Jean David Nkot, from Suffering to Resilience

Jean David Nkot, from Suffering to Resilience

Jean David Nkot, from Suffering to Resilience

Deciphering The Artist’s Mind: fremdkorper (Studio Koreans)

There are many snippets which can be spotted. The faces hold a sad and tired presence. Sometimes, the maps become more realistic. Familiar territories emerge from the infinite roads that intertwine randomly. We recognise Europe and the Middle East. The work is political and openly calls for justice. Jean David Nkot denounces the borders and the marginalisation of the poor. He points out this desire to separate the world at all costs and to block the way to those tarnishing a political ideal.

The canvas Lampedusa marks a turning point. The colour imposes itself. The face embodies all the anonymous persons who have drowned in the Mediterranean sea, unable to be identified. Here, far from a miserable discourse, the character frees himself from the map and takes power. He becomes the voice of these people who leave their country for a better life. These persons are those neglected by government, made invisible and left to their own devices, at the risk of their lives. Men, women, children. They hope to reach Lampedusa – the Italian island lost in the middle


of the Mediterranean Sea – the first European territory on the maritime route of these migrants who leave the African coasts. Their first step towards what they imagine to be a better life. Under the brushes of Jean David Nkot, their proud gaze pierces the viewer and recalls their history.
While Lampedusa testifies from a change in his work: the central character emerges from the map that imprisoned him until then – in the rest of the work of Jean David Nkot, the portraits free themselves. On the canvas, the map recedes into the background. It remains a central element of the work and actively participates in the narrative. The logical and rational mind is lost in this cluster of destinations. In #Au-delàduregard@yahoo.fr, Calais in France is next to Lecce in Italy and Ceuta in Spain. If the geography seems random, it is above all personal. Jean David Nkot deconstructs the world as we know it. He remodels the territories to compose mental cartographies. Sometimes, companies or districts replace the names of the cities. These red or blue dots, meticulously added with posca, always retrace the history of the person they surround.

The colors that had been emerging timidly until then are now shimmering. Soon, the cartography serves the story of the person it supports. Jean David Nkot gives a voice to those who are not seen. Neighbors, friends, as well as people who met in the street become his models. Sharing a drink, they speak and dream. If the artist first immortalizes the moment on photographic film, he then transcribes it on the canvas. He gives a voice to those who are not seen. The imaginary journey that comes to life under his brushes evokes their dreams and their disappointments. He analyses how individuals surpass themselves to exist as people. How do bodies exist in an environment that is not favorable to them? The journey is here a pretext to illustrate the human condition during this movement. How are people considered and how do they evolve between their point of departure and their point of arrival?


To facilitate this, he integrates the concept of the ‘grey zone’ developed by Primo Levi in his book The Drowned and the Saved (1986). If for Primo Levi the grey zone was above all the space between the executioner and the victim, Jean David Nkot considers it like the time between the departure and the arrival within a person’s trip. Under his brushes, the central character finds himself in the middle of this grey area, between his departure and his arrival, a symbol of the dreams he feeds during his journey.
Jean David Nkot deconstructs these dreams by emphasising their limits, starting from his series “Les Indésirables”, created in 2018 during the residency “Moving Frontiers” in Paris-Cergy. From this moment, throughout “Juju Connexion” and “The Shadows of Space”, the map takes over. If at first, he still realises a realistic portrait, the maze of geometric streets quickly buries the bodies lost within. He, thus, takes us to the other side of the dream and plunges us into the reality of immigration. The series “Les indésirables” sets the tone. He anonymises these ‘undesirables’ by only keeping their silhouette. The territory wins. This welcoming land, the promise of better days, makes them suffocate until they forget who they are. Jean David Nkot extends this reflection in « The Shadows of Space. » He shows how these ‘undesirables’ are turned into shadows. When they get rid of their identity papers to avoid being sent back to their country, they suffer from a true loss of identity, both linguistically and culturally, as well as socially and economically.

Visually, the artist erases these faces by making them disappear behind the density of the city. Soon, the character gets lost in this chaotic urban geometry. While the cartography was until then very personal, filled with anecdotes, it now becomes a generalised and repeated motif, applicable to all. These personal stories become a story among many others. As a way of denouncing the fatalism and inactivity of governments regarding the migratory situation. The process finally marks the victory of the territory over the body that forgets itself in the hope of being integrated. But how can we be integrated when no one wants us?
Finally, from these abstract figures, he only keeps the silk-screened maps. The bodies take over. They rise to the surface and come back to the front of the canvas. However, the map, in transparency, makes their outlines look phantasmagorical. Here, territories and bodies merge in what the artist calls a ‘map molecule’ – like cells that interact and interlock. Jean David Nkot engages a reflection on the representation of the body and its place in society. The body is abused and sacrificed. In these crypto-portraits exhibited at the Doual’art space in February 2021, on the occasion of his personal exhibition “Body and Space”, he stages members of his entourage to pay tribute to the victims of armed conflicts in northern Cameroon, as well as to those who left their country in hand-made boats.

This fusion between two styles leads to a new figuration that even materialises physically in the installation Trading Space. His works take on another dimension. They are adorned with data that the artist analyses and questions. To this end, his work focuses on mining in Congo. Trading Space draws a parallel between the richness of Kinshasa’s soil and the various historical shocks that have torn the country apart. By confronting archival images of the first mining complexes with current images of the same sites, Jean David Nkot questions this heritage and studies the repercussions it has today. He associates the production sites, the faces of those who exploited them and those who exploit them, by painting their portraits on shovels. Often seen in his work, he exhibits to the world the faces of these workers in the shadows. By using real statistics, which he displays and comments on directly on the canvas, he questions the public financials and unveils the hidden underlying reality. He is particularly interested in artisanal mining, which represents more than half of all mining in Congo. Above all, he points out the consequences of this model in which companies buy more and more raw materials at the lowest cost, despite the overexploitation of the subsoil, as well as the humans.

Jean David Nkot’s interest in mining already materialised in his painting starting from the series “Les creuseurs de sous-sol”, created during the summer of 2020. He focussed on the men who work to extract the ores demanded by international companies to be integrated into our smartphones and other electronic equipment.

In his two paintings #creuseur/chantier45@outlook.com and #creuseur/chantier14@hotmail.com, Jean David Nkot leaves behind any dramatic dimension to focus on those who work in the shadows, rather than on the matter itself. He pushes us to question the way items we use daily are manufactured. Concerning the ore – cassiterite – the men who extract it are invisible and ignored by most of society. The cartography unveils, for once, the reality of mining. The names of armed groups replace those of towns, while the names of minerals undulate and occupy the land.


In the series “Jungle Story”, continuing « Les creasers de sous-sol », the causes of migration replace the names of towns. The map merges with the skin of the characters. Double transparency tints now the work of Jean David Nkot: the transparency of both bodies and data. Each canvas conveys a message to the world. Each message is a source of information. Each piece of information is detailed. From one canvas to the other, Nkot specifies the names of the armed operations in Africa, of the ore extraction companies, of the ores themselves, or of the armed groups. His method is precise. A network of lines associates the pieces of information together. Ready to be analyzed, they live alongside the faces of the children, collateral victims of a phenomenon where political and economic issues are at stake. If his canvases remind of data analytics and investigation methods, Jean David Nkot is particularly interested in the work of American artist Mark Lombardi. Starting from 1994, the man who wanted “to make the invisible, visible”, started to create what he called ‘narrative structures.’ These abstract diagrams aimed to explain financial trade movements. If the object and form of the analysis is different in the work of Nkot, the Cameroonian artist also conceives his canvases like treasures of information. He feeds his art from his meetings and readings. He builds hence, the archives of his time, in parallel with his body of work.


Whilst Jean David Nkot focussed on the sorrow of his characters, it is time for them to be redeemed. He now frees his portraits from the weight of their history and emphasises their struggle, rather than their pain. He is interested in the moments of joy and captures the smiles behind the suffering. He calls for neither pity nor compassion and praises the resilience and strength of these anonymous people. He reminds us that every day is a pain worth living.

By Michaëla Hadji-Minaglou

Han Bing, Politics of Love

Han Bing, Politics of Love

Han Bing, Politics of Love

Deciphering The Artist’s Mind: fremdkorper (Studio Koreans)

Politicians and economists are talking of a new colossus that little by little has spread new seeds.  The time seems to be ideal as the United States is crumbling with an escalating gap between the rich and the poor. China’s vast territory, working force, and technological development are propelling the country to stratospheric growth. Chinese politicians have even appropriated the “American dream”.  Slogans all over the capital celebrate the “Chinese dream”, a capitalist concept where opportunity, determination, and hard work are enough for one’s success.  

Everyday Precious

And yet, the social pyramid needs a working force at its base for the engine to continue its cycle and the ruling class needs them to keep their position at the top of the pyramid. Chinese artist Han Bing denounces his nation’s merciless politics that are devastating and sacrificing a part of the population to the detriment of some. His series Everyday Precious in which he appears alongside construction workers holding a brick, embodies the struggle of social workers, of laborers who constantly dream of opportunity, modernization, and the presumable benefits of globalization. Nonetheless, Bing’s photographs present these workers in their “existential condition” while they carry objects from their everyday lives in precarious environments, sometimes even during night-time like in Unpredictable Moon. If the government promises abundance for its inhabitants, the reality has proven to be far from it. Enduring situations often compromise the workers’ health and well-being, single objects such as lamps or shovels can save the workers’ lives. Additionally, the shovel has a symbolic value for the artist, as it represents childhood memories – he was raised in the countryside – with the promise of a better life. Objects have an emotional charge, cabbages, bulldozers, bricks, all seem to have an incommensurable power to depict China’s loss of traditions and culture.

The Age of Big Construction

The bulldozer is used to destroy ancient neighborhoods in Beijing and around the country to construct new modern buildings. Bing is against the destruction of “hutongs” in his series The Age of Big Construction where brand new constructions are juxtaposed to shatter traditional constructions. The speed of urbanization is lamentable; these images are “mirrors of the process by which their traditional everyday lives are ruptured through modernization.” Not only cities are being havocked, natural ecosystems as well are being devastated. Urban Amber constitutes reflecting images showing polluted water bodies, they reflect huge skyscrapers, emblems of the middle class, and the laborer’s fate to serve the opulent class. Moreover, ecology and global warming have become a central subject in today’s political discourse, as they are threatening entire populations, sometimes even displacing them. China is no exception, in fact, it is one of the best examples of consumerism and the neglect of ecology. The artist highlights this through his performance Forever: Polluted and Profaned as Judgment as he grabs empty plastic bottles and Styrofoam, a deadly material for the environment. 

Forever: Polluted and Profaned as Judgment

As a child of globalization, Bing’s social and political engagement has widened to India, a country facing similar difficulties to China. With an unrivaled cultural heritage, a growing middle class, pollution problems flooding the country, and powerful economic strength, India’s similarities to China are irrefutable. In 2010, Bing created his performance Dreams of Lost Home in Delhi; together with 8 Indians, he performed a ritualistic ceremony. Matching his fellow Indians, the artist hugged big stones, as if the objects were pillows, the floor was covered with cotton simulating the sky or a dreamlike surface. The performance was a metaphor for work in our life: it chains us and fuels our dreams. Labour again appears like an oppressing force and is revealed to be one of the main axes in Bing’s creations. He caricatures the Chinese new social order in his series Theatre of Modernization depicting three archetypes, the social worker, a farmer, and the “nouveau riche”. The latter always wears a suit and seems to speak on behalf of others and peculiarly, has the physiognomy of Xi Jinping, China’s general secretary of the communist party. 

Making Love to the Thirteen Shovels

Although Bing’s work deeply relies on exposing the existing injustices in his motherland, he likewise chooses to explore life’s driving forces such as love and its opposites. His work is not pure political criticism; he intends to underline the consequences of the increasing social gaps generated by new behaviors. Competition and individualism are two idiosyncratic attitudes encouraged by neo-liberal systems, kindness and love aren’t exactly part of the equation and to succeed in current societies, one must squash others to be part of the elite. Instead of this perpetual carnage, Bing believes in humanity and love as interwoven energies, both delivering messages that transcend the borders of time and politics. Even if we perceive the artist’s way of expressing it as criticism, he prefers to think about it as a way to defend freedom, the utmost important social condition. Furthermore, his aesthetics are imbibed with softness, despite the crudeness of his topics and his critical vision towards China and the rest of the world, he tints his photographs and performances with a silky array of colors. His gestures are also delicate, proven in his performance Love in the Age of Big Construction or Making Love to the Thirteen Shovels where his gentle manners inhabit his work. 

Walking the Cabbage – Tiananmen Square, Beiging, / Manchester, UK

Pacifism imbues Bing’s creations. His body of work intends to heal social rifts just like a balm. He professes understanding and empathy in his projects like in The Green Cabbage Walking Movement, a group performance consisting of people walking together with cabbages. Social coercion is constructed via this simple activity, art serves politics and humankind helping to improve social conditions, allowing them to dream of a better world. 

 

Salma Al Najem – Suicide and Redemption

Salma Al Najem – Suicide and Redemption

Salma Al Najem – Suicide and Redemption

Photos: Hady Elcott

Salman Al Najem’s work is a dialogue that questions issues related to important parts of the human experience. Salman aims to redirect humankind’s attention from mortal desires, fascination with material wealth and luxury, mediocrity, vanity and environmental corruption. In an optimistic manner his works aim to illuminate the importance of self mastery, spiritual connectivity, mindful-sensitivity, righteousness, virtuosity and environmental sustainability.  

 

In Salman Al Najem’s “Suicide & Redemption” series, painted images allude to portray Al Najem’s internal frustrations and experiences in the Arab Peninsula’s new age, by creating works he considers to be contemporary Islamic Art.  Al Najem’s practice and style, imaginaries are conjured from blackness, designating timely subjects to both the culmination of all light, wisdom and consciousness, as well as the lack of perception which ultimately leads to indulgence, ignorance and darkness.  Through his own life, the series simulates a process of redemption through real and unearthly experiences articulating the artists’ trajectory of re-emergence from the obscurity between light (knowledge and reclamation) and gloom (helplessness and uncertainty).  

 


The exhibition ‘Suicide & Redemption’ aims to take the viewer on the journey of a person who at a young age contemplates the idea of living, tries to find reason of why we live life. His sensitive connection to the negative, allows him to study how those around him choose to live. Al Najem affirms through his works, that the person lets go of cultural and dogmatic constraints and values. In a place of liberation the person finds his unique connection with the divine, and commits to the death he thought he sought.  

 

Art of Dying (2019) Emulsion, household gloss, spray paint, & oil bar on canvas 170 x 285 cm. © Courtesy of the artist.

 

The obscure entrapment manifests within the layers of each painting, projecting the expansion of new age experiences and its tensions with traditional beliefs and social application of religion in the Arab Gulf region.  

 

 

Each piece is composed of anatomical, metaphysical and culturally celebratory icons expressing the corruption and hypocrisy of knowledge in our time and the folding of socio-cultural and psychological evolutions of culture social application of religion in the region. 

Atrophy or hero of the day (2019) Emulsion, household gloss, oil pastel, spray paint, coloured pencil & graphite on canvas 170 x 113cm. © Courtesy of the artist.

Delving into a mystical and growing inner awareness of life and death as reflected in daily events and symbolism, Al Najem presents an anti-narrative concerning money, time, mortality, idolism, dogma, fantasy and mortality.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hitomi Sato and the Attraction of Light

Hitomi Sato and the Attraction of Light

Hitomi Sato and the Attraction of Light

Sense of Field – Various dimensions

 

The Japanese emerging artist based in Tokyo has a notable background in architecture and design from her study at the Musashino Art University that impacted her aesthetic. Focused on the harmony of light and humans, Hitomi Sato finds inspiration in the observation of everyday unexpected beauty produced by organic elements crossing one another by sheer chance. The unveiling of rays of light touching asphalt, or the interaction between the natural laws of the weather and high-tech are all examples of the optic play she integrates in her immersive and harmonious artworks.

As she discusses her creation process, and her vision of the future of contemporary art and technology, Hitomi Sato expands on the role of the spectator’s intervention in achieving the release of resonances of one’s inner world and memories.

ArtPremium: What is the role of light in your artworks ?

Hitomi Sato “I treat the light as a medium. When we see the environment we see it through the light, which means that, as time goes by, it looks different, it changes, and you feel the time difference. But at that point, when we see the environment, we do not just see itour body starts reacting and integrating into the particular environment. When you go back to daily life, there is so much information surrounding you that this body reaction doesn’t happen because the body is getting stiff. So what I am trying to do with the light is to release the tension of that stiff body, and I am trying to find out what is the best way to do it.”

The core essence of her art reveals itself in the tangibility and multi-sensorial experience. The temporal and spatial holistic approach in her Sense of Field (2016) work, a glimmering walkway packed with optic fibre-like radiant light film is telling of the artist’s interactive play with both the viewer and the artwork. “The audience has to feel”, and this sparking of body memory is the realisation of how the observer’s body will change when immersing itself into her optic and spatial illusion. Light, and especially natural light, has a polymorphic effect, and Hitomi Sato stresses on the freedom to choose the meaning we may find in the internal and physical involvement with the art piece, as a unique interaction, each time different.

Your installations immerse the viewer in your works while involving movement and touch. What is the role of the body in engaging ourselves with art?

Hitomi Sato : “Body involvement is very interesting because this happens without my intention in creating any particular object. There is no message in my art; I’d rather say that my art’s function is to nurture the mind and body of the observer, so that they can really define or feel their relationship between the inner and outer. Art is not just for the eyes, it is interesting for us, the creators, to make the audience understand that there are many ways to appreciate it using the five senses of the human body, including smelling, touching… The human body is great because it is not only the sight and the eyes which detect the walls surrounding you, the whole body is reacting to what they see and feel.”

 

What kind of colours do you usually tend to integrate and associate with light?

Hitomi Sato “My primary interest is in light, colour comes next. First of all, I am focusing on the light, and when I start focusing on the changes or metamorphose, then I think about the colour as a very subtle addition. I take great care when I choose the colours because, for me, it must be transparent, clear, and clean. I will not just use primary colours, but rather a subtle colour, which is closer to the light, to the sunlight.”

As a cascade of colorful panels hung from her installation Heart Washing Room, Hitomi Sato’s meticulous and elegant work engage with the landscape or urban architecture surrounding the artwork, taking into account the rhythm associated with the constant growing of a city or the dichotomic framework between order and disorder. As she explores the relationship between human beings and nature, her art forms a bridge between the outside and the inside, as a means to enhance the sense of feel. In Light of Temple that Sato created in a Buddhist temple out of an exquisite light phenomenon, she intents to recreate the serenity of being in a hut and feeling nature’s special beauty.

Thus, greatly inspired by the Japanese culture, she mentions the sunpou寸法 (measurement) specific to the Japanese strict way of making regulated or customized actions, sharing the time, or judging collectively materials and things. The thorough Japanese control, patterns, keeping a distance is analogous to the fusuma, the Japanese sliding doors made of paper, whose primary function is to shut down the outside world while still being able to feel the slightest change of the environment, light or sound. Feeling this blurry and flexible limit between the inner energies and the external nature is what Hitomi Sato renews in her artworks.

Organic elements often play a role in your installations or objects. How do you establish relations between the natural environment and the universe through the human sensesalso regarding the Komorebi effect?

I am always interested in the human being. As you live, there is an accumulation of customs, for example common sense, which comes from all the information accumulated in one’s life. What I like to try is to release those elements from the human body and mind, and let the audience or observer be free from it. What I personally think about the modern world is that we are losing the archetypethe original, basic or fundamental things are now broken up. We lost the focal point and the point of reliance.

I am trying to evoke the primitive memories of the human being by causing the vibration which can connect us to the primitive or the cosmos. When you see the shimmering water or the komorebithe light pouring through the tree leaveswe feel that it is such a lovely landscape. Yet, that kind of feeling started from the old archetypical memory, which maybe the primitive people also had. That, I think, is the vibration and the repetition of light and nature.”

 

ArtPremium: Through the influence of design you also use ordinary or plain materials in your different works. How do you integrate nature and design in your work? Is it a way to reconnect everyday objects with immaterial or spiritual senses?

Hitomi Sato “I think the process of making my art is more important, and especially regarding the materials. I am always trying to see things purely so that the materials shouldn’t be seen as materials. For example, if you take the example of acrylic, we sort of have a presumed concept that this thing is transparent and hard, but I intentionally tried to break that prejudice, just like the primitive people who have never seen acrylic before. So my main function and main concern is to deconstruct the already constructed concept and way of seeing.”

Hitomi Sato first studied architecture, without aiming to become an architect as she was more concerned about the performance space, the philosophical aspect of degeneration,“ how one piece a wall will affect the human being, and his mind and body,” and the Japanese unique way of sensing time and space. She continued her study in a graduate school with a major in science of design, where she studied basic theories of design and the Bauhaus. Her minimalistic design and various works have been exhibited in numerous countries since 2012, from a Wall exhibition in Bologna, Italy, to a project in Melbourne, Australia around the tea ceremony. Her more recent works are collaborations between architecture and art, as well as the study of the ever-present intricate relationship between individuals and nature. While exploring the three fields of art, architecture, and design, Hitomi Sato’s aesthetical aspiration is now to show the audience how to touch the light and to depict the morning sun.

 

Water & Ashes for Creative (R)Evolution: Art in the HK Protests

Water & Ashes for Creative (R)Evolution: Art in the HK Protests

Water & Ashes for Creative (R)Evolution: Art in the HK Protests

Kacey Wong, The Shield (performance), 2019

The exhibition in Paris is inspired by the plethora of recent creations by various artists and the Hong Kong public during the recent protests against police violence and authoritarianism. The leaderless movement and its fluid, innovative tactics in Hong Kong have impressed the world. The unwritten guiding principle of this decentralised movement, ‘Be Water’, was inspired by the legendary martial artist Bruce Lee’s philosophy, ‘Be formless, shapeless, like water…Now water can flow, or it can crash. Be water, my friend.’ 

Badiucao, Bruce Lee Lennon Wall (b), 2019

The majority of the artists contributing to the exhibition are from Hong Kong. Witnessing the struggle and suffering of the people in their hometown, they turned to art as their way of expression. In face of Hong Kong’s dwindling liberty, they are determined not to be silenced. Such determination echoes a popular quote among protesters from Jack London, renowned novelist, journalist and social activist, ‘I would rather be ashes than dust! …The function of man is to live, not to exist.’ 

Revolving around the fluidity of the movement and the resolute determination of protesters, Water and Ashes brings Hong Kong’s fight for freedom and democracy to Paris through a variety of mediums. Some artists and their works were directly involved in the protests—either performed live in protest areas, or as protest materials or interactive art, from Victoria Park to Hong Kong International Airport. Others, through poetry, photography, digital paintings and illustrations, present their perspectives and express their emotions as they watch their city burn. The exhibition also features works of a French artist and an American artist, testimony to fact that ideas are not only bulletproof but also go beyond boundaries. 

Harcourt Romanticist, Our Vantage, 2019

What’s the drive for the explosion of creativity among the Hong Kong public and protesters? The relationship between resistance, consciousness, life, and creativity is at the heart of this exhibition’s philosophy. Resistance is something visible in protests while it is the major invisible force underlying the development of contemporary art—which is about resistance of what the traditions or authorities deem normal, matched with an insistence on thinking and expressing freely and out of the box. Therefore, resistance is about questioning the existing order. While the authorities accuse the Hong Kong protesters of instigating chaos in society, the real question is, ‘order is certainly contingent, but in relation to what’? Order is a constructed and fluid concept, which evolves and is criticised, challenged and modified throughout our human history. Questioning as well as a subversion of order, embedded with our creativity, does not imply a necessary antagonism between order and chaos, between norms and anomie; rather, it ensures our society to be free and open, enabling a genuine diversity of cultures and social orders.

Justin Wong, I See You, 2019

Consciousness is indispensable not only in any social changes, but also in creativity. As consciousness corresponds exactly to the living being’s power of choice and is coextensive with the fringe of possible action that surrounds the real action, consciousness is synonymous with invention and with freedom. 

Philosopher Henri Bergson equates life with creation while creativity is central to life for Gilles Deleuze as what he called ‘becoming’. Thus, while political movement may be traumatic, the creativity out of this batter for freedom is leading to transformation of the social and art scenes. The exhibition is an initial attempt to witness such creative evolution, if not revolution.

Tommy Fung, Hungry Ghost Festival, 2019

 

Exhibited artists:

  • Alcohol Salon, Hong Kong
  • Alice Kahei Yu, Hong Kong
  • Badiucao, Australia
  • Chan Sai Lok, Hong Kong
  • Diana Wege, United States
  • Fung Kin Fan, Hong Kong
  • Harcourt Romanticist, Hong Kong
  • Hector Bouhier, France
  • Him Lo, Hong Kong
  • Justin Wong, Hong Kong
  • Kacey Wong, Hong Kong
  • Lumli Lumlong, Hong Kong
  • Nicola Longobardi, Hong Kong
  • RC Team, Hong Kong
  • Tommy Fung, Hong Kong
  • Vivian Ho, Hong Kong
 

Water and Ashes for Creative (R)Evolution
3-7 December 2019
DOC, 26 rue du Dr Potain, 75019 Paris, France
Vernissage | 3 December 2019, 6:30-9:30pm

 

 

Imaginary Landscapes of Laura Berson

Imaginary Landscapes of Laura Berson

Imaginary Landscapes of Laura Berson

By Michelle Sevior

Through her use of poetic and profound subject matter, Laura Berson is on a quest to figure out her position in the world in relation to the elements that surround us.

Specialising in portrait and landscape photography and having won multiple awards, Berson has a professional background as an actress, screenwriter, and filmmaker. Her work focuses on the treatment of pictorial and cinematographic light, in which she refers to the dramatic use of light explored by the Dutch and Flemish painters from the seventeenth and early eighteenth century as a source of inspiration. Her artistic practice explores how the body, mind and nature are all interconnected. There is an ever-present element of nature in her work that is related to macro- and micro-organisms, things we do not see, but things that exist, and how everything is connected yet somewhat disconnected at the same time. She tries to express all that she doesn’t know, what she feels as a human being and her perception of the world, in order to find the essence of something. Her conceptualised artistic practice allows her to play on forms by expressing the infinitely large and infinitely small. 

EFNI 3 From the series “Efni”, 2018, C-print.
Courtesy of the artist.

 Berson began practising photography at age 19, and it is through her sensitivity and softness that she is inclined to approaching themes around the body of women, mixing eroticism and fantasy, and conveying a subtle world in which strength and fragility are two sides of the same coin. Her landscapes are often a purified attempt to transcribe an architectural universe in which Man is erased by its smallness.

By orchestrating light and staging, she gives free reign to her sensibility and seeks to transcribe reality into a dreamlike and reassuring image. To dive out of everyday life allows her to better understand her positioning in the world from an objective point of view. Berson’s influence is varied, ranging from elements of the universe, nature, the environment, to how all of these overlap with one another in order to form a more complex system. Our position in the world and the footprint we leave on the environment are themes that are also explored, as well as how our bodies respond to illness. She is particularly attached to show that which we do not see, stating that some illnesses are not visible to the human eye at first glance, yet that doesn’t mean that the pain one is enduring does not exist, and to explore these ideas in an empathetic manner.

In 2013, she directed a documentary on identity and its relationship to art after having worked on various short films and clips as chief camera operator and assistant. Berson worked briefly in the fashion industry where she notes that we are all transcribing to unattainable ideals of what is considered the perfect body, or image, and that we are conditioned to think in certain ways through exploitation of these images. She felt a misconnection in the treatment of human beings, which led her to feel as though the industry was meaningless and sanitised. The true essence of what is meant to be human is lost, so in her work she tries to portray women (and human beings in general) as they really are, depicting them as imperfect while she steers away from stereotypes, showcasing their sensitivity and strength.

In October 2014 Berson recalls, “I came across an article about women who are sold as slaves in Iraq and Syria. It shocked me, even if this practice is not new. In early January 2015, I learned in a dreadful document from the Iraqi news agency Iraqinews (reported by the Parisian) of the prices these women are sold for, and how they are atrociously reduced to slavery. The novelty for me was that the sale price of these women was made public, official, written in black and white, and the older the woman, the less her worth. It’s as if they were advertised in some form of catalogue, except that the items are not clothes or furniture, but women of all ages. They are sold with a thirty-four-page “manual” on elaborate rape, like a product’s purchase notice. It’s easy to imagine for an object, much less for a human being. This instrumentalisation deeply shocked me”. 

In response to this article, she presented a photo exhibition Ici et Maintenant at the Maison de la Mixité in Paris, alongside the association Ni Putes Ni Soumises. Inaugurated on 25th of November 2015, a day of struggle of violence against women, Ici et Maintenant showcases portraits of women and girls in light of the inhumane acts of certain cultures that still practice modern-day slavery. They are all depicted in the same fashion against a black background, where the women are dressed in a simple black T-shirt with a slate around their necks on which appears a price, and from time to time, a word. Their faces express a feeling of sadness, sorrow, despair, anger or incomprehension, symbolising the fact that women far too often have their identity stripped to a mere number and are treated as objects in society, and are considered inferior to that of men. The images in this series are presented as if it were someone you knew, to heighten the emotional attachment to the inexplicable ways, in which women are still treated in society today within certain cultures.

Ici & Maintenant

The artist and the series “Ici & Maintenant”, 2015, C-Print

 

Her work shares an interest in the investigation of identity and the place that each individual occupies in the world in relation to space, body, and consciousness. In her series Percipere, she experiments with a metaphysical doubt in a concrete way. The images pose certain questions, such as whether the body is connected to the mind, and reflect an impression of a world without meaning. The basis of the project lies in the way in which reality is constructed; a process in which our five senses intervene, and in a disorganised manner, cause our perception to change. This phenomenon referred to as derealisation, which simply put, is a disorder in which we perceive the self and the environment in a strange way. She raises this sense of not belonging to the world and the need to find a balance between these two points.

Le mythe d'Endomètre

From the series “Le mythe d’Endomètre”, 2018, C-Print. Courtesy of the artist.


Berson was heavily influenced by the contemplative slowness of the film
‘The Sacrifice’ by Russian director Tarkovsky in her series Zhertva. She reflects this ambiance in her work through an ever-present solemn element, and tries to transcribe this feeling of loneliness that is felt in the film, with the main character being on a quest for the meaning of life surrounded by elements of nature which are always present but in unusual ways. It explores how everything is connected yet somewhat disconnected at the same time, and how our relationship to the body and our relationship to the world are deeply intertwined. She articulates a physical space and a lived space, with our experiences of life being both concretely and culturally constructed within our environment, and poses the question as to how the body is built in relation to the space we inhabit in the world.

Berson’s photographic practice is identified as a search for the essence of something, an identity we can prescribe to, in relation to that which we are surrounded by, in which multiple realities are possible. She invites the viewer to explore the sensitivities to her varied subject matters in an ethereal manner. 

“What my I’s have seen”, by Koby Martin in London

“What my I’s have seen”, by Koby Martin in London

“What my I’s have seen”, by Koby Martin in London


Alone With Company

For his solo exhibition show, WHAT MY I’S HAVE SEEN, Koby Martin, Ghanaian-born painter, (b.1988) based in London, is collaborating with both The Who Gallery and Disturbing London for his most personal and intimate exhibition to date.

After revealing to his audience his most innermost thoughts about the tragic death of this Father through his previous show ASIAMAH, Koby will be continuing to divulge the depths of his mind to visually portray, through the medium of painting, a very humanistic outlook on his own life.

Kings

 

He is dealing with darker themes of depression, turmoil, and uncertainty in balancing contrast to the theme of hope and light. He is able to capture and reach out to his audience on a fundamentally primitive level denoting his ability to depict the vulnerable and emotional state of the human mind.

His unique styles have brought him to the attention of the British art scene as well as numerous commercial audiences through his collaboration with notable brands such as Mercedes- Benz.

Dancing with fear

WHAT MY I’S HAVE SEEN
November 28- December 1, 2019
The Who Gallery, London, UK

 

Berend Strik, Deciphering the Artist’s mind

Berend Strik, Deciphering the Artist’s mind

Berend Strik, Deciphering the Artist’s mind

Deciphering The Artist’s Mind: fremdkorper (Studio Koreans)

How is art transcending the artist’s historical and physical creative action? Dutch artist Berend Strik’s ongoing project Deciphering the Artist’s mind is the unfinished travel initiated in 2012 around past and present art memory, taking form in an immense body of photography artworks.

Since the visit of Manhattan studio of Marcel Duchamp, Strik has been taking for photography subjects these particular private places, where the energies and vibrations of the creative process suddenly reveal their history through the eyes of the Dutch artist. Photographing parts of the studio architectural space, Strik prints his work and adds multi-layered narratives through colored textiles stitched on the surface, composing a completely transformed work. Informative, interpretative, a tribute to influential figures, his three-dimensional photographs are like a mise en abyme, the capture of an exclusive moment of exchange between Strik and the different artists while conveying a personal theoretical reflexion on art. 

Deciphering the Artist Mind – Studio W.D.K.

The international artists of each 68 studios visited by Berend Strik, – be them contemporaries or renowned past art history figures, like the studios of Jackson Pollock, Lee Krasner, John Baldessari, Martha Rosler, and others – are dimly present in the works at a phantasmagoric level. He demonstrates the intemporality of the creator’s soul, absent from the studio but still existing in the dialogue he establishes with the electrifying resonance of the studios’ creation memory.   

Revolving his problematics around the myths of art creation, he endeavors to converse with the genius consecutively coming into being, artwork after artwork, in an intimate physical setting. The magic of the studio appropriated by the photograph is thus an endless investigation of the artistic mind projected into reality, and the seemingly impossible quest to conjure up the artists’ essence.   

Deciphering Artist Studio's Mind - John Baldessari

Deciphering the Artist Mind – Studio W.D.K.

In the continuity of the ambitious photography project, Berend Strik is pursuing the project with a book Deciphering the Artist’s mind designed by the internationally famous Dutch graphic designer Queen of Books Irma Boom. Promising to be a “real oeuvre d’art”, the illustrations of the book associated with Berend Strik texts and with Marja Bloem will offer new narratives and a complementary outlook to his artwork. Completed with a conversation of Berend Strik with selected artists, the book will be published in spring 2020. 

Corinne Timsit and Berend Strik are announcing their collaboration on current and future projects. 

Berend Strik was born in Nijmegen, The Netherlands in 1960, and lives and works in Amsterdam. He has exhibited in numerous art galleries, solo exhibition shows, and major art institutions (Stedelijk Museum Amsterdam, Tilton Gallery: New York, 5th Biennale d’Art Contemporain de Lyon…) and is present in large collections (The Centraal Museum, Utrecht; Museum de Lakenhal, Leiden and Haags Gemeente Museum, S’Gravenhage).

Miguel Chevalier Digital Supernova at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez

Miguel Chevalier Digital Supernova at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez

Miguel Chevalier Digital Supernova at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez

Chevalier will be exhibiting a new  generative virtual reality installation. Thirty different colored networks of light, combine with beautiful pictures explosions of massive stars and supernova remnant, develop one after the other. For this monumental creation between art and science, Miguel Chevalier worked with astrophysicist Fabio Acero, a specialist in supernova remnant to create a virtual reality projection that brings viewers outside of their reality and transcend the walls of the church to the projected astral heavens above. 

In part with the Siècle Soulages, Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez will present the large-scale art installation of renowned digital artist— Miguel Chevalier. The exhibition titled Digital Supernova, will be on view from August 8-18 on the vaults, ogives, and transepts of the Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez in Rodez, France— an exhibition from a larger program of events celebrating 100 years of the artist Pierre Soulages. Chevalier previously showed another installation Pixels Noir in April at the Soulages Museum as another event of this program.

The installation combines not only Chevalier’s recognizable generative realities and light networks but also brings viewers into this virtual world through the music of Jacopo Baboni Schilingi, Adam Bernadac, and for the opening — Frédéric Deschamps. A long collaborator, Schilingi has worked hand in hand on  numerous installs by Chevalier. Combining visual visions and fantasies with music audiences are brought into the seemingly endless astral realms of Chevalier’ universe in the gothic structures of the cathedral.

Installation View of Digital Supernova at Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez.

Enthusiasts of Chevalier may find Digital Supernova reminiscent of his 2015 installations  Complex Meshes and Dear World… Yours, Cambridge installation in Durham Cathedral and King’s College Chapel in England. It seems Chevalier, following his theme of expansion and generation developed the original idea further in this upcoming presentation. Viewers be in awe of the astral projections and then find themselves noticing the intricacies of Chevalier’s displays with the light networks they are projected through— adding complexity and depth.

Chevalier has long been influenced by patterns, networks, and systems that reveal themselves through nature. This is evident through installations such as Extra-Natural and Trans-Nature. Arguably most representative of this theme could be Fractal Flowers a giant virtual garden that evolves to ad infinitum. Chevalier refers to this work as a garden which show his constant reflection and reference back to nature. This balance between nature and computer generation are what give Chevalier his distinct aspect of  surrealism. Showing us the realities and systems of nature through computer generation, Chevalier acts as a figurative translator. His works are able to serve as evidence of reality explaining these systems and fundamentally meta. Digital Supernova shows us the extents to Chevaliers interests in nature and generative worlds on a new,  astronomic level . 

Digital Supernova
August 8-18, 2019
Cathédrale Notre-Dame de Rodez, Rodez, France

Carlos W. Desrosiers:  The Experience, an immersive exhibition in Paris

Carlos W. Desrosiers:  The Experience, an immersive exhibition in Paris

Carlos W. Desrosiers:  The Experience, an immersive exhibition in Paris

“When a piece is done, it always feels like a complete song to me.
There is no more instruments, notes, or tones needed.“

 

Carlos W. Desrosiers’ upcoming exhibition from June 23 to July 31 at VOS Paris challenges the status quo of exhibiting art on limited formulated canvas. The American self-taught artist from New York presents The Experience, revealing his original 9 paintings from his “What you see” The collection splashing out from their core basis and becoming materially alive in the entire space.  

 

 

Liberated from its frame, the vitality of the painting invades the room on various supports, which results in an augmented viewing experience. Like independent phenomenons emerging from the original work of his paintings, his ‘Figures’ take up space on the windows or walls. Fragments are hanged to the ceiling, while three-dimensional sculptural unities become autonomous living organisms. The jumping off point art piece multiplies itself through an explosion into other lives in the exhibition.

Through an organic body of work of installations, photographs, signed multiples, or prints, the artist cultivates his aesthetic of vibrant colors surge. He incorporates writings and natural elements as energies that assist the work in the creative process.

The exhibition is accompanied by music as a means to awaken awareness for the vibrations of the art. The artist becomes aware of the completion of the work when it resonates wholly, as both music and art can touch a higher frequency. The colors tones he applies frenetically, like music notes dancing on the drawings, interact with what is true to the soul, and trigger all the senses.  

On the main original canvas, the thick layers of paint are the essence of his “panning technique”, a process usually associated with audio recording. Infinitely adjustable and rotative, his works exceed the fixed gaze and suggest an expansive view and endless possibilities of interpretations.

 

 

The Experience is thus incredibly immersive and takes the individual into the heart of the latter’s self universe. Moving forms devoid of a figurative depiction, his collection of paintings morphs depending on what resonates to the viewer’s subconscious. Carlos W. Desrosiers is adamant about knowing what people perceive in his abstract landscapes, unfolding what is beyond our past and life experiences. He always seeks to manifest a different reality with innovative perspectives, and to truly engage with the everyday curious onlooker, stating that his work is “a clear mirror of self for the observer.”

Carlos W. Desrosiers’ artistic expression hinges indeed upon this notion of movement and collective subconscious. His genius resides in his creative power and spiritual overview, his belief that every object of the world possesses innate wisdom. Before considering himself as an artist 6 years ago, he had an inner desire to transfer his knowledge of the mind and “the esoteric and healing power of men” into a tangible way to awaken humanity.

 

 

Very passionate about all healing techniques including Taoism, self-development, and kinesiology, he was impacted from a young age by the “healing world” as his father is a naturopathic doctor. His thirst for knowledge, the consciousness of his self-awakening paved the way for the discovery of his real duty as an artist, and each crafted piece revealed him new techniques.

When first meditating on art history, he felt an immediate connection with Jackson Pollock’s artistic splattering as an intuitively free and uncontrollable process. What Carlos W. Desrosiers calls his “subconscious reprogramming” techniques takes on form in the painting act through losing control of his hands, leaving the physical element and unlocking his hidden potential.

 

“Beautiful images emerge out of the erratic and out of the chaos”

 

 

 

With parents coming from Haiti to America, Carlos W. Desrosiers was born in New York City in 1988. While not having an economically privileged background, Desrosiers worked at a golf course for 12 years only to later be emerged into the world of Rap music as an A&R manager at the age of 17. Developing a strong rapport with artist and working on different projects and albums, Desrosiers quickly became a key component to artists and their recording process. He has been evolving in the highest spheres of the Rap/Trap music industry, being very close to top renowned artists like Rihanna, Travis Scott, and Migos.

He created in 2012 his first body of art still in progress named “What You See Collection Private Experience”  including over 20 artworks exhibited at Art Basel Miami and at The Fearless Artist Art Basel Pop Up Gallery in December 2015. His “Living abstract” body of artworks and murals were shown in Lower East Side Manhattan, New York City in February 2016.

 

The Experience by Carlos W. Desrosiers
From 23 June to 31 July 2019
VOS Paris
21 avenue Kleber 75016 Paris

Mayasa Al Sowaidi : Revisiting the essence of Tea

Mayasa Al Sowaidi : Revisiting the essence of Tea

Mayasa Al Sowaidi : Revisiting the essence of Tea

Bringing together historical narratives of the West and the Middle East and to demonstrate the cultural richness of Bahrain, Mayasa Al Sowaidi will be presenting her series Art of Tea”  in collaboration with Corinne Timsit Art Advisory (CT2A). More than 20 artworks will be exhibited in this exploration of the theme of tea, its transcendence and essence through its transformation as a tool for artistic creation and expression.

Mayasa Al Sowaidi builds metaphorical bridges between the art of ceremonial tea-tasting and aesthetical and visual art. Artifact of everyday life, tea is nevertheless one of the most fundamental products of globalization, historically significant and culturally important as a ritual experience, also spiritual, creating social unity.

“Tea is a drink of rich heritage. Just as a collage relies on the recycling of used materials, so the tea leaves were given another chance at immortality, by affixing them onto a canvas for us to taste in another form, to sip art differently.”

Like papyrus or parchments, the tea leaves are fully integrated on the eroded canvas, colored in imitation of the brewing water. Tea bags are covered by recurring motifs of static birds anchored on branches, or keys and locks images. They reveal themselves as symbols of freedom to reach in our materialistic world of over-consumption, as human beings or ‘non-beings’ reduced to numbers.

Mayasa Al Sowaidi had also been part of the Bahrain Art Week 2018 at the Grand Palais, showcasing many artists of the Bahrain art scene, growing with emerging talents and artistic energy. Far from misconceptions, the important position of women artists in Bahrain is not new, regarding the cultural and unique specificity of the island country globally renowned for its natural pearl production. While men went fishing for months to find pearls, the country’s responsibility was left to the female population who still hold today a great power in the society.  

Not solely a self-taught painter, Mayasa Al Sowaidi also has a Bachelor of Science degree in Mathematics from the University of Bahrain and is currently completing her doctorate – with her research paper focusing on emotional intelligence – at the Management School of Grenoble, France.

The artist explores in her artistic practice since 2005 her own freedom of expression and creativity, and the notions of harmony, balance, and order as components of her apparent fragile collages. Her pieces reflect her skills as a writer as well as that of an artist, each telling a unique story.

 

 

 

A hopeful breath at the MCA with FEDERICO HERRERO

A hopeful breath at the MCA with FEDERICO HERRERO

A hopeful breath at the MCA with FEDERICO HERRERO

Currently exhibited in the Museum of Contemporary Art Chicago, Federico Herrero has taken over the two-story entrance of the MCA space, with his Alphabet project a recurring motif of communicative and playful patches of colours from the wall to the reflection of coloured lights on the ground.

After a 10 months joint collaboration with the museum through an impressive mural installation, the occasion for an immersion into the colours and the vibrations of the room will soon be ending. Until May 5 2019 the international Costa Rican artist invites the visitor to penetrate the new environment created with enticing pastel colour blocks reminiscent of the flora and fauna of Herrero‘s tropical birthplace.

Observable from the painted windows of the atrium, the city’s buildings are covered and transformed with the artist bright blue, yellow, orange filters. The swift change of season in Chicago allows for a continuously mutable exploration of the relationship between nature and public urban culture, between art and social life.

 

 

Born in 1978 in the midst of the natural density of San Jose, Herrero was influenced by graffiti and urban art, media, and everyday city art but also recalls color field painters and Central America muralist tradition. From his first notoriety at the 2001 Venice Biennale as a young artist, his artwork gradually progressed into more abstract and less figurative forms. The artist has developed his oeuvre from canvas paintings to mural and monumental pieces, usually breaking free from the wall space, challenging usual space restrictions like grounds, corners, ceilings, and windows, in his artistic expression of a chaotic and joyful landscape.  

 

Although his paintings first appear as patterns of geometrical drawings or as the mental forms of a mapping process, his idea of linguistic chromatic shapes in the Alphabet exhibition comes across as the perception of living, “jumping from place to place” pigments, crossing boundaries and giving new life and vividness to the environment. He uses a conventional painting technique to produce a multicolored and visual sign language in order to engagingly interact with the architecture and the city of Chicago- directly through formal colours.

One of the world’s largest museum, the MCA was founded in 1967 and offers inventive displays for new contemporary artists, with a permanent collection including more than 2,000 works. The current installation is organized by MCA Associate Curator José Esparza and Pamela Alper Associate Curator.

 

Today, Herrero’s wide range of artworks can be seen worldwide from numerous exhibitions in museums or galleries to public installations and he has become one of the major figures in the Latin America contemporary art scene. This October he will be exhibiting at the James Cohan Gallery while his future solo shows will take place in Brazil at the Niterói Contemporary Art Museum in Rio de Janeiro in August 2019 and in São Paulo at the Pivô art center in 2020. In his native San José, Herrero will also show his projects at the Museo Nacional de Costa Rica in 2020.