TELLER ON MAPPLETHORPE

ROBERT MAPPLETHORPE - SELF PORTRAIT, 1973

On my way to this exhibition, I was reading that a new book – “Somebody to Love: The Life, Death and Legacy of Freddie Mercury” – is about to be published. It will contain never seen before images of the singer, shared by those closest to him. Had he not died of AIDS related complications, Freddie Mercury would have been seventy years old this year. Robert Mapplethorpe too. Despite them frequenting the same clubs – The Saint in the East Village and Mineshaft in the Meatpacking district to name a…

EVOCA1: THROUGH THE PERILS OF OUR YOUTH

EVOCA1 - BOYS WILL BE GIRLS

Based in southern Florida, where he moved aged eleven, Evoca1 is a painter, designer, street artist and activist. His works reflect his artistic sensibility, but also his sense of social responsibility and commitment to the local community. The name itself is a play on words: the Spanish for the verb to evoke fits well with his intentions of seeking the viewer’s emotional connection and response to his art. He founded the project “Sketches for Mankind” to raise awareness of the plight of the homeless community in Miami and to fund the purchase of food…

GUERILLA GIRLS: IS IT EVEN WORSE IN EUROPE?

The Guerrilla Girls are a group of feminist activist artists whose aim is to expose the dishonesty in politics, art, film and popular culture. They wear gorilla masks whenever in public thus achieving two goals at once: being easily recognised as a group while granting anonymity to each member. The title of this new work commissioned by the Whitechapel Gallery is a revision of their 1986 poster ‘It’s Even Worse in Europe’. In keeping with their core ambition of highlighting gender and ethnic discrimination as well as corruption and injustice in the art world, they present a summary…

JANE ALEXANDER: AFRICAN ADVENTURE

AFRICAN ADVENTURE - JANE ALEXANDER, 1999-2002

The cinematic quality delivered by the flat, dull and desaturated colours of ‘African Adventure’ by Jane Alexander combined with the eerie silence of the room do not fail to unsettle. Immediately after the first democratic election of April 1994, which ended apartheid and saw the election of Nelson Mandela as president, South Africa became a travel destination and gateway for those interested in exploring the sub-Saharan countries. The tableau gets its name from one of those first travel agencies. Returning to the theme of abuse of power, central to the…

MIKE KELLEY: FRAMED AND FRAME

FRAMED - MIKE KELLEY, 1999

‘Framed and Frame’ at the Hauser & Wirth Gallery recreates a local landmark in the Chinatown of downtown LA and consists of two separate sculptures divided by a wall. ‘Framed’ is a wishing well in the form of a biomorphic, concrete, grotto-like landscape, covered with spots of spray-painted colour and cheap religious statuary and tossed coins on its ledges and niches. A secret crawlspace with a mattress, candles and condoms is revealed at the rear of the wall. The adjacent ‘Frame’ is a 9 x 15 foot enclosure comprised of a cyclone fence,…

LEON GOLUB POWERPLAY: THE POLITICAL PORTRAITS

LEON GOLUB - POWERPLAY: THE POLITICAL PORTRAITS

Leon Golub’s professional and personal interest always revolved around stress and violence. By his own admission, this was closely linked to his state of mind. He was particularly interested in recording how brutal imagery affected him. Since he had such a long-standing interest in this subject matter, he sought to explore the impact of evildoing anywhere in the world, often collecting and studying images from war correspondents and the mass media. The intensity of his involvement almost brought his professional career to an end. In the early 1970s the shift from…

GEORGIA O’KEEFFE AND DOROTHEA TANNING

GREY LINES WITH BLACK, BLUE AND YELLOW -GEORGIA O'KEEFFE, 1923

It just so happens that I had a very clear idea of what to expect from these exhibitions and I was proven wrong twice in the space of an afternoon. In a sort of misplaced and rather contemptible botanical association of mine, I decided to combine a visit to ‘Georgia O’Keeffe‘ at Tate Modern with ‘Dorothea Tanning: Flower Paintings‘ at the Alison Jacques Gallery. Had there been a retrospective of Robert Mapplethorpe in London, I would have added it to the marathon just to annoy the art purists out there. Despite spending a…

HELSINKI NOIR – A CRIME TO SOLVE

Helsinki Noir

Visitors aren’t just invited to view, but inhabit the places of ’Helsinki Noir’ at the Amos Anderson Art Museum in Helsinki. Set against the backdrop of the Finnish capital in the 1930s, the narrative of the exhibition opens with a crime scene. The body of a young woman in a short dress and silk stockings is found floating in the sea just off Kaivopuisto park. You’d be forgiven for thinking you have just stepped into the set of an elaborate episode of David Suchet’s Poirot. What happened to the woman…

A THREATENING NEW DIMENSION IN NUMBERS

CULTURE, ANOTHER NATURE REPAIRED - KADER ATTIA, 2015

The unconscious attribution of human traits or characteristics to inanimate forms is a built-in mechanism which enables humankind to cope with, and somehow relate to, anything new and unknown. To some extent this applies to the art world too. The projection of such human features onto drawn, painted or sculpted objects brings meaning to, and builds a connection with, a reality which may in fact not have rules or significance. The infinite number of possibilities of expression available to an artist is left barely explored as people cannot regain absolute artistic freedom once the…

PUNK IN BRITAIN

TIME FOR MAGIC, LOOK TO THE FUTURE, LESSONS FROM THE PAST - JAMIE REID

’Punk: From Chaos to Couture’ at the Metropolitan Art Museum in 2013 had already driven the message home: punk is dead. I should have kept that in mind before visiting ‘Punk in Britain’ at the Galleria Carla Sozzani in Milan. Born as a parallel movement in the USA and Britain around 1976, the punk movement was not just a reaction to the mainstream rock scene which had become tame and unassertive. It also represented a rejection of the nostalgia of the 1970s. The aggressive pursuit of a liberating new identity…