Send My Love To Everyone In Japan

Bigger Stronger for Japan, 2011
I am honoured to be involved with tonight's Charity Arts Fundraiser for victims of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Not only are many of my dear friend Japanese, I visited the Land of the Rising Sun at the beginning of the year - while I celebrated with friends and family the prospects for 2011 nothing could have prepared us for what nature had planned on the 11th March. "Send My Love to Everyone in Japan" is a way for my immediate network of artists to contribute to the relief effort from afar and send our thoughts to friends and family who are in Japan. I will be joining my good friends The Ladies of the Press*, Tomoko Aoki and the team at Quare who will host tonight's event at 21 Folgate Street E1 6BX. All are very welcome to the live performances, art raffle of donated works from artist's from around the world - including a specially designed Bigger Stronger I have created for the event - and much much more that is scheduled between the project space at Quare and The Water Poet pub a few doors down - scroll down for more details - hope to see you all after work!

Press Release

Come, enjoy and celebrate all things Japanese and not-so-Japanese alike! In order to lend a small hand to those who have been affected by the 11 March earthquake in Japan, The Ladies of the Press* (Ana Čavić & Renée O’Drobinak), Tomoko Aoki and Jonathan Velardi, along with a number of Guest Artitsts (final list TBC) will be hosting a hands-on charity arts night packed with an art raffle, a live press desk making and printing zines on site, some baked goodness and a lot of red balloons! Artists, onlookers and friends will all be invited to join in, and even contribute some impromptu artwork. This is a long weekend event, with more events happening on Sunday 3 April – so if not Thursday night, why not pop by on your way to Spitalfields Market?

This show is inspired by one woman’s battle:In southern Miyagi prefecture, near the border to Fukushima, Renée O’Drobinak’s grandmother survived the earthquake and tsunami, with her house miraculously intact despite half the village being destroyed. While providing a temporary shelter for other family members, she has been hanging in there with no water, electricity, gas, and a very limited supply of food, though, the few times worried phonecalls from family in Tokyo reached her, she had wryly mentioned that her nose was a bit sniffly.

All proceeds will be donated to the Japan relief effort via the British Red Cross.

For those of you who cannot attend but would like to join in spirit, please do post a small piece of 2D work to the above address (3D works welcome if you can post/bring it over!) or pop the Ladies of the Press* an email with a submission for the zine at info@ladiesofthepress.org


Modern Primitives

Unlike the appalling demonstrations that hit London's finest retailers this past weekend, including British institution Fortnum & Mason - their one hundred and fifty year old flagship store on Piccadilly was defaced and occupied by extremist protestors during the Trades Union Congress march all in the name of "freedom of speech" apparently - across the pond, New Yorkers were admiring (as opposed to their assaulting colonisers in arms) the window displays on Fifth Avenue.
Italian luxury goods house, Fendi transformed their window display into a live performance of art and design in collaboration between architects Aranda/Lasch and Fendi's very own leather craftsmen, Ester di Sarno. The luxurious production line of work tables, coloured leather swatches and specialist tools led to diamond-shaped sculptures that were leather-clad and pieced together by the architectural duo and displayed for all to see at the flagship premises. The atelier-cum-gallery offered an insight of the craft of luxury with the high culture of live performance for the passersby.
The project, titled Modern Primitives ironically could have described what was going on across the Atlantic.
Ester di Sarno
Images courtesy of Fendi


Herbie Fully Tagged

Paris-based Galerie Le Feuvre adds urban luxury around its rue du Faubourg Saint-Honoré address - French graffiti artist MIST has teamed up with Volkswagen on its new Beetle model. Check out MIST's trademark accents and take on the new generation Beetle that has been fondly known as the 'bug' since its birth in1938 with studio scenes and on-road street art in motion with the release of a teaser below...


Spectrum For Spring

To mark the First Day of Spring here are two colourful exhibitions that will get you in the spirit for longer light and warmer nights:
On show at one of my favourite museums in the world and my very first pit-stop whenever I'm in New York, is Color Moves, a retrospective of Russian-French artist Sonia Delaunay at the Cooper-Hewitt. Delaunay's work spanned various mediums with her specific use of colour linking them together to form a body of geometric abstraction. Recognised by placing contrasting colours together to create fluid forms, Delaunay applied her colour theories to all creative realms, including interior design, film, theatre and fashion. I have been inspired by her graphic works onto textiles for my own practice - bold blocks or strokes of colour form stimulating patterns in an abstract, yet simple construction. The exhibition is a must-see for anyone who is in New York and interested in the origins of commercial design - rare works will be on display with some of Delaunay's trademark designs on show from the 1920s and 1930s. Color Moves is currently show at the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum up to 5th June 2011.
Keeping on the topic of design, for those of you who are in Madrid, check out Espacio Brut, a fantastic interior design studio that creates in-house furniture with a touch of retro nostalgia. This year, Espacio Brut have launched a space to showcase contemporary art and my good friend from my Chicago days, Ignacio Chavarri, inaugurated the studio's new direction with a solo show, Celebration!. It has been great to see Ignacio's work grow from the silk screen studios at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago that we both took over with our European charm offensive many years ago to what is now, a refined and colourful use of print and installation. The mixed-media exhibition is up until 10th April 2011 - for more information about the exhibition and more photos of the work on display visit ichavarri.blogspot.com


Happy St. Patrick's Day

Pádraigs... Paddys... and Pantone 354 C

Happy St. Patrick's Day everyone!



David Hockney, iPhone Drawing 2009
It was only a matter of time for the artist's canvas to turn into the artist's screen and if it's good enough for David Hockney then that's enough to get everyone's attention to this new medium. While Hockney dabbled in the digital colour palette with his fingers on the first generation iPhone, the recent release of the Nomad Brush provides the artist with an extremely responsive handcrafted stylus - made from a blend of natural and conductive fibres, the soft and flexible bristles glide across touch screen devices effortlessly. With not a scent of solvent or stain of paint anywhere to be had - a luxury in itself - the Nomad Brush is a stroke of genius for the next generation of on-the-go media artists who upload onto the gallery spaces of the world wide web.


Sights & Sounds Of Sheffield

If there was one word to characterise the South Yorkshire city of Sheffield, it would have to be regeneration. Born from it's industrial roots of steel production during the nineteenth-century, it is the twenty-first century that reflects the area's bygone industry through a series of municipal projects that have welcomed contemporary architecture and redevelopment around the city centre. The Heart of the City Project that includes the Millennium Galleries and Winter Gardens is only one example of the aesthetic restructuring that has taken place which has subsequently attracted a vibrant artist community and the second largest in the UK outside of London.
Art Sheffield's gallery guide is a great resource to explore both independent and institutional spaces as well as circumnavigating Sheffield's central attractions by foot. South East of the city centre lies the old factories and warehouse which have since been transformed into art and design centres or artist studios such as at Bloc Space, which houses Bloc Projects on Eyre Lane. Find international contemporary art at Site Gallery on Brown Street and graphic styles at printing studio-cum-gallery The Archipelago Works on Sidney Street.
North of the centre resides the newly located S1 Artspace which celebrates fifteen years as an artist led space in the North of England. As well as offering artist studio spaces, S1 offers a varied programme of residencies, talks and workshops which will no doubt thrive even greater than before at their Trafalgar Court premises.
Currently on show is, People and Events will be the Decoration, by installation artist Eva Berendes. Painting and sculpture possessed a craft-like quality that eluded to a theatrical stage set.
Installed within the gallery's industrial space with high ceiling and mezzanine floor, the works successfully created drama in contrast to their minimal production. Plinths and screens played on themes of display and superficiality, in the foreground of the large silk backdrop that embodied the decorative narrative of the exhibition.
Follow Wellington Street towards the impressive Town Hall dating back to 1897 and built from the dark and earthy tones of Derbyshire 'Stoke stone' that is synonymous with the Yorkshire landscape. Make your way through the equally impressive Winter Garden that opened in 2003 - linking Millennium Square to Sheffield's theatre district, including the Crucible Theatre (which also plays home to the World Snooker Championship - amongst the exotic plants and trees that span the seventy-metre-long walkway, lies the Millennium Gallery.
With neighbouring Graves Gallery, these are the most traditional offerings on the route, hosting national touring exhibitions and fine art collections. Czech artist, Kateřina Šedá is exhibiting her Líšeň Profile, a commission by Museums Sheffield, which incorporates five-hundred drawings on paper by Czech individuals that reflect the physical profile with topological portraiture from her home town of Líšeň.
Community, memory and collective identity were themes expressed in this uniquely installed show and the idea of community was one I also took back with me of the city of Sheffield. There is a strong sense of the artist community from warehouse to project space that felt free from commercial pressure and therefore high in creative freedom. While street art has manifested itself as a result of abandoned buildings, it was refreshing to hear and even meet people who walk around the city spotting new works - with the addition of my own work now on the streets, I hope with future planned regeneration, Sheffield will continue to provide platforms for the creative community across its urban landscape.


Bloc Projects: Bigger Better

I woke up this morning hoping yesterday's devastating events in Japan were just a dream. I am so grateful that all my friends are safe, even though the country continues to be on alert and the relentless struggle to rebuild what is a beautiful and fascinating country has only just begun. Having only just visited Japan at the beginning of the year, my prayers go out to everyone who has been affected by the disaster. Yesterday the world didn't feel so big anymore, a tremor in one corner of the globe simultaneously effecting the other. My dear friend Misato @mtomatot from Tokyo poignantly described how our life is so fragile and we do not know what will happen from one moment to the next. We are all with you Japan, every moment of the way.

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This week saw the launch of Bloc Project's new Bloc Billboards programme in Sheffield. Nicola McCartney and myself were commissioned by the contemporary project space under the working moniker, McCartneyVelardi to create independent works around a collaborative context for their two billboards situated in the arts quarter of the city.
Bigger Better is a work I have exhibited in animation form before, but my intentions have always been for the work to be installed within the public realm and I am thrilled my reworked design - spanning 174 x 504cm - has been given the opportunity to do so. A big thank you to Becky and Lesley from Bloc who installed the works - it was a great weekend and I will be reporting on the sights and sounds of Sheffield in my next post.
Visit Bloc Projects for more information about the project and our collaborative process behind the works which will be exhibited until June 2011. For further details about my own public art practice visit jonathanvelardi.com or get in touch at info@studiovelardi.com
Bloc Billboards: McCartneyVelardi

Bloc Projects
71 Eyre Lane
S1 4RB


The Luxury Channel: Art In The City

I am very excited to say that I have contributed to this month's Luxury Channel Magazine for their New York Issue. You can read my article Art in the City here - highlights from the article for the rest of March include the exhibition, Mental States, by American painter George Condo at New Museum as well as the Public Art Fund's launch of their Spring 2011 programme. While the much anticipated commission, The Andy Monument, which will be installed in Union Square by New York-based artist Rob Pruitt, is not due until the end of the month, Empire, by London-based artist (and ex-Slade tutor) Eva Rothschild opened during Armory Week last week at the entry point of Doric C. Freedman Plaza in Central Park.
The twenty-foot high steel sculpture imitates like a portal into the park - decorated with varying densities of red, green and black stripes. While the crawling arches act as a contemporary intervention amongst the dense trees that line the parameter of the park, it also illustrates the awareness between natural and urban space and the perception of the Central Park within the built-up concrete landscape of Manhattan.

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With The Plaza just around the corner, what better way to view high art than from this luxurious New York institution?Follow The Luxury Channel Magazine for more in the best of art, culture and travel from around the globe!

George Condo: Mental States
Until 5th August 2011
New Museum
235 Bowery
New York City 10002

Eva Rothschild: Empire
Until 28th August 2011
Doris C. Freedman Plaza
Central Park, New York City

Best Of Last Week: Stars & Stripes

What a week people! I am fresh from my return from Sheffield and my billboard commission, but before I get into that, last week's adventures are just too good not to post. I finally managed to see Richard Phillips' exhibition, Most Wanted, at White Cube Hoxton Square before it closed over the weekend. When the show launched at the beginning of the year I knew I would be interested in how Phillips explores society's obsession with celebrity, and how themes of identity, politics and sexuality reflect in the superficiality of his subject matter - in this case, ten of America's most recognisable stars.
The exhibition's title embodies the power and mechanics of 'young Hollywood', both through choice of star - Kristen Stewart and Robert Pattinson are one the money from Twilight mania - and in sheer gallery presence. The series of portraits in oil-paint overwhelm the viewer in scale and style. Luminous and shrine-esque, his subject's embody perfection - the artist specifically capturing the "rehearsed, red-carpet expressions" that are outlined with a neon glow of which the work of Richard Bernstein is referenced. While the portraits and their original pastel drawings, that are also exhibited on the first floor, create impact and seduction with notions of "the face of our future" (aside from the bizarre inclusion of practically veteran-teen idols, Timberlake and DiCaprio, who must have had teenybopper Twilighters asking, "who's that?"). It was however the 'step and repeat' that featured in the space's adjacent walls that I was most drawn to.
The logos of luxury brands and charities that suspend on red carpets are a curious familiar and an incredibly powerful marketing tool when celebrity images are reproduced over and over again. Phillips magnifies the use of branding in relation to the celebrity machine by bringing the format into a gallery context, itself a portrait, that is also highlighted in the background of the paintings. While it allowed visitors to White Cube to indulge in their very own red-carpet fantasy, the themes of Most Wanted were also applicable to the gallery it was housed in. Recognised for representing art stars of its own, Phillips paid tribute to White Cube's status within the art world with it's very own step and repeat. Strike a pose Mr Jopling.
First Thursday's also brought me to Whitechapel Gallery where exhibitions on John Stezaker (a must-see before 18th March) and Claire Barclay are on display. It was Richard Wentworth's year-long commission, A Confiscation of String, that triggered my own obsessiveness in the same way I get with foreign stationary.
While Wentworth continues to collect string of all shapes and sizes, the installation involves orange string that is looped up and down on the walls all held together with nails to form a wonderful interior intervention of sculptural stripes. The photos speak for themselves - this is knot to be missed!


Bloc Billboards: McCartneyVelardi

This weekend I'll be hitting the South Yorkshire metropolis of Sheffield with my talented sidekick Nicola McCartney to undertake a public art commission by contemporary project space, Bloc Projects. Nicola and I were awarded the commission of a billboard installation towards the end of last year and we are both very excited to be working under the working moniker, McCartneyVelardi, for Bloc's 2011 programme. We will be going up to Sheffield to document the two billboards of our respective works over the weekend - check out our dedicated page at Bloc Projects for more information about the commission and our collaborative process behind the works.
Visit jonathanvelardi.blogspot.com for more news and images from Bloc and if you want to keep it live, I am now officially tweeting! Follow me at twitter.com/JMVELARDI for updates on the M1, Sheffield's art scene and billboard domination. Have a great weekend everyone!

Bloc Billboards: McCartneyVelardi
Bloc Projects
71 Eyre Lane
S1 4RB