Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

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Yinka Shonibare's "Addio del Passato" at James Cohan Gallery, New York

by Suzanne on February 28th, 2012


Fake Death Picture (The Death of Chatterton - Henry Wallis) by Yinka Shonibare, MBE, 2011, digital chromogenic print, framed: 58 5/8 x 71 1/4 in. (148.91 x 180.98 cm) - click to enlarge

To be perfectly honest with you, I would even post about this show if I didn't like a single artwork on display other than Fake Death Picture (The Death of Chatterton) (top) because channeling my favourite accidental (?) suicide painting of all time will always get you a mention on here.

Oh, wait, and there's that... that fucking machine... err... pardon me, Anti-Hysteria Device (bottom). Yeah.

For Addio del Passato, British-born Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare has once again worked with his signature fabrics and created beautifully lavish costumes in bold colours and absolutely delectable opulent interiors achieving a gorgeous chiaroscuro of fabrics, textures and complexions so rich that you're almost forgetting you're actually looking at scenes of death. Well, at least a series of photographic re-enactments of famous death and suicide scenes of art history.

Overall, I will have to admit that I preferred the works from Yinka's Goya phase but you know me - I just like to complain.

Btw, if you missed Yinka's beautiful Nelson's Ship in a Bottle on Trafalgar Square's Forth Plinth, you might be able to see it at the National Maritime Museum in future if their campaign to save it from being sold is successful. Meanwhile, Elmgreen and Dragset have put a semi-nude very camp golden boy ridin' a poneh in its place and I'm of course always very pleased about any kind of prepuberty sleaze in public squares.

Details below.


Anti-Hysteria Device by Yinka Shonibare, MBE, 2011, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, wood, metal with motor, 30 3/8 x 41 x 18 7/8 in. (77 x 104 x 48 cm), photograph: Stephen White - click to enlarge

On show: Feb 16 - Mar 24, 2012

Address: James Cohan Gallery, 533 West 26th Street New York NY 10001, USA, tel: 212.714.9500, email: info@jamescohan.com

Hours: Tue - Sat: 10 AM - 6 PM

Preview | Press release

Artist's website

WurzelForum discussion

Karlheinz Weinberger's "Rebels" at Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, Paris

by Suzanne on February 21st, 2012


© and courtesy the Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger, Zurich - click to enlarge

In my early childhood, when we visited the fairgrounds in late autumn with a bag of Marroni (roasted chestnuts) warming my little hands, my mum would always tell me about how, when she was my age, the Halbstarke ("half-strongs"/"semi-toughs" - a movement both popularised and simplified by the movie Teenage Wolfpack) used to hang out near fairgrounds, looking intimidating, cool and... desirable.

Growing up in the 80s with unsightly skinny kids in stonewashed neon jeans and perms occupying fairgrounds, it always sounded like a completely different world to me and my imagination turned the Halbstarke into some half-men/half-wolves - pillaging and ravaging everything in their way that hasn't fainted with hysteria yet.


© and courtesy the Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger, Zurich - click to enlarge

In my teens - after studying the not unsimilar life and career of Swiss photographer genius and car crash fetishist Arnold Odermatt - I came across the photographic work of self-taught photographer and previous factory worker Karlheinz Weinberger (1921 - 2006 - GIVE THE MAN A WIKI PAGE!) and it took another year or two to link the stories my mother had told me to the hauntingly powerful yet disarming Weinberger portraits and to realise that post-WWII Switzerland really wasn't just all quaint and perfect but riddled with very diverse youth movements creating their very own eclectic aesthetic. An aesthetic that would some decades later inspire and influence the Swiss punk, post-punk and goth movements.

Until mid-March, Galerie Esther Woederhoff in Paris is showing a vast selection of works by Weinberger in an exhibition entitled Rebels. They're absolutely incredible snapshots of an often forgotten youth movement - shot partially in Weinberger's own pretty bourgeois living room - putting them in the very same Bildungsbürgertum environment they wanted to liberate themselves from - or in the great outdoors snogging in forests, riding pimped bikes, displaying their DIY gear, and just generally being totally badass, fierce and very un-Swiss.


© and courtesy the Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger, Zurich - click to enlarge

A motive that's particularly prevalent throughout Weinberger's work is the focus on the display of male genitalia. Halbstarke developed their very own style, distressing jeans by taking zips out, replacing them with bolts or string and therefore setting a very deliberate phallic accent to their attire. Having worked for "Der Kreis" (AGAIN, GIVE THEM A WIKI PAGE!), a homoerotic magazine published by a Zurich club of the same name that even dared to publish highly critical material during the Nazi era, Weinberger was well versed in an aesthetic celebrating the sensuous youthful male.

However, he documented the halbstarke females in an equally admiring way and his portraits of girls with outrageously backcombed hair, kohl cat eyes, animal print or boldly striped jumpers, very tight waistlines and a lot of chuzpe show a great amount of empathetic closeness to their cause. He was on their side without being one of them.


© and courtesy the Estate of Karlheinz Weinberger, Zurich - click to enlarge

Analysing the stylistic elements that made you halbstark, it's actually very interesting observing how certain elements broke with gender stereotypes while others enforced them with a shitload of testosterone:

For the guys this meant that the Hollywood version of the quiff was often grown longer and softened to look rather effeminate, jeans and leather jackets were often short and revealing but this was then counterbalanced with the masculinity of scary Hell's Angelesque back patches and of course the infamous horseshoe used as pendant - which was like the heavyweight 50s grandfather of the safety pin/pentagram/ankh.

The girls too walked a dual path both enforcing and breaking visual gender roles being the hourglass femme fatale only to adapt to a very tomboyish look and borrowing their boyfriend's horseshoes, jackets and bandanas the next day.

It was a fantastic and great experimentation ground for the days to come and a lot of it has survived until today - particularly in the goth, crust punk and biker movements. A political movement or not, a lot of the Halbstarke later joined the youth revolts of the late 60s and they have changed the visual landscape of Switzerland for good. Thankfully.

Exhibition details below.

On show: Feb 11 - Mar 17, 2012

Address: Galerie Esther Woerdehoff, 36, rue Falguière, 75015 Paris, France, tel: +33 (0)9 51 51 24 50, email: galerie@ewgalerie.com

Hours: Tue - Sat: 2 - 6 PM

Preview | Press release | Publication

WurzelForum discussion

Iwajla Klinke's "Crowns and Gladiola" at Galerie Suvi Lehtinen, Berlin

by Suzanne on October 29th, 2011

Lots of announcements to post so I'll keep these all fairly short.


From the Ritual Memories series by Iwajla Klinke

This coming Friday, November 4, Iwajla Klinke will be opening her solo show Crowns and Gladiola at Galerie Suvi Lehtinen in Berlin.

On show will be a new series of works, but I decided to illustrate this post with one of her most powerful past series: Ritual Memories - for all those of you who are new to her haunting work.


From the Ritual Memories series by Iwajla Klinke

Crowns and Gladiola will investigate the following:

"The photographic portraits featured in “Crowns and Gladiola” take as their inspiration the Yona Wallach poem, “Jonathan,” in which the author imagines herself a young boy being slain by other children wielding gladiola as swords.

Here, Iwajla Klinke’s fascination with human ritual – previously explored through portraits of young male subjects adorned in arcane religious cloths – is expanded to explore cultural practices situated even further from the center of mainstream Occidental discourse.

Idylls from Wallach’s poem are interpreted almost literally in portraits of fencers; a series of models bearing bridal crowns evoke a not-so-distant time when girls of a similar age had their futures determined for them through arranged marriage."

You can read the full press release here. The show will remain on view until November 26. Details below.


From the Ritual Memories series by Iwajla Klinke

On show: Nov 5 - Nov 26, 2011

Address: Galerie Suvi Lehtinen, Novalisstrasse 7, 10115 Berlin, Germany, email: info@galerielehtinen.com, tel: +49 (0)176 3240 6673 | Map

Hours: Tue - Sat: 12 - 6 PM

Press release

Artist's website

WurzelForum discussion

Nagi Noda at Creation Gallery G8, Tokyo

by Suzanne on October 20th, 2011


Nagi Noda, 1973 - 2008

Nagi Noda - the incredibly talented multi-genre artist, director, designer, fashion and hair visionary who died in the prime of her creative career three years ago is finally being honoured with a retrospective of her astonishingly diverse work in Tokyo, where she lived and worked.

Creation Gallery will be showing lots of previously unseen works and certainly some of her well-known animal haircuts/hats, superb photographs and some of her fantastically imaginative videos like Mariko Takahashi's Poodle Fitness Video which beyond doubt influenced such annoying obnoxious OKAY OKAY kinda cute things as this.

I've long forgiven her a rather obvious appropriation of Makoto Aida's work.

So if you're in Tokyo, do go down to Creation Gallery to celebrate the short sweet life and jubliant work of this stellar woman.

Sentimental Journey - Nagi Noda from FIBRA on Vimeo.

On show: Oct 18 - Nov 18, 2011

Address: Creation Gallery G8, Recruit Ginza 8 Bldg., 1F
8-4-17 Ginza, Chuo-ku, Tokyo 104-8001, Japan | Map

Hours: Mon - Sat: 11 AM - 7 PM

Press release

Artist's website

WurzelForum discussion

Thanks for the reminder, Gestalten!

Ray Caesar's "A Dangerous Inclination" at Corey Helford Gallery, Culver City

by Suzanne on October 13th, 2011


Self Examination by Ray Caesar, edition of 20, ultrachrome ink on paper, 30" x 30" (unframed) - click to enlarge

I know I haven't really written that much about Ray Caesar in a while but there is now a fantastic reason to rectify that situation and it's called Self Examination (c.f. image above).

As you all know, I have followed Ray's work since the very early days and after a while, his love for very particular motives emerged quite clearly.

While I found that the vast majority of art blogs, critics and curators obsessed over the actual breathtakingly Victorian imagery per se, you could almost say that I soon reached a level of certain happy visual saturation and as a result and after I first saw one of his pieces in real life, my curiosity got drawn to a completely different aspect of his work: The minute details of insect life, veins, skin translucency, drapery and other insanely small things not really visible on the interwebs. It's like his work truly revealed itself in all the intricate little microcosms it was really made of.

At the same time, I wasn't sure in what direction his work and therefore my appreciation of it would drift after I had gotten so very and literally close to the subject matter and I was somewhat anxious what to expect next - particularly after 2008 having been such an insanely prolific and technically highly diverse and experimental year for him. Since then, I have been waiting while Ray has been searching in his box, it seems:

"I look inside myself and see very difficult and wonderful memories I have forgotten; things I tucked away in a secret box 45 years ago. I am now sitting by that box and opening up what’s inside. [This exhibition] communicates what I am finding.”

(Press release to A Dangerous Inclination)

And well, today, I received a preview for Ray's new show entitled A Dangerous Inclination at Corey Helford that opens October 20 and I am glad to say that my doubts were unfounded and that I have fallen in love with the boldness, the simplicity (well, on a Caesaresque scale...), the much more anatomically grown-up femme fatale nature of his new piece Self Examination and I truly believe it to be his most exciting and enticing work in years.

I had a secret love affair with those underpants since his Blessed (2006), and fucking hell, I never expected them to make such a smoking hot comeback. So thanks, Ray.

The full preview isn't online yet but there will be some 30 pieces on show including classics and rare editions so keep your eyes peeled. I don't know why they always say that - it's kinda gross.

Details for the show are below.


Little Miss Sardonicus by Ray Caesar, 1 of 1, ultrachrome ink on paper, acrylic & varnish on panel, 6" x 6" (unframed) - click to enlarge

Opening reception: Saturday, October 22, 2011, 7 - 10 PM

On show: Oct 22 - Nov 12, 2011

Address: Corey Helford Gallery, 8522 Washingto Boulevard, Culver City, CA 90232, USA, tel: 310-287-2340

Hours: Tue - Sat: 12 - 6 PM

Press release

Artist's website

WurzelForum discussion

Silent (Movie) Night

by Suzanne on December 22nd, 2010

For the past few days, Rob (site back up very soon) and I have been watching our weary little eyes sore at the countless episodes of Louis Feuillade's 1915 masterpiece Les Vampires (with the ever hypnotic Musidora as spicy Irma Vep) so I decided I'll take this opportunity to share three totally unrelated silent films with you that you might not have seen yet. Because there's beauty in chaos and structure in the random. Okay, no, I just made that up, but nevermind.

First up is what I believe is the actual proof that the Tree Octopus myth was not actually an internet hoax from the 90s, but a much older cinematic deception by Jean Painlevé who shot this "rare footage of a tree octopus" in 1928. Do close your eyes when the doll appears for I swear, this traumatising scene will scar your retinae and souls for good. BUT I'VE WARNED YOU. OH, HOW I HAVE!


(La Pieuvre des arbres by Jean Painlevé, 1928 - via Sang Bleu)

Next up is Aelita: Queen of Mars from 1924 (hey, I said they have NOTHING to do with one another!).

Directed by Yakov Protazanov and based on Alexei Tolstoy's novel of the same name, it's a Sovieto-Martian sci-fi tale with very futureproof outfits.

Watch the entire film in 9 parts on YouTube.

Aelita: Queen of Mars (excerpt) from Tom Hill / Origamibiro on Vimeo.

Aelita by Yakov Protazanov, 1928 - with new soundtrack by Tom Hill - via Sense of Cinema

In mildly related silent movie news, if you're a lover of early 20th century serpentine and butterfly dances, may I also invite you to check out some of the titles shown at Barbican's Dreams of Darkness and Colour screening during this year's Fashion in Film festival?

For those unfortunate ones of you who have never seen the inspiring Loie Fuller perform, let's open the 114-year-old curtains once more:


A serpentine dance performance by Loie Fuller, recorded in 1896.

And that's that.

Anta… Odeli … Uta.

Mark Ryden's Lincoln Day Sale

by Suzanne on February 12th, 2010


Incarnation by Mark Ryden, oil on panel, 72 x 48 inches, 2009 - click to enlarge

Ah, I like etymologically correct art.

This just in for Rydenophiles: In celebration of Abe Lincoln's 201st birthday which we're celebrating today, Porterhouse Fine Art Editions are holding a one-day only sale with 50% off their entire online shop range.

Sale ends tonight midnight PST. Which is Pacific Standard Time, FYI, not an angry request to STFU.

In other news, congrats to Len for winning the last competition! Weeee! Rosemarie Trockel's Replace Me was of course based on Courbet's L’origine du monde from 1866. Well done! Your present is on its way.

Next up is the Quote of the Day. This time it's by my partner in crime bones, Alex CF, and was uttered while playing Dante's Inferno:

"I don't want to swim around, I want to fucking kill things."

Beautiful.

And finalemente, my unsolicited two pennies on an occurrence that in the past 24 hours has been emetically exploited by the fashion blogosphère:

When will the world learn that those who write their own requiems eventually die?!


Kate Moss hologram from Alexander McQueen AW06 show

It's not even sad, it just... consequence and logic. It's so relative how, when (and even if ever) the creativity of ones lifetime unfolds; to say that McQueen was too young to die is so very presumptuous and insulting looking at his ripe oeuvre.

He doesn't owe us anything, anymore. In my eyes, he was a 230-year-old noble yet permanently hungry fashion vampire who has seen it all before - the decadent gluttony, the insane grandeur, the ethereal beauty, the auratic melancholy - and it's this what became his creation. It's not going to go away. So just let him go now, please.