Hypothetically Speaking...

To all my regular readers things may be a little different this week but rest assured all will be explained - I must start however by welcoming all the new visitors from INTRODUCING and its current issue, Hypothetically. This week my blog will be dedicating posts around themes from the tenth issue that has been guest edited by artist and writer, Nicola McCartney. Born from INTRODUCING's curatorial duo, LIANGWEST and their first exhibition, The Blue Obelisk which I covered in April of this year, the issue's hypothetical themes of art, spirituality and culture are explored with a wonderful selection of contributors. This week I will be picking up on some of these themes while introducing some new ideas and directions with my own take on a hypothetical world.

McCartney's Editorial letter, Hypothetically Thinking, details her research on Yves Klein's 'The Chelsea Hotel Manifesto' of 1961 that accompany's her artwork, A Flock (After Klein) which also featured in The Blue Obelisk. Klein's determination to present art in its purest form lead to his own controversial development of colour that was used in a series of monochromatic paintings, sculptures and performances. The result was International Klein Blue (IKB) which is a patented colour in Klein's name and the colour for the blog throughout the week. Klein may possess the rights to colour, but he was also interested in the reaction his works created and their role as both physical objects as well as spiritual invitations for the viewer. The colour blue has great significance in several cultures and many religious beliefs due to its calming and stable connotations. The interview with artist and Roman Catholic Priest Father Gianni Notarianni provides an interesting insight between colour and space within the boundaries of a canvas. Father Notarianni explains the use of blue in relation to the iconic Virgin Mary in Catholicism and her blue robes that was a style brought about during the medieval and renaissance period. Having been brought up a Catholic, I remember as a child the colour blue being quite a feminine colour, seeing statues of the Virgin Mary draped in varying shades of welcoming and motherly-blue. But within the realm of hypotheses, religion is one of many beliefs or theories; conservative or radical, past and present that we invite into our minds to complement our daily lives. Whether it's a church or a favourite spot in the park or by the sea, as long as we allow ourselves the time to be hypothetical, belief in our own imagination is a powerful force in its purest form and I believe here lies the crux of one's creativity.
Our Lady Of Lourdes, Lourdes France
I would like to share a piece of music that will always remind me of my days at boarding school. Charles-Marie Widor's Toccata from his Organ Symphony No. 5 would be played at the end of our Sunday Service - with it's virtuosic passages, rapid runs and cascading fugals, it transports my mind as much today as it did then, to another world, where imaginations are free to run wild with the possibility of the impossible. I hope Mr. Klein would agree.

Visit INTRODUCING and jonathanvelardi.blogpspot.com again between 31st May - 6th June for more posts in conjunction with Hypothetically.


Like A Leica

Tom Sachs you are a Legend. In an era where your Facebook profile has to embody you, your life and your bank statement in a couple of thousand pixels, it's safe to say image is everything in the digital age. Sachs is notorious for taking iconic symbols from the world of names and brands - Hello Kitty, Chanel and Hermès to name a few - and manipulating them into equally recognisable symbols of the everyday such as urinals, chainsaws and guillotines. With the summer upon us and the potential of new profile pictures and albums that will be ripe for posting, Sachs has released the ultimate accessory to take those summer snaps with: Like a Leica (2010) is a hand customised 12 Canon SD780 IS Digital ELPH. The limited edition of twelve digital cameras available from Colette and directly through the artist, are in true Sachs-fashion; paint, marker and stickers cover any traces of the original Canon markings, the camera remains fully operational with a humorous detail of all it's functions listed where one would expect medium and dimension information and with a Tom Sachs signature on every box, what more could you ask for... a real Leica perhaps? Have a great weekend everyone!


New On La Rue

Defiance is seldom welcome, but resistance is never always futile and for Louis Vuitton's defiant expression on London's New Bond Street this week, capitalist cavaliers are shouting "vive la résistance!". Vuitton's Flagship store has had an estimated fifty-million pound face-lift and this undisclosed figure probably does not include several original and specially commissioned artworks that decorate the three floors of French luxury. 
The brand's 'Maison' status encompasses Vuitton's lifestyle vision and it comes as no surprise that the space on New Bond Street was chosen to define aspiration and luxury and celebrate a landmark date that coincides with the house's first store out of France - across la Manche in London - 125 years ago. Similar to the Flagship on the Champs-Élysées in Paris with it's top floor Espace Culturel exhibition space, London's Maison heavily focuses on the presence of contemporary art within the luxury market with selected works by both British and international artists such as Gilbert & George, Damien Hirst, Michael Landy, Jeff Koons, Anish Kapoor, Takashi Murakami, Richard Prince and Stephen Sprouse. Designed by famed New York architect Peter Marino, the Maison on New Bond Street will not only provide the most luxurious retail experience but a sophisticated education in culture that will rival their Bond street neighbours as well as their Mayfair gallery counterparts.

Visit the new Maison Louis Vuitton at 17-18 New Bond Street, London


Vodafone Ireland World of Difference

Founded in 2007, Vodafone Ireland has been supporting the charitable work of outstanding individuals through their World of Difference campaign. The programme offers four residents of the Republic of Ireland the chance to work with a charity of their choice for a year and for 2010 I am incredibly proud to support my very good friend, Karolina Sinéad Johansson who is a finalist to become one of the four chosen campaigners. Karolina has been working with the humanitarian aid charity, Chernobyl Children's Project international (CCPI) that offers sustainable community-based aid to deal with the multiple and long-term effects of the devastating nuclear disaster of 1986. With your vote, Karolina would be working to evaluate a De-institutionalisation Programme run by CCPI that will coincide with the commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster in 2011. The programme will continue the work of CCPI's 'Homes of Hope' project that finds to re-home abandoned and orphaned children as well as providing a range of medical and social services that encourages the independence of young adults when they leave their orphanages and to keep existing family units together in what is a critical environment that is in desperate need for more global awareness.
As I'm sure you'll agree Karolina's campaign is more than deserving to be chosen for Vodafone Ireland World of Difference - this year votes are being cast through Facebook and I would encourage anyone to visit the site for more information about Vodafone's project and Karolina's inspiring campaign for the children of Chernobyl. Here's Karolina with her campaign mission in her own words and if you'd like to vote for her De-institutionalisation Programme for the Chernobyl Children's Project international click here.


Skyline Surprise

Chicago is famous for many things, but it's the city's skyline that is truly breathtaking. I was lucky enough to live in The Second City in 2005 while I was on an exchange programme at The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and I grew an affinity with the city that prides itself on it's town-like charm. Chi-town is a cultural capital and the Art Institute of Chicago houses one of the finest art collections in America, spanning more than five-thousand years of artistic expression from around the world. Connected to The School of the Art Institute, the museum made my walk to class more than average, but I'm wondering what current students make of British artist, Roger Hiorns and his commissioned work for the Modern Wing at the Institute. Untitled (Alliance) 2010, has been installed on the Bluhm Family Terrace, in which two Pratt & Whitney TF33 P9 engines lie in the foreground of Chicago's skyscrapers. Hiorns, who atomized an aircraft and filled a room with the dusty remains for the 2009 Turner Prize exhibition, uses commercial machines as symbols of power in society. The engines on display belonged to a Boeing EC 135 Looking Glass surveillance plane and Hiorn is interested in the value of such objects within a contemporary art context - further narratives are created by the artist's incorporation of three pharmaceuticals into the engines that are commonly used to treat trauma and depression, making a connection between global security and individual well being. No doubt visions of Pinal Airpark in Arizona and other infamous graveyards for planes that litter South West America will come to mind when confronted by these familiar, yet curious objects, but more controversial references of Homeland Security, planes and skyscrapers may be the most thought provoking work of art in an ever-changing and adaptable twenty-first century.
Untitled (Alliance) is on display at the Art Institute of Chicago until the 19th September 2010.

Express Yourself

I've been in Italy the last couple of days and made a swooping visit through Rome. The ancient city, and the whole of Italy for that matter, is blessed with the image created by its empirical ancestors and romanticised by Hollywood in the mid-twentieth century. The only trouble here is that I must be the only person who genuinely dislikes Rome and I'd even go as far as hate - and I rarely hate anything - but whenever I cast my critical ways on the city, I'm lambasted by people who claim their allegiance for pasta, espresso and sunglasses. I can understand your average tourist who's in and out of the city for a holiday, but I've lived in Rome and have known the supposed-dolce vita since birth and I ask myself every time I'm in the capitol, am I the only one who's seeing graffiti on every possible surface you could imagine? Not even to say it's good graffiti, in a Berlin-New York way - but for some juvenile's tag to be placed on ancient monuments and every street wall within and out of the city walls absolutely infuriates me. Italy in general has a very serious social problem that stems from political instability and depending on what region you're in, varying inflated egos.
While travelling northwards on the train into Stazione di Roma Termini, all the carriages were full of protestors heading to the city to march for educational rights. Protests are a common occurrence right across Italy, happening weekly if not daily in major cities and since they are rarely broadcast out of the country, Italy's stigma of social oppression is never seen when it's in the shadows of Roman Holiday or Gladiator. The government is not ignoring this problem for millions of Euros are spent on cleaning graffiti off important landmarks only for it to be re-tagged a few days later, so I was surprised to find on Termini's concourse a place for Italians to express themselves legally. It was fascinating to find the revolving advertising columns that usually feature Italian fashion campaigns, covered in a vinyl sheath: a blank canvas for revolutionaries and youth alike. I'm more than aware I will come across as scathing in this post, and I'm all for expression, but the problem is not the graffiti or the protesting, but the shear reason people feel the need to vandalise and march in the first place. Behind every social problem is a problem of the State that fails to see through the veil of power and I'm afraid to say Italy is one of the worst countries in Europe to suffer from this blindness. I encourage anyone to visit Rome - it's a city that is unlike any other in the world with a rich history and culture that is sold across the globe which you must see through your own eyes - I just hope the scrawls of anger are limited to columns of expression like the one above. And before you ask, yes some kid will tag the very top of the column and you'll know about it in big, bright, badly drawn letters.


SAM & Andy

Love, fear, pleasure, lust, pain, glamour and death may not be the first couple of words that come to mind when you think of Seattle. I know you're all asking yourselves, 'wouldn't Starbucks do?' but Seattle is not all about bad coffee - Seattle Art Museum (SAM) launches the exhibition, love fear pleasure lust pain glamour death, with a selection of Andy Warhol's media works. From film work to photography the show focuses on Warhol's fascination with all things ephemeral; fame, identity and desire, concluding he was a good thirty-years ahead of where our current society stands. Interestingly another exhibition in the adjoining galleries looks at grunge legend, Kurt Cobain, that resonates crudely of Warhol's vision with the short-lived reality of Cobain's celebrated life.
Both love fear pleasure lust pain glamour death and Kurt open today and run to the 6th September 2010 - for further information about the exhibitions at SAM click here.


Epic Summer

Continuing to push the the limits of marketing and the fine line between art and fashion, the House of Chanel launched it's Cruise Collection with a seventeen-minute - yes, seventeen-minute - film directed by Karl Lagerfeld, titled, Remember Now. Although not a new concept under Lagerfeld's creative direction, this epic short film exudes the unadulterated lifestyle that the Chanel brand predicts for 2011 and rejects any assumptions of recessional projections, glorifying Saint-Tropez as the centre of ultimate luxury. If you find glossy ads aren't doing it for you anymore, then this will give you your hit of aspirational ecstasy... that's if you can stand the not-so-epic acting. Expect more of these saturated flicks to filter down to the masses - finding it's way on a flat-screen on your local bus near you! Behold how the beautiful people live...


A Lot Of Possibilities #2: Update

Here a few installation shots from the exhibition, A Lot Of Possibilities #2 that took place a few weeks ago in New York. As I reported before the exhibit's opening, the work on display has been the result of incredibly hard work over the past year to integrate contemporary art within the context of a community garden in Manhattan. West 104th Street Community Garden was my main source of inspiration for my design, Flamingo Parade (2009-2010) - with the generous support from the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council and their relative departments, Flamingo Parade has been officially printed onto a gargantuan 31 x 9ft vinyl. While it hangs in splendor at WinterSpace, Anna Lise is working towards finding a suitable exterior wall in the neighbourhood for the vinyl to be installed and enjoyed by the Manhattan Valley community.
Many thanks to everyone for their attendance and support at the launch on the 24th April for all the projects on display. Come back for more photos and information from across the pond soon! If you'd like further information about the work or you'd like to make an appointment to visit Winterspace click here. Have a great weekend everyone!



Don't veto your voice today. Whoever you vote for, whatever your alliance, JUST VOTE. Politics is nothing without its populous - follow the British 2010 General Election here.

May Day In Manchester

I headed Northbound for the long weekend with Ana and Renée from The Ladies of the Press* to see the sights and sounds of Manchester. I wanted to see the exhibition, Walls Are Talking, at The Whitworth Art Gallery and the Ladies were making an appearance at the art and music festival, Sounds From The Other City, so we decided to take Manchester face on together. Being the international trio that we were, we didn't exactly land on the right foot when asked by our taxi driver where we were from because we all "... sound foreign". In a desperate attempt to cool a potentially political outburst - and to secure we'd be driven to our destination - I declared my British citizenship only to be shot down with "... well I'm English mate". Defining our taxi ride as 'awkward' may be an understatement - being told we were 'in the North now' was on the verge of threatening: were we ever to be accepted by Manchester? The answer. Yes. An outstanding yes as a matter of fact. This northern metropolis was a refreshing change from our Southern ways and we discovered a more genuine personality, which was reflected in the fresh and energised art scene and was in stark contrast to the tired Shoreditch chameleons we are used to.

Walls Are Talking is a rare offering of wallpaper as a legitimate medium within a contemporary art context. The Whitworth did well at referencing traditional samples with contemporary translations - artists such as Andy Warhol, Allen Jones, Damien Hirst and Francesco Simeti were represented, as well as designers such as Timorous Beasties and commercial papers from the twentieth century that reinforced cultural and gender stereotypes. It was a shame that there were more samples on display than confident curatorial decisions for absolute wallpaper immersion, but the gallery excelled in its large-scale installation of Thomas Demand's ivy wallpaper that filled the bright gallery space that looked out onto the neighbouring public park. With the gallery's origins heavily in the textile industry, anyone interested in design and pattern should make their way to The Whitworth Art Gallery and explore the fine collection of works on paper and textiles that will no doubt see a returning visit from me in the near future.

On Bank holiday Sunday, Salford - a few miles northwest of Manchester - was the location of Sounds From The Other City. Orbiting around the amazing Islington Mill, the festival performed at several locations around the neighbourhood. If I had to describe Salford in one word, eclectic would have to be it. Being a bit slow to realise it's connotations as 'the other city', Salford's creative scene at Islington Mill is all too aware of urban Mancunia's hesitance to wander to deep and dark Salford. But there is no need for any recognition from the city across the canal, for Islington Mill has something really special going for it and judging by the turn out on Sunday, people know this and will escape from their comfort zones and venture into the unique vibe that even I experienced with gusto out of my own comfort zone of oh-so-southern Berkshire!
Helping The Ladies of the Press* produce another of the moment publication, Live Press! and I went mobile and our journey took us from the former cotton spinning mill that houses both art and music studios with a fantastic community garden in its courtyard...
... to one of Salford's pride and joys. The Kings Arms on Bloom Street is an eccentric British - I mean, English pub that acts as watering hole for local creatives and hosts music and theatre events in its upstairs performing space. With weather clearly not being a deterrent in these parts, the pub also had it's own very own courtyard, packed with eccentric paraphernalia; from old signage, mirrors and frames, to everything you could think of that just never sells in a charity shop, the space made a perfect setting for Tone Float and his musical mobile milk float that rocked out on the cold and cloudy day that no one seemed to care about. It was in the name of art and having a good time and importantly, being genuine and as you can now see, eclectic just doesn't do Salford justice.
Competition of Salford's creative title comes from Manchester's Northen Quarter. A regeneration project of the last few years has seen this area, only a few blocks north of where we were staying near Piccadilly Station, turn into a hub of creative activity with art, fashion and design agencies setting up shop and with enough vintage stores and cool, yet humble, coffee joints and bars to make any cosmopolitan feel at home.
With an interesting mix of old and new architecture with sprawling street art around every corner, this creative quarter was somewhere we found ourselves going back to over and over again and for good reason. Thomas Streets cut across the quarter and 57 Thomas Street is a must for any beer aficionado. Brought to you from Manchester's Marble Beers this new establishment was only a few days old. Picture an intimate wine bar that only serves beer is what you get here - the knowledgeable and friendly staff are what creates the atmosphere here, with tastings and a story behind every beer pretty much guaranteed. The one long table also guarantees you meet people, creating the perfect formula of beer and banter without a reason to be intoxicated. For cocktails and music, check out Common on Edge Street (photo second from bottom) that played host to our last night in Manchester as well as the purveyor of great mojitos and an awesome atmosphere. Wash down all your alcohol at Grindsmith on Hilton Street where coffee and art meets in unison, with temporary art exhibitions gracing the walls of the space and a front window that let's you see the sights and sounds of Manchester from a comfortable position, which I hope you will agree after reading this, will pleasantly surprise you...

A big thank you to The Ladies of the Press* for their company and comedy last weekend - be sure to follow them on twitter as they press on in Leipzig this week at Art Zines - güte reise Ladies!


Bigger Better Weekend

I had an immense Bank holiday weekend in Manchester which I will be sharing with you all tomorrow but first I thought I'd post my surprise at finding my work, Bigger Better (2010) had been chosen by new viral art initiative, Billbored. Projected onto the façade of the Shoreditch Overground Station during the weekend, my repeat pattern was broadcast on a large-scale with other billboard creations as part of Project #1 inspired by several artist's visions of change in response to the UK General Elections this week. Visit Billbored to see my design and for further information about events that will take place throughout the week across London.
Photograph by Joseph Steele