Sunday, March 29, 2009

Heaven in Rioja

I finally made it to the sauna with my friend Mirjam today after a month of failed attempts. There are somethings that I have to force myself to make time for, and they always seem to be the activities that are best for me and my well being. So, there I was relaxing next to the pool between steams looking at the new German Elle Decor and boom! I have found my next vacation destination and it is an aesthetes dream. Casa Josephine, Josephine, Josephine! A 19th century manor house set within the La Rioja region in Spain, famous for its quaint Medieval towns and glorious wine making tradition, this guest house for 12 is a pure expression of love for design. There is absolutely nothing lacking in its location either. Surrounding the small village of Sorzano, an over abundance of activities are within a short distance, if you can pull yourself away from the Casa. Architecture and Wine seem to be the indulgences of the area featuring modern buildings from the likes of Santiago Calatrava, Frank Gehry and Zaha Hadid including a very large array of monasteries, cathedrals and villas surrounded by miles of vineyard. The nearest airport is Bilbao, leaving you the perfect opportunity to check out the Guggenheim there before setting off to Casa Josephine and the sights that await you. 


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Try the Train

I discovered a fantastic website today for Vintage photography called and felt compelled to share one photo which really struck me. This image is called "Toward Los Angeles" and was taken by Dorothea Lange in March of 1937. If you have a moment, pop over to Shorpy's, it's a gem.

Contemporary Art & Ethnology

Haunch of Venison gallery seems to be bravely weathering the economic storm with their recent opening at the former Museum of Mankind in Burlington Gardens, London. The newly renovated space had not seen daylight since it housed the British Museums ethnographical collection from 1970 -1997. Considered to be one of the most ambitious shows undertaken by a private gallery in London this season, Mythologies features 40 artists work both known and unknown. The show aims to acknowledge the 21,000 sqft buildings history by recreating a Cabinet of Curiosities effect, showcasing works that focus upon themes surrounding nature and ethnographic representation. Fortunately, it is not the powerhouse artists that are receiving the acclaim this time. Michael Glover at the Independent offers some interesting insights with regards to the shows curatorial approach and it's artists. This is only the first installment of a broader series of exhibitions from Haunch of Venison in Burlinton Gardens.  

View of Exhibition - Photo: Peter Mallet

(Forground) 'Siblings' by Jochem Hendricks , 2008 (Background) 'Totems' by Rachel Howard, 2008 - Photo: Peter Mallet

'Animatus Series' by Lee Hyungkoo, 2006-2007 - Photo: Peter Mallet

'Aladdin' by Stuart Haygarth, 2006 

'The opposite of all those things' by Ivan and Heather Morison, 2008 - Photo: Peter Mallet

Photos courtesy of Design Boom

Monday, March 23, 2009

Do do List - Exhibitions

I can't explain it, but every time I see a confessional, I think of Tracey. Her autobiographical style and fearlessness is something I have always admired. This show is a must see for me this season. For more information on this vivacious show, check out the Kunstmuseum Bern website.

     Photo courtesy of a arte Studio Invernizzi Gallery, Milan

Francois Morellet's work is a fabulous representation of Concrete art. Born in 1926 in Cholet, France, he started out as a figurative painter until he turned to abstraction in the 50's. For Morellet, a work of art refers only to itself. His geometric forms which are usually perceived as emotionally neutral have linked him closely with Minimal and Conceptual art. An exhibition of his most recent works designed specifically for the newly renovated space at a arte Studio Invernizzi in Milan will be on view from the 19th of March - 8th of May. Not sure if I will get to Milan to see it, but I would highly recommend this show to anyone that can!

Pièce Détachée, 2009, metal, magnets, size variable
Photo courtesy of  Xavier Hufkens

This new piece by Belgian born artist Michel Francois provides just the kind of fascination I am longing for in an exihibition. This particular piece above 'is a living, ephemeral network of magnetic spheres linked to metal rods that freely deploy themselves in the room by way of a random rhizomic profusion. Its precarious balance is maintained by the electromagnetic force between the elements.' I am interested in the hidden performative aspects of Francois' work & how the spectator might interact with such an exclusive space. This show only runs through the 4th of April at Xavier Hufkens in Brussels. 

Show me the way to Middelberg! I am embarrassed to admit that it took Henrik Vibskov and Andreas Emineus for me to discover the Zeeuws Museum. The collaboration between Danish fashion & graphic designer duo entitled The Fringe Projects is shaping up to be the next Cremaster Cycle, with a whopping 10 parts. Nine have already been completed and exhibited world wide. The tenth project will be realized at the Zeeuws Museum and presented along side the other 9 which have taken years to develop. The artists have been granted permission to use the entire museum as their stomping ground in order that they might test the boundaries of the museum and its collections. The Fringe Projects, comprised of video, installation, performance, magazines, and fashion design will run through the 7th of June.  

Magic Lantern, 1987
Audio Visual Installation

And last but not least, the one that got away. The paranormal, the occult, voices of the dead, photographing auras, telekinesis, digital media & the human condition. What doesn't Susan Hiller delve into? This image above is of one of Hiller's most seminal works. Originally commissioned for the Whitechapel Gallery, it consists of a triple slide projection of three disks of colored light - red, yellow and blue, which at times overlap or stand alone. The Magic Lantern is an investigation into color, our decent into modern media & the boundaries between scientific enquiry and the spiritual. Only two of her pieces are on display at the Swedish Contemporary Art Foundation in Stockholm till the 29th of March.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Road Trip - Maastricht Part 1

Due to computer issues I haven’t been able to post about this amazing trip I took with my friend David a.k.a. (Mr. Boyd) last week. I attempted to put together a few ‘loose’ city guides for Maastricht and Antwerp and experienced some rather hilarious difficulties in the process. We arrived in Maastricht on a Friday afternoon & quickly realized that Carnival was in full swing. The Museum we attempted to visit was closed, and so were all the Galleries. However, some things did turn out swimmingly & we ended up seeing a side of the city we had yet to experience in all our years of short visits.

I had booked an apartment for us a few hours before we left, which I thought would be tiny because it cost a mere 56 Euro for the both of us. Boy was I wrong! After hiking up 6 flights of stairs, we discovered a 2 bedroom, 2 bath maisonette apartment with contemporary furnishings and a huge kitchen and living room. The apartment belongs to the St. Martenslane Hotel, just around the corner. I’ll just say that we could have stayed on no problem!  

Maastricht's origins date back to the roman empire, so its churches illustrate the development of religious architecture over the last 1000 years. The image above is of one of the many impressive altars that can be found in the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk. I have a great affinity for churches and cathedrals, especially the Dutch style. The paintings on view at the Onze Lieve Vrouwekerk were hung beautifully and really enhanced my appreciation for Dutch painting, but it was the lighting conditions in the church itself that blew me away. The Dutch are famous for scenography and this was reflected everywhere throughout our stay. As you can see in the photos, Maastricht is not the sunniest place in Europe, so it helps that the Dutch are masters in the treatment of light and color. They have a way of turning somber darkness into a magnificent, color saturated dream.   

I stumbled upon this great little design shop called Conflict and had a lovely conversation with a few of their staff members. I can't wait to get back there and purchase the wine rack in the first photo, it would look so good in our apartment! Sadly, I can't remember who its by. Artecnica and Droog Design were the most prominent features in the shop, as well as the obvious emphasis on Dutch designers.  

Stay tuned for Maasricht Part 2!