I’m a big fan of the artist, Yoshitomo Nara. He is hugely successful and popular in Japan, being treated like a Pop Star rather than an Artist. This is not the reason why I like his work. It is rather because he has created a world that is unique, special and strong. The characters he portrays may seem vulnerable but on inspection they have their own power that can withhold the (sometimes) corrupting influences of the outside world and grown-ups.
Although familiar with his work in print and on the web, (paintings, drawings, acrylic sculpture and ceramics) I think I have only seen one of his sculptures before when visiting the Japan Society in New York. So I was thrilled to see his works at the Dairy Arts Centre in London recently.
This was a major display of his work that included both large and small paintings, bronze sculptures, envelope drawings and detailed graphite drawings. When viewing his paintings and cartoon-esque drawings, I renewed my familiarity with his world, and reminded myself that I do, indeed respect and admire the strength and consistency of his vision. What really stood out for me though, were his graphite pencil drawings that I saw for the first time. These showed another side to his characters’ personalities, by using such a different mark (a fine graphite line) and working the surface intensively, he really adds something new to his rich output.
Many thanks to those who were instrumental in bringing this exhibition to our shores.
There is more information about Nara on Artsy.net here.
This week I was invited back to Bath Spa University to give an afternoon presentation about my work to the new MA students and also to demonstrate how I make things.
I used the above image to start my Powerpoint presentation, as I always like to have something to look at while I wait for other’s talks to begin. The plan was to keep the talk quite short (20 minutes or so), and use the remaining time for making.
It was a lot of fun. I enjoyed describing how my zen rogue drawings (such as the one above) developed and then how I struggled to translate them into three dimensions.
I took care to document and show my explorations, possibilities and failures, together with the final ‘finished’ pieces.It is easy to find professional photos of artists’ work on the internet these days, so I wanted to highlight the other areas of the making process that don’t often get shown.
This point was made apparent to me not long ago when I attended a presentation by Philip Eglin at the Royal College of Art, London. He showed us pictures of his studio in various states of tidiness/chaos and also images of work that I have never seen published. This was a huge inspiration to me.
Due to the pressure of time, my hand building demonstration was pretty fast, but this was good as I enjoy working quickly where possible. In this session, I turned out a quick press mould that I used this year for my small heads. Then I made a few pieces from leather hard slabs I had prepared the day before. This was exciting for me, as I haven’t used slabs for a year or so, and I can really see this technique offering a way forward for my figurative pieces.
During the slab demo I found myself mentioning one of my past tutors, Mo Jupp whom I consider one of the most talented people ever to touch clay (within the range of my experience). I was reminded of him the other day when I came across this video on vimeo.
Hopefully I will get the opportunity to visit other places where people handle clay and show what this wonderful and versatile material is capable of.