Monday, 30 May 2011

Enigmatic Illustration

I don't think I've featured any illustration on the blog yet, so here's some good stuff. I randomly discovered the work of Chris Van Allsburg while browsing a bookshop today - he's a children's illustrator but it didn't stop me buying a copy! I'm getting on the bandwagon about 25 years late but never mind... His books such as Jumanji and Polar Express have since been transformed into major films.

I'm a big fan of the enigmas set up in 'The Mysteries of Harris Burdick' - beautiful drawings of slightly subversive scenes, accompanied by fantastic one-liner prompts for stories.

Sunday, 29 May 2011

Ged Quinn

Worth catching before it closes on Wednesday - Ged Quinn at the Stephen Friedman Gallery. 

Ged Quinn creates stunning landscape paintings full of references from Claude Lorrain to Turner to Caspar Friedrich, with bizarre contemporary twists. These 18th century scenes appear to be populated by mutants, Hitler youth, monkeys and angels. Is it simply very clever pastiche, deploying stunning technique? I hope to have time to visit and find out.

Ai Weiwei

Ai Weiwei is all over the Arts pages of the weekend supplements at the moment; his initial 'disappearance' and the subsequent admission by the Chinese government of his house arrest have been big news, particularly given his recent sunflower seeds Turbine Hall exhibition at Tate Modern.

Ai was last seen publicly about to board a plane in Hong Kong, before Chinese authorities detained him. The state-run newspaper the Global Times ran an editorial ominously stating that "Ai Weiwei [...] has been close to the red line of Chinese law. As long as Ai Weiwei continuously marches forward, he will inevitably touch the red line one day. Ai Weiwei will be judged by history, but he will pay a price for his special choice." 

Since then, the Chinese government have suggested issues to do with tax evasion are behind his arrest, but little more has been revealed, despite an enormous international outcry. Artists such as Anish Kapoor have called for protest days by galleries and museums world-wide (let's give him the benefit of the doubt and say he was using the publicity of the opening of his own show to highlight Ai, rather than vice versa...). 

Somerset House is currently exhibiting Ai Weiwei's 'Circle of Animals', a series of huge zodiacal bronze heads. 

I popped into the Lisson Gallery at the weekend to take a look at their own mini-retrospective of Ai's work. 

I have to say I was pretty underwhelmed by the work; Han Dynasty vases overpainted in industrial paint, security cameras hewn out of marble, and coffins constructed out of dismantled temples of the Qing Dynasty are to my mind, pretty obvious visual statements.  That said, Ai's disturbing arrest highlights how threatened the Chinese governments feels about such blatant criticism of their authoritative and paranoid regime. 

Follow the situation at

Sunday, 22 May 2011

US Road Trip

I'm busy playing around with the idea of driving North-South across the USA this summer, and I'm finding inspiration for a route through some of my favourite images of the last few years. Eugene Richards' images of faded, abandoned towns and farmhouses in North Dakota, Nevada, and New Mexico are both saddening and beautiful in their eerie atmosphere. I especially like how he frames his shots, particularly his use of reflection.

Sunday, 8 May 2011

Google Streetview

There's an abundance of websites featuring 'amusing' moments of everyday life caught on camera by Google Streetview cars, but Jon Rafman's simple site takes it to the next level.

He appears to have found some astonishing images - from the poignant to the beautiful, all are arresting.

Tuesday, 3 May 2011

Gustave Dore

I recently noticed that print has yet to be represented on this blog.

Well - here's a great resource - pretty much every Gustave Dore plate you'd ever want to look at. Click away at random and discover some fantastic imagery.