Olek @ Tony Gallery

Tony’s Gallery on Sclater Street, Shoreditch just a short walk from the art hub of Redchurch Street and Brick Lane offers a different kind of exhibition that is both exciting and overwhelming.

 

This small space is filled from floor to the ceiling with the knitted creations of the Polish, New York based artists Olek. This is her first UK solo exhibition and it has hit the ground running. Titled ‘I do not expect to be a mother but I do expect to die alone’ (a direct quote of Tracey Emin from 2002) the artist has filled the space with household objects and hangings constructed in crochet.

 

Olek has travelled from guerilla knitting a jumper for New York’s famous Wall Street Bull to being listed as one of ‘the 25 most important artists of 2011’. She has become a key figure in the artworld and this exhibition goes to prove that her originality is making her a key figure in the art crowd.

 

Work on display is frantic, filled with psychedeila and is lighthearted yet it carries a strong undertone of sexism and modern culture. A personal look into Olek’s colourful bedroom highlights her talents but also her vulnerabilities. Here she is seen as taking a strong step for herself yet shows her human weaknesses, her feelings of isolation, abandonment and untapped potential signified by the empty shopping cart, bed and cradle are on display for the scrutiny of the viewer. She highlights everything we fear in a heady and colourful medium that is both jarring and enthralling at the same time.

 

This exhibition is exciting, innovative and unique, head down there to catch one of the hottest artists before she becomes truly massive.

 

Olek @ Tony Gallery 27th January – 23rd March 2012

http://www.tonysgallery.com/


 

Dig the New Breed, ON|OFF @ Rankin’s Annroy Gallery

Head off of the somewhat beaten track to Kentish Town and witness the delights of Rankin and model wife Tuuli’s ‘Dig the New Breed’ Exhibition. The exhibition is a collaboration with ON|OFF at the photographer’s Annroy Gallery to coincide with London Fashion Week. This is the third consecutive season in which the photographer and model have ran this event which acts as a competition for new fashion film talent to have their work exhibited to the fashion elite.

Since 2003, On|Off has encouraged and supported multimedia cross referencing and pioneered this way of showcasing during London and now Paris Fashion Week. On|Off presents fashion film as a vehicle to promote directors as well as designers’ collections in exciting ways. On show are male models throwing each other around a room, the freaks and weirdos from club night ‘This is Circus’ as well as beautiful set pieces in fields full of colour. Not only do the visuals captivate but the soundtracks also grab your attention.

The beauty of these films is further emphasised by the fact that their stills could be used as astounding images in high fashion editorials. Away from the films, stills have been pulled and exhibited in the main exhibition area.

To coincide with this exhibition Rankin and Tuuli have produced a fanzine which will feature some of these talents giving the directors an opportunity to reach a wider audience. From this exhibition it is clear that these directors and the subjects in their films will be sticking around. Keep an eye out for them.

Florence Welch

Highlights included Tabitha Denhom’s film which humorously explored mental health in a 1960s style. The film features Florence Welch as compulsive hoarder who writhes upon piles of clothes in a state of ecstasy. Thomas Giddings’ film ‘Lavender’ featured models in beautiful fields wearing colourful prints that call for your attention. Whilst Joost Vandebrug and Alex Noble’s film features a model dancing for a man in a seedy environment, its dark, twisted and sexy all at the same time.

This is just a small selection from the great films on display, make sure you head down to the Annroy Gallery and catch these films for yourself, or catch them online right now.

A Century of Olympic Posters @ One Canada Square

Head down to Canary Wharf to catch another countdown to the London 2012 Olympics. Borrowing work from the Victoria & Albert Museum’s acclaimed collection, One Canada Square offers up a collection of Olympic Games posters in its main lobby area. With One Canada Square being in East London and the fact it provided the office space for the London 2012 bid team this space feels like it should be the perfect location for this exhibition.

Colour Lithograph

This show features rare examples of posters created from the early twentieth century right up to posters produced for this year’s Games in London. The posters on display have been used as prime means of communication to herald the Games, build excitement and shape expectations or in the case of many Londoners, fill with utter dread.

Within this fine collection of posters artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein can be found who designed posters for the 1984 Winter and Summer games. Lichtenstein’s incredibly bright Los Angeles ’84 poster is based upon a painting by the Futurist Carlo Carra and reworked in the style of Fernand Leger. He uses curves and diagonals to create a sense of speed and excitement becoming a piece of art rather than a simple piece of advertising.

Colour offset Lithograph

The power of the posters on display comes from their broad appeal and their ability to relay messages through eye-catching and memorable imagery. They convey identity, politics, sports, art, place, commerce and culture. From advertising opportunities by corporate companies right through to politics, the posters cannot simply be described as Sports advertisement because they send so many messages to the viewer.

A poster taken from the 1936 Berlin Games demonstrates clear political motive and ambition in its imagery. The Berlin Games which were opened by Hitler on 6th February were promoted by a poster designed by one of Germany’s most distinguished poster designers Ludwig Hohlwein. The poster shows a skier in a strong pose in bold colours with high tonal contrasts promoting the Nazi’s ‘Aryan Ideal’. The gun on his shoulder and the skier’s strong pose does not only relate to the event but alludes to Germany’s developing strength.

Colour Lithograph

The posters are magnificent; they give a broad range of national identities and politics and also show how commerce and brands form partnerships with the Games. For example, the Coca Cola Company which produced an advertising poster for the Los Angeles games which promoted the company as well as the Olympics as a strong partnership that supported each other.

Colour Off-set Lithograph

This exhibition is great due to the various design styles on display by what doesn’t work however is the display. It fails to attract the attention of most passersby. Bearing in mind how busy Canada Square is, there is minimal promotion for the show and nothing that draws attention when you are even in the main lobby. The pieces are simply placed on the walls around the main structure of the building meaning visitors have to dodge workers as they try to make their way to their offices. This exhibition could have been amazing if it was separated from this work environment and placed into a temporary gallery space whereas here, it is missed easily. It is hard to disconnect from the busy work environment around you and really appreciate the posters.

However, if you can brave angry City office workers who curse at you for being in their way, then do go see this exhibition as it offers the viewer a diverse range of styles and narratives in a simple yet extremely effective way.


A Century of Olympic Posters @  Lobby, One Canada Square, Canary Wharf, London, 16 January – 2 March 2012

The Other Wave: Contemporary Chinese Photography @ Ben Brown Fine Arts

Head down the hidden and somewhat secluded Brook’s Mews in London’s West End and you will find the delightfully understated Ben Brown Fine Arts Gallery, hidden in a quant basement below street level. On display are contemporary works by Chinese photographers including Chen Wei, Cheng Ran, Jiang Pengyi and Ye Linghan with their pieces taking on various styles and trends of photography and video art.

In the 1980s in China the term ‘The New Wave’ was coined to describe an avant-garde art movement in which documentary photography played a central role, now, in the present day, contemporary art in China is being dominated by photography and video art more than ever. This domination however seems to have been missed and overlooked by the Western World making this exhibition the perfect time for the art public to acquaint itself with the imagery that these photographers are creating right now. These photographers are demanding to be heard in the wake of their high profile painting peers who have in recent years shattered auction results.

Archival ink jet print 120 x 150 cm; (47 1/4 x 59 1/8 in.)

The exhibition collects together four photographers whose work range in subject matter. Images range from the bleak, isolated and abandoned to heady, crowded areas that are both fun to look at yet alienating at the same time. Chen Wei’s work depicts elaborate scenes constructed of found materials choreographed into a surreal studio setting. Tackling isolating and abandoned scenes that reek of dystopia, Wei presents imagery that is challenging and uncomfortable. In his File Clerk photograph a man walks alone along a concrete walkway in the middle of an expanse of dark water and mist, in another piece, Anonymous Station  he highlights his taste for abandoned, forgotten and eerie spaces which seems to be a recurring theme within his imagery. Other pieces by the photographer highlight alienation in a city setting, in the photograph titled Countless Unpredictable Stand No. 1, a male stands alone above a city landscape creating a sense of wonder and loneliness at once within this dense concrete environment where no one else can be seen except for one solitary character.

Archival ink jet print 100 x 150 cm; (39 3/8 x 59 1/8 in.)

Ye Linghan photographs and video based works link the past to collective histories. Linghan’s work on display defies focus to the individual and instead makes the scene and setting prominent. Blurring details with the haze of memory, the viewer projects their own thoughts, feelings and memories on to the piece.

C-print 5 panels; 60 x 80 cm; (23 5/8 x 31 1/2 in.) each

Third artist on display, Cheng Ran dramatically stages his work which creates a romantic feeling within his pieces. Collected from different bodies of work, his pieces act as a short retrospective of the young photographer’s work. His work is rich in cinematic quality with a strong narrative running throughout, particularly the barren and destitute images of Hollywood. These images highlight how Hollywood has played such a key role in the shaping of American as well as the rest of the Western World’s identity and how it all seems a bit empty. These images are stark and fascinating due to the editing of the photographs which questions the physical beauty of Hollywood. This questioning is further highlighted by his piece The Still of Unknown Film where a hundred dollar bill is lit, perhaps this is where Western obsession with money and Hollywood is heading, up in smoke.

Luster ink print 104.5 x 178 cm; (41 1/8 x 70 1/8 in.)

Last but not least is photographer Jiang Pengyi who highlights the destructive force of rapid urbanization, redevelopment and demolition that has overwhelmed Beijing. In his photographs he creates imagined miniature cityscapes and skyscrapers within real decaying domestic spaces, highlighting beautifully the destructive power that massive urbanization is having on the lived environments of the Chinese people. These photographs were my personal favourite due to their incredible detail but also due to the issues that they highlight. The images up close are astounding.

Ultra Giclée print 90 x 125.4 cm; (35 3/8 x 49 3/8 in.)

This show, whilst small, is a definite must see. It highlights all too well the stark realizations of our urbanized consumer based culture and how it is both destructive and alienating to our lived environments and to our personal lives. If this show is anything to go by, I predict that these photographers will be enjoying the same levels of success as their painting peers very soon.

The Other Wave: Contemporary Chinese Photography @ Ben Brown Fine Arts – runs until 29th January 2012

Gesamptkunstwerk @ Saatchi Gallery

Charles Saatchi has collected and exhibited artists in his super rich King’s Road palatial gallery from across the pond, from China, India, various countries of the Middle East, Britain as well as many more. He has now turned his spotlight on to Germany. Currently in his impressive Gallery 24 artists, all based in Germany and aged between 31 and 64, take over the walls and spaces and demand attention.

Whilst the Tate has enjoyed notorious German artist Gerhard Richter over the Winter period, Saatchi (who collected Richter long ago) has on display his collection of the best and latest work that is exploding out of the country right now.

Mixed Media and Concrete 2010, Various Sizes

The rooms of the Gallery are cluttered with pieces that range in the media they are produced in. Within the same rooms sculpture stands in front and around paintings in a chaotic display that is both overpowering and intriguing at the same time. This can seem just a bit too much to take in. The rooms can feel claustrophobic and tight as the scales of the pieces dominate.

The title of the exhibition is Gesamptkunstwerk roughly translated as ‘total artwork’ and was originally used by Richard Wagner in his 1849 essay, ‘Artwork and the Future’. The term refers to a ‘complete artwork’ that brings different art forms together to create a whole. This title is at odds with the exhibition as most pieces are stand alone and seperate relating with each other on a minimal scale. The title seems to have been chosen simply because it is an art term (which has regularly been associated with architecture) and happens to be in the German language. Target language, yes, target meaning, not really. The only artist who seems to achieve some form of Gesamptkunstwerk in the traditional sense of the term is Markus Selg whose display encompasses sculpture, painting, furniture and prints all at the same time.

2010, Sublimation print on fabric 195 x 260 cm

Anyway, enough pedantic-ness over the exhibitions title and on to the works on display. The work exhibited has no clear running theme or style. The only thing that links these artists together is simply the fact they all work in Germany. Whilst this suggests a lack of clear direction for Germany’s emerging Contemporary Art due to a lack of unifyng style this isn’t all bad because it also highlights its incredible diversity.

Paintings fill the enormous walls with ease whilst sculptures stretch across the rooms as if trying to hit every point inside the gallery. The overarching theme therefore seems to be one of beautiful chaos and incredible large scale. Each piece seems to want to shout at you and gain your attention in the loudest possible voice.

Works are put together from bits and pieces of just about anything, from lashings of paint to cans and plastic bags. Materials range from those traditionally associated with art to complete non-art materials. This creates a diverse range of art from painterly abstract to the more obscure pieces formed with the likes of concrete.

Many pieces also take an undeniable inspiration from Modern masters. It is clear to see Giacometti in the works of Georg Herold. Instead of earthy tones however, Herold has used bold colours and poses more akin to the work of Henry Moore.

Batten, canvas, lacquer, thread and screws, 120 x 420 x 165 cm

Twin brothers Gert and Uwe, who have worked together since 2001, take up part of the gallery with their bold and exciting pieces that infuse a sense of surrealism with the bright colours of Miro. Colour and paint meet again in the other Gallery rooms in the artworks of Andre Butzer. Since the 1980s, Saatchi has had a penchant for action painting with a taste for pieces with thick lashings of paint. Here, with this artist, his desires seem to be satisfied. Butzer’s work is bright bold and resembles 1980’s cartoon style graffiti.

Woodcut on paper on canvas, 4 panels, overall dimensions: 200 x 1,200 cm

My personal favorite artist was Isa Genzken. Her pieces collect all the tat of everyday life and manipulate it together to form sculptures that are unnerving and disturbing. By making totems of everyday objects she plays with our propensity to attach symbolism to the most banal things.

Plastic, lacquer, mirror foil, glass, metal, wood, fabric 220 x 60 x 100 cm

Her work is mainly three-dimensional but it also encompasses photography, video and collage. Her crude sculptures are attractive due to the way she has defiled the original safe pieces and put them together to make monstrous totems. She has in this way made the most banal, cheap and mass produced objects into something that is truly unique in the form of her garish sculptures.

Whilst this exhibition may well be chaotic and lack a running theme, it is worth having a look. Germany’s economy may be in ruin with dark days ahead but its Art appears to be alive, well and full of the most boldest colours and ideas possible.

 

Gesampkunstwerk: New Art From Germany @ Saatchi Gallery, runs until 30th April 2012

Mystery of Appearance @ Haunch of Venison

Head down to the Haunch of Venison this January and you are in for a treat. Currently in their New Bond Street Gallery they have on display ‘Mystery of Appearance: Conversations between ten British post-war painters.’ This exhibition is essentially a who’s who of post Second World War British artists. The exhibition explores the artists’ works and how they link with one another. Artists on display include Michael Andrews, Frank Auerbach, Patrick Caulfield, William Coldstream, Lucian Freud, Richard Hamilton, David Hockney, Leon Kossoff, Euan Uglow and Francis Bacon.

Oil on canvas 197.8 x 137.4 cm

The exhibition features large and small scale pieces which focus on the artists’ varied approach to paint and subject matter and the connections between their work. The title of ‘Mystery of Appearance’ comes from a statement by the most celebrated of this group, Francis Bacon: “To me, the mystery of painting today is how can appearance be made”.

These artists are celebrated in this exhibition because they rebelled against the then current appeal of abstract painting that dominated in the mid twentieth century and instead focused their attention on reviving portraiture and landscape painting.

The show takes over four of the spaces in the new Haunch of Venison space. In the first gallery the visitor is confronted by nudes by Auerbach, Coldstream, Hamilton, Uglow and a portrait of Francis Bacon by Lucian Freud. Artworks range from painstakingly detailed to more simple abstracted nudes in this room. The piece by Freud for example appears to be a simple pencil and charcoal study of his old friend Bacon. All pieces involve singular people, people in rooms, models and the artists themselves.

In the next room paintings are presented featuring landscapes and portraiture which demonstrate the group’s experimentation with the materiality of paint.

The exhibition carries on to show the significance of Old Masters’ work in the new works on display. This section of the gallery presents pieces that directly refer to an Old Master painting or to a museum object. Notably Francis Bacon’s haunting Pope I can be seen which he painted after the Spanish Painter Diego Velazquez. This painting by Bacon grips the viewer as soon as they walk into the room. I have always been fascinated with his Pope series. It made me think back to his fabulous retrospective at the Tate in 2008. Close by Uglow’s Massacre of the Innocents a rendition of the original by Nicolas Poussin hangs despite its small scale it demands the audience’s attention.

Oil on canvas, laid on panel

In the upstairs gallery pieces Patrick Caulfield’s pop style can be seen in his Coloured Still Life 1967 whilst there are extensively detailed pieces opposite featuring many characters in the likes of Michael Andrews piece with each individual screaming for attention making it difficult to focus on one part of the image. Next to this piece a large scale image of a naked male on a bed by David Hockney is presented with its dominating bright greens and blues taking up a large proportion of the gallery space. It is difficult to see a conversation between these pieces and it is unclear the reasoning for this layout.

Acrylic on board 56 x 89 cm

Oil and silkscreen on turaphot linen on canvas 213.3 x 213.3 cm

The exhibition aims to link all these artists together, yet the exhibition’s loose, discursive structure also suggests that the group sometimes know as “The School of London” (a term coined by R.B Kitaj in the late 1970s to refer to the figurative trend in British painting) were never really a group in the first place, but instead they were a disparate gang of individuals joined by the common ambition to create art rooted in the texture of everyday life. Each piece seems so distinct that it is hard to imagine them as one solid group. Where obvious relationships in the history of art can be seen in the styles of the Cubist works of Picasso and Braque for example, within this exhibition, such obvious links cannot be seen.

Paintings in this show seem to have been chosen to stress each individual artist’s unique style rather finding a thread that unites them together as a solid group. However, on leaving the gallery it is difficult to separate the pieces from each other. This exhibition allows the audience to credit each artist individually as well as part of a group. It shows how diverse post-War British art was yet at the same time how the artists have been linked together by their close personal relationships. There is a sense of the work of these ten artists being linked together if not visibly, at least spiritually.

This exhibition is great because it shows the importance of British artists, especially as only three of the displayed artists are still alive. This exhibition is  perfect opportunity to see Great British art and is a welcome opportunity for those excited to see Lucian Freud’s exhibition at the Portrait Gallery and David Hockney at the Royal Academy to whet their appetites.

Mystery of Appearance: Conversations between ten British post-war painters @ Haunch of Venison, New Bond Street runs until 18th February 2012

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

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.