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/


 

Advertisements

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

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

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…