Archive for the ‘LOndon’ Category

Skull 1

Apologies to all as it has been a while since my last post. Much has changed since I was last informing you of something irrelevant that I, at least found interesting. However I will save you the details at this time.

Back to the review, and the most recent exhibition to get me out of my four walls was Richard Haris’s ‘Death: A Self-Portrait’ at Euston’s Welcome Gallery.

The exhibition consists of around 300 pieces of art, sculpture, animation that is devoted to attitudes surrounding death and our complex & contradictory attitudes towards the theme.

The exhibition is divided into five categories:

Room 1 – Contemplating Death: The contemplation of morality and our views around it. Images of skulls combined with the theme of time are prominent in this room to reconcile us with morality and condemn morality
Room 2 – The Dance of Death: The universal certainty of death, regardless of social status. The world has periodically suffered war, famine and disease and death provides the ultimate leveler. Skeletons alongside humans highlight the frailty of man with dark humorous overtones prevailing.

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Room 3 – Violent Death: The question this room asks is whether art can provide aesthetically pleasing work about violent death and the damage of war to body & souls. The pieces on show act as anti-war messages highlighting the damage caused.
Room 4 – Eros & Thanatos: This room questions people’s fascination with disturbing or morbid phenomena cannot be attributed to scientific curiosity. There is a strong connection with living subjects alongside skulls and skeletons.
Room 5 – Commemoration: Rituals associated with death, burial and mourning have transformed over centuries and across cultures. This room highlights the populist subject has integrated into modern culture and commercialism.

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Although a little macabre for most tastes, the exhibition is thought provoking and highlights how societies view on death and morality have become heavily desensitised. There is a dark humored undercurrent that ensures the exhibition flows from theme to theme and isn’t too morbid. Overall a great exhibition and well worth a few hours of your time.

Memento Mori

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This exhibition provides a comprehensive overview of punk graphic design, surveying imagery produced before, during and after the punk years, and drawing upon previously unseen public and private archives and collections.

Hosted by the Hayward gallery, the exhibition hosts original posters, fanzines and early 7″ records. Rather than the pieces on display, it is the sense of unity and community within the scene that really struck me. All the pressings were hand-drawn, manually photocopied and stapled together, publishers were only considered if the numbers increased to 4 digits. I can envisage the fans at time physically having to travel to buy or trade music, something that has been lost since the Internet and MP3.

The music industry has changed, and although file sharing sites are technically a larger scale version of trading cassettes (remember them?), I can’t help but feel the soul of the industry has been lost. Whether punk is your choice of music or not, I really recommend seeing the exhibition if only to understand how the scene at the time was worth so much more than just the music

Arriving at the Natural History Museum’s entrance always ignites the ‘butterflies’ in my stomach. I revert to memories of heading straight to the dinosaurs, before dragging myself away to see the latest exhibition I came for.

The latest excuse for my journey was Gunther von Hagen and his ‘BODY WORKS’ team, who use plastination to dissect various animals to highlight what organs, bones & ligaments allow animals to swim, fly, leap etc.

The exhibition varies from a stunning Indian elephant to a small 10cm frog. Some are in pure skeletal form others like a huge squid receive the ‘Damien Hirst’ treatment, and are cleanly sliced through exposing the organs and mechanisms that allows it draw in excess water through its gills, before expelling it to allow projection at speed to hunt or escape danger. There are too many animals to describe them all, so I have covered a few personal highlights.

We are immediately presented with an 8-10ft shark, its bright red nerves & fibres echoing the crimson of its various victims during its lifetime. It’s huge liver lies underneath, formally representing up to 40% of its living body weight. The cold glare of its eyes seem to follow you, with its jagged teeth still on show. There is still the unnerving feeling of being watched

The section dedicated to mammals is what will gain the greatest attention with an adult giraffe and gorilla on show. A combination of skin and fatty tissue removed to showcase the inner complexities of the animals. The giant Indian elephant in particular is the ‘show stopper’.

(I wasn’t able to sneak a picture of this)

In addition to the elephants dissection, the reconstruction purposefully provides amplified space through the fastenings to allow a greater view deeper into the animal. A brain previously belonging to the animal lies next to it (the same weight as an average baby), with its nerve endings on show. The scale of the mammal itself is something, but revealing its inner ‘mechanisms’ provides a greater appreciation.

The only possible criticism is the lack of narration. Other than a couple of sentences upon entry there is little explanation why the animals have been put on show or further insight into the plastination process. However, anyone with a keen interest in nature should take the time to go and visit (there is always a T-Rex in the next hall if it’s not for you).

David Shrigley is currently occupying the Hayward Gallery, Southbank. The exhibition consists of Shrigley’s drawings, hand written texts partnered alongside sculptures, photography, animated films, neon signs and music. The work consists of his early pieces from the mid 1990’s to especially commissioned work for this showing. 

‘Brain Activity’ like all Shrigley’s work, humorous and often makes the viewer laugh out loud. However, to dismiss his work purely as a one-liner or a quick laugh will not do it justice. He also twists everyday scenarios into darker situations with a deathly & violent theme.

The work needs to be seen to fully be appreciated, however I hope a few sneaky pictures that I had taken for me provide an insight into what to expect. Brain Activity closes on May 13th so get down there before it finishes… There is even a dead rat on display!

Do Not Linger At The Gate

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Roof Sculptures

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Drawings & Hand Written

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Family

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I had never heard of the Hauser & Wirth Gallery previous, however following a recommendation I went to see Paul McCarthy’s new, and shocking as ever exhibition.

The total exhibition spans three locations from Savile Row, Picadilly & St James’s Square. First of all was the Picadilly Gallery to see his work ‘The King’. McCarthy is famous for his installations, with The King he does not disappoint. The main hall consists of a huge platform surrounded by large airbrushed paintingS, while a live sized naked McCarthy made from latex. He body with severed limbs (in a blond wig), he sits with his eyes closed in front of a church like pew for the viewer to see his throne and ‘elevated’ status.

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There were other pieces within the gallery of note however, his ‘Pig Island’. A hard-hitting view ‘of a morally deviant world populated by pirates, cowboys, the likenesses of George W.Bush and Angelina Jolie, Disney characters and the artist himself, all carousing in a state of wild and reckless abandon’*

One part of this exhibition is the truly disturbing ‘Train, Mechanical’. A mechanical sculpture of two figures resembling Bush sodomise two pigs. Both have set movements including the rhythmic penetration action, however when approached their heads and eyes follow the viewer across the room.

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I also managed to sneak a picture (bad eticate I know), of McCarthy’s work Paula Jones

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I can’t say I really understand the meaning behind all the work, however I can appreciate the strength of the work and the impact McCarthy is making.

*Direct quote from the official press release.

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The rucksack is off and it’s time to look at todays purchases.

I’m not sure how I found out about the London Comic Mart, however it was a lot better than their self promotion merits. If you were to walk past the Royal National Hotel or even through their reception, other than a hand written note you wouldn’t even know it was happening.

Once found, the event consists of 3 rooms full of comics, DVDs collectible cards and all things ‘geek’. The event has none of the flair or sense of theatre  of the main London events, however if you have a checklist of DC, Marvel and Independents required then this is your place. 

Another thing that was clear to see was the ‘collector’ nature of the attendees of the event. At every desk there  was a least one person with a notepad full of different comics and what editions were required. Usually these type of gatherings are fun and have a social nature, however today seemed more business focussed. 

Either way I left with a 4 and 6 part mini series for Steve Niles (30 Days of Night, Return to Barrow & Criminal Macabre Mystery for those who are interested). All in all I got 17 comics for just under £15, and when the next event is hosted in February I will be sure to have my notepad ready.

(Apologies for the poor picture, my iPhone battery died)

A quick update on some of the pieces that caught my attention this week.

The original piece was one of my favourites, however this is a worthy successor.

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Not sure I have done this piece justice, but pretty cool and dark.

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Poor old Cookie Monster, I like the little stencil pieces that can be found.

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A new David Shillinglaw piece next to the brilliant No Limit Tattoo on Bacon Street.

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An old favourite from Eine

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That’s all for now, hope you enjoy.