painters TUBES magazine. issue #1

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Brilliant interview with UK new contemporary artist of note - Ian Norris

the magazine for art, artists & art galleries that is always free to read on line

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painters

T U B E S

“in the studio...

with Ian Norris”

our featured painter has an informal chat with the Editor

+ inside

Exhibition & Book Launch, Gateway Gallery, Hale, Cheshire...Full Review

Exciting...New move for the Contemporary Six Gallery in Manchester

Art Education...”what about the kids” What age should Art be taught?

‘Spike’ on Tretchikoff...our resident culture critic has a dig at art snobs

Exclusive...Art History Editorial “Affirmation Art in a Disaffirmative Climate”


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NEW

140 premium assortment

www.schmincke.de


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contents

p4 Editors pages

the Editor introduces hinself, and says

welcome this the first issue of

painters Tubes. And gives an opinion of

the business side of Art in the Manchester

area of the NW of Englnd.

p6 “in the studio with...”

a regular feature page of a painter that is

especially selected by the editorial staff -

#1 issue...an informal chat with Ian Norris,

a painter from Preston in Lancashire. He

talks about his work process, his life and

future work at his new & bigger studio...

p17 ’Spike’

our resident culture critic takes a swing at

the bias of art instutions in the past. Case

in point - Vladimir Tretchikoff...

p25 Big move for Contemporary Six

Alex Reuben of Contemporary Six upsticks

and moves to a cool new space in

Manchester...

painters

TUBES

magazine for Art, Artists and Art Galleries

p29 Review Pages

Martin Regan, Gateway Gallery, Hale,

plugs his new book and the Gallery puts

on an anniversay exhibition at the same

time with the same title and the same

paintings as in the book...

“the Northern School- a reappraisal”

p36. Historical Art Essay

exclusive essay in two parts...

written in 2002 by (the late) Professor of

Art, renown author and art historian Nigel

Whiteley phd, FRSA.

“Affirmation art in a disaffirmative climate”

Published for the first time - within an Art

Magazine...a must read

p40 “What about the kids?”

Art & Education...

is it time to create a state run Art school

for exceptionally talented children? Ongoing

series of articles on the future of a

new generation. Casepoint: Manchester

High School of Art

painters Tubes magazine

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bi-Monthly publication. Available to the public free on line. Single copy or annual

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ptmag- #1 - 2017- 02- 23


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Editors

pages

Hello, and welcome ...

...in this first issue the focus is

pointed to the North of England.

It’s the ground that I know best

and intrinsically. It will come as no

surprise, to those who have known

me as an artist over these last 30

years, that my decision to seek out

editorial and interesting art stories

have been sourced and found in

that part of England.

Over the last few decades the

dominance of intellectualised art,

in the UK, has resulted in a sort

of renaissance in the popularity

of painting in general. No doubt

fuelled by social media and a

public hungry for ‘understandable’

visual Art. We have also witnessed

the distinct move towards owning

a piece of original art rather than

a reproduction of it. Without having

to travel very far or wide, a quick

Google and a click of the mouse,

anyone can discover a multitude

of very talented artists work to

choose from.

Denis Taylor. Artist. Editor of Painters Tubes. Photograph. ©Marianne Arnberg 2016


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way back in 1981, when I was setting up a showcase in Manchester, a wise man told me...

“...customers will only like what You

show them, so show more.”

Today all creatives have the

advantage of utilising

on-line software which makes

creating interactive and cool

looking websites extremely

simple. If there is one problem

with Art on-line, it is the total

lack of the real life experience

of it. This is particularly true

of visual Art and specifically,

paintings. The full appreciation

and true value of a good

painting only comes from the

the interactions that the viewer

gets from the real thing.

To stand in front of an original

work of art is a totally different

experience than viewing it as

a jpeg reproduction on screen,

in as much as a reproduced

print never captures the magic

of an original work of art.

The high street Galleries, at

least in the Manchester area,

seem to promote, exhibit, or

hold in stock, similar or more

accurately the same genre

of art as each other. It is not

uncommon to see the same

artist with various examples

of work on the walls at almost

every one of the established

high street galleries.

To be fair to these galleries,

it is not easy to finance and

maintain an art business today,

let alone make a profit.

So it’s not that surprising that

these commercial galleries

tend to go for a ‘safe sell’ with

proven subjects. Things are

changing as alternative spaces

for art are populated by the

artists that are unrepresented

on the high street. Which is

good to see.

Hopefully these new spaces will

open a door or two for unknown

artists, and the high street

galleries will begin to take

notice and take a risk on some

new contemporary subject

matter in due course.

For now, the physical spaces

left over from the industrial

North are being utilised

by these artists or groups.

Affordable rents are quantified

by the physical effort the

leaseholder has to put in

to make them presentable.

There is so much diversity and

talent to choose from at the

moment that the gallery single

genre concept, to many outside

of the area, are confused by it.

The dynamic change of the

architectural environment and

the life style of people is evident

in the northern conurbation

and this is slowly resulting in

a broader taste of the general

public. As the nostalgia subject

quickly loses its appeal to

a younger generation. Of

course this is all outside of

the world of the Art collector,

who measures, what is termed

‘Northern Art,’ perhaps as risky

long term financial investment.

Particularly if the work is not

signed by any of the acclaimed

Artists from the North.

Maybe a wider strategy may

result in an even bigger &

booming creative visual arts

sector? Perhaps exhibiting art

that is still regionally aware, yet

experimental, even risk taking,

or exciting, rather than the safe

traditional Northern subject

matter, is the way forward for

artists and galleries into middle

to early years of the 21st

century. Let’s hope so.

In keeping with the words of

advise from that wise man

from way back in 1981.

2017 will see this magazine

bringing you much more......

we’ll be taking a look at all

points of the compass.

And thus developing the

editorial pages to bring the

reader paintings and art stories

from much further afield, with

something new or different art

by authentic artists who are

in our opinion, exceptionally

gifted in painting.

Denis Taylor Editor.


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in the studio with...

...Ian Norris


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“...the local train from Manchester to Preston arrived on time, it was 10.30 am and within

a few minutes Ian Norris appeared in front of me. Although we had only spoken via email,

Face Book profiles enable easy face recognition with real life meet ups. Ian had kindly

offered to pick me up in what he called his mobile studio (a medium sized van).”

Before too long we approached his home

having first drove past a wonderful old

building next to a church, which Ian had

pointed to the bay window on the top floor

as being his ‘next’ studio.

“It’s larger than the one I have at

present, that will enable me to ‘up the

size’ of canvas.”

He said in response to our tentative

driving-chat about ‘size’ of work

and how a larger canvas enables a

greater physical and perhaps deeper

psychological involvement whilst painting.

The advantage of being a painter, when

interviewing another painter is that it

doesn’t take any time at all to be on the

same wavelength, especially when it

comes to creating real Art. And so, with

little time was wasted in ‘getting to know

each other’ with normal polite discourse

could get right down to the important

stuff, which we did, even as the kettle was

boiling for a welcomed cup of tea.

I’d noticed that Ian has a number of other

artists work that he admires dotted about

on the walls of his home...

“...I tend not to put my own work up

on the walls at home, just in case I’m

tempted to take them down again to

change them.”

(a feeling that most panters would recognise

as something that we can be tempted to do).


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“You can destroy original vitality of a

work by post-mortem changes and

maybe the record of how you were as

an artist, of when you created it.”

I said to him to justify his reasoning.

He suggested we walk down the

garden path to his studio and I took my

cup of tea with me.

The studio is a converted out house,

from a size point of view it was

reasonable. The light was good and

he had organised the space efficiently

into areas of working, viewing his own

work and being able to read and seek

answers from his large collection of Art

books. These covered the era of Art

and Artists, that he much admires.

I commented on the ‘tidiness’ of the

space to which he smiled and told me

he had ‘a tidy up’ before I arrived,

at which point we both gave a long and

knowing laugh...

.

These first paragraphs set the tone for

the three hour interesting discussion

that covered the last few years of Ian’s

work which began with

a brave decision to give up his ‘day

job’ and paint on a full time basis.

A decision that his partner wasn’t

totally convinced was such a good

idea. “It takes courage to be an Artist”.

Knowledge of that famous artist

statement must have been forefront

in mind as Ian courageously gave up

a lucrative guaranteed income and

pitched his lot into creating Art.

Thus began his own personal journey

into what may be called the “agony of

creative enjoyment” It’s perverse how

creating something wonderful can be,

at times agonising, like giving birth to

a child I imagine.

Ian is almost a classicist in the way he

prepares his subject matter.

Study, then more study with exacting

sketches, made (usually) in charcoal.

Perhaps this is his ‘getting to know

the subject’ period in intimate detail,

“the spring, the summer, the chlding autumn, the angy winter.”


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“what is the main reason

behind the last series of

painting?”

which to me is obviously the objective.

A practice that, theoretically at least,

allows the painter the freedom to make

something that goes beyond reality and

enters the realm of a new vision. And by

which transcribes the subject, inwardly

and using only pigments on a flat surface,

Ian creates works of Art rather than

simple representations of an existing

environment. (Why do that when we have

superb digital cameras to do that job quite

adequately for us).

Ian paints in oil, a choice and feels is

the medium that fully satisfies the inner

‘need of the Artist’, more so than does

say acrylic or polymer paints. Perhaps it’s

a fluidity or rather flexibility of the colour

that certain painters prefer oil over other

mediums, it is certainly takes far more

time to fully master (and dry) than acrylics

or polymers.

A mastery of oil paint that Ian’s work

shows he has in abundance.

Ian has worked diligently to become

a painter of note and that combined

with his natural talent has gained

recognition from organisations such as

the Manchester Art Academy. He also

re-educated himself in formal art and

gained a degree from University. Even

so, he is grounded enough to understand

that institutionalised recognition and Art

Degree’s do not make one a great painter

or indeed are even necessary to become

one. It’s the work that counts and the

painters own personal measurement of

a paintings visual success that matters

most.

Like many of the excellent artists, ones

that I know or have met in the past, Ian

is his own most vocal, visceral and art

critic, which is why I think his work is so

interesting and authentic.

It’s a critical state of mind that becomes

clearer to understand in one a particular

series of work, a series we talked about in

some detail and for quite some time.

“Never so weary, never so in woe”

“Why do they run away, this is a knavery of them

to make me afeard”


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“through the house give gathering light, by the dead and drowsy fire.”

Not only of the work itself but what lay

behind them in their conception.

Initially, the prologue to these particular

paintings were other banks of work that

was exhibited at the Castlegate House

Gallery in Cumbria, “Tracing the Derwent.”

was one series. This was his second solo

show, at that gallery that sold out. The

subject matter was landscape. And, even

after many hundreds of years, landscapes

are still the most bought paintings by the

art loving public. So it’s not a complete

surprise why Ian’s wonderfully rendered

authentic canvas’s of landscapes were

so quickly snapped up by the Galleries

client list of art collectors. The Gallery did

a great job of both the catalogue and the

marketing of those particular exhibitions,

probably knowing that the ‘nature’ series

of work was collectable and therefore very

sellable.

It was after the ‘sold-out-shows’ that Ian

experienced a shock related to his health.

The shock took the form of a diagnosis

of an illness that came from nowhere.

It involved a procedure or a program of

treatment that leaves a person in state

of unbalance both psychologically and

physically. And it was a treatment that

would take time to become successful.

As is so often in circumstances like this,

Artists tends to retreat into themselves and

try desperately to alleviate their mental

stress through their Art.

It’s a sort of self-help treatment, one

which only recently is being recognised

by medical experts as a sure fire way to

help people deal with dramatic health

problems. And having gone through a

similar life changing circumstance myself,

I understood Ian’s position, his reaction to

it and the triumph of overcoming it.

Ian created a series of paintings that

would, in some way, bring him from the

brink of sort of self-reproachment, even

though he knew he was blameless. And


so he relied on one of the giants of

literature, William Shakespeare that

gave him solace. He took the story of

‘a Midsummers Night Dream’ which

had stayed in his mind since watching a

performance of the stage drama of many

years ago. He chose certain parts of the

play to set down in oil on canvas, his own

vision of what the words represented.

It could be that particular drama

highlights for us ordinary mortals, that,

“real life really is but a dream”. Perhaps

Ian saw in it the escape from reality, or at

least a deflection, that he sorely needed

at that time? Whatever the reasoning,

the paintings were important to him and

probably more important than any he had

ever created previously.

These works encompassed his whole

being at a time when he must have

felt that fate had dealt him a cruel

and fatal blow. It was after the series

was completed that his personal

disappointment to their public showing

followed. Ian felt the exhibition was short

[on reaction] of what he had expected. It

could be that the simple answer is that

the Galleries clientele did not appreciate

Shakespeare, certainly not as much as

obviously the Artist did. Even though it

was the 400th year anniversary of the

bard during the exhibition, Ian still felt

the show fell flat despite the efforts of

himself [and the Gallery] had put into it.

Most likely the artists intimate

reasonsing at the time for doing

these works were not fully shared nor

understood. Having created works

on similiar very personal lines, I can

sympathise with Ian and perhaps

suggest to him that ‘painters important’

works like these, are not always met with

an immediate positive public outcome.

More often than not, meditative art takes

time to ferment and grow in the eyes

and the hearts of the viewer of it. It’s

a steady pace which our high speed

consumer world invariably has little time

to allow that invisible artistic quality to

gain a foothold. Intially the result being

a preference to view only the surface of

the ‘image’ without the truer and deeper

meaningful value of the art work, that

resides within it to be accepted by the

viewer.

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“are you sure that we are awake. It seems to me that yet we sleep, we dream.”


12

in a way which is deliberate and

stylistically recognisable, or even

purposefully over stylized.

Some of the midsummers night

dream paintings have now been

acquired by astute buyers, and

I suspect for the very reasons

already stated; that it is their

originality, authenticity and

emotional content, that is

appreciated, but only after a slow

burn. And it is only then that the

paintings connect, perhaps faster

for those who know the hidden

story behind them, that the work

truly comes into it own.

The latest studio work is a series,

which for convenience sake, you

could call urban. It was one of

these series that

I was first attracted by and gave

me the impetus to want to visit

Ian in his studio. Not so much for

the subject itself, but the way in

which it was painted.

above: “Good Hermia, do not be so bitter

with me. I evermore did love you, Hermia.”

For me the whole bank of work certainly

isn’t a failure in any dimension at all.

These paintings hold a original reality,

they are authentic, and are something far

more than decoration on a wall. Don’t get

me wrong, decorative Art is all well and

good, but great Art has sustainability far

beyond that of a painting that may be a

pleasing image.

More than say one painted in a specific

contemporary style, or perhaps even

more common these days, one painted

The preparation methodology of

how these paintings have been

created is much the same as the

previous series, but here we see

him pushing himself to almost

carve out the very essence of

an urban existence and pushing

himself beyond the visual effects

of multi-layered coats of oil paint.

They are more aggressive, just

as Cities are, compared with

the imagined paradise of an

untainted nature and a rural

existence.

Ian told me a story of how, during

his preparatory sketch work, he

would position himself on the

roof top of a multiple storey car

park and begin to capture the

overall shapes and feel of the

City. One particular day he was

‘scolded vehemently’ by a car

park attendant who suggested ...


13

city scapes #2

“You shouldn’t be up here’” [on the roof]

It begs the question of ‘why not’? or “where better to view the City of Manchester?”

I thumbed through his sketchbooks of this ‘urban’ series which were recognisable as

Manchester City centre and was privy to view some of the ‘beginnings,’ as Ian may refer to

them. He had lined them next to each other on a support bar fixed to the studio wall which

made it interesting to see the progression of each one in turn.

One bigger canvas was positioned on the easel and was perhaps the first of what you

could say was a painting that stemmed from the former smaller experiments. The heavy

texture was evident as he had laid on layer upon layer of paint. In some parts the oil had

been scraped off and in other parts dribbles or runs of oil cascaded down the canvas.

Under all that oil paint the image still remained, not hidden but absorbed by the process

of the continual layers and scape off’s. I realised that I was viewing a painting that would

probably change considerably as Ian would relentlessly pursue obtaining a vision that fitted

his sensibilities, yet, for me I found this work perfectly finished as it was. It is a position I

have faced many times, when someone views my work, what I would consider unfinished,

others do believe is totally complete.


14

”no one artist has successfully integrated reality and abstract into one painting.”

One of the privileges of being a

creator of Art, is that it is he and

not others to decide when a work

is finished or not.

Abstract Expressionism, an art

movement now many decades old,

is still practised by many painters

today, as is impressionism, an

art style older than abstract

expressionism. Some painters

today find those two styles still suit

them well, but does holding onto

a style encourage progress as

painters? From a personal view, I

think not.

How could they when the

possibilities (and limitations) of

both those art styles must have

surely been fully explored by now.

The work of Ian Norris should

not be misinterpreted as a form

of abstract expressionism even

though many, non-artists, use

that word because they lack the

intimate knowledge of them that

do paint. It’s an annoying tendency

of the self elected art experts to

pervert words from Art History

books and to label artists to justify

their own narrative.

The Story of Modern Art, the title of

a book written by the art historian

Norbert Lynton (first published

1980 with updated reprints in

‘82,’86, ‘89, & ‘92) is one of those

books that artists tend to read over

and over and discover, between

the lines, something new each time

on reading it. In this book

Lynton, suggests, in

a one liner, that “no one artist has

successful integrated reality and

abstract into one painting.”

but that was written in 1989.

I saw that statement as challenge

and I feel that same artistic

challenge is central to Ian’s work.

Perhaps Ian’s ‘absorbing reality’

does result in abstraction and

city scapes #3

city city scapes #4 #4


15

In the 21st century all art be regarded as nonregional

& non-national, shouldn’t it?

reality integrated onto one plane?

At the very least it seems his

work is on the way to meeting

Norbert Lynton’s challenge.

We discussed Lynton’s book and

others and Ian readily agrees that

‘reading’ unbiased analysis of

past Art is a definite contributor

to the creation of future artworks

that are dynamic, new and

substantial.

So far Ian has explored nature,

he has delved into combining

emotional and literature into

his work and moved on into the

urban City subject, a subject that

seems, at present, to dominate

the walls of the high streets

commercial galleries and the

websites of independent artists

and on-line art galleries alike.

They all come under, what some

people refer to as, ‘Northern Art’

or ‘Northern School’, a title that

is both contagious to an art

loving public and to many of

todays artists, contentious, if not

vacuous and despised.

In the 21st century shouldn’t all

art be regarded as non-regional &

non-national?

Above all, Art should not be

given any form of label, which

narrows its audience down to a

specific type of person, but rather

be variable and choose subject

matters for the many tastes.

Art cannot be created as if it were

a can of tomato soup, same,

same, but in 57 different flavours.

But hey, that’s a whole different

artists debate, one that I am sure

my fellow artists will present in

convincing and separate logical

arguments, both for and against

the idea of labelling paintings or

artists as a member of a school

city scapes #5

or as being a this, or a that sort of Artist . It remains to be

seen what direction Ian will take in the future. A dramatic

change may well occur as he moves into his new space in

that bay windowed building, the one that he pointed out to

me.

And as he said, in his ‘mobile’ studio (the van), he can

now ‘increase the size of the canvas,’ because he has the

space that will handle them comfortably.

It is perhaps natural that subject, method of working and

style or application of paint will change. Perhaps, not at

first, but slowly and surely and in Ian’s case, it will be

the result of much thinking, reading and having inward

frank discussions with himself, of that I am sure. It will be

interesting to witness as 2017 rolls by as to exactly what

those possible changes will be visualized like. Perhaps it

would be a good idea for me to go back to his home town

in a year or so and partake in another cup of tea?

I do hope I have the opportunity to do exactly that.

Denis Taylor was in the studio with...

Ian Norris, Preston Studio (16th November 2016).


16

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17

in this issue ‘Spike’ our

resident culture critic,

is talking about the most

detested (and the wealthiest)

painter of the 20th Century.

The one and only, the

incredible Mr Tretchikoff...

a painter, who was attacked, derided and

admonished for most of his life.

An artist who proved them all wrong right

up to his death at 92 years old.

It’s an odd thing that when the art critics decide to

rubbish an artist, they really do go for the throat. Like

a pack of dogs hunting a fox.

Egged on by their own superiority complex and

the metaphorical whistles of their masters, the art

institutions. In this particular case the Fox fooled

them completely by his mastery and knowing the

complex map of humanity. And he was cock sure

what direction he should take.

Meanwhile the dogs followed the well trodden road

marked by the artistic sign posts on a path of a self

proclaimed superior cultural knowledge.

The Artist in question is Vladimir Tretchikoff and

you will be forgiven for not knowing his name, but

perhaps you will know of one of his paintings the

Green Lady, also known as the Chinese Girl.

This painting hypereal, (almost surreal) portrait was

the highest selling reproduction in the world, bar

none and the most hated by the art elite’s and art

critics alike. If not now, then most certainly from

1953 to the early 1980’s.

I am getting a clear vision of a bunch of culture

journalists, huddled in a dark corner of a pub in

Islington (London), groaning over the fact that the

original ‘Green Lady’ just sold to a South African art

collector for closing in on a million quid.


18

“Chinese Girl” 1951

Tretchikoff once said that the only thing

different between him and Vincent Van Gogh, was

that... “..he was poor, and I am rich.”


19

The artist once said the only thing different

between him and Vincent van Gogh was that

Vincent was poor and he was rich.

A statement that did nothing to endear him to

the Art Museums or public Art Galleries in the

UK, who never bought any of his art work.

His story as an Artist is perhaps unique, his

story as a human being is certainly different

enough from the rest of us to wonder how he

survived at all.

Born in a community (sect) of spiritual

christians known as Molokans, whose main

philosophy is best summed up by an old

proverb they abided by, “Work hard as if you

were to live forever, do good as if you were

to die tomorrow.” Conservative in outlook the

religious group frowned on drinking booze

and smoking. The crux of their faith was

that they believed all humans were equal as

brothers and sisters through Christ. Freedom

of will was of prime importance to the

Molokans. Apart from the non- smoking and

drinking clauses, they don’t sound too bad a

bunch to me. But to the Russian authorities

their preaching that ‘war was a deadly sin’

sort of pissed them off and the Molokans fled

from the fighting that ensued with the Russian

revolution.

They landed in Manchuria (China). Tretchikoff

took his natural gift for art and used it to earn

a living, drawing cartoons for newspapers

and later he gained a position as an illustrator

for an advertising agency. But it was because

of his work for British propaganda department

that got him in trouble.

When the Japanese Empire invaded

Singapore in 1941 he was evacuated.

His evacuation ship was torpedoed and sunk.

He managed to survive by scrambling aboard

a life raft. The raft drifted for weeks before

landing in Java. The Japanese had by then

overtook that country too and Tretchikoff

became a prisoner of War. His family, who

had escaped safely weeks before Vladimir

had done, presumed him dead.

After he was released from the prison camp,

he found himself in the safe haven of South

Africa and it was here that he produced

portraits which, one presumes, he was pretty

good at, as this became his mainstay for

pictured above: Monika Pon-su-san, the model

for the Chinese girl seen here in 2016 - reunited

with the painting the first time since 1951.

all images ©artbookspublishing 2013


20

“Ndebele Woman.” -1959

“Balinese Girl.” -1959

income. With a back story like this you

would of thought the Art World would

have opened their arms to him, as a

sort of artistic hero. And in Cape Town,

they kinda did (if no where else). His

first major exhibition was in 1948 and for

twenty or so years his reputation as a

fine artist grew exponentially. In the very

early 1960’s he had a show mounted in

the shop for the well off middle class of

London, Harrods. This drew thousands

of visitors. It was at this point the art

critics began their attacks, calling him the

“master of suburban kitsch” - compared

to other verbal abuses he endured that

was quite mild.

Tretchikoff though, shrugged them all off

with typical Russian bravado, an attitude

that only a person who has experienced

encounters with the real threat of actual

death could possibly do. “I eat critics

for breakfast,” he’d say and retaliate

by pronouncing all his critics as “failed

artists.”

The distance of history gives us the

pleasure of imaging the envy and the

loathing that some of these art journalist

must have gone through, especially

when faced with an Art which railed

against the trend of the time. Modern,

[the new art], which had by then become

accepted and which dominated the

contemporary art world was the global

movement ‘Pop Art’ spearheaded by

Andy Warhol.

It’s ironic that Vladimir actually

succeeded in the early ambitions of

Warhol to bring Art into the realm of the

common people (and out of the hands

of the elitists). Warhol failed miserably

with this self same appointed mission,

because he allowed himself to be

absorbed by the ‘cool’ set of NYC and

the culture media of the Art Institutions

of Europe.

They must have saw in Andy an answer

for their own agenda. One of creating

an homogenous cultural world they

controlled, in preparation perhaps for a

New World Political Order.

Which, in our own century we have seen

to have totally failed (for humankind)


21

“Zulu Girl.”-1959 “Miss Wong.” 1959

with a dogma that has begun to

unravel slowly as ordinary people have

woken up to the fact that they have

not benefitted from it, in fact quite the

reverse has happened.

It was the commonality of the Chinese

girl image that cemented Tretchikoff as

the world most sold and most hated of

all painters (and the richest)

of the 20th century. When he visited the

USA he mounted an exhibition to show

his stuff, he sold the Chinese girl to a

private collector.

Being a street wise guy he had carefully

taken a copy of it. It was this paintings

that was reproduced by the millions

and sold in high street shop empires

(such as: Woolworths in the UK) for

a quid a print. That green face, and

other Tretchikoff’s ladies would soon

be looking down on middle class

households as the backdrop to a

suburban new life of supper parties,

smart functional designed furniture and

the painted white walls of the 1950’s

and all through to the 1980’s.

“...I eat critics for breakfast. They

are, he said, “failed artists”

Even inside the down trodden North of

England, with their vast council home

estates built by enthusiastic Socialist

local politicians, were decorated proudly

by the Green Lady.

It became a sort of symbol of modernity

and global awareness of the exotic life

outside of Great Britain.

The more that the ‘ordinary’ people liked

Tretchikoff, paintings the more the Art

snobs hated him.

We see a similar situation today with

the bizarre Turner Prize - which J.M.W

Turner could never win, even if he was

alive today. And yet it was the ‘Post-

Modernists’ belief in resurrecting and

copying past artists work, that sort of

gave Tretchikoff an extended artistic life.

‘Kitsch’ had become the new cool.

all images ©artbookspublishing 2013


all images ©artb

22

For example Artists such as Odd Nedrum

who painted, what Nedrum himself named

the ‘Kitsch’ style, has sold his paintings for

astonishing amounts of money in NYC. In

the UK the London new designer in crowd

decorated their million pound apartments

with colour prints of many of Tretchikoff’s

portraits.

He gained a whole new trendy fan base.

The untrained naturally gifted Russian

Artist from the middle of nowhere in

Siberia, was once again, for the second

time, the King of Kings Road and London

SW1.

Even Tretchikoff himself was completely

dumbfounded by his sustained popularity.

To a lesser extent the negative attitude Art

Institutions still have to ‘natural born’ nonart

educated artists such as Tretchikoff, who

haven’t taken the predetermined road map of

artistic qualification, are still, usually, ignored.

These unfairly ignored artists fall into the trap,

as Tretchikoff did, of measuring their own

success [as an Artist] by Money.

A mind set that many unscrupulous Vanity

Galleries take advantage of.

Vladimir would have disapproved of the

practise. I am sure and suspect his advise

to many of the ‘ignored’ talented painters of

today, would simply to say to them...don’t ask

for help...get working, do it yourself !


23

left: photograph of: Wayne Hemmingway, a renown

designer, reads a newspaper below the large reproduction

of “Lady from the Orient.” installed at his home in

London, UK.

Wayne has been a life long fan of Tretchikoff ever since

his grandmother had a print of this artist in her home in

Preston, Lancashire.

ookspublishing2013

Vladimir Tretchikoff c.1913 to 2016

If you would like to discover more about the life and

work of this painter then we can recommend the book:

“Incredible Tretchikoff” -

Life of an Artist and Adventurer. Written by Boris Gorelik

and published by:www.artbookspublishing.co.uk

ISBN:978-1-908970-08-4

Art Book Publishing.co.uk - ISBN 978-1-908970-08-4


24

Wright Marshall

Fine Art Auctioneers

Forthcoming sale

Saturday 11th February 2017

Northern Art and Modern & Contemporary Art

(entry deadline 16th January)

L.S.Lowry RA (British, 1887-1976. ‘A country landscape

with buildings’ pencil drawing. Estimate £5,000-8000

Theodore Major (British 1908-1999) ‘Snow in the

wood’ oil on canvas. £8,000 -10,000

Harold Riley (British .b.1934) ‘Empire’ pastel.

Estimate £1.500 -2,000

Brian Shields “Braaq” FBA (British 1951-1997) ‘The Boat Lake’ oil

on board £2000 -3,000

For further information contact Nick Hall

nickhall@wrightmarshall.co.uk

Knutsford Salesroom 01565 653284


25

photograph of Alex Reuben outside his new gallery space.©2016 Lee Harrison

Alex Reuben up sticks and moves

to a cool new space in Central

Manchester...

..the 30 something year old, Alex Reuben, has moved to a new space from the

first gallery he opened in 2010 in central Manchester...


26

...When we dropped by to visit Alex

he was stressing about the road works

outside of his new premises. The workers

were placing tracks for the expanding tram

system that services central and all parts

of Greater Manchester. “They think it will

be done in a week or two.” He said with his

fingers crossed. Contemporary Six had its

grand opening exhibition on the15th December

2016. The proud owner of the new

space explained that the reason for the

move was partly due to the success that

he had experienced at his former space

(the parade between Cross Street and St

Annes Square) had given him the encouragement

to spread his wings, metaphorically

speaking.

“I still think of myself as a sort of a newbie

as a gallerist..”

Alex said, in his typical modest manner,

but make no mistake, he is fully aware of

what is what, in the very small world of the

Manchester contemporary commercial

gallery scene.

guided him into the paths of artists who

created work that he not only admired, but

had proven to be winners, certainly as far

as sales were concerned.

Rearmed and rethought the Gallery started

to become known with the buying public.

The position of this first Gallery gave

him ‘passing-traffic’ and the glass fronted

double windows provided an enticement

for the passers by to walk in. Alex also

made a point of understanding his artists

in depth, by having regular social meetings

and being sympathetic to the ‘production’

rate of quality work rather than pressing

them for paintings in quantity.

A mistake many Galleries in the past, have

been very guilty of.

It was with this balanced approach that he

began planning his next big move, which

became a reality this year.

He was educated at Handsworth School

(in the midlands) and went on to achieve a

BA degree at Leeds Metro University.

He then worked for Moss Bros for a couple

of years and saved every penny he could

to realise his dream of opening his very

own Art Gallery, which he did in 2010.

His other ambition, as a Artist himself,

took second place to showing other artists

work. He discovered that he had not only a

gift for doing precisiely that, but also loved

doing it. His first shot at being

a modern gallerist however, fell a little flat.

“I showed more advanced art, from all over

Europe, and it didn’t go down too well with

the visitors who came into the Gallery.”

He was wise enough to seek words of

advise from two of the legendary Gallery

owners in the North of England, (Wendy

Levy of Levy Gallery in Didsbury and Dave

Gunning of Todmorden Gallery). Both of

whom were more than happy to provide

him with pearls of wisdom and maybe

Alex inside the new gallery.

Photograph: ©painterstubes 11/2016


27

The new Gallery is represents

the continuing story of success

for Alex. He told us of his plan to

use the ‘extra’ space downstairs

in the cellar after he had completed

the

extensive make over for ‘special

exhibitions. We visited the gallery

when it was partly finished.

This is specifically for special

exhibitions. It would be a refreshing

change to see some

strong contemporary work, be

it figurative or abstract. Work

which would reflect the dynamic

force that is showing the seismic

changes from a dour industrial

landscapes and decaying architecture

of the 20th century

to the new exiciting structures

that are sprouting up all over the

City, not to mention the cultural

change and sophistication of the

inhabitants.

photograph of the opening night, ©2016 Lee Harrison photos.

photograph of the opening night, ©2016 Lee Harrison photos.


28

Alex with a client at the opening exhibition.Photo ©2016 Lee Harrison Photography

For now, Alex Reuben and Contemporary Six Gallery seem destined to

become one of the leading Art venues in Manchester.

And from what we hear through the grapevine, the opening exhibition of the

15th December, was a great success and even the Lord Mayor of

Manchester turned up in support to wish the business all the best for

2017.....Andy Burnham take please take note.

Contemporary Six Gallery, 37 Princess Street, Manchester.

www.contemporaysix.co.uk

email: alex@contemporarysix.co.uk

telephone +44 (0)161 835 2666


New Exhibition & Book

Review

Gateway Hale, Cheshire, 17th November 2016

“the Northern School a reappraisal”

29


30

The anniversary of the opening of Gateway

Gallery in Hale, Cheshire, was celebrated with

a large Exhibition entitled “the Northern School

a re-appraisal” - The show took the name

for the launch of the book, written by Martin

Regan, a Director of the Gallery.

Martin is responsible for choosing and advising

on the style of Art shown with his co-Director

Susan Eyres, looking after the running of the

Gallery and handling adminstration. Both have

a passion for Art and both have been avid collectors

of paintings, generally inspired from the

Northern art genre. The Gallery premises is a

good space which has two floors, whilst the top

floor is not perfect for showing perhaps larger

paintings, it is utilised for ‘special’ shows which

are mounted regularly for the new intake of

gallery artists giving them a solo exhibition.

It’s a well appointed modern gallery and as you

would expect from experienced

entrepreneurs, the gallery is professional in its

outlook. It prides itself on giving Art collectors

honest and up to date information on investments

in the Galleries chosen genre of Art.

Although they also keep one eye open for new

work that they feel is in keeping with their own

profile. Susan Eyres is a delightful person, who

really feels for art in a genuine and sincere way.

Martin, who at 54, is also well versed in the

publishing business, not only from his time

when he was a founder Director of the Excel

Publishing Company in Manchester, but he

also keeps his finger on the cultural pulse with

the Cheshire Today magazine which he is the

Director and Editor for. He originally opened

a private Art Gallery, with the same name

(Gateway), in Macclesfield in 2011.

It was here he exhibited a variety of work that

he had collected over a period of time, mostly

by well known artists, like Peter Howson

above: Sue Eyres in the gallery admiring the work of

Theordore Major. painting entitled: “the kebs”.

photo:©painterstubes


31

for example and then introduced new local

artists, with the likes of Ben Kelly and Dean

Entwistle.

As you might anticipate from the

introduction of the Directors above, the exhibition

was curated as a mixture of art gleaned

from the Directors private collection and the

Galleries stable of Artists. In the mix were

works selected from Valette, Theodore Major,

W.R.Turner and living established artist,

(Geoffrey Key and Steve Capper).

I was very pleased to have had the

opportunity to engage with a quick chat with

the latter, as they both attended the same

art school as myself. Although our conversation

was more about the personality of the

headmaster and some of the teachers at the

school, than it was about the Art on that was

being exhibited.

Many of the (younger) artists who’s work

were on show in the gallery were stylistically,

an eclectic mix too. A few stood out from the

rest, Steve Bewsher was one painter who’s

work is based on the currently ‘ubiquitous

views’ of the changing urban landscape in

Manchester. Although I felt he could well

create some really interesting contemporary

abstraction paintings in the future.

I was also intrigued by some naive, semiabstracted

canvas’s by Ben Kelly.

“pennie road.” ©stevecapper

“guitarists with Arches.” ©geoffreykey

“Rubble with

Visqueen”

©stevebewsher


32

And of course I took full advantage of being

able to get really close (within 6mm) to one

or two paintings by Theodore Major, in the

hope of examining his brush work, was a

rare chance to ‘feel’ how Major worked and in

detail.

Steve Capper, with his unmistakeable style,

had a few larger works up on the wall as did

Geoff Key, who’s examples of work seems to

be in every single gallery in the North West

of England at the moment. Another unfamiliar

artist to me, who’s work was dotted around

the gallery, was Helen Clapcott. She paints

in muted hues, bordering on mono-coloured,

mainly with detailed compositions of terraced

houses or industrial buildings. And who is

no doubt one of Martin’s favourite painters,

as one of her works was chosen as the front

cover and featured many full pages of her

work in his book.

The show was very well attended, this however,

rarely gives space for viewing art, most

opening nights in private galleries are like

that. They are not about looking at the work

on show per se. Generally, it’s about meeting

the artists or enjoying a glass (or three)

of wine and snacking on the goodies. Which

in this case, were quite wonderfully served

and prepared by Susan Eyres sister and her

crew. (btw, the mini Bakalava’s were delicious).

Of course this opening was slightly

different to normal art exhibitions, as it was

clear that the evening was all about the

launch of Martin Regan’s book. I had placed

an advanced order for a copy of it, which

Susan had reserved for me. Although to be

honest there was more than enough of them

for the exhibitions visitors to go around, so I

needn’t have worried.

All in all, it was a very good exhibition, yet

when a Gallery does try and mix the dead

with iving (artists), there is always something

in the air, something for me that is inexplicably

saddening - for the want of another more

suitable description of it. Perhaps you could

call it an invisible melancholy that overcomes

me. That’s the trouble with Artists - many

are not only temperamental, but sentimental,

simultaneously - well, some of us are.

“doing deals (Spinnigfields)” ©BenKelly

Gateway Gallery 116 Ashley Road, Hale.

+44 (0) 161 928 7884.

www.gateway-gallery.co.uk


33

Book Review

the Northern School -

A Reappraisal by Martin Regan

Published by Gateway Gallery Hale.

195 pages with 131 colour illustrations

/photographs - 90 being full pages

book size: 17cm x 23cm

Martin Regan, known for his lively polemic

style of debate in the small world of the

contemporary art community in the greater

Manchester area, passionately attempts to

tackle a new appraisal of what many call ‘the

Northern School’ and to what many others

prefer to use the generic tag,

of Northern Art -


34

“I’m an Artist, that just

happens to live and paint

in the North”

Many international minded artists are

bewilded by the fact that Art labels for

contemporary art still exist in the 21st century,

but it’s not that surprising in the North of

England. Especially when one considers that

the business side of the commercial galleries

depend on a ‘special’ status for painters from

the North of England, ones that is bestowed

on by Gallerists. Perhaps this is to convey this

‘specialness’ to a wider public? Maybe it’s

also to encourage art collectors to believe in a

long term advantage in owning a painting by

one or more of the artists that are seemingly

grouped randomly within this ‘school’ or genre?

Qualification for membership of being given this

label that many artists neither seek, nor want

any association with (from brief discussions the

reviewer has had with a few artists currently

working in the area today), “typically they’ll

say...”I’m an Artist that just happens to live and

paint in the North”

However, Martin Regan seems incredibly

passionate about ‘Northern’ art - especially

his hero, L.S Lowry, whom he always refers

to as ‘the great Man’ - And which may give

the impression, that his opinion on Art could

almost border on Northern Art myopia. One

which may well override any wider discussion

about Art that one could hold with him on a

wider platform. Yet the dubious subject of

‘questioning’ the historical existence of a

Northern School of Artists today. or at all, he

questions himself in the introduction.

L.S.lowry painted by W. R.Turner

©privatecollection

Of course this is not the first, nor probably will it

be the last, that goes out of its way to promote

or highlight ‘Northern Art’ and ‘Northern Artists’.

Another Gallery, literally a stones throw away

from the authors own Gallery, has also recently

sponsored an artist and writer (Peter Davies) to

‘re-write’ a book on Northern Art, from one that

was first published and written by him in 1989.

This new version is entitled ‘Northern Art

Revisited’ and is also published by Clark Art

Limited. ‘the Norther School - a reappraisalthe

author says, attempts to fill the gaps that,

that book and other books on the same subject

have missed out on.


35

To fans of the Northern Art scene, Martin

Regan’s book has been long in the waiting for.

The author spells out in the ackowledgements

page how, five years of numerous false starts,

contributed to his lapse of completing it. And

one can understand that delay. Taking on

a subject matter like this relies heavily on

ones own opinions and maybe even personal

experiences. Experience that can be then

woven around historical facts in justification of

those opinions, which a tricky

task to say the least.

The history part of that conundrum is handled

diligently by the author in three general

chapters (Valette and the Post Impressionists,

Sickert and the Expressionists, St Ives and

the North) and four specific chapters of named

artists. (Edgar Rowley Smart, Harry Rutherford,

Theodore Major and William Ralph Turner).

It was in those chapters that I started to feel

distinctly uneasy about the tone of the book.

The author highlights personality flaws in Major

and Turner without any mention of the human

personality flaws that L.S. Lowry undoubtably

had. It’s as if the author wants to elevate his

‘hero’ above all ‘others’ - Yet, there are people

who hold the opinion, that these two artists

(Major and W.R.Turner) are just as ‘important’

if not, indeed more progressive artists, than

Lowry ever was. A subjective opinion perhaps,

that once again raises it’s head in the ‘who

was the better artist’ debate of which there are

several reasonable and well formed arguments

for and against all three of them. Alas that

discussion is not to be found in this book as it

is more of one man documentary than it is to

stimulate any group discussion.

Which brings me onto the reasoning for art

books and their publication. I’m not unlike many

independent painters, that have a library of art

books. It’s as you grow as a person and as an

artist, that you do tend to read and absorb a

whole variety of authors viewpoints who have

written about art and artists, some books about

artists work that are not really favoured or

even liked. It is one way ‘painters’ can inwardly

change and discover the underlying process

of their own artistic thinking and consequently

help to create new and different work. I

began to ask myself if this book, or indeed

the Peter Davies ‘revisited’ book, could ever

be put alongside others on my prized art

book shelf.

If there was one thing against that positioning

it was the over riding feeling that both these

books are part of an overall marketing

strategy of the respective galleries who

published them. A cynical viewpoint maybe,

but one reinforced by the frequent quoting

of names of Artists that the galleries already

have in their stable. It was this re-occurring

thought that made this book hard to enjoy

and a bit of a slog to read. Because once you

identify that undercurrent

as a possible reason for the books creation,

it’s difficult to dismiss it as unfounded, the

further you read.

Overall, I believe the author has worked

hard to realise this book. It’s a fact that

writing any book on Art is extremely difficult

and something of a personal challenge.

It is fraught with the danger of subjective

judgement and populated by barriers to

overcome concerning fighting yourself to

be as unbiased as you can. And to keep an

open mind on other artists work.

Art that one may not personally think

are either viable or contributory to the

contemporary art world, or even in sympathy

with the kaleidoscope of current taste. It is

also difficult to overcome pushing preferred

artists work, that is if you set out to write

a comprehensive cover of any specific

movement or genre of Art, and keep the

reader engaged. - the Northern School - a

reappraisal - falls somewhere between ‘the

twixt and the twain’ of that description. At

around twenty quid per copy, it remains

incumbent on the individual reader to

make the decision wether or not the author

has actually succeeded with an unbiased

reappraisal of this over talked-about 20th

century genre of painting.

“the Norther School- A reappraisal”

by Martin Regan

available from Gateway Gallery, Amazon & the book

shop at the Lowry Centre, Salford.


36

Published for the first time in an art magazine, painters Tubes Magazine is delighted to bring you

a fascinating essay about Contemporary Art as it appeared at the turn of the millennium.

Written by the late renown art professor and author, Nigel Whiteley for the Heart 2 Art Exhibition in

Stockholm (2002). The essay is published in two parts

Part One

The mass media thrive on spectacle

and controversy; artists create art

with those characteristics; the media

reports it. At times it seems as if the more

that artists coolly deny responsibility for

any content that involves rigour or talent,

or clear moral position, or humanist

concern beyond the narcissistic self, or

any visual quality or interest, the more

the work is hailed as ‘creative’ ‘thoughtprovoking’

‘subversive’ or, most ironically

of all, ‘intelligent’.

What is at stake here is not one style or

another, one passing fashion as opposed

to a self-congratulatory fad, but a whole

system of values about art, a whole set of

beliefs. Broadly, I am thinking in terms of

types of art which may be termed either

disaffirmative or affirmative.

By disaffirmative, I mean work that

undercuts and undermines any notions of

pleasure, enjoyment, aesthetic emotion,

spirituality or feeling of communion or

community. Disaffirmative artists want to

scupper your belief, spoil your enjoyment,

shatter your dreams or sabotage your

illusions. In this article, I want to explore

some of the underlying disaffirmative

assumptions about dominant contemporary

art, then show that fundamental

alternatives, epitomized by the affirmative

thinking is not anachronistic or irrelevant to

society today, but deeply, indeed, urgently

necessary.


To give an idea about what I mean by

contemporary disaffirmative art, I’ll focus

on the rising British star, short-listed for the

Turner Prize, Martin Creed. The inaugural

exhibition of the revamped Tate Britain in 2000

was entitled Intelligence and it featured ‘New

British Art’, including some pieces by Creed

such as Work no.74: as many 1” squares

as are necessary cut from 1” masking tape

and piled up, adhesive side down, to form

a 1” cubic stack (1992). Creed’s title was

descriptive of what the viewer encountered, a

one-inch cube comprising layer upon layer of

masking tape. Another Creed piece was Work

no.220: DON’T WORRY (1992) in which neon

writing announcing that cliché turned on/off

every second or so. The catalogue explained

how ‘The calming influence of this oft-repeated

phrase is undermined by the fact that every

other second the neon lights go off. Such

words of reassurance are often used when we

feel most anxious. Seen in the context of the

gallery, they suggest the kind of utopian role

that artists might wish for, while puncturing

any such ambition.’ A further example is Work

no.143 (1996), a neon banner of text across

the pediment of the Tate, proclaiming ‘the

whole world + the work = the whole world.’

Again, the catalogue explains that, ‘Reading

like a mission statement or artist’s manifesto,

this dictum suggests that the work of art, and

Creed’s work in particular, has no impact

whatsoever on the world.’ Creed himself

states that ‘I find it a lot easier if [the art]

negates itself at the same time as pushing

itself forward. Given that I don’t feel sure about

it, I feel a lot more comfortable if I can make it

and sort of unmake it at the same time. This

presumably explains the inspiration behind

Work no.88 which consists of a sheet of A4

paper crumpled into a ball, and exhibited, and

a small blob of Blutak placed in the middle of a

gallery wall.

The notion that art in general and the artist’s

work in particular ‘has no impact whatsoever

on the world’, or that the artists are so

uncertain about their work that they feel more

comfortable negating it, is a deeply depressing

one. It may, of course, be intended ironically

like so much art nowadays. More likely it is

having it both ways – denying the sense of

responsibility that comes with optimism; but

soaking up any applause or controversy that

comes from media coverage or public interest.

For example, in a brochure that has arrived

as I am writing this, an announcement for a

lecture by Creed at the Tate describes how

he is ‘known for the rigour and purity of his

work which often pushes the boundaries of

Conceptual Art to their limits..’ This seems

a bold claim for the self-indulgent and trite

gestures I have outlined above.

What is the relationship of Creed’s type of

work to Heart2Art? The answer: very little,

but a lot. Very little in that the concerns of

artists in this exhibition, and their vehicles for

expressing them, bear almost no relationship

to ‘New British Art’ or ‘New Swedish Art’,

or new art from the majority of countries

dominated by the values of ‘global media art’.

A lot, in that an exhibition like Intelligence

37

Mona Sahlin of the Swedish Governments Estonian Trust Fund

opened the ‘invitation only preview’ of the exhibition

on the 11th January 2002


38

is representative of many of the things that

artists in Heart2Art decry as a selling short

of the possibilities of art; even a denial of

the probability of art as an affirmative and

optimistic force in life. Of course, it is easy to

misrepresent artworks as well as intentions,

by being highly selective, and by disguising

prejudice as argument. I am willing to be

convinced otherwise about the work of Creed,

but that is not really the point. The point is

that his work is typical of a lot of art you find in

major galleries and it is broadly representative

of a value system that frequently dominates

what is perceived to be important and

interesting in contemporary practice. Seldom

does that value system get seen for what it

is a particular, optional set of assumptions

which are themselves open to question and

scrutiny; more often the values are assumed

to be inevitable, and thus beyond challenge,

especially given the (media) conditions of the

post-modern age.

The values of this type of art derive from

Marcel Duchamp, the high priest of subversive

art. However much the complexities of

Duchamp’s gestures and practices have been

reduced to a simplistic attitude of negation by

recent generations of artists and writers, the

idea that art should be disaffirmative can be

traced back to that highly influential artist. Why

was Duchamp disaffirmative? The moustache

drawn on the Mona Lisa and entitled

L.H.O.O.Q (1919) was calculated to outrage

bourgeois ‘art lovers’, while the ‘ready-mades’

such as Fountain (1917) – a urinal placed in a

gallery – may also enrage but more effectively

raise questions about the institutions of art, the

nature of creativity, fetishism of uniqueness

and the very role and function of art.

Duchamp declared that he was seeking to

avoid as much as possible ‘“pleasing” and

“attractive”’ attributes because he ‘wanted

to put art once more again at the service of

the mind.’ His reputation gained ascendancy

in the 1960s when Conceptual Art shifted

art away from a concern with the visual,

toward the philosophical, often using text

directly to interrogate the viewer about her

or his assumptions. Artists such as Joseph

Kosuth exhibited textual definitions in

place of paintings, confounding our normal

expectations. John Baldessari parodied

Greenbergian ideals about essential formal

properties and flatness by exhibiting a

canvas on which was painted the sentence

‘A Work With Only One Property’ (1966-68).

Baldessari was more uncompromisingly

disaffirmative in a work of 1972 in which he

arranged for students to write repeatedly “I

will not make any more boring art” on the

walls of a gallery. Conceptual artists used

disaffirmative strategies to try mortally to

wound art.

Conceptual Art had a major influence on a

generation of students in the late 1960s and

Nigel Whiteley with

Marianne Arnberg

discussing a painting

by Astri Edith Rygh.


39

1970s, a generation that was ‘politicized’

by the anti-Vietnam War protests and

the ferment around the upheavals of

1968. Cultural radicalism followed the

political and social radicalism, and

established itself as a central ingredient

in late twentieth century art. An aspect

of this broad tendency was summed

up by the British artist Terry Atkinson in

1987. Atkinson had been involved with

the Conceptual group ‘Art & Language’,

and their thinking had led him to the

conclusion that:-“The possibility of making

an affirmative culture today seems to me

to be... absurd”. The world’s dominant

political systems are prurient, selfregarding

and barbarously repressive.

Any cultural work that celebrates such

a world - intentionally or not - that holds

uncritically to the status quo of the

relations of production and relations

of distribution can be seen to have,

on rudimentary historical reflection, a

carefree charlatanism or - in harsher

judgement - a grotesque negligence.

Atkinson was not only articulating his

view, but formulating his version of

a disaffirmative art which, borrowing

from the ideas of the art historian T.J.

Clark, might make use of 14 ‘negating

practices’ which included ‘Deliberate

displays of painterly awkwardness...

The use of degenerate or trivial

“unartistic” materials... [and] The parody

of previously powerful styles.’ If his

art lacks quality (intentionally so, of

course), it certainly does not lack clarity

of purpose, underpinned, as it is, by his

totally uncompromising belief that ‘a lifeaffirming

art is ridiculous’ because it is

part of the same values and system that

produced Auschwitz and Hiroshima.

Atkinson represents a fundamentalist

position about the need for

disaffirmation. More widespread

since the 1980s has been art shaped

by post-structuralist thinking about

disaffirmation.Post-structuralist artworks

attempt to expose art’s assumptions

about such things as authorship and

the selfhood of the artist, authenticity

and originality, gender and race, and

the relationship between the producer

above: Denis Taylor with Nigel Whiteley at the

“heart 2 art” exhibition, just prior to opening.

and consumer. The cultural theorist Janet

Wolff has called for a post-modern practice

in the visual arts, which ‘...self-consciously

deconstructs tradition, by a variety of formal

and other techniques (parody, juxtaposition, reappropriation

of images, irony, repetition, and so

on).’ Cindy Sheridan’s ‘film still’ photographs

are examples of work which question

assumptions about narrative and personae in

relation to gender. Her stated intention is ‘...to

put the viewer on the spot and make them feel

uncomfortable, perhaps in recognition of their

expectations.’ In a series of pictures based on

‘centre-folds’, she deals with the male gaze and

its connotations of voyeurship and ownership.

The male viewer is, she writes, often a ‘violator’

with the photographs, ‘I’m trying to make

someone feel bad.’

Part Two - Affirmation Art in a Diusaffirmative

Climate will be published March-April issue.


40

“what about

the kids?”

There is a belief that: “You cannot teach anyone

to become an artist.” And there is a great deal of

substance to that view, that is if you believe Artists are

born and not made.

This debate has gone on for many decades if not

centuries, but perhaps none more so than from the

middle of the 20th century to present day. In many

ways. the valid point, that every single human on the

planet is an Artist. It’s is an argument that many Artists

make often, and it is one that the Editor

of this magazine has firmly believed in before today.

Obviously the criteria for natural or made artists has

opposite opinions and is centred on that ‘old bone’

we all chew over now then, i.e. “What is Art.” -

Intellectual theories and academic definitions don’t

really clarify the debate on that particular piece

of well chewed bone, and it probably never will.

Today, it seems that he only real option left

open to us is to simply to say “everything is Art.”

Or “as long as the object is shown in an Art

Gallery, then it must be Art”, by the very

fact that it is in a Gallery.

This neo-liberal viewpoint has perhaps led

to an Art that is more open, free and diverse,

some people have said, although many

will totally disagree.We live in a world

today that is constantly updating

itself on social media, especially on ‘likes’,

but rarely on their ‘dislikes,’ as far

as Art is concerned. Some see this

as a way to encourage, rather than

discourage any person who throws

their lot into creating Art Personally, and

as an painter, I do agree with that position, but I

can add that, pointed criticism can be delivered in

a strong yet positive way and not necessarily with

negative criticism.


41

“all my own work”

What’s all that to do with Education and Art? probably everything. It’s

clear that an academic dogma of what Art is and what Art is not,

has pervaded in the UK’s Universities and Art colleges, if not now,

then certainly over the last 30 years or so. For example, ‘painting’ has

not only been taken off most of the University curriculums, but they have

actively discouraged students to submit paintings within their portfolios

for consideration for a degree. Indeed, I have been told by at least one

parent (confidentially), that a professor told their child, categorically, that

by including ‘painting’ in their final year assessment portfolio, would lead

to automatic failure.

There may well be a change

in that ‘unofficial’ academic

policy soon, for it is clear

that ‘commercial interests’

have realized that paintings

are far better suited, as far

as turnover and regular profit

is concerned, than much of

the other forms of art can

generate. And like all things in

this world, money always talks

the loudest, unfortunateley.

Case in Point: 1947/9 to 1984.

Manchester High School of Art.

Manchester UK.

Here, I have to declare a conflict of interest .

I went to an Art School from the age of eleven years old.

And so I may be bias with my opinion in this article

(I will try very hard to be even minded).

However,I am hoping many other voices will present themselves to

contribute to this series to either substantiate my thoughts or provide

arguments that are diametrical in opposition to them.

photograph: Freddie Taylor, aged 7 years old, first orginal painting ©studio5sweden 2016


42

Children that demonstrated more than the normal

‘interest’ in creating art, ones that continued to do

so, on a year by year basis, from their first days at

elementary school, was the basis for the creation

of a specialised secondary school. This school

(one of the few in the UK) was made into a sort of

experiment by post world war two Governments.

Perhaps it was the need to nurture the natural

talent of children that would become a sort of

creative backbone for the needs of a society that

was rebuilding after the second world war that

was the main motivation behind the concept of Art

Schools for the very young..

A society that required designers and innovators

in industries such as product manufacturers,

textiles, construction and numerous new creative

industries like advertising and marketing. The

essential concept was to take selected children

from various social, ethnic, religious and economic

(classes) and provide a curriculum that was slowly

graduated from the normal academic teaching

(the 3 ‘R’s) to have a bias on creative skills as the

child progressed through the School.

The idea for the autonomous state funded MSoA

sprang from the Manchester Art College who had,

maybe by foresight, created a junior department

around 1947. The first location being Byrom Street

in the City centre. By 1950 the junior school was

renamed as the Manchester High School of Art

with an open (curriculum) mandate issued to it’s

first (and only) headmaster, Earnest. A. Goodman

(OBE). 1955 saw the introduction of what is

now the infamous, ‘eleven plus’ examination,

which graded children in three main categories

- Secondary, High and Grammar levels. The

Secondary school level could well be seen as

a ‘factory-labour’ supply chain, the High School

stream, as middle management providers and the

Grammar School stream as the management and

industry leaders and decision makers.

A system that clung onto the Victoria values of

‘class’ and ‘social status’ that ‘controlled’ how

society functioned in the UK from the 1800’s and

had proved itself (Governments and the ruling

class) to be successful. The MSoA was graded

as a High School because there wasn’t really an

actual yard stick to measure how it would perform.

the Manchester High School of

Art, Cheetham Hill, Manchester.

In the background the tower of

Strangeways Prison.

The middle grade option, must have seemed a

reasonable fair bet at the time. The School was


43

relocated to it’s own premises in a former

Magistrates administration building opposite the

City’s main prison, Strangeways, in Cheetham

Hill, Manchester, a stones throw from the city

Centre. The centralisation of location was

important as the prospective pupils would be

gleaned from all the extended Manchester City

council borders that was within reach of the

public transport system. Pupils were chosen,

or recommended by the teachers from, multireligious,

specific-religious and official Church

of England state funded or private Schools.

One pupil (in general) from each school from

each district of Manchester was the overall

modus operandi that was used.

This was a difficult choice for some right and

left winged thinkers at the time. They saw

conflict of culture in mixed relgious schooling,

not integration of cultural thinking as a threat

to a future society. More so than a beneficial

contribution to it. A fear that was to be proved

totally unfounded throughout the course of

the Schools existence. In fact, the reverse

happened, as the pupils became united by the

School badge of ‘Exploramus’ and as being

equal and fellow artists.

the Art School badge with the motto which

was the School’s founding principle.

The School was finally forced to close in

1984 by the local Government as it was

viewed as ‘elitist’ and went against the

general comprehensive education dogma

of the time.

Mr Goodman and his staff were obviously in

advance of 21st century thinkers of even today,

who only now are re-thinking the education

system in the UK. His way of thinking is one that

Schools should perhaps seriously ponder on.

And consider what kind of Schooling is the way

forward, one which will unite and encourage a

better society where all citizens see each other

as equal members. The MSoA proved that

having grown together from a young age, to

respect each others personal choice, through

Art Education. This extends into respecting a

belief in one God or another or not, as may be

the case. From the evidence we see, especially

today, I fear that is not the position in the UK or

the rest of Europe. or indeed, most parts of the

Western World and beyond, more’s the pity.

Perhaps Art in education should not be seen

as creating Artists, but as a vital ingrediant

to nuture a more balanced and even mided

indiviudal, one that will contribute to enrich our

and develop the whole of society.

Denis Taylor. Editor.


44

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