art gallery
art gallery

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

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

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

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

Follow LUX on instagram @luxthemagazine

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

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

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

art gallery

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

LUX:  How did you select the artist couples?

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

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

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

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

art pieces

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

Read more: Dakis Joannou interview in Hydra

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

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

LUX:  Had all the artists shown together before?

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

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

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

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

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

art pieces

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

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

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

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

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

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

art pieces

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

LUX: What did you most enjoy about this show?

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

art gallery visitors

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

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

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

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

mucciaccia.com

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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
photographs hanging on a wall with Helmut Newton in white a ona. red background witten on a wall and a projected image on an adjacent wall

photographs hanging on a wall with Helmut Newton in white a ona. red background witten on a wall and a projected image on an adjacent wall

A powerful show at one of Europe’s most spectacular philanthropic art foundations showcases the works of one of the 20th century’s most provocative image-makers

A complex comprising a converted industrial warehouse and storage silos in the far northwest of Spain may not seem, on first glance, like an obvious place for a major retrospective of one of the most glamorous photographers of the 20th century. Helmut Newton’s provocative, lustrous shoots, oozing on the edge of debauchery, were the mainstays of publications like Vogue and Harper’s Bazaar in their fin-de-siecle glory years, creating era-defining stories from the best that the great urban fashion houses of Paris and Milan could offer in association with the powerful media houses of New York and London – and of course featuring Newton’s unique relationship with the supermodels of the day. They were la cosmopolitan La Dolce Vita with a slice of outrage.

An old camera on a table

The MOP Foundation, which LUX visited to see the current “Helmut Newton Fact & Fiction” exhibition, is on the edge of the Spanish port city of A Coruna, in Galicia, at the top left corner of the Iberian Square, and feels a long way from the glamour of the traditional fashion world.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

And yet appearances deceive: the MOP is the creation of Marta Ortega Perez, of the Inditex Spanish fashion dynasty that owns Zara; a powerful effort to place their home city on the global cultural map, it is in a location whose drama and own cultural history would have enormous appeal to Newton himself, one feels.

Black and white photos hung on a wall lit up in a dark room

The exhibition itself shows a breadth to Newton’s works that some may have missed: alongside iconic fashion images are portraits of David Bowie, Charlotte Rampling and Margaret Thatcher, among many others. Newton’s works always have power: the power to shock, in some cases, and to provoke, in others, and the power of sheer visual brilliance, in others.

Read more: If Only These Artworks Could Talk

All are very much on show here. Newton’s works are also very much of their time – a man depicting women and their power in an era of liberation that sometimes now seems at risk, and of course we now live in a post-supermodel, post-celebrity fashion photographer era.

An exhibition room with photographs on the walls and objects in a glass box

The MOP specialises in photography and their work with the Helmut Newton Foundation in bringing this – the third show in the foundation’s history – to life is a fitting tribute to an art form that is sometimes at risk of being demeaned by a billion smartphones.

Helmut Newton, Fact & Fiction, MOP Foundation, is available to view until 1st May 2024

themopfoundation.org

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Reading time: 2 min
A galley with black walls and red paintings
A galley with black walls and red paintings

Works by Thawan Duchanee at The Museum of Contemporary Art Bangkok

Boonchai Bencharongkul founded The Museum of Contemporary Art (MOCA) Bangkok in 2012 to create a space to appreciate the works of talented Thai artists. Here, Boonchai Bencharongkul and his co-owner son, Kit Kanachai Bencharongkul, speak to Samantha Welsh about the Thai artists inspiring them and the growth of the collection

LUX: You are renowned for your drive to succeed in everything you do. Where does this come from?
Boonchai Bencharongkul: When my father passed away, he left me with a significant responsibility – to take care of everything that he held dear and worked so hard for. He was a perfectionist and a self-made man, which made following in his footsteps quite a challenge. Fortunately, being a business student and part-time art student allowed me to blend these two worlds together. Art has given me the ability to think freely and imagine beyond the constraints of economics and commerce. I have been doing my best to excel in everything I do, pushing my limits as much as possible.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

I remember someone once telling me, “If you want to go to the moon, just try to go as far as you can. Even reaching halfway is an accomplishment.” It’s fascinating to see that humanity is now building a space station halfway to the moon, proving that progress can be made even when we strive for ambitious goals. When I was young, I had a strong desire to pursue a career as an artist. I believe I had the potential to become a successful artist. However, I had to make a decision that aligned with my father’s wishes and also helped me manage the debt for our family business at that time. In retrospect, I think everything worked out for the best. While I may not have followed my artistic passion, I was able to make responsible choices that benefited me in the long run.

A man standing by a painting in a blue suit with his arms folded

Boonchai Bencharongkul

LUX: What characteristics do entrepreneurs and philanthropists share?
BB: An entrepreneur is someone who creates businesses or corporations and brings their visions to life. Similarly, a philanthropist must also possess a vision to see what they can do to make a positive impact. Both roles require individuals to have a clear understanding of their strengths and abilities. Additionally, they must possess the skill to effectively manage budgets. It is crucial to avoid situations where a social fund or foundation runs out of budget halfway through a project. For instance, in my own experience with my foundation “Ruk ban kerd,” where I provided scholarships for thousands of students from grade 7 to university graduation, I had to carefully calculate how much money I could allocate and for how many years I could sustain the scholarship program. This allowed me to ensure the longevity and effectiveness of the program.

Kit Kanachai Bencharongkul: I believe that both entrepreneurs and philanthropists excel in the realm of business. It is likely that they share common traits such as being innovative, creative, and skilled in making strategic decisions.

A man wearing black with his arms folded standing in front of a red, black, green and yellow asian painting

Kit Kanachai Bencharongkul

LUX: What was your vision for founding MOCA?
BB: First of all I must admit, it’s not only my vision but Thawan Duchanee’s vision. Thawan is one of the greatest figures in Thai modern art. And he made me a bargain: he didn’t give me a timeline but he said that if I were to make a place where Thai artists can place their works permanently on display, in return I would not have to chase after his paintings anymore. I would be the first to see and choose his paintings – on the condition that I go to all artists’ show openings with him. He also told me in Thai the saying “be those raindrops on the cracking hard soil”, to give life back to the country with these amazing artworks. Our establishment was most likely one of the first private art museums in Thailand of this magnitude. As a result, collectors and individuals who are interested in creating their own private museums can consider us as a prototype or model to guide them in their endeavours. The more museums and art spaces we have, the better it is for the country.

LUX: Is there method in the madness of collecting?
BB: With my art collection I initially focused on acquiring works that align with my own artistic style, specifically surrealism. Additionally, I developed a strong appreciation for Thai art, which was not extensively taught in the US. Beyond these preferences, I followed my passion when selecting artworks. I believe I have a good understanding of art, so I rely on my instinct when deciding which pieces to acquire, whether they are abstract, surreal, or Thai art. I also take into consideration what the general public might find enjoyable.

A white room with white lit up art on the walls

Ramayana masks and Asian masks from the Museum’s permanent collection

LUX: Why are dreams and mythology so central to the Thai psyche?
BB: During the past century, Thailand underwent significant development but also witnessed huge disparities in wealth and social class. In rural areas, it was common for individuals to face extreme poverty to the extent they had no money to feed themselves. In desperate situations, some had to resort to selling their families or animals for much-needed funds. Although it may sound primitive, this unfortunate reality existed. As a result, the dreams, soap operas and the tales they enjoyed became a means of escape, portraying unrealistic scenarios such as a poor village girl meeting a prince from the city. These stories served as a source of hope and comfort in Thai culture, reminding individuals that even in the most challenging and hopeless situations, it is important to maintain a positive outlook and a smile.

LUX: Which artists have inspired your curation journey?
BB: Two artists I particularly admire are Thawan Duchanee and Modigliani. Thawan Duchanee’s work captivates me, and Modigliani’s portrait paintings, with their elongated necks, have a unique and striking appeal. Salvador Dalí is another artist I admire. There are numerous painters who inspire me, and sometimes it only takes one or two of their paintings to make a profound impact. When it comes to collecting, I don’t limit myself to a specific style. Instead, I collect what I personally enjoy and what I believe others will appreciate as well. I strive to gather pieces that have the power to make people pause and truly appreciate their beauty.

KB: Having spent over a decade as a fashion photographer, and having a background in architecture, I draw constant inspiration from the world of photography and three-dimensional spatial artworks. The works of photographers like Tim Walker, Guy Bourdin, Gregory Crewdson, Erwin Olaf and Steven Klein have greatly influenced my creative journey. Furthermore, artists such as Olafur Eliasson, Xu Zhen, James Turrell and Anish Kapoor captivate me with their boundless creativity and innovative approaches. Meanwhile, I also hold a deep appreciation for painters like Rothko and David Hockney, just to name a few

A blue room with paintings on the walls and benches in the middle of the room

The MOCA Bangkok’s ‘Bloom Room’

LUX: As an early collector of multi-sensorial, immersive art, why was this so compelling for you?
BB: These artists have a unique ability to convey the true meaning and expression behind their work. When you experience these works, you can truly feel, see, and be a part of the emotions and messages they are trying to convey. Their art has a powerful way of connecting with viewers on a deep and personal level.

LUX: How is MOCA continuing to grow the collection?
BB: I am currently immersing myself in the rich heritage of South East Asian art, delving into the roots of this captivating artistic tradition. My latest endeavour involves curating an exhibition that explores the earliest moments of Asian civilization, spanning back an impressive 2300 years. Through meticulous research and analysis, I am unearthing fascinating insights from a time when historical records and archaeological evidence were scarce. By studying trade patterns between South East Asia, China, and India, I have discovered intriguing connections, such as the inclusion of a lantern from Rome in the collection of our country, dating back 1500 years. This exhibition aims to shed light on the cultural exchanges and influences that shaped the artistic landscape of ancient South East Asia. Therefore I’m commissioning more works under this theme and topic of this unknown history.

A museum with red walls and black and yellow paintings

More works by Thawan Duchanee at MOCA Bangkok

KB: When it comes to expanding the collection, my personal taste and how well a piece fits within the existing collection are the primary factors I consider. However, my father’s collection is already quite extensive, so my focus is less on acquiring new pieces and more on hosting temporary exhibitions. Currently we curate a new show almost every month, offering a diverse range of art forms, from paintings, to photography, to digital and the performing arts. These exhibitions cater to a variety of audiences, attracting individuals who may not typically visit or be familiar with our museum. It’s truly enjoyable to bring together different crowds and introduce them to the world of art! Additionally, I have plans to collaborate with more international artists for future exhibitions, thereby further enhancing our museum’s offerings.

Read more: Aliya and Farouk Khan on the Malaysian contemporary art scene

LUX: What advice did you offer your son when you handed him the reins of the family business?
BB: My son is thriving, and I take pleasure in imparting daily guidance to him, knowing that one day he will have full control. I aspire to live until the age of 90, relishing the opportunity to continue to collaborate with my son and work together. The museum holds a special place in my heart as I find great delight in being there and contemplating our next steps. Often, I encounter individuals whose elderly parents express feelings of depression and boredom. In response, I inform them that if their parents are over 60, they can visit the museum free of charge. It is my hope that we can contribute to brightening people’s days through the enchantment of art. My sole advice to my son is to continue creating joy for others, as it is our devoted mission to serve the public in this manner.

white building with light coming through

The Atrium Space at the MOCA Bangkok

KB: Although my dad hasn’t completely handed all control of the museum to me (and I don’t think he ever will, as he takes great pride in it!) I am here to assist him in reaching a younger audience and to adapt to the ever-changing world of art. He has been supportive and open to my ideas and contributions to the curations and events we put on. While he hasn’t given me specific advice, he always encourages me to have fun and enjoy what I do. However, this can be challenging, as there is a stark difference between loving and appreciating art and managing the financial responsibilities of running a museum. It can be quite stressful at times but I make an effort to find enjoyment in my work because of my deep love for art.

Find out more: mocabangkok.com

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Reading time: 9 min
A painting of a woman reclining on a sofa, with lots of scribbles
A man and woman wearing black standing in front of a colourful painting

Mera and Don Rubell in front of When You See Me Again It Won’t Be Me (from the “Broadwaybrätsch/ Corporate Abstraction” series), 2010, by Kerstin Brätsch

Mera Rubell and her husband Don were the driving force behind the revitalisation of the Miami art scene. Now the collectors aim to do the same for an underserved area of Washington DC, opening a new museum in the US capital. Mera Rubell speaks to Candice Tucker about catalysing cultural change

LUX: Can art promote cultural change?
Mera Rubell: I think art is at the heart of all communication. Art can bring us together emotionally, which is what we’re possibly lacking in this digital age. We’re probably in greater need of emotional contact with each other than ever. Art has the capacity, through the way in which artists communicate, to bring us together, physically. You’re standing in front of a painting and it is there. It is not flashing, it is not about noise, it is about deep reflection into yourself and into the meaning of the work.

A man and woman with black afros about to kiss

A Natural Explosion! Afro Sheen® Blowout Creme Relaxer (from the “Unbranded” series B), 1973/2007, by Hank Willis Thomas

LUX: What most encouraged you and your husband to become involved in the art world?
MR: First, my husband and I have been married for nearly 60 years. There was no mission, art just became part of our life. My husband was a medical student and I was a teacher. We lived in Chelsea, New York, and artists were painting in empty storefronts and living illegally behind their artworks. We fell into that community. We were earning $100 a week and began to support the artists with a payment plan to buy their artworks. We wouldn’t have called ourselves collectors; we thought ourselves, in a very small way, patrons. So we engaged with artists, spent time in their studios and saw how invested they were. It became an obsession. We felt lucky to have found this amazing way to live our lives.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Why did you choose Washington DC to set up your second museum?
MR: We loved the museums in DC and had bought a run-down 1960s hotel there. It was in a depressed neighbourhood that had been cut off from the rest of the city by a highway, but we fell in love with this building by, as it turned out, Morris Lapidus. Across the street was an abandoned school that had served African American children. It had been shut down years earlier and artists had moved in. We bought the school. When we got involved with the community, we found the school meant a lot to them as it represented a point of their history that was not torn down – Marvin Gaye was an alumnus. When they learnt we had a museum in Miami they encouraged us to do a neighbourhood museum in the school. We said, “Some of the greatest museums are in Washington, who are we to do this?” They said, “Those are national museums. We want to honour the legacy of this building.” It took 16 years to renovate it. Now we have a programme where any alumnus can return, pick a room with their favourite art in it and tell their stories.

Colourful rainbow artworks in a gallery with light coming through the windows reflected on the ground

Installation view of work by Vaughn Spann at the inaugural group exhibition “What’s Going On”, 2022, Rubell Museum DC

LUX: Do you work differently in each city?
MR: We’re not simply going to take work from Miami to DC. We’re going to find ways to connect with Washington’s history and connect art being made right now to the historical richness of its museums. We were surprised by the welcome all these museums gave us. They appreciate us bringing young kids to DC.

LUX: What factors make an art destination?
MR: Last week in DC, we had a call from the President of Ghana’s office saying they would like to visit. That’s Washington, you never know who will call. Politicians who normally don’t have time to engage with art are starting to. Let’s hope they find more time. You have an educated global crowd and every non-profit there – all people who affect the world. So you hope a contemporary museum with the voices of creative people has an impact. I trust it will. Miami is different. We have tourists from all over the world. It is an exploding metropolis that became a cultural destination. That is the miracle of Miami – and it happened with art. We’re proud to have participated. In DC, we are plugging a museum into an historic building that means a lot to the community. They have seen the demolition of so much of their history and are proud to keep whatever they can of their legacy. We are now part of that.

A tryptic African style painting of figures

L’Incroyable Traversée d’Abdoulaye Le Grand, Troisième de la Lignée, 2022, by Alexandre Diop

LUX: Is it the artist, collectors or people in the community that shape an art community?
MR: All of the above. Hillary Clinton said it: it takes a village. It starts with having talent and giving it freedom and support. You have a lot of young people committed to that and to providing a living for artists. We talk about artists, but there are also writers, curators and teachers. You also need commitments across international borders to support artists. Even art fairs – don’t underestimate their power – and auction houses, they are all part of the mix.

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf’s predicted art trends for 2024

LUX: If there was one thing you could change about the art world, what would it be?
MR: I wish there were more affordable spaces for artists to work and live. The abandoned neighbourhoods were perfect places for artists to reinvent. Now populations are growing and it is hard to find neighbourhoods no one has discovered. That was what artists did. Those neighbourhoods have now been demolished or are occupied by people who are desperate, as seen with all this terrible homelessness.

A painting of a woman reclining on a sofa, with lots of scribbles

Honi soit qui mal y pense, 2022, by Alexandre Diop

LUX: What new artists interest you today?
MR: So many! Our artist in residence last year was Alexandre Diop and, oh, what a talent. We pick one artist a year to live and work with us and it is amazing what they do. Alexandre is French – born in Paris to a Senegalese father and a French mother. He’s a dancer, a poet, a musician, and the work he makes is out of control.

Find out more: rubellmuseum.org

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

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Reading time: 5 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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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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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.

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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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Yayoi Kusama Statue at the Veuve Clicquot Exhibition. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

Maison Veuve Clicquot has brought its travelling exhibition to London this May. Trudy Ross stepped out to Piccadilly Circus to interview CEO Jean-Marc Gallot amidst sunflowers, paintings, sculptures, and that iconic gleaming yellow 

LUX: Queen Victoria was the first British royal to order a direct shipment of Veuve Clicquot in the 19th century. Now in 2023, with a new monarch having just been crowned, the brand still has this presence in the heart of London. Can you speak to the brand’s long history with the Royal Family?

Jean-Marc Gallot: It is a very, very, long history. I think the first shipment for the royal family was in 1868. In one of the exhibition rooms upstairs we have a menu made especially for Queen Victoria’s son, Edward the 7th Prince of Wales. He gave us the Royal Warrant in 1905, so, I would say, we have a very strong link and history with the UK.

The Maison was created in 1722, so we celebrated 250 years last year. The first shipment to the UK was in 1773, 250 years ago. So there is a long, long story between Veuve Clicquot and the UK. Out of the nine female artists we have here, two are British. We have Cece Philips and Rosie McGuinness, who have created their own portraits and interpretations of Madame Clicquot.

LUX: Throughout these 250 years, what do you think has changed about the brand and what has remained the same?

JMG: What remains today and will continue to remain, is the fact that we have an incredibly inspiring woman at the centre of our history. Madame Clicquot at her time was so courageous, determined, and audacious. She was a widow at 27 years old but her spirit, her audacity, and also this idea of being solaire, being radiant, is what remains in everything we do. It is a state of mind. Everyone from myself, the CEO, to my team, to everyone you will see here today from Maison Veuve Clicquot, works with this state of mind. I think it’s super important to have this spirit of being solaire, audacious and always surprising people. That is not going to change.

Display of Veuve Clicquot’s iconic designs through the years. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

What has changed? I would say that when you are so linked with the contemporary and the people around you, you also have to be very curious and try to evolve. So an example is right here: you have the very first ice jacket made by Veuve Clicquot. This first one was made 20 years ago out of diving costumes, but the ones we make now are made by the Saint Martins School of Business of 100% recycled plastic and this mono-material approach uses on average 30% less material than regular production. You can look at things we made 20 years ago and think, yes, this is nice, but we must continue to innovate, to respond to the times and move forward. Every single box that we make now in Veuve Clicquot is made out of 50% recycled paper and 50% hemp (not the hemp that people smoke!).

What we want to show here is that we have some duties to the world we live in. Not everyone is aware of the need for these things, so as a major brand we can help to act as an exemplar. This is what I am hoping to build with my team.

LUX: Your champagnes are offered at a range of price points. How do you balance keeping its luxurious and exclusive reputation whilst also ensuring it is accessible to a wider audience?

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

JMG: I have been working for 34 years in the luxury world. I worked at companies like Louis Vuitton, Cartier, Fendi, wonderful luxury names, and I know that luxury, for some people, means something that is not easy to get or seems unapproachable.

I don’t agree with that viewpoint at all. We have a collection of products, starting with the iconic yellow label, Brut, which is the most famous bottle of Veuve Clicquot, then you go to La Grande Dame which is at a much higher price point. Both of them however, embody the spirit of Clicquot, so it’s not a matter of price, it’s a matter of how desirable your brand is and how much you have built around the brand.

Take an exhibition like this, running for 3 weeks in the heart of central London. Some people in this area are on their way to very nice upmarket restaurants, and some are on their way to Tesco. Both will pass the exhibition, they will see these artists and learn about Madam Clicquot’s story, and then they will understand the dream, the spirit and the history of Veuve Clicquot.

Outside the Veuve Clicquot exhibition in Picadilly Square. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Can you tell us about the importance of art and the art world to Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: Actually, we are not really in the art world; I would say that we are in the design world. Design is not art, it is the way of making a beautiful object which is also functional, or building something beautiful around an object. When you sell bottles of champagne you have to build something really extraordinary. We love the beauty of objects and we believe that in champagne, since you have something precious inside the bottle, you have to make the outside of the bottle exciting as well. So we constantly are looking for the next idea, and there is no set recipe. It has to be a surprise, because more than anything else, we love the element of surprise.

LUX: Beyond this all female exhibition, Veuve Clicquot has many initiatives supporting gender equality, including supporting women entrepreneurs through your Bold Woman Award. Can you tell us more about this aspect of the brand?

JMG: This is the spirit of Veuve Clicquot. Fifty-one years ago one of my predecessors thought, what can we do for the 200 year anniversary of Maison Clicquot? They had an incredible inspiration and vision and said, why don’t we celebrate the spirit of woman entrepreneurs, why don’t we shine light on some inspiring women?

What we found out through running the Bold Woman Award was that for women there are many social barriers standing in the way of them running their own company or being independent. Veuve Clicquot is trying to fight against this because we believe there should be as many women entrepreneurs as men entrepreneurs.

The statistic is the following: 92% of women entrepreneurs believe and admit that they would love to have a role model, and only 15% of them can name one off the top of their head. We want to change this and help to inspire women. The first very inspiring woman entrepreneur was Madame Clicquot, and for the last 220 or 230 years, there have been many more women entrepreneurs that we want to shine a light on. It’s about sharing, inspiring and making the world more balanced between men and women.

Cece Phillips, Window Clicquot, 2022.Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: What is Madame Clicquot’s story and why is it so important to the brand?

JMG: You are in 1805 in France, in a very traditional, even noble family. You have faced a lot of challenges because twenty years ago was the French Revolution. You have a very nice husband who you love and a very severe and traditional father in law. Then you become a window overnight. Imagine: you basically don’t exist anymore. What are your options?

You could find another  husband, but instead you say “no, I’m going to take over the company. I’m going to run the company.” Everyone tells you not to, starting with your father-in-law. He says you are not capable of it, you cannot do it, you will not succeed at it. So, you are stuck.

If I had to describe Madame Clicquot, I would say she was  incredibly courageous, incredibly audacious and took huge risks. She teaches us that if you want to do something, just go for it. Never surrender.

LUX: The artworks that are on show here are reimagined portraits of Madame Clicquot. Can you tell me a little bit more about which ones are your favourite, and which one you think speaks to the values of Veuve Clicquot?

JMG: I have to say that I have a love for the Cece Phillips portrait in particular. You have the whole story there. You have a young woman sitting at her table, you see the vineyards through the window, you see that she is studying, very focussed but also very determined. She was writing a lot at the time, writing ideas, writing about the company. She was not travelling, but she was sending letters to all the customers around the world. This and the light, the vibrant, sunny appearance of it all, this is Clicquot.

I have to say, the portrait we have of Clicquot was taken when she was 84 years old and she looks a little bit severe! With all do respect to 80-year-old women, this was maybe not Madame Clicquot at her strongest period of life. Cece Phillips gets it all in one painting, you have the whole story in one, so it’s better than words.

Ines Longevial, Ghost Guest, 2022. Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Beyond the artworks, what else interests you about the exhibition?

JMG: The statue of Yayoi Kusama is pretty impressive, but my favourite piece today here in London, which is not really in touch with the exhibition itself; it is the Sunny Side Cafe. I love it because this is actually when Clicquot meets British tradition and British culture.

LUX: The exhibition has been in Tokyo, Los Angeles, and now London. Where is next?

JMG: We started in Tokyo in June last year, and then we did three weeks in Los Angeles, and now it’s three weeks in London. Next year, we might go somewhere else, perhaps a continent we have not been to yet, perhaps South Africa.

LUX: What was the decision-making process behind choosing these three cities?

JMG: These are the three most important market places for Veuve Clicquot. I loved the idea of being in Tokyo because Japanese people are so refined. Then we went to the US and we didn’t want to go to New York because we thought we were going to be lost, and we love the vibes of LA so we went there. When we went to Europe we didn’t look for France – can you imagine me, a French guy, saying that! – but we decided to take it to London.

Yayoi Kusama, Twist with Madam Clicquot! Courtesy of Veuve Clicquot

LUX: Would you take it to France and if not why?

JMG: No, for a few reasons, actually. First we love to speak about our brand outside of our own country, and second because the UK is very important to us, and also because there are some legal constraints in France which wouldn’t allow us to make such an impression in an exhibition like we have here.

LUX: You have a lot of tradition and history behind you. In today’s market, with the younger generation coming up, what do you think are the key changes and the key ways that you’re going to have to adapt as a brand to appeal to these younger consumers?

JMG: We are a luxury maison, and I’m a strong believer that luxury is about what you offer rather than just marketing fast-moving consumer goods. We talked about how to surprise people, how to make people dream and feel that they are getting something that they are really inspired by. My point is that if we keep on being ourselves, being super creative and bringing excitement, I think that we can offer things that people will discover and appreciate, even if they are not tailored to their tastes.

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

If we start to do it the other way round and try to anticipate what it is that people expect, what they want or think they need, we lose our spirit and our soul. Of course, we need to listen to the younger generation, look at what they do, and how they behave to a certain extent. However, I don’t want to be obsessed with creating something that people will expect.

Find out more: solaireculture.veuveclicquot.com

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Reading time: 10 min

Vik Muniz, Woman of Algiers, after Pablo Picasso (Surfaces), 2022

Brazilian artist and photographer Vik Muniz’s most recent series Surfaces is currently on display in the FOTOCUBISMO exhibition at Ben Brown Fine Arts in Mayfair, London until 26th May.

Born in Sao Paulo Vik Muniz’s abstract studies of shape and form recall the Cubism of Pablo Picasso and Fernand Léger, but he also integrates his own personal style and techniques. Speaking to LUX, he described Cubism as: “…a response by artists to the hegemonic influence of photography on the way we see the world. They saw something in the world that was more complex, more human, and more multifaceted, and to go back after such a long time and use the same medium, the medium of photography, to reinsert this power of questioning to Cubistic images seemed like a challenge but also it just became an extension of what I was doing earlier.”

Vik Muniz, Still Life 2, after Giorgio Morandi (Surfaces), 2022

In this series, Muniz uses a hybrid approach, photographing his own paintings and collages which are often inspired by iconic images from art history, from Otto Freundlich’s works to those of Burle Marx. The resulting photograph is then edited and reassembled to create the final piece, one of many layers and textures, which mixes the mediums of photography and painting and calls the viewer to question the nature of their own perception. In this way, Muniz presents a study on ways of looking and seeing, while also exploring the reality that lies beneath the surface.

Vik Muniz, Dora Maar with Cat (Surfaces), 2022

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

On his Surfaces series, Muniz told LUX: “The idea is that the pictures are filled with layers of meaning that shift the pictorial plane and the objective is to cause a lot of ambiguity. So whatever you see as a piece of paper may just be a picture of a piece of paper. I hope to create a lot of confusion in the gaze of the viewers, and that it becomes not only entertaining but also revealing of what they are hoping to see in a picture.”

Vik Muniz, Guernica, after Pablo Picasso 2 (Surfaces), 2022

Muniz has gained international recognition for his distinctive approach of creating compositions using unconventional materials such as chocolate, sugar, garbage, diamonds, caviar, toys, junk, scrap metal, dry pigment, vintage postcards and even dust. His work often blurs the line between reality and representation, compelling viewers to question what they see. With numerous accolades and exhibitions in prestigious galleries and museums worldwide, Muniz continues to push boundaries, challenging conventional notions of materiality and visual representation. His work is included in major collections such as the Museum of Modern Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Art Institute of Chicago; Museum of Contemporary Art, Tokyo; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and Tate, London.

Vik Muniz, Nude Descending Staircase, after Marcel Duchamp 2 (Surfaces), 2021

Read more: 6 Questions: Valentina Volchkova, Head of Pace Gallery, Geneva 

Vik Muniz: FOTOCUBISMO is the fourth solo exhibition presented at the Ben Brown Fine Arts gallery. The gallery opened in 2004 in the heart of Mayfair and positioned itself on the contemporary art scene, as well as becoming known for its exhibitions of 20th century artists. In 2009, they opened up a second gallery space in Hong Kong, with another in Palm Beach launching in 2021.

Vik Muniz: FOTOCUBISMO is on display until 26th May, 2023

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Reading time: 3 min
people standing together in different coloured outfits gathering for a photo with a pink champagne case
people standing together in different coloured outfits gathering for a photo with a pink champagne case

Left to right: Darius Sanai, Audrey bazin, Maria Sukkar, Frédéric Rouzaud, Rita Kamale, Nadja Swarovski and Brandei Estes

A crowd of the leading movers and shakers from the worlds of art and sustainability gathered at the Nobu Hotel in Portman Square to celebrate the Louis Roederer Photography Prize 2023, created by our sister company Quartet Consulting. High-profile guests included Guy Weston, Ina Sarikhani, Brandei Estes, Jessica Hodges, Maria Sukkar and Nadja Swarovski, among many others

A woman wearing a blue blazer and white t shirt holding a glass of champagne

Carrie Scott

A man wearing a hat with a beard on a screen next to a pink case of champagne

M’hammed Kilito giving his video message to the audience having won the award

A woman wearing a red top standing next to a woman wearing a black top

Left to right: Maria Sukkar and Ina Sarikhani

The Prize, now in its second instalment, was established by LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai and Louis Roederer CEO Frédéric Rouzaud under Quartet Consulting, to recognise outstanding contemporary photographers with a focus on sustainability and environmental issues.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Thirteen art world luminaries from across the globe were each asked to nominate three photographers to submit their works. An esteemed panel of judges including Maria Sukkar, Maryam Eisler, Brandei Estes, Alan Lo, Audrey Bazin, Nadja Swarovski, Sophie Neuendorf, Azu Nwagbogu and the Chair, Darius Sanai, then selected six entrants to make up the shortlist, which was then narrowed down to three finalists.

Three men wearing suits and the man in the middle holding a pink case of champagne

Left to right: Darius Sanai, runner up, Yasuhiro Ogawa and Frédéric Rouzaud

Three women standing together with two on either side holding champagne glasses

Left to right: Brandei Estes, Nadja Swarovski and Carrie Scott

three women standing with a man for a photograph

Left to right: Ilaria Ferragamo, Maria Sukkar, Franck Namy and Véronique Namy

This year’s finalists were the exceptional Hengki Koentjoro, M’Hammed Kilito and Yasuhiro Ogawa, each with a unique take on the awe-inspiring landscapes and tender humanity surrounding the issue of sustainability. They all received a magnum of Cristal, made by Louis Roederer from 100% biodynamically farmed grapes, and their work will be displayed at the White Box, Nobu Hotel Portman Square, London, from 11th May until 1st June.

M’Hammed Kilito was announced as the winner by Frédéric Rouzaud in the Nobu Bar to an excited throng of guests for his series ‘Before It’s Gone’, a meditation on the issue of oases degradation currently taking place in Kilito’s home country, Morocco.

an art gallery with photographs on the wall

The works of the finalists on display at the White Box Gallery at the Nobu Hotel London, Portman Square

champagne bottles in an art gallery

The Prize is run by the Fondation Louis Roederer to raise awareness around sustainability issues through photography

Upon receiving the award, Kilito commented: “I would like to say how absolutely honoured to receive the Louis Roederer Prize for Sustainability. I am so honoured to receive the Prize because I believe it is a very important one, highlighting the work of visual storytellers, and the issues of climate change and sustainability which are very close to my heart.”

 

Read more: Rock legend Graham Nash on collecting photography

Two men standing next to women wearing pink and red

Left to right: Durjoy Rahman, Darius Sanai, Audrey Bazin and Maria Sukkar

A woman wearing a red coat holding a glass of champagne standing next to two men in shirts and blazers

Left to right: Nadja Swarovski, Frédéric Rouzaud, Darius Sanai

A bald man wearing a scarf standing next to a women with her hair in a bun wearing a purple floral top

Left to right: Michel Ghatan and Helen Ho

The exhibition of the works of  M’hammed Kilito, Hengki Koentjoro and Yasuhiro Ogawa are on display at the Nobu Hotel London Portman Square until 1st June

 
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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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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.

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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
a red art work with patches of other coloured paint on it
Painting of people playing tribal instruments

The Picture, 2002, by Shishir Bhattacharjee. This painting was sent to the exhibition by the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation following collection from the artist

For one of the first times in history, the Sharjah Art Foundation has opened a major exhibition displaying pop culture modern and contemporary art from South Asia, titled Pop South Asia: Artistic Explorations in the Popular. Using humour, the works display the difficult issues that individuals and societies face on a daily basis

The exhibition, organised by Sharjah Art Foundation in collaboration with Kiran Nadar Museum of Art (KNMA) has brought together 40 intergenerational artists from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan and the diaspora, creating a show with over 100 artworks.

black and cream painting of people crowded together

Could have been the story of a Hero, 1987, by Shishir Bhattacharjee. This painting was loaned by the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation collection

Whilst there is a wide range of the style of art being spotlighted in the show, from  print, cinematic and digital media to more traditional crafts and folk culture, all the artists, have a common theme running through their works: local capitalism. The works are accompanied by comments on identity, politics and borders.

A yellow, red and green of painting of women and men wearing army uniforms

In the Time of Pregnancy, 1990, by Dhali Al-Mamoon. This painting was sent to the exhibition by the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation following collection from the artist

Curated by Iftikhar Dadi, artist and John H. Burris, Professor at Cornell University and Roobina Karode, Director and Chief Curator of the KNMA, Pop South Asia: Artistic Explorations in the Popular highlights the results of capitalism and media continuing to modernise and urbanise, not only in South Asia but on an international scale.

The show will be on display at Al Mureijah Art Spaces in Sharjah until 11th December 2022 after which it will be moved to the KNMA

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

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Art works that look like plants in a gallery
a woman wearing a white shirt sitting on a brown chair

Founder of Fondation Thalie, Nathalie Guiot

The Brussels-based French founder of Fondation Thalie is from one of France’s biggest retail families. Nathalie Guiot speaks to LUX about the need for an all-round vision in facilitating arts and culture to support sustainability and biodiversity – and why you shouldn’t call her a philanthropist. Interview by Anne-Pierre d’Albis-Ganem

LUX: What prompted you to start your foundation?
Nathalie Guiot: The aim was to support contemporary art linked to societal issues with three objectives. To give more visibility to female artists, as I don’t think they are represented enough; to promote dialogues between visual and savoir-faire craft, such as ceramics and textiles – I come from a family of entrepreneurs in retail and textiles; and to be involved in the ecological transition, to invite artists and scientists to create new narratives to call for action. It’s a multi-disciplinary foundation connected to new narratives, contemporary writing, new forms of creative writing, as well as visual arts and ecological transition, and how we can address this urgent topic.

Art works that look like plants in a gallery

Artworks by Kiki Smith at her solo show at Fondation Thalie

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Do you think of yourself as a philanthropist?
NG: I come from a family where we don’t really use that word. I don’t know why – it’s more like we are taking action, but we are not considering it as philanthropy, even if it is actually philanthropy. It’s a way of interacting with contemporary art creation now and how can we help these artists make their projects.

LUX: How can artists address the environmental issues?
NG: I think they have a vision that we don’t have. They have a vision to
project what the future will be. I think about Tomás Saraceno… it’s not only visual art, it is also in cinema, like the amazing film maker Cyril Dion. He just came out with a new movie called Animal talking about the end of biodiversity.

Nathalie Guiot speaking to a group at the Kiki Smith exhbition at Fondation Thalie

LUX: You are involved with artists and biodiversity.
NG: Right now, it’s more about conversations online, and from these conversations we will publish a book of 12. It’s about supporting people who are doing things. We are partners of the festival Action for Biodiversity in Arles at the end of August. I am also involved in the family business, which is Decathlon (the French sports retailer), as a board member of the Transition Committee. We’re working with the École des Arts Décoratifs in Paris, on a three-year research programme for the next generation of designers. It focuses on how to create products without destroying natural resources. Artists and designers will work with mycelium, for example. It will be inaugurated in September.

an artwork on a wall with a lamp hanging by it

Artwork by Kiki Smith

LUX: Is it a duty or a privilege for those with means to support the arts, given the pressures on public sector funding?
NG: I think it is a privilege to commission artworks, and to enable the creation of a community of patrons and collectors sharing the same passion! More than ever, we need creativity and poetry regarding our dramatic political context of the war in Ukraine. I am grateful to enable the support of artists in this context of a private foundation and to build this art collection over time.

A white building with an orange roof and blue sky

Fondation Thalie

LUX: What changes have you seen around the ecosystem of supporters of the arts/philanthropists, foundations, and museums in the past five to 10 years?
NG: They are more present and active – in particular, in Brussels. When I arrived 18 years ago, there were no galleries, artist-run spaces or contemporary centres. Nowadays, even my baker has an artist-run space!

Read more: Marina Abramović: The Artist As Survivalist

I am kidding, but Kanal Centre Pompidou (museum) has opened in an old car factory downtown, Wiels (contemporary art centre) has a cutting-edge programme of exhibitions, and numerous other galleries and private foundations are there now. Brussels is becoming the place to be!

Find out more: fondationthalie.org

This article appears in the Summer 2022 issue of LUX

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Reading time: 3 min
A man painting by a window with a skyscraper outside
A man painting by a window with a skyscraper outside

Artist Jared Owen during his residency at the World Trade Center. Photo by Josh Katz

With the support of Silverstein Properties, Silver Art Projects was founded by Cory Silverstein and Joshua Pulman in 2018. Here, the two philanthropists speak to LUX Contributing Editor, Samantha Welsh, about providing a space for underrepresented artists in an iconic location, the World Trade Center, New York City.

LUX: How did you meet?
Cory Silverstein: It’s a really interesting story! Joshua and I met in college and bonded over art. I was exploring a work I was interested in by Julio Le Parc, and I knew Joshua was very knowledgeable about art – so I approached him one day in the library. That is how our friendship and interest in supporting artists started.

LUX: Who or what were your inspirations?
Cory Silverstein: My grandfather, Larry Silverstein, and Michael Bloomberg are two of my biggest inspirations, largely for their philanthropic endeavours that focus on the arts in New York City. Our residency program Silver Art Projects was primarily inspired by K11 in Hong Kong and Manifesto in Paris.

Two men standing with masks on in a lounge in a skyscraper

Cory Silverstein and Joshua Pulman at the opening of the World Trade Center Artist Residency

LUX: What drove you both to found Silver Art Projects?
Cory Silverstein & Joshua Pulman: We observed a great demand for studio space in Manhattan as artists have been forced to move further and further from the galleries they work with and the institutions who that inspire them. We wanted to support these artists, and together with the commitment of Silverstein Properties to nurturing art in Lower Manhattan, we were able to establish Silver Art Projects.

LUX: How would you say you are disrupting arts patronage?
Joshua Pulman: We are providing access to some of this country’s most premier real estate to a group of up-and-coming artists, all made possible by the generous support of foundations and individuals as well as unique corporate social responsibility efforts from companies in the area. In this way, we have been able to enhance the neighbourhood while supporting artist communities beyond it.

New World Trade Centre

Larry Silverstein was the developer of the rebuilt World Trade Center complex in Lower Manhattan. Photo by Julie di Majo

LUX: The world watched with collective horror the destruction of the World Trade Center and its communities on 9/11. Each of us remembers where we were that day. How does Silver Arts Projects go beyond renewed real estate?
Cory Silverstein: 9/11 was a tragedy that impacted everyone, but it also reminded us of our collective humanity and the societal need for community engagement. Hope emerged from the adversity as well as a desire to rebuild and re-engage. For me, there was a personal commitment and obligation on behalf of my family to nurture culture in Lower Manhattan and across the city, but this was something that resonated with the wider neighbourhood. Art brings people together, and the World Trade Center is an important and iconic site to do that. There has been an evolution of artist-led programs and residencies in the area, and we are hoping to continue that legacy with Silver Art Projects.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: What measurable impact have you had so far working with marginalised communities?
Joshua Pulman: As Silver Art is at the epicentre of commerce in New York City, our program focuses on enabling artists to achieve more sustainable financial and business practices. Looking back at our first cohort, eighty-five percent of artists who came to Silver Art Projects without gallery representation achieved it after the program. Several artists have also gone on to achieve other impressive accolades, from press coverage in prominent publications to awards and institutional recognition. Ultimately, we gauge the impact Silver Art Projects has by our artists’ long-term ability to support themselves through their art practice.

A man sitting in front of blue canvases

Tariku Shiferaw during his residency at the World Trade Center. Photo by Josh Katz

LUX: How do you manage the engagement between emerging artists and artist activists?
Joshua Pulman: Some artists who joined our Social Justice Cohort are active activists in their communities, while others seek to incorporate narratives addressing social justice into their practices. By creating a melting pot of these artists in one place, we have seen pure magic happen at the intersection of artistic practice and activism.

A woman painting in a denim shirt

Helina Metaferia during her residency at the World Trade Center

LUX: Which mentors have particularly stood out and why do you think they are so effective?
Cory Silverstein and Joshua Pulman: All three mentors who support the 2021-2022 artist cohort really stand out:

For Freedoms and Hank Willis Thomas provide monthly Wide Awakes Sessions at Silver Art Projects. Artists are invited to participate in monthly disorientation sessions, encouraging artists to connect in an open forum by reimagining the future together. This has been effective in bringing together our community of artists and giving a voice to everyone in our cohort.

A man sitting on the floor paining on canvases with art works around him

Chella Man during his residency at the World Trade Center. Photo by Josh Katz

Chella Man understands the importance of representation and aims to be the kind of role model he wishes he had growing up. Just last month, Chella hosted an open discussion on ‘Creativity and The Productivity of Resting.’ Chella has been a great mentor to many of the underrepresented artists in our community, as he talks about authenticity and remaining true to oneself.

Read more: Volta’s Kamiar Maleki On Supporting New Artistic Talent

Tourmaline’s mentorship and involvement at Silver Art has particularly stood out because Silver Art Projects provided her with new space and perspective to connect and inspire emerging artists in our community. A member of the Black trans community, she’s passionate about sharing and celebrating the stories of her predecessors. Last month, Tourmaline took a group of the artists to visit her work on view in The Afro Futurist Period Room at The Met, encouraging other artists to live joyfully, confidently and authentically.

An art work of people standing with political signs in protest

#StopAsianHate by Susan Chen, an artist from Silver Art Projects

LUX: How is your vision for social justice informing upcoming projects?
Cory Silverstein: Our program is guided by the mission of supporting underrepresented artists. Artists in our 2020-2021 cohort, for instance, were all selected for their focus on social justice and activism. As an organisation, we are equally committed to developing programs that nurture more awareness and equality. In partnership with Art for Justice, we recently announced an extended commitment to supporting formerly incarcerated artists by dedicating a quarter of all future residency spaces to ex-prisoners. We are also seeking to bring in other art forms and interests to widen the conversation and offer greater support.

Find out more: silverart.com

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A girl posing in an art gallery and a man taking a photo on his IPhone
A girl posing in an art gallery and a man taking a photo on his IPhone

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

Kamiar Maleki entered the art world at a young age and quickly became a leading curator and collector. Now Director of Volta Art Fairs, he speaks to Contributing Editor, Samantha Welsh, about the opportunities Volta is creating for new galleries and artists, ahead of the opening of the fair in New York on 18 May
A man wearing a suit, white shirt and green tie

Kamiar Maleki. Photo by Kenneth Nars

LUX: Please tell us a little bit about yourself and where you spent your formative years?
Kamiar Maleki: I was born in Iran in 1978 to a family of politicians, military generals, and diplomats. We escaped Iran in early 1979 before the revolution. My formative years came thereafter, spent between France, USA, Germany, and the UK.

LUX: How did your appreciation for art become a compulsion to discover and collect?
KM: My appreciation for art started in Germany. I remember seeing sculptures by Niki De Saint Phalle in the squares of Germany and was mesmerised by them. We also spent much time in Vienna, where my parents exposed us to galleries, museums, and the theatre. My love of art transitioned from a love of sculpture to painting and then well beyond.

The compulsion to collect came after college. As a gift, my father gave my brother and I funds with which to begin our collections. These funds came with a condition. We were advised to extensively research and pitch to him the merit of works we wanted to acquire. If we wanted to sell anything, we had to follow the same philosophy and were required to reinvest the proceeds back into art. This activity functioned as our own personal art fund in a way. I was lucky to discover some gems early on during this period, from Ged Quinn to Oscar Murillo. The discovery of new talent became a compulsion — I truly loved meeting, supporting, and cultivating fresh talent.

two people looking at abstract art on the wall

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: Over time have you evolved personal guiding principles?
KM: Absolutely. The more art you see, the more you read, the broader the mindset becomes. Your ideas change as well as your tastes. You learn to hone your eye.

LUX: Is there a conversation to be had about how we buy and show art?
KM: Yes, I believe progress is always centered on continuing to question existing models. Whether through my curatorial work or my involvement in the market, I have a practical understanding of how connoisseurs and collectors discover new artists:

The art world is a social market and it operates cyclically, like a traveling nexus. If you’re setting out to expose seasoned collectors to new talent, you need proximity, both geographically and ideologically, to the key players of the art market.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Six years ago, I curated my first show on how one buys, sells and researches art on platforms like Instagram, having bought my first piece on Instagram over seven years ago. Just last summer, I curated the very first art-in-residency program to create NFTs by collaborating with different industries, across the music industry, digital art and traditional art.

It is the responsibility of the curator or director to vet quality and content, to ensure that what you present resonates across audiences. Through exposure and education, there exists the possibility to reinvigorate how we transact.

A woman staring at a black piece of art of coming out of the wall

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: What was the pull for you to work for Will Ramsay of Ramsay Fairs to lead Volta Art Fair?
KM: I identified in Volta — and by extension Ramsay Fairs — a fair model that mirrored my approach to the art market. I gravitate towards discovery and towards support of galleries, artists, and platforms that posit new and fresh ideas. I see profound opportunity in the role Volta plays as a complement to the entrenched fairs in the art market’s capitals.

LUX: ‘From adversity comes opportunity!’  During the two years of the pandemic you have rebuilt and reset your pillars to ‘Discover. Connect. Collect’.  What does this entail?
KM: I am confident that after the statewide pause in New York and several challenging years globally, VOLTA can reestablish its foothold as a strong emerging- to mid-market platform at the heart of New York’s fair season.

With the May art fair calendar in New York undergoing significant transitions in the past few years, we’re energised by the chance to align Volta with Frieze Art Fair. We have the opportunity to expose new and established collectors to a distinct roster of new and returning galleries unique to Volta. Despite the challenges we faced these past years, those galleries that have emerged have done so with a newfound commitment to their program — and we have as well.

LUX: At a personal level, you mentor artists and gallerists; how do you manage this day to day?
KM: In all honesty, it has become a bit more difficult, as I am committed to fulfilling my role as director of Volta which requires a lot of travel and long hours. I’ve reframed my responsibilities to strengthen the fair’s program and to create a platform that supports our gallery network. In focusing my attention on supporting the galleries, the artists are supported by extension.

A woman showing people an art work of flowers painted on a canvas

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: How is Volta positioned for multi-media presentation, viewing rooms and so on?
KM: We leverage our website, the Volta Voices blog, and social media as a tool to communicate the highlights of our fair program, but we remain committed now more than ever to the in-person experience. When you navigate a fair comprised of legacy, blue-chip galleries, you’re often confronted by artworks and artists with whom you are already familiar. Our gallery roster is more experimental and less universally recognised — and that for us is very exciting! The experience of seeing the work in person and dialoguing with the gallery or artist directly at Volta is what marks that critical point of discovery and therefore distinguishes us.

Read more: 6 Questions: Bettina Korek, Serpentine Galleries

LUX: At the same time, Volta has upscaled experiential engagement, leasing a 40,000 flagship for Frieze NY.  What are you showcasing this year?
KM: At the heart of Volta New York’s program, and taking up the majority of our real estate, is a dynamic roster of over 50 galleries, some of which join us for the first time, others who previously exhibited with Volta in 2014, or 2019, and have since returned to us. Having these galleries join us on our journey has been critical to our success and therefore they are the focal point of this year’s program.

Beyond our exciting roster of exhibitors, we are welcoming several new programming partners to activate the space. For instance, we will be co-presenting the Volta Spotlight Prize with an exciting NFT platform with whom we’ve partnered. Given that we are able to congregate in person again, we’re also quite looking forward to the return of our full-service café and lounge.

A mother and child standing in front of a wall installation

VOLTA Art Fair. New York City. Photo: David Willems

LUX: How are you finding young artists are reacting to new realities, disruption and distortion?
KM: Beyond the logistical challenges, I see a renewed fervour to create and a strengthen commitment to their practice. So many artists were unable to visit their studios, to source materials, and to exhibit their work. It led to a need to innovate and adapt, hence the proliferation of digital media and new modes of creation. Now I think this digital sensibility or lens has infiltrated the market. Yet, there is still a deep desire to return to experiences, to in-person connection, to tactility.

LUX: Through ‘Volta Voices’ how are you championing emerging talent?
KM: VOLTA Voices is our online editorial platform that features a series of interviews with vanguards of the contemporary art world and friends of Volta , past, present and future. We pride ourselves on welcoming cutting edge, pioneering galleries to Volta. By extension, we see Volta Voices as yet another platform for our exhibitors to communicate their unique vision and that of their artists.

LUX: What advice will you give your children when they embark on their collecting journey?
KM: Stay curious. Don’t let the market dictate where you seek out new artists. Follow what speaks to you, ask lots of questions, and be willing to discover.

Find out more: voltaartfairs.com

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people sitting on an orange floor in front of a mural of a village
people sitting on an orange floor in front of a mural of a village

Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster, Martial Galfione and Mike Gaughan, Metapanorama, 2022. Installation view, Alienarium 5 (Serpentine South, 14 April – 4 September 2022). Photo by Hugo Glendinning

Ahead of the opening of Radio Ballads, the new, social-minded exhibition featuring works by Sonia Boyce, Helen Cammock, Rory Pilgrim and Ilona Sagar, we spoke to the Serpentine’s Bettina Korek about how the gallery is working to build meaningful connections between artists and communities

1. What is your vision for the Serpentine with regards to its focus on environmental art?

My vision for Serpentine’s focus on environmental art is first and foremost about ensuring that ecology is embedded across all strands of our programme, business planning and culture. Serpentine works as a conduit between artists and society, exploring “Art and Ideas for a Changing World”. We strive to be a platform that amplifies environmental art, and arms these ideas with access to top collaborators, advanced technologies and other resources that produce new models of reality.

These ideas manifest through Back to Earth, a multi-year programme where we invite leading artists, architects, poets, filmmakers, scientists, thinkers and designers to devise campaigns, protocols and initiatives prompting responses to environmental crises, with the support of partner organisations and networks.

2. How does Radio Ballads respond to the urgent issues of today?

The exhibition, developed by Serpentine’s Civic team, led by Amal Khalaf, centres the voices of those receiving and giving care in both formal and informal settings, sharing complex and intimate stories of living and working in the care sector today. We feel that it is important to make sustained contributions to communities and for embedded artists to have the time and resources to develop real trust and dialogues with care workers, who, more and more, play such an essential role in society.

A woman standing next to Brad Pitt, in a hat jumper and coat and another man wearing a red tie and pocket handkerchief

Bettina Korek, Brad Pitt and Eli Broad. Image by Michael Underwood, courtesy of Frieze

3. How has the increase in long durational projects in recent years altered how we experience art?

Somehow some walls have come down during the pandemic, and it seems more common that art becomes a permanent part of people’s lives—but it takes a long time to break through this way. Durational projects have the advantage of easing their way into viewer’s lives organically, this is specifically true with the Summer Pavilion designed by Theaster Gates this year, where public engagement is high and passionate.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

We’ve even branched into podcasts and considering questions around physicality and virtual worlds. One episode of our Back to Earth podcast I particularly enjoyed is called Queer Currents, guest hosted by Serpentine Assistant Curator, Kostas Stasinopoulos and asking, What is queer ecology? How do queer theory and artistic practice inform environmental activism and climate justice? Queer Ecology will be amplified this year and will solidify Serpentine’s thought leadership.

purple, white, green and pink flowers

Pollinator Pathmaker, Digital rendering of Serpentine Edition Garden 3 (detail), 2022. © Alexandra Daisy Ginsberg

4. Which creative technologies are you most excited about?

There is so much happening with Web 3. Some fundraising structures like DAOs can be very empowering to artists and organisations, financially as well as possibly creatively. Beyond the speculative buying and selling of NFTs, I’m especially keen on the more interactive and community building aspects of the technology, such as proof of participation NFTs that gamify and reward engagement in a way that, again, into the everyday lives of people.

Read more: LUX Art Diary: Exhibitions to see in April

Then there are artists like Dominique Gonzalez-Foerster who pose questions around the invention of new technologies of consciousness—just as she does in her upcoming Serpentine exhibition this spring, Alienarium 5. The exhibition features a new VR piece that, following on from her critically-acclaimed Endodrome presented at the 2019 Venice Biennale, marks the artist’s second VR work produced by VIVE Arts, and developed by Lucid Realities, and a Holorama produced by Vega Foundation. We’re so excited to see visitors’ reactions.

A woman in a balck top standing next to Pharrell Williams in a big kaki puffer coat and cap

Bettina Korek and Pharrell Williams. Image by Billy Farrell/BFA.com, courtesy of Frieze

5. What role does the metaverse play in the Serpentine’s future?

We are still very much in an experimenting phase with regard to the metaverse. Our recent project with KAWS, Acute and Fortnite demonstrates our approach to thinking about layers and reaching audiences we wouldn’t necessarily have access to through physical activations. We tend to think of our physical presence in Serpentine gardens, the park, and communities in London as our core, and from here, about how we can branch out to reach other “worlds”. Physicality now exists in parallel with the metaverse.

A tv screen in front of a brick wall with bin bags on the floor and people on the screen

Radio Ballads, Installation view, 31 March – 29 May 2022, Serpentine North Rory Pilgrim, RAFTS, 2022. Photo by George Darrell

6. How does the gallery aim to sustain relevance among diverse audiences?

Serpentine convenes creators, thought leaders and entrepreneurial partners from a plurality of disciplines and fields to make the conversation around art more relevant and inclusive, and in doing so, to expand the diversity and depth of engagement of museum audiences. Serpentine’s goal of building connections between artists and society appeals to a full spectrum of audiences who engage with us at the museum, in their communities and online. Serpentine has always been an artist-led institution and continues to be; we are now equally focused on being audience-centric.

Bettina Korek is CEO of Serpentine Galleries

Find out more: www.serpentinegalleries.org

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exhibition installation
installation of artworks

Olafur Eliasson: Your light spectrum and presence installation view at Tanya Bonakdar gallery

As Los Angeles gets ready to launch this year’s edition of Frieze, our Contributing Editor Sophie Neuendorf shares her must-see exhibitions and events happening around the city

Sophie Neuendorf

I have a special fondness for Los Angeles and not just for the sun and sea. My father spent a lot of time in the city. During his days as a gallerist, he travelled to LA to discover fresh talent, many of whom he showed or represented, developing several life-long friendships.

One of those artists was David Hockney, who loaned my father his car when he did his driving test and bought him an ice cream to celebrate. Another life-long friend was Robert Graham, a marvellous Mexican-American sculptor, well-known for not only his art but also his cameos in Wes Anderson movies (not to mention his glamorous wife, the inimitable Anjelica Huston).

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Venice Beach was one of his favourite spots, where his friend the artist Billy Al Bengston still lives and works today. One of Ferus Gallery’s artists, Billy’s unique, ethereal West Coast Pop is unmistakable and continues to inspire many artists and designers. Most recently, he worked with Yves Saint Laurent’s Hedi Slimane on a fashion show.

artist studio

Artist Billy Al Bengston at work in his studio

Now, as the art world flocks to the city for Frieze, I’ve put together a list of must-see exhibitions, events and projects.

Frieze Los Angeles

This year, Frieze (17 to 20 February) has moved from Paramount Studios to a new location, a tent adjacent to the Beverly Hills Hilton. It will, however, spill out across the city with monumental installations for Frieze Projects, including Mel Bochner’s Street Sign, which you can spot while travelling northbound on Merv Griffin Way across from the fair. The fair also welcomes a new director Christine Messineo and will feature 100 galleries, both local and international with exhibitors from 17 countries. The crowd promises to be nearly as colourful as the works for sale, studded with artists, collectors, celebrities, and fashionistas.

Felix Art Fair

Launched by collector and television mogul Dean Valentine, Felix (17 to 20 February) is a more intimate, edgier alternative to Frieze. Taking place at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel, it will feature 60 international galleries, exhibiting in the cabanas alongside the David Hockney-painted pool and in the guest-rooms on floors 10 and 11.

Read more: Michael Xufu Huang on Making Art More Accessible

Womanhouse

Curators Barret Lybbert and Stefano Di Paola are curating a show commemorating the 50th anniversary of Womanhouse, an immersive installation co-organised by Judy Chicago and Miriam Schapiro featuring work by 21 women artists. In the same radical spirit as the original installation, there’s no set artist list and the exhibition will evolve over its duration (18 Feb to 2 April) in an East Hollywood storefront.

Gallery Exhibitions

To coincide with Frieze, Gagosian is showing 10 recent works by Jeff Wall, marking the artist’s first exhibition in Los Angeles in nearly 20 years (on until 26 March 2022). Seven of the photographs were made in LA, where Wall lives and works in addition to his native Vancouver.

Over at Sprüth Magers, a show by artist Lucy Dodd (on until 12 March) is also a must-see while Nino Mier gallery is opening a show by hard-edge painter Georg Karl Pfahler, whose groundbreaking works will also be on view at Simon Lee’s London space this spring (read my interview with Simon Lee here for more info on what to expect).

restaurant interiors

Manuela restaurant at Hauser & Wirth Los Angeles

If you’re stopping by Hauser & Wirth’s impressive space to see Phyllida Barlow’s exhibition (I highly recommend you do), get in some R&R at their iconic restaurant, aptly named Manuela after the gallery’s co-founder and then pop by Tanya Bonakdar gallery to see Your light spectrum and presence, a solo exhibition by Olafur Eliasson. The show features eleven circular paintings created between 2012 and 2021, demonstrating Eliasson’s long-standing investigation into light, colour and the ways we perceive and interact with our surroundings.

Read more: The Best Art Exhibitions to See in February

It’s always worth a visit to the Getty Center, which is currently showing Poussin and the Dance (until 8 May) in collaboration with London’s National Gallery. The exhibition establishes a dialogue between 17th-century French painter Nicolas Poussin’s dancing pictures and new dance films by Los Angeles-based choreographers.

artist sculpture

untitled: skirt i; 2019. © Phyllida Barlow. Courtesy the artist and Hauser & Wirth. Photo: ©2020 Alex Delfanne, All Rights Reserved

End Frieze week on a high note by visiting the absolutely unmissable LACMA exhibition Black American Portraits with work by Kehinde Wiley, Calida Rawles, and Catherine Opie (on until 17 April). Several of the artists in the exhibition will also be showing work at Frieze, albeit at different galleries. Wiley – whose 2018 portrait of former President Obama was also on view at LACMA in a separate exhibition that included Amy Sherald’s portrait of former First Lady Michelle Obama – will be part of Roberts Projects’ group exhibition at Frieze. The gallery will also present an exciting new portrait by Wiley while Rawles’ work will be on view at Various Small Fires’ booth, and Opie will be part of Regen Projects’ Frieze presentation.

Sophie Neuendorf is Vice-President at artnet. Find out more: artnet.com

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A computer on a purple table with Chinese art on it and Chinese ornaments on the table
A computer on a purple table with Chinese art on it and Chinese ornaments on the table

Painting by Christopher Cheung. Displayed at Spectrosynthesis II, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

Patrick Sun is pushing forward a movement very close to his heart through his foundation Sunpride, which seeks to give equal opportunities to LGBTQ+ artists in Asia. Here, Sun speaks to Samantha Welsh about what his foundation has done for him personally and the wider impacts of his projects
Patrick Sun holding an open book standing in front of a painting

Patrick Sun, Founder of Sunpride

LUX: You grew up in Hong Kong, in a traditional family, when sex discrimination laws were undergoing limited amendment (HK 1991). When did you realise that the problem was with society?
Patrick Sun: Coming out is never easy and it was especially daunting in the 80’s when society was hostile and gays were seen as perverts.  My mother insisted that I seek help from a psychiatrist, and I obliged, not because I thought there was anything wrong with me medically or psychologically, but I needed the doctor to tell her that I am “normal”.  Soon after that I participated in a panel discussion with legislators who sought to decriminalise homosexuality in Hong Kong and that was when I realised that rather than resigning ourselves to adversity, we can try to do something to change society.

LUX: Suggesting the hidden, the forbidden, taboo; did your curiosity inform your early collecting?
Patrick Sun: My earliest collection was traditional Chinese paintings.  While I had no intention to collect such works with a gay theme, one of my favourite paintings depicted two boys sharing a stolen watermelon which evoked to me a forbidden love. I can draw parallels to LGBTQ artists who do not specifically depict a gay theme in their work, yet somehow who you are and what you can reveal can be found if we look in the right place.

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LUX: Inequality, invisibility, social exclusion and marginalisation; many artists’ works show a longing to belong, through juxtaposing what is with what is not there. Which of your works exhibited have had the most impact?
Patrick Sun: One of my favourite works from our exhibition in Bangkok was Arin Runjang’s “Welcome To My World: Tee”, which takes us into a large dark room with 5 giant screens showing different views of a naked transgender person. The work questions one’s perception of what makes a “perfect woman”, as well as one’s reaction when confronted with something unfamiliar or “abnormal”.  It addresses all the issues you mentioned such as invisibility, social exclusion, marginalisation and inequality in one powerful installation.

three screens with coloured lights in a dark room showing a man lying down wearing a vest

Installation by Jun-Jieh Wang. Displayed at Spectrosynthesis, MOCA Taipei

LUX: Through Sunpride, you are renowned for your ground-breaking super-scaled public exhibitions, the biggest in Asia.  What is your thinking here?
Patrick Sun: Sunpride Foundation hosts large-scale exhibitions with an LGBTQ theme to promote awareness and respect of our community in Asia.  We anchor our events at public institutions because they provide a platform to reach out to the general public.  Like movies and novels, we see art as a more equanimous way of communication and strive to promote people’s understanding and acceptance of a more diverse society.

LUX: What is the symbolism behind Spectrosynthesis, and what was the ambition for the Taipei, Bangkok  and the recent Hong Kong exhibitions?
Patrick Sun: Spectrosynthesis is composed from two words – spectrum which represents diversity as in colours of the rainbow, and photosynthesis which is how plants convert solar energy into nourishment.  We believe if one source of energy can bring life to all living creatures, then diversity could lead to a better and healthier society.
Taipei and Bangkok were our first two exhibitions and we are happy to see that they were both well received by the art circle and general public.  We hope to bring similar exhibitions to other parts of Asia where the voice of the LGBTQ community need to be heard.

When Sunpride presented our first exhibition there was some skepticism about the possibility of bringing Spectrosynthesis back to my home town, Hong Kong. I am particularly proud to see the materialisation of a major exhibition at Tai Kwun in 2023.

red string dripping from the wall and a man in a painting behind it in an art gallery

Installation by HOU, Chun-Ming. Displayed at Spectrosynthesis, MOCA Taipei

LUX: Why not shine a light on the SE Asian countries which criminalise LGBTQ+ people, such as Myanmar, Bangladesh, Malaysia? Surely in Taiwan and Thailand there have been achievements in equality and diversity?
Patrick Sun: One of the criticisms we received from our shows in Taipei and Bangkok is “are we preaching to the converted?”  My answer is, while both places have better achievements in equality and diversity, there are still discrimination and inequities that need to be addressed.  Our show in Taipei happened at the time when same-sex marriage created huge controversy, and the one in Bangkok was presented when a new bill on civil partnership was discussed at the Justice Ministry.  While it may seem impossible now to host such a show in countries like the ones you mentioned, I am optimistic that the world is changing in the right direction with regard to equality and diversity.  A good example is India – removal of penal code 377 and decriminalisation of homosexual acts was only accomplished in 2018 and the scene has flourished in leaps and bounds.

Tapestries of animals and humans wearing masks

Installation by Sornchai Phongsa. Displayed at Spectrosynthesis II, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

LUX: How significant are the partnerships with MOCA, BACC and recent Tai Kwun?
Patrick Sun: Our partnerships with MOCA Taipei and BACC were paramount in importance.  They helped pave the way for our future exhibitions, not just in showing what an LGBTQ-themed exhibition is, but also allaying fears of what we are not.  It is not a show built on homo-erotica, nor is it confrontational or offensive.  It has a wide array of themes and mediums, and provides platforms for communication between the gay community and the general public.

The recent collaboration with Tai Kwun is equally if not more significant. I believe the exhibition is important not only to the LGBTQ+ community but to everyone in showing how Hong Kong remains a diverse and inclusive society.

Read more: Umberta Beretta on fund-raising for the arts

LUX: Does your activism drive you to work with institutions beyond SE Asia?
Patrick Sun: We have been approached by institutions in Europe and America to bring our show there.  We declined because our focus remains in Asia, where exhibition like ours is more direly needed.  However, we have made friends with many art professionals including curators from art institutions in other parts of the world who have formed an invaluable network of information with Sunpride Foundation.

a man wearing black shorts lying on the grass

Photo by Ren Hang. Displayed at Spectrosynthesis II, Bangkok Art and Culture Centre

LUX: How has the public-private partnership guided your process in how to buy and what to show?
Patrick Sun: Sunpride Foundation collects with an aim to exhibit.  Whilst ultimately it is the curators’ decision on what to present, having a large sample in our collection helps them build the exhibition, with additional works to borrow or commission to help put together a coherent show.  When we look at a work, the first question is always “how would it work in an LGBTQ-themed exhibition?” This question helps us set aside personal preferences and think about logistic issues such as medium, transportation, storage etc.

LUX: If a member of the public asks you how they can support LGBTQ+ rights, how do you answer them?
Patrick Sun: Speak Up: if you hear something offensive about gay people, tell them it is not ok. Words can hurt and when you speak up, you let people know those words are not acceptable and prevents similar slandering or mockery in future. Another way would be – allow me to do a bit of promotion here – come see one of our exhibitions, or read up on them, to see for yourself that the LGBTQ community is perhaps just as normal and talented as the rest.

Find out more: sunpride.hk

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mixed media artwork
mixed media artwork

Rachel Jones, SMIIILLLLEEEE, 2021. Oil pastel, oil stick on canvas. Photo by Eva Herzog. Courtesy Thaddaeus Ropac gallery

In our new online monthly series, LUX’s editors, contributors, and friends pick their must-see exhibitions from around the globe

Sophie Neuendorf, Vice President of artnet

Last year, Saint Laurent started their cultural program, showing a selection of artists at exciting locations, such as at the beach during Art Basel Miami Beach (which you can read more about in my diary from the fair). They also mount exhibitions at their Rive Droite location in Paris, which has been conceived to showcase a selection of products from the Saint Laurent collection alongside works by emerging and established artists. This month, they’re showing Sho Shibuya‘s ethereal solar paintings, following the artist’s debut in Miami.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Another must-see show is The Magritte machine at Thyssen Museum Madrid (closing on 30 January). As Sotheby’s is betting big on Magritte with a $60 Million consignment for their forthcoming London auction, this exhibition offers visitors the opportunity to discover more about the surrealist Belgian artist.

René Magritte Tentative de l’impossible 1928. Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, Toyota © René Magritte, VEGAP, Madrid, 2021

Then, at the end of this month, Buckingham Palace will reveal seven portraits of Holocaust survivors, which were commissioned by Prince Charles as a gesture of tribute to the ageing generation. The artists participating in the project include the most expensive living female artist Jenny Saville, BP Portrait award-winner Clara Drummond, original member of the Young British Artists Stuart Pearson Wright, and painters Paul Benney, Peter Kuhfeld, Massimiliano Pironti, and Ishbel Myerscough. The paintings will be displayed in the Queen’s Gallery starting January 27 in an exhibition called Seven Portraits: Surviving the Holocaust.

Idris Khan, Artist

Perhaps rather predictably, my recommended exhibition for this month is my wife, Annie Morris’s show When a Happy Thing Falls at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park. It’s her first UK solo museum exhibition and includes her sculptures as well as drawings and a tapestry. The show ends on 6 February so it’s your last chance to see it!

Read more: In the studio with Idris Khan

outdoor sculpture

Annie Morris, Stack 9 Ultramarine Blue, 2021. Photo © Jonty Wilde. Courtesy Yorkshire Sculpture Park

Lawrence Van Hagen, Founder of LVH Art Advisory & Curator of the ‘What’s Up’ exhibitions

Rachel Jones’ solo exhibition SMIIILLLLEEEE at Thaddaeus Ropac, London (on until 5 February) has deservedly received a lot of media attention. The 30-year-old Essex-based artist is already a distinctive voice in the art world (she was one of the youngest artists to participate in the Hayward Gallery’s acclaimed exhibition Mixing It Up) and one of the most exciting emerging artists that I have personally come across, and acquired in recent years.

artist portrait

Rachel Jones in her studio. Photo by Adama Jalloh

As the title suggests, the exhibition references the artist’s ongoing obsession with mouths and specifically, teeth. In the works, she combines figuration and abstraction to reflect on teeth as a form of cultural expression in Black communities. The mouth also seems to be a metaphor for the world within us, our emotional landscape and the gate to our soul as we smile, eat, sing, scream, kiss… The clearest example in this show is a work that’s only 30cm high but more than 2-metres wide. It pictures a set of teeth and the canvas is trimmed at the bottom to follow the uneven shape of the molars and incisors. Rachel also has a solo show coming up at Chisenhale Gallery (opening 12 March) – another date for the diary!

Read more: Shiny Surfaces, Lawsuits & Pink Inflatable Rabbits: Jeff Koons

Millie Walton, LUX’s Art & Digital Editor

A few years ago, I was lucky enough to meet Dutch artist Jacqueline de Jong in the context of her solo exhibition at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery in Mayfair. We chatted at length about her process (which is completely spontaneous in the sense that she never plans her compositions) and her participation in the anti-authoritarian Situationist International (SI) group. Although the group wasn’t an artistic movement, de Jong was greatly inspired by its revolutionary spirit which can be felt in her vibrant colour palette and fluid forms that seem to writhe on the canvas. She has been making work for over six decades, but it isn’t until now that she’s beginning to finally garner international recognition.

abstract drawing

Jacqueline de Jong, Untitled (Upstairs-Downstairs), 1986

This month, she has two major solo exhibitions including a museum survey entitled The Ultimate Kiss, which was inaugurated by WIELS, Brussels, in 2021 and is currently on show at MOSTYN, Wales (until 6 February) as well as another solo exhibition at Pippy Houldsworth Gallery (21 January to 12 March 2022) which includes a series of drawings related to her Upstairs-Downstairs paintings from the mid 1980s. I’m hoping I’ll get to see both!

mixed media painting

Januario Jano, Untitled (M0010), 2021.

I also recommend stopping by Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery’s Wandsworth space to see Angolan artist Januario Jano’s vibrant, thoughtful show Imbambas: Unsettled Feelings of Object & Self (on until 5 February). Jano takes the Kimbundu term imbambas (which refers to things such as furniture and luggage that have an intrinsic and uncanny relationship to the body and self) as his departing point through which to explore the role of the object in the construction and reinforcement of cultural identity. The exhibition features a wide range of mixed-media works, incorporating textiles, photography and found objects.

 

 

 

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A group of people
A group of people

Left to right: Catherine Lampert, Kate Gordon, Idris Khan, Georgina Cohen & Gregor Muir. Bottom: Sigrid Kirk & Maryam Eisler

LUX’s Chief Contributing Editor Maryam Eisler’s latest photographic series entitled Once Upon A Turquoise Past brings together memories of her homeland, Iran, and formative years spent in Europe and New York in the 1980s and 90s. Presented in an exhibition curated by Carrie Scott at Linley Belgravia, the dreamlike photographs reference writings of Persian writers such as Rumi, Hafez and Attar, as well as Charles Baudelaire’s Invitation to the Voyage set against the grand backdrop of Leighton House, the Victorian Kensington home of Orientalist Lord Leighton. LUX invited a number of guests to the opening of the show.
two women and a man standing by some steps

Left to right: David Linley, Maryam Eisler & Isabelle de la Bruyere

A woman and two men taking a selfie

Left to right: Maryam Eisler, Darius Sanai & Idris Khan

A woman in Turquoise feather dress next to a woman in a black leather coat

Left to right: Sarah Lovegrove & Lydia Connell

A painting on a wall by a table

Rise Up and Play by Maryam Eisler

women standing in front of photograph

Maryam Eisler & Meihui Liu

A man in a suit and a woman in a bleu dress standing on steps

Mark-Francis Vandelli & Marie Moatti

three women and a man standing for a photograph

Left to right: David Linley, Carrie Scott, Maryam Eisler & Katy Wickremesinghe

A painting on a wall by a table

Afshin Naghouni & Silvana Maragliulo

three women posing for a photo

Left to right: Emma Samuel, Donna Younis & Clare Schifano

abstract portrait photograph

Collective Memories by Maryam Eisler

three pictures above a table

Top Image: Wanderlust by Maryam Eisler

Bottom Left Image: There’s A Crack In Everything. That’s How The Light Gets In by Maryam Eisler

Bottom Right Image: Shadowplay by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: Once Upon a Turquoise Past runs until 28 November 2021 at LINLEY Belgravia. For more information, visit: davidlinley.com

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photoshoot

grand castle hall

Maria-Theresia Mathisen, Jill Mulleady and Cornelia Mensdorff-Pouilly (clockwise from top left) in the grand hall

Each summer at her family’s fairy-tale castle above the Côte d’Azur, curator Maria-Theresia Mathisen hosts young artists’ residencies. Local celebrity Simon de Pury travelled up to photograph ‘MT’ and her latest charge, Jill Mulleady. MT gives us a tour

Castel Caramel is our private residence-turned-cultural platform in the south of France. My mother Cornelia Mensdorff-Pouilly used to be the manager of the late Austrian artist Ernst Fuchs and they bought the house in 1988 for his countryside atelier. It was secluded but near enough to buzzing Monte-Carlo where he had his residence and a smaller atelier by the port.

I was only five years old back then and grew up in what was not only an artist’s studio but also a meeting place for many other artists and collectors. I loved witnessing the creation of art and the exchange of minds, so when Fuchs passed away in 2015, I decided to continue this tradition.

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After renovation and expansion, we formally established the Castel Caramel Artist Residency in 2018. Canadian painter Chloe Wise was the first official artist-in-residence and while there she invited her muses and collaborators to visit, making for a colourful and inspiring atmosphere. The house had fully come back to its creative life.

Since then, artists Korakrit Arunanondchai, Ben Wolf Noam and Jill Mulleady have been in residence. Others came to visit, including Martha Kirszenbaum, Jon Rafman, Precious Okoyomon, Bonaventure (Soraya Lutangu) and Alex Gvojic.

It is important for us to give back to, involve and connect with the arts community on the Côte d’Azur. Therefore, during each residency, we host artist and curator talks and screenings as well as intimate dinners. We welcome both local and international collectors, curators and all other art aficionados.

The 2021 Castel Caramel artists in residence are Gerard & Kelly and Sedrick Chisom. For more information visit: castelcaramel.org

artist with their painting

Jill Mulleady and her painting Gardens of the Blind

“This painting was dubbed, jokingly, ‘the Masterpiece’ by the artist and her gallerist. Seen in person, this impressive work really is a masterpiece. The mysterious figure in the midst of an apocalyptic landscape reappears in another painting Mulleady made at Castel Caramel. In this second work, the figure has aged. Jill often plays with shifting temporalities and connecting stories in her work.”

villa in the mountains

Castel Caramel, 2020

“The grand hall (see top image) is the main space of Castel Caramel. Sometimes it is in complete chaos, at others it becomes very elegant as it turns from artist’s studio into a ballroom. With 7m-high ceilings and a 140sqm space – built in the 1950s, it used to be a restaurant – there are barely any limits as to how big an artwork can be produced here. It was also the main reason why Ernst Fuchs bought the house. He was able to work here on a monumental scale, with light through the many windows all around and large doors onto the terrace. It is the perfect studio space!”

photoshoot

Maria-Theresia Mathisen, Jill Mulleady and Simon de Pury (from left) on the terrace

“Simon had driven all the way from the Swiss Alps by himself in order to meet us for the shoot in the afternoon. I always admire how much energy he has! Although it was almost 6pm, it was still very hot. The bronze sculpture of a guardian angel is by Ernst Fuchs.”

little girl in a hallway

Maria-Theresia Mathisen at Castel Caramel in 1988

“This is me with my Barbie dolls in the grand hall surrounded by paintings by Ernst Fuchs soon after he and my mother had bought Castel Caramel in the late 1980s.”

women by a swimming pool

Jill Mulleady, her daughter Olympia and Maria-Theresia Mathisen (from left) by the pool

“Our artists-in-residence usually invite collaborators or muses to visit them during their residency at Castel Caramel. Jill brought along her daughter, which was a first. The little girl ended up doing some painting as well.”

dinner party

Patrons’ dinner for Jill Mulleady

“Towards the end of each residency, we host artist/curator talks and dinners in honour of our artists. This was the second dinner we held for Jill Mulleady last year, which followed a conversation between the artist and curator Martha Kirszenbaum. To be on the safe side, we made sure to keep enough space between guests and we also had two extra tables set up on the terrace for those more concerned about Covid-19.”

art installation

Installation by Korakrit Arunanondchai

“It was a wonderful coincidence that our Thai artist resident Korakrit Arunanondchai developed his exhibition for the Vienna Secession at Castel Caramel, which used to be the atelier of a Viennese artist. Ernst, my mother and I are all from Vienna.”

artist painting

Ernst Fuchs at work

“Fuchs chose to buy Castel Caramel mainly for its ceiling height and good lighting conditions. He was able to work on his monumental paintings, some as high as five metres. He always worked on several paintings at the same time, with some taking many years to be finished.”

This article was originally published in the Summer 2021 issue, on sale now.

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portrait of artist in her studio

Iranian artist Arghavan Khosravi

In our ongoing online series, renowned art consultant Maria-Theresia Mathisen profiles rising contemporary artists to watch in 2021. Here, she speaks to New York-based Iranian artist Arghavan Khosravi about the power of visual metaphors, juxtaposing imagery and how her work reflects on her experiences of growing up in Iran

Maria-Theresia Mathisen

Arghavan Khosravi’s work is not only visually compelling but also loaded with socio-political commentary. I discovered her work in late 2019, a few months before the pandemic, on Instagram and was immediately taken by it. Bright colours and smooth skin are juxtaposed with uncanny elements such as ankle bonds, bombs, fragments of sculptures, shattered structures, ropes and keys. There are recurring symbols for censorship, such as locks, masks and bonds, reflecting the artist’s experience of growing up in Iran.

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Over time, I noticed that her compositions are becoming increasingly complex, and her paintings more and more sculptural. Arghavan is very ambitious and curious, constantly developing her practice, as if she is trying to solve a problem, or perhaps find a solution to some of Iran’s, or even the world’s problems.

To me, Arghavan’s work feels extremely important right now as it tackles human rights issues with a particular focus on the oppression of women in autocratic systems.

mixed media painting

Arghavan Khosravi, The Key, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: You are born and raised in Iran. When did you move to the US and why?
Arghavan Khosravi: I was born in Iran and spent almost my whole life there. In 2015, I came to the US to go to graduate school.

LUX: Was it a culture shock?
Arghavan Khosravi: To be honest, I didn’t face that much of a culture shock. I think nowadays, with globalisation and the internet, people from all over the world that are coming from similar cultural classes and generations have lifestyles that are not hugely different. The only thing that I can think of, which still wasn’t a culture shock, but a huge difference (and relief) was that in the US I could wear whatever I want in public; there was no more compulsory hijab (which is an unjust law for women in Iran).

mixed media artwork

Arghavan Khosravi, Connection, 2020. Courtesy Carl Kostyál Gallery

LUX: You have four degrees, two from Iran and two from the US. Why did you choose to do both undergrad and graduate degrees again in the US?
Arghavan Khosravi: I actually have three degrees. I got my BFA in Graphic Design and MFA in Illustration both in Tehran. After being a graphic designer for almost 10 years I decided to pursue my dream of becoming a painter and moved to the US, but since I didn’t have much professional or academic experience in that field, I decided to apply for a one-year non-degree post-bacc program in studio arts at Brandeis University (Waltham, Massachusetts). Over the course of that one year, I could make a body of work which enabled me to apply to a few graduate programs. Eventually, I ended up in Rhode Island School of Design’s graduate painting program.

three-dimensional painting

Arghavan Khosravi, On Being a Woman, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: Your earlier work from 2016 is heavily influenced by Iranian miniatures, but your style seems to have evolved a great deal in the past few years. What were the museums you visited the most upon coming to the US and which of them provided new sources of inspiration?
Arghavan Khosravi: Persian miniature paintings have always been one of the main sources of inspiration for me. Every time I look at them, I get inspired by one aspect of these works, whether it’s their mesmerising colour palette; their compositions; the way figures are depicted (there’s not much facial expression and the expressive qualities are heavily dependent on their poses and body language); or the way architectural spaces are depicted so that there’s no perspective and no vanishing point, which has a flattening effect. When I place figures that are rendered realistically into that unreal space, the juxtaposition gives a sense of distortion and displacement which can be read metaphorically too. The more I focused on this aspect of the paintings, the more I got involved with building shaped panels (instead of the regular rectangle) to emphasise these architectural elements of the space. This helped the paintings to increasingly exist as a 3D object rather than a 2D surface, which opened a whole new door for me and led me to experiment with different ways to explore three dimensionality in the paintings.

Unfortunately, over the past year I haven’t been able to visit museums due to the pandemic, but when I look back at the few years before that, a few museum exhibitions stand out. One of them was a retrospective of Jim Shaw’s works at the New Museum in New York in 2015 and another exhibition of his works a few months later at MASS MoCA in Massachusetts which truly fascinated me. The way he’s always exploring new different ideas and his never-ending creativity was very inspiring for me. The other inspiring museum exhibition that I can think of was David Hockney’s at the Met in 2017. One of the most inspiring aspects of his works for me was colour.

three dimensional artwork

Arghavan Khosravi, Isn’t it time to celebrate your freedom?, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: Your work fluctuates between pop, symbolism and surrealism. Which genre, if any, do you feel most comfortable being associated with?
Arghavan Khosravi: I can mostly relate my work to the surrealist movement and I think symbolism is one of the tools in surrealistic storytelling. In my paintings, I like to depict moments that might be impossible to happen in real life. I also use an indirect and subtle approach to convey what I have in mind. This approach slows the audience’s reading of each painting and hopefully, leaves a more effective and longer lasting impression on them.

Read more: Philip Hewat-Jaboor on discovering art through materials

LUX: Can you tell us about some of the recurring objects in your work such as strings, disembodied limbs and floating heads. What do they represent for you?
Arghavan Khosravi: In general, I am interested in depicting scenes and situations that at the first glance, might seem peaceful, normal and comfortable, but the more you look at what’s going on, you find moments where something dark and slightly violent is occurring. The body fragments, for example, give a feeling that the characters in the painting are lacking control not only over the situation, but also their own body. You can look at it as a metaphor for the suppression which happens under autocratic systems.

Another metaphor I use for suppression is the red string. I am thinking about all the “red lines” that are drawn which mustn’t be overpassed. These lines can be drawn systematically by an authoritarian regime or can be drawn by tradition in more patriarchal societies, which mostly, target women. I am mostly interested in using visual metaphors that don’t look too violent at first, but present an underlying sense of suffocation or disturbance.

Arghavan Khosravi, Black Rain, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: You seem to like adding sculptural and three-dimensional elements to your paintings, and often use a shaped canvas. Do you start a painting knowing that you will use a shaped canvas or do you sometimes change the shape after starting a painting?
Arghavan Khosravi: The sculptural elements started when I decided to experiment with shape panels, which I talked about earlier, I stretch canvas over the shaped wood panels, so it’s almost impossible to change its shape after I start a painting. Therefore, I pre-plan most of the painting before building the shaped panel, and I have a clear idea what imagery is going to be painted within that shape.

LUX: Another formalist aspect of your work is the ‘trompe l’oeil’ technique, which sometimes makes it difficult to delineate what’s painted and what’s not.
Arghavan Khosravi: I am interested in the idea of juxtaposing a two dimensional painted surface which mimics three-dimensionality with actual three dimensional elements in the paintings. I like how it can invite the viewer to explore more time with the piece in order to figure out which part is which. I am also interested in the notion of duality and having contrasting visual elements. This contrast can be in materialistic aspects of the paintings (like the contrast between a 2D surface and a constructed 3D element) or it can be more about the subject matter. For example, the juxtaposition of imagery appropriated from an Eastern context beside Western, or the contrast can be historic versus contemporary and so forth.

mixed media painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Entrapment, 2021. Courtesy Carl Kostyál Gallery

LUX: In one of your works the red string is physically wrapped around a canvas so that you can see dents at the edges. How did you do it?
Arghavan Khosravi: To achieve that effect, before stretching the canvas over the wood panel, I carved the sides of the wood panel in a way which makes the hard surface of the panel look like a soft smooth material that’s being compressed when a rope is tightly wrapped around it. This approach again aligns with the notion of duality and contrast that I talked about in the previous question. This time it’s the contrast is between a soft and a hard material.

Read more: Uplifting new paintings by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

LUX: Another Iranian artist that works a lot with trompe l’oeil is Mehdi Ghadyanloo. Do you know his work?
Arghavan Khosravi: Yes, I am very much familiar with his work and really like it. I first encountered his work when he used to make large murals all over Tehran where I grew up and was living before immigrating to the US. It was so fascinating to see his creative ways to give the illusion of depth and space in his murals so that the 2D painted surface of the wall seemed like the continuation of the actual buildings and space surrounding it. Before him (with a few exceptions), most of the murals were at the service of the state propaganda or had ideological purposes.

painting of a mystical woman

Arghavan Khosravi, The Balance, 2019. Courtesy the artist.

LUX: Who are your favourite Iranian artists that deserve more attention in the West?
Arghavan Khosravi: One Iranian artist that comes to mind is Bahman Mohasses. I also really like Nazgol Ansarinia’s work.

LUX: Born soon after the Islamic Revolution, you witnessed Iran’s transformation from a Western-friendly monarchy into a suppressive theocratic republic. How did you experience this growing up and what did your parents teach you?
Arghavan Khosravi: I was born and grew up in a non religious family, so there was a more secular/liberal way of thinking and living, but when I stepped out of that ‘private space’ into the ‘public space’ I could see that everything was very different. So, like so many other Iranians, I was taught by my parents how to navigate this dual life from an early age. For example ,there were certain things we did at home that mustn’t be mentioned at school, or we did things at school that I personally didn’t really believe in like saying prayers with other students which was compulsory in my middle school. Or we had to pretend to abide by some rules in public, which we don’t really believe in, such as the compulsory hijab. I think the notion of duality that I’m exploring in my paintings is a result of reflecting on those life experiences and memories from Iran.

textured painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Fragility of Peace, 2019. Courtesy the artist

LUX: In your 2017 Muslim Ban series you use pages of your Iranian passport as a canvas and there’s also your Self-Censorship series. Can you tell us more about those works?
Arghavan Khosravi: In early 2017, only a week after I came back from a short trip to Iran during the school’s winter break, an executive order was signed which prevented citizens of six muslim-majority countries from entering the US. It meant that if I had returned to the US a week later, I could have got stuck in Iran and wouldn’t have been able to finish my degree. Also, it meant that I wasn’t able to exit the US for an unknown period of time. My first reaction to the news was anger and a feeling of being treated with disrespect. I thought of using this anger as fuel in my studio, but the blank canvas didn’t feel right. So I had this idea of painting on pages of my expired passport and weaving my narrative into the visual structure that was already there.

When you grow up under the suppression of an autocratic system which limits freedom of speech, you start to develop self-censorship as a defence mechanism, and sometimes you’re not even aware of it. Therefore, you start to suppress your own freedom of expression to avoid getting in trouble. In the Self-Censorship series I was interested in exploring these themes using a symbolic language. It is worth mentioning that symbolism itself can be one of the tools to circumvent censorship because when you use symbols and metaphors to convey certain thoughts you can always say that this particular thought is the viewer’s interpretation of your work and not necessarily your own idea. But of course when I use symbolism now, where I have freedom of expression, I have different reasons for this choice.

collage painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Hafez (The Muslim Ban Series), 2017. Courtesy the artist

LUX: Your paintings are so intricate they seem very laborious to produce. How long does it take you, on average, to finish a painting and do you work on multiple paintings at the same time?
Arghavan Khosravi: Depending on the size, it takes me about 2 to 5 weeks to finish each piece. Usually, the paintings with 3D elements and multi-panels take longer because there is more than one surface to paint on. I rarely work on several paintings at the same time because if I leave a painting unfinished and move to a new one, I get very excited about the new piece and won’t feel like going back to the older piece. I have works lying in my studio from two years ago that are still left unfinished.

3d painting

Arghavan Khosravi, Four Elements, 2021. Courtesy the artist and Rachel Uffner Gallery

LUX: Finally, tell us about your current show In Between Places at Rachel Uffner Gallery in NYC. How do you think your practice has evolved or changed since your last show in NYC at Lyles & King in 2019?
Arghavan Khosravi: This latest body of work was made in isolation during the past year of quarantine. The works build upon my previous explorations of techniques taken from historical painting genres, such as the use of stacked perspective in Persian miniature paintings, while also incorporating new sculptural and three-dimensional elements that further emphasise qualities of illusion and artifice. The paintings are rendered on surfaces that have been layered to create visual depth, which somehow evoke the structure of a theatrical set and the corresponding implication of a not-quite-real world built on false appearances.

“Arghavan Khosravi: In Between Places” runs until 5 June 2021 at Rachel Uffner, New York. For more information: racheluffnergallery.com

Arghavan Khosravi’s solo exhibition at Carl Kostyal, London opens in June. For more information, visit: kostyal.com/exhibitions

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Kevin Pinsembert, Sans Titre (Décor +), 2020. Acrylic on cotton. © Kevin Pinsembert, 2020
Image courtesy of Saatchi Yates

Phoebe Saatchi Yates is the daughter of art world titan Charles Saatchi and the co-founder of Mayfair gallery Saatchi Yates, which aims to support early-career artists from across the globe. Here, she speaks to Chloe Frost-Smith about discovering new talent, her weariness of digital platforms and the gallery’s current exhibition Allez La France!

Phoebe Saatchi Yates and Arthur Yates

1. How important is an ‘in-person’ art experience to you, and what are your thoughts on digital exhibitions?

Something we have learnt over the last year, with the continuous lockdowns, is that although we all have tried our hardest, nothing digital can really replace the joy of experiencing something in real life. I get incredibly weary of digital exhibitions, just as much as I am bored of online shopping for clothes, books and groceries!

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2. What made you choose London as the location for your gallery?

London is home. It made sense to open here as we wanted to create something which felt completely integrated to our city and community. Being on Cork Street, a road historically protected for art galleries was important too as you feel as if you are part of not only the future of the city, but the past as well.

exhibition installation

Installation view of Allez La France! at Saatchi Yates Gallery, Cork Street, London

3. Talk us through your search for new artists – is each discovery different, or do you have a particular process?

Each discovery is completely different. Some artists we have watched for many years, some we find online, some through friends. It’s important to be curious and look in unexpected places.

Read more: Tessa Packard on charity & creative thinking 

4. Tell us about your exhibition Allez La France! and what drew you to French new wave painting?

Allez La France! is an exhibition which has been in the works for quite some time. Over a year ago we went to Marseille and Paris to visit the collective, and were so excited by the boldness and confidence of the artists’ work. There was also a true charm in the idea that they were painting for painting’s sake, which is something you don’t find very often.

abstract painting

Mathieu Julien, Rouge Camaieu, 2020. Acrylic and spray paint on cotton canvas © Mathieu Julien, 2020. Image courtesy of Saatchi Yates

5. What sort of art would we find on your walls at home, and do you have a favourite piece?

Currently, I am living in a fully furnished apartment, with wallpaper and no hanging space! There is a very long list of paintings I can’t wait to hang when we next move…

6. Which emerging artists are you currently keeping your eye on?

I feel really excited about all the artists we are yet to show! There are so many exciting talents whose shows that we have had to postpone due to lockdowns, so I feel quite giddy about being able to finally see their work in our space!

“Allez La France!” is available to view online until 11 April, after which it will be open to the public until 15 May 2021 at Saatchi Yates Gallery. For more information visit: saatchiyates.com/exhibitions/allez-la-france

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artist portait

Portrait of Maxwell Alexandre 2020. Copyright the artist. Courtesy the artist and David Zwirner

In our ongoing online series, renowned art consultant Maria-Theresia Pongracz profiles rising contemporary artists to watch in 2021. Here, she speaks to 30-year-old Brazilian artist Maxwell Alexandre about the difficulties of preparing a show during lockdown, his devotion to the Church of the Kingdom of Art and the precariousness of his paintings

Maria-Theresia Pongracz

Discovering new artistic talent is often also discovering different parts of the world, different cultures and different human experiences. One of my highlights last autumn, and one of the few shows I was able to see during the short period when galleries and museums were open in between lockdowns, was the Brazilian Maxwell Alexandre’s UK debut at David Zwirner. Having seen some images online before, I was very excited about the show and delighted to discover that the work was even more powerful in person.

Hailing from Rocinha, the largest favela in Brazil, located in Rio de Janeiro’s southern zone, Alexandre’s work is a reflection on growing up with organised crime and state violence, as well as the evangelical church acting as a sort of saviour from such. The title of the show Pardo é Papel, which takes its name from the Portuguese word pardo (meaning brown), refers to Brazil’s class system and the upheld belief that an individual’s skin colour determines their value – the less black or the whiter a person looks, the better. The exhibition’s subtitle Close a Door to Open a Window is a reference to lockdown and isolation during the pandemic.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Your exhibition Pardo é Papel: Close a Door to Open a Window at David Zwirner London (2 December 2020 – 30 January 2021) was planned during a period of lockdown. How was this experience for you, and how long did it take you to conceive and create the show?
Maxwell Alexandre: In 2020, I had two big solo shows to be held at two highly prestigious institutions: David Zwirner Gallery in London, and the Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Things happened very quickly for me once I became a part of the art circuit, so I have been working hard and largely without interruption since 2017 to meet demands from institutions. I had just come back from an artist-in-residence stint in Marrakesh for a group show at the Museum of Contemporary Art of Morocco, but as soon as I arrived back in Brazil, the pandemic broke out and all plans were suspended.

The year was promising, the proposals were very good, and I was ready to leverage the reverberations my work had caused and push my art to a higher level, but I have to admit that the pandemic also brought me relief because it allowed me to pursue a direction of my work without a deadline. It had been a while since I had entered my studio without a plan. That’s when I decided to take up oil painting on canvas. I had wanted for some time to work in that direction, and this moment of social isolation was the perfect scenario for that. With my entire team working remotely because of the lockdown, I was left alone to do all the steps of the work; everything from cutting the canvas, attaching it to the wall, preparing the paint, cleaning the brushes… I felt that I was back at the first moments of my career and was able to remember how much I loved this solitary way of working.

detail of a large scale artwork

exhibition installation of large scale mixed-media works

If you could die and come back to life, up for air from the swimming pool, 2020 (installation image and above, detail). Maxwell Alexandre. © Maxwell Alexandre. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

Then David Zwirner gallery started making contact with me again, and wanted to continue with the plan of the exhibition in London. But while things were getting better in Europe, in Brazil we were entering into a worse phase, and I could not commit to delivering such an important exhibition in just three months without my team and without a large space to work in. This was a delivery that could not be achieved with a slow approach, I would need to throw myself totally into it. But I admit the greatest resistance I had to accepting the invitation was that I would have to stop making oil paintings, and by that time, I felt I was too much involved in the works to begin another exhibition project. I continued to consider all of this, and eventually, found a good justification to commit to the show at David Zwirner. Namely, the main principle of the church of which I am a follower – the Church of the Kingdom of Art – which is that when you set a date to hold the worship service and deliver the works, then you do not pay any heed to adverse conditions. It is a dogma: if the date is set, it cannot be postponed, one must do it and deliver it. And I, as a follower of that church, could not escape from this. If anyone were to break the commitment, it would have to be the gallery.

large format artwork

Pisando no céu, 2020, Maxwell Alexandre. © Maxwell Alexandre. Photo by Gabi Carerra. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

The other thing I kept in mind was something I was told by my teacher Eduardo Berliner about making a great effort to obtain nothing as a result. This idea is very powerful to me. Opening an exhibition with the strong possibility that no-one would see it, fitted with that way of thinking and motivated me to move forwards. I got together with two of my assistants and brought them to live with me on my street. We started working hard in order to finish everything on time.

This moment that we are experiencing is unique, and I could simply not waste it. When would I ever have another chance to open an exhibition during a pandemic?

Read more: How women artists are reshaping art history

LUX: How and when did you become interested in art and what was the first medium you explored?
Maxwell Alexandre: I was raised in an evangelical home and my mother always said that God had given me the gift of drawing. In my childhood, my drawing was already more developed than that of my peers. I think that my interest in art was beginning then, but my first contact with contemporary art took place when I was 22, during my second year of college, in a class of visual arts taught by Eduardo Berliner.

LUX: In the exhibition walk through you mentioned that painting is considered elitist in the Brazilian favelas. From what I gather, you mastered going down the path of a fine artist and showing at a blue chip gallery like David Zwirner whilst still keeping your street cred. Would you consider involving yourself in arts education, teaching or mentoring underprivileged kids in the future?
Maxwell Alexandre: I think that, yes, I have a pastoral calling, because my work attracts followers, but I am not the sort of pastor who takes care of sheep. My calling is that of a messenger; one who brings specific, sporadic messages and good news whether it’s through words, photography, video, music, painting, or by example.

painted portrait with gold background

Installation view of Pardo é Papel: Close a Door to Open a Window at David Zwirner. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

LUX: You pay homage to Kerry James Marshall as a kind of icon in a gold portrait. KJM is probably the most important black painter living today and someone who has inspired a whole generation of young artists. How important is he to you?
Maxwell Alexandre: Kerry James is the man. I think about how far it is for someone to paint a black character not through observation, but through imagination. That man was already leaping over that abyss back in the 1990s. Of course, there were other masters before him, and KJM himself has mentioned that he was inspired by Charles White, but I think the visibility of, and possibility to bring the black man as a central theme of narratives picked up momentum and significant relevance with Kerry.

LUX: Most of your paintings are densely populated, except for one striking work, a diptych entitled Dois quadros SAMO na parede with painted golden baroque frames but nothing inside. Basquiat often used the tag ‘SAMO’ in his graffitis. Why this reference?
Maxwell Alexandre: The piece Two SAMO paintings on the wall is a translation of a verse from the track Preto e prata by Baco Exu do Blues. The verse plays with a conjugation of the Portuguese verb ‘ser’ (to be), and Basquiat’s signature SAMO, an abbreviation of ‘Same Old Shit’. The diptych is part of Novo Poder, a sub-series of Pardo é Papel, which deals specifically with the physical presence of black people in art spaces, such as museums and galleries, contemplating and relating to contemporary art and more specifically, painting. The work emphasises the idea of acquisition, which is why there are no figures depicted in it.

gold diptych artwork

Dois quadros SAMO na parede, 2020, Maxwell Alexandre. © Maxwell Alexandre. Photo by Gabi Carerra. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

LUX: Your Evangelical Christian upbringing is also apparent in some of your paintings. How important are Christian values to you?
Maxwell Alexandre: I know that religious fundamentalism is shit and that’s why there is a very pejorative image about people of faith. One of the definitions of faith is to believe without seeing, without evidence and this seems like foolishness to many people in the art world, who for the most part have an academic education, which values reason, science and evidence. But what is artistic practice if not an enchantment? Artistic practice is prophetic and without faith, there are no prophecies. So I am astonished about how an academic atheist manages to disdain religious faith and yet enshrine artists like gods, or to shed tears in front of a painting. Art is a religion, and as stated by Brazilian rapper Filipe Ret, one needs faith even to believe in reason.

Read more: Alia Al-Senussi on art as a catalyst for change

Evangelical religion saved my life. I did not go into crime, alcohol or drugs because my mother taught me for a long time that those things were part of the crooked path of sin and divine abomination. I no longer hold onto that sort of belief, but when I believed it as a child, I did not fall into those things.

exhibition installation

Installation view of Pardo é Papel: Close a Door to Open a Window at David Zwirner. Photo by Jack Hems. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

LUX: Your paintings are all very large. Why do you choose to work in this format? And would you ever consider making smaller formats to make your work more accessible to a wider range of collectors?
Maxwell Alexandre: To answer this question, allow me to make a brief mapping of the art circuit and its agents. We have the artist, who is at the cutting edge of the research, experimenting, with his sleeves rolled up, making the art object. The critic, who develops the silo of knowledge around the work, is an agent of legitimation, perhaps one of the most important ones. The curator, who selects what is going to be shown and how it will be shown, is the bridge between the studio and the public, often based on a specific thinking. The gallerist, who is the display window, is the commercial connection between the object. The art patron is the person who directly applies financial resources to the artist’s research and the institutions, and the collector acquires the work, and takes on the responsibility of preserving it. What all of these agents should have in common, beyond their personal interests, is the fostering of the development of the artistic field. Ultimately, each one is part of something that has a social function for the collective.

If the artist proposes something that is not commercial, and the gallerist does not welcome and support it as they are thinking only about sales rather than fostering the field, then this agent does not understand his or her role. If the art patron provides support by financing an artist’s research, but wants an artwork in return, that art patron does not understand his or her role. If a curator only organises exhibitions for the beautiful photo at the vernissage with a roster of important faces, that curator does not know his or her role. If the collector is buying works only as an investment, or because of the hype of the artist in question, that collector does not understand his or her role.

When I began to develop the Pardo é Papel series, the decisions I made were not arbitrary. Assuming a monumental format for the paintings was a way I found to intensify the dialogue between the amount of paper used and the number of black bodies in contemporary positions of power. I wanted density and contrast between the black body and the brown craft paper; I wanted people to feel the presence of the paper. The way in which the artworks are installed helps in this sense. I wanted the adhesive tape and the torn parts to be visible; the fragility of the artworks was important for the work’s poetics. I understood that I was not only dealing with dimensional questions of painting itself, but also talking about air, space and sound. The decision not to present the works in a frame or any rigid kind of structure was made to emphasise the precariousness of the materials that go into the work’s construction. All these characteristics are important for the semantics of Pardo é Papel.

collage artwork

Close a door to open a window, 2020, Maxwell Alexandre. © Maxwell Alexandre. Photo by Gabi Carerra. Courtesy the artist, A Gentil Carioca, and David Zwirner

All of this potential, however, would be lost if I had listened to a series of agents there at the outset, when I showed the first large panel, which gave rise to various questionings skewed toward a market logic. I heard things like: ‘don’t do that because it is a big problem to conserve these paintings’ or ‘it will be very difficult to sell, work with smaller formats and we will be able to sell everything.’ Even a large museum institution asked me to paint five canvases so that they could acquire them instead of the large paintings on paper. Their concerns about the work’s conservation and vulnerability was a great hindrance.

I did not follow this advice because I had not constructed the large paintings of Pardo é Papel to be something commercial or durable. My commitment was to the research. I knew the potential the work had, and I chose it as a flag to stake into the ground of the institutions; to open a path, without any concern about sales.

The only progressive advice I received during this period was from Paulo Herkenhoff, perhaps the greatest living critic in Brazil, who upon seeing the works said that I would be able to choose my path because of the power and coherency of my research. He also gave me an example of what he called the ‘greatest squander at MoMA’ which is when museum declined to acquire the work Monogram by Robert Rauschenberg because conservators said it would not last. Today, that work is one of the most emblematic in the artist’s production. And this is what I would like to talk about: people want a souvenir, they do not want art. The collector should be educated in this sense. The acquisition of an art object is not only the expansion of his or her asset portfolio, but involves the responsibility to shelter that which has now become an asset of humankind. My large pieces of brown craft paper will get ripped and they will deteriorate in time, and this responsibility lies not only with the artist, but of all the agents concerned with the fostering of the field and artistic development. Hopefully, the museologists and conservators will accept the challenge of preserving these works and gallerists will support less-formatted works, and collectors will start dealing with the need to collect things that are not permanent. There is nothing more contemporary than this.

LUX: Talking of institutions, your next big show is at Palais de Tokyo in Paris. Are you excited and can you reveal anything about what you are planning?
Maxwell Alexandre: The Palais de Tokyo is allotting me the largest exhibition space I have ever had. I am going to present Novo Poder, a sub-series of Pardo é Papel, which as I mentioned was created to talk about the physical presence of the black community in museums, foundations and galleries. We are already working hard on it!

Follow Maxwell Alexandre on Instagram: @maxwell_alexandre
Follow Maria-Theresia Pongracz on Instagram: @mt_mathisen

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virtual gallery space
virtual gallery space

FLOCK (shown here in the deTour 2020 virtual space) is an interactive artwork by Whatever Inc. and one of Shin Wong’s favourites from this year’s festival

Born in Taipei and raised in New Zealand, Shin Wong is a global creative influencer and this year’s curator-at-large of Hong Kong’s art and design festival deTour. Ahead of the festival’s virtual launch on Friday, LUX speaks to Wong about her favourite work at this year’s edition, the value of digital platforms and her love of French decadence

black and white portrait

Shin Wong

1. This is the first year that deTour is taking place online. Whilst this is clearly driven by the pandemic, do you think this format can offer added value to arts festivals and fairs in general?

Definitely! The mission of deTour is to introduce design talents from Hong Kong to the rest of the world and vice versa. It is also a perfect platform to showcase new innovative designs from overseas to the greater China region audiences. Through virtual connection, I believe we can bring like-minded people together, explore ideas and job opportunities, and moreover, celebrate the joy of creativity wherever you are.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

2. Can you tell us more about this year’s festival theme and your role in the curation process?

The theme this year is the “Matter of Life”. With all what’s happening around the world and the big social movement in the city last year, this is probably the most important and relevant topic we could reflect on. The pandemic gave us extra time to rethink what designers can bring to society today.

I am the curator-at-large of deTour and my job is to overlook the creatives and all the programmes from a holistic point of view. I’m kind of like a chef who is garnishing the menu, adding extra flavours and spice, except that my job involves inviting and commissioning awesome, best-fit designers and providing different perspectives for the team, curators and artists to think about.

monochrome art

The Book of Ashes by Cheung Hon Him at dePont 2020

3. What are the benefits of bringing art and design together in one exhibition?

I think it’s impossible to separate art and design! It is our job to find balance in how we showcase novelty designs and expressive art in a big-scale festival. The curation itself is a piece of art.

Read more:  ‘I’m sick and tired of self-obsessed art’ says visual artist Afshin Naghouni

4. What design trends do you predict we’ll be seeing more of in 2021 and beyond?

Personally, I would like to see more work on sustainable designs. We’ve already caused enough damage to our world and we are all responsible to make it better.

digital artwork

God Catcher by Riyo & Obie at dePont 2020

5. Do you have a favourite era of art and design from history?

The French Neoclassical Period (Louis XVI era) where everything was over-the-top lavish, pure decadence. One can never get bored looking at the art and design from that era.

6. If you had to select one piece from this year’s festival, what would it be and why?

“FLOCK” – a simple and beautiful digital interactive work, celebrating life, love and joy. Exactly what we need! I am also a fan of Masashi Kawamura‘s work, and so we are super excited to have Whatever Inc. at deTour this year.

deTour 2020 takes place virtually from 27 November to 6 December. For more information visit: detour.hk

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artist in the studio

Afshin Naghouni in his studio. Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Born in Iran, visual artist Afshin Naghouni immigrated to London in his mid-twenties where he began to establish a reputation for his imaginative and dynamic artworks that blur the lines between figurative and abstract. Ahead of his upcoming exhibition in January 2021, LUX contributing editor Maryam Eisler visits and photographs the artist in his London studio

Maryam Eisler: So right now, I’m looking at your self-portrait. It’s complex…
Afshin Naghouni: When you do a self-portrait, or any focus on configuration, you tend to go towards the physical features, making sure that it looks like it should do. The moment you go towards abstraction, it becomes about focusing on other things rather than the obvious. A lot of it is conscious or self-conscious. I think a self-portrait needs to be more accurate than straightforward representation.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Maryam Eisler: Yes, I see very few cues about you in the physical sense. Is it difficult to define oneself?
Afshin Naghouni: It is if you think about it; I don’t think about it much. When I was doing it I just thought: this is me painting my inner being. I just splattered myself all over the canvas trying to think about what I am and most importantly what I am not!

Maryam Eisler: Yes, it looks like you splattered your guts! Talk to me about the reality of the last five months for you; this period of confinement and self-isolation. How have ‘Covidian times’ affected your mind, and your psyche ?
Afshin Naghouni: For me, the only direct consequence is that I have not been able to paint. Of course, I’ve doodled around at home, but nothing can replace the air in this place [the studio]. I just love it. Sometimes I don’t even paint; I just sit around, I listen to music and I breathe the air. So not being able to come to the studio for me was difficult. So what did I do instead? Well, I painted in my head, cut off from the outside world!

studio painting

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: What do you mean by ‘painting in your head’?
Afshin Naghouni: It becomes a race between what I can bring into my head and what goes onto the canvas. My mind is always way ahead of me, and I am constantly trying to catch up. When it happens, it is exciting. because you can’t stop and it becomes more physical, the application and all that. The other thing that can happen, of course, is that you haven’t figured anything out and you just want to paint. It becomes a slur because you can be ahead of your thoughts on the canvas, and you need to come back, have a cigarette, have a coffee, and try to figure out what you are trying to do. They are both equally exciting and challenging. Well, not challenging; painting is not hard. The hardest thing is just trying to keep working, and stay motivated.

abstract painting

Untitled #6  (2017), mixed media on canvas 150×120 cm from Afshin Naghouni’s Nostalgia & Reminiscence series

Maryam Eisler: Have you managed to remain motivated during the last few months?
Afshin Naghouni: During this whole period, I have been desperate to work. I only went out for essentials for four months. My issue is that I like people. I am a social creature. I need to have human contact and connection, and a lot of it. So, not having been able to come here [into the studio], to work and see friends, has been very difficult.

Maryam Eisler: But has it also afforded you the gift of time?
Afshin Naghouni: I have had the time to slow down. To kind of bring together all my thoughts and to reflect on the things that are moving me forward. My struggles are more conceptual in nature. For example, I have never been a great fan of abstract painting and that is primarily because I have fundamental problems with modernism, and what it stands for in its essence.

Read more: Why do we act the worst with those we love the most?

Maryam Eisler: What are those problems?
Afshin Naghouni: I find modernism just like [Clement] Greenberg did: elitist, sexist, inaccessible. I am not saying that art has to be accessible, but today, I am personally focused on form, movement, rhythm and the attempt to breathe emotion into the canvas. In the past, I would start with abstract forms on the canvas and I would gradually work my way to make it representational. I think I am going backwards now. I find that reverse process interesting and exciting. I want to create overall compositions filled with life and energy, paintings that are visually engaging, playful and experimental.

I don’t care if it’s done before one way or another. We are at a point where not much is left undone. I pinch, borrow and steal from those before me, to make things work, to empty my guts on the canvas, and then I use my knowledge to polish it. I really don’t know if it’s any good and to be honest I’m too old to overthink it.

Maryam Eisler: Is that not part of the artist’s journey?
Afshin Naghouni: I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and about why I’m doing what I’m doing – trying to make sense of it in my own head. The truth (whatever that is) is that I am sick and tired of identity-centred, self-obsessed art; art that sacrifices a great deal in order to cement the artist’s place as Middle Eastern, African, female, LGBTQ etc; art that identifies the person with everything under the sun, except for being an artist; art focused on addressing something seemingly so profound that it ceases to be art – all that self-obsessed, self-indulgent, pretentious pile of shit that crawls up gallery walls!

paintings in artist studio

Photograph by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler: How about art-driven identity instead of identity-driven art?
Afshin Naghouni: Ah! The art market is such a precarious thing and it has been for such a long time. I do not pander to it much. You have to, first and foremost, please yourself, present yourself I guess. It takes courage to move in different directions and it takes conviction. The truth is that I get bored! I cannot sit down and do the same thing for years on end even if I know my collector base likes certain types of my paintings. I don’t want to leave any what ifs… So I am experimenting all the time.

Maryam Eisler: How many paintings do you trash?
Afshin Naghouni: [Laughs] I do not trash. I do not burn. I just put aside.

Maryam Eisler: Who amongst art historical figures has affected you the most?
Afshin Naghouni: Picasso.

Read more: Artnet’s Sophie Neuendorf’s guide to shopping for art online

Maryam Eisler: What is it about Picasso‘s work that appeals to you?
Afshin Naghouni: His carefreeness, I think.

Maryam Eisler: Is there one of his paintings in particular that comes to mind?
Afshin Naghouni: I will always be in love of his analytic period, but I am also very much enjoying the paintings he did of his lover Marie Therese around 1932-33. I love the freedom of application and the loose strokes, childish, free and sensuous at the same time.

Maryam Eisler: Who else inspires you?
Afshin Naghouni: [Anselm] Kiefer, Cecily Brown, Caravaggio.

Maryam Eisler: What is it about Kiefer’s work?
Afshin Naghouni: The sheer scale, and his ability to achieve such amazing compositions within that scale. He is one of those few artists who has found the perfect balance between form and concept.

abstract earthy painting

Nostalgia (2017), mixed media on canvas 160×200 cm from Afshin Naghouni’s Nostalgia & Reminiscence series

Maryam Eisler: Is that something you are striving for?
Afshin Naghouni: I am still trying to find that balance. Now I do not pay that much attention to concept any more; I focus on form instead. I find it exciting, it gives me energy to think about the things I want to do.

Maryam Eisler: What are you reading right now?
Afshin Naghouni: I am reading The Art of Creative Thinking by Rod Judkins. The author is a Central St Martins graduate. You do not have to be an artist to be creative. Everybody is born with creative genes. They just get suppressed by life events. I’m also reading Sapiens by Yuval Noah Harari, but it kind of depresses me.

Maryam Eisler: Why does it depress you?
Afshin Naghouni: The future that Hariri describes is not the kind of society I want to live in.

Maryam Eisler: Do you mean that you like humanity with all its flaws?
Afshin Naghouni: Yes, absolutely. I had this deep and heated conversation with a friend recently, who insisted that art and artists are going to become irrelevant, and that AI is going to create the very best art that art can ever be. But how is that possible? Until AI can get angry, can cry, can fall in love the way that we, as humans, can, it will surely never be able to surpass art created by human hands. Frankly, I would rather not be around when or if AI is ruling the world. It is often our human flaws that add greatness to any artwork.

abstract painting

Untitled #3 (2017), mixed media on canvas 160×200 cm from Afshin Naghouni’s Nostalgia & Reminiscence series

Maryam Eisler: Do you have an overall concept for your upcoming show in January?
Afshin Naghouni: I just want to paint between now and then the way I want to paint, free, without overthinking the process. If I only have five paintings by then, then that will be it.

Maryam Eisler: Talk to me about the courageous choice of colours in your paintings and the energy they exude.
Afshin Naghouni: Those who are familiar with my work know well that it never used to be this colourful. That’s why I say, I feel I have really rediscovered colour. I like and want to play, and if colour is the exciting dimension in the game, then let’s put it to work. I’m also a city boy. I like big cities with all the people that inhabit them. I am in love with London. It is a melting pot of cultures and that in itself is pure colour. The energy in this place is unique. I equally love the countryside, but after two weeks away, I need to return to urban colour.

Maryam Eisler: Finally, I want to talk to you about place. You mentioned that you love London, and urban life. What about the location of this particular studio [in Ladbroke Grove], and the connections that you’ve made with your local community?
Afshin Naghouni: It is amazing. First of all, in this line of arches here, there are mechanics, fashion designers, recording studios, different kinds of professionals working together, next to one another. I know them and they know me. It feels good. I like the walk from here to home and back. I never get tired of the route; everything about it offers me a colourful visual canvas of life in London. When I am going down the road, I just listen to the sounds that accompany me all along, and I feel the energy. I love everything about it. The community around here is also very strong; we try to make things work together all the time. We rely on one another. I really miss that interconnectivity.

Discover more of Afshin Naghouni’s artworks: afshinnaghouni.com
For more information on the artist’s upcoming show at HJ gallery in January 2021 visit: hjartgallery.com

Note: this interview was conducted prior to the UK lockdown in November 2020.

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art exhibition installation

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

watercolour portrait

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

self portrait

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

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

self portrait painting

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

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

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

mask sculpture

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

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

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

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

Tom Cornelius

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abstract painting
abstract painting

Soul Healing by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

This Friday will see the public opening of Rebirth, an exhibition of new paintings and the unveiling of a major public installation by French-Iranian artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar in the French commune of Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat

Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar‘s latest exhibition, aptly entitled Rebirth marks the inauguration of the beautifully restored Villa Namouna, Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat’s brand new cultural space, alongside the unveiling of a major, public sculpture commission.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

The exhibition, which opens on Friday 11 September with a private view on Thursday 10 September, comprises twenty-five recent paintings, executed in Behnam-Bakhtiar’s distinctive style which involves the scraping and blending of thick, vibrantly-hued oil paints to create  highly emotive, dynamic works.

Abstract painting

Eternal Rose Garden by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Amongst the paintings on show are a selection from the artist’s latest series ‘The Flowers of the Soul’, which feature stylised depictions of flowers created by scraping away a painting’s surface layers to reveal its multicolour substrata. The flowers hold a deeply personal significance for the artist, connected to certain traumatic and transformative memories of war and imprisonment in Iran, whilst also situating his contemporary practice alongside the likes of Cézanne who similarly fell in love with the region’s climate and flora.

Read more: Ornellaia launches auction with label designs by Tomás Saraceno

abstract coloured painting

Summer Immortal Rose Garden by Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar

Behnam-Bakhtiar’s new sculpture, also entitled ‘Rebirth’, will be permanently installed at the Place Des Anciens Combattants D’A.F.N. with a smaller version at the Espace de la Theatre de la Mer. Created from welded sections of wrought iron, sprayed white, the sculpture takes the form of a combined silhouette of three people (a woman, man and child), depicting ‘the value of transferring the necessary knowledge from one generation to another.’

‘I think it’s vital for parents to really think about what kind of knowledge they pass on to their children… [part of that] is the understanding that we are part of nature, and that we are all one,’ says the artist. ‘I’m made of the same things as you are and both of us are made of the same things as nature, which is energy, at the end of the day.’

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

For more information visit: sassanbehnambakhtiar.com

 

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black and white portrait man and woman
woman by swimming pool

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

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

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Audrey Hepburn

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

portrait of men laughing

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

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

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

woman smoking cigar

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

black and white portrait man and woman

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

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

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

 

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installation of octopus on roof
installation of octopus on roof

Installation view from Huang Yong Ping’s exhibition ‘Wu Zei’ at Musée océanographique de Monaco (represented by Kamel Mennour)

The art world has been hit harder than most industries by the global pandemic, but the industry is adapting quickly with new digital platforms and a renewed focus on local identities. Nick Hackworth speaks to three leading European galleries, Victoria Miro, Kamel Mennour and SETAREH, about the future and how their businesses are responding

‘It was too much’ is an almost universal sentiment expressed now by those at the top of art world reflecting on pre-Covid times. For those caught up in the global merry-go-round of art fairs, biennales and major openings, the disconnect between the art – the thing-in-itself – and the business and culture around it, was increasing apparent year on year.

The energy and flavour of that now, suddenly distant world is brilliantly captured in the prologue of Boom, Michael Shnayeson’s recently published account of the rise of the contemporary art market. His opening scene is set in the Grand Hotel Les Trois Rois on the eve of Art Basel 2017, where the mega dealers are congregating: ‘Gagosian has flown to Basel on his $60 million Bombardier General Express jet two days before the fair’s first choice VIP preview… Most other dealers would arrive on Monday, a day before the fair’s coveted VIP opening. A few, like silver haired blue chip dealer Bill Acquavella, would arrive in their own planes. Others would descend at Basel’s EuroAirport in NetJets filled with collectors and money, like an art world air force.’

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Basel was, of course, just one of the many stops in a hyper-globalised art world sustained by an increasingly intense circulation of people and product. In a bid to capture as much of that energy as possible the biggest galleries, the likes of Gagosian, Pace and Hauser & Wirth opened spaces across the world, becoming truly global businesses.

Generally speaking, however, art is an object of aesthetic and intellectual contemplation, often revealing more of itself to those willing and able to take the time to look and think – a resource squandered by a culture of constant travel. Then the pandemic hit, the music stopped – cue much soul-searching about the systemic problems in the art world, prime among them, an profound imbalance between the global and local.

Victoria Miro, London & Venice

Founded in 1985, Victoria Miro is one of the most significant contemporary galleries in the world and a foundational presence in the London art scene, representing some 40 international artists and artist estates. The gallery has a boutique space in Venice, and a space in Mayfair, London, but without doubt the gallery’s spiritual home is its extraordinary complex of voluminous spaces designed by Claudio Silvestrin in its building on Wharf Road in East London.

Victoria Miro and gallery partner Glenn Scott Wright in Victoria Miro Mayfair, with artworks by Yayoi Kusama
Artworks courtesy the artist, Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro. © YAYOI KUSAMA

Glen Scott Wright: “We don’t see ourselves as specific to a locale. Our artists come from all over the world, they show all over the world, and the world comes to London. I think London is a great place to be for that. In the past, of course, we were able to to engage with specific localities through art fairs. For a while we were doing something like twelve or thirteen fairs a year but obviously that will change now and we’re finding different ways of addressing that global marketplace. The digital marketplace is going to be an increasingly important, of course.

Read more: Meet the winners of Prince Albert II of Monaco Foundation’s awards

We recently did a collaborative project with David Zwirner called Side by Side, where we created a micro-site, showing some of the artists that we both work with. We also used the occasion to launch an extended-reality app called Vortic Collect, a project that Ollie, Victoria’s son, has been developing for three years now. On Vortic people can actually enter our spaces virtually and look at art. They can walk around a Grayson Perry sculpture, they can walk up to a Njideka Akunyili Crosby painting and look at it close-up. It’s really very exciting that people can look at exhibitions on their phones or their iPads and have an accurate experience, in terms of being able to see what the art is like.

Building facade

Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW. Courtesy Victoria Miro. Photograph © James Morris.

artwork sculptures by river

Installation view of THE MOVING MOMENT WHEN I WENT TO THE UNIVERSE
, by Yayoi Kusama, Victoria Miro, Waterside Garden, 16 Wharf Road, London N1 7RW. 3 October – 21 December 2018. Courtesy the artist, Ota Fine Arts and Victoria Miro. © YAYOI KUSAMA

We’ve actually doing well in terms of sales on these digital platforms. We’ve had opened a sell-out show with Flora Yukhnovich on Vortic. The project with David Zwirner was very successful for us as was Frieze New York online. This illustrates an interesting point. I have clients of the old-school variety who’ve been collecting for decades and faithfully go to all the major fairs, biennales and openings. Some of them have written to me and said, ‘Look, we’ve always bought art that we can see, experience and engage with in the gallery, at an art fair, or see in a major exhibition. That’s not going to happen anymore. We’re not travelling. We’ve never bought art digitally, but we still want to buy art! So we’re going to be buying art and looking at digital images for the first time.’ These are several conversations that I’m merging together. But, in essence, the way people engage with art is changing and I think that’s a really interesting paradigm shift.

In terms of what change we would like to see happen in the art world as a result of this crisis, the change of pace is good. I mean, the amount of travelling I was doing! I just looked at first ten weeks of the year in my diary and I was in a different city, at a different opening, at a different event, at a different exhibition every other day. And this is all over the world, from Paris to Asia, to Australia to the States. Literally, just bouncing around all these places. I was recently scrolling through my photos and it was just pictures of planes and airports and different cities and dinners and openings and artists. My life was crazy! So less travel would be great and in terms of global warming it’s good that we’re not shipping things willy-nilly all over the world. Just having a little bit of breathing space has been fantastic.”

Find out more: victoria-miro.com

Kamel Mennour, Paris & London

Man in suit

Kamel Mennour

One of the world’s most respected gallerists, Kamel Mennour has been in business for over 20 years. His roster includes some 40 artists, including Tatiana Trouvé, Anish Kapoor, Lee Ufan, Daniel Buren, Douglas Gordon, Philippe Parreno, Martin Parr and Ugo Rondinone. Mennour is known for the quality of his program, going the extra mile to realise the creative ambitions of his artists and for championing his home town of Paris. He has three galleries in the city, two on the left bank and one on the right bank on the prestigious Avenue Matignon, as well as a boutique London space in the Claridge’s building.

Kamel Mennour: “People were often offering me opportunities to open everywhere. Bigger spaces in London, New York or Hong Kong and I was always saying no. I prefer to be extremely stable and to be extremely confident and strong in my city. I decided long ago that being Parisian was in the DNA of the gallery.

Read more: Bentley reveals its sleek new Bentayga model

As you may know, twenty years ago, Paris was totally empty, there was nothing in terms of contemporary art. I was thinking that I could, along with others, help restore Paris’ place in the art world. Also I didn’t want to be the number 38 in New York, you know? In Paris I am one of the key players, the one that the Pompidou Centre or the Palais de Tokyo calls. But of course, in order to expand and promote my artists and the gallery, my strategy is to be ambitious at art fairs like Frieze or Basel, and to stage extremely strong displays that keep the attention of the art world.

gallery front

Kamel Mennour’s gallery space on Avenue Matignon, Paris

installation artwork

An installation by Tatiana Trouvé at Kamel Mennour’s booth at Frieze London 2018

When we opened the space on Avenue Matignon [on the right bank of Paris], people said, ‘Are you kidding? Why are you opening there?’ The right bank, yes, that’s where the wealthy collectors live, but for contemporary art at that time, it was a desert, a total no man’s land. People are coming there now, but my idea was quite retro. In the thirties and the forties, before the second World War, the right bank was where the centre of Paris’ contemporary art scene, but it collapsed as France collapsed. So I wanted try to do something new and bring something back. I said to myself, instead of opening something weak in New York, I would prefer to be confident and strong in my own city and to be very present. When a collector or the director of a museum wants to see me, I’m here. I can be extremely reactive and I am always taking the subway or an Uber to meet people. I also represent artists from my city. Some of my artists are based in Berlin or New York, but most of them are here and I’m always trying to persuade artists to come and live in Paris.

Now, with lockdown, the world we knew before – with planes and travel – is gone. Now, I’m thinking every day how lucky I was to have had this intuition, to be strong here. I wish them all the best, but it will be extremely difficult for those galleries that have places all over the world to manage in this new world.”

Find out more: kamelmennour.com

SETAREH, Düsseldorf

man with artworks

Samandar Setareh

Founded in 2013 by two brothers – Samandar Setareh and Elham Setareh – SETAREH grew out of a third generation family-run business specialising in textile art. That background eventually led them to open the gallery which now has three spaces in Düsseldorf, including two on the city’s grandest avenue, Koenigsallee and one, SETAREH X, that showcases emerging artists. With its broad program of global contemporary art, the gallery has brought a new and vital energy to the venerable Rhineland art scene.  Highlights have included shows of new Iranian and Chinese contemporary art, as well museum quality shows of major German art such as Hans Hartung and the Zero group.

Samandar Setareh: “I think this pandemic will have a profound effect on the art world. I already see successful business models being challenged. Galleries that had detached themselves from their artists and their natural collector base and moved into a kind of travelling environment and artificial marketplace are going to find it difficult. Galleries that are are deeply rooted in relation to their collectors and their artists will be the winners of this new time which we are facing. This is an approach we’ve had from the beginning. On starting the gallery, we decided to be deeply rooted in this area and to make that a point of excellence in a sense. We have deep relations with the collectors and collections here, and we’re very close to the institutions of the regions. We have world-class museums in this area, the Ludwig museum in Cologne is very close, the NRW Collection in Düsseldorf and one of the best things is that we have is the Kunstakademie Düsseldorf, which has produced perhaps 75% of the very important German artists in the post-war period. So while Düsseldorf isn’t a financial hub compared to places like Paris, London or New York, it’s a cultural production hub.

Read more: Founder of London Art Studies Kate Gordon on digital art history

sculpture in gallery

‘Light and Ceramics’ by Otto Piene at SETAREH Gallery, 2014

installation exhibition

Installation view of Zero group exhibition at SETAREH gallery, Düsseldorf

When we started in 2013, the art market was exploding in terms of how international it was becoming. The Rhineland then was still dominated by all big artists, such as Gerhard Richter, Sigmar Polke and Joseph Beuys (who all come from the Düsseldorf Academy), the Zero art movement, Markus Lüpertz and Jörg Immendorff and so on. They dominated the way people collected and accepted art. Being from a mixed German and Persian background, one of our missions was to expand and broaden the kind of art that collectors in the region looked at and to make it more diverse, culturally. So we staged the first Italian Modernism art exhibition in Germany, the first contemporary Iranian art show in the region and have showed artists from China and so on. That’s why we also had to have a number of different spaces in the city so that we can show a wide range of art at the same time.”

Find out more: setareh-gallery.com

Nick Hackworth is a writer and curator of Modern Forms, an art collection and curatorial platform founded by Hussam Otaibi, Managing Partner at Floreat Group.

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Reading time: 11 min
Gallery exhibition of art
artworks hanging on wall

Installation view of ‘Works on Paper’ by Peter Schuyff at Carl Kostyál Gallery, London

Peter Schuyff was a central figure in New York’s East Village scene in the 1980s, where he worked for a period at Studio 54, sitting for Andy Warhol and living in the historic Chelsea Hotel. Over the years, his artistic language has evolved from loose figuration to abstraction. Following the opening and subsequent suspension of two consecutive exhibitions at White Cube, Masons’ Yard and Carl Kostyál, London, Nick Hackworth speaks to the artist about lockdown, nothingness and Sylvester Stallone

LUX: So, how’s the apocalypse going for you?
Peter Schuyff: Well, I’ve run out of pencil lead unfortunately. I’ve started work on this very obsessive project and I was using a rather specialised pencil and half-way through I ran out of lead and I can’t think of a single place where I might get more…. I’ve been working on these samplers. It’s what I often do when I get frustrated, or right after a big show. I sit down and make these very obsessive renderings that are like a smorgasbord or a sampler of all my oeuvres.

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LUX: Like the one you had in your show at Carl Kostyál Gallery a few years back?
Peter Schuyff: Yes, that one was called Plato Combinato. That’s a really good example. At the moment, I’m making a portrait of the show that I have at the White Cube.

Abstract artwork on wall

Plato Combinato (2010), Peter Schuyff

LUX: Why do you think you tend to do these sampler works after completing shows? Are you visually cataloguing or processing the shows?
Peter Schuyff: Yeah, I’m visually cataloguing the show I guess, just so I can see it clearly. I’ve always had a fascination with pictures of pictures, whether it’s in 17th Dutch paintings where you often see paintings hanging in the background or in those preposterous 18th century paintings of salons. I’ve often commissioned friend to make drawings or paintings of my drawings and paintings. They help me see my own work a little bit clearer.

LUX: I managed to catch your show just before it got locked-down along with the rest of the world. It’s stunning, so congratulations, but commiserations on the timing. How are you feeling about it all?
Peter Schuyff: It hurts, of course. I’ve been looking forward to this for a couple of years now and I guess I was expecting the show to be a liminal moment for me, y’know? With a before and after. Somehow, that before and after thing has been taken away a bit. But if it would have been a show of new paintings, I think I would have been really destroyed.

Read more: Art photographer Senta Simond on the female image

LUX: Because of all the labour you would have invested in the work?
Peter Schuyff: No, no, it’s not the invested labour, it’s about momentum. When I show new paintings, they’re paintings I want to show now, not later. Do you know what I mean? Whereas these painting were shown last year (in a touring show at Le Consortium, Dijon and Fri Art, Fribourg) and many people know them already, so it doesn’t feel quite as much of a loss.

LUX: What’s it like walking into a show of your works from three to almost four decades ago? Do you still feel connected to the paintings?
Peter Schuyff: I’m really impressed by them! I’m impressed that I was young and handsome [laughs] and so I could afford not to give a shit, which is a great recipe for making paintings! Today, I’m old and cynical so I have another way of not giving a shit, which enables me to make really clean and clear paintings and I love that. There was a lot of time in between where I couldn’t do that. When I see these works I always surprised at how big they are and how much balls I had. My God! Especially the paintings at White Cube, the audacity I had.

Gallery exhibition of art

Installation view from ‘Works on Paper’ by Peter Schuyff at Carl Kostyál Gallery, London

LUX: We’ve talked over the years and you’ve always said your paintings are ‘about nothing’. Is that how you thought about the paintings when you were making them back in the 80s?
Peter Schuyff: Yeah, I did. A teacher of mine in Vancouver, Michael Morris, used to talk about the problem of nothing. I guess it was almost a spiritual principle of work not needing to be about something. When I got to New York, that came more naturally, but I always talked about my work in this way and it’s always been an issue. When I showed in Germany in the mid-80s, I remember a lot of the German artists being mystified by how little was there was going in the work.

LUX: In your other show at Carl Kostyál, you’re showing several of your 80s watercolour works, which I love. I’ve been trying to get my head around how you achieve the precise gradations of colour and shade in them?
Peter Schuyff: So, I’ll answer it this way. That great big painting downstairs at White Cube, the one with the prism of colours, it’s a ten-foot-square canvas, and it’s broken up into one-inch units, and I made that with a four-inch brush with a round bristle. So knowing that, you should be able to figure out how I made them… It’s the same with those watercolours. Those watercolours were broken up into little squares that are about a half a centimetre squared or something? There’s no way I’m going to pay attention to each of those little squares.

watercolour artworks hanging on wall

Both Untitled (1990), watercolour on paper, Peter Schuyff at Carl Kostyál Gallery, London

LUX: Well, it’s a very effective trick then, because the apparent precision is amazing in those works.
Peter Schuyff: And just like a good magic show, it’s all about engineering.

Read more: Boundary-breaking artist Barbara Kasten on light & perception

polaroid of two men and a woman

Peter Schuyff with Sylvester Stallone and Brigitte Nielsen

LUX: In the book accompanying ‘Works on Paper’, there’s picture of you with Brigitte Nielsen and Sylvester Stallone. I gather Stallone is a bit of a collector?
Peter Schuyff: Oh yeah, a very sensitive collector. One time that I remember particularly was when Sylvester came to my house. I had all these Louis M Eilshemius paintings on the wall and Sylvester walks in and – I can’t do a Stallone impression, I wish I could –  says, ‘Oh my God, you have all these Louis M Eilshemius paintings!’ He knew exactly who Louis M Eilshemius was despite him being a totally obscure American cultural presence in the 1910s and 1920s. I was so impressed. Sylvester was so well read about American art from the early 20th century, The Ashcan School period and so on. He was so smart. Another time we met in Los Angeles and he gave me a tour of the post-production set of Rocky and I met Apollo Creed, which is the guy he fights at the end of the film.

LUX: Sounds like an interesting time.
Peter Schuyff: Well, it was different. When I first showed up in New York there was this idea of the underground. It was about glamour that was absolutely free. All you had to be was some kind of fabulous. It didn’t matter what kind.

Peter Schuyff’s exhibitions ‘Works on Paper’ at Carl Kostyál Gallery, London and ‘In Focus’ at White Cube, Mason’s Yard, London both opened in March 2020 and are currently suspended due to Covid-19. For further updates visit: kostyal.comwhitecube.com

Nick Hackworth is the Director of Modern Forms, a contemporary art collection and platform founded by British financier, Hussam Otaibi. For more information visit: modernforms.org

 

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Reading time: 6 min
Artist working in his studio vintage photograph
Artist working in his studio vintage photograph

Picasso and ceramic (owl) by David Douglas Duncan (Spring 1957), Villa La Californie, Cannes © David Douglas Duncan © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate David Douglas Duncan

For a special exhibition at Vieux Chalet in Gstaad, Hauser & Wirth brings together ceramics and paintings by Picasso alongside a series of portrait photographs by David Duncan Douglas to provide a fascinating exploration of creativity, intimacy and space.

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Duncan himself was a renowned war photographer and photojournalist, who first encountered Picasso in 1956 when he  infamously rang the doorbell of La Californie, the artist’s home in Cannes. At the time, Picasso was in the bathtub and allowed Duncan to photograph him right then and there, leading onto a lasting friendship which granted the photographer unprecedented access into the artist’s creative processes. Over the course of seventeen years, Duncan took approximately 25,000 images of Picasso, documenting not just Picasso himself, but also his family and friends.

Father and son playing wrestling

Battle between Claude and his father wearing Gary Cooper’s cowboy hat by David Douglas Duncan, July 1957, Villa La Californie, Cannes © David Douglas Duncan © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate David Douglas Duncan

Painter and a painted portrait of a woman

Pablo Picasso with the portrait Jacqueline à l’écharpe noire (1954) by David Douglas Duncan, 1957, Villa La Californie, Cannes © David Douglas Duncan © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019. Courtesy the estate David Douglas Duncan

Duncan’s photographs and Picasso’s artworks are displayed side by side throughout the domestic spaces of the chalet, emphasising the intimacy of the photographic perspective as well as the connection between the two distinct artistic mediums. In some of the images, Picasso is seen actively engaging with the lens whilst others are more candid, showing the artist amongst his easels, books, brushes and paints.

Read more: How Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar aims to inspire change

Ceramic vase painted with man's bearded head

Bearded man’s head (1948) by Pablo Picasso © Succession Picasso/DACS, London 2019Courtesy Succession Picasso

The artist’s ceramics are amongst the most captivating works on display, as everyday objects such as bowls and vases are transformed into animal-like creatures through warped swollen shapes and dynamic painted lines. Seen alongside Duncan’s photographs, Picasso’s creative energy becomes even more palpable as does the friendship between the two artists caught in subtle gestures and glances.

‘Picasso Through the Lens of David Douglas Duncan’ runs until 28 February 2020 at Le Vieux Chalet in Gstaad. For more information visit: hauserwirth.com/hauser-wirth-exhibitions/26682-pablo-picasso-lens-david-douglas-duncan

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Reading time: 2 min
Installation shot of contemporary art exhibition
Woman standing in front of abstract painting

The gallery’s founder Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar in front of a painting by Farzad Kohan in the exhibition ‘Human Being, Being Human’

Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar, a new gallery in the heart of Monaco, celebrates its opening with an exhibition of works by Iranian-American artist Farzad Kohan, but it is no ordinary commercial enterprise, as Rebecca Anne Proctor discovers

A visit to Monte Carlo is like stepping inside a gallery filled with glistening works of art. The picturesque town, with its expansive sea views, its numerous neatly landscaped gardens, countless restaurants, luxury boutiques and cultural institutions, continues to fuse its regal past with its new contemporary character.90

Entering this mix of glamour and culture is a new art gallery, Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar, which opened its doors in December 2019. Named after its founder, the art collector and wife of artist Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar, the gallery is dedicated to contemporary and modern art and highlighting works by established and emerging international artists.

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While the Behnam-Bakhtiars are known for their support of the Iranian art scene, particularly through the Fondation Behnam-Bakhtiar, where Maria holds the role of curator of the permanent collection, Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar will not limit its exhibitions or roster of artists to any particular culture or nationality. “The nationality of an artist is not what is important; what is crucial is the art and what the artist is trying to say. My mission is to show established and emerging artists from all over the world,” Maria says. The art and objects on show will be specially curated and exclusive to the gallery.

Located close to the Nouveau Musée National de Monaco at the Villa Sauber and to the Grimaldi Forum (which hosts the annual artmonte-carlo art fair), the gallery has placed itself at the heart of the city’s art centre. “Monaco is such a great place for art and culture,” says Maria. “Moreover, here in Monaco we have a wonderful group of collectors, some based locally and others who return regularly. We aim to add a new and exciting dimension to the Monaco art scene with our diverse programming.”

Installation shot of contemporary art exhibition

Installation shot of Farzad Kohan’s exhibition ‘Human Being, Being Human’ at Galerie Behnam-Bakhtiar in Monaco

Woman in front of abstract paintingMonaco offers a particular segment to the European art market. “It boasts highly influential residents and visitors who provide the perfect platform and exposure for our artists,” adds Maria. “And, for generations, the Prince’s family in addition to the government of Monaco have been great supporters of the arts.” Anyone who knows the city will be familiar with its buzzing social life, its numerous galas, operas, ballets and art exhibitions. “It’s wonderful that we will now be a part of this exciting agenda,” adds Maria. “It’s a place where you can really foster connections.”

Read more: Audemars Piguet’s Olivia Giuntini on art and women’s watches

Maria has been on the international art scene since 2009, firstly through the Fondation Behnam-Bakhtiar, established to promote emerging and established Iranian artists, and secondly as a collector. “I have been collecting art and supporting artists for a long time and this gallery is a way for me to further solidify my love of art,” says Maria, who has also hosted multiple non-profit functions in support of the arts in Saint-Jean-Cap-Ferrat. “I do what I do out of love,” she adds. “A gallery, like an artwork, is born of passion and dedication.”

The gallery will stage five to six exhibitions per year with, she says, “no specific geographic focus”. The gallery’s inaugural exhibition is ‘Human Being, Being Human’, by Los Angeles-based Iranian-American artist Farzad Kohan. The works on show, with their vibrant palette and meticulously drawn abstract lines, explore a segment of human experience, one marked by positive affirmations. “Farzad’s work was so important for us to start with because of the universal themes he addresses,” states Maria. “His paintings go beyond national and cultural boundaries. He speaks about love, kindness and humanity – themes that touch everyone from all walks of life.”

Abstract painting hanging on gallery wall

One of the paintings by Farzad Kohan’s in the exhibition ‘Human Being, Being Human’

The works exhibited in ‘Human Being, Being Human’ are being seen for the first time at the gallery. In one painting, replete with numerous thin lines, Kohan has written in his signature style the phrase “I have the power”. While at first this might appear boastful, when the viewer looks at the title of the work, To Change, they might think otherwise. “The way one perceives Farzad’s paintings is left up to the viewer’s own perspective,” Maria explains. In another painting. the word “everyday” is repeated, prompting the beholder to focus on the meaning of each instance. Then, as in the former work, one can see the title of the painting: Thankful. Indeed, gratitude for the everyday and for everything in life is a vital component to living a more compassionate existence. “I am a big fan of positive thinking and energy and I think it’s so wonderful to have a work in your home that offers positivity through beauty,” notes Maria.

Kohan’s work places an emphasis on form and material allowing for a reflection on the accumulation of various parts that make up a whole. For Kohan, art creation is akin to the diasporic experience, with which the artist, born in Tehran and now living in LA, is familiar. All stages, materials and processes, like all chapters in life, are part of a larger work and greater vision for the artist. In addition to his paintings, Kohan also makes installations and works on paper, particularly ink drawings.

Read more: Meet Russian style and fitness guru Polina Kitsenko

“He has developed signature techniques which he applies so skilfully to his multi-layered paintings,” says Maria. “I really connected to his ‘Human Being, Being Human’ series, where each painting is poetic, sentimental and beautiful not only visually but above all in its message. To me these works are brilliant because they incorporate various affirmations in the shape of an artwork.”.” Another facet of Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar’s activity is publishing. “Being a true bibliophile, one of the most exciting aspects of launching the gallery is the fact that we will run our own publishing house to produce books and catalogues to accompany our exhibitions.” This, in turn, Maria hopes, will open the door for dialogues between the gallery, its artists, curators, writers and of course, readers and visitors.

Installation view of abstract painting exhibition

The goal of the gallery, as Maria states, is to give back to the larger community. “I want the gallery to serve as a platform that inspires change and highlights the importance of social responsibility,” says Maria. “For every exhibition, we donate a portion of the proceeds to a selected organisation that makes this world a better place.”

While the gallery is in essence commercial, its aims are higher. “One of the main reasons I love art is for its educational side. I appreciate surprising angles, different views and the diversity that art offers in its subjects and many explorations,” she adds. Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar, like the artworks it chooses to exhibit, offers an artistic and peaceful space in the heart of busy Monaco – a brief escape through art from the chaos of modern life.

‘Human Being, Being Human’ by Farzad Kohan runs until 4 March 2020. For more information visit: mariabehnambakhtiar.com

This article was originally published in the Spring 2020 Issue.

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Exhibition installation shot
Exhibition installation shot

Installation view of Maturation by José Yaque (2020) at Galleria Continua Roma, St. Regis. Image courtesy the artist and Galleria Continua

Founded in 1990 by three friends in the Tuscan town of San Gimignano, Galleria Continua now represents the likes of Ai Weiwei, Anish Kapoor and Michelangelo Pistoletto with spaces in Havana, Paris and Beijing. Last week, the gallery opened its first location in Rome within the St Regis hotel. We spoke to co-founder Lorenzo Fiaschi about the opening, artist residency programs and the year ahead

Man wearing pink suit jacket and red trousers

Lorenzo Fiaschi, Co-Founder of Galleria Continua

1. Why Rome and why now?

The people, situations and places we encounter are what inspires us, our projects don’t come from how the “market” works or from collecting. When we find somewhere with which we feel a certain type of harmony, we launch ourselves into it, body and soul. We let ourselves get swept away by passion and luckily, results follow. In Rome, we have collector friends who follow and appreciate us, so we’re happy to create this new adventure in order to see them more often.

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2. How did you first develop a relationship with the St. Regis?

We started our collaboration with The St Regis Rome through a project with Loris Cecchini. His exhibition had great success and created a lot of interest and buzz. Some Romans were curious about the installation Blaublobbing that you could see from outside and entered the hotel to discover the other works. A place that hosts international artists while creating a dialogue between the works, the space and the guests that stay there is something new and it worked. We then followed that with an exhibition by Pascale Marthine Tayou, an artist who celebrates life through his works. Forms, colours and a mix of human and geographical oddities invaded The St Regis and it was another thrilling experience.

The General Manager, Giuseppe De Martino, from the beginning has been a promoter of an open relationship towards the world of contemporary art, at this point he showed us a very unusual wing of the hotel, unknown to guests, the Sala Diocleziano. We liked it and so accepted the challenge, imagining what it could become and deciding to open a new exhibition space.

Artist installation in hotel lobby

If I Died (2013), sculpture installation by Beijing artist duo Sun Yuan & Peng Yu installed in hotel lobby at St Regis Rome by Galleria Continua. Image courtesy: the artist and Galleria Continua. Photo by Ela Bialkowska, OKNO Studio

3. What are some of the challenges of opening a gallery within a hotel?

The challenge is to stimulate and draw in people who don’t know, or don’t frequent the contemporary art world. The challenge is to bring the gaze of the hotel guests onto forms and languages that are unusual for them. Art opens us up to new realities and new ways of thinking.

The educational aspects of Galleria Continua Roma’s program aim to bring children closer to contemporary art by providing them with suitable reading keys, not only for the understanding of an artistic language for the time they live in, but also for the creation of creative knowledge and stimulants. The intent is to educate about art through art.

4.Can you tell us about the concept behind José Yaque’s exhibition Maturation?

José Yaque, as the first artist in the new space, represents a continuation of the Cuban experience which began with the opening of Galleria Continua Habana. He’s a witness and representative of a gallery experience which aims to weave relationships between cultures, geographies and diverse individuals, Yaque conceptually represents a bridge between Cuba and Rome.

Read more: Artist Richard Orlinski on pop culture & creative freedom

For Maturation, he presents a series of new paintings and an installation from the ‘Tumba Abierta’ series, an archive in transformation made up of natural elements (plants, seeds, fruits, leaves); new forms of landscape where matter, colours and smells magically transport the viewer to other places. José Yaque’s paintings are like windows opening onto a landscape. Mixing and applying the colours using his hands, a sort of magma is formed and transformed when he wraps the works with plastic film before removing the protective layer, once dried, resulting in an eroded painting.

Installation view of exhibition with artworks hanging on walls

Installation view of ‘Maturation’ by José Yaque (2020) at Galleria Continua Roma, St. Regis. Image courtesy the artist and Galleria Continua

5. How will the artist residencies work?

We’ll also be launching an artist residency program that will be selected by an expert committee every 6 months, giving an opportunity to young artists from emerging countries to stay in the capital, to increment their personal and professional growth by confronting themselves with the immense contemporary, and antique Italian artistic heritage. The works done during these stays will be presented to the public in the spaces of the gallery.

6. What other developments do you have planned for this year?

Coming up, with the Chinese artists Sun Yuan & Peng Yu (their exhibition constitutes a third stage in the collaboration project with The St Regis Rome, after Loris Cecchini and Pascale Marthine Tayou) we organised talks at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Roma and a talk at the Accademia di Belle Arti di Carrara. We’re always open to any collaboration that can create an exchange and a dialogue.

In 2020, we are celebrating the thirtieth anniversary of Galleria Continua so there are many exciting things to come. At the end of the summer we are opening a new location in Sao Paulo in Brazil in the Pacaembu stadium, a historic building in the heart of the city, since 1940 it has been a central part of the city’s cultural life.

In September, we will be celebrating this anniversary where everything began, in San Gimignano with an exhibition of Chen Zhen inaugurating on 18, 19 and 20 September 2020.

‘Maturation’ by José Yaque runs until 28 March 2020 at Galleria Continua at The St Regis Rome. For more information visit: galleriacontinua.com

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Installation view of exhibition
Installation view of exhibition

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

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

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Artist sketchbook with pen drawing and notes

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

Ironing board installation artwork

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

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

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

Dress hanging from the ceiling installation

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

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

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

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installation view of artworks on gallery wall
installation view of artworks on gallery wall

Installation view of Lethe by Henrik Uldalen at JD Malat Gallery, Mayfair

Henrik Uldalen is a self-taught artist, who caught the attention of gallerist Jean-David Malat via his Instagram account. His impasto portraits depict the tumultuous variety of human emotion. Following the opening of his second solo show Lethe at JD Malat Gallery in Mayfair, we speak to the artist about inspiration, social media and the colour pink.

Artist sitting in sutdio

Artist Henrik Uldalen in his studio

1. Can you tell us about the concept for Lethe?

The show, in broad terms, is about history versus the collective memory, and how the zeitgeist of our time is polarising the society with the use of fear and glorified notions of the past.

2. What inspires you to start a new series or artwork?

Most of time I don’t need inspiration to start a new series. The need to create and express is always within, and if I don’t get it out of my system I know I won’t be a happy man. Over the years I’ve come to learn this about myself, and how to practically force myself out of the door in order to function as a person.

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3. Are the figures you paint imagined or drawn from personal memories?

The people you see are models that I approach, but all the figures are also me. Every piece I make is a self-portrait projected onto a stranger, expressing my inner most intimate feelings and moods.

Abstract portrait painting of a woman

Artwork by Henrik Uldalen

4. How do you think social media is impacting the way we view art?

Social media is a blessing and a curse. The way you’re able to reach out to people across the globe with the click of link is mind boggling. Especially growing up in a small town in Norway this impacted my career in a massive way. Unfortunately, I find social media too superficial and narrow to be able to convey any deeper meanings from the artist to the viewer. In the same way that you can’t fully appreciate a beautifully cooked dish described through even the most flowery language, you’re not able to feel a painting as you’re supposed to in a split second over a 13x7cm phone screen.

Painting of figures embracing against pink background

Artwork by Henrik Uldalen

5. The portraits in Lethe are set against a pink background. What significance does the colour have for you?

The colour pink in this exhibition represents the veil we cover our eyes with when we think back on our past. A comforting lie, telling us that everything will be fine as long as we return to our glory days.

Read more: Galerie Maria Behnam-Bakhtiar opens in Monte-Carlo

6. Which artists have most influenced your practice?

I usually look for inspiration in  fields of art other than my own. Movies, TV, books, plays and music are my main sources. I need to not understand the technical aspects of the artwork if I’m to appreciate the piece fully. If I see a painting I would immediately look for compositions, colour combinations and brush strokes, but in reality, I should just feel the piece of work.

‘Lethe’ by Henrik Uldalen runs until 11 January 2020 at JD Malat Gallery, 30 Davies St., Mayfair. For more information visit: jdmalat.com

 

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Abstract painting with geometric patterns
Abstract painting with pink and black

Punta Norte (2008), Ruben Alterio

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

Artist Ruben Alterio

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

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

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2. What inspires you to start a new painting?

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

Artist studio filled with artefacts and paintings

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

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

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

Read more: Why responsible travel means authenticity

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

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

 

Abstract artwork

Flores (2016), Ruben Alterio

5. How often do you throw away works?

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

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

Velázquez, Piero Della Francesca, Picasso and Francis Bacon.

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

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

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Gold contemporary art piece
Abstract artwork with digital rendering

A pregnant woman wishing her child to be beautiful must look at beautiful objects by artist LouLou Siem

Young British artist LouLou Siem’s latest solo exhibition entitled A pregnant woman wishing her child to be beautiful must look at beautiful objects at MAMCO Pavel Șușară in Bucharest centres around contagion, or more specifically the contamination and interplay of materials. Working chiefly in sculpture, Siem’s work delves into the realm of the macabre, presenting a perverse kind of beauty that’s born out of mutilation and sickness.

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The faces and objects Siem sculpts appear drowning in their materials, as if the work of the artist is less about giving shape to her own creativity and more about returning the material to its raw state. Throughout the exhibition there’s a palpable sense of struggle that’s simultaneously repulsive and compelling. It’s the struggle of the artist and her materials, but also of life and object. As the viewer confronts the rippling gold shapes seemingly erupting before the eyes, we are invited to more closely consider the value of artefacts and the processes of their making.

Gold contemporary art piece

Sculpture of a woman's head formed in clay

‘A pregnant woman wishing her child to be beautiful must look at beautiful objects’ runs until 3 November at Pawel Susara Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, Romania. For more information visit: loulousiem.com

 

 

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Luxury fashion installation
Luxury fashion installation

Vintage Dior haute couture by Gianfranco Ferré, from the late 1990s

In Rome, history, style and a captivating jewellery collection come together in an engrossing new exhibition by home-grown global label Bulgari. Its brand and heritage curator Lucia Boscaini takes LUX on a personal tour

Jewels can tell many different stories: one is the glamorous story linked to their provenance, as is the case of the jewels that belonged to movie stars like Elizabeth Taylor or Anna Magnani.

precious diamond and sapphire necklace with pendant

Bulgari sautoir, 1969.

But we delved into their ‘behind the scenes’ stories too – for instance, Elizabeth Taylor often received jewels as gifts, namely from Richard Burton, but she was also a passionate collector from a young age thanks to her father who was an art dealer – she shared his discerning eye for beauty.

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Anna Magnani also bought jewels for herself, a self-indulgence that perhaps made up for a less-than-happy romantic life. Despite the humble characters she played on screen, she loved to buy and wear very elegant jewels as a life-affirming act. She had a child outside of marriage, which, in her era, would have been a difficult situation to face – both as a woman and as a celebrity. She had a difficult personal life and I think the jewels gave her some energy and ‘sparkle’.

Diamond brooch

Bulgari tremblant brooch in platinum with yellow and cognac-colour diamonds, 1959. Formerly in the Elizabeth Taylor Collection

Woman wearing haute couture dress

As well as Bulgari jewels, the exhibition also features vintage haute couture from the collection of Cecilia
Matteucci Lavarini

diamond, sapphire brooch

“Giardinetto” brooch, 1960.

I believe that jewellery can be transformed by the personal style of the woman who wears it. When they are matched to a charismatic persona and style, all jewels undeniably take on a personality of their own.

Read more: Sassan Behnam-Bakhtiar on his upcoming exhibition ‘Extremis’

We’ve also designed the show to capture the way in which the jewellery reveals some of the social and fashion trends from different epochs. For example, the eclectic and sometimes fun sautoirs from the 1970s remind us that it was a decade of experimentation, with a drive to change in many social aspects. The same is true of the sumptuous chokers from the 1980s, with their compact shape that immediately recalls the teased hair, loud make-up and puffed shoulders of that period.

Model wearing diamond jewels

The exhibition also includes displays from a 1920s French haute couture atelier

Diamond and ruby bracelet

Bulgari bracelet in platinum with rubies and diamonds, ca 1934.

Bulgari’s modular jewels from the 1980s also reference career women, the number of whom grew during those years, as they looked for affordable, stylish and distinctive jewels to be worn either in the office or at cocktails after working hours.

The exhibition, ‘Bulgari: The Story, The Dream’, is showing until 3 November in the Palazzo Venezia and Castel Sant’Angelo in Rome. Find out more: polomusealelazio; beniculturali.it

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Installation shot of exhibition with display cases and photographs
Installation shot of exhibition with display cases and photographs

Installation shot of the ‘Autrement’ exhibition in Chaumet’s Paris boutique

Maison Chaumet’s latest exhibition Autrement reimagines selected jewels through drawings from its Parisian archives and a series of transformative photographs by Swedish photographer Julia Hetta

Showcasing heritage pieces alongside contemporary creations, Autrement offers an alternative take on how to wear Chaumet high jewellery through individually styled reinventions of each jewel.

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The Jeux de Liens sautoir necklace, for example, featuring the brand’s signature linking design set in rose gold with mother-of-pearl, becomes an intricate bandeau reminiscent of the iconic Chaumet tiaras. The same necklace is also photographed in a balletic pose, wrapped daintily around the leg to form an anklet.

model wearing head jewellery

Portrait of a girl wearing tiara

Image by Julia Hetta

A peacock feather bodice ornament from 1870 with a dazzling sapphire encircled by rubies and diamonds is remodelled as a delicate hair-pin, whilst a crescent moon brooch fashioned with fine pearls is worn as an aigrette with deep blue plumes. In perhaps the most innovative remodelling, L’Épi de Blé de Chaumet brooch and earrings are used as a pair to bind a braided hairstyle in place.

Read more: In conversation with Belgian painter Luc Tuymans

The smallest yet most sophisticated transformation, however, is made using the L’Épi de Blé de Chaumet white gold cocktail ring as a scarf ring, highlighting the large tanzanite and its surrounding diamonds in a more prominent position.

Model poses wearing a precious scarf ring

Image by Julia Hetta

Drawing inspiration from styling details and poses depicted in Renaissance art, Julia Hetta’s photographs modernise the more traditional jewels whilst contributing to the historical dimensions of the exhibition from the 19th-20th century sketches to the 15th-19th century LeBrun frames.

Chloe Frost-Smith

‘Autrement’ runs until 2nd November 2019 at Chaumet 165 Boulevard Saint Germain, 75006 Paris. For more information visit: chaumet.com/en/autrement

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Abstract painting in bleached colours
Portrait painting of a woman's face

‘Twenty Seventeen’ (2017), by Luc Tuymans, Pinault Collection

Favouring themes of conflict, violence and death, renowned Belgian painter Luc Tuymans fulfils the brief of brooding artist, yet his work is deeply layered and complex. With two major retrospectives on his work being held in Europe this year, Millie Walton meets the man behind the canvas
Painter Luc Tuymans in his studio

The artist in his Antwerp studio

Through a garage door and down a wide passageway: a man’s bleached face stares blankly ahead with large, piercing eyes. To the right, there are two more enormous pale faces. “These are dead people,” Luc Tuymans says of the series of three portraits hanging in his studio in Antwerp. They will soon be shipped off to form part of his upcoming show at De Pont Museum of Contemporary Art in the Netherlands, one of two major retrospectives this year. We sit on two sagging armchairs; there’s a small table between us with a cup of cold black coffee and in front of us, another much smaller painting of a ghostly, hooded figure tacked onto the wall with masking tape. It’s a present for the director of De Pont, Tuymans tells me, lighting up the first of many cigarettes. Apart from the paintings and a table stacked with paper and dried-up paint mounds, the studio is stark, almost blindingly white in the sunshine. A former laundrette, Tuymans bought it over ten years ago, having previously worked in a much smaller apartment, which looked “more like Francis Bacon’s studio”. This place, he says, is, “antiseptic, but it works well”.

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The Belgian artist famously completes most of his works in one day, giving the impression of a feverish outpouring of creativity, but really the works have been brewing for some time, often for months, before Tuymans applies paint to canvas. For him, the process begins with a careful curation of pre-existing imagery, drawings, Polaroids and photos he takes on his iPhone, or things he encounters online. He selects his source material according to its relevance and paintability, by which he means, “what kind of kick I can get out of it”. Considering that much of his subject matter is violent, morbid or at the very least, deeply cynical, we might consider these ‘kicks’ to be somewhat sadistic.

Painting of a target with blue centre

‘Disenchantment’ (1990), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

Right from the start of his 40-year career, Tuymans has been depicted by the media as the brooding artist, in part due to his intimidatingly large physical presence and flickering eyes, but also because of his ongoing fascination with the darker corners of European history and reluctant approach to beauty. Speaking of his current retrospective exhibition at the Palazzo Grassi in Venice, he laughs growlingly at the idea that people might consider his paintings beautiful. In the press video for the show, he is depicted as a stereotypical villain lurking in dark alleyways and brandishing his paintbrushes as weapons. It says a lot that Tuymans himself made the short film.

Collage painting of a man wearing sunglasses

‘Die Zeit (pt 4/4)’ (1988), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

And yet, something in Tuymans tells you not to trust appearances. Just as his paintings may appear prosaic in their imagery, their significance is deeply layered. To view his work is to enter into a game in which you neither know the rules nor the aim. “You could actually see my work as the deep web, or the precursor of it,” says Tuymans with a slight smile, making it hard to gauge how seriously to take such statements. Nevertheless, his practice is certainly preoccupied with peripheries, hidden objects and meanings, things the ordinary eye would ignore or miss. There is a tension in his paintings between uncovering and disguising, remembering and disremembering. As with the series of cadaver portraits, his subjects often seem to be disappearing, fading from memory and simultaneously, clinging desperately to life.

Read more: The new age of Chinese ink art

Abstract painting in bleached colours

‘Allo! I’ (2012), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

“From very early on, my work was born out of an insane and very profound distrust of imagery,” he says, which is now especially relevant in the age of the digital image and mass reproduction – where the lines between originality and forgery are increasingly blurred. This distrust, in fact, was the reason Tuymans started painting as a teenager in the late 1970s, seeking a deliberate ‘regression’ by creating a work that had the appearance of another era and thus, developing a practice of so-called ‘authentic forgery’. However, this seems somewhat reductive to Tuymans’ intentionality, which is one of total disillusionment. Take, for example, the mosaic of pine trees that covers the floor in the entrance hall of Palazzo Grassi. Visitors might be forgiven for assuming it to be part of the Palazzo’s grand decoration rather than an act of wilful deception by Belgium’s most famous contemporary painter, who worked with an Italian firm to perfectly match the green marble to the existing floor colouring. Then there’s the fact that the mosaic is based on Tuymans’ iconic 1986 painting Schwarzheide, named after a Nazi labour camp where many inmates were worked to death. This seemingly picturesque cluster of pine trees represents the evergreens planted along the border of the camp to hide it from public view.

Abstract painting of flowers in a vase

‘Technicolor’ (2012), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

Portrait of a priest in bleached paints

‘München’ (2012), by Luc Tuymans, Pinault Collection

Encountering works such as these for the first time, how can we know or begin to understand their embedded contexts? “I am a big believer in not overestimating or underestimating the public,” says Tuymans. “I don’t believe in wall texts. You’re given a reader, which you can choose to look at whenever you like, but there is a point I’m trying to make in the experience through which you have a feeling of not just oblivion, but utter ignorance.” This comes from the fact that the exhibition at Palazzo Grassi, titled La Pelle after Curzio Malaparte’s book of the same name, is a retrospective show in one of the world’s most visited cities, so the audience being addressed is the wider public rather than art experts. Tuymans notes that many viewers may be drawn not by the art, but by a “certain kind of voyeurism to get into spaces such as the Palazzo”. He relishes the idea that the exhibition may disrupt their expectations, functioning as “a strong confrontation with the space”.

Read more: Photographer Viviane Sassen’s ‘Venus and Mercury’ at Frieze London

Installation shot of a painting in a grand gallery space

Installation from ‘La Pelle’, ‘Turtle’ (2007), by Luc Tuymans, private collection

Does he think of himself as a political painter, then? “No artist can be political because you can’t load up an artwork from the start, if you do, you’re just making propaganda,” says Tuymans. “But that doesn’t mean the work cannot have a political stance at a certain given moment.” Whether his paintings work or not, in his opinion, has a lot to do with the images that surround him. “I need an extreme tension when I paint,” he claims, also referring to the anxiety that he feels each time he approaches the blank canvas. There are conditions for his creative process: Thursdays and Fridays only (“because it’s the end of the week”), a clear head (“no drinking the night before”) and a sense of risk. “I think that fear of failure is very necessary,” he says. “Otherwise I may as well do a 9-to-5 job.” Of course, failure is a less painful prospect when you’re one of the world’s most respected painters. Now, Tuymans has the luxury of “throwing away” a painting when it’s not working, and by that he means literally into the bin. Antwerp residents, take note.

Abstract painting of a clown

‘Ballone’ (2017), by Luc Tuymans, private collection.

“Whenever I’m asked the question: why do you still paint?,” muses Tuymans, “the answer is always: because I’m not f*cking naive. Painting is a medium that works within its own proposition with time and it’s always had this inheritance of being an anachronism within that time, which has an appalling impact on your brain.” The impact he speaks of relates again to the multilayered aspect of his work, to the way in which he both draws from and mimics the past, while simultaneously and inevitably applying his contemporary, subjective perspective. It is this perspective, combined with the cultural context in which the work is viewed, that creates its relevance. So the significance of Tuymans’ paintings – as perhaps with all artworks – is continuously reforming. “I’m currently working on a two-year project with three scientists,” he says. “We’re going to put [my] work into algorithms. Not to make a painting with a computer, because that’s stupid, but to see what the signifiers mean in terms of language. Language is something that is always changing and the aim is to compare that to the anachronism of painting and to see what the outcome would be.” Admirers of his work will anticipate this next incarnation with interest.

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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A man painting onto an orange wall
A man holding a paint palette

The artist Secundino Hernández in Venice, holding one of his preparatory studies for a larger palette painting

LUX Contributing Editor and photographer Maryam Eisler is entranced by Spanish artist Secundino Hernández. Here, she visits and photographs him on his residency in Venice to discuss inspiration and physicality in painting and the organised chaos of the creative process

Maryam Eisler: It is intriguing to hear about your visceral/carnal take on Venice; its tones and its ‘fleshiness’, as you call it.
Secundino Hernández: It was a coincidence. I only noticed it when I came here. I never had these memories about Venice before; I never thought about the colour of the buildings looking like flesh. It suddenly became evident as I looked out the window of my studio. I walk the city streets inspired, and I now combine the flesh tones by mixing them in the studio.

Maryam Eisler: What about the parallels with the work of L.S. Lowry?
Secundino Hernández: Yes, the palette! It’s amazing how Lowry developed his whole career with only five colours! The challenge is not to imitate, but to be inspired by his process. I have done this before with watercolours, based on Cezanne’s 14 colours.

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Maryam Eisler: It’s interesting that you’re taking a figurative approach to painting in Venice. It seems to me that you are very much about this yin and yang, constantly meandering between lightness and heaviness; between monochromes and colour, the abstract and the figurative.
Secundino Hernández: Yeah. Someone asked me once, after I was done with these black and white works: “What is next?” and I said, “Back to the body.” It was shocking but it was true. After the freedom of the abstract paintings, I needed to go back to the exercise of representation. The mentality changes with the technique. It’s a new, open field for me. This is the most exciting part of painting. It’s not that I feel obliged to do this or that, but I push myself to try something new all the time. That’s what makes it rewarding.

Painting of a female nude

Maryam Eisler: You have taken an almost academic and art-historical approach to figuration; you even use a human model, although your figurative work is quite abstract.
Secundino Hernández: I want to explore how to paint figuration, after painting abstraction for a long time. It’s what I feel comfortable with. That’s why I paint with a model present and be academic in that way, but I always try to go a step further.

Maryam Eisler: So, you layer your work? You take all your past experiences, including the abstract, and layer it with the figurative. And then there’s magic…
Secundino Hernández: Yeah. I don’t move to figuration just for the sake of it. It’s about this inner exercise in order to see where the abstract works lead to. It’s like a mirror game. I want to test my abstraction, and for that, I need to have a reference, and that reference at this moment is the figure. This is the starting point for something new. The main thing is to open possibilities and new potential. I always thought it was easier to explain figurative work more than abstraction because abstraction is based on concepts, but I am realising that figures and bodies can also be very conceptual. We have seen the figure represented in paintings for centuries, so how do I paint a figure as if it’s being painted for the first time?

Artist painting a model in the studio

Hernández works with a live model to inform his figurative yet abstract works

Maryam Eisler: Going back to the language of the figurative and carnal, you often talk about ‘skin’ and ‘bones’, even with your abstract paintings. You scratch the surface of the painting like the surface of the skin and you dig deep into its bones.
Secundino Hernández: The pure linen is the bone because everything starts from this structure. I also like the idea of going backwards. It’s more like a sculpture, where you are sculpting and taking away from the form. Normally with a painting, you add to it. I like the idea of working with almost no paint at all, or even just with the primer.

Watercolour painting of a female nude

Maryam Eisler: You talk about ‘scars’ and you’re interested in dereliction. I see it so evidently as we walk through Venice. Anything that peels, anything that’s scratched, anything that has weathered texture to its surface. Is there an element of temporality and or timelessness in your work?
Secundino Hernández: Yes, that is very much present at the beginning of the palette works. They are nice to admire, but for me, they’re about the memory of what happens in the studio – every day, the process, the passage of time. I used a clean brush and I started to mix colours and they started to grow and grow and grow. I like this idea of growth and subtraction because the works are like pendulums. Some are about adding, and others are about taking away. Everything happens in between and in the physicality of the paintings.

Read more: Louis Roederer’s CEO Frédéric Rouzaud on art and hospitality

Maryam Eisler: Speaking of physicality, your act of painting is very physical, almost performative. You also ripple between large and small-scale works…
Secundino Hernández: It’s demanding. I like it now, but maybe in ten years’ time I will not have this energy level. It’s about not repeating the same process, the same scale. So, going back to the body, I thought it was nicer to paint on a small scale because it is more practical and, in a way, easier to develop the idea faster.

Maryam Eisler: In both your abstract and figurative work, in the way that you use the power-jet, the steamer, in the way that you peel and scratch the surface of the canvas, it seems to me that there is an element of chance and creative fate.
Secundino Hernández: It’s all about fate, you know. I believe that it’s got to be that way, otherwise I would never do any of it.

A man painting onto an orange wall

Hernández is inspired by derelict surfaces and the ‘fleshiness’ of the colours in Venice, such as this peeling wall and rows of buildings

Maryam Eisler: Does the sublime play a role in your practice? Spirituality, or just trust in the universal powers of being?
Secundino Hernández: It’s about reflection. When you work every day as I have for so many years, there needs to be something meditative and spiritual in the process.

Maryam Eisler: Primal?
Secundino Hernández: Yes. I’m a very primal person [laughs].

Abstract white artwork

‘Untitled’ (2018), by Secundino Hernández, rabbit skin glue, chalk, calcium carbonate, titanium white on linen, 276 x 249 cm

Maryam Eisler: You also go from monochrome palettes to a plethora of colours. Is there something emotive going on when you do this ?
Secundino Hernández: Actually, it’s about practicality. When I go to the studio, I start mixing colours and I work on these palette works which have no limits. If I get a bit overwhelmed or stuck, I go back to the palettes. The palette works are always there because their physicality enables the creation of other paintings. Without them, the others don’t exist.

Maryam Eisler: Coexistence and codependence? From peace to chaos?
Secundino Hernández: Yes, but it’s organised chaos. I’m not that chaotic, as you see in this studio. I’m very tidy. The surface of the canvas, on the other hand, looks chaotic because I tried this and I continued with that; everything is very well planned, most of the time. I even do small sketches to plan it all out in advance. Especially for the large canvases – because if you start painting a 5-metre canvas like a crazy monkey, it’s going to be a crap painting.

A man standing above Grand Canal venice

A man standing on a bridge holding a notebook

Hernández on a bridge near his temporary studio in the city. Above, on the roof of the Peggy Guggenheim Collection in Venice, overlooking the Grand Canal.

Maryam Eisler: You’re often compared to American Expressionists, such as Pollock.
Secundino Hernández: I think it’s fine, but I feel more comfortable with ‘slow motion’ Expressionism.

Maryam Eisler: Let’s talk about your studio and the lonely business of being an artist.
Secundino Hernández: It’s always a lonely business. Because right or wrong, you are the one and only final judge. And you have to trust yourself.

Read more: Spring Studios Founder Francesco Costa on creative networking

Maryam Eisler: How much work do you destroy?
Secundino Hernández: I try to be successful with everything. But if I do destroy work, I don’t think about it anymore. I learn from the failure and move on. Now, with age, something strange is happening. I sometimes struggle with my paintings and what I can’t control is the frustration. With age, your passion is meant to lessen. It’s not the case with me… it’s getting stronger every day, and I judge myself all the time. I always said there are no mistakes in painting. But how do you know when something is good or bad, right or wrong? It’s difficult. It’s about the relationship between your actions and what you present to the world. I guess I’m only human!

Maryam Eisler: Would it be fair to say that painting is about reality – your reality?
Secundino Hernández: Yeah. That’s the miracle of painting. With some dust and a little bit of egg, you paint something that never existed before. It’s amazing. This is the miracle of painting I think. Also, painting for me is a way of naively understanding the world. Here, with the act of painting, I see Venice with different eyes. I see its surface, its different skin colours and its many people.

Abstract coloured painting

‘Untitled’ (2018), by Secundino Hernández, acrylic, alkyd and oil on linen, 261 x 196 cm

Maryam Eisler: What does it mean to be a painter in the 21st century?
Secundino Hernández: I don’t really know what it means. But I want my paintings to age in a timeless way. I want them to still feel fresh and talk to you in 40 years. This is the whole point. I may be asking for too much. But that’s what I am trying now and always will. Now, more than ever, I’m getting very ambitious. This morning, I was reading an article about Rembrandt and it said that the difference between Rembrandt and his contemporaries was that he not only was a great painter, technically speaking, but that he provided the figure with a certain life and soul. And that’s why his paintings look alive, even today. This is the point. And I was wondering if Rembrandt was even conscious of this. Maybe he was simply enjoying painting or maybe he was suffering and struggling as well, but it’s nice that at least someone writes in this way about your work, 300 or so years later.

Maryam Eisler: And the role of social media in the life of a 21st-century artist? Unlike most artists, you’re not present on social platforms?
Secundino Hernández: I’m not on Facebook and I’m not on Instagram. I have no time for that. Once I went on Instagram and I saw that there were 2,000 posts with my name, then I calculated, if you spend one minute per post, that’s 2,000 minutes of my time, which means two days of my life nonstop doing this sh*t. I just couldn’t do it. I prefer to sit and do nothing.

Maryam Eisler: Is it actually important for people, especially artists, to do nothing?
Secundino Hernández: It’s very important for everyone to be bored. I’m even making big efforts to check my mobile messages once or twice a day only. It’s difficult. It’s like cocaine. I feel like my brain needs it.

Secundino Hernández is represented by Victoria Miro Gallery. His latest exhibition runs at Victoria Miro Venice until 19 October. For more information visit: victoria-miro.com

This article was originally published in the Autumn 19 Issue.

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Reading time: 10 min
mixed medium ink painting with beige and black ink
Abstract figure painting in pink and black

‘Autumn’ (2019), Chloe Ho
.
Chinese ink and acrylic on cloth

Hong Kong-based artist Chloe Ho revives ancient techniques of Chinese ink painting with a contemporary perspective. Following the opening of her solo exhibition at 3812 Gallery London, we spoke to the artist about her creative environment, blending mediums and artistic dialogues

Woman standing in front of an abstract artwork

Artist Chloe Ho

1. Tell us about the concept for your current show Unconfined Illumination?

Unconfined Illumination really is reflective in many ways. The show speaks to my art that expresses deeper truths about ourselves, culture, nature and the human condition. It refers to my unencumbered expression that serves to both engage, entice and create a dialogue with the viewer. It also is a personal illumination of my inspirations, artistic influences and the id. It illuminates my connection both with East and West, ancient and contemporary. It celebrates the light of artistic freedom and observation.

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2. What’s it like exhibiting to a London-based audience?

To me art is universal and inclusive, a sort of common language that transcends time and place. I create my art based on our place in the universe drawing on common connections, identities, experiences and the natural world. London viewers, like all true art lovers, have certainly been wonderfully receptive, engaged, communicative, knowledgable and insightful. I have greatly enjoyed exhibiting here.

3. Do you need a particular environment to create?

I primarily paint in Hong Kong where I have my studio. It’s the most wonderful space for me because it holds the shadows of work competed and promise of work to come. I have also painted in many places around the world from Beijing to California. I really believe the creative environment is an extension of the artist – the energy, the sensibility, the light, colours, chaos or order. Like a blank canvas, no matter where, it quickly fills with every aspect of the painting life and facilitates the art.

mixed medium ink painting with beige and black ink

‘Lion Fish’, Chloe Ho. Chinese ink, coffee and acrylic ink on paper.

4. What made you decide to combine mediums such as ink and coffee?

To me, the combining of mediums better allows for unconfined expression. I am more able to create and express what I want to show in my images.

Of course, I always preserve the tradition of ink painting, but it is important to make my art a personal and contemporary expression of my aesthetic. For example, I chose coffee because it lent a certain modern energy and earthiness to my paintings, recalling in a modern way the elements of Shan Shui as in Lion Fish. While my ink flows, spray paint and acrylics gave me a more complex level of image such as In the Current. Even expression through technological manipulation of dimension from two dimensional paintings to sculptural pieces and VR are an interesting way to extend my images.

Read more: Richard Mille’s Alpine athletes Alexis Pinturault & Ester Ledecká

5. Some of your works seem to be directly responding to other artists, such as Tracey Emin and Pablo Picasso. Do you see your practice as a form of dialogue?

Yes, absolutely I think art is a dialogue between the viewers and the artist, the present and the past, the artist’s idea and reality. This is what makes art familiar yet new, inclusive, challenging, connected and connecting. The dialogue between art, artists and viewers is much like quasars – they bombard us – they emit massive amounts of energy and are integral to the expansion and merging of galaxies – of art. I am bombarded by the blues of Yves Klein, Picasso’s remarkable placement of line, the sheer bold and demanding quality of Tracy Emin, the abstract power and rolling colours of Pollock, the brilliant ink brush of Zhang Daqain to name a few.

Ink painting showing a figure in blue and black

‘In the Current I’, Chloe Ho. Chinese ink, coffee, spray paint, acrylic ink on paper.

6. What inspires you to start a new series?

I actually see my work as an ongoing image even within any series of paintings. Each of my works connects and continues my visual story in some way. As the subjects or presentation changes, it reflects my newly realised truths about life, about beauty, about art.

Unconfined Illumination includes two of my most recent Four Seasons Series on fabric: Summer and Autumn. I was inspired by the long tradition of painting on fabric, not only in ink, but throughout the history of art. Fabric is both painterly and sculptural. Its movement creates new angles and dimensions and adds a tactile dimension to the art. It flows visually and envelops the viewer because of its very nature. The women’s figures and colour choices were part of my continuing artistic dialogue about changing psychology, physiology and nature. The transitions of the seasons reflect the blooming and fading on a macro and personal level.

‘Unconfined Illumination’ by Chloe Ho runs until 15 November 2019 at 3812 Gallery London. For more information visit: 3812gallery.com

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Reading time: 4 min
Man and woman standing in the doorway of a museum gallery space
Man and woman standing in the doorway of a museum gallery space

Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf at Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien. Photo: Christian Mendez

Following the exhibition’s first home at the Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna earlier this year, Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures has moved to Fondazione Prada’s gallery space in Milan with larger displays and more exhibits than its original incarnation.

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Curated by Wes Anderson and Juman Malouf, the exhibition explores the history of collecting in museums, stripping the barriers of traditional gallery shows and embracing the concept of the kunstkammer (cabinet of curiosities).

Very small coffin shown inside a glass cabinet at a museum

Installation view of ‘Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures’ at Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien, showing the Coffin of a Spitzmaus (Shrew), c. 4th century BC. Photo: Jeremais Morandell. Courtesy KHM-Museumsverband

Antique portrait of a philosopher

‘A Philosopher of Antiquity’, Giovanni Girolamo Savoldo, c. 1520/30. Photo: Jeremias Morandell. Courtesy: KHM-Museumsverband

The show’s eclectic display focuses around an unusual star object: the sarcophagus of a shrew. The Spitzmaus coffin (its name comes from the German word for shrew) is a small vessel, gilded and painted with the silhouette of a mouse. Dating from the 4th century BC, it was designed to hold the Egyptian mummified remains of a sacred shrew. The coffin – along with all of the other pieces on display – was selected by Anderson and Malouf from the vast archives of Kunsthistorisches Museum and the Naturhistorisches Museum in Vienna, and perfectly encapsulates the quirky aesthetic of the exhibition as a whole.

portrait of a cat leaping along a wooden branch

Unknown, XVIII Sec. Photo by Jeremias Morandell. Courtesy KHM-Museumsverband

This is the Kunsthistorisches’ third exhibition in seven years to welcome creative individuals as curators. Following curations by Ed Ruscha and Edmund de Waal, Anderson and Malouf were selected for their clear artistic vision, unique style and attention to detail. We can see this in many of the pieces they’ve chosen: often small and ornate with a focus on unusual materials, their displays bring together a selection of natural and man-made objects and artworks, presented in separate cases or in clusters.

Read more: Mustafah Abdulaziz wins 2019 LOBA photography award

Portrait of a roman boy from Roman era

‘Mummy Portrait: Young man with fuzz’, Roman, Early Antoine, 2nd quarter 2nd cent. AD. Courtesy: KHM-Museumsverband

Each room shares a distinct quality, that seems to resonate with both Anderson’s and Malouf’s creative universe. In fact, the whole exhibit appears much like the perfectly staged Kunst Museum that Jeff Goldblum is chased through in The Grand Budapest Hotel.

Rosie Ellison-Balaam

‘Spitzmaus Mummy in a Coffin and Other Treasures’ runs until 13 January 2020 at the Fondazione Prada in Milan. For more information visit: fondazioneprada.org

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Reading time: 2 min
Woman walks in front of an artwork fanning herself
Woman walks in front of an artwork fanning herself

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

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

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

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

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

Small paintings hanging on a dark blue wall

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

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

close up image of artwork with scripture and red painted faces

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

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

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

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

Gold embroidered words floating on a veil against a white wall

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

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

A woman using an old fashion weaving machine

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

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

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

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Abstract painting of a curved black line
Surreal photograph of a woman with a star for a head

‘Mannequin-étoile'(1936), Dora Maar. © Adagp, Paris, 2019. Photo © Centre Pompidou

To the majority of people, Dora Maar is Picasso’s lover and his muse, and yet Maar was an innovative and avant-garde artist in her own right – before Picasso came into the picture. In the Pompidou’s latest retrospective exhibition, Dora Maar is finally given the centre stage she deserves.

There are nearly 500 of her works and documents on display, inviting the visitor to journey through the entire length of her career, from her initial works as a professional photographer in the fashion industry, to the capturing of both political and social concerns in her street photography, and her central involvement in the surrealist movement. This is the first exhibit of Maar’s work at a national museum, presenting the rare opportunity to see works from both public and private collections in one place.

Surreal photograph of woman's legs disembodied

‘Sans titre’ (1935), Dora Maar. © Adagp, Paris 2019. Photo credit © Centre Pompidou

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The stand out pieces of the show are her iconic surreal photographs. They are oddities formed of auto-curious objects which hold us between disbelief and reality, as seen in Mannequin-Étoile (1936) and sans titre (1935). In Mannequin-Étoile we are positioned to be frustrated, caught between identifying the stage set and the female performer, but also restrained from knowing or seeing the whole truth – we are unclear of where she is going and who she is. Her star head simultaneously functions as a clue to the theatre setting and a disguise. It is through Maar’s use of the uncanny and strange that we are able to identify the influence of other surrealist photographers such as Man Ray and Hans Bellmer, as well as other artists such as Breton and Miro. Like them, her work continues to actively challenge and provoke its audiences, inviting us to embrace new perspectives and break away from the norm.

Naked woman photographed against a wall with her shadow

‘Assia’ (1934), Dora Maar. © Adagp, Paris 2019 / Photo © Centre Pompidou

Rosie Ellison-Balaam

‘Dora Maar’ runs until 29 July 2019 at the Pompidou Centre, Paris. For more information visit: centrepompidou.fr

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Reading time: 1 min
Large horizontal drawing of hybrid characters dancing on a table
Large horizontal drawing of hybrid characters dancing on a table

ruby onyinyechi amanze’s ‘Without a Care in the Galaxy, we Danced on Galaxies (or Red Sand with that Different Kind of Sky) with Ghosts of your Fatherland Keeping Watch’ (2015). Deutsche Bank Collection

Nigerian-born, US-based ruby onyinyechi amanze, the official artist of 2019’s Deutsche Bank Wealth Management Lounge at Frieze New York, is exploring new realms of drawing, as she explains to Clint McLean

DEUTSCHE BANK WEALTH MANAGEMENT x LUX