The Ugly American: Saber @ The Outsiders Gallery, London

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The opening of Saber’s The Ugly American had a record attendance level this past Thursday at The Outsiders Gallery in LONDONTOWN. This exhibition includes a large number of ABSTRACT GRAFFITI styles on canvas and wood. It is the gallery’s FIRST show of the NEW YEAR and WELL WORTH THE VISIT!

photo-2Saber’s works were divided between two floors. A total of seven trademark Stars’n’Stripes flags (Old Math Series) on stained wood, depicting the American Flag and the Union Jack, were BEAUTIFULLY displayed on the entrance level of the gallery (images above). Eight more works were displayed in the basement (so don’t forget to go downstairs)! Each work varied in size but stayed within a reasonable measurement for a gallery setting, in contrast to his works that can be seen in an outdoor environment. Yet, the use of spray paint, oils and charcoal to create these different graffiti pieces not only expanded the dimensional constraints but the overall depth of each piece. To some extent these small-scale works are even more beautiful than some of his pieces seen outdoors, as the artist now had the opportunity to use a variety of mediums.

The wood series has a more muted tonality with a more dominant use of the natural wood coloration, while the abstract graffiti canvases have VIVID splashes of colour amongst toned down tones (see images below). It gives the otherwise gray walls of the gallery a more lively conversation.

photo copy 2For Saber, these paintings are meant to give those spectators who know nothing about graffiti an opportunity to look at his work and say, “This is a beautiful painting.”

The title of the show refers to the popularized phrase in William Lederer’s and Eugene Burdick’s 1958 novel, The Ugly American, which revolves around  international perceptions of Americans. Saber states in his Press Release for the show, “It’s a reference to the excesses, and foul nature, that some believe Americans possess. Obviously this has similarities to modern Britain too, but… I come from this culture that’s so self centered, and self-preserved, and I want to expose the cracks in it.” He has been known to go AGAINST many of the OFFICIAL POLICIES in the US, particularly those surrounding the health care system, misuse of public funding, and cuts in the art sector. These themes are some of the key factors dominating his works. It is no wonder this well-received exhibition was brought to London by POPULAR DEMAND.

Do yourself a favour and go check it out!

à plus! MCC (Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram @CultureHeARTs)

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The ART I Saw This Year That I Truly He(ART).

After traveling the world to get my MA in Contemporary Art, I had several opportunities to see shows that I would have not come across normally. In no specific order will I list some of my most incredible ART moments that I truly he(ART).

1. Venice Biennale:942345_10200407645409313_901043945_nDays spent in Venice during the Biennale were NOTHING compared to Art Basel (Miami). In B E A UTIFUL VENIZIA, the Netherlands’ Pavillion stood out with Mark Manders’ Room With Broken Sentence. The sculptural works, which covered 23 years of the artist’s activity, curated by Lorenzo Benedetti, were simple, yet intricate. The works were simple in the sense that colour and subject matter were not shocking. Clay portrait busts and sculptural figures covered the pavilion, but were presented so you were not overwhelmed, and in an almost highly organised manner (image below). Although traditional materials were used such as wood and clay, what was truly fascinating was how the pieces were held together. For example, a clay sculpture of a female hanging off of a wooden table – almost looking like the front of a viking ship – was suspended by a wire string contraption (above). MIND BLOWING.Not only was the pavilion least anticipated by me, but several months later still leaves an impact on me today. 946683_10200407647089355_236647333_nThe Biennale was one of those events that was not about the PARTYING, like Art Basel, Miami Beach. Nor has it ever been thought of in that manner. It was about what each country could bring to the table. Walking for 12 hours a day, for five days straight was 100% worth me wearing crocs by the end of my time in Venice (I kid you not).

But there is one issue that is still on my mind. While some of you may know the main grounds for the Biennale are the Giardini and the Arsenale (where the Encyclopedic Palace was located), there are also some off-site pavilions – which I happened to miss out on. Why may you ask? Because although I was getting my MA in Contemporary Art, my PASSION for Modern Art will always remain. And so I took a trip to Peggy Guggenheim’s Museum. And boy, was that a worthwhile visit. Although Mrs. Guggenheim may have been the Mistress of Modern Art, who cares that she slept with half of the artists that are in her museum?! It is BREATHTAKING. Rothko. Warhol. Kelley. Ernst. Dali. Brancusi. Picasso. The list goes on and on. Need I say more? All I can say is if you ever are to visit the Biennale, make sure you take at least a few hours to visit the Guggenheim as well. Both represent history and culture that should not be missed.

2. Inside Out: The People’s Art Project:1385059_10201083899715248_288651712_nMy dissertation was about to be due, but I had the opportunity to take part in JR’s Inside Out Project in London. Was it worth the time? WITHOUT A DOUBT. Paranoid after hearing lines were hours long to get your portrait taken, to then be wheat-pasted in a designated location, of course was a constant concern. But I prioritised with my art partner in crime (image above), and together we successfully were not only the first in line, but had a great time meeting others alike. People whom too admire JR, and were there for the same reason: to be part of a Project that not only means something to you, as an individual interested in the arts, but to take part in a global movement. This is something I had never done before, and if I ever have the opportunity to do it again, I would not think twice. JR’s staff is incredibly friendly. They don’t make fun of you for practicing your poses, aka taking selfies of yourself on your i-Phones and such to see what pose would look best, because the reality is you only get ONE shot. Literally. And it turns out, after practicing all my poses I winged it while in the photo-booth (image below). But hey, at least I entertained myself for a good two hours practicing facial expressions.                                                                       935974_10201083898995230_1309614194_ntruck3-20131006_141951

3. James Turrell’s Aten Reign (2013):1003170_10200663410643284_1123671427_nLuckily, I was in NYC to see Turrell’s first SOLO show in a New York museum since 1980, at the Guggenheim (WHAT A YEAR FOR THIS ESTABLISHMENT). But actually. Turrell has always focused on light, perception, colour, and space. And what better a place to create a show than in the rotunda designed by renowned architect Frank LLoyd Wright. A few words to describe the experience I would say are: MESMERISING, CAPTIVATING, and SPIRITUAL.

Turrell plays with your senses, primarily sight, having colours fade between different hues and tones. From black, grey, blue, purple, pink, red, orange, colours come and go in a timely manner. Yet time is of no worry when laying below the rotunda absorbing this monumental exhibition.

1070028_10200663411843314_959533646_n1000219_10200663413003343_824181635_n1016934_10200663408203223_182170698_n1000441_10200663406963192_615031321_n          To be able to witness such a show was something I never dreamed of. I have always wanted to go out and see his Roden Crater Project, but to be honest, it is literally in the middle of nowhere. One day I may get around to going to visit it, but for now I am fully satisfied with Aten Reign.

Well my dear followers, that is all for now. More coming to you very soon!

XX, CHC (follow us on Instagram @CultureHeARTs)

Some Highlights from Venice: Ze Peggy Guggenheim Collection… aka AMAZINGGGGGG

Breath taking. Fantastic. Phenomenal. Incredible. Mind-blowing. MODERN ART… There are no other better words to describe some of the highlights I saw at the Peggy Guggenheim this week in Venice – ITALY, duh (p.s don’t forget she slept with a lot of these artists hence her nickname “THE MISTRESS OF MODERN ART”)…

Let the works speak for themselves:

ROTHKO

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PICASSO

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LEGER

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STELLA

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AND… last but NOT least… the most awe-inspiring combination of works that I saw – a Barnett NEWMAN ZIP hung above a Carl ANDRE sculpture. WOW. LOVE. OBSESSED.

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Enjoy. Take it all in. I am still working on it. But actually.

GET INSPIRED. GET CULTURED. He(ART) the ART.

XX, DP