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Turning the table: creator becomes a spectator!

STIR Editor (Arts) picks his favourite published stories from the year 2020.

by Rahul KumarPublished on : Dec 30, 2020

Can the creator be a spectator (of their own creation) ?

Can owning the primary responsibility of ‘putting it together’ still have favourites?

I say, yes! And where I am headed with this background is to celebrate the year-end by taking a break and getting off my Editor’s desk (for a bit only)! I am choosing to be a spectator. I am enjoying the work done by my editorial team (and beyond) and scrolling through all the stories we published in the Art vertical through the year. While it gives me immense joy and satisfaction, I am instantly reminded of what we went through to produce each of the articles – sometimes pain, other times delight, but an experience that has been revealing all along. Artists, curators, gallerists, critics, and museum directors we spoke with have shared their versions of truth, ideas and deep concepts that they have worked with, and desires and expectations they have lived with. We became privy to studio processes, exhibition making philosophies and socio-political reactions, at a global level.

In house, things have been smooth, calm, and blissful, and every-so-often I have been in the midst of a tug-of-war, a combat zone, literally, but exactly the way it should be in a progressive organisation. Needless to remind that the year 2020 has been particularly unique. We had to quickly learn new ways to work with, unlearn some and create more. We are proud to have published over 1000 stories on creative works across art, architecture and design across the globe. We have celebrated practices of famous and established professionals while discovering some lesser-known ones. Each one is a gem (in my eyes) and has passed through my strict curatorial vision.

Yet, I take a step back now, sink in to my favourite lounge-chair with a perfectly brewed cup of coffee, and look back at all the Art stories we published on STIRworld. Here are the ones I am particularly excited about.

1. The inner world of Van Gogh comes alive at the Arsenal Contemporary Art, Montreal
For presenting the classical 2-D format of paintings into an immersive experience.

The richness of Van Gogh’s palette is made visible with strong brushstrokes| Imagine Van Gogh | STIRworld
The richness of Van Gogh’s palette is made visible with strong brushstrokes Image: Courtesy of Tandem Expositions

Offering an immersive experience for viewers, the exhibition Imagine Van Gogh at Arsenal Contemporary Art, Montreal, was presented by Paul Dupont-Hébert and Tandem. The exhibition was an opportunity to admire the works of the artist, such as The Starry Night, Irises Sunflowers, Bedroom in Arles against the compositions by Saint-Saëns, Mozart, Bach, Delibes and Satie.
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2. Refik Anadol sparks conversation about machine intelligence at Kraftwerk Berlin
For unique use of technology for intriguing visual artworks.

Latent Being, an immersive audiovisual installation by Refik Anadol | Latent Being | Refik Anadol | STIRworld
Latent Being, an immersive audiovisual installation by Refik Anadol Image: Courtesy of Kraftwerk Berlin

In the making of Latent Being, a recent work by Refik Anadol, the concept of machine intelligence plays the role of both muse and media. Curated by Light Art Space (LAS), this immersive, audiovisual presentation was the inaugural show by the non-profit art foundation, as well as Anadol’s first solo exhibition in Germany.
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3. BTS, the K-Pop sensation presents 'Catharsis' at Serpentine Galleries
For celebrating one of the biggest collaborative initiative of the year.

Catharsis is an outdoor installation by Jakob Kudsk Steensen in collaboration with Matt McCorkle, supported by Connect, BTS | Connect, BTS | Jakob Kudsk Steensen | STIRworld
Catharsis is an outdoor installation by Jakob Kudsk Steensen in collaboration with Matt McCorkle, supported by Connect, BTS Image: Hugo Glendinning

Catharsis, hosted by Serpentine Galleries, is the London edition of 'Connect BTS', featuring the work of Jakob Kudsk Steensen, a New-York-based Danish new media artist. Kudsk Steensen works largely with virtual reality and mixed media installations and has exhibited at FRIEZE LondonMAXXI Rome, Venice Biennale and also screened his films at Sundance and Cannes. Catharsis is an extension of Kudsk Steensen’s previous work for Serpentine GalleriesThe Deep Listener (2019), an augmented reality app for mobile devices which took the viewer on an audio-visual journey through Kensington Gardens and Hyde Park in a tech-enabled ecological trail.
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4. Why Nasreen Mohamedi never signed her works
For an amazing discovery and quiz that I played with myself!

Left to Right: Nasreen Mohamedi's ‘Untitled’, VS Gaitonde's ‘Untitled’, MF Hussain's ‘Mehndi’ | Sotheby’s | Nasreen Mohamedi, VS Gaitonde, MF Hussain | STIRworld
Left to Right: Nasreen Mohamedi's ‘Untitled’, VS Gaitonde's ‘Untitled’, MF Hussain's ‘Mehndi’ Image: Courtesy of Sotheby’s

Arts Editor, Rahul Kumar, at a preview of the New York auction of Modern and Contemporary South Asian Art by Sotheby’s, held in New Delhi discovers a rare canvas work by Indian artist Nasreen Mohamedi that reveals a fascinating anecdote.
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5. 'Counting Memories' and looking within with Chiharu Shiota’s installation in Poland
For one of the most impactful site-specific immersive installation.

Chiharu Shiota’s Counting Memories on display at the Silesian Museum at Katowice | Counting Memories | Chiharu Shiota | STIRworld
Chiharu Shiota’s ‘Counting Memories’ on display at the Silesian Museum at Katowice Image: Susan Szelag, courtesy of Chiharu Shiota

Shiota, a Japanese installation artist, shares her thoughts on her recent site-specific installation at the Silesian Museum at Katowice, Poland. The visitors to the gallery at the Silesian Museum in Katowice can look up to see countless strings of numbers hung up like stars in a filamentous universe.
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6. Flying for truth – celebrating the life of Zarina Hashmi
For the memorial of the most revered minimalist of Indian subcontinent.

Zarina Hashmi (left), and her artwork ‘Under the Dark Sky, Collage’ | Zarina Hashmi | STIRworld
Zarina Hashmi (left), and her artwork ‘Under the Dark Sky, Collage’ Image: Courtesy of Gallery Espace

As a young woman, Zarina Hashmi had piloted a glider and was irresistibly drawn to the challenge of flying. At the age of 83, on the first day of the holy month of Ramzan, April 25, 2020, she soared into the sky. Author and curator Nancy Adajania writes a heartfelt tribute for the revered minimalist, Indian-American artist and print maker Zarina Hashmi.
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7. Remembering the art of comic books giant, Jean 'Mœbius' Giraud
For discovery of the contributions in the fields of graphics through the family of this master.

L: Mœbius signing autographs at the Japan Expo in Paris in 2008. R: Levitation (2005) by Mœbius | Levitation | Mœbius | STIRworld
L: Mœbius signing autographs at the Japan Expo in Paris in 2008. R: Levitation (2005) by Mœbius Image: Courtesy of (left) Wikimedia Commons and (right) Mœbius Production

It might not be an overstatement to say that in the world of comic books and graphic novels, very few illustrators have had as much a grip on popular imaginations as Jean Henri Gaston Giraud. Graphic artist George Mathen and illustrator Tim Molloy recall how they discovered the works of late artist Jean Henri Gaston Giraud, aka Mœbius, on the occasion of his 82nd birthday.
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8. Art defacement: Co-creation or destruction?
For a thought provoking view on the biggest movement of the year that touched all aspects the society.

Angry protestors dethrone the statue of British slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, UK | Dethrone the Demon |STIRworld
Angry protestors dethrone the statue of British slave trader Edward Colston in Bristol, UK Image: Courtesy of Frieze Art Magazine

Sitting on the cusp of vandalism and remonstration, art defacement by the groups of public protestors is centuries old, as old as art itself. Taking off from the ongoing uprisings against police brutality, colonialism, slave trade and other historic social issues, STIR takes a look at art 'defacement' as a form of protest.
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9. Swiss artist Massimiliano Moro’s library of light and shadow
For fascinating use of artificial light to create visual experience.

Quieti Cerchi, Ortigia (Italy) 2017 | Massimiliano Moro | STIRworld
Quieti Cerchi, Ortigia (Italy) 2017 Image: Massimiliano Moro

The journey from the retina to the brain is a long one - the eye sees all but the mind can only process what it knows. Massimiliano Moro, who lives and works between Lugano and Barcelona, works with artificial light to create immersive, site-specific installations that are universes in themselves.
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10. A peep behind the lofty canvases of Tyeb Mehta to discover his towering personality
For exclusive and telling conversation with the family of leading Indian modernist.

Tyeb Mehta working on a canvas | STIRworld
Tyeb Mehta working on a canvas Image: Courtesy of Sakina Mehta

Arts Editor, Rahul Kumar in conversation with Sakina Mehta on the 95th birth anniversary of Tyeb Mehta. Excerpts from an exclusive interview with the wife of the late artist, who goes down the memory lane to talk about the man behind the canvas.
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11. Pablo Iglesias Prada capture human evil through his expressionist works
For the very powerful works that are uniquely devilish yet extremely powerful.

Untitled | pabloiprada | STIRworld
Untitled Image: pabloiprada

Pablo Iglesias Prada, a painter from Gijon, Spain seeks to capture human emotions and vice within his sinister paintings. The artist’s bleak figures often seem to be informed by an emotional burden of some sort: be it sorrow, despondence, rage or one of so many others.
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12. STIR interviews Theaster Gates discussing his immersive practice and the sacred
For the deep and commanding practice of a potter.

“While I hadn’t thought about ‘Walking Prayer’ in its current iteration as an enshrinement, it is absolutely an embodiment, a materialization, of things that are often murmured...,” says Theaster Gates | Theaster Gates | STIRworld
Theaster Gates, Black Vessel, 2020, Installation view Image: Rob McKeever, artwork © Theaster Gates, Courtesy of Gagosian

Theaster Gates’ ongoing solo, Black Vessel, at gallery Gagosian in New York harnesses Black spirituality practices and traditions to sacralise Black archives and who as a potter, likes to surrender his artistic free will before the altar of fire that is his kiln.
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