Billboards At Gavin Brown

Gavin Brown New York are displaying a series of billboards by artists, Mark Leckey, Richard Prince and Joe Bradley on the façade of their Chelsea premises. I particularly like Prince's contribution that adds the perfect dose of humour to the New York landscape.

Billboards -
Mark Leckey
Richard Prince
Joe Bradley
Gavin Brown's enterprise
620 Greenwich Street
New York, NY, 10014


Flamingoes Fly Stateside

I can finally announce that my animation, Flamingo Parade (2010), has been selected for the 6th Annual PIXEL POPS! exhibit, Urban Realities in Newark, New Jersey, USA. As part of the 35 selected short films, Flamingo Parade - which animates the elements of the original repeat pattern that was produced in 2009 while I was living in New York - will be screened every Wednesday throughout the month of October in several locations around the New York metropolitan area and will be projected like digital billboards onto the urban landscape to be made accessible to a wider audience and incite interaction with incidental viewers from the respective local communities
Starting on Wednesday the 6th October at 7pm, the schedule below details the neighbourhood areas with precise locations being released between 24-48 hours in advance of each screening:

October 6th - Newark, New Jersey

October 13th - Williamsburg, New York

October 20th - Bushwick, New York

October 27th - Jersey City, New Jersey

This is a great opportunity to see my inspiration from my time at the Community Garden at West 104th Street in Manhattan back in 2009, realised within these public spaces beyond the Manhattan Valley. For the new visitors to my blog click here to learn more about my work with Space All Over at WinterSpace and the artist-community initiative, A Lot of Possibilities, curated by Anna Lise Jensen, who is working towards integrating contemporary art within the context of these green sites around Manhattan. For those of you who are not stateside, below is a sample of Flamingo Parade - make sure to visit jonathanvelardi.blogspot.com for more details and updates about the scheduled screenings and visit PIXEL POPS! for information about this annual event as well as a statement from curators, Jeanne Brasile and Hiroshi Kumagai.


Turning The World Upside Down

Anish Kapoor's outdoor exhibition, Turning the World Upside Down, opens today in Kensington Gardens. The four works which have never been shown together in London are presented by The Royal Parks and the Serpentine Gallery and will include two versions of the well-known work, Sky Mirror (2006) with not a Soviet Olympic Tower in sight (!). Click here for more information about the exhibit's locations in the park and while we're on the subject of mirrors, if you know of anyone in need of a heart you can contact me at jmvelardi@yahoo.co.uk ...
HEART (37 Mirrors), 2010

Investment Of Taste

Christie's, London 2010
It has been eight years since London has seen anything like this - in 2002 Enron, the disgraced energy giant, was auctioning as much of the company's property as possible from their UK operations, with thousands of lots defining corporate taste, painting a picture of how the other half live. A lot has happened since then, with the public's taste turning into disdain at the very mention of the 'b' words (banks, bankers and bonuses) with society's finger pointing firmly at them to blame for the recession. Like an uninvited open house, interest in what the other half actually spend their money on creates much media fascination. 

This week sees the auction of artwork and ephemera from the European arms of the brothers Lehman. Having filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September 2008, the investment bank, Lehman Brothers are giving everyone the opportunity to purchase a little piece of history at Christie's in South Kensington, London. Yesterday I wandered through the auction rooms to view an interesting array of paintings, prints and objets d'art which adorned the company's London offices in Canary Wharf. From Post-War and Contemporary paintings, eighteenth-century French furniture and Chinois ceramics to Meissen porcelain figures, Persian carpets, Georgian tea caddies and lacquered cigar boxes, all hope to realise around two-million pounds and judging by the browsers yesterday there really is something for everybody. From the businessman eager to bid on a statement piece and his Stepford wife looking for furnishings to decorate their new country pile, to the antique dealer looking for a treasure; the young entrepreneur hoping to bag an investment or the typographer interested in the company's iconic sign that once lived above the front door - it was interesting to see that many people wanted to acquire something with a Lehman connection: a slice of Lehman's taste. Yesterday however was big league when you consider my visit to the advertising studio of Partners & Spade in the East Village, New York in early 2009 to view an exhibit about the then-freshly insolvent Lehman Brothers. There were no Old Masters here, instead, Partners & Spade were offering another aspect of the world of Lehman, like a time capsule of corporate narcissism: Lehman branded mugs, baseball caps, canvas bags and even baby clothes were displayed under glass like ancient artefacts of a plundered city. 

The inevitable success of this Wednesday's auction will be down to the powerful image of Lehman employees vacating their offices two years ago, carrying their possessions in a cardboard box. Provenance is a great way to sell and the brothers Lehman have a good story and a story that is still making column inches after two years. Those bidding this week will have invested in good dinner talk and at the end of the day isn't that what it's all about? Because even the really bad lots will make anyone feel like they've trumped a bank and in today's climate, nothing can taste better than that.

Partners & Spade, New York, 2009
Lehman Brothers: Artwork and Ephemera
Wednesday 29th September, 12:00pm
85 Old Brompton Road


Artificial Intelligence

On Thursday I found shelter from the rain in Haunch of Venison and managed to see the exhibition I Will Survive, by Portuguese artist, Joana Vasconcelos before it closes today. The architecture of Haunch of Venison alone sets a scene that could make any work an epic success and unfortunately on previous occasions I have found myself more concerned with the plasterwork and woodwork in this Sir James Pennethorne-desgined building at 6 Burlington Gardens than the art on display. Well not this time.
Mary Poppins, 2010
Subtlety welcomes you into the gallery with barriers that are made from braided synthetic hair - they lead you into the Atrium and that's where the subtle card draws the line. Hanging in all it's seven-metre tall, six-metre wide glory, Mary Poppins (above) is an eclectic chandelier-like assemblage of wool, crochet, fabric and tassels that sets the tone for the rest of the exhibition. The traditions of craft and everyday objects in Portuguese homes magnify the ability of handmade proving that our hands can create giant structures just as well as machines can.
Piano Dentelle, 2008
Themes of class, national identity and politics of gender invite you into a world of artifice: from the faience ceramic animals and the plastic food moulds to the intricate use of crochet that veneers the sculptural works to create an intriguing sexual intimacy, these mixed media installations take the viewer on an emotional journey of history and tradition as well as the current state of contemporary culture and it's thirst for the artificial.
Passerelle (Catwalk), 2005
This idea is perfectly captured in Garden of Eden (Labyrinth), a blacked-out installation of plastic flowers that are laced with glittering fibre-optics. The type of gadget that is commonly found on market stalls or toy shops, these small electric plants may be small in stature, but it was the noise of the motor that produced what I can only describe as cricket chirps or insect rustles that contributed to a tropical symphony in a paradise of technology that I thought was a great success. Craft and kitsch may be an obvious pairing, but Vasconcelos has produced a body of work that a makes the viewer look past the craft aesthetic, placing the focus back on society and it's motives.
Left to right: Hyperconsumption, 2010, Sugar Baby, 2010, Pantelmina #2, 2001
Images courtesy of Haunch of Venison


La Chiquita Bonita

I haven't written about pattern for a while and everywhere I have turned this week has coincidentally been pattern-overload so I'm going to start with bananas... you know, the 'Chiquita' ones you find in the supermarket. Bare with me, the link is not as tedious as it sounds. If you didn't think there was such a thing as "minimal baroque", think again. "Minimal baroque" was how Miuccia Prada described her Prada Spring/Summer collection for 2011 that debuted in Milano yesterday with a myriad of electric colour, stripes and decoration that painted a picture of life in a tropical jungle... in space. "Bold and brave" are nothing new to Prada but the placement of elements such as cherubs, scrolls, monkeys, all with thick stripes of colour and this fantastic banana print just exude the South American heat as well as invincibility in a way that embodies the genetics of Baroque for a utilitarian twenty-first century. Gentlemen, prepare to be ah-ing and ooh-ing as these tall, tan, young, lovely ladies pass by. Coming soon to a playa near you.
Prada S/S2011RTW


Public Statements

Thank you to everyone who made it out West to PROP at Departure Gallery. There were good vibes all round for the new direction my work is taking which was great to hear - the exhibition remains open by appointment until the 23rd October, with another special opening in conjunction with the Private View of Rhizomatic on the 8th October. Curated by Louise Ashcroft from Departure Gallery, this ambitious project is based on philosophers, Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guttari's concept of Rhizome and will see works by over two hundred artists take over a 100,000 square foot space at Boeing Way on The International Trading Estate in Southall. More details to follow... but until then, with my mind accustomed to bigger and better art, space and things, queue the doyenne of large scale Public Art to show us how it's really done. 820 Washington Street in New York plays host to the newest commissioned work by Barbara Kruger for the Whitney On Site series at the Whitney Museum of American Art. The monochrome statements, printed on vinyl, have been installed on the pavements and the tops of buildings within this block in the Meatpacking district. "REAL ESTATE ART MONEY SEX" is not only conceptually attractive but in keeping with this area's transformation from subculture central to high culture HQ and may be the most personal expression of Kruger's portfolio to date: for these messages are not for the passerby, they are speaking to a society that inhabits a higher vantage point, able to see from high above while they look down on their conquered territory. Elitist, yet so public in scale, Kruger encompasses precisely what the Art World has become over the last century as well as commenting on New York's central positioning of a market that manages to balance culture with currency. Looks like I finally have an excuse to charter a helicopter from Manhattan Heliport!
820 Washington Street at Gansevoort & Washington


Cracks & Cristal

Today is the opening of PROP at Departure Gallery in Southall, London. With the Private View this coming Friday, I thought I'd give you all a preview of my new work which is on display in this amazing warehouse space. Possibly my most ambitious self-initiated installation to date, my practice has taken on new directions in recent months and I'm very excited to take on new projects in a similar vein as this three piece mixed-media installation, CRACK.
CRACK, 2010 - MDF & Sparklene 1000x800x25mm
The crack lines in the sculptural plaque are mirrored to scale on the floor which spans an area of 12x13 metres and creates an interesting dialogue between art and architecture that produces a surprisingly intimate environment within the grand scale of the warehouse.
CRACK, 2010 - Black tape approx. 125m, 12x13m
Taking on a new approach with my three-dimensional works, Cristal Clear continues my interest in celebrating the everyday fused with the aspirations of urban culture.
A play on words, a White Spirit bottle wrapped in yellow plastic wrapping alludes to the exclusive Louis Roederer Cristal Champagne that has grown to capture the essence of 'black spirit' and is the product of choice that has created a celebrity following from the super rich to music moguls around the world.
Cristal Clear, 2010 - 2 litres White Spirit & mixed media
PROP is open by appointment from the 13th September - 23rd October 2010 with the Private View on Friday the 17th September 6-9.30pm. Visit Departure Gallery for details on making an appointment and information about the free taxi service from Southall Station to the gallery this Friday night. Hope to see you all there!


Avant-première A Le Château

Royalty takes residence at The Palace of Versailles this month - Art Royalty that is. With only two days to the official opening of the much anticipated exhibition, here are some preview shots of Takashi Murakami's exhibition in the Grand Apartments of one of the most famous royal residences in the world. Thanks to French photographer Uglymely, here's what we can expect: large-scale, technicolour and diamond encrusted, the parallels of excess between centuries could not be more suitable. Check out more images from Uglymely here and visit the website of the Château de Versailles for more information on Murakami Versailles that runs from 14th September - 12th December... Je. Ne. Peux. Pas. Attendre!


Great Danes: Part II

  Statens Museum for Kunst
With areas such as Vesterbro's Carlsberg Centre and Fisketorvet, the bohemian Christianshavn and the neighbourhood around Kastellet, Copenhagen has enough art districts to whet anyone's appetite. I recommend starting at the Statens Museum for Kunst, Denmark's National Gallery to get a feel of the collections that span from the early Renaissance to the contemporary - all housed in an impressive building that looks out onto Østre Anlæg, one of the city's oldest fortifications.

Biospheres, 2009 - Tomás Saraceno
The exhibition Photographs, that closed last week, presented 250 works from both Danish and international artists that captured the conceptual style of seeing everyday life through a lens. ReThink Relations took centre stage in the gallery's atrium with works by Tomás Saraceno, Olafur Eliasson, Allora & Calzadilla and Henrik Håkansson that focused on climate issues with both simple, yet ambitious installations. 
Head South to the district of Nyboder to find a series of commercial galleries (Galleri Christina Wilson, Galleri Mikael Andersen, henningsen contemporary & Rohde contemporary) nestled in the grand apartment buildings that neighbour Amelienborg, the Royal residence of the Danish Royal Family. Since many of the galleries open at noon, take advantage to watch the changing of the guard march across the city to their new posts and grab yourself a coffee at the delectable Kafferiet on 44 Esplanaden before hitting the higher end of the art circuit in these royal quarters. Culture vultures need sustenance and there is no place like TASTE on 80 Store Kongensgade for amazing handmade sandwiches or moreish vegetable scones at lunchtime. 

Barry McGee at V1 Gallery
The southern harbours of Vesterbro offer a more alternative art experience. Independent contemporary art galleries have squeezed in between the slaughter chambers of the fish and meatpackers in Fisketorvet. Check out Hans Alf Gallery, Galleri Bo Bjerggaard and V1 Gallery who were exhibiting works by Todd James (a.k.a. REAS) and Lydia Fong (a.k.a. Barry McGee) which are conveniently next door to the equally cool Karriere Bar. Created by Danish artist Jeppe Hein, Karriere Bar's fixtures and fittings have been given the golden touch by some of the art world's greats - prepare to be amazed while watching freshly cut meats shipped in and out on the forecourt. 
Work your way down the train tracks to the establishments that are being set up around the Carlsberg Centre. A community within itself that takes up several blocks, the brewery compound has had a cultural injection with the opening of new commercial galleries that can be found appropriately on 'New Carlsberg Way' or Ny Carlsberg Vej. Galleri Nicolai Wallner and IMO have adapted the old warehouses into large and open spaces - the area currently possesses an in-the-know feel about it that was rather exciting and it was my good friend Christina who I met while we were both at The Slade, who gave me the insider's go-to, which included our next stop: Christianshavn...

Home to a more bohemian slice of society, Christianshavn is home to the Freetown of Christiana that is partially self-governed by the community of hippies that live in abandoned military barracks that form an eclectic shanty town. A sharp contrast to the design-conscious Danish aesthetic, there was a rebellious, almost aggressive feeling in the air, which may be due to the tourists who now flock to view the inhabitants like wild animals in a zoo. Only a short walk along the canal, civilization is restored, and I finally got to try a Smørrebrød - an open sandwich that consists of dark rye bread, topped with a selection of fish, meats and spreads. As delicious as I had imagined, you can now see I was not wrong when I said culture and food go hand in hand. Before the end of a long day of catching up and eating up, Christina introduced me to the Nationalmuseet's Three Homes Three Centuries collection. Open to the public, these preserved homes include a Merchant's House, a Little Mill and a Victorian Home and offer an opportunity to see Danish life across three centuries.
Lille Mølle (Little Mill) is located at 54 Christianshavns Volgade and is a must see for any historical voyeur - the café in the garden was equally tried and tested and is the perfect shady spot for some historical reflection.
Finally, if you want to say you've crossed one of the world's longest bridges then book a train ticket to Malmö, Denmark's closest Swedish neighbour, and travel across the beautiful Øresund Bridge in only thirty-minutes. I had not done a lot of pre-planning for this day out which was no bad thing - overcast and rain in the morning may not have been the start I was hoping for. First thing to do was to visit architect Santiago Calatrava's Turning Torso that was completed in 2005. Looking out over the water towards Copenhagen, it is Malmö's tallest building and the clouds that grazed the top of the 190m high structure only added to the dramatic stature of its design. Specifically located in the city's Västra Hamnen district, this area is already seeing fast urbanisation and will no doubt be the new happening hub in a few years time.

With everything in the city centre at walking distance, Malmö Konsthall was my first stop. Always All Way. Omnes Viae Malmö Ducent was an exhibition by Cameroon artist, Pascale Marthine Tayou. The large mixed media installations were typically African in style, with the use of everyday market objects assembled into totem poles and three-dimensional arrangements that created an interesting comment on how human movements and urban structures influence our surroundings. I may now be getting boring with all this food talk, but the Konsthall's restaurant, Smak offered one of the best museum menu's I have ever seen. The selection of three organic main courses all came with the most incredible buffet of Swedish delicacies and if the attendance was anything to go by - it was full, not a single seat spare - my grilled beetroots and apricots were wonderful, as was the baked breads. Praise is due to both curator and chef for one of the best visual and gastronomic experiences I have ever had. 
Maybe it was the food, the charming waitresses or the space at the Konsthall, but the Moderna Museet Malmö unfortunately did not live up to expectations. Depressed by the main exhibtion in the space's Turbine Hall - and Europe will be stunnedby Israeli film artist Yael Bartana, there is only so much Holocaust-related art I can stomach and with a series of several films - all with sound; all playing at the same time - the rain outside was becoming evermore attractive. The weather perked up in the afternoon and I had enough time to walk around the historic network of piazzas and narrow streets that led me to FORM/DESIGN CENTER, an exhibition space that features both new and established Swedish designers and architects in a building dating back to the fifteenth-century.

Pascale Marthine Tayou at Malmö Konsthall
In conclusion: it's always nice seeing old friends, meeting new people and discovering new places. I may be a few lbs heavier and a few £s lighter on my return, but Denmark is officially my new favourite destination and if I could afford to pay the 48%-plus taxes I would live there as fast as you can say Smørrebrød.


Great Danes: Part I

I finally have a few minutes of downtime to cast my mind back to not very long ago and tell you all about my amazing time in København or Copenhagen for all you non-Danes. I am after all a fully-fledged Dane having been asked for directions on several occasions; the first being only a few minutes after I got off the train as I arrived - luggage in hand - I must clearly have looked like someone going back to their flat in Vesterbro... I wish! This may be Scandinavia, but the Danish design that it is so famous for is a little rough around the edges and not so clean cut as its Northern neighbours in Sweden. I'll recap about art and design in the next post, so for now sit back, relax and enjoy a guided tour of Copenhagen...

I should really start off with saying I have wanted to go to Denmark since I was a little child. Asked by my Mother what I wanted to do one afternoon I replied I wanted to go to Legoland and see the world famous Little Mermaid statue. Geography may clearly not have been my forte at the wise old age of five, but the twenty year wait was worth it - more on this anecdote later.  Before leaving for Copenhagen I discovered the blog Cycle Chic, dedicated to beautiful Danes riding their equally beautiful bicycles around the city but I had no idea how important having two wheels is until I got there. No matter when in the day, come rain or shine, the bicycle is king of the cobbled roads and is your mode of transport to walk your dog, ferry your toddlers to play dates, carry a kitchen table and to go out in the night (taxis will take your-not-so-sober-self and bike safely home). All this adds to a truly energetic vibe set against the classic vs. cutting backdrop of the city's architecture, with a series of cool neighbourhoods that add to the mix.

Vesterbro, located West of the city centre, is the once working class area that now offers designer stores and wine bars on its streets as well as housing the Fish and Meatpacking centre Fisketorvet, surrounded by art galleries and restaurants. The city may not be walkable - we've already established two wheels constitute as legs here - but it is compact and in between Vesterbro and the inner city walls, lies the magical world of Tivoli. Created in 1843 after persuading King Christian VIII that "when people are amusing themselves, they do not think about politics", this curious and kitsch theme park is the second oldest in the world and was the main inspiration behind the Disney franchise. Free from tackiness and corporate branding, Tivoli is a pleasant visit for tourists as well as being a genuine escape for locals to turn back the years to one's childhood. Colonial themes define the areas of the park from Indian fantasy to Chinatown, with the great Tivoli Palace housing the boutique Nimb Hotel that has a great bar on the first floor that looks out onto the gardens and makes for a great venue for an evening drink just before the daily fireworks display - being a kid again while drinking a Basil infused G&T is not to be missed!

When I arrived, Fashion Week was in full swing and it was great to get a chance to see several of the Adidas initiatives that took place around the city. Opposite the Tivoli entrance stood stacked shipping containers which graffiti artists, Pirates, used as their canvas and later set sail around the city - check out the event in conjunction with Highsnobiety below...

Being a real travel foodie I've found anything that is worthwhile to see will be near anything that is worthwhile to eat, leaving both my stomach and cultural cravings well fed. Head North to the uber cool district of Nørrebro for a vegan lunch at Cafe N on 17 Blågårdsgade. For sweet teeth book a table at The Royal Cafe where porcelain and moreish baked goods come together in beautiful unison.

Situated in the courtyard of the Royal Copenhagen's Flagship store on Amagertorv - think London's Sketch-meets-Ladurée - you will find an eclectic recipe of contemporary art on the walls, a selection of exotic teas and the finest Danish tarts all served up on Royal Copenhagen china. Let's just say this particular establishment had the pleasure of my attendance twice.
In the end, Legoland found a way of coming to me and is now practically my next door neighbour here in Windsor. As for the Little Mermaid, it had been kidnapped by the Chinese for the World EXPO in Shanghai this year. My childhood fantasy may not have had the ideal happy ending but I've discovered there is so much more to Copenhagen than my five-year-old self could have ever imagined. Art, design and smørrebrøds in 'Great Danes' Part II.