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Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds Ocula Conversation Jess Johnson: Worlds Within Worlds

Geometric patterns, anthropomorphic characters, architectural spatial environments, and relics of the ancient world appear throughout Jess Johnson's artworks.Johnson's solo art-ventures began in drawing, but her long-term collaborative relationship with animator Simon Ward brings her drawings to life in videos and virtual reality. The animator has...

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Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger Ocula Conversation Melati Suryodarmo: Performance Art as Trigger

In 2012, Melati Suryodarmo opened Studio Plesungan in her native Surakarta, also known as Solo, the historic royal capital of the Mataram Empire of Java in Indonesia. Suryodarmo had returned to Indonesia from Germany, where she studied Butoh and choreography with Butoh dancer and choreographer Anzu Furukawa, time-based media with avantgarde...

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Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City Ocula Report Lagos Biennial 2019: Stories from Africa’s most Populous City 15 Nov 2019 : Jareh Das for Ocula

Under the direction of Folakunle Oshun, the second edition of the Lagos Biennial (26 October–23 November 2019) includes works by over 40 Lagos-based and international artists, architects, and collectives. Curated by architect Tosin Oshinowo, curator and producer Oyindamola Fakeye, and assistant curator of photography at the Art Institute of...

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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough Ocula Insight | Video
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Hans Hartung and Art Informel: Exhibition Walkthrough 15 October 2019

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...

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Ocula Insight | Video

Mark Bradford’s Call for Unity at Shanghai’s Long Museum

Sherry Paik 16 August 2019

Mark Bradford: Los Angeles at the Long Museum West Bund in Shanghai (27 July–13 October 2019) is the artist's largest solo exhibition to date in China. In this video for Ocula, Bradford and Diana Nawi, curator of the show, walk through selected works that convey the artist's concerns with global unity and social justice.

Key artworks from Los Angeles include He would see the country burn if he could be the king of the ashes (2019), a large-scale installation consisting of spheres suspended from the ceiling. Each sphere denotes an earth, signifying the 'increasing isolation'—in the words of the artist—that is developing in different parts of the world. Through his planets of scorched land and black ocean, Bradford calls for solidarity among international communities to start taking better care of each other and the environment.

Mark Bradford, Mithra (2008). Mixed media. 726.4 x 1963.4 x 635 cm / 286 x 773 x 250 inches. Exhibition view: Mark Bradford, Los Angeles, Long Museum, Shanghai (27 July–13 October). Photo: Yang Xiaozhe.

The signature work in Los Angeles is Mithra (2008), a boat-shaped sculpture that was originally created for Prospect.1, an international contemporary art biennale that was held in New Orleans six months after Hurricane Katrina. Evoking Noah's Ark, the work was built from salvaged street paintings and wooden boards from construction sites in New Orleans after the hurricane to commemorate the victims and to communicate hope. This is the first time Mithra is being exhibited outside the United States in its entirety.

Los Angeles also has on view Bradford's incessant experimentation with the boundaries of painting, such as Float (2019). The installation, which was made specifically for this exhibition, is composed of 12-metre-long deconstructed painting strips that cascade down from the ceiling to the floor.

Mark Bradford, Float (2019). Mixed media on canvas. 1041.4 x 533.4 x 533.4 cm / 410 x 210 x 210 inches. Exhibition view: Mark Bradford, Los Angeles, Long Museum, Shanghai (27 July–13 October). Photo: Yang Xiaozhe.

As Nawi notes in the video, most of Bradford's paintings depart from traditional painting methods in that they are constructed through collage. He used to help at his mother's beauty shop in Los Angeles, later working there as a professional stylist, and he utilised hairdresser's end papers in his abstract collages in the early 2000s. Many of the artist's later paintings employ a process that he has likened to archaeological digging; the process involves layering magazines, newsprints, photographs, torn billboards, and other found materials, and sealing them with clear shellac, then working the surface back to excavate colours and images that are buried underneath.

Social context has long been a driving force in Bradford's paintings. Using his work to explore systemised racism and the marginalisation of minorities in the United States, in a 2015 conversation with Ocula Magazine the artist commented that 'I have never believed that abstract painting can exist independent of its social context or history.' He is also the co-founder of Art + Practice, a non-profit organisation in Los Angeles that seeks to encourage creativity in youth under foster care and hosts curated exhibitions of contemporary art for the community.—[O]

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