Saturday, 28 January 2012

No Lone Zone

This interesting exhibition in the Tate Modern's Level 2 Gallery features artists from Latin America. The gallery guide states that the title No Lone Zone is a military term for an area where no one should go into alone and is applied metaphorically to the places that these artists are depicting. One of the first things that struck me about this show was the contrast in my reactions to two of the artworks displayed. In Bandera ll (2009) (the middle flag below) by Teresa Margolles I initially noticed the colour and texture on the surface of the flag, but when I read that its covered in blood collected from execution sites in Mexico the artwork become quite macabre and gruesome however poignant the artists conveyed message may be. Whereas in David Zink Yi's Untitled (Architeuthis) (2010) (2nd and 3rd photos below) what appears to be a dead squid in a pool of its own 'blood' initially made me feel unsettled. Though it turns out to be an impressively realistic looking clay model in a pool of corn syrup, so its now more a feeling of acceptance and awe of the makers skill.

Bandera (Flag) ll (2009)
Teresa Margolles
(Fabric impregnated with blood collected from execution sites in Mexico).
(The middle flag above at the Exhibition view at the Mexican Pavilion, The Venice Biennale 2009).

Untitled (Architeuthis) (2010)
(Below, and Above with corn syrup as it is this exhibition)
David Zink Yi
(Burnted and glazed clay, corn syrup).

The video Leitmotiv (2011) (film stills below) sounds like soothing waves, but is actually a group of people (out of shot) keeping a pool of water swept with brooms in one spot. As the gallery guide states the artist Cinthia Marcelle wanted 'to prevent the tide from disappearing.'

Leitmotiv (2011)
Cinthia Marcelle
(stills from Video Projection)

The last room of the exhibition returns to work by Teresa Margolles. Ajuste de cuentas (2008) (larger picture below) is a small pile of shattered glass from shot car windscreens collected at the scene of revenge killings by drug dealers in the Sinaloa region of Mexico. Margolles then commissions for the gems in jewellery typically worn by the perpetrators to be replaced by fragments of this glass (bottom two pictures).

Ajuste de cuentas (Score Settling) (2008)
(10 carat gold including an inlay of pieces of broken glass)

A Bigger Picture

This David Hockney (RA) exhibition that recently opened at the Royal Academy focuses on the artists landscape work, primarily paintings of the countryside in his native Yorkshire. I like Hockney's use of strong colour to depict and sometimes exaggerate the difference between surfaces and changing seasons within the settings in his work. This exaggeration by this famous Royal Academician reminds me of some of the Fauvist paintings.

An example of this use of contrasting colours is in Winter Timber (2009). The bottom picture here shows Hockney working on the painting. As it includes him at work it is not surprising that this photo is used on the cover of the Gallery Guide for the exhibition.

Despite this I find his photocollages, such as Pearblossom Highway, 11-18 April 1986, No.1 (1st picture below), more interesting. This and two other artworks in Room 3 are made up of many individual photographs of slightly different sections of the landscape taken from the same standpoint and put together to recreate the scene.

Pearblossom Highway, 11-18 April 1986, No.1
(Photocollage. 119.4 x 163.8cm. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.)

As is the case with Winter Timber, A Closer Winter Tunnel, February - March, 2006 (below) is spread over several canvases, six in this case. Just like with the photocollages, I like it when these parts can both make a whole or perhaps could also work as individual artworks in their own right (if the canvases were hung seperately)? As is the case with these three works, Hockney's paintings in this show often have paths or roads in them that lead off into the distance and disappear on the horizon or off the edge of the painting. I like this use of perspective in the composition and it sometimes makes me wonder where they are leading.

A Closer Winter Tunnel, February - March, 2006
(Oil on 6 canvases, each 91.4 x 121.9cm. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney.)

Winter Timber (2009)

Monday, 16 January 2012

Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany

The current offering from the ever expanding collection of contemporary art collected by Charles Saatchi is the Gesamtkunstwerk: New Art from Germany exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery (until 30th April). As was arguably the case with the two previous shows that showcased Western art (American and British), the standard was again not as high as the three earlier exhibitions at the Saatchi's current Kings Road location that showed work from the East (Chinese, Middle Eastern and Indian). As Charles Saatchi has previously helped to launch the careers of the YBA generation and put on some great exhibitions in the process I dare not to suggest that he's lost his ability to unearth new talent and his gallery continues to be hugely popular, although I would look much further back in time for the last great exhibition by him. The County Hall (on the South Bank) was the gallery's home from 2003 to 2005 and hosted shows that were in my opinion far more thought-provoking, interesting and original than they are now. This only serves as another reminder of the shame it was when over 100 (British) artworks from this earlier collection were destroyed in the 2004 East London warehouse fire in Leyton.

Returning to the Gesamtkunstwerk exhibition, there were however some artworks (within the 14 rooms) that stood out for me:

Traum Der Sarazenin (The dream Saracen) (2007) Markus Selg
(Sublimation print on fabric)

I feel that these two prints by Markus Selg had more of an impact than his sculptures in this first room. The figure in the foreground in the Gauguin-esque Searching For Ruwenzori (below) looks like its in 3-D and almost coming out of the work.

Searching For Ruwenzori (2010) Markus Selg
(Sublimation print on fabric)

MLR (1992) Isa Genzken
(Lacquer on canvas)

The textural effect that Isa Genzken has created in these two paintings is arguably far more refined than her sculptures on display. Referring to the latter works the text in the Saatchi exhibition guide states: 'she takes an anything-goes approach to the materials she uses.'

MRL (1992) Isa Genzken
(Lacquer on MDF)

Untitled (2009) Gert & Uwe Tobias
(Woodcut on paper on canvas)

I like the (almost Miro-like) creatures in these two canvas' (above/below) by the twin brothers Gert & Uwe Tobias.

Untitled (2007) Gert & Uwe Tobias
(Coloured woodcut on papers mounted on canvas)

When initially glanced at from a distance only what looks like two eyes, a mouth and perhaps a pair of glasses were visible, but Jutta Koether's Mede (below) strikes me as one of those 'the more look - the more you find' paintings. The details, such as figures, emerge from the canvas as its stared at more closely.

Mede (1992) Jutta Koether
(Oil on canvas)

These three portraits (below), with the haunting eyes staring back at us, are part of Thomas Zipp's Schwarze Ballons (black balloons) installation.

part of Schwarze Ballons (2005) Thomas Zipp

Installed using scaffolding to hold it propped against a wall, the huge Sunset by Andro Wekua (below) consists of 170 glazed ceramic panels.

Sunset (2008) Andro Wekua
(Glazed ceramic panels, metal framework, steel scaffolding)

Pretentious Crap (2010-11) Zhivago Duncan
(Wood, glass & mixed media)

The wonderfully named Pretentious Crap (above and detail's in next two photos below) by Zhivago Duncan is enchanting, although it was a shame the 'train/vehicle' on the main track was not working on my visit.

Volker Hueller's Drei Halunken Und Ein Halleluja (Three scoundrels And A Hallelujah) (below) has a Cubist feel to the painting.

Drei Halunken Und Ein Halleluja (2009) Volker Hueller
(Mixed media on canvas)

Josephine Meckseper's cabinets filled with 'curiosities', such as The Complete History of Postcontemporary Art (below) reminds me of some the work of the artist Joseph Cornell. He collected and juxtaposed found objects in small, glass-fronted boxes. Both Meckseper's and Cornell's choice of objects are symbolic and probably surreal.

The Complete History of Postcontemporary Art (detail) (2005) Josephine Meckseper

I admire the way Dirk Bell utilises mixed media in these next three artworks:
The feeling of movement in Wolf Hamlet Madonna Elmex; Abgrund uses contrasting materials to great effect and I like the delicate finish in Rabbit's Moon.

Wolf Hamlet Madonna Elmex (2006) Dirk Bell
(Mixed media on canvas)

Abgrund (Abyss) (2008) Dirk Bell
(Mixed media)

Rabbit's Moon (2007) Dirk Bell
(Mixed media on canvas)

One artwork that did survive the move to Kings Road is the only permanent installation at the Saatchi Gallery. Richard Wilson's 20:50 (below) is a room thats flooded with recycled engine oil that creates great visual effects. Although worth seeing at least once it is a shame that visitors seem no longer able to walk down the gangway into the work, as that added a disorientating effect to the artwork and room.

20:50 (1987) Richard Wilson
(Used sump oil and steel)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

A walk for a walk's sake

"Drawing is an active line on a walk, moving freely, without goal. A walk for a walk's sake." This is how the artist Paul Klee was said to have once described the art of drawing, which is the theme for a small (one room) exhibition at the Courtauld Gallery. More specifically drawings by Spanish artists from the 16th to the 20th Century. The Spanish Line: Drawings from Ribera to Picasso uses work from the Courtauld's own impressive collection. My favourite works in the show are the two with possibly the greatest contrast between them:

Cantar y Bailar (Singing and Dancing)  (1819-20)  Francisco de Goya y Lucientes

Pigs (1906) Pablo Picasso

Although this exhibition is so small and its a shame there is not more of the same, its still worth looking around the Courtauld's great permanent collection whilst there anyway.

Monday, 9 January 2012

This Is Design one of the current exhibitions at the Design Museum.

These are my highlights...

A re-issue by Knoll International of Marcel Breuer's classic B3 (Wassily) Chair (1925):

Ceiling Light (2006) by Luc Merx:

Chandelier Spectacle (2006) by Stuart Haygarth:

This is made of many different NHS glasses and frames that Haygarth had collected.

In the photo below (from left to right): the iconic K6 Telephone Kiosk by Giles Gilbert Scott, a 1960's Savile Row suit by (the wonderfully named) Tommy Nutter,  a 1960's Mary Quant mini-dress and a scale model of the HSBC HQ (in Hong Kong) designed by Norman Foster and Partners (1979-86)

The aptly named Looksoflat prototype lamp (2010) by Stefan Geisbauer (that uses a thin LED light):

There is also a Terence Conran exhibition on the floor below that is worth visiting.

The Mystery of the Cathedrals

Il Mistero delle Cattedrali (The Mystery of the Cathedrals) is the latest in the White Cube gallery's exhibitions of the German artist Anselm Kiefer's work. On this occasion the show is held at the (relatively) new White Cube Bermondsey gallery (above), as opposed to the Hoxton Square and Masons Yard locations of Kiefer's show of Autumn 2009. This time there are nearly twice as many sculptures as paintings on display, such as Opus Magnum below.

Opus Magnum (2010)

In this work it looks as though the 'snake' has wriggled its way out of or through the base, with curved and straight snake-shaped indentations in it (on the front and back respectively) as if it left its mark on the material.

Fulcanelli finis gloriae mundi (1990)

A recurring theme in Kiefer's work seems to be flight, such as the use of shapes that resemble part of or the whole of areoplanes, for example the wing shape in Fulcanelli finis gloriae mundi (above). Attached to this are what look like cables, but these could also be plant forms with long stalks and dried flower heads? Something else that can be found in Richter's previous work is small (black and white) photographs attached together. In the case of Alkahest (below) the photos are joined to form what looks like liquid pouring from a vessel in a thin trail across the floor.

Alkahest (2009)

Sprache der Vogel (1989)

Sprache der Vogel (Language of the Birds) (above) and Samson (below) return us to the flight theme. In Sprache der Vogel what appears to be the wings of a large bird spread wide from a body of old books, giving the work is wonderfully apt title. The almost surreal Samson reminds me of Tote (Dead), a 1988 painting by Gerhard Richter, recently on display at the Tate Modern. In it the bottom half of a (male?) body is lying on the ground underneath a large boulder.

Samson (2010)

Though the works that had the biggest impact on me in this exhibition were Kiefer's large scale paintings. The sheer scale of them as you enter the room, the smell of the oil paint as you get closer and Kiefer's repeated use of three dimensional obects on them. These objects include a decaying brick 'wall', a 'satellite dish', a metal pram and in the case of Il Mistero delle Cattedrali (below) a crane-like structure and a small boulder.

Il Mistero delle Cattredrali (2010-11)

As is often the case with Kiefer's paintings there is the contrast between really seeing the layers and texture of the paint close up, in contrast to the form and detail of the works becoming apparent when viewing them from a distance. This makes the White Cube Bermondsey, with its large rooms and high ceilings, an ideal location for this exhibition.

Wednesday, 4 January 2012

Last Day to Vote...

...for my ‘Autumnal Sculptures’ design for this UGG Australia Talent House competition.

Thanks again to those of you who have already voted for my entry, today is the last day to vote for those that havent. It only takes a minute, & I'd really appreciate it...