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Thursday, 1 March 2012

Akiko Takizawa: Over the Parched Fields | Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation | London


Text by Claire Hazelton

You can’t help but feel like you are disturbing an undeniable sense of stillness as you enter the Japan House Gallery at the Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation; the floor squeaks under your feet and the chandelier sways slightly. Quietly lurking here, tucked away behind a throbbing Marylebone Street, is the first London solo show of Japanese artist, Akiko Takizawa. Her work, hung just shy of the creeping shadows cast by the park’s trees outside, are mainly black and white photographs taken in the county of Aomori in North Japan and at the shrines of Osorezan (Fear Mountain). They depict places where the memories of dead children are remembered and preserved, where their souls are protected and cherished and where parents gather to grieve. Amongst images of the shrines are strange volcanic landscapes, people obscured behind grass, clouds, reflections; every image seems to be cloaked in a melancholic mystery.

In the first room there is a low-standing table in the centre with neatly stacked booklets and a stunningly pristine portfolio of Takizawa’s prints. On the surrounding walls, curated like the pages of a book – readable, simple and considered - are the artist’s peaceful yet haunting images of soft hues of varying greys and transparent whites. The shrines and landscapes seem empty on first appearance, but viewers who spend time with each image, allowing their eyes to adjust to Takizawa’s intricate subtleties of tone will realise that many of the photographs are haunted by translucent faces. In a particularly striking piece, Father #2, a man’s fading body disappears against the chaotic grain of a floor of woodchips. First drawn to the complex textures of the wood, you barely notice the man’s hand drifting quietly in the centre. His face, engulfed by flickers of white, could be sleeping. Is this man a ghost? Is he a memory? Is he dead?

In each landscape a similar obscurity is apparent; in People #4, a family portrait is swallowed by the shadow of temples, the eldest member stooping, skeletal and frowning, and in Waterfall #1, a figure, seemingly still as a rock is cloaked in the waterfall’s shower. There is something very distant about every face in this room, in their vacant expressions, gestures and in Takizawa’s magical and sensitive use of monochrome. My shoes continue to squeak on the floor as I drift in and out of each image and, for a moment, a woman dressed in white and grey (blending strangely into the colours of the exhibit) comes to stand in front of the same photograph as me. We stand almost brushing shoulders and she turns to me and says “Aren’t they sad?” Nodding in agreement I smile, but thinking further, I decide a better word might be “nostalgic” or “peaceful”. Of course there is a sadness in the fading subjects of Takizawa’s images and in the recurrent feeling of a heavy grief, but overall, her work seems gentle, still and warm. They are images of acceptance, not anger.

In the second room, the visitor is confronted yet again with landscapes haunted with faces. In Wedding Up in Heaven, shrines and photographs of deceased children appear and disappear amongst thick streams of clouds, and in Where We Belong, Senbazuru, a shadowed face stares upwards, submerged by tumbling specs. Peering through these obscuring layers in Takizawa’s pieces, you feel as if you am looking into some form of parallel universe, a universe only visible through Takizawa’s lens. As if printed on felt or velvet, the photographs seem to absorb all sound and light; some, such as Earless Houichi, Heiki Ghost, even appear to glow. In one image, Where We Belong, Magnolia #1, the subject, a woman in round spectacles and a red top, is hung on the wall at exactly my height. As I approach, our heads slot into one another and immediately I am engulfed by her landscape, leaves around my head, overwhelmed in a deep yellow. This place, commanded by Takizawa’s work, seems to have a timelessness to it – the past mingling freely with the present. As I leave the gallery, I imagine the chandelier becoming still again and the space reverting to its previous silence. I step outside to head to the station and time begins back on its endless churning.

Akiko Takizawa:Over The Parched Fields, 18/01/2012 - 01/03/2012, Japan House Gallery, Daiwa Anglo-Japanese Foundation, 13/14 Cornwall Terrace (Outer Circle), London, NW1 4QP. www.dajf.org.uk

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Caption:
Akiko Takizawa Osorezan – People #4 (2011), Silver Gelatine print
Courtesy the artist

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Jerwood Gallery in Hastings to open March 17th | Q&A with Liz Gilmore, Director of the Jerwood Gallery


Text by Bethany Rex

There are a lot of projects that get the go-ahead in the name of regeneration, and the savagely debated Jerwood Gallery in Hastings is no exception. There's a whole website devoted to the 'Say No to Jerwood on The Stade' (an area next to the fish market) campaign but one only has look East for two shining examples of cultural regeneration come good; the hugely successful Folkestone Triennial and the celebrated Turner Contemporary in Margate. In geographical terms at least, the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings could become the next in a long-line of galleries on the South Coast (The De La Warr Pavilion, Towner, Turner Contemporary) that are not only worth the short day trip from London but worth our support as they embark on the long process of making a significant difference and a positive impact on seaside towns in need of renewed prosperity. The Jerwood Gallery in Hastings will open its doors to visitors on 17 March 2012. We spoke to Liz Gilmore, Director of the Jerwood Gallery to find out more.

BR: We have seen a wave of new regional contemporary galleries opening in the UK over the last two years; Nottingham Contemporary, Towner in Eastbourne, Hepworth Wakefield, Turner Contemporary, firstsite in Colchester. The general mood was these would be the last of their kind to open for some time to come. How has the opening of the Jerwood Gallery in Hastings been made possible?

LG: Jerwood Gallery has been solely funded by Jerwood Foundation and has come into being through the vision of its Chairman, Alan Grieve. There have been a number of iconic new gallery buildings and re-developments the past 5 years and we are delighted by their successes. Margate’s Turner Contemporary, Bexhill’s De La Warr Pavilion, Eastbourne’s Towner to name but a few. Jerwood Gallery is the final link in the "string of pearls" around the SE coast and delivers a "future-facing" gallery for 2012 – environmentally, artistically and architecturally.

BR: What are you particularly excited about showing in the new gallery?

LG: Putting Jerwood Foundation’s collection in the public realm (c. 200 artworks) for the first time and enabling a dialogue between that and a contemporary programme. We open with a retrospective of paintings by Rose Wylie, a 77 year old Kent based artist – the first UK retrospective of her work which will be housed in our contemporary space.

BR: You read about the care required to create a programme that is both ambitious and artistically significant- but also one that will be embraced by the local community. How will the new space in Hastings overcome this challenge?

LG: Building new appetites and balancing that with what people know or hope is on the menu is always a challenge. But the successful galleries always do this well. We are very keen that Jerwood Gallery should be a cultural hub for Hastings, offering an ambitious, nationally significant programme that local people can be proud of. We open with Rose Wylie, then its Gary Hume . . . both artists have had a long association with Jerwood Foundation, personal connections with the region and in terms of ambition, place Hastings/Jerwood Gallery on an international stage.

BR: Would you be able to tell us a bit more about the design of the new gallery? How did the relationship with HAT Projects come about?

LG: The design is a sensitive response to the needs, ethos and qualities of the Jerwood Collection, and to the extraordinary architectural context of the site with its fishing beach, listed net shops and medieval Old Town. It is also an exemplar of environmental sustainability, through passive design, ground source heat pump cooling, solar thermal hot water and other measures.

Seven gallery rooms are dedicated to the Jerwood Collection: a large ground floor gallery is for temporary exhibitions; there is a sculpture courtyard, a first floor cafĂ© overlooking the fishing beach, education space, library and shop. Its "grand domestic" scale brings a quality appropriate for Jerwood’s Modern British art collection which it will house.

Hana Loftus of HAT Projects worked with Jerwood from the genesis of the project, helping to develop the brief and research potential locations. HAT Projects were then appointed architects to design the project as Jerwood decided they had the best understanding and experience of the needs and ambitions of the project.

BR: Could you give us an insight into the inaugural exhibition?

LG: It’s the first UK retrospective for Rose Wylie. The title of the exhibition, Big Boys Sit in the Front is taken from the final line of a poem by Robert Creeley (1926-2005 "… the big people, sitting up front"), whom Rose met in Vancouver in 1962. Written late in Creeley’s career, it reminds us, how childhood can feel. This mirrors Rose’s respect for direct imagery, an example of which she finds in the work of African lorry artists which inspired her piece Lorry Art (2010) which is on show for the first time. We’re delighted to be showing new works, including a monumental piece Getting Better with Water, 2011; along with some of her well know works such as Woman Sitting on a Bench with Boarder (film notes) 2007-8.

BR: In a nutshell, what are the highlights of the Foundation’s collection?

LG: The collection has grown over 20 years under the aegis of Alan Grieve and celebrates 20th and 21st century British art and artists, some of whom are well-known and some less so.

The first exhibition of c. 58 works puts on show: Flowers in a Terracotta Pot by David Bomberg (1890-1957); a portrait by Stanley Spencer (1891-1959) of his niece Daphne. Some works have strong local resonance – eg: The Churchyard, Rye, by Edward Burra; others international interest for example, a stunning painting of the church of St Remy by Walter Richard Sickert (1860-1942). And a wonderful still life painting, entitled Green Jug by the artist Keith Vaughan (1912-1977).

BR: Could you tell me a bit more about the history of the Stade?

LG: "Stade" is Anglo-Saxon for 'landing place', and this area of Hastings beach has been used by Hastings fishermen for nearly 1000 years. Indeed, many of the fishermen still working the beach can trace their family history back over several hundred years. It’s an area steeped in history and cultural tradition and a wonderful context for a gallery.

BR: What will the relationship be like between Jerwood Hastings and the Jerwood Space in London?

LG: We are both part of the same Jerwood family and work closely and collaboratively. Jerwood Space in Southwark opened in 1998 as a major capital initiative of the Jerwood Foundation and is recognised as one of the best rehearsal spaces for theatre and dance in the UK. The knowledge and experience of staff from that project has been instrumental to the success of our construction. Jerwood Space is also home to Jerwood Charitable Foundation (JCF) who develops and manages the Jerwood Visual Arts programme. Without giving too much away regarding our future programme I can confirm that we expect to show a number of the JVA shows in the future.

BR: It’s good to hear that the Gallery will benefit local communities through outreach activities. In this vein, could you give us an insight into the film collaboration with Project Artworks?

LG: The project captures the moment of practical completion – when we formally took possession of the building after the main construction phase. The film, directed by Kate Adams, MBE, captures the uninhabited Jerwood Gallery, providing poetic and intimate insight into its spaces by people who have perceptual and cognitive impairments but who are highly sensitive to the sounds, surfaces, light and qualities of built space. We will show the film at Jerwood Gallery in July 2012

The Jerwood Gallery in Hastings will open to the public on Saturday 17 March. Full programme information is available here: www.jerwoodgallery.org

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Caption:
Jerwood Gallery, Hastings, HAT Projects
© Ioana Marinescu

A Leap Beyond the Physical | Dan Flavin: An Installation | Galerie Perrotin | Paris


Text by Matt Swain

Dan Flavin (1933-1996) was an American minimalist artist famous for creating sculptural objects and installations from fluorescent light fixtures. His early work focused upon drawings and paintings influenced by Abstract Expressionism but the subsequent focus of his work was an exploration of the artistic possibilities of fluorescent light, limiting his possibilities by restricting his materials to commercially available tubing in standard sizes, shapes and colours.

Flavin's breakthrough came with The diagonal of may 25, 1963 (to Constantin Brancusi) (1963) a simple yellow fluorescent light set at a 45 degree angle. This bold statement effectively challenged art history by stating that a light tube could stand alone as a work of art, thereby attaining cultural significance by reducing the gap between art and everyday life.

This exhibition brings together eight sculptural works from 1963 to 1989, together with three thematic drawings entitled untitled (to the citizens of the Republic of France on the 200th anniversary of their revolution) from 1989. The extent of the works throughout the four exquisite rooms at Galerie Perrotin demonstrate the range of Flavin's vision. four red horizontals (to Sonja) (1963) exudes a visually arresting aura of red fluorescent light of deep intensity and beauty which complements and transforms it's physical surroundings. This contrasts with the subtle simplicity found in the cool white fluorescent light of white around a corner (1965) which comprises a single fluorescent tube placed in the intersection of the walls. This light is echoed and expanded in monument for V. Tatlin (1967) which consists of seven tubes of cool white fluorescent light and is part of a series dedicated to Vladimir Tatlin, a leading figure in the Russian Constructivist movement.

These three-dimensional monochromes belie their minimalist construction by embracing (and occasionally unsettling) the viewer in their glow of light, setting a dramatic and affecting tone. They develop a mood from which spirituality and mystery emanate, the result of which is a sense of timelessness. Flavins work dramatically reinvents the space with his installations of infinite combinations offering seduction and confrontation, promise and desolation.

The blue and pink fluorescent light emitted in untitled (to Don Judd, colorist) 4 (1987) has more than a sense of the iconic and of all the installations, has perhaps the most symbolic and architectural resonance. In untitled (to Charlotte) (1987), Flavin blends red, pink, yellow, blue and grey to create a very real sense of emotion. Through reflections on the floor, walls and ceiling, Flavin explores the behaviour of light through his creations. The lights bleed and stray into the space around the fixture itself and illuminate the space - to which the intimacy of the gallery is perfectly suited. It is said that Flavin disliked the term minimalist, and whilst one cannot help but indulge the minimalism on display, there is a definite richness and density beyond the spectral flood of colours that initially captivate your senses.

In order to inspire, one has to believe and Flavin's belief in his work is perhaps the most illuminating and revelatory aspect of the exhibition. What could so easily have been a neutral and unrewarding love is transformed by the level of engagement in blending colour, light and perspective in a way that goes beyond the physical. Flavin built a lasting legacy, successfully creating monuments of architecture bathed in rays of momentary beauty.

Dan Flavin: An Installation, 14/01/2012 - 03/03/2012, Galerie Perrotin, 76 rue de Turenne, 75003 Paris. www.perrotin.com

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.

Photography: Florian Kleinefenn
Copyright 2011 Stephen Flavin / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Review: Reverb Festival at The Roundhouse, London


Text by Ruby Beesley

La Coquille et le clergyman – Imogen Heap and The Holst Singers
Oracles and Step Onto the Ground, Dear Brother! – Ana Silvera and The Estonian Television Girls Choir

Now in its second year after a successful launch in 2010, the Roundhouse’s Reverb Festival aims to dismantle the stuffy, jargon-loaded image of classical music. While commercially the past decade has seen our musicians take a battering, creatively it’s an exciting time for contemporary music with tastes broadening, genres metamorphosing and live performances defying the rough waters experienced by the rest of the industry. And why shouldn’t classical music experience the same resurgence? By debunking the classical and the experimental, Reverb engages wider audiences in the growth of contemporary classical with the primary aim of creating a relaxed, enjoyable and approachable atmosphere with clear and informal introductions from the performers and composers encouraging listeners to better engage with the work.

An alt-classical a cappella accompaniment to the first Surrealist (though widely-contested as such) film, created by a female director back in 1928, doesn’t leap off the page as an approachable introduction to contemporary classical but, performed as it is following an ethereal performance by Ana Silvera and the Estonian Television Girls Choir, this segue into uncharted waters (for myself at least) works surprisingly well.

Initially commissioned by Birds Eye View Film Festival to marry the two vastly under feminised areas of film direction and classical musical composition, the pairing is initially challenging because we have become so accustomed to expecting a performance out of our singers. I find myself focussing on Imogen Heap and the Holst singers rather than on Germaine Dulac’s pioneering film. With a modicum of self-discipline however the inventive and frequently absurd fluctuations of the human voice animate the silent characters on the screen in a manner that alludes to their minds rather than their spoken words. In this sense Heap has transported La Coquille et le clergyman back into the Surrealist canon by ignoring the conventions of dialogue and focusing (as Surrealism should) on the interior and the subconscious. We feel the puzzlement, rage, dismay and infuriating lust of the clergyman as his erotic fantasies spiral out of control. At times the piece is hilarious and Heap and the Holst singers only serve to emphasise this in their vivid exploration of the possibilities of the human voice (and unabashed lack of pretension and foible). The guttural projections, cries of ecstasy and pants of anticipation and climax only emphasise the bizarre nature of Dulac’s work and of self-righteous denial (a timely observation for the beginning of Lent). In doing so they improve the reception of Dulac’s masterpiece immensely.

More typical of a novice’s expectations of contemporary music is Ana Silvera’s Oracles, which loosely narrate (with instrumental and choral accompaniment) the gamut of emotions involved in a fairytale love affair. At times (such as in The Awakening) Silvera resembles a mellowed Tori Amos, improvising and allowing her accompaniments to catch on. With the emergence of an acoustic score resembling African tribal themes the performers seem to relax into their roles and into the story. Within our visually over-emphasised culture (and as someone focused day-in, day-out on aesthetics) to be transported so readily into a story through music is a welcome revelation.

Continuing into next weekend, Reverb has certainly succeeded in demystifying the classical music experience. Winding down the evening with performances of Silvera and Heap’s best-known works, as well as an eye-opening and exceptional rendition of traditional Estonian music (at times almost primitive and otherworldly, contemporary yet also timeless), the festival treads just the right side of approachable, without patronizing its audience, with a fantastic programme of events.

www.roundhouse.org.uk

Aesthetica In Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.


Monday, 27 February 2012

TERRYWOOD opens at OHWOW in Los Angeles








Richardson has been inspired by the multiple facets of Hollywood life. In his latest show,TERRYWOOD, he unveils a series of images of the famous city, as seen through his eyes. Terryworld meets Hollywood, as the local characters, familiar landscapes, and architectural details verge on a new identity.

With images such as Untitled (Hollywood Neon), and Untitled (Nude), both photographs of the recognisable signs that are ubiquitous throughout Hollywood, Richardson illustrates his penchant for branding (whatever subject matter may be.) Through a medium not typically understood as effective in translating an artist’s personality, Richardson manages to make his hand evident within his photographs. His identity is unmistakably present, as if he created the very objects and scenes his camera captures.

An artist often attributed with changing the field of photography, Richardson also defies the ideological limitations. TERRYWOOD takes all that Hollywood represents - celebrity, broken dreams, kitsch, and re-contextualises it by the works with a different narrative. Richardson is one of the most prolific and compelling photographers of his generation. Known for his uncanny ability to cut to the raw essence of whomever appears before his lens, Richardson's vision is at once humorous, tragic, often beautiful, and always provocative. Born in New York City and raised in Hollywood, he began photographing his environment while attending Hollywood High School and playing in a punk rock band. Richardson‘s work has been the subject of numerous group and solo shows throughout the world, and he has published a selection of books beginning with Hysteric Glamour in1998, followed by a print retrospective titled Terryworld, and most recently released LADY GAGA x TERRY RICHARDSON.

TERRYWOOD runs at OHWOW, 937 North La Cienega Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90069 until 31 March.

www.oh-wow.com

Images:

(c) Terry Richardson

Hooray for Hollywood, 2011
C-print
48 x 72 inches
Edition of 3, plus 2 APs
Courtesy of the artist and OHWOW

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, 2011
C-print
26 x 40 inches
Edition of 3, plus 2 APs
Courtesy of the artist and OHWOW

Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, 2011
C-print
26 x 40 inches
Edition of 3, plus 2 APs
Courtesy of the artist and OHWOW

NUDE, 2011
C-print
48 x 72 inches
Edition of 3, plus 2 APs
Courtesy of the artist and OHWOW

Aesthetica in Print

If you only read Aesthetica online, you're missing out. The February/March issue of Aesthetica is out now and offers a diverse range of features from an examination of the diversity and complexity of art produced during the tumultuous decade of the 1980s in Art, Love & Politics in the 1980s, opening 11 February at MCA Chiacgo, a photographic presentation of the Irish Museum of Modern Art's latest opening, Conversations: Photography from the Bank of America Collection. Plus, we recount the story of British design in relation to a comprehensive exhibition opening this spring at the V&A.

If you would like to buy this issue, you can search for your nearest stockist here. Better yet call +44 (0) 1904 629 137 or visit the website to subscribe to Aesthetica for a year and save 20% on the printed magazine.



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