Tate Modern: Bhupen Khakhar

Courtesy of Tate

My interest was spiked, I went along to the grand opening of the new Switch House building at the Tate Modern, a much talked about new extension, to this already iconic of art establishments. I started by looking around each floor, reaching the top, I was introduced to the new views of London. Afterwards I had some time to spare so I looked at my floorplan, l was handed this before I entered. The name, Bhupen Khakhar was listed, at first sight I thought, an Indian name (as you don’t normally find many Indian artists at mainstream galleries) so I decided to read on. What jumped out at me from the description was the word ‘sexuality’, his exhibition was stated to contain these themes. I thought to myself what could this mean. So with this question in mind I went straight to the gallery, to learn about this unknown artist.

In fact, Bhupen Khakhar, was a gay artist, born in 1934 (Mumbai), he explored issues relating to his identity, including his Indian-ness and his gay Indian identity. An accountant by profession who enjoyed to paint, he was self-taught, but was encouraged to attend the Baroda School of art, in Gujarat. In his works he explored the representation of how Indian’s saw themselves, through the eyes of an Indian, painting daily life, incorporating found objects. He is sometimes mistakenly referred to as a pop artist but he was more then that. His focus was not just on the consumer world but his local community. He looked at both popular and high culture, referring to European art history (Rousseau and Pieter Brueghel) for his compositions and colour palette. He created new works from his own observations and experiences.

He painted a set of paintings of local trades, know as his ‘trade paintings’, of mainly places where men congregated, a barber shop, a tailors and a watchmakers. Places that appealed to him because of his interest in men. These were painted for, a commission, for the East India Company, but painted through the eyes of an Indian, not through the eyes of a westerner looking at the ‘other’.

Kharkar came to England and he painted pub scenes of men, presenting a less appealing environment, lacking in colour, unlike his paintings of India, which he painted in bright and bold colours. He had a bias to his own sense of place and painted it in a more positive light. He came out after his mother died and when visiting England saw how men were free and living with each other. He seems to have become more confident and open to discussing his own sexuality, especially in his own future work.

His work presented his liaisons with men, depicting his inter-generational trysts, more so with older men than younger. What you see in the foreground of his paintings was not always the whole story, blurred figures in the background could sometimes allude to the existence of the alternative gay life (Green Landscape 1995).

Kharkha exhibited internationally and has been compared artistically to Hockney, however, observing the mis-en-scene of India, not the heavenly sexualised paintings of men in Los Angeles. His view is of presenting his own life and that of people who were associated to him, in his life, including his lovers and people who sometimes wouldn’t fit into clear binary categories of gay or straight.

He sadly died of cancer in 2013, but before then, was able to present his fight with cancer in his paintings, very much in the raw. He also depicted first hand accounts of the social history of India, presenting paintings of people caught up in the Hindu and Muslim fight, referring to the battle over the site of Ayodhia, a place considered by Hindus to be the place of Rama’s birth, with a mosque standing on it.

A truly fascinating exhibition of bold paintings of someone who had more to his character and a man with a sense of humour.

My favourite were Man with Bouquet of Plastic Flowers (1975), Man Eating Jalebi (1975), You Can’t Please All (1981) and Two Men in Banaras (1982).

Catch you later.



Tate Modern: Marlene Dumas

During 2015 I attended an exhibition at Tate Modern, the visual marketing for the Marlene Dumas: The Image of Burden, drew me in, I thought maybe this time I might see something to do with contemporary gothic art.  I am a fan of anything gothic and Victorian, I felt maybe this would be somthing similar. The ghoslty child-like face of the campaign advertising drew me in. This exhibition was to be held at Tate Modern.

Marlene Dumas, is an artist born in South Africa, now residing and working in Amsterdam, she draws inspiration from her own personal life expriences to develop a unique style. I believe most art comes into being from their life experiences.

Fundamentally an contemporary conceptual artist, who uses the themes of race, gender and sexuality to challenges our societal norms and perceptions.  The Tate refers to her, referencing her personal style as: [using] ‘Secondhand images’, she has said, ‘can generate first-hand emotions.’

One of her works presents a portrait of her daughter, in the guise of a black child, which interested me, as it challenges issues of ethnicity. And how colour can alter our relationship or understanding of what we view. Very thought provoking I thought…

The (above ‘Great Men’) image of famous gay men was a reaction to the anti-gay laws in Russia, which forbids the promoting of homosexuality. Essentially the presentation displayed historic figures known for being gay in the past, famous personalities, having been marginalised by society but who are regarded as great men, hence the title of the work. These are great men to us but have a different associated meaning in a country like Russia.

Essentially ‘we’ as individuals or part of a country or even the world are ever-changing and evolving and what we believe in once okay at the present time but may not be in the future. This exhibition inspires you to question who we are and everything around us.

A great exhibition all in all.

Catch you for a another post!


We Are Here: London

Yesterday was my day, I had been rehearsing from May till d-day, on Friday 1st July, to mark the 100 years centenary since the battle of the Somme.

I proudly volunteered to work on the Octagon Project at the National Theatre, at first information was not fourthcoming, it was a secret project and now I can understand why, having the element of surprise.

I took on the memory of Private George Ezra Fowler, a name that will forever remain ingrained in my memory. I was so proud to represent him and remind people of his courage to fight for what was right. 

Walking around London dressed in an army man’s uniform gave me an insight into how difficult it was for him and his contemporaries to move around with equipment attached, weighing me down. It is unbelievable to think that apart from young men of conscription age, young boys took part in the Somme, lying about their age, just to make sure they did their bit to honour their country and fight.

We moved around locations in Kings Cross Station, Islington, London Fields, Dalston, Regent’s Place, Baker Street and Waterloo Station. Occassionally singing  “We are here because we are here”, with voices raised and with pride in our hearts. So we remembered and did not forget. 

I am so proud to have been a part of this and will remember it for a long time #wearehere.

Catch you soon.


The Fringe! something new

Fringe! Fest

A final salute to 2015, just as the new year begins. I just wanted to say I had a great time this year, in November I attended the ‘Fringe! Queer Film and Arts Fest’. I had totally forgot all about it and I had decided not to attend. Luckily I was reminded by a group on my phone, the Meet Up app, I thought to myself a chance to attend an event with like-minded people. But there was no response, well if the mountain won’t come to Muhammad then Muhammad must go to the mountain I thought. Why not do it by myself and so I did.

This event is usually held in various venues across East London. Since I am not a frequent traveller to the east, I felt well why not. I feel or sense a connection or you could go on to say an affinity with this part of London. I suppose I love how this area inspires an outpouring of creativity, the many artists and designers and many other people who don’t give a damn.

I booked a ticket and sat down to a selection of short films, Shorts: Brazil, a selection of short films presenting different views and expressions on same sex attraction. Tante Pis Chapter One (Dir. Bruno Rodrigues/ Brazil & France (2015)) and Quinto (Dir. Rui Calvo/ Brazil (2014)), The Strangest Nest (Dir. Matheus Heinz/Brazil (2013)) and Floozy Suzy (Dir. Otavio Chamorro/Brazil (2015)).

Tante Pis Chapter One was about three Brazilian students in their 20’s leaving Brazil to study in Paris (Sorbonne University). The documentary presented their close friendship and how they see themselves. All together an inspiring short film of how people can change their lives. Quito a coming-of-age film about a teenager (Quito) who is uncomfortable with who he is and how he is dealing with his new discovery and his friends.

The last two short films were a riot of colour with camp humour. Floozy Suzy like Glee, a coming-of-age film, with youth tribes and a funny plot. I especially found the librarian otherwise voodoo specialist hilarious.

Films, art and much more, a good time out. Remind me to go again next year.

Look out for more photos from the event.

See you in the new year. Happy 2016!

App happy!: First Thursdays with MeetUp

 This month I thought I’d use the MeetUp app for the first time, it’s not a dating app if that is what you were thinking. Thought you might guess it might be due to its name. In fact, it is actually an app which allows you to find people with similar interests to yours. I chose to add myself to a art appreciation group, attending an event in the trendy east end of London. The event for this evening was First Thursdays, this event happens every first Thursday, when many galleries are open late. If you really wanted to you could pick up a map and do it on your own.  This time I thought otherwise.

The app provided me with a meet up at the Whitechapel Gallery for the Europa exhibition, unfortunately I was running late and missed this exhibition. Then after introductions, we were now five, we took a stroll to the Leyden Gallery, for Nude for Thought presents: re:Defining beauty the other beautiful sex. This exhibition included a collection of artists who are men who like to draw or paint other men. The big themes here were of perceptions of beauty, identity and masculinity. I was particularly taken by Martin Ireland’s male nudes, paintings with depth and well executed use of light. Marcus Bush’s strong graphic, black and white images were very bold and confident. An enjoyable first show.
Then we went on, off to 5th Base Gallery looking at the work of Martin Seeds’, Alternative Ulster, exploring memory and identity of Ulster in America. Not really my cup of tea this time but then it is good to have variety.

On we went to Studio 1.1 Gallery, Marcus Cope, All the Chairs are Broken, a selection of paintings showing a view inside the world of the artist. Paintings in multiple formats showing the working studio of the artist and a few small imaginative pieces.

I would recommend using the MeetUp app, just make sure you read the details clearly and don’t find yourself paying for any hidden extras. First Thursdays is a great way of getting a flavour of an interest, an place or making new friends.  For me I found out about these independent galleries. Usually small intimate spaces, with varying collections of work. I was excited to see and learn about these galleries, of galleries that I would have never have known about.  For me downloading this app was a good experience.  Here’s hoping to more fun times!

Catch you soon


London Fashion Week 2015 #LFW15

This year I decided I would go to London Fashion Week, it was to be held in London’s historic institution of art Somerset House. I thought to myself, well…, let me see what all the fuss was about.

When there, like many visitors I was hooked in… hook, line and sinker! The atmosphere was exhilarating: lights, and cameras flashing everywhere. A fun experience with good friends and a glass or two of champagne really went down well. The addition of champagne gave the event a touch of finesse, even though you had to pay for it, making the whole experience a lot more fun.

The trends show was beautiful in its simplicity and the designer show, again BEAUTIFUL!  The designer showcase, was the one and only, Amanda Wakely.

I once remember being told that the models walk in a very peculiar way and on first glance this was particularly noticeable, especially when you were seated right closeup to the action, that is in the front row. On a whole, I was glad that I had decided to attend, this event had given me an insight into part of the fashion process I had never seen before and it gave me an appreciation of all the people who put this event together.

Caio for now!


Surprise! Surprise! For me..

On a hot sunny summers day, in a pub having a pint, my partner surprised me, he had bought me a framed print of one of my favourite artworks. Whenever I have seen the actual artwork, in massive real-life multicolour, right in front of me it made me smile. Like it always did.

The piece I am referring to is L’Escargot (The Snail), by the French artist Henri Matisse, created during the later years of Matisse’s life, when he was bed ridden due to ill health and unable to paint any longer. During this period of his life he would paint large pieces of paper with different colour gouache and tear them into various shapes to form the final arrangement. Later it would be made permanent and be stuck down by his assistance.

I really do love this piece due to the use of vivid colour and the playful way the canvas is arranged. When I first saw this artwork I did not know what is was, was it a small dog? I though. The size and colours drew me in and much like an abstract Rothko it enveloped me and always makes me feel  happy inside.


See you later for another instalment.



The Queen of Fashion: Isabella Blow “Fashion Glore!”

Earlier this year I saw what would turnout to be one of my favourite exhibitions, rather than being about contemporary art, a subject which usually tickles my fancy; this time it was about one of the fashion worlds most beloved and eccentric characters.  Her life like those of many artists of the past, turned out to be very forward-thinking but was tainted with sadness and ultimately became tragic.

Having arrived at Somerset House, I wasn’t sure how it would be, going on by previous expectations of fashion I have come to believe they can be difficult to connect with, referring sometimes to the National Portrait Gallery or the Design Museum.  Contemporary exhibitions about fashion can be underwhelming or rather the opposite, too visual and lacking substance.

The display takes you through a journey of the ups and downs of Blow’s life, it is as if you are taking hold of her hand and being guided along with her. A little nostalgic I know.  Included in Blow’s new vision were fashion icons like Alexander McQueen, Philip Treacy and Julien Macdonald amongst others.  She found and nurtured these individuals and crafted a fantastic collaboration to create a beautiful aesthetic.  Very contemporary and very forward thinking.

I really enjoyed this exhibition, it had so much visual impact and enough background information dotted about that when I reached the end of the exhibition I was still wanting more.

Catch you later for the next post!



Courtesy of Somerset House 2013-14

ART: Man or girl?

When I am at work, there is this print I walk past everyday, do I ignore it or do I stop and gaze at it? Will it be today that I stop and give it my full attention..

I must admit I do like it, the style, well it is something different for me and it has, I think, a queer leaning. I find myself starring at it from afar but one day I got up from my desk and stood in front of it and gave it my full attention.  Now the question is why do I like it so much? It is one of many prints on display by this particular artist but I like this one.

Well, let me begin by introducing the artist.  I have never heard of this artist before until now, he is Jon Burgerman.  According to his blog he, ‘…is a NYC based artist interested in instigating improvisation and play through drawing and spectacle’ (Jonburgerman.com).


It certainly is playful, cartoon like, with bright garish colours.  I like it, it makes me smile, the subject matter I think is of a possible man with a cap on his head, clutching on to a hot dog. If I look closer at the description I find out it actually is entitled ‘She’s an L.A. girl’, so I got that wrong, not a man but a girl.  Even though the artist gave it this particular title, I still like to refer to it as, ‘He’s an L.A. boy’.

See you soon.