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.

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!

French Riviera

French love their public spaces, large squares, promenades, wide streets, cities are designed for long walks and time outdoors. No matter how large or small cities are they all have stunning art decorating public spaces. Art is in form of installations, sculptures, fountains and elements of architecture. You can find both: contemporary and historic art pieces, so you can find something for every taste.

French Riviera was a popular destination for many artists in 19th and 20th centuries. Seascapes and landscapes are very inspiring and many artist captured them in their works. You can see art everywhere – in museums, in public spaces and even in hotel lobbies. Some hotels have great art collections and their lobbies look like museum halls.

South of France is different from the North, it has much more colours. Buildings are painted in warm pastel colours with contrast window-blinds. Climate is amazing and sun makes everything shine.

In this post I will share photos and thoughts on public art in different cities of French Rivera. Throughput French Riviera architecture is pretty similar and there are some similar art pieces. However each city has its own identity and style.

Nice

Nice is the biggest city in south of France, it has historic centre and modern parts, it has many parks and a promenade alongside the beach. The Massena square is famous for contemporary art pieces – seven luminous human sculptures on poles. This installation was created by Spanish artist Jaume Plensa and is called “Conversation in Nice”. Seven figures represent all the continents and how people are communicating and living with each other. Unfortunately I only have day photos but at night these sculptures light up with different bright colours. There are many opinions about these sculptures but they are so integrated in the landscape that it is impossible to imagine Nice without them!

There are many large scale sculptures in Nice, there are very conceptual and surprisingly big. There are less colourful and cutting-edge contemporary sculptures in Nice, or I just have not come across them much.

Airport Nice Cote D’Azure deserves a special mention, there are some interesting artworks inside the airport.. So that is the first thing you see when you arrive or it is the last chance to admire french art before you go.

Cannes

Main promenade along the coast is a perfect place for evening walks: Ferris wheel, ice cream tracks, sweet stands and small stands with souvenirs. There is a square with plenty of improvised art booths by local artists and it looks like an open air art gallery. Diversity of style as and techniques is amazing! I am very picky about abstract art but some of the artworks really caught my eye. Even if you are not shopping for art, it very entertaining to wonder from stand to stand and admire different textures, views and styles. You can also talk to the artists because usually they are presenting everything themselves and occasionally paint or sculpt on the spot.

 

 

For those of you with sweet tooth, french artist Laurence Jenkell strewed French coast with giant candies. These sculptures are crafted in different sizes and from different materials like plexiglass and marble. Candies spread all the way from Monaco to St Tropez, you can see it out in the street or in hotel lobbies, there is one sculpture with French and EU flags as candies wrappings is displayed in Nice airport.

Public Art is not everything that south of France has to offer. French Riviera is filled with art museums. Chagall’s museum and Matisse’s villa museum in Nice, Picasso museum in Antibes, latest Renoir’s home in Cagnes-sur-Mer, national museum of Fernand Leger in Biot and many more. You can easily spend days exploring art.. Cote D’Azur is a magical place with fantastic views, so many artist are still coming there searching for inspiration.

 

Art in Monaco

Monte-Carlo

Monaco is luxury. Do not get me started on yachts, sports cars, restaurants, clubs and bars.. It is also very pleasant to walk and enjoy picturesque views. Monte-Carlo is very clean and beautiful: plenty of green spaces, promenades and beautiful buildings. Since this is an Art blog rather than Travel Blog, I would focus on the public art that I came across in Monte-Carlo while travelling.

Public Art is very diverse. You can find artworks in variety of colours, materials, sizes and from different time periods. Monte Carlo combines historic and contemporary glass-based buildings and it looks organic.

Monte Carlo casino is the main landmark of Monaco and its most recognised and iconic buildings. It is THE casino featured in Bond’s movies, Ocean’s Twelve and even animated movies Cars 2 and Madagascar 3! The building is a masterpiece itself but I was captured by steel sculpture in front of it. This is “Mirror Sky” by British artist Anish Kapoor. His style is quite recognisable and he has created many sculptures for public display, including huge sculpture for Olympic Games in London a few years ago. This 2.5 meter piece reflects the image upside down to the viewer. To my taste, such contemporary polished steel peice  looks stunning with a 19th century building on the background.

There are some artworks that are very specific to Monaco and highlight Monegasque culture. For example there is a bronze Race car sculpture to celebrate Formula 1 track which spreads across Monaco.

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Along the back of Grimaldi Forum there is a sculpture path from Footballers footprints, which is called “The Champions Promenade”. Each sculpture is a bronze panel with name, date, footprints and signature on it of an exceptional football player. In fact, it is a prize and only once winner is selected each year and his footprints get added to the promenade.

 

Even a sign board is decorated with beautifully carved bronze frame!

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Monaco is very artistically rich. Although the country is tiny, only 2.02 square kilometres, it has a huge variety of museums and galleries. They even have Stamp and Coins museum! Art Market is also busy in Monaco, there are some annual art fairs, like European Art Fair, which passed in July and an upcoming art fair Art Monaco in October.

Francis Bacon

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The Grimaldi Forum, Monaco, has composed a solo exhibition of Francis Bacon. Thematically there are two major topics in the exhibition – one is relation of Francis’s wont to other artists such as Picasso, Giacometti, Léger, Lurçat, Michaux, Soutine, Toulouse-Lautrec and others and second one paintings inspired by Monaco and French Riviera. The exhibition is on until 4th of September, so you still have a chance to see it.

This exhibition was warmly welcomed by critics and the job of curator Martin Harrison was highly recognised. I was expecting so much from my visit and I have to say, I was disappointed. To my surprise I admired the artworks and rediscover Francis Bacon as an artist but from my point of view presentation did not do justice.

First things first – the space was dark. It was obviously curatorial idea, but it did not work. Narrow projected light in a dark room works great with jewellery as precious stones ‘play’ under the light. In this case, bright colours were lost because of the poor lighting. Some rooms were entirely dark and light was concentrated only on the painting. Primarily the exhibition is about artworks and finding the most interning way to display them.

Painting descriptions on the walls were barely visible, you have to try hard to be able to read the card. Descriptive passages on the wall were written against dark grey walls and it made it impossible to comfortably read it.

However, the artworks were incredible. Throughout the exhibition you can see how Bacon’s style evolves. In his early years  he was associated with many artists, especially with Picasso, as Francis was finding his own voice, he was inspired by other artists, however, in his later years he developed his distinctive independent technique.

In his late years Francis painted a lot of portraits especially diptychs and triptychs, you can see many sets gathered in the exhibition, some of them came from museums and majority came from private collections.

The exhibition was not crowded and photography is allowed, which is rare for temporary exhibitions. I can share my thoughts, for those who are interested why photography is mostly prohibited. As majority of works are loaned from private hands, collectors usually do not want their works to be photographed so they agree a loan on specific terms. Even if one artwork from the whole exhibition can not be photographed, the museum will not tolerate any photography.

Towards the end of the exhibition there was a room – imitation of Francis Bacon’s studio. The idea was great but execution not so much. It should have been closed space rather than only walls and it should have had more large scale prints with original photos integrated. Wooden floor covered with paint would have created a great atmosphere.. I think that full recreation would be more suitable and spectacular rather than 4 photos and 2 wallpapers. Do it good or do not do it at all.

The final part of the exhibition was interactive screen, you can take a photo in photo booth and the place it on the wall, it was very entertaining and fun to do. You can either take a picture or upload from your phone and then you can apply different filters resembling Francis Bacon’s photographs.

Gift shop was very advanced, there was a photo booth, where you can take picture and then print it on the t-shirt, iPhone case or just have it printed in mini series.

Some people from our group really enjoyed it, it is surely worth visiting!

Saint Paul de Vence

Saint Paul de Vence is one of the oldest Medieval towns in South of France. It is absolutely charming with narrow streets and breathtaking views. It spreads on top of the hill and surrounded by a wall. The whole region is a bit more than 7 squared kilometres and the village itself is even smaller. We completed full circle in less than an hour..

I have not even tried to go into any art galleries because there are just so many of them. However I took some pictures of the entrances for you to have an idea. Some galleries occupy ground floor, but some have historic stairs leading to lower ground floor. It looks very charming and inviting.

Marc Chagall, who lived in Saint Paul for 20 years, is buried on the local cemetery and people leave small stones in circle on his grave.

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Many restaurants and hotels have incredible art piece hanging on the wall, like Chagall, Picasso, Matisse. Saint Paul de Vence is also called city of artist. In 20th century this small village was the destination for painters, filmmakers and writers.

You can discover many artistic elements while walking in the town, many doors and gates have interesting pattern, some houses are decorated I even saw painted letterbox. Street signs are also artistic and written in a cheeky font, it adds to artistic atmosphere of the village.

Bruges

Bruges is a magical city – narrow streets, canals, squares it all looks like an illustration for a fairy tail. It has a been a very short stay so I did not have time to check out the museums but I still admired a some art while wondering in the city. There are many small galleries, sculptures, street artists.

There were many sculptures in squares and parks, as well as artists working on the street and selling  their paintings with beautiful Belgian landscapes and street views.

I came across a small toy shop with hand made items, the clocks were beautiful! It were truly pieces of art.

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

Chelsea Flower Show

And it is that time of the year again! Time for Chelsea Flower Show, this year the show was  on from 24th until 28th of May and the winners have been announced. Chelsea Flower Show is also known as Great Spring Show and is a yearly event since 1912. It is the most famous gardening show in the United Kingdom and probably in the whole world. People are travelling to the UK just for a day visit, this is how good it is! The show was extended from four days to five couple of years ago and its area was expanding due to its great popularity.

To be honest, I liked last years show more than this years. But it is my personal taste, garden designs were a bit too messy. I know this is the trend now – garden looks like it is naturally grown rather than planted but I prefer it to be more neat.

Flower part of the show was amazing! It looked like this years theme was Brazil, so you can see a lot of compositions inspired by famous Brazilian Carnival and upcoming Olympic Games.

There were many galleries showcasing different garden sculptures and one particular caught my eye. Robert James is a workshop producing garden sculptures, water features and miniatures. All sculptures are the characters inspired by myths, fairytales and legends. There are many characters from Alice in Wonderland such Cheshire Cat, White Rabbit, Queen of Hearts, Caterpillar and of course Alice. There are also characters from Winnie the Pooh, Dodo and Peter Pan. Bronze sculptures are beautifully executed with great amount of details and they are reasonably priced: prices vary from as low as £180 to £16,000 for cold cast and up to £70,000 for a hot cast depending on the size.

This year Cutting-edge garden designs, great variety of flowers, beautiful compositions. See for yourself! I took many pictures.

P.S. When you want to take a tea break and have some snacks there is a large area with restaurants and you can enjoy your meal while listening to some opera and live classic music!

The World Through Women’s Eyes

In the very heart of Moscow one of the main boulevards – Tverskoi Boulevard is used as exhibition space. Every quarter or so the exhibition changes. This time it was an exhibition of contemporary photography – The World Through Women’s Eyes. All photographers showcased are women. It is rare, let’s be honest, considering that majority of photographers are men; but this is a step forward. 

There is a verity of themes: family, nature, architecture even cars. Each section out of ten consisted of 7 photographs by one artist. It is a shame that some descriptions were limited and did not give any background on a photographer. 

I liked some works, however, some did not look so professional to me. It looked like someone abused Instagram filters… 

The exhibition is placed in open air and absolutely free. It allows everyone who is passing by to stop for a minute and admire contemporary photographs. It is a good way to spread beauty and educate people.