Joan Mitchell, The last paintings

Then, Last Time IV, 1985, Oil on canvas, 259,1 x 200 cm

Joan Mitchell, The Last Paintings, 3 February-28 April 2012
Hauser & Wirth London

“My paintings aren’t about art issues. They’re about a feeling that comes to me from the outside, from landscape. […] Paintings aren’t about the person who makes them, either. My paintings have to do with feelings”. Joan Mitchell, 1974

Mitchell was born in Chicago and in 1950 moved to New York where she was one of the few female artists to participate in seminal exhibitions alongside prominent Abstract Expressionists such as Willem de Kooning, Jackson Pollock and Franz Kline. In 1959, Mitchell relocated to France. She stayed in Paris for eight years before she moved to Vétheuil where she remained for the last 25 years of her life, producing dynamic paintings despite such momentous events as the loss of close family, friends and her long battle with cancer that took her life in 1992.

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Books: Housmans Bookshop

Housmans is London’s premier radical bookshop
Housmans, Peace House, 5 Caledonian Road, Kings Cross, London N1 9DX

A not-for-profit bookshop, specialising in books, zines, and periodicals of radical interest and progressive politics who stock the largest range of radical newsletters, newspapers and art magazines of any shop in Britain.
In the basment, a vast, diverse, and ever-changing selection of second-hand books.

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Everything leads to another: “Me, dead at 37”


Matthew Day Jackson, Me, dead at 37 and Domestic drawing (LIFE, December 12, 1969), 2011

“In my work there is no past. History is a part of everything. Everything leads to another. As the sum of history moves out in 360 degrees from its center, which does not exist, it envelops the present. Perhaps you could say I am interested in moments of sublime beauty which carry their counterpart, otherwise known as terror, so closely that it is difficult to delineate one from the other. This has been the guide from the beginning. In my search for the edge, I meet heroes along the way and see myself reflected in the surfaces of the things I encounter.”

“We are not simply flesh and bone, but also the materials through which we express ourselves to the world outside. The siding of our home, the brand of automobile that we drive to the clothes we wear, these things become who we are. Much, if not all of this is shared, so as I become me, I become you.”

Me, Dead at 37 continues an ongoing series of photographs documenting fantasy scenarios of the artist’s own death.

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Cameron Platter: Black up that white ass II

Cameron Platter, Black up that white ass II, 2009

Cameron Platter, Black up that white ass II,  is a 26 minute animated video work, is a good vs. evil story of contemporary life in South Africa weaved through erotic pornography, historic battle stories, biblical parables, and physcadelic dream sequences.

Influenced by the tradition of storytelling in the medium of woodcuts, slasher gore, z-grade gangster films, local politics, witchdoctors, kids cartoons, mtv, penis extension machines, arcadia, strip clubs, tabloid horror stories, and the lure of casinos, this film speaks to us about the universal themes of sex, love, violence, beauty, and things falling apart.

With the meticulous appropriation of John Muafangejo, Big Wet Asses III, The Battle of Rorkes Drift in Kwazulu-natal, The Parable of the Good Shepard, and the Coen brothers’ Big Lebowski, Platter creates an ultra primitive, anti-aesthetic take on what it means to be alive in South Africa today.

Platter works with the time–consuming medium of animation, each sequence laboriously digitally handmade. the film’s soundtrack is specifically composed by Platter’s frequent collaborator Captain Asthma, and includes shades of death metal, Rozalla Miller’s Everybody’s Free, Kenny Rogers, South African Maskanda, and New Age Afro Blues Physcadelica.

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Dave Hullfish Bailey, Nils Norman, Surrounded by Squares

Nils Norman, Exhibition view, Surrounded by Squares, 2009

For ‘Surrounded by Squares’ Dave Hullfish Bailey and Nils Norman have each constructed elaborate sculptural installations. Both relate to education and ecology, design theory and the creative industries, as well as to the site of Raven Row.

Dave Hullfish Bailey has generated polygonal sculptural forms by feeding patterns of information about Spitalfields’ history of dissidence into 3-D design software used by contemporary architects to model high-rises. Under the shadow of the encroaching financial district, Bailey suggests that alternative models may exist for the ordering of space and information.

Nils Norman is interested in the way corporate culture absorbs what is outside itself, aping innovations from the ecological movement and the playscapes of alternative education, and transforming ideas about collectivism and sustainability into those about management of people and quick profit. For his installation, Norman has designed ‘a prototype workspace for the creative classes’, a hybrid object using amongst other things, aquatic filtering systems, a rocket oven and an arid garden.

Dave Hullfish Bailey (1963, living in LA) has had solo exhibitions at Secession, Vienna in 2006 and CASCO, Utrecht in 2007, as well as at Mesler & Hug Gallery in LA, where he also teaches at Art Center.

Nils Norman (1966, living in London) has exhibited in major museums internationally including Tate Modern and Kunsthalle Zurich. He is Professor at the Royal Danish Academy in Copenhagen and currently has an exhibition at SculptureCenter, New York.

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Katja Novitskova: Expo 2020 Gbadolite, 2001

Katja Novitskova, Cha City flag, Ba City flag, Tu City flag, 2010

Expo 2020 is a project by Femke Herregraven, Katja Novitskova, Matthias Schreiber, Chris Lee, Henrik van Leeuwen and Mikko Oustamanolakis.

“Finding Your Place in the World

The impact of global climate change is upsetting the balance of the world in a multitude of ways. Seasonal weather patterns have become erratic and animal migratory patterns confused. Vast areas land and entire islands have disappeared into the rising oceans. Displaced people are compounding economic and political pressures on the world’s governments as they try to accomodate these so-called climate refugees. Some states have fallen all together in the process and we are also beginning to see organized masses of displaced people operating as nomadic states. It is in this context that many of our conventional markers of certainty have vanished, and we are forced to reevaluate the meaning of where we are now and where we are going. Next to this dark picture however are the governments and corporations of the world who are trying to outrun this tragic scenario by boldy stepping out towards a future that sets humanity on the right path again. The Expo 2020’s Finding Your Place in the World theme is all about this journey. Through the pavilions being presented here, visitors will discover the unprecedented way in which they operate as an interconnected web of service and infrastructure to convert one of the most remote and empoverished areas of the globe into a model for the future of sustainable human habitation. The essential message here is that finding your place is also about making your place.

Expo 2020 Gbadolite will exist within a network of pavilions with Gbadolite in its heart. Pavilions is almost a symbolic title for projects that range from power plants and icebergs to temples and traditional medicine. Out of an immense variety of proposals countries and corporations had to select one project that would both express their most forward-thinking concepts and ideas, and serve the development goals of Expo 2020.”

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Tom Burr, Sentence


Tom Barr, Sentence, 2009

Tom Burr, Sentence, 10 September – 24 Oktober 2009
Bortolami, New York

There was no single work in Tom Burr’s recent exhibition “sentence” that was truly emblematic of the whole, but one pair at least came close. The two sculptures his personal effects (White) and (Natural) (both 2009) demonstrate a bold juxtaposition of randomness and precision and a fascination with the aura of ephemeral objects that united all the pieces here. Enclosing two pairs of worn-out sneakers in Plexiglas cases, one per shoe, and placing them atop wooden pedestals of differing heights colored according to the works’ subtitles, the New York- and Norfolk, Connecticut-based artist seems to have framed his exhibition as a meditation on entropy and loss, a series of forward steps that cohere only with a backward glance.

Tom Burr entered the picture then, back in the early 1990s when he started showing at Colin DeLand’s American Fine Arts in SoHo. AFA had already presented the fences and aluminum panels of Cady Noland and the domestic-object based installations of Jessica Stockholder; across the street and around the corner, Felix Gonzalez-Torres put out strings of light and Jack Pierson hung tinsel. Within this context, Burr was an important new voice in the dialogue of institutional critique, exploring the politics of minimalism and politics at large that were at the forefront of artistic and social concerns—notably identity, society and the body, often dealing with issues of sexuality, war and the structures of public and private spheres.

One distinction of Burr’s work that persists is his consideration of the ephemeral. This interest extends beyond time to all sensory experiences, which must be transitory by nature. He describes individual sculptures as ‘moments’ and thinks of their varied qualities in terms of musical notes, temperatures, and moods—qualities that cannot be trapped into the permanency of an object, but may be somehow suggested.

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Exhibition: In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artist Since 1955

In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artist Since 1955, 25 January -25 March 2012
ICA, Institute of Contemporary Art, London

In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955 is a survey exhibition of the often-overlooked genre of serial publications produced by artists around the world from 1955 to the present day. From the rise of the small press in the 1960s, to the DIY zine culture in the 1980s and early 1990s, professional artists have always seized on the format of magazines and postcards as a site for a new kind of art production.

In Numbers does not claim to be an exhaustive survey of serial publications since 1955, but aims to provide the contours of the genre. An extensive collection of artists’ serial publications is arranged into different groupings of periodicals in the Lower Gallery at the ICA, proving a diverse array aesthetically and globally, and requiring close inspection. Although periodicals first appeared in Europe around the end of 18th century, this exhibition features periodicals by avant-garde artists working within the last 60 years who adapted the format in their own ways, coming from movements such as Dada and De Stijl. There is no typical publication on display, although a commonality between the artists featured is that they are outsiders. There are general themes of subversion, resistance, evasion and innovation running through works in the survey.

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Valentino, Menswear, Fall 2012

Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli for Valentino, Menswear, Fall 2012

Once upon a time, women had a dressmaker; men had a tailor. The law of supply and demand elevated those services into haute couture and bespoke, which have, ever since, been the summit of human achievement when it comes to cut and cloth. But they’ve also remained a Venus and Mars-style proposition, which gave Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pier Paolo Piccioli’s proposals for the latest collection of Valentino’s menswear a twinge of subtle subversion. Inject the spirit of couture into the traditions of menswear?

Well, Chiuri and Piccioli felt it was worth a try. They were, after all, the special invitees of the 81st edition of Pitti Uomo in Florence, and that honor usually inspires designers to stretch their creativity. In their case, there was an added impetus. Valentino staged his first fashion show in Florence 50 years ago, and the designers who carry on his name wanted to give their menswear a sense of his legacy. “Memory is very important to innovate,” said Piccioli. “We wanted the same language in a different moment: the sharpness of shape, the belief in workmanship. We wanted to sculpt lightness.”

Their mood board told the tale. Monochrome images of Mastroianni and Delon in the early sixties, at the pinnacle of their male gorgeousness, were echoed on the catwalk in leanly tailored jackets and narrow trousers cropped over sockless shoes. The sharpness of white shirts and skinny black ties amplified the sixties feel, but at the same time, they had the new-wave flavor that niggles at the edge of so much that Chiuri and Piccioli do. Not darkness or danger, insisted Chiuri. “It’s something private. This is not a show-off collection. You need to look inside.” That in itself is a criterion of traditional couture—that a garment could be so perfectly crafted that it would look just as good when it was turned inside out. And here that challenge was met with thermal sealing—or bonding—rather than seaming. Not only was the result surprisingly light, but the internal structure of jackets bonded with traditional horsehair linings was a joy to behold. Same with a black leather jacket bonded with cashmere or a peacoat bonded with shearling. The notion of life on the inside peaked with a green leather jacket that had a perfect little coin purse zipped into its interior. So perfect, in fact, that there was something obsessive bordering on fetishistic about the detail.

Piccioli did indeed acknowledge that “obsessive perfection” is a spur for him and his design partner. At the same time, they insist they understand how a confident mix of sportswear casual and tailored formal is the essence of modern menswear. Here, their version of the mix was evident in the way a coat was thrown capelike over a suit (it was “sportiest” in a glazed denim). The look had an almost sinister precision that felt like the very opposite of casual. On the contrary, the fact that Chiuri and Piccioli have faith that there is a young man who will follow them where they want to lead is reassuring in the current climate.

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“Looking at where figurative painting is today, there is more room for creativity and imagination.”

Go Figure, Curated by Eddie Martinez, 6 October – 13 November, 2011
Dodge Gallery, New York

People say “painting is dead” and within that figure painting is mummified. Since painting began, we have used the figure to let people after us know that we existed before them. This is clear when we look at cave paintings wherein the “painted” people and animals and other symbols represented life. Looking at where figurative painting is today, there is more room for creativity and imagination. Take for instance the approach of artists in this show from Erik Parker’s weirdo psychedelic melting faces to Jamison Brousseau’s take on the figure represented by R2D2 from Star Wars. Gina Beavers current approach to the figure looks like studies that would have been done by someone enrolled in the “art students league” in New York City in the 1950’s. Another interesting component of the work in this show are the materials used and the execution of the works. For example Allison Schulnik’s technique is to use paint sculpturally to create her figures. She lays on thick impastos, whereas Daniel Gordon uses photography and collage to manipulate the look and feel of his work, often leaving the figures disfigured and mangled. Denise Kupferschmidt’s drawings evoke a re-imagined historical feel with paired down, Egyptian-meets-sci-fi characters.

Featured Artists:
Joshua Abelow, Derek Aylward, Gina Beavers, Brian Belott, Katherine Bernhardt, Jamison Brosseau, Ted Gahl, Daniel Gordon, Joseph Hart, Denise Kupferschmidt, Jose Lerma, Erik Parker, Allison Schulnik, Michael Williams

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