Wednesday, 28 September 2016

Review of Michael Buthe at Haus der Kunst, Munich

Michael Buthe
Haus der Kunst, Munich
8 July – 20 November 2016

The name Michael Buthe (1944-94) is not that well known outside Germany – or even within – for the expressive artist, who developed his own style from the early influences of European art informel and American minimalism, collecting and collating ideas and artefacts from Christian, Arabic and oriental cultures, creating canvases, sculptures, installations and diaries, died at the age of 50 from a liver disease that had begun with jaundice in his youth. Similarly gay and Roman Catholic, Buthe has been compared to the American painter Paul Thek (1933-88). This five-gallery retrospective at the Haus der Kunst, Munich, presents a chronological overview of his oeuvre, centring on two large-scale installations, recreated from the little documentation that exists. It is enchanting and immersive, meditative and energetic – and certainly succeeds in earning Buthe his place in the canon.

Read the review here

Tuesday, 27 September 2016

Portfolio: Heather Carol

Portfolio: Heather Carol

Drawing inspiration from current social culture, history, mythology and literature, as well as from her own experiences as a disabled, lesbian artist, Heather Carol’s painstakingly intricate egg tempera paintings explore her personal coming out journey through a myriad of symbolism. For example, taking from Celtic mythology, in Journey of a May Femme (2016), the fox symbolises passion, the beech symbolises knowledge, and the birch symbolises renewal and new beginnings. At first glance, one sees just a woodland scene – animals, foliage and maybe a face – but look closer and, beneath the surface, emblems begin to appear: a double-headed axe, lambda, interlocked Venuses, the international symbol of access (or wheelchair symbol)…

Often taking more than 100 hours to create, Carol’s paintings employ the technique of sgrafitto (scratching into the surface of the gesso panel) to create texture – a method she has adopted to suit her needs. Her medical condition, Myoclonic Dystonia, causes tremors and involuntary movements, leading to paralysis and impaired hands. While looking at her finished work, the effort involved is blatantly apparent, no one would guess this extra challenge that has needed to be overcome.

A poet as well as a painter, Carol allows one artistic medium to feed into the other. In the poem to accompany the painting Carpe Diem (2016), she writes:

Have pride,
whether you are straight, bi, trans, femme or gay.
Carpe diem: seize the day.

This is certainly the motto by which she now seems to live.

Also published at DIVA online


Heather Carol
Carpe Diem 
egg tempera on a traditional gesso panel 
52cm x 52cm
Photo: Debbie Humphry

Sunday, 25 September 2016

Interview with Douglas Kotwall of the K11 Art Foundation

Interview: Douglas Kotwall

The third-generation heir of one of China’s most influential business families, Adrian Cheng set up the K11 Art Foundation (KAF) in 2010 when he realised the talent of some of the young artists working in Beijing at the time. With the goal of incubating and promoting their potential, as well as bringing big name western artists to China, the foundation has gone from strength to strength, and now has international collaborations with, among others, the Fundació Gala-Salvador Dalí, the Centre Pompidou, the Palais de Tokyo, the Metropolitan Museum and the Serpentine Galleries and ICA in London. The K11 art mall in Shanghai is claimed to be the world’s first art mall. Cheng is said to have spent HK$20m (£1.98m) placing numerous artworks – mostly by local artists – on each floor. The venue also has 19 exhibition panels in a museum in the basement, where exhibitions change every three months. An art village and an associated artist exchange programme are further aspects of the non-profit foundation.

Read this interview here

Interview with Guan Xiao

Interview: Guan Xiao

Guan Xiao (b1983) works mainly in sculpture and video, exploring how ways of seeing are now influenced by the increasing dominance of digital imagery as a source of information. One of the artists championed by the K11 Art Foundation (KAF), Guan recently had a solo show, Flattened Metal, at the ICA, London, which was the second collaboration between the two institutions. The exhibition is to move to the K11 Art Museum, Shanghai, this autumn.

Juxtaposing references from the past, present and future, and weaving visual, audio and textual material together, Guan explores the notion of conversion: “the different ways our inner selves get in touch with the world outside, and the possibilities that objects disintegrate objects (to construct indescribable nothingness)”. She spoke to Studio International via email from China, shortly after the birth of her first child.

Read the interview here

Thursday, 22 September 2016

Interview with Amy Franceschini

Interview: Amy Franceschini

Amy Franceschini (b1970) founded Futurefarmers in 1995 as a design studio and a residency programme, while she was working in corporate America as a designer. Having grown up torn between two ideologies – chemical farming and a more Rudolf Steiner-based approach – her work often initiates dialogue between those with opposing views. Working on projects across the globe, Franceschini and three fellow Futurefarmers are currently involved in Seed Journey, a project based in Oslo, which is travelling to the UK for a residency at Delfina Foundation, London, and Artes Mundi 7 (at the National Museum Cardiff, 21 October 2016 – 26 February 2017), as one of the six nominated artists for the £40,000 prize.

Studio International met with Franceschini at Delfina Foundation to talk about her atypical background, Futurefarmers, and Seed Journey.

Read this interview here

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

Interview with Olivia Arthur

Interview: Olivia Arthur

For its seventh edition, Brighton Photo Biennial returns to examine the politics of identity and representation through the lens of fashion and style photography. Three major exhibitions include a European premiere of a show from the USA, alongside two new commissions: one on British youth style; the other exploring sexuality and identity in Mumbai and Brighton.

Olivia Arthur (b1980) is a London-based photographer, who has worked for many years on the East-West cultural divide. As one of the two artists involved in the latter collaborative project, commissioned by Photoworks and Focus Festival Mumbai, and together with Bharat Sikka, she spent time in India working with and photographing LGBTQ and women’s communities, in response to the politics of fashion photography.

Read this interview here 

Interview with Conrad Shawcross about The Optic Cloak

Interview: Conrad Shawcross
The Optic Cloak, Greenwich Peninsula

His largest scale project to date, The Optic Cloak is an architectural intervention, commissioned by Knight Dragon, in which the sculptor Conrad Shawcross has created a 49-metre-tall aluminium cladding for a flue stack, 20 metres wide and 3 metres deep, standing on the roadside on the Greenwich Peninsula. Making use of the Moiré Effect, Shawcross has tessellated together triangular panels, creating a disrupted surface, which allows light through, causing a flux, or undulation, as if the ‘cloak’ were moving. During the evening, the tower will be lit from within, continually redefining the shape of the structure and its surroundings. Inspirations come from such spheres as maritime camouflage, cubism and op art. The Optic Cloak has been designed in collaboration with the architectural practice CF Møller Architects.

Watch this interview here