Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Archive for November, 2011

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

“Surrealismus in Paris” at Fondation Beyeler, Riehen, Basel

by Suzanne on November 19th, 2011


La poupée by Hans Bellmer, painted wood, papier-mâché, mixed media, 1935/36, 61×170×51 cm, courtesy Centre Georges Pompidou, Musée national d’art moderne, photo © Collection Centre Pompidou/Vertrieb RMN/Georges Meguerditchian/ProLitteris – click to enlarge

I dislike the way big art metropoleis *cough* London *cough* always label their sell-out shows *cough* Leonardo da Vinci *cough* as “Shows of the Century” when - IF you can afford the outrageous admission prices at all - these shows are normally so totally overrun you really can’t appreciate the art or are even given a specific time slot and need to get the hell out after 30 minutes. Trust me, I know. I actually went to the last “big da Vinci thing” in London a couple of years back but I can’t even recall whether it was at the V&A, the Royal Academy or the British Museum. All I remember is that I COULDN’T SEE SHIT and people had the NERVE to bring their Dan Browns along. Jesus Christ.

Anyways, so thankfully, there’s always the smaller, quieter places that put on masterpieces of curating in the middle of nowhere – pretty much overlooked by the international media.

Well, one such tremendous art historical chef-d’oeuvre of a show is currently taking place at the Fondation Beyeler in Riehen near Basel.

It’s devoted to Surrealism in Paris and features some of the most outstanding works of the one art movement that will never ever die.

Amongst the usual suspects that I won’t even bother mentioning here because the Beyeler is pretty notorious for its huge collection of surrealist art, you will meet the conjoined limbs of Hans Bellmer, the giant eyes of Paul Delvaux, the apocalyptic dreamscapes of Max Ernst and the sculptural synaesthesia of Méret Oppenheim.

Yes, I know right?! o_O

The exhibition looks also very stunning from an interior design point of view and a lot of effort, time.. and obviously money.. has been spent to contextualise and document the pieces. Definitely one to check out if you’re in Switzerland.

Surrealismus in Paris runs until the end of January 2012. Details below.


Der Gegenpapst by Max Ernst, oil on canvas, 1941/42, 161×127 cm, courtesy Peggy Guggenheim Collection, photo © David Heald/The Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation/ProLitteris – click to enlarge

On show: Oct 2, 2011 – Jan 29, 2012

Address: Fondation Beyeler, Baselstrasse 101, CH-4125 Riehen, Basel, Switzerland, tel: +41 – (0)61 – 645 97 00, email: info@fondationbeyeler.ch | Map

Hours: Mon – Sun: 10 AM – 6 PM

Admission: CHF 25.– (but special deals with public transport!)

Introduction | Preview | Press images

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Les Deux Garçons at Jaski Gallery, Amsterdam

by Suzanne on November 19th, 2011


L’Éphémère tangible by Les Deux Garçons, taxidermy, mixed media, 2011, 116 x 85 x 30 cm – click to enlarge

We’re staying in Taxidermistan for yet another blog post. This time, we’re revisiting the Dutch taxidermy artists Les Deux Garçons who I featured waaaaay back in the olden days in both the Porcellana Nervosa and Taxidermia Wurzeltodensis threads because they are so damn awesome.

And well, the two brothers have been busy since then and are currently showing brand new works at Jaski Gallery in Amsterdam. From what I understand, only the first 10 pieces of this preview will be on display (actually, I reckon it’s probably everything that’s dated with 2011) but I’m convinced you won’t be disappointed if you enjoy the sickly sweet branch of taxidermy art.

Oh, and if you happen to have the… errrm… modest amount of €12,500 in your wallet, you can even purchase the title piece of this exhibition: L’Éphémère Tangible (see top image).

On show until November 27. All details below.


L’Étonnement by Les Deux Garçons, taxidermy, mixed media, 2010, 50 x 50 x 40 cm – click to enlarge

On show: Nov 12 – 27, 2011

Address: Jaski, Nieuwe Spiegelstraat 29, 1017 DB Amsterdam, The Netherlands, tel: 020-6203939, email: info@jaski.nl

Hours: Mon – Sun: 12 – 6 PM

Preview

WurzelForum discussion

Margaretha Dubach’s Mice Museum at Naturhistorisches Museum, Bern

by Suzanne on November 18th, 2011


Peek into a scene of Margaretha Dubach‘s Mice Museum, photo by Andi Teuscher – click to enlarge

I’m not sure how many of you remember my appeal to save the beloved Mice Museum that I posted back in March this year.

Well, good news is it’s been saved. And that means all of Margaretha Dubach‘s original 22 display cabinets with taxidermied and skeletal mice telling the story of Otto Maus – who happens to be Hieronymouse‘s cousin – and the phantasmagoria and nightmares he encounters after being chased away for stealing pudding.


Peek into a scene of Margaretha Dubach‘s Mice Museum, photo by Christian D. Link – click to enlarge

The mice are now in the capable paws of Christian D. Link and the little furry friends are currently on show at Naturhistorisches Museum in Bern, Switzerland, where they will remain on display until January 2012 – I will try to drop by with Hieronymouse himself early next year. He does miss his Emmentaler. And his family.

Details below. For a little video overview (in German) of the original Mice Museum click here.


Peek into a scene of Margaretha Dubach‘s Mice Museum, photo by Franz Rindlisbacher – click to enlarge

On show: Nov 9, 2011 – Jan 29, 2012

Address: Naturhistorisches Museum, Bernastrasse 15, CH-3005 Bern, Switzerland, email: contact@nmbe.ch, tel. +41 31 350 71 11 | Map

Hours: Mon: 2 – 5 PM, Tue – Fri: 9 AM – 5 PM, Sat – Sun: 10 AM – 5 PM

Press release

Artist’s website

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.”

Weekend Special: Most Accurate Depiction of the Future

by Suzanne on November 6th, 2011

By cyriak - it’s the newest piece by the genius behind Baaa - and via Mario Kaoru Mevy. Thank you!

P.S. The next Best of YouTube is still in preparation. Sorry it’s been so long!

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

by Suzanne on November 4th, 2011


Jorogumo by Ryo Arai – click to enlarge

This is an exhibition announcement for a brand new gallery space London, i.e. myself, has been waiting for: ICN Gallery has officially set foot in Leonard Street to FINALLY bring some much needed japanophilia to East London’s art scene and will therefore from now on be my first automatic stop to check out in town – just like the always yummy sushi counter at the Japan Centre.

Essence of Edo-Tokyo presents the works of Ryo Arai & ITARO – both are showing to a London audience for the very first time.


Ubume (detail) by Ryo Arai – click to enlarge

You can tell I’m particularly enamored with Ryo Arai‘s papier-mâché yokai and I cannot wait to see his works in person. The images featured here are all from his Yokai Hariko series but from what I can see in the press release, only the top sculpture, Jorogumo, will be exhibited – together with other recent oeuvres by him.

The press release states very correctly:

“Utilizing techniques from Edo karakuri, transom sculpture, netsuke and noh theatre mask making, his transcendent techniques makes it hard for the viewer to believe that his work is actually made out of paper.”

Oh, and did I mention ICN also has a café specializing in Japanese tea?! Details below.


Mouryou (detail) by Ryo Arai – click to enlarge

On show: Oct 27 – Nov 19, 2011

Address: ICN, 96-98 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4RH, UK, tel: 020 7729 7977, email: info@icn-global.com

Hours: Mon – Sun: 12 – 7 PM

Press release

WurzelForum discussion