Friday, 19 January 2018

Lumiere London 2018

All photos: Dave Stuart except Lumiere London where noted

Sat 20th Jan update: A wander around different locations, more Light Art photos added at the bottom

Michael Davis – Ilumaphonium

Millions of magical ingredients make up a great London night but its not often a cloudless sky is one of them. Lumiere London is back for 4 nights and the opening night in Thursday was blessed with a crisp clear sky. If your wondering what that has to offer a lumination based festival the answer is far, far less of that pesky orange metropolitan glow bouncing back off the clouds and down onto the streets making for nicer long exposure photos. “ahhhhhhhhh” you all cry, “now we get it. Ban the clouds”.

Lumiere London Logo
Lumiere London - courtesy Lumiere London website

54 illuminated installations split into 6 kind of distinct areas are visible from 5.30pm until 10.30pm, you’ll never do it in one night. I certainly didn’t, so here is a snapshot, literally of the stuff around Mayfair and the West End that blew my photo neurons this evening.

Lumiere London Map
Map - courtesy Lumiere London website

The established tradition now is that Grosvenor Square is a great Lumiere spot and the Northern Lights by Alexsandra Stratimirovic was stunning, though I must have missed the “interact with” element promised in the VisitLondon guide.

Alexsandra Stratimirovic - Northern Lights

Building fun into art is a now well established way of making a piece of art popular so South Molton Street was our first stop, childhood regression is the name of the game as a series of seesaws invite you to create an illuminated butterfly motion effect. Read the seesaw instructions carefully and beware all the hazards, though there is one hazard so fearsome they have to hide it from us.

“Impulse by Lateral Office and CS Design” feat grown up child

“Impulse by Lateral Office and CS Design” feat lots of grown up children

Static neon bicycles proved to be as popular as they are non functioning, I’d be way more impressed if you could ride one but photos of intensely illuminated groins seemed to be the main takeaway from Robyn Wright’s Neon Bikes in Brown Hart Gardens. Bottle Festoon is a collection of hanging lanterns made from used plastic bottles collected across several London boroughs and featuring in several Lumiere London locations. Sadly not as visually impressive as the plastic islands in the Trafalgar Square fountains last year.

Robyn Wright - Neon Bikes; also feat “Bottle Festoon”

Not truly a portal but Chris Plant’s Harmonic Portal was mesmerising, it drew you in like a decent portal should then your eyes do that thing where they slip out of focus, you start to fall in and the music...

Chris Plant: Harmonic Portal

Start with Dark Side Of The Moon then think light, prism, spectrum and put the whole lot together and you might come up with something close to what Katarzyna Malejka and Joachim Slugocki are channelling with Spectra in St. James Square.

Katarzyna Malejka & Joachim Slugocki - Spectra

Katarzyna Malejka & Joachim Slugocki - Spectra

A Nightingale sang In Berkeley Square the popular ditty tells us, and we’ll take Cédric Le Borgne’s word for it that his illuminated branch sitting sculpture is indeed a nightingale, a very poetic response to the location – perhaps even the title “Was That A Dream?” nods to the likelihood of a nightingale ever having sung in the heart of the West End.

Cédric Le Borgne - Was That A Dream?

Absolutely my favourite piece for its subtle lightness of touch and the ephemerality of dancing slivers of intense light was [M]ondes by Atsara (France). Geometric light shapes filter through the trees and illuminate the buildings surrounding Mount Street Gardens and in doing so catch on twigs or what appear to be loose coils of filament, the result is like watching the quicksilver flash of a shoal of spratt by a harbour wall or a dense pack (?) of moths divebombing through a searchlight. This had me so entranced I never thought to take a little video, which is a good thing if that omission motivates you to go and see it for yourself.

Atsara - [M]ondes

Award for best invented word goes to Michael Davis for "Ilumaphonium", we could stop at that but Ilumaphonium is also a dazzling bit of neon light and clearly a lot of fun to interact with, the neighbours may be in for a sleepless night unless those drumsticks are hidden away. Those stained glass windows craftsmen knew what to do with a bit of light as well, didn’t they?

Michael Davis – Ilumaphonium (see also top of the post)

The most stunning arena witnessed on this limited perambulation this evening was undoubtedly the courtyard of the Royal Academy, stunningly lit and beautifully animated by Rhys Coren, whose flat solid animation Love Motion captures two lovers engaged in a passionate kiss which the segues into a grand finale that looks like a cell division process, cause and effect in effect.

Rhys Coren – Love Motion

Rhys Coren – Love Motion

As someone who photographs a lot of graffiti and street art I have endured more than my fair share of comedy masculine anatomical wall decorations, perhaps that overload means Simon Corder’s Bough 3 has just triggered the wrong visual references in my brain. Or is it someone flipping the bird in a very lurid manner?

Simon Corder – Bough 3

Reflektor was worth tracking down if not for its nursery lantern like effect then just to see if it did capture the spirit of Arcade Fire’s “difficult 4th album.” There was no connection.

Studio Roso - Reflektor

Bravest effort of the night was Camille Gross and Leslie Epsztein’s animated projection onto the façade of the Café Royale. It was complex, detailed, animated and looking stunning on regency splendour of the architecture but it had the impossible task of competing with Coke and Hitachi on the famous Picadilly Circus billboard right alongside.

Camille Gross & Leslie Epsztein - Voyage

Camille Gross & Leslie Epsztein - Voyage

Just off lower Regents Street is Stéphane Masson’s supercube, a roughly 2m cube with a matrix of specimen jars on each side. Projected into the glass jars from within the cube was a set of girls who may well have walked down from Carnaby St after a Mary Quant styling session dancing to a little ditty somewhere between a nursery rhyme and some music hall nostalgia but the lyrics referred darkly to the boys and girls going to school, getting jobs, wearing suits, all turning out the same then the girls disappeared to be replaced by the faces of members of the public who had stared into the camera. The joke was on us, in a nice twist we WERE the ones who were all the same, or at least all those who stuck their vizogs into the camera lens for the thrill of seeing themselves in the glass bottles were.

Stéphane Masson - Supercube

In St James’ Churchyard a family of 5 neon figures strides up towards Picadilly, not the most striking of the installations, if it wasn’t for the relatively minor interest of the light reflecting back from the railing spikes this one might not have bothered the camera.

Alaa Minawi – My Light Is Your Light

Usually you wouldn’t want your lights buzzing but lack of buzz in this context is not a good thing. Tracy Emin’s neon “Be Faithful To Your Dream” was insipid in its message and lost in its distant location above a church door in a locked churchyard.

This was a start, looking at the guide – well worth investing £5 on the hardback guide as it makes navigating around far easier than using the VisitLondon App or the downloaded pdf map (minimum contribution £1) – there is something on at Kings Cross which may be investigated so long as it is relatively free of the famous human logjam that developed over previous lumiere weekends and also apparently there is something at major graffiti hall of fame Leake Street. Maybe there is light at the end of the tunnel!

Sat 20th Jan update: A wander around different locations, more Light Art photos added

After a wander around some of the highlights in Westminster, Southbank and Fitzrovia, here are some more photos:

David Batchelor - Sixty Minute Spectrum

Patrice Warrener - The Light Of The Spirit (Chapter 2)

Vertigo - The Wave

Footfalls For Rambert

Patrice Warrener - The Light Of The Spirit (Chapter 2)

Ulf Pedersen - Droplets

Patrice Warrener - The Light Of The Spirit (Chapter 2)

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Vertigo - The Wave

Wednesday, 10 January 2018

"Cut and Run" Sweet Toof and Rolf Carl Werner 2 Man Show

Cut and Run
Sweet Toof and Rolf Carl Werner

BSMT Space
5d Stoke Newington Rd, Stoke Newington, London N16 8BH

14 Dec 2017 - 14 January 2018

All photos: Dave Stuart

Long time ago in a ghetto far far away, pink gums and teeth chomped sections of roof tops, walls and anything else they could get their bite into. Scarcely a murder, robbery or car crash in the East End of London lacked for gnashing teeth on the walls in the background of the news outside broadcast.


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Burning Candy On The Waggon by Sweet Toof

And not to forget of course he was a core member of the brilliant, now late lamented Burning Candy crew.

Burning Candy - feat Sweet Toof, Cept, Gold Peg, Mighty Mo, DScreet

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Sweet Toof, Might Mo, Cyclops 

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Sweet Toof, Cyclops, Rowdy; Westmoreland House, Bristol (feat Xenz in foreground)

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Sweet Toof, Rowdy, Mighty Mo, Gold Peg; Hackney Wick

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Sweet Toof, Tek 33, Mighty Mo, Gold Peg & others

Sweet Toof, Mighty Mo, Shoreditch

Just before Christmas, a bright shiny star travelled a long way North and came to hover over three shutters and clearly said unto Sweet Toof... "Paint" and lo, he did, and a wall as well.

Sweet Toof 2017
Sweet Toof, Dalston, Dec 2017

Sweet Toof 2017
Sweet Toof, Dalston, Dec 2017

Sweet Toof 2017
Sweet Toof, Dalston, Dec 2017

Just to pick a few bits out from between the teeth; there’s joy and wit in the appearance of the teeth and gums, a kind of cheeky devilish humour; it looks like Sweet Toof has a lot of fun getting up on walls

Sweet Toof, the artist behind those dental records tuned in, turned on and buggered off to a foreign wilderness but recently emerged back in London for a collaborative exhibition with Rolf Carl Werner at the BSMT space.

Show Flyer courtesy BSMT Space

Sweet Toof met Rolf Carl Werner in Sweden, they painted a bit of stuff outdoors which clicked and so they paired up for this collaborative show. Sweet Toof is actually no stranger to a molar collaboration.

Route Canal Drill with ROA (Bel)

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Sweet Toof & Paul Insect

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Sweet Toof & Paul Insect (related "making of" video)

Sweet Toof, Sickboy

Sweet Toof, Mr Penfold, Numskull

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Sweet Toof and Rabodiga (Esp)

One thing stands out about RCW – he seems to be Big In Sweden. Everything about RCW is written in Swedish, he appears to have no internet footprint on his own account and it appears he and his art have never crossed the Swedish border, so this joint show is literally breaking boundaries. Evidently he is a crack illustrator who also happens to have a decent pedigree as a below-the-radar graffiti writer. Not in a “hardly ever done any real graffiti” sense but in the sense that his style and practice was evolved in a completely understated home grown way away from the hip hop and the halls of fame and the metropolitan tracksides and tunnels where the legends competed for attention, keeping it local, hardly mentioning even to other artists and illustrators that he did graffiti. Sweet Toof himself asserts that RCW is great to paint with and that he is recognised throughout Sweden, but nowhere else!

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Flying Cap, Rolf Carl Werner, spraypaint on wooden cutout

RCW has a very illustraterly cartoonish style and that is not a million miles from the Sweet Toof groove. Influenced by hip hop, metal and fantasy, RCS’s work is colourful and phantasmagorical featuring heavily segmented creatures.

"Fly Till It Burns" Rolf Carl Werner, spraypaint on canvas

Fly Till it Burns is a characteristic RCW work, albeit very large coming in at over 2m high, it features a pair of pair of characters, the tread on the trainers suggests both are RCW, being devoured in a fantasy scene of mouths, flying spraycan caps, flames, smoke and smashed landscapes. Notice the graffiti structure, not only has RCW got his name on the tread of the trainers but look at the Capital R in the smoke, the C in the bizarre ghetto blaster and the way the two pairs of legs make up the letter W.

There is really only one of those stupendous oil paintings which Sweet Toof shows used to be dominated by.

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"Letting off Steam", Sweet Toof, Oil and enamel on linen

Often artistic pairings in shows typically brings together two separate artists each working individually on canvasses with, hopefully but not always, some kind of empathetic resonance, perhaps both providing their own idiosyncratic interpretations of a particular theme. Ok, you can reference Herakut, Faile and a few others who practice as a genuine team but generally a pairing of artists coats a deceptive gloss over the mundane reality that they may not have the strength individually to carry a show on their own. This is definitely not the case in “Cut and Run” where RCW and Sweet Toof paint together on collaborative canvases and objets.

Boner’s part zombie part cyborg face works brilliantly to show how Sweet Toof and RCW’s work compliment eachother.

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"Boner"; Sweet Toof and Rolf Carl Werner

The Night Dweller diptych has been presented on a shelf with a very urban nightscape painted on the wall and it works perfectly, it is hard to imagine why anyone would want to separate those pieces from the background, though curiously the cut outs are being sold as two separate pieces.

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"Night Dweller" Sweet toof, Rolf Carl Wener, spraypaint on wooden cut out

In Flesh Easter, RCW’s futuristic multicoloured illustrations add a psychedelic looking robo-punk aesthetic to Sweet Toof’s ghoulish skeletal zombie heads.

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"Flesh Eater", Sweet Toof and Rolf Carl Werner, spraypaint on wooden cut out

Humanoid Duet is also a piece that works incredibly well together but has been set up so that fans of each artist can just buy that artist's portion, which is a bit strange but, you know, shit's gotta sell!

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Humanoid Duet, Sweet Toof and Rolf Carl Werner, spraypaint on wooden cutout

For those who have not had the pleasure of visiting BSMT space in Dalston, it is a fairly idiosyncratic basement with a large main room, a white cube back room, a couple of vaulted brick alcoves and a galley, in some respects it is reminiscent of Pure Evil’s compartmentalised basement gallery back in the early days.



Sweet Toof has made some cool installations in the cellar like brick cubby holes.

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Sweet Toof and Rolf Carl Werner installation

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Sweet Toof

Many of the artworks in this show exist as objects rather than paper or canvas paintings. Both artists have contributed a large number of spray painted and acrylic wooden cut outs and in particular, paintings on artist palettes.

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Individual cut outs: Sweet Toof and Rolf Carl Werner

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Sweet Toof, Rolf Carl Werner, various acrylic and enamel on artists palette

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Sweet Toof Dental Charts (Acrylic and enamel on canvas)

I am grateful for the gallery staff who broke it to me that two of RCW’s cutouts represented male and female sex toys. Perhaps it’s something that a Swede would spot easily.

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Rolf Carl Werner

This show ticks a number of boxes: first sighting of Sweet Toof in a London show since his epic 2012 warehouse clearance “Sweet Revenge”; first exposure to Rolf Carl Werner - for these eyes at least; a bright energetic two man show with genuine collaborative pieces and finally, yet another strong show which further enhances BSMT’s very impressive track record for urban art exhibitions

This show opened before Christmas and you’d think that meant plenty of time to bash out a few stuttering and possibly drunken observations and fling some wobbly photos into a blog post but it doesn’t work like that, specially over Christmas specially for Graffoto. So, sorry this is late but at the time of publishing there are still 4 days left before the exhibition closes and one suspects that some of the unsold works may continue to be available through the gallery after the show. If you have the time to pop into the show before it closes then, like all BSMT’s shows, this is definitely one worth making the trek for (look for the small A Frame sign outside a narrow door descending straight down into a basement).

More photos:

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"Horny Skull", Sweet Toof and Rolf Carl Werner collab, spraypaint on wooden cutout

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Sweet Toof, acrylic enamel on wooden bats, pipe, choo choo etc

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Sweet Toof: Skull Duet

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Sweet Toof Dental Chart (Acrylic and enamel on canvas)

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Character by Sweet Toof, Molotov spraypaint cap by Rolf Carl Wener

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Sweet Toof (as if you needed to be told), water jug, clay pipe

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"Hot Water", Sweet Toof, acrylic and enamel on old bottle