high house private view

27 June 2012 § 2 Comments

The extremely observant amongst you will have noticed that my last blog referred to our new gallery – High House. This is located in the leafy village of Clanfield in the Oxfordshire Cotswolds– which I would note lies in the UK for our followers in strange and distant lands.

Harry Hill Batting Stallions

The exhibition will comprise The Momentarily Absurd – a look at humour in contemporary art – in the gallery space, whilst outdoors in the gardens will be Dividing Line – gallery sculpture ‘crossing the line’ to be shown outdoors.

Nika Neelova Partings

The gallery opens is hosting a champagne Private View weekend on the 14/15 July. I will send an email invitation to those email followers who are able – and willing – to come along. To other, please click on one of the links to the gallery website, where you will be able to register with your email address. All those registering before the PV weekend will be sent an invitation.

Glen Baxter

I hope you can make it and look forward to seeing you there!

Doyle & Mallinson Wendy Squat (3)

I will attempt to make a few blogs and feature some of the exciting artists that we’ll be showing – keep your eyes peeled!

Julie Cockburn Bird

High House
OX18 2SH

modern frustrations at sumarria lunn

11 September 2011 § 4 Comments

Sumarrialunn, in their neat little gallery space provide a welcome contrast to the vast spaces of the restored Haunch of Venison just around the corner. They also avoid the grand statements of the Haunch’s giant canvases – no doubt destined for corporate lobbies or grand homes – and instead feature young artists who thoughtfully investigate the world of contemporary art.

Often featuring installation, sculpture and less conventional art practice they provide a welcome alternative to the big international galleries. This particular small, but perfectly formed, show has Blue Curry, Ross Jones, littlewhitehead and Tim Phillips in a dialogue about the aggravations of modern life.

Tim Phillips - Hyperion

Ross Jones’ delicate pencil drawings depict a stripped-down version of a current political issue,  IED for example portraying the unassembled components of an explosive device. Passive but potent.

Blue Curry draws on a Caribbean background to expose personal and cultural frustrations. Untitled is a neat work that partly conceals rubber tyres with tropical beads in a snake-skin pattern. Tourist tat over industrial object – trouble in paradise.

littlewhitehead - The Philanthropist

Littlewhitehead’s irreverent views of society are here reflected by a ‘painted’ work created by the reaction of invisible chemical fumes. Are we the canvas upon which the chemical dangers, real or imagined, of the industrial society act?

The stand out work for me is Tim Phillip’s Hyperion. A gloriously over-the-top corporate logo for a future age. Inlaid wood in dynamic shapes is intercut with vinyl and backlit by LED lights. Russian suprematism meets corporate America.

All these artists will go far. These are good works (at low prices) well worth seeing.

Modern Frustrations at Summarialunn until 30 September 2011


london art fair gets ‘littlewhiteheaded’

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

16 November 2010 § Leave a comment

A pair of legs emerge from pink balloons that have floated to the ceiling. A boy with a Darth Vader mast sits alone in a row of school desks. Hoodies gather menacingly around a hidden corner. A hooded hostage is tied to a metal chair.

Maurizio Cattelan - Frank & Jamie

Welcome to the world of Littlewhitehead. Craig Little and Blake Whitehead are the two halves of this Glasgow-based art duo that take their inspiration from the city’s working class and bleak industrial landscape. Darkly humorous their work is initially reminiscent of Maurizio Cattelan pieces like the inverted policemen Frank & Jamie. But where the Italian gently mocks the system and the art world itself Littlewhitehead investigate rather darker aspects of life. There is the latent violence in the group of hoodies gathered in It Happened in the Corner; the schoolboy at the desks in Spam wears the helmet of the evil Darth Vader but is he lonely, alienated or violent?; the pretty pink balloons in Sentient Orbs have been cheerfully collected but the happiness is negated by the greed which has raised the owner to the ceiling.

“Within our work there is a strong connection between the reality that surrounds us and some kind of escapism to a made-up world,” littlewhitehead explain. “This made-up world is the construct of a dialogue between the two of us, which infuses scenes from an encyclopaedic range of references, from video nasties, to current events, and subconscious musings. It is in that world, unlike the one we actually inhabit, where we can fulfil these sinister desires.”

I initially dismissed their work at Saatchi, where It Happened was exhibited in Newspeak Part 1, but on further viewing I now appreciate their work more.  I think that perhaps in a new century these darker aspects of life have increasing resonance and relevance.

For collectors their work is currently extraordinarily good value – mostly well under £10,000 a piece – and in my mind is well worth considering. A little fairy tells me that they have something very big coming up this year (not allowed to tell, sorry) and now would be a great time to take a closer look at these interesting artists.

newspeak at saatchi – who do the critics love?

6 August 2010 § Leave a comment

The agony is over, here is what you have all been waiting for. As promised yesterday this is the result of my scrupulously unscientific survey to discover which artists shown at Newspeak (part 1), were most highly – and poorly – regarded by the critics. Saatchi has chosen his top artists in the UK, and here are the critics top nine of those. So this is la creme de la creme? See what you think.

1 William Daniels (5). Paintings of his own still-lives that have been themselves created with paper and household bits and pieces. They question originality, authenticity and cultural worth. ‘Outstanding’ (Standard). ‘Heartfelt and uncanny’ (Independent). ‘Delightful and very, very collectable’ (me!).

2.Littlewhitehead (4). It Happened in the Corner. A group of life-sized hoodies gather threateningly, backs towards us, in a  corner of the gallery. ‘Ominous and unsettling’ (Guardian).  Personally I ignore  hoodies gathered in corners and this time was no exception.

3= Ged Quinn (3.5). Allegorical landscapes in the style of Poussin/Lorrain containing strange references from recent history. ‘Thought-provoking, witty and multi-layered’ (Guardian). These works allow repeated close examination and have great appeal.

3= John Wynne (3.5). An army of loudspeakers occupy a whole gallery, building in to a monumental pile in the corner. A pianola plays its punched card at ultra-slow page and random sounds are interspersed in the soundtrack. A delicate balance between order and disorder, both visually and aurally, that is totally captivating.

5= Eugenie Scrase (3). Well who would adam and eve it? The School of Saatchi winner has slipped in with her ‘readymade’ park railings that bend under the imagined impact of a lump of tree-trunk. Brain Sewell in the Standard hits the nail on the head when he says ‘wait and see’  whilst the Guardian agrees –  is she a ‘Duchampian magpie or a total chancer?’ She is definitely a very lucky girl – will it hold?

5= Hurvin Anderson (3). His large canvases flirt between abstraction and figuration. There is a sense of disorientation and displacement and they ‘evoke colour and space in a way that recalls Peter Doig’ (Independent). I can already see these on the wall at Christies in a few years time!

7= Barry Reigate (2). Cartoonish paintings with Basquiat, Koons and Walt Disney all rolled into one. Messy, undeniably eye-catching but a bit ho-hum.

7= Goshka Macuga (2). Mme Blavatsky (a 19th century theosophist) floats, parlour-trick style, above two chairs. To quote the Saatchi, she ‘..emits a transendental aura, channelling the dark art of inspiration from beyond’. Macuga is a well-established artist who does not need our help, and with this waste of space she wont get it!

7= Rupert Norfolk (2). With Guillotine has ‘rendered duplictous a machine designed for cutting things in two… little short of genius’ (Independent). Also has a neat checked rug with trompe-l’oeil creasing.

Please see next post for the bottom of the chart!

The Publications were: The Times, Sunday Times, Independent, Guardian, Standard, FT and Daily Telegraph. The number of positive reviews to a maximum of 7 are shown in brackets. I will update the chart after Newspeak (part 2) opens at the end of October.

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