Posts Tagged ‘art gallery london’

Introducing Annette Messager– my new favourite artist. Ok, I’m a little late to the table with this one, since her retrospective at the Hayward Gallery, London, opened at the beginning of March. But I have to say it’s the best exhibition I’ve seen in a long time.

Annette Messager: The Messengers

The striking image used to market the exhibition drew me into the Hayward.

Messager uses all manner of materials – soft toys, stuffed animals, fabrics, photographs and words – to create a feminine, and often strangely beautiful, body of work.


The eyes on this promotional poster turned out to be part of a small series, called My Trophies. Messager covers large-scale photographs of parts of the body in doodles, which are reminiscent of tattoos and children’s book illustrations.

Other works worthy of note:

  • Chimaeras – This work meets you at the door, and looks like a spooky nightmare full of evil fairies and bats with human faces.
  • My Vows (Mes voeux)– I have seen this before at the Centre Pompidou, Paris, and it still impresses me now. Hundreds of photos of body parts are hung together to form a circle. The act of layering up the photos makes the chins, ankles, noses and, yes, boobs, seem like a collection of objects.
  • Casino – A sheet of red fabric waves over glowing, aquatic blobs, as if the sea has been turned into a womb. One of the most original works of art I’ve come across.

Annette Messager: The Messengers is on at the Hayward until Monday 25 May.

Read Adrian Searle’s review in the Guardian

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I discovered some art on Friday afternoon after being turfed off the bus three stops before Waterloo (the driver told us the bus “had to” terminate there, instead of at the station – no explanation). Just under the arches, on London’s South Bank, is Topolski Century, a huge panorama reflecting the life and interests of the Polish artist Feliks Topolski.

The word “FREE” written across the window drew me in, and a friendly receptionist explained that the panorama had been closed for a £3m refurbishment. It has only just reopened to the public.

Inside, a 600 ft-long mural snakes around the walls. According to the exhibition guide, it “contains the iconic historic figures and the significant political and significant events he chronicled in a life spanning decades.”

Feliks Topolski was born in Warsaw in 1907 and in 1933 began a series of journeys around Europe. In 1935, he settled in London and became an official war artist. After the war, he travelled to India, Burma, China, Palestine, Syria and Irap. In 1975, he began recording his observations on the panorama.

While the sheer size of the panorama is impressive, and the atmosphere in the exhibition space suitably dark and sombre, I don’t like Topolski’s style of painting. It looks unfinished, and amateur.

And it’s a shame it isn’t easier to make out some of the characters: Winston Churchill, Bob Dylan, Martin Luther King and the Black Panthers, Chairman Mao. Hundreds of influential figures in history.

However, although I didn’t enjoy Topolski’s style, I would recommend a visit to the exhibition. The artist died in London in 1989, but you can still feel his presence in Topolski Century. As if at any given moment, you might stumble across him putting the finishing touches to a portrait of Elvis .

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London-based artists and galleries are having a lot of fun at the moment. Last week, I spent an evening playing games at the ICA, and so far this week I have seen smiley faced clouds on the South Bank and giant illuminations on the front of the National Gallery.

British artist Stuart Semple released 2,057 smiling clouds into the sky over the South Bank this morning as part of an installation called Happy Cloud. The smiley faces were created using helium, soap and vegetable dye, and puffed into the air every seven seconds between 8am and midday. The 28-year-old artist said:


I just wanted to make a piece of work that would cheer people up a bit. I’m also keen to help people remember that the success of British cultural industries [like the Tate] is relatively new. I believe these cultural industries have been hugely important in the rejuvenation of parts of the city.


Picasso IlluminationsAnd, in Trafalgar Square last night, the entire length of the National Gallery lit up with illuminations of Pablo Picasso’s works, to mark the opening of the Picasso: Challenging the Past exhibition.

Visitors will be able to see the light display every evening from 6pm to 10pm until this Sunday, 1 March.

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