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Felim Egan (1952) and the Stedelijk Museum

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I had never heard of Felim Egan, but when i saw one of his paintings ( for the first time at Seasons gallery in Den Haag) i became an admirer. A free kind of constructivist abstraction in soft colors, which looks like Irish mist over a landscape. Later i found 2 publications on this artist which are now available at www.ftn-books.com so when i encountered these i decide to write  a blog on an artist of whom i did not know very much except that he had exhibited in the Stedelijk Museum. I searched and found this article on his Felim Egan’s own website : www.felimegan.ie

FELlM EGAN was born in lreland in 1952 and studied at Belfast and Portsmouth, England before attending the Slade School of Art in London. He then spent a year at the British School at Rome in 1980 before returning to Dublin. Since then he has lived and worked at Sandymount Strand and the Docklands, on the edge of Dublin Bay.

He is known as a painter of restrained eloquence, who sparingly deploys a vocabulary of hieroglyphic motifs over monochromatic expanses of colour. His paintings are built up slowly with layers of thin colour applied to the surface and stone powder ground into the acrylic. The work is universal in spirit and at the same time emotionally intimate. His paintings are epiphanic, in that they convey to us the essential nature or meaning of something of which we were previously unaware. He is an abstract artist, a painter of quite formal abstract images, and yet his work is tied to the place he lives and works, to the long horizons, big skies and empty sands of the Strand and sea. In this way his abstract paintings are almost landscapes, with a magical quality that his neighbour, the poet Seamus Heaney, has aptly described “a balance of shifting brilliances”.

Egan has exhibited widely across Europe with 72 solo exhibitions since 1979 including major shows at the lrish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin,1996 and the Stedelijk Museum in Amsterdam, 1999. In 1981 he represented Ireland at the Xie Biennale de Paris and in 1985 at the San Paulo Bienal. In 1993 he won the prestigious UNESCO prize in Paris, and in 1995 the Premiere Prize at Cagnes-sur-Mer. His work hangs in numerous public collections including the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin; the Ulster Museum, Belfast; the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, and the collection of the European Parliament. Major Commissions include; Dublin Castle; National Gallery of Ireland: O’Reilly Hall, UCD; Meeting House Square, Temple Bar; Pavilion Theatre, Dunlaoghaire; City Quay Building, Dublin; New Providence Wharf, London; the National Gallery of Ireland; Deutsche Bank, UK and Dublin and a large scale public ‘sculptural work’ at Cork Street, Dublin.
In 2005 he completed an installation of paintings at Deutsche Bank Headquarters, Dublin.

Felim Egan is a member of Aosdána.

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Marc Mendelson (1915-2013)

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Born in the UK, but worked and lived for most of his life in Belgium. He is considered to be part of the Cobra mouvement, but was not a participating member of the mouvement. Many people know his work without knowing that it is by Mendelson, because the mural in Brussel’s subwaystation “Parc” is by his hand. The development of his style and work is something special because he started as a figurative painter, became an abstract one and for the final part of his life he became a figurative painter again. Personally i stumbled upon his works , because at one time i could buy a large book on him in a remainder sale and became fascinated by his abstract works and maybe i can convince you with this blog too of his qualities as a painter and  to read something more about Mendelson after seeing these beautiful abstract paintings.

Books on Mendelson are available at www.ftn-books.com

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I love the works by Victor Pasmore (1908-1998)

 

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Victor Pasmore (1908 – 1998) was born in Chelsham, Surrey, the son of a well-known physician and mental specialist and an amateur painter. He was educated at Harrow School where he first became seriously interested in painting. Following the sudden death of his father he had to abandon his studies at the Central School of Arts and Crafts where he had studied under A. S. Hartrick, an artist who had worked in France and who knew van Gogh. Pasmore, who had expected to go Oxford and then on to The Slade School of Art, now had to find employment as a clerk in the Public Health Department in London instead, a job he held until 1937.

During this time he joined the London Artists’ Association and had his first solo exhibition at their Cooling Galleries on Bond Street in 1933. In 1937 Pasmore left the Public Health Department and formed an independent art school with fellow artists Claude Rogers, Graham Bell and William Coldstream in Fitzroy Street. The school’s first show in 1938 coincided with its move to 316 Euston Road which led to the art critic Raymond Mortimer to identify them as the Euston Road Group. Pasmore himself moved to a studio at 8 Fitzroy Street, formerly occupied by Sickert and Whistler, and spent his time teaching and painting.

Pasmore abandoned visual representation and developed a purely abstract style in 1947. His work, often in collage and construction of reliefs, pioneered the use of new materials and was sometimes on a large architectural scale. He held his first abstract solo exhibition at the Redfern Gallery, London, in 1948. Herbert Read, an important art critic of the time, described Pasmore’s new style as ‘The most revolutionary event in post-war British art’. In the summer of 1950 he visited St Ives where he became associated with Ben Nicholson and Barbara Hepworth and joined the Penwyth Society, the local exhibiting group. www.ftn-books.com has some nice Pasmore titles available.

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peaceful uneasy feeling…Emil Schuhmacher (1912-1999)

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At the time Rudi Fuchs was director of the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, he organized an exhibition with works by Emil Schumacher in the just finished “Polak” zalen of the Gemeentemuseum. These rooms are on the ground floor and you have to pass these when you enter the museum by its back entrance where the personel enters the museum. It is just some 45 meters, but every time i passed these paintings by Schumacher i got an uneasy feeling. Perfect abstract paintings but because of the layers of paint these paintings almost were “organic” in their appearance and this organic quality made me uneasy everytime i passed them. What else can be said about them?… these paintings were impressive but i never would one for myself , because this feeling i got from them was to unpleasant to ever want one. A work of art not has not to be beautiful, nor being pleasing in its appearnce, but the way Schumacher paintings evoked feelings with me is the reason i never will want one for my collection. Still these abstract paintings have a great abstract quality and in some cases even a peaceful one.

There are some Schumacher titles available at www.ftn-books.com

the above titles are available at www.ftn-books.com

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Gabi Dziuba (1951)

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Jewelry artist and a lifetime friend of Günther Förg. Both had a different approach to art. Where Günther Förg chose for abstract geometric painting. Gaby Dziuba chose for jewelry. I think it is fair to say that Dziuba was Günther Förg his “muse”. He used Dziuba on many occasion as his model in his photographs and this is the reason why i would like to show in this blog that one specific catalogue is very important as an artist book. Dziuba had in 1998 a solo exhibition in the Gemeentemuseum Den Haag. The catalogue with this exhibition did not sell very well, but when you look into the colofon, you will find that many of the photographs within the catalogue were taken by Günther Förg. An excellent reason to pick up this catalogue for a reasonable price at www.ftn-books.com. It is still available , but when people realize that this is a disguised artist book by Günther Förg it will be picked up by many and will become a rare collectible.

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Jaap van de Ende (1944)…an abstract constructivist

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Personally i think that Jaap van den Ende is the only true successor of Jan Schoonhoven. Specially his early works have the similar qualities as the ones Schoonhoven made in the sixties and early seventies. The Stedelijk Museum has some excellent examples of these early works in which little cut out pieces of grey plastic foil are placed on a white surface according a well though over pattern. the System and pattern make the composition, but thus creating a fascinating , lively work of art.

A little like the way Struycken worked, but with a simplicity that resembles the great early Sol LeWitt works. I love this early works, Later he changed his style into more colorful compositions, but always along a line of well thought over abstract contructivist forms. Since 1997 his works become far more realistic. Seascapes, parks and landscapes are all painted with perfection . a fascinating artist which you can encounter in several dutch museum collections. There are some nice van den Ende publications available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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Arshile Gorky (1904-1948)

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Friend of famous surrealists like Breton, Tanguy and Matta, but above all finding his own way in painting . Influenced by Picasso, Cezanne and later Miro, Gorky received several exhibitions in the Netherlands. The dutch public was spoiled by the exhibitions in the Stedelijk and Boijmans and this was something different. It wasn’t abstraction as they encountered it in the fifties and sixties, but it also was not surrealism as the Boijmans had had on show.

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It was a symbiosis between cubism and surrealism and this combination made Gorky stand out from the other painters from his generation and for this combination he would become known after his suicide in 1948. There are some nice Gorky publications available at www.ftn-books.com

 

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Jaap Nanninga (1904-1962)

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Jaap Nanninga was born in Winschoten in the north of the Netherlands but after travels to Germany and Poland he settled in Den Haag in 1936, where he stayed and worked his entire life. meber of the famous Posthoorn group het met his friends artist for drinks and dinners at the POSTHOORN cafe at the Voorhout in Den Haag ( and yes…it is still there and serves the finest “Bitterballen” in Den Haag. He received his artist eductaion from Werkman and Wiegers and stayed for a short moment with Geer van Velde in Paris. These 3 artists made Nanninga the artist which we know nowadays. Abstract compositions rooted in the Fifties . a little Cobra mixed with abstract expresionism. Many dutch museum have some great Nanninga’s, but one museum i would like to mention specially is the FIGURA painting in the van Abbemuseum collection. Powerful and typically Fifties abstraction.

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www.ftn-books.com has some nice Nanninga titles available

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Ruri Matsumoto (1981)

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Sometimes you encounter works by an artist for which you have an instant liking and admiration. This is the case with Ruri Matsumoto. She was born in Tokyo and had her education in Japan and Germany. This is where she followed lessons with Helmut Federle and Markus Lupertz a.o.. She stayed after her education in Germany and now has her own studio in Dusseldorf, which she will leave for a temporary studio in Berlin until January 2018.

Her works are characterized by the use of  very bright colors and are compositions of almost random like patterns formed with tape, but look more closely….. you will find layers of abstract constructivist forms making a spectacular work of art. Of course art is always something personal and subjective, but i like these paintings very much and because there is this rare chance to see her works at Livingstone Gallery i write this blog to let you know that until the 4th of November some of her works are on show in the PAINTING NOW exhibition, curated by Jan Wattjes.

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To get an excellent impression of her works please visit:

https://www.rurimatsumoto.com and of course http://www.livingstonegallery.nl/home

for the information on the exhibition at Livingstone gallery in The Hague

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Joel Fisher (1947)

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Quote from a Joel Fisher catalogue :

“Sometimes, though not always, old meanings invade the new forms and hold on with a tenacity that cannot be broken. At other times the forms are innocently open to any of the uses we might make of them.”

Joel Fisher is the master of making little works of art that mock with the abstract figuration. He was not that frequently invited to have an exhibition in the Netherlands , but i know of 2 occasions that there was one. The first in 1978 in the Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, which catalogue is available at www.ftn-books.com

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and secondly a far more obscure exhibition in gallery Art Affairs in 1993. Both were rare occasions to see his works, but what i remember most is the pure simplicity of his drawings.

With a few lines he shows that he is almost perfect in his composition, which is a true quality. I like it very much when with so little effort such a nice result is created. These are not random lines, but carefully created compositions. It is the quality i like so much in an artist. and for me Fisher operates with his art in the same category as Miro and Ouborg.

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Antonio Saura (1930-1998)

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When you mix Jackson Pollock with Jean Dubuffet with a topping of a little bit Picasso you get Antonio Saura. Abstraction at his best, because within the composition one always can recognize something realistic. A face , a body , some houses they are all there if you find the rest to study these great paintings. This is not simple, easy art, but it needs to be savored in a slow way. Because the fist impression is chaos, one tends to walk away from it, but just give it a minute or two and the paintings opens up to you.

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La grande foule, 1963, oil on canvas, 220 x 515 cm

It is a pity that there are so few of these fascinating Saura paintings in the Netherlands, but once you have a chance to visit the modern art museums in Spain they are easy to spot and to enjoy. www.ftn-books.com is fortunate to have a nice selection of books on Saura including the Stedelijk Museum catalogue by Wim Crouwel.

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Rene Daniels (1950)

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His first exhibition was in Dusseldorf in 1977, but he nver joined the NEUE WILDEN . A group of painters who were in vogue in those days. He felt himself more comfortable when compared with painters like Broodthaers and Picabia, who had an extra layer in their paintings.

His paintings look abstract, but when you study them in more detail you see that they are a complete abstract reproduction of reality. . Piccadilly/London, WTC New York and old houses in Gent can all be distinguished when you look long enough at the paintings.

The paintings look simple, but in reality they are very thought over and are complex and typical Daniels.

Rene Daniels has not had a long career …in 1987 he had a stroke and because of that had to finish his career at that moment as a painter. Since 2006 he paints again , but his style and approach to painting has changed, because of his motor skills are far less than before. But what he made in that very short period of nearly 10 years is of the highest quality and the museums that have work by Daniels should feel lucky to have it in their collections. You can find work(s) by Daniels in the collections of a.o. the van Abbemuseum, Gemeentemuseum Den Haag, Stedelijk Museum, Dordrechts Museum, Groninger Museum and Bonnefanten Museum

and of course www.ftn-books.com has some nice titles on the artist

( and search on the site to find more Rene Daniels contributions to group exhibitions in which he participated)