200th Post!

What a splendid way to mark the end of another year. I can't take credit for planning this out, but it just so happens this is officially my 200th Post - it feels like only yesterday when I hit the 100 mark. So, before the New Year cometh when I will be taking a Winter pause, I would like to thank everyone who has visited jonathanvelardi.blogspot.com, got in touch and supported my work and writing and I wish you all the very best for 2011. I will be welcoming in another decade in new environments with good friends, full of inspiration and exciting ideas on a distant island I have wanted to visit for many, many years. I'm making sure 2011 get's off to a good start and I hope you will be too.

Here's something for the '2010-2011 Party Track' from Japanese lifestyle legend Takashi Murakami featuring Kirsten Dunst that's already got me jumping around the room... see you in 2011!

Burning Desire

We've travelled, we've congregated, we've eaten and some of us have even prayed a little, all in the name of Christmas. I've had a lot to think about this season; whether I should succumb to 'tradition' (or should that read detention?) and celebrate with people I see once a year, only to end up doing and talking about the same things as if on script, or not celebrate in this manner by default and be with friends who I genuinely want to see and catch up with. Dilemma? It doesn't have to be, and it wasn't when I decided the holiday season is called holiday for a reason. My very own Nightmare before, during and after Christmas was never to be. It felt great! Hardly revolutionary I know, but when you think about what Christmas and all its trimmings has become over the years, I'm opting out - this year, next year and forever Amen. I've sadly witnessed the act of gift-giving more of a necessity than a genuine sentiment, like a material currency that was only intended for visual effect under the 'perfect' tree so it could be exchanged or returned the following day for something more 'perfect' ... less Christmas spirit, more in the name of Christmas I think. Half of you reading this will either have already forged across the post-Christmas war zones of department stores while the other half will have watched in amusement at the sight of people worshiping a large red sign with white letters reading 'SALE' like a Barbara Kruger performance in motion. It was appropriate therefore, when I came across the work of Claire Fontaine and her current exhibition, Consumption, at Helena Papadopoulos Gallery in Athens, Greece. The mixed media installation revolves around a wall piece which the show is named after. Created out of one-hundred thousand match-sticks, the word 'CONSUMPTION' engulfs the space, drawing you in to discover its material genetics. Fontaine's practice looks at the conditions of contemporary living where consumption has become a main activity as well as a personal destiny. In the same way life is temporal, the work and it's fragility to burn away produces a strong message that perfectly reflects what we are seeing in the media over this period which is sadly, all in the name of Christmas
For more information about the exhibition that runs to the 15th January 2011 as well as the artist's work visit the gallery's website here.


Christmas By Appointment

A British tradition from a British institution - Her Majesty The Queen's Speech 2010...


Happy Holidays!

Have a Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays everyone!
Love from jonathanvelardi.blogspot.com XOXO


Long Live The King

Last week saw the end of one of the most watched television programmes around the world. When I was a child, my parents did a lot of travelling and whether we were in countries that spoke a language we knew or not, a recurring memory that I have is watching CNN, first thing in the morning and the last thing at night in our hotel room. Before the era of every television network having their own news channel, before tweeting and live streaming, CNN was the go-to for news and Larry King was the host of his very own interview show. Larry King Live pioneered the boundaries of interview formats with an intimate set that saw King's international guests from the world's leaders of politics to celebrity face to face with his famously hard questions that often lead to breaking news. I will never forget King's trademark suspenders or the iconic lit backdrop of a world map that survived any radical design changes throughout the show's twenty-five year career. December 16th aired the final edition of Larry King Live - it is unknown how King's British replacement, Piers Morgan, will be received with his own interview show on the network in the New Year. One thing is for sure, it takes twenty-five successful years to become a legend and with the outputs of media forever changing with the speed of technology, it is certain that in its own space and time, there was and will only be one Larry King. Follow the show's on air career, now off air but always online at CNN.


Celebrate with Smith & Lowles

If you're finding it hard to get into the festive spirit this year, leave it to my good friends Smith & Lowles to get you 'rockin' around the Christmas tree' in their latest and greatest film, Seasons Greetings Love Smith & Lowles (2010) - visit their official website here for more virtual views of the world by this talented New York-based partnership.


Giving Good Face

It is every model and personality's dream to become 'the Face of' for a luxury brand. Every year sees the ratio of model to celebrity who front major advertising campaigns in the luxury market rise, only to be followed by media spin of how much retouching was needed to make said celebrity cover-worthy. From your Bonos to Madonnas, Clooneys and Kidmans, there is no value to what a face can do to a brand. 

So while it is not uncommon for a charitable cause to be associated with these celebrities and their lucrative contracts, Switzerland's luxury watchmaker Hublot is on the pulse with a very unique direction for it's latest campaign - its new and not-so-perfect face has only just recently been in the media in the last two weeks. Unfortunately it had nothing to do with Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One empire but of news that he was attacked by four men in Central London. With nearly £200,000 stolen, Ecclestone was nonchalant about the incident saying,
"I can understand people wanting to rob me when they are poor and they want some things for the kids with Christmas coming along, but what they did was unnecessary."

Even though the eighty-year-old's face told another story, it was precisely these horrific injuries that Ecclestone decided to contact Hublot and suggest the brand should use his Police booking photograph to advertise the company's official watch of Formula One, which also happened to be the one Ecclestone was wearing at the time of the attack. While the campaign also states to condemn all forms of violence and racism, ever the entrepreneur, a tag line from Ecclestone reads, 'See what people will do for a Hublot'.
Desire, luxury and wit without a trace of retouching: the perfect formula for an iconic campaign. Bravo Bernie!


Souvenirs For All Seasons

For members of the art pack who have left Art Basel Miami over the weekend only to realise all you brought back was a good tan on your return, fret not. You may not have invested in a canvas by KAWS or a tricked out hummer by my new favourite artist Jeremy Dean, but you can bag a Buren just in time for the holiday season. 
As I reported back in October, Daniel Buren has collaborated with luxury French fashion house Hermès to produce a body of work titled Photos-souvenirs au Carré that were inspired by his travel photographs from around the world, which have been printed onto the luxury house's sought after silk.

Hermès.com has just launched an insight into Buren's production process as well as information of a boxed set of the entire collection of three-hundred and sixty-five scarves that will include a catalogue published by Editions Xavier Barralwhich will no doubt be on the top of many a collector's wish list. Just remember, art is not just for Christmas, it's for all three-hundred and sixty-five days of the year...

The ultimate gift that keeps giving every day of the year...
Images courtesy of Tadzio


Flight Of Fantasy?

The Sunday papers were awash with ink about last week's latest political slur from Conservative politician, Howard Flight. As if Prime Minister Cameron doesn't have enough to worry about with rebels and drunks from society disguising themselves as students and throwing fire extinguishers from rooftops, Flight's thoughts on the government's restructuring of the child benefit policy could have waited - at least for a few more weeks when the festive season is in full swing and the country would be too drunk to know who he is and what he has to say. But when it comes to remarks on class any time is bad time, particularly when the face of said statement is a quintessential, class-ical Tory chap,
"We're going to have a system where the middle classes are discouraged from breeding because it's jolly expensive but for those on benefit there is every incentive. Well that's not very sensible".
A furore would be putting it mildly to describe the media's reaction, making it a top story last week. For those of you who are regular visitors to my blog you will know I am fascinated with themes of class and I explore social difference through association in much of my artistic practice. What surprises me the most about Flight's comments are that they could and should have been a lot worse. 'Breeding' may not have been an intelligent choice of prose but in light of another story that hit the weekend headlines of an unemployed twenty-five year old male from Tyne and Wear who is to father his fifteenth child, I would have expected Flight - soon to be Lord Flight with his appointment into the House of Lords - to have used more jolly harsh words. The fact of the matter is, class expression is inherent in everyday British life: from the public school boarding house addicted to the rants of ranks on Jeremy Kyle to the Facebook status demanding the end of a 'freeloading Monarchy', the subject of class has always been contentious on both social and political landscapes. It is well documented that the Labour government under Gordon Brown and the aspiring Tony Blair divided the class gap even wider than Margaret Thatcher had in the Eighties under the Tories - Blair, as always, defies the record now finding himself Thatcher's neighbour in Eaton Square - a fine example of New Labour irony if ever there were one. Flight's remarks therefore are far from fantasy and more a reality that is on everyone's muted lips. What is more disconcerting is the fact that society is entering a climate that is so controlled and monitored, freedom of speech has become a risk rather than a right. Minette Marrin's Ugly words but true article from The Sunday Times (p.28 - 28.11.10) explores the merciless 'ears and eyes and bloggers everywhere' environment which Flight seems more than conscious of,
"... MPs feel they cannot say anything except the blandest nonsense".
It is unclear whether Flight's installation into the House of Lords may be sacrificed as a result of his remarks that have been condemned for poor taste rather than his own taste on the poor, rich or indifferent. Freedom of speech is not as tolerant in the world of politics as it is in the media, but it should not be down to the media to judge that freedom. The truth is known best to hurt but it will hurt more if truth is silenced in a world of fantasy and political correctness. What is certain is that the developing WikiLeaks disclosures will reprieve Howard Flight from next Sunday's papers. What jolly good news.

Queue in/appropriate Spectator advertisement I came across on the train...


Politics In Print: Back To The Archives

It's been a few months since I have posted anything about my summer commission for Devon County Council, so with news that the Politics in Print bandwagon has made a pit-stop at the Devon Record Office, I am delighted to be able to invite anyone who is thinking to be Devon-bound before the New Year to pay a visit and see my work, Semper Fidelis. As I reported in July of this year, the archives at the Record Office are extraordinary and it's very exciting to have my hand printed bandana back into the environment which it was inspired from. Located in Exeter, the Devon Record Office is open to the public and the team there are extremely helpful with saintly patience - especially after my tirade of questions during my first site visit!
For details about my commission click here and if you would like further information about visiting the Devon Record Office and its facilities click here for their official website.
Semper Fidelis, 2010
2011 will see the Politics in Print tour hit the Exeter Phoenix gallery in Exeter and Great Torrington thereafter - visit jonathanvelardi.blogspot.com for more updates - have a great weekend everyone!


Happy Thanksgiving!

Poultry... Pumpkin Pie... and Pantone 12-1-7 C

Happy Thanksgiving everyone!


Art Worship

Hello everyone! This has to be the longest pause from my blog I have ever had - my sincerest apologies to you all. Unfortunately the roller coaster that is Life just kept wanting to go on and on and on and I've been spun and twirled enough that I guess I've been finally allowed to get off the ride and put some words down in a new post, so I hope I won't disappoint.

The past few weeks have been anything but fun and I've found myself in new situations - and locations - that I never thought I'd be confronted with. But I guess you never know what's coming around the corner and if I told you I now find myself in the City of London trawling through the streets of suits in a sea of money makers and shakers, even I wouldn't believe it. But through the darkness of the early morning wake ups and the maze of concrete office blocks shines a spark of creativity in otherwise an uncreative environment. Should you derail from the automated following of businessmen marching to and fro between station and office, you will be richly rewarded. In the chaos that is London Wall, near Liverpool Street Station sits the church of All Hallows on the Wall - a sanctuary for reflection and worship as well as a space for contemporary art. Launched in 2006 with a series of commissions to date, Wallspace at All Hallows on the Wall provides a spiritual home for visual arts in London. Unlike many other church-meets-gallery efforts I have visited throughout the country before, if you are lucky enough to notice the small poster on the church noticeboard in the City's chaos, this is an incredibly unique and well executed display within ecclesiastic architecture from the eighteenth-century. In association with Art+ChristianityEnquiry, Wallspace has worked on numerous projects with artists such as Damien Hirst and Angela Wright that inject permanent works of art in religious spaces in Britain. Currently on view is the exhibit, Commission, which looks at fourteen artists and their commissions. Preliminary sketches, maquettes and documentation of the works from Henry Moore to Stephen Walbrook provide an insight to the challenges and process that Wallspace are so strongly committed to. Tracey Emin's neon artwork that was originally produced for Liverpool Anglican Cathedral, infuses the intimate space of All Hallows on the Wall with a calm, pink hue that is absorbed by the ornate, white plaster walls. Spirituality has no label and whether you worship a God or Art, Wallspace provides the perfect balance and an escape from the torment of the outside world. Just don't be surprised if you come across a businessman taking some time out in a pew... he's on a conference call of his own.

Commission runs until the 3rd December 2010
All Hallows on the Wall
83 London Wall


Timeless Memory

Another year, another mid-November Sunday and another moving Remembrance Day in London, throughout the United Kingdom and around the world. Traditionally the first Sunday that follows the official Remembrance Day on the 11th November that marks the end of World War I in 1918, red paper poppy flowers resemble the poppies that bloomed across the worst areas of trench warfare across the battlefields of Flanders that is also recalled in Lieutenant Colonel John McCrae's notorious poem, "In Flanders Fields" from 1915. First introduced in 1921 after a YMCA Overseas War Secretaries' Conference - American humanitarian Moina Michael conceived the use of artificial silk poppies - the idea was adopted by Field Marshall Douglas Haig who founded the Royal British Legion, which has sold the timeless red paper poppy with green leaf and black plastic bud ever since. Simple in design, yet complex in the memories that it embodies, today we must never forget the sacrifice of life ninety-two years ago as well as the ultimate sacrifices that are being taken everyday by young men and women in the armed forces in the Middle East. Visit the Royal British Legion for information about the Poppy Appeal 2010 and more details on the charitable support and service the Legion provides to ex-Service personnel and their families.


American Dream In 4D

The Christmas run-up got a lot more competitive in London yesterday night. Ralph Lauren, the Polo set emporium that pioneered aspirational lifestyle advertising, literally introduced a new dimension to the American Dream with a four-dimensional light, sound and sensory display (the label's new Big Pony fragrance was infused in the air) projected onto the fashion house's New Bond Street House Flagship store. Ralph's son, David, has been given the reigns of the brand's digital arm with the launch of an international website and virtual store that turns aspiration into a reality and will see the world of 4D gallop pass the awkward 3D revival. Find out more about the 4D project here and if you missed yesterday's night spectacle check it out below - fragrance not included... yet.


Baby It's Cold Outside

I like nothing more than a Lady in fur and with the bitter threats of an Arctic effect forecast on our English Roses, art photographer Nienke Klunder shows how the ladies of Treviso, Italy work it in winter. Klunder uses the presentation of series throughout her practice to create enticing cinematic portraiture around themes of feminine identity and transformation. Visit the artist's official website here and warm up with these images appropriately titled Fur Series...


Hot Wheels

Recently my subconscious must be craving for the ecstasy that is Pop Art - maybe it's the weather here in England (as it always is) or the fact my life has taken a bit of curveball these past couple weeks - either way I figure I might as well go with the flow and show you these cruise-worthy wheel covers by spin maestro Damien Hirst. Ironically the term 'spinner' already exists in the customised automobile world made popular over the last seven years by American rappers and celebrities. Hirst offers his own take on the spinner with a bespoke wheel cover wrapped with his famous spin painting design that now features on everything from jeans to skulls that probably caters for precisely those rappers and celebrities. It's guaranteed you won't find these on the long list of added extras from the accessories list at your car dealership so if you're thinking of injecting your Range Rover with a splash of colour or have your Rolls portray your art world bravado as you rock up to a private view, then contact Other Criteria for enquires about these bespoke beauties.


To Be Seen

Following on from my last West Coast entry, this weekend saw the opening of Los Angeles-based gallery Honor Fraser's exhibition, Andy Warhol: Camouflage. The military-inspired work which Warhol injected with bright and fluorescent colourways were only publicly exhibited six years after the artist's death. Now instantly familiar as a Warhol-staple, Honor Fraser offers a rare chance to view the silkscreen prints with Warhol's trial proofs and sketches in pencil. I always find myself looking at the Camouflage paintings for colour inspiration and it is so easy to lose yourself following the fluid forms and gradients that are more seductive than cryptic.
Andy Warhol: Camouflage
30th October 2010 - 31st December 2010
Honor Fraser
2622 South La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles 90034


ART Cribs

Money Maker - Jeffrey Deitch
"Celebrity has become, for better or for worse, an art form" states Jeffrey Deitch, Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, in a recent interview with online luxury lifestyle resource, NOWNESS. I last reported on Deitch at the very beginning of the year after the announcement of his appointment as Director at MOCA, where he was to leave the contemporary art scene of Manhattan which he shaped with great success with his SoHo gallery Deitch Projects and take his assets - and address book - to the West Coast. It was hoped Deitch would reinvent the financially-troubled museum and create a scene in the City of Angels akin to his accomplishments as a collector, consultant and dealer of some of the world's most important contemporary and modern art activity. 
If this film is anything to go by, it looks like Deitch has settled into his new life very well as he gives NOWNESS a tour of his "movie star house" in the hills of Los Feliz. You would be forgiven if you thought this was from an episode of MTV's Cribs - the Hip hop soundtrack and punchy camera shots may be absent but the tour possesses all the Cribs-credentials: the swooping driveway shot of the Spanish revival house that has been previously owned by actor, Cary Grant (tick); Deitch explaining his plans for a party room (tick) while he describes some of his art collection on the walls (tick), followed by a tour of his bedroom (tick). OK, so this episode is missing the default, "and this is where the magic happens", but we are invited to see Jesus in our eye lids thanks to his painting by Aaron Young, and maybe that works just as well for Mr. Deitch! Speaking about celebrity culture in reference to Jeff Koons, Richard Prince and Gilbert and George, Deitch is clearly fascinated when the worlds of art and entertainment meet (see my entry, Cover Girls) and there is no better place than in Hollywood to feed his interest with MOCA as his platform. This is an insightful view into the private and professional world of Jeffrey Deitch making himself part of the celebrity culture that he is hoping will drive the art market on the West Coast. In true celebrity fashion, Deitch doesn't give everything away and leaves us asking the most critical question of all... what's in your fridge?



The end of October marks the final and fourth instalment of the 6th Annual PIXEL POPS! exhibit, Urban Realities. The series of outdoor screenings will return to New Jersey in Jersey City where my animation, Flamingo Parade, will be projected within the local community on Warren Street between 1st and 2nd Streets. This is the last opportunity to catch my work and join curators Jeanne Brasile and Hiroshi Kumagai at the locaton from 7pm tonight and view all the short films and animations. I have been promised documentation from the exhibit will be made available at the end of the event so hopefully by the end of the week I'll be able to post some photos of Flamingo Parade in situ. But until then, head to Jersey City for a great night of digital art in the urban landscape...

PIXEL POPS! - Urban Realities
Warren Street between 1st and 2nd Streets
Jersey City, New Jersey, USA
October 27th - 7pm onwards
For more information about tonight's event visit PIXEL POPS!


Runaway And Don't Look Back

Although art and music are not unfamiliar ingredients for a delectable serving of pop culture, I am currently fascinated (and obsessed) with Kanye West's driving vision for the release of his fifth studio album My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy that has the press dropping 'edgy' bombs to describe the hip hop artist's performances and new branding, which is frankly bizarre in this era of Gaga. So everyone may not know who George Condo or Vanessa Beecroft are, and West's target audience may have had to up their game to catch up with the singer's string of collaborative projects that I reported on before the release of his first track, Power, from his new album. But this is not 'edgy' or 'alternative', this is an example of a musician embracing the art world that in fact fuels all aspects of the creative world, only previously it has been filtered and processed to be understood for the mass market.

At this year's MTV Video Music Awards in September, West rocked out on a MPC on top of a Doric column juxtaposed with an impressive performance of ballerinas to the new track, Runaway. Anyone familiar with performative arts, and to a degree art installation, could see the quality and attention to the visual set West was wanting to present. In conjunction with the release of a trailer for this new single, West has relished in a month of previews, rumour and speculation that is not only fuelling hype of the release of the new album scheduled for the 22nd November - which has also sparked controversy earlier this week with the album's artwork produced by American painter and sculptor, George Condo, depicting a naked West underneath a bare-breasted Phoenix, with news the cover image is to be banned in America - the Internet is now on fire with the premiere of the single's music video. But this media-blitz does not end here. The four-minute music video to Runaway is actually only a small sequence to a longer length film titled after the single, which West has kept on the low-down until now. I can only describe the thirty-four minute film as an art film-meets-music medley - with Italian performance artist Vanessa Beecroft taking the reigns of Art Director, paired with Yemi Akinyemi's choreography and West adding Director to his ever-growing repertoire, this is a recipe of excitement. 
Prague is the location for the film and and the banquet segment in an airport hangar, which is also used as the single's music video, displays the strong and familiar visual styles of Beecroft's work from her performances such as VB 52 (2003-2004). West cites his cinematic premiere with camera angles au fait with Kubrick and Fellini, with themes of beauty, symbolism and discrimination playing key elements in the production written by celebrated American video and film director, Hype Williams. From the beautiful Phoenix played by model Selita Ebanks and the incredible pyrotechnics; the enchanting ballerinas and carnival scene that includes a large-scale papier-mâché head of Michael Jackson (that perhaps tributes the late artist's own music video films) all contribute to a visual seduction accompanied by tracks from the new album like an audio narrative.

It is unclear whether future tracks will take their respective sequences from the film or whether it will be released in cinemas or screened in art galleries, but what is certain is West has created a new level to reach within the realm of music video. The ultimate action of ego this may be - but I would like to think West is making his audience think more: an education in high-culture that is far from 'edgy' and more on the money, with nods to the classical and contemporary working in complete harmony. In times of post-recession, culture is the new currency everyone wants their hands on and if it can be as visually attractive as this, then we all need to runaway and not look back.

Behold the full-length film for Runaway here and preview stills from the music video below...


The North Is On Fire

Manchester United season ticket: £513, vinyl banner: £100

Old Trafford telling Wayne Rooney what they think: priceless