Exposition Art Blog: August 2018

Koji Enokura - Contemporary arts in Japan

Koji Enokura ( 1942 – 1995) was a Japanese painter and installation artist.
He was one of the key members of Mono-ha, a group of artists who became prominent in the late 1960s and 1970s. The Mono-ha artists explored the encounter between natural and industrial materials, such as stone, steel plates, glass, light bulbs, cotton, sponge, paper, wood, wire, rope, leather, oil, and water, arranging them in mostly unaltered, ephemeral states. The works focus as much on the interdependency of these various elements and the surrounding space as on the materials themselves. From the beginning of the 1970s, Enokura stained paper, cloth, felt, and leather with oil and grease. He also discolored the floors and walls of galleries and outdoor spaces. These installations are no longer extant but are documented in photographs. 

John Latham - Conceptual Art

John Latham, (23 February 1921 – 1 January 2006) was a Zambia-born British conceptual artist. Latham was educated at Winchester College. In the Second World War he commanded a motor torpedo boat in the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve. After the war he studied art, first at the Regent Street Polytechnic and then at the Chelsea College of Art and Design. He married fellow artist and collaborator Barbara Steveni in Westminster in 1951.The spray can became Latham's primary medium, as can be seen in Man Caught Up with a Yellow Object (oil painting, 1954) in the Tate Gallery collection. In addition to spray paint, Latham tore, sawed, chewed and burnt books to create collage material for his work, such as Film Star (1960).Latham's event-based art was influential in performance art. In 1966, he took part in the Destruction in Art Symposium in London led by Gustav Metzger along with Fluxus artists such as Yoko Ono, Wolf Vostell and Al Hansen.His "skoob" ("books" written backwards) works using books or materials derived from them had the power to shock. He moved from collages to towers of books which he then burnt, awakening uncomfortable echoes of the Nazi regime's public burning of banned books.
From 1983 Latham lived and worked at his house, Flat Time House in Peckham. In 1991 he produced God is Great (no. 2), a conceptual artwork featuring copies of the Bible, Quran, and a volume of the Talmud, each cut in two and attached to a sheet of glass. In 2005 Tate Britain held an exhibition of Latham's work.Latham died at Kings College Hospital, Camberwell, on 1 January 2006.In 2010 John Latham: Canvas Events was published by Ridinghouse.In 2016 the Henry Moore Institute presented A Lesson in Sculpture with John Latham, an exhibition addressing Latham's visionary contribution to the study of sculpture, bringing sixteen works by Latham, spanning 1958 to 2005, into conversation with sixteen sculptures by artists working across the twentieth and twenty-first centuries.Wikipedia

Frantisek Muzika - Czech Avant Garde - Surrealism

Frantisek Muzika (26 June 1900 – 1 November 1974) was a Czech artist and a prominent representative of avant-garde in Czechoslovakia in the first half of the 20th century. He was a member of Devětsil since 1921 and Mánes since 1923.
Muzika was a painter, graphic designer, stage designer, illustrator, editor and professor at the Academy of Arts and Industrial Design (UMPRUM) in Prague.
Muzika was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia. After finishing his study at the Academy of Arts, Prague in 1924, he received a one-year scholarship from the French government for studying at École des Beaux-Arts. In Paris he also received private lessons from František Kupka at his atelier. In Paris he met Max Jacob, who took him to meet Léonce Rosenberg. On Sundays he had regular meetings with Joseph Bernard, where he also met Maillol and Bissière, with whom he exhibited at Salon d'Automne.In 1925, after he returned from Paris, his experiences with the work of Georges Braque and Pablo Picasso led Muzika to change his style of painting.
 “Over the course of more than fifty years, Muzika’s work thus underwent several developmental changes. It always, however, remained faithful to itself and to the starting points of Muzika’s generation. It never let itself to be tempted down the wrong path by briefly fashionable trends or cheaply earned successes; it never got bogged down in the stagnant waters of convention or dissipated in its own discoveries and approaches.”In his final years, he suffered from cardiac disease. He died 1 November 1974 in his atelier, with his final, unfinished work, "Staircase" ("Schodiště") on the easel.Wikipedia


Ken Kiff - Figurative Avant Garde Art

Ken Kiff  (29 May 1935 – 15 February 2001) an internationally known figurative artist, was born in Dagenham and trained at Hornsey School of Art 1955-61. He came to prominence in the 1980s thanks to the championship of art critic Norbert Lynton, and a cultural climate intent on re-assessing figurative art following the Royal Academy’s ‘New Spirit in Painting’ exhibition in 1981. He started exhibiting at Nicola Jacob’s gallery, moved to Fischer Fine Art in 1987 and finally to the Marlborough Gallery in 1990, by which time he had begun exhibiting internationally and had work in major public collections. He was elected to the Royal Academy in 1991 and became Associate Artist at the National Gallery 1991-93. His 30-year teaching career at Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College influenced a generation of students.
Despite his success, Kiff’s position was never a comfortable one. His commitment to the pictorial values of modernism, his deep respect for artists such as Klee, Miro or Chagall, and his ideas about painting were often at odds with prevailing assumptions. In contemporary debates around abstraction versus figuration he tended to push past the battle-lines: ‘colour thinking’ as opposed to ‘image thinking’, pictorial form versus representational meaning, in order to get at something beneath their seeming differences. Images themselves arose out of the stuff of painting and an intimate relationship with a technique. His deep personal knowledge of poetry and music informed his sense of a painting’s structure. He saw colour in terms of images and images in terms of colour, which constituted, as he saw it, “the natural complexity of painting”.Colour and colour relationships interacted in his paintings with a range of images evoking the blissfully radiant and lyrical to the comic and disturbingly grotesque. ‘Fantasy’ as he saw it ‘was a way of thinking about reality’. The matter-of-fact imagery of streets, houses, trees, animals and people was configured with dreamlike encounters and happenings in a way that invited the viewer into an internal world constantly using the external world as its subject-matter.By the late 1980s his range of media had expanded to include woodcuts, monotypes, lithography and etching. He enjoyed how new ways of working with materials, the grain of the wood, for example, or the wax in the encaustics, could extend his visual thinking and force him to make decisions more quickly. He took great pleasure in collaborating with master printmaking technicians such as Dorothea Wight and Mark Balakjian in Britain, Erik Hollgersson in Sweden, and Garner Tullis in the US. Wikipedia