The Hole

Saturday evening saw the launch of a new gallery on Greene Street in SoHo, New York. The Hole is born from two former directors at Deitch Projects, Kathy Grayson and Meghan Coleman, who describe in their witty and unique press release for their opening show,
"... opening a gallery immediately on the heels of Deitch Projects closing has been a struggle... not knowing what to do with ourselves after eight years... ".
As I reported earlier in the year with the westward migration of Jeffrey Deitch to become Director of the Los Angeles Museum of Contemporary Art, The Hole may claim to have had various obstacles on it's maiden voyage but with a network that spans nearly a decade, this gallery is guaranteed to create a scene of its own very quickly. With it's opening exhibition consisting of unfinished works from over twenty artists, it is a poignant message that speaks of greater things to come.
Not Quite Open for Business runs until the 14th August, 2010 at The Hole, 104 Green Street, New York City, NY 10012


Thrilla In Manila

Last Thursday I travelled up the M1 to the urban wonderment that is Milton Keynes. I was invited by my good friends the Ladies of the Press*, fresh from their Live Press! Tour, to feature as a guest artist at their live performance, Press Cuttings, held at Milton Keynes Gallery. Thursday nights at the Gallery are Scratch Nights organised by Simon Wright who invited Ana and Renée to perform their publishing prowess in conjunction with the current exhibition, Mark Leckey and Martin McGeown: Life and Times of Milton Keynes Gallery. The mixed media show is a collaboration between 2008 Turner Prize winner, Leckey, and Director of Cabinet Gallery, McGeown, who have sourced material from the Gallery's archives to create wall-based installations and new works that are inspired by the venue's ten year history. Working on the same principle, the Ladies of the Press* had access to the archives and chose to focus on press releases, private view information and correspondence between the Gallery and the art world for their performative publication. Taking a new direction from the much-loved zine format, a series of loose A4 press clippings hand picked by Ana and Renée were presented in a Manila folder to the Gallery's guests and participants. My contribution to the evening was to re-edit the press pack to produce a series of thirteen slides that were screened on a monitor to express a curious as well as personal take on the Milton Keynes Gallery archives that had been edited down and recontextualized through yet another stage to result in a multi-layered visual narrative that complemented the performance. Edited threads travelled back and forth between monitor, computer screen and press pack, resulting in a third and final stage of cuts that produced a series of individual press clippings that successfully documented both the Gallery's history and the evening's performance in unison. Below are the thirteen slides that were edited and magnified from the original press pack - visit Milton Keynes Gallery here for further information regarding the exhibition and click here for images of Leckey and McGeown's interpretations of the archive.

As always, a big thank you to Ana and Renée for inviting me to what was a fantastic evening and a special thank you to Simon who produced a monitor out of nowhere for my work and joined in the Tahoma tribute! Yes you've heard it here first: the return of the Tahoma typeface is back! Continuing in the spirit of the evening, a press release will follow shortly...


'Somewhere' Sometime Soon

This has to be the tease of all teasers but something tells me it will be worth it. Coming to a theatre near you... sometime in December (yes December - Wimbledon has only just begun which means I'm proudly six-months ahead of schedule!) is Sofia Coppola's latest cinematic offering, Somewhere. Starring Stephen Dorff and Elle Fanning, the trailer sets the scene for another atmospheric Coppola triumph and the scene, by the looks of it is on note at Hollywood hotspot, Chateau Marmont. The film's style continues in the same vein of the silent and somewhat awkward Lost In Translation which I've found people either loathed or loved - I'm for the latter and love Coppola's choice of locations and exquisite soundtracks which create the narrative free from crass and commercial visuals. French band Phoenix and American band The Strokes strum to the minimal beauty that will be Somewhere. It seems December just got a lot warmer...


The Halcyon Effect

Halcyon Days, 2009 - oil on canvas, 50x50cm
Yesterday night I attended the opening of Cole Contemporary's latest exhibition, The Drifting Canvas. The group show of eight painters included my good friend and talented artist, Ellen Macdonald. Ellen and I met when we were both on exchange at The School of the Art Institute Chicago, since graduating from the Glasgow School of Art, which I was rather envious about - Glasgow alone is a cool city but the Art School is inspirational and a Mackintosh mecca - Ellen now lives and works in Berlin and it's been great to follow her career and see her every so often when she's in town. With every rendezvous I have the pleasure of seeing her new work and as always, Ellen never disappoints.Halcyon Days (2009) is a more minimal, abstract take on her previous body of work - the washed purple and blue strokes play backdrop to the powerful pink and golden structure in the foreground with its diamond form drawing you into the canvas. The exhibition's narrative explores the dominance of digital representation, such as CGI technology and computer effects which abstract painting has equally informed and been inspired by in both the pre- and present digital age.
Click here to view more of Ellen's fantastic work and I encourage everyone to pay at visit to Cole Contemporary at 3-4a Little Portland Street, London W1W 7JB - The Drifting Canvas runs until the 17th July 2010.


Holy Crap

Art 41 Basel opens today with nearly three-hundred leading galleries from across the Modern and contemporary art world all claiming a stake in the idyllic and culturally rich Swiss town. I'm particularly interested in this year's New Jerseyy offering of new works by American artist Rob Pruitt. Gaining prominence as a collaborative partnership under the moniker Pruitt-Early in the early nineties, Pruitt has continued to exhibit solo throughout America with rare sightings of his work across the atlantic. Church signs are the main inspiration for the exhibition at this year's Art Basel, Holy Crap, as well as a DJ mixing Bible tracks and selected items from the artist's collection of Panda memorabilia which has featured heavily in his previous works.
If you want to join the pilgrimage click here for more information about New Jerseyy at Hüningerstrasse 18, CH-4056 and other events at Art 41 Basel.


NY In Motion

News from the other side of the Atlantic is that we are baby steps away from finalising a location and wall for my 31 x 9ft installation of Flamingo Parade (2009-2010). The next event to hit the Manhattan Valley will be on the 21st June where other proposed projects for the West 104th Street Community Garden will be on display, with an evening showreel of video works being projected onto the walls of the garden - a great idea for a balmy summer's evening in New York City!
Flamingo Parade (2009-2010)
The exhibition, A Lot Of Possibilities #2, continues to be on display at WinterSpace by appointment only and a new digital work of Flamingo Parade is a recent addition to the space. The animation brings the repeat pattern to life by creating a journey of the pattern's elements as well as a graphic narrative of my inspirations while I was in New York. Behold the Flamingoes in motion...

Visit WinterSpace for updates and information on the projects on show in A Lot Of Possibilities #2.


The Apple Of Temptation

So I forgot to mention that Exeter's Mac store happened to be the most empty Apple establishment I have even seen - there were more staff hanging around than customers and it was raining! So what better time to cave into temptation and have a go with the new iPad in tranquility. I have to admit I was won over and I must say it proved to be the perfect device to read this blog and browse my work on the multi-touch screen at jonathanvelardi.com...

Ex Marks The Spot

I've just returned from not-so-sunny Devon - I'm assured the sun makes a big difference down in the South West - which is just as well, since I'll be spending part of this summer in the county working on a commission I was invited to take on a few weeks ago by Devon County Council and Double Elephant Print Workshop. It may have been damp and wet on my arrival for my first site visit in Exeter but I was warmly welcomed by the team at Double Elephant who showed me around the studio where I will be producing a series of screen-prints for the Politics in Print commission, inspired by the incredible collections at the Devon Record Office. I must say a huge thank you to both Katherine and John at the Record Office for their time and patience with someone like me who was in absolute awe of the James Bond-esque archive rooms (the ones where blocks of adjoining shelves move all in unison with a slight twist of a wheel... amazing!). I'll be working closely with them throughout my time in Exeter looking at political documents as early as 1590. A few highlights of the afternoon was seeing a letter by 1st Viscount Nelson in his own hand - of which he only had the one at that time - written only a few months before his death as well as political correspondence from Henry Addington who was Prime Minister in the early nineteenth-century. I will be documenting the commission at every stage before the run-up to the exhibition in September through my blog so be sure to come back for more updates.
Until then, here's a few encounters I came across during my stay... Double Elephant Print Studio is located in the town's creative centre, Exeter Phoenix - an Arts House with a nice vibe and a great gallery space. Currently on display are works by Anne Gathmann and Fiona MacDonald in A Point In The Field who both deal with themes of uncertainty and the ambiguity of our relation to reality in the natural world. Gathmann's works on paper act as architectural interventions, creating fragile spaces and invitations for exploration with works on the wall, floor and on simple sculptural forms. This simplicity complements the hyper-organic creations by MacDonald that resemble plant structures and microscopic organisms that washes across the canvas in cool colorways. I particularly liked her miniature sculptures that pay reference to the great tablueax of Goya and Titian with a dripping silicone quality that mirrored the fluid style of her two-dimensioanl works.
A Point In The Field installation - Fiona MacDonald
Aggregate, 2010 - Anna Gathmann
Yesterday I decided to head down Exmouth-way to the coast and with the sun trying very hard to make an appearance, I stumbled across A La Ronde on the outskirts of Exmouth. This National Trust property is one of the most peculiar and unique in its portfolio due to its sixteen-sided design. Completed in 1796, the house was the vision of Jane and Mary Parminter, wealthy spinster cousins who had the hexadecagon home built for them on their return from a ten-year Grand Tour of Europe. It is said it was the Basilica of San Vitale in Ravenna, Italy that inspired the cousins to build their twenty-room home looking down onto the bay in this fashion. The home's purpose however, was not solely a home, the interior is an example of carpentry and woodwork at its best with cupboards and seating that swing and slide open from internal walls and corridors.
The attention to detail has lead historians to think that regular builders of the era would not have had such expertise and therefore, it is said the Parminter cousins instructed local boatbuilders of Exmouth for their skill and craftsmanship to create the unique shape with space and functionality. When the sun finally decided to shine, it was obvious that the hexadecagon design made sense. All the rooms (apart from the fifty-four foot octagonal hall in the centre of the house) were adjoining, allowing the cousins to move from one sun-lit room to another throughout the day. If the exterior and internal structures were deemed extraordinary, then I could only imagine what visitors to the house of the time must have thought as I traveled from room to room following the sun. A La Ronde is a tribute to the Parminter's taste and sheer eclecticism for the exotic - every room is filled with objects and hand-made works that include bird feathers that decorate the cornices to minuscule paper cuttings and portrait silhouettes. But the decoration that must have been incredibly satisfying for these ladies of leisure has to be The Shell Gallery that sits at the top of the house. Created with nearly twenty-five thousand shells, pieces of mirror and feathers, the encrusted gallery was to represent the bottom of the ocean while the hall, draped in marine linen with painted walls was to resemble water to create a surreal topsy-turvey statement. The Parminter cousins were revolutionary to say the least and if you ever find yourself on Devon's coastline, be sure to experience a dose of eighteenth-century eclecticism for yourself.
Visit A La Ronde at Summer Lane, Exmouth, Devon EX8 5BD or click here for more information.


La Fin

This is the seventh and final post in conjunction with INTRODUCING's latest e-zine offering, Hypothetically. I'd like to thank everyone for visiting my blog and I hope you've enjoyed a different take on the themes from Issue X. A special thank you must go to guest editor Nicola McCartney for giving me the go ahead for this idea and allowing the blog to play a live and performative role in the issue... as well as possessing an unexpectedly strong French vein which I only just realise now and I hope I haven't deterred too many Anglophiles away! Please continue to view the works of Tory Smith, Gianni Notarianni, Jospeh Tovey-Frost, Ben Rogers, Catrina Stewart and Heather Bignell for Hypothetically.

For more information about any of the contributors visit INTRODUCING here and for all the new visitors from this week, I hope to see you again at jonathanvelardi.blogspot.com - next week I'll be reporting from delightful Devon. Until then mes amis...


Associated Press

Courgettes or Zucchini? Lambrini or Laurent-Perrier? Ryanair or Riva? These are a few questions I have been thinking about after speaking with Hypothetically's guest editor, Nicola McCartney, before the issue launched last month. Nicola introduced me to French sociologist and philosopher, Pierre Bourdieu and I have been captivated by his pioneering investigations and theories regarding the dynamics and power relations in social life. I have particularly taken to Bourdieu's primary research around ethnography - his first book, Sociologie de L'Algerie (1962) - since this was the basis of my own research at The Slade. It is his later explorations concerning the developments in everyday life however, that relate as mush to my ethos as to my artistic practice today. I have been known to loosely throw the term 'cultural caché' around with little understanding of its power that Bourdieu explains in his classic work, Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste (La Distinction) (1984) that looks at social structures and places them into symbolic orders. Although an academic, Bourdieu was perceived in France's public eye to be one of the people - an accessible intellectual - and a theorist that confronted the reality of social issues unashamedly. Through the processes of image recognition and association within varying demographics of society, the worth of his findings led to the definitions of a person's capital - being social, economic and cultural. Class and social positioning was determined by the attitudes and choices of the everyday that Bourdieu would simplify with the revelation of one's style of furniture and clothing; what one would eat on a regular day and a special day, the type of music that was favoured. All of these examples were strong factors that lay outside the realm of previous studies that based results around the educational system. With these everyday results, Bourdieu discovered society's naked taste: a taste that had been inherited from one's surroundings by natural association that was, if subconsciously, pure of any interventions from unnatural surroundings that one may come across during childhood - a theory he termed, habitus. For Bourdieu, this was a case that was much more than economic distinction between social classes. One's primary social field defined one's path through life by means of familiarity and natural choice. To change fields by entering a higher or lower social bracket was not theoretically comfortable, affirming Bourdieu's controversial stance that financial labelling was not a sole factor for social advancement when the symbols of everyday life play an equal part.

The image above is a good example of the type of visual recognition that plays a powerful role in our society, which advertisers profit from in abundance. Taken from a British newspaper between 2006-2007 in times of pre-recession and when British fashion house, Burberry were doing too well, becoming too accessible to the wrong type of social class, the lastminute.com "Get there before they do" campaign sells the idea that the wrong social class, a reference to the 'Chav' breed - borne from Labour's 'Cool Britannia' - were proving to be just as mobile as the middle and upper classes. The advertisement speaks to a more conservative class through the language of image association - an imitation Burberry check holdall - as a way of warning them to book their holiday sooner rather than later as well as opting for a more exotic destination that would not be on the they-in-question's geographical radar.
Brand backtrack: the Burberry check was invented in the 1920s
What is fascinating is that every aspect of society continues to follow the behaviours set out in La Distinction and without knowing it, the natural progression of society mirrors the cultural capital of individuals even in times when governments strive for change and social conflict persists. We only need to look back at the British General Election of last month and listen to the barrage of class distinction that was flung between the Labour and Conservative Party. I only had to log in to my Facebook account to gage the deep-rooted distain for private education (referring to Eton-alumni Prime Minister Cameron) that revolted many of my artistic colleagues. But aside from status-protest that clearly did not do them any good, the bourdieusian framework is everywhere. Whether we are drawn into the doors of Waitrose or Asda, paint our walls magnolia or arsenic green, go to art or medical school or even go to university at all, these are choices that although at the time may have felt foreign, were natural within our social field and continue to define our identity through social association.

I leave you with a story from my hometown, the Royal Borough of Windsor, Eton and Maidenhead. Taking association and bringing it to the political stage, was a recent campaign by the Royal Borough in the county of Berkshire, to dissassociate itself with the "SL" postcode - taken from neighbouring town Slough - famed by Poet Laureate, John Betjeman in his stanza, 
Come friendly bombs and fall on Slough! / It isn't fit for humans now... 
As he viewed the industrial town from the East Terrace at Royal residence, Windsor Castle in 1937. Unfortunately Slough's image has never recovered since and with ever-increasing petitions from residents in the Royal Borough to lose SL and replace it with "WM" (Windsor Maidenhead) for apparent reasons of economic and social amelioration, Bourdieu's theories are and will be forevermore du moment.

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


The Hermit Kingdom

No food. No electricity. No clean running water. No liberty. These may all be hypothetical statements in the Western world in the twenty-first century, but they are all too real in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea
This week BBC's Newsnight has had unprecedented-as-you-get-in-North-Korea access to capture what life is like in one of the most hypothetical society's on this planet. Sue Lloyd-Roberts, a BBC special affairs international correspondent, finds herself in one staged scenario after another as she is taken around what 'real' North Korean life is like under the dictatorship of the Great Leader Kim Jong-il. What is so fascinating in the two-part reportage is the discovery that Jong-il's late father, Kim ll-sung still holds the title of President and is believed will continue to do so for eternity. Flowers are offered in God-like fashion to both the late and current dictators, thanking them for a life that they genuinely believe is far fortunate than their neighbours in the South.

Lloyd-Roberts' British wit and journalistic tenure hold strong in the faces of the script-tied official minders. Her rare insight into a world where the saying 'if you don't know any better' rings loud across the Baekdu Mountain, explores the notion of belief through a system of rigid censorship. Although there are defectors that risk their lives to travel to South Korea, the generations that are left behind continue to live under the virtual grip of Communism that is slowing both economic and cultural development against the fast pace of modernity. What Llyod-Roberts found most alarming was the fact that the people who she encountered - some of whom forgot the script - genuinely believed that she and the rest of the West would believe the portrayal of a life that they only know how to believe in.

The next generation of delusional believers
View Sue Lloyd-Roberts and her special report inside North Korea at BBC Newsnight: Part 1 and Part 2

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


Desire In The Fast Lane

OK, so there's absolutely nothing 'hypothetical' about this but for one day only, the world of motor cars and modern art combine, finding themselves falling into each other's eyes in romantic Paris. The Centre Pompidou today is hosting the premiere of the 17th BMW Art Car - following in the footsteps of the likes of Lichtenstein and Warhol, Jeff Koons was aptly chosen for this year's commission to respond to a BMW M3 GT2 around the notion of desire.
I have to be honest and say a few months ago some CAD images were released of the proposed design and I had my doubts, but Koons has again surpassed himself, no pun intended, with bright and bold coloured lines that create a supersonic effect across the chassis with added in-your-face debris at the rear of the car to simulate power. Koons describes the notion of desire as '"life energy" - a power to achieve and create. Winning is everything on whatever life path you may be on. BMW is hoping to win with this power-hungry Art Car at this year's 24 Hour Le Mans race held on 12th-13th June 2010. Koons on the other hand is firmly on the winning highway of success and is not turning off anytime soon.
The 17th BMW Art Car may be viewed in the Forum of the Centre Pompidou today until 9pm with a book signing and talk with the artist at 6pm.

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

Stateside Of Klein

Ci-gît l’Espace (1960)
If you're stateside this year, be sure to check out the comprehensively rare retrospective of Yves Klein's work in America - a first in almost thirty years. In conjunction with the Hirshhorn Museum, Washington and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, the collection of two-hundred works will be exhibited thematically through the artist's infamous series of monochromes, fire paintings and sculptural reliefs. It will be a rare chance to see Ci-gît l’Espace (1960) and Ex-voto, dédié à Sainte-Rita (1961) in all of their gold-leaf glory. As with Hypothetically, the exhibition - curated by Kerry Walker and Phillipe Vergne - invite the viewer to see Klein as more than an object maker, but as a thinker and a philosopher: an artist in the contemporary world.
Ex-voto, dédié à Sainte-Rita (1961)
Yves Klein: The Void, Full Powers will be on display at the Hirshhorn Museum until 12th September 2010 and will travel to the Walker Art Center from 23rd October 2010 - 13th February 2011.

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


You've Been Krinked

Grafitti artist Craig "KR" Costello is leaving his mark this month at creative locale, The Base, in Taipei Taiwan. With his signature drip aesthetic created from his very own 'Krink' products, Taipei makes an appropriate location to engage in an unfamiliar arena even though the domination of communication and internet have made what were once distant cities, familiar surroundings. Using the urban landscape as his canvas, KR has krinked a Taiwanese Betel nut stand (below) and the facade of the Hotel Flowers Taipei (above) to complement his body of work at The Base - click here to check out KR in action with one of his trademark canvases. There's something about the drips that make me want to see a bigger picture through the myriad of the metropolis and follow the source of the drips - a journey that I think would not be so familiar at all.
KRINK runs at The Base, 台北市漢口街1段36號 B1 until 27th June 2010.

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