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

Shared memories in colour

Howard Hodgkin
Last Paintings
Gagosian, Grovenor Hill, London
June 1 – July 28, 2018

The Gagosian gallery at Grosvenor Hill is now showing a show of Howard Hodgkin, a widely known British contemporary painter I first discovered with an exhibition there was at Tate Britain, London, in 2006. That show spanned his entire career from the 1950s, despite he wasn’t celebrated as a major figure in British art until the 1970s, but it revealed the early development of his visual language. The memory I keep of it is that it was a fest for the senses due to the vibrancy of the colours and expressiveness of the artworks.

The current exhibition at the Gagosian gallery showcases the final six paintings he completed in India before he died in March 2017, including more than twenty other paintings never displayed before in Europe. I was pleased to see his work again, and the final evolution of it as a gold brooch to the show I saw at Tate more than ten years ago.

Despite his work seems abstract at first sight, Hodgkin stated clearly that he wasn’t an abstract painter. The artist did a a continuos exploration of the representation of emotions, personal encounters and above all, memories of specific experiences that the viewer can relate with going back to his/her own experiences.

In an interview with Kenneth Baker in the Summer of 2016 Hodgkin said: “I can’t control the viewer. But I tell them what the picture’s about, always. I’ve never painted an abstract picture in my life. I can’t.”

He showed a passionate commitment to subject and said also in this interview that it’s when the physical reality is established that the subject can begin to show itself. But, he lamented that people didn’t usually see that his pictures where made of shape, drawing and composition.

Shared memories are a key part in his work. And it was very insightful to read the title of the works to know what he had in mind when he made a new painting. That reading was very evocative to me with some works. Like the painting titled “Portrait of the artist listening to music” displayed below, or the one titled “Darkness at noon” where The art raspberry performs as if she were a sculpture in the shadow.

Although we both liked most paintings, my favourite paintings didn’t necessarily coincide with the ones loved by The art raspberry. And, therefore, each of us performed with the ones we liked the most. In some cases, adding a new interpretation. Like with the work titled “Don’t tell a soul”, where mi position in front of the green brushstrokes over yellow seem to suggest “The birth of an idea” or “A moment of inspiration”. Finally, with the painting “Love song” I felt like a butterfly over some flowers and I truly felt connected to it.

Hodgkin represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 1984 and received the Turner Prize in 1985. In addition, he was included by the newspaper The Independent in a list of the 100 most influential gay people in Britain.


Recuerdos compartidos en color
Howard Hodgkin
Últimas pinturas
Gagosian, Grovenor Hill, Londres
1 de junio – 28 de julio de 2018

La galería Gagosian en Grosvenor Hill, Londres, muestra ahora una exposición de Howard Hodgkin, un pintor británico ampliamente conocido que discubrí por primera vez con una exposición en Tate Britain, Londres, en 2006. Esa muestra abarcaba toda su carrera desde la década de 1950, a pesar de que no fue celebrado como una figura importante en el arte británico hasta la década de 1970, pero revelaba el desarrollo temprano de su lenguaje visual. El recuerdo que guardo de esta muestra es que fue un festival para los sentidos gracias a la vitalidad de los colores y la expresividad de las obras de arte.

La muestra que hay ahora en la galería Gagosian expone las últimas seis pinturas que completó en la India antes de morir en marzo de 2017, incluyendo más de veinte pinturas que nunca antes se habían expuesto en Europa. Me gustó ver su trabajo de nuevo, y la evolución final de este como un broche de oro para la exposición que vi en Tate hace más de diez años.

A pesar de que su trabajo parece abstracto a primera vista, Hodgkin afirmó claramente que no era un pintor abstracto. El artista realizó una exploración continua de la representación de emociones, encuentros personales y, sobre todo, recuerdos de experiencias con las que el espectador puede identificarse fijándose en sus propias experiencias.

En una entrevista con Kenneth Baker en el verano de 2016, Hodgkin dijo: “No puedo controlar al espectador. Pero les digo de qué se trata la imagen, siempre. Nunca he pintado una imagen abstracta en mi vida. No puedo “.

Mostró un compromiso apasionado con el sujeto pictórico y dijo también en esta entrevista que cuando se establece la realidad física es cuando dicho sujeto puede comenzar a mostrarse. Pero, se lamentó de que la gente no suele ver que sus imágenes están hechas de forma, dibujo y composición.

Los recuerdos compartidos son una parte clave de su trabajo. Y fue muy interesante leer el título de las obras para saber lo que él tenía en mente cuando hizo una nueva pintura. Esa lectura fue muy evocadora para mí con algunas obras. Como la pintura titulada “Retrato del artista que escucha música” que se muestra abajo, o la que se titula “Oscuridad al mediodía” donde The art raspberry actúa como si fuera una escultura en la sombra.

Aunque a los dos nos gustaron la mayoría de las pinturas, mis pinturas preferidas no coincidieron necesariamente con las que le gustaron a ella. Cada una hizo su ‘peformance’ con la obras con las que mas conectó en aquel momento. En algunos casos, añadiendo una nueva interpretación. Al igual que con el trabajo titulado “No le digas a un alma”, donde mi posición delante de las pinceladas verdes sobre amarillo parecen sugerir “El nacimiento de una idea” o “Un momento de inspiración”. Finalmente, con la pintura “Canción de amor” me sentí como una mariposa sobre algunas flores y me sentí conectada con la pintura.

Hodgkin representó a Gran Bretaña en la Bienal de Venecia en 1984 y recibió el Premio Turner en 1985. Además, fue incluido por el periódico The Independent en una lista de los 100 gays más influyentes en Gran Bretaña.

Howard Hodgkins-The art raspberry

The art raspberry performing next to “Darkness at noon” (2015-2016).

Howard Hodgkin-The art blueberry2Howard Hodgkin-The art blueberry1Howard Hodgkin-The art blueberry3

The art blueberry performing next to “Love song” (2015).

Howard Hodgkin-Red sky at night

Painting above: “Red sky at night” (2001-2011).

Howard Hodgkin-red sky in the morning

Painting above: “Red sky in the morning” (2016).

Howard Hodgkin-Darkness at noon

Painting above: “Darkness at noon” (2015-2016).

Howard Hodgkin-Indian veg

Painting above: “Indian veg” (2013 – 2014).

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

Democratic testimony of a past time

August Sanders
Men Without Masks
Hauser & Wirth, London, UK
18 May – 28 July 2018

This is the first time I cover an art show without including us, The art berries, on the photos. When I saw this art exhibition I realised that it was worth sharing it, but it’s not the type of exhibition where an art performance would be pertinent. The pictures of August Sander speak for themselves.

I first discovered the work of this German photographer at Tate Modern and I became immediately interested on his work. Hence, I was glad to see that the gallery Hauser & Wirth London is showing this summer an art exhibition of August Sander’s work called ‘Men Without Masks’, which comprises images made from 1910 to 1931.

Sander was born in the German mining town of Herdorf and discovered photography while working at a local slagheap. He went to assist a landscape photographer working there for a mining company, and by 1909 he had opened his own studio in Cologne. By 1910, he had already established himself as a successful photographer in a profession that had only recently become a viable form of work.

Sander discarded the then prevalent pictorialist approach in favour of recording as many details of his subjects as possible. Enlarging a photograph using smooth, glossy paper typically reserved for technical images, he created a portrait that was extraordinarily detailed. This technically exact approach, enhanced by a straightforward perspective and the use of natural light became Sander’s personal signature, as he started cataloging Weimar Germany and his citizens.

As Sander explained: “Nothing seemed to me more appropriate than to project an image of our time with absolute fidelity to nature by means of photography… Let me speak the truth in all honesty about our age and the people of our age.”

Sander’s conceptual approach started from the idea of the ‘home album’, with which the artist photographed the peasants of his native village and proceeded to sort them according to their essential archetype. He produced the iconic 12-photo ‘Portfolio of Archetypes’ that features stoic farming men and women in single, double, and group portraits.

This work evolved into his decades-long project ‘People of the 20th Century’, now considered a seminal photographic work. Falling into seven distinct groups, People of the 20th Century shows ‘The Farmer’, ‘The Skilled Tradesman’, ‘The Woman’, ‘Classes and Professions’, ‘The Artists’, ‘The City’ and ‘The Last People’.

The individuals captured by Sander’s lens went from farmers to industrialists, secretaries, aristocrats and even homeless and disabled people. All were photographed in the same objective manner regardless of occupation or social class. He set out to depict the faces of his world with eloquence and empathy.

When we look at these portraits we seem to be travelling back in time, as we can appreciate the unrepeatable details and the sitter’s idiosyncrasies. The people in his portraits told their stories through their clothing, accessories as well as through their expressions, gestures and poses. Sander’s uses his lens as a way to classify the reality that surrounded him at the time and allow us now to discover Germany’s ethnic and class diversity from that period in time.

In 1942, after World War Two, Sander left Cologne and moved to the countryside, where he did very little photographic work. He died in Cologne in 1964.


Testimonio democrático de un tiempo pasado

August Sanders
Men Without Masks
Hauser & Wirth, London, UK
18 May – 28 July 2018

Esta es la primera vez que cubro una exposición de arte sin incluirnos a The art berries en las fotos. Cuando vi esta exposición de arte me di cuenta de que merecía la pena compartirla, pero no es el tipo de exposición en la que un art performance sería pertinente. Las fotos de August Sander hablan por sí mismas.

Descubrí el trabajo de este fotógrafo alemán por primera vez en Tate Modern y de inmediato me interesé por su trabajo. Por eso, me alegré de ver que la galería Hauser & Wirth London está mostrando este verano una exposición de arte de la obra de August Sander llamada ‘Men Without Masks’ que comprende imágenes realizadas desde 1910 hasta 1931.

Sander nació en la ciudad minera alemana de Herdorf y descubrió la fotografía mientras trabajaba en un escorial minero local. Fue a ayudar a un fotógrafo de paisajes que trabajaba allí para una empresa minera, y en 1909 había abierto su propio estudio en Colonia. En 1910, ya se había establecido como un fotógrafo de éxito en una profesión que recientemente se había convertido en una forma de trabajo viable.

Sander descartó el enfoque pictorialista entonces predominante por otro en favor de registrar tantos detalles de sus sujetos como fuera posible. Ampliando una fotografía con papel liso y brillante, normalmente reservado para imágenes técnicas, creó un retrato extraordinariamente detallado. Este enfoque técnicamente exacto, realzado por una perspectiva directa y el uso de la luz natural se convirtió en la firma personal de Sander cuando comenzó a catalogar a la Alemania de Weimar y sus ciudadanos.

Como explicó Sander: “Nada me pareció más apropiado que proyectar una imagen de nuestro tiempo con absoluta fidelidad a la naturaleza por medio de la fotografía … Permítanme decir la verdad con toda honestidad sobre nuestra tiempo y la gente de nuestra tiempo”.

El enfoque conceptual de Sander partió de la idea del ‘álbum raíz’, con el que el artista fotografió a los campesinos de su pueblo natal y procedió a clasificarlos según su arquetipo esencial. Produjo la icónica ‘Portfolio of Archetypes’ de 12 fotografías que presenta a hombres y mujeres granjeros de apariencia estoica en retratos individuales, dobles y en grupo.

Este trabajo se convirtió en un proyecto que le llevó décadas llamado ‘People of the 20th Century’, ahora considerado un trabajo fotográfico seminal. People of the 20th Century se divide en siete grupos distintos: ‘El granjero’, ‘El hábil comerciante’, ‘La mujer’, ‘Clases y profesiones’, ‘Los artistas’, ‘La ciudad’ y ‘Los últimos’.

Los individuos capturados por la lente de Sander pasaron de agricultores a industriales, secretarias, aristócratas e incluso personas sin hogar y discapacitadas. Todos fueron fotografiados de la misma manera objetiva independientemente de la ocupación o clase social. Se dispuso a representar las caras de su mundo con elocuencia y empatía.

Cuando miramos estos retratos parece que estamos retrocediendo en el tiempo al apreciar los detalles irrepetibles y la idiosincracia de los modelos. La gente retratada contaba sus historias a través de su ropa, accesorios y sus expresiones, gestos y poses. Sander usa su lente como una manera de clasificar la realidad que le rodeaba en ese momento y nos permite ahora descubrir la diversidad étnica y de clase de Alemania de ese período en el tiempo.

En 1942, después de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, Sander dejó Colonia y se mudó al campo donde hizo muy poco trabajo fotográfico. Murió en Colonia en 1964.

August Sander-entrance

August Sander-old ladies

August Sander-corner view

August Sander - artist

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.

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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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Art creation as an ongoing process

Past art shows: Giorgio Griffa. A continuos becoming.
Camden Arts Centre, London, UK.
26 January – 8 April 2018

We visited this art exhibition in March this year and got really inspired by the paintings presented by Giorgio Griffa (1936) at the Camden Art Centre. Griffa is an Italian abstract painter who lives and works in Turin and has been closely related to Arte Povera, which stands for ‘poor art’. This is a movement that appeared in Italy in the 1960s and with which artists sought to radically redefine painting by incorporating throwaway or ‘poor’ materials into their work.

Griffa believes in the ‘intelligence of painting’ and allows for every element of the process to influence and form his work, from the type of brush he uses to the nature of the canvas or the dilution of the pain.

Griffa’s approach is performative and time-base, as he assures that painting is “constant and never finished”.

 

His sources of inspiration are quantum energy, time-space mathematics, the golden ratio and the memory of visual experience since time immemorial. The body of work he presented at the Camden Arts Centre spans his career as an artist from the 1960s through to today and it was curated by artist and curator Stephen Nelson.

I found this exhibition visually striking and very much of my taste. The use of bold and primary colours over unstretched raw canvas was reinforced by the white background of the walls. As soon as I went through the door I felt I was entering the artist’s individual universe. The simple shapes and materials he uses on his paintings resonate with me; as if the artist had found a series of universal symbols and shared them with the rest of the world.

Performing as The art berries, we added another layer to these art exhibition and I dare to say that Griffa would approve of this addition to his work, not only for what it brought of improvisation and time-base performance, but also for the “constant and never finished” approach he likes to use on his paintings.

 

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