The blog for hip + arty urban adventurers. Uncovering things to do and places to go in London and beyond. Visit the main site at a www.theculturalexpose.co.uk and click here to join the mailing list...
Something you should see… Love Hurts: Zeus Solo Show at Graffix Gallery
Street art and sweets. And jilted love. And Zeus Juice. And… Do you need another? Is that not enough? You’re insatiable! Well, ok then, for you, in the run up to St Valentine’s Day, Graffik Gallery on Portobello Road are turning over their venue to said Zeus. To make sweets. Well not just sweets, slush puppies too. And slush puppy machines. And art. And broken hearts. Hang on? Broken hearts? Yes, and it even takes in a charity auction on the jour d’amour itself, February 14th.
So to give this all a bit of context, it’s a shop installation created by Zeus – the London artist who started his art career a teen graffiti artist before he ended up at the Chelsea College of Arts for a dose of more formal training. Zeus has created the Zeus shop and it very much continues the artist’s drive to create his work in evermore unusual settings. In the past he has melded urban architecture with children’s pop-up books and here, the thread of sweet youth gathers apace. In this show, elements of graffiti are paired with classical art impulses, sculpture with confectionery and slush puppies with broken hearts.
What this all means for you is a saccharine soaked sojourn back to an era where procuring a quarter of kola kubes was a major achievement. And you get to do this surrounded by the mad creations of an artist drawing on a quite considerably varied oeuvre.
It all kicks off with a private view on February 7th and after that it’s a mad scramble to be the first to know what constitutes the promised liquor, Zeus Juice. What you waiting for Hansel and Gretl? (Words: Ed Spencer)
What we’ve been up to… Future Cinema presents Shawshank Redemption
I’ve seen some great films in my 31 years, but few compare to the cinematic genius that is Shawshank Redemption. Nominated for seven Oscars, its intelligent narrative, beautiful score and “that twist” makes it one of those timeless films you can watch over and over again - so I was intrigued when I heard it had been given the Secret/Future Cinema treatment last year. For starters, how do you pull off a “live cinema” version of a film like Shawshank? Who’s playing Morgan? And since participants are invited to be inmates in this theatrical production, would there reeaaaaaally be any fun in that?
Sort of. In case you can’t remember, Shawshank Redemption tells the story of a man thrown in jail, accused of murdering his wife and her lover. He pleads innocent but gets on with doing his time until he discovers evidence which could set him free. His initial years locked up are pretty harrowing to say the least – and inside the world of Future Cinema, we get a taste of this prison life that at times is almost too authentic for entertainment. During the first part of the production, a few participants are shouted at and humiliated, while I witnessed a few disturbing moments that I imagine was particularly uncomfortable for my fellow ladies in the mix.
That said, there’s no denying that Future Cinema are brilliant at what they do as the production values are incredibly high (I’d go so far as to say mind-blowing) – and any questionable factors of the spectacle are soon overcome by the convincing actors, activities and the eventual screening of a film that’s deserving of the homage. But playing make-believe incarceration may falter in comparison to more light-hearted FC productions like Grease, Bugsy Malone - and in a few weeks Casablanca – which you probably wouldn’t mind paying 45 quid for. Still, if you’re brave enough, want to play along and oddly fancy the kicks, this could be the ticket. Just don’t take a date if you’re a fella – and ladies, you might want to leave the girlyness (and heels) at home. On until February 24th.
Win a Valentine’s three-course dinner for two + screening of Casablanca!
Happy Friday people! We appreciate that love is for life (and not just for Valentine’s!) but if there’s an annual day dedicated to loveliness, who are we to fight it? So whether you’re dating, married or simply enjoy hanging out with your BFF, we’ve got a Valentines’s competition open to one and all; our generous friends at the Roxy Bar and Screen are offering you the chance to enjoy a Valentine’s screening of the classic Casablanca and mouthwatering 3-course dinner!
For your chance to win, simply send us a “selfie” (a picture you’ve taken of yourself, most likely with a camera phone), with the person you’d like to go with and both of your names to firstname.lastname@example.org by midday Friday, February 8th and a winner will be chosen at random. Good luck!
Three course menu
- Beetroot marinated smoked salmon, rocket and shaved fennel salad
- Ham hock and rabbit terrine, rhubarb and plum chutney, toasted ciabatta
- Grilled courgette rolls with aubergine caviar and grilled piquillo peppers
- Grilled haddock, crushed new potatoes with goats cheese, chilli and mint pea puree, citrus aioli
- Feta, caramelised onions and beetroot filo pastry strudel, green beans and rocket salad, with beetroot puree
- Sharing plate of passion fruit curd pots, banoffee tart, blueberry and white chocolate ganache cups
About Roxy Bar & Screen
Roxy was created to bring together cutting-edge digital screenings with high quality drinks & food. Film screenings take place from Sunday to Wednesday on a large-scale, state-of-the-art digital cinema screen and surround sound system, offering viewers a unique, high quality cinema experience within a relaxed bar setting. The hugely popular Film & TV Pub Quiz takes place every other Thursday, whilst the venue also screens the pick of sporting events at the weekends. Good quality value-for-money pub food is served alongside an impressive wine, beer and cocktail selection. For more info visit www.roxybarandscreen.com/listings.php?event=2285
(For our competition terms and conditions, click HERE…)
TCé picks: A selection of things to do and places to go – February 2013
As far as we’re concerned, February is the official start of the culture calendar – so we’re happy that this month has quite a few entertaining going-ons in store, from charity danceathons to an opportunity to go to your very own prom. Plus, tune into the site later for an announcement of a brilliant competition courtesy of our generous friends over at the Roxy Bar & Cinema…
Meet Mutsa danceathon, February 9th - This fun and quirky social activist has been doing her part in London to raise awareness of the HIV pandemic in sub-saharan Africa through educational projects, and her latest event sees her organise an international danceathon fundraiser in London and New York City. One of the teachers who’ll be putting participants through their paces is Zoo Nation choreographer Kate Prince (Into the Hoods, Some Like It Hip-Hop), so you’ll know this will be brilliant (and all for a good cause!).
Future Cinema presents Casablanca, February 14th – March 3th- The creators of Secret Cinema will be presenting the iconic Casablanca, where you’ll step into the world of Rick’s American Café at the Troxy which will be transformed into the famous, exclusive and romantic nightclub. Immersive cinema at its finest.
Teen Dreams Prom at The Book Club, February 14- Ever wondered what it’d be like to go to prom? Wonder no more on Valentine’s Day as The Book Club are throwing a fancy dress knees-up for couples and friends to experience prom first hand. There will be games, American food and even a final crowning of Prom King and Queen.
Something You Should See… Light Show, Hayward Gallery
Light. We have built pyramids to worship it, sundials to utilise it and, more recently in our relatively short homo sapien history, solar panels to harness and regenerate it. This month at Hayward Gallery, 23 artists heralding from Venezuela to Wales have been brought together for their work with this most essential of natural phenomena. Light Show showcases pivotal works from the past fifty years which investigate light, its properties and its effects.
The artists selected for Hayward’s Light Show are those who are considered significant and progressive in their use of the medium. Some shape light, some shape space with light, some shape our perception of space with light. Alongside some of the more established and readily recognisable works (Dan Flavin’s monuments to Minimalism and James Turrell’s dazzling ganzfeld to name but two examples) the exhibition features the products of a whole range of experiments with this most intangible of media. François Morellet’s astoundingly elegant neon tubes rear northwards from the same concrete floor that is blemished with a humorous ‘splat’ shape beamed by Ceal Floyer’s bowed spotlight nearby. Carlos Cruz-Diez has created a glowing pastel paradise, Katie Paterson presents a room filled with moonlight and Olafur Eliasson presents a strobe-lighted water garden which is the pièce de résistance of the show, and really has to be seen to be believed.
Here’s a question: what is light if not our perception of it? As Hayward director Ralph Rugoff proclaimed at the opening of the show, ‘in the world of art it takes two to tango’ – these works are about personal encounters and direct experience. Light Show is an exhibition of verbs: you can explore light, feel light, touch it, stand and bathe in it. You can even almost smell light in the heat coming off the crackling filaments in Cerith Wyn Evan’s towers and from the scorching lamps that fill Ann Veronica Janssens’ misty room with rose-coloured sunshine. Our pupils expand and contract as we move in and out of the darkened exhibition spaces, and our ears hum with the sound of projectors and mist generators.
Move your body to Hayward and treat your eyes to this wonderland of visual stimuli as soon as possible: when word gets out about this spectacular show, the crowds will come like moths to a flame. Many of the works are interactive, and there may be queues, but let me tell you – without exception, each is worth the wait. (Words: Florence Ritter)
Something you should see… Běla Kolářová at Raven Row Gallery
Since the Raven Row Gallery regularly champions overseas artists and those with a political interest – it’s not a surprise that this February they will be presenting Bela Kolarova’s first posthumous retrospective since her death in 2010. Having only received significant attention in the last few years, this new show, at this stunning gallery, gives much deserved space to an artist from behind the iron curtain.
During her life in the Czech Republic Kolarova’s artwork was often overshadowed by her husband, Jiří Kolář, a writer, poet and collage artist. But in these heady days of equality (well, not quite, but…) Kolarova’s work has sparked new interest. Working during the 60s and in opposition to the then Soviet dominated Czechslovakian trends, the artist developed a practice that kicked against the wonder and preoccupation with the photograph and continued the Bauhaus school of thought: working with the medium in an abstract way.
Kolarova is most well known for her ‘artificial negative’ images – a technique that involved layering parafin over cellophane and imprinting the most mundane of objects onto the surface. Through this preoccupation with the unimportant, the artists became associated with the New Realism movement of the 1960s. As Kolarova’s work progressed, and for political reasons was never shown in Prague, she became increasingly concerned with domesticity and feminism, using her own hair and make up to complete many of her artworks.
The exhibition promises to display works through all apsects of the artists ouevre – from her early photgraphs, experiemntal photographs and into her more politically charged work from the 1970s and 80s. The tragedy of art – that recognition often comes after ones death – still remains true for this artist. But, Kolarova’s work remains as vital as ever, despite its late discovery. And for that reason it is a must see. Words: Laura Thornley
Something you should see… Manet: Portraying Life at Royal Academy of Arts
Edouard Manet is probably best known for his highly controversial painting Olympia, the scandalously and decidedly naked Parisian prostituée with her arresting gaze. But the woman depicted in Olympia is just one of a whole host of models who sat for the French nineteenth-century painter. This month, the Royal Academy of Art is putting on the first ever exhibition dedicated to Manet’s portraiture – and astonishingly (given the extensive curatorial coverage of the Impressionists) this has never been done before.
Manet is recognised as the pioneer of the anti-academic style of the 1860s and he is widely celebrated for his paintings’ dialectical reflection on the conditions of industrial modernity. However, although Manet’s work is today the subject of a blockbuster exhibition, it was not always so well-received. Throughout his three decade-long career (cut short by his sudden death at 51) the artist endured repeated rejections from gallerists and an onslaught of damning reviews by prominent critics. Many works now considered masterpieces were then derided as tasteless and vulgar. His sitters – rich young girls and their governesses, fellow artists, friends and family – are painted neither idealistically nor satirically, but as they might appear: in sunlit parks and in harbours, in bars and on the streets. Each gazes directly out to us. Manet instigated a much more intense relationship between sitter and beholder than that which had been previously attempted or achieved in painting. But the paintings’ lack of finesse repelled his critics who favoured the glossy, impenetrable surfaces of the work of some of Manet’s more commercially successful contemporaries.
Nonetheless, with the support of his circle of literary and artistic friends, Manet persevered. Any struggling artists or students today who are going against the grain with projects that break the mould or unfashionably question the status quo should look to Manet. His is a success story in the face of critical adversity, and all with a little help from his friends. (Words: Florence Ritter)
A Date for the Diary: Manet is most commonly identified with the origins of Modernism and with the beginnings of Impressionism, but has also had a considerable impact on contemporary photographic portraits. Catch seminal photographer Rineke Dijkstra discuss his work in her talk on 8th March at the RA.
It may be a couple of years since a new kind of gourmet burger (big, messy, tasty et cetera) has invaded the capital, but we’re still loving ‘em – especially as many of those roving sensations like Meat Liquor and Honest Burger are not only living up to the hype, but to the joy of comfort-food lovers, settling down with permanent locations. Patty & Bun - which made their debut in West London November 2011 – followed suit at the end of 2012 by acquiring a tiny 30-cover locale in Marylebone, and on a visit last week, we discovered its quirky style and hip soundtrack (think Guru and Busta Rhymes) definitely matched the swag of their delicious and innovative sandwiches.
There’s a decent variety of burgers to choose from, but we went for the ‘Lambshank Redemption’ burger (£8)with its nice chilli kick and the ’Hot chic’ Chicken burger (£7.50) - that had a twist of tarragon that took the flavour up a notch - plus a side of rosemary fries (£2.50) we could have eaten twice over. But be warned: we queued over 70 minutes (!) to get into this hotspot on a Wednesday evening, and they like to move people in and out quickly – but we can safely say, we tried some of the best burgers we’ve had for a while. They don’t take reservations so visit late lunch time or early evening to beat the rush – and top off your meal with a choc ice (we were too full to try!).
Something you should see… Schwitters in Britain at Tate Britain
When Kurt Schwitters arrived in Britain as a refugee from Nazi Germany, he was already a key figure in European Dadaism. The work produced by the German artist during this time from 1940 until his death in Cumbria in 1948, is the subject of a major exhibition at Tate Britain. The show examines how Schwitters’ period in exile affected his style in the latter stage of his career.
He’s is best known for the invention of ‘Merz’, which he defined as ‘the combination, for artistic purposes of all conceivable materials’. Essentially, this meant working with everyday materials and found objects (including litter) to produce art. First applied to the abstract collages he made from piecing together bits of string, bus tickets, newsprint, sweet wrappers and even pram wheels – this concept was extended by Schwitters to include all his artistic endeavours, from sculpture to poetry.
Many of the pieces on display (over 150 in total) haven’t been shown in the UK for decades, so this really is an opportunity to see what many consider to be some of the most accomplished collages of the 20th century. An early example of Merz – look out for The Skittle Picture (1921) – will be amongst the collages, assemblages and sculptures on view. Also worth a scout has got to be Merz Barn – Schwitters’ last sculpture and installation before his death at Kendal.
The legacy of the German’s British period is evident in the lasting impression he made on artists such as Eduardo Paolozzi and Richard Hamilton. His Dadaism in the form of Merz seemed to anticipate many later developments in art including Pop Art, installation art and the use of multimedia. Schwitters may not have received the recognition in Britain that he had enjoyed in mainland Europe but he certainly left his mark. (Words: Eri Otite)
Schwitters in Britain is on at Tate Britain from 30 January – 12 May. For more info, visit www.tate.org.uk
Something You Should See… Narratives of Arrival and Resolution, Art Space Gallery
If you’re a self-confessed perfectionist out there who swoons over clean-cut lines and shiver with satisfaction at exact tessellation, Art Space Gallery is the place for you this month. Curator Deanna Petherbridge has brought together a selection of works by four abstract artists who appear to share your passion for precision, in new exhibition Narratives of Arrival and Resolution.
First up – Belinda Cadbury and her meticulously pencilled patterns on paper. Cadbury’s work is about craft and process, rather than creativity and imagination, and each work is carefully executed, tightly finished and smudge-free. But the uneven densities of the markings within each of her carefully demarcated forms betray the personal labour that went into each of the works, without ever undermining the integrity of the design and its rhythm.
Alison Turnbull and Sarah Cawkwell both seek existing patterns in our everyday lives and, lifting them from their original contexts, isolate or re-work them to explore their aesthetic potential free of meaning. Turnbull’s interests lie in the topographical, in maps, charts and graphs. Her systematically placed dots and lines interact with the systems of her sources, and invigorate the page surface in playful and enchanting ways. Cawkwell turns to the domestic. A lot of her artistic practice comprises relatively uninteresting, middle-of-the-road charcoal renderings of dressing and undressing rituals, but Petherbridge has astutely selected only those works which dissolve the figurative into abstract patterning. Woven textiles, buttons and the folds and creases of fabric serve as departure points for lovingly rendered small-scale studies in pencil and wash.
The highlight is set to be Wendy Smith, who lacerates her dazzling white boards with inked lines which cross and merge to form intricate, interlocking patterns that shimmer and dance on the page. Smith’s drawings have a graphic quality and are so frighteningly free of imperfection it is easy to imagine them to be machine-made. Together in series Smith’s work looks like the result of hundreds of experiments in drawing, but experiments with no hypothesis, no analysis and no evaluation.
Smith’s works, as with the others shown at the gallery, are not reliant on theory. They do not purport to communicate any personal or objective reality to us but rather express the artists’ fascination with mark making itself. The crisp, clean visual clarity of the works at Art Space Gallery provide the ultimate in visual satisfaction and are not to be missed. (Words: Florence Ritter)