Skulls: repetition and representation

For some reason it always comes back to Bava. And while I know that the skulls in Mike Nelson’s exhibition More things (To the memory of Honore de Balzac) is not a direct reference to the skeletal figure in Mario Bava’s Planet of the Vampires (itself a direct influence on Alien), the similarity between scale and presence is striking.



Planet of Vampires 5

Part of the Repetition and Representation series. 

James Aldridge – Presence

Images from James Aldridge’s recent solo exhibition, Presence, at David Risley Gallery in Copenhagen…

In Aldridge’s work a tension between the real and fantastic is revealed and establishes a compelling psychological space. The conventions of landscape representation are abandoned in these paintings — horizons disappear and gravity and orientation fail to obey the usual rules. Yet connections between these birds, plants and other animals and the landscape remain, conjuring a strangely atmospheric result. Tension lies in the interplay between decorative and beautiful elements and the implied violence of dripping or vomited blood and nightmarish mutated mandalas.

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James Aldridge is included in an exhibition I’m curating at Mark Moore Gallery this June called Empty Distances that explores blackness and the void in contemporary art as influenced by horror.

Psycho House: representation and repetition

The fine line between imitation, homage, and influence in artworks and horror movies isn’t just reflected in the works of today’s filmmakers. In the early 1960s, the now iconic house featured in Alfred Hitchcock’s seminal thriller Psycho was the preeminent site of all things horror. In fact, it still quietly looms on a hillside at Universal Studios California as frightening and distant as ever to the tourists who ride by. And although Hitchcock had done something similar twenty years earlier in Rebecca (1940), using the house as a near character full of anxiety and memory, that film was all about interiority of space and of mind. Psycho, on the other hand, was a full-on exterior explosion, everything on the outside, the lure to a deadly trap. 


The slippages again occur here, reaching further back into art history, as the bones for the Psycho house were inspired by and modeled after this 1925 painting, House by the Railroad, by American realist painter Edward Hopper. Not horrific by any means, Hopper’s paintings reveal static moments shared between an architectural space (diner, movie theater, room) and those creatures who inhabit them. 


Thanks to the Horror and Architecture  (the new-to-me but still-awesome-after-zero-updates-for-two-years blog).

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Fiona Banner: re-imaging cinema

Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness tackles a real horror, one in both the wilds of the jungle and deep inside of man. Imagine, in the eyes of artist Fiona Banner with select designers, if Orson Welles had made the film adaptation in the 1930s through fictionalized posters. The mind wonders and the eye gawks at these stunning representations of a thing that never fully existed. It plays on notions of the unseeable but knowable, a familiar trope in the horror genre.

Orson Welles wrote a screenplay based on Joseph Conrad’s novel Heart of Darkness in the late 1930s. It would have been his first film but it was rejected by the studio RKO, and he went on to make Citizen Kane instead. At the time the script was considered too political, too expensive, and too uncompromising artistically, not to mention narrative parallels with the rise of fascism in Europe. Today other parallels are drawn. – from Artangel’s “A Room for London” program, watch the performance of the script here. 

Here are some of my favorite mages from her current exhibition Unboxing: the greatest film never made at 1301PE Gallery in Los Angeles:

The Greatest Film Never Made (Fiona Banner and Name Creative), 2012
Graphite on paper

The Greatest Film Never Made (Fiona Banner and Empire Design), 2012
Graphite on paper

The Greatest Film Never Made (Fiona Banner and La Boca), 2012
Graphite on paper

View more images along with installation images here.

The darkness of Frieze

Going through my camera after Frieze (a substitute for a forgotten pen), I noticed how the artworks I liked share in some serious darkness. This choice is aesthetic shouldn’t be a surprise. 

Fiona Banner and Empire Design – The Greatest Film Never Made (2012)
Graphite on paper
@ Frifth Street Gallery
Welles, real horror, and dream cinema 

Michelangelo Pistoletto – Two Less, One Black (2011)
Black and silver mirror, golden wood
@ Galleria Continua 
Black abyss, eternal reflection, the unknowable

Gary Simmons – Through the Mist (Ghost…), 2012
Oil on canvas
@ Metro Pictures
Haunting, frenzy, through time

Lari Pitman – How Sweet the Day After (1988)
Acrylic and enamel on panel
@ Regen Projects
Conglomeration of history