Friday, 19 August 2016

Review of Georgia O’Keeffe at Tate Modern

Georgia O’Keeffe
Tate Modern
6 July – 30 October 2016

When one thinks of Georgia O’Keeffe (1887-1986), one inevitably pictures her enormous flower paintings, cropped close and magnified large, so that, as one might well think next, if familiar with the legend, that they look like female genitalia. Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro certainly perpetuated the idea of a “female iconography”, writing about O’Keeffe’s work in the 70s, but, already at the time, the photographer Alfred Stieglitz (1864-1946), also O’Keeffe’s husband, was propounding this interpretation, hinting at erotic content and offering psychoanalytic readings of her paintings. It is unavoidable, then, in writing about O’Keeffe, that the topic of female sexuality should be touched on, but it ought not to be dwelled on, since, take it or leave it as one possible interpretation of her work, it is but that. Certainly many of her paintings do evoke sexual imagery, but as Roxana Robinson points out in her biography of O’Keeffe: “The vulval imagery in O’Keeffe’s flowers […] is something for which botany should take the responsibility. Flowers do bear structural similarities to human reproductive organs, and this has more to do with the process of reproduction, both horticultural and human, than with the suppressed or expressed sexuality of an artist who paints the image of a flower.”1 O’Keeffe herself also always remained adamant: “When people read erotic symbols into my paintings, they’re really talking about their own affairs.” So, not only is this legend a myth, but there is so much more to her life’s work than just these particular paintings.

Read this review here

1. Georgia O’Keeffe: A Life by Roxana Robinson, published by Bloomsbury, 1990, page 282

Music – Pink and Blue No. 1, 1918
Oil paint on canvas, 88.9 x 73.7 cm
Collection of Barney A. Ebsworth
Partial and Promised gift to Seattle Art Museum
© 2016 Georgia O'Keeffe Museum/DACS, London

Monday, 1 August 2016

Interview with Lamia Joreige

Interview: Lamia Joreige

Lamia Joreige (b1972) is a visual artist and film-maker who grew up in Lebanon during the civil war (1975-1990). She makes work about her own and others’ experiences, creating a new collective history, aside from the one presented in the media. Using archival documents and oral histories, she interrogates the notion of truth and explores the aftermath of war in her city, Beirut.

In 2011, Joreige’s work Objects of War [No 1 to 4, 1999-2006], a series of video testimonials and personal possessions, was the first major piece of Lebanese art to be acquired by the Tate Collection.

Joreige is one of seven artists to have been selected to show in the Artes Mundi 7 exhibition (21 October 2016 – 26 February 2017), the UK’s leading international contemporary art prize, from which a winner will be selected in January 2017, to receive £40,000, the UK’s largest monetary prize awarded to an artist. In the run-up to the exhibition in Cardiff (jointly held at the National Museum Cardiff and Chapter art galley, Cardiff), Joreige explained some of the concepts behind her work in a Skype call from Beirut.

Read this interview here

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Review of Niki de Saint Phalle: Je Suis Une Vache Suisse at Omer Tiroche Contemporary Art

Niki de Saint Phalle: Je Suis Une Vache Suisse
Omer Tiroche Contemporary Art
17 June – 10 September 2016

At first sight, Omer Tiroche Contemporary Art is filled with a menagerie of joyful, celebratory and colourful works: gouache paintings and crayon drawings; sculptures and reliefs studded with coloured glass mosaic; ornate mirrors and intricate yet simple jewellery – all infused with a sense of playfulness and naivety, like that of a child. But look more closely and there is more to the works on display than meets the eye: a gorilla with a gaping hole where his internal organs – including his heart – should be; serpents; skulls; and a satisfied lion, recently having feasted on a man, whose shirt and shoes lay abandoned by the miniature settee. Catherine Marie-Agnès Fal de Saint Phalle, or Niki de Saint Phalle (1930-2002) as she became known, had a traumatic early life, which later unavoidably fed into her artwork, making it more worldy-wise and complex than it might at first seem.

Read this review here

Tuesday, 19 July 2016

Interview with Mariko Mori

Interview: Mariko Mori

In an interview with Studio International in 2013, Japanese artist Mariko Mori (b1967) said that the main intention of her work was to share the idea that we are all connected and we are one. In 2010, she had co-founded the not-for-profit Faou Foundation, which sets out to gift monumental art installations to promote environmental awareness around the world by installing site-specific works on each of the six habitable continents. She is currently installing the second of these works, Ring: One With Nature, suspended at the top of the 58-metre-high cascading Véu da Noiva waterfall in Muriqui, Mangaratiba, in Rio de Janeiro State, Brazil. Although a permanent gift to the nation, the work will be unveiled as part of the cultural programme surrounding the Rio 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games. Signifying oneness, completeness and eternity, Ring certainly embodies Mori’s and the Faou Foundation’s ethos.

In a Skype call from Brazil, Mori spoke to Studio International about the ideas behind Ring: One With Nature and how they have been realised.

Read the interview here

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Interview with Francesca Pasquali

Interview: Francesca Pasquali

Francesca Pasquale: Metamorphoses 
Tornabuoni Art
29 June - 17 September 2016

Francesca Pasquale: Spiderwall 
MOCA London 
3 - 30 July 2016

Influenced by Italian art in general, and arte povera in particular, Bolognese artist Francesca Pasquali (b1980) creates fully immersive – often site-specific – installations, using everyday and industrial materials, reappropriating them and bringing them into the public’s realm of vision, and of the other senses too. Involving the public in the work of art is part of what it is all about for Pasquali, and she enjoys the interplay of movement, sometimes engendered by the person, sometimes by the material itself.

Showing in a commercial London gallery for the first time, Pasquali has created a large-scale, colourful, plastic cloud in Peckham’s MOCA London, and filled Mayfair’s Tornabuoni Art with a cross-section of her works, from her best-known pieces made with drinking straws, to a carpet of broom bristles, on which we sit to talk, during a break from installation.

Watch the interview here