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
Antoine+Manuel’s story is a bit of a modern day fairytale—Antoine Audiau and Manuel Warosz met at art school in Paris in 1984, fell in love and started working together as graphic designers in 1993. They have since designed posters, invitations for Christian Lacroix, publications, interiors and furniture. Playing to one-another’s strengths and interests, Manuel generally handles the digital side of the design, while Antoine focuses on painting, colour and material experimentation. The resulting range of work is eclectic, combining layers upon layers of imagery, colours, textures, collage, hand-drawn elements and bold graphic shapes. Looking at their work overall, what you are sure to find is a beautiful sense of freedom and pure enjoyment of the process of making.
Most recently, Antoine+Manuel were involved in a monumental exhibition showcasing the 164 year history of Cartier’s jeweled objects. The exhibition, held at the Grand Palais in Paris, included approximately 600 pieces of jewelry. The task of complementing such a luxurious display, set in an iconic building, would be no mean feat! The duo developed the Cartieroscope—a 12 x 135 m, 24 minute long video projection specifically tailored for the Salon d’Honneur in the Grand Palais. The digital animation combines fragmented imagery of Cartier’s jewels, found photographs, collage and painting experiments to create vivid shifting kaleidoscopic patterns. In an interview, Manuel explains that they wanted to create a moving painting of sorts, something upon which the viewers could rest their eyes after looking at the intensely shiny objects on display. The Cartieroscope allows visitors to look at something on a larger scale which, while being captivating in its own right, directly references the subject of the exhibition, keeping it fresh in their mind.
While the physical exhibition has finished, you can view 45 second clips of the videos on the designers’ website. There are eight differently themed pieces being gradually uploaded to the site. Also, look out for their next foray into digital animation to be exhibited at the Chapelle des Calvairiennes in May this year.
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.
James Enos completed his Master of Architecture at the NewSchool of Architecture and Design, which he followed with further study in Fine Arts. Enos approaches his practice from a multidisciplinary standpoint, and his solid grounding in architectural studies is evident, being a constant source of inspiration for new work. His interests lie specifically with architectural structures within an urban context, potentials for social change and an exploration of civic identity.
Some of the work he completed while undertaking his studies at NewSchool is currently on show at the “Urban Entropy” exhibit at the Oceanside Museum of Art in San Diego. His extremely detailed, contorted structures look like they are about to burst out all over the gallery space, breaking out from the complex tangles they seem to have gotten themselves into. Two laser-cut skyscrapers bow and bend under the weight of a couple of hundred separate houses. Cookie-cutter homes turned sky-high condos—it is an interesting concept, blending two of the most banal types of housing into one superstructure. The result is surprisingly beautiful to look at, but is a comment on the increasingly commercialised nature of the architectural industry and the lack of consideration for aesthetics, or facilitation of community and human interaction.
The other works are more abstract but equally as expertly crafted, bringing to mind the various flows running through the city: human, traffic, data, electricity, water…Their turbulence is at odds with the simultaneous sense of rhythm they seem to instill. I like this tension and the possible associations we are left to draw from the sculptural objects. If you can make it to the Oceanside Museum I would encourage you to see them in real life, catch the exhibition before it closes 2 February. If you want to stay in loop with James Enos’ latest projects, you can check out his website.
Photo credits: http://ucsdopenstudios.com and Sharina Menke
Korean sculptor and installation artist Do-Ho Suh currently has two impressive shows running concurrently in Asia, and both are as impressive as each other even though the scale between the two are vastly different.
Do-Ho Suh’s work explores the theme of personal space. Using a transparent polyester, Suh creates three dimensional works that replicate household items or structures, the material transforming these common elements into physical interpretations of memory. I first saw one of Suh’s works at the Tate Modern in London. An inverted red staircase was suspended from the ceiling leading to nowhere. It was as ghostly as it was beautiful, and I was arrested by the thought of it’s production.
Here, at the National Museum of Modern and Contemporary Art, Suh’s scale has increased dramatically. Creating the largest work to date he has produced replica’s of two houses that he has lived in. One, his childhood home in Korea which has been suspended inside of the second, his first apartment building in Rhode Island. The sculpture towers at a 1:1 scale of the originals, made using 3D scanners to enable a precise replica. The complexities of creating something like this, with all the detail and exactness is mind boggling and it must be truly wonderful to be able to walk through Suh’s physical memory of these locations.
The second show at Lehmann Maupin in Hong Kong is intimate. In a room painted black, Suh’s fabric versions of household items are incased in glass, illuminated and given a presence that is usually found in a museum. Turning these into fragile, almost archaeological pieces, gives new meaning to the objects and again, intertwines them with memory and association to location.
If you are in Korea or Hong Kong over the next few months I am incredibly jealous. Both these shows offer a unique experience that wraps you in thought, memory and intricacy. You wouldn’t want to miss it.