Tag Archives: women

Photographing the Photographic Image: Anne Collier

Anne Collier is an unusual type of photographer in the sense that she takes photographs of existing photographs. Largely, of famous women role models, Marilyn Monroe, of course, amongst a few lesser known feminine starlets of the past. Yet it’s not as straight forward or as unimaginative as it sounds. Collier holds her images quite literally at arms length, working with not just the image itself but with the background on which it appears: a frame, magazine, book, poster, a blank wall or textured surface. It has a distancing effect and totally readjusts our perspectives of well known work (reminiscent of Fiona Banner’s curated exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery here in London). A lot of her work, unsurprisingly, focuses on the “gaze”, forcing the viewer to reassess the way we view not just images but advertisements and people themselves. This naturally plays into the interesting and ever going debates surrounding female objectification and sexualisation. Taken out of their commercial context, what do these images mean and how should we view them?

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Life without colour: Benoit Courti

Earlier today I stumbled across a collection of classic black and white pictures that had been ‘colourized’ and I’m not entirely sure I liked them. Though the image itself always remained the same the addition of colour seemed almost inappropriate.  I’m not under the illusion that in the past, the world was actually colourless, it’s just that colour demystifies the scenes. And isn’t mystery the very thing that makes the past so exciting? Where would our imaginations be without a little mystery and intrigue?

I think that’s why I love Benoit Courti’s black and white photography so much. It re-imagines a colourless world that is both sharply defined and incredibly mysterious. It highlights the simple beauty of shape and light and opens up innumerable questions…

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Check out Benoit Courti’s website for his full portfolio. His colour photographs are also incredibly beautiful: http://benoitcourti.4ormat.com/

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Film of the week: Blue Jasmine

It’s been a while since my last film of the week (‘of the week’ is more of a tagline than a truth), but that’s less to do with a scarcity of material and more to do with a lack of time. In fact, it’s been an exceptionally good couple of months for me in terms of watching… so to kick things off, one of my favourites and one of Woody Allen’s best, Blue Jasmine.

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Allen’s latest films have been slightly disappointing. ‘To Rome with Love’ was okay, ‘Midnight in Paris’ was just down right dull (and that’s coming from an Owen Wilson fan), but luckily ‘Blue Jasmine’ popped up just in time to prove the old man hasn’t lost his edge. Unlike the latter two, ‘Blue Jasmine’ leans more towards the side of tragedy. That’s not to say it’s without it’s comedy – there are several scenes worthy of a smirk – but even those are underlined by pain and desperation. This is not a criticism, however, but rather one of the film’s great strengths. It gives it consistency and allows for a deeper character exploration. Cate Blanchett demonstrates this beautifully as the former New York socialite, Jasmine whose life has collapsed after her husband’s imprisonment. Jasmine is forced to restart her life in San Franciso, living with her adoptive sister who she was previously so ashamed of. The story flits between past as present as Jasmine struggles to shape herself a career and formulate any type of social-relations whilst her mental instability becomes increasingly apparent. Trapped in a state of constant anxiety, Jasmine is emotionally exhausting to watch as she continues on her destructive path. Relief from Jasmine’s intensity however is provided by her sister, Ginger (Sally Hawkins) whose kindness is all the more admirable in contrast with such extreme self absorption. You can’t help, but pity Jasmine though in her desperate, frantic state and despise her slime ball of a husband, played by the master of the role, Alec Baldwin. After all, how much trauma can one person withstand?

VERDICT: It requires concentration, but the acting is phenomenal and the narrative ingeniously interwoven to create a startling and deeply saddening image of one women pushed to the very edge. Perhaps Allen’s most powerful film yet.

Hit play to watch the trailer:

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Drinking tea with Hannah Adamaszek

‘I really like native Indians,’ Hannah Adamaszek smiles when I ask where her inspiration comes from. She sits opposite me, nestled into the sofa in her living room in West Sussex. It’s not obviously the home of an artist. For one thing there’s a lot less mess than I expected. In fact, it’s meticulously clean, but the paintings on the wall of Pocahontas like figures with colourful hair and strong eyes are somewhat of a give away.

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‘Yes I guess the girl in my paintings does look a bit like Pocahontas,’ Hannah agrees. ‘I normally source photos online and merge maybe two or three faces together to make one person. Somehow, they all end up looking fairly similar. I’d love to do a photo shoot with a model at some point though.’ It’s not hard to guess what Hannah’s favourite film was a child! ‘I’m also really into native fashion. I take bits of inspiration from Spell Designs (http://www.spelldesigns.com/) who make clothes and jewellery and also from the Native Americans themselves’.

Interestingly, however, it seems to only be Native American women that fascinate Hannah. ‘I prefer to use women in my paintings. I have done men in the past, but it’s more fun painting a woman and I’m a woman so I find I can connect with the figure more’.

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It’s also largely Hannah’s use of women that makes her work as, at least partially, a street artist so unique. To a predominantly male dominated world, her work brings femininity and beauty without passivity. Though the colours she uses are subdued (‘I like to listen to calm music when I paint’), her women are expressively bold and powerful.

‘My work has changed a lot since Uni.’ Hannah trained at Bournemouth Arts Institute where she mainly focused on photography.  ‘ Not that I was very good at it!’ She adds honestly. ‘ I was really interested in documentaries. I worked with the homeless for a bit and that kind of thing. Then when I finished uni I got an office job, which lasted about 6 months before I decided it wasn’t for me and went travelling instead.’

It took a while for her to actually start painting again and it wasn’t until she got back from ski seasons in Austria and Switzerland that she picked up a paintbrush – and a spray can. ‘I tried playing around with a few stencils to see what it was like and found that I really enjoyed using spray paint so I started to incorporate that into my work as well. It took quite a long time to get it how I wanted though!’

The result is – especially up close – very impressive; a unique blend of the precision and neatness of fine art with the gritty, spontaneity of street art – not unlike the work of current artist, Conor Harrington (who incidentally Hannah’s a big fan of). Harrington generally works on huge canvases or paints directly onto street walls.‘The only work I’ve done actually on the street is during live painting sessions where you’re given some boards to paint on’, says Hannah. ‘I’ve got one up in London at the moment, which has been placed on the side of a building. It’s such an amazing feeling to see your work out in public’.

Hannah’s also hugely admiring of abstract artist, Kristin Gaudio Endsley, who she sometimes collaborates with. ‘We normally meet up in Kristin’s studio in London and share ideas – she’s got a really great studio where we can work together.’ Hannah currently paints in her spare room, where disastrously she spills a pot of acrylic when showing me the sheet she uses to cover the floor – one of the hazards of being an artist. ‘I usually start by painting the figure and Kristin will pick the colours and paint around it. I really struggle with background and colour – so she really helped me out with that.’

Looking at Hannah’s paintings it’s hard to imagine she struggles with anything. They seem so effortless and relaxed. I wonder how long it takes to finish a painting on average? ‘It depends. The longest part of the process is deciding what to paint. I’m not the world’s best decision maker, but once I’ve started it can take 3 or 4 days maybe.’

With a show this month and her first solo show in September (‘which I can’t believe I’m doing!’), Hannah has lots of painting and planning to do, but she’s still looking forward to the future.‘I’d like to do some work abroad, do the stroke art fair in Munich and perhaps see what’s in the US as well.’

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She seems to be an artist whose not only comfortable working with lots of mediums, but also with working in different environments and with different people. It is perhaps her flexibility (alongside her talent – of course) that has opened so many doors. When I ask her which was the most exciting project she’s done, she can’t choose: ‘I really enjoyed doing the Brandalism project, working with about 25 other artists. We were each given a brief and had to create something for a sort of anti-advertising campaign. The guys running the project hijacked billboards across the UK and pasted up our anti-adverts across the top of them. It was nice to have a bit of focus and do something different to my usual work.’

The project certainly caused quite a stir with the press (described by Dr. D in 2012 as ‘taking the piss with a point’) and was covered by the Independent.

I ask Hannah how she feels about the rise of social media as an artist. ‘I’ve only really got into social media over the last 6months to year. It takes a long time to understand, but there’s huge potential to use it as an artist to find new customers, new events etc.’

As an advocate of the ‘shop local’ concept, Hannah’s especially a fan of blogs, which work closely with local artists and bring more attention to art in general. ‘Places like Ikea sell prints for the same amount as an artist might sell an original limited edition print and I don’t think people perhaps realize that they can get something from a local London artist (if they live in London) for a similar sort of price’. At the very least it prevents your sitting room from looking like an Ikea catalogue. Who says individuality is dead?

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This interview took place in Hannah’s home on 25th July 2013.

All photographs were taken by the wonderful Corin Brown: www.corinashleighbrown.co.uk

Hannah’s solo exhibition runs from 5th-21st September at the Curious Duke Gallery.

You can buy Hannah’s paintings via her website: http://hannahchloe.com/

Read more about the Brandalism movement here: http://www.independent.co.uk/arts-entertainment/art/features/brandalism-street-artists-hijack-billboards-for-subvertising-campaign-7953151.html

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One to watch: Hannah Adamaszek

Flicking through Hannah Adamaszek’s portfolio it’s difficult to know how to categorise her as an artist. Her work is elegant and fluid, portraits of women with long floating hair and wide full lips, yet you can’t quite call it fine art in its strictest definition. Paint drips down the canvas in places giving it an unfinished feel and a sense of spontaneity, as if the piece has only just been finished. The women in Hannah’s work are strong and challenging, yet feminine and coy (a sort of street version of Pocahontas if you will). There are so many contradictions that it shouldn’t work, past artworks tell us it shouldn’t work, but somehow it does, brilliantly. Based in West Sussex, Hannah combines the femininity of fine art with the more aggressive, male style of street art to create artwork that would decorate a street wall just as well as it would decorate your bedroom. Achingly beautiful and fiercely powerful, Hannah’s work makes you realise, art isn’t about categories after all…

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Head over to Hannah’s website to see what else she’s got up her sleeve: http://hannahchloe.com/filter/paintings

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One to watch: Clare Elsaesser

California gal, Clare Elsaesser may have only been full time artist for three years now, but by golly has she got an impressive repetorie (by what I can gather from a quick facebook stalk of her professional page, Clare churns out paintings at an almost insatiable rate). Though speed often comes at the expense of quality, this is far from the case with Clare’s work – each piece she produces is exquisite and delicate transporting the viewer into an endless summer of flowers and beaches.

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The artist claims her inspiration comes largely from her daydreams mingled with nature making one wonder what it must be like to be inside a mind that conjours up images of women spouting flowers. As monstrous as I may have made that sound, Clare’s collection of women covered partially in flowers are quite extraordinarly beautiful in their simplicity and fairy-tale resonance.

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Henry James – “Summer afternoonsummer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.”

 

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What’s even more exciting is that you can buy prints of her paintings for a very reasonable price – sometimes Clare even has free giveaways. Good old Clare.

Check out Clare’s website to see her full collection and browse her shop: http://clareelsaesser.com

Also it’s worth watching her facebook page for giveaways and general updates:  https://www.facebook.com/clareelsaesser

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