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Riga International Biennial of Contemporary Art is a new art event in 2018 calendar. This Biennial is developed from the ground by a friend of mine, Agniya, who did an amazing job of bringing together exciting curator, artists and gathering solid art crowd.

During the Frieze Week a creative team of RIBOCA came to London to announce the concept of the Biennial – “Everything was forever, until was no more”. The concept reflects on ever-changing world around us, even things that seem so solid and fundamental.

Many historic buildings will come to live on 2nd of June to house artworks made not only by artists from Baltic states but also international creators. This is an amazing chance to introduce Riga’s cultural, historical and socio-political context and its surrounds.

So clear calendar for June and book your trip!

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Canvas of matches

People have hobbies: travelling, collecting, painting, playing sports, music instruments. Hobby takes your mind of things and make your routine less monotonous. In my spare time I like  baking, making something with my hands, drawing and painting, I particularly enjoy using pastels. From time to time I have an artistic mood and desperately want to create something. During one of these times I finally put together my collection of matches.

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I have been collecting boxes of matches from across the globe for more than a decade. I always wanted to put them together somehow, once my collection became big enough. It is amazing how something small and simple – box of matches –  can be found in so many styles. You can see variety of shapes of boxes, different combinations of wood and sulphur tips colours. I started collecting matches when I was in school and then my friends and family started bringing me matches when they travel, so my collection grew. When I moved to London I took my collection with me and it turned out that many people in the UK collecting boxes also. So I acquired some old British matches that are no longer produced. It is forbidden to smoke indoors across Europe now so hotels, bars and pubs no longer manufacture branded matches and I have many of boxes like this in my collection. I found some box of matches at a flea market in France the box was dated before World War II.

In a way box of matches can be compared to stamps, the surface is about the same and the image is used for different purpose. Majority of matches are made as a marketing tool, they promote the place (hotel, restaurant, bar) or they promote the company (airline, tobacco). However, there are thematic boxes that promote something specific such as national sportsmen, ships or national monuments.

So I put together a canvas of matches, sorting them by colour from light to dark. This collage of matches consists of more than 150 boxes and features matches from 15 different countries.

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I still have plenty of boxes left, enough for another canvas like this. Probably will do it some other time.

Galleries and Public Spaces

Commercial Art market slowly integrates into our everyday lives. It is now common that art galleries use commercial spaces such as restaurants and hotels to display their artworks. What is in it for both parties?

Obviously, by displaying artworks outside commercial gallery space, artists, artworks and galleries get better exposure to the public. Artworks are seen by hundred of people visiting the premises. Furthermore when the art piece is displayed against white wall of a commercial gallery customers can struggle imagining it in their homes; when they see the piece in the interior of a hotel room, artwork might looks more appealing. However, there are downsides of displaying artworks in public spaces because the attitude toward the artwork may be defined by the reputation of the restaurant/hotel/bar etc. So galleries should carefully select where to display artworks.

Public place are getting prestige and decoration. Terms with galleries may vary, but usually  these places get a very good terms. The only downside I can think of is if their customers damage the artwork, but this occasion should be agreed beforehand.

The example of such collaboration is Neo Bankside, property development, has Emily Young‘s sculptures from Bowman Gallery, displayed around the houses. Emily is a British boss artist who started her career as a painter and then found her style in sculpturing. Her sculptures are displayed around the houses, next to trendy restaurants and most importantly next to Tate Modern. So this is an amazing exposure for the artist, being seen not only by residents of the buildings, customers of the restaurants but most importantly by Tate visitors.

From my point of view, this collaboration between galleries and commercial spaces is a great phenomenon for the public. They get to learn and admire different artists and be surrounded by beauty.

Mother’s Day Special

Today is Mother’s Day and I want to congratulate all mothers, grandmothers and mothers-to-be. Being a parent is a beautiful thing and it has been portrayed by many different artists throughout art history. Artists expressed admiration for motherhood in variety of ways – some artists, like Van Gogh, created portraits of their mother and you can see tenderness and love in paintings; some artist captures the most intimate moment of mother and child – breastfeeding; and many partners and photographers captured mothers during pregnancy.

I would like to list top five my favourite artworks that celebrate motherhood.

David Hockney – My Mother

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This is the collage made from photographs portraying Davids mother at the graveyard. Mothers face is deeply moving, it makes me sympathise with her. Laura Hockney was often subject of her sons artworks, he admired her strength and character.

A. Suvorov and A. Izmodenov – Sailor’s Wife

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This sculpture is proudly displayed in port of Russian city Novorossiysk. This bronze artwork has many unofficial titles, one of them is “Mother and Child”. Sculpture symbolises all wives and mothers waiting for their beloved mariners to return from the sea.

Gustav Klimt – Hope, II

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Klimt has many paintings portraying pregnant women, mothers and children and Hope II is my favourite. It is beyond words beautiful and very deep. The painting is about life, death and hope: every new life is hope.

Howard Coster – Mother and Child

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Howard Coster was a British photographer of the end 19th and beginning of 20th century. This vintage bromide print was created in 1930s and now is displayed in National Portrait Gallery. There is something about mothers’ eyes and smile that makes me look at it and admire.

Anna Rose Bain – The Wait and the Reward

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Anna is a contemporary artist and a mom of two beautiful girls. She has many portraits of her children as well as self portraits during pregnancy. I think Anna captures feeling perfectly, that tenderness and love that mother experiences when waiting for her baby.

teamLab

Pace Gallery displays teamLab exhibition Transcending Boundaries from January 25 until 11 of March. TeamLab is a group of Japanese technologists who experiment with technology and art. They create beautiful displays using projectors, LED screens, light and sound.  Some installations are interactive and visitors can control them with smartphones. TeamLab has many permanent displays, ongoing and upcoming exhibitions across the world. If you are lucky enough to be around one do not miss your chance to see it. I am sorry to say but tickets for Pace Gallery are completely sold out. Even though the admission is free, there are allocated time slots to manage the viewings. Exhibition space is rather limited there are only three small rooms, so they only let 20 people at a time.

I was lucky enough to get in and I really enjoyed it. There are three rooms and 8 artworks – 6 artworks in the first room, one in the second and one in the third. First room is the most impressive because artworks have no boundaries and the whole room becomes a thee dimensional canvas.

The star piece is the “Universe of Water Particles, Transcending Boundaries” which is a projection of waterfall on the wall. TeamLab studied behaviour of particles in the waterfall to create the same floe in the artwork. Projection is not limited by the wall space and waterfall is spilt onto the floor. The trajectory of the waterfall influences other artworks in the room.

Another amazing piece is “Flutter of Butterflies” which is produces butterflies across the room. It obviously looks spectacular but the artwork even more impressive if you know the design behind it. The flow of butterflies is created in real time and never repeated again, quantity and movement of butterflies determined by viewers in the room. Butterflies appear from the same place where the viewer stands, but if someone touches the butterfly it disappears.

Second room one display in it – digital image of the ocean. It was extremely calming and soothing. There is a bench across the artwork so you can sit there for a while and enjoy the view.

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Lastly, in the third room you become part of the artwork. Visitors put on piece of white material and become a canvas. This room is dark when you first enter, it comes to live only with someone in it. Peoples movement triggers the program which generates flower buds, then depending on the movement buds start to bloom and then eventually fade away. If you stay still more flowers are generated and they bloom

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Great experience. TeamLab is on my radar now and I am very excited to see what they come up with next.

Elisabetta Cipriani

Elisabetta Cipriani is a Mayfair based gallery featuring Jewellery by contemporary artists. All pieces presented in the gallery are either unique or limited and created exclusively for the gallery. Jewellery is created from precious metals by painters and sculptors. Some artists have never created jewellery before which makes the outcome even more special.

Jewellery collection is huge, even though the display room is rather small, there are many more pieces than shown on the display. More than 20 international artists are featured in the gallery so you can find a piece of jewellery for every taste: from traditional and elegant earrings and necklaces by Ilya and Emilia Kabakov to experimental massive ring by Frank Stella.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov. The Fly. 2010. Beautiful collection of earrings, ring, necklace and bracelet is made of 18k gold and precious and semi-precious stones.

Frank Stella. Ring. 2008. This is the first piece of jewellery ever made by Stella, American painter and printmaker. This ring is bold, massive and complex. Metal is 18k yellow gold is bent into cures, loops and spirals. It is truly exceptional piece, you can find anything like it on the High Street.

Giorgio Vigna. Sasso. 2015. My personal favourite was collection of brooches. They are made from different metals – copper, silver and gold platings. Each brooch is fixed by strong magnet so you can put it anywhere without damaging the material. Each piece is unique and signed. I absolutely loved it! It is a great accessory and it goes great with coats and jackets.

If you want to possess something unique, something special, Elisabetta Cipriani is definitely the place to find it. Wide selection, great designs and very helpful staff. Not only you get great piece you get the history behind it, this is why jewellery in Elisabetta Cipriani  is so special and nothing like you can find in fashion stores.

Frieze Art Fair

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I attended Frieze art fair on the last day just before it’s closing time. The fair was in Regents Park between 6 and 9 of October. During last day it was still overcrowded and felt like a supermarket with no particular order. I rarely like contemporary art and this fair was not an exception.

All works at Frieze art fair were for sale, however, I could not imagine buying anything for my home. The majority of art works were “museum type” – large scale and weirdly made. I am not an art critic, but I would never put a tower made from furniture and decorations in my living room.

In the garden before entrance there is an installation with different tights stretched across tree branches and fences and continued inside the hall. The exhibition was a part of Frieze Project and created by Martin Soto Climent, Mexican Artist. The idea was to transfer the entrance into a dreamy-looking spider web. I am not sure if tights was the right tool to implement the ice because the entrance looked odd.

The Modern Institute‘s booth stood out, they used garage wall to display the works. It was something different from other exhibitors and caught my eye instantly. This UK gallery has a very fresh and interesting way of displaying the art. Their gallery in Glasgow transforms from industrial to white cube and then to marble space to better capture exhibitions. Now, I really want to go to Glasgow to visit it..

Another gallery that stood out was Marianne Boesky Gallery with there white cube space.  All white – artworks, walls and floor. I think this was one of the most photographed places during Frieze, white background was a perfect setting for pictures.

This gallery looked out of place, it seemed like a stand from Chelsea Flower Show rather than Frieze contemporary. It was 303 Gallery and garden installation is by Karen Kilimnik, American artist.

Here are some artworks that made me stop and look at them. Especially photograph of a swimmer – it looks extremely powerful, full of strength and will power.

And here is a lot of weird staff..

All in all it was a good way to see what is trending and what is the current state of contemporary art. Not many artworks were marked as sold but not all galleries display red stickers. I have noticed that a lot of art was broken into pieces and also many artworks were made with everyday furniture and home appliances. And pink Barbie installation, what is that about?

P.S. Some more interesting artworks for you to see.

Thumbs Up!

Fourths plinth on Trafalgar Square is a real phenomenon – for those who do not know a bit of history would help. Trafalgar Square is the heart of London and major tourist attraction. There is a huge 52 meters height monument commemorating Admiral Harario Nelson standing in the centre of the square. There are four lion statues placed at the bottom of the column, children love climbing them! Two beautiful fountains also decorate the square. On the perimeter of the square there are four plinths, three out four display 19th century statues however the forth one remained empty. The funds run out before the last statue was completed.

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Since 2005 the plinth has been occupied by contemporary art sculptures selected by the Mayor of London’s Culture Team. There are many proposals submitted each year and only six are selected for the next stage. The mini-versions are presented to the public and then the committee decides which one of the six is going to be commissioned.

This years artist who gets to display his work in such special place is David Shrigley, British visual artist. His sculpture is called “Really Good” and it is a 7 meters tall bronze fist with thumbs up sign. Shrigley hopes that this sculpture will make a world a better place and “thumbs up” will become a self-fulfilling prophecy.

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Mayor of London was present during opening few days ago and he spoke very highly about it, he said that: “What it represents is so important – optimism, positivity, the best of us. This sculpture is so important showing Londoners…tourists…that London is open”

It is definitely a shift from a downtrodden horse by stock market to a massive thumbs up! I am very excited about a new piece of art on public display and I surely hope that it will make people smile and will indeed become self-fulfilling prophecy.

“…and the wall fell away”

It is a Frieze week, so many galleries scheduled private views and exhibition openings around it. So art community is very busy going from gallery to gallery exploring new exciting artworks and artists.

Stephen Friedman Gallery opened its doors for a private view of an exhibition “…and the wall fell away” by Yinka Shonibare MBE on September 27. This display will remain until 5th November  so you can visit the gallery any time to see the works. The exhibition is split between two spaces on the same street – one with paintings and the second one with sculptures and large painting in the front of the gallery.

The display is nice and clear, minimalistic interior helps to focus on the artworks. The artist was born in London but moved to Nigeria at the early age. However, he came back to London for collage. Yinka’s art explores race, religion, inequalities and other social issues.

Shonibare reinvents classical statues giving his interpretation with bold bright colours. His screen prints on canvas test Western religious ideals and provides personal vision of identity. Raising in Nigeria reflected on Shonibare art as he developed themes of nationality and colonial history in his art.

Marc Chagall

Museum of Marc Chagall is a gem of French Riviera. It is one of the best and intimate museums I have ever been to. This museum is the first museum that was dedicated to a living artist, it was opened in 1973 at the bottom of the Cimiez hill in Nice. This museums is unique because artist was curating it himself. So he could display everything exactly how he wanted and he fully realised his artistic potential.

The museum building was executed by Marc’s friend – Andre Malraux and was designed as a house. This is why the museum is rather small yet you can spend hours there. It is full of natural light which compliments the paintings. Marc Chagall was a music lover so he commissioned the auditorium which was build very quickly upon request. This hall has great acoustic and every year it opens to the public so they can enjoy musical concerts. Chagall decorated this auditorium with stained glass wall specially designed for the space.

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Marc Chagall lived across two centuries for almost 100 years, he was born in Liozna, Russian Empire  (present day Belarus) in 1887 and died in Saint-Paul-de-Vence, France in 1985. Chagall was a multicultural artist: he was born Russian, died French and almost became American somewhen on the middle of his life. Chagall was born in a Jewish family and attended in a Jewish elementary school. At the age of 19 he enrolled into all-Jewish art school where he started his formal art education. After several months he moved to St Petersburg to study at Imperial Society for the Protection of Fine Arts.

Even though Realism was widely popular at that time Chagall developed his own dreamy-like style using bright colours and fairy-tail like shapes. Marc Chagall evolved into a multimedia artist, largely known for his oil paintings. He understood colour like no one else and it is absolute pleasure to look at his artworks. Apart from paintings he was widely successful in making stained glass windows. Although the technique is completely different, the colours of the glass are as bright and vivid as in his paintings. His stained glass windows can be seen across the globe, in the UK, in Germany, in Switzerland, in France, even in UN building.

His artworks are so special because they combine magnificent painting manner with touching subject matter. His art reflected his thoughts and sufferings. As a Jew he experiences persecution firsthand and it reflected on his paintings. They are extremely moving and personal. You can almost cry by looking at them.. I saw people crying in the museum standing in front of the paintings.

This museum experience was very intimate and personal. Each painting is a story and you stand there in front of it and unravel it layer by layer. His artworks are brilliant on so many levels – emotionally, visually and compositionally.

The heart of the museum is a room with only five paintings displayed in panoramic manner and they were placed by Chagall himself. The paintings are from the “The Song of Songs” series. It is an interpretation of book from the Hebrew Bible that celebrates love and sexual desire between a man and a woman. In this series Chagall illustrates the three motifs of the Song of Songs: the musical, sacred and sensual. The choice of red-pink pallet represents deep sweet love but also blood highlighting the violence in Biblical story. There is a bench where you can seat and spend some time tête–à–tête with these paintings. In this room no one talks, it is awfully quiet, everyone is absorbed by the artworks.

This is an incredible museum, full of intimacy and personality. Chagall’s art is full of colours and worry at the same time. It somehow appeals to everyone and viewers relate to it. If you are traveling in Nice do not miss it!