David Franchi – Monday, 11th May 2015.

Installation view, Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery, London, 25 March - 9 May 2015,  Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

Installation view, Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery, London, 25 March – 9 May 2015,
Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

The exhibition of Anish Kapoorat the Lisson Gallery, London, was fascinating.

Anish Kapoor made a drastic return to painting, marked by this exhibition at the Lisson Gallery, London.

Moving far away from his usual style, Anish Kapoor has produced works that are connected to the body, or parts of it. At the Lisson Gallery, the exhibition is a continuing project that examines the body and the control of it, and also its dichotomy with the mind.

The Lisson Gallery exhibition displays new large canvases with livid red and white resin and silicon paintings, which are the result of an exhaustive creative development. These works have different level of interpretation, bringing to mind both the raw internal parts of the body but also the intellect. They recall the humanist and realistic style of Rembrandt, Soutine and Bacon, and the wider cultural reality of social and political painful turmoil.

For this exhibition, Anish Kapoor also produced sculptures in marble, others in metal, reminding stylised body orifices, which are impressive for their simplicity, but also for the spontaneity.

For Lisson Gallery, Anish Kapoor realised pieces that are connected to the body and its inner parts, in an exteriority and interiority alternate. In this exhibition he diverges from its accustomed colossal to a more confidential approach.

Reshaping the architecture, in the past Kapoor used mirrors and made large stainless steel works both reflecting, particularly spaces and viewers back. On the line of the Greek myth of Narcissus, his work was strongly connected to the image of the human beings.

Therefore, Kapoor analyses the body and how it relates to the environment. He said: “Our body, for each of us,

Installation view, Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery, London, 25 March - 9 May 2015,  Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

Installation view, Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery, London, 25 March – 9 May 2015,
Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

is a central measure of how we are in the world. Even though we’re carrying on ourselves in physical presences, we are always living in a kind of fantasy: a fantasy about the interior of body, a fantasy about its relationship to the world. Sculpture fundamentally is looking at that, questioning those fantasies of what the body is, or what the body might be. Therefore, I’ve been very engaged with the question of interior. The interior is always illusory. It’s not real. It’s dark, maybe, sometimes. It’s bloody, all the times. And it’s seems to me that’s a project which is quite elongated: I’ve worked and worked and worked, over and over again. And it keeps leading to new possibilities. So, this is where I am now.”

After many years of illusion, in these present days there is a lack of ideologies. The general debate languishes. The society is in short of new good ideas, and the body is the last resource, as it belongs to the person and can be modified by the person only, in a sort of glorified privacy. Anish Kapoor said: “This exhibition partially gives an answer. The body is the last territory, that is truly ours, is our body. And yet it also questions that. There is a certain amount of uncertainty around: is it really ours? Is it really in our possession, if you like? I am not sure, what the answer to that is, because that’s a complex socio-political issue. But I believe, of course, that art has a lot to do with it. Art helps us, in some ways, to define our sense of self. And I think it’s a conversation we have to engage in somehow, we can’t avoid it.”

Sir Anish Kapoor is one of the most influential sculptors of his generation. He is born in Bombay, India, on 12th March 1954 and lives and works in London. He studied at Hornsey College of Art (1973–77) followed by postgraduate studies at Chelsea School of Art, London (1977–78). He won the Turner Prize (1991) and was elected Royal Academician (1999). He represented Britain in the XLIV Venice Biennale (1990), when he was awarded the Premio Duemila Prize. He received the Praemium Imperiale (2011). He has honorary fellowships from the London Institute and Leeds University (1997), the University of Wolverhampton (1999) and the Royal Institute of British Architecture (2001). He was awarded an honorary doctorate degree from the University of Oxford in 2014.

Kapoor was ordered Commander of the British Empire in 2003, received the French Ordre des Arts et des Lettres (2011) and the Padma Bhushan (2012) India’s third highest civilian honour. He received a Knighthood in the 2013 Birthday Honours for services to visual arts.

Installation view, Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery, London, 25 March - 9 May 2015,  Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

Installation view, Anish Kapoor at Lisson Gallery, London, 25 March – 9 May 2015,
Courtesy the artist and Lisson Gallery

In 2002 he received the Unilever Commission for the Turbine Hall at Tate Modern. Notable public sculptures include ‘Cloud Gate’ (Millennium Park, Chicago); ‘Sky Mirror’ exhibited in Rockefeller Center, New York City (2006) and Kensington Gardens, London (2010); ‘Tenemos’ at Middlehaven, Middlesbrough; ‘Leviathan’, at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2011; and ‘ArcelorMittal Orbit’, commissioned as a permanent artwork for the Olympic Park of London (2012).

Kapoor operates independently from any gallery. However, he has a business relationship with Lisson Gallery in London since long time.

Lisson Gallery is one of the most influential and longest-running international contemporary art galleries in the world, established in 1967 by Nicholas Logsdail. It pioneered the early careers of important Minimal and Conceptual artists, such as Sol LeWitt and Richard Long, as well as those of significant British sculptors from Anish Kapoor and Tony Cragg to a younger generation, led by Ryan Gander and Haroon Mirza. In addition to its two exhibition spaces in London, one in Milan and a fourth gallery opened in New York in 2015.

Anish Kapoor exhibition was at Lisson Gallery, Edgware Road, London, from 25th March until 9th May 2015.


David Franchi – Monday, 4th May 2015.

Background #20 by Dawit Abebe, 2015 © Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London.

Background #20 by Dawit Abebe, 2015 © Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London.

“Background 2” exhibition byDawit Abebe was a sold out, at KH – Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London.

The KH – Kristin Hjellegjerde GalleryLondon, proposed “Background 2”, an amazingexhibition by Dawit Abebe. It had different but involving ideas.Abebe is an Ethiopian artist who works and lives in Addis Ababa. He did not move to another country. Therefore his work maintains a sort of genuineness, and returns a fresh and uncorrupted point of view on changes happening in the area.

Dawit Abebe, in fact, is exhibiting also at Pangaea II, the latest show of the Saatchi Gallery, London. The focus of Pangaea II is the new developments on the African and South American continents.

In a sort of witty ‘spin off’, Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London, presents this artist of stunning abilities – both for the ideas expressed but also in the technique using the media. The subject of his work is the contemporary complicated relationship between history and technology, and the ways in which these two elements live together today.

The exhibition “Background 2” was made of backward portraits. Abebe has also chosen different age groups for his subjects, putting the accent on the older generation. There were eighteen canvases on display, in which the depicted subjects were man only and taken from the back.

Dawit Abebe said: “From the back, because in our culture it means they are looking at the past. In recent years Africa has seen big developments. I feel that the coming of technology has seen a rapid transformation in Ethiopia. The younger people know less of our own history and are more involved with pop culture and social media.”

The Ethiopian artist explored the ways in which rural communities of African countries, including Ethiopia, Madagascar or Kenya, have been affected by technology progresses – predominantly as a symbol of wealth – and, in turn, the way it has impacted on the people behaviour. Ethiopia has 3,000 years of history, passed down both through written and oral tradition, and the older generation knows more than the younger.

As in many other areas, technology has disrupted the process of transmission of oral histories. Abebe feels that the older generation could play a significant role in healing this course. The artist highlights the problem of the lost of the tradition ongoing in Africa. It is an issue that Western Countries have faced already during the Industrial Revolution (a transition from rural to industrial society), and to which they tried to remedy the problem by using heritage centres, folk and tradition hubs, founded all over especially in Europe, for example the Cecil Sharpe House in London.

Consequently, “Background 2” exhibition is mainly focused on the loss of the past. The backward paintings all of them

Background #16 by Dawit Abebe, 2015 © Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London

Background #16 by Dawit Abebe, 2015 © Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London

have in a corner a page of a real school book. When visiting the local market, Abebe found used school books and newspapers. He then returned to his past life, what had been taught to him in school and comparing it to the present and how it evolved. As in the Panta Rei concept of the Greek philosopher Heraclitus, Abebe realised that there is a constant changing of life, but posed the question on how it affect us today: throwing away those books it means to put aside the history.

Furthermore, in each work there is a car license plate, visible only to the audience, showing the interest of Abebe in how numbers have come to define us. Today we have numbers and codes for everything in our lives, including car license plates. In Ethiopia, in particular private cars are seen as a status symbol and most of them belong to government officials, merchants and so forth. Therefore, here car plates are used as personal codes for each person, a marker of who they are.

The style of Abebe is very interesting. With his strokes and background paintings, made of vivid colours, he renders the African shades: the sky, the street markets, the desert, etc. The way he uses the brush for the lines or to spread the colours reminds the Egon Schiele paintings; but also one of the most famous Italian illustrator Angelo Stano, author of the best seller comic Dylan Dog.

Dawit Abebe graduated from the Addis Ababa University School of Fine Art and Design with a diploma in painting, sculpture, graphics, photography and industrial design. Since 2001, he has been a full-time artist in residence at the Habesha Art Studio in his native Ethiopia, and has also worked with UNICEF to hold workshops for street children in Arba Minch, Jinka and Addis Ababa. “Background 2” is Abebe’s first solo show and second exhibition at KH – Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, London.

“Background 2” exhibition by Dawit Abebe was at KH – Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Wandsworth, London, from 26th March until 2nd May 2015.


David Franchi – Monday, 20th April 2015.

Raul © images Cock 'n' Bull Gallery, London

Raul © images Cock ‘n’ Bull Gallery, London

The exhibition “A thousand faces” by Raul was a success, at the Cock’n’Bull Gallery, London.

The subjects of “A thousand faces” are visages of people that inspired Raul and that he depicted with his own approach, then exhibiting at the CNB Gallery, London.

Raul adopted his style from the graffiti, to be considered as the processing of a higher pataphysical, science fictional or surreal form of culture. For the CNB Gallery exhibition, Raul uses the shape of the face to summarize the vigorous and primal philosophy of his work.

The artist uses sharp-cutting colours to produce portraits in a graffiti style. For “A thousand faces” exhibition, primitive is the adjective to be used to define the style of the works on display. But also it refers to the 1980s movements of New York, the gallery culture that moved to the street and subways, and vice versa.

The artists himself agrees with this definition of his work: “From primitive to that of today, graffiti is to me a free form of expression, capable of breaking barriers and rules, thus raising these gestures to forms of higher culture.”

For Raul, freedom of expression means any form it manifests itself: it can be surreal or fictional as it has no boundaries, thus becoming pataphysical through the affirmation of the absolute freedom of the artist. Even a simple sign of colour can have a surreal meaning.

Therefore, also the works of De Chirico are of inspiration for Raul, together with many others, such as A One (Anthony Clark), Keith Haring and Kenny Sharf, and photographers Helmut Newton, Terry Richardson.

For the CNB Gallery show, Raul created a whole environment by painting even the floor, using his own specific style. Furthermore, interesting is the video of the making of realised for the setting up of “A thousand faces” exhibition, that can be seen on the gallery website.

With a sketchbook of his energetic work, Raul introduced himself to Rebecca Lidert, Director of the CNB Gallery, and to the staff, during autumn 2014. He was immediately accepted for an exhibition.

Italian artist Raul, whose real name is Marco Lullo, is born in Pescara (Italy) 1980. He holds a degree in Communications and previously worked in fashion, founding Reception (2008). In 2011, he moved to Miami (US), and started to exhibit his works. At present he lives and works between Pescara, London and Miami.

A thousand faces” exhibition by Raul was at the CNB – Cock’n’Bull Gallery,London, from 6th March until 17th April 2015.


David Franchi – Monday, 23rd March 2015.

Heinz Mack shortly before his 80thbirthday Photo: ReginaldWeiss

Heinz Mack shortly before his 80th birthday, Ph. Reginald Weiss © Ben Brown Fine Art, London

The exhibition “Zero & More” celebrates the works of Heinz Mack, at the Ben Brown Fine Arts, London.

A vivacious exchange of ideas, “Zero & More” juxtaposes iconic works from the artist’s Zero period (1950-60s), and new paintings and sculpture produced over the last five years.

Heinz Mack is a very renowned German artist. He is best known for his contributions to op art, light art and kinetic art and as a founder of the Zero Movement. Born in Germany, in the small village of Lollar (8th March 1931), Mack studied at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf between 1950 and 1956.

He reminds that period as very difficult. After the war in fact, Germany was destroyed: nothing was kept intact, nor the buildings, nor the economy. Therefore, the impoverished Germany was out of the art network. Luckily, Mack was awarded with a scholarship and he could visit Paris. When he came back, he spoke to friends about Mirò – he could see it for the first time – but nobody knew the Spanish artist.

Heinz Mack was also influenced by the exhibitions of the American artists coming at the embassies after the war, as US government was sending their artworks around the world.

The ZERO movement (1957-58) was created by Mack and Otto Piene, a fellow university student at the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf. The movement re-elaborate the gestural language of European abstract expressionism, by craving an immaculate art that has a salvific power from the ravages of the Second World War. It features a minimalist and monochromatic aesthetic and it admires the transformative power of light. Mack described the movement as ‘the adventure of seeking out and discovering the still-white spaces on the map of art.’ This honesty of spirit gained ZERO the admiration of artists such as Gerhard Richter, Robert Smithson and James Turrell, united in their desire to challenge the traditional dictums of art making.

Heinz Mack participated to ‘Documenta’ II (1959) and ‘Documenta’ III (1966). He also represented The Federal Republic of Germany at the XXXVth Venice Biennale in 1970. In the same year he was invited to Osaka (Japan) as a visiting professor.

In the 1980s, Mack works on architectural public commission, such as ‘Columne pro caelo’ (1985) in Koln or the project for the German Unification Square (1989) in Düsseldorf.

In 1990, after a break of 27 years, Mack came back to painting creating large canvases called ‘Chromatic Constellations’. In 1999, he published a book in which he complements poems by Goethe with drawings, and in 2003 he produced drawings for the texts of Al-Ghasali, a Persian philosopher of the twelfth century.

More recently in 2011, Mack received the Grand Federal Cross of Merit with Star of the Federal Republic of Germany in 2011. His works have been shown in nearly 300 solo exhibitions and numerous other group exhibitions. They are also found in 136 public collections. Numerous books and two films document his work. Mack lives and

The artist in his studio, 2003. Photo: Ute Mack © Ben Brown Fine Arts, London

The artist in his studio, 2003. Photo: Ute Mack © Ben Brown Fine Arts, London

works in Mönchengladbach and Ibiza.

After such a long and prestigious personal history, the Ben Brown Fine Arts, London exhibition was not expected to fail. The works on display, in fact, are outstanding for both concept and realization.

It needs to be highlighted that the central theme of Heinz Mack’s art is the light. Sculptures and pictures are the media of his versatile body of work. Interesting is the contrast between black and white old works, such as ‘Vibration’, 1957-58, and the new ones which are full of colours, for example Empire Couleur (Chromatic Constellation), 2014. Recent works, however, are also in black and white, like Untitled (Chromatic Constellation), 2014, but they are very different, from the older. In fact, it seems Mack has worked on the light by grabbing it away from the old works, while the recent ones are fully created with the opposite concept.

The exhibition “Zero & More” by Heinz Mack is at the Ben Brown Fine Art gallery, Mayfair, London, from 6th February until 10th April 2015.