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Friday, 23 October 2009

Home Grown: The Story of UK Hip-Hop

Hip Hop is now 30 years old. I know it's hard to pinpoint an exact date when hip hop emerged, sometime in 1979 in the Bronx, as a reaction against gangs, drugs and violence. But what's the story of Hip Hop in the UK? Urbis in Manchester is exploring this question with their new show, which opened on 15 October, ‘Home Grown: The Story of UK Hip-Hop’.

‘Home Grown’ focuses on the wonderful, unpredictable story of UK hip-hop: a music and culture that dragged itself up from the streets - with a little help from some surprisingly eminent friends - to change the face of British music and style. From producing some of Britain’s most esteemed artists, to helping spawn almost every major British dance music genre of the last twenty years, it makes for a cracking story. But surprisingly it is one that has never before been told.

Co-curated by Urbis’s Andy Brydon in collaboration with hip-hop writer James McNally and artist / musician Kid Acne, ‘Home Grown’ will showcase never before seen photography from the personal collections of DJ Milo (The Wild Bunch) and DJ 279; rare film footage sourced directly from Malcolm McLaren and cult documentary director Dick Fontaine; and exclusive documentation from seminal early hip-hop clubs like Spats and the Language Lab, right through to influential latter day spots such as Deal Real record store. It also will include rare – and sometimes unique - audio, flyers, posters, clothing and unseen photographs from the private collections of artists, promoters, producers, dancers and photographers - including the legendary Beezer, photographer of the Wild Bunch before they became Massive Attack; the inimitable Normski and former Hip-Hop Connection lensman Richard Reyes.

“British hip hop has never had the recognition and kudos it deserves. We have a wealth of talent in this country that has developed and grown in the last 30 years to become a respected musical force to be reckoned with and the artists that are consistently breaking through continue to push boundaries and take hip hop further. Many people are unaware of how British hip hop has evolved and of how influential it has been. Through this exhibition visitors will be able to trace the history of the UK scene before discovering what and who will be the next to make their mark,” comments Andy Brydon.

‘Home Grown’ is divided into 7 sections, covering rapping, deejaying, graffiti and breakdancing. They are:

•Origins of UK hip-hop, looking at the existing British black music culture of soul boys and reggae sound systems in the late 1970s

The Early Years, focusing on the emergence of UK b-boy culture, the continuation of the sound system legacy, and the UK’s first hip-hop and electro records

The Boom Years, zooming in on the media’s adoption of hip-hop as a new cultural phenomenon, setting the stage for a first generation of major label home grown talent such as Cookie Crew, London Posse and Hijack

Broken Beats will focus on UK hip-hop’s underground years as it became overshadowed by the emergence of club culture. This tension ultimately helped breed some of the most diverse and challenging mutations of UK breakbeat culture (from hardcore and trip-hop to jungle and drum ‘n’ bass) while hardening the UK hip-hop scene’s DIY values from within - most famously in the so-called Britcore movement

The Renaissance, showing how the British hip-hop scene rallied around a new generation of acts – such as Roots Manuva, Blak Twang and Lewis Parker – championing their new British sounds, and bringing a fresh sense of optimism to the scene

The Home Grown, looking at the consolidation of this success in an underground network of self-sufficient labels, shops and promotions, while new stars blew up on the mainstream

Emergent UK Hip-Hop, showcasing new hip-hop from all of the traditional elements, as well as the best of the new artists about to break through – whether they’re incorporating elements of grime, dubstep and wonky, or just doing it straight, no chaser.

Pollyanna Clayton-Stamm, Head of Creative Programmes at Urbis says: “This exhibition continues the ethos that underpins all programming at Urbis, to explore a broad spectrum of popular and often timely topics, reclaiming popular culture by covering sometimes uncharted themes that are not traditionally covered by other galleries or museums. It’s exciting to be highlighting a genre that has had such a huge impact on our culture, not just through music but also fashion, art and film; with this exhibition visitors will for the first time be able fully to understand and appreciate how and why British hip hop developed and where it goes from here.”

Contributors to date include Malcolm McLaren, Normski, DJ Semtex, DMC, DJ 279, Fallacy, Morgan Khan, Part 2, Greg Wilson, Jehst, THTC, DJ MK, Dreph, Andy Cowan, Vie Marshall, Beezer, DJ Milo, Tuf Tim Twist (Rock Steady Crew), Rising Styles (Hip Hop Festival), Contact Theatre. More artists will be revealed in the coming months.

Home Grown: The Story of UK Hip Hop
15 October 2009 – March 2010
Urbis, Manchester
Free admission

For further information visit www.urbis.org.uk

Image Credits

Graf. Covent 1985 (c)Richard Reyes, Home Grown, Urbis 2009.
Broken English, Hip Hop Exhibition, Urbis 2009, Photo by Al Baker

Wednesday, 21 October 2009

American artist - Whitney McVeigh in conversation at A Foundation

This autumn, A Foundation, presents a solo exhibition of new work by the American-born artist Whitney McVeigh. Set in the cavernous first floor space of A Foundation’s Rochelle School in Shoreditch, East London, the exhibition will showcase a selection of monoprints, collages and works on found paper.

Operating through a combination of intention and accident, McVeigh’s new work has a vivid immediacy that celebrates the potential of the medium to suggest, rather than define, possible readings. In a series of large-scale monoprints, the black acrylic, rich and tactile in its material presence, is coaxed into yielding interpretations that refuse to settle. Through a combination of drawing, gesture and chance, the works pulse with a vital, contagious energy, oscillating between abstraction and figuration.

In the collages, this fertile indeterminacy keeps the viewer busy through a free association of word and image, untethered from their source and made to speak in tongues. Also showing are works on found paper. McVeigh isolates pages from sources such as sailing manuals, old encyclopedias and book keeping ledgers and assaults them with drawing or mark-making, prompting dialogues through obliteration and accretion.

At first glance, the pieces may appear simple in their resonant immediacy but are, in fact, remarkably complex. McVeigh’s practice involves instinctively creating ‘in the moment’, responding to and activating the materials at hand through cutting, pasting, drawing, tearing and painting. The apparently austere colour scheme further reinforces the impact and physicality of the work.

This Thursday join the artist, Sotiris Kyriacou (curator) and JJ Charlesworth (writer and Reviews Editor, Art Review) for an informal tour of the artist’s show at A Foundation. This event is free, to reserve your place call (0)20 8969 3959.

McVeigh’s work is currently on show at the NY Arts Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale until November 22nd and Whitney McVeigh will also feature in a BBC Four documentary presented by Gus Casley-Hayford on the current art scene.


Image (c)Whitney McVeigh courtesy the artist and the gallery

Whitney McVeigh, Untitled IV, 2009, Acrylic monoprint on paper 153cm x 152cm

Whitney McVeigh, Untitled 3, 2009, Acrylic monoprint on paper 153cm x 152cm

Whitney McVeigh, Knots and Splices (triptych) Etching Ink Monoprint on found paper 2009,

Tuesday, 20 October 2009

A Round Up of Frieze Art Fair 2009

It has been remarked that Frieze Art Fair is pretty much like the circus coming to town. It’s extraordinary that this Fair, in its seventh year, has such a massive global impact. Everyone I speak to says, “it’s so hectic, but what do you expect from Frieze Week.” Fair enough. I’ve never had any direct dealings with the Fair or the Magazine, but as someone who founded and directs a contemporary art magazine, I have a lot of respect for Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp.

Everyone’s been talking for over 18 months about the recession, hard times ahead, hard times behind, this is the end, and this is the beginning. The contemporary art world has felt the affects without a doubt. But, at the close of the seventh edition of Frieze Art Fair, sponsored by Deutsche Bank, participating galleries reported clear evidence of renewed confidence in the contemporary art market.

Fair directors, Matthew Slotover and Amanda Sharp were delighted with reports of significant sales from new and established galleries exhibiting at the 2009 fair, as well as the enjoyable and positive atmosphere engendered at the event and commented: ‘We have been extremely pleased by the extent of the sales successes reported by major US, European, Latin American and UK galleries as well as the younger galleries in our new Frame section. The strong museum shows in London coinciding with the fair helped to attract the world’s most important collectors, curators and museum directors. The galleries have rewarded UK and international visitors by bringing great pieces of the highest standard to Frieze Art Fair this year and everyone involved has commented on the great atmosphere this week.’

Frieze Art Fair 2009 presented 165 of the world’s leading galleries from 30 countries. The fair welcomed 29 new galleries under 6 years old as part of Frame, and 24 further new galleries. Over 1,000 artists were showcased. Visitor figures once again reached 60,000 making attendance comparable to the last two years.

Sales at Frieze Art Fair 2009 reflected the breadth of artists and works on show. Hauser & Wirth sold a Louise Bourgeois sculpture, The Couple, to a European collection for $3.5 million, Neo Rauch’s Harmios sold for $1 million at David Zwirner, a Baldessari Beethoven's Trumpet (with Ear) Opus 133 on the Sprüth Magers stand sold for $400,000, and Eva Presenhuber sold its Ugo Rondinone work A Day Like This Made of Nothing and Nothing Else for €270,000. Alison Jacques reported the sale of a Hannah Wilke bronze for $150,000 while at Frame, Seventeen Gallery sold a work by Susan Collis for £35,000, and Project 88 from Mumbai sold an original Sarnath Banerjee work for £8,000.

The new section to the fair, Frame, was extremely popular with collectors, visitors and gallerists, and allowed younger galleries to show at Frieze Art Fair for the first time. Curators Daniel Baumann and Sarah McCrory who were special advisors to Frame in 2009 commented, ‘Frame has been an amazing success. Not only have the presentations been well received critically, but also many galleries have reported great sales. The galleries have been positive about the architecture of the space and the atmosphere and many of the participating artists have received invitations to show in major institutions.’

International galleries were almost entirely uniform in their response to the fair, recognising strong sales and a positive change of mood:

Iwan Wirth of Hauser&Wirth said (Number 11 of ArtReview’s Power 100), ‘For us, this has been one of our best Frieze Art Fairs ever. We're delighted to have sold Louise Bourgeois’s sculpture ‘The Couple’ to a European collection. Also on show in the park, Paul McCarthy’s Henry Moore Bound to Fail is on hold. We had a great success with Ida Applebroog, selling all the works on our booth, proving just how important it is to focus on older as well as younger generation artists. At this point in time, we have sold works by Andreas Hofer, Roni Horn, Wilhelm Sasnal, Bharti Kher, Subodh Gupta, Paul McCarthy, Michael Raedecker, Hans Josephsohn, Henry Moore, Christopher Orr, Zhang Enli, David Zink Yi and Jakub Julian Ziolkowski. Sales have been steady and consistent throughout.’

Carol Greene of Greene Naftali Gallery in NYC said, ‘Frieze Art Fair was an extraordinary success for us. We had low expectations but surpassed all our past fair sales. We also felt that we were able to not just place works but to engage in meaningful conversations with the collectors, curators and artists, which will have more consequences over time. We did choose to focus our booth on fewer artists and made stronger statements with larger works by artists like Bjarne Melgaard, Rachel Harrison and Gedi Sibony – all of which were very well received. We sold the majority of our work in the first three hours but had very focused good collectors the entire time. This is a fair in which every day something happens.’

Nicholas Logsdail of Lisson Gallery remarked, ‘We have done astonishingly well right across the board, from young artists to the old classics and the middle generation. We have made 40 sales, the value of which is in the millions. We really are astonished how incredibly robust the interest and recovery has been; also interesting is the depth and breadth of clients has vastly developed. Congratulations to Frieze for working so hard to develop the fair way beyond its previous levels of success. We’ve had brilliant success with Frieze Projects artist Ryan Gander and with Anish Kapoor, Shirazeh Houshiary has been a complete sell out. It has been one of the best years.’

Alison Jacques Gallery said, ‘We’ve had an exceptional Frieze Art Fair. Strong sales and great museum interest, within a fair that takes care of its exhibitors. We showed Hannah Wilke for the first time since working with the entire estate, and are delighted with the response.’

Sree Goswami Director of Project 88 remarked, ‘It has gone very well for us. We’ve sold to corporate collections and new buyers. There is a really good vibe and feel to the Frame section and it has been very carefully selected which is a bonus for collectors. We have sold all our Sarnath Banerjee original works. We have seen many Indian clients and have benefitted from the number of Indian artists that are having gallery and institutional shows throughout London.’

Markus Lüttgen of Lüttgenmeijer commented, ‘Couldn’t have been better – perfect. I think people are willing to buy again. We sold our Gareth Moore installation Neither Here nor There (2009) to the Tate and have sold other works too.’

Dave Hoyland, owner of Seventeen was delighted. ‘It has been amazing and vastly surpassed our expectations. We have placed all the work with great collections, mostly to Americans and also Belgian and Dutch collectors. We’re flattered to be here, the architecture of the Frame section is great and the respect shown to younger galleries has been amazing.’

Alexander Hertling, co-director of Balice Hertling Gallery observed, ‘We’ve met lots of institutional people and finalized exhibition projects. It has been a very international crowd and we have seen people from Eastern Europe, the Middle East and other new markets. We did think that showing a French artist could have been difficult but we could have sold our Isabelle Cornaro installation Landscape with Poussin, four times over.’

Toby Webster of The Modern Institute said, ‘The level of people here has been really important. Although we have been selling recently the mood has been down – however, here this has changed and the fear factor seems to have calmed. We were selling works well into the weekend, whereas other fairs stop. There’s a great pace to Frieze and we’ve got a great spread of sales from small drawings to installations, from beginners to major-league buyers.’

Maureen Paley (Consequentially Number 87 of ArtReview’s Power 100) commented, ‘The fair has been essential, extremely active and we are more than pleased with the response to works by Wolfgang Tillmans, Gillian Wearing, Rebecca Warren and Kaye Donachie. Overall the energy seemed high and the fair has been concentrated and focused. The energy Frieze Art Fair brings to the whole of London is quite phenomenal.’

Peter Kilchmann of Galerie Peter Kilchmann noted, ‘It was a very good fair and the first two days were particularly fantastic. We are very happy with the sales that we have made and there has been a nice atmosphere. The Tate acquisition of Artur Zmijewski’s Democracies (2009) has brought a big interest to a less-well-known artist and that is very pleasing.’

Anthony Reynolds commented, ‘We have used the fair to launch a completely new artist, Asier Mendizabal, and it has worked out well, we have had a fantastic response both privately and institutionally and sold internationally.’

Jason Duval from Michael Werner observed, ‘It is our first time here and it was very successful – we’ve had sales. We’ve made lots of contacts that will be useful in the future with new collectors and new curators.’

Ben Faga from Richard Telles reported, ‘We’ve sold the things we brought and we’ve had lots of interest in work that is at the gallery too. There is a new generation of collectors here, which is promising.’

Wim Peeters of first-time exhibitors Office Baroque stated, ‘We’ve done great sales and met great curators – the balance between the market and content has been perfect. A new generation of artists has received proper attention and around the fair there seems to be an interest in different generations that might have been underexposed until now. This means renegotiating our understanding of art history and contemporary art, and we have participated in this ourselves by showing a 1965 Owen Land work. It’s been a real success.’

On winning the inaugural Frieze Art Fair Stand Prize, sponsored by Champagne
Pommery, Jeanne Greenberg-Rohatyn, Director, Salon 94, said, ‘We are incredibly proud of the art we showcased at Frieze including David Hammons’ Flight Fantasy which we are pleased to have sold. The stand was carefully conceived to best display the creativity of our artists and we are thrilled to be recognised by Frieze Art Fair’s distinguished judges.’

Collectors from the US, Europe, Asia and the Middle East were in prominence at the fair. Marty Eisenberg said, ‘Rebecca and I had a fantastic time at Frieze Art Fair. The community that came together this year made the event special in every way. The art on display was first rate, and the exhibitions and planned events throughout London made every day enlightening. Best of all we came away with some wonderful purchases.’

Frieze Projects, curated by Neville Wakefield and presented in association with Cartier, received huge critical acclaim. Artists commissioned this year were Mike Bouchet, Kim Coleman and Jenny Hogarth, Ruth Ewan, Ryan Gander, Per-Oskar Leu, Monika Sosnowska, Stephanie Syjuco, and Superflex. Cartier Award 2009 winner Jordan Wolfson’s commission presented at the fair was Your Napoleon.

The Sculpture Park in 2009 showed work from established artists including Louise Bourgeois and Paul McCarthy. Younger artists such as Vanessa Billy showed work in the Sculpture Park with the help of the second year of sponsorship from the Heath Lambert Group, incorporating Blackwall Green.

What ever you might think of Frieze Art Fair, it’s truly an event. Aesthetica is the Media Partner for the following up and coming fairs: London Art Fair (January 2010), and Verge Art Fair Miami(December 2009) and Art Brussels (February 2010).

Frieze Art Fair 2010 will be held in Regent’s Park, London, from 14 to 17 October 2010.

Visit www.frieze.com to download Frieze Talks 2009.
Visit www.guardian.co.uk for vodcasts and podcasts from Frieze Art Fair 2009.

Image credits

Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park, London, UK
Image Credits: Photo by Linda Nylind, Courtesy of Frieze l 17 October 2009

General View, Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park, London, UK
Image Credits: Photo by Linda Nylind, Courtesy of Frieze l 16 October 2009

Frieze Art Fair Sculpture Park 2009: Louise Bourgeois 'The Couple' (2003), Frieze Art Fair in Regent’s Park, London, UK
Image Credits: Photo by Linda Nylind, Courtesy of Frieze l 14 October 2009

Monday, 19 October 2009


You might recognise Boo Ritson's iconic work. She is one of the most fascinating artists working today. The way that she effortlessly moves between art forms, is she a sculptor, painter or photographer? Or all three. To read more about Boo Ritson click here for Issue 28, in which Boo's work graced our cover and the feature Hybrid Art was the centre-spread.

Her latest offering a two-site show, shows scenes of small-town America. as they come to life in Back-Roads Journeys, an exhibition of new work across two venues by British artist Boo Ritson at Alan Cristea Gallery and Poppy Sebire from 13 October.

Back-Roads Journeys begins in ‘The Diner’, an installation at Alan Cristea Gallery, where visitors are introduced to the Diner Waitress, unhappy in her job, waiting on the Trucker’s table; he’s stopped by for a quick burger. Their portraits are set alongside still life's of fast food, a new series of screenprints on plexiglass of classic American diner food and a triptych interior scene made familiar through American road movies.

The love story moves to ‘The Gas Station’ at Poppy Sebire’s gallery where we see the Diner Waitress who, having quit her job for a new life in the South, is hitching a lift with her friend the Trucker. Here, the narrative evolves with the addition of new characters associated with life on an American highway.

Boo Ritson depicts characters and still life's drawn from her own imagined narratives merged with borrowed Americana. For each piece she paints her subject in a thick emulsion and then has the scene photographed whilst the paint is still wet. The resulting image sits somewhere between painting, sculpture, performance and photography. Ritson has always located her work in an American cultural context and has been fascinated by the process and by history of painting. In these new works at Alan Cristea Gallery and Poppy Sebire, she introduces her first ‘unfinished’ subjects, each one defined as much by what is absent as what the viewer sees.

Boo Ritson (b.1969) was recently commissioned to paint the band, The Maccabees, for their new album cover. A new Land Securities public commission will be installed in the foyer of Portland House, Victoria, in October. A retrospective museum show alongside Idris Khan and Ori Gersht, travelled from the Centro Andaluz de Fotografía, Almeria, to the Convento de Santa Iñes, Seville, in 2008 – 09. Boo Ritson has also recently donated works to the Harefield Benefit Auction, Shelter’s House of Cards campaign and The Blank Canvas Project for Amnesty International and The Big Issue. Ritson has work in international public collections around the world including Tishman Speyer Art Collection, New York, Titze Collection, Paris, Saatchi Collection, London, The Chadha Art Collection, The Netherlands, The Zabludowicz Collection, London, and Jay Jopling’s Collection, London.

The show runs until 21 November.

Alan Cristea Gallery open 10am-5.30pm Mon-Fri, 11am-2pm Sat
31 & 34 Cork Street, London W1S 3NU 020 7439 1866 info@alancristea.com

Poppy Sebire

10am-1pm at Poppy Sebire
12pm-2pm at Alan Cristea Gallery

All images (c) Boo Ritson

Boo Ritson, The Diner-Waitress, 2009 Archival digital print on Somerset paper. Courtesy the artist, Alan Cristea Gallery and Poppy Sebire.

Boo Ritson, Chips, Hotdog and Cup, 2009 Archival digital print on Somerset paper. Courtesy the artist, Alan Cristea Gallery and Poppy Sebire.

Boo Ritson, By the Roadside, 2009Triptych
152.4 x 340.46cm. Archival digital prints on Somerset paper. Courtesy the artist, Alan Cristea Gallery and Poppy Sebire.

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