Art of England Blog - October
Maritime bunnies and ĎBop Ití.
Thereís absolutely nothing glamorous about the art world. Iíll start by telling you that. Itís full of queues, rodents, pirates and booby traps. Youíve been warned!
First it was light, and then it was dark. Who was I bumping into? A gigantic scaffolding and neon light sculpture by Nathaniel Rackowe made a play of night and day as he left collectors, art lovers and press banging into each other at Bischoff Weiss. First light, then incredibly dark, it was like a post-modern booby trap from ĎThe Gooniesí. I myself narrowly escaped to the relative safety of the basement where a gorgeous light installation gave me the feeling of the most fantastic sunset over a horizon. It was simple and extremely beautiful. Iím not really sure why, but it was also extremely emotional. Itís something that stuck in my mind, an absolute highlight.
The kids are all right, even more so when theyíve been let lose on a swanky Mayfair gallery. I do love youngsters in the artworld; they are the new blood. Iíve become particularly fascinated with Vito Schnabel, heís been dealing since he was at school, and now in his early twenties has a serious history of curating projects and spotting talent. What a legend! Heís a very, very lovely bloke. I was lucky enough to meet him along with Tyrone Wood at the opening for Vahakn Arslanian at Scream in Bruton Street. Both of their dads (Ronnie and Julian) are cool, but their offspring are going to run circles round them over the next few years, thatís my prediction. Vito reminded me of my dear friend Carlo Berrardi (whose dad owns most of the decent contemporary work in Italy). I met Carlo a few years back when he was just 15, he flew Uri Geller and I out to Italy and bought a bunch of my work. I had dinner with him the other night; heís now an asset over at Sothebyís, check out his essay in the next contemporary catalog! An insiderís tip for those wishing to schmooze him, ice cream of the chocolate variety.
Iíve had my eyes firmly planted on a little East End gallery for a while, Gallery Primo Alonso. Itís a perfect little space run by yet more youngsters, all in their early 20s and artists in their own right. I always pop down to their shows, expertly curated, and more often than not, featuring a couple of fantastic artists who have been let out of the pen that is their normal galleries. Not only that, itís a bit of an insider secret, for those wishing to swipe a bargain. So I was excited to check out their new offering ĎRun Rabbit Runí. To be honest, I donít have a clue what was going on, accept there were live Rabbits running round a Plexiglas run and the gallerist had the brightest shoeís Iíve seen in my life. Things just donít get better than that! Working with animals is a generally a bad idea though, they need feeding, and in this case they were Harry Houdini reincarnate, taking every available opportunity to Ďbust outí by expertly tunneling under the fence. Primo Alonso is a fantastic gallery but I canít help thinking that our fluffy rodent friends fancied a munch on the higher standard of catering next door at the greasy spoon on Hackney Road.
Matthew Barney is truly a king. He had the biggest queue Iíve seen in my life. The art world is about queues. The bigger a queue is, the more important the artist and therefore the more valid the work. Iíve been obsessed with Barney for a while, last year I was about to cash in my collection of fast food happy meal toys and buy a ticket to NYC to see ĎDrawing Restraintí but the £3.98 I raised by consigning them to a little wipper snapper (called Sophie) who was to retail them by way of a small patio table at the end of her drive, wasnít going to get me there. So I was overjoyed to read the broadsheet hype that at last Mr. Barney himself would be on British soil. Ready to get the scoop for you lot (and hopefully a snap of Bjork), my assistant spent the week emailing the lovely publicity department at the Serpentine. So I get there to find a queue to join the queue and security with bricks for brains. I didnít see anything of the work, but after coughing up fifty pence for a cup of warm water that I was disallowed to take back to the car, I feel I owe you some sort of review. So here it is, my take on ĎQueueí by Matthew Barney. It was a warm evening, the light drawing in early, the queue was dense, about four people wide at itís best and several hundred long. Occasionally punctuated by a young intern with a clipboard. The queue consisted of photographers and curators, art lovers and people after a free drink. As it beautifully snaked into Regents park, personifying the general feeling of the ĎOutsiderí in the artworld, a smart, ironic allegory on behalf of the artist, once an outsider, now an insider. One canít help wondering about the relationship of the viewer versus the barrier that is the artist. Marvelous, Iíll give it four out of five stars.
Vyner Street on the first Thursday of the month was rammed as always. Cool kids, collectors and artists, all scurrying to see the latest works to bubble out of the city. The piece de resistance had to be the opening of Anthony Wilkinsonís new space. Itís gigantic, architecturally beautiful, with an imposing double height window from which you could overlook the whole crazy proceedings of the night. The work was good, but the gigantic window overshadowed everything, for me it was as if the gallery was saying, ďnot only can I order a window, I can do it better than anyone else.Ē You have to tip your hat to the dude. Maybe East really is the new west.
If Cork Street is anything to go by, that might just be true. I took a stroll down there the other week. I used to go there a lot, after it was closed, to look through the windows. When the streets were quiet. It was magical for me. Iíve not been for a couple of years. Itís changed so much. With many galleries moving out to larger spaces or shutting down, it felt like the end of an epoch.
Lawrence Weiner is about as Maritime as a hummingbird in Tibet. However, heís a hero of mine. Iíve been saluting his genius for a while. In fact if it werenít for Weiner Iíd never have used text in my own work. So I made the great pilgrimage to the Maritime Museum at Greenwich. Dodging the ruins of the Cutty Sark, a gaggle of American Tourists and a shipwreck. I almost forgot why I went there, getting sucked into imagining myself in vintage Westwood and Chanel at the fashion exhibition they had. Could I pull off Adam Antís pirate look? From the mannequin he must have been much smaller than me. Tearing myself away from the Galliano, I remembered ďAh yes, the WeinerĒ.
I found something absolutely fantastic in the most unlikely of places. Lawrence Weiner was exhibiting a series of drawings and some of his iconic vinyl wall pieces. Most of the tourists ran past looking for the next piece of Maritime history, perhaps mistaking the genius for a piece of instructional wall design. If I werenít so taken with the work Iíd have screamed at them to take another look at what they were missing. I couldnít help wondering if the artworld Iíd left in central London even knew this was here. On the way back I just had to visit in the new multi-million pound planetarium. Itís not technically art but I loved it. You should go. Nothing has ever made me feel so tiny in comparison to the universe; I left with a phrase in my mind. ĎThere are more stars than every human heartbeat since the beginning of timeí.
After all that queuing, ice cream and proximity with strangers in pitch black; we all needed some light relief. Paul (one of the Primo Alonso directors), myself and the genius that is David Hancock, retreated to mine for a ĎBop Ití championship. I am pleased to confirm that as expected, Hancock has the best ear hand co-ordination in the art business. If you havenít played it, itís a little noisy piece of plastic that makes you hit it in time with the beat. Go get one; mastery of the device obviously leads to art stardom!
Labels: anthony wilkinson, art of england, Bischoff Weiss, cork street, lawrence weiner, matthew barney, Nathaniel Rackowe, primo alonso, Scream, Serpentine, tyrone wood, Vahakn Arslanian, vito schnabel