It is 2018. The new year is here, but for this post, I want to reflect and highlight the best moments of 2017 (for me anyway).
With Year 2 coming to an end, I needed to think about what my next body of work would be. I experimented and played around with various ideas, including a response to the latest piece of artwork from artist Sir Peter Blake, and paintings on food packaging.
Between the two, I am most proud of my response to Peter Blake’s large-scale collage. It is very similar to his Beatles cover, which features a large group of people standing together in a group shot.
Sgt Pepper (1966)
Granted, my collage isn’t entirely seamless, but it is still a strong recreation of the tone and atmosphere of the beatles cover.
I wanted to make another Frank Auerbach style painting, only the end result wasn’t what I had initially aimed for.
I didn’t mind though, as it looks amazing.
In-fact, it looks similar to the paintings of Jean Michel Basquiat.
I had other plans for my artwork going forward, but I also had to prepare for the upcoming trip to Amsterdam, and an essay about three contemporary artists and the similarities between their paintings. I had to compare the styles of each painter, and see how one relates to the other.
I even went over my comic book mural, adding extra details to some of the paintings.
In addition to all of this, I had to plan my next group exhibition, which was an intervention in a well-known public area.
Suffice it to say, the stress was beginning to grow.
I had a breakdown, which was not fun. Fortunately, I pulled myself together and continued my work as best as could.
Eventually, I left for my second trip to Amsterdam. I stayed in the same hostel from my first trip, and I visited many of the same art galleries, such as the Stedelijk gallery. The art on display was truly magnificent, and gave me loads of new ideas for my paintings. Out of the paintings I saw, the colour fields of Kenneth Noland and Morris Louis caught my eyes, and held my interest. They would prove to be very influential for my next series of paintings.
Once I got back, I continued to work on my paintings and work on the interactive exhibition with my group. I made a suggestion about a continuous line drawing on a long roll of paper. The idea was to invite others to draw a line and let others continue the drawing. The group liked my suggestion, and we would later refine it over the next couple of weeks. I even suggested the Pitt Rivers museum as our venue, as it is a well-known public establishment in Oxford.
My paintings were progressing well, but I had trouble focusing on one painting to work on. I made colour field paintings, similar to the ones I saw in Amsterdam, and most of them looked great (especially when combined together).
Near the end of February, I attended my first private viewing with my friend, Joslyn. It was in London, and the artist, Henry Hudson, was really innovative with his art. Instead of paint, he melted pieces of plasticine and molded it into exotic environments. It looked so good, Jos bought me some plasticine to use for my art (shamefully, I haven’t even open it yet, but I hope to use it in the new year, as I don’t want it to go to waste).
I had another critique of my work, and had to critique the work of three students. For my critique, I chose colour field paintings, based on the ones I saw in Amsterdam. I would continue to experiment with colour fields for the reminder of year 2.
I also watched Lego Batman, which was fun, but not as good as the Lego movie.
I went to two more private viewings with Joslyn, and had to take notes on what I saw. I also had to try to talk to the artists, and ask them questions about their work. I was a bit nervous, but I managed to have a nice talk with each artist. The private views were fun, and the artwork displayed at each one was different and distinct in their own way. Joslyn was a great help, and I miss going to London with her, as that was the best part of attending these events.
Another highlight was my exhibition in London (I would be going to London many times this year). It was a private viewing, so I had to install my painting before the visitors came. The painting I installed was two colour field paintings of red-piercing eyes. The eyes were based on those from an alien, who appeared in a french animated film, The Fantastic Planet. The work I put into those paintings was long and exhaustive, but it was worth it.
I don’t know how well-received my painting was, but I imagine that loads of people were impressed. The primary reason I didn’t go was because of recent terror attacks in london, and the University advised everyone to stay at the University. It was a wise move.
Eventually, my exhibition group got permission to set up our intervention at the Pitt Rivers museum, but with some alterations. We couldn’t use paint or charcoal (shame because I brought a bag of it), and we had to finish by two.
For our intervention, we invited members of the public to draw anything that they saw in the museum on a large role of cartridge paper. It was a fun experience for everyone.
The last highlight of the month was a night of boxing in London. Along with my Dad, we went to the York hall (where we saw Rev pro wrestling in 2016) and watched several boxing matches, including one that featured one of my boxing instructors. It was a fun night, though I couldn’t stand the cold.
Rest of the month was talking (more of that until december), and writing.
Spent most of April writing my essay on the three artists (Frank Auerbach, Peter Howson and David Hockney). It was very frustrating, but in the end, I FINALLY managed to finish it. I also continued to paint eyes in my studio space. During the Easter break, I tried looking for some part-time work, but nothing came up.
Once I got back to the studio, I had to make a start on my final painting for Year 2. While thinking about my final painting, I had to attend meetings and artist talks. This whole year has been nothing but talks.
Near the end of April, I finished my final paintings for the year, and compiled all of my year 2 work.
Final month as a year 2 student. I had to clear out my studio space, and had to think about year 3, and what challenges I will face. The projects will be more frequent, the deadlines will be more critical and the work overall will be harder. I also had to help the third year students set up their exhibition spaces for their upcoming show, which involved painting the walls and sweeping the floors. It was a taste of what I will experience once I become a year 3 student in September. I also had to make a start on my dissertation (which I would change later on).
I finally finished my final paintings for year 2.
I’ve come a long way since year 1, and the work I have produced for year 2 reflects my growth as an artist. By the time I had finished year 2, I was ready for a good, long rest.
Enter Summer holidays.
For the summer, I had to find part-time volunteer work at a local art gallery. Aside from that, I just relaxed, occasionally doing some painting in my sketchbook to keep myself busy until year 3 started. I went to the Pitt Rivers with my best friend Max, and did some shopping in Banbury.
I started drawing objects around the house, as I wanted to use a different medium. I mostly drew what I saw in front of me, such as my Mum’s wooden statues.
I also started volunteer work at the Modern Art Oxford gallery. I had to go in every Wednesday, and work from 12 to 5.PM. I mostly just sat down and looked after the artwork. I had to tell people not to step over the line and touch the work more often than not, and it got old rather quickly. I also offered maps to some of the visitors and I spoke to two people about the art on display. It was a boring for the most part, but I really enjoyed it.
First, I went to the fire station gallery in Oxford, and saw a live performance, which was utterly bizarre, but very enjoyable. A few weeks later, my dad and I went to London to see the Art of the Brick, an exhibition of Lego sculptures of DC comics superheroes and villains.
The artist, Nathan Sawaya, who is a huge fan of Lego, and turned this passion into art. Out of everything I did during the summer, this was one of the best.
The final highlight of the summer, before I went back to UCA, was the Soul of the Nation exhibition at the Tate modern. The exhibition was a celebration of black artists, and the impact their work has had on the art world. It was a fascinating exhibition, and the artwork on display was captivating. Paintings, sculptures, photography and more, the work was diverse and covered many relevant themes, such as racism and war.
Barkley Hendricks Icon for my Man Superman (Superman never saved any Black People-Bobby Seale) 1969
It was amazing seeing so many black artists get the recognition they deserve, and I hope to do research on some of these artists more thoroughly in the future.
I made more paintings, and finished my volunteer work at the Modern Art Oxford. I hope to ask them for full-time employment after I graduate from university.
Back to University and the start of my final year. Right off the bat, I got loads of work shoved in front of me. Before year three is finished, I have to apply for at least 20 exhibitions each month, pick a subject for my dissertation and write 8,000 words for it, make arrangements to do an artist talk, where I have to talk to young art students about my experience at UCA (It has been hell), write-up an 18-month plan about what I intend to do after I leave UCA and write a project proposal for my studio work and a degree show plan and create a draft for my artist website. And all this was just in September.
For my studio practice, I started a new series called dot drawings, where I had to drawing cartoon characters, but with dots. I was inspired by the populous paintings of Craig Alan, and how he recreates someone’s face with small paintings of crowds of people. For the most part, I used marker pens. The reason I chose fineliner pens was because of the large-scale drawings O Aleksandra Mir, which I saw while volunteering at the Modern Art.
I had to make a start on my dissertation, but my initial idea for it was too stressful for me. It was about the Seven Deadly Sins and their influence of contemporary art and culture. The research I would have had to do for each sin would have been too much for me, so I chose another topic that is relevant to me; Escapism. My dissertation will focus on the concept of escapism, art and media that reference it and how it affects culture and fine art.
I wanted to present my dot drawings as they are, but Kate and Paul suggested that I project them onto a wall as a slideshow. I was reluctant, but I warmed up to the idea and hired a projector. After weeks of refining my idea, I presented my slideshow to my class for the critique, and they were all impressed by my hard work. They also suggested that I draw on my projections next time, similar to drawing on tracing paper. This is a good idea, and it is something that I am considering for the future.
Rest of October was working on my dissertation and my website, both of which drove me mad. However, there were great moments from October.
One of the exhibition opportunities I applied for, The Binary Graffiti Club, responded to my application and invited me to take part in their art project. The project aimed to focus on society in London, and how the loss of identity and the idea of being spied on by the government. I went to the venue in London, met the artist who organised the project, Stanza, and offered me a black hoodie with binary numbers on it. Together, we had to sing several songs in binary codes (11,00,0000,11,0), while being filmed. Singing in binary was harder than I thought, but the experience was great and I really enjoyed myself.
Binary Graffiti Club (2017) Stanza
To end the month, I saw Satoshi Kon’s Perfect Blue with my anime club on Halloween night. The perfect way to end October.
In addition to working on my website and dissertation, I also made some artwork for any future art exhibitions I hope to apply for in the future.
Another exhibition, Accidental marks, contacted me and told me that the pictures of accidental marks that I made while painting were accepted and that they would display them in their online exhibition on the Cultivate gallery website. The exhibition focuses on the marks left over after an artist is finished working, such as paint marks on tables, walls, clothes and dried pieces of paint.
The highlight of the month; going to the Folkestone Triennial. We had to walk along the shores of Folkestone, and saw great art from artists around the world. The artists were asked to make art that relates to certain areas of Folkestone, and some of the art from previous events were still there. If only the weather wasn’t terrible, it would have been the perfect trip.
Richard Woods Holiday Home (2017)
Later on, I went to London to attend the private viewing of the Binary Graffiti club. Getting to the venue was a nightmare, but it was worth it. Before I left, Stanza gave me some great advice; do what I want to do. It is my art, and I can take in any direction that I want. This inspired me to push forward with my paintings, which led me to returning to my best subject; food.
My earlier food paintings were great, so I decided to revisit and expand on them for my final studio practice.
Had more critiques, and had to play curator, and pick 20 pieces of art.
The last highlight of the month was Hyper Japan. It is an event where people who admire and love Japanese culture get together and celebrate the culture of the country. I ate in a maid cafe, watched a kendo demonstration, saw samurai swords, bought a DVD and watched a live musical performance. I hope to go to Japan this year, and Hyper Japan was a sample of what I might experience if I go.
With Christmas coming up, I had to work extra hard to finish every on time. I handed in my proposals, finished my website and hanged three of my food paintings in the hall wall outside the studio. I also had a chat with Steve Gordon, one of the career advisors at the University, and he gave me some great advice on how to tailor my CV for a specific job and where to find a studio.
I also went to my final boxing session. I enjoyed boxing at first, but I need to save my money for Japan, and paying for boxing is pretty expensive.
I had my last anime viewing with my anime club, where we watched Tokyo Godfathers, also by Kon (as of 2017, I have watched every anime by Kon, including Paranoia Agent Millennium Princess and Paprika).
2017 was a very stressful year, but it was also a rewarding and exciting one for me. I hope 2018 will be just as exciting.