Photography Monday - Frieze week 2013

Last weekend we sampled the Strarta Art Fair in Saatchi Gallery and the Moving Museum in 180 Strand, which are both unexpected in their venues. Who would have expected Saatchi Gallery to host an art fair rather than showing its own collection the week before the prime Frieze period? In case you missed it, we have shared the highlights on our facebook page here. As for the Moving Museum, it successfully highjacks the abandoned office space in West End and turns it into an urban zoo of art lovers. Visit it in person before it closes in 13.12.2013, or view our coverage online here.

Starting the week we decided to focus in Photogrpahy and visited two fascinating shows which symbolises contemporary photography.

Central Nervous System by Wolfgang Tillmans
Maureen Paley London

Tillmans' latest show is "both a departure from his recent project Neue Welt as well as an extension of that vision" according to Maureen Paley's press release. In the two floors of the gallery, we see the 'single subject' of portraiture being displayed in various ways, full body or parts.

Tillmans is famous for creating miniature models of his exhibition space and studies how to display his works within it. In this show, he justaposes pieces of extreme body close-ups with photos of half-body or full-body portraits. And with his expertise in advance printing technology, the level of details in each piece is fascinatingly, or scarily, high. 

In viewing a piece of art, the audience usually would step back and forth to obtain different levels of details of the whole piece. However, with Tillmans' extreme close-up large prints, you do not really need to get closer any more because the subject has already been magnified for you. This convenience is brought to all of us by technology. To a certain extent, such convenience from technology is becoming more and more integral and indispensible in the daily life. It is a phenomenon Tillmans presented to us in his show, be it intentional or sub-conscious. And the philosophical meaning of this is probably more intriguing than all the "subjects" of his works people conceive on the prints.


Bracket (London) by Liz Deschenes
Campoli Presti London

A block away we found another exhibition opened also in this evening. New York artist Liz Deschenes' show, "Bracket (London)",  Time Out London describes her works as 'Photography is pushed far into abstraction, creating hazy, stark, minimal pieces that are hung in unusual positions, creating a photography-based environment.'

The monochromatic black-and-white space is a perfect backdrop for Liz's works. These works on metal sheets are inspired by the english and french photography pioneers Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot. The way the works are mounted on the wall, together with the monochormatic palette of the interiors has given the whole environment a sterile laboratory feel. And the natural landscapes captured on the surfaces of the metal sheets look so surreal as if they actually grow organically from the metal sheet they are on - like developing a series of oversize Polariods in a top secret facility. This forced combination of nature and man-made are exemplified in Liz's works yet captured and reduced to the very essence of it perfectly.


Further Readings -
Page: Official page for Liz Deschenes' show on Campoli Presti's website
Page: Official page for Wolfgang Tillmans' show on Maureen Paley's website
Video: 2012 Whitney Biennial artist Liz Deschenes discusses her work with photograms, a type of photographic image made without a camera; 2012, Whitney Museum of American Art
Interview: Wolfgang Tillmans' Wandering Eye; Sept 2013, Dazed Digital

Frieze Art Week 2013

It's the time of the year in London when everybody suddenly talks about art. Yes, it's Frieze week (or weeks) coming up. Following our tradition, we have handpicked our favourites from the endless offers in town so you don't have to be frustrated scanning through the listings.

Our top 10 of the week are as follows (in no particular order!) -

1. Catch L’Expédition Scintillante, Act 2 (light show) by Pierre Huyghe in Raven Row's current show “Reflections from Damaged Life” - A great retrospective show spanning decades of works, make sure you stay in the gallery until you see this performance, it runs every half hour.

2. "Tomorrow" by Elmgreen & Dragset in V&A - The Norwegian duo's greatest site specific commission yet in Britain inside the V&A museum's former Textile Galleries.

3. "Beyond the Black" by Idris Khan int Victoria Miro - an important departure from Khan's photographic based works, this show comprises a suite of large black paintings, a monumental site specific wall drawing and a series of works on paper.

4. Tatsuo Miyajima's "I-Model" in Lisson Gallery - the Japanese artist is famous for his zen minimal pieces incoporating LED digit displays. There is a clay chamber room for meditation in the show, only one person to enter at time.

5. Wolfgang Tillmans' solo show Central Nervous System in Maureen Paley - once again Tillmans returns to Frieze week and we couldn't wait to see his latest creations.

6. "A series from Within" by Larissa Nowicki in Man & Eve - intriguing pieces formed from the printed pages of books, sliced and intricately woven to form new works that cannot be read in the traditional sense

7. "Sandra Blow Paintings & Prints" in Kings Place - Sandra Blow is a pioneer of the British post-war abstract movement. Seeing her works in the multi-storey atrium in Kings Place is a joyful experience

8. "Erebus" (film) by Du Preez & Thornton Jones in Londonewcastle Project Space - Du Preez & Thornton Jones have created a new body of work in collaboration with choreographer Russell Maliphant, inspired in part by the work of Auguste Rodin

9. "The Seymour & Milton Posters Show" in Kemistry Gallery - a great retrospective show about one of the most influential designer duos in the 20th century who signature push-pin style has become iconic.

10. Frieze Sculpture Park in Regent's Park - this year's sculpture park is the largest in the history of Frieze, and it's free so how can you miss it?

And apart from the Original Frieze and Frieze Masters, you have the choice of numerous satellite fairs around town. Here are a few we believe most of our followers could find something they like and go have a look -

Sunday & Touch Art Fair in Marylebone
Sluice in Bermondsey
The Other Art Fair in Brick Lane
Multiplied at Christie's
Moniker in Brick Lane

Visit our facebook page over the week to see what we have found in town apart from the above. Enjoy the best London offers in the Autumn!


Further Readings -

Page - Top 10 Photograph Exhibitions in town on TimeOut London
Page - Top 10 Art Exhibitions in town on TimeOut London
Interview - of the Director of Sluice Art Fair Ben Street by Tabius Khan for Londonist

a sedimentation of life - dirk stewen / ai wei wei / marina abramović

As our previous post suggests, here are 3 of our 10 picks in town during the Frieze Art Fair week which shows a sedimentation of the lives in the three artists featured -


Dirk Stewen
Maureen Paley

German artist Dirk Stewen is reknown for creating art pieces from his wide collection of materials, be it photographic paper, pages taken from antiquated art catalogues, posters, confetti of all sizes and colours, streamers, book covers, and sometimes with industrial prefab wood or metal.

Dirk's series of black-ink-soaked paper collage art evokes a sense of cosmic creations of the spanish surrealism master Joan Miró. And his use of 'aged' raw materials bring various dimensions of time in one piece - which is something quite poetically supernatural even though no new-age technology seems to be involved in producing each piece of work.

The intimate scale of individual elements within the overall scale of each piece of work; and the delicate nature of these pieces are key to his success (you can read the links below to find out more how he makes these pieces). It strikes a chord of 'vulnerable beauty' to us.

Full photo set

Finally, a special thank you to Maureen Paley & Wolfgang Tillmans for the complimentary autograph - it's a pleasure to meet 'the' photographer of our time!

Further Readings - 
Page: Official website of the artist
Page: Official page for the show at Maureen Paley Gallery
Publication: listings from
Show: Droplets (2009), Atle Gerhardsen
Show: Paper Eye Collection (2009), Tanya Bonakdar Gallery
Show: The Exhibition Formerly Known as Passengers (2008), CCA Wattis Institute of Contemporary Arts
Blog: Tribute by, 02.06.2009
Review (for Tanya Bonakdar show): by Fionn Meade for ARTFORUM


Ai Wei Wei - Sunflower's seeds
Tate Modern Turbine Hall

The long-awaited Turbine Hall blockbuster by the hottest Chinese artist on earth is finally open. Ai wei wei's flower seeds is an installation full of his individual character and the communist character of collective production as well as uniformity. Each seed is hand-painted and thus should be unique on its own, yet when combining 100 million of them together you can no longer see the individuality but just one sheer mass of a uniform texture - it is exactly this conflicting dual characters that is so resembling to what contemporary China is to the West. 

And whatever Ai does, people would assume/regard himself to be a representation of a group of Chinese fighting for human rights and social justice. To some extent, this is true. But irony sometimes do put a joke on him. In his interview with Fantastic Man magazine before the show unveils, he told the interviewer to 'ask me anything you like'. But then when he was asked about the Turbine Hall installation, he said "I really can't talk about it, they even asked me no to talk to you in particular about this." The interviewer concludes that Ai is 'partially censored' by Tate - C'est la vie.

Visitors are allowed to do whatever they like on the field - the sound of the porcelain sands make one feel like walking in a pebble beach. And because the seeds would get worn with constant rubbing, there is clearly a layer of dust suspending inside the hall, which creates a sense of anxiety despite the relaxed mood of the installation.

panorama video

aerial view

Ai embraces social-media technology. So there is an interactive element within the installation which the visitors can record and upload their views to the installation and questions to the artist.

Making-of video from Tate Modern online

Full photo set

We suggest a read of the current (A/W2010) issue of Fantastic Man or issue #22 of Mono Kultur if you would enjoy finding out what Ai Wei Wei's life is about through interviews.

Further Readings -
Page: Official website of the artist
Page: Ai Wei Wei on Fantastic Man
Page: Official page of the show in Tate Modern
Review & Photos: "Tate Modern's Sunflower Seeds - Globalisation in the palm of your hand" by Adrian Searle for the Guardian, 11.10.2010
Review:"Reflections on Ai Weiwei’s Dialogue with Katie Hill at the Tate Modern" by Jennifer Ng, 13.10.2010
Interview: by John Sunyer for New Statesman, 12.10.2010
Video: VernissageTV, 12.10.2010
Twitter: of the artist (chinese version)
Twitter: of the artist (translated english version - fewer updates)


Marine Abramović
Lisson Gallery

Known as one of the most important performing artist of our time, Marina Abramović challenges the limits of performance constantly in terms of the body of the actors as well as the mind of the audience. Here in this show, a complete collection of her early work series Rhythm is shown as well as some recent works in the 2 gallery spaces of Lisson across the street respectively.

Seeing her works from different times put together is an excellent manifestation of her achievement because of her endurance in the art pursuit. She has clearly lived her artistic life fruitfully, yet she hasn't been thinking of retiring and retreating. In her interview with the Monocle magazine, she said she is still raising funds for building a Performance Arts Academy under her name. Her whole life has been very much dedicated to this single art form. She hopes to keep her legacy in a permanent form to inspire the future generations.

Below are 2 videos produced earlier this year on her MoMA show -
"Marina Abramović: Live at MoMA" by MoMAVideos

T Magazine: T Exclusive | Marina Abramovic by TheNewYorkTimes

Lisson Gallery would hold a twitter interview with the artist on 14.10 - send your questions to @lisson_gallery!

Full photo set

Further Readings -
Page: Official page for the 2010 show in Lisson Gallery
Page: "Marina Abramović in London" by Cherie Federico for Aesthetica 05.10.2010
Page: "Marina Abramović - Make Me Cry" for her MoMA show 2010
Page: "Marina Abramović - Hotties" for her MoMA show 2010
Page: "Living the Art" by Luke Crisell for Monocle 10.2010
Interview: Matthew Stone meets Marina Abramović by Matthew Stone for DazedDigital
Wikipedia: entry for the artist