Reykjavik Public Art

During winter holidays I had the most amazing winter trip to Iceland. We started off with Reykjavik and then travelled abound – visited The Golden Circle tourist spots, explored Southern Iceland around Vik, visited the biggest glacier in Iceland, the second biggest glacier in Icelands, the third.. You got it, layers of ice, I mean, it is in the name. And finally we returned back to the capital with a stop Borgarnes. The nature was nothing like I have ever seen before. In some parts surrounding were so unusual, as I  am imagining walking on Mars would be. It was very tricky to see Northern Lights due to constantly changing weather: sunshine, rain, hail and snow in random order changing every 5-10 minutes.

Art-wise, Reykjavik is filled with sculptures and street art. It is a small city but you have a great variety of art decorating the streets. From classical sculptures to avant-garde , in variety of sizes.

Street art:

Even the airport has small decorative touches which made it very cosy.

Outside Reykjavik sculptures appear randomly. Some small villages so not have anything at all, but in the middle of nowhere you bump into sculpture. For example at the oldest lighthouse in Iceland, on the west from Reykjavik we unexpectedly saw this penguin sculpture. There was nothing in miles from that lighthouse and that penguin.

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This sculpture of two men is placed by Geysir park, which is a part of Golden Circle.

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Art is not the first thing that comes to your mind when talking about Iceland, but it definitely adds to the environment and culture!

No commission

Southwark Arches transformed into a gallery space during 3 days in December (8/12/16-10/12/16) to accommodate “No Commission” art exhibition. Its title speaks for itself – there is no commission for artists and they get full amount written on the label and they also get to exhibit for free.

This Exhibition was a mixture of art, party and music. One of the artists said that “This is where street culture meets high culture”.

Variety of artworks pop culture inspired represented many international artists. No Commission exhibition in London was the third collaboration of Dean Collection and Bacardi. I visited it in the last day and almost all the artworks were sold!

The atmosphere was relaxed and people were clearly enjoying themselves. The entrance was free, you only had to register. This event was nothing like I have been to before, I think it was a success. Would definitely go again if it pops up.

 

Ivan Aivazovsky

Lately Moscow rocks with temporary exhibitions. Last winter it was Serov’s exhibition that has been extended twice due to high demand. This year it is Russian seascape painter, probably one of the best known Russian painters in the world, – Ivan Aivazovsky. His canvases are selling for hundreds of thousands by leading auction houses Christies and Sotheby’s.

Large space, dimmed light and neutral walls perfectly accommodate artworks. Large Baroque style frames add significance to the paintings and perfectly complement the colours. Pallet used for Aivazovsky paintings varies: some seascapes are captured at nighttime, some during bright day.

On the Shores of the Caucasus – 1885. Sublime. When you looking at this painting you are truly consumed by it. You can feel the power of nature and how it is greater than humankind. Although it depicts the crash of the ship, highlights on the painting give some hope and you feel like people can still escape.

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“A wave” 1889 Huge painting and not enough space in front to fully see it. However, it might be a curatorial idea – when you are standing so close you are boldly faced with the ocean and you are on the painting. Artist was particularly proud of this painting as he later said that it reflected all the years of his artistic experience.

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Abstract Expressionism

Royal Academy opens its doors to an Abstract Expressionism exhibition. It is on until 2nd of January so you have plenty of time to enjoy it. It has all big names of abstract expressionism movement from 20th century such as Pollock, Still, Rothko, Newman, De Kooning and others. Many artworks left US for the first time from museums and private collections.

When you go in you can randomly move from one room to the next, there is no certain order you should follow. Some rooms display different artist and some rooms are dedicated to one artist only.

 

Arshile Gorky 

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Minimum of conciseness, it is like watching someone else’s dream and travelling through their subconscious. Abstract paintings allow viewer to develop his own version of the paintings and everyone sees different things.

 

 

 

 

Jackson Pollock

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Male and Female

Jackson Pollock was a key figure in American Abstract Expressionism, Pollock’s Technique was a revolution in art world. Roll the canvas on the floor, dripping pain from the height straight from the can and let the gravity do its job. He put ladder above the paining and worked from height.

My personal discovery during this visit was Male and Female artwork, one of the early Pollocks works. Amazing colours and shapes interacting on the canvas.

I love how sculptures and paintings interact, the resemblance of shapes, how splashes on oil paintings repeat sculptures’ lines.

However, when you have so many similar artworks it is a bit unimaginative and repetitive. So from curatorial point of view it might be better to display less works but a greater variety.

 

Clyfford Still 

Still was working mainly with pallet knife. When you walk into the room you are stomped by the size of the canvases. Monumental works. It’s about nothing and everything at the same time.

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Public Art in Munich

Oktoberfest is a massive attraction and people are travelling from all over the world to try delicious beer and become a part of national celebration. I was very busy drinking beer but on my way from the hotel to the Oktoberfest park with the pavilions I came across different sculptures.

I noticed many bronze animal sculptures and they had some body parts shinier than others, I assume that it’s because people are rubbing them for luck.

Many beautiful fountains are decorated with sculptures.

One of the best places to find public art in Munich is the subway. Unfortunately, I did not have a chance to check it out myself but I heard many positive reviews. In Munich subway stations are the platforms for collaboration of government with artists, architects and designers. Since 1980s it was the place for artistic expression of contemporary creators. The best lines to explore are U1 and U2.

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Next time I am in Munich I will definitely spend less time on beer and more time on exploring the artistic side of the city.

Frieze Masters

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When I attended Frieze Masters two years ago it was not as popular as Frieze and the quality of art works was amazing – every artwork was a masterpiece. This time it was as more crowded and less engaging. I missed this years Masterpiece, so I can not compare these two art fairs.

All leading galleries participated showcasing multimillion art pieces. Wide range of art could satisfy any visitor: you could have found sculptures, canvases, icons, porcelain and antiques. Masterpieces by Picasso, Magritte, Fontana, Bacon and other well known artist were presented by different galleries. Old Masters galleries preferred conservative display of their artworks – either white walls or dark walls with light directed on the paintings.

I also want to point out the difference between Frieze contemporary ad Frieze masters and how two very different groups are targeted. In contemporary art fair the food offered was mostly pizza and sandwiches – food to go and on Frieze Masters you had more sophisticated options – oyster bar, champaign bar and high end Japanese restaurant.

Altogether it was more pleasant experience comparing to the main fair. And it is a great opportunity to explore masterpieces that belong to private hands and are rarely displayed to general public.

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.