Chiharu Shiota – The Key in Hand

The Key in the Hand marks, for me, the coming to an end of my exhibition, and a move back to the world of ‘real’ art. I am planning to visit the Venice Biennale later this year so I thought I would start to immerse in the world of the contemporary.

Chiharu Shiota, a resident of Berlin, is one of the foremost installation artists practising today. She represented the Japanese pavilion at Venice in 2015 with this installation of red yarn, keys and two boats.

Venice Biennale, Venice, keys, Memories, red yarn
Chiharu Shiota, The Key in Hand, 2015

The Venice Biennale is renowned for large installations so this piece fitted well with the tradition. When I first saw the image I was very worried as my initial reaction was of blood and violence. The artist’s explanation presents a very different picture, however. Although a reminder to all of us of the inevitability and individuality of death, the keys aim to represent our emotional memories. Each key we ever possess becomes full of our memories. These are collected up by the boats, presumably from the underworld, and our memories are passed on for eternal stewardship.

Whatever your views are of the afterlife or next world, Chiharu Shiota is saying our memories continue. I cannot wait to get to Venice and the Biennale and the Japanese Pavilion will be on my list of ‘must sees’.

Loving Vincent

Loving Vincent did not win an Oscar or an Academy Award. Somewhat like Van Gogh himself overlooked in its lifetime. We watched this 2017 film last week and were greatly moved by it. The film was a joint U.K. Polish project directed by Dorota Kobiela and Hugh Welchman, and included in the line up is Adlestrop’s adopted celebrity from Poldark, Eleanor Tomlinson. She plays a cafe owner, Adeline Ravoux. Interestingly her co-star Aidan Turner is here as well as the boatman (top right).

Vincent, Van Gogh
Characters from the film Loving Vincent (2017)

Animation has never been like this in film making. You could say this is as close as film gets to traditional painting. The production team recruited over 120 artists to paint over 65000 canvases in the style of Van Gogh. It is fascinating how the scenes merge in and out of known canvases mainly centred on the village of Auvers-sur-Oise.

The storyline focuses on an imaginary investigation into the events surrounding the artists suicide, one year on, by the postman’s son, Armand Roulin. It becomes a typical ‘Midsomer’ with everyone in the frame for murder but settles in the end for…well I can leave that for you to find out by watching.

Armand Moulin played by Douglas Booth talking to the boatman (Aidan Turner) during his investigation into Vincent’s death, Loving Vincent (2017)

Lianne la Havas’s cover of Don Mclean’s Vincent which closes the film is simply stunning and leaves you motionless in your seat while the credits roll.

‘Van Gogh and Britain’ is due to open on the 27th March at the Tate, which will be a must see but this little film is a beautiful preparation. It would always be an enjoyable and interesting debate as to who the greatest ever painter was; but it would be unlikely not to include Vincent Van Gogh as a leading contender.

Do search your film and media provider and look out Loving Vincent.

Adlestrop, poldark
Eleanor Tomlinson portrayed as Adeline Ravoux in Loving Vincent (2017)

The Adoration of the Magi

I have updated my Painting of the Month to add a bit of Christmas spirit to the blog. My December / January painting for you to enjoy is the fifteenth century Italian altarpiece by Gentile da Fabriano; The Adoration of the Magi, which is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.

Select the “Painting of the Month” tab and enjoy.

Van Gogh in London next year

The Tate Britain has announced a major Van Gogh (1853-1890) exhibition in Spring 2019. The exhibition, Van Gogh and Britain will look at the artist’s visit to London from 1873-1876 and his influence on British art throughout the twentieth century. The exhibition will display around 40 paintings from public and private collections including Starry Night on the Rhône, 1888, from the Musee D’Orsay and L’Arlésienne, 1890, from the Museu De Arte De São Paulo, as well as The National Gallery’s Sunflowers, 1888. With its London emphasis the exhibition will include some early less well known works with their limited palette revealing the versatility of the young artist and late works painted while the artist was at the Asylum Saint-Paul returning to earlier themes.


L’Arlésienne, 1890, Vincent Van Gogh, Musee D’Orsay, Paris

Alex Farquharson, Director, Tate Britain :

“Vincent van Gogh is without a doubt one of the greatest and most influential artists of all time. His stay in Britain changed his vision of the world and himself, encouraging him to become an artist. This is an exciting opportunity for us to reveal the impact Britain had on Van Gogh as well as the enormous influence he had on British artists. Tate’s last Van Gogh exhibition was in 1947 and introduced his work to a whole generation of artists working in Britain. We’re thrilled to be welcoming so many important and ground breaking paintings to the gallery.”