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Art and the Russian Revolution

I didn’t foresee that one post-Christmas morning spent vegetating on the sofa, I would become quite so enraptured in Doctor Zhivago on the telly. I couldn’t resist it. It took over quite a substantial portion of my day, but it was worth it! Based on Boris Pasternak’s 1957 novel Doctor Zhivago, our hero Yuri played by the enigmatic Omar Sharif experiences cataclysmic changes in his country ’s culture and politics and responds to the revolutionary fervour of 1917

           “Just think what extraordinary things are happening all around us!” Yuri said. “Such things happen only once in an eternity… Freedom has dropped on us out of the sky!”

I then discovered an apt and informative article by Martin Sixsmith writing about ‘The Story of art in the Russian Revolution’ published 20th December 2016 https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/article/art-and-the-russian-revolution .

Written to coincide with The Royal Academy blockbuster exhibition Revolution: Russian Art 1917-1932on from11th February to 17th April 2017

https://www.royalacademy.org.uk/exhibition/revolution-russian-art

Martin Sixsmith describes a momentous exhibition marking the centenary of the Russian Revolution, He charts the course of a pivotal period in art, from euphoric creativity to eventual repression.

He also describes Pasternak’s imagery as febrile, hopeful, anticipating a new beginning and a new life. You can feel the excitement in the Russian air. He references the film of the novel in the form of Lara and Yuri and the love they had for each other which grew from adversity and how he as an artist/poet survived and developed despite and also because of the extreme circumstances into which they were flung.

Some artists in Russia were to renounce their art under the immense pressure of war, however some flourished in the immergence of a liberated country. 1917 saw the blossoming of Avant Garde art that had been there under the surface for many years before including the work of Wassily Kandinsky, Kazimir Malevich and Marc Chagall.  Suppression and being very closed off from western culture forced artists who were already very innovative to take completely new directions.

Futurism, Suprematism and constructivism among other movements were born. From this you can understand why this period in art history is so fascinating and influential.

Kazimir Malevich

(An example of Suprematist art by Kazimir Malevich in 1916)

 

The exhibition at the Royal Academy -covers one hundred years on from the Russian Revolution, this powerful exhibition explores one of the most momentous periods in modern world history through the lens of its ground-breaking art.

I have a personal interest in matters of Russian art, from a purely theoretical point of view being heavily influenced by constructivist art in my early days as an artist and from having been lucky enough to visit Russia and experience it first hand in the nineties.

Not too many people might know but Chester was at that time twinned with Ekaterinburg near the heart of the Ural Mountains in Russia. It was the thing then to be twinned with as many towns in as many counties as possible. Chester Hosted several artists from Ekaterinburg. They stayed with local families and had an exhibition at the Grosvenor Museum in Chester. Lectures were held so people could learn about Russian art, the history and what it was like to be a contemporary artist in Russia at that time. We are talking 1996-97.

In return three artists were selected to go to Russia to exhibit examples of Chester Artists work in the Ekaterinburg Museum of Fine Arts. I, along with Russell Kirk, (painter) and Jos Wright (installation artist) were chosen.

It was an adventure to be sure but also an education in many ways. We were provided with studio spaces in the annals of the museum along with one of Russia’s foremost icon restorers.

The Museum housed many important artists’ work, some had been left behind after being rescued from The Hermitage during the great Patriotic war.

This is the part I was just a little bit excited about. On a tour of the collection by our renowned icon restorer we came across a room of modernist work, including one small sized painting by Kazimir Malevich painted in a typical suprematist style. “touch it” he says “no! I couldn’t possibly” I said of course, “it’s ok, it’s my work, I restored it” He turned it over and showed me the back. Indeed there was a huge patch of new canvas on the back. He told me during a flood a piece of wood had gone right through it and he had had to repair it. I have never seen such a good job, you absolutely could not tell anything untoward had ever happened to it. How do you restore a red block of colour without leaving any evidence? I stroked the canvas on the back with my fingers as though touching it would somehow bring me closer to the artist himself.

Just one amazing thing that happened on our slightly surreal busman’s holiday. Another was being able to get an insight into what it was really like to be creative in a place like Russia at that time. I was told that unlike the great metropolis cities of St. Petersburg and Moscow some parts of Russia were still playing catch up. I didn’t need to be told this as it was immediately obvious. Ekaterinburg had only been properly open to the west since 1985. Although struggling financially It was as though it was culturally flourishing once more in a as it had done in 1917.

It was so different to my own experience, children were educated about culture in a classical way. Children learnt mathematics whilst listening to classical music and students were taught art by learning how to draw the human body anatomically. It felt as though we were living in some sort of parallel universe, what kind of art would I be producing if I lived here? So; this was then. If Russian art was a butterfly emerging in 1917 and in 1997, what is like it now nearly 20 years on?

What better way to learn about how innovative, pioneering and aspirational work can spring from adversity than to experience it as first hand as you can. The Royal Academy are reconstructing a Russian apartment designed for communal living along with everyday objects such as ration coupons and textiles to help us stand in their revolutionary shoes.    Limitless and aspirational, this is an important exhibition marking this historic centenary in an evocative and grittily realistic way.

by Lucy E. Jones

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Feeling Lucky

 

 

Amy  -Queen of Hearts,  Dan Pearce

Amy -Queen of Hearts,
Dan Pearce

You might have noticed a slight shift in emphasis regarding our recent acquisitions in the gallery of late. Well you’re not imagining it, we have indeed been broadening our horizons, to include a whole raft of current and popular artists who have firmly established themselves in a growing movement of contemporary urban art, including genre’s such as Graffiti and pop art styles.

Don’t be mistaken though, if you think we are attempting to introduce a new era in art, we are most definitely not. I would like to write a little about how this current wave draws from the rich history of abstract expressionism and pop art, and has been growing stronger and stronger by the day to the point where it is accepted by the mainstream audience in a way it has never been before.

And if you think I’m going to write an intellectual critique worthy of a Uni assignment you’ve got another thing coming too. Just so you know!

But let’s talk about the big boys, from Robert Rauschenberg to Andy Warhol, for a moment. Credit where it’s due and all that. I have to thank the BBC and Alastair Sooke for reminding us about how wonderful Robert Rauschenberg was in their programme, Robert Rauschenberg pop-art pioneer.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b085k35h/robert-rauschenberg-pop-art-pioneer

It’s a must watch if possible. I first discovered Rauschenberg as a student and it opened up a whole new world to me of using found objects in an interactive way and combining striking images with textures and objects that were considered the detritus of modern life. Elevating the household to the level of high art was a hugely significant mark that he left for us.

I can never decide whether to call him an abstract expressionist or a pop-artist and that is because he was the link between the two. More commonly associated with Jasper Johns and Andy Warhol and the fact that he continued to work until 2008 when he died, it is easy to forget how long he had been creating work.

Quite rightly the programme celebrates his collaborative style and his fearless nature and to coin an all too used phrase his ability to ‘think outside of the box’ Well, that was his speciality.

Jasper Johns also used everyday items that could be found around the home. Such items included beer cans, light bulbs, and paint brushes. But he was famous for his use of maps and flags. These images became household images particularly ones depicting the American flag, engraved onto our retina as a symbol of bold American modern pop-art.

I don’t really feel the need to talk about Andy Warhol as such as, well, he was Andy Warhol! All I might need to mention is soup perhaps, right? That’s it, you are getting the idea.

Over the 50’s and 60’s artists were discovering the ability to reproduce. The innovations which were found in screen printing, lithography, and etching, would completely revolutionize this field of art. Why produce an image from scratch when perfectly good ones already exist? And why produce only one image which can be sold only once when you could produce many. This medium would also allow for much greater experimentation than before as well, endless permutations and variations could be created allowing greater expression.

 

To be an artist you have to give up everything, including the desire to be a good artist.”
-Jasper Johns

 

There was a sort of anti-art going around which appealed to young people and took away the elitist stigma associated with high art.

That sentiment links in with the growing frenzy for graffiti art over the next few decades from both sides of the Atlantic.  Accessible to all and drawing from our heros of pop art.

Of course, graffiti art has it’s own heros such as Jean-Michel Basquiat. The New York artist whose work reflected  hip hop culture, post punk and street art, bringing everything into the mix.

Here in the Silver Star Gallery, Chester we have amongst others, the work of SR47, Mr Sly, Sage Barnes, and most recently Dan Pearce, whose work features people and iconic images that evolve from the world of celebrity and fame.

If I listed the artwork we have in stock it might seem to some like reading from a guest list for a red carpet event in Hollywood. Such is the magnetism our icons have for us.

It is no coincidence or chance that we as a culture are slightly obsessed with the idea of fame. It is not also surprising that we keep returning to images of Marylin Monroe or the Queen for instance. They are buried in our psyche as much as our own face in the mirror.

Will we ever tire of Audrey Hepburn or Jonny Rotten? I think not. The Union Jack or the Stars and Stripes? never. Miss out on the opportunity to constantly remake and reinvent, experiment and push the boundaries, tweek and alter? No, definitely not.

These works as with many before reflect the music, the film and popular culture that we all can associate with, they pay homage to, offer tributes to, immortalise, and express but most of all they reflect us.

 

We all need to mix it up, push boundaries, celebrate our similarities and our differences, and even plagiarise, so I’ll leave you with this: “You gotta ask yourself one question, Do I feel lucky?, well do ya, punk?”

 

By Lucy

 

 

art fair 6

Silver Star Shining bright at Chester Arts Fair

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We at Silver Star Gallery are proud to announce that we will be taking part, you could say have a ‘starring role’ in the highly esteemed Chester Arts Fair held at Chester Racecourse this year from the 18th-20th November 2016.

You will find us on block 1 on the ground floor, please come and introduce yourself and say hello, we would love to meet you.

Including all mediums and styles the fair aims to offer everyone the chance to view and buy affordable and contemporary art at this yearly event. It offers the public the opportunity to choose from hundreds of paintings and sculptures from a wide variety of artists including those that work in other 3D mediums all in one place.

From previous visits to the fair I know that there’s certainly a buzzy atmosphere that is also relaxed enough that you won’t be afraid to approach the staff and gallery owners for an insight into the artworld. In such a lovely environment, the Chester Art Fair really can offer something for everyone.

Located at Chester’s famous historic racecourse, now, a mecca for high profile events and meetings we are lucky enough to also be located right in the heart of Chester. In-fact we are only a stone’s throw away from the racecourse. Why bother then, you might say?  Well, to us it’s a unique chance to meet and engage with art lovers, artists and other businesses servicing the arts all under one roof, to make links and interact with all visitors from Chester and much further afield.

We want to showcase the very best art and introduce our artists to a wider audience. We want to show artists what we can offer them, ie. our personal friendly approach. We make a point of getting to know all our artists personally so we can help each other and we can represent them in the very best way to our customers. Not only that but we also offer our very own in-house bespoke framing service. Quality and value are guaranteed.

It is great to be involved in the vibrant art scene that exists here in Chester, there is a wealth of cultural dynamism with a strong reputation for quality and individualism. The many art galleries and organisations work together to help make the visitor experience memorable.

Chester is known as a place that draws in shoppers from wide and far, as well as those that are fascinated by it’s 2000 year history and those that simply come to be surrounded by it’s beautiful architecture and enjoy it’s hospitality. So it’s not surprising that many will choose to make a weekend of it, spend a stimulating afternoon at the art fair, wander into town for a coffee or a meal and maybe end up in one of Chester’s many music venues or watering holes.  There are excellent transport links, via train or by car, and free parking is available for visitors to the art fair.

It’s an exciting but daunting thing to take part in any large-scale event or trade fair, but one that is rewarding in so many ways. I’m sure it will be our ‘time to shine’, here at Silverstar!

We hope that in addition to visiting our stall in the art fair you might also find the time to visit our Art Gallery down romantic Godstall Lane, opposite Chester Cathedral, right in the heart of Chester, where you can find plenty more paintings from your favourite artists.

Cheshire’s premier arts event, Chester Arts Fair, will be taking place from 18-20 November at Chester Racecourse. Visitors can view and buy art from over 90 UK & International galleries and emerging & established artists. The Fair attracts visitors with a genuine passion for art, from serious collectors to those investing in their first piece of original art.

It is one of the few fairs around today which exhibits current art and living artists as well as well-known Artists from over the last century. The exhibiting galleries bring to the fair some of the most exciting contemporary art work existing in modern society.

So, It is with great anticipation that we prepare for what will undoubtedly be a ‘glittering’ event for Chester. We look forward to wowing you with our artistic offerings, and maybe one piece in particular might ‘shine out’ to you (ok, that was the last of the puns)!

All the artwork we are taking will be for sale at the Chester Arts fair. We specialise in affordable original artwork, many of our artists working in acrylic or oil with a few working in watercolour and pastels. Our artists work in a wide variety of styles and genre’s so hopefully we will have something to suit everyone’s taste and pocket.

If you come to the Chester Arts Fair as a result of reading this or any of our marketing we would love to know. It helps us know what works and what doesn’t. So please let us know when you speak to us.

If you like what we do, and would like to be kept informed about any future events we may have at the Gallery or elsewhere, please leave your email address with the staff on our stand and we will make sure that you don’t miss out. Believe me we have big plans for lots of exciting art events. Watch this space.

Follow us on social media on twitter Silver star Gallery @silverstarste,  facebook @Silver Star Gallery and instagram @silverstargallery

If you want more information about the fair please look at this website  http://www.chesterartsfair.co.uk/