Akkerman 1, 2, 3
Maria Chevska From the diary
of a fly
7 June – 13 July, 2013
Thursday 6 June, 6-8pm
Andrew Mummery is pleased to announce the second in the series of
ongoing dialogues central to the exhibition programme at Mummery +
Schnelle’s new gallery space.
A juxtaposition of the works of Philip Akkerman and Maria Chevska
raises questions about the nature of studio painting and the implications
of working in series. Both artists concern themselves with authorship
and the performative in painting, and to put their works in dialogue
invites reflection on both the medium’s historicity and its
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From the diary of a fly
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Self Portrait No. 142,
27 x 25 cm
Self Portrait No. 90,
50 x 43 cm
Our time gets to be veiled, compromised
By the portrait’s will do endure. It hints at
Our own, which we were hoping to keep hidden.
John Ashbery. From “Self-portrait in a Convex Mirror”.
Reprinted in John Ashbery Selected Poems. Carcanet Press.
The title of Philip Akkerman’s exhibition, 1, 2, 3,
is a reference to the way that the exhibition is installed and to
the technique that the artist employs. On one wall is a single painting
of unprecedented scale in Akkerman’s practice. On another are
two works, one made in 2002 the other in 2012, but both painted in
a similar style. On the adjacent wall are three paintings in very
contrasting styles. Previous exhibitions of Akkerman’s work
in London have emphasised its seriality, but here the viewer is asked
to look at the works as individual paintings as well as related statements.
There are two constants in Akkerman’s work. The first is technique:
a traditional one of building up the painting in layers, starting
with a neutral ground colour on which the image is drawn, followed
by the addition of grisaille - an under-painting, usually in shades
of grey - which is crucial for giving unity, volume and depth to the
composition. It is the grisaille that gives Akkerman the freedom to
paint exactly as he likes, and to express whatever he wants in the
final layer of oil paint. For him, painting is anarchistic, a question
of the freedom of individual expression.
The second constant in Akkerman’s work is his subject matter
– his own face. Since 1981 Akkerman has painted over 3,000 self-portraits.
He insists, however, that his paintings are not about himself but
about what we, as human beings, are. How is existence possible, he
asks? How are we here? This is the paradox of Akkerman’s work,
by painting himself he is painting all of us. He seems to be questioning
artistic authorship as an expression of individual will, while at
the same time appearing to endorse it wholeheartedly.
From the diary of a fly [Parts
1] No (iii), 2013
27 x 25 cm
From the diary of a fly [Parts
3] No (i), 2013
50 x 43 cm
Maria Chevska’s exhibition will contain works from her new series
From the diary of a fly, which is made up of paintings and
small collage/paper sculptures displayed on individual plinths. The
title is taken from that of a short piano piece by Béla Bartók.
The music describes the struggle of a fly to free itself – an
agitator that escapes its predicted demise. Another source for Chevska
are two short stories by Franz Kafka, Metamorphosis and Josephine
the Singer. The changes of scale and perspective described in
these stories, and reflected in Chevska’s work, mean that established
framing devices – social, political, conceptual and physical
– are jeopodised.
The paintings in the From the Diary of a Fly series are derived
from reproductions of Russian icons. Chevska has taken details and
colours from these and used them as the basis of her compositions.
The original source material is, however, difficult to see. The fragments
have been exaggerated and distorted, shrunk and expanded in the act
of painting. Chevska has spoken of wanting to make the paint “eventful”,
the viewer able to see how the paintings “got there”.
They are made quickly, although some are repeatedly painted over,
and the temporal aspect of them is important.
A different sense of time is evoked in her collage/paper sculptures.
These mimic large structures and the classic primal forms of high
modernist architecture and sculpture, but they are small and handmade.
Simultaneously an inside and an outside, hand-sized, they explore
macro and micro perspectives, zooming to near and far space. Chevska
sees them as drawings in space rather than models and as defamiliarising
places we know. They often incorporate pages and papers from books
printed in Eastern Europe that Chevska was given as a child. The objects
become, therefore, an individual’s encounter with history, a
slice of past reality cut from time and pasted into the present.
Notes on the Artists
Born in Vaassen in The Netherlands in 1957 he now lives and works
in The Hague. Since 1981 he has only painted self-portraits –
a continuous project altered daily. Copies of the book 2314: Philip
Akkerman 2314 Self Portraits 1981 – 2005, which reproduces
every self-portrait Akkerman made between 1981are available from Mummery
Born, and living and working, in London she is a professor of fine
art at the Ruskin School of Drawing & Fine Art, Oxford. Copies
of the monograph on her work, Vera’s Room: The Art of Maria
Chevska, are available from Mummery + Schnelle.
For further information, please contact Mummery + Schnelle on:
+44 (0)20 7729 9707 or at: firstname.lastname@example.org