Estelle Lovatt on BBC Radio London with Nikki Bedi

Talking about ‘The Radical Eye’ Elton John’s unrivalled modernist photography collection on view at Tate Modern and ‘A World View: John Latham’ Time at Serpentine Gallery, both ending Sunday, 21 May 2017.

Broadcast: Sunday 14 May 2017 on BBC Radio London, with Nikki Bedi



The Royal Academy in London Marks 100th Anniversary of Russian Revolution | Video


A momentous period in Russian history is on show in an exhibition at The Royal Academy in London.

The works of a variety of artists remember events 100 years ago and the Russian Revolution which dismantled the Tsarist autocracy and led to the eventual rise of the Soviet Union.

The exhibition ‘Revolution: Russian Art 1917 – 1932’ is a journey through that period captured by a variety of artists, photographers and sculptors of the time.

“This encapsulates a certain period in Russia that you just don’t get from textbooks. There’s nothing more powerful than the artist painting what’s going on in the world around him and the fact that artists are seen to be as powerful as soldiers, with their paintbrush using a visual type of propaganda, especially when most of the population were illiterate. It’s through the visual arts that a message is passed,” said Estelle Lovatt, art critic.

The exhibition explores the complex interaction between art and politics and how the state influenced artists.

It’s a unique look at Russian art from a period where new proletarian art for the Soviet state was encouraged until Stalin’s brutal crackdown and suppression in 1932.

The exhibition also features well known avant garde artists such as Vasily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Lyubov Popova.

It was a movement which was opposed by artists who were convinced art had to serve the revolution.

“There’s a group called the association of Russian revolutionary artists who were villianously determined to kill off the avant garde, insults, all kinds of fierce, ferocious criticism and they became more powerful as the 20’s went on and became a source of Socialist Realism.

‘And they argued very strongly that people needed to be able to understand the art, ordinary people, people on the bus needed to be able to know what on earth it was all about and they couldn’t do that with Popova or Kandinsky not surprisingly,” opined John Milner, Curator and Professor of Russian art history at the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Also woven through the galleries are original films, photographs and documents. The exhibition runs until mid April.

Source: EuroNews | WATCH VIDEO

David Hockney Retrospective at The Tate Breaks Records | Video


It is the fastest-selling exhibition in the history of Britain’s Tate Gallery. Over 20,000 advance tickets have been sold for the David Hockney retrospective.

The artist is an innovator whose 60-year career has taken in sketching, painting, printmaking, photography and digital iPad experiments.

His depictions of sun-dappled Los Angeles swimming pools and wooded Yorkshire hills are among the best-known images in contemporary art.

“The exhibition, it has a focus, an emphasis, which is on the way throughout his mature career Hockney has really interrogated what it is to make pictures, why make pictures, how do you capture the real world of time and movement in something flat and static,” said Chris Stephens, curator of the exhibition.

The works in the exhibition begin in 1960 when the artist had just arrived at London’s Royal College of Art and takes in ’50’s abstraction.

From then on it develops and features Hockney through different periods which explore how you engage with the world, how you describe the world in pictures while also sparking a debate about what art is.


“He just uses the canvas. He uses color, he uses the camera, he uses film in the most exceptional and unimaginable ways and he has this great imagination and this great power to put on 2D what is actually 3D and he confuses us and he plays with us and he cajoles with us,” opined Estelle Lovatt, art critic.

The 79-year-old who once said, “art has to move you and design does not, unless it’s a good design for a bus” still paints.

He has always documented the places and people around him, his pictures act almost as a diary for his life. The artist described revisiting his works for the retrospective as like encountering old friends.

The exhibition runs to May 29 after which it will move to the Pompidou Centre in Paris from the end of June to October. It goes across the Atlantic to New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art from November to February.


Source: Euro News | WATCH VIDEO

The cheek of it: 2016 Turner Prize shortlist revealed


A giant golden sculpture of buttocks and more than £20,000 in pennies are among artworks in the running for this year’s Turner Prize.

An exhibition of the works by four shortlisted artists will go on display at the Tate Britain on Tuesday.

Video report by ITV News reporter Sally Lockwood, interviewing Estelle Lovat FRSA – Click to watch  video


  • Anthea Hamilton

Measuring around 16ft high, Hamilton’s Project For A Door (After Gaetano Pesce) is part of a series of “physical realisations” of images taken from the artist’s archive.

It also consists of a “brick suit” – a fabric suit which camouflages with the wall behind.

A gallery assistant looks nominee Anthea Hamilton’s ‘Brick Suit’. Credit: PA
  • Michael Dean

Michael Dean’s work includes a piece consisting of £20,435.99 in pennies, to represent “one penny below the UK poverty line for a family of four”.

Thousands of pennies are used to deliver a poverty message. Credit: PA
  • Josephine Pryde

Josephine Pryde’s installation features a train model entitled The New Media Express in a Temporary Siding (Baby Wants To Ride) 2016.

Josephine Pryde’s train model. Credit: PA
  • Helen Marten

Helen Marten’s work features handmade as well as found objects such as cotton buds and fish skins to create “poetic visual puzzles”.

Turner Prize
Helen Marten’s installations features a various of objects Credit: PA

The winner of the contemporary art prize, which is now in its 32nd year, will be announced in December.

Source: ITV news

‘BLAH-BLAH-BLAH-BLAH!’ by Deborah Azzopardi

BLAH-BLAH-BLAH-BLAH by Deborah Azzopardi

As usual, Deborah Azzopardi‘s wholly original style mixes the trend of the traditional, with the contemporary, with a story.

An original retro rotary dial corded telephone from the 1970s is held by a woman.

Who is she?
She is you; she is me.

Who is she talking to?
Her mother, her lover, her friend, you, me.

Blah blah blah blah, we hear chatter that’s familiar; irrelevant, insincere, boring, time-consuming babble, proving life’s too short to jaw when there’s shopping to do and lovers to love!

More than a painting, it’s real life.

Rarely does Azzopardi sell a painting that has been published.  Anyone can have a print, not everyone ‘the’ original.  Why keep your money in the bank when it’ll look prettier on your wall.

McAlpine Miller: The New Collection


It is so exciting to see McAlpine Miller’s latest artwork.

At first sight I wondered what it was, exactly, that McAlpine Miller’s newest artworks remind me of. Then it hit me. It’s the high-tech look. In them I see something of both the very modern and the nostalgic, in sync.

It is the merger of today’s science of technology with the prowess of ‘live’ cartoon action that is at the heart of his new body of artwork. And it is the clarity of these forms of his, both human and animated, that invite me ‘in’ to his frame, to be a participant. As if a play on the stage, his actors are framed in the scene through architectural elements that challenge today’s 3D space but, realising the art history of centuries past, it is as if you’re looking at a Roman Fresco that’s up to date with 3D Projection Mapping, but also stereographic 4D.

The similarities between his traditionally-painted canvases and today’s Social Media micro-electronics are what integrate his pictures. It’s as if waves of electrical quantum photons (light) take the place of both the traditional Old Master’s Classical or the Modernist’s Impressionistic prism, on level pegging. By taking the cartoons of yesterday and brightening them up with the cartoon colours of today, his sense of hue is as sophisticated as a Renaissance painter’s in softening natural looking skin tints that appear to be blended with today’s CGI pixelated palette. From traditional looking Antique White to Saddle Brown he pulls his visionary-art right bang-up-to-date through colours that are so …. of the ‘now’; of today.

Walk up any High Street, look in the fashion-chain store’s windows and you’ll see all the models dressed in the same lively, exotic, lush Pantone colours that McAlpine Miller squeezes from emerald green to chilli powder pepper red, canary yellow, tangerine tango, hot pink and peach puff. He uses colours that look as though they’re on a video display but they’re not, they’re on his canvas. Here is an artist who really understands what tomorrow’s Social Media is all about. His treatment of pictorial space is brilliant through the combination of multiple spaces and pictorial surfaces ‘released’ (painted) on ‘multiple platforms’ (picture planes) with an apparent Pixar style of animation about them. In eye-catching overlapping of graphics therein lays the McAlpine Miller Modernity.

All the things that David Hockney can do with an iPad in terms of colour, collaged composition and cut-and-paste layering, McAlpine Miller takes full circle by doing New School in an Old School style all, incredibly, with his oil paints! McAlpine Miller is taking Hockney a step further, by taking it a step backwards. Being far more complex, with traditional oil paints. His paintings have a 3D look about them. Seemingly composed through the employment of graphical cropped images edited under a CGI mouse-move, but it is all done with his sable paintbrush not the magic wand of Photoshop. With this, he paints pictures that connect with you, today. McAlpine Miller is one of the best artists of our time, painting about our time, in the best way I’ve seen. This is how he is changing the course of Art History – much in the same way that Da Vinci, Monet and Picasso did. The art of tomorrow starts here ….

Constantly looking around him at our everyday, McAlpine Miller has a set of references that are totally different to other painters. It’s as if, he says, that, “these realities combine to challenge us and perhaps create a greatly unstable world. By uncovering our real issues we discover ourselves. Undressed to the world, yet layered to the world. The illusion continues…”

It appears like he has tagged all this in Pixar animation, transforming, for example, the imagery of Stan Lee, founder of Marvel Comics, and Hanna-Barbera of the 50s and 60s, with Steve Jobs and George Lucas’s Pixar Animation Studios of today. As in, ’Taking the Trash Out’, where Hanna Barbera is alive in Hoagy’s Alley wearing this new summer season’s high wedge sandal. It is not just about taking the trash (rubbish) out, it is about the unwanted material – the waste – as the leftovers of our forgotten civilization, about to be recycled for posterity into today’s computer jargon of the ‘trash’ of the PC world. As he points out, by, “Taking the idea of the central figure and revealing an alternative opinion of that character, [this show hopes] to reveal the ongoing nature of the transparent life. Beauty is only ever skin-deep and our ability to hide behind the facade has become something of a 21st century art form.”

Something else, for (some of) the boys, highly topical and relevant to today, you cannot close your eyes to the psychological interpretation of reference to unconscious homosexual fantasy when Batman can now legally marry Robin. With Catwoman taking the part of the witness, ready to whip you in to shape, in, ‘Woman of the Night’. DC Comics’ Batman – aka Bruce Wayne the billionaire playboy, industrialist and philanthropist that all Americans aspire to become. Whilst for the girls, in, ‘Here to Save the Day’, Superman – the fictional Superhero inspires the a-typical personification of the American, apple-pie-loving girl-next-door Gibson Girl, to show what she is prepared to do for her country, not the other way around. McApline Miller explains, “Highly celebrated and widely identified, beauty hides the ugliness of our reality. War, hatred, anger and religion make up our every day.”

Where, even as goodness Captain America slaps the enemy in the face, you’ll see that it is an extremely sexy, McAlpine Miller high-heeled heroine, in, ‘Salute to the Captain’, from a time when comics cost a slim dime, and models today are just as thin. And in, ‘A Typical Feminine Trait’, he fuses the Terrytoons animation studio with the multiplex Uncle Sam (metaphor for the United States recruiting of soldiers for the Wars), fighting wars, fighting the great ideals of justice, and even, fighting the fusion of today’s fashionable franchise branding where the references to catwalk anorexia and financial waste (and gain), connect.

McAlpine Miller achieves all this through his all-action comic book colour palette painted with his idiosyncratic, painterly, Old Master skill. Together with the industrial precision of a commercial graphic illustrator, over, the prominence of what I’d say is surely his own, Social Media edit look. All blended with Chiaroscurism’s use of shade and light. Unique to McAlpine Miller, there are two kinds of light in his paintings. The light of day, where he makes everything known and available. And the internal, spiritual, light which is when he paints all that which we can only just about imagine in our dreams. I’d be happy to live in a McAlpine Miller picture.

To help you, he splits his multi-focus Cubist compositions in to single-viewpoints of flat, fixed, fragmented planes that sculpt his storyboard characters over overlapping perspectives. Exposing them as collaged Pop Art mass culture, that looks physically disturbed by an Expressionistic revelation of images, through to an Abstract subsistence of layer-upon-layer of veiled-on oil paint revealing, informing and identifying a connection that is pure lifestyle. This is all perfectly clear as McAlpine Miller’s wholesome flesh-and-blood bikini-babes retreat to an ever-eternal return that connects the past to the present, and even the future.

There is also something of the conservative, I’d say spiritual, in his compositions too. From the triptych, ‘Three Times a Lady’, surfaces the early Christian art formatting popular for church altar paintings from the Middle Ages. McAlpine Miller’s canvas is rich in a visual legacy enabling him to project his content-aware prominence, found only in today’s world of celebrity-worship icon advertising. Amidst all of this he uses highly distinctive, iconic, 1950s Americana which he blends with Romanticism. From the portrayal of the beautiful Movie Star from the Golden-olden-good-old-days-gone-by, off-of-the-Silver-Screen, to today’s multicoloured computer-animated, backlit fluorescent light of the iPad, it’s all pure cinema.

He is both painter and public entertainer that, if Jessica Rabbit were alive today, I’m sure that McAlpine Miller would be the artist whom she’d want to be framed by.

©Estelle Lovatt FRSA

The Industrial Allure of Lowry’s Urban Landscapes

Industrial Landscape 1955 Tate © The Estate of L.S. Lowry

Industrial Landscape 1955 Tate © The Estate of L.S. Lowry

If you are an American coming over to London for your summer vacation this year, then I must recommend one exhibition to you: Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life at Tate Britain.

I was having a discussion recently about the painter L.S. Lowry and his impact on the art world. The discussion revolved around how Lowry is often a victim of the art world’s middle-class snobbery when assessed as a painter.

Be it panoramic or intimate vignettes of the North of England, Lowry’s matchstick men may look fairly idiotic; nonetheless they are instantly recognizable. Hard-edged, grotesque and comedic, Lowry’s painted people might look formulaic because they were drawn from his memory. Although simple-looking, you’ll recognize human variety in every one of his people. In fact, many faces in his paintings are former tenants. In his lifetime, Lowry made over 1,000 paintings and 8,000 drawings. If you asked him, “What are you doing when you’re not painting?” he might have replied, “thinking about painting.” Lowry often described himself as “a simple man,” but, in fact, he was a complex and contradictory character considering the murky realism of his environment and British history in general.

Ancoats Hospital Outpatients’ Hall 1952, Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester

Ancoats Hospital Outpatients’ Hall 1952, Whitworth Art Gallery, University of Manchester

It took the attention of American art critic Jessica Stephens to wake the world up to Lowry’s work. In her writing in ‘The Studio’ in 1928, she describes how “beauty may be of many kinds…The work of Mr. L.S. Lowry has qualities which make it difficult to forget.”

For those not familiar with Lowry’s artwork, he was a modest man in both character and artistic temperament, known for his landscapes which spoke to the enormity of England’s industrialization. His pictures tell the story of life before the National Health Service (similar to Obamacare): pre small-scale Capitalism; pre strike meetings. In other words, British history in oil paint. Or, as Jessica Stephens wrote: “It is the nearest rendering of the life of Lancashire one knows.”

There are lots of assumptions surrounding Laurence Stephen Lowry (1887 – 1976). Here’s the truth for you; he was born to lower middle class parents (a real estate agent and hopeful concert pianist) in Stretford, Manchester, Northern England. A move to the industrial hamlet of Pendlebury led to an obsessive subject matter for the young painter. He captured the twisted forms the human body took when it was bent over machines for 12 hours a day, six days a week. Always scurrying along, the subjects of his paintings have very little time and money; too busy running around representing the rituals of public life from football matches (otherwise known as soccer to Americans) to protest marches, evictions and fist-fights. The experiences of the 20th-century working-class life in England were all captured by Lowry.


Coming Out of School / Courtesy Tate © The Estate of L.S. Lowry

A rent collector by day and virgin by night, Lowry lived with his mother and was formally trained in drawing and painting under the French Impressionist painter Valette. The Parisian galleries and French art critics recognized and helped further his endeavors in the history of British art. He exhibited at the Lefevre gallery in Mayfair, London, and was a visiting tutor at the prestigious Slade School of Fine Art, recognised at the time as one of the best art schools in England.

What was unusual about Lowry was that he was not the typical moneyed student graduating from the Courtauld Institute of Art, nor was he an artist that fit into the traditional Eton-Oxford English mold. Nor did he study art history at St Andrews University in Scotland – where Kate Middleton and Prince William, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, first met and studied art history. Why? Simply because Lowry’s subject as a painter was British industry – not the British Empire.

Although Lowry has never been a darling of the art world, his work does find its fans. The minute details in his densely-packed paintings give the eye much to feed on. More importantly, his landscapes of Northern England’s textile mills and factory chimneys make Lowry an artist of ‘place’. This ‘localism’ – topographies of slums in Manchester – speaks to those who inhabit these areas. Whereas traditionally labor is concealed within factory walls, Lowry brings it to the public’s attention: showing men at work or on the streets. Describing the slum subjects in his paintings, Lowry said: “I saw the industrial scene and I was affected by it. I tried to paint it all the time. I tried to paint the industrial scene as best I could. It wasn’t easy.” His ambition was to reveal the industrial scenes shaping England at the time. No one else had done it seriously and Lowry had an edge over the rest: he was wise about street life.

The Fever Van 1935 © The Estate of LS Lowry / Image courtesy of National Museums Liverpool

The Fever Van 1935 © The Estate of LS Lowry / Image courtesy of National Museums Liverpool

First melodramatic and pessimistic, his mood changes drastically after World War II. If you’re surprised at how small the paintings are, just wait for the last room in this exhibition, which houses the Industrial Landscapes. Here, for the first time ever, are five grand-scale panoramic paintings of Lowry’s world shown together. His world is a pictorial record of a time before Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher changed the face of British industry. However, when the industrial scene changed, so did the nature of Lowry’s subject matter. He couldn’t paint what wasn’t there. So Lowry left for the mining districts of South Wales, where he painted the trees looking like they oozed smoke. Faced with these panoramas the size of large-scale history paintings, the viewer finally understands the scale and scope of Lowry’s ambition.

Lowry certainly left more than a cultural legacy. What makes this the perfect exhibition at the moment, is our social awareness of our unemployment and current dismal financial times. Lest we forget, today, Lowry’s artwork often sells for millions of dollars. Enjoy.

Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life runs from 25 June – 20 October 2013 at Tate Britain.

By . Published in Cultural Weekly.