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

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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