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Tag Archives: London

Life as a Veneer

4 May

In retrospect, at a selection of exhibitions in London over the winter a number of works emerged which use veneers and discuss thin surfaces.  At the end of 2012 Henrik Schrat exhibited a series of two dimensional works at IMT Gallery made in the marquetry tradition from tessellated pieces of different woods that form scenes for a comic book, probably with reference to Roy Lichtenstein’s paintings of scenes from comic books such as All-American Men of War, but carried out in a totally different manner.  This pair have similarly transformed the disposable paper comic into something more substantial, created for longevity and monumentalising what some may describe as a trivial entertainment media, yet solid wooden board may have a longer life expectancy than a canvas.  Schrat’s Space Odyssee series (2009) makes a number of references to modernist architecture, with Space Vessel resembling Buckminster Fuller’s Geodesic Dome and Falling Water featuring a Frank Lloyd Wright house, whilst documenting the daily life of a Cyloptic science fiction character like a series of snapshot photographs that could be posted on the character’s social networking profile.

Space Vessel (2009) by Henrik Schrat

Space Vessel (2009) by Henrik Schrat

Helen Marten’s exhibition at Chisenhale Gallery included a row of low works, each with a different wooden finished, which resemble temporary covers placed over open man holes in pavement or trailing cables somewhere lots will be required like a temporary concert site.  Titled Falling very down (low pH chemist) (2012) these were ramped on two opposite sides as if to aid wheelchair access these works appear to invite the viewer to walk on them like Carl Andre‘s floors and leave the patina of their movement on the polished surfaces, yet they then had a collection of objects piled on them, like the personal effects upon a series of individuals’ bodies or a collection of detritus disposed of by a being, including a sock and a Starbucks cup of iced coffee, whilst skewed and edited wrappers invite you to consider what you consume.

Falling very down (low pH chemist) (2012)Helen Marten, Plank Salad, exhibition view, Chisenhale Gallery, 2012. Photo: Andy Keate. Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery.

Falling very down (low pH chemist) (2012)Helen Marten, Plank Salad, exhibition view, Chisenhale Gallery, 2012. Photo: Andy Keate. Commissioned by Chisenhale Gallery.

Art13 Art Fair commissioned Peter Lemmens, also seen on the Dam Gallery stand there, to create a series of essentially plinths, entitled Proxy (2013), which appeared to be covered in a variety of wood and marble laminates as might be used on kitchen worktops and cupboards; practical elements of modernist architectural design, like the structures depicted in Schrat’s work.  Lemmens invites us to look at that which the contemporary art viewer tends to ignore, yet most continue to walk by regardless.  Indeed these innate objects seem to be typified by private view visitors using them to stand empty glasses on.  These works were juxtaposed in odd combinations, clearly defining the apparent pointlessness of the trompe l’oeil pretence of using patterned laminate, making their seemingly basic materials obvious.  However, in fact only part of each work is a trompe l’oeil, a self-adhesive veneer applied to a solid block of an opposing material, for example a block of marble has one or more surfaces covered in a wood effect plastic, confusing the brain as to what material it really is.

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Frieze London 2012 Takes A Look Outside

14 Oct

London’s annual art annual spectacle is upon us again.  This year a selection of the work for sale at the Frieze Art Fair seems to be extrospective.  As London opened its doors to the world, inviting visitors to the Olympic Games in the summer and again for Frieze itself, these artworks seem to use windows and doors, the portals of our built environment, as a way at look out at the world outside the fair and beyond, and perhaps invite it in.  However, on the other hand, the windows and doors in these works are either closed or only partially open, like an immigration policy limiting the capacity of the marquee.

Window Vol III. from daily newspaper, January 2008 (2008) by Jan Manuska

Jan Mancuska’s Window Vol III. from daily newspaper, January 2008 (2008) on the Meyer Riegger stand is a ponderous physical construction of a pair of windows rendered with a vanishing point.  Viewed from the edge of the stand as in the above photograph, they appear to be nothing more than windows, but from front on they are a conjoined work, getting increasingly taller the further you go in, contorting or elongating a space, depending on which way they are viewed.  The handles have even been custom made to have diagonal edges to match.

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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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Artists Making a Mark with their Bodies

19 May

Following on from the article The Gallery as a Dance Hall, it appears there is also a resurging interest in performative mark making.  In Trisha Brown‘s Walking on the Walls a group of performers climb into suits harnessed to girders suspended from the gallery balcony, which act like the track of a rollercoaster.  This enables them to walk horizontally along the gallery wall in a performance that at times becomes like a cat’s cradle as they approach each other and seem to pass on momentum.  Essentially fixed on a straight line, the performers are generally only able to see and approach their neighbours, as described by Edwin A. Abbott in Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions, however they do occasionally cross each other’s path in a slightly awkward fashion akin to when a cat’s cradle gets tied up.

Trisha Brown - Walking on the Walls. Barbican Art Gallery, 2011. Photograph by Felix Clay

The performers leave slight marks and traces of their performance in the form of footprints on the white gallery walls.  Whilst their impact is minimal, this could be read in a painterly fashion outside the performance.  What remains is the essence of movement, like the ghostly remains of fossilised dinosaur footprints in the rock.  As these footprints will clearly not last that long, being painted over for the next exhibition, if the wall hasn’t already been re-coated, it consequently  draws allusion with the work of Richard Long.  In his work A Line Made By Walking (1967) Long created a visible mark on the landscape through movement, but similarly the grass will have soon grown back.

Meanwhile, Brown’s Homemade (1966) resembles Stating the Real Sublime by Rosa Barba, mentioned in the article Still, through its use of movement of a film projector.  Where Barba’s work is sculptural in creating movement of a projection by the rotation of the film in suspension, Brown wore a film projector like a backpack, projecting a film of her dancing on varying surfaces of the theatre as she repeats the filmed performance in person.

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