Monday, 12 February 2018

London Art Fair

Beyond the bright cartoons - D J Roberts
16 x 215 cm

Sand, pigment, wool thread, Vivanil glue on board
71 x 101cm
c. 1977
A tardy entry - I've been very busy of late - but I do want to say how much I enjoyed showing with CANAL at the London Art Fair last month.

Together with James Brooks and Patrick White I was invited by Monika Bobinska, who runs CANAL and who was showing in the Art Projects section of the fair, to respond to the work of the late Claudio del Sole. Del Sole (1926 - 2005) was an Italian artist and astronomer who in 1959 helped found the movement Astralism and whose practice explored his fascination with the depth, light and mystery of the cosmos. CANAL's show 'L'Osservatorio' (The Observatory) included six of his works.

My response to one of them, Campi Rotanti, a painting he made in 1977, was a neon text which read 'Beyond the bright cartoons'. This is the first line of Philip Larkin's short star-gazing poem 'Far Out', written in 1959 and addressing, like del Sole's art, the nature of our relationship with the universe. For me the poem is very much about grappling with concepts that are difficult - they can offer great rewards if rigorously explored. The line can also be read as a metaphor for avoiding facility in art. I think del Sole would have endorsed both these propositions.

The neon was an exact replica, enlarged, of Larkin's handwritten version of the line. This was possible due to the kindness of Simon Wilson, University Archivist at Hull History Centre, who allowed me to see the line in one of Larkin's notebooks and to copy it. 

The critic Paul Carey-Kent rated 'L'Osservatorio' probably the best curated stand at the fair, while Dr Christopher Adams of the Estorick Collection wrote: 'With the ongoing revival of interest in post-war Italian art, this exhibition is a timely celebration of a figure whose work constituted a sophisticated, accomplished and highly distinctive response to some of the most significant artistic and scientific developments of his day'.