Paulina Olowska – portraits

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Paulina Olowska – Girl in Portobello Road market offers for sale dresses she has made, 2012. Oil on canvas.

Paulina Olowska (1976) grew up in Poland in the days of communism. Today, she still  lives and works in Poland, dividing her time between Krakow and her studio in the lush Polish countryside.
As an artist she explores topics as the woman as an archetype, muse, mother, housewife, model or artist and she sets them against the backdrop of the historical, social and cultural shifts between East and West since the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989.

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Paulina Olowska – Granny, 2012. Oil on canvas.

Olowska has always been profoundly interested in the cultural and social significance of clothing and fashion. Her early paintings and collages were based on commercial images but recently her paintings became more lively.  She plays so freely with the paint, watered down to nearly watercolour, sprayed or liberally pasted on the canvas, it all happens easily in one painting. Seeing her paintings in person is a true delight.

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Paulina Olowska – Nicole de la Marge and the Rolling Stones, Queen, 1964, 2012. Oil on canvas.

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Paulina Olowska – Untitled (for Ulrike Ottinger), 2012. Oil on canvas.

Having studied art in 5 countries; Japan, America, the Netherlands, Portugal and Poland, Olowska continues to exhibit her work internationally. Last year she was shown in Paris, Aachen and Tate Modern-London. Soon she will have a show in Metro Pictures Gallery in NY (Nov 4-Dec 22, 2016). The portraits above are currently on view in “These Strangers… Painting and People” at SMAK, Belgium till 8 Jan 2017.

Read more about Paulina Olowska in this interesting recent article in NYTimes Style Magazine and here.

Next of Kin

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Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”

The Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam has an online collection of fine art. But what is rather genius about them is that they support creatives of all fields by allowing and encouraging the public to download the high-res images of their various collections and create new art with it.
And that’s what Biljana Kroll does. She thankfully uses the richness of these digital scans as a starting point for her designs.

I was immediately charmed by her latest poster series “Next of kin“. In that series she  creates floral collages combining florals from 16th century floral still-life paintings with the abstract finger paintings of her toddler son. How cool is that? I’m always in for mother-child art co-operations!

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Biljana Kroll’s fingerpainting sessions with her toddler son

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Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”

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Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”

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Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”

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Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”

 

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Biljana Kroll – from the poster series “Next of Kin”

See more of Biljana Kroll’s portfolio on her website.

 

Michael Buthe

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Michael Buthe – Ohne Titel, 1987-88. 8 collages on paper (Detail)

Michael Buthe was an unknown artist to me when I entered his retrospective exhibition earlier this year. What a playful bohemian art feast was I to discover!

Buthe is a German artist who died in 1994 at the age of 50. He studied art in Kassel and later in Dusseldorf as a student of Joseph Beuys. Although he exhibited widely in Germany throughout his life and participated in 4 ‘Documenta’ exhibitions, his work seemed to have moved to the back plane but has been re-examined for Buthe’s retrospective (still on view in Munich till 20 November 2016).

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Michael Buthe – Ohne Titel, 1969.

His works are strikingly diverse in medium, he produced textile works, drawings, collages, paintings and sculptures. His fascination for the cosmos, mythology, a shamanistic lifestyle and for a physical art practice that permeates life is what oozes out of his entire body of work. He traveled extensively and spent longer periods of time in Marocco. North African influences are visible in several works.

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Michael Buthe – Le roi est mort, 1974-77. Chair, wax, feathers, wood, buffalo horns, string and glass.

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Michael Buthe – Boulli Afrikaa, from 1972. Various materials (detail).

Buthe’s artistic process is very fluid; he constantly adds and subtracts materials. Some works developed over extended periods of time. Boulli Afrikaa is the title that Buthe gave to a sculpture which began conceptually in 1972 with the shoes and red necklace of a Senegalese musician and from then on was successively filled with other keepsakes and objets trouvés.

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Michael Buthe – Diary, 1977.

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Michael Buthe – Das Tote Meer, 1989. Mixed media on canvas, gold leaf.

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Michael Buthe – Ohne Titel, early 1970s. Collage, photo, gold wrapping ribbon, lid of a can in wax with rubber seal, part of a paint brush, glue, gold bronze on paper on canvas.

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Michael Buthe – Ohne Titel, 1992. Mixed media, assemblage with wood on canvas.

Michael Buthe’s retrospective is still on view in Munich till 20 November 2016.
All pictures in this post were taken by me in the retrospective at SMAK, Ghent.

Maki Na Kamura

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Maki Na Kamura – fGf XXVII, 2011

Watching a painting by Maki Na Kumara is an experience. Is it an abstract image or is it a landscape? Does she uses paint or watercolour? The colours are at times very mute and sometimes quite electric.
When I researched her after seeing some of her work at the Biennale of painting, Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Belgium, I was even more intrigued.

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Maki Na Kamura – fGf X, 2010

Maki Na Kamura comes from Japan, having moved to live in Germany in the mid-1990s. She studied painting under Jörg Immendorff, initially in Frankfurt and later in Dusseldorf. Since 2005 she has been living and working in Berlin.
In 2005, she exhibited a number of works herself. Rather than sending invitation cards or posting details online, the show was announced only via a large advertisement in a Berlin daily newspaper: “IHR SCHÖNSTES BILD HAT SIE VERKAUFT UND IN EINE ANZEIGE VERWANDELT. NUN SPIELT SIE LE COUCOU AUF DEM PIANO…” (She’s sold her best picture and turned it into an advertisement. Now she’ll play “Le Coucou” on the piano …). A grand piano was acquired, on which Na Kamura practised every day in front of her pictures and, as announced, pondered questions like: Is this an exhibition? Or: Am I now part of the art world? This one-week event, referred to in one piece on her show as “Na Kamura’s first discrete entrance into the arena of the Berlin art world, took place in an empty shop at Fasanenstrasse 69, Berlin.

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Maki Na Kamura – fGf XVIII, 2011

Maki Na Kamura’s paintings are, at their core, landscapes. Instead of idealized scenes pulled from nature, she builds her landscapes from abstract washes of color, modernist skyscrapers, and most notably, other paintings. She borrows motifs from the history of pre-Impressionist landscape painting – Hokusai, as well as links to the landscapes of Caspar David Friedrich, Jean-François Millet and Whether Giogione’s “Sleeping Venus” (1510),  or mountains and trees of Hans Bol.

Subtle as they are, you easily miss the references, however. And indeed, this is part of the artist’s game. “I build these histories into my landscapes,” she says. “Surely, [the references] should have a presence, but they shouldn’t be so clear that you get them immediately. The historical references aren’t a template. They’re nothing more than a vocabulary with which I can build new sentences. It’s like a game, an earnest game though. It’s a challenged to the masters.

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Maki Na Kamura – fGf XXVIII, 2011

In Kamura’s series fGf (the ‘fat gold frame’ in question is imagined, not shown, 2010–11) and GiL (‘geometry in landscapes’, 2011–13) – she explores cultural exchange as export/import. Some of her latest landscape paintings that bear titles like “. SS 1”, “. SS 2” etc., an abbreviation for shan shui (mountain water), the traditional Chinese art of landscape painting. Rocks float. Figures float. Or is this just what a viewer with a firm belief in a single horizon wishes to see?

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Maki Na Kamura – .SS4, 2015

In 2012 Maki Na Kamura received the Prix Marcel Broodthaers and in 2013 she was awarded the Falkerot Prize.

Check out her website for more.

 

Earthfold

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Jessica Rankin – Cloud from Silt, 2009. Embroidery on organdy, 113 x 184 cm

This spring the works of artist couple Julie Mehretu (°1970) and Jessica Rankin (°1971) were brought together in the exhibition ‘Earthfold’ at the museum Dhondt-Dhaenens in Belgium. They share the same studio space in New York and both use abstraction as artistic language. How fascinating it was to see how their artistic practice is naturally different but at the same time seems to fit so well together and resulted in collaborative works made for this exhibition.

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Jessica Rankin – Empty Night, 2009. Embroidery on organdy, 274 x 234 cm

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Jessica Rankin – Empty Night, 2009 – Detail

Julie Mehretu is primarily known for her works expressing a metropolitan dynamic. I had admired her work in several exhibitions and museum collections. The work of Jessica Rankin was new to me and such a great discovery. I loved it at first sight. Rankin is born in Australia and she reworks the typical compositions of geographical and astronomical maps in collages, watercolours and embroidered works. As a lover of textile art I fell hard for her embroidery works. She uses organdy as a carrier which gives the work an interesting transparency. The loose threads at the back all add to the composition at the front side. Patterns and meaning stitched together.

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Jessica Rankin – Quis Est Iste Qui Venit, 2012. Embroidery on organdy, 213 x 123 cm

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Jessica Rankin – Quis Est Iste Qui Venit, 2012 – Detail

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Jessica Rankin – Noesis, 2010. Embroidery on organdy, 182 x 182 cm

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Jessica Rankin – Untitled I, 2011. Embroidery on organdy, 150 x 150 cm

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Jessica Rankin – Passage Dusty (Humming), 2007. Embroidery on organdy, 106 x 152 cm

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Jessica Rankin – Termagent (La Fille de Theia), 2014. Embroidery on organdy, 107 x 107 cm

For an artsy web-exhibition of 33 works from Jessica Rankin click here.

All pictures in this post are taken by me in the Earthfold exhibition.

Origami – Sarah Morris

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Sarah Morris – Rose (Origami), 2014. Based on a crease pattern “Rose” by Noboru Miyajima. Household gloss print on canvas 214 x 214 cm.

For her films and paintings she travels the world. Sarah Morris (° 1967, UK) lives and works in New York but filmed in China, Rio de Janeiro and Paris. And moreover she manages to film where no journalist would ever come in. It might help that she never records sound – “it’s art anyway” she explains. Her mission is to search for the truth  behind the glossy appearances in the economical capitals of the world.

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Sarah Morris – Angel (Origami), 2009. Based on a crease pattern “Harpy” by Jason Ku. Household gloss print on canvas 214 x 214 cm.

I discovered her work in the M-Museum in Leuven (Belgium) where a good overview of her work was shown earlier this year. Morris’ paintings, known for their distinct use of color, explore themes like power, style, economy. I like how her research of urban stories is translated into different forms. Her paintings, films and filmposters all seem to convey her insights of power relations into sounds, images, colours, patterns…

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Sarah Morris – Rockhopper (Origami), 2009. Based on a crease pattern “Penguin” by Noboru Miyajima. Household gloss print on canvas 289 x 289 cm.

I particularly liked her painting series Origami and the painted over vintage film posters. Morris used to work as assistant for Jeff Koons but now travels the world as a nomadic urbanist looking for intriguing power games to unravel in her art.
Find out more on her website.

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Sarah Morris – Pulp Fiction, 2013. Ink and gouache on film poster, 157×115 cm.

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Sarah Morris – Il Coltello Nell’Acqua, 2014. Ink and gouache on film poster, 140×100 cm.

Gareth Nyandoro

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Gareth Nyandoro – Auya matissue akachipa akasimba! (cheap and strong toilet tissue mobile shop) 2015. Ink on paper, 220 x 310 cm

Gareth Nyandoro (°1882 Zimbabwe) is fascinated by street life, the energy of public life, loud street vendors… His large works try to catch the hustle and bustle of the local markets in Harare.
Nyandoro recently returned to Harare after a 2 years residency at the Rijksacademie van Beeldende Kunsten in Amsterdam (2014-2015). He represented Zimbabwe at the 56th Venice Biennale.

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Gareth Nyandoro – We dem boyz, 2015. Ink on paper, 153 x 207 cm

During his residency in Amsterdam he further explored his self-discovered technique: he makes cuts in paper, rubs ink or paint into the cuts and tears strips of paper to create a 3D effect. He calls the technique ‘Kuchekacheka’ from the Shona verb ‘cheka’ which means ‘to cut’. His large works resemble bill boards pulled right from the streets.

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Gareth Nyandoro – Mugodhi Gospeling (Gospeling Well) 2016. Ink on paper, mounted on canvas 263 x 222 cm

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Gareth Nyandoro – Series Kuzviitira (Letter), 2015. Ink on paper

He currently continues to work from his studio in Harare.  Thanks to Tiwani Contemporary gallery (London) some of his works were to be discovered at Art Brussels 2016. Nice discovery indeed!