I was delighted to welcome artist Hemi Bawa who flew in from India to see my sculptures in Personal Structures,hosted by the European Cultural Centre during the Venice Biennale.
We had a great time visiting the many exhibits in Palazzo Mora and discovered a recurring theme with my syringe sculptures, acupuncture needles and staples from Dolk. Curators take note.
Later on we visited Glasstress and saw some ethereal glass work and then we went on to the Arsenale.
At this stage I was probably suffering from art fatigue, if that is possible for an artist.
I enjoyed the Argentina Pavilion with The Horse Problem – surely one of the most reposted images from the Biennale.
I appreciated the symbolism of folk masks but the masks continued on and on and on and I was relieved to see something quite different in the striking imagery of Food for Thought by Maha Malluh from Saudi Arabia made from audio tapes in bread baking trays.
The Italian pavilion left me feeling a sense of dread and not the Magic World I had hoped for. I left the Arsenale without going to the Giardini as I empathised with Lani Maestro’s neon words No Pain Like This Body.
I had seen a lot of art and yes, call me biased but I still thought that the best exhibition in town during the Venice Biennale is Personal Structures.
Personal Structures Group Exhibition is on until November 27th and is free entry, open every day except Tuesdays from 10 am – 6pm
I have been in a reflective mood lately, torn between elation to be exhibiting in one of the most stunning locations in the world Venice, and what has been happening in my home town, London, and indeed anywhere else in the world.
This syringe sculpture has been on my mind and on the drawing board for some time but I have accelerated its release because I believe it transmits a message of hope in these challenging times.
Arriving in Venice last week, I was greeted by dark skies, rumbles of thunder and then incessant rain….but wait a minute ! Who cares about the weather. I had been invited to exhibit my artwork at the preeminent cultural event in the most beautiful city in the whole world.
The Venice Biennale draws hundreds of thousands of art lovers and professionals from all over the world and I am going to be a part of this for the next 7 months, so I repeat, who cares about the weather.
After checking in to my apartment, I decided to head off to Palazzo Mora early to check that the lights did not reflect too much off the plexiglas cases. This palazzo is one of the three palazzi taken over by the European Cultural Centre for the Personal Structures group exhibition and also the Kiribati National Pavilion as well as the Seychelles National Pavilion. Kiribati and Venice, although at different sides of the world both geographically and culturally, share similar environmental challenges in that they are both sinking.
As I feared, the lights were too fierce but I felt churlish complaining that the great Hermann Nitsch’s blood paintings were vividly reflected on my artwork. This calls for tact and diplomacy and actually lend another perspective to my syringes sculptures…think Anish Kapoor’s highly reflective sculptures.
I checked out my other fellow artists and who should be behind my wall but none other than the great Jeff Koons…how blessed am I ! Nitsch’s blood and gore paintings, Anthony Moman’s syringe sculptures and Jeff Koon’s balloon dogs. Well this is the Venice Biennale, after all.
At 6pm there was a steady trickle of people arriving and by 6.30 it became a torrent as they arrived by the hundred. By 7pm with the Prosecco flowing, and trays of exquisite canapés passing me by, it was barely breathing room.
I was gratified to see the many people who did a double take as they realized that my shapes were formed not by led lights or ball bearings (now there’s an idea ) but real, fully armed syringes. The reactions were mixed from surprise, disgust – phobia of needles, to incredulous, but at least no one was complacent or unreactive. That is all I wished for, to provoke a strong reaction amongst all this amazing art.
To take the Kiribati motto : “Te Mauri, Te Raoi ao Te Tabomoa”
Love Is The Drug (Green) 2017
Syringe on marine wood in plexiglas case
42 x 42 cm
I like a challenge. It takes you out of your comfort zone. I was asked to create a syringe sculpture using a client’s prototype syringes. The time frame was tight as I was busy preparing my work for the Venice Biennale. My first thought was to decline the offer but as I said I like being challenged.
This is the result. I think these syringes are stunning.