John Piper was born in Epsom, Surrey, in 1903, the son of solicitor Charles Piper. He was educated at Epsom College and trained at the Richmond School of Art, followed by the Royal College of Art in London. He turned from abstraction early in his career, concentrating on a more naturalistic but distinctive approach.
As a child, Piper lived in Epsom, at that time in the countryside. He went exploring on his bike, and drew and painted pictures of old churches and monuments on the way. He started making guide books complete with pictures and information at a young age. He studied at Epsom College. He did not like the college but found refuge in the art school. When he left Epsom College, Piper wanted to go to art school, to study to become an artist. However, his father disagreed and wanted him to be a solicitor. They agreed that John Piper would work for his father in London for three years, and then could pursue whatever career he chose. He failed the law exams and his father died soon after, leaving him free to become an artist. His work often focused on the British landscape, especially churches.
Piper was appointed an official war artist in World War II from 1940–1942. The morning after the air raid that destroyed Coventry Cathedral, Piper produced his first painting of bomb damage, Interior of Coventry Cathedral now exhibited at the Herbert Art Gallery. Jeffery Daniels in The Times described the painting of the ruins as “all the more poignant for the exclusion of a human element”. It has been described as “Britain’s Guernica”.
Piper collaborated with many others, including the poets John Betjeman and Geoffrey Grigson (on the Shell Guides), and with potter Geoffrey Eastop and artist Ben Nicholson. In later years he produced many limited-edition prints.
Sir Osbert Sitwell invited Piper to Renishaw Hall to paint the house and illustrate an autobiography he was writing and Piper made his first of many visits to the estate in 1942. The family retain 70 of his pictures and there is a display at the hall.
From 1950 Piper worked in stained glass in partnership with Patrick Reyntiens, whom he had met through John Betjeman. They designed the stained-glass windows for the new Coventry Cathedral, and later for the Chapel of Robinson College, Cambridge. Washington National Cathedral prominently features his large window, “The Land Is Bright”. He designed windows for many smaller churches and created tapestries for Chichester Cathedral and Hereford Cathedral. He was a set designer for the theatre, including the Kenton Theatre in Henley and Llandaff Cathedral in Cardiff. He designed many of the premiere productions of Benjamin Britten’s operas at Glyndebourne Festival Opera, the Royal Opera House, La Fenice and the Aldeburgh Festival, as well as for some of the operas of Alun Hoddinott. In 2012 a major exhibition ‘John Piper and the Church’ examined his relationship with the Church and his contribution to the development of modern art within churches. Piper wrote extensively on modern art in books and articles. With his wife, Myfanwy Piper, he founded the contemporary art journal, Axis.
On 28 June 1992 John Piper died at his home at Fawley Bottom, Buckinghamshire, where he had lived for most of his life. His children are painters Edward Piper (deceased) and Sebastian Piper, and his grandchildren include painter Luke Piper and sculptor Henry Piper.
His auction record, £325,250, was set at Sotheby’s on 15 July 2008 for “Forms on Dark Blue”, a 3′ by 4′ oil painting made in 1936.
Eric William Ravilious (1903 – 1942) was an English painter, designer, book illustrator and wood engraver. He grew up in East Sussex, andat the Royal College of Art (1922–5) was taught by Paul Nash and became close friends with Edward Bawden. In 1939 he officially served as a war artist, and died when the aircraft he was in was lost off Iceland.
He is particularly known for his watercolours of the South Downs, empty rooms and war paintings. His use of watercolour and limited muted palette to capture light, often overlaid by crayon lines, has a beautiful shimmering quality. He uses exaggerated perspectives, unusual viewpoints and abstract shapes to create drama, suspense and movement. The effect is often haunting – reflecting a mix of nostalgia and foreboding in the world destroyed by the war.
CONSTABLE, F. & SIMON, S. 2003. The England of Eric Ravillious, Surrey, UK, Lund Humphrey.
His use of two point perspective – slightly off – creates a feeling of claustrophobia, uncertainty and unease. The eye goes first towards the bed, strangely reflected in the ceiling of a windowless room. But then is taken down the empty corridor that appears to go upwards to nowhere and round a corner to the light. Is this an escape? Or a dead-end to nowhere? Or worse?
Paul Cezanne (January 19, 1839 – October 22, 1906) was a French artist and Post-Impressionist painter whose work laid the foundations of the transition from the 19th century conception of artistic endeavour to a new and radically different world of art in the 20th century. Cezanne can be said to form the bridge between late 19th century Impressionism and the early 20th century’s new line of artistic enquiry, Cubism. The line attributed to both Matisse and Picasso that Cezanne “is the father of us all” cannot be easily dismissed.
Cezanne’s work demonstrates a mastery of design, colour, composition and draftsmanship. His often repetitive, sensitive and exploratory brushstrokes are highly characteristic and clearly recognisable. He used planes of colour and small brushstrokes that build up to form complex fields, at once both a direct expression of the sensations of the observing eye and an abstraction from observed nature. The paintings convey Cezanne’s intense study of his subjects, a searching gaze and a dogged struggle to deal with the complexity of human visual perception.
Paul Cezanne was a French painter, often called the father of modern art, who strove to develop an ideal synthesis of naturalistic representation, personal expression, and abstract pictorial order.
Cezanne was born in the southern French town of Aix-en-Provence, January 19, 1839, the son of a wealthy banker. His boyhood companion was Emile Zola, who later gained fame as a novelist and man of letters. As did Zola, Cezanne developed artistic interests at an early age, much to the dismay of his father. In 1862, after a number of bitter family disputes, the aspiring artist was given a small allowance and sent to study art in Paris, where Zola had already gone. From the start he was drawn to the more radical elements of the Parisian art world. He especially admired the romantic painter Eugene Delacroix and, among the younger masters, Gustave Courbet and the notorious Edouard Manet, who exhibited realist paintings that were shocking in both style and subject matter to most of their contemporaries.
Many of Cezanne’s early works were painted in dark tones applied with heavy, fluid pigment, suggesting the moody, romantic expressionism of previous generations. Just as Zola pursued his interest in the realist novel, however, Cezanne also gradually developed a commitment to the representation of contemporary life, painting the world he observed without concern for thematic idealization or stylistic affectation.
The most significant influence on the work of his early maturity proved to be Camille Pissarro, an older but as yet unrecognized painter who lived with his large family in a rural area outside Paris. Pissarro not only provided the moral encouragement that the insecure Cezanne required, but he also introduced him to the new impressionist technique for rendering outdoor light.
Along with the painters Claude Monet, Auguste Renoir, and a few others, Pissarro had developed a painting style that involved working outdoors (en plein air) rapidly and on a reduced scale, employing small touches of pure color, generally without the use of preparatory sketches or linear outlines. In such a manner Pissarro and the others hoped to capture the most transient natural effects as well as their own passing emotional states as the artists stood before nature. Under Pissarro’s tutelage, and within a very short time during 1872-73, Cezanne shifted from dark tones to bright hues and began to concentrate on scenes of farmland and rural villages.
Although he seemed less technically accomplished than the other impressionists, Cezanne was accepted by the group and exhibited with them in 1874 and 1877. In general the impressionists did not have much commercial success, and Cezanne’s works received the harshest critical commentary. He drifted away from many of his Parisian contacts during the late 1870s and ’80s and spent much of his time in his native Aix. After 1882, he did not work closely again with Pissarro. In 1886, Cezanne became embittered over what he took to be thinly disguised references to his own failures in one of Zola’s novels. As a result he broke off relations with his oldest supporter. In the same year, he inherited his father’s wealth and finally, at the age of 47, became financially independent, but socially he remained quite isolated.
Cezanne’s goal was, in his own mind, never fully attained. He left most of his works unfinished and destroyed many others. He complained of his failure at rendering the human figure, and indeed the great figural works of his last years-such as the Large Bathers(circa 1899-1906, Museum of Art, Philadelphia) – reveal curious distortions that seem to have been dictated by the rigor of the system of color modulation he imposed on his own representations. The succeeding generation of painters, however, eventually came to be receptive to nearly all of Cezanne’s idiosyncrasies. Cezanne’s heirs felt that the naturalistic painting of impressionism had become formularized, and a new and original style, however difficult it might be, was needed to return a sense of sincerity and commitment to modern art.
For many years Cezanne was known only to his old impressionist colleagues and to a few younger radical postimpressionist artists, including the Dutch painter Vincent van Gogh and the French painter Paul Gauguin. In 1895, however, Ambroise Vollard, an ambitious Paris art dealer, arranged a show of Cezanne’s works and over the next few years promoted them successfully. By 1904, Cezanne was featured in a major official exhibition, and by the time of his death (in Aix on October 22, 1906) he had attained the status of a legendary figure. During his last years many younger artists traveled to Aix to observe him at work and to receive any words of wisdom he might offer. Both his style and his theory remained mysterious and cryptic; he seemed to some a naive primitive, while to others he was a sophisticated master of technical procedure. The intensity of his color, coupled with the apparent rigor of his compositional organization, signaled to most that, despite the artist’s own frequent despair, he had synthesized the basic expressive and representational elements of painting in a highly original manner. (From www.repropaint.com)
Cézanne’s watercolours are studies preparatory to painting in oil, notes of strong sensations before nature afterwards to be rendered in the more permanent and solid seeming medium. They are also solutions of those problems of picture making which were his lifelong obsession, and which, at a certain period of his life, could be more easily settled in watercolour than in oil.
In about 1883 Cézanne’s struggle to achieve the greatest possible modelling through colour had led to a density of texture which the passage of time has made most beautiful to us, but which Cézanne felt to be too congested. He wished to attain the same effect with far greater simplicity of means.
He therefore limited his palette to green, blue and a few warm earth colours and adopted as an exercise in economy a spare and delicate technique of watercolour. What began as a discipline became a delight; and some of the paintings here exhibited were clearly executed for their own sakes. But they retain the evidence of their origin. No attempt is made at a full continuous description of appearances; the white paper predominates and the eye leaps form on complex of colour to another, forgetting that in between is nothing but whiteness.
Why is it that in spite of this lack of finish Cézanne’s watercolours give such a satisfying sense of completeness? For one thing because he knew how to concentrate all his resources on the essentials of a composition.
In this, as in other ways, Cézanne’s watercolours are a key to the understanding of his oils, and, in fact, greatly influenced his oil technique. They show, for example, his uneasy relation with the contour which, he is reputed to have said, escaped him, but which, in fact, gave him the dreaded sense of imprisonment.
Islamic calligraphy has always fascinated me. I studied Persian, Arabic and Urdu as part of my degree and travelled widely in Iran, Pakistan and Afghanistan in the 1970s. I really like the flowing lines and geometric styles, and the way abstraction is used to create artwork from words. These techniques could also be applied to more figurative drawing styles like fashion illustration. This is an area where I have only just begun to explore the potential.
I am particularly interested in the techniques of some contemporary calligraphers who use watercolour and ink to create word paintings from poetry.
Edited and extended from the Wikipedia links below
Islamic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting and calligraphy, based upon the alphabet in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. It includes Arabic , Ottoman, and Persian calligraphy. It is known in Arabic as khatt Islami (خط اسلامي), derived from the word ‘line’, ‘design’, or ‘construction’.
The development of Islamic calligraphy is strongly tied to the Qur’an; chapters, and excerpts from the Qur’an is a common and almost universal text upon which Islamic calligraphy is based. Deep religious association with the Qur’an, as well as suspicion of figurative art as idolatrous has led calligraphy to become one of the major forms of artistic expression in Islamic cultures.
Instruments and media
The traditional instrument of the Islamic calligrapher is the qalam, a pen normally made of dried reed or bamboo; the ink is often in colour, and chosen so that its intensity can vary greatly, so that the greater strokes of the compositions can be very dynamic in their effect. Some styles are often written using a metallic-tip pen.
Islamic calligraphy is applied on a wide range of decorative mediums other than paper, such as tiles, vessels, carpets, and inscriptions.Before the advent of paper, papyrus and parchment were used for writing.
Beginning in 692, the Islamic caliphate reformed the coinage of the Near East by replacing visual depiction with words. This was especially true for dinars, or gold coins of high value. Generally the coins were inscribed with quotes from the Qur’an. By the tenth century, the Persians, who had converted to Islam, began weaving inscriptions onto elaborately patterned silks. So precious were calligraphic inscribed textiles that Crusaders brought them to Europe as prized possessions. A notable example is the Suaire de Saint-Josse, used to wrap the bones of St. Josse in the Abbey of St. Josse-sur-Mer near Caen in northwestern France.
As Islamic calligraphy is highly venerated, most works follow examples set by well established calligraphers, with the exception of secular or contemporary works. In antiquity, a pupil would copy a master’s work repeatedly until their handwriting is similar. With the spread of Islam, the Arabic script was established in a vast geographic area with many regions developing their own unique style. From the 14th century onward, other cursive styles began to developed in Turkey, Persia, and China. The most common styles are divided into:
The oldest form of the Arabic script developed around the end of the 7th century in the areas of Kufa, Iraq, from which it takes its name. It was the main script used to copy Qur’ans from the 8th to 10th century and went out of general use in the 12th century when the flowing naskh style become more practical, although it continued to be used as a decorative element to contrast superseding styles. Contemporary calligraphy using this style is also popular in modern decorations.
The Archaic Kufi consisted of about 17 letters without diacritic dots or accents. Afterwards, dots and accents were added to help readers with pronunciation, and the set of Arabic letters rose to 29.
A common feature is the rigid, angular, linear strokes and shapes of the characters – a modified form of the old Nabataean script. The style later developed into several varieties, including floral, foliated, plaited or interlaced, bordered, and squared kufi. Common varieties include square Kufic, a technique known as banna’i.
With the rapid expansion of Islam, a cursive called naskh first appeared in the 10th century and is the most ubiquitous style used in Qur’ans, official decrees, and private correspondence. It became the basis of modern Arabic print. It was standardised by Ibn Muqla (886-940 A.D.) who establish systematic rules and proportions for shaping the letters, which use ‘alif as the x-height. This was later expanded by Abu Hayan at-Tawhidi (died 1009 A.D.) and Muhammad Ibn Abd ar-Rahman (1492–1545 A.D.). Variations include:
Thuluth is developed as a display script to decorate particular scriptural objects. Letters have long vertical lines with broad spacing. The name reference to the x-height, which is one third of the ‘alif.
Riq’ah is a handwriting style derived from naskh and thuluth, first appeared in the 9th century. The shape is simple with short strokes and little flourishes.
Muhaqqaq is considered one of the most beautiful scripts, as well as one of the most difficult to execute. Muhaqqaq was commonly used during the Mameluke era, but the use become largely restricted to short phrases, such as the basmallah, from the 18th century onward.
A cursive style developed in the 14th century by Mir Ali Tabrizi to write the Persian language for literary and non-Qur’anic works. Nasta’liq is thought to be a later development of the naskh and the earlier ta’liq script used in Iran. The name ta’liq means ‘hanging’, and refers to the slightly steeped lines of which words run in, giving the script a hanging appearance. Letters have short vertical strokes with broad and sweeping horizontal strokes. The shapes are deep, hook-like, and have high contrast.
is a cursive style of Arabic calligraphy developed during the reign of the early OttomanTurks in the 16th and early 17th centuries. It was invented by Housam Roumi and reached its height of popularity under Süleyman I the Magnificent (1520–1566). Spaces between letters are often narrow, and lines ascend upwards from right to left. Larger variation called djali are filled with dense decorations of dots and diacritical marks in the space between, giving it a compact appearance. Diwani is difficult to read and write due to its heavy stylization, and became ideal script for writing court documents as it insured confidentiality and prevented forgery.
Sini is a style greatly influenced by Chinese calligraphy, using a horsehair brush instead of the standard reed pen. A famous modern calligrapher in this tradition is HajjiNoor Deen Mi Guangjiang.
He is essentially a painter of identity. But more than the identity of the body, it is the identity of the soul as evoked by these sumptuous watercolours.
For Graham Dean, the body is a ‘holding-pen of emotions’, a ‘thinking body’ similar to the research done by Wilhelm Reich. His characters are the receptacles of these emotions, ideas, and memories. They are witnesses of the human condition and our complex relationship with the world. Our individuality, our identity is formed by this interaction of our inner lives which is constantly penetrated and altered by the outside world. Graham’s painting is an investigation between the inside and the outside, the surface and what lies beneath. Arms, faces, torsos, legs become interchangeable – anonymous but recognisable, The body becomes a canvas, torn and stretched, a vehicle for the imagination of the artist. The works are open to interpretation, free, as are the movements of watercolour, colours and sensual shapes.
(quoted from Dean’s website: article by Galerie Maubert, Paris. September 2011)
Body and emotions
Technique; ‘reverse archaeology’
‘Pigments suspended in water’. Contrasting layers of paint are applied separately on thick, handmade paper from Southern India. Colour is important: use of red accentuates the dramatic effect of green and yellow and juxtaposition of complementary colours. He exploits the differential viscosity, granularity and opacity of different watercolour pigments and the ways in which thick layers /dripped paint interact with water at different degrees of wetness/drying cycle. Paint glazes (multiple, transparent layers) create intensity and depth. Each sheet undergoes a process of tearing and overlapping to create a final new composition.