Slow → articles tagged with art

BIG ART artists: Katinka Lampe

This coming Friday, the doors of the beautiful Capital C building in Amsterdam will open for BIG ART. The exciting new initiative of curator Anne van der Zwaag presents over 50 XL artworks by contemporary artists and designers and will run for 10 days in what used to be the Diamant Exchange of the city. A unique mix of acclaimed names and upcoming talents, monumental paintings, drawings, large sculptures, big photos and huge installations. As one of the official partners of BIG ART we will present some of our favorite artists included in the curation of van der Zwaag. Starting with Rotterdam-based painter Katinka Lampe, with whom we discussed the democratization of the contemporary visual culture, the rise of artificial self-representation and how this is reflected back in her haunting distorted paintings of young human figures. [ Continue reading ]

Adam Stennett

On a day like this, which revealed the latest and till date most important piece of evidence of a still ongoing radical change in the fundamental requirements for the Western political class to be granted democratic power by the electorate — lacking the traditional need of a significant coherent political constructive vision, but on top of that not even the usual outspoken representation of inhabiting moral decency. In today's world empty signifiers have become the rule in the political jargon, proving to suffice as elementary communicational means to still mobilize a majority of the voters. Distributed digitally, the new system of communication functions by similar rules as that of (mostly constructed, sometimes organically erupted) online viral content: going for maximum instant impact without an intrinsic meaning or significant rooting in the relevant context.

It is safe to say that for us these times are rather confusing. With elections in The Netherlands (with Trump's racist/hairdo twin brother Wilders very likely to become the biggest party for the first time), but also France and Germany (with similar political movements) coming up, we might be heading for a rather nauseating new world order in the next five years and beyond. Ultra individualistic Western societies have become detached from ideology serving as the engine for politics as the means of managing a society. It feels that they have silently uprooted under a cloud of ultimate prosperity, having become significantly more polarized (stimulated by new digital paradigms) than ever before in modern times. Independent mass-communication is losing its significance, slowly transforming into (economical) niche media. A general sentiment of distrust towards truth as a value and the expert representing it, has grown deep roots and might very well be the indefinite heritage of postmodern thinking. Therewith, in any public debate today, beyond just in the political realm, it has become extremely complex to effectively portray important emotional universal truths with a constructive quality and actually reach a significant audience. The inherent noncomplex nature of reactive anger, fear, cynicism and scapegoating those who seem to be guilty just fit the profile of a viral message better.

Most of what's left, or maybe it just feels like that at the moment, is radical communication. The nuanced expressions hardly still land in the seemingly ever-shrinking attention span of the digitally conditioned human or more fundamentally not even make it through the algorithms to begin with. That makes now, maybe more than ever, a time to oppose the empty signifiers with radical subversive thought in the arts. It's time to shake up that slowly shaping new world order, because too many people seem to be dozing. To do just that, we revisit one of the people who's been doing this for years; Adam Stennett and his incredible body of work on paper, in recent years dealing explicitly with the theme of emergency in post-9/11 America. A new emergency might very well be just around the corner, let Stennett's work be a reminder for it not to happen. [ Continue reading ]

Picasso. Sculptures

at BOZAR/Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels

Evidently part of the Pantheon of the most important painters of the 20th century, Spanish artist Pablo Picasso also created sculptures throughout his life that were as innovative as they were (and still are!) influential. After the MoMA in New York and the Musée national Picasso-Paris, BOZAR/Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels has just opened the next chapter of the exhibition, bringing together 80 of Picasso’s sculptures for the very first retrospective of the artist’s sculptures in Belgium. After having seen it ourselves last Sunday (the exhibition opened on 25 October 2016: Picasso’s birthday), it is safe to say that the exhibition will be among our favorites of the year, marvelously showcasing the extraordinary scope of the artistic vision of Picasso and revealing the inspirational development in finding the right 3D equivalent of his canvas-bound painted expressions.

'Picasso. Sculptures' is laid out in a chronological and thematic circuit elaborated in collaboration with the former host of the biggest part of the curation; Musée national Picasso-Paris — the sculptures positioned into a dialogue with around twenty of his canvases, around fifteen ceramics, and objets d’art from non-European cultures which belonged to his personal collection. Without a doubt, Picasso will always be first remembered as the prolific and groundbreaking painter. However, 'Picasso. Sculptures' incredibly presents Picasso the sculptor, having created some of the most radical forms in modern sculpture, making those works just as profoundly influential and inspirational today. [ Continue reading ]

Yann Kebbi

Paris-based illustrator and artist Yann Kebbi has been among our favorites from the moment we discovered his immaculately executed raw style in The New Yorker some years ago. His color pencil drawings are one of a kind: combining hard, sketched lines that mark his figures, buildings, streets and anything else that make up his captivating (city) scenes, overlaying them with clouds of primary colors to give the depictions warmth, but most importantly Kebbi excels as a master of the act of omitting to complete his works. His drawings seem joyful at first glance, but always show another mysterious layer of wry- and sometimes even sadness, to be observed within his perfect bursting chaos of lines and colors, which infinitely seem to fascinate us.

In recent years he continued on the particular stylistic road that gathered him international acclaim very quickly, but Kebbi also seriously challenged himself by exploring new areas. One of these explorations was the introduction of watercolors to create similar scenes as he had been doing with pencils, but this time implementing rich areas of color and even using similar techniques as, another one of our favorites, Dutch artist Rop van Mierlo does — for instance in the project 'Howdy – drawings of America', created together with his friend Idir Davaine, in which they portray their travels through the USA. His most recent 'Monotypes' series (brought to our attention two weeks ago by It's Nice That) shows a more radical development going beyond lines as the markers of his depictions, using monotype printmaking. A medium used before Kebbi by iconic French artists like Degas, Matisse and Picasso, being a technique of printing layer by layer, to create a single unique print — proving to be another discipline in which Kebbi succeeds marvelously to bring his unique artistic vision to life. [ Continue reading ]

Fair Game

Kes Richardson at FOLD Gallery

Last month, one of our favorite abstract painters working today; London-based Kes Richardson, returned with an exciting new solo show, which took place at another favorite of ours from the English capital: the FOLD Gallery. With his new paintings, exclusively created for the exhibition given the moniker 'FAIR GAME' that ran for a month until the beginning of October, Richardson breaks out of the grid structure that formed the mold for the nine paintings for his debut solo exhibition named 'Garden Paintings' from 2013 (which became our introduction to his abstract work) showing a new depth in his abstractizations and the exploration of radical new imput on and even outside of the canvas — resulting in some of his most intimidating creations until date. [ Continue reading ]

A Sunday as a Sunday

Rinus van de Velde at tegenboschvanvreden in Amsterdam

At the beginning of this year, one of our favorite artists working today; Rinus Van de Velde, presented the impressive 'Donogoo Tonka' exhibition at the Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst in which he brought his one-of-a-kind, overtly rich artistic vision on the world around us —built up from many layers of signature charcoal strokes— to the contemporary art museum in Ghent. At the beginning of this month Van de Velde returned with already his next show (at the same time some of his work is also on display as we write this at Tim van Laere Gallery Gallery in the group show 'Take Care, Amigo'), this time at his Amsterdam-based gallery tegenboschvanvreden — forming a new, not to miss, chapter in the ongoing display of unique talent from the self-described drawing-obsessed artist. For the exhibition, named 'A Sunday as a Sunday', the Antwerp-based artist has created a new series of drawings, focussing specifically on the theme of the antihero, having stopped the prominent portrayal of himself in his works, which marks an important new direction. [ Continue reading ]

29 Flags

Cali Thornhill DeWitt at Eighteen in Copenhagen

For most of the last 15 years, Cali Thornhill DeWitt's name was only known in artistic circles, despite the fact that he's been deep in pop culture's (edgier) inner circle from a very young age. The Canadian-born grows up in the San Fernando Valley, goes on tour with Courtney Love's band Hole as a youngster, even briefly lives in Seattle —working for the royal couple of grunge as Frances Bean Cobain's nanny (plus appearing in drag on the actual cd of Nirvana's 'In Utero' album)— and at the age of 19 he moves to New York City. Two years later he returns to Los Angeles, where he starts working as an A&R at Geffen and eventually co-founds his label Teenage Teardrops, alongside Bryan Ray in 2006 (which now a days also houses a publishing branch and is run by the artist together with his wife Jenna). In this period, halfway the first decade of the 21st century, DeWitt also begins expressing himself visually, soon finding a signature genre of visual poetic work, which we feel could be best described as Gangster Holzer, also strongly reminding of the inspirational work of Eike Koenig. From that period on the multitalent has been creating a diverse field of output: from music video's, album artwork, photography projects to radio shows and numerous publications — establishing himself as an artist with the cool of a rock star, always pushing himself in finding new areas for his artistic expressions.

We fast-forward to 2014, when DeWitt creates a sweater for his friend Joerg Koch, founder and editor-in-chief of 032c. After having been a respected name in the LA art scene for about a decade, showing his work all over the globe, it is then that the name Cali Thornhill Dewitt would transcend its familiarity in just the art world, entering the pop cultural realm. DeWitt's present to Koch is one of the artist's creations inspired by the memorial sweaters worn mostly by Mexcian-Americans after a beloved family member or friend has passed away, which DeWitt had been creating for his art shows before, sporting his poetry in signature gothic letters on the back and front. For Koch he creates a commemoration to the late troubled actress Romy Schneider, because of their shared nationality. At the time, the leading German culture magazine is in the middle of getting its merchandise operation going, and Koch decides that he likes the sweater so much that a small run is reproduced for sale (including the typo in the German text). Today it's in its third (or fourth?) run, available at high end web-boutique ssense (before selling out, again) where Koch is editor-in-chief since 2015, and even though the sweater being not as scarce as it once was: it's still worn by some pretty cool people.

Some months after the Romy Schneider sweater is first released by 032c, another wearable creation of DeWitt becomes a prop in pop cultural history, when Kanye West wears a oversized 'DONDA' sweater to that launch of Jay-Z's music streaming service Tidal in March of 2015. Although at that time very few know that DeWitt has created that particular sweater, it forms the official start of the extensive collaboration between pop culture's current loudest (and most ambitious?) voice and the Canadian artist, so far including a commemoration to Kobe 'Mamba' Bryant and several complete 'collections' of The Life of Pablo merchandise, having had site specific pop-up sub-items all over the world in 2016. And although, even today, probably less than more people actually know who's the artistic visionary behind their much-hyped Pablo sweater, the name of Cali Thornhill DeWitt can be found all over the internet's pop corners since last year — for the first time making him somewhat alike the people he has been so close to since his teenage years (although maybe even being nolens volens...)

Fortunately his new status hasn't stopped the artist in putting his own projects (it probably helped/will help in the future) out in any way, with a new exciting body of work being presented at Copenhagen-based gallery Eighteen next Thursday the 13th of October. Named '29 Flags' the exhibition takes its departure in recent American history, with a prominent role for its most famous icon: the Stars & Stripes. The series consists of 29 vintage USA flags, with flock lettering, in various sizes and from various time periods and places. Each work refers to a specific iconic events in American (cultural) history; from the death of Marilyn Monroe, The Waco siege, Elvis comeback concert, The cult of the Manson family, Traci Lords’ underage porn, The Unabomber to the trial of O.J Simpson. [ Continue reading ]

Manifesto of Doubt

Last year we had a clear favorite out of all the graduates that left the Dutch art academies in the person of painter Jurre Blom, who we will write about again in the near future. This year is was a little bit harder to distinguish an undisputed favorite while visiting the different graduation shows, but after the passing of some months it is safe to say that artist and illustrator Jan Hamstra's project 'Manifesto of Doubt' resonated the most.

Hamstra graduated as part of a highly talented Illustration class of nine from the Groningen-based Academy Minerva, being the most politically outspoken artist of the lot. Having cut his teeth while interning at two artistic icons; Berlin-based illustrator Henning Wagenbreth and Oslo-based woodcut artist Thomas Kilpper, Hamstra's forsees a path somewhere in between the two, working with a raw impactful aesthetic signature focussing on precarious personal and societal (political) issues. The latter being an artistic ambition slowly turning into a rarity these days, with Hamstra proving the point that it continues to be amongst the most interesting and urgent fields for artists to reflect on.

His graduation project exemplifies all of his ambitions, having both a strong personal and political layer distilled into a captivating form. Every image of the book 'Manifesto of Doubt' is printed by hand, using intensive woodcut technique, which has been the technique Hamstra focussed on for the last two years at the academy. The left and right side of the diptychs form two components of a whole, standing in dialogue with each other. All images explore the theme of (political) resistance as found in the last 80 years of human history, portrayed from Hamstra's individualistic perspective, measuring ideology and terror with his conscience — resulting in a remarkable project promising a lot for the talented artist. [ Continue reading ]

Don’t Start With The Good Old Things
But The Bad New Ones

Adam Broomberg & Oliver Chanarin at C/O Berlin

South African artist duo Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin became instant favorites of ours from the very moment when we discovered their thought-provoking 'King James Bible' project in the Summer of 2013. The duo works with the eyes of anthropologists, infusing concept within concept —steadily provoking the spectator to research and contextualize their creations beyond the first encounter— in their often raw edged creations rooting directly from the dark side of human life. The inspirational C/O art institute, which for instance brought the incredible 'Beneath the Roses' by Gregory Crewdson and Peter Lindbergh's 'On The Street' exhibitions to the German capital, just opened another must visit, this time featuring the incredible work by Broomberg & Chanarin in the exhibition given the moniker 'Don’t Start With The Good Old Things But The Bad New Ones', featuring two iconic projects in which the duo highjacked two seminal books: Bertolt Brecht’s War Primer, and The Bible (which formed our introduction to the duo's work, as stated earlier), using them as vehicles to explore the documentation, dissemination, and currency of such images within in the media.

The artists juxtapose passages of text, which contain concrete acts of violence, with images, that are often shocking in their violence or tenderness. Images mined from the Internet or The Archive of Modern Conflict function as a means to inhibit a simplified consumption of both text and image. In this way the artist duo challenge our viewing habits, and force us to become a critical observers, unable to passively lose ourselves in the spectacle. [ Continue reading ]


Henrik Strömberg presented by Grundemark Nilsson Gallery

Next to the beautiful 'Invisible Machinery' series by Japanese photographer Toru Ukai, we had one undisputed favorite series of work on display during last weekend's Unseen Photo Fair: the incredible 'Statues' by Swedish born and Berlin-based Henrik Strömberg. In all the images of the photographic artist one encounters the world, remote, removed, almost as if disappeared. Places become difficult to locate, plunged into darkness, half empty rooms, left-behinds; and in the case of the series as seen in Amsterdam deformed statues. In his series 'Statues', which was one of the two series on display in Amsterdam, he took his vision to the iconic shapes of ancient sculptures, deforming them to a new austere composition, from which results this certain inward-looking nature, a deep and universal self-reflection. His view penetrates the invisible, seizes it and gives it a shape. A connection is created between the inside and the outside, the true essence of things and the mere sense of things — resulting in a new shape and aesthetic that both attracts and repels, but never fails to captivate.  [ Continue reading ]

Jake Scharbach

'THE ECHO’S DECAY' opening on the 14th of October at the Brilliant Champions Gallery, New York City

On the 14th of October, New York City-based Brilliant Champions Gallery will present 'THE ECHO’S DECAY', which will be already the fifth solo exhibition in New York by American painter Jake Scharbach, whose incredible work we only recently discovered. 'THE ECHO’S DECAY' includes a selection of recent paintings representative of the artist's richly complex content and visual imagery — bringing together an eye-pleasing modern color palette, oftenly the juxtapositioning of remarkable iconic imagery in diptychs, portrayed in a realist style infused with an intrinsic pop cultural dimension. [ Continue reading ]

Erin D. Garcia

Feeling like the perfect hybrid of the figurative, finer, work of Dutch illustrator and artist Jordy van den Nieuwendijk mixed with the abstract strokes of Moroccan-French artist Najia Mehadji, but instead of paper or canvas put on display in the most impactful majestic size of murals — we really appreciate the work of Los Angeles-based visual artist Erin D. Garcia, who's been creating some of his most impressive projects over the course of the last three years. Erin’s geometric abstractions derive from a mother structure of stacked blocks and volumes rendered in a series of colors. He deconstructs this architecture of color into a simpler lexicon of lines, arches, and curves in an ongoing search of other primary structures, which he names elements.

Effortless in appearance, his work is a calculated process of designating, defining, arranging, and permuting elements and colors with algorithmic thoroughness. Lines that edge triangles appear completed, but upon closer look, are actually disconnected and superimposed with unmet corners. When applied directly in the public sphere, as Erin has been doing frequently in recent years, a new dynamic is added to those inherent qualities that make up his elements, both from the (sharp-lined and edged) buildings, but more so the context that lays around them. It results in the most playful and powerful display of Erin's talent, empowered directly by what has inspired its aesthetic in the first place: the beauty and color palette of the Californian sunshine. [ Continue reading ]

Sculpting Scent

Zuza Mengham collaborates with Laboratory Perfumes for London Design Festival 2016

As we are (to our great excitement!) almost wrapping up (and therewith will be able to finally share) the complete perfume project we have been working on in the last months —which without a doubt turned out to be one of our favorite assignments in the last few years— we would like to share another project that deeply inspired us. Scheduled for presentation during the London Design Festival 2016 from the 15th until the 25th of September at The Conran Shop, in the project created for the festival British artist Zuza Mengham collaborated with fragrance house Laboratory Perfumes, which we wrote about last year, on a highly inspirational artistic exploration of the relationship between scent and the other human senses.

Taking the brand’s four scents: ‘Amber’, ‘Gorse’, ‘Samphire’ and ‘Tonka’, along with a soon-to-be-launched fifth called ‘Atlas’ — Mengham translates intangible fragrances into solid forms with a series of signature resin sculptures. Literally it means that Mengham took the individual notes of the scents and translated them into the sculptural, creating unique blends of colors, angles and effects in incredible crystal-like resin sculptures. ‘Samphire’ becomes an interplay of light through layers of translucent resin; the fresh scent of ‘Gorse’ inspired a clear yellow hue and eponymous beans of ‘Tonka’ are represented in slabs of slate. ‘Sculpting Scent’ additionally celebrates another big moment for the in 2012 launched Laboratory Perfumes with the launch of their fifth scent:‘Atlas’. The fragrance is built around the aroma of pipe tobacco, with layers of rum, vanilla, hay, and fresh ozone top notes inspired by the scents of Morocco’s Atlas mountains, translated into a deep blue intertwined with purple piece by Mengham, reminiscing of that moment right before nights fall in the warm desert of the North African country.

We are in awe of this deeply romantic artistic exploration by Mengham and Laboratory Perfumes, bringing fragrance into highly remarkable physical forms. [ Continue reading ]

Alex Bierk

Recently we discovered the stunning work of Canadian painter Alex Bierk via Tumblr, which keeps resonating in our minds strongly ever since. Born into a Toronto-based family of artists -his brothers Nick and Charles are also painters, his brother Jeff a photographer- all sons of the now deceased realist painter David Bierk have chosen to follow his example into the arts. In the case of Alex (and Charles) even his technique of braking (photo-)realistic paintings down into a grid while painting them was passed on. Before pursuing his own career in the arts, Alex worked as Kim Dorland’s studio assistant, after which he started his personal journey into painting under the mentorship of his father, who proved to be a inspiring formative force in his son's early artistic practice.

David Bierk's death in 2002 marked the beginning of a particularly challenging period, lasting four years, in which substance abuse shook up the whole Bierk family and Alex in particular. After eventually kicking the habit and making the subject matter (mostly on a level that is not immediately apparent, but reveals itself after some inspection or contextualization of the images) of his experiences in addiction part of his work, the career of Alex slowly starts to take shape. He begins all his paintings by re-working and re-framing photographs from his everyday life, in early years particularly focussing on his years addicted, but in recent years stretching beyond just that part of his life. The scenes he depicts, mostly in dark tones of black and lucent shades of white, tell stories about the acceptance and defiance of the passing of time, faith, youth and escape, regret, dissatisfaction, displacement, lack of closure, loss and longing. Without a doubt, just seeing it on a computer screen doesn't do the work justice,  but until the day that we will be able to see his work first hand we will keep looking at these pieces in awe with an utmost fascination. [ Continue reading ]

50 Masks Made in America

The exhibition of '50 Masks Made in America' by Belgian artist Christophe Coppens at the ever-inspirational Please Do Not Enter ended a little under two months ago, but we can't but still share one of the most impressive projects we have encountered this year, despite failing to do so at the time of the two month stretch when they were actually on display in Los Angeles. Let's hope that the masks will travel somewhere else, anyway...

From May until July, the leading (hidden) concept store/gallery presented the very first Los Angeles exhibition of new works by Coppens, who's former master milliner and in the last decade primarily works in the fields of fashion and the arts, creating special sculptural projects. As the title clearly suggests '50 Masks Made in America' featured 50 new, mixed-media sculptural masks, all made by hand especially for the exhibition by the now Los Angeles-based Coppens. These wearable objects are informed by the artist's unique background at the intersection of couture and performance, and present surreal observations and commentary on his recent relocation to Los Angeles from a European perspective. Having created some of the most haunting and at the same time remarkably beautiful creations, which represent the country they portray in a way which will leave an undisputed (ever?)lasting impression on its spectator.

Coppens on what drove him in his creations:
I’ve been raised with American culture and pop culture, but now that I’ve been living here for three years I see so many faces, so many layers. These masks accompany my journey, far from home, making a new home in a place that feels so familiar and yet so incomprehensible. [ Continue reading ]

Shows You

Haw-lin's Jakob Klein and Nathan Cowen at HVW8 Gallery Berlin

On the 22nd of July, Berlin-based duo Jacob Klein and Nathan Cowen, the creative forces behind the ever-inspirational online mood board Haw-lin and the accompanying studio Haw-lin Services, presented their very first solo exhibition in Germany at the HVW8 Gallery in the German captical in a collaboration with adidas. For the exhibition, named 'Shows You', Klein and Cowen will showcase a selection of spacial and graphic imagery that reflect their eclectic and detail based process. The German and American creatives founded their online moodboard Haw-lin when they met in 2008 while both working at Eike Koenig's inspirational Berlin-based design studio HORT and started working for clients some years after as Haw-lin Services, building on the reputation they had gained all over the world through their excellent curation of imagery and art projects/collaborations that were created under their Haw-lin eponym. Now for the first time, the exhibition 'Shows You' has created a physical overview of their working process across different mediums and the way Jacob Klein and Nathan Cowen communicate content, which resulted in a unique insight into the minds of these highly inspirational minds, who we hold in the highest esteem.

When in Berlin this Summer, make sure to drop by HVW8 before 'Shows You' closes on the 3th of September of this year. [ Continue reading ]


Aldo van den Broek at Galerie Ron Mandos

Although the official run of the exhibition ended last week, the highly inspirational show named 'FERNWEH' presenting the latest works by the Berlin-based Dutch artist Aldo van den Broek, continues to be open by appointment at the Amsterdam-based Galerie Ron Mandos until the 20th of August. Giving those who have missed it a last chance to see, what we feel is one of the most interesting exhibitions of the Summer to be found in Amsterdam. Recurring themes in all of Aldo van den Broek's dark and mesmerizing work are history, underground, punk and romanticism. His creations characterize the world where he lets architecture and people meet. He is fascinated by the urge of people to strive for safety and freedom simultaneously and the deconstruction that usually follows. Travels and experiences bring valuable inspiration to his work. His researches brought him to Berlin, where he has been living since 2010, but also the post-communistic suburbs of Belgrade and Tbilisi.
Aldo’s work reflects his interpretation of purity and beauty within ugliness. Therefore, he choses to work with wasted materials with no apparent value. Used and re-used by himself, or found on the streets and abandoned places. By literally using his own past failures as a beginning for his new works, these different themes are constantly transforming and melting together till they reach their final appearance. [ Continue reading ]

Toshio Saeki — Selected Works: 1972 – 2016

We are catching on at the very last moment, but the super exciting second Canadian exhibition of work by 'The Godfather of Japanese Eroticism' Toshio Saeki will run for one more day at the Toronto-based Narwhal gallery. Presented in the successor of the 2014 debut exhibition of Saeki's work, which took place in the same location, are original ink drawings from 1972 to the present, including three new original drawings exclusively for this exhibition. As part of the exhibition Saeki has recreated one of his most famous scenes and recolored it to create 'Ureshidaruma', an edition of 100 silkscreen prints available only through Narwhal (and online here). Saeki’s artwork draws from the basement of a collective subconscious, depicting universal taboos through surreal narratives and dark humor. Filtering imagery from his photographic memory and childhood experiences through imagination and dreams, Saeki splits open a universally erotic world where iconic characters subject themselves to grotesque behaviors staged within traditional Japanese environments. [ Continue reading ]

Zwischen Luv und Lee

Stefan Zsaitsits at Galerie Trapp

We are big fans of the very gifted Austrian artist and illustrator Stefan Zsaitsits. Having an extraordinary strong signature running through all his work, the artist who's still based in his country of birth, creates captivating dark pencil drawings of mostly childlike figures in which he oftenly seems to hybridize particular thoughts and emotions directly on or with the body part which is involved. The highly delicate and at times slightly repulsive raw images evoke a sense of unsettlement, although there is also great beauty to be found even in the smallest details, sometimes under a layers of scratched pencil marks — underscoring the many, at times literally, layers one finds in his thought-provoking creations. As of recently he has moved beyond just the pencil (after having worked with paint some years ago too) and in his latest works color —mostly a blood colored red— is thoughtfully applied, creating another level of depth in his depictions. A collection of these latest works open for the public today, in the Salzburg-based Galerie Trapp, where Zsaitsits presents his newest creations in an exhibition named 'Zwischen Luv und Lee'.  [ Continue reading ]

Your Space or Mine and Joe Cruz

British artist Joe Cruz has been a favorite of us for the last few years, from the very moment we first encountered his incredible collages somewhere in 2012. In 2013 we found ourselves very lucky to have collaborated with him for Journal de Nîmes Nº 9 and we followed his development with every new step. Over the course of these years in which we had Cruz on our radar, he continued to challenge himself. Finding new territories for his imagery in which he applies his distinct signature style, which can be typified by his incredible use of color, iconic fashion imagery and ethnic influences, combining the different elements into his signature visual language — whether in collages, textile designs, illustrations, the remarkable ongoing collaboration with photographer Jack Davison. Last week he presented his first project placed directly in the public sphere. For the new series Cruz has teamed up with London-based Jack Agency, resulting in the latest addition to their ongoing 'Your Space Or Mine' project. The collaboration sees the agency support Joe Cruz, as he showcases his work at the largest scale till date, directly on the streets across his hometown London, in the Shoreditch area, for the first time. Bringing his familiar signature aesthetic, with its fashion photography influences, to a billboard size proves to be a perfect fit.

We can only hope for more after this whole new scale for Joe's unique vision... [ Continue reading ]

The aesthetic life of Michaël Verheyden

Visiting the immaculate world of Belgian designer Michaël Verheyden

It was a very long time coming when three weeks ago we finally met one of Belgium’s most exciting contemporary designers; Michaël Verheyden, in his beautiful home on the edge of industrial city Genk, in a green area towards neighboring Hasselt. Last year, Verheyden debuted as one of the names on Wallpaper* Magazine's Power List —underlining the widespread international recognition for his work— but even before that moment we were very curious to learn more out about his creative vision, basically from the moment we discovered his work in the beginning of 2015. The first appointment we made to get together dated back to March of this year, but time after time we were forced to reschedule due to different emerging obstructing circumstances on both sides. Eventually, we got in the car and finally traveled to the Belgian province of Limburg on a Friday afternoon in the beginning of June. Right after a period of extreme rainfall, which caused a lot of problems in the North of France and different parts of Belgium.

When we arrive Michaël is still in his jackboots, having just taken care of some minor water damage in his garden shed workplace –the one for heavier work– because of that rain. It is very clear that he isn’t too impressed by the damage though. In his mellow voice, speaking in the local soft toned accent and with lively eyes behind his spectacles, he tells us: “it will be fine.” A sentiment he continues to embody throughout our conversation during and after his guided tour of the wonderful house he calls home together with his wife and business partner Saartje Vereecke. [ Continue reading ]


Sarah Faux at Stems Gallery in Brussels

At the beginning of this month the Brussels-based Stems Gallery has opened yet another great show in 2016. After it presented 'apocatastasis' by Greek artist Panos Tsagaris in January, now, for the first time in a solo exhibition, they created a show named 'Gemini' featuring new work by the very talented American painter Sarah Faux.

According to astrology the Boston-born is a Gemini (who are characterized for a violent temperament) which forms a starting point for this show. Without being a devout believer in astrology, Faux does strongly believe in the idea that a single person contains multiple selves — resulting in a exhibition full of pairs. 'Torn at the shoulder' and 'Into her inner' are mirrored reflections of each other. In one a woman looks back at her own naked body through scraps of fabric. In the other, her image is overwhelmed by a deep green field of desire. Calm versus anxiety and openness versus impediments. In a looser pairing, 'Dig me in' and 'Dig me out' derive their compositions from twisted aloe stalks winding through the surface of each canvas. Both are meditations on painting itself: a tongue lapping up a twisted gray to reveal intense ultramarine behind it; hairy legs shooting through pink gaps, leaving smears of umber in their wake.

In all, the dynamic created by pairing pieces as the described example, ensures a captivating exhibiting, in which even different pairs seem to communicate with each other filling up the space of the Stems gallery, catching every visitor that enters..
Like doppelgangers, the twins in this show harken back to each other in ways both familiar and strange, providing one another with company while eerily unsettling any static notions of sensory life. [ Continue reading ]

Life in refuge

Today, on World Refugee Day 2016, UN refugee agency UNHCR released its latest annual global trends study and the numbers are shocking. The words 'refugee crisis' have been used continuously over the last few years in The Netherlands, and throughout Western Europe for that matter, yet with every encounter they slowly seem to lose their representation of urgency. With the new numbers being released, for us, it's very clear now that the problem hasn't been more urgent, ever. And that, despite European politicians seeming to hope that the problem will dissolve by itself at one point or another and all that needs to be done is to stall until that moment, without any structural solutions being enforced. Today's numbers leave no room for misinterpretation. 'Refugee crisis' is currently predominantly being used for the flow of Syrian refugees into Europe via Greece, yet the 'crisis' clearly is a worldwide phenomenon, in which we feel that we all should help a little to find a way to tip the momentum in the opposite direction than its been moving towards for a little while now.

As of the end of 2015, 65.000.000 men, women and children were forced from their homes by war and persecution last year, leaving, one in every 113 people a refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum at the end of 2015, according to the numbers just released by the UN. These numbers rose sharply compared to last year, increasing from 59.500.000 in December 2014 to 65.300.000 in December 2015. This means that every minute 24 people are being displaced. It also means that if the 65.300.000 were to be counted as the population of a single country, it would be the 21st largest in the world. Quite shocking indeed.

In order to just raise a tiny little bit awareness about the current precarious situation, on a day like today, we would like to share the latest work by Chinese dissident Ai Weiwei, being exhibited in Athens at The Museum of Cycladic Art (MCA) since the 20th of May. Ai Weiwei’s collaboration with the MCA begun in 2015 and following the Museum’s invitation, the artist visited Athens as well as the island of Lesbos. He has since set up a studio on the island to create art that will draw attention to the refugee crisis in Greece. The MCA will be donating 10% of all exhibition proceeds to two NGOs; Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) and the Greek NGO METAdrasi, who are providing valuable aid to the refugee crisis in Greece. [ Continue reading ]

Olafur Eliasson Versailles

Opening today, the great Danish-Icelandic visionary Olafur Eliasson returns with another prestigious show taking the exhibition of his creative vision to the next level, being located in the most remarkable environment until date — having been the home of cutting edge art and design from different eras since the moment it was finished by French King Louis XIII in 1623: Château de Versailles. Herewith he follows the likes of Jeff Koons, Takashi Murakami and Anish Kapoor, amongst others, who in the modern art program that started in 2008 have brought their vision to France's most famous chateau and gardens.

Earlier shows by Eliasson in contexts like the Louisiana and Fondation Louis Vuitton underlined that he is undeniably part of the most influential artists of this time — the show in the Versailles could be seen as a marker that he will continue to be seen that way even in the far future. Seeing the highly aesthetic creations full of narrative by Eliasson in the historically charged context, having (and still does so) housed centuries of French aristocratic splendor, forms a fascinating clash of representational icons of different stretches in space of time, without it feeling unnatural in any way. The different creations that can be found in the estate, partly having been created exclusively for the exhibition, came to life in Eliasson's head while wandering the grounds, sometimes alone at night, when no one was around. Among the most impressive creations is the structure named 'Waterfall', fulfilling an original idea of the 17th Century landscape architect André Le Nôtre, which couldn't be realized at the time when the Château and its gardens were originally constructed. Finishing a story which first grew in someone's imagination centuries ago and seeing the for the artist familiar immaculate execution of such idea hits a delicate nerve, which inspires us deeply.

Looking backwards, sketching out what lays ahead.

Make sure to travel to Versailles and step into this remarkable collision of past and future before the show closes on the 30th of October. We will. [ Continue reading ]