All posts tagged art
After meeting final-year fine art student Tareq de Montfort at a 1 Granary party a while ago, I knew this guy was something special. You could feel it from how he spoke, what he was wearing, even from the way he danced. So when I met up with him for an interview, I was ready to be blown away. Seven hours and a couple of bottles of wine later, we had discussed using 24-carat gold facial scrub, growing up at his family’s museum in Kuwait, having the potential to be divine, the fact that red lipstick mimics a swollen vulva, doing Beltane rituals at Luisa Casati’s grave, the line between fantasy and reality, creating drawings of huge orgies, and pretty much everything in between. Just in case you were wondering – yes, I was blown away. And I came to the conclusion that Tareq is an – incredibly eloquent – Arabian storytelling prince. Which means two things: one, Tareq knows how to tell a tale and is a rather brilliant writer (he was nominated for an erotica award for a book he wrote at the age of 17); two, Tareq is a fountain of knowledge and has a lot to say about A LOT of things (in the most enchanting way possible). So I decided to let Tareq tell the story. Here is what he believes in and stands for, in his own words.
The main theme of your work is beauty. What is your definition of beauty and why is it so important to you and your work?
There is a hierarchy of beauty; it has many different forms so it cannot be defined easily. The best way I can put it is that at the bottom of the spectrum are things like vanity and material beauty and at the top are things such as kindness, compassion, empathy. I call these two sides earthly beauty and divine beauty. In my hierarchy the lower forms are interchangeable depending on the attitude and context. For example, if someone wears certain clothes in order to be ‘cool’ then they are appealing to a lower form of beauty than someone who wears an outfit for pure personal pleasure and expression.
Beauty is important to my work because it is my work. It has been damaged by artists and intellectuals and philosophers and I want to revive it. The penultimate goal is to reach for the divine which is the highest form of beauty; compassion is part of that height, as is serenity. Things that great spiritual followers such as Buddhist monks can achieve.
Could you explain what you mean by beauty through destruction?
Beauty through destruction has its roots in a Japanese idea called Wabi Sabi. For example, when a porcelain vase breaks and it is put back together and the cracks filled with gold, a new item of beauty has been created. I have destroyed myself in many ways, body and mind, reputation and relationships; who I am as a result is something I love and consider beautiful, but this is not vanity, it’s far more complicated than that banal form of beauty.
I am fighting for romanticism as a human right because I believe we all deserve and have the potential to live our ideals. Romanticism can be found if you look for it but it does not hold much respect or merit. Romanticism is about reaching for an ideal and idealists are generally ridiculed or not taken seriously. Society has become too rational and concrete and this is not benefitting us. In the 19th century the romantic revolution infiltrated not only art but also politics. With the problems going on today I believe that romanticism has much to teach us and most importantly gives us hope for a better world.
You’re on a quest for ecstasy and will settle for no less. Could you explain what that means and how it translates into the fantasy you plan to turn into reality?
Ecstasy is a rapture in the contemplation of divine things, the things that embody the meaning of the greatest and the good. I have tasted delirious elixirs of pleasure and happiness, physically as well as mentally, earthly and decadent as well as divine and humble. I am on a quest for ecstasy because I know how it feels. The ‘fantasy’ I plan to turn into reality is manifesting my ideals and dreams. For my own sake but also to prove for others that it is possible and that they should go for it. But I am a rational romantic, I am very aware of reality and this is why I take pleasure even in the ‘bad’ or ‘hard’ things; I take control by putting them to use. I wish to create my life and person to fulfil my insatiable desire of how I want to be.
I’ve seen some of your massive drawings of orgies – where do they come from? What is the difference between art and porn?
The drawings of orgies have a cultural narrative. They are derived from my visions of The Perfumed Garden, the fifteenth century arab Kama Sutra. I wish to give back the Arab-Islamic world an art of sexuality, eroticism and sensuality. Something that has not been allowed to us due to conservatism and fundamentalism. Islam and Arabia are in fact very sexually charged and have a long history with sensuality and romanticism, but this relationship has been sullied; I wish to take the dangerous step of promoting Arab sensuality and eroticism. The difference between art and porn is determined by the context and manner in which it is communicated.
Where else does your work come from?
My work comes from my life and communion with the gods and goddesses. At different times it comes from different places. Right now it comes from a wild creature living in Vienna who abducts a lost prince; he rips off the jewels and fur and silk of the prince, who adorns himself with such things as armour. The prince finds great pleasure in being stripped and now craves this abductor even though he is aware of the destruction it can bring.
Which other artists have influenced you?
The Pre Raphaelites, firstly with their lives and ideas, then with their art, Damien Hirst with his enigma. And Rene Lalique, the artistic genius of glass/jewellery sculpture of the early 20th century with his other-worldly creations.
Do you ever worry about being original or contemporary?
That depends on who is deciding what is original and contemporary. I am original and I am contemporary. I am also the past and I am also the future; I am also timeless.
Growing up around a vast wealth of stories, culture and art shows it self in my works’ aesthetic as well as my character (which is also part of my ‘work’). My creative priorities come from having grown up around a museum. The desire to create beauty as well as discuss it comes from my passionate relationship with artefacts in the museum. My desire to create sculpture that uses jewellery and craft is owed to the museum and our collection. My ambition is to achieve a skill worthy of being associated with the craftsmen who made those things who were my friends as a child.
You say the Arab world needs to develop – in what way do you think that should happen?
The Arab world needs to be more open-minded and begin a development of acceptance of those that don’t follow the status quo and the obvious things such as differing sexualities and ‘eccentricities’. But this is true for everywhere in the world.
Where do you think your unapologetic self-confidence came from? Have you always been this confident?
Yes, I have always been this confident. My family background has been a major influence on this; from them I have definition and complete self-possession. I know who and what I am and this knowledge is the essence of confidence. Confidence was also a tool of survival; I owe it much. Life was dangerous for me in Kuwait and rather submit to those who wanted to hurt me I won battles with my posture, poise and presence. And I continue to embrace it because it has been good to me. I also do what I love and when you surround yourself with what you love and those you love your confidence grows.
Tareq’s work can be viewed at the BA Fine Art degree show from 25 to 29 May, for more info on opening times go to http://www.csm.arts.ac.uk/about/degreeshows2013/show1/.
The incredibly talented students of the Central Saint Martins Fine Art department are frantically at work in preparation for their up and coming degree show. Every year, thousands flock to the much-coveted show, which sees the third year artists presenting a piece of their work from the culmination of their studies at the college.
Opening on the 25 May and running for five days until 29 May, the show is a must-visit for the industry to see some of the most current and innovative art students’ work and revel in the hub of creativity that the Central Saint Martins Fine Art department is synonymous with. Previous alumni include the likes of Peter Blake, Lucian Freud, Gilbert and George, Richard Hamilton and Peter Doig.Students preparing their work space for the upcoming exhibition
As the opening night looms ever closer, the atmosphere around college is electric, with the beautiful open plan studios of the new Kings Cross campus being cleared in preparation for the show. Furniture has been placed into storage, the large industrial floors swept and the lingering smell of fresh white paint is hanging in the air, as the walls are given that new lease of life that can only mean one thing; degree show time.University staff help with the beginning of the mammoth task of clearing out the many studios in which the exhibition will run.
In anticipation, students have set up a new fine art degree show website, which features a simple, user friendly interface for you to check out each and every one of the exhibiting artists, and read a bit more about some of the inspirations behind their work.The floors are swept in preparation for the installation of the hundreds of works that will be shown.
Following a recent and highly successful jumble sale as well, which took part on the massive street space running down the centre of the college, students have also set up a just giving page for people to show their support and donate as much as they want in order to help them put on this extensive show. It’s well worth popping by and giving as much as you can to help fund the show, which, without adequate funding, would not be able to take place.
Over the coming weeks in the run up to the show, 1 Granary will be profiling some of the emerging talents and interviewing them to give you an idea of some of the amazing works that will be on show.
Images: Daniel Challis (Fine Art 4D, 3rd Year)
MA fashion graduate Toma Stenko recalls how her “fashion adventure” began at the tender age of seven, working alongside her aunt in a tailoring shop in her native Russia. Her graduate collection, shown on the runway as part of the Central Saint Martins MA Fashion showcase during London Fashion Week, comprised of highly complex and layered shape, contorted around the models’ bodies. In subdued mustard, navy, and earthy teal, Stenko’s puzzle-inspired collection seemed to the audience an exercise in contour. Jigsaw shapes jutted out sharply then melded back into the natural lines on the models’ bodies, to stunning effect.
She is now working on a project for the English National Ballet and talked to 1 Granary about what it was like working for Louise Wilson, whom she calls “a magical character”.
What does fashion personally mean to you?
I believe fashion is a vision [that] evokes the art form of seeing the invisible. A unique ability [that] brings to life an exceptional showcase of freedom and individuality of style. Fashion makes my heart beat faster.
What inspires you?
It can be absolutely anything: a random sight, a smell, but most importantly you must be constantly alert to be prepared to see it, hear it, feel it. Inspiration is only an instant flash in our conscience followed by endless work.
Please tell us about your collection.
Puzzle as the main element of my concept. The puzzle represents the quintessence of the simplest and the most complex forms and incarnations such as game, mosaic, childhood, but at the same time it is a grain of sand in the desert, a human genome, an atom in the Earth’s biosphere and complex structure of human confluence. Puzzle is universal, it represents a single structure and at the same time it is united with other elements. We can consider any item separately or in a combination with other elements, and this is a key silhouette of my collection.In my research I deeply explored complex edges and deformations as a main graphic element of clothing. I studied human anomalies, where the phenomenon of Siamese twins became a biological representation of my idea of puzzled structure. It is amazing how nature combines human cells to build new forms and lines. I was inspired by the idea of representing such controversial silhouettes in clothes. I was fascinated not only by the outer side of these deformations, but personal and psychological reality of human beings, where two souls live in one body. There is a certain symbolism and surrealism in the forms of organisms that follow into another.
In the development of silhouettes, I tried to use rough graphic lines to represent the strength and personality of those amazing people, and at the same time I combined it with soft flowing elements, showing the fragility and delicacy of their confluence. In my research I looked at the anatomy of Siamese twins, which led me to a better understanding of positioning garments and how they interact with the body. I used asymmetric shapes with an accent on the edges and borders of the silhouettes. In my research I paid a lot of attention to Henry Moore sculptures with his idea of penetration of the forms.
Color is another important element of my collection. I mostly used clean natural shades that were inspired by the work of Picasso and Miro, where the first artist represented color blocking shapes contrasting with rough graphic lines, while the other used abstraction and color palettes.
At this stage I considered using prints that would bring focus to the overall architecture of the shapes, possibly enhancing or creating visual distortion of the silhouettes. In my selection of fabrics I use a combination of silk jersey in order to fully gain the effect of “breathing fabric”. Its flexibility allows me to play with silhouette regardless of the static forms. Static and dynamic are the two main streams in my collection. Space and time are the main motives for this project; they have determined colors and silhouettes, so that abstract forms intertwine with clear graphics.
My main concept was to create three-dimensional effect in clothes, working with planes as an identiﬁcation of organic forms. I have used different techniques of complicated folding and unfinished seams, together with the development of patterns that will keep shape for itself.
How did you end up at CSM’s MA course?
Once I completed BA at CSM, I couldn’t even dream of getting to Louise. I think I was one of the last students to complete the application. I remember that morning so well. It was at the old Charing Cross campus. Uncountable number of people from all over the world awaited patiently by the front doors, all with huge folders and suitcases (literally) of their work. And there I was with my work. Once I saw the chaos I completely lost any hope in myself but decided to stay anyway. We were asked to spread out our works, leave and return in 3 hours. We were also told that only those “lucky ones” who would appear on the list would receive an interview with Louise.
I remember how awfully tired I was as I only managed to complete my portfolio the night before the interview. All I could think about was sleep. Another couple of hours and all the atrocity will be over. Upon return at a specified time I saw my name on the list made out of seven people. “No!” I thought to myself, today I will not get a chance to sleep!” That is how my journey in the MA started.
Did you always wanted to do fashion design?
I started my fashion adventure at the age of seven, when I was “kidnapped” by my aunt (with my parents’ permission of course) who was then a designer in a small tailor shop in Russia. Since then, I spent my days surrounded by multi-colored fabrics, patterns, threads and scissors. I fell in love immediately with it and was inspired to create my own.
Tell us about your time on MA. What was the most fun and what was the most difficult?
MA course gave me the opportunity to develop my taste on a par with creative vision and dramatically improved my time management and decision making skills. In the process of working on my final collection I learned how to balance the contemporary clothing, design and art.
MA is Louise! Magical character! So many great things have already been said about this woman that its practically impossible to add anything new without sounding trivial, however she is someone who breaks down all conventions. I am so grateful that I had the opportunity to be her student. She has drastically changed my life and my perception of fashion. She is someone who discovers unbeknownst layers in you, in your mind, demands answers to questions that puzzle your brain for weeks.
What does a typical day on MA consist of?
It’s hard to describe the day at MA. One must live through it. You never know what to expect in an instant. All that happens behind the walls of MA’s studio is an endless race, a battle for survival and 24-hour work, work and once again work.
In your opinion, what skills do you need to be fit for MA: technical, pattern cutting, organizational, thick skin or easy attitude?
You need to be inspired to achieve what you want to be doing.
What is the most valuable lesson you learnt from Louise Wilson? What advice would you give to BA students who want to apply for the MA course?
The most valuable and challenging lesson I learnt is Louise’s individuality and personality. Her unrestrained energy, power, mastery and authority she has over everything she comes across. Louise is a great woman, a woman who creates history. And I am extremely happy to have experienced that. The advice is simple. If you are ready to meet Louise and learn from her, truly ready, then go for it!
What might you have done differently while you were on the course?
I wish I could have improved my English so I could understand Louise’s jokes better.
Anything you regret not doing while you were studying?
I didn’t always recognise how profound was the presence of that great woman.
What are the three most important things you learnt in college that were most important in shaping you as a designer?
It’s all about creation.
Would you like to start up your own label or would you prefer to work for another company? Why?
Yes, of course I would like to start my own label, develop the international brand and become a highly professional contemporary fashion designer. Most importantly, I would love to embroider my own pattern on a massive canvas called “Fashion”.
What’s in the future?
The future looks like the abstract sculptures of Henry Moore.
Runaway images curtesy of catwalking.com
Is design able to enchant, enlighten and re imagine the ordinary? You can find your answer in the new MA Industrial design exhibition at Central Saint Martins Window Gallery that opened today.
The exhibition is a response to the question ‘What’s the point of art school?’. The answer is: to make people think and feel differently about the world. The exhibition showcases a method that has played an important part in the MA industrial design course at CSM: the de-familiarization of everyday objects. Making strange to encourage people to rethink the normal; to question accepted ideas about function, beauty, need, progress etc. (Stephen Hayward, curator of Philosophical Toys)
So the aim of the exhibition is to unsettle, inform and enchant through its projects and objects divided under five different titles:
What is a Thing?
Alternative Pasts & Futures
Playing with Identity
Empathy and Wellbeing
This exhibition places art school design in the tradition of the ‘philosophical toy’, a device that introduced 19th century audiences to new forms of knowledge via immersive, visceral experiences. In this show new designers achieve a similar combination of enlightenment and enchantment by re-aligning the language of everyday things.1 Granary asked two of them about their projects presented and their understanding of the exhibition.
Project : Embodying ethics: endangered“Embodying ethics is an attempt to create a critical design positioning to produce Socially Responsive Design. The focus of this work is to create Socially informed, relevant and responsive innovation that can shape the future in a considered, skillful and positive way. The endangered series aims to bring in focus the issue of extinction of critically endangered species that are particularly important for the conservation of the earth’s biodiversity. This series attempts to replace the values of consumption and destruction with reflection and appreciation. The objects function as a discourse to illustrate an ethical perspective on the practice of hunting/poaching of these endangered species of animals.”
Object : Hunter Jacket-Tiger (2013) A product of nature that does not conceal its origins. An aesthetic intervention comprising of 50 zips allows this silhouette of a hunting jacket to transforms into a trophy of a hunted tiger. The zips open up to create a visual representation of a tiger pelt decorated on a wall.
Here is an example of Rohan’s previous work in Embodying ethics:
Project: The Ark of Many Voices. (2012) An elegy for street protest?
Ethnographic research and critical design project
“To me Philosophical Toys is a great chance to see a brillantly curated selection of work from MA Industrial Design all together in one place. Is design able to enchant, enlighten and re imagine the ordinary? I think it is. With that in mind, for one year I have somewhat avoided to design a product, a service or a trend. In August 2011, when the riots took place in London, I was struck by the very nature of the loot. So I started asking myself: what is my role as a designer? After a month of participant observation at the ‘Occupy London’ protest camp, I borrowed the materials and the design languages of the artefacts made in the square to create an iconic object, one that embodies the narratives of the protest camp. My eventual aim was to design something as powerful as a megaphone to create discourse in the public space. I appreciate that the project has attracted a lot of interest from cultural institutions such as the V&A and in December 2012 it featured on Blueprint Magazine as one of the most interesting projects of the 2012 edition of the London Design Festival. Thanks to the Philosophical Toys exhibition I will now have another precious chance to share it with the students and the visitors at CSM.”
The rest of the extraordinary design project you would see at Philosophical toys are by designers:
Leander Angerer www.racing-atelier.com
Ayda Anlagan http://www.aydaanlagan.com/
Ralph Ball and Maxine Naylor http://www.studioball.co.uk/
Frida Baranek http://www.fridabaranek.com/
David Bennett http://www.davidgbennett.co.uk
Ryan Dunn http://inanesystems.com/
Paulo Goldstein http://www.paulogoldstein.com/
Pras Gunasekera http://cargocollective.com/prasgun
Erika Renedo Illarregi http://www.erikarenedo.com/
Lauren Moriarty http://www.laurenmoriarty.co.uk/
Jim Rokos http://www.jimrokos.com/
David Blair Ross http://davidblairross.com/
Harry White http://www.devonmoor.org
Curation by Stephen Hayward with technical assistance from Jim Rokos and participating designers
Exhibition design by Atelier Dreibholz http://dreibholz.com/.
Philosophical toys at Central Saint Martins Window Gallery will be open Thursday 4 April – Friday 26 April 2013
1Granary is over the moon with joy because of meeting Raqib Shaw, CSM Fine Art graduate and an absolutely brilliant artist with the most contagious laugh ever! He warmly welcomed us today in his grand and most marvelous studio at the Old Sausage Factory in South London.
When we arrived to meet and interview Raqib Shaw for the first issue of the 1Granary Magazine, we were greeted by his kind assistant, who led us through the gates and into a whole different universe! The waiting area was the most unexpected jungle-like-garden with silk pillows, bamboos reaching for the sky and flowers everywhere!
The actual studio is spread around the two floors of the faded sausage factory where sculpture, woodwork and painting studios are used by Raqib to create his magnificent works of art – grandiose paintings, embellished with ink, paints, enamel, lead glass and gliding and sculptures of most wildest imagination. His artwork requires time and dedication; most of his works are in the process of making and can take as long as 7 years to fully complete. We were very lucky to be allowed to take pictures inside the studio with his works everywhere, not seen by many, for future exhibitions in the most amazing museums and galleries all around the world.
Not long after arriving, Raqib appeared from the depth of his studio with his two most adorable dogs. He spoke to us about his life as an art student at Central Saint Martins, the importance of working hard in the studio for fine art students and the current art world. Speaking of CSM, he remembered how he would paint away in the Fine Art studios at Charring Cross site, calling it a “fabulous building where everyone had so much fun.” Raqib made us laugh our hearts out to his stories of having a small bar at his side for anyone to enjoy and of him hiding vodka bottles in the toilet tanks, reminding us of true CSM student spirit at it’s best!
P.S. Raqib has a soft spot for bonsais! He owns the most beautiful bonsai garden with experts complimenting him on possibility of him owing the richest bonsai collection in Europe! He speaks of them with most affectionate love and plays Mozart and Paganini for them to listen.
We would like to thank Raqib for the fun time we spent together and for showing 1Granary around his incredible and most inspiring studio!