Art and Gin

2 Yesterday I drank a couple of gin and tonics with some friends in Hackney. We went to see the group exhibition at the “The approach” gallery and then we stayed at the tavern that is on the ground floor.

The exhibition was not bad. It’s curated by Jack Lavender and Hannah Lees who are both artists and part of the exhibition. I’m not sure about this new tendency of artists doubling as curators. The curatorial work in a group exhibition should start with the idea,or concept, followed then by investigating and finding good examples of artworks that will fit with that concept. If an artist is the curator of a group exhibition where her/his artworks are being shown, then the idea will always be in service of the works she/he wants to show in first place. This means that the rest of the artists, even though they might fit well with the concept of the exhibition, will never be as close as their colleagues curators. The process of curation is inverted in these cases.

Taking this reflection aside, Hannah Lees and Jack Lavender  played here with the idea of residue and the primary necessity of food and its logical consequence: commercial production. There were artworks in video, paintings and also sculpture. From all these, I’ve chosen the three paintings by Helene Appel as my favourites. She is German and studied at the Royal College of Arts in London. Her work is very delicate, with the linen and the tiny objectsdancing on it. She paints objects that we see and use repetitively during our lives but without any context; just floating in the space. At the exhibition she also shows a very realistic piece of meat, on linen as well; without context but this time also without space. It contrasts with the other two, bigger and subtler.

At the tavern we made conversation about this and other exhibitions, about different forms of making art and about how everything is changing around us thanks to the new technologies. We see now in a very different way than we did in the 80’s or even the 90’s. I can tell that my life has changed a lot since I have a smartphone. The artists from the last decades are changing their artistic vocabulary, adapting to the new ways of perception.

That’s true, we see in a different way now. We want our information more visual, immediately, and easily digestible. Reading, for example, is less contemplative now. Because we are busier, we take any little spare time we can to do some quick reading. The public transports, the waiting room in the dentist, the ten minutes before sleep… Yesterday I arrived to the conclusion that these changes affected also at the kind of things we read now. I see more short stories, and also more comic books.

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Joao Duarte Silva, my best friend and partner, has been making, for a couple of years, two fantastic webcomics: Lonely Skeleton and Kordurroi. The latter with colouring by Jesús Gutierrez. I’ve learned a lot about comics and graphic novels since then. Knowing that this kind of graphic art had a low audience I started to read them and visit some comic book shops. There are a lot of different types. Anything you want. Different formats like novels, series or singles cartoons; different stories like biographies, fiction or fantasy; different subjects… and a giant variety in styles of the drawings. A very diverse fascinating world. And what surprises me is that around three months ago I started seeing people on the tube or on train reading comic books, a brand new comic publishing house opened its doors in my region in Spain : Os tres Pintamonas, people from Facebook speaking about which comics they’re reading… even my sister! She was reading “Pyongyang: A Journey in North Korea” last Christmas. This is something. I think it’s a new renaissance for the genre. More and more people are going to comic-cons and I don’t think it’s coincidence. This new way of seeing the world, faster and more visual, is giving a push to the comic people.

And I’m very happy about it.

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