the frieze art week 2011 - part 2

Frieze Art Fair 2011
Regent's Park

This is the long over-due part 2 of our frieze art fair review. Although the sculptural park seems to be quite disappointing this year, we found some encouraging development in the tent.

Frieze Projects has selected a handful of cool works this year, and arranged them to be scattered around the fair.  Laure Prouvost plays jokes about the physical environment and the visitors. Christian Jankowski puts a boat in the venue, and ironically it does not actually look odd among all these contemporary art works - the nature of an art fair as the flea market for the rich is spelt out loud. Bik van der Pol's slogan-generating scoreboard is an attempt between installation and performance. And Pierre Huyghe leaves his work to the hand of mother nature for his aqua creatures to entertain the guests.

Laure Prouvost - one of the Frieze Projects this year

Laure Prouvost for Frieze Projects -

Christian Jankowski - one of the Frieze Projects this year

Bik van der Pol in Frieze Art Fair 2011 - one of the Frieze Projects this year

Pierre Huyghe in Frieze Art Fair 2011 - one of the Frieze Projects this year

We are also very pleased to see many galleries have devoted time and efforts to create a presence in the fair by a unique booth design. This creates an identity to the gallery and a set for the art works featured inside the booth. The followings are our favourites this year -

IBID Projects (London)

the IBID Projects booth - video link

Alex Zachary (New York)

Ken Okiishi / Alex Zachary at the Frame section - video link

Galerie Eigen & Art (Leipzig/Berlin)

Carsten Nicolai in Galerie Eigen & Art (Leipzig/Berlin)

Galerie Eigen & Art (Leipzig/Berlin)

Georg Kargl (Vienna)

Sies & Höke (Düsseldorf)

Sies & Höke (Düsseldorf)

There is an official Stand Prize of  £10000, and it was given to Gavin Brown's Enterprise this year. The gallery has displayed works by Turner prize winner Martin Creed, Elizabeth Peyton, Rirkrit Tiravanija, Joe Bradley and Alex Katz in the booth. From the office website's announcement, “the judges agreed that the stand articulated a long-term commitment to and understanding of the artists represented.” No further elaboration is provided.

Winner of Frieze Art Fair's Stand Prize - Gavin Brown's Enterprise (New York)

The tent itself also gets a breakthrough form - no more total white prefabricated assembly. We hope the fair has the money to keep this exciting move next year.

The cafe, as well as other parts of the venue this year, designed by Carmody and Groarke

Video link

If you haven't read part 1 previously, it's here. Have a happy new year in a few hours!

Further Readings -
Page - Official website of Galerie Eigen & Art
Page - Official website of Galerie Georg Kargl
Page - COS supports Frame

the white disguise duo

It comes to our attention there are two shows within walking distance in Shoreditch that co-incidentally share a common feature in the works they are showing - a 'white-out' treatment.

Taliban Bullet Holes & Crude Oil Silksreens by Piers Secunda

the "Bullet Hole" series

Piers Secunda has developed into a specialist using "paint" as a sculptural material, rather than the medium in his career. He flew to Kabul in summer 2010 with the sole intention of specifically casting Taliban bullet holes. Two suicide bomb attack sites were located in advance and existing bullet holes were confirmed on site by witnesses and the Kabul police to be Taliban.  The first site was an attack on a private security firm in a residential area of Kabul. At the outset of the Taliban’s assault on the building, two drivers for the security firm were fatally shot inside their car on the street. The works in this exhibition were created directly from the casts of bullet holes made as members of the Taliban shot through and around this car – killing the drivers and pock-marking the wall behind. These bullet hole casts have been integrated into a series of wall mounted paint “relief” sculptures, their hanging devices also cast from paint.

Six-minute documentary about the Taliban works

'Painting' on paint in the "Crude Oil Silkscreen" series

As the curator of the gallery Stuart Semple said, “Piers has always made an important contribution to both painting and sculpture, but now with the materiality of the work being harnessed to record extreme politics, we have his most powerful series to date. I feel absolutely privileged to have the opportunity to show this in the gallery.”

Piers' bullet holes series is equivalent to an isolated replica of war crime evidence. And the way he creates them is similar to a forensic officer, reconstructing the crime scene by extracting residues of available material evidence. These works are bound to be controversial in their nature, but as Piers said in his interview, "I've come to accept that this stuff happens throughout the world all the time so I document it." The choice of white colour in the paint gives a cynical touch of sterile operation which authorities often employ to underplay issues they do not want to arouse attention to. 

Full photo set here

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Let Us Build Us a City & a Tower by Richard Galpin

Brace V (Boom), 2011 peeled photograph

Different from Piers Secunda's efforts to replicate the subject matter to his audience, Richard Galpin strips away the superficials on his selected urban scenes and reveals the underlying orders (or chaos) in the city. And he only uses a scalpel in the whole process to intricately score and peel away the emulsion from the surface of the photograph. The end product sometimes look like a collage, but it is not the case at all. You can see in the video below how precise and time-consuming the process is:

Graduating from the Goldsmiths MA in 2001, Richard has been holding solo shows every year since 2005. His works are also collected by the V&A Photography Collection. The 'edited' photographs are probably not an overall depiction of the environment where they were taken, but they symbolise the spontaneousness, hierarchy and diversity of every contemporary city.

Close up of Stem II (Span), 2011 peeled photograph

Full photo set here


We feel very grateful to see art shows with works directly confronting the social-political situation in the more and more gentrified Shoreditch. And the "white-out" is a powerful visual approach to bring the audience's attention immediately to the subject matter.

Further Readings -
Page: Official page of Piers Secunda
Page: Official page of "Taliban Bullet Holes & Crude Oil Silksreens by Piers Secunda" in Aubin Gallery website
Page: Interview with Piers Secunda, Almanac Christmas 2011
Page: Official page of Richard Galpin
Page: Official page of "Let Us Build Us a City & a Tower" in Hales Gallery website
Video: "Richard Galpin, Viewing Station, The High Line, New York" by Richard Galpin

the frieze art week 2011 - part 1

Frieze Art Fair 2011
Regent's Park

Icon (2011) by Will Ryman

The Frieze art week is as busy as usual, with returning fairs Sunday, "Pavilion of art & design" & Moniker. This year we also saw newcomer Sluice joining the party. Headmaster Frieze is spearheading the crowd with its blockbuster programmes in addition to over 170 exhibitors.
Frieze Sculpture Park is one of Frieze's unique programme, only Frieze has the privilege to have a collection of large-scale art works to be displayed outdoor in Regent's Park. However, this year's line up is arguably a little bit disappointing compared to the past 2 years which we had also witnessed.

video link

Non-profits arts organisation Measure quoted curator David Thorp's comment on the selection this year - ‘This year’s Sculpture Park continues to provide a fascinating cross section of sculpture being made today from the monumental to the socially engaged. The twelve works on display by established and emerging artists build on a dialogue begun in previous years, developing a debate about art in public places and the condition of sculpture as an evolving conversation that proceeds by example, as an exchange of ideas between artists and artworks.’

However, the background of the selected works and their creators is practically invisible in the official website. The official page of the Sculpture Park has only a list of artists' names and the titles of their works. In a thorough search across the whole website, we still cannot find any further details. Should a curator's statement at least be displayed? Is it too much to ask to have some basic information for the general public or new art fan who knows nothing about Frieze & contemporary art in the website? Only the hardcore fans or insiders would pick their time of visit to the park to catch a guided tour. And does Frieze really think that by not providing any basic information, people would then be forced to buy the official catalogue? All we want to say here is this approach does not help promoting art to the general public and does not help Frieze to develop an educated audience which would be more likely to purchase art than just attending for the sake of ticking the box off the social calendar.

Despite the perception that contemporary art is more about the concept than the technique, one may wonder why some of the works are selected. Just look at the art piece below -

Ajar (2011) by Gavin Turk

We understand that sometimes it needs radical approach to bring the message out, but simply placing a door with frame in the middle of the park without any explanation about the intent of the artist is not working. All we hear from the 'official' source on site is the confirmation from the security guard the green plastic bag taped on the door was due to vandalism. A lack of understanding and sense of ownership are common causes of vandalism. We hope this message is clearly shown to the organiser now. Also in our memory there are no security guards by the side of every piece of works in previous years - is this a new clause in the insurance contract or else?


Full photo set here

We do find some encouraging developments in the fair this year inside the main ehibition tent, and would talk about them in part 2.

Further Readings -
Page - official page for Frieze Sculpture Park
Page - Sculpture Park Showcases Stunning Creations by Pippa Jane Wielgos and L. Meir for, 18.10.2011
Interview with David Thorp - The Age of Discover - Frieze Education Programme 2010
Video - Frieze Sculpture Park 2010 by
Page - our review on Frieze Sculpture Park 2009

top picks at london design festival 2011

Wallpaper* & Bernhadt Design's launch party at St Pancras Hotel

Here are our top 10 picks (in no particular order) for London Design Festival this year, with a bit of art power! -

1. AL_A's Timberwave at the V&A - Amanda Levete's comeback masterpiece after her split with former partner in Future Systems

2. David Chipperfield's Size+Matter at the Royal Festival Hall - the minimalist master's attempt to unite technology and simplicity

3. Designjunction at Victoria House Basement - 30 furniture & lighting brands in 1 location, events on top of showcases

4. Edward Barber & Jay Osgerby at Haunch of Venison - the duo's first solo show with the gallery

5. Faye Toogood at Phillips de Pury - new and old furniture collection by the magazine editor turned stylist and designer

6. Cristian Zuzunaga at EB&Flow - brilliant photographic works by the spanish artist/designer

7. Formosa Show at Candid Arts - taiwanese art & design at your door step, London!

8. John Pawson's Perspective at St Paul's Cathedral - see how the master can attract eyeballs by doing nothing

9. Superbrands at Tent London - it's worth to go all the way to the east with all these big names

10.  De la Espada at Tramshed - suffocatingly beautiful timber furniture by the Spanish brand 

how to fill up a space with flowers or cardboards

Serpentine Gallery Pavilion 2011
by Peter Zumthor and Piet Oudolf

The black box exterior has a reclusive swiss flavour often found in Zumthor's architecture

To enjoy the annual Serpentine Pavilion under the summer sun is not something you can plan to do in a weekend, because of the english weather. But in the latest edition of the Pavilion series which began 11 years ago, we conclude that the pavilion has equal charm whether you're going there on a sunny or rainy day (but probably not so good if it's overcast).

While Jean Nouvel's signature red pavilion has never tried to blend in the surrounding landscape, Peter Zumthor's pavilion is by no means relating itself to the gallery next to it either, although it is much more understated. However, when we see pictures of this year's pavilion online under the rain, the rain doesn't simply fall along the roof - it transforms the pavilion when it glides along the roof. A curtain of water dripping from the roof down divides the seating area and the central garden, giving the whole experience its Zumthor's touch of zen.

The 'secret garden'  reveals once you walked into the pavilion

The highlight of the pavilion is the flowers in the central courtyard. And they are best experienced when the sun is present. So if you come to visit the pavilion on a sunny day, you will not be able to feel the effect of the rain on the architecture. And if you come in a rainy day, the blossoming flowers would be less vivid than they are under the sun.

Dutch landscape design Piet Oudolf's selection of plants capture every visitor's admiration

Serpentine Pavilion 2011 - video link

Texture of the walls

The sun beams through tree shades and the pavilion's roof

Full photo set here

The Mirror of Judgement by Michelangelo Pistoletto
Serpentine Gallery

Michelangelo Pisolleto's use of ordinary corrugated boards has a distilling effect of calmness despite the lack of order in the folds of the boards

The exhibition inside the Serpentine Gallery is equally dramatic as the Pavilion's floral show. Italian artist Michelangelo Pisolleto created a labyrinth path experience within the gallery and placed objects at several stops within the maze. The random nature of the corrugated board folds resembles the organic variety of the flowers in the pavilion.

The gallery is transformed into a maze

Both the pavilion and the exhibition have invited the visitors to indulge in a journey of discovery and re-discovery, creating a subtle link which one may not realise in the beginning but connect to the element of labyrinth in traditional european gardens. We truly enjoy this co-incidental surprise.


Further Readings -
Page - official page of the Pavilion (2011)
Page - official page of the exhibition
Review - Piet Oudolf's garden at the Serpentine Gallery pavilion by Joanna Fortnam for the Telegraph, 29.07.2011
Review -  by Florence Waters for the Telegraph, 28.07.2011
Wiki - entry for Piet Oudolf
Archive - blog post on Serpentine Pavilion 2009

interview with the berliner luft duo

Berliner Luft
the Residence Gallery


The Wall (All rights reserved by the photographers)

The photographers with the guests in the private view opening evening

Famous for its lively art scene, Berlin is undoubtedly Europe's capital of art production over the past decade. Residence Gallery has brought a photography show from Germany to London this month featuring the reborn German capital in the eyes of two young(-ish) german photographers Benjamin Tafel (BT) & Dennis Orel (DO).

Alexanderplatz (All rights reserved by the photographers) 

Originally from Stuttgart and studied visual communications in Weimar, both Benjamin & Dennis are award-winning members of the Art Directors Club, which is a global organisation for visual communication professionals. Here is a short interview with the two photographers about their exhibition -

Coming to Berlin (All rights reserved by the photographers)

Q1: Who were the people featured in the photos? Are they residents of the neighbourhood or just models? Do they have a say in how they are featured?

A: All the people we are shooting with had a background or connection to the situation or location. Our aim was to stage the situations but never lose the connection to reality. The coincidence plays an important part in our work to keep the people in their part of the real life and not to fall in a pose like a fashion model. Our purpose: Everyday life is theatre.

Girl Passing by  (All rights reserved by the photographers) 
Q2: There's an overall tone in all the photos - colours with some kind of hard contrast (or even conflict) and a deliberate use of flash. What is the reason for this take?

A: The use of a calculated composed light is our way to shape out the location or the people to gain a new interpretation out of it. Its a  way of remodelling it with light to stage a situation which shows the viewer a far side. Using the light in this way boosts our graphical view that we use in our work.

Konrad Tönz (All rights reserved by the photographers) 

Q3: If you have to pick your favourite neighbourhood in the city, which would it be?

DO: One of the interesting places right now is in the western part of the city. The bird view from the Top of the Pan Am Lounge. To one side into the penguin area at the Berlin Zoo and to the other the naked people jumping in the rooftop-pool of the "Europa-Therme".

BT: It depends what you're looking for. The southeastern part of Kreuzberg is one of the hotspots at the moment. You still find a neighbourhood that has grown over decades, but a lot of new spots and young creatives move there. The mixture you find there is the key. Turkish greengroceries next to young galleries next to a typical Berlin drinking hole. Because everyday life is theatre!

Video by the Residence Gallery

The duo also has another photo exhibition currently in Kunstschwimmer Berlin called Hundesalon running till 08.07.2011.

Girls at Stutti (All rights reserved by the photographers) 

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Further Readings -
Page: Official facebook Page for Berliner Luft
Page: Official Page of Benjamin Tafel
Page: Official Page of Dennis Orel

summer exhibition 2011

Summer Exhibition 2011
The Royal Academy of Arts

It's time for the annual pilgrimage of art fans in town to the Royal Academy of Arts (RA) for its Summer Exhibition. Some key observations are -

1. There is a lack of digital works - only 6 videos are included in the last room; and while works in all other media are displayed on their own physically, these 6 videos are all squeezed in a tiny monitor screen. Not sure if the artists selected are happy about such arrangement - is that fair to them, dear curator? Or, would it also be the own fault of digital artists that they don't bother to submit works to the Summer Exhibition and hence the fewer quality works to choose from by the curator? And has RA considered placing more  emphasis on emerging formats which connects with the younger audience? Is video art not profitable enough to get more attention?

2. The RA-only installation room curated by Michael Craig Martin is pretty impressive, although some people argue it is merely a branding exercise rather than promoting lesser-known talents. Well, given the total number of works displayed in the show and the price RA charges for entry, it seems fair to have a blockbuster room to satisfy the audience with a taste for big names.

3. Most rooms are still just only displaying works in the same medium, curators are not taking the efforts to select works from different media to compose his/her story. The way which RA picks curators may be the cause of this phenomenon - if these people are not multi-media artists, they would tend to look into works in the medium they practise. However, this does not necessarily benefit the audience - look at how amused people are in the room curated by John Wragg after they walked through 5 other rooms with drawings & prints only in the left wing.

4. The artists' books series is awesome and all the selected works are of high quality and craftsmanship.

5. For those who has a smart phone and intend to visit the show, remember to download the official app before you go. For those who cannot visit the show in person, this £1.19 app could provide a virtual guided tour and over 50 streaming video clips to let you know more about the show.

6. If RA is going to take the Haunch of Venison portion of the Burlington House back for its expansion, it should consider allocating more rooms for the show to give curators more freedom to compose their stories.

7. Although RA is opening late on fridays till 10pm, it is advisable to get up early over the weekend instead if you plan to visit but are not able to do so on weekdays. We love the play of natural daylight shining into the rooms which gives a sense of celebration to the works, rather than the cold artificial light casting on the works after dark which feels like suspect interrogation.

Here are our top picks for the Summer Exhibition 2011 (in no particular order) -

Self Portrait with Budget Box (Red & Black) by Cornelia Parker
Butterfly Army by Frederick Higginson
Untitled (2011) by Edmund de Waal
Monogramm by Georg Baselitz
Meyer's Encylcopedia, Volume II by Alexander Korzer-Robinson
Funnel by David Nash
Bullet Drawing 2011 by Cornellia Parker
Joseph's Leonarvilions by Karl Singporewala
Dog in a Bin by Simon Brundret

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Further Readings -
Page - Official page for the show in RA's website
Review - The Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2011: A Culture Show Special, BBC2 (via iplayer, available within UK until 12:19 24.06.2011)
Review - by Alastair Sooke for the Telegraph
Review - by Ben Luke for the Evening Standard
Review - by Mark Sheerin for Culture24
Review - by Gillian Darley for the Architect's Journal

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