Art Archive

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    Like hyper-real paintings or 3D printed sculptures, it’s easy to hear the words “biro art” and feel like shrugging and wandering off to look at literally anything else instead. In this case, I think we can let it slide, as Kevin Lucbert has blown our presumptuous minds apart with his work this morning. That specific Bic colour of blue used in all of his work reminds you of exams or filling in forms, so when it’s used to portray doorways into parallel universes, suburban streets with a mystical glimmer or a white-robed being strolling through an enchanted nay dangerous forest, it’s something of a breath of fresh air. His ideas aside, Kevin is also a spectacular draughtsman with a diploma from the National School of Decorative Arts in Paris and in his spare time he “realises drawings for the French Press.” What a guy.

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    It’s almost exactly a year since we last revelled in the brilliance of Swiss artist Zimoun who explores sound and movement through his ambitious installations. Seeing as his prodigious work-rate matches his creative talents, it was no great surprise to see that he’s populated his portfolio with a host of terrific new projects in just 11 months. Personally my pick of the bunch are the churning waves of plastic packaging chips for the Lugano art museum and the amazing sea of crinkled brown paper for the Orbital Garden in Bern, but everywhere you look there are intriguing studies in the physical forces which usually go unnoticed.

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    Romping through some fellow creative blogs recently I was stopped in my tracks over on But does it float? by the mindbending geometric paintings of Johnny Abrahams. Information about the New York-based artist is sparse on his own website but a little bit of digging uncovered an artist statement in which Johnny talks about making the viewer the subject of his work.

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    Carlos Jimenez is a Spanish photographer and filmmaker living and working in London who caught our attention last year for his work on Nobrow’s promotional film for ELCAF 2013. It provided a slick overview of a massive, messy event and displayed some extremely nice editing flourishes. But Carlos’ most recent project is an altogether more refined proposition. Commissioned by the V&A to produce a film about the renovation of their plaster courts, Carlos has produced a slow, sweeping piece of cinema that glorifies some extraordinary works of Renaissance art including some rare close-ups of Michelangelo’s David. There’s also interviews with a few key players in the V&A’s conservation and curatorial teams who give a real sense of the important work they’re involved in.

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    In 2011 San Franciscan artist Tauba Auerbach held a solo show at the Bergen Kunsthall in Norway that cemented her reputation as a fine artist with heavyweight conceptual clout as well as being a maker of extraordinarily beautiful objects. Tetrachromat suggested that there was a fourth colour spectrum only perceptible to women and Tauba created a selection of objects that experimented with this theory – including vast books printed with rainbow gradients that are still some of the most beautiful objects I’ve ever laid eyes on.

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    It was just over a year ago that we stumbled across the goldmine that is Jim’ll Paint It, like a drunk peasant staggering into a turnip field. Since then we have watched with delight as his fame spread like wildfire (lots of rural similes in this post aren’t there?) and social media championed his brilliance again and again.

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    There are only so many times a parent can use the “having a pet is hard work” line before they cave in to the beseeching eyes (or screaming mouth) of their young child – that’s when they resort to a goldfish and so ensues the tragic flushing of hundreds of goldfish all over the world. It’s an epidemic, but we’ve found the perfect solution: Keng Lye.

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    We reviewed the Jean Paul Gaultier show that everyone’s talking on the site earlier today, and mentioned the astonishing amount of contributors to his career. As well as photographers, stylists, make-up artists, wig-makers and seemingly the entire population of London, Jean Paul had a selection of people who, over the years, inspired him to make some of his most well-known pieces of work. For the show, curator Thierry-Maxime Loriot had a brainwave and decided to commission artist Annie Kevans to create portraits of each of Jean Paul’s most iconic muses, from Boy George and Amy Winehouse to Kate Moss and David Bowie.

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    I’ve always liked mind games. Not the passive aggressive sort, or anything along the lines of “treat ‘em mean, keep ‘em keen,” but the kind that involves optical illusions, something that forces you to think a little bit. They range from the simple – two vases that are also two faces – to the more intricate such as the never-ending staircase in M. C. Escher’s Ascending and Descending, but Kyung Woo Han has taken it to a whole new level.

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    Sometimes advertisements are the best thing in the world – and by sometimes I mean when you need the loo during the finale episode of Game of Thrones – but most of the time they’re just a bit of a pain. While most of us grin and bear it, French street artist Etienne Lavie decided to take action, and see what the streets of Paris would look like without them.

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    “There are three types of artist,” Thierry Noir tells me, “difficult, very difficult and impossible.” Which one is he? “I do not want to know.” The unassuming French artist is in London for the opening of his first ever solo show at the Howard Griffin Gallery in Shoreditch, and has been working flat out for two weeks to get everything finished. As well as 15 large canvases which are going on display (alongside rarely seen photographs and films), Thierry has been busy painting various walls around east London and likes the combination of gallery and al fresco work; street painting he says gives him “a different type of energy.” It’s fair to say that Thierry Noir has some experience in this.

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    This Thursday sees the launch of Suspended, a debut solo show by Chloe Early at The Outsiders London. The works on display are Chloe’s response to the “romantic splendour of Renaissance religious art” and an exploration of “the themes of weightlessness and gravity.” Her paintings feature realistically rendered human figures, lifted above the ground by unseen forces or large clusters of helium balloons. Chloe contends that we no longer have objects of worship within fine art, and so her images serve as celestial totems of real-world figures elevated above the mundane.

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    To say that Geoffrey Lillemon is an unusual character doesn’t really do him justice. The Dutch/American artist/designer produces work that’s about as bizarre as you’re likely to see. His website is a surreal, pornographic maze of disfigured characters and disturbing sounds that evoke the very basest curiosities and desires with macabre delight. In his own words, “Lillemon has consistently foregrounded the interplay between the digital and physical world in his work, blending traditional mediums (sic) with modern vfx capabilities to craft new worlds and fantasies.”

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    Body-paint remains something of an overlooked form in the art and illustration worlds – too many great-seeming-but-actually-very-difficult-to-execute ideas have gone awry in the wrong hands. Janine Rewell, however, appears to have the right ones. She already has a stack of fantastic illustration work under her belt, and her most recent project with Finnish shoe designer Minna Parikka has seen her apply all of this skill to the art of body-painting.

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    It doesn’t happen that often, but occasionally we come across a creative talent who is tremendously familiar to us but who for some baffling reason we have never celebrated on the site. So it is with French illustrator and character designer Geneviève Gauckler, whose work has cropped up in group shows but who has never been feted in her own right – until now. Ciitng the title sequence of Flipper as one of her major inspirations, Geneviève creates characters that snap, crackle and pop with vibrancy and personality, leaping off the print or magazine cover to frolic in the farthest reaches of your imagination.

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    Sadly our flights back to London from Dublin’s OFFSET conference last weekend meant we missed the last few speakers on the Sunday schedule, but our colleague Karl Toomey was there and waxed lyrical about the work of Jeff Greenspan. Closer inspection revealed Karl’s excitement was justified, as Jeff boasts the kind of playfully creative mind of which we can’t get enough.

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    Nothing fails to warm my cockles and get the loose change in my wallet dancing about to be spent quite like Record Store Day. If the whole festival wasn’t good enough, Secret 7" is in their third year of bringing together a holy union of artists and musicians and have just announced some big-name creatives who have contributed artwork for this exciting project.

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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.