Category Archives: Art Fairs

“Folkestone triennial review – beached bungalows and giant jelly mould pavilions,” By Skye Sherwin

Richard Woods’ Holiday Home … inspired by a leaflet inviting Folkestone locals to sell up and make way for the wealthy. Photograph: Thierry Bal

“Folkestone triennial review – beached bungalows and giant jelly mould pavilions”

                 ‘Antony Gormley sculptures lurk under the promenade, Richard Woods invades town with huts for second-homers, while Bob and Roberta Smith treats local kids to art lessons. An eye-catching battle is raging at the Kent seaside between rich and poor, social decay and civic pride’

By Skye Sherwin

There’s an intruder among the varnished crustaceans and cat-themed tea-towels in The Shell Shop on Folkestone’s seafront. Admittedly it’s hard to spot, a small sculpture crafted from shiny shells, their smooth ovals suggesting the work of that great seaside modernist Barbara Hepworth. It’s one of a series by the artist Amalia Pica that have been secreted about the coastal town – in businesses and homes, above archways and beneath telegraph wires – offering visitors to its fourth art triennial a kind of late-summer Easter egg hunt.

It is exactly the sort of thing I’ve come to expect from the Folkestone triennial: an artwork that sees this faded bucket-and-spade resort of shingle sweeps and crumbling cliff-top hotels with fresh eyes, chewing over its present-day economic status and the role of cutting-edge culture within all that. Pica delicately plays on issues around public sculpture and urban redevelopment: the kitsch seaside souvenir joints that are part of the Kentish coast’s lure for the “down from London” crowd, as well as art’s role in its (spotty and not unproblematic) gentrification.

This is the awkward, interesting position the triennial readily locates itself in. The funder is local Saga ex-boss Roger De Haan, whose vision for restoring Folkestone includes culture, upmarket eateries and architect-designed beachfront property. While De Haan has drawn criticism for a harbour development whose target market clearly isn’t those living next door in the town’s deprived East End, the triennial is there to make everyone feel positive.

Loitering … Antony Gormley, Another Time XXI 2013 (Loading Bay). Photograph: Thierry Bal

This year, for instance, the town gets three of Anthony Gormley’s iron men, which have cropped up in odd places the world over. They loiter in the mossed concrete catacombs beneath the town’s promenades, which fill with seawater at high tide. Gormley is one of Britain’s best known living artists thanks to his Angel of the North, and his work has become an easy lightning rod for civic pride.

That seems a necessary, laudable impulse in a town where unemployment, empty shops, Ukip and the social tensions of the migrant crisis have taken their toll. At the same time, with Folkestone emerging as a petri dish of Split Britain’s problems, there’s a lot more to talk about.

Richard Woods’ wacky bungalows, perched in peculiar plots from a cliff edge to a traffic island, strike squarely at the area’s contradictions. Inspired by a leaflet inviting locals to sell up and make way for the holiday-home market, these loud, bright interlopers are deliberately out of place and suggest, in their own, cartoonish way, not just wealthy second homers but wider anxieties about newcomers. Calais’s refugee camp, after all, was straight across the Channel.

Appropriately for a town caught between rich and poor, on the edge of Britain and Europe, curator Lewis Biggs’s 2017 edition of the triennial, entitled Double Edge, claims to tackle “liminal spaces”. Yet often the show itself seems to hover uneasily in an in-between zone.

Liminal space … one of Bob and Roberta Smith’s signs on the harbour wall. Photograph: Thierry Bal

There are lots of sunny, graphic murals slapped across buildings that aim to lift spirits: a Michael Craig-Martin energy-saving bulb in his signature flat, bold colours; Gary Woodley’s sharp monochrome tetrahedra beneath the Coronation Parade; Sinta Tantra’s striped coat of paint for the adult education centre, inspired by a 1947 Folkestone holiday poster, and Sonia Delaunay’s abstract fashion designs. Looking at these works, though, it’s hard not to think of the kind of quirky building wraps encasing new property developments. Cheery and head-turning, yes, but when art is reduced to seaside eye candy it demands little more than a surface glance.

At the other end of the scale are social projects bent on tackling local issues first hand. “Folkestone Is an Art School,” declare a series of banners all across town in Bob and Roberta Smith’s trademark wonky, end-of-pier lettering. A man of his word, he has organised classes for young people taught by the town’s resident artists. Folkestone, Smith implies, already has the creative riches it needs. Meanwhile, in the harbour railway – a dramatic ruin when the first triennialopened, now the site of busy redevelopment – Diane Dever has turned the old customs’ house into an urban studies library and venue for talks about Folkestone’s future. It’s what you wish local councils had the resources and inclination for, and while the intentions are impossible to knock, these schemes rarely have the strangeness or risk-taking that makes art tingle.

Bittersweet … Jelly Mould Pavilion by Lubaina Himid. Photograph: Thierry Bal

Folkestone’s dramatic landscape and mottled past make it a one-off, and the triennial will always be hardwired to its setting. Yet it’s difficult not to yearn for the odd moment when the show might go off-message with work that puts art before local context, confident that the audience will be game enough to follow.

That’s not to say this year doesn’t have its share of unexpected delights, such as in the 18th-century Baptist graveyard where composer Emily Peasgood’s song recordings commemorate its dead. Or Turner prize nominee Lubaina Himid’s pavilion on the shingle in the shape of a vintage jelly mould. With its milkshake pink and white diamond decor a lightly worn reference to sugar and the slave trade, its pleasures are bittersweet.

By Sky Sherwin, Reprint from The Guardian, 1 September 2017, © 2017 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies.

“At the Venice Biennale 2017: the Pavilion of Lebanon,” By David Darcy

SamaS installation at the Pavilion of Lebanon. Courtesy Zad Moultaka Studio at the Venice Biennale 2017: the Pavilion of Lebanon.

“At the Venice Biennale 2017: the Pavilion of Lebanon”

By David Darcy

The Pavilion of Lebanon is at the edge of the Venice Biennale – just beyond the edge, in fact, in a 16th-century boatyard called the Arsenale Novissimo.

To reach the site where SamaS, a display of the work of 50-year-old artist and musician Zad Moultaka is being exhibited and played, you board a boat that glides quietly across the Arsenale, the old fort where a section of the biennale is taking place until November.

Once there, you enter a massive, near-empty space illuminated by dim lights.

As choral music plays from speakers on the side walls, your attention is directed to the far interior wall, which is studded with shiny coins reminiscent of the surface of a mosaic. This is deliberate, as it was inspired by the gold mosaics of the Basilica of San Marco.

The thousands of coins include some with holes in them, suggesting bullet holes.

“This is a gold mosaic but with real coins,” says pavilion curator Emmanuel Daydé.

“It is money that makes war possible.”

The music – 32 voices, each coming from a separate speaker – creates a chorus of mourning and a whirr of energy. Each voice is delicately differentiated, as if pieces in a mosaic.

“This is a wall of lamentation,” says Moultaka, the pianist, painter and composer who designed the space. He expects some visitors might compare it to other commemorative walls, such as the monument honouring the victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York City.

Artist and musician Zad Moultaka, centre, with a model of his SamaS installation at the Pavilion of Lebanon. Courtesy Zad Moultaka Studio

The title SamaS is a palindrome, a word that reads the same backwards and forwards. It means “Sun Dark Sun” and is not the pavilion’s only paradox. The music was written for the Chorus of the Antonine University in Beirut. At times it sounds like the hum of an aircraft engine, and at others like what Daydé describes as “the song of angels”.

Some of that sound is the result of electronic manipulation by Moultaka. The choir sings in the ancient Akkadian language, “so ancient that it no longer needs to be in direct relation with meaning”, the composer notes in the exhibition catalogue.

The space seems almost sacred; yet it is also suggestive of a landscape ravaged by war.

“We don’t know if it’s Ur, Beirut, Aleppo,” says Daydé, “or tomorrow?”

In the centre of the space is an improbable object – an upright Rolls-Royce Avon MK 209 airplane engine from the 1950s, standing like a column and positioned to resemble a statue from the era of Hammurabi, who ruled Mesopotamia in 18BC.

His reign is known for some of the world’s most ancient inscriptions, including the world’s earliest descriptions of laws. Displaying the aircraft engine, an instrument of war, in place of a basalt column from Hammurabi’s time suggests conflict has been present in the region at least as long as the precepts encoded by Hammurabi.

Moultaka explains that the two columns – the code of laws and the airplane engine – “are exactly the same form. It’s incredible that, in the human mind, these forms can look so much alike, even if they’re being used for opposing purposes”.

Daydé adds the columns are used to ask pressing questions about modern life.

“The Middle East invented civilisation, with the first codes of law, the code of Hammurabi,” he says. “And now we’re asking the question: who makes the law in the Middle East? The planes that are bombing?”

The deep themes behind the exhibit made their mark on visitors. On the first day the pavilion was open to the public, some people emerged visibly overcome with emotion. Several said that the extra effort to reach it had been worth the effort.

This year marks the third time Lebanon has had a pavilion at the biennale.

Moultaka has exhibited in the Italian city before, but not in a national pavilion. He and Daydé collaborated on an exhibition of what he called “somewhat monumental paintings” in Venice two years ago, for a collateral event organised outside the 2015 biennale.

This year’s pavilion is the culmination of 15 years of work, says Moultaka.

“As a composer, as an artist, I’ve experimented in an enormous number of ways, looking for an identity, looking for a path,” he says.

“[As Arabs] we’ve been a bit locked into traditional music – which is fantastic, very strong, almost sacred – but how can you be modern with that? That leads to questions about form, and about all sorts of things. That’s where I started and I’ve been working for 15 to 20 years on that mission.”

Another paradox emerges. This quest for modernisation coincided with preparing a project for Venice, a city that seems deliberately frozen in the past.

“Did Venice accelerate this process?” Moultaka asks himself. “I think that I’ve reached a place in my own development that coincides with being at Venice.

“This project crystallises something about where I am along this path.”

Venice did indeed play a role for Moultaka.

“It was at Christmas, in the Basilica of San Marco, and I saw all the gold around me,” he says. “How is it possible, with all this wealth, all this money devoted to something spiritual, that everything else around us is going in the other direction?”

The metal coins, the aircraft engine and the shadow of an airplane over land all combined in his vision.

“Obviously we build, we think, we tell stories – but the goal for me is always, always, emotion,” he says. “This is something that I learnt from Bach. The music of Bach has a sense of counterpoint and composition that’s overwhelming. It’s absolutely extraordinary. What’s comparable for me in painting are the compositions of Paul Klee.”

It still seems odd that the pavilion for Lebanon, a country that has been a cultural crossroads, would be located on the fringes of the biennale’s exhibitors.

“The project determined the space and where it would be,” says Dayde, who adds that he and Moultaka considered another site in a more central location in the main Arsenale.

“The idea was to have something of a pilgrimage, to cross the Mediterranean, as it were, from one shore to the other, like a rite that would be undertaken and repeated. That’s what got us here, on the other side of the Mediterranean.”

“You often hear a place of art described as a common ground,” says Moultaka, looking out on the water separating the pavilion from the Arsenale.

“This is art that is bringing down borders,” he notes, which is perhaps a curious way to describe an installation built around a wall.

“I’m happy that everyone finds his or her own meaning here. From the beginning, I wanted to create something that wasn’t simply Lebanese. Each visitor is finding his or her own story.”

Biennale Arte 2017: VIVA ARTE VIVA
57th Venice Biennale
May 13 — November 26, 2017
Biennale Arte 2017 Info:

By David Darcy, Reprint from The National / Arts and Live, 17 June 2017, © 2017 Abu Dhabi Media

“Activism is top of Venice Biennale’s agenda,” By Gareth Harris, Javier Pes

Mark Bradford speaking about his project Tomorrow Is Another Day at the US pavillon at the 57th Biennale Arte in Venice, Italy. (Image: Awakening/Getty Images)

“Activism is top of Venice Biennale’s agenda”

‘Mark Bradford is among artists using the event to spread humanitarian message’

By Gareth Harris, Javier Pes

The Los Angeles-based artist, Mark Bradford, who is the toast of the Venice Biennale for his US pavilion, delivered on Thursday (11 May) a masterclass in making the art world part of the real world. He said that if you want to work with people facing real hardship, you really have to “listen and be prepared to write the check” for what “they want”, with the stress on the word “they”. Puncturing pretensions, he criticised those seeking a “photo-op” at others’ expense. Bradford was speaking at an event organised during the Biennale’s preview week by Pamela Joyner, a leading US philanthropist and collector of his work, and other African-American abstractionists.

The talk was moderated by Katy Siegel, the co-curator of Bradford’s exhibition, Tomorrow is Another Day, which turns the ideologically loaded space of the neo-classical US pavilion on its head. Forget ivory tower, or Camelot, think grotto and Greek myths meets the scrappy street life of South Los Angeles.

Back home in America, Bradford’s activism includes Art + Practice, a project he co-founded, which provides access to art and support to young people in foster care among others in his local community. Meanwhile, in Venice he has backed a shop where prisoners can sell the products they make in partnership with a local co-operative, Rio Terà dei Pensieri. It will stay open long after the Biennale closes in November—Process Collettivo is a six-year project—as the artist has invested in it for the long-term. Institutions have a responsibility to put others’ needs first he said, particularly when working with local communities “used to being exploited”.

Another leading artist, the Mexico-based, Belgian artist Francis Alys, is showing paintings, drawings and a film produced on the front line in Mosul last year at the Iraq pavilion in the Palazzo Cavalli-Franchetti. Alys spent time meeting refugees of the conflict as well documenting a Kurdish battalion’s campaign to liberate Iraq’s second city from Isis. Why take on the role of a war artist? This war is “medieval barbarism perpetrated and spread with the most modern of technologies”, Alys recently told Artforum. The Baghdad-based Ruya Foundation, the pavilion commissioner, also invited Alys on a research trip last year to refugee camps in northern Iraq where he held a series of workshops.

Francis Alys, Untitled Mosul Iraq, 31 Oct 2016

Numerous national pavilions, works of art in Viva Arte Viva, the main show of the 57th Venice Biennale and its collateral exhibitions aim to raise awareness about people facing hardship and exploitation. In a contentious move, the Tunisian pavilion (The Absence of Paths) is issuing “freesas”—fictional travel documents permitting freedom of movement worldwide—at three kiosks around the city.

The freesa document points out that the current humanitarian crisis stemming from forced migration across the Middle East and beyond underpins the project. The imitation visas are issued by “aspirational [Tunisian] migrants”, nationals who are expected to return home after the Biennale ends.

There are, meanwhile, around 40 refugees, living in Mestre on the mainland near Venice, who are taking part in Studio Olafur Eliasson and TBA-21’s Green Light project in the Central Pavilion in the Giardini. The initiative is led by the Danish-Icelandic artist who has designed a special lamp for Venice on sale at €250 each (proceeds go towards the project). “It takes two people to create a lamp,” Eliasson told us, stressing that the creative process involves both visitors and refugees who cooperate in making the lamps, getting to know each other a little better.

This is the Biennale that wears its social responsibility on its sleeve, literally. The tote bag to be seen with is printed with the slogan: “Refugee Rights” and on the reverse: “Indigenous Rights”, spreading the message that the Australian artist Tracey Moffatt’s pavilion, My Horizon, refers to both. For Vigil (2017), Moffatt has spliced together shocking photographs of migrants in distress at sea with stills of Hollywood stars’ faces frozen in horror.

The US-Taiwanese artist Tehching Hsieh is living proof of how a country’s art can benefit from a migrant artist. Hsieh arrived in New York in the late 1970s as an illegal immigrant. As “Sam Hsieh”, the young artist created epic durational performances, such as Manhattan (Outdoor Piece, 1981-82). In Venice, he shows photographs and ephemera documenting the year he wandered homeless around New York. The show includes an installation documenting another year-long performance. For (Time Clock Piece, 1980-81), the artist spent 365 days with limited sleep, punching a time clock every hour. The curator of the Taiwanese pavilion Doing Time Adrian Heathfield, tells us that “Hsieh’s work is a prescient commentary on the statelessness of migrants”.

Biennale Arte 2017: VIVA ARTE VIVA
57th Venice Biennale
May 13 — November 26, 2017

By Gareth Harris, Javier Pes; Reprint from The Art Newspaper, 12 May 2017, © 2017 The Art Newspaper.

EXPO CHICAGO 2016 & Expo Art Week — September 19-25

September 22-25, 2016
Chicago, Navy Pier

EXPO ART WEEK (September 19–25, 2016)

EXPO CHICAGO 2016, The International Exposition of Modern & Contemporary Art, announces the return of EXPO ART WEEK, Sept. 19–25, 2016. Chicago’s most prestigious cultural institutions will highlight their unique programming and special events including museum exhibitions; gallery openings; installations; public art projects; music, theater and dance performances; and special dining experiences. This citywide celebration of arts and culture will offer art enthusiasts, collectors and curators all that Chicago has to offer.

EXPO CHICAGO takes place September 22–25, 2016. Featuring artwork from 140 leading galleries from around the world, it is presented in conjunction with Choose Chicago and the city of Chicago’s Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) and includes EXPOSURE—a section that affords younger galleries the opportunity to participate in a major international art fair and provides critical opportunities for curators, collectors, and art patrons to survey the best in innovative and emerging programs.

Art After Hours welcomes visitors and the community to experience significant gallery openings during extended hours. On Friday, September 23, 6–9 p.m., citywide galleries will open their doors for guests to get a first-look at new exhibitions while taking in the vibrant local art scene. For a full list of participating galleries, visit

— Jules Cavanaugh


© 2016 I Require Art Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.

Art Basel 2016 (June 16th – 19th)

Yayoi Kusama, Self-Portrait, 2016

Art Basel 2016
June 16th – 19th
Basel, Switzerland

Art Basel is well underway. The art world’s 47th incarnation of its most prestigious fair, boasts over 280 booths from 33 countries and represented are over 4,000 artists. It is a huge global affair. Word is, that despite some poor economic indicators leading up to this 47th Art Basel event — particularly the disappointing New York spring auction results — and global economic and political uncertainties, overall sales are strong. Reportedly, there is a notable increase in active Asian collectors. For top collectors and connoisseurs, it remains the place to be.

And what a show! From an impossible number of stunning show highlights, here are several among the most popular:

— Jules Cavanaugh

© 2016 I Require Art Studios, LLC. All Rights Reserved.