Archives for posts with tag: Culture

Guy Allott @ Madder 139

I caught this exhibition a couple of weeks ago on a sunny Saturday. They seem to be few and far between these days (sigh). Madder 139 is a tastefully converted victorian structure which, with the strategic inclusion of some Velux windows, literally glowed with the warmth of the sunshine.

Guy Allott paints what he describes as “half real” places. Part landscape, part surrealist adventure. Psyche meets Vista. Some of the canvases exhibit rich fauvist palettes and Van Gogh like brush work, but these gestural brush strokes only reveal themselves when you inspect them more closely.

Other works remain brightly coloured but monochromatic. It’s interesting to see the two disciplines of landscape painting and illustrative surrealism coexist on the same canvas.

When I’m faced with a beautiful view the things that run through my mind are often anything but related to what’s in front of me. That for me is where Allott finds a sweet spot. These paintings present a fairly truthful representation of the human conciseness in action.

Well that’s my opinion anyway. Care to input?

The exhibition has finished.

BA Art Practice @ Goldsmiths

I though this graduate show deserved a post because a) there was some great work and b) they produced a lovely catalogue of the show and not only that, they gave it away free!

I’d never been to Goldsmiths college before and can now understand why it is such a successful art college. How can you not be inspired when this is the view from your studio window:

So without further ado here are my favourite ten works in no particular order:

Alex-jeronymides-noire : A crazy potato sound system. (how could he know i love crazy potato sound systems?

Pedro Magalhes: Don’t you ever have an urge to call a number written on the street. I do. I’m gonna call this one when i summon the nerve.

Emma Sinclair: Harnessing youtube to make a rather interesting microwave based fireworks display.

Taneisha Kitchen: Bondage taxidermy.

Jolene Farren: Architectural and abstract

Kyungmin Lee (detail): Unusual bubble abstracts

Rose Fooks: The room smelt of cheap perfume. Thats not a title, it did smell.

Dominique Dunand-Clarke: Nelson esque office spaces.

Kat Day: taking you into the virtual world of a dolls house.

Joanna Ng Shuhui: Adding human sound effects to everyday moving inanimate objects, surprisingly enjoyable.

That’s all. Roll on the Postgraduate show.

Luke Rudolf @ Kate MacGarry

Luke Rudolf’s paintings are a joy ride for the senses. My eyes can’t help but follow every line, inspect every texture, daub and hard edge prism. I could easily spend all day pondering the effort that was lavished on them.

The canvases are full of visual obstacles, bi-polar emotions and art history references. Look carefully and you will see Lichtenstein, Miro, Picasso and Auerbach. You will also see graphic and technological influences. Rudolf has created a monster of addition, but boy is it an attractive beast.

I’m imagining a Jekyll and Hyde storyline emerging in the artist’s studio. The “Hyde” Rudolf thrashes about at night attacking the canvas violently, using paint mixed on the floor. The “Jekyll” Rudolf has to pick up the pieces the next day. He’s analytical, calm and controlled, placing prismic and looping vectors skilfully across the canvas to make amends for his alter ego.

I look at these works and wonder how something can be so out of control but so precise? Rudolf pulls off what would be an impossible balancing act for most painters, with absolute grace.

Some people will call these portraits garish and ugly. Don’t believe them. Look closely, they are full of beauty and poise. They are living breathing visages and they need to tell you something important….

come closer…………


Truly magnificent and worthy of at least half an hour of your life.

Runs until 14th July

Slade MFA @ UCL

Visited the MFA show at the weekend. Quick post but wanted to share this photo as i thought the dressing of the main building was absolutely incredible, something that wouldn’t look out of place in Venice Bienalle.

Overall the work inside was variable but there were some notable exceptions:

This photographer. I didn’t get a name. Can anyone help?

And the ever impressive Alexander Ball:

Worth a look if you’re in the area. I think you’ve got till Friday.

Song Dong @ Barbican Curve

The Barbican Curve presents a new iteration of Song Dong’s “Waste not” and it’s wonderful. What makes it special is the story behind it’s creation. It’s a monumental collection of over 10’000 objects hoarded by the artists mother throughout her life and subsequently after the death of her husband in 2002 (she herself died in an accident in 2009). The artist, his wife and sister continue to look after the collection and install iterations in galleries worldwide.

It was an piece created to offer focus and therapy to a loved one who lost someone. And now it’s a living growing artwork to signify the artists family, past, present and perhaps future. Song Dong talks about his wish for it to be an ongoing project, one that his children will continue after he has passed away. Curation becomes the subject not the context. It’s a single object with another purpose. Who could imagine that junk could become such a touching group portrait.

Hoarding is a hot subject at the moment. “Britain’s worst hoarders” is making a splash on Ch4, at the same time as this Barbican show. I have my other half to thank for introducing me to the reality TV version but i’m glad i saw it. It allows me to witness how a universal theme can be treated differently within culture.

The High Art version wins. Hands down. (i’m biased obviously). Song Dongs work will live on and touch people. Quick to be forgotten will be Keith the hoarder from Gravesend who refused to chuck out his dead dogs blanket. (although I do feel for him equally).

In the 90’s Emin made the junk filled bed autobiographical. But that was punky and brash. Song Dong has delivered this monumental artwork in a typically Chinese manner; Studious, modest and efficient. It doesn’t scream at you. A little piece of it hooks on to you forever.

I especially enjoyed the middle class tourist  who entered the curve and instantly declared “God! What has art come to!”. One patient gallery assistant proceeded to explain the story behind the work. The lady instantly looked a sheepish. Perhaps in those brief few moments she spent there, she considered her own mortality, and what will be left to remember her. I smirked like the smug arty git i am.

You’ve got till the 12th of June. Get a wiggle on.

Marcus Coates @ Kate MacGarry

Marcus Coates is an eccentric (to say the least) conceptual artist. His work centres around the link between the human and animal world, often refashioning himself in the mindset and image of an animal to become a conduit between the two worlds and to aid communication between the inhabitants of both.

Looking at the work “crucifixes for various amphibians 1973 – 2000”  He appears to have began his artistic career torturing animals rather than channeling their thoughts, but he was only 5 so i’ll let him off. We’ve all tortured a few animals in our time (i remember getting a newt stoned with my mate Piers once).

Coates work makes me laugh. I really like his “Self portrait underground (worcestershire)”, pictured top, that really made me chuckle. There is no doubt that if Marcus had experienced a less supportive upbringing he would probably be that strange man who sleeps rough and everyone knows in your local town but crosses the road to avoid. But i bet we all secretly wish we could live a life free of societies self imposed boundaries. And to top it off Coates is getting paid for it. Who’s laughing now?

Don’t go and see this exhibition, it’s finished.

You can always visit this shiny website to find out more:

Sarah Lucas “Situation” @ Sadie Coles

Sarah Lucas is putting on a series of exhibitions in the upper rooms of the New Burlington street gallery. Featuring recent and historical works. She is responding to the environment and the space, hence the title “situation”.

Lucas’s work has been consistent in it’s concept and ability to garner controversy since the 1990’s ; Euphemistic, tactile and emblematic in reference to the body and gender roles. While i was there a precession of well educated yummy mummies passed through dragging their kids with them. A risky manoeuvre in my opinion, far too much explaining to do.

The exhibition transmitted a gentle luridness. It’s sculpture you want to touch, but if you did you might feel a bit guilty afterwards, something akin to a post onanistic indulgence. So i didn’t touch it because one, I didn’t fancy an in gallery libido crash, and two, the gallery assistant was watching.

What made the exhibition exciting for me was the space in which it was hosted. Off the beaten track, it was an intimate, treasure hunt experience. leaving me with a “i’ve found a secret place” feeling.

Lucas’s work still has impact. It’s evident that she continues to influence new artists and the contemporary scene in general.

Runs throughout 2012.

Sarah Lucas @ Sadie Coles

The Catlin Art Prize @ London Newcastle Project Space

More Collectors than ever seem to be happy to take a risk on a young artist . For those looking for something exciting and challenging, emerging artists can offer affordable unique works. (Lets face it, no one really wants editions).

One reason more people are buying “new” is the high cost of established artists driven by the increased demand for contemporary art in general. Another reason is that financial speculators see what happened to Hirst’s values over the last 20 years and want a piece of the action.

There’s also something else i believe thats driving purchase of new work, and it’s down to the rise of online curation. Cool hunting as it’s also known. New art imagery is snapped up and propagated on websites, tumblrs and blogs (look, you’re reading this now). What this does is create is a PR network for artists within the target market that is buying work: 30 something, digital savvy, highly paid, creative professionals. When an young artist is suddenly appearing worldwide, you’re getting some guarantee of “good” and thus more inclined to buy in.

The Catlin Art Prize is a prime example of the cult of the new. A great venue, great curator, great artists and hefty financial support from a sponsor enabling it to happen.  I thought the exhibition was brilliant. A really impressive show any artist would be happy to be a part of, even an established one. I listened to people chatting excitedly at the show, students i think, hoping it was going to be them next year. (and this was two days after the private view) My photos really don’t do justice to the quality of the hanging and the lighting. It was top class.

So if you’re a collector you can thank Art Catlin for making it tougher to find that fantastic new artist before everyone else. And we all know it’s not going to get any easier (or cheaper)

Here are my favourite three artists from the show:

First: Ali Kazim

My vote for best in show went to Kazim. His work is more reserved than a lot of the other artists, but still waters run deep. Kazim demonstrates incredible craft, emotional depth, and multi disciplinary talent. His obtuse self portraits, executed in pigment we’re so technically brilliant it was as if he was laying himself bare for everyone to see. The clincher though was Untitled (heart). A sculpture of gentle magnitude. Executed in human hair it was an beautiful metaphor for the fragility of the human spirit. I expect big things for him.

Second: Max Dovey

I really liked Dovey’s work. The idea of capturing the last day of terrestrial analogue TV resonated with me. All of a sudden I was a kid again, watching older relatives run around like headless chickens attempting to record the entire Live Aid concert, unaware that pretty soon technology would render this practice redundant. Dovey’s cassette collection is more likely to contain Jeremy Kyle and Quick Cash! loan ads, but I think it’s a more profound snapshot of society than anything else.

The Last day of TV is part document, part monument, part personal statement, and probably the best use of increasingly rare VHS tapes, ever. (Although with all conceptual artists I always sort of think they’re having me on, and those tapes are probably all blank, but then who’s going to be able to watch them soon? Dovey’s got us over a barrel). I’ll be watching closely to see if Dovey continues to create engaging executions whilst capturing the zeitgeist. If so, perhaps he’s got something.

Third: Jonny Briggs

Briggs has been getting plenty of shine recently. He’s currently at the Saatchi Gallery and seems to be the artist of the moment. The reason he’s in my top three is his mastery of a wide range of mediums. In the last year i have seen strong video, sculpture and photographic work from him. I don’t know if i connect with it on a personal level (strange, because i like dark work) But his executional skill and mastery of theatre within an image impresses me. A Standout work for me is “Regeneration”

The Catlin Art prize runs until 25th May. Go see it.

There might not be another show as strong as this till Art Catlin 2013.

Makiko Kudo @ Wilkinson

What’s going on with Britain? The Economy’s going to hell in a handcart, the government is on a cutting spree and Gorgeous Galloway has managed to blag a seat in parliament. In the current atmosphere of disillusionment and all those other depressing things, people need a little escapism. Especially young people who don’t have a job or much to look forward to, they aren’t interested in the realities of politics or current affairs. They want to disappear deep into online worlds where they can act out a more interesting life.

This sentiment is in someways captured by Makiko Kudo’s oil painting’s, although she may not be aware of the UK’s socio-political climate. They are an interesting correlation of modern anime,  computer game context, fauvist colour palette and impressionist form. From a distance they may seem like any standard japanese graphic novel but upon closer inspection you will be able to experience the lush textured brushwork and loose gestural application of vividly coloured of paint.

Most fantasy cartoon worlds normally contain an optimistic happy character searching actively for their destiny. But in these paintings the main characters play a much more passive role. Seemingly bereft and directionless they are at the mercy of their surroundings. It’s a bit like  reading a obscure japanese manga comic whilst listening to The Smiths.

But to be clear these canvases are not comics.  They are emotionally rich, beautiful to look at and pack quite a punch. I’d definitely like one on my wall (if i had a wall big enough)

Abigail Box @ Degree Art

Apparently there are 5 things that you need to do to make your Youtube video go viral:

1. Music

2. Surprise

3. Cuteness

4. Boobs

5. Humour

And anything with a cat in. I’m a sucker for a video with a cat in. A grown man that can’t help but go all gooey eyed at a puss, *Awww look how cute it is.*

So on purpose or not (you decide) graduating painter Abigal Box has ticked around three (depending on your opinion) of these viral requirements when putting together her new paintings.

Tigers (cute) on Sofas (funny) in urban surroundings (surprising. Well sort of.)

Looking at all the red dots and the price of the canvases, it’s good news for Abigail. But i wonder, has she’s done herself any favours? Would a serious collector pick up her work after seeing these pictures?  I don’t think i would. Should the gallery be advising her on stuff like this? She’s a pretty good painter, she could do alright.

But then who am i to argue with 13 million people:


*Goes back to watch Maru the cat for the 20th time*

Runs Till 27th April.