Photo News with a Gallery theme – Another Soggy Wednesday in London

© Jane Hilton, Dead Eagle Trail

Today’s post has a gallery theme with some statistics on visitor numbers, a couple of exhibitions opening in London but focused on America and Russia, as well as  a collecting art scheme from the Arts Council England for UK-based galleries.

Almost 40 million visitors went to galleries and art fairs in the UK last year, according to a press release issued today by the Whitechapel Gallery. It reports that, “On the last day of the financial year galleries across the UK reported record numbers of people coming through their doors over the last 12 months. Public galleries, private galleries and art fairs across the UK saw 38,905,533 million visitors* for the 09/10 financial year, an increase of 3.2% from 2008/09. *Attendance figures provided by over 350 organisations.

“Art has never been so popular, with exhibitions attracting bigger crowds than football matches. Visits to galleries and art fairs outstripped tickets to football matches attendance by over 13 million. A groundswell of hundreds of organisations contributed to the figures – from Tate Modern to HICA in Invernesshire, from small experimental spaces to the Frieze Art Fair.

“Iwona Blazwick OBE, Director, Whitechapel Gallery, said, ‘There is a huge appetite for art in Britain. At the recently expanded Whitechapel Gallery we have received almost half a million visitors in the last 12 months – an increase of 120%. In these challenging times it demonstrates everyone increasingly values a direct experience of art.”

With this in mind, I point you to Jane Hilton‘s book launch and show Dead Eagle Trail (see photograph) opening from April 21 until 15 May at Host Gallery, London. I interviewed Jane for HotShoe (February/March issue) about the evolution of the work and present an extract from the feature Dead Eagle Trail.  Also, there’s a  show at the Haunch of Venison gallery in London Glasnost: Soviet non-conformist art from the 1980s from 16 April to 26 June.

From the press release: “Featuring paintings, sculpture, photography and installation from the 1980s and early 1990s, it examines the work of about 40 artists working in Moscow and Leningrad at the time of Gorbachev’s liberalising Glasnost and Perestroika reforms… The exhibition will feature some of the most prominent photographers of the period – Sergei Borisov and Andrey Bezukladnikov, including photorealist painter Semyon Faibisovich who recently had a show at IKON Gallery in Birmingham:

Sergei Borisov is one of the most prominent Russian photographers of the 20th century. He was one of the first artists to show the “new”,  humanitarian side of a person living in Soviet society by maximizing the individuality in his subjects rather than the collective. A crowd is almost never a subject of Sergei Borisov’s work, rather it is a specific person in a carefully thought through place. His works are usually in some way linked to architecture and urban atmosphere. His photographs are set in front of Soviet monuments and building, next to the riverside of the Moscow river and on top of high-rise buildings. There is also a strong theatrical component in his works. His ability to make celebrities or ordinary people into art objects allowed him to create his own individual photo-picture of the world amidst great change. His works mark a transition period, when attempts to change, rebuilt and remake were an important part of social life. The artist’s great attention to detail allowed him to reflect this time is his work through gestures, face expressions, clothing, thus immortalizing this historical time period in his works. In 1979 Sergei Borisov opened his own photo studio “50 A” and it became the center of Moscow unofficial art life.

Andrey Bezukladnkov was born January 13, 1959 in Perm. As a young man Andrey wanted to become a biologist, photography was merely his hobby. However, his perception of photography gradually transformed and it became a tool for coming to know the world. After returning from mandatory military service in 1982, Andrey started to experiment was various printing techniques, started working as a photo correspondent at a local newspaper. In 1986 he moved to Moscow, where he became acquainted with the Moscow underground. In 1989 together with Ivan Dubchinsky he works on a photo – film “Krasnaya Seriya”. He also became the official photographer of the theatre “School of Drama Arts”, as well as, of the following movies: “Luna- Park”, “Nanuk – Severa” and “Limit”. In 1994 he turned to computer technologies struggling to get beyond limits of photography. He also initiated the launch of creative team under the group pseudo name ONEGIN.

“Semyon Faibisovich was born in 1949 in Moscow, and studied at the Moscow College of Architecture in 1966-72. His work was first exhibited covertly in 1976 and, after 1987, more widely outside the Soviet Union. Though not a photographer, he is often described as “one of the best photorealist painters working today. His works combine astute social criticism with a subtle and sophisticated visual poetry. The influence of the artist’s architectural education can be readily felt in his meticulously conceived paintings and series.”

Arts Council England’s Own Art scheme is open for applications from galleries based in England who would like to apply for membership. “Own Art is designed to make it easy and affordable for everyone to buy original, high quality contemporary art and craft. Customers can borrow up to £2,000, or as little as £100, to be paid back in equal instalments over a period of 10 months – interest free”.

The application period to become a member of the scheme is now open. The closing date for the receipt of completed applications is 26 April .

To apply for membership of the Own Art scheme your gallery must be based in England and “specialising in the sale of contemporary art and craft”.

To be eligible for membership, galleries must have been trading for a minimum of 12 months, hold (or be willing to apply for) a Consumer Credit Licence and operate a UK bank account capable of accepting payment by BACS.

Membership of the scheme is also open to art colleges and universities in England, for the promotion and sale of work by graduates at their degree shows and to other appropriate establishments such as artist co-operatives and studio groups.

Visit Own Art for details of how to apply.


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