5 November 2018 § Leave a comment
As soon as Frieze makes its annual appearance in Regents Park everyone knows that it is time to check out the London art scene. The annual schedules of the galleries – both commercial and public – are all heavily weighted towards the Autumn and the most important names carefully lined up for exhibition. This is the time when anyone can get an all-round view of global trends without leaving central London.
With the twin clouds of Brexit and falling market confidence hanging over the art world, it was good to arrive at Frieze to receive a David Shrigley newsflash accompanying the Art Newspaper – NEWS: PEOPLE GATHER IN LARGE TENT. It helped to lighten the mood – for more of Shrigley you could visit Stephen Friedman where he took over the whole stand and showed some witty neon works alongside his more usual sketches and bonkers animations.
Also lightening the mood were US artist Julia Scher’s pink-clad pensioner security guards who were regularly seen patrolling the fair.
As seemingly has been the trend for several years now the big institutional-type works were largely absent from a show that was dominated by smaller and mid-ticket works. An ugly and rather pointless exception was Tatiana Trouvé’s The Shaman which nevertheless apparently sold on the first day. Many other big name – big ticket items were perhaps held back for gallery events or even Frieze Masters.
Swiss artist Urs Fischer dominated the show entrance at Gagosian with a suite of iPad paintings printed on to reflective aluminium panels. All show his New York home with the image disintegrating across each set as if digitally erasing itself.
This years #metoo angled theme was Social Work, exploring how women artists looked at political activism within their work. With artists including Faith Ringgold, Sonia Boyce, Helen Chadwick, Nancy Spero and Berni Searle it was however somewhat underwhelming and could easily be passed largely unnoticed.
As usual though there was plenty to enjoy and here are a few of the other works that caught our eye:
Last but not least, as you leave the fair in Regent’s Park, perhaps to venture up to Frieze Masters, some twenty five different sculptures were dotted throughout the greenery and included Kimsooja (above), Rana Begum , Tracey Emin, Conrad Shawcross and Elmgreen & Dragset. They will remain until the end of Frieze week.
CELLOPHANELAND* were guests of Frieze London
For more information visit www.frieze.com
This post was also published at CELLOPHANELAND*
18 November 2015 § Leave a comment
The preview day of Frieze always provides plenty of visual stimulation – both on and off the exhibiting gallery walls. As we shimmied past the likes of Benedict Cumberbatch, Tom Hooper, Tommy Hilfiger and Valentino we made our way around the fair to see what was on offer this year.
Glenn Brown was our undisputed favourite this year with a stand full of great pieces at Gagosian, including these examples of both oil and sculpture.
The young sensation Eddie Peake had two stunning works on show.
There were two superb Michael Fullerton portraits showing at the Carl Freedman Gallery.
The underrated Billy Childish had a large scale work, also at Carl Freedman.
A colourful large scale Allen Jones was a great example of his work.
Ai Weiwei has been dying his roots.
Self Portrait in bath by Tracey Emin underwhelmed us, but here are some others that drew our attention:
Frieze London runs until Saturday 17 October 2015. For more information visit www. friezelondon.com
For more information visit www. friezemasters.com
Images by CELLOPHANELAND* and courtesy of Frieze
21 November 2013 § Leave a comment
Arriving in Venice for the biennale as a newcomer you will no doubt immediately pick up a copy the official biennale ‘map’. You will open it up. And open it again. And again. Flapping in the Mediterranean breeze you will now have the equivalent of about 8 sides of A4 covered with maps and lists of venues and events.
All very intimidating. How, what, where? There will be a temptation to try and rush around, seeing as much as possible. It all looks too much – and then there is Venice to be enjoyed along the way as well. The good news is that its not nearly as complex as it looks and a few simple rules will help you make the most of even a short stay.
1. Avoid the Peak Season. Unless you want to attend opening events try to travel away from peak summer season. Venice is always busy but the biennale will be much quieter September to November and flights and hotels may be cheaper. Don’t forget when you are planning that the biennale closes Mondays.
2. Fly to Venice. Obvious no? Well not really, the likes of Easyjet and Ryanair actually fly to Treviso an hour or so up the road. Instead fly direct to Venice airport. I go BA from Gatwick.
3. Take the Ferry. Also seems obvious, but from Venice airport you could save some money and go by bus to the edge of town, then take a Vaporetto to your hotel. Dont bother. Spend a small amount more and take the Alilaguna ferry from the airport direct to San Marco or Rialto (amongst other destinations). Its quicker and you get a wonderful cruise across the lagoon for free. For convenience buy a return trip and an unlimited pass on the Vaporetti (for the duration of your stay) in the airport terminal.
4. Book a convenient hotel. Check out the stops for the various airport ferries and book a hotel within a short stroll. All bags need to be carried down the passageways so, unless you get a private boat to your hotel with its own landing stage, travel light! Between the Rialto and San Marco they tend to be pokey and expensive so avoid this area but there is plenty more in districts like San Polo or Castello which are still very convenient. Avoid the Lido unless you have more time and want a beach.
5. Do the official biennale first. It comprises two main areas. The Giardini (gardens) has the major national pavilions in wooded gardens plus the main curated pavilion and is probably the best for the first day. You will need at least a half day for a good look plus a tea/lunch break. Arsenale, the second main area, is best left for the next day unless you want to go cross-eyed looking at art.
6. Satellite National Pavilions. Dont even think of doing them all! Ask for recommendations, read reviews and search the internet and cut down the list to the best half dozen. The alternative is walking up six flights of stairs in annoyingly remote locations just to find some dismal government sponsored propaganda.
7. Plan your visits. Although Venice is small it can take longer than you think to get around, especially when Vaporetti (ferries) are involved. It is also very easy to get lost and a 5 minute detour can quickly become half an hour. Map your stops and try and fit in the satellite pavilions en route to the larger attractions.
8. Its not just the biennale! Major (and minor) galleries take advantage of the biennale to have their own shows, not on the official guide. Again be very careful which ones you put on your schedule and check how long they run. Many only ‘pop up’ for a few weeks.
9. And More. The Venice institutions also put on extra shows. Amongst many don’t miss: Punta della Dogana & Palazzo Grassi (both owned by Christies’ Francois Pinault) with their contemporary exhibitions; The Guggenheim – Peggy’s extraordinary Modernist collection; The Fortuny Palace – a wonderfully diverse collection with a curated show blended in amongst it, all in an extraordinary dream-like location; Gallerie dell’Accademia – pre 19th century masterworks; Ca Rezzonico – museum of 18th century Venice that usually hosts a top contemporary exhibition.
10. Add a touch of luxury. Time visits to avoid meals at the Giardini and Arsenale – try local spots nearby. Later escape the crowds and drop in to the smart hotels for some luxurious relaxation time. The Hotel Gritti Palace has a perfect canal-side terrace whilst the roof terrace of the Danieli has breathtaking views. Of course they’re expensive, but you don’t have go wild.
There’s lots more of course – but I’ll let you have fun finding out the rest yourselves!
- The Venice Biennale 2013 – The Encyclopaedic Palace (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)
- Featuring: Venice Biennale (eyegawker.wordpress.com)
- The Encyclopedic Palace – Venice Biennale 2013 (lareviewofbooks.org)
- Biennale/Venice (nicholasjonespd.wordpress.com)
- Venice, architecture and the beautiful biennale (paulsmith.co.uk)
- City Scene: Venice (bryanmarshall13.wordpress.com)
11 November 2013 § 2 Comments
Most reviews of the Venice Biennale are posted soon after its opening in June/July. This is all very well for those writers who enjoy being in a sweaty summertime Venice thronged with tourists and queueing with the crowds to gain access to the most interesting pavilions. True, there are some exhibitions that only ‘pop-up’ for the first month or so of the biennale and naturally all the sleb-studded parties also only happen around opening time but on the whole it is a time I avoid like the plague.
I prefer to let the hubbub settle down and visit later in the year. With the end of the 2013 Biennale on the 24 November there is a big window of opportunity for take a trip during a quieter period when not only is the weather less hot and humid but there are fewer tourists, hotel prices are lower and tables are available at the best Osterias.
Last but not least of course you can take advantage of the prior reviews to plan visits to the best pavilions whilst avoiding the (too-frequent) time-wasting exhibitions in multitudinous back-alleys that you have just walked in circles for 30 minutes trying to find.
In the official Biennale there are, as usual, a plethora of dud pavilions. Surprisingly these include giants like Germany with an OK installation with a maze of interlocking stools by Ai Weiwei and little else, France with Anri Sala pointlessly punning on Ravel/Unravel – geddit? – and the USA where Sarah Sze has filled the pavilion with a student-like mess of bits and pieces.
Japan had chosen a very neat display of conceptual work from Koki Tanaka featuring collective tasks and collaborative acts in order to examine a new post-tsunami Japanese reality. For example groups of five musicians, writers or potters were asked to create a work together, the process being filmed whils other projects, reminiscent of sixties Ono & Fluxus were perhaps ‘Precarious Tasks #3 Walk from city to its suburbs’.
Vadim Zakharov’s brilliant Russian pavilion has a besuited businessman perched on a high rafter throwing peanut husks upon the public below whilst in the adjacent room gold coins are showered upon the ladies (only!) below who prolong the golden shower by collecting the coins in to a bucket which is raised – by another suited gent – and emptied on to a conveyor belt. A perpetual cycle of greed and exploitation is completed by the willing participants.
Jeremy Deller however has stolen the Giardini ‘show’ with ‘English Magic’. He cleverly weaves together truly diverse aspects of British society to create a witty and topical vision of one version of a national mythology. Amongst a number of threads Prince Harry’s appalling shooting of two rare hen harriers is revisited with a giant bird carrying off a passing Land Rover whilst Abramovich’s obscene yacht is cast in to the Venetian lagoon by Willaim Morris. There is of course a Deller trademark tea room – the ‘TEA’ spelt out in palaeolithic arrowheads – seeming much more relevant in an international location where it’s Britishness is self-evident.
The central Giardini pavilion and the Arsenale meanwhile I found to be rather a mess. The attempt to illustrate the thematic Encyclopaedic Palace coming a cropper with a confusion of self-taught and outsider artists alongside more conventional names – big and small.
Elsewhere around town the exhibits from Iraq, Ireland & Cyprus, Wales, Lithuania and Angola stand out from the multitude. Rudolph Stingel is worth seeing at the Palazzo Grassi where he has carpeted almost every inch of the walls and floor with oriental rugs. Buy a twin ticket for the other Pinault exhibition at the Punta della Dogana. The wonderland of the Palazzo Fortuny is always worth a visit – this time with an Anton Tapies exhibition.
There is much more of course whilst watching over the whole event from its waterfront perch on the island of San Giorgio Maggiore is the giant pink inflatable sculpture Alison Lapper Pregnant by Marc Quinn. Eye-catching and impressive.
- Featuring: Venice Biennale (thelastphotographer.wordpress.com)
- Venice Biennale, Part Two (akronartmuseum.wordpress.com)
- Venice Biennale 2014: Morocco to Participate with First Pavilion (archdaily.com)
- Featuring: Venice Biennale (eyegawker.wordpress.com)
- venice biennale – part II: arsenale (art925.wordpress.com)
- Day 11: 5th October: Venice Biennale (warwickstudentinvenice.wordpress.com)
- Venice Biennale (tellinotherstories.wordpress.com)
16 January 2013 § Leave a comment
A giraffe is a horse designed by committee – or so the maxim goes – and it is clear that the London Art Fair is similarly organised by some sort of dysfunctional gathering. The result here is a multi headed dinosaur of a show that really doesn’t know what it is doing or where it is going.
I went along to the first – ‘VIP’ – day of the LAF 2013 yesterday with hopes that I would be able to discern some sort of improvement for a Fair that has, over a number of years now, tried without success to respond to the threat of Frieze and the booming appeal of international art fairs to the London dealers. I wanted to pick out the highlights and enlighten you dear reader with some delightful imagery from my phone-cam. I failed.
BF (Before Frieze) the fair was no doubt the art fair in London but in recent years has struggled to find a voice. This years is no exception with its identity crisis even more evident. We have a rump of Modernist galleries that occupy the best (?) central locations in the hall whilst generally mediocre contemporary galleries, year on year, steadily push on to their turf. Upstairs on the balcony are the sort of depressing galleries – typically found in coastal tourist spots – offering meaningless ‘contemporary’ work by obscure artists. Pushed off to the side in a strange warren of rooms we then have Art Projects – the ’emerging artists and new work’.
Add on to that Photo 50 – a curated exhibition of contemporary and historical photography, a bunch a galleries offering editions, others with books and publications and you have a mish-mash of a fair that aims to please everyone but appeals to nobody.
The first fair of the year in the art world’s most happening city should be an exciting and appealing event. As the easternmost of London’s fairs dozens of London’s most dynamic galleries and artists are virtually within walking distance, but are they here? No – they wouldn’t be seen dead at this old-fashioned event which promotes some left over bits of Modernist art from mid-level galleries (the best Modernist Galleries now keep well away too!) whilst the young and innovative galleries are shunted off to the side in a subterranean limbo.
As for attracting the big buyers, ‘VIP’ pass holders are offered their own lounge with drinks and canapes. This turns out to be a small sweaty, messy and overcrowded room where the canapes get about four feet past the bar before being hoovered up. I don’t think real VIPs would be impressed.
My personal (and what do I know, but I’m going to say anyway…) tips to LAF. Dump the few modernist galleries. Go contemporary. Focus on something – photography, emerging artists, small galleries – anything. If not the LAF horse is well on its way to the knackers yard to be ground in to Tesco art beef burgers, and that would be a sad loss to London’s limited choice of fairs.
Artists from top: Virgilio Ferreira, Alan Davie, Shih Hsiung Chou, Alex Ball. Other than Alan Davie the artists are amongst those featured in this years excellent Catlin Guide.
- London Art Fair: A varied fair full of adventure (telegraph.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)
18 October 2012 § Leave a comment
Another uninspiring Frieze his year. I suppose that once the art world has – like every year – built it up to be the London event of the year there is only one result: some degree of disappointment. Despite this Frieze of course remains the best UK contemporary art fair and a must visit to try at catch a whiff of the zeitgeist of the contemporary art market. Here are a few of the things that caught our eye this year. No particular reason. No particular order. No analyses of who sold what. And most definitely no ‘who was seen where’ nonsense.
A melting Paul McCarthy White Snow Head at Hauser & Wirth.
A Gavin Turk neon door.
Julian Opie‘s rather neat sculptures – and a mosaic.
One of a few large and impressive Wolfgang Tillmans images.
Something made of some substance made by somebody South American (I think?)
And outside, in the rain a pretty Yayoi Kusama from Victoria Miro.
5 February 2011 § Leave a comment
Originally conceived three years ago by New York dealer James Cohan the ‘world’s first online only art fair’ has just closed. Billed as the first ‘to mobilize the collective force of the world’s leading contemporary art galleries with the unlimited reach of the Internet’ its inaugural fair took place exclusively online from January 22-30, 2011.
With further admirable modesty the show was promoted as ‘an unprecedented event’ featuring ‘critically acclaimed artists’ and ‘internationally renowned dealers.’ The ‘revolutionary design’ was promoted as a way to ‘view artwork online as never before.’ ‘Innovative technology’ promised to allow ‘visitors to zoom in to examine details of a painting’s surface, get multiple views of a three-dimensional work, and watch videos of a multimedia piece.’
In view of this expansive rhetoric there was only one thing that could possibly happen – and we all knew that it would didn’t we? It crashed. Hoorah! Not completely, but there were a plethora of problems with access speed and error messages, vip passholders couldn’t access dealer’s ‘private rooms’ whilst many galleries had their ‘online chat’ facility, which allowed interaction with clients shut down.
The organisers have said that anyone who paid $100 to enter for the first two days has been refunded and pass holders have been emailed: “If you have experienced delays error messages or slow processing speed while visiting the VIP Art Fair in the first two days, please accept our sincere apologies.”
A number of galleries have complained and said that they would not return although the organisers (of course) claim that it was a great success reporting some good sales: Sadie Coles HQ sold Rudolf Stingel’s painting Die Birne (2002) for a high six-figure price, while David Zwirner sold Chris Ofili’s sculpture Mary Magdalene (Infinity) (2006) in the mid six figures. Alexander and Bonin sold Mona Hatoum’s unsettling 3D grid sculpture Bourj (2010) in the low six figures, while James Cohan sold Yinka Shonibare’s The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (2008) for something between £25,000 and £50,000. Francis Bacon’s Man at Washbasin meanwhile went unsold to the chagrin of the Marlborough Gallery.
Instinctively many dealers and observers will feel that art should be something sold face to face and there is undoubtedly a good deal of schadenfreude washing around at the relative failure of this first online fair – I personally love the mental image of potentially pyjama-clad sales staff (they needed to man their lines 24 hours) faced with crashing systems in the small hours of the morning. Nevertheless the appeal for dealers in accessing a world-wide range of clients and expanding their databases whilst remaining at ‘home’ must have great appeal and the fair will no doubt iron out the glitches and, sadly, continue successfully in the future.
- VIP Art Fair: Welcome to the virtual art fair (telegraph.co.uk)
- Last weeks VIP Art Fair, online (gothamgal.com)
- $1m artworks up for sale at online fair (guardian.co.uk)
- Pyjama-clad dealers wait for a byte at online art fair (theage.com.au)
- Top works unsold at first online art fair (thestar.com)
23 January 2011 § 1 Comment
The London Art Fair 2011 kicked off this last week with, let us say, a whimper rather than a bang. Despite being around for some 23 years, it has been on the way down for many years since Frieze stole its thunder a number of years back. Its decline this year was sadly rather evident.
The first thing to strike you was not who was there, but who was not. The big international galleries have long since avoided the fair: White Cube, Hauser & Wirth, Victoria Miro and the like steer well clear. Middle level galleries are now almost completely absent – the likes of Stephen Friedman and Flowers are largely gone. As for small, influential galleries like Carl Freedman – not a chance. Even little West End galleries like John Martin selling popular and easily accessible work – the galleries for who you would imagine this show is perfect are deserting the ship.
So who is left? There was a reasonably good selection of work from Modernist British artists – Ivon Hitchens, Roger Hilton, Alan Davie and the like – shown by galleries such as Anthony Hepworth, Austin Desmond and Richard Green. It was however thoroughly mixed in with contemporary work of generally poor quality from a multiplicity of small galleries – mostly little-known or ‘popping-up’ from unknown origins.
The whole was exhibited in a maze of alleys and passageways that seems ever more confusing and cramped year by year. The balcony stands afford such little viewing space that it is rather like having a gellery on a tube train whilst the Art Projects section showed some dire stuff in an assortment of back rooms.
The supposed ‘VIP’ tickets afforded a slightly more leisurely experience, but unaccompanied by any drinks until 6pm when some mediocre cava appeared in plastic glasses (the fact it was in relatively generous quantity was a minor blessing). As for the supposed ‘VIP room’ – I wont even go there!
Was it really as bad as I make out – probably not and I passed a pleasant enough couple of hours at the fair – but it was all slightly disappointing and not the sort of event to inspire the spending of large amounts of money on high quality art – even if you could find it. The first word from some dealers I spoke to backs up this impression – “the worst year yet”, “no buyers around” and “never again”. Verdict: C minus – could try harder. Will we see anything change next year – nope!
1 December 2010 § Leave a comment
The London Art Fair used to be the city’s leading art fair until all of a sudden, back in 2003, Frieze leapt on to the scene. It is now a bit of sideline event – and it is far from happy! Not that it has done much about it, pottering along, much as it always has. The word is out that it wants to try to do something about it. Unless something very dramatic happens, like hell friezing over (see what I did there!), it is hard to see it ever get back to number one. Meanwhile it is making some noises about making the fair a little more, let us say, memorable.
Their first move has been revealed today by the young and go-ahead London dealers SamarriaLunn. Their artists littlewhitehead will be appearing throughout the exhibition, much as Simon Fujiwara’s brilliant archaeological ‘intervention’ at Frieze.
Craig Little, 29, and Blake Whitehead, 25, began working together after graduating from the Glasgow School of Art in 2007. Having become friends by default because “nobody else would speak to us”, their prerogative is to expose the inherent, unpleasant, and bleakly comic truths about society and the viewer.
The London Art Fair heralds the unveiling of their most provocative work to date: a Bible cast from the ashes of 90 copies of Mein Kampf. Doomed to enrage any number of religious groups, not to mention anybody who has ever taken a history lesson, this work is classic littlewhitehead. They claim that “to some extent, it doesn’t really matter that it’s made from the Bible and Mein Kampf”: The two books can merely exist as symbols for powerful and commonly adopted ideologies and more importantly, their destructive capabilities.
They have stated that “We don’t ever set out to offend, we just seem to have a knack for annoying people.” A favorite recent subject for the artists has been hostages. Victims are tied to chairs, bags pulled taut over their heads, knocked onto the floor and left there, helpless. They wait to be saved, only for nobody to come. These victims may well be hyper-real sculptures, but the stories on which they are based are real: unashamedly lifted from the newspapers and brought screaming into the physical world. In walking past the work as viewers, littlewhitehead demonstrate our choice to ignore, and in turn make us complicit in the act;
And even if their work fails to offend/impress then they at least have a new verb. To littlewhitehead – which I suggest means to be deeply disturbing – even when initially you are sometimes not sure quite why. We shall see!
- littlewhitehead getting bigger (akickupthearts.wordpress.com)