Sunday, 25 August 2013

Miro at the train station

On holiday (vacation) in Puerto Pollensa on the island of Majorca, we decided after a few days relaxing in the sun to take a trip through the mountains to the north coast of this beautiful island. We stopped at the wonderful Lluc Monastery the spiritual heart of the island. It always amazes that people without any faith who never step foot in a church will happily pile into churches and religious sites while on holiday, but thats another story.

After a couple of short stops we reached Port Soller, a delightful coastal town on the north coast of the island. The town is known for its charming position surrounded by high mountains, orange groves and its delightful harbour. Majorca has been a favorite destination for Brits since the 1960's and flights to the sun first became affordable to the masses. This is the less developed part of Majorca with none of the large hotels and apartment blocks.

Harbour side Restaurant in Port Soller 

Port Soller is linked by an old tram with the town of the same name a mile or two inland. The plan was to transfer from the tram onto the scenic railway that would take us back through the mountains towards the city of Palma. The tram clattered and wobbled it's way through the orange and lemon groves into the town of Soller and the journey ended at the railway station, where we were informed we would have to wait an hour for the train to depart. So finding we had an hour to kill in the Soller we started to walk back down into the centre of town in the 30C heat. It was then I spotted a poster showing unmistakable Miro work outside the station.

The town of Soller surrounded by high mountains

I thought "surely not".. an exhibition of Miro works in the train station ? But there they were inside the train station in what was probably once a waiting room. And not only that there was a separate exhibition of Picasso ceramics in another room. (I have to admit I'm not a massive fan of Picasso) Either of these collections would warrant a major show in London with security, massive queues and big big publicity but here they were almost unnoticed by the majority of folks waiting for the train in this small sleepy town in northern Majorca.

Miro's work is almost synonymous with modern Spain and he is unique in being an artist whose work has somehow taken on a life of its own. It doesn't appear dated. Miro and Gaudi are the two artists who we have come to be identifiedwith modern Spain, and especially the great city of Barcelona.

He created the "Espana" logo widely copied adapted for Spanish tourist brochures around  the world.  

Could you imagine an important exhibition of art works at some small town rail station in Britain or the States ? I love exhibitions in random non art locations, I tried to arrange an exhibition this year at Preston Bus Station but the powers that be seem intent on knocking it down.. the fools. (But that is also another story) So these show's ticked boxes for me. 

So if you are in Majorca and want to get away from the holiday crowds its definitely worth a visit to Soller station.

The trip back via the mountain railway is also spectacular.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Marc Chagall at Liverpool Tate.

Twenty years ago I had to travel to London to see Chagall’s work exhibited now he has moved nearer and come to Liverpool. In another twenty years maybe he'll be showing next door ?

Having spent most of my life in the 20th century, 21st century orientated folks will have to excuse my going on about Chagall. For reasons I barely understand I never tire of his work. It's hard to say anything new, for me it's like visiting an old friend..

There's a nice quote on the wall in the gallery attributed to Picasso
 "When Matisse dies Chagall will be the only artist who knows what colour is."  

He was "dead" right. I always feel the need to get in close to Chagall's work... and get my head round the logic of the illogical. From a distance things looks like a church, a person, a house, but up close they often make little sense visually. The eye is led a merry dance. Why should a guy who mainly painted Russian Jewish peasant life have such a hold on my/our imagination ? Not many Jewish Russian peasants at the show.

Some folks have a song or music as the anthem to their lives, but for us this role is probably played by Chagall. The artist with his love flying above his head while holding her hand was made for us, but in reverse. Chagall doesn't care if the line is scratched, the forms don't make sense and the colour isn't flat and neither do I, so maybe that's a part if it. It seems an insult to analyse his work by any conventional artistic standard.

Chagall is to Russia what Warhol is to the USA. At first it’s like looking at the pieces of a unmade jigsaw but magically over time the whole thing comes together. The sum is greater than the individual parts. Don't look too long, Chagall gets under your skin. Months later you will see a pic and know instantly he painted it. Go and have a look !

He doesn't preach, he isn't overtly political, arrogant or sentimental.  His works goes against the current prevailing tyranny of photographic realism that cries out from all directions from every advertising hoarding and TV commercial. Chagall just is. I would happily hang a Chagall pic on my wall.

Which brings me on nicely to.. I'm not sure what the rest of Liverpool Tate is about. On the ground floor there was something about “Hangmen” I looked into for 30 seconds. I didn't see any Hangmen but maybe I didn't look hard enough.

How have visual art venues been hijacked by this stuff ? I'm all for experiments but I’ve been seeing similar obscure visual experiments in the majority of galleries for 40-50 yrs now. In what way is this still breaking boundaries or experimental ?

I suspect Duchamp understood he was on a road to nowhere and decided to do other things.

How did this “Cult of Obscurism” take over almost every gallery ? And why not theatres, cinema's, science labs or music venues ? Did Karl Heinz Stockhausen take over the Royal Albert Hall to the almost complete exclusion of all other forms of music? Did Beckett and his followers take over all the West End theatres ? No.. so why has this stuff taken over so many galleries ? IMO it's plain weird.

I get the impression if grant funding was withdrawn (austerity could have an upside) the whole lot would vanish overnight. It feels like the Soviet Union of Art, appearing big and all encompassing but hiding its bankruptcy, then without warning “pop” it’s all gone. A very nice lady first brought me here when it opened, (apart from Mark Dion's ship disappearing down the gallery plug hole).. I hated the whole thing and remember being quite vocal about it. I think she was shocked. But for me art will be always have to incorporate colour and line.. I really don't understand anything else. I’m unashamedly partisan. I really don't care if some guy sticks old plates on a wall and calls it art.. I'm not interested.

I like the gaudy plastic chandelier in the foyer though.. it doesn't take itself that seriously.

Anyway still enjoyed the exhibition. Great to see Liverpool on a lovely sunny day bursting with international visitors and looking every inch the major European city it deserves to be. But that is a whole different story.

Liverpool Tate Café 12.50 11th July 2013

Andy Mercer's website

Monday, 3 June 2013

Pixelation.. is it always bad ?

Quite a lot of my artworks incorporate pixelation.. and I quite often get comments from photographers and printers about it.

>In my experience many photographers and printers judge image acceptability according to photographic criteria.. and they use the same standards to judge artwork as they do photographs. They look at the work through a magnifying glass to check for clarity and that pixels are not blown. I often deliberately blow the colours and incorporate pixelation, I'm not really interested in good photographic quality, it's not what my work is about. I want  to stretch the digital medium to its limits.. I like to think this "rough unfinished look" is in part what attracts clients and buyers to my work and I do have plenty of buyers.

I look on it this way.. if someone is painting you wouldn't reject the painting because the  brush strokes are visible. So why is it a problem if pixelation (which is an inherent characteristic of digital art work) is visible or deliberately incorporated ? I want my images to have unplanned elements and rough edges I wonder if in 100 years from now.. the ever more detailed and clean digital photographic images will be of any more interest than the old grainy black and white photos of the pre-digital era ?  Personally I doubt it. If a printer/client/photographer is going to judge my work by photographic standards my work is always going to fail. 
For me the above detail has lots of interesting contrasts and nuances going on.. 
I'm not ashamed of the fact that I am using the digital medium.

Constructive comments welcome

Andy Merer
Andy Mercer's website

Friday, 22 February 2013

Facebook Sages

As a keen observer of social media (I try to participate as little as possible) I am struck by the number of posts that offer advice on the human condition, life and the universe.

I would characterise these posts as something along these lines.. a picture of a mountain or a wood with flowers with the words of wisdom superimposed on top.

These words usually take the form of things like "Know your inner self and the universe will be healed". I can safely say having dutifully read these posts for about ten years.. that I have not been inspired one jot by any of them.
With the above example I'm tempted to ask if this also applies to using Facebook and eating ?
If all these Facebook and G+ sages really know the answer to the problems of mankind and the planet, and can deliver it in an easy one liner.. how come the problems of planet and the people are getting worse ?
I would like to add that I have no idea how to resolve the worlds problems.
Rant over.
Andy Mercer's website