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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“…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.

Bjork Digital: Somerset House

Screen Shot 2016-09-05 at 17.30.21Somerset House presents an exhibition Bjork Digital from 1st of September until 23rd of October which is a great example of unity of music, art and technology. It is very difficult to buy tickets on site because groups are small due to the limitation of equipment. So it is better to pre-order them online. You will be allocated a time slot and you HAVE TO arrive 15 minutes before, this is very important. Some guys arrived at 3pm for their 3pm slot and they had to wait in line with latecomers. It is very strict.. 

The exhibition consists of 2 video screenings, 3 virtual reality (VR) experiences and 2 rooms with musical instruments. For those who are not familiar with Virtual Reality it a new technology which allows you to plunge into whole new world where you can rotate 360 degrees and have a continuous picture of your surroundings.

First room you go to has two screens and surrounding sound, so depending on where you go you hear some music notes louder. The experience lasts for about 10 minutes and it is a video clip of Bjork’s song. To be honest I am not a fan of her music and this experience did not impress me at all. It is pretty much the same as you would to the cinema with good sound system. I did not know what to expect next and at that point I was a bit disappointed and did not understand what I had paid my money for.

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Once you are done, you are guided into the next room where you have your first VR experience. The assistant explains you how everything works and you put on glasses and headphones. This is when I realised what I had paid for. This experience lasts about 7 minutes and it was very engaging as you explore the surroundings while rotating on the chair. The second room is similar, you are watching the second clip there. And during the final VR experience you can stand and go around Bjorks digital projection. The technology is not THE latest, the image is a bit pixelated but it still fun.

The next room is just a screen, nothing special about that. And finale two rooms featured music instruments and their sounds. I am glad I visited it, I would probably enjoy it more if I listened to Bjorks music. So for the her fans – do not miss it! The exhibition features her works that have never been shown before and she also is going to perform in London in relation to this exhibition, for the first time since 2013.

Clocks and Watches at British Museum

вBritish Museum is one of the most famous visitors attractions in London, it is estimated that each year it opens its doors to 6.7 million people. It is hard to describe how significant and enormous the museums collection is: it covers history of human civilisation, art and culture from the start to the present. The earliest artefact in the museum is a chopping stone with origins from Tanzania which is estimated to be 1.8 – 2 million years old. British museum collection calculates more than 8 million pieces. It is the most comprehensive and multicultural collection in the world. British museum houses part variety of artefacts, sculptures, icons, chronicles, manuscripts, coins,  armoury and many more.

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In November of 2008 a new display was opened – Clocks and Watches. It is sponsored by Sir Harry and Lady Djanogly. Spreading over two rooms 38 and 39 the exhibition explores history of clock making. You can find these galleries on top of the main stairs.

The earliest piece is from 16th century  – Scottish Wall clock. It is one of the few rare pieces that have survived.

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In the middle of the first room there is a giant mechanism explaining how the clock works.

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You can see how technology develops overtime and by the end of 16th century clocks looked similar to what we are used to. In 1620 clocks became even more advanced, on this amazing “Masterpiece Clock” made in Germany by Thomas Starck, not only the time was displayed on the dial but also weekdays. There is also an indicator in dragon shape showing when eclipses are most likely to occur. There are moving dark and light shutters measuring length of day and nigh throughout the year. Unfortunately only the dial has survived but there is a picture of a similar clock from the same period.

Second room is bigger that the first and covers more time periods. The first piece you see in the centre is Automaton in the form of a ship dated around 1585. It was also produced in Germany by another famous clock maker Hans Schottheim.

There are many standing pieces, wall clocks, clocks for fireplaces. The display ends with a retrospective of pocket watches.

It you want to take a break from antique sculptures in British Museum and you want to have a look at something different you should definitely go and check out this clock collection. So many beautiful detailed pieces, I only wish that there were more explanation on how clocks and watches were invented. Otherwise it is a great display with many short video presentations.

Summer Exhibition in RA

I barely made it to Summer Exhibition in Royal Academy of Arts. It is an annual exhibition since 1769 and this year is was on since June 13th until August 21st. I visited it only yesterday a day before its closure. The exhibition features around a thousand works of contemporary artist, some of them are graduates of Royal Academy, selected by the commute from over 12,000 works. It is a multi media exhibition: you can find photographs, sketches, sculptures, oils, acrylics, watercolours, installations.. Everyone can find something to his taste.

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I am not a true fan of contemporary art but I loved the exhibition! It is the essence of a current state of art. Almost all the artworks are for sale and you can find artworks of both emerging and established artists there. Prices vary from hundreds to hundred thousands pounds. Some works are also available in editions and they are less expensive than the originals. As I visited the exhibition towards the end it is difficult for me to say how fast the artworks were sold out. When I visited I was prepared to go home with a new piece of art but all the artworks I liked were sold already.. So next year I will not make the same mistake and will try to be one of the first visitors! However, visiting in the last few days also has its advantages – tickets are half prices, as well as catalogues. So if you are not planning art shopping it is more budget friendly to wait until the last day.

Now my thoughts about art, it is an art blog after all. I will repeat myself – I loved it! So many different techniques, and subject matters. Some artworks were serious and deep, some ironic and witty. It is amazing how many everyday things were turned into art – aluminium hangers were covered into a dear sculpture, metal bottle caps, toilet seat and even a bread slice!

Even thought there were many artworks that I admired, some of them were still way too “contemporary” for my taste. I did not like the room with a lot of nudity and vulgar content. From my point of view some artworks were tasteless and too primitive.

I would like to mention some works individually.

I liked a 3D wall sculpture by Cathy de Monchaux “Migration”. It is a large artwork – 70 cm high and two meters long and is made of copper wires and bandages. Ii is an extremely detailed artwork showing migrating horses in the woods. It is very deep and it “consumes” the viewer due to its depth and large scale. The price for this artwork is £35,000.

Jimmy Cauty presented a large (183cm high) installation “The Aftermath Dislocation Principle Part 3: The Bridge”. It is a shipping container with installation inside. On each sides there are many holes on different nights through which you can see the installation. I was stuck to this artwork for quite some time as I wanted to look through every hole. Each hole gives you different angle and different elements of the crash. The figures inside are very detailed and the setting seems very real. For those who are interested you can read more about this work on the artist’s website, this work is a part of a bigger artwork which shows the whole city. Here is the video of how the container was placed inside the Academy.

Anselm Kiefer, Bose Blumen, Mixed media, 280×570. (Not for sale)

This was a very powerful installation, a tiny bit creepy, but powerful. Large scale installation with 10,00 panels with changing document-style portraits by Turkish artist Kutlug Ataman.

Thousands of screws were used to create this artwork. And it looks amazing close up! It is created by David Mach and is called “Dark Matter”. Dimensions are 224 x 117 x 92 cm and price is £82,000.

And this artwork gave me a head ache… It was very disturbing walking pass this “squashed” head. John Humphreys sculpture “David Noble Tractus”, £47,500.

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It looks like curator has a personal grudge against Clara Sancho-Arroyo as her artwork “Habanero” was placed in the least visible place.. You have to step way back to be able to see it. It is oil on canvas and priced at £2,100.

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Some walls were a little overwhelming and it was challenging to concentrate on artworks individual because there were just so many of them! But I know that the space is limited so this density is unavoidable. All in all I enjoyed the exhibition.. My apologies that my post is published when the exhibition is over. But it is an annual thing, so bare it in mind!

Georgia O’Keeffe, Tate

The exhibition of Georgia O’Keeffe, famous American female artist of the 20th century, is held in Tate Modern in London until 30 October. Georgia is famous for painting flowers, Mexican landscapes and skulls.

Personally, I found it very calm and soothing, walking through rooms with Georgia’s paintings, mostly because of the pallets she used. Sky blues, baby pinks, light green – pastel colours that work very good for the eye. Using these colours for flower paintings is the obvious choice, what surprised me was that she used the same colour for skulls.

Georgia painted a lot of flowers in a details so people can really see it. On the walls there were some quotes from the artist herself and she said –

Nobody sees a flower – really – it is so small it takes time – we haven’t time – and to see takes time, like to have a friend takes time.

From curatorial point of view there is nothing special about settings, there is a logical order of 11 rooms dedicated to different periods or themes. Apart from paintings there are sketchbooks with watercolours, showing the preliminary paintings.

The Next 100 Years

To be honest, I was not very excited about car exhibition “The Next 100 Years” by BMW but I went along with my husband, that’s what wives do! It turned out to be one of the best exhibitions I have attended recently.

The exhibition is held in the Roundhouse in Camden and is on for a short time – it ends on 26 June. It is open from 10 am to 5 pm and is free of charge.

It is created by BMW group to celebrate 100 years of the brand by introducing the vision of cars in the next 100 years. There are three cars – Rolls-Royce, BMW and Mini.

Exhibition space is mind blowing! It is the best example of technology in action – touch screens that activate when you come close to it, large plasma screens with presentations. In the centre there is a hall filled with coloured lights and large plasmas 360 degrees around the room. Entire space looks amazing and very harmonious, you feel like you are in one of the movies about technology 50 years from now..

There are prototypes of technology in motion with a voiceover of a narrative about the car: “imagine your car is not just a car, imagine it is a companion and it learns from you and adapts to a personality, your personality..”

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The main idea is that cars in the future will be fully automated and will have self-drive modes.

BMW supposably will have all the information projected on the windscreen so the entire dashboard will be removed.

Rolls-Royce’s vision of a future car is privacy with a perfect view. It looks really comfortable inside and stylish from outside.

Mini has a glass instead of a front of the car, so you can enjoy the view from the car. The shape of the car is also something unique.

Staff was extremely friendly, they were happy to explain all the concepts and walk through the exhibition. There were also an excursion in progress, as well as some tv recording. This exhibition is small, but was really exciting for me. If you have a chance – do not miss it.

Yayoi Kusama

Victoria Miro Gallery at Wharf Road presents an exciting exhibition by Yayoi Kusama. The exhibition is on until July 30th, the admission is free and there is no need to book in advance. However it can be busy, especially on Saturday, it is closed on Sundays and Mondays. There is another paintings exhibition by Kusama in Mayfair in Victoria Miro Gallery, do not mix them up!

Victoria Miro is a contemporary art gallery. The space is a traditional white cube. The exhibition spreads over three floors and back garden. Yayoi Kusama is a famous Japanese born artist and she has quite a resume! She was the artist representing Japan in 45th Venice Biennial, exhibited her artworks in Tate Modern (London), Centre Pompidou (Paris), Whitney Museum (New York) and also had a collaboration with one of the most recognised high fashion brands – Louis Vuitton.

There are three mirror rooms – one is in the garden, one on the ground floor and one on the second floor. The rooms are “space within a space” with mirrors on the walls and ceilings. Visitors are queueing outside each room and assistant lets people one at a time or group at a time, for those who came together. They only let you in for a short time, it felt like 20 seconds.

The rooms are: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, Chandelier of Grief and Where the Lights in My Heart Go. Considering amount of mirrors, you might as well call them “selfie rooms”, everyone took pictures inside (myself included).

I visited only two out of three rooms because Where the Lights in My Heart Go is outdoors and gets closed in bad weather to protect the artwork from excessive humidity.  I was told that there are some wholes in the ceiling so the daylight can get inside the room and sunbeam reflects in the mirrors. It is a shame that it was a rainy dyad we did not get the chance to go inside.

I visited All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins and Chandelier of Grief. I really enjoyed  both of them. It is a very strange feeling – being inside these mirror rooms, it felt like being in some magical space out of this world. Mirrors play with your mind and your perception of reality. Room with pumpkins was very intimate due to a very pleasant warm yellow colour of artwork pieces. Chandelier room was also very engaging, it was a bit confusing at first with all the patterns and repetitions in the mirror, but then I separated the reality from reflection.

Apart from mirror rooms there are some sculptures, paintings and a small gift shop with different books and small sculptures. It is a nice touch that all assistants are wearing T-shirts with Kusama’s signature spots pattern.


#YayoiKusama #InstaKusama

Undressed

Undressed: a brief history of underwear is an exhibition in V&A museum from 16 April 2016 until Sunday 12 March 2017, so you have plenty of time to check it out! The exhibition is positioned over two floors at Fashion Temporary Exhibition Space. The exhibition is sponsored by Agent Provocateur and Revlon and is only free for members.

Over 200 pieces of both men and women underwear starting from 18th century until present day. Underwear represents cleanness, comfort and modesty, closest thing to our body. It is personal and therefore erotic.

Through exhibition you can see how purpose and outlook of the underwear transformed over time. Long time ago the underwear was used purely to keep the body clean and over 200 years it became an erotic part of the outfit and an element of sexual play.

Women underwear is designed to highlight and exaggerate parts of the body. Corsets are designed to make the waist slimmer and bras are made for support.

On the X-ray you can see how rib cage is tighten to fit in the corset. Nowadays corsets are not the part of everyday wear and considered to be an erotic thing rather than part of the outfit. However in 1890s it was a regular underwear and the average waists were under 48 centimetres (comparing to 71 cm in 21st century).

Bust supporter – the very first model of bra – was patented in 1863. Bras shaped women’s bodies according to fashion of the time. There were periods when breasts were suppressed – in relation to the image of aristocracy, other times bigger breasts were more preferable so push up was integrated in bras. There is always the connection between underwear and fashion, underwear shapes women silhouette.

What’s the purpose of garter? Apart from throwing it on your wedding day.. In the 19th century garters were used to support stockings. Nowadays stockings have a silicon band and stick to the body and garters are no longer needed. So they stay in the culture purely as tradition and decoration.

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Lingerie is a definition of who we are, our character. Model, fabrics, colour all have different moods and perceptions. Cotton is comfortable, silk is sexy, lace is  erotic. Female readers will know – when you put on beautiful lingerie even if no one sees it, you feel more confident.

Exhibition consists mostly from mannequins with different types of underwear, however, there is also a video interview with key designers of lingerie brands such as FiFi, La Perla and Agent Provocateur.

Botticelli Reimagined

There is another great exhibition in Victoria and Albert museum: Botticelli Reimagined and this exhibition is on until 3rd of July 2016. Sandro Botticelli (1445-1510) is an important figure in Early Renaissance Art and inspired many artist throughout the history. The concept of the exhibition is to show artworks that were influenced by Botticelli’s works. There are different types of artworks: video arts, sculptures, paintings, photographs, fashion costumes as well as movie episodes. In some pieces the reference and inspiration were more obvious than in others. Inspiration and reference mostly cam from Botticelli’s most famous paintings: The Birth of Venus and Primavera. However these two painting can never leave Florence there are more than 50 original works as well as works by Botticelli’s workshop and immediate followers.

There are three sections of the exhibitions and the artworks were organised historically backwards. First section is dark, with contemporary works, the second section with older works in a beige tones and fully lit. Final section was completely white showcasing Botticelli and his workshop. White space is an unusual choice for old masters but it looks great!