Berlin C/O – Blow Up – The Swinging 60’s Influence

Blow Up

Blow Up

England, or more accurately London would have been quite a place to be in the 1960’s, that is no new news. It was like everyone was high as a mo of and delightfully embracing their new found open minded approach to everything. The sex, the drugs, the music, the fashion, the liberation and everyone looked unfathomably cool. England was the don when it came to all things cultural, and one area where big changes and new routes were being taken were in photography, the likes of David Bailey, Don McCullin and Terence Donovan were taking fashion photography to a new place and the world was taking note. The C/O in Berlin, a favourite photography haunt of SF has had a rather delightful exhibition called Blow-Up, from the film by Michelangelo Antonioni. Now at the time of writing SF was not totally au fait with the film but it takes the form of a photographer and his shooting of models and also everyday life in a kind of paparazzo style, the main character is loosely based on all the photographical forerunners of the day, hence the exhibition splices parts of the film with shots from this era.

London as it was...

London as it was…

Being a former Londoner…. the shots of the Eastend were the perfect tonic today on what was a god awful day of hailstones and high winds. Can we have summer soon? We have a small selection here for your viewing but get down there before it shuts on the 8th….

Ai Weiwei – Dropping the Evidence bomb on China in Berlin

Never ending Cycle

Never ending Cycle

In years to come Ai Weiwei will be seen as one of the most important artists, not just in this generation but in any generation. His influence and impact are felt on so many different levels and through his strong political statements and his ongoing battles against his oppression at the hands of his own nation’s government.

Gas mask in marble

Gas mask in marble

Weiwei is a clever man clearly and the mediums he use to speak to the wider world as well as his fellow countryman allows him to inject very blatant signposts as well as very subtle nuances, allowing the audience to really understand his work but to also take their own meaning from it.

Stool sample

Stool sample

IOUs to cover evasion fine

IOUs to cover evasion fine

The scale and variety at his latest exhibition in Berlin at the Martin Gropius Bau is something to behold, from video, to music, to everyday items, to antiques, to debris from disasters. His show ‘Evidence’ gives a visual representation to what he has experienced in recent years and how his views and the Chinese government’s attempts to censor them have been dealt with, from his own incarceration, to his tax avoidance ‘fine’ to his investigations into those killed in disasters in his homeland. There is a exact copy of the cell in which he was kept 24 hours a day, watched by two guards at all time, for 81 days until international pressure meant he was released.

A Weiwei message

A Weiwei message

There is also a look back in time to the history of China and the secret cities created. The entire collection is something quite extraordinary, the scale alone is awesome but also the emotion transmitted through each piece is very potent.

Animal heads in gold

Animal heads in gold

Ancient vases in commercial car paint

Ancient vases in commercial car paint

If you can not make Berlin then a survey of Ai WeiWei is showing at the Lisson gallery now until July 16

Artful Lunch Break

So you have an hour for lunch break, at a push that is. Some rarely leave their desk and see the sunshine, most sit and work through but that is counter productive.

SF has resolved to make sure that once a week, a small trip will be made to grab a little bit of aesthetic relief at lunchtime, a stolen few moments away from flickering Apple screens and the twittering of phones.

Dream

Dream

First visit was to Scream in W1, a stones throw from the hustle and bustle of the retail centre of London town.

Hallucination

Hallucination

Static are a two man band featuring Tom Jackson and Craig Evans who use layering techniques of flowers, woods, debris, glass, paint and shadows to create an exhibition called Phantasms of the Living.

Ephemeral

Ephemeral

The inspiration behind the exhibition is dreams, hallucinations and the ephemeral, using these ideas to create imagery requiring the viewer to look beyond what they see.

Man Ray @ NPG

The world's first selfie

The world’s first selfie

No long ass explanations on this, you should just want to see it anyway. FFS the man hung out with Duchamp, Coco Chanel, Dali, Picasso, Lee Miller and Max Ernst, whom he had a double wedding with.

Original hipster

Original hipster

Dali

Dali

Picasso

Picasso

Coco

Coco

A photographer who was more a visionary and created his own alternate reality through his images and techniques

Godfather of Pop Art – Roy Lichtenstein

Lichtenstein @ Tate

Lichtenstein @ Tate

One of the most seminal artists of the modern era and one that even a heathen would recognise. Mr Roy Lichtenstein was born in 1923 in Manhattan New York, the exact place that he died some 73 years later, by this time he had influenced a generation with his take on art and his use of modern advertising and imagery found in comic books.

AM:FM

AM:FM

Blue pictures

Blue pictures

Dot work

Dot work

Beach

Beach

The exhibition currently running at the Tate Modern in London is a whistlestop tour through his stages in thirteen rooms, from his early discovery of his now iconic styles through experiments, sculpture, Chinese Song dynasty influences and up to the end of his life and his artistic career.

Pop sculpture

Pop sculpture

Along with Warhol, Jasper Johns, James Rosenquist defined a movement and one of the most exciting ones ever, the influence of modern brands taking art away from more traditional areas and injecting some humour and irreverence.

Pop Chinese

Pop Chinese

It has been said that Lichtensten actually was fed up with being seen as purely a pop artist  and his iconic use of dots to create depth and shade actually limited his scope of work. Unconfirmed but you would can forgive the man for feeling that way.

Pop interaction

Pop interaction

Lichtenstein: A Retrospective at the Tate Modern London runs until May 27, plan to book your tickets to avoid queues and disappointment. One of the finest exhibitions around and worth a re-visit. SF will be heading there again soon

See No Evil – Bristol

Bristol is well known for a few things but the two biggest and most culturally relevant to the SF eye would be the Drum n Bass and the vibrant Street Art.

Listen to a little Roni Size while you peruse the paint on walls

See No Evil in Bristol is the annual street art project that draws an International crowd to an urban enclave every 12 months, it is a properly organised Arts Council supported display of street doodling.

Wruff

Wruff

Flying Fortress & Nychos

Flying Fortress & Nychos

Mark Lyken

Mark Lyken

Well this is quite the question. There is no right or wrong way actually. A touch of the Ben Eine about this one

?

?

!

!

See Bristol isn’t only the stopping ground of the ever-over-exposed Banksy

Conor Harrington

Conor Harrington

And finally….

A variety inc Lucy Mclauchlin &Chase

A variety inc Lucy Mclauchlin &Chase

Everything was moving, just too slowly

NYC - nothing like the deep south

NYC – nothing like the deep south

Twelve brilliant photographers from across the globe in one place, the Barbican Centre London. Everything Was Moving covers thought provoking, amusing, dark, and difficult subjects in colour and black and white and using a variety of methods which were revolutionary back in the day. These days any Thomas, Richard or Harold can use an app to put an effect on a shot an make it look good, but not even close to these original shots using good old fashioned cameras with film.

Arse peacock

Arse peacock

With Apartheid graphically explained by Ernest Cole and David Goldblatt to Bruce Davidson and William Eggleston documenting the Civil Rights movement that shook up the USA in the middle of last century. Added to this Vietnam pictures, shots with Chairman Mau, Mexican black and white pictures and an Asian flavour with Raghubir Singh.

GoldBlatt - Size of the problem

GoldBlatt – Size of the problem

The most powerful shots for me were of the South African Apartheid from David Goldblatt, showing the European’s rather short sighted view of the black people in Soweto and Joberg. It was quite astounding what went on in South Africa when you consider the Worldwide outrage at Nazi Germany, although not as extreme in the results, quite as wrong in the thinking and affect it had on the people, the perception of all involved and the effects to this day.

Goldblatt - Looking for a solution

Goldblatt – Looking for a solution

All shots were accompanied with text to give added depth but the facial expressions told a thousand stories. From the deluded white settlers to the strong proud mine workers of Soweto.

Boris Mikhailov - Exposure overlays

Boris Mikhailov – Exposure overlays

Plus this dude looks pretty amazing….

Eggleston - capturing something very American

Eggleston – capturing something very American

On until January 13th, a top SF pick.

Best of the Shadow Puppets – Noble & Webster

Back to back

Noble & Webster – I heard about this duo a little while ago so it was with baited breathe that I waited for the next opportunity to see their work in person. It arrived in the shape of Nihilistic Optimism at Blain Southern.

Shadow Chic

Many artists are too studious, too serious, too up their own fucking arse…. no names mentioned ahem. Tim Noble and Sue Webster are like the rock n roll version of artists, ones that you can well imagine living slightly in hedonistic debauchery. The now estranged couple were once married, married in fact by one Tracey Emin, the holy matrimony did not last however and for the sake of their creative partnership they had to split. Since then they still work together and thank goodness for that.

Solo Shadow

Through their Shoreditch studio designed by David Adjaye, the Dirty House, they have created some of the most visually striking pieces I have seen.

Shadow Man

On first site the constructs look like industrial piles, thrown together with abandon and with more of a maverick approach, but once shine the bright light through the shapes at the correct angle something beautiful appears across the wall.

Lone Shadow

Each of the pieces when placed together in a certain order with the correct spacing will shine a silhouette

Shadow Lands

SF does not own a big studio to house one their pieces but we are currently considering removing all the lounge furniture in order to house one of these creations.

Design Museum – London

London’s best day out

The Design Museum in London is one of the best places to spend a few hours to get a little bit of inspiration from. In this calendar year Terence Conran and Louboutin have both exhibited there.

Iconic imagery

With the recent small PE day the our fair city hosted it was only right that the museum took note and put on a little sporty aesthetic thingy together. Designed to Win covers the machinery, the clothing, the records and the athletes involved. Brits have become cycling obsessed since the TdF and the Lympics and there are some examples of the amazing machinery used. Plus some old school bikes from by gone years.

Angel shoes

The exhibition touches on the brands involved with making big time sport and also features pieces from McCartney, Yamamoto, House of Holland and Hussein Chalayan.

Girl I’ll House you

On the second floor you have the Digital Crystal with Swarovski working with a variety of artists, illustrators, designers et al to create a myriad of amazing crystal installations. Then the resident room has a variety of new up and coming talent displaying their wares.

Crystal bizniss

My particular favourite from Yuri Suzuki in collaboration with Masahiko Shindo using one of the most iconic pieces in British design history to create a wireless radio.

Listen, dance and plan your route

David Bailey’s Eastend

Soaking up Bailey

The combination of David Bailey photographs and the Eastend should be a match made is visual heaven, and that was true to a point, a rather limited point.

Reflections…

The exhibition housed out at Compression House on the Royal Albert Docks was rather like a entree, the main meal seemed to have been with held back. Sold as charting 60 years of the Eastend of London was a bit of an over sell, there were some brilliant shots form Bailey’s youth with his family members and him as a child, which were amazing, beautifully aged and dog eared, with an amateur feel that added to the romance of the shots.

The brilliant old shots of Canning Town, Bethnal Green and Brick Lane in the 60’s are striking. To see how the Eastend has and hasn’t changed in the course of half a century was truly striking and beautiful.

Off Spitalfields and Commercial Road

The colour shots of the 60’s mostly in boozers were another highlight, featuring normal Londoners in their natural habitat with a pint or a Babycham, fag in hand. But why limit it to six shots? The story of how Bailey spent time with the Krays in the inner sanctum at safe houses is quite an intriguing one which is covered in one, albeit beautiful and sinister shot. The colours and the looks on the despicable twin’s faces tell a thousand stories but it left me wanting more…

The most disappointing part though was the more modern shots, the 1980’s seems to have missed out on how colourful the times were, there political unrest and the amazing fashion faux pas of the time.

Into a new Millennium and again pretty thin on the ground. The Eastend and Canning Town in particular has undergone huge chances, for a start the whole Olympic experience has not really been reflected.

The shots in the collection are beautiful and emotive, as you would expects from one of the world’s most celebrated photographers, using a combination of film and digital camera, in black and white as well as full colour, covering landscapes and people. Bailey is an iconic photographer for our time, self taught and a real Eastend hero, for the shots he has there it is worth seeing, but for £7…

Bailey B+W

One final gripe, the collection was hung in a room with huge lights which reflected off of the glass, ruining the impact of the images. Basically Bailey was let down on this on.

All my family and are originally from London and I was hoping to get more of a snap shot of the Eastend that my old Nanny May May and Granddad lived in, worked in and left many years ago. Now what the hell do I know about curating an exhibition but maybe a little more depth is needed?