MARK KINGWELL & RADOSLAW KUDLINSKI (BLUE REPUBLIC)
in partnership with
Mademoiselle Kobro is a new Blue Republic initiative, intended as an open forum for the presentation of cutting-edge artists, curators, cultural thinkers, and activists, whose practice and research strongly is attuned to the changing paradigms of our time, and the recognition of an urgent need for the expansion of the definition of art.
This initiative is a space without a space, intended to be mobile in the extreme – you will meet Mademoiselle Kobro in a gallery, in a kitchen of a small apartment, under the bridge, in your head, or in someone else’s pocket – because art can happen everywhere and anywhere, not just where the traps are set.
As Karl Kraus postulated “… language is not the means to distribute ready-made opinions, but rather the medium of the thought itself.” Mademoiselle Kobro, in partnership with Katzman Contemporary, is presenting an exhibition of German artist/medical doctor Bruno von Ulm, and emerging Greek-Canadian artist, Daphne Vlassis. The curators of this exhibition are Mark Kingwell (also the author of the exhibition essays), in collaboration with Blue Republic’s Radoslaw Kudlinski.
On View: March 12 to April 9, 2016
Opening Reception: Saturday, March 12 from 2 to 5 p
Mark Kingwell, Radoslaw Kudlinski, and Daphne Vlassis will be present. For further details, please visit the Mademoiselle Kobro Facebook event page.
Bruno von Ulm, Duperele, photo collage, 15” x 7”, 2008
“Vlassis’ work is suffused with a joie de vivre and a sense of hope. Even the rather disturbing self-portraits shot through a drum skin, which show irregular shapes with apparently erased faces of terrible deformations, acquire, in their numbers, a Frankensteinian charm. Yes, these are monsters! But they are monsters possessed of a certain inarticulate tenderness, a touching luminosity, beautiful freaks arrayed in a potentially endless portrait series.
Meanwhile, von Ulm’s celebrated nihilism, his neo-Nietzschean darkness, is worked out in a series of works that are funny, nasty, disturbing, and ironic. We sense the aura of Bruno on the gallery floor, smiling wryly at our presence. Why are you here, friends? What do you hope to gain by travelling to this destination and standing in the presence of these objects? The suggestion is not quite that the joke is on us – the artist mocking those who seek his ‘insight’ for their fecklessness and credulity. It is more general, and more personal, than that. Bruno is aware that the main joke is on him, not us.
We write, and make art, and forge connections; we build institutions, and keep alive the memories of those who have passed from the messy realities of the mortal plane. This is, after all, the only form of immortality we know. This is a series of devil’s bargains that we make with ourselves. Because what else? Perhaps Bruno’s own hopeless half-smile is the ultimate artwork of our confusion, a stamp of cynical approval at the sight of our walking in this space. Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name. Enjoy the show!” – from “Exhibition Notes” by Mark Kingwell, co-curator (2016)
Bruno von Ulm, Paris – Rotterdam 16:55, digital print, 11” x 8.5”, 2010
Bruno von Ulm is a professional enigma, a visual and escape artist, as well as a medical doctor. He has contributed to medical rescue missions in Rwanda, Sudan, and Sierra Leone. He has been involved with visual art projects around the world. He studied art and medicine in Munich and Nuremberg. Presently, von Ulm has no fixed address.
Daphne Vlassis, Jarred #10, digital print, 19 ¾” x 19 ¾”, 2016
Daphne Vlassis is a visual artist and musician, raised in Athens, London, Madrid, and Vienna. She studied visual art, philosophy, and Spanish culture at the University of Toronto, at York University, as well as at the Royal Conservatory. She has exhibited her artwork in Canada, Greece, and the United States. She is based in Toronto and Athens.
Bruno von Ulm and Daphne Vlassis, Pornografia, video still, 2016
Mark Kingwell is a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Toronto and contributing editor of Harper’s Magazine. He is the author or coauthor of 17 books of political, cultural, and aesthetic theory, including the national best-sellers: Better Living (1998), The World We Want (2000), Concrete Reveries (2008), and Glenn Gould (2009). In addition to many scholarly articles, his writing has appeared in more than 40 mainstream publications, including: Harper’s, the New York Times, the New York Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Guardian, the National Post, and the Globe and Mail. Kingwell’s most recent books are the essay collections Unruly Voices (2012) and Measure Yourself Against the Earth (2015).
Radoslaw Kudlinski is a founding member of Blue Republic – a critically acclaimed, multi–disciplinary collaboration with Anna Passakas. The collective has been involved in more than 100 research projects, presentations, and exhibitions in Canada and internationally, including: DAAD (Berlin), Galleria d’arte Moderna (Bologna), Biennial of Architecture and Urbanism (Shenzhen/Hong Kong), Ludwig Forum for International Art (Achen), CCA Ujazdowski Castle (Warsaw), Galerie Julio Gonzalez (Paris), Luminato Festival (Toronto), Doris McCarthy Gallery (Scarborough), Darling Foundry (Montreal), and for Galerie René Blouin, Katzman Kamen, and Georgia Scherman Projects. Since 2006, Kudlinski intermittently has been teaching visual art at York University.
Water Drawings: Twin Towers 2015
colour print 104.14 x 142.24 cm
Water Drawings: We Regret To Inform You That…… 2015
colour print 104.14 x 142.24 cm
Water Drawings: Gallows 2015
colour print 104.14 x 142.24 cmWater Drawings: Imposter 2015
colour print 104.14 x 142.24 cm
Posted on: January 25, 2016. / Category: News
General view, L to R: F Like Love, The Ark, Condominium 1 The Ark 2014, black tape on wall, ready-madeCornered Fuck 2014, ready-made Somewhere #1 2014, colour photograph, ready-made
Art Gallery of Ontario, Toronto April 5 to July 20, 2014 By Radoslaw Kudlinski POSTED: MAY 7, 2014
The “Francis Bacon and Henry Moore: Terror and Beauty” exhibition, currently on view at the Art Gallery of Ontario, is an assembly of works by two great British artists of the second half of the 20th century. Francis Bacon and Henry Moore were exhibited together several times in the past—in the 1950s and 60s, even. The question is what this combination of approaches means to us today. While Torontonians are familiar with Henry Moore’s oeuvre from the AGO collection, not to mention his sculpture at City Hall, this is the first major exhibition of Francis Bacon’s work in Canada. Even so, however, Bacon should not be a complete stranger to the Canadian audiences: The 1972 film Last Tango in Paris, strongly influenced by Bacon’s vision, was banned for obscenity by the Nova Scotia Board of Censors in 1974. Also, the National Gallery of Canada owns one oil painting by Bacon, Study for portrait No.1 (1956), as well as a collection of related Bacon studio documents acquired following his death in 1992.
I’m always interested in people’s reactions to art, so I asked a few questions of a teenage girl standing with a group of friends in front of Bacon’s Seated Figure (1983). “What do you think?,” I said.
“I kind of like it.”
“Why do you?”
“I don’t know.” Here, she hesitated for a moment. “It’s like a horror movie: nice, and colourful, and scary.”
“Scary like ‘I know who you are under the monster costume,’ or…..?”
She didn’t let me finish, bursting with certainty.
“No,” she said firmly, “it’s serious scary.”
In the 1989 Batman movie directed by Tim Burton, the Joker evaluates Bacon’s work in a similar way that this girl did. In one scene, the Joker enters Gotham’s art museum with a gang of bad-ass followers armed with spray paint, paint in cans, and brushes. What follows (after everybody else has been rendered unconscious by poison gas) is a spree of vandalism that comes to a stop in front of Francis Bacon’s painting Figure with Meat (1954). Joker prevents one of his sidekicks from slashing the canvas and exclaims, “Hold it! I kind of like this one, Bob. Leave it!”
In this filmic moment, the Joker is a modernist par excellence: like Clement Greenberg, he wants his Kantian moment of revelation; he doesn’t want to think in front of a painting. The Joker knows that painting is a repository of long, historical and conceptual evolution of the medium and with his statement “I kind of like it!” he acknowledges his inner kinship with Bacon. Just as its title indicates, that painting represents two hanging sides of meat on a dark background. In the lower middle, there is a figure with his mouth wide open. Perhaps the Joker can represent a radical curator who says, “Let’s forget the past. We start from right now, as if nothing ever happened before.”
Bacon’s figures—whether on film or not—barely hold their form together. They leak, they collapse under their own weight, they find stillness in motion. Bacon’s subject, or rather what is left of it, is trapped in the world in which it is impossible to feel at home; and the world that never becomes a home is one of the definitions of hell. While Henry Moore is still asking questions—and could ask, after Lev Shestov, “Why is it that people, so faultlessly able to describe and diagnose the illness, don’t show the least desire of treating it?”—Bacon is no longer interested. His soundlessly open mouths not only do not speak, it is as if they absorb sounds coming from the outside world. Similarly, while Moore’s figures are sustaining themselves entirely from within, Bacon’s are disengaged fugitives from history. Bacon is already “after” when Moore is still “before.” And while Moore’s nightmares are still rooted in anthropological concerns—corporeal and measurable—Bacon’s subject is a phantom without a name, without a past, because a collectivized subject is only and always an abstract fragment of a person.
But we need Moore’s confrontation with Bacon. Moore is a guardian of our sanity. His forms are stationary—despite the refined movement of all their structural lines, and their impeccable pronunciation of architectural tempo, as well as their perfect formal economy, they are going nowhere. And because of Moore’s immobility, tactility and measurability, I welcome his presence with relief. He defends us from Bacon’s radical, cinematic mobility, forever escaping our grasp.
Bacon’s state of convulsive stasis is an illusion, because looking at his canvas you have an impression that between the two or three takes, there are more frames, as in a movie, trapped in the same space. There is also a sense that this trapping of multiplicity is not a conscious choice, but the consequence of there being nowhere else to go. Bacon is the scandal of the flesh, the existential strip-tease—even a post-flesh, post-body concept of a person. He is a fugitive, and his natural state is motion, appearance and disappearance. He belongs to non-materiality, to cyberspace—and this is his paradox, because together with the sensuality of his pictorial matter, the materiality of subject is gone. That’s why Bacon is so relevant today.
I wouldn’t want to be in the shoes of this exhibition’s curator, Dan Adler. Like every exhibition showing art of such caliber—where honesty is unbearable and full of taboos, which we would rather not face—any attempt to domesticate dark thoughts is futile. The exhibition is elegant and systematic; Adler seemed to sense that no conceptual scaffolding is equal to the rage trapped in Bacon’s works. His subtle device—of regulating collective attention by providing pointers along the way—is helpful in diffusing the perception of the abyss, which opens up in front of our feet as soon as we confront Bacon’s dark vision.
Biennale of Urbanism and Architecture in Shenzhen/Hong Kong
Posted on: December 5, 2014. / Category: News
Luminato: aMAZEd Brookfield Place, Santiago Calatrava Architect, Toronto
1445 m2 – 15550 sq.ft.
source text by Mark Kingwell, Used with permission of the author. All rights reserved.
Have you ever wondered whether a city can make you happy? Not the buildings or the shops, not even the people, but something that makes this city what it is, a unique place, with a mysterious essence that is like personality or character in a human being. What can?t be faked or imitated, what doesn?t need to pretend to be something else. The way she walks; the sound of his voice; the toss of her head; the gesture of his hand. Cities are individual the way people are, fusions of the material and the spiritual. They are not mere bundles of transactions, or clusters of unrelated people. They live! And when we walk in this city, crossing from private spaces to public ones, and back again, traversing thresholds and entering shared spaces of urban life, we create living patterns of our desire. Mazes of possibility! We get lost in ourselves, on the streets and in the squares and among our fellow citizens; and, just by getting lost, we find ourselves?and our happiness. This is not a destination but, instead, an invitation. Come, walk with me, and be my love!
Luminato: Delightful And Permanent Conditions Of Impossibility TWO TRULY STRAIGHT AND PARALLEL LINES WILL NEVER INTERSECT NOT EVEN IN ETERNITY
Toronto Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1, U.S. Departures, post-security
213.5 m – 700 ft long
Toronto Pearson International Airport, Terminal 1, International Arrivals
907 m2 – 9766 sq.ft