Tuesday, 10 May 2016

Swedish Folklore by Kari-Lise Alexander \\ Curated

In my work I spend a large portion of my time researching artists, so when one sticks out to me it's become pretty significant in my mind. I've recently starting making sure I pin artwork that does this as there's been so many times I've tried to relook for a piece and kicked myself because I can't find them again! I'm been thinking so much about my blog and the career I want to develop in the arts and how I would love to streamline them together. One of my favourite parts is meeting artists and helping them get exposure and hopefully opportunities down the line. As such it seems silly to keep cataloging all these inspiring pieces and doing nothing about them. So after being motivated by people like the Jealous Curator and Graphique Fantastique I aim for my blog to become a hub of creativity and a chance to promote the work of others (alongside my occasional lifestyle posts!). 

While there are many artists who's work I enjoy I really wanted to only share those I feel a connection with. After much thought and researching through my pinterest catalogue, I decided to start with the work of Kari-Lise Alexander. I first encountered her work through the series she created for a solo exhibition at the Modern Eden Gallery in San Francisco, California entitled A Lovelorn Theft in 2015 and was captivated by the rich, deep colour palette and delicate portrayal of fabric. 

It takes a great deal of skill to emulate the delicate wisp of silk or finely netted chiffons through art; her paintings remind me of the sculptural work of Italian artist Raffaelo Monti. The use of a veil gives a sense of ethereal elevation and purity, connecting with the symbolism of marriage or spiritual dedication. Yet she draws in an element of sensual beauty, captivating the female form with elegance. The secluded environments her subjects are depicted in however suggest a private moment, connecting her back to nature. Highlighting once again the purity of the human form. 

I have always felt drawn to the use of darker and richer tones in oil painting. It has brought a layer of classicism into Alexander's work and a sense of luxury, comparable to the feeling of a dark office filled with mahogany furniture, oozing with opulence. However her work in no way comes across as pretentious, for me it is a delicate balance that communicates a whole range of emotive energy.

While researching for this post I found that her great influences are her heritage and her home, exploring folklore and surrealism. After looking through her earlier work, most notably 2012-2013. I saw elements of Swedish culture, especially her use of the Dalahäst horse. Having been fortunate enough to visit both Sweden and Denmark back in 2013 I fell in love with so much of the Scandinavian lifestyle and architecture. 

Much of her earlier work holds a greater illustrative and brighter quality, acting as a stark contrast to her current practice. Yet many of the core themes hold true throughout and the journey of progression really is an interesting one. It is wonderful to watch artists develop and explore their styles and use of mediums.

If you would like to see more of Alexander's work:

*All images remain property of the artist

Thursday, 5 May 2016

Utopias of the Street

During my last trip to Somerset House I saw a promotion for an upcoming exhibition; a beautiful photographic piece of a field with a burst of pink dust exploding in the air. Hoping to see actual colour dust explosions I was keen to go! And while there were sadly none of this on my visit, it was an incredible show. Bernard and I actually attended on our wedding anniversary. Both in love with the architecture and grandeur of the venue, it was an easy choice. Initially however I was surprised by how small the show was and it took us a while to find it. 

Walking in we were greeted by a wall of high visibility jackets with unusual statements on the back. After a few minutes a gallery attendant came and offered us some from a basket to wear. We became part of the art. Utopian Security. It added such a fun, interactive element. Although a tourist got a shock when she asked how much they cost and was told £50! Relatively cheap for art, but she probably saw it as a gift shop novelty. 

We found booklets on the show and were treated to PR statements on each artist and their work. This made the show for us. I love understanding the context of art and why it was created. It became so immersive and entertaining; finding our favourites and discussing the ideology. Each piece was so unique, brought together by the concept of unsanctioned public art. Creating our own utopias within our geographic and societal bounds. 

The artist above, Mike Ballard, explored the industrial markings of utility companies. Something he refers to as 'Urban Hieroglyphics' Considering how these functional markings can become artwork in and of themselves; it is the "freedom and naivety of the marks" that hold such an appeal for him. "These marks or codes indicate the presence of underground networks, a subterranean matrix that drives and maintained modern life." they are "unintentional abstract gestures that form part of the everyday visual language of the city." (The Hard Margin | 2015 | oil, spray paint and chewing gum on linen) I was shocked when I realised it was painted on linen! I was honestly convinced that they had hung a slab of concrete. 

This piece by Eltono while at first appeared as a illustrative doodle, was accompanied by a video of the artist walking across Somerset House's inner courtyard. Which at first didn't seem to correlate, then after reading the text we discovered that it was a game. But only known to him. He had a line drawn around the outside of the courtyard on which he had to walk. If a member of the public waking in the courtyard overstepped this line, he had to quickly walk to the exact spot. "Exploring new ways of moving in the public space". But if someone else broke the barrier, he had to quickly change direction and head towards their entry point. It was so funny. You can imagine the childlike eagerness in his mind urging him on quickly quickly quickly before someone else walked across! The drawings show his routes and offer us the opportunity to reenact his work, but honesty I would just want to play the game anew! (Footpaths 1, 2, 3, 4 | 2016 | ink on paper and Footpath Documentation | video | 2016)

The piece above by artist Nano4814(ES) was my favourite throughout the show (possibly tied with the high vis jackets!); a stark contrast with the theme of Utopia this piece stood out as a true presentation of the street. A dark and dreary underpass. The faint rainbow and dripping paint almost humorous. A well known place of teenage hangout, darkness, graffiti and at times danger has become a symbol of hope and vibrancy.   

"Mixing popular imagery with wildly outlandish motifs, Nano4814's strangely discomforting and surreal aesthetic ventures beyond the everyday in quite overt terms. For Venturing Beyond he has produced a classically Utopian image, the Rainbow. For Nano however, this trope has numerous potential significations: it can act as a "door, a bridge, a pathway" leading one to different space or different times, yet equally represents the "calm before the storm". It can act as an idealistic representation of the colour spectrum ("only this time in reserve"), but also relates to his obsession with art as a burden, art as a curse." (Untitled | 2016 | Acrylic on wall)

The show is officially titled Venturing Beyond: Graffiti and the Everyday Utopias, the first installation of a four exhibitions and a wide range of talks and events across 2016. Utopia: A Year of Imagination and Possibility.

"In a literal sense, graffiti compels its practitioners to ‘venture beyond’ spatial and architectural boundaries, but also metaphorically provokes them to ‘venture beyond’ conceptual frontiers, to form new ways of thinking, acting and being in the world. Graffiti ornaments the city in resplendent colour and brings art out into the open, an art which belongs to all of us. It simultaneously reveals an aesthetic and social practice which anyone is welcome to join.

Above all, graffiti and street art acts as an alternative voice, whether it is loud and brazen or more subtle and difficult to decipher, which strives to challenge the well-worn systems of society – something which Thomas More’s seminal text also set out. All of the artists will uniquely interpret their ideas on these utopian foundations of graffiti." - Somerset House

Compared with traditional exhibitions of classical and historical work, we could truly relate with this show. So much of it appealed the younger generation and acted as a response to our day to day lives and environment  Making the art accessible and relevant, and frankly far more engaging due to the multiple layers e.g the jackets, the PR books, the theme itself. It was such a success in both of our opinions and I would love to commend those incharge of it. It was fantastic. 

What is your favourite exhibition at the moment?

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

100 Days of Curating | Week 1 | Pastels

100 days of Curating has begun! 

A personal project initiative founded on the 100 Day Project, however rather than creating, I am showcasing and promoting the works of other artists  Each week is based around a theme or style and I curated each piece individually, promoting them on instagram and writing a short analysis or expression of the work. So far the response has been astounding, I have been able to reach so many artists and have even been featured on Erin's art blog coma diary. Who is also taking part in the project by focusing on symmetry, doubles, pairs and twins through photography which can be seen on her instagram

My first week focuses on pastels, drawing inspiration from figurative pieces and realism, to street art. It has been so fascinating bringing in so many seemingly unrelated artists and watching the aesthetic of the 'show' develop. Choosing not only individual pieces but considering how they correlate and work together. Such as the transition from the subdued realist paintings of nostalgic British biscuits from Joël Penkman (who uses actual egg in her painting technique! ...egg tempera) to the work of abstract portrait photographer Rawson Low. 

I am throughly enjoying the process and have sneakily been storing away even more artists to show in the coming weeks. It's wonderful to research artists everyday and learn the techniques and inspirations that drive them. The 'title' of my first week is fairly unimaginable however, when compared with those used in actual gallery exhibitions, so I'm working on that and have a few ideas in the pipelineIf you have any themes or favourite creators, please let me know. Make sure to follow along on my instagram for daily updates!    

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