Artist research: Angela de la Cruz and an excursion to the Turner Prize

Updated on 17 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

19 October 2016. Another Turner Prize nominee in the list of artists my tutor has chosen for me to look at. So I suppose it is time to have a quick look at the Turner Prize, to see who they choose and how they reason their choice.

The Turner Prize has been organised at the Tate gallery since 1984 (Tate, n.d.) and publicised as problematic for a number of incidents and public outrage at the work of some of the award winners, e.g. “My Bed” by Tracey Emin (Saatchi Gallery, n.d.). Named after 19th century innovative and controversial painter J.M.W. Turner it was initiated however to do just that – raise the awareness for novel art work and fuel debate about art. It is awarded to an artist born in or working in Britain for “the greatest contribution to art”. So, if I understand this correctly, the prize is a recognition not for an outstanding achievement in an existing field, but for pioneering work along the twisted route of art development and appears to have been extremely successful in keeping the debate alive.

Superficially, the work of philopsopher and sculptor Angela de la Cruz (*1965, Spain and UK) looks mainly like three-dimensional investigations of the properties of cloth (enter her name in your browser for a first impression). I have to admit that I was at a loss when looking at her installations for the first time, but after having read an article published in The Guardian (Searle, 2010) I began to realize that they are caricatures of the art world itself and started to immensely enjoy the brutally subtle messages. De la Cruz has an admirable ability to literally wrap an art issue in canvas, handing over the parcel itself as the gift.
Having taken in her message, however, I wonder at how easy it is to have one’s ideas challenged when vulnerable.

References:

Saatchi Gallery (n.d.) Tracy Emin. My Bed [online]. Saatchi Gallery, London. Available at: http://www.saatchigallery.com/artists/artpages/tracey_emin_my_bed.htm [Accessed 19 October 2016]

Searle, A. (2010) Angela de la Cruz’s Brush With Death [online]. The Guardian, London, 10 April. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2010/apr/05/angela-de-la-cruz [Accessed 19 October 2016]

Tate (n.d.) What is the Turner Prize? [online]. Tate, London. Available at: http://www.tate.org.uk/turner-prize/about [Accessed 19 October 2016]

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Assignment 3: Lady in Pool

Updated on 12 March 2017 (Harvard referencing).

20 August 2016. A few days ago we were given a day off to spend at the local spa and sauna. The totally relaxed lady we found floating in the pool was so impressive that I found I had to try and make her the subject of my Assignment 3. Although she would probably not count as a true portrait with her face half hidden because of the extreme viewing angle, I just had to take the risk.

08 September 2016. The lady reminded me a lot of the work by Jenny Saville and in preparation I had a look at a large number of Saville’s paintings. Her wonderful delicate handling of skin tones is something to remember, although I know that my own approach is somewhat rougher and I do not want to avoid it on account of trying to copy someone else’s style. Also today I did some intense research on the science of painting pool water. There was a very detailed tutorial (at the time of updating this post the tutorial had unfortunately been taken off the web for copyright reasons and is available only if bought from the author (Mural Joe, n.d.).

15 September 2016. Today I started on the assignment by making a preliminary sketch in order to position the lady correctly, since foreshortening was very strong in her case. As in the exercises preceding this assignment I decided to avoid referring to any photos, in order to see whether my knowledge about human anatomy and memory imprint of the floating lady would be sufficient to produce a hopefully believable form (Fig. 1).

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Figure 1. Sketchbook – positioning the lady in the pool

Next I prepared an A2 canvas carton with a watery mix of blue and turquise (Fig. 2).

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Figure 2. Prepared background

23 September 2016. I noticed how my recent use of acrylic paper had let me forget about the qualities of canvas and the preparation of the background I wanted took me a long time. The smoothness of paper is something I have come to like, since it allows the production of fine detail with ease, while the roughness of the canvas I use leaves, at least at my level of expertise, more than a fair share of the outcome to coincidence.
On the finished background I quickly painted my lady as I remembered her without further reference to other work or photos. I also tried to see her from my caricaturist’s viewpoint, which proved extremely useful in the construction of a loosely painted first layer. My main goal was the creation of a form unusual enough to allow it not to be easily forgotten and in analysing this form to both find and emphasize, if necessary by exaggeration, the innate rhythm in the sequence of arms, breasts, thighs and feet, while trying to take great care in designing a pool atmosphere, whose orderly shapes and cool colours would make a hopefully interesting contrast to the lady’s well-rounded forms (Fig. 3).

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Figure 3. Developing painting – intermediate stage (1)

This painting is another one in which I found an intense communication to develop while working. A small change to one detail – and it was small changes throughout – would instantly cause my eye to focus on something else requiring adjustment in answer to the former. This experience is joyful and satisfying and, at least to my feeling, probably one of the most essential parts of a working painting (Fig. 4):

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Figure 4. Developing painting – intermediate stage (2)

Here comes the final result. It took me a while to decide, observing it under different lighting conditions, but I have come to the conclusion that I should leave it as it is. I might change my mind before I send my portfolio to my tutor, but for the moment I am very happy as it is (Fig. 5):

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Figure 5. Finished painting

For self-assessment please see separate post!

References:

Mural Joe (n.d.) How To Paint Waves Bundle [online]. Mural Joe, Flagstaff. Available at: http://learn.muraljoe.com/downloads/how-to-paint-waves-bundle/ [Accessed 12 March 2017]