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.    

The iconic Iranian arts festival that was ended by the revolution

For a decade between 1967 and 1977, the Festival of Arts was held among the ancient ruins of Persepolis and Shiraz, two ancient Persian cities. The festival, which was always held in the summer, was brought to an end by the Iranian revolution of 1978 out of fear for the safety of its performers. It is now the subject of a new exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery in London, which has brought together original theatre posters, programmes and archive film and photographs from the festival. In its heyday, it was an eclectic melting pot of music, theatre and performance hailing from both East and West. A number of iconic performers took to the stage, including Indian sitar player Ravi Shankar – who famously inspired the Beatles, and the American composer John Cage. As well as music, avant-garde experiments in other art forms were prominent. American dancer and choreographer Merce Cunningham’s dance troupe performed calisthenics – synchronized physical training — among the ruins. A play by English poet Ted Hughes and Iranian author Mahin Tajadod, Orghast, …

An eclectic life: Brion Gysin’s North African odyssey

The unconventional British artist Brion Gysin (1916-1986), whose work was heavily influenced by North Africa’s Sahara Desert, is the subject of an intriguing solo exhibition at London’s October Gallery, called Unseen Collaborator. The Africa-focused gallery has had a long relationship with Gysin, being the first to show the artist’s work in the UK in 1981. This new exhibition brings together a number of previously unseen paintings, from Marrakesh crowd scenes to calligraphy and grid works and architectural photographs. It also shows us Gysin’s work in other fields, including collaborations with writers and musicians like the jazz maestro Steve Lacy; and a rarely-shown film of the artist by Francoise Janicot, Brion’s Devils. The work on display spans three decades, from the 1950s to the mid-1980s. Gysin had his first retrospective in the United States in 2010, but is little-known in his home country, perhaps due to the fact that he spent most of his life abroad. Influenced by cultural practices in New York, London, Paris and Tangier, Gysin produced thoroughly eclectic work and was once described …

Clouds talking: Yo-Yo-Gonthier and the erasure of memory

The group show Presences, at the Ivory Coast’s Galerie Cécile Fakhoury, brings together the work of four artists: Nestor Da, François-Xavier Gbré, Yo-Yo-Gonthier and Cheikh Ndiaye. The gallery has been turned into a shared studio space for the exhibition. Yo-Yo Gonthier’s work (seen in the photo above) is inspired by exploration, conquest, discovery and voyage, both of the physical and fantastical kind. Through film, drawing, printing, photography and performance, the artist “invites the viewer to a historic reading of universal forms and subjects,” the curators said. “Yo-Yo Gonthier is a composer – of lines, of meaning, of sounds. The materiality of his work is the result,” they added. Yo-Yo Gonthier was born in Niamey, Niger, in 1974. The artist now lives and works in Paris. His work deals with the erasure of memory in the Western World through its preoccupation with speed, technology and progress. To continue reading this article, please subscribe to the September/October 2015 issue here, or by searching for The Kurios App on your mobile device. Presences in on at Galerie Cécile …

Double take

The pioneering Argentine photographer and filmmaker Horacio Coppola (1906-2012) was a key Modernist figure. He was one of ten siblings born to Italian immigrants in Buenos Aires at a time when photography was only an emerging art form. He travelled to Europe in the 1920s and 1930s, where his early experiments with photography began to take on a Surrealist edge. Coppola is the subject of a new retrospective at New York’s MOMA, alongside his wife German-born Grete Stern, also an artist. Coppola enjoyed walking the streets of London, waiting for moments of Surrealist uncanniness to appear. In this photo, taken in London in 1934, clothes and shoes for sale outside a shop swing in the wind, giving the strange sensation that they are being worn. In another photo in the exhibition, also taken in London in 1934, he photographed a display of various antiques at a flea market in the city, including the reflections of passers-by in the mirrors. Viewed more closely, the reflection of a sculptural bust can be seen in the mirror too, …

Violence meets art

Colombian artist Doris Salcedo (b. 1958) is the subject of a new retrospective at New York’s Guggenheim Museum. Over the past three decades, Salcedo’s sculptures and installations have addressed the often-violent history of modern-day Colombia. Her work also addresses other forms of social injustice, some of which are the result of colonialism and racism. The exhibition, displayed over four floors, features the artist’s most important series, made between the late 1980s and today. It also includes a video documenting her site-specific public projects and architectural interventions. Check out the latest issue of The Kurios for more exhibitions news from around the world. Doris Salcedo is on until October 12th 2015 at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York. Photo: Doris Salcedo, Plegaria Muda (detail), 2008–10. Wood, concrete, earth, and grass in 122 parts, dimensions variable. Courtesy Alexander and Bonin, New York.

Revolutionary in Brazil

Tarsila and Modern Women in Rio at the Museu de Arte do Rio pays tribute to a number of female Brazilian artists, who worked between the end of the 19th century and the end of the Second World War. The women featured were all selected for the revolutionary work they did, albeit in very different areas of creative production. Tarsila do Amaral (1886–1973), known simply as Tarsila, is the central figure of the exhibition. Considered to be one of the leading Latin American modernist artists, she was a member of the notorious Grupo dos Cinco (Group of Five), perhaps the biggest influence on modern art in Brazil. She is also credited with having inspired Oswald de Andrade’s famous essay Manifesto Antropófago (Cannibal Manifesto), a key Brazilian cultural text which argued that the country’s history of of “cannibalizing” other cultures is its greatest strength. Tarsila and Modern Women in Rio is on at the Museu de Arte do Rio until 20th September 2015. Photo: Tarsila do Amaral, O Lago (The Lake) (1928). Courtesy of Museu de Arte do Rio.

History of violence

A dynamic new exhibition at the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)  brings together the work of several international artists whose work has strong social and political themes. Featuring the works of Brazil’s Jonathas de Andrade, Argentina’s Leon Ferrari and Lebanon’s Walid Raad, the show includes works dealing with the conquest of Brazil by the Portuguese, the military coup in Chile, the civil war in Lebanon and the Tiananmen Square Massacre in China. Photo: Liu Wei, Unforgettable Memory (2009). Courtesy of MALBA. Memorias Imborrables (Indelible memories) is on at MALBA until 20th August 2015.

Blurred lines

In Boris Nzebo’s multi-layered works, human heads merge with urban cityscapes. These boldly coloured and patterned works evoke the visual dynamism of a West African city. Born in 1979 in Gabon, Nzebo now lives and works in Cameroon. He draws his subject matter from his hometown of Douala, where he is particularly inspired by the elaborate hairstyles of locals, which often feature as hand-painted advertising illustrations in West African beauty parlours. To continue reading about Boris Nzebo and see more images of his work, read the July/August issue of The Kurios. Photo: © Boris Nzebo. Photo courtesy of Saatchi Gallery, London.

Bold enigmas

You could be forgiven for thinking that some of the work by Chinese artist Zhu Da, better known as Bada Shanren, is by a contemporary artist. Born in 1626, Bada Shanren is remembered as reclusive and somewhat eccentric. He produced highly individualist works which were daring for their time, some of which have been brought together for the exhibition Enigmas: The Art of Bada Shanren, at Washington’s Freer Gallery of Art. The artist,who was born a prince of the Ming imperial house, later retired to live a secluded life as a Buddhist monk. It is said that he suffered from epilepsy and became dumb. The direct, expressive style of his ink paintings of birds and flowers does not jar with contemporary viewers. His work has been very influential in China but also in Japan, where his bold style is particularly appreciated for its similarity to Zen painting. To continue reading about Bada Shanren, check out the July/August 2015 issue of The Kurios. Photo: Lotus, Bada Shanren (Zhu Da) (1626-1705). China, Qing dynasty, ca. 1665. Bequest from the collection of Wang Fangyu …

Image society

Brazilian artist Leda Catunda’s new exhibition at São Paolo’s Galpão Fortes Vilaça brings together paintings, prints, watercolours, collages and sculptures. Leda Catunda and the Taste of Others also features printed wallpaper made especially for the show. All of the works being exhibited were made following the same structure as the drawings on the wallpaper, as the artist tries to convey a sense of unity within her diverse practice. In Catunda’s work, patterns normally originate in watercolours, to then be replicated and multiplied in prints. She normally gives these same patterns body in her paintings and sculptures. The show also features a number of pop references, used by the artist as a way of questioning the concepts of beauty and exoticism. Please read more about Catunda and see more images of her work in the May/June issue of The Kurios. Photo credits: Leda Catunda, MG – Mulheres Gostosas, 2014. Courtesy of Galpão Fortes Vilaça. Photo: Eduardo Ortega.

Chanting with forms

The Indian artist NS Harsha draws on a broad range of influences including Indian artistic and figurative painting traditions and popular arts, as well as western art. His quietly philosophical practice mixes personal experience with shared narratives and broader socio-political themes. The artist has described the process of producing these works as ‘chanting’ with forms, as though the process of making them were a musical composition. He has also said that the intensity of life in India, which has one of the largest populations in the world, constantly forces him to think about human form. To read more about NS Harsha and see more images of his work, subscribe to the May/June issue of The Kurios. Photo: NS Harsha, Mooing here and now (detail), 2014. Courtesy NS Harsha and Victoria Miro, London. © NS Harsha.

Lunar mysteries

Eugenio Cuttica: The inward gaze at the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes in Buenos Aires brings together the paintings of the Argentine artist Eugenio Cuttica from the 1970s to the current day. The first part of the exhibition presents Cuttica’s early works, in which he grappled with new forms of expression. Cuttica was part of an expressionist revival that took place in Argentina in the 1980s. This room also includes a painting by Argentina’s most celebrated impressionist painter, Fernando Fader, which Cuttica selected from the museum collection himself. The second room showcases a series of Cuttica’s paintings from the 1980s and 1990s which present large-scale mythical themes. Finally we are presented with a series of the artist’s latest works, centred on the representation of a little girl known as Luna (Moon). In these semi-fantastical paintings, the figure of the girl dissolves mysteriously into a landscape, suggesting a ghostly presence. Eugenio Cuttica is featured in the May/June issue of The Kurios. Get your copy here. Photo courtesy of Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes.

Paper people

The first solo show of the Ivorian artist Yéanzi is taking place at Cécile Fakhoury Gallery in Abidjan, Ivory Coast. In Yéanzi’s mixed media paintings, he blends together successive layers of press cuttings onto canvas. He then melts plastic on top to form human images. The result is ambiguous and powerful imagery. Yéanzi is featured in the May/June issue of The Kurios, out now. Get your copy here. Photo courtesy of Cécile Fakhoury Gallery

Desert hope

An exhibition at the Museo de la Memoria in Santiago,Chile, is showing 58 photographs from the Flowers in the Desert series by New York-based photographer Paula Allen. These photographs tell the story of a group of Chileans, known as the women of Calama,who spent 17 years searching for their relatives who disappeared after the 1973 military coup of General Augusto Pinochet. In the first few months after their disappearance, the women of Calama met in secret but in time, frustrated by the lack of state information about their loved ones fates, they took to the desert themselves with shovels to try to find the bodies. The husbands, fathers and brothers of these women went missing during the infamous Caravan of Death, a term used to describe the journey taken by five soldiers to four northern cities. They murdered a total of 72 people on their way, including 26 men in the city of Calama. Their bodies were buried in a secret grave in the desert. Continue reading about Flowers in the Desert in the May/June issue of The Kurios, out …

Runaway genius

A celebrated artist in Mexico, the British-born surrealist painter Leonora Carrington (1917-2011) was little-known in her home country for most of her lifetime. Her unique, mysterious paintings have only recently begun to garner attention in the UK, four years’ after her death. Please continue reading in the May/June issue of The Kurios, available now. Photo: Leonora Carrington, The Pomps of the Subsoil (1947). Robert and Lisa Sainsbury Collection, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts University of East Anglia. ©Estate of Leonora Carrington/ARS, NYand DACS, London 2015.