Artists draw inspiration from the wonderfully bizarre to the cripplingly mundane. This week we have an eclectic mix; crummy old portraits, a beloved Irish poet and… dirty chlorine water? Julie Cockburn reinvents vintage photos with a modern twist, the Wellcome Collection explore the importance of graphic design and Jealous Gallery are putting on a whole exhibition dedicated to swimming pools. And, never seen before in the UK, Studio Voltaire exhibit a heartbreaking collection. You’ve got to hand it to the London art crew, you never know what’s coming next.
Julie Cockburn at Flowers Gallery
Cockburn describes her work as ‘collages’, but this really doesn’t do them justice. She begins by hunting for vintage 1940s-1970s photos of poised strangers, heading to junk shops and occasionally diving into skips. Then she builds upon these nostalgic black and white images with meticulous embroidery, requiring serious nimble handywork.
Cockburn’s intrusive textile blotches hide faces and interrupt our view of the sitter. She calls these her ‘interventions’, which challenge the idea of femininity and explores our personal connection to the handmade versus cheap mass production. This exhibition is a must-see; all about memory and a yearning to regain our old approach to photography, her work harkening back to before the #nofilter age.
Bartholomew Beal at The Fine Art Society
‘Literature always gives me an extra reason to paint and a good point to start at.’
I mean, that, and Beal loves painting pensive bearded men, so naturally for this exhibition he chose Seamus Heaney and his white wisps. Beal has been exhibiting since the ripe old age of 24, as the son of two English teachers he is known for translating canon literature (such as TS Eliot and Shakespeare) into stunning visual interpretations.
For this exhibition Beal represents various scenes from three Heaney poems, mainly showing wrinkly guys donning flat caps and crumpled shirts. Many of the figures seem to remain unfinished with maimed torsos and missing limbs, floating around in blocks of saturated colour. Often compared to Francis Bacon, Beal is one to watch and this collection shivers and jolts with energy.
Putti’s Pudding at Studio Voltaire
Dual Force of Creativity
Cookie Mueller was pretty damn cool; as an actress, writer, art critic, author, fashion connoisseur and Nan Goldin’s muse, she was the ultimate ’80s New York icon. In this exhibition Studio Voltaire showcase her ‘final project’ made in collaboration with her husband, artist Vittorio Scarpati, during their tragic battle with AIDS.
Whilst in hospital, Scarpati and Mueller put together ‘Putti’s Pudding’; a book made up of Mueller’s creative writing snippets accompanied by Scarpati’s drawings. These self-portraits marked a final attempt for the pair to take back control; they refused to be remembered by other’s work. Produced at a time when Scarpati had lost the ability to speak, his art was his only form of communication. As a UK first, this poignant exhibition of dual force is proof that having a creative outlet can soothe even in the darkest of times.
Swimming Pools at Jealous Gallery
We all know and love Hockney’s swimming pools, recognised as backdrops for tanned adonises in the ’60s soaking up the sun in LA. But since then, many artists have used these transient waters as their own symbol of summer thrills, sometimes with a threatening edge.
This new exhibition invited various artists, illustrators, photographers, street artists and printmakers from the UK and US to present their version of the faithful swimming pool. Our favourites include Graurab Thakali’s abstract waves, Tyler Spangler’s fluorescent ripples and Yigi Özden’s scummy tiles. Now that summer’s over, you may as well head along to this one and imagine you’re back on the poolside, because we can’t promise you’ll be sunbathing anytime soon.
Anna Jung Seo at The Stone Space
Intimate human encounters
We all love a nosy people-watch and this exhibition grants us a peek into various human relationships through paintings of everyday scenes. By observing daily encounters on her street, Anna Jung Seo gives us a glimpse into intimate and awkward moments between couples sharing whispers, huddling, colliding or embracing.
But our voyeuristic view is blocked by Jung Seo’s choice of frustratingly small-scale pieces, made up of lashings of paint that blur the images. Jung Seo is fascinated with the idea of distance and she definitely doesn’t let us get too close; the effect is maddening but totally intriguing.