Dark thoughts, deep contemplation and melancholic energy silently flows from the work of Finnish artist Ville Andersson. Opposing forces of good and evil struggle to overcome one another; the result, a pervasive Romanticism, each sitter holds an emotive power that captures the viewer, and makes them look a little deeper and think a little longer.
I was drawn to the pencil and ink portraits on paper which are reminiscent of engravings and print. At a glance they could quickly be earmarked as replications of images from centuries ago. Look again, and the ‘void’ creeps up on you. Andersson successfully creates an unease that is hard to shake, those eerily darkened eyes (my favorite, seventh from the top) are a perfect example.
Andersson cleverly subverts painterly portraiture traditions by refusing to capture the essence of the sitter, instead cutting out the eyes and head and leaving and replacing them with an enigmatic nothingness.
I find Andersson’s approach to his art practice refreshing; he’s not scared to jump between mediums, and does so with panache. His photography, drawings and paintings all have a different visual aesthetic, but remain united in their reflection of Andersson’s wish to channel an underlying psychological force. The white-out effect in his photographs suspends his subject matter in an immeasurable time; a disturbing brand of visual beauty is achieved in the top image of the nude female.
Ville Andersson graduated from the Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in 2012. Despite his recent arrival on the art scene he is host to an impressive array of prizes, nominations, scholarships and residences (check it out here). He has exhibited throughout Europe, most recently participating in ARCO Madrid, in conjunction with Helsinki Contemporary.
If you’re in the mood to indulge your darker side have a sift through Andersson’s website. You won’t be disappointed.
As you may have noticed, we have been regularly featuring work of the students, staff and alumni from our supporting network of five design schools. There is a consistent flow of quality, interesting work emerging from this community, which makes our job easy! This week my attention was piqued by a freshly published book of photographs by Alessandro Calabrese, who graduated from NABA’s Master program in Photography and Visual Design in 2012. Since graduating, Calabrese has been keeping himself busy with artist residencies and both solo and group exhibitions.
Most recently, he has had a book of his photographs produced by Skinnerboox, a newly established independent Italian publishing house focused on contemporary photography. The book, titled Thoreau, is a collection of images inspired by the writings of Henry David Thoreau, the American naturalist, philosopher, abolitionist and lover of wilderness. I am currently reading my way through The Portable Thoreau, so it’s interesting to see someone respond to these texts in visual form. Alessandro Calabrese’s photographs document both the expanses and details of the landscape, but human presence is always either candidly revealed or implied. I know little of the background behind this project, but it seems to be a personal documentation of a journey or experience, seen through an attentive and patient eye of the photographer. The simple design of the book gives plenty of space for us to contemplate the quiet imagery.
In addition to continuing with his personal work, Calabrese also contributes to the Luoghicomuni Collective. Looks like the young creative community is bubbling in Milan, great to see!
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
Normally I have an aversion to any type of landscape art. Why? I think it’s difficult to communicate the energy of this subject matter, especially in comparison to animate objects. So, I’m a little shocked to be showcasing the work of London based photographer Darren Almond, but, these images spoke to me. Something is afoot in these soft, beautiful and hazy vistas. They are shot by the light of the moon, a quality that transforms the landscape into something eerily otherworldly. A preternatural energy abounds.
Almond has travelled the globe over the last thirteen years, choosing sites that he connects with, and documenting them in the night-time hours. The use of long exposure times creates a startling result, small details are revealed that would never normally be visible to the naked eye. It’s almost as though Almond is collecting more light than is his due; the grainy quality of the imagery builds up a sense of unending possibility, who knows what might emerge from the night?
A nod to the Romantic painters of the the 19th Century is evident here, as the grandeur of nature is certainly acknowledged. Almond channels the ‘primal need to measure and quantify the passing of time,’ a concept that appeals to me, as one is inextricably pulled forward, through the hours and minutes.
Darren Almond has an impressive list of solo exhibitions behind him, having exhibited all over Europe. He was also shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2005. Almond currently has his exhibition To Leave a Light Impression on display at White Cube Gallery in Bermondsey (on until April 14th), so if you’re in the vicinity check it out. I’d love to see these serene moonscapes up close and personal. Elegant stuff.
Pae White is not an artist I have been aware of for very long, but since discovering more of her work I have become thoroughly impressed by her energy and the diversity of her oeuvre. She is that rare artist that has a truly interdisciplinary practice—she has worked with architecture, graphic design and craft, as well as art. Her work tends to be quite large in scale and she is perhaps best known for her spacial installations and the huge tapestries depicting photographic images of fleeting smoke. Neon lights, ceramic popcorn, typography crafted from interlocking string, giant murals, long tapestries—the variety is astounding!
What the work does have in common is a desire to capture something of the quotidian, while revealing unexpected qualities of the object. Pae White subverts such common things as pop corn or aluminium foil to tease a newly found fascination from the viewer. The humble and transitory is frozen in time and elevated to a monumental scale. The most successful example of this is the curtain she created for the architectural masterpiece that is the Oslo Opera House. The image is a scan of carefully crinkled aluminium foil, digitally woven to produce an astounding three-dimensional illusion. A great example of old-time traditions of hand-craft being combined with new technologies.
Pae White was born in Pasadena, California and is based in LA, which may explain the big, sunny energy inherent in her work. It is uncommon to find contemporary art that is so damn optimistic and unabashedly full of genuine curiosity, while still containing nuanced layers of possible meaning. Her work begs to be experienced and enjoyed. White’s project “Orllegro,” in which she responds to the permanent collection at the MAK museum in Austria is on until October this year.