Posted: October 2nd, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: contemporary art, sculpture, Uncategorized | No Comments »
This sculpture makes a meal of a piece of gum. It may be marble, but it was once a remnant piece of a habit-forming chew. And now it is the size of a torso.
Visitors may be struck at the muscularity, which marble will always suggest. There is a body trapped in here, perhaps a Michaelangelesque dying slave.
These sinews may be rock hard. But you may still want to chew over the results of this fleshy piece of work, at the risk of breaking a tooth.
The stone comes from the maestro’s onetime favourite quarry at Carrara in Tuscany. I was told it has been chiselled with high pressure water from a 3D map scaled to 0.1 of a micron.
Were the artist to use said technology to render a figure from myth, it might be horribly ernest. Gum reassures us that he is insouciant enough to make contemporary art.
But we can still admire the stone along with the concept. The veins and luminosity are just beautiful. You want to stroke it, but isn’t chewed gum as tactile as it is repellent.
This piece has been splatted on the wall, as if the classical world never happened. Certainly, machine technologies have cut all the traditional craftsmanship out of the equation.
Gum may seem too ephemeral for a lasting statement. But evidence suggests we have been chewing bark, etc, for 5,000 years: a pillar of civilisation. More ancient than the Ancient World.
Schliere (Streak) can be seen in Alex Hoda: D-Construction at Edel Assanti, London, until 26 October 2013.
Posted: September 26th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: contemporary art, painting | Tags: neo-expressionism | No Comments »
Neo-expressionist painting, if that’s what this be, often has literal depth. Layers of paint come between viewer and canvas. And layers don’t get much thicker than those of this Mexican artist.
When you square up to it, there is a material heaviness. And this translates (in our primitive minds) to a metaphorical heaviness: in other words we feel the pull.
Drawn closer to the surface one can lose oneself in the cracks and crumbles as if every square inch was ripe with intention and hard won expression.
But it is not known how much angst this work caused Sodi. None, it is always possible. It is possible he has hit upon a decent trick to provide that instant gravitas.
Like many painters of a certain ilk, he is all about process: spreading on a trademark mix of pigment, sawdust, pulp, fibres and glue. He lets the cracks work themselves.
Indeed Sodi has spoken of relinquishing control. With an element of chance in all his paintings, he works on the floor a la Pollock. Then he leaves it to dry for at least two months.
Most results in this show include a certain furriness, a certain glitter, and a sense that you could pull the paint away from the wall in chunks. As itchy as a scab.
So there may yet be an existential wound behind this work. But equally, there may just be a painter with a technical niche and a Taoist approach to finished product. I’m not sure which to prefer.
Bosco Sodi: Graphein can be seen at PACE London until October 4 2013. See gallery website for more details.
Posted: September 22nd, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: conceptual art, contemporary painting, fashion | No Comments »
courtesy of the artist and Ceri Hand Gallery, Photographer Anna Arca
Painting is an empty pocket. The content it once contained, the paint itself, has in many cases gone. In all cases now, a stretched canvas is a blank canvas. Put in it what you will.
So the unadorned white t-shirt you see here, the unifying image from a show which shares its name, is more than a sly joke. It is a comment on the nowness of its chosen medium.
It was made in 2013, but it echoes the 1980s which in turn echoed the 1950s. As Knox has said, it could make you think of Marlon Brando. It could even make you think of the band Bros.
Those of us on the wrong side of history, during that turbulent decade, may have shown a preference for a darker, or more fey, English look. But here is the triumph of a cotton icon.
It is as large and wide as any buddha and all the more potent for its facelessness. Buff is a strong word for it, suggesting the ripped muscles we cannot see. The muscles of thought.
Because this is a show fully engaged with the body and the world of fashion. No two works are much the same. And the artist has even named one after the season, Fall 13.
Fashion is a threat to anyone with artistic leanings. It implies that any success is temporal. It implies that your audience has the most superficial of relationships with your work.
But Knox is not afraid of catwalks and collections. She grew up in what you might call a fashion household. This could be her greatest strength, acceptance.
So again the Buddha smiles. And given that Knox has spoken about her mother’s death in relation to her show, is Buff not also a ghost of sorts? And if it be a ghost, might it not be the zeitgeist itself?
If so, it is still waiting for your input. You might not find a better receptacle for your own ideas about art than Buff in the show BUFF at Ceri Hand Gallery. At least not this season.
Hannah Knox: BUFF can be seen at Ceri Hand Gallery, London, until October 26 2013. See gallery website for more details.
Posted: September 13th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: animation, contemporary art, Japan | No Comments »
Japan has multiple ways to say “I”. Artist and multiple-self David Blandy tells us this half way through his new film Anjin 1600: Edo Wonderpark, a film itself part autobiography.
The Japanses have a dynamic way of speaking in first person, which relates to the present company; and what artist keeps such interesting company as gamer and hip hop geek Blandy?
But despite immersion in these cult-like worlds, an artist will always report back to an art audience, as embedded reporter from a land some would rather ignore.
Perhaps Edo Wonderpark is the first time that hat tips like Ulysses 31 and MCM Expo have made complete sense. The artist has long demanded you give them some attention.
And so we come to his latest assimilation: the “I” of 16th century explorer William Adams. Yes, this figure was a well paid European samurai. But no, he was always an outsider.
(Some modern comparison with Japanese footballers who sign up for the PL. It is not clear what the gaffer has in store for them. Perhaps the marketing departments know.)
It has been said that artists must be outsiders. But in a networked society with mass media and hives of trade and blockbuster exhibitions, this tradition maybe on the wane.
Blandy has found an imaginary land, somewhere that, on account of his height, his looks, his tongue, he cannot fit in. His art, in that sense, is really outsider.
Another strong point made by the film in question is the discovery, “300 years after the Renaissance”, of Japanese prints. Blandy is one who credits them with the birth of modern art.
If that be true then our ignorance about Japan is an ignorance about our own visual culture. Seen thus, the confessional script of Edo Wonderpark says is of urgent importance.
The least that might be said is that all artists need a Japan of the imagination, an uncanny home from home. “A cypher, a receptacle”, says Blandy, who may yet be as captive there as Adams.
Anjin 1600: Edo Wonderpark can be seen at Rose Lipman Building, 43 De Beauvoir Road, N1, until October 26. See Create London website for more details.
Read my 2010 interview with David Blandy here and/or a post about an early video work here.
Posted: September 2nd, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: aggregation, contemporary art | No Comments »
- Interview of the week, possibly the month, the Guardian speak with ‘wrecker of civilisation’ Genesis P. Orridge
- Meanwhile the Telegraph keeps it light with the trailer to a new feature about the most famous cat on the webz
- These are a pure joy. Music videos chosen by Prosthetic Knowledge. Just why is the forefront of tech so uncanny and funny?
- PhD funding shocker. Now two post grads have put their heads together to beat Facebook addiction.
- Mostafa Heddaya (Hyperallergic) wonders what it meant to be alternative at the Alternative Guide to the Universe at the Hayward in London
- Here’s a journey I have made thousands of times but never with such an ace vantage point and satisfying sense of historical continuity. London to Brighton
- The Onion are first with the story behind the story. CNN explain why they went big on that Miley Cyrus performance
- Just possibly the best infographic ever, director Alfred Hitchcock’s myriad obsessions: falls, journeys, deaths, blondes, etc
- The Guardian carries a video of a day in the life of the world’s most expensive footballer. There is something a bit humdrum about the whole thing
- Finally, poet Paul Muldoon eulogises poet Seamus Heaney in the New Yorker. Saddening.
Posted: August 30th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: conceptual art, contemporary art, science art, space travel | No Comments »
The moon is to be howled at. When it comes to our planet’s only satellite, we have been-there-done-that. If there was a concession selling t-shirts, we missed it.
Our arrival, let’s face it, was a disappointment. We struck neither oil nor gold. Bored astronauts batted around golf balls and American footballs in an inspirational void.
We dreamt about her for millennia and she turned out to be a cold, dead rock. Well, so be it. Now, however, artist Katie Paterson has got the revenge we all wanted.
The Berlin artist has got a fragment of said rock and is sending our moon on an accelerated orbit of shame. In one year it will travel freight-class around the earth 30 times.
Now that’s a moon we can get behind. In a crate marked fragile this lunar specimen will have to deal with customs, baggage handlers, hold ups and the inevitable potential of getting lost.
Twice as fast as the cheese-that-never-was, Second Moon will better reflect the pace of 21st century life. Especially, if you are following its progress on one of the accompanying apps.
As you can see from the accompanying press shot, anyone could get a (literal) handle on this project. And that is something we have consistently failed to do with the ‘real’ thing up there.
Sure, we have mapped it. We have painted it. We have taken stunning photos. But we have failed to exploit it, in the manner which offers daily proof to us that we exist here on earth.
But who knows? Perhaps this durational, labour-intensive and futile project may one day help us to finally understand the moon. As yet, she remains a cipher at the heart of a logistical nightmare.
‘Second Moon’ will launch from the British Science Festival in Newcastle upon Tyne on 8th September. For more on this artist, see her website.
Posted: August 20th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: community art, contemporary art, festivals | No Comments »
Photo (c) Dominic from Luton
The burning question this week is possibly not: ‘What did it feel like to win a 12kg cake at the Ceri Hand Gallery’s Summer Fete?” But that’s what this post is about.
Reader, it felt good. This blogger got a round of applause for a dubious and hitherto untried skill of guessing the weight of baked items. Plus, a tasty cake.
The Victoria sponge took the form of a bust of the eponymous gallery director. It didn’t look too much like Ceri Hand. But it did look folky enough for the spirit of the occasion.
Artist Dominic from Luton (of more here) drummed up plenty of entries. You might not think the bakers he used get too many portrait requests. But still the eyes followed you around . . .
With a 60 mile train journey back to Brighton, an instant division of spoils seemed in order. Impossible to eat one’s way through so much cake at home, not with those eyes.
But the afternoon event was a lot of fun. Another highlight was a tarot reading by John Walter. Got up like an exploded rug factory he dealt out 9 resonant cards.
(So, my fate hinges upon my dealings with one or more powerful women, the Empress and/or the Queen of Blag. Just hope they don’t both turn out to be my mother.)
Nearby Alice and Jasmine from the Glossary of Gestures for Critical Discussion (+ Rachel and Gareth from MoreUtopia) were on hand, pun intended, to talk about their amazng tumblr feed.
There was plenty more to see. In fact, artist Helena Hunter’s eyes were popping out on springs. Her deadpan dance performance, with joke shop accessory, said it all in a way.
But the festival had its darker side. Outside the venue Robert Foster spent the entire afternoon in the stocks. His alleged crime: forgery and impersonation.
Endurance is surely one of the most valuable qualities in art and this much-abused artist had plenty, with fish, tomatoes and eggs bouncing off his cranium all afternoon long.
Finally, there was a dangerous combination of cheap beer and desirable works for sale. At least one was bought by a genuine local, who came back for cake. Now that’s a summer fete!
For a fuller account of the day, you should read Ceri Hand’s round up of everything which took place, including an awesome-sounding fish battle. Read on.
Posted: August 19th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: Uncategorized | No Comments »
Some great links this week, a few of which I hope you’re tempted to click on:
- William Powhida and Jade Townsend have devised a scarily detailed map of the art world as a number of warring tribes, including an encampment for Critical Refugees.
- Lego has released an architects’ studio. Hundreds of white or clear bricks for you to style up your own modernist pavilion. This may even make up for their Harry Potter alliance.
- Aymann Ismail has an astonishing tale to tell and the photos to prove it. This is a story from troubled Egypt by Animal NY. How to beat an angry mob….
- Well, it looks like this time next year audio cassettes will be back in vogue. You’ll have to get that box down from the loft. Vice reports on their growing appeal #longread
- If you’ve got 40 minutes (go on) you could do much worse than settle in for this lecture by Mark Leckey. Cinema in the Round is now on Ubuweb.
- Here’s something more immediate: a collection of nature gifs. Not sure we should be treating animals this way, but hell, my favourite is the crocodiles.
- John Cooper Clarke makes it into the National Curriculum and the wordy folk at Pipe have paid tribute to him. The pigeonhole ‘punk poet’ may no longer do justice.
- Asheq Akhtar has made a beautiful film in derelict asylum, Severalls, in Colchester. This had added resonance for me because I grew up in the town and it cast a shadow..
- Meanwhile here are ten of the best 20th century poems to be inspired by paintings with introductions by Fisun Guner. Plus one surprise from this side of the millennium.
- The Walt Disney Family Museum may not promise much with a name like that. But this show of 102-year-old Bambi mood setter Tyrus Wong sounds magic enough.
Posted: August 12th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: aggregation, contemporary art | No Comments »
Found Objects are back. Sorry to regular readers for the break:
- Freelance journalist Francesa Borri is working for $70 a story. That’s $70 to cover the frontline of the war in Syria. (via Jude Sheerin)
- Bomb magazine links the work of Gordon Matta-Clark and the Pompidou Centre in Paris, all via the writing of Francis Ponge.
- Here’s a thing. Artist Marc Ngui is illustrating a barely readable work of philosophy. So here are Deleuze & Guattari’s Thousand Plateaus as a no less mystifying diagram.
- If you haven’t seen these gestures for critical discussion, check them out. If you have seen them, it’s worth refreshing your memory. Very funny.
- The term emerging artist is a slippery one. But now IdeasTap have tried to nail it down with 22 signs that you may be one.
- This could be the most instructional gif ever. Watch the world breathe as the seasons change from the vantage point of space.
- Marina Abramovic continues to hob nob with pop stars, but this piece of advice from the venerable performance artist is probably a good ‘un. Do one thing at a time.
- A Park Avenue tunnel in New York has been turned into an interactive light show party, courtesy of Mexican artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.
- Damn, Bowie even looks good in his police mug shot. Memorabilia from a drugs bust in 1976 has just come to light in Rochester, NY. Nice piece.
- Last but not least, a sea fort near the Isle of Wight has been covered into a luxury hotel. If that doesn’t quite capture the imagination the pics should do.
Posted: August 9th, 2013 | Author: Mark Sheerin | Filed under: contemporary art, drama, painting, performance art, printmaking, Reykjavik | No Comments »
Written for Bad At Sports.
It is more than 1,000 miles from Luton, England, to Reykjavik, Iceland. But Dominic from the UK town appears to love a good caper. Why else would he put together a group show on very little money in one of the most far flung and expensive cities in Europe?
“It was done on a wing and a prayer,” he tells me on the phone from his Luton studio. “The art was just really, really ambitious considering we didn’t have much money to play with. It’s amazing what you can do with a cardboard tube and a delivery van.”
Five artists took part. And the show has just run for a month at gallery Kling & Bang. Along with Dominic, the full bill included Gavin Turk, Mark Titchner, Laura White and Peter Lamb. The show went by the name London Utd. “It’s kind of doing what it says on the tin,” says Dominic, whose eponymous town is just a twenty minute train ride from the UK capital.
Not that he is the first to cross the Atlantic to the artist led space. He tells me that Paul McCarthy and Jason Rhoades have also shown at the dynamic and co-operative venue. And Dominic takes the opportunity to recount the tale of Kling & Bang’s legendary appearance at Frieze Art Fair.
“They did a Frieze Project in London in 2008 called Sirkus. It’s an incredible story,” says the artist, telling me that Sirkus was the name of a Reykyavik bar: “This place was the hub, the heartbeat of the arts community”. But after nine years of business, Sirkus closed down, leaving Kling & Bang free to turn the façade and fixtures into a temporary installation for the art fair.
Dominic warms to his tale: “They arrived at Heathrow in October 2008 and basically all their credit cards had been stopped because the [Icelandic] crash had suddenly happened overnight and so this bar, which was a mirror of good times and place to meet, became that again in London.” Word soon went round about the penniless Icelanders with the reconstructed bar.
Things are a bit better in Reykjavik now and in its way London Utd has become another bridge between the art scenes in both cities. Mark Titchner’s piece was a piece of text in Icelandic, which read The World Isn’t Working. (Perhaps the UK crash is yet to come.)
Gavin Turk meanwhile offered a twelve and a half metre diptych inspired by Andy Warhol’s Death and Disaster series and featuring the four wheeled emblem of working class Britain the Ford Transit. Laura White produced no less than 54 drawings of photos of sculptures which she herself had made. And Peter Lamb translated the shifting detritus on his studio floor into two large abstract canvases.
Asked about one of his own works in the show, Dominic is ready with another yarn. “That photo was done as a tribute to Paul Young,” he tells me. Like the artist, the singer came from Luton. “He used to work at Vauxhall [car plant] in the early 80s and he told someone I know in the canteen once that he was going to be a global pop star and then literally 18 months later he was, with Everytime You Go Away.”
The track resonates with many a Lutonian and inspired a Dominic from Luton performance at an event called Café Almanac organised by Bedford Creative Arts. This involved sourcing an 80s wig from Luton Indoor Market, posing for a portrait artist in the shopping centre and getting 5,000 badges made to cover a cheap suit. “I just stood up in front of about 50 people in this Working Men’s Club on a Saturday afternoon and sung my heart out,” recalls the artist.
This took place under a net filled with 200 balloons in the colours of the local soccer team, intended for release in the final verse. However “The net got caught in all of my badges so I had 200 balloons attached to me and I panicked and – it wasn’t scripted at all – I basically ended up having a fight with these balloons and stamping on them and stuff and it brought the house down actually.”
But despite the hazardous stagecraft, Dominic’s “biggest challenge” is a self-proclaimed inability to sing. So it comes as no surprise that the artist thinks most performance art is too earnest. “People would argue with this, but I think there’s a duty to entertain,” he says, “That’s just my take on it. That’s my little mantra.” Even the anecdotes which relate to each of his gigs are compelling experiences.
As a final aside, it’s worth pointing out that the artist formerly known as Dominic Allan comes from one of the most derided towns in the UK. His “from Luton” tag is a sticky piece of cultural baggage. Dominic tells me that the name just came about through being easy to remember when he ordered materials.
Now, he claims, “It’s just a very glorious vehicle for the idea of the underdog and also to shove it back in people’s faces now because Luton’s one of those towns which people laugh about . . . The more I go on, the more I realise that it is serious, and it is serious”.
So that’s Dominic, from Luton, easy to laugh with, hard to laugh at. Prepare to be entertained if he ever comes to your town.
Dominic from Luton website; Kling and Bang website; Bad at Sports homepage.