John Cecil Stephenson was one of the UK’s earliest and most overlooked abstract artists. He initially started off painting landscapes and portraits, but radically changed his style after a spell working in a munitions factory during World War I. It was there that he developed a fascination with the abstract and geometric based shapes of the industrial machinery he worked with, something that was reflected in his work from that point onwards.
Stephenson was a friend of Piet Mondrian and was highly regarded by his peers, but despite this he had little recognition within the art world; his first solo show took place in 1960 when Stephenson was 71 years old. Sadly, the following year Stephenson had a series of strokes and stopped working. He died in 1965.
The exhibition, appropriately titled ‘Pioneer of Abstraction’ has gathered together more than 50 of his works, mainly concentrated on his output from the 1930s, and runs through to 29 April 2012. To find out more, please see The Durham Art Gallery website.
The Fondation Vasarely in Aix-en-Provence, France permanently houses a large collection of Vasarely’s work. The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday 10am to 1pm and 2pm to 6pm. The museum building itself was designed by Vasarely and is completely unique and spectactular.
In addition to the permanent Vasarely exhibition, the Fondation Vasarely puts on temporary exhbitions and shows from other artists. To find out more information, please check their website.
There is a Victor Vasarely exhibition currently running at Salon 2012, Trg Leona Štuklja 2, in Maribor, Slovenia. The exhibition runs until Saturday 3rd March and is part of the ‘Cultural Embassies’ project. More details here.
“Victor Vasarely (1906-1997), the pioneer of op-art, successfully merged art with science and technology. His aesthetic vision is based on the belief that technology is radically changing our world, especially when we wish to perceive the world in an intuitive manner, with the proper intellectual depth and immense energy. His visions have proven correct, for there is an immense interest in his work and in the optical art, brought forth by the development of new technologies. The once hand crafted geometrical abstraction is blooming in digital mode.”
Chris Long first developed an interest in and started creating Op Art when he studied for a B.A. in Art at Solihull College in the West Midlands (UK). That was 7 years ago. Since then he has completed an M.A. in Fine Art at Birmingham City University and has started his own business selling his designs in various formats and mediums. Although in its first year, the business has been growing “slowly but steadily”.
“I am fascinated by op art because of the illusions the pieces create. I particularly like images that give the appearance of being 3D despite being painted on a flat surface and images that appear to move when they are clearly not moving at all. I have been very much inspired by the work of Victor Vasarely and Bridget Riley; I also like the work of M.C Escher – particularly his ‘impossible’ illustrated works.”
Chris works mainly painting by hand on canvas or hard board, but has recently started creating pieces with a computer using nothing other than Microsoft Paint. These pieces “involve creating a complex grid system – something that can be quite time consuming depending on the size and the complexity of the design – but once done, allows me to reuse this grid structure to create multiple designs. Once I have completed a design, I change the colour of the grid lines – sometimes creating the impression that the lines are bending even though they are perfectly straight”
Chris was diagnosed with Asperger Syndrome soon after starting University and has found that his artwork has been a great way of helping him “deal with the many things in life that cause him stress and anxiety.”
Outside of his art, Chris is a cricket fanatic and is also a big online gamer. “In particular, the online gaming has been a great way of making friends as I have previously found social contact quite difficult. As part of the gaming, a friend and I make videos of the gameplay which we commentate over. This has been a great confidence building exercise for me which I’ve found I can use in other aspects of my life”.
If you’d like to buy any of Chris’s designs, you can do so as laptop covers on Lapjacks, or as posters, keyrings and postcards at his zazzle store. If you want to watch Chris’s gaming videos you can do so at his YouTube Channel.
‘Beyond the Shadow‘ – currently on at the A.P.T gallery in Deptford, London, UK – features several of the works of London based geometric abstract artist Stephen Jaques. Works on display include: Rewired (2011 – shown below), Interior Force (2011), Rivazza (2011), Shine On (2011) and Break Out (2011).
Rewired - Stephen Jaques - 2011
“Stephen Jaques works are mysterious super structures, oscillating between refined flatness and illusory forms floating in deep space. The confidence with colour operates on our subliminal viewpoint. The paintings although very present have an absence, a detachment. This detachment is one you want to get to know.”
The exhbition runs from 16th February through to 4th March 2012, but please note it is only open to the public Thursdays to Sundays 12 – 5pm. Other artists on display include: David J Batchelor, John Crossley, Tricia Gillman and Laurence Noga.