February 17th 2019 - Plato meets Pluto! Concerning Johm's sense of humour, in the catalogue for his Arts Council exhibitions, he stated that:
"Half-jokingly, I once called myself a ‘Neo-Frivolist”, recognising that I owe some debt to the Dadaists. Anyway, I certainly privilege the laugh over the tear and would hope that much of my work would bring on a smile to the viewer… God knows there seems to be little presently to smile at! The Russian for humour is ‘gumour’, which sounds like a cross between ‘humour’ and ‘gloom’, although I don’t think that this necessarily sums up the Russian sense of humour. Schadenfreude, the slipping on a banana skin and then walking into a lamppost syndrome, is common to all nations. When I did National Service I, together with the artist Patrick Proctor, we were trained as a Russian linguist for the War Office. He possessed that most irritating form of humour – extreme politeness. On parade, he would regularly reduce his inspecting officers to impotent tears of rage by being deliberately very correct and polite. While the platoon would be laughing their heads off, the officers would be stamping around in fury and would charge him with ‘Dumb Insolence’. Ian Hamilton Finlay was however the complete opposite. He demanded perfection, which was reasonable but difficult since I wasn’t prepared to be just a ‘hired hand’ but wished to be thought of as a fellow collaborator. That said, I’m proud of some of the work I did with Finlay , though we parted company when I was asked to beat up a publisher because Finlay wanted him punished for doing imperfect work for him! Beating up is not my style, and anyway, when, on the very odd occasion, I tried it, I invariably lost."
Recently, on attempting to complete a Sunday Times General Knowledge crossword puzzle, discussions turned to the differences between the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle. Although starting quite seriously, it very soon 'degenerated' to the point where, on associating Plato to Pluto (the Disney version), all seriousness disappeared with tears of laughter running down our faces! So here are some of John's drawings of Plato and Pluto, not for your edification but hopefully for your pleasure (keep a handkerchief ready).
February 23rd 2019 - Preparing for Venice.
John Furnival (1933, Londra) si descrive come un disegnatore di paesaggi, di personaggi e soprattutto di parole. Accanto a artisti come Ian Hamilton Finlay, Tom Phillips, Bob Cobbing, dom Silvester Houédard e Henri Chopin ha sviluppato una pratica della Poesia Concreta (minimalista) che al contempo lo ha reso un pioniere di Visual Poetry (massimalista). Ha spesso collaborato con sua moglie, Astrid Furnival, artista tessile, e ha sempre avuto notevoli legami con l'Italia. Oltre a due soggiorni a Venezia come “artist in residence” della Emily Harvey Foundation, ha lavorato frequentemente con gli artisti del gruppo Fluxus, partecipando alle iniziative organizzate a Verona da Francesco Conz. Le sue opere sono state esposte a Spoleto nella manifestazione L'ultima avanguardia(1995) e a Vinci nella rassegna Leonardo in Action & Poetry(2001). Villa Fraccaroli, a Verona, ha ospitato una sua mostra personale nel 2000. John è un multilinguista le cui opere sono spesso caratterizzate da giochi di parole ‘maccaronici’ che attribuisce — quale “un’altra forma di scrittura” — all'influenza di Paul Klee e alla sua idea di “portare una linea a spasso”.
John Furnival (b. 1933, London) describes himself as a drawer of landscapes, personages and especially wordscapes. Alongside the likes of Ian Hamilton Finlay, Tom Phillips, Bob Cobbing, dom Silvester Houédard and Henri Chopin, he developed the practice of (minimalist) Concrete Poetry to pioneer (maximalist) Visual Poetry. John has often worked cooperatively with his wife, Astrid Furnival, a textile artist and he has had a significant association with Italy. Apart from two terms as artist-in-residence at the Emily Harvey Foundation in Venice, he has frequently worked with members of the Fluxus group (organised in Verona by Francesco Conz). John has also exhibited in Spoleto at L’ultima avanguardia (1995) and in Vinci at Leonardo in Action & Poetry (2001). In 2000, he had a one-man show at the Villa Fraccaroli (Verona). John is a multilinguist whose artworks often feature ‘macaronic’ wordplay that, being “another form of writing”, he attributes to the influence of Klee and of his “taking a line for a walk”.