Exhibitions

Personal Favorite: Egon Schiele, Exhibition London

I have always been a great fan of non-realistic portraits. I enjoy viewing non-realistic portraits because I personally believe that in that way, the artist lets his creativity shine, and in a way, the painting he creates expresses his thoughts and ideas about the person illustrated. Thus the artist does not depict a person realistically, but he paints his feelings, thoughts and beliefs.

I was very excited when I read that works of Egon Schiele, one of my favorite artists that focused more on portrait paintings, were exhibited in Courtauld Gallery in London. Born in Vienna, Egon Schiele was a leading avant-garde artist in the early 1900s, the years around the First World War. During his short but very productive life, Egon Schiele managed to create a great collection of portraits (including self portraits) that were consider to be provocative, controversial but most importantly, some of the most radical depictions of the human figure in the 20th century.

This is the first time that original works of Egon Schiele were exhibited as a single collection in the United Kingdom and I felt very special to be a part of that. The exhibition was small, and included a small collection of his drawings and watercolour works. I wish I could see some of his oil paintings that illustrate his unique technique and skill, but I was surprised by how much detail he successfully created using humble materials such as pencil, chalk and watercolours.

The exhibition was divided in two small rooms. The first room included his famous self-portraits where the second room was focusing more on his collection of female figures, his ‘nudes’.

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What I find extraordinary about Schiele is the way he planned, understood and then created his self-portraits. The artist used a number of different mirrors and techniques in order to observe the increasingly extreme poses he adopted. In a way, todays ‘selfies’ could be considered to be a modernised version of Schiele’s technique of looking at his bod and understanding his own anatomical structure. He was fascinated by the human figure and the different forms he could create with his own body as well as the angles and shapes that his figure could take. He sacrificed anatomical accuracy for the sake of his paintings; he distorted body figures by elongating the back of a figure, cropping the figures legs or arms, making their heads smaller or larger, based on the feeling he wanted to portray. In a way, he would treat the human figure as a blank canvas; he would choose to shape it based on the message he wanted to convey, his ideas and feelings and not on the traditional anatomical structure of the human form.
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The second room includes a small collection of his famous nudes. The portraits created are again non-realistic and the figures are distorted in the same way as his self-portraits. . The theme of his paintings though is not the distortion of the human figure, but the female sexuality and how that can be illustrated through a painting. For his portraits, Egon Schiele painted some of his family members; his wife but he also used random women as well as a lot of prostitutes. The images  exhibited were very bold and sexual. In his nude paintings, he draws in detail some of his models private body parts making his works raw, fleshy and unflinching. Some characterise his work as too disturbing and sometimes grotesque. Too erotic, too radical, too offensive, too controversial, but as the artist thought, sex is beautiful and the nude body is poetic.

Walking inside the exhibition space, I could not help but notice the way people moved inside the space, and viewed the art works presented. The nude paintings were the ones that people seemed to enjoy the most, and spent more time in front of. More specifically, people seemed to pay more attention to the most sexual and erotic paintings, the ones that showed the female genitals in detail. I wondered why was that? I tried to monitor their moves and understand them. I saw young girls moving close to the paintings, talking quietly and laughing with each other. I saw older people turning their heads from one side to the other, looking at each other and communicating through their eyes. Were they disturbed by the raw imagery, or were they simply intrigued? I could never know, but what is certain is that the raw nudity and sexuality is something that is always going to be disturbing, controversial and create conversations.
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I personally was impressed by Schiele’s astonishing technique and use of materials. The artist managed to use humble materials such as pencil, charcoal and watercolours and create such bold lines and figures. His use of colours gives his figures a fuller shape, balances his shading and makes the bodies come alive. I also enjoyed the fact that Schiele has no context in his drawings. He simply places his bodies inside his frame, with no justification for being there. He does not place the figures proportionately inside the frame, in most cases the figures ‘don’t fit’ inside the frame and different body parts (head, legs, arms) seem to be left out of the picture.

Going against the norm, distorting his figures, using grotesque bodies, provocative and sexual imagery are only a few things that Egon Schiele managed to do through his work. This unique way of perceiving and creating art is what draws me to Schiele’s work and what in my opinion makes him one of the most important and unique artists that ever existed.

Here is some information for the Exhibition:
Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House
Strand, London, WC2R 0RN
The exhibition will be available until the 18th of January, 2015
Daily 10am – 6mp (Last admission 5.30pm)
Tickets from £5 – £8.50 (Free for Friends)
http://www.courtauld.ac.uk/index.shtml

I would love to read your comments below!
Thank you for reading,

Elli

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Discovering the Greek Museum of Cycladic art in a 3 minute video

After completing my Universities exams, I returned to Greece to spend my summer vacation and I decided to look for an internship for a couple of months. I felt extremely lucky and excited when I finally  got an internship at my favourite museum in Athens, the Museum of Cycladic Art.

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The Museum of Cycladic Art  (MCA) is dedicated to the study and promotion of ancient cultures of the Aegean and Cyprus, with special emphasis on Cycladic Art of the 3rd millennium. Today in the galleries of the Museum, the visitor can approach three major subjects. The permanent collections of  Cycladic Art, Ancient Greek Art and Ancient Cypriot Art.

Besides the permanent collections, the Museums temporary exhibitions constitute one of the most fruitful activities, constantly renewing the museum’s interaction with the public. The numerous archaeological exhibitions are meant to introduce the public to important aspects of ancient Greek art as well as of other Mediterranean cultures, with loans from other Greek and foreign museums. Apart from archaeology, the temporary exhibitions of the museum frequently focus on modern and contemporary art, aiming to introduce the public to important 20th century artists and explore the links between ancient cultures and modern artistic creation.

The following video, is a great opportunity  to become familiar with the beauty of the Museum

Let me know your thoughts and feelings after watching the video and  If you find yourself in Athens, make sure you visit the Museum of Cycladic Art.

Important links for information and news

www.cycladic.gr
https://www.facebook.com/CycladicArtMuseum
http://instagram.com/cycladic_museum#
https://twitter.com/cycladic_museum

Exhibition Suggestions

Hello everyone,

My university’s second term has come to its end, and I will be going back to Greece to spent the easter holidays with my family and friends. The good news is that I will try and keep up with my blog, focusing on the many interesting art events currently happening in Athens. The bad news is that because I don’t know the exact date that I will be coming back to London,  I will probably have to miss some great art exhibitions happening here at the moment. As a result of that, I have selected my top three exhibitions that I really wanted to visit but did not have the chance. I am hoping to be able to visit them when I come back, but in case I don’t, here they are; make sure that you take a look , be inspired and if you decide to visit them, let me know what you thought!

Momentum, at the Barbican Centre (Images courtesy of Barbican Centre)
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“Momentum consists of twelve pendulums that activate light and sound as they swing, drawing attention to the Curve’s vast arc, inviting you to journey through the space guided by your heightened senses. Each pendulum has been meticulously designed and built using steel, aluminium, and custom electronics. The sound is individual to each pendulum, prepared and tuned to seamlessly resonate as they move within the Curve”. Momentum creates an unique environment that has its foundations in detailed research, sophisticated computer technology and mechanical expertise. Yet, the effect is to create a space that feels wondrously transformed, one which you are invited to experience and explore.” (information taken from: barbican.org.uk)

Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined at the Royal Academy of Arts

“Some of the most creative architectural minds from around the world have come to the RA, and we’ve set them a challenge: to give you a new perspective on architecture. ‘Sensing Spaces: Architecture Reimagined’ sees our Main Galleries transformed by a series of large scale installations. As you respond to different structures, textures, lighting, scents and colours, we invite you to consider some of the big questions about the nature of architecture. How do spaces make us feel? What does architecture do for our lives?” (royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/4)

Martin Creed ‘Whats the point of it”  Hayward Gallery (Images courtesy of Hayward Gallery)
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A survey of Martin Creed’s playful, thought-provoking art.Over the past two and a half decades British artist Martin Creed has pursued an extraordinary path by confounding the traditional categories of art.Winner of the 2001 Turner Prize, Creed is recognised around the world for his minimalistic approach that strips away the unnecessary, but preserves an abundance of wit, humour and surprise.Crossing all artistic media and including music, his art transforms everyday materials and actions into surprising meditations on existence and the invisible structures that shape our lives. This exhibition includes work containing nudity, bodily functions and some adult content and will be the first major survey of Martin Creed’s work, spanning its most minimal moments and extravagant room-sized installations.”
(Information from: southbankcentre.co.uk)

I really hope that this post will motivate you to go and visit these three wonderful exhibitions. If you do, please comment below and tell me what you thought of them, I would really appreciate it.

Thanks for reading,
Elli

Natural History Museum Red-Zone, Boring Zone?

One of the things I enjoy when having some free time, is visiting art exhibitions, galleries and museums. But this weekend, as I was reading Time Out magazine looking for a new exhibition to visit, I realised, that there is something about the word ‘museum’ that in a way made me ignore the specific event and continue with the rest of the arts-list. Do you know what I mean? As I started thinking about it, I believe that this occurred because of two reasons. Firstly Museums have varying aims, ranging from serving researchers and specialists to serving the general public. Moreover, they usually exhibit a collection of scientific, cultural or historic objects, rather than art pieces. And that brings me to my second point. As children, we all had been to a number of museum visits with our school, where we had to go around museums pretending to be interested where in fact we were all really bored and only waited for the time to pass so we could go home.

Because of that realisation, I decided to visit the Natural History Museum. It was not the first time thought. I have been to the one in New York and the one in London, but I was too young to remember them. So, I decided that it was a good opportunity to go again, and I am ver glad I did!

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Where should I start from? Probably the first thing I noticed. The amazing architecture of the museum. It is hard to pass by the Natural History Museum and not be amazed by it. Inside and out the building is simply wonderful. From the outside, the detail in form and colour is noticeable. The combination of geometric and round shapes along with a combination of red, blue and brown is what in my opinion creates this softness and makes the museums look traditional. The entrance, simply makes you stop and observe the huge facade and high, spired towers. The beautiful rounded arches and grand entrance are a perfect example of Romanesque architecture. The Central Hall, is created to be grand and spacious enough to display large mammals such as whales, elephants as well as extinct animals such as Dinosaurs.

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Extremely high ceilings, very large rooms and large stairs make the museum an extraordinary and kind of magical space. As you make your way inside the building, you move away from the traditional architecture which is replaced by more modern shapes and materials. In the Darwin space, glass is used both for large windows and for the colorful ceilings. The space is obviously designed based on the day light of the day, which is a part of the architectural design, as it comes in from the glass windows, doors and ceiling and lights the specific areas it was designed to light.

“There were many fascinating elements to explore: the sheer size of this valuable collection; the complexity of the scientists’ working environment, and their relationship to this collection – all bound together by the very contemporary concept of allowing the public to see behind the scenes” Anna Maria Indrio (Architecture team)

In this post, I will be focusing on the red zone, representing how the earth works. The reason why I chose to write about the specific department of the Museum is because it was the only department I was not that eager to visit and it turned out to be the best one. Everyone who has not been to the Natural History Museum is under the impression that it is a museum all about animals and dinosaurs. The ‘earth’ department though, is one that people should definitely visit.

Does the ‘earth’ zone still does not sound interesting? Take a look at its entrance

Scences from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=N3eJoQJ-ADA & personal footage edited by me

This department explores the ever-changing planet, discovering the natural forces that shape it, the treasures we take away from it, our negative and positive effect to it and its place and role in the universe. All these things sound very confusing, difficult to understand and definitely not something children would enjoy learning about. But what makes it so interesting is the way it has been put together. The way the earth works, is one 100% science, but the designers of the museum have managed to transform it into art. Everything on the red zone is made from scratch in order to illustrate the ‘story of the earth’ better. The walls of every room are painted in different colours, have different textures and texts on them, either drawn or projected. Every little object tells a story, but it does not work if people don’t make it work. In other words, every piece of the room is interactive. You have to press a button, or pull a string in order to see it working.

To give a clearer example, the following photograph is showing elements of the earth: Gravity, Ice, Water, Wind, Life.

Even though this might be ‘boring’ as a fact, the museum has managed to present it in an interesting way. In order to illustrate gravity, the top of the object moves, as if its falling. In order to understand ice, you have to place your hand to the second object and you feel the cold. When you move closer to the third one, you can see and hear running water. If you put your hand inside the forth object you feel the wind, and just by looking at the fifth one, you see a mirror (thus your self) and YOU represent life. For me, all these details are what make every part of the red zone interesting. With this interaction, children get the opportunity to learn by playing games. Adults are also interested in these activities, and the truth is, that by watching something that creative and interacting with it, there are more chances that the information will stay in your head.

Do you still believe that it is impossible for young children to enjoy a day in the museum? Take a better look: 

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Finally, the museums gift-shop is definitely something interesting to visit after viewing the rest of the exhibition. A large variety of stuffed animals, puzzles, board games, jewellery and many many more is offered. Small toys and objects that will keep your children busy and happy and at the same time provide important information about the earth, living organisms and science. Moreover, a big collection of books about the environment, planets and animals is available with amazing imagery and simple language that is understandable by children. Finally, there is a unique section of environmentally friendly objects and sweets that all have a ‘green message’ included, such as the following lollipops with different logos such as ‘stop waste’ or ‘go green’.

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I would definitely suggest to anyone to go to the Natural History Museum and spent the day learning more about our earth and all the living organisms that surround us, in a artistic, fun and interactive way. Parents should definitely take their children with them. You will be surprised by how much little kids will enjoy the specific museum and at the same time, how much they will learn. I wish I had counted how many times I heard children say ‘wowww’ during my time there.

For more information on the Natural History Museum, visit their website: http://www.nhm.ac.uk/

Thank you for reading,

Elli

Lost Worlds Reclaimed by nature

I really enjoy capturing special moments with my camera, either for art projects or in everyday life, but I am not a huge fan of going to photography exhibitions. I tend to find them boring and less interesting than painting exhibitions for example where I find it easier to understand the artists intentions and messages, connect with his and thus with his artworks. But I recently visited ‘The Photographers’ Gallery” an exhibition that I genuinely enjoyed and recommend.

The Factory Photographs, exhibition by David Lynch:

I Love Industry pipes, I love fluid and smoke. I love man-made things. I like to se people hard at work, and I like to see sludge and man-made waste. David Lynch

This quote by the artist of the exhibition, David Lynch, gives a short definition of what is expected to be seen in his photography. His exhibition features 90 black an white images in England, Berlin. Poland, New York, and New Jersey between 1980 and 2000. Focusing on obsolete but richly atmospheric, post-industrial architecture spaces, this series depicts relics of a lost world, factories once proud emblems of progress, now deserted and being reclaimed by nature.

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Lynch’s passion for the dark, the apical and the mysterious themes, emanates from this body of work that captures uninhabited locations with a poetic and even romantic aura. Highly subjective, the imagery resembles dream-like sequences that have both enigmatic and ominous qualities.

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Maybe one of the reasons why I haven’t been the biggest fan of photography exhibitions is because I sometimes find it hard to connect with the photographs and more importantly, connect each photograph to the other. I like works of art to have a sequence and one to follow the other. In that way, I have the opportunity to create a narrative in my mind, and become a part of it. This exhibition allowed me to do exactly that, even though I did not actually connect with the ‘broken glasses’ and the ‘old walls’ that were featured in the photographs, I understood the angle of the artist, his purpose and the messages he meant to convey, and connected the photos together.

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What is of great importance in my opinion, is the way the exhibition has been put together and presented. I am very organised myself, and I like everything to be presented in a simple and ‘clean’ way. For that reason, I really like the fact that the artist has used black  frames for his o pictures, that all have the approximate size. Also, black and white is used throughout the exhibition, making the photographs clear, the details more dramatic and the exhibition coherent.

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One can ask: What is so important about old pipes, destroyed walls, broken glasses and abandoned spaces? Well, many people will say that nothing is interesting about that. And others, that might disagree may have a number of different answers. But in my opinion, what makes a great artist is discovering art in everyday objects. David Lynch has managed to capture the beauty of these everyday objects. Shooting in old industrial spaces, he manages to find what is unique and present it as art. He takes the unimportant elements and gives them power, significance and meaning. In that way, his work exudes a unique, cinematic style through dark, brooding images.

If you are a big fan of photography (or not) you should definitely try and make some time to visit this exhibition by David Lynch, at the Photographers’ Gallery. Its not only amazing, it is free as well. If you are interested in more information about The Photographers’ Gallery, visit their website: http://thephotographersgallery.org.uk/home