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Published in The New York Times, August 2014
One of the most provocative painters of the human form, the South African–born artist Marlene Dumas doesn’t match the stereotype of artist as solitary genius. Her way is chaotic, more responsive and uncertain — and that is her brilliance.
Related Artists: Marlene Dumas
Published in The New York Times, June 18, 2014
AMSTERDAM — “When I was in the army, they gave me a medal for killing two men and a discharge for loving one.”
So reads the text beneath a haunting ink-and-metallic acrylic portrait of Leonard Maltovich, an American veteran of the Vietnam War who died in 1988 at the age of 45. It is one of 16 portraits that make up “Great Men,” a series by the contemporary artist Marlene Dumas that will be exhibited in St. Petersburg, Russia, as part of Manifesta 10, the European Biennial of Contemporary Art, June 28 to Oct. 31.
Related Artists: Marlene Dumas
Published in Art in America, June 2014
The power of music to inflect mood is the underlying subject of Jaki Irvine’s video Se compra: Sin é (2014), in which the artist conflates the musical traditions of her native Ireland with the sights and sounds of Mexico City, where she now spends much of her time. (The title comprises the Spanish for “purchased” and the Irish Gaelic for “that’s it.”) Projected onto a vast wall, it follows Mexican street vendors going about their daily rounds to the accompaniment of a plangent score composed by the artist that was inspired by Irish sean-nós, or “old style” singing. Occasionally, the action shifts from the bustling streets to a softly lit recording studio, where we encounter the musicians generating these emotive strains.
Published in Modern Painters, June 2014
“I like it because it’s not normal,” said Polly Apfelbaum of her exhibition “A Handweaver’s Pattern Book,” at Clifton Benevento through August 8. While the pieces in the show are made using fairly simple materials — markers, string, ceramics, and textiles — the artist has conceived of her installation as a hybrid of forms: a drawing; a painting; a book whose pages have been removed and hung on the walls. The exhibition is composed of 50 ink-on-rayon works, arranged in rows, and a series of glazed ceramic beads suspended from colored strings that hang from the existing sprinkler pipes on Clifton Benevento’s ceiling.
Related Artists: Polly Apfelbaum
Published in The Sunday Guardian, 13 April 2014
“Blood is quite a special fluid,” I recall Goethe’s Mephistopheles telling Faust while wrapping up a special deal as I turn the pages of Dayanita Singh’s File Room (Rs 3,000, Steidl). It is a bit odd to think of blood — or any liquid, for that matter — while lingering over black and white photographs of stacks and bundles and heaps and rows of what is essentially paper. The teeming population of files — harder paper folded to hold softer paper in each of them — are the opposite of liquid, conjuring up the opposite of blood: they are dry and dust-laden.
As the title of Aveek Sen’s opening text emphasises, it is not a sea of paper, but a “Forest of Paper”. “...the saddest smell is that of wet paper, when after the monsoon floods or a super-cyclone, soggy files, books, maps and newspapers have to be cleaned out. Or, when they are laid out to dry in the sun, the strange, fungal smell of river muck and fish-slime that wavy-wet paper can give out,” he writes, pointing to variations and palpable possibilities that Dayanita’s heaps of paper could take.
Related Artists: Dayanita Singh
Published in The Oregonian , 7 April 2014
Polly Apfelbaum, who lives and works in New York City, is best known for her ambitious installations, in which hundreds of hand-dyed swatches of velvet fabric creep and spiral in hive-like formations on the floor. Existing somewhere between painting and sculpture (the artist describes them as “fallen paintings”), these hybridized installations buzz with vibrant color combinations and complex patterns, even though they are made with minimal means. For her installation at the Lumber Room, “Color Stations Portland,” the artist continues to pursue that minimalist aesthetic, muting the hand-crafted quality of her dyed velvet installations and considering the optic effects and meanings of pure color in isolation.
Related Artists: Polly Apfelbaum
Published in The Irish Times, 27 March 2014
Dorothy Cross’s exhibition Connemara was on view at Turner Contemporary in Margate in January. Now she has reshaped the show for the RHA’s cavernous main gallery space. It is dramatically different and tremendously effective in terms of content and installation.
Make your way through the entrance lobby and you find yourself in a darkened, seemingly limitless interior in which individual works are picked out in pools of light, and two looped video projections flicker on opposite walls.
Still garbed in utilitarian overalls and making a final, ruthless edit of what to put in and what to leave out, Cross provides a concise account of what’s on view and the genesis of the overall project. “I’ve lived in Connemara for about 12 years now. Most of the work [in this exhibition] I’ve made in that time, and a lot of it is specifically to do with Connemara.”
Related Artists: Dorothy Cross
Published in The Guardian, 16 March 2014
A boy the size of life – and eerily lifelike – sits on the top of a kitchen table. Legs crossed, head drooping, hunched, he doesn’t know what to do with his growing self. His seated brother is making the same point more dramatically, slumped right over the table, arms sprawled, extravagantly listless, hungry or tired. They look as if they are waiting to be fed.
To be fed, or to be nourished in some deeper sense: that is the question, the crux of the Irish artist Daphne Wright’s double sculpture. Two lads hanging about the kitchen, getting in the way, who can’t think of anything better to do: the poses are humorous, proverbial, familiar to any parent, and poignant to anyone who remembers the dreamy dwalms of childhood.
Yet these children who have the vestiges of life so powerfully about them are deathly pale and still, as if fading out. Perhaps they could still be revived – that is in the drooping poses, and the kitchen-table scenario – or perhaps they are gone already, absent in more than their dreams. Petrified in cold matter, the colour of chalk, they are here and not here: lost boys, immovable ghosts.
Published in Frieze, 17 February 2014
Not all of Anna Barriball’s art is photographic, but its various forms share a preoccupation with the legacy of casual representation. They are poised between appealing to the remaining recognition of photography’s veracity, and asking us to complicitly acknowledge that this has been diminished to a motif. This theme can become portentously elegiac, as if a casual link to the past automatically granted poignancy to retrospection, and Barriball’s work has a monumental, meditative quality that tends to encourage such an assumption. Like Stezaker, she uses overt artifice - in her case, arbitrary colouring and formalistic patterning - as a counterforce to resist submission to the seductiveness of nostalgia.
Published in BBC News, 6 February 2014
A set of steps in Edinburgh’s historic Old Town, which have been closed off from the public for 10 years, are to be repaired and revamped.
The steps are to get new gates and an art installation by renowned Edinburgh artist Callum Innes.
Callum Innes said: “I was initially approached by Malcolm Fraser to develop an installation that would reclaim the steps as a public space, addressing some of the issues that had led to its closure.
“By placing an infrared camera half-way up the steps we make a hidden part of the steps visible, relaying live footage of silhouetted figures to be superimposed onto the changing colours of the screen.
“The installation directly engages both the architecture of the steps and the public for whom they serve.”
Some of the funding is being provided by Edinburgh City Council from its neighbourhood environment projects budget.
Related Artists: Callum Innes
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