Why Go To The Beach?

My past week has been spent stretched out on a beach, or otherwise walking up and down its supple sands, along the water’s meandering margin. The beach is…

In the Style of Kairouan (1914) by Paul Klee.

Paul Klee’s Tunisia Trip

One of my favourite artists is the Swiss-German painter Paul Klee. In 1914, Klee took a two-week trip to Tunisia, a trip that would profoundly alter the course…

Photo by Cody Fitzgerald on Unsplash

Patience is the Unsung Hero of Creativity

It is tempting to think of creativity as an explosive act, picturing Jackson Pollock prowling around his canvas, dripping paint from a pot, or Jack Kerouac typing furiously…

The Pleasure of Cities

The first cities I truly visited were those I was set free in. When I was eighteen years old, unharnessed from my parents for the first time, I…

Why Such Odd Names? Kobo, Kindle, Nook

Why Such Odd Names? Kobo, Kindle, Nook

eReaders and their names: a short survey One of my favorite phrases is “Books do furnish a room”. Whenever I say this statement out loud, I am inclined…

Les Demoiselles d’Avignon

Picasso, Primitivism, And Cultural Appropriation

When artists adopt, do they also oppress? The first time I visited the Museum of Modern Art in New York I was twenty-four years old. The museum was under…

Social Media and The Gaze

The act of gazing brings people into new relationships. The angles and meeting points of looking and seeing imply distinctions of agency, a question of who has the…

Zen in the Art of Archery

Eugen Herrigel’s beautiful insight into Zen is also problematic. Does it still have the power to teach?

Study for Portrait II (after the Life Mask of William Blake), (1955), by Francis Bacon

Review of “All Too Human: Bacon, Freud and a Century of Painting Life” at Tate Britain

There is nothing commemorative about this remarkably diverse exhibition, which attempts to trace the activities of a number of London-based painters through the last century. The paintings are…

Toba Khedoori

Memory’s Work: The Art of Toba Khedoori

The appeal of Toba Khedoori’s work lies, perhaps, in the enigmatic precision with which her images are made. It lends them the virtue of high-draughtsmanship. But it is…

george schrimpf

Why happiness can’t be strategised

One of the most profound books I read as a younger person was Albert Camus’s The Myth of Sisyphus. The essence of Camus’ argument is that human existence…

Ab ovo (1917), by Paul Klee

Turn 40 and don’t fade away

I’ve just turned 40 years old. It’s not an enormous number, not an elephantine age. But it’s a number that I can’t help take notice of. Perhaps I…

The Bureau of the Centre for the Study of Surrealism and its Legacy

Mark Dion at the Whitechapel Gallery, London

For our modern age – prone to jump to the defence of science, of data-driven evidence – there is something unusually wistful about the art of Mark Dion….

Kandinsky Jaune Rouge Bleu

Unreliable Trivia – The Value of the Mistaken Fact

It’s a bad habit, but when I’m in public I often listen in on other people’s conversations. Just recently I was sitting on a busy train when, straining…

Corner of the House (1922), Oil on canvas

David Milne at the Dulwich Picture Gallery

The Canadian artist David Milne was born in 1882. By all accounts he was a modest man with a leaning towards the austere. Raised in a log cabin…

Coventry railway station

Coventry Railway Station: A Murky Masterpiece

I’ve never been sure about Coventry railway station. Bold perpendicular lines of grey concrete, shifting mezzanine levels, fierce observance to geometric spatial qualities. I could always see it…

Andreas Gursy, Montparnasse

Andreas Gursky

Gursky likes to print his images on very large scale paper. Think Monet’s water lily series at the Orangerie, Paris. So as you approach a work it fills your horizontal field of vision. As well as enveloping you, the technique also has the effect of encouraging you to forget about edges of the picture, to disregard what lies beyond, and to overlook the very deliberate cropping that Gursky undertakes.

Digital muzak

Digital Muzak: How they sell us our iPhones

The life force of a digital device, a mobile phone or a handheld tablet, can give the impression of something magical. The glowing screen and pulsing ribbons of…

Life drawing model in reclined pose

Embarrassed yet? Some naked truths about life drawing classes

For the last six weeks I’ve been going to life drawing classes at a local college. Just as you see in films or on TV, the disrobed figure…

A Time of Gifts: Fermour and the memoir

As a form of literature, the memoir has often struck me as an odd. The author assembles a small museum of personal artifacts for the purpose of describing…