10 October 2017 § Leave a comment
October is the very best time of year to see art in the capital. The city is abuzz with the latest blockbuster shows – 2017 brings Jasper Johns as well as Dali/Duchamp to the Royal Academy, Jean-Michel Basquiat at the Barbican and Rachel Whiteread is showing at the Tate. The commercial galleries have pulled out their biggest names – there are Jean Dubuffet at Pace, Jake & Dinos Chapman at Blain Southern and Anselm Kiefer & Robert Longo at Thaddeus Ropac. Meanwhile all the big names auction houses stage their autumn contemporary sales.
Frieze of course also comes to London, not only with the contemporary focused Frieze Art Fair, but the thriving Frieze Masters event just up the Regents Park footpath. The great and the good of the art world come together with a smattering of celebrity names to see the latest that the art world has to offer.
Our annual visit to Frieze is always highly anticipated. Not only to admire some great art but to also to discern new trends, see what the big names have on offer admire the most spectacular works – after all this is the biggest fair in the greatest city in the contemporary art world.
Yet still, and perhaps because of the anticipation, there is again a tinge of anti-climax. Are we expecting too much or could Frieze do better? Their gallery selection process doesn’t help – preferencing worldwide galleries means we seem to get mediocre work from perhaps Peru or Burkino Fasso at the expense of many excellent local galleries (is this not a London art fair after all?).
Gone are the bigger artists names and the spectacular and expensive works that graced earlier shows and we now seem to get more mid level and affordable (?) pieces – even from the big name galleries. One is left with the niggling impression that much of the best work is hidden away and that most of the deals are done back at their base.
The curated ‘Sex Work’ exhibition spread through the show failed to stir us and was rather tame. Still, this is the very best contemporary art fair in Britain, there is plenty of good art to be found and new names to be discovered. There is always something to surprise, people to meet and in the end, where else could you for example pick up a free Passport to Antartica?
Amongst our selection of what we noticed at this years fair were: Olafur Eliasson whose colour-shifting balls drew a large crowd whilst Eddie Peake was eye-catching as usual. We loved Ryan Mosley’s newest works, rather more colourful than usual and Mathew Ronay’s curious pastel-coloured and tactile sculptures. On the other hand Jeff Koon’s Glitterball Jesus and Hauser & Wirth’s Bronze Age pseudo museum display failed to inspire.
So, will we go back next year? Of course we will – and we’re looking forward to it already!
akickupthearts were guests of Frieze London
For more information visit www.frieze.com
18 July 2011 § Leave a comment
Correct – Jake or Dinos. Each of the infamous brothers has supposedly worked separately for around a year to each produce their own White Cube exhibition – one at Masons Yard and one at Hoxton. Having only collaborated since graduating from the RCA in 1990 this show is an experimental diversion – Dinos recently said ‘We’re not interested in our similarities between our interests, but the divergencies. This show will be an exemplar of that.’
What you get here is not really a surprise – the brothers have rarely, if at all, moved from their disturbing moral takes on politics, religion and morality and again we see few divergencies. It all starts comfortably enough upstairs at Masons Yard with a deliberately cramped display of forty-seven roughly hewn sculptural works, constructed of thick cardboard and roughly painted in dark shades. Each sits on its own white pedestal. Think Picasso or Schwitters assemblages as made by primary school children, a rethink of modernist sculpture.
Downstairs Dinos (I think, but it really doesn’t matter) really gets going. Uniformed Nazis, flesh stripped off and charred black, sporting deathly grins admire an exhibition of similar, but more monumental works in painted steel whilst randomly buggering or being shat upon by stuffed birds. A reversed and nightmarish version of Entartete Kunst – the Nazis exhibition of forbidden art – but here being enjoyed by the degenerate gurning guards. On the wall original Goya Disasters of War etchings are symbolically drawn over and blackened.
In a separate darkened room a work by Pieter Bruegel (his nickname ‘Hell-Breugel’) has been distorted and defaced with trademark Chapman figures. Breughel was presumably a Chapman influence – filling his paintings with hellish medieval grotesques of his own – so much so that Adrian Searle (in the only review I have read so far – Guardian) hilariously missed the Chapman’s additions!
Over at Hoxton disturbing animal-faced children huddle and admire the paintings – large, brooding Chapmanesque takes on fairy-stories. Childhood stolen and distorted. Upstairs are tableaux of household Catholic shrines, the tacky, gothic statuettes of religious figures in painted plaster are similarly deformed – baby Jesus with swirling tentacles instead of a face, Madonna with stitched-on patches of skin. These are sinister Orwellian ‘Big Brother’ Icons and more wonderful digs at the fakery of religion.
Some hard-boiled art critics have taken to criticising the brothers on the basis that their art no longer shocks. This is just not true – we may have seen it before or suspect what the Chapmans are going to show us but they miss the fact that this is art which gets you on a visceral level. It also pushes and prods us and intellectually challenges us whilst examining the history of art. Some find the Chapmans an easy target and, although I would love them to try something new, I prefer to side with Waldemar Januszczak who finds them amongst the most important artists working today. Love ’em or hate ’em it is a show you should see.
- Jake or Dinos Chapman – picture preview (independent.co.uk)
- Jake or Dinos Chapman – review (guardian.co.uk)
- Jake and Dinos Chapman at the White Cube in pictures (telegraph.co.uk)
29 June 2011 § 1 Comment
I was not a big fan of Emin – or even a small fan for that matter. To me she seems to represent the art worlds version of Big Brother. Here is Emin determined to reveal every personal trait, good, bad and ugly to the public who are determined to lap it all up – the more lascivious or embarrassing the better. Life laid bare as entertainment. Reality TV as art.
Nevertheless I was determined to go to this exhibition with an open mind. She has an army of fans in the art and media and they surely must see something compelling in her work. However the omens were not good. I arrived at the usual ‘opening day’ – the day immediately following the private view – but the exhibition, strangely, was ‘closed for a private event’. I eventually got in the following day.
In the catalogue Emin explains that her art is all about words and as we enter we get an awful lot of them, the first galleries occupied by her blankets and neons. The appliqued blankets are very impressive. Large, colourful and eye-catching they are more powerful as a group than individually with words and phrases used cleverly to illustrate a ‘patchwork of memories’ or concerns in the wider world.
Extending across the room is ‘Knowing the Enemy’ – a partially collapsed pier inspired by a letter written by her father. It is clever and interesting – the broken planking isolating a lonely cabin at the pier’s end. Evocative of longing and loss.
From this point the exhibition sadly goes rapidly downhill. The neons look pretty but putting trite statements like ‘love is all you want’ in neon does not unfortunately make particularly interesting art. A lame film of Emin on horseback wandering around Margate sand is one of several films to avoid. There is a ‘scrap book’ of a room entitled ‘Family and Friends’ with lots of trivial bits and pieces scattered over the wall and reverentially placed in cabinets – I started to try to read and make sense of these sundry fragments but lost the will to live.
In ‘Drawings’ there are various scrawled versions of Tracey masturbating and little else whilst searching desperately for more ‘Room’ topics the Hayward scrape the barrel with ‘Trauma’, ‘Menphis’, ‘Early Work’ (almost non-existent), ‘Sculpture’ (ditto) and ‘Terraces’ (a couple of teddies under benches).
A couple of works were sadly missing – ‘Everyone I ever Slept With’ was destroyed in the Momart fire and ‘Bed’ which Saatchi has kept aside for a 2012 show in Chelsea. Both would have added much to what was ultimately an exhibition rather devoid of strong individual pieces
It is undoubtedly true that many of the works would be lost individually but brought together in to a – sort of – coherent whole they have much more impact. Emin’s art, and life, makes much more sense and the gallery has done a good job of curation. I quite enjoyed the exhibition as an overview of a cultural icon but as for the art I ended up siding with Jake and Dinos Chapman who recently laid in to Emin during an Independent interview (18 June 2011) ‘I cant stand it. It’s art therapy – it doesn’t belong outside her head.’ ‘Tracey draws very badly .. and everybody claps their flippers together.’ The Chapmans incidentally are preparing for an exhibition at White Cube (opening 15 July 2011) where they have worked apart for several months, the results secret to the gallery and each other – now that I will find interesting.
Tracey Emin Love is all you Need. The Hayward Gallery until 19 August 2011
Jake or Dinos Chapman at White Cube Hoxton Square and Masons Yard. 15 July to 17 September 2011
- Emin: loving and dying for her art (independent.co.uk)
- Tracey Emin: ‘art in Britain has never been better’ (telegraph.co.uk)