Anonymous, 1840

April 20 – May 7, 2012
Ever since I put your picture in a frame

Curated by Merlin James.
Part of the Glasgow International Festival of Visual Art

Featuring paintings by a range of contemporary artists of different generations, alongside artists from different eras, spanning back through the 20th century, the exhibition in part reflects on how contemporary art becomes the art of the past, while past art remains present, though changed.Juxtaposing artists of different backgrounds and different degrees of fame and fashionability, or anonymity and neglect, a single work by each artist builds to a kind of anti-manifesto; an exploratory and partial working definition of painting as an art form. Works are chosen for their individual qualities rather than their usefulness to curatorial thesis, but a notion of genre emerges as central, many of the works playing within recognised painting conventions and sub-categories, and asking to what extent all art – even all human activity and experience – is genre-defined and ‘framed’.front gallery

List of works:
Anon , Sketch of a farm building, oil on unstretched linen, 1840
James Castle (1899-1977), House, drawing on paper, date unknown
Serge Charchoune (1888-1975), Impressionisme ornamentale, oil on canvas, 1930
André Derain (1880-1954), Study for a portrait, oil on canvas, 1936
David Schutter, Untitled (After GSMB vRU x8), oil on canvas, 2006-7
Joe Fyfe, Untitled, gesso on canvas, 1999
Rodney Harder, Turquoise/ochre no.2, acrylic on canvas, 2010
Clive Hodgson, Untitled, oil on canvas, 2011
Louise Hopkins, Brown enclosure, acrylic, ink and correction fluid on magazine page, 2008 Paul Housley, Sleepwalker, oil on card, 2012
James Hyde, Untitled, pigment on gesso on panel, c.2000
James Dickson Innes (1887-1914), Arenig, oil on board, c1913
Alex Katz, Ada, oil on board, 1997
Stephen McKenna, Lesser Antilles bullfinches, oil on canvas, 2011
James Pryde (1866-1946), Study for ‘The Slum’, oil on board, c.1916
Julie Roberts, Young apprentice (study), oil on linen, 2007
Walter Sickert (1860-1942), Gwen Ffrangson-Davies as Elizabeth Barrett Browning, oil on canvas, c.1935
Tony Swain, Untitled, acrylic on newspaper, 2012
Joel Tomlin, Elk, oil on canvas, c.1996
Richard Walker, Moth, oil on board, 2005
Alfred Wallis (1855-1942), Fishermens’ cottages, pencil and paint on paper, date unknown.




Gallery notes:

In Tom Waits’s song, framing means cherishing, loving. After pure experience (The sun comes up, blue and gold) there’s a formalising, a sense of announcing intentions (I come calling in my Sunday best). Putting something or someone in a frame – as on a pedestal – brings dangers of constriction, adoring condescension; but the hope is for lasting devotion (I love you baby, and I always will). Three verses, each of one line repeated three times followed by the refrain. Conventional chord progression and resolution. Pretty much the minimum required to be a song. Utterly generic in structure and sentiment – apparently.

The works in this exhibition are small, often meagre of means and materials. Each does enough to become a picture. The world does not need more paintings as such, any more than it needs more songs; so new ones must justify their existence. But that need not be in grandiose terms – perhaps best not. The individuality and specificity of each one matters, as much as a new implicit proposition about life, and about art – the art form ‘painting’.

Notes on the artists:
Julie Roberts (b. Flint, Wales 1963) studied at St Martins School of Art London and Glasgow School of Art. She has had recent survey exhibitions at the Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh and the Kunsthallen Brandts. Her work frequently draws on archival photography.

Alfred Wallis (b. Cornwall, England 1855) was a self-taught artist and ex-fisherman. He was ‘discovered’ in the 1920s by Christopher Wood and Ben Nicholson, and became an important example to a circle of British modernists.

Rodney Harder (b. Nebraska, USA 1952) graduated from California State University (MBA) in 1975. He lives in New York. He has a serious interest in the work of self taught artists, many of whom he included in the recent show ‘Fresh Flowers’ at Boston University.

James Hyde (b. New York, USA 1957) lives in Brooklyn. Recent solo exhibitions have been at the San Diego Museum of Art, Sikkema Jenkins & Co. New York and Museo Cantonale d’Arte, Lugano. His work tests the definition of painting, often incorporating photography and three dimensions.

André Derain (b. Chatou, France 1880) was a pioneer of Fauvism and Cubism, and influential in his reinvestigation of painting traditions from the 1920s onwards.

Paul Housley (b. Manchester, England 1964) lives in London. Recent exhibitions have been at Poppy Sebire Gallery London and Zieher-Smith Inc. New York. His work has often depicted figurines, toys, ornaments, or imagery from photographs.

Clive Hodgson (b. Nottingham, England 1953) studied at the Slade school in the 1970s and has alternated figuration with abstraction through his career. A recent solo show was at Terrace, London. He will have a solo exhibition at 42 Carlton Place this autumn.

Joe Fyfe (b. New York, USA 1952) lives in Brooklyn. He curated Le Tableau at Cheim and Read New York in 2010, placing contemporary with mid 20th-century abstraction. Forthcoming solo exhibition: White Columns, New York.

James Dickson Innes (b. Llanelli, Wales 1887), created a unique landscape style, painting in France and Wales in the decade up to World War One. A retrospective and monograph are forthcoming in 2014.

Tony Swain (b. N. Ireland 1967), lives in Glasgow. After earlier experiments in figurative and still life painting, he has developed a distinctive practice using paint on newspaper. A solo show runs currently at Fruitmarket, Edinburgh.

Joel Tomlin (b Sheffield, England 1969), studied at Chelsea College of Art and the University of Houston, Texas. Recent solo and group shows have been at Max Wigram London and Chapter Cardiff. His art draws strongly on genre, and often suggests narrative. He works is the UK and Germany.

Anonymous (1840). The genre of the landscape oil sketch was recognised by 20th century scholars like John and Charlotte Gere, and seen as key to the evolution of modern painting. An early treatise by the outdoor sketcher Valenciennes suggests leaving of foreground areas unfinished, as in this example.

Louise Hopkins (b. Hertfordshire, England 1965) lives in Glasgow. She had a major survey show at Fruitmarket Edinburgh in 2005. Becoming known for her paintings on decorative furnishing fabric, she has moved on to work over maps, consumer catalogue pages and other found paper surfaces.

Serge Charchoune (b. Buguruslan, Russia 1888) was associated with both Dada and Purism up to the 1920s. He worked across abstraction (often monochrome) and various kinds of figuration. A small survey exhibition, curated by Merlin James, is forthcoming at the Talbot Rice Gallery, Edinburgh and the Smart Museum of Art, Chicago.

Stephen McKenna (b. London, England 1939) has worked in many locations including Italy, Germany and Spain. He now lives in Ireland. He curated the landmark exhibition ‘The Pursuit of Painting’ at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in 1996.

James Pryde (b. Edinburgh, Scotland 1866) was a unique figure in modern British art. Working mostly in London, he created the acclaimed Beggarstaff graphics in the 1890s with William Nicholson, then became known for proto-surreal paintings of derelict buildings and haunted interiors.

David Schutter (b. Pennsylvania, USA 1974) makes paintings in response to close scrutiny of works by earlier artists. His sources have included Constable, Chardin, and (as in the piece here) Ruisdael. He is based in Chicago.

James Castle (b. Idaho, USA 1899) was a self taught artist. He was deaf from birth, and devoted his time to making images of his home farmstead from found materials. He also created figures, small sewn and collaged constructions and books. He is now regarded as a one of America’s major ‘outsider’ artists.

Richard Walker (b. Cumbernauld, Scotland 1955) studied at Glasgow School of Art. He exhibited alongside Louise Hopkins and others in the 1995 ‘Persistence of Painting’ exhibition at CCA Glasgow. A solo exhibition at Alexandre Gallery, New York, in 2003 followed a residency at the Albers Foundation in Connecticut. He will have another solo show at Alexandre this year.

Alex Katz (b. Queens, New York 1927) makes observational oil studies like the present example, for large-scale canvases in broader, more simplified planes. Of the generation of Johns, Warhol and the 60s minimalists, he has persisted with observation-based figuration and become one of the most major figures in contemporary art.

Walter Richard Sickert (b. Munich, Germany 1860) is a key figure in modern British painting. Closely connected to the art of Degas and others in France, he became notorious for his Camden Town murder paintings in the first decade of the twentieth century. He frequently worked from photographs, most evidently in his later paintings.