A 6 hour round trip on a sprinter train was well worth this visit. The biennial painting prize is exhibited at the Walker Art Gallery, which hosts an impressive collection by itself.
This immediately caught my eye. It is the macabre kind if subject I’m getting drawn to myself these days. As a group we stood round discussing what era it might me from. The moustaches suggested South America, but the velvet coats and lace collars were more 19th century. The unclaimed was an intriguing title and gave some clue as to the subject.
I liked the good drawing, but loose painting technique, thin dripping paint, thick in places. Some faces had detail and some had none at all, which lets my imagination in. The colour palette binds it together, with ochres, greens and dark red repeated throughout.
I was in a minority liking it in the group. The subject was too grim for most. It is actually dead bodies from a Paris commune uprising. It was painted from a photograph of arranged coffins. I wonder if the government did that to publicise consequences to the public.
Its a painting that leaves me looking and wondering, about the lives of the people and what they went through. The artist comments that there is a sense of emptiness. of people fading from the world, and I can really connect with that. I do feel this is where my personal voice is taking me. It reminds me of the Laura Lancaster work at the Walsall gallery.
Here is another painting I was in the minority of liking! We wondered if I liked it because it sparks a memory of me working in the labour ward as a doctor in the past. Certainly a different exerience to this scene. I like the title – it implies a mecahnistic process of bodies giving birth in rows like a factory. The style if naive – even the ellipse on the pot looks deliberately drawn wrong it’s that bad! A sinister looking part head and arm waits down one end for the baby. The babies eyes look a bit demonic to me.
The paint is flat in places, reminding me of Hockney.
Under the knee flexures there is white negative space, which doesn’t flow with the floor colour which our brains tell us should be there. It all looks basic – flat tables, tiled walls. I don’t know what that pot and stick are? Why is the abdomen of one woman painted red and the other not? Again, a lot of questions not answered. The catalogue couldn’t answer them either, in the way the first painting made sense after reading the artist’s thoughts.
Here, the strange perspective of a large hand caught my eye. It draws me in to thinking what could this be about? Its the statue of an assassinated politician, and it resonates with memories of toppled statues after people revolutions. I like this because it makes me find out more about the subject, like the Parisian communards above. The painting style appeals to me – the marks are bold and direct.This painting is quite small compared to the previous ones- only 52cm squared. I liked the thick paint and how the grey isn’t really mixed that well. The figure looks a bit Elvis like to me. I like John Virtue paintings, and researching this artist, I see he has painted a John Virtue painting on the wall in this work. Its quite an ‘in joke’. It looks a casual style of painting, but I imagine its quite hard to get form with such thick paint. It reminds me of Frank Auerbach’s style. His paint can be so thick the portraits look 3D!
Finally, the group visited the tutor Donol Moloney’s exhibition at the Liverpool Gallery ‘a small view’. This gave us a real chance to listen and question him about his work.
His ‘Cave Painting’ was also exhibited in the John Moores painting prize. The work above is ‘new works on paper’. They are intricate and the sources are taken from internet images, sculptured plasticine and formed in a collage like way. He uses water based inks and acrylics to slowly build up the collection, which can take up to a year. In the first painting for instance, there are unexpected candle flames, jewels, amongst the weeds, flowers and caterpillars. His paintings take some looking in to and are well worth the effort. He explained how he has bits of modelling clay that he twists into shapes and draws. A great deal of patience is needed for this technique and this visit was a great end to another study visit.