Sunday, 27 November 2016

Anselm Kiefer - White Cube, Bermondsey

Anselm Kiefer, Rorate Caeli Desuper, 2016
Anselm Kiefer: Walhalla is at White Cube, Bermondsey until 12 February 2017

Kiefer’s big themes – German history and mythology, creation and destruction – are fully present in this hugely ambitious show which summons both the Walhalla of Norse myth - the enormous hall to which the dead battle-heroes, chosen by Odin, were led by the Valkyries -  and the 19th century Walhalla, the marbled-monument to Germanic heroes created by King Ludwig I of Bavaria. However, in place of the gold of myth and the splendid polished marble of Ludwig’s neo-classical temple, Kiefer’s Walhalla is in the colours of concrete and lead.  
Kiefer has transformed the central corridor of White Cube’s huge Bermondsey gallery into a bleak, gloomy, dormitory of steel beds made up with lead sheets and pillows. In the galleries leading off the corridor are sculptures, vast paintings and installations – one, installation, Arsenal, replete with giant lead books fills an entire gallery; the paintings, made of oil, acrylic, emulsion, clay and lead are of ruined concrete towers in a scarred landscape under apocalyptic skies.
Astonishing – a Gesamkunstwerk.
Listen to Kiefer interviewed about the exhibition on Radio 4’s Front Row; read reviews by William Cook, Caroline Elbaor and Jonathan Jones.
Listen to Wagner’s Entry of the Gods into Walhalla from Das Rheingold.
See also blog entries on Kiefer's 2014 RA exhibition here and here.
Click on images to enlarge.
Anselm Kiefer, Walhalla, 1992-2016
Anselm Kiefer, Walhalla, 1992-2016 (detail)
Anselm Kiefer, Sursum corda, 2016
Anselm Kiefer, Sursum corda, 2016 (detail)
Anselm Kiefer, Arsenal, 1983-2016 (detail)
Anselm Kiefer, San Loreto, 2016
Anselm Kiefer, Walhalla, installation view
Anselm Kiefer, nubes pluant ustem, 2016
Anselm Kiefer, nubes pluant ustem, 2016 (detail)

Anselm Kiefer, Gehäutete Landschaft, 2016
Anselm Kiefer, Gehäutete Landschaft, 2016 (detail)
Anselm Kiefer, Walhalla, installation view
Anselm Kiefer, from Walhalla, 2016
Anselm Kiefer, Walhalla, 2016

Sunday, 20 November 2016

Jason Martin - Lisson Gallery

Jason Martin, Sawa, 2015
Jason Martin is at the Lisson Gallery until 7 January 2017
Jason Martin has been making gorgeous, textured, monochrome paintings for more than twenty years now. His new show at Lisson Gallery includes an intriguing development in the form of relief sculptures. Martin has made silver-plated casts of thick impasto, plaster forms shaped by his painterly gestures. They look fabulous.
Watch a short video of Martin talking about this work. (Don’t read the Lisson’s press release - except as a master class in artspeak!) 
(Click on images to enlarge)
Jason Martin, Fools of the Heart, 2016
Jason Martin, As Yet Untitled, 2015
Jason Martin, As Yet Untitled, 2016
Jason Martin, Itza, 2015
Jason Martin, Flintwinchthicken, 2015

Jason Martin, Untitled, 2016

Thursday, 10 November 2016

Norman Ackroyd - Fine Art Society

Norman Ackroyd, Balmoral Forest Loch Muick, 2002
Norman Ackroyd: Just be a Poet is at the Fine Art Society until 30 November 2016.
Norman Ackroyd has devoted a lifetime to the making of subtle and beautiful watercolours and prints – especially, aquatints – of the coastal landscape of the British Isles. He is drawn particularly to islands, from the Scillies to the northernmost point of the British Isles – Muckle Flugga on Shetland; he works out in all weathers, sometimes in a boat, making pictures of sea, rocks, birds, sky and light. The prints are made in his studio in Bermondsey.
Listen to an interview on BBC Radio 4’s Front Row (starts at 5'30"); watch a BBC film about him (NB the sound is missing at the very beginning); download a copy of the exhibition catalogue from the Fine Art Society.
Click on images to enlarge.
Norman Ackroyd, Cape Wrath, 2011
Norman Ackroyd, Loch Broom from Achiltibuie, 1993
Norman Ackroyd, Shiant Garbh-Eilean, 2010
Norman Ackroyd, Summer Isles - Wester Ross, 1992
Norman Ackroyd, Windermere on 27 January 1996
Norman Ackroyd, Roareim Flannan, 2011

Sunday, 30 October 2016

Art Prizes - Turner, Hepworth, Artes Mundi, John Moores

Helen Marten, Turner Prize 2016 installation
There are no less than 4 major art prizes currently showing in the UK.
The best known of these is the Turner Prize (first awarded in 1984), though the oldest is the John Moores Painting Prize which has been running since 1957; new kid on the block is the The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture - the inaugural exhibition opened 21 October 2016. But, arguably, the ‘biggest’ prize (both in terms of the cash awarded (£40,000) and the only one with a truly international perspective) is Artes Mundi in Cardiff – yet it seems to be the one which receives least attention.
The artists shortlisted for the Turner, Hepworth and Artes Mundi are listed below; for an overview of the John Moores, see earlier blog entry here. One artist – Helen Marten – is nominated for 2 prizes: the Turner and the Hepworth.
The Turner Prize 2016, Tate Britain (until 2 January 2017). Shortlisted artist: Michael Dean, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten, (also shortlisted for the Hepworth, see below) Josephine Pryde
Read reviews by Adrian Searle, Laura Cumming, Louisa Buck; see short videos on each of the artists here.
NB texts below are from the Tate website.
Michael Dean
Michael Dean, Sic Glyphs, 2016
Michael Dean, Turner Prize 2016 installation
"Michael Dean starts his work with writing - which he then gives physical form. He creates moulds and casts of his words, abstracting and distorting them into an alphabet of human-scale shapes, using materials that are instantly recognisable from everyday life such as concrete, steel, soil, sand and corrugated sheet metal.
Dean’s sculptures aren’t intended to be read as recognisable words, but he does want us to see an element of language in their forms – to be able to imagine a word or idea. Parts of his sculptures often resemble the human body: tongues, limbs, eyes, and casts of his family’s fists appear among the forms – directly referring to our bodies as we move through the gallery and around his works.
The work (United Kingdom poverty line for two adults and two children: twenty thousand four hundred and thirty six pounds sterling as published on 1st September 2016) consists of £20,436 in pennies. This is the amount of money the government states is the minimum that two adults and two children need to survive for a year in the UK. When installing the work, Dean removed one coin, meaning that now the money you see before you is one penny less than the poverty line."
Anthea Hamilton

Anthea Hamilton, Turner Prize 2016 installation
Anthea Hamilton, Project for Door (After Gaetano Pesce), 2015 - Turner Prize 2016 installation
"Research is at the heart of Anthea Hamilton’s work, whether it is into art nouveau design, the roots of 1970’s disco or lichen. Each subject is studied closely and used as a lens through which to view the world. Hamilton talks of being strongly influenced by the early 20th century French writer and dramatist Antonin Artaud and his call for the ‘physical knowledge of images’. It is this bodily response to an idea or an image that she wants us to experience when we encounter her work and its use of unexpected materials, scale and humour. 
For the Turner Prize Hamilton re-stages the exhibition for which she was nominated at New York’s Sculpture Center, with wallpaper ‘bricks’ covering the walls. She has also made new works specifically for Tate including a floor to ceiling mural of the London sky at 3pm on a sunny day in June. 
Project for a Door (After Gaetano Pesce) is a large backside (or ‘butt’) inspired by a photograph showing a model by Italian designer Gaetano Pesce. Originally intended as a doorway into a New York apartment block, the work was never realised. Project for a Door is part of a series by Hamilton of larger than life-size remakes, physical realisations of images taken from her archive."
Helen Marten
Helen Marten, Limpet Apology (traffic tenses), 2015
Helen Marten, work included in Turner Prize 2016 installation
"Helen Marten uses sculpture, screen printing and her own writing to produce installations that are full of references, from the contemporary to the historical, and the everyday to the enigmatic. For the Turner Prize she brings together a range of handmade and found objects drawn from daily life and more unusual sources (including cotton buds, coins, shoe soles, limes, marbles, eggs, snooker chalk and snakeskin). Her collage-like gatherings of objects and images have a playful intent, creating poetic visual puzzles that seem to invite us into a game or riddle. 
Marten’s exhibition space is divided into three sections. Each suggests a workstation or terminal where some unknown human activity has been interrupted. When we encounter her installations, it is as if Marten asks us to become archaeologists of our own times, and to consider familiar items as if we are seeing them for the first time. In the process, these objects may become strange and abstract - ‘husked down’, Marten says, ‘to geometric memories of themselves’, that can be remodelled to give rise to new and unexpected stories or ideas.
Marten encourages us to look very closely at the items she makes and the materials she uses, and to reconsider the images and objects we surround ourselves with in the modern world."
Josephine Pryde
Josephine Pryde, Für Mich 2, 2014
Josephine Pryde, Turner Prize 2016 installation
"Josephine Pryde uses photography and sculpture to explore the nature of image making and display. For the Turner Prize she has created new works using domestic kitchen worktops. To make these pieces, Pryde placed objects on the back of the worktops and then exposed them to sunlight in London, Athens and Berlin. The resulting marks are reminiscent of photograms, a cameraless photographic technique developed by early photographers but often associated with experimental 20th century photography. The works were made over the summer of 2016 and mark the time between the artist’s nomination for the Turner Prize and the opening of this exhibition. 
The New Media Express in a Temporary Siding (Baby Wants To Ride) is a scale model of a Class 66 diesel locomotive and carriages in DB Schenker livery. The carriages are tagged by graffiti artists from the cities in which the train has previously been exhibited. For its presentation here at Tate Britain, the train, as the adapted title of the piece suggests, is temporarily static, elevated on a platform and awaiting its next move.
Pryde’s ongoing series of photographs, Hands “Für Mich”, resemble fashion or advertising images. They are closely cropped and focus on the models’ upper body and hands, which are touching objects such as phones, computer tablets, driftwood and notebooks. Our attention is drawn to the point at which the body and the object meet and to the gestures the hands perform."
The Hepworth Prize for Sculpture, Hepworth, Wakefield (until 19 February 2017). Shortlisted artists: Phyllida Barlow, Steven Claydon, Helen Marten, David Medalla
Read a review by Adrian Searle
Texts taken from the Hepworth website. Click on names to link to short videos about the artists.)
Phyllida Barlow
Phyllida Barlow, Scree Stage
"Barlow creates large-scale works that are often made from inexpensive material, like cardboard, plywood and polystyrene, crudely painted in industrial or synthetic colours."
Steven Claydon
Steven Claydon, Hepworth Prize installation
"Claydon’s work is proof, if any were needed, that opposites attract. Often playful, always thought-provoking, his pieces are fusions of old and new and raw and man-made.
'I always try to make something that then gets up and walks off. Once that collaboration has taken place, between the material and the idea, then it just kind of charges off. Sometimes I don’t even recognise the things that I’ve made.'"
Helen Marten (also shortlisted for the Turner, see above)
Helen Marten, Part Offering series
"Marten’s work is impossible to pigeonhole. In between exhibitions she has what she calls ‘hibernation periods’ where she goes through hundreds of notebooks of scribbles and writing in search of inspiration. To date, her creative output includes sculptures that mix original and found objects, videos, text, and screen-printed paintings in a super-flat cartoon style.
'In a world collapsing under the pressure of a billions of personal interfaces, it is exciting to celebrate our relationship to physical touch.'”
David Medalla
David Medalla, Cloud Canyons
"His work ranges from sculpture and kinetic art to painting, installation and performance art and he draws inspiration from his various travels and the people he meets along the way.
'I think artists are really constructors of images and metaphors, and rarely could one be so arrogant as to say, ‘Look I’m going to change the world and discover DNA’.'”

Artes Mundi 7, National Museum Cardiff and Chapter, Cardiff (until 26 February 2017). Shortlisted artists: John Akomfrah, Neïl Beloufa, Amy Franceschini / Futurefarmers, Lamia Joreige, Nástio Mosquito, Bedwyr Williams
Read a review by Adrian Searle.
NB texts are taken from the Artes Mundi website
John Akomfrah
John Akomfrah, still from Auto da Fé, 2016
"Ghanian born John Akomfrah is a seminal figure in Black British Cinema and forerunner in digital cinematography. He has a body of work that is considered one of the most distinctive and innovative in contemporary Britain.
For 30 years the artist, director, writer and theorist has been highlighting the legacy of African diaspora in Europe by creating films that explore marginalised histories of European society.
Akomfrah was a founding member of the Black Audio Film Collective and he is well-known for films including The Nine Muses (2010), Speak Like a Child (1998) and The Stuart Hall Project (2013)."
Neïl Beloufa
Neïl Beloufa, still from Monopoly
"Award winning French-Algerian artist Neïl Beloufa’s uses video and multimedia to explore and parody social interaction through subjects as diverse as extra-terrestrials, nationalism and terrorism.
Beloufa’s sculptures, assemblages, videos and installations use displaced, condensed or fictional images. These works exist in a world that parallels our own and delights in it, where the incidental surfaces as the subject, and where these subjects are as likely to meet as two submarines or two satellites. His moving image works look at social interaction and conversation. Set in often mundane or ambiguous settings his characters play out scripted events that reveal subtle consequences and intimate gestures."
Amy Franceschini / Futurefarmers
Amy Franceschini and Futurefarmers, Seed Journey
"Futurefarmers is a group of art and farming practitioners founded in 1995 by California-based artist Amy Franceschini.  A consistent line through Franceschini’s work reveals sustained questioning about how “nature” and “culture” are perceived. She uses various modes to uncover histories and currents related to this divide by challenging systems of exchange and tools used to “hunt” and “gather.” Her work manifests as temporary public art, museum exhibitions, publications, bus tours, public programs and most recently permanent public art.  
Futurefarmers work towards creating a diverse programme of public commissions, exhibitions and publications, which explore and challenge systems of public transportation, rural farming networks and food policies."
Lamia Joreige
Lamia Joreige, still from Here and Perhaps Everywhere
"Lamia Joreige is a Lebanese artist and filmmaker who uses archival documents to reflect on the relationship between ‘individual’ and ‘collective’ memory. Her work explores the trauma of the Lebanese wars with emphasis on her home city, Beirut. In 2011, Joreige’s work Objects of War, a series of video testimonials on The Lebanese Civil War, was the first major piece of Lebanese art to be acquired by Tate Modern."
Read an interview in Studio International.
Nástio Mosquito
Nástio Mosquito, The Transitory Suppository
"Nástio Mosquito is a multimedia, performance and spoken word artist who often places himself centre stage in his work, using mimicry to explore global and African politics. He often assumes roles,through mimicry, in order to express ideas occurring to him, not so much as his own cherished beliefs but rather observations on human folly manifested in modern life. The distance between his actual identity and such characterisations enables him to express himself variously as being transgressive, cool, cynical, profane and vulgar. He is particularly well known for works that refer to the Angolan Civil War, as well as sexual politics, consumerism and other symptoms of globalization."
Bedwyr Williams
Bewyr Williams, still from Tyrrau Mawr
"Bedwyr Williams uses multimedia, performance and text to explore the friction between ‘the deadly serious’ and ‘the banal’ aspects of modern life. Williams is known for satirizing the relationship between the artist and curator by creating absurd scenarios for them to appear in. More recently he has explored, through video, themes of dystopia and mankind’s significance in the universe.
Video, in recent years, has become of particular interest after a decade working with spoken word performance. This new film work mixes media and involves collaboration using humour and bathos to explore issues and subjects including, our insignificance in the universe (The Starry Messenger, 2013) a hoarding dystopian future (ECHT, 2014) and buildings with odd angles (Hotel 70º, 2015).
His most recent work ,Century Egg, 2015, made during a residency with the Museums of Cambridge University, ponders the idea of preserving objects and the moment when ‘things’ become archived ‘things’."
Read a review of his recent Barbican exhibition in Studio International, and watch a video interview.

Footnote
Another artist – Hito Steyerl - was included on the original shortlist but has since withdrawn. This is a pity because, according to the recently published Arts Review Power 100, 2016 Hito Steyerl appears to be just about the hottest artist working today. (obviously, the list is to be taken with a generous pinch if salt but on a list dominated by gallerists and museium directors Hito Steyerl is at no.7 the highest placed of the 25 or so named artists,. According to Artes Mundi webpage announcing her withdrawal they are  discussing working with Hito on another project in the not too distant future. Something to look forward to.
Hito Steyerl, How Not to Be Seen - watch extract here
John Moores 2016, Walker Art Gallery 2016 (until 27 November 2016). Winner, 2016: Michael Simpson (See earlier blog entry, here.)