‘The Seasons’ (1984-91) by Jasper Johns on display currently at the Courtauld Institute of Art in London as part of the group exhibition ‘There Not There’, curated by students of The Courtauld Institute’s MA ‘Curating the Art Museum’ programme, which runs until July 15th.
“Made more than a decade later, Jasper Johns' The Seasons (1985) articulates a similar concern with the bodily and the temporal. In each print of the series we find, quite literally, the shadow of the artist's presence: the silhouettes that populate the compositions were traced from the outline of the artist's body. The shadows vary in shade, appear and disappear in a staccato rhythm, now obscured by the rain and snow, now pushed to the edges by an eclectic swarm of objects, memories and motifs that recur in the artist's work over time. Here, excess is a form of erasure. Or, to borrow Johns' term for the erased de Kooning drawing, The Seasons operate as 'additive subtraction:
Johns not only inscribes his shadow onto the prints, he also imbues them with gestural marks that reveal the physical process of printmaking: going back and forth, adding and subtracting, layering. This cyclical gesture is echoed by The Seasons themselves: the series starts with Summer and ends in Spring, symbolizing regeneration. Drifting through space and time, drenched in rain, sunlight and snow, appearing and disappearing, the artist's shadow invites us to join him along the way.” - Beatriz García-Velasco Bernal, There Not There
‘Untitled Armchair Painting (crying shame)’ (2014) by Amikam Toren currently on display at Charlie Smith London as part of the group exhibition ‘Transcript’, curated by gallery director Zavier Ellis and artist Hugh Mendes, which runs until June 23rd
“This exhibition will explore the use of text in contemporary art that has been transcribed from every day or alternative sources. For over a century, ushered in by Pablo Picasso’s inclusion of the fragmented word ‘JOU’ and collaged oil cloth in ‘Still-Life with Chair Caning’ (1912), artists have turned to low sources and materials gleaned from everyday life, thereby navigating visual
communication away from its traditional reliance on imagery. Found elements derived from life in the studio, street and café were deployed to confront the audience directly with the stuff of reality at a time of great political, social and cultural flux. Fast paced change was axiomatic of the modern period, echoed by incessant industrial, technical and mechanical progress. Additionally, during a period of economic depression during and between the two world wars, adopting the use of accessible collage elements and found objects represented a democratisation of materials in themselves.
Picasso’s introduction of text as a prominent surface component prepared the way for contemporary artists to develop it into a subject in itself, and to engage directly with popular culture; commercial strategies; and semantics. The artists in this exhibition wholeheartedly embrace the dissolution of hierarchical materials and sources.
Beyond this framework, ‘Transcript’ will investigate the disruption of language. In 1916 ‘Course in General Linguistics’ by Ferdinand de Saussure was posthumously published, and became a critical work in the field of semiotics. Central to Saussure’s theory is the arbitrary relationship between the signifier and signified. Taking the written word as the ultimate signifier, where
meaning is attached by general consensus, text based work has the facility to communicate universally, at least to an audience who speak and read the same language. However, again from synthetic cubism onwards, text based work is often characterized