Feb. 2015, Birmingham, UK: “Fuck Africa.” It’s rough on the ears when you first hear it. Jolting even. The Angolan artist smiles cunningly as he pronounces the words, a cool rhythm playing over his performance, overlaid with a collage of moving images, from the calculatedly appealing to the terrifying. He then describes in detail the manner by which he wants to sodomize the continent. Europe is his. He “bought it.” So is America. But Africa? Fuck Africa.
As a teenager Joep van Lieshout diligently saved all the money he earned from his first job as a waiter in a diner, until he had enough to buy himself an electric drill. Next was a proper set of angle grinders, followed by a welding machine. Van Lieshout has always been a lover of tools; the workshop is his natural biotope, the place where he thinks with his hands and molds a world all his own. His studio at the Keileweg, a frayed part of Rotterdam formerly known for its street prostitution, ref... [more]
Hazem Harb and his sketches; Courtesy of Salsali Private Museum
Hazem Harb drew the roman shades in his home studio to block out the shockingly bright desert views and force himself to concentrate. He was finishing the plans for Invisible Landscapes and Concrete Futures, his upcoming solo show at Salsali Private Museum in Dubai. The show’s press release had come out that day and ours was the first interview he would give of many. As a result, he projected a kind of calm intensity.
When London-based sound artists Fari Bradley and Chris Weaver first arrived in Dubai for an 11-month residency at Tashkeel, all they could hear was the white noise of air conditioning units. Slowly, their ears adjusted and natural sounds began to break through. While we spoke on the terrace outside the gallery, Fari draped herself on a settee, a droll setup that made me feel like a Freudian psychologist, particularly when our interview took a turn to the theoretical. Our bodies absorbed the muff... [more]
A while back during Berlin’s Indian summer, when the weather was more hospitable to a trio of tropics-born expats, I met up with the Doha-based artist duo Christto Sanz and Andrew Weir at a sleepy kietz café in Prenzlauer Berg.
Sanz, from Puerto Rico, and Weir of South Africa, have made waves lately with their vibrant and somewhat in-your-face surreal photographs that weigh in on power structures of culture in locations like their current home Qatar. Their artwork is almost camp,... [more]
Joanne Greenbaum is not one of those theoretical types—she is frank, funny, and bleeds New York in everything she does. Over the past couple decades this abstract painter has established herself for covering canvases in bright line work with magic marker, acrylic and oil. Her trademark has been treating the white canvas as map, filled with patterns that resemble city grids. It’s as if Broadway Boogie Woogie by Piet Mondrian were painted freehand and with more layered graphic composi... [more]
Street artist eL Seed introduced calligraffiti (a marriage of traditional Arabic calligraphy and contemporary graffiti) to the Arab world in 2012 when he famously painted a Koranic verse calling for tolerance onto the façade of the Jara Mosque’s minaret in his ancestral town of Gabes, Tunisia. Although his work is not political, eL Seed rapidly became the high profile poster artist for Arabic graffiti, with a collaboration with Louis Vuitton, a public art project painting 73 meters of freeway underpas... [more]
Chicago: In September of 2013 I sat down with the legendary Stephen Kaltenbach on the occasion of his exhibition at Bert Green Fine Art in Chicago to talk about his role in the history of conceptual art, his drastic 25-year recess from the art world, and his ideas about the nature of art. Kaltenbach’s work ranges from discrete objects, anonymous magazine ads, and mysterious time capsules to figurative sculpture, regionalist art, and shaping life narratives through various personae.
Nov. 2014: Frank Bowling is a Guyana-born, London-based abstract painter who was one of the first black artists to have a solo show in America. Even still, he’s kind of an overlooked art star. His colleagues at the Royal Academy of Art include David Hockney, and Lucian Freud was his mentor. Bowling, who is known for dreamy abstract expressionist paintings, was championed by Clement Greenberg alongside artists like Jackson Pollock, Willem de Kooning, and Barnett Newmann. Bowling has a slice o... [more]
Guimarães, Portugal, Oct. 2014: When South Korea won the Golden Lion at the 2014 Venice Biennale of Architecture, architect Minsuk Cho said the award could help “trigger the reality of a unified Korea.” While North Korea is making art at the Mansudae Art Studio, South Korea is building the next generation of art stars—in New York. With Korean art increasingly in the spotlight, “The Lineage of Vision: Progress through Persistence,” which opened Wednesday at the Korean... [more]
Amsterdam, Oct. 2014: Some people are called to the arts by way of a detour, but Chaim van Luit’s route is exceptional by any standard. Being a bit too restless for the regular educational system he dropped out of high school at 17 and joined the marines. He traveled the world working ten-hour shifts for months on end. At the end of his four-year tour he decided it was time for a change. After taking a special entry exam he was accepted at the Academy of Fine Arts in Maastricht. He laid dow... [more]
Graz, Austria, Sept. 2014: Rashaad Newsome’s heart pulses to the beat of hip hop. But how can one replace chamber music with old school black vernacular? New York-based Newsome, who is originally from New Orleans, travels the world finding the attitude-drenched insider lingo of each city, weaving it into his compositions for an unforgettable performance piece called Shade Compositions.
Newsome came into the spotlight in 2010 in collaboration with Alexander Wang at MoMA PS1 and is known for using... [more]
For more than ten years, Luftwerk (the creative vision of Petra Bachmaier and Sean Gallero) have created art installations that merge elements of light and video with facets of architecture and design. An opportunity to create a new media exhibit for the centennial celebration of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Robie House in 2010 sparked a growing interest in architecture leading to a deeper engagement with space and culturally significant buildings. Luftwerk will have an installation at the Mies va... [more]
Amsterdam, Oct. 2014: She felt honored to have been nominated for the Dr A.H. Heineken Prize for Art. The list of previous recipients is impressive: Carel Visser, Peter Struycken, Mark Manders, and Daan van Golden are among them. With a cool 100,000 euro attached in prize money, it’s one of the biggest art awards in Europe (for comparison: Turner Prize winners get 40,000 pounds, roughly half of that amount). But Wendelien van Oldenborgh did not expect to win the award, which she received last... [more]
London, Sept. 2014: Slinkachu’s captivating miniature street interventions, made of remodeled figures from train sets, strike a contrast with most other art in the public space. While many street and graffiti artists are all about bigger, louder, and bolder, the UK artist’s tiny, almost unnoticeable scenes are a quiet statement about our environment, and about the solitary nature of fast-paced city life – his ‘Little People’ are literally overwhelmed by the urban sp... [more]
Winnipeg, Sept. 2014: Robert Taite generates content through painting. Visual data culled through transitions, his paintings seem coy or perhaps indifferent to what Donald Judd described as “specific” in his seminal 1965 essay Specific Objects. While influenced by post war conceptual art, Taite’s own work feels of the moment with a cut-and-paste aesthetic; sources are loose and refreshed often. His practice prompts associations with a continuum of artists playing with architecture a... [more]