3 February 2014 § Leave a comment
Paul McCarthy is a heavyweight of the contemporary art world. represented by Hauser & Wirth his work can be found in the most important collections and most major public galleries worldwide. It is therefore somewhat of a surprise – and rather a coup for the gallery – to come across an exhibition of his work at [space] studios in Bethnal Green.
The most familiar pieces by McCarthy are probably the debauched, graphic and tragi-comic sculptures and installations (example ‘Bushed’ above) but he is also well known for working in a broad spectrum of media, and emphasis upon performance as a tool for breaching established boundaries between genres.
While McCarthy’s earliest work explored and disrupted the formal properties of minimalist art, in the early 70s, he began to document himself executing swift, psychologically taut performances.
In contrast to the spectacular ambition of his later installations and public sculptures, the Black and White Tapes (as these performances came to be known) feature the artist alone or lightly accompanied in his studio. Making use of whatever materials are in the room – emulsion paint, rags, a phone book, cotton wool and crucially, his own body, McCarthy undertakes single, repetitive or punitive acts for the camera.
[space] has dedicated its largest gallery space to a thirteen period video monitors, equally spaced across the darkened room, all playing consecutively. Immersive a cacophonous it is a fitting environment for a McCarthy ‘experience’.
In these grainy black and white video images we encounter the artist in action: drawing an emulsion line along the studio floor using only his face, tugging urgently at his testicles, whipping and swinging at the studio walls with a paint soaked rag and spitting directly into the lense of the fixed frame camera.
Adopting ritualistic repetition, making use of fluids and props and using his body to act out dysfunctional movements and traumatic narratives, the Black and White Tapes is essential to understand McCarthy’s later work and represent a vital document in the evolution of the artist’s practice.
Tip: Perhaps combine a visit here with a visit to galleries like Maureen Paley, Transition and Wilkinson Galleries in the local area. The Museum of Childhood is interesting and a few minutes walk down the road.
Until 16 March 2014
[space] 129—131 Mare Street, LONDON E8 3RH
tel020 8525 4330
31 January 2014 § Leave a comment
Undoubtedly Burroughs’ exhibition is the most revealing of his wider work and despite the lesser appeal of the other two shows triple exhibition is well worth catching whilst it’s here.
Until 30 March 2014
The Photographers Gallery, 16 – 18 Ramillies St, London W1F 7LW
+44 (020) 7087 9300 email@example.com
Mon – Sat 10.00 – 18.00, Thu 10.00 – 20.00, Sun 11.30 – 18.00
Admission to Warhol, Burroughs and Lynch
£4 (£2.50 concs) – last ticket 17.30
Free admission on Monday from 10.00-18.00 and
Thursday from 18.00-20.00
Free Entry to under 17s
29 January 2014 § Leave a comment
Nuno Moreira is a talented Portuguese photographer who has recently published ‘State of Mind’ – a photobook reviewed recently in akickupthearts here. We asked him a few questions about his work, influences and Japan, where he is currently based.
Q. I note that you are currently in Tokyo promoting “State Of Mind” and have worked there in the past. Do you have a specific attachment to Japan?
I’m based in Tokyo and happily living here with my Japanese wife. I intend on staying for a little longer and develop more work both with photography and art direction. Since I came here I’ve been trying to gather a circle of fellow artist friends and possibly delve into partnerships that can be enriching for everyone.
Tokyo is a great city to live and work, I made the entire editing of “State of Mind” here during last year. Everything is very functional, stable and tidy. Sometimes it gets way too much but I still have a lot to discover and the traditional aspects of Japanese society and the ancient daily rituals are really the motif that brought me here in the first place.
Q. On the Japanese theme, your work has formal similarities with the great Daido Moriyama’s work – that is high contrast, black & white images, often from unusual viewpoints. Did he influence you in any way?
I should probably say thank you for the compliment, but Moriyama is really not an influence in my work. I appreciate his style, most of the times I find it over repetitive even though I acknowledge his importance in contemporary photography. The formal aspects are similar, we both shoot in black and white and many street scenes but in terms of mood it’s quite different. If I had to characterize my style – which seems like an awful thing to do – I would say it draws more influences from classic cinema, perhaps similar with the Nouvelle Vague movement where everything is more loose and unconventional but still leading somewhere.
Q. Are there other photographers – or artists – who have been particularly influential?
I like the work of Charles Harbutt quite a lot. And the funny thing is that I discovered Harbutt’s work the first time I came to Japan while browsing through an antique shop. I found his 1973 book, “Travelog” totally by accident and thought we had many things in common. Especially the way of overlooking the city and people in a cinematic way. Funny enough, I couldn’t really predict that one year later I would be moving to Japan, editing my own photo book, and that I would have a recommendation from Harbutt himself on the book.
Q. Travelling seems to be an important, or even vital, part of your life. How does this manifest itself in your work?
That’s correct, I’ve come to realize that traveling plays a vital role in my life. I need the sense of dislocation to actually feel more in control of my body and regain consciousness on where I am going and what I intend to do next. I think being stuck in one place doing the same thing is something that really doesn’t work for me and most artists I know. Being in a place for the first time, even if for a short period, opens this gigantic window of possibilities where perception works in a different way. I like these shifts in reality and the challenges that follow change. I also feel there’s many insights and more mental activity deriving from the different inputs in new places therefore I take a lot more pictures and my mind is usually much clearer and faster when traveling. Life is all about movement, don’t you think?
Q. This is a book that was many years in the making. At what point did you realise that there was a photo book that would emerge from these images? Did you have a conscious plan for it from the beginning?
I didn’t have a plan to make this book until I actually started to gather all the photos and seeing them in perspective. In that sense I could say “State of Mind” works as a kind of monograph of what I’ve been shooting and seeing for the last 5 years.
Q. Another Japanese photographic artist who has been prominent recently is Rinko Kawauchi. She is famed as a master of editing, bringing together a series of widely varied images, to create something new and meaningful – a particularly skill relevant to the art form that is the photo book. How important is editing to you? / How did you approach the editing of your own work?
I’m familiar with Rinko Kawauchi’s work and her editing and image sequencing is indeed interesting and sometimes surprising. Unfortunately there’s many other astonishing Japanese photographers who are not so well known and deserve credit, being my personal favorite probably Issei Suda.
The editing of “State of Mind” was perhaps the most difficult part and what took me the most time to accomplish. The process of editing basically consisted of putting images side by side and choosing the best rhythm and flow between them. This was something I had to do physically, with printed images. It’s utterly impossible to work only in digital terms, at least for me. I wanted the book to follow a specific narrative even though there’s different images and some jumps here and there. Sometimes images in a spread form a dialogue, sometimes they need to be isolated and stand alone against a white facing page. To find the right flow or visual path for a photo book is not an easy thing, so I think it really makes sense if the photographer can work with a proper designer and someone who is not so emotionally close with the images. If I would do the book today it would probably look different but I suppose that’s part of the learning curve.
Q. “State of Mind” features many single people isolated in urban environments – looking, thinking, passing by. There is often an evident sadness and loneliness, but also hope. What are the feelings that you want the reader to see in this collection of work?
I’ve been listening to what people think of this book and the series and it’s very interesting because it really works as a mirror to whatever you’re feeling at the moment you see them. It’s the projective power of images. I guess I like lonely people in general and that’ what attracts me to shoot them in the first place, the reason might be because my parents only had me and I was raised in an environment where I would play all by myself. Having said this, the images in the book have a lot of me in it even though that’s not clearly obvious.
There’s really no specific message to the reader. I just want the viewer to be engaged in the scenes and get into the poetic quality of the people they’re looking at. If I can capture the attention and make you imagine situations like frames from a movie, if that’s sufficient to trigger the imagination, I’m very satisfied.
Q. This is a book ideally suited to the atmosphere generated by BW imagery. Do you also work in colour?
Very rarely do I shoot with color film. Sometimes when I want to try something different I do it, but I find better results almost always by shooting black and white. I believe the reason being that it’s easier for me to see the world and what would work better in black and white. It’s more neutral and the different shades of grey also interest me. Besides, I believe when we’re looking at a black and white image our eye is less distracted and we can enjoy better to look at the lines, composition, structure, light, shadows, textures and overall atmosphere.
Q. An obvious question. Whats next?
Next is promoting this book and doing exhibitions and distribution. I’ve put a lot of myself into this project and being a self-published book means I have to do all the work and communication by myself. It’s not a bad thing, but it demands a lot of time I could be shooting or thinking of more work.
If all goes according with plan, I estimate to have a new book ready in one or two years. It will continue from where this one started but something perhaps more conceptual and hopefully a step further.
State of Mind by Nuno Moreira
- 287 x 200mm
- 112 pages with 79 photographs
- Limited to 500 copies
- ISBN 978-989-20-4151-3
- 35 Euro
Copies may be purchased directly from the artist at www.nmphotos.org or email firstname.lastname@example.org
27 January 2014 § 1 Comment
Dan McDermott recently exhibited the excellent Lumiere Project at High House Gallery (see post here) where he created a body of work around the first piece of film ever made – the Lumiere brothers one minute film of a train arriving at Ciotat (below).
For the latest exhibition at the Alon Zakaim Gallery in London’s Mayfair he has largely revisited the same era – the end of the 19th century – where he take a look at the impressionist and later artists through the filter of the present day.
Presented as if seen on a TV blurred and distorted by interference, groundbreaking works such as Manet’s Olympia and Degas’ Absinthe Drinker take on new meanings. Referencing the contemporary proliferation of images the spectator is reminded of familiar works which may have previously only been seen through printed or filmed images. Each work therefore becomes a multi-layered experience – the original, studied by the artist through secondary media, is altered and turned back into a painting.
Whilst marking a new direction the paintings retain McDermott’s characteristic cinematic style (as in The Proposal pictured below). In Manet’s scandalous Olympia, he extracts the face of the reclining nude to create an ambiguous portrait; her nudity is implied rather than revealed, the image appearing as a contemporary film still.
He reworks Edgar Degas’s Singer with a Glove focuses on the facial features of the soprano vocalist, the subdued palette giving a haunting, melancholic hue. The varying bands of colour, also evident in After Georges Seurat, mimic the fracturing of a paused image on a television screen again leading the viewer to see this as a snapshot of a work extracted from a wider context. These layers are increased further the artist having first taken photographs of the paused imagery before painting in oil.
McDermott analyses contemporary media and our perception of it. A Picasso originated as a film still of Pablo Picasso preparing a monumental painting. A Warhol and Another Warhol again originated as film stills, referencing a favoured media of Andy Warhol, the pivotal Pop artist who revolutionised our view of mass produced objects and imagery, elevating them to the status of high art.
An excellent small show, unfortunately deserving more space to ‘breathe’ than available in Zakaim’s small gallery is nevertheless worth catching before it ends.
Transmission is on at Alon Zakaim Fine Art, 30 Cork St. London W1S 3NG
Until 29 January 2014, opening hours 9 – 6, Monday – Friday.
McDermott’s work may also be purchased through High House Gallery.
11 January 2014 § Leave a comment
A weekend in Paris allowed me the opportunity to visit this breathtaking exhibition at the Centre Pompidou, as well as enjoy some excellent art, interesting sights and fine food counterposed by rude service, lousy cappuchinos and overpriced coffee and bread (or petit dejeuner as the French imaginatively call it).
There shouldn’t be a better place than Paris for an exhibition on Surrealism, the movement being founded here in 1924 having developed out the more international influences of Dada. The Pompidou Centre have proved that this is indeed the case, with this mightily impressive exhibition bringing together a remarkable collection of almost every conceivable iconic object or sculpture connected to the movement.
Alongside the roll call of iconic pieces like Hans Bellmer’s Poupee, Marcel Duchamp’s Bottlerack, Salvador Dali’s Lobster Telephone, Alberto Giacometti’s Suspended Ball are photographs from the likes of Man Ray, collections of works gathered plus a selection of more recent surrealist-influenced works by the likes of Mark Dion, Paul McCarthy, Ed Ruscha and Cindy Sherman exhibited under the title ‘Echoes of the Surrealist Object’.
The exhibition starts with ‘Ready-mades and Mannequins’, a section led by two great influences of the movement – Giorgio de Chirico and Marcel Duchamp who respectively brought the mannequin and object to the fore.
Subsequent rooms focus on ‘Objects with a Symbolic Function, Alberto Giacometti, Hans Bellmer’s Doll (an extraordinarily powerful object in real-life, and also larger than one imagines), five rooms each dedicated to iconic exhibitions from the famous ‘Exposition Internationale de Surrealisme’ in 1933 to ‘Eros’ in 1959/60.
Each room is well curated and nicely laid out with admirable logic, careful thought and atmospheric lighting.
This opportunity to view so many of Surrealisms iconic objects together plus the insight in to the movement that can be gained from the experience well worth a trip to Paris on its own. Just take your own breakfast.
Le Surrealisme et l’Objet runs until the 3 March 2014 at the Pompidou Centre, Paris.
21 December 2013 § 1 Comment
Photobooks are a strange art form unto themselves. Some photographers see individual images as the ultimate expression of their craft whilst for others the photo book is the essential form. The sum of many parts, they comprise individual photographic works, not necessarily of high individual quality, but when edited together they make a greater whole.
Something unique is created not only from the images and their editing but also from the feel and texture of the paper as well as the design, typography, size and layout and, often compared to plays or film, they may well also have a dramatic narrative. (Anyone with any further interest in the art of the photobook should certainly make efforts to see the definitive work: The Photobook – A History by Parr & Badger.)
The Portuguese photographer, Nuno Moreira has, with State of Mind, created a perfect example of such an artwork. This is a photobook comprising works from his personal archive constructed and captured over a period of several years of travelling covering such diverse locations as Japan, Portugal, Hungary, Malaysia, Spain, South Korea, Ukraine, Romania, Russia and Taiwan.
What is perhaps initially surprising however is that the images do not indicate the diversity of these locations, but rather the opposite. The book brings them together under a unifying umbrella where continents, countries and cities melt into a statement on the humanity of their populations.
The people here are shown as a series of individuals or small groups. Sometimes we just glimpse their shadows, backs or reflections, sometimes just traces of their existence. A foot steps in to a railway carriage, shadows pass each other on a busy (we assume) pavement, a woman struggles with an umbrella in a sea of snowy tyre tracks or passengers gaze blankly from train windows.
There is a lot of travelling going on. People walking the streets, in stations, cafes and trains. There are roads, pavements, walkways and waiting areas. Through constant change and movement Moreira has found a unity in these divergent peoples. Perhaps through his own experiences of travelling these represent stills within a continuous journey. We do however see the diversity of the individuals, each with their own thoughts and in these silent moments.
The title State of Mind could ultimately then refer to not only the individuals pictured, but also be an observation of the collective whole or indeed an ongoing picture of the mental state of Moreira himself during his travels. It is a photobook of the highest quality where the individual images are actually often compelling works of art in themselves but it is however as a photobook they indeed work best.
- State of Mind
- 287 x 200mm
- 112 pages with 79 photographs
- Limited to 500 copies
- ISBN 978-989-20-4151-3
- 35 Euro
Copies may be purchased directly from the artist at www.nmphotos.org or email email@example.com
A Q & A with the artist will follow soon in another blog.
- Interesting Photobooks for 2013 (thephotobook.wordpress.com)
- Mother Jones’ Photographers Pick the Best Photobooks of 2013 (motherjones.com)
- TIME Picks the Best Photobooks of 2013 (lightbox.time.com)
18 December 2013 § Leave a comment
Following on from the Griffin Art Prize 2013 Exhibition – which is now on the road around the South of England for a few months (see post) – the Griffin Gallery are transferring Saatchi’s Showdown from the virtual online world in to reality.
The winner of the prize has been announced as Miguel Laino for his simple but expressive small oil painting shown here, winning over a very high quality – and truly international – final ten. The remaining finalists were: Chris Stevens, Casper Verborg (illustrated middle left), Stephane Villafane, Kristina Alisauskaite (middle right), Sergey Dyomin, Fiona Maclean, Minas Halaj, Maurice Sapiro, Daniel Gonzalez Coves (bottom).
Painted Faces is one phase of a continuing Saatchi Online competition that provides artists from anywhere in the world a showcase for their work. Chantal Joffe was the judge for this event. Previous judges have been equally big names of the contemporary art world and Barnaby Furnas, Ged Quinn, Wangechi Mutu and Dexter Dalwood have for example run their eyes over entries.
For the first time the works of the 10 Showdown finalists are being shown at the Griffin Gallery, from 5- 20 December with the winner and runner-up receiving art materials to the value of £1000 and £500 respectively – not bad I’d say.
The competition is being run in partnership with Winsor & Newton and is on at the West London Griffin Gallery until 20th December 2013. This is an excellent small show which is a short stroll from Westfield shopping centre – why not take a break from the Christmas shopping and drop in for an artistic break – or a more arty gift? All works are on sale and modestly priced.
For more details about the competition please go to www.saatchionline.com/showdown
- The Griffin Art Prize 2013 winners – Luke George & Elizabeth Rose (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- Saatchi Online, The World’s Leading Online Art Gallery, Appoints Veteran Business Executive Sean Moriarty As CEO (virtual-strategy.com)