An Opera for Animals was first staged at Para Site in Hong Kong between 23 March and 2 June 2019, with works by over 48 artists and collectives that use opera as a metaphor for modes of contemporary, cross-disciplinary art-making. The exhibition's second iteration takes up a large portion of the Rockbund Art Museum (RAM) in Shanghai (22 June–25...
Moving across installation, painting, drawing, and writing, Malaysia-born and London-based artist Mandy El-Sayegh explores the political, social, and economic complexities of humanity, using a mosaic of information—from advertising slogans and pornographic imagery to newspaper articles—that she subjects to processes of layering,...
Get Up Stand Up Now: Generations of Black Creative Pioneers at Somerset House in London (12 June–15 September 2019) surveys more than half a century of black creativity in Britain and beyond across the fields of art, film, photography, music, design, fashion, and literature.Curated by Zak Ové, works by approximately 100 intergenerational black...
Alexandre Arrechea, Atlántico (2015). Exhibition view: Alexandre Arrechea, El mapa del silencio (The Map of Silence), Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, 2015 Havana Biennial (23 May–22 June 2015). Photo: Cuban Art News.
With just about three months to go, the 13th Havana Biennial is taking shape.
Opening April 12 and running through May 12, Cuba's most important art event is expected to once again bring the international art world to Havana.
Postponed due to damage from Hurricane Irma in 2017, the 13th edition expands the Biennial's reach in Havana and around the island, under the theme La Construcción de lo Posible (The Construction of the Possible).
Cuban-born artist Alexandre Arrechea's broad, multimedia practice examines social conditions. He explores themes relating to socio-economic realities, power, secrecy, social control, and surveillance in public and domestic spaces. From large public sculptures to paintings, drawings, video, interactive installations, and arrangements of found objects, the artist has exhibited work in a variety of formats in exhibitions that include biennials in Havana, Johannesburg, São Paulo, Shanghai, Taipei, Moscow, Thessaloniki, Gwangju, and Venice. His art features in the collections of major institutions such as the Brooklyn Museum, New York; The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA), New York; Centro de Arte Contemporáneo de Caja de Burgos; The Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; and the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, Havana.
Graduating from the Instituto Superior de Arte (ISA) in Havana in 1994, Arrechea became a founding member of the collective Los Carpinteros (1994—2003), where his main interest was in blurring the lines between sculpture, design, and architecture. The collective consisted of three individuals who were ideologically opposed to elevating individual genius. They created humorous dysfunctional hybrids such as finely crafted wooden boxes in the shape of grenades. Like the art of the Dadaists in the 1920s, these boxes denied the grenade its original function, transforming it into something nonsensical.
After splitting with Los Carpinteros to pursue a solo career in 2003, Arrechea expanded his practice to include new forms, developing a more diverse type of socially engaged conceptual art. From early on, his solo work—varying in format, style, and specific concepts—principally explored notions of control, disempowerment, secrecy, privacy, and surveillance, as found in the public and private spaces of both Cuba and the United States.
A defining work in Arrechea's career, The Garden of Mistrust (2003—2005), speaks of surveillance and control. Consisting of a whitewashed aluminium tree with branches bearing, in total, 22 security cameras that constantly watch the viewer and transmit their image online, the installation openly intrudes upon the viewer's privacy to explore society's passive submission to control. The concept of viewer surveillance and the subsequent acceptance of disempowerment remains a running motif in the artist's artwork.
Large-scale installations examining the nature of social control and suggesting vigilance have become a mainstay of the artist's career. Placed along a 20-block stretch of the Park Avenue Malls, Arrechea's series of large public works, 'No Limits' (2013, New York), challenged New Yorkers' perceptions of familiar structures. Ten large sculptures depict iconic skyscrapers such as the Chrysler or Empire State Buildings, stretched to look like snakes or fire hoses and bent or wound into new forms.
While working on large-scale sculpture, installation, and video projections Arrechea also continues to explore social concerns through smaller painted artworks. Since 2015 the artist has been painting mask-like oval shapes on canvases, such as Máscara (2015) and the works of the 'Painting and Conflict' series (2019), which dissect and link the architecture of different areas (and socio-economic realities), exploring notions of conflict through the contrast of shapes, textures and colours drawn from different facades of a city. With its anthropomorphic qualities, the mask motif gives a living face to anonymous urban landscapes. This engagement with social disquiet and conflicts characterises the artist's practice in all forms.
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...
There was a point where Lucia Koch was disturbed by the fact that most approaches to her works took them only as expressions of atmospheric changes on spaces and the alterations that light, modulated by filters, produced on human perception.
Hélio Oiticica (1937 – 1980) is a now integral part of the New York art scene, in large measure thanks to his 2017 retrospective at the Whitney, To Organize Delirium, which provided New Yorkers with an opportunity to experience him in full.
On 1 August, Brazilian artist Antonio Dias lost a long battle to cancer at the age of 74. Beginning in the 1960s, the artist produced a vast body of work that, in formal and conceptual terms, stood in stark contrast to the sunny output of the previous decade.
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