Apartment 31 by Andrew Holmes
The New English Art Club (NEAC), established in 1886, is part of the Federation of British Artists and they are currently holding their annual exhibition at the Mall Galleries in London. The show represents members’ work along with up to one hundred non-member submissions chosen from over two thousand entries. Member artists and the submitted works encompass many different techniques in various mediums and the exhibition provides the visitor with an interesting and diverse collection to view.
On the website, they say:
“The New English Art Club is a group of around ninety professional painters whose work is based principally upon direct observation of nature and the human figure. We aim to foster excellence in all our activities and continue to assist and encourage the art of painting to develop even more expressive possibilities.
Our Annual Exhibition is a showcase for our members and gives aspiring artists an opportunity to be seen alongside some of the best figurative artists painting today.”
Over the past 18 months, Andrew has been exploring how we assimilate the divergence of information that we receive through so many media outlets, all promoting differing opinions and agendas. These influences can include: an obsession with celebrity status, fashion, luxury and wealth, but equally, everyday needs and desires, implications of political choices or even, desperate images of natural disaster. Alongside this, we see remarkable new discoveries and extraordinary achievements. Andrew initially decided to paint a collection inspired by found pieces as backgrounds for some of his figurative work.
Apartment 31 started out as a study piece painted on paper in 2017, which Andrew then decided to submit to the NEAC as a stand alone piece. The member judges alter each year and so the work they select will vary accordingly which means that each annual show will offer a different dynamic. However, the group’s aim continues to be based on a strong appreciation for enquiry and observation and this clearly provides incentive for that further development.
In regard to Andrew’s painting – Apartment 31 – he discovered that a large amount has been written over the years about the “aestheticization” of ruins. Critical studies discuss the obvious historical, socio-political points of landmark sites, with fascinating accounts documenting, for example, the fall of Rome. Throughout the centuries, accounts of these have, in particular, ‘framed’ obsessional levels of landscaping to satisfy fashions such as the “picturesque movement” and as a consequence, follies were imagined and built to recreate this love for such nostalgia.
Now, with so many media outlets available, we are regularly being exposed to images of both natural and sadly man-made destruction – in areas of conflict and war, entire cities and their populations have been impacted. Seeing the demolished buidings, the derelict communities and the desolation of peoples lives then broadcast all over the world. This turmoil has not unfolded over decades or centuries but within a matter of days, weeks or months at most and the information is fed back with the all the immediacy that modern media technology provides. In this, lies a concern that with the abundance and regularity of such brutal imagery, our emotional responses no longer react or relate – the impact doesn’t alarm us and we are becoming increasingly impervious to these sights.
In Apartment 31, the floor levels appear to have folded in layers, leaving twisted steelwork dangling precariously and yet these look more like threads attached to pieces of card. The exposed rooms – seemingly empty of any evidence of everyday life – as the monotonous, grey concrete dust coats and flattens any traces of what used to exist or of who resided here – leaving only a barren monochromatic scene.
Andrew is currently exploring the use of employing more abstracted language in examining how this can alter our experience and our initial and emotional perception.
As our concept of these complicated socio-political issues become increasingly abstract, it’s clearer to see why modern representational art can often achieve more impact by employing a more abstracted vocabulary.
An excellent example of this is in Robert Motherwell’s abstract documentation – ‘elergies to the Spanish republic’ – where he documents his experiences of the Spanish civil war.
Please see a link to the Levy Gorvy 2016 Exhibition, together with Stella Paul’s essay on Abstract Expressionism taken from the Met Museum’s Educational Dept site listed below.
Many well known artists, writers, poets and filmmakers have applied their craft to try to engage with these subjects, highlighting the analogous sense of the modern human condition and our fragility.
Within the process of further investigating this concept, one piece Andrew painted: Mia (after Lely) – called in to the Columbia Threadneedle Selection in 2017 – included one of his generic figures in the foreground against a darkened background of rubble and collapsed buildings. Andrew has since made some additional alterations and this is now showing on the Singulart website after they approached him to list some pieces earlier this year.
The NEAC 2018 annual show runs from 15th to 23rd June at the Mall Galleries in Central London. Andrew was obviously very pleased to hear that his work had been selected and Apartment 31 is in the north Gallery, on an area of wall of other monochromatic pieces and these complement one another well. Members work can be purchased via the NEAC website, (see link below), and enquiries can be made directly to the Mall Galleries for any other pieces.
The Preview last Thursday was very well attended with an excellent introductory speech from Sir David Clementi – chairman of the BBC. The club run an active and varied education programme, they award two scholarships each year and offer continued support and valuable opportunities for artists and collectors alike.
The NEAC 2018 Annual Exhibition runs from Jun15th -23rd and to preview the work showing this year or to visit the NEAC website please see: www.newenglishartclub.co.uk
To visit Andrew B Holmes website, please see:
© Andrew B Holmes 2017. All Rights Reserved.