The upcoming exhibition of Australian photographer Marian Drew explores the paradox between still life, natural forms and playfulness. Continue reading WE Curate: Fresh
Primavera, an annual exhibition for young Australian artists aged 35 years or under. In memory of their daughter and sister Belinda, a talented jeweller who died at her 29, Dr. Edward Jackson AM and Mrs Cynthia Jackson AM initiated the exhibition in 1992. Primavera on one hand commemorates Belinda Jackson and on the other hand celebrates the creative achievements of talented young artists who are in the early stages of their careers. The Museum of Contemporary Art Australia (MCA) unveils visionary pieces by the eight selected artists for the 22nd edition of Primavera during 12 September–17 November 2013 this year.
Curated by Robert Cook, the Curator of Modern and Contemporary Photography and Design at the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the exhibition proudly features works by eight different young artists. Each of them has distinctive styles which will definitely make a wow-combination together. ‘To work with some of the most inspiring artists in the country, each on the cusp of becoming majorly recognised, is a dream. The sheer intensity of their material and conceptual practices takes my breath away. As a curator, it’s been a thrill ride. I reckon MCA visitors will be as impressed as me by the ambition and scale of the works,’ said Robert.
Of course, Primavera won’t be that successful if it has just one uniform theme. Instead, there are several themes including a moving investigation of romantic and family relationships, the creation of portals into fictional realms, a look at the role of language in the shaping of (and the breaking down of) the self and the ways sound shapes our physical and emotional worlds. All these are keen elements elements of life and attract you to have a glimpse of the young secret in the exhibition. These ideas are presented across multiple media like painting, wall painting, sculpture, photography, installation, ceramics, digital media, sound and performance. Afraid of getting bored? – No way.
Central to Primavera 2013, just at the North Gallery at Level 1 of the MCA, there is a series of direct responses to the exhibition space – Thomas Jeppe’s Vista Verticals (2013).
It is a series of paintings that replicate the dimensions of the Level 2 lookout above the gallery’s entrance. Tudor Minimal (2013), his enormous wall installation transforms one of the walls into a 17-metre architectural front. Not only about the wall, right in the corner of the gallery, a domestic interior painting by Jess Johnson frames detailed pen drawings. A geometric carpet finishes off the work, converting it into a high-key cavity to another world. More to look into… Juz Kitson transforms another corner into a huge ceramic installation. Her exquisite porcelain pieces are so impressive, gathering mutant life forms which emerge from the wall and the ceiling of the gallery.
The eight photographs engaged with the floor and the wall of the gallery by Jacqueline Ball are tunnels connecting different realities.
A series of video works by Kusum Normoyle captures the artist screaming in public spaces.
In addition to these ‘purpose built’ gallery interventions are a further three equally arresting bodies of work: Brendan Huntley stages a face-off between 15 quirky sculptural heads presented on tables and 15 head paintings hung on the wall.
Jackson Eaton’s Better Half (2007–13) is a romantic series of photos documenting the relationship the artist and a young Korean woman.
Heath Franco presents three video works, TELEVISIONS (2013), YOUR DOOR (2011) and DREAM HOME (2012). Each one features a performance by Franco in a variety of costumes and backed by an array of bizarre special effects.
It’s time to refresh your mind with all these impressive artworks by the eight selected young artists!
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What does it mean to be in your twenties? A perplexing question with no real straight-forward answer. A group of six artists explore this very question at the TwentyBliss exhibition at the HAJI Gallery this July. The show opens on July 19 and will be up till the end of the month. All the artists are in their early twenties. Through the show, they seek to express what they are finding this chaotic and not-quite-describable decade to be. Continue reading WE Curate: TwentyBliss, a mixed media group show
Work in Progress is an international street art exhibition featuring seven international and seven local artists. A vacant office space in Quarry Bay together with the building’s exterior and loading car park has been transformed with street art. It is the largest international street art exhibition in Hong Kong to date. Works include brilliant murals, sculptures and mixed media installations, and they will be revealed over the 2-month period at TaiKoo Place.
The exhibition is organised in collaboration with Above Second Gallery, Hong Kong Youth Arts Foundation (HKYAF), Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) and Swire Properties. There will also be workshops and classes for students, teachers, art and design professionals as well as the community at large to learn more about street art.
Work in Progress comes as a refreshing change to Hong Kong’s art scene, which one could rightfully argue to be starved of street-art. Our city is definitely on its way to becoming an international art hub, but there is so little of it to be seen outside the gallery nesting along Hollywood Road.
On my way to see the artwork, I couldn’t help but notice the strangeness of the venue. I walked through TaiKoo Place, surrounded by the sound of high heels clanking on the polished marble floor and the sight of smartly dressed office workers – somehow not the environment in which to be expecting street art. I couldn’t help but think, or rather, obsess about whether the choice of location was accidental or intentional for there is so much to be said about the juxtaposition of street art, a form of expression that portrays freedom, and offices, a confined space that may convey restriction.
The artworks itself were very impressive. Street art is captivating for its incredible detail and for its rawness. Galleries and museums are often restricting – the artwork is treated like it is fragile and viewers are made to tiptoe around masterpieces protected in glass boxes. Street art, on the other hand, has the charm of closeness; one can admire the details up close and then walk away to digest the whole picture.
Having a diverse range of international and local artists collaborate for this exhibition brought about an element of realism to the show. At every turn, one sees something drastically different, new and unexpected, which helped strengthen the ambience of street art. Besides the space, the artworks don’t share much in common in terms of underlying theme or technique.
I did wonder, is it street art if it is not technically on the street? It’s a seasoned topic of debate, but perhaps not worth arguing over too much in this case. To be fair, the exhibition begins on the car park level so it is street art in its true essence. In any case, I concluded it doesn’t matter whether the murals are indoors or outdoors. What matters most is that this exhibition marks a big step towards broadening the local art scene.
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When did you first begin creating works of art?
As a child, I felt that I needed a world of my own, to transport me out of the real world and out of the banality of everyday existence. I was a very shy and introverted child and I felt that I had to find a way to express myself in an other way than speech.
My first aspiration was to compose music and play guitar but I have absolutely no talent for it. So I started to spend a lot of time drawing and making handmade collages, placing all my feelings into these works.
I was also always very interested by fashion and photography. So, when I arrived in Paris at the age of 23, I started trying doing portraits and fashion photography but I soon realized it wasn’t my true passion. Professional photography was not a medium that suited me. The photograph is too dependent on too many people and I couldn’t express the visions in my head. It was frustrating. So I decided to put my efforts into what I did since I was teenager; using photographs with handcrafted elements like handwriting, paintings and drawings.
Now I know it was the right choice because I can express myself much better through my illustrations and drawings than in any other way. Illustration allows me to create new meaning and translate photographs into my own personal expression.
So after studying basic techniques in a graphic school and working intensively during a year on my own in self-taught, I’ve submitted my portfolio to magazines and advertising agencies and I started to get my first contracts in 2006. I also met a representative agent (Marie et Nous) who helped me to express my work better.
Did you study art anywhere?
I studied visual arts in a graphic school in Paris. I needed the aid of computer technology to create the digital collages I had in mind. So it was a must to gather the techniques that I did. But I quickly stopped attending the school after a few months, because I was afraid that learning too much could hinder my creativity, make me less spontaneous, and I’d never want to lose that. It’s very important for me to keep something really immediate and intuitive in my work. So I spent a lot of time working for myself, in a very personal way, searching my own techniques, using software’s in my own way. Photoshop and I having a very special relationship, we’re very close and very human. We’ve gotten to know each other well over time.
What medium do you prefer using?
My favorite medium is paper. I love the textures, the smell of ink. This is why I hope print magazines don’t disappear. I like to touch of them, to cut them, to tear them. I also love create visuals for clothing. One of my dreams would be to develop my own independent t-shirt brand.
Has your style evolved since then?
My style has evolved over the years but I think the basis, built during my childhood and my teenage years, remains the same. This entire imaginary world that I built myself, through dreams, they’ve stood for so long that they have become indestructible, unchangeable.
But my style has had to evolve with the world that changes around me, my inspirations changes, everything is moving, and my work is the reflection of who I am, of what I feel. I am constantly searching to explore different ways and techniques. Each commercial project pushes me in new directions and allows me to work on very diverse pieces.
What does your process of creating involve?
My process of creating depends on the project but I have always an image in my head first (it can be based on the brief when it’s commercial work), then I work until I have the global composition. I begin to refine the elements and colors. Then I collect everything I am able to find, and create the traditional handmade elements that I need. I work using Photoshop, transferring the images onto there to build my illustration adding elements, touch by touch, following my imaginative flow. I can spend a large amount of time to find the correct balance of elements or colour. I tried different angle. I add details and tone to the drawing until I feel that the image is completely balanced for my taste.
People and the human body seem to reoccur in your work, what do they represent?
Yes. People are essential in my work. When my work is based on photography I let the face dictate what happens. Faces, eyes and bodies obsess me.
People are the symbols of life. In my work they can appear fragile and vulnerable but I always try to show the force, which emerges from them. I just want to show people in their most vulnerable, powerful and magical state, to convey emotion. I love playing with their beauty.
Your work has a style that is reminiscent of Jean Michel Basquiat, has he influenced you in any way?
Oh. I love the work of Jean Michel Basquiat and yes, he is one of the artists who molded my perception of art. He probably influenced me a little, by his raw powerful style and his huge energy. This is what I try to transmit: a raw energy.
I love to use textured background and I often use multi-layered images with a lot of little details (including text, images, spontaneous drawings, symbols,) to build my illustrations.
But otherwise, I think what I express through my work is very different. My work is much less political, much more based on fashion. I havent lived in New York during the 70s /80s . I think thats a big difference.
My others influences are mostly expressionist paintings, and I love artists like Egon Schiele, my favorite painter. But I always leave the door open for new influences, usually they come from pop culture and stretch as far as classical art, to allow my self to be enriched. I like to spent my free time in bookstores learning more about painters and artists I’ve heard about. I read also a lot of arts, music and fashion magazines and I think, subconsciously, my works are filled with lots of very different influences.
Has your journey in life deeply influenced your creations?
My entire life has deeply influenced my creations. My work can’t be dissociated from my life. My artworks are the reflections of my mood. I find inspiration everywhere. So everything that is happening around me and in the world influences my creation. But what influences me most is the music I listen, they transports me into different worlds and emotions.
The colour palette you use is vast and flat, what does colour mean to you?
I think colors are the mirror of our moods. So I use different colors depending on my state of mind. I don’t’ forbid any color but I often have phases: pink, yellow, bright colors, or vintage shades, The use of colors just depends on how I feel and where I need to go. For the background, I use a lot either black or white or brown colors.
What does the colour black specifically mean to you and your works?
Black is essential for me. It’s in the dark that light is the most magicalFor me the dark is not scary, it’s even reassuring. Black color represents the night and then the fantasy, the dreams, the desires. A suspended time where anything is possible, where all is stronger, more intimate, more authentic. Night doesn’t lie. I like to wander the night to discover mysterious forms.
I have a stronger feel for black and white images. I like to play with shadows and contrasts to show the dark side and a lighter side of the world, the tragedy, the beauty, the violence and the magic of people.
Published in Issue 37 – Black
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Fay Ku: Hootenanny
Exhibition at Karin Weber Gallery
13 March – 07 April, 2013