Retrospective of Rachel Whiteread @ Tate Britain

Every time I see Whiteread’s artworks, a famous quote by the mountaineer, George Mallory, pops up in my head – “People ask me, ‘What is the use of climbing Mount Everest?’ And my answer is ‘Because it’s there’.”

Rachel casts because it is there…

And she has been casting a numerous objects in resin, rubber, plaster and concrete over the decades. What she casts is another thing which makes her works most unique and captivating.

Rachel captures what is not there. Or it exists yet it is not tangible nor tactile to us. She traps the emptiness…

Shallow Breath 1988

In this work, she casted the void beneath a bed. The space captured and solidified in plaster and polystyrene represents multiple emotions which are associated with the space under a bed.

In her “Torso” series, she casted the inside of a hot-water bottle…

Again, she was capturing the warmth of a hot-water bottle. The artworks appeared as if she also managed to jog and trap the memories associated with this intimate household object.

Untitled (Amber Mattess) 1992

The cast of the mattress was made from rubber. The manner of the way the artwork leant against the wall resembled how some people abandon a worn-out bedding out on the street. Did she imply discarded intimacy?…

Untitled (Hive) II 2007 – 2008

The interior of a beehive was casted in honey-coloured resin. The visualisation of the space filled with liquid honey.

Ghost Ghost 2008

A doll house was casted in lavender-coloured resin. Behind the semi-transplant mass, details such as a staircase and walls were seen, trapped in a dreamlike manner, and it was hauntingly beautiful.

Sadly her most famous work, House – a temporary public sculpture in East London, no longer exists. I remember how raucously the piece was received by the general public. While some of them, including me, were pro, the rest was aggressively anti and the controversy raged until the artwork was demolished after eleven weeks.

Untitled (Room 101) 2003

This piece reminded me about the aforementioned work. Would the sculpture be spared from being torn down if it were built in a more affluent area of London? Like Hampstead or Chelsea? I couldn’t help wondering.

Stairs 2001

With this piece, which occupied the centre stage of the airy gallery, the artist finally resolved the issue which had been bugging her for eight years. During the BBC programme, Imagine, Rachel was recounting to Alan Yentob how she was left unsatisfied with the staircase of the “House” in 1993. She was not happy with it because the staircase was like a mere imprint on the wall and it did not represent architectural quality she wanted. Then in 1999, opportunity was presented to her in the shape of an ex-Baptist church in Shoreditch which she and her partner bought so they could convert it to a studio/family home. While she rejigged the space, she made the casts of the existing interior, including the staircase.

Untitled (Floor – thirty-six) 2002

In Out-IV 2004 (left), Circa 1610 2012 (right)

A.M. 2011

Due Porte 2016

Line up 2007 – 2008

Drill 2008 (front), Lean 2005 (rear)

While studying her works, the sensations, such as scents, temperatures and touches, I felt while I was making things during my art student days, came back vividly.

Her retrospective show is on until the 21st of January.

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

One Hundred Spaces by Rachel Whiteread @ Tate Britain

“Manifestation of negative space!”

The sentence was repeating in my head over and over while I paced excitedly around the installation “One Hundred Spaces” in the Duveen Gallery, Tate Britain.

The work was by the artist, Rachel Whiteread, who had been my hero since my student days.

“One Hundred Spaces” consisted of one hundred resin cubes, and these cubes were in fact, a direct result of the artist casting the empty space underneath each chair.

Representing what was supposed to be “empty” in such a spectacular way, she pulled our attention to something which we overlook most of the time.

Also, anyone who ever casted resin, including me, will understand how difficult to make these pieces. Synthetic resin – liquid methyl methacrylate to be precise, is notoriously difficult material to work with and can be very unforgiving if it is not done properly.

So each piece was casted in one go as I see no telltale line / lines on any of them…

I could imagine it must have been the hell of trials and errors before finding the right volume and mixture to create the piece of this size.

It is easy to be mesmerised by the end result alone…

However, we appreciate the artworks even more if we are aware of the process the artist experienced and the difficulties she / he overcame…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Midsummer Night’s Fête @ Royal Academy, W1

‘OMG, it’s bright!’ I winced and rummaged around in the bag for a pair of shades as the early evening sunshine whacked my retinas unexpectedly.
Oh yeah, it’s the summer solstice, isn’t it? No wonder it stayed so bright until so late…

A balmy summer evening on Piccadilly…

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At Royal Academy of Arts, I was to rendezvous with my gorgeous girlfriends, Fei & Nicky, so we could enjoy A Midsummer Night’s Fête together. At the main gate, I was given a ticket for one free drink and looked for Fei & Nicky who were supposed to be amongst the lined crowd…

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Thanks to our iPhones, we managed to locate each other. A group photo with glasses in our hands…

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The British summer evening at its best. Mellow & balmy…

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The upstairs galleries were a venue for the 246th Summer Exhibition…

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In the first gallery, we were greeted by the artwork “Cake Man” by Yinka Shonibare…

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The figure, bearing a tower of cakes precariously stuck up on its back, was a representation of greedy bankers in the City and Wall Street, a description by the artist explained.

The next space accommodated large-scale paintings…

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This work was my favourite, BTW…

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The gallery also housed a bar which served gin & tonic as well as Pimms. At the end of the room, there was a stage for live music too…

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A typical scene of the Summer Exhibition at RA. The walls were covered with artworks in all shapes & sizes…

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Some works were romantic & dreamy…

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while others were rather dark and scary…

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Is this how Jerry sees a cheese grate? Oversized utensils in the middle of the gallery…

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Unfortunately, I was rather underwhelmed by James Turrell’s light sculpture. The venue had too much ambient lighting which dulled the intensity of the colours. What a shame…

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A figure of a young girl with her eyes closed stood demurely in the corner of one gallery…

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The work reminded me porcelain dolls by Lladró. The profile was delicate and sensual which made me want to stoke it (but I didn’t, of course)…

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The last room was the smallest and the most intimate space and Fei, Nicky & I unanimously agreed that it was our most favourite…

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The all four walls were adorned with small artworks, resembling a Victorian reception room proudly decorated by a fabulously eccentric old lady…

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Two unicorns in the wood. We all adored this painting / sculpture…

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From this photo, the work looks like a conventional painting but it is in fact a 3-D! It was so romantic! We sighed and then, we mused that it would be wonderful if we could hole ourselves up in a sitting room like this with a bottle of good wine & a box of chocolate. All night long, we would discuss about each one of artworks and it would be such fun!

Amongst the visitors, there were also a few performance artists roaming around the exhibition.

This ghost-like artist scared me the most…

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He carried a pink column like object with him and was shuffling around the galleries quietly.

He stopped time to time, asking visitors to scribble on the column…

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This lady with enormous paper hat was chatting with spectators and handing out lollipop-like paper object…

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I wasn’t sure what this gentleman was up to…

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When we came out of the building eventually, the party in the courtyard was already in full swing – a band, bottles of bubblies, cupcakes & pork pies…

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The hands of my wristwatch indicated that the time was nearly nine o’clock. No wonder we were so hungry…

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So we headed towards Chinatown eagerly, salivating over the thought of soup dumplings at Dumpling Legend…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Candy By Damien Hirst

My internet is still out of action.
I have been trying to resuscitate the modem by repeatedly unplugging and rebooting. At one stage, flashing blue lights came on which made me hover with my fingers crossed. Yet, still no internet connection and hopes were dashed.
I’ve never realised how much I depend upon the internet until I am deprived of it. Apart from a cellular connection through my iPhone, I have no way of updating my blog or checking FB status. Still, it’s far better than nothing. Plus, I am pleased to discover that a WordPress app for iPhone is not at all bad. Besides, the present inconvenience is a perfect dress rehearsal for me blogging from Japan during a 3 weeks stay after Christmas. Once our broadband is reinstated, I would love to check how the posts I have uploaded through the iPhone app look like, especially picture and font size.

Last Tuesday, I was happened to be around Hanover Square. After my hair salon appointment, I was heading towards Liberty and noticed an airy gallery with colourful exhibit…

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Being intrigued, I decided to investigate what it was all about.
The show, titled “Candy”, exhibited paintings by Damien Hirst and installations by Felix Gonzalez-Torres

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The Visual Candy paintings by Damien Hirst…

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While ostensibly abstract, the paintings were depiction of medicinal pills. The series was created as Hirst’s witty riposte to an art critic who dismissed his Spot Paintings as ‘just visual candy’.

The brush strokes were energetic and the colours employed were vibrant. A dynamic style of the paintings was refreshingly different from his earlier works. which were elaborate and somehow clinical.

The installations by Felix Gonzalez-Torres were made of real candies…

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The viewer was invited to eat the candies but no one wasn’t doing so…

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If a ‘Help yourself’ sign was put up next to each work, the audience might have interacted with the work more.

The exhibition will be on until this Saturday. Go and have a candy or two if you are in the area!

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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