Hlaotvee: A vault of Art, Fashion and Style

Hlaotvee is a compound word which is made up of the words ‘hate’ and ‘love’ combined together in a single written entity. Also known as hatelove, Hlaotvee refers to the state between hate and love - a state where these polar opposites occur simultaneously - a state we experience when we love to hate, or hate to love.

 Hlaotvee, Photograph of store vitrine, 2016, Limassol. 

Hlaotvee, Photograph of store vitrine, 2016, Limassol. 

However in its physical form, Hlaotvee manifests as the coolest Designer x Vintage store in the shopping heart of Limassol, Cyprus - Anexartisia’s St. The store houses a mixture of international fashion labels such as Wildfox (which is exclusively distributed by Hlaotvee in Cyprus) along with selected pieces from up-and-coming fashion designers and vintage clothing. Hlaotvee would be incomplete without its army of kitsch and cheerful accessories, which range from seashell purses to clutches containing unicorn magic and tribal inspired necklaces— to name a few. Undeniably the space exudes a glistening aura which inspires people to view clothing as a means of personal storytelling. 

 Hlaotvee, Photograph of store interiors, 2016, Limassol. 

Hlaotvee, Photograph of store interiors, 2016, Limassol. 

An integral component of Hlaotvee is its dual disposition: apart from a fashion store Hlaotvee is also an art space. Founder of Hlaotvee and Central Saint Martin’s alumna Josefien Heich explains how her vision for the space encapsulates the close relation between (fine) art and fashion and blur the lines that exist between the two disciplines. 

The space showcases Josefien’s personal hand painted portraits which depict female characters drenched in colour, painted with fluid lines in an expressionist reminiscent style. The emotionally charged paintings are exhibited alongside a vast collection of fashion photographs that capture dramatised tales of youth and flamboyant teenage dreams - surrounded by Hlaotvee’s fashion collection. Some of Josefien’s work is framed and hung on the wall, whilst other pieces are arranged in stacks on the floor, following a laid-back mantra which coincides with the everything goes aesthetic of the space. In this way Josefien establishes an alternative way of curating contemporary art, which is heavily inspired by the realms of fashion and theatre and is infused with drama and passion.

  Hlaotvee, Photograph of store upper floor, 2016, Limassol. 

Hlaotvee, Photograph of store upper floor, 2016, Limassol. 

Apart from Josefien’s personal work and fashion photography collection, Hlaotvee also presents a body of work from young artists still in secondary education as well as artworks created by children with disabilities. Josefine has enlisted a range of charitable youth organisations such as the Theotokos Foundation, as creative collaborators, in her efforts to support their work whilst also stressing out the importance of the creative process in the daily lives of children with disabilities.

  Hlaotvee, Photograph of store front, 2016, Limassol. 

Hlaotvee, Photograph of store front, 2016, Limassol. 

Most importantly Hlaotvee is a space the lonely souls can call home. A rebellious space where being an outcast makes you a cool kid. A space uniting artists from wildly diverse disciplines that inspires them to be unapologetically creative. 

An American Astronaut in London at the Stolen Space Gallery

Standing tall at the edges of Brick Lane, surrounded by endless masses of street art and a diverse cultural spectrum, the Stolen Space Gallery invites the average passerby into a journey down a black hole of street-inspired art. 

The independent feel of the gallery, along with a well thought layout comprising of two gallery spaces - one visible from the the large vitrine windows and the other hidden at the back with taller walls and beautiful natural light - deliver an authentic experience informed by the urban art engulfing the gallery and hip hop culture.

 From left to right: Scott Listfield,  London Verve,  2016, Oil on canvas. Scott Listfield,  London Blur,  c.   2016, Oil on canvas. 

From left to right: Scott Listfield, London Verve, 2016, Oil on canvas. Scott Listfield, London Blur, c. 2016, Oil on canvas. 

One of the two gallery spaces is currently featuring the An American Astronaut in London solo show by American painter Scott Listfield, which presents a series of oil paintings depicting an American Astronaut roaming the streets of London. 

Listfield's sci-fi inspired scenes are painted using an illusionistic technique. As a result the small scale paintings can be mistaken for photographs from a distance, but on a closer inspection the audience can appreciate the fine painterly details. 

 Scott Listfield,  London Massive Attack,  c. 2016, Oil on canvas. 

Scott Listfield, London Massive Attack, c. 2016, Oil on canvas. 

The subject matter of Listfield’s paintings focuses on the urban characteristics of prominent London settings and accentuate the graffiti and British pop culture references seen in his fantasy film-still reminiscent scenes. Rendering the images of contemporary London with the surreal figure of an astronaut, Listfield introduces an element of fantasy and suspense which captivate the audience. 

 Scott Listfield,  London Oasis,  c. 2016, Oil on canvas. 

Scott Listfield, London Oasis, c. 2016, Oil on canvas. 

Listfield’s rural odyssey acquires a political stance exploring the deteriorating living standards in London and how due to factors like sky high rents and recent political changes, London becomes increasingly more uninhabitable, or at least uninviting. This can be seen through the absence of any other characters in Listfield’s compositions, comparing the empty streets of London to barren extraterrestrial territories, where humans are obliged to wear astronaut suits to withstand the challenging conditions. 

Overall, Listfields witty paintings offer an entertaining, yet critical approach to speculating the future of London, which can appeal to both Londoners and outsiders alike. 

Revisiting Genesis at the Stanley Picker Gallery

Genesis derives from the Greek word ᾽γένεσις᾽, which translates to birth and creation. The title of Oreet Ashery's latest solo show at the Stanley Picker Gallery sets the tone of the work, which revolves around life, death and everything in between. The show presents the series of 12 web episodes which make up Revisiting Genesis to the audience over the course of 10 weeks, premiering a new episode weekly.

 Oreet Ashery,  Revisiting Genesis,  2016, Installation view.

Oreet Ashery, Revisiting Genesis, 2016, Installation view.

The episodes follow the work of two nurses, both named Jackie, who aid people in coming to terms with death through the process of making personal slideshows, containing the people, things and memories that matter the most to the individuals. The audience also encounters Genesis, a dying artist whose friends seek Jackie's help in activating the artist's memory through the completion of the slideshow. Genesis becomes a vessel through which Ashery explores the thematics of acceptance, ethics and privacy, companionship and the portrayal of death - or perhaps life - related grief through film. Genesi’s storyline is interwoven within a series of improvised interviews between Nurse Jackie, played by a practising GP and sufferers of life-limiting conditions. The parallel stories work collectively, urging the audience to reconsider what is important throughout one’s lifetime. 

In terms of filmmaking, the series so far displays a combination of blurred and multiple exposure imagery with what seems to be a smooth hand-held filming technique. Moreover, the crisp HD quality of the film is partnered with a sharp sound, which seems to keep the audience alert throughout the series, as the emotionally charged content unfolds. 

  Oreet Ashery,   Revisiting Genesis,   2016,   Installation view.

Oreet Ashery, Revisiting Genesis, 2016, Installation view.

The Stanley Picker Gallery space was transformed into a large - immaculate white area, which is reminiscent of both a sterile and clinical setting, as well as a soothing and meditative space, evoking the portrayal of heaven through Hollywood blockbusters and TV. The bipolar disposition of the space is accentuated through the inclusion of items found in hospitals such as padded toilet cushions and chairs, positioned amongst an arrangement of comfortable poufs - which the audience is welcome to move around freely. What makes the space even more welcoming and intimate, is the inclusion of a tea and biscuit area, where the audience is encouraged to have a cup of tea and relax whilst watching the video. I cannot help but feel that this gesture echoes the active process Jackie's patients undertake through their journeys. As a result the two contrasting attitudes that coexist within the gallery space create a complex realm, where Ashery retains a level of control over the audience's experience of the exhibition, whilst simultaneously breaking the austere gallery rules regarding the audience-artwork interface. 

 Dora Gordine,  Black Orchid,  1956, Bronze sculpture on original plinth. 

Dora Gordine, Black Orchid, 1956, Bronze sculpture on original plinth. 

The spectator’s lounge area overlooks the large flat-screen television and set of speakers that broadcast Ashery's series of short films. The exhibit is accompanied by the 'Black Orchid' sculpture by Dora Gordine, which comprises of a black female head with golden features. The sculpture acts as the all-seeing female gaze which is traditionally associated with healthcare, instigating a dialogue regarding the relation between the female gender and its relation to the cycle of birth, life and death. 

  Oreet Ashery,   Revisiting Genesis,   2016,   Installation view.

Oreet Ashery, Revisiting Genesis, 2016, Installation view.

Overall, I was mesmerised by the relatable and humble essence of Ashery’s work, whose laid-back nature allows the audience to sit back, relax and take in the life lessons Revisiting Genesis has to offer. I thus look forward to unraveling the mysteries surrounding Revisiting Genesis and the fate of its characters. You can watch the episodes here

Strike a pose: 'Performing for the Camera' at Tate Modern

 Romain Mader,  Ekaterina: Marriage in Leukerbad,  2012, Photograph, print on aluminium. 

Romain Mader, Ekaterina: Marriage in Leukerbad, 2012, Photograph, print on aluminium. 

Don't just stand there, let's get to it. Strike a pose, there's nothing to it'. Madonna, 1990

This phrase perfectly sums up what the latest Tate Modern show ‘Performing for the Camera’ is all about; It revolves around the relation between performance and the all-seeing, all-capturing lens of the camera. The numerous ways in which the two media have interacted with each other are showcased in the exhibit, which presents the audience with works ranging from the early 20th century to our current social media obsessed age.  

The show includes examples of the instances where photography was used for the documentation of performances, as well as staging collaborations between photographers and performers - with the end product being a series of photographs. This traditional interaction of the two media has lead artists down experimental avenues between performance and photography, such as photo-specific performances and performative self portraits which examine the notion of identity as social theatre, as well as critiquing current phenomena of our social sphere - all of which are seen in ‘Performing for the Camera’. 

With seminal works from art world legends Andy Warhol, Joseff Beuys, Jeff Koons, Yayoi Kusama and Yves Klein curated alongside lesser-known works by fringe performance groups and experimental artists, ‘Performing for the Camera’ sheds light on the myriads of hybrids resulted from the union of performance and photography. 

Inspired by the show, here are some works and artists that stood out for me in the exhibit:

 David Wojnarowicz,  Arthur Rimbaud in New York,  1978-9, gelatin silver print on paper. 

David Wojnarowicz, Arthur Rimbaud in New York, 1978-9, gelatin silver print on paper. 

In a seemingly effortless manor, artist David Wonjarowicz put on a life-size face mask of the 19th century poet Arthur Rimbaud - an obscene character going down in history for his unapologetic homosexuality - and wondered the streets of New York over the year of 1978-79. 

Wojnarowicz revives the queer poet, posing in the streets of a city of decay and entropy, perhaps showing how Rimbaud’s shunning from his peers would one day transform into a self- fulfilling prophecy in the late 70’s New York City - whose artistic and gay communities were about to be plagued by AIDS and gentrification. 

Another reading of the work could be that Wojnarowicz’s positioning of the anarchist poet in the streets of New York in broad day light, shows how homosexuality was still considered as a taboo at the time and perhaps that gay individuals did not belong to the mainstream world. 

 Boris Mikhailov,  I Am not I,  1992, Photograph, prints mounted on paper. 

Boris Mikhailov, I Am not I, 1992, Photograph, prints mounted on paper. 

Found in the ‘Photographic Actions’ section of the exhibit, the photo-series I Am not I of Ukrainian artist Boris Mikhailov, is an assemblage of provocative self-portraits; The series’s common denominator is Mikhailov’s nude body, posing with satiric props ranging from toy swords to dildos against a D.I.Y. black background. 

The informality of the setting, rendered with Mikhailov’s overly theatrical poses and facial expressions, capture the efforts of a man to break free from the depression associated with the later years and collapse of the USSR (Union of Soviet Socialist Republics). A man who rebels against the austerity of his time, choosing to define his identity through silly performative acts, immortalised by the camera.

The small scale photographs are displayed in a format reminiscent of proof sheets and demand the audience’s close attention to reveal Mikhailov’s declaration of personal freedom - which can easily be mistaken as a gesture of mid-life crisis. 

 Cindy Sherman,  Pink Robe - Untitled #98 , 1982, Photograph, print on paper. 

Cindy Sherman, Pink Robe - Untitled #98, 1982, Photograph, print on paper. 

‘Performing for the camera’ would have been incomplete without featuring some work from the iconic photographer Cindy Sherman - whose work has inspired me from the first day I laid my eyes on it! When I visited the show, not only was I privileged to have finally seen some of her legendary Untitled Film Stills in the flesh, but I was also pleasantly taken aback by her Pink Robe series.

This series of self portraits finds Sherman stripped of the costumes and make up she wore whilst portraying characters in her previous works, sitting on the floor of a naturally lit setting which resembles a domestic room. Wearing nothing more than a pink robe - as the title dictates - Sherman stares the camera right in the eye and creates a channel through which she emotes her feelings via her facial expressions and body movements. 

These emotionally charged portraits rely upon the raw force of Sherman’s performance which is preserved through the medium of photography, without which these fleeting moments would elude the viewer’s memories. These moments have become entities which live amongst the art world, confronting the audience with a relatable emotional portrait of a human being. 

  Cindy Sherman,   Pink Robe - Untitled #100  , 1982, Photograph, print on paper

Cindy Sherman, Pink Robe - Untitled #100, 1982, Photograph, print on paper

Overall, I can say that Performing for the camera has been my personal favourite Tate Modern show, as the subject matter is close to my art practise and my undying efforts to explore the thematics of meta-performance aka the way in which performance diffuses into other media. The show has provided me with an array of artist references I could use to contextualise my work in progress and I would strongly recommend it to anyone who is interested in any form of performance and photography. 

The Recycle Group: Keep Me Updated your Holiness at the Gazelli Art House

Whoever said that the way we engage with Art is set in stone, has not seen the ‘Keep Me Updated your Holiness’ show at the Gazelli Art House. 

 Recycle Group,  Basalt Rock  series, 2015, Gazelli Art House. 

Recycle Group, Basalt Rock series, 2015, Gazelli Art House. 

Keep Me Updated your Holiness’ showcases the work of the Recycle Group - a collective formed by Andrey Blokhin and Georgy Kuznetov in 2006. The Russian duo explore the realm of ‘Virtual Reality’ and aim to bridge incompatible concepts such as the contemporary with the classic, using both recycled imagery and materials. 

The solo show comprises of a summation of stone like sculptures - titled Basalt Rocks - with a set of digital mass communication symbols carved on them. The carvings range from icons of prominent social media such as Facebook and Twitter, to the universally known connectivity symbols of Wi-fi internet and Bluetooth. 

 Recycle Group,  Enlightener 9 , 2015, Gazelli Art House. 

Recycle Group, Enlightener 9, 2015, Gazelli Art House. 

Accompanying the Basalt Rocks, the Recycle Group has also exhibited a series of stone like statues of fragmented human figures, embedded with the set of symbols seen in the other works. Retaining a similar aesthetic with the Basalt Rocks, the Enlightener statues generate a dialogue between the human figure and mass communication technology.

More precisely, the two bodies of work make a comment on how interactive technology is an unchallenged cannon, shaping social interactions in this day and age; Digital technology has become a contemporary status quo, having obliterated any other forms of communication. The stone like appearance of the objects is also suggestive of the supremacy of digital technology in the communication arena.

However, looks are deceiving; Whilst seeing the show, the gallery staff encourage the audience to touch the objects - and with one touch the medium reveals its secrets. The harsh stone appearance is merely a masquerade as the objects are made from some kind of rubber. This stark antithesis between appearance and reality gives a different reading to the work: Perhaps these objects critique the contemporary status quo, asking whether information and communication technologies should remain unchallenged.  

 Recycle Group,  Loading , 2015, Gazelli Art House. 

Recycle Group, Loading, 2015, Gazelli Art House. 

The Recycle Group do not just question the supremacy of contemporary technologies. They also question the cannons surrounding the interface between the audience and the artwork, by allowing the audience to touch the work. The spectator’s touch has been obsessively prohibited amongst the leading art institutions, but the Recycle Group seem to view it as an integral component in experiencing the show. This is also evident when engaging with one of the stone like objects titled Loading, which requires the audience to step on it, allowing it to release a cloud of vapour. 

An alternative interpretation of the work revolves around the notion of immortalising 21st century technological symbols; As time moves forward, will these forms of technology become obsolete and inherently, will future generations be able to recognise these symbols? Or will they become the equivalent of hieroglyphics in future societies? 

 Recycle Group,  Photo Booth  series, 2015, Gazelli Art House. 

Recycle Group, Photo Booth series, 2015, Gazelli Art House. 

The Recycle Group have also presented some pieces from their Photo Booth series, which are white, wall mounted sculptures reminiscent of greco roman reliefs. The sculptures - comprised of fragmented upper human body parts which are reflected vertically and horizontally - sport the latest smart phone technologies and are depicted interacting with their devices by talking on the phone or taking selfies. Referencing notions of classical beauty and perfection, the sculptures paint an accurate portrait of 21st century digitalised human relations. 

Overall, the thought-provoking work of the Recycle Group reflects upon the embedding of contemporary technologies within the realm of social interactions and I could not help but contextualise their work with the following quote by Marina Abramovic (2010):

We text each other without seeing each other and we just live around the corner from each other. So many tales of loneliness’.