Whether watching Grayson Perry’s Art Club series on Channel 4, spending time with pencil and sketchpad and Life Drawing Live! on the Beeb or viewing the many collections around the world available online from art galleries who’ve opened their doors virtually, we now appear to be a nation of lockdown art lovers.Stanford professor of Art & Education Elliot Eisner once said that ‘Art is literacy of the heart’ so maybe during this trying time taking art to heart has been an effective antidote to the stresses and strains of lockdown life.
So has this resurgence of interest in art also inspired a new perspective on the pictures adorning the walls of our homes? We live in an age of fast this and fast that, where yesterday’s art is no less disposable than old clothes or furniture and people often buy prints to go with the colour of a room rather than because of an emotional attachment to the imagery, the artist’s skill or for its investment potential. But before you drop your next out-of-fashion picture off to the charity shop, consider the tale of the Green Lady.
In the 1960s Boots the Chemist sold various Tretchikoff prints, Chinese Girl sometimes known as the Green Lady (left) being one of the most popular choices. But by the beginning of the 21st century most people had consigned their Boots-bought Tretchikoff’s to the attic, to charity shops or even to landfill. Rolling forward 50 years, the original painting sold for just under $1million in 2013, with vintage prints of the same becoming increasingly sought-after and often changing hands for hundreds of pounds (Image: www.galleryintell.com)
It seemed an obvious choice therefore that for June’s journal post I would continue the art inspiration theme and source a few treasures for the now and maybe for the future from the THOA website. And as most art galleries curate their paintings in chronological order, I’ve created the THOA Art Collection in the same way, using a little artistic licence regarding the image dating process along the way.
The first print which took my eye is permeated with historic references whilst also benefitting from a little contemporary beautification. Renascentist Portrait (below) is a framed art print imbued with Renaissance charm and because the subject is in close-up, undeniable impact. Its printed on fine art paper or natural linen and hand embellished with brass and copper metallic foils. Based on Leonardo da Vinci’s portrait of Cecilia Gallerani ‘Lady with an Ermine’, the introduction of 21st century black eye-liner and red lipstick make a clever modern style statement without detracting from the magic of this muse who transcends time | 70cm x 100cm £249
Moving forward a few hundred years to the 19th century, the framed art canvas print Winters Morning (above) has an intriguing ethereal quality with the boundaries between the frame and the artwork subtly blurred by superimposing fragments of colour over both. The original painting was of Rosalba Carriers Pearle, a Victorian American portraitist, landscape painter and lithographer. As a female artist in an age when women painters were mostly seen as inferior to their male counterparts, its fitting that this ahead-of-her-time lady’s portrait should be given such an intriguing contemporary interpretation | 81cm x 66cm (small) £183
Photographer Chiara Fersini is best-known for her work under the Himitsuhana label, specialising in the creation of surreal fantasy images. She is inspired by the inner relationship between photography and painting and the masterpieces of the Pre-Raphaelites. So why should this contemporary piece of work be placed here in the gallery if its been curated in date order? The image combines surrealism and beauty just as Man Ray and Lee Miller’s photographs did, the fantasy of elaborate Hollywood musical sets and the Art Deco glamour of the 1930s. Tranquilize (right) is the perfect name … time to dream Busby Berkeley style (Google him if you’re under 50) | 81cm x 66cm £193 (CLICK IMAGE TO BE REDIRECTED)
Gestural Abstraction (right) is a beautiful combination of the past and the present, communication and creativity and of Shoda and Kintsugi.
Shoda is the rhythmical form of calligraphy which originated in Japan in the 6th century AD. Still practised today, it is part of the contemporary Japanese art scene with artists like Tomoko Kawao (see below) producing large-scale pieces with all the vibrancy of contemporary Abstract Expressionism. Kintsugi is the Japanese art of beautiful repair. Mending broken areas of pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver or platinum, Kintsugi celebrates the survival of an object, enhancing damaged areas and respecting them as part of an item’s history (CLICK IMAGE TO BE REDIRECTED)
And finally, a contemporary icon from the world of rock music. The gallery would not be complete without including this print of a rock guitar legend who still looks the epitome of cool even when dressed in Victorian finery. The oil painting style print of Slash gives the Guns ‘n Roses lead guitarist an air of the rock sophisticate but then again, with his famous top hat, he always did bring something of the rock dandy to the stage. Or maybe it has something to do with being born in Hampstead? | A1 size £54 | (CLICK IMAGE TO BE REDIRECTED)
Slash’s mother was a costume designer for the likes of David Bowie, Ringo Star and Janis Joplin and his father designed album covers for Joni Mitchell and Neil Young, so the guitar maestro was somehow destined to work in the rock music industry. Real name Saul, he was given his nickname by actor Seymour Cassel because as a child he was always in a hurry (Source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Slash_(musician).
I hope you enjoyed looking through the THOA Art Collection and the accompanying background stories. Finding out more about the subject matter and the painter of a piece of art is sometimes surprising, often intriguing and always enlightening. Provenance gives art meaning, a reason for attachment and worth beyond that of an accessory that compliments a newly decorated room or monetary status. Its a great time to appreciate the art you already own as well as introducing some new pieces into your life to enjoy long after lockdown is over when you can look at them and smile, remembering the time when watching art programmes on tv really was the highlight of the week …