Prunella Clough a small thing edgily. Camila McHugh (Ed.). Floating Opera Press

Posted in art, books, exhibition catalogue on August 23rd, 2022
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With texts by Amy Sillman and Emily LaBarge

Exhibition catalogue with twenty color illustrations of paintings by the British painter Prunella Clough (1919–1999). Published to commemorate the first German presentation of the artist’s work at June gallery, Berlin, the book focuses on the artist’s late-career departure from the industrial figuration for which she was known into a wry, quietly influential approach to abstraction. Included works date from 1960–1993. Prunella Clough’s abstraction developed largely out of step with any artistic movement or milieu: impervious to the advent of Pop, she was more taken by the Minimalism of Donald Judd and Sol LeWitt, which may have accentuated her sense of restraint. Amy Sillman calls Clough “a ‘conceptual painter’ avant la lettre,” while Merlin James emphasizes how she “anticipated many traits in post-modern painting.” Awarded the Jerwood Painting Prize in 1999 shortly before her death, and recognized with significant solo exhibitions at Annely Juda Fine Art Gallery (1989), the Camden Arts Center (1996), and a posthumous Tate Britain retrospective (2007), Clough’s legacy remains bogged down by emphasis on her early figurative works, tethering her innovative abstraction too tightly to an industrial origin story. This catalogue is a remedy to this situation.

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Theodora Allen: Saturnine. Stephanie Cristello (Ed.). Motto Books

Posted in Artist Book, books, Motto Books on March 19th, 2021
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Published by Motto Books

Catalogue of Theodora Allen’s solo exhibition Saturnine
Kunsthal Aarhus
14.05–18.07.2021

On a summer evening in July 1610, under the humid Padua sky, Galileo peered through his crude telescope to discover the rings of Saturn, the furthest planet then known. While Galileo set his sight on Saturn, it came into view slowly. Ancient Greek and Roman theory, and later medieval psychology, had correlated four planets with each of the elements and temporal ‘humours’; Jupiter’s persuasion prevailed in the blood and affected a sanguine nature; Mars ruled aggression; the moon was cause for an apathetic disposition. The fourth and final humour, inspired by ringed Saturn, was responsible for melancholy. It is for this reason we have the term ‘saturnine’ to describe sadness. The sight of Saturn is one of sorrow.

Kunsthal Aarhus presents Saturnine, the first institutional solo exhibition of Los Angeles-based contemporary artist Theodora Allen. Interweaving the artist’s emblematic use of symbols, the exhibition engages with a history of Saturn, the celestial body said to have been the cause of a melancholic disposition – from ancient myth and the Middle Ages through to the present. At times appearing as itself, a large ringed orb, and at others as affect, the figure of the planet joins Allen’s representations of recurrent motifs that are informed by cultural and emotional influence.

Alongside Saturn, depictions of markers such as serpents, wildfires, moths, hourglasses and hallucinogenic plants present a language that is seen rather than uttered. Within the emblematic tradition – a form positioned squarely between visual arts and literature, grappling equally with both image and text – Allen’s compositions exist as propositions of impossibilities. As concepts, they transport the viewer elsewhere: into different times, different narratives. Steeped in mythmaking and iconography, the paintings are resonant with the visionary work of poets and painters in early Symbolist graphic arts, as well as resurgences of this aesthetic in the zeitgeist of 1970s California, addressing cyclical, enduring themes of human versus nature that withstand in our contemporary moment.

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