A building and lots of people walking around

Photo London is one of the leading photographic fairs

Photo London’s ninth edition aims to integrate photography into the contemporary art world. But can it? Isabella Fergusson finds out

The cobbles of Somerset House aren’t quite bearing the catwalks of heels, neon suits and russet trousers one sees at Frieze or Art Basel. More cameras than Gucci bags slung across shoulders, more prams pushed, more WatchHouse coffee than Ruinart champagne. It seems more democratic – but to its strength or its downfall?

100 exhibitors, 44 cities worldwide: the numbers are good for London’s top photography fair, and returning galleries are strong. But, ever since photography entered the commercial world in the ‘70s, it has been seen as something of a niche by many. Its Director, Kamiar Maleki insists, however, that 2024 has seen yet more progress in cranking the door open to a contemporary art-collector-base.

man looking at picture in an art fair

This year’s Photo London is curated by Dani Matthews and entitled Shifting Horizons; photograph by Isabella Sanai

What’s happening this year that’s made it successful? ‘We’re branching out,’ he says, ‘we’re including more film, more mediums, and the car’ – he points to a navy electric car, a Lunaz, parked in the Somerset House courtyard – ‘which has been invested in by big names such as David Beckham – these have helped gain traction’. Is this because photography is not attractive enough by itself? ‘We have to entice the High Net Worths through other mediums’, he responds diplomatically. Perhaps a hint that photography alone still lacks respect; but perhaps, too, a testament to Maleki’s success in luring people into giving it the attention it deserves.

a woman in front of a daguerrotype image

Rebecca Hicks, Director of Purdy Hicks, in the reflection of a daguerrotype by Japanese photographer Takashi Arai; photographed by Joe Oswald

Photography’s technical gymnastics are exhibited with undeniable flair: see Takashi Arai’s impressive daguerrotypes, Susan Derge’s cameraless photography, laid directly over Dartmoor puddles of frogspawn, and Roope Rainisto’s AI-based works, thrumming with viewers, to a remarkable manipulation of printing mediums across the fair. The number of mediocre works was to be expected, but the number which stood out as sensational from the many Michael Jackson-type portraits was higher than one might imagine.

an exhibition room

Photo London brings together the world’s leading galleries in a major international photography Fair at Somerset House; photograph by Isabella Sanai

Sales? Well, as Rebecca Hicks, Director of Purdy Hicks, comments, the general consensus is that sales ‘remain quiet so far’. Maleki slides past the question with an ‘ask me on Tuesday!’ Fru Tholstrup, London-based art advisor and curator, though, beams with anomalous success of her showcase of Mariano Vivanco’s work from his latest book, ‘Peru’, hopping through folklore and mythology expressing striking figures between humans and animals, which one tends to associate with drawings rather than photography. Mariano remains confident in photography’s ability to leak into fine art, with a winking ‘Respect Photography, or Die!’. And he’s sold with fine art figures, too.

man standing outside a building in a suit

Kamiar Maleki, Director of Photo London; photograph by Joe Oswald

Some dealers insist they are at Photo London for the artistic exposure as much as sales. Gerber & Stauffer Fine Arts has an exhibition featuring Iranian-born Rahi Rezvani, introduced to the commercial world for the first time. Successful in luxury, performing arts and entertainment industries, he has never before sold a single print of his works.

man in front of image in of the sea

French photographer Valérie Belin has been named as the Master of Photography 2024; photograph by Isabella Sanai

But why start now? ‘People think success in photography is selling lots of photographs. I disagree. It’s about choosing carefully and selling well.’ He refuses to sell hundreds of his prints he has laid out, from a portrait of Quentin Tarantino to fiery images of dance, to a triptych covered in a natural substance he associates with sperm. Technologically, these seem extremely impressive, perhaps as or even more than those on the wall. When asked how he took them, he smiles knowingly, holding back. Brimming with confidence, he isn’t particularly interested in selling lots, but few, well-chosen ones.

That’s the way to elevate photography to the fine art world, he and Thomas Stauffer, Director of Gerber & Stauffer Fine Arts agree. Reduce the print number – even to one (in the case of his photograph ‘Willem Dafoe’) – signed with guarantee of no reproduction, and photography can have the value and respect of art. Although, in general, the knowledge that further prints can be made will always linger with all types of photography except polaroid. Even when reducing the number of editions, photography still remains on the precarious edge for established contemporary collectors.

man with red hair and blue background

Willem Dafoe, photographed by Rahi Rezvani, 2012

It’s entirely the other way around for Ana Matos, Director of Salgadeiras Arte Contemporânea. The very fact that, unlike painting, photography editions expands to an average of 5 to 7 means that it gains a democratic value, attracting a new wave of emerging millennial collectors. Such can be seen in the floor for the Nikon Emerging Photographers Award, part of Photo London. The average age decreases, buzz increases and – while sales are still reportedly quiet – the recognition and discussions are engaging a new crowd in collecting. Perhaps it’s not so much about gaining older contemporary art collectors, but shifting the next generation of collectors to photography.

man in front of an image of mountains

Photo London has two major exhibitions as part of the Public Programme, over 120 new and returning international exhibitors; photograph by Joe Oswald

And perhaps, by virtue of its less revered status, Photo London does focus more for new art and expression than collector-base. As photographer Maryam Eisler comments, ‘Photo London is a place of discovery and new talent.’ One can meet the photographs at eye-level, rather than kneel before them, and the fair is focused on the artform itself, and forming a snapshot of its growing identity and credibility. One feels closer to it all, somehow. And – as Eisler also points out – this is aided by its ‘excellent satellite programme of talks and critical thinking.’

reflection of a woman taking a picture in front of a picture

Photo London 2024 features over 400 photographers from around the globe; photograph by Joe Oswald

Photography remains on the sideline of established contemporary art; sales seem quiet. But, stripped of the catwalk-tendency of many art fairs, which can distract from the art itself, the model of a fair where art is accessible and thought about, rather than prized solely for sales, may be commercially more challenging, but is extremely refreshing. And, though established collectors may not dive into buying, photography might just present a more democratic art world – with a long way to go.

Photo London runs at Somerset House from 16-19 May 2024

See More: photolondon.org

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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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England-born, LA based British-Iranian artist Kour Pour – famous for his series of carpet paintings – delves into the rich history of Persian rugs, unshackling and readdressing cultural categorisations. And he makes something both historic and entirely new. From a youth spent climbing up piles of Persian rugs in his father’s shop, to Iran’s historical and current politics, to the voices of hip-hop music, Kour Pour chats to Isabella Fergusson about the many inspirations woven into his intercultural, intertemporal artworks

LUX: You were born in Exeter, England, but moved to LA. What effect does place – and did the move – have on your art?

Kour Pour: I very naturally respond to my surroundings in my work – images and materials I come across around the world make their way into the studio. I think it’s safe to say that Los Angeles and everything that I encounter here finds a way into my practice. My community here is incredibly diverse, and all the people that find their way into my life influence my practice. Exeter was beautiful, but it was quite homogenous. Moving from Devon to LA helped to open my world up.

LUX: You’ve exhibited all around the world; where do you feel that audiences most resonate with your works? Is it very different across these places?

KP: The nature of my practice is that it’s quite varied: I make paintings and sculptures and large-scale prints, and these can range from hyper-figurative to hyper-abstract. My experience has been that this allows everyone to have a different access point to my work, and that it promotes resonances across different cultures and geographies. I think of my different bodies of work as different languages, and therefore that allows me to have a conversation with as many people as possible.

Gathering In The Courtyard, 2022, Acrylic on canvas over panel

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LUX: Tell me about your father’s carpet shop – your earliest memories there, its inspirations for your work now.

KP: My father moved to Exeter by himself when he was 14 – a result of the Iranian Revolution in ’79. Eventually his older brother joined him, but the two of them were teenagers in a new country without a support system. So, they had a typical immigrant experience of arriving in a new place and just having to figure it out. My father eventually rented a storefront that had many different lives when I was growing up: a sunglass store, and ice cream shop. That one was my favorite. But when I was about 4 or 5, it was a carpet store. I remember being a child and climbing around all the rugs and feeling that they made a place seem like home. I also remember my father touching up old and faded carpets by hand using natural dyes. That was probably one of the first times I was exposed to painting, in any form.

green screen print

Jade Tiger, 2021

LUX: You’ve said before that you wished museum collections wouldn’t be separated by geographic location or time period, which throws up the challenge of overly constrictive categorisation, particularly in the case of your work. But where would you place your art if it had to be geographically categorised – by its inspiration, or the location it was painted, or your descent? Perhaps it simply cannot comfortably be boxed up…

KP: I don’t want to categorise the work. One of the beautiful things about art is that you can find relationships across temporal and geographic boundaries. I want to allow my work that freedom.

LUX: I was speaking to an artist yesterday that said that a painter has to confront and get over the fact that what he does is – in absolute terms – utterly pointless. Do you agree? Have you had to to confront a sense of uselessness?

KP: Maybe an artist that has nothing to say in their work could feel that painting is pointless, but I absolutely disagree with that notion. Art is a healer. Whether for the artist or the viewer, the act of creating is therapeutic and experiencing someone else communicate through any medium is both thrilling and comforting. It’s an expression of being alive. There are so many things art can do. It raises awareness, it becomes a record of a time, it tells stories, and it imagines alternative ways of being. Art is endless in its possibilities.

painting

A Voyage For Tea & Spices, 2023, Acrylic on canvas over panel, 84 x 60 inches

LUX: Should art’s political role be more respected – and is art, or should it be, inherently political?

KP: Art is made by people. Some individuals exist in worlds that are heavily politicized, and some don’t. Artists make work that is, directly or indirectly, a reflection of their reality, so you could argue that art is always social and political.

LUX: How do your Iranian roots play into your work?

KP: My Iranian identity has always been a big part of how I navigate my reality. It has influenced both how I’ve engaged with the world, and how the world has engaged with me. I’ve used Iranian imagery in my own practice, and that identity has also guided some projects that are not directly related to what I’m doing in the studio. In 2022, I opened an exhibition project space in my studio complex in Inglewood, called Guest House. The first show was of Iranian artists living in Los Angeles, born out of what I perceived as a lack of engagement with the Iranian community by the city’s art scene. Which is crazy, given how many Iranians there are in LA – the city has the largest population living outside of Iran.

painting

Eternal Springtime (Nowruz), 2017 – 2021, Acrylic on canvas over panel, 96 x 144 inches

Two weeks after we opened the exhibition, the Woman, Life, Freedom protests broke out after Jina Mahsa Amini’s death in Tehran. Guest House immediately became a hub for the community. We would have people come visit the show and trade news about what was going on back home in Iran, we had film screenings, and we tried to respond in whatever way we could to what was going on. That sense of community, and the relationships that I made over the course of that first exhibition, have entered the studio and now help inform the totality of my studio practice.

LUX: Hip-hop and carpet painting seem an unlikely combination. What about the music inspires you, and is it hip-hop’s differences or similarities to your medium which feed your works?

KP: One of the things that initially drew me to hip hop was the idea of sampling: taking a sound from a song, transforming it, and adding it into another song. This matches up with the way that the carpets I’m interested in were made: images would travel along the Silk Road and there would be this incredible intermixing of cultures. A single rug that was assigned Persian origin would have images from as far west as Venice and as far east as China. I think that the language around sampling in hip hop is a perfect way to speak about these works.

See more: kourpour.com

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Alan Lau and Durjoy Rahman. Photomontage by Isabel Phillips

Alan Lau is Vice Chairman of M+ Museum, the era-defining new institution in Hong Kong’s West Kowloon district. Here he speaks with philanthropist and collector Durjoy Rahman about why private individuals need to support artists and art activations, and how Asia is moving to control its own narratives in the cultural world. Moderated by LUX Leaders & Philanthropists Editor, Samantha Welsh

LUX: Why is private philanthropy and engagement important in bringing art to a broader audience in general and particularly in Asia?

Alan Lau: Private philanthropy and patronage are critical because governments rarely cover arts funding entirely. The percentage contribution from UK public sources is higher than in the US but patrons are needed not just for the money they bring in but for their networks, resources and connections that enable museums to develop.

One particularly interesting phenomenon is China where there are over a thousand private museums established by collectors. Many are located in Beijing, Shanghai and the largest cities, but a lot of them are set-up in corporate headquarters or the collector’s hometown, bringing art to a community that may not have had access to art before.

ALAN LAU AND HIS FRIEND IN SUITS ON BLACK AND WHITE BACKGROUND

Alan Lau within the exhibition, ‘Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now’

Durjoy Rahman: Conventionally art philanthropy was the preserve of a small proportion of society. Patronage was offered by this tiny minority for centuries until now, in the 21st century. This is a new era for patronage. For our foundation, patronage involves strategic social investment into creativity and innovation for the wider public benefit. It takes account of our collective history, original cultures, and future directions and fosters the development of a more equitable, sustainable society.

two boys standing next to each other holding bows and arrows

‘Archers’ (2021), by Matthew Krishanu, from the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation Collection

I am a business owner but I still felt that the economic landscape of GDP and foreign investment are not the only way to measure the development of a society. Art and culture help define who we are and where we came from, give rein to our imagination and support social justice.

LUX: Why is that particularly important in Asia?

AL: The benefit of not having a long history of arts philanthropy is that people experiment with different models. When wealth creation happens in this part of the world, it comes with the tradition of giving back and that is where the phenomenon of museums founded locally back in the hometown came from. The idea has propagated only over the past decade really.

Follow LUX on Instagram: @luxthemagazine

LUX: How has patronage and philanthropic support for institutions changed? And how should it change?

AL: It has always been the private patrons who have funded programs and supported curatorial roles, put their names on buildings and so on. There has been innovation in the institutional space about 20 years ago, starting from TATE Modern setting-up International patron groups in North America, Asia, MENA and growing to over ten committees. The Guggenheim and Pompidou have something similar. These patron groups bring people from different regions to support programming, curatorial research and exhibitions. So these are not municipal museums but institutions that serve a global audience and have a global perspective. The global patrons help attract resources into specific acquisitions and research. This is relatively new for museums. With corporate sponsorship too there is a lot of change.

DR: With patronage, we need also to open a conversation about overcoming cultural barriers. South Asia has a long history of art and culture but also long history of being colonised. So our arts and cultural heritage have not been projected properly. When global art movements started, the major arts and cultural institutions were set up in Europe. This meant that our legacy was not represented or discussed. The arts’ press, academics, art writers, also all were European, so there was no discussion or projection of our art heritage. We were left behind.

So with art philanthropy, what has changed over the past decade, has been led by major biennial art fairs and significant curatorial institutions, particularly in China, in Hong Kong like M+, India, Dubai and Saudi Arabia where I was recently in AlUla and Riyadh. We are all reassessing our lost identity, which was always there but not at the forefront simply because we did not own our story or have the press and art critics onside. You can have magnificent works but it is not enough if no one shares it with the wider audience.

A ship

‘Fishermen at rest’ (2012), by Rafiqun Nabi, from the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation Collection

LUX: How does Asia overcome cultural barriers to art in terms of its creation and appreciation, as it’s still not considered a ‘real job’ in many quarters?

AL: There is a deep history of art in Asia but it is interesting you ask why art is not considered a real job here. Once you say ‘job’ that says there is a market and assumes a market for local art. That is a very interesting topic for Asian artists right now and comes down to cultural confidence. We see that in Korea where Koreans collectors like to buy Korean art. Hong Kong collectors have begun to collect Hong Kong artists in the last couple of years, and the Japanese are famous for not collecting Japanese art. The Chinese collected a lot of Chinese art around the Olympics and now they’re back to collecting western art.

It really comes down to cultural confidence, to what they think is good, so it is very easy to gravitate toward the Anglo-Saxon and Western art world. It’s difficult, but it’s the gold standard for whatever is best at the time, from Picasso or most recently to George Condo or Jeff Koons. Locals need to learn to develop that cultural confidence to buy local and to support local art for culture to flourish.

Colourful figures standing around a table

From the M+ exhibition, ‘Yayoi Kusama: 1945 to Now’

DR: When we talk about art markets, I agree with what you say, Alan. In South Korea, the Koreans are buying the Korean artists who are represented by the western galleries. So the locals are going to the western galleries originally from US and Europe, who are exhibiting at fairs in Korea, effectively buying their local artists via those western intermediaries.

In Bangladesh, as an example, we are a population of 180 million. If the 1% or .5% started buying art, there would be no supply in the market! So why is .5% of an entire nation not interested in buying art? It is because creative people, not only the artists but curators, gallerists, collectors are not creating the momentum to promote investment in art. And there is a problem with status and perception. In Bangladesh there is an appetite and a market for luxury brands but not for art. The wider audience does not aspire to buy local art.

In the western world, particularly where I have seen in France, Germany, Netherlands, Switzerland, and Canada where I lived for a long time, creatives are supported with subsidised housing or studio space so they can afford to produce art. That just doesn’t exist in a country in like Bangladesh. Artists graduate from an important school but change their profession for a better life.

I was preparing a lecture for my HK session for Sotheby’s Institute and commented that In Bangladesh we buy a lot of western art. Why are we buying so much western art and supporting western artists? Forget about aspiration, many of those artists are time-tested investments and our local artists are not. George Condo or Ai Wei Wei will be keeping value for decades. I want to and do support local artists but it’s a bigger picture.

LUX: How does Asia become a leader in art rather than participating in the so-called western gaze?

AL: No one will tell your story, you have to tell it yourself! While I love the Met or Tate or Guggenheim’s China show or Korea show, that is a fantastic spotlight but it is you who understands your story. One of the inaugurating shows of M+ was with Kusama and I think it was us telling that story from here in Asia that gave it a very different texture.

THE OUTSIDE OF A MUSEUM WITH A MODERN LOOK AND A GREYSIH SKY

M+ Museum, is Hong Kong’s cultural hub for twentieth and twenty-first century art encompassing visual art, design and architecture, and moving image

M+ was set up to do just that, to be a Museum for Asia. One of the most touching things for me, two years after our opening when we welcomed the first group of visitors, was the overwhelming comment I heard from people saying is ‘Thank you! This is my Museum!’. These are not people from Hong Kong but from South Korea, Japan, Singapore and they see themselves in our collection. This is an Asian museum giving a voice and creating narratives and telling stories from an Asian point of view. We need more institutions to do that. You need to tell your own story.

LUX: What is it about being from Hong Kong and Dhaka that has contributed to your identity and vision for collecting?

AL: My collection is about stories that I feel privileged to talk about. The collecting vision is a reflection of who I am, which is someone born in Hong Kong, living in the city when it was a British colony, witnessing HK’s transition back to China, living through big changes, seeing the economic rise of China and the issues that come with all of that, living through all the tech development, broadband, now video, now AI. I have a strong link with artists from HK and the region and a strong relationship with technology with the context of my day job.

A BLUE PICTURE ON A WALL WITH SOME BOOKS IN FRONT

From Alan Lau’s expansive collection

DR: Dhaka is important in South Asia but for me Hong Kong is the centre of gravity in the so-called Far East because it is a connector to APAC and South Asia. Hong Kong and Bangladesh already had a connection historically and we represent a new “silk route”. We need to create Asian art power by amplifying the patronage of institutions like M+.

LUX: In what ways can innovative artists capture the essence of our time and realities?

AL: Artists are story-tellers, here to tell stories of our time. The best art is time-stamped but timeless. For example, at M+ right now, the most recent M+Sigg collection show is a controversial work by Chinese duo Sun Yuan and Peng Yu. It is set in an old people’s home, created nearly 20 years ago, taking the faces of the world political leaders at that time, and fast-forwarding them to when they are 80 years’ old sitting in automated wheelchairs that go round the hall so you see all these old people roaming around. Twenty years’ on how funny it is our world is still run by grey old men!

DR: That is true and sometimes when we talk about innovation, that does not mean it has to be technological innovation. At the end of the day you are talking about art. We are really talking about mental science and inventive hands that influence because it is about newness and original ideas. Art can’t be boring, or monotonous because we are not forced to look at art. Art has to inspire us and innovation is part of that inspiration process.

A lung of fruit

Organic To Organ – V (2022), by Shimul Saha, from the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation Collection. Crochet weaving, cotton yarn and cotton

LUX: How has your interest in innovation catalysed your collecting journey, Alan?

AL: I am fascinated by artists who are very resourceful storytellers. They always find find the latest technology or way of production to present their ideas in new ways that offer fresh perspectives. This creates all kinds of interesting dynamics in our human relationship with technology. We have futuristic, experimental tech, with artists like Cao Fei from China showing humans’ chaotic relationship with technology, Camille Henrot on the abuse of social networks, dystopic work from Jon Rafman, and then of course Beeple and other digital artists. We have a much more tense relationship with technology and that’s reflected in the artistic output and practices.

LUX: What are you looking forward to at the Venice Biennale?

AL: I’m definitely looking forward to what Hong Kong will present. Trevor Yeung is someone we know very well because we worked with him at ParaSite and we have really seen him grow. Another one that’s going to be in the main Pavilion is Isaac Chong Wai, originally from Hong Kong but representing the diaspora, based in Berlin, with a lot to say on global topics.

DR: There will be some artists from Bangladesh, India and Pakistan there and I will be looking out for their practices, how they respond to the concept that the curator has identified like displacement, the diaspora, identity and cultural history. I like go to a national Pavilion to see how that country is portraying their art and culture, rather than look for the presentation of a particular artist.

Read More:

mplus.org

durjoybangladeshfoundation.org

 

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green vineyard with tree and building and sun

Picasso, Miro, Dali, Richter, Braque: supreme Bordeaux Chateau Mouton-Rothschild has had them all, and many more, create its wine label over the decades. Candice Tucker speaks to Julien de Beaumarchais, from the owning family of the esteemed first growth, about the latest label artist, Chiharu Shiota, whose work adorns the excellent 2021 vintage

LUX: How has your relationship with art changed through the process of commissioning these label artworks?

Julien de Beaumarchais: Before the passing of my mother, Baroness Philippine de Rothschild, in 2014, I spent more than 15 years working in the market for Old Master paintings and drawings, the creators of which had been dead for a very long time. So it was a radical change for me when, after 2014, I became responsible for the artists who would illustrate the label for our next vintage. I found myself in contact with famous people with strong personalities who were very much alive, accompanying them throughout their creative adventure for Mouton. From Miquel Barceló to Shiharu Chiota, it has been quite a voyage of discovery into all the diversity and complexity of the leading names of contemporary art.

wine barrels with lights and under the tunnels

Château Mouton Rothschild Winery. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you illuminate the relationship of the family with this particular artist Chiharu Shiota? How do you choose your artists?

JB: The choice of the artist is a family affair, made in consultation with the other two owners of Château Mouton Rothschild, my sister Camille Sereys de Rothschild and my brother Philippe Sereys de Rothschild. The artists are chosen first and foremost because we like their work and that they are world renowned. My mother, the late Baroness Philippine de Rothschild (1933- 2014) used to give the following answer to this question, which still holds true today: “I have no particular method or five-year plan: my choice is based on my enthusiasm for an artist’s work. I always establish a personal relationship with them, which often turns into friendship, because I deeply love the art of the painter I ask, and for me each work is an expression of the artist’s love for Mouton and its magic.”

A long time ago my mother told me she had been fascinated by one of Chiharu Shiota’s works, shown alongside those of other young artists, at the Galerie Daniel Templon in Paris. For her, on that day, Chiharu Shiota really stood out, and the future has proved her right. The artist’s fame has grown with the passing years, as has the number of exhibitions of her works around the world, and I in turn have been fascinated by her striking, captivating installations. Chance played an important part too: in 2019, on the occasion of a visit to Château Mouton Rothschild, the director of the Mori Art Center in Tokyo offered me a copy of the magnificent catalogue of the great Chiharu Shiota retrospective at the Mori. Leafing through it, I said to myself “One day I will ask Chiharu Shiota to create an artwork for Mouton”.

 

Read more: Prince Robert de Luxembourg on Art & Fine Wine

 

LUX: Which artists do you wish you had secured in the past, who are now either unavailable or dead?

JB: That’s a very hard question to answer: there are so many wonderful artists we would have liked to work with, but there is only one a year. Those missing from the list who died before we were able to ask them include Louise Bourgeois, Cy Twombly, Vieira da Silva and, more recently, Sam Szafran in 2019… But the most important thing is to focus on the artists to come.

 

LUX: How do you feel the context of the artwork by Chiharu Shiota is influenced by the wine and the vineyard?

JB: When I discovered Chiharu Shiota’s artwork for Château Mouton Rothschild, I was fascinated by her vision, so close to the world of wine, especially in the relationship between humankind and nature. Indeed, the human figure is a fragile silhouette facing nature, gorgeous and generous but seemingly dominant, in the same way that the vinegrower is exposed to the unpredictable power of the vine. Yet the four threads that link them, symbolising the four seasons, show that the grower is also capable of channelling it and guiding it towards the ideal of a great wine. I really love this bright red colour, one of her trademarks, so reminiscent of a fabulous cluster of grapes or of new wine running out of the vats…

Plus, Chiharu Shiota said of his visit to Château Mouton Rothschild: “When I visited Château Mouton Rothschild, I was very inspired by their relationship with nature. They depend on the weather and do not interfere with mother nature. They accept the conditions in which the grapes grow. I think Mouton is holding on to the balance of human and nature.”

a label for wine with an artist image on it

Château Mouton Rothschild 2021 Vintage label by Chiharu Shiota

LUX: Can you further speak to the wider context of art in untraditional spaces, which these commissions exemplify?

JB: It is true that nowadays artistic creation is to be found on a wide variety of media, and sometimes in highly unexpected places. But art on wine labels is not exactly untraditional, at least not for us, and we seem to have set an example for others. However, Mouton occupies a unique position for two reasons: it was the first château to feature labels illustrated with an original artwork (Jean Carlu in 1924), and after that to have asked the greatest names in contemporary art to create an artwork for the label.

 

LUX: Do you think people buy the wines because of the labels?

JB: Yes and no. Château Mouton Rothschild’s success is due above all to the quality of the wine. But art lovers or admirers of a particular artist who has created an artwork for a label may acquire a certain bottle for that reason, or else a wine collector may want to buy a specific vintage to complete their collection of Mouton Rothschild with illustrated labels.

 

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

 

LUX: Would you be able to share about the vineyard’s involvement in the artists process and their work for this commission?

JB: It is very important for us that the artist should come and spend some time at Château Mouton Rothschild, to get a feel for the place, a better understanding of our history, our terroir and the way we make our wine. The visit is often a source of inspiration.

Artists are not given any particular instructions when they create a label for Château Mouton Rothschild: they have entire creative freedom. That being said, many artists have chosen to base their illustration, each in their own way, on subjects related to Mouton, such as the ram and the vine.

There is a long and impressive line of artists who have contributed to these labels, with public access to the original works.

vineyard in yellow light and sky

Château Mouton Rothschild estate. Photo by Alain Benoit

LUX: Can you tell us more about how you may hope to amplify this exhibition?

JB: The exhibition amplifies itself, since a new work is added to the collection each year! But more than amplify, what I would like most is to diversify, in terms of both creative techniques and the geographical origin of our future artists.

Find out more:mouton-rothschild

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Reading time: 6 min
identical men in blue suits in a row with their arm our to shake a hand
A man sitting cross legged with a skull in his lap wearing a suit

Maurizio Cattelan
self-portrait created by the artist and Pierpaolo Ferrari for LUX

Maurizio Cattelan
, Italy’s most celebrated living artist, tells Darius Sanai about surrealism, failing at school, and why art can never be a commentary on society. Pencil Portrait by Jonathan Newhouse. Photographic portraits of Maurizio Catellan created for LUX by the artist

Italy’s greatest living artist – and one of Europe’s most celebrated artists of this century – is also something of a philosopher, if you read some of his sharp-tongued musings over the years; or, indeed, if you look at his art. Among Maurizio Cattelan
’s most celebrated creations are a solid-gold toilet and a very famous banana taped to a wall in an art fair (which was subsequently eaten by an art student).

Some of his work echoes Voltaire, with its artful, humorous but piercing satirisation of elements of our times – until you examine more closely and wonder what, exactly, is the target of his satire. His biannual magazine, Toiletpaper, which features beautiful, disturbing, engrossing images created with his collaborator, the photographer Pierpaolo Ferrari, could be seen as surreal, satirical or something else entirely.

Speaking with Cattelan is how I imagine it would be like to be toyed with by a mischievous octopus. You think you have an idea of an answer, and then another leg curls round your head from behind and tweaks your ear. The son of a truck driver and a cleaner, with no formal training in art, Cattelan did not shine at school: a million parents around the world would have been forgiven for assuming this son of Padua, northern Italy, was destined not to do anything with his life.

A drawing of a man

Illustration of Maurizio Cattelan
by Jonathan Newhouse, 2023

And yet his blue-collar parents produced one of the most sophisticated, thoughtful and intelligent artists I have met; and also one of the hardest to pigeonhole. He is not, by his own admission, a painter. Is he a sculptor? An installation artist? A surrealist? What kind of art is a banana taped to the wall, or any of the works he has created on these pages (and on our cover) for LUX? Is he really what his art suggests he is, a mix of Marcel Duchamp, Monty Python and Andy Warhol?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

After some brain-scrambling and highly entertaining and engaging exchanges, I think I have the answer. But why don’t you read our interview below and come to your own conclusions. Like mine, they will probably be wrong, for Cattelan is a playful yet deadly serious chimera who, as his elementary-school teachers probably said, can never quite be pinned down.

Darius Sanai: Your parents were not in the art world. That must have made it difficult for you to enter the art scene. Did you meet any resistance?
Maurizio Cattelan
:
Resistance is not the right word to describe it. The difference between people lies only in their having greater or lesser access to economic possibilities and knowledge, and in being successful in accessing these two elements when the starting conditions do not allow it. All the choices that I have made are aimed at seeking that access. I am a devotee of free will much more than of destiny: in this sense, the Catholic religion has had no influence on me, while the Lutheran heresy is much more in my comfort zone. I am convinced that destiny is nothing but the sum of our choices. Regarding what my parents would have thought of me being an artist, I was lucky enough not to discover it.

DS: What did you want to do when you were at school?
MC: My childhood was not an easy one, but it was not special at all – I share this burden with many people before and after me, who suffered from the same condition. The first memory I have from school was a suspension in first grade. It was an agitated, very proletarian class. I don’t remember why but the teacher wrote in the notebook that I shouldn’t show up the next day. My parents were meant to sign the note from the teacher, but I spent a whole day imitating my parents’ signatures so as not to face their judgment and punishment. They never found out. Also, the report card never arrived at my parents’, because I kept forging their signatures.

A man's head looking worried surrounded by his head in green and yellow around him

Maurizio Cattelan
self-portrait created by the artist and Pierpaolo Ferrari for LUX

DS: You had no formal art training. Does this mean that a great artist needs no training?
MC: Not at all, but it was true for me–art training would have made me give up. The most distressing gift I ever received was a painter’s kit: it had everything I needed to paint, and I had no idea how to use it. It was a year at home that reminded me how inadequate I was as a painter, or at working with my hands in general. It was really frustrating: they were tools that I wanted to try but at the same time I knew I wasn’t able to master them.

DS: You are a satirist, a disruptor. Why?
MC: Please, you tell me, because I feel like the most boring person I know!

DS: Is your art a commentary on society?
MC: Not at all. I’ve always believed that if something can be reduced to one clear concept, it is as sure as hell artistically dead. Art has no direct and unique intent, otherwise it is a problem that has already been resolved, and there’s nothing interesting in this. So, you’ll never hear me affirming a show has one single objective – otherwise, it would be simple advertising. Art is good for you as long as you make whatever you want out of it.

DS: Is one of your aims to create discomfort in those viewing your art? If so, why?
MC: I promise you I have no such nasty aim. I do what I do to deal with my problems, if they create discomfort it is not something planned deliberately. I simply can’t help it.

identical men in blue suits in a row with their arm our to shake a hand

Maurizio Cattelan
self-portrait created by the artist and Pierpaolo Ferrari for LUX

DS: Who are your forebears? Duchamp? Picasso?
MC: The maximum I can say is that I sometimes dream about finding a bear in my closet. I’m not sure if it is its dimensions or its teeth, but it is quite scary. Imagine if I also had fore-bears!

DS: What effect would you like your art to have on the world?
MC: I would not ask this question in these terms: a flower blooms because its time came, not because there is a reason or effect it can forsee. Similarly, it happens with art, design and all forms of innovation: they happen when the time tis right, it is as simple as this.

DS: Does it trouble you that only the wealthy can buy art that is considered “great” now? What is the relationship between art and its price?
MC: Artworks, art institutions and the art market are linked together, as they form an indissoluble chain that allows the machine to work. Experience teaches us that light cannot exist without darkness and that an ecosystem cannot be balanced if a prey doesn’t have its predator: this is also the case in the art world.

DS: Does it not trouble you that many great works, including yours, are locked in private collections? What can be done to change this (except a revolution)?
MC: It would trouble me if the collectors has no interest in showing them, but since it is in their own interest to show them around as it would increase their value, I don’t see a big issue there. Wise collectors assemble collections that are not purely speculative, and they can be the best companion for an artist. They can help a lot in developing and giving birth to what you have in mind: the fact that you can dream about something because a collector is supporting you opens an entire world of possibilities.

A banana taped to the wall

Comedian, 2019, by Maurizio Cattelan

DS: Is revolution a good idea?
MC: It is always a good idea when it’s performed, and not spoken.

DS: Can you describe how you create a work, from inspiration to completion?
MC: My favourite part is the ideation, then I prefer to let others take care of the practicalities, as realisation is a sea I can’t navigate. My contribution is the initial one: the conception of a work is the most interesting part for me, everything is new and exciting. The more you get into the practical phase, the more impatient I become to start with another one: I don’t like the things I already know.

DS: You have said all decoration is disturbing; and yet you have Toiletpaper Home, a homewares line. Should home decoration be disturbing also?
MC: Did I say so? Maybe I was referring to my place; that is totally empty. But I love to think that Toiletpaper images could be applied to home decoration – it has always been a project that knows no limit.

DS: Are you a surrealist? A sensationalist? Absurdist? Or any other kind of “ist”?
MC: I am a 1-ist of contradiction.

A man hanging from a green bathroom

You, 2021, by Maurizio Cattelan
at Massimo de Carlo, Milan, 2022

DS: Is there a morality, a commentary on the human condition or society in your works?
MC: I believe I already answered this, but just to be clear: art should not have a straightforward , unique clear message, otherwise it is advertising.

DS: You have said that if you have been able to amke good art, it’s because of your flaws. What are those?
MC: Le me answer as if I was in a job interview: I’m a perfectionist.

DS: What are your best works of art?
MC: Only time will tell.

DS: Should the banana have been eaten?
MC: Only if next time the peel and tape are also eaten.

The Guggenheim building with items hanging from the ceiling to the floor

Installation view of ALL, 2011, by Maurizio Cattelan
, at Solomon R Guggenheim Museum, New York, 2011

DS: What role do you think shock value plays in contemporary art?
MC: I wish for every artist’s work to be incendiary, and to never satisfy expectations. In the latter case, it is a style exercise and a waste of time, both for the artist and for the audience.

DS: Your recent collaboration with Gucci explores appropriation and originality. How important is it to be original in the art world today?
MC: Culture has been rewritten many times from many different points of view. If we look at history, copying has been the method of disseminating knowledge as much as in the contemporary world: scribes copied books to ensure future generations had the same knowledge and to preserve their culture over the centuries. A few years earlier, the Romans copied Greek sculptures, as today we copy the great classics and see them in souvenir shops. Copying is a concept as old as humanity, because it is the presupposition of knowledge tout court.

Read more: An Interview with William Kentridge

DS: What about Longchamp, what are you doing there?
MC: It’s a collaboration, a capsule that witnesses the marriage between Longchamp and Toiletpaper. I am looking forward to discovering what the result will be.

DS: Are you a Voltaire of the art world?
MC: You tell me, as I’m not sure of who I am in general, never mind in the art world!

three men standing together

Darius Sanai with Maurizio Cattelan
and Pierpaolo Ferrari

DS: Which artists, living or dead, do you admire most?
MC: All those who did what they did under a sense of urgency.

DS: What or who is overrated in the art world?
MC: All those who did what they did NOT under a sense of urgency.

DS: Will you create digital art?
MC: I’d rather not, I’m far too old for that.

The Longchamp x Toiletpaper Le Pliage collection is at Longchamp stores and lonchamp.com. A limited-edition issue of Toiletpaper features the collaboration.

toiletpapermagazine.org

Photographer: Pierpaolo Ferrari
Art Director: Antonio Colomboni
Set Designer: Michela Natella
Set Builder: Lorenzo Dispensa
Hair and Makeup: Lorenzo Zavatta
Stylist: Elisa Zaccanti

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 10 min
colourful orange, pink and green feathers
A woman's reflection by a feather sculptureKate MccGwire is a British artist whose childhood on the Norfolk Broads inspired her to create art around landscapes and wildlife. Often collaborating with fashion brands, MccGwire recently produced a limited edition scarf line with Co-Lab369. Here, Candice Tucker speaks with the artist about linking her nature focused art with the fashion world

LUX: How did you initially get involved with Co-Lab369 and what do you admire about them as a brand?
Kate MccGwire: I met Michelle Lindup, the cofounder of Co-Lab369, about 10-15 years ago in Paris. She was a collector and she bought some of my work at an exhibition. We have stayed in touch and every time I go to Paris, we have lunch together and this discussion about scarves happened during one of those lunches, and it evolved over a period of time.

A brown and dark purple feather print scarf

LUX: You’ve worked on many collaborative projects, from ESKMO, to Iris van Herpen to Helmut Lang. What do you enjoy about collaborative work, and how have you found your latest collaboration with Co-Lab369?
KM: It’s really interesting. It’s a very fine balance, trying to get that ethos straight and we’ve managed to do that. We have worked together for a quite a long time now putting it all together. It’s been a labour of love because Michelle has a really strong background in printed textiles and doing all the sampling, so that was her area of expertise, and my work translates really well into cloth and fabric. The quality of the silk is such a high standard that the lustra of the feathers really come out so it has been really exciting to see it come to life.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

I did a project with Ann Demeulemeester, and my work was on their catwalk show in Paris in 2015 and one of my proudest moments was to see all of these garments which I had worked on, walking down the catwalk in the Palais de Tokyo; it was just such a pinch yourself moment.

Two grey sculptures hung on a wall

LUX: Do you ever find it challenging making sure your vision aligns with the fashion house?
KM: It is always a discussion. There are things I am not prepared to do, I don’t want to change the colours of the feathers, for example. They are all the original colours of the feathers that I work with, and nothing is dyed. I wouldn’t die any feather on my work as I wouldn’t want the colours not to be original to the bird which I think is important.

Black and grey feather print scarf

LUX: You work in many mediums – from sculpture to film to drawing. How have you found incorporating fashion into your work?
KM: I love fashion. I am not a fashionista at all, but I really admire it. The thing I don’t like about fashion is it’s so seasonal. I like to buy something that lasts and is an iconic piece, like the dress I’m wearing now, an Issey Miyake dress. I know that it will be good for years, and I think that about the scarf. It’s not a seasonal thing, it’s not the seasons colour, it’s nature’s colour, it’s not going to go out of fashion, it is a limited edition beautiful aesthetic piece that will last for years.

A large feather print rug under a coffee table in a drawing room

There are a very small numbers of scarves. For some of them there are only 50 and for others, 200. It’s early days and at the moment, it’s a very small unique range. Someone who wants to buy one from me has already said “I want to frame it”. My work is very labour intensive and therefore quite expensive so it’s a way for people who love my work, to having something, enjoy the work, but not having to spend so much.

colourful orange, pink and green feathers

LUX: How do you feel about people wearing your art, and would you say that performance, or wearable, art is of particular importance now?
KM: I’m rather subversive in the fact that I love the idea of people wearing something they regard as ‘rats with wings’, pigeons, around their neck. It tickles my humour that that is a possibility, that you can transform someone’s opinion of something being disgusting to something beautiful.

white and grey flower petals zoomed in

LUX: The feather is something that features beautifully across your works. Why the feather?
KM: The feather is iconic. If you have a white feather, it is a symbol of defeat. Kids will pick up a feather and they will be Hiawatha, it’s a transformative object and they provide warmth and flight, and it also has a method of attraction and that all ties in with what we do to adorn ourselves, in fashion. The feathers do that to the bird; they attract a mate with their various colours.

A feather print scarf hung up around trees in a forest

LUX: In what ways does your art draw inspiration from, and connect, your current life and your childhood in Norfolk?
KM: My family had a boat, not a very smart boat, but every weekend we would go away on this boat and we would travel at reed height across very quiet waterways and I would be the one spotting the Bittern and the Marsh Harrier, like a tiny little vole or an otter if we were lucky and kingfishers if we were very lucky. Now, I live on the Thames, at Weybridge, and I see a kingfisher every single day and I feel like I could never leave that house because that’s such a special thing.

A brown, blue and amber feather print scarf

LUX: How do you incorporate sustainability into your work?
KM: My work is made with sustainable materials, they last a long time, although they are very delicate, provided they are looked after very well. We try and use recycled packaging; we are very conscious of that. We don’t use bubble wrap. We try and wrap as carefully as we can but it’s very difficult because the moment a piece leaves the studio it’s very difficult to insist things are done in the way you would do them in your studio, but we try.

A woman holding a black and grey feather print scarf around her back

LUX: Do you think contemporary art holds a political or fundamental duty to contribute to sustainable changes?
KM: I think so. Going to art shows and seeing them put down a carpet on a Monday and take it up on Sunday and put it in a bin is terrible. If they organised themselves properly they could find a homeless charity and they could use the carpet for 20-15 homes, but they don’t do that; they put it in the bin. Everyone has a duty. Art is a glamourous world, so some people aren’t interested in it.

Read more: Millie Jason Foster on supporting female artists

LUX: What next? Will you return to sculpture or continue in wearable mediums?
KM: Of course, this is very much a tiny fraction of my practice. I have an exhibition opening at the end of this month with Iris van Herpen and she has selected my work to go along with her grand retrospective. I also have work going to Miami at the Untitled Art Fair, with a two-person booth there with Galerie Les Filles du Calvaire, I have loads of commissions and working very hard.

Find out more: katemccgwire.com

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Reading time: 6 min
A woman wearing a black and yellow dress standing between two old men
A woman wearing a white blazer with her arms folded

Italian art collector and philanthropist Umberta Beretta

Italy’s contemporary art scene is blooming. After decades of being perceived as a museum of the past, the home of the Renaissance is experiencing another rebirth under a new generation of philanthropists, curators and collectors. Guest editor Umberta Gnutti Beretta introduces and curates some of the key figures on the new Italian scene for LUX’s Italy Art Focus series

Art philanthropy has been a part of Italian culture since before the time of the Medici. It is a tradition that is not incentivised by tax breaks, as it is in countries including the US, but it is very prominent all the same. It is for this reason that we see the significant and powerful exercises of Italian philanthropy that we are showcasing in LUX.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Italian philanthropy happens among all generations including the young. We can see this in the case of Edoardo Monti, who was 26 and living in New York when, in 2017, he decided to move back to Italy, to a family palazzo in Brescia, to start the Palazzo Monti residency.

A woman in a white jacket standing next to a man in a suit

Umberta Beretta with Edoardo Monti at Spazio Almag

We are also seeing the increasing role of women. There is Patrizia Sandretto Re Rebaudengo, of the Fondazione Sandretto Re Rebaudengo in Turin, who supports contemporary artists and whose team curates art for everyone to enjoy. There is Gemma De Angelis Testa, who created ACACIA, an association of friends of Italian art, and who has donated 105 works to Ca’ Pesaro Gallery in Venice from her private collection. Giovanna Forlanelli Rovati opened the Fondazione Luigi Rovati, named after her late father-in-law, recently adding an art museum showing Etruscan and contemporary art. Beatrice Trussardi runs the Fondazione Nicola Trussardi as a nomadic project that creates exhibitions in often forgotten spaces and places. L’Espresso magazine did a story on all of us: the mecenate, female patrons of the new Italian art revolution.

Two women standing together, one waving her hand

Umberta Beretta with artist Jenny Holzer

Despite its rich art history, Italy is not a leader in the contemporary art world in terms of money – most auction activity is in London, New York, Paris or Asia. But in terms of seeing art, everyone wants to come to Venice or Milan or Florence. The quality here is very high. We have artists such as Maurizio Cattelan
, who stands out in the contemporary art scene, and Lucio Fontana in modern art history, but there is so much more. Paola Pivi and Marinella Senatore are very interesting, and there are rising stars like video artist Diego Marcon, transspecies performance artist Agnes Questionmark and industrial artist Arcangelo Sassolino.

Two men and a woman standing on a gold staircase

Umberta Beretta with Arcangelo Sassolino and Paolo Repetto

In addition to hosting foundations, Italian cities have become places for contemporary artists from around the world to live and work. Danish artist Leonardo Anker Vandal is in Brescia; Ignasi Monreal from Barcelona and
Thelonious Stokes from Chicago live and work in Florence; and Ukrainian artist Daria Dmytrenko is in Venice. As well as being the location of the Palazzo Monti residency, Brescia is the Italian Capital of Culture this year. And Florence has the Fondazione Palazzo Strozzi, where Arturo Galansino has created a world-class art museum. So artists can come to Italy and take a look at what surrounds them, old and new, and be inspired. It’s different, in my view, from going to a loft space in New York and taking a look around that.

A woman wearing a black and yellow dress standing between two old men

Umberta Beretta with artist duo Gilbert and George

Our very strong commercial galleries include Massimo de Carlo, and kaufmann repetto by Francesca Kaufmann and Chiara Repetto, both in Milan. In my Brescia hometown, Massimo Minini opened Galleria Massimo Minini in 1973.

Read more: An Interview with Maurizio Cattelan

He is a great gallerist and has a long history of friendship with amazing artists, including artists of the Arte Povera of the 1960s. The art scene in Italy is very old, but it is also very new. It’s an exciting time both in Italian art and Italian art philanthropy.

Umberta Gnutti Beretta is a philanthropist who supports work in fields of medicine, women and children’s rights and the arts. Among many roles, she is on the governing council of the Fondazione Brescia Musei and is President of the Restoration Club of the Museo Poldi Pezzoli.

umbertagnuttiberetta.com

This article comes from a section of a wider feature originally published in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 3 min
A black and white picture of a house and a woman lying on a balcony
A black and white picture of a house and a woman lying on a balcony

The architectural intricacies of the Parnham House estate, with an almost hidden Stephanie Bolam. Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Human, natural and built landscapes, ancient and modern, come together in an ethereal photography series by Maryam Eisler in dialogue with poet thomas Paul

When LUX Chief Contributing Editor Maryam Eisler has an idea, beautiful and strange things happen, often in unison. Such was the case at Parnham House, a country estate in Dorset, southwest England, one chilly day this year, when Eisler descended on the ornamental grounds with her co-conspirator, author and producer Cavan Mahony, model Stephanie Bolam and poet thomas Paul.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Eisler has made her name as a photographic artist through her developing takes on the “Sublime Feminine”, the female form seen through the female camera gaze. Bolam offered a new interpretation: she is covered in body art (or, as she calls it, “body armour”), from head to toe, and has never allowed herself to be photographed naked before.

As she says, “I am a walking piece of art. I had to learn to become more powerful and resilient to handle people’s reactions. I chose the responsibility to do this.”

A woman covered in tattoos leaning on a bath with a mirror behind her

Stephanie Bolam, complemented by a Parnham House interior. Photograph by Maryam Eisler

While Eisler and co-creative Mahony created the shots, Paul composed verse. “There were a lot of challenges,” says Eisler, “but Stephanie was a great trooper and faced these head on. The most challenging, of course, was me asking her to take a deep dive into the murky cold waters of the pond at Parnham, which is green and slimy, and not exactly the most welcoming environment. But she did it and the result, in my view, is one of the most beautiful images of the day: painterly, ethereal, Ophelia-like.”

Read more: Artist Ricky Burrows: From the streets to the studio

The creatives played with the forms of space and place and drew focus to the detailed architecture of the Elizabethan house, its grounds and its storied history. “Everything at Parnham House is very intricate and ornate, and that has a dialogue with the patterns on Stephanie’s body,” says Eisler. “This worked so well because Stephanie is someone extremely contemporary, on the now, with the art she is adorned with, and here she is in dialogue with an evocative place of the past – one of the most beautiful houses of the West Country, in fact.”

Or, as the first lines from thomas Paul’s poem, composed on the spot, run:
“Elegance in form, beauties face
To overwhelm, blinding fears and scorn
In images of dreams, in fairytales
I hear your screams, your conversations within”

The exhibition “Ignis Avis Lineae”, by Maryam Eisler and thomas Paul, launched in October 2023 at Cricket Court in Somerset, home of fashion designer Alice Temperley. See maryameisler.com for details

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2023/24 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 2 min
A man with paint on his jeans lying on a purple couch
A man with paint on his jeans lying on a purple couch

Ricky Burrows in a moment of pause © Maryam Eisler

Ricky Burrows, the Brooklyn-based artist originally discovered by Rashid Johnson, speaks to LUX’s Chief Contributing Editor, Maryam Eisler about how he made it from the streets to the studio, now opening a solo show at Harper’s, New York.

Maryam Eisler: How did Mr Ricky Burrows end up in this impressive building, the Brooklyn Army Terminal?

Ricky Burrows: Well, my parents are originally from Brooklyn and I was born here. I moved to Connecticut and I came back to Brooklyn after I got out of detention; I was separated from my Mom because she was on drugs. I started painting seriously in 2014, and I met one of the building owners, Mr Gunn; he came to an open studio. He liked my work and told me he had a studio for me, and that I could paint there and that I wouldn’t have to pay rent. When he said ‘no rent’, I said ‘send me the location’. To this day I don’t pay rent. From the start, he absolutely believed in me. He’s one of my earliest first supporters, for sure.

red and white blocks on the ground by a bridge and industrial building

Scenes from the Brooklyn Army Terminal © Maryam Eisler

ME: Talk to me about this incredible building, and your studio space.

RB: This place (the Brooklyn Army Terminal) keeps me sharp. Everybody’s working here 24/7, and I’m a sponge. As soon as you walk into the parking lot, there are a thousand trucks going past you. As soon as you get into the elevators, five or six people from all different walks of life doing different things are saying hello to you, high fiving you … You’ve got the FBI and the FIT here, movie directors, students, sanitation, dialysis…It’s like a small city… a city within a city, and no one ever sleeps.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

ME: When did you start painting?

RB: Around maybe the age of sixteen.

ME: Was it something you had to do? Something you could not escape from … or, was it an actual escape from reality – your reality?

RB: I would say both. My inspiration came from my neighbourhood and the street. So, painting was actually weird. But I couldn’t help myself. I had to do it. I was drawn to it. I wanted to paint, but I was also influenced by my friends who had nothing to do. So, it was a bit of both. It was like ‘let me avoid it as much as I can, but let me also stick to it as closely as I possibly can …’ if that makes sense?

A man sitting on the floor surrounded by artworks

Burrows sitting on the floor with his works © Maryam Eisler

ME: Yes, it does. You mentioned drugs at some point in your life – which you’re clearly over now. What was the reason? Was pain at the source or was it just what street kids d0?

RB: For me, it was about not wanting to think about the stuff I was dealing with in my life or stuff I was going home to later at night. So the more loaded I was, the better it was for me … it helped me deal with whatever was coming my way when going ‘home’.

A man standing next to a yellow painting

‘Goldfish don’t bounce’ referring to Jimi Hendrix’s song © Maryam Eisler

ME: Which leads me to Jimi Hendrix. Talk to me about ‘When Goldfish don’t bounce’.

RB: Well fish don’t bounce. And, I’m the goldfish.

Paintings of colourful distorted faces

Early career works by Ricky Burrows © Maryam Eisler

ME: You are. But you bounce. You bounced out of the bowl, it appears.

RB: Yes, I did. But I didn’t manage to go too far. That’s the scary part about it. Along my art career, I’m always that close to crashing out. I really don’t know how to talk to people outside of myself. So I’m only just learning how to be more social and to trust the public, because I’ve dealt with a lot of sh*t. It’s been hard. And I’ve only just started to see the light at 30.

Yellow Zebra crossing on a chair

The exterior of the Brooklyn Army Terminal © Maryam Eisler

ME: You win the biggest battle when you start believing in yourself. Are you there?

RB: THAT is the biggest battle right now. The fight with myself, you know. But I would say that maybe I’m doing a good job because it got me this far.

A man wearing a white t shirt and black and green cap

Looking out the studio window © Maryam Eisler

ME: Well, if you’re having a show at Harper’s, in Chelsea, New York in November, I would say you’re definitely over the 50% mark, wouldn’t you agree? More win than lose?

RB: Yes, but what am I supposed to do at night? When there is no art to make or no Harper’s shows? No girls to see? That’s the kind of stuff I try to escape. Because I don’t like being alone.

plastic dolls and books on a desk

Inspirational objects around the studio © Maryam Eisler

ME: Comfort in and with yourself. You need to find that peace, wouldn’t you agree?

RB: I’m trying to. But it’s taking me a long time to get there.

A room with art and paint all of over the floor and chair

In an around the studio © Maryam Eisler

ME: Patience is a virtue! I wanted to talk to you about street. You mention your street life and your street friends; I also see a lot of street style and influence in and around your studio – Supreme, Palace, AWAKE, Nike collaborations with Virgil … powerful brands where art, lifestyle, design and commerce have come together successfully. Are you personally interested in engaging in these types of commercial collaborations down the line?

RB: Yes definitely, yes. That is definitely of interest. As far as I’m concerned, I try to make as much art as possible so that my mind isn’t just limited to creating paintings, you know? I like to extend myself beyond the canvas.

blue and white Nike Air Jordans

Where art meets street, Nike collaboration with ‘Off White’ by Virgil Abloh, part of Ricky’s own personal collection © Maryam Eisler

ME: So it’s not just the esoteric and conceptual side of art which interests you? You actually see the application of the concept to a more utilitarian and more commercial environment ?

RB: Very utilitarian, 100 percent yes.

ME: Is your idea to take your art out to the crowds (with an S) as opposed to just ‘A’ crowd ? Do you want your art to be democratic and for the people, mixing highbrow and lowbrow?

RB: I want my art to be highbrow, but I also want it to be accessible to those on the street, where I came from and to people who are not even of the ‘art world’. Because a lot of people that I have met or who have helped me, couldn’t even tell you who Francis Bacon was to save their lives, you know! I really appreciate them just wanting to be here with me, for me, or just calling me to send me money for no reason other than just believing in me … ‘I know you need some paint, so go buy some paint. I know you need canvas? Here you go, go buy it ‘.

"RB" painted in black on a white canvas

Ricky Burrows’ ‘signature’ © Maryam Eisler

ME: So, all that I see in your studio has just been given to you?

RB: Yes, all of it. So, I feel like I owe the public more than I owe the art world.

A man sitting on a drawing wearing red shoes, yellow socks, a green cap and white t-shirt with jeans

Ricky Burrows sitting on his work in the studio © Maryam Eisler

ME: Some of the greatest artists in America, the likes of Warhol and Basquiat, mixed high brow and low brow. Are you just continuing in that same direction?

RB: I would say that I’m actually really (even more) from the streets, you know… If I lose the studio today, I’m going straight back to the street…I ain’t going to nobody, calling no aunty that can come pick me up in her fancy car. No, no, no, no, no. So lowbrow, lowbrow, lowbrow, lowbrow…

ME: You’re having your first solo show at Harper’s this November. What did you say you were going to do with the money from Harper’s show?

RB: Well with the money from Harper’s show – because I know I’m going to sell out – I’m going to develop and start my own apparel company. I’m of course still learning how to manage my finances so I don’t crash out or run out of money. It’s all so new to me.

A picture of a woman coloured in at the top and left blank on the bottom

Works in progress © Maryam Eisler

ME: Please share with me the story behind your ‘big break‘ moment. From the street to Harper…how did that happen?

RB: I met Harper through Rashid Johnson.

ME: And how did you meet Rashid?

RB: Off the internet. At, like, 5 o’clock in the morning, March 6, 2023. I was here. I didn’t have as much stuff; it was a lot cleaner because I was broke. I had just broken up with this girl… she said either get a job or I’m leaving you. That instagram page which you follow me on (@presidentrickyburrows), well, I just made that, two or three days later. I was like, let me give it a shot, so I reached out to him (Rashid). Two hours later, he had his assistant Alex send me a list of paintings that he said he wanted. People tell me all the time ‘I’ll get this, I’ll get that’ so I kind of blew it off and went to sleep. But when I woke up, I had a message from his Alex: ‘I’ll meet you at your studio at 11 o’clock.’ I was like ‘Whatever man, whatever !’ I reread the message like ten times. I also checked the name ten times. That’s when I realised that this is a real page, Rashid’s page. Then his Alex called me and I was like, oh sh*t, this is really happening.

They actually came to see me and two days later, he brought Harper here. Harper lost his mind when he saw my work. He showed some of my work at Nada; it sold out. And, he’s been my best friend ever since.

A man leaning over a bridge overlooking train tracks in a tunnel

A moment of reflection at the entrance of the Brooklyn Army Terminal where Ricky holds his studio © Maryam Eisler

ME: What is the inspiration behind your upcoming show with Harper?

RB: It’s a unified story. I say ‘unified’ because it includes all the people around me… friends, the streets and the Bible; I think the show will just be a nice introduction to my life.

pain brushes in a jar on a chair

Inspiration around the studio © Maryam Eisler

ME: The Bible?

RB: Yes, because I grew up with the Church. We’re Baptist.

Read more: An Interview with William Kentridge

ME: Do you work a lot with local churches?

RB: No, I work a lot with and in my mind. I haven’t been to the Church since I was fifteen. I don’t have a religion.

A man wearing a white t shirt sitting on an art work on the floor in a studio

Burrows’ work-in-progress of Jesus coming off the cross © Maryam Eisler

ME: So is it the concept and the philosophy of religion that interests you?

RB: Yes, the concept. It’s really about the human stories. I think I only realised this maybe three months ago.

ME: Would you say you are the ‘Chosen One’ ?

RB: Yes, maybe I am!

The Brooklyn Army Terminal‘s (designed by Cass Gilbert) construction was originally approved in 1918, during World War I, and was completed after the conclusion of the war. The terminal was subsequently leased out and used for various purposes, including as a dock, a military prison, and a storage space for drugs and alcohol during the Prohibition. During World War II, the terminal was the United States’ largest military supply base. The site occupies more than 95 acres, on Brooklyn’s western shore.

Ricky Burrows’ show, Saved, will be on display at Harper’s from November 16-December 23

@presidentrickyburrows
@harpersbooks

All photography by Maryam Eisler

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Reading time: 10 min
A blonde woman wearing a black suit sitting in a pink room on a white bench with squiggles coming out of it
A blonde woman wearing a black suit standing next to a chair in the shape of a uterus in a pink, red and white roomFilmmaker and artist Charlotte Colbert’s latest exhibition, “Dreamland Sirens,” is set to take over Fitzrovia Chapel in Pearson Square. The show curated by Simon de Pury, marks UTA Artist Space’s London debut under the leadership of Zuzanna Ciolek

Charlotte Colbert’s artistic endeavours encompass narrative cinematic filmmaking, installations, and sculpture. Her works often delve into themes of fairy tales, dreams, archetypal and unconscious imagery, inviting dialogue with alternative realities.

On the message behind “Dreamland Sirens”, she says: “We are too unsensitised to ‘dream’ in our society; it’s seen as superfluous, frivolous, when in fact there is nothing else. If you stop imagining you don’t build schools, make cakes, you don’t create anything. We live in and around structures and things that were imagined by the people who came before us – our buildings, our clothes etc. It’s really important we actively and collectively visualise a world we want to work towards – a positive way we might interact with AI, with climate change, with each other. There is a power in imagining and what we imagine becomes tomorrow.”

A silver statue of a blue eye

Inspired by Lewis Carroll‘s Alice in Wonderland, the exhibition beckons viewers to explore collective dreams and visualisations. The showcase features several new 4-metre-tall sculptures, from a playful yet unsettling shining eye, positioned atop its own mirrored tears, to a uterus-shaped pink throne referencing the Queen of Hearts. These are accompanied by a unique sound collaboration from film composer Isobel Waller-Bridge, known for her work on Emma (2020) and Munich: The Edge of War (2021). Ethereal sounds will emanate from mermaid-shaped speakers, to be released later on vinyl, while female-identifying dancers in sculptural costumes add a dynamic element. Limited edition artworks will be on sale, with proceeds going to charity.

A blonde woman wearing a black suit sitting in a pink room on a white bench with squiggles coming out of it

Visitors will be met outside by a dreamy pink flag, made in collaboration with ISTANBUL’74, as well as a bright, psychedelic sculpture, encouraging viewers to question their reality and open themselves up to Colbert’s playful dreamworld.

Charlotte Colbert’s Dreamland Siren will be available to view from 11th-21st October at  Fitzrovia Chapel on Pearson Square, London

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The window of a gallery with hanging coloured giant skulls in the room surrounded by pictures
The window of a gallery with hanging coloured giant skulls in the room surrounded by pictures

The exterior of Albion Jeune gallery with installations from I Want to Believe by Esben Weile Kjær

Lucca Hue-Williams has opened Fitzrovia’s newest gallery, Albion Jeune. Here, LUX speaks to the founder and the inaugural exhibitng artist, Esben Weile Kjær about the opening of the gallery and the messaging behind the solo show

LUX: What inspired you to found your own gallery?
Lucca Hue-Williams: Ever since I was little, It has been an abstract dream of mine to work with artists and curators in a meaningful way. I think it has been a question of when, and not how. There have been many influential people in my life who have given me the confidence to take the steps to be where I am now, and I am incredibly grateful to them.

LUX: What were the biggest challenges you faced setting up Albion Jeune?
LHW: I wouldn’t start with drawbacks or challenges, of which of course there are some, but I see Albion Jeuene as an opportunity to work with artists and curators who I believe to be influential and important.

A girl standing in front of a large window wearing a grey striped suit

Lucca Hue-Williams, Founder and Director of Albion Jeune

LUX: Why is Esben Weile Kjær the right artist for your gallery’s first exhibition?
LHW: Esben was the perfect artist to inaugurate the gallery due to the particularly electric performative qualities of his work. Esben also speaks to our generation in a way that makes the audience contemplate what their own construction of selfhood might be. We connected over discourse surrounding notions of the iconic image in media, the civil contract of photography, and themes surrounding liquid surveillance.

After the show closes, the space will be redesigned by an exciting architect. However, this won’t be made public until after Esben’s exhibition. We envisioned a raw and more brutal-appearing space in the first instance, and I don’t want to detract from the show. We will disclose the full programme for 2024 when we announce the architect in a few months time.

Stained glass pictures hung on a wall with a a pink skull on the corner

Esben Weile Kjær Installation view, I Want to Believe at Albion Jeune, London, 2023. Image courtesy the artist and Albion Jeune. Photographed by Todd-White

LUX: You’ve spoken about the gallery’s commitment to a ‘truly global art world’. How does Albion Jeune plan to showcase a truly global perspective?
LHW: In my preparations to launching Albion Jeune, I have worked in Beijing, where I was at UCCA and then in Saudi Arabia, where I supported the curatorial team for Diriyah Biennale Foundation. I look forward to working with artists from many parts of the world, who will present work that showcases many different perspectives and themes.

stained glass pictures hung on a wall in yellow, green, red, orange and blue

Albion Jeune opened in October 2023 and I Want to Believe by Esben Weile Kjær is the gallery’s first show

LUX: If you could choose one artist from any point in history to exhibit at Albion Jeune, who would they be?
LHW: Tehching Hsieh. It would be exciting to persuade him to make a new performance work in addition to the five ‘One Year Performances’.

A stained glass picture of a girl with red hair hanging on to a blue and yellow sun shape

Esben Weile Kjær, Under the Rainbow, 2023

LUX: What are you most looking forward to in Esben Weile Kjær’s upcoming exhibition, ‘I Want to Believe’?
LHW: Esben and I have worked together closely on this show for quite some time. As this is both Albion Jeune’s inaugural exhibition as well as Esben’s debut in London, I am looking forward to seeing how the show is received by it’s audience.

A silver skull hanging from the ceiling beside two stained glass pictures

I Want to Believe is the first of a three part series by Esben Weile Kjær bringing together performance and traditional art

LUX: How would you describe the messaging and themes behind your upcoming exhibition at Albion Jeune?
Esben Weile Kjær: I make art because it’s one of the only places where you remain ambivalent. I never come with one message I always try to come up with a reflection. Through my art I try to understand the world around me. The exhibition shows how I work. You have the echo from previous performances showed as posters/propaganda in stained-glass suggesting to be part of potential architecture. Then you have the big alien skull wrecking balls pointing forward to the performance. The performance is the first act in a three act performance project continuing through 2024. The performance is a love story between humans, aliens and the youngsters wanting to identify as aliens to feel free from biology and gravity.

A person sitting on the floor wearing jeans and a black and white striped hoodie sitting next to a butterfly structure

Artist Esben Weile Kjær

LUX: Your show, “I Want to Believe’, focuses on the relationship between art, identity and commercialisation. Do you think nowadays, technology and social media has made it easier or more difficult to show one’s true identity?
EWK: In many ways easier, yes, but also much more complicated because everything gets so commodified on social media. I’m not sure I know what true identity is but it sounds cool though. I hope the performance will look like fashion kids finding liberation in anything else than what’s real.

Esben Weile Kjær’s solo show will be on at Albion Jeune gallery until 19th November.

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Reading time: 4 min
A man sitting in a wheelchair, wearing red trousers, in a courtyard of a building with plants hanging over the interior balconies
A man sitting in a wheelchair, wearing red trousers, in a courtyard of a building with plants hanging over the interior balconies

Yinka Shonibare at the Guest Artists Space Foundation, Lagos, one of two artist residencies he has established in Nigeria

The Birtish-Nigerian artist and philanthropist is the official artist of, LUX’s partner, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, at this year’s Frieze in London. In just a few short years, the Guest Artists Space Foundation spaces in Nigeria, founded by Yinka Shonibare, have seen art residences that are inspiring transformative creative conversations and programmes between artists, local communities, activists, ecologists and more. Will Fenstermaker reports

It used to be the case that if an artist working in Africa wanted a prestigious residency at which to hone their practice and dedicate uninterrupted time to their work, their best option was to look towards Europe and North America, where many programmes sought to address colonial legacies by strengthening a sense of artistic internationalism. A growing cadre of artists, including Kehinde Wiley and Yinka Shonibare, are now working to expand the opportunities available to African artists by opening residencies directly on the continent, especially focused around emerging art centres including Dakar, Senegal and Lagos, Nigeria.

clothes on the floor next to tapestries hanging on the walls

A view of “The Politics of Fabrics” exhibition by Samuel Nnorom

One such initiative is the Guest Artists Space (G.A.S.) Foundation, a non-profit established by Yinka Shonibare that occupies two sites in Nigeria. Through his programme Guest Projects London, Shonibare has hosted artists in his east London studio since 2006, more recently extending to the digital space, enabling “a laboratory of ideas and a testing ground for new thoughts and actions in which the possibility of failure became an opportunity for artistic growth”, according to its website. Shonibare, who was born in London and raised in Lagos, was nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004 for work that investigated postcolonial Nigerian identity, including whimsically ornate sculptures dressed in “African” textiles and shorn of their heads. In recent years, he considered how to extend his guest programme to offer opportunity, support and space for collaboration to artists within Africa.

A headless mannequin with a dress on it in a courtyard

A view of the inaugural exhibition, curated by Miriam Bettin, at the G.A.S. Farm House

In 2019, the project realised a kind of homecoming when Shonibare first conceived G.A.S., with two spaces in Nigeria completed by 2022. The idea is to develop artist practice and facilitate cultural exchange between the continent and the UK. “I realised a lot of local artists wanted platforms in which they could enhance their work and meet other international artists to exchange ideas,” says Shonibare in a video published by the foundation. “I felt very much that I’d love to contribute to building some of the institutions there.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The Oniru, Lagos residency occupies a building that fuses Yoruba and Brutalist principles around a central courtyard, and was designed by Ghanaian-British architect Elsie Owusu in collaboration with Nigerian architect Nihinlola Shonibare. The residency was made open to more than artists – its first class of 2022 included designers, architects, curators, economists and researchers, all of whom, Shonibare believed, were strengthened by a sense of interdisciplinary community and creative dialogue. “I feel that we’re creating a platform for conversation between local people and our residents,” Shonibare says. “I think you actually get the best out of creatives if you put them with people in other disciplines.”

people sitting in a circle holding as pink ribbon

A moment from performance artist Raymond Pinto’s movement workshop

G.A.S. also opened a rural second space three hours outside the capital near Ijebu Ode. Like the Oniru building, the residency in the Farm House, a sustainable building designed by Papa Omotayo with interior design by Temitayo Shonibare, strives to support a conception of culture beyond the visual arts. Belinda Holden, CEO of G.A.S. and the Yinka Shonibare Foundation, the residency’s sister organisation in London, says, “Ultimately, our mission is about breaking down barriers between cultural differences. It’s about building those bridges across different cultures and different practices, and allowing those conversations to develop into opportunities for the exchange of ideas and knowledge.”

A man wearing black trousers and a white short sleeve shirt with a black top underneath sitting on the floor with a geometric picture beside him

Artist Femi Johnson at work

Yet the residency does embody a certain remit. The pastoral property is on the site of a 54-acre working farm. Corn, cassava, peppers and cashews are all grown on Shonibare’s Ecology Green Farm, established in 2018. This July, the farm welcomed its third set of residents, having previously supported short-term stays for G.A.S. Lagos-based practitioners taking part in the programme. In 2022, as a result of its inaugural open call to artists and researchers living in West Africa, G.A.S. awarded seven funded residencies to individuals based across Nigeria and Benin. Raqs Media Collective was especially motivated by the setting’s ties to the land. At the G.A.S Farm House it established an outpost of the World Weather Network, a project that sees a global network of artists and writers submit “weather reports” in the form of works of art from a “constellation” of weather stations worldwide: In Peru, Luz María Bedoya and Pablo Hare record cloud, fog and associated sounds flowing over Oxapampa; in South Africa, four artists create odes to the Orange River; in Dhaka, in Death Valley, in Svalbard, correspondents from the London Review of Books send dispatches from the extremes of climate change.

A woman wearing a white and blue top painting on the floor with blue paint

Evan Ifekoya at their presentation “Water Is Life, O!”

During her stay at the G.A.S. Farm House, activist and spatial designer Mariam Hava Aslam began pickling foods from the farm, inspiring Apocalypse Pantry, a project that supplies preserves to food-scarce areas of Lagos. Berlin-based curator and researcher Lynhan Balatbat-Helbock invited artists to cook for residents and share their work over dinner.

Read more: An Interview with Maurizio Cattelan

“We’ve had painters, sculptors, writers, poets, architects. We’ve had digital artists, we’ve had archivists, we’ve had dancers, we’ve had sound designers,” continues Holden. And that’s only year one. “Our aim is that next year we’ll really shift our focus onto the farm and encourage agriculturalists who are interested in land, environment and ecological impact.” For the upcoming year, the foundation is looking to support people “who are considering food and ecology, or thinking about the materiality of the work they produce”.

Three people speaking including a woman wearing a black and white dress and a man wearing a striped yellow shirt

Discussing work by Emma Prempeh

From the start, the ambitious residencies have attracted an impressive amount of institutional attention – perhaps most significantly in the form of a recent donation of material from John Picton, Emeritus Professor at the Department of the History of Art and Archaeology at SOAS, University of London, and Sue Picton. Professor Picton, an expert on Yoruba and Edo (Benin) sculpture, spent decades assembling an important archive of West African art and ephemera, including journals, magazines, pamphlets and books covering Sub-Saharan architecture, textiles, sculpture and more, as well as African American and Black British arts. In 2022, Picton gave 1,500 volumes from the collection to G.A.S., a donation that has inspired the foundation to “look at the role of art libraries across Africa and the role they play in developing, educating and supporting the growth of creative and critical thinking and writing,” says Holden. To that end, this year G.A.S. is seeking fellows to be based in Lagos and focus their work around research into Picton’s archives.

A woman with a pony tail looking at a work of art hanging on a string with a man beside her looking at another work on the string wearing a green cap

A view of “The Last Time I Called…” exhibition by Ofem Ubi

In just a few short years, G.A.S. has become a beacon of artistic collaboration, cultural exchange and interdisciplinary dialogue. Shonibare’s vision to provide a platform for everyone has blossomed into a vibrant community that extends beyond visual arts, encompassing designers, architects, agriculturalists and ecologists. With its ambitions to break down traditional barriers that have separated the liberal arts, it has firmly established itself as a catalyst for creative and critical dialogue between two regions that have historically been defined by a very different, and much less egalitarian, form of intellectual and labour exchange.

guestartistsspace.com

Yinka Shonibare at Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge, Frieze London
Fittingly, for an endeavour that grew out of his artistic practice, Yinka Shonibare’s presentation in the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at this year’s Frieze London includes a documentary that showcases the development and aims of Guest Artists Space Foundation. The film supplements a diverse array of visual works, including sculptures, masks, quilts and free-standing sculptures.

frieze.com/tags/frieze-london-2023

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Reading time: 7 min

Jamiu Agboke

A recent exhibition spotlighted some of the most exciting young artists based in Britain. The twist? It happened in Paris. Artists photographed by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

It is no secret that, post Brexit, Paris has been taking giant canvas-sized bites out of London’s position as capital of the European art world. So we loved Galerie Marguo’s playful contribution to the cultural battle, which took place in May and June of this year. The elegant gallery put on a show of British-based artists at its space in the Marais. Those taking part included Jamiu Agboke, Freya Douglas-Morris, Li Hei Di and James Prapaithong, photographed here, and others including recent RCA graduate Georg Wilson. Curated by Henry Relph, the show was entitled “A New Sensation”, in an arch reference to the iconic 1997 show, “Sensation”, at London’s Royal Academy of Arts, which featured the influential collection of Charles Saatchi, and was a major moment in triggering London’s art boom.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX asks: what does it mean to be a London based artist today?

Jamiu Agboke
“I love London deeply and it’s my home, but it doesn’t mean anything to me personally to be an artist in London. That’s just due to the nature of my work and practice. Also, it’s a financial obstacle course for most artists.”

James Prapithong

James Prapaithong
“To be a London based artist today is to see the opportunities that the city can present, but also to accept the struggle that can go hand in hand, without giving up.”

Freya Douglas-Morris

Freya Douglas-Morris
“I was born in London and for the past 20 years I have lived and worked in Hackney. I am surrounded by people who look, listen, feel, make, share. I can access a multitude of creative sources, then retreat to my studio and work in a quiet setting. I need this contrast, to be surrounded by the inspiration and energy of a big city, and to paint in a room that is its antidote, calm and private. London is vast, giving room to the trials and errors of being an artist, but small enough to feel you belong.”

Read more: Visual art and music meet in Shezad Dawood’s latest exhibition

Li Hei Di

Li Hei Di
“I miss the sun. The lack of light makes me search for light in my paintings.”

Find out more: marguo.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 2 min
A man working with wire and plaster
A man working with wire and plaster

Syed Muhammad Zakir working on his exhibition, Maya

Bangladeshi artist Syed Muhammad Zakir’s works typically focus on environmental issues and their impact on the public. His latest exhibition, Maya, which focuses on the fictitious city of Baghreb, is no different. Tien Albert reports

Originally trained a sculptor, Zakir’s art now spans different dimensions and mediums. He has created several pieces using unpredictable protruding pipes, and has also delved into performance art, cracked and bleak paintings, street art, and land art reminiscent of the style of Richard Long.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Zakir’s land art, in particular, tends to focus on men and women’s relationship with nature. Often taking place in public parks, the artist uses easily available materials, such as leaves from the ground or sand from beaches, to draw symmetrical patterns. Examples of this include “White”, a white rectangle painted on a wall separated by a gap, so a banana leaf could successfully grow between the two, and “Art can be anywhere”, a series of symmetrical patterns formed in a park between trees using fallen leaves.

 

A plant growing between two walls with white paint on it

White

Zakir’s performance art is often more political, usually involving a form of contemporary dance, sometimes in highly politicised environments such as public protests.

His latest exhibition at the Bengal Shilpalay gallery blurs the line between traditional show and land art. There is a focus on the readymade, which is juxtaposed with Zakir’s typical scratched, scrawly canvases.

Zakir’s proclivity for easily available materials is obvious: the exhibition uses mundane objects, such as plastic bottles, an overflowing plastic bag, and styrofoam to make a commentary on mankind’s neglect of nature.

Bin bags on the ceiling held up by wooden sticks

Dhop

A tree trunk on the side of steps

Prokrity (Nature)

Plastic items hanging off a cart

Bhangari

The objects are placed on the floor for the viewer to walk past, placing them in ‘Baghreb’, an imagined city, making the exhibition as a whole feel much more interactive. Even within the exhibition space there are frequent clashes between mediums.

Read more: Shimul Saha: An artist of all mediums

Paintings are placed next to readymade items, which are placed next to plants and poems from the artist’s wife, Sanjeeda Shahid, symbolising the over-empowerment of everyday objects

rubble and sand on the floor below a painting of power lines

The City of Baghreb

Maya is available to view at the Bengal Shilpalay until Saturday 2nd September 2023

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

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Reading time: 5 min
A woman wearing a white and blue dress sitting on a blue and white sofa
A woman wearing a white and blue dress sitting on a blue and white sofa

Hilary Weston, at home in Windsor

As co-founder of Windsor, a private residential community along Florida’s Treasure Coast, Hilary Weston is also Creative Director of The Gallery at Windsor. The serial philanthropist and scion of the retail family talks to LUX’s Candice Tucker about contemporary art, community, creatives – and why she pays no attention to the art market

LUX: What do you hope to achieve in art?
Hilary Weston: Art has been part of the fabric of Windsor since the community’s early days [Weston founded Windsor with her husband Galen, who died in 2021]. Over the years, The Gallery at Windsor has developed a reputation for staging exhibitions that present the very best of contemporary art. This latest exhibition by Sir Tony Cragg continues our desire to present the talents of some of the most important contemporary artists of our time.

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LUX: How is the art-collecting community growing in Windsor?
HW: The Gallery at Windsor is at the heart of Windsor’s Cultural Art Programme, which encourages all Windsor members to participate in the arts, whether it be contemporary art in the gallery, performing arts, film or literature. I hope the success of the gallery has contributed to the culture of collecting at Windsor. Many pieces from the gallery’s exhibition series have remained at Windsor in our members’ homes. We are just over a two-hour drive north of Miami – a global capital for contemporary art, and the energy of Miami can be felt in Windsor, especially around Art Basel Miami Beach.

A wooden sculpture and a red sculpture on podiums next to eachother

The Gallery at Windsor was founded in 2002, as an independent art space

LUX: How did you create your art initiative?
HW: We staged our first exhibition in March 2002. It was a photography show called “The Beach”, curated by Bettina von Hase. It explored the relationship between beach and society through the eyes of a range of artists including Jacques-Henri Lartigue, Robert Capa, David Hockney and John Baldessari. Over the years we have shown Christo and Jeanne-Claude, Ed Ruscha, Bruce Weber, Peter Doig, Alex Katz, Per Kirkeby and Christopher Le Brun. In 2011, the gallery began a three-year collaboration with the Whitechapel Gallery to realise exhibitions by Beatriz Milhazes, Gert and Uwe Tobias and Jasper Johns. I was particularly proud of our three-year collaboration with the Royal Academy of Arts, from 2018 to 2020. We showed Grayson Perry, Sir Michael Craig-Martin and the wonderful Rose Wylie. The sight of Grayson in his fabulous outfits electrified the community. He brought his family and they stayed a week. Everyone had such fun getting to know them.

LUX: How involved is your family in Windsor?
HW: While I am the Creative Director of The Gallery at Windsor, it was my daughter Alannah who founded it in 2002. I admire her creativity hugely. When a growing family and business commitments began to take up more of her time, I took over the reins of the gallery. As Principal of Windsor, Alannah is leading the final phase of its development – a 47-acre swath of land adjacent to the country’s first protected wildlife preserve and the banks of the Indian River Lagoon. The North Village will include 40 residences, wellness amenities, a heightened attention to sustainability and an outdoor art programme.

A group of people standing together, one in a bright pink dress and another in bright green

Christopher Le Brun, Grayson Perry, Hilary Weston, Tim Marlow, Philippa Perry and Galen Weston, in front of Grayson Perry’s Comfort Blanket, at The Gallery at Windsor, 2018

LUX: Name five people you think are having the greatest impact on the art world right now.
HW: There are so many wonderful people creating art and leading the art world. Working with two world-renowned art institutions, the RA and Whitechapel Gallery, and art-world leaders such as Sir Christopher Le Brun and Iwona Blazwick has enabled us to welcome incredible artists, some in the earlier stages of their career, such as Ed Ruscha and Beatriz Milhazes, who went on to enjoy amazing success.

LUX: What effect do you think bringing major artists to Windsor has on the community?
HW: We believe culture is a crucial part of the spirit of a community, so it is natural that art and artists have been part of the ethos of Windsor. The gallery extends past our gates to the local Vero Beach community. We open for public docent-led tours two days a week. The tours are complementary and we accept donations for our charitable foundation that supports local arts education. We have strong ties with the area’s arts organisations and hold an ongoing roster of collaborative cultural events with them. We are proud and privileged to be able to introduce an artist of Sir Tony’s calibre to our membership and the community at large.

A sculpture beside red paintings

Part of Windsor’s fine arts programming has included collaborations with organisations such as the Whitechapel Gallery and the Royal Academy of Arts in London

LUX: Which new artists do you admire now?
HW: There will always be brilliant artists at any age who are under-recognised and then something just happens. The gallery here is known for showing some of the art world’s greats, but we aim to celebrate artists at whatever point of their careers. In the past few years, I have become acquainted with a young Irish abstract painter named Jack Coulter. His layered works are inspired by music. I visited his exhibition at Sotheby’s this past fall and a piece inspired by an album by the Anglo-Irish punk band The Pogues caught my eye. I think Jack is someone to watch.

LUX: The art-market peak has been called many times over the past ten years. Will it peak?
HW: I don’t follow the art market too closely. Markets go up and go down. I believe art is important to our lives and the market will do what it does.

LUX: What differences have you noticed in the new generation of collectors?
HW: My feeling is they are open to a more diverse range of practices. There are some interesting things being done in digital and performance art. It’s an area we’d like to explore more.

A beige statue on grass with palm trees around it

Views from The Gallery at Windsor’s major 2023 exhibition, “Tony Cragg: Sculptures and Works on Paper”

LUX: What’s next for art at Windsor?
HW: As a new generation joins the community, my hope is that art continues to be an important part of life at Windsor. We have many members who found Windsor through its art programme. With our planned outdoor art island, it is exciting to wonder what is in store for the future here.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf: The best art shows this season

LUX: Where will the next US art hot spot be?
HW: Toronto is not in the US, but it is one base of the Weston family, and I’m proud and impressed by its metropolitan and welcoming outlook. With the success of the Toronto International Film Festival and new art fairs, it is an art hot spot that should not be overlooked.

LUX: What would you change in the art world?
HW: Wouldn’t it be wonderful for the focus of discussions to return to art and artists, rather than market and prices?

Find out more: windsorflorida.com

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 6 min
Two giant men walking with a man in between
A man standing in a white shirt with his hands in his pockets in front of pieces of art on a wall
William Kentridge is one of the great artists to span the last century and this one. Recently the subject of solo retrospectives at the Royal Academy of Art in London and The Broad in LA, the South African maestro sits down with LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai to discuss extremism, absurdity and politics in art

Sitting with William Kentridge ahead of our interview, as an assistant takes our order for coffee and biscuits, I can’t help playing a little game with myself. What, I wonder, would I think the great artist did for a living, if I didn’t know already?

We are backstage at the Barbican Centre, London, in the staff canteen, a windowless space that is empty for the moment as it is mid-morning. We have seated ourselves at a small square table in a corner, beneath a couple of framed newspaper cuttings of theatre reviews. Kentridge is wearing a white collared shirt and navy round-neck sweater – as, coincidentally, am I. Well built, with plenty of white-grey hair, slightly tousled and prominent white eyebrows, distinguished and just a tad authoritarian in his demeanour, he gives the vibe of being a professional.

A painting of a tree with a sculpture in front of it

Maybe he is a lawyer, like his parents, two of the most celebrated human-rights lawyers in his native South Africa? His father, Sir Sydney Kentridge, represented Nelson Mandela at the Rivonia trial of 1964, at the height of the apartheid system, which saw the ANC leader jailed for 27 years for campaigning for racial equality. Sydney, now 100, only retired in 2013 at the age of 90. William’s mother, Felicia, who died in 2015, founded South Africa’s Legal Resources Centre, which gave legal aid to those being prosecuted by the apartheid state.

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But no; William Kentridge looks like a doctor. That’s it. I feel like I’m sitting with a veteran family doctor, a GP who has seen years of woes and is used to answering the same questions over and over. There’s his dryness, the sense that his mind has experienced the best and worst of humanity, his ability to anticipate a question and have an answer ready, delivered in a highly articulate, slightly deadpan way.

A man speaking to a man in a costume with a giant head

My silly thought exercise is no more than that. Artists come in types as varied as humanity itself. And I already know that Kentridge comes from a highly learned, cultured family of Jewish humanist professionals. But still, it does connect with something else: the breadth of knowledge, reading and intellect that is packed into Kentridge’s works.

In many ways, this old white heterosexual male (by current societal definitions), with a specialism in charcoal drawings, is an unlikely global artist of the moment. His show was the centrepiece of the Royal Academy of Arts in London last autumn, and he had a similar solo show at the equally prestigious The Broad in Los Angeles after that. Much of the political and societal challenges he explores are from the last century: apartheid, the Soviet Union. Kentridge himself is 68 this year.

A man standing next to a man in a costume wearing giant trousers

And yet his works, which range from charcoals to animations, vast tapestries to sculptures, theatre shows to his poster-like rubrics, have never had more relevance in a world where the absurd is becoming integrated into the cultural norm, and where the Enlightenment liberal humanism he displays is being sidelined by winds of unreason.

Coffee delivered and biscuits to hand (which are being nibbled at by Kentridge), I ask him exactly what type of artist he is. He is famous for his charcoal drawings, but he also creates stop-motion videos, animations, tapestries, opera and theatre productions, operatic films, operatic historic films… we are meeting at the Barbican because he is directing a series of short diverse performances here, developed by artists at his The Centre for the Less Good Idea in Johannesburg, which would, I tell him, for the uninformed viewer seem like quite a different art form to drawings. How would he explain what he does, in a nutshell, say to an ancestor from 100 years ago?

Two giant men walking with a man in between

“I would say I make drawings, which would be familiar from 100 years ago. Sometimes those drawings are set in motion as animated film, so, if we’re in the 1890s they might have recognised that. Sometimes those projected images are used as backgrounds for theatre performances, which they would have known from 18th-century theatre-projection techniques. And so sometimes they shift between drawing and animation and theatre production and sculpture. But they all start off as drawing. Drawing is the heart of it. Even if it’s working with an actor onstage, the logic is that of making a drawing.”

There is a precision in his answer, almost jarring with its immediacy. He gives thoughtful answers but doesn’t seem to take time to think – a sign of a sharp mind.

A man standing between two men with giant costume heads and the man is whispering to one of them

Walk around one of Kentridge’s grand retrospectives, like the one at the RA, or the simultaneous selling show, “Oh To Believe in Another World”, around the corner at Goodman Gallery in Mayfair, and you immediately notice how prominent the themes of politics and society are in his works. At the RA, a 1997 animation playing on a loop, Ubu Tells the Truth, referred to the horrors of apartheid South Africa, including state-sponsored murders. In Goodman Gallery, we saw glimpses of the brutality of Soviet communism in his latest film (of the same name as the exhibition) and other works.

And yet there is a feeling that Kentridge, while amplifying these extremes of negative humanity, is not ideological himself, not campaigning for some political end. “No, it’s not ideological,” he agrees, referring to “Oh To Believe in Another World”. “What it is, is saying, ‘Here are the paradoxes’; that something that started with such optimism descended into such instrumental brutality. And so it sets the question of how does one find emancipation? We understand that it’s not okay for the inequalities in the world to exist, but that some of the huge-scale plans to change that have really not worked.

A drawing of a man

Illustration by Jonathan Newhouse

“That’s the paradox it sets itself in. More specifically, how did Shostakovich navigate his way through the Soviet Union? How did an artist do it? It’s a mixture between making a space for anarchic stupidity and learning from what you do, rather than telling the world what it has to do.”

Speaking with Kentridge, you soon realise that every answer gives rise to another question, which is perhaps an allegory for artistic inspiration. I ask, for example, whether he is commenting on events in these works.

a yellow file note which says The Dead Report For Duty in large blue font

William Kentridge created the artwork The Dead Report For Duty, for this issue of LUX

“I don’t see it as a commentary,” he says, “because in a commentary you need a sense of what your comment is at the beginning. At the end we discover what it is we have made. For me, the most interesting artworks are the ones that end with a riddle. You know a riddle is the edge of knowing a meaning and you can’t quite put your finger on the right word, exactly what it is, and then you become complicit in trying to construct what it is, to fill the gaps, to leap over the gaps, and that’s the place where we are. One of the phrases that comes up is, ‘There is no good solution’. There are less bad ones, though.”

So am I correct to see a kind of dark, absurdist wit in these works, despite, or perhaps because of their subject matter: apartheid, communism in the Soviet Union and the Cultural Revolution in communist China?

A man dancing next to a man in a costume wearing giant trousers

“Well, there’s certainly an absurdism,” he says, and then qualifies it. “In England, the absurd often just means the silly or funny. I mention the absurd as a logic that has gone astray, and then following that bad logic with complete clarity and assiduity. And if you think of what apartheid was in South Africa, it was absurd. We decide who you are by whether a pencil will stick in your hair or not, and that will determine your future. So there’s an absurdity in that, but it gets followed through with all the violence of the state behind it. It would be impossible to describe what happened in South Africa without invoking the category of the absurd, so I find it a very central way of thinking. It’s also about giving an image the benefit of the doubt – doing it and seeing what happens. And that would be like in psychoanalysis, where you use free association on the basis that something may well come out, even if you don’t know what it is in advance.”

A man holding a trinket over a table

I mention, as context, that I feel I can understand his works a little because I studied Soviet history, and worked in post-apartheid South Africa as a foreign correspondent. Do people viewing his works need this kind of knowledge?

“Hmm,” he ponders briefly. “It’s like in one of the films at the RA, where there’s an image of headphone speakers put on a pig’s head, and then the pig’s head is exploded. If you’re from South Africa, then you’ll know that was actually an experiment done by the security police to check boobytrapped headphones – they put them on a pig’s head and blew the head up. If you don’t know that story, it’s nonetheless an image of extreme violence, dichotomies and the vulgarity of putting Walkman headphones on a pig and then blowing it up.

A man fixing a giant head on a costume and another person in a costume watching him

“I think people are very good at creating or either understanding or constructing a context – which may not be that accurate, but nonetheless fulfils us. So I don’t believe that you have to understand all the context. But it helps to understand what apartheid was, to understand there was a cultural revolution in China.”

I wonder what he thinks of the current cultural battles and universalisation of identity in the Global North. Identity was, after all, the basis of apartheid, its justification for an institutionalised racial categorisation that put white people at the top, black people at the bottom, and so-labelled “coloureds” and “Indians” somewhere in the middle – although, effectively, near the bottom. I mention that when I worked as a foreign correspondent in the 1990s, the only times I had been required to state exactly what race I was on a form, were in apartheid South Africa and left-wing councils in the UK.

A man holding an instrument and two people in costumes holding giant heads watching him

Do these conversations come into play in his works? His answer is, typically, a deep one that slides into a riddle before it quite gets to its point. “Not directly, but I think they do come into it. I mean, there’s a polemic against an identity politics in the world, both in the way I work with different people and in the way that if you say, like in South Africa, we had all those years of apartheid, of identity politics, black people must live here physically, this is the type of music they can listen to, white people can listen to classical music, black people must listen to jazz.

“Part of the struggle against apartheid is saying, ‘No, a black person can listen to opera, can be an opera singer.’ So there is a polemic in that. There’s a polemic in saying, ‘Why do you do it – art that is connected to politics, without it having a political message?’ It says it clearly: politics is much less clear cut, much more paradoxical, ambiguous. Much less certain.”

We turn briefly to the politics of South Africa, where the institutionalised brutality of the apartheid era briefly gave way to hope when Nelson Mandela became President in 1994, and has now degenerated into corruption and mismanagement. Is he pessimistic?

A man standing on some steps looking down

“I always feel that in South Africa to be an optimist or a pessimist is wrong, because there were two futures unfolding, an optimistic one and a pessimistic one, but the difficult future feels harder to escape. I made a film called In Defence of Optimism, which is about life in the studio: what is the optimism in here, in making something, in not leaving the paper blank, in resisting entropy? And that became a strong action rather than a theme. Downtown in Johannesburg, shockingly, they have seven hours a day without electricity, sometimes two days at a time with no water. So it means that the well-off have a generator, they have a 4 x 4 vehicle that can go over the potholes in the road, but if you’re anyone else your life is really, really difficult and messed up.”

But he is loyal. He is still there. “I am still there. And two of our three children are there. But so many of the collaborators, musicians, actors, are still there – that’s a strong pull. I would feel quite dislocated, I think, if I moved. In a way, I stay in South Africa because I don’t have to. Also, it is depressing when things are falling apart, but it’s a very interesting place to be. It would be interesting to see, when you see the whole series of performances, whether it’s, ‘Oh, my God, I’m just going to go home and slit my throat’, or whether it actually gives energy.”

two men having coffee at a wooden table

Is he disappointed in the ANC – once banned under apartheid but which has governed South Africa since 1994, and has, post-Mandela, proved such a poor governor? “Yes, I think we really messed up badly in the years of the Zuma presidency [2009-18]. And it’s difficult to get out of it – our new president hasn’t done much better.”

I say that I remember Cyril Ramaphosa, whose current presidency has been marked by corruption and mismanagement scandals, when he was an ANC negotiator in the optimistic years of the 1990s: he seemed like a perfect future president – wise, thoughtful, considered. “He was, and everyone kept giving him the benefit of the doubt, saying, ‘It just takes time, it just takes time’, but now it’s been many years.”

Read more: Christopher Cowdray on the Dorchester London’s Latest Renovation

Kentridge doesn’t give much away, but you cannot create monumental, moving works like his (and the occasional funny ones) without a big emotional burden. I ask, is drawing therapeutic?

“Drawing is completely therapeutic,” he says. “However bad I’m feeling, after two hours in the studio just quietly drawing, everything seems manageable.”

At that point, the powerful intellectual sitting next to me sounds, briefly, like any vulnerable, creative artist.

Portraiture and exhibition photography by Maryam Eisler

Find out more: kentridge.studio

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 12 min
golden wine cups
golden wine cups

Couple of Sip, 2014

Bangladeshi contemporary artist Shimul Saha experiments with a broad range of unique mediums. Here, Charlie Sokol explores how Saha shows concepts of health, political and societal issues in his works

Shimul Saha’s works and techniques are constantly inspired by changes in the world around him. From using light and shadows to engravings and using ancient sewing methods, the mediums he uses correlate to the messages he portrays through his works.

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In Couple Of Sip, the artist uses light and shadow to project a mesh of male and female symbols to expose and question the inequality between men and women.

white patterns

Which Face Wants To take I & II, 2022

His conceptual forms also highlight cultural changes. A recent work which merges architectural structures, Which Face Wants To Take – I & II, represents the interlinking of culture from the Mughal Empire, Britain and East Pakistan, all of which are closely tied to Bangladesh’s history. Saha was able to do this through the use of a centuries-old stitching technique, originating in the eastern Indian states of West Bengal and Orissa, to create a kantha (patchwork cloths made from rags).

A drawing of a pink and white flower

Awe and Dread, 2014

Awe and Dread is a series of etchings in response to the artist’s time spent in Remakree, in the Bandarban hill district in Bangladesh, in 2014. Saha sought to understand a group of indigenous people called the Marma. The intricate prints are intended to tell stories from their daily lives and their connection to Buddhism.

“The medium is based on the concept. To develop my creative process I do select my art material according to my work’s notion because every material has its own identity and character to express something. Sometimes the material speaks on my behalf. I love to explore new mediums, because I do believe, that if creation is unique and updated then why not try new mediums for each creation,” explains Saha.

lungs made out of strawberries

Organic to Organ – V, 2022

Organic to Organ – V serves as an exploration of the various methods employed in modern food cultivation. Saha prompts us to contemplate the methods by which we obtain our nourishment. Emphasising the importance of organicity in sustaining and safeguarding life, the work highlights the adverse effects of synthetic pesticides and toxins, which ultimately jeopardise our most vital organs.

 

A finger print with numbers on it

Self Portrait, 2016

Identity is a key feature in Saha’s works. He recognises the modern era of identification for individuals in the form of biometric scans and numbers. Self Portrait explores this idea, as a series of numbers is presented on top of the image of a fingerprint. Saha remarks that “wherever I am, I am a number”.

Read more: Rafiqun Nabi: Exploring Bangladeshi society through art

Saha’s work will be displayed at Kunsthaus, Zurich as part of a show by the Britto Arts Trust from September 2023 

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

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Reading time: 2 min
A group of men and women standing together for a photograph
A group of men and women standing together for a photograph

Dia Anitska, Daniela de Jesus Cosio, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Ali Jassim, Jak Bueno and guest

A glamorous art-fashion crowd gathered in Berkeley Square, London, for a preview of Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s “Age of Energy” solo show. The selling exhibition from the French-Iranian artist was curated by Kamiar Maleki, and supported by German gallerist Samandar Setareh and LUX

A blonde woman in a pink dress standing next to a man a black suit and tie with a white shirt

Natalie and Zafar Rushdie

a man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers standing between two men in dark suits

Darius Sanai, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Kamiar Maleki

A man wearing a yellow and black striped coord standing next to a woman wearing a black hat, jacket and jeans with a grey striped top

Nettie Wakefield and Owen McGinnity

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A woman wearing a floral skirt standing next to a man wearing a purple jumper and orange trainers next a woman and man wearing brown and pink clothes

Cheyenne Westphal, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Katy Wickremesinghe and Stephen Webster

Two women posing for a photo holding a dog

Sabine Roemer and Bettina Bahlsen

a man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers standing next to a man wearing a green hoodie and brown and on the side a man in a black jacket and jeans and white top

Dumi Oburota, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Dias Feld

Two men and women standing together wearing blue and grey outfits

Kobi Prempeh and Pippa Bennett-Warner

A woman wearing a red suit holding a wine glass

Camilla Rutherford

A man and woman wearing black outfits

Leila Maleki and Sadegh Dolatshahi

A man in a black suit standing next to a man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers standing next to a man wearing a beaded dress and head cover

Daniel Lismore, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Kamiar Maleki

A man in a brown jacket standing next to a women wearing a silk pink and black dress

Amber Le Bon and Stephen Webster

A woman in a black and white suit standing between a man in an all black suit and another man wearing a purple tie dye jumper, blue jeans and orange trainers

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar with Fatima and Kamiar Maleki

This article was first published in the Spring/Summer 2023 issue of LUX

SASSAN TO PROVIDE TWO MORE LINES OF INFORMATION ABOUT LAUNCH IN MONACO 29 JUNE HERE

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Reading time: 8 min
Dark red splattered paint on a canvas

Iris Study No.7 18 x 26cm Oil on Canvas

Artist, W.K. Lyhne speaks to Maryam Eisler about her latest body of work, Stabat Mater, where she explores  the treatment of the female body throughout history

ME: Can you talk to me about how the concept of post-humanity has informed your latest project?
W.K. Lyhne: As you know, Humanism as a concept emerged at the time of the Enlightment, that Man was at the centre, instead of religion. Man was the measure of all things and this was exemplified in Da Vinci’s image of the Vitruvian Man. But the concept of Man excluded more than it included. It was defined by what it is not. It was not, the racialised or sexualised ‘other’, it was not people of colour, people of sexual difference, Jews, children, animals, the disabled, women. There are two examples at the time, often cited, that show this so well. The French writer, Olympe de Gouges, part of the French Revolution who responded to the Revolution’s Declaration of Human Rights of 1789, by writing the Declaration of Women’s Rights in response. The regime guillotined her almost immediately. Another example is from a biography that I’m reading at the moment of a man called Toussaint Louverture, known as the Black Spartacus. He was involved in the overthrow of slavery in Haiti at the same time as the French Revolution. He was imprisoned by Napoleon and died in captivity. We are all equal, but some more than others.

W.K. Lyhne photographed by Maryam Eisler in her studio

When you came to my studio we spoke about Mary, who is given to women as a pedagogue of what women should be: this passive, two-dimensional, non-complaining, virtually mute figure. Mary speaks four times in the Bible.

Marina Warner, says Mary is ‘alone of all her sex’ and this is accurate. She’s not male and she’s not really female. She never processes through the normal animal functions of women. She doesn’t have sex, she doesn’t menstruate, she doesn’t age, she doesn’t perspire, she simply doesn’t change – exactly the same static figure all her life, biddable and mute. Yet she remains the ultimate woman and mother.

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Alongside this I’m looking at animals in art that are supposed to represent ‘us’ – our mortal selves. But what is this humanity the ‘us’ that they are trying to represent? Often they are done through the agency of the Church. Like the Flayed Ox , meaning Christ, done by many artists, Soutine, Bacon, Rembrandt, Saville, and the Lamb of God, also Christ, Van Eyck and Zubaran. For this I’ve been looking at actual sheep, the lamb, through this lens. In my recent work is connecting the anachronized figure of Mary with the anachronized image of the lamb.

A painting of a naked woman lying down

Once Upon a Time (Met Him Pike Hoses)

In the case of Mary, it’s a patriarchal story designed to oppress. The cult of Marianism is very much admired in countries where docility, passivity, and service to your man, whether that’s your priest as a nun, or your husband or your father, are admired. In many Catholic countries, these are espoused as ideal characteristics for women.

a painting of a woman lying down naked with her breast on show

Once Upon a Time (Met Him Pike Hoses) detail

In the case of the lamb, I’ve noticed when you look into a field of sheep they are not just sheep, they are a field of ewes. Of mothers. Have you’ve seen a ewe with its fluff removed? Sheared they are very mortal looking. Matronly, exposed and not at all like the furry shorthand of sheep at all.

A woman standing by a chimney in a dirty white jacket with art works around her

Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: Talk to me about religion.
WKL: I’m not religious. I used to believe in God, I think I used to believe the whole religious story. I don’t anymore. I did believe there was a maker at some level. But last year in Greece on a residency at the British School, I looked closer at other stories from earlier cultures. Isis, Osiris, Cronus and Rea, Baucis and Philemon etc. All the stories are so similar to our own bible stories. Ours, like theirs, are just a version.

What interests me in the image of the animal in the Lamb of God, is that it has not changed since Roman times. It hides in plain sight. It’s on menus, it’s on football shirts, it’s everywhere, but nowhere. It’s part of our visual vocabulary, but what about the animal behind it? The image moves from livestock to Church pin up, like Mary, a girl of Galilee to the Queen of Heaven. What is the meaning behind it? In the case of Mary, it’s a patriarchal story designed to oppress women. I fail to see how anybody could not be interested in religion, in the sense that these things inhabit our collective and national consciousness. They’re all there, where you’re aware of it or not, they never go away.

A painting of a mythological creature

Stabat Mater 111 (John Moores) 120 x 160cm Oil on Canvas

ME: It’s very inspiring and you could aspire to it, but then the underlying factors are something different.
WKL: Yes, it’s exactly so. And it’s very seductive. Religious imagery and sacred music accompany you at some level from birth to death. They are very comforting and at ceremonies they offer the element of sobriety. The music particularly is incredibly beautiful and it has such credibility. People want to believe in something.

ME: I think there’s that: fright and hope. I always say religion, gives you hope, and it also frightens you from doing something that’s not right in case you get punished. I suppose it keeps you in the straight line.
WKL: Agree. It gives you a place to occupy, certainly. Rituals to navigate the unrelenting chaos that is life. I’m looking currently at Aby Warburg, the German art historian, who created this idea he called pathosformel . This he intended to mean the emotionally charged visual trope that recur throughout images in Western Europe. The idea is that certain images have a shorthand to connect with feelings, a visual mnemonic if you like. I am trying to see if it’s possible to find a new pathosformel , that represents some of those things that are excluded from the definition of humanity. This is not men-bashing or even only feminist – I looking for something more complex, something more nuanced, I guess.

Photography of W.K. Lyhne’s studio, in the home of one of her collectors, by Maryam Eisler

The Age of Enlightenment Man has the poster boy of the Vitruvian Man. Vitruvius – the heteronormative, able-bodied, ethnocentric, handsome, young, powerful man – who stands outstretched, in his symmetrical nakedness. This image of what “human” is, has now left the bounds of this earth. It is sewn onto the uniforms of NASA‘s astronauts and it flies on the flag on the moon.

ME: It’s interesting that they’ve chosen that to put on the moon. Who have they put that for? It’s a representation of mankind but not humankind.
WKL: Yes, very much so. We need images that are more enabling, more complex. The pandemic showed us more than anything else, we’re all in this together. But we’re not the same. There are people without sanitation, girls without education, people without rights. The voiceless, the unheard. I’m very interested in this idea of voice and the scream that can be seen but can’t be heard. That is some of what the triptych at the Zabludowicz Collection are about. These and other one, in the John Moores Painting Prize shortlist, are also connected with the unrecognisability of relationships within the maternal framework . How despite a child being from your body, the relationship never settles, can be often disjointed, always in flux. But as always it’s also about the possibilities and suggestibilities that paint can offer.

Three paintings next to each other

The triptych on display at the Zabludowicz Collection

ME: Are you showing whole triptych at the Zabludowicz Collection?
WKL: Yes, until 25th June.

ME: Talk to me about that wonderful image of Jesus. The long one and your versions.
WKL: That is a painting by Hans Holbein the Younger, done in 1521 and its hangs in the Kunst Museum in Basel. Last year, it was 500 years since it was done. Holbein represented an incredible departure from what had gone before – he’s a very fine painter. Some people believe it was a predella, the section at the bottom of an altarpiece and that’s why it’s long and thin – one foot by six feet, thirty by one hundred and eighty centimetres. I just prefer to think that Holbein decided to make this incredibly controlled environment using a long piece of wood for a painting surface – an enclosure, where this piece of corporeality was going to exist and that corporeality was the corpus of Christ. The Christ you’ve killed. The dead man. The squashed man. The emaciated man. The human man. There was a lot being written about the fact that he was just like any man and not sacred enough. I don’t know if you’ve seen the Donatello exhibition in the Bargello. It’s now on at the Victoria and Albert Museum, but I saw it in Florence last year, and there’s a great fuss at the time at Donatello’s wooden Christ didn’t look ‘Christ-like’ enough. He was too ordinary. Brunelleschi said, like a tradesman and not holy enough. And there were similar concerns over the Holbein Christ; he got a corpse and worked from that – all too human.

A woman standing behind a painting

Photo by Maryam Eisler

I became very interested fabric during the pandemic – I did this program to support a project of the charity Action Aid, they supply sanitary products to vast parts of the world, particularly Africa. One of their projects addresses period poverty. Half the population of the world menstruate, that’s how we procreate the species, but for too many, it’s considered problematic, disgusting, full of shame, stigma.

During lockdown, when we were all kind of sent home and we didn’t know what to do with ourselves in our domestic environments. The fabric of what surrounded you took on a new importance. Fabrics are concealing, revealing, inside the body, outside the body, covering up for it, it’s quite a female concern. I started to paint these fabrics, ordinary everyday fabrics of the home, worn thin by wear and touch, on cotton rag paper, also blobby and worn. The paper made in India by a programme called Khadi. These start with ragpickers – women generally – who take the discarded fabric and bleach them with peroxide to make paper from them. The oil leaked out of my paint onto the cotton paper, all speaking to the materiality of the project and subject matter. The idea, called On Rag (an old-fashioned British term for having a period) was circular: I painted them on this cotton rag paper made by women and sold them and the money went to buy paper products for women in.

A painting of a woman and clothes on a bed

She Banks Down Fire (after Hans Holbein the Younger)

That was the project I was working on when I decided to paint a version of the Holbein. Working away from a studio meant working in the bedroom. In London I sleep in a box bed. What is shown in She Banks Down Fire is my own box bed, underwear, used tissues, discarded knickers, damp towels. Holbein’s Christ has a dark blood caked on a wound made by a spear, mine the more humdrum monthly sanguine staining. The ridged hollowness of Christ’s ribcage, are the spines of underwire, the stiff black hair, is see-thru nylon.

Simone De Beauvoir says that women are made from Adam’s supernumerary bone, that humanity is male and man defines woman not in herself but as relative to him. He is the Subject , here like Christ, she is the Other. Jonathan Jones, the journalist from The Guardian, wrote about Holbein’s Christ that there is nothing Christlike about this body, nothing to set it apart. It is anyone’s corpse. But as you know, this is world in which the women all live, all women, every month, every child is a reminder of the mortal, bloody, messy, fleshy real.

Then I did a second version one with a female figure. It’s called Once Upon a Time: Met HimPike Hoses. The female figure is naked, incredibly skinny, very, very narrow – the way women are supposed to be and not take up much space. Unusually for me, I’ve painted the model very elaborately and hyper-realistically. In that particular picture she’s lying on this very girly kind of 1960s see-through negligée, recalling the heritage of porn star bedroom glamour, that women are heir to.

The title is two fold, the first being the princess in a box, awaiting a man’s kiss so she can flourish – here pushing her toes against the glass ceiling.

A painting of a person in a white dress

Stabat Mater 1 Oil 120 x 160cm on Canvas

The second is referring to the word ’metempsychosis’ the supposed transmigration at death of the soul of a human being or animal into a new body, which the character of Molly uses incorrectly (met him pike hoses) in James Joyces’ Ulysees. I used in the title here, because, not only is Molly a variation of Marian/Mary a.k.a Virgin Mary, but because the same narrative is given to girls since Mary and over centuries, reincarnated over and over – await your prince, don’t take up too much space, don’t leak, sweat or bleed visibly or have body hair, or opinions.

ME: What are your next projects or next areas of exploration?
WKL: A film project. LambEnt. I’m looking at the relationship between ewe and lamb and the sounds they make at a particular moment, again unnoticed and unrecorded, and reworking this as a feminist Stabat Mater.

A painting of a two men, one in an army uniform and one naked

Band of Brothers 18 x 24cm on Canvas

I don’t know if you know much about Catholic music, but there are various parts to a cathedral sung mass, one of which is the Agnus Dei, Lamb of God. Another part of Catholic musical liturgy is a song for Mary called Stabat Mater. In Latin this means ‘standing mother’. That’s what mothers do. They stand and they take it. Stabat Mater is Mary weeping at the foot of the cross, the only occasion where she is vocal. Mary’s relationship with her child is the only intimate experience in her life, like the ewe.

A painting of people sitting by a tree

Stick or Twist 60 x 80cm Oil on Board

For the film and music piece I’m making, I am working with actual sheep sound, farmers, animal neuroscientists, with zoomorphic and sacred composers and singers making piece of music to go between the Angus Dei and the Stabat Mater, called LambEnt. It is designed to interrupt the visual and musical canon. It is this voice of nature that is not noticed, not heard, that is the same voice of many that is not heard, particularly currently in Iran but across the world. A global noise. The unheard of all those excluded from the definition of Man is now added to our human species exceptionalism domination of the earth. It is this that has wrought global devastation.

Read more: An Interview with William Kentridge

It’s very exciting and very different for me, doing a collaborative project, because normally I can control what I’m working on. It will be a very short film but if we get it right it will hopefully be very beautiful and powerful and show what art can do. Make the hidden explicit, find the universal in the particular.

A mythological creature holding an animal's leg

Stabat Mater IV 125 x 165cm Oil on Canvas

ME: Can you tell me about your porcelain project?
WKL: Absolutely. Historically, those delicate porcelain figurines made by all the famous European companies, Meissen, Sevres and others, were brought out at the dessert course at grand dinner parties. They were designed to show how wealthy you were but also to be diverting and fun, play objects for the rich and jaded.

I’m so interested in these silly scenes that are depicted, at a time when there was such inequality, war, famine and violence. The shepherdesses and card players and cheeky smiling maids and soldiers in these porcelain groups, were existing at a time of rape, poverty, war, violence where even wealthy and well brought up women could be ‘beaten and flung about the room’ by her family, according to Virginia Woolf, for not agreeing to marry the man chosen for her. This one is called Band of Brothers. Rape has always been an instrument of war, but it also occurred casually and often, leaving occupied countries riddled with venereal disease and women who died in shame for being made pregnant. Many terrible things happened to women during wartime.

It’s an ongoing project, it never quite leaves me. I love the fact that you have to look twice to understand what is going on. The paintings are very small and I don’t normally work that size. They are oil sketches really. Again, it’s about collision to create new meanings. Of course, it’s wonderful to paint well and I get very ambitious for these porcelains to look lusciously real, but what they mean matter too. To me, only art can do this. Life’s too short not to care.

W.K. Lyhne’s works are on display at the Zabludowicz Collection in London until 25th June 2023

She is giving a lecture on her work at University of the Arts Inaugural Research Conference on 23rd June  2023, at Granary Square London.

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Reading time: 15 min
A woman wearing a blue jumper with her arms folded standing in front of colourful paintings
A woman wearing a blue jumper with her arms folded standing in front of colourful paintingsBernadine Bröcker Wieder is the CEO of Arcual, a blockchain software created by an art focused ecosystem for the art world. Here Wieder speaks to LUX’s Leader and Philanthropist Editor, Samantha Welsh, about buying and selling art on the blockchain and the effect it will have on the next generation of art collectors

LUX: How has your experience as an artist and art historian shaped your values?
Bernadine Bröcker Wieder: I am always thinking about the future and often thinking with artists in mind, as I originally trained as a classical artist, before managing an Impressionist and Modern gallery in London. I love exceptions to the rules and creativity. When you are building technology but thinking about how it might be used in the future, the tech has to be capable of being customised, upgraded and scalable. You cannot employ a one size fits all approach to anything in life yet technology is about binaries.

Given my background working with museums with my first venture, Vastari, I learned about ethics. Museums built international standards throughout the world to attempt to uphold a neutrality to preserve our culture and knowledge. This is so difficult to do, and there has been heated debate about what ethical behaviour looks like this century, taking into account our evolving thinking around sustainability and inclusion.

Additionally, I believe in the importance of giving back. I am excited to see how Arcual develops its next features with museums and other non-profit organisations in mind. For example, can we facilitate resale royalties receivable for those non-profit institutions that commission artworks from artists so as to help ongoing funding of those institutions?

colourful vases on a shelf in the middle of a room

Athene Galiciadis, Empty Sculptures, 2023, courtesy of von Bartha Gallery Copenhagen

LUX: How did your understanding of sales dynamics inspire you to test a new approach to managing exhibitions?
BBW: People often go into the world of art and tech because they identify problems that can be solved. I noticed that museum exhibitions often showed the same works over and over again from the same group of lenders, and excluded privately owned works, so with my first venture, I built a matchmaking service for collectors and museums. Having a museum show can greatly impact the perceived value of a work of art, so opening-up that value creation to a greater pool of lenders seemed sensible.

As Vastari grew, we received feedback from the museums that they also wanted matchmaking services for touring exhibitions so we evolved to include this in our offering. So much of the sales process is about listening to what the customer really needs and how to solve for that.

At Arcual, I know that our offering will continue to change and evolve based on the feedback we receive, and that’s what is beautiful about technology – it is iterative.

A picture of white flowers hanging from a branch

Detail from Nocturne by Phoebe Cummings, 2016

LUX: How did this change definitions of art and art communities?
BBW: At Vastari, I learned the benefits of involving various different stakeholders in the art ecosystem, and the importance of being involved with associations. We became a member of the International Council of Museums, the American Alliance of Museums, and the Association of Academic Museums and Galleries. These associations were instrumental to our technological innovation becoming aligned and involved with, rather than trying to go against, the status quo.

I am personally a member of many communities, from AWITA and PAIAM to The Worshipful Company of Arts Scholars and Sandbox. These communities shape the way I see the world and connect to it, and help me interact with others with different opinions or viewpoints to my own.

black and white faces on circles stacked together on a wall

Bon appétit IV, 2022. Courtesy of the artist and Sabrina Amrani

LUX: New technologies are often seen as ‘taking out the middleman’ and an opportunity for direct engagement between artists and collectors. What do you think will be the impact of blockchain on art world infrastructures and relationships?
BBW: Technology can certainly be considered as a disintermediation tool, but you are still using a technology platform to connect. That can be Facebook, Youtube, TikTok, Docusign or OpenSea. We are trusting new technology-based middlemen to transact even if these platforms are perceived to be neutral.

So it’s about looking deeper at the new middleman, and whether you trust them. With blockchain you can at least make sure that your data is not held hostage by one organisation. At Arcual, we are founded by a collaboration between the LUMA Foundation, MCH Group (the parent company of Art Basel) and BCG X.

So, going back to the idea of taking-out the middleman in the art world, many think the future is about artists selling directly to collectors. I believe that there is a reason why the gallery or dealer historically played an important role in that relationship. So our system is about collaboration, as opposed to competing and ‘cutting-out’; more about reinforcing why that relationship exists in the first place. For example, Arcual generates digital certificates of authenticity for artworks with dual signatories, signed by both the artist and the gallery for added trust, before an artwork’s provenance is logged into the blockchain.

colourful blue and yellow paintings hung on a wall

Fiona Rae, Faerie gives delight and hurts not, 2017. Image courtesy of the artist and Galerie Nathalie Obadia Paris Brussels

In the coming months, we will also launch an expanded digital Certificate of Authenticity feature, which can contain attachments, be personalised and much more. The expanded CoA enables artists and galleries to build out and affirm the authenticity of an artwork, acting as a kind of digital dossier, which strengthens the connection and makes it more valuable for a collector.

As a technology provider, Arcual aims to bring value with the features we build and also uphold the existing value that different parties bring to the ecosystem.

LUX: What does the Arcual team look like and how do you all bring your strengths?
BBW: Arcual has developed a unified team with such a strong sense of purpose since I joined as CEO, just over a year ago. With 34 talents across 17 different nationalities and growing, based in Zurich, London and Berlin, we work collaboratively towards one mission, that of empowering the art ecosystem to embrace innovation, for a more equal future.

LUX: How is blockchain disrupting how the art market functions?
BBW: Blockchain engenders trust through its checks and balances, ensuring that information is encrypted, secured, and timestamped. The fact that it processes automatically according to the terms of an agreement can ensure that all parties in a transaction are protected.

zoomed in flowers made of clay

Phoebe Cummings (clay) detail (2)

Arcual’s blockchain aims to work with and for, as opposed to against, existing art world structures. Later this year our whitepaper outlines our approach to privacy and governance, that we maintain rights of privacy but the transparency of the transaction can offer parties confidence.

Our backers stand for quality, and for championing sustainable growth in the future of the art market. We are one company, but our shareholders form a decentralised governance, and there will be a gradual process of decentralisation of the technology and governance in line with blockchain principles.

LUX: Why is this significant for next gen emerging artists?
BBW: Arcual has been purpose-built to offer artists greater participation in their own careers. Our agreements, certificates and smart contract terms are approved by artists. This is significant because it gives artists an opportunity to codify their preferences for the future conservation, care and installation of their work. For gallerists, the 2023 Art Market Report (AMR) showed that finding and engaging new artists is a key priority, particularly for primary market art dealers. In 2022, sales from the single highest-selling artist accounted for an average of 31% of sales for galleries, while their top three artists accounted for just over half of sales.

Galleries that use Arcual’s blockchain technology are committed to empowering artists from the very beginning of their careers. This is an important message and attractive offer for engaging the next generation of artists.

red cloth on the floor

Lea Porsager, Mandorla breaks Open, 2023

LUX: How will these changes affect collectors?
BBW: As Arcual helps engage new artists, it also engages new collectors. The AMR also flagged that ‘blockchain is helping to lower barriers to entry into the market, enabling new collectors to enter [which is] essential to its long-term health”. With the failure of some internet-based businesses, the uncertainty of social media pages’ longevity, potential internet disruption, and with the inherent risks associated with only having paper certificates, it is the availability and security of information stored on the blockchain which is attracting younger generations and new collectors.

LUX: Please sketch how ledger principles apply to art transacting and smart contracts?
BBW: Ledgers basically help everyone to understand what has been agreed and that these terms have not been changed until that is added to the ledger. Arcual’s smart contract terms and ownership agreements offer a chain of ownership and digital certificate of authenticity that is protected on the blockchain and can be harnessed for future secondary market sales and acquisitions.

LUX: What is next for Arcual and how can the community get involved?
BBW: In June, Arcual will be an official partner for Zurich Art Weekend, hosting a panel discussion with some exciting speakers around how technology is impacting power dynamics in the art world.

During Art Basel in Basel, I’m thrilled that Arcual will have a booth in the Collectors Lounge for which we have commissioned a unique sculptural artwork by British artist Phoebe Cummings to spark conversations around our new Digital Dossier feature. We will also take part in events and talks around the fair, including the Conversations series panel around blockchain, ownership and copyright.

Find out more: www.arcual.art

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Reading time: 8 min
A virtual world with green plants and trees
A virtual world with green plants and trees

Shezad Dawood, Night in the Garden of Love, 2023. VR environment, duration variable, produced by UBIK Productions, co-commissioned by WIELS, Brussels and Aga Khan Museum, Toronto. Courtesy of UBIK Productions

British artist Shezad Dawood is presenting his latest exhibition ‘Night in the Garden of Love’ at WIELS in Brussels this May. Commissioned by WIELS and the Aga Khan Museum, this exhibition marks Dawood’s largest presentation of new work since 2019 and his first solo exhibition in Belgium

Shezad Dawood is known for his experimentation across numerous different disciplines and exploration of different cultures. Inspired by the works of musician Yusef Lateef, ‘Night in the Garden of Love’ showcases a captivating blend of music, drawings, virtual reality experiences, painted textiles, algorithmic plants, costume-sculptures, and live choreography.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

He first came across Lateef’s music in his youth, and later became fascinated by his abstract drawings which often feature dreamlike landscapes and strange but beautiful life forms inspired by music pieces. Dawood’s latest exhibition, however, is based on Lateef’s novella, from which it takes its title.

A person wearing an orange and blue string outfit with their face covered

Shezad Dawood, Night in the Garden of Love, 2023. Performance rehearsal, Choreographer and Dancer, Wan-Lun Yu. Costume by Ahluwalia. Image by Miranda Sharp. Courtesy of UBIK Productions

Lateef pioneered a methodology he called Autophysiopsychic music, which he defined as “music from one’s physical, mental and spiritual self”. Like Dawood, he integrated cultures and traditions from across the world into his artwork and experimented across many different mediums. The exhibition serves as a dialogue between Dawood’s practice and Lateef’s, and through it, Dawood aims to create a metaphysical and virtual space, leveraging technology to imagine new forms of togetherness while also addressing the climate crisis.

A person wearing a VR kit standing in a blu and green maze with a tapestry hanging from the wall

Installation view ‘Shezad Dawood, Night in the Garden of Love’, WIELS, Brussels, 2023 © We Document Art

On wide variety of mediums featured in the show, Dawood told LUX: “It took me almost 8 years to bring this project to fruition, and one of the key aspects for me was the set of correspondences and echoes between Lateef’s music, his drawings and his writing practices, which I began to see as one expansive score.

Art works lit up in the dark

Installation view ‘Shezad Dawood, Night in the Garden of Love’, WIELS, Brussels, 2023 © We Document Art

This allowed me to build the show as an iterative score, where each element leads to the next and informs and amplifies it, like stars in a constellation.

Read more: Vik Muniz’s Mixed-Media Reflection on Perception and Materiality

When I paint I often think of colour in terms of a palette of sound and music, and then elements from my paintings informed the digital seedbanks, as I derived the base designs for each algorithmically generated plant from my paintings, that were in turn responding to Lateef’s original drawings, which also feature in the show.”

‘Night in the Garden of Love’ is running until Sunday 13th August at WEILS in Belgium

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

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Reading time: 2 min
Black and white photo of two pears in a bowl
red flowers

Red Dahlias by Cig Harvey

Graham Nash, of legendary music trio Crosby Stills and Nash, is a major collector of modern photography. As this year’s Photo London fair gets underway, we speak with Nash, curator and gallerist Camilla Grimaldi, and a photographer being exhibited at the fair, Sam Wright

The Collector: Graham Nash

Graham Nash is a legendary musician, songwriter, and photographer. His artistic talents have captivated audiences for decades as a founding member of iconic bands such as The Hollies and Crosby, Stills & Nash. However, Nash’s creative pursuits extend beyond music. He is also an avid photographer with a deep passion for the craft and an extensive collection.

LUX: What was it that made you begin collecting art?
Graham Nash: We were a poor family from the North of England and never had an image on a wall. Eric Burdon from the Animals turned me on to M.C.Escher in the mid sixties and I truly love Eschers’ work. When I was economically well off I began to collect Escher. His work and the work of Diane Arbus, whos’ images astound me to this day started my journey of surrounding myself with great work.

Black and white photo of two pears in a bowl

Two Pears by
Paul Caponigro

LUX: Can you tell us about a piece in your collection that has influenced your music?
GN: I find an interesting correlation between music and photography. To me, the world is made up of vibrations and I can sense that when I look at “Moonrise over Hernandez” by Ansel Adams, I can really feel the bushes and vegetation in the dark areas of the image and I ‘hear’ the cellos and the double bases, then I can imagine violins and violas in the soft, light cloud areas of the print I owned.

LUX: Have you ever regretted selling a piece?
GN: No, When I learn all that an image teaches me then I can let it go.

black and white photo of a tree on a hill

Mountain Tree, Study 1, Danyang, Chungcheonbukdo by Michael Kenna

LUX: What makes photography as a medium special?
GN: From the very beginning of humanity capturing images to the present day, great photography can show us, and the world around us, that we are indeed all interrelated in some sense, that we have to leave some sense of ourselves of having ‘been here’. From the first time that a human outlined a hand by blowing a coloured powder onto it on a wall somewhere back in the beginnings of self-expression to the images of today, photography reigns supreme.

LUX: What was your first ever camera and what do you use now? Do you think that new technology has changed your approach to the art over time?
GN: The camera that was given to me by my father was a vintage Agva. I don’t really care what instrument I’m using, I only care about what it sees. I’ve used everything from a Disney camera to 4×5’s or even an iPhone.

grey sky and a beach with a mountain in the distance

Beachwalker by Jeffrey Conley

LUX: As someone who collects originals, how do you feel about the way art and photography have become so readily available online?
GN: It could be said that the ‘immediate’ availability of being able to buy images online signals an interesting future. There’s a wonderful feeling holding an original masterpiece and I’ve been incredibly lucky in my journey of collecting and making art.

Green photo of a woman wearing a black dress

Yoji Yamamoto by Sarah Moon

LUX: You’ve said before that you only sell pieces when you have taken all the inspiration from them that you can. Is there a piece you would never sell?
GN: I was in a gallery in Los Angeles owned and run by Jake Zeitlin and I found an image of Marilyn Monroe taken when she was a teenager. It’s a lovely candid moment and one that I treasure. It was $20. I’ve sold images in the many thousands but you can’t get this image out of my hands.

The Gallerist: Camilla Grimaldi

Camilla Grimaldi has been a curator, gallerist and international art advisor for over 20 years. She began her career at institutions including Christie’s New York contemporary art department, the Guggenheim, Venice and White Cube, London. In 2004, Grimaldi co-founded Brancolini Grimaldi, a contemporary photography gallery. Now an independent entity, the Camilla Grimaldi Gallery currently works with emerging and established international artists with a strong focus on contemporary photography.

LUX: How did your upbringing shape your relationship with art?
Camilla Grimaldi: I think an influential person in shaping my relationship with art has been my father, who started collecting contemporary art, particularly post-war art, when I was very young. My earliest memory of art is from my childhood at around the age of five. My father would take me to school in the morning and, before dropping me off, he would stop in the old centre of Rome and select a visit to a different baroque church each time. We went in to admire the masterpieces of Caravaggio, Michelangelo, Bernini, and Borromini, and I remember that I was literally petrified by the beauty and grandeur of these stunning paintings and sculptures. It became clear from that moment onwards that art would have to be a part of my life.

LUX: Why do you think you are drawn to photography as a medium?
CG: Photography started as a passion in my early 20’s. I really loved fashion photography and vintage photography from Henri Cartier-Bresson, Frank Horvat and Robert Doisneau. The American photographers have also deeply shaped my vision as I admired how they used colour and depicted the US in such real and sometimes crude ways, like the greats such as William Eggleston, Stephen Shore and Mitch Epstein. In the past 20 years, the German school of Photography led by Thomas Ruff and Andreas Gursky has shaped the intellectual connection I feel to contemporary photography. The methodological approach in blurring the notion of what documenting our society really looks like and developing new conceptual frameworks with which to decipher the captured subjects and spaces.

A huge influence has also been African and Italian photography. In both instances, it is marvellous to observe their ability in developing new ways of capturing space, light, and how they portray the gaze of their subjects. In recent years I’ve been truly enjoying my work in discovering young photographers that use the medium in different ways, from installations that become three dimensional, to the use of already existing photographs combined through an archival study or books and magazines, and the use of negatives in particular and manipulated ways.

colourful photographs of statues

Untitled View 2014 by Goldschmied & Chiari

LUX: Everyone has a camera these days, almost everyone can market themselves as an amateur photographer. As someone who works with emerging photographers, how do you differentiate the very talented but unrecognised few from just another person with a smartphone?
CG: In my opinion, what differentiates a talented photographer from a content creator is the idea, intention, and research behind the work. It isn’t necessarily important if a smartphone or a certain type of camera was used for the final outcome. The power and strength of the photograph is determined by various technical and cultural factors, yet what I truly believe makes a work of art is the message it entails, and how this message is delivered to the world.

LUX: If you had to pick one or two photographers, who would you say are the ones to watch right now, and why?
CG: We can’t escape looking at some of the pillars of the contemporary photography scene like Thomas Struth or Andreas Gursky, and Wolfgang Tillmans who continue to experiment with the medium by breaking the boundaries of where photography sits within various artistic contexts.

In terms of the Italian scene, the duo Sara Goldschmied and Eleonora Chiari have developed a painterly approach which evolves into a three-dimensional space using a unique technique by printing the photograph directly on mirrored glass. Domingo Milella’s traditional landscape photography abstracts itself through a deep process of archeological and site specific research, whilst Massimo Listri’s architectural photographs entail a magnified and somewhat spiritual viewpoint, capturing cultural institutions we all know, but somehow obtaining an entirely different character inside his artworks.

A photograph of a stone room with wrapped up statues

Musei Vaticani XXI, Roma 2014 by Massimo Listri

Within the Italian emerging sector, the trio Sbagliato have been operating at the confines between street and contemporary art for the last 10 years. Their proposed alternative scenarios within urban contexts develop rifts in the architectural order and use these ruptures to create new and illusionary pathways.

LUX: How would you describe the relationship between artist and curator/gallerist? Is it largely a rewarding one, or do you find there can be friction or disappointment?
CG: My long experience in this area has taught me that the basis of a good work relationship is mutual respect. I have occupied various roles in my career, spanning from curator and art advisor to gallerist. But within all these multifaceted roles, the connection to the artist becomes the main driver of a success story. It truly becomes part of your life, as you transform into an advisor of life and work at 360 degrees. This type of relationship, built in time through trust, professionalism, effort, and friendship, has made it possible to still be in contact with all the artists that I’ve been working with for over 25 years. Of course there are moments where some misunderstandings can occur, but if you strongly believe in the artist and the work, everything can be solved.

Read more: Photo London’s Fariba Farshad on Fotografìa Maroma

LUX: What would your advice be to individuals looking to start an art collection?
CG: My advice is to be curious. Attending art fairs, biennials, museums and galleries, is the start to truly immersing oneself into the art world and doing research. Contact an art advisor that you trust and is capable of showing you around and helping you discover and understand your taste. Starting an art collection is something exciting, it gives you joy. Art becomes part of your everyday life and it elevates all sorts of feelings.

LUX: What is your personal philosophy on art as a gallerist, curator and advisor? Has it developed over time?
CG: Through my long professional experience in the art world, I now have various mixed feelings concerning it. As a gallerist it has been a big challenge for me especially when I opened the first contemporary photography gallery in Rome in 2005. The art market in Rome was based on an old school type of aesthetic, and surprisingly my gallery was a success story during a time in which photography was not yet considered a quality medium of contemporary art. That experience has been very demanding and very exciting at the same time. Today as a curator and advisor my situation is very different, and I am less constrained by these dynamics in the way I work. I can freely select the projects that I love and that I strongly believe in, and I have more time to research, study, and go on studio visits. I’m very lucky that I can choose the curatorial projects and the marvellous artists that I work with.

six abstract works of art hung up on a wall

Total blu, 2022-2023 by Domingo Milella

Back when I was a gallerist, I started at a very young age so of course my notion on what art meant has changed over time. Back then my first approach was to develop my relationship with artists, it was all about sharing ideas and being part of the creative process of the artists. It was about creation and identity.

As a curator and art advisors now, I have more experience, and whilst my initial feelings have been kept intact, I now know how to contribute on a deeper level, culturally and strategically, helping my artists to rise within the contemporary art market.

The Photographer: Sam Wright

Sam Wright began his photography career photographing DIY punk gigs in pub basements and clubs in Sheffield. He went onto study at Newcastle School of Art and Design, and his work has now been recognised by respected awards and galleries including The NPG, D&AD Awards, Lürzer’s Archive, Creative Review, Its Nice That, Palm Studios and The AOP Awards.

LUX: What was your introduction to photography?
Sam Wright: My first experiences of photography centred around the Sheffield punk scene in a pub called The Cricketers Arms, where DIY punk gigs would be put on. It was a driving scene full of big characters and lots of energy. I found myself focusing more on the crowds, not just well as the bands. These early experiences allowed me to explore photography in an exciting environment, as well as inspiring a DIY ethos that the whole scene was built around. It was through that scene that I met Ben Goulder of New Dimension who published my new book “The City of the Sun”. Collaborating with New Dimension always feels like a perfect fit. Myself and Ben have a long history, not only creating publications together but growing up together and forming our views on the world through bands in the Sheffield punk scene. The tongue in cheek motto was always “DIY or Die” which to some extent still runs through both our approaches to creative work.

A man lounging on a chair topless

From the Welcome to Napoli series by Sam Wright

LUX: Tell us about your first ever camera, and how it compares to the camera you use most frequently now.
SW: My first camera was an early 2000’s digital point and shoot. It was limited in quality but the small size and low value meant I had it with me at all times.

I now shoot on a medium format film camera which is a very different tool. It is quite heavy which brings a slower way of shooting and the expense of film brings more consideration when choosing what to photograph. This camera has become a big influence on the way I shoot. The work in my new book was shot on this camera and brings an element of consideration to the work.

LUX: Your projects are often named or centred around a particular place – London, Seoul, Naples, your hometown of Sheffield. What role do geographic locations play in your work?
SW: Geography plays a huge role in my work and I think the same goes for a lot of photographers. For me, it provides a backdrop and narrative for the characters in my photos to live. It builds on the story that I am trying to invoke with my viewer.

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Naples for example was the focus of my latest project and book, “The City of the Sun”. The work I shot there is an attempt to capture this character and attitude providing the viewer with a tangible glimpse into the city and the people that call Napoli home. I want the work to feel textural, invoke the senses and draw the viewer’s mind into the special feel of the city.

LUX: You often capture unique, striking individuals in your pictures. When you look at a person, what makes you want to photograph them?
SW: This is a tough question, but I guess I am drawn to people that have an interesting look from first view. I then often find that they live interesting lives and have a unique place in the world. Maybe this comes through in the way they look or hold themselves, but it’s hard to pinpoint.

photograph of boys standing together in swimming trunks and one is pouring a drink

From the Welcome to Napoli series by Sam Wright

LUX: Tell us about the way you use and capture light in your photography.
SW: Light is a very important part of my work and something that I am always very particular about throughout my work. It can totally change the feel and emotion of a shot and can provide depth, texture and magic to an image.

LUX: How has your stylistic approach developed throughout your career?
SW: My style has developed and changed a lot since I started my journey as a photographer. The core values and interests have remained the same but as I have learnt more about photography and light, I have shaped a style that feels representative of what I like aesthetically and how I view the world.

LUX: Which artists, photographers or otherwise, have influenced and inspired you the most?
SW: I draw inspiration for lots of different mediums. Cinema, music, everyday life, and also photography feed into my visual inspiration. I love how directors like Terrence Malick and Francis Ford Coppola use a camera to create their work. I have always loved classic American colour photographers such as Eggleston and Shore. I love how Chris Killip made art through everyday life and photographers like Tom Wood. The list could go on!

LUX: In your opinion, what is special about photography as a medium?
SW: I love the accessibility of photography. It’s available to almost everyone today and I think it is a brilliant way to express your creative drive. I love the way it gives you access and a reason to meet new people and experience new places, it provides purpose in exploring new communities and cultures.

LUX: Can a photo tell a story? If so, which of yours tells the best?
SW: Yes! I love the way a photo can tell a story, evoke an emotion or bring on a specific feeling – this is something that I strive to achieve throughout all my work. I love the way that the viewer becomes in control of the narrative with a photo and can take its cues to build their own perception of what they see and what the artist has set out to achieve.

a bush of red flowers and clouds in the sky

From the Welcome to Napoli series by Sam Wright

In my new book there is a whole section of work shot around bays and city beaches that offer moments of calm and tranquillity; the chaos of the city is left behind but the energy is still high. I tried to capture the narratives and group dynamic of the individuals and tell the story of these unique areas of Italy.

Photo London, Somerset House, London, 11th-14th May 2023

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A man standing in front of a painting of a boy with a bow and arrow
A painting of two children and a real man with long black hair and a black scarf beside the painting

Matthew Krishanu with Riverboat, in 2021. Photograph by Jean-Noël Schramm

British-Indian artist Matthew Krishanu’s paintings offer a nuanced exploration of cultural identity, memory, and personal experience. LUX looks at his works and career through an autobiographical lens

Matthew Krishanu was born in Bradford, England to an Indian mother and a white English father, before moving to Bangladesh where he spent 11 years of his childhood, returning to the UK at age 12. The experience of growing up between two cultures has had a profound impact on his work, which often reflects on the tensions and complexities of cultural identity.

Two boys standing in red and bleu tops and jeans holding archery bows

Archers, 2021, part of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation. Photograph by Peter Mallet

His figurative paintings have a distinctive flatness, compounded by the use of vivid, block colours and ambiguous, even distant, facial expressions. He explores themes of family and grief, religion and race, childhood and memory, with many of his paintings representing his early years in Bangladesh.

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For one of his most famous shows, ‘Another Country’ (2014) at the Nunnery Gallery in London, Krishanu worked from old photographs, and his own memories and imagination to reconstruct images from his childhood. The viewer is transported not only to another continent, but to another time, entering the artist’s personal past, remembered landscapes, moments, his relationship with his older brother.

a boy in a blue top and a girl in a red top sitting on rocks playing by a stream

Two Boys on Rocks, 2022, from the series Another Country. Photograph by Peter Mallet

When the artist was asked where feels most like home to him, the UK or Bangladesh, Krishanu responded, ““I have lived in England for over three decades, and London in particular feels like home now. However, the world of the ‘two boys’ (Bangladesh and India) feels like home to them – the places I paint are the home of my childhood.”

A painting of a woman standing in jeans, a white t shirt and a white hat

Safari 2021, part of the the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation. Photography by Peter Mallet

In other works, Krishanu explores faith and religion and this way in which they relate to race and colonial history, a key part of his own personal experience as the son of a Christian missionary in South Asia. Paintings such as “Ordination” (2017) observe unsettling power dynamics relating to complex religious politics of Bangladesh, while in his contribution to Southbank’s ‘Everyday Heroes’ exhibition (2020), he pays tribute to the faith workers from different races and religions and their contributions to their communities during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A painting of priests in a church

Ordination, 2017, from the series Mission. Photograph by Peter Mallet

In 2021, he exhibited ‘In Sickness and Health’ at Leamington Spa Art Gallery and Museum, a series of profoundly intimate paintings, including several of his late wife at different moments throughout their relationship, and his daughter as a newborn baby. In one painting his wife appears bright-eyed in a wedding dress, while in others she is receiving hospital treatment towards the end of her life. The series acts as a quiet and calm, yet deeply emotional study of not just grief and loss, but the vulnerability and changeability of the human body.

Krishanu explains, “I am interested in how one’s emotional connection to a subject can be communicated in the paint handling, colour, atmosphere and feeling of a painting. It’s something I look for in painters I love – and I feel creates a point of entry for the viewer.”

paintings on a wall of a gallery

In Sickness and in Health, Mead Gallery, 2022. Photograph by Ed Florance

The artist graduated from the University of Exeter with a BA in Fine Art and English Literature and went on to complete a master’s degree in Fine Art at Central Saint Martins in 2009. Since then, he has exhibited his work in solo and group shows across the UK and internationally, including shows in India, China, Pakistan, Germany and the US.

Read more: Sam Dalrymple and Durjoy Rahman On Cultural Reconnections Post-Partition

His work is included in numerous major collections, including the Arts Council Collection, Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery, Government Art Collection UK, Komechak Art Gallery and the Kiran Nadar Museum of Art..

A painting of children standing in a room

Four Children (Verandah), 2022, from the series Expatriates. Photograph by Peter Mallet

Krishanu continues to invite his readers to share in the rich narratives of his personal and cultural history, as well as their own. His first trade monography was published in March 2023 and features a selection of his works, including ‘Another Country’, ‘Expatriates’, ‘Mission’, ‘House of God’, ‘Religious Workers’ and ‘In Sickness and In Health’.

Find out more:

matthewkrishanu.com

casematepublishing.co.uk/matthew-krishanu.html

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

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orange, yellow, red and green paint on a canvas
yellow, green and pink paint on a cavas

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Energy Within, 2023

The French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar has a solo show opening in Phillips on Berkeley Square. His compelling paintings examine themes of loss, anger, nature, healing and positive and negative energy. Each of Behnam-Bakhtiar’s paintings in the series reflect the internal structure of trees which he connects with trauma-recovery and healing. The selling exhibition has been supported by his German gallerist Setareh and is curated by Kamiar Maleki, erstwhile director of Photo London among other hats.
Behnam-Bakhtiar comes from a notable Iranian family; his great uncle Shahpour led the country’s last attempt at creating a liberal, democratic regime before the Islamic revolution ushered in an era of Muslim extremism. Jasper Greig, emerging collector and philanthropic advisor, spoke to the artist in his home in Cap Ferrat, about the personal experiences that informed his increasingly sought-after art

Jasper Greig: I would like to ask about your early life and how you got into painting?

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar: I am a fourth generation artist; my father was and is an artist and was highly involved in the government before the 1979 Islamic Revolution in Iran, as one of the key figures in bringing and developing modern art to Iran back in the day. Family-wise I was always showing signs of creativity and was very tight with my Dad before my parents separated when I was 3 years old. I was very close with my Dad until the age of 5 when I was still around in Europe – I was born in Paris. My first memory of art was my father teaching me how to paint!

I always had this creativity within me. Unfortunately the support to pursue my passion was not present in any way as a child and young adult, after being separated from my father.

orange, yellow, red and green paint on a canvas

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, The Secret of Life, 2023

JG: Was your father very supportive of you wanting to pursue art as a career?
SBB: He was, but unfortunately, my parents divorced when I was young! But it stayed in me. That was the seed. When you’re a child, your first 3 years are the most formative – my own son is three and a half now, so I have seen it with my own eyes.

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JG: You were born in France to an Iranian family, and then unusually moved to Iran. Did you feel your family’s reputation changed your experiences in Iran?
SBB: Being in school, I remember reading a chapter about Shahpour Bahktiar, the late Prime Minister, my great uncle, who was assassinated in Paris. They were showing videos of people chanting, literally swearing at our family. Everybody knew I was from that family so I was basically an outcast while I was in Iran. They wouldn’t accept me as an Iranian because I was born in France and I came from what they would call a ‘western family’. It was very tough at the beginning, until I integrated at about 12 or 13. I used to get bullied all the time. There are a lot of people over there who are like me so I found my group eventually, but for the first few years it was hell.

Simultaneously, I was always highly frustrated about the way Iran was being portrayed, even though I was not accepted by my own society.

running colourful paint on a canvas in blue, yellow and pink

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Powerful Beyond Measure, 2023

JG: Can you tell us about your journey into increasing your vibrations through meditation? You said you discovered that at a really low point in Iran.
SBB: I see it as a form of rebirth for me. I was at the lowest point in my life, and going through that transformation during those harsh times changed my life forever.

It was after taming my anger that I went back into my studio and I was looking for that signature style of work that you can see today. I will never forget – I did a body of work and it was the last painting from that body of work that was a two by four metre painting, a big one, where I actually found it. The whole body was exhibited at Saatchi Gallery in 2017. That was the first time I brought these paintings to the public because they were very intimate. Obviously, since then my style has developed and critics come and go – some say my work has the romantic qualities of a Monet, others say I am the perfect melting pot with my Persian background and Western techniques. Everyone has their own thing to say, but for me, my works are representations of energy at their core, no matter what subject I’m trying to depict.

JG: Your paintings involve the building up of layers, scraping those layers, relaying and spreading them back over each other. Does each painting start from a meditative process?
SBB: There were some small figurative elements to the works which slowly started to die out – nothing is planned behind my work. Those paintings at Saatchi, you can still see the collage elements on the work – they were the transition between the collage and the painting. Today, at least for now, I am highly focused on my abstract paintings and what I can do with my signature style of work. For now I can confidently say we will probably not be seeing any figurative elements for a while to come. But nothing is planned, everything is organic. I’m in a different zone when I paint.

White, grey and blue paint on a canvas

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Earth, 2023

JG: Some of the greatest artists like Bacon and Freud, writers like James Joyce, all worked best away from their homeland. Do you think this can be a kind of liberation or do you think there is always a perpetual feeling of loss?
SBB: It’s difficult to explain how you feel because if you add on everything that has happened to me from a young age to today, if you feel it and you see it, it is the combination of all these things that will give you those emotions while you’re creating art. When I am working I find myself wearing a lot of the complicated times I have had on the surface of the canvas, but immediately I want to cover them.

Read more: Art Dubai opens in support of South Asian artists

It has shaped the way that I paint today. I would say that everything had a direct impact. I definitely miss home very much, even though things have been tough there for me. Whatever happened happened for a reason, for me to be able to paint the way I do today.

an abstract painting of a pink and yellow tree with a white and blue background

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, Tree of Love, 2023

JG: If you were describing your paintings to an alien how would you describe them?
SBB: It’s very simple. My painting provides a window for you so you can have a better understanding of who you are. I have a much better idea of my own capabilities as a human being – I’m not saying I know it all, I’m still on my journey. But we are capable of powerful things beyond measure. You can heal yourself from a lot of injuries for instance, which I can do now.

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar’s latest series, ‘The Age of Energy’, is available to view at Phillips Gallery, 30 Berkeley Square, London W1J 6EX, until Sunday 26th March

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Image courtesy of Aicon Gallery

Pakistani engineer turned conceptual artist, Rasheed Araeen, is using his geometric art to highlight racism and inequality. LUX explores the history behind his celebrated works
A man wearing a beige jacket and striped shirt standing in front of a geometric painting

Rasheed Araeen

Rasheed Araeen is now considered one of Britain’s pioneers of minimalist sculpture during the mid to late 20th Century. But during that period, he received little institutional recognition for his contribution to the modernist discourse in Britain. Araeen’s Pakistani background side-lined him as a non-European whose work was consistently evaluated within the context of post-colonial structures, which inevitably resulted in far less exposure.

A yellow, blue, red and black wooden clock with cut out shapes hanging on a wall and open sided cubes in blue, yellow, greed and red on the wooden floor

Black Square Breaking into Primary Colours, 2016, from the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

This latent racism led to his work in the 1970s and 1980s – in performance, photography, painting and sculpture – developing an overtly political content which drew attention to the way in which black artists were invisible within the dominant Eurocentric culture.

pieces of paper with colourful drawings stuck on a wall

Untitled, 2015

Araeen is now famously known for using geometric structures, in which vertical and horizontal lines are held together by a network of diagonals, to play on the links between Eastern and Western thought and the frameworks of social institutions and aesthetics.

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He often overlays his photographs within geometric structures, to further emphasise humans and the social structure in which they exist.

Rhapsody in Four Colours, 2018. Image courtesy of Aicon Gallery

Araeen comments, “I’m sick of the avant-garde and I want to get out of it. It is believed that the idea of abstraction is a twentieth-century phenomenon. In Damascus, it took place 1200 years ago. Nobody wants to hear about that in Europe.”

Read more: Behind The Lens Of Sunil Gupta’s Photographs

purple, green and orange triangles on a black and white diamond background

OPUS TD 3 (2), 2017. Image courtesy of Aicon Gallery

Through his artworks and books, Araeen has become a key activist in establishing a black voice in Britain’s art scene, publishing ‘Black Phoenix’ in 1978, and subsequently ‘Third Text’ in 1987, and ‘Third Text Asia’ in 2008. Araeen also founded Kala Press, to spread information and recognition of unacknowledged African and Asian artists in Britain who contributed to the development of post-war British art.

Rasheed Araeen lives and works in London. He is represented by Grosvenor Gallery.

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

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Two men playing with a basket ball standing next to a van filled with basket balls
Two men playing with a basket ball standing next to a van filled with basket balls

The 2023 edition of Art Dubai will feature 24 Dubai-based galleries, the largest number the fair has ever had, reflecting the continued growth of Dubai’s artistic ecosystem and its increasing reputation as a global creative and cultural hub

The most significant art fair in the Middle East opened today with a focus on artists from South Asia. LUX reports on the multi-sensory experience that Art Dubai is currently offering to its visitors

Art Dubai has traditionally bee a blend of art from the Middle East from surrounding regions and the rest of the world. This year the focus is firmly on South Asia, specifically countries like India, Pakistan and Bangladesh, whose thriving contemporary art scene is informed by ancient cultural and craft influences as well as much more modern societal conversations and clashes.

A woman looking at a red and pink light installation

Art Dubai is featuring over 130 contemporary, modern and digital gallery presentations from six continents

“South Asian artists are receiving reinvigorated attention on the world scene due to a new generation of collectors, artists and galleries. Many of the most interesting artists from the region have been creating significant works for years or even decades, as the recent Pop South Asia exhibition at Sharjah Art Foundation, hosted by Sheikha Hoor Al Qasimi, demonstrated. Although there is a current growing interest in South Asian art, it is also important for collectors to understand the cultural and historical nuances that inform it.”

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“People in these countries have been creating notable art works in a variety of mediums for a very long time and we should be careful to avoid a simplistic western-orientalist perspective that it is just being ‘discovered'”, says Durjoy Rahman, LUX partner, philanthropist and founder of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation.

A man looking at three squares of art in blue, yellow and purple

The 2023 fair includes over 30 first-time participants and more than 60% of the gallery programme is drawn from the Global South

Rahman’s foundation supports both the Sharjah Art Foundation and Art Dubai.

The programme is unlike other art fairs, delivering daily performances and food-based experiences spanning Dubai to South Asia.

Read more: Rana Begum and Durjoy Rahman on South Asian art’s global ascendancy

People in costumes standing on a stage holding bowls of food

The focus on the Global South has been heightened by a new commissioned performance programme in partnership with leading South Asian galleries and institutions

The themes explored at the fair include those of community, celebration, hope and connection. Among the significant galleries involved in the South Asian focus at Art Dubai are Galleria Continua, Efie Gallery and Unit London.

Art Dubai is open from Wednesday 1st-Sunday 5th March 2023

Find out more: artdubai.ae

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A man in a yellow dress and white trousers wearing a black cardigan standing with a woman in blue dress in front of a multicoloured net hanging from the ceiling

Durjoy Rahman is a collector of Rana Begum’s mesmerising works

The second of the LUX dialogues co-hosted with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation covers the hot topic of artists from a region long overlooked despite a powerful legacy and thriving local artistic culture

South Asia was, until recently, dramatically underrepresented in the global art world. Contemporary and historical artists from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and Afghanistan had few champions on the world stage, and their home countries often lacked the infrastructure or cultural will to support them. In this fascinating dialogue, moderated by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai, British-Bangladeshi artist Rana Begum chats with Dhaka-based philanthropist Durjoy Rahman, Founder of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation, about how things are changing, Western perceptions, and whether everything can be blamed on colonialism or post-colonial legacy

LUX: Durjoy, for artists from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, is private patronage needed, with institutions not as strong as in wealthier countries?

Durjoy Rahman: Private patronage is essential for the development of art and its ecosystem in South Asia. Western art practices are organised, with support systems between government and private institutions. That’s missing in South Asia. Art and culture have historically been important, but during colonialism, what are now India, Pakistan and Bangladesh were controlled by the British, who didn’t promote them. After independence, there was the Bombay Progressive Arts Group (PAG), but no significant structural developments – and there have been religious and political tensions. Interest has grown in the past two decades but, I think, not yet into in the wider communities.

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Rana Begum: I feel, in arts terms, that India got attention, Pakistan struggled along, Bangladesh was left behind. It’s only in the past decade, since people like Durjoy have created support networks, that art and attitudes towards it are changing. Durjoy, I think you have three works of mine, and that shows a seriousness that artists require to survive and grow.

LUX: Rana, as a Bangladesh-born, UK-based artist, has the perception of you and your art changed?

RB: I remember, as an artist studying and growing in the UK, being pigeonholed as a “female Muslim artist from Bangladesh”. I tried hard to not be restricted as that – you have to be careful how you and your work are perceived. I see myself as a Bangladeshi-British artist. Ironically, to make it into institutional collections you must meet certain criteria. I don’t fulfil Bangladeshi criteria for a certain institute; I fall under the British category – a bigger pond to select artists from. There are positives and negatives. In terms of my career trajectory, it really started at Dhaka, 2014. That’s where it took off.

red, blue, yellow and green glass frames on grass outside a building

Rana Begum’s works blur the boundaries between sculpture, painting and architecture

DR: Before that, people were aware of your practices but didn’t have access to your work. With, say, the basketwork at Dhaka, people saw you take a local material and transform it. So you have been in our ecosystem, but were not properly presented until then.

LUX: Rana, is this an historical moment for art from South Asia? Are we seeing change in its creation, perception and global transmission?

Rana Begum: I saw a shift when I first exhibited at Dhaka Art Summit in 2014. It was amazing to see an international audience. I’ve seen artists’ visibility grow since – and politics around #MeToo and race has meant female artists and artists of colour have become more visible. It’s great to see the calibre of artists in the limelight having the success they deserve.

LUX: So if we had this conversation 10 years ago, would there have been less recognition in Europe of South Asian art?

DR: For the past decade, there has been great momentum around South Asian art, so yes, there was less then. But interest in South East Asian art started around the millennium, and grew with events like Art Dubai.

A woman spraying paint on a canvas wearing a mask

The geometric patterns in Rana Begum’s works are influenced by Islamic art

RB: Curators and institutes are more aware of what to do to be multicultural and grow a multicultural audience, and galleries are looking for artists working in different ways. My relationship with Jhaveri Contemporary has opened up a wider South Asian collector base. Slowly, things are shifting in how the art worlds work in Bangladesh, India and Pakistan, and they support each other, which gives a strong base for artists.

LUX: Thinking of your 2022 show at Pitzhanger, Rana, how important is it for people to understand your history when they see your works?

RB: Not at all. My work is about experience and what the viewer achieves from it, so, for me, my culture or gender doesn’t dictate that. I can see that background can give an insight, but, for me, it’s not significant.

LUX: Durjoy, what needs to happen around South Asian art in the next ten years in Europe and the States?

DR: South Asian institutions and corporate bodies should build connections with Western institutions, so our voice is heard and our art is seen. UK-produced work is not considered as South Asian or as produced by a South Asian diaspora, so those areas need highlighting. Regional tensions also need straightening out to develop the ecosystem. And I agree with Rana about Bangladesh: we only gained independence in 1971, and there are tensions that must go to get to the next step.

Read more: Liza Essers and Durjoy Rahman on art and the Global South

RB: Having a collector, like Durjoy, is a huge factor. Some artists wouldn’t have opportunities to develop without collectors. It’s also important that artists get support from other artists in positions to give it. For me, the opportunity to go to Bangladesh to see Durjoy is a chance to see what’s going on and what can be done.

LUX: Durjoy, you have three of Rana’s works. What fascinates you personally about her work?

DR: I actually have four of Rana’s series – her paperwork came to my collection from her 2022 Cristea Roberts Gallery exhibition. Rana’s work has many elements that move me – I saw Folds as kites, which are important in Bangladesh, where we have a famous kite festival. Net reminded me of the fishing nets of Sylhet, where Rana is from. She also uses a green that resembles the green of the Bangladesh flag. There is a particular motif that looks like a river flowing, and our rivers look like that exotic pattern. Rana’s work is influenced by Islamic architecture, but I also see it from a Bangladesh perspective.

A woman wearing jeans and a black t shirt standing in front of multicoloured nets hanging on a wall

Rana Begum’s art distils spatial and visual experience into ordered form

LUX: Rana, what’s next for you?

RB: I’m working on some US projects; there’s a site-specific installation at the Dhaka Art Summit; and Dappled Light is touring to Concrete, Dubai from 26 February, then to The Box, London, and to St Albans, where I grew up.

LUX: Fantastic. Durjoy, is there anything you would like to ask Rana?

DR: I would just offer my appreciation and recommendation – keep doing what you are doing; engage through the community and your practice, especially the charity work I have the pleasure to attend. Communities need you, collectors need you. Keep doing those good things.

Find out more:

durjoybangladeshfoundation.org

ranabegum.com

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A man in a white hoodie sitting next to a man in a striped shirt

William Rand and Rene Ricard 1988, Rand Studio NYC 1988. Photo by Will Daley © Estate of Will Daley

William Rand, has dedicated his latest book, ‘Rene’ to the life of his friend, tumultuous artist and poet, Rene Ricard. Here he reminisces with Maryam Eisler about New York’s exciting community-led art world during the 1980’s and 90’s and his more mellow life now as he resides in Maine

Maryam Eisler: ‘Rene’, your latest book, is a form of diary of your East Village studio from the 80’s to the 90’s, with a backdrop of your friendship with the artist and poet Rene Ricard, set within an atmosphere of tragic events interlaced with street crime and drug addiction. Let’s talk about the shoe box time-capsule method you used for recording these events.

William B. Rand: I remember writing things down because the first time I did it, I couldn’t believe what was happening at my studio. It was so surreal; the drama and the fear around Rene was the most intense you could probably find in the whole of New York City.

ME: You have made references to a ‘safari’. Was it really the ‘jungle’ you have often referred to?

turquoise book cover and a black and white photo of a man's profile

RENE book cover, front and back. Photo by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders, quote by Raymond Foye, executor Rene Ricard Estate. Courtesy of William Rand and Osprey Press

WR: Rene himself referred to it as ‘Abercrombie & Fitch’! It was all so over my head really, that I felt like ‘ok I’m just going to write this down, because this is all too unbelievable for me not to write down’. The way Rene spoke, the order of his words, it was all so unique that five minutes later, he wouldn’t remember anything. So, writing things down as he said them was the closest way to preserving his rapid-fire complex communication – I just put them all in a box, and I certainly couldn’t let him know.

ME: What I found interesting about the time you are referencing is this sense of strong (artistic) community that reigned in New York City. Rene sometimes slept on the street, but there was a real sense of community that pulled itself together to support him … at times even paying him above normal artist rates, to perform, so as to keep his voice alive! In today’s art world, I don’t feel we have this same sense of artistic community and support. It may have been very chaotic then, on many levels, but to me, it seems like there was more authenticity in feelings, in compassion, in humanity, than there is now?

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WR: Well, the people that cared about Rene could calm him down; Brice Marden and he had a very stable and authentic friendship; Brice is from the Boston area, as was Rene – they really understood each other. There were a number of us who were truly dedicated to him, and as Schnabel and other friends of his learned only too quickly, Rene loved being broke. ‘If he got $60,000, it would be gone by 5:00 pm, and Rene would be begging for cigarette money’ as Raymond Foye once said.

A man wearing a black shirt holding a cigarette

William Rand by Timothy Greenfield-Sanders 1982 from the series Art world. Collection of MoMA, and Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, Texas. © Timothy Greenfield-Sanders 2023

ME: Were there many other big names in the art world whose careers were strongly linked to Rene’s?

WR: Yes. Rene, for example, wrote about Francesco [Clemente] and it was used for a publication at Anthony d’Offay Gallery in London. Rene was the one person who could cut through everyone and tell them what he thought; they all loved his poetry, Clemente especially. Rene would often say ‘We’re going out, we have a mission!’ and I’d get dressed and go with him, and it was often on a very good adventure; sometimes, there was trouble lurking around the corner. He was a junkie but there was always this fabric of poetry, art and life behind it all, which made it both interesting and intellectually rewarding.

A collage of black and white photographs

Debra Grid, William Rand. 16 canvases assembled, collage. All decades 32″ x 32″ © William Rand/ARS NY 2023

ME: Any stories of Ricard with Basquiat?

WR: I remember when gallerist Pamela Willoughby was living on Ave A over the Pyramid Club, in the 80’s, with my friend Hayne. One summer, Rene and Jean Michel were living in a tent across the street on Tompkins Square Park. They would always ask to come up and take showers, and Hayne would always let them in, much to Pamela’s horror. They would put on such innocent faces at the door- you had no choice but to let them in!

Rene was the one who said ‘Jean Michel doesn’t draw, he makes lists’. He would often talk to me about Jean Michel in his studio. He was heartbroken when Jean Michel died; after his death he famously went to a gallery opening of Jean Michel’s works, and placed a bottle of champagne on the table; it literally exploded! Rene believed in magic and he often referred to Basquiat as a saint. What Jean Michel became was the voice of inclusion for all the people that had been excluded to the party. He was a major movement-shaker for human change.

paintings in a studio

William Rand Maine studio 2017. Painted Collages. Rand Photo © 2023 William Rand/ARS NY

ME: Any memorable stories related to Ricard and Schnabel?

WR: Well, I asked him once if we could go and meet Julian and he said ‘that would take a papal decree…’ because – as you’ll read in the book – Rene had smashed up Julian’s car and he went to jail for it… in Rene’s mind, it was a very big deal. He had to wait a long time to get let out. I mean, Rene was drunk driving. Rene came in and out of the rain like a wet crow, I just held him as he sobbed and sobbed. Jean Michel was dead, his apartment across the hall from Allen Ginsberg had burned down, he was fired from Artforum, the eighties were shutting down hard. I was receptive to his pain. I think Rene did wonderful things for Julian; their work is highly connected and I would like to see Schnabel’s paintings hung with Rene’s paintings one day, because, love and war … well, they are connected. That’s a page of art history right there.

ME: What I find interesting is that whilst the book gives the reader a great insight into Rene’s life, I also think it projects a great picture of NYC’s subculture of the time, both high and low brow… the speed of the city, its psyche. I loved all the references to Warhol, to Edward Robert Brzezinski being rushed to the hospital after eating a Robert Gober artwork … All these funny anecdotal stories, above and beyond Rene’s story, yet all part of his world, and also yours!

WR: Exactly. That world, our world, was like a circus with so many rings going on … some of them were badly lit, and some of them were even less lit. I have to say when I left New York in 1996 to go to Europe, I brought the notes with me to Spain; that’s when I started transcribing them. And I said to myself, I don’t know what will happen when all the anecdotes are put in a row – will they breathe? I didn’t know what it would all do, but what had been a thorn on my side clearly became a rose.

a poem on a piece of paper with a drawing

Rene Ricard ‘On the Subway’. Ricard poem 1989. 8 1/2″ x 11″ on photo copy © 2023 Estate of Rene Ricard. Courtesy Willoughby Gallery NY

ME: Well, it’s an amazing way of telling the story of a time, a space, a place, and a stellar powerfully charged bohemian within it all… a mover and a shaker, a real iconic operator. You get a real sense of New York, but also realise how much the art world has changed. How mould- breaking it used to be. I, for one, don’t feel that same sense of art pushing boundaries today. Society and the art world have become more clinical, more sanitised.

WR: To answer your question on the Rene front, most of the gallery people were scared when I walked in because I was so associated with Rene and well, things happened around Rene. And a lot of what happened around Rene was in very select areas, amongst the elite, in a very beautiful but dangerous atmosphere. His friends were Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol… and he had a very strong opinion of his position. Yet, Rene was sleeping on trains. Today, art and money go hand in hand – you can’t be a bohemian anymore in New York City. It’s all about the commerce.

ME: I think there was also less fear of judgement then?

WR: Interesting you say that. Yes. Rene came out of 60s street theatre. These are the people who stopped people in the streets, did things, provoked them, and that was very much part of the fabric of Rene’s life. Of course, now that’s all gone. That was very much the downtown thing, to attack the squares. He truly belongs to a different era.

A collage with black and white squares and a woman's face

The Diamond Thief. Courtesy Willoughby Gallery NY

ME: Interesting that you were one of the only few people in Rene’s world who escaped this vicious circle of homelessness, addiction and trauma. You continued beyond that time, fruitfully, as a painter and a poet in your own right. Do you feel like you’re one of the lucky few who managed to escape that chaos?

WR: I left because somebody was going to get hurt. I also left New York in 1996, because the art world was very cliquey – who was in, who was out. It was just like Junior High!

ME: Let’s get onto your own practice – Peter Frank said that you belong to a generation of American artists ‘reared on images, on consuming them, on producing them, but not controlling them’. Do you agree with that?

WR: I grew up on black & white images.

ME: You were the first TV generation, right?

WR: Yes. Black and white TV, photographs, image reproductions in books… Records were also printed in black and white. So, yes, I agree with Peter because I would drown myself in thousands of images, looking for the one that calls itself the question, the one that did something, that hooked you, that engineered something.

writing on a turquoise piece of paper with vertical grey lines

‘The other side of the mirror’. Poem by Rene Ricard 1988 3″ by 5″ on green lined paper, pencil and typewriter. © 2023 Estate of Rene Ricard Raymond Foye Executor. Courtesy Willoughby Gallery NY

ME: Much like your memories placed in a time-capsule, your artwork, adopts a grid format; you create a puzzle of images and thoughts, and then you recreate a narrative out of it all. Tell us about this approach to your work?

WR: Yes, I make the grid. The viewers then bring their narrative to the artwork; they make up the story.

ME: It’s like hanging your psyche on the wall, but you ask the viewer to make sense of it?

WR: The grids are modules so they can be combined in any shape or form you want… each slot can be combined; I find this process fascinating and I continue to explore the process. I have grids and grids and grids, 4ft by 4ft, 5ft by 5ft… they’re my notes and I love them. I particularly love what they can say.

ME: Let’s now switch to your 90s modular ‘Ava Gardner’ grid mural, an assemblage of painted canvases brought to life through a collaboration with poet Richard Millazzo… letters, poems, photos and paintings…much of which is based on your conversation with the concierge at the Madrid Hilton Castellana hotel, a man who lived through much of the Ava Gardner narrative you exposed. Talk to me about this project and its inspiration. Is it a form of Ophelia sinking into dark waters?

WR: Well Ava Gardner came to Madrid, when she ran away from LA and Las Vegas, Sinatra and the guns. She loved Spain. She was pretty wild. She had the gypsies over all the time, they’d steal all the silver, all the furniture but she didn’t care – they would stay till dawn!

collage of black and white images

The Modular Ava Gardner 2000-2002 Madrid, William Rand. 54 square metres, assembled, mixed media on canvases. Exhibited at Galeria Najera Puerta Alcala 2002 Madrid. Essay by Richard Milazzo © 2023 William Rand/ARS NY

I have lots of notes of her antics jumping on beds, running up and down the hallways naked, ringing up the reception ‘Oh I see you have a new bus boy, could you send him up right away…’ She went through the whole staff! The worst thing was how the piano went off the balcony… and the desk rang up and said ‘Excuse me is everything alright in the room?’, and she [Ava Gardner] said everything was fine, then the front desk said ‘We see the piano has gone off the balcony, would you like to explain?’ and she turned around and said, ‘As you can see gentlemen, this is the finest and most expensive suite in Spain, and we are used to the best. The piano was not good enough, so we threw it off the balcony – it was out of tune!’

I unveiled my Ava project in ‘The European’, this magazine back in the 90s which was in every Ritz hotel in Europe. The American Embassy people came to my opening. Funnily enough, the opening was two days before the one year anniversary of 9/11. The embassy had set up a huge ceremony for Americans, with military bands, speakers… but guess what? My Ava Gardner project took up all the press in the whole country. The embassy said: ‘You stole our press for 9/11! You stole our show!’ But in fact, they were happy for me.

A doodle on a lined piece of paper

Raymond Foye Executor © 2023 Estate of Rene Ricard

ME: What took you to Spain in the 90s in the first place? Why not Paris, why not London?

WR: In the 90s, I had met a lot of Hispanic people in the East Village through the festivals. They would pray to the Virgin Mary and drink beer at the same time! And I said to myself, these people are very relaxed about it all! I also got involved in the Hispanic scene on the Lower East Side. When I arrived in Spain, I didn’t speak a word of Spanish – I had to learn it on the streets. And I didn’t really know anybody but I saw these drag queens, and thought to myself, ‘If I want to get ahead in Spain, I may as well hang out with these people’, so I introduced myself. They then introduced me to all the movie people, and I immediately had a peer group.

ME: Talk to me about your ‘Les Affiches’ project. Affiches were big during the Belle Epoque period in Paris; they were used to advertise military recruitment, political opinions, advertisement etc. What did they mean to you?

WR: It was funny; one of the last things Rene said to me before I left New York, was ‘You know, you would make a great affichiste !’ – I’ve always loved posters, I’ve always loved graphics … the Russian Revolution… the Black Panthers… flat areas, letters and images with volume… Graphics are what move you… they are punchier than art. ‘Les Affiches’ is very much about war, and the price women pay in war; it’s about the spirit of resistance, socio -politically and culturally.

black and white paintings along a road

Les Affiches, 2017-2019, Mixed Media on Wood. Courtesy of William Rand Studio

ME: It seems to me that although there’s continuity in your work, there’s equally a referencing to the past, a continuous dialogue between today and yesterday?

WR: The eternal present.

ME: What are your current concerns?

WR: I’m obsessed with painting with linseed oil, the house smells so wonderful! I love the shiny black surfaces in my new work … I guess I would just say that moving on and continuing is the best reward and inspiration.

ME: And not being afraid to try new things – is abstraction your new frontier?

WR: It’s actually something I never get to do; abstraction is so fun because it’s so different from realism. I’m doing some paintings of the surf at night. I’m interested in the materiality of things, and I’m really not getting too hung up on the images themselves.

painting of gold sand and stars

Guitar player in the surf, 2021-2023, William Rand

ME: Would it be fair to say that you belong to the fluxus generation, with Marcel Duchamp being a forerunner of that movement?

WR: That’s a very good question – it is precisely what I’m doing.

ME: It’s reductive and it’s meditative.

WR: Very right! Albert Fine saw me painting in art school, French interiors, and he said ‘this is not going to do, we’ve got to take some responsibility of you.’ And he went to the art shop and came back with this black spray paint. And then he said ‘I want you to start going to New York, forget about what they’re teaching you here, none of these colours are permitted; what they’re doing to you is criminal and we have to get you back’. So, I got involved with new materials. I hid the work I was doing with Albert when the professor came around. If I hadn’t met Albert, God only knows what I would have turned into!

Read more: Joel Isaac Black: The Coolest DJ In The Alps

ME: Please share your last memory of Rene.

WR: I saw him at the Chelsea [Hotel]; he had just had a show with Ronnie Wood in London. He had a brooch on, in the shape of a pirates’ skull, encrusted with a big dazzling jeweled eye, probably a ruby. He had received a lot of money obviously and had acquired all these fancy things. We were excited to see each other; it had been a long time. But it also brought back memories of why I left the scene.
Wherever there was cash there’d be crap, parties, degeneracy, and as long as there was cash it would just go on for days, Rene and whoever he got involved with. That was the danger. That’s why I left.

A man with a beard and black hair laughing with his eyes closed

Rene Ricard, 1990, photograph by William Rand

ME: Now you’re back in wholesome Maine, are you happy?

WR: Although I had my parents die, my husband die, and I was very sad, I had learned how to read as a child in Blue Hill [Maine], so I decided to move there. This 1840 house was the town funeral home; no one would buy it and it was sitting there for years, empty. I said to myself ‘I’m getting it’ and I truly love the house – the chapel, the front rooms, this and that… I have a private park of four acres, and I’m writing and painting, and couldn’t be happier.

ME: Are you still using the same method of putting ideas in a box?

WR: Oh yes – people tell me so many things and I go home and write them down and put them all in a box.

ME: Any exhibitions planned?

WR: Yes, I have an exhibition and artist-in-residence week late September 2023 at the new Willoughby Gallery in Southold, on the North Fork of Long Island. Pamela Willoughby is an art world veteran, and this new gallery is unique and very cool. Southold is different from the Hamptons, so that is very attractive.

Find out more:

williambakerrand.com

@mainenewyork

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A record-breaking sale at a German auction house is reverberating around the European art market, says Sophie Neuendorf
A blonde woman wearing a black top

Sophie Neuendorf

The 1943 striking self-portrait was hammered down for €20 million ($22 million) or €23.2 million ($24.4 million) with fees —the highest amount ever paid for a work of art at auction in Germany. Including fees, the masterpiece surpassed the previous record for a Beckmann self-portrait, which was set with the sale of Selbstbildnis mit Horn, (1938), sold for $22.5 million with fees at Sotheby’s New York in 2001 (Source: Artnet Price Database). Additionally, the Grisebach sale marks the second highest price achieved for a Beckmann painting: Bird’s Hell (1937–38) sold for £36 million ($44 million), including fees, at Christie’s London in 2017.

According to several witnesses, a Swiss collector, who had bid over the phone via one of Grisebach’s partners, was the lucky buyer of the masterpiece. Self-portraits are the most famous of Beckmann’s oeuvre, and this particular work, a striking painting depicting the artist in a fur-lined robe, was painted while the German artist was living in exile in Amsterdam during World War II. Several collectors in the room bid on an array of blue chip works during what can be described as an electrifying evening. Many collectors had also come to see the evening’s star lot and to hopefully witness a record as the Beckmann piece was offered with no guarantee. Self-portrait Yellow-Pink had been on view in New York in November before arriving back at Grisebach’s historic Berlin villa for the December sale. Most likely, it had caught the eye of several American collectors as auction house specialists notably switched over to English during the sale of this particular lot. According to Grisebach’s Diandra Donnecker, the uniqueness of the work stems from the fact that it is one of five self-portraits to remain in private hands; they rarely come up for sale, and works he painted in exile are even rarer.

A painting of people eating and holding swords

Traum von Monte Carlo (1939 – 1943) Max Beckmann

The Grisebach sale marks a pivotal moment for the German art market, which has steadily gained momentum over the past few years. Sotheby’s returned to the country in 2021 after a hiatus and sales in recent years have been more robust than usual, with more works going for over €1 million. Given the ramifications of Brexit, which is making import and export transactions much more cumbersome, Sotheby’s decision is hardly a surprise. Christie’s has been steadily strengthening its presence in Paris over the last few years and Amsterdam is much smaller in terms of buyer opportunities; so the EU’s largest country in terms of size and economic strength seems the logical choice for Sotheby’s – and consequently, international collectors.

The Grisebach sale on December 1 is more than double the last record achieved in Germany, which was previously held by the auction house Nagel in Stuttgart. Nagel had sold a Chinese bronze sculpture, dating to 1473, for €9.5 million. The record for a painting sold in Germany is held by Grisebach for its sale of another Beckmann work, The Egyptian (1942), for €5.5 million in 2018.

A self portrait of a man in yellow fur lined coat with his arms crossed

Selbstbildnis gelb-rosa (1943) Max Beckmann

For context, let’s take a look at the market. The top 5 German auction houses, in terms of value sold, are Ketterer, Grisebach, Hampel Fine Art Auctions, Lempertz, and Van Ham (in that order). Ketterer’s total sales value in 2022 thus far is over €100 million. After their December 1 sale, Grisebach’s total sales value for 2022 is also close to 40 million USD. But how does the German market compare to its European counterparts in 2022 thus far? Total sales value this year in Germany was $193 Million. The Austrian market recorded total sales of $94 Million, the Swiss market hammered down $182 Million, and the French market recorded $967 Million in sales value.

A graph with lines

One of the strongest European markets, Germany will likely need to record a few more years of growth until it can compete with France and the UK (which hammered down over $1 Billion in total sales thus far). (Source: Artnet Price Database).

Interestingly, German artists have proven robust through global economic downturns and often surpass their US or UK counterparts in terms of value sold. The top 5 most sought after artists, in terms of value sold, are Gerhard Richter, Georg Baselitz, Sigmar Polke, Franz Marc, and Max Ernst. For context, the total value of Richter works auctioned in 2022 is $223 Million in 2022 thus far – which is greater than total auction sales in Germany this year.

A grey painting of people suffering

The Night (1918-1919) Max Beckmann

With a historically strong culture of collecting and a deeply ingrained love and value for the arts, it won’t take long for the German market to become a hub for international collectors. An abundance of private collections in Germany will surely provide ample opportunities for acquiring unique and unseen masterpieces. Many of the most important art collections worldwide are located in the country, and quite a few of these marvelous collections will be transferred to the next generation before too long.

A graph with lines

According to Artnet data, German collectors have historically favored Impressionist and Modern art, closely followed by Post War and Old Masters paintings. Now, these same categories are tied to tedious export rules and regulations, introduced by Germany’s culture minister a few years ago (ostensibly to protect Germany’s cultural heritage). The fourth most popular collecting category is Contemporary Art, which is much easier to buy and sell internationally. With the rise of the new millennial generation of collectors, perhaps the German market is primed for a shift in wealth and collecting habits? According to Artnet data and recent sales, the country’s market is drawing an international audience and is on track to compete with France and the UK. Some notable collections to keep an eye on are those of Ingvild Goetz, Karen Boros, Ariane Piech, Nicolas Berggruen, and Desire Feuerle, to name just a few.

Sophie Neuendorf is Vice-President at Artnet.

Find out more: artnet.com

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An upside down pyramid installation with pink lights on it

Axion, 2022 by Christopher Bauder. The Royal Commission for Riyadh City is transforming the capital into a local and international art hub

Nouf Almoneef of Noor Riyadh speaks to LUX about creating the biggest festival of light and art in the world, in the Saudi capital
A woman wearing a blue headscarf and grey blazer with a black watch

Nouf Almoneef

LUX: Noor Riyadh has engaged some of the world’s most significant artists and curators. What would you like its global reputation to be in 5 or 10 years?
Nouf Almoneef: Today Noor Riyadh is the largest festival of light and art in the world. It is presented by Riyadh Art and plays a central part in the plans to creatively transform Saudi Arabia’s capital into a vibrant, cosmopolitan global city through arts and culture. Noor Riyadh was the first of the Riyadh Art programs to launch, inaugurating what is becoming the project’s legacy of transforming Riyadh into a gallery without walls. Riyadh Art comprises of 10 programs, delivering more than 1,000 public art installations across the city created by local and international artists, and supported by two annual festivals, including Noor Riyadh. Within this overarching program we work to enrich lives through creative joyful experiences, in line with Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 goals.

light up artwork projected on an ancient wall

Masmak Garden by Yann Nguema

The main focus of Riyadh Art, and therefore that of Noor Riyadh, is the people. Over 300,000 visitors enjoyed the first edition of Noor Riyadh, even despite the strict Covid restrictions that prevailed last year. In its second edition, we estimate that over 2.5 million local and international visitors were able to joyfully experience Noor Riyadh’s artworks, installations, exhibitions, talks and family-oriented workshops. Noor Riyadh grew three times in size between its first and second editions, but the number of visitors grew significantly above that and we couldn’t be happier!

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Our wish is that more and more Saudi Arabians and international visitors come to the Noor Riyadh festivals in the future, so may can experience the joy that light brings to the city and its residents.

red squiggly lights in the air at night

Amplexus by Grimanesa Amorós

LUX: You blend local artists with international names. How much interaction is there between the two, and will there be more in future?
NA: This edition’s participating artists come from 40 countries as far and wide as Madagascar, Uganda, Japan, Puerto Rico, Turkey, Poland, France, United Kingdom, United States and Saudi Arabia. They have been selected by the curators in collaboration with the Festival’s artistic direction team. Noor Riyadh’s curators were selected through a competitive process that ensured a balance between international and local representation both for the curatorial teams and participating artists. The festival is co-curated by Hervé Mikaeloff, Dorothy Di Stefano and Jumana Ghouth. The festival’s accompanying world-class exhibition entitled ‘From Spark to Spirit’ is curated by lead curator Neville Wakefield and associate curator Gaida AlMogren.

The teams’ goal was to unite renowned names in light art with an expanding roster of emerging and established local artists. World renowned artists such as teamLab, Daniel Buren, Douglas Gordon and Alicja Kwade were joined by emerging Saudi talent including Basmah Felemban, Obaid Alsafi and Sara Abdu, to name a few. Noor Riyadh’s 2022 theme is ‘We Dream of New Horizons’, responding to a motif that is both literal and metaphorical in meaning. It alludes to the distant glow of sunrise or sunset and the shining light of our dreams, with a sense of hopefulness for the future. Through a sense of wonder, the artists explored the use of illumination, luminosity and their own encounters with materials as staging relations to otherness and hope in the form of light.

lit up poles on a river by sand dunes

One Thousand Galaxies Of Light by Gisela Colon

As the exhibition ‘From Spark to Spirit’ continues through February 4, 2023 at JAX 03 of JAX District, it traces the role light plays in shaping our relationship to a world for which light itself has become the signal of change. Just as the Light and Space Movement in the 1960s California, USA reflected changes in the established order, this exhibition explores a landscape of light inflected by the rapid cultural transformations shaping the Middle East. The show is again structured as a cultural dialogue and example artists include Doug Aitken, Refik Anadol, Larry Bell, Jim Campbell, John Edmark, Walaa Fadul, Lina Gazzaz, Phillip K. Smith III and Haroon Mirza.

As Noor Riyadh grows, we look forward to keeping the curatorial and artistic dialogue going for the forthcoming editions of the festival.

LUX: How and where is the ground up art scene in Riyadh developing?
NA: Noor Riyadh features an impressive selection of both world-renowned international artists being exhibited alongside established and emerging Saudi talent. One of the key art locations in Riyadh is JAX District, the new destination for arts & culture in the Kingdom, where artists work, and where ‘From Spark to Spirit’ exhibition takes place.

We pride ourselves on working with such exceptional Saudi artists as world renowned Muhannad Shono, leading woman artist Ahaad Alamoudi, who grew between the Saudi Arabia and England and Dr. Zahrah Al Ghamdi, Saudi representing artist at the 2019 Venice Biennale. They are joined by performance artist Sarah Brahim and artist and designer Huda Al-Aithan, amongst others.

A silver light pyramid with lights shining through white squares in the dark

I See You Brightest in the Dark, 2022 by Muhannad Shono

Shono is one of many Saudi artists who have made a return to the Kingdom and this commitment to pushing the Saudi art scene forward is reflected in his international presence. The representative for Saudi Arabia at the 2022 Venice Biennale, for Noor Riyadh 2022 Shono captured the ideas of transformation through journeys, presenting I See You Brightest In The Dark, a large-scale immersive multi-room intervention traversing the floors of an a 1980’s building in the heart of Riyadh Malaz district. Alamoudi and Brahim’s performance-based installations are displayed across the city, responding to Noor Riyadh’s 2022 theme ‘We Dream of New Horizons’. Al-Aithan and Al Ghamdi’s artworks are on show at the ‘From Spark to Spirit’ exhibition.

We direct our efforts towards turning Riyadh into Saudi Arabia´s most vibrant cultural hub, as per Riyadh Art’s directives. Day after day, we put our energy and work towards transforming Riyadh into a gallery without walls.

A cube with holograms of people in it

Vibrance by Bruno Ribeiro

LUX: What are you, personally, finding most interesting about this iteration of the festival?
NA: Noor Riyadh firmly believes art is for everyone so, apart from the magnificent artworks on show across the capital, the festival implemented a very strong community engagement program before, during and after its duration. We want to reach people not only through art itself, but also through all the joy it can bring by learning and by getting actively involved in it.

For example, the Noor Riyadh’s Education Program took over 500 schools and nine universities across the city, reaching over 50,000 students. A team of Noor Festival ambassadors visited each one of those 500 educational establishment to give a presentation on Saudi art and culture, foster awareness and knowledge about art as well as generate excitement and encourage the community to visit Noor Riyadh. We are also very proud of Noor Riyadh’s Apprentice Program, as it benefits 15 young Saudis wanting to pursue a career in public art and the creative industries in the country.

The fifteen apprentices selected to participate in the program benefited from the transfer of knowledge and skills in arts and lighting installation, artist studio management, marketing and career development planning. Additionally, the program provided apprentices with the opportunity to shadow artists preparing for this year’s festival. College graduates have also decided to become part of Noor Riyadh’s volunteer program and provide visitors with information on the various artworks and foment a better understanding of their meaning and purpose.

Read more: Visiting Noor Riyadh, Saudi Arabia’s Festival of Art and Light

This year Noor Riyadh held a charity auction bringing together four major Saudi artists – Ahmed Mater, Moath Alofi, Rashed AlShashai, and Saad AlHowede – in collaboration with the charities Aleradah Org, Saudi Alzheimer’s Disease Association, Al Nahda, and International Rehabilitation Team. The artists worked together to produce 8 pieces that were displayed and put up for auction to benefit the charities’ art programs. The artworks went on sale through the Saudi-based art market platform Atrum from November 14 – 15. Having said that, it is our sincerest wish that this edition of Noor Riyadh truly encourages all its visitors to dream of new horizons.

A huge disco-ball with yellow lights on it outdoors

Moon Light Pavilion by Pauline David

LUX: How would you like it to develop? Is your aim ultimately to generate awareness among art collectors, art academia, or more general tourists?
NA: Riyadh Art, and therefore Noor Riyadh, is all about the positive impact art has on people and places. In other words, Noor Riyadh exists to enrich lives through creative joyful experiences. As the festival is citywide spread, going forward, more and more people living in and visiting Riyadh will be enjoying magnificent works of art without traveling outside the city, or making long commutes, or arriving from international locations as all kinds of installations will light the city’s major hubs, both in traditional neighbourhoods and in new, booming areas. We will keep bringing together local communities, from families to artists, students, professionals and more, with international audiences from across the globe.

LUX: What else needs to happen for Riyadh to become a significant fixture on the global art scene?
NA: We have all elements of success in our hands: a balanced team of international and local curators, an ever-growing plethora of world-class artists and, what is more important, a diverse, engaged and excited audience, both locally and internationally. Noor Riyadh has firmly established itself on the global art scene, and our position will be only expanding in the future, gaining more art world ambassadors and admirers. The people of Riyadh and Saudi Arabia are central to meeting these goals, so we will work endlessly to continue engaging them into the many benefits that art brings to their lives and to the city in which they live.

flower artwork on screens in a city

Botanic by Jennifer Steinkamp

LUX: Are there misconceptions about art in Riyadh Saudi Arabia in general internationally? Does the art world observe art with a western eye, and if so is that an issue?
NA: With Riyadh Art programs expansion, as well as other prominent art initiatives in the Gulf region, with the amount of attention to Middle Eastern artists and initiatives I saw at Frieze London this year, I feel that the art world optic became much wider in the last years. The presence and critical acclaim Saudi artists receive internationally, namely at various editions of the Venice Biennale and their increasing presence in the various Riyadh Art initiatives, speaks for itself. It is rewarding to celebrate our artists’ success on the global art scene as well as see international talent create and thrive in Riyadh.

Nouf Almoneef is Project Manager of Noor Riyadh and Architectural Advisor at Royal Commission for Riyadh City (RCRC)

Find out more: riyadhart.sa/noor-riyadh

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Reading time: 9 min
framed polaroids hung up on a wall
framed polaroids hung up on a wall

Andy Warhol’s polaroids framed at Bar Nineteen12 at The Beverly Hills Hotel

To be a fly on the wall at Studio 54, privy to Hollywood glamour and New York nightlife, during Warhol’s heyday is now closer than ever. The largest private photography collection of its sort is currently adorning the walls of the context-appropriate Beverly Hills hotel. LUX speaks to the art curator of The Beverly Hills Hotel and Hotel Bel-Air, Jim Hedges, to find out more about the curation and selection of images

The collection, belonging to James R. Hedges consists of photographic still life moments and memories of Warhol’s innermost circle of confidants and collaborators, from Jerry Hall to Grace Jones, and will now reside on the walls of Bar Nineteeen12, which has reopened just in time to celebrate the Hotel’s 110th anniversary taking place this year.  

The photos taken by his infamous Polaroid and a unique 35mm black and white silver gelatin print, are not only ‘behind the scenes’ moments of a star-studded life, but works of art in their own right that fit in a Warholian canon. From his use of photo appropriation from Hollywood stills in the 50s to use of a Times Square Photo Booth in the 60s, these photographs are decidedly closer to the artist’s hand than in previous snapshots.

Jerry Hall and Grace Jones black and white photo

Jerry Hall and Grace Jones are shown together at the Palladium night club in New York in May 1985. Image courtesy of Hedges Projects, Los Angeles. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

LUX: How did you find the challenge of curating in a space which does not have a sole artistic purpose such as a traditional gallery does?
JH: Art can be experienced in a variety of venues, and white box galleries are often sterile, intimidating and unwelcoming. Showcasing Andy Warhol’s works in a more residential, human-scale environment creates a more initiated engagement with the work and animates the space even more.

LUX: You will have so many people passing through the Bar, how does the curation urge them to slow down and enjoy the photographer?
JH: Each wall is installed with different themes and subjects, such that the visitor is taken on a journey into Andy Warhol’s world of celebrity, Studio 54, his own studio, The Factory, and organized by venues and subject themes.

black and white photo of a topless man sitting with another man at a table

Andy Warhol with Ronald Perelman at the Beverly Hills Hotel, circa 1985. Image courtesy of Hedges Projects, Los Angeles. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

LUX: How did you select the images from the large Hedges IV Collection of Andy Warhol Photography?
JH: I wanted to offer an encyclopedic survey of Warhol’s photograph oeuvre and pulled works which spoke to the best of his images and subjects and were relevant to The Beverly Hills Hotel in some manner.

LUX: Warhol is perhaps not as widely known for his photography; do you think the presentation of this collection will amplify this medium in his pop culture canon?
JH: Warhol was above all else a photographer. He used a camera from the time he was a child and nearly every painting or print he made in his career began as a photographic image, such as Hollywood publicity shots, newspaper images, or polaroid’s he took of his subjects at The Factory. Warhol’s first gestures as an artist were with a camera, and the final exhibition of his life was of photography.

A woman with short brown hair and a fringe wearing a white blouse

Carol Burnett, 1978. Image courtesy of Hedges Projects, Los Angeles. © The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts

LUX: How can these photographs give us a greater insight to Warhol as an artist, and further the wider social scene at the time?
JH: The works provide a survey of Warhol’s photography practice over the course of nearly 30 years giving us insights to his art making process, his social circles, his travels and his singular ability to identify iconic imagery.

LUX: Is there a photograph that defines the artist and the collection for you?
JH: The expansive breadth and depth of Warhol’s subjects show that there is truly a Warhol for everyone. His photography practice is so diverse that it defies limited definitions.

The exhibition is free and open to the public Tuesday – Saturday between 3pm and 11pm in Bar Nineteen12, at The Beverly Hills Hotel

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Reading time: 3 min
Tumbled greek columns on the floor
A room with a green carpet and top of a greek column as seat with an entrance to a dome inside it

Andreas Angelidakis, Center for the Critical Appreciation of Antiquity, 2022, Commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary. © Courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet

Samantha Welsh enjoyed a preview of Audemars Piguet Contemporary’s first superscale commission in Paris, ahead of the new Paris+ art fair this week

For the last decade, the world’s oldest family-owned watch manufacturer has been projecting its legacy and engaging with new audiences through art patronage. Plus ça change, you might say. But in true Audemars Piguet fashion, ‘To break the rules you first have to master them’ and the curators select challenging artists who provoke discourse, promote engagement, assemble an ecosystem. Lending support from inception through development to exhibition, APC nonetheless confers on its artists full rights of ownership to their work and this artistic licence produces ground-breaking art.

a large book with a yellow light on it

Andreas Angelidakis, Center for the Critical Appreciation of Antiquity, 2022, Commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary. © Courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet.

In Andreas Angelidakis, APC turned to an LA-trained architect-turned-artist of Norwegian-Greek heritage who is gay and takes a playful approach to excavating shifting perspectives and societal dichotomies.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

In an artful curation of artist with venue, APC opted for Espace Niemeyer, former HQ of the French Communist Party and oeuvre of futurist architect, Oscar Niemeyer. Venue and exhibition are a conceit, Angelidakis’ installation being a reimagined Temple of Zeus of artefacts nestled matryoshka-doll fashion inside Niemeyer’s structure, itself a UFO-like 11 metre high dome, accessed via an excavated trench to basement level.

A tent with a green carpet and wooden beams

Andreas Angelidakis, Center for the Critical Appreciation of Antiquity, 2022, Commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary. © Courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet.

All this is a metaphor for the visitor’s immersive deep-dive into the personal memories, experiences, mythologies of the artist. Angelidakis points to the subversion of truth through rumour, encouraging us to discern propaganda, celebrate diversity, embrace change.

A man sitting on a half doughnut shaped chair next to some scaffolding

Andreas Angelidakis, Center for the Critical Appreciation of Antiquity, 2022, Commissioned by Audemars Piguet Contemporary. © Courtesy of the artist and Audemars Piguet.

The visitor regresses, childlike, into kaleidoscopically spotlit multi-worlds of ‘let’s pretend’, learning through play by interacting with outsize art-devices. A quasi story-time on the book-chair, a lesson in apocryphal urban myth (or is it reality) conveyed through the story of the stylite and the column, roomsets of soft-play ruins, a fairground mirror revealing us as others see us, and windows onto VR.

Read more: PAD returns to Berkeley Square

Emerging, blinking, back onto an ordinary Paris street, APC shows us that like mechanical watches, art tells you about more than what you see. Both need emotional intelligence and experimentation to be successful.

Find out more: www.audemarspiguet.com/adreas-angelidakis 

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Reading time: 2 min
multi coloured sparkles on circle canvases
A paint brush and scalpel on a table covered in glitter

Studio detail with glitter tondo. Photo by Maryam Eisler

LUX’s Chief Contributing Editor, Maryam Eisler, visits Peter Dayton to photograph and interview the East Hampton-based artist at his studio. Here, Dayton speaks about the intention and ideas behind his artworks as well his relationship with Peter Marino and Chanel

Maryam Eisler: What lies behind the eye candy, the glitz and the glitter?

Peter Dayton: I feel like I’ve reached a kind of pinnacle where it’s just about incredible celebration. And, it’s interesting to me because I don’t always want to make work that looks really good. And somehow this glitter thing, which really shouldn’t have worked, is in fact working. By taking everything out of the picture including figuration, I feel like I’ve really got something that has a lot of meaning.

A man standing by a large canvas of blue squares

Right Blue Wave, 2022. Left Magic Carpet Ride, 2022. Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: What’s even more interesting is that you are not staying shy of beauty, something we don’t see much of in the art world these days.

PD: We’re in a new art world. And, you know, to me, beauty is the law. I do it intrinsically. It just happens. I’ve always been a little left of centre because of that, and it just isn’t on the surface. It’s deep. Peter Marino saw immediately that I had a gift for this ‘beauty thing’ and he just took me under his wing. That’s how and why my association with Chanel has been so great.

rocket shaped sculptured in different colours

The Rockets, 2016-2018. Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: Has the act of ‘glittering away’ all day every day scared you in any way?

PD: It’s a little scary. Yes, because I’ve been spending the past 12 months just doing glitter and, you know, there are bills to pay. But I do feel like there may be a super happy ending to all this. Or, better yet, a happy beginning!

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ME: I was taken by your choice of words and thought association; you said ‘It’s time for celebration!’ This is a positive outlook, also rare these days.

PD: Well, the negative is so real right now, but let’s face it, this isn’t like the bubonic plague. You know, I don’t want to intentionally make people happy, but I do want to give them a chance to choose happiness. So, I make these paintings. The time feels right for it.

glitter on round and square canvases

Studio wall detail, Too Many Planets, 2022. Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: I’m also interested in the idea of space and place. I know you’ve been coming out to the East End [of Long Island] since 1975 and started living and working here full time in 1988. Have things evolved a lot since then?

PD: Yes, there’s been a lot of evolution out here. On a personal level I got married and started a family. And East Hampton as a town has certainly evolved – it used to be dead in the winter. As an artist it was total evolution. I’d been studying art since I was 12 and then ditched art to play punk rock. I basically reinvented myself as an artist out here after living in Paris for couple of years making music.

A man in a grey t-shirt and yellow shorts

Portrait of the artist. Photo by Maryam Eisler

I also happen to love de Kooning, and I love Pollock; I love the idea of all that is anchored here- even before I was aware of all this, when my mother moved here all those years ago and when I started coming here from Boston where I was studying at The Museum School. I always thought, ‘my Lord, this place is beautiful.’ And then I understood the special light that’s out here. I think De Kooning called it ‘double light’. It relates to when the sun reflects off the water, back up into the sky! I don’t harp on it, but, you know, it is very important.

multicoloured lines

Noland, 2014

ME: In your work, I see surfboards. I see flowers. Where do they coincide?

PD: Good question! The flowers started because I had been doing music professionally for ten years, and then I burnt out completely. I went to Paris for six months to find myself and I stayed for three years. And it was fabulous. And I did find myself. ‘Myself’ was somebody who wanted to grow old in his studio, making pretty pictures – but pretty serious pictures too.

Too Many Planets, detail 2022. Photo by Maryam Eisler

The ‘flower’ phase started because I thought to myself, I missed the eighties. It happened by chance. There was a construction site behind my mother’s house. I saw a big dumpster. I went to the dumpster and I looked in. There were hundreds of House and Gardens from the 50s, and I thought, ‘Oh, wouldn’t that be so weird if I made flower collages out of old magazines and seed catalogues’? In a way it was this kind of totally ‘immature-ish’ thing you know, the kind of craft that grandma would do at the kitchen table. So I made one. And that’s when I first showed that work with Paul Morris in 1994 in Chelsea when the area was just starting. There was a really big splash about the work and it went really well. That’s also when and where I met Bob Colacello and where Peter Marino came in. Bob was so supportive right away. The show was more successful than I could have imagined.

A picture of black, white and grey flowers

Camellias for Chanel, 2005. Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: Historically, with the collages, there was a process of appropriation of others’ images which when rearranged, became your own. With these new glitter paintings, however, it’s your own hand at play.

PD: The cut-up method borrows. Taking pictures from a source that you shouldn’t be taking them from and turning it into something – in my case, into something that was weirdly beautiful.

A red and yellow painting with 'Barnett Newman' written in the centre

Surfboards by Barnett Newman, #4 New Generation

ME: And if it’s good enough for Chanel, it should be good enough for most! Tell me about your relationship with Chanel over the years.

PD: It’s been great. Peter [Marino] was collecting my work early on and doing things with private clients and for himself, too. He’s been supportive all the way. It must have been at least 12 years ago that he contacted me and said, ‘I want you to do the interior of the elevator for the 57th Street Chanel store’. And I’m saying,’ sure, I’ll do that’. So I made a map card of all these small Camelia collages. I showed that to him and that’s how he designed it. And then I did one in Beverly Hills. And I think that one is still going. I also did one for the Peter Marino Foundation recently, which is amazing as it’s permanent.

blue and pink sparkles and wooden beams

Studio detail, Northwest Coast Surfboards, and glitter paintings. Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: It seems like you are highly influenced by the lifestyle of this area, in particular anything that has to do with surfing. You then associate your ‘surfboards’ with known art world figures. Please tell us more about this.

PD: I feel like all the artists from the early 50s all the way to pop art were acting with a lot of swagger and they were just doing these minimal paintings that were so challenging. And I have always equated them with surfers, those who go out there by themselves and ride these giant waves. So, I just put the two together. What they did was like a sport. And very physical. And there’s also the American cultural idea of surfing. I’m not a ‘surfer’ but I am a water person. I boogie board and belly board and all that stuff. There’s also that idea of great freedom in the water.

A man wearing a grey t-shirt and yellow shorts standing in front of a large pink canvas

Portrait with glitter paintings. Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: And it all started with Barnett Newman?

PD: Yes, when I saw his painting in the Met, ‘Concord’. There are two pieces of actual tape, which I think he left in the painting. But if he didn’t, he taped it off and pulled it off. I forget. And I said, ‘Oh, my God, that’s the stringer on a surfboard’. Because every surfboard in the centre has a piece of wood running through it for stability so it doesn’t snap in half easily; and I just found that fascinating. So, I went ahead and made one exact copy of the painting, kind of green, and put his name on it. And I remember Robert Rosenblum was alive then. And he said, ‘Boy, these are really odd, Peter. I kind of see what you’re doing, but I’ve never seen this before’. And I thought to myself, ‘Well it must be cool!’

a red, green and white sign that says "Barnett Newman"

Surfboards by Barnett Newman, custom made decal, 2008

ME: Who are your other icons?

PD: Gene Davis. Which is the striped one, he did multi-coloured geometric stripes on canvas. I’ve also done Ken Nolan and Frank Stella. In all cases, I’ve done a facsimile of their works and superimposed their names into the actual surf decal. Dewey Weber is placed in the same script as Barnett Newman. So when a surfer sees that detail, he goes, ‘Oh my God, Dewey, Who’s Barnett Newman?’ Because I also equate the artists in their large studios in Soho all by themselves, smoking cigarettes, staring at these giant paintings with guys in California, making surfboards in their garages; they’re all kind of doing the same thing. Even though one is super high culture and the other is not, they’re kind of the same thing.

multicoloured stripes on a painting

Surfboards by Gene Davis, 2007, collection Carl Bernstein

ME: But that’s what Warhol did- marry high and low culture so seamlessly.

PD: They come together. They always do.

Read more: An Interview With KAWS

ME: You were once part of this band called ‘La Peste’ out of Boston. Music is a different form of expression, but it’s still part of your own language, your identity…two complementary worlds, would you agree?

PD: Yes, I still have the guitar to prove it! And there’s great new interest in my band, maybe even a double album coming out next year on a label in Brooklyn. It’s really exciting. It’s been 45 years …

A guitar hanging on the wall by a small piece of art

Studio Wall. guitar with glitter. Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: Talk to me about your relationship with Peter Marino. He’s been a patron of your work.

PD: Peter’s a genius and it’s a privilege making work for his projects. He’s incredibly knowledgeable about absolutely everything that has to do with art, architecture, music – a total renaissance man. I’ve never met anyone who knows that much and can articulate it in front of you at any given moment. He’s a patron to a number of artists and his support has been so important to me. Working with him is great because he gives me great freedom to do what I want to do and that’s all an artist could ask for.

glitter on a table

Studio work table with glitter and brush. Photo by Maryam Eisler

ME: A final comment from me: I could practice yoga in front of your paintings and just wonder with my eyes. Such serenity!

PD: Thank you. I think the glitter is here to stay, for the world to enjoy. Even though the refraction of light is so busy, there’s a certain calmness to it all. That’s probably what you feel. So I invite you to sit back, relax and lose yourself in it all day!

Find out more: peteredayton.com

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Reading time: 10 min
A large coral in the dessert
A man standing on a pebbled beach wearing a white t-shirt, black jeans and a long coat

Portrait of artist Shezad Dawood at the sea’s edge in East Sussex

Shezad Dawood is seven years into ‘Leviathan’, a mammoth multidisciplinary project centred around our changing oceans. Maisie Skidmore visits the artist in his Hackney Wick studio to learn more about this monumental undertaking

Shezad Dawood is not one to back down from a big idea. “When I first called the project ‘Leviathan’, my partner asked, ‘Are you sure you want to do that?’” the artist says.

It was 2015, and London-based Dawood had begun to draw connections between the perilous journeys migrants were making across the Mediterranean, dominating the news at the time, and the environmental changes taking place under that same sea’s surface. He started speaking to environmentalists, oceanographers, political scientists, neurologists and trauma specialists, bringing together elements of their research on climate change, marine ecosystems, migration and mental health into the beginnings of what would become ‘Leviathan’ – a 10-part film cycle that also encompasses virtual-reality works, paintings, sculptures, textile pieces, talks and symposia featuring scientists and other thinkers. Inaugurated at the Venice Biennale in 2017, seven years on, ‘Leviathan’, the title taken from Thomas Hobbes’ 1651 work and the biblical sea monster of the same name, continues to gather momentum.

colourful cut outs with red dolphins on top

Disposable Mementoes (Dolphins), 2018

As an artist who is drawn to examine huge systems – language, history and legend being a few – the ocean had an irresistible draw for Dawood. “I make the slightly glib comment that calling this planet ‘Earth’ is a mistake, because it’s predominantly water,” he explains. “All life originates in water. Our human bodies are largely composed of it. We’re missing an important trick in thinking about who we are and where we come from.” With so many years in research, ‘Leviathan’ is still growing. “There is a universe of material.”

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Some of the pieces become universes in and of themselves. Take The Terrarium, the 2020 virtual-reality experience mapped out by evolutionary geneticists and marine biologists. It allows participants to step 300 years into a speculative future of the Baltic Sea, which runs from an eroded Kent coastline to the peninsula of Tallinn, on an Earth that is 90 per cent water. This “sci-fi, operatic” world sees the participant become a hybrid cephalopod released from a laboratory to the open seas to explore their surroundings. The immersive soundtrack, Shifter, by British composer Graham Fitkin, explores shifting baseline syndrome (the theory that each generation unconsciously shifts its expectation of what defines a healthy ecosystem). The Terrarium shows both the breadth of Dawood’s vision and the attention to detail in its execution.

A bronze coral structure on a rock in the dessert

Coral Alchemy II (Porites Columnaris), 2022

Other works seek to make visible the effects of climate change that are shrouded by the depths of oceans, bringing the present- day underwater world to ground level. ‘Coral Alchemy’ is a series of giant coral sculptures created for the exhibition Desert X AlUla 2022 in Saudi Arabia, where they were placed in a canyon that, some 10 million years ago, would have been the delta of what became the Red Sea. The colour of the sculptures changes to simulate the impact of rising temperatures on coral, transforming from carbon black in the morning, through their natural colour range, before bleaching fully in the midday sun. “People have become much more aware of coral reefs in terms of biodiversity,” Dawood explains, “but one thing that could be better communicated is their role as a membrane. Coral reefs act as a protective barrier in extreme weather events, such as tsunamis. They are nature’s barrier. If we keep seeing the same drop-off in reef ecosystems, coastal erosion will accelerate, and extreme weather events will have a much greater impact on coastal communities.”

A man standing on a pebbled beach wearing a white t-shirt, black jeans and a long coat with his arms spread out

Portraits by Jonathan Glynn-Smith

Other works focus on the intersection of climate change, migration and trauma. ‘Labanof Cycle’ is a series of large-scale textile works created in collaboration with Labanof (the Laboratory of Anthropology and Forensic Odontology) at the University of Milan, whose team recovers and documents lost possessions – even human remains – of migrants attempting the Lampedusa crossing from North Africa to Sicily. Dawood’s images, painted and screen- printed onto textiles, feature images of cigarette packets, Spider-Man gloves, batteries and tiny bags of earth taken from homelands. In immortalising what is lost at sea from boats that have capsized or sunk, Labanof creates a record of lives lost. It is a programme designed to serve both grieving families and legal and humanitarian protocol.

cut outs on a board

Disposable Mementoes (Crayfish), 2018

The subject matter is alarming. Yet, from enormous tactile images and immersive VR experiences, to the ghostly iridescent sheen of coral sculptures, Dawood’s work remains wondrous, enticing, empathetic. He is quick to mention the many scientists and thinkers who have contributed to it, sharing time and research to help him understand their specialisms.

A large coral in the dessert

Coral Alchemy I (Dipsastraea Speciosa), 2022

As well as communicating these issues of our time, Dawood has become determined to “close the virtuous cycle”. This is done, in part, through sharing information. “There is a web platform for ‘Leviathan’, and I have invited scientific informers to write short, accessible papers for it, bringing the science back to the forefront,” he explains. “We’re also upping the ambition.”

Read more: An Interview With KAWS

In collaboration with Professor Madeleine van Oppen at the Australian Institute of Marine Science (AIMS), Dawood is in the process of creating two grants, to be awarded annually to individuals working in coral research.

A whale sculpture in brown

Leviathan, 2017. All artworks are part of Dawood’s ongoing ‘Leviathan’ project

It is both a chance to pay it forwards, he says, and an exercise in interdisciplinary collaboration. “I believe, increasingly, in an idea of convergence. How do we find ways to coexist, and take the broadest number of people along with us, into a more constructive set of notions of the future? How do we start having those conversations? We need new, fresh ways to think about how people can come together.” He smiles. “I’m an optimist, in spite of it all.”

Shezad Dawood is the official artist for the Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at Frieze London

Find out more: shezaddawood.com

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 5 min
A man in a blue jacket jumping over small hedges in front of a house
 A man standing next to a bleu canvas and a speech bubble on top of his with words in it

Jeppe Hein before a speech-bubble message and chalk panel, elements of the artist’s multimedia, interactive project for Ruinart Carte Blanche 2022, ‘Right Here, Right Now’

When Danish artist Jeppe Hein was given the coveted Carte Blanche commission by champagne house Ruinart, he was determined to create something quite different, by taking art-fair visitors back to nature and making an appeal to the senses. Candice Tucker reports

We are lying on the ground surrounded by by trees, breathing slowly, ever more slowly. The silence and peace is palpable. Stress ebbs away, nature flows through us. There is a gentle waft of incense and the sounds of the countryside.

It is a comforting, uplifting experience, probably about as far from the hubbub and glamour of an art fair as conceivable. And that is just what the Danish artist Jeppe Hein had in mind, when he took us on an excursion as part of his Ruinart Carte Blanche commission.

A man in a blue jacket jumping over small hedges in front of a house

The artist experiencing the Ruinart estate through the senses, part of the responsive idea of his Carte Blanche work

Carte Blanche is Ruinart’s annual series, begun in 2017, in which leading global artists are given, well, carte blanche, to create what they like (well, almost – there are some limits, we imagine), as a tribute to the historic champagne house. The artists’ resulting work, in this case Hein’s ‘Right Here, Right Now’, and a rolling associated art programme (of which we were part in this moment) then travel the globe to be showcased at the world’s greatest art fairs, including Frieze in London and New York, Art Week Tokyo and Art Basel Miami.

A smiley face drawn in white chalk on a blue panel

A chalk face drawn on another panel

At this point, as part of his project, Hein was taking us, an assembled group of the world’s art media, back to nature. We were at the Royal Pavilion at the Bois de Boulogne in Paris, a peaceful setting in a huge park on the edge of one of the world’s great metropolises.

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In that moment, he succeeded, and again, as the nature vibe continued over a meditative lunch in the Pavilion (vegetarian because, of course, the artist wanted us to commune with the world of plants and trees). By extension, the concept of sustainability continued with it.

A man in a white tshirt with a blue picture on it, looking into a mirror as he puts his hand into a hole in the wall

The artist at the exhibition

Nature, and a return to it, is a common theme in both Hein’s life and his often playful experiential art. He was raised on a biodynamic farm in Denmark, and his art has long explored the space between the natural world and what we make of it and from it. He famously declared burnout in 2009 and said he was going to slow down and reconnect with nature. He now lives by the Grunewald forest, a kind of equivalent to the Bois de Boulogne on the edge of Berlin.

People drawing on canvases in an exhibition

visitors contribute to the artwork with chalk drawings

Champagne, meanwhile, is a product of nature, but one that also needs the careful craftsmanship of humans. Unlike wine, it could not occur naturally, as it needs a painstaking second fermentation process in the bottle to become what it is. Ruinart is a champagne beloved of the world’s art collectors. On any collector’s yacht, you are likely to be served its Blanc de Blancs, an ethereal, delicate yet richly seamed creation made of Chardonnay grapes. At a soirée, you will likely be drinking Ruinart Rosé, with its undercurrent of summer berries and autumn woodlands from the combination of Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes.

A man in white t shirt drawing with chalk on a blue panel

Jeppe Hein makes his own mark on a chalk panel

Hein’s ‘Right Here, Right Now’ considers peace, the senses and interactivity in response to the world of Ruinart. At the Palais de Tokyo in Paris, 10 minutes from our lunch, installations included a column with a hole. Put your hand in and a raisin comes out: you must eat the raisin following specific instructions to ensure you appreciate each of your senses. In another column hole, there is a spray of perfume. There are also installations on a wall on which you can draw faces in chalk, so your own marks become part of the artwork – chalk makes up the underlying soil of much of the Champagne region, and is intimately associated with Ruinart. Further artworks feature speech bubbles that carry messages of mindfulness. There is an appeal to all five senses and all four elements.

A mirror speech bubble that says 'Be aware of your small sensations"

a speech-bubble message invites consideration of sensorial responses

The gastronomic side is equally important for Hein. And, we imagine, for Ruinart, as there can be few better accompaniments to very pure cuisine of the highest level than the highest quality champagne, with its clean direction and precision. Five leading chefs are creating a “gastronomic dialogue” with Hein as part of this “nomadic artistic adventure”, travelling during 2022 from Paris to London to Miami, and points in-between. “We invite people to experience Ruinart champagne, the chefs’ food and my art, at a totally new level,” says Hein.

A man wearing a blue jacket smelling a plant

The artist considers the scents of plant life on the Ruinart estate. Opposite page: work from previous Ruinart Carte Blanche projects

What does the artist himself think about what he is creating? “I was very inspired to go to Champagne and see so much creativity, precision and inspiration. There was a link to my own studio, to how I get an idea, or work around an idea and try to make models and express it and, in the end, it comes out. I fell in love with the champagne cellars – they have 11km of them. We walked along them, there was a yellow light and it was eight degrees or something. If you touch the walls they are wet. All these physical experiences got me totally engaged into trying to bring that feel to the art fair, to the experience of people there.”

Read more: An Interview With KAWS

‘Right Here, Right Now’ is, he says, “about the moment of being here. When you take the chalk in the interactive installations and start to draw, you are in the moment, not thinking too much. I’m trying a few things with the sense of smell, which goes straight to the brain and can reflect on something you smelt when you were five. Smell is always activating old memories, which I think is beautiful. When you’re working with all the senses, you can activate a lot of feelings. In my work, I’m not trying to be in your head, I’m trying to bring you into your body.”

It is a quite different experience to the usual art-fair hubbub; one perfectly enjoyed over a creamy, delicate glass of Ruinart Blanc de Blancs.

Past Masters

Since 2017, leading contemporary artists have responded to Ruinart via the champagne house’s annual Carte Blanche initiative. Here is a glimpse of some of the works

People made out of leaves in a field

Lui Bolin, 2018
In ‘Reveal the Invisible’, the Chinese artist created eight almost hidden works that considered the quiet tasks undertaken by workers to create Ruinart champagne.

 

A drawing of a blue bird with a red grape in its mouth

David Shrigley, 2020-21
Across 42 artworks, in ‘Unconventional Bubbles’ the British artist provoked witty debate about nature and raised awareness of the environmental challenges that motivate Ruinart

 

A green and yellow leaf

Vik Muniz, 2019
In ‘Shared Roots’, the Brazilian artist made a series of pieces using Chardonnay vines and other raw materials that form part of Ruinart’s transformative work

 

Find out more: ruinart.com/carte-blanche

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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a man in a blue shirt and white jeans sitting next two women in a blue and a red dress sitting in front of a painting
A man in a cream sweater with his arms crossed standing by a yellow painting

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

LUX is supporting the current private sale at Sotheby’s Monaco by Iranian-French artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar. His latest collection of works, Journey Within, involves inspirations from his travels and previous lives, using his painstaking technique of layers of paint on canvas revealing hints of mystical images and concepts. Quite mesmerising

a man in a blue shirt and white jeans sitting next two women in a blue and a red dress sitting in front of a painting

Sassan and the Sotheby’s team at his exhibition in Monaco

Journey Within exhibition

a group of people at an art event

Journey Within Exhibition Party on Thursday 15th September

This body of work focuses on Sassan’s aim is to take the audience on a ‘journey’ of self-exploration, for humans to understand their capabilities. The paintings presented are born from Behnam-Bakhtiar’s renowned signature style of ‘Peinture Raclée’. His unique canvases are also known to have a romantic Monet-like quality, also reminding the viewer of Persian mosaic craftsmanship, and at the same time, look like pixelated glitches on a monitor, thereby reflecting the artist’s cultural identity and influences of European art history in a contemporary context.

Two men standing by a woman in a purple floral shirt

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim with Madame Lalanne

A man sitting on a chair next to a table with LUX magazines on it

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim on the cover of LUX magazine’s Autumn Winter 2022/23 issue

The solo exhibition will be on view at Sotheby’s Monaco from September 6th to the 26th, 2022, with a contemporary art charity auction on September 16th 2022, hosted by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Ali Jassim, auctioneered by Pierre Mothes, Vice President Sotheby’s France, in aid of the Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation. A unique painting will be created live by Behnam-Bakhtiar in dialogue with the sounds and lyrics of award-winning British musician Tinie Tempah.

three men standing in front of a yellow painting

Samandar Setareh, Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar and Darius Sanai

a man in a blue shirt standing next to yellow paintings

Sassan’s works emerged out of his effort “to paint the energy network that surrounds us”

two men at an event

Samandar Setareh and an art collector

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A woman with long black hair wearing a blue black and white shirt with her hand up in a karate position
A woman with long black hair wearing a blue black and white shirt with her hand up in a karate position

Portrait photograph by Melanie Dunea

Marina Abramović has been tortured and almost killed, by her own audiences, for the sake of her art. She has also redefined the genre and democratised it. The world’s most celebrated performance artist, whose works span five decades, speaks to Darius Sanai ahead of a major retrospective at London’s Royal Academy

In The Marina Abramović Method, a board game-style card set recently issued by the world’s most celebrated performance artist, you are told to spend an hour writing your first name, without pen leaving paper; walk backwards with a mirror for up to three hours; open and close a door repeatedly for three hours; and explore a space, blindfolded and wearing noise-cancelling headphones, for an hour. Some of the instructions, given on large, Monopoly-style cards, are more onerous: swim in a freezing body of water; move in slow motion for two hours. But none of them come anywhere close to asking users to inflict on themselves the suffering and danger Abramović has put herself under over five decades of pushing the boundaries of art.

As she explains below, the Method was intended to take its users away from their phones, and put people in contact with themselves, inspired by her own journey, over 50 years, to understand her own body and mind. Purchasers of the card set can be grateful that Abramović does not suggest they train to become her. The New York-based artist has been lacerated, tortured, cut, stabbed, asphyxiated, rendered unconscious, and more, in the name of her art. She first came to public consciousness in the 1970s with performances like ‘Rhythm0’, in Naples, when she stood in a studio for six hours, provided the audience with implements including a scalpel, scissors, a whip and a loaded gun, absolved them of responsibility, and told them to do what they wished. She did not flinch as she was assaulted, cut, and manipulated.

A woman falling through the air with a green background wearing a nude coloured dress and heels

Marina Abramović in a scene from her performance ‘7 Deaths of Maria Callas’, in 2019

Other performances in the same era saw her render herself unconscious; in 1997 she spent four days scrubbing bloody, rotten cow bones in a performance of protest against the war in former Yugoslavia. Possibly her most celebrated performance, ‘The Artist is Present’, which remains the most significant performance artwork in the history of New York’s MoMA, she spent a total of 736 hours sitting static in the museum’s atrium while visitors lined up to take it in turns to sit opposite her (among those who did: Lou Reed, Björk and James Franco).

So, what would Marina Abramović the person, rather than the silent artist, be like? Catching up with her ahead of a major exhibition spanning her life’s work at London’s Royal Academy of Arts (dates to be announced), I was prepared to interact with someone as brutal and scarred as she has a right to be, but was surprised to find a pleasant, highly articulate, methodical, thoughtful, quick-witted and humble interlocutor. Her thoughts on cancel culture and the effects of social media on creativity are as sharp as the scalpels she once offered the public to cut her with. Her answers are art in themselves.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: I have been playing around with The Marina Abramović Method: Instruction Cards to Reboot your Life.
Marina Abramović: The Abramović method came from my long search for how to train myself as a performance artist to be able to really understand my body and mind. For that, I went to different cultures, I went to deserts, to Tibet, to shamans – lots of places to work in different retreats and to try different techniques. This is really dedicated not so much to artists or performance artists, but to everybody. Everyone – farmers, soldiers, politicians, factory workers, young children – can do this method. The exercises are very simple, which I think is beneficial, and it puts you in contact with yourself. I also liked the idea of creating cards, so they’re playful. You have that playfulness, like in a game: you close your eyes and pick a card up and do the method. This exercise is my effort to go back to simplicity, away from technology and video games, away from all this presumption that takes you away from your own intuition.

A group of people surrounding a rock being videoed

Marina Abramović cutting crystals whilst exploring Brazil in 1992

LUX: Your performance over the years has involved a lot of danger, personal suffering, and challenges to yourself.
Marina Abramović: In my cards, there is no suffering, no bleeding, none of this stuff. I am not responsible for anyone else, only myself. To me, one of the biggest human fears is the fear of pain. It’s interesting to me that if I stage painful experiences in front of an audience, when I go through this experience to get rid of the fear of pain, and I show that it’s possible, I can be inspirational for anybody else. It doesn’t mean people have to cut themselves or do dangerous stuff, but to understand at the same time that pain does not have to be an obstacle. You have to understand what it is and how to deal with it in your own life. If you look at rituals in different cultures, every initiation conquers the moment of pain, and it really strengthens the body and mind. If you’re afraid of something, don’t sit there and do nothing about it, go through it and have this experience. That is the only way you can be transformed, getting out of your comfort zone.

LUX: Are you trying to change the audience through your performances?
Marina Abramović: The only way that I can get all this attention and understand what I’m doing is to show courage and ability at the same time – that I’m vulnerable, but I also have the guts to do it. Two things. An artist should be inspirational to other people. They have to have a message, to ask questions, not always to have an answer. The pain, the suffering, the fear of dying: these are all elements not just of contemporary and classic art, but the history of humanity.

LUX: Were you always very brave as a child?
Marina Abramović: I was. It was not an easy childhood, to start with. I had a very strict, military upbringing. I was also very sick as a child. I suffered from a condition that caused long durational bleeding, a bit like haemophilia but different, so if I had a tooth taken out, for example, I would have to be in bed for three months sleeping so as not to choke from the blood, because it wouldn’t stop. I had lots of obstacles. Being raised under Communism contributed as well – Communism is all about being a warrior, not caring about your personal life, and sacrificing your life for something. When I came to the West, everybody looked so spoilt to me.

A man with a yellow snake wrapping a brown snake around a woman on a bedazzled top sitting on a chair

Marina Abramović in a scene from her performance ‘7 Deaths of Maria Callas’, in 2019

LUX: Does it affect the depth of what modern Western artists can create if they haven’t suffered or seen difficulty?
Marina Abramović: The young generation has a whole different set of problems than I had. Their problem is a feeling of being kind of lost and melancholy, of apathy and a lack of belief. You can’t generalise, and of course there will always be one Mozart in every generation, someone who starts creating art at the age of seven. But the others have a lethargic way of life. Everything is available to them. They don’t need to fight for anything. Computer, video games, ice cream: whatever they want, they have it. When I was growing up, I was allowed ice cream once a month if I was good, and mostly I was not. All of this is different. So, I always see them as spoilt, but at the same time it doesn’t come from them, but rather their parents. It’s complicated. I think it’s important now, the idea of the Forest School learning model. They have it in England. Kids can come to the forest and make their own fires, to find food, to learn simple survival techniques. I think it’s a way of going back to simplicity. Simplicity is the way to survive.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf’s Inside Guide To The Venice Biennale

LUX: Before, in the 1980s and 1990s, people were either creators and artists or they were audience. Now, everyone is a creator. Does that devalue real art?
Marina Abramović: Some years ago, I was invited to go to Silicon Valley to talk to tech people about art, and to my incredible surprise, I found out that they seriously believed that Instagram is art. That was so surprising to me. Instagram is, to me, a very personal way of seeing the world and sharing it with other people. It’s a tool for communication. It’s so far away from art. Art is so different. Also, now, with NFTs and all this new technology, all anyone is talking about is how much it costs and the amount of money that can be made. It has quickly become a commodity. But I really don’t see content, real profound ideas that can move me and bring me emotions, and I think that’s what art is about. [Digital media] unifies people and breaks the borders between countries and individuals, but this is not art. I’m sorry, but it’s not art.

LUX: Has there been a fundamental change in art since the 1970s or 1980s?
Marina Abramović: It is so different. The needs of society are different. In the 1970s, there was so much experimentation. There was incredible freedom in the art scene. Now, we are facing political correctness and diminished creativity in so many ways. So much art that we were doing in the 1970s would never be possible now, because it would be so scrutinised and criticised that galleries and museums would not show it. This is something that, unfortunately, does not help creativity right now.

A woman outside by a tree with clouds in the sky wearing a black coat

Portrait photograph by Melanie Dunea

LUX: Are people stopping themselves from creating because of political correctness?
Marina Abramović: The true artist does not care about this shit. They don’t care. They will always find a way to do things, if not publicly then it could be underground. Historically, that has always happened. Artists cannot stop creating. It’s an urge, like breathing. You can’t question it. You wake up with ideas and have to realise them. This is your oxygen.

LUX: Do you think the West – what we used to call the ‘free world’ – is going to have a movement of underground artists because they can’t express themselves publicly?
Marina Abramović: I really think so, yes.

LUX: You are taking over the Royal Academy in London. What will we see there?
Marina Abramović: The Royal Academy is, for me, a very big obligation – an honour. I care so much about this show right now, because it’s showing what makes my 50-year career. There will be some really important major artworks from each part of my career of 50 years, but also there will be a big amount of new work, which nobody will have ever seen before. There will be a reperformance element, with young artists reperforming my early works, which I introduced some years ago. Some of my contemporaries say a performance cannot be reperformed – I disagree. And then I am also preparing my new work, which I can’t talk about because I’m superstitious, but I’m definitely doing a personal performance. The show is called ‘Afterlife’. I like this very ironical title, because I’m still alive. I have waited a longtime for this show, because it was supposed to be in 2020 but then Covid came, so it was postponed for three years. You know, at my age, three years is a long time, so I’m really looking forward to the fact that finally it will happen.

A woman standing in a cave

Marina Abramović in a cave whilst exploring Brazil in 1992

LUX: If you had been brought up now, in America, compared to when you were brought up in what was then Yugoslavia, would you still be the same artist?
Marina Abramović: I don’t know. I was very happy where I was brought up. At that time, I read all the books that Americans don’t. Not all of them, of course, but generally Americans don’t read. I was very happy with my education. It was so intense. Full of poetry and art and everything.

LUX: Do you still put yourself in as much danger and physical stress as 20 years ago?
Marina Abramović: I have to say, ‘The Artist is Present’ was a hell of a performance and I was 65, my dear. I could never do this when I was 20, or 30. I didn’t have the willpower, wisdom and determination. There was no way. I needed time in order to have the strength. You get strength when you get older and not younger.

Read more: LUX Art Diary: Exhibitions to see in May

LUX: Do you fear getting older?
Marina Abramović: Not so much now – sometimes, when I wake up on a rainy day with pain in my ankles and shoulders, but not generally.

LUX: Do you fear anything?
Marina Abramović: Of course, I fear. Everyone fears things. I have a childhood fear, that if I go to the deep sea, a shark will come and eat me. Even if I go to the ocean and they tell me there aren’t sharks there, I know that the shark knows I’m there and is going to come for me. But that is an old fear from childhood. Like everybody else, when I go on a plane and there is turbulence, I’m immediately writing my testament. I fear. But I think it’s natural, it’s living, you’re living, you’re alive. You’re not immune to fear. Nobody is.

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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A man wearing a grey and black jeans and shirt standing in front of a painting
A man wearing a grey and black jeans and shirt standing in front of a painting

Eric Fischl and his painting Sign of the Times. Image courtesy of Maryam Eisler

Internationally acclaimed American painter, Eric Fischl is not only creating some of the most iconic and of-the-moment works of art, but he is also developing and nurturing a cultural community in Sag Harbor. Here, Fischl speaks to LUX’s Chief Contributing Editor, Maryam Eisler, about the importance of community and its effect on his own oeuvre

Maryam Eisler: The support that you have given your immediate cultural community (Sag Harbor) is notable. How and why did you and April (Gornik) decide to take such active roles in the town’s cultural initiatives? Was it a Covid decision or did the idea burgeon before?
Eric Fischl: It started prior to Covid. My wife April and I were working with a group of people to buy the cinema back in 2014. We went through some very difficult negotiations, and then there was a fire that destroyed the cinema, which made it even more urgent to buy the building because it had lost its landmark status. We had to raise 8 million dollars. The big money, believe it or not, came from successful visual artists, musicians, filmmakers … signalling to me that this was a place where the artists had a say: “We want to have an impact in determining the quality of life and culture in this town.” Then The Church (visual arts centre) became available, and so we purchased that as well. Again, it was about trying to develop a centre of creativity for the community.

ME: Are you now able to see, feel and measure the impact of these initiatives on your immediate community?
EF: Yes. At The Church, we’ve been very conscientious of doing exhibitions which have both an international representation but a very local one too. We’ve certainly found that the local artists are not only grateful to be included in the larger conversation, but they are also stepping up their game to prove it. As far as the town is concerned, attendance at The Church is increasing, and people feel comfortable being there. In the summer, we have a kids camp, and the energy fits the profile of what a community centre should be all about. We’re very excited about that. We’re also in the process of fighting (and probably losing) a battle with big money developers who want to take over and determine the next life of Sag Harbor, without actually having any feel for the place.

paintings in a warehouse

Threading The Needle exhibition at The Church. Image courtesy of Maryam Eisler

ME: What are your thoughts regarding the artists’ relationship with this town?
EF: This is the first time where I thought there’s a real chance where the artists can actually gentrify their own place; there’s a shared feeling that ‘this is the kind of life and the kind of community we want to be a part of and want to nourish’. Developers use artists to attract investors, prices are pushed out of range, and the artists have to then move out. In this case, my hope is, at the very least, to establish artist residency programs that retain artistic presence, whilst enabling creatives to take part of the town’s everyday life, bringing in fresh blood, energy and ideas.

ME: In your own practice, you seem to dig deep into the American psyche, sometimes with an added layer of nostalgia, but I now sense an additional connection with the current political climate.
EF: Well it’s funny because on the one hand, the paintings have become very narrow in their focus, and local. Right now, various scenes are derived from this Halloween parade that takes place here called the ‘Ragamuffin Parade’ which I’ve photographed for many years. I’ve put together these weird scenes of costumed people, and in some, you feel the advent of Covid; some protagonists are in costume, some in medical masks, ironically. One scene looks like they’re coming back from war, on crutches and canes, or they’re just tired or something…

a painting of children in pirate costumes with crutches walking on a road

The Parade Returns, 2022 by Eric Fischl

ME: You have said in the past that the point of painting is to try and find the hidden truth so are you trying to do exactly that, at this difficult moment in time and history?
EF: These difficulties have just been compounding, and for us, here in America, the madness of the Trump administration and the way that it divided the country into such irresolvable anger, is something that hasn’t left the scene, even since he was voted out of office – so, we Americans are dealing with a constant pressure.

ME: Is there a permanent sense of malaise?
EF: Yes. How do you and can you get back from where we are now? To which you add a pandemic, further isolating and terrifying us all. That fear and isolation combined with the political anger has just presented an extremely tough time for us all.

A white church

The Church, Sag Harbor. Image courtesy of Maryam Eisler

ME: How do you reconcile your mission regarding your community work with your own art practice?
EF: I have to say that in our vision of implementing The Church, I didn’t quite realise how much positivity and hope people attach to the notion of community, its nurturing side, its playful side, its creative side. I’m personally not entirely capable of doing that within my own work; my work deals with more existential conditions, of missed connections and unsatisfied desires.

paintings hung up on a wall

Studio wall. Image courtesy of Maryam Eisler

M