Resurrection by Igor Prokop. Mixed media on canvas. Courtesy the artist.
Venice Biennale is without a doubt the most important event in the arts calendar. Every two years the good and the fine descend to La Serenissima early May for an...
Due to the overwhelming interest in Italian art from the 50s to the 80s, we are rediscovering less-known artists from such Golden Era that played a pivotal role in the cultural scene. Mazzoleni Gallery introduced us to Bonalumi's sculptural works. A game player that blurred the boundaries between sculpture and painting. Christie's held, and will hold again this year on the 16th of October, the very successful Italian Sale during Frieze Week with record sales of over £27 million that included Alighiero Boetti, Piero Manzoni, Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana. Marco Lusini (Siena 1936-Florence 1989) , an influential artist and a poet, has just enjoyed a well-deserved retrospective titled: The Colours of the Human Soul at the Fiumano Fine Art Gallery in central London, curated by filmmaker Laura D'Asta in collaboration with New York based art historian Gerhard Gruitrooy.
Marco Lusini as photographer on location - Florence 1960s. Private collection. Courtesy the Estate of Marco Lusini.
The Siena-born Lusini experimented through photography, lithography, illustration, drawing, sculpture and poetry, until settling in painting as his main medium. His more frequent themes were the human figure and emotions, landscapes and the Earth as a living organism. A visionary theory which claims that a planet regulates itself for the benefit of the whole through every creature being inter-connected. Lusini constantly portrayed these thoughts in his works while James Lovelock famously named it as the Gaia hypothesis in 1970. Over the years, it has gained wider acceptance in the scientific community, although still highly debatable.
Riccardo Belloni, a respected art critic based in the Emilia-Romagna region, described him as:
an astronaut of inner spaceAlways the human figure as the starting point and with a varied influences such as the German playwright Bertold Brecht, French poet Arthur Rimbaud, and the Sicilian countryside, Lusini embarked himself on a journey immersing genderless bodies into a primitive landscape at some point making impossible to differentiate which one is what and blending them into one entity. A thought-provoking statement with a deep philosophical message.
Untitled from Lovers series,1972. Private Collection. Courtesy the Estate of Marco Lusini.
Laura D'Asta, the curator, has kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
I am an Italian independent filmmaker, art director and creative producer as well as a TorinoFilmLab alumna working across award-winning UK and international independent productions from shorts and promos, through to features and cross-media, including dance. I am the curator of Marco Lusini: The Colours of the Human Soul, the first retrospective about the Italian artist Marco Lusini which is part of an international interdisciplinary project I'm developing about the artist.
You travelled through Siena, Florence and Sicily, researched across the EU and the USA, tracking down artists, friends and collectors who still remembered Lusini. What encouraged you to start such a journey? Can you tell us an example of a comment given by one of his colleagues that touched you deeply?
Lusini dedicated his life to art. As a friend and artist, I felt the urge to let him and his art speak and shine again, spread his message and be able, at the same time, to reunite his close friends, collaborators and collectors. He is a man and an artist who has inspired me, as an artistic father, through all my life and who is still part of my artistic and professional career. Lusini's style has been defined as 'moral realism' (Elvio Natali), a sincere, heartfelt commitment to the human condition today, a desire to be involved in the story of one's own time. Each moment spent with Marco's close friends, colleagues and collectors touches me deeply like their eyes, silences and smiles. My dad remembered when Marco was once at our place in Sicily prepping an exhibition and he passed onto me (I was still few years old) his paint brushes and colours, the colours of the soul. This is something that touches me deeply both personally and professionally.
Did you personally meet him? How was he like?
Yes, I did. I knew him very well as there was a very strong, deep connection with my parents to the point that he was like a member of my family. He treated me like his own daughter. So Marco used to visit my family often and also took inspiration for his work from the Sicilian landscape and its archaeological sites above all the necropolis of Pantalica in southeast Sicily with its prehistoric, rock-cut chamber tombs. He was a very humble, generous man with many cultural interests, strong knowledge of and passion for Italian and international fine art.
Where does the title The Colours of the Human Soul come from?
The title comes from the exploratory journey through Lusini's world of vivid, animated colours which recall the inner life of the human soul, allowing the visitor to confront the artist's recurrent themes of loneliness, freedom, a/sexuality, melancholy, desire, faith, intimacy and man's relationship with the environment. Marco once stated in an interview to a US newspaper that his paintings do not reflect just objects but moods and he hoped to convey to those observing his works a meaning to life.
How did you make the selection of the artworks for the show? Has it been challenging to organise such an ambitious exhibition in London?
This first retrospective has displayed a range of all the above different media the artist worked with from the early 60s to the late 80s. It has also been a unique opportunity to revisit a remarkably thought-provoking period of Italian art history seen through the eyes of a singular artist. Together with NY based art historian Gerhard Gruitrooy, we've carefully selected Marco's oeuvre from his various artistic phases, techniques and styles such as: Lovers, Mysterious figures, Homage to Brecht, Homage to Rimbaud, Object Woman and Oneiric Landscapes. And we wanted to show all of that.
Yes, it's been a very challenging, magical and rewarding journey. It has been very challenging from the very first stage of research and development through to self-funding and fundraising and as well as letting the light shine above an artist who has been unsung for a very long time. I'm still hoping I'll be able to bring a Marco Lusini exhibition to Italy one day.
How has been the reaction of the members of the public to the show?
The reaction of the public in London has been terrific. It has been a very special exhibition which has had a wide audience reuniting his closest friends and attracting British and Italian art lovers young and old, as well as an international general public.For more information about Marco Lusini and the exhibition, please visit the following website: http://www.lauradasta.com/cross-platform.html
Untitled from Oneiric Landscapes series, 1980-1982. Private Collection. Courtesy the Estate of Marco...
Fashion is always hungry for the next big thing. New ideas to respond to a Society always on the move. Some of the best schools in the world are in London and never fail to demonstrate that many of the most talented designers are here.
However, due to high...
Glyndebourne is one of the most important worldwide Opera festivals during the summer. It brings the best of British with a mix of exceptional talent, originality, sophistication and above all sheer enjoyment. Set in a beautiful country house near Lewes, about one hour by train from London, it is an experience that lasts a whole day: from having a picnic, to visiting the new Whitecube art gallery offshoot with a solo show the highly respected German artist Georg Baselitz, to admiring the well-crafted garden and, of course, listening to the opera with a 90 minute interval to perfectly blend in with a summerly soirée.
Gardens in the evening. Photographer James Bellorini. Courtesy Glyndebourne.
The Rape of Lucretia is the first chamber opera, a smaller scale production specially suited for tours and the austerity requirements after the World War II, completed by the British composer Benjamin Britten just after the successful premier of Peter Grimes in 1945. It formed the template for successive creations in his future career. Britten attempted to invent a new School of Opera removing many of the most grandiose elements of other classic productions. He also reduced the orchestral palette to just 13 solo instrumentalists in a most inventive manner and great precision with a sparingly use of the piano and a protagonism of the harp for the most emotive moments. This intimacy allows the viewer to focus on the wording and the powerful dialogues held between the characters. Some of the deepest exchanges I have ever heard in opera. The libretto, the term used for a script in opera, written by Ronald Duncan, based on the play with the same title Le Viol de Lucrece by André Obey, provides evocative exchanges such as when blind by envy Tarquinius is about to rape Lucretia:
Lucretia asks: What do you want with me?
Tarquinius: What do you fear?
Lucretia: You! In the forest of my dreams you have always been the Tiger.
The plot has the background of the Etruscan domination of Rome in 509 BC. The generals Collatinus, Lucretia's husband, played by the understanding bass Matthew Rose; Tarquinius, the nasty perpetrator charismatically sang by the baritone Duncan Rock kindly regaling us with a pectoral show off; and the instigator Junius, sweet voice by the bass-baritone Michael Sumuel, discuss their disappointment when finding their wives in the company of other men in an impromptu ride back to Rome. It develops to envy when Lucretia is the only woman found by herself. The virtue of faithfulness becomes her worst enemy. Lucretia, played by the mezzo-soprano Christine Rice, holds the stage with a strong presence and displays a warm coloratura perfectly suited for this role. A victim that takes full control of her destiny. The Male Chorus, played by Allan Claytong, and the Female Chorus, performed by Kate Royal, managed to strike a balance between enhancing and informing but without being obstructive. Bianca, performed by Catherine Wyn-Rogers, her servant but also acts the role of a mother, portrays the inability of protecting her mistress. As Fiona Shaw, who intelligently has directed this piece, says:
"There is something about the exchanges between Lucretia and her maid before she goes to sleep, something about Lucretia's dignity that is really captured in the opera. There is poise in the writing of who she is and yet also passion. Poise and passion are a heady combination. She has both. I also have found that the morality of the piece is as dark as it is in Medea. There is no worse fate for a moral person than to have their morality tested in a way in which they cannot win. And that is what happens to Lucretia."
The Rape of Lucretia, Glyndebourne Festival 2015. Tarquinius (Duncan Rock). Photographer Robbie Jack. Courtesy Glyndebourne.
The stage design is very imaginative with a scarce use of artefacts designed by Michael Levine. The Roman ruins symbolising the sinister side of our subconscious that keeps unearthing as the story darkens. Magistral music played by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The result is an operatic experience that is extraordinarily emotional and dramatic. Highly recommended.
The Rape of Lucretia with nine performances until 19 August with a cinema screening life on the 9th August, Sunday, and a free online streaming, also life, on the same day, Sunday the 9th of August. For more information, please visit website http://www.glyndebourne.com
The Rape of Lucretia, Glyndebourne Festival 2015. Male Chorus (Allan Clayton) and Female Chorus (Kate Royal). Photographer Robbie Jack. Courtesy...
Burberry is one of the most iconic British Fashion Houses maintained by quality, perfect tailoring and innovation as the starting point in each collection. It was founded over 150 years ago in 1856 when Mr Thomas Burberry opened the first store in Basingstoke, Hampshire, at the young age of 21. Later on, the distinctive Equestrian Knight logo was created adding the word Prorsum which means in Latin forward. A constant motto for such avant-garde company.
Image courtesy Burberry Prorsum.
In 1914, Burberry was commissioned to adapt its coat to the rough elements of warfare and the quintessential trench coat was born. It is still one of the garments most closely associated with Burberry. The beginning of this century witnessed a successful expansion on a global scale and online sales led by by its former CEO's Rose Marie Bravo and Angela Ahrendts, and the current CEO and Chief Creative Officer, Christopher Bailey. A visionary who has managed to position the Fashion House as one of the most influential in the world today.
Bailey's catwalks are much more than a mere presentation of next year's collection; they have become a unique experience with live music by Clare Maguire on this occasion and one of the hottest ticket during the London Fashion Week. Patchwork, Pattern & Prints, the title of the latest Winter collection, shown us with the link of perfect tailoring and the unexpected turn to the 60s in colours and bohemian flair. A sparkle of nostalgia in a contemporary setting. A break away from happy moments with lessons learnt. Perhaps an attempt to recover the optimism of a Golden Decade after the worse crisis in almost 100 years.
Image courtesy Burberry Prorsum.
As Bailey says:
We called the show 'Patchwork, Pattern & Prints' which really sums up what's at the heart of the collection; a relaxed yet intricate collection of dramatic silhouettes, handcrafted embroidery, and detailed embellishment. We loved this theme of a patchwork of ideas, textiles, silhouettes and our favourite Burberry pieces, evolved to reflect the bohemian relaxed spirit of the show.
Flowers immersed in warm colours recreates the last days of a plentiful summer. Memories fading away at the first signs of snow. A recap. A pause. Is happiness something we talk about in past tense? Oversized mono-coloured coats and ponchos ready for the freeze. Playful suede boots to continue the fun. Strings dangling from the ankle caressing the floor. Carelessness at its most. The Game is ON. Vintage that did not feel like vintage. Flawlessly succession of flowers and colour dots, as if the show were a bucolic poem. And then popping in and out the iconic trench coat in all different combinations mentioned above: suede, flower patterns and colour block.
Uplifting and overwhelming. It ended with the lead singer Maguire supported by London Contemporary Voices who surrounded the space from the top, The Langley Sisters and Clare Maguire's band singing My Sweet Lord under a multicolour paper snow. An extraordinary experience and an understanding why it is one on the hottest tickets during the London Fashion Week.
Image courtesy Burberry...
We are experiencing an unprecedented interest in Contemporary Art. Last year the Tate attracted a whopping figure of 7 million visitors of which 4.8 million visited just one space: the Tate Modern. 41% of visitors to Tate Liverpool said their reason for coming to the city was to visit Tate. No wonder with such passion for Art many young students are graduating from Art schools. Galleries play a pivotal role in presenting new talent to a wider audience outside the University environment, but it may take several years before they spot the next Picasso. Chloé Bonafous, the director and founder of MyArtsphere.com, wants to address this by creating the first 21st Century online salon. Young artists will be able to connect with other artists and Art lovers to share their creation process and their artworks via a uniquely tailored online platform. The face to face traditional salon will also be organised in the form of regular events to facilitate a strong and ever expanding supportive positive community.
The project is backed by active organisations supporting the next generation of makers such as Made In Arts London, the University of the Arts (UAL) promotion team and it includes talented people in the committee such as: Becca Pella-Fry, Director of The Griffin Gallery in White City, London; Lord Dennis Stevenson, ex-chairman of the Trustees of Tate Gallery (1988-1998) and the previous chancellor of the University of the Arts London (UAL); Susana Gállego Cuesta, curator at Le Petit Palais, Musée des Beaux Arts de Paris; and Jessica Carlisle, curator and founder of pop-up galleries in London and New York. An exciting Kickstarter was launched on the 1st of June. Everybody is invited to join in.
Untitled by Viriyah Edgar Karet
Bonafous has kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
1. Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
I have been lucky to be born in an art city, Albi, in the South of France and in a loving family that cherish art. I fell in love with art very early on and studied art and history for a few years and in parallel with my business studies. I then worked for 2 years during my studies for the direction of the Museum of Fine Arts at the Petit Palais in Paris. While in Paris, I made the most of this amazing city by attending Beaux-Arts and Ecole du Louvre classes, but also a lot of exhibitions, and other cultural events. My time in Paris reinforced my love for art. I then worked as a strategy consultant for more than 5 years in Paris and then in London. So, one year ago, after having identified the strong need for some of my artist friends to have access to a platform to connect with each other, to promote their art and solidify their network, I decided to develop the project.2. Where did the idea of creating an online salon for young art graduates come from? Where did the title: "MyArtsphere" come from?
At first from some of my artist friends, discussing with them but also understanding their challenges and their needs. It also comes from my own interest in Art. Last but not least, I have worked on different projects that apply new technologies, in doing so I realised that Art is one of the few areas in which the internet has not brought more transparency and more meritocracy.
I wanted a name that implies a community, as the main aim of My Artsphere is to provide young artists with a community they can be part of. A community is a sphere of people sharing a common interest. Sphere is also a geometric and aesthetic shape, so I really liked this double meaning. Artsphere sounds a bit like Atmosphere and I really like that too: something light that support you and that makes you feel alive, that was perfect!
FleshCube Study by Jack Spencer Ashworth
3. Has it been challenging to get on board such an ambitious committee of talented people and the backing of the University of the Arts London?
I have been extremely lucky to find amazing people on my way and strangely enough it has not been that difficult. I think all my partners are aware of the need for such a tool for young artists, because they work with young artists.
4. You are launching a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds to create a state of the art MyArtsphere website. What are the highlights of the campaign?
The rewards we have created for the people backing My Artsphere on kickstarter are really attractive. Three artists gave some of their pictures for us to be able to print them on canvas bags and notebooks but also to print them as very limited, numbered and signed editions! We have also created a catalogue of promising young artists selected by the advisory committee. Finally, the main backers will also be invited to the "artist only" events that we will regularly run with young artists on the platform. Participating in the campaign by backing the project, is being part of the My Artsphere community from its initiation, but is also about being in a privileged position to acquire stakes in My Artsphere when it evolves into a company. The unique 21st century online art salon!
To participate in the Kickstarter campaign, please visit website: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2122296969/my-artsphere
For more information about MyArtsphere, please visit website: http://www.myartsphere.com
Untitled by Anais...
Artpusher adventures in Mayfair and Brick Lane
The Danish artist Artpusher is the candy girl that will give you a bitter-sweet caramel. Flashy colours and pretty girls are the promise of a Disney experience. A broken one since nothing is what it seems and the viewer is left perplexed by a game of brand changing and name calling. Too late, the hook of beauty has done its job and one is immersed in an unrequested journey of sharp advertising techniques and questioning. Lots of it. The exhibition currently at Mead Carney in Mayfair, London, until the 2nd of May is an invitation to a full acceptance of consumerism. We are weak animals after all, but Artpusher always finds a way to sabotage it with the use of the same strategies. If you cannot beat your enemy, make him your ally!
Artpusher has always been fascinated by New York as a symbol of global commercial popular culture. Times Square in particular is unique in this context. A place of "visual prostitution" as he calls it. Each painting becomes a shopping mall of artists' iconic works and art movements to become products ready to be bought.
OBEY NEON by Artpusher. Courtesy the artist and Mead Carney.
Artpusher has kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
1. Can you tell us why you decided to become an artist?
My father is an amazing water colour artist and an art teacher. We were always broke, so at a young age I decided to take a different path in life. After years of business schools, I started several fashion companies, making loads of money and running around like a headless chicken for years, thinking this must be the way to happiness. During this period of time, I also was runnig a private gallery in Copenhagen, Artpusher, showing emerging Danish artists. In 2003 I went bankrupt leaving me with nothing but my toothbrush, some art supplies and a depression that lasted for 3 months. Having nothing to loose it seemed like a good option to spend my life doing what always made me happy: painting. Since that autumn day in 2003, I have done nothing but paint day and night. I guess my old man was right after all, painting is damn close to happiness
2. Which artists are your main influences and why?
My father, he taught me all the basic skills. Picasso, bad artists copy, great artists steal, burn & rape. Basquiat, he taught me to fuck all basic skills and to keep away from drugs, at least the strong ones. Warhol, the old advertising trick of repetition also works in the artworld. Lichtenstein, I have to borrow those bubbles. Koons, size matters, not only in porn. Ron English, humor is a powerful tool and this guy can actually paint. Hirst, just do it. Banksy, keep Your message simple and effective and do NOT get caught by the Police. Blek le Rat, you´re never to old to make street art.
I'M LOVING IT by Artpusher. Courtesy the artist and Mead Carney.
3. What do you bring to Painting having been brought up in Northern Europe?
I consider myself a political world artist rather than a typical Scandinavian painter. The ideas behind my works are, however, strongly influenced by the sceptical and ironic Scandinavian approach towards religion, politics and the commercial world. These days as an artist, it is almost impossible to be unique or original . One has to make use of the existing ideas, collaborate them and make it your own. Finally the works are discretely sprinkled with hidden political statements and works as my Trojan horse.4. What is your major achievement so far?
My greatest achievement is to show that art can actually make a difference. The Love Party is the project closest to my heart. It`s always been a sore in my eyes to walk the streets having to look at the invasion of our public spaces by political parties and commercial interests. As a reaction to this and the right wing turn in European policy I created the " The Love Party " in 2011. During the Danish election campaign in 2011 I flooded the streets of Denmark with election posters delivering the message of charity, environmental responsibility and international openness in a fun and engaging way. I encouraged the public to steal the posters.5. What is your next project?
I believe there is even more need for public awareness in the world today, so " The Love Party 2015 " is my next project. Just a few days ago I started working on the first sketches for the upcoming election campaign. I wish to make " The Love Party " an international movement as a reaction to the current political climate and a protest against the commercialization of our public spaces. Income from these projects are used for charity and among other things I sponsored art supplies for school children after the Typhoon Yolanda in the Philippines in 2013. " If putting up art posters in the streets could change anything - it would be illegal "
For more information about the current show, please visit the website on
Me! performance by Maria Teresa Gavazzi. She will be performing a different work for the exhibition.
The Fall of the Rebel Angels is the only independent show that will take place during the 56th Venice Biennale this year. A selection of the most thought-provoking artists of today selected by the Croatian, but London based, artist and curator Vanya Balogh. Canada, Sweden, Spain, Switzerland, Serbia, Italy, Lithuania, Mexico, Ireland, Australia, USA, Israel and China are the countries that will participate in this exhibition to demonstrate that Art is not about borders and politics but people. Coinciding with the Biennale's Preview days - 6/7/8 May - and conveniently located between the two neuralgic spaces: Giardini with the national pavilions and Arsenale with the curated show and other national pavilions. The exhibition will end on the 23rd of June and will open daily from 12 noon to 7pm.
Geometric Surface by Gavin Turk. Courtesy the artist and the photographer Andy Keate.
The Venice Biennale, La Biennale di Venezia in Italian, is the oldest and by far the most important art showcase that takes place every two years. Founded in 1895, countries are invited to exhibit an artist or group of artists in their national pavilion. In every edition a new curator is invited to guarantee independency and a fresh perspective. The Nigerian Okwui Enwezor is this edition's curator. Since 2011 he has been the Director of the Haus der Kunst in Munich and has led many other biennials and triennials in Paris, Seville, South Korea and Johannesburg. Titled All the World's Futures and a daily reading of Das Kapital by Karl Marx promises to deliver anything but indifference. As Enwezor says:
"The ruptures that surround and abound around every corner of the global landscape today recall the evanescent debris of previous catastrophes piled at the feet of the angel of history in Angelus Novus. How can the current disquiet of our time be properly grasped, made comprehensible, examined, and articulated? Over the course of the last two centuries the radical changes have made new and fascinating ideas subject matter for artists, writers, filmmakers, performers, composers, musicians. It is with this recognition that the 56th International Exhibition of la Biennale di Venezia proposes All the World's Futures a project devoted to a fresh appraisal of the relationship of art and artists to the current state of things."
House - Potenza Series by Vanya Balogh. Courtesy the artist.
Balogh, the curator, has kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
1. Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
I'm a self transgressing alien. I have arrived, by accident from far out galaxy, planet PSRB1620_26 and currently trying to find my way out of this miserable planet of yours. In the meantime, I'm curating exhibitions and making art. I'm also looking at your cars, computers, washing machines, gadgets and so forth. It's all very dated. I'm looking at what you consume and I find it all mildly repulsive. The only good thing about this sorry ass planet is art. And it might be the saving grace for you humans.
The title represents most magnificent and powerful story of your species. A beautiful story of war in heavens, battle of good and bad, with fallen angels, rebel angels, superfreaks and demons. This disquieting event visualised magnificently by both Hieronymus Bosch and Pieter Bruegel The Elder is your past and your present and is our shared idea and theme for this exhibition.
An Experimental Journey Undertaken Involuntarily by Vanja Karas. Courtesy the artist.
3. Why in Venice?
Venice being one of the most beautiful cities on the planet is an apt setting for this
exhibition. It is also a very special 120th anniversary of the Biennale and we wish to celebrate and add some elements to the proceedings. It is a high date in the arts calendar and equally one not to be missed. If one would want to curate an exhibition Venice would certainly be a near perfect destination.
I made the selection based on the idea of RISK.
Yes and no. Exhibitions are always a challenge. Anywhere, anytime. Artists never make it easy or simple. Why should they. However I would not recommend it to anybody. If you asked me would I rather cook or curate, I would always rather cook. In this case an attempt was made to create two situations. One temporary, impermanent which will ensue inside the palazzo and the other in print which would age and ferment over time. The printed matter is inspired by the 1968 Catalogue Of Biennale and gives our version and perspective of the now, of the present. The publication is designed at Bath Spa University guided by Rupert Bassett and graduate graphic communication students.
We are the only international artist led exhibition at Biennale this summer and for that reason only it is worth a pick. The only artist led exhibition curated by a transgressing alien featuring 112 magnificent rebel angels from Italy, Israel, USA, Croatia, Holland, Czech Republic, Germany, China, UK, Spain, India, Republic Of Ireland, France and Serbia. It will showcase works on the smaller scale in mediums of sculpture, video art, painting, print, photography and performance, all of it converging in the 4 rooms of the historic Venetian palazzo, situated short distance from Arsenale. It is important that artists initiatives of this type continue unabated and are preserved via the process of fast movement and exchange. This show is a different proposition in the context of Biennale, which is incessantly driven by capital and its manipulations.This exhibition points to a different direction. Maybe a utopian one.
For more information and exact location, please visit the event page on:
For more information about The Venice Biennale, please visit their homepage on:
Lucio Fontana, Concetto Spaziale (detail), 1964, Oil on canvas, 46x38cm. Courtesy Dominique Levy Gallery.
At some era, different artists from different parts of the globe seem to be working on the same wavelength, even if they are not in contact with each other....
When everybody is trying to understand today how Jihadi John made the transition from a shy nice kid to a cold merciless killer, music composer Purcell and playwriter John Dryden already attempted to grasp such a thorny issue in the late 1600s. Wars are nothing new and an insatiable appetite for innocent human blood seems to be the norm, not the exception. Rather worrying because any of us could become the next Jihadi John. However, Purcell takes the story much further than the usual Hollywood blockbuster epic because it shows the characters as humans. It attempts to portray a clash of cultures between the Spanish conquistadores and the native Indians. It attempts to comprehend how such a compassionate religion as Christianity, or currently Islam, emerges as merciless and an excuse for killing innocent people.
The Indian Queen. Courtesy ENO and the photographer Richard Hubert Smith.
Peter Sellars, the director, takes Purcell's rich score and incorporates some of the composer's most ravishing sacred and secular pieces, adding vibrant set designs from Chicano graffiti artist Gronk and choreography by Christopher Williams. Woven throughout the production is spoken text taken from Rosario Aguilar's novel The Lost Chronicles of Terra Firma, which recounts the initial confrontation between Europeans and the Mayans of the New World through a personal account from a female perspective. The result is a spectacle of music, theatre, dance, literature and visual art.
Although the duets do not work, the opera was left unfinished and Purcell's brother completed it, and perhaps they were his, it is full of special moments. Having a countertenor describing a lovemaking scene with such a poetic aria is unforgettable. South Korean countertenor Vince Yi, a star in the making, elevates something so intimate to heaven. Other voices such as countertenor Anthony Roth and sopranos Julia Bullock, a magnetic presence, and Lucy Crowe shows there is no shortage of talent in the ENO. Puerto Rican actress Maritxell Carrero enchants us with her superb storytelling skills reciting texts taken from Aguilar's novel The Lost Chronicles of Terra Firma. Carrero manages to add layers of meaning to the story without interfering in the interaction among the characters of the opera.
The Other Mary and The Indian Queen have a shared theme of retelling history recorded by men through the eyes of women - bringing out the humanity of the work and giving a voice to individuals who, over time, have been erased from history. Sellars is one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the performing arts in the world. A visionary artist, Sellars is known for engaging with social and political issues through art. Chicano painter, printmaker and performance artist Glugio Nicandro (known as 'Gronk') has designed the set for this production. Best known for his murals, Gronk's abstract and vibrant set design comprises large, colourful panels that take inspiration from ancient Mayan art. Baroque specialist Laurence Cummings leads an exceptional cast and the ENO chorus to conduct The Indian Queen. Cummings is Artistic Director of London Handel Festival and Internationale Händel-Festpiele Göttingen. The four dancers: Sonya Cullingford, Alistair Goldsmith, Lucy Starkey and Jack Thomson raise the performance to a new level. Completing the creative team is costume designer Dunya Ramicova and lighting designer James F. Ingalls.
The Indian Queen, actress Maritxell Carrero. Courtesy ENO and the photographer Richard Hubert Smith.
This opera deals with the personality of a warrior switching between a sweet father and a despot husband and cruel soldier. It has nothing to do with the usual tragic love stories we are accustomed in opera. It is vibrant, elegant, profound and relevant to current times and just for that is highly recommended.
For more information about The Indian Queen and the English National Opera, please visit the website
The latest boom years in the 90s and early 2000 saw an implosion of artists as mass commodity producers for a new bourgeoisie eager to invest vast amount of money while enjoying their conscious left intact. Dot making Master Damien Hirst and hare photographer and soft-porn filmmaker
English National Opera Music Director Edward Gardner will lead the world-class ENO Orchestra and Chorus alongside an outstanding cast of 89 orchestral musicians, a chorus of 90 and 17 principal singers in Wagner's comic masterpiece The Mastersingers of Nuremberg. Known for championing British and British trained talent, ENO will field a predominantly British cast led by one of ENO's major discoveries of recent years, Iain Paterson, making his role debut as Hans Sachs. His charisma, exquisite voice and profound humanity perfectly holds such complex opera.
As it happens with many artists, private life permeates through the narrative of his works. Wagner had to spend some time in Zurich where he met what perhaps was the love of his life: Mathilde Wesendock. A married woman and, therefore, beyond reach and idealised. The relationship with his next-door neighbour blossomed and, although unlikely to be consummated, made it all the more intense. A sentiment he shares with the character of Hans.
Rachel Nicholls and Iain Paterson. Courtesy ENO and the photographer, Catherine Ashmore.
Originally created for Welsh National Opera in 2010, Richard Jones's spectacular staging of Mastersingers comes to London for the first time. Jones provides a rather amusing retelling of Wagner's drama about the 16th-century guild of amateur poets and musicians called The Mastersingers. The tensions between creativity and conformity are played out in a society obsessed with rules and regulations.
This production originated at Welsh National Opera where Richard Jones's interesting presentation was enthusiastically received. The Mastersingers of Nuremberg forms part of a series of works that Richard Jones will direct as part of an ongoing collaboration with ENO. His recent productions for the company include Rodelinda and The Girl of the Golden West, both of which received an outstanding critical and audience response. Richard Jones has been made a CBE for Services to Music in the recent New Year Honours List.
Leading Wagnerian bass-baritone and former ENO Company Principal Iain Paterson will sing his first Hans Sachs. This will be his second Wagnerian role debut this season, following on from his success as Kurwenal in Christof Loy's production of Tristan und Isolde at the Royal Opera House.
Brilliant singing-actor Andrew Shore, whose ENO triumphs range from Donizetti to Britten, makes his stage role debut as the pedulant Beckmesser. He was most recently seen at ENO in the twin cameos of Benoit and Alcindoro for La Bohème, and will return to the London Coliseum in May as Major-General Stanley in Mike Leigh's new production of The Pirates of Penzance.
British soprano Rachel Nicholls, an exceptional and experienced Wagnerian, sings the role of Eva regaling such beautiful and delicate notes that you wonder if she comes from another planet. She sang her first Brünnhilde in Götterdämmerung for the 2012 Longborough Festival, returning for three complete Ring Cycles in 2013. Her performances as Senta in Scottish Opera's 2013 production of The Flying Dutchman were very well-received by the public and the critics.
Welsh tenor and ENO favourite Gwyn Hughes Jones sings the role of Walter. American bass James Creswell sings the role of Pogner. Both are impressive. Joined by ENO Harewood Artist Nicky Spence as David and former ENO Young Singer Madeleine Shaw as Magdalene. Completing the cast is baritone David Stout as Kothner. He recently performed at the London Coliseum in the title role of Fiona Shaw's The Marriage of Figaro.
Nicholas Folwell, Quentin Hayes, Jonathan Lemalu, David Stout, Timothy Robinson. Courtesy ENO and the photographer, Catherine Ashmore.
2014/15 will be Edward Gardner's final season as ENO Music Director. Gardner was nominated for an Olivier Award for his 2012 performances of The Flying Dutchman. Gardner will return in June to conduct his final production as Music Director, The Queen of Spades.
The creative team is completed by set designer Paul Steinberg, wild imagination by the costume designer Buki Shiff, lighting designer Mimi Jordan Sherin and choreographer Lucy Burge.
The Mastersingers of Nuremberg opens at the London Coliseum on Saturday 7th February for 8 performances - Feb 7, 14, 21 & Mar 7 at 3pm, Feb 18, 25 & Mar 3, 10 at 5pm.
For more information, please visit the website
There has been lately a great interest in the post-war Italian art. Overshadowed by Abstract Expressionism from New York, it has not reached the mass media attention it deserves. No wonder at the last Frieze Week the highlight was The Italian Sale at Christie's setting a world record for Alighiero Boetti and healthy sales by Piero Manzoni, Alberto Burri and Lucio Fontana. A rediscovery of one of the most interesting times in the history of the Arts in Italy alongside the Golden Age of Italian Cinema with filmmakers such as Fellini, De Sica and Visconti.
Arte Povera, literally poor art, and other artists not included in this movement such as Bonalumi succeeded in challenging preconceptions in the use of materials such as 12 alive horses presented in an art gallery or the traditional definition of media. Bonalumi exhibited in the 60s monocoloured canvases stretched and deformed in a way that blurred the boundaries between the two-dimensional painting and the three-dimensional sculpture. Light and shadow also became important elements in his works. A new exhibition of his works, in collaboration with Archivio Bonalumi and curated by Francesca Pola, opens at Mazzoleni London in Mayfair this Friday, the 6th of February. A unique opportunity to understand why the avantgarde half a century ago is so fresh and prevalent today.
Luigi Mazzoleni, the gallery director, has kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
1. Can you please tell us a bit about your background?
I recently re-located to London to open the second outpost of my family's gallery Mazzoleni. Before this, I worked with my parents and brother at our Turin gallery which was founded in 1986. The gallery evolved from years of private collecting and I remain an avid collector today. In Turin, we have presented a curatorial programme focussed on museum calibre Post-War Italian Art through exhibiting artists such as Afro Basaldella, Alberto Burri, Enrico Castellani, Lucio Fontana, Piero Manzoni, and Paolo Scheggi. I also expanded the gallery's programme to include Arte Povera exhibiting key artists such as Alighero Boetti and Mario Merz. For now, the London gallery will continue to present a similar programme and will eventually develop a contemporary Italian art programme.
Agostino Bonalumi, Giallo, 1994, PVC, enamel and glass, 86 x 86 x 94 cm. Courtesy Archivio Bonalumi and Mazzoleni London
2. How did you get to know Bonalumi and why did you decide to curate an exhibition by him now?
My family has been collecting Bonalumi's work for a long time and our gallery was fortunate enough to have represented him during the last 10 years of his life. Through all these years of collaboration and trust with Bonalumi, a great relationship emerged that now continues with Fabrizio, his son and director of the Archivio Bonalumi. It was our joint decision to have a sculpture show in London and present at the same time a large-scale monograph of Bonalumi's sculptures. Bonalumi had a premature death as he could have done so much more around his new research on materials and shapes. I think that he reached a crescendo during the last part of his career and particularly in his later sculptural work. There is a purity and integrity about his work that is rare to find and I am delighted to be bringing this selection of works to London and a wider international public. The works create a lyrical atmosphere with their simplicity and models of symmetry.
Agostino Bonalumi, Giallo,1969, Shaped Ciré, 150 x 120 cm. Courtesy Archivio Bonalumi and Mazzoleni London
3. Post-war Italian art was the highlight of the Frieze Week due in part to the auction in Sotheby's. What do you think are the reasons behind such interest?
Even though these artists were working over 50 years ago, their work continues to look incredibly contemporary which is part of their universal appeal. The contribution these artists made to the evolution of a new aesthetic and the role they played in raising the profile of Italian art internationally has become more widely recognised amongst museums, curators and prominent collectors and this in turn has led to rising interest in the major auction houses and commercial galleries who haven't traditionally operated in this field.
4. Why do you think people should come to see Bonalumi's exhibition?
It is the first time many of these works have been shown in the UK and therefore a chance for audiences to discover more about an incredibly influential Italian artist through some of the best examples of his work.
For more information about the Bonalumi's exhibition, please visit the website
When Picasso died in 1973, Spanish painters complaint that he had left a bitter legacy: the void. They felt that after a genius the avenues of experimentation were closed. Chillida's death, the most prominent Spanish sculptor from the last century, had the opposite effect: a blossoming in the sculptural field. Although moving towards figurativism rather than abstraction, Spain enjoys a Golden Age with the most clear example of Juan Muñoz. He was invited to the second commission at the Turbine Hall and had, later, a retrospective at the Tate Modern. Manolo Valdés and Xavier Mascaró are part of this accidental figurativism. These three artists share a similarity with an obsession that was typical of the Baroque and I would describe as expressing the underlying tensions of human life - opulence versus asceticism, pleasure versus fear - in which the presence of the figure could be considered a mere accident. Rather than individual sentiments; the whole of Society is packed in each work.
Eduardo Chillida sculpture Berlin for the Bundeskanzleramt in Berlin. Photographer, Hans Peter Schaefer. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.
Mascaró, born in Paris in 1965, who has developed his career between Europe and NorthAmerica, uses figures, be it a guardian, a warrior or a Hindu goddess, as a blank canvas to express the contradictions within the human soul: strength and fragility, the mask we wear everyday versus the need to open up and to share, locality and globality.
Last September, he had a solo show at the Saatchi Gallery receiving rave reviews. Alastair Smart, the arts editor and chief art critic of the Sunday Telegraph, described his sculptures as: eerie, timeless and evocative. Mascaró has also participated in public art projects and heavily borrows elements of ancient cultures and the human body just as Moore did. He is currently working on a project as the guest artist of the El Mundo stand in ARCO2015, curated by Rafa Sierra. The most important art fair in Spain which takes place from the 25th of February to the 1st of March in Madrid.
Guardianes, Xavier Mascaró. Paris, Jardin du Palais Royal. Courtesy the artist
Meryl Rose, an art collector who sits on The Rose Art Museum Board of Advisors, says:
Xavier Mascaro's work is powerful and strong, yet it has a softness and serene beauty and elegance that is undeniable. It evokes ancient times, cultures and thought; and still it is completely contemporary and relevant. The man himself is a beautiful human being.
Kosme de Barañano, ex-museum director, full-time professor and one of the most respected art critics in Spain today, adds:
Mascaró follows the tradition of the history of Spanish art, from the realistic imagery of Gregorio Fernández to the Baroque painting of Valdés Leal. His language is figurative but it addresses the in-visible, presenting pieces of bullfighting life (saddles, tack, horses, ropes) or everyday life (toys, crosses, reliquaries) which always imply the presence of a human being, or as Maurice Blanchot said, his passing, his absence. An absence that is tinged with a tragic feeling of life.
Bookshelf by Xavier Mascaró which will be exhibited at ARCO2015. Courtesy the artist.
Mascaró had kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
1. Born in Paris, Rumanian grandmother, Spanish father, French mother, brought up in Barcelona, studios in Madrid and Mexico city and planning a new one in Los Angeles. Do you consider yourself as a citizen of the World? Is that the main reason why some of your works are deeply rooted in a specific culture such as Egyptian, Greek or Mayan, but somehow become International?
I feel like as being an amalgam of different cultures. For years I have been living in more than one place at the time. I like the distance and perspective that you get when you are abroad from where you grew up. For instance, the first couple of years that I spent in New York, where I had a studio for 15 years, I fell deeply connected to my roots, to Spain and its recent history. Some of my recent works are inspired in the strength that I can feel in works from Pre-Columbian civilizations, as it has been the case in my work with other cultures distant in time such as Nubian, Egyptian or Cycladic. I am currently fascinated by the people, the culture and the energy that I find in Mexico. Some of my recent works are inspired in the strength that I can feel in works.
I have been interested for some time now in producing works that are some sort of icon. They might be considered figurative because there is a recognizable shape represented, but in my mind they are more abstract. They are symbols in the shape of an icon. My Guardians originated from a will of combining serenity and strength in one image. These were emotions that I could feel for instance in the presence of representations of the Buddha, or in ancient armours, and I sort of combined them in my mind.
3. Although you are a figurative sculptor, would you say that you are highly influenced by Abstract Expressionism because you are constantly attempting to express emotions?
I don't think of myself as a figurative sculptor. Although my sculptures represent shapes that you can recognize I think that this is accidental. In fact, I consider them abstract, because to me they are some sort of vehicle to express the energy that I feel inside, in my inner self, which has no shape. I never thought of a connection of my work with Abstract Expressionism, but now that you point it, I would think that there is something about expressing the inner-self and the energy inside, that might relate my work to the ones of those artists. I deeply admire them, they were so brave...They have a heroic dimension.
4. Can you introduce us to your next exhibition at the stand of the newspaper "El Mundo", at the next Madrid Art Fair ARCO?
I will be showing a group of sculptures and drawings: Queens, an installation that consists of 5 iron large heads, together with Bookshelf a wooden structure that holds 40 smaller heads in ceramic and iron, and some drawings on one of the walls. I think it will be interesting to see this combination of gravity and lightness, of sculptures and drawings.
For more information about the Madrid Art Fair ARCO2015, please visit the website: www.ifema.es/arcomadrid_06
For more information about Xavier Mascaró, please visit the website:
ArtRooms presentation video. Courtesy ArtRooms, Lorenzo Stabile and the artists.
January is usually blue, but not in the Visual Arts. It is red. It is the beginning of the year and starts with a big bang: Art Fairs, top quality exhibitions, talks, performances... Everybody wants to welcome the New Year in the best possible way. The unstoppable energy, vibrancy, hunger for new ideas and re-interpretations of old ones makes the third week of January red.
The London Art Fair, 21-25 January, has invited the Pallant House Gallery, in Chichester. It is one of the finest collections of British Art. Simon Martin, Artistic Director, will curate a unique exhibition, The Figure in Modern British Art. The display will explore how different artists in Britain approached the human figure, from Walter Sickert's celebrated Jack Ashore depicting a nude female and clothed man in a charged bedroom interior, and the languid Post-Impressionist Bathers by the Pond by the Bloomsbury artist Duncan Grant; to the abstracted figures of Henry Moore, Wyndham Lewis and Graham Sutherland, and works by David Bomberg, Lucian Freud and their contemporaries. Other artists included in the exhibition led the post-war revival of figurative painting in British art schools. Furthermore, the Fair will present some of the most exciting Galleries of Modern and Contemporary today. Special mention deserves the Art Projects and Photo50 that perfectly complements the Fair with a strong programme of talks. Art of Angel in the nearby station of Angel is worth a visit.
Amelia Stein, White Stable. Courtesy of Oliver Sears Gallery
A new Fair has emerged to energise such intense week: ArtRooms2015. It is an innovative concept of art exhibition that offers independent artists and galleries the opportunity to exhibit their artworks in an intimate dimension. The unique setting of a luxury hotel room becomes a pioneering way to access art. The first edition of ArtRooms will take place from the 24th to the 26th of January at the Melià White House Hotel in Regent's Park. The fair includes an exceptional program of events and workshops and galleries such as: Amstel Art with works by Warhol and Lichtenstein, Reissue Korea with a great selection of Korean artists, Le Dame Art Gallery specialised in Italian and Contemporary Art and The Cult House presenting the avant-guard in London. A highlight is the exhibition curated by Miguel Mallol, a series of 8 rare oil portraits by Gaspare Manos exhibited in 2013 at the Museum of Modern Art in Minsk. He has also shown at the Palazzo Duodo during the Venice Biennale 2013.
"We trust that galleries exhibiting at the London Art Fair will also be interested in discovering "our" talented artists"says Cristina Cellini Antonini, Founder of ARTROOMS 2015 and Co-director together with Chiara Canal at Le Dame Art Gallery. The fair will represent as well a great opportunity to raise funds for the Charity Partner Bow Arts Trust, during the Gala Dinner there will be an auction with pieces of art being donated by exhibiting artists.
Gaspar Manos, Nelson Mandela. Courtesy the artist.
Parasol unit, in East London, has just open a superb survey of the highly respected, albeit rather young, artist Katie Moran with paintings already in the Tate Collection, Zabludowicz Collection and Walker Arts Centre. Her gallery, Modern Art in Clekerwell, opens on Thursday a new show by the American artist David Altmejd. In 2007 he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale. This exhibition is comprised of a number of enigmatic and surreal head-like sculptures, as if witnessing a sci-fiction movie, that stand on tables and plinths.
David Altmejd, Young Mother. Courtesy the artist and Modern Art.
Virgile Ittah & Kai Yoda will transform the Hus Gallery, in Mayfair, into an immersive and sensory environment. Visitors are encouraged to touch the objects on display and to move freely throughout the installation. The Middle East Ayyam Gallery, also in Mayfair, will present landscapes by the Syrian painter Thaier Helal in his first exhibition in the UK. Ronchini Gallery, based in Mayfair, has organised a show by the Italian Arte Povera artist Pier Paolo Calzolari. It will focus on drawings, studies and projects that will span the course of Calzolari's career from the early 1960s to the present and give an overview of many of Calzolari's signature concepts, offering insight into the artist's ongoing interest in light, matter and time. Finally, do not miss the Serpentine Galleries with a Latino Fiesta / German Seriousness combo for a great fun afternoon in Hyde Park before it ends mid February.
MauPal, The Flying Pope. Courtesy the artist and Le Dame...
Mikhail Baryshnikov, a Russian dancer who defected to the West in 1974, moves through dance as Alice in Wonderland through the mirror. Firstly as a dancer, often cited as one of the three best dancers in history with Nijinsky and Nureyev; secondly as a choreographer and artistic director; and, finally, as a photographer. Baryshnikov enjoys a special place to document movement and energy in a way that the viewer gets a second chance to appreciate what is missed in such rapid gestures. Bold and colourful to the point of almost abstraction in some photographs where the figures morphs into another entity.
Untitled #2. Courtesy Mikhail Baryshnikov and ContiniArtUK
The exhibition titled: Dancing Away, currently in the ContiniArtUK Gallery in Bond Street, Mayfair, London, until the 31st of January, is a serene invitation to rediscover the physical aspect of dance. Through the use of a technique known as long exposure photography, which involves opening the camera shutter for a long duration of time, thus exposing the lens to more light. The result records the transition through several positions that takes place while dancing. The viewer becomes a diver who keeps immersing themselves in and out of a work of stunning beauty. It is impossible not to.
Dr Diego Giolitti, one of the ContiniArtUK directors, has kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
1. Can you tell us a bit about ContiniArtUk Gallery's background and about yourself?
ContiniArtUK was opened in May 2014 and is owned by Cristian Contini, the son of Italian gallery owner Stefano Contini. The gallery is set over two floors in Mayfair, Central London and exhibits both contemporary and modern art. The Dancing Away exhibition will be shown alongside a permanent collection of works from artists represented by ContiniArtUK. Artists include Mario Arlati, Fernando Botero, Teresa Emanuele, Enzo Fior, Enrico Ghinato, Robert Indiana, Julio Larraz, Helidon Xhixha, and Igor Mitoraj.
I am a specialist in emerging art markets, with a focus on Iranian, Middle Eastern and Russian contemporary art. I studied at the University of Venice, specialising in Persian Studies as well as at the University of Cambridge with a PhD focusing on Iranian contemporary art and gender. I have worked as a lecturer at SOAS in London, at the University of Cambridge and at the University Ca'Foscari in Venice. I am also an experienced gallery director, having worked in San Francisco, Amsterdam, Paris, and my native Venice.
2. How did you start having a working relationship with Baryshnikov?
Mikhail Baryshnikov has previously collaborated with Stefano Contini in Italy. Cristian and I thought of asking Baryshnikov to exhibit his work in London (for the first time) as soon as the gallery opened in May. We knew how much the UK loved Baryshnikov and the fact that we were already acquainted with his amazing photographic work made the choice a natural one. Baryshnikov was very enthusiastic with the idea and since the very beginning has given us his full support.
3. Where did the title of the exhibition Dancing Away come from?
The title was chosen by Baryshnikov. His exhibitions all have very similar titles: Dance this way, Dancing away. His main goal is to translate the importance of capturing the sense of movement in his photographic work.
Untitled #12. Courtesy Mikhail Baryshnikov and ContiniArtUK
4. Baryshnikov was very generous in paying homage to pioneers photographers in the Dance field such as: Alexey Brodovitch, Paul Himmel and Irving Penn. In which ways you can see their influences in his works?
Baryshnikov definitely studied and was inspired by these masters of photography (he has practised photography and studied the subject for more than 20 years). But in my own opinion Baryshnikov has absorbed and digested previous works in the field and found his own way. What is interesting in his approach to photography is that, like no other, he has been able to translate his trained mind, advanced awareness of the body, and almost mystical perception of movement into a two-dimensional work of art.
5. Photographs taken by one of the most respected dancers and choreographers in the world provide us with a privileged insight in the world of dance, specially movement and energy. What do you think the viewer can learn from this exhibition?
What I am most impressed by is Baryshnikov's embracement of the world of dance as a whole. He is not focusing only on the elite world of classical ballet - Baryshnikov's message is that dance has no colour or cultural entity, but is the expression of the soul no matter where you are from. None of his photos are staged, they portray actual performances or have been taken from the streets of Rio or on a beach in Hawaii.
For more information, please visit ContiniArtUK website on www.continiartuk.com
Untitled #32. Courtesy Mikhail Baryshnikov and...
Debut Contemporary, its artists and Barry Martin and Klara Taussig-Cecmanova as co-curators with Samir Ceric, the gallery's director, decided to join forces to raise funds and awareness for the Harrison's Fund Charity. Located in 82 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, London, the show will continue...
In 2004, when everybody wanted to be in Mayfair and Fitzrovia, Ziba Ardalan, born in Iran, whose career was developed between the US and Switzerland, arrived from New York and decided to found a contemporary art organization in the far end of the cosy central London. A Victorian furniture factory, which were the studio of the Turner Prize nominee Peter Doig by that time, has become the home of one of the best places in London to experience contemporary art made today. Acclaimed artists such as Charles Avery, who represented Scotland at the Venice Biennale, or Leah Capaldi, who performed at the Serpentine Galleries last summer and described Ardalan as her "fairy godmother", exhibited at Parasol unit first.
Shinro Ohtake, 'Time Memory 28' (detail), 2014. 220.5 x 300.5 x 10.5 cm. Courtesy of the artist and Take Ninagawa, Tokyo
The current show by Shinro Ohtake ends on the 12th of December. Ohtake, one the leading artists in Japan, moves easily from drawing to video, from installation to sculpture, but his collage works, be it on a panel, be it on three-dimensional objects, are perhaps his strongest form. He has the sharp ability to absorb elements of the contemporary Japanese society and spit it out into a journey of discovery and learning when admiring his works.
Katy Moran, 'Joe's in Town', 2012, acrylic, paper, leather and collage on board, 55.2 x 87.6 cm. Courtesy Walker Art Center, Minneopolis, Justin Smith Purchase Fund 2013.
The next exhibition by the London-based painter Katy Moran, which opens on the 15th of January, is a rediscovery of a traditional medium such as painting. Although abstract at first glance, Moran portrays figures that requires a closer look and an interesting narrative, invented by the viewer and therefore unique, unravels. Her paintings are beautifully fluid and like a good painter plays with the subconscious on a different level.
Ziba Ardalan, founder and curator of Parasol unit, kindly agreed to respond to the following questions:
1. Can you tell us a bit about Parasol unit? Where did the name come from? And why in Hackney?
I wanted to give it a general name and not the name of a specific person. This place is about making people welcome. I thought of 'umbrella', because it encompasses various activities we do here, but it seemed a bit sad, so I opted for 'Parasol'. It is positive and radiant but all by itself misses something, so when a friend suggested 'unit', it clicked. The two words somehow complement each other perfectly and express what this foundation is about: promoting contemporary art for the public benefit, a welcoming residency for artists in the summer and an important educational element. Hackney reminded me of SoHo in New York in the 70s before it became fashionable as it is happening now here.2. What is your background? What was your PhD about?
I think I was born as a curator, although I first studied Physical Chemistry and did post-doctoral works at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Somehow there was always a creative side and an analytical side in me. So, after two years of working in scientific research, I decided to move from science to art. Scientists and artists are quite similar, because intuition is a crucial part of their work. This has always been very important to me as a curator - when selecting artists and their works for an exhibition or the timing of their exhibition. Anyhow in the early 1980s I went to Columbia University, NY, to study and gained a Masters degree in Art History. This was followed by attending the Independent Study Programme (ISP) for Curating and where I had Vicente Todolí, the former director of the Tate Modern, as a classmate. In 1984, I curated a show about the American painter, Winslow Homer, who started in the late nineteenth Century as a genre painter and moved to almost abstraction in the early 1900s. Homer's works were all over East Coast of America, so I had to travel to small museums and private collections to convince them to lend works to the exhibition - it was a great experience for a first time curator.
3. At the last charity auction, artists such as: Antony Gormley, Isaac Julien and Yinka Shonibare were very complimentary about Parasol unit. How do you feel about it? What do you think it is the reason?
I am humbled and honoured by those wonderful comments. My passion for art is genuine and I suppose that could be one of the factors artists appreciate. I work very hard to give those artists exhibiting at Parasol unit great exposure and I am willing to take risks when exhibiting lesser known artists. It is very encouraging to continue when I have the support of such talented and successful artists.
4. Can you summarise in three phrases why people should come to see the show by the Japanese artist Shinro Otake before it ends on the 12th of December?
I love the freedom with which Ohtake executes his works, even after having exhibited at prestigious events such as Documenta or Venice Biennale, indeed he carries on as usual. It is a lesson that an artist or a non-artist can apply to their practice, job or even in their daily life: freedom of thoughts. This exhibition shows his creativity and confidence and is a unique opportunity to discover why he is one of the leading Japanese artists.
5. Finally, can you give us an advance of the next exhibition? Why did your team decide to invite Katy Moran?
Although Moran has only ten years of painting practice behind her, I love the innovative way she goes about painting. Moran has absolutely no allegiance to the history of painting and in the process has created a whole new language, particularly in figurative painting.
For more information about Parasol unit, the current exhibition by Shinro Ohtake and the next exhibition by Katy Moran, please visit the website
Rekha Sameer, an artist and curator based in London, and Rashmi Tapadia, founder and owner of LetArtWork Gallery in Pune, decided to select the most interesting art being made in London today and to bring it to India. Both countries enjoy close ties and Sameer and...
The Gospel According to the Other Mary, being the other Mary the composer's mother and other social activist women, composed by John Adams and currently at the English National Opera until the 5th of December, is without doubt the masterpiece of the 21st century. Premiered in concert in 2013, it received a string of superlatives when reviewed, but nothing gets you ready to the immense experience of what the best of talent, second to none, can offer you. As John Berry, ENO artistic director, says:
"Nothing prepared me for the overwhelming dramatic intensity of the music and the profoundly moving storytelling."
Courtesy Richard HubertSmith, the photographer, and ENO
John Adams, one of the leading contemporary music and opera composers, creates humanist and visually stunning pieces that perfectly resonates in an era of discontent and widening social inequality. A highly respected and winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Music for his 9/11 Memorial piece, Adams concentrates on what it matters with a strong minimalist approach. The baggages are dumped and he is ready to take you for the journey of your life.
Libretto by Peter Sellars after Old and New Testament sources, intertwined with the voices of four extraordinary women: a Native American woman, a Black American woman, a socialist Catholic woman and a Mexican woman all contribute to a rich and dense text rooted in contemporary history. Sellars, a visionary artist, is one of the most innovative and powerful forces in the performing arts in the world. Sellars described the work as an attempt to "set the Passion story in the eternal present, in the tradition of sacred art", and so the narrative continuously attempts to combine the Biblical past with themes and references that remain relevant to a contemporary audience - such a drug addict going cold turkey. The story unfolds from the point of view of Mary Magdalene, her sister Martha and their brother Lazarus.
Courtesy Richard HubertSmith, the photographer, and ENO
Mezzo-soprano, Patricia Bardon, plays the main character of Mary Magdalene with vulnerability, determination and skilful acceptance of the events that unravels such as her brother Lazarus death and resurrection and Jesus crucifixion. Bardon gives a superb performance with ease. A talented star with no ego. Meredith Arwady, contralto, sings with a beautiful and exquisite voice her dilemmas in understanding her sister Mary Magadalene's destiny. Russell Thomas, a tenor playing Lazarus, their brother, is sublime. His voice makes time stop and takes us to a new dimension. One of the undisputed stars of the show is the flex dancer Banks. A visual orgasm. Guaranteed. Banks blends with the music as if it was composed for him. Unexpected, because flex dance is primarily associated with hip hop music. A refreshing surprise in a more classical setting. Finally, Seraphim, a type of celestial being, played by the counter-tenors: Daniel Bubeck, Brian Cummings and Nathan Medley, adds a layer of storytelling with such airy voices. Conductor Joana Carneiro, currently Principal Conductor of Orquestra Sinfonica Portuguesa, makes a great debut.
One of the best and most accessible operas ever. Highly recommended.
The Gospel According To The Other Mary opens at the London Coliseum on 21 November 2014 for 6 performances - 21, 25, 27 November and 3, 5 December at 7.30pm and 29 November, 6.30pm. For more information, please visit website: