News from London: Art prints and art skincare go on sale, while both Condé Nast and the Chapmans raise a fuss

Meanwhile, the art world gets back to bare essentials as Hodgkin has an unusual request for the director of the ICA while Tate director’s wife is defrocked


Keep it brief, Ekow

One of the highlights of the ICA’s forthcoming 60th anniversary auction of new works by leading artists promises to be Sir Howard Hodgkin’s special painting of ICA director Ekow Eshun (right). When asked about the piece, Eshun recently declared: “I went to see [Sir Howard] to ask if he would contribute and he said he wanted to do a painting of me. His work is based on moments, moods and memories. I think it’s fair to say the finished version won’t look like me.” Whether the finished painting will reveal that Sir Howard reportedly requested that the ICA director attend the sittings clad in nothing but a pair of Speedo swimming trunks remains to be seen.

Past lives revealed at print fair

Sharp-eyed visitors to this year’s London Original Print fair were given the bonus of an unexpected peep into the past lives of two leading art world luminaries. On Paul Stolper’s stand, a 1979 Kevin Cummins photograph depicting post-punk band Joy Division strutting their stuff in a dingy Manchester rehearsal room also bore the indistinct but clearly recognisable image of devoted teenage fan Matthew Higgs—now director of New York’s White Columns Gallery—tucked in a corner, raptly gazing at his heroes, while over at Delaye Saltoun, a felt-tip drawing by Barry Flanagan from around 1973 (above) of a rather gloomy looking naked girl and a male companion turned out to be none other than writer and curator Teresa Gleadowe who these days looks infinitely more cheerful now that she is married to Tate supremo Sir Nicholas Serota.

Art that is skin deep

In what must surely be a first, the Hayward Gallery shop unveils a new artist-endorsed range of skincare products this month under the umbrella title of Alchimie Forever. This ultimate in retail therapy is the brainchild of Dr Barbara Polla who, as well as being a formidably qualified Geneva-based specialist in immunoallergies and founder of Europe’s first fully integrated medical spa, also established Geneva’s Analix Forever Gallery which represents amongst others Martin Creed, Mat Collishaw and Marc Horowitz. Creed’s involvement in Dr Polla’s fusion of art and beauty has resulted in a women’s day cream and a night cream called, respectively, Lights On and Lights Off, as well as a multi-purpose man’s cream entitled Lights On Lights Off (all titles © Martin Creed), all of which are displayed alongside a photo piece by Creed of the same name. Horowitz, who was also the last artist to occupy the Hayward’s project space, has created a frisky little film of courting male and female feet which is to be displayed along the special Alchimie 532nm foot cream that inspired it. Regrettably, however there are no plans yet for the Hayward to stock the range that is advertised by a specially-made Mat Collishaw self-portrait photograph of the artist reclining bare chested in a field of turmeric flowers…

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Interiors mag sees red

The Condé Nast empire has a long tradition of artist-friendliness, whether in the contents of its magazines or the art-collecting habits of its owner Si Newhouse, and so Jetsam is especially surprised to learn of a recent dispute between artist Claire Hooper and The World of Interiors magazine over “World of Interiors”, a film made by the artist which presents collaged images taken from the magazine while a voiceover provides a fantasy internal monologue. There was no problem when Hooper first unveiled the piece at the small Hollybush Gardens Gallery in the east end in 2006. But it was a different story earlier this year when the piece went on show at the west end Sketch gallery, just a few blocks away from The World of Interiors office. Despite the fact that current WOI editor Rupert Thomas had seen the work at Hollybush Gardens and raised no objections, a flurry of phone calls and lawyers’ letters now ensued, in which the magazine expressed acute concern that a couple of rather racy passages in the voiceover could associate WOI with “deviant and abnormal sexual practices”. Now Hooper has been asked to sign a letter of agreement that her piece can never be shown or sold. So it seems that what was intended to be an artistic exploration of interior fantasy places and spaces is now destined to remain behind more closed doors than the artist intended.

Chapmans raise Hell in Hackney?

Several weeks before Jake and Dinos Chapmans’ eagerly awaited unveiling at White Cube of their remade Hell (the magnum opus of warring mutants and Nazis that perished in the 2004 Momart fire), a billboard-sized piece of graffiti spelling out the work’s title mysteriously appeared around the corner from the brothers’ studio in Hackney Wick. The Chapmans deny any connection with this vast piece of guerrilla art (which could still be seen at the junction of Wick Road and—appropriately—Chapman Road, E9, as we went to press), and certainly the way in which HELL is spelt out in neat rows of stars does not seem very Chapmanesque. However, the coincidence of time and place does seem too great to be attributed to serendipity. Perhaps the duo have a secret local fan who wishes to reinforce their stellar status…

Soggy England, tasteless France

The contrast between the robust English and the rarefied French was never more starkly in evidence than on 25 April when, in honour of England’s patron saint, St George, a rain-lashed Trafalgar Square, crammed with market stalls groaning with rustic produce and adorned with models of giant vegetables, formed a soggy and garish scenario that reverberated to a strident medley of folk music. However a few steps away inside the ICA, a very different experience was provided courtesy of the lunchtime opening of rising French star Loris Gréaud’s solo show (until 22 June) which consisted of three identical black painted rooms, each elegantly carpeted with arcane geometric symbols where, to the sound of a newly scored opera and libretto, glasses of specially-created black champagne were being served by identical triplets. And the food on offer? Jewel-like bags of sweets, entitled “Celador: a taste of Illusion” which had absolutely no taste whatsoever…Vive la différence!

Originally appeared in The Art Newspaper as 'Art world gets back to bare essentials'


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