Art Archive

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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.

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    As much as the sculptures of the time insinuate, the average man hanging round the forum in 500 BC didn’t necessarily have rippling quads, a laurel wreath and an angry God hot on his trail. This is perhaps why Tom Price’s sculptures of men he sees hanging around South London ring so true. In these beautiful sculptures of men, toned abs are replaced with beer bellies, divine movements swapped with bored slouching and catapults with mobile phones.

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    What better way to spend your Friday than on Rafaël Rozendaal’s latest creation, Fill This Up. Rafaël is one of the very few people that uses the World Wide Web productively, and he spends his time making websites for us proles to click around open-mouthed like those pigs those scientists convinced to play basic computer games. His latest venture sees him turn the boring browser into a canvas upon which we can drag our cursor around to make pastel shapes unfold like origami in quick succession. Drag to fill the page, click to reverse it back to white. Just like a lot of Rafaël’s work, this is simple, alluring and strangely brilliant.

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    Guy Yanai is a young Israeli artist doing super interesting things with oil on canvas. There’s a strong dash of Hockney in his work, which reconfigures poolsides and tropical landscapes with abstract forms in vibrant, summery strokes, and frankly in the deep dingy grey of January we don’t have a bad word to utter against them.

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    For a man with only 20 paintings and eight drawings surviving as testament to his talents, Hieronymous Bosch has had a phenomenal influence over the world of fine art. Looking back on his works today it’s almost unthinkable that the Dutch painter produced his masterpieces over half a millennium ago – his canvases are so rich both in technical detail and narrative vision. But Bosch predates the Renaissance pioneers upon whom western culture has lavished extraordinary reverence and arguably outshines with the violent brilliance of his imagination.

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    I remember the sense of pomp and circumstance by which the arrival of the full set of Encyclopedia Britannica’s was greeted in our house. In the innocent pre Wikipedia age, if you wanted to know what the capital of Djibouti was or whether lemurs were nocturnal you turned to the relevant EB entry and found out; all much more satisfying than its contemporary equivalent. When the makers of this rich resource announced they were to stop publishing it after 244 years, book artist Guy Laramée (who we last featured two years ago) went to work. Adieu is his tribute to this remarkable publication; using all 24 volumes he has created a landscape that ranges from lush mountains to grassy prairies. In both scope and imagination this is a fitting homage to a publishing institution. By the way it;s Dijibouti City and some types of lemurs are nocturnal, but not all.

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    Since we first covered Atelier Bingo back in July I’ve been following them more or less constantly on Instagram, tracking the development of their hand-built studio and the evolution of their screen printing skills. They’ve been nothing short of prolific in the last few months, turning their renovated space into a hive of activity, setting up an online shop, exhibiting in Korea, creating posters for German music venues, brushing up on their ceramic skills and churning out stunning screen prints as though their lives depended on it. We REALLY hope they’ll keep it up.

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    German artist Katharina Grosse has an obsession with scale. She told as much when we spoke to her for the autumn issue of Printed Pages magazine, an interview in which she revealed she goes surfing in New Zealand every year to reset her own sense of her place against the infinite natural scale. All this puts her latest project in a Brooklyn Park into perspective (in every sense of the word). Just Two Of Us is a series of massive multi-coloured sculptures which have taken over the MetroTech Commons plaza, looking like the architectural remains of a post-punk psychedelic society. It’s bright, bold and inescapably interactive; three things Katharina does as well as any artist we can think of.

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    If you find yourself passing London’s Blackfriars Bridge anytime soon, take a second glance at the house at number 20; artist Alex Chinneck has turned an 18th Century livery upside down. Quite literally. Following on from his incredible From the Knees of my Nose to the Belly of my Toes earlier this year, the artist has created Miners on the Moon as the finale to Merge Festival 2013. Using signage recovered from a reclamation yard he has transformed the building, which was erected in 1780 and originally used as a livery stables housing horses and carriages. Cool, huh?

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    Yayoi Kusama is one of a kind. Her signature polka dots have become widely recognised across the world, gracing trees, Louis Vuitton bags, mannequins and buildings alike, and seeing her rise to success in New York, France and her native Japan in the process. And yet, her entire oeuvre and all of the books she written were created from the confines of psychiatric hospital which she voluntarily submitted herself to in 1977, and has lived in ever since.

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    Interesting how adding an imminent UFO attack to a picture can ramp up the excitement and cool factor up to 11. These images by Paula Lopez Vallejo (or Paulova) we found on Art Nau are her take on vintage rug designs and are a window into an apocalyptic future where aliens sweep the skies as wild horses gallop across the earth. This project is a continuation from her 2011 Damas de Primavera where she used the same technique focusing only on women throughout the ages. We don’t know exactly how Paulova makes these images, but we appreciate their kitsch charm immensely on this cold morning.