Four For Friday (36)

Art is seen by many as unrelated to the grind of our quotidian lives. It sometimes is. But at other times, it encapsulates the times we live in, makes snide commentary, catalyses change, ignites conversation. This week’s readings are on Art. Not long essays just contemporary happenings.

When Lego refused the Chinese artist Ai WeiWei’s bulk order late last year, citing it “can not approve the use of Legos for political works”, it caused a storm. Lego has now announced its changed policy and will not ask what users intend to use their products for. instead asking customers to write a public disclaimer if the works are displayed. 

In a statement posted on its website on Tuesday, Lego said it used to ask customers ordering bulk purchases for the “thematic purpose” of their project, as it did not want to “actively support or endorse specific agendas”.

“However, those guidelines could result in misunderstandings or be perceived as inconsistent, and the Lego Group has therefore adjusted the guidelines for sales of Lego bricks in very large quantities,” it said.

As of 1 January the company will instead ask that customers make clear the group does not support or endorse their projects, if exhibited in public.

Public art is woven into the fabric of the urban life in London. From now until the 13th of February 2016, various London art galleries are showing a smorgasbord of art.

CONDO is a huge project that sees our very own Arcadia Missa, Carlos/Ishikawa, Chewday’s, Project Native Informant, Southard Reid, Rodeo, Supplement, and The Sunday Painter provide a series of collaborative exhibitions with galleries from Berlin, New York, Shanghai, Amsterdam, Roma, Glasgow, Sao Paulo, Geneva, and Zurich. Participating artists include Ed Fornieles, Korakrit Arunanondchai, Oscar Murillo, Puppies Puppies, Etel Adnan, A.L. Steiner, Pheobe Collings-James, and many, many more names besides.

This large-scale, ambitious initative turns the programme for London’s hippest galleries into a biennial format, of sorts. Expect an exhibition and you’ll be confronted by a bombastic network of some of the world’s hottest young artists being displayed alongside one another. Where one gallery may turn over their space to an international counterpart, others may divide their gallery into parts, showcasing their own work with their collaborative partner.

This isn’t just a hodgepodge rampage through the works of the art world’s next household names. Rather, it’s a delicately constructed, carefully curated selection of art that isn’t just hot right now – but that is destined to remain hot for a long time to come.

It is predicted that 2016 will see more interest in women artists and non-western art, according to Christie’s, the auctioneer.

From 1 April, London’s Saatchi Gallery is shaking things up, celebrating its 30th anniversary with an exhibition of works by 14 female artists, including Alice Anderson and Soheila Sokhanvari — whose Moje Sabz, a taxidermy horse straddling a ‘jesmonite blob’, is pictured at the top of this page.

Elsewhere, Victoria Miro is presenting works by Chantal Joffe, from 22 January to 24 March while, in America, female Abstract Expressionists including Elaine de Kooning, Lee Krasner, Joan Mitchell and Helen Frankenthaler are the stars of Women of Abstract Expressionism, a major show of more than 50 works at the Denver Art Museum that opens in June. From July, Georgia O’Keeffe and her sinister flowers will bloom at Britain’s Tate Modern.

Nigerian art is very much on the radar at the moment — just look at Lagos-based artists Peju Alatise, who works in cloth, or Yusuf Grillo. Galleries such as London’s Jack Bell and October Gallery have taken note, and the success of shows such as Touria El Glaoui’s 1:54 Contemporary African Art Fair (returning to New York in May, and to London in October), is bringing hot new painters to international attention all the time.

A tribute to womanhood, in the form of photographic portraits by Annie Leibovitz, is currently on show in London.

Can you capture the infinitive varieties of womanhood? That’s what Annie Leibovitz’s new exhibition, “Women: New Portraits”, an extension of a project she began with her late partner Susan Sontag in 1999, attempts to achieve.

“Visualising what women look like, who we are, was a very, very important thing to do,” she explained to Forbes. “Men have been portrayed, we understand in art and photographs very well. We understand how men look, but with women haven’t really developed that. Who are we? With my work, I’m very interested in what women do and who we are.”

The mention of women artists reminded me of something shared by novelist Rabih Alameddine last year. “Wife dabbles in art” is the headline about Frida Kahlo. She has been having a laugh ever since. Publication unknown.

Freda Kahlo

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