Arts Editor: Christopher George
Andy Warhol and Jean-Michel Basquiat. These larger than life characters within the context of the 1980s dynamic New York scene.
Produced in collaboration with The Andy Warhol Foundation and Jean-Michel Basquiat’s estate, this book chronicles the duo’s relationship in hundreds of previously unpublished photographs of Basquiat along with a dynamic cast of characters from Madonna to Grace Jones, Keith Haring to Fela Kuti. The shots are accompanied by entries from the legendary Andy Warhol Diaries, selected collaborative artworks, and extensive ephemera. Touching, intimate, and occasionally sardonic, Warhol on Basquiat is a voyeuristic glimpse into the lives of two of modern art’s brightest stars.
WARHOL ON BASQUIAT
Interview: Christopher George
Establishing oneself in the arts is a daunting practice. But when class and ethnicity are part of the equation, it takes tenacity as well as a lot of talent to consider a position in such a competitive and ruthless industry.
SoEdited’s Christopher George, exclusively interviews Stephen Anthony Davids, prior to his solo Mayfair show, after following his career for several years, we were extremely excited to eventually gain access to this aloof character on the art scene.
Your style is bold, simple, punctuated and extremely distinctive. What would you say about your style of painting.
My style has developed over many years, but it has its roots in illustration and calligraphy. My bold line is a direct extension of my psychological state. In terms of my style of painting, it is immediate, controlled, slapstick, frenetic, impulsive and intentional.
What are the difficulties you have found being a black male artist, in what can be a very white male dominated industry.
Where do I begin? The art world is underpinned by class as much as by race. As a self taught artist the difficulties I experience are widespread, predominantly from not having come through the elite art school system- for example Slade, Goldsmiths, Chelsea etc. Whereas people love my work when they see it, I have found on many occasions a wariness to me, or my authenticity.
Race can be the obvious factor. However my class and the preconceptions of me regarding this are huge contributing factors. I allow the quality of my work and presentation to dispel the frowns, or in some cases disbelief that I produced the work. I do not conform to a tribe, and this has caused difficulties. I am my own person, and by being so comes with it an element of being an outsider.
You have been a working artist for many years. What positive changes have you witnessed, and what negatives, if any have risen to the surface?
Positive changes are that I am seeing more black people attending art fairs as well as showing work at at them. There will always be the underlying vibe of feeling unwelcome when attending a private view in Mayfair for example. This is life to anyone who has stepped outside their normal confines of their postcode.
Unconscious bias will always be part of the many hurdles to jump; Whereby early on in my career I would become angry, I am more wiser now in how I deal with it.
This factor now drives me.
The written word often comes into your work. Where do these statement come from, and is writing a part of your life in general?
I listen to music a lot in the studio, and sometimes a line of a song that I am listening to may find its way onto the drawing or painting. I also watch a lot of documentaries about history and I cross reference information that I may hear by writing it down in a notebook.
As one of the heads of a special school for 4 years, I was always attending meetings and note taking. I need to write things down, things that need to be done, things I have seen. Some of these observations may then end up in a painting or drawing.
How would you describe your general emotions and state of mind?
I am deep. I am a thinker. I am reflective. I am resilient. And I am very passionate.
Mental health is a big topic, and thank god a very much open conversation these days. Men especially struggle with mental health due to the lack of openness regarding their own difficulties with communication and the perception of men. What advice would you give to our readers about coping with issues of the mind?
Mental Health issues are very normal. I have worked in Adolescent Mental Health for many years, working with young people with behaviour orders etc.
Mental Health is a big topic, but the issue of being able to have an open dialogue regarding personal Mental Health is still very difficult.
Masculinity in the 21century has many constraints and pressures. Statistics show that Mental Health affecting men is huge. Through my work in the education system I am alarmed to what degree Mental Health in young people is on the rise. But seeing the pressures young men are faced with today, it's quite understandable.
A key to promoting positive Mental Health is to have effective communication with others, and surrounding yourself with people who are not about to judge you.
Also, owning your differences, and educating yourself regarding your own behaviour, this information can be key. Understanding what your triggers are, and what are the cause of these triggers. Knowing one's own Mental Health issues are key to positive personal growth.
Your studio is in East London. On a basis of your working time at the studio, is this a structured day or is it quite casual, and do you have a social element to your work space, or are you more comfortable being isolated?
What is the soundtrack to your studio generally?
My studio is on the cusp of the canal in the Olympic Park and it overlooks the canal, so I see the water whenever I arrive. It a haven for me. A studio day would begin around 10.00am ( depending on my mood ) I do have a routine. 15 minutes reflection in my space. I switch on LBC Radio pending on the vibe, or I listen to one of my many House music tapes dating back to 1987. There is one tape I have on ‘repeat’ that is 90 minutes of orgasmic mixing and tunes that elevate me back to an era long passed. I love House Music, it’s in my DNA.
Isolation is therapeutic. I have no problem being on my own. As long as I have materials and music then I am inspired and I can create.
What advice would you give to young artists from diverse backgrounds?
Celebrate your uniqueness, and the generation you come from. There are issues of race no doubt, but that shouldn't hold you back from kicking down the doors!!
The art of African people has inspired artists for centuries, it has a deep soul. My advice is to find your own voice, whatever that is. As a black man of Jamaican parents and raised in East London, I have been inspired by my surroundings, my heritage, the experience and observations of my life. This has informed my practice, and it resonates through my work.
Your works have a playful visuality to them, but your underlying message is one of a political nature. Can you elaborate on the political message you comment on
I do not have a specific political message, I comment on what I see. My work in part is autobiographical, therefore the work I produce is based on experiences, observations and personal interest. Blackness is a theme that is consistent throughout my work. However there are a lot of historical references in the material I produce. I am often exploring the role of a black-man in Georgian London, as well as men regardless of their colour in Urban London. The work of the boxers is an exploration of masculinity and pride, and is often a narrative I work from.
I communicate visually with underlying message in my works. If this encourages you to think, laugh and question, then my job is done.
What’s the film that has most influenced you as a person?
Boyz in the Hood – I remember seeing this is a young man and thinking ‘wow’!
Favourite five songs?
1. Love is the message - MFSB
2. Love Hangover – Diana Ross
3. James Brown – Payback
4. Maze – Twilight
5. Total – Can’t you see.
Favourite place to find some space?
Dungeness – KENT.
Show runs from 30th May until 8th June 2019.
WOODSTOCK: 3 DAYS OF PEACE & MUSIC
BY SARA DARLING
It might be fifty years since Woodstock, but its reputation for free love in '69 has stood the test of time, and been captured in a no holds barred, 288 page, coffee table photographic book authored by music producer and artistic manager, Michael Lang, and photographs by names of the day including Ralph Ackerman, Dan Garson, Barry Z. Levine, Elliott Landy, Lee Marshall, Ken Regan, who witnessed everything, mud and all.
On August 15, 1969, half a million people waited on a dairy farm in Bethel, New York, for the three-day music festival to start. Billed as “An Aquarian Experience: 3 Days of Peace and Music,” however, this soon got re-christened 'Woodstock'.
However, 1969 was a time of unrest in America, when the country was involved in the controversial Vietnam War, and the civil rights movement, which led to insecurity and protest.
Woodstock was an opportunity for young and old to escape into music and spread a message of unity and peace. More than 500,000 revellers partied non stop, and the fact the heavens opened, gave even more reason for solidarity and loving thy neighbour (and plenty of sex drugs and rock n roll.)
The first Woodstock left a legacy as it closed with Hendrix whipping the audience into a frenzy, and an era of hippies, stoners, prep kids, hells angels and norm-core kids were bonded, even if just for one night.
Whether it was cheap drugs or flower power, the decade ended on a high.
Author Michael Lang went on to produce Woodstock ‘94 and ’99, and enjoyed a successful career in the music biz, working with artists such as Outkast, Missy Elliott, Madonna, Bruce Springsteen and many more.
August 2019 is set to see a fiftieth anniversary of Woodstock (Woodstock 50TM) in New York – featuring performers from the original festival alongside contemporary artists, cultural social issues that affect all ages of urbanites especially environmental activism and global warming. It's about time for another summer of love.
Pre-order your copy from Reel Art Press here
Arts Editor: Christopher George
Amsterdam Resized: the grandiose Amsterdam reduced to the smallest proportions. The pictures of photographer Jasper Léonard zoom out to zoom in on what makes Amsterdam so unique as a city.
Photographer Jasper Léonard passion for photography developed in a particular way:
"Through the pleasure I felt fiddling endlessly with camera lenses. It didn’t reinvent photography, but it did give shape to the photographer that I am today. My ‘lenses project’ was at the basis of my master’s thesis in visual arts at St Lucas School of Arts Antwerp in 2010. One of those lenses was a 45 mm Tilt-Shift lens, where the rubber of the lens is folded in such a way that at certain spots the image loses some of its sharpness in a typical way. This past year I went out and focused my lenses on the life I found in Amsterdam. Thanks to these lenses and my Tilt-Shift adapters, Amsterdam feels really small in this book".
A curios book where everything seems unreal, miniature, fake.
Showing Amsterdam in a completely new and unique vision, as unique as Amsterdam is itself.
Article: Christopher George
Contemporary artist Magnus Gjoen has designed a series of sculptures in collaboration with Baldi Home Jewels. Made from 24ct gold plated bronze and semi-precious stones, the collection will be showcased at Salone del Mobile in Milan.
The sculptures take the form of a grenade, Uzi and scarab; and in Magnus’ iconic style, he transforms the shape of something considered so destructive, into an object of beauty and luxury.
Playing with the juxtaposition of nature and the destructive man-made, the sculptures incorporate both bronze trees as well as snakes and butterflies in suspended animation wrapped around grenades.
Magnus Gjoen is known for his contemporary take on traditional masterpieces, often fusing the old with the new, with deep respect for the Renaissance period style and craft.
Baldi has similarly dedicated itself to the creation of art and beauty since 1867, creating unique and timeless pieces that embody the Italian style and centuries-old Florentine craftsmanship. Their collaboration is made up of exquisite custom-made pieces that are considered nothing less than jewels for the home.
WHO KNEW BONES WERE SO BEAUTIFUL?
BY SARA DARLING
Sarabande Foundation was founded in 2007 by fashion designer Lee Alexander
With an eagerly anticipated solo show coming to the Sarabande Foundation from Wednesday 18th September to Sunday 22nd September, 2019, artist Emma Witter will showcase creatively crafted bones.
Featuring sculptures alongside photographic prints and a site-specific installation, the works will pay gentle tribute to the symbolic and emotionally loaded material in the McQueen artist residence, which is named after his 2007 Spring/Summer collection, Sarabande.
Celebrating diversity, and hope for the future, Witter's show will focus on the
flower motif, which is symbolically resurrected every year as it comes into bloom, and Witter forms from tiny chicken feet bones.
Having explored the use of bone in varying forms, Witters has developed a fascination for the stark bleached whiteness, which are both delicate and strong. The artist began recycling bones from her own consumption and that of friends, going on to source from chefs, butchers and by combing the shores of the River Thames. Her process is labor intensive as she then boils, cleans, bleaches, dries, and then categorises the bones forming a lengthy and ritualistic part of her practice.
Rather than using a skull, Witter plays with the idea of her bones as vases, and everyday objects, which will hopefully widen people's perceptions of death.
See the show at Sarabande Foundation, 22 Hertford Road, London, N1 5SH from 18-22 September.