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Rachel Howard at the Italian Cultural Institute & the Jerwood Gallery

March 14, 2017 by Mary

Rachel Howard’s first work to combine painting and sculpture is included in Sette Opere per la Misericordia or Seven Works for Mercy - an exhibition curated by Mario Codognato at the Italian Cultural Institute, London.

Howard’s work Controlled Violence (2015-2016) was acquired for the collection of the Pio Monte della Misericordia church in Naples, following the fourth edition of Sette Opere per la Misericordia in 2016. The exhibition’s title derives from Seven Acts of Mercy, the title of the famous Caravaggio painting, also housed in the Church, alongside which contemporary works, including Howard’s, were sited.

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The curator Mario Codognato asked artists to respond to the themes of the seven works of corporal Mercy: to give water to the thirsty, feed the hungry, clothe the naked, shelter the homeless, visit the sick, visit the imprisoned and bury the dead. Other participating artists include Antonio Biasiucci, Roberto Caracciolo, Piero Golia, Anish Kapoor, Henrietta Labouchere and Olaf Nicolai.

Sette Opere per la Misericordia (Seven Works for Mercy), is at The Institute of Italian Culture – 39 Belgrave Square, Belgravia, London SW1X 8NX – from 15 March 2017.

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Rachel Howard: You Can save Me
oil and acrylic on canvas, 30 x 36”
2015

Also opening this month, Rachel Howard’s work You Can Save Me will be on view as part of Look Back Now: Jerwood Gallery is 5. Aquired for the Jerwood Collection, the painting was part of her 2015 solo show At Sea; a signficant body of works which drew parallels between the sea, memories of childhood and ideas of being adrift.

Jerwood Gallery – Rock-A-Nore Rd, Hastings TN34 3DW – from 15 March until 21 May 2017. 

Rachel Howard and Phillip Allen at the Drawing Biennale 2017

March 1, 2017 by Mary

Drawing Biennial 2017 offers insights into how artists contend with a world in rapid and disorienting flux. A snapshot of contemporary drawing practices, the exhibition includes more than 200 new and recent works on paper by leading international artists of different generations.

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Rachel Howard: Night Drawing, 2017
Unique ink on paper, 210 x 298 mm

Culminating in an online auction in the exhibition’s two final weeks, individual works are available from £250. Proceeds from the auction support Drawing Room’s ongoing programme. Invited by Mary Doyle, Kate Macfarlane and Katharine Stout (Directors, Drawing Room) with nominations from leading international experts, all the drawings are on A4 supports, with each piece given equal prominence in the exhibition.

2 March – 26 April 2017

The Drawing Room
Unit 8 Rich Estate, 46 Willow Walk
London SE1 5SF

Gavin Turk: Give In

February 8, 2017 by Mary

Ben Brown Fine Arts presents Give In, an exhibition of Gavin Turk's highly influential works to coincide with the artist's major survey show, Who What When Where How & Why at Damien Hirst's award-winning Newport Street Gallery. Give In transforms the gallery into a Museum of Curiosities, with pseudo-archaeological objects in cabinets punctuating the space, an installation cum magician's trick, and brand new trompe l'oeil sculptures.

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Gavin Turk, Painted Bronze Paint (Albers Table), 2016
Painted bronze, limited edition of 8, 28 x 148 x 60 mm

Over the last three decades, Turk has relentlessly challenged the notions of value, authorship, and identity in his work, audaciously intermingling references both to modern masters and to himself, in the pieces he creates. Give In plays with the modernist framework; the works presented allude to the nuances of language, philosophy and to the Age of Reason and beyond. Paternal art historical references are layered like geological strata: Josef Albers, Joseph Beuys, Christo, Marcel Duchamp, Damien Hirst, Donald Judd and Joseph Kosuth, are familiar forbearers who resonate in his work.

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Gavin Turk, Edgar Allan Poe Award Painting
Painted bronze, limited edition of 8, 410 x 270 mm

Turk will premiere new works inspired by the defining 'boxes' Judd began in the Sixties.Balloons, Nature Nurture, Purgatory and Ship in a Bottle (all 2017) cleverly fuse the careful minimalist structures of the Juddish boxes with the worn and discarded found objects within. Viewers are forced to look, and then look again. By juxtaposing these materials, Turk elevates familiarly banal objects to undeniably significant pieces of art, pushing the viewer to take notice of the form and function of the object. This idea is echoed in Rotrophydhian (2017), the museum's high alter, in which the sleek, clinical Pop Art aesthetic of Hirst's iconic 'medicine cabinets' are challenged by the very detritus that fills it - making provocative references to utopian images of an ideal society and addressing age-old philosophical preoccupations with birth, death and decay. These latest works add another layer of illusion to the artist's subversion of the rules of commercial art.

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Gavin Turk, White Square after Malevich, 2015
Unique found canvas mounted on linen, 575 x 570 x 45 mm

In our post-factual reality, the transition between throwaway rubbish and that which is elevated to the bastions of high art - through casting in bronze with Turk's pioneering trompe l'oeil surface - is not so instantly perceptible and requires our close observation. Injuries also Occur in the Language(2015), Triple QX, ATF Plus (2015), Killer Filler(2017) and Painted Bronze Paint (2016) are exquisitely detailed sculptures that resemble punctured and depleted footballs, petrol cans, car filler and paint tubes respectively.

As visitors walk through the gallery they will eventually come to enter Give In (2017), an installation that welcomes, puzzles and intrigues. An impish reference to Duchamp's infamous last major artwork Étant donnés (Given) (1946-66), Give In is an optical illusion, visible only through a key hole in an old wooden door; instead of Duchamp's tableau of a nude woman lying on her back, Turk presents his audience with a distorted examination of self, through the lens of the artist.

Ben Brown Fine Arts
12 Brook’s Mews, London W1K 4DG

9 February – 12 April, 2017

Tim Noble and Sue Webster: Sticks with Dicks and Slits

February 2, 2017 by Mary

Tim Noble and Sue Webster return to Blain|Southern London to present a new body of sculptural works. In their third exhibition with the gallery, STICKS WITH DICKS AND SLITS, the duo present pairs of giant self-portraits. These stick figures are sculpted in twisted bronze, an entirely new method for the artists.

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Based on handmade maquettes made with electrical wire, the sculptures are an act of upscaling playful ephemera into physically domineering artworks with a permanency and scale that transcends human limitations.

The artists are well known for reacting to circumstance. They find inspiration by walking city streets and making sculpture from materials closest to hand in an urban environment. In the past this has included inner city detritus, discarded personal objects and animal carcasses. However, the initial maquettes for this new body of work were created during a residency on the Caribbean island of St Bart’s. This idyllic environment was initially challenging for these urbanites who found themselves stripped of their usual impetus. Struggling with this creative impasse, they began doodling with electrical wire, quickly and intuitively producing two intimate self-portraits.

Part of a great tradition of artists-as-art, their personal image and the dynamic between them is an integral part of their work. As with previous self-portraits, these new paired sculptures express the artistic personae of the duo. One pair features nudes of Tim urinating and Sue lactating — engaging in basic bodily functions is a recurring motif for the artists. As much as they have used refuse in their sculptures, the artists employ their own naked forms as a way to make art with a rawness and truth, using their warts-and-all inseparable dual image as a tool to critique narcissistic obsession.

As with the punk and 2 Tone bands who had such an effect on the artists, what defines this duo is a drive to convey a particularly British ‘kitchen sink’ reality, pushing against the polished veneer of the presiding culture. Their systems of imagery, language and material are as confrontational as early punk gigs where both critique and praise were delivered through bodily fluids. As with this music, the artists play with the tensions of structure and form, purposefully teetering on the edge of chaos.

The size, medium and aesthetic of their new sculptures are yet another bold development in a practice that Noble describes as ‘consistently inconsistent.’ Working at a scale that seems to contradict the materials, the artists achieve the sketchy, continuous effect of wire by employing the traditional technique of lost wax casting. The technique involves manipulating and casting rods of wax, before pouring molten metal into cavities to recreate the final sculpture in bronze. The resulting casts retain the spontaneity of the sculptor’s hands, and remain humanised and true to the subject. The dimensional qualities vary between each pair yet they are united by a fluidity and lightness of gesture that is rare to see in large-scale sculpture.

Blain|Southern London
4 Hanover Square, Mayfair, London W1S 1BP

Private View: Thursday 2 February 2017, 6-8pm
Exhibition: 3 February – 25 March 2017

I lost my heart to a starship trooper

January 9, 2017 by Mary

The exhibition has been curated by London-based art consultant Catherine Loewe, who says: ‘The exhibition’s title comes from the 1978 Hot Gossip song of the same name, and also refers to the artist Glenn Brown, who used the title for one of his paintings, a meticulous rendition of a Rembrandt. Through this appropriation, Brown united something old and almost sacred with something modern, and this, in part, was the genesis of the exhibition. While all of the featured works open up myriad lines of inquiry, from challenging notions of value and authorship to examining modern morality, the show is in essence about the artists’ relationship with the art historical canon, from Old Masters to the present.’ The theme alludes to the collective hysteria surrounding the art market and fuses the double Frieze Fairs, the Contemporary and the Masters, in this case blurring the distinguishing factors. The works in the exhibition include both traditional materials and the use of new technologies in a wide variety of media, from plasticine to video projection.

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Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, image courtesy the artist.

Wolfe von Lenkiewicz (b. 1966), is a British artist who studied Philosophy at York University, creates immaculately rendered compositions that mine familiar visual idioms from art history, creating ambiguous compositions that carefully examine what constitutes an original work of art. He is known for the reconfigurations of well-known images from art history and popular visual culture that question art historical discourses. Lenkiewicz’s ‘post-historic’ practice deconstructs the linearity of historical perspective to challenge our notions of past and present and delineate a new space that lies outside of history. Rather than relegating a painting to a time period, recent paintings by von Lenkiewicz can be viewed more accurately as a form of hybrid, a fulcrum between ages. The work in this exhibition ‘borrows’ from Jacques-Louis David’s (1748 – 1825) icon of the French Revolution, The Death of Marat, 1793, held in the collection at the Royal Museum of Fine Arts of Belgium, and Gerhard Richter’s Wolken, or cloud paintings, whose vaporescent forms create delicate sfumato brushwork around the figure of Marat. The painting hovers between past and present, engaging with both traditional craftsmanship and the readymade through the strategy of appropriation.

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Gavin Turk, Large Transit Disaster (Blue, Copper & Ochre), 2013
Silkscreen on canvas, 190 x 515 cm
Image © the Artist. Courtesy Ben Brown Fine Arts, London

Gavin Turk (b. 1967) first came to prominence as a key member of the much- mythologised Young British Artists of the early 1990s, and his oeuvre consistently deals with issues of authenticity, identity, the ‘myth’ of the artist, and the authorship of a work of art. Presented for the first time in the UK, Large Transit Disaster (Blue, Copper & Ochre), 2013, is a seminal example of Turk’s on-going Transit Disaster series. Appropriations of appropriations, Turk takes on the iconography of Andy Warhol’s infamous Death and Disasters series, 1962-63, the imagery for which the Pop master took from newspaper photographs of fatal car accidents. Where Warhol’s repetitions of the images blunted their tragedy, Turk takes inspiration from the 1960s silkscreens to comment on contemporary British society. Rather than an American car, Turk uses the icon of the white transit van, a symbol of a disappearing era of working class Britain. The expressive shapes of the van’s distorted metal also allude to the underlying social tensions that led to the 2011 London riots. In recasting an iconic work from the annals of art history, Turk emphasises the power of artists to transform materials and question the uniqueness of creativity.

Artists Glenn Brown, Luke Caufield, Gordon Cheung, Stephane Graff, Henry Hudson, Nick Hornby & Sinta Tantra and Mariele Neudecker are also part of this exhibition.

Griffin Gallery
21 Evesham Street, London W11 4AJ

12th January – 24th February 2017
Private View: Wednesday, 11th January, 6.30 – 8.30pm

Fiona Banner: Heart of Darkness

November 16, 2016 by Mary

The exhibition to be held at mfc-michèle didier gallery will be a presentation of works by British artist Fiona Banner. On this occasion, Banner – who continuously investigates the slippage between object, image and text through the prism of graphic and editorial works – has hinged the exhibition on her adaptation of Joseph Conrad’s novella Heart Of Darkness.

Conrad’s tale, published in 1899, relates a slow voyage up the Congo River through the eyes of a young British officer named Marlow who sets out to find Kurtz, an ivory trader reported missing. The narrative acts as a pretext, allowing Conrad to denunciate the horror and hostility of colonialism. It is this idea of a narrative structure as space for criticism that also appealed to later generations of film directors.

Thus, when Orson Welles penned a script adapting Conrad’s novella, it was not to decry the violent conflict wreaking havoc in the colonial Empires but to signal the rise of fascism at the time in Europe. However, the film never made it to the screen after its producers took the decision to pull out, not backing the financial costs for political reasons. In 2012, Banner directed what was to be the world premier of Welles’s Script.

In 1970, with the production of Apocalypse Now, Francis Ford Coppola took on Conrad’s narrative, this time updating its historical setting to the mess of the Vietnam War. Banner references this film in her first publication The Nam, 1997. Here she presents the book blown up in the form of a coffee table, humorously recalling the words of one critic when referring to the over blown scale of her book, “Fiona Banner’s The Nam is not so much a coffee table book as a coffee table.”

Having continuously triggered multiple contributions, each inherent to a specific context or generation of conflict, Heart of Darkness was appropriated again in 2015 by Banner. A body of works has stemmed from her adaptation of the tale, spanning a variety of media and commenting on a political reality – the violent nature of economics in today’s society.

In what constitutes the centrepiece of the exhibition – Heart of Darkness, an illustrated reprint of Conrad’s original novella – Banner juxtaposes her own drawings representing swathes of magnified pinstripe fabric, the Square Mile trader’s uniform de rigeur with images she commissioned from Magnum conflict photographer Paolo Pellegrin, giving him the instruction to photograph the financial district of London as a conflict zone. The publication takes the form of a luxury magazine.

We encounter the publication Heart of Darkness for a second time in Banner’s film Phantom (2015). A drone camera banks and hovers, attempting to focus on the magazine’s image spreads; the downdraft from the spinning rotors simultaneously causes the pages to turn and chases the magazine across the ground.

In addition to the film, mfc-michèle didier is also pleased to present a series of five movie posters entitled The Greatest Film Never Made. Destined to act as genuine promotional tools, these posters (commissioned by Banner from three industry movie poster design studios) echo the narrative’s dramatic intensity through the use of radical contrasts in black and white.

With Banner’s work Breathing Bag, Conrad’s words see a new life breathed into them: A plastic bag fixed to the wall bearing an inscription seems to inhale and exhale air, deforming the sentence in turns between the original “Mistah Kurtz – He dead ” and the deceptive “Mistah Kurtz – He not dead ”.

These four works will be accompanied by Banner’s Full Stop Bean Bags, quite literally soft bean bags which take on the shape of full stops in different typefaces, including “Font” – The artist’s typographical chimaera which crossbreeds typefaces previously used in her work. In the past Banner has rendered these bean bags in Polystyrene and Bronze, here they are playfully blown up to human proportions and provide a moment to sit, to pause for thought.

Newly produced pieces will also join the body of existing works: Taking on the aspect of wallpaper, a large drawing covers an entire side of the gallery, presenting us with a close-up view of a suit-wearing man’s crotch. The black and white lines, here blown up to extreme proportions reference the pinstripe pattern so prevalent in the Financial Industry.

Lastly, no exhibition dedicated to Fiona Banner could omit her practice of publishing and so a selection of publications from the artist’s own imprint, The Vanity Press (created in 1997) will be on view and available for consultation.

mfc-michèle didier
66 rue Notre-Dame de Nazareth, 75003 Paris

Opening on Thursday November 17, 2016 from 6 pm to 9 pm
Exhibition from November 18, 2016 to January 7, 2017

Johannes Albers: new sculptures at Other Criteria London

October 19, 2016 by Mary

New unique sculptures by artist Johannes Albers are currently on show at Other Criteria London.

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In his new work Johannes Albers reminds us of those forgotten places, beneath the stairs, under a rug, in the gutter where a silent story continues. Some dust and random objects, an old shoe, what goes on after we are gone. When we die, the bacteria in our body flourishes. Life goes on after all of us. It is those places that Albers wants to reproduce and remind us about with his new work.

As Nietzsche wrote, "Once upon a time, in some out of the way corner of that universe which is dispersed into numberless twinkling solar systems, there was a star upon which clever beasts invented knowing. That was the most arrogant and mendacious minute of "world history," but nevertheless, it was only a minute. After nature had drawn a few breaths, the star cooled and congealed, and the clever beasts had to die."[1]

But what a minute we are having?

Other Criteria, 9 Newport Street, W1U 3BG London
October 18th – November 20th, 2016


[1] Friedrich Nietzsche,On Truth and Lies in a Nonmoral Sense (1873)

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