Nitin Sawhney | Illusion and Reality

Nitin-Sawhney-2013-36-x-24-IN-91.5-x-61-CM-oil-on-canvas-Private-Collection-web-Cleaned      Album artwork, Paul Benney

Dystopian Dream is the edge between illusion and reality, which I guess is what life and death feels like to me.

In Nitin Sawhney’s own words, he is a composer, producer, and molecular accident. In my words, Nitin is a humble, intuitive, and meticulous genius.

Nitin’s love and possibly, obsession with music, began at the tender age of 5 years old when he trained initially as a classical pianist. He would then go onto learn jazz piano, guitar, flamenco guitar, and Indian classical percussion. The relationship Nitin had with music would also be a form of escapism and a way of soul-searching for Nitin.

Using music as a translation for Nitin thoughts and emotions has meant that each studio album created has been a cathartic release. Dystopian dream is no different. In this interview with Nitin, I get to find out in his own words, what his latest album represents to him and what keeps the multi-talented workaholic awake at night.

 

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What does Dystopian Dream represent to you?

“This album started with my dads passing a couple of years ago, which I found really difficult to deal with. I was trying to find a way of expressing everything I was feeling at the time.”

“I have always been into looking at different ways of looking at the universe, and at looking at life and death.”

“Some of the ways at looking at the universe, is to do with an interest in Eastern spirituality and Hindu philosophy and some is to do with how I look at physics and what happens to particles. All kinds of things to do with quantum physics interest me, and I kind of think that when someone passes away that maybe they slip into another universe.”

“There is this concept in quantum theory around the multiverse. That the universe is multi layered and that our universe is not the only one, but that there are many universes that exist parallel to each other. That is also in Hinduism, God is depicted with many arms and each of those arms represents perhaps a different reality. So I was just playing with those ideas in my head.”

“I was there when my dad passed away and I felt I didn’t know where he had gone. That was the issue I had. I thought ‘He can’t have just gone?’ It was a kind of internal and external struggle. So what Dystopian Dream is, is the feeling of being on the edge between illusion and reality, which I guess is what life and death feels like to me.”

“Over the last few years I have been lingering on the edge in my head of this reality, and wherever my dad went, which I couldn’t really let go of very easily.”

 

With your dads passing, has this made you feel more religious?

“No. I feel that religion quite often, is when a religion becomes corrupted or distorted by people’s egos, that try to control other people for their own reasons.”

“I never really related to religion, and never related to this idea of belonging to a collective way of thinking about spirituality.”

“Spirituality is a very personal thing to me and it’s very individual. I do think there are a lot of good things that come from religion, but which should also come naturally. Trying to be selfless, conducting your life with integrity and not being an arsehole to people. That should be a natural function of how you lead your life. It shouldn’t be that you need some kind of other eternal motivation, and it shouldn’t be that it comes from people’s needs to control you or tell you how to think and feel.”

 

Do you feel you got some of the answers you were looking for?

“It’s a difficult thing. I once said Dystopian Dream feels like the light down an infinite tunnel, and that’s what it feels like to me. You don’t ever really get the answers until you die, but then, maybe even then you don’t. An album for me is a cathartic experience and an artistic expression. So it’s about exorcising demons or feelings, that you at times feel are difficult to cope with or are therapeutic, but at the same time having an awareness that you want to organise your chaotic feelings into something that feels musical. I use the grammar of music to try and create something that I feel is moving or powerful or emotional.”

 

Collaborations on the album

“It’s definitely great having a name like Joss Stone, but also good having some of the young up and coming artists on this album, like J’Danna. You can hear with J’Danna that she has got a really amazing voice and is phenomenally talented. She has a touch of Macy Gray about her. You can hear that huskiness which I really like.”

“Eva Stone is a really talented young artist. She has a very similar tone to Eva Cassidy and also Joss Stone. It’s an amazing voice.”

“I seem to meet these artists at a very early stage of their career. All these artists that I come across, go on to do really well. I was working with Ellie Golding at the beginning of her career and I met with Rita Ora and Ed Sheeran. I was supposed to produce an album with Ed at one point. Also, Taio Cruz was in my band for 2 years.”

“I am drawn to great voices and it’s exciting working with such young talent.”

 

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What accomplishment are you most proud of?

“I was really proud of composing the Human Planet score I did for the BBC. There are many reasons why. I love what the series represented. It was about human resilience, and what it represented across the world and also about showing the diversity of humans. It was a beautiful series.”

“I had to do 400 separates pieces of music and orchestrate them all for the ‘National Orchestra of Wales’ to play. I was doing 50 minutes of music a week for 8 consecutive weeks running. It nearly killed me. I ended up with pneumonia at the end of it. It was a phenomenal ask and it felt like a mountain but I felt like I managed to climb it. It was the hardest thing I have actually ever done just because it was relentlessly creating music, but it was creating music with an amazing amount of inspiration from all these beautiful images and experiences of human endeavour. I felt really proud of that score.”

 

Is there anyone you would really like to work with?

“I think Thom Yorke would be number one on my list if I wanted to work with anyone. I just think he is an incredible artist and he has always stayed true to that. He hasn’t compromised at all. He has been really successful but on his own terms. Also I love the guys from massive attack.”

“But then, I also loved working with Mala from Digital Mystikz. We did a track together. So I wouldn’t mind working with him again.”

“I really enjoy working with Anoushka Shankar. Anoushka is a close friend. I’m godfather to her son Zubin and I was present at Pandit Ravi Shankar bedside when he passed away. I was producing her album at the time ‘Traces Of You’ in San Diego.”

“We wrote a track together called Fathers from the album, because my dad passed away a few months afterwards, the both of us were trying to deal with all of the grief we were feeling. So there was a kind of synergy that came out of what we were feeling at the time.”

“She’s an amazing person. She really does her father proud because she’s a brilliant sitar player and she has incredible technique and knowledge of classical music. I also knew her husband, Joe Wright, before they married. I had worked with him. Joe is director of Atonement and some of the biggest films in the world, Pan being more recently. So it’s nice knowing them as a couple now.”

“I have been lucky that I have worked with a lot of the people I really wanted to work with.”

 

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You are constantly busy. What is an average day?

“I don’t have one. I only get about 4-5 hours sleep. I get excited about the day. I have always been like that. That whole concept of seize the day, is quite a big thing for me. Not being a nut about it, but I think it is important to actually enjoy the moments you have, and I always recognise that I am really privileged with what I do. I have an incredibly blessed life and I recognise that.”

 

What worries you?

“What worries me is the amount of bullshit that is out there being bombarded to people everyday. There is an incredible amount of lying that is going on; and distorting of facts. Unfortunately people accept it. Also, what worries me is Islamophobia, and seeing junior doctors having to go on strike, yet more money is being spent on bombs. If they could spend just a fraction of what they spend on bombs, it would actually save the NHS.”

“I feel surprised that we are in a so-called democracy yet everything is so carefully orchestrated in terms of information received and how much power or little power people have.”

“Everyone should be able to speak out but dissent has become stigmatised. I was one of the people that marched against the war in Iraq. There was 1 million people maybe more, and Blair just went ahead and did exactly what he intended to do without even caring. Then the next time there was a protest there was only a hundred thousand, because people felt disillusioned.”

“You have to recognise reality to change it and I think how you go about changing it, starts with education and awareness.”

“It sounds like I’m going off on a rant in regards to the state of the world but I find it disgusting. It is George Orwell’s vision in a way. His dystopian perspective and that is partially why I called this album, Dystopian Dream, as I feel that we are living it to some degree.”

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Special thanks to Nitin Sawhney  for his interview with Public Description.

 

Purchase Dystopian Dream here: Amazon and iTunes.

http://www.nitinsawhney.com/

http://www.wangramirez.com/en/news/

Human Planet – Nitin Sawhney

www.paulbenney.com/paintings/

Twitter: @thenitinsawhney

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/NitinSawhney

Photo credits: nitinsawney.com

 

Banksy: A contemporary cultural icon of solidarity

A Time Magazine dubbed ‘graffiti master, painter, activist, filmmaker and all-purpose provocateur’, what is the artist all about? Now captivating a global audience, Banksy has a plethora of fans, with books, posters, tattoos and even an App demonstrating a distinctive skill set. The man (gender taken for granted here) anti-centralized authority. Whether it’s the government, the arms industry or big business, his art reflects fighting for the little man, and often this is done very tongue-in-cheek.

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“There’s no way you’re going to get a quote from us to use on your book cover” Metropolitan Police spokesperson, a quote from the back of his latest book, a collective of more than just his artwork.

 

In his youth, after finding his name, finding his style and finding his message, and after a hectic run-in with the transport police, he fell for the stencil design. For Banksy this wasn’t mere vandalism. It was dissent. Obviously, he’s not quite matching Che Guevara or Karl Marx, nor will he claim to be, but the socio-political edge was always there for him, and this can be seen throughout his lifework and its locations.

 

The identity behind Banksy: Who is he?

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Everyone who knows Banksy knows that no one really knows who he is. Confused? You should be, although more has become known in recent times. Apart from being born in Bristol and what you can take from his literature (mainly imagery anyway), the rest is fairly up in the air. In 2008 the Mail on Sunday used their investigative powers to come to the hotly debated conclusion that Banksy is a 43 year old man named Robin Gunningham, an ex-public schoolboy born into a middle-class family, (Queen Margaret University also released a scientific, apparently conclusive, study that points right at the public schoolboy). Anyhow, isn’t it interesting the peoples paper (owned by a multi-billionaire Lord) almost mock his middle-class upbringing, nearly demanding him to be from the lowest economic order to meet his ‘anti-authoritarian renegade’ persona? Although studies seem to be confirming the Gunningham hypothesis, naturally it is all being denied by anyone with any authority on Banksy.

In August 2016 Craig Williams had a stab at finding out the secret identity, throwing the controversy back into the air with traceable solid evidence. Although the base of the evidence was formed from a 2010 rumor that it is actually a group of artists, not a single persona, following around the band Massive Attack on its tour of the United States. Previous dates and drawings were dotted together, including locations and involvement, over multiple years, which show quite the compelling theory. There is also the intimate links of Banksy with the Massive Attack frontrunner Robert Del Naja (graffiti name ‘3D’), believed to be the possible culprit in chief. The varied global brilliance certainly lends its weight to the multiple artist theory.

 

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And so, although accredited as a Champagne Socialist for some of his actions to help the needy of Stokes Croft (a Bristol area), why does he choose to remain anonymous and why does this generate such an appeal? Ultimately, he named the reason being the legality of his occupation (if you can call it that), but on a deeper level he is clearly not a self-serving artist, especially if you look at the messages delivered throughout his work. Each piece of art he delivers is a risk; he can ‘go down’ with the law, so it is necessary to take the correct precautions. Studies and investigations aside, the secrecy and anonymity is all a part of Banksy, and in the globalised age of money and ego’s, the statement he may be trying to make is that his messages are more important than his name.

 

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Banksy Artwork

You will be able to find detailed compilations of the global icon littered throughout the Internet, and a brief google image search will show you nearly all of his known installations. So the aim here will be to focus on a small portion of his work. Not all his messages are delivered through solitary stand-alone art pieces left on derelict buildings, random doors, or war-torn walls in Israel. Although, if it does, the process of operations involves sneaking around in the middle of the night, creating the image with apparently no-one aware, and then uploading the images on his website at some point the next day.

 

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A 2015 exhibition funded by Banksy, featuring 10 originals, included 58 other artists. This exhibition was named ‘Dismaland: bemusement park’ and was located in a small town called Western Super-mere right next to his birthplace. Attracting many celebrities the self-proclaimed ‘UK’s most disappointing new visitor attraction’ was a dystopian theme park following the classical Banksy image of pointing out the ills of Western Society.

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The notable feature as you entered, besides the novel artwork, was a purposeful lack of any amusement or helpfulness from any of the bored and distressed staff walking about the park, including an unpleasant greeting from angry doormen. It took the pessimism of the UK’s political and social woes and bundled them into a ‘relatively’ entertaining area of an unused, degrading outdoor pool. Miniature exhibitions, role-plays, talks, discordant artifacts and other interactions attempted to mock the over stimulatory feel of the real Disneyland.

 

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So if you were someone who hates everything, you would have left Dismaland with more than just a smile, and a greater understanding of Banksy’s over-arching directive.

 

However, notably it was his stand-alone pieces that shot him to global fame in 2005, when he went to the West Bank in Israel and drew on the Palestinian side of the 425-mile long wall, messages of destitution and apartheid regime (what can we expect from someone born out of the left-wing hub of an already alternative city?). Pictures included windows to utopia, freedoms and escapism.

 

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Things got interesting when guns were drawn on him as he went to work with his tools.

Soldier: “What the f*** are you doing?”

Banksy: “You’ll have to wait until its finished.”

Soldier (to colleagues): “Safety’s off.”

 

And another interesting interaction from the Middle East recorded by Banksy. An old Palestinian man came over to tell him he thought that the painting made the wall look beautiful. Banksy thanked him, only to hear the response,

“We don’t want it to be beautiful, we hate this wall. Go home.”

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Banksy’s most expensive piece sold reached 6 figures and was sold in 2008 – Keep It Spotless was sold in New York City at Sotheby’s charity auction for over $1,870,000. The amusing part is that it was previously only estimated at around $300,000. Created in 2007, it is a defaced Damian Hurst painting of an L.A. hotel maid pulling up the original Hurst piece to reveal a framed window. Although this may be the most expensive piece ever sold, it certainly was not the only one to hit 6 figures. In 2007 the day after Sotheby’s London charity, Banksy’s website hosted an image of an auction house with bidders and the caption, “I Can’t Believe You Morons Actually Buy This S***”. This was the response to 3 of his paintings hitting the 6-figure mark.

 

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“People say graffiti is ugly, irresponsible and childish…but that’s only if its being done properly.” Banksy. Anti-establishment, anti-war, anti-government, anti-capitalist, anti-consumerism – with a common subject theme of using rats, monkeys, policeman, soldiers, children and the elderly.

 

 

PDMusiK recommends…

Public Description ‘MusiK‘ is a new feature showcasing new music, emerging artist, videos and upcoming DJ/Producers.  PDM will be collaborating with Phoenix FM radio presenter Vixter, a music enthusiast with a wealth of musical talent and knowledge. He grew up in East London during the warehouse and rave scenes in the late 80’s and 90’s. A self confessed “Pirate Radio Junkie” with a diverse music interest.

PDM will broaden your musical horizons and provide a lucid way to discover music.

Vixter’s first feature is the Best of Drum & Bass 2016

Playlist includes tracks from DnB labels Hospital Records, Spearhead Records, MedSchool, Soul:R and many more. All worthy of Drum And Bass Awards with tracks from Logistics, Mutated Forms, Liz-E, NCT, LSB collaborating with Tyler Daley and DRS plus many more

Enjoy.

Terence Stamp | The Enigma Continues

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Terence Stamp is a prolific actor who began his career in 1962. Linked with the iconic supermodel Jean Shrimpton, Terence was often labeled “the most beautiful man alive.” Now 78 he still has the famous hypnotic gaze that we see in his films. He also still carries an enigma. 

He is well-known for his title role in Billy Budd, which earned him nominations for an Academy Award and a BAFTA Award. Other notable film credits include Far from the Madding Crowd, The Collector, Superman, and Valkyrie.

Public Description has been promised an interview by Terence, in the near future but in the mean time lets have a look at the world of all things Terence.

 

EARLY LIFE

Terence, the eldest of five children, was born in Stepney, London, England, the son of Ethel Esther (née Perrott) and Thomas Stamp, who was a tugboat stoker. His early years were spent in Canal Road, Bow, in the East End, but later in his childhood the family moved to Plaistow, West Ham, London, where he attended Plaistow County Grammar School. His father was away for long periods with the Merchant Navy and the young Stamp was mostly brought up by his mother, grandmother and aunts. He grew up idolising actor Gary Cooper after his mother took him to see Beau Geste (1939) when he was three years old. He was also inspired by the 1950s avant-garde method-trained actor James Dean.

After leaving school, Stamp worked in a variety of advertising agencies in London, working his way up to a very respectable wage. In the mid1950s, he also worked as an assistant to professional golfer Reg Knight at Wanstead Golf Club in east London. He describes this period of his life very positively in his 1988 autobiography Stamp Album. Deep down, he wanted to be an actor—a realization that came when Stamp found he no longer had to serve two years’ National Service after being rejected for having had treatment on his feet. He decided to give acting a go!

Terence won a scholarship to the Webber Douglas Academy of Dramatic Art in South Kensington, after which he teamed up with another struggling actor Michael Caine with whom he shared an apartment with at Ennismore Gardens Mews.

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DIET AND LIFESTYLE

Terence has a rigid health diet which is due to various food intolerances, he had to give up wheat and diary and as his body became more sensitive it reacted negatively to alcohol and sugar so he had to keep them at a minimum.

At 27, coping with the fame that films (such as The Collector) conferred on him, he developed his first duodenal ulcer. From the age of three (when he had his tonsils out) to the age of 12 (when they took his appendix out) and at every stage of his life he has been dogged by painful illnesses. By 1967 he became so ill he couldn’t go to dinner parties or eat in restaurants. ‘If I had a cup of coffee I’d come out in blisters. Even a lick of a kid’s ice-lolly, and I’d get home and go crazy. I’ve always eaten desserts, I suppose as a form of emotional compensation. Even they brought me out in spots.’

Stamp was working on a film with Fellini and complained of stomach pains. The great director referred him to his astrologer for diet advice. The stargazer, perceiving that Stamp was born under the sign of Cancer, diagnosed a weak digestive system. ‘ ‘Stay off meat and fish for three months,’ he advised. It worked! Terence Stamp has been a vegetarian since 1968.

In 1994, with his friend Elizabeth Buxton, he launched the Stamp Collection, a range of foods for people who, like Stamp, are intolerant to wheat and cow’s milk. Thus far, the range includes everything from organic, wheat-free loaves to spaghetti – via sheep’s milk cheese and even a chocolate Santa Claus.

Stamp has developed daily habits to stay fit into his 70s. He does exercises for yoga, breathing, and meditation, per an article by Sarah Hampson of The Globe and Mail. He also does some Tai Chi and Pilates. These things all contribute to his ability to stay healthy.

While he doesn’t need to add serious amounts of muscle mass or get super ripped for acting roles anymore, consistent exercise is important. Stamp also does a weekly high intensity workout session that lasts for just 15 minutes. The workout is so intense that it takes him a week to recover from it.

Stamp has been active in acting for more than 50 years. His commitment to his health through a personalized diet is a major reason he has been able to stay fit and in great shape for all of these years.

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AUTHOR

In addition to his acting career, Terence stamp is an accomplished writer and author.

He has published three volumes of his memoirs including Stamp Album (written in tribute to his late mother), a novel entitled The Night, and a cookbook co-written with Elizabeth Buxton to provide alternative recipes for those who are wheat- and dairy-intolerant.

The Stamp collection healthy eating cookbook

The stamp collection natural cookbook

Wheat- and diary free cook book: over 100 sensational recipes from the Stamp collection

RESIDENCE

Terence Stamp does not own a house. “Where I came from, to own a house was something unreal – so when I had money, I gave houses to everyone: my parents, my aunt. But I never felt I needed to own one.” “My house is in my head, really”. Mr. Stamp’s last permanent address had been East Hampton, N.Y., but he sold his house in 1997. “It was only after I’d been there for a couple of years that I realized that it just didn’t suit me. It wasn’t what I was lookin’ for,” he added, his Cockney surfacing for a moment. “So I sold that when the market was good. And since then, I’ve been untethered, really.”

ART COLLECTOR

Terence has a passion for collecting Chinese furniture. His exquisite collection included pieces which he sold at the Sotheby’s Asia week auction such as:

Huanghuali recessed-leg table (Qiaotouan), Ming dynasty, 17th century. estimate $30,000–50,000.

 

FILMOGRAPHY

Year Film/ Television
1962 Billy Budd

Term of Trial

1965 The Collector
1966 Modesty Blaise
1967 Poor Cow
Far from the Madding crowd
1968 Blue
Histoires extraordinaires (spirits of the Dead)
Teorema
1970 The mind of Mr Soames
1971 A season in hell
1975 The divine nymph
Hu-man
1976 Striptease
1977 Blackout
1978 The thief of Baghdad
Superman
1979 Meetings with remarkable men
Together?
1980 Superman II
1981 Jules Verne’s Mystery on monster island
1982 Morte in Vaticano
1984 The Hit

The Company of wolves

1986 The Cold war killers
Legal eagles
Link
Hud
1987 The Sicilian
Wall street
1988 Young Guns
Alien Nation
1990 Genuine Risk
1991 Beltenebros
1993 The Real McCoy
1994 The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert
1996 Limited Edition
1997 Love walked in
Bliss
The Hunger
1999 The Limey

Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace
Bowfinger
Kiss the sky

2000 Red Planet
2001 Revelation
My wife is an actress
2001- 2002 Static shock
2002 Full frontal
Fellini: I’m a born liar
2003-2011 Smallville
2003 My Boss’s Daughter
The Kiss
The Haunted Mansion
2004 Dead Fish
2005 Elektra
These foolish Things
2006 The Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion
September Dawn
Superman II: The Richard Donner Cut
2007 Halo 3
2008 Wanted
Flowers and Weed
Get smart
Yes Man
Valkyrie
2010 Ultramarines: A Warhammer 40,000 Movie
2011 The Adjustment Bureau
2012 Night & Day
Song for Marion
2013 The Art of the Steal
2014 Big eyes
2016 Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
The Devil’s Harvest
2017 Crooked House

Sotheby’s

Observer

The guardian

Daily mail  

CHRISTIE’S FLAGSHIP SPACE IN BEIJING

 AN OPENING EXHIBITION PICASSO: HIS MUSE AND MYTH WILL BE INTRODUCED

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Beijing – October 10th 2016 –In Christie’s 250th year, the company announces continued expansion in China led by a brand new flagship space that will open in Beijing in autumn 2016. The new exhibition and office space will be unveiled at a grand opening on October 15th. A special exhibition of works by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973) will explore his influence on Chinese artists. The space will also showcase works by other leading pioneers including Max Ernst, Fernando Botero, Sanyu, Chu Teh-Chun, and Zeng Fanzhi. Patricia Barbizet, Chief Executive Officer, Christie’s, “We are proud to have found Christie’s a new home in Beijing, a city that is characterized by its tremendous cultural heritage and a profound collecting tradition. Christie’s continues to grow and invest in China and our new Beijing space marks an important milestone during our 250 year mission to connect art and collectors. We look forward to further exchanges with the art community and contributing to the diversified Chinese cultural landscape.”

As the world’s leading art business, Christie’s remains committed to its mission of promoting dialogue and cultural exchange within the art ecology in China. Following the opening of Christie’s Shanghai at the historical Ampire building in 2014, Christie’s continued focus is on increasing access to collecting and the enjoyment of the arts for all audiences across China. Located on #82 Jinbao Street and spanning over three floors, the new Beijing space is equipped with state-of-art facilities over 800 square meters. Conceived under the same aesthetic principles of Christie’s international sites such as London, Paris, New York and Hong Kong, Christie’s Beijing provides a multi-
functional and interactive venue for exhibitions, art forums, lectures and other activities.

A special exhibition of six works by Picasso, the most heralded artist of the 20th century, will be unveiled for the grand opening of the new flagship space. This exhibition will explore the artist’s extraordinary oeuvre– the themes and muses that populated his art throughout his prolific career, as well as Picasso’s connection to Chinese artists.

While Picasso’s paintings and his various artistic styles may not reveal distinct influences from Chinese art, the artist, in fact, was familiar with and curious about the Middle Kingdom’s rich painting tradition. Picasso especially liked and studied the lively and energetic paintings by Qi Baishi (1864-1957) and became friends with Zhang Daqian (1899-1983), the two most influential modern masters from China. This exhibition is an exclusive preview of Picasso’s works which will be offered in Christie’s New York Impressionist and Modern Art Evening Sale on November 16. Highlights to be exhibited include Tete de Femme, 1943 and Buste de Femme, 1938, two very different portraits of his great wartime lover and muse, Dora Maar. Jinqing Cai, Chairman, Christie’s China, “As we raise the Christie’s flag in our newly established art space in Beijing, I sincerely hope it becomes an integral part of the rich cultural heritage and the diverse art community of the city. We will continue our role in acting as a cultural ambassador and provide best access and expertise for art lovers, collectors and institutions between China and the world.”

Visit www.christies.com to explore special multi-media sale promotions, browse our illustrated catalogues and leave absentee bids through LotFinder(R), Christie’s online search engine, and register for Internet bidding with Christie’s Live(TM).

 

Preen by Thornton Bregazzi

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Beginning of Preen

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Justin Thornton and Thea Bregazzi met at the age of 18 at art college on their native Isle of Man.  But it was only five years later when they had both upped sticks (Bregazzi to the University of Central Lancashire; Thornton to the University of Winchester) and arrived in London years later that they became a couple.

After graduating, Thornton began collaborating with Bregazzi when his then-employer, Helen Storey, invited her to freelance on design projects.

The opened their first store in 1996 in a small shop in Notting Hills, Portobello Market. Two years later (1998) Preen went whole sale, and before the turn of the millennium (1999), they opened two shops in Tokyo.

Right from this start, their early, one off creations displayed many of the themes that Preen would revisit over the next decade: Victoriana, Recycling, deconstruction, utilitarian clothing, always with that masculine and feminine hard/soft mix the couple bring to their designs.        

Sharing the same vision and attention detail, the synergy between Thornton and Bregazzi has produced some incredible collections.

Their debut collection at London Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2001 composed of punkish elements; vintage lace and hand crafted effects,  this collection received rave reviews, described as a sartorial traditional clash, with a very British sense of tongue-in-cheek chic. Liberty Ross wore their ‘rosary bead’ blouse to the British fashion awards straight from the runway, putting Preen firmly on the fashion map.

Subsequent collections have built on this early success, with increasing sales and extensive press attention. As a regular must-see show on London Fashion week schedule, Preen made the decision to move their twice yearly runway shows to New York Fashion Week for Spring/Summer 2008, becoming a much anticipated part of New York show calendar. Since showing in New York, the international exposure of Preen has magnified and sales doubled.

They came back to London for their Spring Summer 2013 show, receiving rave reviews. Spring /Summer 2008 saw the launch of ‘Preen Line’, their contemporary line, this gave the designers an avenue for the rock and roll, easy wear elements of their design, with a strong emphasis on effortless everyday cool.

This season, Thornton and Bregazzi took on the ruffly tendency—something that began with a bout of the Shy Di ’80s nostalgia that has been breaking out in London lately—by putting deep flounces on the shoulder line of a black pantsuit. Slightly weird but compelling things also happened with the satin blouses, whose boxy, piped shoulders looked as if they might’ve slipped off an armchair. There was a lot of playing around with ’70s smocks and that moment when hippies began getting involved with Art Nouveau gothic romanticism. And that’s when the strongest pieces started coming out: a series of velvet dresses in deep green, burgundy, and pink; midi skirts with dippy scarf hemlines; and then the razzle-dazzle sequins for the girls at the backstage door.

 

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Now designing six women’s wear collections a year, with a style that is described as deconstructed chic with a minimal opulence, Justin and Thea have grown their label from a tiny shop in London’s Portobello Road, to selling in over 25 countries worldwide. Preen designs are worn by high profile women including Scarlett Johansson, Sienna Miller, Cate Blanchett, Kate Bosworth, Gwyneth Paltrow, Beyonce, Rhianna, Michelle Obama and Samantha Cameron.

 

Mini Preen

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preen

Indeed, not only are they successful professionally, but personally as well, which accounts for what is perhaps their greatest collaboration—two little girls Fauve and Blythe. Inspired by their daughters Fauve and Blythe and described by the designers as “ a labour of love”, their first children’s wear collection was launched in 2014.

When asked why the introduced  children’s clothing line- Fauve really likes to put on my dresses and ‘swish’ around the house. Also when I was young, my mum dressed my in mini versions of her clothes, which I just loved. So the Mini Preen idea was born. We ‘tested’ the designs on Fauve and her friends, and she was our fit model, which she hated, but she loves the finished products. And baby Blythe wears the tops as dresses– very cute!
What is your inspiration? Justin and Thea bring the same whimsicality to their kids’ collection-They take inspiration from our adult collections—the styles and prints, etc. Then shrink them! They use the exact same prints for Preen Mini as we they do for the adult’s Preen collection, but with smaller proportions! Striving for everything to have a relaxed feel while making it stand alone with modern distinctive style.

Information Source: Preen Runway

Research: Riette van Zyl.

Antony Gormley | Fit

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Preview: Thursday 29 September, 6 – 8pm

30 September – 6 November 2016

South Galleries, Bermondsey

RICHARD AVEDON (1923-2004)   

Richard Avedon

A portrait is not a likeness. The moment an emotion or fact is transformed into a photograph it is no longer a fact but an opinion. There is no such thing as inaccuracy in a photograph. All photographs are accurate. None of them is the truth.

Timeline of Richard’s Early  and Personal life

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Richard Avedon was born on May 15, 1923 in New York City. His mother, Anna Avedon, came from a family of dress manufacturers, and his father, Jacob Israel Avedon, owned a clothing store called Avedon’s Fifth Avenue. Inspired by his parents’ clothing businesses, as a boy Avedon took a great interest in fashion, especially enjoying photographing the clothes in his father’s store. At the age of 12, he joined the YMHA (Young Men’s Hebrew Association) Camera Club.
Educated in the New York City public school system.  He attended DeWitt Clinton where one of his classmates and closest friends was the great writer James Baldwin. He and Baldwin served as co-editors of the school’s prestigious literary magazine, The Magpie.

  • In 1941 “Poet Laureate of New York City High Schools. After high school, Avedon enrolled at Columbia University to study philosophy and poetry. However, he dropped out after only one year to.
  • In 1942 he enlisted in the Merchant Marine during, taking identification photos. Returning to civilian life in 1944. Avedon attended the New School for Social Research in New York City to study photography under Alexey Brodovitch, the acclaimed art director of Harper’s Bazaar.
  • 1944, Avedon married 19-year-old bank teller Dorcas Marie Nowell who later became the model and actress Doe Avedon; they did not have children and divorced in 1949.
  • In 1945 he was hired as a fashion photographer by Alexey Brodovitch, the art director of Harper’s Bazaar. He demanded that his models convey emotion and movement, a departure from the norm of motionless fashion photography.
  • In 1946 he established his own studio .
  • In 1966 to 1990 he worked as a Photographer for vogue Harper’s Bazaar’s Chief rival among fashion magazines; and also contributed contributed photographs to Theatre Arts, Life, Look, and Graphis. He continued to push the boundaries of fashion photography with surreal, provocative and often controversial pictures in which nudity, violence and death featured prominently.
  • Throughout the late 1940s and early 1950s he created elegant black-and-white photographs showcasing the latest fashions in real-life settings such as Paris’s picturesque cafes, cabarets and streetcars.
  • In 1951, he married Evelyn Franklin with whom he had one son, John Avedon; she died on March 13, 2004.
  • In 1955 Avedon made fashion and photography history when he staged a photo shoot at a circus.The iconic photograph of that shoot, “Dovima with Elephants,” features the most famous model of the time in a black Dior evening gown with a long white silk sash
  • On October 1, 2004, Avedon died at the age of 81 in San Antonio, Texas hospital of complications from a cerebral hemorrhage. He was in San Antonio shooting an assignment for The New Yorker. At the time of his death, he was also working on a new project titled Democracy to focus on the run-up to the 2004 U.S. presidential election.

Peak of his career

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Already established as one of the most talented young fashion photographers in the business, in 1955 Avedon made fashion and photography history when he staged a photo shoot at a circus. The iconic photograph of that shoot, “Dovima with Elephants,” features the most famous model of the time in a black Dior evening gown with a long white silk sash. She is posed between two elephants, her back serenely arched as she holds on to the trunk of one elephant while reaching out fondly toward the other. The image remains one of the most strikingly original and iconic fashion photographs of all time. “He asked me to do extraordinary things,” Dovima said of Avedon. “But I always knew I was going to be part of a great picture.”

Avedon served as a staff photographer for Harper’s Bazaar for 20 years, from 1945 to 1965. In addition to his fashion photography, he was also well known for his portraiture. His black-and-white portraits were remarkable for capturing the essential humanity and vulnerability lurking in such larger-than-life figures as President Dwight D. Eisenhower, Marilyn Monroe, Bob Dylan and The Beatles. During the 1960s, Avedon also expanded into more explicitly political photography. He did portraits of civil rights leaders such as Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X and Julian Bond, as well as segregationists such as Alabama Governor George Wallace, and ordinary people involved in demonstrations. In 1969, he shot a series of Vietnam War portraits that included the Chicago Seven, American soldiers and Vietnamese napalm victims.

Richard Avedon: Portraits of Power exhibition  The exhibit is a very powerful collection of Avedon’s work over the past 6 decades.“This exhibition traces one artist’s fascination with the animating forces of American democracy. Seen together, the photographs comprise a kind of historical group portrait, showing key figures from a half-century of political life. They provoke questions about the complex motivations of portraitists and their subjects, who work—sometimes at cross-purposes—to depict or project an image that conveys personal history, character, ambitions, and ideals. Finally, they reveal an extraordinary career-long investigation into the complex nature of power. Surrounded by the faces of the powerful, leaders and ordinary citizens alike, the audience is itself empowered by the dialogue that results between those who use power to exercise control and those who seek it to affect change.”

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           Malcom x                                             Marian Anderson                       

Avedon later described one childhood moment in particular as helping to kindle his interest in fashion photography: “One evening my father and I were walking down Fifth Avenue looking at the store windows,” he remembered. “In front of the Plaza Hotel, I saw a bald man with a camera posing a very beautiful woman against a tree. He lifted his head, adjusted her dress a little bit and took some photographs. Later, I saw the picture in Harper’s Bazaar. I didn’t understand why he’d taken her against that tree until I got to Paris a few years later: the tree in front of the Plaza had that same peeling bark you see all over the Champs-Elysees.”

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Awards and notable achievements

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Information Source:  bio.com

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