IDEA FACTORY //
Bruce Nauman was one of the most prominent, influential, and versatile American artists to emerge in the 1960s. Although his work is not easily defined by its materials, styles, or themes, sculpture is central to it, and it is characteristic of Post-Minimalism in the way it blends ideas from Conceptualism, Minimalism, performance art, and video art. The revival of interest in Marcel Duchamp in the 1960s also clearly influenced Nauman in various ways, from encouraging his love of wordplay to infusing his work with a satirical and sometimes absurdist tone. Despite the impact of Dada, however, he has continued to view his art less as a playful or creative enterprise than as a serious research endeavor, one he likes to carry out in seclusion from the art world, one that is shaped by his interests in ethics and politics.
Some of Nauman's earliest work was shaped by ideas that arose in the wake of Minimalism in the late 1960s. In particular, the way he treated the body - often his own, shown on video completing repetitive tasks - and the way he related the body to surrounding objects show the impact of Minimalism's new ideas about the relationship between the viewer and the sculptural object. His occasional interest in abstraction and sculptural concerns such as gravity also betray the style's influence. But Nauman, shunned the slick production values of Minimalism and has often showed a preference for a cruder manner of presentation.
Ludwig Wittgenstein's ideas about language have been an important influence on his work, shaping his interest in the way words succeed or fail in referring to objects in the world. The philosopher's outlook has also no doubt influenced the tone of some of Nauman's work, which sometimes has comic, absurdist touches, employing jokes and word play, and yet also touches on obsessive behavior and frustration.
Much of Nauman's work reflects the disappearance of the old modernist belief in the ability of the artist to express his ideas clearly and powerfully. Art, for him, is a haphazard system of codes and signs, just like any other form of communication. Aside from informing his use of words, it has also encouraged him to use "readymade" objects - objects that, unlike paintings or traditional sculptures, already carry meanings and associations from their use in the world - and to make casts of objects ranging from the space underneath chairs to human body parts.
OTHER INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS:
CORNELIA PARKER // COLD DARK MATTER: AN EXPLODED VIEW // 1991//
Cornelia Parker's Cold Dark Matter installation is the view of an exploded shed suspended in space. She has successfully frozen and preserved a second in time. The calamity can violence of the scene is juxtaposed by the tranquillity of the actual installation. It is heavily lit from the centre and as a result dramatic shadows are cast on the surrounding walls so that the explosion appears to be expanding outwards.
Like Parker, our installation involving broken glass, illustrates the force of destruction by freezing a brief moment in time. As a result, the expected brutality is contrasted by the peace and beauty of the work.
"This piece came out of a series of works I was doing about cartoon deaths - things like, things falling off cliffs, things being run over by a steam roller, things being blown up, shot full of bullets, like Roadrunner or Tom and Jerry. The garden shed came about because I was trying to find something universal and archetypal and that we all identified with and that was familiar to us. It's not the house but it's this kind of attic-y private place at the bottom of the garden which we put all our left-over stuff in. And so it seemed like a depository rather than the place that you live. We took it out to the Banbury Army School of Ammunition, to their demolition grounds where they do all these experiments with explosives and they were really keen to blow it up. I actually pressed the button that detonated it.
The whole point of suspending it is to rob it of its pathos. After it was blown up and all the objects were lying on the floor, all very distressed, they had a pathos and somehow putting it back in the air where they were a little while before, it sort of re-animates them.
The title of the piece is called 'Cold Dark Matter: An Exploded View'. It's a two-part title really. The 'cold dark matter' I really like because obviously explosions have all kinds of connotations, dark ones being the most prominent. Also, 'cold dark matter' sounds like a psychological state - a mood or an atmosphere or a depression - I like the sound of that. It's a scientific term: it was coined to describe all the stuff in the universe you can't quantify, all the stuff they know is there but you can't see, which seemed a perfect description. And then 'an exploded view' is the kind of diagram you get in technical manuals to describe how a car works or a bike or a lawnmower, a very pragmatic laying out of stuff. And so that's what I was trying to do, to organise something tat was totally beyond our control and emotional control."
Marlene Dumas //
Marlene Dumas is one of the most prominent painters working today. Her intense, psychologically charged works explore themes of sexuality, love, death and shame, often referencing art history, popular culture and current affairs – themes you can explore through related events.
‘Secondhand images’, she has said, ‘can generate first-hand emotions.’ Dumas never paints directly from life, yet life in all its complexity is right there on the canvas. Her subjects are drawn from both public and personal references and include her daughter and herself, as well as recognisable faces such as Amy Winehouse, Naomi Campbell, Princess Diana, even Osama bin Laden. The results are often intimate and at times controversial, where politics become erotic and portraits become political. She plays with the imagination of her viewers, their preconceptions and fears.
Born in 1953 in Cape Town, South Africa, Dumas moved to the Netherlands in 1976, where she came to prominence in the mid-1980s. This large-scale survey is the most significant exhibition of her work ever to be held in Europe, charting her career from early works, through seminal paintings to new works on paper.
Great Men //
In a series of work titled 'Great Men' Dumas creates a group of portraits made in response to Russia’s anti-gay legislation.
Dumas celebrates the achievements of these men which have not been suitably recognised as a result of their sexuality.
To link this into my own work I could address the issue of gender equality. This would successfully link with the feminine process of embroidery and the material hair.
OTHER INFLUENTIAL ARTISTS:
JUDY CHICAGO // THE DINNER PARTY // 1979
The Dinner Party by Judy Chicago is an important icon of 1970's feminist art. The Dinner Party comprises a massive ceremonial banquet, arranged on a triangular table with a total of thirty-nine place settings, each commemorating an important woman from history. The settings consist of embroidered runners, gold chalices and utensils, and china-painted porcelain plates with raised central motifs that are based on female genitalia forms and rendered in styles appropriate to the individual women being honoured. The names of another 999 women are inscribed in gold on the white tile floor below the triangular table.
'Widely regarded as the first epic feminist artwork'
TRACY EMIN // EVERYONE I HAVE EVER SLEPT WITH 1995
In 'Everyone I have ever slept with' Tracey Emin embroiders the name of everyone she has ever slept with in a literal and sexual sense. She uses embroidery, a traditional female process, to emphasise the femininity of the sculpture and to challenge what society assumes from the art works title.
"Some I'd had a shag with in bed or against a wall some I had just slept with, like my grandma. I used to lay in her bed and hold her hand. We used to listen to the radio together and nod off to sleep. You don't do that with someone you don't love and don't care about"
Wenda Gu //
An art installation which features international flags made entirely out of human hair.
Shanghai-born artist Gu Wenda has created United Nations: Man And Space using locks of hair held together with glue.
HUMAN BEING : BEING HUMAN //
THE LANGUAGE OF STUFF //
Bruce Nauman : Exaggerated Square //
AGNES MARTIN // TATE MODERN
Agnes Martin is perhaps most recognised for her evocative paintings marked out in subtle pencil lines and pale colour washes. Although restrained, her style was underpinned by her deep conviction in the emotive and expressive power of art. Martin believed that spiritual inspiration and not intellect created great work. ‘Without awareness of beauty, innocence and happiness’ Martin wrote ‘one cannot make works of art’.
Martin lived and worked in New York, becoming a key figure in the male-dominated fields of 1950s and 1960s abstraction. Then in 1967, just as her art was gaining acclaim, Martin abandoned the city and went in search of solitude and silence. For almost two years she travelled across the US and Canada before finally settling in New Mexico as Georgia O’Keeffe, Mark Rothko, DH Lawrence and Edward Hopper had done before her. Working within tightly prescribed limits she imposed on her own practice Martin was able to continue to make extraordinary, visionary paintings, for over three decades until her death in 2004.
THE WORLD GOES POP // TATE MODERN
I visited The World Goes Pop exhibition at the Tate Modern. Pop art is a movement of art which emerged in the mid-1950s in Britain and the United States. Pop art presented a challenge to traditions of fine art by including imagery from popular culture such as advertising and news. I thought it would be a suitable exhibition to visit within the context of the project Human Being // Being Human as it accurately reflects the life style, behaviour and interests of mankind.
"Tate Modern's show of the world's pop art is challenging, political and bright"
Traditionally Pop Art is centred around the theme of desire and common imagery includes, coke bottles, Cadillacs, Elvis, Marilyn, fridges, pin-ups and Mickey Mouse. However The World Goes Pop is an original and refreshing display of pop art work which focuses more on the theme of accusation. It also features a global selection of artists who are determined to show us how ghastly the world actually was in the 1960s. Interestingly, this exhibition of horrendous post war life is disguised by the colourful and brightfacade of pop art style, and for this reason it can be seen as humorous.
"say something with a smile and the whole world thinks you are joking"
AI WEIWEI EXHIBITION // RA
ALTERED SPACES //
When visiting the Tate Britain, I saw the work of photographer Karen Knorr. The artist was born in Germany but was raised in San Juan Puerto Rico in the 1960s. She finished her education in Paris and London.
Karen Knorr produced Belgravia (1979-1981) a series of black and white photographs with ironic and humorous texts that highlighted aspirations, lifestyle and the British class system under the neo liberalist Thatcher era in the late 70’s and early 80’s.
Belgravia is still a cosmopolitan and rich neighbourhood in London with many non-domiciled residents. Knorr's parents lived in Belgravia and the first image of the series is a photograph of her mother and grandmother in the front room of their “maisonette” on Lowndes Square. Knorr states that the photographs are not about individuals but about a group of people and their ideas during a particular time in history. They are “non-potrtraits” in that they do not aim to flatter or to show the “truth” of these people.This is reinstated by the anonymity of the photographs.
The work describes the ‘everyday’ of a privileged minority. Traditionally, portraiture of the upper classes has tended to be flattering, however buy combining text the works seem satirical and resemble caricatures, despite this the strong reality effect specific to photography is not lost.
"The meaning of the work can be found in the space between image and text: neither text nor image illustrate each other, but create a 'third meaning' to be completed by the spectator."
The text slows down the viewing process as we study the scriptand return to re-evaluate the image in light of what we have read.There are key words capitalised and words from conversations are broken up and laid out on the surface of the photographic paper emphasizing its constructed and ironic nature.
I was drawn to 'Belgravia' by the stunning documentation of lavish interior spaces and I felt that it was relevant to my project since I was exploring the representation of opulence.
Nigel Cooke //
Nigel Cooke’s paintings oscillate between extremes – he works on an epic scale but dwells on the minutiae of decay and dissolution, he paints with scientific accuracy but creates scenes that could never exist. Each canvas is composed with consummate skill but offers a less-than-reassuring encounter with entropy and excess. Thus, his paintings seem determined to short-circuit themselves, as if bent on self-destruction.
These grand canvases betray Cooke’s anxious preoccupation with the heroic ambitions of artists of the past, invoking a tradition of landscape painting which celebrated the sublime power of space. Cooke knows that such visions could inspire awe, and in both form and content his own works aspire to involve and overwhelm the viewer much as those vast historic landscapes of the nineteenth century did. But Cooke’s landscapes are dismal and dysfunctional, bile-coloured, littered with derelict buildings and burnt out cars, skulls and locusts. They are unlike any other landscape portrayed by an artist working today, and they cannot be described without resorting to hyperbole. Nature is depicted as a virulent force, sometimes morphing into skull-like shapes, spiralling out of control, forcing its way through cracks and crevices. Conversely, many of Cooke’s landscapes seem ‘anti-nature’, and the expanse of the picture plane is bare, suffused in ultraviolet hues. Their corners are scarred with menacing graffiti and the ground cluttered with Hallowe’en pumpkins, bones, severed heads and other paraphernalia derived from the classic and kitsch iconography of popular horror movies. The associations are universally unwholesome and sinister – decrepit, decaying and heavily clichéd – allowing Cooke to devise a kind of tragic-comic melodrama within each work.
Cooke’s images are meticulously painted, but this does not make their content any easier to absorb. As they crowd together in the Art Now room at Tate Britain, they inevitably produce a sense of anxiety and claustrophobia. Cooke’s intention is to unsettle us. His technical mastery is undeniable, but it seems that this skill is consistently put to mis-use. His choice of imagery, and his rendering of it, is self-consciously over-wrought. Thus our awe at his creation is undermined by a sense of bathos. The artist is more than aware of this, and the fact that a barren and ruined landscape is given such a seemingly incongruous title as Ghost on the Happy Trails substantiates this, adding an ironic twist of country-and-western music into the toxic cocktail.
Cooke prefers a shallow picture plane: there is little, if any, depth to the paintings. Each composition is usually anchored by a narrow horizontal base line. It is along this lower band that most of the detritus is gathered: the wrecked cars, the tree stumps, the cigarette butts, the rubble. In Ghost on the Happy Trails the larger expanse of the canvas describes a concrete wall (or it could be an overcast sky), its yellowish tones pierced by a rainbow-like arch of golden light (or equally a stream of urine). In contrast, a work such as Silva Morosa portrays nature creeping across and animating the whole surface of the canvas. A skull-like apparition is summoned from the few gaps left at the centre. In another gap, high in the left corner, a tiny face stares out, and on closer inspection other pairs of eyes can be found. Cooke’s little human heads are a disconcerting addition: they return the viewer’s gaze but communicate very little. From a distance, they easily become lost within the vast field of the painting, and since the canvas is hung so close to the floor they are more difficult to identify. The graffiti that is scrawled across the walls is yet another possible indication of human life, evidence of the humanisation and indeed personalisation of the terrain, but also a sign of protest and disorder. Of course, the graffiti is illegible, communicating no message to us, and so again our expectations are confused. The graffiti, like other aspects of the imagery Cooke uses, makes a link to the modern graphic novel or the popular comic book. Sitting at the intersection of literature and art, blending satire and caricature, the graphic novel perhaps finds a strange equivalence with some of Cooke’s imaginings.
It is no surprise that Cooke wears surgeon’s goggles to ensure the accuracy and clarity of his minute imagery. This means even microscopic details both bear up to and demand close scrutiny. Of course, this again undermines or contradicts the paintings’ grandeur and magnitude. So much information is compressed into even these details (or ‘wormholes’ as Cooke calls them) that it is impossible to take everything in at once. Cooke does not allow a painting to offer itself as an all-in-one entity, where its entire scale and the material handling of its details can be comprehended from a single viewpoint. He proposes that painting can and should be a multi-layered experience: the expressive power of tiny details pulls the spectator in, but then becomes magically invisible when we stand back from the canvas. Our visual experience is thus continually in flux, and we must keep moving to comprehend one order of magnitude over another. This can be frustrating.
So much is crammed into any one of Cooke’s canvases they are exhaustive and exhausting. In his mesmerising, phantasmagoric view of the world, the artist demonstrates the great chasms between realism and reality, between history and myth. Cooke endeavours to plot a course for painting that, in his own words, ‘shakes off the closure of its own historical death’, and by doing so he has given it an extremely perplexing after-life.
Julie Mehretu //
Julie Mehretu makes large-scale, gestural paintings that are built up through layers of acrylic paint on canvas overlaid with mark-making using pencil, pen, ink and thick streams of paint. Mehretu’s work conveys a layering and compression of time, space and place and a collapse of art historical references, from the dynamism of the Italian Futurists and the geometric abstraction of Malevich to the enveloping scale of Abstract Expressionist colour field painting. In her highly worked canvases, Mehretu creates new narratives using abstracted images of cities, histories, wars and geographies with a frenetic mark making that for the artist becomes a way of signifying social agency as well suggesting an unravelling of a personal biography.
Mehretu’s points of departure are architecture and the city, particularly the accelerated, compressed and densely populated urban environments of the 21st Century. Her canvases overlay different architectural features such as columns, façades and porticoes with geographical schema such as charts, building plans and city maps and architectural renderings, seen from multiple perspectives, at once aerial, cross-section and isometric. Her paintings present a tornado of visual incident where gridded cities become fluid and flattened, like many layers of urban graffiti. Mehretu has described her rich canvases as “story maps of no location”, seeing them as pictures into an imagined, rather than actual reality. Through its cacophony of marks, her work seems to represent the speed of the modern city depicted, conversely, with the time-aged materials of pencil and paint.
Mehretu was born in Addis Ababa in 1970 and lives and works in New York
ReEdit: Against Passive Reception //
The Explosive Field //
Richard Serra : Verb List //
“Drawing is a verb,” the artist Richard Serra once said. Serra’s Verb List (1967–68) serves as a kind of manifesto for this pronouncement. In pencil on two sheets of paper, the artist lists the infinitives of 84 verbs—to roll, to crease, to fold, to store, etc.—and 24 possible contexts—of gravity, of entropy, of nature, etc.—in four columns of script. Serra described the list as a series of “actions to relate to oneself, material, place, and process,” and employed it as a kind of guide for his subsequent practice in multiple mediums.
Serra has talked at length, for example, about the central place this language-based drawing occupied in the development of his early sculpture. “When I first started, what was very, very important to me was dealing with the nature of process,” he said. “So what I had done is I’d written a verb list: to roll, to fold, to cut, to dangle, to twist…and I really just worked out pieces in relation to the verb list physically in a space.” A sort of linguistic laying out of possible artistic options, this work on paper functioned for the artist “as a way of applying various activities to unspecified materials.”
One of these materials was rubber. In the 1967 sculpture To Lift, Serra performed that titular action on a piece of vulcanized rubber recovered from a downtown warehouse. While some combinations of verb and material yielded uninteresting results, this particular outcome fascinated the artist, since the action of its making remained clearly visible in the product. The subsequent Castings and Splashings of the late 1960s—in which Serra flung molten lead into the intersection between wall and floor—were similarly sprung from verbs.
But while Serra is primarily known as a sculptor—and certainly his more recent monumental steel ellipses not only twist, curve, and swirl, but also enclose, surround, and encircle—the verbs in this list have been influential across his body of work. Films like Hand Catching Lead and Hand Scraping (both 1968) show a single repeated action. And the thick texture of his paintstick drawings evidence the vigorousness of the artist’s application.
The Serpentine Pavilion has become an international site for architectural experimentation, presenting inspirational temporary structures by some of the world's greatest architects. A much-anticipated landmark in London each summer, the Pavilion is one of the top-ten most visited architectural and design exhibitions in the world.
In 2015, Spanish architects selgascano designed the 15th Serpentine Pavilion. The award-winning studio, headed by José Selgas and Lucía Cano, was the first Spanish architecture practice to be asked to design the temporary Pavilion on the Serpentine’s lawn in London’s Kensington Gardens. In keeping with the criteria of the scheme, this was the studio’s first new structure in the UK. The Pavilion was an amorphous, double-skinned, polygonal structure consisting of panels of a translucent, multi-coloured fluorine-based polymer (ETFE) woven through and wrapped like webbing. Visitors could enter and exit the Pavilion at a number of different points, passing through a ‘secret corridor’ between the outer and inner layer of the structure and into the Pavilion’s brilliant, stained glass-effect interior.
Serpentine Galleries Director, Julia Peyton-Jones and Co-Director Hans Ulrich Obrist said:
‘We are proud to work with SelgasCano in this, the 15th year of a commission unique in the western world that continues to showcase some of the boldest and innovative designs in contemporary architecture internationally. In keeping with their reputation for playful designs and bold use of colour, SelgasCano’s structure will be an extraordinary chrysalis-like structure, as organic as the surrounding gardens. We can’t wait to go inside to experience the light diffused through the coloured panels like stained glass windows. It will be a place for people to meet, to have coffee and to experience the live events we put on throughout the summer.’
The architects described their design:
‘When the Serpentine invited us to design the Pavilion, we began to think about what the structure needed to provide and what materials should be used in a Royal Park in London. These questions, mixed with our own architectural interests and the knowledge that the design needs to connect with nature and feel part of the landscape, provided us with a concept based on pure visitor experience. We sought a way to allow the public to experience architecture through simple elements: structure, light, transparency, shadows, lightness, form, sensitivity, change, surprise, colour and materials. We have therefore designed a Pavilion which incorporates all of these elements. The spatial qualities of the Pavilion only unfold when accessing the structure and being immersed within it. Each entrance allows for a specific journey through the space, characterised by colour, light and irregular shapes with surprising volumes. This is accomplished by creating a double-layered shell, made of opaque and translucent fluorine-based plastic (ETFE) in a variety of colours. At the heart of the Pavilion is an open space for gathering as well as a café. We are also very much aware of the Pavilion’s anniversary in our design for the 15th annual commission. The structure therefore had to be – without resembling previous Pavilions – a tribute to them all and a homage to all the stories told within those designs.'
The architects’ inspiration not only came from the site itself, but from the ways in which people move through London, notably the Underground with its many-layered, chaotic yet structured flow. Selgascano’s design follows Smiljan Radić’s Pavilion in 2014, which was likened by many to a spaceship resting on Neolithic stones. Previous architects include Sou Fujimoto, 2013; Herzog & de Meuron and Ai Weiwei, 2012; Frank Gehry, 2008; Rem Koolhaas and Cecil Balmond, with Arup, 2006; Oscar Niemeyer, 2003; Daniel Libeskind with Arup, 2001; and Zaha Hadid, who designed the inaugural Pavilion in 2000.
Serpentine // Jimmie Durham : Various items and complaints
This major survey show at the Serpentine Gallery highlights Jimmie Durham's multi-dimensional practice, including sculpture, drawing and film. Alongside new sculptures and key installations, the exhibition shows a group of early works that have never been exhibited in the UK.
Durham’s work explores the relationship between forms and concepts. He combines words within his sculptures and drawings to conjure images and uses images to convey ideas. His sculptural constructions are often combined with disparate elements, such as written messages, photographs, words, drawings and objects. The core of Durham's work is his ability to explore the intrinsic qualities of the materials he uses, at times fused with the agility of wordplay and, above all, irony.
In the 1950s, Durham worked extensively with wood, in the 1960s he started combining it with other materials, investigating the inherent qualities of the mediums he selected. In the 1980s, his experimentations evolved from object-based artworks to sculptural assemblages. Durham started using everyday objects including a range of materials from wood to PVC piping, metal screws and TV screens, which would become central to his practice in the following decades. Though Durham is wary of iconic representation in his work, in the late 1980s and early 1990s he began experiments on the relationship between culture and man made objects through his extensive use of installations.
At the heart of Durham’s practice is a continuous exploration and production of hybrid and seemingly fragmented installations that invite the viewer to reconstitute or reconstruct the underlying signs embedded in his works. His work addresses the political and cultural forces, e.g. the forces of colonialism that constructs our contemporary discourses and challenges our understanding of authenticity in art. Since Durham moved to Europe in the early 1990s, his works often, but not exclusively, challenge the idea of architecture, monumental works and narration of national identities by deconstructing those stereotypes and prejudices on which the Western culture is based.
Serpentine // Rachel Rose : Palisades
Rachel Rose: Palisades directly responded to the Serpentine Sackler Gallery with a unique site-specific installation. Interweaving two of her videos – A Minute Ago (2014) and Palisades in Palisades (2014) – Rose created an immersive environment through movement, sound and colour.
A Minute Ago begins with a video of a sudden and apocalyptic-like hailstorm in Siberia, over which Rose layers a sound recording of Pink Floyd’s Echoes playing to an empty amphitheatre in Pompeii. This scene is fused with Rose’s own footage of Philip Johnson’s Glass House, incorporating a tour led by the architect himself (rotoscoped in from an old VHS).
In Palisades in Palisades Rose uses a remote control lens and a precise trompe-l'œil editing technique to link a girl standing on the banks of the Hudson River at the Palisades Interstate Park in New York, to different moments in the landscape’s history, including the memory of the site’s involvement in the American Revolutionary War.
Through the juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated events, Rose’s work presents humanity’s shared current anxieties and their multi-layered interconnectivity: our changing relationship to the natural world, the advance of technology, catastrophes, our own mortality and the impact of history.
Julia Peyton-Jones, Director, and Hans Ulrich Obrist, Co-Director, Serpentine Galleries, said:
“The Serpentine Sackler Gallery space, with its unique history, architecture and location, serves as a perfect setting for Rose’s beautifully poetic, multi-layered works. Her videos urgently probe into some of the world’s most current and pressing concerns, as she tackles the issue of humanity’s changing relationship to the natural world and our growing use of technology.”
Rachel Rose was born in 1986, and currently lives and works in New York.
ICA Gallery //
- Prem Sahib : Side On
For his first institutional solo exhibition in London, Prem Sahib presents new and recent work in the Lower and Upper Galleries at the ICA. A palpable sense of the body and human touch permeates throughout Sahib’s works, which comprise sculpture, paintings, works on paper and performance. Often minimal and sparse in colour, Sahib’s works invariably stand in for the body rather than offer a figurative representation. Through objects, performances and installations, Sahib explores both formal and autobiographical themes, relating often to intimacy, sexuality, relationships, desire and community. Sahib is interested in exploring the relationship between public and personal spaces, often evoking a sense of intimate encounters that remain hidden from plain sight in public places.
Sahib’s work is informed by an interest in the architecture and atmosphere of spaces that act as meeting places, particularly for gay communities within cities such as London or Berlin, for example clubs and other cruising locations, or the internet. Sahib also considers these communities within the wider context of club culture. In parallel with his practice is Sahib’s collaborative live practice, hosting DJ and performance nights at various venues.
Born in London in 1982, Prem Sahib lives and works in London
- Smiler : Photographs of London by Mark Cawson //
An exhibition of unseen photographs by Smiler (aka Mark Cawson) of London squats from the late 1970s, 1980s and early 1990s. The content of the exhibition focuses on a body of work that Smiler mainly shot between West London and Kings Cross. The exhibition consists of black and white images taken on an analogue camera.
“I used the camera like a storm anchor helping me to navigate and freeze a spinning world of change and flux.” Smiler
Against the backdrop of social and political upheaval, young people across the city were drawn to squats by the prospect of a place to live, but also by an identity and a sense of community. Smiler’s photographs document the people who lived in squats across the city, at a time when salvage culture was the norm. Moving from one community to another, between postcodes, Smiler captures a city in transition and documented people he met while himself “trying to manage a deep sense of alienation”. Entire streets of condemned housing sat empty across the city throughout the period - a situation that facilitated large communities to form in places such as Cromer St, the School House in Hammersmith and Queen's Gate.
Photography provided the perfect medium to capture the culture and community of these squat locations. Taking pictures, collecting photo-booth pictures and hanging on to found ephemera enabled Smiler to do this. His photographs reveal intimate moments of the squatters’ everyday life, from portraits that show snapshots of the creative identities and unabashed sexuality of his friends, to images that illuminate how they, as outcasts, experienced city life, capturing the rebellious and chaotic spirit of the time.
Drugs and squatting went hand in hand but music and art also attracted people. This was the time when Rock Against Racism was prevalent and The Clash played a high profile RAR gig in Victoria Park. DIY culture was a way of life before corporate culture and branding subsumed. Political movements shared spaces with artists, bikers, musicians, drug dealers and prostitutes.
With the housing crisis dominating the headlines today, this exhibition serves as timely reminder of how the city has transformed and poses questions about the direction it is taking. Smiler’s compelling photographs are a lens on London as a hotbed of rebellious anti-establishment sentiment and brings into focus how dramatically different the city feels today.
Gift Horse //
Gift horse is a bronze skeleton of a horse based on an engraving in 'The Anatomy of the Horse", a book published in in 1766 by George Stubbs. Paintings by this famous English painter are represented in the National Gallery. 'Gift Horse' is twice the size of a real horse. Tied to its front leg is an electronic ribbon which displays the lie FTSE 100 ticker of the London Stock Exchange.
The sculpture is 4.57 metres tall and weighs 1,700kg
Unveiled 5 March 2015
Boris Johnson, Mayor of London
The Mayor of London's Fourth Plinth Commission is one of the most talked about contemporary art prizes in the world. On Trafalgar Square, in the heart of London, it provides a place of experimentation and debate.
Gift horse is the 10th commission in this hugely successful programme.
The Welcome Collection //
Ann Veronica Janssens : States of Mind : Yellow Blue Pink //
Reginald Case //
Richard Hamilton //
Hamilton was born in London. He was educated at the Royal Academy Schools from 1938 to 1940, then studied engineering draughtsmanship at a Government Training Centre in 1940, then worked as a 'jig and tool' designer. He returned in 1946 to the Royal Academy Schools, from which he was expelled for 'not profiting from the instruction being given in the painting school' (Hamilton, p.10), then attended the Slade School of Art from 1948 to 1951.
An exhibition of his engravings was held at Gimpel Fils, London, in 1950. These were inspired by D'Arcy Wentworth Thompson's 1913 text On Growth and Form which had been republished in 1942 and was a seminal influence on Hamilton's early work. Hamilton devised and designed the exhibitions Growth and Form at the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1951, and Man, Machine and Motion at the Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne and the Institute of Contemporary Arts in 1955. He exhibited at the Hanover Gallery in 1955, and participated in This is Tomorrow at the Whitechapel Gallery in 1956, for which he produced acollage entitled Just what is it that makes today's homes so different, so appealing? for the poster and catalogue. With Victor Pasmore in 1957 he devised and organised an Exhibit, at the Hatton Gallery and the Institute of Contemporary Arts.
Hamilton was a member of the Independent Group, formed in the 1950s by a group of artists and writers at the Institute of Contemporary Arts, whose symposiums contributed to the development of Pop art in Britain. He was one of the prime practitioners of the critic Lawrence Alloway's theory of a 'fine/pop art continuum'. Hamilton interpreted this as meaning that 'all art is equal - there was no hierarchy of value. Elvis was to one side of a long line while Picasso was strung out on the other side ... TV is neither less nor more legitimate an influence than, for example, is New York Abstract Expressionism' (Hamilton, p.31).
Hamilton taught at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts and University of Newcastle upon Tyne; he gave up teaching full-time in 1966. He designed a typographic version of Duchamp's Green Box, published in 1960, and in 1965-6, with Duchamp's guidance, reconstructed Duchamp's The Bride Stripped Bare by her Bachelors, Even (The Large Glass) (Tate Gallery T02011). Keen to embrace certain types of technology within his art, Hamilton began creating computer-generated works in the 1980s. He has had a long career as a print-maker, and in 1983 won the World Print Council Award. In 1991 he married the artist Rita Donagh. Retrospective exhibitions of Hamilton's work have been held at the Hanover Gallery, 1964, the Tate Gallery, 1970 and 1992, and abroad. He was Britain's representative at the 1993 Venice Biennale.
Sigmund Freud : The Uncanny
Marian Goodman Gallery //
Christina Iglesias : Phreatic Zones //
Jeff Wall //