David Franchi – Thursday, 7th April 2016

Catauro y la Luna / Catauro and the moon by Carlos Puente © Art Bermondsey Project Space, London.

Catauro y la Luna / Catauro and the moon by Carlos Puente © Art Bermondsey Project Space, London.

It was a remarkable exhibition “Shadows of Spain” by Carlos Puente, at the Art Bermondsey Project Space, London.

This is the first exhibition of Carlos Puente in London. At the Art Bermondsey Project Space, London, the painting exhibition of Carlos Puente could be approached without difficulty. His language is straightforward and easy to understand, consisting of primary colours, pure forms and colours. He focuses on simplicity, relating to childhood and infancy. His work represents life with basic and instinctive elements, for example love, sex, food, rage, or sleep.

His work is clearly inspired to the best painters of the twentieth century, including Kandinsky, Mirò, Picasso, Matisse, Malevič and Franz Marc. However, this blend of reminds creates something new, a personal approach of Puente. He is also considered close to the CoBrA group, the European avant-garde movement active from 1948 to 1951.

Puente met many artist of the Cobra group when working for the San Carlo Gallery (Milan) and took inspiration from them. Puente in fact, lived and worked in Italy, in Milan and Celle Ligure, where is talent blossomed.

Carlos Puente de Ambrosio is born in Santander (Spain) in 1950, in post-war Spain which was a multifaceted country. Under the fascist regime of Francisco Franco, Spain was suffering for the Civil War, the economic and social backwardness, while its cultural and artistic elites were fleeing abroad.

Art schools, usually cradles of radical ideas, were subject to surveillance. Therefore, after studying at the Escuela de Artes Aplicadas e Santander, in 1969, Carlos Puente migrated to Paris, an established Spanish tradition – for example, such as artists Picasso and Dalì.

Puente made a number of particular works before he could dedicate to his art, including plum picking, dog and cat caretaker, worker in a tannery, pigeon trainer, bank employee, in a milk product factory and launched his own ceramics atelier. His work benefited of this particular mix of works that became a source of inspiration for him.

Synthesizing contemporary art, Carlos Puente is not involved with any specific school, but rather developed his own style which is well stimulating.

The exhibition “Shadows of Spain” by Carlos Puente was at the Art Bermondsey Project Space, London, from 1st March until 1st April 2016.

 

David Franchi – Thursday, 24th March 2016.

Leave Your Weapons Here by Fredrik Raddum, 2016, Photo © Jonathan Milton

Leave Your Weapons Here by Fredrik Raddum, 2016, Photo © Jonathan Milton

The Norwegian exhibitionSkjerp Deg!” was interesting, at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London and also launched the new Projects Space.

The mix the gallery made of three different artists, such as Amir Chasson, Fredrik Raddum and Sverre Bjertnæs, was an interesting idea for the “Skjerp Deg!” exhibition by Kristin Hjellegjerde to bring Norwegianart to London.

Norwegian expression, the title “Skjerp Deg!” indicates the main theme of theexhibition at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London.

Skjerp deg’ could be translated as ‘Sharpen yourself up’. It usually means you’re making an idiot of yourself and it is used in many different situations, including telling to someone to pay attention or that is doing something silly.

The exhibition opened at the door with the intriguing ‘Leave your weapons here’ by sculptor Fredrik Raddum. It reminds of the old churches on the North Europe where there is a room to leave your weapons to get before to get in. For the artist it was a way to remember his own and his children youth when facing a difficult environment, making a parallel with the arms of old warriors. The following room displays other works such as The Nomad series or Human Excavation, confirming the distinctive uncomfortably themes of his works, forcing the viewers to question contemporary culture.

British artist Amir Chasson, instead, mainly presented paintings. Interesting was the series ‘Human Photo References for 3D Artists and Game Developers’ made of large male nude figures – nearly two metres high. These human figures represent the violence overestimated by computer games, stripped back to its most naked humanity. He said: “The work stems from my preoccupation with borders and space. This preoccupation also informs the way I want the work to be seen. The single, lone-standing figures are locked into tightly made-to-measure cropped frames, as if by accident I had run out of space. The idea was to force the viewer to look at it awkwardly from close up, rather than the conventional few steps back.”

Launching the new Kristin Hjellegjerde Projects, in addition to the main gallery, Sverre Bjertnæs showed paintings and sculptures in a separate space. Kristin Hjellegjerde Projects Space will be a way to introduce new artists to the gallery. It is an initiative that supports the organisation of pop-up exhibitions in various locations. The space is located just metres from the gallery. Bjertnaes is well known in his native Norway for his distinctive artistic language. Working with both classical figuration as well as experimental conceptualism, his exhibitions – as seen here – are visually dense and aesthetically expansive.

The Norwegian themed exhibition “Skjerp Deg!” was at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, from 12th February until 19th march 2016.

 

David Franchi – Monday, 14th March 2016.

Line exhibition at the Lisson Gallery, London.

Line exhibition at the Lisson Gallery, London.

It was a great exhibition ‘Line’ at the Lisson Gallery, London. It was a celebration of the line and an investigation on its possibilities, what the Lisson Gallery (London) presented.

Guest -curated by Drawing Room, London, the exhibition focused on the three -dimensional development, from the line which is used to draw, to installation created for the Lisson Gallery and using its spaces.

Fifteen artists displayed their interpretation of the line, from images to minimalist, with installations and a video. Works spanned from seminal artworks, from the late ’60s, through to performative and site-specific pieces made especially for this exhibition.

The artists involved were: Athanasios Argianas, Ceal Floyer, Monika Grzymala, Victoria Haven, Susan Hiller, Sol LeWitt, Richard Long, Tom Marioni, Jonathan Monk, Julian Opie, Florian Pumhösl, Fred Sandback, Maximilian Schubert, K. Yoland and Jorinde Voigt.

Lisson Gallery’s almost fifty-year history frames the exhibition. Sol LeWitt’s Wall Drawing 165, a diagonal line first drawn according to the artist’s instructions by Nicholas Logsdail in 1973 and re-drawn again for this exhibition, proposes an expanded field for contemporary art through its conceptual idea. Richard Long’s 1980 work A Four Day Walk expresses an imaginary 94 miles line in the ground, which shifts the parameters of drawing to consider man’s physical yet transitory relationship with the world. Long’s ephemeral line contrasts poignantly with British artist K. Yoland’s recent photography series and a film, bath named Border Land Other (2013-2014), the result of a residency in Texas. A new work by Julian Opie also brings the natural world into the gallery via a black vinyl installation, Pine Forest, a vertical procession of tree trunks mimicking bar codes and lines.

Brooklyn-based Maximilian Schubert and London-based Greek artist Athanasios Argianas both presented new and recent work that employs metallic forms to execute three-dimensional drawings. The installation of Argiana is made of a freestanding steel armature draped with brass ribbons. Etched with words that describe subjective measurements, such as “the length of the strand of your hair”, the ribbons’ descriptions were activated via spoken performances during the exhibition’s opening.

In Viennese artist Florian Pumhösl’s animated film Tract (2011), moving lines explore the relationship between dance notations and a figure’s movement in space. Drawing from Paul Klee’s Pedagogical Sketchbook, which states “a line is a point, which goes for a walk”, Berlin based artist Ceal Floyer’s 2008 work, Taking a Line for a Walk. The performative element of drawing is also referred to in German artist Jorinde Voigt’sBotanic Code (2015), which translates the artist’s perceptions by way of an algorithmic code into a row of painted aluminium rods leant against a wall.

American conceptual artist Tom Marioni’s One Second Sculpture (1969) records the artist throwing a coiled tape measure into the air and letting it fall – an act echoed in Jonathan Monk’s neon Fallen (2006) – with the aim of eradicating the distinctions between sculpture, drawing and performance. Such crossing and erasure of medium specificity is a feature of the minimalist sculptor Fred Sandback’s dematerialised work,Untitled (1974).

An installation by Susan Hiller, Work in Progress (1980), contained the residue of a week-long performance of dismantling canvas by the artist. Using the soft material of tape, Berlin-based installation artist Monika Grzymala created a densely crosshatched maelstrom blizzard of black. Seattle-based artist Victoria Haven created new delicate site-specific works for the exhibition a minimalist and geometrical abstractions.

The exhibition ‘Line’ was at the Lisson Gallery, London, from 22 January until 12 March 2016.

 

David Franchi – Monday, 7th March 2016.

John Akomfrah, 2015, Lisson Gallery, London

John Akomfrah © 2015 Lisson Gallery, London

John Akomfrah is an involving exhibition at the Lisson Gallery, London.

It was the first exhibition of John Akomfrah for the London branch of Lisson Gallery. It presented new and recent works by Akomfrah worldwide acclaimed artist and filmmaker.

For his debut at the Lisson GalleryAkomfrah has made two new diptych video installations. The first, The Airport (2016), was shot in Greece. It focused on the terrible economic situation by referring to Theo Angelopulous, one of the country’s greatest filmmakers, as if it was made through his point of view.

The second, Auto Da Fé (2016), was shot in Barbados. It focused on the nowadays refugee crisis through the handwriting of the Caribbean writer George Lamming. It mixes current events in Europe with a nameless event from 1654, when Sephardic Jews, found shelter in the Barbados, when running away from the Inquisition in Catholic Brazil.

Also on show was Tropikos (2016), a film that transport the Tamar Valley into a sixteenth-century English port of exploration on the African continent, so to disclose the inherent and gloomy past of the river.

The style of work of John Akomfrah is visual, intense, and multi-layered. It refers to poetic but also to political issue, often merged together with contemporary and past, fictional and mythological aspects.

He defines himself: “I’m a born bricoleur. I love the way that things that are otherwise discrete and self-contained start to suggest things once they are forced into a dialogue with something else.”

Akomfrah uses different media, such as archival film footage, still photography, newsreel and new material, to investigate personal and collective memories, post-colonialism, temporality and aesthetics in works that regularly look at the African diaspora in Europe and the US.

John Akomfrah started to emerge in the early 1980s as a founding member of the influential Black Audio Film Collective alongside the artists David Lawson and Lina Gopaul. Still at today they collaborate and their film Handsworth Songs (1986), explored the 1985 riots in Birmingham and London. It won international prizes and attracted a huge audience.

Akomfrah (born 1957, Accra, Ghana) lives and works in London. He has had many solo exhibitions including Bildmuseet Umeå, Sweden (2015); Eli and Edythe Broad Art Museum, Michigan, USA (2014); Tate Britain, London, UK (2013-14) and a series long a week of screenings at MoMA, New York, USA (2011). His participation in international group shows has included: ‘British Art Show 8’, Leeds Art Gallery, Leeds; ‘All the World’s Futures’, 56th Venice Biennale, Italy (2015); ‘History is Now: 7 Artists Take On Britain’, Hayward Gallery, London, UK (2015); ‘Africa Now: Political Patterns’, SeMA, Seoul, South Korea (2014); Sharjah Biennial 11, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates (2013); Liverpool Biennial, UK (2012) and Taipei Biennial, Taiwan (2012). He has also been featured in many international film festivals, including Sundance Film Festival, Utah, USA (2013 and 2011) and Toronto International Film Festival (2012).

John Akomfrah exhibition is at the Lisson Gallery, London, from 22nd January until 12th March 2016.