Annie Leibovitz takes a Pilgrimage @ Hamiltons Gallery

Head down the West End and you will find a whole host of galleries attempting to entice you in with high profile art shows in grand spaces that seem to offer limitless light. You will not find this at Hamiltons Gallery however. Located at Carlos Place, the gallery is in an area that is surrounded by other established galleries including the Halcyon Gallery, a branch of the Haunch of Venison and the Timothy Taylor Gallery.

What marks the Hamiltons Gallery out from these other more showier galleries is that if you did not know where it was, you would completely miss it, it is hidden in between pillars with darkened windows. I found that I actually walked straight past it and was unsure, even once I had found the building, if I did in fact have the correct address.

Entering the gallery I found it incredibly dark. When you enter you descend a staircase to get into the main space. The Gallery is large and this surprised me due to the fact that from the outside, the gallery did not look like it would be very big at all.

The show on display was that of legendary photographer Annie Leibovitz, the show being titled ‘Pilgrimage’. In this show Leibovitz has not been on a complete pilgrimage as such, she has photographed Niagra Falls, but while she has photographed this sort of landmark she has also ventured into the objects and possessions of the dead. She has photographed in loving detail objects belonging to Abraham Lincoln including the hat and gloves he wore the night he was assassinated, Sigmund Freud’s rug draped couch and the King of Rock n Roll, Elvis Presley’s motorcycle and television.

Producing this body of work was for Leibovitz herself. She had no motive and was not on assignment. This makes the work so much more personal than her commissioned work, it gives an insight in to what appeals to her and I believe, creates a strong connection between viewer and artist. This project is also Leibovitz’s first purely digital project. It also special because she has stepped away from taking portrait photographs of celebrities, in these images she seems to have unlocked something more personal that is hidden away from the public glare.

The project reminded me of a Facebook album, one where a user has been on holiday, visited a few galleries and now wants to show their friends their amazing trip. However, unlike Facebook albums I felt like I made a genuine connection with her photographs. There is a hidden power within them that is highly attractive and alluring. There is something ghostly within the images. Perhaps it is Leibovitz lurking within them, or perhaps it is her subjects. The objects have so much character within that even though they are not being used; there is still something of their owner within them. It almost feels like a ‘behind the scenes’ look at the owner.

It is odd because you realise whilst seeing this show how much of someone’s personality can be conveyed through personal objects. Freud’s couch for example is something we will always associate with the psychologist and I felt the Motorcycle just embodied the spirit of Elvis, both being icons of rebellion. It was as if both were in the images without being physically visible.

This exhibition is great if you are interested in how objects form people’s identities and how people become recognisable by the objects they own. It is also great if you are a fan of Leibovitz because this is a truly personal project for her.

Check this exhibition out in the New Year.

Have a very Merry Christmas Guys!

Annie Leibovitz: Pilgrimage @ Hamiltons – 8th December 2011 – 20th January 2012

Hatchet and Helve: Standpoint Studios

Are you at a loose end with a mountain of Christmas shopping to work your way through? Then head down to Standpoint Studio.

Here you will find all manner of interior works. Set up as more of an exhibition space then as a shop, Hatchet and Helve has brought together eight distinct and precise makers working in the fields of ceramics, upholstery, woodcarving, sculpture, letterpress printing, tapestry and embroided drawing.

 

 

Displayed around this long and oddly shaped space are various pieces of work that are both homely as well as intriguing. The Gallery itself is a very interesting space. It uses all available spaces including an old fashioned lift situated in the middle of the gallery. It also has rooms off to the side of the main floor creating separate areas for display. There are elevated spaces which although small, create a sense of wonder as they encourage the visitor to take a closer look at the works displayed upon them.

 

 

Objects range from simple wineglasses to large ceramic lamps. Objects range from the domestic to the conceptual, for instance, Marcus Vergette’s bell which refers to the ‘idea’ of the object. The bell’s traditional white marble and the quality of the carving emphasise a subtle relationship between lightness and weight. To me this object seemed to be out of the ordinary when placed with all the other more domestic pieces, but maybe this is the point. Maybe it is saying that people will find a way of domesticating even the most conceptual object, because even though this object is out of the ordinary, it still fits with the general scheme of this show.

 

 

My personal favourites were the works of Graham Bignell and Richard Ardagh. Their work consisted of letterpress prints that sang old Cockney nursery rhymes in a Western font whilst tacking the relationship between old and current vernaculars in contemporary design. Each rhyme was filled with melancholy which you do not really realise as a child when singing them.

 

 

This exhibition as a whole works great because you almost forget that everything is being sold to be displayed in a home. Even though the objects on display are made for a domestic setting, they are seen in this gallery as works of art themselves that question the relationships between useable domestic designs, art and the home.

This show is perfect for Christmas and here you have a great opportunity to get that last minute gift that no one would have thought of! Get down there before it closes its doors on the 22nd December.

 

Hatchet and Helve @ Standpoint Studios – 9th December – 22nd December

(Glass) Blown Away – Chihuly and the Halcyon Gallery

After deciding that Christmas shopping was causing me emotional and physical pain I stepped away from the hell hole named Oxford Street and decided to take a stroll down New Bond Street. This street boasts some of the most famous West End Galleries dealing with the pricier end of Art; here we are talking thousands of pounds of art for sale.

This blog will look at one show I found incredible. I found myself in The Halcyon Gallery, a gallery so grand it could easily be a public institution. The Gallery displays and sells work of contemporary artists as well as more established artists. This broad mix ensures that the Halcyon always has its finger on the creative pulse of art.

The show I went to see was that of iconic artist Dale Chihuly. This artist has revolutionised the perception of blown glass as an art form worldwide. If you are unaware of his work, next time you are in the V&A look up at the 27 foot high snake chandelier in the main foyer, this he made for his landmark show there in 2001.

Chihuly – Persian Wall

Chihuly has experimented with glass for many years he became obsessed with glassblowing in the 1960s. This exhibition acts as a retrospective of his impressive career.

This exhibition does not only feature his incredible and colourful glass blown sculptures, it also features paintings and drawings the artist has created throughout his career.

Chihuly has truly made this glass blowing technique his own; he has stuck to it and developed it meticulously throughout his career. He has manipulated and magnified the potential of this medium making this exhibition a mesmerising experience in colour. The dramatic installation adds to this mesmeration, the Halcyon has become a welcome home for his work.


Chihuly – Dusky Sky Chandelier and Cranberry & Clear Chandelier

 

 

 

What makes these pieces incredible is the way they interact with their surroundings. People are pulled in close and orbited around the pieces. I found myself trying to find imperfections in his incredibly smooth and finished pieces but found none. I found myself walking around each chandelier again and again seeing how the light was taken in and reflected off each piece of glass. I was entranced with how the sculptures projected and transformed light sending it in different directions.

Like the V&A, the Halcyon displays chandeliers made of snakes, elsewhere however they had grand shells, and various other shapes. Each of these chandeliers is an assemblage of hundreds of individually made glass elements, showing how detailed and meticulous each piece is. Each piece seems as if it could be a beautiful glass monster.

Chihuly – Waterford Sconces

A running technique in Chihuly’s work comes in the form of his use of the ‘lip wrap’. This technique is a traditional rim-strengthening method borrowed from historic Venetian glassmaking, this technique has become one of Chihuly’s trademarks.

The glass pieces seem to explode naturally from their surroundings, almost organic, they belong to the space. This can be seen best in the basement behind the cell like doors. In these rooms, glass sculptures seem to burst from beds of glass ice like plants bursting through the dirt of a carefully constructed garden. It feels like a garden, yet at the same time, it feels as if you could be viewing these pieces underwater as they slowly wave in the current. Chihuly has created a true sense of movement in his static pieces.

Chihuly – Sapphire and Sky Blue Fiori

His passion for glass can be seen throughout the main space, the basement and the side rooms, but where it truly bursts in to full bloom is in the Gallery’s Mezzanine space. When you enter you are confronted with the largest burst of colour I think I have ever encountered. In this room the 24 foot long Mille Fiori garden dominates. This piece was made especially for this exhibition, truly proving that Chihuly still has a great passion for his medium. This piece is made of many different shapes which can be seen individually in the Gallery’s other rooms, here however they form one complete piece that is completely overpower and intriguing. I felt like a bewildered child finding it difficult to take the piece in all at once, it was chaotic yet controlled. It was a true delight.

Chihuly – Mille Fiori

Head down to this show to witness Chihuly’s passion for yourself. With all the bright colours and dancing light it will set you in a good mood to face the cold and the horrible task of Christmas shopping.

Chihuly @ Halcyon Gallery – 5th December 2011 – 29th February 2012

Land of The Rising FUN: ICN Gallery – Riusuke Fukahori & Yoriko Tsukagoshi

Yesterday I found myself, for the first time, in ICN Gallery on Leonard Street. The Gallery had two shows on display; its main exhibition was a collection of work by Japanese artist Riusuke Fukahori whilst in the basement gallery was the work of Yoriko Tsukagoshi.

In the main space Riusuke Fukahori’s work’s subject matter was that of the humble Goldfish. This exhibition is the artist’s debut exhibition in London. His Goldfish theme has ran throughout the work he has produced during his artistic lifetime.

These pieces and this theme came about after Fukahori suffered an artistic drought. All of a sudden this drought ended when he began to become obsessed with his pet Goldfish which, sadly, had been neglected (and yet was still alive) for seven years. He looked down into the fish tank which he abandoned cleaning and was given a breathtaking shiver. In the dirty water the goldfish’s shiny red silhouette moved mysteriously and was extremely beautiful. He took out his red paint and painted her figure. This was the day he calls ‘Kingyo sukui’, the day he was saved by the goldfish.

   Riusuke Fukahori ‘Ai’ – acrylic on canvas

 

Developing a new passion for his goldfish he developed a unique style of painting. He uses acrylic painted on clear resin poured into containers, resulting in a three-dimensional appearance. The fish painted in the resin are frozen in time. It seems that the fish have been forever captured unaware in the resin that Fukahori has used.

Fukahori captures these fish in traditional staples of Japanese Culture. His small painted fish appear in Sake cups, Sushi -basins and rice measures. As well as appearing in these objects, Fukahori has painted his fish on to large canvases that perfectly fill the large white walls of the gallery.

 

Riusuke Fukahori – Muses – Sushi-basin, resin, acrylic

The pieces that rest on plinths littered around the gallery encourage the viewer to engage with them. I was pulled in and found myself almost dipping my nose into the resin to get a close look at the wonderfully detailed fish. The canvases on the wall had an almost spectral quantity. I found myself transfixed with their wonderful colours that sent out an astronomical feeling. The colours could be used to create paintings of deliriously delicious scenes of solar systems. I never thought I could get such entertainment from Goldfish.

Fukahori’s art works, because of their constrained theme and his impressive talent, the artist has produced a body of work that is engaging, exciting and impressive. He has made a pet that has been artificially bred on a mass scale and made it unique. Even with many of his pieces containing many Goldfish, each one engages the viewer personally. This is what makes his work so impressive.

In the small basement gallery, fellow Japanese artist Yoriko Tsukagoshi appears featuring a body of work titled ‘NEWMOR’ that she has created over the past five years. This young artist, just 24, graduated from Kuwasawa Design School in 2009 and is now studying at London’s prestigious Central Saint Martin’s.

Yoriko Tsukagoshi – Sushi March

Fun and playful, Tsukagoshi’s work engages with the public with her miniature designs. As you descend the metal stairs into her space, you are lead by the ‘Sushi March’. Here she has created tiny pieces of sushi that exit from a pair of sliding doors. She describes these pieces of Sushi as a part of Japan’s national identity. She describes the Sushi as Japan marching forward into the future with hope.

Tsukagoshi has a terrific imagination that is entertaining and light. You can tell that she gets a great sense of joy from the often comical pieces that she has created. From the adventures of her miniature paper model Shiba dog who dreams of being a pilot to Moai’s (the Easter Island stone statue) exploration of Japan the viewer can sense Tsukagoshi’s childlike joy in her pieces.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

                            

 These miniature adventures are reminiscent of street artist Slinkachu’s miniature street sculptures. A main difference would be whereas Slinkachu places his characters in mortal danger or in melancholic scenes, Tsukagoshi places hers in a world of fun that is entertaining and humorous.

Entertaining, and at times random, Tsukagoshi’s work is a delight. Her dreams of dreaming on a piece of bread are reflected in her piece ‘A Bed in Bread’.

The only sign of melancholia appearing in her show comes in the form of her ‘Egg’s Dream of the Future’. Here most would believe with the eggs being labeled ‘Strong’ that they were untapped potential as they had not be fertilized, however, Tsukagoshi turns this around and claims that their destiny is to become an egg. This was always the plan. It has a positive feel, they were born eggs they will stay eggs and will dream of their futures as eggs.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

     

I was very impressed with both shows and they are definitely worth a visit. Tsukagoshi’s exhibition is only on until Thursday, I urge you to get down there. Fukahori’s runs until early January.

I look forward to seeing what direction Tsukagoshi’s work takes in the future.

 

 

Goldfish Salvation – Riusuke Fakahori @ICN Gallery – 1st December 2011 – 11 January 2012

NEWMOR New + Humor – Yoriko Tsukagoshi @ICN Gallery – 9th December 2011 – 15th December 2011

First Thursday in Shoreditch Part 2: The Signal Gallery, The Outside World Gallery & East Gallery

Tuesday I told you all about the delights of the Eb & Flow Gallery and promised a full review of the rest of my First Thursday.

From Eb & Flow I went to the Signal Gallery which was on my initial list of galleries to check out. After walking in the rain to Paul Street I searched for the front door of the Gallery. After some dodgy navigating I found that a rather random door with some stairs leading down to what only could be described as a location from a late night Hollyoaks (i.e. murder spot) was actually the Signal Gallery.

Descending the stairs and entering the small room I was pleasantly surprised to find the gallery filled with aging Punks in leather trousers and covered in studs, before you ask, it was definitely an exhibition of art not some sort of club found in Vauxhall.

X-Ray-Spex 1977

The exhibition titled ‘Punk and Beyond’ curated by Gaye Advert collects together work of different punk musicians.  The line-up of artists featured was enormous, names included Paul Simonon (the Clash),  Gaye Black (Adverts),  Tom Spencer (the Lurkers),  Jamie Reid as well as many more.  The show is dedicated to Poly Styrene (real name Marianne Joan Elliott-Said) of the band X-Ray Spex, who sadly died of cancer earlier this year, the show includes a series of specially commissioned portraits of the pioneering punkster.

The artwork on display includes drawings, paintings, sculpture and photography creating a truly mixed bag of media. Works were surprisingly curated in a traditional way. Pieces were neatly put up on the walls and sculptures were graced with plinths. Not exactly what I had expected of a punk exhibition.

The exhibition is good and works well. It is a good follow-up to their show last year that explored Punk on the art scene but something felt missing. Perhaps the anarchy and raw punk energy of the original pieces have lost their power. I couldn’t help but feel slightly underwhelmed with some pieces being ‘so Punk’ that it seemed a bit obvious, I half expected there to be some Vivienne Westwood bondage trousers, but thankfully these were left out. The pieces seem to have lost their challenging aesthetic. Perhaps Punk Culture is not as shocking now because we live in a time where musicians like Lady GaGa and Rihanna wrap themselves in these images and place it in mainstream pop culture.

Chris Bell – So This Led To The Downfall Of Man – Gouache on board

After The Signal Gallery I was off out into the rain again, this time heading to Redchurch Street, commonly considered to be a ‘main road’ in the Shoreditch Art Scene. I decided I wanted to go to the Outside World Gallery to catch the Michele Howarth Rashman ‘He Calls Himself Margaret’ show which I kept missing.

After hunting down the small gallery realizing eventually that it had been in plain sight the whole time, I was not disappointed. Bearing in mind this is her first ever solo show, I was blown away, I expect a bright future for her in regards to exhibiting.

Rashman uses unique and thought provoking mixed media sculptures to defy convention. Her pieces challenge notions of beauty and how people perceive each other.

Michele Howarth Rashman, She Calls Herself Fun Loving

The show features six larger than life sculptures alongside framed jumpers adorned with darkly humourous slogans.

Each sculpture is painstakingly hand worked and micro-stitched and built up layer by layer using a technique Rashman has developed over many years. Each piece takes months to make and is truly unique because they are so complicated to create.

The Gallery is a tight space with the viewer having to weave between the pieces. This however is a good thing. It helps the viewer engage with the work. The grotesqueness of the pieces drags you in and you are forced to take notice of them.  The jumpers framed in the wall appear comfortable, warm and snug yet have slogans that are repellant and unapologetic. One jumper screams “EMOTIONAL CRIPPLE” at the viewer. These jumpers appear like a souvenir, as if you could buy them in a shop signed by a celebrity.

Rashman stated that these jumpers were inspired by her husband which sounds awful until you hear her story. She made these jumpers after her husband became ill. He began to feel alienated and under attack, so as a defensive attack, Rashman made these jumpers to throw the shame back in the faces of those that had made him feel that way.

I look forward to seeing more from this incredible and challenging artist.

Michele Howarth Rachman – Emotional Cripple

Last but not least I headed down Brick Lane on a long diversion back to Liverpool Street. Whilst walking down the famous Lane I came across the East Gallery. The Gallery was bustling with people drinking wine and looking to be having a good time. Perfect.

Trotting into the gallery not knowing what I was going to find I stumbled across the ‘The Optimist’ for World AIDs Day. The show was set up to raise money and awareness for the important cause. At this exhibition thirty international artists were collected together each contributing works to the show. Whilst the exhibition was in full swing, prints were being sold with proceeds going to London-based charity Positive East. A worthy cause.

Tom Kennedy – Spectacle, 35cm x 50cm, Giclee on Paper

The work on the walls ranged from traditional painting to photography and sculpture. On board were MAC Cosmetics who created three pieces of art in the exhibition using body paint on live models. Not going to lie I was not expecting that and it scared the bejeebus out of me. Once I calmed my nerves however I discovered that the body painting was astounding. The detail was incredible leading most visitors to stare at the painted bodies of these models for minutes at a time.

Pieces tackled different issues and themes that HIV Positive people tackle every day. Themes included reassurance, support, comfort, medication, prevention and social isolation with the pieces striking a cord about the dangers of HIV and why it is so important to be fully aware.

The show was organized terrifically with a very happy atmosphere, the artwork was good too. Unfortunately the show is now finished but all artwork can be found and purchased online here: http://eastgallery.co.uk/

Ben Allen – Hope Series No. 26, 80cm x 80cm, Acrylic, Spray Paint and Silkscreen on Canvas

Punk&Beyond @ The Signal Gallery runs until 17th December

Michele Howarth Rashman ‘He Calls Himself Margaret’ @ The Outside World Gallery runs until 14th December

The Optimist @ East Gallery is now closed but artwork can be seen at http://eastgallery.co.uk/

Check back soon for more reviews of the latest happenings on the art scene.

First Thursday in Shoreditch – Eb & Flow Gallery – Ross Brown & Nicholas McLeod

As you probably know, it was the first Thursday of the month last week which meant that The Whitechapel First Thursdays initiative was in full swing with Galleries all over the East End opening their doors late to the general public. Always a busy night, this is generally the time when those working through the week get an opportunity to check out exhibitions that they might not get the chance to. That and generally you can pick up a free beer at most shows meaning an incredibly cheap night out.

My Thursday evening was spent in the Shoreditch area. Finding myself at a bit of a loss, I decided to go on a random walk and see what I could find on my journey. I felt like a classic French flaneur, despite the fact I was in East London and come from Essex. Taking a stroll down Leonard Street I first came across the Eb & Flow Gallery. As I walked in I was confronted by an assistant who swiftly handed me a cold Becks and a beautifully printed exhibition guide. Not the worst welcome I have ever received!

The Gallery is a two floored space with large white walls. The space is a converted print works so would seem to be the perfect space to exhibit contemporary artists. When I settled myself in, away from the rain and cold, I discovered that two exhibitions were on display.

In the main space, Saatchi Gallery and Channel 4’s New Sensations nominee, Ross Brown, took over the space with his oil paintings series ‘The Margins’. This collection of work explores the experience of built environments. His focus on architectural landscapes and abandoned structures take on a filmic appearance and a frail dystopian beauty. Pieces range from bright open spaces with graffiti to dark, terrifying and unnerving scenes where you would definitely not like to be alone.

Ross M. Brown

Ross M. Brown, Monologue, 2011, 130 x 170 cm, Oil on Canvas.

Each painting Brown has formed from a one point perspective with the images being built up through a layering of techniques which rely on chance. He has used techniques such as pouring, smearing and dripping. These randomized and chaotic processes are then layered upon with more considered painterly approaches.

In the basement gallery, Threadneedle Prize 2011 Visitor’s Choice Winner, Nicholas McLeod dominated the walls with his ‘Badlands‘ series depicting sinister landscapes of abandoned places, wastelands and crime scenes. His work is evocative and displayed a sense of power and raw energy. His paintings depict threatening places and are reminiscent of haunted houses and places where terror can be expected if one should enter. Hunting Ohio made me instantly this of cult horror the Amityville Horror instantly. His pieces create an unnerving feeling with an overpowering sensation of unease much like his co-exhibitor Ross Brown.

Nicholas McLeod

Nicholas McLeod, Hunting Ohio, 2011, 122 x 140cm, Acrylic and Oil on Board.

Unease is further enhanced by the absence of habitation and human form. There is something truly ghostly about this complete abandonment of humanity in his pieces. With the layering of paint, and previous images being seen through the layers, this sense of ghostliness becomes even more apparent with the paint seemingly acting as a veil between the viewer and the scene.

All in all this was a great show, great space with friendly and helpful staff. There was generally a good vibe in this gallery which would make me want to go back again. Both Brown’s and McLeod’s work are extraordinary and truly have an uneasy presence about them. Both shows work well together as they tackle similar themes of abandonment, yet both in their own way represent it differently. Whilst Brown’s work almost seems to be hopeful and inviting to the viewer, McLeod’s is not. His work seems to be of giving up; his images depict wasteland where no one wants to be.

These shows are a definite must see, with both running until 3rd February 2012, you have plenty of time to catch them as well as this gorgeous gallery space.

Catch the rest of my First Thursday review soon…

Welcome!

Hi there!

So we are almost up and running, the plan here is to review and preview exhibitions and events in London.

This blog will be giving you all the best  (and worst) shows/things to do in London. The blog’s aim is to be a guide on what’s great and what’s to be avoided. After attending too many awful shows after some dodgy reviews claiming their brilliance, this blog writer had had enough.

I’m sure I am not the only one to have felt like this so here you will be able to find honest, unbiased reviews with no motive but to keep you informed.

If you have any shows or events that you think I should be reviewing or looking in to, feel free to comment away!

Stick around, all comments are appreciated.