Jeff Koons, Now, exhibition view , Newport Street Gallery, London © photo Prudence Cuming associates Victor Mara ltd

London – It was an interesting exhibition “Now” by Jeff Koons at the Newport Street Gallery of Damien Hirst.

The Newport Street Gallery is a new exhibition space from Damien Hirst who decided to organise his second show with Jeff Koons. Nowadays, they probably are the most paid artists in the world. However, Hirst has been a fan of Koons since first seeing its work at the Saatchi Gallery whilst he was at the university in the late 1980s.

The show was called “Now” because the work of Koons always has been focused on the present: about what is happening today. Of course, pieces made years ago are on time for that past period, not for today. For example, those Hoovers, most of the readymade objects were made in the 1980s and they have a taste of that time.

The displayed objects are coming from the personal collection of Hirst. They were chosen to best reflect the career of Koons for this solo exhibition and many of them are firstly exhibited in the UK. ‘Now’ was the first major UK exhibition to be devoted to the artist since ‘Jeff Koons: Popeye Series’, at the Serpentine Gallery (2009). Spanning thirty-five years of the artist’s extraordinary career, ‘Now’ features thirty six paintings, works on paper and sculptures dating from 1979 to 2014.

The Newport Street Gallery exhibition displayed one of the first works of Koons, ‘Inflatable Flowers (Short White, Tall Purple)’ (1979), a vinyl blow-up flower put on view on a mirrored floor tile - suggesting one of the most repeated artist topic, the inflatable. There were a number of his iconic wall-mounted Hoover sculptures, part of The New series (1980–1983), in which immaculate, unused household appliances are displayed in fluorescent-lit, acrylic boxes, dated from Koons’s time working as a Wall Street commodities broker. Two of the Hoovers, which remain eternally pristine despite being outdated, were included in Koons’s first solo exhibition, at New York’s New Museum in 1980. Part of that installation – originally displayed in the museum’s storefront windows – has been reassembled for this exhibition. For the artist, the readymade, whether in the form of a child’s toy, Baroque sculpture or advertising billboard, provides “the most objective statement possible”.

This exhibtion is Damien Hirst's homage to the artist who has influenced him most. Generally speaking, Jeff Koons is considered to be one of the most important artists of the post-war era. Since the late 1970s, his assorted practice has investigated themes related to taste, consumerism, mass culture, beauty, acceptance, and the role of the artist.

Some critics, however, disagree with that point of view. They do not accept in Koons’s work there is irony and that he represents the silliness of the world we live in. Koons was even put alongside D. J. Trump, because he transformed his art into business.

Nevertheless, some other critics adore him for the same reasons. We live in a world made of kitsch, porno and plastic, and this is why Koons represents us all like this.

Probably, a god approach should be adopted from the Romans proverb ‘In medio stat virtus’, which can be translated in English with ‘In the middle stands virtue’. Koons, in fact, seems to have commercialised his undeniable aesthetic. The craft ability of Koons is another pro, and the materials used are of quality, but maybe at the Newport Street Gallery those big spaces are not so convenient to give the right degree of emotion.

The exhibition explored the innate talent of Koons to mesmerize and to provoke. Employing easily-identified images, he investigated social mobility in the Equilibrium Nike posters, the ways alcohol is advertised to diverse demographics in Luxury and Degradation, and the evocative imagery of childhood toys represented in Celebration.

In the Made in Heaven series, Koons analysed the stigma and the shame that are intrinsic in contemporary conceptions of sexuality, and brought them back to a more biological aspect, through the use of erotic scenes images involving the artist and his then-wife Ilona Staller (aka ‘Cicciolina’).

Jeff Koons was born in York, Pennsylvania, on 21st January 1955. He studied at the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. He received a BFA from the Maryland Institute College of Art in 1976. Since his first solo exhibition in 1980, Koons’s work has been shown in major galleries and institutions throughout the world. A full survey of Koons’s career was the subject of a major exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, which travelled to the Centre Pompidou in Paris and to the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. Koons lives and works in New York City.

Newport Street Gallery opened in Vauxhall, south London, in October 2015. Spanning five buildings, the gallery presents solo or group exhibitions of work drawn from Damien Hirst’s extensive art collection, which he has been building since the late 1980s.

Co -curated by Damien Hirst and Jeff Koons, the exhibition “Now” was at the Newport Street Gallery, London, from 18th May until 16th October 2016.

Ting  - Tong Cheng © Asia House, London.

London - “P’eng’s Journey to the Southern Darkness” by Ting-Tong Chang was a great exhibition at Asia House.

The Ting-Tong Chang solo exhibitionP’eng’s Journey to the Southern Darkness” was first London solo by Taiwanese artist. His work is focused on machines, from automata to avatars, and it analyses the ecological relationship between humans and nature.

The title of the exhibition originates from influential Daoist philosopher Zhuangzi’s text “Free and Easy Wandering” in which the fish K’un in the North Ocean turns into a giant bird called P’eng and sets to travel to the South Ocean, whilst a cicada and a dove mock him for its effort – mirroring the practice change of the artist.

The exhibition consisted of three kinds of installed elements, mixed around the room and with explanatory videos: taxidermy sculptures; self- sustaining ecologic system; and drawings.

Firstly, were displayed four sculptures of crows on elevated plinths and a collection of taxidermy birds, with internal computer circuits in their stomachs out in the open, pronouncing rejection letters from numerous open calls from which the artists was rejected. The number and the type of bird signify death in Chinese traditions and Chang playfully questions the proliferating bureaucratic art world of today.

Secondly, the birds were encircled by film documentation of various symbolic performances. Ting-Tong Chang collaborated with scientists and engineers to create a self-sustaining ecology installation within which he integrated himself, focused on the inter-relationship of consumption, industrial production and ecosystem.

“Whence Do You Know the Happiness of Fish?” (2015) is a large-scale installation combining durational performance art with science. With the assistance of biologist, Andreas von Bresinsky, Chang constructed an indoor fish farming environment using techniques and equipments from the aquaculture lab Fischwirtschaftsbetrieb. He lives in the exhibition space and feeds himself only from the pool. The fish caught are then cooked on a gas grill and consumed by the artist.

“Spodoptera Litura” (2015) is a live installation work developed in collaboration with the Department of Entomology of National Chung Hsing University and biologist Tuan Shu-jen. During the three-day-performance, Ting-Tong Chang seals himself in a greenhouse with hundreds of caterpillars (Oriental Leafworm Moth) and wild cabbage plants. An ecosystem is formed within the installation: the caterpillars are cooked and consumed by Chang for him to sustain himself. His urine is gathered and distributed through a watering system, providing nutrition to the plants. Finally, the plants provide nourishment for the caterpillars.

“Second Life: Habitat” (2016) uses laboratory processes as a means of artistic expression. It creates an installation at the interface of art and a natural scientific experimental set-up, converting the rooms into a rational ensemble of greenhouse, breeding chamber and factory. Ting -Tong Chang collaborated with prof. Haung Rong Nan and Department Graduate Institute of Entomology, National Taiwan University. In a series of greenhouses, the artist breeds eight thousand Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus), that go through all of their life cycle stages. Grown mosquito fly, mating and finally end its life cycle in a bug zapper. Each dead mosquito creates an electric signal to a computer system. Life of mosquito is then converted into a computer-generated avatar. These avatars are virtual human beings inhabiting a simulated island, members of the audience can control these avatars to wander around, talk and sleep. Their lifespan is 10 hours and will be terminated by the system. During the period of the exhibition, the artists donate 200cc of blood each 2 weeks. The blood transfusion devise is connected to a blood feeder. Each terminated avatar transmits a signal to the system and the blood is released into the feeder. It provides nutrition for the next generation of mosquito and the cycle of life-avatar-energy-electric signal is complete.

Third element of the exhibition was a series of drawings Chang made whilst he confined himself in these self-torturing ecosystems. The illustrations unfold his cynical yet comical imagination of the Darwinian survival-of-the-fittest ecology of the ‘artworld’ he has taken part in over the past decade as a migrant from Asia in London.

Ting-Tong Chang was born in Taiwan and received his MFA at Goldsmiths, University of London where he currently lives and works. Chang has exhibited and received a number of awards internationally. Recent solo shows include Edinburgh Sculpture Workshop (2014), Manchester Centre for Chinese Contemporary Art (2015), Christine Park gallery London (2016) and Asia House London (2016). Group exhibitions were held in Taipei Biennial (2008), National Taiwan Museum of Fine Arts, Warsaw Centre for Contemporary Art, Moscow Museum of Modern Art and Bemis Center for Contemporary Arts. Chang’s major awards are Edinburgh Creative Initiative Award 2013, Bursary Award 2015 of Royal British Society of Sculptors and RISE Award 2016 at Art Central Hong Kong. His works are collected by Taipei Fine Arts Museum and private collectors in Europe and Asia.

Supported by the Ministry of Culture (Taiwan), the exhibition P’eng’s Journey to the Southern Darkness” by Ting-Tong Chang was at the Asia House, London, from 23rd August until 2nd September 2016.

All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, 2016 © Yayoi Kusama, co. Victoria Miro Gallery, London

London - Yayoi Kusama exhibitions are welcomed as regular to London. After the successful shows in 2012, the Victoria Miro Gallery in London has presented “Yayoi Kusama: Sculptures, Paintings & Mirror Rooms” an amazing solo exhibition.

This was the major exhibition of Yayoi Kusama at the Victoria Miro Gallery, London, to date. Also, it was the first time mirror rooms have gone on view in London since the artist key retrospective at Tate Modern (2012).

Displayed in all the three Victoria Miro Gallery’s locations, the Yayoi Kusama exhibition presented new paintings, sculptures and installations. The most intriguing location was at the Wharf Road galleries where the artist has created three mirror rooms: All the Eternal Love I Have for the Pumpkins, Chandelier of Grief and Where the Lights in My Heart Go.

The numerous visitors of those rooms were displaced by the innumerable multiplying reflections. Astonishing were the pumpkin sculptures, which were covered with polka dots, the distinctive brand of Kusama. The waterside garden installation was wonderful. The thick ‘infinity net’ pattern in her painting work is a Kusama’s compulsive repetition of these forms on canvas.

Yayoi Kusama has described her recurring motifs as a form of active annihilation, in response to the hallucinations she firstly experienced during her childhood. Returning to throughout her career, the pumpkin motif is also present in the form of new mirror polished sculptures.

Victoria Miro Mayfair presented new paintings from the significant ongoing series My Eternal Soul, which Kusama first began in 2009. Each is a flatly painted monochrome field that is plentiful with metaphors including eyes, faces in profile, and other more uncertain forms, often in vital combinations of colour. Painted flat on a tabletop, these brightly coloured canvases proliferate of free association between images, including eyes, suns, profiles, uncertain and tiny forms, together with the artist dots and nets brand.

Classifying the work of Yayoi Kusama is difficult. However, it is connected with Surrealism, Minimalism, Pop art, the Zero and Nul movements, Eccentric Abstraction and Feminist art.

Yayoi Kusama is born on 22nd March 1929, in Matsumoto City (Japan). She studied painting in Kyoto before moving to New York in the late 1950s. By the mid-1960s she had become renowned in the avant-garde environment for her challenging happenings and exhibitions. Since this time, Kusama's amazing artistic effort was realized through a wide range of media, including painting, drawing, collage, sculpture, performance, film, printmaking, installation, and environmental art as well as literature, product design, and fashion - remarkably her collaboration with Louis Vuitton (2012). She lives and works in Tokyo and has exhibited with Victoria Miro since 1998.

A sing of the fame of Yayoi Kusama were the long queues outside the Victoria Miro Galleries. Even in London, so many visitors for a private gallery exhibition are rare to be seen. Especially the last day, people started to queue in the early morning to have access later on. Visiting the installation inside was regulated by the staff using a stopwatch. You were allowed inside for 20-30 seconds only, depending from which installation visiting. The overwhelming participation confirmed Kusama is one of the beloved and most significant living artists in the world.

TIME Magazine just recently listed Kusama in between the World 100 Most Influential People. According to The Art Newspaper she is the world's most popular artist – based on figures reported for global museum attendance. Her exhibitions were consistently the most visited worldwide last year, with three record breaking museum tours simultaneously traveling through Asia, Central and South America and Scandinavia.

Yayoi Kusama is currently the subject of a museum tour throughout Northern Europe, from Louisiana Museum of Modern Art, Humlebaek, (2015-2016) to Henie Onstad Kunstsenter, Oslo (2016); Moderna Museet, Stockholm (2016) and Helsinki Art Museum (2016-2017). Recent survey exhibitions include Infinite Obsession, 2013-2015, which was seen by over two million people during its two-year tour in South America; A Dream I Dreamed and Eternity of Eternal Eternity which travelled to institutions across Asia from 2013-2015 and 2012-2014, respectively. Yayoi Kusama, a major retrospective, was presented from 2011 to 2012 at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid; Centre Pompidou, Paris; Tate Modern, London; and Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. Kusama represented Japan at the 45th Venice Biennale in 1993.

Works by the artist are held in museum collections throughout the world, including the Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, D.C.; Los Angeles County Museum of Art; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Museum of Modern Art, Tokyo; Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam; Tate Gallery, London; Walker Art Center, Minneapolis; and the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; amongst many others.

Currently at Chiostro del Bramante in Rome, the exhibitionYayoi Kusama: Sculptures, Paintings & Mirror Rooms” was at the Victoria Miro Gallery, London, from 25th May to 30th July 2016.

The Sun Popped, 2016 © Ally McIntyre, courtesy the artist and CNB Gallery, London.

London - The Sun Popped, an Ally McIntyre' exhibition at the Cock and Bull Gallery was magnificent. In these recent days of full moon craziness, when everybody around the world has his nose up to the night sky, the mind goes back to “Ally McIntyre: The Sun Popped” an interesting exhibition at the CNB Gallery, London.

The work of Ally McIntyre is normally loaded with symbolism. With a new approach, she brings together many different traditional genres and iconographies and, facing the tradition, mixes everything in her paintings.

Mainly, the exhibition “Ally McIntyre: The Sun Popped” was about the dichotomy between the Sun and the Moon. At the CNB Gallery show, the Sun is assumed to represent masculinity, the Moon symbolizes femininity, and the Solar System is the traditional family environment.

It is a path of thoughts leading to a criticism of the patriarchal culture. The Sun is the centre of the accepted astronomical model of the solar system, while the man is at the core of the traditional family. The parallel between the two is clear, as it is the one between the woman and the Moon. It recalls also myths and rituals of ancient religions, where the sun was worshipped for its power and considered the focal point – connecting McIntyre to the exhibition on Egyptians now ongoing at the British Museum, London.

The Sun Popped exhibition mirrors the personal opinions of McIntyre on contemporary feminist activism. It explored the moon as a traditional symbol of femininity and focused on the romantic ideas of the end of the sun, suggesting nothing is permanent and hoping in an imminent change.

In London, at the Cock and Bull Gallery, the work of Ally McIntyre was loaded with recurrent symbols, such as stars, nature, or animals. The artist used a mix of acrylic, glitter and spray paint on a collection of ten paintings.

The director of the CNB Gallery, Rebecca Lidert, said: ‘Experiencing Ally’s paintings you understand what a confident painter she is. Her work is empowering. Her visual language has the conviction of a well accomplished artist. Her use of colour and composition are unusual, unique and bold.

Born in 1991, Canadian painter Ally McIntyre obtained her BFA from the University of Alberta in painting and sculpture in 2013. In the same year, she started her MFA in Fine Art at Goldsmiths in London. In 2015 after graduation she won the HIX Award, and is now represented by CNB Gallery, London.

The exhibitionAlly McIntyre: The Sun Popped” was at the CNB Gallery, Shoreditch, London, from 25th May until 10th July 2016.