Art Archive

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    Beyoncé commands a level of awe and respect unlike almost any other prominent cultural figure, but in Hattie Stewart’s world nobody gets a free pass. And so for her first UK solo show opening next week at Brighton’s No Walls Gallery, the iconic blue Gentlewoman cover featuring the superstar comes in for Hattie’s trademark doodle-bombing (although it appears slightly more respectful than the treatment meted out to some other cover stars by her pen).

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    In the same way that you spend your days wishing your favourite band will bring their new album out, me and the other Geoff McFetridge fans spend our days subconsciously crossing our fingers for a batch of new work. Well, here it is, and guess what? It’s glorious. You’ve probably been reading about Geoff’s work for the designs featured in Spike Jonze’s Her of late, but that’s not all he’s been beavering away at. As of tomorrow, Geoff’s new paintings are on show at V1 Gallery in Copenhagen in a show entitled Meditallucination – a term coined by Geoff himself. He told us a bit more about the concept behind this new body of work.

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    It’s fair to say that we’re drawn to the weirder end of the architecture spectrum (giraffes sticking out of buildings and the like) so when I came across this installation in the grounds of the Portuguese presidential museum, my boat was well and truly floated. Super serious architecture, maybe not, but these red arches look for all the world like Microsoft Paint squiggles over photographs and that for me can only be a plus.

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    It’s 20 years now since London’s Royal College of Art launched its annual anonymous postcard exhibition and this year’s show features an astonishing 2,900 offerings. Alongside the work of current students and faculty members plus recent graduates there are postcards from the likes of Milton Glaser, Grayson Perry, Jarvis Cocker, Paul Smith and Zaha Hadid.

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    Ever-intriguing Dutch duo Lernert & Sander are masters at taking what is fundamentally a simple idea and turning it into something both beguiling and beautiful. So it is with their latest work for the Kiki Niesten store in Maastricht, for whom they have deconstructed garments from the likes of Prada and Céline. And by “deconstructed” I don’t mean in some clever-clever theoretical or abstract way; they have literally turned these knitted items back in balls of wool, or “symbols of hope and aspiration” as they put it. It’s to mark the city’s TEFAF art fair, and we’d wager there’s few better projects on offer at this year’s event. Enjoy the photos and then watch the video; there’s something soothing about watching these high-end garments being returned to their natural state.

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    Just when you thought you had grown out of felt tips, here comes RCA grad Phil Goss cycling down the canal to get you intimately reacquainted with them. His work, which dances between printmaking and observational drawing, is a colourful, naive and slightly wonky look at the world around us. One of his works entitled Teapot is a fantastic drawing of a silver teapot with his own personal, wobbly self portrait reflected in it. It’s funny because a lot of his work feels like looking into a shiny teapot – things are distorted, but funny, and generally better. Check out the rest of this mysterious work – including some wallpaper he has made – over on his site.

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    Dutch illustrator/designer/artist Louis Reith produces work with a multimedia focus. His portfolio is equally full of sculptural pieces, mixed media collage and more traditional inks on paper – he can pretty much turn his hand to everything. Whether he’s reimagining photgraphs as geometric landscapes or fashioning old maps into 3D mountain ranges the one thing that ties all of his work together is the reapropriation of found objects into a single artistic vision; every single piece crafted from a second-hand book, an antiquated map or even a flea-market photo album.

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    Twice over the past two years Swiss artist Fabian Oefner has blown our minds; first with his amazing watercolour and ferrofluid photographs and then with his uber-pleasing images made by spinning rods of paint. But let’s make that three out of three, because his latest work Aurora has left our jaws similarly dropped.

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    Artists Larry Sultan and Mike Mandel were subverting traditional ideas of how art could function in a public space long before Banksy’s time. The pair began their groundbreaking Billboards project in 1973, creating huge open-ended designs in their workshop under the name Clatworthy Colourvues, and pasting them up on advertising billboards around the San Francisco area. From a cartoon image of a hurricane captioned “Ooh la la!” in reference to French nuclear testing in the Pacific, to sinister alphabet fridge magnets spelling out “Whose news abuses you?” the images they created added an absurd diversion to the California landscape, and revolutionised the role of art in the public environment.

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    Californian artist and illustrator Jon Han makes work that’s unlike anything else we’ve seen. though his practice is predominantly grounded in painting, he regularly brings digital elements into the mix that pull otherwise traditional illustration into the here and now – slicing and dicing with Photoshop. This strangely anachronistic approach to illustration lends itself beautifully to the documentation of the present day, in which we’re stuck between a hyper-technological future and the practices of the past, meaning Jon’s regularly commissioned by the likes of The New York Times, The New Yorker, Plan Sponsor and Businessweek for his on-point observations. We really can’t think of a better person to document our strange daily lives.

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    These days most letters sent to me come directly from a company demanding my hard-earned pennies so I tend not to even glance at the envelopes before thrusting them (considerately) into the recycling bin. It’s not behaviour I’m proud of, and it’s certainly not behaviour Stephen Sollins would be proud of; his new projects takes paper envelopes otherwise doomed to live out their days at the bottom of a pile and makes them into gorgeous traditional quilts.

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    It was only recently we were singing the praises of Tate’s video content in the form of Horrors’ frontman Faris Badwan’s tour of the Paul Klee exhibition. Clearly though this was no fluke, Tate appear to be an institution which has taken to the world of online film like a Monet to water(lillies). Their Unlock Art series (with Le Méridien hotels) is a case in point; short introductions to the ideas and movements which have shaped the art world. The themes range from the nude in art to performance, Pop Art to purchasing and they are each fronted by a famous face (like comedian Sally Phillips or Peter Capaldi, aka Dr Who).

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    Malin Gabriella Nordin is a Swedish artist who creates colourful, sculptural works of art which, rather than skirting unconventionality, embrace childlike playfulness with arms wide open. So much so in fact that she invited a group of children to interpret her ambiguously-shaped sculptures, adding to her collection with their own drawings and giving her their thoughts on what she had made.

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    There was a furore in London recently about some children climbing on a Donald Judd sculpture at Tate Modern (it “horrified” art lovers according to this not-at-all melodramatic journalist). Brilliant Austrian collective Numen/For Use have no truck with such quibbles though their artworks are designed to be clambered on, sat in and generally explored in the most fun ways imaginable.

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    It’s the unwritten rule of all films about animals that there MUST be a heartwarming scene where the friendly bear/whale/okapi comes back to the family after having been set free into the wild. That’s kind of how we feel when we see our Graduates of yesteryear, and this week we were treated to a visit by the brilliant Pat Bradbury. We never need an excuse to immerse ourselves in Pat’s slightly bonkers work, and from celebrity-based personal work to a poster for a Papa New Guinean late-night dancehall bar, Pat’s portfolio continues to delight us on every level. Run free Pat, we’ll always have the memories…

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    When it comes to mural painting there’s no image too big or too daunting for Stephen Powers to broach; giant Post-It notes splayed across several stories, roller-coasters, stair-sets climbing the entire length of buildings. His work adorns structures all over the world, and always with an unrelenting palette of vibrant colours, strong type and joyous messages, making it immediately recognisable whether or not you know his name.

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    Any exhibition that has even a trace of Hockney’s work in it is enough for most of us at It’s Nice That to be running down there in an instant, so hearing that London’s Dulwich Picture Gallery was opening a show of Hockney’s printed work was almost too exciting for our little brains to bear.

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    “My first question was how can we curve light,” Matt Clark of United Visual Artists says standing in the studio’s new installation at London’s Barbican. Momentum – which opens today – consists of “12 pendulums that activate light and sound as they swing” but that doesn’t come close to explaining the brilliant experience it provides.

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    You may have seen the mindbogglingly great work of Barcelona-based Penique productions before; it’s the nature of the blogosphere that things come round weeks, months or even years after they first pique the design world’s interest. But that does not mean work as good as this doesn’t deserve some love from us, because quite simply this is splendid.

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    Not since July 2011 have we checked in with French illustrator Paul Loubet and his playful, multi-layered illustration. Thankfully he’s still producing sensational images that combine neon colour palettes, platform-game aesthetics and characters rendered like futuristic punks. He’s also added a new strand to his work; big, bold paintings that reference 1980s hair-metal album covers and all the best bits of glam rock. It’s pretty weird but we bloody love it!

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    I know what you’re thinking. “Well now you come to mention it, Elizabeth Taylor does look a little bit like Ariel in The Little Mermaid, doesn’t she?” She does! And Michael Jackson looks a bit like Simba! And Brigitte Bardot like Snow White! We can’t take the credit for this revolutionary realisation – Portuguese artist Rui Pinho is the one responsible for bringing the matter to our attention with this funny series of portraits aligning icons with their animated lookalikes. Rui might not be the first person in the creative stratosphere to come to such a conclusion, but it’s Friday! And if Buzz Lightyear doesn’t coax a titter from you today then, frankly, nothing will.

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    This week we realised that it’s been forever since we featured an artist who makes nipples and bacon out of latex, silcone and oil paint, and decided that it’s high time we rectify such a gross oversight.

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    Oh how convenient, just when you needed a little serotonin boost, BAM! Here come Merijn with some updates of his constantly mind-blowing work. As well as being of the highest and most unique quality, Merijn’s work is also pleasingly varied, making his portfolio a fizzing, glowing party bag of astonishing draughtsmanship. Personally I thought I’d never see anything better than his wood sculptures but I think these twiddly hand-drawn letterforms have taken over for now. That and his saucy MAOAM-esque Soup illustration above which, I think you’ll agree, is perfect.

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    If some people’s minds would manifest themselves as perfectly placid Zen-like spaces (think an up-market provincial spa) I think mine is better represented by Dominique Pétrin. The Montreal-based multidisciplinary artist is interested in “producing altered states of conscience and perception, be it through cognitive or visual illusions, or, for her performances, (through) the use of hypnosis.” The amazing spaces she creates are full of jarring colours, optical illusions and anthropomorphic turds which combine to incredible effect. Even looking at them online you start to feel like you might be hallucinating – is that burger really talking to me? – so I can only imagine how trippy it must be to spend some time there.

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    Archigram was an avant-garde architectural group and magazine formed in the 1960s which sought to stop modernist ideas becoming safe and sterile. Its members continuously pushed the boundaries of their practice in fun and unusual directions, and did so by working only on hypothetical projects; things that would or could never be. The group’s ideas were also the starting point for this blisteringly good piece by Universal Everything. Matt Pyke and his team were inspired by the “utopian visions” of the Archigram adherents, and so created Walking City, a seven-and-a-half-minute video study of modernistic evolution.

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    If there’s one thing that Parisian designers Ill-Studio know better than anything else it’s 90s pop culture. The pair seem to base their entire practice around FILA leisurewear, contemporary cartoons, any number of pairs of AirMax and that horrendous DVD logo that haunted us through the early years of films on disc.

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    There was a time when my appreciation of computer trickery extended no further than making my old PC say my mum’s name when she entered the room (take that Jane!). But that was then, and now we are all far more savvy to the fact that there are creatives out there able to do jaw-dropping things armed with a keyboard and a screen. Chris Labrooy is certainly one such talent, as proved yet again by his new series Auto Aerobics. The weird contortions of cars he’s seamlessly stitched together on what appears to be a New York playground not only reflect Chris’ insane abilities with 3D generation, but are also lovely images in their own right.

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    Rodan Kane Hart is a South African artist and graduate of the Michaelis School of Art in Cape Town. Having only received his bachelors degree in 2011 he’s got a pretty impressive body of sculptures to his name already that broadly deal with the colonial origins of modern South Africa. Though I’d struggle to say that I appreciate the fine details of the concepts behind his practise, I’m incredibly impressed by his use of materials; the balance of industrial and natural substances and the interplay he creates between geometric forms and landscape. Definitely one to watch.

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    Someone farted all the way through the speech given by the Hayward’s curator about the opening of Martin Creed’s What’s the Point of It? to a crowd of journalists. It took a while for everyone to realise that these fart noises were coming from behind us, and it was actually an audio element in Creed’s show.

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    To be totally honest, I didn’t expect to enjoy this film when I started watching it. There’s a long and inglorious tradition of “celebrities” being shoehorned into seemingly random contexts to the point it all starts to resemble an Alan Partridge programme pitch (“Youth Hostelling With Chris Eubank”). But as it turned out I was engrossed for the full four minutes of The Horrors frontman Faris Badwan showing us around Tate Modern’s Paul Klee exhibition. Firstly because Faris studied illustration at Central Saint Martins in the early 2000s and speaks with passion and intelligence about Klee’s work. And secondly the film links to his own artistic endeavours, so we aren’t just told that Klee influenced his pictures but are actually shown how.

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    Tal R is an artist usually recognisable for his vibrant use of colour. He’s built his reputation on packing every degree of the spectrum into a single canvas. So long-term fans might be surprised to discover that his latest book, The Moon , is much more chromatically restrained than usual, printed in muted blues and reds. Don’t worry though, inside you’ll find that Tal’s sense of mischief is still very much intact, the characters within engaging in all sorts of lewd acts and deviant behaviour. They’re all smiling too, so what’s not to enjoy?

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    Sometimes there’s a perfect confluence of creative person and project; a delicious coming-together of right moment and right time for all concerned. Such was the case when Dave Sedgwick of Manchester’s curated outdoor art space Print & Paste was chatting to Liam Hopkins of the Lost Heritage agency.

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    At times we are all guilty of being in thrall to bright colours. That’s no criticism; our brains seem to be hardwired to find them uplifting, and on first glance it was precisely this that drew me to Erin O’Keefe’s latest work. But I was excited to discover the heavyweight conceptual ideas that underpin these gorgeous visuals; eye-candy schm-eye candy!

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    We’ve become accustomed to German publisher Lubok Verlag producing beautifully crafted lino-cut books by a selection of relatively obscure international artists. It’s for this output that we’ve grown to love them; the laborious volumes of print, offering a sense of depth and discovery while simultaneously being aesthetically delightful.

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    Just in case your day was unravelling a bit joylessly, here’s some funny, whimsical artwork to give it a little boost of happiness, like the dash of Ribena in your glass of water, or the spoonful of jam in your porridge. Kirsten Sims is an artist, designer and illustrator from Stellenbosch, South Africa, whose funny images are more or less guaranteed to brighten your day.

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    Ryan Travis Christian first cropped up on the site way, way back when we used to run guest posts at the recommendation of Ann Toebbe. Crazily we’ve never followed up with him since, which is strange because we’re genuinely intoxicated by his extraordinary charcoal drawings that fuse the natural world with Disney faces, paranoia and pop culture and middle-American suburbia with a whole heap of really weird shit. We love it, and we love the fact that there’s someone out there using a medium as traditional and marginalised as charcoal to create something utterly surreal. Anyway, here’s some work from his last show that took place last year; it’s pretty astounding.

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    Polina Soloveichik has such a cool job. In her words “Someone approaches me with a wall or I find a location that is begging for a painting, and then I transform it.” Originally hailing from Russia, Polina is new to Berlin but has already made her mark (literally) all over the city. Despite describing it as a “cold Paradise,” Polina absolutely loves her new home, even more so now she is using her painting skills to create enormous murals all over it. In this nicely-shot film we learn about the life of a mural painter from the first sketches to the magnificent final outcome. I don’t know about you, but I had never even considered that could actually be a job. Turns out it is, and we’re all super-jealous.

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    Artist and designer Taylor Holland enjoys visual trickery. His Frames project used Photoshop’s Content Aware tool to fill in frames of pictures hung in the Louvre and prior to that the Paris-based creative documented the weird and wonderful tour bus graphics he saw in his hometown. His latest project Vector Fields is a series of interactive websites which “explore what happens when the boundaries of sport are manipulated through play.”

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    Pretty hard not to want to peer inside a book of cartoons that “reference both philosophy (Descartes, Hegel, Nietzsche, Schopenhauer) and pop culture (Conan the Barbarian, Peanuts, Suicidal Tendencies.)” One of our favourite artists James Jarvis is back with an absolute whopper of a comic, presented to the world by publishing heroes, Nieves. This 380 page book contains 365 drawings by James, made daily in 2012. Follow his know well-known characters as they grapple with everyday life and contemplate life’s meanings as they skateboard around the place. A must-read for anyone whose life has a Calvin and Hobbes-shaped hole that needs filling.

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    Walead Beshty describes himself a photographer, though his practice is almost unrecognisable as such. Though he often manually develops rolls of film he has no interest in creating images in the traditional sense. Instead his work concerns itself with the relationship of the medium to the world at large and its development through political and social phenomena – the catalyst for which was the destruction of a selection of films during his passage through airport security post 9/11. As a result Walead often works with processes that mirror photography, beginning with a blank medium and allowing a variety of chance circumstances to shape the appearance of the final image.