dorahy Project Space, Sydney; Kerstin Engholm Gallery, Vienna, and Engen Stadt Museum, Germany, as well as participating in group shows in London, Manchester, Sydney, Perth, Vienna, Eindhoven, Linz, Amsterdam, Basel, Berlin and Frankfurt.

Barnsley born artist Nancy Milner, graduated from The Royal Academy Schools in 2013 and previously studied at the University of Reading. Her resume includes, Royal Academy Schools Show, London; Form from Form, Matthews Yard, London (both 2013), Premiums Interim Projects, Royal Academy of Arts, London (2012); Architectural Fragments, Apiary Studios, London (2011). Nancy won the Jerwood Purchase Prize for Painting, 2012 and was awarded the Abbey Scholarship in Painting, 2014 – 2015 at The British School in Rome.

Unfortunately, despite the merits of the artists and the theme of the show, I found the exhibition, disappointingly uneventful and lacking in energy. Personally, I would have preferred to have seen a more colourful collection of work. The lack of this made me recall a quote from Itten himself –  ’ Colour is life; for a world without colours appears to us as dead.’

However, I’m always encouraged and provoked by the work of others. I encourage you to see it and judge yourself. The show runs at the Rook and Raven Gallery London from 22nd January – 5th March, 2016. For further info please visit www.rookandraven.co.uk

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Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of the British Empire

Most of my blog posts focus on the arts and the creative world but I do occasionally like to delve into the realms of politics, society and history. A number of years ago, I posted a less than favourable blog on Gandhi and why some Indians disliked him.  I recently came across another article on this man, who still remains one of the most iconic figures associated with civil rights, equality and the beginning the fall of the British Empire.

A controversial new book by two South African university professors reveals shocking details about Gandhi’s life in South Africa between 1893 and 1914, before he returned to India.

Whilst in South Africa, Gandhi routinely expressed “disdain for Africans,” says S. Anand, founder of Navayana, the publisher of the book titled “The South African Gandhi: Stretcher-Bearer of Empire.” The book combs through Gandhi’s own writings during the period and government archives and paints a portrait that is at variance with how the world regards him today. Please read the attached article url . This sounds like a book to add to my collection.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2015/09/03/what-did-mahatma-gandhi-think-of-black-people/

Arts and Diversity: Talent Is Everywhere but is Opportunity ?

This week I found the subjects of a black boycott of the Oscars and UK black actors furthering their careers overseas quite interesting. Fundamentally, the Oscars are meant to celebrate high quality filmmaking, irrespective of ethnicity. Historically, Hollywood has had a problem representing people who aren’t white Americans or European. Moreover, one questions how the Academy celebrates the achievements of actors, producers and directors presenting a more positive, diverse and progressive perspective of filmmaking.  I understand a significant and growing percentage of filmgoers in America are from minority groups so there should be some reflection of this on screen and in what the Academy considers award worthy.  It has a responsibility to be more reflective and less bias towards its telling of history, its summary of the present and its vision of the future, which half the time paints a very bleak if not non existent picture for those of a darker hue. The Academy’s issues  come as no surprise when the decision makers are predominantly white middle aged men, disengaged with a wider society.

White middle aged men, responsible for this kind of gatekeeping, equally suppress black expression and representation in UK arts. They remain gatekeepers in how particularly the western world sees itself and more importantly what it values. This isn’t a new phenomenon because, for a number of years, creative professionals from minority groups,  including musicians, performing artists, writers and painters have looked abroad for a beacon of hope and opportunity, to master their talents and feed their aspirations. As a London born artist, I have found some solace in New York, knowing there is a greater degree of support, comradery amongst peers and opportunity to work  in chosen fields, with less emphasis on colour. That’s not to say things are completely flawless however. So what is the problem with the UK? Surely there must be a limit on how many period dramas are made and writing  negative stereotypical or token roles into depressing soaps operas like EastEnders are by no means the solution.

Whilst this gatekeeping issue is a challenge and we identify culprits responsible for its maintenance, we must also hold ourselves responsible for implementing change, either through boycotting industries or being more vocal and visible in our demand for it.

I have tremendous respect and admiration for David Oyelowo, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Marianne Jean-Baptiste, Idris Elba and others for their success so far. They provide encouragement and hope, despite the odds, to persevere with international careers. I’m equally glad such talented people are realising they must seek opportunities wherever doors are open. Perhaps the grass is greener on the other side? I’m interested to hear others views on this matter.

http://www.theguardian.com/culture/video/2016/jan/18/idris-elba-talent-is-everywhere-opportunity-isnt-video?CMP=share_btn_link

Robel Temesgen: Art Inspired by the Ethiopian Belief of Adbar

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2016! January starts with visiting the first of a number of shows featuring inspiring art by inspiring artists.

Robel Temesgen with his work entitled 'Adbar 2'
Robel Temesgen with his work entitled ‘Adbar 2’

Tiwani Contemporary now represents Ethiopian artist Robel Temesgen and hosts his first UK solo exhibition this month. The exhibition collates a series of work inspired by the Ethiopian belief of Adbar and its associated rituals. In Amharic, the term ‘adbar’ refers to the embodiment of protective spirits within various elements of the natural landscape, such as lakes, mountains, rocks or trees. Trees, represented highly in this show, are strictly protected and act as a link between people and the spirit world. They can serve as shelter, places of worship and meeting points around which to discuss community matters.

Temesgen received an MFA from Tromsø Academy of Contemporary Art, University of Tromsø, Norway in 2015, and a BFA with high distinction in Fine Art (Painting) from Addis Ababa University in 2010. He has profiled highly in the Ethiopian art scene, participating in exhibitions, workshops, residencies, festivals and conferences, both locally and internationally.

Speaking to Robel during the private viewing, I found his explanation and inspiration for producing this series of pieces as fascinating as the art itself. The show runs from January 7th to February 6th at Tiwani so if you are in London over the next month why not pop by?

On Friday 8 January, 7pm Robel Temesgen will be in conversation with Hans Ulrich Obrist at the Gallery. For further info please visit http://www.tiwani.co.uk/Home/Exhibitions