7 January 2013 § Leave a Comment
In the downstairs gallery of Flowers Cork Street, and sadly also ending today, is a delightful exhibition from Jane Edden. A graduate of the late ’80′s Edden has gamely (no pun intended) and steadily produced an impressive and interesting body of work.
She states that her work is “at the intersection of science and aesthetics: a hybrid space where technological concerns meet the seductiveness of natural imagery. Upholding this ethics of hybridity and permissiveness, I try not to limit my materials, allowing myself to weave technology into images of nature or to source organic matter directly.” Sounds like the sort of statement that the very latest round of ecologically-oriented art college graduates would be making and very much in the zeitgeist of the moment. Who knows, we could be seeing much more of her in years to come.
This exhibition fits almost seamlessly with the Small is Beautiful show upstairs with a host of absolutely beautiful and immaculately made tiny flying jackets. Yes, I did say flying jackets, but these are unbelievably finely crafted from bird feathers – one would hope ethically sourced with no recourse to the gun-toting morons of the shootin’, huntin’ an fishin’ brigade.
Despite the almost-too-clever word play of the title Flying Jacket the skill and craft in making these stylish little works immediately wins you over. You might like the 29 Lockheed F-94 Starfire made from partridge feathers or perhaps prefer the 28 Gloster Gamecock from duck feathers. Some have extra padded shoulders or a little skirt, but all are stunning.
Jane Edden, Ornithomorph 7 Dec 2012 – 5 January 2013 Flowers Gallery
3 December 2012 § Leave a Comment
Western artists have got it easy, and they should visit this exhibition to see just why.
New Photography from the Middle East is an excellent concise exhibition giving an overview of some of the very best in contemporary photography from the region. Given the politics from the region the work here is deeply imbued with suffering, death, repression and anger.
What you will not find here is dull and pretentious art – like the silly constructions of household objects (Isa Genzken at Hauser & Wirth) or bored students walking around with mirrored sandwich boards (Josiah McElheny at White Cube) that I saw in recent days.
The exhibition is separated in to three key themes; Recording, Reframing and Resisting. In the opening section we see that the photograph is a powerful tool for recording people, places and events. Ahmed Matyr at the same time questions its reliability by using a magnet and iron filings to create an image that looks like pilgrims at Mecca (above) whilst Tal Shochat selects ‘pefect’ trees, washes them down and adds a fake background. He questions photographic reality.
The second section reframes and reworks existing styles or images. Hassan Hajjaj takes inspiration from fashion photography to create fascinating collisions between Western consumerism and Middle Eastern ideals (above) whilst Taysir Batniji brilliantly takes inspiration from the Bechers’ water towers with a series of watchtowers on the West Bank.
The best come right at the very end with a series of three photographs from the wonderful Nerdine Hammam. Taken from the series Uphekkh (2011) Egyptian soldiers are found transported in to idyllic landscapes – perhaps places they imagine or would prefer to be. Brilliant.
Ultimately this exhibition is not depressing, as one might have imagined, but is inspirational and uplifting. Photography – and art – is a power for optimism, hope and good. Perhaps some Western artists can be inspired to produce work that is more meaningful and interesting? I hope so.
Light From the Middle East: New Photography is at the V&A until 7 April 2013. Free entry.
- In Pictures: From the Middle East (bbc.co.uk)
- Light from the Middle East: New photography (ultravie.co.uk)
- Light from the Middle East offers a true reflection of a complex region | Jonathan Jones (guardian.co.uk)
- Light from the Middle East: New Photography, V&A, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Light from the Middle East: New Photography, V&A, SW7 – review (standard.co.uk)
17 November 2012 § Leave a Comment
I made my first trip to Paris Photo this week and unlike most French events (apologies for the generalisation but I’ve been to a few!) this was well organised with efficient and helpful administration for my (late) Press accreditation.
Now In its 13th year and its second at the Palais, this is an event that has hauled itself up the photo-fair ladder to being must-go European event running only second after APAID in NY in importance worldwide. It has a magnificent location in the historic main hall of the Grand Palais – inaugurated in 1900 for the Universal Exhibition it is an Art Nouveau jewel topped with a vast glazed dome.
After an orderly, if slightly illogical, queuing system for the inevitable first morning rush you enter the grand and airy main hall. Here there are over 150 exhibitors which include most of the big name galleries. There are the photo specialists like Hamiltons, Zander and Camera Work where you will quickly spot most of the big names of the photo world: William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Martin Parr alongside fashion photographers that have somewhat transcended the genre to become accepted in the art world – people like David Bailey and Tim Walker.
I also found it pleasing to spot some galleries more associated with the contemporary art world than photography – Gagosian, David Zwirner and Paradise Row and artists similarly aligned like Christian Marclay, Thomas Ruff and Gerhard Richter. Magnum and others bring in photojournalism whilst last but not least the burgeoning Art-Book world has its own section and a display of books competing for an annual prize.
The eclectic mix reflects the fact that photography is now almost totally integrated in to the world of contemporary art rather than being the parallel universe that it once was. This fair also has a ‘Vu par’ selection from film-maker David Lynch whose selection is published separately and who appears ‘In conversation’ on Sunday.
I tried to seek out works that represented the less traditional modes of photography and found some excellent work. Hans-Christian Schink at Robert Morat travelled the world to take hour long exposures of the sky. The sun burning a black trace, like a floating wand across the final image, its direction dependent upon the hemisphere and latitude.
At Von Lintel John Chiara works were made by exposing photographic paper directly within varying home made ‘cameras’, some as large as a truck. The resulting images showing flares, anomalies and colour inversions. The results are unusual and disquieting.
At the same stand Marco Breuers works are also unique editions – using heat elements to burn, melt scratch and scar photographic paper. Images, ironically, do not do justice to the textures of the ‘real’ thing.
David Bailey is an ususual name to add to this ground-breaking list. His latest works are photographs taken from TV war documentaries. The blurred, semi-abstract images are striking and follow from his recent – and not very sucessful – anti-war paintings.
Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin cleverly examine politics and ethnography having works at more than one stand. Political 1 (illustrated above) being one of David Lynch‘s selections.
A final personal favourite was in the photo book section Julian Baron’s CENSURA turns the tables on lying and manipulating politicians and bleaches them with over-exposure and flash, denying them the publicity they seek. Currently only available as a photo book.
The only downside of this excellent fair was pathetic catering with a minimal choice of dry baguettes, no espresso coffee, and totally inadequate seating – most people resorting to staircases to take a break. But then again if everything was perfect you wouldn’t know you were in Paris, would you?
Paris Photo runs until 18 November 2012 at Grand Palais. The inaugural Paris Photo LA takes place 25-28 April 2013 in Los Angeles.
- IHT Rendezvous: At Paris Photo, What David Lynch Likes and an Archive of Conflict (rendezvous.blogs.nytimes.com)
- Paris Photo at the Grand Palais – Text and pictures by Valentin Jardinier–Almodovar (dianepernet.typepad.com)
- Fashion abounds at Paris Photo 2012 (dianepernet.typepad.com)
13 November 2012 § Leave a Comment
Firstly I must apologise for featuring a show not open to the general public. The Arts Club in this case is the slick version in Dover Street frequented by Fund Managers by day and the beautiful people by night rather than the rather more bohemian version more often frequented by real artists over in Chelsea.
The club has an impressive permanent collection of art that ‘highlights international trends’ and includes for example George Condo, John Stezaker, Thomas Saraceno and John Baldessari. It also features rotating exhibitions – the current incarnation being ‘The Not Photography Show’. this cleverly highlights a noticeable recent trend (without being able to call it a movement) of photographic works where the act of taking photographs themselves is actually absent or irrelevant.
This sort of work is not new of course, nearly a hundred years ago Man Ray‘s placed items on photosensitive paper to create Rayographs for example, but artists are becoming more adventurous. Mariah Robertson, a New York based artist, welcomes accidents. She includes solarizations and photograms in the Man Ray mode, irregular chemical reactions, negative collage, games with filters and much more before either hacking up the results into irregular slices or not cutting them at all and hanging vast swathes across the gallery. Having been nominated for the Deutsche Borse prize next year – and a good bet to win – she is definitely going places. At the time of writing High House Gallery incidentally currently has one work available.
Maurizio Anzeri stitches patterns across found photographs to create surrealistic psychological portraits (very similar to Julie Cockburn who has work at High House and incidentally soon opens a new show at The Photographers Gallery).
A series of portraits by Aneta Grzeszykowska doesn’t look exceptional until you realise that they are not actual people but faces made entirely in photoshop. To what extent do we give these imaginary faces a real biography?
Also featuring in this rather neat small exhibition are Wolfgang Tillmans, here with random exposures made by light fibres, Marcus Amm and Eileen Quinlan. If you are looking to expand a collection you would certainly be wise to take careful note of all the artists featured here.
Meanwhile if any of this tempts you to join this excellent club visit their website here.
Exhibition curated by Amelie von Wedel and Pernilla Holmes runs until 2 December 2012
- The Not Photography Show (dazeddigital.com)
10 November 2012 § Leave a Comment
Two years ago I bid for a David Brian Smith work at a charity auction, going to nearly double estimate before dropping out. It turned out I had been up against no less a collector than Charles Saatchi.
He was infact adding to the several Smith works that he already has in his collection – with the added bonus of helping to create a higher market and increasing the value of his own works! Oh to be in such a position….
Carl Freedman has now given Smith a solo show at his newly opened east London space and I would be astonished if it is not already a sell-out. Unfortunately I have yet to make it over there and with just a week to run I would be remiss in not recommending a visit based on previous sight of Smith works.
The exhibition was also recently recommended as ‘Exhibition of the Week’ by no less than Paul Hobson, director of the influential Contemporary Art Society (an organisation any serious collector should join right away!). Since I cannot review first hand I cannot do better than quote from his excellent review:
“[the show] showcases his technical ability and evolving style as a painter and offers further insight into his somewhat hallucinatory vision and underlying autobiographical and art historical references. The exhibition brings together recent work, medium scale paintings where a figure or figures are situated in psychedelic and symbolic landscapes, alluding to spiritual or heightened emotional interiors. Based on a black and white photograph from the 1930s … the image has poignant autobiographical association for the artist which he often revisits. Other paintings are based on a 1912 photograph of his great-grandfather, a colonial explorer, which build upon the familial, patriarchal theme of the work. Painting on herringbone linen Smith allows the underlining herringbone pattern to disrupt and fragment the reading of the image, often asserting the pattern by painting it over final composition, creating a collaged effect and generating a dizzying, altered condition of perception, skilfully handled.
David Brian Smith runs until 17 November 2012 at Carl Freedman Gallery
Images courtesy of Carl Friedman Gallery
8 November 2012 § 1 Comment
Upstairs from the Sung Hwan Kim exhibition in the airy Vyner Street spaces of the Wilkinson Galleryis the first UK solo exhibition from Mark Alexander. For those familiar with his work you will realise how extraordinary to see more than a couple of pieces at a time. Prolific is not one of the words usually associated with Alexander’s output and the previous time I saw a work – a reworked Hieronymus Bosch pictured below entitled All Watched Over by Machines of Infinite Loving Grace - at Frieze 2012 – it was only two-thirds complete.It is a real treat then to be in a room with eight works at the same time. It is much easier to get a feeling of what he is trying to do with work that, viewed occasionally, may (falsely) seem to be disparate and unconnected.
Alexander’s most recent works have been in bright renaissance shades but here he switches to brown. This would normally be a colour that artists avoid, presumably on the basis that brighter colours catch the eye , but here every work has been carefully created in multiple shades of earthy browns. The inspiration here is the skin colour – and texture – of ‘bog bodies‘. Usually found in central and northern Europe the moisture preserves those unfortunates who met a swampy demise and were uniquely preserved. They have become almost timeless and represent a point somewhere between death and permanence, beauty and the grotesque.
The metaphor here is the bog – transforming bodies into artefact – which Alexander uses in his vision of reinventing icons of the past. He has effectively ‘buried’ and dug up from his own bog elements from works like Paul Egell’s Mannheim Alter Piece, 1739-41, Van Gogh’s Reaper with Sickle (after Millet), 1889, Jean-François Millet’s original The Sower, 1850, Caravaggio’s Narcissus, circa 1597-99, and Durer’s Praying Hands, circa 1508.
These paintings are given a strange new life – at the same time attractive and repellent. A striking body of work and well worth visiting before it closes. You may never again see as many Alexander works together!
The exhibition has just been extended until 18 November 2012. Wilkinson Gallery, Vyner Street.
The exhibition’s title alludes to the mystical writings of the sixteenth- century German thinker Jakob Boehme. “For I saw and knew the Being of all beings,” Boehme wrote, “the ground and the unground”.
- sun hwang kim – pages from ki-da rilke at wilkinson (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
25 October 2012 § 1 Comment
Having talked about the upsurge in Korean art in the review of Minhong Pyo at High House another artist on the way up Sun Hwan Kim. His show has recently opened at the Wilkinson Gallery in Vyner Street and he has recently appeared at such august Instititions as the Kunsthalle Basel and the Tanks at Tate Modern (where work related to this exhibition is shown).
The – rather awkward I feel – premise of this exhibition is from the phrase ‘ki da rilke‘ which in Korean means ‘I will wait’. He has then drawn an association with the Poet Rainer Marie Rilke and made transcripts of some poems and made drawings in response to them.
The results, for me, are mixed. The texture and mark making is delicate and interesting. Using a wide variety of products in each work – one example: Parchment paper, paper, acetate sheets, making tape, photo tape, artist tape, pencil, poster paint marker (water base), marker (xylene base) and gel pen – there is an ethereal and delicate quality to the works. Fantastical figures and flowing organic shapes that wouldn’t be out of place in a Glastonbury shop window – or a modernists sketch pad for that matter – drift in and out of focus amongst the layers of paper and acetate. He draws on Rilke’ for a poetical approach and where the metamorphosis of person and object is the theme.
They are interesting to look at but there doesn’t seem to be much substance and although this is largely deliberate the drawings don’t amount to much. The most interesting part here is the adventurous approach to framing – where the wooden frames are sometimes folded back upon themselves, stretched up the wall or absent altogether – and hanging where they are may be propped up against the wall or hung at different levels. Both reflect Kim’s experimental approach to
Playful, wistful, experimental and spiritual are other words to attach to this show that will appeal to many, if not to me on that day. Maybe I should go and read some more Rilke and try again?
Sung Hwan Kim – pages from Ka-di Rilke until 11 November 2012
Images courtesy of Wilkinson Gallery
- Celebrating 100 Years of Rainer Maria Rilke’s “Duineser Elegien” (austrianresearchuk.wordpress.com)
- Korean Art at the British Museum (theonefan.wordpress.com)
- Rilke’s Jewel (mikespot.wordpress.com)
- Insight from a Centurion Poet, Rainer Maria Rilke (tingkelly.wordpress.com)
23 October 2012 § Leave a Comment
In their three previous exhibitions to date High House have exhibited carefully curated group shows: Imagined Pasts /Unknown Futures and Dividing Line (still showing in the attractive gardens) being the most recent. As a break from this short-lived ‘tradition’ Minhong Pyo has a solo show and is the latest artist to feature in the modest but very pleasant gallery space.
Pyo hails from south Korea and as such is one from a rapidly growing roster of dynamic young artists of the highest quality to appear from their exciting art scene. I recently chatted to the organiser of the series of the highly rated ‘Korean Eye’ events (most recently at Saatchi) who reinforced my view that some of the most exciting artists of the current time are coming out of the country. But don’t make the mistake of thinking that China and Japan share in this dynamism – the work from Korea is way more interesting.The exhibition at High House features Pyo’s trademark photographic style. Enigmatic and unidentifiable urban landscapes feature pastel shades and unreal skies. Architectural elements are slightly displaced or re-ordered and nothing is quite how it seems or how it should be. These almost modernist landscapes despite being photographic also appear to be painted.
Infact Pyo is carefully playing with our perception of reality with images which are carefully manipulated. Windows are removed or switched to slightly unusual positions. Lifelike colours are tweaked in to unreal or neatly ordered pastel shades. Reflections or added elements turn normality into dream.
Pyo has cunningly printed on to canvas in order to encourage the perception of a painted image. Painting of course is accepted as being a version of reality rather than the real thing whilst photography encourages us to accept the truth of the image. These works lie on the borderline. We never know quite where we are.A series of small works accompanies these larger ones. Round images – again photographic – with blurred edges are aligned around two walls. There is no glass or frame to turn these in to simple or decorative photographic image. Mounted on birch panels with rounded corners and painted edges they are tactile objects that fall between painting, sculpture and photograph and that feature ill-defined subjects: perhaps the side of a persons head, some piping, a garden barbecue or a cat.
This a particularly well-formed and interesting show from a very interesting young artist. Better still, as a young artist early in his career you will find that these works are exceptional value.
Minhong Pyo RE/VISION is on Thursday to Sunday 11-5 until 18 November 2012
The writer has an interest in the gallery.
20 October 2012 § 1 Comment
Recently nipped up to Reykjavik – one of my favourite cities – for a short break to watch Yoko Ono flick the switch for the dramatic Lennon Peace Tower. A narrow beam of laser light that shines infinitely in to space the Tower is Yoko’s contribution to Lennon’s memory as well as a bold statement on World Peace.
A few days before departure the excellent Wilkinson Gallery, quite coincidentally, sent me an invitation to visit the Phoebe Unwin exhibition at The Corridor (or its equivalent in Icelandic). The opportunity seemed too good to miss. For those not familiar with this particular gallery – everyone I would guess – you need to negotiate a convenient time to visit when the owner is home, drive to an apartment block on the outskirts of town, discover from a friendly local which buzzer is the right one and climb a few flights of stairs to Helgi Fridjonsson’s modest apartment.
Corridor is slightly inaccurate since the gallery space occupies a hallway and front room where works hang variously amongst rampant spider plants, behind sofas and over a desk. Helgi is himself an artist and has been running this modest space for some thirty years and seems to enjoy the experience. His exhibitor list over the years is very impressive: Ceal Floyer, Fischli & Weiss and Per Kirkeby are amongst those many artists who have exhibited here, often before they became more well-known.
I have always been a fan of Phoebe’s dreamy acrylics that cleverly express a variety of emotions and feelings as much as person or place and the selection of works here are a good representation of her work.
A lovely little show – no end date is noted on the Wilkinson or Galleri Gangur (thats Corridor to you) websites – so who knows/ It may still be running the next time you’re in Iceland!
The Corridor (Galleri Gangur), Rekagrandi 8, Reykjavik 15, Iceland
- Lady Gaga wins peace award from John Lennon and Yoko Ono (contactmusic.com)
- IMAGINE PEACE TOWER – John Lennon (from Yoko Ono) (ireport.cnn.com)
- Imagine Peace Tower For more photos of the Peace Tower and… (instagram.com)
6 October 2012 § 1 Comment
Running alongside Imagined Pasts / Unknown Futures (see recent post) at the Oxfordshire High House Gallery is the sculpture exhibition Dividing Line. This takes place in the beautiful formal gardens that run around the Gothic grade II listed mansion. If you did not quite feel that a visit to Imagined Pasts / Unknown Futures was good enough a reason to cruise out in to the lovely Oxfordshire countryside then this should more than tip the balance.
The dividing line of the title stands as a conceptual separation or distinction; a line from which contrasts can be observed and old ideas re-examined. This exhibition boldly aiming to “spotlight contemporary outdoor sculpture that has escaped the tradition of re-regurgitating stale figurative and modernist modes.”
This is a bold statement and a brave exhibition to hold right in the beating traditional heart of conservative ’Middle England’ – in David Cameron‘s home constituency infact. Whilst it is possible to site examples of contemporary outdoor sculpture within the public realm, the private market – and no doubt especially here – still trends towards more historically established styles.
At High House shunning conventional expectations has allowed the exhibiting artists to create outdoor sculpture that embodies truly contemporary themes, materials, production and ideas. Many of the participating artists are primarily known for their indoor works; and in some cases this exhibition presents their first foray into outdoor sculpture.
Nika Neelova‘s Partings is the first work to greet you to the garden – quite appropriate since its main feature is a door. Cast in black concrete from an original from Somerset House it is a bold an powerful statement on the old vs new theme. Adeline de Monsegnat‘s contribution is Mother HEB – a blown glass ball filled with red fox fur (vintage of course!) – a surrealist style object that reflects the light, building and surrounding gardens to great effect. Her tubular Spworms emerge from the water features elsewhere in the garden.
Other strong works are Alex Chinneck‘s Concrete Cross Dresser - a playful concrete version of a Persian Carpet, Amy Stephens‘ Social Pod which gives new life and meaning to whale vertebrae which are mounted on steel poles like re-imagined fighter-jets and Jiho Won‘s self-explanatory Transformed Memory.
The exhibition is an excellent cohesive whole where the works bravely fit the formal Victorian garden beautifully. It does beg the question of whether the locals in a region where red corduroy trousers matched with some green tweed is considered the height of good taste ever be persuaded that a concrete door supported from a charred pole is a sensible garden sculpture? I am intrigued to discover the answer, although I would be more sure that the red fox fur inside a glass ball (of Adeline de Monsegnat’s Mother HEB) will at least find some support with the hunt followers.
You can visit and make your own decisions up to 14 October 2012. (I understand that although this is the official end of the exhibition most sculptures will be installed until 29 October 2012. You may wish to call to arrange a visit after the official exhibition closes).
Exhibition curated by Sumarrialunn in co-operation with High House Gallery.
- imagined pasts / unknown futures at high house contemporary (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)