More Strange Hungers….

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A Brooks Art in unison with the WW Gallery are proud to exhibit More Strange Hungers a solo show of recent and new works by the marvellous Sadie Hennessy.

More Strange Hungers is the result of a rich seam of work that first formed whilst Hennessy was assembling the works for her solo show at WW Gallery. That show aptly named, Strange Hungers, took its title from the eponymous 1963 British Pulp Fiction book. The book is famous for its exploration of the mysterious workings of desire and the insistent lusts and cravings of sexual appetite. When you then compile Hennessy and her unique message to this you see the genius of the whole show as the playful look at the slippage between repression and expression, decorum and disarray.

Hennessy works across a number of different mediums to explore a catalogue of what she believes to be “insatiable” hungers, including lady lust, mother love, the fear of female sexuality, the vapidity of pornographic imagery and the exploitative sensationalism of gossip mags. It is strangely fascinating therefore, when you break it all down and both her humorously camp commentary on British cultural values and her critical examination of their changing status become visible.

Consistently outrageous, Hennessy subverts familiar imagery in an observational wit fest which boldly goes where it probably ought not to. Described as “Sensational Super Charged and Salacious” it delivers on all fronts as in More Strange Hungers, Hennessy continues to deliver her humorous, wry, feminist manifesto and a celebration of female empowerment and sexuality. Her hybrid collages and assemblages create unsettlingly surreal combinations and are delivered with a wicked sense of humour.

This show runs till the 23rd March.

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RIME/TOPER at Klughaus

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‘Snap Back—Dangerous Drawings About New York’ Highlights Some of the City’s Best In Street Art (via Downtown Magazine NYC)

For repeat readers, it might not come as any surprise that I’m once again spouting praises of the Klughaus gallery, but they’re continually hitting home runs, it can be fairly easy. Snap Back—Dangerous Drawings About New York, which opened on the 15th of this month and runs till New Years Day…

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Jurne-Keys to the City at Klughaus.

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http://downtownmagazinenyc.com/san-francisco-graffiti-artist-jurne-on-exhibit-at-klughaus/ 

The Klughaus is one of my favorite art galleries and is one that always brings bangers to the people. Well, their latest show is nothing different as they welcome San Francisco’s Jurne to showcase his latest works.

The exhibition entitled Keys To The City is a solo exhibition by the California whizz that strikes a delicate balance between abstract contemporary designs, traditional graffiti lettering and calligraphy.

Keys To The City is an excellent display showing how the acclaimed graffiti writer is able to transition from the large-scale pieces he usually does on the street to smaller, fine, artier works. It demonstrates the ability and adaptability of Jurne as he shows a combination of text -based collage paintings, as well as showing off his talents through geometric calligraphy.

The geometric calligraphy is particularly impressive, as the vellum Parisian maps become the basis for his work. These were collected from a recent trip in 2010 to France and remind me of the map work created by the guys who recently exhibited at Pure Evil.

Also on exhibit is a beautifully insightful look into the work of Jurne, through a collaborative video with fellow Bay Area videographer Leo Bruno. This is the product of the past few years working together and gives you a rare opportunity to get into the nucleus of Jurnes’ creative mind. This is amazingly insightful and inspiring, resulting in a comprehensive knowledge of his approach and lifestyle.

I fastidiously recommend that everyone check this out as it’s a perfect example of how a gallery and artist perfectly in synch can take something so critical within the street and thrive in a  gallery. The work is top quality, but it always is at the Klughaus.

Keys to the City runs until December 1 at Klughaus gallery, located at 47 Monroe Street, New York, NY, 10002

 

Henri Cartier-Bresson: A Question of Colour!

Henri Cartier-Bresson is one of those photographers that from the very first moment you lay eyes on his work, you’ll never forget it. His influence on photography is paramount, making him one of those monumental figures so when a gallery features his work, I have to visit. So this trip saw me in Somerset House looking at the new “Cartier-Bresson: A question of colour” exhibit, which is free to the public and didn’t see me trying to sneak in the side.

William A. Ewing, the man who curated the show and is the ex-director of the Musee de l’Elysee, has really put together one of the best displays anywhere in London currently. The bold exhibit does a great job of placing Cartier-Bresson within the context of colour photography during the 20th century. It is no secret that Cartier-Bresson was rather untrusting of colour photography, as he experimented with the medium in it’s early development. The limitations in terms of its aesthetics and technical aspects, caused Bresson to however, turn his back on it. Despite the negativity from Cariter-Bresson this exhibit emphasises his influence on colour photography and shows how future photographers used this medium to prove the great master wrong.

Cartier-Bresson however, has always been the champion of his field, creating the notion of ‘the decisive moment,” capturing something in the very instant of it happening. When you learn that he used a small 35mm normally equipped with a 50mm lens, with tape wrapped around the body to make it less conspicuous you begin to appreciate the man’s secretive skill. With fast black and white films and sharp lenses, he was able to photograph almost by stealth to capture the events. He was no longer bound by those mammoth 4×5 press cameras or the impractical medium format twin-lens reflex camera, the miniature-format camera gave Cartier-Bresson what he called “the velvet hand and the hawk’s eye.”

There are some rather big names included in this show with the likes of Ernst Haas, Harry Gruyaert, Trent Parke, Jeff Mermelstein, all of whom have been selected because of their relentless commitment to colour photography. When juxtaposing the colour photographs with those in black and white, you are asked to explore the way in which these immensely successful photographers have adapted and adopted the ethos created by Cartier-Bresson.

This immediately becomes obvious when entering, as your greeted with one of the best photographs in the whole show. A small photograph of a lonely woman standing on a Washington street corner taken in 1947. The black and white print gives you a pretty good idea of everything to come as it’s instantly comparable with its neighbouring picture, a Saul Leiter photo of Harlem in 1960. The way both CB and Leiter capture these people in the moment, makes very interesting viewing, as the main subjects seem to be pretty mundane but on looking at the background you notice the true beauty of these photographs.

These comparisons continue to flow as the trends of capturing normalcy at interesting moments continues with Cartier-Besson’s photos of Harlem in 1947. They are easily comparable to the interesting photographs on show by American photographer Helen Levitt.


The striking comparisons between the way Cartier-Bresson captures everyday life with such beauty is just as prominent in Levitt’s “People in the city with posters” or “Children with laundry cart”. These are some of my favourite pictures in the exhibit as they have a nostalgic feeling for me, as I see similar sites to the ones I experienced when living in Bedford-Stuyversant, especially with the kids playing with the laundry cart.

Though the exhibition is not done, as it continues to pull out sensational pieces, such as the inclusion of Jeff Mermelsteins work. The way Mermelstein is able to capture insanity and the strange in a few great photos is fascinating. The exhibited photographs “Untitled ($10 bill in mouth)” (1992) and “Untitled Red Puddle” (1995) both give a striking truthful insight into the craziness of NYC.

Though personally, the works of the master Cartier-Bresson stand alone, as they brilliantly portray downtrodden mid century America, in which genius moments of both nothing and everything seem to appear. Cartier-Bresson, is able to transfix viewers into a senseless gaze, while looking at photographs representing everyday life, something so influential at the time and a trait every single photographer in this exhibit has continued with.

The way all of these photographers approach the street is astounding as they’re highly voracious hunger for the usual and unusual is simply beautiful to look at. Then when you take everything in and combine everything on show you are left with a great and comprehensive look at street photography and its early beginnings, resulting in a must see!

Death- A Self Portrait

No matter if you see death as a shadowy cloaked guy holding a sceptre or a well dressed gentleman, death throughout time always had an extensive range of facades. Though what is more interesting is the way different cultures and times have celebrated, grasped and portrayed death and the new exhibit at the Wellcome Collection is acknowledging this with a show dedicated to death.

This show comes from the extensive collection of Chicago based Richard Harris and is curated by Kate Forde. These two have one of those partnerships that is intriguing and thought provoking as they bring together a mix of artistic masterpieces and low brow culture that results in a pretty provocative discernment. With around 300 pieces on show, it’s a pretty heavy hitting exhibit illustrating “the iconography of death and our complex and contradictory attitude towards it”

The show is divided into five sections and when first entering you are thrown head first into contemplation of death, not what I needed on a wednesday morning. There are some fine art pieces in here including the huge painting by Lucas Franchoys the Younger (1616-1681) painted in Belgium. On spotting the skeleton skull within this portrait you soon become aware of a few things. Though I first became aware of was that it seemed to demonstrate a sort of paradoxical notion of the doctors supposed knowledge of anatomy against the limits of medical knowledge at the time.

Though sharing this room were some of my favourite pieces, which were entitled “Skeleton Sketches”. These were originally calendars produced by a company called Antikamnia Chemical Company. What is amazing about these ridiculously hilarious sketches, is the fact they were part of a special marketing scheme and were all posted to physicians across the globe. Though the best bit is that these turned out to be made from toxic analgesics, which in turn led the company to be sued and then disappear, but boy am I glad they got the chance to make these as they are stupefying.

The second room is pretty grim and is somewhat a room to ease you into the horrors that lie within the third. The room beautifully entitled “Dance of Death” focuses on the universal certainty of death, irrespective of social status or country. This room brings together works from across the globe and shows whether you’re a pope, king, peasant, women, men, old or young death has your number.

It has some rather interesting little objects from the different traditions and cultures of years gone by, one being the Skeleton Puppet, USA (undated). The triumphant skeleton, a traditional feature of the medieval ‘Dance of Death’. The puppets are a constant reminder that death sets the pace of life’s dance, which is pretty macabre to think about, but when you look at this fella, you soon of forget all of that.

The next room in the exhibition is probably the most gut-wrenching of them all as the title probably gives away ‘Violence of Death’. I found this room weirdly interesting however, found that most of the pieces were aesthetically displeasing. Here you will find the 82 prints made by the great Francisco Goya titled “Disasters of War”. These go some way to describing the abuse, torture and killing conducted by Napoleon during his rampage through Spain.

The next offering is called ‘Eros and Thanatos’, which slightly less graphic and is inspired by the two coinciding and conflicting drives within ourselves and individuals identified by Sigmund Freud in his “The Resistances to Psycho-Analysis”. Eros, is widely regarded as the drive for life, love, creativity and sexuality whereas, Thanatos is the encapsulation of sadism and destruction. So you can already see where this is heading, as the room juxtaposes some of the lighter takes on death with the more macabre.

Included in here is one of the most horrifying pieces in the whole show, it is by UK born John Isaacs titled “Are you still mad at me?”. This intimidating piece is a representation of the early brutality of anatomical investigation throughout the early centuries. Its probably one of the most gruesomely attractive pieces, as the cadaver sits up and stares at you with hollow eyes and insides hanging out, it’s certainly not one for the faint hearted.

The final room comes as a bit of relief as you come to the end of your journey, and is a room of rituals associated with death, burial and mourning and how these ideas have changed over time. The pieces come from far and wide as there are offerings from Tibet right to Mexico.

The images from “The Day, the Night and the Dead” by Dana Salvo are my favoured works here. It examines the ancient celebrations in Mexico, including the creation of painstakingly intricate offerings to the dead, which are designed to welcome the spirits of those who have departed. These often include photographs, personal items and servings of food and drink. Though personally, the most interesting is the inclusion of marigolds, which are supposedly included to lead the dead to the altar because of their bright colour and strong perfume.

The images by Marcos Raya also excite as they remind us of the disquieting truth behind every photograph, which is the presence of death within our own lives and within the lives of our family. Though for me these mixed media photographs are they are nothing but skulls in wedding dresses that offer up a few cheap chuckles.

When leaving this show I instead was left not thinking about the works but was left pondering Richard Harris’ motives for collecting this material. Is this way of him staring death into the eyes and accepting his fate? But then I realised that death has no face, no eyes, no personality death after all is death. It seems everyone in this exhibition tried to give death a face and personality, but a sequence in our life and the lives of everyone around us. But then I realised if you choose to follow this train of thought it will lead you down a cripplingly narrow and haunting path, you may as well just get involved and go along with it. After all of that delight note I leave you with this, “memento mori”

This runs till until 24th Feburary and is situated at 183 Euston Road, so you can all take your valentine and make a date of it, unless you die before then.

Urban Masters.

When taking the right onto Hearne Street, I thought my phone must of been mistaken and had once again led me to the wrong location, though then like a glittering light, I saw the small MDF advertisement for URBAN MASTERS at Factory 7 in Hoxton. Though the exhibition has now finished, I thought I would still share my thoughts as I have put off writing this since Thursday.

The show presented by the Opera Gallery showcased some of the best and most inventive street artists, which included Banksy, Shepard Fairey, Blek le Rat, Ron English, Sweet Toof making up the total 33 artists being shown. So with all of these legends being celebrated it only seemed right it was held in a fitting setting and that was a hidden urban factory.

When first walking in you are greeted with one of the best pieces in the whole show, which is a huge portrait of General Mao, made from 9,000 toy soldiers. The artist Joe Black chose to base it on an already existing portrait of the founding father of, People’s Republic of China by Andy Warhol. Though the addition of the soldiers takes this piece to another level, as it stands at a colossus 215cm by 310cm. Black was quick to add that all of the soldiers face inwards towards the centre of the face to represent the army he had during his reign.

Though what makes this piece so staggering is that each soldier was individually hand painted and took the artist a gruelling five months to complete. I think that Opera Gallery director and shows curator said it best when he described it as a “impressive piece”

When walking around you instantly can see the way the artists have done a pretty good job of transferring their work into a gallery and successfully bridging the usually tricky gap. There is some outrageous works, which utilise this huge space. No other piece does it quite like the staged car crash by Zevs called “Love, Crash, Burn”. This is a tribute to the fantastic Robert Indiana as well and has to surely cement itself as the most imposing and amazingly creative works on show.

When I first got to the gallery I was interested to find the piece by culture jam specialist Ron English, but when finally reaching his take of Picasso’s Guernica I was vastly disappointed. I was expecting one of his stereotypical pop-culture heavy parodies that never fail to make me burst out laughing. Though instead I was greeted with something a whole lot more weird, which I have to say grew on me.

One of the great things about having this many inventive and influential street artists all in one place, is the great number of materials used. Nick Gentry who gets resourceful by using old floppy disks. Also the toy trains used by duo GRIS1/DMV further shows the genius and thought that has gone into curating and making this a successful and interesting show.



I would of fastidiously recommended that you visit this and show your support for Anti Slavery by buying one of the catalogues. Though it has finished so I am going to instead just say that this was one of the best examples of how a gallery can take street art from these urban masters and emphasis how critical and feverishly contemporary, this whole movement is.

Pure Evil presents New York Kings!

The New York graffiti movement is one that is well documented, as it is a story of pioneering street artists coming out of the dingy woodwork in the late 70s and early 80s. Emerging at a time unsurprisingly when the Hip-Hop movement grew into a exhilarating and prominent movement demanding attention, as its origins sprung out from within the roughest housing projects in some of America’s well known cities. The newest offering from Pure Evil gallery goes some way to showing off some of the prime talent from this era contributing some of the best work from the mecca of it all, New York City.

New York Kings showcases some of the very best talent from the golden-era of graffiti when bombing subway trains was the norm, as attending art school for these guys was simply not an option. It shows a time when the spray can was the brush and the weapon of these insanely talented group of artists, who made the project walls their canvas, making sure their work was seen and their message heard.

The fact this exhibition includes the word King in its title is no accident, as all of the artists showcased have earned their stripes from years of spraying in the most dangerous and daring places most artists would never go. They were breaking down the walls of what had gone before, smashing down barriers of the middle class Manhattan scene, where being showcased in a gallery was the only way to be get any recognition . Like guerrillas of art throughout the five boroughs, they brightened up the underground and transit systems making these a mecca for budding artists and causing the great connoisseur, Henry Chalfant to take note and document it in his book Subway Art.

Though these days the authorities such as the MTA and police might have cottoned on, the scene lives but has changed in the way it exhibits itself and now galleries such as Pure Evil dedicate themselves to showcasing the contemporary talent. The game might have changed but the message is the same, f**k the system and anyone who agrees with it.

This exhibit, curated by Christophe Demoulin has some of the most innovative names of the New York scene such as Cope, Poem, Bom5, Deck, and Indie 184 among others. For me the idea of painting over the subway maps is one of intense genius and originality, but is something that has been around since the 70s even being done by the late Keith Haring to a certain degree. With so many names being shown here it has something for fans of differing styles as each member brings something different.  Whether your style is partial to the bubble writing of Cope or 3d lettering from the king, Blade it really does have a wide range of everything disappointing nobody.

Its a exhibition not to be missed by anyone who has even the smallest interest in graffiti, as it takes you on a unique journey, offering a unique panorama of contemporary urban art from the masters themselves.

The exhibition runs till the 18th November and is free to attend so there is no real excuse not to visit.

Pure Evil
108 Leonard Street,
London
EC2A 4XS