Friday November 22 2013
On the occasion of this exhibition, Opera Gallery has carefully curated a selection of just under thirty dream-like paintings by André Brasilier, including his most notable themes and illustrating his love for nature, music, the human and life in general.
André Brasilier, whose parents were also painters, was born in 1929 in Saumur, France. From an early age, he showed natural inclination for painting and he entered the Ecole des Beaux-Arts at the age of 20.
In 1953, aged only 23, Brasilier won the Premier Grand Prix de Rome of painting. He had his first retrospective of 100 artworks from 1950-1980 at the Château de Chenonceau in 1980 and a retrospective exhibition at the Musée Picasso-Château Grimaldi in Antibes (French Riviera) in 1988.
Over the years he held numerous exhibitions all over the world: France, Germany, Japan, Switzerland, Canada, United States, Russia, The Netherlands, Korea, Hong Kong… Notably, he was honoured by a retrospective exhibition of his work at the State Hermitage Museum in Saint Petersburg, Russia in 2005 and at the Museum Haus Ludwig für Kunstausstellungen Saarlouis in Germany in 2007.
Brasilier’s works often feature themes and motifs of horses, nature, music and women. Set against the most simplistic and romantic backgrounds, he transports us easily into surreal landscapes, which lighten the soul with dreamy infusions of figures set in simplicity of colours, shape and form. In an intimate communion with nature, he draws his inspiration from its language, sounds and colours, thus revealing the natural beauty of our surroundings.
Although Brasilier bases his painting on reality, he is not a realistic painter, as once explained by Bernard de Montgolfier, Honorary Chief Curator, The Ville de Paris Heritage: "One could say that Brasilier has a very personal way of being non-figurative within figuration". Indeed, he strives to make the invisible visible again, opening the viewers’ eyes upon the non-obvious, in a relentless quest for intimate and cohesive humanism.
Horses are very important subjects of Brasilier’s body of work. “I really like this animal, as much for its beauty, as for the harmony that it has with nature. In nature, the horse gives a sense of scale. It provides interesting proportions with the sea and the sky, for example. I love life, and horses, with their forms and their ardour, delight and intrigue me.”, he says.
Similarly, music seems to be a central theme of his paintings: “I love, above all, life, and in all of its forms. Music is one of these forms that I especially appreciate. My first exhibition in 1959 was entitled “Autour de la musique” (“About Music”). Since then, I’ve always liked to work with this theme. All is beautiful in music, the discipline of the orchestra, the harmony of a quartet…”
Finally, the human form is very present in Brasilier’s work, often under the shape of women. About this subject, he says: “For me, we measure the importance of a painter by his or her abilities at portraying this human form. Look at what point the human “figure” has allowed painters like Picasso, de Staël, or Bacon to go beyond their contemporaries.”
Friday October 18 2013
Ways of Seeing at Opera Gallery London
Over the past decade captivating artist Joe Black has enjoyed a steady rise to fame on the London art scene and is consistently praised for his thought-provoking yet meticulous portraits that take centre stage at Opera Gallery London. From October 18th Joe Black unveils his debut solo exhibition ‘Ways of Seeing’ at the Opera Gallery London to coincide with the Frieze Art Fair.
With admirers including Bono, Noel Gallagher, Liam Howlett, Russell Brand, Noel Fielding, Joséphine de La Baume and Jimmy Carr, Black’s latest exhibition explores the way we see pictures by making art work that is both seen as a whole and as a collection of small united parts. His ambition is for the audience to experience the striking scale and the intricate detail at once. The exhibition ‘Ways of Seeing’ emphasises the strong importance of seeing Joe Black’s work close-up and far away.
“'Up close' and 'far way'” - Joe Black
Joe’s choice of imagery is carefully selected from popular culture so it can be easily recognised. An example of this is “Workers of the World, Unite!” a portrait of Mao Zedong, made from 9,000 hand-painted toy soldiers. However, in Joe Black’s portrayal of the icon, the merging of old and new techniques present the subject in a new context.
Joe Black does this by selecting small common objects, such as; test tubes, toy soldiers and badges to pay tribute to the subject. Looking closer, the object emerges and gives great expression and personality to the subject. This is perfectly executed in “Star”, using handpainted chess pieces to signify the Soviet dictator, Joseph Stalin, as a player who out manoeuvred his political opponents to become a super power. Through his time-intensive technique Joe Black has created an alternative form of pixelation, assembled entirely by hand.
"Joe Black is an artist that all members of the public can enjoy. Not a single person who sees one of his works can remain indifferent to his intricate meticulous technique and to the perfection that lies within each of his artworks! "- Jean-David Malat, Director and curator of Opera Gallery London
The objects incorporated in each portrait signify hidden meanings within the work and although Joe Black has his own ideologies, whether personal, political or social, his work is often tongue in cheek and playful but left open to interpretation of his audience.
About The Artist
Born in 1973, Joe Black studied as a sculptor before moving on to illustration, working for many years as a successful commercial artist, before becoming a full time fine artist. Joe Black now focuses solely on his personal body of art.
Ways of Seeing at Opera Gallery London from October 18th to November 19th, 2013
Friday June 21 2013
The many faces of David Bowie
Parallel to the major exhibition "David Bowie is" at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, Opera Gallery London will unveil a collection of David Bowie-inspired art for their summer exhibition. The highly anticipated group show will offer a contemporary vision of ‘Bowie Mania’ with one-off masterpieces including tributes from some of today’s leading contemporary and street artists, including; Mr. Brainwash, Joe Black, Eduardo Guelfenbein, Nick Gentry, Marco Lodola and The London Police.
The Many Faces of Bowie will pay homage to the iconic rock star with artwork featuring a delicious juxtaposition of styles showcasing each artist’s unique interpretation of David Bowie’s unprecedented influence and inspiration on their lives.
Bowie’s alter ego Ziggy Stardust, will be immortalised in ‘Bowie Triptych’ by celebrity and ‘rebel of the street art world’ Mr. Brainwash, known for depicting faces of Jay-Z and Kate Moss in his signature spray paint works.
Similarly installation artist Marco Lodola will pay his respect to Bowie using Ziggy Stardust as an inspiration for his mixed media and light box sculpture titled ‘Aladdin’.
"David Bowie is an incredible ‘icon’; a term to be understood as an idol but also in the ancient Greek notion of eikōn meaning "image" or even religious work of art. It is clear to see that he has influenced many lives, and every artist involved was proud to create a piece in his honour” says Jean-David Malat, Director Opera Gallery London.
Additional highlights include Eduardo Guelfenbein’s large and striking abstract acrylic on canvas, honouring Bowie with mesmerising brush strokes exposing the hidden face of the icon when admired from afar.
And London’s very own Joe Black created an outstanding portrait of the singer made out of over 9,000 painted test tubes. A 3-dimensional artwork that will excite and surprise the viewers’ eyes.
The exhibition will showcase a variety of mediums ranging from painting and sculptures to multimedia art works all dedicated to British rock icon David Bowie.
Full List of Artists Participating Include: Lita Cabellut, David Mach, Joe Black, C215, The London Police, Mac1, Jimmy C, Kid Zoom, Mr. Brainwash, Kan (Da Mental Vaporz), Juan Barletta, Hisham Echafaki, Jef Aerosol, DFace, Marco Lodola, André Monet, Nick Gentry, Zoobs, Eduardo Guelfenbein, Paul Alexis, Jean-Paul Donadini, Richard Young.
Friday April 26 2013
Peace from the bottom of my art
An exhibition featuring the finest Iranian artists
April 26th to May 9th 2013
From the 26th April, Opera Gallery London presents the group exhibition of Iranian art ‘Peace from the Bottom of My Art’ that brings together a prominent selection of contemporary and internationally renowned Middle Eastern artists including; Parviz Tanavoli, Koorosh Shishegaran, Nasrollah Afjei and Ahmad Morshedloo.
This extraordinary show offers an insight into each of the artist’s interpretation of Peace, with selected works of art from a variety of established artists as well as upcoming artists such as Mojtaba Ramzi, Negar Varasteh and Shima Esfandyari.
The showcase will include highlights from Farsad Labbauf whose work is in the prestige collections of Saatchi Gallery and the Walt Disney Company Foundation to iconic Iranian abstract artist, Koorosh Shishegaran, known for his ‘life like’ three-dimensional work and for being one of the most expressive yet emotive artists of the contemporary Iranian art movement. Shishegaran will be displaying some new paintings, which will be revealed at the private view.
Internationally renowned sculptor Parviz Tanavoli whose works have been displayed at museums and venues across globe including The British Museum, New York Metropolitan Museum and Seoul Olympic Park, will honour the showcase by creating a limited edition print for the private view which will be signed and sold exclusively at Opera Gallery London.
The exhibition will showcase a variety of mediums ranging from photography, sculpture, paint and installations all encompassing a common theme with Peace at the heart of them.
Wednesday February 13 2013
An exhibition featuring the finest artists of the contemporary art movement
Starting from the 13th February 2013, Opera Gallery London presents Contemporary Emotions; an exceptional exhibition featuring the finest artists of the contemporary art scene, including; Andy Warhol, Marc
Quinn, Arman, Yayoi Kusama; and Fernando Botero. The remarkable show provides a carefully selected display of intriguing and powerful artwork from artists that have engaged our society, politics and
culture within their work; and evoked intense emotion in all of those who view their masterpieces.
For a limited time Opera Gallery London is offering an exclusive peek at some of the extraordinary work by some of the finest Contemporary artists in the market. With highlights including London’s own Anish Kapoor; an artist having created landmarks all over the world and most recently The Orbit Tower to iconic Mel Ramos who was one of the pioneers of the Pop-Art movement.
From works by the innovative Pierre Soulages, ‘the painter of black’, to Neo-Pop and Graffiti artist Keith Haring who’s artwork originally adorned subway billboards in New York, Contemporary Emotions will showcase an incredible array of work from across the genres.
The exhibition will showcase a variety of mediums ranging from photography, to sculpture, to installations and painting.
Friday November 9 2012
Opera Gallery London and ANV in association with Butterfly present
An urban and street art installation paying tribute to the Masters of the history of art
Opera Gallery London and ANV in association with Butterfly are pleased to present URBAN MASTERS - an alternative art installation giving street and urban artists a chance to render homage to the masters, masterpieces and muses that have influenced their journey through the world of art and played a part in who they are nowadays.
URBAN MASTERS is an intense urban display in a former Victorian factory in London’s trendy yet subversive Shoreditch area. It will present the works of 33 of the world’s best street artists of the moment: Rone (AUS), Risk (US), Shepard Fairey (US), ROA (BE), Mentalgassi (DE), Sweet Toof (UK), Lek (FR), Gris1 (FR), Kan (FR) to name a few....
Opera Gallery is renowned for proposing very high standard exhibitions of street and urban art. This will be the biggest urban and street art exhibition yet hosted by Opera Gallery in London, and most certainly one of the most important events on the London street art scene this year.
With a broad scope of contemporary urban and street artworks and installations, URBAN MASTERS attempts to capture the feelings and experience of the artists who were invited to give their personal interpretation on the marks left by art history-makers.
The exhibition will also offer attendees a unique opportunity to meet some of the artists involved as there will be a poster / book signing featuring many of the aforementioned artists on the day of the public opening of the show: Friday 9th November 2012, 11am-7pm.
“Art is about passing on references and creativeness. Most people know that Banksy and Blek Le Rat, founding fathers of stencil art, have inspired a generation of young contemporary urban and street artists - making street art one of the most successful genres of the century. But it is time we give this new generation a say and let them tell us their story, tell us who inspired them personally and what made them the artists they are now”. Jean-David Malat, Director of Opera Gallery London, on the concept behind URBAN MASTERS.
“Urban Masters is a rare opportunity to view in one place works by extraordinary artists from literally all over the world, from Latin America, US, Europe and Australia. Coming from the graffiti and street art scene, these artists pay tribute and reinterpret the Masters that inspired them, with their own skills and techniques. Art regenerates itself with breathtaking results”. Butterfly.
“Street art matters. By taking their art to the most public of all spaces - the streets - artists build bridges between them and their community and therefore help cement an art-aware society. Moreover, they bring new perspectives upon the urban architecture and landscape and thus help reinvent a city to house this art conscious society”. Florie-Anne Mondoloni, Opera Gallery London.
"By definition anything visionary, ground breaking or novel involves risk. Facing and handling these risks opens the door to achieving true creative innovation and personal fulfilment in art or in business," explains R. Matthew Fairfield, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of ANV, "As underwriters who mitigate risks on a daily basis, we see art and artists who take creative risk as perfect examples of what is possible when risk and fear can be conquered"
"Art provides a window into how a culture perceives itself and the soul of its people. ANV as an organisation is deeply respectful of local business cultures and customs. Supporting new views and unique perspectives is how we see our work as insurers and its how we see the work of the 'Urban Masters' featured in the exhibition." adds Gerard van Loon, Chief Underwriting Officer at ANV.
Friday October 12 2012
Portrait of Human Knowledge by Lita Cabellut
Rising from the impoverished Spanish streets to evolve into one of the most celebrated and critically acclaimed artists of our time; her style is said to represent the ‘Souls of Humanity’.
The incredible Lita Cabellut returns to Opera Gallery London as you have never seen her before, presenting:
“A portrait of human knowledge” 11 October - 31 October
Lita Cabellut hit London last year with a debut show which captured and blew away all who stumbled across her canvasses on the walls of Opera Gallery London. The subject: Frida Kahlo; one of the most
darkly influential icons of the 20th century; a figurehead for Mexican culture and for the feminist
movement. Cabellut offered up a series of mindblowing paintings which truly captured the human
emotion of the muse, haunting, powerful and raw, acting as a window into the essence of the artist.
Now Lita returns to London with her latest and no-less dramatic exhibition: “A portrait of human knowledge”. This collection of works, debuting in the Capital, utilises her signature style; reflecting human emotion through the strokes on the canvas. Cabellut dramatically depicts some of the most influential icons of ‘knowledge’ from the past 150 years. Ranging from Stravinsky, Nureyev, Marie Curie, Billy Holiday, Garcia Lorca, Rudolf Steiner to Sigmund Freud. Lita’s ever-communicative and recognizable styleknown as the ‘Cabellut palette’- a contemporary variation of the fresco technique- ensures that these portraits will once again represent the beholder with ‘A voyage through the eyes of the figure’ Robert C.Morgan.
Born into a poor Gypsy environment, Spanish artist Lita Cabellut began her life on the streets of Barcelona. After 13 years enduring a grinding existence Lita was adopted. This new chapter opened the young Lita to her love affair with the arts where she discovered the Prado museum aged 13 and became self-confessedly ‘amorous’ with Goya, Velazquez, Ribera and Rembrandt, famously quoted saying:
“I married very young, my first marriage was with the art”.
“When I finish a painting and I sit down alone to re-examine and rediscover what has come out of my soul, I always read in the canvas, through the eyes, the mouth, the gestures, the colors, the lines fighting or kissing, a poem." Lita Cabellut
About the artist…
After four years of classical training, Lita opened her first exhibition in the Town Hall of Masnou, Barcelona at the tender age of seventeen. At just 19 Lita left her native Spain to study at the Rietveld Academy in Amsterdam, Netherlands which is where she remains today to live and work. Cabellut is renowned for her unique portraits, depicting human emotion through the canvas; translating feeling into a phenomenal portrayal of the subject.
Her unique technique imprints real emotion within her painting’s which gives a depth to her characters. So much so that critics have stated that: “When we look at the paintings of Lita Cabellut, we experience ourselves”
Friday May 25 2012
Who is KOOROSH SHISHEGARAN?
Portrait of an Iranian abstract painter…
KOOROSH SHISHEGARAN was born in Qazvin in 1944, but then moved to Tehran with his family. He finished elementary school in Tehran and then was admitted to the School of Fine Arts and continued his academic studies at the Faculty of Decorative Arts - Art University - receiving a BFA in Interior Design. His experiment in art is not confined to the style he uses in creating paintings today. What follows is a cursory look at Koorosh Shishegaran’s artistic career.
Shishegaran’s ability to humanize abstraction and bring three dimensions into his canvases and through the brush strokes and colours, make him one of the most expressive and emotive artists of the contemporary Iranian art movement.
In the primal dialectic of being and nothingness, solid and void, mind and body, the movement and
momentum of his eternal spirals flow along the vortices of invisible objects as they whirl free in liquid space.
Light and shadow pour through the slipstream ravelling and unravelling into snatched flashes of threedimensional form. A perpetual tension, a taut dualism, an alchemical turn of reality’s wheel that crystallizes again and again into a mesmerizing, shape shifting whole.
The different stages of his artistic life…
At this stage he displayed more and more of his artworks to make people get aquatinted with his works.
REPERFORMANCE OF THE ARTWORKS OF GREAT ARTISTS
He reproduced the works of great artists in his own style and technique.
He believes that whatever exists in the world is a form of art. So, he makes a poster ofone of the streets in Tehran and makespeople think that this street is a piece of art.
He used the post as an instrument to communicate with people. He used tosend his artworks to people, institutions and other art.
He created political and social posters without assuming the recommenders for conveying a message to people. Most of these posters were put on the walls, tists by post.
ART FOR REPRODUCTION
At this stage he used his designs and works for producing applied things like: lamp, bookcase, table, chair, wardrobe and ...
KOOROSH SHISHEGARAN said…
“We live in complex times: of breathlessness and excitement, of ties and confusions, of contradictions and mysteries, of disturbances and breakneck speed; of colour, exploding wonders and novelties; in short, a complicated world for today’s man. I have been trying to find a style or language expressive of the modern era. One that can be seen as pure painting yet rooted in my own country’s art and culture.”
“There are many untold mysteries within a portrait. Once told, they project a different world far more interesting than the one apparent to us. The artist who can detach himself from the appearance will find a unique way of projecting his apprehensions.”
“I am a painter and communicate with line, point, colour, and image.”
Friday April 27 2012
Blek le Rat
The founding father of street art returns to the UK for an exclusive exhibition.
27th April - 18th May
WHO IS BLEK LE RAT?
Meet the Father of Stencil Art…
Blek Le Rat (Xavier Prou) was born in Paris in 1951. He is a grand master of street art, and considered by many to be the originator of stencil graffiti. Blek has been adorning the streets of Paris with his hugely original and intelligent artwork since the early eighties, and he has been a massive influence on today’s graffiti and guerrilla art movements.
He started decorating the streets of Paris in 1981 with a rat stencil, hoping to create an invasion of rats “the only free animal in the city”, while creating a style that would suit Paris and not copy the American style. His street name is said to originate from a childhood cartoon “Blek Le Roc”, also using “rat” as an anagram for “art”.
Blek Le Rat’s real identity was revealed in 1991 when he was arrested while stenciling a replica of the Caravaggio’s “Madonna and Child”. He stopped painting on walls after that, and after he was fined for ten years worth of graffiti and threatened that he would face jail if caught again. He continues to produce work in the form of posters and canvases.
Considered to be one of the pioneers of Stencil art, Blek Le Rat was invited by the Tate Modern to be part of a talk about the Tate’s street art exhibition in 2008. The same year, the Sunday Times referred to him as “The Rat who gave birth to Banksy” (Januszczak Waldemar, 8 June 2008). His social and political works have had a great influence on today's graffiti art and “guerilla art” movements. Beyond France and England, Blek Le Rat is now part of the international art scene. He lives in France with his wife and teenage son.
THE BANKSY POLEMIC
French stencil artist vs. British graffiti hero…
In 2008, British Graffiti artist Banksy acknowledged Blek Le Rat’s influence, stating this now famous sentence: "every time I think I've painted something slightly original, I find out that Blek Le Rat has done it as well, only twenty years earlier" (first reported by Coan Lee, 13 June 2008, Daily Mail).
In the past, the two have expressed mutual desire for collaboration and, indeed, in 2011 Blek Le Rat was witnessed adding to one of Banksy’s murals in San Francisco.
When some claimed that Banksy had copied Blek Le Rat’s work, the latter disagreed and said: “people say he copies me, but I don’t think so. I’m the old man, he’s the new kid, and if I’m an inspiration to an artist that good, I love it.”
However, the polemic was reborn when, in the documentary Graffiti Wars, Blek was filmed saying: "When I see Banksy making a man with a child or Banksy making rats, of course I see immediately where he takes the idea. I do feel angry. When you’re an artist you use your own techniques. It’s difficult to find a technique and style in art so when you have a style and you see someone else is taking it and reproducing it, you don’t like that. I’m not sure about his integrity. Maybe he has to show his face now and show what kind of guy he is."
OPERA GALLERY AND BLEK LE RAT
Representing the artist for over 3 years...
Opera Gallery is a global network of 12 galleries. The London branch opened in 2005, and is located in the heart of London’s luxuriously Mayfair. In 2008, while Blek Le Rat was in London for his talk at Tate, Opera Gallery Director and Chairman Jean-David Malat and Gilles Dyan met him and Blek showed enough trust and faith in them to provide the gallery with some pieces. This is how their collaboration started, and 3 years later the relationship between the international gallery and the artist has never been stronger: he is shown in all 12 galleries around the world. He is also one of Opera Gallery’s most successful artists, and this is remarkable in every country where the gallery is present: Opera Gallery’s clients and public know Blek Le Rat’s work and know him as the Father of street art.
Nowadays, it appears absolutely undeniable that Blek Le Rat has gained the recognition that he deserves after decades of unstinting devotion to the arts in the streets.
Blek Le Rat said…
“As an artist I do not think that we truly invent anything at this point. For me it is more about focusing on a memory that I may have had, than actually inventing anything. People recreate what they have seen but with their own vision. I do not believe in the painter who says I invent this or that. It does not exist anymore. It is just how you do it that makes it different than others. I can say I have taken inspiration from many places in my life.”
“I really believe the graffiti and street art movement is the most important movement in art ever. There is not a city in the world without graffiti now. It has never happened like this with the amount of people involved ever before. Not even in pop art, which was a big movement. Art should be saved for the future generations, which is why I think it is important for the gallery end to support street art, if for nothing else than for history.”
Friday February 17 2012
Opera Gallery London proudly presents an exhibition of the finest Masters of Contemporary Art.
An exceptional group exhibition
17th February - 1st March 2012
Exhibiting some of the most important international artists of the Contemporary Art world, this exhibition presents a number of well-known contemporary artists from fields ranging across sculpture, abstract painting to street art, with an overall value over £20 million.
WHY BRINGING THESE ARTISTS TOGETHER IN A GROUP SHOW?
A history of Contemporary Art…
The second half of the 20th century was marked by one of the biggest breaks with the past ever to be witnessed in the history of art. For over 40 years indeed, it has been obvious that a new movement overtook Modern Art: that movement is known as Contemporary Art. Modern Art was undoubtedly an audacious art movement, although it remained within the traditional aesthetics lines. But, unlike the Moderns, Contemporary artists have emancipated from all conventions and have introduced a disruption even deeper than the one that had already occurred at the beginning of the century.
The post-war period in Europe prefigured this break with the past. If art critic Winckelman defined the artists as “the creator of ideal forms” at the end of the 18th century, the end of all illusionism and classicism after the Second World War shatters this idea. This era will be the age of glory for Modern Art, recognised by all the main cultural institutions in the Western world. The Masters of this movement are praised, especially Matisse and Picasso.
In this context, abstraction starts appearing in different fashions. The Art History will remember notably four leaders of the abstract movement. Hans Hartung, Master of informal art and undoubtedly a precursor of action painting; Pierre Soulages, the “painter of the dark and light”, recognised as one of the main figures of abstraction movement and most famous contemporary French painter. On the other side, Sam Francis developed in his abstract works a new aesthetics of colour that is now widely recognised.
Through their art, these artists embody the questioning of the moral and artistic Man in his quest toward the inner and subjective representations. This quest will continue through the “art brut“ movement with Jean Dubuffet, who renewed the artistic vocabulary of the period.
Almost simultaneously through the 1950s’ and 1960s’, the centre of gravity of the art world moved from Paris to New York - although one must admit that the 1980s’ saw a relative globalisation of the art stage.
Indeed, New York became a central place for avant-garde artistic creation. The exile of Yayoi Kusama is a great example of it: crossing boundaries, Kusama liberated herself from all link with Japan, all but the memory of an immense culture. “It was an era of great excitement for Action Painting. I felt like it was important for me to create an original art, emerging from my own inner world only”, she says. Kusama gave birth to a prolific and somehow obsessional body of artworks all articulated around the repetition of shapes - her famous dots for instance. An exceptional artist, her work has influenced many various artists such as Andy Warhol and, more recently, Takashi Murakami.
In the 1960s’, marked by the consumer society, artists tend to return to realism: figuration is back in the place of honour. In the United Kingdom and the United States, pop art triumphs through legendary names like Andy Warhol and Tom Wesselman. They depict the urban scene and give visibility to the immense world of consumer goods that are the daily surroundings of these societies.
In France, more discreetly, the Nouveau Realism appears like an echo of the pop art movement, highlighting a fascination for the trivial that is tainted with political commitment. Niki de Saint Phalle, the only female artist in the movement, differentiates herself from her peers by a strong and obvious feminism: in her sculptures, for example, she questions the condition of women in the 1960s.
New Realism, an art practice that was oblivious to the worldwide success of Pop Art, emerges with its leading artists Yves Klein and Arman who paved the way for the movement.
Back in New York in less urban settings brighter than those depicted by pop artists. In the Bronx and Harlem, new art practices emerged, that of graffiti and more broadly Street Art, which have now become a global practice.
Jean-Michel Basquiat is considered the figurehead. Belonging to the generation of graffiti artists who suddenly appeared at the end of the 1970’s, Basquiat has left a considerable body of work, inhabited by death, racism and his own destiny. His world mixes the sacred mythology of voodoo and the Bible, as well as the advertising and media, the African-American heroes of music and boxing and finally the affirmation of his ‘blackness’. In 1983, he became the youngest and first black artist to ever be exhibited at the Biennial at the Whitney Museum of American Art in New York.
An overview of contemporary art must inevitably take into account the emergence of new artistic scenes such as in China, Japan and Iran. Our societies have now accepted the idea that the culture and civilisation is no longer part of the monopoly of the Western Christian society but is rather moving to other spheres including political and social changes that greatly work in favour of development of the artistic field. In the 1970s’, there was a boom in the Chinese art scene. Despite reluctance and obvious political tensions, Chinese art wanted to critique the living conditions and the government in place. Feng Zheng Jie, a major artist from ‘The School of Kitsch’, has focused on the identity of the younger generation. Yue MinJun is considered one of the key figures of the ‘cynical realism’ movement after the student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square in 1989. He highlights the vulnerability and anxiety of a collective yet individual changing society.
At the other end of the world, in Iran, art is blooming as well through the art of Tanavoli, father of the modern sculpture and a key member of the movement of ‘Saqqakhaneh’. Through the famous three Persian character ‘Heech” (meaning nothing), the artist reflects the feelings of unworthiness, frustration and powerlessness that lie within the Iranian society since the 1960s’. A couple of years later, the artist Koorosh
Shishegaran revealed his conception on the modern world through his paintings. He appears as a complex artist, on the verge of exploding, just as the twisted lines that invade the canvas.
In Japan, Nara Yoshitomo realised a work whose themes are closer to the current malaise of Japanese youth and result in a constant introspective search of identity. The ill-being and quest for identity are inscribed in the vast majority of work by artists from these new artistic scenes.
No more predominant tendencies in painting will be seen before the new millennium, and neither will avant-garde theories nor major streams. Yet, does it mean that contemporary art is only contextual and about identity? Such a conclusion would be simplistic and inaccurate. In light of two major contemporary movements such as the collective Young British Artists (YBAs), or that of the New English Sculpture, some
subjects appear recurrent such as the body, the space, new technologies and the media.
Indeed, the collective of YBAs is characterized by the rejection of aesthetic theories and schools of thought and that they will rather trigger knee-jerk reactions to the viewer.
Forerunner Damien Hirst, mediates hyper growth through provocation and reflection on the idea of mortality and the consciousness of the end. On the other hand, Marc Quinn is one of the leading representatives of British contemporary art and his work deals mainly with the mutability of the body over time, its physical presence in space and the anxiety of living within a culture. As with Julian Opie, he reduces the image to the essential and transgresses the boundary between painting and sculpture. In his experiments with technology and the digital image, Opie is freed from traditional media.
Finally Chris Ofili created a painting that blurs the boundaries between pleasure anddispleasure, the acceptable and the outrageous.
David Mach is an artist of excess who uses the aesthetic and the proliferation of manufactured goods. His creations, initially designed to expose the humour and irony of consumerism, do emphasise the beauty of everyday life, transforming the ordinary into the extraordinary. From now on, art will question us, measuring our own limits and exploring our taboos.
Finally, design is the culmination of artistic liberation. At the border of the visual arts, design has invaded our environment through its uniqueness. Ron Arad today remains one of the most famous designers of the world, both in the artistic sphere and on the market.
Through this exhibition, Opera Gallery aspires to render homage to the major contemporary artists whose work has contributed to the progression and evolution of art history.