KRISTIE LUI examines works from Hyon Gyon’s solo exhibition at the Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art. Scorched holes in fabric reveal layers of burnt turpentine in Hyon Gyon’s thick impasto paint. Her subjects are abstract and emotional. They manifest in an explosive portrayal of energy which combines the use of Korean textiles, Japanese paper, and haunting symbolism. Hyon Gyon is a South Korean painter who received her doctorate from the Kyoto City University of Fine Arts, before going on to practice in New York City in 2013 where she began her indefinite residency. Encompassing two floors in the minimalist space at London’s Parasol Unit Foundation for Contemporary Art, her work comprises of both two and three-dimensional artworks. Gyon’s compositions produce colourful motifs of spirits and demons proliferating ceaselessly across an abstract background. Her works often bridge imageries of the spirit world of Korean or Japanese shamanism, with the human…Continue Reading

Incarnate

ENERZAYA GUNDALAI critiques Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt at the Victoria and Albert Museum. Museums are special places of worship for me. Walking through the European temple-like halls and devoting two hours to a single porcelain jar in the Rijksmuseum, for example, is a joyous experience. Contemplating the reasons as to why curators have placed such objects alongside each other is fascinating. Hence, when I visited the Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) to see the ongoing exhibition Videogames: Design/Play/Disrupt, I was ready for an informative, yet playful showcase of a sentimental part of my childhood. I was curious to see how the world’s leading museum of art and design, which houses artworks and artefacts spanning over 5,000 years of human history, would frame these modern-day platforms of entertainment. Seeing how the V&A might add to the growing culture of artistic production within video games is an exciting opportunity for viewers and curators alike.…Continue Reading

All Work and No Play

SEEHAM RAHMAN examines femininity and sexual politics in Polly Nor’s satirical illustrations. Sensuality, identity, and femininity are not new phenomena in illustration and storytelling. However, the modern woman of the 21st century represents an evolution of womanhood on an individual and societal basis. Art and design are not only articulating this social change but also actively engaging with it in pursuit of strengthening the perception of femininity. As a woman of colour, I often find it difficult to find myself represented in Western Art in a three-dimensional way. Polly Nor’s art speaks to the faults of my identity, bringing forth the wholeness of who I am. Even my demons are depicted as they really are, next to sensuous depictions of womanhood. My femininity is encapsulated; my fears revealed. The artist urges women to understand the toxicity of the internet-age through pieces such as In Your Dreams. Nor encapsulates the anxieties and responsibilities…Continue Reading

Polly Nor and The Nasty Woman

MARCELA KONANOVA reviews Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde at the Barbican Art Gallery. Laced with elements of originality, Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde offers a unique insight into intimacy in relationships. Paramount figures in European Modern Art explores the bonds that negotiate their creative processes. As opposed to many current exhibitions devoted to the development of a work of a single artist, Modern Couples understands art production as an organic process fuelled by the human connection. The rise of Modernist art styles from the late-19th to mid-20th century is seen as the product of the inevitable collaboration and influence rather than the product of a solo genius. ‘Couple’ is an elastic term encompassing all manner of intimate relationship that the artists themselves grappled with. It was not defined exclusively as monogamous, but inclusive of polyamory, friendship, or any relationship defined by devotion. Each couple brings to…Continue Reading

Love Making Art

INNOKA BARTLETT interviews co-curator of Bahrain Art Week 2018, Kaneka Subberwal. Kaneka Subberwal’s elegant articulations of thought, as revealed in this interview, was reflected in her recent co-curation of Bahrain Art Week 2018. The founder and co-curator of Art Select and Bahrain Art Week discussed the depth and intricacies of ‘Accumulation: Legacy and Memory’, the title and theme of the exhibition. This idea of accumulation unfolded throughout the exhibition, as artworks explored concepts of built up legacies of loss, and the memories of traditional as well as contemporary Bahrain. Kaneka founded Art Select in 2008, an art consultancy and creative platform. ArtBAB (Art Bahrain Across Borders) is Art Select’s flagship enterprise. It is an annual art fair that is aimed at exhibiting Bahrain’s Modern Art movement, tracing its development over the past 50 years. Bahrain Art Week is a project which was generated under ArtBAB. It seems to be cumulative…Continue Reading

The Legacies and Memories of Bahrain

BEATRICE KANIKA TECHAWATANASUK compares the artistic styles of Klimt and Schiele in the exhibition ‘Klimt / Schiele: Drawings from the Albertina Museum, Vienna’ at the Royal Academy of Arts, London. The Royal Academy exhibition of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele’s work marks the centennial commemoration of their craft. Both artists were modernists, secessionists, and expressionists who challenged convention and form. They distorted the body in a way never seen before. This exhibition offers an intimate glimpse into their rare and fragile drawings. More significantly, it allows one to observe the artistic influence the seminal Austrian artists had on each other, demonstrating the intimacy of a master-protégé relationship. The exhibition is organised thematically. Within each theme, the works of both artists juxtapose each other in subtle ways, inviting the viewer to make comparisons. Yet, despite their differences, it is undeniable that Klimt and Schiele’s works are strikingly harmonious. As you walk along…Continue Reading

Bodily Sovereignties

MIER FOO discusses the digitalisation of the fashion industry. A staggering one billion people now use Instagram. Over 72% of these users purchase a product they viewed on the app. Within seconds, carefully curated content can be propagated through millions of users worldwide. As a result, an increasing number of brands are turning towards social media’s immediacy to promote their advertising campaigns. This pervasiveness of digital media, specifically Instagram, has caused a revolution within the fashion industry, permanently altering the way brands interact with their consumers. Sponsored posts, ‘live’ stories, and endorsement from a rising number of ‘influencers’ has allowed brands to target the millennial consumer market at a substantially lower cost than traditional print marketing. It is safe to say that Instagram has surpassed legacy magazines as the main form of advertising. The media industry titan, Condé Nast, reportedly sustained losses of 120 million USD last year after suffering…Continue Reading

Reformations in Fashion

HELENA WACKO explores the juxtaposition of aesthetics and crude reality in the work of photographer Mandy Barker. Every now and again, an image of sea turtles choking on plastic bags or polystyrene trash littered across shores complements headlines on the growing plastic pollution in our oceans. These unpleasant images have become commonplace to the general public. They are perhaps granted a brief concern by onlookers, but rarely a second look. Mandy Barker’s artwork greatly contrasts this salient indifference which plagues the comfortless images. She has devoted her career to photographing discarded litter from oceans collected from around the globe, ranging from the British shores to Hong Kong beaches. Her photographs are akin to celestial constellations. Plastic debris, which are the principal subjects of her images, are laid out to mimic the faraway asteroids mapped out onto our night skies. Her work, much like the cosmos, are a carefully organised chaos.…Continue Reading

Cosmic Plastic Constellations

ENERZAYA GUNDALAI reviews Space Shifters at Southbank Centre’s Hayward Gallery. Beaded curtains, mirrors, translucent columns, and shining stainless steel orbs: these are the forms that inhabit Space Shifters. The Hayward Gallery’s recent group exhibition consists of a haphazard circus of repurposed objects. Unified by refined curatorial work, the artworks challenge preconceived notions of form and identity. Featuring 20 artists, almost all of the pieces in this exhibition relate to two major American art movements in the 1960s known as ‘Optical Art’ (or ‘Op Art’), and the Los Angeles-based era of art production, ‘West-Coast Minimalism.’ Artworks from these movements often explore ways of capturing objectivity. Space is warped to subvert the artist’s presence. This manipulation of form and space produces an ambiguity of shape that ultimately gives the viewer the agency to conceive and interpret the artwork. The exhibition spaces are constructed to transform the physical art object into an immersive…Continue Reading

Mirror, Mirror

JADE BURROUGHES explores the noise of protest art by neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. In a 2017 survey, Spanish visual media artist Daniel G. Andújar claimed that ‘democracy has become an aesthetic matter’. He is not alone in this analysis. He is one of many to recognise art’s political potential. To me, Andújar’s mantra starkly resonates with the work of neo-conceptual artist Jenny Holzer. Since the 1980s feminist wave, Holzer has demonstrated an unrivalled capacity in tearing through dominant socio-political narratives which stifled critical democratic conversation and pacified populations. Noise is vital in intercepting these top-down induced unilateral discourses: one can think of no noisier art genre than protest art. Holzer stands as a frontline proponent of this. In the current political climate, silence is utilised as a weapon to repress the propagation of justice noted most overtly in the use of gag orders to silence #MeToo victims. It is necessary…Continue Reading

Exercises of Democracy and Aesthetics

MAILI NEGI iterates the Swiss Passport Office art experience at Galerie Thaddeaus Ropac. Tom Sachs’ 24-hour live art installation, Swiss Passport Office, gave privileged art enthusiasts a watered-down experience of applying for citizenship to a foreign country. Sachs chose to imitate the issuing of Swiss passports because, to him, Swiss citizenship is ‘the ultimate status nationality, representing wealth, neutrality, and freedom.’ By handing out Swiss citizenship for 20€, Sachs symbolically sold the right to travel freely (without a visa) to many counties. When asked about the experiential installation he declared, ‘I am making the world not the way it is, but the way I want it to be. I want everyone to have the most prestigious passport in the world so they can travel and trade freely’. In today’s political climate this is a statement heavy with meaning. His installation alludes to major social and political issues such as the…Continue Reading

Tom Sachs: Worlds Without Borders

EMER DALY considers Anni Albers’ retrospective at the Tate Modern. In the Tate Modern’s new retrospective of Anni Albers’ geometrically complex textile art, we are made to appreciate the many layers of weaving. From ancient crafts, to decorative art forms, to architectural weave types, Albers’ intricate artworks and designs engage heavily with many types of textile production. This exhibition guides us down the many paths that Albers took her weaving, first as a reluctant student and later as a teacher and renowned artist. Albers’ weavings are filled with contradictions. She takes an ancient media, traditionally ornate, and creates modern and linear patterns instead. She uses soft threads such as cotton, linen, silk and weaves them in bold, almost harsh designs. Neither two nor three-dimensional, her tactile works falls somewhere in between painting and sculpture. While teaching at Black Mountain College in the USA, Albers encouraged her students to ‘imagine […]…Continue Reading

Anni Albers: Multi-layered Master