Clouds and a big yellow landscape

Clouds and a big yellow landscape

Two cameras, one journey, two childhood friends — and eighteen days to shoot their surroundings across the American West. Maryam Eisler and Alexei Riboud had followed separate paths for 38 years. Would the two photographers’ love of the still image converge their paths? LUX finds out

After graduating from high school together in Paris, in 1985, Maryam (then Homayoun) Eisler and Alexei Riboud parted ways; Eisler to the world of business, first at L’Oréal and then at Estée Lauder in London and in New York; Riboud to the world of graphic design and photography, in Paris, New York and Johannesburg, following in the footsteps of his celebrated parents, photographer Marc Riboud and sculptor, author and poet Barbara Chase-Riboud.

Sky, a big old billboard

Lights glowing faintly, flickering occasionally on an old, lonesome sign for a motel on the border of Marfa, Texas, that is long gone; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Nearly four decades later, in early 2024, the art world brought them back together, for a three-week American road trip through parts of Texas, New Mexico, Arizona and Utah, photographing space, place and people along the way in a form of visual dialogue. In, and in-between locals travelling by car, well over 2000 miles, from Houston to El Paso… Marfa, Presidio and White Sands to Santa Fe and Canyon Point… they’d hop out of the vehicle at any given moment, and say ‘See you in an hour!’, and go their respective ways, out in the wilderness, reacting to circumstances as they came across them, vowing not to give any advice to each other on what or how to shoot. Not even sharing their images until they returned home.

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Laughing, the two recall the fifteen U-turns they took on one straight 22 mile road from Espagnola to Ghost Ranch, because they kept seeing elements they wanted to capture, not to mention the 24 hours they spent obsessing over a missed opportunity, a derelict 1950s motel, now far behind them.

An abstracted image of the white sands

White sands National Park, New Mexico, photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

The images that Eisler and Riboud produced provide an intriguing study of contrasting perspectives and techniques. They both certainly shared a road trip, but in artistic terms (and fortunately for the viewer of the works), they were on parallel journeys, each producing compelling results. As Carrie Scott, the art historian and curator, notes: ‘I am buoyed by the conversation here between these two artists. Maryam and Alexei are shaping our perceptions of the American West through their dual lenses, which in turns gives us a moment to reflect on our fixed perspectives.’ It’s a far cry, as Scott adds, from the ‘longstanding tradition in American photography, dating back to the 19th century, of a singular male voice and viewpoint.’

A policeman leaning into a car with a man behind, and a big sky

A friendly security guard at the Concordia cemetery  in El Paso, TX giving Eisler and Riboud directions to the tomb of John Wesley Hardin, the man who earned himself a reputation as one of the Wild West’s most pernicious gunslinging outlaws; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Riboud is attracted to the outskirts and grey areas, the transitional spaces and borders where he finds the elements to compose his photographs. His approach has been refined over many years of shooting in diverse locations, including Havana, Tokyo, Johannesburg, Mumbai, Shanghai, Chicago and of course Paris — usually with a focus on the peripheral spaces within or next to large cities.

A night sky and a train track

A railway track cutting through the town of Marfa, Texas, photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

‘I like wandering into places I have never been to, especially on the margins of well-known locations, exploring the counter-space of an established geography. My photography is about experimentation. I gather fragments from urban landscapes, in an effort to capture innate structures’, says Riboud. ‘On this trip, I was drawn to the outskirts of towns, and to the frontiers between human settlements and the unpopulated natural environments.’

A Native American dancing

A Navajo Nation dancer performing an indigenous ritual dance impersonating animal spirits, Page, Arizona; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

‘This trip was a huge challenge for me’, says Eisler: ‘My focus has always been on the figurative and more specifically on what I like to call the ‘Sublime Feminine’ in its physicality and in its essence. I had to push myself to work in a new way, this time around, moving away from body landscape to natural landscape.’ But would she find parallels between nature and figure?

Read more: Maryam Eisler: Intimate Landscapes

‘In my work, I always talk about female ‘body architecture’ in dialogue with spatial architecture… its curvilinear slopes, its nooks and its crannies, its valleys. I have often explored this theme in big, barren, hostile nature, from Iceland to Mexico and beyond, except this time the female figure was not there to be photographed. I also surprised myself in adopting a new way to work… primarily using a wide angle lens (which I never do) in order to capture as much of the big sky and vast land as my lens could take in. I wanted to visually overdose on the nature that surrounded me!’

Buildings looking through a wall with pinkish and blue colours

In between walls of a teared down house in the border town of Presidio, Texas, photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

It’s no wonder that these two photographers operated quite differently during the road trip. They are two very different characters. Eisler’s made a quicksilver shift from business and writing to art, and has the smiling, knowing grace of a meditative guru while retaining the poise of a terrifying boss.

A man with a camera in hand taking a picture of the road ahead

Alexei Riboud, photographed by Maryam Eisler on US Highway 90 near Van Horn, Texas, 2024

Riboud, on the other hand, projects a laid-back-almost-to-horizontal suave creativity. Nonetheless, both have clearly forged a deep connection that transcends their decades apart and their contrasting artistic and technical sensibilities.

Man with black shirt sitting on a bench

Homeless young man in downtown Houston with a t-shirt depicting Martin Luther King and Malcolm X’s encounter; Houston, Texas; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

To the extent that the origins of their photography have links, they are serendipitous, through a mutual interest in graphics. Riboud, who did graphic design for an advertising agency in South Africa in the 1990s, began to photograph on weekends, and enjoyed it enough to make it his main focus.

Sky with an old crumbling sign

Derelict remains of the former Art Deco movie theatre in Marfa, Texas; The Palace, closed since the 1970s, is now an illustrator’s studio; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

At L’Oréal, Eisler’s involvement in the development of ad campaigns — what she calls ‘surface beauty’ — revved up her dormant love of visual story-telling. Today, one can experience both the outer and inner dimension in her exploration of the ‘Sublime Feminine’. Laughing, she recalls her father’s niggling voice in her head, asking her what she was doing with that ‘love of photography’ she had so enthusiastically written about in her college applications? But life after the (Iranian) Revolution would dictate otherwise, until years later.

A tree, and sea, and a sign, as seen through a fence

Looking through the US-Mexico border wall in El Paso near Amara House at La Hacienda, an organisation working to inspire connection beyond borders through mutual understanding and meaningful action in pursuit of narrative systems, and personal change; El Paso, Texas; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

Both Alexei and Maryam have indelible memories from their trip. Alexei reflects back on the town of El Paso, near the US-Mexico border: ‘‘There was the feeling of being at a crossroad of narratives with stratified areas, unsettled spaces in transition.’ Maryam recalls a moment on the border of Utah and Arizona: ‘A hypnotising Native American ritual dance made me think deep about indigenous cultural history and the suffering that the native people have and continue to endure… I was completely mesmerised by the strength of the dancers storytelling through moves anchored deep in tradition.’ Riboud points to the gentrification of Marfa, Texas: ‘Beyoncé and Jay-Z just bought a house there! You get a sense that it’s rapidly changing from the isolated artistic outpost that Donald Judd built all those years ago; the city is now attracting newcomers, as real estate prices are booming!’

A man with a camera with big sky behind

Alexei Riboud, photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

The two photographers’ contrasting visual perspectives provide fertile ground for dialogue, and – as Scott says, ‘a new, layered perspective on the complex reality of the 21st-century American West. Where Maryam’s portraits provide narrative depth – each portrait becomes a story, a window into the lives, cultures, and experiences of individuals within that vast expanse – Alexei’s focus on the landscape reflects on America’s historical relationship with western expansion.’

A woman with a camera in the canyons

Maryam Eisler, photographed by Alexei Riboud, in Upper Antelope Canyon, Arizona 2024

Riboud praises Eisler’s link between the female body and the architecture of space and place, as well as her graphic eye mingled with sensuality. For Eisler, it’s Riboud’s conceptual visual rendering—‘almost like a painting’ — that stands out above all. ‘The lens Alexei uses enables him to capture space and light in a very unique manner. The end result is subtle, painterly and beautiful, with incredible hues of light pinks and accents of deep purples in some instances. I think Alexei uses light to paint.’

Pinkish trees

Along the banks of Rio Grande river near Los Alamos, New Mexico. This is the view from the House at Otomi Bridge that frequently hosted Manhattan Project scientists. A team room and restaurant at the time – once post office and train station – where Oppenheimer kept a standing reservation for whenever he wanted to dine; New Mexico; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

Kamiar Maleki, Director of Photo London, expresses their effect on one another – their oscillations, recalling Maryam’s ‘evolution from exploring the female figure to this more recent body of work’ and its ‘profound shift towards celebrating the Sublime in a new and different way – as displayed in Mother Nature‘, as well as ‘in the vast potent (waste) lands of the American West landscape.’

Prada shop with photographer photographing

Maryam Eisler, as photographed by herself at Prada, Marfa, by Elmgreen & Dragset in Valentine, Texas, 2024

For Alexei, it’s his ‘minimalist elegance, presenting viewers with unexpected compositions that speak volumes through their simplicity.’

An old man by the window, with a picture next to him

Portrait of an outsider Texan artist, James Magee, a dear friend of the painter Annabel Livermore, whose painting he sits in front of, and who various writers have described as his alter ago, a relationship referred to by The New York Times as ‘a tough act to follow’, photographed in El Paso, Texas, by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Reflecting on the journey, Eisler says, ‘I still recall the vastness of land and the ever-changing skies and clouds. We could’ve produced an entire body of work on the clouds of New Mexico; the evolving light and its plethora of shades… It was sky theatrics every day! As we drove on Interstate highways, I could not help but feel a deep sense of inner peace.

A photographer on a landscape

Alexei Riboud in White Sands National Park, New Mexico, photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

In fact, I had a memorable moment in White Sands National Park, as the sun was setting down amidst scarlet and purple skies. I recall seeing Alexei, camera in hand, standing on the opposite hill, akin to a dot in the greater universe… And for just a second or two, which felt like eternity, I took off mentally into a parallel state of mind, engulfed by Mother Nature. It was so powerful’.

A blue billboard

Weary billboard with missing parts north of El Paso in the vast plains of Texas; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

‘I think the camera changes what you see, particularly when it’s your first experience of a place, of a unique location’, says Riboud. ‘Something happens that you can’t control; it’s your subconscious working, through the frame of the camera, on the construction of the image.’

a landscape with a sign saying 'Keep the Lonely Places Lonely'

Roughly halfway between Van horn and Valentine on U.S 90 reside crumbling buildings seen through a chain link fence: a one time significant railway dewatering station, now turned ghost town of Lobo, Texas; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

And when it’s not the camera, there are parallel – or, rather, oscillatory – expressions, from a writer they met along the way. Glimpse below the poem ‘Eileen’, written by poet Amanda Bloom in West Texas. Her series of linguistic short takes provide a further mode of expression, imbricating the tapestry of their journey:

a woman lying by the pool

Poet Amanda Bloom lying by the pool of the iconic ‘Hotel Paisano’ in Marfa Texas where the cast of the 1956 Hollywood movie ‘The Giant’, starring James Dean & Elizabeth Taylor, stayed during the filming of the movie; photographed by Maryam Eisler, 2024

Windmill sentinels
over the oil field.
The air is quick here.
You can’t keep your
thoughts with you.
The star dome
holds you down
while you move.

The yucca heads higher
than a street sign,
flowers brown and dry,
still hanging on, stalk bent
from day after day of the
troposphere in motion.
Learn surrender from
the yucca. It rattles
before its release.

The land is home
to ore, ice volcanos,
ocean floor turned
high desert, Eileen
the horse that did
not die on the way
to El Paso, you.

Pumpjacks pull.
Windmills spin.
The yucca shudders and
two brown blossoms
light on the wind.
Eileen stretches
her bum leg.

The journey – from photography to poetry – provides, in Carrie Scott’s words ‘a dialogue about the deep humanity embedded in the landscape’s history’. And, indeed, it is ‘a tapestry’ as well as a dialogue, as the Director of Photo London concludes – ‘of beauty, emotion, and storytelling, inviting viewers to contemplate the profound depths of the American big nature experience alongside the quiet poetry of simple existence.’

a man reaching with a sign

Here, in Riboud’s street scene in El Paso is what Eisler calls his ‘geometric approach to depicting space in its subtle linearity, very unique to his eye’; photographed by Alexei Riboud, 2024

From dialogue, to tapestry, the works will soon be woven into a book, as well as an exhibition to be launched around Photo London 2025 – and in a way, as Scott aptly notes, ‘that we haven’t seen before’.

See More:

maryameisler.com

alexeiriboud.com

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Reading time: 12 min
woman laying on colourful floor
woman laying on colourful floor

A Dream you Dream Alone, by Maryam Eisler, 2021

An elegant, aloof figure lies, sprawled, blanketed in stripes, formed of shadows from a gazebo above. Here’s a glimpse into Chief Contributing Editor of LUX, Maryam Eisler’s continual exposition of the Sublime Feminine. In the murky hinterland between body and landscape – in what she calls ‘dreamlands made real’ – Maryam captures chimerical states and synaptic, elusive moments. By Isabella Fergusson

Maryam’s black and white photography toys with shadow and light in ways in which the body seems to hover between corporeal and architectural form. Figures hide. Bodies are touched by their landscape’s shadows, by wooden planks, by leaves, by music scores. They turn away, evasive; hands and arms are little seen: bodies are distilled to Barbara Hepworth-esque forms – to the curve of a lower back, the stomach, the spine. There is a sense of holding back, of retaining mystery, of stretching beyond the body to landscape. In Peaks and Troughs, curves of bodies are hit by light with such exquisite abstraction as to resemble vast mountains, or perhaps a close-up of a cluster of smooth pebbles.

Peaks and Troughs, by Maryam Eisler, 2019

‘I often search for inspiration in literature, poetry and in the arts’, Maryam says. And, if Hepworth looked to music, and Rothko wanted to raise painting to ‘music and poetry’, Maryam, in a modern take, lays bare the parallels between photography and music. Music scores leak into the photography itself, both literally, and in the way that a mathematical precision of composition provides access to dreamlike, hazy worlds. In A Cry for Freedom, a nude figure seems almost tattooed by the shadows of musical notes, nodding towards a subliminal synaesthesia.

naked body with musical notes projected onto back

A Cry for Freedom, by Maryam Eisler, 2023

Such philosophy spills into colour. Constructed forms – trees, crosses, doors – stick out against bright blue skies. Balconies are distilled to rectangles, pentagons, triangles, punctuated by rich pinks and blues. A palm tree shoots playfully out of a wall, structured by Crayola coloured, stripy joints. Perspective is maintained and fundamental, and yet simultaneously flat and geometric. They combine playful, Hockney bravado with a serious, almost cubist, interest in perspective.

a grid of various very colourful pictures

Linear Emotions – Palm Springs, by Maryam Eisler, 2023

Intimate Landscapes prods the metaphysical questions at the core of the Sublime. In light and lines, shadows and shapes, Maryam’s self-reflectively titled series, ‘Linear Emotions’, confront their own process. How does one conjure up inner dreamlands through geometry? Where does the body end and the landscape begin?

A woman in pink spinning against a bright blue sky with some trees

The Astonishing Light of Your Own Being, by Maryam Eisler, 2024

‘Feeling is my true north’, says Maryam. And one can feel that here – her grace and control, her search for what is, in her words, ‘true or fantastic. Nostalgia for bygone times. Passion. Romance. Heartache’. Dancing between delicate quiet and bold colour, Maryam ‘offers a glimpse into these dreams and into this multi-faceted exploration of the Sublime Feminine’.

man watching woman dive into pool

Poolside Watching, by Maryam Eisler, 2023

 

Maryam Eisler’s exhibition, ‘Intimate Landscapes’, will be showing at Mucciaccia Gallery Project, Rome, via Laurina 31, from 10th February – 16th March 2024

 

See More: https://www.maryameisler.com

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people chilling in nature looking at the camera

Pioneering entrepreneur and philanthropist Nachson Mimran has a show of his black and white photography at the Leica Gallery in London’s Mayfair. Compelling for many reasons, says LUX Editor-in-Chief Darius Sanai

A Native American with a feather har holding his fist up in a black and white photo

Manari Ushigua – leader of the Sápara Nation, in Naku in the Ecuadorian Amazon; photograph by Nachson Mimran in March 2018

Through my years of commissioning photographers, across art, fashion, travel and portraiture, for LUX and Condé Nast, it has become evident that photography is a two-way lens. The image a photographer (or image-maker, as some prefer) captures is of them, as much as it is of their subject. Send two photographers on a similar mission, and you will see very different results.

Little girl in front of wire mesh in dress

A street art project in Libreville, Gabon; photograph by Nachson Mimran, November 2018

This becomes very apparent on viewing the images in Nachson Mimran’s debut show, Photographs from the decade that changed my life, at the Leica Gallery in London. Nachson, a contemporary renaissance man who is part creative, part philanthropist, part social entrepreneur, part philosopher and part tycoon, was not commissioned by anyone to create these images: they are a selection of photographs he took on his travels over ten years.

With his Leica Monochrom cameras (distinctive, niche, digital rangefinders) Mimran chronicled people and life everywhere from Bangladesh and Uganda to the Swiss Alps and West Africa, where he grew up.

trees behind a tribesman in Kenya looking at the camera

Tribesmen from Turkana, Kenya; photograph by Nachson Mimran, November 2022

Mimran is best known for his stewardship of to.org, a philanthropic, creative and entrepreneurial ecosystem making real change. (He is also one of the owners of the hyper-chic Alpina hotel in Gstaad.) The red thread throughout is Mimran’s empathy and humanity: those who know him might suggest he is a modern-day humanist, above everything else. Particularly striking, because, as this is a personal chronicle, Mimran never intended to create anything for public exhibition.

A father and daughter looking at the camera

Self-portrait of Nachson Mimran and his daughter in Gstaad, Switzerland; October 2022

A compelling show, and a window into the mind of someone who, in his own way, is changing the world.

Nachson Mimran: Photographs From The Decade That Changed My Life is on show at Leica Gallery, Mayfair, London until 11 February

leica-camera.com

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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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Man in a mask standing next to frames of a crushed car
Pink and purple book on a colourful table

The hardback copy of ‘Confined Artists – Free Spririts: Portraints and Interviews from Lockdown 2020’. Photo by Maryam Eisler

During the lockdown of 2020, Maryam Eisler brought together 164 of the world’s most influential artists, interviewing and photographing them over video calls to create a unique series of portraits and accompanying insights. As we anticipate the physical launch of Confined Artists – Free Spirits: Portraits & Interviews from Lockdown 2020, Trudy Ross speaks to Maryam about looking back on her unique creative journey from a post-pandemic perspective

It was April 2020, and Maryam Eisler was feeling restless. With her usual schedule of travelling round the world, exploring and creating curtailed, she sat at home pondering a life without movement. Thus, in a rare circumstance of  stasis, a one-of-a-kind project was born.

The result? 164 conversations, 164 unique portraits, and their assemblage as a wider piece of art. An exploration into the minds and hearts of artists across the globe during one of the most significant historical events in many of our lifetimes. As she says herself, it is: “a collective stamp of a moment in time. It is a memory, a capsule of a moment in history.” She managed to capture an important frame in the history of the modern art world.

Man in a mask standing next to frames of a crushed car

Ron Arad seeing his work Oh Lord, Won’t You Buy Me? for the first time at the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2020. Photo by Ron Arad and Associates Limited

The project’s first form was a digital exhibition on the LUX website shortly after its completion, which garnered so much traction that it actually crashed the LUX website when it went live. Now there is a new launch happening this week, a physical one, for a hardback book entitled: Confined Artists – Free Spirits: Portraits and Interviews from Lockdown 2020. Shaped like a tall rectangle to imitate a smartphone, each slick copy brings Maryam’s virtual interviews and Facetime-facilitated photography beyond the screen and into the physical world.

Over three years later, with the pandemic behind us – indeed, almost forgotten about by many in society – I spoke to Maryam about her time spent on this original project and the inspiration behind it.

“Artists are always very symbolic of their time,” she says. “Their ways of thinking and philosophies are often very much a reflection of the historical time that they live in, and this manifests in their artworks. I was intrigued to see how that particular community was dealing with the COVID issue from a psychological perspective, an emotional perspective, and also from a logistical perspective of production.”

Artist Ron Arad, one of the interviewees, spoke to LUX about the practicalities of production these strange times; “I did a lot during lockdown, including buying cars online, an old red Mercedes, and then flattening it online by giving instructions over Zoom to a team in Holland. I saw that piece for the first time on the walls of the Royal Academy […] It is very strange to know a piece intimately and work on it intensely, but to have never touched it.”

Originally, Maryam set her sights on thirty artists in total, but after receiving a resounding yes from everyone she reached out to – very rare in the world of overstretched artists in demand – she decided to keep going. And going. And going.

Screenshot of a woman in multiple mirrors

Es Devlin. Photo by Maryam Eisler

It became a routine for her, she tells me: “I had my desk set up in the kitchen, I had my roster, my Rolodex, and I would spend one day interviewing and one day organising.” Each conversation enriched her mind and gave her new perspectives on unprecedented times.

Beyond this, it was a creative exercise; she had a creative vision for each portrait, and aimed to allow each artist’s personality and areas of focus to shine through. When I ask her about some of her favourites, she says: “Off the cuff, I can remember Es Devlin; she put herself in front of a refractory mirror so you could see her face several times, which is very in line with her aesthetic and ethos. Charlotte Colbert uses eyes a lot on her work – indeed, eyes were a symbol that recurred throughout the project – so she had this massive eye that she put in front of another, so she had this distorted hawking out eye, an inanimate object, versus her regular blue eyes. With Edmund de Waal I remember clearly saying hold the camera a little bit more that way just a little bit more, so I could see the geometric designs and patterns in the studio ceiling. We had of course a lot of artists in front of their works which was one more straightforward but still telling approach. Melanie Dunea is one of my favourite portraits; she is holding a magnifying glass in front of one eye so, again, she has one eye protruding.”

Edmund de Waal by Maryam Eisler

“When you go through it you can see some artists’ attitudes in their portraits reflected in their words. Some are incredibly peaceful, and you can see the sense of serenity and peace in their face. In others you can see fear, and potentially anger. There was a real degree of playfulness from others. Philip Colbert, with his lobster alter ego and his mask, for instance.”

The project not only allowed interested readers to gain insight into the lives of artists in extraordinary times – it also touched the artists themselves profoundly. Shirin Neshat comments that: “Maryam came knocking at artists’ doors with lightness, sense of humour and ease when everyone felt utterly isolated and lost. Her zoom’s conversations felt comforting and a reminder of artists’ need for a community especially in times of crisis.”

Shirin Neshat by Maryam Eisler

Further still, the project touches on the fraught political landscape of the moment. Maryam highlighted the importance of chronology when putting the book together: “ as you read through, there is not only an art-historical progression, there is a political progression. Towards the end of the project in June is when the Black Lives Matter movement was beginning. The last profile of the book is about breathing – not in connection with the virus, but in connection with George Floyd.”

Mickalene Thomas takes the final, impactful slot in this book of over 150 famous artists, speaking to Maryam on 30th June, 2020. She calls upon the world to “say her damn name”, cementing in print the names of tens of black women who lost their lives at the hands of police enforcement – just a fraction of the total black lives lost this way.

Thomas’ words leave an imprint in the mind of the reader, and the project itself leaves an imprint on the timeline of the modern art world.

Find out more: www.maryameisler.com

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Reading time: 5 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 black and white picture of a house and a woman lying on a balcony
A black and white picture of a house and a woman lying on a balcony

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

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

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

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Lucca Hue-Williams, Founder and Director of Albion Jeune

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Esben Weile Kjær, Under the Rainbow, 2023

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

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

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

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

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

Artist Esben Weile Kjær

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

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

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Reading time: 4 min
A girl looking at a painting frightened clutching a notepad
portraits of people

Dilara Begum Jolly, Parables of the Womb. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Barrister A B M Hamidul Mishbah, who specialises in Intellectual Property (Copyright & Visual Art) and Technology Law writes about three historic derivative artworks from the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation’s extensive collection, and provides insight into the complex issues of copyright and ownership in the art world

“I walk, I look, I see, I stop, I photograph” said Leon Levinstein. Every element of an artistic or creative work, be it a photograph or a painting, weaves a tapestry of ingenuity. The pursuit of collecting such artistic or creative works is a testament to the realities we encounter in our lives.

“Parables of the Womb”, acquired and preserved by the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation (DBF), is a series of portraits of Birangonas (War Heroes) of the 1971 Liberation War of Bangladesh. The masterpieces were created by Dilara Begum Jolly, acclaimed artist, painter, and sculptor in Bangladesh. Jolly  rejuvenated original photographs to commemorate the plight experienced by women during the troubled times of the Liberation War.

The artworks consist of reprinted photographs of the Birangonas (War Heroes), adorned with needlework, achieving the status of ‘derivative work.’ Derivative work is a form of creative expression spawned from pre-existing original work that contains substantial transformation in line with the creator’s vision. As a result, it receives the protection of copyright law and allows the creator to control her integrity and commercial interests.

A profile of a woman in lots of different colours

Andy Warhol, Ingrid Bergman, Edition 10/30. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Andy Warhol, perceived as one of the pioneers of Pop Art, created the artwork “LIZ” in 1963. The “LIZ” series comprises several paintings devised from Elizabeth Taylor‘s publicity photograph for her film ‘Butterfield 8.’ Andy Warhol used a method of silkscreen printing, and the series showcases Warhol’s signature style of vibrant and bold colours blended with contrasting hues to highlight the artist’s fondness for fame, iconic personalities, and celebrity culture.  The series remains a significant part of Warhol’s enduring legacy, speaking to the relationship between art, commerce, and mass media, inspiring the artists and audiences of this age. One of the artworks in the series of derivative works, is another jewel of the DBF’s collection.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Atul Dodiya, one of the most coveted contemporary artists in the Indian subcontinent, rose to prominence in the late ’90s for a series of artworks he created on Mahatma Gandhi. One of the artworks from that series depicts Mahatma Gandhi and Netaji Subhash Chandra Bose engrossed in a deep conversation, created using a public domain photograph dating back to 1938. The original photograph was captured during a session of the Indian National Congress in Haripura, marking the first resolution after regaining India from the British Raj.

The artistic rendition created by Dodiya is a sepia-washed watercolour painting, immortalising the historic moment that paved the way for India’s liberation and commemorates the significant roles played by the two iconic leaders. The DBF steadfastly preserves this piece.

A girl looking at a painting frightened clutching a notepad

Atul Dodiya, Noakhali, November 1946. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Original photographs enjoy copyright protection under copyright law. Copyright protection for photographs begins the moment the image is created, i.e., fixed onto the film negative through the camera’s shutter click. The person who captures the photograph is considered the ‘author’ and becomes the first owner of the photograph’s copyright, enjoying exclusive rights, including the right to reproduce (copy, print, download, etc.), the right to communicate to the public, create derivative works, and the right to prevent unauthorised use by third parties.

This means the original photographs, whether portraits of the Birangonas, Taylor’s publicity photograph from the film ‘Butterfield 8,’ or stock images from the 1938 session of the Indian National Congress in Haripura, were standalone works created by independent photographers. These photographers are presumed to be the authors and owners of the copyright in those photographs unless there is covenant to the contrary; the portraits are unequivocally not orphan works.

Maurizio Cattelan
has said: “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.” This philosophy that resonates with Rabindranath Tagore‘s school of thought on ‘moner mukti’ (indulgence of the mind). This is the juncture where the law intersects with creativity and innovation.

Three artworks of tools in the sky

Shilpa Gupta, Unnoticed, 2017. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

Creating derivative works from original photographs is permissible if endorsed by, and without prejudicing the interests of, the original author. Some jurisdictions are accommodating to derivative works created for certain purposes under the principles of ‘fair use,’ without the original author’s permission, taking into account the underlying purpose, nature, extent, and potential impact of the derivative work.

Read more: Syed Muhammad Zakir’s imagined city of Baghreb

By and large, artistic works create bridges that connect our past, present, and future, reminding us of the timeless beauty and relevance of human creativity. Artistic works such as “Parables of the Womb”, the “LIZ” series, and Dodiya’s paintings have the innate ability to evoke emotions, resonate the connection between art and human experience, and ignite the passion for collecting and celebrating art.

Two women, one holding a child in a dark room wearing large green glasses

Firoz Mahmud, part of a photograph series, ‘Soaked Dream’. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

The interplay between copyright protection for photographs, derivative works, and digital artistic assets has become remarkably intense in the age of NFTs, which consistently push the boundaries. NFTs have revolutionised the concept of ownership and the domain of collecting and preserving art. Owning an NFT and owning a copyright are not the same. Copyright law does not confer any rights to the NFT owner, but the NFT owner may use ownership to exert substantial control over an NFT. This control is not automatic; two separate rights come into play here—the right to own a single copy of the artistic work, and the right to make copies and generate derivative works from the original work. NFT technology enables broader access to innovative creations. Collectors of artistic works can now play a transformative role and foster a dynamic ecosystem that blends artistry and commerce in ways never seen before, while the tokenisation of artworks into NFTs opens new streams for generating revenue.

Nonetheless,  collectors remain custodians of history. It’s not the financial gain but the narratives woven by the creators that motivate most collectors. They dedicate themselves to safeguarding artworks as a testament to the evolving journey of humanity. Each piece of artistic work encapsulates a moment frozen in time. With every piece of work, artists breathe life into their visions, and collectors, in turn, take on the responsibility to ensure that these visions endure for generations.

A family with children wearing large green glasses in a dark room

Firoz Mahmud’s photograph series, ‘Soaked Dream’, is a project about performative refugee, displaced and migrant families, being progressed between 2015-2021. Image courtesy of the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

The acquisition and conservation of artistic creations like “Parables of the Womb”, the “LIZ” series, or Dodiya’s watercolour paintings by a collector passes down our narratives to the generations to come.

This article was published in association with the Durjoy Bangladesh Foundation

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Reading time: 6 min

Part of a VR series that Beeple released for free public use. Courtesy of W1 Curates

Mike Winklemann, AKA Beeple, shot to fame after his digital artwork EVERYDAY: THE FIRST 5000 DAYS became the first ever purely non-fungible-token (NFT) to be sold at Christie’s, and was auctioned off for just shy of 70 million dollars in cryptocurrency. Darius Sanai spoke to the artist at his solo show at W1 Curates in Oxford Street, London

LUX: There is a lot of societal commentary in your digital artwork. Do you set out to do that, or is it something that develops?
Mike Winkelmann (Beeple): I guess I set out to do it. Im trying to predict things that are going to be issues in the future, or trends that I see developing now. This piece is talking about Natanz. Basically, the US didn’t confirm this, but it was speculated that they blew up the Iranian nuclear reactor. This is talking about how, in the future, I think there’s going to be  more warfare like that where they get into a computer system and f*ck some sh*t up.

If this is the first instance of a computer programme being used to physically blow things up, I don’t think it will be the last. I think it will happen more and more. It’s terrorists getting into a computer system to blow up an electrical plant. I think more things like that will happen.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

LUX: Can you tell me about your ‘Everydays’ piece?
B: These are ‘Everydays’ in motion, where I made a picture each day and then occasionally I’d think it might be interesting if I animated it. I would take maybe 3 or 4 days and animate a little 15-second scene of that picture. This was a picture of when Trump locked himself in the White House. This was when Elon [Musk] had his baby, and named it X Æ A-12.

Some of them are not specifically about something. That one was during coronavirus when people started talking about killer hornets. This is just some weird Michael Jackson meme. And so on.

LUX: When you started back in the 2000s did you consider yourself a graphic designer, an artist, a filmmaker, or something else?
B: I considered what I was making to be art, just regular art, no different from anybody else. I was just using a different medium. But I considered myself a designer, because the way I made money was through solving visual problems for people. People were asking for concert visuals for Lady Gaga, or concert visuals for the Superbowl. So I’d take the brief of XYZ and say “okay, I’ll do that.”

LUX: So, it’s a practical application?
B: I know the tools; I can build you whatever you want. You tell me what to do and I’ll do it. I did it for money and that was it, while I put most of my real energy into work where I could do whatever I wanted.

The more of this work that I put out there for free, the better I got, until clients like Louis Vuitton were contacting me. It was really like I was a designer by day and also carving away a large amount of time to do my own work, that I wasn’t trying to sell, there was no concept of people collecting it. Art is just something you make and put online and people experience it and that’s it, and it was quite a shift when people began to start collecting it. That was just not a part of the way I thought about art.

Panel talk with Beeple (Mike Winkelmann), Nick Knight from Showstudio and Mark Dale from W1Curates. Courtesy of W1 Curates

LUX: What enabled these to become collector pieces?
B: The NFTs. The NFT thing, which took a lot of people coming up to me and saying, I think you should check this out. At first, I wasn’t sure, I thought it was just weird crypto sh*t, not my thing. Then finally it clicked and I thought, wait a second, this could be the same as moments in the past where people have refused to believe something was art. Photography, that’s not art, it’s just people taking photos. Graffiti, that’s not art, it’s vandalism, how could it be art? Then everyone says “oh wait! I guess it’s art.”

I think that’s what is about to happen with digital art. At the moment it’s this thing that everybody knows and everybody sees all the time and is actually completely ubiquitous in the visual language of our society. It’s websites, it’s voices, it’s TV, it’s video games, everything you see is visual. Art has touched it, but it’s not capital A art, because until recently, there wasn’t a meaningful way to collect it. You could print it out, you could give somebody a thumb drive, but that didn’t really resonate with people until the NFT thing. The ability to prove ownership resonated with people.

LUX: Is there a tension between the traditional capital A art world and the world of digital art?
B: 100%, yes. I think people in the digital world think that because we had the sale at Christie, we’re part of the art world now. In reality, there’s a lot of people still calling bullsh*t on us; we’ve got a long way to go to convince everybody that we’re the real deal.

It’s come a long way in 2 years, I will say that, much faster than I thought. A couple of years ago I would have believed it would have taken us 10 years to get to where we are now. It’s a matter of waiting for it to click for people that the stuff they take for granted, because it’s so ubiquitous, is actually made by people. It’s not that different from painting a picture.  You’re sitting down, you’re producing a picture, it’s got a message, it’s got an aesthetic, it’s the exact same thing.

LUX: Yet many people resist calling it art. Why do you think this is?
B: I think it is just very new, it came out of nowhere. I was as dumbfounded as anyone by these developments. But I think when people have an experience that connects with them emotionally, like any other type of medium, any other type of art, then it will click with them. But they see the headlines and they see “monkey JPG selling for crazy amount” which makes it easier to call bullsh*t on the whole thing. There’s a lot of distinction between the different things people are doing in the NFT space, with some people looking towards a more baseball-type, collectible thing rather than the art side of things. Then there are people who are trying to make serious work that, in my opinion, is no different from any other artist working in any other medium.

Beeple’s Everydays, the First 5000 Days. Courtesy of W1 Curates.

LUX: Is there not a lot of bullsh*t in the traditional art world as well.
B: Yes, but everybody’s used to that bullsh*t. Also, there are so many people who think NFTs look like crap. Most traditional art looks like crap, you just can’t see it as easily. You can go online and instantly see hundreds of NFTs, but you can’t immediately see hundreds of pieces of traditional art – if you did, you would see a lot of crap I’d promise you that. Or you would see a lot of stuff which looks fine but isn’t new in any way. It’s just the same regurgitated ideas that are 100 years old. It looks more like what you would expect art to look like, but it’s not good. I could make some abstract art that anybody would agree is art,  but it doesn’t matter, that’s not good. I think I’m trying to make things for 100 years from now. I think a lot of traditional art is trying to make something that looks like art right now, and half the time it looks like it would have been made 100 years ago.

LUX: Do you think in 100 years people will look at this, you and others, and think this is an inflection point where it changed, just like things changed with Duchamp?
B: We will see. I don’t know, but I think this is definitely a different moment. I think it will be seen as an inflection point because you’re going to see a massive shift as digital tools and digital distribution become more a part of art, because those advance rapidly, they will continue to advance rapidly with technology. I don’t know a lot about painting but I’m not sure how much it has changed in the last 100 years through technology.

LUX: Does this fit better in the Metaverse?
B: What do you mean by the metaverse? I don’t even know what that means, it’s just a marketing term.

LUX: The space where you can go buy a computer rendition of a Dior gown and put it on an avatar and pay for it. I mean, that’s just the beginning right?
B: Except none of those worlds exist. How much time do you spend in the metaverse?

LUX: Not me, but other people do.
B: No they don’t. If you look at these platforms, nobody is spending any time in them, because they’re not engaging enough. It’s like VR. How much time do you spend in VR? Zero.

I’ve gone all over the world many times and heard people talking about the metaverse, but then they don’t spend any time there themselves. It’s like VR. Fun for 2 seconds and then you’ve done it and you move on.

I don’t think it will always be like that, but I think the first thing we will all consider the metaverse is AR glasses. That is what I think we will consider the first true metaverse is, when all of us are wearing glasses and we can all see a layer of things that are the same, when we can all see a digital sculpture right here, and we can walk around it and we all can point to it, and you see what I’m seeing. Everybody being jacked into VR in a tube of goo, that’s a waste.

Courtesy of W1 Curates

LUX: A traditional collector would buy a painting and put it on their wall. How is this art best displayed?
B: Almost all of the pieces that I have now come with some sort of physical element. Some of them are titanium back-screens, and others are like paintings or giant prints, or these human size boxes. A lot of the pieces have physical components like that because to me it’s important to have a physical way to experience the work. To me, it makes it much more visceral and much more impactful.

LUX: Are attitudes towards digital art changing?
B: Yes, things are changing a lot. We just had Deji Art Museum in China buy a piece, there are pieces at MoMa right now, you’re seeing a bunch of museums invest. I think when people see work that can withstand criticism and has some actual depth to it, then they’ll change their mind.

But it is taking time. I think people who are truly thoughtful and are approaching it with an open mind, with the attitude that they don’t know everything about art and this could be something new that they want to be a part of, those people are coming around very quickly. But that’s not everybody. People have to change their mind of what this is, and that doesn’t often happen quickly.

LUX: And you mentioned street art and graffiti before. Is there a parallel with what happened there 30 years ago where that wasn’t considered art?
B: 100%, I think it’s the exact same thing. I look at this work as the street art of the internet, because you can post anything you want there’s this free for all thing. All street art is trying to get people’s attention, the street part of it is “permissionless” art where they were going out and thinking, I’m not going to get anybody’s permission to do this, I’m just going to do it. That’s how I’ve always operated. I don’t need anybody’s permission to show this, I made it, I put it on the internet, that’s it.

That’s very different from the traditional art world where you make a piece of art, then you’ve got to wait for a gallery or a museum and somebody’s got to look at it and say yes, I will show that. Nobody has to say yes on the internet.

More from Beeple’s VR Series. Courtesy of W1 Curates.

LUX: How did you engage with art when you were a kid?
B: I went to school for computer science. As a kid, I didn’t do a massive amount of art on the side. I was always doing a lot of stuff on computers. At first I wanted to make video games, but then I got to college and I saw some people who wanted to make video games, and I realised I didn’t want it that badly. I was spending all of my time making weird little abstract clips that had no inherent purpose; they were just little tiny artistic expressions.

I was spending my time making short films too, and so to begin there was no sense of wanting to get people to collect my work or making a living off of it. I actually really liked the fact that I didn’t make a living off of it because it meant I could say whatever I wanted. I never cared about commercial art, I just wanted to make people happy. So I had a good separation there, I could say whatever I wanted without thinking about whether this is something someone’s going to hang on their wall. Because a lot of it is not something you want to hang on your wall, to be quite honest.

LUX: The world is getting weirder and worse. Does that help your work?
B: I don’t think it’s getting worse, but I think it will get weirder. That’s also why I make this sh*t weird; because people think that could never happen. But Donald Trump was just your f*cking president! A man-child with no experience who is paying off porn stars. 20 years ago you wouldn’t have said that could happen.

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

I look at what happened with me and this crazy $70 million sale. That was honestly a weird bi-product of the conversation about art and digital art, and then crypto with nothing to do with art coming into it. As technologies combine like that, in ways we didn<‘t expect, weird things happen. It’s similar to Trump being elected and the role social media played there. Social media comes and everyone thinks it’s great and Mark Zuckerburg is a f*cking hero, liberating all these people. Then time goes on and you think, wait a second, we didn’t see this coming.

That will probably keep happening. There’s gonna be things we didn’t see coming and it can have massively profound effects. The world is so connected now and so digital already; these things can happen so fast. Suddenly millions of people get behind an idea or a movement. I mean, look at the NFTs. Again, we went from zero to being this billion-dollar industry in months. I think weird things are going to happen more and more.

Courtesy of W1 Curates

LUX: Would you like to be recognised by collections who don’t recognise digital art? Is that important to you or do you not care?
B: Yes, I would like to change their mind. I’ve been trying to help educate people in the traditional art world because I think there’s a lot of people in the crypto world who don’t actually care about art. Their allegiance is to crypto, my allegiance is to art.

I just learned about crypto 2 years ago, and I learned about NFTs literally months before that sale. The traditional art world also has a lot of people who, in my opinion, are not in it for the right reasons, they’re just in it for money. But there’s a lot more people who are truly passionate about this, who truly want to see art evolve and are interested in the continuation of art history and contextualising this moment within it.

I’ve been trying to play in both worlds to some extent. There’s a lot more that can be done in terms of NFTs and art being more dynamic. There’s a lot more to come.

Find out more: www.beeple-crap.com

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Reading time: 14 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
a sofa in a lobby with colourful works of art on the walls behind it
a sofa in a lobby with colourful works of art on the walls behind it

The Four Seasons, 2021, by Idris Khan, in the lobby of the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

With Preview Day of Frieze New York underway, Will Fenstermaker discovers a stunning and carefully curated selection of artworks, in a spectacular skyscraper in midtown Manhattan, courtesy of Deutsche Bank

On a warm Manhattan afternoon, the sun is shining in a way that it only shines in cities and canyons. For a moment, light reaches the lobby of the Deutsche Bank Center, two 55-storey skyscrapers occupying the entire west side of Columbus Circle in New York City. Inside, four coloured paintings seemed to come alive. They comprise a work called The Four Seasons by the London-based artist Idris Khan.

A landscaped terrace at the Deutsche Bank Center

A landscaped terrace at the Deutsche Bank Center

Unbeknown to many, the Deutsche Bank Center is home to one of the world’s most substantial collections of contemporary photographs and works on paper. Deutsche Bank began collecting art in the late 1970s with a small idea, one that would prove radical in the context of corporate collections: works on paper could be made viewable to all, not siloed away in storage or senior executives’ offices. In 1978, the bank arranged its first display in its New York offices, and in 1986 it opened its new global headquarters in Frankfurt’s Twin Towers with each of the buildings’ 60 floors dedicated to a single artist.

Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century by Andy Warhol

Ten Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century by Andy Warhol at the Deutsche Bank Centre in New York

At the time, the collection consisted mostly of work made by German artists (Deutsche Bank owns a particularly significant watercolour from Sigmar Polke’s early Capitalist Realism period, for example, and a vibrant pencil drawing made by AR Penck while the artist was living in the German Democratic Republic). Today, Deutsche Bank’s collection consists of tens of thousands of works of art, representing cultures from around the world, and displayed across 900 offices. “Portrait of a Collection”, in Deutsche Bank’s Columbus Circle building, charts the evolution and expansion of the New York collection. “Diversity is a truly important topic at Deutsche Bank,” says Britta Färber, Global Head of Art. Färber says works in the collection by Abstract Expressionist artists Eva Hesse, Lee Krasner and Joan Mitchell are “as groundbreaking as those of their male counterparts.” They underscore the impact of women artists on the movement.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

While Deutsche Bank has no special remit to collect work by women artists, its attention to them over the decades is impressive. Wangechi Mutu, the subject of a recent retrospective at the New Museum and a 2019 façade commission at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, earned early support as a Deutsche Bank Artist of the Year in 2010. Alongside the major works by female Abstract Expressionists, the bank’s US collection contains major works by influential photographers such as Candida Höfer and Carrie Mae Weems, and contemporary artists such as Amy Sillman and Betty Woodman. In fact, Färber says that 80 per cent of recent acquisitions are works by women artists.

Fei Lai Feng by Thomas Struth

Works by Imi Knoebel (left) and Fei Lai Feng by Thomas Struth (right) in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

For the prestigious Deutsche Bank Artists of the Year programme, a team of external art experts, including renowned curators Hou Hanru, Udo Kittelmann and Victoria Noorthoorn, propose key artists to a senior committee within the bank. It leads to an appreciation for art and community that is threaded throughout the organisation. More recent acquisitions include a triptych by John Akomfrah, a British artist of Ghanian descent and the son of anticolonial activists, and a group of works by Paris-based Canadian artist Kapwani Kiwanga, whose work explores the impact of colonialism on Canada’s First Nations. Both artists will represent their home countries at the 2024 Venice Biennale.

Four Panels from Untitled 1972, by Jasper Johns at the Deutsche Bank Centre in New York

Four Panels from Untitled 1972, by Jasper Johns at the Deutsche Bank Centre in New York

“It is an honour to have work in a collection as expertly curated, well regarded and diligently cared for as the Deutsche Bank collection,” says artist Erin O’Keefe. In 2022, the bank commissioned O’Keefe as its Lounge Artist at Frieze New York – a fair it has supported international presence is a real benefit,” O’Keefe continues. “It allows the work to be introduced to audiences beyond the regional art worlds.” In New York, works by Kandis Williams, Haegue Yang, Moshekwa Langa, Jose Dávila and ruby onyinyechi amanze provide a refreshingly global outlook on contemporary artistic production. “Because I developed a personal relationship with many of Deutsche Bank’s representatives, it didn’t feel like I was joining a significant corporate collection,” says amanze, who is happy to see her work contextualised in the company of such significant works on paper.

Works including 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 (left)

Works including 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 (left)

An immense composite photograph of the Shilin Night Market in Taiwan by photographer Jeff Chien-Hsing Liao belongs to a series “exploring the complex cultural conditions of countries that are heavily influenced by modern colonisation and the ongoing impact of globalised immigrant labour,” says the artist. Some might find it surprising that work so critical of capital is in the collection of a global corporation, but Deutsche Bank believes that its collection strengthens the firm’s commitment to funding positive impact.

The Oratory Command: X Carmichael King Hampton by Kandis Williams (left) and Untitled 2015 by Kay Hassan (right)

The Oratory Command: X Carmichael King Hampton by Kandis Williams (left) and Untitled 2015 by Kay Hassan (right) at the Deutsche Bank Centre, New York

Read more: Sophie Neuendorf’s Guide to Starting an Art Collection

Back downstairs, art including The Four Seasons is an expression of Deutsche Bank’s broader ambition to support sustainable initiatives. “The art in the lobby ties the since it was founded in London 20 years ago, including through its annual Los Angeles Film Award and Emerging Curators Fellowship. “The fact that the collection has an Deutsche Bank Center to the original design approach for our space,” says James Dyson, Director of Global Real Estate for the Americas.

Faces of Infinity (Unfinished) by Charles Avery

Faces of Infinity (Unfinished) by Charles Avery in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Centre, New York

When Deutsche Bank began planning the project, it hired Gensler to design the workspace. In June 2022, the project achieved LEED Gold certification, marking a significant advancement in Deutsche Bank’s goal of reaching net zero by 2050.

Jewel Glow – Trustworthy #248 by Haegue Yang in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

Jewel Glow – Trustworthy #248 by Haegue Yang in the collection at the Deutsche Bank Center, New York

Deutsche Bank’s space consumes half the energy of its previous headquarters and 100% of its CO2 emissions are compensated via renewable sources. That sits well alongside the energy of its art.

Find out more: art.db.com

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

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Reading time: 5 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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Black and white photo of two pears in a bowl
red flowers

Red Dahlias by Cig Harvey

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

The Collector: Graham Nash

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

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

Black and white photo of two pears in a bowl

Two Pears by
Paul Caponigro

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

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

black and white photo of a tree on a hill

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

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

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

grey sky and a beach with a mountain in the distance

Beachwalker by Jeffrey Conley

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

Green photo of a woman wearing a black dress

Yoji Yamamoto by Sarah Moon

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

The Gallerist: Camilla Grimaldi

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

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

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

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

colourful photographs of statues

Untitled View 2014 by Goldschmied & Chiari

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

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

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

A photograph of a stone room with wrapped up statues

Musei Vaticani XXI, Roma 2014 by Massimo Listri

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

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

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

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

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

six abstract works of art hung up on a wall

Total blu, 2022-2023 by Domingo Milella

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

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

The Photographer: Sam Wright

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

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

A man lounging on a chair topless

From the Welcome to Napoli series by Sam Wright

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the Welcome to Napoli series by Sam Wright

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

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

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

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

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

a bush of red flowers and clouds in the sky

From the Welcome to Napoli series by Sam Wright

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

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

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Reading time: 15 min
a woman smiling wearing a multicoloured dress with yellow sleeves
squares with photos of palm trees in them

Estenopeica Digital I by Javier Hinojosa, 2022

Fariba Farshad is co-founder of Photo London which since its inception eight years ago has become one of the most respected photography fairs in the world. This year’s edition is the strongest yet with 125 exhibitors from 56 countries worldwide and a sponsorship portfolio that includes the Royal Bank of Canada as Principal Partners and Belmond as Presenting Partners.  Here, Farshad speaks to LUX about the future of the fair and her latest curation project, Fotografìa Maroma- an exhibition commissioned to  capture the environmental beauty of the Riviera Maya in Mexico where Maroma, A Belmond Hotel, will reopen later this year
a woman smiling wearing a multicoloured dress with yellow sleeves

Fariba Farshad © Laura Pannack

LUX: How did the Fotografía Maroma project come about?
Fariba Farshad: I was asked to curate a show featuring a group of important Mexican artists. I was delighted to be asked, but at the same time a little challenged  by the idea. I understand and love Mexican photography. It has a rich photographic tradition and is an increasingly important   market for contemporary photography with a lot of good artists who are represented internationally by important galleries – but for me to visit and work with a culture that I don’t come from myself was a big undertaking. So it  was great to be able to collaborate with Patricia Conde who has one of the most known photography galleries in Mexico.

Between us we selected four artists: two very established artists, one who had been working in very different industries including advertising and one young emerging photographer. We asked them to travel to Maroma, to Riviera Maya, and develop their own artistic responses to the wild beauty of the pristine Mayan environment. As for the images, the brief was completely open. Moreover, they were only given two weeks to work in the area and to work with the natural surroundings. It was not necessarily the best time of year – not exactly ‘beach weather’, which was interesting because most of the time the weather there is fantastic! Of course, it was a professional assignment, not a holiday. They were supported by a fixer and the hotel, and they were free to work wherever and however their inspiration took them.

A black and white tornado

Horizonte I by Margot Kalach, 2022

LUX: What do you find particularly interesting about the Rivera Maya?
FF: What is particularly interesting is that the four artists found themselves in a wild and unusual working environment. Not at all in their comfort zone. Patricia Lagarde, for example, is very much an established artis whose practice is studio based. Asking her to work in a different, even awkward state was a very interesting challenge for us and for her. All of them were the same in a way, like Patricia, they were mostly studio-based. Javier Hinojosa, is a highly regarded artist whose studio- made portraits in black and white justly famous, He was sent to work in the wilderness and we were fascinated to see what he came back with. The same was true of Ilan Rabchinskey who says of his minimalist studio practice ‘My aspiration is to achieve simplicity’ For him working with nature meant ‘managing uncontrollable factors’. The result was a series of, creating 3D objects allowing the beautiful natural light of the place to create a play of shadows and then photographing the results. The final member of the group was a talented emerging artist Margot Kalach, who was interested in working with light to create digital artworks.

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The other interesting aspect was the time frame. It was the first time that I have worked with artists and commissioned new work with such an intense deadline. I actually think the reason it worked so well was because they didn’t have too much time to edit the result, and therefore it was very continuous and very creative. I am really delighted by the result.

The moon on a sheet hung up on the beach

Trapping the Moon by Patricia Lagarde, 2022

LUX: What did the artists create?
FF: Patricia ended up capturing the moon by spreading a piece of white cloth and taking the photo of that reflection, and then hanging it in the wind before photographing it again. It was a performance installation piece in photography; fantastic and totally different to anything she’s done before.

Javier took these amazing photographs of the waves in one series and plants in another He then deconstructed the images and reassembled them into grids of eight pieces and in doing so created a completely new image. I found his process fascinating. He used his iPhone on the water, creating a pinhole with his phone, and used all sorts of experimental ways of dealing with technology, different cameras as well as the phone to create new images. He had not worked this way before this commission.

coloured sheets on a beach

Drift and Direction from A Vessel for the Sun by Ilán Rabchinskey, 2022

Ilán took 3D objects from his studio to the beach and positioned them, waiting for one set of shadows to be created by the wind, the water, and the beach, letting nature take over the process of painting with light.

I was really excited to see what Margot, would come up with using digital technology. In fact, she chose to create a pinhole camera using a paintbox. She basically turned her bathroom into a darkroom, and the result was absolutely amazing: the sort of large print that uses the depths and the dreamy capture of the water. She totally went for very early technology rather than pursuing her in-studio high-tech approach. It was fascinating and she absolutely loved it. I think it is going to have a very long lasting effect on her work.

Fotografia Maroma, the show they made together, opened at Art Basel Miami Beach in the design district in December, then went to Mexico during Zona Macao, and is now coming to Photo London.

lots of stones and pebbles

A Particle, A Wave from A Vessel for the Sun by Ilán Rabchinskey, 2022

LUX: This year’s Photo London has seen a significant evolution and in fact a couple of significant new partners and sponsors. Could talk us through that?
FF: Photo London 2023 is our 8th edition. It has grown stronger with each passing year. Even when the pandemic hit in 2020 when we were two months out from the Fair, we took the opportunity to develop our Academy programme of talks and launch a successful online magazine (now in its 100th edition) and ran a fantastic and very successful online Fair in September 2020. Our partnership with Nikon was sealed during the pandemic and we took that to be an important endorsement of the strength of Photo London.

This year we have three new partners: Hahnemuhle came on board earlier in the year and with them we launched a new Photo London Hahnemuhle student award; we just released the shortlist for this. We are also continuing our Emerging Photographer of the Year Award with Nikon. Belmond have come on board as Presenting Partner having successfully partnered with us on Fotografía Maroma. And finally the most recent addition to our partnership portfolio is the Royal Bank of Canada, who recently became our Principal Partners. They are planning a great series of activations this year. They have a strong tradition of collecting and supporting emerging artists so in many ways are the perfect partners for Photo London. We are really looking forward to working with them and developing this relationship. These are very significant changes for Photo London. This fantastic group of sponsors shows how Photo London has really established itself as a key cultural event both in London and internationally.

A black and white beach

Horizonte II by Margot Kalach, 2022

LUX: Between 2015 and now, pandemic notwithstanding, have you seen a noticeable shift in consciousness among photography collectors?
FF: Certainly, during the pandemic some galleries did good business. Photography collectors are always very cautious, taking their time, doing the research, looking around, and so the online presence of galleries sort of suited them. They were actually very active.

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

I think we see very much a shift towards contemporary, younger collectors, in London especially, and that is exactly what we have been working on for the last eight years. We wanted to look to the future and create a platform for future photography, because photography is based on a continual process of experimentation and reinvention fuelled by fast-moving technology. It’s a relatively young medium, changing rapidly, and is finding its way through all sorts of directions. Our vision has always been to create a platform for younger galleries, younger artists, and, alongside that, educate and develop a pool of younger collectors.

Two men and a woman all wearing dark suits standing side by side

Photo London founders Fariba Farshad (left), Michael Benson (right) with new director Kamiar Maleki

But overall, the art world changed so much after the pandemic, and many galleries found it more difficult to sustain themselves. Some moved to smaller places, some worked online. Everything in our world is generally shifting and still hasn’t quite returned pre-pandemic levels, though this year’s Fair shows that we are almost there. As a business, as a Fair, you absolutely need to be conscious of all these changes and create space for the opportunities they bring.

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

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Reading time: 8 min
A man in a bullring holding a pink and yellow flag with women on either side of him holding red flags
The front of a hotel with a woman coming out of it and a sign that says Nord Pinus

Il Etait Une Fois, Le Nord-Pinus by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler – the photographer behind many of LUX’s artist covers, including our most recent KAWS cover- continues her fascination with the Sublime Feminine in her latest series of works, If Only These Walls Could Talk

In 1973, Helmut Newton travelled to Arles and photographed Charlotte Rampling for her iconic Vogue shoot. 48 years later Maryam Eisler returns to this precise location, Suite 10 at the Hôtel Nord-Pinus to continue her exploration of the ‘Sublime Feminine’, the focus on sensuality​, and the female gaze ​within the context of this culturally historic space.

A woman eating with her ditty feet on the table

Huitres, Coquillages et Crustacés by Maryam Eisler

For this series, black and white photography takes precedence, allowing Eisler to distil figures to create ‘body architecture’ through abstract and emotive shapes. Embracing the beauty of women and their forms, in her photographs, the message of strength yet uncompromising femininity is clear.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

A woman sitting on a sofa wearing a black blazer flipping her back

La Lionne by Maryam Eisler

​Maryam additionally looks to Suite 10 ​and it’s context as a place famously known ​for its association with successful bullfighters, such as Luis Miguel Dominguín, who waved at their fans from the balcony. Not only does this series pay tribute to the sport itself but also the artists, poets and writers who have also appreciated bullfighting in their works too.

Read more: A Belle Epoque revival in Paris

​In Maryam’s artworks, the bull is replaced by the strength and beauty of a female protagonist, ​at once the captor and the captivated, holding the power through their red capes.

A man in a bullring holding a pink and yellow flag with women on either side of him holding red flags

Autant En Emporte Le Vent by Maryam Eisler

Maryam Eisler’s exhibition of ‘If Only These Walls Could Talk’ will be showing at Alon Zakaim Fine Art from Wednesday 2nd – Thursday 24th November 2022

The accompanying publication ‘If Only These Walls Could Talk,’, which includes a foreword by Brandei Estes, Sotheby’s Director, Head of Photographs, EMEA, will be available to coincide with the exhibition

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Two men in suits sitting under an umbrella
For the winter 2023 issue of LUX, rising star photographer Angie Kremer captured the stars of an emerging Parisian creative scene. Her evocative images and her interviews with these individuals explore their relationship with the city and its evolving cultural ambit

Tom-David Bastok & Dylan Lessel
Co-founders, Perrotin Second Marché, which offers collectors a bespoke alternative to auction houses

LUX: How has the creative scene in Paris changed recently?
The art scene in Paris is becoming more dynamic than ever. Some say that the city is regaining its essential place after New York, following Brexit in the UK and the coronavirus pandemic. Paris has always played a key role in art – especially during the 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was the absolute artistic epicentre of the world. Therefore, what the city has lately been experiencing feels more like a logical return to its roots, rather than an unexpected change. Paris has been providing fertile ground for artists and international galleries that have just opened their doors – such as David Zwirner, Skarstedt, Mariane Ibrahim and White Cube.

Anthony Authié
Founder, Zyva Studio, a trans-design architecture studio

LUX: What do you find most exciting about what you do?
The thing I like the most about my job is the fact that you can practise it in different ways. Architecture is plural. You can talk about it, write about it, draw it, virtualise it. I’d really like to write an architectural novel, to be able to do 3D, create NFTs, launch a furniture line. I feel that I can constantly reinvent myself.

A man with his tattooed hand on his face

LUX: Is Paris better than London?
For someone like me, who loves clichés above all else, Paris is the city of love, while London is the city of punk. While the idea of being able to design rock ’n’ roll architecture appeals to me, I will always choose the love and romance of Paris. So, yes, Paris forever.

LUX: Is Paris still a difficult place for non-Parisians?
I think this is a fantasy. I often have the impression that the provinces tend to have a harder time accepting Parisians than the other way around. Paris can seem harsh, but I think it’s really more about openness than rejection. Let’s just say that you can’t be too sensitive to live and work in Paris.

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Sidonie Gaychet
Director, 110 Honoré, a new Parisian cultural venue on rue Saint-Honoré

LUX: What will Paris+ par Art Basel bring to Paris?
Since 1974 Paris has hosted the unmissable event of the autumn season – the FIAC. Last year was a little different, since the slot at the Grand Palais Éphémère was been allocated to Paris+ par Art Basel. On the bright side, it attracted the highest crop of art institutions, collectors, artists and critics.

A woman with a black bob

LUX: Is Paris better than London?
The London art scene is very different from the French one. London has always been the wild child. Paris takes a little more time to open up. But when it does… A concept such as the one that we’re launching with 110 Honoré has already been somewhat tested in London or Berlin. However, we will bring a very Parisian twist to it.

Brice & Regis Abby
Paris-based twins, known as Doppelganger Paris, who are visual artists and DJ/ sound designers

LUX: What are your biggest challenges?
Before the pandemic we had two separate activities – music and the visual arts. We are working now to create a bridge between our iconographic references and our new musical and cinematographic projects. They deal with our childhood and a period of tension in Ivory Coast. Inclusivity and difference need to be heard and seen.

A man and woman wearing sunglasses

LUX: How has the Paris creative scene changed?
The pandemic changed the creative scene globally, and Paris has been touched by the same phenomenon. Many artists are part of that scene, but don’t live in Paris any more; they moved to the countryside. But the renewal is definitely there, with new galleries and creative agencies. It was a challenging time, because the culture was non-essential.

Sophia Elizabeth
Co-founder, Spaghetti Archives, which presents a monthly selection of archival fashion pieces around a given theme
Olivier Leone
Co-founder, Nodaleto, a made-in-Italy luxury shoe label

LUX: Is Paris better than London?
SE: They are two different cities, but I love London and the freedom people have in their style. They don’t judge and don’t care about judgment. I love the way the city always evolves. But to be honest, I am a true Parisian.

OL: My fellow London friends won’t like it, but at the moment Paris is the best city for creatives. We are all gathered here, and the mentality is evolving. This city never ceases to amaze me.

A man and woman standing up wearing black

LUX: Is Paris still a difficult place for non-Parisians?

OL: Less and less, mostly because many foreigners came to live here and they are making the city evolve. But it’s true that it’s not a city where you can make friends easily. I was born and raised here, but always grew up with an open mind. So many Parisians, though, are snobs for no reason. It’s part of our charm, but it can be difficult.

Charlotte Ketabi-Lebard
Founder, Ketabi Projects, a contemporary art and design gallery

LUX: Is Paris better than London?
Well, you are asking a Parisian! How could I say no? Paris is the city of my heart and I don’t think I could live anywhere else. When I lived in London I would come back to Paris three to four days a week. I have never worked in London, but I know it’s been very complicated for some galleries since Brexit.

A woman with her hands over her chest

LUX: How has the creative scene changed recently in Paris?
More galleries are opening that show young artists from the French scene who have decided to remain in Paris – a few years ago a lot of artists fled to the US or Belgium. And many residency programmes, such as les Grandes-Serres de Pantin or Poush Manifesto, have been developing in Paris and its outskirts.

Anna Gardère & Raphaëlle Bellanger
Co-curators and art directors, KIDZ Paris, a book showcasing the creativity of today’s youth

LUX: How has the creative scene in Paris changed?
We love to see initiatives promoting crossover between the art world and other universes. We were talking with Joy Yamusangie, an amazing British painter, who told us how they loved working with Gucci, who gave them carte blanche on a wall in Shoreditch. We love to see artists and their visions in dialogue with scientists, too, like the one at CERN, which has opened its door to a residence of artists.

two girls back to back with one resting her chin on her fist

LUX: Is Paris still a difficult place for non-Parisians?
Paris still has its own code, but social media has definitely disturbed Parisian snobbery. Influencers have forced the whole creative industry to reconsider its criteria. Nowadays you can break into this world with a simple social-media account, because you’re supported by a community that believes in you and that is ensuring a high rate of engagement. It’s much more egalitarian – even democratic in a certain way, but also much more competitive.

Roxane Roche & Capucine Duguy-Noblinski
Co-founders, Invida Communication, a PR and digital agency

LUX: How has the Paris creative scene changed?
What has changed is the emergence of new brands with real storytelling, and a very thoughtful brand image based on editorial content. There’s a vintage rebound, too, from the 1960s and 1970s, with the relighting of brands like Courrèges and Carel. But, above all, brands are turning towards an ecological and eco-responsible approach.

Two girls in black jackets and jeans standing back to back

LUX: Is Paris still a difficult place for non-Parisians?
Paris can be difficult for a non-Parisian. People often keep to themselves and don’t easily open their doors. It’s sometimes quite confusing, but no one is ever really alone in Paris.

Ferdinand Gros
Founder, superzoom, a contemporary art gallery that offers a platform for emerging artists

LUX: How has the creative scene in Paris changed?
There are a growing number of younger galleries, and older ones that are refreshing their programmes. The emerging art scene is at its strongest ever. Additionally, there are great new artist residency programmes in Paris that work like incubators and host hundreds of studios, like Poush Manifesto. We are also seeing the established blue-chip galleries giving opportunities to younger artists.

A man wearing a white shirt with pockets on his chest

LUX: Is Paris better than London?
Not quite yet. London has managed to stay very fresh and is always ahead of Paris, in terms of art trends. London collectors are bold and forward-looking. The Parisian scene is getting there, especially in this time of creative momentum. The recent private institutions contribute a lot to this. Perhaps it will surpass London in those areas, but I don’t believe it has happened yet.

Read more: Adrian Cheng Celebrates 200 Years of Couture

Annabelle Cohen-Boulakia
Founder, Millenn’Art, a club concept that connects young artists and collectors to the art market

LUX: Is Paris better than London?
Paris is the historic city of the art world, but above all the city of my heart and the one in which I founded my project. Admittedly, it is not London, with Anglo-Saxon magic and a cosmopolitan dynamic.

A girl wearing a headscarf

LUX: What will Paris+ par Art Basel bring to Paris?
Paris+ par Art Basel, which belongs to an international group, opens up the art market beyond the Parisian sphere. I think it is a fair that leaves more room for artistic experiment and so has less conventional and, perhaps, more original content than FIAC.

About the photographer

Angie Kremer experiments with unconventional techniques in her ‘Elements Portraits’ series. “I explore the relationship between the controllable and uncontrollable, and nature’s four elements. It comes from a feeling that we have forgotten how to connect with the wildness of nature and its unpredictability.” Prints are dipped in the canals of Venice, creating a mysterious layering effect and adding tension to the portraits on these pages.

LUX: Why is Paris an inspiring city for your career ?
Paris is a truly unique place and I am fascinated with how each person living here and working in the creative field takes from its energy and uses it in their own way. Everybody in the industry has their own take on things, so they are definitely part of what makes the city so inspiring to me.

LUX: What do you have in common with all the people you photographed in the feature ?
The art industry is broad and encompasses so many different professions that there is always something inspiring about each actor of this world. Whether they specialize in design, art, fashion, music or work in Public Relations, everyone contributes to the ever-evolving culture of the city, which is something that we all have in common.

LUX: Can you tell us more about your photographic technique ?
My technique is rooted in the need to always experiment and find new ways of approaching photography. It is an ongoing process of discovery of my medium and how I can play with each stage of the creative process. For this series, I got to use a layering technique mixing chemical reactions, paper, pigments and water. So, the moving, lifelike feel of the photographs comes from me dipping the prints into the Venetian Canals and incorporating the elements of nature into the series along with a factor of unpredictability.

LUX: What are your future plans ?
I will keep meeting new inspiring people from different spheres in the industry and exchange ideas with them and have encounters that will translate into exciting future collaborations and projects. I also aim to keep working on the technique shown in this series, and I want to broaden it and turn it into something organic, that has a life of its own. I think that combining the physicality of this technique with the possibilities of the digital could make for an exciting creative venture, so I am eager to explore that.

Find out more:

angiekremerphotography.com

artbasel.com/parisplus

These interviews were conducted in June 2022
This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX
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sky with mountains, snow, trees, and lights

The drama of Lech by night. Main photograph by Isabella Sheherazade Sanai

High in the Arlberg ski region, the bijoux village of Lech has attracted royalty and aristocracy to its slopes for a century. We visit the contemporary hyphen chic Hotel Aurelio, in the middle of the slopes, and the classic Hotel Gasthof Post in the village centre to experience a unique mix of tradition, gastronomy, style, and high-quality skiing

In the far north of Austria, in an open valley leading ultimately to Germany’s Bavarian Alps, the village resort of Lech is in many ways the antithesis of some of certain Alpine resorts favoured by the rich and famous. The sublime little village, with a river running through it and views to a bowl of mountains all around, is chic in an old-world, old-money way. This is where you come when you don’t need to see or be seen.

outdoor pool with snow around it and wooden houses in background

The heated pool at the Hotel Gasthof Post

Even the luxury hotels are understated. The Hotel Gasthof Post, in the village centre, was a posthouse, convenience store and mountain inn; it was acquired in the middle of the 20th century by a family of skiers and mountaineers and formed a central part of Lech’s ascendance to a place where royals went to (not) be seen. There is something very rebalancing about sitting in your wood-panelled room and looking out over the snowfields.

Follow LUX on Instagram: luxthemagazine

Our other proposal for Lech is the Aurelio, a classical-contemporary ski-in, ski-out boutique property on the lower part of the main slope down into the village. The artistry of the design is evident in every detail, from the experience showers and herbal baths in the spa, to the photography of the ski slopes – think Martin Parr for the mountains – on display in the public areas. The prominence of photography continues in the rooms, along with light, natural woods, locally crafted furniture and neutral tones in the furnishings.

interior shot with chandelier, light brown furniture and wooden bannisters

Classical-contemporary elegance at the Aurelio

We also like the focus on sustainability in the kitchen, with local ingredients and presentation that is an art in itself.

food steaming with fork and spoon on right

Locally produced cuisine at the Aurelio

The bar/lounge is coolly discreet, and the terrace sees skiers land (sometimes literally) for an end-of-day martini. 

Read more: The serene beauty of little-known Alpine resort Drei Zinnen

The skiing in Lech is beautiful, and new connections allow a tour over to the equally upmarket mini-village of Zürs up the road, and over to the much busier slopes of St Anton, across the mountains, though we’re not really sure why you’d want to do that. Just make sure you leave your bling at home: this is not that kind of place, darling. Now tell us, how old were you when you found out that you’re next in line to the throne?

Find out more: postlech.com; aureliolech.com

houses in line covered in snow

Picture-postcard Lech by day

This article first appeared in the Autumn/Winter 2022/23 issue of LUX

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framed polaroids hung up on a wall
framed polaroids hung up on a wall

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

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

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

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

Jerry Hall and Grace Jones black and white photo

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

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

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