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James Loks

20151020183125-12107681_981687468557325_1359820358_n Can an Art Fair Actually Transform a City? In Paris, Yes   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/20/15

It’s kind of an obvious thing to say that Paris is different from London and New York, and no doubt many other cities that I haven’t had the opportunity to visit or live in, but still it is. Specifically this is in the sense that it isn’t—no matter what any Parisien will tell you—a huge, teaming, hyper-megapolis. It’s actually a small and crowded city of only two million inhabitants (yes, in cultural terms the banlieue is only beginning to maybe exist [see &ldquo... [more]

20151016194658-desade_are_the_seventh_labour_of_hercules_etching Trends at Moniker and The Other Art Fair: Ink and Etching   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/16/15

Producing a trend report for The Other Art Fair and Moniker is an almost impossible task given the diversity of the work on display, which is another way to say that there is a really mixed bag in terms of both quality and aspiration. It might indeed be the best place to pick up some really good quality pictures for relatively little money, but I’ll spill the naked truth and admit that if you’re hoping to find the next big thing and make a million bucks, that isn’t going to hap... [more]

20151017201717-lea_sculpts_-056 Trends at Sunday Art Fair: Everyday Objects   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/16/15

I feel a little sorry for the Sunday Art Fair. As the fair for emerging art it should really be the offshoot of Frieze that shows the cutting-edge work, the small galleries, the artist run spaces, and so on. Instead it can unfortunately feel like forgotten backwater of the whole event, stuck as it is just a little bit too far location-wise, just a bit too hidden in the basement of Westminster University, and not as big and buzzing as it could be. Which isn’t to say that you can’t see go... [more]

20151016185401-smukherjee-untitled_pinwheel__detail_5 Looking for the Future at Frieze London   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/16/15

Looking around an art fair with a fixed criteria is an amazing thing. I’d recommend it to any visitor as a tool to cut through the vast amount of work that will pass in front of their eyes. It doesn’t have to be fancy or intelligent. It can be as simple as “I’m only looking for blue,” or “ceramics,” or “a piece of work that I would hang above the fireplace.” In all instances it forms connections between works that wouldn’t otherwise be... [more]

20151016191005-jean-claude_moschetti__zangb_to 1:54 Trend Report: Found Objects and Photography   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/16/15

I had a sense of unease as I approached the 1:54 fair. Maïmouna Guerresi, Genitilla Al wilada, 2007. © Mariane Ibrahim As I parked my bicycle all sorts of uncomfortable ideas were floating through my head about what I could and couldn’t say about African art, not least of which being the perception, dealt with by the fair’s title, that Africa is this big single thing, and not the 54 independent nations of which it’s comprised. Wallen Mapondera, Echoes So,... [more]

20150922161825-98712344_brian_sewe_414497c Brian Sewell: The Art of Pissing People Off, and Not Giving a Damn   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 9/22/15

Words like controversial and outspoken are the first ones you meet in conjunction with Brian Sewell. Dig a little deeper and you come across other words, words like scurrilous, bitchy, contemptuous, acerbic, disdainful, and just plain rude. For those who don’t know, he was also perhaps Britain’s most popular art critic, and he passed away last week, aged 84. I disliked Sewell’s writing for a number of reasons, that represent everything I dislike about art critics in general: he was... [more]

20150907213706-christto_and_andrew__mimemtic_gestures_ii What Is Photography in 2015? Boundless and Confident   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 9/7/15

“I don’t know what truth is. Truth is something unattainable. We can’t think we’re creating truth with a camera. But what we can do, is reveal something to the viewer that allows them to discover their own truth.” —Marcel Brault It’s a pretty grand quote with which to start an article, I know. Its relevance will become clear. In Issue 2 of Unseen magazine (the magazine that accompanies the upcoming Unseen Photo Fair in Amsterdam, September 18&ndas... [more]

20150721043737-theo150001_2 Boys Against Girls   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Lucy Beech, Elaine Cameron-Weir, Am Nuden Da, George Henry Longly, Beatriz Olabarrieta, Ben Schumacher, Richard Sides, Cally Spooner, Alice Theobald, Edward Thomasson, Jesper List Thomsen at Lisson Gallery July 17th - September 5th
Posted 7/21/15

If you look out the window these days you can’t help but see boys, girls, and the political all manifest on the pavement, floating large as a topic within our cultural exchange: girls walking as boys, boys becoming girls, girls still so horribly un-/mis-represented in Hollywood that Jennifer Lawrence comes across as a goddess for acting like a normal human being. Etc. Besides asking if Caitlyn Jenner’s transformation isn’t the final act of masculine hegemony—something alon... [more]

20150706134403-carsten_h_ller__pill_clock_2011__2015___carsten_h_ller Carsten Höller: Like a Fun Fair, Without the Fun   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Carsten Höller at Hayward Gallery June 10th - September 6th
Posted 7/6/15

“Like a fun fair, but without the fun” was the quote from one of my companions at the Carsten Höller exhibition at the Hayward Gallery, London. And it’s a fair enough point: the slide is a bit wobbly and not very fast. The upside down goggles didn’t fit me properly and so primarily showed a slice of uncharacteristically blue London sky, that no matter how many times I reminded myself to look up to look down, it still didn’t fully challenge normative expectations of my vi... [more]

20150704214159-matthew_barney__the_entered_apprentice__still__creemaster_3 Art Is Good, in Theory   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 7/4/15

Do we make the assumption that art is good for us? If so, on what evidence do we base that assumption? There are intelligent voices ready to tell us that it is.[1] But really if you want to see the value of the arts, and its contestation, all you need do is look at the struggle that is currently taking place in the UK to maintain arts funding in the face of a neo-liberal austerity drive. A discourse that is strictly along the lines of: “Yeah I know but, like, in the end what is it reall... [more]

20150421083051-1321627126_top-intro Brand as Museum: Patronizing or Patronage?   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 4/20/15

The title of this piece made me wonder why the art world so much enjoys the conjunction "as." It seems a funny construct, one thing as another thing. It contains within it both the idea of transformation, and also deception, and fails to decide or state which side of the fence the utterance wants to come down on. There’s also a strange utility within the phrase, the using of one thing as another as though there were a lack or necessity for makeshift solutions. "When you think about it, department stores are kind of like museums." ... [more]

20141121125017-p78372_10 Why I think Jonathan Jones' Art Criticism is Tyrannical   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 11/21/14

Jonathan Jones writes an art blog for the Guardian newspaper. I read his column with the same morbid fascination I used to reserve for those times when I’d come across a piece by Julie Burchill. Which is to say I begin with the nascent thrill of knowing my pique is going to be stimulated, followed by a good bit of private outrage, and finally a satisfying wallow in indignation. None of these are particularly attractive human characteristics; they are, however, pleasurable and best practiced either... [more]

20141119141035-numen__1_ Is Immersive Art Too Easy? On "Getting It" and Having Fun   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 11/19/14

I was in a conversation with the curator Lucia Schreyer the other day. We were discussing the latest exhibition at Palais de Tokyo; we have differing opinions about it. I enjoyed the show very much. Once again it seemed as though the PdT had curated an exciting, interactive exhibition, fully using the space they have available and successfully iterating the concept of "Inside." Lucia didn’t like it so much. Her complaint was that it is too spectacular, like "a Luna Parc" for adults, and to b... [more]

20141114203355-pierre_cardin_5 Pierre Cardin Museum Opens in Paris: A First Look   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 11/14/14

You know, call me a sucker, and tell me that I should be over these kinds of petit exercises in social one-upmanship, but I do still get a little frisson of excitement when I’m rolling around Paris with an "exclusive" invitation in my pocket. It's one of the perks of the dirty job of criticism/journalism/whatever it is you want to call what I do. The folly of such an attitude was aptly displayed last night when, after a day of only mild bragging, I arrived at the "cocktail" for the opening... [more]

20141023122002-patti_smith_performing_in_finland__2007 Why Patti Loves Paris and Paris Loves Patti   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Posted 10/23/14

Patti loves Paris and Paris loves Patti, and the question that I’d ask is why? Now right at the beginning, up front, I need to make a few things clear. First, let me state that this relates to our FIAC coverage because Patti is performing at the most sought after, and possibly the only gig to feature as part of the FIAC programme. It's a reunion with John Cale, on Thursday night, at Fondation Cartier. Since this hardly seems sufficient to qualify my bold assertion I’ll also add th... [more]

20141023110153-tree What Does Paris' Deflated Butt Plug Say About Art?   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
at FIAC October 23rd, 2014 - October 26th, 2014
Posted 10/23/14

Is it possible that there is someone out there, in the admittedly rather narrow demographic of folk who read this and other art related material, who hasn’t heard of Paul McCarthy’s forceful insertion of a thirty foot high inflatable replica Butt Plug into one of Paris’ most desirable addresses? And yes, in case you were wondering, there is a fair chance that this puerile level of double entendre will continue throughout. If nothing else it gives me, the humble writer, a chance... [more]

20140921181645-98874124_o Niki de Saint Phalle: Are her Nanas Too Sexy?   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Niki de Saint Phalle at Grand Palais September 17th, 2014 - February 2nd
Posted 9/21/14

It really is a crying shame that Niki de Saint Phalle wasn’t crooked of back, thick of brow, dull eyed with pustulant skin, lank hair, an uneven gait, and a voice that sounded like a hoarse crow hacking its lungs up. At a push I’d even settle for poor and dull witted, but she wasn’t; she was pretty and rich and aristocratic. Now, there is nothing wrong with this—she wasn’t the first and she won’t be the last artist to come from this milieu—but there is a... [more]

20140828081538-photo_2_-_1986-paris_4199 Simple Pleasures   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Daniel Buren at Palais Royal August 1st, 1986 - December 31st, 2024
Posted 8/28/14

Given that we are in the zombie month of August when most galleries are closed, your faithful correspondent decided that it was time to go and check out some permanent public art: Daniel Buren’s 1986 installation Les Deux Plateau, apparently more commonly known as Colonnes de Buren. I’m assuming that for such a worldly audience as ArtSlant’s, these titles need no translation. But what is it? Well, it’s a grid of 260 candy-stripped columns, in a grid of candy-stripped lines in... [more]

20140708121829-file1 Getting It   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Colin Snapp at Galerie Allen June 27th, 2014 - July 27th, 2014
Posted 7/7/14

Galerie Allen is a run by the Australian team of independent curator Joseph Allen Shea and artist Mel O'Callaghan, and is situated just west of Gare du Nord, in the tentatively gentrifying ninth arrondissement. These things are a departure from standard Paris format; they’ve eschewed the Marais, the (admittedly awful) left bank, and the more obvious cluster of new galleries centered in Belleville. Plus, there’s the involvement of an artist. The space itself is also something of a hyb... [more]

20140519064350-hirschhorn8 Watch DVDs, Eat Hot Dogs, and Swing on Tires   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Thomas Hirschhorn at Palais de Tokyo April 24th, 2014 - June 23rd, 2014
Posted 5/19/14

To enter this exhibition is to descend into an anarchic post-apocalyptic maze where mankind has come to rely on parcel tape as never before and small children run around like fuzzy static magnets for polystyrene debris. Yes, we are entering the world of Thomas Hirschhorn on a quite unprecedented scale, and as ever the Swiss artist presents us with an immersive vision. This is an exhibition where you can spend time, and after contemplating disruptions in doxical praxis you can watch DVDs, eat ho... [more]

20140421080747-rm4 Mapplethorpe: Very Eighties   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Robert Mapplethorpe at Grand Palais March 26th, 2014 - July 13th, 2014
Posted 4/21/14

At a certain point as I was walking around the Mapplethorpe exhibition I thought, “You know something? I really don’t like Robert Mapplethorpe.” This was during the first half of the show where most of the work was in his "nude portraiture" mode. I mean, I can appreciate the formality of it all—the lines and triangles, neat, original compositions, the sculptural references. But there’s just something in the gelatin-silver-shininess of it; it all seems too slick,... [more]

20140312061209-sheila_hicks Into The Fold   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Tauba Auerbach, davide balula, Alain Biltereyst, Tom Burr, César, John Chamberlain, William Daniels, Simon Hantai, Sheila Hicks, Olaf Holzapfel, Sol LeWitt, Piero Manzoni, Steven Parrino, Jack Pierson, Diogo Pimentão, Charlotte Posenenske, Robert Rauschenberg, Blake Rayne, Anselm Reyle, Dorothea Rockburne, Rudolf Stingel, Tatiana Trouvé, Daniel Turner, Rachel Whiteread at Gagosian - Paris February 28th, 2014 - April 19th, 2014
Posted 3/12/14

I don’t know if anyone else has seen the YouTube animation that explains the ten dimensions of the physical world, as predicted by the theoretical framework of M- or String theory. It’s quite confusing. However, one of the ideas it introduces is that at certain points the shift from one dimension to the next is achieved by folding that dimension through into the next (in similar fashion to how one would fold a piece of paper into a Mobius strip). This is the process that allows a bei... [more]

Figure + Landscape: An Interview with Elina Brotherus  

Helsinki / Paris, Feb. 2014: It's quite strange meeting someone for the first time via Skype; I think it's something to do with the intimacy of being suddenly projected into a stranger's kitchen and they into your living room. This was how I met Elina Brotherus: we sat in Paris/Helsinki and shared a cup of tea. My intention was obviously for this to be an interview, however it seems like a conversation broke out, the outcome of which being that the questions aren't particularly well phrased. I'm sur... [more]

20140121182108-ac_jamie_reid_affiche_god_save_the_queen_1977_-__sex_pistols_residuals Punk is Dead (again)   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
at Cité de la musique October 15th, 2013 - January 19th, 2014
Posted 1/21/14

"Yes that's right punk is dead, it's just another cheap product for the consumer’s head Bubble gum rock on plastic transistors, school boy sedition backed by big time promoters" So sang Crass in their 1978 track Punk is Dead... And the big time promoter in this instance is the French state via Cité de la Musique, where, from a certain perspective, Punk suffers the final ignominy of transferring from cultural reference or product for sale to vitrine protected cultural artefact to be pe... [more]

20131217170453-dan_beudean_sir_richard_francis_burton Where are we?: Cognitive Dissonance at the LV Espace Culturel   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Ioana Bătrânu, DAN BEUDEAN, Geta Bratescu, Oana Farcas, Adrian Ghenie, Ion Grigorescu, Simon Cantemir Hausì, Mihut Boscu Kafchin, Ciprian Muresan, Serban Savu, Mircea Suciu, SERGIU TOMA, Bogdan Vladuta at LV Espace Culturel October 11th, 2013 - January 12th, 2014
Posted 12/17/13

You know if you asked me honestly why I went to the LV cultural space I hope I'd be honest enough to tell you something about a certain sardonic sensation, and the presentiment that somewhere in the whole experience I'd find some kind of grist for the mill of this review. Just something about the gallery that sits above what I believe – and I may well be wrong – is the most profitable store in Paris, if not the world. I know it sounds ridiculous, but I have heard that the LV store on C... [more]

20131210073645-ecal-romain-hu_gli What Do Kim and Kanye Have to Do with the New Photography Aesthetic?   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Jeremy Ayer, Emile Barret, Olga Cafiero, Alexia Cayre, Philippe Fragnière, Nicolas Haeni, Romain Hügli, Romain Mader, Tiphanie Mall, Douglas Mandry, Cyril Porchet, Jimmy Rachez, Maya Rochat, Priscillia Saada, Tristan Savoy, Jean-Vincent Simonet, Armand Yerly at Galerie Azzedine Alaïa November 15th, 2013 - December 15th, 2013
Posted 12/10/13

I'm a bit late on the whole Kanye craziness, but have, after a couple of hours of jaw dropping internet research, finally arrived in apocalypto ego-mania land. Wow. It is a special place to be. It's like there's the purest form of intoxication in what he's saying and in a sense at a certain point his inner sense of being a god-ness almost becomes logical, like it's the pinnacle of self enactment, and like the next-big-thing motivational seminars. The interesting thing though, besides the wonder a... [more]

20131119045357-jun-ahn-self-portrait-2011 Auto Interview: Paris Photo 2013   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
at Grand Palais November 14th, 2013 - November 17th, 2013
Posted 11/19/13

James Loks is a Paris-based staff writer for ArtSlant. On the occasion of Paris Photo he thought it would be worth taking the time to ask himself some questions concerning the nature of art fairs, photography, and lack of real world Lynchian characters. Initial impressions of Paris Photo? Very cold. If you post on the website that press registration begins at two pm, it's a really good idea not to then decide that it starts at five. The ensuing confrontation between a bunch of disgruntled journa... [more]

20131023003645-peresprojects Berlin vs. Paris: We Ask The Galleries   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
at FIAC October 24th, 2013 - October 27th, 2013
Posted 10/23/13

Over the past fifteen years Berlin has carved itself a niche as the most vibrant artistic city in Europe, a place to find both galleries and working artists of all ilk. It has become synonymous with the type of creative energy that seems to push forward, always seeking new boundaries and forms. As such it makes an interesting contrast with Paris, a city that has previously taken this role but is now perhaps too stable, too comfortable, and maybe too expensive, to compete. In a way, within this context,... [more]

20131022123637-1 Prix Marcel Duchamp: Favourites and Outsiders   Pick-button-0f29c6c075c514ef3a12253f1d60018e
Farah Atassi, Latifa Echakhch, Claire Fontaine, Raphaël Zarka at FIAC October 26th, 2013 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM
Posted 10/22/13

As a corollary to FIAC the Prix Marcel Duchamp has had some pretty impressive winners in its time and is, as with all of these types of prizes, a great way for an artist to get some recognition, funding and actual cash. Not as old as the Swiss Art Awards, as prestigious as a Gold or Silver Lion, or as lucrative as some of the big private awards, it is still sufficient to spur on the career of any artist, not least in that it comes with a well funded exhibition at the Pompidou, and allows you to jo... [more]

Saying What You See, Knowing What You See: An Interview with Marianne Paul-Boncour  

Paris, Oct. 2013: On the eve of FIAC I managed to catch Marianne Paul-Boncour for a chat in what was probably the loudest workers cafe in eastern Paris. We struggled to be heard over the radio, the rattling of cups and glasses and the shrillest of barmaids, while simultaneously squinting into a setting sun. Despite these challenges we managed to talk about painting, New York City, France and FIAC. James Loks: Can you describe your work in brief? Marianne Paul-Boncour: I always come at things from two directions, but I'm working on a... [more]

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