@ the museum of
now through October 28
Completed mural never to be wholly revealed:
British artist Stella Vine arrived and painted a large-scale wall mural
contemporary museum over a period of five days this mid-September.
Although the music has stopped with her return to
Stella Vine's live painting performance
Waltz plays on at the
Museum of New Art (MONA) in the form of the deconstructed wall mural
stacked into five large sections that now lean against its former wall.
new set of variations, The Waltz now
includes a six-channel video installation that explores the process of
Ms Vine's working techniques in the creation of the mural. This
new arrangement and its counterpoint with the stacked artwork bring
together ideas that explore issues of the artist's confinement and
restriction to space and expectations; and question the ambiguous status
of both spaces, both "real" and "virtual”, in contemporary art and
dismantling of her mural and the addition of the preparatory videos,
Ms Vine has taken the painted stroke which can
only resemble movement and turned it into a real action.
She reveals a
conceptual fourth dimension, a world beyond the painting - giving the
work a new resonance, dramatically demonstrating the power and modernity
of such combined gestures, both physical and virtual: the semblance of
inertia across the stacked mural, while simultaneously reviving the
active gesture together with its mirrored televised document.
exhibition will run through October 28 at Detroit's Museum of New Art
12-6pm Thursday through Saturday
is located at 7 N. Saginaw, Pontiac
Saatchi purchased her painting of Diana, Princess of Wales, Stella Vine was
propelled into the centre of a media frenzy and aspects of her life story
were filtered through that particularly English kaleidoscope that is tabloid
tale telling. Somehow in all this temporary fiction, in the whole hoopla of
burlesque outrage, the main point got lost - the work itself.
Stella Vine is a
contemporary figurative painter, a tightropey place to be at present. Her
paintings, however, far from being stuck in some kind of revisionist
retreading, trace a radical trajectory that connects the Rococo lyricism of
Gainsborough to the Kitchen Sink storytelling of John Bratby, arriving at a
modern gothic soup of Dark Romanticism where it is possible to discern the
artist thinking with her brush.
Vine's darkling theatre of identification, re-defines a contemporary axis of
representation where the melancholic gravitas of the work is often balanced
by deft touches of black humour. After the recent intense media scrutiny of
her private life, Stella has spent time making new work, retreating into a
fictive world “like a lost girl... a deranged teenager trying to make an
environment of loves, memories and desires”.
Not unlike the songs of P.J Harvey, which “dramatise the conflicts of
desiring and being desired”, Vine explores “a kind of self exposure that
uniquely combines seduction and threat, intimacy and estrangement”.
View Stella Vine's work
"The endgame is to be an extremely famous
artist in lots of museums."
- Stella Vine, Art Review
Question: A big art collector like Charles Saatchi
has bought your work, there has been media frenzy and many pet theories on
your work and there have been many people that reacted very strongly about
your work. How has this affected Stella as a person?
Stella Vine: I think overall it’s all been really cool. I’m still
such an awkward pain in the ass teenager though, in suitable gothic style
I like the negative criticisms, they are more stimulating, I don’t believe
the nice ones. Like when Brian Sewell, said, “she paints like a frog, and
she shouldn’t give up the night job”. I can keep up the fight, I guess.
God knows what I’m fighting. I can’t tell you how physically and mentally
exhausted I am. I feel like there's something wrong with me. It’s been a
tough last few years, and I’ve worked bloody hard. I paint all the time,
and I’m forever trying to do up the knackered old buildings with no stairs
or kitchens, that I tend to live in one day eh...! ....and I put up with
a lot of bass hurting my brain ...my son and his mates making their hip
hop music. There’s no routine to my life, and no lover, my confidence is
at an all time low, that’s bizarre isn’t it?
Q: What is your big love and what is your big hate in the London art
SV: It’s stimulating to have the amazing galleries and artists we have
here in London, from the big guys to the artist run spaces. There’s a
tension and stress, romance, glamour, it’s a tough city. I feel an
outsider to most things in life, totally my own fault. I rarely go to
private views, I find them tricky, and the art world seems really closed
off, very difficult to get any advice, I just don’t fit in I guess, I
wonder if I am a good artist sometimes.... and the whole thing was the
‘Saatchi shock, paint stripper’, but I think I have something, an ability
to express something. Personally I think all art is autobiographical,
emotional and expressive, be it a can of shit, blutac, or unmade beds, all
of which I admire. London ummm.... I approached a few galleries for
representation, but they weren’t interested, Andy Warhol didn’t fit in
either did he...? Anyway I’m doing it my way. “Sid Vicious” – Stella
Vine... it’s that old SV thing. So London... umm it’s a love hate thing.
Q: The past two years you have been very busy and have had several one
woman and group shows. Has this affected the process and the direction
your work has taken?
SV: It’s been great to have the support of Cathy Lomax at Transition
Gallery, she has been one of the few people to really believe in me. And
some of the things she has said to me...for example I’d say...’I want to
make a video, I’m Princess Lea, right, and I’ll film it in the snow up a
mountain, and I turn around to R2D2 and say, on repeat,” please help me, I
have lost my soul, help me OB1Knobe, you’re my only hope”... type of
thing... and she’d say...“great do it, just do it all, you shouldn’t
censor yourself so much, stop chucking stuff out !” Nice genuine support
without any motive. Cathy paints a bit like Peter Blake. I first came
across Cathy’s magazine ‘Arty’ a little art fanzine at the Serpentine
gallery bookshop. I was opening my gallery Rosy Wilde, and I wanted to
offer Cathy a show, so I got in touch with her....the energy in her
magazine, and the childishness of it, I thought she would be a teenager,
she was my age...and she also was running her own gallery. Mine was in a
disused butchers shop, Cathy’s in a disused garage. She’s been a rock, I
am notoriously unreliable, which I hope to improve…tomorrow. We have a lot
in common, so that’s been an amazing meeting. We’ve both given a lot of
shows to emerging and more established artists. Cathy loves group shows,
I’ve given more solo shows. It’s been great, and I’ve learnt a lot, I’m
open to all sorts of ideas. I love Gina Birch from The Raincoats, she
played at my solo show, and also at the opening of ‘fan club’ at Rosy
Wilde. I always wanted to meet her, so art has brought me that too.
Q: What do you find inspiring and what is very important for you at the
SV: I like strong/vulnerable interesting women, and then sometimes I like
painting beautiful men, like Kurt Cobain, or Mr Darcy. I’m painting
Grayson Perry at the moment, it’s of him holding a sign, saying ‘NO MORE
ART’, outside Tate Britain, my heart soared when I saw that image. But
there’s no strict rules, I don’t have a line, or an angle , I like love
stories, but that might include something really warped like Fred and
Rosemary West, but then that would probably have a secret message in it,
or Chicken Stu and Michelle. I guess what drives me is trying to get all
the things out of my head on to canvas or in other creative forms, things
I admire, or things that srike a chord, or little secret messages, before
I die. I’m quite private about what I’m painting, I don’t really like
suggestions, or any input, it confuses and distracts me.
Q: Do you consider your portraits as works that are mainly for women to
identify with or relate to and for men to observe?
SV: No I’m not interested in that at all.
Q: You once said "I can paint in a much more realistic, photographic
style, but I find it more interesting to make it less perfect". I really
agree and I always believed that the less perfect, is in actual fact more
realistic. Do you agree?
SV: I think that when I paint more closely to the idea of reality, they
become really boring for me, and I don’t have ideas about that perfect
photo thing that appeals to me, or any ideas at all about that, just what
comes out, and if I like it, it’s cool, regardless of whether it’s ‘bad’
or ‘unfinished’. There are artists I really like who are closer to that,
like Richter maybe, but I don’t have that patience, maybe, or maybe the
brains... ! Things that turn me on in art, are so varied, like I love
Martin Creed’s work, I get high of his stuff, and then I like a lot of the
outsider artists too.
Q: I find in your work something excitingly terrifying in the way your
chosen subject matter has an expression that seems happy but also on a
closer look it looks as if it is a forced smile, almost a forced
happiness. Some of your work involves portraits of celebrities that one
suspects they had that forced and fake element in their lives. Are you
consciously drawn to that theme?
SV: No, actually more the other way, the terrible sadness in people, the
awful things everyone goes through in life, the happiness is probably just
already there in the image, and it’s a nice acceptable opposite to what I
am interested in.
Q: In an interview earlier this year amongst the people you admire you
mentioned Sylvia Plath and Frida Kahlo. Do you believe that poetry can be
translated in painting? And do you think it is vital for the creating
process to be what we could call "personal" in your choice of subject
matters, themes, imagery?
SV: Although I like Sylvia’s poetry a lot, it’s the whole package with her
and Ted (the famous poet and Plath’s husband) that I love. Sometimes I
don’t do obviously personal. For example I painted Saddam Hussein’s
kitchen, from an image in the papers, of the place where he was found. I
wanted to paint it really pretty, like something cosy, and happy, and
loving, which was in the image I think anyway. Sometimes I think my
paintings get a bit conceptual... when there’s much more going on than
just the personal or the expressive... but I can’t really explain it. I
think the ‘Diana’ painting is conceptual. It ‘s working on some deep
levels that I find hard to explain, it’s not just a painting about what I
think about Diana. I probably could give you some arty theory, but I can’t
really be assed, I am not as stupid as I make out…though! I just think
that what I am doing now is no different from anything I’ve done since as
far back as I can remember, and I think that one day, when it’s all put
together, it will make sense, and it will be deep. I found a little
painting of Romeo and Juliet the other day I did as a child, I was so
surprised, it really is no different, full of wishing, and darkness, and
then another of a copy of a pre-Raphaelite painting, of two little girls
huddled together, and I remembered what was going on in my head when I
painted it. I was about ten, I think. I wanted to go and live on my own in
the hills, like Heidi, but without the grandfather.