Art gallery visit – George Shaw at the National Gallery and Maggi Hambling at the British museum

George Shaw at the National Gallery

I was eager to see George Shaws work, knowing he has painted for many years with Humbrol enamel, that I enjoyed dabbling with in Part 2!

I had come across his work when he was short listed for the 2011 Turner prize, with his derelict bare paintings of his old Coventry housing estate. They had no figures in them, but as he explains in the exhibition film, the people echo in his paintings like ghosts.

These paintings are lit brightly in a dark room, which makes the glossy enamel shine. In the film, he explains how he likes making the utilitarian Humbrol paint into something completely different and that he chose putting odd things in woods feeling like the ‘remains of teenagers’.

His detailed drawings take inspiration from the famous paintings in the National Gallery, such as this Constable.

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John Constable. 1833-6. Cenotaph to the memory of Sir Joshua Reynolds

which I went to visit afterwards. I can see how this scene does have a ghost of the artist it commemorates. Certainly George has put a contemporary twist to his own work!

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George Shaw. Mocht’ ich zurucke wieder wanken 2015-16

The detail he has got with his enamel is amazing. The magazine pages on the floor are quite realistic in their detail! He then blends the backgrounds a little so they look more distant and out of focus. From the film showing him working, it looks like he paints with quite thinned glazes to achieve this effect and that it must take a long time for these layers to dry.

I was inspired to buy the exhibition book, and will enjoy reading some more insight into this artist. I like his choice of compositions – an old mattress int he wood, an old tent, spray painted graffiti. I did get that feeling of echoes of humans in there.

Maggi Hambling at the British museum

I had watched the 1990 film of this artist on BBC iplayer the night before, and was fascinated by her quick expressive way of drawing. Her marks sort of build up into a form out of some chaos. She explains how she can go days with nothing going right until a drawing hits the mark.

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Maggi Hambling. Stephen falling asleep. 1993

This series shows the variety of marks she uses. I can see in places she has wet the paper first to let them bleed out. I realise from looking a this that the marks I used for my self portraits in exercise 3.1 are too similar and boring!

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Maggi Hambling – Beryl reclining 1988

This monotype seemed very relevant with my recent attempts at printing. Staring at his I couldn’t work out how she’d done it, until I read on another print that she uses a method similar to Degas of reductive printing. So the ink is rolled onto a plate and removed with fingers, a rag, sticks and then printed. Looking again, I could see this and this is a method I’m determined to try for myself. It would be nice to have a change from oil paint printing, but I’m thinking this will be even faster than the oil paint!

This was a great little exhibition, and I’ve ordered a book of her work, so that I can look into it in more detail.

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