I first visited Havana in November 2016, a few days after Fidel Castro died, and just under a year before Hurricane Irma hit Cuba in September 2017. Since then, much has changed, including the hand-painted signs that punctuate the journey from the airport to the city centre, which today do not celebrate the revolution so much as the 'Unidad y...
The exhibition Beyond Boundaries at Somerset House in London (12 March–2 April 2019) marked the historic contributions of the Central Academy of Fine Arts, Beijing (CAFA) and the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London, on the occasion of their 100th and 150th anniversaries, respectively. Spread across several rooms of Somerset House's...
The National 2019: New Australian Art features work by 70 contemporary Australia-based artists split across three venues: the Art Gallery of New South Wales (AGNSW), Carriageworks, and the Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) (29 March–21 July 2019), as curated by Isobel Parker Philip, curator of photographs at AGNSW; Daniel Mudie Cunningham,...
Axel Vervoordt Gallery is proud to present a large group show entitled The Crime of Adolf Loos curated by the English curator, writer and advisor Alistair Hicks. Since the beginning of the 20th century, in a claim to modernity, ‘unnecessary’ decoration was removed from any work of art and architecture. Today, this idea seems obsolete. Most of the artists included in this show believe that it’s possible to be modern and embrace ornament.
In his 1908 essay 'Ornament and Crime', Adolf Loos, declared that you could not be decorative and modern. He makes no good arguments for this outrageous claim, just asserts it. Yet this view of Modernism has under-pinned the last hundred years of mainstream Western art history. This exhibition is devoted to contemporary artists who are resisting Loos' edict. They are finding their own balance between simplicity and ornament. The aim of this show is not only to make people re-examine their prejudice against ornament but rather to show that a curved line is every bit as revealing about the way we think and feel as a straight line.
Kamrooz Aram (an Iranian/American artist) observed that at a drop of a pen Loos dismissed two thirds of the world. Loos' strictures were taken up by Bauhaus and then almost every mainstream art school. Aram teaches in Parsons in New York, but sets out to heal the false rift between ornament and austerity. Waqas Khan (Pakistan) does not formally break any of Loos' rules, but the spirit of abstracted, rhythmic drawings are totally against such a limiting vision. For Zheng Guogu (China) who was educated after the Cultural Revolution, Loos' aesthetics and 'tasteful' ideas are a laughable irrelevance. What did Loos mean by: 'No-one can create ornament now who lives on our level of culture.' The works of Nikita Alexeev (Russia), a third generation Soviet, are hung here on a dividing wall that resembles the iconostasis that kept the people and their priests apart. He is not preaching with either words or images but letting them blur together so we find our own meaning somewhere between them.
The exhibition has a strong Turkish contingent : Fahrelnissa Zeid, Nilbar Güres, Asli Çavusoglu and Cansu Cakar. Alistair Hicks considers Istanbul as a barometer to the art world. The youngest of these, Cansu Cakar, has been given the most responsible role. She has created a six page illustrated manuscript of the complete text of 'Ornament and Crime'. It is only by reading every word does one realise how ridiculous his assertions were that have so distorted our lives. The final insult, as far as Loos is concerned is that the manuscript is unashamedly decorative, and she depicts the taste dictator with Papuan tattoos.
Senkichiro Nasaka, a member of the Japanese avant-garde movement Gutai, will be shown alongside Fahrelnissa Zeid, two artists who are now getting the attention they deserved but missed out in their prime as they lived in a world dominated by Loos' snobbery.
This exhibition is supported by Turkey One Association.
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