‘Raskols and Sing-Sing’ at Jack Bell Gallery

March 30, 2010

Over the past six years, Stephen Dupont has traveled to Papua New Guinea, photographically documenting its changing face and the powerful impact of globalisation on the fabric of its traditional Melanesian society. Raskols and Sing-Sing is an in-depth study of cultural erosion as well as a celebration of an ancient people.

The images are absolutely captivating, and as is usually the case with such powerful art, they absolutely speak for themselves. Enjoy this sneak preview but get down to the exhibition to see them for real.

Read the rest of this entry »


Chris Ofili: Dung, Beads and Glitter

March 28, 2010

Without a doubt this is one of the most enjoyable exhibitions I’ve seen in a while. Entering the show to be greeted by Ofili’s huge canvases drenched in colour, glitter and dung is really quite baffling but undeniably uplifting. Wandering between the first few rooms, the genuine beauty of the work is totally awe inspiring.

Though seemingly simplistic from afar, Ofili’s paintings are in fact incredibly intricate, multi-layered works. A close inspection of the earlier paintings reveals Ofili’s ingenious use of resin to load up the canvas with layered texture, creating a three dimensional effect. Having previously been fairly unfamiliar with Ofili’s work, it soon became clear that the images used to market the exhibition cannot do anywhere near adequate justice to work. Ofili must be seen to be appreciated in all it’s intricate detail – I whole heartedly recommend a visit.

Left: No Woman No Cry, 1998 & Right: Double Captain Shit and the Legend of the Black Stars,  1997

The exhibition introduces the work of 42 year old Chris Ofili in Chronological order, starting with a selection of his very earliest works from the mid 90’s. These pieces have a strong tribal feel to them, the influence of a trip to Zimbabwae the artist made in 1992 on a British council scholarship. It was in Zimbabwae that Ofili first experimented with elephant dung, an element which quickly became distinctive of his style. Somehow the dung seems absolutely necessary to the success of the work, becoming integral to the whole balance and effect. In an interview with The New York Times in 1999 Ofili explained the dung balls are; “a way of raising the paintings up from the ground and giving them a feeling that they’ve come from the earth rather than simply being hung on a wall”.

afro, 2000 (Pencil on paper)

These early works are steeped with references to black culture; particularly hip-hop which played a deeply significant role in defining the culture of the artist’s generation. The image of an afro headed man in iconic across many of his works and influential figures in hip-hop and black culture are integrated into his works.

The Upper Room, 2005-2007

Moving on from Ofili’s early pieces, the exhibition takes on a much more meditative feel as you are lead into a deliberately ‘spiritual’ environment. The purpose built, ‘Upper Room’, was designed in collaboration with architect David Adjaye; an enclosed, darkened space in which a series of paintings make up one epic work. Twelve paintings of a monkey with a chalice represent the twelve disciples, blurring the lines between Christian symbolism and imagery of other faiths such as the Hindu monkey god Hanman. The repetition of the work combined with the religious imagery and atmospheric lighting has a genuinely moving effect.

Left: Habio Green Locks & Right: Ritual & Resistance (Desire), 2009

In his later paintings, the change in Ofili’s style is dramatic to say the least. Stripped of colour and void of the exuberant energy oozed in his paintings from the nineties, the exhibition ends on a disappointingly sombre note. It is an interesting transgression in style and apparently a deliberate shift, set as a challenge on the artist’s part. The dramatic effect of the works still remains, but the dung balls, resin, glitter and beads are gone (for me the best bits!) I Can’t enthuse about this exhibition enough – it’s  must see!

Left: The Razing of Lazarus & Right: Dance in Shadow

Find out more at Tate.org.uk

Squid and Tabernacle Take Up Residence in an East London Shipping Container

March 24, 2010

‘Nervous Wreck’ (Detail), 2010

The nomadic gallery that is Squid & Tabernacle has found a home – for a short while at least and it’s a shipping container in Dalston!

This brand new creative project is launching on Thursday 1st April exhibiting sculptural installations by artist Rachel Price. This will be the first in a series of short term exhibition in varying media and venues.

‘Facade’ (Study), 2010

The show is called ‘Planning Permission’ and will feature Price’s sculptural creations – strikingly unfeasible architectural models and hypothetical landscapes which form an uncanny analogue to the industrial landscape of their surroundings.

Price describes her work to be “driven by a dissatisfaction of our over-reliance on simulation and representation over bodily experience with the objects around us.” Her work investigates the tension between the frank and physical nature of the object and the deceptive nature of the image.

‘The Gist’ (Detail), 2010

‘Planning Permission’ (Installation detail), 2010

‘Planning Permission’, curated by Squid and Tabernacle, runs between 2nd and 23rd April 2010.



I’m a ‘Shopping Sherpa’ in the Shortlist Expertlist

March 18, 2010

The Art of Gaming

March 17, 2010

Video games…gaming…gamers. Not words that usually enter my everyday conversations. They conjure up thoughts of geeky boys playing World of War Craft, hunched over a computer screen in a darkened room for days, even weeks on end. Recently however, in my new role at BAFTA, I have come to appreciate that there is in fact, a genuine art form and skill that goes into their creation.

Whilst BAFTA is best known for their Film awards, the Academy supports all art forms of the moving image which includes film, television and video games. This Friday evening the highest achievers in the world of game creation will be recognised for their mastery at the BAFTA Video Game Awards. With the category of Artistic Achievement proving to be one of the most coveted prizes, it is clear that stunning design is at the core of a video game’s success.

A great example of stunning VG imagery is the 1994 classic game ‘Beneath a Steel Sky’ (pictured above). Comic book artist Dave Gibbons hand drew the background for the game as well as creating intricate character designs. Gibbons was the original illustrator of Watchmen, a highly acclaimed, twelve-issue comic book series published during 1986 and 1987. According to Gibbons, who admits to not being much of a ‘gamer’, his background in comic book illustration was perfect for the artistic inspiration of Beneath a Steel Sky. In an interview with BAFTA, Gibbons tells how his relationship with Charles Cecil (his collaborator on the game) developed…

He’d seen what I’d done with building worlds and characters in Watchmen and thought that skill was transferable to the kind of computer games that he was interested in.” Dave Gibbons. Read the full BAFTA article here.

SO, for all you art fanatics out there, if I’ve managed to convince you of the artistic integrity that lies of the core of video game creation, you can keep an eye on the BAFTA  Awards by watching a live stream of the event at online at BAFTA.org

Nominees in the Artistic Achievement category are as follows:

Assassin’s Creed II

Batman: Arkham Asylum

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2


Streetfighter IV

Uncharted 2: Among Thieves

Somerset House: A Positive View

March 16, 2010

“A positive view is a provocative exhibition which brings the best of 100 years of photography into collision, collusion and dialogue.”

Miss Aldridge, Cabaret #3, 2007           Horst P. Horst, Mainbocher, 1939

Such a grand setting as Somerset House is the perfect venue for this extravagantly extensive exhibition. Showcasing photographic works that span across the past 100 years from rare vintage prints to never before seen contemporary works, A Positive View is a treat not to be missed. On display you will find 130 works from a diverse range of artist including the likes of Irving Penn, Helmut Newton, Juergen Teller and Marc Quinn. The whole exhibition is masterfully curated, weaving between old and new, known and unknown and ranging across a vast variety of geographical representations including Korea, China, Japan and West Africa.

Malik Sidibe, Friends of the Spanish Press, 1968 – © Malik Sidibe, Courtesy of HackelBury Fine Art

The exhibition is being run in aid of Crisis, the UK’s leading homelessness charity supporting single homeless people. A special feature of the display is the ‘Crisis Royal Diptych’, comprising a new portrait of Prince William (Crisis Royal Patron) by Jeff Hubbard, together with an image of Jeff, taken by the Prince. Both photos were taken under the creative guidance of highly acclaimed photographer Ian Rankin and it is the first time a photograph taken by Prince William has been put on display. View a video of the photo shoot HERE.

All works, including the Royal Diptych will be sold at a live auction to be held at Christies, London, on 15th April 2010. All proceeds raised will go towards benefiting Crisis. As well as raising money for their cause, the charity hopes the exhibition will “challenge preconceptions and raise questions: About the lives we dream of, the lives we live and what can be done to help those on the outside.”

The exhibition is currently on display at Somerset House’s Embankment Galleries and runs until 5th April 2010. Admission is free. Auction lots are available to view online at www.christies.com/events

Who am I? Who are you?

March 8, 2010

The question of identity has long been a prevalent issue for many artists’ as artistic expression cannot fail to reveal some sense of the identity behind the work – often an uncomfortable fact for an artist to confront. The current exhibition at London’s Wellcome Collection Identity: 8 Rooms 9 Lives explores the tension between the way we view ourselves and how others see us by examining 9 lives, from a racial minority to the first transsexual as well as a set of twins.

A personal sense of identity is inevitably thrown into deeper question and complexity for a set of identical twins as any clear sense of individuality is clouded and it is no new fascination in the art world. Twins were also recently used in Tate’s Autumn exhibition, Pop Life, sitting in front of a pair of Damien Hirst’s spot paintings featuring as a piece of art.

Factum Tremblay from the series Factum 2009

In her current exhibition at White Cube Hoxton Square, artist Candice Breitz hones in on this intriguing subject ‘Factum’ is a series of in-depth video portraits of twins – and one set of triplets – a body of work that extends upon Breitz’s ongoing interest in doubling, portraiture and identity. Titled after Robert Rauschenberg’s ‘Factum I’ and ‘II’ (1957) near-identical twin paintings, Breitz’s ‘Factum’ explores the modes of internal and external forces that drive individuation.

Factum Misericordia from the series Factum 2009

The gallery space is divided up into a series of darkened cinemas each devoted to one set of identical siblings telling their own story. The ‘Factums’ as Breitz calls them are presented as two screens side by side, one for each twin to tell their own story. They are both dressed identically and placed in the same setting but the artist interviewed each one on their own for up to seven hours. Side by side they offer their own take on life as a twin / triplet from family difficulties, to crisis of identity and sibling bonds. Whilst their stories are presented as monologues, with no interjections from the interviewer, Breitz has managed to get a great deal of emotional and at times heart wrenching content out of her subjects. The stories of each twin are inter-spliced with one another, creating an effect of conversation between the two, complicating the relationship in the finished work by offering two alternative perspectives at once.

Factum Tang from the series Factum 2009

The exhibition runs until 20th March 2010.