For those visiting during Art Basel in Hong Kong (29–31 March 2019), the smell of fresh paint may still be in the air at the latest heritage conservation project, The Mills, which opened on 16 March to encompass the Centre for Heritage, Arts and Textiles (CHAT), joining the ranks with ex-prison complex Tai Kwun, along with Eaton HK—a retro...
Firenze Lai says that she knows her studio of a few hundred square feet intimately; from the textures of its surfaces to the way the breeze blows into the room. The spaces depicted in her paintings are equally intimate. When curators seem to be at a loss for words to discuss troubled times, fear of containment, and the feeling of being completely...
In Meiro Koizumi's three-channel video installation, The Angels of Testimony (2019), the central frame features an interview with Hajime Kondo about his time as a solider of the Imperial Japanese Army during the Second Sino-Japanese War. The conversation centres on war crimes perpetrated in China, including the beheading of Chinese prisoners for...
Jonathan Wateridge, Green Shorts (2015) Photo via: Parafin.
Parafin, one of the newest additions to the buzzing Mayfair gallery scene in London, has opened its first group show.
The exhibition, entitled Blow Up, is a tribute to the eponymous cult film that Michelangelo Antonioni directed in 1966.
The film narrates a disturbing murder story that takes place in the Swinging 60s London, with an unforgettable cameo appearance by a young Jane Birkin, in the nude. But the protagonist of the film is a fashion photographer—thought to have been inspired by 60s legend David Bailey—and at the heart of the story lies a profound meditation on the implications of image making, the power of photographic images, and the blurring boundaries between reality and fiction.
Hynek Martinec's paintings and drawings explore ideas about time, history, reality and spirituality, often appropriating imagery from vintage photographs and the Old Masters.
Martinec's recent paintings are grisaille still lifes that play with the archetypes of the devotional picture and the vanitas. For example, both Every Minute You Are Closer to Death (2013) and Experience of Being Alive (2014) are still lifes in the tradition of the Dutch masters of the genre, yet contain contemporary objects from the twenty first century, a digital radio and a tablet computer displaying Damien Hirst's grinning diamond skull. You Will Become As My God (2013) depicts a complex still life before a vague interior space. The composition includes not only flowers, bread and a crab, but a party balloon. The whole is distorted with shaving foam and pierced by an arrow like a strange St Sebastian. The setting is an abandoned dancehall.
Martinec uses religious symbolism as he feels that in the twenty first century religion is still a pervasive part of our daily lives. It surrounds us and permeates throughout society, a fact of life whether we choose to partake or reject. However, there is also a powerful sense that in his work Martinec is pushing beyond the surface of things, perceiving meanings and interconnections that locate profundity in mundane reality. His intense contemplation of the world through which he moves seems to allow him to perceive a spiritual life like a shadow behind everyday reality.
Alongside the still lifes are new works are derived from vintage portrait photographs. The original images of anonymous sitters are rendered in Martinec's characteristic monochrome photorealist technique but are enlarged to the scale of traditional grand portraiture in the manner of Van Dyck or Rubens. In each painting Martinec has made subtle alterations, such as shifts in scale, as well as making telling interventions. In The Dog Knows (2015-16) a small flame flickers in the air above the head of the hound, suggesting a state of enlightenment in contrast to his self-important but gormless owner. In Good Afternoon Mr Martinec (2016), which Martinec relates to his own family, each person is granted an attribute—mushroom, apple, planet and, again, a flame of enlightenment—suggesting different qualities. The youngest member of the family—perhaps a cypher for the artist himself—clutches a massively enlarged paintbrush.
Hynek Martinec (born Broumov, Czech Republic, 1980) has exhibited internationally. Recent solo exhibitions include Every Minute You Are Closer to Death, Parafin, London (2014) and Intellectual Properties, Vaclav Spala Gallery, Prague (2015). Important recent group exhibitions include Blow Up: Painting, Photography and Reality, Parafin, London (2015), the John Moores Painting Prize 2014 at the Walker Art Gallery, Liverpool, as part of the Liverpool Biennial (2014), Beyond Reality: British Painting Today at the Galerie Rudolfinium, Prague (2012) and the Prague Biennial (2009). He was included in the BP Portrait Prize exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery, London in 2007, 2009 and 2013, winning the Young Artist award in 2007. Martinec's work is in private and public collections internationally including the National Gallery, Prague and the British Museum, London. Martinec lives and works in London. In 2017 he will have a major solo exhibition at the National Gallery in Prague.
Justin Mortimer (b.1970) is a British artist whose paintings consistently invite us to question the relationship between subject matter and content, beauty and horror, and between figuration and abstraction. While the imagery is almost exclusively pitiless, the texturing of the paint, the play between light and shade and the passages that lead from photo-realist definition to near-abstract formlessness are so sensitively handled as to make the work at least partially redemptive as well as to indicate a key philosophical dimension: the oblique relationship between evidence and interpretation.
Mortimer's new paintings reflect upon a world in a state of disorder. Mortimer is an avid observer of the social and political upheaval that is the staple of the international news agenda and here are echoes of recent events in Ukraine, Venezuela, Syria and Afghanistan. Yet Mortimer wrings from this tortured narrative of violence and oppression images of both hope and despair and well as a strange and troubling beauty.
The unity of Mortimer's images keeps on breaking. Limbs are dislocated, space is disrupted. Elisions of imagery suggest a fragmented and fragmentary reality. This is not just a reflection of the ways in which one's perception of the contemporary world is a kind of ever-evolving collage of imagery culled from an ongoing overload of print and digital information and layered over and upon our retinal vision, but also a suggestion of the ways in which the very fabric of society is increasingly fractured. The world is constantly shifting, and Mortimer's paintings hint at the tectonic cracks and shifts appearing in the old world order. Put simply, the paintings depict a world in which nothing is stable or certain.
In fact these troubling images are composites variously sourced from the Internet, from medical journals, holiday photos and black and white images of war, collaged on Photoshop before being worked into a painting. Each canvas is built up through layers of paint that are then scraped away and built up again until a fully achieved environment forms. In this, scenes of abasement take place beside a supermarket's plastic curtains, a washing line, some bobbing balloons, swathes of tarpaulin. The disjunctions take them beyond cold-eyed examinations of the atrocities of war and into a timeless, post-moral territory comparable to that marked out by Cormac McCarthy and JG Ballard. Real and imagined events become confused and the trajectory of humanity from barbarism to civilization is left in doubt.
Mortimer's paintings are not reportage or documentation, they are far too allusive and de-specified for that. Instead they represent a powerful and poetic visualisation of contemporary life, in all its grim and magical reality.
Justin Mortimer graduated from the Slade School of Art in 1992 and lives and works in London. He has won several prestigious awards including the EAST Award (2004), NatWest Art Prize (1996) and the BP National Portrait Award (1991).Recent solo exhibitions include Haunch of Venison, London (2012), Mihai Nicodim Gallery, Los Angeles (2011) and Master Piper, London (2010). Recent group exhibitions include How to Tell The Future from the Past, Haunch of Venison, New York (2013), Nightfall, MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Arts, Debrecen, Hungary (2012), MAC Birmingham (2011) and the 2011 Prague Biennial. His work is in numerous private and public collections including the National Portrait Gallery, London, the National Portrait Gallery, Canada, Royal Society for the Arts, Bank of America, NatWest Bank and the Flash Art Museum of Contemporary Art in Trevi, Italy.
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