Natalia Goncharova

This was what I call “an unexpected item in bagging area”. The same day I visited the Tate Modern to see the exhibition “Magic Realism” (see previous post), my friend Andonis called me offering to give a good use of his membership and invited me to see this one. Being a complete stranger to Goncharova’s work, I accepted and, to be honest, I wouldn’t expected to enjoy it as much as I did. Quoting the museum’s leaflet, Goncharova was a Russian painter, print-maker, illustrator and fashion designer born in 1881.

Being part of an aristocratic family, she didn´t feel comfortable with the standards and rules of high society, and preferred to stick to her artistic side. Her art kept evolving constantly, from a very naïve approach to a cubist-modernist-futuristic style, which I particularly enjoyed. She was also pretty talented designing theatre costumes and clothes, however most of her graphic work was (in my humble opinion) her best legacy. My favourite piece in all the exhibition was her “Cyclist”, simply gorgeous.

Magic Realism at Tate Modern

Perfect plan for a Friday evening. When everyone goes to the pub after work (don’t worry, I’m actually having a little drink at home tonight) I decided to visit Tate Modern to see this exhibition, which I’ve postponing forever.

I was really curious about it and it didn’t disappoint. With VERY few exceptions, the vast majority of the pieces displayed is fantastic.

The acrobat Schulz V)
Albert Birkle

The exhibition is about German art during the Weimar Republic (between both wars), including a variety of works in oil, tempera, mixed media, ink, etching and drypoint.

Lady with Red Scarf
Rudolf Schlichter

It starts with a series of etching/drypoint works by Otto Dix, but soon we access the next rooms with spectacular portraits and urban landscapes. in a variety of styles and something that got my attention, loads of colour, considering the dark period during which these pieces were created. This one, “Magdalen with Pearls in her hair” by Lovis Corinth was one of the exceptions in the exhibition; where most of the pieces were extremely colourful, blended and “flat”, this one shows wild impasto strokes, pale tones and volume. To be appreciated from certain distance.

But what I really, really enjoyed were all the paintings by Albert Birkle, like these two, “The Hermit” and “Crucifixion”. Definitely my favourite ones, full of colour and darkness at the same time,.

Funnily enough, being an atheist the part of the exhibition that I paid the most attention to was the section dedicated to Faith. But these two in particular just made me fall in love.

In general, a magnificent free exhibition, I’m happy I was in time for seeing it.

Royal Society of British Artists Annual Exhibition at Mall Galleries

No, I didn’t exhibit anything there (actually, I’m not even British!… if that even matters). Last Sunday, using bad weather in my favour, I decided to visit Mall Galleries to see this exhibition. I had seen some stuff on Facebook and was quite curious.

First of all, I must admit I’m a complete ignorant about art societies and how they work… are they closed groups of artist friends? Do they pay anything to someone, like a leader of the pack or something? Or are they just mafias? Being away from any scene, this is a complete mistery to me…

In general I enjoyed it, sculptures really caught my eye, and even more, I think the best part of the exhibition was most of the watercolours displayed. I must mention beautiful works by Chris Myers, Arthur Lockwood, Martha Zmpounou… Some oils were really good, apart from the typical landscapes and flower pots there were great portraits and more contemporary pieces. And the amazing etching “Puppet Master” by Martin Langford, absolutely beautiful.

The thing is, I still don’t know how art societies work , probably I will never know but it’s not that it won’t let me sleep. Anyway, this exhibition was quite cool. There are some pieces I didn’t really like but I’ll stick to the positive side, which was larger, brighter and beautifuler.

(By the way, this large -and beautiful- tryptic is by Alexander Fox-Robinson).

The Beariety Show

Last month I was commissioned by my friend Pete Humes for creating the logo for his new project, a podcast titled “The Beariety Show”, about general entertainment, gossip and things happening in the gay bear scene. Pete has patiently modelled for me several times and he’s one of my closest friends so I was happy to work with him and his partner in crime Matt. You can listen to the podcast on Spotify and similars, or visit their website The Beariety Show

Blue – A Sensorial Performance

24-JUN-2019 THE SWISS CHURCH (COVENT GARDEN)

This is the first time ever that I queue to get in a church. But there was a good reason for that. The Swiss Church in London was hosting “Blue – A Sensorial Performance”, a one-night-only event organised by Angela Tursi and Marina Chichi.

I’ve been friends with Marina for the last few years and I know she’s a kickass photographer, so whatever she does, I’m in. But this review is totally unbiased (hard to believe coming from me, I know). 
“Blue” is a hypnotic show that takes us to other realms depicted in Marina’s pictures, rocked by Angela’s gracious notes at the piano. Izabela Karamon accompanied them, reciting some verses inspired by Kandinski’s theories, synesthesia, connections between colour, sky, music, sea and soul.

The three of them, muses dressed in blue, delivered a magnificent show, ethereal, sometimes dramatic, sometimes delicate, but consistently feminine, passionate and inspiring. 
There were some minor issues (mostly related to the Swiss Church’s natural lighting) but, despite of that, I honestly hope there will be more chances to see “Blue”, for it’s an absolutely magical experience. 

Winsor & Newton Pigment Markers

(Chronicle of a death foretold?) 

I discovered Winsor & Newton Pigment Markers not even a year ago, a bit by accident, watching some videos on Youtube. Actually, I knew they existed, I remember being offered them at an art supplies store in London, however I didn’t like their performance, mostly due to that streakiness I have been against to for so long. But after watching these videos, some features caught my attention. First of all, lightfastness. This is the one aspect I pay the most attention to, as most of my customers know. Then, I saw these youtubers doing impressive things with the pigment markers, much different from what I saw at the shop a couple of years ago. “What? You can blend them? Painterly effect? Lightfast?” The die was cast. The same day, I found a very good deal for a 36-marker set and a small A5 Pigment Marker Paper pad, so I ordered it and, as soon as I received it, started playing non-stop… I LOVED THEM.

My first experiment was painting some leaves from my garden (which was instantly sold, that must be a sign, I thought). I really enjoyed how I could blend colours just with the tip of my fingers, without any solvents or other tools. Being used to working with colour pencils, this was definitely a breakthrough. What could take weeks to complete with colour pencils now could be finished in just a couple of days. The main issue was the extreme thinness of the special paper. But they worked, anyway.  

During the following weeks I kept practising and making some other pieces, “Big Bang”, “Goliath’s mercy”, “Icarus prisoner”, “Poseidon’s wrath”… I also noticed that, apart from the already mentioned paper thinness, the nibs on these markers are quite delicate. Also, I found that the design of the caps contribute to a premature wear of the nibs. But even so, pigment markers were still great fun (and they became basically my main tool). 

Just out of curiosity, I contacted Winsor & Newton to check whether they produced pigment marker paper larger than the A3 pads I found online. They don’t. But my next challenge was working on a larger piece using these markers.  

For the experiment, I used Fabriano Accademia 200 gsm paper coated with W&N Galleria gesso, I used this combination for working with mixed media in the past and it worked beautifully. In this case it didn’t. My first attempt to do my “Rise of Prometheus” was on a large A1ish piece, initially the background went well, even the eagle, however I noticed that the pigment markers sort of messed with the gesso at the end, or at least that was my impression, for the pigment was eventually becoming unworkable. This was more obvious on the main character’s belly, which due to this issue with the pigments looked like having a skin condition.  

I must also note that, during all this process, a couple of nibs for the blender markers were completely gone.  

Mission aborted, then. I went back to my A3 pad and repeated the whole piece (but smaller). Even though completing it was quite fast, I wasn’t really happy with the experience, especially with the nibs wearing that much, due to the gessoed paper but also to the design of the caps. 

So this is a love/hate story with pigment markers, they’re still enjoyable as long as you use the proper paper, which is something we should tell all shops AND youtubers off about, for most of the reviews and showcases have been done on normal/printer paper, which definitely limits the possibilities of these markers.  

In my case, I will keep using my pigment markers for sure, but only while my stash lasts. Also, I have the impression that Winsor & Newton are not really interested on continuing the production of this product which, even though it’s a very clever concept, has been terribly marketed and designed. I’ve seen quite a few good deals and sales on these markers, so it’s maybe a good opportunity to give them a try, even if their presence in the market is not guaranteed… At the end of the day, it’s all about having fun with your art supplies!.