Wednesday, 19 June 2019
Interview: Julie Cunningham
Julie Cunningham (born Liverpool) trained at Rambert School of Ballet and Contemporary Dance in London, before working with the renowned Merce Cunningham (no relation) Dance Company in New York for a decade, and later with the Michael Clark Company back in the UK. In 2016, Cunningham received a Leverhulme choreography fellowship and the following year established Julie Cunningham & Company. Openly gay themselves, the dancer-choreographer seeks to erase embedded patriarchal structures and fixed gender identities through dance, ensuring roles are flexible, so that nobody becomes an object to be manipulated. They are currently working on a new performance for Art Night 2019.
I spoke to Cunningham about their training, influences and processes of creation – as well as asking for some insider insight into what will be taking place at Waltham Forest Community Hub in north-east London on the night of 22 June.
Read the full interview here
Wednesday, 5 June 2019
Interview with Raffi Kalenderian
I first saw the work of Raffi Kalenderian (b1981, Los Angeles) in the Saatchi Gallery’s Painters’ Painters exhibition (2016-17), where his amazing blurring of subject and background, and use of stripes – with an almost unbelievably organic mastery – stood out and made him one of my latest artists to watch. Now, he is having his fourth solo exhibition at Vielmetter, Los Angeles – Memento Vivo – and so we took the opportunity to have a chat by email about what it is that excites him about his work, who and what he likes to paint and some of his influences, and it gave me the chance to glean a little insight into his practice.
Friday, 31 May 2019
This Is What It Is To Be Happy
A group exhibition with Eleanor Johnson, William Kennedy & Gabriel Kenny-Ryder
Paulilles Gallery, Copeland Park, Unit 91, London
29 May – 2 June 2019
In an era where mental health issues are one of the main causes of health problems worldwide per se, with major depression thought to be the second leading cause of disability, and an estimated one in six people said to have experienced some form of mental health crisis during the past week (and this data is already a few years old), the underlying thread of this three-artist group show, This Is What It Is To Be Happy, could not be more relevant. Timing-wise, too, short as its run sadly is, it falls right at the tail end of Mental Health Awareness Month.
Ostensibly, however, this is an exhibition about biophilia, or our innate love for the natural world – or at least that is how it is described on the press release. Painter Eleanor Johnson (b1994), whose original concept it was, and in whose gallery it is being held, has created a new series of works, Modern Bathers, which collages together fragments of Rubens, François Boucher, and Old Master paintings, with images of her friends, in pastel, idyllic, bucolic settings, which she describes as “forest bathing”. Photographer Gabriel Kenny-Ryder (b1993), co-director of the gallery, presents panoramas, and one series of four freely hung images, of landscapes that absorb and envelop the viewer, while, simultaneously, providing stark reminders of their created materiality. It is William Kennedy (b1993), multidisciplinary artist and, here, film-maker, who freely verbalises the fact that he came along, as the third person in, and liberally interpreted this concept of inside and out, interiority and exteriority, inward and outward experience, to be a question of the mind and body, and thus, of our mental health. His frighteningly raw and visceral works, with their phantasmagorical finish, lay bare emotions many of us will have felt, but to which fewer of us will have admitted.
Read the full review here
Thursday, 30 May 2019
Interview: Petra Bauer
Petra Bauer (b1970, Stockholm) is an artist and film-maker who explores the possibilities of women’s organising and resistance through film-making. Her usually collaborative works are concerned with feminist issues and the role of moving images in, and as, political practice. In 2015, she exhibited at the 56th Venice Biennale as part of All the World’s Futures. Workers!, commissioned by Collective in 2016, is a collaborative work between Bauer and SCOT-PEP, a sex worker-led charity advocating for the safety, rights and health of sex workers in Scotland. It presents a social space in which personal and political ideas can be aired, challenged and debated. Premiered as part of the opening week of Collective’s new home on Calton Hill, Edinburgh, in 2018, Workers! is now being shown as part of a larger exhibition including some of the research materials from the project and a banner made by SCOT-PEP and the artist Fiona Jardine.
Tuesday, 14 May 2019
Interview with Nye Thompson
Watermans Art Centre, London
22 March - 2 June 2019
Nye Thompson (b1966) came back to art after a period working with software and interface designs. Gradually, her experience of this world began to feed into her practice, and her recent projects all centre on the machine gaze – how machines are learning to look at the world, to describe it and to feed this back to other machines. Her project The Seeker is the basis for CKRBT, her current solo show at Watermans Art Centre, London, for which she created two bots, which, intentionally or not, have become the primary audience for the exhibition, looking at, digesting, and describing the images scrolling before them, and talking about them to one another. We, as human visitors, simply get in the way. A lot could be learned from this fascinating, compelling, and, if I am honest, somewhat terrifying, exhibition, and Thompson does her best to present the super-technical in lay terms, and provided a helpful information handout. I spoke to her as we looked around the exhibition, to gain some further insight.
Wednesday, 8 May 2019
Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on Nature
Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London
13 April – 27 October 2019
If, as Seneca the Younger claimed, “all art is but imitation of nature”, putting one’s works in amongst one of the most beautiful natural gardens in London – the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew – might seem somewhat presumptuous, or asking for criticism at the least. Alternatively, of course, one could take the Matissian view, that “great art picks up where nature ends”, and thus see the intervention by American glass artist Dale Chihuly (b1941, Tacoma, Washington) as a challenge and, potentially, a bidirectional compliment.
I chose to review this, his second exhibition in the gardens (the first being Gardens of Glass in 2005, so popular its run had to be extended), as a challenge to myself, being a vehement disliker of his large, florid, and certainly over-the-top chandelier at the V&A, London. I wanted to see if I could be converted to appreciate Chihuly’s work, significantly inspired by nature – both plant and sea life – when presented in such a setting. And, indeed, I 90 per cent was.
Read the full review here