Sunday, 14 July 2019

Interview with Callum Hüseyin

14/07/19
Interview with Callum Hüseyin

Callum-Hüseyin (b1993, London) is a composer, conductor and pianist. His work frequently takes the form of collaborations, the most recent of which sees him working with the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) and the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra (RPO) to create an – as yet – unfinished piece, which is being used in a fundraising campaign to help complete a new building, the Centre for Cancer Drug Discovery, in which the ICR can carry out further life-saving work. The composition, entitled Let’s Finish It, is available on SoundCloud,and there is a music video, showing the musicians and the building site, on YouTube. The idea is to complete the “symphony” at the same time as the building and to perform it in full at the opening. In order to write the music, Hüseyin has immersed himself in research and reading, as well as speaking to the scientists, incorporating their stories into the score. 


Studio International spoke to Hüseyin about the collaboration, the process of creating a musical score, and the challenges of being a musician today.

Read the full interview here







Thursday, 27 June 2019

Interview with Ibrahim El-Salahi

28/06/19
Interview with Ibrahim El-Salahi
Pain Relief 
Saatchi Gallery, London
7 June - 18 July 2019

While the main part of Saatchi Gallery, London, is closed for installation, I – somewhat ironically – pop along to visit Pain Relief, a one-room exhibition by the Oxford-based, Sudanese artist Ibrahim El-Salahi (b1930). I say “ironically”, since, thanks to a sprained ankle, I am on crutches and have to hobble up and down numerous staircases, taking the back entrance to the gallery – rendering my own myriad forms of pain relief less than adequate. Nevertheless, the end goal is worth it: a splendid 13 large canvases – mainly monochrome in black and white, with some blue and red – depicting abstracted figures, some quite Arabic, some more western and Paul Klee-like, and others appearing to grow roots, stretching far into the ground on which they stand, asserting their physicality and corporality. 

The canvases – unique monoprint paintings – have been transferred through silkscreen gauze from El-Salahi’s small-scale drawings in pen and ink, made on the inside of the packets of medications the 88-year-old artist takes for sciatica and chronic back pain. Fourteen of these original drawings are on display in a vitrine, looking at first glance like intricate doodles in comparison to the much more minimalist and bare large-scale canvases. My own favourite, Pain Relief (2019) – on display in both forms – is a blue, black and red work, depicting a head and torso, with the rib cage detailed to show each joint and its connection to the spine. On the righthand-side, a wheel-like construction, and, at the top, squirls and swirls, symbolise, for me, the concentrated, continual cycle of chronic pain. 

In an essay in a new publication on Francis Bacon, Semir Zeki, a professor of neuroaesthetics, discusses the brain’s privileged facility for recognising bodies and faces in preference to other objects, even when they are distorted or mutilated. He also acknowledges our unconscious ability to read the emotion of fear. These observations seem to more than carry over to El-Salahi’s work, with its uncomfortable, discomfited figures and the emotion, or feeling, of pain – recognisable universally and instinctively. 

I spoke to El-Salahi by email as he prepared for the exhibition. 


Read the interview for Studio International here





Wednesday, 19 June 2019

Interview with Julie Cunningham

19/06/19
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

Spotlight: Stratford-Upon-Avon

05/06/19















Book review: Drawing in Tintoretto's Venice

05/06/19











Preview: Grete Marks: An Intimate Portrait at Pallant House Gallery, Chichester

05/06/19







Interview with Ifeoma U Anyaeji

05/06/19





Published in the summer 2019 issue of Art Quarterly

Interview with Raffi Kalenderian

04/06/19
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.




Read the full interview here







Friday, 31 May 2019

Review of This Is What It Is To Be Happy at Paulilles Gallery, London

31/05/19
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 with Petra Bauer

30/05/19
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.



Read the full interview here





Tuesday, 14 May 2019

Interview with Nye Thompson

14/5/19
Interview with Nye Thompson 
CKRBT
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.




Read the full interview here






Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Review of Chihuly at Kew: Reflections on Nature at Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, London

08/05/19
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




Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Edvard Munch: The Graphic Works

10/04/19
Edvard Munch: The Graphic Works

Edvard Munch: love and angst
British Museum
11 April – 21 July 

Although best known today for his paintings, it was through his graphic works that Edvard Munch made his international name. This exhibition at the British Museum, London – the largest of his prints in 45 years and compiled in collaboration with Norway’s Munch Museum – brings together some of his most iconic images, and reunites a number of prints with their matrices, elucidating the various processes involved in their making. Norwegian Arts looks at the artist’s experimental use of lithography, etching and woodcut.


Norwegian artist Edvard Munch’s inscription at the foot of an 1896 black-and-white lithographic print of his iconic painting The Scream (1893) – ‘I felt the great scream throughout nature’ – is almost as soul-wrenching and shudder-inducing as the world-famous image itself. According to Giulia Bartrum, the curator of the British Museum’s forthcoming exhibition, ‘Edvard Munch: love and angst’ (11 April to 21 July), the wide-mouthed figure shown covering his or her ears, long assumed to be screaming, might, in fact, be hearing the scream rather than uttering it. The full title of the work, The Scream of Nature, similarly supports this standpoint. Either way, the very fact that such discussion is still ongoing, 126 years after the painting of the picture, shows the enduring appeal and intrigue of the Symbolist artist’s work. This lithograph will be one of more than 80 works on display, primarily comprising prints, from the period between 1894, when Munch first began experimenting with graphic media, and the first decade of the 20th century. During this time, Munch travelled a lot between Kristiania (modern-day Oslo), Paris and Berlin. It was in Berlin that he made his first print, aged 30. 


Read the full feature on the Norwegian Arts site






Monday, 25 March 2019

Spotlight: Milton Keynes

25/03/19






Published in the spring 2019 issue of Art Quarterly, and online here



Preview of Dorothea Tanning at Tate Modern

25/03/19



Published in the spring 2019 issue of Art Quarterly

Review of John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing at Two Temple Place, London

25/03/19
John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing
Two Temple Place, London
26 January – 22 April 2019

With the bicentenary of his birth on 8 February this year, there is, deservedly, a renewed interest in the Victorian polymath, John Ruskin: a writer, whose collected publications run to 38 volumes; an art critic; an artist; a teacher; a social commentator; a collector; and, importantly, a supporter of artists. His anniversary is being marked by a plethora of exhibitions around the country, including several at Brantwood (his final home in the Lake District); Ruskin, Turner & the Storm Cloud: Watercolours and Drawings, which is touring from York Art Gallery (29 March – 23 June) to Abbot Hall Art Gallery, in Kendal, on the edge of the Lakes (12 July – 5 October); and John Ruskin: Art & Wonder at the Millennium Gallery, Sheffield (29 May – 15 September). The latter is a further iteration of the exhibition, John Ruskin: The Power of Seeing, currently on display in the neo-gothic mansion, Two Temple Place, on the Embankment, London, which celebrates primarily Ruskin’s intentional legacy, the Guild of St George. 



Read the full review here




Saturday, 23 March 2019

Interview with Miriam de Búrca

23/03/19
Interview with Miriam de Búrca

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Through her work, Miriam de Búrca (b1972, Munich) seeks to draw attention to burial sites in Ireland known as cilliní, where, as recently as the 1980s, anyone deemed unworthy by the Catholic church of a burial in consecrated ground was laid to rest – or, rather, not to rest, since theology teaches that their unblessed souls remain for ever in limbo. These unfortunate and unknown strangers include stillborn or unbaptised babies, unmarried mothers, those who have taken their own lives, the mentally ill and excommunicates. The absence of headstones adds to the wilful desire to make people forget and to suppress this long chapter of Irish history. But De Búrca believes it should be remembered – those buried should be remembered – and, by making careful drawings of the plants growing on the graves and, in the process, paying absolute attention to detail, she seeks to pay back some of the attention that those buried have been denied. Having finished with the sods of earth in her studio, she then returns them to the graves, hoping further to show a sign of respect and return some of the lost dignity. 



Watch the interview here

Interview with Joy Gerrard

23/03/19
Interview with Joy Gerrard

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Working with hand-ground Japanese ink, Joy Gerrard (b1971, Dublin) makes small drawings and large canvases depicting bird’s-eye views of mass protests, here specifically anti-Brexit and anti-Trump marches from June 2018. Consciously working from media images – primarily stills from helicopter footage – which she collects in their hundreds, Gerrard selects those images that she will turn into her monochrome drawings, getting to know the image and memorialising it in the process. From these, she then may select a couple to work up into a large canvas – using the same medium, but to very different, almost abstract effect. This time, she works from the drawing, concentrating on areas of tone and shade, creating a strong composition, built up in small sections. Overall, her aim is to make visible the masses who attend these protests, which she strongly believes canmake a difference. Her work not only takes protest – and remembrance – as its themes, but it is, in itself, a form of protest.



Watch the interview here



Interview with Mary Griffiths

23/03/19
Interview with Mary Griffiths

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Mary Griffiths (b1965, the Wirral) has long been making drawings of (frequently derelict) industrial sites. A year and a half ago, she was introduced to Astley Green Colliery, a former coalmine in Lancashire, which was closed in 1970 and knocked down but for its winding house and headgear – rare examples of 1908 working-class engineering. Spending time at the site, walking around the surrounding geography, reclaimed by nature with trees, grass and mosses, and talking to the volunteers (the colliery is now a museum), Griffiths filled myriad A6 sketchpads with figurative drawings, focusing on aspects that intrigued her, from details of the machinery to a visiting colony of pigeons. From these drawings, she then extrapolated her larger abstract works, made on plywood, with layers of acrylic gesso, and even more layers of graphite, pushed into the board and burnished, before being cut into with an etching needle. Using thousands of straight lines, placed at minutely different angles, she creates an oscillating effect reminiscent of the surface geography of the region. One work, Wild Honey, for example, represents the seams of the coalmine, the waterways and the main roads. Griffiths sees her work as “an identification of the remarkable work that was done in industrial areas” across the country, and it is important to her to capture something of the “gravity and splendour” of the working-class engineering.




Watch the interview here



Interview with Barbara Walker

23/03/19
Interview with Barbara Walker

Protest and Remembrance
Miriam de Búrca | Joy Gerrard | Mary Griffiths | Barbara Walker
Alan Cristea Gallery, London
28 February – 30 March 2019

Barbara Walker (b1964, Birmingham) describes herself as a “scavenger” for information. She typically works on topics that are new to her, whereby she is learning and being stimulated. For this seven-year (to date) project, looking at the contribution of black soldiers to British war efforts – from the first world war to the recent and contemporary wars in Iraq and Afghanistan – she has spent time in archives, ranging from the Imperial War Museums to the US Congress, and even on eBay. Although the soldiers she draws are unknown to her, she feels they become like her children, and she gets to know them over time. Her works vary in scale, from small, often embossed pieces, to larger-than-life wall drawings. These latter are washed off at the end of the exhibition and live on only in photographs and, most importantly, people’s memories. Walker uses simple materials and methods, and her goal is to seduce the audience, and give the anonymous soldiers power: claiming a space for them and giving them a voice. Studio International spoke to Walker while she worked on her wall drawing for the exhibition. 



Watch this interview here





Thursday, 14 February 2019

Interview with Christine Lindey

14/02/19
Interview: Christine Lindey

Christine Lindey’s recent publication, Art for All. British Socially Committed Art from the 1930s to the Cold War, looks at a mid-century era of artists deeply committed to their political beliefs and prepared to voice these unabashedly through their work. During eight years of research, Lindey uncovered many new or little-known names and her finished book reveals this untold story of 20th-century British art history, presenting 30 artists and looking not only at their work and activism, but at their background, education, means of patronage and struggles to make ends meet.


I spoke to Lindey by email and telephone to discuss some of this fascinating and inspiring history and to pull out contemporary resonances and lessons that might be learned. 

Read the full interview here



Friday, 8 February 2019

Harald Sohlberg: A National Treasure

08/02/19
Harald Sohlberg: Painting Norway
Dulwich Picture Gallery
13 February - 2 June

An Yves Kleinian blue is pierced by the bright, white light of the Evening Star. Beneath it, a range of white mountains rise and fall, like drapery, almost as if breathing, or foaming like the peaks of waves. In the foreground, eerie, bare and broken trees pierce the silent serenity, forming crosses and grave markers, as if amidst the rubble of a battlefield. A vivid expression of the sublime – although, perhaps equally a precursor of the uncanny shivers of the surreal – Winter Night in the Mountains (1914) is arguably the most ambitious work of Norwegian artist Harald Sohlberg (1869-1935), and is widely considered to be the ‘national painting of Norway’. It remained his obsession for 14 years, and he produced many versions in his attempts to capture exactly what he wanted.


Although less well known outside of his home country than his contemporary Edvard Munch, Sohlberg is nevertheless being described by Dulwich Picture Gallery, London, as ‘one of the greatest masters of landscape painting in the history of Norwegian art’. Denying the influence of other artists on his work, and attributing the origins of his ‘artistic awakening’ to his own psyche, his oeuvre unites elements of Romanticism, Naturalism and Symbolism, always drawing on the Nordic landscape and its vast potential to depict both the earthly and the infinite. As Dario Gamboni describes in his catalogue essay to accompany the gallery’s forthcoming exhibition, ‘Harald Sohlberg: Painting Norway’ (13 February to 2 June), whereas Munch chose to foreground the human figure, treating the landscape as an additional expression of ‘a state of the soul’, Sohlberg focused primarily on the landscape, with the merest hint of human presence. This exhibition, which is travelling from the Nasjonal Museet, Oslo, marks the 150th anniversary of the artist’s birth and will be the first solo exhibition of his work outside of Norway. 


Read the full feature for Norwegian Arts here





Tuesday, 15 January 2019

Review of Painter. Mentor. Magician. Otto Mueller and his Network in Wrocław at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin

15/01/19
Painter. Mentor. Magician. Otto Mueller and his Network in Wrocław
Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin
12 October 2018 – 3 March 2019 
and
Muzeum Narodowe we Wrocławiu
8 April – 30 June 2019

Otto Mueller was born in 1874 in Silesia – then a part of Germany, now a part of Poland. From 1907 to 1919, he lived in Berlin, where, from 1910 until its dissolution in 1913, he was a member of the group of expressionist artists known as Die Brücke. In 1919, Mueller moved to Wrocław (then Breslau), where he taught at the State Academy of Fine Arts and Crafts – deemed to be “the liveliest in Germany” in the 1920s – for more than a decade, until his death in 1930. This exhibition, which shows first at the Hamburger Bahnhof – Museum für Gegenwart – Berlin before travelling to the Muzeum Narodowe we Wrocławiu, is the outcome of a German-Polish research project, and explores the life and work of Mueller, considering him in the roles of painter, mentor and magician, but it simultaneously celebrates the lively exchange between the two cities up to the end of the second world war – and, indeed, beyond. This is done in part through the contextualising of Mueller’s work alongside that of his contemporaries – from the Bauhaus, der Sturm, and the myriad other movements and schools thriving in the early 1900s – but also by the inclusion of so-called “guest exhibits”, spotlighting works of Polish expressionism and neo-impressionism.


Read the full review here




Wednesday, 9 January 2019

Interview: Elmgreen & Dragset

09/01/19
Interview with Elmgreen & Dragset 

Since unveiling a decaying public swimming pool as part of their major overview exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery back in September, Elmgreen & Dragset – the Berlin-based, Scandi artistic duo comprising Michael Elmgreen (b1961, Copenhagen) and Ingar Dragset (b1969, Trondheim) – have been the talk of the town. Their often parodic and playful work, of course, was already familiar to Londoners and tourists alike (even if the artists’ names remained unknown), as their 4.1-metre golden sculpture of a boy on a rocking horse, Powerless Structures, Fig 101, had regally crowned Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth for 18 months from February 2012 – throughout the London Olympic Games – attracting largely positive responses, including from British actress Joanna Lumley, who unveiled the piece, describing herself as ‘thrilled’ to be revealing such a ‘completely unthreatening and adorable creature’ to the public.


Read the full interview here





Tuesday, 8 January 2019

Review of Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna at the Royal Academy of Arts, London

08/01/19
Klimt/Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna
Royal Academy of Arts, London
4 November 2018 – 3 February 2019

The year 2018 marked the centenary of the deaths of two of Austria’s best-known and best-loved modernist artists – Gustav Klimt (1862-1918) and Egon Schiele (1890-1918). Although Klimt never formally taught Schiele, the younger man was widely thought of as his protégé, and, by the time of Klimt’s death from pneumonia, following a stroke, in February 1918, Schiele was acknowledged as his successor. Tragically, he, too, was to die, eight months later, in the flu pandemic. Although both artists left behind a great number of paintings, the core of each of their practices was drawing, which constituted a fundamental daily activity for them. Klimt left more than 4,000 drawings – most devoted to women; Schiele, in his short life, created 3,000 drawings and watercolours. The Graphic Art Collection of the Albertina Museum in Vienna, founded in 1776 by Duke Albert of Saxe-Teschen, holds a large number of works on paper by both men, and, for this centennial collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts – one of many international anniversary exhibitions – 100 drawings have travelled to London, where they are displayed in largely chronological thematic rooms, interweaving the stories and progress of each artist.


Read the full review here