Exhibition Archive

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    If the overarching relationship between art and design is sometimes a complex one, the relationship between particular art movements and design can be equally problematic. How do designers respond to cultural movements rooted in a certain time and place? How are these movements affected when designers co-opt its visual language for their own ends? At what point do these designs become part of the art movement?

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    Our pal Kristian Hammerstad of Printed Pages Autumn 2013 cover fame (also of killer zombie, mutant ape-man illustration fame prior to the former lofty accolade) has just had himself a solo show in his native Oslo. Positronics features original drawings and hand-pulled screen prints by the Norwegian master-illustrator, predominantly focussing on his obsession with all things robotic. There’s an automaton considering his human skeleton in the mirror, a sandwich of entwined wires and glasses full of oil and bolts – the perfect refreshment for Kristian’s mechanical friends. All are pieces produced in his spare time, the result of experiments carried out between client briefs, and demonstrate where Kristian’s true interests lie; within the cold metal torso of an existentially troubled droid.

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    A report out this week warns that London is in danger of not making the most of its post Olympic legacy, which all helps make that summer of smiles and success seem like a surreal dream. Leaving aside the sporting impact, it’s probably too early to say what the cultural or design effects will be of that very distinctive visual vernacular that surrounded the Games. For other cities though that assessment is very possible, in particular one with nearly 30 years’ hindsight as is the case with Los Angeles.

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    A journalist at the press conference for the hotly-anticipated Hello My Name is Paul Smith at the Design Museum made a very interesting point. Paul Smith makes stripy socks and nice suits, like many other designers, what is it about his stripy socks that people buy into? Simple answer: it’s him. It’s his fun, his energy, his silly faces, his flowery shirts, his bandy legs and his unabashed cheerfulness that makes us want to buy his clothes! This is also precisely why this exhibition of his career to date has to be one of the most enjoyable in the history of shows, it’s 100% infused with happiness and celebration. From the walls covered in framed miscellany taken from Paul’s own staircase (only a tiny fraction of the complete archive), to the recreation of his infamous stuff-filled office, this show had journalists and photographers go all squishy and giddy with joy whilst ambling around.

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    When I think of football in the 80s I think of the smell of freshly mowed turf, steaming styrofoam cups and old sheepskin coats with packets of Pall Mall tucked inside. Football and smoking kind of go together in a weird way, a similar vibe you really only get when you step into a classic British pub and get that first whiff of stale booze slap bang in your face. Leo Fitzmaurice has picked up on that, and has taken the really quite beautifully designed fag packets of yore and turned them into instantly recognisable football kits. It’s a simple, effective comment on the specific addiction many of us have to sport, and the infinitive nature of competition year after year.

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    Signs that you’ve made it: 1. You have a book of your work out. 2. The text for said book is written by Creative Review editor Patrick Burgoyne. 3. You have an accompanying exhibition of your work at super-cool east London gallery KK Outlet. 4. The press release for said show includes a quote from the people’s philosopher Alain de Botton.

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    Bookbinding is one of those skills I wish I possessed (see also basic butchery and intermediate chandlery). A new show at London’s Aram Gallery which opens next week shines a light on this world, but does so by combining the past and the present to terrific effect. Beautiful Readable Objects showcases nine books bound by members of the Tomorrow’s Past collective, which is dedicated to making contemporary conservation bindings for damaged antiquarian books. Through both sensitive design and tremendous technique, these bibliophiles preserve the books for future generations while staying true to their former glories.

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    Back in August we showed you Erik Brandt’s garage-wall typography project Ficciones Typografika and had a little look at Feixen’s contribution to it. But we thought it was probably about time for an update seeing as the man’s working flat out to get a new set of posters up each week. This time the updates come in the form of some of Erik’s own work; posters with a political bent that deal with some particularly topical issues and hammer home the simple power of a slogan rendered with typographic aggression. Plus, those colour palettes: Mmmmmmm.

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    Here’s an exhibition we wish we were over the Atlantic for. Pulling in bits and pieces from their very own collection, the Museum of Modern Art has just opened a brand new show celebrating women in contemporary design from the years 1890 all the way up until 1990. The exhibition gives women in modern design the nod they deserve by crediting them not only as muses and wives, but as designers, performers and educators, listing creatives from Charlotte Perriand and Ray Eames to Eileen Gray and Denise Scott Brown on the bill.

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    Oh to be in Ryan McGinley’s studio, listening to Pavement and rolling around naked on enormous sheets of emerald-coloured paper while he shoots his youth-elixir camera and winks at you through the viewfinder…We can only dream. Any lucky person who’s living in San Francisco should pop in to Ratio 3 Gallery this week to catch the tail-end of McGinley’s show Yearbook. I don’t know who curated this show, but whoever did deserves a medal for hanging the photos with such apt teenage bedroom wild abandon.

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    If we told you that Siggi Eggertsson had done some new, spectacular work, you probably wouldn’t find it hard to believe. But this time the boy’s really cracked it creating more of his mind-bending illustration, this time at a a scale we can scarcely comprehend. His latest show Skvís at the Spark Design Space, Reykjavik plasters every inch of floor, wall and ceiling in a pattern of his own creation.

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    The 1960s was a decade when all kinds of crazy stuff slipped into the mainstream, but many artists who championed the use of hallucinogenic drugs as “an artistic tool” were quickly popped into the file named “psychedelic” and then promptly forgotten about. As a result, psychedelic art has largely fallen by the wayside in favour of more conventional makers and thinkers (presumably ones who weren’t high as a kite or seeing unicorns and wizards when they took to their easels) and unfairly shunned from art for nigh on half a century now.

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    London-based design studio Plaid are in the business of creating environments; immersive environments specifically – exhibition and event spaces to be incredibly exact. The duo comprises Lauren Scully and Brian Studak, two creatives with a wealth of experience working in product, interior and architectural design, and now devoting their time to creating environments for brands. This particular piece of exhibition design was produced for The British Library in a show that examined the artistic legacy of the Mughal Empire in India, succinctly chronicling 400 years of history in an exhibit of 200 objects and bringing the architecture of the Mughal to bear on the exhibition space itself.

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    Dayanita Singh may take photographs but she is most definitely an artist before she is a photographer – a fact which the Hayward Gallery seem to be acutely aware of in their new exhibition of her work entitled GO AWAY CLOSER.

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    SITUATION, the new Sarah Lucas exhibition at London’s Whitechapel Gallery, is a bit of a shock to the system to say the least. Giant black and white portraits of the artist adorn almost every wall in the first room looming over visitors who already find themselves ducking underneath mobiles and tiptoeing between plinths.

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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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    Two years after he was killed whilst covering the Libyan Civil War, Liverpool’s Open Eye Gallery pays tribute to documentary photographer Tim Hetherington with an exhibition of both his photographs and film work. The images Tim produced as a photo-reporter resituated the boundaries of war photography by depicting soldiers and the reality they lived, from the hours of tense waiting and boredom to the brotherly relationships built over the period of a year in camp.

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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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    We’ve almost reached the end of our week of London Design Festival podcast coverage and what a week it’s been! I ventured out for one final time and met Tony Quinn, a designer on a mission to save the QR code and spoke to Alex Bettler of DesignMarketo about his show inspired by the fragrant properties of pepper.

  20. Donwood-list

    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.

  22. Blackisle-list

    You can more or less guarantee that everything associated with luxurious food magazine The Gourmand will have an aesthetic that’s equally sophisticated, but these shots for Black Isle Bakery by photographer Lena Emery take the biscuit (yes, pun intended). The bakery, run by Ruth Barry, has taken up residence at KK Outlet for the duration of The Gourmand’s September exhibition to provide the finest tea and cake your discerning palate has ever enjoyed, and to celebrate they’ve launched a new website designed by OK-RM, who also art directed the shoot. These Van Eyck-style renderings of earthy chestnut mushrooms and fresh salmon rolls have got us salivating unreservedly, the arrangements of food on carefully considered backdrops bringing a physicality to something as intangible as flavour.

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    Ahh Norway, the beautiful blustery land of delicious fish and exceptional gene pools. As London Design Festival takes it’s hold on the UK’s capital, some of Norway’s most talented designers are arriving to exhibit their work to the members of the public at the Old Truman Brewery. Excitingly, this is the tenth year that Norway have exhibited at LDF and subsequently they have put together an absolute corker of a show with the help of talented curators Henrietta Thompson and Benedicte Sunde.

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    Excited though we may be about the veritable extravaganza of fantastic art and design which is London Design Festival beginning this week, we couldn’t allow ourselves to let the capital’s equally deserved celebration of Britain’s creativity, London Fashion Week, slip by unnoticed. Today will see the final round of shows from the five day fashion marathon, so as fashion’s elite escape on the Eurostar leaving a fine veil of lost sequins and discarded freebies scattered across Somerset House’s courtyard we thought it was the perfect time to bring you a round-up of our five favourite offerings from Britain’s much applauded fashion designers. Without further ado then, here they are…

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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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    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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    The sun’s gone, the summer’s over, get over it. Before everyone starts morosely washing the chlorine out of their swimsuits and chucking their flower headbands in the recycling for another year, perhaps check out this new show from Jean Jullien. In his typical style of being witty without being overly cynical, Jean has created a new collection of simplistic images illustrating humans struggling with life on the beach. If you know the feeling when you’re sunburnt, you feel like a beached whale, there’s sand in your hotdog and you’re perving at the opposite sex through the shadows of your cheap sunglasses, then this is for you. Jean, you’ve done it again.

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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.

  29. Georgeosodi-list

    Nigerian photographer George Osodi is a photojournalist of extraordinary skill. The Lagos-based creative has spent an enormous amount of time on the African continent documenting the social and economic struggles of its native population, consequently earning the respect of The New York Times, Time, The Guardian, The Telegraph, USA Today and the International Herald Tribune. Not a bad haul of international newspapers really. When he’s not immersed in documenting the economic path of his country, he’s busy cataloguing the social structure – its unusual monarchy in particular – the fruits of which can be seen in London at The Bermondsey Project next month.

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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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    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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    A fantastic new show opening in London today celebrates half a century of the best international poster design. Posters from the likes of Wim Crouwel, Roger Hargreaves and Julian Palka are among the 45 works selected from the amazing archive of the Icograda (the International Council of Communication Design) by 15 leading contemporary design figures including Anthony Burrill, Noma Bar, Emma Thomas from A Practice For Everyday Life and our very own Will Hudson.

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    If you’re going to get a brilliant artist to have an enormous show at your gallery, you may as well give them full run of the place and make it one of the most eye-catching exhibitions in the country. To step inside the Palazzo Grassi in Venice now is to step inside a world that resembles the depths of an eastern souq, and it’s all down to Rudolf Stingel. Rather than simply hang 30 of his conceptual paintings on the already beautiful walls of this magnificent, crumbling gallery by the famous canals, he chose to completely cover the interior of the building in blood-red, ottoman-influenced carpets. Wow. Can’t get to Venice to have a look yourself? Here’s a virtual tour.

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    If you’ll allow me to get a bit literary on yo’ asses for a second, Mitch Dobrowner’s utterly spellbinding photographs of storms bring to mind Alexander Pope’s 1734 poem An Essay to Man. In bombastic couplets, Pope rails against what he saw as the arrogant philosophical questioning of the world around us, and warns that God and his plans are unknowable. Mitch’s work feels like a visual exploration of the same ideas; terrifying photographs of storms that could have come straight from a admonitory Renaissance painting.

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    As if you needed any more reasons to take an interest in the work of Finnish graphic powerhouse Kustaa Saksi he’s recently added more skills to his already impressive arsenal, making use of the jacquard loom to move his work into exciting new territory. Kustaa’s latest exhibition, Hypnopompic takes inspiration from the state of sensory confusion that exists between sleep and wakefulness, using the visual delusions experienced during this strange period of consciousness to inspire a set of intricate psychedelic tapestries, busy with distorted flora and fauna. There’s strobing monkeys clambering through trees, some giant technicolour grasshoppers and a particularly ominous looking spider haunting a tapestry of deep reds and blues.

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    In the latest episode of The New Yorker’s terrific Out Loud podcast, the writer Nicholson Baker talks about how the internet can lead to “a present tense assault of simultaneity” and the effect this has on our attention spans. He goes on: “I think that a necessary precondition for the appreciation of art is the feeling that the thing you are looking at or reading or listening to is all that there is at that moment and you have to give yourself to it.”

  37. Feixen-list

    Ficciones Typografika is a pretty humble personal project created by Erik Brandt, a Minneapolis native with some talented international mates. The project offers a platform for type and graphic designers to create one-off experiments to be produced as posters and wheat-pasted onto a designated exhibition space in the Powderhorn area of Minneapolis. The space is on the side of Erik’s garage though, in an area just big enough to fit three 24″ × 36″ posters. So far the exhibitors have included Benoît Bodhuin, Lauren Thorson and Erik himself, but these abstract pieces from the excellent Feixen are some of our favourites.

  38. 2xe-list

    This month west London-based design studio Two Times Elliott turned five and naturally felt some kind of celebration was in order. To ensure that the event passed with an appropriate amount of revelry, they commissioned 22 design studios to produce prints based on the number two. Friends from far and wide, including Colophon, Hyperkit, Studio Makgill and Hort, all produced a unique screen print that was hand-pulled by Thomas Murphy and displayed last Thursday in a one-off show. If you couldn’t make it down for a slice of the action the prints are now for sale online with proceeds going to Cancer Research UK. If only all fifth birthdays were so well-planned.

  39. Gee-list

    He’s spoken at our events, drawn pictures for books we’ve produced, sent us sweet records he’s illustrated – and we follow him on the Instagram like a bunch of obsessive stalkers – but somehow, SOMEHOW, we’ve not dedicated a proper post to the master of laid-back-wave-riding and frenzied-cycling illustration that is Stevie Gee. Until now. Sorry Stevie.

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    Hactivism, 3D printing, the idea of a new industrial revolution – all of this will be familiar to anyone with an interest in design and technology (and particularly to anyone who’s been to a design conference in the past couple of years). But a new show at London’s Design Museum, The Future Is Here, takes these terms and ideas – thrown about often quite loosely – and makes a real effort to explain and engage with them in a remarkably practical, interesting and effective way.