James Franco – Actor or Artist?

5 December 2013 § Leave a comment

Its just not the done thing in the art world for an artist to have made their name elsewhere. God help an author, actor, musician or businessman with a talent in art – the art establishment will do its worst to avoid taking them seriously. Artists are required to be devoted to their trade and where any notion of their work being something other than a full-time activity damns them to the sidelines of history.

James Franco Psycho Nacirema

It is also dangerous for known artists to flirt with fame elsewhere. Yoko Ono has been frequently ridiculed despite her position as one of the most significant artists of her era – her sin of course was to cavort with a Beatle whilst making as much music as art. Grayson Perry‘s work is now less valid to many following over-publicity of his cross dressing and chat shows appearances. There are many more of course.

James Franco Psycho Nacirema

Those who first found fame outside the art world will find it even tougher. Bob Dylan and Ronnie Wood are trying their damnedest but are not accepted in the art world, their mediocre work doesn’t help. A new name to consider is James Franco. This from Franco’s Wiki entry: ‘an American actor, director, screenwriter, producer, teacher and author.’ They have obviously forgotten to add artist, since he has this year been shown at no less than Pace London.

James Franco Psycho Nacirema

His exhibition was entitled Psycho Nacirema (American backwards), featuring multi-media installations and presented by the Scottish artist Douglas Gordon. It presents a mise-en-scène of director Alfred Hitchcock’s 1960 thriller Psycho, remodelling the infamous Bates Motel intertwined with the 1920’s Arbuckle scandal.

James Franco Psycho Nacirema

Gordon, an artist of considerable experience and a reputation, has openly acted as a curator and teacher for Franco reworking one of Gordon’s most well-known works – 24 Hour Psycho (1993). Franco states “Film is the medium that employs all art forms, but it is contained within the screen. We take this multi- form idea and pull it through the screen, so that the different forms are once again fully dimensional and a new nexus of interaction and significance is created. In this show, we go back to the original locations and images of Psycho and alter them so that once again the viewer’s relationship with the material changes. One becomes an actor when interacting with this work. Film becomes raw material and is sculpted into new work.”

James Franco Psycho Nacirema

This was an interesting multi-media collaboration, nicely summarised by Franco’s statement above, however, the suspicion for now remains that Gordon’s contribution was the greater. One suspects that he fleshed out Franco’s bare bones in to an interesting and surprisingly good exhibition. I shall look forward to the next and wait to see if more of Franco’s hand is visible!

James Franco Artist or actor? Undecided!

Psycho Nacirema was at Pace London between 6 June & 27 July 2013

See video at NOWNESS blog here

Bob Dylan Goes Metal – Mood Swings at the Halcyon Gallery

14 November 2013 § Leave a comment

Opening today at the Halcyon Gallery Mood Swings is Bob Dylan’s latest foray in to the visual arts.  It seems that he is now a sculptural artist, adding to his previous output of graphic prints – unkind observers might call it ‘colouring-in’ – with an exhibition of iron gates, objects and car doors.

Bob Dylan Mood Swings

These gates and other objects are apparently the outcome of the artist’s ‘lifelong fascination with welding and metalwork’, a fascination that has taken some 72 years to become known to the world at large. To be fair it seems that he did have at least some involvement with the production of the works as he has been pictured gamely in (strangely clean) white overalls plunging some iron into a brazier and arranging sundry iron objects including tools, chain and scrap metal, on a studio floor. Then again if you are Bob Dylan you can of course do what you want!

Bob Dylan Mood Swings

The work purports to show Dylan’s background and an association with the history of the industrial heartlands of the USA. Having been brought up on Minnesota iron lands he said: “I’ve been around iron all my life ever since I was a kid. I was born and raised in iron ore country – where you could breathe it and smell it every day. And I’ve always worked with it in one form or another.”

Bob Dylan Mood Swings

He said the gates appealed because of “the negative space they allow”, adding: “They can be closed but at the same time they allow the seasons and breezes to enter and flow. They can shut you out or shut you in. And in some ways there is no difference.”


The exhibition also includes paintings and riddled with bullet holes riddled car doors, each named after depression era rogue like Al Capone. Alongside are pastiche covers of iconic magazines such as Life and Rolling Stone.

Bob Dylan Mood Swings

The works are competent and of passing interest but it is plain to see that they quite simply wouldn’t be here if Dylan was not the musical icon that he is justly considered. They are an improvement on the dreadful Drawn Blank series, which you can check out on Ebay if you want to buy one or perhaps see how Dylan’s works rate as a potential investment. Unless you tend to use Bond Street for casual shopping forays perhaps needing some extra decor for one of the rooms in the east wing (or a new garden gate at £35k) this is for curiosity only.

Bob Dylan Drawn Blank

Bob Dylan Drawn Blank

Bob Dylan Mood Swings runs at the Halcyon Gallery until 25 January 2014.

halcyon gallery, bond street

8 January 2013 § Leave a comment

I say Bond Street, but sadly Halcyon now have three galleries – two in New Bond Street and one in Bruton Street. I won’t try and separate them according to exhibition and so on. I will firstly give them some credit as they were amongst the few galleries to bother to open in the week after New Year but otherwise just one comment – NO! Don’t do it. Pleeeaase.

Some images from their top artists to help you decide. I think you get the drift….




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