Street Art Spotlight: DALeast and Augustine Kofie

posted by – 04/25/16 @ 1:15pm

DALeast

Who: Street artist, painter, sculptor, and digital artist from China (currently living in South Africa)

Where: London, Morocco, Spain, Austria, Milan, and more

What: Paints animals using swift strokes or a combination of shard-like, fragmented shapes. For him, animals are an appropriate subject through which we can study the human condition.

Instagram: @daleast

Website: daleast.com

 

Augustine Kofie

Who: Self-taught LA-based street artist

Where: Portland, Mexico, Germany, Paris, Japan, and more

What: In trying to maintain a sense of balance in his work, Kofie synthesizes seemingly contradictory elements in his work, such as using earth tones to flesh out deconstructed, futurist shapes. He incorporates many influences, from music to architecture to typography, in his sketchy, draft-like works.

Instagram: @keepdrafting

Website: keepdrafting.com

Street Art Spotlight: Niels “Shoe” Meulman and Adele Renault

posted by – 04/19/16 @ 12:38pm

Niels “Shoe” Meulman

 

Who: Visual/street artist, graphic designer, and art director based in Amsterdam who often collaborates with Adele Renault both in making art and running Unruly Gallery

Where: Los Angeles, the Netherlands

What: Launched in 2007, his Calligraffiti movement, as the name indicates, is defined by the fusion of graffiti and calligraphy.

Instagram: @nielsshoemeulman

Facebook: Niels Shoe Meulman

 

Adele Renault

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Who: Artist who works on anything from small canvases to giant walls and, in collaboration with Niels Shoe Meulman, runs Unruly Gallery in Amsterdam.

Where: Brussels, San Francisco, Germany, the Netherlands

What: She paints hyper-realistic images of people and things that many people don’t take the time to observe closely to critically, from faces and the elderly to the homeless and pigeons.

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Instagram: @adelerenault

Website: adelerenault.com

 

The “Truth Booth” is going on a roadtrip

posted by – 04/12/16 @ 2:58pm

People waiting in line at the Truth Booth in Brooklyn.

Since it was first installed in Ireland in 2009, Hank Willis Thomas’s Truth Booth has travelled around the world providing audiences a space to disclose the/their/a truth. Prompted only with the words “the truth is…,” visitors to the the inflated speech bubble divulged personal information and thoughts ranging from serious financial hardships to a steadfast belief in unicorns. But while Thomas has taken the Truth Booth to the other side of the world and back, 2016’s destinations will remain within America’s borders.

In 2016, Thomas hopes to bring the piece to each of the 50 states (funded by this Kickstarter campaign). But why limit the inflatable’s domain to the United States alone? Because it’s an election year. And, as Thomas contends, an important one at that. Giving audiences the opportunity to voice their opinions and their truths, then, is more important than ever.

For Thomas, election years signify the times when it is most critical for people to listen to and understand other people. While other people’s truths may differ, they are nonetheless true, in a sense, as at least one person believes it. Elections in the 21st Century have proved to be some of the most contentious and dramatic in history, so we often get caught up in the theatrics and comedy of loud, frivolous debates and controversial, satirized characters. Thomas wants to draw our attention back to our individual voices and truths so that we may maintain unique perspectives and prevent other people (namely, attention-grabbing candidates) from speaking for us. Through the Truth Booth, Thomas impresses the idea that everyone’s truth is (in theory) valid.

Street Art Spotlight: Herakut and Rone

posted by – 04/07/16 @ 4:00pm

Our street art show and the beginning of the Nashville Walls Project is barely a month away, so over the next few weeks we will spotlight the artists to be featured at the gallery and on the walls of Nashville. First up: Herakut.

 

Who: Duo from Germany

Where: Their street art can be found internationally, from London to San Francisco to Melbourne.

What: Narrative in nature and predominately dark in color, the duo’s work often includes figures with oversized, emotive eyes that are accompanied by thought provoking text.

Instagram: @herakut

Facebook: HERAKUT


 

Next, Rone.

Who: Street artist based in Melbourne, a city with impressive amounts of street art on its walls.

Where: Melbourne, London, Malaysia, Miami

What: While he is well known for his stencil art in highly-trafficked areas of Melbourne, his most well known work incorporates close-up portraits of women’s faces who gaze upon passersby on the street below.

Instagram: @r_o_n_e

 

The 2016 Presidential Race meets the NEA

posted by – 04/05/16 @ 3:39pm

Barbara Kruger’s piece, inspired by Hilary Clinton’s campaign, virtually copies the artist’s famous “Your body is a battleground print” with a few (more political) adjustments.

The presidential race is everywhere – we see it on TV, hear it over the radio, and read it in the newspaper. Now, thanks to Artists at the Front, a project cultivated and promoted by the National Endowment for the Arts, the race is breaking into the art world: the four main candidates (Clinton, Sanders, Trump, and Cruz) will each be followed and studied by an established American artist, who will then create work that represents each politician and the policies they represent.

As Hyperallergic notes, this project is a first for the NEA, which until now purposefully distanced itself from controversy. In contrast to the agency’s previous projects, Artists at the Front involves already-controversial personalities and policies, particularly those of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders. Richard Prince will be working with Trump, and photographer Ryan McGinley will work with Sanders. Tagging along with Hilary Clinton and Ted Cruz will be Barbara Kruger and Romero Britto, respectively.

Perhaps most interesting is the artists’ commitment to the project. Prince, the “enfant terrible” of the art world,” admits that Trump is a fascinating character. While his policies and personality offend and divide people, Prince is attracted to the “interesting guy.” Besides the appeal of involvement with political characters, artists embraced the challenge of being selected for the project. As the article notes, a thorough vetting process tested the artist’s drive to be “at the Front.”

The project will also draw more attention to art policy and politicians’ involvement with the arts. Interestingly, the most talked-about candidate also has the most controversial stance on the arts. For decades, Donald Trump has demonstrated and vocalized a disregard and disrespect for art and its conservation. Again, this is a way in which the NEA, which Trump has vowed to defund, is inserting itself in a competitive political arena it used to always keep at arm’s length.

Kuzana Ogg: About the artist of our current exhibition

posted by – 03/29/16 @ 12:31pm

At the gallery, we are currently showing Kuzana Ogg’s series, Yasna. This series exemplifies the artists ability to create intricate patterns that both contradict and complement the more obviously bold and defined geometry that initially catches your eye.

As the Ogg told Canvas, a blog by Saatchi art, the primary influences of and major themes in her work are “botanical and biological entities, urban geometry, and pattern.” Botanical themes are particularly visible in the soft, organic patterns nestled among more harsh rigid shapes that reference the geometry and structure typical of major urban centers like her native Bombay.

Perhaps the most helpful and important facet of Kuzana’s work is that of her background and her ultimate inspiration: her childhood experience in Bombay. Born there in the 1970s and residing there with her grandparents until she moved to London as a child, the city left a permanent mark on Kuzana’s artwork even when she had long since moved away. Her childhood experience determined the principles that guide her work to this day. The artist puts it best:

My early years in India were flooded with noise, color, and fragrance. My grandparents’ home in Bombay was somewhat buffered from the outside chaos of people and cars by lush gardens. This paradise of quietly growing coconut trees, exotic lilies, and always newly turned wet red earth was invaded hourly by squalling parrots and barbarous crows. Their cries filtered through the foliage as though they were the softened echoes of the havoc on the streets.

Going anywhere in Bombay requires infinite patience and time. A simple errand to get a plastic bucket devolves into an all-day affair involving epic traffic jams and monsoon-huge waves crashing over the seawall. But, even as a very small child—I was easily distracted by the lurid Bollywood billboards rushing past the car window and promises of notebooks with endpapers of fuchsia block-printed flowers and new erasers in the shape of rabbits or fried eggs.

The general pandemonium of Bombay in the early 1970s serves as a visual alphabet. Through my travels and migrations, this alphabet continues to recombine, developing into a painterly language. In any form of communication, I have found the principles of restraint and balance to be the most formidable and eloquent.

Knowing this information about the artist, about her personal history, allows the viewer to understand the work on a deeper level (which, with abstract art, can often be hard to achieve). We are honored to present this work to Nashville audiences and to welcome viewers into a more colorful and (hopefully) balanced space.

Don’t forget to stop by the gallery Friday, March 29th, during the Art Crawl to see this fantastic show!

To see more of Kuzana’s work, visit her website here.

Sculptor brings free WiFi to people of Havana

posted by – 03/24/16 @ 3:56pm

People using Kcho’s free WiFi point at his studio in Havana. Photo: Juan Suarez, Havana Times.

Cuban sculptor Kcho is working with technology powerhouse Google to help improve internet access and quality in Cuba. In a space where Kcho normally creates his work, Google has installed computers and devices that allow 40 people at a time free access to the internet. Without the space and the appropriate equipment, WiFi access in Cuba is expensive, government controlled, and hit or miss (at best). In more developed countries, internet users don’t think twice before logging into their email at work or checking their Instagram feed as they walk down the street to grab lunch; there is WiFi or cell service virtually everywhere. In Havana, though, this new space is one of the only reliable hotspots. Outside of the studio, you find people stopped at seemingly random places just because they received a blip of WiFi signal. For them, obtaining a signal is an active process. While Kcho counts the Castro brothers among his close friends, he constantly worries about whether or not the needs of all Cubans are met. His dedication to providing affordable, accessible internet, then, is a logical step to improving day-to-day life in his community.

The choice to give up his personal studio for the daily use of Havana locals (who are very likely strangers to him) is striking. The use of an artistic space for a very practical purpose embeds that practical process with more meaning, it seems. As such, the converted space begs questions to be asked:

Why not install the project in a more neutral space whose sole use is that of computer lab-slash-communication center?

Why keep the space open for such long hours every day when many artists would languish at the though of letting outsiders into their personal creative space?

Why is an artist facilitating this project instead of business or the government?

While Kcho’s space (with Google’s help) offers a practical service to Havana residents, its presence in an artist’s studio adds another dimension to the conversation surrounding the project. The artist’s attention to and passion for the project casts the issue as more of a cultural and social light; it becomes less an issue of infrastructure. If a government program had implemented the change perhaps it would have gone under the radar more. But, in this case, it took an artist collaborating with a foreign company to give the people what they so wanted and, in the eyes of Kcho, needed. Perhaps Kcho and Google’s will solve the problem enough to satisfy the community. But a lack of internet availability (and the lack of recognition of the problem by the powers that be in Cuba) could also symbolize a divide between a government and its people in terms of understanding the population’s needs.

The artist who tricked the Google algorithm showing at Biennale of Sydney

posted by – 03/17/16 @ 2:10pm

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Screenshot from Roth’s “Internet Landscapes: Sydney 2016″

Evan Roth’s work often relies on the internet and its intricacies to pull off entertaining, often impressive, works of art. In works past, he’s gamed Google’s algorithm and exposed the winning moves needed to beat Angry Birds, both feats that are seemingly impossible to the everyday Internet user.

In his work for this year’s Sydney Biennale, though, he stripped down the technological requirements of his typical process by going into remote Sydney locations with just a video recorder. While viewers will engage with the work online, as they do with Roth’s other work, the videos captured in Sydney allow viewers to interact with the physical side of the internet – the man-made cables that we rely on to connect us to the internet-at-large. Roth’s videos focus in on these cable where they emerge from the ocean, which begs more questions of the relationship of nature and technology (more specifically, the Internet).

Some of Douglas Coupland’s de-recognized faces. Photo: Daniel Faria Gallery.

Other work in major exhibitions this year comment on audiences’ growing reliance on the internet and other digital systems. At the Armory Show, Douglas Coupland’s “facial derecognition software” brings Facebook’s face recognition software to a physical gallery space. However, like Roth’s work, the result of each subject’s scan (the “derecognition” of their face) can only be received via email. Both artists, then, question the role and capabilities of the internet, while still completely relying on it for their projects’ success.

For Roth, a return to more established methodologies like video recording stems from “a sense of disillusionment with the state of life online.” As he describes it, the internet is no longer as new or mysterious as it once was, so he “[finds himself] thinking less optimistically about that space.” In returning to more antiquated technologies and forcing viewers to experience nature’s slow pace compared to the digital sphere, Roth will ultimately draw more attention to all people’s disillusionment with the internet and its role in our everyday and the natural world.

 

Nita Ambani launches India into increasingly global art world

posted by – 03/15/16 @ 3:48pm

Nita Ambani at the Met Breuer show featuring drawings by Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi, which she also helped fund. Photo: Stephanie Diani for the Wall Street Journal.

Nita Ambani is the matriarch of an Indian family worth an estimated $20 billion. Her husband runs the most valuable private company in India, and her family resides in a luxurious 27-story home in Mumbai. But, until recently, Ambani did not have much interest, or at least clout, in the art world as many people of her status and reputation do. However, in recent years, the former dancer has more and more frequently funded shows on an international level, including the Met Breuer’s debut show of Nasreen Mohamedi’s work.

In her biggest art-world move yet, Ambani is setting her sights on opening a museum of her own in India. The move excites many in the art world who already appreciate the support and funding the Ambanis have afforded major institutions like the Art Institute of Chicago and the Met. Notably, the Ambani family have only funded shows in international organizations because, as of yet, shows of such a high caliber could not be brought to India, which lacks an appropriate exhibition space. The introduction of a modern, climate-controlled art space like the one to be opened by Nita Ambani in 2018 is unlike any other India has seen within its borders.

The new museum will launch India onto the global art market stage in a way it’s never experienced. While before Indian artists were represented and showcased at the discretion of foreign curators and gallery directors, India will soon have a space to fill with native artists. In turn, more Indian artists may gain and benefit from exposure that a museum-caliber platform entails. Additionally, it will be interesting to see whether the Indian art market becomes as hot and attention-grabbing as its Chinese neighbors’ with the introduction of more modern art spaces like Ambani’s museum. However, while China’s art market grows increasingly saturated and crowded, India’s is just getting started thanks to Ambani’s support, funding, and passion.

To read the Wall Street Journal’s full write-up on this story, click here.

Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy sequel falls short of the original

posted by – 02/25/16 @ 4:47pm

Damien Hirst’s original Pharmacy restaurant in Notting Hill (1998).

Most galleries or museums prohibit eating or drinking for the sake of the safety and protection of valuable objects they contain. By a similar token, touching the objects is strictly forbidden. How must it feel, then, to enter the space that doubles as a work of art and a restaurant?

Just ask visitors to Damien Hirst’s reincarnated Pharmacy 2 at Newport Street Gallery. When the controversial artist first opened his original Pharmacy in 1997 with an A-list crowd, he climbed the rankings of the day’s hottest artists and ones-to-watch. The “sequel” (as the Daily Beast calls it) that reopened this week, though, fell as flat as many sequels do. In the words of the article, “it is notoriously difficult for a sequel to recapture the original magic, and unfortunately Damien Hirst is not about to become the London restaurant scene’s Godfather.” While the space incorporates the most startling and impressive features contained in the original Notting Hill location, the same fervor and hype that surrounded that opening was far from reach this time around.

Regardless of the space’s sometimes-questionable cohesiveness and odd menu features, the artist subverts the stereotypical role of and etiquette required in a gallery. The first Pharmacy more effectively threw people off guard and stimulated conversation, while Pharmacy 2 appeals more to a crowd just looking for a quick and solid bite. But for each setting, Hirst subjects the viewer (or diner, in this case) to a new experience, confronting them with objects that intimidate them both by their artistic purpose and their sterile, medicinal usages. And while one couple noted their satisfaction with the meal, I can’t help but wonder if the food, and for all intents and purposes the art itself, is a bit less savory considering what surrounds it and constitutes it.