Self-taught artist, Paul Benney, will make his Venice Art Biennale debut from 13th May with his monumental installation, Speaking in Tongues.
The 12ft by 8ft painting on show at the 14th century San Gallo Church, just north of St Mark’s Square is the centrepiece of an installation that includes sound and other smaller works in oil by the artist. Curated by James Putnam and Flora Fairbairn, this is the first time Speaking in Tongues has been shown outside of the UK.
The work itself is secular but draws on the New Testament story of the Pentecost in which the twelve apostles encounter the Holy Spirit and then begin ‘speaking in tongues’. Modifying and updating this familiar interlude, Benney has painted twelve artistic contemporaries of various ethnicities and religious backgrounds, with the aim of capturing a collective state of spiritual awakening.
Playing with the idea of narrative painting, Benney introduced a sound element to the work, inviting each of the subjects to record themselves sharing transformative moments in their lives. These are relayed through holosonic speakers placed around the church. At first the viewer hears hushed murmuring, however, when they stand in a precise spot they hear individual voices, an effect achieved via sound-focusing technology that isolates the viewer from their own reality and the outside world. Then come the subject’s revelations. These are poignant and sometimes shocking – one man tells of how he accidentally shot dead his best friend; another reveals the joy of becoming a father – and, in the context of a religious setting they create the experience of receiving a confession.
In the words of famed contemporary Broadway composer, William Finn, ‘You gotta have heart and music.’ Take out the ‘h’ and the ‘e’ to make ‘art and music’ and I’d argue the phrase still strongly applies. It seems as though the curating team at Imitate Modern would agree as they present Rhythm, a multidisciplinary exhibition opening 31st May at their Piccadilly space.
The show pays homage to the arts in a wider sense with an exciting collection of works featuring musical icons Prince, Bowie, Elvis and Michael Jackson. But aside from portraying real life music artists, the work on view also celebrates the wider purpose of music and rhythm in our lives, reminding us of its’ vitality, universality and great importance.
You can imagine my surprise upon walking into my now fiance’s flat for the first time and being greeted by a giant portrait of Margaret Thatcher. Upon closer inspection, I came to realise that it was not a typical depiction either;instead of your standard lines and shading making up the former Tory PM’s face , a sort of mosaic of sex toys, skulls and Tony Blair masks came together to depict that unmistakeable visage. Let’s just say, she made an impression!
Well, thanks to Shapero Modern and acclaimed British artist, Marcus Harvey, you too can greet your visitors with a bang!
Arriving at Imitate Modern’s new space at 90 Piccadilly on Saturday 6th June, I am excited to check out artist Paul Oz’s portraits of the most feared and adored 80’s icons. Assembled for ‘80s KID‘, Paul’s first UK solo show now on view at the gallery, the works are vividly coloured, highly textured and pulsing with an unmistakably 80’s energy.
Set against white walls, Maggie Thatcher catches my attention first, her deep-set eyes seeming to call me up the long staircase, with that signature Maggie flair, a combination of traditional British elegance coupled with a gentle gaze and slightly pursed lips.
It’s a great time to be an Egon Schiele fan – at least, if you are one with the chance to travel internationally. As it happens, this particular ArtAttacker happens to be spending her Christmas in Switzerland, and subsequently has been lucky enough to see both the ‘Radical Nude’ show at the Courtauld in Londonand the‘Egon Schiele/Jenny Saville’ at the Kunsthaus Zürich. While neither are entirely comprehensive Schiele retrospectives, both exhibitions have been highly publicised and anticipated. The major differences are obvious; namely, the latter also includes work by contemporary British artist Jenny Saville, also known for her nudes. Her paintings are of a much fleshier variety, her voluptuous bodies seeming to balloon out of their canvases. One would think them a world away from the emaciated corporeality Schiele evoked around 100 years earlier, yet this show invites us to consider what they had in common.
There are not many people who haven’t heard of the Austrian painter Egon Schiele; even if you can’t quite place the name, you are probably familiar in some way with his graphic watercolour nudes, because they are everywhere. Like his mentor Gustav Klimt, Schiele is a favourite subject of gallery gift-shop fare: calendars, posters, postcards, even scarves and pencil cases.
Yet it cannot be denied that, despite the amount of times we may have encountered Schiele before, his work still retains the power to shock. So when the Courtauld Gallery titles a show Egon Schiele: The Radical Nude, it is not just a historical account of an artist who was radical in his time. As a society, we are still having debates centered around nudity. Instagram, for example, is notorious in its refusal to allow posts that depict female nipples. Bizarrely, the #Schiele tag is full of them, and full-frontal vaginas too. What makes these images different is that they have been subsumed into the category of Art, of High Culture. They are allowed.