A dog in a car!
Why does that make interesting art?
And what’s that got to do with me?
A lot actually, when you come to consider that Martin Usborne has combined his love for dogs with a strong childhood memory of being left alone in a car, for what seemed like forever.
Not an unloved child in the least, it was just the feeling of being made to wait.
And not knowing if anyone would ever come to get him.
That’s all it was.
But like all living beings the boredom, the apprehension, the anxiety and the sadness, all followed.
So take a deeper look beyond the obvious dog.
They don’t have smart phones to escape into.
Let alone the ability to crank a window open.
At the end of the day are their emotions that different from our own?
We love exhibitions that make us want to walk slowly…
where it doesn’t matter whether you came alone or with someone, because you just forget…
where it feels like you’ve just spent an hour but then you end up with 250 photographs on your phone…how long were we here?
where you covet everything and delight in the colour and symmetry of someone else’s good taste.
Martino Gamper’s design is a state of mind at the Serpentine Sackler Gallery is all of these things and more. In a deeply aesthetic way, Gamper has curated a display of shelves that range from design classics to contemporary pieces, Ikea to iconic, all of which play host to an eclectic collection of objects loaned from artists, designers and creatives we enjoy and envy.
With his own background in exhibition and interior design as well as his close ties with the furniture industry, Gamper seems like the perfect curator/designer/artist to have crafted this exhibition with just the right amount of precision, restraint and joy.
Bethan Wood & Campo Graffi (Bookcase 1950s)
Adam Hills & Martino Gamper (Book Show Case 2010/2014)
Inspiration comes when you least expect it.
And we discovered it last evening at our local pub in the form of the images of Duncan Raban. And they made us smile and feel less grumpy about the fact that it’s Monday already.
So here are our favourite picks from his portfolio. Getting his subjects to drop their guard is what he does best, and it definitely shows in his pictures.
So big smiles everybody…it’s a new day already!
We’ve always been inspired by the grit and talent of street artists as those who make art to express themselves and never for posterity. For this week’s Friday Inspired we have photographer Lauren Psyk share her inspiration from a London East End graffiti tour.
‘As a photographer I am always looking for shooting opportunities and new subject matter, so I was delighted when a friend recently bought me tickets for the Graffiti Tour of London, organised by Great British Tours. The tour is based in Shoreditch and takes in well known spots such as Brick Lane, as well as some more hidden away places that I never knew were there.
The most striking thing I learnt on the tour was how little I knew about street art! Sure – I had heard of Banksy and I’ve always admired good graffiti, but I had no idea there were so many highly regarded street artists with a signature style and instantly recognisable work. My personal favourite from the tour is a guy called Stik, so called because he draws stick figures. They are always made up of just six lines. It was amazing to see how expressive and memorable simple stick figures can be – I guess it’s partly about the choice of location for the work. Some others I discovered for the first time included Jimmy C, famous for a colourful ‘drip’ style, ROA, a Belgian artist who paints unusual looking animals all over the world, and Paul Don Smith, who uses stencilling.
The other great question posed by the tour is: “what is graffiti?” We were shown some works of art that to all intents and purposes looked like graffiti. But the guide pointed out that these had been commissioned – by brands, shops, cafes etc. Are they therefore strictly graffiti, which by definition is about vandalism, and is therefore illegal? And if works by artists such as Banksy now sell for six figure sums around the world, are they really that far removed from commissioned works of art? Can this still be said to be graffiti? I left the tour thinking through these issues, with a list of eye catching street artists to explore further.’
Thanks Lauren! What say we do another one of these soon?
David Bailey’sStardust at the National Portrait Gallery gives visitors the perfect opportunity to immerse themselves in what Bailey does best – take fantastic images of the beautiful and the famous, but without letting the glamour overwhelm you.
‘The pictures I take are simple and direct and about the person I’m photographing and not about me. I spend more time talking to the person than I do taking pictures.’
Most of the images are black and white, and though the display does highlight Bailey’s other images taken in India, Sudan, Australia, and London’s East End, the main focus is on his celebrity images. And it doesn’t take much to figure out why it is with these images that the maverick photographer has built up his reputation and his fan base.
One of our favourite exhibitions to currently see in Vienna is Evil Things – An encyclopaedia of bad taste at the Möbel Museum Wien. A tongue-in-cheek look at those everyday objects that make us grimace or laugh, that have had an unexpected impact on society or the economy, that are utterly useless, have big design flaws or are just plain rude – there’s an interesting conversation to be had around each and every one of these objects.
The exhibition also invites visitors to leave behind their bad taste objects with a story of why they consider the item to be terrible. All the written humour and indignation was completely lost on us given the German wall text, but what we did witness is that one person’s jewel could very easily be another person’s garbage. And since we ourselves possess and have gifted to friends a few of the displayed objects, we completely put down bad taste as being in the eye of the beholder. Now you tell us, why would anyone pass up on the chance to own a set of wind-up teeth that walk across the table? That’s so many hours at work taken care of!
Some of the objects that made us chuckle…
Nearly all these pictures are courtesy eBay.
On a more serious note, the exhibition is based on a 1912 publication by the art historian Gustav E. Pazaurek where he drew up a criteria on taste mistakes of all kinds. Pazaurek also believed that every institution or museum should have a chamber of horrors cataloguing past design mistakes for students and designers to learn from.
This exhibition includes loans from Pazaurek’s original collection as well as new items from several other museums. Getting visitors to bring in their items as this exhibition does, is also an effective way of acknowledging that everyone has taste or at the least has an item to be commemorated to the Chamber of Horrors.
A definite must-see even if you don’t understand German, we’d also encourage you to wander through the rest of the Möbel Museum which is magical in a quiet, non-touristy-museum sort of way…to us this is the best kind there are!
Lazy beaches, idyllic scenes, quotidian life that is peaceful but not mundane, the selection of works by Eric Fischl on view at the Albertina in Vienna left us hungering for more on a recent trip. From glassines to watercolours and sculpture, his ability to capture fluidity across different mediums is inspiring and allows his stories to flow well beyond the edges that frame them.
As Fischl says on the wall text, ‘trying to control the pooling of liquid colour so it captures the feel of muscle, motion and light while allowing it to do what it does naturally, is my most satisfying discipline.’ We believe it’s also his most endearing feature.
Here are some of our Fischl favourites, from the show and otherwise.
Fischl is also known for his oil painting on glassine, a very thin smooth paper that is air and water resistant. He places layers of these sheets one on top of each other to form a narrative, thereby allowing for the possibility of multiple scenarios.
Tucked away behind the sandy beaches and billowing silhouettes that comprise this exhibition is Fischl’s Tumbling Woman sculpture. Not just any woman, this sculpture symbolises the lives lost in the 9/11 World Trade Center tragedy. It was first installed at the Rockefeller Center but due to complaints from the public was later covered and then removed.
Whether this sculpture symbolises a fallen or a leaping woman, someone being pushed or forced to jump is immaterial. It was Fischl’s aim to turn the conversation away from the destroyed towers to the people who lost their lives in the tragedy, and in this he succeeded.
Eric Fischl: Friends, Lovers and other Constellations
Till 18 May 2014 Albertina, Vienna
We’ve recently re-discovered the work of Thomas Bayrle – an artist who we find hard to place within any kind of genre or generation. Well over seventy years old, he is considered to be a pioneer of Pop Art, seriality and media art, and his work is inspired among other things by machines, jazz and the repetitive nature of prayers.
Here are some of his works that make us want to live within a Bayrle world. From his first kinectic machines inspired by all things Chinese, to his raincoats, to the wallpapers that he designed as backgrounds for his raincoat models, to the amazing entrance he made for a recent Frieze London in 2012… we’re inspired by Bayrle and his objects within objects.
You know that Darren Almond’s To Leave a Light Impressionexhibition at White Cube Bermondsey is special the moment you walk through the door.
In a quiet subliminal way, it depicts the majesty of nature while highlighting the limitations of what we as humans can experience with the senses we have naturally available to us. When technology and in this case long exposure photography comes to our aid, it opens up a world of untold beauty that we otherwise would have been unaware of.
Both series stand tall in the galleries, and it is only when you find yourself staring absently at an image where time is traced by the length of a star shooting through the sky, that you realise just how powerful these images are. It is art that makes you think about the invisible, the real lived experience, and how this artist has frozen time and light within a frame.
In 2012, Bombay Saphire ran an interesting competition called The Imagination Series, where filmmakers were invited to send in their interpretation of a script written by Geoffrey Fletcher. The five most imaginative entries were shortlisted and premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival 2013. Here are two of our favourites.
And looking back on the work these filmmakers have made in the past, we reckon James W Griffiths is someone to watch out for. Here’s a film he shot entirely on a Nokia N8 that won the Nokia Shorts competition 2011. Stuff that not only hits the spot, but actually makes you wish you had made it yourself.