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Review of the Year 2015: Top 10 Editor’s Picks

The Review of the Year has given the It’s Nice That team a chance to reflect on the great work that we have discovered and had the privilege to share with our readers over past 12 months. When we launched the Review at a party last Friday, we were able to meet and celebrate with many of the individuals that make our jobs so varied and interesting. Here, we present ten articles selected by the whole editorial team as our personal highlights of the year. Thanks to everyone that made 2015 so memorable. We look forward to bringing you even more great stories and projects in 2016.

  • Dougal_wilson_interview_int_list Features / Advertising “Success breeds success... but you've got to make sure you don't cock it up next time”

    Through a doorway in London’s Wardour Street is Blink Productions, which houses the compact office of director Dougal Wilson. Long-limbed and smiley, Dougal has been often been touted as “Adland’s Mr Nice Guy”, and while he is very nice, the phrase doesn’t quite do him justice. Not only has he managed to become one of the UK’s top commercial and music video directors, he’s managed to do this by continuing to tell the stories he’d like to see in a way that tugs at our heartstrings, making us laugh and cry all within 90 seconds.

    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Duane_hanson_serpentine_itsnicethat_list Work / Art Duane Hanson’s hyperreal sculptures question how we address the world

    Walking through the doors of the Serpentine Sackler Gallery you’re instantly met by Duane Hanson’s Flea Market Lady parading her worldly belongings in a yard sale. You expect her to look up and acknowledge your arrival, but she remains still. Even though you know she’s a mixed media amalgamation of oil, bronze and plastic, a part of you still expects her to glance away from her magazine. This unnerving feeling follows you throughout the Duane Hanson retrospective and his sculptures exude such an overwhelming presence it’s both captivating and unsettling. 

    Rebecca Fulleylove
  • Fm-itsnicethat-list Features / Publication Talking ten years of Fantastic Man with Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom

    “I feel like we just came out of nowhere from the Netherlands with a men’s magazine and it was like, ‘Oh wow, where the fuck is this coming from?’” I’m sitting across from Gert Jonkers and Jop van Bennekom in the Holborn Dining Room, here to talk about the tenth anniversary of Fantastic Man. “You want to surprise people, or you want to show something in a way that other people are not showing it,” Jop carries on. “Is that risky?” says Gert. “Maybe if other people don’t do it, but I’d say it’s almost riskier to do what other people do.”

    Alexander Hawkins
  • Tracey-emin_-sex-1-25-11-07-sydney-courtesy-tracey-emin-list Work / Opinion In defence of Tracey Emin’s divisive Penguin covers

    Earlier this week I came across cover artwork Tracey Emin has created for the new Penguin editions of Henry Miller’s twin novels Tropic of Cancer and Tropic of Capricorn. Knowing full well Tracey Emin is a notoriously polarising force I was still taken aback by some of the vitriol this inspired. By all means opposing opinion and varied taste is what makes life more interesting, but sometimes I think people dismiss her work too quickly.

    People frequently decry her lack of technical skill. “She can’t draw,” they say. I think this tends to miss the point as much as the worn out reproach, “my three year-old could do that.” In the context of contemporary art, perhaps far more important than being an accomplished draughtsman is the ability to produce gesture and affect. Emin can do this. I also happen to respond well to her loose, evocative hand and think her gouache nudes are visually very strong. I remember reading a typically scathing review from Brian Sewell in the Evening Standard a couple of years ago where he described one of her drawings as a “squalid smudge.”

    Elsewhere I’ve read that based on her ability she is undeserving of her success, that there are more talented artists who will never reach her dizzying heights, that her emphasis on sex is gratuitous and that she shows contempt for anything that is pleasing to the eye. I’m not going to pick apart every criticism, but because Emin is successful and someone else is not fails to invalidate her work (I’d also add that the two are not contingent on one another), to channel her sexuality into her work is her prerogative as a woman in the 21st Century, and as for the question of beauty, by now art has shown it can be ugly and still worthy.

    Alexander Hawkins

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