Friday, 24 June 2011

UnMasterclass 26

UnMasterclass is halfway through it's years worth of programming and we can only hope that a few of you have decided to stumble along to your local, or not so local, gallery and have a look at some paintings up close and personal. That is all we can really ask of you. Painting cannot be seen and understood truly and properly in reproduction. And this week the photographer Thomas Struth came to mind in a rather strange way. As usual UnMasterclass read the sports section of the paper on the bus on the way to the studio, before turning to the rest of the paper, between headlines of Wimbledon rain, escalating war budgets and did he or didn't he revelations of Louis Walsh we happened to be confronted with a rather large snap of Liz and Phil in some grand room somewhere or other We  were rather surprised to find Master Struth has been called upon to take the official 90th birthday snaps of Prince Phillip before turning the page. The image lingered and we recalled the rather fine interview with Struth (which strangely does not mention the honour of photographing the English royalty, but we digress) and specifically  a response to Mark Prince's question about how Struth came to set up his camera in museums.
"Photographing the restorers in Naples brought me back to painting. the restorers have to go deep into the surface of the painting and analyse what the artist did from the ground up. I knew I was not going to resume painting myself, but i was thinking about this process as a form of resurrection. Famous paintings in some museums are almost like tombstones in cemeteries. When people approach a Turner or Delacroix they have so much anxiety to connect with them directly. I thought I would do something to remind people how great painting is."
We of course would never dream of casting ourselves in comparison to the greatness of Struth here at UnMasterclass (after all how did Buckingham palace ask to do the royal portrait, we certainly did not get the call) but in many ways our aim of what we do here is in parallel with the master photographer's closing remark of the quote above. All we want to do is make people remember how great painting is. To remind people that it is not easy, simple, dated, passée or without great and relevant meaning. And alongside the prompt to the gallery we also hope to encourage those that want to paint to learn from paintings in the flesh, not from reproductions. However a painted copy of a Thomas Struth museum photograph is certainly something we would encourage anyone to take the baton up for. So as ever we say pop along to a museum, see a painting in the oil paint flesh and breath it in and spend time contemplating and trying to enter the painters mind. And maybe if you are so willing or need a prompt to don your hat and get out to the museum then pop along to see the halfway through the season UnMasterclass here

Friday, 17 June 2011

UnMasterclass 25

Chris Burden once made a piece of work called Pearl Harbour  which was imagined to be a cacophony of 40 wind-up aeroplanes playing above the gallery audiences heads, with searchlights shining up to catch them in the beams. As each plane ran out of energy someone would be on call to collect, wind it back up and launch back up into the crowd of other planes flying around. Possibly the inevitable happened, failure as planes hit into the audience who thought they could run off with them for having had this honour bestowed upon them and numbers soon dwindles down to 2 or 3 planes at a time struggling in the air as those not stolen or broken got stuck in beams and crevices in the walls and ceiling. Burden said of the experience, "I'm sure the organisers of the event were disappointed, but I was quite elated. I'd been so wrong in my expectations. It was a total unsuccess in that sense, because it was a failure in what I'd imagined it to be....You're supposed to have a logical reason for everything. Everything is empirical and since since most of us are a product of years and years of education, the answer that 'oh that feels right' or 'That's the way to go', is basically unacceptable to society. To trust your intuition is exactly the opposite of any sort of formal education." And within these words is much for UnMasterclass to applaud. We of course are all for unlearning to relearn. All the paintings we copy are involved with a process of unsuccess, we are bound to failure by attempting to mimic the past masters' works and more so by doing so with the most pathetic of means. And yet by rejecting all that our education and training tells us to do and relying on intuition then we believe we enter into a new form of (un)learning that leads us to new and interesting places. We are interested in something unacceptable to society whilst also mimicking and revealing the means by which this society seeks to fast-track through to results, often at lesser rather than greater means of rigour. With painting, one must learn from painting itself, from doing it day in and day out, constantly learning and by looking to the paintings of the past and learning from analysis of how others produced what they did and how they did it. To think one can paint from filling a surface with paint and to think one knows a painting by looking at a reproduction is folly of course, and the results of UnMasterclass hopefully prove that. We suggest you view our latest creation, visit a gallery and compare with the great paintings on the wall and then maybe set off a wind-up aeroplane. TO view UnMasterclass 25 please go to here

Friday, 10 June 2011

UnMasterclass 24

UnMasterclass recently met an artist who, though we were both aware of each other, we had not met before. We spoke of our work and he mentioned he had seen UnMasterclass. Interestingly he said he had seen one all the way through and part of a second one, he saw no point in watching any more as he got it from seeing one and would benefit from doing something else that watching any more UnMasterclasses, something we of course agreed heartily with him. This did make us question why we have committed to painting and uploaded our copies of paintings each week for a year. Why do 52 times, what you can do equally well with 1. Well there are many reasons, but none better than the difference between the maker of an artwork and the viewer of it. For us to paint one copy of a painting and post it on the internet is a insignificant gesture, one that would mean very little to us or the viewer. By repeating the act, then a critique of painting can start to unravel, one that you only need to watch one of, but that would be worthless without the knowledge of the fact of 51 other similar acts that exist. And, of course , you could we possibly unlearn how to paint in one episode, we need a full spectrum of the history of painting in order to fully show how not to learn how to paint.
This week a snowy French scene from Alfred Stanley's repertoire is tackled by UnMasteclass and might be one worth watching, or you have seen one other UnMasterclass then maybe not. 

Sunday, 5 June 2011

UnMasterclass 23

UnMasterclass experienced something akin to how we feel each week on completion of painting our copies of copies of paintings at The University of Lincoln's fine art degree show this week. We were ushered into a lecture theatre and instructed to be quiet and wait for instructions. Before us lay a pencil and pencil sharpener......and an exam paper, something we left behind at A-level. Soon we were asked to begin our papers and were told we had 15 minutes to complete the rather thick examination paper. We were first confronted with a question asking us to define post-modernism, followed by a series of tasks such drawing our impression of Charles Saatchti, putting various art movements in order (some of which we could swear did not exist) and having to stand up and clap our hands quietly. We did not complete our task, having several questions to finish as the invigilator told us sternly to put our pencils down. the failure was not complete, we had further public humiliation to come as we all gathered at the front to have our papers marked. Our nerves increased as we saw others before us fail at the first hurdle for ignoring the instruction to write their names on the front page. We started to think why are we here, surely we became artists to escape the regiment and dross of the exam? How can we fail our art exam? Surely all those that did not put their names on should pass for being subversive? A big clunk of a FAIL stamp was pressed in red onto the papers of all those who had failed and were handed back with a flurry. Our turn came and with a flurry of red ticks our hopes and chances of passing started to look brighter. Till we got to the questions we had not answered and with one red biro cross the paper was shut and FAIL permanently inked on. We have been here before. Each UnMasterclass is a failure. But in art how can you fail? Surely it is right that an artist failed the art exam we had been presented with? Surely it was right that although we failed every question we did put down was right? UnMasterclass like the exam is not about failure as such, more that there is no wrong way, to fail is to succeed. Here at UnMasterclass we do not revel in failure, more that we unlearn what we know to move on. To see this weeks UnMasterclass go to to fail an art exam visit Lincoln's degree show.