Friday, 23 July 2010

Caught by Laxton.

After viewing Steven Laxton's collection of photographs, I found myself mesmerized by his ability to capture the inner emotion. The personal close-ups in 'faces' and the futuristic take on life, through the collection 'dystopian future', evoke a sense of isolation, furthering their intimate nature. Each and every collection is collaborated effectively, and the individual photographs portray a story about the characters concerned. Its like watching stills from a familiar film - their lives become exposed and vulnerable, drawing the viewer to create a connection and almost experience the emotions of the subjects for themselves, such as those in 'city nights' or the 'chinatown girl'. Laxton himself stated: "My inspiration comes from cinema, music, dance and painting, with my biggest influences being directors such as Krzysztof Kieslowski, Martin Scorsese, Wong Kai Wai and Alejandro González Iñárritu." He truly mastered the craft of stripping back the outer layers of his subjects in order to reveal their true identity, through catching them at their most impassioned moments.

Image sources: http://www.stevenlaxton.com/main.php
              http://www.commarts.com/fresh/steven-laxton.html

Sunday, 18 July 2010

Back in time.

The very moment you step onto the winding, cobbly streets of Oxford, you are forgiven for believing you have time warped back to the 17th century - the immaculately maintained, medieval buildings of the university play a huge role in the setting of this fairy tale land. However, during my recent trip, I had but one aim in mind: to explore each and every art scene within this historical city. Of course there was going to be an expansive collection of paintings, coming straight out of the Pre-Raphaelite era, along with the buildings to which they belong. Nevertheless, after a tour around the Ashmolean Museum, I came across the Modern Art gallery - a contemporary haven, hidden deep within Pembroke Street. It exuded a true, bohemian ambiance, whilst looking misfittingly avant-garde amongst the archaic architecture. The photos below show the works of Howard Hodkin (Modern Art), whose inluence for this particular exhibition was 'Time and Place'. To be frank, I've never been a keen follower of the modern artists - I mean, surely a 5 year old could have easily produced this contrasting mess of brush strokes? But this exhibition somehow played towards changing my initial views - it was most likely to have been the painting 'Sky' - a gem of blue tranquility enclosed within an ornate, gold frame. The spiraling, circular theme is consistant within the work, which I found suggestive of the neverending freedom of the sky, or perhaps, the circle of life, which is also often depicted through the imagery of the sky (heaven). Whatever the case may be, it definitely got me thinking about modernism on a much deeper level, overlooking the initial simplicity of the artwork.


Ashmolean museum staircase
'Miss Ruth Stewart Hodgson' by Frederic Lord Leighton stood out to me immediately - the contrast with the dark background makes the painting bolder and infuses it with a sinister underlay.
Howard Hodgkin:

'In Egypt'

'Ozone'
'The Sky's The Limit'


Bodleian library