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The Sculpture of Gabriel Kuri and Others

9 Nov

Gabriel Kuri’s exhibition at South London Gallery includes a variety of sculptural work that appears to draw wide-ranging artistic references and political comment. Untitled (Scoop) (2011) feels like a twist between Richard Serra‘s Tilted Arc (1981), tilted further until it is elevated off the ground, and Ellsworth Kelly‘s similarly segment-shaped canvas White Curve (1974), whilst it is painted with a smooth block of dark red colour in the Field Colour Painting style of Kelly, but taking this into a more three-dimensional form. Meanwhile the steel nature of this work and red painted finish also seem to reference the sculpture of Sir Anthony Caro. Where Kelly’s work is hung away from the wall, Kuri’s similar Untitled (3/4 Blue) (2011) is raised off the ground on a blanket, seemingly suggesting installation work is still in progress.

Gabriel Kuri, Untitled (Shells and Stubbed-out Cigarettes), 2011, prototype voting table and mixed media, installation view South London Gallery. Photo: Marius W Hansen. Image courtesy the artist and the South London Gallery.

Some of the works may appeal to smokers (and those anti-smoking) as cigarettes feature. In Untitled (Charted Topography) (2011) a series of resin casts have been made in the ribbed bottom of plastic bottles which have been used as ashtrays and hence Kuri has preserved the evidential cigarette ends like fossils, probably even locking in a trace of DNA like a fly trapped in amber as used in Steven Spielberg’s Jurassic Park. Beneath the table sits a wholesale pack of water bottles, seemingly suggesting that one is used each day. I recently saw Lewisham Stop Smoking campaign advertising funding for relevant public projects; perhaps they should commission some of Kuri’s art. However, which way do you think the giant roll-up cigarettes or cigars of Untitled (Shells and Stubbed-out Cigarettes) (2011) leans? Are they a smoker’s dream, like the giant billboard cigarettes of the past or do they highlight the dangers of smoking, with the title potentially referring to them as a ticking explosive device?  On the other hand, this work may discuss gender politics through sexual connotations of phallic cigarettes and concave shells, with the prototype voting table dividing the objects into heterosexual and homosexual couples, and creating boundaries between them.

Gabriel Kuri, Untitled (Shelter), 2011, mixed media, dimensions variable, installation view South London Gallery. Photo: Marius W Hansen. Image courtesy the artist and the South London Gallery.

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London Art Fairs 2011: Bold and Textured

16 Oct

So, it’s show time for the art world in London.  Across the fairs and events visited thus far it seems there are trends for colourful work in bold primary and secondary colours and for textured work.

These themes began to emerge at the Pavilion of Art & Design London, where works for sale particularly include a number of pieces by Agostino Bonalumi on Galerie Vedovi’s stand, which build geometric patterns by stretching the canvas over various obstacles, some slashed work by Lucio Fontana, several Antoni Tàpies relief paintings, and a collection of collages by Roy Lichtenstein plus a design for a contemporary tapestry.  Here there seemed to be a particular choice of works with texture as the fair also contains a number of design stands, whilst the majority of work for sale is mid twentieth century.

At the Frieze Art Fair, Marc Quinn has left his Fingerprints all over Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac’s stand.  Indicating personal identity, authorship and uniqueness, the coloured version of this relief work seems to highlight the bacteria we may come in contact with in our daily lives, each secreting itself in a different groove in the texture of the finger print.

Fingerprints by Marc Quinn at Frieze Art Fair

Magali ReusBalance Sheet series on Galerie Fons Welters’ stand contrasts roughly textured silicon rubber with shiny, smooth aluminium grilles.

Balance Sheet Series (2011) by Magali Reus at Frieze Art Fair

Nick van Woert’s Not Yet Titled 7 (2011) on Yvon Lambert’s stand references Liam Gillick’s work and acts as a room divider almost akin to Richard Serra’s Titled Arc (1981), but is partially transparent.  A series of equal blocks are stacked horizontally, each containing different textured materials in different bold colours, including liquids, loft insulation, wire wool, chippings and powder.

Not Yet Titled 7 (2011) by Nick van Woert at Frieze Art Fair

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When Does Minimalism Become Too Minimal?

8 Oct

It was recently pointed out to me that there has been a lot of minimal art produced recently, and the exhibitions this article discusses feature minimal and monochromatic works, but can minimalism go too far?

Florian Pumhösl’s part of the current exhibition at Raven Row consists of two floors filled with a series of minimal works on glass.  This choice of unframed medium seems to reflect upon Joseph Kosuth‘s works including Clear Square Glass Leaning (1965) and No Number #1 (+216, After Augustine’s Confessions) (1989), and to the latter of these there also seems to be a link in David Batchelor‘s Shelf-like No. 5 (Green) (1999), currently on display at the Whitechapel Gallery in their latest exhibition of the Government Art Collection.  However, where Kosuth applied text to the medium using Letraset and later silkscreen, Pumhösl has composed and painted a series of abstract black lines, numbering between two and six on each piece.  These lines might describe journeys, lines of communication, horizons, or statistical graphs, but there is no information within the work for viewers to read the artist’s intention or act.  To the viewer these are simply random lines, some arranged so they create intersections and others vaguely parallel, floating in the liquid plane of the glass, sometimes alike part of paintings by Wassily Kandinsky.

Whilst Pumhösl’s work fits within the broad nature of minimalism and perhaps Abstract Expressionism, The Mews Project Space is hosting an exhibition of monochromatic works, which critically address minimalism and its practices from within.  In the first room of Dark Matter Jonathan Lewis has set out to recreate the installation conditions of Kasimir Malevich‘s seminal Suprematist exhibition, The Last Futurist Exhibition (1915), but Lewis uses only a series of prints of Black Square on White in different size and style frames and digital printing means and materials.  However the focus of The End (2011) is on the pixelation of the image, which unlike Lewis’s previous work is due to the prints being taken from a very low-resolution image found online.  This includes a rather bizarre square of different shade off-white pixels in each corner like an unreadable QR code or the tags within a graphic design software package for manipulating the dimensions of a selected image.  Then a greyish line of pixels forms a border between the two areas, as though the image could be of a black surface over layered with a white mount board casting a slight shadow.  Such is the case that online information, particularly that resourced from search engines that pick up any text on a page, can be confused between original pieces and things inspired by a master, hence it is possible that this may not be an image of the original.  Consequently the work questions the capability of communication of knowledge and ideas through the internet and the actual minimalism of artworks including Malevich’s.  Do they conform to machine-accurate straight lines or is the presence of human nature visible in brushstrokes and minor imperfections?

The End (2011) by Jonathan Lewis at The Mews Project Space

Opposite, Andreas Schmidt’s Free Porn critiques censorship on Google Images suggesting that there is either too much censorship or that the pornographic images obscured in this work are too easily accessible and without payment to the models and photographer.  Furthermore Schmidt may be critiquing several layers of censorship; that of the images, the power of Google and other search providers to control what you can find on the internet, and also that within the art world.

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Works of Art for All Surfaces

26 Aug

Works of art can be designed to be installed practically anywhere, but one under used area is the ground we walk on. ArtCritiqued.com has tracked down a selection of artists making work both for and with floor surfaces that could be used by the dedicated collector, if you wished, to cover that last remaining blank space in your home.

Detail of 3, 2, 1, 0 A A and away 1, 2.. (2011) by Carlos Noronha Feio

Carlos Noronha Feio has designed a series of Arraiolos carpets, which depict images of modern technology that may be used in war such as jet fighter planes, tanks, rockets and satellites, although they can also have many other peaceful technological and exploratory functions. This is highly political work, like the doormat-size carpet seen in the window of a Mayfair carpet dealers depicting a United States Five Dollar Bill across its entire width, which offers conflicting potential views of American patronism and luxury, versas walking over a past president and abandoning capitalism or commercialism. In Feio’s work the blood shed by those on the front line, along with civilian casualties in situations such as the dropping of the atomic bomb in Hiroshima, is interwoven with that of the carpet makers, whilst Feio seemingly keeps his hands clean in designing the piece like a political or military leader.  This work consequently seems to question the reason for the existence and production of the depicted things, as the ownership of nuclear defence weapons seems questionable when no one would want to use them, and hence the work also addresses man as his own worst enemy.

These pieces have the feel of the tapestries worked up from Raphael’s cartoons for the Vatican. However, although the tapestries were the intended final work for Raphael’s commissioners, though not completed until after the artist’s death, the cartoons are revered and preserved in the V&A, but Feio’s designs have not been exhibited, though probably Raphael’s were never seen until after the artist’s death, apart from to be checked off by the Vatican prior to weaving, and may not have been intended to be seen.

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The Kinetic Flow of Light

15 Jul

A theme emerged amongst a selection of the graduates in the Royal College of Art MA Show’s Sculpture Building of making works about the flow of light and this seems to have flowed out of this institution to the wider London art scene.

Untitled (Vents1&2) (2011) by Brendan Giles

Brendan Giles‘ works at the RCA, Untitled (Vents 1&2) are sculptures of vents in which only selected slats are open and exist whilst the rest is solid. This creates an asymmetric pattern of lines where a little daylight can be seen hitting the wall behind the work, like some of Liam Gillick’s sculptural pieces that divide space. Perhaps, however, Giles’ works are actually more about the flow of air in and out of city buildings with vast air conditioning systems.

Oscillator-Aerator (2011) by Sara Knowland

Sara Knowland’s Oscillator-Aerator at the Royal Academy Schools Show bares a similar form but in wood painted grey rather than plaster and seems to directly reference the form of Julian Opie’s H (1987).

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The World in Miniature

5 Jul

Unit (2011) by Poppy Bisdee

Poppy Bisdee‘s Unit (2011) was one of the highlights of the Wimbledon College of Art BA show.  In this work she photographed the exhibition space on all sides including the floor, without a trace of the photographic means.  This includes the building supplies that are left on show in the exhibition spaces here, with the power sockets becoming a particular focal point in this piece, like Bradley Hayman‘s work Tunnel Vision at the Sassoon Gallery in 2009 featured the furniture and fire extinguisher as in the space when originally viewed.

Tunnel Vision (still) (2009) by Bradley Hayman

Bisdee has then printed her photographs on acetate and reconstructed a miniature version of the room except for the wall farthest from where it is projected back onto using an overhead projector, creating a three-dimensional effect of being inside the room, whilst being drawn to consider the relationship between the projected sockets and the real one which is projected onto.  Bisdee has turned simplicity into beauty.  From a simple and minimal photographic act, she has created an interesting three-dimensional piece both within the acetate form and within the spatial installation.

Summer Holiday Dreams (2011) by Haruka Ono

 Meanwhile at the Slade MFA show Haruka Ono created a miniature world from an entirely different medium, frozen food.  Summer Holiday Dreams is a three-dimensional tropical landscape made up of battered fish and chicken nuggets whilst green beans form greenery protruding from the ground or hanging as palm leaves from trees.  This is a curious dialectic work, depicting a tropical place in frozen food, which is contained in a modified commercial chest freezer with a glass top.  Miniature toad in the holes form small boats floating on a sea of blue ice cream (pistachio perhaps) as a wave breaks towards them in cream or vanilla ice cream.  It seems this work critiques the food it uses as a medium perhaps for its healthiness but more so for its environmental impact, using electricity likely generated by burning fossil fuels to preserve it, and its absent packaging clogging landfill, whilst the freezer, likely reclaimed from scrap, contains CFC gases.  This work also shows the childlike playfulness of Fischli and Weiss’ The Sausage Photographs (1979), reflecting art and creativity as skills we are born with, but which most repress as they grow older.

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The Art of Selling and the Selling of Art

25 Jun

With Mark Leckey‘s work at the Serpentine Gallery it seems unclear whether the work or the sponsorship came first.  By addressing commercial branding and marketing Leckey is actively promoting Samsung and also Fiorucci in a far more direct and blatant manner than I have ever seen an artist do before.

 

Whilst Andy Warhol adopted the graphic design of popular commercial products including Brillo pads and Campbell’s soup, he did not turn his work into a powerful encapsulating installation.  Self complementary announcements are repeated in a direct manner, asserting the value of the brand name, rather than an actual product, badged onto fairly high-end electrical products including televisions, Blu-ray players, microwaves, cameras and mobile phones which are shown in a slideshow in the background of the film shot in a green screen room created in the gallery.  The focal point of this work, GreenScreenRefrigeratorAction (2010), is the ‘Smart’ black fridge freezer that stands in the installation like a monolithic sculpture such as the Easter Island heads.  Leckey takes on the imagined persona of the fridge, seemingly only educated by the company’s promotional material.  In this slick, ultra minimal work, and the trailer at the exhibition entrance, Leckey has assembled a series of hypnotically flashing messages on screen between the Samsung and Fiorucci logos and famous or celebrated artworks and artists, relating the brands to art in the way advertisers aim to emotionally elevate the quality and significance of their product.  In particular Henry Moore’s signature and name are used in the trailer as a Moore sculpture is included in the exhibition installation as another monolith to compare the fridge with, and the use of the signature makes passing reference to Citroen’s Picasso branding.

 

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Under the Surface

21 Jun

Placebo Syndrome (2011) by David Mullen at Tank Gallery

David Mullen’s paintings in The Pleasure Principle at Tank Gallery are an appealing sculptural form. By applying monochromatic layers of thick impasto oil paint to his canvases and then covering with one or more layers of gloss paint, Mullen has been able to allow the surface to dry solid whilst the interior remains liquid enough to peel the surface back into a sculpture with the surface of the painting cut away and hanging off the wall. These works, particularly the grey Placebo Syndrome are almost like a sardine can that has had its lid curled back halfway, exposing the yellow filling, whilst the framed work The Perfect Crime directly illustrates the paint coming out of the canvas, peeling back the layers towards the found picture beneath. From a similar thought process Eunkyung Lee’s circular paintings Collected Samples in the Slade MA show are on castors and invited to be kicked around the space to knock against one another and reveal the multiple layers of imagery that are built up on their surfaces. Hence the work becomes an interactive piece in the creating of new, constantly evolving work through the combination of fragmented images akin to peeling back the layers of adverts on a traditional billboard.

Collected Samples 2, 6, 11 by Eunkyung Lee

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