Art: Food – Bigger than the Plate

The latest immersive and interactive exhibition at V&A museum explores our current and future relationship with food, available until 20th October 2019, it brings together different innovators, communities and organisations to consider what collective choices will lead a more sustainable and delicious food future.

It is a topic that is close to my heart, food sustainability is a key concern of our times and rightly so. One has to consider how we will feed the world in the future where population growth is expected to reach close to 10 billion people by 2050  and without damaging our world even further. The V&A tastefully explores this question and gives us hope that there are people out there doing their best to change the world.

Key Highlights

The exhibition is split into 5 key components, starting with composting and navigated all the way to eating; representing the natural food cycle. I have highlighted my favourite pieces and new ideas from the exhibition below.

Composting

Compost is the organic matter that has been decomposed in a process called composting. This process recycles various organic materials otherwise regarded as waste products and produces a soil conditioner (the compost).

The exhibition starts off with the consideration that if you are a consumer, you are also a producer. If you eat, you produce waste – not just the fundamental human poop but also the by-products that come with food production.  It is a lot of waste and our usual reaction is just to get rid off it, it is “undesirable” and ends up in landfill or our oceans. It breaks the cycle of nutrients. This is exactly why we need to familiarise ourselves with the natural cycle of reproduction, growth and decay which returns organic waste to the soil to provide nutrients for future growth. Luckily there are a lot of smart people who have started to think outside the box!

  • Loowatt (2019) – Closes the loop on human waste, they have developed a waterless flush toilet and manages the collection, transfer and treatment of faecal sludge. Waste is converted to energy and fertiliser. An innovative and sustainable way to manage human waste across the globe.
  • Urban Mushroom (2019) – Oyster mushrooms growing on a bed of used coffee beans from the visitors of the V&A museum. This was an extraordinary way to recycle used coffee grounds which normally just end up in the landfill. Is this the future of farming in our cities?

Farming

Farming is the fundamental way to grow our food, however, there is a disconnect between us and how food ends up on the table. With the rise of human convenience, everything is packaged and beautifully displayed in our supermarkets; often from far-flung and exotic places. Recently I bought green grapes that came all the way from Brazil, and I had to stop and think – wait .. is this right? Should I not just eat produce that is in season? By being removed from the process and the slick machine of globalisation has meant that produce is available all year round – do we stop and think – how was this grown? where did it come from?

IMG_20190526_103343-01.jpeg

Key highlights for this section of the exhibition is the beautiful wall art by Fallen Fruit, which was inspired by depictions of fruit from the V&A collection.

Having lived in Hong Kong for two years, I was surprised and humbled to see that there is a small food revolution occurring and is being displayed back in London, my home town. HK Farm is a collective of artists, designers and farmers who grow food locally on rooftops and questions the values of the contemporary city in the process. Being able to grow and produce food right in the heart of one of the world’s greatest concrete jungle was refreshing to see.

I would also recommend everyone to take time to sit down and watch a video montage on European food production Our Daily Bread by Geyrhalter and Widerhofer (2005). It is not an easy watch, but necessary.

Trading

https://images.app.goo.gl/wNHqsRJyBQEKYaUX9

How do we get our food? How is it transferred to us? How many hands does it need to pass before we get to consume it? This section of the exhibition explores the globalisation machine and how it is easy to hide the environmental and social costs of food production.

  • Ester Hernandez: Sun Mad (2008) – This iconic poster (above) is by the Chicana (American – Mexican) artist Ester Hernandez, it was created to draw public attention on the human cost of the grape harvest, including the harmful effects of pesticides on pickers. In 2008 as displayed above, it was updated to include an “ICE” bracelet to signify the fate of many immigrants farmworkers working in the US.
  • Johanna Seelemann: Banana Story (2018) – This was another enlightening video on the world’s most popular fruit. It challenges the simplistic narrative of the “Made in” label. The video is a story of one banana who travels 8800km, crossing multiple national borders and 33 hands before landing on the shelves of a consumer.

Cooking

Evolution of cooking by Ferran Adrià was explored in this part of the exhibition, the head chef of El Bulli from 1987 until 2011, changed the way restaurants cook and serve food around the globe. His cooking extends beyond cooking and explores the deep history, in what he considers the fundamental part of human evolution. The drawings reflect his understanding and analysis of the development of cooking in human history.

Eating

IMG_20190526_111132-01.jpeg

Eating – my favourite part of the cycle and comes to the end of the exhibition. The most memorable display is “Self Made” by Christina Agapakis & Sissel Tolaas (2013)  and it is definitely not for the squeamish! Some of our tastiest food is made with the help of microbes. Cultured from some famous individuals such as Heston Blumenthal’s, their bacteria was used to produce cheese forming a “microbial portrait”. The project was to challenge our perceived notion of bacteria and develop understandings of the microbiome and its role in how our bodies function. Grim, but a must see.

A wonderful display and truly enlightening experience. I did come away feeling that I should reconsider becoming a full vegetarian though! As always, I would love to hear your thoughts on the exhibition and your thoughts of food in general.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

 

Art: Sorolla – The Master of Light

No painter before or since has painted Mediterranean sunlight like Joaquín Sorolla

In 1908, Sorolla was considered as one of the greatest living artists and his works has finally returned back to London a century after his exhibition at the Grafton Galleries in Mayfair. The National Gallery has curated 58 spectacular pieces of work, many of which are from private collections, spanning his whole career. It is a rare opportunity to see them all together in the beautiful Sainsbury Wing and I cannot recommend the exhibition enough!

Sorolla, The Master of Light

Sorolla was born in Valencia and his talent and determination to be an artist developed through his work retouching plates for a photographer. His talent led him to be admitted to the Academy of San Carlos in Valencia at aged 15. His further studies in master painting led him to Rome and Paris. Very early on, Sorolla’s strategy was to send large scale paintings on dark and troubling social themes to major exhibitions in Spain and abroad, where he sought and gained recognition. No subject seemed to restrict Sorolla’s paintings, he also painted his family, portraiture and landscapes, my favourite which are explored further below. 

Sorolla painted a variant of impressionism, which can be considered the first distinctly modern movement in painting. Developed in Paris in the 1860s, it spread throughout Europe. The style focuses on colour and light, which Sorolla was particularly infamous for. In 1906, Sorolla exhibited for the first time at the Galerie Georges Petit in Paris, one of the main impressionist galleries. The Master of Light, interestingly, did not capture the British audience at that time but his works were particularly revered in the US. In 1908, Sorolla met philanthropist and collector Archer Milton Huntington, who made him a member of The Hispanic Society of America in New York City. This led to one of his largest commissioned works, which took 7 years to complete the 14 paintings known as Vision of Spain which adorn the walls of the gallery of the Hispanic Society.

Sorolla suffered from a stroke in 1920 which meant that he was no longer able to paint and died three years later at home with his family by his side. Unfortunately, after his death, his work went out of fashion and Impressionism was replaced by personal expression and avant-garde movements such as Dada, Surrealism and Expressionism. It is only in recent years where there have been a series of exhibitions in Spain, Germany, France and the US has reignited his popularity.

Social Painting

Since 1884, Sorolla had set his sights on the coveted first-class medals in Madrid’s Expoicion Nacional de Bellas Artes that was held to stimulate national artistic production and it was an opportunity for Spanish young artists to be recognised. During this tumultuous time, there was a shift in paintings of classical subjects to the dramatic changes that Spain was undergoing. Sorolla’s most famous social paintings include Another Marguerite! (1892) and Sad Inheritance (1899). My favourite paintings were And They Still Say Fish is Expensive! (1894) and Sewing the Sail (1896). Though contrasting in mood, the thoughtful depiction of emotions and light is truly captivating; the size of the paintings and the use of colour and light can only be appreciated in person.

https://images.app.goo.gl/E1ksGw2An3iPPZXq9

https://images.app.goo.gl/xpB5DtwN3X6k1C2B7

Family

Evident through his paintings, Sorolla loved his family and the portraits of his children and his wife are some of his greatest works. Though the female model was not identified in Female Nude (1902) it has been suspected that it was wife, Clotilde. Inspired by Sorolla’s visit to London and seeing The Rokeby Venus displayed in the National Gallery, he captures the beauty of the female form and the luscious silk and lace fabric on which she laid. Other notable paintings include My Children (1904)Mother (1895-1900)Clotilde in a Black Dress (1906)Maria Painting at El Pardo (1907); and Joaquin Sorolla Garcia (1917)

https://images.app.goo.gl/cpyEZVoebmWmWSPm8

Beach & Landscapes

Sorolla grew up by the sea and after 1900 he created a large body of work outside capturing the pleasures of families and intimate scenes of the beach. These paintings brightened the exhibition as if capturing a sliver of the sun in each and was a breath of fresh air (it was also a stark contrast to the terrible summer we are having in London). Notable pieces included Young Fisherman, Valencia (1904); Running along the Beach, Valencia (1908)The Smugglers (1919) but my favourite was After the Bath, the Pink Robe (1916)

https://images.app.goo.gl/iAy31k5hbXGYZBfq6

Dynamic, vibrant and vivid; Sorolla was a true Master of Light. Obviously, this exhibition is awarded 5 out of 5 pineapples. I would love to hear your opinion of his work and whether any of you have seen any of it before? What are your favourite pieces? Have a sun-filled Sunday!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S. For those are interested in learning more, the curator wrote a wonderful article here

Art: Lee Krasner – Living Colour

A phenomenal pioneer of Abstract Expressionism who has been overshadowed by her more famous husband, Jackson Pollock, finally gets her time to shine. It has taken more than 50 years for her works to return to Europe in the latest exhibition at the Barbican. Lee Krasner: Living Colour presents her artwork throughout her life and provides an intimate insight into an extraordinary woman. The power of her art is evident throughout the exhibition reflecting her vivacious character. The major retrospective of her work is a rare opportunity to see some of her work all once space, in place better than the wonderful Brutalist vaults of the Barbican.

This is so good that you would not think it is done by a woman – Hofmann

Lee Krasner: Her Life

Though the exhibition was not presented chronologically ordered, I feel that her life story is the best way to showcase her art. In the below, I have selected a few of my favourite pieces from each decade to give a glimpse of the gems you will find at this exhibition.

The 1920s – Born in Brooklyn 1908, Krasner knew she would be an artist by the age of 14; which I think is amazing as I wasn’t sure of anything myself at that age. Her determination meant that she applied to the only school in New York to offer an art course for girls – Washington Irving High. One of the earliest artwork displayed was a self-portrait drawn having after graduated from Women’s Art School at Cooper Union. This small, easily overlooked, drawing is not as colourful as the others on display but what I believe to represent her changing identity, where she moved from her birth name of Lena to the more androgynous Lee.

https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/486924
Self Portrait, c.1929-30

The 1930s – The Wall Street Crash in October 1929 marked the beginning of the Great Depression. It forced Lee to leave the National Academy and enrol on a teacher’s course at the City College of New York because the tuition was free. During this time, she was completing life drawing courses with Job Goodman who focused on classical methods of drawings – think Renaissance Masters. Her life drawings were one of my favourite series of her work because of the remarkable detail captured of the human body, and the use of line and shadow.

Studies from the Nude, 1933
Studies from the Nude, 1933

The 1940s – This was a particularly tough time for Lee because in 1945 she moved to Springs, Long Island after her father’s death the year before, which rendered her unable to paint anything more than “grey slabs”; despite her marriage to Pollock in 1945 as well. Surrounded by nature and the change of scenery, there was a transformation in her and the “Little Images” were created. It was in 1947 when Lee created my next favourite piece where she turned two old wagon wheels from the farm into mosaic tables. Using bits of costume jewellery and any random colourful knick knacks, she created this charming piece.

Mosaic Table, 1947
Mosaic Table, 1947

The 1950s – After the “Little Images”, Lee held her first solo exhibition at the Betty Parsons Gallery in October 1951. It was the start of her large contemporary pieces, however, like many other contemporary artists at the time, the painting had failed to sell. Ripping them up (as you do) and painting black and white drawings and shredding those as well, the shreds became the beginnings of a series of collages. This technique, reworking and destroying previous works, is seen throughout her later years as an artist. It was the Summer of 1956 when she painted a series of paintings unlike any other. By this time, Pollock’s alcoholism was acute and it was on the 12 August when she received that fateful call with the news that Pollock died in a car crash killing himself, a friend of his lover and only his lover as the sole survivor. The warped pink of the flesh and abstract eye or face is a shocking contrast to her earlier work. I personally found it almost too painful to look at.

The 1960s – Lee took over Pollock’s studio after his death, she was a pragmatic woman and recognised that it was the largest space she had with natural light. This was the beginnings of her large artwork, unrestricted in space, her pieces fill the lower floor of the exhibition space. In the period when she was suffering from chronic insomnia, she worked in the dark, but because she only works with colour in the natural light, Lee opted for a restricted palette of white and umber (a dark brown). These pieces differ again from her previous style – another rebirth. It is as if she let loose to let her energy and emotions spill and rupture onto the canvas. This period of darkness was relatively short lived as by the early 1960s, colour bursts back into her paintings but Lee continues with a limited palette. She embraces her inner Matisse and nothing seemed to have held her back.

with colour one obtains an energy that seems to stem from witchcraft. – Matisse

The 1970s – Another decade, another change. Lee refused to have a “signature image”, she was a formidable force that is ever evolving. The change was stark, moving away from the energetic and dynamic strokes of the 60s to the hard edge and calculated forms of the 70s. She continues to extensively use colour but in a very different way. She paints a piece entitled Palingenesis during this time, which is the Greek word for re-birth. As noted above, this been a fundamental and consistent theme throughout her decades as an artist.

IMG_20190602_104328
Olympic, 1974

Obviously, this exhibition is awarded 5 out of 5 pineapples! An exceptional exhibition for an extraordinary female artist in her own right. No longer does she need to be remembered as the wife of Jackson Pollock, but as Lee Krasner – a rebirth. As always, I would love from you and your thoughts, so leave a comment below!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Thought of the Day: Self-Discipline

Self Discipline

Discipline, even the sound of the word is serious and triggers rolling eyes. It alludes to routine, rules and restraint. It has been used interchangeably with motivation and willpower; but should that be the case? There is little doubt that it is necessary and important for success; though the question is why and why is it so hard to have self-discipline?

This topic is timely as my boyfriend and I have had our half-year review to assess whether we are on track with the resolutions/objectives we set out at the beginning of the year. Overall, we aren’t doing too badly but recognise that there is still a long way to go and for the remainder of the year we both have to be focused, effective – we have to be disciplined (ugh).

The One Thing this year for myself is the development of this blog. My recent efforts have been lacklustre; despite having identified that this is a passion of mine. The blog has brought me to places where I have not been before; my interest in art and culture has grown by leaps and bounds, yet, I lack the discipline to stick to a blogging schedule. Weekdays are particularly difficult, when the motivation is low, after spending all day at work. Energy levels are low for creative writing… or anything else for that matter. Yet, should this let this stop me? Is this an excuse for myself?

Success vs. Self-Discipline

There is a huge selection of self-help books and articles devoted to motivation and self-discipline. As society increases its obsession with success and accomplishments, the literature has naturally ballooned with it. Supposedly the one thing that is common across successful people (depends on what you define as successful…) is self-discipline. Individuals that come across as lacking in motivation are often accused of “not wanting something bad enough”.

Motivation is what is needed to start something new, but let’s face it, it is not sustainable. Peak performance is not sustainable. When the initial excitement and motivation wears off, it is discipline and determination that will turn something successful. If it is discipline and determination is the sustenance to keeping our dreams and goals alive, what can one do to develop self-discipline?

Remove the barriers

Self-discipline seems like a lot of work, but remember it is not about being at your “peak” 100% of the time. Motivation, as mentioned above, is your spark, self-discipline is used to keep the fire burning. By removing barriers to your goal and tasks, this will enable self-discipline which in turns lead to consistency. There is a lot of literature around this, so here is a summary of tips from others have cracked the code to self-discipline. 

  • Narrow down to what you enjoyment – nothing is sustainable if you do not enjoy it to some degree. Self-discipline is hard, it is even harder if you hate it; if you don’t enjoy or care about it, scrap it. There is no one-size-fits-all approach to self-discipline. Know what is necessary, know what you like to do within that area, and then go all in on that tiny area. Spend that time to know yourself better and find your passion.
  • Start small – not only should you find something you enjoy, but building self-discipline should also start small. Start off with some “low hanging fruit” and the sense of accomplishment would drive you forward. We all know that trick, but it works. One win then move onto the next thing. Marginal gains should be the focus and always celebrate small wins!
  • Process over product – Some people give up before they even started when the goal is too great or daunting. It is not necessary to worry about the outcome, similar to marginal gains, concentrate on just moving forward. Stick to the process as the outcome will naturally come.
  • Routine – I have previously blogged about this before; by removing the decision process and focus on building a solid routine, it should make self-discipline easy. You already have the right environment so all you have left is to put things into action. For myself, I have my computer set up in the office and now I have set days where I will sit down to blog. No excuse, just do it as part of my routine, like my gym sessions or waking up for work from Monday to Friday.
  • Patience – this is not something I have a lot of but is important. Self-discipline is to build something that is sustainable, but you have to build expectations that things take time. Be kind to yourself if things are going slower than you would like and recognise that as long as you keep it up, you will get there.

Challenge

As I continue to blog about my thoughts of the day, I am starting to see a consensus of ideas.

Success = to leverage off the motivation of an initial idea and sustain it by building a good routine and form habits through self-discipline. Focus on marginal gains and just keep at it.

If this consensus is true, challenge yourself today to focus on one thing? Can you do it for 30 days non-stop? Or challenge yourself further and do it for 66 days to form a habit? Everyone is different and there is no judgment here. You deserve this, you can be one step closer to your aspirations and dreams.  You got this! I would love to hear how you get on. Have a wonderful week ahead.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Phyllida Barlow

Phyllida Barlow

Phyllida Barlow’s cul-de-sac showcases an entirely new body of work at the Royal Academy of Arts located in the contemporary art galleries, The Gabrielle Jungels-Winkler Galleries, which will be open until 23 June 2019.

The British Sculptor is famous for her use of inexpensive everyday materials to create precarious structures filling spaces which they are held. In the form of a “cul-de-sac”, with only one way in and out, there are no barriers for visitors to explore the artwork. The guide that accompanies the exhibition explains that there are usually three protagonists when it comes to her artwork.

The first protagonist

The first protagonist the artwork itself, her use of materials such as plywood, plaster and polystyrene, in addition to the transparency in how her artwork is created. This is part of her wonder as she breaks the conventions of traditional sculpture. Barlow takes inspiration from her surroundings; particularly domestic and street worlds. The untidiness of urban leaving, repairs of buildings and infrastructure repairs holds a fascination for Barlow and is often expressed in her work.

Using such inexpensive materials enables Barlow, unlike bronze, stone or steel; to retain the freedom to make changes to her artwork as it develops, or even change/redo previous works; conveying a sense of transience and impermanence. The unrefined quality of her work, combined with the appearance that it will topple over any minute reflects the chaos and messiness of urban life.

Her work may not be considered beautiful but it certainly emits great energy; when looking at the art close up, the creative process is clear. A visitor should also consider whether you have space to run should the artwork decides to shift from its position of zen!

The second protagonist

The second protagonist is the exhibition space which Barlow considers to be of equal footing with her artwork. The relationship between the two is crucial and the placement of the installations are carefully considered. This is demonstrated wonderfully in this exhibition where her voluminous work fills the whole gallery space. When one looks up, it is difficult to separate her towering structures with the ornate gallery’s curved ceiling. They are as if one.

The third protagonist

The third protagonist is us – the visitors to the gallery. How the individual pieces are placed and how one might circumnavigate around them (such as there is only one way in and out); to explore and wander around spaces is of critical importance in Barlow’s work. The encounter and the residual memory that the visitor is left with has long preoccupied her. This is particularly explored when she represented Britain at the Venice Biennale in 2017. She considers how the public reacts and interacts with inanimate sculptural installations (normally one would just stand and stare). This is carefully considered in this exhibition and as a visitor took the opportunity to weave in and out of the artwork and get up close without being reprimanded. Being able to explore is freedom.

Arte Povera

When searching to understand Barlow’s influence of her work, or what art movement she is part of, it is clear that she remains undefined and does not follow convention. Her work shows influences from Arte Povera, Pop Art and New British Sculpture amongst others. Arte Povera means “poor art” where poor refers to the use of inexpensive materials compared to traditional ones such as bronze or carved marble in sculpture. Using such dispensible materials was to challenge the values of the commercialised contemporary gallery system. The term was coined by Italian art critic Germano Celant in 1967 to describe a group of young and anti-elitist artists. It is considered as one of the most significant and influential avant-garde movement to emerge in Europe in the 1960s. The movement was in contrast to the sensibility of American Minimalism by using performance, and unconventional approaches to sculpture, such as installation. There was no manifesto drawn up for the Arte Povera, as a key factor of the movement was the rejection of rules and pre-existing structures.

The movement was at its height from 1967 to 1972, but its influence on later art has been enduring. In Japan, the Mono-ha group looked into the essence of materials and stepped away from technological modernism. In the US, the terms anti-form and post-minimalism was used to describe work that also rejected the sensibility of Minimalism.

Barlow’s influence

Barlow had an important influence on younger generations of artists through her teaching a the Slade School for Fine Art where she later became a Professor of Fine Art. Her infamous students include Turner Prize-winning and nominated artists Rachel Whiteread and Angela de la Cruz. She became a Royal Academician in 2011 and continues to live and work in London.

What a phenomenal and accomplished female artist, I would recommend this exhibition for anyone interested in contemporary art or one who is curious to try a different art experience. 4 out of 5 pineapples.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S For another splendid review of another exhibition of her work please see this article here.

 

Travel: Vienna

This year’s Easter holiday weekend (April 19 to 22) was spent with my family – yes, it really is as frightening as it sounds. I won’t give details of my family feuds and frustrations but I will share what we got up to and hopefully some helpful tips for this beautiful European city! Unfortunately, this was not my most organised holiday (despite there being a spreadsheet…). It just so happened that I was also planning my Barcelona trip with my aunties which was going to take place two weeks after I flew to Vienna, which I will also be sharing with you soon. Let’s just say that there were a lot of lessons learnt.

Where we stayed

My family and I stayed Le Méridien which was very conveniently located in the Museum Quarter and where all the famous sites and shopping was within walking distance. Transport links were also brilliant and for those who like to take Uber, this is also available in Vienna. The metro and trams are easy to navigate and use, as long as you have google maps – you won’t get lost. We had booked the room with a terrace which turned out to be a wonderful idea because it was 20+ degree weather with clear blue skies. I tend to prefer boutique hotels but if you wanted a hotel with all the facilities and in a super prime location, I really recommend Le Méridien. 4 out of 5 pineapples!

What you must see

Vienna is a must-visit destination for culture and music, it is no surprise that it attracts thousands of tourists from all parts of the world. However, because of this, there are some challenges.

Tip 1: To avoid being disappointed and long queues – you have to book tickets in advance.

Vienna is not a city that allows for tourists who like to be spontaneous; if you are such an individual, you may wish to purchase the Vienna Pass instead, which allows Fast Track to certain tourist attractions. I personally did not use this during the weekend as I knew that my parents couldn’t handle that many museums in one short weekend, but it seems really worth it if museum hopping is your style 🙂 I will definitely give it a go next time.

Schönbrunn Palace

Schönbrunn Palace is the number one tourist attraction in Vienna and for good reason. In my opinion, it is the most beautiful palace in Europe and often compared to Versailles (which I have yet to go).

Tip 2: If you don’t like booking tickets, the ONE TICKET you must book is for the Schönbrunn Palace!

The lines are longs and the tickets were sold out by the time we went (poor planning). However, do not despair, the most beautiful part of the palace is FREE. The gardens and the fountains which make up most of the land at Schönbrunn Palace is free for the public to wander around! On the weekend we went, there were stalls at the front gate to celebrate Easter, think lots of eggs, birds and bunnies (and pretzels!). 5 out of 5 pineapples!

Belvedere Palace

P1170372_edited

Belvedere Palace is another beautiful palace and a must visit for those who want to see the infamous painting “The Kiss” by Gustav Klimt. I think it is worth entering the museum just for this one piece. Prints and souvenirs just do not give justice to the beauty of the painting. The gold and other precious metals make it one of the most extravagant artworks I have ever seen. It was particularly interesting after seeing Klimt and Schiele up close in an exhibition in London.

Tip 3: if you are tight for time and would like to save some money, just purchase the ticket for the Upper Belvedere as this is where the Klimt painting is displayed.

I had bought both tickets, but I didn’t have a chance to go into the lower Belvedere which houses temporary exhibitions. 3.5 out of 5 pineapples!

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien

Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien is another extraordinary example of beautiful architecture. Vienna is seriously not short of breathtaking buildings. Kunsthistorisches Museum Wien is the largest art museum in Austria and houses some of the most famous paintings such as The Tower of Babel (1563) by Pieter Brueghel. At the time when we visited, they were also displaying contemporary artist Mark Rothko. Overall, I would give it 3 out of 5 pineapples. 

Kursalon Hübner

When in Vienna one has to go to a concert. You will find a lot of men dressed up in Mozart outfits trying to sell you last minute tickets, though I am naturally very sceptical and would never recommend buying your tickets that way.

Tip 4: Do your research and book tickets in advance for concerts. 

I cannot stress this enough, on our trip, we asked the concierge for a recommendation and he suggested to watch this small concert at the Kursalon Hübner. The hall was beautiful but there are definitely plenty better in Vienna. The reason I chose this concert was because my mother wanted to see a bit of Viennese Waltz. Big mistake – the concert was poorly executed and not value for money. The orchestra was small and there was no conductor, honestly, it was a shambles, so my advice – don’t go to Kursalon Hübner.

Vienna is truly a cultural hotspot, for those who are interested in more famous artworks, check out this great summary here. Other museums to consider whilst you are visiting include:

Where we ate

  • Café Landtmann located just outside the beautiful Burgtheater and a stone’s throw away from the neo-Gothic town hall – Rathaus, this cafe is situated in one of the best locations in the city. When the weather was as wonderful as it was for us, eating on the terrace was an experience. It is a typical Viennese coffee house with the usual specials such as Schnitzel and Beef Goulash, but the reason we made our way here was because it is supposed to be one of the best places for Sliced Pancakes – “Kaiserschmarrn” which my sister was seeking high and low for. I didn’t get to try as I was completing a “no sugar” challenge. However, my dad had seconds and he doesn’t even like desserts! Worth going to check out – 3 out of 5 pineapples. 
  • Café Museum was just around the corner from our hotel and it is a wonderful place to have a traditional Austrian breakfast. Another typical Viennese coffee house (same group as Café Landtmann) it is a very civilised way to start the day. They have a myriad of different breakfast options and is reasonably priced. What was quite common was runny poached eggs with Madame Crousto bread and coffee/tea. 3 out of 5 pineapples. 
  • Café Sacher Wien is where you can try the original Sacher-Torte. It is quintessentially Austrian coffee house with a long history. We visited here for breakfast, again, they have an extensive menu; though most patrons were there just to try the infamous cake. Personally, I am not a fan because I do not like the apricot jam filling. Be prepared to wait in a very long line as it is another top tourist destination (and don’t expect good service either) but it is one of the “must dos” of Vienna. 2 out of 5 pineapples. 
  • Restaurant OPUS is an intimate restaurant located in Hotel Imperial. The picture of the restaurant on the website is literally the only room of the restaurant (hosting only 8 or so tables). I organised the dinner to celebrate my mother’s birthday; though the service was not what we are used to in fine dining restaurants of London, the food more than made up for it. My sister said the desserts were the best, but I found the bread the most memorable. Each dish was excellently executed and they give guests the freedom to choose from several tasting menus to mix and match the perfect menu suited for you which is unheard of in my dining experience! If you are looking for somewhere to celebrate with your loved one, I highly recommend this restaurant. 4 out of 5 pineapples.

Vienna is a beautiful city and one of the best places to visit for culture and architecture. This was my second visit and I would go again, as there is so much more to see! Have you been to Vienna before? As always I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: The Renaissance Nude

Happy Bank Holiday everyone! Did you all have a wonderful weekend so far?  I have switched up my usual long read on the weekend to cover the exhibition at the Royal Academy of Arts (“RA”) – The Renaissance Nude which is due to finish on 2 June 2019. I want to ensure that for any of my readers who may be interested can still have time to do so after reading my review 🙂 Without further ado, let’s get straight to it!

Exhibition

Located on the top floor in The Jillian and Arthur M. Sackler Wing of Galleries of the Royal Academy of Arts, the exhibition explores the development of nudity in 15th and 16th-century art. It was a pivotal time for nude in Western art because of the renewed interest in the human body, both from a scientific and artistic perspective. In particular, nudity was transforming Christian Art, where the stories of the Bible from Adam and Eve to crucifixion were retold with exquisite works.  

For a Y generation like myself, nudity in art is not something that I have considered given its proliferation in contemporary art and just everyday life of having access to the internet. Scantily clad influencers and models in magazines do not even get a raised eyebrow in our modern age. Having said that, my workplace still feels that we need to be protected from such images. The firewall has blocked my blog because it contains “Adult Material” but it really is no surprise given it is an art and happiness blog after all! Yet this warning message clearly summarises the controversies of nudity, though it has become more widely accepted, there is a very fine line between acceptable, erotic or profane. I believe that the general consensus is the more covered up it is, the better!

Adult Material
The RA has intimately navigated nudity through the ages by displaying a wide range of mediums, from painting and prints to sculptures. Nudity is not discriminatory, from the beautiful to the shockingly horrible or cringe-worthy, “varied” summarises this exhibition. I found the flow of the exhibition difficult to follow but I would recommend the accompanying audio guide. It is worth the additional cost as it brings key paintings of the exhibition to life. Some of the excerpts were narrated by Stephen Fry, who was a pleasure to listen to as he elaborated the tales/history behind a piece. I recognise that this exhibition may upset some people’s sensibilities and nudity is not everyone’s cup of tea but it is well executed and thought out, as a result, I give it 3.5 out of 5 pineapples! 

Key Highlights

The Good: Titian, Venus Rising from the Sea (‘Venus Anadyomene’) (c. 1520)

One of the most beautiful pieces of artwork in the exhibition is Titian’s Venus. A private moment when she is born from the sea. It is a serene and quiet painting capturing a “candid” moment, wringing water from her hair. A small scallop shell to the left is the only tribute to the more famous Botticelli’s Birth of Venus. It is an exemplary example of the beautiful Renaissance woman form.

Titian, Venus Rising from the Sea (‘Venus Anadyomene’) (c. 1520)

The Bad: Dieric Bouts, The Way to Paradise, The Fall of the Damned, 1468 – 1469

It goes without saying that Renaissance art transformed religious art during the 15th to 16th-century. From the depiction of Adam & Eve, Heaven & Hell through to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, nudity was used as a method to persuade devotion. Bouts’ panels made up a triptych devoted to the Last Judgement. The Way to Paradise, the individuals are beautifully and discretely covered up in white cloth. On the other hand, The Fall of the Damned, individuals are seen tumbling and tortured whilst entirely naked. The shame for the naked body, according to the curators, can be traced to the Fall of Man, when God forbade Adam & Eve to eat from the Tree of Knowledge. The Fall of the Damned will convince anyone not to be bad.

The Ugly: Hans Baldung Grien, Aristotle and Phyllis, 1513

This woodcut created by Hans Baldung Grien is shocking and cringe-worthy. It is not something I would have expected from this period of history as it is easy to remember the beauty of the Renaissance period and associate it with all things ethereal and graceful. Yet it is easy to forget that all humans have an ugly side. The tale of this painting is about the great teacher Aristotle warning his student, Alexander the Great, to stop having intimate affairs with his wife, Phyllis, but instead to concentrate on his studies. Understandably Phyllis was upset when her own husband shunned her sexual advances. To make a point and exact revenge, Phyllis seduces the old philosopher and humiliates him by riding him like a horse while Alexander hid and watched. Weird – is all I can say.

https://images.app.goo.gl/7ncLixFbHFGmgJUm7
Hans Baldung Grien, Aristotle and Phyllis, 1513

Other must-see pieces

  • Leonardo da Vinci, The Anatomy of the Shoulder and Neck (recto), 1510-11. No Renaissance exhibition can exclude the master of Renaissance, Leonardo da Vinci. This understated piece of art is as if ripped from his personal notepad, but it showcases his amazing eye for detail and his extraordinary mirrored handwriting. Displayed in the middle of the exhibition, it is easy to walk past, but this double-sided drawing is worth spending a few minutes to admire.
  • Pisanello, Luxuria, 1426. This small and understated pen and brown ink painting is of a reclining female. She is sensual and powerful with self-confidence. It is in contrast to the usual demure female form in Renaissance Art. What a wonderful piece.

I would love to hear what you think of the pieces I have reviewed here, do you have a favourite? Have you been to the exhibition, I would love to hear what you thought about it as well!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x