24 February 2012 § 1 Comment
I’m turning Japanese, I think I’m turning Japanese, I really think so….. It seems that there are all sorts of Japanesey things happening here in London pretty much at the same time – the Yayoi Kusama exhibition at Tate Modern being the highlight of course.
Opening soon Now & Future JAPAN supports orphaned children from the Tsunami and features a work by Yoko Ono repeated from 1966 - Mend Piece – where visitors are invited to join in by repairing broken china. A fund-raising auction takes place alongside – see website for details. Please try to support it.
Meanwhile, starting today at Earls Court, Hyper Japan is UK’s biggest celebration of Japanese ‘culture, cuisine and cool.’ I will try and drop in if only to say konishi wa to Satoshi Miki – director of those unforgettable classics Instant Swamp and Turtles are Surprisingly Fast Swimmers (see it!) and to check out the World Cosplay Summit (Cosplay being anime/manga/video dressing up – don’t ya just love it!).
Talking about someone who loves dressing up Yayoi Kusama‘s big solo exhibition at Tate Modern kicked off a couple of weeks ago. I do like Kusama, but I was not overly excited about the prospect of some 14 rooms chock full of her trademark spots. However this was a prospect that I has seriously misjudged and Yayoi, bowing deeply, I apologise. Like many, I am sure, I have been far too ready to assign her to the ‘it’s just lots of spots’ category (even the Tate get carried away in the foyer – image above!) but here was a timely reminder of all the wonderful, innovative and varied work that she has made over a long – and still continuing – highly influential career.
A prodigy and already exhibiting in her teens Kusama moved quickly from oils to every variety of works on paper and the first rooms of the exhibition show stunning imagination and variety. Quickly even Japan was too small for her. She soon decided, whilst only still in her mid twenties that ‘For art like mine… questioning what we are and what it means to live and die… [Japan] was too small… My art needed a more unlimited freedom and a wider world.’
So off she went to the USA first having made contact with Georgia O’Keefe – one of the most influential painters of that time: this was no shrinking violet but a hugely determined artist. She quickly switched now from the compulsive and repetitive Infinity Nets to sculpture-making, her Accumulation Sculptures covering everyday objects with repeating forms. Her huge influence on the avant-garde of pop art being clear if I simply tell you that a boat sculpture was exhibited as the ‘One Thousand Boats Show’ in a room pasted on all sides with repeating silkscreen images (of the same boat from above) a full three years before Warhol created his ‘Cow’ wallpaper and that her stuffed objects predated those of Claes Oldenburg.
Her work continued to evolve rapidly. She featured herself in her own collages, photographs and films, putting the artist at the centre of the work – a tactic we are now (overly?) familiar with a la Emin, Abramovic, Gormley etc – but back then highly original. She threw herself in to happenings, performances and installation ‘environments’. As if she had not yet done enough she returned to Japan where she briefly set herself up as an art dealer before, deeply troubled, she checked herself in to an asylum where she remains to this day. As you may have guessed even this did not stop her with production of collages, sculpture, painting and installation still continuing apace.
If anyone has forgotten, or did not realise, just how influential and original Kusama really was then this excellent and comprehensive exhibition is a real must-see. A highly surreal, visual treat right through until the final two room-sized installations; one an infra-red/day-glo world of multi-coloured spots that float before your eyes, the other a mirrored space containing infinitely reflected tiny multi-coloured lights. Dazzling in every way – and the kids will love it too!
Yayoi Kusama at Tate Modern until 5 June 2012
Now & Future JAPAN at 39 Dover Street, London W1S 4NN from 3 – 9 March 2012
Hyper Japan at Earls Court 24 – 26 February 2012
- Yayoi Kusama, Tate Modern, review (telegraph.co.uk)
- Yayoi Kusama arrives at Tate Modern with a polka at Damien Hirst (guardian.co.uk)
8 September 2011 § 1 Comment
Hauser & Wirth. Phyllida Barlow – RIG. Urban structures reacting to the gallery space. Until 22 October 2011.
Stephen Friedman. Paul McDevitt – Running on Woollen Legs. Disney meets De Stijl – fascinating! Until 1 October 2011.
Blain Southern. Marius Bercea – Remains Of Tomorrow. Beautiful but complex landscapes of a fractured society. Until 1 October 2011.
Sumarria Lunn. Modern Frustrations. In particular check out Tim Phillips’ excellent Hyperion – a corporate logo for a new age. 8 to 30 September 2011, just around the corner from….
Haunch of Venison. Adrian Ghenie. Complex figurative paintings back in HoV’s restored original space. 8 September to 8 October 2011.
Alison Jacques. Dan Fischer. Immaculate pencil drawings that ask searching questions about modern icons. 9 September to 8 October 2011.
Gazelli Art House. Air I Breathe. Latest exhibition from an ambitious and innovative pop-up gallery. 9 September to 7 October 2011.
Josh Lilley. Christof Mascher – Urban Ornamental. Painting, ceramics and sculpture recounting mythological narratives. 9 September to 8 October 2011.
All in all it is a mouth-watering selection, I have seen most (will try to review in future blogs) and cannot wait for the rest. Go on, get downtown and create your own gallery tour….
29 May 2011 § 1 Comment
Blain|Southern have announced that they will be moving from their rather cramped Dering Street premises in to a new gallery at 5 Hanover Square in May 2012. It is big too. The 12,400 sq ft area is one of the largest in London – only Hauser & Wirth are more extensive. Just behind them in the size chart incidentally, is Haunch of Venison, Harry Blain‘s old gallery which he recently left. Both have excellent current exhibitions well worth seeing – my reviews hopefully to come soon.
So how is the downturn affecting London galleries? Hauser & Wirth’s huge new space only opened the end of last year, Halcyon Gallery are opening a new gallery soon at 144 New Bond Street, SumarriaLunn have just had their opening at 36 South Molton Lane and Gazelli hint at a new space in St James. There are pop-ups galore plus other new galleries and yet few seem to be closing.
20 March 2011 § Leave a comment
I recently attended the opening of one of the latest new galleries on the London art scene – the Gazelli Arthouse. New openings can be mixed affairs. Typically in recent years they might feature some mediocre art in a disused east London warehouse - recently whitewashed of course – accompanied by over-enthusiastic new gallerists and a few beers from an icy dustbin.
Gazelli proved somewhat better. Their first exhibition, entitled ‘Fired Up’, took place at The Dairy in Wakefield Street – a new venue for me, but it proved to be spectacular. With no expense spared (apparently) the space had been transformed in to something equal or better than many top London contemporary galleries. The lighting was exceptional and the art interesting if not spectacular. It sold very well.
Gazelli have decided to stage four more themed exhibitions over the coming year before their full opening. They will take place in a variety of spaces whilst they scout more permanent venues – Duke street is being considered - so clearly this is an operation with considerable ambition! Each will promote relatively new or unknown artists, including some from central Europe due to the Gallery owners origins in Azerbaijan and experience in Turkey.
Fired Up has recently finished (apologies for not reporting sooner!) but coming soon is Down to Earth which will be at The Studio in Kingdom Street, Paddington – another new venue. Running from the 1st to 21st April I would highly recommend taking a look. Completing the series, whose themes are loosely based around the elements, are Still or Sparkling, Air I Breathe and Bodhi – dates and venues tba.