Visit London Blog » contemporary art Enjoy the very best of London Fri, 01 Aug 2014 10:06:52 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Alternative Guide to the Universe at the Hayward Gallery Tue, 11 Jun 2013 14:08:45 +0000 The Hayward Gallery Alfred Jensen, All the Beautiful Systems, 1979 - oil on canvas - The Museum of Everything Alfred Jensen, Twelve Events in a Dual Universe, 1978 - oil on canvas - National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of the Collectors Committee Bodys Isek Kingelez, Hirochima Palace, Palais d'Hirochima, 1991, CAAZ - The Pigozzi Collection, Geneva Bodys Isek Kingelez, International Sports, Sports Internationaux, 1997, Courtesy Andre Magnin, Paris Richard Greaves, The Sugar House or the Sugar Shack, 2001 and The Three Little Pigs House (side view), 2001 - photos by Mario del Curto Emery Blagdon, the 'Healing Machine' William Scott Remote Controlled Cart with Clothing, 2013, mixed media, Courtesy of artist - Wu Yulu

Step into a parallel universe at the Hayward Gallery this summer where mavericks, visionaries and outsiders have created an untraditional perspective of the world we live in, through art.

The Alternative Guide to the Universe exhibition comes as part of the Southbank Centre’s Festival of Neighbourhood. I went along to the press view, to delve into the world of eccentric art, before it officially opened today.

The exhibition focuses on individuals who depart from the accepted way of thinking and re-imagine the rules of culture and science, featuring contributions from self-taught artists and architects, fringe physicists, dreamers and visionary inventors who have created an artistic landscape that stretches to the far horizons of our imagination. Ralph Rugoff, director of the Hayward Gallery, described the exhibition as “going outside the parameters of the so-called art world … going outside the parameters of the so-called outsider art world.”

Through paintings, drawings, sculpture, photography and architectural models; alternative calendars, a detailed human nervous system, scientific charts, engineering plans, functioning robots and blueprints for cities of the future and the evolution of human consciousness are created.

What I found particularly thought-provoking was that this art isn’t produced to purely be aesthetically pleasing, but that its creators are motivated by a wide range of concerns. William Scott, for example, worked on a planning project to see his hometown of San Francisco rebuilt to be “spiritually and physically transformed” believing this change will come about from encounters between UFO’s and members of his local Baptist Church, enabling people to reinvent their lives.

Several photographers in the exhibition explore fictional identities and alter egos, including a homeless artist from Chicago, Lee Godie, who used photo-booths to create hundreds of self-portraits, portraying herself in different guises.

Most fascinating was the remote control child robot you can see wandering around the exhibition, created by Wu Yulu to chase people. Wu began creating the robots with specific abilities, such as cleaning and washing the dishes, with rubbish he found near his farm.

And that’s not all, upstairs is the Museum of Everything, a world famous wandering space for undiscovered artists of modern time. In keeping with the reinvention of reality, a number of sculptures, photographs and film are dedicated to visionary builder, Nek Chand. He has spent more than 50 years creating the world’s greatest outdoor art environment, the “Rock Garden”, outside Chandigarh, India, which is formed completely from scrap materials covering 20 acres.

If you want to explore the art further, you can take part in one of the tours, where you will visit the exhibition in the company of artists, scholars, curators and writers, who will present their own views on the artwork

Whether you are an art fanatic or not, this exhibition is sure to make you think outside of the conventional and question the definition of “normal” art.

Alternative Guide to the Universe at the Hayward Gallery until 26 August.

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Art of Change: New Directions from China at Hayward Gallery Wed, 05 Sep 2012 16:33:45 +0000 Xu Zhen, In Just a Blink of an Eye (2005/2012), ©the artist 2012,  Photo: Linda Nylind Liang Shaoji, Bed /Nature Series No.10  (1993-1999), ©the artist 2012, Image courtesy the artist and ShanghART Gallery Chen Zhen, Purification Room (2000/2012), ©the artist 2012, Photo Linda Nylind

This morning I attended the preview for the Hayward Gallery’s new exhibition Art of Change: New Directions from China, which opens on Friday.

The exhibition shows performance art or installations by eight contemporary Chinese artists on the theme of change.

Art of Change is certainly one of the most unusual and interactive shows I’ve seen at the Hayward Gallery. All the works are in a state of change, allowing the artists to explore notions of impermanence and transformation.

The first installation is a piece of gym equipment which you can move yourself via remote control. In the next room, a performer tucks herself into a sleeping bag on a shelf, while another pokes her head through a shelf.

It soon became clear that we were not alone – striped pyjama-clad performers were silently following some of us around the gallery, stopping patiently when we paused to read, and following quickly when we changed direction.

The real “wow” moments for me are Xu Zhen’s In Just a Blink of an Eye, where a person seemingly floats in mid-air. This was the one that got people talking – “is it a real person,” “how do they do that?” It is a real person, although I didn’t see him blink or even breathe.

Liang Shaoji’s Nature Series is another highlight: a room full of items around which silkworms have spun their cocoons, from giant chains to tiny bed wire bed frame. There’s also a darkened room where you can sit on a cushion and “listen to zen,” the sound of silkworms eating and spinning. You even see live silkworms in the next room.

The upper and lower galleries have a more sombre tone. Here you can see a room of work by controversial duo Peng Yu and Sun Yuan, including a four metre tall tower made of human fat siphoned off during liposuction, and a room of objects covered in mud by the late Chen Zhen.

There’s also a digital archive where you can find out more about each of the artists in the exhibition, and about the development of installation and performance art in China from 1979 to the present.

Art of Change: New Directions from China is at the Hayward Gallery from 7 September to 9 December 2012

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Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2010 Thu, 10 Jun 2010 15:05:45 +0000 © David Mach: Silver Streak. Coat Hangers. Photo By: Jonny Payne © Anselm Kiefer: Einschusse. Oil, Emulsion and Acrylic with Mixed Media. Photo By: Jonny Payne © Ruth Dupre: Butchery. Glass and Wood. Photo By: Jonny Payne

Visit London was allowed a sneak preview of this year’s Summer Exhibition at London’s Royal Academy of Arts. It certainly is an impressive display of some of the best in contemporary art.

While work by David Hockney and Tracey Emin is a major draw and rightly so, the most impressive work is arguably by some lesser-known artists.

The theme of the Royal Academy Summer Exhibition 2010 is “raw” and that’s certainly conveyed in the paintings. Bright colours, in particular a burning orange, dominate much of the work.

The notion of raw is also transferred in sculptural form with David Mach’s Silver Streak, an imposing ten-foot tall gorilla made from coat hangers dominating Gallery VII.

If contemporary art is not your thing, head to the Lecture Room where drafts and models by some of the World’s most influential architects are shown. It’s worth looking to find the next Gherkin, The O2 or Millennium Bridge, arguably some of London’s most treasured landmarks.

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Grayson Perry: The Walthamstow Tapestry Tue, 20 Oct 2009 17:16:24 +0000 The Walthamstow Tapestry by GraysonPerry

If you’ve never been before, now’s an excellent time to visit the Victoria Miro gallery. A little off the beaten track, but more than worth the effort, this bright and airy space is one of the largest and most interesting commercial art galleries in London.

Designed specifically for the Victoria Miro, The Walthamstow Tapestry is maverick potter Grayson Perry’s largest work to date. Three metres high by fifteen metres long, the tapestry is shown with a number of new ceramic works – which I think are extraordinary. How anyone can pack so much information, imagery, attitude and beauty into the surface of a gentle ceramic is a total wonder.

The tapestry explores the insane, quasi-religious adoration of consumerism and is vibrant and colourful. Apparently, Grayson was inspired by antique batik fabrics from Malaysia and eastern European folk art. The work is busy with depictions of people doing ordinary things – shopping, ironing, walking the dog etc. and almost every inch of the tapestry is devoted to brands. At Victoria Miro until 7 November 2009.

Grayson Perry will be talking to Will Self about his work and influences at the British Library on 9 November. For booking details, please visit the British Library’s website.

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Pop Life: Art in a Material World at Tate Modern Tue, 29 Sep 2009 13:48:15 +0000 Reconstruction of Keith Haring's Pop Shop at Tate Modern

If you’re into contemporary art, you’ll definitely want to see Tate Modern‘s new exhibition, Pop Life: Art in a Material World.

The show features work by many groundbreaking artists, including Andy Warhol, Damien Hirst, Tracey Emin, Keith Haring and Jeff Koons.

Across 17 rooms, Pop Life charts the way that artists have embraced commerce and celebrity in an increasingly multi-media world.

The show starts with a look at the work of Andy Warhol, who once proclaimed, “Good business is the best art.”

Warhol sold his services as a portrait artist for a fixed fee, and you can see his paintings of celebrities such as Mick Jagger, David Hockney and Grace Jones.

Other items on show include copies of Warhol’s Interview magazine, advertising images, videos of the artist and friends in the Factory studio, and wallpaper covered with pictures of Warhol’s face.

In the following rooms, you’ll see the work of a new generation of artists, who followed in Warhol’s footsteps and became part of mass media culture.

One highlight is a recreation of Keith Haring’s Pop Shop, which originally opened in New York in 1986.

The shop has been faithfully reconstructed at Tate Modern, complete with black and white patterned walls and 80s house music. You can even buy Haring’s sew-on patches, badges and t-shirts from a hatch in the wall, manned by staff from the Tate shop.

Other must-see exhibits include:

  • Damien Hirst’s glittering Memories of / Moments with You, made from gold and diamonds
  • A metalic bronze room containing the work of Pruitt Early (Rob Pruitt and Jack Early), whose work explores popular conceptions of race and adolescence
  • Images of artist and porn star Cosey Fanni Tutti, whose exhibition at the ICA was taken down after people complained about the adult content
  • A gallery dedicated to the Young British Artists, including items from Tracey Emin and Sarah Lucus’s shop in Bethnal Green, East London

Allow a few hours to walk around the entire exhibition, and prepare to be starstruck!

Pop Life: Art in a Material World opens at Tate Modern on 1 October.

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