art gallery
art gallery

Mucciaccia Gallery is delighted to present the exhibition Tête-à-tête in its gallery in Rome, curated by Catherine Loewe

Tête-à-Tête is an exhibition that explores the private and creative lives of contemporary artist couples.  Here LUX speaks to curator Catherine Loewe about the inspiration behind the show and the fascinating connections between the work of these modern-day duos.

The exhibition Tête-à-tête sizzles through the summer months in the heart of Rome at Mucciaccia Gallery, providing a rare glimpse into the world of creative couples where love, life and art collide. The show features eight acclaimed international contemporary couples whose multi-disciplinary work is placed in dialogue with each other.

The title from the French expression “head to head’ refers to the conversations and dynamic interplay that has such a significant impact on their practices, whether working individually or in collaboration.  In an ever-evolving cultural landscape, this exhibition examines how artists navigate the complexities of relationships while pushing the boundaries of artistic expression in the 21st century.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

LUX:  Where did the inspiration for the show come from?

Catherine Loewe: I’ve always been fascinated by the passionate stories of artist couples who played a key role in the development of avant-garde art.  These revolutionary couples reflected the shifting structure of both art and society, like Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin, Josef and Anni Albers, Max Ernst and Dorothea Tanning, who rode the wave of radical thinking in the wake of Cubism, Bauhaus and Surrealism.

There was a fantastic exhibition at the Barbican that covered this topic and I wanted to bring the narrative up to date with contemporary artists.   I was also inspired by Vasari’s incredible work the Lives of the Artists which so memorably set forth the connections between artists lives and their works, in many ways providing a template for art historical documentation right up to the present day.

art gallery

The exhibition brings together eight internationally acclaimed contemporary artist couples, featuring multi- disciplinary work, including photography, textiles, sculpture, painting and digital art.

LUX:  How did you select the artist couples?

CL: I was looking to include artists working across variety of disciplines from painting, sculpture, textiles and photography to convey an overview of artistic practices today.  I was greatly supported by Maryam Eisler, whose incredible photographic portraits feature as part of the show and the accompanying catalogue.

Thanks to Maryam we included pioneering artists who have witnessed seismic social, political and cultural changes like Emilia and Ilya Kabakov, the hugely influential conceptual artists whose story began in Soviet era Russia. Also, Iranian couple Shirin Neshat and Shoja Anzari, whose powerful and poetic film and photographic work centres around issues of exile, oppression and resilience.

These artists couples have truly created a lasting legacy for future generations.  British artist Rob and Nick Carter have worked in collaboration for over 25 years, pioneering cutting-edge digital techniques and more recently exploring notions of authorship through the use of robots.

The paintings in the show based on Venus, Botticelli’s rendition reprised by Andy Warhol were executed by a six-axis robot called Heidi, switching brushes and colours using hundreds of thousands of lines of bespoke software code – something I think would have amazed both Botticelli and Warhol.

art pieces

As the title which refers to the French expression “head to head’ suggests, the exhibition offers a rare glimpse into the dynamics behind artist relationships, revealed through intimate conversations with them.

Read more: Dakis Joannou interview in Hydra

LUX:  Were there other artists you would have liked to include?

CL: It is a big theme and there are many artists we could have shown like Bharti Kher and Subodh Gupta, Elmgreen and Dragset, John Currin and Rachel Feinstein, Rashid Johnson and Sheri Hovsepian to name but a few – perhaps for an enlarged version of the show.

LUX:  Had all the artists shown together before?

CL: Charlotte and Philip Colbert had never shown together, although both fascinatingly share a subversive and surreal outlook, curiously mirroring each other with their chosen symbols, in Charlotte’s case the all-seeing eye, uterus, and breast and Philip’s the lobster, cactus and shark.

These motifs are seamlessly fused in their house which is a work of art in itself filled to the rafters with their art and designs – my favourite being a bathtub called Mother’s Milk made up of over a hundred silicone breasts.

LUX:  How has being together influenced the work of the artists?

CL: Creatively, these partnerships clearly act as a catalyst for artistic growth and exploration, the constant exchange of ideas is something one cannot achieve alone.  Whilst some couples maintain separate practices and others collaborate, the way they bounce ideas of each other creates this dynamic flow which translated into their work often produces major breakthroughs.

Of course, there are also rivalries, and I love the stormy life of Italian painters Pizzi Cannella and Rosella Fumasoni who so evocatively sums it up saying, “Talent always needs company. The beauty of having an artist close to you is the mindless mutual trust in the invisible.”

art pieces

With works displayed in dialogue with each other, the exhibition explores how the creative interplay between these couples has impacted their practices

LUX: How did you tackle the issues of gender inequality?

CL: For centuries the prevailing concept of the male genius meant that women’s careers were eclipsed by their ‘famous’ partners, whilst they were locked in the roles of mistress, muse or mother.  Such was the case with Jackson Pollock and Lee Krasner or the often toxic relationship between Pablo Picasso and Francoise Gilot – both women are only now receiving long overdue recognition.

Today these issues are certainly being vigorously addressed but still not fully resolved, for instance Sue Arrowsmith struggled to gain exposure in contrast to the meteoric career of Ian Davenport, who was one of the YBA’s in Damien Hirst’s circle.

What did however become apparent whilst doing this show is the huge amount of love, support and resilience these couples have in the face of many challenges both creative and personal.

The interviews reveal how much of a juggling act being an artist couple can be, particularly with the demands of a hectic international exhibition schedule and a young family – more like the collision of love, art and life!

art pieces

The exhibition in Rom opens its doors from the 10th May until the 2nd August 2024

LUX: What did you most enjoy about this show?

CL: It is beautiful to see the synergies between the works of these artists – like the striking geometric sculptures of Conrad Shawcross juxtaposed with the tactile, abstract hand stitched pieces by Carolina Mazzolari – a visual yin and yang both in their respective ways profoundly philosophical.

art gallery visitors

The guest enjoyed the Tête-à-tête exhibition at the Mucciaccia Gallery

Or the singing colours of Annie Morris stacked spheres in conversation with the hovering hues of Idris Khan which are so full of emotional and spiritual yearning, charting their experiences of love, loss, and catharsis.  Sue Arrowsmith and Ian Davenport have created paintings especially for the show that explore the interplay of colour, form and space take inspiration from the work of Fra Angelico fusing Sue’s use of shimmering gold leaf and Ian’s interest in the palette of Old Masters.

I also really enjoyed spending time with the artists in their homes and studios, doing photo-shoots and interviews, which I tried to keep quite light-hearted, but which turned out to be surprisingly revealing.

Tête-à-tête runs until 2 August 2024, at the Mucciaccia Gallery, Rome

mucciaccia.com

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Dakis Joannou with Live Painting of Dakis and Lietta, 2018, by George Condo.
Dakis Joannouwith Live Painting of Dakis and Lietta, 2018, by George Condo.

Dakis Joannou with Live Painting of Dakis and Lietta, 2018, by George Condo.

He was Jeff Koons’ best man, is a regular dinner companion of Maurizio Cattelan
and Urs Fischer, and has invited George Condo to create a show for his non-profit Deste Foundation on a Greek island this summer. Darius Sanai meets Dakis Joannou, the art world’s most consummate host and one of its most imaginative and significant collectors, and finds that what drives him is friendship and curiosity

Anyone floating in more rarefied circles at Art Basel, the world’s preeminent art fair, in Switzerland this June won’t help but hear “See you at Hydra!” being tossed around with parting air kisses as collectors depart. In this case, the reference to the Greek island is not to a private yacht or party, but the most desirable and intriguingly democratic art event of the year.

The brainchild of the Greek-Cypriot tycoon, collector, and artists’ friend Dakis Joannou, “Hydra” refers to a series of initiatives both on the Greek mainland and the small island near Athens, centred on the spaces of Joannou’s non-profit Deste Foundation for Contemporary Art (the name Deste comes from the Greek word for “look”).

Joannouwith Maurizio Cattelan<br />

Dakis Joannou with his dear friend, italian artist Maurizio Cattelan

The building on Hydra is a converted slaughterhouse, which each year features one of the world’s most interesting art shows and related events in the Hydra Slaughterhouse Project. This year’s superstar is George Condo, whose show is entitled “The Mad and the Lonely”.

He follows on the heels of Jeff Koons two years ago, who also designed the exterior of Joannou’s yacht. The uniqueness of Hydra is generated by Joannou himself.

No usual collector, he is, famously, close friends with the artists whose work he procures, spending long evenings with the likes of Koons, Condo, Urs Fischer and Maurizio Cattelan
, talking about life, the universe and everything.

“We meet, we drink, we go for dinner, we talk – maybe it’s about gossip or about art,” says Joannou. “I love how artists think, the original thoughts they have and the angles they take about things. It’s very different to say the way a banker thinks.

I enjoy being with artists a lot.” While there are private dinners, the shows are open to the public and, as it’s a small place, artists and art-world illuminati bump around with tourists who come along to see the art. Anyone can experience 90 per cent of the buzz at Hydra just by buying a ferry ticket. Is Joannou driven by a higher philanthropic calling?

Joannou and Jeff Koons,with Koons’ Gazing Ball Tripod, 2020-2022

Joannou and American artist,Jeff Koons, with Koons’ Gazing Ball Tripod, 2020-2022

“No, not at all. I don’t put any responsibility on myself about what I’m doing,” he says. “I just do what I feel like doing and it’s up to the public to respond. I’m not doing it for this sake or that sake, I’m just doing what I feel I should do.”

Is it important for Joannou that visitors understand the underlying impetus behind the shows, his raisons d’être? “It’s up to them, I don’t mind,” he says. “I’m just putting out there what I think and feel, but people can take it as they like.”

But he must take some pleasure out of GREEK GIFTS He was Jeff Koons’ best man, is a regular dinner companion of Maurizio Cattelan
and Urs Fischer, and has invited George Condo to create a show for his non-profit Deste Foundation on a Greek island this summer.

Darius Sanai meets Dakis Joannou, the art world’s most consummate host and one of its most imaginative and significant collectors, and finds that what drives him is friendship and curiosity 18 creating something out of nothing, so to speak? “I am very pleased to see a positive response,”
he says.

Joannou with artist Jeff Koons and artist Urs Fischer

Joannou with artist Jeff Koons and artist Urs Fischer

“I cannot deny that. I mean, we started on Hydra in 2009 with about 150 people on a long dinner table. And now there are up to 4,000 people who come, so I am very proud of getting a big crowd there.” Joannou says that he gives complete carte blanche to his artists.

When I ask him about Condo’s theme of “The Mad and the Lonely”, he replies, “You’ll have to ask George about that.” Like many highly driven people, Joannou has a hyper-creative mind of his own, and he knows enough to respect his fellow creatives.

See you on Hydra.

You can read Maryam Eisler’s interview with George Condo here.

Condo’s “The Mad and the Lonely” exhibition is at the Deste Foundation Project Space Slaughterhouse, Hydra, Greece, 18 June – 31 October 2024; deste.gr

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a man with a pencil between his lips and a hat on his head
a man with a pencil between his lips and a hat on his head

The late Armando Testa founded Studio Armando Testa, one Italy’s largest agencies, in 1956.

Armando Testa is the greatest 20th-century design figure you’ve never heard of. Armando’s creations, straddling design and art, were groundbreaking and epoch-defining, but suffering from snobbery on the part of the high-art world towards what was and still is considered the lowlier and more commercial discipline of design. A new show at the Venice Biennale, conceived by Gemma Testa, Founder of Acacia Foundation, and curated by London’s Design Museum Director Tim Marlow, seeks to redress the balance. Here, Testa and Marlow discuss Armando’s legacy in a conversation moderated by LUX and edited by Isabella Fergusson

LUX: Gemma, why did you collaborate with Tim Marlow in curating the Armando Testa retrospective at the Venice Biennale this year?

Gemma Testa: I wanted to enable the work of Armando to become internationally known. Tim seemed an excellent choice, with his deep knowledge of both contemporary art and design.

a chair made of meat

Meat Chair, by Armando Testa, 1978.

LUX: Tim, what made you interested in the project?

Tim Marlow: This is one of the most important Italian artists in post-war and visual culture whom I didn’t know enough about, and many others like me don’t. The chance to explore and shed light on someone who beautifully straddles the worlds of graphic design and art, advertising and popular culture and supposed fine art was a wonderful opportunity.

Tyres with an elephant trunk; artworks

Advertisement for Pirelli tyres, Armando Testa, 1954

LUX: Could you tell us about Testa’s significance?

TM: Armando was utterly radical from the beginning. He trained, learned painting, visual arts, art history, graphic design and advertising. He was a pop artist before Pop Art had even been invented. He understood the distilled language of Minimalism – look at his work in the 1940s and 50s before Minimalism existed. But he also understood that visual culture was a means of communication. There is this extraordinary creative trajectory that straddles very different worlds. His favourite word is ‘synthesis’.

GT: The main difficulty for Armando, for many years, was the lack of a proper gallery to represent him. Advertising is seen simply as commerce. Galleria Continua asked me to present Armando. This is a great opportunity to let his work gain recognition – he always believed in the great connection between art and advertising. While working on campaigns, he asked me many times, “What do you think about this?” I’d answer, “What is the aim? What are you working for? Who is the client?” and he’d answer, “You have to look at the sign; you have to look at the mark, at the drawing itself.” He has always understood and believed that there is a link between these two disciplines – advertising and art.

chilli on a plinth in a gallery

Tango Caliente, by Armando Testa

LUX: What are your purposes for the Venice exhibition?

TM: It’s the need and opportunity to present Armando’s works to a new audience, art scene and culture. The natural place for Testa – as a designer and as an artist – might be the Architecture Biennale, which is porous, looking at all sorts of disciplines. But it is decisive and important that it opens during the Art Biennale. Though the art world talks of porosity, it can be very territorial, and it can be a little defensive about people who come from disciplines other than the art world itself. Armando genuinely had a symbiotic relationship between the two. Even artists like Michelangelo Pistoletto – who studied at Armando’s design school – felt the importance of Armando as an artist and, as he put it, a “genius ad man”.

pictures in a gallery

“Punt e Mes”, by Armando Testa, 1974

LUX: Gemma, how do you respond to that?

GT: Yes, some friends of mind suggested that I present Armando to the Architecture Biennale, but I felt that this could have limited his position. And there is a generation who know none of his works as an artist: this is who the exhibition is for.

TM: The great ‘Punt e Mes’ campaign is a very condensed example of why Testa is so brilliant – his sphere, half-sphere piece. It is a pun on the name ‘Punt e Mes’ [‘Point and a Half’]. It is a visual pun on a sphere and a half-sphere. He paints it. He makes a sculpture of it as well as a poster of it. He interrogates it in every way and makes it universal. An advertising campaign for Vermouth, using an Italian dialect, ought only to resonate with a specifically Italian audience, but it doesn’t. That is what we want to show.

LUX: How would Armando wish to be remembered following the Biennale? As an artist, a designer, or something else?

GT: Perhaps he would want to be remembered more as a creative, a multidisciplinary artist than an advertiser or a designer; the exhibition represents all the shades of his creative universe.

Exhibition Armando Testa is at the Galleria Internazionale d’Arte Moderna Ca’ Pesaro, Venice, 20 April-15 September 2024

capesaro.visitmuve.it

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gallery
gallery

The current exhibition at Lucca Hue-Williams gallery “Albion Jeune” are paintings from saudi-arbian artist Alia Ahmad

Lucca Hue-Williams, London’s coolest young gallerist, reopens her Albion Jeune gallery with an exhibition by emerging Saudi artist Alia Ahmad which transposes a vibrant colour palette on her homeland’s desert landscapes

“Thought to Image” is intriguing as an ode to Saudi Arabia’s deserts and its rapidly growing metropolises. Ahmad’s work is a tribute not just to modern, rapidly developing Saudi but to an ancient land that is both rediscovered and lost in today’s rapid development.

paintings

Alia Ahmad aims to investigate the balance between natural elements, such as light and plants, by painting them even more explicitly.

It is also a sellout show for one of the world’s most exciting young gallerists, who is developing a reputation for discovering and nurturing talent from around the world. Ahmad herself, gently and wittily subversive, was at the opening herself.

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

art gallery

The Albion jeune art gallery is located at 16 -17 Little Portland Street in London

Her use of colour and texture is just as fascinating, particularly where the trees (or long objects) are rooted. These maximalist shapes and colours certainly give a sense of busyness; just that of a major, populated city. However, these colours are not particularly telling of the buildings’ rather monotonous, gray and urbanised design. In using this style, Ahmad simultaneously captures the modern denseness and the cultural history of Sadu; these colours take from the embroidery from Saudi, an ancient tribal weaving craft by the Bedouin people.

Read more: Leading MACAN, Indonesia’s first contemporary art museum

woman and man in front of an art gallery

Lucca Hue-Williams, the owner of the Albion Jeune art gallery in London, at the exhibition opening evening

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Woman sitting on the ground in front of colourful painting

Woman sitting on the ground in front of colourful painting

London-based Israeli artist Yulia Iosilzon creates a thespian world, somewhere between fairy tale and natural landscape across ceramics and painting. Her signature snails trail around the frames of vibrant, allegorical paintings of calligraphic movement. LUX explores her new solo show at Berntson Bhattarcharjee in London.

Two colourful paintings on a wall with a big snail in the middle.

Several layers of symbolism offer snails as an important motif for the artist from motherhood to tranquillity to restlessness

Snails perch on canvas corners, across five-tiered cakes, some small, some larger. One – nearly human size – sits elegantly in the middle of the gallery floor. Others melt into the paintings themselves, in communion with circus-like figures, swirling around one another in rich colours. These stand at the intersection of her work – between reality and fantasy, between almost unnerving, uncanny and playful.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Little snails climbing on the side of a colourful painting.

Applying paint onto sheer silk, the artist’s technique recalls Helen Frankenthaler’s style from the 1950s and 60s

Born in Moscow, and with frequent relocations, Yulia connects to the snail’s pursuit of comfort and security, in slow calm and restlessness, in spiralling refuge. And to see the gallery adorned with both thespian silk of bright pink and these snails of earthy colours across the gallery gives an intense feeling of familiar-unfamiliarity that good art does. So, too, does the paintings’ figures of meek, innocent faces – and the combination of their sharp triangular figures with the calligraphic swirls.

Yulia quite literally creates a theatrical stage within this exhibition. It’s a scene resembling the interior of a snail’s shell – like something of a film set, cocooned in the Berntson Bhattarcharjee’s basement (a gallery which transforms itself quite remarkably for each exhibition).

Woman that is painting, holding colourful painting up

Yulia Iosilzon cites children’s illustration and theatre as sources of inspiration

Snails were already seen a lot in images of Matisse, Dali and Dutch Renaissance painters. During this historical period, snails symbolised the Virgin Birth, and embodied notions of resurrection, purity and mortality.

Read more: Interview with British-Iranian Artist Kour Pour

Modus Operandi at the Berntson Bhattarcharjee Gallery, Mayfair, London, will run until 11 May 2024.

See More: bbgallery.art

 

 

 

 

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tropical villa doorway
house with green door by the sea

Inspired by the vibrant colours and laid-back lifestyle of the island of Capri, fashion designer Catherine Prevost’s latest collection was celebrated with an in-store exhibition of artworks by Maryam Eisler, Karolina Woolf and Pandemonia. While the show has now ended and most of us remain confined within the borders of our countries, we can still escape to sunnier shores through powerful imagery. Below, we share a curated selection from Maryam Eisler’s latest photographic series

All images copyright and courtesy of Maryam Eisler.  maryameisler.com @maryameisler

For more information on Catherine Prevost’s Capri-inspired collection, visit: catherineprevost.com

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art exhibition installation

Gillian Wearing Lockdown exhibition view: Maureen Paley, London, 2020 © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

Lockdown: a word that’s more familiar to most of us now than it was this time last year, and one that’s laden with personal and collective meaning. Taking the word as both title and subject, Gillian Wearing’s latest show at Maureen Paley, London is at once a deeply personal revelation of the artist’s creative response, and a wider, more complex meditation on self and the time in which we now live.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The artworks – a series of new self-portraits, a wax sculpture (Mask, Masked), and a video work (Your Views, 2013 – present) – are displayed in two rooms between which visitors’ movements are choreographed by notices on the walls prescribing physical distancing.

watercolour portrait

Lockdown Portrait 3, 2020 by Gillian Wearing, framed watercolour on paper, 39.5 x 31.5 x 2.6 cm © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

self portrait

Lockdown Portrait 5, 2020 by Gillian Wearing, framed watercolour on paper, 39.5 x 31.5 x 2.6 cm © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

Wearing’s self-portraits, made in watercolour, are a product of the prolonged, enforced isolation brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic. A departure from the photography and videography she is famous for, these small-scale paintings bespeak the self-reflection, both literally and figuratively, which Wearing’s lockdown precipitated. ‘Having represented myself in photography both as myself and as others,’ Wearing writes, ‘I wanted to see how paint and even the manner of painting could change my appearance.’

self portrait painting

Untitled (lockdown portrait), 2020 by Gillian Wearing, oil on board 30.5 x 40.5 cm © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

It might be a new medium but the paintings bear all the marks of the artist’s best-known work: the tensions between public and private, between our inner and outer selves. Think ‘Signs that say what you want them to say and not Signs that say what someone else wants you to say’ (1992-93): the police officer whose card reads ‘HELP’. Here, it is Wearing’s own quizzical eyes staring over the viewer’s shoulder, lost in thought, her hair tied up or loose, torso loosely sketched. How do we construct our identities, these pictures ask, how do we perform them?

Read more: British artist Hugo Wilson on creating art from chaos

mask sculpture

Mask Masked, 2020 by Gillian Wearing, fabric mask, wax sculpture, steel rod and wooden plinth, 56 x 14 x 10 cm © Gillian Wearing, courtesy Maureen Paley, London / Hove

Mask, Masked underlines this question in fleshy three-dimensions. A severed hand reaches skyward, holding a life-like mask of Wearing’s face, eyes removed to reveal the wall behind. Over the mouth and nose is a second mask, reminiscent of the now ubiquitous face coverings worn in public spaces. An impossible masquerade ball attendee, the uncanny sculpture makes manifest the layers of concealment, of fiction, at play in person-to-person interactions, another layer added by the culture of the pandemic.

In a second room, Your Views, Wearing’s open-submission video work, brings together short clips of contributors’ ‘views’ from homes throughout the world, revealed when curtains or blinds are drawn back. Using footage taken during lockdown, including the ‘clap for carers’ celebrations, Your Views is a collage of lived experience. Rather than examine a face, this time the viewer tries on others’ masks, looks out onto the unfolding world. You might not see yourself in Wearing’s lockdown, her artistic response to its solitude, but the artist demonstrates your response has been creative too: your views are here, you are not alone.

‘Lockdown’ by Gillian Wearing runs until 25 October 2020. The exhibition is open by appointment. For more information visit: maureenpaley.com

Tom Cornelius

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black and white portrait man and woman
woman by swimming pool

‘Faye Dunaway, Morning After Winning Oscar’, 1976. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

Over the course of his 60 year career, Terry O’Neill photographed the world’s most famous celebrities, but the true power of his images comes from the intimacy of his lens, his ability to see beyond the glamour to reveal the true spirit of the individual.

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Audrey Hepburn

‘Audrey Hepburn, Plays Cricket’, South of France, 1966. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

portrait of men laughing

‘Peter Sellers and Roger Moore’, Beverly Hills, 1970s. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

Born in Romford, Essex, O’Neill’s family intended him to join the Catholic priesthood, but he ended up leaving school at 15 to play drums in a band, which eventually led him to photography. He trailed behind bands such as The Beatles and The Rolling Stones, and walked onto film sets in Europe and Hollywood, quickly befriending many of the stars which allowed him access to their private lives and resulted in long-lasting relationships. He photographed David Bowie over a twenty year period, capturing his artistic evolution from Space Oddity singer to Ziggy Stardust to Thin White Duke, Muhammad Ali relaxing in an arm chair reading a paper, Richard Burton wearing a shower cap in the bath, Brigitte Bardot posing with a cigar between her teeth and Audrey Hepburn playing cricket on the lawn in the South of France amongst many others.

Read more: 3 fine dining recipes by Le Clarence head chef Christophe Pelé

woman smoking cigar

‘Brigitte Bardot’, Spain, 1971. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

black and white portrait man and woman

‘Jean Shrimpton and Terence Stamp,’ London, 1964. Photograph by Terry O’Neill, Iconic Images courtesy of Maddox Gallery

The first retrospective of the British photographer’s work (he died in 2019) Every Picture Tells a Story at Maddox Gallery in Gstaad brings together a collection of these candid, photojournalistic portraits, revealing both how O’Neill pioneered the concept of behind-the-scenes reportage and captured the essence of a bygone era.

‘Every Picture Tells a Story’ runs until 29 August at Maddox Gallery, Gstaad, Switzerland. For more information visit: maddoxgallery.co.uk

 

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black and white butterflies
black and white butterflies

‘Butterflies’ by James Wilde, MA Photography

As the RCA’s virtual graduate show comes to a close, LUX explores its diverse offering of curated collections and events

Over the last few months, art schools across the UK have been heavily criticised by students for digitising their degree shows. Whilst it’s true that something is inevitably lost in the process of viewing art virtually, digital shows can also provide a unique creative opportunity for young artists to present their work in a different format to different audiences.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

In the case of the Royal College of Art, the school has launched an entirely new ‘digital discovery’ platform, bringing together around 850 emerging artists, designers and creatives from the departments of Architecture, Arts & Humanities, Communication and Design. The platform profiles the students and groups work together in thoughtfully curated collections alongside a programme of events which run throughout the day in the form of Q&A discussions, presentations and screenings.

cake painting

‘Bittersweet’ by Olivia Sterling, MA painting

“This is a show that is unlike any other. It marks the culmination and conclusion of work that was made in extraordinary times. It was work made in flats and apartments and homes around the world. Work made on the dining room table. It somehow marks – I think – a victory for creativity, for ideas. And for excellence, regardless of the circumstance…,” said Sir Jony Ive, RCA Chancellor, whose curated collection entitled ‘Optimistic, Singular and New’, features a small series of bold artworks that employ a variety of different artistic mediums.

landscape photography

‘Untitled’ by Lowena Poole, MA Photography

Read more: Three top gallerists on how the art world is changing

Artist Es Devlin has curated another intriguing collection of work entitled ‘Towards a Digital Placeness.’ “I came to this impressive final year online show at the RCA with a mission: to find the artists, thinkers and makers who might become the builders and cultivators of digital ‘placeness’,” she says. “I was looking for those who might help those in my generation emerge from the shady limbo-land of half-in-half-out, half in the car, half answering emails, half talking to a friend, half flicking through Instagram. I was looking for those who might help us cultivate a more honest, more full-bodied commitment to our digital presence.” The works that she has chosen engage with topics of the future such as AI and eco-anxiety, expressing a tension between familiarity and otherness through the creation of new and striking visual languages.

explosion of pink

‘In the Pink’ by Rosa Whiteley

The spontaneity and slowness of a physical gallery experience might be missing, but the virtual sphere offers diverse audiences a rare opportunity to access and engage with the next generation of artists. All you need to do is open your laptop and click the link: 2020.rca.ac.uk

The RCA 2020 graduate show runs until 31 July 2020. For more information on the school, visit: rca.ac.uk

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Two men standing on promenade
Two men standing on promenade

Jean-François Dieterich (left) with Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar at the Villa Cuccia-Noya.

The south of France, home to Matisse, Cézanne and Van Gogh, has one of the greatest artistic legacies in the world. Now the mayor of one of its most exclusive communities wants to create a cultural heritage for the next generation, as Lanie Goodman discovers

“I am made of all that I have seen,” French artist Henri Matisse once famously stated. The grand master of colour certainly got an eyeful during his lifetime of world travels. But when Matisse first arrived on the Côte d’Azur in 1917, he was so taken with the sunlit vistas of luxuriant gardens, graceful palms and the shimmering blue sea that he decided to settle in the south of France for the rest of his life. The artist’s love of plants extended to a philosophical perspective on all living things. “We ought to view ourselves with the same curiosity and openness with which we study a tree, the sky or a thought, because we too are linked to the entire universe,” Matisse muses in his writings.

For over a century, European crowned heads, artists and writers have flocked to the south of France to create their own private Eden, and predictably, the 2.48 sq km commune of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat – a lush secluded peninsula of seaside splendour midway between Nice and Monaco – has a rich history of outstanding artistic effervescence.

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These days, the town’s mayor, Jean-François Dieterich, is aiming to revive the cultural excitement with a contemporary art exhibition – with about 15 works in total – of French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar to inaugurate the beautifully restored Villa Namouna, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s brand new cultural space. This initiative is part of an ongoing programme to revive the once celebrated artistic enclave in the commune by showcasing living artists of international renown. “I find that the approach of Behnam-Bakhtiar – who has found serenity, joie de vivre and sources of inspiration through the outstanding natural landscapes of this peninsula – has a certain continuity with the artists of the 50s,” Dieterich says. “But he also has his own contemporary abstract technique and a rich palette of colours.”

abstract painting

My Tree of Life (2019–20) by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar.

For the 36-year-old artist, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, who now lives and works in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat, the timeless Mediterranean landscape has had a profound effect on his point of view and his palette, much like Matisse. “My art has definitely changed since I moved here in 2010,” he says. “Although the technique I used, peinture raclée, was similar to now, a lot of the works were dark.”

Above all, explains Behnam-Bakhtiar, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat has been a grounding force. “This place gave me a new life and something that helped me to become a more complete, balanced human being. It has helped me cope with everything that has happened to me. I shifted my whole focus on things that are truly valuable, such as the dormant energy that exists inside us and our connection to nature.”

Read more: Discovering Deutsche Bank’s legendary art collection

We are at Behnam-Bakhtiar’s studio, situated on an upper floor of a white villa on the Cap. The room is ablaze with colour, a mesmerising assembly of large abstract canvases, stacked one behind the other and propped against the wall; in the centre of the room is the artist’s working space, a table littered with tubes of paint and a scraper. From the window, you gaze out at a palm tree, a verdant garden and patches of sea.

The show, entitled ‘Rebirth’, will debut with a one-day private viewing of 35 new paintings held at Villa Cuccia-Noya, a sumptuous waterfront estate owned by distinguished businessman, philanthropist and art collector Basil Sellers. “What an enormous energy rises from his works,” Sellers enthuses, referring to Behnam-Bakhtiar’s latest canvases. “I was astounded.”

Abstract painting in blue and yellow

Blue Soul Groove (2019) by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Energy is indeed the very term Behnam-Bakhtiar uses to describe the palpable vibrancy of landscapes that he tries to capture in his paintings. Under the umbrella of the rebirth theme, the artist will also unveil two public installations – one on the Cap and the other in the village. It will be a first for the community in terms of public artwork – one of the works will be a lightweight but huge wrought-iron sculpture in which three suspended figures of a man, woman and child look as if they have sprung from the earth. As Behnam-Bakhtiar explains, the idea of the work is to convey “harmonious living with nature”, something which he feels should be transmitted to future generations.

The Paris-born artist, whose previous exhibitions include ‘Oneness Wholeness’ at London’s Saatchi Gallery in 2018 and at a Christie’s Middle Eastern, Modern and Contemporary Art exhibition in London in 2019, spent his formative years in Tehran during the Iran-Iraq war. Articulate, calm and soft-spoken, Behnam-Bakhtiar briefly alludes to his imprisonment and torture but would rather speak about transformation. “My last exhibition, at the Setareh Gallery in Düsseldorf, Germany, was called ‘Extremis’ and it focused on all the hardcore experiences that happened in my past. For Saint-Jean, I wanted to do something that is the other side of the coin, to represent positivity and light.”

As you stand in front of his recent series of paintings, ‘Trees of Paradise’, the blended bright colours slowly conjure discernible shapes that “are part of the Cap Ferrat scenery”, Behnam-Bakhtiar says, urging me to touch the canvas. Despite the complex texture that meets the eye, the surface is surprisingly smooth. For inspiration, he adds, he often walks through a wooded section of the Cap, not far from the curvaceous Villa Brasilia, designed by architect Oscar Niemeyer.

Two men standing in front of villa

Dieterich and Behnam-Bakhtiar at Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s town hall

“One painting may take me anywhere from five months to a year to finish,” he says, flashing a smile. “It takes a lot of time and patience.” Essentially, he explains, his process consists of painting, scraping, drying – hundreds of times – until he’s happy with the work. “When you know it’s right, you leave it. It just suddenly clicks for me.”

Whether mere coincidence or simply the glamorous allure of this privileged finger of land, a remarkable convergence of writers, artists, filmmakers and actors lived, worked and entertained on Cap Ferrat during the late 1940s and 1950s and the ‘dolce vita’ of the 1960s. Winston Churchill painted on the jetty undisturbed; Picasso sunbathed at the pool of Le Club Dauphin at the Grand-Hôtel du Cap-Ferrat. British writer W Somerset Maugham, in search of the simple life purchased a Moorish-style villa, La Mauresque, planted superb gardens and hosted everyone from artist Marc Chagall (who had a neighbouring home on the Cap Ferrat) to Noel Coward, George Cukor and Harpo Marx. Another illustrious resident was British actor David Niven, who lived in the villa La Fleur du Cap on the coastal Promenade Maurice Rouvier and often lent his home to his friend, Charlie Chaplin.

Read more: In the studio with radical artist Mickalene Thomas

“There were numerous films shot in Saint-Jean,” says mayor Dieterich. “There were also legendary actors and directors who spent time here, such as Gene Kelly, Gregory Peck, Rex Harrison, and Otto Preminger.” However, Cap Ferrat’s glorious artistic heyday revolved around the presence of two major figures: the Greek-born editor and publisher Efstratios Eleftheriades – known as Tériade – and poet, playwright, filmmaker and artist, Jean Cocteau.

In the postwar years, when the Côte d’Azur was a sun-drenched haven for artists, Matisse was a regular visitor to Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat where his friend and collaborator Tériade lived in the turquoise-shuttered Villa Natacha, overlooking the harbour. The influential editor of Verve, who had commissioned every major artist of his time to design covers for his magazine, brought together the likes of Bonnard, Balthus, Miró and Derain. As a mark of friendship, the frail 83-year-old Matisse designed a stained-glass window – a Chinese fish surrounded by begonias – for Tériade’s dining room and also painted the villa’s walls with black enamel plane trees.

During that same period, Cocteau lived in a white-washed seaside house, the Villa Santo Sospir, owned by patroness of the arts, Francine Weisweiller, who had fallen in love with the rugged beauty of the then deserted Cap Ferrat in 1948 and turned it into her dream home. Weisweiller met Cocteau in 1950 when she financed Les Enfants Terribles, the film he had written, and invited him to the villa for a few days. He ended up staying 11 years and decided to ‘tattoo’ the white walls with whimsical mythological frescos. The privately owned villa is currently under restoration to preserve Cocteau’s Greek gods and local fisherman, plus the bohemian jumble of Madeleine Castaing-designed exotic wood furniture and curtains as well as vintage bric-a-brac.

Ocean promenade and villa

The Villa Cuccia-Noya

Behnam-Bakhtiar, who was contacted by the owners of Santo Sospir just prior to the villa’s temporary closure in 2017, was enchanted. “They wanted me to do a show. The energy there was unreal and I went there every day, for about four weeks, trying to take it all in.” His exhibition, ‘Oneness, Wholeness with Jean Cocteau’, consisted of 36 sculptures scattered about the villa and garden, as well as an audio installation with a dialogue between Cocteau and himself.

Does Behnam-Bakhtiar feel in sync with the spirit of his artistic predecessors? The artist pauses, gazing at one of his ongoing ‘Trees of Paradise’ canvases. “You know, I was looking online and stumbled across a video of Cocteau sitting at the same table of Santo Sospir. He’s addressing the people of the year 2000 and saying the same things I’ve been talking about now – about how we are losing our humanity and behaving like robots. It’s a real honour to continue in his footsteps and work with the mayor to help revive what used to be here.”

Nostalgia aside, call it a reawakening of a state of mind when it comes to beauty. Or, as Matisse aptly summed it up: “There are always flowers for those who want to see them.” And Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar would be inclined to agree.

Benham-Bakhtiar’s exhibition ‘Rebirth’ will open with a private view at Villa Cuccia-Noya on 10 September 2020; the show will run at Villa Namouna from 11 September – 11 October 2020.

For more information visit: sassanbehnambakhtiar.com

This story was originally published in the Summer 2020 Issue, out now.

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photograph of pink fields
Contemporary artwork

Crown (2006) by Wangechi Mutu. Courtesy of Deutsche Bank Collection

One of the key elements of this year’s edition of Frieze New York was to have been an exhibition drawn from the legendary art collection of Deutsche Bank, to celebrate its 40th anniversary. The fair may have been postponed, but the significance of the collection, its works and ethos, is undimmed, says Wallace Ludel

At Deutsche Bank’s headquarters in New York, several hundred exceptional works of art are hung throughout the building’s 47 floors. The Wall Street tower was built in the 1980s and certain floors still retain that era’s American wooden-clad banking aesthetic; long oak and cherry desks and accents provide a warmer, more characterful context for the high-calibre artworks than a typical white-cube gallery setting. The click of dress shoes and hum of conference calls in the background create an atmosphere quite unlike the usual art exhibition experience.

The artworks displayed here represent only a fraction of one of the largest corporate art collections in the world, comprising over 55,000 important pieces.

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Deutsche Bank employees are proud of the art that surrounds them, says Friedhelm Hütte, the bank’s global Head of Art. “They feel it helps the company and it does so not only in a general way but also when meeting with clients and prospective clients, because more and more people are interested in art, in going to exhibitions, or wanting to collect.”

photograph of pink fields

Düsseldorf (2018) #1 (2018) by Maria Hassabi. Courtesy of Deutsche Bank Collection

In 2020, Deutsche Bank is celebrating the 40th anniversary of its art collection, as well as the company’s 150th anniversary. Part of the celebration was intended to involve a major exhibition at Frieze New York. The show, titled ‘Portrait of a Collection’, brought together works from more than 40 artists from the bank’s holdings, including works by Wangechi Mutu, Amy Sillman, Glenn Ligon, Camille Henrot, Lucy Dodd, Hank Willis Thomas and many more. And although the fair was cancelled, the importance of the artworks and the philosophy of the collection remains as relevant as ever.

“Deutsche Bank has both the foresight to champion artists such as these in the early stages of their careers, and the power to contextualize them alongside an established canon within their collection,” Loring Randolph, Director of Frieze New York, tells LUX. She adds that Frieze and the bank are “aligned in their commitment to innovative curatorial programming and public art initiatives, including our mutual support and enthusiasm for artists.”

Purple hills of a landscape

Sugar Ray from the series ‘The Enclave’ (2012) by Richard Mosse. Courtesy of Deutsche Bank Collection. © Richard Mosse, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York, photo Argenis Apolinario.

While Deutsche Bank’s enormous collection spans many decades and various movements of contemporary art, it does have a few points of focus – one being that the vast majority are works on paper. In this respect, Hütte and his team bucked the trend. “The bank decided to focus on an area in contemporary art that’s not so often covered by museums or private collectors,” Hütte says. “We wanted to build a collection that had a smaller focus placed on it. We now have one of the most important collections of post-1945 works made on paper in the world, even when compared with museums of the same era. This has allowed us to function as a kind of archive for artists and museums.”

Read more: Artist Peter Schuyff on the spirituality of painting nothing

Preparatory drawings for larger projects, including studies for public projects by Christo and mural-sized paintings by James Rosenquist, constitute this informal archive. Hütte says he is fascinated by the way these works illuminate the artists’ creative processes. The insights they provide are worth pursuing. “If you are not an expert in art, you can see these works and understand more about how an artist is developing his or her ideas. You see the moment of invention and of introducing something new. This is very much linked to business, and the ways we come up with new ideas.”

“We are always looking to discover new artists,” says Hütte, adding that this “doesn’t mean that the artist has to be young; it could be that an artist is older but hasn’t found the success that we feel he or she should have.” Supporting emerging artists is also a financially advantageous approach; the company does not have to lavish the same kind of sums on their artworks that collectors often pay for well-established artists. Hütte says that the bank, which has high-profile art hanging in offices all over the world, relies on the experience of their own team of curators and – in some cases – regional art experts to look out for creative talent. Additionally, the bank employs staff to oversee the collection, arrange exhibitions, facilitate loans and more.

Photograph of women

Four Little Girls (blue and white) (2018) by Hank Willis Thomas. © Hank Willis Thomas, courtesy of the artist and Jack Shainman Gallery, New York

While the biggest concentrations of works from the collection hang in the private offices of Frankfurt, London and New York, the bank opened its new museum-quality exhibition space and cultural programme, Berlin’s Palais Populaire, to the public in 2018. However, you may not have to travel to Berlin to explore the art from the company’s private collection. “We loan artworks to museums on a regular basis – normally every week,” explains Hütte. “We feel we have to support the museums and the artists, so there’s no ulterior reason. We give works for temporary exhibitions as well as for more or less permanent loans; for example, we recently loaned 600 works to the Städel Museum in Frankfurt.”

The Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year

One of Deutsche Bank’s initiatives to support young artists is their ongoing Artist of the Year programme. Previous winners include Wangechi Mutu in 2010, Yto Barrada in 2011 and Roman Ondak in 2012. All have since gone on to have exceptional careers. “It’s not simply a prize of a sum of money; it’s really to support the artist so they can reach a new level,” explains Hütte. The artist is selected with the recommendation of the Deutsche Bank Global Art Advisory Council, whose council members have included the curators Udo Kittelmann, Victoria Noorthoorn, Hou Hanru and the late Okwui Enwezor. The winning artist is given a solo exhibition – the 2018 winner, Lebanese artist Caline Aoun, held her show at the Palais Populaire – with a published catalogue of their work. “Most often, it’s the first large catalogue for this artist, and it’s normally their first museum exhibition. We also buy works from the artist for our collection,” says Hütte.

Discover the collection: art.db.com

This article will also be published in the Summer 2020 Issue, out later this month.

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Installation view of exhibition
Installation view of exhibition

Installation view of Betye Saar: Call and Response, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art © Betye Saar, photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA

Following a major exhibition at MoMA at the end of last year, Betye Saar’s latest solo show Call and Response at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art is the first ever to focus on the artist’s sketchbooks. Spanning the entire length of the artist’s career, the show examines the relationship betwecen her sketches and finished works by showing 18 sculptures and collages alongside annotated drawings.

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Artist sketchbook with pen drawing and notes

Sketchbook (1998) by Betye Saar. Collection of Betye Saar, courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, © Betye Saar, photo © Museum Associates/ LACMA

Ironing board installation artwork

I’ll Bend But I Will Not Break (1998) by Betye Saar. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Gift of Lynda and Stewart Resnick through the 2018 Collectors Committee, © Betye Saar

Saar’s practice is primarily one of assemblage in which she builds sculptures from household objects to examine issues of race, gender, and spirituality.  I’ll Bend But I Will Not Break (1998), for example, is created from a vintage ironing board that the artist found in a flea market. In the finished work, a flatiron is chained to the leg of the ironing board, which has two images printed onto its surface: one is a 18th century British diagram of the packed hold of a slave ship in the Middle Passage between Africa and the Caribbean, and the other is a photograph of a black woman bent over her ironing.

Behind this assemblage, hangs a crisp white sheet clipped to a clothesline as if straight off the ironing board; in barely visible thread, the sheet bears an embroidered monogram: KKK. Viewed alongside the sketchbooks and accompanying annotations, this complex artwork is metaphorically disassembled, allowing the viewer to both recognise and appreciate the unification of the parts.

Dress hanging from the ceiling installation

A Loss of Innocence (1998) courtesy of the artist and Roberts Projects, Los Angeles, © Betye Saar, Photo courtesy Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Scottsdale, AZ, by Tim Lanterman

Whilst the exhibition is on a smaller scale than some of the artist’s recent museum shows (the work fills only one room), Call and Response offers a rare insight into Saar’s creative process.

‘Betye Saar: Call and Response’ runs 5 April 2020 until at LACMA’s Resnick Pavilion. For more information visit: lacma.org/art/exhibition/betye-saar-call-and-response

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Abstract painting with geometric patterns
Abstract painting with pink and black

Punta Norte (2008), Ruben Alterio

Argentinian artist Ruben Alterio is known for his large-scale abstract paintings, created in his Parisian studio, two floors up from the one once inhabited by Pierre-Auguste Renoir. We speak to the artist ahead of his upcoming exhibition at the Argentine Ambassador’s Residence in London
Artist portrait

Artist Ruben Alterio

1. Do you need a particular atmosphere or environment in which to create?

Yes, I do. To work properly, I need to be in my studio in Paris. I have been working there for decades now and have created, over these years, an atmosphere that allows my mind to fully focused, a set up that inspires me a lot.

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2. What inspires you to start a new painting?

My working space is filled with objects, sculptures, photographs, paintings, images that I have created or gathered. I get my inspiration from these shapes and colours that surround me. I must have created that environment with that intention I guess…I collect these images and artefacts because they bear some formal and historical aspects that I can use in my paintings.

Artist studio filled with artefacts and paintings

Alterio’s studio is located in the same building that Renoir once worked from

3. Can you tell us about the concept for your upcoming exhibition?

It is the gallery, the space in itself that gave me the idea for the exhibition. I wanted to create a crowd of paintings, a group of 21 paintings to be precise. This is to be seen as an installation, a stage occupied by 21 painted-beings welcoming the viewer into their personal journey.

Read more: Why responsible travel means authenticity

4. As well as painting, you’ve worked on set and costume design, and collaborated with major fashion brands. How does your creative process change when you’re making commercial work?

I’ve had the chance to collaborate with amazing, creative people all along my career. It has always been a pleasure to share and work with such people that trust you and your vision. My creative process doesn’t change that much, it’s mainly a matter of adaptation. Whether it’s in my personal work or in collaboration, the goal is always to create a window for me, and I hope the viewers, [through which] to escape.

 

Abstract artwork

Flores (2016), Ruben Alterio

5. How often do you throw away works?

I throw sometimes, yes, but I usually prefer to consider these works as part of a work in progress, which, as a matter of fact they are. I keep them because it’s always interesting to let time do its magic and look at them [again] after a while. Time can bring many surprising elements to my work.

6. Which artists from the past or present do you admire the most?

Velázquez, Piero Della Francesca, Picasso and Francis Bacon.

Ruben Alterio’s exhibition at the Argentine Ambassador’s Residence runs from 4-8 November 2019, 49 Belgrave Square, SW1X 8QZ. Entrance by appointment only. rubenalterio.com

Ruben Alterio is represented in the UK by Laurence Bet-Mansour of Art in Style. For all enquiries, please contact: [email protected]

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Vibrant abstract painting
Vibrant abstract painting

Red Extremis (2019), Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Last week saw the opening of Franco-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s latest solo exhibition Extremis at the Setareh Gallery in Düsseldorf

A glamorous collection of international guests filled Setareh Gallery in Düsseldorf for the opening party of Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s latest exhibition, which included an exclusive candlelit dinner amidst the paintings. Amongst those admiring the bold new artworks were model Jodie Kidd, singer Pixie Lott with her fiancé Oliver Cheshire and actress Millie Brady.

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Dinner party in an art gallery

Dinner guests at art gallery

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar with model Jodie Kidd (right) and Amber Le Bon (left)

The exhibition’s title Extremis comes from the latin phrase in extremis, meaning in ‘an extremely difficult situation’ or ‘at the moment of death’, an apt name for this collection of paintings that delve into a turbulent period in the artist’s life in post-revolution Iran.

Artist standing amongst work in art gallery

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar standing amidst his artworks

Guests admiring artworks in gallery opening

Guests admiring the paintings in detail

Read more: How Hong Kong’s M+ museum will transform Asia’s art scene

As with all of his works, the paintings were created through the artist’s signature method which involves scrapping away the upper layers of paint away to leave the under layers exposed. Each work takes several months or even years to complete as the artist progresses from bright and vivid colours to darker tones creating a unique sense of multi-dimensionality and movement.

Private view at an art gallery

Vivid blue abstract painting

Sky is the Limit (2019), Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Vivid abstract pink painting

Passage of Life (2019), Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

‘Extremis’ runs until 23 November 2019 at Setareh Gallery, Düsseldorf. For more information visit: setareh-gallery.com

 

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colourful mist lit suspended in the air
colourful mist lit suspended in the air

Beauty, Olafur Eliasson (1993)

Standing in front of Olafur Eliasson’s Beauty, a shimmering mist suspended by light, is both a grounding and unsettling experience. While the serenity of a rainbow is amplified when viewed in focus, the presentation of this phenomena in isolation provokes an eerie sense of time frozen. Similarly, Moss Wall, the 20m wide mass of breathing Scandinavian reindeer moss, offers a magnified impression of its intricate and abundant surface. However, its preservation around wire mesh in the white cube space of a gallery is a sombering reminder of the fragility of the natural world. This exploration of time, atmosphere and nature is at the core of Eliasson’s work, along with an unwavering determination to protect the planet. He returns to the Tate Modern with his retrospective In Real Life following Ice Watch at the end of last year, which saw 24 blocks of Greenland ice melting in the London winter sun.

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Figure emerging from yellow mist

Din blinde passager, Olafur Eliasson (2010). Photo by Anders Sune Berg

However, climate change, as the show demonstrates, isn’t Eliasson‘s sole preoccupation. The Danish-Icelandic artist is also fascinated by manipulating perspective. One whole room is dedicated to his kaleidoscopes, whilst In your uncertain shadow uses colourful beams of light to multiply the viewer’s silhouette in a huge projection against the gallery wall.

Fountain of water in the dark with two people watching

Big Bang Fountain, Olafur Eliasson

In perhaps his most powerful piece, Din blinde passager visitors enter a 39 metre passageway filled with dense, luminescent fog. With an inability to navigate visually, you become intensely aware of the other senses: the damp air on your skin, the sweet taste of vaporised food colouring and the sound of disembodied voices. You emerge exhilarated by the shared sensory experience and with a renewed focus on your body. It is in moments like these that Eliasson’s work is at its most powerful and transformative.

James Houston

Olafur Eliasson: In Real Life runs until 5 January 2020 at Tate Modern, London. To book tickets visit: tate.org.uk

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installation view of a contemporary art exhibition
installation view of a contemporary art exhibition

Installation view of the ‘What’s Up’ exhibition curated by Lawrence Van Hagen in Hong Kong

Lawrence Van Hagen set out to start a travel tech company, and somewhere along the way, ended up curating a successful series of art exhibitions dedicated to supporting emerging artists. Now, Van Hagen runs LVH art, a business dedicated to helping clients navigate the international art market. Here, we speak to the entrepreneur about his unexpected career path, his favourite places to see art and how to start building a collection.

Man standing in a suit amidst contemporary art works

Lawrence Van Hagen

1. Can you tell us more about the What’s Up exhibitions and how you found yourself in the role of curator?

I started a travel start-up and in order to raise funds for it I decided to curate an art show. I wanted to curate a show since my family is in the arts. My mother has her own art foundation, collects, curates exhibitions and writes books on art. We decided to curate a show called What’s Up based on what’s up today in the art world with a focus on artists to look out for, whether they are young or established. We had the first show in Soho, New York with two spaces, 50 artists and 100 artworks. The next show turned out to be even more successful than the first.

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We have now had shows in New York, London, Hong Kong and Seoul. I work closely with my mother. It’s more my project, but my mother gives me a huge amount of advice and help. It is nice to be able to bounce ideas off one another. The good thing about working with family is trust, you know for sure with family. My mother has kind of been my mentor and taught me what I know today since I didn’t go to art school. However, since I was a kid I was immersed in the arts and always lived with art which led me to start started collecting at a young age.

2. Do you see yourself as a mediator between established and new artists?

A big thing I do with the shows is I tend to bring emerging artists or mid-career contemporary artists together with very well known names. I blend them and create a dialogue between both. I find similarities in inspiration, historical aspects, colours or medium between the established and emerging artists. I do the shows this way since I think that it is interesting and I believe that in order to attract people to a show with emerging artists, you need work by household names as well. Also, when you have younger artists at a show, it keeps the older generation more current. This way of curating shows has enabled me to have a client base from 20 to 80 years old. The older collectors have the most amazing collection of well known artists but now consider acquiring work by a young artist from the shows. I have noticed that the public enjoys shows set up this way.

3. Do you buy art for its beauty or as an investment?

My taste is very classic, I tend to focus on art that is more beautiful than conceptual. However, one thing I tell everyone including myself is to focus on buying what one likes. Whether it is beautiful work or not, it is important to know that you love the work. Second, it’s important to consider investment. For me, it’s a factor of the acquisition in my collection. If it is a very young artist, I tend to not look at it. However if I spend a certain amount of money, it has to have an investment purpose. I will not just spend a big amount of money on something I like, it has to also be of value and something I believe in. One thing to know about the shows I do is that many of the artists we showcase are artists that my mother and I collect. I love to promote the artists from my shows. Lastly, it is more important for people to find what they like, than to have an advisor tell them if what they like will be a good investment.

Abstract artworks on display in an exhibition

Artworks featured in one of the ‘What’s Up’ by artists Franz West, Stefan Bruggemann and Lucio Fontana

4. Which artists’ work do you have at home?

I have a selection of young and old artists. I have beautiful work by Georg Baselitz, who is a well known German painter and sculptor. I have two works by a young artist Donna Huanca, who is based in Berlin. She is an incredible artist, who just did a show at the Belvedere Museum in Vienna. In my entrance, I have a work from the 90s by the American artist Robert Rauschenberg. I have work by Sean Scully, Stefan Bruggemann, Stanley Whitney and George Smith. In the bedroom, I have a beautiful 60s Kenneth Noland. There’s a lot more too.

In my house, I mainly have contemporary work, but with simple classic older artists. Most of the younger artists are a part of my collection and the other work is from my mother. I tend to borrow as well. I always move the artwork around in my flat to create a different aesthetic. I am lucky because the ceilings in my apartment are very high which is rare in London, so I can hang up 3 metre work. It is important for me to keep a lot of art in my house since it is my passion and profession, and I also throw dinner parties where friends come over and they can see what I do. A few pieces of art makes a big difference to a home.

5. Best place to see art in London?

It depends what type of art you are looking for. In terms of galleries, if you want to see more established artists or big shows, all the major galleries from David Zwirner and Gagosian Gallery in New York to Simon Lee in London are great. In London, if you want younger artists, it is good to go to the east end or south of London where you have Carlos Ishikawa and Emalin gallery. When it comes to museums, my favourites are Tate Modern and Whitechapel Gallery for contemporary art. Tate Britain and Royal Academy are also great. Auction houses always have incredible work. If you are not looking for a curated show and you just want to see beautiful paintings, I would recommend the private view before sale at Christie’s, Sotheby’s and Phillips. The auction houses have anything from contemporary to established and renaissance pieces. Lastly, to be honest the number one place to see art in London is in people’s homes. Often artists have incredible work in their homes since they trade with people they know.

6. As travel was your first business venture, what’s your next destination?

My next big trip is to Indonesia. I want to visit the Raja Ampat Islands on New Guinea. I also want to see the Komodo Islands with the Komodo dragon when I am there as it is close by. I travel every week as it is part of my work and I love it. I get to see many beautiful places on work trips, however it is still work for me. Therefore, my personal travels are very meaningful and I like to travel quite far to experience something different. My last big trip was to the North Pole. I like to do adventure trips. I am not a very resort-y person, but I always make sure the adventures are mixed with comfort. If anyone needs a travel guide, I am the guy to ask!

Follow Lawrence Van Hagen on Instagram: @lawrencevh

Interview by Andrea Stenslie

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Woman walks in front of an artwork fanning herself
Woman walks in front of an artwork fanning herself

Artist Amani Althuwaini pictured with her work Present Tense. Image by James Houston

The Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre brings Kuwaiti contemporary art to Venice with a mixed-media group exhibition by young emerging artists

The Sheikh Abdullah Al Salem Cultural Centre, otherwise known as the ASCC, is a colossal museum complex housing six separate institutions: a Natural History Museum, Science Museum, Museum of Islamic History, Space Museum, Fine Arts Centre and theatre. It’s the largest of its kind in Kuwait with the aim of promoting cross-cultural learning and awareness. With that in mind, the centre’s most recent initiative invites emerging Kuwaiti artists to apply for a residency, in which they are given space to work, and opportunities to exhibit overseas.

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This summer marks the first edition of the programme, which launched earlier this month with the opening of a group shown entitled ‘In my dream I was in Kuwait’ at the Scuola dell’Arte dei Tiraoro e Battioro . The building itself is a relic of Venice’s rich artistic history; it was once the home of the guild of artists and makers of gold thread and gold leaf. Now the building, offers a grand space for events and exhibitions in one of the world’s most picturesque settings. From the gallery’s top windows, you can watch the boats floating along the Grand Canal and almost imagine that you’ve slipped back in time. As such, the current exhibition of contemporary Kuwaiti art makes for an interesting contrast, uniting not only two distinct cultures, but also eras.

The show is split into two halves with the work of three artists (Amani Althuwaini, Mahmoud Shaker, and Zahra Marwan) currently on display until August when the next three artists will take over.

Small paintings hanging on a dark blue wall

A selection of artworks by Zahra Marwan. Image by James Houston

Marwan’s small-scale watercolour illustrations, which occupy the first floor gallery space, ahave a picture-book quality both with regards to the light-hearted brushstrokes and their narrative descriptors. The description of After the Fish Market reads: ‘I was able to choose my own fish at the market, and I thought it would come to life at home.’ Yet, many of these miniature works are also imbued with an air of melancholia and longing, depicting characters lost in nostalgia and half sleep states.

close up image of artwork with scripture and red painted faces

Detail of We See Everything by Mahmoud Shaker. Image by James Houston

Shaker’s works in the upper gallery space also contain an element of storytelling, combining photography and painting with handwritten lines from his own poetry in Arabic. Whilst we might not be able to understand the verse, the lettering gives the work the appearance of another era, and thus creates an intriguing tension between tradition and contemporary subject matter.

Read more: What to see at this year’s Masterpiece London

Althuwaini’s work, however, is the most striking both in composition and themes. Present Tense depicts an oversized chest of drawers, which references the Kuwaiti dowry tradition and its contemporary manifestations. The flatness of the piece presents a critique on the modern prioritisation of quantity rather than quality.

Gold embroidered words floating on a veil against a white wall

Detail of installation artwork He is not your choice by Amani Althuwaini. Image by James Houston

Another of Althuwaini’s installations, entitled He is not your choice, hangs suspended from the ceiling in one corner of the upper gallery. This is a wedding veil embroidered with the story of the artist’s friend who accepted an arranged marriage because of the groom’s perceived eligibility. The veil itself is translucent, whilst the gold lettering appears bold, defiant and doubly inscribed by the sunlight as it casts shadows of the words against the walls.

A woman using an old fashion weaving machine

A weaver at work inside the Tessitura Bevilacqua workshop, Venice. Image by James Houston

Whilst these works offer audiences insights into Middle Eastern artistic practises and cultures, the artists themselves are invited to explore traditional Venetian craft through workshops with weavers Tessitura Bevilacqua and glass maker Leonardo Cimolin amongst others. The central idea being that the Kuwaiti artists will find inspiration for their contemporary practise in ancient methods, and so continue the cross-cultural dialogue.

‘In my dream I was in Kuwait’ runs until 28 November 2019 at Scuola dell’Arte dei Tiraoro e Battioro, Venice. For more information visit: ascckw.com

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Installation view of a contemporary art exhibition with round canvases
Installation view of a contemporary art exhibition

Installation view of ‘Echoes of Light’ by Andy Moses at JD Malat Gallery, Mayfair, London

Last week, Mayfair’s JD Malat Gallery celebrated its one-year anniversary with a summer party and private view of a psychedelic solo exhibition by Andy Moses

Art dealer Jean-David Malat‘s eponymous gallery has had a busy first year with back-to-back exhibitions and an ever-growing list of artists, of which Andy Moses is the newest addition. Last week, saw the official opening of the Los Angeles-based artist’s first ever solo show in London entitled ‘Echoes Of Light’ as well as the celebrations of the gallery’s first birthday.

Two men in suits stand in front of psychedelic painting

Jean-David Malat and Andy Moses pictured in front of the artist’s work

Guests raised a glass against the backdrop of Moses’ signature psychedelic, swirling colourscapes, which are evocative of other worlds, distant dimensions. Each work explodes with movement, seemingly rippling before your eyes, and often denying a stable sense of perspective.

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Meanwhile, the gallery’s downstairs space displays works by the likes of Henrik Uldalen, Zümrütoğlu and Chinese artist Li Tianbing all of whom apply paint to canvas with refreshing originality.

Round canvas psychedelic artwork

‘Geodesy 1212’ (2019), Andy Moses

‘Echos of Light’ runs until 20 July 2019. For more information on the gallery’s upcoming exhibitions visit: jdmalat.com

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Ceramic sculpture in a museum
ceramic sculpture in a museum

‘that pause of space’ (2019), Edmund de Waal, on view in the North Hall, © Edmund de Waal. Courtesy the artist and The Frick Collection; photo: Christopher Burke

Edmund de Waal is known as a contemporary ceramist, who pushes the preconceived ideas of his discipline, by questioning an object’s narrative, their place in collections and how they are displayed. His installations are interventions, which resonate with their historic locations, creating an intriguing dialogue between art and space. By contrasting old masters and his new forms, de Waal offers a comment on time, memory and the journey of objects, reminding the viewer that context is integral to the meaning of art.

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Ceramic sculpture in a museum

‘that pause of space’ (2019), Edmund de Waal, on view in the North Hall, © Edmund de Waal. Courtesy the artist and The Frick Collection; photo: Christopher Burke

In de Waal’s first solo US exhibition Elective Affinities at the Frick Collection in New York, his ceramic sculptures have been placed amongst the museum’s permanent collection; rooms which comprise of Henry Clay Frick’s Old Master paintings and objets d’art, including works by Rembrandt, Vermeer, Velásquez and Goya. de Waal’s artwork ‘that pause of space’, is situated between Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres’s ‘Comtesse d’Haussonville’ (1845) and an eighteenth-century French side table of blue marble and gilt-bronze, commissioned by the Duchess of Mazarin.

Read more: Life on the thrillionaire trail by Geoffrey Kent

that pause of space is a gold-framed, floating vitrine containing both glazed and unglazed porcelain beakers. de Waal’s framing and fragments of gilt porcelain on the beakers ties the work to the surroundings through a common materiality. There is a unification of the works in terms of formal qualities, but equally as a collection as the works are all displayed within a gilt-frame. However, the contemporary aesthetic and context of de Waal’s pieces allows us to also view the works as distinct objects, each with individual stories. The beakers’ white, minimal and slender forms present their modern creation in comparison to the light and dark of Ingres’s chiaroscuro portrait painting.

ceramic sculpture in a museum

‘on an archaic torso of Apollo’ (2019), Edmund de Waal, on view in the Fragonard Room, © Edmund de Waal. Courtesy the artist and The Frick Collection; photo: Christopher Burke

The exhibition features nine of de Waal’s artworks in total, each provoking a dialogue between modern and old, object and context, as well as offering fresh perspectives on the space itself.

Rosie Ellison-Balaam

‘Elective Affinities’ runs until 17 November 2019 at The Frick Collection, 1 East 70th Street, New York. For more information visit: frick.org

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Portrait of art collector Aeneas Bastian
Polaroid of artist David Hockney taking a photo

David Hockney byAndy Warhol, ca. 1972, Polaroid © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Licensed by DACS, London. Courtesy BASTIAN, London

Established in 1989 by Celine and Heiner Bastian, BASTIAN opened its first gallery in 2007 in Berlin. Now, the gallery has placed itself on the global art map with the grand opening of a new space in Mayfair. LUX speaks to the founders’ son and gallery director Aeneas Bastian about Andy Warhol, the London art market and how collectors are doing things differently
Portrait of art collector Aeneas Bastian

Aeneas Bastian. Courtesy BASTIAN

LUX: Tell us about the London gallery and how it came to be.
Aeneas Bastian: I felt that when coming to London we should be in the middle of the traditional gallery district in Mayfair so we found a space on Davis Street [No. 8], which is fairly close to Phillips auction house and the Gagosian gallery. I remember starting this search for a London exhibition space about two years ago. I looked at quite a number of properties, but I had a very specific idea in mind so it took quite a long time to actually find the right space and this feels perfect now.

I really like Berlin, it’s my home town, I grew up there and I think it’s become a fantastic metropolis, but it is not a major market place. So I think trying to build a bridge between Berlin and London, Germany and the UK could be an ideal combination of two different worlds. And I could not think of any other major city in Europe that has the same the same kind of status or importance as London, especially when you look at the quality of exhibitions, both commercial exhibitions at private galleries and exhibitions in public institutions. Especially in Mayfair you can see that people are trying to achieve something outstanding, they’re committed to excellence. Berlin is different – it is quite experimental – so you see promising young artists working in their studios and creating fantastic work. And it’s probably the same in other fields, in restaurants or fashion. You would find some of the leading individuals in London, and maybe some of the most interesting new talent in Berlin… I think that’s the difference between the two cities.

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LUX: Why did you choose Andy Warhol rather than a German artist for your opening show?
Aeneas Bastian: That’s a good question! I’ve thought about this for quite a long time because obviously we would also like to be a showcase of German art in London, showing well known German artists who may not be as well known in the UK, but also younger emerging artists too.

Warhol, along with [Cy] Twombly and [Joseph] Beuys, has been one of the key artists when we look back at the early years of the gallery’s history. So I thought it would be interesting to bring that back and to take it to London, but I’d like the following exhibitions to be devoted to German art.

LUX: Is it Warhol’s polaroids particularly that you specialise in?
Aeneas Bastian: Yes, it’s the polaroids and we have some of the rarest and most important polaroid portraits, especially of other artists and some writers, actors, musicians and also a few people who came to the Factory when it was not just a studio or a place of production, but also an international meeting place. So, in a way, looking at these polaroid pictures is also a bit like taking a time machine and landing in New York in the late 70s early 80s. Some people are maybe lesser known today and some have become even more iconic, or famous. It’s very interesting looking back at this period now…

The gallery has always had a particular focus on post-war German and post-war American art too, including artists likeJoseph Beuys, Anselm Kiefer, Cy Twombly, Robert Rauschenberg as well as Warhol. They’ve always had a special place in our exhibition programme and have been essential for the development of the gallery, which was founded thirty years ago by my parents, Céline and Heiner Bastian. They were both curators and they knew Warhol well. There was no commercial link in any way at the time, but they worked together on exhibitions, projects, books, publications, and brought some of Warhol’s exhibitions to Germany during his lifetime. Today, we would probably define my parents as art advisers, but at the time, I think the term wasn’t really used.

Portrait of artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Andy Warhol

Jean-Michel Basquiat by Andy Warhol 1982, Polacolor ER © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Licensed by DACS, London. Courtesy BASTIAN, London

LUX: The market for post-war art and now, what we call 20th century and modern art — did that rise and then fall again in the 90s?
Aeneas Bastian: Yes, looking back at those changes, of course we’ve seen remarkable increases in values, but also several moments of crisis. When I speak with my parents about those times they always tell me that the art world was so much smaller, it was essentially a few European countries including France, Germany, Switzerland, Italy, and the UK, and then there was America, but except for maybe a small group of Japanese collectors there was no Asian market, and no one would ever go to Australia or India or Africa, or the Middle East. There was no global market.

LUX: Do you think there’s been a renewal of interest in late 20th century art recently, or has the interest always been there?
Aeneas Bastian: I think it’s always been there, at least in London. Berlin has had this sort of edgy, young contemporary art focus that sometimes modern art, twentieth century art seems to be missing because it’s always about the present. But I think London has always had this particular strength of offering such a wide range to art collectors from Old Masters to the present day. There is no other place in the world that could offer that kind of quality, especially when collectors are a bit more eclectic and interested in different periods and different forms of culture.

LUX: Are the big twentieth century artists, the ones who are no longer with us – such as Pollock or Warhol or Lichtenstein and so on –  mostly collected by people of that era or by younger generations too?
Aeneas Bastian: I think it’s both. It’s two worlds coming together. Elderly collectors who have had the privilege of maybe knowing the artist, and young collectors who have obviously not met the artist, but who are now becoming familiar with the work and studying, going to see survey exhibitions and reading catalogues raisonné and books written by experts, immersing themselves in the world and work of the artist.

Read more: A taste of Hong Kong’s future

LUX: In terms of collectors and the people buying art: how are they choosing? How do they come to their conclusions and how are they guided?
Aeneas Bastian: It used to be a very personal thing. You would meet a professional or an adviser or an art dealer and have a face to face conversation, and while this still happens today, now it’s also about digital communications. People are increasingly using these new ways of communicating, they are more open to just having a look at websites, they even use social media, like Instagram.

I don’t think people would necessarily say that an expert opinion is something that counts more than anything else, and I think that used to be the case. You used to say that there’s a particular scholar or an expert who would really be the person with an expert opinion and the ability to judge a work and the purchase or inclusion of that work in an exhibition would very much depend on that person. I think that’s not necessarily the case any more.

LUX: Is that a good thing?
Aeneas Bastian: I think it’s just the way that the world has changed. It has become more open in many ways, and I do think, in the end, that this is a good development. We are not limiting ourselves any longer to an art world centred in Europe and the United States, seeing men rather than women as experts, or looking at European artists all the time and forgetting about artists from other places in the world.

Exterior of Bastian art gallery in Mayfair, London

BASTIAN Gallery, 8 Davis Street, Mayfair, London. Photo by Luke Walker

Portrait of Paloma Picasso by artist Andy Warhol

Paloma Picasso by Andy Warhol ca. 1983 © 2018 The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. Licensed by DACS, London. Courtesy BASTIAN, London

LUX: How important is it for artists, whether alive or dead, to be shown and supported by public galleries as well as commercial?
Aeneas Bastian: I am deeply convinced that it can have a tremendous impact, of course we are art dealers too, but we really understand understand the significance of public and non-commercial exhibitions. I think a talented artist only shown by commercial galleries may be one day more or less forgotten if there’s no public recognition. If the works are not part of museum collections, then the artist may disappear.

LUX: Finally, can you reveal anything about the other exhibitions you’ve got planned for London?
Aeneas Bastian: I’m certain we will have an exhibition of Emil Nolde, one of the German expressionists and a prominent German artists of the generation of Kirchner and Beckmann who is regarded as one of the most influential 20th century artists in Germany. He’s not unknown in the UK, but I think his work really deserves to be seen.

BASTIAN Gallery’s inaugural London exhibition ‘Andy Warhol: Polaroid Pictures’ runs until 13 April 2019. For more information visit: bastian-gallery.com

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Swiss sculptor Giacometti's famous collective of female sculptures entitled Women of Venice
Swiss sculptor Giacometti's famous collective of female sculptures entitled Women of Venice

“Women of Venice (Femmes de Venise)”, 1956. Alberto Giacometti. Fondation Giacometti, Paris © Succession Alberto Giacometti, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018

Black and white portrait of Alberto Giacometti in his studio surrounded by sculptures

Alberto Giacometti, 1951. Photograph by Gordon Parks

Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti is renowned for his figurative sculpture and dedicated exploration of the human condition. His work, in my view, best represents the transformation of early 20th century philosophical thought from Freudian psychoanalysis to De Beauvoir and Sartre’s existentialism.

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The current retrospective at the Guggenheim Bilbao presents the evolution of Giacometti’s remarkable career through five decades, from his early surrealist heads to his rough, slender figures, characterised by their raw, layered process.

The Nose sculpture by artist Alberto Giacometti

“The Nose (Le Nez)”, 1947. Alberto Giacometti. Fondation Giacometti, Paris © Succession Alberto Giacometti, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018

One of the most fascinating aspects of the exhibition is the artist’s seemingly contrasting representation of gender. In Three men walking, for example, the figures are caught in movement or more specifically, stride, and whilst they are sculpted as a collective, the viewer is keenly aware of their individuality as they move in separate directions. By contrast, we might consider the stillness of the figures in Women of Venice or Four woman and a base; here Giacometti presents us with collectives which are stagnant to the point of seeming distant and un-relatable. There is a sense of fear and intimidation in these latter sculptures, but also of an obsession — an obsessive need to understand.

James Houston

“Alberto Giacometti – A Retrospective” runs until 24 February 2019 at the Guggenheim, Bilbao. For more information visit: guggenheim-bilbao.eus

walking man sculpture by swiss artist Alberto Giacometti

“Walking Man I (Homme qui marche I)”, 1960. Alberto Giacometti. Fondation Giacometti, Paris © Succession Alberto Giacometti, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018

a biro sketch by renowned swiss artist Alberto Giacometti

“Men’s Heads (Têtes d’hommes)” ca. 1959 Fondation Giacometti, Paris © Succession Alberto Giacometti, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018 Alberto Giacometti

 

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gallery view of art exhibition with hanging punch bag and colourful paintings on the walls
gallery view of art exhibition with hanging punch bag and colourful paintings on the walls

Installation view of 21st Century Women curated by Fru Tholstrup and Jane Neal at Unit London, Mayfair

Marking the centenary since some women won the right to vote in Britain, London’s newest Mayfair gallery Unit celebrates the work of female artists with a major group exhibition

21st Century Women at Unit’s new space on Hanover Square opened in the wake of new research from the Freelands Foundation which showed that although 66% of postgraduate arts students in 2017 were female, just under a third of artists represented by London’s major galleries were women.

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“Though significantly more women than men enter art school in Britain, only a fraction of these women continue to actively practice as artists beyond the age of 30,” commented the exhibition’s co-curator Jane Neal. “Nonetheless, a growing number of this minority of female artists are responsible for breaking new ground and contributing to the pioneering movements of today. It is high time that women artists attained greater visibility in the art world – and there is no excuse for discrepancy in price points between men and women in the primary or in the secondary markets.”

Abstract painting by British artist Maggi Hambling

Maggi Hambling, Edge I, oil on canvas, 2014

We speak to two of the artists taking part in the exhibition; painter Anna Freeman Bentley, and sculptor and painter Maggi Hambling whose work was recently selected by Tracey Emin to feature in a exhibition by female artists from Deutsche Bank’s collection at Frieze London and Frieze Masters

Read more: 5 exhibitions to see in London this month + 1 to miss

Abstract oil painting of Donald Trump, ridiculing the US president

Maggi Hambling, Trump, oil on canvas, 2018

Maggi Hambling

1. Do you feel that your work is interpreted in a particular way because you’re a female artist?
Certainly not!

2. Tell us about how the Trump oil on canvas piece came about?
I scraped all the oil paint off my palate, onto the canvas… this revolting coalescence embodies everything I feel about Trump.

Vivid painting of a red room by Anna Freeman Bentley

Anna Freeman Bentley, Gathering II, oil on canvas, 2018

Anna Freeman Bentley

1. You’re a relatively recent masters graduate of art school, why do you think so many women train but less than a third of artists represented by major galleries in London are female?

I could answer this question with examples from my experience and my own reflections, but they can’t necessarily be applied more generally. In some ways I don’t know. I wish that the galleries just represented the best art that is being made today, and if that were the case then the gender split would be about 50/50. But in all honesty, I think we all know that the structure, like most other things, is built in favour of men.  There’s no one person or one thing responsible for it, it’s just the way it has been for centuries. But I do think that change is happening, it just takes a long time.

Read more: Whitechapel Gallery’s Iwona Blazwick on the power of education

2. Do you feel obliged to create art that promotes female empowerment?

No. I don’t think men feel obliged to promote a male agenda much when making their work. For me, to feel empowered as a women artist is not to push a female agenda but to just make my work with confidence and ambition.

Painting of a foyer room by British artist Anna Freeman Bentley

Anna Freeman Bentley, Foyer, oil on panel, 2017

3. Your work explores the design, function and use of architecture and how this changes through time and the resulting state of mind that places engender. In light of the gender imbalance in architecture and construction, does your work explore inequality?

The primary interest of my practice is exploring psychologies of space and a sense of emotive potential evoked by certain interior settings. Therefore, for me, my work isn’t about gender and inequality. Having said that, I recognise that some of my subject matter touches on gender issues. But I don’t see my work as being politicised in that way. Ideas of tension can be read into the work but these are not limited only to inequality about gender, there is tension in economic inequality, historical and current use, as well as other dichotomies relating to the objects that fill the space.

’21st Century Women’ curated by Fru Tholstrup and Jane Neal runs until 31st October 2018 at Unit London, Hanover Square, London. For more information visit: theunitldn.com

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Neon pink lights spelling Another World in Italics
Neon pink lights spelling Another World in Italics

‘Another World’, Tracey Emin

Artist Tracey Emin and Deutsche Bank are marking 100 years of women’s suffrage with a show of work by female artists from the bank’s collection at Frieze London and Frieze Masters, as well as a secret postcard sale for women’s charities. Anny Shaw reports from the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounges
Portrait of artist Tracey Emin wearing a black blazer and top

Tracey Emin. Image by Richard Young

To mark this year’s centenary of voting rights for women in the UK and Germany (and the fact there are still places in the world where women can’t or find it difficult to vote), the British artist Tracey Emin and her studio have curated an exhibition of around 60 works by female artists drawn from the Deutsche Bank Collection. Over the course of 35 years, the firm has accrued one of the world’s largest collections of works on paper.

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Entitled ‘Another World’, the exhibition spans both Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounges in Frieze Masters and Frieze London, featuring 34 artists working from the late 19th century to the present day. Emin’s selection includes titans such as Käthe Kollwitz (1867–1945), whose depictions of women and the working class countered the dominant male rhetoric of the time, and Louise Bourgeois (1911–2010), whom Emin admired greatly and collaborated with shortly before the French-born American artist died.

Painting of red hands reaching with the words ‘10am is when you come to me’ by Louise Bourgeois

‘10am is when you come to me’ (2006) by Louise Bourgeois

 

For the show, Emin has chosen Bourgeois’s 10am is when you come to me (2006), a work with 20 etchings including depictions of the hands of the artist and those of her assistant Jerry Gorovoy, painted with watercolor and gouache in various shades of red and pink. Contemporary artists featured in Emin’s selection include Maggi Hambling (b. 1945), whose 1993 aquatint of a heron “appears somewhat comical”, in Hambling’s words, and Marlene Dumas (b. 1953), whose work entitled Girl from a Dutch Painting (1991) represents a state of mind rather than being a portrait of a particular person.

A Show for Everyone

Although the show is dedicated to women (Emin and her studio reviewed all of the 670 female artists in the collection), Emin says she wants the theme “to relate to everybody”. The title could refer to a liminal or dream-like state, she points out. “Another world can be the twilight time when we are half asleep and half awake. Or literally another world, another universe, the animal kingdom, or for me personally, another world represents the afterlife,” Emin says. The artist has created a new neon work, Another World, especially for the show.

“We always look to provide a stimulating and relaxing environment for our guests in our VIP lounges, whether they want to take in our exclusive exhibitions or simply take a break during their visit,” says Nicola West, Global Head of Events, Partnerships & Sponsorships at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management. “This year, Tracey and her team have created something truly spectacular.”

Charcoal drawing of a woman seated on a bench by Käthe Kollwitz

Käthe Kollwitz’s charcoal drawing ‘Frau, auf einer Bank sitzend’ (Woman, sitting on a bench) (1905)

A quarter of the 2,694 artists in the Deutsche Bank Collection are women – higher than the 4% at the National Gallery of Scotland and 20% at the Whitworth in Manchester, though less than the 35% at Tate Modern. However, Mary Findlay, International Curator in the Bank’s Art, Culture & Sports division, acknowledges there is still work to be done. “We are always looking to buy more works by women,” she says. “Diversity and promoting women is something that Deutsche Bank is vocal about. This exhibition is a good way to continue that conversation.”

With the advent of the #MeToo movement and the centenary of women’s suffrage, the art world certainly appears to be changing. So what advice would Emin give to young female artists trying to forge a career today? “Use really good contraceptives,” she quips. “Don’t sleep with gallerists or anybody who could enhance your career. Try to be logical in all your arguments and if that doesn’t work scream the house down. Work every hour God sends.” But most important of all? “Do not compare yourself to anybody.”

‘Another World’ Postcard Project and Sale

Inspired by the annual secret postcard sale held by the Royal College of Art (where Emin studied) and by historical suffragette postcards, which were produced by campaigners for women’s rights as well as by those who opposed them, Emin has approached women artists in the Deutsche Bank Collection and asked them to contribute unique postcard works to the charity exhibition and sale. The result is in excess of 800 works. The project is in aid of organizations, yet to be chosen, that support vulnerable women in London and in Margate, where Emin grew up and now has a studio.

The postcards, priced at £200 each, will be sold anonymously, with around three-quarters on view in the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge and a quarter available online. “What’s really interesting about selling works anonymously is that suddenly the name of the artist, and all that entails, isn’t important. You’re using your eye and your intuition to respond to what you see,” says Findlay. “That reflects the ethos of the Deutsche Bank Collection – we’re not about big names. Supporting creativity is at the heart of what we do.”

The long-term aim, Findlay continues, is to “create a legacy, and to do something concrete to actually help women who are the victims of abuse and change things for the future.” She expects the financial benefit of the project to continue into next year and beyond for the selected charities. “We have set up the Tracey Emin and Deutsche Bank Centenary Fund, which, with the large number of unique artworks we have to sell, will become a multi-year legacy,” she says.

Watercolour painting of a girl's face by Marlene Dumas

‘Girl from a Dutch Painting’ (1991) by Marlene Dumas

Maggi Hambling

The Suffolk-born painter and sculptor Maggi Hambling, chosen by the campaigners Mary on the Green to create a public sculpture in London to celebrate the feminist writer and thinker Mary Wollstonecraft, was quick to respond when Emin wrote asking for the women artists represented in the collection to submit postcards for charity. “Almost every day a case of domestic abuse is revealed. It takes a lot of bravery to come forward and talk about it,” she says. “If the sale of these postcards helps those who help the victims of abuse, then it’s a great idea.” Hambling says she opted to paint something “rather jolly”. She adds: “I haven’t tried to paint victims. I hope I have done something quite joyous.”

Hambling has sent in postcards to RCA Secret, the Royal College of Art’s annual fundraising secret postcard exhibition, every year since it began in 1994. She is a keen advocate of raising money for emerging artists who are struggling financially; the scheme has raised £1m so far. The anonymous postcard sale is a format that has gained popularity, particularly among charities, but that doesn’t diminish their power, the artist says. “The more attention that is drawn to the victims of abuse the better, and I hope people will spend lots of money on these [Deutsche Bank] postcards. There will be something for everyone; all artists are different.”

Elizabeth Magill

The Irish painter Elizabeth Magill, who has a conference room named after her at the Deutsche Bank headquarters in London, is no stranger to philanthropy. This year she has produced work for no fewer than four charities, including a project with the Imperial Charity marking the National Health Service’s 70th anniversary.

A decade ago, Deutsche Bank acquired a set of 10 lithographs of landscapes by Magill, which have inspired the artist’s postcards. “I wanted to do something that directly relates to that series of prints,” she says. The artist is represented in ‘Another World’ by the painting Bonn 2 (2003), which she describes as “not a landscape as such, but more like a suggested backdrop to how I feel, think and interpret the world”.

A washed out landscape painting with small black figures of people walking by artist Elizabeth Magill

‘Bonn 2’ (2003) by Elizabeth Magill

For Magill, an exhibition of women artists, coupled with the postcard project, could not be more timely. “Because of the #MeToo movement and the highlighting of the gender pay gap, I think we are entering into another world for women. At least I hope we are entering another world, although it remains to be seen; we thought the same in the 1960s,” she ponders. Despite the hurdles, Magill says she has never been preoccupied with her position as a woman. “I have always been concerned first and foremost with my work. My advice to a young woman today would be: just focus on your work, don’t be dissuaded.”

Emel Geris

“To begin with, I did not realize that the postcards would be shown – and sold – anonymously. I saw them as a natural progression of my paintings and just started working,” says the Berlin-based Turkish artist Emel Geris, before wondering: “I hope they won’t be too easily recognized!”

The only difference between the postcards and Geris’s typical work is the scale. “I adjusted the series I am currently working on to the card format, nothing more,” she says.

Tracey Emin has selected Geris’s painting, Dahinter (behind) (2017) for ‘Another World’. The work is part of a series that “deals with dreams, impermanence, trauma and other similar themes”, Geris says. “I created these pictures spontaneously, one after another, like a diary. I still work with these sorts of themes today, but in a completely different way. To see them after so many years seems like another world.” Geris says the #MeToo debate is part of a long-running narrative that is likely to continue for some time. “As long as this strange world keeps rotating, it will probably always be important,” she says. “We have to keep striving to make things better.”

Rosemarie Trockel display

Twenty-one watercolor sketches by the German artist Rosemarie Trockel, many of which depict heads in various guises, have been selected by Tracey Emin to hang in the wide corridor of the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge that leads to the fair itself.

Most striking among them are a group of drawings that show what appears to be a man’s head, in profile, with a wildly protruding nose, often painted bright red. “Trockel’s ‘Nose’ or ‘Pinocchio’ drawings exist in various versions in both black and white and color, and are mainly from the 1990s,” says Monika Sprüth, the co-founder of the Sprüth Magers gallery, which represents the artist. Trockel has also employed this motif in her sculptures. “They alternate between the figure of Pinocchio, the liar, and a phallic representation,” Sprüth says. “But interestingly the portrait has no clear female or male characteristics. Like many of her works, it deals with gender-specific assignments in a humorous way.”

Watercolour painting of a face with a pinocchio nose

Rosemarie Trockel, ‘Untitled’ (1994)

Other works on display reflect recurring themes in Trockel’s work, such as portraits of monkeys, people sleeping and domestic objects such as vases and pots. Trockel rose to fame by shifting the way traditionally feminine materials were used – and perceived – by the male-dominated art world, shunning painting in favor of drawing and crafts.

“We’re delighted that such outstanding artists are represented in both the exhibition and the sale,” says Nicola West. “The result is an environment that will not only engage our guests but also give them a chance to participate in a memorable event for a very worthy cause.”

About Art, Culture & Sports at Deutsche Bank

Deutsche Bank has been enabling access to contemporary art worldwide for more than 30 years with its substantial collection, in exhibitions and through collaborations around the world. Art works: it inspires people to engage with the present and helps them develop creative ideas for the future. Culture transcends borders. It is always an encounter and an exchange. Sports connect people and motivate them to perform and show fairness.

Find out more at db.com/art-culture-sports

Exhibition of Historical Suffragette Postcards

Suffragette postcard depicting a man and woman fighting in a garden with the woman holding a frying pan as a weapon annotated with an anti-suffrage message

This comic postcard has been annotated with an anti-suffrage message, an example of anti-suffragette ‘hate mail’

A 1907 photograph of “a Lancashire lass in clogs & shawl” being escorted by police from a demonstration outside the House of Commons in Westminster and a cartoon of a stern-looking woman in a meeting hall full of men being asked if she will “go quietly” or be thrown out “by force” are just two examples of some 60 suffragette postcards that will go on show as part of the project.

Deutsche Bank will reproduce postcards from the Museum of London, which holds the world’s largest collection of material related to the militant wing of the suffragette campaign. In 1926, former members of the Women’s Social and Political Union (WSPU) and the Women’s Freedom League (WFL) came together as the Suffragette Fellowship “to perpetuate the memory of the pioneers”. In 1950, they offered their collection of memoirs and archives to the then London Museum.

Historical suffragette photograph in black and white of women's parade holding signs with the suffrage message

Poster parade organized by the Women’s Freedom League to promote the suffrage message

The Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounges will offer a unique opportunity to view postcards promoting both sides of the struggle. Many of the works for the pro-suffrage campaign were produced by two artist groups, Suffrage Atelier and the Artists’ Suffrage League.

“For the suffrage campaigners, it was all about getting the message into the home,” says Beverley Cook, curator of social and working history at the Museum of London. “They wanted to raise the profile of the campaign and present it not just as something concerning politicians, but integrating the fight into every part of life.”

the signage for historical suffragetto board game

Suffragetto, a board game produced by the Women’s Social and Political Union, from the exhibition ‘Sappho to Suffrage: Women who Dared’, at the Bodleian Library, Oxford, 2018

On the other side of the political fence, satirical postcards mocked suffragettes, often depicting them as harridans or as wives and mothers who had abandoned their duties. “They were less formal ‘anti-suffrage’ and more like comic postcards. They were incredibly popular,” Cook says.
With up to seven postal deliveries a day in some parts of Britain, postcards were an effective form of communication. “They were cheap and would often carry very short messages, like ‘See you tomorrow at 2pm’. The telephone was not widely used at the time,” Cook explains. The WSPU and the WFL, which had suffrage shops in nearly every high street, with 19 branches in London alone, were popular outlets.

comical post card of a man fallen over with stars from his head with a satirical suffragette message

Commercially produced postcard satirising the suffragette movement

So just how effective were the postcards? Financially, they “added to the suffragettes’ war chest”, Cook says, noting that the sheer number in the museum’s collection (several hundred) indicates their success. “The fact that they have found their way into museum and gallery collections is proof of their currency.” Not only that, but they have also inspired a new generation of contemporary artists to produce postcards. As Cook points out: “The campaign is still as relevant today; it’s just a different battle. In essence, it’s all about women working together to become a force for change.”

Suffragette exhibitions in 2018

Sappho to Suffrage: Women who Dared
(Bodleian Library, Oxford, until February 2019)

Votes for Women
(Museum of London, until 6 January 2019)

Voice & Vote: Women’s Place in Parliament
(Houses of Parliament, until 6 October 2018)

A Woman’s Place
(Abbey House Museum, Leeds, until 31 December 2018)

Ladies of Quality & Distinction
(The Foundling Museum, London, until 20 January 2019)

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Two colourful sculptures of men standing in a lush green garden
artistically decorated living room with large mural over fire place and two colourful sculptures standing either side

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s sculptures stand alongside Jean Cocteau’s murals in Villa Santo Sospir

Last week saw the private view and opening of French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s latest exhibition. LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai was entranced.

The mesmerising Villa Santo Sospir on Cap Ferrat in the south of France, once home to Jean Cocteau, played host to Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s private view of his Oneness Wholeness with Jean Cocteau exhibition; LUX was privileged to be invited.

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Two colourful sculptures of men standing in a lush green garden

The villa itself is something of an anomaly on Cap Ferrat, perhaps the swankiest real estate spot in Europe. Walk down the steep drive from the little road (just around the corner from the Four Seasons Grand Hotel du Cap Ferrat) and you are transported into the 1950s. No bulletproof glass or architect-designed pavilions here: just a low-rise villa, its gardens festooned with bougainvillea and bamboo, and, inside, walls decorated with intricate murals by Cocteau himself.

Party on the edge of the sea as the sun is setting people gather around colourful sculptures

Those attending included Lily ColeRichard BiedulNathalie EmmanuelKiera Chaplin and Jo Wood.

A line up of guests at art opening along with Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and and Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar

From right to left: Natalie Rushdie, Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Melissa Tarling, Richard Biedul and Nathalie Emmanuel

Kate Slesinger with artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and LUX editor Darius Sanai

Kate Slesinger, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Darius Sanai

Model and TV personality Jo Wood poses with her son at art opening

Tyrone Wood and Jo Wood

Guests were scattered through the cosy living room, onto the terrace, down the stairs on another garden terrace, and on a final, lowest level near the sea, but the stars of the show were Behnam-Bakhtiar’s sculptures (which also adorn one of the special covers of this issue of LUX magazine) and a soundtrack which featured Cocteau himself, present among us.

Artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar in conversation with British actress Nathalie Emmanuel in an artistically decorated living room

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar with Nathalie Emmanuel

A crowd of people and sculptures on the cliff edge as the sun sets over the ocean in the distance

Silhouettes of guests merge with Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s sculptures as the sun sets

As a storm cleared and the sun set over Cap d’Antibes and the Massif de l’Esterel in the distance, the melancholy and joy of Behnam-Bakhtiar’s creations added an extra note to the end of summer in an area that has inspired artists for generations. Who knows, perhaps its the start of a new life for the Cote d’Azur as an artistic hub, generations after the likes of Picasso, Matisse, Van GoghCézanne and Dufy were mesmerised by the light, shapes and people here.

Oneness Wholeness with Jean Cocteau runs until 30 September at Villa Santo Sospir

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Life-size sculptures of male silhouettes with one real man at the back of a line of three

Sculpture of a man in front of colourful mural depicting a mystical figure

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s latest exhibition responds to the work of French polymath Jean Cocteau. Virginia Blackburn travels to the Cote d’Azur to meet the artist and his muse

“The sea,” says the French/Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, gesturing out at an exceptionally beautiful cove on the Cote d’Azur, “is a symbol and a direction of life. It’s where we all came from. As long as you are facing the sea you are on the right track.” And it is not just Behnam-Bakhtiar who is facing the Med: beside him is Jean Cocteau, or at least a representation of Cocteau, leading a line of luminaries from the Villa Santo Sospir in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat to face out at the spectacular view.

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Inside the house, Cocteau is in conversation with Behnam-Bakhtiar, for this exhibition, Oneness Wholeness with Jean Cocteau, has its roots in a video Behnam-Bakhtiar came across that Cocteau made in 1962; the younger artist discovered that his preoccupations and fears about the way the world was going were identical to the older man’s. And so the idea took root.

Man sits on arm chair surrounded by colourfully painted sculptures of male figures

Oneness Wholeness with Jean Cocteau, which runs from 6th to 30th September is comprised of two aspects, visual and aural. The visual element is spread throughout the villa and its grounds: it consists of 32 wooden sculptures in six different sizes, representing both the historical figures who visited the villa when Cocteau and its owner, the socialite Francine Weisweiller, lived there, and what could be termed humanity itself.

Detail image of sculpture of a man in bright painted colours

Each sculpture is double sided, to represent the masculine and feminine aspects of the individual, although it is up to the viewer to decide which is which; the wood is bois marine, or sea wood, the type used to make boats. It was treated three times and then painted in Behnam-Bakhtiar’s signature style, embodying energy, stripe after stripe of differing colours fighting to make their way through to the top. “I didn’t want the sculptures to be super-clean but artisanal,” explains Behnam-Bakhtiar, adding that the work took nearly a year and changed him in the process. “So many great things came out: who are we? What are we doing here? Why these sculptures?” he says.

Read more: Why we love Club Dauphin on Cap Ferrat right now

Inside the villa the recorded conversation between the two artists takes place, in which they discuss their fears about the almost robotic world in which we live, the emphasis on material success despite the very high price it exacts. The setting could not be more appropriate: Cocteau’s extravagant murals cover the walls and the ceiling; outside his mosaics bring the myth of the minotaur to mind. One mosaic is doubleheaded, which is reflected in Behnam-Bakhtiar’s double sided sculptures, that dual identity being a preoccupation with both men.

Image of the sea with sculptures of men dotted in garden on the cliff edge

To walk among the sculptures in their stillness, their complexity, induces a feeling of eternity, of contemplation, of timelessness. Visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to do exactly that, imparting their own life energy to the statuary as they make their way towards the imposing figure of Cocteau, slightly taller than the rest.

Read more: Northacre CEO Niccolò Barattieri di San Pietro on creating dream homes

One figure stands out for a slightly different reason: he is covered in shades of black, although some colour is struggling to get through. “He had it a little rougher than the others,” says Behnam-Bakhtiar. To the viewer he symbolises death, but with hope – the light is trying to break in, even here.

Life-size sculptures of male silhouettes with one real man at the back of a line of three

This is a remarkable exhibition based on a brave and remarkable concept: artists in conversation across decades, sharing the same space. And catch it while you can because the group will be broken up at the end of it, dispersed among museums and collectors, while the villa is closing for a couple of years for major renovations. It is a treat, visually, and balm for the soul.

Oneness Wholeness with Jean Cocteau runs until 30 September at Villa Santo Sospir. Visit Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s website for more information or follow him on Instagram at @sassanbehnambakhtiar

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Munch inspired prints by pop art artist Andy Warhol
Andy Warhol's colourful print interpretation of the iconic painting by Edward Munch, The Scream

Andy Warhol, The Scream (After Munch), 1984 © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts Photo Sparebankstiftelsen DNB

Andy Warhol first became properly interested in Edvard Munch on a visit to Oslo in 1971, where he spent time at the National Gallery and the Munch Museum. He was said to be a great admirer of Munch’s prints, far more so, in fact, than of his paintings. The Norwegian master was not only a prolific printmaker, but also technologically innovative; he enjoyed experimenting with textures and colours, which naturally resonated with Warhol as a leading figure in the Pop Art movement.

Munch inspired prints by pop art artist Andy Warhol

Madonna and Self-Portrait with Skeleton Arm (After Munch), Andy Warhol, 1984. © Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum

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Between 1938 and 1984, Warhol produced a series of 15 prints, known as After Munch,  featuring some of Munch’s most renowned motifs. Like most of Warhol’s best-known works, these prints transform the meaning of the original image to lend a new and intriguing perspective.

Andy Warhol print of Eva Mudocci inspired by painter Edward Munch

Eva Mudocci (After Munch), Andy Warhol, 1984. © Haugar Vestfold Kunstmuseum

Read more: Why The Thief is Oslo’s coolest hotel

The most striking example of this – and the stand out piece on display in the Munch Museum – is Warhol’s interpretation of the The Scream. One of the most iconic artworks of the 20th century, if not of all time, Warhol’s reproduction of the The Scream using different colour variations and stencils gives the work a completely different mood, thus encouraging the viewer to more deeply consider the artistic process.

‘Andy Warhol – After Munch’ runs until the 26th August at the Munch Museum, Oslo. For opening times visit: munchmuseet.no/en/exhibitions/andy-warhol-after-munch

Millie Walton

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large abstract painting in pink and blue colours with artist Sassan Behnam Bakhtiar on right handside
large abstract painting in pink and blue colours with Persian artist Sassan Behnam Bakhtiar on right handside

French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar with his work ‘Guardians of Life’ 2017, at his solo exhibition ‘Oneness Wholeness’

This week saw the London opening of Oneness Wholeness, a much-awaited solo show by the young French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, at the Saatchi Gallery in Chelsea.

Amid the glitzy crowd at the private view, which seemed equally split between young and old, Persians, Brits, and citizens of the world, LUX took the time to view the works themselves – not always easy in a packed gallery.

large abstract painting with floating horses on the left hand side

‘In The Company of Purity and Freedom’, Sassan Benham-Bakhtiar at the Saatchi Gallery

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glamorous guests attend gallery opening

‘Oneness Wholeness’ VIP Preview at the Saatchi Gallery

Prior to the opening the international art media made much of the show challenging Western views of Iran. For LUX, it did much more than that, blending ancient Persian mystic influences, the romanticism of some of the country’s literary giants of the 10th to 14th centuries, and a view of eternity and our place as microcosms in a multi-universed existence. The fleeting images – silhouettes of heads or horses – in his mixed media creations and an overwhelming sense of stillness and light (influenced no doubt by Behnam-Bakhtiar’s current home in the south of France) only hint at the complexity of Persian history and the empire’s reach – and much more besides.

Persian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar poses in front of his painting with his wife and Nina Moaddel at gallery opening

Maria & Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar & Nina Moaddel at the ‘Oneness Wholeness’ VIP Preview

Guests attend opening of new exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery, London

A night of celebration: Katy Wickremesinghe, Juliette Loughran, Founder of the Loughran Gallery and LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai

Read more: URWERK Founder Felix Baumgartner on modern watchmaking

The artist may be Iranian – in fact, he was born in Paris before moving to Tehran for most of his early life – but his art, like his fan base apparent at the Saatchi, is much more than that, and we imagine we will be hearing a lot more about him.

Oneness Wholeness’ by Sassan Behnam Bakhtiar and curated by Nina Moaddel runs until 5 June 2018 at the Saatchi Gallery, Chelsea.  For more information visit saatchigallery.com/art/sassanbehnam-bakhtiar

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sketchy black ink painting of figures in trees by Henri Michaux

Untitled, 1944, Henri Michaux. Private collection. © Archives Henri Michaux, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018. Photo: Jean-Louis Losi

Belgian painter and poet, Henri Michaux stubbornly refuses to fall into any particular category and yet, or perhaps because of this, he remains a huge artistic influence on writers and artists alike – indeed during his lifetime, he was known as both as a “poets’ poet” and a “painters’ painter”, idolised by the likes of André Gide and Francis Bacon.

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‘The Other Side’ at The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao is a colossal exhibition displaying more than 200 works, divided into three thematic areas: the human figure, the alphabet and the altered psyche, including his works produced under the influence of hallucinogenic substance, mescaline. A fascinating audiovisual screening gives a deeper insight into these experiments, which were conducted with the assistance of  doctors and scientists.

Watercolour painting of a face in red with blue eyes

Untitled, 1981, Henri Michaux, © Archives Henri Michaux, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018. © FMGB Guggenheim Bilbao Museo. Photo: Erika Barahona Ede

Michaux sought the intervention of chance in his works as a way of collaborating with unknown forces, therefore favouring mediums such as ink and watercolours which naturally spill and overflow (see above). In his own words, he painted to ‘to surprise himself’- and walking through the gallery at the Guggenheim, it’s the undefined beings that seem to mysteriously appear (as if by chance) on the canvas that are by far the most intriguing, and haunting.

Read more: A different kind of Alpine luxury

A major section of the gallery is also devoted to Michaux’s writings – poetry, travel journals and short stories – including works by other authors who were closely associated with the artist, such as Jorge Luis Borges and Octavio Paz, revealing the Michaux’s close links with, and influence on the literary world.

painting of a white figure with arms raised and yellow head

Untitled, 1938–39, Henri Michaux. Private collection, Paris © Archives Henri Michaux, VEGAP, Bilbao, 2018. Photo: Jean-Louis Losi

The exhibition ends soon, be sure not to miss out.

Millie Walton

‘Henry Michaux: The Other Side’ runs until 13 May 2018 at the Guggenheim, Bilbao

 

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boat cruise
boat cruise

On board Saffron, Spice Routes’ double-storey houseboat. Image by James Houston

Beyond Kerala’s humid, bustling cities lies a subtropical maze of secret waterways and verdant rice paddies. LUX discovers the singular beauty of the backwaters, aboard a luxury houseboat

We arrived in Fort Cochin, dusty and bleary-eyed from a long train ride down from Mumbai, into the thick humidity of an early Indian summer. Fort Cochin is the prettiest and oldest part of Kochi. It was once occupied by the Dutch and the Portuguese, and the cobbled streets and architecture retain the appearance of old-world Europe. The food is fresh with tropical flavours that differ from the rich, creamy sauces of Northern India. We ate best at the tables beside little huts which sit beneath palm trees along the waterfront, where the fish is caught practically before your eyes and served simply with fried spices and rice.

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Whilst this part of the town used to be busy trade port (there’s plenty to be discovered in various museums), the rhythm of life is now sleepy and tranquil, with tourists drifting between air-conditioned cafes, craft shops and independent art galleries. During our stay, we caught the last few days of the Kochi-Muziris Biennale, stumbling across various installations and exhibitions hidden within courtyards and gardens as we wandered the streets.

Mountains

Views over the rolling hills of Wayanad. Image by James Houston

Almost everyone we met was returning to the state for the second or third time, having fallen in love on their first visit. The top recommendations were to stay amongst the tea plantations in Wayanad (the north-eastern part of Kerala) and to go on a cruise through the backwaters. For many travellers, the word ‘cruise’ understandably conjures up images of massive five-storey monster ships, packed tight with tourists, but in Kerala, a cruise simply means a boat trip whether that’s on a fishing boat, houseboat, or in any other kind of floating vessel.

Most of the backwater tours depart from the coastal town of Alleppey (an hour and a half’s drive down the coast from Fort Cochin, or two hours in a tuk tuk if you prefer a slower, more scenic route). Spice Routes, unlike many of other cruise providers, offers exclusive use of their luxury houseboats, meaning that you get the whole thing to yourself. The company owns six boats varying from one-bedroom to five-bedrooms. We were booked on Saffron, an elegant double-storey boat with a large bedroom, ensuite bathroom and lounge area on the lower deck and a dining room and sundeck upstairs. The interiors paired traditional Keralan design with contemporary touches and an abundance of floor-to-ceiling windows.

Read more: Art dealer Tamara Beckwith on Rob Munday’s holographic portraiture

Rather than feeling like a floating hotel, the boat felt homely and private. The staff were there when we needed them, and not when we didn’t. We spent most of the time from our departure to nightfall, lying on the deck, sunbathing, watching the fishing boats and listening to the birds.

It is worth noting that the backwaters are by no means a secret and whilst there are, most likely, more secluded routes to navigate on smaller vessels, the main waterways tend to be busy with activity. By the evening though, when we moored up close to a bank to buy fish for our supper from a local fisherman, most of the other boats had returned home. We ate amidst silence and slept with the blinds up in a grand four-poster bed, waking with the sun.

The real luxury of the sailing through these waters, though, is the opportunity to see the landscapes and life beyond India’s urban environments. For most travellers, experiences of the country tend to be confined to the cities dotted along designated transport routes; self-drive cars are near impossible to hire and if you have a driver, it can be difficult to know exactly where to direct them unless there’s it’s to a tourist site. In the backwaters, life happens on the riverbanks: the washing of clothes, dishes, bodies, hair, swimming, chatting, playing. On the deck of a luxury boat, we became  voyeurs, made suddenly, acutely aware of the country’s wealth divide, of our privilege and other ways of existing in the world.

Rates from 25000 INR per night on-board Saffron, incl. all meals (approx. £250/ $350 / €300)

For more information visit: spiceroutes.in

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