New Post: Something you should see… Claire Aho: Studio Works at The Photographers’ Gallery
Something you should see… Claire Aho: Studio Works at The Photographers’ Gallery
Artist Claire Aho began her career as a photographer during a time when men dominated the industry. A cultural icon in her native Finland, British audiences now have the chance to see the images that made Aho’s name at London’s Photographers’ Gallery. The exhibition concentrates on Aho’s career from 1950 to 1970 – a period where her use of colour and inventive style made her a leading name in the world of advertising, editorial and fashion photography. Studio Works is the first solo exhibition of Aho’s work in the UK and will include the original Finnish lifestyle magazines featuring Aho’s cover pictures, as well as images from her archive.
Considered a pioneer of Finnish colour photography, Aho started her career in film before establishing her own commercial studio in the 1950s. Aho’s photographs from this era depicted domestic life around Finland and many of these images will be on view. Aho’s pictures are saturated with colour and contrasting palettes usually appear side by side. It was the quality of Aho’s colour photography that created a commercial demand for her services across a range of industries. If colour is thematic in the work of Aho, so is humour and audiences will definitely get a sense of that at the show. Photographs such as Compressor Refrigerator, which depicts a children’s tea party wouldn’t feel out of place in a current ad run for Ikea. The fun and playful quality that underscores much of Aho’s images at the show should connect with audiences.
Claire Aho says she never saw her work as pioneering during the 1950s, she ‘just worked hard’. But you need only watch the travails of Peggy Olson from the fictional show Mad Men to realise just how hard that must have been. (Words: Eri Otite)
Claire Aho: Studio Works is on at The Photographers’ Gallery, from 19 April -21 July. For more info, visit www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk
11:00 am • 18 April 2013
New Post: Somewhere you should go… SLAM Last Fridays
Somewhere you should go… SLAM Last Fridays
SLAM Last Fridays, the fresh naughty little sister of the monthly late night openings, will be coming around again at the end of the month. Compared with East London’s well-established First Thursdays and Fitzrovia’s well-heeled Lates on every last Thursday, South London’s offering to the mix is more diverse and widespread, and is an important fixture for your art diaries. Galleries and studios in Bankside, Peckham, Deptford and Bermondsey open their doors into the evening and welcome those who want to kick off the weekend with a good hit of culture, and maybe a cheeky beer or two.
So print off a map, round up some pals and hit those buzzing cultural seedbeds south of the river. SLAM organisers recommend sticking to one district but the more adventurous can zip between galleries by bus, bike or rollerblades, whatever you fancy. South London Art Tours are organised across each of the areas, on a strictly pay-what-you-can (or -like) basis. Follow one of their specialist tour guides to a selection of art hotspots, wander freestyle, or have a gander at these shows handpicked by your beloved TCé:
• Bankside’s CUL DE SAC Gallery will be exploring misrepresentation, authority and the individual in contemporary China in a series of parodic and absurd works in performance and video.
• Exhibiting artist Melanie Jackson will be giving a talk in Peckham’s Flat Time House on her weird and wonderful futuristic botanicals, in a recently opened display of ceramic and video work. (April 26th)
• Over in Bermondsey, a brilliant show at The Drawing Room interrogates the blurred boundaries of media categorisation with a showcase of artists working between drawing and sculpture.
If all this art gets you in the mood for cheap drinks and dancing don’t forget the official after parties held in each of the different areas – slammin’! (Words: Florence Ritter)
For more info, visit www.southlondonartmap.com
11:10 am • 12 April 2013
New Post: Something you should see… George Bellows: Modern American Life at the Royal Academy
Something you should see… George Bellows: Modern American Life at the Royal Academy
When George Bellows died at the age of 42 from a ruptured appendix, he was acclaimed as one of America’s greatest realist artists. Now British audiences have the chance to see what all the fuss was about this month at the Royal Academy. The exhibition, which is the first UK retrospective of his career, explores the principal themes in Bellows’ work and includes both drawings and paintings, as well as lithographs.
New York’s urban landscape – its people and places provided the setting for Bellows unflinching portrayal of early 20th century America. From the lawless violence of the boxing ring to gritty scenes of tenement life, to cityscapes and social scenes – he painted them all. Visitors to the Royal Academy can view life in New York and its diversity of inhabitants, as it emerged into the 20th century – from the 71 works on show. Bellows is best known for his boxing paintings and the exhibition includes his most famous work Stag at Sharkey’s (1909). The painting depicts a brutal underground bout at one of New York’s ‘private’ clubs on Broadway. The frenzied energy and raw aggression captured by Bellows in his early fight scenes helped to establish his reputation as a ‘formidable’ painter in New York art circles.
Thought of as the ‘all-American painter’, the variety of subject matter suggest Bellows was a more complex artist who was attuned to the social and political issues of the day. Lithographs Bellows produced for leftwing publications and paintings showing German atrocities during the First World War – both included in the show, attest to the social conscience for which he is known. Those looking for some light relief from the depressing studies of daily city life should seek out Bellows’ scenic paintings of Manhattan under snow and portraits of summer fetes in Central Park.
George Bellows left an extensive body of work for what was a short career, so here’s a great opportunity to see some of those works and find out why this American painter was so highly praised. (Words: Eri Otite)
George Bellows (1882-1925): Modern American Life is on at the Royal Academy from 16 March – 9 June. For more info, visit www.royalacademy.org.uk
11:00 am • 15 March 2013
New Post: Something you should see… Yinka Shonibare: POP! at the Stephen Friedman Gallery
Something you should see… Yinka Shonibare: POP! at the Stephen Friedman Gallery
Yinka Shonibare is having a bit of a moment. Fresh on the heels of a major retrospective at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park, the Stephen Friedman Gallery is hosting a show of new works by the British-Nigerian artist. Inspired by the financial crisis, the exhibition explores the subjects of corruption, excess and debauchery. With his characteristic humour, Shonibare critiques society’s obsession with luxury goods and the behaviour of the banking industry.
Shonibare’s lavish re-working of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper, described as his ‘largest and most complex sculptural tableaux’, is one of the main pieces of the exhibition. In Shonibare’s fantasy, Christ is replaced by Dionysus – the mythological God of fertility and wine – surrounded by twelve over-indulged disciples in various states of sexual abandonment. The celebration of mindless excess continues in Banker (2013), which depicts a sharply dressed mannequin simulating a lewd act with a champagne bottle.
Headless figures and the use of Dutch waxed fabric are common motifs in Shonibare’s work. Throughout the exhibition, the colorful Batik print is used in the tailored costumes of the figures and the cloth also appears in the installationToy Paintings. Manufactured by the Dutch, and initially for sale in Indonesia, it was only after the textile failed to take-off that it eventually made its way to West Africa. A signature of his practice for nearly two decades, Shonibare’s use of ‘African’ material - that is actually European in origin – plays on its rather complex colonial history. The beheaded figures are an attempt by Shonibare to discourage associations with race on the part of the viewer.
Large-scale self-portraits based on Andy Warhol’s Camouflage series of 1986, which represent new lines of enquiry for Shonibare, also deserve a mention amidst all the decadence and depravity on show. Yinka Shonibare is of course the man behind the widely acclaimed Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, commissioned for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square – and now on permanent display at the National Maritime Museum. Shonibare’s new work should resonate with audiences, losing none of its theatre, colour and style in its witty and damning take on contemporary life. (Words: Eri Otite)
Yinka Shonibare: POP! is on at the Stephen Friedman Gallery, from 16 March – 20 April. For more info, visit www.stephenfriedman.com
11:00 am • 14 March 2013
New Post: Something you should see… Sanchita Islam: The Rebel Within at Rich Mix
Something you should see… Sanchita Islam: The Rebel Within at Rich Mix
Sanchita Islam‘s enviable artistic career spans 25 years and still continues to influence and inspire her audiences today. Working as a filmmaker, artist and writer in the Borough of Tower Hamlets since 1999, Rich Mix evidently felt it time to celebrate this much-deserved practitioner; cue this multi-disciplinary exhibition presented as part of their Bangladeshi independence festival.
Islam is all about engaging her audience and her start-up company Pigment explosion is living proof of this. The core motivation behind the organisation is to create projects that engage audiences that wouldn’t usually encounter the arts and this includes everyone from older people to women suffering from domestic violence and children who live in the slums of Bangladesh. The exhibition at the Rich Mix will feature projections of her films and artworks, poetry performances and an interactive doodle room – echoing the artist’s interest in encouraging audience engagement.
The doodle room will start off as a blank canvas, simple white walls which will slowly be filled with anything and everything that its audience comes up with in response to the theme: imaginary landscapes and notions of home. The walls are open to all and there will be a variety of workshops and artist interventions dedicated to the space too. The doodle room will also be broadcast live on the web, making it a live performance.
On opening night. Islam’s imposing 30-foot scrolls will be exhibited. Each scroll depicts whole landscape panoramas, with imaginary and real elements – quite an awesome sight. As part of this multi-disciplinary show, the artist will also take part in a debate discussing the lack of high profile British Asian artists. The diversity of elements to the exhibition exemplifies Sanchita Islam’s approach to her work – and for this reason, shouldn’t be missed. (Words: Laura Thornley)
Sanchita Islam: The Rebel Within is on until April 28th. For more info visit: http://www.richmix.org.uk/whats-on/event/sanchita-islam-the-rebel-within-mar13/
11:00 am • 11 March 2013
New Post: Something you should see…Alan Brooks: City, MOTInternational
Something you should see…Alan Brooks: City, MOTInternational
London-dwellers, you and I can count ourselves among more than 80% of the British population now living in urban areas. Our own beloved city is the most diverse of Britain’s urban centres, with over a third of its population born outside of the UK. With so many people on the move around an increasingly globalised world, cities and their cultural identities are changing at a faster rate than ever before. Does there remain any collective idea of the city itself? Alan Brooks’ third exhibition at MOT International’s London gallery space is an exploration of the concept of the city, our personal perceptions of it, and what it might mean to us to inhabit one today.
No less than one hundred drawings spread across a single black-painted wall of the small gallery. They vary in size and in content: images taken from gossip magazines and from newspapers are set beside floor plans and architectural drawings, and literary fragments sit with the toilet-wall scrawlings of an anonymous small-time vandal. Every one of them is carefully rendered in pencil crayon on paper – so we are told, but it’s hard to believe. Brooks deftly manipulates his simple materials to produce a startlingly broad range of effects to match the array of source materials on show.
Previous works by Brooks have exhibited the same eye-popping levels of labour. In his last show at MOTInternational, Brooks showed 48 pencilled portraits of an (all-male) selection of artists in front of their most famous artworks. Brooks was working from images of securely canonised, artist stars of the twentieth century and although his careful copies were technically impressive, they didn’t offer any new dimension to the sources. Brooks’ City, with its sprawling collection of cultural artefacts, is more open to interpretation.
Brooks was inspired by The City: A Vision in Woodcuts, a striking pictorial novel by Belgian engraver Frans Masereel. Masereel’s bold, chunky Expressionist prints are formally a world away from Brooks’ obsessive, tightly executed pencil drawings. However both artists are united in navigating a path through the infinite narratives and histories embedded in the urban environment, and attempting to capture what it is to live in a City. (Words: Florence Ritter)
Alan Brooks: City, MOT International is on until 30th March 2013. For more info, visit: http://www.motinternational.org/alan-brooks
11:00 am • 4 March 2013
New Post: Something you should see… Poster Art 150: London Underground’s Greatest Designs at the London Transport Museum
Something you should see… Poster Art 150: London Underground’s Greatest Designs at the London Transport Museum
Whether you love or loathe the tube, it’s impossible to deny that the London Underground has commissioned some memorable artwork that has featured on its tunnel walls. So, as part of LU’s 150th anniversary celebrations, a new exhibition showcasing the best poster designs from the late 19th century ’til today is on view at the London Transport Museum. The 150 posters (naturally) were selected from the Museum’s archive of over 3,000 designs by an independent panel and chosen to reflect the range of work created to advertise the Underground. However, like most things, I suspect there are some rather contentious inclusions! Visitors to the exhibition will have the opportunity to vote for the best poster on display, with the most popular one being revealed this Autumn.
© TfL from the London Transport Museum collection
The show is arranged around themes that include famous London landmarks and events, to days out in the city and the countryside. Navigation of the Underground and “encouraging good behaviour on the network” are also exhibition topics. As for the posters themselves, well-known designs such as Man Ray’s Keeps London Going (1938) will feature alongside lesser-known works. Artwork from one of the most prolific and influential graphic designers of the 20th century, Edward McKnight Kauffer, is also being included. The American-born artist, whose designs referenced Cubism, Futurism and Surrealism, produced 140 posters in total for London Transport during the 20s and 30s. The last major London Underground poster retrospective was in 1963, so this is a rare chance to see the very best (arguably) of poster art produced for the world’s oldest subterranean railway. (Words: Eri Otite)
Poster Art 150 is on at the London Transport Museum until October 1st. For more info, visit www.ltmuseum.co.uk
© TfL from the London Transport Museum collection
11:00 am • 25 February 2013
New Post: Something you should see… Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901 at The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House
Something you should see… Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901 at The Courtauld Gallery, Somerset House
Most successful artists have a breakthrough moment in their career, when they make that leap from relative anonymity to being well-known. Pablo Picasso was no different. Becoming Picasso at the Courtauld Gallery focuses on the story of the young Spanish upstart’s breakthrough year in Paris in 1901, in which he took the French capital by storm. This exhibition brings together major paintings from his debut summer show at a gallery on rue Lafitte and explores his development as an artist during that seminal year.
In the work produced for his Paris show, Picasso reconceived the styles and subjects of other modern painters, including Degas, Toulouse-Lautrec and Van Gogh, to wide acclaim. This synthesis of styles can be appreciated in works such as Dwarf-Dancer and At the Moulin Rouge, both on display. Despite the success of his first solo show, in the latter part of 1901, Picasso’s artistic development took a new turn.
The iconic Child with a Dove appears as a transitional work at the Courtauld show, signaling the radical change in Picasso’s style. The painting, which expresses the fragility of childhood innocence, heralded the beginning of Picasso’s Blue period. Previous works of bright café scenes painted in brilliant colours gave way to works characterised by a monochromatic use of blue and blue-green tones. The themes during Picasso’s Blue period also became much darker and were partly influenced by the suicide of his best friend, Carlos Casagemas. Visitors to the Courtauld can view a death portrait of Casagemas and the funeral scene Evocation (The Burial of Casagemas) – in which the artist depicts the ascension of his friend’s soul. Much has been said about the barely dressed women in this painting, so I’ll leave you to your own interpretations. It’s worth pointing out that Child with a Dove could be lost to the UK, if attempts to keep it in the country fail. The painting was sold to a foreign buyer last year, so another good reason to get over to Somerset House to see it!
Becoming Picasso is an opportunity to experience artworks that are now considered to be the earliest masterpieces from a giant of the 20th century. With capacity limited at the Courtauld, queuing may well be the order of the day – but this is a show worth standing in line for. (Words: Eri Otite)
Becoming Picasso: Paris 1901 is on at The Courtauld Gallery until May 26. For more info, visit www.courtauld.ac.uk
11:00 am • 21 February 2013
New Post: Something you should see… Man Ray Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery
Something you should see… Man Ray Portraits at the National Portrait Gallery
The great, the good and the beautiful are all on display at the National Portrait Gallery as part of a major exhibition on the photographer Man Ray. Best known for his avant-garde images, the American artist also took portraits throughout his career and it’s these photographs that are the subject of the show. The images, which were taken between 1916 and 1968 journey through Ray’s early days in New York, his spell in Paris during the twenties and thirties, the decade spent in Hollywood and his late years in Paris until his death.
Artists and writers captured by the photographer include Picasso, Salvador Dali, James Joyce, Virginia Woolf and Marcel Duchamp. Also featured in the exhibition are fashion icon Coco Chanel and film siren Catherine Deneuve. With more than 150 vintage prints on view, these photographs really are a list of who’s who. However, there is more to this exhibition than just famous faces. Alongside these pictures of Man Ray’s contemporaries and cultural figures are the more personal portraits of friends and lovers. Included in the exhibition is one of his most famous images of lover Kiki de Montparnasse. In Le Violon d’Ingres (1924), the French cabaret performer and actress sits with her naked decorated back to the camera. The US model-turned photographer Lee Miller also makes an appearance in several prints. Miller was not only in a relationship with him, she also collaborated with him professionally.
For an artist for whom photography was never his principal artistic medium, Man Ray certainly made innovate strides with this form. He was instrumental in developing a type of photogram or what he called ‘Rayographs’ which were made by putting the image directly onto the photographic paper and is also credited along with muse Miller for inventing the process of solarisation. The use of solarisation can be seen in the portraits of Miller and of the French singer and actress Suzy Solidor. Rare examples of Man Ray’s early experiments with colour photography are also on show,
There are probably very few people who haven’t heard of the name Man Ray or seen any of his images, but as a comprehensive survey of his photographic career this exhibition is definitely worth a visit. (Words: Eri Otite)
Man Ray Portraits is on at the National Portrait Gallery until May 27th. For more info, visit www.npg.org.uk
11:00 am • 19 February 2013
New Post: Something you should see… Carl Andre: Mass & Matter at the Turner Contemporary
Something you should see… Carl Andre: Mass & Matter at the Turner Contemporary
Before Tracey and her unmade bed, there was Carl and his pile of bricks. The artist behind the notorious 1970s sculpture of ordinary bricks stacked on a gallery floor, otherwise known as Equivalent VIII, is the subject of a new exhibition at Turner Contemporary in Kent. Mass and Matter is Carl Andre’s first major show in Britain for over 10 years and features sculptures made between 1967 and 1983, as well as poems from the same period.
A leading member of the 1960s Minimalist movement, Carl is famous for his sculptures of raw building materials arranged in linear or geometric patterns directly on the floor. Several examples of Andre’s floor sculptures are on show, including Weathering Piece (1970) – a giant chessboard formed from weather-beaten and oxidized metal plates. Many of the floor pieces were also conceived by Andre to be experienced by the spectator, as well as looked at – so, visitors to the Turner can walk across the metal sheets that make up 4 x 25 Altstadt Rectangle (1967). Andre has experimented with brick configurations throughout his career and a number of these works are on view. The piece 60 x 1 Range Work (1983) which has been described, as resembling ‘an enormous Toblerone’, is one of his more recent. Alas, the ‘controversial’ Equivalent VIII is not being exhibited which is a shame, as it would’ve been nice to see what all that fuss was about!
The re-ordered individual words and phrases that characterise the poetry at the show reference Andre’s approach to constructing his sculptural forms. Words in Andre’s poems (just like a wood block or a brick) are used as solitary units to be repeated, stacked or boxed. For the generation of artists who followed, Carl Andre redefined the nature of sculpture – it could consist of ordinary materials, didn’t have to be carved and could be set straight on the floor. Even though, he’s mostly known in Britain for the stir he caused back in the seventies, there is more to Carl Andre and his pile of bricks – and it’s worth leaving the capital to see. (Words: Eri Otite)
Carl Andre: Mass & Matter is on at the Turner Contemporary until May 6th. For more info, visit www.turnercontemporary.org
11:13 am • 8 February 2013