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    Bookshelf: Joel Speasmaker

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Bookshelf: Joel Speasmaker

Posted by Bryony Quinn,

By investing a majority of his creative lifeblood into print, be it illustration, editions and publishing or art direction, Joel Speasmaker, aka Forest, has built up quite a library of his own. As much for mental stability as aesthetic cleanliness, he categorises his books into their specific fields. These include design theory, philosophy, zines and artists’ books, plus your standard literature. For his selection Joel has pulled out five comics worthy of note from their designated shelves, but he admits: “If you’d ask me on a different day I might have chosen something else entirely…”

The Incal: Classic Collection Moebius and Alexandro Jodorowsky

There’s a reason this is often spoken of as one of the best examples of the [comic] art form, and at the end of last year, Humanoids released a beautiful slipcased hard-cover edition limited to only 750 copies. With a storyline set in a sprawling science fiction universe (written by filmmaker Jodorowsky), The Incal deals with complex themes through a simple, almost moronic character named John DiFool, and a powerful crystal known as the Incal. All of my major doubts in humanity are explored and eventually conquered, while visually articulating feelings and thoughts I frequently have through the unparalleled artwork of Moebius. A standard edition was recently released, and I highly recommend it, along with any English-translated work of Moebius you might be lucky enough to find.
www.amazon.co.uk/incal-classic-collection
www.wikipedia.org/jean-giraud
www.humanoids.com/incal

Garden Yuichi Yokoyama

A characteristic I look for frequently when reading comics is a feeling of place. I want a strong sense of location, of the environment the characters live in and are interacting with. I want a completely fantastic and imaginary world to feel real. Garden is the newest English translation from manga master Yuichi Yokoyama (published by PictureBox), and I can’t think of a better example of this feeling. Hundreds of unnamed characters enter and travel through a garden-like place, speaking to each other in the most matter-of-fact ways (“It is a T intersection. Which way shall we go?”) as they discover new landscapes and even stranger situations. Like most of his comic works, there is a big influence of imaginative architecture (some of the structures the characters encounter are impossible, yet so weirdly familiar), and the stark black and white is utilised to its fullest (though if you are interested in going further, please take a look at Yokoyama’s vividly colored, and equally masterful, paintings).
www.amazon.co.uk/garden
www.pictureboxinc.com/garden

Pamplemoussi Geneviève Castrée

I think this came out almost seven years ago, but it remains one of the most prized items that I own. It’s part 12" LP and part 68-page book, with a wonderful silkscreened cover and delicate and intricate black and white drawings and paintings throughout. Geneviève is so thoughtful and her work embodies this strong sense of purpose — that everything is so important. Not on a scale of better or worse than others, but that there is so much beauty in the creation of anything, and it deserves this much attention when being made. I love that when you see her perform, you venture back to the recording with a huge new appreciation for what was done before, just like when you see her paintings up close, you realise the thought and incredible detail gone into each and return with a whole new perspective of her work.
www.amazon.co.uk/pamplemoussi
www.genevievecastree.com

Buddha, Volumes 1-8 Osama Tezuka

I could choose to share any of the unbelievable amount of volume work that Osama Tezuka created (Black Jack, Dororo, and Apollo’s Song to name a few), but Buddha stands as my favorite. Taking a popular figure in history and translating real ideas into comic form is a difficult task, and instead of doing so in a straight-forward manner, Tezuka wasn’t afraid to both accentuate the story with characters of his own creation nor add a light-hearted and humorous touch (something I appreciate in all of his work). Yet you are still left with a strong feeling of an appealing philosophy, without quite realising how. This is a good thing. Additionally, Tezuka’s traditional “cartoonish” style is so well done and strong, the pacing is perfect, and at times the panels will expand and astonish you with their artistic greatness.
www.amazon.co.uk/buddha
www.tezukainenglish.com

Elvis Road Elvis Studio

At first glance it’s a beautifully designed hard-bound book, but then you open it up and reveal a collaborative drawing that folds out to more than 20 feet long, filled with the amazing work of Helge Reumann and Xavier Robel, otherwise known as Elvis Studio. It’s not necessarily comics, but its beautiful and intriguing and sometimes disturbing. Every time I’ve opened this up I find different scenes I didn’t notice before. I’ve even had the chance to see the original work in its full stretched out glory and still probably haven’t digested half of it. I’m not sure it’s necessary to mention that in my opinion Helge and Xavier are two of the most exciting visual artists alive today, but I will. Unfortunately it’s very difficult to keep up with them in the States, or even on the internet, for that matter. But it’s worth the effort.
Elvis Road
www.adambaumgoldgallery.com/elvis-studio

Portrait9

Posted by Bryony Quinn

Bryony was It’s Nice That’s first ever intern and worked her way up to assistant online editor before moving on to pursue other interests in the summer of 2012.

Most Recent: Art View Archive

  1. Jarvis-cocker-its-nice-that-tlist

    Pulp frontman, solo artist and deep-voiced saviour of Sunday afternoon radio Jarvis Cocker has turned his hand to art, in the form of his Paris exhibition 20 Golden greats. The works on show are “gold records” – fictitious awards that explore the mythology of the artefacts of the same name so often cited in rock biographies. In truth, the accolades have no value whatsoever, according to the gallery showing Jarvis’s work, “not only because they usually aren’t at all made with gold, but moreover because they are generally crafted in a manner at best vaguely artistic, and at worst, perfectly kitsch."

  2. Basquiat_warhol_guggenheim_int_list

    From subway graffitist to art world darling, Jean-Michel Basquiat was perhaps the quintessential New York artist. Before he came to embody that particularly urbane trinity of poetry, jazz and painting, the Brooklyn prodigy was spray painting cryptic messages on Lower Manhattan buildings under the moniker SAMO and selling sweatshirts and postcards emblazoned with his work. Basquiat was one of several graffiti artists to transition to the gallery, but the only one with such a meteoric ascent and with such staying power. By his early twenties he counted Andy Warhol as a friend and collaborator, and his impassioned brand of countercultural painting had completely taken New York by storm.

  3. List-sculpture-in-the-city-its-nice-that-tomoaki-suzuki-'zezi'-courtesy-corvi-mora_-london

    As this week’s public art-themed Nicer Tuesdays reminded us, it’s all too easy to take the masterpieces in full view around the city for granted. And while there’s a plethora of work to see all year round in many cities across the UK, from next week the City of London is placing work by the likes of Damien Hirst, Ai Weiwei and Adam Chodzko around the Square Mile to add a little culture to the landscape of our wolves of Threadneedle Street. This is the fifth year of the programme, Sculpture in the City, and will see a total of 14 works go on show. They will remain in situ until May next year.

  4. List-ai-wei-wei-an-archive-its-nice-that-

    Ai Weiwei has printed five years worth of his many, many tweets onto rice paper to form a new piece called An Archive . The artist has long used Twitter as a platform from which to protest Chinese government oppression, leading to a ban from Chinese Twitter. In an interview with The Creator’s Project, Ai tells how the piece, which is formed of thousands of pieces of printed rice paper, showcases a time when he could use the social network for “discussions and memories of the past, as well as predictions for the future. Twitter was an exercise for the mind and one where you are fully exposed to the public."

  5. Royal_academy_summer_exhibition_poster_list

    I never thought I’d use the word irreverent to describe the Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy. Since 1769 the RA has taken a fairly unwavering and conservative approach to the world’s largest open submission exhibition, hanging up to 1,000 works by both amateur artists and great names. Long the lacklustre foxhole of stuffy Academicians and part-time painters, this year marks the greatest effort the RA has made yet to reinvigorate the English summer stalwart.
     
    It’s no surprise that the man behind the brightest, boldest edition yet is Michael Craig-Martin, this year’s curator and the artist best known for his Pop Art palette and his tutorship of YBA trailblazers Damien Hirst and Sarah Lucas. Among his modernisms for the show is the decision to repaint the three central galleries in colours lifted straight from his work: hot pink, turquoise and baby blue. Far from playing to mere spectacle, Craig-Martin’s trademark penchant for polychrome is a bold statement that does away with both the white cube mis-en-scène of contemporary art and the fusty grandeur of the Academy. Regular attendees might also notice he has made the print galleries more central.

  6. Jim_lambie_zobop_ra_it's_nice_that_list

    For this year’s Summer Exhibition at the Royal Academy, Scottish artist Jim Lambie has transformed the storied art institution’s grand staircase with one of his kaleidoscopic floor installations and shaken up the English cultural calendar highlight. Using hundreds of strips of adhesive vinyl tape, Lambie’s eye-catching floor work follows the architecture of the Academy and is part of his ongoing series Zobop. The 2005 Turner Prize nominee’s slightly riotous, technicolour stairs breathe new life into the neo-classical space, and the optical effect packs huge impact, fittingly leading the way to the boldest, brightest edition of the Summer Exhibition in its nearly 250-year run.

  7. Nina-chanel-abney-its-nice-that-list

    The carnivalesque colours and vibrant busyness caught our eye in Nina Chanel’s work; her attitude and subject matter kept us looking. Nina is based in New Jersey, and uses bright brushstrokes and text to explore issues of race, politics, sex and the strange world of celebrity. How? Through a strange troupe of aliens, strange symbols and rainbow colours. Surrealism plays with pop art and high-brow plays with low-brow in her huge e-number fuelled pieces, which carry a depth belying their initially saccharine appearances.

  8. David-shrigley-football-mascot-its-nice-that-top

    David Shrigley has designed a rather strange mascot for Scottish Premiership football team Partick Thistle. Shrigley – a fan of the team – was appointed to create the little yellow jagged character, named Kingsley, as part of the team’s new sponsorship deal with US investment firm Kingsford Capital. The artist also created the brand mark that will appear on Thistle kits and around its home stadium.

  9. Luis-vasallo-itsnicethat-list

    Life drawing classes are more often than not the conservative preserve of academic art, but Luis Vassallo’s nudes tell a different story. Luis’ series A Life Drawing Class, made as part of a collaboration with Hot and Cool magazine, is a refreshing take on a somewhat strait-laced tradition. Over the course of several weeks the Madrid-based artist transformed the models in front of him into adventurous images that juxtapose the classical with the surreal, mixing and matching a number of drawing styles – often in the same sketch – from hard-edged geometry and soft, rolling forms that alternate between clean pencil lines and those in thick jagged charcoal. Finding inspiration in the Italian avant garde and the 60s revival of figurative art, Luis is clear that his work is less about looking back and more about finding a way to pick up where these 20th Century movements left off. The results are unlike any nudes we’ve seen before.

  10. Jackson-pollock_-number-34-1949-its-nice-that-list

    As one of the most instantly recognisable modern artists and a GCSE art staple, it’s tempting to think there’s little we haven’t seen of Jackson Pollock’s work. A new exhibition at Tate Liverpool, however, proves us wrong. The exhibition, entitled Blind Spots, is the first in more than 30 years to show his late black pouring works. Some we’ll know, many we won’t, but all prove – if proof were needed – what an important, inspirational figure Pollock was. He managed to bring tricky concepts of Abstract Expressionism into the minds of a far wider audience than the art world inner circle, and his works are surely some of the most oft-seen, yet never tiresome artworks of the last century.

  11. Matthew_craven_demiurge_it's_nice_that_list

    Matthew Craven’s dizzying mix of ink patterns, cut-outs and ancient culture is as powerful as it is studied. We’ve written about the New York artist’s vivid collages before, and in his most recent series demiURGE, Matthew pairs both tribal and Greek sculpture with his hand-drawn designs and recurring motifs. His images play with materials as much as they play with time, and with their lost relics and archeological curiosities it’s as if Matthew has picked through old history textbooks and back issues of National Geographic for the mystic effect that makes his work so instantly recognisable. Pairing busts, masks, vases and classical bric-a-brac with optical patterns, Matthew’s collages always prove greater than the sum of their parts.

  12. Richard_prince_new_portraits_it's_nice_that_list

    Richard Prince’s New Portraits have proven to be nothing short of sensational. The artist’s controversial series has seen him take other people’s Instagram posts, print them on six-foot canvases and sell them for up to $90,000. The only changes made to these images of everyone from Pamela Anderson to total unknowns are the bewildering or lewd remarks Prince adds to the comments thread. As of last Friday, ten of these new works are on show at Gagosian London. “The iPhone became my studio,” Prince says somewhere in the seven-page stream of consciousness that makes up the press release.

    For the last 40 years the New York artist has inspired everything from acclaim to outrage for the unapologetic appropriation that has defined much of his work. As the man who reprinted copies of JD Salinger’s classic teenage anthem Catcher in the Rye with his own name in place of the author’s, Prince has found himself on the wrong side of copyright lawsuits multiple times. Resulting opinions of him tend to violently swing between genius and good-for-nothing. In the case of the New Portraits series, Peter Schjeldahl writing for the New Yorker’s response to the screenshot-cum-paintings was “something like a wish to be dead,” whilst sex writer Karley Sciortino has said she felt honoured to be included in the series.

    In an unexpected but fitting turn, people seemed to feel slightly vindicated when some of Prince’s unauthorised Instagram reproductions were recently reproduced and resold by some of their original subjects, namely the LA-based group of alternative pin-up girls and burlesque dancers operating under the moniker SuicideGirls. “Payback!” headlines screamed, but this ceaseless loop of feedback and mirroring perfectly plays to Prince’s raison d’être. Even this is not the artist’s own, and in his ideas about enshrining banality and popular culture he is most definitely walking in Warhol’s slightly worn-out silver shoes.

    Mining the internet for source material is not new either, but as abhorrent as they may be, Prince’s portraits eloquently teach a powerful lesson in the trappings of social networking. They test public and private limits and have started an important and much-needed conversation about copyright and art in the digital age. They have also been sharp reminders that our self-exposure and digital exhibitionism doesn’t exist in the vacuums of our various feeds, but very much enters into public territory.

    The most absurd part in all of this postmodernist pageantry however, happened during my exchange with Gagosian’s PR when I asked for press images and was told, “I’m afraid that we don’t have permission to use any images of any individual works.” Irony is a beautiful, twisted thing.

  13. 9.koons_tulipanes-itsnicethat-list

    There’s been a lot of conversation in the studio recently about art exhibitions that beg to be photographed, and they don’t come much more Instagrammable than the Jeff Koons retrospective. Having started out at New York’s Whitney Museum and then progressing to Paris’ Centre Pompidou, the show has just begun the final leg of its journey at the Guggenheim in Bilbao, where we attended the opening last week; to take a selfie with the balloon dog, among other things.