Modern Art Oxford
Exhibition: Claudette Johnson - I Came to Dance
On our one day study trip to Oxford, Our target was to see some of the amazing exhibitions on display around oxford as a MA Painting student group.
Firstly we are headed towards the Modern art gallery for the solo show of the figurative London-based artist Claudette Johnson. The art that Johnson has created, on display exhibition seeks to address the experience and nature of [the black woman’s] oppression and sexism by dedicating space to the depiction of black women and the stories they have to tell. I somehow related her works to the expression of writings on Home and black woman in an by the famous author “Bell Hooks”.
For example in the work Trilogy (1982–86), which is also the work I most like is a triptych of black female figures dressed in blue, black and red, is a clear example of the artist’s investment in the interplay between pose and gaze. The painting seems stylized in whole but then I observed that the her central female figure holds her hands behind her head and gazes directly at the viewer (me), effectively pinning the viewer in place and maintaining their own pose.
The artist expresses “I do believe that the fiction of ‘blackness’ that is the legacy of colonialism, can be interrupted by an encounter with the stories that we have to tell about ourselves”. “I’m interested in our humanity, our feelings and our politics; some things which have been neglected” the artist explains.
Johnson’s , subjects’ forms exceed the bounds of her large canvases , some measuring three by four feet or larger, Working largely in pastel and gouache on paper appeared sometimes soft to hard mark making. Few of her paintings were left half painted and half drawn, I think this made the work more ambiguous for me to explore and interpret the drawn areas of the paintings.
Although for example in Standing Figure (2017). In this work, the confidence of the figure, who is depicted in simple black lines, contrasts with the taped-together canvas, suggesting the unfinished and haphazard nature of identity – or, perhaps, how black female identities are all too often neglected, discarded. What I take from her style of drawing is the freedom with which the marks are made, I find these powerful at the same time intimidating completely complimenting the subject matter of black female women and the artist political take on racism, sexism and oppression. I find It is clear that Johnson’s work has political urgency. To conclude Johnson asserts that blackness is a fiction created by colonialism, she insists that this fiction ‘can be interrupted by an encounter with the stories that we have to tell about ourselves’.
Standing Figure (2017)
Ashmolean Museum of Art and Archaeology
Exhibition: Jeff Koons
This exhibition offered an exciting journey through the boundaries of contemporary art. From the moment the scene with floating balls in his Gazing balls series “ in which shiny spheres are attached like footballs to copies of famous paintings and sculptures, and ready-made objects to his re-working of classical statues and Old Master paintings. He actually used appropriation of classical imagery on the Arundel marbles, the ancient Greek sculptures. For example his works feature replicas of paintings by artists such as Peter Paul Rubens and Titian, to which Koons has added blue gazing ball sculptures.
I find him as a perfectionist because of the way he cared about details in the paintings. Working in this way, he says, “I can be more responsible for every thousandth of a milimeter.” One thing about this compact show – and Koons’s whole perfect aesthetic – is that it puts everything on exactly the same level as anything else: the classical sculpture and the Disney ballerina, the basketball, the pig and the baby Jesus. Nothing is greater or lesser or more significant than others: not the smart new Hoover or the martyred saint. And the works in this show, we were told, put past and present on equal levels.
Seated Ballerina, 2015 by Jeff Koons at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford.
With Gazing Ball (Rubens Tiger Hunt), Koons says he's paying homage to our forebears