2000 Years Through The Walls : Catrin Huber in Pompeii and Herculaneum

Written by Gülnaz Can

 18 Installation Expamnded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

18 Installation Expamnded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

Visitors to the ancient Roman cities of Herculaneum and Pompeii are meeting a surprise contemporary intervention. After a lengthy process of research and artistic creation, two houses in these cities, which are part of UNESCO World Heritage Sites, are now venues for the exhibition Expanded Interiors by Catrin Huber.

 

Huber, a German artist based in Newcastle, has always been inspired by Roman wall paintings. Her works have explored the visual illusions and fictional spaces created by artists from 2000 years ago. Huber is thrilled to finally be making works, which are site-specific and installed alongside these very inspirations of hers.

 Installation Expanded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

Installation Expanded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

 Installations Expanded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

Installations Expanded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

 

The exhibition in the House of the Cryptoporticus in Pompeii opened in July and the House of the Beautiful Courtyard in Herculaneum opened in May 2018. The two exhibitions, which together make Expanded Interiors make very different responses to and use of their spectacular venues.

 

It all started in 2008, when Huber came to Rome as a fellow. “I was totally blown away, how fresh the wall paintings in Rome were. My works had also dealt with similar issues, how fictional architectural spaces could be. That’s when I started really looking at the works in Roman buildings and making works in response to these. I’ve made contemporary work, but thinking about the complexity of the Roman wall paintings. What can they mean in a contemporary context.” In 2017 she got the funding and the team to start the AHRC supported project in these two houses.

 

 Installations Expanded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

Installations Expanded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

Huber stresses that both of the venues are unusual houses with their architectural idiosyncrasies like the passageway in the Pompeii house and the big reception room in the house in Herculaneum. For the Herculaneum exhibition, she looked into the storerooms finding objects to explore what the wall decorations would relate to the moveable objects. Huber created her own selection for this exhibition, which is made of objects not normally shown. She worked with a team of archaeologists, research associates and experts in digital scanning.

 

“I tried to listen to the stories of the objects and assess their impact in this day. The house was used as a museum since 1956. Its founder brought objects from everywhere into this house. What caught my attention was typical to Herculaneum, the wooden female statues. Looking at them, doing the scanning, and talking to the archaeologists, I realised that I was very much interested in these statues. For me, there is almost a tension about them. Being anonymous, it is not quite clear what they are: are they furniture or ancestor statues?”

 Detail Installation Expanded Interiors - photo Amedeo Benestante

Detail Installation Expanded Interiors - photo Amedeo Benestante

 Casa del Criptoportico, Scanning of Roman objects at Parco Archeologico di Ercolano, Courtesy of Parco Archeologico di Pompei and Expanded Interiors

Casa del Criptoportico, Scanning of Roman objects at Parco Archeologico di Ercolano, Courtesy of Parco Archeologico di Pompei and Expanded Interiors

 

Visitors to the house in Herculaneum arrive at the reception room to find an installation of scanned objects from the storerooms, arranged in a dramatic way, using a Roman trick. There are letters which go with the objects. Huber says that Roman wall paintings often have hidden messages and she tried to build that into this installation. “The works of Roman wall paintings are quite political. They sometimes have messages by the householder. I sometimes think that the artists or the craftspeople played tricks that even the householders were not aware of. The message I put here is quite hidden, but in one way it’s obvious for the attentive viewer. The letters say ‘Bella Ciao’, which is the name of an Italian resistance song. I thought that it ties in with the predominantly female representations in the exhibition.”

 

 Scanning of Roman objects at Parco Archeologico di Ercolano, Courtesy of Parco Archeaologico di Ercolano and Expanded Interiors

Scanning of Roman objects at Parco Archeologico di Ercolano, Courtesy of Parco Archeaologico di Ercolano and Expanded Interiors

 Detail Installation Expanded Interiors - photo Amedeo Benestante

Detail Installation Expanded Interiors - photo Amedeo Benestante

Two of the statues are depictions of Livia, the wife of Augustus, and Isis Lactans, the Egyptian Godess. “These are both very powerful women. A fine thinly lined silver statue, Livia’s is almost propaganda representation. Then the statue is so damaged by what happened to it; I think there is such an incredible vulnerability. Despite all the damage, it is such a powerful and strong portrait.

In the House of the Cryptoporticus in Pompeii, Huber designed and installed wall paintings on the patches and walls where real Roman mosaics are now absent.

 

 Casa del Criptoportico, Courtesy of Parco Archeologico di Pompei and Expanded Interiors

Casa del Criptoportico, Courtesy of Parco Archeologico di Pompei and Expanded Interiors

“For me this fictional and actual architecture talks about what’s beyond. Wall paintings can be seen as metaphysical passages, referring to the dead ancestors. They clearly play with the physical presence and non-presence. Because most of them were composed in a way that makes you feel that you are in them. If one spends time with them they are very complex visual things. But of course, I am seeing these things from my perspective from the 21st century, with the liberty of being an artist.”

 

 Detail expanded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

Detail expanded Interiors at Pompeii - photo Amedeo Benestante

Standing next to the old and new wall paintings in the house in Pompeii must give the visitors an unavoidable new vision of the space they are in. Huber says that in Roman architecture, the artist workshops worked wonderfully with the light changes, and colour differences from one room to the other. She describes her work as being quite cool in atmosphere but also kind of really intense. A room at the end is intensely red and warm; the big installations might feel overwhelming to some.

 

“I am interested in colour but with Romans, the meaning of colours is very interesting. They didn’t have the word black; they talked more about the surface quality. These wall paintings had a function. Householders would walk with their friends, socialize, talk about various topics, etc.; then go to the bath which had sort of illusionistic paintings, and they would stay there longer. So the installation would have a rhythm. I believe that Romans knew how perspective worked, but used the perspective to suit the situation and match different view points together to fit the space, and I was very interested in that.”

 

Huber’s walls look like they come towards you although they are completely flat. On one, there are some objects too, and they are quite hidden. The objects are 3D prints of Roman pottery, like faces on cups, facemasks or oil lamps. They are funny and beautiful.

 

 Detail Installation Expanded Interiors - photo Amedeo Benestante

Detail Installation Expanded Interiors - photo Amedeo Benestante

Expanded Interiors will be open until 15 January 2019. Huber says that the subject for her will continue, of how to bring together different visual languages. “On the one hand Roman walls are very immersive. On the other, they have a lot of things they keep at a distance. As a viewer, you’ve been given this space: Distance and closeness.” Both of the exhibitions are amazing opportunities to look differently at such popular touristic sites for a highly international audience. Letting oneself go within the tricks and magic of the spaces, which have all of the glory and tragedy they have witnessed evident. They are also sites to see how the artistic dialogue still continues through thousands of years.

Beautiful World, Where Are You? – The Liverpool Biennale exhibition at Tate Liverpool

Written by Anna Beketov

 Brian Jungen,ˇWarrior 1, 3 and 4, 2017

Brian Jungen,ˇWarrior 1, 3 and 4, 2017

One of art’s greatest powers is its ability to open windows into lives far removed from our own. It can give insights into exotic worlds with unfamiliar notions and ideological structures and yet convey a reassuring sense of unity with humankind. The new exhibition at Tate Liverpool, part of the anniversary biennale, provides such a window, in this case into the lives of less-exhibited contemporary indigenous artists of Australia and Canada.

While there are stipulations about the grouping together of artists from different settler societies, based purely on cultural, and not geographical background, the exhibition offers an insightful overview of the brilliance of these non-western canonical artists.

An overarching theme of the biennial is the relationship between Liverpool’s own history, and colonial past, and a consciousness of the surrounding world. It loosely addresses the migrant crisis, and through the diversity of the artists exhibited, makes known its support for a globalised world.

The first two installations in the exhibition utilise traditional methods of production but modern materials. The striking work of Brian Jungen directly addresses colonialism with grand headdresses of the type seen in movies about the ‘wild west’ that on closer inspection, reveal ‘feathers’ created from torn segments of Nike trainers. It’s a clear demonstration of the effects of global consumerism on native communities.

 Kevin Beasley, Your face is is not enough, 2016

Kevin Beasley, Your face is is not enough, 2016

Kevin Beasley’s adjacent collection of sculptures uses repurposed NATO-issued gas masks  and megaphones placed within an abundance of feathers, beads, wires and fabric, to create haunting abstract masks that bear just enough resemblance to the human form to give them an uncanny aura.

 Artwork by Duane Linklater

Artwork by Duane Linklater

The macabre feeling is not lessened in the following room, which houses the work of Duane Linklater. Animal pelts are carefully draped from clothes rails to resemble living creatures. The invisible presence of the artist, who is of indigenous Canadian ancestry, transforms our vision of simple hanging furs into animals whose magical spirit remains intact, thus conforming to spiritual beliefs from the artist’s community.  On one rail, two foxes appear to touch faces, intimacy enhanced by the title ‘Kiss’. Another hangs next to a bag labelled ‘Wild fur/ Handle with care’, a nod to the idea that the soul of the animal survives. The works highlight the different takes on the politics of the hunting trade, the necessity of killing animals for survival in certain cultures, and how these beliefs diminish other concerns.

Dale Harding’s on-site wall mural similarly uses techniques traditionally used by his antecedents, in this case the Bidjara, Ghungalu and Garingbal peoples of Central Queensland, Australia. Stories about Liverpool, of industry and colonization, are realised in a vibrant UK-produced ultramarine pigment.

 Annie Pootoogook, Eating Seal at Home, 2001

Annie Pootoogook, Eating Seal at Home, 2001

Drawings by another artist,  Annie Pootoogook, are perhaps the most poignant given her mysterious and premature death in 2016. Her works at first appear vibrant and playful, in their colourful cartoon-like depictions of every-day Inuit life in her community of Kinngait, but on closer inspection we are faced with the tragic struggles that she experienced, from lack of resources, to domestic abuse and alcoholism. Nevertheless while the drawings do have some melancholic undertones, there is also humour and light.

www.biennial.com – until 28th October 2018

Out of the Box: Between Photos, Paintings and Prosthetics

Written by Dr Birgitta Huse

 Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

Frida Kahlo with Olmec figurine, 1939. Photograph Nickolas Muray. © Nickolas Muray Photo Archives

Do you also posess a nicely adorned haberdashery box with threads, needles and buttons that you use for repairing clothes? This personal box often is connected with dear memories, as it might have already been used by ones mother or grandmother. Maybe you have experienced special moments with your grandmother while she did some needlework?

When having a look at the wooden sewing box with velvet, silk, leather and paint of Frida Kahlo shown at the Victoria and Albert Museum exhibition in London, we might imagine how some of those intimate moments would have felt together with this famous Mexican artist at her home, the Casa Azul (Blue House) in Mexico City in the first decades of the 20th century. Would we have heard her talking about her feelings for her husband Diego Rivera? Or about the love affairs she had? Maybe she would have told us about her views on life. Personal stories about her journeys to the USA and Paris would have been very interesting, too. Maybe her friends and family would have been a focus, or perhaps her love for gardening and animals? What about simply imagining a chat with Frida about fashion and her beauty products and dresses? The pieces shown in “Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up” until the 4th of November 2018 inspire our phantasy with regards to such a conversation.

 Exhibition view, Victoria & Albert Museum, photograph by Birgitta Huse

Exhibition view, Victoria & Albert Museum, photograph by Birgitta Huse

In the year 2004, Frida’s bathroom that was sealed following the instructions of her husband Diego Rivera after her death at 47 years of age, was opened. 50 years long, this treasure of 6000 photographs, 22.000 documents as well as around 300 personal items was locked up in the Casa Azul. Now a selection of her clothes and intimate possessions like her prosthetic leg, cosmetics, letters and jewellery, some of them never been shown before, is displayed together with key self-portraits and photographs, a union offering “a fresh perspective on her compelling life story”, according to the Victoria and Albert Museum. Photos taken by Frida Kahlo herself and her father Guillermo as well as by photographers like Tina Modotti, Nickolas Muray, Manuel Álvarez Bravo, Héctor García, Leo Matiz and Edward Weston present themselves as an album to us. Somehow the exhibited objects come alive through them. We can see how they looked like when worn and used, and also how Frida combined the pieces of clothing for different occasions. The photos taken by Leo Matiz, for example, actually look like fashion photography: They capture the diversity of Kahlo’s wardrobe and show her standing near a tree or posing in front of a wall with her hand raised to her face or sitting near a furniture that serves as a base for her arm. Especially if we have been to Mexico we can imagine how the recorded moments must have felt like: the smell of certain plants, the canals in Xochimilco and food, tortillas for example, that are freshly prepared for the meals, the warm sun on the volcanic stones, the sound of crinkly skirts... We have the chance of getting more familiar not only with Frida but also with Frida Kahlo’s family and friends while strolling through the exhibition rooms. It is like meeting someone in person that you have not met before. Except that here we are offered intimate documents and objects of daily use and we can have a look at them as long as we wish, a situation we would not usually find ourselves in with people we know and less so when meeting them for the first time.

Frida Kahlo was very interested in clothes as a means of forming and expressing her identity. Her family background is quite a typical one for Mexico, her mother being of indigenous and Spanish origin (so called mestizo) and her father being German.  She was familiar with various styling possibilities of which to choose, namely indigenous, mestizo and European, and she made the most of it. She is internationally known for her paintings, especially her self-portraits in which she regularly presented herself in colourful, exotic Mexican dress. Her favourite garments were the Tehuana clothes, meaning the ones from the region of the Isthmus de Tehuantepec in the southern Mexican state called Oaxaca. The basic elements of this regional outfit until today are a huipil (blouse-like tunic) and a skirt on a waistband with a wide flounce. Following different fashions and individual taste also Kahlo created her own clothes in terms of colours, embroidery motifs and styles and fabric used.

 Exhibition view, Victoria & Albert Museum, photograph by Birgitta Huse

Exhibition view, Victoria & Albert Museum, photograph by Birgitta Huse

As a creative, Kahlo naturally invented something completely new: she mixed traditional garments from different regions with each other. A very good example is one of the exhibition highlights: she wore a Guatemalan cotton coat together with a huipil from the indigenous group of the Mazatec inhabiting the Sierra Mazateca in the state of Oaxaca. The coat itself is very special as it is made out of two huipiles together and cut down the middle. A black floor-length black skirt completes this outfit. Surprisingly Kahlo also combined chinese garments she found while travelling to the USA with Mexican huipiles.

 Exhibition view, Victoria & Albert Museum, photograph by Birgitta Huse

Exhibition view, Victoria & Albert Museum, photograph by Birgitta Huse

How often she used her sewing box in order to diversify her garments, adding some new details or making short huipiles longer by adding a section of cloth at the bottom for example, we do not know. The 22 outfits presented to us in the exhibition together with detailed explanations inspire us to think about Frida designing her garments and doing needlework – just as she painted her plaster corset in an individual way or had boots made of luxurious red leather decorated with bows and pieces of silk with Chinese dragon embroidery for her prosthetic leg.

 Prosthetic leg with leather boot. Appliquéd silk with embroidered Chinese motifs. Photograph Javier Hinojosa. Museo Frida Kahlo. © Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Archives

Prosthetic leg with leather boot. Appliquéd silk with embroidered Chinese motifs. Photograph Javier Hinojosa. Museo Frida Kahlo. © Diego Riviera and Frida Kahlo Archives

Together with perfume flacons, lipsticks and nail varnish of well known brands in reach of our hands in thematically concerted display cabinets, not to forget the varied photo and also film material presented to us, visiting this exhibition feels like getting to know stories – out of the box. Frida’s box…and some of the stories even told to us by herself.

 

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up

Sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland

16 June – 4 November 2018

www.vam.ac.uk/FridaKahlo

 

www.birgittahuse.com

Stories of Many Different Mornings: Another Kind of Life at The Barbican

written by Gülnaz Can

 Walter Pfeiffer, Untitled from Carlo Joh, 1973, Fotomuseum Winterthur

Walter Pfeiffer, Untitled from Carlo Joh, 1973, Fotomuseum Winterthur

“Every morning, even before I open my eyes, I know I am in my bedroom and my bed. But… sometimes I wake up with a feeling of childish amazement: why am I myself? What astonishes me… is the fact of finding myself here, and at this moment, deep in this life not in any other. What stroke of chance has brought this about?”  

I think about these words by Simone de Beauvoir when I walk through the exhibition in the Barbican Art Gallery, “Another Kind of Life: Photography on the Margins”. People wake up every morning into their lives as de Beauvoir says, and some mornings, some of them dare to be childish enough to blend into other people’s colours and voices. These people live with them or make them comfortable enough to be in front of the camera and have their pictures taken. Do they do this to experience other people’s mornings and to feel like they are living in another life?    

 Seiji Kurata, from Flash Up 1975-79, Mark Pearson, Zen Foto Gallery

Seiji Kurata, from Flash Up 1975-79, Mark Pearson, Zen Foto Gallery

What a passage of other lives we walk though in the Barbican’s Art Gallery; These lives are from Tokyo, Paris, Hull, Chicago, New York, Ciudad Juarez… They are of nameless cross-dressers’ Christmas parties, staged weddings between homeless people in deprived towns of Russia, Tokyo’s sex workers and gangsters, Seattle’s street children, Soviet Russia’s flower children rising through brutal constructions, sitting on heavy machinery, the Teds in a pub on the Old Kent Road of South London… The people are from minorities of all kinds, of disenfranchised communities, LGBTQs, outlaws, romantic rebels, survivalists, the economically disadvantaged, those openly flouting social convention… They are the subjects of 300 images in the exhibition from 1950 to today.  

The exhibition aims to reflect on the dialogue between art, society, politics, and the artists directly addressing difficult questions about what it means to exist on the margins. One interesting question the exhibition asks is about the proximity to subjects and being an insider or outsider as the photographer, and exploring their role in portraying those subcultures. For many artists, lives of others have been the life worth photographing, worth listening to, writing about, befriending, observing for decades. Diane Arbus, one of the featured photographers, once said: “Freaks was a thing I photographed a lot. It was one of the first things I photographed and it had a terrific kind of excitement for me. I just used to adore them.  I still do adore some of them. I don’t mean they’re my best friends but they made me feel a mixture of shame and awe.”  

 Daido Moriyama, from Japan Photo Theater, Michael Hoppen Gallery

Daido Moriyama, from Japan Photo Theater, Michael Hoppen Gallery

Arbus almost always photographed complete strangers; we never know their names, although their pictures appear like intimate portraits. Daido Moriyama took pictures of people we only know by their labels as ‘gangsters’ or ‘couples in the park’. In his photography, people sometimes appear as the subjects of abstract extreme close up images. Larry Clark photographed his school friends. He was authenticated by this relationship, but some of the rest like Jim Goldberg needed to spend at least 30 years with their subjects. In his corner, you meet a self-claimed rock star Tweeky Dave and recent runaway Echo. Goldberg followed the couple and their lives with extreme highs and lows for 30 years and became friends with them. Still, his video of sitting in McDonalds with Tweeky Dave, having got him a burger, then placing the camera in front of him, asking questions like “Are you happy?” or “Are you missing Echo?” doesn’t feel very friendly for some reason.  

The photographers, who tried to achieve authenticity, perhaps were trying to blur the line between this and another, between here and there, between now and then. The exhibition dares the audience to wake up into their lives then go to see some other people’s mornings, days, lives... As the title of the exhibition suggests, to see the “Photography on the Margins” through the lenses of many great photographers.   

The exhibition can be seen at The Barbican until 27th May.

 Philippe Chancel, Untitled 1982, from Rebel's Paris, Melanie Rio Fluency France

Philippe Chancel, Untitled 1982, from Rebel's Paris, Melanie Rio Fluency France

The Arts Foundation 25th Anniversary Awards with support by David Collins Foundation

Written by Gülnaz Can

 Maisie Broadhead, "Peepers"

Maisie Broadhead, "Peepers"

This year the Arts Foundation celebrates its 25th anniversary by shortlisting 25 artists for their prestigious awards. Five will be selected to receive the £10,000 fellowship with the runners up each receiving £1,000. The winners will be announced at a special party to celebrate the Foundation, its Fellows and supporters in February.

Since its establishment in 1992, the foundation has supported artists from the fields of Performing and Visual Arts, Crafts, Literature, New Media, Film and Design. The list of the shortlisted 25 artists is a wonderful celebration of art, and artists’ individual stories from a great variety of fields.

Scrolling through this list brings up new names and discoveries for any audience, made up as it is of artists, honoured by nomination by their fellow artists. From a theatre actress to a photographer, or an experimental musician, or a literary translator… The artists have been nominated by the Foundation’s current fellows, and the 2018 judging panel have shortlisted the artists from these. The final selection will focus on the turning points of these artists’ careers. As well as acknowledging the successes on their journey so far, it emphasizes the potential change the award could help to make in their artistic practice, possibly overcoming some challenges they might be having. It is in a way the award of and for the future.

Jochen Holz, who is amongst the shortlisted 25 artists praised the aim and ambition behind the award and said that the support is there when artist really needs it. Holz has been exploring a particular form of glass blowing for about 20 years. He says that his technique is rarely used creatively and stresses the potential which will come through more experimenting, creating a body of work which would show some entirely new sides to what he does. 

Another shortlisted artist, Maeve Brennan, who creates moving image and installations, investigates through her work the political and historical resonance of materials and places. Brennan said “The support the Foundation provides is completely unique, with the fellowship which allows experimental research without the pressure of producing a specific outcome. As an artist who finds value in slowness, it is rare to find support of this kind.” She plans to go to Lebanon, where she lived from 2013 to 2016, for research towards a new body of work.

The selection process, where the current fellows nominate the longlist of artists, supports the creation of an artists’ community. Maisie Broadhead mentions that she felt very special being nominated by Lin Cheung, whose work she has admired for a very long time and who it turns out she nervously interviewed for her BA dissertation back in 2001. Broadhead has a craft-making background, but also often uses photography. In her works photography and three dimensional objects, such as ornate framing, glass, metalwork or jewels, meet. Broadhead is in the early stages of researching for a new show in October at the Manchester Art Gallery, and will focus on doing work in response to their collection. 

The awards are given with the significant support of The David Collins Foundation with two £10,000 fellowships and eight shortlisted artists who will each receive £1,000. Iain Watson, CEO and Founder of David Collins Studio said “The shortlist highlights the innovation of new and emerging creatives across a broad spectrum of art forms. We look forward to a very special awards evening to mark this significant year for The Foundation, and the valuable contribution they offer through their fellowship program.”

 Maisie Broadhead photographed by Matthew Andrews

Maisie Broadhead photographed by Matthew Andrews

 Maisie Broadhead, "Purity"

Maisie Broadhead, "Purity"

Maisie Broadhead

How do you feel about being shortlisted? 

It’s really great, I have been introduced to the work of other artists who I was not aware of before and I am looking forward to meeting some of them at the awards. 

Any thoughts about the person who nominated you? 

It felt very special being nominate by Lin Cheung. I have admired her work for a very long time (I nervously interview her for my BA dissertation back in 2001!), I think she in and incredible artist and maker. 

Any thoughts about other nominees? 

I know Phoebe Cummings well, as we studied together a long time ago and I think she is doing such amazing beautiful work at the moment and it is wonderful to see her up there too.

Thoughts on the Arts Foundation?

I knew little about the Art Foundation before I was nominated but now I know what it supports I think it is very positive.  It is hard for artists to make big financial investment in a body of work and the type of money that is being given can be hugely impactful on a single practice.

Where do you see this nomination in relation to your career trajectory? 

It feels that it has come at a time when I finally have enough work under my belt.

Can you describe your body of work very briefly? 

I trained with a craft/making background, however I am still very much drawn to using photography as a medium, and I am particularly interested in the point where photography and three dimensional objects meet. 

Often my works are centred on a photographic print that is the result of a laboured studio photo-shoot process involving detailed set, wardrobe and lighting design. Commonly these photographic prints are then combined, adorned, or exhibited side by side with three-dimensional materials, for example; ornate framing, glass, metalwork or jewels. The final works are sculptural, three-dimensional experiences.

I create images, scenes, and objects with narratives using family and friends as my muses. These explore both personal histories, and themes from art-history. I am also particularly pre-occupied by notions of value, illusion and what might be considered to be fake.

What projects are you working on at the moment? 

I am at the beginning of researching for a new show in October at the Manchester Art Gallery, so I have been poking around in their archives recently as I am hoping to do some work in response to their collection. 

 

 Jochen Holz, "Neon Table Light"

Jochen Holz, "Neon Table Light"

 Jochen Holz, "Helium Neon Chandelier"

Jochen Holz, "Helium Neon Chandelier"

Jochen Holz

How do you feel about being shortlisted?

Well honoured, really.


Any thoughts about the person who nominated you? 

I feel grateful of course and also a bit lucky that he choose me..


Any thoughts about other nominees?

I would love Harold Offeh to get the prize, he is great at throwing a party.


Thoughts on the Arts Foundation?

I love the aim and ambition behind it and to give support when artist really need it.

Where do you see this nomination in relation to your career trajectory?

Not sure yet, but it can only be positive.

 Jochen Holz, photograph Matthew Thompson

Jochen Holz, photograph Matthew Thompson

 Jochen Holz, "Side Handle Colour Jugs", detail

Jochen Holz, "Side Handle Colour Jugs", detail

Do you have a specific project in mind?

To free myself up for more experimenting and to create a body of work which would show some entirely new sides to what I do.


Can you describe your body of work very briefly?

I am exploring a particular form of glass blowing for about 20 years now. The technique I am using is rarely used creatively and still has loads of potential, part of this is how you approach a craft and in lampworking it either comes from a technical, laboratory perspective or a very hippie, bead and pipe making aesthetic. I am trying to explore the middle ground and to look at glass organically, but with a critical eye. I think I work more like a potter than a glassblower in some ways.

What projects are you working on at the moment?

There is a exhibition with the theme of 'Vanitas Art' opening next month, which is part of a week of experimental food design in Venice. In May I am showing at Flow Gallery during London Craft Week and also a bigger display of my work with neon is opening in May in the A plus A Gallery in Venice. 

 Maeve Brennan, "The Drift 2k JM Graded Stills 07"

Maeve Brennan, "The Drift 2k JM Graded Stills 07"

 Maeve Brennan, "The Drift 2k JM Graded Stills 06"

Maeve Brennan, "The Drift 2k JM Graded Stills 06"

Maeve Brennan

How do you feel about being shortlisted?

Incredibly excited – it’s really special to be a part of the 25th Anniversary Awards.


Any thoughts about the person who nominated you? 

Ruth Ewan has been very supportive, ever since I met her during my BA at Goldsmiths. She is a brilliant artist whose practice I admire a lot – it is politically engaged, subtle and sensitive.


Any thoughts about other nominees? 

They’re a great group, I feel lucky to be amongst them!


Thoughts on the Arts Foundation?

The support they provide is completely unique. The fellowship provides the space and time to develop new and experimental research without the pressure of producing a specific outcome. As an artist who finds value in slowness, it is rare to find support of this kind.


What will you use the award for if you get it? Do you have a specific project in mind?

I will have just completed a new film in April (for the Jerwood/FVU Award 2018) so I am hoping to take some time to carry out research for a new body of work that I hope will involve a return to Lebanon (where I lived from 2013-16).


Can you describe your body of work very briefly? 

My work investigates the political and historical resonance of materials and places, mainly ending up as moving image and installation. Led by a documentary approach, I seek out proximity and intimacy with my subjects and this drives the content for each work.


What projects are you working on at the moment?

As I write this, I am on my way to the International Film Festival Rotterdam, where my film The Drift is nominated for the Ammodo Tiger Shorts Award  which is exciting! The Drift will also be in Tokyo as part of Yebisu International Festival for Art & Alternative Visions at Tokyo Photographic Art Museum and in Jeddah as part of Refusing to Be Still (Fifth edition of 21,39) curated by Vassilis Oikonomopoulos, both in February. I am also right in the middle of editing my new film Listening in the Dark commissioned for the Jerwood/FVU Award 2018 which will open at Jerwood Space, London on April 6th.

 Maeve Brennan photographed by Amy Gwatkin

Maeve Brennan photographed by Amy Gwatkin

 Maeve Brennan at Chisenhale Gallery, photography by Andy Keate

Maeve Brennan at Chisenhale Gallery, photography by Andy Keate

Discovering Grey

Written by Gülnaz Can

 Hendrik Goltzius, Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus Would Freeze, 1599, Chalk, ink and oil on paper, 43.5 × 32.1 cm, The British Museum, London © The Trustees of The British Museum

Hendrik Goltzius, Without Ceres and Bacchus, Venus Would Freeze, 1599, Chalk, ink and oil on paper, 43.5 × 32.1 cm, The British Museum, London © The Trustees of The British Museum

People with monochromatic vision can see no colour at all and their world consists of different shades of grey ranging from black to white, rather like only seeing the world on an old black and white television set. Additionally, the image would usually be very blurry in brighter light (in the brightest light, effectively invisible) but would be less blurry at very low lighting levels.” This is Google on Monochromacy (achromatopsia). Going through the 8 rooms of “Monochrome: Painting in Black and White” makes you experience a fair amount of monochromacy and enjoy the opportunities of a limited colour palette. It is an empathetic point, where the exhibition ends, where it is not possible to see a colour with the naked eye.

Going back to the beginning; London’s National Gallery hosts the first large exhibition on black and white painting, which covers some of the finest artworks from seven centuries. It is about “seeing differently”, this phrase as its slogan is on every piece of literature about the exhibition. Looking at black and white opens you up to one other colour (or perhaps I should say ‘sensation’), namely to grey, so many different shades of grey. Looking at black and white makes you notice how interesting grey actually is. 

Every room in the exhibition is created to present a different aspect of painting in black and white, also known as grisaille. These aspects vary from supporting monastic discipline, making a shift from the colourful earthliness, to very functional intentions such as creating a resource material, to abstraction.

 Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and workshop, Odalisque in Grisaille, about 1824-34, Oil on canvas, 83.2 × 109.2 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1938, 38.65, © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Florence

Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and workshop, Odalisque in Grisaille, about 1824-34, Oil on canvas, 83.2 × 109.2 cm, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Catharine Lorillard Wolfe Collection, Wolfe Fund, 1938, 38.65, © The Metropolitan Museum of Art / Art Resource / Scala, Florence

It is about looking, but also about being invited to look in a specific way. Ingres’ “Odalisque in Grisaille”, which he made some years after the infamous “Grande Odalisque”, is a central piece of the exhibition. Ingres decided to remake his Odalisque figure and this time left his colours out of the painting. This version has fewer details on textiles; the headscarf or curtains don’t have Eastern patterns on them; the space is less defined. In this dreamy composition, the sense of the skin, smoothness and reality of it is although remarkable here, it is disturbed by the distance in the subject’s expression. This dream-like depiction of a less realistic odalisque perhaps makes the fantasy of “harem” a bit more realistic as a Western artistic phenomenon. Or one could read this painting as a more personal account on the desire the artist had towards this unattainable fantasy. Regardless of what had been taken away from the painting, colours or details of composition, the painting stands as another example of its creator’s mastership and feels like a closer look into his desires.

In another example, I see that the artist’s aim had been to create a more sincere representation of their subject and invite us to more of a realistic look, if not to their subject, then to inside their heads. Giacometti’s “Anette Seated” is described as “representing something more universal than an individual likeness; it addresses the entirely subjective nature of seeing and experience”. Giacometti is famously known for his own artistic account of the people around him, expressing his interest in seeing the other’s inner self and painting or sculpting it.

 Alberto Giacometti, Annette Seated, 1957, Oil on canvas, 100.9 × 61.5 cm, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf © The Estate of Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti, Paris and ADAGP, Paris), licensed in the UK by ACS and DACS, London 2017. Photo: bpk / Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf / Walter Klein

Alberto Giacometti, Annette Seated, 1957, Oil on canvas, 100.9 × 61.5 cm, Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf © The Estate of Alberto Giacometti (Fondation Giacometti, Paris and ADAGP, Paris), licensed in the UK by ACS and DACS, London 2017. Photo: bpk / Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Düsseldorf / Walter Klein

The curators of the exhibition Lelia Packer and Jennifer Sliwka mention different reasons for reducing the colour palette, but mainly as a way of focusing the viewers' attention on a particular subject, concept and technique. One room is dedicated to mimicking the appearance of stone sculpture in painting. This could be for decorative reasons, or for understanding how a sculpture would look under different types of light. Titian’s “Portait of a Lady” is an interesting example of this, where he depicts a woman holding a stone bust of herself, the woman and outfit painted in vibrant colours, the bust in black and white.

Imitating other techniques, such as print making and engraving, creates works which can have some remarkable illusory effects on the audience. A painting of a print of a painting, “Back from the Market” by Etienne Moulenneuf from 1770, with a broken glass effect, mesmerises and confuses people of our age.

 Etienne Moulinneuf after Jean-Siméon Chardin, Back from the Market (La Pourvoyeuse), about 1770, Oil on canvas, 46 × 37.9 cm, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, European Art Acquisition Fund, M.2007.24 © Museum Associates / LACMA

Etienne Moulinneuf after Jean-Siméon Chardin, Back from the Market (La Pourvoyeuse), about 1770, Oil on canvas, 46 × 37.9 cm, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, California, European Art Acquisition Fund, M.2007.24 © Museum Associates / LACMA

The exhibition tells the story of another type of illusion in the last 3 rooms. In the 20th and 21st centuries black and white painting is created in a very radically different environment, which was determined by the free floating mass media imagery. Its relationship with film, photography, broadcasting, public figures, political events has played an important role in painters’ fascination with this new ‘objectivity’, the change of source material and the emergence of abstraction perhaps by deconstruction of the source material.

Although the exhibition draws a non-chronological line to follow, but is more based on the intentions or searches of the artists in using no colours, this line finds a chronological logic towards the end of the exhibition. We end up in a warm orange lit room, ‘walking to the light’ as near death experienced people would describe it, unable not to walk to the light with some hunger for colour. This room has Olafur Eliasson’s “Room for one colour”, and as we walk in we appear to be made up of different shades of grey. In this exhibition I read so much about the humaneness of the creators of the works shown. Although some initially may have wanted to show off their techniques, the whole show tells me about the artists representing non-ideal, but more personal versions of the world as they see and experience it. When the colours are stripped, is there more to see about the challenges of artists, their desires, their aspirations, their fantasies, their ways of protest or their proposed narrative for a new world?

 Frank Stella, Tomlinson Court Park I, 1959, Matt black enamel paint on canvas, 220 x 280 cm, Museum Folkwang Essen © Frank Stella. ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017 / Photo: Museum Folkwang Essen / ARTOTHEK

Frank Stella, Tomlinson Court Park I, 1959, Matt black enamel paint on canvas, 220 x 280 cm, Museum Folkwang Essen © Frank Stella. ARS, NY and DACS, London 2017 / Photo: Museum Folkwang Essen / ARTOTHEK

Losing all the colours I had on me and around me in the Eliasson room made me feel empathetic, as if I became a subject in one of the works I had just seen. Finally everything and everyone we see turn into shades of grey and makes us achromatopsiacs for the time being. An ingenious ending to this very concise, not at all boring show... It is surprising, and it is certainly fun. Still, it was a relief to walk outside of the room, melting into a beautiful and colourful autumn day in London, knowing that I had witnessed a version of self with no colour at all and it was fine.

The exhibition can be seen in the National Gallery, Sainsbury Wing until 18 February 2018. And here is a further reading: The Island of the Colorblind by Oliver Sacks, if not the beautiful exhibition book.

 Célestin Joseph Blanc, Head of a Girl, 1867, Oil on panel, 26.7 × 21.6 cm © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Célestin Joseph Blanc, Head of a Girl, 1867, Oil on panel, 26.7 × 21.6 cm © Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Words in Sight

Written by Silvia Dember  

Photography by Gillian Hyland

 Eyes Shut, Gillian Hyland

Eyes Shut, Gillian Hyland

Globally renown Irish photographer Gillian Hyland stages highly stylized snapshots that voice psychologically compelling narratives. Bridging the realms of visual and written culture, Hyland’s photographs are based on her own poems, written over the past decade.

In her first self-published book, Words in Sight, Hyland will showcase her photographs alongside the poems that inspired them. Following in the contemporary wave of self-publishing, Hyland has launched a Kickstarter campaign to fund her new book. It aims to raise £12,500 by 30 October, offering donors rewards for different levels of support.

 UnforgivenEyes Shut, Gillian Hyland

UnforgivenEyes Shut, Gillian Hyland

Exploring instances of emotional distress and isolation, Hyland’s collection plays with notions of nostalgia to capture, in words and images alike, emotionally charged human dramas.

Words in Sight as a collection, displays stark colour contrast and saturation as well as theatrical mise-en-scènes. These are the result of the meticulous shot composition that is characteristic of Hyland’s work. Her early career as stylist and set designer clearly transpires through her attention to colour and setting. The composition of each individual shot, which may have taken up to three weeks to finalise, speaks to a larger narrative within a single moment. It is the very striking attention to detail that creates powerful symbolic imagery. Often alluding to complex domestic relationships, her work interrogates understandings of gender and vulnerability.

 The Road Less Travelled, Gillian Hyland

The Road Less Travelled, Gillian Hyland

 Cuba Series, Gillian Hyland

Cuba Series, Gillian Hyland

Aesthetically, verse and visual imagery come together to create a complex yet cohesive tale. The terse and poignant rhyming verses mirrors the brevity of the moments they describe; ephemeral, they are fragments frozen in time, suggestive of deeper and often darker truths. Aesthetically, their succinct yet rhetorically rich quality echo the nature of the photographs as mere glimpses into hidden worlds. The poetic style also speaks to Hyland’s interest in art and artifice, in carefully constructed facades and fragile, repressed interiorities.

Amongst Hyland’s most popular images are those resulting from her extensive travels in Cuba in 2016. Her work The Road Less Travelled, featured in Words in Sight, won the Sony Portrait Prize for Ireland. Hyland’s book is in fact as much an exploration of travel and voyeurism as it is one of human bonds. Moving through multiple locations, she delves into cultural and societal tropes, challenging preconceived notions through gripping emotional appeals.

 Night Owl, Gillian Hyland

Night Owl, Gillian Hyland

The Artificial Now: New Works by Carolina Mizrahi and Morgan Ward

Written by Anna Beketov

Daniel-Raphael-The-Artificial-Now-High-157 (1).jpg

Daniel Raphael Gallery presents The Artificial Now, a powerful and vibrant joint exhibition of new photographic works by renowned artist Carolina Mizrahi, alongside new paintings by abstract artist Morgan Ward.

Brazilian artist Mizrahi showcases celebrated retrospective works placing emphasis on her latest series, while Ward has created a series of new works specifically for the show. The complementary works are thematically linked through their use of colour and construction. The suggestiveness and manner in which both collections are fashioned further lends to the undercurrents of artificiality that runs throughout the show.

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To coincide with the release of her latest collection, The Farewell Party, acclaimed artist Carolina Mizrahi has created a series of striking and immersive installations that breathe additional life into these dark and sensual works. Mizrahi’s provocative series The Farewell Party is here translated into a sensory immersive experience, drawing the viewer into a heady, decadent feast of slowly decomposing fruit and carcasses. Mizrahi’s installation seeks to bring to light the power and resonance of female sexuality, providing a still life tableau reminiscent of the Old Masters, brought dramatically into the 21st century. Soft folds of rich fabric clash dramatically with harshly decaying carapaces of insects and sex toys, an evocative memento-mori and suggestive visualisation of la petite mort.  Through The Farewell Party, Mizrahi challenges conceptions of femininity, a sublimation of form and an examination of the role of women and sexuality in our modern world.

Daniel-Raphael-The-Artificial-Now-High-152.jpg

Founded by Daniel Levy in 2017, Daniel Raphael is a gallery dedicated to providing a platform for emerging and mid-career artists as well as those already established in the art world. Offering a fresh, young perspective on contemporary art, the gallery is a hub for interactive and thought provoking exhibitions that seek to inspire and capture the heart of the ever-changing art world.

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Artificial Now runs until 4th of October 2017.

Daniel Raphael Gallery
26 Church Street, London NW8 8EP

More info at www.danielraphael.co.uk

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 www.boutiquemags.com 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  thishappened.xyz  

all of the above images by thishappened.xyz 

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

For more information visit www.rachellibeskind.com and www.continiartuk.com

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

More information on www.theinfinitemix.com

"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
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 boutiquemags.com 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.

 

 

Visit www.emilyvanns.com for more information.

 

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.

www.ajbdraw.com