Spreading fear and mayhem in the visual arts.

Archive for June, 2011

Atsushi Suwa at Gallery Naruyama, Tokyo

by Suzanne on June 9th, 2011

Stereotype 08 by Atsushi Suwa, oil on canvas, 2008 - click to enlarge

Atsushi Suwa 's solo show To Live or to Die, We Share the Same Fate will be opening tonight at Tokyo's Gallery Naruyama.

A technically absolutely brilliant artist who makes it seem totally effortless to cram a trompe-l'oeil with the entire mirror perspective of Jan van Eyck's Arnolfini Portrait into a small camera lens (below), he has shown time and again that he cannot simply be reduced to realism - despite his obvious and vast talent for it.

By Atsushi Suwa - click to enlarge

His intimate collaboration with the famous and awe-inspiring butoh dancer Kazuo Ohno or his documentary Father series show a very deep emotional involvement with the subject, a desire to dissect traumata and fears, to look mercilessly at the fabric and tissue of life. And death.

I'm not entirely sure what will be presented at the exhibition, but I'm pretty certain it's near impossible for Atsushi Suwa to disappoint. Details below.

By Atsushi Suwa

On show: Jun 9 - Jul 9, 2011

Address: Gallery Naruyama, #205 Matsuoka Kudan Bldg. 2-2-8 Kudan Minami, Chiyoda-Ku, Tokyo 102-0074 Japan, tel: +81 (0)3 3264-4871, email: info@gallery-naruyama.com | Map

Gallery hours: Daily: 1 - 7 PM, except Wed & Sun

Press release

Artist's website

David Hochbaum at Strychnin, Berlin... and Tetris Dreams

by Suzanne on June 8th, 2011

In a night filled with some of the most psychotic dreams ever - including a trained toad that would get me sweets from vending machines, walking barefoot over a bridge made of snakes, meeting the bored 1940s secretary who accidentally invented the D-beat - Sigur Ros launched a RL tetris with me at the controllers where everyone got squashed to death because I'm so damn good at tetris.

As a player inside the RL tetris you were given a choice between 3 pills without knowing what they were: A black one to die immediately without having to endure the agony of being squashed by the giant pieces, a blue one to not feel any pain and a green one to send in one of your friends instead.

I hope you can understand that a) I will keep today's posts short and b) I need help.

Return by David Hochbaum, gelatin silver print and mixed media - click to enlarge

Berlin's amazing Strychnin Gallery is presenting a solo show with new works by multimedia artist David Hochbaum entitled Kaidan Shu - Tales of Mist & Wind.

Normally not a great fan of layered mixed media photographs, I was very impressed by David's new body of work as it possess a great poetic quality and the distinct facial features, vibrant colours and bold Muromachi-inspired brushstrokes make you almost forget that you're actually face to face with the yōkai.

Strychnin says:

"The exhibition is part of the 150th anniversary of Japanese-German friendship and mindful of recent events, Strychnin Gallery at the request of the artist will be donating a percentage of all sales to further relief efforts in Japan."


The show opens this Friday and if you're in Berlin, I suggest you go and have a look.

Consumption by David Hochbaum, gelatin silver print and mixed media - click to enlarge

Opening reception: Friday, Jun 10, 2011, 7 PM onwards

On show: Jun 10 - Jul 10, 2011

Address: STRYCHNIN Gallery, Boxhagenerstr. 36, 10245 Berlin, Germany, tel: +49 30 9700 2035

Gallery hours: Thu - Sun: 12 - 6 PM

Presale link

Artist's website

England's Illustrated Police News: Fun, murder & mummified nuns for the whole family!

by Suzanne on June 7th, 2011

From the Illustrated Police News - click to enlarge

I first stumbled upon the absolutely hilarious one-penny weekly that was the Illustrated Police News (first published in 1864, publication ended just before WWII) in the British Library (sadly no free access to the documents) and recently posted about "The Girl Eaten By Rats".

From the Illustrated Police News - click to enlarge

From the Illustrated Police News - click to enlarge (slightly)

I was delighted to find a feature article about the IPN in ForteanTimes and it immediately reignited my love for the publication and once again confirmed my suspicion that i) L-Town hasn't changed in the slightest and ii) the IPN was basically a Victorian version of the Hackney Gazette with headlines being very similar in nature (I must admit that as horrible and unjournalistic the latter is, it really does brighten up my days in the (North) East End).

From the Illustrated Police News - click to enlarge

From the Illustrated Police News - click to enlarge

From ForteanTimes:

"George Purkess [the proprietor] defended his IPN artists, who he thought were as good as those working for any rival journal, including the Illustrated London News and the Graphic. He had half a dozen artists on his staff in London, and occasionally employed 70 or more freelance artists in all parts of the country. Whenever a high-profile crime was committed, Purkess was able to dispatch one of his artists to the scene. Several times, he claimed, criminals depicted in the IPN had written back to offer their compliments on their excellent likenesses in the paper."

From the Illustrated Police News - click to enlarge

The feature stories presented here are from around 1885 to 1900, i.e. the time the IPN experienced a huge surge in popularity due to the Jack the Ripper murders of 1888, with the following recurring themes: Evil children, rats/cats/dogs eating people, skeletons and nuns. Oh, and skeleton nuns. Some of my favourite things.

I do apologise for the small size of the bottom three images that cannot be enlarged and would welcome anyone who knows a database for the IPN with better/bigger pictures to come forward. Thank you. x

From the Illustrated Police News

From the Illustrated Police News

From the Illustrated Police News

Neo Rauch at Museum Frieder Burda, Baden-Baden, Germany

by Suzanne on June 7th, 2011

Interview by Neo Rauch, oil on canvas, 2006, Museum Frieder Burda, Photo: Uwe Walter © VG Bild-Kunst - click to enlarge

Baden-Baden's Museum Frieder Burda is currently presenting the oeuvre of New Leipzig School's Neo Rauch on the epic scale it deserves with some 36 works from the past two decades on show.

Amongst them, two of my favourites: Interview from 2006 (above) and Die Fuge from 2007 (below).

Interview reminds me a lot of indoor/outdoor scenes from Veiko Õunpuu's brilliant The Temptation of St. Tony (particularly the pitch-black night outside the posh modernist house surrounded by no other light pollution, indeed no other signs of civilisation).

Have the guests had too much to drink, are they hypnotised, the subjects of a ritual, just having their pulses felt or are they dead? Whatever happened, it's an unnerving scene and the fact that the pose on the left is somewhat reminiscent of a pietà doesn't really make things any easier. It seems that Rauch, in an almost anti-Gregory Crewdson manner, uses bolder colours and more obvious intra-pictorial light sources the more obscure and enigmatic the narrative is and one thing is for certain: I would really like that sculpture in the background with the pink eels/penes on it. À propos, this is by far not the only Rauch that shows slightly objectophile tendencies.

If one looks more closely at the title of the piece, 2006 was a time when Rauch's works started to fetch enormous prices at auctions and he was interviewed by every art magazine in this solar system so one could suspect it to be a criticism on the draining nature his sudden stardom, the omnipresence of journalists had on his life as an artist with the two lifeless men representing the two sides of Rauch, the artist (right) and the "public person Rauch" (left).

Die Fuge by Neo Rauch, oil on canvas, 2007, Hamburger Kunsthalle, Photo: Uwe Walter © VG Bild-Kunst - click to enlarge

In Die Fuge, adolescents are floating in an anti-gravitational state while firefighters seem overpowered by a huge crevasse that opened in the earth from which a somewhat symbiotic person with a trunk for a lower body and a chain emerges. A figure sits forlorn and apathetic in a plastic chair his legs rather Goethesque looking. Again, Rauch deliberately adds breaks, indeed huge sinkholes to the visual narrative and linear logic and lets the semiconscious and the archaic reign at will.

To be perfectly honest with you, I think absorbing 36 Rauchs would give me a bit of a brain tumour, but you have until mid-September to see the show so do take your time.

In related news, I agree that it's a great shame Rauch isn't teaching anymore, but I think it's pretty clear that this man needs to paint.

Details below.

On show: May 28 - Sep 18, 2011

Address: Museum Frieder Burda, Lichtentaler Allee 8b, D-76530 Baden-Baden, Germany, tel: +49 (0)7221 / 3 98 98-0 | Map

Admission: 10 €

Gallery hours: Tue - Sun: 10 AM - 6 PM

Press release

Jan Czerwinski at Sam Scherrer, Zurich

by Suzanne on June 5th, 2011

Dämmerung by Jan Czerwinski, oil on canvas, 2010 - click to enlarge

Not too sure how the blurry mountainous wintry backgrounds add anything to the new works of Jan Czerwinski apart from a weird floatiness and a strange sunset glow (... and maybe that's actually enough?), when he can do so much more technically brilliant and darker work like the example below from 2003, but I think we had enough art ranting from yours truly for today so instead I'll just recommend you his Cranial Mountains exhibition if you're in Zurich.

Over and out.

Natura Morta (Widder) by Jan Czerwinski, oil on canvas, 2003 - click to enlarge

On show: Jun 2 - Jul 2, 2011

Address: Sam Scherrer Contemporary, Kleinstrasse 16, 8008 Zürich, tel: +41 044 260 44 33

Gallery hours: Wed - Fri: 2 - 6 PM, Sat: 12 - 4 PM, or by appointment

Flyer | Press release & preview

Polly Morgan at Workshop Arte Contemporanea, Venice, Italy

by Suzanne on June 5th, 2011

Systemic Inflammation by Polly Morgan, taxidermy canaries, steel, leather, 2010 - click to enlarge

In the past year or so, Polly Morgan has shown a great degree of innovation and adaptation in a genre that doesn't always bring out the best in people (and animals!), see Etsy and eBay.

Despite my criticism of her work in earlier years, I have to admit there are only a few taxidermy artists who have managed to successfully and aesthetically merge the sculptural (Black/Blue Fever, below) with the decorative (Systemic Inflammation, top, and Departures) with the humorous (Receiver), with the bittersweet (To Every Seed, bottom, and Vestige) with the... uhmm... well... stuffed.

Black Fever (left) and Blue Fever (right) by Polly Morgan, taxidermy crow/pigeon wings, wood, wire, 2010 - click to enlarge

Maybe releasing editioned Still Birth taxidermy sculptures was not the brightest thing to do and will definitely infuriate many, but all I can say is that I've been following her work over the years and went to many of her exhibitions and she really did learn how to enchant, amaze and startle (admittedly without reinventing the wheel) and I have hardly seen works of a more olfactory pleasing manner. Seriously.

Her Psychopomps show at Haunch of Venison made that clear even to the haters, I believe.

Besides, her etching of Blue Fever is just glorious and for an edition of 50 actually cheaper than lots of shit street art prints in this city. Just sayin'.

So maybe I'm getting mellow, but I'm putting the hate aside for once.

Just for once.

To Every Seed His Own Body (right) by Polly Morgan, 2006 - click to enlarge

AAAAANYWAAAAAYS, Polly is currently showing new works at Workshop in Venice, Italy - not really at the Biennale, but I guess the timing is pretty obvious. All details below.

On show: Jun 3 - Jul 22, 2011

Address: Workshop Arte Contemporanea, Dorsoduro, 2793/A, 30123 Venice, Italy, tel: +39 041 099 0156, email: info@workshopvenice.com | Map

Press release

Artist's website

Polly Morgan's monograph

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

Barnaby Whitfield at Gallery Poulsen, Copenhagen

by Suzanne on June 4th, 2011

Little Deaths All The Same (the artist as an expiring Red Winged Blackbird) by Barnaby Whitfield, pastel on paper, 2011 - click to enlarge

Barnaby Whitfield - the uncrowned king of waxy luminosity and great pastel maestro of blue-greyish cholera skin tones - is currently exhibiting new works at Gallery Poulsen's Before Summer group show in Copenhagen.

I've always been particularly fond of his self-portraits as he's got such unique and charismatic features, so I do envy you Danish folks for getting a chance to see Little Deaths All The Same (above) in person - not just for the troubled waters in the background that would make a Théodore Géricault go green with envy.

I'm not sure That Wretched Glow (below) will be on show, so it's just to give you an idea of what else Barnaby has been working on this year.

All details below.

That Wretched Glow by Barnaby Whitfield, pastel on paper, 2011 - click to enlarge

On show: May 27 - Jun 11, 2011

Address: Gallery Poulsen Contemporary Fine Arts, Flæsketorvet 24, Den hvide Kødby, 1711 København V., Denmark, tel: +45 4015 5588 / +45 3333 9396, email: info@gallerypoulsen.com

Gallery hours: Tue - Fri: 12 - 5.30 PM, Sat: 11 AM - 3 PM, or by appointment

Press release

Artist's website

Claude Cahun at Jeu de Paume, Paris

by Suzanne on June 1st, 2011

Self-portrait by Claude Cahun - click to enlarge

A highly politically engaged artist throughout her life, it's great to see that Claude Cahun (née Lucy Renée Mathilde Schwob) finally gets the recognition she has always deserved from her homeland - both as a surrealist photographer and very brave Jewish woman breaking sexual, social and religious taboos and stereotypes decades before they were addressed.

Self-portrait by Claude Cahun - click to enlarge

Arrested and sentenced to death and six years in prison for treason - it is rumoured that Cahun asked whether the execution or the jail term would come first - a year before the end of the 2nd world war (the death sentence wasn't carried out but it's assumed that Cahun was tortured in prison as she never fully recovered from her time in captivity), she made the ultimate sacrifice for her resistance, her determination, her bravery. Today she rests buried with her partner Suzanne Malherbe (a.k.a. Marcel Moore) in Jersey.

Self-portrait by Claude Cahun - click to enlarge

Now, after sixteen years of no major retrospective efforts, Jeu de Paume in Paris has finally brought together a stunning selection of her oeuvre - including a lot of rarities that have never been exhibited before.

The exhibition opened a week ago and will remain on show until the end of September. Highly recommended.

All details below.

Self-portrait by Claude Cahun - click to enlarge

On show: May 24 - Sep 25, 2011

Address: Jeu de Paume, 1 place de la Concorde, 75008 Paris, France, tel: 01 47 03 12 50

Gallery hours: Tue: 12 - 9 PM, Wed - Fri: 12 - 7 PM, Sat - Sun: 10 AM - 7 PM

Admission: €8,50

Preview | Press release

"Exam" group show at Transition Gallery, London

by Suzanne on June 1st, 2011

Temporal by Boo Saville, white ink on paper, 2009 - click to enlarge

I must admit that even though I once lived only a few blocks away from Transition Gallery, I have never actually made it down there as the directions sound a bit like a not-so-subtle self-kidnapping attempt and/or a scene from Tony:

"From Bethnal Green tube station walk up Cambridge Heath Road towards Hackney and turn left along Andrews Road on the north side of the canal. Regent Studios is on your right (behind the metal gates) just before you reach the bridge across the canal and Broadway Market. Transition is on the 2nd Floor."

The Obstacle by Alex Ball, oil on linen, 2010 - click to enlarge

Anyway, seeing that they're currently holding a great group show featuring such talented young artists as Alex Ball, Adam Dix, Julie Cockburn and Boo Saville, I might have to set foot on E8 postcode territory once again (DON'T TELL ANYONE IN N16 OR I'LL BE SHANKED!).

I'm particularly enchanted by Boo Saville - yup, you guessed it, Jenny Saville's baby sister - and her very topographically textured skulls, and Alex Ball's tumorous Obstacle (above) has been a great new discovery - so I think this could be interesting.

From the press release:

"Exam. is a study of externalised anti-social existentialism. An exhibition of art, which operates outside of, or discusses accepted communal norms and customs. Unorthodox relationships, death and superstition, sociological confusion, and stereotypes are exposed through the media of painting, sculpture, collage and print. If society is collaborative then these artists are practicing in isolation. Their intent: to bring themes of unrest, obsession and morbidity to the fore."

Details below.

© Boo Saville - click to enlarge

On show: May 28 - Jun 19, 2011

Address: Transition Gallery, Unit 25a (second floor), Regent Studios, 8 Andrews Road, London E8 4QN, United Kingdom, tel: 020 7254 4202 / 07941 208566

Gallery hours: Fri - Sun: 12 - 6 PM

Press release