Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Archive for the Interviews category

Berlinde De Bruyckere in Melbourne and Istanbul

by Suzanne on July 22nd, 2012


019 by Berlinde De Bruyckere, 2007, wax, epoxy, metal, glass, wood, blankets, 293.5 x 517 x 77.5 cm, Collection Claude Berri © Andri Stadler- click to enlarge

I've often raved about Berlinde's art on here - in fact, her work even invades my everyday life as arty backdrop - so I'll spare you the superlatives but instead just want to make you aware that if you're Melbourne-based, you now have less than a week left to catch her fascinating We Are All Flesh show at the ACCA.

In case you were wondering: Yes, Berlinde did have a show with the same title three years ago at Hauser & Wirth in London but it seems that different and lots of newly commissioned works are on display in Melbourne.

If you're not yet familiar with her work, the 15-minute interview below offers a great introduction into her vision, process and technique but of course will neither replace the olfactory, visceral and epidermic qualities of the wax, skin, hair and fabrics she uses for her sculptures, nor explain the necrophiliac alchemistic ways in which she can turn branches into limbs, tree trunks into fresh corpses by masterfully applying an organic colour palette (pinks for skin, off-white for adipose tissue, greys/greens/blues for the circulatory system) onto wax with which she can control, halt and synthesise transformation, decay, death.

If you're not in Australia but in.. who knows.. Turkey, you can also catch her Wound show at the ARTER Space for Art in Istanbul until August 26 where she has inspired Vincent Dunoyer to dance Bruyckeresque choreographies in the exhibition space surrounded by her sculptures.

Details for the Istanbul show can be found here. The information below is for the ACCA exhibition.

On show: Jun 2 - Jul 29, 2012

Address: ACCA, 111 Sturt Street, Southbank, Melbourne, Victoria 3006, Australia, tel: +61 3 9697 9999, email: info@accaonline.org.au | Map

Hours: Tue - Fri: 10 AM - 5 PM, Sat - Sun: 11 AM - 6 PM, Mon: By appointment

Admission: FREE

Press release

WurzelForum discussion

20 Most Popular Posts on Wurzeltod in 2011

by Suzanne on December 26th, 2011

To wrap up 2k11 on the Wurzelblog, I decided to post the 20 articles you guys liked best - according to likes, shares and reactions - and I must say, you've got a rather amazing and futureproof taste in the arts, people.

Many thanks for taking the time to submit stories, comment and interact in the past year(s).

(In order of popularity and ordered into rather random categories. Click on images to read stories.)

JAPANOPHILIA

ART FEATURES & REVIEWS

HISTORY & SCIENCE

INTERNA

Liam Sparkes at AKA, Berlin

by Suzanne on September 9th, 2011


Portrait of Tattooist Liam Sparkes by Emily Hope - click to enlarge

Good people of Berlin! There's a Liam Sparkes exhibition opening in your beautiful town tonight. The reception takes place at AKA at Pflügerstrasse 6 in 12047 Berlin (map) and I'm not sure for how long the show will remain on view. In fact, I'm not even sure what's going to be exhibited. o_O


Tattoo by Liam Sparkes, picture BWified, tattoo monochrome - click to enlarge

But it's Liam's work so you know you won't be disappointed. If you're still in doubt, check out the extensive tattoo portfolio on his Flickr (early work on top, recent work on page 12). Personally, I'm very fond of his Bellmer tattoos.

Oh, and while you're at it, his Sleeping People series is also quite enlightening.


Tattoo by Liam Sparkes, picture BWified, tattoo monochrome - click to enlarge

Liam currently tattoos at Shangri-La Tattoo in London but he's clearly been around the block and also used to work at East River Tattoo in Brooklyn.


Tattoo by Liam Sparkes, picture BWified, tattoo monochrome - click to enlarge

Liam is also the world record holder for lighting the same cigarette as many times as humanly possible:

Markus Schinwald for the Austrians at the Venice Biennale

by Suzanne on June 5th, 2011


By Markus Schinwald - click to enlarge

I must admit that before I saw the vision of hell that is Michael Stipe, Courtney Love and S4lem united at a Venice "art" event for the super-rich, super-bored and super-tasteless, my hopes for this 54th edition of the Venice Biennale were actually pretty high and this post looked very different when I started writing it and heck, I was even considering lifting my biennale boycott for the occasion.


Thérèse by Markus Schinwald, oil on canvas, 2007

Ah well, I still admire some of the bold choices this year's curator Bice Curiger (of Parkett and Kunsthaus Zürich fame) made and let's be fair, there are many great young artists exhibiting and for the first time, the Biennale actually feels almost... familiar.

What made me really happy is seeing that Markus Schinwald - lover of scoliosis and admirer of the Milwaukee Brace - is representing Austria in Venice.


Beatrice by Markus Schinwald, oil on canvas, 2007 - click to enlarge

Yes, you could argue that he's recently been doing very similar things at Yvon Lambert and has been showing the works on exhibit all over the place, most notably at the Migrosmuseum in Zürich, but still, BUT STILL, he has a great talent for the haunting (particularly in his film oeuvre), the uncomfortable, the uncanny, the unheimlich.

Here's an introduction to his Venice exhibition:


On show: Jun 4 - Nov 27, 2011

Address: The Venice Biennale, Austrian Pavilion, Giardini, 30124 Venezia, Italy, tel: +39-41.2728397

Austria's Biennale website


Russian criminal tattoo docu "The Mark of Cain" on YouTube

by Suzanne on May 9th, 2011


Screen capture from The Mark of Cain, 2000 - click to watch on YouTube

The first tattoo read: Khrushchev’s Slave. The second: Slave of the USSR. The third: Slave of the CPSU. ‘Now, after three operations,’ wrote Kuznetsov, ‘the skin is so tightly stretched … he can no longer close his eyes. We call him The Stare.’

- Russian criminal tattoos: breaking the code (The Guardian)

Just a quick note for those who've enjoyed FUEL's Russian Criminal Tattoo Encyclopaediae (vol i, ii, iii) and their London exhibition of the archive last year:

Alix Lambert's 2000 docu The Mark of Cain has been available in its entirety online on YouTube since the end of last year - a fact I only discovered the other day. Yes, it's worth 73 minutes of your life if you haven't seen it yet. Watch it below or on YouTube.

On a related note, may I also HIGHLY recommend FUEL's Drawings from the Gulag by Danzig Baldaev. It's haunting, to say the very least...

Daniel Clowes Interview, Fumetto, April 2011

by Suzanne on April 15th, 2011


The Wurzeltod® and The Fenner® getting their copy of Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron signed by Daniel Clowes - Click here for result - Photo by Fabienne Anthes, Fumetto 2011 - click to enlarge

Rob and I had the great privilege and honour to conduct a short interview with the great Daniel Clowes during Fumetto 2011 in Luzern, Switzerland.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with his oeuvre (PHILISTINES!), Daniel Clowes is a leading (in my personal opinion the best) comics artist of our time with the rare talent to create equally spellbinding words and imagery. I assume you could therefore call him a "graphic novelist" if you MUST (*shudders*), but I do believe he is so much more than that with a Bunuelesque, Lynchesque phantasmagoric cinematographic imagination and a Chris Wareish claustrophobic understanding of all the grey areas of human nature and the sheer terror of everyday life. He shares the joy to celebrate the imperfect, ugly, grotesque and freakish with Robert Crumb and even artists of the Japanese ero-guro genre.

Reading his books - particularly the entire Eightball - is an act of letting go, of being absorbed by the pulp, of becoming part of his universe. A bit like being locked into a museum with a dusty Paul Delvaux where not one character is looking at the other... searching for eyes, for a point, a perspective, an exit and realising that the only way out is through the canvas.

OKAY, YOU GOT THE DAMN IDEA! YOU WANNA READ HIS BIO?! HERE'S HIS BIO!


Eightball #8 cover by Daniel Clowes, Fumetto 2011 - click to enlarge

Wurzeltod/Misanthropop (W/M): We were amazed to see so much relatively early and unpublished work at your Fumetto retrospective at Frigorex and it occurred to me how much more geometrical, raw and abstract your early work was compared to what you're doing now. Was it a conscious decision to create more of a "well-rounded" style or just the natural evolution your art took?

Daniel Clowes (DC): I always wanted to draw the way I draw now to some degree but I wasn't able to back then. That early, kind of angular style... there's a lot of shortcuts in it that other artists might recognise as things that eliminate the need to do complicated drawing. I wanted the pages to read a certain way, have a certain look. Back in the early days, I simply wasn't able to draw absolutely anything. You could say I was writing stories around my limitations.

Very complicated visual stuff would often have to end up in word balloons. A guy on horseback would have been in text rather than drawn, for instance. As I got years and years more practice and accumulated more drawing skills, I felt more and more comfortable. I still wouldn't want to draw horses but if somebody put a gun to my head and said "Draw that!", I could.

Even though I'm moving in the direction that I have set out, I'm still not one of those artists who can sit down and draw without any struggle, I still have to work very hard to make it look like what I want it to look like. I've learned to make it look more effortless now - whether it is or not. That's the trick.

✂ ✂ ✂

W/M: That brings me to a question I asked Peter Blegvad for Fumetto 07: What's the most difficult thing for you to draw? What do you struggle with most or even avoid? Peter said that he finds it almost impossible to draw hands and admired Killoffer's hands greatly. So what is your pièce de résistance?

DC: Animals - they're very hard to draw. I can draw animals in a cartooney, exaggerated way but when I try to draw them naturalistically, they look really goofy. I was never interested in drawing animals in a realistic way as a kid. Same with cars. I can draw the outline okay but when I draw the people inside they either look scrunched up or really spacious.

Another thing that's hard to draw is people eating dinner. You have to draw all the plates, knives and forks in perspective and you have to match where everything is at the table, it's much more difficult than it seems.

I think that the easiest comic to draw would be something like Tarzan where they're all out in the jungle. It's a space thing, you'd just be drawing vines and trees until they fill up the page and you have no actual three-dimensional space left - you would not even need to use perspective at all.

✂ ✂ ✂

W/M: Who would you list as your biggest influences - be it in comics or art in general?

DC: In the world of comics it would be Robert Crumb and Harvey Kurtzman. I try to find influence in every aspect of comics, and I tend to find that filmmakers are more of an influence than other visual media. I personally think that painters are not a good influence for comics, the kind of things you're trying to do in a painting aren't useful for what you're trying to do at all in a comic. Unless you look at it holistically, the entirety of a painting as a narrative of a story, and how that would translate into a comic. But the demands of picture making are very different than they are in a comic.

The older I get, I find the more interested I get in limited forms of art, the dialogue of theatre and the cinematography of film. I don't want any one picture to stop you from the entirety of the story. There are artists who try to make every panel this beautifully composed image but my goal is to get people reading the comics to forget that they're looking at pieces of paper and are turning pages but that they're actually inhabiting this world. That they're partly in control and that it's no longer just an experience of assimilating images. I don't want to give any one panel too much weight of opinion.

✂ ✂ ✂


Selfportrait by Daniel Clowes, Fumetto 2011 - click to enlarge

W/M: There's probably a fair amount of people who got to know your work via movies like "Ghost World" and as you said before, you're drawn to cinematography. How would you react if you were given a chance to work with a director with a similar penchant for the surreal and bizarre like David Lynch, or, if still alive, Luis Buñuel, on the movie version of "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron"?

DC: I would obviously let David Lynch do it, but the trouble with most filmmakers like him is that he's got his own vision so it would end up being absolutely his film. He's not the kind of filmmaker who is going to try to accurately bring my inspiration to screen, he would just take it as a beginning and create his own film of that. Which could be great - I would be all for it, but it just wouldn't feel like a collaboration, necessarily.

I almost feel that "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron" would be better done by someone who is a really straight forward, sober director, without any inflection at all, just to do it really deadpan, without further pointing out the strangeness of it or it would turn into the "wackiest film ever made!" (laughs)

I always think "Like a Velvet Glove Cast in Iron" will be a mainstream film in 2050 with kids going to see it... culture having fallen to that level by then. (laughs)

✂ ✂ ✂

W/M: I read in a decade-old Guardian article that you produced over 20 drafts for "Ghost World" and even made your own props etc. Are you a bit OCD when it comes to movie adaptations of your works?

DC: Yes, I was a little OCD about "Ghost World". I felt like it was my only chance to ever make a film so I wanted to do it perfectly. And I was also very insecure and had no idea how to write a script. Even the college intern types working on the film knew more about making movies than I did in terms of technical aspects. I actually felt like a real fraud being able to bypass all the education you have to go through to make a film. I just walked right into it and had all that control.

You write a script and you think people are going to change things around but it really wasn't like that at all. People take it very seriously. Every word you write has an almost biblical significance, it's almost like a fundamentalist religion where people take every word literally and you can throw in some funny little description to make Terry Zwigoff (EDIT W/M: the director of "Ghost World") giggle and all of a sudden you find there's a technical guy building whatever you wrote as a little joke and spending hours constructing something that could just as easily have been replaced.

✂ ✂ ✂

W/M: Did you experience the process of script writing to be somewhat similar to writing graphic novels considering they are both sequential forms in a way?

DC: It's similar because in both you're telling stories through the dialogue. You're writing really small indications of what those visuals would be but that's the director's job... to set the scene. So in many ways it's very similar but there's a time element in the film where in the comic you can be a little more elusive. You don't have to be quite as direct and clear in the way you tell a story because the reader can stop when they're a little confused, they can go back and make sense of a story again.

Whereas in a movie, the minute you are watching a movie and say "Wait a minute! Is that the guy who did that?" you are not watching the movie and the movie is moving past you and you are still thinking about something that took place earlier. You have to keep the audience in the movie as it is going along. And that's a very different demand than creating a comic or a novel.

Also, movies have more of a musical quality. You have to mix things together so that it works rhythmically and feels that the emotions are moving in the right way. It's a complicated aspect that the screenwriter has very little control over.

I was so used to having utter control over what I did in doing comics, so I had to learn to think of the screenplay as the final form, I tried to get it as good as I could and then whatever movie is made from it, I had to step back from that. That's a separate thing.

✂ ✂ ✂


Art School Confidential by Daniel Clowes, Fumetto 2011 - click to enlarge

W/M: Let's get back to your graphic novels for a bit. I was wondering whether you could tell us more about your love affair with the imperfect misanthropic suburbia man/woman as main protagonist, why he's different to the classical anti-hero and whether you generally prefer broken glamour to white teeth perfection.

DC: That's very true. I have actually thought about that a lot. I think that's something I have yet to do: To really sit down and try to create a likable character. To build a likable character, let's say in a Hollywood movie, you have to make him so over-the-top... it's so flattering to the audience's sense of themselves, so pandering to their fragile egos that it seems almost like you're making fun of the audience's feelings.

To me this just seems too awful - it has the same qualities as doing advertising for a really unhealthy product. And it's precisely because of that that I like the idea of trying to play with that at some point. Whenever I try to create a likable character though, he just turns into another Wilson - because that's of course who I find likable. All of my friends are much more the angry, seething, out-of-place guys and I can't imagine anything worse than hanging out with a Russell Crowe type character. (laughs)

✂ ✂ ✂

W/M: The Guardian has quoted you as saying "I once had this idea to do a comic where a mother tattoos a message on her baby's head so that years later, when he's losing his hair, he finally sees it. It would say something like, 'I never loved you'.". That was obviously before you became a father yourself. Is it something you've considered doing when your son was born?

DC: (laughs) It actually didn't cross my mind. They're their own autonomous beings much more than I ever imagined myself. I thought children were just these creatures that parents control and shape but they really are just themselves from minute one.

He was also born with a lot of hair so I would have had to shave his head first. (laughs)

But someday he's going to read that interview and go "God, my dad was such an asshole!" (laughs)

✂ ✂ ✂

W/M: Thank you so much. It's been a pleasure!

DC: Nice talking to you guys!

Daniel Clowes' Fumetto retrospective will be on display until April 17, 2011 in Luzern, so if you happen to be in Switzerland this weekend, don't miss it. More information here.

Bye Bye Kitty!!! at Japan Society, New York

by Suzanne on March 21st, 2011


ERECTRO(clara) by Motohiko Odani, 2004, photo by Kioku Keizo - click to enlarge

Bye Bye Kitty!!! - Between Heaven and Hell in Contemporary Japanese Art - a fantastically curated show that has gained prominent relevance due to recent sad events in Japan is currently on show at New York's Japan Society.

It's an incredible tour de force featuring some in the Western art world often marginalised and underrepresented Japanese artists, my favourites being: Makoto Aida, Manabu Ikeda, Rinko Kawauchi, Motohiko Odani (above), Chiharu Shiota (previously featured here) and Miwa Yanagi (below).


From the Fairytale series by Miwa Yanagi, silver gelatin print, 2004 - click to enlarge

There's a lot to see and learn at this show so please don't miss it if you're in NYC. The Japan Society also offers you countless ways to donate to Japan's struggle with the earthquake and tsunami aftermath.

Details are below and please don't miss this interview with the amazing Makoto Aida (via Substrom):

On show: Mar 18 - Jun 12, 2011

Address: Japan Society, 333 East 47th Street, New York, NY 10017, tel: 212.832.1155 | Map & Directions

Opening hours: Tue - Thu: 11 AM - 6 PM, Fri : 11 AM - 9 PM, Sat & Sun: 11 AM - 5 PM

Exhibition website | Events

Rants, Nosebleeds and Racecars

by Suzanne on February 17th, 2011

So yeah, I'm down with ze flu, I have weird spider/bedbug bites all over my body (WTF?), I'm in the foulest of moods and it was my birthday the other day and apart from Facebook people no-one sent me any messages let alone presents AND YOU ALL KNOW HOW MUCH I LIKE PRESENTS. I therefore decided to hate you all for at least 9 minutes starting now. Boooo!

I was too ill to announce the birthdays of our two dearest leaders yesterday: Warren Ellis and Kim Jong-il. It was also the great Ernst Haeckel's birthday - inventor of patterned website backgrounds.

Today, it's the anniversary of the vaginal expulsion of Alex CF and an aurora borealis might be visible if you live in the northern parts of this beautiful kingdom. Tomorrow's full moon and on Tuesday I'm going to see this beauty with The Fenner® (yeah, I don't what's up with the music either...):

Things could be shittier.

P.S.: I owe lots of you emails and will get back to you as soon as I'm feeling better.

Joao Ruas at ThinkSpace L.A.

by Suzanne on May 11th, 2009


Elephant Man by Joao Ruas, 2009, watercolour, graphite, collage & gouache

Joao Ruas (previously featured here) is the miraculously talented love child of James Jean from whom he inherited that breathtakingly epic and mythical artistic grandeur and Esao Andrews who seems to have infused him with a curious penchant for cold reddened noses and meandering liplines. And as you can tell, it's a great mix!

Joao's new show Inner Myth Pt. 1 opened at L.A.'s ThinkSpace the other day and will be on show through June 5.


Tengu by Joao Ruas, 2009, watercolour & gouache

On show: May 8 - June 5, 2009

Address: Thinkspace Art Gallery, 4210 Santa Monica Blvd, Los Angeles, CA 90029, USA, tel: (323) 913-3375 | Map

Gallery hours: Thur - Sun: 1 - 6 PM

Sneak peek | Preview works | Flyer

Interview with the artist

Artist's website

Stephan Doitschinoff at Jonathan LeVine, NYC

by Suzanne on November 21st, 2008


Medusa by Stephan Doitschinoff (a.k.a. Calma), acrylic on canvas - click for details/larger view

Cryptoreligious Brazilian alchemist Stephan Doitschinoff (a.k.a. Calma, short for "con alma" (lat.) meaning "with soul") presents new work in an upcoming solo show entitled Novo Mundo opening at the venerable Jonathan LeVine Gallery in NYC tomorrow evening.

A beautifully designed book published by the ever amazing Gestalten - who also kindly posted an interview with Calma - accompanies the exhibition and Stephan will be signing copies of this new monograph shortly before tomorrow's reception, between 6 - 7 PM.

Religious iconography has never been so much haptic fun and I'll promptly sit down to write a letter to the Holy See and ask them to let Calma redecorate the Vatican!


The Annunciation by Stephan Doitschinoff (a.k.a. Calma), 2005, mixed media on canvas - click for details/larger view

Opening reception: Tomorrow, Saturday, November 22, 2008, 7 - 9 PM

On show: November 22 - December 20, 2008

Opening times: Tue - Sat, 11 AM - 6 PM

Address: Jonathan LeVine Gallery, 529 West 20th Street, 9E New York, NY 10011, USA, tel: 212 243 3822 | Map

Artist's website

Gestalten interview

Buy monograph (published by Gestalten)

Documentary (by Gestalten)

Preview show