The rainy winter season is fast approaching here in New Zealand. Perhaps this explains my current preoccupation with colour. I want to hold on to the brilliant, crisp hues of summer just a tad longer, before we sink into dreary-grey days and darkness at 5pm. Hence my fixation with Matthew Brandt’s Lakes and Reservoirs photographs—a series of 29 large scale c-prints taken at different North American lakes. The landscapes vary significantly in appearance: fragmented, warped and washed out, speckled with galaxies of light, the colours range from vivid psychedelic hues to Turner-esque dark, moody tones.
The reason for their corroded appearance lies in Matthew Brandt’s process. The yearning for forgotten craft techniques and slow modes of making has manifested itself in all corners of the creative sphere, including photography. After developing and printing the image, Brandt has soaked each one in a solution of water collected from the lake photographed. The poetic gesture has transpired in a selection of mystical, painterly imagery. Brandt involves the aid of nature at several stages of the photographic process, not only using sunlight but also embedding a material part of the subject in the final print. This approach elevates the photograph’s status to that of an individual object, rather than the ephemeral pixels we are accustomed to seeing in the digital space. Lakes and Reservoirs are huge in size and need to experienced in real life to be properly engulfed by their brilliance.
Matthew Brandt is currently exhibiting three different series of work at Yossi Milo Gallery in New York, collectively titled Excavations. These works are strikingly different in appearance, but all share the same kind of direct material relationship with their subject matter. Experimenting with several printing processes, such as heliography and lithography, Brandt has incorporated materials such as dust and tar. He has played with more controversial additions in the past, including cocaine in Night Skies and bodily fluids in Portraits. Have a good look through his intriguing body of work here.
Last year she won the Silver Lion at the 55th Venice Biennale for her video piece Grosse Fatigue—an attempt at retelling the creation of the universe in 13 minutes through rhythmic spoken word and a Mac desktop screen full of shifting browser windows. Camille Henrot plunders Western history, mythology, religious texts and science to blend them together into a narrative accompanied by images and videos she created, many taken from her fellowship at the Smithsonian Institution, with some footage found on the internet.
Her most recent exhibition Pale Fox, at the Chisenhale Gallery in London, is a development of the video work, or perhaps the debris of objects and references she gathered while working on Grosse Fatigue. The overarching themes of order and chaos, the origins of the world as we know it and the systems we’ve developed to catalogue it, such as museology and historical records, are being explored here. Henrot blends Western perspectives and indigenous mythology, tribal objects and beliefs, in the way that questions not only creation but knowledge itself—what it can be, where it comes from and how it can be used. The exhibition includes a myriad of objects: there are stacks of National Geographic magazines, modernist sculpture, African figurines, digital photo frames, ink drawings, Henrot’s bronze sculptures, photographs…All this is pulled together with the help of the undulating metal display system which hugs the walls of the gallery and the incredible ultramarine blue walls and carpet.
While we can pull out some narratives and thematic threads in this work, there is no strong statement being made here, no loud message the artist is trying to communicate. It seems a documentation of Camille Henrot’s own search for meaning in our contemporary information jam-packed times, and a reflection of the ways in which we navigate and archive the world—with multiple tabs open, dubious sources and short attention spans. I wish I could get to London to see the installation, it is up until 13 April for those who can!
Photographs: Andy Keate. © ADAGP
At first glance the sculptures of Li Hongbo seem cold and antiquated. They exude a solidity that we normally associate with marble and the classical genre. These objects from his current exhibition titled Tools of Study at the Klein Sun Gallery are familiar, yet remain impenetrable in their static state. And then, they move, and bend, and stretch, air seeps into small crevices and they assume a new life form, one that is vastly different from the viewer’s original assumption that these are indeed made of an immovable substance.
Hongbo uses paper, thousands upon thousands of interlocking stacks of paper that are carved into pieces such as Bust of David, 2012 (top images). Recognizable masterpieces take on a startling personality as eyes widen and necks elongate. Oddly I’m reminded of aliens taking over human bodies, or something like it anyway! I’m marveling at the textural surface achieved in each of the busts, it’s flawless.
Li was influenced by paper gourds, a traditional Chinese decoration consisting wholly of paper. His representation of this media is refreshing and original and challenges our initial perceptions of the Western Art world. The film, titled Extended, that accompanies the images is beautifully shot by Kid Guy Collective in collaboration with the Klein Sun Gallery and really gives you a feel for the fluidity that is achieved through the use of paper.
Hongbo was born in China and this is his first exhibition in the United States. He has exhibited widely on an international level, including Europe and Australia. Tools of Study finishes up on March the 22nd so get in there and see it if you happen to be in New York (if only!).
This is blimin interesting stuff. If you’re feeling inspired maybe you could have a play next time you’re bored shitless standing at a photocopier….
Photographs: Lucia Franco
It’s that time of year again—the newly commissioned Serpentine Pavilion to grace the lawns of the Kensington Gardens has been revealed. You can refresh your memory of last year’s popular installation by Sou Fujimoto here, and the 2012 collaboration between Herzog & de Meuron Ai Weiwei here. The 2014 Serpentine Pavilion is intended to act as a temporary multi-use space to house a variety of performances, talks and events run throughout the coming months.
This year, Chilean architect Smiljan Radic was chosen to realize his design of a cocoon-like structure. He will be the fourteenth architect to participate in this project and is being heralded the youngest and least-known choice to date. Radic was inspired by small romantic decorative garden sculptures of the 16th–19th centuries in the conception of his design. The oval part of the construction, made of fiberglass and intended to resemble a shell, hovers upon large boulders of stone.
My first response to the renders was: “Awkward!”. However, upon closer inspection the relationship between the materials, with contrasting qualities of lightness and weight, is intriguing. Much has been said of the strange outer appearance of the structure, but I think the magic of this pavilion will be in its tactile details and the experience of the interior space. From what I can tell it will create an airy ambiance, the draped covering opening out to the gardens and simultaneously creating the sensation of being enveloped. Just imagine the glowing warmth the translucent shell will emit at night-time!
Placed in the context of Smiljan Radic’s past work, this design is another showcase of his talent for creating a delicate balance with a combination of earthy and artificial materials, light and space. His structures and interiors are atmospheric and sensitive to their environment. I look forward to seeing the pavilion materialized in June!
Photography by Gonzalo Puga and Smiljan Radic
Hot damn! We’ve got chicks on motorcycles, blazing colour, amazing patterns and some not so subtle brand referencing happening here. The Taymour Grahne Gallery in New York is currently exhibiting talented photographer Hassan Hajjij’s solo exhibition ‘Kesh Angels (until March 7).
I’m not really sure where to begin as I love every aspect of this impressive production. Hajjij presents a normally unseen Moroccan sub-culture through his imagery, documenting the biker culture of young women in Marrakesh. The viewer is presented with confident women in veils and djellabah (loose hooded robes) who like to have fun – subverting traditional western perceptions of Arabic women. Polka dots, heart-shaped sunnies and loud textiles communicate messages of fun, freedom and independence. In some of the photographs Hajjij crops the subject matter so tightly that the sitter’s head is cut off by the frame, placing them in a position of dominance.
Hajjij was born in Morocco and is now based in the UK. The exhibition is a celebration of his North African heritage, combined with influences such as the hip-hop, reggae and club scenes of London. A nod to Pop is also at play here, as consumer canned goods create a bold frame around each girl. The artist states that he ‘plays on being a sixties child,’ using the seductive power of the brand to lend strength to the art works.
A range of media is used; the photographs featured above are showcased alongside installation work, video and limited edition couture Arab dolls on motorbikes, highlighting Hajjij’s versatility as an artist. Have a more in-depth read about ‘Kesh Angels here.
Shit these photographs are good. That’s all I’m saying.
Images: Taymour Grahne Gallery