Spiders inform Tomás Saraceno’s latest art installation

What can we learn from spiders and their intricate woven webs, and how can this help us find sustainable ways of sensing and inhabiting the environment? Take a look at the installation by the Berlin based artist Tomás Saraceno. From the cosmic web to the minute dust particles collecting on the silken threads, it makes for a provocative dialogue on our connections to one another, and to the wider universe.

Take a closer look in my report in Wallpaper*.

Images © STUDIO TOMA?S SARACENO “Hybrid Dark solitary semi-social Cluster BD–15 3966 built by: a duet of Nephila edulis – six weeks, a quintet of Cyrtophora citricola -eight weeks, rotated 180°, 2018”. Spidersilk, carbon fiber, metal, ink acrylic

 

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BMW Art Journey with Art Basel explores civilisations

BMW Group Culture support some interesting cultural programmes including the Art Journey initiative with Art Basel which encourages the chosen artist to let the experience of their journey organically mould the artwork. Last year US artist Jamal Cyrus travelled to Europe, Africa and Latin America, tracing the migration of slaves to assess their cultural impact along their journey. In the previous year, the British artist Abigail Reynolds took on lost libraries along the Silk Road. This year the Berlin-based Zac Langdon-Pole will follow the flight path of birds, travelling along the earth’s axis through Central Europe and the Pacific Islands as a way of understanding how cultures intersect with the science of celestial mapping – how this flows into larger existential inquiries about who we are, and our role in this world.

I met the artist in his first stop in London. Read the full article (via) Wallpaper*

Read about last year’s Art Journey winner here.

All images © Zac Langdon-Pole for Michael Lett Gallery and Art Basel

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Japan House London presents ‘Subtle’ to salute paper art

Paper is alive. Paper breathes. Paper is ever-evolving, changing conceptually and physically with time. Paper can be moulded, manipulated, sculpted. It can be decorative, functional, seductive, argumentative. It can even deceive. ‘Subtle: Delicate or Infinitesimal’ at Japan House London explores the possibilities of paper.

The show is curated and directed by Kenya Hara, the gallery’s global chief creative director and art director at Muji. The display is subtle, modest even, set within the building’s clean and clear deco beauty. It begs you to walk up, take an intimate look at these delicate objects and read the accompanying text which adds intrigue. For instance, the Origata Design Institute writes alongside its exhibit: ‘The act of folding paper – once you fold, you cannot return to the original state… but then you create structure and entrust your feelings onto paper.’

‘Subtle’ follows a successful run at Japan House’s other galleries in Los Angeles and São Paulo. The idea originates from the Takeo Paper Show, which began in Tokyo in 1965 as a way of engaging artists, challenging them to find new potentials for paper. Fifteen creatives living and working in Japan are on show here. They come from a diverse set of disciplines too – art, animation, architecture, fashion, graphic design and literature – each introducing their very own unique layer to this intriguing paper narrative. It reminds us of the value of the material, whilst highlighting the delicate craft of paper art in a modern light.

‘Subtle’ is at Japan House London until 24 December.
All images are © Jeremie Souteyrat, Japan House London.

Read about the previous exhibitions at Japan House.

Design Talks | The Textile Building | 29a Chatham Place | London | E9 6FJ | UK
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Barbican’s Modern Couples explores art, intimacy and the avant-garde

‘Some women fight and others do not,’ observes Joan Didion in her The White Album. ‘Like so many guerrillas in the wars between sexes, Georgia O’Keeffe seems to have been equipped early with an immutable sense of who she was and a fairly clear understanding that she would be required to prove it,’ the American author writes of the great American painter. Much like the handful of female artists struggling within a very male modern art world, O’Keeffe refused to be considered a ‘woman painter’. She was brave and famously outspoken, writing of her flower series which she felt were sentimentalised by the male gaze, ‘I made you take time to look at what I saw, and when you took time to really notice my flowers you hung all your associations with flowers on my flower and you write about my flower as if I think and see what you think and see – and I don’t.’

Georgia O’Keeffe’s romance with the photographer and gallery owner Alfred Stieglitz, who she met in 1918 and later married, is amongst the forty art couples featured in a rich and engaging exhibition opened at the Barbican in London. Modern Couples: Art, Intimacy and the Avant-garde is the story of modern art in the first half of the 20th century told through relationships. The Barbican refuses to portray the woman as victim here – purposely avoiding the tired artist-as-muse narrative. Instead Modern Couples highlights how the union of two – or in some cases three as friends and lovers, straight, bi and gay – can create exciting artistic dialogues.

‘Its new take on modern art history, focusing on collaboration and mutual influence in intimate relationships, could not be timelier,’ says Jane Alison, the Barbican’s head of visual arts. ‘The show offers visitors a deeply personal and revealing insight into the transformative impact artists’ had on each other. Ultimately it is an exhibition about modern art and modern love.’

Organised by Centre Pompidou-Metz in collaboration with Barbican, it forms part of the gallery’s  The Art of Change, a year-long series exploring the relationship between art, society and politics. Modern Couples offers an insight to the life and work of an incredibly rich collection of painters, sculptors, photographers, architects, designers, writers, musicians and performers, shown alongside personal photographs, love letters, gifts and rare archival material. This is not your usual crowd-pleasing, instagramable exhibition. There is so much to take in, and so much to learn in the brilliant béton brut Barbican.

Amongst the legendary duos here are Camille Claudel and Auguste Rodin, Barbara Hepworth and Ben Nicholson, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, Dora Maar and Pablo Picasso, the brilliant Lee Miller and Man Ray, Virginia Woolf and Vita Sackville-West. Then there are some surprising unions, for instance Federico García Lorca and Salvador Dalí, or Emilie Flöge and Gustav Klimt. Seen as a muse in the past, Flöge was a talented fashion designer who ran her own couture house in Vienna, and happened to be Klimt’s partner. Both shared a euphoric sense of a new world of art outside the confines of academic tradition and a love of textiles and ornamentation, which clearly fed into both their practices. The photographs they took of each other are fun and full of life.

Others such as Lucia Moholy and László Moholy-Nagy are a union as much about love as shared ideology that helped alter the creative landscape. One particular highlight is Leonora Carrington’s exceptional portrait of Max Ernst, taken in 1937, a coded double portrait (pictured here). At the intersection of design and art, we get to see the Omega workshop created by Vanessa Bell, Roger Fry and Duncan Grant in 1913; there are Aino Aalto and Alvar Aalto and their Artek design company in Helsinki opened in 1935; and Eileen Gray and Jean Badovici’s modernist villa, E1027, in the south of France – featured here with original furniture pieces.

Modern Couples includes intimate relationships in all their forms – obsessional, conventional, mythic, platonic, fleeting, life-long – to reveal the way in which creative individuals came together. They often transgressed the constraints of their time, reshaping art, redefining gender stereotypes and forging news ways of living and loving. Crucially, the exhibition challenges the idea that the history of art is a single line of solitary, predominantly masculine geniuses.

This is a fascinating portrait of creative relationships, an engaging study of connections and conversations, of the brave and brilliant, daring and dynamic female and male artists, designers, writers of the early part of the last century. To quote the curators, it is a tale of ‘modern art and modern love, the seductive power of art …’. On until January and not to be missed.

Nargess Banks

All images are for press publication only and are subject to copyright. See individual descriptions for detail. #moderncouples

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Design Talks is published by Spinach Design
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Hayward Gallery’s Space Shifters offers new perspectives

We live in peculiar times. Reality, fact, truth is under fire – replaced with a cocktail of fiction. Increasingly we are made to feel detached from the reality of others as news, war, death all become passing images. So, it feels apt to turn it all up-side-down – to see all around from different perspectives. This is the theme behind ‘Space Shifters’, the new exhibition at the Hayward Gallery in London. The surrounding Southbank Centre and its sincere civic promise, then the Hayward’s brutalist solid structure yet soft, tactile concrete walls and rooms flooded with natural light, are perfectly fitting to experience reality on its head.

Here, our sense of space is completely disrupted through twenty installation pieces and sculptures by a powerhouse of international artists. Yayoi Kusamas, Anish Kapoor, Richard Wilson are exploring how – through shape and translucent materials – they can indulge in a little play on our perceptions. They also offer an alternative view of minimalism. Rather than the usual dry, geometric and serial minimalism, the collection here are altogether more alluring and playful.

Some of the artists featured have explored the double meaning of reflection – the physical mirroring of an object and the contemplative act. One of the highlights is at the top of the concrete ramp – an installation by Daniel Steegmann Mangrané inspired by the shape of pouring concrete stairwells. It asks us to form a new narrative with the architecture of the Hayward Gallery.

‘Space Shifters’ alters our focus. We see ourselves differently – perhaps as others may see us. The audience become participants, approaching the art, entering sculptures, becoming animated. The space is flooded with strange reflections of distorted faces and inverted bodies. And yes, it is a selfie paradise. This isn’t to say ‘Space Shifters’ is presenting art as a theme park. Rather, here there is room for contemplation to allow space for other realities.

Design Talks | The Textile Building | 29a Chatham Place | London | E9 6FJ | UK
Design Talks is published by Spinach Design
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