book cover,The Heart and Its reasons,

Enter to Win!

book cover,The Heart and Its reasons, Exciting news! I’ve listed my new book The Heart and Its Reasons in the Goodreads Book Giveaways programme! There are 3 copies (print) available. Giveaway dates for entering: Oct 23-Nov 18, 2014.

This is how it works: Find the book in Goodreads here. Scroll down the page, and click the enter to win button there. Goodreads will do the rest! After the 18th of November they will notify me the list of winners and I will post the books directly to the lucky three!

Good luck to all who enter!

“Only connect…” (for Blog Action Day 2014)

refugees,blog action day 2013, amnesty,A global discussion is being held today, October 16th, on the topic of inequality. Organized by Blog Action Day, this year’s event brings together bloggers from over 100 countries to consider an issue of vital importance.

Inequality evokes images of poverty, abuse, injustice, discrimination, suffering, so ubiquitous that we often feel there is little that we can do to address these problems. Sometimes, they are even considered part of the human condition to be simply accepted and endured. Yet, inequality is mostly man-made, and amenable to intervention and change. There are numerous ways open to us to redress skewed balances, and perhaps the most effective ones start right here, right now: from each one of us becoming aware of our own contribution to the layers of inequality in everyday life.

In my earlier posts I reflected on the language of art and its role in bringing awareness into the equation. Looking at artists’ creations not usually associated with inequality, I noted how Anselm Kiefer’s work embodies remembrance in his use of materials such as clay and metal fragments; how Frank Auerbach’s long preoccupation with repair manifests in his heavily encrusted paintings of the same subjects, over and over again; Kader Attia’s concern with the fragility and malleability of meaning and the cyclical processes of creation, recycling, and re-appropriation. Phyllida Barlow’s juxtapositions connecting us to the history of use and abuse of materials and resources. Malevich’s ways of lifting painting out of the necessity of depicting reality… All these ‘revolutionary’ approaches to painting and sculpture, I saw as being instances of digging under layers of appearance, bringing out the asymmetries, the inequalities in the building blocks of our world. In this sense, good art becomes a language mediating our preconceptions, and experience, re-shaping our ways of seeing the world. thistle,inequality,flower,

Specifically, becoming aware of the subtle ways inequality arises, expresses,  and perpetuates itself  in our everyday interactions, is the first important step in helping rebalance unequal relationships.

For instance, common words we use unthinkingly can be a major way of maintaining inequality as well as a vehicle for change. Mary Beard, Cambridge professor in classics, in her recent call for a grey revolution, noting this double-edged potential in language, urges us to reclaim the word ‘old’ from the negative connotations it has acquired. In particular, our associating old age with negative traits, rather than acknowledging it as a source of pride, needs to be examined: in our accepting comments such as “you don’t look your age” as a compliment, she observes, we come to maintain this form of imbalance. We prefer to deny the reality of a natural stage of life, because we have come to see it as only riddled with problems: wrinkles, forgetting, instability, unemployablility, illness. The wisdom, acceptance, achievements, survival, reflectiveness,… that go with it, seem powerless to counteract the negative values we have come to associate with ageing. And this matters because attitudes towards the older generation are at the core of governmental policies making available, or denying, further opportunity, adult education, support, healthcare, and social resources.

Bridge,Augsburg,Blog Action Dat,In addition to ageing, further examples could be drawn from areas of  mental ill-health, poverty, homelessness, unemployment, immigration, conflict… Attributing the cause of these predicaments to the individuals concerned – e.g. genetic or acquired traits, social, or national character – and keeping them separate through linguistic devices, only continues our turning a blind eye to what we have the power to address and change.

Becoming aware/re-minded of this tendency in ourselves, helps us redirect our attention to, and question the assumptions determining our relationship to others. This awareness enables each one of us to make a positive contribution, however small, to the big problem of inequality. But let literature have the last word. Let E. M. Forster’s “Only connect” become a motto for the day, and the year ahead.

Blog Action Day 2014

This year, Blog Action Day is partnering with Oxfam, whose work and involvement around the world has brought in-depth understanding of the issues involved in inequality.

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Last year (2013,) Blog Action Day’s theme was on Human Rights. My blog post on “Human Rights and Wrongs” was one of three featured on Amnesty International‘s online Journal Livewire.

 

Blog Action Day 2014

On October 16th, 2014, a global discussion is being held on the topic of inequality. Organized by Blog Action Day, this year’s theme brings together bloggers from over 100 countries to contribute on a matter that becomes increasingly urgent.

Inequality, sunflower,daisies,

Wars, civil and religious violence, scarcity of materials and ecological concerns, the spread of disease, are increasingly diverting our attention from the inequalities that abound, and increase in our societies. Yet, to a large degree, inequality is the result of all those processes individually and cumulatively. Wars, for instance, are about real or perceived biases in resource distribution, in turn often resulting in huge increases in inequality. Just think of the thousands of refugees looking for safety in the Mediterranean, and the response they get when (and if) they make it to the European shores. (see here

night chill…
all the refugees asleep
behind bars

It is ubiquitous, but so are the processes that ameliorate and even help reverse it: awareness and reflection, empathy, generosity; pooling of resources and co-operation; language, art, literature; institutions, policies, humanitarian approaches at national and international levels are just a few that come to mind.

Greenwich,London,Tall Ships Festival,Inequality is an urgent and vital topic for discussion, and you may have noticed, I am taking part this year with a series of posts.* Are you? If you are not sure what to write about, Blog Action Day on FB has a number of tips for bloggers. If you don’t have a blog, you may use your FB account or other social media. See also the Blog Action Day 2014 site.

If you are looking for literary inspiration on themes of poverty, homelessness, begging, and poetic resonances to these issues reflecting perspective and culture, see The Kindness of Strangers, a six-part series by Swedish poet Anna Maris on The Haiku Foundation site (you’ll need to scroll down the blog entries for the earlier posts).

Bye for now! See you on the 16th,  online.

#Blogaction14, #Inequality, #Oct16

Anselm Kiefer at the RA and Museum Walter

Malevich at Tate Modern

Phyllida Barlow at Tate Britain

Kader Attia, Whitechapel Gallery

Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain

Blog Action Day 2014

Munich Book Fair, Muenchner Buechershau

Muenchner BücherschauGood news! I am delighted to report that Fruit Dove Press is taking part in the 55th Munich Book Show, at the Gasteig, in Munich, which takes place from the 20 November – 7 December 2014. Various interesting events are planned: authors’ readings, interviews, talks, and above all the opportunity to leaf through wonderful books. Look for Fruit Dove Press here

If you are around, drop in and take a look. I am very much looking forward to the events, especially listening to authors talk about their work.

Auf der Muenchner Buecherschau

Wir von Fruit Dove Press, Neusaess, freuen uns sehr, an der 55. Muenchner Buecherschau 2014 (20. November – 07. Dezember) teilzunehmen. Von uns ausgestellt werden folgende englischsprachigen Titel von Stella Pierides:

  1. In the Garden of Absence (Haiku; Fruit Dove Press, 2012), ausgezeichnet mit dem Memorial Merit Award der Haiku Society of America 2013, fuer 2012 erschienene Buecher (3. Preis)
  2. Feeding the Doves (Kurzgeschichten; Fruit Dove Press, 2013)
  3. The Heart and Its Reasons (Kurzgeschichten; Fruit Dove Press, November 2014)

Die Kurzgeschichtensammlung Feeding the Doves wurde exzellent rezensiert. Die neue Sammlung The Heart and Its Reasons erscheint rechtzeitig zur Muenchner Buecherschau. Wir freuen uns auf Ihren Besuch.

book cover,The Heart and Its reasons,

The Heart and Its Reasons

 The Heart and Its Reasons  — 

Available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de

Steering a path around islands of the past and the present, mythology and history, locals and expatriates, refugees and emigrants, loneliness and aloneness, the fragrance of herbs and the stink of prejudices, the stories in this book traverse the multifarious landscapes of the heart. Setting course by Greece – a country filled with the light and darkness of its past, with wounds still oozing from its wars – the stories explore a space that is both familiar, unfamiliar, and uncannily universal: the haunted, multilayered, enticing, and bewitching chambers of the heart. The sutures keeping it together are pride and longing: for mother, for father, for home; for recognition, for acceptance, for love, for truth; for a better world.

*

From the Back Cover

“Pierides reads and renders our soul with the spectacular clarity of the Greek classics and the depth of the world’s greatest introspective writers. Masterfully portrayed characters, whether they find themselves at crossroads or in seemingly everyday situations, wrestle the often Procrustean tendencies of time, traditions, and heartaches, to ultimately glimpse surprising answers to riddles old and new. These eloquent, hypnotic stories translate the experience of Greek expatriates, contemporary hermits, war veterans, daughters, mothers, and many others, into the universal language of a perpetually searching, truth-thirsty humanity. At once actual and mythic, they blend individual memory and the memory of history, to generate a distinct portrait of the European spirit…”

—Mia Avramut, writer, Essen, Germany

*

“Wistful and bittersweet: a collection of engaging stories. Stella Pierides does not shy away from depicting suffering and loss, but a distinctive feature of her work is how she shows her clearly-drawn characters gradually making sense of even the most chaotic of lives. She calls upon her Greek heritage and pan-European outlook to tackle themes of youth and age, the burdens of history, and the irrepressibility of hope.”

Katie Low, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK

.

Available from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.de

Cover painting: ‘Port Isaac: Golden Light’ by Maria Pierides
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Fruit Dove Press / http://www.fruitdovepress.com
Email: admin@fruitdovepress.com
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Perfect softbound / 104 pages, 90gm cream interior paper / Full-color laminated cover / 129 mm x 198 mm trim size / ISBN: 978-3-944155-04-3

Anselm Kiefer, Kunstmuseum Walter,Augsburg,

Anselm Kiefer at the RA and Art Museum Walter

Inequality and Memory

The day before Anselm Kiefer was born, the house next door to his parents’ was completely destroyed. Only a sewing machine had remained intact. This event is linked, in several articles I came across, to his painter’s vision, his choice of subject, painting technique, and use of materials. Anselm Kiefer, Art Museum Walter,

It is as if he still breathes the dust he breathed in as a newborn; still lives among the rubble he creates in his painting/sculptures; still looks for the diverse, as if bomb-strewn, materials for the surfaces of his constructions.  There is a correspondence, an analogy, an equivalence between his original circumstances and his continued practice and vision in his work. A way of reconstructing memory, making it tangible; of keeping alive an event by reproducing its aftermath, expanding it in time. The Guardian’s Jonathan Jones would agree to this, as in his preview of the Royal Academy exhibition, he describes Kiefer’s show as

“an astonishing look at the awful burden of history”.

From the moment in time to expanding time, Kiefer’s objects do not stop this process of ‘remembering’ even when ‘finished’: the clay he uses shrinks, crumbles, and drops off; dried bits of material disintegrate, fall down, and become litter on the gallery floor to be returned to him. Even when the works don’t disintegrate, Kiefer ‘damages’ them deliberately, as if the state of being damaged, used, wounded, is the reality of painting. Here is where Kader Attia’s concern with re-appropriation of materials comes alive. Making/finding the rubble and turning it into a work of art, then turning this/letting this grow into rubble again, only to use the bits that come off in new work. Like the particles of the cosmos, on a microscopic level, Kiefer’s materials, and creations, belong together, morph, develop, die, and are reborn to a new form.

If this sounds benign, it is because Kiefer’s work reminds us to see it this way; it is a meditation on the ongoing, day to day processes of growth, decay, and regeneration. War, though, a main concern for Kiefer, and our time, is one of the most urgent and sudden, both violently disruptive and accelerative processes there are. When we linger in front of, or indeed around, a Kiefer piece, the terror and horror of the destruction of war; the awe of the immensity of scale come to mind: the holocaust (for Kiefer, perhaps the most personal reference); Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Congo, Gaza, Syria, Hiroshima… The beauty of the arrangements, of the depictions, and the terror of the depicted resonate with Rilke’s terrible angel which seems to be haunting Kiefer’s work.

Anselm Kiefer, Kunstmuseum Walter,Augsburg, So, inequality found in the polarities and the equivalences: Heaven and Earth; the moment and eternity; life and death; beauty and terror; growth and decay; memory and catastrophe. Claudia Pritchard, in The Independent, noting polarities in Kiefer’s work, quotes the claim of his being, arguably, ‘our greatest living artist’. Kiefer’s handling of the topic of memory as tangible and ever present will most probably ensure the continuing truth of this statement. Like the sunflower symbol he uses in his work, a head full of blackened seeds and beauty, Kiefer’s work contains the seeds of its own perpetuation. Pritchard quotes the exhibition curator, Kathleen Soriano,

“What I want people to take away from this show is not only the knowledge that he is a great painter, but also that he has great relevance.” Indeed Kiefer, she adds, is looking, like all of us, with great anxiety at today’s turbulent world. “He says you have to remember that history is cyclical.”

Recently, I revisited some of Anselm Kiefer’s work at the “Art Museum WalterKunstmuseum Walter at the “Glass Palace”, an industrial monument in Augsburg: Eleven ‘paintings’ and two sculptures on show. While they are not new — forty per cent of the Royal Academy work is said to have been created for the show — the Walter collection displays excellent work firmly rooted in time and memory, while remaining open to possibilities of interpretation (the photos included here are from the Art Museum Walter) .

A privately and expertly run gallery, Kunstmuseum Walter, is housed in the Glass Palace — a monument to the past of the textile industry — which aims to show history being alive in the present,

“[involving] a continual confrontation with the present. The concept of a living museum is an essential part of the TIM [Textile Industry Museum] programme. In the textile machine section, former textile workers demonstrate the machines with an authenticity not to be found elsewhere.”

Here too is an equivalence: the metaphor of the sewing machine from Anselm Kiefer’s past finds an echo in Germany’s textile industry surviving destruction. Interesting to note that, in this context, some have referred to Augsburg as the ‘Manchester of Germany’, echoing the transition from a crafts-/guild-based industry to one of machine-based mass production, including the exploitation, poverty, and social upheaval this involved. In this juxtaposition, Kiefer’s work, in bringing together the themes of inequality and memory, continues to weave anew the fabric of history.

If you can, visit the Art Museum Walter. Information about it here.

If you are not in Augsburg, or London, you need not worry. In Kent, there is an exhibition to console your artistic longings: my daughter Maria Pierides’ solo show at Creek Creative Studios in Faversham. 23 — 28 September 2014. Rush there, the Studios are open only till 4 pm on Sunday the 28th!

This post is part of a series of articles on the theme of Inequality, written for Blog Action Day 2014:

Malevich at Tate Modern

Phylida Barlow at Tate Britain

Kader Attia, Whitechapel Gallery

Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain

*Photos: Stella Pierides, Kunstmuseum Walter

 

Malevich at Tate Modern

For the first time since his death in 1935, Malevich’s work is featured at the Tate Modern. Fresh, moving, as well as full of movement, confident, it is a work that touches the viewer, questions and carries her away with confidence. It did me! I liked the tagline: The man who liberated painting.

Malevich, Dynamic Suprematism 1916I know the abstract expressionists in particular are said to have done this, but here is a whole new storyline. This exhibition shows the history of a free spirit, in art anyway, seeking the path to a new art: art freed from the obligation to equal reality, allowing colour and form to interact freely. Unlike Kandinsky, who made them sing in elaborate combinations, Malevich painted geometrical shapes in floating, superimposed, juxtaposed relationships; above all, squares and circles of pure colour.

Out of habit, I note that Malevich was the first of fourteen children, only nine of whom survived; that his family were refugees from Poland, fleeing events at home; that poverty and having to move often, were part of his personal history. All this may well have had an impact on his search for an alternative world and a different way of seeing things. In a post about inequality, these personal details become signposts, showing some of the routes unequal paths may take.
Experiencing the world from this perspective may be, partly at least, behind works, such as those shown here:

“paintings that do not picture the world, yet speak of (and extend) its infinite variety with a visual language all of their own. It is an art of utter originality.”

Malevich’s initial enthusiastic support of the Leninist revolutionaries could also have been fired by this wish to create a new world. He freely gifted his new art of Suprematism to the revolutionary regime, that, seeking to overcome the chasm between rococo Tsarist Russia and the revolution of the people, sought new ways of seeing, of expression, of being.

Jonathan Keats, writing in Forbes, says that when the Russian filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein visited Vitebsk in 1920, he was surprised to find

“buildings were painted white and brashly embellished with bright orange squares, blue rectangles, and green circles. The artist behind this carnival of color was none other than Kazimir Malevich – founder of Suprematism – who was teaching at the local art school … bringing art to the people.”

Here was reality being defined and changed by art. Here was an artist’s l(eye)ns, lens, producing its way of seeing the world. The Forbes contributor points out the similarity with Banksy, and his creations on the walls of San Francisco’s Mission District;  and of course, there is the graffiti at London’s South Bank.

South Bank graffiti,

Not only exteriors, but interiors too were being defined by the new world. Malevich’s symbols were painted on china and crockery; when materials and resources were scarce, the old china of Tsarist times were recycled: the new motifs of triangles and squares being painted on top. The experience of inequality in Tsarist Russia led millions of people to seek a new world of symbols, untainted by the past.

But there was disillusionment too. The Stalinist regime following Lenin’s, forbade the creation of abstract art, and even imprisoned Malevich. There was a time of not painting. Then a new Malevich emerged, a new way of doing things. In his new work, without the abstraction that was forbidden, representational painting appeared. In it, Laura Cumming notes,

“There are poignant souvenirs of Malevich’s radical past if you look – the future, as it might have been, in the blacksmith’s vibrant uniform, in the wild clothes he gives the Russian workers, in the triangles jigsawed together in his 1933 self-portrait. But this self-portrait is otherwise so like the one that opens this show, painted more than 20 years earlier, as to measure the loss. All that remains of this brief, brave adventure is the secret motif in place of a signature – a tiny black square.”

Actually, I liked Malevich’s new ways. The first time round, in his developing Suprematism, freedom fizzed out of his painting. This time, restrained, yes, by the prohibitive regime, by time, by other factors too. But it seems to me, on this visit, that these restraints added a new dimension to his work. The portraits I saw at the Tate exhibition’s last room, were not limited by, but smouldered with restraint and pathos; there was much condensed emotion, history, reference, symbolism to fully engage. Would Malevich have created these works without the benefit of his later years? Without his experiences, good and bad, at the center of changing times?

Without wanting to simply attribute the spurt of creativity and genius to inequality and misfortune — far from it — I would not wish to ignore their existence and possible role in Malevich’s later work either. In any case, I think he made it new, for a second time.

This post is part of a series of articles on the theme of Inequality, written for Blog Action Day 2014:

Phylida Barlow at Tate Britain

Kader Attia, Whitechapel Gallery

Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain

Phyllida Barlow at the Tate

Impossible not to be surprised by this monumental presence at the Duveen Galleries, Tate Britain! Phyllida Barlow’s installation, ‘dock’, makes quite an impression on the unsuspecting visitor walking into the Tate.

Yet taking a few steps through the artwork, and a deep breath, the mind starts working. Tate installation Isn’t this… err, fragile… recycling materials… momentous… look, plastic bags, cartons… How interesting, that the Tate too (see Kader Attia, Whitechapel),  in commissioning Phyllida Barlow’s work in 2014, ends up with a piece that reflects on fragility, transformation, repair, re-appropriation… Though these are not words or concepts I saw used in the descriptions of this work.

Adrian Searle, in The Guardian review, sees,

“All kinds of things happen over our heads. Here’s something like a fungus or a virus hanging in space, and nearby, there’s some sort of blanket-swathed chrysalis or grub. One sees echoes, here and there, of the many artists Barlow has taught in her distinguished career as an educator.”

A different kind of inequality is being noticed here: disparate, different objects and materials, producing a different kind of vision: a different ‘eye’. Yet this difference might also be seen as one of materials ‘unequal’ to those usually seen at the Tate. In fact, marble and gilded frames, the austere, classical beauty of the Galleries contrast with the used cartons and plastic that hold this work — seven pieces in total — together.

Are the latter unequal to the task? My answer would be: no, they fit Barlow’s work perfectly, by way of bringing out the juxtaposition of the two extremes. Her fascination with the grand Tate Britain sitting majestically next to the Thames, and its docks, has produced a fitting installation. Loading and unloading goods that came and went irrespective of their worth associate with this mass, and mess of materials, producing a work seemingly in the process of collapsing.

Tate Installation, Phyllida Barlow, After all it is the Thames that connected Imperial Britain to its colonies and the world… a ‘stage’ for playing out inequalities, so perceptively linked by Joseph Conrad to the Empire’s Heart of Darkness.

Barlow, in a Guardian interview, reminds us of how our age has been marked by the iconic fall of many things: the twin towers and all they represented for the whole world, for instance; the markets; the fall of dictatorships and idols too. So the pull of gravity and precariousness, ever present in our age, and in Barlow’s work, are vital to this specific project. Interestingly, she says that, until recently, she used to dismantle and then recycle her previous exhibits at the end of her shows.

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wide flowing river

the tall orders we left

behind

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This post is part of a series of articles written for Blog Action Day 2014, held on the 16th of October 2014, on the theme of Inequality.

Kader Attia, Whitechapel,art,installation,inequality,blog action day 2014,

Kader Attia, Whitechapel Gallery

Near Brick Lane and Spitalfields Markets, and amidst the hustle and bustle of a Saturday afternoon crowd, I discovered Kader Attia’s (b. 1970, Paris) new work of art at the Whitechapel Gallery, “Continuum of Repair: The Light of Jacob’s Ladder.” No photographs were allowed, but I took a picture of his taped interview that was shown at the Gallery, which gives you a good idea of the installation visible in the background.

Said to be inspired by the religious story of Jacob’s ladder (specifically Jacob’s vision of angels ascending to heaven), as well as by the history of the room of the installation itself (it was the reading room of a former library), it is a work that engages, questions, moves and, well, speaks volumes!

The leaflet of the exhibit describes,

“a warmly lit cabinet of curiosities above which a vast mirror reflects a beam of light, transforming it into rungs of a ladder to infinity. A series of marble busts of wounded soldiers from World War I and repaired North African wooden learning boards (ketab) observe this towering structure of bookshelves filled with centuries of accumulated human knowledge.”

It is in this context of knowledge overseen and underlined by war and destruction, that Attia’s concept of repair acquires extra layers of meaning, adding depth to our quest for ever increasing heights of aspiration. This work is a detailed and serious reflection on our Faustian search for knowledge and certainty, for ever new ideas and creativity to define our identity, and the illusions, and disillusionment this effort entails. Our ‘new’ creations, placed within the context of history of science, of art, of humanity, are shown to be, on some level, ‘appropriations’, or ‘partial repairs’ of what has come before, what has been previously discovered, then forgotten/destroyed, and lost; on another level, this rediscovery serves as a prompt to humility: our ideas, our achievements are but a part of a greater whole and not so much new, as rediscoveries, archaeological specimens in the cabinet of a wider, richer, and vast cosmos.

It is in this sense that Attia sees himself not as an artist, but as a researcher, looking into the meeting points as well as shifts of meaning between ideas and cultures, appropriation and reappropriation, and repair between East and West. Attracted by the fragility, malleability, and ultimate instability of meaning, understanding, and materials, Attia builds his castles out of all sorts of objects, including plastic bags, foil, couscous. We are all part of this process, he says:

“I like the way it (material) gradually loses its substance. The artist is the shadow of the art work.”

inspiring
the sands of time
in a bottle
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This post is part of a series written for Blog Action Day, to be held on the 16th of October 2014, on the theme of Inequality.

Attia contributes to a body of work that reflects on the effects of human ambition — First and Second World Wars, and their aftermath, of colonial and imperial ambitions — and the attempts to rebuild, repair, and re-appropriate its objects.

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The Guardian review

Independent review

 

Auerbach,Rebuilding the Empire Cinema,Tate,

Frank Auerbach at Tate Britain

Recently I visited the Frank Auerbach display of 15 paintings and 29 drawings at the Tate Britain, selected by his fellow painter and friend, Lucian Freud. The collection was offered by the Lucian Freud estate, and accepted by the British Government, in lieu of inheritance tax.

The group of paintings is of international artistic importance and a good ’teaser,’ anticipating a major Tate retrospective planned for 2015.

A fine group of works, including one of my favorites, Rebuilding the Empire Cinema, Leicester Square, 1962.

What a fantastic, bold show of both, imagination and brushwork, deep feeling and insightful depiction of psychologically layered scenes. The same subjects — Julia, his wife; Estella, his mistress; Jake, his son; Mornington Crescent — visited again and again, let the viewer get intimately acquainted with, as well as intrigued by them. Born in 1931 in Berlin, Auerbach came to England in 1939 and has lived and painted in London since. A London painter, and a painter of London, Auerbach has gone under the skin of the capital, making it the prime set of his work. If not Auerbach, then who else captures the energy and multifarious burdens carried by London’s inhabitants so realistically?

In an interview by Hannah Rothschild, Auerbach, from what has been his tiny home and studio since 1954, opens up about his work and life. Surprisingly, a sparse and spare studio and frugal life are juxtaposed to and contrasted with his many-layered, rich encrustations of paint in his work. The charcoal paintings are also ‘rich’ in depth and insight that feels both, inquiring and haunting. I left the room intrigued by his work, troubled, and at the same time, strangely satisfied by his profound achievement. Reading Rothschild’s interview later, I found this which rang true:

“So why does Auerbach paint the same face, the same view over and over again? Wouldn’t it be interesting to try a new landscape or a different nose? Auerbach shakes his head. ‘The closer one is to something, the more likely it is to be beautiful,’ he says. ‘The whole business of painting is very much to do with forgetting oneself and being able to act instinctively. I find myself simply more engaged when I know the people. They get older and change; there is something touching about that, about recording something that’s getting on.’ Amid the frenzy of paint and energy it can be hard to spot the person in an Auerbach portrait. ‘Likeness is a very complicated business indeed,’ he says. ‘If something looks like a painting it does not look like an experience; if something looks like a portrait it doesn’t really look like a person’.”

Well, here’s food for thought.

peas in a pod —

thick brushwork layers

the light

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The interview can be found here

Literature, Art, Culture, Society, and lots of Haiku

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