Art: Edvard Munch – Love and Angst

One of the largest show of Edvard Munch’s prints and woodcuts in the UK for 45 years is now being held at the British Museum until 21 July 2019. For those who may not be familiar with the artist, you would certainly recognise the “art’s most haunting and iconic face”. A piece of artwork that is so renowned that it has become an emoji!

Despite being considered as one of the founding fathers of Expressionism, very little is known about him. The exhibition aims to shed light on the Norwegian painter by exploring the political history of pre-war era Europe, particularly Oslo, Berlin and Paris where Munch travelled and found new influences. As you wander through the exhibition, it delves into Munch’s unconventional Bohemian lifestyle and beliefs which moulded his art and innovative printmaking techniques.  

Expressionism

Expressionism focuses on emotional experience above all else, particularly the isolation and anxiety of modern existence through highly intense and non-naturalistic brushwork. Expressionism is generally applied to the art of the twentieth century where it is said to have started with Vincent Van Gogh but included others such as Edvard Munch, James Ensor and later, Egon Schiele.  

Expressionists are in contrast to the Impressionists, where the goal was not to reproduce the impression suggested by the surrounding world but to strongly impose the artist’s own sensibility to the world’s representation. Expressionists explored the psyche; the focus was on dramatic and emotion-laden themes, particular qualities of fear, horror and the grotesque.

During the pre-war era, Expressionists reacted to the increasingly industrialised lives and sense of isolation. The artists developed a powerful mode of social criticism through their artwork. This included representations of modern cities through alienated individuals, including prostitutes (think Egon Schiele) who were used to comment on capitalism’s role in the emotional distancing of individuals within cities

The art movement rejected the dominant styles and subject matter of German visual culture at the turn of the 20th century, instead, found early inspiration in the flat patterning and bold forms of The New Art movement. Expressionists looked for inspiration beyond European art and culture to native folk traditions and tribal art; such as African and Oceanic art; as it was then considered to be primitive and unevolved.

The movement flourished from 1905 to 1920, particularly in Germany and Austria. However, with the rise of Nazism in Germany, this led to the end of the Expressionist movement, with most of the artwork removed from museums and confiscated from private collections.

Edvard Munch (1863 – 1944)

Edvard Munch was a prolific yet perpetually troubled artist preoccupied with matters of human mortality such as chronic illness, sexual liberation, and religious aspiration

Born in 1863 in the village of Ådalsbruk in Løten, Norway. Munch grew up with an older sister and three younger siblings. The family moved to Oslo in 1864 and became the start of his personal struggles and anguish. Munch became familiar with death. He lost his mother to tuberculosis before he turned 13. He lost his much-loved sister nine years later to the same disease. His younger sister was diagnosed with mental illness at an early age and his younger brother passed away shortly after his marriage. 

He, himself, also suffered from a poor immune system and was kept out of school for months on end. To pass the time, Munch took up drawing and painting. His father would often read ghost stories of Edgar Allan Poe, which instilled in the young Munch a general sense of anxiety about death (unsurprisingly) and how it constantly advanced on him.

There was a constant conflict with his father who Munch considered as “temperamentally nervous and obsessively religious”. Munch enrolled in a technical college in 1879 but frequent illnesses interrupted his studies and in the following year, Munch dropped out to pursue painting. This cause further friction with his father who deemed art as an “unholy trade”. However, this did not stop the budding artist from enrolling at the Royal School of Art and Design of Kristiania in 1881; where he started to seek an alternative bohemian lifestyle. 

During this time, Munch discovered the writings of the anarchist philosopher, Hans Jæger, head of a group called the “Kristiania-Boheme”. Jæger advocated for sexual freedom and individualism. They formed a close friendship and it was Jæger who encouraged Munch to draw from personal experience in his work. This led to the painting of The Sick Child (1885 – 1886) which served as a memorial to his favourite sister.

https://www.edvardmunch.org/the-sick-child.jsp
The Sick Child, 1885

In 1889, Munch travelled to Paris to study at the studio of Leon Bonnat and continued to explore the themes of death and personal loss.  Munch’s father passed away that year, and Night in St,.Cloud (1890) served as a memorial. It was after this period, where the Frieze series and related works were the artists most popular and artistically significant period which is the period that the exhibition focuses on.  This was the period, where his signature paintings The Scream (1893), Love and Pain (1893-94), Ashes (1894), Madonna (1894-95), and Puberty (1895) were all created.

https://www.edvardmunch.org/madonna.jsp
Madonna, 1894

Exhibition

Munch’s art is not for the faint-hearted as it explores the fear, gloom and angst of his personal Expressionist art. When entering the exhibition, the first painting is a sombre self-portrait; jet black apart from the face and a skeleton arm placed casually on the bottom of the painting. Considering the pains of his past, death is at the forefront of Munch’s art. It is not hidden or subtle but a print version of The Sick Child, The Dead Mother and a print from woodcuts of The Death in the Sick Room is an emotive depiction of loss, almost too painful to look.

The exhibition focuses on his lithographs, woodcuts, drypoint prints and etchings, Munch’s skills seems unrivalled; by using different mediums and methods his prints are just as vivid and haunting as his paintings. His bohemian lifestyle also meant that Munch explored the representation of women’s bodies. The lithograph titled Madonna is of a beautiful woman but contrasted with a curled foetus in the corner of the painting makes it sinister and dangerous.

https://www.artsy.net/artwork/edvard-munch-madonna-3
Madonna, 1895/1902

Munch seemed to have a difficult relationship with women, he was afraid of marriage and his love life was confusing. He was only engaged once to Tulla Larsen but that relationship ended with a gunshot wound to the finger, of which an x-ray is displayed in the exhibition. Some of his most impressive were his works are from the Frieze of Life series where he depicted a love affair through the kiss, love, pain, jealousy, betrayal and despair. The inspiration for his work has been suggested to be his tumultuous relationship with women and the shock and fear associated with the power and passion of women. 

Munch was a prolific artist where he produced more than 1,000 paintings, 4,000 drawings and nearly 15,400 prints throughout this career. Therefore, it is no surprise that he has influenced many artists after him. German Expressionists painters such as Kirchner, Kandinsky, and Beckmann also expressed their individual psychology through intense colour and semi-abstraction. Munch’s influence even extends to Francis Bacon whose portraits reflect the sitter’s psychological turmoil as is manifested in skewed facial and bodily features. 

It is hard to shake off the melancholy of Munch’s work when leaving the exhibition, yet the British Museum has managed to shed light into the life of the artist that painted one of the most famous paintings in our Modern History. Recommend – 3.5 out of 5 Pineapples.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

For other reviews of the exhibitions, please see the below links:

Art: Dorothea Tanning

Dorothea Tanning (1)

Until the 9th June, Tate Modern has curated a large scale exhibition of Dorothea Tanning’s work, bringing together 100 pieces from paintings to sculptures spanning her 70-year career. The exhibition is organised by the Museo Nacional Centro de Arte Reina Sofía, Madrid in collaboration with Tate Modern and curated by Alyce Mahon and Ann Coxon.

Dorothea Tanning

Tanning was born in 1910 in a small town of Galesburg, Illinois, where, she said, ‘nothing happened but the wallpaper’. As a result of this boredom, she filled her time reading Gothic novels and poetry which greatly inspired her early work. Only in the 1930s did she travel to New York to pursue her artistic career, after briefly studying painting at the Chicago Academy of Art. During this time, she supported herself by being a commercial artist, including advertisements for Macy’s department store. Her first encounter of the Surrealism movement was the 1936 seminal exhibition held at the Museum of Modern Art – Fantastic Art, Dada and Surrealism. This had a profound effect on Tanning, which resulted in her travelling to France in August 1939 with letters of introduction to artists including Max Ernst and Pablo Picasso. However, when arriving in Paris, the country was at the brink of war and she had to return to New York without meeting anyone on her list.
It was only until 1942 was she reunited with Ernst, who fled from France and became a refugee in New York. The two moved in together about a week after Ernst viewed her work and persuaded his then-wife Peggy Guggenheim to include Tanning’s self-portrait, changing the exhibit entitled “30 Women” to “31 Women. In 1944 Tanning was given her first solo show by Julien Levy after being impressed by her creativity and skill in commercial illustration. Despite the success of the exhibition, the newly married couple in 1946 moved to Sedona, Arizona and settled there until 1949 where they both relocated to Paris, though continued to spend time back in Arizona. It was during this time where there was a significant shift in her style of painting, from the very dreamlike detailed paintings to abstract brushstrokes. The next few decades were a time of great experimentation from painting and sculpture, to writing and poetry.

Tanning only returned to New York in 1980 four years after Ernst died. She completed her last paintings in 1998 but continued to write focusing on poetry until she passed away at 101 years old in 2012.

Surrealism

Surrealism was a movement that emerged from Paris in the 1920s, with a focus to explore the complexity and hidden workings of the mind as a source of art, as well as writing. It principally grew out from the earlier Dada movement before the First World War. According to The Surrealist Manifesto published by André Breton in 1924, Surrealism was a means of reuniting conscious and unconscious realms of experience so completely that the world of dream and fantasy would be joined to the everyday rational world in “an absolute reality, a surreality.” In other words, they sought to channel the unconscious as a means to unlock the power of the imagination.

The work of Sigmund Freud was influential for Surrealists, particularly his book, The Interpretation of Dreams (1899) which legitimised the importance of dreams. This was particularly prominent in Tanning’s work where she is known to depict her dreams in great detail. Surrealist imagery is probably the most recognisable element of the movement yet difficult to define as each artist relied on their own recurring motifs. Nature is often the most frequent imagery, where Max Ernst was obsessed with birds, Dali’s work included ants and eggs, Tanning included dogs, particularly Ernst’s pet Lhasa Apso named Katchina.

Exhibition & Favourite pieces

“Looking at Tanning’s work is like entering into another universe,” explains the exhibition’s curator, Ann Coxon. “She is interested in everything that lies behind and beneath the facade of the everyday.”

The exhibition starts off with one of her most important works; the painting that turned 30 to 31 women and ended a marriage. Named by Ernst as “Birthday” this painting marks her birth as a surrealist. After their wedding and relocation from New York to Sedona Arizona, doors become a prominent feature in Tanning’s work. The door is a surrealist symbol and represents a portal to the unconscious. It is in this room of the exhibition, where you see the infamous painting Eine Kleine Nachtmusik (1943); though my favourite is the Self Portrait (1944) which depicts the vast empty landscape of Arizona, yet appears unsettling and claustrophobic, as if there is nowhere to run.

Having moved to Paris, her art starts to change from the intricately detailed drawings of Birthday and Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to much more abstract depictions of family, interiors and the dining table as illustrated in Portrait de Famille (1954) and The Philosophers (1952). The mid-1950s was a time of change for Tanning as her style of painting completely changed and her composition and brushwork became more abstract and fluid, and merging of bodies is depicted in Insomnies (Insomnias) (1957). Though in this room, the painting that is at odds with the others is Pour Gustave l’adoré (1974) as she uses a very rich and dark colour palette.

Tanning explored maternity during different stages of her career and her paintings are from idyllic and from my perspective, frightening. Maternity (1946-7) is the most famous of these and the soft sculpture Emma (1970) made from dirty antique lace frills makes this room particularly difficult to see or enjoy. Hidden in the corner of this room of the exhibition, is the surprising Hôtel du Pavot, Chambre 202 (1970–3) where stuffed figures are placed together into an unsettling installation, it is dark and gave me goosebumps as it brings back scenes from Stranger Things.

Tanning changes her medium again in the 1960s where a lot of work was in the form of soft sculptures. Using textiles, pins and other objects she crafts bodily sculptures which come across as playful and erotic such as Pincushion to Serve as Fetish (1965). Yet, the sculpture that should be highlighted in this room Tweedy (1973) and its accompanying turd.
For further information on the exhibition, please refer to the exhibition guide found here.

Celebration of female artists

Not surprisingly. like many women before and after Tanning. Her work was overshadowed by her husband’s fame. She once wrote about herself that “Her existence as an artist was dramatically compromised by her existence as Max’s wife, but love triumphs all,”.

Despite this, it cannot be disputed that Tanning was an accomplished artist who had a profound impact on the Surrealist movement, as well as subsequent generations of artists. Her exploration of the female form meant that she was often associated with the feminist movement. This included her own portraits where Tanning incorporated her gothic self-image which was cultivated from the novels she read in her childhood. Tanning also explored motherhood in detail even though she never had children herself. The works themselves were hauntingly beautiful but sad. Motherhood may have been considered but her art reflected her issues and thinking around this.

“Women artists. There is no such thing—or person. It’s just as much a contradiction in terms as ‘man artist’ or ‘elephant artist’. You may be a woman and you may be an artist; but the one is a given and the other is you.” – Dorothea Tanning

Tanning was not keen to be known as a feminist and did not want to be categorised. Despite this, she has become a role model for women trying to break free from the restrictions of womanhood to become artists and continues to influence artists today.

How many pineapples?

A hauntingly beautiful exhibition, a must see – 4.5 out of 5 pineapples.

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Christian Dior – Designer of Dreams

Dior

Dior. For many women, the four-letter word exudes iconic, feminine, aspirational – the list can go on. It is easy to understand when the Victoria and Albert Museum in London (“V&A”) announced their upcoming Christian Dior – Designer of Dreams exhibition there was much furore; so much so that the exhibition had to be extended to 1 September 2019, and even then, the tickets are all sold out

So far, there has been a mixed reception with some critics noting “style over substance” highlighting the display failed to set the scene and did not match the history of Dior with the social economic climate of the times. Others, have showered it with praise and described it as a wonderful show of Monsieur Dior’s fairytale; some even go as far to describe it as “the greatest fashion show the V&A has ever staged”.

Given the difficulty in obtaining the tickets to the exhibition, expectations were high. Located in the newly built and cavernous Sainsbury’s Gallery, with structural curves to die for. The new space was a welcomed changed to previous fashion exhibitions, such as Balencigia and Fashioned from Nature, where they were located in a dark corner of the museum.

The start of the exhibition centres around the iconic New Look with the Bar Suit. A white boxy suit jacket with an impossibly cinched (pretty sure it was the width of my one thigh!) and the voluminous skirts, which was a dramatic departure from the fabric rationing during the war period. The exhibition vaguely moves from the history of Dior fashion house starting with 1946 at Avenue Montaigne and ending with the final runway piece of 2019 by the inspirational Maria Grazia Chiuri. Personally, she is my favourite creative director in the history Dior, with her debut giving tribute to the iconic Dior “New Look”. Noting sadly that my body shape would ever fit into the ultra nipped waists of the look, one can still dream of the whimsical skirts of tulle.

As you walk through the exhibition navigating between dimly lit rooms to the beautifully decorated, such as the “flower” room by the design studio Wanda Barcelona and the finale Ball Room, one can’t help to be mesmerised. However, it was difficult to follow the theme throughout as each room seemed independent and did not flow onto the next. Each room was aesthetically pleasing and each garment beautifully displayed but it failed to share much detail on the pieces. The overall experience felt like an extravagant fashion show with mannequins, where guests had to walk around and fight for a closer view. Ultimately, the exhibition failed to tell a story.

Despite this, undoubtedly, there were elements of the show which made the visit worthwhile. It was an opportunity to see these beautiful garments up close and admire the details, where one would not have had a chance otherwise. The innovative styles, the intricate stitching and the structure of garments honour not only the designers but the ateliers who turned sketches to exquisite and alluring pieces of art. For those who have tickets to the exhibition, you have plenty to look forward to and it is worth the wait!

The Pineapple Chicken gives the exhibition a 4 out of 5 pineapples. Have any of you been yet? What were your favourite pieces? As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S The Little Big Movement is now back online! Check him out here!

Art: Martin Parr – Only Human

Hi everyone!

I hope you are well and enjoying a positive week so far. This Thursday’s art instalment on the Pineapple Chicken Blog is on the latest exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (“NPG”); Martin Parr – Only Human. I am a big fan of photography, this is why I started taking photos several years ago. Though I am still very much an amateur and lately I have been too lazy to carry my gear around – my favourite photography style continues to be street photography and portraiture.

NPG is somewhere I go back to time and time again because they always have great photography exhibitions (also a worthy mention is the Barbican Centre).  The Martin Parr: Only Human exhibition was another great opportunity to broaden my horizons and see the works of another artist to inspire my own photography. The exhibition is available until 27th May 2019 and costs £18 per adult or half price with the Art Pass. If you are under 25, the exhibition is only of £5 every Friday! (when the gallery is open until 9 pm.)

After Don McCullin’s exhibition at Tate Britain, I realised that I do not know many British photographers and as usual I walk into this exhibition not knowing very much about Parr. I think I should start a project on iconic British photographers, what do you think?  

Martin Parr

He is a British photojournalist and is one of the “best known” (oops!) and “most widely celebrate photographers”.  He is known for his satirical and anthropological look of modern life, in particular documenting social classes in Britain and exploring British identity. 

He seems to live and breathe photography (which is awesome). According to Wikipedia, he wanted to be a documentary photographer at the young age of 14 and went on to study photography at Manchester Polytechnic. After that, it seems like nothing could stop him. He is a prolific photographer and by just doing a quick search on Amazon you will quickly find a vast number of published photobooks by him. On my to buy list is “Small World”, which I had a quick flick through at the exhibition shop. The book is a portfolio of photos he took internationally as a critique of mass tourism. Considering that I love to travel, I thought would be good to have this in my collection 🙂

Only Human

Only Human exhibition captured a different perspective on everyday lives. The exhibition was surprisingly large and took an hour to walk around. Each room was individually themed with appropriate props and walls painted in very vibrant colours. For example, there was a room with photos of people dancing had a giant the disco ball in it. One of my favourite rooms was the room with beach photography, where one of his photos was used as a wallpaper and the adjacent walls in a shade of bright yellow, and just a deck chair in the middle.  What was most surreal was in the middle of the exhibition there is a room converted to a “greasy cafe” (which I grew up with in London) where you can order cakes and teas that were stereotypical of “English” tradition. 

Parr has an amazing eye for capturing humorous moments, making his photos inquisitive and engaging. There were some that just made me laugh, particularly his collection of self-portraits when he travelled, taken by the typical “tourist trap” photos in traditional gear and/or with weird backdrops.

IMG_20190324_102416-01.jpeg

For his own photos, he uses vibrant (close to being slightly oversaturated) colours which reminded me of William Eggleston’s photography. Coincidentally, I saw back his exhibition back in 2016 at the NPG as well. Eggleston’s photos are more ethereal/whimsical, I think Parr’s photos have more of an edge to them. For many of his photos, they may look humorous but as you look a little longer, you realise there is more than meets the eye such as inequality, his photos are not critical, but they definitely brush being “political”.

Parr travels around Britain to try and capture what it means to be British, and of course, includes the hot topic – Brexit in the final room of the exhibition. I really enjoyed the photography in this room, because for me as a British born Chinese living in London, there is no one “look” for being British. I laugh at some of the sensibilities and traditions but recognise that a lot of being “British” is very much part of who I am too. One of his photos, though simple, captured two Muslim girls working behind the counter of a traditional Fish and Chip shop.  

This struck a chord with me because, to me, this is true Britain and how I see my home – a multicultural society. I grew up with my parents running a fish and chip shop and my uncle running a stereotypical Chinese Restaurant (with little lanterns and fortune cookies), but now I work in the City of London and my sister works in a startup in Covent Garden. There really is no template. Don’t get me wrong, we have SOOOO many issues, as captured Parr’s photos exploring how Upper-Class White Males still run many of our institutions – “The Establishment”, but I appreciate that Parr explored this and encourage debate about this.

IMG_20190324_104406-01.jpeg

3.75 out of 5 Pineapples

I enjoyed the exhibition and the topics it covered but, overall, I was not particularly blown away by Parr’s photography, so if you aren’t really into street photography, you may not enjoy this. For those who would like a deeper understanding of everyday Britain, I think it is worth giving it a go. 

Are any of you familiar with his photography? Who is your favourite photographer? As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Art: Don McCullin

Hi Everyone!

https://www.christies.com/features/Don-McCullin-6777-1.aspx

How has your week been so far? Work has been slow for me and the weather has been pretty miserable in London, but I am grateful for some downtime. Moreover, I have something really exciting to look forward to this weekend! This probably also explains why I have mentally checked out at work. My university friend is getting married in Chamonix, France, so I am going to go snowboarding for the first time (last time was about 10 years ago so I will consider myself as a beginner again!) and see some friends that I have not caught up with since I graduated!

Last Sunday, I went to the latest exhibition at Tate Britain – Don McCullin, it will be available until 6th May 2019, for those with an Art Pass, it only costs £9 or £18 for a normal adult ticketI love the Tate group and I think Tate Britain is one of the most beautiful art galleries in London. I highly recommend wandering around the free exhibits if you ever have the time!

Don McCullin

I love photography exhibitions (see my previous post on Diane Arbus) and as I am still working on my own photography, I was excited about this specific exhibition. I did not know much about Don McCullin, so I thought it was a great opportunity for me to learn more about him and see whether his photos would inspire different techniques of my own.

For the past 50 years, he has travelled the world capturing the horrors of wars in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. During this period, he was shot and hit by a bomb in Cambodia; an individual was standing in front of him and took a majority of the shrapnel, unfortunately, the Cambodian male died shortly after. He has been imprisoned, expelled from a country and even had a bounty on his head. I am completely in awe of him – he had the courage and bravery to go where other photographers didn’t and, most importantly, he ensured that every photo he took was with compassion and respect.

He does not want to be known as a “war photographer” – just a photographer. Personally, I think he is much more than this; it really is no surprise that he is so critically acclaimed. He is described as a “legendary” photojournalist or “one of our greatest living photographers. I do not think my words in my post today will do justice in trying to explain how his photos made me feel – “impactful” had been used to describe his photography but I think this is woefully inadequate.  

“Photography for me is not looking, it’s feeling. If you can’t feel what you’re looking at, then you’re never going to get others to feel anything when they look at your pictures.”

Exhibition

The exhibition spans from his first photos that were printed in 1959 that captured the gangs (The Guv’nors) in North London, to most recently, the war in Syria. It is split out into 23 sections and I was very surprised how large the exhibition was, as it highlights McCullin’s extensive experience in capturing key moments in our modern history, in addition to, his more artistic photos of still life and landscapes.

When coming up to the exhibition entrance, note the disclaimer on the side. There are photos of deceased people and extreme starvation. I didn’t pay it too much attention and I thought that I was a tough cookie and could view the exhibition without too many issues. How very wrong I was! I was shocked myself that I could even give an outward display of emotion. Therefore, this is a warning to my readers: the exhibition is not for the faint-hearted, (this is also why I have not shared my favourite photos in the blog) be prepared to be moved to tears, particularly his work on the Biafra war.  My tears reflected McCullin’s astonishing skill as a photographer; he was able to capture emotions or “the moment” that seems to be unparalleled by others. My personal favourites were his portraitures where I found myself captivated by the individual and wanting to know and understand the story behind the photograph. Though the topics were heart-wrenching, McCullin did everything to capture the truth and let the photographs tell the story.

“Photography has given me a life… The very least I could do was try and articulate these stories with as much compassion and clarity as they deserve, with as loud a voice as I could muster. Anything less would be mercenary.”

Given the topics that are covered, it was obviously not an uplifting exhibition, but very much an important one. It was a stark reminder of how terrible we, as humans, can be to each other and it is a topic that we cannot, and should not, shy away from. It is photographers like him that tell the unheard story and forces us to face reality, take action, and learn from the past. One of the best quotes I have heard from a speech summarises this perfectly:

“We seem to be able to all agree on the future, but we always argue about the past” – Secretary-General of the UN, António Guterres.

I think that McCullin does just that. His photography is sensitive and poignant. I will revisit this exhibition before it closes in May. I managed to walk through the exhibition in an hour, but it was slightly rushed because I was meeting a friend after. There is a “slide show” nearer the end of the exhibition showing the photography that has been in The Observer and other newspaper outlets, unfortunately, I didn’t manage to sit through that.  I think for the second time around I am going to leave more time so I can enjoy the photos for longer. This is why this exhibition gets 5 out of 5 pineapples.

Have any of you been to the exhibition or have heard of Don McCullin? As always, I would love to hear your thoughts.

With Sweet and Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

P.S. for those who want to learn more, there are other great reviews of the exhibitions in the link below:

 

Art: Diane Arbus & Kader Attia

Hayward Gallery

Hi Everyone,

How has your weekend been so far? It has been a really exciting one for me – my boyfriend and I went to our first house viewing! It was an awesome experience and I think we might have found our dream home. It is a new build and the developers were looking to transact quite quickly. Unfortunately, it looks like getting enough money together would be a bit of a problem (understatement) but I guess that is the same for most young professionals in London. We hadn’t planned to be looking so early as we wanted to build up a deposit in order to buy a home, therefore it continues to be a 2020 goal. The home was beautiful, but timing not so much.

Anyway! This was not what you were here for, so let’s get back to our usual 🙂 I managed to see some art last weekend and there is a lot more planned for the next coming few weeks. Remember, if there is anything that you would like me to go and review in London, please do leave a comment below!

Hayward Gallery does it again!

Hayward Gallery in Southbank is one of my favourite art galleries in London. I have come to love the brutalist structure and the vast ceilings within. I was very excited when I first found out that the latest exhibition is on photography. There were adverts all over the tube and I knew I wanted to be one of the first to see the exhibition. It will be open until 6 May 2019, so you have plenty of time to check it out! The only downside was that no photography was allowed, so you will just have to enjoy my written prose instead 😉

Kader Attia – The Museum of Emotion

Admittedly, I didn’t realise that the exhibition was for two artists. I hadn’t heard of Kader Attia before so was slightly surprised when I entered the exhibition to find a concrete brick was in the corner, suspended by a clear line rather than photographs! Attia grew up in the banlieues of northeast Paris. The first room of the exhibition was dominated by a projection of La Tour Robespierre (The Robespierre Tower) (2018) – I really recommend you spend the time to watch the 2-minute video as it is a close up of a post-war housing estate. The endless windows and concrete capture and provokes the viewer to consider the gap in the living standards between the wealthy and the poor.

Attia’s work, personally, was difficult for me to enjoy. Through art, he really makes the viewer explore powerful emotions and topics. It was definitely “heavy” viewing, with Room 2 focusing on large scale and intimate photos of Algerian transgender sex workers. In Room 3, which I found to be really weird, explored the politics of Western museums. He seemed to mock old methods of display – such as a stuffed cheetah in a vitrine. This is probably something you still see in the Natural History Museum in London today, however, he would then randomly includes a magazine within it or a contemporary “African” mask of his design. I couldn’t comprehend whether he was just trying to be smart or just provocative? The room did make me feel really uncomfortable but maybe that was exactly what has trying to do?! Honestly – not sure!

Room 5 is just one huge installation – The Repair from Occident to Extra-Occidental Cultures (2012). This room was super eerie and unsettling!  Particularly, when all you can hear is the constant click of the slideshow projector in the corner. It resembles a museum storeroom with shelves of various books and busts of African design. Some of the books are displayed upright as if in a bookstore, whilst others are bolted together to the shelves. All the book covers touch upon war, medicine, and African art. The purpose of the art was to contrast Western societies on how they seek to erase marks left by injury or trauma, compared to more “traditional societies” such a those in Africa who may have revered body modification such as facial scarring. It really isn’t for everyone….

Attia’s exhibition ends with video installations Shifting Borders (2018) which comprised of several large screens playing three separate videos and random chairs with prosthetic legs – super freaky! I didn’t sit through all of the videos as I would have been there for hours, but one, in particular, looked at the 1980 Gwangju Uprising in South Korea. It is not an easy watch and because I didn’t know much about the historical event, I thought made it even harder to watch as I didn’t really have enough time to process.

All in all – heavy viewing. I really didn’t enjoy it but not sure if everyone would feel the same?

Diane Arbus – In the beginning

I was pretty relieved when I could climb the stairs and move to Diane Arbus’ part of the exhibition in the Upper Galleries. Street photography is much more up my alley.  Diane was born in New York City and this is where she took most of her photographs. I think she captured the best era: 50s and the 60s.

The exhibition features more than 100 photographs, the majority of which are vintage prints made by the artist, drawn from the Diane Arbus Archive at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. More than two-thirds of these photographs have never been seen before in the UK. – Southbank Gallery

The exhibition was not organised chronically and there was no set route for visitors, so naturally being British, people tried to line up and follow an S line around all the pillars lol. Diane is a legend in street photography and she explored various different subjects. From “every day” adults and children on the streets to others considered “outsiders” such as midgets, circus freaks, giants and, transgenders. My personal favourites are the very up close portraits where the subject is gazing back at the camera.

Here are just a few of my favourite images:

Recommended

Though I struggled to enjoy Attia’s artwork, I personally recommend going to the exhibition to see Diane Arbus’ photography because a Google image search really does not give any of the photos justice! It is a great opportunity to see her pieces all under one roof.

I would love to know what you think of the exhibition. Do you have a favourite photographer? As always, would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x

Travel: Rotterdam

Rotterdam 2019

Hi everyone!

Happy Friday! What wonderful things have you planned for this weekend? Or will it be super relaxing focusing on self-care? Either way, I am very glad that I am finally back on the blog. For those who had seen my recent post, the blog was on pause because I was moving in with my boyfriend!! Thank you for all the well wishes from friends and readers – I was extremely grateful for all the messages.

I am not going to lie, the past week has been a bit of a rollercoaster! I had forgotten how stressful moving can be and I do not think I managed my own expectations and the change appropriately. The move in day coincided with one of the most sociable time of the year for me because of Chinese New Year and as a result, this has meant I have not actually spent much time in my new home.

HAPPY LUNAR NEW YEAR. 

May the Year of the Pig bring everyone good health, positivity, good luck and prosperity!

I am really excited to share with you my weekend away to Rotterdam with my sister.

Where we stayed

The James Hotel is a three-star boutique hotel. It looked like it had been newly renovated, with a sleek contemporary design. My sister and I shared a twin room, which was luckily upgraded to a larger room. I was extremely chuffed, however, we realised a large room does not the size of the bed changed! They seemed to be particularly small, which was a bit odd. I would recommend others to book a king size bedroom instead of twin beds.

They also seemed to have sprayed quite a distinctive “perfume” into the rooms, so if you have a sensitive nose, this might not be the place for you.  Despite this, it was conveniently located around good restaurants and the shopping district so there was a lot to see! I would recommend the hotel mainly for the location, cleanliness and friendly staff. (3 out of 5 pineapples)

Museum Voorlinden

The raison d’etre for going all the way to Rotterdam was to visit Museum Voorlinden. Noted that museum was actually nowhere near Rotterdam but in the Hague; and that my sister and I decided to fly all the way to London to visit this place – you can imagine how high my expectations were.

I was actually blown away – I had such an amazing time that I would fly back to Rotterdam just to see what other exhibitions they might hold in the future. Currently, they have two exhibitions, in addition, to their permanent collection:

  1. Less is More (until November 2019)
  2. Armando (until 10th March)

I highly recommend the Less is More exhibition, I have taken a few pictures of my favourite pieces (check out my Instagram feed) including Alicja Kwade Trans-For-Men 8 (Fibonacci), 2018. Brilliantly curated and just shown in such a wonderful space. The architecture of the building meant that there was a wonderful light flowing into each room.

My sister and I really wanted to see Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool which specially designed for Voorlinden. As the museum was not crowded, we managed to have at least 20 minutes taking photos with this wonderful art piece which would have been IMPOSSIBLE in London. This piece of art was such a tranquil space, so much so that I was wondering how I could have my own little pool at home so I could have a zen room hehe 😉 (It continues to be a dream).

I had a wonderful time – flying to Rotterdam and going to the museum really made my trip! (5 out of 5 pineapples)

Tip: If I was to visit again, I think I would stay in the Hague, there is a lot more to see and I found it much prettier than Rotterdam. 

What we did

  • Markthal – This is a food hall very conveniently close to the shopping area in the Cool District. There are a variety of stalls ranging from seafood to Indonesian food to Tapas. There is something for everyone, however, it did get very crowded in the evening. Personally, because of all the choice, it was very difficult to decide on what to have. I recommend going there with a cuisine or dish in mind, or you might end up wandering aimlessly like me. There was a dessert shop which sold Poffertjes – these amazingly buttery and sugary mini pancakes. They were SOOO GOOD – definitely try some whilst you are out there! (2.5 out of 5 pineapples)
  • Cube Houses – I am not sure why this is a recommended destination on most guides for Rotterdam. These are located right next to Markthal, so whilst you are there, why not go to see it but don’t expect anything special! (1 out of 5 pineapples)

Where we ate

  • The Fish Market – very chilled out vibes and an extensive seafood menu. Everything was very fresh and well executed. The portions were also very large, so I recommend ordering to share, or if you can go with a big group that would be even better! 3 out of 5 pineapples
  • Dudok – turns out there are few Dudok cafes in Rotterdam/Hague. There is one about 3 minutes from our hotel. We went there for breakfast on Saturday morning and it turns out that everyone else thought the same idea. Super popular with a mixed crowd. It was slightly odd that people seemed to have cake and coffee in the morning, but I could understand why because the apple pie is to a must try! 3 out of 5 pineapples
  • Restaurant Napoli – it was a cold weekend so wanted a bit of comfort food. This small little Italian place was SUPER busy, that we were only able to get a reservation on Saturday for 8:30pm. Delicious comfort food particularly if you are in a pasta mood – highly recommend this bustling restaurant. 3.5 out of 5 pineapples
  • by Jarmusch – American style diner that is super popular for brunch – great pancakes and had an awesome veggie breakfast. Expect there to be a relatively long wait, but was a great way to start the day! 3.5 out of 5 pineapples. 

Until next time

Rotterdam is filled with so much more to see. I didn’t even cover 20% of the locations I had on my google maps. I would have wanted to spend more time in the Hague, so next time I think I will stay there. The weekend trip was a great taster of what Rotterdam has to offer. As mentioned previously, I would go back just for Museum Voorlinden so I might use that time to wander around this more, and maybe not in winter because it was constantly raining whilst we were there!

Have any of you been to Rotterdam before? What do you think I should do next time whilst I am there? As always, I would love to hear from you!

With Sweet & Sour Love,

Pineapple Chicken x