David Franchi – Monday, 5th October 2015.

 Culture Clash! , 2015, co. Fine Art Society, London, ® Jacky Tsai

Culture Clash! , 2015, co. Fine Art Society, London, © Jacky Tsai

Future Past” was a fascinating exhibition by Jacky Tsai, at The Fine Art Society, London.

Chinese artist Jacky Tsai had a solo exhibition at The Fine Art Society of London. It was a mix of different works and styles at The Fine Art Society of London, Jacky Tsai produced for this exhibition, such as lacquer carving, embroidering, and dresses.

The major themes were the juxtaposition of Western and Eastern society, and the skull motif Jacky Tsai created when collaborating with Alexander McQueen.

As a former stylist, Jacky Tsai is a real master in the embroidery technique. His suggestive panel of Su-Xiu embroidery on silk satin, ‘Chinese floral skull,’ was amazing.

Other interesting works were the lacquer carvings. “Future Past”, in fact, was an exhibition of western pop art aesthetic blended with eastern artistry by using the emblems of Chinese mythology. In a bizarre context, Jacky Tsai reproduced battles between western superheroes with characters from Chinese folk tales, including Wonder Woman is wooed by the Monkey King, Empress Wu is saved by Tarzan.

Western superheroes are taken from 1940s comics, such as Superman, and the battles represent aircrafts and machinery used in the II World War. The other characters, instead, are coming from the narrative of the four great novels of Chinese literature (Water Margin, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, Journey to the West, and Dream of the Red Chamber). From the Ming and Qing dynasties, in the 14th – 18th Century, these great heroic stories still are the foundation of much Chinese popular culture, from opera to television and are considered to be the most important stories of pre-modern Chinese.

The work of Jacky Tsai symbolises a vigorous feeling of severe political and social debate, with an eye to globalisation. He said: “I’ve chosen them, because they represent the battle between West and East. There is a clash between the two parties for the control of the world, for who is the leading nation. So, I decided to use these characters to represent this clash.”

Other works present at The Fine Art Society exhibition present the trope of the ‘flower skull’. Jacky Tsai collaborated with Alexander McQueen the famous fashion designer. However, he claims the creation of the famous motif was fortuitous. While studying at the Central St. Martins, Tsai was called as the young talent to do internships at Alexander McQueen. One day, McQueen asked him to make a flower skull, because apparently everyone else had failed to do it for months. Tsai was successful and the skull just became a worldwide trend.

The work of Jacky Tsai today includes a wide range of media and traditional Chinese crafts and techniques of ancient

Chinese Floral Skull, 2015, co. Fine Art Society, London, ® Jacky Tsai

Chinese Floral Skull, 2015, co. Fine Art Society, London © Jacky Tsai

and dying skills dating back 2,000 years, for example wood-engraving, cloisonné, ceramic and Su -Xiu embroidery.

Tsai works alongside the elderly craftsmen, who were initially unhappy to employ ‘non-traditional’ imagery. Despite the masters’ reluctance, Tsai’s determination was convincing and revitalised the declining crafts.

Since his collaboration with Alexander McQueen, Tsai has continued to work with fashion and founded his own label. Today, he works together with luxury retail brands. In 2014, he collaborated with the luxury Chinese brand Shanghai Tang on a critically acclaimed collection.

At The Fine Art Society exhibition, for the first time was displayed the new clothes collection of Jacky Tsai dresses. Refined dresses for women were on show, witnessing the artist ability to mix different styles. The pieces were presented in partnership with Shanghai Tang, enduring a long-term working relationship that has resulted in joint exhibitions and shows in Hong Kong and Shanghai.

While at The Fine Art Society, Jacky Tsai also participated to the charity event ‘BE INSPIRED’. It was an art exhibition, at the Club at Café Royal, London, organized by ‘Save Wild Tigers’ from 22nd September (and extended) until 8th October 2015.

‘BE INSPIRED’ had a programme of high-profile creative events to raise awareness and much needed funds for the quandary of the wild tiger. Alongside other artists, Tsai helped the cause, which seems to see the wild tiger’s survival in deep troubles, with only ten years left to double wild tiger numbers or else risk their extinction.

The exhibition “Future Past” by Jacky Tsai was at The Fine Art Society, Bond Street, London, from 17th September until 2nd October 2015.


David Franchi – Wednesday, 9th September 2015.

Celina Teagu, I think therefore I # © Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

Celina Teagu, I think therefore I # © Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery

The exhibition “I Think Therefore I #” by Celina Teagueclosed with great success, at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London.

An interesting debate was raised by “I Think Therefore I #” exhibition and the closing party was enriched by a talk with artistCelina Teague, at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London.

Really ascribed to South American style, Celina Teague proposed paintings of robust and vivid colours. The canvases are filled with diverse characters coming from various inspirations, reminding a sort of collage, but actually painted.

Strong is the brainwave that comes from the way (social) media are dealing with current news, as Teague herself said during the talk: “It’s about the social media and the way we collect information. It’s new, it’s changing. We didn’t even use Instagram 2 years ago. There’s a lot of power in collecting information. I feel disgusted by the way the news are coming to us. It’s not that we can control what we see. There is not filter.”

Nowadays, in fact, we are living in dual world. A schizophrenic environment, where the common person has two personalities: one that is physical, and the other to be used online. Supported by more and more refined devices, media are really intrusive into people’s private lives, imposing their ideas and items to buy, which possibly we do not need at all: “Nothing he’s got he really needs/ Twenty first century schizoid man.” the King Crimson were singing decades ago.

We live in a fragmented society, very much sophisticated, full of stimulus, not simply progressing, but literally hasting to a pace never before seen. Even the Futurists, who worshipped speed, were not able to conceive the contemporary situation.

Through social media, changes are quick and unexpected. People need to have many skills, to cope with different environments and situations. Therefore, to connect to the others a person is forced to ‘wear different masks’ one, or more, for each connection. But, in doing so, the person hide the real “Himself”, losing his individuality and thus becoming “No one”. A situation anticipated by the famous Italian Nobel writer Luigi Pirandello and his body of work about the mask – e.g. the novel “One, No one and One Hundred Thousand”.

The person is required to wear different masks to interact, hence, he is depersonalized, unable to react and to express his authentic opinions into the perfectly curated Internet identity he has designed, but that is subject to the chocking and annihilating power of the social media.

The exhibition at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery presented all these aspects, with paintings overcrowded of small hyper- stimulating icons concentrated, surrounded by one colour hatches. Works were interpreting the contemporary schizophrenia of using different imposed masks and the consequent depersonalization.

Celina Teague presented painting that collects different information by using iconic symbols and figures and mixing them together into a single canvas. Just like in real life, in the paintings of Teague there are many details that require different skills of interpretation.

It is a sort of convoluted voyeurism, imposed but that pampers us. We abuse of social media to our advantage, trying to tell our story to an instant audience, to define ourselves to find our personality.

A great source of inspiration for “I Think Therefore I #” was the manslaughter of twelve people in the offices of Parisian satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo and the immolation of Jordanian pilot Moaz al-Kasasbeh by Isis militants, along with the daily news events of wars, cities razed, civilians, journalists and children slaughtered like sacrificial animals.

Celina Teague is born in London. She received an MA in Fine Art from Central Saint Martins College in 2007. Prior to this, she studied Fine Arts at the Universidad de Bellas Artes in Oaxaca, Mexico. Recent solo shows include ‘In Search of Lost Space’ at Kristin Hjellegjerde and ‘Brave New World Hits ca Glitch’ at Rook and Raven Gallery, both in 2013. Teague has taken part in numerous group shows in London, Los Angeles, Berlin, Spain Porto, and Vienna.

The exhibition “I Think Therefore I #” by Celina Teague was at the Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Wandsworth Town, London, from 6th August until 5th September 2015.


David Franchi – Saturday, 5th September 2015.

Allyson McIntyre, Moon Cries for Ferdinand, 2015 © Cock'n'Bull Gallery, London

Allyson McIntyre, Moon Cries for Ferdinand, 2015 © Cock’n’Bull Gallery, London

Allyson McIntyre is the winner of the HIX Award 2015, at the Cock’n’Bull Gallery, London.

Last 4th September, the ceremony was held in London at the Cock’n’Bull Gallery, and the awards were given to artists by Tracey Emin, Mark Hix and Rebecca Lidert.

The award ceremony, it has been a fully packed evening, because of the many artists and public present. There were also some the 22 panel judges who made the decision and choose the winner, included Tracey Emin, Rob and Nick Carter, and Miranda Donovan, as well as established critics and professionals such as Liz Murdoch, Dylan Jones and Eliza Bonham Carter.

This year there were 500 entries that ranged nationwide with some even coming internationally. The finalists were 18 only, on a collective exhibition at the Cock’n’Bull Gallery.

McIntyre presented ‘Moon Cries for Ferdinand’, a provoking and attention-grabbing piece. It has an intense symbolism, a dying bull chained with strong bright colours and glitters. Here McIntyre explores the gender roles, where the bull symbolizes the position of women in a male dominated society.

The HIX Award itself was designed by Damien Hirst. It reminds the Hix name and the monumental sculpture on the restaurant above CNB Gallery – made by Hirst too.

The HIX Award 2015 was sponsored by Cass Art, so McIntyre won a £500 Cass Art voucher, and the two runner’s up got nice goodie bags. Other sponsors were Hobo Beer & Co. and Nyetimber Wines.

McIntyre also received £500 of Hix dining vouchers, a trip to Hix townhouse in Lyme Regis and a feature in the autumn issue of HIX magazine, plus, of course, a soloexhibition at the CNB gallery next year.

There was also a ‘People’s Winner’ Award on the CNB Facebook page, which, again, was won by Allyson McIntyre.

The Canadian artist Allyson McIntyre – Ally Mac -is born on 1991. She is currently based in London, UK. She obtained her BFA from the University of Alberta (2013) in painting and sculpture. In the same year, she started to attend to visual art courses at the Goldsmiths University of London. In 2014, she collaborated with Gabriel Molina on a commissioned 440ft2 mural for her hometown.

At its third edition, the HIX Award is a good idea to exhibit the best selection of excellent undergraduate and graduate artists’ work, who can demonstrate their love for art and passion, showing their original and creative work.

The HIX Award finalists 2015 were: Allyson McIntyre, Bakhtiyar Berkin, Demi Overton, Edén Barrena, Emma Marks, Jacob Yarwood, Jennifer N. R. Smith, Kelly Sweeney, Lewis-John Henderson, Luke Marsh, Marcin T.Jozefiak, Matilda Skelton Mace, Michael Colegate, Natasha Malik, Patricia Pisanelli, Phoebe Mulrooney, Salomé Partouche, Charlotte Emily Sutton and Susan Eyre.

The HIX Award 2015 exhibition was at the Cock’n’Bull Gallery, Shoreditch, London, from 7th August until 4th September.


David Franchi – Sunday, 30th August 2015.

MOLANI, 2001 by Imi Knoebel, Ph. Ivo Faber © White Cube, London.

MOLANI, 2001 by Imi Knoebel, Ph. Ivo Faber © White Cube, London.

The first exhibition of Imi Knoebel in London was superb, at the White Cube gallery.

Worldwide renowned, in London Imi Knoebel presents theexhibition ‘Inside the White Cube’. He is one of the leading artists of his generation. Spanning for over 50 years, Knoebel’s body of work includes drawing, painting, sculpture, photography, projection and installation.

This exhibition presents new and existing paintings and sculpture in acrylic on aluminium, but also a group of works purposely created for the ‘9 x 9 x 9’ space of theWhite Cube.

The inspiration of Knoebel’s is determinedly formal. He investigates the result and strength of colour and materials, following and renovating the example of Modernism, in particular drawing influence from the geometrical abstractions of Malevich and Mondrian.

The artist followed is personal method to make exhibitions, consisting in create the installation as a single work in itself within which the single works will interrelate by themselves building new interactions about form, colour and space.

Knoebel production is unrestricted, and it rejects any ideas of spirituality potentially attached to pure abstraction. He often works in groups or series. He elaborates again specific themes and materials, at different moments and again at other points in his career. The works at the White Cube exhibition are all made from aluminium panels (first used in 1991) and reveals his habit of expanding and reinterpreting earlier subjects to form building blocks for new work.

A new group of paintings (2014–15) continues Knoebel’s meticulous abstraction working with organic and geometric shaped panels in combinations of two or three colours, sometimes possessing a fluorescent effect. Juxtaposed in various ways, these reliefs or object-like paintings test Knoebel’s formal concerns contrasting hard edged with soft, coloured with neutral, and matt with reflective to vivid effect.

Highlights of the White Cube exhibition are MOLANI (2001), where Knoebel comes back to the motif of the window, and Amor Intellectualis Tafel DCCCLVI (2006/ 2013) uses white acrylic and mirrored glass to reflect the surrounding gallery architecture into its pictorial field. In Ort-Rosa (2013), Knoebel uses pale pink panels to create a semi-enclosure, like the corner of a makeshift room enfolding the viewer.

For the 9x9x9 space Knoebel has conceived an entirely new work: seven ‘Kites’, large, quadrilateral paintings, all in white, hung at varying heights on walls.

Imi Knoebel, pseudonym of Klaus Wolf Knoebel (Dresden, 31st December 1940), is a German painter. He is known for his minimalist, abstract painting and sculpture.

Together with Imi Giese (1942-1974), from 1962 to 1964 he attended to the School of Arts and Crafts in Darmstadt,

North Gallery view by Imi Knoebel © White Cube, London

North Gallery view by Imi Knoebel © White Cube, London

where, according to the ideas of the Bauhaus preliminary course of Johannes Itten and László Moholy-Nagy, learned exercises of construction and structural composition. Together with Giese again, in 1964 he joined the class of graphic design of Walter Breker, at the Academy of Fine Arts of Düsseldorf.

Since 1965 Knoebel took the name ‘Imi’ – like his friend Rainer Giese – and they made their first exhibition, IMI + IMI in Copenhagen (1968). After that, he has exhibited his works in documentas 5 (1972), 6 (1977), 7 (1982), and 8 (1987), and at Sonsbeek (1971). In 1996 the Haus der Kunst, Munich, staged a large retrospective of his works which travelled throughout Europe, including such venues as the Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, and Institut Valencià d’Art Modern, Centre Julio González, Valencia. Knoebel had a major retrospective in summer 2009 at the Hamburger Bahnhof and the Neue Nationalgalerie in Berlin.

Imi Knoebel now lives and works as a freelance artist in Dusseldorf.

In May 2006, Knoebel received the honorary doctorate from the University of Jena (Germany).

The exhibition ‘Inside the White Cube’ by Imi Knoebel is at the White Cubegallery, Bermondsey, London, from 15th July until 13th September 2015.