Art Archive

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    They have a day for everything now, spurious PR-driven celebrations like National Soft Cheese Day. But some of them are actually quite interesting, particularly when creatively-minded institutions get involved, and these videos by the Tate Britain for National Poetry Day kick bandwagon-jumping to the kerb in some style. The gallery invited three poets to react to some of the work in its collection and create works inspired by it; so we are treated to Scroobius Pip on the Chapman brothers, George the Poet on photographer Paul Graham and John Hegley on a CRW Nevinson painting called The Arrival which has a particularly personal resonance for him.

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    We came across Alex Chinneck a few years back when he was smashing windows of an old factory so that each pane of glass cracked in exactly the same way. Brilliant. Now he’s up to no good again in Margate, where he’s taken an abandoned house and slid the entire front off it. No big deal. As you’ll see from this video, Alex is the perfect combination of creative, slightly mad and very friendly, making the project a joy for himself and the locals alike. More photos of "From the Knees of my Nose to the Belly of my Toes can be found over here on his site.

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    The hipsters like to think they discovered everything. Brooklyn, beards, Berlin; all co-opted into the cause with scant regard for their past, simply championed for the role they play in their Flat-White dreams. But a new show just opened in London reminds us that Berlin has felt like the centre of a countercultural world before, as realised by the artist George Grosz.

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    It’s hard to process just how good this collaborative project between painter Elizabeth Peyton and joy-bringing publishing house Nieves is. Peyton has carved out a very comfortable niche for herself in the art world, with stark, romantic paintings of iconic figures of pop culture. Her works suggest late nights, frank discussions and hedonistic lifestyles of the kind of people that have fantastic dance moves and record collections as big as their drinking habits. Cool people. So with her work plus a generous spoonful of sincere loveliness on Nieves’ part, this publication is pretty much the best thing you can get your hands on in the world today. The book, entitled The Age of Innocence is a homage to Edith Wharton’s novel of the same name, and a reminder that whatever era you reside in there will always be love, and kissing.

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    It’s common knowledge that in Iran attitudes towards women are largely defined by very traditional Islamic codes, but it’s not often you stop to think about how this really impacts on everyday life. This excellent new work by artist Mr. Toledano brings the far-reaching ramifications of this cultural conservatism to life in an unexpected way. He has sourced packaging from Iran which has had female figures inked out so as not to offend moral probity. By then decontextualising these oddly erased female forms, Mr. Toledano creates what he calls “A portrait not of a person, but of absence. Of suppression. A portrait of a point of view.”
 He adds: “The censor, a person whose function is to erase, becomes the person who makes us see.”

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    Amanda Greenberg is something of a rare gem. Residing and working in Brooklyn, NY, she creates digitally refined pencil and ink drawings which seem to resist being pinned down to any clear category. Executed in black on white and peaches and cream pastel shades, the characters she conceives are as original as they are beguiling. Repeated in series to create whole crowds of cool-looking girls, or clad in ethereal leaves and deep in thought – this is desktop screensaver candy if ever I saw it! We caught up with Amanda to talk about autumn in New York, balcony gardens and to find out how she goes about her working day.

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    It’s pleasant to escape to a pencilled world of meadows and willow trees when you’re in an office all day, which is probably why Dukhoon Gim’s images appeal so much to us. Rather than a showcase of skill and dedication with no real idea behind it – which so often hyper-real art can be – Dukhoon’s images have these weird little touches to them that tempt you to lean in even further. A bit like the girl in the painting in The Witches, there are tiny characters lost in these drawings, added on as if afterthoughts, that beckon to you to come and join them on their inflatable whale, or whatever it is they’re playing with. Don’t mind if I do.

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    It doesn’t matter how creative you might be – every now and again the sheer monotony of the daily slog can drag you into a little grey pit of dullness and boredom. You can’t help it, it’s just how it goes. Peaks and troughs, right?

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    If you tend to find yourself drawn to the bright, the colourful and the ever so slightly obscure then artist Michael Swaney is definitely one to add to your bookmarks bar. His own very unique brand of painting treads the fine line between the familiar and the strange, with brightly coloured faces, mouse people, beautiful mosaic-like pottery and a whole heap of thumbs pointed skywards.

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    There’s something fascinating about artwork which transcends its own medium to masquerade as another, and artist Mathilde Roussel has perfected the mastery of making paper look like anything but. Using graphite (lots of it) and a well-loved scalpel, Mathilde transforms large pieces of paper into what appears to be rubber, causing them to behave almost like organic forms draped over walls. Appropriately, then, and instead of being exhibited in frames, the final pieces are then hung from hooks and left to fall naturally. Droopy ears, abandoned socks, butterfly chrysalises – they look like any number of things, but paper is certainly not one of them.

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    The lovely Nathalie du Pasquier (I say that like I know her, though tragically I don’t) has just released a new book through Nieves, collecting together a selection of her still life paintings made between 2001 and 2012. The aptly-titled Square Paintings demonstrates beyond reasonable doubt why so many people revere this magnificent woman; she founded Memphis, one of the most respected collectives of its day, then sacked it off to have an equally successful career in painting. There\s not many out there who can boast the same.

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    There’s space for the strange, the absurd and the surreal on It’s Nice That, so we couldn’t help but nod our assent when faced with the incredible miniature photography of (brilliantly-named) Alber Napoleon Wildner. Alber’s model making is eye-wateringly accurate – every image is created using 1:100 scale diorama models which he builds himself and then photographed with unbelievable precision to simulate domestic and urban environments. These images, from a series entitled The Infinite Green of Paper Lawns, address the daily crossovers which occur between reality and the glamorous fiction of Hollywood film scripts.

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    “Childhood is a place I long to return – a place of safety and comfort, where I exist happy; careless; fearless; unencumbered by adult experience.” Through her explorations of fear, loss and the unknown, shown through her wistful sculptures, artist Alex Simpson leaves us in limbo, uncertain whether we are taken by her works’ complete beauty or haunted by the ominous air that cloaks it. Yet it is hard not to be drawn in by their delicacy, the sculpture’s sunken eyes and curious features luring us into a menacing world where creatures of nightmares exist.

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    It was London Design Festival last week and so creative stores city-wide joined in the excitement; perhaps none more so than Darkroom. The design accessories store launched a season of products based on the work of Italian architect and designer Ettore Sottsass using themes he introduced during his time with the legendary Memphis group.

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    “When I draw people in profile, it’s like sitting down to a favourite meal” writer and illustrator Leanne Shapton says. Her drawings, paintings and prints are infused with so much happiness and affection, leafing through them is like eating the meal and then sitting back with a hot chocolate, shortbread on the side, smiling to yourself. Her new book Sunday Night Movies is filled with beautifully painted profiles, two-shot, capturing those romantic eye-gazing moments between couples in films – a collection of so much beauty.

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    As someone who spent all of their formative years in the city of Oxford, I feel that Radiohead are much more than just a band. They’re part of my history, my childhood and the childhood of pretty much everyone I grew up with. They are my band. Back off! As a result I’ve always been pretty keen on the artistic products of their honorary sixth member, Stanley Donwood, who, from his Somerset studio has produced the artwork for almost every Radiohead release, developing his own visual language as the band developed their sound.

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    Inspired by the testing task of piecing together archaeological remains within a museum context, Matthew Craven’s new exhibition Oblivious Path has a fun time of recreating the opaqueness which its title suggests. The works included in the show are collages composed of drawings, relics, and images from lost cultures, and to see them gathered together in a collective seems to recreate the sensation one has when walking around a haughty museum with impenetrable captions. The pieces are all there – it’s just the act of placing them in a comprehensible order which proves tricky.

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    Dan Singer burst fresh from the seams of Kingston’s Illustration and Animation BA in May, and he has wasted no time about getting his work into the world. He’s currently relying on friends with comfy sofas and goodwill to keep him away from his hometown Kent, so we were all the more chuffed when he popped in last week to show us what he’s been up to.

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    Reminiscent of those dreams that leave you feeling discombobulated Swedish artist Camilla Engman’s paintings are eery, slightly haunting yet so beautiful that you can’t help but want to spend time in front of them. Perhaps it is her neutral pastille palette or the greys and mustard yellows; or maybe it is the animals or the curious situations she creates where people walk through empty swimming pools or humans walk as animals, masked on all fours, they are fascinating.

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    We were calling out to London-based creatives last week about the Cutty Cargo Showcase, an utterly unique evening of multi-disciplinary creative treats, from music, theatre and light installations to food, art and design. So now that the event has been and gone leaving an enormous crate-shaped absence in east London where the revelry took place, we thought it was only fair to show you exactly what went on.

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    “Public murals often serve to reinforce a sense of unity amongst groups of people by celebrating the heritage of a place and the diversity of its residents” artist Ruth Angel Edwards explained as she presented her vast painting Life in a Peaceful New World where seven people stand, squat, hold buckets and work staple guns, saws and cement. They are strong and colourful, their faces animated by emotion woven into the canvas by a mastered palette. They are a collective.

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    There’s nothing like a photographer with an instantly recognisable style for a dose of mid-week inspiration, and Czech Republic-based photographer Michal Pudelka has just that. His very beautiful, almost eerily perfect shots have more than a hint of Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides about them, with their subjects dressed in matching outfits and posed in girlband-esque stances – look too long and you get the impression that he might have dumped a whole bottle of irony in with the developing fluid in his darkroom.

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    Artist Daniel Ginns is fresh out of a degree in illustration at Camberwell, but as it turns out he’s a dab hand with a camera too. His series Rothko Walls records the walls in and around London which used to boast graffiti, and now display only the “free-floating geometric shapes” which remain after it has been badly concealed by a halfhearted paint-job. The new layer of paint is often “only a slightly different shade of colour from that of the original wall,” he explains, “creating imagery that could be considered reminiscent of the abstract expressionist painter Mark Rothko.”

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    Every year by dint of their size and the publicity machines behind them certain LDF projects get more attention than others. But to really appreciate the festival in all its glory, it make sense to seek out some of the hidden gems which always help make LDF what it is. So today we are looking at a show inspired by abandoned shoes, one which celebrates London in graphic novels and a Mexico/London-inspired exhibition form the award-winning Bethan Laura Wood.

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    It’s only been a few months since we last talked about the work of the wonderful Oliver Jeffers. And, well, we couldn’t resist it. He’s back again. This time with an exhibition at Lazarides Rathbone art gallery, London showing off his fantastic collecting of surreal paintings. Slipping reality they play with dreamscapes, matching traditionally painted 18th century landscapes with sinking skyscrapers and aeroplanes as great boats tip over cascading waterfalls; or portraits dipped, frame included, losing half of the image as other paintings appear to have been played with, faces blotted out by recklessly applied paint. Teasing the delicate balance that is the everyday, Jeffers paintings hold onto their mystery and we cannot wait to see where else they might take us.

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    Some parts of the world (I’m looking at you, Norway) don’t get much sun in the winter time. Some get none at all. It may come as surprise but some of the inhabitants of the darker parts of the world have actually immigrated as refugees from hot countries that are drenched in sunlight day after day. Norwegian artists Lisa Pacini and Christine Istad decided to work on a collaborative project to bring the sun to the places and the people that saw so little of it.

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    Ryan McGinness is a New York-based artist who creates enormous, intricate, kaleidoscopic images and similarly detailed three-dimensional sculptures from hundreds of individual elements, largely inspired by graphic artwork, public signage and contemporary iconography.

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    And so the London Design Festival rolls around for another ten days celebrating and showcasing the city’s design pedigree in various ways. The event has its detractors but rather than sniping from the sidelines it makes sense to put some time and effort in to discover the best bits of what – because of its size – offers something for everyone.

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    “Art as investment” is one of my absolute least favourite phrases and the media’s breathless coverage of multi million pound auctions similarly sticks in my craw (good phrase that). The counterpoint to this fetishisation of art’s financial worth comes in the form of Herb and Dorothy Vogel. A retired postman and librarian respectively, the couple amassed the most extraordinary collection of contemporary work and their story was told in a 2008 documentary by director Megumi Sasaki (see trailer below).

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    Usually any mention of food in that dangerous final hour between breakfast and lunch is strictly forbidden in the studio for fear of rousing rumbling stomachs, but when it comes to Jeffrey Dell we’re more than happy to make an exception. The artist is still on about cake, as he was last time we checked out his work, but we’re happy to turn a blind eye to our hunger to admire his sweetly frosted creations, as Jeffrey’s deft touch with a printing press means every image he puts his super-skilled hand to comes out laden with beautiful and tricky colour gradients, precise edges and impressive compositions.

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    With the unfurling discussion surrounding the USA’s place in the world in relation to events in Syria, the time is ripe for a coruscating exploration of contemporary American culture and society. Few artists working today are more adept at such an exploration as the mercurial Eric Yahnker, whose work jabs, laughs at, questions, ridicules and satirically mythologises the Land of the Free.

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    There are times when the colours used within an image make it difficult to resist (something like what those Skittles adverts do to our child-like brains), and artists who are able to create this effect successfully, capturing the tone of an environment simply through the representative colour palette, are often hard to come by.

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    For one day only I would like to see what life looks like through illustrator Keith Warren Greiman’s eyes. It would undoubtedly be a colourful experience, filled with people and maybe some animals, both doing supernatural things that seem everyday because everything is, well, animated. His explanation? Humans are “conduits of the gritty, vibrant energy that propels our day to day living.” So it is no wonder really that his illustrations, prints, drawing and paintings are as toxically hued as they are, seeing surfaces split into mazes of manic encounters between people, boldly coloured with bright lips and fluorescent hair. It is everyday life but Keith presents it with that giddy feeling you get sometimes, often passed off as déjà vu,; that feeling that you are seeing the experience as you are living it.

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    In a celebration of creative collaboration, whisky brand The Famous Grouse is embarking on an exciting and innovative sculpture project.

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    The strength of ceramic work which has been gracing It’s Nice That recently has been bowling us over on the regular, and the recent emergence of Ruth Borgenicht proves again that the magical spring providing us with all of these clay-minded creatives has yet to run dry.

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    A year and a month ago almost to the day we featured the artist Morgan Blair whose paintings ran circles around us in the post-Olympic slump that was August 2012. Her work saw bold pastel shaded brickwork vibrate on the page followed by manic cascades of technicolour shapes tumbling over themselves. It was noisy, kaleidoscopic, trapping us in a background reminiscent of a 1990s, 16-bit era computer game.

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    Gregory Gallant, aka Seth, has an almost mythical status in the minds of comic book aficionados. The Canadian cartoonist has been creating comic books since well before I started eating school dinners, and his strong and very recognisable style harks back to the illustration of years gone by. He’s best known for the excellent series Palookaville and his mock-autobiographical graphic novel It’s a Good Life, If You Don’t Weaken which is the focus of the new exhibition at New York’s Adam Baumgold Gallery.

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    Los Angeles-based artist Laura Owens is something of a celebrity in her home town. She was one of the youngest artists ever to have a solo show at LA’s Museum of Contemporary Art in 2003 and has since been involved in a number of community driven art projects that her large-scale paintings have facilitated – she’s used her painting studio as a gallery space and performance and exhibition centre for all sorts of interesting collaborations.

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    If his artwork is anything to go by, Shan Hur was a true champion of hide and seek as a child. The Korean-born, London-based sculptor specialises in the partial and illusory deconstruction of gallery spaces, be it a twisted column, a hole in the wall or a broken pillar, in which he often conceals unexpected items of treasure. A porcelain vase for example or a handful of coins stuck in the cement of a crumbling wall, or even a basketball in the centre of a pillar. Taking his inspiration from closed shops and construction sites, his work directly confronts the confines of a gallery space and the viewer as participant to create brilliantly stalling work which questions what we know even as it sits in front of our very eyes.

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    Unsure where to pop that pin you’ve just pulled out of your newly repaired hem? Well do not fret, friend, Eleonor Boström has designed a ceramic dog with a pin cushion for a head which will be suitably equipped to meet all your pinning needs. Not a sentence I ever predicted I’d write, but I’ll embrace it with open arms because not only has Eleonor designed tiny ceramic pups for fans of needlework, but also as salt and pepper shakers, and peeking out over the rims of teacups, and with eggcup pots for heads. And other less functional kinds which are just as lovely.