Thursday, May 29, 2014

Legendary brand Fabriano celebrates the 750th anniversary of its paper

Since 1264, Italian brand Fabriano has been synonymous with luxury quality paper, notepads, cards and address books. The company is the reference throughout the world for publishers, writers, musicians and artists. Among them Michelangelo, Giambattista Bodoni and Beethoven all known to have used the paper to compose their best work. They are now the subject of a new line of products designed to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the brand's famous Fabriano paper. A Drawing Folder, a Lettering Album, a Music Book and an exclusive Visitor Book have been specifically designed for this anniversary. 

The 750th Anniversary Collection is available in the UK at the Fabriano Boutique flagship store at 21 Neal Street in London's Covent Garden, and online at

"from "Rags, Rabbit Skins and Invisible Watermarks. 750 years of papermaking
in Fabriano” edited by Chiara Medioli, Corraini Editore, 2013"

Os Gemêos Design Brazil Soccer Team’s World Cup Jet

Such a good PR campaign for the team and the country! The Brazilian artists Os Gemêos, have designed the Brazilian national football team’s plane for the upcoming World Cup. Renowned for their street art style, the twin artists have transformed the jet's exterior and spray-painted colorful figures nearly everywhere on the plane for a cool and typically Brazilian effect. 

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

The first LVMH Prize goes to...

Congratulations to Thomas Tait on winning the first LVMH Prize!

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

The Saint Louis Art Museum presents an exhibition devoted to Mark Rothko

Mark Rothko, American (born Russia), 1903–1970; Untitled, 1948; oil on canvas; 60 1/8 x 49 7/8 inches; Fondation Beyeler, Switzerland © 1998 Kate Rothko Prizel & Christopher Rothko / Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York

The Saint Louis Art Museum presents an exhibition that celebrates the prolific career of the Russian-born painter Mark Rothko, a figure of the American Abstract Expressionist movement. The exhibition, titled Tragic and Timeless: The Art of Mark Rothko, brings together eight paintings and works on paper from the Saint Louis Art Museum and the Switzerland’s Beyeler Foundation. The show is curated by Simon Kelly is on view until 14 September 2014.

Seurat's art is celebrated at the Kröller-Müller Museum

Manifesta is staged in Russia

Europe's 'vagabonding biennial' (staged in Belgium, Spain and Italy in past years) is hosted by the Sate Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg this year. The exhibition will activate the city's entire Winter Palace and General Staff Building complex. 

Marking the 250th anniversary of the Hermitage, and the twentieth anniversary of Manifesta, German curator Kasper König's vision favours an exhibition in which contemporary art by artists such as Francis Alÿs, Karla Black or Pavel Pepperstein, dialogue with the museum's collection responding profoundly to their context. It promises to be controversial and opens on 27th June. 

Friday, May 23, 2014

Pace London presents Everything falls faster than an anvil

All images courtesy Pace London

Curated by CHEWDAY’S, the exhibition, presented at Pace London, 6-10 Lexington Street, features work from emerging artists such as Catharine Ahearn, Alistair Frost, among many other great talents, in dialogue with established contemporary art figures such as Philip Guston and John Wesley, as well as Pace artists Yoshitomo Nara, Claes Oldenburg and one of my favourite artists Paul Thek.

Taken from O’Donnells Laws of Cartoon Motion , the exhibition title describes how, in 'cartoon physics', a falling anvil will always land directly upon a character's head, regardless of the time gap between the body and the anvil's respective drop. Utilizing this suspension of natural law, that the cartoon medium allows, as well as comic tropes of parody, juxtaposition, enlargement of scale, inversion of physical properties and/or the appropriation of cartoon aesthetics/symbolism, these artists operate under the veneer of popular culture to explore private meanings, the unconscious and darker social issues - as well as reflecting, with wit, on the nature of their chosen medium.

Carl Ostendarp's  wall-to-ceiling drip murals provide an interesting context for the exhibition. Don't miss it! 

Friday, May 16, 2014

Exclusive interview with painter Sandro Kopp

photo by Ruedi Glatz

Ahead of the opening of his exhibition at Galerie Antoine Laurentin in Paris, painter Sandro Kopp talked to me about his technique, inspiration and icons.

Presence is a central theme in Sandro’s œuvre and as his frequent model, tattoo-artist Carolin Ackermann, highlights in the catalogue-text for the upcoming show “Sandro’s investigation of the portrait is relevant to our time, as he seeks to understand the experience of the present and of presence, the metaphysical question of what is.”  His paintings definitely reflect “l’air du temps” as they merge traditional painting with an innovative approach to visual language: sitters are portrayed via Skype video chat.

Sandro’s intelligence, grace and humility pervaded when talking to him, and our discussion, on a very grey Saturday afternoon in London, was very inspiring.

Where are you now and where’s your studio?
I am in the Highlands, in Scotland. 

Do you sometimes paint somewhere outside Scotland?
I started the “Caro and Cy” series in Prague. If I stay in one place for more than a week, yes, I take my materials with me.  And then I leave a trail of paintings around the world. Often canvases don’t dry on time so I am forced leave them wherever I paint them… (laughs).

How did the Paris exhibition come about?
Antoine Laurentin liked my paintings and offered a show.  We were introduced by our mutual friend, the sculptor John Martini.  The gallery space is lovely. It’s on the Quai Voltaire across the Pont Neuf opposite the Louvre.

Tell me about your paintings, do you start with a sketch?
The paintings are usually done via Skype conversations in a single sitting over the course of three or four hours.  The “Modification” series is the heart-piece of this exhibition. It consists of twelve pictures of my two friends Caro and Cy and was made over the course of about 18 months. They are an extraordinary couple who work and tattoo together and are often completely nomadic. I’ve known Carolin for a long time, since she was a teenager. She was doing a social theory degree in Barcelona writing about body modification. Over the course of her studies, she would alter the colour and cut of her hair every month or so and I would then do another painting of them both via Skype. She started with long, natural-colour hair and ended clean shaven by way of every colour of the rainbow and lots of interesting cuts. Cy, on the right in the paintings, stays the same externally, but my interpretations, my “subjective filter” unwittingly makes them both something new with every new painting: each painting becomes an analogue to the reality of what the sitters looked like objectively, hence a hybrid of my perception and their appearance.

copyright Sandro Kopp

Are you inspired by your models and do you paint more male or females?
I always have long conversations with my sitters, and in a way the paintings are the “by-products” of these conversations. I only paint people I know; they are friends of mine most of the time. It’s rare to paint someone I don´t know. It doesn’t matter whether they are male or female - as long as they are people I find inspiring.
Having said that, I think for the recent portrait shows there was dominance of male models and in my upcoming exhibition in Paris, there are a lot of really strong women for some reason (portraits of Saskia de Brauw, Casey Legler, Peaches Nisker, and Natasha Khan are, for example, featured in the exhibition).

Have you had any complaints from models?
No, not really, though I am sometimes not happy with the painting myself (laughs).  

Would you ever use photographs of the models instead of live Skype conversations?
I very deliberately don’t paint from photographs of people. Skype presents a whole field of interesting experiences which are important to what I’m doing. The pixelation and distortion sometimes become part of the painting. Depending on the connection, it can be difficult to see a lot of details and that provides a sort of visual shorthand that allows me to work very quickly and directly. I am not saying I will never use photographs, but I concentrate a lot more on the moment when I paint my sitters virtually, knowing that they will no longer be available after the sitting is done. The precariousness of the present moment is a very focusing thing that makes me operate more instinctively.

Would you experiment another medium?
I have used video components in the past for a show at Lehmann Maupin a couple of years ago.  I had monitors showing raw footage recorded during the Skype painting sessions and an edited clip projected on the wall, surrounded by the finished resulting paintings. But - at the end of the day - painting is what I am most interested in. Here is an excerpt: 

Sandro shows me some of the large portrait drawings he’s working on and brings my attention to the toys located behind him on shelves.

What are they for?
These cuddly toys are being used for my transitional objects series “Fiercely Loved” which I exhibited last autumn in London. Friends lend me their precious old cuddly toys and I painted them as placeholders, like an ambassador of the person’s presence. The idea was a direct continuation of the Skype project: looking at the mediation of a person’s presence. In the Skype series this mediation takes place through the likeness of the person presented via video chats. For “Fiercely Loved”, people’s presence is mediated through an object that they have kept so close and often anthropomorphised so much that they have “imprinted” a "gleanable" element of their presence on it.

Who do you admire the most?
There are a lot of people who I really get huge kick-out off: Chuck Close, Alice Neel, Taryn Simon… David Hockney is a great painter and, perhaps, an even greater thinker. I think he’s a real master. Lucian Freud is obviously a huge inspiration. Isaac Julien’s piece “Playtime” was amazing. Celia Hempton is a painter I recently discovered and find very interesting; her recent series was mainly colourful images of people’s genitals. She is young and just had a
show in Rome. I admire the energy in the work.

Do you think painting is still a current medium or a little bit passé?
I think that the whole notion of painting being passé - that other media have supremacy - has been disproved of since the early 90s. Nowadays anyone can do anything. If it happens to take the form of painting, then that’s fine, if it’s a cube filled with steam for instance, then that’s fine as well. You need your own personal touch. It’s apparent that nowadays, the actual form that you take is secondary.
Another artist I love is Peter Doig, he’s a real example of someone who goes his own way through paint. I saw the big show in Edinburgh, and thought it was completely fresh. Every piece was different from the one next to it and created a universe of it’s own, yet at the same time each was completely cohesive with his sensibility.

Are there any people you’d like to paint?
I used to have lists of people I wanted to paint, but not any more. I got to paint Marilyn Manson for instance. He was on my “bucket list”. He did a painting of me, and I did a painting of him. In recent years however, the “who” has become less of a focus for me, the resulting painting is much more important for me now than who it is of.

I used to be fan of Marilyn Manson but then lost track after Mechanical Animals.
Do you still listen to his music?
Born Villain is a very fun album. Manson is a great guy and I like a lot of his art. I like his “joie de vivre”. He’s a very playful person. He’s known for music but is also doing painting, writing, acting, directing etc. He is a good example of someone who goes into different territories creatively. That’s what you have to do: make things that feel relevant to you. I remember a lovely quote from Patti Smith giving advice to the young, who said “A writer or any artist can’t expect to be embraced by the people. I’ve done records where it seemed that no one listened to them and then you write poetry books that maybe fifty people read,  and you just keep doing your work, because you have to, because it’s your calling…”

I think it’s dangerous to interpret your work too much. It will find resonance in someone else who will appreciate it, like with you, the fact that you were gracious enough to invite me to talk. It means that I've done something which in some ways is relevant to your sensibility and it’s nice to share that.

You know I lived in Arles and I am very inspired by Van Gogh. There’s a new installation in London at 87 Hackford Road in Brixton, a house he lived in for a year, invested by the contemporary artist Olde Wolbers. It’s organised by Artangel, have you seen it?
A propos this, I am currently reading The Yellow House, by Martin Gayford. The book explores the relationship between Van Gogh and Gauguin in the few weeks before their big row. I was struck by how destitute and struggling he was and yet so productive. I admire his balls, his ego and the conviction he had in the relevance of his work.

Do you prefer Van Gogh or Gauguin?
Definitely Van Gogh.

What are your future projects?
 I've got a number of these repetitive bodies of works coming along or completed: the nudes and a self-portrait series. I painted myself every day for twenty-eight days, and hung them as a block. I did one five years ago and just did another one now. I am really happy with it. I also am working on more paintings of the “Fiercely Loved” transitional objects.
After Paris, I am working on another show in Istanbul with Istanbul’74 in the autumn… 

Thanks Sandro!

Analogue opens on Friday 16th May and runs until 14th June 2014 at Galerie Antoine Laurentin, 23 quai Voltaire - 75007 Paris.

Monday, May 12, 2014

Seu Jorge and me!

I recently had the chance to meet with Seu Jorge at the Amfar gala in Sao Paulo! He's the best! 

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Henri Matisse:The Cut-Outs at Tate Modern

The Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam presents Félix Vallotton and lends the sunflower painting to London

The Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam is very generous!

The two versions of the sunflowers by Vincent Van Gogh were reunited for the first time since 1947 at the National Gallery in London when they were brought together for a Van Gogh exhibition at what is now Tate Britain. The second painting was lent by the Van Gogh museum in Amsterdam. The display closed last Sunday and it was a truly exceptional show. 

I had the opportunity to visit the Van Gogh Museum in Amsterdam and the Félix Vallotton's exhibition was very interesting. Fire beneath the ice features paintings and prints by the French painter. Around 60 paintings from various international museums, such as the Musée d’Orsay in Paris, the Kunsthaus Zürich, The Baltimore Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago and various private collections, combined with 40 prints from the Van Gogh Museum’s collection provide an overview of Vallotton’s oeuvre. 

The Red peppers is particulary striking and was by far my favourite piece in the show. The exhibition runs until 1st June. Here's a great video on the history of this work.

I look forward to experiencing a sound and visual installation by the contemporary artist Olde Wolbers, set up in the Van Gogh's former studio at 87 Hackford Road in Stockwell. Van Gogh spent a year as a lodger from 1873 to 1874.

Thanks to the Van Gogh museum. It's an amazing place and a must-see if you are in Amsterdam! 

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