Tuesday, 23 August 2011

Guy Bourdin - fear, craving and sex in advertising

GUY BOURDIN (1928-1991) is one of my favourite fashion photographers to date, having gone the extra step to challenge the moral boundaries of advertising by showing them in their full absurd excess. Polished made up glamour drips off the models to the point of sickness but the whole image is almost always pleasing to the eye. Doll-like 80's make up on little girls, the advert for the shoes lost by a murder victim - there is no lack of dark humour in his visual language! His often over-referenced aesthetic and block colours have remained in luxury advertising ever since.

All images copyright Guy Bourdin

Sunday, 31 July 2011

Christopher Robin The BAD

See the video walking through the second exhibition of my favourite contemporary London painter! Christopher Robin is incredibly versatile, young and virtually unknown but has come out with an incredible follow up exhibition at the beginning of July 2011. His work centres around a firm belief of abandoning the chains of traditional painting - a signature style. The resulting exhibitions become dynamic comments on a broad theme use a variety of languages to communicate with the viewer on a variety of levels.

The titles of work in order of appearance:

Look Again, Think Again - 2 canvasses making reference to the Tate Galleries - the most prominent and bureaucratic institutions in London
If you stand for nothing you'll fall for anything - Venus statue
Don't even think about it - looks like a Jeff Koons dog - reminding me of the superficial and stylistically driven ideas of the richest artist in the world
Lakenol House - not sure what the title is but I know the photograph and painting were of Lakenol House which was part of the big fire in Camberwell in 2009. Robin had a mural in one of the devastated spaces.
A culture of success puts little value on the unsuccessful - two figures playing with credit cards, sculls are made of an intricate mosaic of credit cards too. This is my favourite painting alluding to Damien Hirst's diamond sculls, contemporary poverty based on credit card debt and the wider financial crisis.

For more information: christopherrobin.eu

(c) Photograph by Tamara Never Dies. Painting (c) Christopher Robin.eu

Hackney Wicked

Yesterday, I went on my first art expedition in a long time. Crowds of new trendies and a few older art explorers got off Hackney Wick train with me and headed down the ramp, following the exotic sounds of live music coming from a distance. As it turned out, the music wasn't exactly great but it seemed to work like this: the more loud and offensive the sound the more people congregated, creating a heavy Notting hill Carnival feel in this industrial mini-city.

I remember only being to Hackney Wick once before and crossing large motorways on a cold night in an attempt to locate this warehouse party. It felt like we were crossing the M25! Yesterday Hackney Wick not only bathed in appealing sunshine but also had new Olympic structures inflating around it. The sheer number of people visiting Hackney Wicked on this day made a jolly and exciting east-end happening.

Some of the best work was shown by the few galleries operating in the area - Elevator Gallery and See Studios. I will be showing the work I found there in a future post but for now here is some work that caught my attention as I walked through studios and the streets at Hackney Wicked:

This painting showed an effective use of dimensionality but reminded me a lot of Bridget Riley's op art of the 60s.

Quirky and home-made feel ceramics by Bridget Lennon.

One of the best live musicians I saw was Sonic Manipulator - at once halarious and reminiscent of
the 90s Daft Punk era, he produced a free flowing avant garde electronic sound from a multitude of
theramins, keyboard and electric gadgets strapped all over his body. This was someone masquerading
as an unassuming human sculture from Covent Garden but the movement and music created was
 something much better!

These strong series of spraypainted stencils all had very beautiful lines that seemed to gravitate much closer to the practice of Matisse and fine art than those by Banksy. Ernst Altmann invents a miraid of shapes making up his wild and mythological creatures, giving them a sharp, angular and somewhat iconic feel. 


The gown on the left had an assortment of dangerous medical equipment attached to it like a string of medals, including medical scissors, syringes and liquid disinfectant packs.
A beautiful abstract pencil drawing by Peter Currey.

Through a large car park there was an interesting workshop going on which went largely unnoticed by the main festival goers. I believe it was called Remade in July - Hackney Wick Workshop, which consisted of creating various pieces of furnitue on the spot from boarding material used to close off the construction sites at the London Olympics. I was told that the Olympic team had used a much higher grade of materials than would have been adequate and the government's waste of money in this way prompted them to reuse the material.

Friday, 27 May 2011

In Pictures: Installation, mural and painting work by Katharina Grosse

Gosse using a pressurised spray to paint

Graffiti artist with a firehudrant, from Crack & Shine book

Elisabeth Arkhipoff - No Soda: No Fun (2001, installation)
"Her field of research is the difficulty theses groups (New Ages, hippies, teenagers, rockers, Pop fans, fashion addicts, artists and self-managed Collectives) face from a socio-cultural context where personal discovery is often conditioned by professional success and social prestige, and Arkhipoff's work suggest a complex and exploded re-reading of our search for individuation." quoted from Postmedia.

Research: Topsafe, 2modernblog, Postmedia, Artnews.org

Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Dalston Roof Park

Just realised that this fantastic venue in Dalston has just opened again for the long hot summer! Unlike most new establishments in the Dalston area, which are to be found in the dingy and damp underground, this rooftop club is the perfect outdoor space for sunny afternoons. Not only a trendy place with great views but also a good community enterprise, with home-made barbeques on Saturdays and a vegetable garden. So low key and so right. I AM excited! Hopefully Todd Hard (of the Dalston Oxfam Bookshop) will play there again this year.

Vegetable gardens
Views of the City from the Roof Park.

This provisional MAY PROGRAMME is available for download here.
Dalston Roof Park is on the top floor of the Print House, 18 Ashwin Street, E8 3DL, and is open until September.

Tom Price at Hales Gallery

Tom Price has surprised and delighted me with a show made up of five invented characters of stunning detail. Taking the ear here and an elbow there, down to the stretched out jeans pokets, the sculptor constructs highly realistic characters in his bronze works, almost giving them life. They could easily have thoughts, jobs and private lives, it is easy for anyone with or without art knowledge to connect with them. Their poses are casual yet full of 'front', revealing their relaxed state as well as insecurities. I knew a little about his figurative sculptures before I arrived at Hales Gallery, but it turned out much better than unexpected.

Hales Gallery (Next to Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Road, London)

8 April - 14 May 2011

Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The Old Police Station - 25/03/11

Dirty Cop Friday is a monthly night at the Old Police Station, and this is the night I would to visit. A short train ride down into New Cross Gate reveals it is not a sleazy sex party but an experimental art exhibition space, possessing the true grit of the building's past.

In the main room, I have had the pleasure of collecting several wonderful photographs kindly left by the artist - Lucy Armah. So, if you are reading this - your photographs are now hanging proudly on my wall.

copyright Lucy Armah
copyright Lucy Armah
Dispersed between high tiled old cells are various artworks, although sometimes the art is drowned out by the force of the brutal spaces. Heavy metal doors, hard benches and peeping holes bring dark video art to life! The history of the building makes a fascinating tour and the narrow corridors an intimate encounter with other art dwellers.
High ceiling of one cell complete with all instruments for mental torture: Electricity plugs that are too high to reach, bright light and an easy-to-remember number to shop your mates in the neighbouring cells!
According to the engraved scribbles, someone was in this cell for two whole days back in 1999!
Through the peeping hole in a heavy door, projection of a video piece.
Curious exhibits are pinned up in glass cases. I had no idea of knowing whether this was real or orchestrated.
Green light and fragments of secret police files make an entertaining toilet trip!
Excellent characters in cells

Dirty Cop Friday was no party but certainly an experiential gallery and well worth a visit on an opening night.