Monday, December 30, 2013

Saatchi Gallery

Charles Saatchi and I have a couple of important things in common.  We're both ad men. He is after all the legendary ad man who created the uber successful Saatchi and Saatchi advertising agency with his brother Maurice.  I'm a big fan of contemporary art, as is he. He's now famous as an avid collector. . . Alright, maybe we don't have a lot in common.  I just can't compete, dang it. For example, he was an important influence in the careers the YBAs (Young British Artists) including Damien Hirst and Marc Quinn.  And he is the owner of London's well-known Saatchi Gallery. I wish I had those things in common with Mr. Saatchi. Nonetheless, how could I visit London and not make a stop at the Saatchi Gallery?

It's obvious that Saatchi is a true "artoholic" as he described himself in the title of his 2009 book. A lot of care is taken in the Gallery to ensure the artists' works are presented in the best way possible, with some of the works impossibly difficult to display.  With that, here are some of the things I enjoyed most.

I've seen Yuken Teruya's work several times before, but it always delights and disturbs.  Teruya takes shopping bags, both high end and low brow, and intricately cuts the silhouette of trees into them. Those silhouettes get pushed down into the bags creating tiny, shaded worlds that are surprisingly inviting.  By using brands like Marc Jacobs, Louis Vuitton, or just plain old McDonalds, Teruya's work also makes a powerful statement about modern consumerism and consumption, all the while subversively reminding us of the natural resources required to fuel our throw-away society.

Yuken Teruya, LVMH, 2005, paper and glue

Yuken Teruya, LVMH, 2005, paper and glue

Yuken Teruya, Golden Arch Parkway McDonald's, 2005, paper and glue

Markelo Jacome's kite-like structure swirled windily through a large gallery. The whimsy of this work was balanced by the dragon-like terror the work inspired.

Marcelo Jacome, Planos-pipas n17, 2013 Tissue paper, bamboo, fiberglass, and cotton thread

Annie Kevans' portraits are powerful and disturbing.  Kevans creates images of the world's most famous and infamous dictators.  That's not what makes them so interesting.  She makes those portraits of the villains as children.  The portraits include childhood images of dictators like Adolf Hitler, Benito Mussolini, Joseph Stalin, Kim Il Sung, and Saddam Hussein. Seeing some of history's most evil men as children is a strange reminder of the potential hidden in each young life.

Richard Wilson's site specific installation titled 20:50, 1987, is one of the weirdest works of art I've experienced.  I read about this work years ago and wished I could see it.  It was a surprise to see it installed at Saatchi. The work consists of an entire room filled with used sump oil.  A steel walkway (which was roped off) allows viewers to walk into the middle of the oil-filled room.  In a world that is fueled by oil, this is a mesmerizing, serene work that offers a fantastic critique of who we've become.  Hats off to Charles Saatchi for his willingness to show impossible works of art that remind us of why art matters.

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

The art of the Christmas stocking: A very Haring Christmas edition.

I've been busy creating my annual Christmas stocking. Usually I don’t post the current year’s stocking until next year.  But since the surprise has already been revealed.  And I’m super excited about the results, why not post it now.  It's Christmas after all.

Just a reminder that you can read all of the official Art Lobster Christmas Stocking Posts here, here, here, and here.

You may recall that earlier this year, I had the good fortune of visiting Paris.  While there I experienced an impressive exhibition titled Keith Haring: The Political Line.  While at that exhibit, I snapped a photo of Untitled, June 1 1984 (acrylic on canvas).   I’ve always been amazed at Keith Haring’s ability to draw a line.  This painting is a fantastic example of how his seemingly-effortless lines can come together to create images that vibrate with life and humanity.  Here is the photo I took of the painting.

I used this as my inspiration for a stocking I’m calling The Christmas Line.

After trying to render them in felt, I now have an even greater appreciation for the fluidity and magic of Keith Haring’s lines.  Originally, I had planned to do several versions of these stocking in a variety of colors.  But after using an Exacto knife to painstakingly recreate Keith Haring’s lines, I quickly determined that wasn’t a realistic use of my time.  So this year’s companion stocking capitalizes on Haring’s Radiant Baby, a perfect theme for the Christmas season.

And this year, I was even inspired to create wrapping paper for some of the stocking gifts.  The inspiration came from a massive vase that was on display at the Paris exhibition:

I loved the babies crawling around the lower part of the vase's design.  And it translated beautifully into gift wrap for some very small presents.

Let's hope 2014 brings more amazing experiences that can be memorialized in felt. And a very Haring Christmas to all.

Monday, December 23, 2013

The art of the Christmas stocking: Fashionista edition.

It's now a holiday tradition. So once again, I'm postimg about the custom-made Christmas stockings I create every holiday season.  You can read all about my previous stocking creations here, here, and here.  And because each year's stocking is a surprise, I usually post the creations a year late.

For Christmas 2012, I turned to the world of fashion for inspiration and one of the trendiest fashion brands available today: Commes des Garcons.  Trendy might be the wrong word, because CDG is a long time super brand among the fashion cognoscenti.   And the company's Play label is a darling among fashionistas in the know.  The "heart" which is the label's mascot can be found on celebrity movers and shakers the world over, staring angrily out at the world.  One of the things I find most interesting about Commes des Garcons in general and Play in particular is their willingness to collaborate with other surprising brands. Here's an example of the Play collaboration with Converse.

Last year, I decided to imagine what a collaboration  might look like between Commes des Garcons and the brand that is my annual crazy Christmas stocking.  As always, the stockings are created using the basic materials of Christmas stockingdom: namely felt, beads, sequins, and glitter.  Without further adieu, I give something I'm calling Commes des Christmas.

Yes, the heart has been completely hand beaded and surrounded by black Swarovski crystal polka dots.  Here are a few shots of the details.

And as is the case in recent years, I've also created a companion stocking to hold all the loot.

No beading hear.  Just the magic of felt.  This year's stocking is already done.  I'm not sure I can wait until next year to post the pictures.