- Written by Maira Herrero
Lygia Clark: The Abandonment of Art, 1940-1988. MoMA. New York.
"It's about challenging the canonical narratives with the inclusion of unexpected objects."
That’s how Luis Enrique Pérez-Oramas, Head of Latin American Art at New York’s MoMA, understands art. And that is precisely how Brazilian artist Lygia Clark expresses her art in her current exhibition at the museum on display until August 24. The exhibition includes a number of different artistic expressions that the artist was involved in throughout her career, and which together have defined her as one of the central figures in 20th century Latin American art.
Lygia Clark spent her initial years working under the geometric abstraction movement, which she subsequently abandoned a few years later to join a group of Brazilian artists united under the Neoconcrete manifiesto (1959), created as a response to the exaggerated rationalism present in the art world just before the Second World War. The group intented to recuperate a sense of aura in art, a return to expression, subjectivity and a renewal of the artistic language, with the main principle being “without emotion, Art is precarious”.
Just a few months after signing the Neo-Concretism manifiesto, Clark began to distance herself from the group and to rethink art in terms of its active relationship with the viewer, which required a redefinition of the perception, exhibition, communication and structure of art. In other words, what was needed was to re-conceptualize what a work of art actually is. Clark’s intention was to revitalize the idea of an autonomous artistic object; paint is no longer simply a tool, a technique, but it transforms into an object.
The exhibition begins with the first works of her career, clearly abstract in form; we gradually see the paint element in her works acquiring more of a shape and body. Paint slowly becomes independent, and forms start to boldly reach out towards the viewer in unexpected ways, as if challenging the perceived separation between the inorganic and organic worlds. We are then greeted by “organic lines”, which appear as cracks in the paint. The artist’s idea is to express the organicity of paint, and to extract it from its conventional —inorganic— framework. Bodies interacting with other bodies.
In 1961 she begins work on her so-called Bichos (Bugs): plaques made out of alluminium, stainless steel and smooth metal, all punctuated with hinges. The constructions consist of various layers and they do not form a single unit or mass — they were created as active, living organisms which viewers are encouraged to interact with. The MoMA presents them with no barriers or limitations whatsoever, so that viewers may approach them freely and imagine the multiple possible forms that the work can offer.
The years 1964 and 1965 represent a critical moment in the creative career of the artist: her work “Caminando” (Walking), one of the most representative of her entire collection, presents new conceptual possibilities. The work is its own action — the work itself is the merging with the viewer. Her interest in form is captured in the Moebius strip and its implications. It symbolizes a strip where there is no discontinuity between the inside and the outside, between interior and exterior. The action of “walking” consists in the viewer cutting a strip of paper in the shape of a Moebius strip until the formation of a very fine line (a residual line), which itself becomes the “rest” of the action, i.e. “the artwork is its own action” — the discovery of that organic line that the artist is so fascinated by. “Caminando” is one of Clark’s most important pieces and this fact has not gone unnoticed by the exhibition’s curators, who have allowed visitors to get up close to the work — although only the most daring among them have taken on the artist’s challenge.
A car accident in 1966 left Lygia with a fractured wrist and effectively one less hand to work with, nonetheless she used the cast that she had to wear to protect the broken bone to create a piece consisting of a transparent plastic bag containing a stone and that she filled with air. This was the first relational object that she described in an essay titled “In order to understand the meaning of our routines”.
The exhibition includes more than 300 works from museums and private collections from around the world. There is so much to say about this artist that I highly recommend a full immersion into her work and her understanding of art. In 1997 the Fundación Antoni Tàpies hosted an exhibition of her work, and the Fundación Juan March, in 2011, presented some of her work for the exhibition “Geometric Abstraction in Latin America (1934-1973)”.
The exhibition invites us to reflect on the role of the viewer and their transformation from mere passive receiver of a completed work of art to their active intervention, interpreting it, manipulating it and even becoming a physical part of it: a plurality of meanings converging together, with the aim of creating a new way of understanding and relating to art.
Lygia Clark (Bel Horizonte, 1920 — Río de Janeiro, 1988) studied in Río de Janeiro and Paris, and after spending some time working in abstraction, became a part of the Grupo Frente and was later one of the signees of the Neo-Concretism manifiesto. She began her most creative phase of her career in 1960 when she looked at reinventing the interaction between the work and the viewer. She is currently considered a point of reference in the study of what the limits of art are, and of what the active role of the art viewer should be.
- Written by Clelia
Peter Doig, experienced painter of Scottish origin born in Edinburgh in 1959, is currently considered one of the best painters of his generation, his works commanding extraordinarily high prices. In his early childhood he moved with his family to Trinidad and Tobago, and in 1966 to Canada. 13 years later, in 1979, he took up residency in United Kingdom, where he began his studies at the Wimbledon School of Art and then went on to study at the Saint Martin's School of Art before obtaining an MA at the Chelsea School of Art.
His art career led him back to Trinidad in 2002 where he opened his own art studio in Port of Spain. Since then, his career has enjoyed tremendous growth. In the following years he frequently travelled to London, New York and Düsseldorf, where he became art professor at the Kunstakademie (Academy of Fine Arts). Doig's work, often based on films and photographs, maintains a perfect balance between the figurative and the abstract. His work covers a wide range of themes, yet his influences are always clear, be they Canadian landscapes or elements from his own personal interests. His best-known work, "White Canoe", sold for over $11m, becoming the most expensive painting by a living European artist.
Doig's paintings are heavily influenced by painters such as Monet and Munch, and more broadly by Impressionism, Post-Impressionism and Expressionism. Despite the passing of time, his work originates from the experiences he lived during his early childhood, a time full of memories expressed purely and emotionally thanks to his meticulous technique. In 2008 the Tate Britain, which houses London's largest collection of paintings, exhibited a retrospective of his work including 50 oil paintings and other works on paper from the last 20 years of his career, and which are now part of the gallery's public and private collections. Another exhibition, titled "No Foreign Lands", was on show at Scotland's National Galleries and contained many of his best paintings.
In his paintings Doig reflects the deepest parts of his soul, a reflection which guides his work and which has become the cornerstone of his artist career. He takes to heart Robert L. Stevenson's quote, "There are no foreign lands. It is the traveler only who is foreign", its idea being manifested in the surprise and delight he experiences before the beauty of a landscape, even though it is familiar to him having been part of his surroundings for years. He observes the world around him with the wonder of a tourist who gazes in awe at a monument for the very first time.
His past work also includes portraits of figures alone in the middle of wild natural settings, a clear example of which is "Red Boat", where the force of nature's colours and of the figures' structured shapes grabs the attention of the viewer. His photorealistic style allows us to classify his work into "white works" and "dark works", terms used by some galleries. An example of the latter group is "Unité d'Habitation de Le Corbusier", in which he resided for a period of time. In this work he represents local characters and the almost wild nature of the places that became his everyday surroundings, using a bright palette to give the images a great vitality.
His work as a whole has become an homage to the artists he admires: Edward Hopper, Paul Gauguin and particularly Edvard Munch, as he himself has claimed. In 2013 Doig's paintings reached record sales figures, placing him in the same league as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Jeff Koons. In particular, his work “The Architect's Home in the Ravine” fetched €2.7m more than Dalí's most expensive painting at Christie's, becoming one of the world's most expensive paintings.
According to well-known art critic Adrian Searle, his painting technique can be described as a mixture of sources, influences and styles, a synthesis of popular imagery, autobiographical and imaginary elements, always perceived by viewers intuitively and via a kind of osmosis. There is no doubt that Peter Doig is an artist who feels what he paints, and who spends more time thinking about his work than he does producing it. In a number of interviews he has come across as a romantic who is open to sharing his sadness and longing for a different, foreign world. His artwork, although based on fantasy, is also recognizably realistic and not without a hint of nostalgia. He sees landscapes as metaphors for his own inner life, externalizing it and making it credible through the process of capturing it on canvas. Of his own work, he says, "Each painting is an idea. Each painting is the result of a process. Conceptual art takes away the joys of observation - colour and beauty."
A selection of his works has recently been exhibited at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, between February 7 and April 14, 2014.
- Written by Clelia
Born in 1957 in Beijing, Ai Weiwei is a multidisciplinary artist, architect, photographer, designer, critic and activist, son of well-known Chinese poet Ai Qing, himself a studnet of avant-garde theory in Paris between 1929 and 1932. Qing, a great influence on Weiwei's way of thinking, also studied cinematography and was part of the Xingxing group, where he devoted his time experimenting with individualist techniques and which was eventually dissolved by the authorities of the time. In USA he got involved in Minimalism, Pop Art, conceptual art and Dadaism. In his work Weiwei manages to harmonize Western postmodernism with the tendency towards handcrafting, most present during China's cultural revolution. He is incredibly skilled in merging the past with the present, while showing the conflict that exists between perception and pure concept.
His work "Coca-Cola Vase" shows the weight of modernist tendencies - the influence on this piece of artists such as Andy Warhol and Marcel Duchamp is evident. Another piece clearly influenced by a number of different sources is "Forever", where bicycles joined together by their wheels form an example of a ready-made.
In each work by Ai Weiwei, there is a sense that he is fully fleshing out its feelings and concepts, also manifested physically in his large-scale sculptures such as the "Bird's Nest", created for the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing in collaboration with architects Stefan Marbach, Pierre de Meuron and Jacques Herzog. Tradition and politics are present throughout his work, be it exhibitions, sculptures, photographs or architecture - his outspoken defense of human rights and his opposition to abuses of power are synonymous with his name, the general public remembering his imprisonment for these very reasons.
His role as an activist should not be forgotten, either - he has publicly condemned a number of Government acts and positioned himself firmly on the side of human rights, to the extent that his studio, valued at over €1m, was destroyed by the Chinese authorities. In 2011 his family announced his disappearance; he was subsequently freed but placed on house arrest, which led him to create a Big-Brother style reality show from his own home, but which in turn was taken down by the regime. Ai Weiwei is the critical voice of the Chinese government, an important intellectual figure whose work consistently shows maturity and social commitment. Throughout his career he has exhibited in a number of different countries and he is currently active in his profession as architect - although he continues to appear in the media due to his arrest and imprisonment, he is still recognized globally for his art work.
The artist's work is often displayed in large venues due to its size. One of the more remarkable items is his series of photographs, where he is seen allowing a jug belonging to the Han dynasty to fall on the floor, crashing into pieces.
He has exhibited in some of the most important galleries and museums in the world, as well as participating in the Venice Biennale and Kassel's Documenta. In 2010 he designed the successful Tate Modern, covering the museum's turbines with porcelain pipes, collaborating with Chinese artisans to create 100m copies.
His first truly international show took place in 2012, however he was unable to attend due to his exile, having been accused of conspiracy in his native country by the Chinese government. The exhibition was a retrospective titled "Entrelacs" and was dedicated to Jeu de Paume - it consisted of 500 photos, videos and texts, bringing together across different formats the key moments of his life. When the exhibition opened in Paris, the Chinese embassy was not invited, but it managed to run smoothly in Spain where it was represented by the well-known gallery Ivorypress.
In 2013 Weiwei presented his exhibition "Resistance and Tradition" at the Centro Andaluz de Arte Contemporáneo, which also included the release of the document "Never Sorry" by Alison Klayman - a biopic of the artist touching lightly on contemporary China. David Harvey was reported as saying that the artist "merges China's tradition of culture, Western art and a variety of techniques to uniquely express information capitalism." His most representative works include "Bird's Nest", "Snake Ceiling", "Descending Light", "Cube Light", "Rooted Upon" and "Remembering".
His work can currently be seen in the UK at an exhibition titled "According to What?", open until August 10, 2014. The exhibition includes old chairs representing former dissidents of the Chinese government, banned from travelling by the authorities. According to Clare Lilley, despite the individual chairs giving an impression of "calm and peace", the intended message is that "life is incredibly difficult and violent for millions of people".
Throughout the summer, Ai Weiwei will exhibit at the Martin-Gropius-Bau in Berlin and also in New York. Full details can be obtained in our article on the Top 10 Exhibitions in New York.
- Written by Alejandra de Argos
The Garage Center for Contemporary Culture is a non-profit organization opened in 2008 by collector Dasha Zhukova in what was once a bus station.
On May 1st this year, the center changed its name to The Garage Museum of Contemporary Art and relocated to Gorky Park, with the aim of becoming an international point of reference in contemporary art. “Do It Moscow” is the center’s first exhibition since the move.
In this exhibition, the museum becomes an interactive space: a total of 80 artists from all over the world have provided the initial concept for their work together with instructions for use, and hundreds of local visitors have come to the center to see the exhibition and “follow” the instructions. Visitors thus play an active role in the exhibition, as participants as well as spectators, and the center’s staff is on hand to explain how each installation works and what the instructions are. There were many groups of art students visiting the exhibition when I was there, and the experience as a whole was enjoyable and enriching for its singularity.
The initiative, which began in January 2014, sees various centers and museums, as well as local students and artists, taking part. Thousands of visitors also help bring the initiative alive through their many interpretations of the individual art works.
The first installation one is greeted with is a messy bedroom where t-shirts, pillows, underwear and boots are all strewn across the floor, as if something dramatic had just happened. The artist John Chamberlain dictated the instructions and Lawrence Weiner interpreted them. The role of the spectator was to change the course of the events being represented by physically changing the composition.
Another installation consisted of colourful knitted structures, reflecting architect Sejima Kazuyo’s idea of building architecture for dogs. In the meantime, a Moscow Art Lyceum student was taking photos of the installation according to instructions by Christian Boltanski. The supervisor of this specific installation also played a part, insisting that the dogs wear muzzles for safety reasons.
Chinese artist Cao Fei had set up a soapbox where participants could stand up and take on the role of newly appointed presidents of their nation — they were thus invited to give a 20-minute presidential speech and have it recorded in the process.
Erwin Wurms’ offering was an invitation to the public to insert their legs through the sleeves of a sweater and to assume a statue position for 20 seconds.
Another surprising piece was by controversial Guatemalan artist Aníbal López, who had placed a sign which read “For Rent” next to a series of his own paintings, the idea being that for $20 visitors could rent one of his paintings for a day, with the revenue going towards the production of future works by other artists.
There was great variety to be seen among the installations: a standalone wall by Carlos Cruz Diez, a corner with a mountain of sweets by Félix Gónzalez-Torres, shelves painted by children with the covers of books they’d like to read, paintings by art students from Moscow’s British School of Design, scribbles… The initial idea for the exhibition came from Greek-born artist and architect Andreas Angelidakis, who has shown a real commitment to involving the audience directly in the art installation, which will in fact be destroyed when this temporary exhibition comes to a close.
- Written by Maira Herrero
Contributed by: Maira Herrero,
Is fashion art? “That’s the question of the century for our profession”.
That’s Dries Van Noten’s response to Pamela Golbin’s interview question. Golbin is the Head of Fashion and Fabrics at the Museum and curator of the exhibition, and the publication of the interview marks the opening of Inspirations at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs in Paris.
On display at the exhibition is the innovative body of work by Dries Van Noten: the way he treats and repurposes fabric, the richness of his embroidery and his daring and unorthodox combinations. His creative process reveals the disparate elements and influences from many different disciplines that inspired him in the creation of some truly timeless pieces. We never perceive direct associations between the source of inspiration and the end result, though — this is subtle inspiration, in the form of gestures, scents, colours, songs, paintings...
His idea of design has nothing to do with current trends — rather, he allows himself to be influenced by what the world around him as to offer, be it folkloric traditions from afar, or a certain film such as Jane Campion’s The Piano, Balenciaga’s wonderful costumes, or even David Bowie’s music. What we see here is a collection of everything that crossed his path and attracted his attention during the last three decades of his career.
The Belgian designer has collaborated with architect Jean-Dominique Secondi on this exhibition, the latter being responsible for the installation, the distribution of the pieces and the mise-en-scène of the many sources of inspiration, thereby attempting to define the role that fashion plays in culture. “Everything that I like is here, everything that has given me ideas, everything that forms the basis of each of my collections”. The installation itself is simply another part of his creative work.
The mise-en-scène here is a real treat for lovers of visual spectacle. The space is filled with darkness punctuated by dramatic lighting — not only can we admire Van Noten’s designs but also all those images that have inspired him through the years — paintings, designs by other great fashion artists, photographs, film clips and of course the floral prints that have become a staple of his creative output.
“This is the result of great team-work and is, in fact, an exercise in pure style” — Van Noten’s larger-than-life personality and innovative spirit are clearly on show here, in the Indian embroidery, the impossible dyes, the Italian and French printed fabrics, the patchwork montages and the sense of extravagance present in each beautifully—crafted piece.
Through this exhibition I think Van Noten is able to give an answer to the question of what value does fashion hold within the larger world of culture in the modern world, by revealing the intense creative process that exists behind each and every piece on display. Fashion is in fact a language, representing the designer, the consumer, the environment — it represents culture as a whole.
Dries Van Noten, born in Antwerp in 1958, graduated from his hometown’s Royal Academy of Fine Arts and presented his first collection in London in 1986 as part of the Antwerp Six group. He has being working tirelessly since then.
Until August 31, 2014 at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs, Paris
- Written by Matteo Mottin
Yesterday, May 15th, inaugurated “Suites”, the new solo exhibition by Olve Sande at Antoine Levi gallery.
Matteo Mottin – in collaboration with ATPdiary – asked some questions to the artist.
ATP: I’d like to start from the title of the exhibition. “Suites” is a word that has different meanings in French and in English (I don’t actually know about Norwegian…). Could you tell me about it?
Olve Sande: The structural basis for this show is a continuation of a correspondence with the norwegian poet Jørn Sværen, where he sent me a series of short notes with the measurements of windows he had encountered in his daily life accompanied by a small text fragment. As a representation of a series of spatial situations, each work in the show is based on the interpretation of these notes. The dimension for the window for the room for the situation. The term suites suggests this set of rooms and the resulting amalgamation of different narratives and situations.
ATP: In “Outs”, your previous personal exhibition at Antoine Levi, you worked inside the gallery space in conjunction with its renovation, transferring the former space’s floor onto the walls of the gallery. Is there any link between “Outs” and “Suites”?
OS: Definitely. The works are in both cases created in the gallery space, and the final outcome of the show is a result of the interaction between a predefined concept, a given material, and the situation of production. It’s a process of reading and writing at the same time.
In this case, the given material was the notes i received from Jørn with the window measurements and its corresponding titles. For this show, the work in the gallery coincides with the process of reading and understanding the titles and relating to the scale of the works, like i had to relate to the given laminate floor of the last show. Working in the same space a second time, there is also the recollection of the previous show which also resonates with the current work and doubles the situation.
ATP: You studied both architecture and literature. In which ways this background has influenced your practice?
OS: At this point it´s a bit difficult see what comes from where. I think the most important implications of my background is that it gave me a quite good understanding what architecture and literature can and cannot be, and it made me realize that my interest was located somewhere in between the two. When i was studying architecture i was more concerned with its narrative potential, and studying literature made me want to explore the physical aspect of language. At some point i realized that art probably was a good place to start if I were to pursue what had started to interest me.
ATP: Could you tell me about the way you work? Do you start with a concept or is it more about experimenting with materials?
OS: As most of my works are produced in a site specific situation within a limited timeframe, it makes my working process quite compartmentalized. Before I begin a new project I try to create a certain distance to my own work so i can develop a conceptual framework without being too concerned with the practical implication of actual production. Between projects I spend most of my time reading whatever catches my interest, browsing through books in the library and taking notes until a new project starts to emerge. I then look into ways of investigating a particular idea, looking into potential manifestations of the project. As the actual production necessarily has to be based on a certain amount of improvisation, this usually implies developing a kind of working procedure so that i have a clear structural basis when I enter the gallery space to make the works. Informed by this new body of works, the show is then succeeded by a kind of retrospective process where I try to get an overview of its conceptual implications before I start looking into new material again.
OLVE SANDE, SUITES, EXHIBITION VIEW, COURTESY THE ARTISTS AND GALERIE ANTOINE LEVI, PARIS; PHOTO: CLAIRE DORN
OLVE SANDE, SUITES, EXHIBITION VIEW, COURTESY THE ARTISTS AND GALERIE ANTOINE LEVI, PARIS; PHOTO: CLAIRE DORN
OLVE SANDE, SUITES, EXHIBITION VIEW, COURTESY THE ARTISTS AND GALERIE ANTOINE LEVI, PARIS; PHOTO: CLAIRE DORN
|Written by our friends at ATPdiary.com in colaboration with Matteo Mottin|
- Written by Maira Herrero
London’s Tate Modern is currently dedicating 14 rooms to the most idiosyncratic works of one of the 20th century’s French geniuses, Henri Matisse — his famous paper cut-outs.
In 1941 his health suffered a great blow and he became wheelchair-bound, but this did not stop his great creative spirit from expressing itself. He focused his creativity on a new language which he called, “painting with scissors” — he didn’t see this as stopping painting, rather a continuation of his creativity and art.
This new visual language consisted of pieces of cut-out paper painted in bright colours, at a time when Europe was being overshadowed by the Second World War. His assistants, led by Lydia Delectorskaya, would paint sheets of paper with brightly coloured gouache and, following the artist’s orders, would hang them on the walls of his studio and bedroom.
Matisse spent long hours reflecting on the different possible combinations before setting out with the scissors. He executed numerous sketches and studied different points of view before deciding on a final composition for his collages.
The exhibition includes a number of films that help us get closer to Matisse’s creative process. We see how, with strong, sure hands, he cuts away at the paper to create improvised shapes, impossible to define, and how he indicates to Lydia Delectoskaya where they should be placed.
In the cut-outs themselves we can recognize the images that have always been a constant in his art: dynamic dancing scenes (Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 1), seascapes full of fish, corals and leaves (representing his memories of his travels to Tahiti), the blue nudes series, the Moorish mosaics…
The Jazz Book is one of the key pieces of the exhibition, containing 20 sheets of cut-out paper with circus motifs and texts written by Matisse himself. The book is considered one of his most innovative works.
In 1947 he decorated the Rosary chapel in Vence, the work which perhaps more than any other describes his simplifying tendency towards flatter forms. Matisse placed great emphasis in this work, which took him over four years of labour across many different aspects of the church: the composition of the building’s windows, the design of the priest’s liturgical robes, the walls’ murals, the design and structure of the altar, etc. The artist was very pleased with his output, and was known to have called it “the result of all my active life”.
The last rooms of the exhibition are dedicated to larger works, made just before his death in the beginning years of the 50s: Le Perruche et la Sirène, The Snail, Memory of Oceania and Large Decoration with Masks, all of which are in fact displayed together for the first time in London since their creation in 1953.
The exhibition manages to transmit to the visitor all the vitality of the artist and his work — as Benjamin would say, the aura is present here.
Congratulations to Nicholas Serota, director of the Tate Modern, and to all his team!
Henri Matisse. The cut-outs. Tate Modern, Londres. Until September 7, 2014.