Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Archive for the Horror / Goth category

Alex CF: London Old Operating Theatre solo show and Lovecraft action figure

by Suzanne on August 5th, 2012

Very special Wurzeltod® friend Alex CF is back from touring with his countless bands and being an incredibly possessed tentacled mastermind unstoppable creative force, he has some fantastic things lined up for you.

First up is the joyous announcement of his 2nd London solo show which will be opening this Thursday, August 9, 6.30 PM (RSVP HERE!), at the best location I could possibly imagine for his creatures, namely the veritable Old Operating Theatre located in the time capsule roof space of the Baroque St. Thomas’ Church. It’s one of the oldest surviving operating theatres on earth and to have it filled with Alex‘s cryptozoological specimens is an absolute curatorial masterstroke.

So if you’re in London in August, I’d say FUCK THE OLYMPICS! and go climb the beautiful old spiral staircase to the Old Operating Theatre to be enchanted by Alex‘s phantasmagorical chimerae.

You can find all the details for the show below. Tell your friends about it.


Fetal skeleton by Alex CF, 2012

In other news that would make the Elder Gods jealous, Alex has just released an entirely hand-cast, hand-painted action figure of the dark lord, Monsieur H. P., himself.

Limited to 50 figures only, Lovecraft comes with a comic, a shirt and a screen print, all created by Alex, in a black magnetic sealed box.

You can see all the details here (where you can also see images of the figures in production). To order directly, please click here.


H. P. Lovecraft action figure set by Alex CF, 2012

Opening: Aug 9, 2012, 6.30 PM, RSVP HERE!

On show: Aug 10 – Sep 1, 2012

Address: Old Operating Theatre, 9a St. Thomas’s St, London, SE1 9RY, United Kingdom | Map & Directions

Hours: 10.30 AM – 5 PM daily

Admission: £6 adults, £3.50 children (all proceeds go to the Old Operating Theatre)

Listing | Flyer | Facebook event

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Witch House 101

by Suzanne on February 22nd, 2012

We interrupt this broadcast to bring you this important intergalactic message from the data highway/PoE:

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

Matsui Fuyuko print editions and exhibition at Yokohama Museum of Art, Japan

by Suzanne on December 6th, 2011


Keeping Up the Pureness by Matsui Fuyuko, 2005 (original) and 2010 (reproduction) – click to enlarge

Matsui Fuyuko. Insanely talented, bright, stunningly beautiful. And modest. There’s more than enough reasons to worship this artist but for me personally, it’s the fact that she wrote her doctoral dissertation on The Inescapable Awakening to Pain, through Visual Perception via the Sensory Nerves. *bites lips*

If you don’t want to take my word for it but convince yourself of her many talents, please watch this footage of her working on Carved Limbs on an Altar over here on YouTube (sadly, embedding has been disabled).

I must say it’s an absolute mystery to me why she’s not as big in the occidental art world as back in Japan but it seems that enthusiasm for her work is slowly growing and as every so often, it’s French galleries and publishing houses leading the way. And anyways, it’s not like art appreciation in the West in this apathetic and ironic century still has ANYTHING whatsoever to do with technique, ingenuity, originality, imagination or vision. Sometimes it actually seems like it’s the very opposite that’s in demand.

Anyways, back to Matsui Fuyuko: First of all, Gallery Naruyama in Tokyo in conjunction with Galerie DA-END in Paris has released a beautiful signed and limited edition box sets of Matsui‘s oeuvre containing 20 of her artworks, including the very popular Nyctalopia and Keeping Up the Pureness (above). It can be pre-ordered from Naruyama for JPY 46,000. There’s also a “KIRI” special deluxe set in an edition of 45 only which includes an engraving of the gorgeous Rough Draft for Virgin Specimen (2009, bottom) for JPY 480,000. More details on how to reserve and order here.

And before you go “Uh, that’s very pricey. Bitch!” think about what sums the likes of Mark Ryden sell BOOKS full of repetitive iconography for these days. Also check the edition size on that. Exactly. I rest my case.

And in other brilliant news, Matsui Fuyuko will have an exhibition entitled Becoming Friends with All the Children in the World which opens later this month at Yokohama Museum of Art and will remain on view until March 2012. I know it sounds like a Michael Jackson manifesto, but I’m somehow sure that’s not what it’s about at all. More details about the show below.


Rough Draft for Virgin Specimen by Matsui Fuyuko, 2009 – click to enlarge

On show: Dec 17, 2011 – Mar 18, 2012

Address: Yokohama Museum of Art, 3-4-1, Minatomirai, Nishi-ku, Yokohama 220-0012, Japan, tel: +81 (0)45 221 0300 | Map

Hours: Fri – Wed: 10 AM – 6 PM

Admission: ¥1,100

Preview & press release

Artist’s website

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Christopher Conn Askew’s “96 Tears” at Merry Karnowsky, Los Angeles

by Suzanne on December 1st, 2011


A Teardrop and a Flame by Christopher Conn Askew, watercolour, ink, graphite, nail polish & gouache on paper, 18 x 24 inches, 2011 – click to enlarge

96 Tears is one of the very few exhibitions where I don’t even mind looking at the opening photographs because for once, they’re full of beautiful and inspiring people – amongst them, obviously, the brilliant Askew-san himself.

For me, it has become ever clearer over the years that CC Askew is one of those rare artists who – rather than beginning to focus on the easy recipe of iconography that works and recurring themes that sell – constantly expand their intellectual and occult horizons, artistic heritage and understanding of foreign cultures and thus manage to integrate ever new aspects into their works.

In a way, CC has sometimes almost been a bit of a reverse Suehiro Maruo to me because just like Maruo – who has an obsession for blending motives from the Golden Age of Hollywood into his works – Askew does something similar with oriental cultures. And just like a Vania Zouravliov he does it with the utmost respect, admiration and sensitivity.

But this simple analogy would not do the master justice as he’s an iconosynthesist in his own right who has created his very own visual language and narrative codes.

So YEAH, what am I even writing this all for? It’s all pretty self-evident from the two new works posted here that you should absolutely go see 96 Tears if you’re in L.A. before December 10.

And in the meantime, I’ll be sitting here praying to the Elder Gods that Askew will be asked to design Shin Megami Tensei: Persona characters some fine day in the future.


No Golden Years by Christopher Conn Askew, watercolour, ink, graphite, nail polish, gouache & gold leaf on paper, 12 x 27 inches, 2011 – click to enlarge

On show: Nov 12 – Dec 10, 2011

Address: Merry Karnowsky Gallery, 170 S. La Brea Avenue, Los Angeles, CA 90036, USA, tel: 323.933.4408 | Map

Hours: Tue – Sat: 12 – 6 PM

Preview | Opening photos

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The London Underground Film Festival and “Of Dolls & Murder” at The Horse Hospital, London

by Suzanne on November 25th, 2011

Just a quick heads up for Londoners that great things will be taking place at the Horse Hospital in Bloomsbury these coming weeks:

From December 1 – 4, the London Underground Film Festival takes place, this year featuring lots of live acts, DJs, an exhibition of Emily Rose England‘s work and great movies such as THUNDERCRACK! presented by the amazing people of Today Is Boring. Check out the full programme here.

And the day before the LUFF starts, you have a chance to see a screening of Of Dolls & Murder the documentary about the fantastic forensic Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death dioramas – I posted about them back in.. Christ.. 2004!

Cris Brodahl & Duncan Marquiss at “Secret Societies”, CAPC musée d’art contemporain, Bordeaux

by Suzanne on November 22nd, 2011


The Cure by Cris Brodahl, oil on glued canvas, 2009, courtesy Marc Foxx – click to enlarge

Like every so often and just to piss you off, I’m hijacking yet another exhibition announcement (I am apparently not the only one to not be terribly convinced/slightly confused by) to introduce you to the work of Cris Brodahl (top & middle) and Duncan Marquiss (bottom), two great young artists that haven’t been featured here yet - at least not that I know of and I’m way too lazy to do a search. Y? Cause.


Reality (detail) by Cris Brodahl, oil on glued canvas, framed, 2009, courtesy Marc Foxx

Don’t get me wrong, Secret Societies has a pretty epic line-up of artists that, taken per se, are often great talents – particularly the brilliant Markus Schinwald (showing his Untitled/Radetzky) and the ontologically ingenious Suzanne Treister who has created a plethora of vast artistic universes like few other artists.

However, the specific works selected seem to mainly underline something I find a bit problematic with young hyped contemporary art: It all looks rather pseudo-alchemical, faux-mysticistic, ironically psychedelic, post-neo-pagan, and in the end and upon closer inspection, it’s really just rather superflat on neon (no, srsly, there’s plenty of neon in the exhibition design…). In this context, all seems a bit like someone’s Tumblr has come alive and even the minimalist sculptural pieces don’t work anymore and look more like lost furniture from some space opera.

However, as always, please do enlighten me if you’ve seen the show and actually enjoyed it – I’m honestly just making all these observations based on the installation views and the press release I was sent.

Secret Societies – To Know, To Dare, To Will, To Keep Silence opened earlier this month and will remain on show until February 2012. All details below.

Please note that the artworks shown here will not be on display and serve merely to portray the artists’ oeuvres.


Untitled by Duncan Marquiss, coloured pencil on paper, 2008, courtesy Dicksmith Gallery – click to enlarge

On show: Nov 9, 2011 – Feb 26, 2012

Address: CAPC musée d’art contemporain, Entrepôt. 7, rue Ferrère, Ville de Bordeaux, F-33077 Bordeaux, France, tel: +33 (0)5 56 00 81 50

Hours: Tue – Sun: 11 AM – 6 PM

Admission: €5

Introduction | Press kit

WurzelForum discussion

Richard Stipl at High Roller Society, London – Pictures

by Suzanne on November 18th, 2011


By Richard Stipl, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

Earlier this month, after visiting Essence of Edo-Tokyo at ICN, I decided to take the little journey from my old London home in Bethnal Green down Roman Road to check out one of the most daring and fascinating group shows of the year: Savant – curated by Joe Becker at High Roller Society. I posted about it here.


By Richard Stipl, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

I left deeply impressed by the oeuvres of Richard Stipl, Peggy Kouroumalos and particularly Rory Dean - whose paintings I expected to be much larger - and it became apparent that the one thing that all the featured artists had in common was a very obsessive-compulsive joyful drive to create. You could almost touch their collective exuberant imagination and the electric heat of their synapses during the creation of this show. And that’s a very rare thing to feel at a group show – so chapeau to Joe for putting this show together and selecting such a great bunch of fellow artists.


By Richard Stipl, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

Also massive thanks to Jennifer Moran who runs High Roller for taking the time – on Guy Fawkes Night, no less – to show me around the exhibition, dig out secret works from the High Roller treasure trove and for discussing techniques, misunderstood artists, monsters and… dentures.

More of this kind of stuff in London please!

Savant runs until November 27.


By Richard Stipl, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

Impressions of “Essence of Edo-Tokyo” featuring Ryo Arai at ICN, London

by Suzanne on November 17th, 2011


Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

Although I missed the opening reception for Ryo Arai’s show at London’s ICN Gallery, I did manage to check it out after a fantastic Liberty Snake ZeroZeroNain organised by Misanthropop that saw some of London’s best post-punk DJs and connoisseurs come together.


Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

Anyways, after admittedly being initially a bit disappointed that the sculpture on the exhibition flyer was not actually on show, everything completely made up for that slight flaw. So much so that this is hands down my favourite London show of 2k11 after Charles Matton’s Enclosures at All Visual Arts earlier this year.


Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

It was tricky to capture all the details of the gorgeous papier-mâché texture of the sculptures in the photos but I hope you nevertheless enjoy these impressions of the show.


Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

What’s more is that the ICN staff was extremely sweet, helpful and very knowledgeable and I purchased an absolutely gorgeous and apparently out-of-print Ryo Arai monograph for as little as a handful of sushi.


Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

East London can be glad to have this magical new place delivering so much Japanese ocular and culinary goodness to the area.

Essence of Edo-Tokyo will remain on view until this Saturday, November 19, so do go check it out if you’re in London.


Papier-mâché yokai by Ryo Arai, photo by Wurzeltod – click to enlarge

A Mid-November Dance with Death

by Suzanne on November 16th, 2011


Pest from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 – click to enlarge

“I cook doom in the air and what breathes has to die.”

It’s this time of year again – a time of such enormous transformation and transmutation in nature – when I find myself doing strange and silly things like obsessively reading the Nibelungen or losing myself in Skyrim because of some ominous melancholy and a deep longing for being reunited and rot away with the earth, the elements, of sinking, of dissolving, of dreamless thankful sleep.

And I really miss how this time of year feels like in my homeland. I miss the magic of how the mist and will-o’-the-wisps rise magnificently over the frosty fields and graveyards, how the forests creak with the cold like old bones, how the crows complain over the lack of grains, how the dormice hurriedly prepare their beds of leaves for a harsh winter.


Jungfrau from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 – click to enlarge

“Youth, so fiery, with cheeks so red. So blissful is love – so hideous is death.”

I miss the lake steaming in the morning, I miss still gasping at that fierce, majestic and omnipotent ancient natural fortification wall, the Alps, putting on its snowy white coat under the absolutely colourless and closed heavens even though I have seen its sight a million times. I miss the smell of bonfires and the sound of whips cracking in the clear glassy evening air. I miss hearing cowbells and spotting lanterns dancing like fireflies in the distant dark.

But mostly, I miss hiding in the medieval section of libraries hugging the radiator and a cup of really shitty instant coffee, completely immersed in studying Totentänze only to be thrown out at closing time and walking home aimlessly and hurt and finding myself in front of the Spreuer Bridge – that illustrated passage over the river Reuss talking to me so vividly from 1630 via the playful and treacherous skeletons of Caspar Meglinger.


Deliquent from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 – click to enlarge

“One death as retribution for the other. So does both justice and crime serve me.”

Growing up in Catholic Switzerland meant I’ve seen A LOT of danse macabres in my early childhood and by the time I moved to Protestant Basel to study, I was ready for their more scientific, demystified and bürgerliche understanding of the dance of death. I can’t say I understood it at first – I felt it was sorely lacking in the flamboyant Baroque accusatory celebration of decadence and the deadly sins. Protestant Totentänze are never about a sexy death. What I saw was a way more silent and depressing death. Anonymous diseases finishing people off from within instead of inebriated tomfoolery until the very end and very dull modest existences just being blown out rather than the grotesque fights for life and death seen in Catholic cycles.

It took a short train journey in 2002 from Basel to the university library of Freiburg im Breisgau (it’s a fucking Goth uni – the art department was literally in the catacombs) to rekindle my love for the Totentanz. It was there where I found a copy of the Leipzig Todtentanz für alle Stände (Dance of Death for all Classes) – excerpts of which you can see here.


Handwerker from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 – click to enlarge

“This house that you have built for yourself – let me see whether it fits you.”

Todtentanz für alle Stände was conceived by Carl Merkel and the woodcuts are by the absolutely fantastic Johann Gottfried Flegel. It was published in Leipzig in 1850. You can read the entire book here. I am not ashamed to admit that I cried when I first saw these – the carefully selected botanic symbolism of each and every scene relating to the trade or rank of the portrayed person, the way scenes turn into ornament, ornament into filigree and finally filigree into calligraphy. A whole world opened itself up to me when I first saw these and I hope you will appreciate getting lost in them too. I’m sorry I couldn’t make the English translation rhyme like the German original – it would take me ages to do it gracefully.

I would like to thank my dear friend Peacay from BibliOdyssey for making me remember this very special Totentanz. You have no idea how much finding this on your blog means to me, PK.

How lucky we are to walk amongst the proud dead.


Künstler from Bilder des Todes oder Todtentanz für alle Stände by Carl Merkel & Johann Gottfried Flegel, Leipzig, 1850 – click to enlarge

“All your hopes and aspirations were in vain – but now death is fairer than life.”