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Curator Feature / Interview with Sade English, founder of Anticlone Gallery

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW

Text:
E m m a n u e l l e  M a r e c h a l

Curator Feature/Interview with Sade English, founder of Anticlone Gallery

Founder and Artistic director of Anticlone Sade English, invited me into her Home Studio to discuss Anticlone Gallery and the evolution of her journey and the Arts industry as she see’s it. The Anticlone Gallery is the evolution of a conceptual and contemporary Art which platforms an unparalleled selection of unique, non conformist Artists.
Surrounded by a mixture of Contemporary and African Art, we turn the tables on the multifaceted Curator, who usually is the one asking Artists questions. Personally invited by Sade, I am the first Black female journalist to interview her yet. Signifying a change and demand for representation not just within the Arts & Design Industry, but globally.

Studio Shots

As the Founder of Anticlone , it is known as a movement, concept, and now Gallery. Can you talk us through Anticlone as a movement and concept, please?

The Anticlone Definition is: to not conform to society. Anticlone as a concept has evolved through life experience, whilst breaking down and understanding society as a whole. I recognised society has a somewhat closed minded view that attempts to prevent our true freedom of expression. This was from experiencing first-hand, the contradictions we face as we evolve as individuals from adolescent to adult age. Especially within the media, educational system and society’s overall impression on how we should or shouldn’t be. We are almost becoming clone like through existing rather than truly living. Witnessing societies constant desire for all to conform to the ‘norm’, created an urge to resist which birthed the term Anticlone.

Anticlone became the conceptual term for my first project in 2013, SADE ENGLISH a Visual Arts and Design brand. With this, the concept became a movement consisting of Artists and likeminded creatives that shared thoughts and methods of expression all through simple conversation. The term Anticlone has become a beacon for individuals to collectively share whether in front of my lens, or now through their own Artistry within Anticlone Gallery. Anticlone as, a concept is embodying non-conformity.

Studio Shots

Can you tell us what your vision of the art world/industry is at the moment? What was the reason that led you to create Anticlone Gallery?

Art to me has and will always mean expression. It’s an unspoken language that enables great conversation which has always been necessary. However, the Arts industry as it currently stands seems to narrate a repetitive story, that’s has not evolved. Artists that are currently seen as ‘of the moment’ to me personally, seem to have as similar back story. The story being, Arts institutions, mentorships, internships etc, have the same mundane narration which is projected as the only route to what society sees as a ‘successful’ Artist. To me, the Art world is not evolving with the Artists, but instead the Artists must surrender to suit the Art world. I have noticed this, which led for me to create Anticlone Gallery.

Whilst I founded Anticlone, the definition bonds an entire community which has evolved to become a movement and collective of powerful individuals who do not allow society to mould, devolve, nor silence their freedom of expression. Anticlone Gallery was made, in memory of my late mother Marcia Byfield, a Graphics Designer and Teacher who uplifted and embraced non conformity. Myself embracing nonconformity, after witnessing her death in February in 2020, I made it my duty to develop the Anticlone concept into a Gallery.

Studio Shots

Your gallery specialises in Conceptual Contemporary Art & Design. Whilst the Anticlone movement describes the Art produced in the era we are currently living in, it feels like the Arts industry as whole is stuck on both the past, and Artists of the past. Why is that in your opinion?

The Arts industry like all establishments has set traditions and foundations, we know Art signifies expression of the Human mind. The past is essential in order to learn from, for this reason history has always been important. However it’s repetitive teachings and practises of old skills alongside continued discussions of the same Artists, in my opinion is to mould and pre-empt which Art is socially acceptable. All Artists are gifted and talented in their own right, however Individuality becomes less apparent and somewhat blurred, when the industry reinforces old styles, or Artist from the past. The ability to create something completely new is rare, and perhaps even impossible as we are subconsciously inspired by things before and around us. I believe if the Arts industry showcases the same Art, style, methods and
teachings, it hinders true freedom of expression. Art as expression is often in response to societies control. Freedom of expression in my opinion should always be the focus, true freedom of non-conformist expression is what at the core of Anticlone.

Portrait

Portrait

Portrait

Do you feel that also explains why artists from non-conventional backgrounds don’t get the visibility they deserve?

Artist from non-conventional backgrounds rarely get visibility. However, there is a small handful, these few are often connected and manoeuvre within the Arts industry within the same circles, it is never by chance. The Arts industry wants to showcase diversity, Globally we see this is apparent and a change has come, but the balance of non-conventional vs conventional is still far from equal. Alongside class, gender and race, I feel that the Arts Industry is built upon a legacies of individuals that lead the culture for this reason it will always recognise Artist’s from conventional backgrounds over an independent artist. Welcoming Artists from all different frames of life is essential in order to nurture raw talent, conversation and expression to be shared. Talent is far from few, but access to talented Artists is the problem. Due to
titles used such as ‘emerging’ or ‘established’, raw talent is not often platformed into the mainstream media. Stressing the importance and value of true expression, without surrendering neither the industry nor society’s labels. Anticlone Gallery has removed these blurred terminologies altogether, enabling the viewer to appreciate Art for what it is, an expression of self.

What should an artist have to be exhibited in your gallery? Can you tell us about some of your Artists and why their work matters?

Simply true freedom of expression, as human beings we have dealt with conformity in one way or another, the freedom to create authentically and transparently is the foundation for each Artist within my Gallery. The ability to share our emotions, thoughts and indifference through visuals is powerful. Every artist that Anticlone Gallery represents matters, I cannot single out one, Othello De‘ Souza Hartley, Conrad Armstrong, George Kanis, Parma Ham, Alexandra Jamies, Elika Bo, Robert Mateusz Marciniak and Tia Yoon’s work all matter. Each Artists is a multidisciplinary within their works, they embody Anticlone.

Conrad Armstrong

You are an artist yourself, but you’re also a woman and mixed-race. How did your experience inform your decision to create Anticlone Gallery?

Being both Founder as well as an Artist enables me to have a grounded and level understanding of what Artist themselves wish their work to symbolise. Understanding the technique through my own Art background, gives me an advantage that in my opinion cannot be taught. Having a concrete relationship with my Artists enables trust, as I truly believe Art is an extension of each Individual’s lived experience in some way or another. To be vulnerable is strength and each trust me with their vulnerability through representing their work, which I am thankful for.

Being a woman, and a Mixed-Race woman doesn’t solely define me, however it is a huge part of my tory, being of Native America/Italian , Jamaican and African ancestry has given me the strength and confidence to move forward and achieve ambitions and goals with great pride, women in the history of Art were often seen as a Muse. I as a woman, and a Mixed-Race woman at that , am here to own my place within the Arts industry shamelessly.

Conrad Armstrong

Your gallery is dedicated to your late mother. Is legacy important to you? Why?

There are few Black/Native American owned galleries in London. So legacy is extremely important to me, my ancestry is rich with culture and creativity, my Jamaican great grandmother & grandmother Daphne English were both Dressmakers before immigrating to England. My brand SADE ENGLISH is named in Memory of her. While my Mother was and Artist & Art Director before becoming one of very few Black teachers in schools she taught in. All of the women in my life have paved a way for me to have the confidence and ability to be where I am today, I take it upon myself to represent them. Legacy paves way for others to know what they are cable of.

You are creating quite a unique gallery in the art space, with a pool of creatives whose craft is different from one another. You also seem to pay a lot of attention to their stories, why is that?

I personally feel peoples lived experiences is what makes them human, this is what bonds humanity as a whole. Understanding an Artist’s personal journey and experience in my opinion gives me a clear insight of their Art is on a deeper level. Art is an extension of an Individual, however it cannot determine the Artists entire existence, only a small entity.

Alejandra jaimes

Anticlone Gallery was meant to be a physical space, but you had to change your plans due to COVID19. How was/is the process?

The Plan is to continue developing the online platform. Lockdown has awakened ideas, where I am able to focus on ways that enable www.anticlonegallery.com to be as interactive and informative as possible. This process has been important in order to create a new dimension and connection with the viewer. Covid 19 has caused many unfortunate issues world wide, the Arts have been badly affected. It has raised many questions from both the Industry and the Artist’s to explore and adopt different methods to interact with their audience. The plan is to do a physical exhibit once it is safe, I have plans to bring Anticlone Gallery to London, Morocco, Ghana, Tokyo, Berlin and Paris.

You are creating quite a unique gallery in the art space, what would like Anticlone gallery to be and not to be when you look at other galleries? What would you like to see change?

I want Anticlone Gallery to be a safe space for all, a space where both Artists and viewers can come together to express, question and learn from one another with no barriers, whatever their background.I am a proud Londoner, I grew up in Peckham, south east London and felt free to explore everywhere, because of the confidence my late mother instilled in me, however there are many who still feel that the Arts industry is not inclusive of everyone. This is something that must change, and Anticlone Gallery is somewhere I wish break this cycle. Galleries and Museums have free collections for all, however having these things in grand spaces that do not often enough engage or interact with diverse communities is unfortunate. Change Is happening, but there is still more that needs to be done.

Tia yoon Painting

Greg Kanis

Othello De’Souza-Hartley

What is next for Anticlone Gallery?

New works from Anticlone Artists will be launching online the shop at www.anticlonegallery.com over the next few months. Alongside this there will be a series of new interviews that will be released giving the new audiences an insight to each Artist Anticlone represents. February will be the month I also introduce a new section titled Anticlone Articles to the online platform. Creatives, journalists and friends I have gained on my travels will be contributing Articles on everything from subcultures, Artists and more that embodies the definition of Anticlone, stemming globally from Los Angeles to Tokyo.

Instagram: @sadeenglish & @anticlone.gallery
Website: www.anticlonegallery.com  www.sade-english.com
Email: anticlone@sade-english.com
Twitter: @AnticloneG & @sadeenglish

Etching technique nowadays. An interview with Agnieszka Pestka Paulina Brelińska

By /ART/, /INTERVIEW
Text

Paulina Brelińska

Etching technique nowadays. An interview with Agnieszka Pestka

Agnieszka Pestka is a Polish visual artist based in New York whose works reflect personal stories from the perspective of a young and open-minded woman, a traveller. I talk with her about how she draws inspiration from the feminine power and why she decided to make the etching technique up-to-date.

 Could you say a little more about your creative path, where did you learn the graphic techniques?

 It all started when, living between Tokyo and Sydney, I decided to take a risk and go for my dreams. I know it might sound simple but it wasn’t. If I had to explain it briefly, I would say that I went to New York, where I rented an art studio and learned all the techniques I wanted to. Of course gaining knowledge was connected with my studies at the School of Visual Arts in Manhattan. It all started with a four-month course in screen printing, but discovering etching was the moment when I found the satisfaction and need for further artistic action. I enrolled in a course in etching and metal furniture making at the same time. However, once I had learnt the basics I started to follow my own creative path.

Exhibition “I don’t want to lose her“, La Vie Gallery, Warsaw 2020 fot. Nel Niezgoda

Who is your mentor? Did you meet him/her during studies?

 Larry B. Wright! I absolutely have to start the whole conversation with this personality. He was one of the lecturers at the School of Visual Arts in New York (SVA) and Robert Rauschenberg’s personal assistant. He wasn’t my teacher directly, but the one who gave all the students the incredible energy to create, get inspired and motivated. He gave me the feeling that everything is possible through hard work. I can’t wait to get back to the studio and hug him! What an amazing man!

When I look at your works I notice that you go beyond paper and prints and focus on the spatial aspects of etching, which might draw me to the conclusion that you draw inspiration mainly from the graphical matrix?

 Sometimes I do paper prints and I really appreciate paper, especially rice paper for its softness and strength at the same time. However, as I said before, metal chose me and vice versa. What appeals to me most is its coldness, strength, weight I have to handle while working on spacial forms. I knew from the first moment I entered the studio that I was in the right place. I touched the metal plate and started imagining how I can shape it. I tried working with paper several times, but it wasn’t the same as working with plates and seeing a three-dimensional form. Imagine that the viewer is inside your sculpture, hidden in the polished surface, and the acid-washed indentations can be seen not only on the work but also reflected in the space where the work is exposed. I perceive light, movement and the ever-changing space as a crucial part of my work.

What do you mean by this?

 I have shown my work in various places and in various configurations.

Agnieszka Pestka, She comes to me at night (and take me in her arms), print on rice paper, 100cm x 183 cm

What is etching to you? Do you think the art and design market is open to this technique?

 Of course it is! When it comes to the sphere of openness, I believe that art is a place of freedom! As artists, we should not look for limits but for solutions in order to exist. This is the role of the brave artist in a rapidly developing capitalist world. Of course, there are trends in art and at the moment there is certainly a lot of colour, in my opinion. But the world is always looking for new fresh looks, even when you use old techniques. Etching is a rather forgotten technique and that is why I have decided to bring it back to life. I want to represent a fresh approach. Usually my work ends up on a polished cool piece of zinc plate. Prints are created rarely or as an addition. For me, etching is unpredictable, surprising, painstaking, unlimited, but also very mine. It is the method that defines me at this moment.

You often pose with your works, how do you consider them? Are they a record of your thoughts and feelings? Do you have a problem with parting with your works?

 My life is quite intense. I am an artist but also an activist. I have lived in 14 countries, travelled a lot and always wanted to experience a lot. I met many people and interesting stories on my way. „Jasmine“ is about an American-Egyptian woman who worked for the pentagon and while washing my face, tells me about the death of her father. The sculpture „River of Blood“ brings me back to memories of watching someone strip the fur from a fox that was still alive, the canvases „Carmen“ are dedicated to the female prisoners I sat with in immigration prison, it tells of women’s freedom. „She comes to me at night (and takes me in her arms)“ tells of my temporary loss of sight. „Let me love things in you that don’t exist“ is about love, the community of women, it answers the question of how women complement each other when they connect on different levels and in many situations. The topics look very disparate but they are a whole and they are united by one common female view of reality.

Pestka Agnieszka, Water, fot. Nel Niezgoda

Exhibition “I don’t want to lose her“, Gallery La Vie, Warsaw 2020 fot. Nel Niezgoda

Agnieszka Pestka, Water, fot. Nel Niezgoda

Could you tell us more about American art world? How would you describe it?

 The United States is a big country. In Miami, New York or Los Angeles there are different rules and trends. But in general Americans are open to the art market and novelties. They appreciate handmade things, work input and personal touch of the object. You could say they are familiar with art galleries. In New York, we often go to a gallery on our way to a restaurant or during a Saturday afternoon walk. Art is really a part of big-city everyday life and thus it’s easier to be artistic and notice other artists.

Instagram: Agnieszka Pestka @peeestka
Web site:Agnieszka Pestka www.apestka.com

Art Digest: January 25—31

By /ART/, /BLOG/, /NEWS/
Text

Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest: January 25—31

What I don’t like about February, it usually feels mediocre. The last month of winter is certainly not about the heavy snow, crispy frost, and going ice skating impromptu (yet the latter may still come). When it’s February, you already crave spring, while anticipation drags on… Fortunately, the month is relatively short, especially in 2021, which is non-leap, and it also has its nice things like St. Valentine’s Day. Anyway, it’s time to cheer up with a fantastic collection of fashion shows that took place this week, some of them as part of the recent Paris Fashion Week. A bit of inspiration, and the world around miraculously transforms. Just try ✨

F A S H I O N + A R C H I T E C T U R E 

Architect’s dejavu: get inspired by Virgil Abloh’s reminiscences in Louis Vuitton’s new collection 

Let’s be honest, Louis Vuitton Fall 2021 Menswear Collection is a genuine artistic statement. Launched by Virgil Abloh, who has covered the position of Men’s Artistic Director at the fashion house since 2018, the new collection explores the childhood’s aspirations, refers to the Africo-American social and cultural experience, and pays tribute to Abloh’s personal background in architecture, everything in the short film ‘Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light’. But first things first. Remember mentioning Virgil Abloh’s MA in Architecture in one of the December Art Digests? The fashion designer graduated from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago, where, by the way, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe himself used to teach in the 1940s—1950s. Abloh gratefully recalls it, setting one part of his fashion story in the green-marble interior, which reminds of the Barcelona Pavilion designed by Mies van der Rohe and Lilly Reich for the Expo 1929.

The other locale shown in the film is a village in the Swiss mountains. The main character, a rapper and actor Saul Williams, pensively walks through the snowy valley. ‘I am no stranger anymore. The world is love to me’, he says, referring to the 1953 essay ‘Stranger in the Village’ by James Baldwin. Just like Baldwin reflected upon the history of American Negro and European relationship basing on his own life experience, Abloh incorporates the image of a wanderer and an observer into the piece. Williams’ character would later arrive at the already mentioned marble hall to meet other models, who are deemed to embody some male archetypes like the Artist, the Salesman, the Architect, the Drifter, the Writer, the Student etc (female archetypes differ, here is more). In the show notes the head of the LV Menswear Department asks: ‘What do you want to be when you grow up?’. No doubt, the fashion designer calls on our childhood dreams and, thus, shares his optimistic outlook for the future.

Another component of the ‘Peculiar Contrast, Perfect Light’ really worth mentioning is the 70-piece collection itself entitled ‘Ebonics’.

Apart from the businesslike yet invigorating garments for ‘all Jacks of Trades’, it’s a couple of the city architecture-inspired looks that immediately catches one’s eye. For example, the Paris skyline puffer jacket features such city’s landmarks as the Notre-Dame cathedral, the Eiffel Tower, the Arch de Triumph, the Panthéon, Le Grand Louvre pyramid, and a section of the Centre Pompidou. In the New York City skyline puffer jacket, which primarily consists of the skyscrapers, Abloh also paid tribute to his beloved Chicago with its John Hancock Center. One more connotation that comes to mind contemplating the architectural carnival by Louis Vuitton, is the annual ball of the Society of Beaux-Art Architects, which took place in New York in the 1930s. Architects would dress as the buildings they had designed. Well, Virgil Abloh knows how to address the past with the brightest hopes for the future, and LV Fall 2021 Menswear Collection is the best example of this.

P U R E   F A S H I O N 

Iris Van Herpen SS 2021: explore the ‘magic mushroom’ effect 

Presuming you’ve already heard of Iris Van Herpen. At least, we discussed her ethereal costumes for the ‘Biomimicry’ piece performed by Dutch National Ballet’s grand sujet JingJing Mao at the end of 2020. Well, the collaboration is over, but biomimicry remains. The 36-year-old Dutch couturier famous for fusing technologies with some traditional techniques of clothing design presented her ‘Roots of Rebirth’ SS 21 collection at the Paris Fashion Week a few days ago. It’s ‘the intricacy of fungi and the entanglement of life that breathes beneath our feet, which is at heart of ‘Roots of Rebirth’, says the official statement published on the brand’s website

No, nothing like a carnival with its jocular fussy costumes, but instead, 21 highly delicate looks that allure with its alien energy. The contemplative ingenuity of the designer is worth admiration — Van Herpen managed to subtly embody the image of the branching networks of fungi underground into the garments without exaggerating the concept. Among the models showcasing the collection, Russian supermodel Natalia Vodianova and Iranian-Dutch singer Sevdaliza also appeared on the catwalk. All due fascination, the only question, which raises concern, is: ‘Are there any terrestrial reasons to wear such a dress?’. The answer is probably no, one has to wait to receive an invitation to a space party to put on something like that.

Escapism and high emotions in Spring 2021 Haute Couture by Viktor & Rolf 

Pursuing the topic of Dutch vogue, it’s Viktor Horsting and Rolf Snoeren, the prominent duo of avant-gardists and conceptualists from the world of fashion, who have all eyes on them now. If not Viktor & Rolf, who else would astonish us by some elegant, witty collections with a drop of provocation in each of them (you know, that’s all how avant-garde works). Brand’s gowns featuring huge slogans like ‘I’m not shy, I just don’t like you,’ or ‘Sorry I’m late, I didn’t want to come, is already a common story and a secret crush object of the trendiest introverts. However, this time the designers decided to act in a more extroverted way, launching the Spring 2021 Haute Couture collection as ‘an escape into a party atmosphere’. 

A genuine couturier rave’, the latest collection by Viktor & Rolf follows an ‘anything goes’ approach and seems to be open to new experiences more than ever. Especially now when the world around doesn’t inspire the slightest confidence with human’s health at great risk, such a fashion statement sounds like a power shake or a vigorous protest against the discouraging reality. Patchwork textiles, separate balconette bras, fishnets, and signature floor-length tutus topped by omnifarious jewelry and harlequin capes create that sort of ‘party hard’ mood we all might be missing today. Alright, Victor & Rolf, the challenge is accepted. We’re ready for 2021, whatever it holds. 

‘Show Fashion’ by Alber Elbaz to change your image of vogue 

Having left Lanvin in 2016, Alber Elbaz was floating freely for five years. Now it’s time the fashion designer came up with something invigorating. Here it is, his new AZ Factory project, which is something between a fashion label and a membership club for all those enamoured of Elbaz’ ideas as a couturier. AZ Factory has recently proved itself, taking part in Paris Haute Couture Week with its hilarious ‘Show Fashion’ video. If you watch the piece, you will see: the designer’s decision to go beyond the format of traditional fashion shows is not a coincidence, but rather a consistent choice for the one who seeks to think out of the box in all spheres of life.

As for the AZ Factory Spring 2021 Couture collection, it turned out to be a true manifesto to body, comfort, and just joyful being without limits. But who can actually limit us, one may ask? What Elbaz implies here, are the socially imposed beauty standards. ‘I saw for five years, women I met for lunch how much women were struggling with their weight, and sometimes that was hard to watch, <but> we’re not here to transform women; we’re here to hug them,’ the couturier passionately explains. Just imagine a size range from XXS to XXXXL, with garments and shoes not only fitting, but also adapt to your lifestyle? Well, that might be more than fashion — something like a magic factory… AZ Factory, actually, that’s exactly what it is.

On the cover: Louis Vuitton Fall 2021 Menswear fashion show

Solo shows not to miss in 2021 (some of them)

By /ART/, /BLOG/
Text

Julia Kryshevich

Solo shows not to miss in 2021 (some of them)

Despite everything, 2021 promises to be rich in terms of art events. Is it the hungry for work museum curators or bored visitors who make this year’s exhibition plan so intensive and alluring? Among the numerous gallery projects I selected a few solo shows, both ongoing and upcoming, which guests of honor definitely deserve every bit of attention of the audience. Actually, there are twice as many one-man (let alone, group) exhibitions that have been left behind in the article. But that’s fine, we still have 11 months to catch up.  

Please note that exhibitions can be postponed or cancelled due to the COVID-19 restrictions. You will find the latest information on the institutions‘ website. Plan your visit beforehand, and enjoy your time at the museum.

YAYOI KUSAMA (b. 1929)

Gropius Bau, Berlin
March 19—August 01, 2021 

It was the midst of the last summer when we promised our readers a Yayoi Kusama retrospective in 2021. Well, nothing has changed, at least, by now. One of the best known Japanese female painters born in Nagano, Japan in 1929 will enjoy her major solo exhibition in life (long live Yayoi!). This year the project will be hosted by Gropius Bau, Berlin, followed by Tel Aviv Museum of Art in 2022.

Those acquainted with Kusama by name only might primarily recall her immersive installations with repetitive patterns like ‘Mirror Room’ (Pumpkin) presented at the Venice Biennale 1993 or even an earlier one, ‘Aggregation: One Thousand Boats Show’ (1963), which features a boat in the dark grotto overgrown with soft-sculptured phallic pieces. While these are significant and literally groundbreaking works by the artist (Kusama’s male fellows like Andy Warhol and Claes Oldenburg tried stealing her overwhelming manner of exhibiting the innocuous of incredible size), there is still a lot to say about Yayoi’s creative path. Conquering the art world of the Big Apple in the 1960s, Kusama first positioned herself as a painter with NY art galleries showcasing her canvases, without much success, though. She also organized body performances accompanied by love orgies, protesting against the Vietnam war. And the point is, Yayoi Kusama’s early period was just as interesting as her later works, that’s what the artist’s retrospective at Gropius Bau keeps in focus. A brand-new installation by Kusama ‘Infinity Mirror Room’ will also be on display. 

JASPER JOHNS (b. 1930)

Philadelphia Museum of Art, Pennsylvania, US
Whitney Museum of American Art, New York
September 28, 2021–February 13, 2022

Jasper Johns should rightly be considered another man of the hour. Turning 91 this year, the artist shows no signs of stopping, while continuing to work in his studio in Saint Martin or in New York, (depending on where he currently is). Philadelphia Museum of Art and Whitney Museum of American Art are hosting the mission to showcase the body of works by the artist over his 70-year career with a ‘Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror’ exhibition.

Recognized as one of the most paid living artists, Jasper Johns became famous for his Neo-Dada works, which, though being usually mistaken for pop art, were, actually, meant to oppose the latter. ‘I don’t want my work to be an exposure of my feelings,’ said Johns on the rise of his career. What he implied, was a conscious departure from the individualistic approach, so characteristic of abstract expressionism, which prevailed in the 1950s. Yet going into pop art would be too easy for the ingenious artist. Jasper Johns wanted to release the object, showing it the way it was, purged of any sticky connotations. And the artist did that in his early series featuring some simple items like targets (Target with Four Faces, 1955), numbers (‘0 through 9’, 1961), and, oh yes, flags (‘Flag’, 1954). Oil paint would be further replaced with printmaking techniques, readymades, and even sculpture. However, Jasper Johns has remained true to his concise and ironic manner throughout the career, which you may discover walking across the ‘Jasper Johns: Mind/Mirror’ exhibition. The artist’s tender and productive relationship with Robert Rauschenberg as well as his friendship with the inspiring duo of Merce Cunningham and John Cage is another curious aspect of his life and art, highlighted on the display. 

JOSEPH BEUYS (1921—1986)

Various venues in Europe throughout 2021

‘Everyone’s an artist,’ said Joseph Beuys, German painter, sculptor, theorist, and just one of the founders of postmodernism. Could he imagine back then, that these words would give rise not only to a catch phrase, but also to an entire approach in arts? Since artists from the whole world have rethought Beuys’ practice over the past few decades, now it’s time to solemnly bring those statements together. ‘Beuys 2021’ is a series of art events taking place in 12 German cities, Warsaw, Poland, Vienna, Austria, and Spain from January 2021 till the beginning of the next year.

Kunstakademie Düsseldorf pays tribute to the late master through the ‘Mataré + Beuys + Immendorff’ exhibition to be launched in March. Other dialogues between the artist and his colleagues will be presented by the Kunstmuseen Krefeld (‘Beuys + Duchamp’), and Bundeskunsthalle Bonn (‘Beuys + Lehmbruck’), let alone the rich program of festivals, discussions, book presentations, and concerts (see the full range of activities on the ‘Beuys 2021’ website). The choice of the venues is not accidental: the great German artist was born in Krefeld in 1921 and died in Düsseldorf in 1986. For those whose interest in Joseph Beuys’ life and arts goes beyond an amateur’s curiosity, Museum Schloss Moyland has introduced a special competition. Young scholars in the fields of science, law, economy, humanities, and other social studies are welcomed to submit their theses, dissertations, essays, as well as exhibition and educational projects related to the figure of Beuys until June 30th, 2021. The award ceremony of Joseph Beuys Research Prize will be hosted on May 14, 2022.

PAULA REGO (b. 1935) 

Tate Britain, June 16–October 24, 2021

Even if the name of Paula Rego sounds a bit less familiar to some of the readers, it doesn’t depreciate her artistic talent and contribution to culture. Portuguese artist with a strong English background, she knew how to marry up the traditional (elements from folktales she would often hear from her grandma as a child) with personal experience in her body of works. ‘The largest and most comprehensive retrospective of Paula Rego’s work to date’ is held by Tate Britain this spring, featuring over 100 works by the artist. 

Vivid imagination of Paula Rego might be admired and feared: her surreal pastels hide suspense behind the mundane images, her characters are extremely grotesque like in a child nightmare. The artist’s newlywed looks like a weary mature woman (‘Bride’, 1994), while a huge white hair has a killer’s face (‘War’, 2003). Above all, Rego is quite a consistent painter: she prefers pastels to oil paint and often depicts herself on the canvas, rather as an observer. Paula Rego focuses on the topics of war trauma and women rights exploring violence and animal nature of humankind. She also chooses figurative painting to be ‘closer’ to socio-political reality she constantly refers to. The artist’s pieces exhibited at Tate include not only her large-scale paintings, but also collage, ink and pencil drawings, etchings, and sculpture. Since Paula Rego has always loved London calling it home, Tate Britain seems to be a perfect place for her life’s biggest show.

HELEN FRANKENTHALER (1928—2011) 

Dulwich Picture Gallery, May 27–November 28, 2021

One of the first public art museums in London, the Dulwich Picture Gallery is famous for its fine collections of Old Master paintings like Italian and Spanish baroque, and British portraits from Tudor times. However, the Gallery is also open to some newer currents in art, such as postmodern painting. Helen Frankenthaler’s first major UK exhibition run by the Dulwich Picture Gallery during the coming summer and autumn seasons vividly illustrates that. ‘Helen Frankenthaler: Radical Beauty’ features around 30 works from the artist’s foundation, including both her early woodcuts and final pieces.

Frankenthaler was a true feminist. No, she neither organized any protests at the streets, nor directly implemented any feminist statements in her artistic practice. And yet she exhibited along with the men artists (remember, the art world of the 1950s was a heavily male-dominated industry) and is widely recognized as one of the pioneers of the Color Field movement. Having created her first influential painting ‘Mountains and Sea’ (1953) at the young age of 23, the painter discovered her signature technique, which she called a ‘soak stain’. Frankenhalter studied under the architect Wallace Harrison and abstract expressionist artist Hans Hoffman, naturally being influenced by them, let alone her admiration for Jackson Pollock, and despite it all, she succeeded in elaborating her own unique artistic manner. In 1964 the great and good Clement Greenberg invited Helen Frankenthaler and a few other artists such as Morris Louis and Kenneth Noland, to take part in the ‘Post-painterly abstraction’ exhibition, which Greenberg curated at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).

On the cover: Artist Jasper Johns. Photo_ Jack Mitchell 

Interview “Cecil Beaton. Celebrating Celebrity”

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L i s a  L u k i a n o v a

Interview “Cecil Beaton. Celebrating Celebrity”

An exhibition of works by British photographer Cecil Beaton will be held at the General Staff of the Hermitage from 9 December 2020 to 14 March 2021. 

Cecil Beaton (1904-1980) is among the most celebrated photographers of the 20th century. After the Second World War he became the official photographer of the British Royal Court; in 1964 he was awarded an Academy Award for his work on the film My Fair Lady. In 1972 he was honored with the title of Sir. Over a career spanning more than fifty years, he has created a portrait gallery of great personalities, from Hollywood superstars to bohemian artists, from surrealist figures to a young Elizabeth II. Beaton described his main task in portraiture as staging an apotheosis – an arrangement of a spectacular appearance of a person in high society. The exhibition “Cecil Beaton. Celebrating Celebrity” presents over 100 portraits taken by Beaton over the years from the photographer’s studio, the V&A, Vogue magazine and Vanity Fair archives. The focus will be on Russian expatriates who have defined fashion culture and posed for Beaton’s portraits.

PurpleHaze team held a short interview with the creators of the exhibition. So, the questions are answered by Julia Napolova, architect and creator of the architectural bureau PSCulture, and the curator of the exhibition “Cecil Beaton. Celebrating Celebrity”, and researcher at the State Hermitage Museum Daria Panayotti.

Hello Julia and Daria, thank you for taking time for that interview. Let’s start with a first question.Please tell us about the PSCulture Bureau, the projects it is involved in and its creation?

Julia Napolova: PSCulture was founded in 2014. From the beginning, the objectives of the Bureau have been positioned in the field of culture, and since then, the company’s course has not changed. Despite its narrow specialisation, the projects are really diverse: concepts for new museums, design of temporary exhibitions, design of international exhibitions. Each new project gives us a new perspective on the multifaceted nature of the subject we deal with. Following a professional challenge, we have put together a team according to the same principle: everyone at PSCulture has their own unique experience and style. At the moment the bureau is working on projects such as the Regalia of the Moscow Kremlin, the Moscow Planetarium exhibition and the Polytechnic Museum. In 2020, in spite of the pandemic, we opened not only Cecil Beaton in the Hermitage, but also exhibitions about Alexander III in the State Historical Museum and Yesenin in the Literary Museum named after A. Dahl. Dal.

The exhibition “Cecil Beaton. Celebrating Celebrity” was launched at the State Hermitage Museum – a project dedicated to the absolutely legendary twentieth-century photographer. Please share what it was like to organise an international exhibition amidst the pandemic?

Daria Panaiotti: At various stages of the project, the participants were required to show very rare qualities that require great composure: a blind faith that the project will happen and a desperate will to keep working at the same level of mastery; optimism in the face of logistical and other difficulties that at first seem insurmountable; the ability to mobilise quickly and start working at maximum capacity when confirmation finally comes about deadlines and the completion of the various stages of the project.

What exactly fascinated you about Cecil Beaton’s work? And why has he become the central character of this new project? Could the theme of secular photography from the turn of the century be of interest to today’s viewers? 

Daria Paniotti: Beaton can be called one of the creators of the culture in which we all live today: the culture of the celebrities, which is based on an avalanche economy of visual images. We all create our public image with selfies on social media today; Cecil Beaton formulated many rules that remain unalterable to this day. 

At the same time, it is a special challenge for the curator. The terminology relating to fashion, secularism, and public culture is poorly developed in Russian. Beaton is part of the phenomenon of British culture, which is very difficult to explain and with which it is difficult to draw parallels in Russian culture. I found this task very challenging because it was a very interesting one.

What was your main source of inspiration in the visual design of the exhibition?

Julia Napolova: The main inspiration for us was Beaton himself, his personality and approach to his work. Cecil loved unconventional moves, provocation, irony – but his camera idolised its characters. We have tried to express this contradiction through the selection of materials. Lace, as the main leitmotif of the decoration, is meant to stun the viewer with its luxury and glitter, but these stars are just a background for the real, Hollywood stars hidden behind the shimmering curtain. The texture of the decorative plaster references the velvet of the Royal House, with which Cecil has worked for many years. The perimeter display is maintained in a more austere monochrome frame, emphasising the aesthetic of black and white photography.

Tell us about the organisers of the exhibition and the team. How did it come together? 

Daria Paniotti: The Contemporary Art Department team and the Hermitage team, which consists of many professionals in a variety of fields, had a lot of help from colleagues at the British Friends Foundation. I think they were also interested in bringing in such an important name, which for some reason has remained very little known to the Russian public.

Many people say that the Internet will soon replace exhibitions. Aren’t museum exhibitions a thing of the past?

Daria Paniotti: It was very important for us to bring exactly vintage prints to the exhibition; nothing can replace the materiality of an art object and a historical object. We’ll see what the long-term effects of the pandemonium will be. Before it, the example of Sweden’s Fotografiska, an ultra-popular museum that actually takes vivid photography from the pages of creative content aggregator sites into physical space, offering a cultural experience of encountering art, a kind of accessible form of high-end consumption, shows that museums cannot replace the Internet.

What is the portrait of your target audience? In your opinion, what and how can you draw the audience’s attention and interest these days?

Daria Panayotti: The Hermitage is one of the main museums in the country, so we always have a task to work with the widest audience. We have tried to select works and compose texts accompanying the exhibition in such a way that it should also attract people, who actually came to see their favourite impressionists and to look at their works.

How do you think the art world will be in 5-10 years?

Daria Paniotti: I think there will certainly be fewer blockbuster exhibitions, and museums will work more with their collections, discovering new things and rethinking old ones. This trend, even before the pandemic, began to be set when MoMA was reorganised. Museums, even the largest ones, will turn to local, urban audiences. Curators will have to look into the eyes of their audience and learn to apply the good old laws of rhetoric, whereas before it was accepted that the curator would create meanings in cooperation with art, while the spectator was often excluded from this dialogue. In Russia, this means that the language of art talk will change in a major way; it will become more transparent, more accessible, and in big cities, it will have to be done without simplifying the content. In my opinion, a very noble task!

What are the three components of a successful exhibition? What is the best way to attract the attention of a person interested in art nowadays?

Daria Paniotti: I think this will vary greatly from country to country. The content of the exhibition needs to resonate with certain social attitudes (strangely, one of the most popular pieces in Cecil Beaton’s exhibition was a portrait of Aldous Huxley; it is a rich source of thoughts! For the Russian viewer, an introductory text which sets the modus vivendi of the art perception is very important (even if it has to be intuitive, rather than intellectual – it had better be spelled out). And, of course, the very organisation of the exhibition must „draw“ you in; it is clear that just displaying the objects in the showcases is not enough; you have to create an environment that will entice the visitor to stay longer, to extend the physical and social experience of going to a museum.

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Art Digest: January 18—24

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Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest: January 18—24

You’re an art dealer, gallerist? Managed to summarize the 2020 art year in the end of December or just going to do that? Then you would be pleased to hear. According to the Artsy Gallery Insights 2021 Report, social media has become galleries third best sales channel, pushing art fairs to the sixth place. Actually, it’s a wonderful situation. Just in 2019 digital activities of the galleries like its website, online marketplace, and social media accounts couldn’t enter the top three, taking the fourth, fifth, and sixth positions in the list respectively, while now two of them do. Digitalization works, and as we’ll see, not exclusively in the case of art galleries. Discover other findings, initiatives, and curious art projects of the week in the Digest below.

A R T 

Have an appetite for art? Check new videos by Uffizi Galleries 

‘Uffizi da mangiare’ (Uffizi on a dish) is a new series of videos and a brilliant in-house PR campaign launched by the world-famous galleries. Started on January 17, the project features Florentine chiefs presenting refined recipes, which, for its part, were inspired by the masterpieces from the Uffizi immense collection. The videos are expected to be posted in Italian every Sunday on the Facebook account of the Uffizi Galleries (indeed, the culinary language is multinational and commonly understood). Last week Fabio Picchi, head of Cibrèo Firenze restaurant, gave an online-workshop on how to cook fish and lobsters in Giacomo Ceruti’s style. Yes, just like in the ‘Ragazzo con la cesta di pesci e di aragoste’ painting (1736) by the old master.

Surprisingly or not, the Uffizi Galleries ran no social media before the pandemic. Today, the digital audience of the institution reaches 88,000 followers on Facebook and 591,000 followers on Instagram, which turned out to be a watermark for Italian museums. The Uffizi’s director Eike Schmidt is full of hope about the new project. ‘As families cook and eat these dishes, the art will be the natural conversation topic,’ she shares. Six episodes of the series are already ready for consumption, while another dozen are being prepared. In the future chiefs from other districts like France, Spain, and Britain may also be invited to cooperate. It’s the project success that might tell the trajectory of the ‘Uffizi da mangiare’ .

Da Vinci wouldn’t believe: a beer company pays homage to college diplomas (and it’s extremely expensive) 

$180,000 USD. According to the recent calculations by Natural Light Beer, this is the average cost of four-year college education in America. No, the beer brewing company didn’t go into statistics, but rather decided to hit on arts. The new installation ‘Da Vinci of Debt’ by Natural Light Beer features 2,600 real college diplomas, either hanging from the ceiling or placed in the stack of papers on the floor. The entire work is valued at $470 million USD (just multiply $180,000 by 2,600), which, actually, means two things. First, the installation slightly exceeds the cost of Leonardo Da Vinci’s ‘Salvator Mundi’, the most expensive masterpiece ever sold. Second (and this is the ‘Da Vinci of Debt’ main idea), millions of American college grads are at risk today, because of the student debt crisis raging over the last few years. 

The ‘Da Vinci of Debt’ installation is placed at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal, but you can also enjoy it remotely, visiting the company website or using an AR lens on Snapchat. Though their choice of the artistic medium might seem unusual, Daniel Blake, Natural Light Beer VP of marketing, gives it a reasonable explanation, drawing a smart analogy between ‘the costs of the art world’ and ‘the sky-high cost of attending a four-year college’. Thus, the company hopes to raise public awareness to the issue of student debt and make people appreciate their college experience (both as a piece of one’s heart and a damage to one’s pocket).  

F A S H I O N

Take a look at Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Menswear Collection

Looking back on 2020, I as a PH Arts Editor have noticed an oversight in the magazine’s work. We don’t usually focus on men’s fashion as much as we do on women’s. My gut tells me, it isn’t right, just looking at the growing audience of Purplehaze, which is diverse. So we’re getting better with a brief review of the Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Menswear Collection. The show was presented this week in a video format. 

In some sense the Japanese designer stays true to himself, giving preference to the black colour palette, loose cuts, and general rebellious spirit. Yet it’s important to remember that Yamamoto has based his brand’s philosophy on the Japanese principles of wabi-sabi, which are not inherent to the Western world of aesthetics. Wabi-sabi served as a leitmotif for the beloved deconstructivism, that’s another matter. But in the latest collection Yohji Yamamoto decided to go further, adding teenage aggression to the apparel, not to say, westernizing them. Hook-and-eye fastenings, defiant statements, belts with buckles, all these make us immediately think of renegades from the world of fashion like John Galliano or Vivienne Westwood. This is not to say that the designer has no right to experiment (it’s good to have him trying new things), however, in the current Yamamoto’s version that kind of rebel sounds not convincing enough. It’s like East meets West and everybody feels lost. However, for those preferring pretty bold mixtures and despising stereotypes, Yohji Yamamoto Fall 2021 Menswear Collection might be a decent match. 

F A S H I O N    P H O T O G R A P H Y 

Twice as fashionable: Rei Kawakubo’s looks in the images by Paulo Roversi at Dallas Contemporary 

Good news for those across the Atlantic: Dallas Contemporary has prepared a fantastic solo show by Paulo Roversi, Italian acclaimed visual artist. While Peter Doroshenko, Dallas Contemporary’s executive director, names Roversi the last of the great European fashion photographers’, his one-man exhibition at DC is unprecedented for the US museum world. It’s the 40-year-long creative relationship between the artist and fashion designer Rei Kawakubo that served as a concept for the show, which Doroshenko and Roversi discussed back in 2019. Although Paulo couldn’t visit Dallas Contemporary during the last year’s quarantine, the exhibition display was paid enough attention to, with video clips of the space being sent to Paris, to Roversi’s home for his approval. 

The show is titled ‘Birds’, which is meant to embody the sense of movement so inherent to Paulo Roversi’s photography. ‘His works evoke motion, be it through the camera moving or something smudged on the lens,’ says Doroshenko. Today when the freedom of our physical movement is much in question because of the pandemic, such a concept comes as a relief. The display features over 40 images of Rei Kawakubo’s outfits, both well-known and never disclosed before. Paulo Roversi refers to his collaboration with the Japanese fashion designer and founder of Comme des Garçons as a ‘new inspiring adventure’ and ‘good opportunity to show <his> work together with hers’. It’s worth mentioning that Dallas Contemporary focuses on different aspects of arts, including fashion. DC has already showcased such maitres de la photographie as Juergen Teller, Bruce Weber, Mario Testino, and Peter Lindbergh.  

P H O T O G R A P H Y 

Outcomes for 2020: ‘Favourite Books’ category by LensCulture 

Despite all odds, each of us had something to recall from 2020 with a smile on a face. If it isn’t about achievements and personal relations, at least, we all could enjoy reading at home, breaking away from computer screens. Choosing and, still less, recommending a book is a highly subjective matter, yet it’s nice to find out what your friend or someone you treat with respect can’t stop reading. The already familiar to you LensCulture questioned 36 people ‘who know and love photobooks’ on their favorite publications. Take a look and put on your watch list, if it’s not there yet. 

Among the respondents are artists, photo editors, curators, publishers, gallery directors, and other folks who have first-hand experience with the medium of photography. In some sense photobooks closely remind novels: they are meant to narrate stories, biographical, historical ones, or mediate experiences like personal diaries do. LensCulture Favourite Photobooks of 2020 digest features all sorts of visual editions, from the reissue of an incredibly important ‘Death in the Making’ by Robert Capa to a fresh and witty (so is the name of the publishing house) book by Olga Bushkova titled ‘How I Tried To Convince My Husband To Have Children’. Each of the critics comprehensively explain their choice, while websites of the publishing houses graciously showcase images from the books so that you can make sure you’re fond of it. 

On the cover: ‘Da Vinci of Debt’ installation by Natural Light at New York City’s Grand Central Terminal. Courtesy of Natural Light Beer company

Interview with visual artist Folrry

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I r e n  R u s s o 

Interview with visual artist Folrry

How did you get into ART ?  

I got into art literally by studying other visual artist’s artwork. I loved what they created, and I wanted to create. So, I learnt and started creating my artworks.

How would you describe your creative process?  
I spend a lot of time thinking about concepts sometimes and I start creating parts of the artworks bit by bit. I start with space; what do I want the space to look like, what goes into the space, what story am I trying to tell, or am I even trying to tell any story? I must say, I view every artistic element that I create to make up the final artwork in a singular and standalone form. They all come together in a pluralistic manner to form a singular masterpiece, which is interesting, and at the same time challenging because I am working with shapes, characters, forms, objects, and most importantly translational human experiences; be it my personal experiences or those that I have witnessed.
Most times the process takes weeks or months and sometimes it is rapid. I might be sleeping and here comes the idea, the concept, I get up at midnight and I start creating the piece of art and I don’t stop until I finish it.
What was the key influence that led to the development of your process and style?  
Shapes, forms, objects,colours, their relatedness and relativity to human experiences, emotions and feelings. You get into a spacious room and the way it is set up really makes you feel some kind of way, sometimes you understand it while sometimes you can’t really grasp it, or wearing or choosing colours for an outing or occassion, loving a car because of how it looks on the external and the aftereffect it has on you depending on what you feel at that particular or prior to it. It is fascinating, the human nature and reaction to these things and this has in turn been an integral part of what influenced my art process and style. It is a very multiplex influence translated into a simplistic metaphor of beautiful artwork.
What does art mean to you personally? Is there a goal you’re trying to accomplish?  
To me personally, art means experiences. Be it from artist perspective, or viewer perspective. Spoken or unspoken experiences, tasteful or distasteful. As far there is an experience, then there is art.  Every art I make accomplishes a goal, because I didn’t keep this thought, experience and concept to myself, I shared it in a form of art piece. Hopefully, someone or group of people somewhere can relate with it. I feel that’s the ultimate goal, because from it springs other goals.
How has covid affected you and your art?
It gave me time to create and made me come to the full realisation of art as a product and service. Create the best, be better than the previous best, ask for the best. Covid effect on me personally, is anything could happen anytime but don’t stop believing in yourself.
What’s next? 
You will see…smiles☺ 

Instagram: @folrry
Behance: folrry

Art Digest: January 11—17

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Julia Kryshevich

Art Digest (December 14—20)

Yoo-hoo! We’ve barged into 2021, waking up from the New Year holidays nap. I hope you all had a great celebration and a powerful break, getting back to work with your batteries recharged. Who knows what this year holds? Rather than guessing, it’s better to be ready for action, changing the world for the better as far as we can. A few beautiful endeavors that took place on the rise of January might inspire you to move in the right direction. 

F A S H I O N 

Enjoy Emilio Pucci and Alberta Ferretti 2021 Pre-Fall collections 

No sooner had the year begun, that the world’s leading fashion houses jumped into battle. Discover pre-fall campaigns by Emilio Pucci and Alberta Ferretti by the break of the year. One might say, the two brands have something in common: apart from being Italian (obviously) and coming as early birds in 2021, Pucci and Ferretti traditionally emphasize genuine tenderness in their collections. The difference is that Pucci has celebrated girliness during the latest seasons, while Ferretti stays loyal to the concept of mature femininity.

Emilio Pucci models welcome 2021 dressed in a-la-harlequin jumpsuits with sleeves puffed, crop tops, and high-waisted pants, wearing sensual neck-wraps. The choice of colour comes as no surprise this time: pastel shades like rose, peach, gentle lilac, and cream are so in line with the brand’s identity. Alberta Ferretti rather focuses on complex looks, which seem perfectly complete. Overcoats and jackets above sweatshirts, long sleeves, straight slacks, fitted silhouettes — the garments are created for those who want to feel lady-like, no matter what the weather is. The colour palette is still soft, yet more vivid than in the colleague’s campaign: shades of moss, clay, almond, and caramel add ripeness to the look.

Australian agencies call to stop making models’ measurements public

Pursuing the very interesting topic of body positivity (to which we at Purplehaze devoted the entire print issue to be released in early March), here is the news that perfectly fills in the gap. Australian community of modeling agencies has called to stop publishing measurements of the mannequins in public profiles. New-Zealand N Management run by the veteran model Ngahuia Williams​ has already tried ceasing the practice, which they find irrelevant and stressful to date.

The initiative seems to have resonated with many representatives from the world of vogue. Fashion commentator and former editor of Fashion Quarterly Sally-Ann Mullinclaims including measurements is a common thing for the industry, which aspires models to fit a ‘cookie cutter standard of beauty’. Models have also welcomed the N Management’s statement, commenting they hoped agents would stop disclosing their data for all to see. However, the challenge that might occur is that the clients will have to require fittings, which might come as extra work for them. At the same time, removing online measurements can not only reduce pressure put on mannequins, but also contribute to a greater diversity representation. ‘No longer is it acceptable to showcase one type of beauty in any way,’ says Mullin, urging other modeling agencies to follow the N Management’s suit. 

A R T 

Actress Cate Blanchett to try her hand at art collecting 

It would be an exaggeration to say that Hollywood actress Cate Blanchett is far from the world of arts: the 2019 exhibition ‘Manifesto: Art x Agency’ and ‘The Four Temperaments‘ video installation (2020) with her participation is an excellent contrario reasoning. This is not to mention some of the films the actress starred in like The Aviator (2004), The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008), Blue Jasmine (2013), and Carol (2015), which may be deemed art themselves. Yet Cate Blanchett has no previous experience in gallery management. Well, a start of the year is a perfect time for new plans and ideas. 

Blanchett’s new gallery space is located at her remote estate in southeastern England, in the place where an oast house once stood. The future gallery visitors might enjoy the views, thanks to the gorgeous nature of East Sussex, which can be perfectly seen from the construction windows. As for the choice of the artists, the actress hit the ten ring here as well. Among others, her collection features works by Guan Wei, Paula Rego, Howard Hodgkin, Bill Hammond, Zhang Huan and Tim Maguire. The documentation for the newly-minted enterprise was ready in October, 2020. Looking forward to the gallery opening! Wish it would be as beautiful and successful as its owner’s career. 

Rihanna embellishes new cover of Essence Magazine shot by artist Lorna Simpson 

Essence Magazine wouldn’t dream of such a cover in its 50-year history. The January/February issue of the periodical features Barbados-born singer and businesswoman Rihanna both on its cover and inside, on the 12 pages of the portfolio. The shooting has been performed by Lorna Simpson, American photographer and multimedia artist who became famous in the 1980-1990s, primarily for her photo-text installations and collages. 

Essence works by Simpson consist of photos of Rihanna placed within the background of the source materials from the artist’s archive. Balancing between fantasy and photographic realism, they feature the legendary singer as she is (at least, in the eyes of the author) — graceful, charismatic, and extremely powerful. This collaboration is another part of the ongoing project by Lorna Simpson, which aims at reinterpreting images of Black women. Working with the celebrity, Simpson meets her self-interest, too — her daughter, Zora, who is an actress and a model, wrote an essay on that occasion expressing gratitude to Rihanna for the positive influence her art had on Simpson Jr. maturation. The essay is included in the Essence January/February issue as well. 

Soho after dark through the lens of photographer Joshua K. Jackson

Invigorated by the beginning of the new year, we still have to face some restrictions, to everyone’s great sadness. We still don’t feel safe enough to live our old lives, roaming aimlessly at the streets, seeing tons of people, and just hanging out in bars because… you know the reason. Yet there is a remedy — arts can rescue people from the blues filling their hearts with nice nostalgia (some types of arts, of course). 

British photographer Joshua K. Jackson focuses on capturing city life. Three years ago he started his Soho series photographing the fluorescent-lit streets of London after dark. ‘Sleepless in Soho’ (2020) is a photobook immortalizing the mood of how it feels like to be awake in the heart of the city past midnight. Alluring lights of the places, which make one think of romance, taboos, and just comfort, illuminate the maze of empty streets and lanes. Diurnal busy life tires London, but the second wind comes with the night. Jackson finished his project in December 2019, just before COVID-19 broke out. Like he knew we were going to miss that very soon. 

On the cover: ‘Sleepless in Soho’ (2020) by Joshua K. Jackson. Courtesy of the Artist