Showing posts with label art. Show all posts
Showing posts with label art. Show all posts

Sunday, 15 April 2018

BON Voyages Accra: Gallery 1957 Presents Bright Ackwerh & Michael Soi in "Almost True"

  




   More and more, it seems to me that the "Wakanda Moment" of the post-Black Panther cultural landscape is characterised by opportunism, albeit less so by facile social buzzwords and more by the idea that the world may be ready to take Africa more seriously in creative terms, a Moment whose legs last longest as long as we ourselves are willing to carry them on our own broad backs

   How else to account for the turnout of the young and clued-up hashtag generation at this week's opening of "Almost True" by Bright Ackwerh of Ghana and Michael Soi of Kenya at the Kempinski Hotel Accra's Gallery 1957, which thronged from the dental surgery-whites of the main space to the spacious foyer beyond it, floors overlaid with sturdy tarp and duct tape to combat the dark side of every art gallerist's party favour, the open bar. In Ghanaian society, this level of public enthusiasm remains outmatched only by weddings, flash mobs and funerals


   That said, never underestimate the Ghanaian desire for a few good  schadenfreudian laughs, a facet that these two painters more than cater for. Soi's traditional canvas paintings, supplemented by printed bags and accessories, may have juxtaposed a tad glaringly with Ackwerh's detailed digital caricatures, but then the synergy in appealing group shows lies not only in the imagery but the messages as well. Even if one had not read the press release, a cursory scan of both sets of work unveils satirical meanings that are both caustic and cautionary, with the target range filling the further I crossed the room



All works by Michael Soi

   Soi's ponderings on Ghana and China's "special relationship," (to paraphrase Warren Ellis, we're simply choosing the face of the powers that are screwing us next) and now #metoo-relevant sexual assaults perpetrated by the kind of holy men who may have cash machines installed at work landed well, albeit with a familiarity that was possibly a little too comfortable in aesthetics if not subject matter. As one working in copywriting and marketing, I know there's sometimes a necessary utility in a traditional and obvious delivery, but I've also built Mode Parade and even my fine art / commercial photography practice on the juxtaposition and tensions the analogue-digital collision often results in




All works by Bright Ackwerh

   Thus 
it was Ackwerh who ultimately generated more discussion when I solicited opinions in the post-show carousing that followed. Digital art is  relatively new territory for Ghana, despite the prevalence of overly Photoshopped wedding and advertising photography, which only really surprises if one forgets that this is part of a continent known for diminishing or eradicating its own traditions to slavishly follow the mores of the West. Ackwerh's commentary is ripped-from-the-headlines unsubtle and he gladly professes a love of popular culture, but damn it if his results aren't amusing and biting. For one, he puts stories and faces to his works, from Presidents Akufo Addo and Macron to Kanye West's 'Famous' video, whilst indulging in a parodic bent that goes as far as to recontextualise Queen Elizabeth II becoming the world's longest reigning monarch following the 2017 resignation of Robert Mugabe - a man she once awarded a knighthood to - as a storyline from Game of Thrones


   Whilst my thoughts may seem rather measured, it's to its credit that "Almost True" makes no bones about its intent. This isn't an environment in which subtlety is recognised and rewarded - it's one in which Soi and Ackwerh have embarked on careers that invite familial disdain, conservative condescension and constant self-reflection in a way that is less notable in the likes of Britain, Germany and America. Choosing their marks and shouting out loud at them isn't a bug. It's exactly what they need to be doing to make their presences known and their opinions concrete

Bright Ackwerh with friends

Monday, 15 September 2014

Pinterest on (Mode) Parade



   I am now assembling a small collection of boards on design, architecture, photography and style right here:


   The collection of images on my Pinterest boards is presently rather modest, but I anticipate that it will grow in tandem with my developing understanding of it. I've already begun utilising it for my photography efforts, at the very least, and it is a curious way of determining what one finds attractive, even in the face of what seem to be the labile tastes of the rest of the planet. Which reminds me that of the smorgasbord on offer, the pins of most utility appear to be cookery recipes

   Happy image hunting

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Design Lust Object No. 7 - Paul Evans Furniture


The Cityscape sofa, circa the 1970s, by the American Paul Evans (1931 - 1987), idiosyncratic sculptor, artist and furniture designer

This is elegance writ grandiose; a piece such as this may do one a little good in a shy and retiring, minimalist, white interior. But really, it needs a natural-look veneer (perhaps something in stone or a caramel/wood colour), abstract art, large windows, a marble and metal coffee table, a fully stocked liqour cabinet and (to invoke the Beastie Boys) a handy "Bowie" mirror

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

"Lose Your Way and Find Yourself"



   There are some occasions that inform me that the Parade is appreciated by more than four humans at a time, every once in a while. Thus, I was most touched that talented artist Nina Meledandri, daughter of the late haberdasher and arbiter elegantiarum Roland, wrote in after stumbling across my prolix piece on him, "Homme Couture"

   I was so touched that I requested to reprint Nina's e-mail, to which she kindly consented. But then again, she provided 70% of that article's material. This is as much to thank her as it is to be thanked. And please remember to visit her interweb space, as linked above:
Hi Barima,
One of the most wonderful things about the internet is that sometimes you lose your way and find yourself
I just came across the post you made about my dad and it was really wonderful to find
I am glad that my reminiscences had an impact and of course it is a comfort that my father's legacy lives on
Thank you for posting that piece,
Nina

Monday, 10 October 2011

John Gayner: Lost & Found


Some of you may have noted that I am more focused on bringing my Tumblr up to speed than on the column at present. This shall pass in time. But in the spirit of that reblogging mentality, I am promoting yet another artistic endeavour by one of my friends, which takes the form of a West London-set photographic exhibition this week at my old haunt, The Crate Gallery. The arts season is truly upon us again; I spent Saturday in some delightful company at Art London and will also attend Frieze later this week

It's a good time to take in the sights

Monday, 29 August 2011

The Samuel Fosso Post


I borrow an identity.
In order to succeed I immerse myself in the necessary physical and mental state. It’s a way of freeing me from myself.
A solitary path.
I am a solitary man.

 
Samuel Fosso (born 1962 in Cameroon) as Angela Davis and Martin Luther King in his 'African Spirits' series

   Once, at the London retro-speakeasy flavoured club night Prohibition, my friend and occasional collaborator Winston Chesterfield put it to me that "there is a challenge levelled at dandies that many of them are simply playing ‘dressing up’ – the implication being that with a fashion history book open, anyone can match such a style." I've always thought this implication wide of the mark; as proved by some - but only some - of the patrons at that very night - a book or a photograph does not confer consummate mastery, never mind an instant one. Without a creative eye, mimicry is worth less than nothing. And that premise underlines my appreciation of this article's rather visually intelligent subject

   My interest in Samuel Fosso's portrait shoots began in the early days of Style Time/Mode Parade, although there were other little distractions like articles about pocket squares, flamboyant showmen and satirical pop songs written for television dramas to keep me from parsing this knowledge into content hitherto tonight. It is the particular charm and statement-making potency of his work that has lodged it in my mind, to say nothing of the labile self-presentations of the photographer himself, moving from African and Black American living/dead emblems such as Haïlé Sélassié and Malcolm X to post-colonial African hipster and neat, almost dandyish, naval recruit, bolstered by simple backgrounds whose mise-en-scene illustrates much about the lifestyles Fosso swathed himself in for his work

 Selections from 'Fosso Fashion'

   Like the genuine dandy, Fosso is a work of self-actualisation, weaving visual pleasure and social commentary from carefully constructed artifice. His portraiture is openly artful, his aesthetic sense alternately playful and ascetic (even he could not avoid the pristine allure of a white studio expanse). Most considerately, his theatrical feeling for posture yields photographic self portraiture that makes no bones about its narcissism and is all the more vibrant for it. I claim no expertise, but most professional self-shot photographs I see, these days, may as well have been taken in a photo booth or specifically for a MySpace account, for all the emphasis they place on setting and demeanour. Under such parameters, those portraits might become more interesting

Selections from 'Autoportraits des années 70'

   Fosso's myriad signifiers are elucidated in a Frieze magazine review that I filched from the eyepatch-sporting, Japanophile performing artist Momus, and may I say that it was a great help in producing this entry. It's quite a portrait of the artist where gravitas is concerned, but then it is about Samuel Fosso - a man whose narcissism is worth a thousand words:



Saturday, 6 August 2011

McBessed


   Danielle Meder invited me on Thursday to attend an art exhibition launch within the East Bowel of London with her; specifically the Robert Crumb-esque cheek and Golden Age of Animation-stylings of French illustrator McBess, which is presented under the title The Folding Knife and housed at hip young person's - and, as it turned out, hip young family - venue, The Book Club

This August, highly regarded French illustrator, McBess (aka Matthieu Bessudo) will be exhibiting previously unseen canvas work, prints and 3D objects at The Book Club. His fascinatingly intricate work provides snapshots of his own experiences and is a contemplative diary of illustrative creations. The Folding Knife contemplates both current and childhood memories from which the title of the exhibition was born. A folding knife was a childhood keepsake of Matthieu’s and also reflects the detailed nature of his work. Don’t Panic commented on McBess ‘he’s so wonderfully French that he can make what would otherwise be freaky cartoon porn seem lovely and whimsical’.
A collection of his art from the last three years will be published this July by Nobrow and The Book Club will be lucky enough to have the original cover design adorning the walls. Having shown previously at galleries across the globe such as Issue in Paris and Nucleus in LA as well as having his art on the cover of Design Week this month, this French gentleman certainly has an exciting buzz around him.
   Whilst the venue cleverly stiffed Danielle on her previously advertised complimentary drink by way of a vital and missing horseshoe stamp - not too Draconian to require approval for a freebie on opening night, I'm sure - I found time to be photographed in my current heatwave mode and stood in front of a McBess piece for The Book Club's Flickr page:


   Being introduced to the work of McBess for the first time, I found some of his tics redolent of other latter-day illustrators of a cartoonish, surrealist bent such as Kaws and Pete Fowler; always crafting worlds of humour, fantasy and neuroses in a way that suggests persistent trouble from waking dreams (which would not be so unusual to me - these clearly explain much of the work and unique humour of self-confessed sufferer Joe Kelly, co-creator of Ben 10 and Marvel/DC stalwart). Fun and gifted, he certainly is, but one suspects McBess, with his penchant for isometric layouts (which he shares in common with the talented and engaging pixel fiends, eBoy), music sideline and memorable creativity, is one hipster touchstone away from licensing collectible vinyl figurines made in his image(s). I am therefore unsurprised that Kidrobot already made an overture towards him; six years ago, I would likely have been first in line:

Dunny and Mega Munny figures by McBess, seen in the second photograph

'Gurato' 

'The Perfect Saturday Afternoon' 

'The Desk (My Desk)'

  We had a decent perusal (at least when we were able to avoid the throng), an amusing moment involving those curvy hairpins that, according to a young fellow on a date that we encountered, are never far from a woman's head (including Danielle's) and it did indeed pique my interest to revisit it at a more opportune time. But in truth, this was all a prelude to our flight to Dalston an hour later to squeeze ourselves through two over packed dancefloors and indulge ourselves in the company of topless, dancing lesbians

   The Folding Knife will conclude on the 18th September, 2011

'Sybyl'



Wednesday, 11 May 2011

Mode Parade x Final Fashion



Final Fashion is the column of adroit fashion illustrator Danielle Meder, who relocated from Toronto to London not long ago. She arrived just in time, for since my return to this town, my oh-so-cosmopolitan circles have indeed expanded to include more Canadians and blondes. Brought together by fate, Twitter and The Grumpy Owl, yesterday we spent a late afternoon indulging in some mutual portraiture


For the record, this is the first artistic endeavour I've produced in over 10 years, created over pots of Chilli Chilli Bang Bang and Adventure tea at the ever temperate Yumchaa:


Here is Danielle's rendering of your author - "More handsome" defines her take on Mode Parade's baby Afro'd boy (I'd also venture, "More Nigerian," as I'm happy without needing my features to be chiselled). In a rare moment of vanity, I, of course, asked for my lips to be accorded more accurate proportions:


Danielle and I might do this again at some point. I've certainly threatened to begin sketching again. I was always a little dangerous with a crayon when I put my mind to it


The tale of the tape may be found at Final Fashion

Wednesday, 30 March 2011

Sartorial Arts

All works sourced from the artist's website

   I recently had an opportunity to browse the artworks of Oscar Whicheloe at the Medici Gallery - one of the myriad fine show spaces on London's Cork Street - and although the show concluded yesterday (let alone that I should have visited it earlier), I thought some of my semi-regular readers might entertain yet another sartorial artist in their hearts

   Of course, Whicheloe hews to a different blueprint than my favoured illustrators (Leyendecker, Fellows, Sheridan, that Grafton guy... can't think of any others); presently working at Wimbledon Art Studios, he is a graduate fine artist of Surrey Institute of Art & Design (class of 2003) who has set his brushstrokes on producing still life and portraiture, as well as prints, etchings and monotypes. Rendering tailoring is only one of the facets this gifted creator presents to the world and like my dear friend Ian Bruce, he can find the inner artistic boldness in even the most conservative suiting



   Nevertheless, for those who are as enticed by Savile Row window displays (now de rigueur since Nutter's began putting on a show in 1969) as the next man, Whicheloe's reverent, skillful and evocative series of half finished suits framed on that famed street are ineluctably delightful. As my own forays in painting and drawing taught me long ago, nothing vexes quite so much as the near infinitesimally small detail - the strings on a harp bow; the fuzzy turf-like texture of a towel; thread hanging from a needle or, perhaps, a bespoke suit. It is, therefore, a feat that he can so accurately capture the stitching so necessary to this sort of work in progress; additionally, by focusing on the incomplete suit, he brings a certain dynamism to it by making it a centrepiece - it congratulates the skill involved and enjoys it for the tantalising hint of a finished article that it is. Even an unfinished work done well holds a certain amount of value. The guessing game for the windows will no doubt keep one or two of you Paraders diverted; I have so far spotted  Richard James, Huntsman, Kilgour, E. Tautz and my countryman Ozwald Boateng. One may also note the presence of Paul Smith's socks and furnishings from other Piccadilly locations; the Royal Arcade and Albermarle Street shops, respectively; Smith's signature use of his tumescent palette and print libraries is just the sort of challenge that's at home in Whicheloe's catalogue of nuances

 

   It is this combination of a bold, up-close aesthetic packed with unerring detail that gives the artist's work a certain piquancy; his nous for composition, shape and colour also deftly leavens his output. For those of you available later in the year, Oscar Whicheloe will return in a solo show at St. George's Hospital, London
My present focus is on the still life scenes that are captured in a tailor’s window – a very precisely controlled environment, entirely constrained by the way the tailor has decided to position and display his creations.
These displays capture both the wider society they aim to reflect and attract, as well as the hidden inner-world of the tailor. “Finished suits are presented with tacking threads still visible, echoing the glamour and attraction of bespoke luxury clothing and the society that consumes it, as well as the physicality of the fabric and the hidden work involved in its manufacture.

Sunday, 20 March 2011

The Week's Inspiration



Shepherd check three piece suit plus cane, homburg hat, gloves and overcoat circa the 1930s, as rendered by renowned fashion plate illustrator Laurence Fellows, patron saint of all i-trads and i-dandies everywhere

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Springspiration



    Consider one or two traditional accoutrements like neckscarves, a matching yet complementary shirt and tie combination and lighter coloured suiting for the incoming season. It will be good for you. It's to our cost that illustrators are no longer charged with the content of lookbooks

Scans by Sator from Grafton Fashions For Men 1971

Monday, 15 November 2010

Schemer

   Anyone seeking guidance in amassing elegant furniture, accoutrements and high-class baubles could do worse than look for inspiration in the recently auctioned former belongings of Ponzi schemer and convict Bernard L. Madoff and his wife Ruth

   Certainly, what I've seen of their blink-and-miss artwork selection speaks to the genteel preoccupations of the gilded rich and the overall aura of the pieces seem dismayingly restrained, but the 18th and 19th century home furnishings, along with gleefully cheeky outliers like the bull-shaped footstool in leather demonstrate that the "bad guys" almost always enjoy fine decor (and speaking of dismayingly restrained, it seemed rather obvious that Mr. Madoff sought to construct a quiet, serious and respectable identity, like other men of his tastes, out of Lobb, Charvet and Turnbull & Asser - and not with the subtle, ludic polish of an Ahmet Ertegun, either). The jewellery collection was, in my eyes, the clear highlight. I might have reacted emotionally to seeing the timepiece collection, in small part due to seeing a platinum Cartier Ronde Solo amongst the solid gold Patek Philippes, Piagets and Audemars-Piguets, and in large part due to dropping an iron on my foot whilst trying to read the interweb simultaneously. Ordinarily, I'm a great multitasker

   I only wish I could see the expensive bonfire that will be lit by the fellow whose $1,700 bought him a selection of Mr. Madoff's underwear - all because he wanted the socks. I'm not even sure many of them are silk. Maybe the Prada pantyhose was the true gem

Saturday, 6 November 2010

Birds/New Friend


   I recently paid a visit to the State-Of-The-Arts Gallery in Central, Hong Kong, where I met this fellow. He was encouraging visitors to unleash their inner animal, rather like the Power Penguin meditation sequence of my favourite film, Fight Club

   Like this man and Fight Club's unnamed Narrator, I suspect that my own animal is avian themed - apposite and appropriate - although a peacock might be a tad obvious. Our sartorial fandom does make us - dare I say - birds of a feather

Tuesday, 24 August 2010

Inspiration Illustrated


   Thanks to the diligent dandiacal detections of Matt and Charles at Fine And Dandy, I recently learnt a little about a favoured illustrator of mine, John E. Sheridan, who produced a cornucopia of fashion plates for Hart Schaffner & Marx during the Gilded Age, as well as covers for the Saturday Evening Post and propaganda imagery for the United States' World War I campaign

   Although his male subjects were less openly dandified than those of his contemporary and my favoured sartorial sketcher, JC Leyendecker, they connoted the fine tailoring ideal that HS&M wished to impart upon the world with a rarefied aplomb. These fictional men were depicted as carrying themselves with a certain perfection, as well as an athletic gait; unsurprising given Sheridan's background in college sports advertisements. And pleasingly, some of the 1920s designs look covetous today, as evidenced in places like Junya Watanabe Man's Spring/Summer 2010 Paris presentation

   A little sporty elegance goes a long way

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