CNN Ones to Watch’ – Sculpture


Sculptor Antony Gormley

  • Antony Gormley offers expertise on state of sculpture
  • Tate Modern’s Chris Dercon nominates Mexican, Abraham Cruzvillegas
  • Art critic Estelle Lovatt nominates South African, Jonty Hurwitz

The story of sculpture is carved into the landscape, taking all shapes and sizes, capturing a moment, claiming a space. Once in a while, the work of a great artist takes its place in history. With a range of materials and a forum of ideas more diverse than ever before, where will the next sensational sculptor be found?

‘CNN Ones to Watch’ in March explores this three-dimensional art form to find out which artists have the tools for the top.

One of the best-known sculptors working today, Antony Gormley, shares his thoughts on the state of the art, and the programme has enlisted two prominent voices – director of London’s Tate Modern Chris Dercon, and eminent British art critic Estelle Lovatt, to select their ‘Ones to Watch’.

Antony Gormley has created over two thousand sculptures based on his own body, the greatest of which is arguably the cast iron ‘Angel of the North’ which towers over the landscape and has become a British landmark. His work is exhibited in public spaces around the world, and he has received prestigious international arts awards including the Turner Prize and Japan’s Praemium Imperiale.

From his studio in London, where he’s preparing for a new exhibition in Paris, Second Body, Gormley tells ‘CNN Ones to Watch’: “You don’t get good work without good ideas but the ideas come from the work. Sculpture, of all the arts, is perhaps the most silent and the most filled. Learning to listen to the work that you’ve already made is really where all the core ideas come from. One work is the mother of the next.”

As director of Tate Modern, Belgian Chris Dercon oversees the most visited modern art museum in the world; last year, it welcomed over 5.5 million visitors.

Once a year, Dercon and his team commission a new artist to fill the largest space in Tate Modern, the Turbine Hall, an important platform for emerging sculptors since its opening in 2000. These commissions can catapult an artist to stardom, and have been a seminal moment in the career of many great artists, among them Ai Weiwei and Anish Kapoor.

Dercon has chosen Mexican sculptor Abraham Cruzvillegas to fill the Turbine Hall in October 2015, telling ‘CNN Ones to Watch’ why: “Abraham Cruzvillegas is not shy to take on the vastness of the Turbine Hall and to turn it into something completely else. That’s the magic of these artists that they are capable with sculpture, whether it’s tiny or large sculpture to turn the space into something else. Abraham Cruzvillegas offers you a very open work of art which you have to confront with your own experiences.”

‘CNN Ones to Watch’ travels to Mexico City, where Cruzvillegas’ story begins: “I am not a traditional sculptor carving marble or wood. It’s like testing myself that I can do something with anything. I use my own hair. I use shoes, I use plants, roots, potatoes, shirts, films everything for making sculptures.”

Cruzvillegas took as a reference his own experience of what he calls ‘autoconstruction’, related to the way people build their houses without money (in other countries ‘autoconstruction’ would be called favelas, or shanty towns, slums): “People are responding to their specific needs, so I do the same when I make a sculpture.”

Antony Gormley comments: “I’m interested in Abraham because I see him carrying on the work Orozco and others in Mexico started, which is really dealing with contemporary urban life from the point of nothing, from the street, and doing that in a very intelligent way, a very open way, and celebrating the inherent hope of those that make something from nothing.”

Respected British art critic Estelle Lovatt believes South African sculptor Jonty Hurwitz is   an artist taking the art of sculpture to new extreme, having worked with Hollywood animators and micro-physicists to create the world’s smallest sculpture.

Lovatt tells the show: “I’m very proud to nominate Jonty Hurtwitz as one of the artists to watch because no one works like him today. It’s a mix between the emotional and the intelligent and that’s what gives it the spark.”

‘CNN Ones to Watch’ captures Hurwitz’s figure of a woman who can only be viewed through a microscope, as she dances delicately on a single strand of human hair. His   quest to merge art and science is limitless – he makes vast bronze sculptures using algorithms and mirrors which play with perspectives.

The programme follows Hurwitz in the laboratory at one of the world’s leading universities in engineering and natural sciences, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology in Germany, as the alchemist turned artist crafts a new work.

He tells the programme: “A lot of the artistic expression that I bring to the world represents the absolute current moment in human development, whether it’s 3D printing, whether its technology or whether its science.”

Antony Gormley admires scientific innovation in art: “I think the whole world of nano-engineering is extraordinary because I think it opens up the opposite which is in a sense a limitless spatial potential for art. I think the division between art and science should never have happened. Both science and art need structure, they need discipline, but they also need intuition.”


Via: CNN Press Room, the official website for CNN’s public relations team.



Turner and Constable rivalry revived in London exhibitions

Constable video

The competition between the British painters John Constable and William Turner has gone down in history as one of the greatest-ever artistic rivalries.

Almost 200 years later, that competition is being revived.

Turner’s work is going on display at the Tate Modern, with Constable’s paintings on show at the V&A.

Art critic Estelle Lovatt told BBC Breakfast why the parallel exhibitions would have appealed to the artists.

It’s the best of British art… but not all is on display

Independent, Estelle Lovatt

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen. Kitty Knowles on why so much remains in storage.

As the best of British art is displayed on posters for all to see for the nationwide exhibition Art Everywhere, nearly half of the original works are tucked away in storage.

Art Everywhere, now in its second year, will plaster 25 artworks, as voted for by the British public, on 30,000 billboards around the UK over the next five weeks – but 11 of these are not currently on public display in galleries.

Art critic and historian David Lee said that it was “typical laziness on the part of the current art establishment” that some works are not available to see.

“Works that are considered to be the core masterpieces of British art should be on display all the time,” said Mr Lee, editor ofJackdaw magazine.

He also warned that the concept of the exhibition may be flawed: “You need to be in the right state of mind for art, and walking down the street is not likely to induce this condition.”

Sarah McCrory, a judge for the 2014 Turner Prize and the director of the Glasgow International art festival, said: “The qualities of a painting can’t be replicated on a billboard print.” But she added that the issue of whether the originals were permanently on display did not matter. “You could spin it the other way and say it’s a nice way to see works that aren’t currently accessible.”

Stephen Deuchar, co-founder of Art Everywhere and director of the Art Fund, which has helped museums and galleries buy works of art for more than a century, defended the exhibition. He said the reproductions should be seen as “meaningful and moving” art objects in their own right.

Dame Laura Knight

Dame Laura Knight

“It’s not quite as simple as saying people will see the reproduction and then rush round to the Tate,” he said. “Whether you’re on the high street and you suddenly see a Turner, or you get on a bus and you see a Chris Ofili, it is about having great images beautifully reproduced in an unexpected urban context.”

The vast majority of the longlist was on display when it was selected, he added, insisting that the chosen works are all frequently on display. “I hope that any museum that sees its work on the list that hasn’t shown the work for a while will do so immediately and will hopefully benefit from the revival of public interest in it,” Mr Deuchar added.

Eileen Agar

 The art critic and BBC Radio 2 presenter Estelle Lovatt voiced support for what she called a “fantastic” project. “What’s important is that people get into the galleries, they’ll see another piece by that artist, or another piece by the school of that artist,” she said. To have art at a bus stop or on a train station platform while we are waiting to start our day is as essential as having porridge and doing our exercises in the morning,” she added. “There is nothing better than five minutes of looking at art to set you up for the day.”

Patrick Caulfield

 Patrick Caulfield’s Pottery, Gilbert & George’s Existers and Gillian Wearing’s I’m Desperate are among the works currently stored by the Tate. Other originals in storage include pieces by Eileen Agar, Stanhope Forbes, Rose Wylie and Ben Nicholson. A Julia Margaret Cameron photographic portrait and a William Blake print are currently kept in storage for conservation, but are available to see if visitors call ahead, while works by John Constable, Dame Laura Knight and John Hoyland are due to be displayed in the coming months.

Kitty Knowles The Independent

Banksy street murals go on show in London hotel


Street murals by graffiti artist Banksy, which have been taken off buildings, have been put on show at an exhibition in London.

The Stealing Banksy exhibition has been put on by the Sincura Group, who will then auction the artworks on Sunday.

BBC London’s Wendy Hurrell went along to the show, where she spoke to Will Ellsworth-Jones, author of The Man Behind The Wall; London graffiti blogger Joe, and art critic Estelle Lovatt who all raised concerns about the exhibition.

Previously, Tony Baxter, the director of the Sincura Group, explained where the profits of the artworks go to.

Footage courtesy of Ben Strunin.

Via BBC.

World’s first homoerotic stamps produced in Finland


Finland is to produce the “world’s first” homoerotic stamps, celebrating one of the country’s most famous artists – Tom of Finland.

The collection of three stamps includes a depiction of a naked backside with a face peering between the two legs.

Art critic Estelle Lovatt told the Today programme that the stamps were a “great statement” given that the country bans gay marriage.

Philatelic trader David Bailey added that Britain has also created “ambitious” stamps in the past, including one set of “magic” stamps that aimed to trick the eye.

First broadcast on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme on Thursday 17 April. Listen to the broadcast here.

Via: BBC News

Deborah Azzopardi Book Essay


Sometimes you just want to curl up under a blanket. With a good book. A piece of chocolate. A man.

This is what Deborah Azzopardi’s pictures make me feel like doing. They are me. They remind me of the time I had a red convertible sports car. I had two, actually. And yes, they are you, too.

You immediately, automatically, engage with the narrative of Azzopardi’s conversational visual humour.  Laughter is the best aphrodisiac, as you know.  Never before has the erotic dream been painted by a woman so well.  Think of all the furtively duplicitous sexual innuendos (worth seeing) in art history, made for the titillation of the male patron; one of the purposes of art being to arouse emotions, yes.  Whilst I see some Japanese Shunga prints coarse next to Azzopardi’s more idealistic visions of contemporary urban life, the fantastical makes Azzopardi playfully sexy.  And fun!  Her pictures make you feel the same way, as she makes you feel the atmosphere of what goes on behind closed doors.

Azzopardi gives your fantasies a place to live, and grow, aside from the likes of Millais’s Pre-Raphaelite, ‘Isabella’, where Freudian-slips slip up against Victorian prudish angst and erections in the shadows. Azzopardi is more titillating than salacious, more sensual than sexual.

Distinctive, memorable and provocative, Azzopardi’s Pop Art shows what happens to the protagonist as her canvas acts like a storyboard for movies.  Azzopardi’s definitely got the ‘When Harry Met Sally….’ – “I’ll have what she’s having” at the Katz’s Delicatessen scene, down to a fine art, in paint.

How does Azzopardi choose her topics? “I don’t choose them,” she says.  “Really they choose me. I am inspired by everything I see and hear.”  There’s plenty of art historical references from Dali’s frivolous daydreaming joy to Michelangelo’s abandonment of sexual fantasy; with Brancussi’s physical, bodily, dynamics through to Manet’s suggestive ‘Olympia’; Boucher’s thought-provoking, and groin-stimulating, ‘Louise O’Murphy’; Fragonard’s frivolous, knickerless, ‘The Swing’; and Courbet’s glowing ‘The Origin of the World’.  But, coming from the male artist, you’d notice art history tends to sexualise art for the male patron because it’s been created by a man.  Azzopardi does it her way, not in a vulgar way, through a Graphic-Figurativism that liberates women a step further than Gauguin liberated the girl with Primivitism.  Further, Azzopardi is seductive with a non-threatening touch – it is fantasy, in a non-threatening way, like being comfortable with your G.B.F. (Gay Best Friend) discussing your bra size.

Provocative, flirtatious and wonderfully highlighted by playful titles, Azzopardi’s narratives interlink one painting to her next as the story progresses with messages of love and the stories of many. Juxtaposing lines of comic-book text with saucy images within a snap-shot canvas, Azzopardi paints all that you dare to fantasise about.

Unique in approach, you easily recognise an Azzopardi picture.  America has Lichtenstein we have Azzopardi.  Working simple graphics and toned shading (for depth), the Pop Art line that Azzopardi sketches is different to Lichtenstein’s.  Hers is more curvaceous.  Feminine.  Whereas his lines are male, brash and clunky.  And her humour is distinctively British.  With the slap-and-tickle, kiss-me-quick, fun of Carry On films and quintessentially English seaside-pier-art where you poke your head through the cut-out cartoon, putting yourself in the picture.  “Flash, bang, wallop! What a picture!  What a photograph!” (Tommy Steele as Arthur Kipps in the London musical, ‘Half a Sixpence’).  We’ve all been there done that, to be a part of visual curvaceous comedy as breasts spill over necklines, buttocks plump under panties and Y-Fronts jockey as floppy sun hats, on the English seaside coast.

Although her large colour surfaces may be simple and basic, she knows how colour works, how to use colour, so she’s not afraid to be simple and basic.  It’s natural.  Instinctive, like good sex is.  Azzopardi’s art makes me think of the poster for ‘The Graduate’ movie when Mrs Robinson (Anne Bancroft) puts on her stockings to seduce Benjamin Braddock (Dustin Hoffman).  And just as intimate as Dutch Golden Age paintings, where flirtatious bedroom games are real, Azzopardi references Vermeer in, ‘The Girl with the Diamond Earring’ (made with real diamond dust).

Azzopardi’s simple equations equal simple compositions. Timeless moments of silence that concentrate your concentration.  Employing quite a Classical, Medieval, perspective, combined with bold, yet subtle gradations of colour, actually makes Pop-Art-Azzopardi more of a Formal artist.  As shadows enable the texture of skin, free-flowing hair, and tender, yielding, flesh, we’d all love to look like an Azzopardi’s woman semi-nude.

Azzopardi’s use of light is an important issue too. The glow, radiance, coming from her portraits highlight the importance of personality. And the importance of experiences as ideas. This has to do with utilising the old-world aesthetics the art world has always, traditionally, celebrated. From the long-established poster-art graphics, as drawn by Toulouse-Lautrec to exude his colourful, flippant, but nevertheless elegant, sensitive and intimate message. Azzopardi, witty and thought provoking, also falls under Magritte’s Surrealist umbrella of suggestive, theatrical, poetic symbolism, as concealed in her stunning 24 carat image, ‘Pure Gold’, where lipstick is seductively applied. And of course it is red lipstick, red lips symbolise being ready for ‘intimate’ contact. When Renoir said, he’d, “painted pictures with my prick”, Azzopardi surely grabbed his baton-paintbrush, becoming the Emily Pankhurst of the art world, shaping women for our time, ensuring they never go back to the kitchen sink again. Unless they’re wearing just an apron, you’d expect.

What is ‘Push Once’ all about?  A little bit of James Bond?  A little bit of the Apollo 11 first moon landing?  A nipple?  No it’s a traditional London Routemaster bus bell.  Playful, these images are foreplay.  Paintings to flirt by.  Paintings to fall in love by, and with.  Like Manet’s art is art to flirt by, watch out, love is blooming here.  Each portrait is a revelation, for ‘She’ is the girl of our day that we meet in the street.  She is also Venus encompassing beauty and love.  ‘He’ is Casanova, or David Beckham if you’d rather.  Remember when Sam Taylor-Wood made her video-portrait of Beckham asleep, everyone – young, old, female and male, queued up to take their selfie ‘sleeping’ with him.

What inspires Deborah?  “Laughter.  Laughter is the best source of inspiration. Things that make you smile, or even thoughtful …. Museums, books, people; family and friends most importantly.  Everything in life that surrounds me. I keep open minded and try to ‘see’ rather than just look.”

‘Close’ and ‘Closer’ are not a pair but are stunning together.  This Renaissance referencing diptych makes these paintings of two parts become one as Azzopardi adopts Botticelli’s graceful, linear, rhythm.  There is a sense of movement in Azzopardi’s pictures, a sense of Futurist movement.  See the man’s handkerchief wiping the broken hearted woman’s tears away in ‘Forever, and ever ….’.  Entitled after Aretha Franklin’s hit song, with synaesthesia, you’d hear Ms Franklin singing “I Say A Little Prayer”for you, as, music is the visual metaphor for love, the harmony being between a man and woman.  Likewise there are also powerful moments of silence, as characters appear to be caught frozen in time.  She uses humour to make her art timeless and enduring.  The popularity of her image is similar to that enjoyed by the ‘Chinese Girl’ in the 1950s and 60s, by Vladimir Tretchikoff.

Like a pared-down Patrick Caulfield, with simple black outlines, and, big, flat, single hue, colour, Azzopardi says, “I love the use of colour on a large scale.  To me the impact is in the size of the painting with the dynamism of colour.”   Much in the same vein as Yves Klein had his blue, Azzporadi has hers.  Her colours serve as initial bait to gain your attention, but it is her subject matter that hooks you in, and keeps you captivated, as male torsos are toned and long female legs dangle over the side of a red convertible.

What makes her paint?  She just likes to paint. “I have always wanted to paint! I don’t understand why everyone in the world doesn’t paint! It’s probably like an addiction.  Although I’m not an addict.  Only to chocolate!  I think I just paint because I like the subject idea, without any great meaning or explanation.”  Says Azzopardi.  Even the fashion illustrator from the haute couture world of major designers, René Gruau, makes Azzopardi want to paint.  It’s his elegant, economic, use of line.

Like Gruau, Azzopardi draws from real life models too.   Beautifully honed, Ralph Lauren model-types, with pert breasts and firm thighs can be seen to be as iconic as Leonardo’s ‘Mona Lisa’, Warhol’s ‘Monroe’ or Goya’s ‘The Naked Maja’.  Except, each of Azzopardi’s portraits has three faces.  One facing the past of art history; one facing our time – the ‘here-and-now’; and one facing tomorrow – the future.

There is something ‘Wonder Woman’-esque about her colourful pictures that makes you believe the girl is the superhero who triumphs not with punches or kicks, but with love. Images, as bright and bold as I used to be. Indeed can be again, for something about them makes me feel young, like I’m standing by the Fountain of Youth. Youth symbolizes incorruptible purity.

If you think her paintings are lively, you should meet her in person! She’s got a personality that stands out like one of her paintings and a laugh that’s vivacious and colourful. When Jackson Pollock said, “Every good painter paints what he is”, he’d surely be talking about Deborah Azzopardi ….

Essay published in 2014, in Deborah Azzopardi’s debut book.

Images design by Cristina Schek, using artwork by Deborah Azzopardi & quotes by Estelle Lovatt FRSA.

© Estelle Lovatt FRSA