Saturday, June 7, 2008

Tomma Abts, Wyndham Lewis & Vorticism

The images above are by Tomma Abts - she's the subject of a monograph I just received in from Phaidon Press (2008, $39.95)...I have never encountered her work before, which is a bit of a biff on my part considering she won the Turner Prize in 2006 - I'm sure there was a lot of press on this at the time, she's a painter after all and painters don't often seem to win the Turner Prize. Fetid beds and lights blinking on and off rule the roost..I must have been struggling under a self-imposed media black-out at the time she won. 

Her work is strange, I find it refreshing and yet also quite old-fashioned. Old-fashioned (good-way old-fashioned, not derogatory, fusty, stuck-in-the-mud, smells of mildew old-fashioned) in that I get some references to Brice Marden and abstract misters from the mid-fifties onwards but more in that it reminds me of Vorticism. In particular the work of Wyndham Lewis, leader of afore mentioned Vorticists -a right nutty lot. They had their manifesto BLAST and fizzed their way around London before the First World War. My favourite Lewis portrait is of Edith Sitwell - sister of Sacheverell Sitwell who comes very close to having my favourite name of all time, only pipped to the post by the unbeatable Jermajesty Jackson - the son of famous whispering madman Jermaine Jackson.

Coincidentally, Abts is having a show at LA's Hammer Museum this summer (July 27th-Nov 9th, and Wyndham Lewis is ALSO having a show this summer (July 3rd to 19 Oct, Lewis' show includes the portrait of Edith I was banging on about above, his portraits of other literary figures including James Joyce, Ezra Pound & T.S.Eliot and other bits and bobs. This show is in the National Portrait Gallery in London, which is one of my favourite public galleries in London.

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