Original Sin by Jowonder 33×34 cm one of her series on the Profumo affair.
‘All the world in a grain of sand’…as Billy Blake put it. Or a uni-verse (one story) within a small frame. The William Blake show at the Tate reminds us what a delight the small painting can be. Yet on the day I file this piece, Blake’s Ancient of Days – actual dimensions, 20.3 x 16.8 centimetres, is projected onto the dome of St Paul’s to honour the master’s two hundredth and sixty second birthday. Although a beguiling sight, it looks like one of those art deco lampshades you used to get in Heals. Yes – they have missed the point. The painting is a small piece you lean into. In giving it majestic dimensions it loses its majesty.
There’s a new exhibition at Kellie Miller Arts in Brighton, Small Wonders, showing small paintings. They are like looking into jewels. In fact the gallery is in the Brighton Lanes, and surrounded by jewellers, and maybe the visitor’s imagination swells as looking is focussed. The colour, contained within frames wants to bleed out of the frame and into your brain – their narratives mainlined through concentration.
Richard by Davide di Taranto 15×20 cm
Gallerist and artist Kellie Miller thought of this show about a year ago, challenging the perceived value of big painting versus small. As a woman privy to the art market place, she can also advice and mentor artists through the thorny thickets of the art world, and knew which artists could handle the small form well. She eventually selected 8 artists – Helen Phoenix, Jonathan Smith, Jowonder, Steve Fricker, Claire Maria Wood, Davide di Taranto, Julie Allen, David Hayward. Miller won the Brighton and Hove Best Independent Retailer award 2018. At a time when selling is difficult – viewing art isn’t, even though less and less people can afford to buy, so it was significant that a gallerist should win. Not speaking in tongues, (or what we used to call art bollocks) she tuned into the natural art sensibilities of the judges that raised her above the Mumtrepeneurs or hobbyists. She stood for something unique and the judges got it. ‘All humans,’ she reminds us, ‘are born with the capacity to create, invent and design, and some go on to make that manifest.’
So what we put our attention on grows – whatever its size.