Showing posts with label gallery. Show all posts
Showing posts with label gallery. Show all posts

Monday, 17 May 2010

Museum Piece

The Metropolitan Museum of Art's Flapper Room

   Another negative regarding my lack of a New York City residence is revealed to me:

... Two outstanding examples of high-fashion exhibitions, mounted collaboratively, can be seen at major New York museums in different boroughs. “American Woman: Fashioning a National Identity” is the annual, widely anticipated extravaganza of the Costume Institute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art... “American Woman,” which has been organized by Andrew Bolton, curator of the Costume Institute, benefits from, and celebrates, the exponential expansion of the institute’s holdings in one fell swoop in January 2009. That was when the Met took over the care and storage of a larger, older collection of fashion belonging to the Brooklyn Museum, which could not afford to maintain it.

On its side, the Brooklyn Museum has assembled “American High Style: Fashioning a National Collection” as a form of proud semi-farewell — semi because the transfer agreement allows the museum to borrow back works from its former collection. The show, composed entirely of pieces from the Brooklyn collection, is rife with what are justifiably being called “masterworks,” which have not been exhibited for decades, if ever. The collection includes deep holdings (even drawings) of genuine geniuses like the French shoe designer Steven Arpad and especially the inimitable Charles James, whose astounding “Diamond” evening dress is one of the show’s high points. But it is also rich in accessories, idiosyncrasies and objects steeped in history.

   A friend tells me that James - whose innovative sculptural couture would bestow upon him an iconic stature in any decade -  was believed to prefer teenage boys over women as fit models due to "too much 'hip'" - a practical consideration not unbelievable for a man who revolved each facet of a detail around in his psyche to the point of monomania and is noted for a large expenditure on a single sleeve

   Given that I've only ever viewed one or two garments at the V&A, I'm certain that the appearance of  his other works in the Brooklyn Museum's show would impel a gleeful edification on my part were I in the neighbourhood. James evidently understood that an Aesthetic is at its most attractive when there is artistry, care and thought on the parts of the creator and the wearer. Just look at the complex simplicity of his "Diamond" dress, included in the article's slideshow

   History to be swathed in

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Old Face

All photographs are copyright of Dean Chalkley via Creative Review

   I've never given much credit to those who treat their existences as an extended costume party, even if I'm fond of their references. In cloning the past, usually in a bid to protest against much of the cultural change since, the reenactors normally, and shamelessly, forego personal originality entirely

   If you've an eye for detail, a knowledge of useful resources, a love for vintage and hate the modern shopping experience, period dress is all too easy. And often too boring. To me, that seems like a rather celebratory admission of a poverty of thought, not unlike a wasted weekend

   This is why I champion costumes that actually personalise their historical exhumations. The various outfits worn by the BBC's premier alien, the Doctor, for example, all respond to archetypes such as "Edwardian," "Continental," "Dandy" and "Hoxton Professor" but usually bend those confines in a way that can be recognised as individual creativity (the artful dishevelment and idiosyncratic footwear of the Scots Doctors, Tennant and McCoy; the mastery over sartorial excess of Pertwee; the clownish yet slightly dignified inverse of Hartnell's attire sported by Troughton and, mandatory for such discussion, Tom Baker's scarf), nevermind that the costumes are ultimately decided and realised by a designer and the showrunner, alongside the actor, if their input is appreciated, that is (pity poor Colin Baker)

   Parallel to this, designers who will tweak conventions and rethink standards are my kind of creators - my Junya Watanabe (whose latest aesthetic nods to the subculture on display here) preference is emblematic of this stance. And what he does with the 20th century's traditional male silhouette, certain musical albums from his homeland dissected in this column have been doing to music once thought to be irrelevant in modern times with the prepotency of near or full genius

   Therefore, what most entices me about The New Faces photographs of eight retro-mods was not the garments of the gang but the eye of their beholder, Dean Chalkley. In a London that has never quite fallen out of love with Mod - one need only visit Topman to confirm this - it's simple to understand how this has come about, but Chalkley is talented enough to make this interesting and masterfully arranged. Forgetting the attire for the moment, there's something of the actual 1960s cultural snapper about his work, from the way that the subjects' goofing around transforms the traditionally sterile studio setting into a groovy, expansive playground through sheer energy (or, in the case of early Doctor Who, a clinically flat alien land) to the emphasis on capturing and advocating their self confidence and love of clothes

   The photographs exemplify Chalkley's fashion shoot stylings in their generally full length compositions, detail-framing closeups and undistracting settings, and so are unambiguously focused on the looks and attitudes of their subjects. They're also consummately professional and designed in a way that is redolent of the black and white music television that this group undoubtedly loves. It's unsurprising that Chalkley relates to them; having performed assignments for Ben Sherman and taking a suggestion from Paul Weller as the name of the show whilst photographing him, he first met them at the club night he runs in London's Highgate. They share a common affection for music, clothing, and the synergy thereof, and particularly that of a certain time and place. And he cannily suggests their hobbies by photographing their dancing, neatly underlining that synergy that has brought these people together

   Ultimately, I always preferred the Peacock Revolution, but I could never discourage an interest in dressing and dancing amongst the young

Dean Chalkley. His sense of style is not unappealing

   The New Faces exhibition is currently at The Book Club in London until April 29th. The Jukebox Jam record label has selected a run of limited edition seven-inch vinyl reissues of obscure 1950s and 60s US rhythm and blues to "soundtrack" the show; clips are available on Chalkley's website

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Synchronised Swanning and Anish Kapoor

Photograph by YF

   Back in the RA courtyard after observing a bullet of red wax shot out of an air compression cannon  (Shooting into the Corner) at the Anish Kapoor show. The poses struck by myself and YF's lady are close enough to inspire the dreadful punning in the title

   I enjoyed thinking of how high the cleaning bill for removing all the dried wax from the walls and floors at the RA would be, but I especially like what Kapoor does with mirrors, transporting them out of the funhouse and onto the gallery floor. One would think that removing the spooky dark rooms and the disco smoke machines from the equation would take away much of the pleasure of narcissistic image distortion, and actually, in a way, it does. Unless one is one of the many half term-celebrating urchins running unfettered throughout the exhibition, that is

   Also prominent amongst these appealing constructs, Hive (womb symbolism meets the inside of an ocean liner's hull meets an echo chamber) and Yellow (a concave fibreglass and pigment-based work that belies the inverse dome in the centre by appearing solid if stared at long enough) were similarly striking and inviting of momentary scrutiny. I think I want to go again

Sunday, 18 October 2009

 All photographs © Erno Raitanen

   As's recently mentioned Suspended in Process exhibition comes to an end, I had the pleasure of having this selection of photos from the opening night delivered to my inbox by enterprising young Finnish shutterbugger, Erno Raitanen (another Finnish photographer? My Pokemon collection has been truly superseded). He has quite an eye, I trust you'd all agree:

In conversation with S and Winston

Special thanks to Kat for inviting me and for organising such an interesting evening

Monday, 5 October 2009

The Exchange Room of Mr Ian Bruce

All photographs © Jamie Archer **

   10 years ago, back at school, it became apparent to me as I focused intently on  completing second tier painting coursework that Ian Bruce was a disgustingly talented individual who was born to brighten up a canvas. And, to be blunt, he's also far nicer than I am. But we still became friends somehow. Life's that funny

   In the years since I said goodbye to all that, Ian's morphed into something of a dandy, formed a band  named after the best two tone shoes in the world, The Correspondents, and wields a paintbrush or five in a manner of which the creative world of London is growing rather fond, as evidenced by the massive crowd that attended his recent show early last month. Since it's rather likely that the same thing is going to happen in a few days' time, I think it's very much of the moment to give my pal his due here

   This link explains it all, but the Reader's Digest version is that Ian showcased works created by friends and collaborators in exchange for portraits in his distinctive figurative style of those involved, which included particularly excellent "one good turn" portraits of Ian himself by gifted photographers Jess Bonham and Wendy Bevan. The nine-foot portrait of reputedly immoral artist Sebastian Horsley (sporting the same top hatted ensemble that swathed him on Comme des Garcons Homme Plus' catwalk in 2007) was put under the hammer by auction house Lyon & Turnbull over the weekend; the proceeds of which are intended for flying The Exchange Room to New York City at a future juncture

Ian's portrait of Horsley. It definitely adds much character, moral or otherwise

   Since Ian's work is bold and full of life, it stands to reason that his subjects follow suit. Particularly hilarious was Bonham's large scale concept of a nude Ian "chasing" his clothed Correspondent alter ego, while Bevan's nostalgicly misty close-ups are as evocative as usual for her. Katherine May's purses ripped up, rewired and reformed as rather heavy boutonnieres (well, they still contained quite a bit of loose change) were also a genuine delight and I'd love to see more examples of her creative textile manipulation in future

** Except these photographs

   Sartorialists may be most interested in this portrait within a portrait of Ian's father, along with a bespoke suit commissioned by Ian in return for the aforementioned painting. In it, Mr Bruce models the three piece made for his similarly built son by the tailor Jonathan Quearney; the artisan will hang the portrait in his shop. To bring this paragraph full circle, here's an interview with Jonathan, courtesy of The Sartorialist

   Photographs of the attendees follow here:

Guy Hills, one of the two masterminds behind Dashing Tweeds, in an Exploded Houndstooth safari suit of his own design

Your author with Donald of Great British Attire, a man who knows what he's talking about

Our photographer stands on the far left

   Ian's latest presentation is as part of a group ensemble show, Suspended in Process, hosted by Art.In.Flux, taking place at 14 New Quebec Street, London W1H 7RV from the 9th to the 18th of October. And I'm sure you LDN-based readers aren't busy all the time, yes?

Wednesday, 23 September 2009

Blue Gas (We Got)

Photograph courtesy of James Lewis

   My latest visit to The Crate Gallery involved appraising and enjoying the work of James Lewis,  a skilled conceptual artist whose Blue Gas installation brought a certain showstopping grandeur to the usual near-clinical confines of its three day abode

   Naturally, the neon words and numbers created for the show utilise the titular blue gas to achieve their illuminating effect. A number of pieces, such as those that I'm photographed with, crossed over from James' previous Value and Worth show, which addressed the intrinsic value of his creativity head-on, displaying the cost of the time, effort, design and even the electricity invested in the project. The end result was a series of price tags in lights, and very attractive lights they are too - I derived a thrill from having the issues of the pieces' fair value and fiscal effort posed to myself and to others in so forthright a manner

   The artist's methods and thought processes are detailed on The Crate's website; this excerpt addresses Lewis' approach:

 [Lewis] tries to prevent his Conceptual Art practice from being cold and stale. He does this by trying to place a narrative within his work, be it through photographically documenting his physical capabilities during a project or saving his income so that he can produce a series of neon signs. Lewis plays upon a personally devised formula of achieving a finalized “art object”¹. Which often means he financially or physically suffers for his art practice.

   As is common with such work, the viewer may transpose their own views and deductions even if they've been made aware of the concept. One of the first reactions I discussed with the artist was a certain nostalgia of 1980s apartments and the neon decorations that adorned many of them, as well as the use of such lighting and design in public advertising, my supposition being that this was a thoughtful and honest take on an iconic and ubiquitous practice

   I certainly appreciated Lewis' sense of perspective in addressing the true worth of his work in an analytical manner; some might argue that this kind of self awareness is sadly absent in the contemporary art world, although I have always felt that talent and effect should dictate prices. Lewis' projects are all worthy of further investigation - his end results are always well considered, technical, aesthetically interesting and unpretentious

   Perhaps the most delightful thing about viewing them is that not only do they all have something to express but they also seem to have yet more to say

Monday, 20 July 2009

On the Other Side of the Mirror, I See Lukas Renlund

   Lukas Renlund is one of the most interesting, and surprising, photographic talents that I've come across in some time. With his instinct for settings, layouts and posture, that isn't revelatory - it's the work that needs to be experienced to be believed, and there's a good deal of it available on his website

   Lukas is a 2008 graduate of the London College of Fashion and is currently based in Copenhagen, Denmark, creating his stylish, and somewhat abstract, images for a variety of clients and competitions. But I wouldn't wish to simply regurgitate his website

   In the manner of early Cecil Beaton and Horst P Horst, Lukas' work shows a particular affinity for surrealism, altered perspectives, trompe l'oeil and dream landscapes made bright, crystal clear reality. The imagery has a certain maximal quality due to the amount of detail contained therein despite appearing deceptively stark and minimal on first viewing, whether these be elements of the cloths, backgrounds, models or a combination thereof. As a fashion photographer, his work serves the dual purpose of soliciting a fantasy element to dressing that can often be overlooked, and bringing his craft one step closer to art by absorbing and rechanneling the creative teachings of the latter

   Lukas was on show last week at The Crate in Notting Hill as he wound up his Mirror Universe exhibition before departing for projects anew. The year may be well into its second half now, but he's still one to watch for 2009, and beyond

   And as a bonus; a full-body shot of my Apparel Arts/Junya S/S10-inspired outfit that was not taken by Lukas:

Monday, 18 May 2009

Stop and Stare - Dan Perjovschi, Finsbury Square

   Until recently, I worked in the hub of London's financial centre known to all as The City, where I plied a trade for 3 years as a researcher, marketer, copywriter and creator of promotional literature. And walking through it last night was a pensively unsettling experience, broken up with thoughts of slight (and possibly unwarranted) schadenfreude for the "suits" who were in for work on a Sunday

   But I did not envy them entirely. I missed the feeling of a more structured flow to the day (excepting that my work was broad, ad hoc and fraught with negotiation for the littlest things); of being ensconced in Central London week in, week out; of getting to wear a suit daily. Yet I don't miss the industry. And I hope for a new one to immerse myself in soon

   But the Square Mile does have its highlights, and one in particular caught me as I ambled through Finsbury Square. The windows were artfully scribbled on with searching slogans, messages and scattered thoughts by the Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi, who, along with Croatian-born artist Jadranka Kosorcic, makes up COMMA 05, and COMMA 06, respectively, of Bloomberg SPACE's COMMA series of contemporary art exhibitions. The ethos behind COMMA is to give a space and free reign to selected international talent to produce new work that will channel the inspiration of their surroundings, while naturally finding a new audience as a result

   Kosorcic, gifted in minimalistic expressionist sketches, created a series of portraits of subjects sourced through Bloomberg's internal messaging system, previously better known for exchanging gossip, mulling over rumours and discovering inside information. Combining cartoons, Basquiat-esque graffiti and crude scrawling, Perjovschi took his influences from current political, social and cultural concerns and voices them directly in a manner that could be considered self-incriminatory where The City is concerned, adding new drawings as the run continues, so to remain as close to the issues as possible

   The display of his art in the front windows of SPACE was a distracting, and welcoming, sight. Indeed, its bare bones aesthetic seemed to merge perfectly with the austere, stark glass-stone-and-steel construction of its temporary home

   COMMA 05 and 06 will run until Saturday 23rd May

Tuesday, 10 March 2009

Rebecca Warren; The Serpentine

   It amused the hell out of me that in a roomful of East End arty types - loud checked trousers, Oriental dudes with bright blonde hair, Tracey Emin, Duggie Fields, girls with grade one buzz cuts - that a bow tie attracted so many lingering glances. At least Winston isn't taking a stand alone

   The show itself was interesting, though obviously not because of the crowd, which was very much the same crowd at any given opening at any major gallery in London. What interested me was that the work was so open-ended (so to speak - a lot of it revolved around sex, unsurprisingly) as to make discussion almost pointless

   Fiona, who brought me as her +1, is one of the most thoughtful and erudite people I know, not to mention far less jaded than I am, and when she's challenged to muster up words on a presentation of art, something can't be clicking. Even moreso when the conversations I eavesdropped on had nothing to do with the pieces in front of us

   My next gallery outing this week should be more fun, though