Galleries - February 2016

Founded in 1989 by Peter Peterson, the Small Paintings Group was the realisation of his long held idea to form a society exhibiting small paintings. Since its inaugural show at the Duncan Miller Gallery in 1991 they have had some 30 or more shows in various venues in London and elsewhere, among which the Piers Feetham Gallery exhibition each winter has now become something of an annual event (this year it’s on until 25 February). The 35very distinguished artists that make up the group are all bound by the rules, the principal one of which is that no painting can be more than 12 inches in height or width. Not very big at all in fact, but when you have artists of the calibre of Ken Howard, Richard Pikesley, Linda Sutton, Caroline Macadam Clark, Bill Packer and Richard Sorrell as members it really represents no problem! NU “The world we see is a painting” said the second Dalai Lama in the 16th century. So it is fitting that the centrepiece of ‘Tibet’s Secret Temple’ at the Wellcome Collection is a life size digital recreation of the magnificently beautiful 17th century murals from the private sanctuary of the Spiritual tone Dalai Lamas on the Lukhang, the island in front of the Potala. Designed to help the viewer towards spiritual enlightenment, the murals illustrate tantric, yoga, meditation and mindfulness techniques, as well as the activities of gods, gurus and saints. Building up to this is a rich and fascinating array of statues, scrolls, tapestries and astonishing ritual implements (such as aprons made out of human bones) which skilfully explore these spiritual practices. Interviews with Tibetan lamas and film footage of tantric dances and vigorous yoga practitioners are also very helpful. On till 28 February, this offers a rare glimpse behind the veil of these ancient secret practices. RC It is 50 years since Michelangelo Antonioni made ‘Blow Up’ – an iconic film with a noteworthy cast – which makes Fionna Murray’s current exhibition of paintings ‘Blow Up and Other Stories’ at The Eagle Gallery , based on the 1966 film pertinent to the moment. The film explores photography’s struggle to capture reality through the lens of a young London photographer (modelled on David Bailey) whose practice straddles documentary and fashion. The film’s Chelsea locations are sympathetic for Murray as she was a student at Chelsea College of Art and Design in the 90s but then moved to Ireland and now lives in Galway City, Ireland. The paintings point to a remembering of Murray’s when seeing the film’s London settings, and their unexpected resonance with the rural, Irish landscape. Murray’s observation of the film’s Irish character is not completely unexpected. Antonioni was resolute that ‘Blow Up ‘ was not only about London and was never afraid to manipulate his sets, often saturating colours, painting grass greener and paths black to achieve the look he sought. Murray’s translation of scenes constructed for the photographic medium into watercolours, transfers the pursuit of reality from photography into paint. Her multiple washes even further abstract the reality sought after in ‘Blow Up’; they bring her own touch and experience into the scenes, but never to the extent that the film completely disappears, and cleverly echo the chemical washes central to the photographic process. EM Contributors: Rosemary Clunie, Emily Medd Nicholas Usherwood from left: F ionna Murray ‘Blow Up 25’, The Eagle Gallery Sumi Perera ‘Lines Exploring Space – The Spectrum’, Impress ’16 Karen Lawrence ‘Woven Copper Bowl’ 2003 London Glassblowing Wellcome Collection ‘Carpet of Flayed Man’ collection Anthony D'Offay, courtesy Rossi and Rossi R ay Richardson ‘Treasure Island’, Beaux Arts London FEBRUARY 2016 GALLERIES 9 Small wonders Larger than life