letter from london | february 2012

courtesy of vitorio benedetti

by Melanie Nelson

Building the Revolution Soviet Art and Architecture

Despite the cold and wet, trekked across to the Royal Academy of Arts to catch the last day of Building the Revolution Soviet Art and Architecture. We had to fight off the David Hockney fans to make it to the upstairs gallery but glad we made the effort.

The exhibition was a look at Russian avant garde architecture and its influences from 1915 to 1935. What came across strongly was the exuberance and excitement of the artistic movement  (Kazimir Malevich, Vladimir Tatlin, Liubov Popova), as the old order was replaced and art and design was all about new ideas, ideals and experimentation, which is great for art, theatre and sculpture but does not always translate so well into Architecture.

This is well illustrated in the photographs of Richard Dare’s project to document the architecture of the period. Stunning photographs in their own right, some of the buildings like the Melnikov House stand the test of time but many of the photographs are oppressive and only succeed in highlighting the failures.

model of TATLINS TOWER intended for St Petersburg

model of TATLINS TOWER intended for St Petersburg

Turbine Hall

Gosprom Building

Liubov Popova, Spatial Force Construction, 1920-21

Magnetized Space

Moving along from 1920’s Russia to 1960’s Brazil, and to the gallery I visit most regularly.  I checked out the latest in conceptual art at the Serpentine Gallery (IT’S FREE) where they were showing a retrospective of the Brazilian Artist Lygia Pape Magnetized Space.

A founding member of the Neo Concrete Movement (whatever that is) but seen as the beginning of contemporary art in Brazil. The work is quite varied and she is clearly versatile.  I am not a big fan of the Art films such as Eat Me (which is mouths sucking on objects) or Book of Time Livro  do Tempo which is primary coloured blocks mounted on a wall! But The installation Tteia 1, golden threads from floor to ceiling in a darkened room was very dramatic and effective.

Livro do Tempo 1961 to 63

Tteia 1

Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy

Best of all, not least because I can stay at home to see it, is Noel Fielding’s Luxury Comedy.  Love it or hate it, and many do, it is certainly different. The surreal sketch show sees Fielding team up with animator Nigel Coan, with music provided by Kasabian‘s Serge Pizzorno. Billed as a comedy but more an exploration of the imagination or as one reviewer comments “Like Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger recreating The Jungle Book. Or a William Blake inspired party-time.” A bizarre collection of weird characters which make Rene Magritte look positively sane. “Is it a joke or is it a concept”  Thank you Channel 4 and roll on Thursday evenings on the sofa.

melanie nelsonMelanie Nelson is the co-founder of Addison Nelson Design and AND Furniture.  She is based in London working on a diverse range of exclusive private and commercial interiors in South East Asia and Europe.

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