Tony Bevan at Ben Brown Fine Arts, London

<span class="artist"><strong>Tony Bevan</strong></span>, <span class="title"><em>Untitled (PC181)</em>, 2018</span>

https://www.benbrownfinearts.com/exhibitions/131/overview/

If it is not the clashing red against black or visual remnants of charcoal that captivate the viewer, then it is the fragments of architecture juxtaposed with the bare, skeletal remains of trees that does it. The large scale paintings by Tony Bevan are an interesting blend of representational and abstract elements brought together through the repetition of colour and material.

There is something simultaneously structural and yet apocalyptic, as if the works have photographically captured the moment before collapse or the moment after a lightening strike. Some works merely hint at structures like roofs, while the two tones and flat forms, hint at depth and perspective.

His pigments are a rich mix of acrylic paint over charcoal. The charcoal that remains on canvas suggests something quite industrial and adds texture, yet on another level it signifies something abandoned, memory or even nostalgia. All of these spaces are devoid of figures and life. They are relics of another time: monuments to industry, workers, unions, mining and perhaps even suffering.

©bh

 

RA Tacita Dean Landscape Exhibition

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/tacita-dean-landscape

So I had read about Tacita Dean’s drawings before this exhibition and her love for all things analogue, so I was intrigued and a little daunted to see some of her work up close and personal. Which I guess, for landscape is the enveloping purpose: to swallow up the viewer in all things powerful and sublime. I have to admit – I felt awed by an avalanche of form. Not simply by the scale but by the materiality itself. Some of her work is done on  board, plates and some on slate. Slate itself is landscape. Isn’t it?

The viewer is drawn in because all at once you are looking at a landscape and then a drawing and then some words on a ‘blackboard’ and it makes sense suddenly as both physical materiality and thought. The inclusion of the almost washed out words creates psychological landscapes or word landmarks of the artist in process. Her identity or thoughts become fused with the landscape. There is a definite sense of nostalgia and a respect for traditional mediums (which I had already gathered from her love of analogue). But there was something else about the clouds that drew me in, more than her rock collection or the tree painted in gauche. Although I must say, I spent quite a long time looking at what are technically ‘mutant’ four, five, six, seven, eight and nine leaf clovers… Luck on a large scale in perspex boxes just didn’t seem so lucky anymore. It was an archive and collection. Someone behind me suggested you could get these on eBay now and suddenly the magic vanished like an exposed card trick.

But those clouds … They represented something murky, even erased in white chalk. It was a type of creative defiance, painting on boards reserved in the past for letters and an educational system alone. They are soft and white against a very cold and hard surface. They are thought and dream in one moment. They were my favourite.

And the film? It was interesting. I found it hard to follow two narratives at the same time but suspect that was the point. Often we have a narrative in our head that contrasts with that spoken in reality. Usually I am good at multitasking but this perplexed me: two voices juxtaposed. Not just two voices, but multiple narratives in myth and identity. I had to concentrate. I enjoyed having my eye or my view played with by splicing and two films run simultaneously. I also loved the fire, moon and sunset metaphors that ran throughout the film. It was magic and autobiography told through myth and documentary.

POEM

Botanical Diaspora

 

I have travelled a globe

For the English Rose

In her cultivated red

Her hint of crimson

My rooinek, my heritage

Painted as a last lesson

Of the afternoon

For an African landscape

Where soils move

In a terroir waltz

Within boundaries fixed

In razor wire.

 

I am bringing a protea

Hard and tight and

Virtually impenetrable

Across an ocean

Folded in fabric

Armoured feminine

A little bit sticky and

A little bit brash.

Because culture

Has no real borders

And maps are all

But cultivated gardens.

 

 

Light poems for MA

Light in a dark galaxy

You brood like dark circles beneath eyes

That orbit your world in

Concentric circles

Like flies around a working corpse

Because life is work and work is life and

Sleep is for the dead you say

In your focused, manic

Manly way, with

A look that catches me like a virus

Rolls me feverish in your dreams for

I am your insomniac lover

Catching crumbs beneath your table

As you feed your bread to fat tarts

Sow your pearls to swine

And I am still here, hungry

Navigating your dark circles

Like a faded moon.

But beware my lover

With your costume jewellery morals

Hung about your neck

Too tight

Beware!

For here I am without gravity,

Ready to float into the Milky Way

Simple as stardust.

Fired as a comet.

A sun.

A star.

Light poems

Light in a dark galaxy

You brood like dark circles beneath eyes

That orbit your world in

Concentric circles

Like flies around a working corpse

Because life is work and work is life and

Sleep is for the dead you say

In your focused, manic

Manly way, with

A look that catches me like a virus

Rolls me feverish in your dreams for

I am your insomniac lover

Catching the crumbs beneath your table

As you feed your bread to fat tarts

Sew your pearls to swine

And I am still here, hungry

Navigating your dark circles

Like a faded moon.

But beware my lover

With your costume jewellery morals

Hung about your neck

Too tight

Beware!

For here I am without gravity,

Ready to float into the Milky Way

Simple as stardust.

Fired as a comet.

A sun.

A star.