French gallerist Almine Rech-Picasso opened her first space in Asia on Shanghai's historic Bund in July this year, bringing her eponymous gallery's total locations to five. The Shanghai gallery occupies roughly 4,000 square feet on the second floor of the three-storey Amber Building, a beautiful warehouse space, originally occupied by the Central...
There's an inside joke amongst the team of Ashkal Alwan, The Lebanese Association for Plastic Arts: that every time an edition of its biennial forum on cultural practices is planned, a national crisis happens. The eighth edition of Home Works was no different: it opened on 17 October amidst the most devastating wildfires that Lebanon had witnessed...
Hans Hartung and Art Informel at Mazzoleni London (1 October 2019-18 January 2020) presents key works by the French-German painter while highlighting his connection with artists active in Paris during the 50s and 60s. In this video, writer and historian Alan Montgomery discusses Hartung's practice and its legacy.Born in Leipzig in 1904, Hans...
Exhibition view: Chromo Sapiens, the Icelandic Pavilion at the 58th International Art Exhibition–la Biennale di Venezia (2019). Courtesy AnOther. Photo: Ugo Carmeni © Hrafnhildur Arnardóttir / Shoplifter.
The 58th edition of the Venice Biennale, May You Live in Interesting Times curated by Ralph Rugoff–from London’s very own Hayward Gallery–proves to be as interesting as its title promises. Venice is an easy city to get lost in, and it’s easy to see why Proust dubbed the city’s labyrinth of alleyways a network of 'innumerable slender capillary lines'. This is a living city, a water-bound body propped on ancient tree trunks that has supported innovative art since the festival’s conception in 1895. It may be small but the Italian island is a beating heart for creativity–it has been for years. Here are a few things to look out for this year if you find yourself lost in La Serenissima.
With a practice that encompasses painting, sculpture, performance and tapestry, French artist Laure Prouvost is perhaps most known for her immersive and non-linear film installations. Through an ongoing inquiry into language, Prouvost invites viewers into a world where boundaries are indefinite and reality and fantasy merge.
Translation—whether between languages or artistic mediums—and its resulting misunderstandings are recurring concerns in Prouvost's work. For instance, her seven-part film and installation work The Wanderer (2012) is an adaptation of British artist Rory Macbeth's 2009 German-English translation of Franz Kafka's The Metamorphosis (1915). Macbeth, who does not read German, translated the novella without a dictionary, resulting in a story that bears only the vaguest traces to its original. For The Wanderer, Prouvost first translated Macbeth's words into film, then film into sculpture in accompanying installations. One of the video's seven sequences was filmed in a London pub—an environment that the artist later recreated as an installation in the exhibition the wet wet wanderer (2017) at Witte de With Center for Contemporary Art in Rotterdam as a vodka bar with fountains spraying diluted ink, and white neon letters from Macbeth's translation written on the wall. Prouvost's version of the story also undergoes a process of mistranslation; Gregor Samsa, a travelling salesman in Kafka's story and a wanderer in Macbeth's, appears in The Wanderer as an alcoholic writer who writes with squid ink and works at an African hair salon.
In 2013, Prouvost was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize for Wantee, a film installation that demonstrates her flair for blurring the boundaries between fiction and reality. Originally created for the Schwitters in Britain exhibition at Tate (also 2013), Wantee derives its title from the German artist Kurt Schwitters' partner Edith Thomas, who had a habit of asking, 'Want tea?' In the video, the artist narrates the story of her grandparents in their English Lake District cottage. The film blurs fact and fiction as do many of Prouvost's works that include her grandparents; throughout her oeuvre, it remains ambiguous as to whether the two characters are real, semi-real or entirely fictitious. This film recalls, for example, how Prouvost's grandfather (who was apparently a friend of Schwitters and a less successful artist) dug a tunnel in order to get to Africa; one day, he disappeared down the hole, never to be seen again. In a recent interview with Ocula Magazine, Prouvost commented on the potential of fiction to strengthen reality: 'I was thinking...about whether or not fiction is an answer to reality. It kind of enhances reality or through art, this kind of emotional reality. It makes you question your own reality, so that your reality becomes fictional.'
For Prouvost, the same fictional narrative can be expanded and expressed in different ways. The apocryphal grandmother from Wantee, for instance, returns in Grandma's Dream (2013), a film montage that visualises her daydreams. Prouvost also attributes to the same character the sculpture Forward looking teapot by Grandma (2017)—a whimsical glass teapot with an extraordinarily long spout that curves like an elephant's nose.
Through her installations, Prouvost seeks to create environments in which her viewers may lose themselves, forming their own, individual interpretations of her work. Swallow (2013), for example—an immersive film installation shown at Whitechapel Gallery in London—particularly aims to attract the spectator by interlacing snippets of pleasurable images. Close-ups of a freshly plucked flower, birds, bathing women, ripe raspberries and the blue sky, among other images, construct a visually and aurally stimulating sequence. The narration, voiced by the artist, addresses the audience directly—'This image is undressing you... You drink this image...'—further encouraging and anticipating our consumption of the film.
The female body (or parts of it) is another recurrent theme in Prouvost's humorous, imaginary world. In collaboration with CHART Art Fair in 2017, the artist placed posters, billboards and banners depicting parts of the female nude—mostly breasts and bottoms—throughout Copenhagen. Paired with phrases such as 'We are coming out' and 'We are staring at you', the series displaced the voyeuristic or male gaze historically associated with female nudity in art. 'The Hidden Paintings Grandma Improved' (2017–ongoing) reimagines this series and similarly depicts parts of the female body set against a black backdrop, with their respective titles such as Pushing Forward and This Is Not A Minimalist Painting written in white capital letters. In her interview with Ocula Magazine, Prouvost revealed that the artworks are a result of her grandmother amending her late grandfather's paintings of breasts with text, a gesture that references the history of scarce attention given to female artists unlike their male counterparts.
Prouvost graduated with a BFA from Central Saint Martins, London, in 2002 and an MFA from Goldsmiths, University of London, in 2010. She has held solo exhibitions at Palais de Tokyo, Paris (2018); Lisson Gallery New York (2018); Walker Art Center, Minneapolis (2017); Red Brick Art Museum, Beijing (2016); Grand Palais, Paris (2014); Whitechapel Gallery, London (2013); Frieze London (2011, 2010); and Tate Britain, London (2010), among others. Prouvost's work has also featured in international exhibitions including the Baltic Triennial (2018); Kyiv Biennale (2015); Taipei Biennial (2014); and Art Basel (2014). She will represent France at the 58th Venice Biennale in 2019. The artist lives and works in London and Antwerp.
Best known for his large-scale, grid-like paintings, artist Sean Scully has long been a proponent of abstraction. Desiring to rescue the mode from remoteness and re-inject it with exalted feeling, in a 2016 interview with Ocula Magazine, Scully explained his devotion to the style, saying, 'in my paintings, I don't paint space. I paint things. I paint the stripe as if it's a kind of life and death.'
Born in Dublin, Scully grew up south of London and studied painting at Croydon School of Art, London, and Newcastle University, where he was inspired by the colour field paintings of Mark Rothko and the minimalist abstraction of Bridget Riley. In the 1970s, he moved to America for a graduate fellowship at Harvard and later settled in New York, where he still lives part-time, in addition to Bavaria. His status as an immigrant and outsider has long been an important part of his philosophy about life and art.
Scully's earliest paintings, made in the UK, were inspired by the bright colours and wild stripes of Moroccan textiles. However, following his move to America in the 1970s, Scully simplified his motif and reigned in his palette. His paintings from that era to the present day are characterised by their compositions that are made up of several rectangular or square sections painted in various colours—often deep, rich and stormy or autumn-toned hues. Several thickly brushed layers of oil paint on each section result in illusions of luminescence or movement, with a dynamic surface texture often compared to skin.
Reflecting his upbringing in working-class neighbourhoods and his adult life in cities, Scully's works from the 1980s were inspired by conflict, discord, haphazard urban planning and human competition for survival—weighty themes reflected in the paintings' sombre palettes and cramped, brick-like compositions. While in such early works Scully used tape to delineate the clean, structured sections on his canvases, he later abandoned that hard-edge aesthetic and began painting more loosely, allowing the shapes to breathe and show evidence of their making. In Battered Earth (1988), for example, patches of cream-coloured rectangles belie their earthy underlying layers, as do the blood-coloured sections with the umber paint beneath.
Showing a further loosening up of technique, Scully's major 'Wall of Light' series works (1998–ongoing) are first drawn out with charcoal stuck to the end of a long stick before being filled in with paint. The series begun when the artist was travelling in Mexico and was struck by the play of light on Mayan stone walls. Indeed, the combination of vertical and horizontal bars in Scully's paintings are often compared to architectural elements; the sections are said to resemble Stonehenge-like structures.
While he mostly works with oil on canvas, Scully also uses watercolour, pastels and aquatints, as well as painting directly on aluminium—a support that enhances the thickness of the oil paint and its illusion of emitting light. His recent sculptures borrow the same compositions as his paintings; Air (2018) is a large cube made of multi-coloured recinto, marble and cantera, assembled in blocks that create asymmetrical grid patterns when viewed from each angle.
Scully has been named as a Turner Prize nominee twice: in 1989 and again in 1993.
'I'm the Donald Trump of the art world,' Sean Scully jokingly declared in the BBC documentary released in April this year about his art and life as one of the world's wealthiest living artists, in which he jets around the world on his private jet.
Anish Kapoor, Louise Bourgeois, Rachel Whiteread, Gerhard Richter. These may not be names that spring to mind when you think of the British Museum, but they all have work filed away in its extensive archive of prints and drawings. 'Pushing Paper: Contemporary Drawing from 1970 to Now' lifts a lid on a lesser-known collection at a museum renowned...
Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries (Young-hae Chang and Marc Voge)How did you first encounter the work of Nam June Paik?Paik accosted us in Paris, on the rue de Seine, in front of his hotel, La Louisiane, during the open market. Then he ran up to his room and brought us back a catalogue of his current show.
As always, there are many wonderful exhibitions, film festivals, and art events taking place throughout the fall in New York. We've put together our recommendations, and hope that they encourage you to explore the artistic happenings of this great city. Focusing on museums, art nonprofits, and galleries that continue to make New York a global hub...
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