There’s a great exhibition on in London and New York right now that is reclaiming vacant commercial spaces to put on 3 exhibitions. The works in these series make an interesting statement on the socio-political state of the world. Twenty-two emerging and established artists are featured, showing works that tackle issues from self-improvement to the economic downturn. This is an excellent example of a trend in recent years, where pop-up galleries and boutiques are erected in otherwise unused spaces. This further feeds into the exhibitions theme of improving ourselves and society.

More information can be found at the Zabludowicz Collection site. The exhibition began May 10th and runs through June 12th.

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"Beijing Girl," Cheung Xiangming, Oil on canvas

The Affordable Art Fair (AAF)  was two weeks ago, offering the usual combination of interesting, acceptable, and derivative art. In that regard, it’s fair to say that the AAF offers something for everyone, no matter your taste or knowledge level. In the main room, there were a few booths that shone above the rest, but Kings Road Gallery put on a particularly good show. This gallery focuses on Asian and European Art and chose to exhibit some beautiful works from a selection of Chinese artists.

Initially drawing me into the booth (causing me to properly stop and look for the second and last time during my tour of the showroom) were the large-scale portraits by artist Cheung Xiangming. An internet search for this artist will produce little to no information, but his portraits are stunning and certainly noteworthy.  He graduated from the Shandong Normal University in 2003 and has exhibited in Beijing several times since. His “Beijing Girl” series stems from his desire to capture the complexities of the contemporary Chinese woman. His portraits are subtle, relying on the facial expressions of the women to imply meaning and draw the viewer in. Cheung’s technical skill is top-notch, painting in a photo-realistic style and exhibiting an impressive ability to tackle representation of the human face.

"Beijing Girl No. 1," Cheung Xiangming, Oil on canvas

The front room of the AAF was dedicated to the Emerging Artists Exhibition, showing works from artists who have graduated within 5 years. Jotta Contemporary curated the “DEVOUR” show for this area, representing 20 artists and over 70 works they felt stimulated the human urge to consume. There were clear favourites in this room as everyone flocked to works by Arran Gregory, Benjamin Buckley, and Tobias Wooton. This was the only curated exhibition in the art fair and Jotta made the decision to intermix the artists’ works throughout the room rather than keep them grouped onto themselves. The result was that there was an interesting dialogue created as the works played off of each other’s themes and content.

Artist Benjamin Buckley was a particular success, selling all three of his works in the exhibition. Buckley considers himself a painter but works in an unconventional mode. He uses a graphics tablet to hand-draw and paint his images into graphics editing software before printing the works as one-off giclées. Producing his works in this manner preserves their painterly nature, as Buckley restricts himself to one print per image in the way that a traditional painting would be.

"Gold City," Benjamin Buckley, Giclee

In his painting, “Gold City,” Buckley represents a floating, fictitious city bursting forth from Japanese-inspired rays of gold and black. Upside down, supporting the city is a large wooden roof anchoring an American-style sign for a retro diner. The city is a mix of dilapidated structures, pagodas, and traditional Japanese buildings. The combination of Eastern and Western iconography in this manner speaks to today’s changing global landscape, and the bizarre mixture of the new, old, and deteriorating found in developing areas as they reckon between technology and tradition. Buckley’s works focus largely on these trends as the artist states that he has visited India several times and observed the changes in the landscape as Western culture has become a larger part of Indian society.

The next Affordable Art Fair in London will run from October 20th-23rd of this year. There are also AAFs throughout the world in Amsterdam, Bristol, Brussels, Melbourne, Milan, New York, Paris, Singapore, and Sydney.

 

Work by Tim Lewis, Kinetica Art Fair

 

This past weekend, the Kinetica Museum hosted the Kintetica Art Fair in London. The fair was a thematic melting pot, mixing science and the arts, and featured exhibits from a variety of art organizations. The range of works on display was vast, including everything from robotics to light displays. The production of events like the Kinetica Art Fair truly speaks to the growing relationship between science and the arts. The gap between the two fields has been greatly narrowed by the internet in recent decades, as artists have been able to use the web as a platform to launch ideas and promote themselves, but the relationship has much deeper ties. Exhibitors at the art fair use technology as a medium—an idea that is quite complicated (and sometimes controversial), as the further merging of these concepts blurs the mysterious defining lines of “art.” At what point does something move from “design” to “art”? Should the two even to be counted as separate ideas? I have opinions about this, but I have to admit that they’re framed heavily by my personal tastes. In general I have one rule about defining “art”:

art = perception ± intention

With this logic, a great deal of what can be viewed as “art” lies in the hands of the viewer.

The art/science relationship isn’t limited to mechanics and technology. Kinetica Art Fair exhibitor, Anna Dumitriu, incorporates biology into her work. Dumitriu has worked with several institutions that highlight the scientific arts, including the Science Museum in London, Wellcome Trust, and her directorship at The Institute of Unnecessary Research.

"Communicating Bacteria," Experiments with Chromobacterium violaceum, Simon Park

In her current project with the Wellcome Trust, “Communicating Bacteria,” Dumitriu is working with Dr. Simon Park and Dr. John Paul to research bacterial communication. The project includes live bacteria, textiles, and video projections, and is based on the communication patterns of bacteria (which are apparently quite social). The Institute of Unnecessary Research explains a little more,

Dumitriu will work using this new area of research as a basis for the development of a body of new work that will include textile designs with dyes made from bacteria that change colour dependent on the behaviour and communication of bacteria, crochet patterns based on bacterial responses, interactive interventions that are modelled according to the behaviour and communication across bacteria.

The project is an interesting way of highlighting nature’s inherent artistry. In this way, the bacteria collaborate with the artists to produce the final result. Partnerships like these between science and art should influence the way that we talk about art as a concept.

Perhaps a Dada-esque revolution is waiting around the corner…

Work by Carlo Bernardini, Kinetica Art Fair

Work by Dianne Harris, Kinetica Art Fair

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