Offprint London

I thought it was the Bloomsbury Ephemera Fair which was happening last Sunday, but I had a hunch that the date may be wrong. ‘Can you go to their website and check the date just in case?’ I yelled at Hubbie from the bathroom. 

Alas, my hunch proved right and it turned out that the fair would be held during the next weekend. ‘Oh no, not again!’ I was disappointed because I would miss another one again by not being around London then. 

‘There is another art book fair at Tate Modern today. Do you wanna go?’ Hubbie asked as he munched on our brunch of vegetarian sausages, baked beans and toasts. His suggestion lightened my heart like a ray of sunshine. Oh yeah!

Wow, the Tate’s new extension project had come a long way…

Last time we stood at the same spot was when we were about to visit the Sonia Delaunay exhibition last August. Then, the concrete walls were still exposed to the elements with lines of the brackets,  which resembled dotted lines and were yet to receive cladding. Now, all the walls were armoured with beautiful brickwork which complemented the existing ex-power station. 

Tate Modern’s Turbine Hall…

I can hardly wait to see humongous artworks, alike of The Weather Project or Marsyas, to be displayed in the Turbine Hall again once all the construction works are over.

The fair was occupying the east end of the Turbine Hall…

Offprint London was a book fair which exhibited and sold publications which featured art, photography, design, experimental music, open culture and activism. 

The venue was so full and busy…

The items on sale were mainly books in new or vintage, posters and artworks…

Amongst them, some oddballs, cassette tapes! Are they still in use?!…

I found them at the booth of Parallax. The girls who were manning the stall told me that cassette tapes as the medium of music were making a quiet comeback. I was so intrigued by the idea and the content of the tapes but I had no cassette player. The machine was no longer in production and therefore, it would have to be sourced from secondhand market if I wanted one. Momentarily, I even contemplated about asking my mum if she still owned the player, thinking she must have had one as she was a bit of a hoarder. In the end, I asked for their name card and left the booth even though I was still very much taken by the idea of owning the tapes.

A performance based art project was happening in the middle of the fair…

People watching was another fun of visiting this kind of events…

We did find a few intriguing books but we went home empty-handed. Since we paid for a new boiler and a refurbishment of the bathroom this month, we were rather cash poor, and therefore, on economy drive. *Sigh*

Still, all is not lost…

Georgia O’Keeffe‘s show is on its way! I am so looking forward to it…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Consciously Resting…

Yes, we are. But not for the resumption of normal working days from tomorrow but because of the head cold we picked up from somewhere and somehow during our post-Christmas excursions. Oh dear…

During the holiday, we weren’t holed up in the comfort of our den all the time. Even though Hubbie was taking everything very easy because of the hellish working schedule he had to endure prior to the Christmas time-off, we started to get a bit bored with the Christmas TV and slobbing around in pyjamas. Plus, the post-Christmas weather, except the one on the Boxing Day, was exceptional.
Almost every single day up to the New Year’s Eve was blessed with the gorgeous winter sunshine and a pale-blue sky fanned out above us was without a shred of cloud of any sort. And my usual deal-breaker, gusty wind, was utterly absent. So what more one could want for a perfect day out, we asked.

Last Sunday, we went to see “Conflict Time Photography” at Tate Modern…

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In my opinion, the exhibition was ok but not great. I found some of the works were poignant and educational, however at the same time, also too clinical and monosyllabic.

We were hoping to have late lunch at the gallery but all the eateries within were overflowing with the people with the same idea. So we decided to have a quick look at the bookstore and to find somewhere nearby to eat.

Hmm, this title interests me…

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Ever since I saw the original shark at Mr.Saatchi’s gallery on Boundary Road, Swiss Cottage, a money making mechanism of contemporary art in general really intrigued me. Hopefully, this book will decipher it for me.

At Albion, we were led to a cozy table by the window.
A patten on my latte reminded me the piece from the Matisse’s Cut Outs Exhibition…

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And I had a plate of kedgeree with boiled eggs on top…

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The hue of the kedgeree was as bright and vibrant as a sunflower glowing in the summer sunshine and it made me very happy indeed.

Then came Monday, we were out again into the bright but also very chilly outside for lunch at Rules in Covent Garden.
The Christmas decoration at the restaurant was very pretty, red and green throughout. By the entrance, there was a portrait of Winston Churchill with rows of medallions of some sort…

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We took our coats by the fireplace and ushered to the first floor dining room.
In the upstairs, there was another fireplace and facing it was a fully loaded bar…

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And we sipped a tall glass of Campari orange and nibbled on curry flavoured nuts while waiting for our lunch.

Voilà, our roast beef!

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We skipped starters because we knew the serving of the roast beef would be enormous. And also the dish was accompanied by Gratin Dauphinois. Therefore, If we didn’t square up to it with an ample room in our stomach, the good beef would most likely to be wasted.

Let’s tuck in…

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The roast beef was perfectly cooked and the Yorkshire pudding was buttery and light. However, in my god honest opinion, their side salad was sadly not. It was consisted of strangely limp Chinese cabbage and very little lettuce. Didn’t they receive any grocery delivery because of the Christmas holiday?! It didn’t meet the standard I expected from Rules.
After a cup of very well made cappuccino, we left the restaurant and walked to Charing Cross Road. A walk in a crisp winter air definitely helped our digestion.

Oh, I can’t believe our Christmas holiday is over! So sad that I will have to de-Christmas my windowsill…

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Bye bye 2014 & hello 2015…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Paul Klee @ Tate Modern

Art does not reproduce the visible; rather, it makes visible. – Paul Klee.

I think Paul Klee had the third eye. He saw what the rest of us couldn’t see and painted them to show us what we were missing. Paul Klee was one of my most revered art masters yet most of his works I encountered so far had been a complete enigma to me. Therefore, when I learnt that Tate Modern would host his retrospective show, the first large-scale exhibition in the UK for more than 10 years, I could hardly wait for its arrival.

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I was not at all an art expert.
However, I felt it hugely rewarding and privileged to experience what this genius, Paul Klee, saw through his extraordinary eyes and through his various innovative methods, conveyed a poetic side of ordinary objects. In order to fully appreciate what he had achieved through numerous experiments, I must read his art-theory publications he complied during his teaching career at the Bauhaus. Even though, I hired an audio guide at the exhibition, and the guide itself was fairly informative, I was still left with lots of questions unanswered about his work.

The strongest impression I brought home from the exhibition was his astonishing ability to create a depth and distance by employing a seemingly basic medium. The more I looked into the works, the more I found its surface undulating, warped and deepened.

This work, titled “Opened Mountain” (1914), was produced during his break-through trip to Morocco.
The arrangement draws me further into the depth of surface…

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– Watercolour on paper on cardboard.

In “Organisation” (1918), Klee repeatedly overlaid layer upon layer in order to achieve an imaginary field of distance…

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– Watercolour, gouache, ink & graphite on paper on cardboard.

For “They’re Biting” (1920), he developed a new technique – black oil paint was spread over the canvas and while the paint was still wet, he overlaid a paper and scratched the surface with a metal tipped pen in order to create jagged and blotchy lines…

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– Oil-transfer drawing and watercolour on paper.

A series of works from this period are filled with those humorous caricature like figures as well as letterings and arrows which are incorporated into the drawings.

This “Redgreen and Violet-Yellow Rhythms” (1920) is one of his most iconic works…

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– Oil and ink in cardboard.

Tree like figures are overlapped with coloured squares and rectangles which resembles a wintery landscape being viewed through a coloured stained glass panel.

In the period during Klee produced “Ripening Growth” (1921), the works were dominated with tonal graduation experiment…

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– Water colour and graphite on paper on cardboard.

Again, the technique appears basic and even rudimentary, yet, the execution is meticulous and creates a magical depth on the canvas.

Throughout his painting career, a certain symbol, such as an arrow, appears every now and then.
In “Separation in the Evening” (1922), there are two arrows pointing at each other. What are they for? The purpose of it is not entirely obvious…

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– Watercolour and graphite on paper on cardboard.

In “A Young Lady’s Adventure” (1922), a red arrow points at the figure in the middle…

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– Pen and ink and watercolour on paper.

What do these letters and arrows in “Analysis of Diverse Perversities” (1922) really mean?…

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– China ink and watercolour on paper on cardboard.

On this work, “Battle Scene from the Comic-Fantastic Opera, The Seafarer” (1923), humorous figures are superimposed on the tonally graduated background, creating a charming 3-D like effect…

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– Oil, graphite, watercolour and gouache on paper, bordered with watercolour, ink and gouache on cardboard.

The size of his works are definitely on the modest side whereby the level of detailing he achieved on this painting, “Structural II” (1924) is awe-inspiring…

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– Watercolour and tempera on chalk-primed paper, with gouache and ink border on cardboard.

In this work, “Sacred Islands” – (1926), he created a labyrinth like landscape which draws its viewer to a multiple directions…

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– Ink and watercolour on paper on board.

Klee must have been gifted with an incredible eye sight as well as nimble fingers. The drawing is meticulously inked with astonishing accuracy. The detailing on this drawing is simply beyond my comprehension.

Klee kept a fish rank at home. Therefore, fish in all sizes and colours graced his numerous works throughout the exhibition. One fine example is “Around the Fish” (1926)…

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– Oil and tempera on canvas on cardboard.

In “Castle and Sun” (1928), his use of key colour provides a reference point from where I can feel an expansion of the canvas…

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– Oil-colour on canvas on stretcher.

By a playful manner of subdividing the surface as well as a subtle use of the colour, “Town Castle Kr.” (1932) demonstrates how the illusion of undulation can be achieved…

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– Oil on primed cardboard.

And the effect was repeated again with this work, “Fire at Full Moon” (1933)…

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– Mixed technique on canvas.

While bright key colours, yellow and red, elevate themselves on the surface, more muted colours subtly suggest the unevenness of the terrain.

The period Paul Klee created his vast catalogue of works was far from calm. It was between two great wars and its ideological as well as political environment were changing dramatically. Being a German Jew and the Nazi branded his work as degenerate, his life toward its premature end was not at all peaceful. Yet, the works just before his death, “Rich Harbour” (1938) appears bolder and even defiant…

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– Oil and coloured paste on drawing paper on burlap.

I wonder how Klee’s work would have progressed if the illness and the political suppression by the Nazi did not occur. He could have produced a prodigious amount of works. Hubbie and I left the exhibition, utterly enchanted by Paul Klee’s poetic interpretation of the world. We must say a big thank you to his third eye…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Saturday Night @ Tate Modern, Bankside

Last Saturday, we visited Tate Modern for dinner and the Paul Klee‘s exhibition. I was nearly shaking off my cold and itching to go out. Therefore, Hubbie booked the tickets on internet and off we went.

Tate Modern has been my most favourite art gallery ever since it opened its door to the public in 2000. I especially love the architecture. The old Bankside power station was remodelled and refitted by a talented architectural duo, Jacques Herzog and Pierre de Meuron in order to accommodate a vast collection of modern art which was stored in the Tate’s warehouse because of the lack of suitable space…

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A mass of brickwork with an equally imposing chimney looms above the Thames. A volume of its brickwork and colossal weight is unarguable. It appears impregnable and impervious to any external assault. Yet, its footing, where the building meets the ground, is punctuated with narrow glazed slits here and there. These juxtapositions of heavy vs light, density vs weightlessness and opaque vs transparent, fuel my fascination and imagination every time I visit the gallery. For me, the charm of Tate Modern is all about this thought-provoking paradox which is dotted around all over the complex, including their art collection.
Another famous architectural face of Bankside is the Millennium Bridge by Sir Norman Foster, which connects the foreground of the galley with City of London. Approaching Tate Modern via the footbridge must be the most spectacular and rewarding way for many visitors. However, the bridge itself doesn’t excite me as much as the gallery does. Do you know why? Yes, the bridge looks great. However, it doesn’t inspire nor intrigue me. It’s a marvel of British engineering but not a piece of art which initiates any philosophical debate. The bridge could have won my praise if the design of the bridge, especially the Bankside end, was integrated to Tate Modern’s forecourt seamlessly. Instead of a cumbersome footing with zigzagging lamps, why the bridge could not morph into a part of the landscape? The effect would have been so much more elegant and magical. Well, the landscaping between the bridge and the gallery was somehow awkward from the beginning anyway. Maybe there was some artistic disagreement between three great architects?

Our entry to the Paul Klee exhibition was from 19:30, therefore, we decided to have dinner first…

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Tate Cafe on the ground floor was fairly busy but their service was brisk and efficient.
I pondered between a burger or fish & chips, but in the end, fish & chips won me over…

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The battering encasing the fish was so crisp and moreish. And the potato was fried to its perfection. Their mushy peas was minty and refreshing.

For dessert, we shared a slice of coconut meringue Swiss roll with red berry compote…

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Our first two choices, trifle and cheese cake, were sold out, therefore, we didn’t expect much from our third choice. But oh my! We were betrayed in a good way. The cake was moist, fluffy and divine. And the berry compote added perfect zinginess to otherwise delicate texture of the cake.

After dinner, we browsed around a bookshop on the lower ground floor…

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There were more than a few coffee table books I want to add to my Christmas wish list…

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Then, we headed to the exhibition on the second floor via escalator…

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For me, the escalator ride from the lower ground level to the second floor gallery level is one of the best Tate Modern experiences.

Paul Klee, here we come…

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The exhibition was wonderful.
And I shall definitely review it properly in a few days time.

We left the gallery, thoroughly satisfied and excited…

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The new extension of the gallery will be completed by 2015. I can hardly contain a huge expectation I have towards this exciting project…

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Will it be as awe-inspiring as the existing Turbine Hall? We will have to wait and see for another 2 years. I shall keep on reporting any progress at the site in future…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

Ibrahim El-Salahi @ Tate Modern

Last sunday, the weather looked rather ominous – mean looking dark clouds were gathering above us and winds were increasing its strength by the minute.
With umbrellas tucked under our armpits, we were trudging towards Tate Modern, Bankside while being whipped up by the gale from all sides which channelled itself between a new extension of Tate Modern and the next door all-glazed extremely ugly Yuppie apartment blocks.

The design by Herzog & de Meuron stood against the grey sky, resembling a giant 3D jigsaw puzzle…

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Hubbie and I were there for the exhibition of Ibrahim El-Salahi.

Mr.El-Salahi is a native Sudanese artist who is a major contributor to the modernist movements in Africa and the Arab worlds. He studied art in Sudan and UK.
After Sudan was freed from British colonial rule, he returned to his motherland and joined a collective movements which aimed to define a shared Sudanese cultural identity.
During the ’60s, he travelled around Sudan extensively and established his own style in which he merged his academic training in UK with traditional Sudanese art & craft practices…

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In El-Salahi’s early masterpieces, figures with African ceremonial masks are surrounded by Islamic motifs such as a crescent moon and calligraphy from Quran…

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In another works, multiple layers of oil & enamel paint mixture is employed to create a pottery-like texture – the surface undulates with the build-up of the pigments…

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He was wrongly imprisoned, together with the Sudan’s leading intellectuals, after the failed military coup of 1975…

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The experience affected him deeply and his style transformed from early colourful & experimental forms to more somber black & white ink drawings.

In his recent interview, El-Salahi explained how his works would start spontaneously – no scenario or no predetermined size and not even any title.
His gentle but precise pen strokes would steadily fill the paper until the image outgrew a given space. Then, he would move on to the next sheet of paper and so on. The work would keep on growing in size until he felt the picture was complete…

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He explained about this particular method of working as the result of a less generous workspace in his studio at Doha, Qatar, after his release from prison.

Since 1998, he moved his residence to Oxford, UK permanently.
This work is titled “The Tree”…

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The bold colours are infilled with delicate pen strokes.
It resembles a decaying ancient fabric or a mystical genetic print. The beauty of the work takes my breath away.

The lush green of the British countryside must have stimulated El-Salahi’s appetite for colours.
His works start to become colourful again…

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By visiting the exhibition, I had a rare opportunity to experience the artist’s unique journey. The journey which took more than a few unexpected turns beyond his control.
His tireless passion towards his artistic expression must have been a core strength which he relied upon during the darkest part of his journey. Instead of being made bitter by the unwarranted cruelty he received, he absorbed it as nourishment to grow and reach out to the sky like a haraza tree along the Nile in Sudan.

By the way, this weekend will be the last chance to view this extraordinarily African artist’s retrospective.
So don’t miss out or you may regret it otherwise…

Kaori by Kaori Okumura

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