By the Sea. Report from Marseille

For its first edition in 2007 the Art-o-Rama hosted only five galleries, under skeptical observations from the Paris art scene about the chances of a fair in a poor city like Marseille. Sixteen years later, the fair has become a significant end-of-summer event with an international program, and cooperation with other institutions in and beyond the Provence. Even Parisians leave their city to enjoy art ‘by the sea’ and see what France’s second city has to offer.

Read my impression from the Art-o-Rama fair here on the website of DAMN magazine.

Salt in the Wound. Encountering Contemporary Artists across Europe

Salt in the Wound takes the reader on a journey through Europe, to visit contemporary artists in the places where they live and work. The book looks into the relationship between the work of the artists and their environment. What are the differences in cultural climate between Tallinn and Thessaloniki, between London and Lisbon? Through studio visits, exhibition reviews and conversations, the author reflects on the imagination of leading European artists, and how it relates to both local histories and the global art practice.

The book contains essays on the work of Miroslaw Balka, Anton Henning, Flo Kasearu, Bernard Frize, Anish Kapoor, Michael Borremans. Lia Kazakou, Sejla Kameric, Norbert Bisky, Monika Sosnowska, Janis Avotins, Luc Tuymans , Paula Rego, Klaas Kloosterboer, Irina Botea , Bridget Riley, Marc Mulders , Sean Scully.

Published by Garret Publications, Helsinki, 2019.

Order the book online through Amazon (USA), through Walther König (Germany, Austria) through Abebooks (UK), through Suomalainen (Finland) or find it in selected bookstores and museum shops around the world:

Berlin (Uslar & Rai, St. George’s), Düsseldorf (Kunst im Tunnel), Bonn (Kunstmuseum), New York (Mcnally Jackson, Printed Matter), Columbus Ohio (Wexner Center for the Arts), Bloomington Indiana (Friends of the Arts Bookshop), Los Angeles (Hennessy + Ingalls), Riga (Careva Gallery), Helsinki (Nide), Vienna (Walther König), Amsterdam (Athenaeum, Stedelijk Museum), Maastricht (Dominicanen) and others

Book sellers can order through Ideabooks, Amsterdam here



The Things of the World are Rock – Maria Capelo

The publication ‘The Things of the World are Rock’ brings together recent drawings and paintings of Lisbon based artist Maria Capelo. They were shown in the Pavilhão Branco in Lisbon earlier this year. The title of the exhibition catalog is borrowed from words by Cesare Pavese. The artist shares with Pavese a deep interest in landscape, and in the traces of life and history that can be observed in nature.

I visited Capelo’s exhibition in Lisbon and wrote in response the essay ‘Rock Solid Vivid’ which was published in the catalog, along with texts by Tobi Maier and João Pinharanda. The book is published by the Galerias Municipais in Lisbon.

“All the drawings bring our attention to the surface of things, and show structure, strong contrast. They are refined, we see the thinnest of lines and folds, like in a hand palm. What the works share is a transformational unpredictability and suggestiveness. The depicted motifs seem to be willing to become something else. A tree is a bone. A branch is a leg. A bush is a vulva. Stepping into the work, causes a chain of associations. “My work has always that approach, of observing, contemplating and reorganizing what you can see.” Capelo remarked. So she makes landscapes – but she also makes something else.” (fragment from the essay ‘Rock Solid Vivid’)

Book Launch in Riga

On June 5th, 2019, Salt in the Wound was presented in the Latvian capital Riga with a talk and discussion at Careva Gallery. With this event the gallery launched its art book store in the city centre, at Kalku Iela 24.

One of the chapters of Salt in the Wound is conceived in Latvia, as I was a resident at the International Writers and Translators House in Ventspils. From there I started to explore the Latvian landscape, history and habits, and the cultural environment. The result can be read in ‘Notes from Latvia,’ which recalls, among others, a meeting with painter Janis Avotins in his studio in Riga.

“‘Art shouldn’t be sentimal,’ Avotins says – partly because we’re talking about the relationship between his work and the history of Latvia. The figures he paints are based on photographs from magazines of the Russian era. At his studio I see folders full of neatly ordered cuttings, all images from a time gone by, the time in which he was born. He is interested in the postures of the people in the photographs, not in the individuals themselves. Or, you could say, he looks at the way people are specifically not individuals.” (fragment from ‘Notes from Latvia’).

Next Book launch: University of South Carolina Aiken, 30 Sept. 2019

Meeting with Rachel Whiteread

One of my highlights of 2018 was meeting with British artist Rachel Whiteread in Vienna to talk about her exhibition in Belvedere21. For her it was the first come back to the city after making the much discussed holocaust memorial.

There is something about plaster that is incredibly special. It is really ancient; it comes from rock that is turned to powder, you add water it becomes liquid, heats up and dries, and pours the surface away from the object you are casting from – every minute detail. It is almost like alchemy.”

The full interview was published in DAMN magazine and can be read online here

Vienna Contemporary

The Vienna Contemporary is an art fair with a focus on Eastern Europe. This year’s edition was a welcome reminder that Europe has more to offer then nationalistic fears and (talk about) border patrols. The fair is an encouragement to cross into new territory, practice some mental migration and see what artists make in regions of Europe that are not typically in the spotlight of attention.  I combined a visit to the fair with some studio- and gallery visits in the city, to find interesting artists at work, such as Erwin Bohatsch, Béatrice Dreux (Image: ‘Dark Octopussy’) and Michael Horsky. My report was published in print in the Belgian H-Art magazine #185 (in Dutch) and can also be read and viewed here .

Riga Biennial of Contemporary Art

In her opening speech, the curator of the Riga Biennial of Contemporary Art, Katerina Gregos, pointed to our busy and stressed ways of living, leaving many people with burnouts or existential fears. In some of the artworks this is reflected quite literally, while other sections of the biennial shift the attention and try to offer an antidote. The Biennial touches on many topics of our current times, luckily without degrading the art works to mere illustrations. The biennial was one of the better surprises of the 2018 summer, and still on view till October 28 in the Latvian capital. For DAMN magazine I wrote a report about how Riga and the arts relate, which you can read here

 

 

Interview with Marc Trujillo

In Los Angeles I met with painter Marc Trujillo to talk about his ambivalent appreciation of American culture and his interest in the Dutch old masters. All American consumer places such as retail stores, gas stations and fast food restaurants appear in his work, painted with precision, in a way that no camera could capture.  “I am American. I have mixed feelings about all this stuff. I am ashamed of Pizza Hut; I feel bad about it and meanwhile… I’m starting to get a little hungry. If you would have shown up with some slices, I would have probably liked that.”

You can read the full text in the autumn edition of Elephant magazine (Elephant #36, 2018) or here.

Report from Marseille

For the German Tagesspiegel I went to Marseille to visit the  Art-O-Rama fair and measure the artistic temperature in France’s second largest city. While artists and gallerists say there is not much market and future in Marseille, the Art-O-Rama tries to prove the opposite, and energizes the city – at least once a year.  You can read the text in German here