I cannot believe how fast the last few weeks has passed. I am so pleased to live in London and to have been part London 2012. Here are some snaps from last night at Forman’s Fish Island Riviera where the closing ceremony was screened and as you can see from the images it is right opposite the Olympic Stadium!
No other boxer in boxing history has ever been more glorified than Muhammad Ali. And the reason is simple: Muhammad Ali has always been a symbol, a timeless cultural icon whose charisma clearly transcends the ropes of the ring. Three times world heavyweight champion, self-proclaimed The Greatest, a social activist and a philanthropist, Muhammad Ali was born in Louisville, Kentucky in 1942; originally known as Cassius Clay, he changed his name after joining the Nation of Islam in 1964. Boasting an extraordinary agility and an enviable footwork – his motto “Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee” made history – Ali brought grace and beauty to the box becoming one of the most famous as well as celebrated athletes of all time.
Involved in several historic matches such as those with Joe Frazier and George Foreman, he won the Light Heavyweight gold medal in the 1960 Summer Olympics in Rome. In 1967, three years after he had won the World Heavyweight Championship, Ali refused to be conscripted into the US military on the basis of his religious belief and opposition to the Vietnam War provoking outrage from the public.
Despite suffering increasing physical disability, for the last 25 years Ali has worked tirelessly for many humanitarian causes, including relief of poverty, education, adoption, race relations, and encouraging people of all races to understand and respect each other. A peace campaigner since the 60s, Ali worked alongside black activists to try to end race discrimination in the US, remaining an ambassador for race relations under Obama’s administration.
Appointed by former President Jimmy Carter “Mr International Friendship”, in 2005 he was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom. Amnesty International have also given him their Lifetime Achievement Award and the Secretary-General of the UN bestowed him with the citation United Nations Messenger of Peace.
To celebrate Ali’s 70th birthday, Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery has kicked off In the Rings with Ali, a major exhibition with contributions from photographers and artists worldwide. Conceived by Dutch photographer Christina Jansen – who first met and photographed Ali in 1986 – and curated by the internationally renowned independent art advisor and curator, Sandra Higgins, the exhibition includes a wide selection of photographs and paintings of Ali at different stages of his life alongside audio and video installations, poetry and memorabilia, recording not just his contribution to sport but also his extraordinary humanitarian work through the decades. Among the artists involved in the exhibition are: Ken Regan, Michael Gaffney, Sonia Katchian, Neil Leifer, Carl Fischer, Christina Jansen, TerryO’Neill, George Kalinsky, Chris Smith, Graham Wood, Neil Kenlock, Chris Gollon, Roberto Rabanne and Duncan MacAskill.
1883 attended the opening private view on July 19th in the presence of Ali’s brother, Rahaman Ali and delegations of the British, American and Dutch Olympic teams. The exhibition organizers and sponsors are teaming up with ex-boxers Oliver Wilson and Rod Douglas to deliver The Muhammad Ali Outreach Programme, which will work with deserving young boxers from Holland and England. All artworks at the In the Rings with Ali exhibition will be for sale and a percentage of the profits will be donated to Amnesty International, Parkinson’s Research, and to a local boxing club in East London.
In the Rings with Ali will be on display during the London Olympics at Forman’s Smokehouse Gallery,
E3 2NT London.
Gallery open to public from 20th–26th July,
13th–28th August, Thu, Fri 5–9pm;
Sat, Sun 12–5pm.
Also open to the public from September 8th.
Opening times: 5–9pm (Thursday, Friday),
12–5pm (Saturday, Sunday).
More informations can be found here.
Words by Jacopo Nuvolari
If I had to use a word to define Barrie Cook this would be “experimenter”; having manipulated form and colour in his paintings for over 60 years, Cook has earned a unique place in the history of British art as one of its most renowned exponents. Intending to “break the habit of brushstroke mentality”, since the mid-60s he has developed a unique technique combining vivid pigments in juxtaposition with dynamic forms. Characterised by the overlapping of several layers of spray painting – sometimes as many as 30-40 layers – resulting in a distinctive “blur effect”, Cook’s work lies somewhere between truth and illusion – where the “unseen” becomes visible to the eye of the beholder. The considerable size of the canvases amplifies the tension between the visible and the invisible by making the horizontal/vertical bar-line format of the paintings envelope the viewer’s field of vision.
Featuring a wisely selected assortment of paintings spanning from the 60s to the present time, Courting Colour is Cook’s current exhibition. Curated by Sandra Higgins and hosted at Newman Street Gallery, the show provides an unmissable opportunity to appreciate to what extant Cook has pushed the binomial colour/form beyond all conventional boundaries. Among the works on display are Painting I (1965) and Untitled I (1976), both dating back to Cook’s most “sombre” period. Family Bonding II (2003) featured in the show along with Altarpiece (1992) – described by Paul Moorhouse as exhibiting “light filled with optimism” – and Lizard Spirits (1993) – named after the location of Cook’s studio – reflect a newfound “brightness” and a greater “serenity of composition”.
Born in 1929 in Birmingham, Barrie Cook graduated at Birmingham College of Art in 1954. A teacher in secondary schools between 1954-61, he later on became Head of Fine Art department at Stourbridge College of Art, a Senior Fellow in Fine Art, Painting at Cardiff College of Art in 1974 and Head of Fine Art at Birmingham Polytechnic in 1979. An artist in residence at Fishguard Art Festival (1984) and at National Museum & Art Gallery, Wales (1987-88), in 1992 Barrie Cook moved from Cardiff to Cornwall; this move is widely considered responsible for the “lightness of spirit” characterising his most recent woks.
Among Cook’s most recent group and personal exhibitions are:Lemon Street Gallery, Truro, Cornwall (2007/09/11); This Could Happen to You, Ikon Gallery, Birmingham (2010); The Edge, Falmouth Art Gallery (2010); Print Show, Newport Museum and Art Gallery, Wales (2009); A Cornish Perspective; Newlyn Art Society, Bristol City Art and Museum (2009); New Acquisition, Birmingham City Art Gallery and Museum (2008); Cornish Show, Hiltonyoung Gallery, Penzance (2008); 10th Anniversary Exhibition, Lemon Street Gallery, Truro, Cornwall (2008); Unquiet Earth, St Ives Society of Artists, Norway Square, St Ives Royal Corwall Museum, Truro, Philbrick Gallery for Fine Arts, Museum Collection (2007).
Explaining his work, Cook says: “Painting is a way of thinking. Each picture requires its own special logic. I use paintings to hint at, or make manifest the unseen and the intangible. I see them as an aid to contemplation and meditation”; I can’t think of better words to describe the art of Barrie Cook.
Barrie Cook – Courting Colour will be on display until August 4th at Newman Street Gallery, 18 Newman Street, W1T 1PE London.
All images courtesy of Aristotle Liu.
Words by Jacopo Nuvolari.