Living in East London it is hard not to be inspired by the incredible street art. Hackney (where I live) is home to some of the most famous pieces, and I’ll truly miss not seeing them every day. That got me thinking that maybe I just need my own “street art” wall in my home. Its a big commitment, but I think it can would bring so much to a home. Check out some of these “street art” style painted walls…
I recently read a great article on Interior and Graphic Designer Metter Bonavent and her home on French By Design. I love the simplicity of the space and the bold silhouetted artworks that really gave the personality to the home. You can get some similar screen prints and lino prints at Brighton based Gallery Boxbird…
There is something magical about being able to see the texture and brush strokes on a painting, especially when its combined with a realist edge. Christine Wu is a master of this art, and we have found a wonderful interview with her about her inspirations and studio experiences. Here is a glimpse into her world…
Your work deals with multiple images and doubling pretty heavily, what is the conceptual content of this stylistic effect?
“I want to create a world that is at once nostalgic, intimate, raw and honest. I depict images of people in some form of growth, but not exactly a physical one of age, but something more cerebral and visceral, and although those two words are somewhat at odds, it feels like the correct description. Sometimes we have bittersweet moments with ourselves, where we have to lose something to move forward – allowing our minds to grow up and mature. My work has a lot to do with metaphorical deaths, and with the layering, I am creating ghost images of things that could be, could have been, and may never be. But the layers do have a multitude of meanings and I am not forcing my interpretation on anyone because at the same time, I see the multiple images as the many faucets of personalities that everyone has, and the faucets that we might not want the world to see.
“I’ve been told that my work sometimes elicits discomfort from a viewer despite the fact that I’m not purposely trying to make anyone uncomfortable. I do want to show my figures in a way that is truthful, and the truth is, butterflies and rainbows are few and far between (which makes them all the more precious when they do appear).”
What is your workspace like?
I’m kind of a neat freak. My space is pretty minimal, and I don’t like to have too many colors around me when I’m working, so it’s fairly grayscale. I’m constantly cleaning and rearranging the things on my desk for maximum efficiency in space usage. When people come over, they’re usually surprised at how clean my floors are, especially since my paintings have a lot of drips and grit to them.
If you could hang out with one person, living or dead, who would that be? What would you do?
There’s this one lady from 17th century France named Julie d’Aubigny, although she’s been nicknamed La Maupin. She was kind of a female Casanova – a real badass. She kissed the girls and made boys cry, but she kissed the boys too. There’s a tale of her becoming a nun just to get into the convent because there was a young nun she was in love with. So d’Aubigny ended up kidnapping the girl and setting the convent on fire to cover it up, while shacking up with the ex-nun for a few months. Then she was in a duel sometime further down the line, with three men and she ended up defeating all of them and wounding one of them, who happened to be the son of some important this-and-that and she had an affair with said wounded fancy man. She also enjoyed singing in various inns and taverns dressed as a man, which was quite a no-no for a woman of her pedigree, especially since she was also a singer in the Paris Opera.
But as nice as it’d be to hang out with some mythic-historical figures, like Rasputin, Merlin or La Maupin, at the end of the day, I think I would rather hang out with some llamas. We’d make a llama circle and have a sticker party and I’d make flower crowns for all my new friends. Just a normal, grass-fed kind of day.
Any rituals you have when you do art?
I have more of a daily ritual that supplements my artistic efforts. When I work, I need to be in the right mind set, or else I’ll end up rolling around on the floor for the whole day. This is where my neat freak sensibilities come in to play. I get up in the morning and make my bed, attend my toilet, make a well balanced breakfast, do the dishes, check and respond to my emails then sit down to work. If it doesn’t happen this way, things usually get a bit out of whack. I’ve recently cancelled my internet so I can focus on the things I need to rather than look at adorable puppies all day. I am a very strong believer in making the bed – it creates a continuous flow of energy that I can start the day with and have it follow through, into the night.
If you were gifted with a superhuman power, what would it be? Would you use it for good or evil?
It would be amazing if I could be extremely stealthy and get around completely unnoticed if I wanted to. I don’t really believe in good and evil, and if I did, I don’t think I’d use the power for either. I think I would probably pull a few subtle and harmless pranks, like changing the salt and sugar around in peoples’ houses or shave off everyone’s left eyebrow and painting a toenail pink. It’d just be easier to get around without people pointing me out for whatever reason.
Where do you get inspiration?
I am inspired by everything around and within me, particularly when I see someone move expressively with their hands in a mundane setting. I think everyone is prone to mood changes, and in my work, I strive to have specific moods to the image. I really pull from the language of our bodies as well as the language of the materials I use to create an image. There is a fantastically intangible magic about inspiration though, and it very much does strike at the most unexpected times, so I unfortunately cannot pinpoint exactly where it comes from.
What role does your asian-american background play into your art? What about fashion?
Being Asian-American is a bit of a strange thing, not really having a homeland and sometimes feeling at odds with culture. But these traits could also just be my personal “artist sensitivities.” I do feel like these circumstantial things very much contribute to my work, a push and pull of feeling something like a ghost, not quite belonging anywhere and stuck in some kind of limbo.
I think fashion plays a role in everyone’s lives, whether or not they are artists. It is something that is so prevalent and accessible on a visual level, it permeates culture and has a tendency to homogenize trends. Although I am someone who loves fashion very much and would love to have a whole wardrobe of fancy things, I try to not let it influence my work. There is definitely a “dark” trend that is circling around, and luckily for me, it is possible that because of this my work is more easily accepted. But regardless of whatever is trending in fashion, I like to believe that I am still true to what I am trying to say about life, culture and the human condition.
Anything else you’d like everyone to know about?
I have a solo show in Los Angeles at La Luz de Jesus, opening on November 1 that I have been working very hard towards, and you should come out and see the work! I also very much would like to have a farm, away from the city, some time in the future, with chickens and maybe a goat.
We have noticed a new trend used when displaying art, the “tape frame”. It is a clever way to highlight a piece of work, and much more affordable then an actual frame. Its adds an extra pop to the art on your wall, making it stand out. Also, you are able to break away from the conventional rectangle or square frame and have fun with it.
Antony Micallef is widely recognised as one of the finest painters in contemporary art today. His ambitious and opulent canvases examine this generation’s complex relationship with consumerism and indulgence. We spotted some snaps of his studio and had to share his creative chaos with you…
Athena Calderon is the blogger behind Eye Swoon. I have been following her blog for some time now, and she just happened to post more photos of her beach home recently. I am obsessed with this home, from the furniture to the art. I noticed she did a follow up post about some of the items in her home, but didn’t mention anything about the artwork. We would love to know who the artists are!? Where did you find the pieces!? Until then Ill just keeping swooning over these photos…
I’ve been a longtime fan of Simon Birch, since his Hope & Glory Show. Working in oil he has a way of capturing movement and the ray of colours found in the human skin. We found a wonderful interview with him about his practices on Artasy that we had to share with you…
Hi, Can you introduce yourself for us? (Where you from etc…)
I’m Simon Birch. I was born in England, of an Armenian and a Russian, left home young, sneaked off around the world and, after many adventures, stopped in Hong Kong. I’ve been here for 10 years now and my career as an artist was born here.
What’s your background? Art school? Self learner? Art for Dummies?
Self taught with no education until a recent masters degree in fine art which I finished last year. when I was a kid I imagined I’d be a comic book artist but I got distracted by house music and spent many years Djing and promoting parties. painting was always a constant activity in my spare time.
How will you describe your art for somebody who doesn’t know your stuff?
I’d rather not. Better they just take a look and work it out for themselves.
What are your favourite materials to work with?
Oil paint, film, people.
How long does it take you to produce a piece? Do you start out with a sketchbook or do you freehand all the way?
How long is a piece of string. Days, weeks or months. I usually have a dozen works in various stages of production at any one time. i start with a clear drawing on canvas and it just gets messier as I progress. One painting leads to another as I try to correct the flaws of the previous work.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Do you paint/draw/work outside sometimes? Where can we see your stuff?
I only work in my studio, it’s at the back of Hong Kong island and away from the city facing the sea. It’s a big industrial building so the space is large and cheap. My stuff is hard to find, it’s mostly hanging on peoples walls. hong Kong is not really on the world art radar and we don’t have institutions here that show artists work. There’s no modern art museum at all, not even a well known commercial gallery. I doubt the outside world knows I exist. My gallery here shows work for me sometimes. My installation work pops up around Hong Kong now and again but is always destroyed afterwards. There’s nowhere for it to go unfortunately, storage space is too expensive here. I once built a 50 meter long building full of sculpture and film, it was quite an achievement and extremely expensive. It’s currently in a million tiny pieces being turned into firewood i imagine.
Who influence you the most, any favourite artist(s)?
I’m influenced by people that make wonderful things and share them with the world. That’s what I try to do myself. Doesn’t necessarily mean artists. Architects, product designers, scientists…I’m constantly humbled by other peoples achievements. Here’s a few from this weeks reading, watching, listening; Ridley Scott, Rem Koolhaas, Stefan Sagmeister, The XX, Matthew Barney, Taryn Simon, James Lavelle, Spike Jonze, Jarred Diamond.
Living as an artist is sometimes difficult financially, any part time job?
I don’t think about money much other than getting enough to pay for the films I’m trying to make right now. I have enough income to pay rent, buy paint and eat. I don’t need much more. I haven’t had a day job since 1997. Lucky monkey.
Best Gallery in the world? and why?
It hasn’t been built yet. I like the turbine hall of the Tate Modern but not because it’s an art space, it’s just a nice public space. I went to Venice this year, I really liked the Arsenale space but more than that, the satellite shows that were in old Venetian houses. When the artist had really considered the space in his work, like an intervention, that was a lovely thing to see.
Best City to paint outside? and why?
Haven’t painted anywhere other than here. I imagine I’d like to work in NYC though. It has a similar energy to hong Kong. HK is a true 24 hour city and probably the closest environment to the landscape of Blade Runner you can find. That pace really is infectious. I couldn’t work anywhere too peaceful.
What are your plans in the near future? Any upcoming exhibitions?
Stay alive until plans for world domination come to fruition. I have a small show in HK in November and then an enormous installation project in April next year. That’s taking most of my time right now. It’s a 2000 sq meter, 20,000 square ft, space and I’m filling it with large sculptures, cinemas, installations and performance. The project is called Hope and Glory and is all about spectacle and wonder. There’s lots of science fiction and circus references, it’s experiential, something like wandering around a huge film set.