Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Art Inspiration. Part 1.

Last Friday, after the train journey hell I went through on Thursday to get to see The Cure (who were, as always, utterly magnificent) in the soulless, corporate, cloakroomless hangar that is the O2, I had a rather relaxing day up in London with my boyfriend.

We decided to go for lunch on the South Bank and ended up walking up the river from Waterloo to London Bridge, popping in to the Tate Modern as we passed by. We wondered around the gallery for a while and became mentally scarred by a piece of explicit video art in the process (seriously, if you are planning on going to the Tate, avoid a video installation called Taboo… It.Was.Disturbing o_O).

Up in the Material Gestures room I came across three pieces of art, by three different artists that really caught my attention and even prompted the ex-art-student in me to whip out my notebook and scribble down some information and thoughts. These three pieces of art were all next to each other on the same wall – the grouping was so good – and inspired me through their inclusion of mixed media – college, magazine pages, beads, gems, glitter, acrylic, stacked paper… all stuff I love working with.

The first of these artists is Raqib Shaw (b.1974, India). His portrait entitled Jane takes the work of Hans Holbein the Younger - one of the most well known portrait artists of the Tudor period - and quite literally rips its guts out.

Above: Jane - Raqib Shaw. 2006.

Above: Jane Seymour - Hans Holbein. 1536/37.

Raqib’s Jane depicts Holbein’s Jane Seymour with her chest ripped open and several truly grotesque alien-like creatures bursting forth and cluttering the air above her. Her face has also been replaced by that of a piranha-esque beast. Fetching, no? But it is the gore’s juxtaposition with the hundreds and hundreds of beautiful, sparkling gems used to adorn the figure’s dress which really made the piece stand out to me. No photo could ever do the piece justice as you can’t see how intricate and vibrant the glitter and jewels really are. I got right up close to the piece and was so busy looking at the detail of the dress that I didn’t even notice the gruesome creatures for a while.
Back home I discovered that Raqib Shaw has done a whole range of Holbein-inspired portraits in this style as Holbein was the first Western painter Raqib came across when he arrived in London, aged 16.
Others from the series:

Top: Henry VIII - Raqib Shaw.
Above: Lady with Squirrel and Starling- Raqib Shaw.

Sorry that this has turned into a mini art essay! It’s not often I feel inspired to blog about “real art”, but I do think this piece, and the two others I have yet to blog about can inspire my own multimedia canvases in the future – and hopefully yours too! Who knows!

(images from channel4.com and wikipedia - not meant to infringe copyright)

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