All posts filed under: exhibitions

An anthropologist from the future: Kapwani Kiwanga breaks with the ordinary

Canadian-born Kapwani Kiwanga was the Commissioned Artist for this year’s Armory Show in New York. Her on-site installation, The Secretary’s Suite, is an interactive installation that investigates the complexities of gift economies. The artist’s visit to the United Nations’ art collection last year inspired the piece. The Secretary’s Suite is composed of a single-channel video and a viewing environment inspired by the 1961 office of the United Nations Secretary General. Through the installation, Kiwanga played with concepts of fact and fiction to explore the practice of gift giving found in popular culture, religious ritual, and global relations. Kiwanga was born 1978 in Hamilton, Ontario and is now based in Paris. Trained as an anthropologist and social scientist, her unconventional artistic practice is characterised by the idea of herself as a ‘researcher’ in her own projects. Her varied practice takes the form of videos, sound and performance. Research areas that have informed her practice include Afrofuturism, the anti-colonial struggle, collective memory, belief systems, vernacular and popular culture. The artist’s work is characterised by a documentary mode of …

The originality & elegance of a little-known style icon

Countess Jacqueline de Ribes (b.1929) is not a household name like other style icons such as Audrey Hepburn or Jackie Kennedy. But to those who knew her, the French aristocrat’s style was like no other. A new show at New York’s Met celebrates her originality and elegance, featuring haute couture and ready-to-wear pieces primarily from de Ribes’s personal archive, dating from the late 1950s to the present. Uniquely, the exhibition also features de Ribes’ fancy-dress balls, which she often made herself by cutting up her haute couture gowns to make something fresh, and subtle. The countess developed an interest in fashion as a child who enjoyed fancy-dress. As an adult, she had no shortage of haute couture designers who wanted to dress her – she would become a muse to many. But de Ribes was not destined to play a passive role. She used what she had learned from her exposure to the haute couturier’s drapers, fitters and cutters to establish her own design business. From 1982 until the mid-1990s, de Ribes directed the business …

Conflict remembered: Jo Ractliffe’s photos of Angola and South Africa

African photography is under the spotlight at New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, with a moving exhibition of work produced in the last decade by the South African photographer Jo Ractliffe. South African photographer Jo Ractliffe (born 1961) explores the themes of conflict, history, memory and displacement with her camera. She has described her work as an attempt to “retrieve a place for memory.” Ractliffe was born in 1961 in Cape Town and currently lives in Johannesburg. She completed her BAFA and MFA degrees at the University of Cape Town. Three recent series of photographs are featured in this show, focusing on recent conflict in her native South Africa and neighbouring Angola. Her earliest series Terreno Ocupado (2007–8) was produced around five years after the end of the Angolan Civil War (1975-2002), during Ractliffe’s first visit to the capital, Luanda. Her images of shantytowns speak of struggle and land occupation, highlighting the vulnerability of the city’s infrastructure post civil war. Her photographs highlight the imprint that the Portuguese colonial occupation of Angola had on Luanda. …

Reinventing the Renaissance: South Africa’s Wim Botha

South African artist Wim Botha’s expressive new series of sketches, More’s the pity, depict Michelangelo’s iconic Renaissance statue, Pietà. These 119 sketches, in oil on canvas and ink on paper, are based on a mirror image of the classic frontal view of the famous marble statue, which is found in St Peter’s Basilica, Vatican City. Botha experiments with colour and line through the repetition of the same modified image, which is seen as abstract in some instances, and figurative in others. In this way, these works disrupt the historical and conceptual meanings of the original piece, and revitalize the work in a contemporary way. Carry on reading about Wim Botha, and see more images of his work, in the latest issue of The Kurios. Photo: Wim Botha. More’s the pity (series of 119 sketches). Photo courtesy of Stevenson Gallery.

The Belgian engineer who captured the lives of Chile’s remote Mapuche

The Belgian engineer Gustave Verniory (1865-1949) arrived in Chile at the end of the 19th Century to build a railway in the remote region of Araucanía, in the mid-south of the country. The region, occupied by indigeneous Mapuche tribes, had not become part of Chile until the 1880s. Verniory came to know a group of Mapuche people, and he began to photograph them, in their everyday attire. He also captured images of the railway’s construction and other viaducts and bridges that had been built as the Chilean government drove modernization of Chile’s remoter regions. His photos document an interesting time in the history of the province when industrialization was rapidly changing the lives of the Mapuche. The government had occupied Araucania in the 1880s to end the resistance of Mapuche tribes. Subsequently European and Chileans settled in the area, with the population of Araucania growing considerably in the early 20th Century. A region of mountains and lakes and fertile agricultural land, it came to be known as the “granary of Chile.” Around one third of …

Bringing abstraction to India: Nasreen Mohamedi

Nasreen Mohamedi (1937-1990) distanced herself from traditional Indian art practices in the early 20th Century, going on to become one of the first Indian abstract artists. Her non-figurative works were highly unusual at a time when Indian art schools were dominated by academic realism and an anthropomorphous aesthetic left over from the colonial period. Mohamedi’s art is now the subject of a retrospective at Madrid’s Reina Sofia that explores the intersections between the artist’s life and work. The exhibition features drawings, paintings, photographs and collages and focuses on the artist’s production from the 1970s. The artist’s career was defined by “the rigours of self-discipline and self-control,” the curators said. Her art leads us towards a “personal vision articulated around a frugal aesthetic and the use of simple mediums, where the mathematical, the metaphysical, the mystical were adopted in her search for a subjective and immaterial world,” they added. Nasreen Mohamedi, Waiting is a part of intense living, is on at the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofia, Madrid, until 11th January 2016. Photo: Nasreen Mohamedi, …

The artist as an agent for change: Russia’s El Lizzitsky

Russian artist El Lizzitsky (1890 – 1941) is being shown for the first time in Ireland at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, alongside the works of a number of Irish artists. One of the most important figures of the Russian avant-garde, El Lizzitsky’s life and career were founded on the belief that an artist could be an agent for change. Born to Lithuanian Jewish parents, he started out illustrating Yiddish children’s books to promote Jewish culture in Russia. He later designed various exhibition displays and propagandist works for the Soviet Union, alongside his mentor Kazimir Malevich. El Lizzitsky also helped Malevich to develop Suprematism, and he was in charge of a suprematist art group known as UNOVIS. Interestingly however, El Lizzitsky developed a suprematist creed of his own, known as Proun. El Lissitzky: The Artist and the State is on at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Dublin, until 18th October, 2015. Photo: El Lissitzky. Proun. Street Celebration Design, 1921. Courtesy of Irish Museum of Modern Art.