banksy in bristol city museum

Banksy vs Bristol Museum
13.06 - 31.08.2009
Bristol Museum

banksy vs bristol museum by you.

Five minutes after arriving at the exhibition venue, I asked myself, "Am I queuing for Space Mountain in Dinseyland?"

There are fencings outside the Bristol City Museum with papers stating "2 hours wait from here", "1.5 hours wait from here" etc. The girls in front of me in the queue drove from Bradford, and I am sure there are quite a lot of visitors to the show are from outside Bristol.

banksy vs bristol museum by you.
Uncle Old McDonald sitting above the entrance of the museum

banksy vs bristol museum by you.
Lots of people from all over the country come to see the works of a street-art genius

Full photo set here

Many people should have visited the show by now. And if you have not yet done so, you probably should hurry up because the queues would only get longer & longer with the final day of the show counting down in 3 weeks' time.

You don't see people having the need to read any explanation notes or joining a guided tour for the show. Everybody's faces turns up a light smile or full eye open once they could finally enter the entrance and see all the works by British's most famous graffiti 'artist' (he probably is qualified as the top 20 most recognisable name in the UK). This, is the power of Banksy.

His power to connect everyday life and common people through his works is magical. You could immediately get what he want to say on most occasions - his works does not need a title to explain what it is about, just like what he painted on streets have no formal title. They are meant to be part of the urban fabric, nothing different from pedestrains on the streets, shopfronts along high streets and the seagulls flying over the river & canals. They reflect the everyday life of this country (not just London, as almost none of his works have any specific geographical reference to the city).

His work is more than a graffiti logo/signature. A logo cannot communicate so much to the general public. And the locations he picked to put his works up are strategic to generate debates and public awareness. And he does not only remain in his own circle - he expands into the public (and legal) realm. He participates in joint venture projects like Cans Festival, and contacts the Bristol City Museum to initiate this exhibition. All these events are hugely successful and create a media storm internationally. The commitment he made on all these has shown that he seems to have more to give the society other than promoting his own fame.

banksy vs bristol museum by you.
Everybody is taking photos and contributing to the Banksy phenomenon

Looking at the current art world, graffiti art has been employed by fashion houses and enterprises to market their merchandise to the young generation. While some people say that graffiti art has been high-jacked for commercialism, would it be more appropriate to say that graffiti has finally been formally recognised as a form of art which reflects its zeitgeist?

A few clips showing what it is like inside the show in terms of exhibits and people's reaction in the central halls -

Two more graffiti outside the museum in the city -

banksy in bristol . 01 by you.
The street warrior aiming at the pedestrains

banksy in bristol . 03 by you.
The graffiti attracted vandalism itself

Further Reading -
banksy.co.uk - official website for the exhibition
Banksy's stencil collection online
Report from BBC news, 12.06.2009 (with video link)
Review from Suit Yourself Magazine of Bristol
Review from the Independent by Steven Wright, 13.06.2009
Review from the Telegraph by Serena Davies, 15.06.2009
"Banksy was here, the invisible man of graffiti art" by Lauren Collins for the New Yorker 14.05.2007

Update - Banksy insisted CCTV footage was destroyed from the Times, 13.08.2009 (via @banksynews) 

art july in london - part 3

Walking in my mind - Hayward Gallery

Hayward Gallery's annual summer exhibition last year (Psycho Buildings) has been quite popular with its interactive exhibits. This year, the gallery invited &à artists around the world to create some large-scale pieces in an attempt to "transform the Hayward Gallery's indoor galleries and outdoor sculpture terraces into a series of gigantic sculptural environments", which in short, means "repeat the success as much as possible".

walking in my mind by you
official poster showing Yayoi Kusama's (草間彌生) work

walking in my mind by you
by Chiharu Shiota 塩田千春

While the show is a bit kaleidoscopic (there is really a piece applying this concept) which seems that every artist is speaking on their own, the show title does warn you that a common theme could be non-existent. Nevertheless the works shown could evoke thinking for viewers, be it the walls of posters by Keith Tyson or the signature chaotic web of strings of Chiharu Shiota. Feelings are intensified with the scale and complexity of the works, on the contrary of minimalism which takes the essence only and strips the rest. This show is about enlarging the essence and giving it a spin on and on and out around the immediate space and into the audience's mind.

walking in my mind by you
by Thomas Hirschhorn 

full photo set here

Further reading -
official website for Walking in My Mind
curator's audio pod-cast for download before visiting the gallery
official website for Psycho Buildings
review by Laura Cumming for the Observer
Keith Tyson's upcoming show in Parasol Unit opening on 16.09

art july in london - part 2

Summer Exhibition - Royal Academy of Arts

triton III by bryan kneale by you.
Triton III by Bryan Kneale

triton III by bryan kneale by you.

As usual, the summer exhibition in Royal Academy of Arts is promised to be a show with a great variety of works. However, I have to express my disappointment over the layout in the Architectue Room (Room VI). In the past, one could easily get close to the architectural drawings and models to appreciate the level of details they possess. Not any more this year. The room is packed like a warehouse, with 3 levels of shelves along the wall. It is impossible to reach at least 1/3 of the exhibits. Is RAA trying to accomodate as many works as possible for sole profiteering (they get 30% commission of all works sold in the show)?

summer exhibition . royal academy of arts by you.
Works cramped altogether in the Architecture Room

summer exhibition . royal academy of arts by you.
Saint Bartholomew, Exquisite Pain by Damien Hirst

*****

Joel Shapiro at 23 Saville Row

23 saville row by you.

23 saville row by you.

American artist Joel Shapiro was commissioned to produce an installation at the entrance of the office-retail development. His free-floating forms standing out sharply from the monolithic facade of the building. The reflective glass around produce even more drama on these 'flying' tubes.

*****

Serpentine Pavilion 2009

serpentine pavilion 2009 by you.

SANAA designs the Serpentine Pavilion this year. Ryue Nishizawa of SANAA says, "The pavilion is designed to amplify the way things look." The enormous mirror-finished aluminium roof definitely could make it happen - unless you are a blind. You see EVERYTHING twice once you walk near the pavilion, because the mirror image and its original subjects are reciprocal to each other.

You could see how the pavilion is constructed through time in this wonderful website. Now I start to feel sorry for the roof cleaners with the amount of pigeons around!

serpentine pavilion 2009 by you.
People relaxing on SANAA-designed furniture

serpentine pavilion 2009 by you.
The lowered polished aluminium roof attracts kids to play beneath

serpentine pavilion 2009 by you.
The cafe area - people queuing for drinks

serpentine pavilion 2009 by you.
Many slender steel poles to support the roof - some pokes fun of the absence of pole dancers

full photo set here

Further reading -
Official website of RAA's Summer Exhibition 2009
Royal Academy of Arts page on Triton III
Bryan Kneale page in RAA
Official website of 23 Saville Row, see the 'Art' section for the creation process of Joel Shapiro for the installation.
Installation process of Joel's sculpture
Official profile sheet of 23 Saville Row from its architect Eric Parry Architects
An interivew with Joel Shapiro by Robert Ayers in 2007
Official page of Serpentine Pavilion 2009
An interivew with SANAA by designboom.com in 2005
Review of SANAA's pavilion by Jonathan Glancey of Guardian UK

art july in london - part 1

One & Other at Trafalgar Square

The fourth plinth got an interactive take this year initiated by famous british artist-sculptor Antony Gormley. Lots of media coverage was brought to the participants' actions. When I arrives last night, a man was playing tai-chi -

While people who get the chance to have their 1 hour on the plinth are showing how imaginative they could be and those watching definitely enjoy the acts, it is a pity that the overwhelming safety concern has resulted in an enormous safety net surrounding the plinth, which completely outcast the tiny person standing on the plinth and deprived of any beauty whoever performs up there...

Perhaps Antony or the organiser should have given a bit more endeavours to come up with a better safety solution.

the project office on site

*****

The Driftwood AA Pavilion 2009

Students in Unit 2 of The Architecture Association in London have completed this year's summer pavilion based on a concept by 3rd year student Danecia Sibingo.

The pavilion styles like Thomas Heatherwick's works, the morphing & steamlined slices create an unique focal point at the venue (Bedford Square) and blends well into the surrounding period blocks and trees -

The pavilion would open till 25.07.2009

AA pavilion 2009 by you.

full photo set here

Further Reading -
Official website of One & Other with live webcast on who's on the plinth & what he/she's doing
Dezeen's article on the AA Pavilion with some making-of pics
Creative Review's article on the AA Pavilion
AA Pavilions 2008 - photo set

art april in london

Tate Britain's triennial 2009 - Altermodern

This year's Triennial was curated by Nicolas Bourriaud, who co-founded the influential contemporary gallery Palais de Tokyo in Paris. The manifesto is "Post-modernism is daed" - a new universalism is emerging with the development of globalisation, and artists are reflecting changes around them, "traverse a cultural landscape saturated with signs and create new pathways between multiple formats of expression and communication". 

tate triennial - altermodern . 02 by you.
Altermodern showed a vareity of works from installations, photographs to videos...

tate triennial - altermodern . 09 by you.
Transparency series and fedex series 2007-8 by Walead Beshty
guess how these works are made - see notes in the original photo link for answer

tate triennial - altermodern . 08 by you.
Liquid Crystal Environment 
1. Landscape
2. Breathing
3. Torsion
4. Kaos
2005 by Gustav Metzger

full photo set here

Tremors where forever (frequency of an image, white edit) 2008 by Loris Greaud

*****

Neue gallerie's grand opening show - keep it secret (23.04.2009)

Neue Gallerie from Switzerland has opened their London gallery with a show bringing works of 7 swiss contemporary artists with a theme of "a very volatile issue". 

keep it secret | neue gallerie london . 01 by you.

keep it secret | neue gallerie london . 04 by you.

keep it secret | neue gallerie london . 10 by you.

I think the works have a sense of dark humour, and the use of materials have a similarity of those in the Altermodern show - a detournement of the original purpose of a material type, into some unexpected territory, generating a sense of strangeness within the familiars...

full photo set 
here

*****

Dialogue between Ron Arad & Anthony Gormley at Timothy Taylor Gallery (24.04.2009)

ron arad at timonthy taylor . 07 by you.
They made an enjoyable and enlightening dialogue in the night

ron arad at timonthy taylor . 01 by you.
'oh, the farmer & the cowman should be friends' - the proper name of the america shelf by ron arad

ron arad at timonthy taylor . 03 by you.
The two playing around the 'rod gomli' chair - Ron asked Tim (the gallery owner) if he allows people to sit on the chairs as one of the audience said he is always forbidden by gallery staff on interacting with works even if it was the intentions of the artists, Tim replied, "Yes, under proper supervision." Ron invited the guy to come out and try sitting on it : )

ron arad at timonthy taylor . 16 by you.
Bodyguards - by ron arad

full photo set here

Further Reading -
Official website for Tate Triennial 2009 (the website is very informative and contains lots of references on all the works shown)
Official website for Keep it Secret
Installation images of Ron Arad's new works at Timothy Taylor - under 'Exhibitions' -> 'Previous'

art march in london - part 2

hackney art walk

on a saturday in march, i was taken to vyner street by a friend for a gallery tour. a 10-minute walk from bethnal green station would take you into this amazing area with so many galleries.

hackney art walk . 72

hackney art walk . 33

many of these galleries are only open by appointment, you ring the door bell and somebody would release the lock. this may be due to the limited resources the galleries have for security. it is like visiting private clubs and the uncertainty of what's lying behind the door and the mysterious nature adds to the excitement.

hackney art walk

hackney art walk . 58

these galleries showcase a variety of works ranging from photography, paintings to sculptures, installations & video.

wilkinson gallery

to view more photos of the galleries, goto the flickr set

below is a list of galleries / interesting shops visited during the day. those marked with a * are my personal favourite -

donlon books* . some good art books and has ACNE (the swedish denim brand) magazine on sale
IMT
monika bobinska
neon &
signmakers.com
keith talent
bistrotheque
ibid projects
alma enterprises
kate macgarry
‎vyner street gallery
nettie horn* . the photography show is great and there is a small area in the management office displaying mataerials from previous shows
vinespace
degree art* . the building has got some great timber construction, the show viewed with icelandic artist is also very cool
artists anonymous
wilkinson* . the gallery is fitted with floor-heating!! you could feel the warm coming out from the concrete to your feet, like being soaked in a virtual hotspring! :D
fred london
one in the other

you could get a free 
art map from commentart.com or many of the galleries which has marked locations of almost all the galleries around the neighbourhood.

art march in london - part 1

Ai wei wei's latest solo show: 4 movements was held at phillips de pury gallery. His influence on contemporary art is comparable to Damien Hirst. Being the person who introduced architects Herzog & de Meuron to bid the Beijing Olympic Stadium, he is the media icon of contemporary chinese art at the moment.

ai wei wei at phillips de pury . 01
gallery reception

ai wei wei at phillips de pury . 06
ai's signature re-interpretation on antique furniture

ai wei wei at phillips de pury . 05

ai wei wei at phillips de pury . 04
ai wei wei in conversation with wallpaper* staff

ai wei wei at phillips de pury . 02

ai wei wei at phillips de pury . 07
ai's signature re-interpretation on antique furniture

Further reading -
architecture critic geoff manaugh writes on ai weiwei at his BLDGBLOG - 
link
ai's official website - 
link
wikipedia entry - 
link

a book about ai wei wei - Ai Weiwei (contemporary artists)

art february in london

overview of the entrance

Kinetica art fair debuts in london this year. Ran from 27.02-02.03.2009, the fair connects collectors, curators and the public to view and purchase artworks from leading international galleries, artist's collectives, curatorial groups and organisations specialising in kinetic, electronic and new media art.

cinimod studio's beacon in collaboration with chris o'shea - more here, here & here.

tim lewis' pony - it strolls around with visitors 'shaking hands' with its head 

wall of eyes by adrian baynes - they are motion-sensitive, would keep looking at you no matter when you move!

I attended one of the panel discussions ‘What is the Future Of Sound and Light?’, in which Martyn Ware (Future of Sound), Mike Faulkner (D-Fuse), Ghislaine Boddington (bodydataspace) & Jason Bruges showed the audience how they develop their works, how to cope with expectations from the public, bureaucracy from government officials and what have they done in the past. It is pretty valuable session -

these are a few highlights of the show -

overview

study in white by jason bruges

clubbing robot by giles walker

krachtgever by peter bosch & simone simons

here are some clips of cybersonica performances - 

overview of steve nosurname with visuals from barry gene murphy

steve nosurname with visuals from barry gene murphy

steve nosurname with visuals from barry gene murphy

steve nosurname with visuals from barry gene murphy

performance by threep accompanied by the minimalist visual waveforms of vent media

performance by threep accompanied by the minimalist visual waveforms of Vent Media

Further reading -
Official website - kinetica art fair
Art Fair Photos from official kinetica museum website
Channel 4's footage of the kinetica art fair 2009
bathysphere recordings' flickr

art january in london

Despite the looming presence of the long nights and credit crunch in January London, the art scene is trying its best to lift people's spirits up. Museums and galleries are still offering a shelter for the people in the city to escape from the bloodbath in the job market and continuous media bombing of economic news (which becomes basically the same piece of news everyday replacing just the name of the company that went bankrupt or the figure of loss the company made).

Tierney Gearon, an american former-model-turned-photographer, had her solo show Explosure at Phillips de Pury Gallery in Victoria.

tierney gearon . explosure

Her photos capture the magic of double exposure, and one would wonder how she made these overlapping images so perfectly without any post-production. But even if these double exposure are arranged at post-production, the persistent appearance of her children featured in many of her works displayed juxtaposing with everyday scenes provide a distorted sense/scale of time and space, as well as a level of surrealism over the exhibition even the medium used and locations shot are no other than ordinary.

tierney gearon . explosure
exhibition photo set here

At Tate ModernDominique Gonzalez-foerster is the artist responsible for the turbine hall now. Unlike previous artists that create a centre-piece of their own in the mega-space, she performs like a curator to present a selection of other people's works in an environment she creates to deliver her message/concept (refer to the video interview in the Futher Reading link below). This is what makes it interesting or at least makes the point for this installation, called TH.2058.

dominique gonzalez-foerster . TH.2058

Personally I prefer the previous approach as given the scale of the space reserved for only one artist, visitors are expected to see a single piece of work inside. However, such '3D-collage' approach is nothing fundmentally different from a 2D collage picture created by many other famous artists in the past generations. Perhaps we could all learn to appreciate art in a fresh perspective. In this aspect I think Tate Modern has really stood up to its vision and curatorship to be a frontier in contemporary art. Let's see what the next Turbine Hall work would be...

dominique gonzalez-foerster . TH.2058
insallation photo set here

Further reading -
Tierney Gearon in wikipedia
Telegraph magazine covers Tierney Gearon's Explosure
Official page for TH.2058 at Tate Modern
Reviews of TH.2058 at www.culturecritic.co.uk
Interview clip of Dominique Gonzalez-foerster on TH.2058 by the Guardian UK