The From Life exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts opened on 11 December and I thought it would be worth going to during my days off between Christmas and the new year.
If you do decide to pay a visit, I would suggest starting in the Sackler Wing by the historical paintings of the Royal Academy life drawing room and ending in the Tennant Gallery with the virtual reality. And if you have access to Sky Arts at home is to watch Royal Academy: Painting the Future.
I’m pretty impressed by how a couple of the artists have embraced new technology like virtual reality. Also how all the artists have their own way in viewing the human body.
Before Christmas, I purchased the accompanying book to the exhibition and I am pretty glad that I did as it gave me more context to what I was seeing. It is a shame that not all the works in the book were on display. I would liked to have seen a few more pieces that did not depict the human body as object but more, shall we say, human. However, this is the Royal Academy of Arts and not the National Portrait Gallery.
This exhibition has made me really think. How do artists create life in a portrait? Can you really create a sculpture in virtual reality? With virtual reality are we going to do away with art galleries? Should we treat people as objects?
As you leave the Sackler wing you are confronted with Jenny Saville’s Entry which is a large image of what appears to be a woman with a battered face. Is this a message to not forget humans have feelings and can get hurt.
I want to apologise for the lack of posts this year. So why has it been a while?
Well a lot has changed in the last few months. Not personally but in the world around us, especially what has been happening in the United States.
Anyone who has a social media account or keeps up with current affairs will not have missed the infamous Access Hollywood tape or failed to see the #MeToo hashtag trending. These are just a couple of events out of many others that have made me think about the role art and culture have played in the way women are seen in modern society.
Here is another example, take this poster for a film that is currently on the walls of the London Underground.
What does it say about beauty and the acceptable look for women getting older? The natural lines on their faces removed for the Hollywood stamp of approval.
It would be easy to dismiss this as a trivial advertisement but for the people who walk past the poster the message is loud and clear: Women, this is what you should look like.
Why should it be this way? Why should women spend a fortune every year on make-up to prevent the unstoppable fact of time? Or even worse, go through the pain of cosmetic surgery to remove those lines.
I don’t see men being targeted for these products. Has any man been cut open to stuff some artificial product into his chest to improve his pectoral muscles?
In my quest to explore what is going on and where this is heading I’ve been immersing myself in a lot of books. It is a complex subject with many ideas, theories and opinions.
The greater the understanding I have, the more critically I have been examining the work I have produced so far. There is no harm in taking the time in gaining knowledge, so hopefully I can create better and more thought-provoking work.
Since getting Girl on Girl, I found a couple more books which showcase the work of female photographers.
Firecrackers: Female Photographers Now by Fiona Rogers and Max Houghton is a showcase of the Firecracker project to promote the work of women in the photography industry.
#girlgaze How Girls See The World by Amanda de Cadenet, with contributions by Lynsey Addario, Inez van Lamsweerde and Sam Taylor-Johnson is also a showcase of their project.
Is one book better than the other? For me, Firecrackers is a much more serious book while #girlgaze has a more tabloid feel to it. I think that it is a good thing that there are two different approaches to the problem of the lack of female representation in the industry. It is always good to have a choice.