Bold Tendencies | Sculpture (car)park

In the unlikely setting of a multistorey carpark on Rye Lane, Peckham, is the most amazing sculpture park you are ever likely to visit. I know, bold statement, right? But this is a bold statement for project that is successfully altering, if not changing, the way in which we view contemporary, public art. Bold Tendencies, now in its sixth and biggest year, is a non-profit, summer sculpture park that brings together emerging international artists and provides them with a platform that catapults into public consciousness.

The space is not glamorous, white walled and “fabulous dahhhling”. It’s shabby, worn down and the stairwell still retains that certain car park odour. However, it is also a location that can legitimately claim to have the best view of London. The panoramic horizon is one that has been carefully punctuated and fractured by the positioning of huge, beautiful installations such as Byobu from Laura Buckley and Fountain I by Peles Empire. From certain angles the plethora of new, contemporary work can seem to be standing alongside the Gherkin, the Shard and the Millennium Dome.

The location of the project is intrinsically connected with the artwork it includes. Speaking to the artist Mary Redmond, the industrial nature of the space is vital to the experience of her work. The piece, Seven Split Overglide, combines bamboo and plasticised organic shapes with scrap metal that appears to have been blown in from across the neighboring railroad. Redmond explains that the piece has been inspired by the Glaswegian tower blocks and Le Corbusier styled buildings she used to live near as a child. As we speak, a train rushes by and dust, grit and hot air is blown through the space forcing the scrap metal and fake flowers in her work to tremble. This wind tunnel effect, says Redmond, is akin to that created in the towerblock carparks she would walk through as a child.

Bold Tendencies opened earlier this month and welcomed over 1,000 guests to its launch party. To find anyone willing to drop the Del Boy/Rodney stereotype of Peckham can be difficult, so 1,000 people for a first night? It must be pretty damn good.

Check back for reviews of events held at Bold Tendencies this summer. For more information visit the website here

To be continued…

All images courtesy of Bold Tendencies: Byobu Laura Buckley, Fountain I Peles Empire, Seven Split Overglide Mary Redmond.

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Warhol and Haas | Dulwich Picture Gallery

Huge colourful screen prints of Muhammad Ali, Marilyn Monroe and Campbell’s Soup tins vs: four fifteen ft tall fibreglass heads made of flowers, fruit and vegetables. Connection? Both could be seen at Dulwich Picture Gallery’s latest private view last Tuesday. Both are glorious exhibits for the summer in South London. However, further links between these two artist’s work perhaps need a little more mulling over….

Grapes 1979

(left to right) Autumn and Spring 2010

However, it can be done. Both artists employ not just a rich but a dazzling colour scheme and great variety of palette, as well demonstrating distinctive experimentation of particular artistic techniques to a standard of utmost sophistication and imagination. However, even aside from this, Andy Warhol and Philip Haas seem to have found a common ethos when we examine this selection of their work placed in the same summer exhibition. As Ian Dejardin, director of the Picture Gallery confirms, both Haas and Warhol are taking something imagery and making it into something else: iconic.

In the case of Haas, the New York artist looks back to the work of 16th century Mannerist painter Guiseppe Arcimboldo‘s style, in particular his paintings of ‘The Four Seasons’ c. 1572, each of which demonstrates a head in profile made up of the plants, foliage and crop belonging to the particular season. Haas has transformed this already spectacular vision into something enlarged on a huge scale and, even more importantly, made it 3-dimensional. One could only imagine previously what it was like to walk around the collar of Summer‘s neck, or wonder what was on the other side of the snail perched on the crest of Autumn‘s head. Haas brings a new level to Arcimboldo’s weird and wonderful creations, we as a modern audience are given layers of allegorical imagery, palpable solidity; we think of Ovid, metamorphosis, Surrealism (Dali saw Arcimboldo as a ‘kindred spirit’) and now science fiction and adventure films like Lord of the Rings (Winter most definitely looks like an Ent). Italian Mannerism is brought into 2012, and in Dulwich of all places…

The same can be said of Warhol, arguably one of the most significant and influential artists of the second half of the twentieth century. He chose images of noticeable people, objects and products which worked to successfully be re-produced on a grand scale through screen printing across canvas. Beginning his career working in commercial art, Warhol had true business acumen but also incomparable instincts with colour, scale and choice of image. By transforming Art into something that could be a brand, he subverted every cliche of ‘the great artist’, and his work has succeeded in immortalising the images he has captured.

Muhammad Ali c. 1978

Summer 2010

We have for example, a cluster of prints depicting Muhammad Ali, the heavyweight champion of the sixties and seventies. Bold, strong and impressive, the boxer stares challengingly at his audience in the bottom right print, chin confidently resting on one massive fist. However, the other three show what could be depicted as a different impression of ‘The Greatest’- in two Ali looks away from the viewer, head bowed in a defeated pose, and the other shows his nipple- a weaker angle of the magnificent fighting-machine body. Warhol tells a story here, even if it is one that is subjective and manipulative: it’s captured in colour so bright and lines so strong that we believe it.

Please note as well some of Warhol’s comparatively under-appreciated still lifes, including glittery grapes (!!) where the artist made ample use of his supply of DD- ‘Diamond Dust’. They’re just so gorgeous!

More info at http://www.dulwichpicturegallery.org.uk/

Both exhibitions continue until 16th September

David Shrigley @ Hayward Gallery

‘Bell’ 2007 
The perfect thing for a sunny spring afternoon: a fantastic exhibition on London’s Southbank. Little Ghost’s Freya Gosling stops sunbathing in this week’s glorious rays long enough to catch a mid-career survey of conceptual artist David Shrigley at London’s Hayward Gallery.

Shrigley is known to have remarked of his own work that perhaps it ‘looks like it’s made by somebody whom you wouldn’t want to meet’. Although it is true that Shrigley’s exhibition seems to display what seems like amateur paintings, trivial doodles, and mish-mash wobbly sculpture, there is deeper subtleties and genuine hilarity to this Macclesfield-born artist’s work. ‘Brain Activity’ delves into a range of Shrigley’s work from the mid 1990’s up until the present day, and succeeds in providing a cross-section from the artist’s varied methods in his use of photography, drawing, painting, sculpture, film and animation.

However, although he has experimented with many different art forms, the real genius behind Shrigley’s work is it’s accessibililty. His choice of imagery and style is very basic, crude even, yet the bluntness of his small text captions and his perfect one-liners succeed in transforming the entire reaction and approach to his work, giving it subtlety, sophistication. Shrigley is playful with his art; people are laughing out loud in the exhibition space at the sight of a stuffed Jack Russell holding up a sign claiming “I’m dead” or a lengthy video, of a cartoon headless drummer jamming on a drum-kit, or a bell labelled as being for the use of the return of Jesus but the artist simultaneously probes us with ideas of death, the weird, the limits of mankind, deep cynicism towards religion. Indeed, it wouldn’t be a surprise to find there is no clapper within the ‘Jesus bell’.

‘Squirrel Without a Nut’ 2001

Perhaps it is this recurring dark humour that Shrigley means by someone you ‘wouldn’t want to meet.’ But I couldn’t disagree more, the bleak and deadpan tones of Shrigley’s art is such a crucial part of particularly British humour, making dry and ironic mole-hills out of mountainous issues is what us Brits do best…. Man in the grand scheme of cosmically significant occurrences is basically irrelevant. Deal with it.

 

 ‘New Friends’ 2006

Mixed Media @ Haunch of Venison

Mixed Media iS the latest exhibition at Haunch of Venison that explores contemporary sculpture through the works of nine different artists. Leading figures such as Richard Long, Giuseppe Penone and Jaume Plensa are presented alongside international artists and younger, emerging talent. Through the combination of works, Mixed Media highlights diversity within the practice and, beyond this, succeeds in reshaping our understanding of it.

Attempting to try and make sense of it all is not easy. Doll heads, feathers, eggshells, twisted mesh and glass beads are intertwined in a chaos of colour and that is just in the work of Rina Banerjee. For this exhibition, the entire gallery space has been flooded with materials. The vibrancy of Joana Vasconcelos’s brightly coloured crochet work, Carnaby, for example, is juxtaposed by State of Being which is dark and unnerving dystopia created by Chiharu Shiota.

Solitary sculptures by Richard Long, Giuseppe Penone and Jaume Plensa punctuate the mass of colour. Separately as individual works, and combined as a composition, they evoke peace, serenity and provide a sense of grounded security through their links with nature.

The exhibition’s non-linear format demonstrates that sculpture itself is not limited by boundaries. Indeed, the range of works provides evidence of the great scope that sculpture has. Mixed Media is an exciting exhibition that is filled with work that challenges our preconceptions of the medium and highlights all that it has to offer.

Mixed Media runs until April 5th at Haunch of Venison, London.

103 New Bond Street.