The sacredness and vulnerability of all living forms

Current art exhibition: Paloma Varga Weisz
Wild Bunch
Sadie Coles HQ, London, UK
9 June – 24 August 2018

It was a real pleasure to see the work of Paloma Varga Weisz recently at the Sadie Coles gallery in London. I enjoy discovering artists with such a high level of craftsmanship and precision on their work, who manage to inspire the audience so much by bringing them into their private micro-universes.

As we went into the gallery space, the first thing that came into view was a puppet made of limewood hanging from the ceiling. A life-sized naked body that hangs helplessly on ropes in the air. He has an expression of abandonment and vulnerability.

The central piece described above is surrounded by smaller figures displayed in a rather traditional manner on top of small plinths attached to the wall. This allows you to appreciate the works at closer distance and see how textured and tactile they are. It’s even possible to smell the wood, as if they had been recently cast by the artist. The space invite you to silence and reflection.

The experience resembles that of entering a medieval church where all the sacred figures are displayed on little plinths for pilgrims to worship; only that in this case all figures are pagan. In a close inspection we can appreciate some of them are like magical anthropomorphic figures, odd hybrid forms usually loaded with personal and collective motifs. We seem to venerate here the sacredness in all living forms.

Varga Weisz is a sculptor and draughtswoman who was trained in traditional techniques of woodcarving, modelling and casting in Bavaria before attending art school in Düsseldorf in the 1990s. She lives and works in Düsseldorf, Germany.

For this art exhibition at Sadie Coles, we only present one photo with The art berries merging with the artworks. The art blackberry further enhances the air of vulnerability and abandonment of the central figure by joining it on the floor like if we were contemplating a group of artworks, well composed.

Interested in craftsmanship? Read the art review and see the photos I did a few months ago on the latest art show of Martin Puryear at Parasol Unit, London.


La sacralidad y vulnerabilidad de todas las formas de vida
Paloma Varga Weisz
Wild Bunch
Sadie Coles HQ, Londres, Reino Unido
9 de junio – 24 de agosto de 2018

Fue un verdadero placer ver recientemente el trabajo de Paloma Varga Weisz en la galería Sadie Coles en Londres. Me encanta descubrir artistas con un alto nivel de artesanía y precisión en su trabajo, que logran llevar al público a su micro-universo e inspirar a su audiencia.

Según entramos en el espacio de la galería, lo primero que se ve es una marioneta hecha de tilo colgando del techo. Un cuerpo desnudo de tamaño natural que cuelga impotente de cuerdas en el aire con expresión de abandono y vulnerabilidad.

La pieza central descrita arriba está rodeada por figuras más pequeñas que se muestran de manera bastante tradicional sobre pequeños pedestals pegados a la pared. Esto te permite apreciar los trabajos a una distancia más cercana y apreciar su textura y tactilidad. Incluso es posible oler la madera, como si hubieran sido esculpidos recientemente por el artista. El espacio te invita al silencio y la reflexión.

La experiencia se asemeja a la de entrar en una iglesia medieval donde todas las figuras sagradas se muestran en pequeños pedestales para ser adoradas por sus peregrinos; solo que en este caso todas las figuras son paganas. En una inspección minuciosa podemos apreciar que algunos de ellos son como figuras antropomórficas mágicas, extrañas formas híbridas generalmente cargadas de motivos personales y colectivos. Parece que veneramos aquí lo sagrado en todas las formas de vida.

Varga Weisz es una escultora y dibujante que se entrenó en técnicas tradicionales de tallado en madera, modelado y fundición en Baviera antes de asistir a la escuela de arte en Düsseldorf en la década de 1990. Vive y trabaja en Düsseldorf, Alemania.

Para esta exposición de arte en Sadie Coles, sólo presentamos una foto de The art berries fusionándonos con las obras de arte. The art blackberry realza aún más el aire de vulnerabilidad y abandono de la figura central uniéndose en el suelo. Parece que estuviéramos contemplando un grupo de obras de arte, bien compuesto.

Interesado en la artesanía? Lee la reseña de arte y mira las fotos que hice hace unos meses en la última muestra de arte de Martin Puryear en Parasol Unit, Londres.

Paloma Varga Weisz-The art blackberry

Paloma Varga Weisz-Sadie Coles 1Paloma Varga Weisz-human-lambPaloma Varga Weisz-multiple-breastsPaloma Varga Weisz-monkey

The struggle in all artistic pursuits

Franz West
Sisyphos sculptures
Gagosian, Davies Street, London, UK
June 8 – July 27, 2018

In Greek mythology Sisyphus or Sisyphos was the first king of Ephyra, who was punished by Zeus for his deceitfulness and proudness and forced to roll a heavy boulder up a steep hill, only for it to roll down when it nears the top, repeating this action for eternity.

The last art exhibition there was at the Gagosian in Davies Street, London, by Franz West (Vienna, 1947 – Vienna, 2012) referred to the myth told above. The show ended last week, so you’ll have to see these artworks somewhere else they travel to. But, I wanted to share them with you nevertheless, because I think that the sculptures are beautiful and I like the photos we did when we performed at the art space.

Belonging to a generation of artists exposed to the Actionist and Performance Art of the 1960s and 70s, Franz West rejected the idea of a passive relationship between artwork and viewer. He investigated the dichotomy between private and public, action and reaction, both in and outside the gallery, and used everyday materials and imagery to examine art’s relation to social experience.

The Sisyphus myth the artist referred to with this show at the Gagosian gallery is an exploration of the unrelenting frustration of the creative process, the struggle involved in all artistic pursuits that artists and creative people in general are so familiar with.

Franz West unconventional sculpures often require an involvement of the audience, so they are the perfect example of artworks The art berries like to perform with. The ones where the artist encourages the interaction and don’t see our performance as an interference in their work. Having said that, I do believe that everyone should be free to interact with art and enjoy the arts as they please, as long as the artworks are respected. And that is indeed one of the missions of The art berries project.

For the photos displayed here we played with the notions of hide and exposure frequently touched by the artist in his career. Also by lying on the floor, we seem to be resting from the Sisyphean creative struggle. Only for a moment!


La lucha en todas las actividades artísticas

Franz West
Esculturas de Sísifo
Gagosian, Davies Street, Londres, Reino Unido
8 de junio – 27 de julio de 2018

En la mitología griega, Sísifo o Sisyphos fue el primer rey de Ephyra, que fue castigado por Zeus por su comportamiento engañoso y su orgullo, y obligado a rodar una pesada roca por una colina empinada, solo para que ruede cuando se acerca a la cima, repitiendo esta acción por toda la eternidad.

La última exposición de arte que hubo en la galería Gagosian de Londres del artista Franz West (Viena, 1947 – Viena, 2012) se refería al mito mencionado anteriormente. La muestra terminó la semana pasada, por lo que tendrás que ver estas obras de arte en otra galería o museo al que viajen. Pero, quería compartirlas contigo, porque creo que las esculturas son bonitas y me gustan las fotos resultantes de la interacción con las esculturas en este espacio.

Perteneciente a una generación de artistas expuestos al Actionist y Performance Art de los años 60 y 70, Franz West rechazó la idea de una relación pasiva entre obra de arte y espectador. Investigó la dicotomía entre lo privado y lo público, la acción y la reacción, tanto dentro como fuera de la galería, y utilizó materiales e imágenes cotidianas para examinar la relación del arte con la experiencia social.

El mito de Sísifo al que el artista se refirió con esta exposición en la galería Gagosian es una exploración de la frustración del proceso creativo, la lucha permanente que rodea a todas las actividades artísticas con las que los artistas y las personas creativas en general estamos tan familiarizados.

 

Las esculturas no convencionales de Franz West a menudo requieren la participación de la audiencia, por lo que son el ejemplo perfecto de obras de arte con las que nos gusta hacer un ‘performance’ a The art berries. Aquellas en los que el artista fomenta la interacción y no ve nuestro ‘perfomance’ como una interferencia en su trabajo. Habiendo dicho eso, creo que el público debería ser libre de interactuar con el arte y disfrutar del arte como le plazca, siempre y cuando se respeten las obras de arte. Y esa es de echo una de las misiones del proyecto The art berries.

Para las fotos que se muestran aquí, jugamos con las nociones de ocultar y mostrar que con frecuencia tocó el artista en su carrera. También al tumbarnos en el suelo parece que descansamos de la lucha creativa de Sísifo. Sólo por un momento!

Franz West - TheartblueberryFranz West - big sculpure

The stories that resonate with us

Joan Jonas
Tate Modern, London, UK
14 March – 5 August

If you’re interested in performance art, you’re in luck, because there’s now an art exhibition at Tate Modern focused on the work of Joan Jonas, a pioneer of performance, video and installation and one of the most important female artists to emerge in the late 1960s and early 1970s.

Jonas was born in 1936 in New York City and after finishing her degree in Art History, she went to specialise in sculpture. But, immersed in the New York’s downtown art scene of the 1960s she  began experimenting with performance, video and props after studying with influential choreographer Trisha Brown for two years, and working with choreographers Yvonne Rainer and Steve Paxton in the 1960s.

This art exhibition at Tate Modern showcases Joan Jonas’s great contribution to art over the last five decades, uniting some of her most important pieces. The exhibition is curated by Andrea Lissoni in close collaboration with the artist.

The show is ordered by subject, as we can see how Jonas sometimes revisited topics various times throughout her career. She takes inspiration from different cultures and sources, from fairy tales to myths and local folklore, adapting them to relate to contemporary life.  Using props, mirrors and video screens she creates a complex layering of images that serve her to convey her interest in music, female identity, the environment, as well as natural and urban landscapes.

As we came into the show we could see a range of objects from Jonas’ personal collections, such as masks, wooden animals and items collected on her travels, and the following text in a caption: “one object next to another is like making a visual poem”. It was certainly like entering the individual universe of the artist, something I particularly enjoy.

The second room gave us a selections of the different art performances Jonas had done throughout the years in collaboration with other artists listed here: Benjamin Blackwell, David Crossley, Babette Mangolte, Richard Landry, Gwen Thomas, Gianfranco Gorgoni, Peter Moore, Larry Bell, Roberta Neiman, Beatrice Heyligers and Giorgio Colombo. This room gave us a view of two of her earliest performances such as “Mirror Pieces” (1968-71), in which she alters the audience perception of space using mirror as the central motif, and “Organic Honey Visual Telepaphy” (1972), where Jonas scans her own fragmented image onto a video screen.

The next room of the exhibition was “The Juniper Tree” an installation created in 1994 that evolved from performances staged in 1976 and 1978. I was mesmerised by this installation and intrigued by the story in which it was based. It refers to the Brothers Grimm fairy tale about a little boy who was beheaded by his stepmother and eaten by his father, before being reincarnated as a bird with the help of this stepsister. The juniper tree is where the boy’s mother had been buried and where he was buried by his stepmother before a beautiful bird flied out from it. The bird kills his stepmother by dropping a stone on her head and turned back into a boy to live happily ever after with his father and stepsister. Joan Jonas performed with this installation in various places, alone and collaboratively, and the version conserved here is the last one from 1978.

The art raspberry used her own intuition to perform next to “The Juniper Tree”, adding a new interpretation to the artwork. She saw herself as the tree that was present and muted throughout the story, and somehow an ally to the boy.

Jonas’ passion of story-telling was evident also in “Lines in the Sand” (2002), an installation and performance created for Documenta 11, in which Jonas reworks the myth of Helen of Troy to explore contemporary political events. And by the end of exhibition, we could see “Double Lunar Rabbits” (2010) in which she draws inspiration from the story of a rabbit on the moon, both a Japanese myth and Aztec fable.

However, some of my favourite pieces in this show were contained in a room with multiples references to birds. We could see them projected on screens, hanging from the ceiling, painted on canvas. I remembered how I used to dream that I could fly when I was little and I felt tempted to become one of them once again.

Finally, we saw some of her latest pieces in a different room downstair, with not much lighting and a really strong ritualistic feeling. There Jonas touches issues of climate change and animal extinction, subjects that are central to the artist’s current practice.


Las historias que resuenan con nosotros

Joan Jonas
Tate Modern, Londres, Reino Unido
Del 14 de marzo al 5 de agosto

Si te interesa el arte del ‘performance’, estás de suerte, porque ahora hay una exposición de arte en Tate Modern (Londres) centrada en el trabajo de Joan Jonas, pionera del arte del ‘performance’, video e instalación y una de las artistas femeninas más importantes que surgieron a finales de la década de 1960 y principios de la de 1970.

Jonas nació en 1936 en la ciudad de Nueva York y después de terminar sus estudios en Historia del Arte, se especializó en escultura. Pero, inmersa en la escena artística del centro de la ciudad de Nueva York de la década de 1960, comenzó a experimentar con performance, video y accesorios después de estudiar con la influyente coreógrafa Trisha Brown durante dos años y trabajar con los coreógrafos Yvonne Rainer y Steve Paxton en la década de 1960.

Esta exposición en Tate Modern muestra la gran contribución de Joan Jonas al arte en las últimas cinco décadas, uniendo algunas de sus piezas más importantes. La exposición está comisariada por Andrea Lissoni en estrecha colaboración con la artista.

La muestra está ordenada por temas, ya que Jonas vuelve a tocar los mismos temas varias veces a lo largo de su carrera. Se inspira en diferentes culturas y fuentes, pasando por cuentos de hadas, mitos y folclore local, y adaptándolos para relacionarlos con la vida contemporánea. Utilizando accesorios, espejos y pantallas de video crea una compleja colección de imágenes que le sirven para transmitir su interés en la música, la identidad femenina, el medio ambiente, así como en paisajes naturales y urbanos.

Cuando entramos a la exposición pudimos ver una variedad de objetos de la colección personal de Jonas, como máscaras, animales de madera y objetos recogidos en sus viajes junto con el siguiente mensaje escrito en una leyenda: “un objeto al lado del otro es como hacer un poema visual “. Ciertamente fue como entrar en el universo individual del artista, algo que disfruto particularmente.

 

La segunda sala ofrece una selección de las diferentes representaciones artísticas que Jonas hizo a lo largo de los años en colaboración con otros artistas incluidos aquí: Benjamin Blackwell, David Crossley, Babette Mangolte, Richard Landry, Gwen Thomas, Gianfranco Gorgoni, Peter Moore, Larry Bell, Roberta Neiman, Beatrice Heyligers y Giorgio Colombo. Esta sala presenta dos de sus primeras actuaciones como: “Mirror Pieces” (1968-71), en la que altera la percepción del espacio en el público utilizando el espejo como motivo central, y “Organic Honey Visual Telepaphy” (1972) , donde Jonas proyecta su propia imagen fragmentada en una pantalla de video.

La siguiente sala de la exposición es “The Juniper Tree”, una instalación creada en 1994 que evolucionó a partir de las ‘performances’ realizadas en 1976 y 1978. Me cautivó esta instalación y me intrigó la historia en la que se basaba. Se refiere al cuento de hadas de los hermanos Grimm sobre un niño que fue decapitado por su madrastra y comido por su padre, antes de reencarnarse en un pájaro con la ayuda de su hermanastra. El árbol de enebro es donde la madre del niño había sido enterrada y donde el niño fué enterrado por su madrastra antes de que un hermoso pájaro volara desde allí. El pájaro mata a su madrastra arrojándole una piedra en la cabeza y se vuelve a convertir en un niño que vive feliz para siempre con su padre y su hermanastra. Joan Jonas actuó con esta instalación en varios lugares, sóla y en colaboración, y la versión que se presenta aquí es la última de 1978.

‘The art raspberry’ usó su propia intuición con esta obra de “The Juniper Tree” para el ‘performance’ y añadió una nueva interpretación a la obra de arte. Ella es el árbol de enebro que esta presente y en silencio a lo largo de la historia, y es de alguna manera un aliado del niño.

La pasión de Jonas por contar historias también se hizo evidente en “Lines in the Sand” (2002), una instalación y performance creada para Documenta 11, en la que Jonas recrea el mito de Helena de Troya para explorar eventos políticos contemporáneos. Y al final de la exposición, pudimos ver “Double Lunar Rabbits” (2010) en el que se inspira en la historia de un conejo en la luna, un mito japonés y una fábula azteca.

Sin embargo, algunas de mis piezas favoritas en esta muestra de arte están en una sala con múltiples referencias a pájaros. Se pueden ver proyectados en pantallas, colgando del techo, pintados sobre lienzo. Recordé cómo solía soñar que podía volar cuando era niña y me sentí tentada a volver a ser uno de ellos.

Finalmente, vimos algunas de sus últimas piezas en una habitación inferior, sin demasiada iluminación y con un fuerte sentimiento ritual. Allí Jonas toca los problemas del cambio climático y la extinción de los animales, temas que son fundamentales para la práctica actual de la artista.

Joan Jonas-Juniper Tree1

Joan Jonas-Juniper Tree3

Joan Jonas-climbing

Joan Jonas-Birds1

Joan Jonas-Bird2

Binding to change perceptions

Seung-taek Lee
White Cube – Mason’s Yard, London, UK.
25 May 2018 – 30 June 2018

The art raspberry and I visited the White Cube at Mason’s Yard in London last week and discovered the work of Seung-taek Lee, a Korean interdisciplinary artist who’s best known for conceptualising in the notion of “anti-concept” or “anti-art”. Trained as a sculptor, he has worked as a performance artist and is one of the first generation pioneers of experimental art in South Korea.

Since the beginning of his career as an artist in the late 1950s, Lee worked independently from the dominant art scene in South Korea, while most artists and art critics followed western art trends as the only way to survive. He claimed these artists were unaware of their own identity and started experimenting in order to understand the true nature of Korean modern art. Having said that, his artworks from the 1960s and 1970s have been associated to art movements such as Land Art, Arte Povera and Post-Minimalism.

This art show at the White Cube Mason’s Yard gallery in London is Lee’s first solo art exhibition in the UK that comprises artworks from the 1960s until today and reveals his interest in materiality and cultural identity.

One of the main characteristics of his art practice involves the binding of found objects, natural or existing architectural structures, as a means of suggesting the transformability of their inherent material properties. This feature can be appreciated on works that seem completely different from each other. In fact, the art exhibition spreads between two floors, and at first sight the artworks at ground level seemed to come from a different artist to the ones placed at basement level.

At ground level, all artworks look organic and close to nature. Various sculptures are made of granite, a material used widely in Korea for outdoor monuments for its durability. Lee’s artworks look  soft and even sensual. Some of them are placed at floor level, without a plinth, so they seem more accessible. With  two other works, he ties small pieces of granite with rope or wire to confuse the viewer’s perception.

As Lee has declared at some point, the work’s visual impact comes from the “tension between the wooden bar, precariously hung from two thin cords, and the clusters of bifurcated stones that effectively conjure a sense of gravitational pressure”.

The art berries’ photo of one of these works with The art raspberry immediately below the stones accentuate this feeling of threat from the stones and vulnerability of the model.

At this level, we could also see framed works made of ropes on canvas referred to as ‘canvas drawings’. The artist used the ropes as an alternative to the usual lines drawn on paper, and the knots and loose ends of these works acquire a more tactile nature.

Lastly, at basement level, we could see the recreated monumental vinyl structures from the 1960s with striking bright colours. Originally, they were first made of sheets of cheap, factory produced vinyl and has been recreated for this exhibition using urethane vinyl of greater durability but similar look. They clearly contrast with the neutral and organic colours of the ground floor gallery. However, the enveloping and the bound or tied subject remains central to Lee’s art practice here as well. I enjoyed performing with the big vinyl structures. The quietness of this floor surrounded by dim lighting invited to mindfulness.

The ‘binding’ of objects is an artistic strategy and symbolic gesture of subversion used by Lee that not only destabilise the viewer’s perception but it also questions the existing form, the intended function and meaning of the bound object.


Esta es la primera entrada que hago en español. Espero que esto sirva para acercar la escena artística en Londres al mundo hispano parlante.

Amarrar para cambiar percepciones

Seung-taek Lee
White Cube – Mason’s Yard, Londres, Reino Unido.
25 May 2018 – 30 June 2018

The art raspberry y yo visitamos la galeria White Cube en Mason’s Yard en Londres la semana pasada y descubrimos el trabajo de Seung-taek Lee, un artista interdisciplinario coreano que es más conocido por conceptualizar en la noción de “anti-concepto” o “anti-arte”. Formado como escultor, Lee ha trabajado como performance artist y es pionero del arte experimental en Corea del Sur.

Desde el principio de su trayectoria artística a finales de los cincuenta, Lee trabajó independientemente de la escena artística dominante en Corea del Sur, mientras que la mayoría de los artistas y críticos de arte de entonces seguían las tendencias de arte occidental como la única forma de sobrevivir en este campo. Lee pensaba que estos artistas desconocían su propia identidad y comenzó a experimentar para comprender la verdadera naturaleza del arte moderno coreano. Dicho esto, sus obras de arte de los años sesenta y setenta se han asociado a movimientos artísticos como Land Art, Arte Povera y Post Minimalismo.

Esta exposición de arte en la galería White Cube Mason’s Yard en London es la primera muestra en solitario de Lee en el Reino Unido que comprende obras de arte desde la década de 1960 hasta la actualidad y revela su interés en la materialidad y la identidad cultural.

Una de las principales características de su práctica artística consiste en atar objetos encontrados, naturales o estructuras arquitectónicas existentes, como forma de sugerir la capacidad de transformación de sus propiedades materiales inherentes. Esta característica se puede apreciar en trabajos que parecen completamente diferentes entre sí. De hecho, la exposición de arte se extiende entre dos pisos, y a primera vista las obras de arte de la planta baja parecen provenir de un artista distinto a las que hay en la galería del sótano.

En la planta baja, todas las obras de arte parecen orgánicas y más cercanas a la naturaleza. Varias esculturas están hechas de granito, un material ampliamente utilizado en Corea para monumentos al aire libre por su durabilidad. Las obras de arte de Lee se muestran suaves e incluso sensuales. Algunas de ellas son colocadas  en el suelo, sin pedestal, haciéndolas parecer mas accesibles. Con otras dos obras, ata pequeños trozos de granito con cuerda o alambre para distorsionar la percepción del espectador.

Como Lee ha declarado en algún momento, el impacto visual de la obra proviene de la “tensión entre la barra de madera, precariamente colgada de dos cuerdas delgadas, y los cúmulos de piedras bifurcadas que efectivamente evocan una sensación de presión gravitacional”.

La foto que incluye a The art raspberry inmediatamente debajo de las piedras acentúa esta sensación de amenaza de las piedras y la vulnerabilidad de la modelo.

En este nivel, también pudimos ver obras enmarcadas hechas de cuerdas sobre lienzo denominadas ‘dibujos en lienzo’. El artista utilizó las cuerdas como alternativa a las líneas habituales dibujadas sobre papel, y los nudos y cabos sueltos de estas obras adquieren una naturaleza más táctil.

Por último, a nivel del sótano, pudimos ver las estructuras de vinilo monumentales recreadas de la década de 1960 con llamativos colores brillantes. Originalmente se hicieron de láminas de vinilo de fabricación barata y se han recreado para esta exposición utilizando vinilo de uretano de mayor durabilidad pero de apariencia similar. Contrastan claramente con los colores neutros y orgánicos de la galería de la planta baja. Sin embargo, la característica fundamental en la obra de Lee en esta exposition sigue siendo la practica de atar o envolver distintos elementos. Me gusto hacer este performance con las grandes estructuras de vinilo. La iluminación y tranquilidad de esta planta invitaba a la meditación.

La practica de atar objetos es una estrategia artística y un gesto simbólico de subversión utilizado por Lee que no solo desestabiliza la percepción del espectador sino que además cuestiona la forma existente, la función y el significado del objeto atado.

Seung-taek Lee-stones

Seun taek lee-orange1

Seung-taek Lee-vinyl yellow

1932: A year of renewed creativity

Current art exhibition: Picasso 1932 – Love, Fame, Tragedy
Tate Modern, London, UK.

8 March – 9 September 2018

I’m delighted to cover the first ever solo exhibition of Pablo Picasso at Tate Modern and what is certainly the blockbuster art show of the season here in London. I believe that Picasso was one of the most relevant figures in the arts in the 20th century, and a great artist who kept exploring new artistic avenues all his life.

I liked the curating work done for this EY exhibition at Tate Modern, as I did like the one done at The National Portrait Gallery at the end of 2016 based on “Picasso Portraits“. I found the latter was excellent to showcase the artist’s capacity to redefine the portrait with each woman in his life.

Picasso said once that “The work one does is a way of keeping a diary.” The current art exhibition at Tate Modern is like a diary that takes visitors on a month-by-month journey through 1932; a year that’s been called his ‘year of wonders’ for how relevant it was from a personal and career perspective.

In his personal life, he was 50 years old and his marriage with Olga Picasso (previously Khokhlova) was under strain. The affair he was having with the significantly younger Marie-Thérèse Walter, a young woman of 22, offered him a escape and a source of inspiration for much of his work in this period. Walter is the central presence in this exhibition and who inspired him to reach a new level of sensuality with his paintings.

From a career perspective, this was the year that cemented Picasso as a celebrity within the art world. A group of Paris dealers competed to launch the first ever retrospective of his work, when retrospectives of living artists were still unusual. Matisse’s retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit in 1931 had been a rare exception and Picasso wanted to have his own too. He even declined offers from the MOMA in New York and the Venice Biennale to have his own retrospective at the Galeries Georges Petit, which happened in June 1932. Picasso took full control of the show to avoid giving too much power to his dealers. But, then he didn’t attend the opening, choosing to go to the cinema instead. That art show cemented his celebrity status and offered the first hint of having a new woman in his life.

He escaped to Boisgeloup with Marie-Thérèse Walter in July and August, and his style became faster and more fluid. She was a great swimmer, so he used this fact to showcase similarities between women and sea creatures with a strong surrealist influence.

This art exhibition presents also some of the drawings he did in charcoal in 1932. Some of them in canvas as they were works in their own right, not preparatory studies. For some paintings, he liked focusing on line and shape rather than in colour. I was lucky to see the fantastic “Picasso Black and White” exhibition held at the Guggenheim in New York in 2012, which explored the fantastic use of black and white he did throughout his career. It’d be good to see a similar art show like that in London sometime soon.

Towards the end of the show, we could see the series of drawings and paintings inspired by classical themes, both secular and religious, such as the Crucifixion, by Matthias Grunewald’s Isenheim Altarpiece and  scenes of reclining nudes and flute players, mostly associated with surrealism. Although he was sceptical of group membership of any kind. The flute players in purple and green reminded me of Chagall’s figures with a whimsical and magic touch.

The year that started with sensuous exuberance progressed into a more darkened mood after Marie-Thérèse fell very ill after swimming in the river Marne. His paintings reflected scenes of rescue and struggle. What’s more, he became increasingly anxious about the political situation there was in Europe at the time with populist nationalism and totalitarian regimes, which would eventually finish with tragedy first in Spain and then all over Europe.

Some of Picasso’s most iconic and loved works like ‘Nude woman in a red armchair’ from the Tate collection, ’Girl before a mirror’ from The Museum of Modern Art in NY or ‘The dream’ are displayed in this show . Also, I enjoyed to see two of the sculptures shown in this show created in Boisgeloup, a big bust of Marie-Thérèse and the ‘Cock’ that was a rare example among all the female figures he made; it shares the sweeping curves with them and includes a profile beneath the tail feathers. The original plaster was cast in bronze in 1952. One of The art berries’ pictures captures the ‘Cock’ and adds another profile to it.

I enjoyed this exhibition because at a time in which critics were questioning his ability to create new work, he once again redefined the tradition of western art with a new style full of sensuality, fluidity and vibrancy. Something only a great artist can do.

Fashion notes:
Raspberry wears a dress from COS stores.
Blueberry wears a shirt from Cynthia Rowley and a vintage jumper.
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Making air solid

Past art shows: Rachel Whiteread, Tate Britain
12 September 2017 – 24 January 2018

Rachel Whiteread is one of Britain’s leading contemporary artists and my favourite from the YBA group. The latest art exhibition she had at Tate Britain, London, a few months ago revealed the trajectory of her career over three decades from 1988 to date. Time in which she’s been casting the so-called “negative spaces” using a variety of materials such as plaster, resin, rubber, concrete, metal and paper. But what are Whiteread’s “negative spaces”? The air that surrounds our daily experience or the inner world of objects. We find them in our house, in toilet paper rolls, beneath chairs or inside the mattress we sleep on every night. She makes these “negative spaces” solid with her sculptures.

The original idea comes from the US artist Bruce Nauman work titled “A Cast of the Space Under My Chair” (1965-8) that Whiteread referenced in this art exhibition with her “Untitled (One Hundred Spaces)” (1995) showed across the south part of the Duveen galleries at Tate Britain; 100 casts of the underside of chairs in changing shades of coloured resin and with their own flaws. Whiteread, however, has gone further.

Her work ranges in scale from the modest to the monumental and plays with paradoxes such as capturing human wear and experience with geometric white shapes and minimalism.

Tate Britain showed Whiteread’s most important large scale sculptures such as “Untitled (Book Corridors) 1997-8” and “Untitled (Stairs) 2001”, both of which I captured on two photos here, alongside her more intimate works with domestic objects such as tables, boxes or hot water bottles. And then, in the middle of the art show stood “Untitled (Room 101)”: the plaster cast of the BBC office, demolished in 2003, which inspired George Orwell’s torture chamber in Nineteen Eighty-Four.

I first discovered Whiteread as an artist in 2005 and became intrigued with her work. She then populated the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern with a huge labyrinth-like structure entitled “Embankment” made from 14,000 casts of the inside of different boxes. She chose the form of a cardboard box because of its associations with the storage of intimate personal items and to invoke the sense of mystery surrounding ideas of what a sealed box might contain.

Born in London in 1963, Whiteread studied painting at Brighton Polytechnic and sculpture at the Slade School of Fine Art. She was the first woman to win the Turner Prize in 1993 and went on to represent Britain at the 1997 Venice Biennale. She first came to public attention with the unveiling of her first public commission “House” in London’s East End in 1993. A concrete cast of the interior of an entire Victorian terraced house with imprints or doors, windows and fireplaces in great detail. The house only stood for a few months before its demolition, but heralded Whiteread’s life-long project as an artist: fusing domestic narratives with brutalist architecture and minimalism.

Rachel Whiteread exhibition at Tate Britain was curated by Ann Gallagher and Linsey Young. The exhibition was co-organised with the National Gallery of Art, Washington, curated by Molly Donovan, where it will be shown in autumn 2018, and will also tour to the 21er Haus Vienna and the Saint Louis Art Museum.

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The plasticity of a surreal dream

Past shows: Karla Black, Stuart Shave/Modern Art
17 Nov – 16 Dec 2017

We attended this exhibition in November last year and really liked discovering Karla Black’s new body of work. With this exhibition she attempted to emphasise the importance of mark-making in her practice, which combined with colour and light connects her sculptural practice to painting.

Moreover, she concentrated specifically on one of the many sculptural problems that preoccupies her: how to preserve the precious, formal aesthetic decisions she makes, within the precariousness of the informal materials she favours. Many of the works in the exhibition were conceived and realised within the gallery space. As she’s asserted in the past, her sculpture is absolutely non-representational.

“There is no image, no metaphor,” Karla Black said.

In the first room, there were free standing sculptures made of Vaseline mixed with paint, then sealed between glass screens. In addition, we found hanging sculptures in the same materials and in clay, wool and spray paint across the whole show. In the second room, there were floor artworks of a pink fluff material and thin sculptures made of Johnson’s baby oil bottles, crystal glasses and wax.

Karla Black lives and works in Glasgow. She was born in Alexandria, United Kingdom in 1972, and completed an MA in Fine Art at the Glasgow School of Art, Glasgow, in 2004. In 2011, Black’s work represented Scotland at the 54th Venice Biennale, and was the same year nominated for the Turner Prize. Her work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at multiple galleries in the UK and abroad.

Black’s works for this exhibition were fragile and evocative. The plasticity of the materials she used for this exhibition, as well as the pastel and shinny colours she employed on most of these artworks remain in my mind as part of a surreal dream.

 

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