Jennifer Letchet Paintings

My work explores fundamental elements of painting, the relationship between colour and line. I intend my paintings to affect the viewer optically with the illusion of shapes moving and receding. Colour theory is very important to my work. I use specific hues to symbolise ideas or emotions. The contained shapes on canvases seem more like objects than lines. My recent work explores natural and man-made disasters and the impact this has on our environment. I want to record the changing landscape through simplified shapes and colours.

Tuesday, 22 October 2013

Review: Endless Stair at Tate Modern 06.10.13

The Endless Stair designed by Alex de Rijke is made of 187 stairs and 436 metres of interlocking paths beside The Thames. 

De Rijke has designed this piece using 11.4 tonnes of American tulipwood, an abundant material which he predicts will be the dominant building material of the 21st century. He called it 'the new concrete’. 

From a distance this piece is visually impressive, and for anyone who saw Labyrinth with David Bowie, an absolute dream. 

The dream unfortunately dies as you step on Endless Stair. It soon becomes apparent your interaction options are fairly limited and due to the high volumes of visitors, the experience is more akin to queuing on the Underground. My excitement was fairly shortlived, and despite admiring the concept and design from a distance, I was unable to revel in the materials and form up close. 

Therefore, this piece works better as a sculpture or a photograph, but fails as an example of design or even as an installation piece. 

I think they call this Marmite Art. Unfortunately, I have more hate, than love for it.

Review: Serpentine Gallery's Summer Pavilion

Abstract Architecture

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2013 was designed by Sou Fujimoto and was on show until 20th October 2013. The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion lies between architecture and art. For me it is more of an abstract nod to the Minimalist sculptures of Donald Judd and geometric installations of Sol LeWitt. Therefore, this is not true architecture.

Does this matter? Do we need to define everything in absolute terms? Do we need definite labels, such as 'Art', 'Architecture', 'Sculpture', or 'Installation'. Can this not lie in between all of the above? Can this not be Abstract Architecture? 

Architecture is functional, it serves a purpose, to create space, to provide shelter and to be used for a specific function. The Pavilion is not fully functional. It serves as an aesthetically beautiful place to meet, socialise and eat. However, without a proper roof and being completely not water-tight this building is more of a temporary structure. 

Without solid walls, a foundation, or a roof, this structure provides the perfect scenic location. The geometric and cubic structure provides hundreds of frames to view Hyde Park and the Serpentine. You can be within and still be fully immersed into your surroundings. 

The materials and temporary nature of the installation discuss art with the language if form and line. Colour takes a backseat to allow the viewer to focus on the changing colours of the landscape and the pure geometry. 

So which is supreme? Is this art or architecture? I am inclined to go with 'art' . With this year's pavilion the aesthetic and concept supersedes the pavilion's function as an example of architecture. 

The Serpentine Gallery Pavilion

Focus on Geometry and blurred definitions of space

The creation of structure/space without traditional architecture conventions

The importance of line, form and structure

Friday, 21 June 2013

Observational Drawing

I've set myself an observational sketchbook project to get back into technical drawing. I want to spend more time focusing on the quality of line and the process of drawing. 

I thought that by setting myself an undefined project, I would have the freedom to create more expressive drawings and have the space to be more free with my mark-making. 

I don't see this as a project that will change my work, or set a precedent for a new series if works. Instead this is a project that will allow me to experiment and see my work from another perspective. 

In the photographs below I did a few drawings outside in the park. It's nice to get out if the studio and create art for the sake of creating. A firm of pure drawing, without intent or purpose.

Monday, 10 June 2013

Review: Summer Exhibition 2013 at the Royal Academy of Art 10/06/13

I went to see this year's Royal Academy of Art Summer Exhibition on the first day it opened to the public on Monday 10th June, mainly because I usually end up going near the end and it's always packed out.  I think everyone else who went on Monday thought the same thing too, because it was very busy!  It's busy for a reason, the Summer Exhibition is in it self a British Institution.  It is always and exciting and dynamic show.  There is always something for everyone from the print room, to abstract and figurative painting, sculpture and architecture.  For the art novice there are the recogniseable Tracey Emin's and Quentin Blake's, and for the art fan Ian Davenport's, Gillian Ayres' and Nash's sculptures.  In between all of the famous artists are Britain's finest amateur and student artists.  

Does this format actually work?

Personally, I think not.  It is patronising to the public.  The exhibition is portrayed as a show representing contemporary art from Britain, selected by the work's merit, not because of an artist's qualifications, fame or the brand they represent.  However, judging by the guide book to the exhibition, approximately 70% of all selected work has been entered by Royal Academians [i.e. Tracey Emin RA].  I am not resentful that these artists have been selected or have achieved their RA status.  The fact is that every artist with an RA after their name got into the exhibition free of charge, and automatically because of their status with the Royal Academy.

This devalues the Summer Exhibition as it becomes a showcase of the Royal Academians and a few lucky regular artists.  As a result this is not a show that represents Britain, but feels more like a self-publicised graduate show for alumni of the RA.

The Summer Exhibition needs to be organised, it needs to be anonymous.  In order to fully represent a range of artists' work from Britain, it needs to not rely on its own stock of artists, because at the moment this is a purely nepotist institution.  How would this work?  Artists, famous, students and amateur alike would be able to apply, pay the same fee and send their works in unsigned, untitled [that could give the game away] and presented unnamed.  A panel could judge all the works equally based on merit of the works, the technique, the materials and the concept.  We would then have a show that represented current art regardless of status.

A selection of my favourite pieces from the show:

[Please note with some artists I could not find the exact artwork as seen in the show, but have included below a similar piece by the artist as an example]

256 Colours 8Bit, by Ekkehard Altenburger

5 Colour Painting 3, by Nigel O'Neill

Open Block, by David Nash

It's All For You, by Claire Brewster

Tess Jaray

St. Kilda from Flannan Isles, Norman Ackroyd

Fumaroles, Iceland, Emma Stibbons

Gormire, by Jason Hicklin

The Parting, by Jane Harris

Maelstrom IV, by Marianne Ferm

Snowdonia, by Andrew George

Shard PM, by Lucy Bainbridge

Home of the Gentry, by Stephen Chambers

Brief Art 2013

Dust: 23.10.2012 Gulf of Alaska, 2012

This piece sold at Brief Art's exhibition in February, and all proceeds went to St. Margaret's Hospice, which is brilliant.

Review: Light Show at the Hayward Gallery 27/05/13

Light Show Catalogue design

The Light Show at the Hayward Gallery, South Bank was a visual feast for the eyes.  Words cannot express the sensations experienced at this exhibition.  The show felt more like a theme park, that is not to say it was juvenile, because it wasn't, but it was fun.  I love art and visiting the big exhibitions is a pleasure, a treat.  On the whole most exhibitions are static displays of objects, whether they be on the wall or a sculpture or installation placed in the conventional white cube space.  You view the work, you interpret the titles, materials and concepts.  However, this show threw viewing conventions out of the window.  You could not simply view the work, you became part of it.

You and I, Horizontal, 2005, by Anthony McCall

The gallery became a playground for the old and the young alike.  Viewers interact very differently with each piece, as most works affect your perception very differently.  The works act as optical illusions pushing and pulling your sensors.  The audience is stripped back from their self awareness, their sense of being.  We are led from through the blackest darkest corridors from room to room, feeling as we go, and wearing bags on our feet.  At the end of the tunnel is the brightest, most colourful, joyous light worth all the uncertainty.  Colours can warm and sooth.  Some rooms play on shadows, and movement, like Conrad Shawcross' installation.

Slow Arc Inside a Cube V, 2011, by Conrad Shawcross

Conrad Shawcross' work was simple in it's concept, and intricate in it's design.  A bulb rotated within a geometric patterned metal cube.  The overall effect was a rhythmic pattern covering the walls infinitely moving and changing in scale.  Personally, even though I knew the creation of movement was artificial, I felt unbalanced and my footing was confused.  Overall, the piece made me feel very uneasy.

Chromosaturisation, 2010, by Carlos Cruz-Diez

My favourite piece was by Carlos Cruz-Diez.  It felt like I was in an abstract painting.  Colour envelopes the viewer in a maze-like space with lots of angles, and different volumes of light.  The colours change as you walk through, they inhabit different parts of the space like in a composition of a painting.  Pure colour and pure light was the only focus, there were no walls, no floors, and no ceilings.

Among these new discoveries for me, such as Cruz-Diez and Shawcross; were the old favourites in terms of coloured light, David Batchelor and Dan Flavin.

Magic Hour, 2004/2007, by David Batchelor

Dan Flavin

Model for a Timeless Garden, 2011, by Olafur Eliasson

The work I struggled with the most was an installation by Olafur Eliason entitled Model for a Timeless Garden.  Using strobe lighting overwaterfalls in a sheer black room creates the most unsettling feeling.  It is hard to focus on each fountain, and even harder to remain in the room for longer than a few minutes.  This is the type of work that you love to hate, or realistically hate to love.  For you can only withstand to view it until the nausea creeps in.  However, despite the feeling of sickness, the room is beautiful, each fountain falls differently into unique cascades of water and shapes.

Overall, for me this was a beautiful exhibition, there were rooms I loved, exhibits I found hard to bear and individual pieces which provokes my senses to the limits.  This was a show which questioned your perceptions of light, colour, and movement.  I was left with a sense of wonder and awe. And the need for fresh air.

Monday, 28 January 2013

New Jersey October 2012 Flood Drawings

I've been going back to basics with my work as I start on a new series of drawings and paintings.  My last series was a collection of natural disasters and ecological wonders from around the world, such as disappearing lakes in Egypt, melting ice shelves in the Canadian Arctic, and expiring archipelagoes.

I was my next series to hone in on one specific theme, rather than an overarching title.  I want my work to explore natural disasters, but not just from one perspective.  I want to give detail, I want to take my work to new depths.

With my current drawings, I've been focusing on the flood disaster in the US in October 2012.  I have been finding source material from satellite imagery.  In the image above you can see my latest piece in progress.  This is potentially a preliminary sketch for a large piece.  It's still a work in progress, so I haven't worked out it's final designation.

As the drawing progresses, I have been adding tone to the flooded areas to give contrast to and form to the flooding.  I haven't decided yet as to whether this form of shading works best with these drawings.  I have used tone to give a sense of physicality, depth, form and three-dimensionality.  However, would not a flatter form of shading, which gave a more even layer of colour, work better in relation to maps?

I am unsure about the finished look of the drawing.  The lines and contours of New Jersey seem to disappear, to fizzle off like a fantasy land.  I'm not sure if the white space around my image works in relation to the object I am portraying.  Also, I have added physicality, tone, to the wet elements of my map: the ocean on both sides of the land, and the flooded areas.  I have given a sense of three-dimensionality to something which is transient, fluid.  Whereas, I think the areas most appropriate to tone would be land.  

I think this piece is a good starting point from which my new pieces can develop from.  Ideas about composition, tone and editing need to become a priority, as recently I have put these elements to the back of my mind.

I need to sort out composition and scale before I move on to colour, and start painting again.