Posts Tagged ‘exhibition’

the gallery
the gallery

I am sitting in the corner looking over a beautiful exhibition of art work by the La Rondine artists in ZZHK Gallery in Hong Kong.  We have secured this lovely space over an incredibly busy period in the art month of Hong Kong.  Art Basel is next week and so are a number of subsidiary art fairs, all vying for attention, to say nothing of the many galleries, all with their openings every night of the week and even mornings of next week.

La Rondine cocktail sponsored by Absolut
La Rondine cocktail created by Marc Danays & sponsored by Absolut

Our openings, (we had two, one was a special collector’s evening and the other was an open celebration), were in the lull before the storm.  How lucky are we to have had such  great attendance.  Sandra Walters, art consultant and art dealer, hosted the collectors evening on Monday night.  We were sponsored by Absolut vodka so Marc Danays, a master mixologist and partner to one of our artists, Sarah Danays, created the beautiful La Rondine cocktail,  using vodka, lychee liqueur, curacao, guava juice, lemon juice and basil – yummo, it was much appreciated on a very warm evening.

Chained in Blue by Jacob Cartwright
Chained in Blue by Jacob Cartwright

As my eye roves the gallery space, I pick up on a powerful photograph by Jacob Cartwright, of a blue naked woman bowed under the chains of industry.  Jacob’s technique is really interesting, using photography without computer manipulation, he takes photographs of environments, in this case, HK,  and projects them onto his model, then photographs her under special lighting and the projection.  The effect is an abstraction of form that creates his emotional connection to life without the seeming objectivity of photography.  Jacob lives on the side of a sunny hill in Tuscany, overlooking the plains of Lucca.  He tends an olive grove and imports its oil, one of the finest in the world, to America.  He was born and bred in the arts and was a gifted child in music.  Today he is a composer and photographer.  His photography is a visual reflection of his lyrical soul.  The story of his four photographs represent the earth mother.  The mother reflecting life upon herself, as in ‘Flower’, where she rises like an innocent child from a garden, herself the garden.  ‘Chained in Blue’ is industry, ‘Construct’ is the city, ‘Tape’ is man’s creativity.  Much of Jacob’s work is about life reflecting on its essence.  He loves the reflection.

Beppe by Candido Martinelli
Beppe by Candido Martinelli

Interspersed throughout the room are the small photographic portraits of people, many now gone from life,  from the village of Montefegatesi.   Candido Martinelli is an Italian New Yorker.  He lives now, back in his beloved Tuscany, high in the mountains in a picturesque village that was witness to ancient battles between the Ligurians and Romans, and earlier still to the passage of Hannibal and his elephants…  The stories in these tiny village top mountains abound and the early days of Candido, were the war years.  He was shot through the leg as a young child by German SS hunting down the partisans in his village, Montefegatesi.  The people he grew up with in these years are the people in these photographs, scarred and beaten and toughened, like the wild unpredictable mountains they inhabit.  Candido’s photographic love is portraiture.  He loves the stories of human beings and with great tenderness he expresses this in these works.

Atrophy 7 by Kevan Halson
Atrophy 7 by Kevan Halson

Kevan Halson is a meticulous man.  Everything he does is with particular attention to detail and knowledge.  He lives in an ancient villa in a little village, Granaiola, in the Tuscan Appenine mountains, overlooking Bagni di Lucca, with stupendous views of valleys and rivers and multitudinous layers of mountains on mountains.  Despite the grandness of his vistas, he focuses on the intricate details of life and it is perhaps this insight that has inspired his ‘Atrophy’ series.   In this area of great natural and manmade beauty, there is a sense of atrophy as the life cycle of the area depletes itself. The young people have left for the cities and the old people have died, leaving behind their old homes that slowly decay as the weather gets in and the floors rot away and the voracious forests eat away the walls.  Kevan captures the decay of life with beauty and acceptance. It is simply the phase before new life.

Diviner by Sarah Danays
Diviner by Sarah Danays

Sarah Danays, mystical and beautiful, her photograph of her created sculpture and installation, is set in a box that makes the image feel like it is floating in the night.  A lot of her work comes from specially found objects and antiquities that she amalgamates with her gentle carvings of limbs in alabaster.  Her story of ‘The diviner’ has significance as it was created for a beloved friend and fellow artist who died. The sacred Taoist mid-nineteenth century Chinese divination rod was joined into a carved alabaster hand.  “I chose to use it, with its dragon head and Yin and Yang symbol, as protection for Mei’s spirit.”  The guest photographer for this sculpture is Sinisha Nisevic – a famous fashion photographer.  He was personally invited by Donatella Versace to be her Director of Photography in Milan, and has worked for everyone from Prada to Gucci, to Dior…

Blackbird by Sollai Cartwright
Blackbird by Sollai Cartwright

On a low table beneath ‘Flower’ by Jacob Cartwright, are two abstract organic forms in marble and alabaster, sculptures, by Sollai Cartwright.  ‘Snow’ and ‘Twirl’.  People have loved them, coming regularly to touch and fondle them, also his ‘Black Bird’  sold to his best collector.  Sollai is a young and impassioned carver who lives spasmodically in Tuscany, renting studios in Pietrasanta and sometimes working on the hillside of his friend, Kevan Halson’s land.  Currently he is carving black marble imported from Italy on the land of one of his collector’s in Byron Bay, northern New South Wales.  “I am an artist because I believe it is the purest form of evolution and, gifted with an eye for beauty, I feel it is my responsibility and my greatest joy to bring new visions of beauty to the universe…..I carve stone because I am a man of the earth.  Marble resonates with my soul and I feel that while I carve, I am giving new life to the soul within the stone….”  Lovely!  We have a beautiful new artist on the earth giving art back to its people.

Nest by Michael Cartwright
Nest by Michael Cartwright

I have known Michael’s work for many years and always I am challenged with the language of his work and always I am delighted, though my understanding can sometimes take years in formation.  Michael Cartwright’s creativity is spontaneous and draws inspiration from his free interpretation of life, he is free without compromise, and it is this freedom that is ultimately human though sometimes forgotten in the rules we place around ourselves. From freedom comes the Bird form.  Michael loves the story and his work can be ‘read’ and it is perhaps the bird in his work, for there are many, that reflects the state his spirit is in.    Some birds he has created have lain down, ‘Reclining bird’, and seem to have come from a period when he had to rest and wait. He likes contrast with his work, so you will often find the tough and the tender within the same work.  Sometimes it is expressed through texture, soft and smooth and rough and lumpy.  Sometimes it is through organized, beautifully finished forms and their adhoc arrangement, irreverent of proportion. This exhibition with his work has several beautiful bird forms, ‘Reclining Bird’, Portrait of a Bird’ and ‘Nest’.  He also has a large night painting of ‘Whale’ and the ‘Net’, a little gold leaf on bronze sculpture from his fishing series and the woodcut print of the ‘Fish Trap’.  Definitely a nature boy!

Dance by Shona Nunan
Dance by Shona Nunan

Finally there is me!  I have loved putting together this series of work from the last 20 years of my ‘Woman’ series.  The ‘Woman’ series slips in and out of my creative life as I seem to go through life’s different lessons and gifts.  I associate the ‘Woman’ with life’s abundance and power, its cycles, its source of creativity.  I have a couple of pieces that have just been cast that I am so happy to have in the show.  ‘Dance’ and ‘Woman Form’.  I love seeing them in bronze, they are finished!  They have been in my studio for a couple of years now, adding to the influences of my latest work.  I also had two of the three sculptures I created at the CIS Artist Residency this year in the show.  They are in plaster, painted to resemble bronze and they will be cast when we get back to Italy. I love the strength of one and the joy in the other.  What a great period of creativity and endeavour this has been.  In the meantime, Italy is calling.  It is late Spring and I can only imagine the untainted blue skies and swooping swallows in all that delicious new bright green…..And a whole season of new exhibitions on at our La Rondine Gallery in Bagni di Lucca…..IMG_0663

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The Catch

Blood red, dripping, over the canvas, through the net, into the royal blue black sea.  The boat incandescent against a golden, almost a dirty gold, luminous light.  ‘The Catch’, huge and slaughtered, in the depths of the sea.  The colours are exquisitely beautiful and the subject poignantly ‘triste’, sad.  It’s an amazing painting in its full expression, that yet holds a poetic beauty and is able to be felt on all levels.  It is hung in the centre of the gallery space, dividing two enormous paintings of such peace and tranquility it seems at odds that they can all be shown together.  These two painting are water pieces too, one of a river in spring and the other of a pond with lilly pads.  This is Michael’s calling card.  ‘Eclectic’.  It is the name of his exhibition and and is a reflection of Michael the artist; many varying elements coming together to make up the whole. His painting and his sculpture is brave and inventive, he always remains true to the freshness of his vision, never resting for long in a new discovery of language, moving always with his bright curious awareness of everything he sees.  In his painting, his work is energetic, with big slashing strokes, and colour is his strength.  I would say light interests him less than the importance of colour playing against one another.

His freshness is also in his sculpture and this ‘inconsistency’ has puzzled and infuriated many people over the years, as he has defied the rules of constancy and yet remained a completely dedicated artist. I have lived with Michael for 31 years and I can say, coming from my own experience that I have sometimes taken years to catch up and appreciate a new work.  His language is playful and joyful and quirky, so he is irreverent to style, material or representation.  It’s more important to him that he captures the essence of the life force itself and to him this energy is always moving, always growing, always changing. Saying this, it does not mean that Michael is not serious.  He is deeply idealistic and his sense of responsibility for life is precious to him, so he often notes in his work, the environment and its balance, challenging without fear the greed of industry.  Hence ‘The Catch‘ series and his factory series.

Water study
The animal who loves itself

Michael’s exhibition in Ponte a Serraglio at La Rondine Gallery, is a powerful representation of his work.    He wanted to express himself fully in this show, curated only by himself.  His painting, prints and drawings are bold and beautiful. His sculptures are an ‘eclectic’ mix, expressing his gentle meditative side, as with ‘The Animal who loves itself’ and ‘Portrait of a Bird’, but also his sense of fun, with his ’Portrait of the emotional artist’ and also his ‘Walking Man’, works that while being found objects, still are fully considered aesthetically.

La Rondine Gallery, Opening Night
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Swooping through the air, their forked tails and pointed wings in silhouette against brilliant blue skies, they arrive in spring and leave in autumn, busy all summer long, tending their babies and devouring the myriad of insects floating over the fields and waterways, chirping socially through the balmy twilight evenings on top of their nests under the eaves or on the boughs of leafy old trees. The swallows.  Joyous and free they still observe the rituals of season as do we artists, out and about in this bountiful haven in the warm seasons and gone to other warmer climes as the winters grow cold.  We have called our gallery in Ponte a Serraglio, La Rondine – The Swallow.

Opening at la Rondine gallery
Massimo Betti,(mayor), Michael Cartwright and Kevan Halson
at the opening
At the opening

One week ago the mayor of Bagni di Lucca,  Massimo Betti, opened the first exhibition of La Rondine Gallery, ‘Atrophy’, a series of photographs by Kevan Halson. Living in the hills above Bagni di Lucca, in a lovingly restored old villa, Kevan, talented in many fields, includes photography and printing in his repertoire of gifts.  He is often to be seen, laden with his camera equipment and a bunch of keys loaned to him by the commune, as he enters old buildings owned by the commune who have not the money available to them to restore or keep the buildings intact.  Bagni di Lucca with all its history and all its potential, is one of those special towns that needs a great patron to preserve it.

‘Atrophy’ is a series of small intimate photographs of the forgotten story of the Bagni di Lucca area, interior shots of tumbling villas and houses, old and decaying, snippets of another life, long gone, bits of rubbish left on old shelving, rubble up a staircase from a fallen roof, old tiles.  The colour of each of these works is beautiful.  Each photograph is almost a burnt black and white with one extreme colour standing out abstractly, a delicious turquoise, an apricot pink, patterns created by the lighting that create another level of resonance above the story of decay.  It’s a strange insight into Bagni di Lucca, but it is a true one.  Bagni di Lucca, so rich in history and patrons and beautiful buildings, has declined sadly and graciously; one by one the great old villas falling into themselves, relinquishing the life of the past, not much to remember them by except for a little wallpaper snippet or delicate engraved and broken glass, elegant staircases strewn with rubble from the toppling floors above.  Kevan’s photographs record the vision of a broken past, yet are poignantly beautiful art works in their own right.

La Rondine is manned by the exhibiting artists, so the opening hours are operated individually according to the exhibitor.  The casual nature of our agreements has allowed us to open the gallery doors.

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Our next exhibition on 24th August is by Jacob Cartwright.

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