M. Lamar - Interview - “Art is not a democracy”
published in Catch Fire
M. Lamar is a New York based artist whose captivating performances have him singing on fierce piano with a gripping countertenor voice and addressing complex and at times uncomfortable themes such as slavery, the sexual aspect of lynching and their legacy. After being in various punk/goth bands and a church choir, while being classically trained, he dropped out of Yale University years ago to pursue his solo musical project and since then he has released two critically acclaimed LPs.
Speculum Orum – Shackled to the Dead is his new album and to promote it he recently played a show in Berlin. I caught up with M. Lamar at Südblock during the first leg of his tour to discuss the state of America today, black dicks, white supremacy and how he sees art.
Cristina Guitian - Victoria Revealed
Artist Cristina Guitian styles a series of cabinets for the permanent exhibition Victoria Revealed at Kensington Palace
London-based artist Cristina Guitian is a sculptor and installation artist best known for her hybrid use of taxidermy and locally found materials. For this exhibition at Kensington Palace, which reopened last week, she used paper constructions and porcelain figurines to style five cabinets celebrating the key moments of Queen Victoria’s life.
MARCO KAUFMANN - NEW PAINTINGS
@ International Picture House
April 5th 2012
by Will Furtado
In this show German painter Marco Kaufmann exhibits a series of new paintings that mark a new stage in his career. Having moved from Berlin to London and familiarised himself with the capital’s grandeur, the Artist experienced with a foreign sense of belonging that saw his work develop into expansive conceptual creations.
Jarek Piotrowski: Soft Machine
Jarek Piotrowski: Soft Machine
20 January - 11 March 2012
Text by Will Furtado
Images by Galerie8 and Will Furtado
As the title suggests, this exhibition is inspired by William Burroughs’ 1962 seminal novel The Soft Machine. Jarek Piotrowski’s first UK solo exhibition takes on the book and explores the themes of the human body under siege, repetitive rituals and the technique of the cut-up.
The novel is about a secret agent who’s able to metamorphose himself, builds a time machine and interferes with Mayan priests by changing the message they transmit to their slaves, causing the downfall of the regime. It has influenced avant-garde popular culture since the 1960s, serving now as the conceptual starting point for the show of the Polish/Canadian artist who, in the style of Burroughs, uses a cut-up technique for his large-scale PVC matting installations.
The exhibition, which is the outcome of a year’s worth of work, is made up of cut-outs, paintings and even included a live performance at the opening. The latter was a collaboration between the artist, Japanese contemporary sound-designer Ayumi Sawa, and German experimental musician Lars Korb, who together created a musical and visual show, playing with handmade tribal and electronic instruments.
In the entrance hall of the gallery three abstract paintings of forests are mounted on the walls but I’m instantly attracted to the works that hang from the ceiling in the main hall. They are the cut-outs of vinyl flooring, meticulously – and repetitively – carved in large-scale mats. From afar the patterns on the poriferous PVC sheets reveal scenes that appear to relate to contemporary culture, medicine, religion and science. From up close it’s clear how intricate the cut-outs are. Executed by hand and spreading across the gallery they create a dramatic spectacle of shadows, juxtapositions and visual motifs.
Piotrowski was curt in his attempt to create connections between the novel and the show. The only direct link is the cut-up technique and the visual effect created by layering the different sheets, either close together or far apart. The latter display resembles a three-dimensional kaleidoscope when peered at from certain spots in the gallery. Burroughs’ novel is rather sexual and explicit – and while some readers may cringe at the repetition of expressions such as “rectal mucous” or open their eyes to social critique, this isn’t the case with this show. Piotrowski doesn’t explore the novel’s stark and crude themes: instead of recreating scenes from the book here, he presents more generic narratives in the work: a jumble of death, body parts, medical equipment, and religious symbols which at times (just like Burroughs’ writing) defies meaning.
Nonetheless, the usage of this material is curious, making a point of stealing materials from mass-production industries and subjecting them to the manual processes that replace their utility with narratives. It’s also difficult to remain indifferent to the sheer amount of labour and detail put into these works. Once again I find myself staring at all the holes and its shapes, peeping through, somehow trying to create meaningful analogies. Fundamentally, however, what I take with me is the concept of creating by subtracting and repeating the same detail over and over again to achieve visual pleasure.
Brian Griffiths - The Invisible Show
Brian Griffiths - The Invisible Show
Vilma Gold, London
11 January 2012 - 19 February 2012
By Will Furtado for Under/Current
For his latest installation, Brian Griffiths moves away from creating
monumental pop works with immediate visual impact, veering towards
more conceptual territory that is intertwined with narrative. The
monochromatic piece in this show spreads across the whole gallery. Its
only theme being invisibility; not only in the strict sense: to
attempt to create a visual illusion - but also to explore the limits
of the what invisibility is considered to be and how preposterous can
one’s approach be.
The Invisible Show draws parallels with H. G. Wells’ The Invisible
Man. In this story its main character attempts to hide from others by
covering himself with excessive bandage, naturally resulting in
becoming even more noticeable. Griffiths’ piece sort of works the same
way. These 5 cubic structures (around 78 x 98 x 96 in) are covered
with layers of used beige tarp. The works blend in with the walls but
never really cease to steal your space, creating an oppressive
environment for its ubiquitousness and resemblance to a Médecins Sans
Frontières camp. Similar to an undeniable truth, these objects ask
quietly to be questioned, but once you do you can’t really get any
Just like the artist wanted this is indeed an absurd feat of
invisibility but the viewer will struggle to make much sense of it or
even be impressed or puzzled or overly intrigued. Perhaps I was
expecting a mind-boggling stunt and to get my eyes tricked, hence me
feeling so underwhelmed by The Invisible Show. But nevertheless,
despite the title suggesting otherwise, I was aware I was not promised
fantasy but an unreasonable take on invisibility. And as Camus once
said “The absurd is the essential concept and the first truth”.
Image courtesy Vilma Gold, London
Once upon a time Exhibition - Marco Kaufmann
Once upon a time’ is an exhibition of work by a selection of up and coming artists on the theme of childhood. Below Marco Kaufmann’s statement. Text by Will Furtado
For two years Marco Kaufmann has been exploring the subject of boundaries with incessant fascination, which lead him to develop the project “Anrandungen” (literally: along borders of…). It comprises of photographic and painting works and it explores the purpose of a boundary: how it both structures the shapeless and defines a restriction, in a picture as well as in life. In this instance it is about basic questions of containment and boundlessness, about integration and exclusion.
His photography and painting are in a constant interplay, culminating in a lively rivalry which sees the transfer of the photographic picture drafts into his paintings. The photography is inspired by Japanese photographers such as Daido Moriyama and Zen-inspired Soji Ueda. Traces of the Zen tradition can also be found in his work which shows the paintings leaning against the photographs and vice versa.
This sense of interplay often remains indiscriminately on the painting, mutating it: bright becomes dark, the colours travel from one corner to the other, obtuse turns into acute, until it becomes - “The Struggle to”. The latter representing a frail childhood memory that is slowly eaten up by current events, and can only connect to the present via its brightest references; leaving a pending yearning for what we once had.
In his newer works Marco Kaufmann developed a deeper interest towards the limits of the picture. Furthermore, it is a direct analysis of the four sides of the picture and it questions the actuality of this two-dimensionality. In previous exhibitions different-sized paintings hang on the wall, irregularly distanced. Such display accentuates the issue of the empty space as a medium of interaction in between pictures. An interaction of forms, colours and dimensions. On Show at Radcliffe & Newlands, 14 Bonhill Street, London,
Cristina Guitian’s installation piece ‘Bed1’ is another astute offering. It presents an eerie world behind a veil of hazy memories transporting the viewer back to subdued broken dreams and interrupted life events.
Part installation, part sculpture, this enigmatic construction reflects Cristina’s current experimentation with the hybrid: the transformation of disparate and obsolete found objects into reborn creatures with a new purpose. The dismembered dolls lie around the bed and hang from the ceiling, but at the same time their once defunct parts are given a new life and form when merged with elements from a different context.
This rebirth also extends beyond this ‘room’, suggesting that life transcends itself when given a chance to be reinterpreted, eventually being revived by one’s thought and creative desire.
Text by: Will Furtado
Whitechapel Gallery, London
October 14th 2011 - January 1st 2012
Wilhelm Sasnal’s exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery is a vibrant and varied collection of works chronicling the last 10 years of his career, including some never seen before. Born in Poland in 1972, Sasnal is one of the most notable artists to come out of Eastern Europe in the last decade. His identity plays a special part in his approach to the subject matter in his paintings which often show the artist coming to terms with his country’s history or the new found capitalist culture, exploiting its symbols and removing meaning in rather detached manner. But that is just one of his offerings; Sasnal also creates indiscriminate Warholian pop art with celebrity references, affectless abstracts, deconstructs media images and reinterprets historic painting.
Split across 3 galleries, the exhibition showcases both paintings and films that are heavily influenced but not corrupted by media and popular culture. Bringing together his latest paintings, the ground-floor gallery displays a series of paintings covering abstract and realism, including the repainting of Seurat’s 1884 Bathers at Asnieres. Here he pays tribute to the French painter and adds his personal (and eastern European) touch by removing the factories and replacing them with visual tranquilness, acting as his trademark of phlegm. His artistic influences are clear: Gerhard Richter for his realism and Luc Tuymans for his themes and portraits. We could also make a connection between Sasnal and the third New Leipzig School for his conjunction and oscillation between abstract and figurative in a post-iron curtain world of political and industrial alienation. The vivid figurative paintings of photographs are works drenched with light emanating from the background, shading its subjects, which also contrasts with the melancholy of the themes: people standing by lakes, faceless people, a cat standing on a record player, an Iranian power station. Sasnal is minimal with his palette and also with his interpretation. Many paintings only have shades of two colours and he takes on religion by simply painting an upside down church. But what’s really curious are the eruptions of colour ascending and descending from the objects he paints.
In the first upper gallery are on display works exploring more personal subject matters, which by no means make his work less emotionally detached: inspired by cartoonist Art Spiegelman’s narration of the Holocaust in ‘Maus’, are the comic-style paintings, which gave Sasnal prominence in the 90s. Devoid of any captions, historical references and emotion, these paintings ask us how much sense can we make of it once its stripped down to its bare bones; or perhaps just show the general feeling towards this topic in Eastern Europe. In the last gallery dedicated to the artist the viewer finds Sasnal’s take on pop culture of his time mixed with work related to his native country’s traditions, ghosts and post-communist architecture, mixed with representations of the banal. No Peaches portrait, a smudged Roy Orbison instead; a distant John Paul II; the outline of Chicago airport seen from above; a film of a couple kissing against the sunshine; Suicide as soundtrack; athletes’ heads; and deconstructed shocking murder photographs, when the artist creates minimal abstract paintings out of gruesome photos. Meaning aside, what’s striking about Sasnal’s work is his beautiful simplicity and his ability to give painting new relevance over photography.