The Artist

21

Since writing about my 21st birthday meal yesterday, I now can’t stop thinking about all things 21. I’m living in a three-year-old time warp; the celebratory past whirring around my grey matter joyfully. Le Manoir, Cirque de Soleil, a Nespresso coffee machine…and of course the party.

Perhaps it’s because my sister will be turning 21 in October – and now I realise that the next big party for me will be my 30th, or my wedding, no let’s be realistic my 30th – that I have fallen into the nostalgic vortex. Whatever the reason, it’s happened and all this morning I’ve been thinking of the 19th of June 2010 and my Out of Africa themed 21st bash. Or more specifically the dance floor of my Out of Africa themed 21st bash.

I like to think of myself as artistic – in a literary way, but when it comes to paint brush and canvas, well you’re not looking at a Monet, or a Rolf Harris. Oh no, painting, drawing, watercolours are above and beyond me, but though I can’t do it doesn’t mean that I don’t love art. So how to rectify this predicament? Well, I think subconsciously I’ve been working on it for years, for, when I think about it, the majority of my friends are incredibly art-artistic.

How does this relate to my 21st? Well, one of my friends used her skills to decorate the whole of the party, and this is where my mind has wandered to this morning; my friend Olivia Crane, artist extraordinaire…

After a bespoke 21st? Look no further!

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The Dance Floor

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If you think these are cool, then take a trip to her website: http://www.oliviacrane.com/Home.html

You’re in for an absolute treat. But please don’t buy the Maasai Woman – I’ve been after it for years!

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Exhibition review: North South Divine at WW Gallery

Nestled in the heart of the diamond district, to find the WW Gallery you have to be seeking it; the building is narrow, unassuming and could easily be missed. But to miss it would be ill-advised, for within this hidden gem in Hatton Garden is a fantastic collection of contemporary art – the North South Divine exhibition.

Kate Davis - The Wind Rises

Kate Davis – The Wind Rises

Featuring the work of eight artists, the display, which will tour upcountry to Middlesbrough, supposedly plays on “the age-old geographical and traditional social tensions between both ends of the country”. Anchored on the Southern side of the coin and surrounded by artworks that could be found anywhere in the country, this seemed far-fetched. Tensions were explored, but these were rooted in feminism rather than geography.

Boa Swindler, who has three works on display, uses inverted feminism in her pieces to commentate on the shift (post-recession) of many modern-day women, who now desire nothing more than to be 50s housewives – to serve their husbands, to bake cupcakes and to have babies. Swindler accompanies her artwork with voice-overs, which are delivered in a steady, clear and serious tone. This isn’t the voice of sense, but of the automaton woman, and the sincerity with which it calmly asserts: “Day after day there are girls in the office, men will be men. Don’t send him off to work with your hair still in curlers, you may not see him again…”, while you look at a pair of tasselled sugar and salt shakers, is chilling.

Kate Davis’s The Wind Rises is equally provocative. A steel table, about 7ft high, with four lemons as bases for the four legs, and a portfolio of drawings and texts perched on top (which, as a woman, you can’t reach or entirely see) – the piece is a physical representation of the glass ceiling: “The unseen, yet unbreachable barrier that keeps minorities and women from rising to the upper rungs of the corporate ladder, regardless of their qualifications or achievements.” Davis’ lemons show the sour foundations for women: that from the off they are destined for failure, and the work that they want to grasp will forever be out of their reach.

North South Divine may not deliver on geographical tensions, but it certainly raises long-standing questions over the sexes and the female role, and is well worth a visit.

Verdict: ••••   

Alice Audley

 http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2013/04/03/exhibition-review-north-south-divine-at-ww-gallery/

Exhibition Review: Colla, Pinna, Pomodoro at the Ronchini Gallery

ronchini

Brought together for the first time in the UK by curator Marco Meneguzzo, the esteemed Italian artists Colla, Pinna and Pomodoro have set up in Dering Street. Their works – which vary from abstract, geometric and figurative – line the walls of the petite Ronchini Gallery.

Arriving at the exhibition; a cocoon of calm, it is hard to believe that you are just behind the chaotic hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. Whether this ojai atmosphere is the result of some top-notch industrial soundproofing or the stupendous quality of art rendering all else mute, would call for a revisit. Though, now thinking of the huge gold pillars that steal your gaze as soon as your foot is through the door, odds are on the latter.

These three gold pillars stretch up to the ceiling, their alluring exteriors glinting magically. However, despite their smooth perfection, it is not the outer shells but the interiors of these giants that fascinate the most. Through a series of incisions and incompletions, Pomodoro peels back the skin of these sculptures and lets his audience see their insides. Both tribal and skeletal these intricate interiors are the building blocks for what we see at first glance, like our bones to our bodies. There is rawness to these sculptures, just as there is to humanity; confident exteriors masking jagged imperfect interiors.

Pillar

To the right of Pomodoro’s pillars, pinned up high, it is now a work of Colla’s which steals your attention: a battered and rusty circular shield out of which juts a devilish pitch fork. Almost a social commentary on industrialisation; the shield blocking the arrival of new technology and the fork fighting off change, Colla manages to ignite the Luddite within us all.

fork

Pinna’s figurative sculptures reside at the back of the gallery, but they are worth the wait. Two stick-insect-esque human forms, so thin they look like they’ve spent a decade on the torture chamber rack, bend over eachother dramatically. One supports, one is supported. Neither definitively male or definitively female, we know nothing about the androgynous duo aside from that they are there for eachother. And it is this simplistic yet moving fact that makes watching the pair a truly cathartic experience.

On display until the 28th March, I highly recommend escaping the chaos of Oxford Street and popping into the Ronchini Gallery, you will not be disappointed.

****                                                                                                                                                                     Alice Audley

Ronchini Gallery, 22 Dering Street, London W!s 1AN

The Parallax Art Fair

Art Fair

On entering the Chelsea Town Hall you feel pleasantly overwhelmed. Morphed out of recognition the interior of the huge King’s Road building is reminiscent of Istanbul’s Grand Bazaar, but rather than being greeted by Turkish delight, spices and scarves you are flanked by art, art and more art.

Yes, The Parallax Art Fair has returned for its 6th annual show. Working on a non-commission basis, Parallax offers national and international artists a platform to display their work without the risk of high overheads. The result is an eclectic, innovative and exciting exhibition bursting with fresh artistic flavours.

Photography, charcoals, oils, watercolours and sculptures are nestled into pods, standing beside which are the artists themselves – who are more than happy to talk about their pieces. These conversations are the best bit about Parallax; learning what inspired the artist, what they were trying to achieve, what the painting means to them and then, sometimes contrastingly, what your own interpretation of the piece is, what you see, how it makes you feel.

When speaking with Lisa Timmerman, who had just sold one of her paintings, she said: “It was really interesting actually, I explained what the piece was about and what it meant to me – my sons coming home to the security of home – and she had a completely different interpretation, it meant something completely different to her.”

Moving on around the room – past a three-tiered painting of a giraffe, who peered out pensively from his canvas – a pod named Plastic Propaganda caught the eye. Three white violins hang in line, each slightly more complete than the last, progressive but not finished. But they are finished? The artist, Kent-based William Henry, explained that he was a ‘constructionist’ – he takes readymade objects, dismembers them and uses them in abstract form: “Though they look like violins, you could never play them, so are they actually violins?”

Thought-provoking, engaging and culturally enriching, whether there to look or buy The Parallax Art Fair is both an absolutely fantastic exhibition and a wonderful opportunity to gain an insight into the mechanics of artists’ visions.

****

Violins

‘Strung Out’ by William Henry

The gag reflex…

After being arrested for the murder of a wealthy ‘cat’ woman, Stanley Kubrick’s protagonist Alex is sentenced to 14 years incarceration.

Two years into the sentence, the Minister of the Interior arrives at the prison looking for test subjects for the Ludovico technique, an experimental aversion therapy for rehabilitating criminals within two weeks; Alex readily volunteers.

The process involves drugging the subject, strapping him to a chair, a_clockwork_orange_3propping his eyelids open, and forcing him to watch violent movies. Alex, initially pleased by the violent images he sees, becomes nauseated due to the drugs.

After two weeks, Alex has been ‘cured,’ – for him both violence and sex are now associated with feeling ‘violently’ ill. He can no longer fight back. He can no longer rape. He is no longer a threat to the state.

Where is she going with this? Well, I’ll tell you. It is all about cause and effect, or at least the brain’s connection of cause and effect – the link of synapses that breed subconscious aversions which later flourish physically.

For example, once upon a time in my early years, I was at the Bishop’s Stortford College canteen having lunch. I ate my portion of spaghetti and meatballs and two hours later was ‘violently’ sick. From that moment I associated meatballs with puking and was unable to touch the Italian delicacy for over 10 years.

Now let me bring you up to date with a more timely anecdote – last night. Last night, I was sent to review the new Fiona Rae exhibition at the Timothy Taylor Gallery in Mayfair. The collection was like a series of carefully crafted fairy-tales and as I gazed into the intricate layers of glitter, spray paint and embroidery, I was transported to a land of magic and possibility. Huge canvasses surrounded me – riveting to the extent that they seemed to hijack time. This was the first room.

The second, smaller room opened off the first and was home to both the smaller works of Rae’s collection and a wooden table. On this table were complimentary glasses of white wine. ‘How lovely,’ I thought and picked a particularly full vessel up, ‘drinking and admiring, the perfect combination.’

Walking over to a painting filled with fluffy green clouds and a upside-down dangling panda, I took my first glug of white. Sour, salty and with an acidity that would have turned litmus paper red, on entry it instantaneously triggered my gag reflex and frothed straight back up my oesophagus into my mouth, whereupon I had to swallow the cursed substance again – and again.

So now, the 24 x 19 ½ inch, oil and acrylic on canvas titled ‘sing songs,’ is sadly associated, for me, with feeling sick. A word of wisdom to galleries – do not underestimate the power of bad wine. Though in different circumstances, the Ludovico technique that has haunted in cinema, still exists in life.   

RAE 1Fiona Rae: ‘Sing songs’

A Tragic Writer in Florence: Part Three

EGG POP

Sitting around the table tucking into a home-made Carbonara, I didn’t notice what was happening in the far right of the room. In fact, it wasn’t until I licked the last of the sticky egg yolk from my fork and heard a ‘niiiicce,’ that I looked around and saw it. The sketch, the sketch that one of Livi’s friends had done of me.

I’d never been to an interactive art dinner party before. Livi and her friends sat around with pads in one hand and pencils in the other and practised their portraits. The dining room, a place that so far in my life I’d associated with food, had morphed into a creative hub – a land of artistic genius.

SKETCH

Sketch of me by Sara Chong

The following day after editing the penultimate section of my travelogue, I received a text message from Livi inviting asking me to meet for lunch. We met in the Santa Croce Christmas Market.

BIRTHDAY SAUSAGE

Filled with German sausage, Livi and her art academy contemporaries extended the arm of hospitality and asked me to join them at their studio later that afternoon. I accepted.

Esteemed as the best in the world, on entering the Florence Academy of Art I have never felt so inadequate. A humble building in need of a few roof fillings, the Florence Academy of Art’s exterior was nothing remarkable. The interior, however, the interior was spectacular.

Lining the walls were sketches, drawings and charcoals that caught me off guard they were so accurate. Delicate and intricate strokes of colour caressed the canvasses capturing the human body perfectly. Tutored in the Atelier style, the students of the Florence Academy are without doubt the next generation of masters in the art world.

Through to Livi’s section of the studio and again I was rendered mute. I knew she was talented, but I had no she was this talented…

BRUTUS
CHARCOAL
DEAD GIRLLivi’s blog: www.paintandprosecco.blogspot.co.uk

A gigantic pink dildo…and some other snaps

Grasping the knife between her cuffed hands, her face turned away, she thrusts the blade into her victim. Deep and hard, her weapon penetrates the flesh of the… gigantic pink dildo. Yes, the gigantic pink dildo. Titled The End of Sex and costing a mere £6,000, this is just one in a series of pornographic shots in upcoming French photographer Philippe Shangti’s exhibition – Saint Tropez to London.

http://www.theupcoming.co.uk/2012/11/11/art-exhibition-philippe-shangti-saint-tropez-to-london/