Between Magnani Rocca and a hard place

Permanent Collection of the Fondazione Magnani Rocca, Parma, Italy

Fondazione Magnani Rocca (Traversetolo-Parma), Villa dei Capolavori, outside © Fondazione Magnani Rocca

So last month I covered Lucio Fontana at Fondazione Magnani Rocca near Parma, Italy, but staying with the venue I wanted to focus on the wider enterprise and its rather extraordinary collection of art and its curatorial history, a true hidden gem so to speak. read here

Lucio Fontana. After the space age

Fondazione Magnani Rocca, Traversetolo, Italy

Lucio Fontana, Spacial concept, 1964. Courtesy of Fondazione Magnani Rocca/Lucio Fontana Foundation

In the midst of the glorious countryside of Emilia-Romagna stands a well-signposted but rather enigmatic compendium of buildings that comprises the physical accommodation for the Magnani Rocca Foundation. The Foundation has accommodated some serious temporary exhibitions in the past, but alas, I had always been seduced away by the stellar art attractions of the Venice Biennale, or Bologna, or Florence… well you get my here

Andreas Gursky at White Cube, Bermondsey

The end of the beginning

Andreas Gursky, Bauhaus, 2020 courtesy the artist/Gagosian 2022

Andreas Gursky’s strikingly large colour prints take a refreshingly real and insightful look at the visible, insidious and pervasive impacts of capitalism and globalisation on the human condition. For me, what is refreshing is that Gursky’s works pull no punches and do not offer a smokescreen of contemporary aesthetics at the expense of truth. read here

The bonfire of humanities

A view into British art education 1960-2020

Barbara Kruger “Untitled (We Don’t Need Another Hero)” (1987). Courtesy of the artist and Sprüth Magers

If I am not mistaken, I thinly retain some grasp a moment of an art that existed before global conceptualism, and an understanding of transatlantic Conceptual Art itself that challenged, amongst other things, the pre-eminence of capitalism, institutionalised culture and ‘approved’ visual aesthetics. I say this having spent more years than I care to remember immersed in the ‘art world’, as a maker, educator, influencer and curator. I am trying to communicate here a gradual dawning of an understanding on my part, regarding the evolution of British art education and the artists that have benefited from it since the 1960’s. My own understanding has taken decades to mature but perhaps has only recently reached a moment of resolution, embodied by the artist Sonia Boyce triumphantly lifting the Golden Lion at the recent 59th Venice Biennale. read here

Mind the gap

Advocating for the Art School of Hard Knocks

Kathe Kollwitz, The Prisoners, 1908, Estate of the artist

In a moment of serious existential threat, it may appear that I am being ostrich-like in proposing to write about art and creativity at this moment in our history. I say ‘our’ advisedly of course, as there are now clearly, and increasingly, a number of versions of history depending on your news input/outlet and state culture. read here


Simon Lee Gallery London

Erin Shirreff, Fig. 10, 2019. Archival pigment print framed: 110.5 x 146.1 x 8.3 cm. Courtesy of the artist/Simon Lee Gallery 2022

This month I steer a path carefully away from my preceding theme of weaponization for some fairly obvious reasons. Instead, I look at the monochromatic, but never monotheistic, delights of the group exhibition Grayscale at Simon Lee Gallery in London. read here

Art and the weaponization of everything

The seismic premise-shift of art beyond view

Colin Self, Guard Dog on a Missile Base, 1965 © The Artist/Tate Gallery

Recently I was terribly impressed to hear some intelligence community pointy-heads (thanks Mark Galeotti), on BBC Radio 4, making an analysis on the writhing mass of engineered subterfuge that now seems to be an accepted part of our daily diet of (mis)information, geopolitics and faux scandal. Scary. read more here

Coral Woodbury. Palimpsest

HackelBury Fine Art, London

Palimpsest, HackelBury Fine Art, London 2021

It is always interesting to have artists brought to one’s attention by arts consultants and promoters, and this month has been no exception, despite the emergence of Omicron, and the arts generally being rather relegated to a minor supporting role, at least in the UK to a backdrop of seemingly incessant political turmoil. read here

Never let a good crisis go to waste 

Arguing for the arts in the 21st Century

Pipilotti Rist retrospective at Kunsthaus Zurich, Worry Will Vanish Horizon, 2014. Audio video installation, music by Anders Guggisberg. Installation view, Hauser & Wirth, London, 2014. Photo: Alex Delfanne, © Courtesy the artist, Hauser & Wirth and Luhring Augustine

This year, as I entered my sixth decade on the planet, I began to wonder if the coincidence of climate, the virus, politics, AI and social media had all conspired to make me feel utterly vulnerable or whether the combined exposure to years of creativity and conscience had finally begun to take their toll on my ability to grasp the hierarchy of things. read here

Paul Vousden. The legacy of the Burkean sublime

Representations of the British landscape in visual art

Paul Vousden, The Burkean Horizontal Sublime (2018) acrylic on board panel © The artist/East Gallery 2021

For this latest autumnal episode, I revert to type by offering some level of scrutiny to an exhibition by an emerging artist and PhD researcher, Paul Vousden on the theme of The contemporary sublime. The title I admit had me both slightly curious and bemused at the same time, cryptic to say the least, still enough to intrigue me to go and visit, mask, hand wash and all. read here