Posts Tagged ‘contemporary’

BOOKlet Meets: Barbara Nati

In art|BOOK on December 28, 2009 at 10:28 pm

Italian visual artist Barbara Nati uses an extensive range of photographs, transforming them into symbols of social and environmental issues.

Nati has studied everywhere from Perugia to New York, taking inspiration from photo-realist painter Anthony Brunelli and using her advertising background as a driving influence for her work.

Following Mists of Avalon and Long Time No Sea, Nati’s upcoming exhibition, One Man Show, starts January 24 in Mezzanotte di Pergola.

When BOOKlet met Barbara Nati, we discovered her influences, experiences and her focus.

What inspired you to become an artist?
I have been drawing since I was five. I remember being the first kid in my class who understood that the side view of a dog has just two legs because the other two are hidden. When I was a teenager, I used to go dancing and afterwards I would visit monuments and churches to draw them. Then I got my first analogic camera and suddenly fell in love.

What makes your work unique?
I’m not that sure it is – that’s why I’m thinking of moving my art towards a third dimension. My pictures will be produced on layers at different depths. I will be collaborating with a very wise and skilled American artist.

What issues do your works focus on?
I don’t have a narrow focus, but I have realised that most of my recent series revolves around my concern about the environment we are living in.

From early 2009, I have been focusing on Long Time No Sea – a study on a possible world without the sea. This series was inspired by the earthquake that hit central Italy last April. I wanted the audience to witness an infinity of uniform and hyper-detailed mutations that quake their boredom.

My next subject will be the snow, which will take on a more silent approach. It will show the darker side of a soft blanket.

What do you want your photographs to tell people?
My artwork is more of a manipulation. I want my settings to invite the viewer to look again at the things he takes for granted and to pulverize the naïve trust in what we consider to be real.

What is your favourite creation?
I tend to support losers.  As a matter of fact, I started to support my football team when it was in dire straits. I’ve always been a fan of Donald Duck as well. I apply the same sympathy to those works I created that never met the appreciation other works did.

Who is your favourite artist?
Claes Oldenburg is my favourite sculptor. I travel to ugly towns in Europe just to see his works. Wayne Thiebaud is my favourite painter, as I have an insane attraction towards artists who paint food. Erwin Olaf is my favourite photographer.

What makes a good artist?
His power of shaping a thick message into a fresh and never-seen-before kind of expression.

What do you think of UK art?
I think Great Britain has got the perfect foundation for an artist to pursue his career. People like to invest in contemporary art.  Not to mention Charles Saatchi who is the kind of person every country would like to have. However, it can have a lack of audacity that leads many British galleries to act ‘safe’.

How has your advertising background influenced your works?

I don’t see a big gap between art and creative advertising.  The more a work is creative, the more it is commercial. Advertising campaigns must be communicative and innovative to reach their goal. The same goes for art.

What did you learn From Anthony Brunelli?

I learned not to rush in order to have the best result with art production.

Tell me more about your work that will be in your new show in January.

It will take place in an unusual space – a hut among a rural area in Italy. I was immediately enthusiastic about the idea of an uncommon show curated by the young and smart Daniele DeAngelis. There will be a dozen works, mostly from my last series of castles built with industrial elements. It’s a focus on the present age, which has been depicted as an upsetting transition period, that hasn’t succeeded in synthesizing the symbol of its civilization yet.  My only concern will be the chance of snow that might force us to postpone the private view. That’s the dark side of independent new realities!

To See Works by Barbara Nati:

Oreet Ashery: Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories

In art|BOOK on December 20, 2009 at 5:56 pm

From January 2010, London’s Artangel will be showing a new interaction project.  The exhibition titled, “Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories” was created by Oreet Ashery and 12 lesbian asylum seekers who escaped countries such as Nigeria and Barbados due to discrimination against their sexual identities.

Within the project, a character takes her life stories and turns them into ideas such as rooms of a house, a dream and a gun that transforms into a camera. These forms of presentation were inspired by Ashery’s collection of discussions, doodles and interviews taken from emotional workshops with the other 12 women involved in Staying: Dream, Bin, Soft Stud and Other Stories.

Ashery’s contribution to Artangel was built upon complex work with the asylum seekers, focusing on the long procedures which requires gay asylum seekers to prove their sexual orientation and lifestyle.  As a result of studying these processes, Ashery created fictional characters that became symbols of the women involved. For example, the rooms of House represent diffferent aspects of a participant’s life effectively working as a theatrical self-portrait.  Bin also symbolises social structure and soft studs are used to play on the idea of a ‘butch’ woman.

The exhibition will be showing at Artangel from 20 January 2010 and you can learn more about the project itself at

The Hoerengracht: National Gallery

In art|BOOK on November 18, 2009 at 4:35 pm

Ed and Nancy Kienholz’s installation, The Hoerengracht, brings Amsterdam’s Red Light District to Sunley Room at London’s National Gallery.

The installation represents the district’s notorious “whore’s canal” and is not a particularly attractive sight.  Dutch alleyways are filled with plain-faced female life-size figures posing in  Brothel windows.

Taking 5 years to complete, The Hoerengracht is a dark and compelling piece that reveals the realities of prostitution as it was in the 1980’s. Nancy Kienholz described the work as a catalyst which “opened up discussion” about the issue of selling sex in the Western World.  She claims that, “it’s certainly something that is there in every major city in the western world,” and that, “any taxi driver in any city can tell you where it is.”

It is very rare for the National Gallery to display such a contemporary installation.  However, the curator Colin Wiggins describes the method in this madness.  The Hoerengracht can cast a significant light on the other works present at London’s prestigous gallery.  Many of the works displayed (dated from the 17th century) reflect on prostitution, but most of them look “safe and pretty”.  Godfried Schiecken’s A Man Offering Gold shows a woman sitting on a bed while being given money by a man as Cupid overlooks them.  The purpose of The Hoerengracht is to force upon the spectator a three dimensional representation of the 1980’s Red Light District, provocative and dominated by the sex industry.

The Hoerengracht installation can be  seen from 18 Nov 2009 – 21 Feb 2010 at the Sunley Room, National Gallery.

For more information:

Turner Prize Entry: Enrico David

In art|BOOK on November 12, 2009 at 3:35 pm


By Catherine McGuire

David is a contemporary surrealist who creates rich and profoundly original painting, drawing and sculpture. Enrico David has been nominated for his solo exhibitions How Do You Love Dzzzzt By Mammy? at the Museum für Gegenwartskunst, Basel, and Bulbous Marauder at the Seattle Art Museum. However these are just facts. In order to understand Enrico’s work, you must experience it.

Let me paint you a picture in words. Imagine a featureless white rectangular room; insert a black oblong stage, half a metre high, stretching from one corner to the other. The stage is set for a piecemeal of images. On the right there is a huge painting on canvas, a head in the middle occupied with pornographic thoughts, failing to be released through the tiny slit that forms its mouth. All that comes out is the insidious painting to its left, a figure in the shadows banging a drum in flurry of hands, resembling Günter Grasses Tin Drum.

A rectangular box stands close by with the picture of disturbing disfigured dolls arranged in all shapes and sizes, peering down a trap door at the paper cut out of a man in the foetal position, dressed as a baby. Stage left a human sized canvas ellipses the side, portraying a deranged red head holding onto a pole, accompanied by a man in a turban in a pot on its right (which looks remarkably like Noel Fielding in The Mighty Boosh). Centre stage lays the deformed black body of a faceless man, is you can call it a man, lying disfigured across the stage, connecting these installations with this stretched arms and legs.

‘This must be the work of a mad man,’ are the first thoughts that flash through my head, disconcerted by the dark figures, the disembodied shapes and most of all the artist rendition of himself in the form of the two deformed manikins, that resemble neither man nor animal, one positioned in the audience and the other staring out from the stage.

Yet the more I regarded Enrico’s work the more I became fascinated with the psychological meaning behind each carefully positioned composition. The theatre became a challenge of comprehension. What is it the artist wants me to see?

Through out Enrico’s work there is a presiding theme concerning the body. The human form is rarely presented as a unified whole. Instead it is fragmented, deformed, creating a sense of physical and emotional crisis proliferating, which contributes to the uneasy exchange between the viewer and art work. Enrico is confronting the viewer with images that the on lookers may not want to confront themselves, such as the fear of ‘disfigurement’, not socially fitting in to the common ‘norm,’ and in the process being found out.

Enrico David has said that his art works purpose is ‘To organise and give structure to the often chaotic nature of (his)emotional response to reality.’ This theatre of the mind is like a foreign language one tries to decipher, but can not fully comprehend. The artist represents his own incomprehension with his presence as manikin, with in and with out this production. There are no translators. One is lead to theorise, with out ant ‘true’ answer at the end, and this is the fun of Enrico’s work.

This is definitely a must see, and more importantly, a must experience. I will leave it up to you to go and experience the Turner Prize and formulate your own thoughts on this artist in particular, as words are not enough.