Chosen Artist

For the second part of the Summer Project 2017, one artist out of the ten needed to be chosen in order to work with their artwork more closely. The artist needed to be the one that I relate with the strongest, either because their work overlaps with my current concerns, or because their work suggests a new direction for my work that which I find compelling. While writing each blog post, I crossed artists that I could not quite connect with off of the list and it finally came down to two: Wolfgang Tillmans and Pipilotti Rist. It then came to writing down what I liked about their artwork, what I found most compelling, and whether I had the same current concerns or whether I could gain a new direction from the inspiration of their works (green are positive points, red are bad points):
Wolfgang Tillmans

  • Easier to understand where he gains his inspiration and process from
  • Like the way he exhibits his work – inspiring
  • Archiving and recording – collecting
  • Looks at things in different ways compared to others – refreshing outlook
  • Life is an ongoing investigation
  • Evoking ‘beautiful’ emotions out of ‘shocking’ pieces – new direction
  • The variety of pieces from the human body to plates full of food
  • Life may be made of real surfaces but abstraction liberated and illuminated the innate enigma of components
  • Reflection he cannot control everything – new direction
  • Only photographs what he relates to – current

Pipilotti Rist

  • Human body and the way she presents it
  • Inspired by her films – transferring this to other mediums would be fun
  • Don’t necessarily have the same current concerns
  • Don’t quite get her process of working
  • Differences in experience – new direction – but only between men and women – narrow minded?
  • The way in which she displays, creating environments
  • Makes work about unconscious thoughts and dreams of the world she lives in – good or bad?

This clearly showed me that I would be able to gain much more inspiration and have more flexibility through the inspiration of Wolfgang Tillmans. The next step was to write 300 words that outline the core ideas and use of materials and mediums that Wolfgang Tillmans uses to communicate his ideas. Draft one looked a little like this:

Wolfgang Tillmans uses photography to show that life may be made of real surfaces but abstraction has liberated and illuminated the innate enigma of components. His photography is also the communication of the idea and reflection that he cannot control everything. Tillmans also looks at the intimacy between things, especially the detail that people take for granted or ‘forget’ to look at. This can be both comforting and disturbing.
The non-definitive answer of the divison between wanting to control everything and the acceptance of what it actually is, is shown in the materials and physical developing process that Tillmans uses. The methods of translating and developing include exposing to different coloured light sources, folding, made in reverse, and the suggestion of a fold. Photograohs, much like the real world are always in a state of fluctuation, and this inspires the different angles that appear within the materiality of the photograph, and the way in which these are pointed against each other in Tillmans works. The way in which he manipulates the works reinforces that he cannot control everything. Tillmans has previously mentioned that he can only photograph that which he relates to.
The way in which Tillmans exhibties, without the use of nails, which ruins the edges, allows a partial control over some things. Occasionally, his exhibition are arranged in an unstoppable sprawl which is juxtapositioned throughout the space. Once again, this reinforces the idea of uncontrolability for Tillmans, even though he controlled the exhibition space.
“What intrigues me is the tension of the two key qualities of a photograph: the promise of it being a perfect, controlled object, and the reality of a photographic image being mechanically quite unsophisticated. It creases or buckles when it’s too dry, curls in humidity, becomes rigid and vulnerable when it’s mounted, and for that reason, loses its flexibility. I choose to reconcile all this and don’t try to pretend that it isn’t happening. I’ve made all of that part of the beauty of the visual experience. The fact that photographs aren’t permanent is like a reminder of our condition; showing their vulnerability protects one from the disappointment of seeing them fade. The inkjet prints have this built in as a concept: their impermanence is clearly imaginable yet the owner also has the original master print and can reprint the inkjet print when they feel it’s necessary. – ArtSpace
(394 words)

I needed to go back to the drawing board for several reasons: The draft was almost 100 words too long, there were quite a few spelling and grammar mistakes, and for me, some of it just didn’t make sense. I also didn’t want to have the large quote at the bottom as all of it was not necessary to the work that I am doing and the piece that I needed to write. It is for this reason I came up with these 300 words (298 to be exact) to outline the core ideas and use of materials and mediums that Wolfgang Tillmans uses to communicate his ideas:

Wolfgang Tillmans uses photography to show that life may be made of real surfaces but abstraction has liberated and illuminated the innate enigma of individual components. His photography is also the communication of the idea and reflection that he cannot control everything. Tillmans also looks at the intimacy between things, especially the detail that people take for granted or ‘forget’ to look at. This can be both comforting and disturbing.
The non-definitive answer of the division between wanting to control everything the acceptance of what actually is is shown through the materials and physical developing process that Tillmans uses. The methods of translating and developing include exposing to different coloured light sources, folding, making in reverse, and the suggestion of a fold (Frieze, 2013). Photographs crease and buckle when they are too dry, curl up in humidity and become rigid and vulnerable when mounted, and therefore loses flexibility (Artspace, 2015).
Photographs, much like the real world, are always in a state of fluctuation, and this inspires the different angles that appear within the materiality of the photograph, and the way in which these are pointed against each other in Tillmans works. The way, in which he manipulates the works reinforced that he cannot control everything, Tillmans has previously mentioned that he can only photograph that which he can relate to (Frieze, 2017).
The way in which Tillmans exhibits, without the use of nails which ruins edges, allows a partial control over layout and the fluidity of exhibitions. Occasionally, his exhibitions are arranged in an unstoppable sprawl which is juxtapositioned throughout the space, reinforcing the idea of uncontrolability.
Photographs make objects appear perfect and controlled when in reality, they are mechanically unsophisticated. Where photographs are not permanent, it is a reminder of our condition and showing their vulnerability protects our disappointment of seeing them fade (Artspace, 2015).

(298 words)

Artspace. (2015). Wolfgang Tillmans Opens Up on His Art, His Influences, and His Personal Tragedy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Dercon, C., Sainsbury, H., Tillmans, W., Godfrey, M. and Holert, T. (2017). Wolfgang Tillmans 2017. London: Tate Publishing. (2013). Still Lifes. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017]. (2017). Wolfgang Tillmans. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Lange, C. (2017). Crossing Over. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017]. (2017). Maureen Paley | Wolfgang Tillmans. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Ostgut Ton | Zehn, c. (2017). Home. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Tillmans, W. (2011). Wolfgang Tillmans: Darkroom. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Tillmans, W. (2015). Wolfgang Tillmans. What’s wrong with redistribution?. Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König.
Tillmans, W., Donlon, C. and Stahl, V. (2003). If one thing matters, everything matters. London: Tate Publishing.
Tillmans, W., O’Brien, S. and Larner, M. (2010). Wolfgang Tillmans. London: Serpentine Gallery. (2016). Bibliography (english/deutsch). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Vicenta Aliaga, J. (1999). Hypertronix. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].


R. H. Quaytman

H. Quaytman is an American born painter and contemporary artist who and is considered to be working against painting and its old age mythos to encounter the ‘ego’ of painting. Her works as an entirety suggests a many-layered novel or film through the text in both space and time and her suggestion of working in ‘chapters’. Each of these ‘chapters’ are site-specific and include paintings on wood panels using abstract and photographic elements. ‘Each chapter is guided by architectural, historical and social characteristics of the original site (Tate).’ In her works there is the past and the present, depth and surface, and these meet, however the distinctions between them do not falter. ‘Afforded no ultimate resolution, the viewer is set in motion, going from one complex, intriguing visuality to the next.’

The critic Roland Barthes once wrote of the oppositional gesture as the arrogant affirmation of the no. He likened it to a dinner guest who never speaks but whose mute defiance is as ‘loud’ as those who shout. The silent do not say anything, but their silence nonetheless signifies. It signifies ‘I won’t speak.’ It is a form of negation, but one that is perfectly understood and therefore perfectly accountable within table talk. – Vitamin P2

Some believe that there is a hint of inspiration from Quaytmans’ step-father, David von Schlegell, in her works. This is primarily because of the hard angles that can be found in each of their artworks. The angles, however, have come from a variety of inspirations for the artist. The ‘straightness’ of the pieces, and also their size, are determined by the golden ratio, which makes her works aesthetically pleasing. Alongside this, Quaytman often uses ‘dazzling optics with images based on the architecture’ of the building and space that she is exhibiting in (Frieze).

On a very few occasions,’ Quaytman has written, ‘I have had the feeling of being another person in another place with a past and future entirely separate from my own. An inexplicable sensation – as if by accident I had slipped into someone else’s life, a life defined by place rather than culture.’ – Frieze

The way in which Quaytman paints is tickly, on beveld planes of plywood. This transforms the flat surface into a textured one, ensuring the surface of the painting stands and inch or so away from the walls. In her silkscreens, there is a skinny wedge of colour stritations at the bottom, which represent a painting laid flat and seen from the edge. The construction of any of her paintings always emphasises that it is a material object in real space, rather than a metaphorical window in, or on a world or a mirror of it (LA Times).

It’s pretty clear that R.H. Quaytman is in the pro-footnote camp. She has spoken of the drifting, distracted search that serves as preparation for her work. Her personal canon of artistic influences are, for the most part, figures she has come across in this way, people who have almost slipped through the cracks: Polish Modernist sculptor Katarzyna Kobro, architect Anne Tyng and Swedish mystic painter Hilma af Klint. More than that, though, there is the way her work exemplifies and reproduces the mechanics of the footnote: the eye drifting from single-minded attention to a singular object, towards another, more multivalent place. In Quaytman’s work, all glances are sidelong. – Frieze

One of the largest inspirations for R. H. Quaytman is the fact that she has always been creating art, and she has mentioned many a time that she has never wanted to be anything else (apart from a small period of time that she thought about teaching the blind). She would draw endlessly as a child, do weekend projects with her father in the studio and started a print collection and did bookbinding (Art in America).

I want to make paintings that can be read on their own terms, without footnotes. But if, as a viewer, you persist in asking questions, you’ll find answers. – Art in America

Another large experience that she gained while growing up was the ability to see things from two very different perspectives. Unfortunately, her parents became divorced due to multiple reasons and even when they were together, they were able to give these two very different perspectives. Therefore, while growing up, Quaytman was able to have these perspectives as well as her own, almost urging her to make different kinds of paintings and putting them back together. This has further influenced her to refer to the viewer’s movements past a painting. She wanted to change the way people interact with the painting and make them pass the pieces by, rather than viewing them from head on (in the more ‘traditional way). Breaking these up into the chapters, Quaytman works on one or two small caption paintings to help her think less analytically. These are included in exhibitions to act as punctuation: ‘including them in exhibitions punctuates the other paintings the way a comma or period might punctuate a sentence. The arrows set up a contradiction, moving viewers along and drawing them in at the same time. (Art in America)’

Silkscreening has given me access to content without my having to paint it with a brush. I’ve found it liberating. And since any medium or form in painting brings its own cast of ghosts, it has allowed me to tap into a genealogy of painters who have dealt with photography—Rauschenberg, Warhol, Polke and Richter among them. Silkscreening abstracts the photograph, materializes it and snaps attention back to the picture plane. – Art in America

Other artists and paintings also inspire the way in which she works as she often copies artworks as a way to understand them. She has recreated steel sculptures and from here, taken photographs, and some of these have further become paintings. Along with copies of artworks, she has also found it helpful to take other mediums and media in order to transpose their forms and ideas into painting. She has also found that she is inspired by the focus on a given painting’s grammar, syntax and vocabulary. ‘In reading a poem, you notice particular words, and how each is not just that one word, but contains other words as well. The same is true for a painting (Art in America).’ Optical illusions have also given her heavy amounts of inspiration. In previous paintings, she has used a scintillating grid, ‘which was invented to show the blind spot at the center of visiual perception. When you focus on it, your peripheral vision goes haywire (Art in America).’ These visual perceptions also have rules, which are another addition to the inspiration of the artists and paintings. From Quaytman, they are a way to confront what seemed to be problematic about painting – ‘the overbearing authority of its long history, its exhaustion, its capitulation to capital and power. Taking color, dimension, medium, subject matter, even the choice to be a painter—things that might otherwise seem arbitrary—and applying rules to them has given me at least the illusion that I’m free to make something of my own. My rules are inventions—and they continue to generate new possibilities (Art in America).’

I wasn’t there when Fraser re-presented the monologue at Orchard. I didn’t attend the final show where Quaytman’s painting was first displayed. I have never seen the painting in person and I don’t know where it is: perhaps on a collector’s wall or in a storage rack somewhere. Right now, I’m looking at a JPEG of that painting on my computer. You, presumably, are looking at the same image in a magazine, several months from now. We are thinking about painting, but neither of us is looking at a painting. We have become part of the social world of this image, made to occupy of the next level out in the mise-en-abyme it depicts. And both of us will move on, soon enough, and look at something else. Somehow, I think the painting knows all this. – Frieze

Quaytmans’ full biography can be found here along with her bibliography here. She does not have her own website but is represented by the Miguel Abreu Gallery, New York.

Pipilotti Rist

Pipilotti Rist is a Swiss born artist who is inspired by women and the bodies of women. Many of her works are in the mediums of film, site-specific installation, and audio installation. It is not until the last fifteen years that she has moved on from one medium to create ‘large-scale immersive environments that are able to merge image, sound and scenario-specific props’ (National Gallery of Australia). One of her main beliefs is that ever artist has an agenda and that hers is the agenda of hope.
Many believe that Rist is a political artist, however she comments the politically she is a feminist, however personally she is not. ‘The image of a woman in my art does not stand just for women: she stands for all humans. I hope a young guy can take just as much from my art as any woman’ – The Guardian. Frieze online also mentions that Rist believes the female body is not a temple, but rather a source on an embattled autonomy and self-love. Her artwork aims to look at the difference between the male and the female experience and how something that supports one might be uncomfortable for the other. Another aim of her artwork is to investigate the relationship between image and text, anarchy and order, and eroticism and technique.

“Film represents both the way the eye works and our subconscious. I love the idea that we can be watching television for two hours, and be aware only of the images we are seeing – not the glass and plastic that is projecting them.”- The Guardian

Her website, which can be viewed here is very non-descript. When you click onto the link, you are met with a slideshow of bright, garishly coloured photographs from film stills. At the bottom, there are multiple ways to contact her and her galleries, but the website offers no other information. All of the necessary information about her can be found through these links or through other pages, like this one. The lack of description about her art on her own website allows the viewer of her artwork to almost choose themselves to determine what it is about, and what the dream world that perhaps is being shown to them is portraying.

Art’s task is to contribute to evolution, to encourage the mind, to guarantee a detached view of social changes, to conjure up positive energies, to create sensuousness, to reconcile reason and instinct, to research possibilities and to destroy clichés and prejudices. – Frieze

It has been said that Pipilotti Rist does not want to record or respond to reality, but rather make work about the unconscious thoughts and dreams of the world she lives in. This makes her works strangely familiar, but also as though we are peering into her own thoughts and dreams. To accompany this, many of her film and audio installations contain large beanbags, cushions, sofas and even beds to relax and recline on. These are also there in order for you to give yourself over to the moment of ‘now’ (National Gallery of Australia). The way in which these are positioned, as well as the direction of the projection of her work, are from her interest of bodies and the space in which they occupy. In the installation space, she is interested in how people move around it and respond to the works, and so with different ‘relaxing’ materials, she is able to manipulate this. Rist has also commented that she wants us to look at the world close up and become immersed in the landscape and to gain a sense of happiness and fun from her works.
Frieze also comments on the way Rists’ ideas come across; “they are meant to act like drug-related experiences in which one breaks free from the prison of language on a high and finds temporary release in images.” This is often reflected in the way the spectator is meant to live through the event of her installations in a physical way.
One of her more well-known exhibitons is aptly named Eyeball Massage, at the Hayward Gallery, London, where 300 pairs of white pants were illuminated by Hip Lights along the South bank of the river Thames. From a distance these have been known to look like whipped cream, or sheep’s heads with the legs of the pant forming their eyes. Rist hopes that this will not only make people smile but also think about the relationship that we, as humans, have, with this important, sexually charged area in the middle of our bodies. “We all come out from between our mother’s legs. From there that we first see the light of the world (The Guardian).”
Her single most famous video installation Ever is Over All was made in 1997, and contains Pipilotti Rist in a light blue, flowing dress, smashing car windows with a flower cast in metal, shown next to the same red flowers in a field of lush vegetation. The police woman in the video salutes and seems almost unaware of the destruction to the cars that is happening. It is a little well-known fact that these are her friends cars lined up with their passenger-side window being offered to be hit, as this was the cheapest window to replace. This is also the visual representation of the Pipilotti Rist artistic universe where transgression doesn’t exist, or is suspended, the law of the land is feminine and it is entirely non-judgemental (ArtNet). Many believe this is where pop star Beyonce got her inspiration from in her Hold Up music video – the glam rampage is about righteous destruction and background viewers have expressions of shock and delight.

“The most amusing comment I heard during the Biennale was, ‘I came all the way to Venice to see a video?’ But the video was Pipilotti Rist and if you have to go to Venice to see it, so be it. The 35 year-old Swiss luminary projected her master stroke across the corner of a room. On one half of a split screen, a long-stemmed flower in a field swayed back and forth. The phallic nature of the flower was emphasised by the demeanour of the young woman who, on the other side of the screen, carried it playfully, beaming as she skipped down a typical city street to an ethereal nonsense ditty sung with a breathy, devil-may-care attitude. The films initial appearance was that of a fabric softener commercial, but a minute or so in, the woman swung the flower and shattered the window of every car she passed. The male passers-by looked askance and tried to keep out of her way. The female passers-by smiled wistfully, a lady police officer even beaming approvingly. The nonsensical atmosphere of the work denies a straightforward feminist reading. What is more the point here is the role of privacy, the flouting of manners and our difficult relationship with the city. If Rist can explain all of this in a short video, mega-shows such as Venice seem worth the effort.” – Frieze

Above: Photos from several of Rists’ books including: Apricots along the streets, Remake of the weekend, and I’m not the girl who misses much. In each of these, Rist uses stills from her films, and large, bold text to highlight small ideas and sentences on several pages. In Screen/Space: the projected image in contemporary art, it compares the work of Pipilotti Rist and Carolee Schneeman (this is a chapter I suggest reading).
It has been found that even the smallest thing inspires Pipilotti Rist and the artwork that she creates. It is everything from everyday life to the body and the idea of fun especially as she is inspired by play, dreams and the female sexuality. Yoko Ono and Naum June Paik, other video artists, have inspired Rist through their attitude towards anti-elitist art. This is also the same from her inspiration from the Fluxus movement. “This type of art involves the viewer in the work in an attempt to break down the boundaries between art and everyday life (Teachers Notes).” The use of the up-close camera on a human body allows her to literally play with all these inspirations and for her to create the skin as another landscape that we can view.
Her previous works through producing cartoons and stage design for music groups inspired the ‘clip’ aesthetic of her videos and films that she has produced throughout her artistic career. Not only has it inspired the clip element, but also the staging, edit sequences and the psychedelic palette of colour and graphics that she uses throughout her works (Frieze).
Pipilotti Rists’ full biography can be found here, along with her bibliography here. The home of her artworks can be found at the Hauser and Wirth Gallery.

Ming Wong

Ming Wong is a film maker who does all parts of the researching, planning, directing, and mis-casting, and even costume designing and making, thanks to his earlier theatre training. He currently lives and works in Muscle temple, Berlin, a building off of a courtyard filled with photographers, designers and artists, however he often travels for his films.

“self-seduces, self-kills; self-loves” – Berlin Art

Within his artwork, the questions of identity and gender arise as well as questions of queer politics and their representation (Frieze). This is partly because Wong casts himself as every character no matter what race or gender. He often re-depicts other artists films and is sometimes called for plagiarism, even though what he does is not plagiarism. Ming Wong also performs a ‘yellowing’ over the Western cinematic canon. He has also expressed that this can also be used as an excuse to dress up and act out. Within his artwork, he blends and performs genders, identities and temporalities. By using his hand-made costumes and temporality, he was able to become the impersonator and ‘the impersonator defies patriarchy/heteronormativity and points out the problems that occur as a result’.
There is also a certain disconnect between the language that is being spoken and the language of the inclusion of himself. This also has to take into consideration that Ming Wong is an East Asian, in a scenario in which he is totally other.
Ming Wong has almost claimed his own term while filming of “impostering”, which is used throughout his practice. He inserts people that are traditionally excluded from cinematic representation, straight into cinema’s traditional tropes. He is also able to endow those devices with a new and often unsettling meaning (Art in America).
Sometimes, Wong does not includes subtitles in his work as there are things he films about that do not have many facts – at some points in the history he researches, only word of mouth was used, and so the speech that he uses cannot always be backed up. There is no point in including subtitles if no one can confirm the facts.
Art Asia Pacific asked Ming Wong what his online inspirations were and he included five in that list. The first mentioned is The Southeast Asia Move Theatre Project. He comments that he takes his hat off to the cinema. It is a farang cinema otaku who travels to places such as Thailand, Myanmar and Laos in search for old single screen cinemas. Many of these cinemas are still in operation. Wong also comments that he enjoys the Myanmar cinema, although there is not the inspiration of the start-stop motion, like in Samson Kambalu’s work.
The second inspiration that is mentioned in the article is that of Charlie Chan in China. Wong researches Chinese detectives ‘and was thrilled to discover that the Charlie Chan movies from Hollywood—the character Charlie Chan was played by Swedish actor Warner Oland in “yellowface”—were well received in China. So much so that there were even copycat made-in-China Charlie Chan movies.’ This is seen in his work through the use of his characters.
Another inspiration of Ming Wong’s is the Chinese Ghost Town of Ordos Kangbashi. It is made up of world-class architecture, extravagant public plazas, international scale stadiums and seas of crisp new housing that rose up from the barren deserts of China’s Inner Mongolia in less than a decade (Forbes). However, barely anyone lives here. Wong does not explicitly say why this inspires him, however the act of being in the middle of a game-like deserted area, always sparks some inspiration.
The last two inspirations that are mentioned within the article from Art Asia Pacific are tgat if What the F*** costumes and Mychonny. The costumes inspire his own costume design and making as it allows you to transform into anything that you wish to be – from a British gentleman to a nun at Halloween. Mychonny is an Asian YouTuber that Ming Wong is subscribed to, and is in which he makes fun of his family, himself, and everybody else under the sun. Here, Mychonny plays all the roles, just as Wong plays all of his roles.
One of Ming Wong’s main sources of inspiration however, is that of the history of Chinese cinema. He explains that “In the 40s, 50s and 60s opera and cinema had a love affair in Hong Kong” (Berlin Art). After the Civil War, Japanese invasion and WWII, and as a result of these, much of the Chinese population migrated to Hong Kong. This is where a hybrid of arts emerged.

The nation-building politics of the People’s Republic of China led the Cantonese to struggle against the danger of cultural erosion. As a result, the proliferation of language – in this case, the translation of a Western story into classical Chinese by a Cantonese Opera writer, and back into English by the artist – becomes even more political. “It was really beautiful to see that Chinese literature was used to express this theme of speculative existence: I’m a mirror of your conscious. No one would ever do that in Cantonese Opera, as language is very classical, especially in terms of singing.” says Wong. In a similar fashion, science fiction was seen as pseudo-science, that wasn’t good for the revolution of Communist China. On the one hand, Cantonese Opera and science fiction share a common past of suppression and condemnation by patriarchy. On the other hand, according to Wong, “Solaris, the story itself, is very melodramatic”, and has a theme that can easily be adopted to Cantonese Opera. “Therefore, they fit together naturally.” – Berlin Art

Ming Wong’s full CV can be found here and his website can be found here. The home of his artworks, and the centre of his exhibitions are at the Carlier Gebauer gallery, Germany, where he currently lives and works.

Isa Genzken

Isa Genzken is a German artist and curator who started working predominantly in wood, and throughout her 40 year career has processed to work in a variety of mediums including; assemblage, sculpture, painting, photography, collage, drawing, artist’s books, film, large-scale installations, plaster, concrete and steel.

Isa Genzken exacerbates the ‘junkspace’ around us – Frieze

Her inspirations for her artworks include that of two grand themes: modernity and urban structure. This encompasses everything from urban chaos and modernist architecture to pop culture and the lineage of female beauty. Material culture can also be considered as one of her inspirations as she looks deeply into design, consumer goods and the media that markets these. Genzken also draws loosely from constructivism and minimalism by having an open dialogue with modernist architecture. ‘Her interest lies in the way in which common aesthetic styles come to illustrate and embody contemporary political and social ideologies’ (David Zwirner). Using construcitivm and minimalism, Isa Genzken also explores the tension between permanence and transience, and through this comments on the way we are also to build and destroy our environments and uses this as a ‘expression of hope as well as a monument to our consumption and destructiveness’ (Artsy)

Architecture is both the shifting foundation and fractured mirrored surface of her inspiration. – Frieze

The exhibitions that she helps to curate allow her to have a precise and elegant dialogue between her pieces. Rather than creating some obvious juxtaposition, many of her exhibitions create new meanings without just exploiting the other works within a show (Frieze). A common installation of her hi-fi stereo equipment photographs and ear photographs shows this dialogue and juxtaposition. These are exhibited along with Hyperbolo and Ellipsoid sculptures, allowing the conversation and dialogue of engineering in the state-of-the-art stereo system and the ‘intricate shape of the human ear and to the precision modelling of her sculptures’ (Contemporary Art Daily).
Much of her dialogue is also to make the viewer look at the world from her perspective. All throughout her exhibitions, there is a combination of different bodies of work that ‘establish juxtapositions’ and ‘bypass chronology or synchronicity’ (Frieze).
Towards the closing of the 20th century, her diaristic artist books of I Love New York, Crazy City (1995–6) and its Berlin counterpart Mach Dich Hübsch (2015) shows a collapse of time and space in a narrative non-space. Each of the pages is slapped thickly with everything from newspaper cuttings, coloured tape and snapshots of street life to buildings, interiors, restaurant menus and other prints, all of which is ‘collated, copied and reworked, page after page’ (Frieze). They accumulate impressions and encounters, which are all in juxtaposition with one another, especially through their repetition. At the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st century, her work was able to become her own vocabulary, language and even knowledge of cultural materiality, identity and experience. Now, at the beginning of the 21st century, her collated pages, and the more recent works relate closer to cyborgs and cyborg-like mannequins. These works give a warning, an omen, and counter technological developments that we face, which ‘have conspired to bind us to screens as providers and producers of meaning, and – consequently – left us ever more distracted from material sweeping and leftovers of experience’ (Frieze). In one of her works, Schauspieler II (Actors, 2015), of mannequins window-dressed in culture’s leftover scraps and living in a rubbish bin, actors perform individuality that falls away to reveal skin-level sameness. This piece is one of many that shames people for being sheep and highlights the fear that originality is no longer possible. (Frieze)

Though clearly influenced by Pop, Genzken never accepted the naturalism of the given image as a compositional whole. Her kaleidoscope of ready-mades refers, at once, to the commodity-form vibrant materiality and to the modes of exchange it fosters or displaces. It is often said that Genzken stages the ruins of modernism, I rather think she stages the ruins of capitalism, and its entanglement of glitz and junk-space, spec-tacle and abjection. –  Frieze

Understanding dialogue and juxtaposition came from understanding the possibilities in film between images and objects. The appreciation of architectural materials and unconventional materials from both hardware and houseware stores also allowed her to experiment with dialogue and juxtaposition in order to create sculptural and installation pieces.

Likewise, I believe, beauty can do with some drama when publicly staged. This is why I adored Isa Genzken’s contribution to the 1997 Sculpture Projects: Vollmond (Full Moon). She had a frosted glass sphere, two and a half metres in diameter, installed on a 14-metre-high steel pole in the park grounds beside the Aasee, and illuminated day and night. Genzken took Oldenburg’s billiard ball, lit it up and made it levitate. The drama of the work lay in its audacious attempt to rival the moon for its beauty. Beauty is one of those cruel gifts that can neither be refused nor returned. Reciprocating the gift of the moon by offering it its own beauty back is a gesture of enormous exuberance, and it was performed by Genzken with the strict simplicity of the most minimal means. I have vague but very fond memories of resting on the grass beside the work with friends, gazing up at the sky with its double moon and, for once, feeling very happy in the presence of a public sculpture. So it is possible. Let’s see what happens in the coming year. – Frieze

Isa Genzken’s full biography can be viewed here, along with her bibliography here. The home of her artworks is at the Saatchi Gallery, London.

Wolfgang Tillmans

Wolfgang Tillmans is a Berlin and London photographer. The basis of his photographer is the observation of surroundings and the ongoing investigation of photographic mediums and their foundations. Young Wolfgang Tillmans never dreamed of being a photographer, however he felt the intention no record anything in order to remember it, and so avidly filmed family holidays.

The image reiterates: life doesn’t stop at the edge of the picture. It’s where it begins. – Frieze

Tillmans work is experimental – he found that he always had a thing for newspapers, and collected a scrap book of photos. He has always had a fascination with recording, especially detail, and often detail that people take for granted or ‘forget’ to look at, and the intimacy between things, which can be both comforting and disturbing. He has been driven throughout his photography to find venues so that he could show them to other people, and would photocopy and use triptychs for them. One large inspiration was an exhbinition in Hamburg, “D&S” which included General Idea, David Robbins, Alan Belcher, Jeff Koons, Jenny Holzer, Barbara Kruger, and Laurie Anderson. After living in England for two years in the 80s to work for fashion magazines, he came back to the German culture as an outsider and insider to both participate as part of an not part of the local situation.

Tillmans’ combination of different formulas of image production might appear at first as a strategy to avoid the pitfalls of stagnancy and dead-ends often inherent in successful art productions. But with his strong theoretical awareness of social and productive systems, he seeks to influence his own creation of a system with these diverse patterns and waves of information. (Tillmans, 2010)

Another large inspiration that sparked a change in Tillmans photography was the death of his lover, Jochen (1997). He has never explicitly said what the pictures from that time were, however, it certainly affected his photography style. One experimental work that bought his work to the forefront was photographs of seemingly casual studies of friends and lovers, often interacting in ways initially shocking i.e. urinating on a chair, examining each others genitals, looking up skirts and climbing trees. These, however, were often tender, and evoked the complexities of modern life with the lightest and most elegant of touches. The relationships are lifeblood of pictures between humans, humans and relied upon objects, and also what these say about us.

Against the backdrop of toxic governments everywhere cheerleading for isolationism, Tillmans’s photographs, which survey the experience of being together and the domestic minutiae that make home possible, feel more melancholy than ever. – Frieze

Wolfgang Tillmans has a style of how to display his artwork at exhibitions. He rarely uses frames, but prefers to stick pieces to the walls, sometimes taking away the limited-edition-ness by sticking a magazine or postcard related to the subject next to it on the wall. He has explicitly told exhibitionists that he never pins his pieces to the walls as this ruins the edges. Sometimes, such as in his exhibition ‘2017’, the exhibition is arranged in an unstoppable sprawl which is juxtapositioned throughout the space. His exhibition style and set up depends on Tillmans mood and what he feels like at the time.

Above: A selection of pages from Tillmans’ books including: Wolfgang TillmansIf one thing matters, everything mattersWhat’s wrong with redistribution? and Wolfgang Tillmans: 2017. Throughout these books, table and exhibition plans are shown (What’s wrong with redistribution?), and If one thing matters, everything matters gives a full catalogue of his works from 1978 to 2003.
One of his most known works, Summer Still Life, is a casual scene which includes an all manner of things including: plate of cherries, strawberries, blueberries, grapes, tomato, peach, pile of magazine, newspaper, lighter, bottle with a twig in it, small pot plant, all balanced on a narrow grubby shelf by a window. The photograph itself contains soft, clear lighting, along with a soft weariness about it. This photograph is carefully composed, especially with its colours, which includes a bright red tomato, spinning at the centre of a cosmos full of pinks, greens, and deep purples. This closely follows the inspiration of Tillman’s that life may be made of real surfaces but abstraction liberated and also illuminated the innate enigma of components.

But photography is in many ways only the beginning of Tillmans’ art. Indeed, over the last decade, he has made an important body of abstract works that are ‘not made with camera’ (the artist’s phrase), yet are still directly related in process to photography. In both a practical and philosophical sense, therefore, Tillmans engages and works with the photographic image on every conceivable level: as a consumer and reader of images, a producer of images, an editor of images, as their printer, replicator, publisher, arranger, curator, installer, and also as their mechanic, anatomist, politician, sculptor, technicial, connoisseur and philosopher-scientist. He is thus the creator and director of an encyclopaedic lexicon of images, examining and exploring every aspect of their form, in terms of both medium and object. (Tillmans, 2010)

His works are the reflection that he cannot control everything in his life, and in many ways, this is also an inspiration for him. The installations themselves show this division between wanting to control everything and the acceptance of what it actually is. The non-definitive answer is also shown in the materials and physical developing process: The methods of translating and developing include exposing to different coloured light sources, folding, made in reverse, and the suggestion of a fold. Photographs, much like the real world are always in a state of fluctuation, and this inspires the different angles that appear within the materiality of the photograph, and the way in which these are pointed against each other in Tillmans works.

What intrigues me is the tension of the two key qualities of a photograph: the promise of it being a perfect, controlled object, and the reality of a photographic image being mechanically quite unsophisticated. It creases or buckles when it’s too dry, curls in humidity, becomes rigid and vulnerable when it’s mounted, and for that reason, loses its flexibility. I choose to reconcile all this and don’t try to pretend that it isn’t happening. I’ve made all of that part of the beauty of the visual experience. The fact that photographs aren’t permanent is like a reminder of our condition; showing their vulnerability protects one from the disappointment of seeing them fade. The inkjet prints have this built in as a concept: their impermanence is clearly imaginable yet the owner also has the original master print and can reprint the inkjet print when they feel it’s necessary. – ArtSpace

The King of ‘Hypertronix’ was Wolfgang Tillmans himself, who, ‘in a world of increasing Anglo-hegemony and pre-packaged sex – skilfully reinvents the forms of publicity favoured by contemporary art (Frieze).’  This is shown throughout his photography works. Many of his works mixes up the classical genres of both photography and painting including landscape, portrait, still life and abstraction. He puts all of these back together again as sub-group in a hanging or a layout (Frieze)’. He also adds to this to themes of melting and blending of bodies as the idea of being together, and of fusion. In a Frieze interview, he mentions that ‘the experience of something in real life doesn’t automatically make for a good work.’ This is in relation to the translation process that much of his work and practice uses, and that he can only photograph that what he relates to. ‘I trust that, if I study something carefully enough, a greater essence or truth might be revealed without having a prescribed meaning.’ Much of his work concentrates on mining exhausted genres because of an unlimited capacity to move people. They are still photographs, and they are vivid snapshots of a certain moment in time, which is a key characteristic of his photography.

During further exploration of his work, one finds a differentiated world exposed from different angles, sometimes even incorporated as modes of perception in his own personal methods of observation. (Tillmans, 2010)

One of his most recent works is a non-profit exhibition space Between Bridges. This exhibition spread his pro-EU post campaign, gathering widespread attention. These are online for free, for anyone to download.

Digital has its rigid ways but also makes new pictures possible – not by way of predictable photoshopping but by its own ways of translating light into a two-dimensional picture. – Frieze

Wolfgang Tillmans’ full biography can be found here, along with his full bibliography here. His website with all this information included can be found here, along with his exhibition calendar. The home of his artworks and the centre of his exhibition are at Maureen Paley Gallery. Press releases to exhibitions include Wolfgang Tillmans, Regen Projects and The Nineties, Buchholz.

Artspace. (2015). Wolfgang Tillmans Opens Up on His Art, His Influences, and His Personal Tragedy. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Dercon, C., Sainsbury, H., Tillmans, W., Godfrey, M. and Holert, T. (2017). Wolfgang Tillmans 2017. London: Tate Publishing. (2013). Still Lifes. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017]. (2017). Wolfgang Tillmans. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Lange, C. (2017). Crossing Over. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017]. (2017). Maureen Paley | Wolfgang Tillmans. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Ostgut Ton | Zehn, c. (2017). Home. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Tillmans, W. (2011). Wolfgang Tillmans: Darkroom. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Tillmans, W. (2015). Wolfgang Tillmans. What’s wrong with redistribution?. Köln: Verlag der Buchhandlung Walther König.
Tillmans, W., Donlon, C. and Stahl, V. (2003). If one thing matters, everything matters. London: Tate Publishing.
Tillmans, W., O’Brien, S. and Larner, M. (2010). Wolfgang Tillmans. London: Serpentine Gallery. (2016). Bibliography (english/deutsch). [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].
Vicenta Aliaga, J. (1999). Hypertronix. [online] Available at: [Accessed 11 Sep. 2017].

London Trip 3

During summer, I decided to go back to some of the galleries that I have previously visited in order to gain some more insight into the artists that these galleries were showing, and also the use of space within each individual gallery. All artists are linked to separate posts on my other blog – here is simply an outline of each gallery visited.
Hauser & Wirth
Philip Guston
“‘Guston found in Nixon the perfect embodiment of world-historical perfidy, and in a satire way out of his hoplessness regarding the corrupt state of art an politics. Guston’s Nixon drawings, alternately, can serve as similar inspiration today. This is art used as a scalpel while the world is on a knife’s edge.’ – Christian Viveros-Fauné.”
My initial thoughts were that something else is going on, as though there is an extra story that Guston is not sharing. There was a heavy sense of democratic satire which was not only shown in the presentation of the pieces, but also the way in which he drawers the subjects. Nixon looks like he has been drawn to resemble a dick, while other characters highly resemble ball sacs. There is a flow between the pieces, as though he does develop some of the characters when walking around the purposefully designed space. You have to follow the story that has been created, rather than make  your own. There is also an increasing number of things happening within each piece, in their own progression and procession. These pieces were individually framed, and some looking rough and rushed, rather than detailed and calm. All the pieces speak the mind of Guston at that moment in time and that he really does not like Nixon.
I was unsure, and I am still unsure about this series of works as it feels as though I have stepped into some very personal thoughts, which disturbs me a little. I found that having each piece in an individual frame was more effective than having them in one line, as it exaggerated that these were drawn at individual points of time.

Hauser & Wirth
Ida Applebroog
When stepping into Applebroogs’ exhibition, I felt as though I had stepped into her personal diary, in her personal world. The characters within her pieces have continual characteristic to them to highlight who  they are and makes it seem like we have entered a dream, or a biological world has been  designed.
All of the works displayed are bright and colourful, including the pieces that don’t use explicit colour, but rather it is the way in which the pieces have been drawn and the technique applied. There is also a lack of care in these pieces, in a careful way – it seems as though she does not mind making mistakes or causing any harm while doing so. An element that is very noticeable within the work is lines, as though they symbolise something, like a definitive answer. The lines also make the pieces look like a child’s colouring book where she keeps cleanly in the lines.
The pieces individually, and the exhibtion as a whole, make Applebroog seem like she is somewhat obsessed with the body  – either a pregnant body or things associated with that, as you can occasionally see younger, unprotected and often scared looking people. This has to be taken from the body language as there are no particular facial expressions. The pieces are also like they’re notes or memos to herself about her day, or what she needs to do.
Much like Guston’s exhibition, I felt as though I had walked in on something very private and personal and most importantly, not to be shared. There is also a simplistic beauty to her work with inks and pen, occasionally sewing too – all of these elements are soft in their own ways, coming together in a puddle.

Hauser & Wirth
Lee Lozano
“‘Psychoanalysis, the rejection of marriage and motherhood, traditional femininity, tightly scripted roles and behaviour, an upending of what had come before, all this can be seen in the paintings and drawings she created in the early 1960s: all display an unbridles will to misfit.’ – Bob Nickas.”
When walking into this exhibition space, there is a shock at how small the paintings were and created a very dramatic entrance. I did find myself a bit confused by the paintings, both individually and as a whole. At first glance, Lozano often works in browns and greens, both in a ‘dirty’ manner, almost as though a completely clean brush hasn’t been used.
Each of the paintings had its own unique frame, showing that Lozano took care of their work. The paintings themselves were that of daily objects and sights, although teeth seemed to be a recurring theme through many of the paintings. This made me question whether Lozano was obsessed with teeth, or obsessed with things entering other things.


Aleksandar Duravcevic
In this exhibition, the first thing you were hit with as you walked through the door was the two photographs that were hung opposite the doorway. These, however, turned out to be paintings that were a notch out of focus, to make them seem like they were perfect to the naked eye. There were two variations of the painting there, as though there were two snapshots in time – one had what looked like blue in it which adds further depth and focus to the painting. If it were to have ‘pure’ black, this would not quite work. Looking closer, this blue haze is not blue at all, but rather the use of layers to create this effect.These were both painted on wood, creating a naturalistic feel to the piece.
Compared to previous times, the gallery itself has the same set up – two pieces on the wall and a couple of installation/sculptures down the other end of the gallery from the door. One of these sculptures has a chromatic pigment within the final layer of paint, so when the light hits, you can see a rainbow effect. Due to the curvature of the pots, you are able to see yourself in many positions, and sometimes you think that you will see yourself in the reflection, and you don’t. The other sculpture, a big marble ‘book’ was made by computer programming a laser cutter, almost as if he has taken advantage of tools that he has on hand. To me, this wan’t particularly impressive, but I did appreciate the welding on the stand.
Around the corner plays a 20 minute film of a woman, who at first glance seems religious. I was then later told that it is a women in the home town of the artist. The women in this town would sit outside their homes and just watch the world go by.

Stephen Friedman – Part 1
Various Artists
Within this exhibition, there was a strong sense of destructivism and constructivism, with pieces including blown up books – slow motion of a disaster. This is a recurring theme throughout the works. I was very curious, when looking closer at the book piece, whether each individual book has special significance to the piece. The fire, with everything of theirs burnt to the floor, reminds me of the remnants of war – dramatic, yet subtle violence, along with reminders of the trenches.
Another piece that quickly caught my eye in the midst of madness was the piece adorned with millions of circles. This is originally what looks like white paint on canvas, and judging by the way the canvas hung on the wall, it was never on a canvas stretcher. Unfortunately, I had preconceptions of this artwork because I knew its history, but I still found it incredibly captivating with all the detail. Some of the circles look like they took a lot of engineering to design them – more than what was perhaps originally thought.
Within this single exhibition, the contrast of light is often used to add to the effect of the artwork, while others are busy with chaos, disorganisation. There is no cross contamination of materials throughout the whole exhibition. The last piece that reminded me of my own experimentation was the knots. It was as though they were playing around with what they can do to a piece.

Stephen Friedman – Part 2
Channing Hansen
I am still unsure as to how these were created, but first thoughts was that it was crochet on canvas stretchers. I personally enjoy how it makes the piece look more 3D and breaks that fourth wall of traditional wall hangings by stretching across the wall to another canvas stretcher. These pieces all roughly connect the crochet together, but also allowing for large holes and imperfections. Through the holes, you are able to view the wooden frame, which allows it to become part of the piece instead of just a support structure. The unconventional use of the frame inspires me to do something like this.
Each of these pieces is also very bright and colourful, as if they are individual palettes of colours. I am personally interested as to whether the colour conveys meaning, especially the colours that are repeated through several pieces.

Lisson Gallery – Part 1
Santiago Sierra
This exhibition came as a complete shock, as last time I visited this gallery, the whole space was available to walk around. Now, it was full of barbed wire as part of a site-specific installation. Within this single room, only one person was allowed in at a time, and you were staring at this, almost monstrosity of a sculpture alone. I don’t know whether it is because I knew the space, but this made me somewhat afraid and alone, as well as in awe.

Lisson Gallery  – Part 2
Various Artists
Unfortunately, due to time, I was unable to visit this exhibition for long. The overall feeling of this exhibition, however, was slightly negative, because I could not understand what was going on. I believe this is due to a lack of time in the exhibition, but also due to the large juxtaposition that some of the pieces had with each other – there was a relationship that I did not get. Therefore, I did not take this exhibition in.

Dayanita Singh

Dayanita Singh is an artist who uses photography in order to reflect and expand on ways in which we can relate to photographic images. Her interest in archiving and publishing have allowed her to draw from her whole history of photography to create mobile museums and archives.
Much of her inspiration comes from archiving. Her more recent works are drawn from 30 years of photography and is also known as the Museum Bhavan. This is a fold up or pop up exhibition where the artist is able to manipulate the space by moving the wooden panels, holding the photographs. These are interconnected bodies of work that are replete the both poetic and narrative possibilities.  Each set of wooden panels contains a ‘museum’, holding a collection of photos based around one topic.  These include the Museum of Files, the Museum of Little Girls, and the Museum of Machinery. The Museum of Files was the first to be created and has been described as ‘an elegy to paper which will decay in time’. The inspiration of archiving and museums has also come from the places that which she took many of her photographs.
The museums, in the wooden panels, can be manipulated within the exhibition space in order to show hidden connections. In one exhibition, the Museum of Photography and Museum of Furniture were placed next to each other, creating an individual conversation. The wooden panels themselves contain storage systems, allowing more photographs to be kept than is displayed. These storage systems also create some coves, gaps, and places of privacy. The portable museum also comes with its own boxes, stables, stools and benches, which can also be placed in specific places and manipulated to change the audiences interaction and conversation with the piece. Within this piece, the act of book making and museum making are inseparable, both of Singh’s inspirations in her practice. This work has gone on to single exhibitions, including that of the Museum of Machines, in 2016, as a major new exhibition in the Mast Gallery, Bologna.

“I have a visceral response to places like that,” says Singh. “To paper factories, old bookshops, people’s private libraries. I find the thought of the secrets and knowledge contained in all that paper deeply moving. I have long conversations with my publisher that are about nothing but paper. I carry the stuff around with me all the time, because I never know when I’ll have an idea for a book.” – Telegraph

Not only is archiving an inspiration and a large part of Dayanita Singh’s practice, but also publishing and the act of book making is too, found in the British Journal of Photography. The books that she publishes are often without text and are used to experiment on alternate forms of producing and viewing photographs. The first collaboration for a book that she did was with the publisher Steidl, which allowed the beginning of a new format in which her photographs create new narratives and follow new sequences. This boo was called Privacy and it portrays the wealthy India and the interiors of. However, for the first time, it also portrays a bourgeois, upper-class India, which openly declared Singh’s interested in this topic, which is both anthropological and archaeological in equal measure. This book also allowed Singh to distance herself from the photographic colonialist gaze, which was popular to direct at her country and also character of photography.
In another book, Chairs, she explores the subject area similar that to Museum of Furniture. The photographs that are collected for these books and the book making process are also used in the museums in her exhibitions. Chairs explores the sense of inanimate objects, spaces, evocative emptiness, and the latent time of them. This allows the reader to connect to the way Singh explored her sense of these subjects. The history of individuals, families, and that of generations of old culture that develop ‘once more after independence seems to manifest in these chairs and furniture, in the stillness of these objects’, is also a subject area that is explored within the book.
As documentation is a large part of Dayanita Singh’s practice and inspiration, it is surprising when in Go Away Closer, she steps away from this process in order to develop an essayistic view and function within her photography. This allows a ‘photo-novella to be pieced together without words to shape internal and external life, society and personal history, presence and absence, fullness and emptiness, reality and dream into a fragmented whole, a new and unique body of image and poetry’ (British Journal of Photography). This is a performative element that is slowly creeping into her photography, and has also manifested in her exhibitions with the mobile museums, along with the furniture, carts, and folding screens, allowing her photography to have continual, flowing and new forms wherever it goes. This also discloses the new meanings of the photographs.

“She displays the world of the archive as a living shadow world, a world of paper, of paragraphs, of files, which are bestowed a milky, pale illumination under the glow of old strip lights and which appear to perish, rot, disintegrate, yet paradoxically seem also to be alive and cultivated.” – British Journal of Photography

Dayanita Singh’s full CV can be found here and her website can be found here. The home of her artworks can be found at the Frith Street Gallery, London.

What should stay the same?
The art of slow conversation.
– Frieze

Arturo Herrera

Arturo Herrera is a Caracas, Venezuela born artist who is known predominantly for his painting, but has begun to explore a body of mixed-media paintings including collage, works on paper, sculpture, relief, wall painting, photography, and felt wall hangings.  The inspirations of his work namely include the processes that he has to go through in order to create the final piece.
The colourful mixed-media paintings that are created in the newest body of work use multiple techniques resulting in multilayered surfaces that both reveal and obscure the process of their making (Sikkema Jenkins Co, Sikkema Jenkins Co). He uses strategies of fragmentation and layer which has been adapted from earlier collage based works. The works that he creates are provocative and open-ended with the techniques of fragmentation, splicing and re-contextualisation.
As part of his works Arturo Herrera accepts failure in order to be able to learn and grow as an artist. He still doesn’t like the idea that he has worked on something for hours and think it is going to be really good and it does not live up to expectation.
Herrera’s work began with used images from cartoons, colouring books, fairy tales, and the combination of fragments of Disney-like characters to create unique collages. The Disney-like characters themselves contain violent and sexual imagery in order to make work that border between figuration and subtraction and also subverts the innocence of the cartoon and refers back to darker psychology. The process that is used in the creation of these pieces starts off with a large data bank of images and cuts outs. Herrera then pieces them together in order to create a pattern and paints on the opposite side of the piece. An exactoblade is then used to cut out the shapes that were previously drawn. These have to resemble the exact shapes, curvature and general style of cartoons, due to the style of the overall final piece. The edges are then burnished in order to create a completely flat piece and attached to a piece of museum board to make it look more ‘professional’. To see the process, visit Art21.
This artist loves to experiment and play with the work through change, accidence and very hard discipline. This leads his work to taking it a step further by photographing fragments of his collages. He then submerges the undeveloped film in hot water, cold water, coffee, and tea, in order to create unpredictable results when printed. The last stage of this is to edit the photos into a grid of images to create a work that is greater than its individual parts (Art21). Herrera also loves to play music and play with music in his artwork. Music, he finds offers no solution and no content. He has mentioned that he like to create artwork that is non-subjective, just like music.
“I think there is a potential for these images to communicate different things to different viewers in a very touching way. But that experience is not a public experience, it is very private, and very personal.” – Art21
Stretching from these works, Herrera has also explores with felt works by cutting shapes from pieces of felt and pins it to the wall. This is so then the felt hangs from the wall as a tangled form, resembling drips and splatter, much like Jackson Pollock’s paintings. This is also seen in some of Arturo Herrera’s paintings which are intricate and evocative, abstract compositions. Recently, Herrera has moved onto painting directly onto gallery walls in order to create large-scale compositions of wandering biomorphic imagery. These themselves blend a broad array of references and method including that of modernist strategies of fragmentation, re-composition and repetition, and to the highs and lows of the popular and elite Western culture and the kinetic art or public art ventures of the artists native Venezuela in the fifties and sixties.
‘Faculty Band’ is one of his most recent exhibitions and exhibits works that are radically novel, both in technique and scale. This is reportedly the closest to ‘making’ that this artist has ever been. In this exhibition, his paintings are literally made into paintings – there is a large emphasis on three-dimensionality and the revealing of the constructive, accretive nature. The pieces combine traditional media associated with painting-making (linen, canvas), along with every day materials such as cloth bags, felt and commercial banners. Another layering process within his work allows the conversation of his own vocabulary and that of Georges Braque, Kurt Schwitters, Daniel Spoerri and David Hammons. It has been described by Thomas Dane Gallery that “in a real ‘tour-de-force’, they simultaneously reveal the secrets and entrails of their own making, as well as accumulating layers, planes and ‘veils’ that render their ‘whole’ or unified examination almost impossible. These will be ‘punctuated’ by more intimate objects: small paintings made from/onto flea-market books, from a whole variety of genres. The books, now with their pages sealed in by the spills, marks and drips of the painting process, are transformed into ready-made grounds for gestural abstraction. They ressemble a painter’s study or variations on Paul Serusier’s ‘Talisman’, proposing a new kind of reading, both obliterated and open-ended, both as signifier and signified.”

Herrera’s wall paintings, collages and photographs don’t look like graffiti, but they are deployed in a similar way. His foreground patterns resemble abstracted brushstrokes or a child’s scribbles. Yet these marks have been enlarged, extracted or translated into the idea of the artist’s gesture, rather than the original mark itself. Herrera couples these shapes with scenery borrowed from mass culture, such as colouring books or Disney cartoons. Like a graffiti artist, he literally inserts his expressive mark into an artistic landscape that already exists. – Frieze

Arturo Herrera’s full CV can be found here, and is not represented by his own website. The home of his artworks is the Thomas Dane Gallery, London. His works have been exhibited in galleries and museums throughout the United States and Europe, and currently lives and works in Berlin. Previous one-person exhibition venues include Centre d’Art Contemporain, Dia Center for the Arts, Centro Galego de Arte Contemporánea, Whitney Museum of American art, UCLA Hammer Museum, P.S. 1 Contemporary Art Center, and The Tate, London.

Caroline Achaintre

Caroline Achaintre is a Toulouse born artist who works in multimedia installations to investigate simultaneous contrasts and relationships. Her interest includes periods of primitivism, as they present junctures between ancient and modern, psychological and physical, and exoticism and technology. These installations include wall-hangings, drawings, paintings and ceramics. All of her works are very colourful and finds colour very important as this sets the tone for the world, or the character that the piece is from. The colour is sometimes muted and very subtle within the piece. The use of play in association with medium, technique, process and colour allow the free movement of the works. These characters are closely linked to the psychology of the mask work that features throughout her work and is inspired by all mentioned above. 

“The work is always personal, even if it does not necessarily talk from one’s direct background. I create my own world in a way, characters that coexist with each other, sometimes within one piece. I am interested in the idea of looking in and out simultaneously, which often results in mask-like pieces. It is a fusion of the mask and the bearer of it, they are both real. There is more than one persona within one being. Within the world I create there are certainly aspects of my own persona, but in not such a literal way.” – Aesthetic

The aim of the work is to evoke the subversive spirit of European carnival and creating an atmosphere that is simultaneously playful and absurd in order to have an intense and playful tone.
In her works, Achaintre cites German Expressionism, post-war British sculpture and Primitivism. The specifics of the German Expressionism that Caroline Achaintre is inspired by is the dark side within it and the portrayal of ‘angst’. Other inspirations and connections that are made throughout her artwork include contemporary sub-cultural strands of sci-fi, Goth metal, psychedelic and horror films. These inspirations weave their way into her ink and watercolour designs, and transformed into large, weaved, wall-hanged rugs. Recently, ceramics and prints have also been explored as Achaintre explores the further use of materials.
Texture is a key part of Caroline Achaintre’s work from her rugs all through to the ceramic works. She explains in Aesthetic that she wants the work to be non-neutral, and finds that texture supports this. Emulating surfaces such as the skin and the fur in her works allows each piece to have its own unique texture, due to the length of the wool, or the pattern on the ceramic. The shaggy wall-hangings, or the rugs as they are otherwise known, have their own eerie feeling to them, simultaneously looking like hair and having a pure animist quality. These wall hangings have an intense, strong, physical presence due to their imposing texture. On the other hand, the clay sculptures that Achaintre also creates, operate on a more seductive level to the gallery space and the audience. The texture also allows Achaintre’s pieces to be dynamic – one of her aims in her artwork is for her artwork to always be dynamic and for it to never be stiff in one thing.
For her ink works, Achaintre was often inspired by the European carnival with both the morbidity and the childlike colours. Throughout these works, she experimented, and still experiments with colours and other materials in the process. She often uses wax before she paints with the inks to create a rejection and a coexistence. She started these ink paintings and experiments in Goldsmiths University, where she studied for a small time. Often these are also a dialogue with herself as she creates geometric shapes and patterns, and then places something on top, again studying coexistence. The smallness of these pieces captures the intense worlds that are within them.
Achaintre was then interested in domestic materials and looked into and explored with carpets – the furriness, shagginess, length of wool and colour were all explored. In an interview, she explains that she feels like she discovered a new language with the material and the technique. The process that which she has used as also allowed for accidents. This is something that appeals to her and has inspired her professed love for expressionism. The process used for these carpets is called tufting and is in which a rotating blade shoots through the piece of material on the loom and cuts it off. This is a very back to front process as you have to do this from the back, meaning you cannot see the front. Working blind also gives these accidents that Achaintre incorporates into the works. The pieces are then covered with latex from behind to ensure that it is all fixed. Caroline Achaintre also explains in the interview that she fell in love with both the outcome and the process and still continues to use this today. The works are always large, and in the small studio, the ceiling is the limit, and so some of the pieces have to be rolled up in order to complete it in several stages.

“When I end up showing them together, certainly. Sometimes, the same process or form will find its way into both – a way of folding, for example. To that extent, they influence each other. I like showing them together because there are nice correspondences: the wool is quite an eerie material, shaggy and attractive yet repulsive at the same time; whereas clay, at least as I use it, has a seductiveness.” – Frieze

Caroline Achaintre has also begun to explore lino cuts and ceramics. She found that she has gotten tired of transforming her ink pieces into wool and tired of the guessing work involved, and wanted to try something with a little more control. It has been found that she chooses materials for its rawness, which lead her to ceramics and the seductive and primitive nature of it when both raw and glazed. Ceramic has been found to be a very direct medium. There is a love of taking it onto other surfaces and through the inspiration of exotic scales, finds it easy to play with and apply textures. The ceramic gives the combination of snake-like object and shed skin. Often in the process to gain this combination, Achaintre uses a frozen movement after ‘squishing’ the clay, and finds the most difficult part is to get it in the kiln after this process has been done. From here, she has gone on to work with leather to gain a more in depth scale effect.
The first time Achaintre had her own studio was in 2016 after studying in Kunsthochschule, Halle (Saale), Germany. She was awarded a DAAD Scholarship and chose to come to London to study and draw. What attracted her to London was the YBA art scene, heavy metal bands including Slipknot, and clowning (where musicians apply one face on top of another).
Caroline Achaintre’s full CV can be found here and her website can be found here. The gallery that is predominantly associated with the artworks and the artist is the Arcade Fine Arts Gallery, London. To get a sense of her studio space and the way she works, visit the Frieze website.