The Protagonist Magazine Exhibiton at Contini Art UK

Written by Gulnaz Can

Ram Shergill, Daen Palma Huse
From left to right: Fashion Director Margherita Gardella, Creative Producer and Editor Daen Palma Huse, Actress and Director Bianca O'Brien, Editor in Chief and Photographer Ram Shergill

From left to right: Fashion Director Margherita Gardella, Creative Producer and Editor Daen Palma Huse, Actress and Director Bianca O'Brien, Editor in Chief and Photographer Ram Shergill

The Protagonist Magazine launched its 3rd issue and celebrated its long-standing partnerships with Lalique and Contini Art UK with an event of art, fashion, music, friendship, and other inspirations and delights.

For this night only, Contini Art UK staged a two men show, which showcased David Begbie sculptures on one side, and on the other, photography by Ram Shergill. The concept of the night was thought out by the creators of the magazine, Daen Palma Huse and Ram Shergill.

The basement gallery of Contini Art UK, on New Bond Street, was filled with bodies. Begbie’s metal mesh figures were standing or hanging in the large gallery space, reflections of their forms expanding on the walls and on visitors with the help of the lighting. The figures were headless or faceless, but felt almost real, almost wanting you to touch the wall to feel their non-reality. The movement and sometimes the heaviness of motionlessness of the sculptures felt tangible. As the juxtaposition, The Protagonist Magazine’s images were confrontational; figures were looking into the eye of the audience and telling us that there was more to see behind the picture. Or, was this what I feel because I knew that some of those pictures would be on the cover of a magazine? Where Begbie’s sculptures tell a story of simple human bodies, Shergill’s bodies talk to us, talk to each other and give signals of a cultural before, now, and after their existence. A completely nude man with his hair waxed, sitting elegantly on a 19th century chair in a 19th century dining room... Can a man be a Dandy without being dressed so?

Both of the artists’ works, though, represent singleness and togetherness, even when we try to see them separately. Where Shergill and creative director Palma Huse used mirrors to reflect the image of their models and thus creating new and different/distorted models through the reflections, Begbie uses light and shadow to create different dimensions to a body, which he had created as a sculpture. Even the most singularly standing body in this exhibition has a reflection and has an impact of expanding beyond their phenomenological beings.

Bodies and what they become, as well as what they produce were at the centre of this event. The latest issue of a magazine comprised of art, fashion, history, reviews, fiction, illustration, products of nomadic cultures and much more was presented and introduced to an audience from different backgrounds.

The event had surprises in store of other artistic work, directly presented from the artists’ very own bodies. The performance of mezzo-soprano Nancy May singing allowed us to observe every little muscle in her face to gently but eagerly move to give the tone its resonances, seemingly not changing a bit of her facial expression. There was no pressure from the singing work onto the mood in the face. We were left just to be mesmerised, not able to blink once. As if the brilliant singing, the voice was generated somewhere outside of the singer’s body, somewhere between her and our bodies. As if her voice didn’t come from a deep blood, flesh, fat, water, muscle and bone structure kept together by skin, by hitting several walls of an inner body.  

Jack Irving, Daen Palma Huse

In another performance, an almost nude man came to the stage with his orange inflatable arms. These arms were used for making one of the brilliant covers of the new issue of the Protagonist Magazine – namely the designs of talented designer Jack Irving. When the model appeared on the stage, the crowd was so speechless and besides being hypnotised by the moves of the man with many orange pointy-ended arms, we could hear the motor of the inflator very well. It was something like a song of a beetle while making love. 


It was a well-enjoyed night of bodies meeting bodies, voice, music, laughter, look, sensation, style, and culture.

Kevin Prone

The Protagonist Magazine is available online from or at many stockists worldwide. The magazine is printed on Conqueror paper supplied by Arjowiggins.

Kind thanks to PressON UK, who supported the exhibition and printed all artworks – including prints on mirror and brushed silver.

Special thanks to: Contini Art UK, Rafia Willmott at Eliane who provided vegan food, Frederick Fischer at Lalique for a wonderful raffle, Yana Uralskaya at Visual Couture and Ilona Pacia at Villa di Geggiano.

A Night with the Dancing Dead

Written by Gulnaz Can

The title of the new Barry Reigate exhibition is “Do Zombies Dance to Love in C Minor?” – An intriguing question. 

I decided to listen to the song, Love in C Minor by Cerrone, before going to the private view. With its orgasmic female back vocals, this relatively erotic 70s disco song led me to many more, including Yes, Sir I Can Boogie by Baccara. Now I couldn't get the image out of my head of zombies boogying all night, perhaps because of having found that certain song.

Castor Projects in Deptford seems to be like a homecoming for Barry Reigate, who finished his MFA at Goldsmiths in the 1990s. He later told me that zombies had actually also been a subject during his university years. His earlier work often deconstructed the nostalgic perception of cartoon characters such as the clown and Mickey Mouse, and was once described as “pop-porn”. To an old-school feminist such as myself, there is very little erotic about porn, and I find the notion of eroticism to exist on a similar level in Reigate’s works. But we have to accept that the suggestion here is that zombies would dance to Love in C Minor, so we can’t undermine any politics of desire in his work.

Zombies, the undead creatures, sound a bit like the artist himself, his making of art, and art as an institution in the text which accompanies the show, written by Reigate. The text is confusing, confrontational, and macho. It refers to a variety of layers, including time, depth, love, life, and body. His text feels very sincere; and it gives a certain pleasure and confusion to hear from an artists mind. The show turns into a special experience with the combination of all its components.

Reigates description of spraying paint is vivid: firing, shooting tiny atomic particles of acrylic upon a surface – the canvas, infected by history. Going back to layers, his use of the airbrush creates a sense of illusion of depth and multiple materials throughout the work. The Canvases require some time to look at, as they seem to be almost three dimensional, and sometimes even appear to be moving as a result.

It is possible to see some evidence of the destruction of the joyousness in cartoons, especially in the work “Dark Destroyer”. There is a round form, maybe a bit like a ‘funny’ face with disproportionate eyes. One of the eyes seems to sink deep into the head, exposing the eye socket. Almost like a zombie, staring at us, very determined to come to us, but also as if it is smiling and winking. It is not easy to know how to feel about this abstraction.

I see eyes everywhere. Reigate accuses us of enjoying staring at death from a distance. Most of us agree. Who would be happy to join them on the dance floor anyway? He suggests that it is fun to look at the surface and gaze at the effect. With zombies, differentiating the surface and depth is hard, because of their phenomenology. Their interior and exterior are not distinct. A decaying corpse has no proper skin, and malfunctioning organs are happy to expose themselves. Seeming scary yet fragile, it is indeed fun to stare at zombies, except that they stare at us too. Zombies, as non-procreative beings, not as sophisticated as living humans, seem to have a sole desire: to eat the life out of us. They always appear to be very ambitious about their desire.

Barry Reigate concludes that art is dead, yet is alive, like zombies. And they should be allowed to dance with erotic moves. Even if nobody would like to join them, it should be fun to watch.

The exhibition can be seen until 25 March 2017 at Castor Projects, Deptford.

all of the above images by 

all of the above images by 

The Circumcision of Christ and Modern Oblivion by Rachel Libeskind

Written by Wanda De Rosa

Rachel Libeskind at Contini Art UK on the night of her exhibition opening

Rachel Libeskind at Contini Art UK on the night of her exhibition opening

Despite gaining notoriety through performance, Rachel Libeskind has rapidly emerged as a multidisciplinary artist. Youngest daughter of the architect Daniel Libeskind, starting from an itinerant eclectic upbringing between Milan, Berlin and New York, Rachel’s work reflects her extensive curiosity of both historical subjects and contemporary media. Eternally fascinated by religious relics and medieval depictions of Christians rituals and after years of research her interest comes to surface shaped as a multifaceted visually powerful exhibition. The Circumcision of Christ and Modern Oblivion is her first exhibition in the UK showing digitally printed tapestries with renaissance paintings of one of the most controversial events of the life of Christ.

Bypassing the religious matter, the subject analysed is clearly mundane rather than spiritual; it openly bridges both Jewish and Christians beliefs in order to create an impact for those just discovering this relatively unknown aspect of Christ’s life.

One of the core points of the display is to channel the viewers attention towards a modern replica of ancient artistic depictions of Christ’s circumcision. Using contemporary and “ready-made” media like WalMart’s custom tapestry prints and fake roman nails bought on ebay to hang them, isn’t really a reference to mass production: “Personally I don’t really care that they [the prints] were made at WalMart but when some people find out, they think it’s like a great joke on the American mass market.” Libeskind reveals this in conversation with Contini Art exhibition curator Diego Giolitti, then adding “I left on those little American tags that they come with which say, “Made in the USA”… I’ve continued to push this idea and even used eBay to source the nails that I want to hang the tapestries with.” From Libeskind’s past experience and artistic approach, it becomes clear that the “mass market joke” is only a further interpretation given to a work based mainly on exploiting ordinary modern tools in order to re-tell an ancient story. With collages having been one of her first expressive media, Libeskind’s choice for tapestry results in a natural evolution of her early artistic approach into something that a wider public may appreciate in multiple forms: “This work is not necessarily wall bound- so if somebody wanted to have it draped on an object, they could have it like that. If somebody wanted to have it as a blanket or something like that, they could also have it that way, even though that’s somewhat absurd.” Rachel herself uses the word “absurd” to describe the way in which her art may find a place in daily life, yet it somehow also reflects the atmosphere and the kind of attention her tapestries draw from their audience.

The Circumcision of Christ and Modern Oblivion can be seen at Contini Art UK, 105 New Bond Street, until 31st of October 2016.

The Circumcision of Christ (Anonymous), 2016 Tapestry made by digital loom,  One of a kind, 157x127 cm, 60x50 in

The Circumcision of Christ (Anonymous), 2016

Tapestry made by digital loom, 

One of a kind,

157x127 cm, 60x50 in

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The Infinite Mix

Written by Anna Beketov

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, OPERA (QM.15), 2016, HD Video, 8 minutes 30 seconds  © DACS, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, OPERA (QM.15), 2016, HD Video, 8 minutes 30 seconds  © DACS, 2016. Courtesy the artist and Esther Schipper, Berlin

The Hayward Gallery and The Vinyl Factory present The Infinite Mix, a collection of visual-audio artworks at 180 The Strand. The Infinite Mix is an immersive experience - its location a 70s dereliction of a former office building, which allows for a personal construction of viewing narrative. Being inside The Infinite Mix is like being inside a human brain and autonomously meandering from an enigmatic thought to an enticing memory to a fantastical dream.

The show offers a multi-dimensional viewing experience, and not least owing to Cyprien Galliard’s epic Nightlife whose 3D visuals place you in the centre of a psychedelic firework display and voluptuous trees to blow out of the screen to dub beats.  OPERA (QM.15) presents an additional illusion, with late soprano Maria Callas coming to life in a hologram as her voice reverberates hauntingly around the brutalist space. Other highlights include Bom Bom’s Dream which witnesses the twerking adventures of a Japanese dancehall champion and THANX 4 NOTHING, a spoken-word thank you speech from John Giorno in a captivating immersive video installation.

With such a diverse range of exceptional material, you’d be hard pushed not to be struck by at least one of the 10 visual masterpieces provided by The Infinite Mix. If not, exploring the maze of 180 The Strand with its exceptional views of the city makes it worth the visit.

The Infinite Mix runs until 4 December 2016 at The Store, 180 The Strand

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"Shining Rock" by Helidon Xhixha

Written by Daen Palma Huse

Photography by Ram Shergill

Helidon Xhixha, marble sculpture on the main square of Pietrasanta

Helidon Xhixha, marble sculpture on the main square of Pietrasanta

On the 11th June the Albanian-born artist and sculptor Helidon Xhixha opened an extraordinary exhibition in the Tuscan town of Pietrasanta, Italy, in collaboration with Contini Art UK and under the patronage of the Bozzetti Museum and the municipality of Pietrasanta.

The mayor Massimo Mallegni stressed the importance of Pietrasanta in terms of its marble quarries and supplying some of the finest marble to sculptors through the ages - such as Michelangelo. 

Helidon Xhixha has nourished a passion for Art since an early age. His apprenticeship started at the Academy of Arts in Tirana moving later to the Brera Art Academy of Milan before specialising in engraving and sculpting at Kingston University in London. 

Working across different European cultures, Helidon Xhixha has developed a unique signature: the stainless steel sculpture. Fascinated by this material, the artist is inspired by the idea of sculpting light and of capturing the colours and shapes of a specific environment. More recently he has gone back to sculpting marble.

His monumental words have been exhibited across Europe, the USA and UAE - one sight of which has been the 56th Venice Biennale.

Sculptures before unveiling on the main square of Pietrasanta

Sculptures before unveiling on the main square of Pietrasanta

Helidon Xhixha, Pietrasanta
Helidon Xhixha, marble sculpture on the square of Pietrasanta

Helidon Xhixha, marble sculpture on the square of Pietrasanta

Helidon Xhixha, Mirror polished stainless steel sculpture "Oceano", 2014

Helidon Xhixha, Mirror polished stainless steel sculpture "Oceano", 2014

Influenced by the great marble sculptures of Italian artists Michelangelo and Bernini, the artist experienced the fusion of the local marble with the stainless steel – mainly used in his previous works.

Keeping in mind his signature of distortion, the transition between the two materials brilliantly resulted in masterpieces reflecting both contemporary and antique influences.

Helidon’s inspiration for fusioning marble and steel also originates from the mythological protagonists whose mysterious legends still inspire many artists. Coping with reality and fantasy, the earth and the beyond, the exhibition of Helidon Xhixha is an alchemy of philosophical and scientific transformations.


Open from June to September 2016, the exhibition was curated by the renowned Italian art critic Luca Beatrice. The artworks of Helidon Xhixha are installed in several locations throughout the town of Pietrasanta such as Piazza del Duomo, Chiesa e Chiostro di Sant'Agostino, Pontile di Marina di Pietrasanta.

For more information visit Contini Art UK, 105 New Bond Street, W1S 1DN London

Helidon Xhixha, Pietrasanta
Helidon Xhixha, mirror polished stainless steel sculptures "Pillars of Light" in the church of Pietrasanta as previously exhibited at the 56th Vennice Biennale

Helidon Xhixha, mirror polished stainless steel sculptures "Pillars of Light" in the church of Pietrasanta as previously exhibited at the 56th Vennice Biennale

The Alchemist of Souls: Abraham Brody

Introduction by Gulnaz Can

Photography by Ram Shergill



Abraham Brody is a brave, beautiful human being. He sits quietly on a chair and invites you to sit opposite him. He looks at you, looks into you. He takes his violin, touches it, listens to it, tastes it without taking his eyes away from your eyes. It is not only a very intense and intimate moment that you are sharing with a musical performer and his instrument, but it is also probably the first moment in your life in which you are being invited to participate in this kind of unusual and sensual interaction. You almost become the notes, you are the inspiration that leads Abraham’s fingers and teeth to the strings of his violin. It is love, very instant but very profound. He plays what he sees in you, how you make him feel, how you change his mood.

In order to do this, he opens his body, his ears, his fingers and his eyes to you, and his heart leads this opening. It is almost impossible not to feel very emotional through this experience. Art has never been this full of passion or enlightenment.

For The Protagonist Magazine, Abraham performed in a specifically designed set for the first time and we filmed his performance. Performance art is very hard to capture on film but in so doing, the team and James Corbin as the cinematographer attempted to explore a new means of showcasing what Abraham does, adding a rich visual element to mirror his performance and feeling, as is shown in the images here. He describes his experience of the shoot as different to anything he has done so far.

Read the full interview in our print issue one available online on or in bookshops and on newsstands worldwide.



Abraham explains about his work:

 “Recently I have been working more with video, and researching the power of ancient cultures and rituals as a way to heighten my own and the public's awareness of ourselves and our inner worlds. For me it is also a deeper way to connect to my roots. Upcoming performances will be a collaboration with Underdogs Gallery Lisbon and a folk music research project in Belarus next month. I am very excited to share that in June I will have a solo show in New York at Sla307 Gallery where I will show my new video installation and performance 'Nourish'. Drawing on my Lithuanian roots, it addresses issues of globalisation, migration, and loss of tradition, showing relationship to land and sacred ancient sites in Lithuania."

We are looking forward to see Abraham in concert at Joe's Pub at the Public Theatre NYC in June. Shortly after that in July he is commissioned by Fabrika CCI Gallery in Moscow and will travel to Buryatia, Siberia, near Lake Baikal. On location he will create a new video and performance piece through working with Buryat shamans and their relationship to ancestors and nature. The work will then be presented in a two-week exhibition in Moscow in October 2016.



Abraham Brody started to play the violin when he was six years old, whilst growing up in New Hampshire, just outside of Boston. Since then he has received classical training in Boston and studied at the University for Music and Performing Arts in Vienna and in London. He created the performance “The Violinist Is Present” in an attempt to break out of the rigid format of classical performance on stage. This project was inspired by Marina Abramovic, who subsequently asked Abraham to take part in one of her own projects at the Fondation Beyeler in Basel, Switzerland.

Abraham has also performed in countless venues across Europe, the USA and Canada, including the Symphony Hall in Boston, Sziget Festival in Budapest, the Royal Festival Hall in London, the Moritzburg Festival in Germany, the Frauenkirche in Dresden, the Royal Opera House, Ronnie Scott’s Jazz Club and several times at the Barbican, where he was invited to complete a residency.


Venice as Inspiration

Art and writing by Daen Palma Huse

Daen Huse

The light reflects upon the water. Palazzi sinking into the water so it seems... The play of light is varied at different times of the day. Monet, for example, studied the same scene in changing light from his hotel window during his stay in Venice. He painted at different times of the day, giving his artwork a distinctive coloration and feel. Having studied the art and technique of great masters, I travelled to Venice some years ago and created many artworks myself. This is one example in which I used chalk pastels and vibrant colours to sketch a column of the Palazzo D'Oro. During my creative process, John Singer Sargent has been an essential inspiration, who spent a considerable time in Italy depicting architecture and street scenes - despite his greater success and having achieved fame through his portraiture.

Venice has been inspiration for many artists. It continues to be the host of Venice Biennale and The Venice International Film Festival, both to commence later this year.

Paper Lanterns in Winter

Artwork and Text by Emily Vanns

Emily Vanns

In Chinatown at night the sky looks inky black against multicoloured fluorescent lights. Paper lanterns in bright shades swing softly, casting shadows behind each passerby. The shadows mingle with the dirt of daily life, softening it to painted smudges, distilling the piles of discarded newspapers, coffee cups and waste. Crowds disappear down muddled streets and congregate with friends. Lives discussed over bottles of beer or delicate cups of loose leaf tea. Clouded breath mixing with the heady scents of cigarette smoke, cooked meats and vegetables. Another microcosm nestled amongst the busy throng of London life.



About the artist

Emily Vanns is a fine artist living and working in London. She graduated from Kingston University in 2014 and has since completed an intensive course at the Royal Drawing School in Shoreditch. Emily has had work in a number of group shows and has recently been shortlisted for the Ruskin Drawing Prize 2015.



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Mother Nature – Fashion Deity?

Written and Illustrated by Alexandre J. Barre


"...And did those feet in ancient time walk upon England's mountains green?"


I live in Balham in the southern part on London's urban sprawl - hardly the verdant pastures of Blake's utopia - so what's the draw of Mother Nature?

The experts tell us that we are all drawn inexorably to our human roots, and indeed, even modern city life seems to reflect this fact. Classical and neo-classical architecture has columns that represent bundles of Egyptian marshland reeds. Wood and stone are still the backbone of living interiors despite it being the age of concrete and glass. Our social groupings continue to centre around family and tribal structures. We eat food not that different from our ancient forefathers even if they are wrapped in luridly colored plastics and foils.

So it is with fashion. In every age we clothe ourselves in fires of cotton and wool and remain shod in leather. Jewellery is dominated by gold and gemstones drawn from the earth, despite being polished and faceted. 

But it is the way we like to present ourselves overall that still draws our tastes to nature's inspiration. The flowing train of a dress like majestic waterfalls or the spreading roots of great forest trees. Patterns or prints on fabrics are frequently flowers or designs that flow like trailing ivy or glimmer and glisten as the morning frosts. 

So my simple pencil drawing of Mother Nature itself draws me - a great fecund cloak of the seasons and all the aspects I still see in my garden or the London parks - the leaves, blooms and fruits balanced and flowing into the ultimate organic haute couture.


Alexandre J. Barre is a freelance artist and illustrator.