new meanings to classic entities

Fearful Sphere by Sam Knowles
Simon Oldfield Gallery

The Great Enterprise (2011) - in-situ installation

Managed to catch Sam Knowles's 1st solo show on the last day. Seeing Sam's works in Simon Oldfield's gallery feels like walking in the fantasy of a maverick writer's residence. The physical twists he made from vintage books are like a whimsical mind liberated from the written thoughts in these publications.

The Great Enterprise (2011) - in-situ installation

overview of the show - video link

The Prince of Talleyrand (2011)

There're 2 general directions to which Sam detours the meanings of the classic entities - treating them simply as a 2D canvas predefined with meanings and applying gold plates on that; or treating them as patterned 3D raw materials and arranging them in ways to create a twisted perspective.

Death Comes as the End (2011)

Death Comes as the End (2011) - close up

Death Comes as the End (2011) - the 3 book covers used

In today's world of flooding symbols & icons, Sam has re-discovered the hidden classics in everyone's bookshelves and made them into relevant objects again - after all, who would spend a day to read a book today?

Full photo set

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Further Readings:
Page - feature post by Aesthetica, 11.05.2011
Page - official page of the show in Simon Oldfield's website
Page - official page of the artist

the fragile act of balance

I Did It My Way and Took the High Way by Alejandro Almanza Pereda

Hoxton square is becoming an essential gallery circuit recently with power player White Cube as well as 20 Hoxton Square (which has hosted a show brought in by Mario Testino earlier this year), the yet-to-be-rebuilt-by-zaha-hadid ROVE (founded by New York art dealer Kenny Schachter), the newish Ibid Projects relocated from the Vyner Street circuit and the funky multifunctional space KK Outlet (a communications agency with a gallery and bookshop). Each of them has its own character but they all bring in exciting shows all the time to visitors who may be just coming over to enjoy a picnic in the lawn. Even though you may not be a huge art fan, it seems often that you can find one show you like among these galleries around the square.

Burning the Candle at Both Ends (2011)

Take the current show in ROVE for example. It has joined force with Fundacion Magnolia to launch this 1st UK show of Mexican artist Alejandro Almanza Pereda. The exhibition includes new commissions and recent works in the form of installations, video and drawings.

After All These Years I Realise That it is Better to Live Outside the Garden with Her Than Inside Without Her (2011)

Known for questioning and challenging the rules of physics Alejandro fiercely explores the concept of gravity in his work. Relentlessly pushing these boundaries, Almanza Pereda relies purely on the forces of resistance to hold his works in place. He also religiously searches through flea markets, gathering used objects, many with local historical connection and others with the global presence of mass market goods. 

People that Live in Glass Houses Should Not Throw Stones (2011)

The gallery staff told us Burning the Candle at Both Ends(2011) by the entrance window (the top image above) is an on-site creation which the artist has spent almost a week finding the balance to hold the objects on the ceiling lamp. It was a pity we visited only after the artist has left London. Below are 2 interviews a few years ago -

Interview with the artist for his exhibition in Minneapolis Minnesota by TheSoapFactory, 08-01-2008

Alejandro with one of his neon tube construction in this interview by jun60mx, 12-02-2007

Alenjandro's way of creating art can be said as resembling the ancient nomadic tribe - wherever he goes, he would cultivate there and harvest his crops to make a living. It can also be said as organic - the ultimate appearance of his sculptures is largely decided by the force of nature, not his own will. In these gravity defying installations, the universal and the individual co-exist beautifully.

Full photo set


Further Readings -

Page: Official website of the artist
Page: Profile of the artist in Magnanmetz Gallery

two distinct neighbours - part 2

The Space Between by Nigel Hall

Stretched/compressed (2006)

Next to its ground floor neighbour Blain|Southern, Annely Juda is a gallery specialising in 20th century art and working artists producing minimal or geometric works. The show we attended is the 10th solo exhibition of british artist Nigel Hall.

front - Chinese Whisper (2010); back - Drawing no. 1546 (2010)

The minimal, smooth geometric forms in Nigel's works under the rooflight has an uplifting spiritual feel compared to the near-gothic dutch designs next door in Blain|Southern. Nonetheless, it is an interesting juxtaposition and one can feel the change in zeitgeist on the difference in works by artists in two generations.

video link

There are charcoal & gouache paintings as well as sculptures made by various materials in the show. Observing the play of different forms on the 2D paintings and the 3D sculpture is an enjoyable exploration through the show, way better than trying to find the differences of certain Hollywood movies have in 2D or 3D formats.

Full photo set


Further Readings -
Wiki: Entry for Nigel Hall
Page: Official page for the show in Annely Juda's website

two distinct neighbours - part 1

The Curious Image by Jeroen Verhoeven

The 2 pieces exhibiting at the gallery's space in 21 Dering Street

There are two galleries adjacent to each other in Dering Street, Mayfair - Blain Southern & Annely Juda. Their shows are not really the same dish but it's interesting to see them both together.

The Blain Southern is the offspin from Haunch of Venison's founders Rory Blain & Graham Southern, and it has been producing some cool shows with great reviews since its opening but we haven't checked it out yet in person bizarrely until now. We missed out, obviously.
In the current exhibition with Jeroen Verhoeven, the gallery is showcasing the dutch designer, whose design house Demakersvavn is famous for making use of technology in design with a playful twist (common among dutch designs). Increasingly contemporary art galleries are exploring ways to increase their pool of represented talents (and those with larger profit margins), product design is a field which was absorbed into the mainstream art world. The boundary between installation art and interior design has diminished rapidly with star designers increasingly pursue personal art projects with galleries or commercial brands. After all, what defines art is very subjective, and works with high quality should be welcome and those galleries which sources them are worth mentioning for credit.

In this show, two pieces are shown - a table and a lamp. Not your average ones, of course. Within the amazingly crafted table, two silhouette portraits of the artist’s design collaborators, Joep Verhoeven and Judith de Graauw, are subtly shaped into its undulating surfaces. The construction of the table is exposed at the back of itself, where normal design products would usually conceal these as if it is trade secrets.

panoramic view of Lectori Salutem (2010) - video link

As for the lamp, it gets its power source from the butterfly-shaped solar cells. Instead of real moths destroying themselves flying towards a bulb, these artificial butterflies actually make the lamp alive. A contradiction in its own existence (as you won't probably need a lamp when there's light to power up the solar cells), it makes a beautiful art piece even though impractical to be mass produced as a product.

Virtue of Blue (2010) - close up

Full photo set here

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Further Readings - 
Page: Official website of Demakersvan
Review: Jeroen Verhoven's show by

Travelogue - Berlin Paris spring 2011

During the Easter + Royal Wedding double long weekend getaway, we escaped to Berlin & Paris and here are 4 shows which we like, 2 of them are from London artists.


Andy Harper - Truthwall
Morgen Contemporary

Andy Harper's previous show in Danese - 02.11.2009 video by ballenato63

Full photo set


Sterling Ruby - I am not free because I can be exploded in any time
Sprüth Magers Berlin

Overview of the show - video link
Full photo set


James Franco - 
Peres Projects Berlin

Close-up view of one of the Exhibits

Overview of the exhibition set in Peres Projects' Kreuzberg Gallery - video link

Full photo set


Antony Gormley - For the Time Being
Galerie Thaddeus Ropc

State (2011)

the MEME series (2011) - video link

Full photo set


Further Reading -
Page: official page of Andy Harper's show in Morgen Contemporary Berlin
Page: official page of Sterling Ruby's show in Sprueth Magers Berlin
Page: official page of James Franco's show in Peres Projects Belin
Page: official page of Antony Gormley's show in Galerie Thaddeus Ropc Paris
Video: Liftstyle Sterling Ruby, 25.02.2011 by evanlamos

the miniature world of little people

Concrete Ocean
Slinkachu's solo show at Andipa Gallery

Managed to see this fabulous new solo show of miniature artist Slinkachu on the last day earlier this month. It has been two and a half years in the making since his debut solo show in Soho, summer 2008.

Relationship in a Bottle (2011)

Slinkachu has once again applied his sense of humour to fabricate intriguing scenes in an urban background. The show features a good mix of street art he actually created outside the gallery (and then photographed as limited edition prints) and standalone installations produced without physical site context.

Natives (2011)

Although most of the installations are surreal at first sight (this is partly contributed by the use of brightly colour model human figures as subjects of the scene), there is some sort of irony and reality in each installation, which adult viewers would find it bitter while kids just love the toy-like nature of them.

Sustainable Living (2011)

Check out the following clips and the list of further reading :)

Full photo set here

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Further Readings -

Page: Official page for the exhibition in Andipa Gallery's website
Page: Official blog of Slinkachu
Review:  "Street art scales down: why Cordal and Slinkachu are masters of miniature" by Tom Lamont for the Guardian
Video: Slinkachu's work at Belsay Hall by Benjamin Wigley
Video: Little People in the City (by Slinkachu), by theguywhowatchmovies

a showcase of peruvian talents

20 Hoxton Square

20 Hoxton Square Gallery brought a selection of emerging artists from Peru to town in this collaboration with Revolver Gallery & Mario Testino. Mario is an avid supporter for this gallery in his hometown, and would like to showcase their artists to the British audience. ‘Bruma’ is the spanish word for veil or cover. The show includes works by artists Miguel Andrade Valdez, Jerry B. Martin, José Carlos Martinat, Ishmael Randall Weeks and Giancarlo Scaglia. 

Huaca (2010) by Ishmael Randall Weeks

This sculpture by Ishmael Randall Weeks is made by bricks and looks like a miniature of an anicent town in a mountainous region with dwellings craved out from the rock/mud.

"Untitled 1 (Emesis Series)" (2011) by Giancarlo Scaglia

This body-less head from Giancarlo Scaglia is made by garbage bags and evokes a sense of terrorist and the everyday conflicts of guerilla fighters with local authorities, usually depicted by the media. (not saying this happens in Lima now, just a thought)

Superficial exercise #9 (2011) by Jose Carlos Martinat

There are also site-specific works by Jose Carlos Martinat in the show. This once above is a cast version of the opening & stair in the room, pelt-off from its origin and hung up on its own. These is a security man warning people not to walk onto the steps :)

Apart from the exhibition, the toilet of the gallery is also a must-see. The wall on the left as shown above is apparently made of soap or wax - quite impressive!

Full photo set here

Further Readings -
Page: Official page for the show in Galleria Revolver's website (english/spanish)
Page: Official page for the show in 20 Hoxton Square's website
Page: Mario Testino's 15 favourtie galleries -, 20.12.2010

when a splash falls on the matrix

Psycho Boogie - Rory McCartney
Arch 402

Come Clean (2011) by Rory McCartney

I do not know who Rory McCartney is until I came to see this show. Apparently he is london based, and is also the art director for Arena Homme Plus Magazine, which I was a dedicated reader a few years back (not any more for I have to implement a magazine spending cut after the crunch, and I don't have time to read all these magazines I bought any way). He has been commissioned by TfL for Platform for Art and has works shown in the Royal Acadmey of Arts and the V&A museum previously.

Hey! Hey! Can you Relate? (2011) by Rory McCartney

Them That's Not (2011) by Rory McCartney

The works in this show are all composed of a juxtaposition of random organic splashes on a geometric background.  The contrast is very powerful - there is a sense of life seemingly jumping out of the canvas. Some pieces are vividly colourful, some pieces are confined to 2-3 tones only. Overall it is abstract and very graphical in nature, and all these brit bands out there should ask Rory to design their vinyl covers like these!

Opening reception at Arch 402, a new-ish gallery right next to the Hoxton Overground Station

Full photo set here

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Further Reading -
Page: Official page for the exhibition at Arch 402's website
Page: Official website of Rory McCartney

art against the cuts

Studio 54 Architecture
54 Rivington Street

Other than today's protest march on budget cuts, 16 young illustrators are voicing their anger in the form of a group exhibition. Drop by to see their amazing work until 30 March.

The illustrators are Georges Dupree, Jess Gerken, Rikki Hewitt, Paul Hickey, Ben Jennings, Nina Jorgensen, Nick Martin, Holly Monger, Suzie Patrick, Charlie Rallings, Josie Shenoy, Francesca Smyth, Lloyd Stratton, Louisa Taylor, Jade They and Sean Willmott 

Ben Jenning's paper toy

Cu(n)ts by Lloyd Stratton

Further Readings -
Page: Official Blog
Page: A student protest by Suzanne Hinchliffe for design week blog

spectacle of the east and modern tale of the west

Haunch of Venison kick off 2011 with Korean artist Meekyoung Shin's remakes of western statues and oriental objects d'art; paired with German artist Susanne Kühn's vividly coloured paintings of surreal environmental myths.

Translation - Meekyoung Shin
Haunch of Venison

Translation Series (2009)

Meekyoung plays joke with collectors and challenges the viewers on the concept of authenticity, durability and artistic values through recreating antiques and sculptures with soap as the raw material. Translation series are mock antique vases, made to every detail of the original. You could appreciate the patterns in the original vase on her version, but how would these patterns look after a period of time when the soap molecules start to diffuse? If you like the piece because of its pattern, does it make the work lower in artistic value when the pattern starts to fade away? Or does such physical nature actually qualify as part of the artistic value?

Golden Buddha (2010)

Venus (1998)

Ghost series (2010)

The centrepiece of the show is the Ghost series, a collection of around 200 vases grouped in clusters of an imac colour spectrum. Although the artist's focus is the "notion of the transience of the original by stripping the forms of both their perceived solidity and their decorative markings, leaving only an echo of the original form", one cannot stop thinking such act has the usual commercial calculation in that each cluster would be eventually sold individually to collectors. And this rainbow spectrum is very much an open palette to cater for individual buyer's preference of his/hef favourite colour.

Ghost series (2010) - close up

Panorama of Ghost series (2010) - video link

Full photo set


Garden Eden - Susanne Kühn
Haunch of Venison

The Couple (2011)

While Meekyoung focuses on a twist of the aura of the original objects, Susanne's subject is a complete jam of the 3-dimensional meta-enironment in a 2-dimensional canvas.
Originally from East Germany (Leipzig), Susanna now lives in Freiburg. There is an inherent sense of the dark Grim tales in the ambience of her paintings. Things seems to be situated in a gravity-less space, so the interior and exterior flow and merge with each other. The human subjects inside her paintings, if any, are often only relating to a portion of this environment and not realising the extent of flux beyond that. That they seem all too happily living in the Garden Eden before Satan arises, is somehow a cynical reflection of the Black Swan phenomenon in the credit crunch.

Garden Eden (2010)


Further Readings - 
Page: Official page of Meekyoung Shin's show on Haunch of Venison website
Page: Official page of Susanne Kühn's show on Haunch of Venison website
Page: Official website of Susanne Kühn
Page: Official page of Meekyoung Shin's 2007 exhibition in the Mongin Art Centre