The London Art Biennale, held in the Chelsea Old Town Hall from January 20th to the 25th, showcased some of the most creative and ground-breaking contemporary artists from all over the world. The Biennale brought together these internationally renowned artists for a show that was diverse, exciting, and thought-provoking. Mediums and perspectives varied, but all were united under the common thread of talent and skill.
Upon entering, the first piece that caught the eye was Christine Allan’s “Hanging On.” A Canadian artist, she uses oil and gold leaf to create striking and challenging images inspiring the viewer to take notice of environmental issues. The combination of the rich color and gold leaf dazzled the eye.
Many artists used unconventional mediums to create their work. For example, the stunning French artist Marianic Parra utilizes glass and volcanic ash to explore the relationship colour has with light. Her work in the Biennale, “Before The Irisation That Is Not Sand,” is a momentous piece that mesmerized all the attendees. The glass and volcanic ash swirls on the canvas, catching light and creating texture. Parra cites her inspiration to be Impressionist painters of the pointillism movement, and it is clear to see how the inspiration she draws has created work that is fresh and exciting.
The interest in the internal and reflective was prevalent across the Biennale. Two artists in particular: Tanya Alvits from Denmark and Karin Alvarez from Germany, use a posture of self reflection to create startling and deeply profound portraits. Alvits, who is clearly inspired by surrealism, uses shades of orange in her self portrait “Heads Up” to create a mood of both warmth and uncertainty. Alvarez’s piece is the soul shaking “Regression.” Also using shades of deep orange and red, the artist paints a portrait of a deeply internal and symbolic mood, showing a woman in distress with her voice silenced. Alvarez is inspired by symbols and the abstract, like dreams or nightmares.
A favourite of the Biennale, the Swedish sculptor Agneta Gynning uses harsh mediums like bronze and rubber to create sculpture reflecting interpersonal feelings and relationships. Her work then, because of this interesting juxtaposition, is both intimate yet robust. One of her works in the Biennale, “Blessed,” is an example of this juxtaposition. The hard bronze blossoms from the base into two delicate wings, majestic and gentle. Gynning cites inspiration in sculptors like Rodin, and we can see how she has embraced his sense of intimacy in sculpture. The subtle curves and folds of material tell a story, and with each work Gynning reveals something new about what it means to live.
A true master of the multimedia arts, Antonio Colli’s work is a treasure of the Biennale. Colli was first trained as a photographer in London, but works now in a variety of different medias. His inspirations span from the painter Jackson Pollock to the great filmmaker Alfred Hitchcock, and he uses both Pollock’s emphasis on abstraction and Hitchcock’s intense point of view in his work. His piece in the Biennale, entitled “Projections,” is part of a larger series exploring the human body through differing perspectives, observing both the internal and the external elements of form. The piece is outstanding, the deep red and black jarring to the eye. He shows motion through the paint, as we observe a woman in the act of standing up from a chair. Colli’s love of both photography and film combine to create a new way of looking at painting.
Daniel Pesta, a multimedia artist from the Czech Republic, was a notable talent on display this year at the London Art Biennale. His work, which draws inspiration from artists like Munch and Klimt, uses grand, cosmic themes to project political undertones. His work is social and relevant; he uses his canvas to make a statement about society and the world. His piece for the Biennale is “Big Bang 3,” a breathtaking display of color and symbolism. In the “Big Bang” triptychs, Pesta is showing the viewer the creation of the world coming through one man. The acrylic is luminescent, captivating the viewer to observe more closely the frantic line details on the man. Pesta’s groundbreaking work inspires the viewer to consider how modern society exists in relation to the universe as a whole.
The London Art Biennale awarded Denis Mikhaylov, a Russian painter, first prize of the exhibition, and he is far deserving of the accolade. His works are challenging and political, giving the viewer the questions and allowing them to form the answers themselves. He is inspired by classical antiquity and paintings of great historical importance, which he then injects modernity into. His work in the Biennale is entitled “Criminal Code, Article 148.” The viewer sees a classical religious scene painted as if it were stain glass. However, some characters have machine guns and other non temporally accurate images. The juxtaposition of the black background with the bold images mirrors the juxtaposition of the classical and the modern, creating a work that is as edgy as it is beautiful to behol
A standout of the Biennale, Cathrine Edlinger-Kunze creates work of subtle elegance and quiet depth. The work simmers with brilliance and lingers with the viewer long after they have passed it. Although she is currently working in the United States, she was trained by her father and other masters in Germany, and this dual consciousness and international identity allows her work to transcend culture. Her work in the Biennale is called “You Are Not Alone (body and soul).” The painting has many layers of forms, washes of color, and traces of geometric objects. The work is extremely pleasing to the senses; it envelops the viewer remind them that they, too, are not alone.