Paris Photo 2012

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.

ron arad’s curtain call at the roundhouse

13 August 2011 § Leave a comment

August is a sleepy time in the London art world. With summer holidays in full swing many commercial galleries take the opportunity to take a break themselves by closing or perhaps letting a show run longer than usual. Others ready themselves for the Autumn season and the frenzy around the Frieze – and other – art fairs. The public galleries fend off the kids and and have ‘family’ events, the blockbuster shows have all busted their blocks – opening long ago – or are coming in the Autumn too.

It is a great relief therefore to find that the Roundhouse has just opened it’s latest event. Supported by Bloomberg (glad the bankers money is going somewhere useful!) Ron Arad has been invited to create a work in this former railway building, dating back to 1846 and originally used as a steam engine repair shed, and later famously a theatre and 1960’s concert venue.

How I wish I’d been there to see Hendrix play, but my last visit was for another musician – David Byrne – who created the excellent Playing the Building‘. In a similar way Arad has created another interactive work creating a curtain of long transluscent silicon ropes. Oscillating as people walk through it it also acts as a backdrop for other invited artists invited by Arad to create projected works.

Arad has made an excellent and eclectic selection too: David Shrigley – as usual part-humourous, part disturbing – presents Walker, Christian Marclay projects a ring of piano keys played by giant hands, Ori Gersht shows crowds at a bullfight and Mat Collishaw features a gorgeous but poisoned tropical landscape. There are half a dozen more, all excellent in their own way.

Enjoy the architecture, the space, the experience and the films. An excellent way to spend a lazy day and well worth a trip.

The Roundhouse until 29 August 2011. Entry is on a ‘pay what you feel’ basis.

newspeak 2 at saatchi – who do the critics love?

3 December 2010 § 2 Comments

Jonathan Wateridge Jungle

Following on from a similar look at the Saatchi Gallery’s Newspeak Part 1, here is an overview of the critics verdicts on the artists featured in Part 2 – both positive and otherwise. Sadly analysis fairly limited in scope due to relative absence of critical reviews of the show. The favourites are at the top of the list, the clunkers at the bottom, with about twenty artists ignored entirely.

Dick Evans has produced a dark brooding wave of black silicon carbide, reminiscent of Hokusai’s Great Wave off Kanagawa. Toss in a crushed can and some fag ends and it has an undeniably ‘dark brooding aura’ loved by Metro and the Mirror. The Telegraph use it as their leading image.

Maurizio Anzeri embroiders and partially obscures vintage photographs. The result is ‘arresting and unsettling’ (Metro) and ‘exotic, mysterious and disturbing’ (Mirror).

Anna Barriball aims to provoke mystery in the familiar. She succeeds. A wardrobe is covered in black tape – it becomes a memory or void. A door is covered with tracing paper, repeatedly rubbed ‘broods with an ominous glamour.‘ (Independent).

Anthea Hamilton’s assemblages extract the cubist elements from imaginary works to reveal them in their 3D strangeness. They work quite well and the Independent loved them, the Telegraph illustrated them.

Idris Khan’ s photographs overlay multiple images such as Becher’s iconic water towers to create impressionistic prints ‘amazing in their depth’ (Mirror). Delicate images have been created from soulless objects.

Anne Hardy photographs fictional scenes carefully built from scratch. Littered with ephemera they create an elaborate narrative of events, place and time. Mysterious and captivating, I agree with the Mirror’s approval.

Toby Ziegler ‘remakes a Seurat landscape … for the computer age’ (Telegraph). His geometric landscapes, devoid of humanity feature star-shaped leaves fall from pixelated trees. Every Saatchi visitor stopped, stared and photographed. Genuinely eye-catching.

Tessa Farmer in Swarm has created a glass case full of insects, which on closer inspection are ‘elaborately constructed fairies battling garden insects’  which the Mirror wonders are just bits of craft  that has not yet reached the guft shop. Rather cruel – especially as it was chosen as the articles leading image. One up to Tessa I would say!

Jonathan Wateridge’s oversized canvases of plane wrecks, Sandinistas and astronauts play on the accuracy of traditional paintings whilst adding contemporary elements, somewhat as Ged Quinn, but were criticised by the Mirror for ‘not going far enough.’ Their physical presence and easy interpretation will nevertheless make them popular with the public and no doubt we will see his work sell strongly at auction.

Alexander Hoda creates assemblages of junk which are covered in black latex to – well – to something. Unfortunately Hoda does not really seem to know himself – the artists comments in the Saatchi guide are a mish-mash of different ideas including (but not only) ‘exploring relationships, desires, and urges, to perceive them in different contexts rather than something that’s conditioned to be guilt-laden or perverted.’ Pardon? They left the Independent, and me, rather cold. Metro concurred as did the Mirror – at length!

Carla Busuttil gets the ‘wooden spoon’ for ‘total lack of talent’ from Brian Sewell at the Standard. It is hard to argue. The deliberate lack of draughtsmanship or painterly efforts do not seem to have any real aim or purpose other than to provoke.

There we go – all rather underwhelming. Let us now look eagerly forward to the British Art Show , currently at Nottingham until 9 January 2011 and from thence moving onward to Plymouth, Glasgow and London. Held every five years it hopes to be an overview of the development of British Art. Early reviews seem to be good – personally I am itching to see Christian Marclay’s The Clock, where some three thousand film clips featuring the time are collaged in a compelling 24 hour film.

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