Two full-scale cast-steel pigeons, each with strips of dynamite and a Blackberry phone tied to its back, sit quietly in Adel Abdessemed’s Parisian studio. Dressed in his trademark blue pants, a black shirt and a matching jacket, the forty-nine-year-old Franco Algerian fixes his gaze on these humble city dwellers and contemplates a modern urbanity as described by Marc Augé in which the city is filled with non-places like cash dispensing machines, banks, airports, train stations, autoroutes, parking garages and lots.
It all started with a drawing that American artist Kiki Smith made seven years ago of the long and wandering Hydra, the sea serpent in the sky, and its adjoining constellations Corvus (crow), Noctua (owl), Crater (chalice), Sextans (sextant) and Felis (cat). Smith turned all the celestial elements to symbols in Memory, the installation she conceived for Deste Foundation’s satellite project space, a former slaughterhouse on the Greek island of Hydra,
A collection of oval-shaped laminate marquetry ‘oysters’ is spread out on the London studio desk of designer Bethan Laura Wood, who casts herself in the role of magician or alchemist of surfaces by creating luxury pieces out of inexpensive material. “I just love that with marquetry technique you can make this kind of cross section of the laminate. You see, we go from a basic kind of matt navy, to this aggressive surface, then to this bonkers glittered, to this one that’s meant to be like a wood, to this standard Memphis black laminate.” Read more
Presently covered by the sleeve of his winter jacket, the tattoo on Erwin Wurm’s arm, “One minute forever,” evokes the series of action-based performative sculptures he conceived 21 years ago. For a One Minute Sculpture Wurm offers a handwritten instruction and/or a suggestive drawing for the audience to follow. For example, a drawing that shows a person sitting on the floor with his legs stretched out accompanies Hold your breath and think of Spinoza. Read more
For the Abu Dhabi Art program Beyond: Artist Commissions, Pakistani artist Imran Qureshi chose the historic Al Jahili Fort in Al Ain to unveil his site-specific installation Morning And Night Sang A Duet Together For A Long Moment. In the fort’s courtyard he arranged thousands of black plastic rose buds in a square bed to evoke the alarming threat of global warming. “The title is borrowed from the poetry of Faiz Ahmed.
From her office on the top floor of a former cereal factory warehouse on the banks of the Tagus River in Lisbon, Joana Vasconcelos coordinates all her studio’s activities. Below her, on the ground floor, two lions covered in crochet lace, assisted by some of her tallest sculptures, guard the entrance, distracted neither by the aroma of fresh coffee emanating from the refectory nor by the noise of men welding and cutting metal in an engineering workshop.
British visual artist David Shrigley attempts to rock climb on the Greek island of Hydra and within minutes he draws an appreciative crowd. While he may be improvising for a photo shoot, performing isn’t new to him. Shrigley was an extra in the film Trainspotting. “I didn’t realize it was going to be some iconic film. It was just a job. You don’t actually see my face. My legs are in it. I had a big scene, where I was sitting next to Ewan McGregor
The Villa Granaiolo in Castelfiorentino, once a 13th-century fortress, is where the Marchese di Barsento Emilio Pucci and his wife, Cristina, used to host glamorous parties in the 1960s. Visible from the green steps of the villa is the former convent where the Marchese’s daughter, Laudomia Pucci, has made a home for holidays with her husband, whom she married in the family chapel there, and their three children. Laudomia, as was her father, is tall and thin with exceedingly expressive eyes.
“I look at art more than reality,” says Swiss artist Nicolas Party in his studio in Brussels. Party, who would rather go to a museum than on a hike, says that he is most often inspired by looking at images in books and in museums. He imagines, for instance, how great it would be to gather all the painted trees, including the ones of his own he is standing next to, into a single forest and be able to walk through it.
We all have a place we love to go. For the artist Marina Karella it is a studio in the Northern Dodecanese in Chora, a hillside village on the island of Patmos built around the fortified monastery of St. John the Theologian. From a large courtyard that expands in different levels she overlooks the whitewashed neighboring rooftops and the deep nautical blue of the Aegean. Above the trees she can see the turreted outline of the castle-like monastery.
A mysterious black and white photograph, the detail of an entrance gate to the Locus Solus villa, adorns the cover of a book on Jean-Michel Othoniel’s drawing table in the Marais district in Paris. Locus Solus, written by Raymond Roussel in 1914 and illustrated by Othoniel in 2015, is a novel that follows Martial Canterel, a scholarly scientist whose wealth has no limits, through the garden of his country estate near Paris
Tony Cragg likes order. He likes to classify his sculptures, group them into families and think in terms of the relationships between those families. “I am very skeptical about throwing things at the wall and doing chance things, but art is full of this kind of sloppiness,” says Cragg in his studio overlooking the valley of Wuppertal. He stands next to his desk which is filled with drawings tracing human profiles. Amidst these rise elegantly, in a columnar fashion, what seem to be their physical projections.
Ron Arad’s iPhone screen displays an image of a painting, an elongated male figure in earth-toned colors reminiscent of a Modigliani. It is the portrait of his father at 23 painted by his mother when she was 21, younger than Arad’s youngest daughter. Growing up in Israel, Arad says he had nothing to complain about. “My mother was a painter, my father was a sculptor, and I thought everyone is an artist.”
In the luminous studio, nude women recline gracefully on couches. One of them, gleaming in the sun that streams through the skylight, looks as if she has been dipped in liquid gold like the woman in Goldfinger. Another, partly veiled in white oil paint, echoes Venus Victrix, Antonio Canova’s seminude life-size statue of Paolina Borghese, sister of Napoleon. And, a third one lies untouched on a sunny colored couch that matches the color of her bystanders, three men made of foam.
He wears a perfectly tailored suit, round glasses and polished shoes. With neither pride nor pretension, he stands next to three dress forms and smiles with modest assurance. He is showing three examples of design suffused with Asian references: an ethereal Valentino dress designed by Maria Grazia Chiuri and Pierpaolo Piccioli (a/w 2013/14) in shades of white and cobalt blue evoking the Yuan dynasty porcelain, a bright red dress with a fur neckline from Tom Ford’s last collection
It’s 10 am on the High Line in New York City, and two women in red cocktail dresses walk down the old railway turned greenway one after the other, each holding a book to her chest. Curator and director of the public art program for the High Line, Cecilia Alemani does not look surprised by the early morning action that could be some kind of independent performance. “It happens all the time. This shows just how creative this neighborhood is,” she comments with laughing eyes,
Walking into Mary Katrantzou’s London office, I encounter a happy Cyclops, a figure with a wide-open eye and long voluptuous hair wearing a dress from her 2009 collection inspired by perfume bottles. The portrait by artist/illustrator Craig Redman, who uses the name Darcel, is part of a series for the Parisian boutique Colette. The series includes fashion legends like Coco Chanel, members of the current fashion establishment such as Anna Winter and rising stars like the Greek designer Mary Katrantzou
In the brightly lit living room of his yacht Guilty, Dakis Joannou displays his new set of publications 2000 Words conceived by his good friend and curator of the 2013 Venice art biennale Massimiliano Gioni. “My relationship with Massimiliano goes way back. He interviewed me for Flash Art, when he was twenty-five, or maybe even younger. In 2004 he was one of the five curators of the exhibition Monument to Now and after that he started having an active role.”
Enter Nina Yashar’s home and you enter Nina Yashar’s eclectic universe where Italian Grazia Toderi’s aerial photo of the myriad twinkling lights of London’s night sky is the centrepiece of her collection. In the photograph, the brightest city lights trace luminous geometries on a majestic blue background as if they were simulating the celestial constellations. “The artist was thinking of Italo Calvino,” the owner says, and in particular of a city called “Andria” found in his book Invisible Cities,
Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette’s sparkling prose made her an international sensation. Although her fictional plots and characters are scandalous, her famous journal Paris from my Window is more subtle with its observations of nature and descriptions of the loyal tenants of the district of the Palais Royal. It is the stories of the children, though, that dominate the pages of that particular work. Today in front of that same window at 9 Rue de Beaujolais overlooking the gardens of the Palais Royal,