Tuesday, 30 June 2009

The month of June - Part 2 - Art Basel

ART BASEL is everything that everyone says it is - it is even more.

Arnold Chan, my mentor, is an amazing man and the best lighting designer in the world, he makes everyone glow and look GORGEOUS, I mean both animated things and inanimated objects, he lit the Walker Museum and also the British Museum, Andre Balazs' hotels and Alan Yau's restaurants to name but a few! He had arrived the day before and had seen a lot already with his clients who were their in packs, of course, they are the biggest collectors in the world.
Design Miami at Basel was fantastic! Umbra Medda did a divine job, so well done - my faves were Libertiny's egg, Baas' clock project, a designer called Max Lamb at Paul Johnson's and Nacho Carbonell.

Max Lamb's Scrap Chair - so light I could lift with one hand

Nacho Carbonell - Designer of the Future

Tomas Libertiny egg specially for Design Miami/Basel
(I also loved his BIC cabinet)
The old school were also represented, Jeanneret, Perriand and Prouve .. . Seomi Gallery from Korea were there - I remember PJ from Art HK last year, what beautiful work they had.
Then there was the main fair, it was more that what I expected, 5 years at Miami Basel did not prepare me for Art Basel, it was huge, so much blue chip and so so much great work, beautiful work. . .my faves

An awesome Gursky - so appropriate for the times

Liza Lou - DOPE!

I could not take my eyes off this Buren - kept coming back to it

Baertling - I saw the pics on the Judd's Cinnati Foundation website but in real life has so much impact

If I could have bought anything though, it would have been the John Kesseler at Deitch. Subtle, melancholic and beautiful. Then the Swoon of course, bummed that I missed her installation in Venice . . .

John Kesseler


Ashley Bickerton - like his technique and his imagination . . .

thought that was kinda funny - yes, Larry Gagosian is human as well!

Arnold and I then did the walk through together, I like to do it row by row thus it takes me ages, together we just did the highlights . . .and yes, we did spot Brad Pitt. The man, I must say has great taste and humour, he bought the mini capsule hotel from Atelier Lievshout and according to PJ wanted to buy these AMAZING ceramic bowls from Seomi (though Arnold's client bought the whole set before thus none left for Brad).

Mini Capsule Hotel

Arnold was given a pimped out GMC station wagon by Netjets, with rugs inside and a female driver! how dope and random!

Arnold laughing about station wagon!

Later, we went to meet the Campana brothers at the Kunsthalle, what a restaurant, a huge traditional hall, all movement and bustle, like a very very grand Brasserie Lipp and to my surprise one where you can still smoke! Weird! The Brazilian brothers and Jeff are always a joy to see. I was bummed that I would not be staying for their retrospective at the Vitra Museum. Hamish and I met them in Miami when they gave us a ride back to South Beach from a warehouse in Wynwood where Uribe had his exhibition. They are awesome, talented and funny - we end up talking about rice and beans (I love!), design, traditional knowledge, Thailand and also a bit about Bali, where Hammie lives. Their work I love and I know has opened many doors for others, they are visionairies, Hammie, I know was very inspired by what they have done.
We then went with Alia who works with Micheal of the Albion to Das Shift, the Design Miami party on a boat, hosted by . . .umm, Andre! so yes, I have seen this man in Bkk, Paris, Venice and now Basel in the last 30 days! Lovely to see Tolga at the door - he is a sweetheart who I used to give so much grief in Paris. It was a rockin party . . . the band We Have Band played a great set! Greg then played music perfect for the art/design contingency, not gonna name drop and say who was boogieing the night away but to give you an idea, Pharrell got on stage and did an impromptu set after a lot a lot of persuasion, I caught it on video as I was right there and in fact part of the "u gotta sing u gotta sing contingent" . . but ended up erasing it all, oops. That was FUN - and the lady with the sparkly dress who was bouncing next to Pharrell behind the booth was classic as well, it was so wrong that it was funny - did not get a pic of that!

Greg, Emmanuel, and Pharrell

The next day was my last in Basel and my priority was to get to the Beyeler Foundation - it made my trip - it was incredible, to see the Giacommettis in full force like that made my heart skip a beat - the way it was put together was thoughtful and just right. Props to Sam Keller! The exhibition next door with the masks and modern art also rocked my world, of course it did when my next collection at nsha was going to be called Astronauts in Africa. The juxtaposition was amazing - so eloquent. Go get the book if you did not get a chance to see it! The very kind man at the entrance gave me a press pack, he is a Thai artist who has been living in Basel for 30 odd years and loves to be near the art.

Next was Art Unlimited, my advice from my very knowledgeable friend Cecilia was spot on, I could not miss it and it was worth every minute although my attempt to queue to see Van de Boeck failed - too long.

My faves were Nara, Andrea Wekua, Day-Jackson and the light installation by Mccall.

Anthony McCall

Yoshitomo Nara

Matthew Day-Jackson

I questioned once the idea of minimalism vs maximalism, particularly in clothing, I ended up painting some cotton and sewing it into a dress . . . it worked - the lines did not change, the structure remained pure.
Ruby Sterling questions the idea of whether spraypaint can pollute a form, a stack as clean as this, he answered my question - the form remains the same, the ornamant, the paint is not only decoration but defines the form. Contradiction that works.
Ruby Sterling

I also loved the Polke Cloud paintings with the meteor in the middle of the room but no photo could do that any justice so I left it . . .stunning.

Bumped into Max Lamb in the hall and we got chatting, turns out that he worked for Ou Bhaholyodhin, a Thai designer, what a small world. Ou is friendly with my good friend Harry, as a Thai, one is always very pleased to hear about another Thai. Max's work is awesome, I wish him the best of luck.
He helped me to find Banks Violette . . .
Banks Violette

I then got my things together, did the Design bit one last time and prepared to leave for Paris. A bit bummed as Dee Poon was arriving but phone drama meant that I was not able to get in touch with her! Would have loved to stay to go to Campana opening or to the Il Tempo Postino play! oh well, things happen for a reason . . . .
Leaving Basel @ train station with weird Swiss Hemp Tea

Monday, 29 June 2009

The month of June - Part 1 - The Venice Biennale

Venice is absolutely one of my favourite cities in the world, it has never failed to make me inspired, sad, hopeful happy, and basically feel very whole.
Last Biennale, I looked for an apartment to rent to stay- but then last Biennale, it did not flood!
There was a problem on day 1 as I could not get into the apt. . . no phone and the doorbell was broken, THANK GOODness for the window cleaner and the internet cafe down the road!
I was staying at Matteo Caraccia' apt in Venice . . . there were a few of us, thus it resembled summer art camp, thereafter referred to as Camp Caraccia or Casa Caraccia . . .for the 53rd Venice Biennale.


The characters (and honorary ones too) that make up the Camp
Hannah Bhuiya and Matteo Caraccia - Night 1 - Julian's boat

Hannah and Julian Solms (art dealer, gentleman and our Bauer buddy and friend)

Me and Xerxes Cook

Erica Kurihara, Xerxes and Dani Morla - Night 2 - en route to Bauer after Steve McQueen

Erica Kurihara en route to Mr. Sandwich

en route to Mr Sandwich

Matteo and I

Matteo and I (again)

I have an interest in art and beautiful things, but-for law school I would have gone to art school, the British system has a way of making you specialise very very young, too bad. I have managed in my own way though to come back to it and now, well, art is what i go to see and experience and it makes me happy. The Biennale is my favourite one, by far, the travelling by boat, the backdrop, the ART. . it is truly international and also there is nothing commercial about it, not a thing for sale.

The backdrop - Piazza San Marco and I

My highlights. . . Steve McQueen's film Giardini (no pics, a queue and 30 min film) was sublime made me feel sensations otherwise unknown, Barcelo at the Spanish Pavillion, the blood at the Russian Pavillion, Bruce Nauman at Ca Foscari, and the Museo Fortuny.. . and a few more . . .
Mona Hatoum's Globe

Bruce Nauman's lights

Yoko Ono's Anton's Memory . . . messages in a trunk . . .

Wim Delvoye at the Guggenheim (loved Rauschenberg's Gluts too)

Part of a painting at the Russian Danger Museum

Ollie Clegg at Distortion - group show of young Brits sponsored by Art Council UK - GREAT SHOW . . . he is preparing his frame

. . . did I mention that apart from being a great artist . .. he is also a carpenter and a DJ? Just kidding . . here is the piece - it is haunting and lovely.

This is the poster for the Thai Pavillion . . .more effort could be put in no? Esp when location is in Santa Croce!

I just don't agree on rice and watermelon as well the grammatical error which is evident on the poster - my country has so much more to offer, is so much more sophisticated and developed. . . and here the theme ignores the paradox which is Thai society (and the world) today - paradox and contrast. How do we breed great artists like Rirkrit Tiravanija or Jakkai Sributr or film makers like Wisit or Apichatpong, designers like Koi or Thakoon and then end up with this? Crazy. Basically, I felt embarrassed, it served to accentuate the quality of something like Pinault's space . . .

I loved the Punta della Dogana - Tadao Ando is a genius. . .the space flows . . and the quality of the finishing is faultless. Matteo and I went to the opening after bumping into some friends of his, Dan Macmillan and crew en route home from the Giardini. So glad we went, the party was suffice to say rather glittery, there would be some pics here if I did not look like an art school bum! If I had not spent the day walking and was ramshackled and unrested I might have some pics of myself but that sure was not the case . .. but hey, it's about the art right? It was a decked out opening reception with the light at its best. .. who could ask for more. . Madame Agnes Varda was there with Andre, she had great energy - so happy I was introduced to her - am looking forward to watching her movie Plages d'Agnes, her memoirs made into a movie.
And well, the collection is also SOMETHING else, Monsieur Pinault buys not only everything, but EVERYTHING WELL! VERY WELL . .
My faves:

Sugimoto - Yohji Dress

Matthew Day-Jackson

Sigmar Polke

Stingel and the space . .. with a man in a Kimono in the shot!

David Hammonds

Richard Prince

I was to accompany Alex, my unofficial artfair buddy to dinner at the Missoni's boat but due to conflicting agendas, in this case, transporation issues and obligations to my host and fellow campers - I went to Ukrainian Pavilion party at Popodopoli . . .Of course it was decadent but I must say it was funny to see a girl in skates go round and round in an old palazzo and then a funny band. Thanks to Marco Barilla and Hannah Bhuiya I was greatly entertained all night.

Hannah and I


We then all went on Jay Jopling's boat to the pretty kicking Distortion party - leave that to the Brits, Ollie Clegg dj'ed - he was good. That was fun but I remembered little and then, ahem, we ended up at a RAVE, by which point I was ready to die. Leave it to Elmgreen and Dragset to host a party on the Lido airport landing strip . . . I might have enjoyed it if we had not be drinking since 5 pm but no, the last place I wanted to be at was far Lido at a Rave, thank goodness for the appearance of Jay's girlfriend Rachel's Norwegian friend, together we managed to round out the troupes to return to the Bauer.

To digress for a second .. .
The thing with these art events is that I usually have an art fair buddy, for the last 3 Biennales and Basels it has been my good friend Alex de Betak, we only managed to catch each other for the Fortuny this time. . .it is rare to have someone you can like the same art with, where you can walk around together and not argue. This time, i rolled with a few different people and eventually, my mentor Arnold, that was fun too as we are both Roosters thus move pretty quickly from one place to the other. I always learn something with Arnold, I suppose he is in the business! Same with Alex. . .

To have an art fair buddy makes your schedules A LOT easier to bear and enables you to fit in as much as possible in the least possible time, often better done when one is not staying far far away OR when one has a boat at one's disposal 24/7.

Well, it is entirely subjective . . .although what is good is REALLY good and there is no arguement about that . . .
I went to Fortuny the next day with Alex . . .
The Fortuny was SUBLIME, the art felt alive and the installation shacks that held Rothkos, Lewitts and Fontanas to an extent made it clear how I want to live one day - in a shack with a Rothko inside :)

The "Shack" installation

Calder agaisnt Fortuny silk tapestry


I had lunch at D'arturo with my mentor, Arnold and wow, it was truly amazing food. With Arnold, I get to see a lot more than I would normally see because he is pretty quick, after a long long lunch we managed to see the Arsenale, Prada Foundation etc . . . at Prada, despite the rain managed to catch up with very much the NY fashion/art contingency - lovely surprise.

Alas,I missed my flight, very stupid, very very stupid, and I am still very very sorry Michelle, they say things happen for a reason and maybe they do - I am not sure what this reason was because it was painful, all my plans were destroyed. It was the rain, the horrid rain - we were stuck basically and ironically, the only time it rained!!! But as one pulls through, I was in Venice for the weekend instead of Singapore. . .so back to Camp Carracia I went. . . The unexpected weekend became something quite special for me even though I could not shift that awful feeling. . .interesting lunch at a collectors, an afternoon in the studio of an artist that I was inspired and motivated by in High School - Fabrizio Plessi, the Dogana once more, a chicetti place in Dorsoduro a la Cecilia and David - very very yummy and fell in love with sweet wine - I dream of it.

The thing with Biennale and art fairs is that you can make new one friends and catch up with old friends and acquantainces, I rolled with Patrick Li one afternoon . . .
That was fun. Patrick is a book and art connoisseur, I learnt from him too. Bummed I did not order the Bucky Fuller book that they were scanning - how am I to find it now? What I am referring to is an interesting initiative by the Swiss Institute, where they scan and bind very rare books and sell them for 10 to 30 euros, they managed to obtain the licenses somehow. . .very clever and totally pragmatic . . we are about access to information after all.

What was fun, at least it was fun for me was the flood . . .never seen Venice during King tides, it was crazy . . .water everywhere!

Of course later, Sea Force one. . .here is a pic in the daytime.

. .I will spare you the site at night, although must say that it is owned by Captain Magic . . .alas,the best Bauer night ever, talk about comraderie.

Cecilia and Jason

Arnold, Patrick and Hannah

The day off from art which was Sunday was really fantastic . . How couuld i forget the Lido . . . I could almost see Bertie Wooster walk out of the entrance of the Hotel des Bains or myself in a Maugham book.

not very Bertie Wooster, but very ITALIAN

Hotel des Bains

The Trattoria della Madonna was also a great find, thanks again to Cecilia, had lunch there and because it's actually open on a Sunday, unlike other spots, also dinner . . . and thus the whole crew was there and yes, there was an mass exodus of a walk through the flood for a last night at the Buaer.

THE FLOOD - blame it on the moon. . .

Madame Chichi

Monday was a relaxing day, Dani and I went around Venice.

it was empty now, I was due to leave although I was not sure . . . .My mentor was in Basel and seeing as I was only a train ride away I went along. So off I went, Matteo must have thought I was nuts, I took the overnighter - WEIRD but worth it . . . .and thank goodness the hotel in Basel was just down the road from the station.