ISSUE 11 March 2015
An independent magazine aimed at bringing the works of the young and talented to the whole world. Believing in ideas, thoughts and concepts, Garde Magazine follows the principle of simplicity and honesty.
Founders Cleo Tse
Copy Editor Marie-JosĂŠe Kelly
Creators Gabrielle Tam Rex Koo
Lyfeik Ting Ting Cheng
Contributors David Madsen
Special thanks Evangelous Androutsopoulos
Editorial We admit this has actually been the most challenging issue we have had so far. We are not talking about creators – they are very good (as usual). It’s more about the difficulties on our side since it has been a very busy month and we have nearly made it to a year of publishing!
from issue 1 and 2) who have received help from a close “pal,” Rebekah Kim. To continue, we have Nice Gallery from issue 10 who introduces one of their resident artists, Peter Bellamy. David the movieholic also shares his review of Under The Skin, a creepy movie starring Scarlett Johansson.
We would like to reserve the surprise of our one-year anniversary of Garde Magazine for later – who likes a spoiled surprise? We shan’t be party poopers.
What’s more, we’ve got a 101 class on comic strip writing through an actual comic story - writing and drawing included so you can learn as you read!
In the mean time, we hope you are going to enjoy our very Asian-Pacific issue this month. Out of four fabulous creators, three are from Hong Kong and one is from Australia. (We are not entirely sure about the term “Asian-Pacific,” but it should be correct unless Wikipedia is lying… and if they are lying the error is less our fault…?) In this issue we are proud to present Gabrielle Tam, creator of Onion Peterman studio featured on the front cover. We also have Ting Ting Cheng who focuses on painting and who shares a studio with Gabrielle. We have Rex who is very experienced in graphic design and who has made 2D and 3D works. We have also got Lyfeik, an independent record label formed by Felipe and Uriel (creators
…Are you reading this?
Anyway, let’s not waste any more of your precious time when it could be spent looking at art. So flip through now! Go on…you know you want to. And happy reading! Cleo & Natasha
CONTENT Gabrielle Tam // Printmaking Breaking barriers to do what you love
Rex Koo // Graphic Design
The visually impactful dreamer
Ting Ting Cheng // Painting The details of life
Lyfeik // Music The dreamer, the whip hand and the director
What is it... Comics 101 Evangelos Androutsopoulos uses comics to explain comics
Up and Coming Nice Gallery
Peter Bellamy, resident creator
Movie Review Under The Skin by David Madsen
Breaking barriers to do what you love Onion Peterman
Gabrielle Tam - When I am frustrated When I am frustrated is my first zine. I have a habit from high school, when I am frustrated or feel uninspired, I will make doodles that match my feelings. I collected all those desperate little sketches and print them into a small little zine.
What is it about modest artists that grab your attention? Why do you feel like you want to take more time to understand, get to know and appreciate their work? Is it because you realise they are just an ordinary person (like you and me), trying to reach for their dreams? Is it the fact that they can still manage to be ever so humble when clearly their work deserves much more credit than they ask for? Gabrielle Tam from Hong Kong creates silkscreen prints and illustration. She enjoys making “zines” (little magazines) and drawing silly things. “I loved art since I was young. I enjoyed Japanese manga and loved watching a TV show called ‘Art Attack,’” she said. She’s also absolutely humble. She described herself as being “slow to warm up” and “mildly socially awkward,” which was not the impression Garde Magazine got when we met her. “Most of the time I am ashamed of my art, but sometimes I am proud,” she added. “I am bad at using words to express myself and because my part-time work is teaching children, I think (and sometimes act) like a child.” Gabrielle’s dream job was always something artsy. As a child, she wanted to be a painter, artist
When I was in secondary school, I wanted to be an ‘interesting person.’ I guess I am a very simple person who doesn’t think too much about the things in life but just tries to do the things that I want to or cartoonist. “
do,” she said. Studying visual art at Hong Kong Baptist University, Gabrielle was constantly painting. She only started illustrating and silkscreen printing after she graduated. “I never thought I would quit creating things because it is the only thing I can do. I get inspired by things and people around me,” she said. It was during her studies abroad which led to her interest in illustration. “At university, I joined an exchange programme in my second year and took an illustration course in the University of West of England in Bristol for one semester. Although one semester is a short period of time, it was long enough for me to realise illustration was the type of art I wanted to make,” she said. “Since then, I decided to start a screen printing studio for my illustrations called Onion Peterman.” Onion Peterman Onion Peterman is Gabrielle’s “solo illustration and screen printing studio,” she said. If you come by any of her works, this is the trademark she uses rather than her real name. “The name was originally made up by me and my brother. We were thinking about band names and thought this could be a good name, but since we never formed a band I used it to name my studio instead,” she said. After graduating from university, Gabrielle started Onion Peterman. “I learned the very basics of screen printing during university. After that, I researched a lot on YouTube, got myself a flood light and bought cheap supplies from Taobao. com (an equivalent to E-bay in the China market),” she said. “I started with a simple set up for my printing station. Even now, after two years, I only have one handmade exposure unit.” At the beginning, Gabrielle sold her printed postcards, stickers and tote bags at handicraft markets around Hong Kong. “But after I thought my printing skills were
Gabrielle Tam - Be Brave Be Brave is a short story about a boy who is afraid of swimming in the pool. I made this mostly because I wanted to make this one-page format chapbook. The zine can be opened to view the complete picture on both sides.
good enough, I started making zines and now I make art prints,” she said. Her work Gabrielle describes her work as lost, spontaneous and imperfect: Lost “Lost is always the first feeling I get when I start drawing. Most of my ideas are inspired from boring and confused days, when I am not sure what to do. After I graduated from university, I decided not to find a full-time job and spend time on my artwork instead. It was scary. It is still scary that I am on a path so different from most of the graduates in the city. There are no more teachers to give me assignments; there are no schedules and deadlines for my art projects. All I can do is draw whatever I can think of and that’s how I start creating things.” Gabrielle went against a social norm in Hong Kong where it is viewed as normal for students to seek for a job that earns as much money as possible after graduation. She
broke through a social barrier because she insisted on doing what she loves, even if it might not always pay. Spontaneous “Since I am not a very disciplined person, I don’t have a timetable for my art. I just make what I can think of. My ideas are always spontaneous - it could be one interesting stranger I saw on the street or something that I saw online. When an idea comes up, I will work right away before I lose my interest in the idea. That’s why most of my projects are short and silly.” Imperfect
I think I have many flaws in my work, to the point that imperfection has become my strong point. All of my artworks are made “
with inadequate printing facilities and most of my ideas in my artworks are brief and silly.
However, I am too conscious of these flaws that I try to learn every time I fail. Every zine I make is a new drawing and printing technique I want to try out.” One of the personal barriers Gabrielle faces in her line of work is a lack of confidence because she is so modest. Creating art for oneself is difficult, but creating art for other people to see is an entirely different story because the flaws one sees in their works can be endless. Artists are required to break through such barriers if they want to show their work to the world and it’s no easy task. The process Gabrielle currently shares her art studio with five other friends (oil painters) in an industrial building. “Our
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studio is quite messy with lots of canvases in various sizes. Outside the window is a small hill where you can see a little waterfall that forms during rainy days. Sometimes stray cats also walk past the window,” she said. Although it sounds like she has found herself the perfect working environment, she also enjoys working at home. “I mostly make sketches and create hand drawn/ digital films at home and then I bring the films to my studio, make the silkscreen stencil and print my work there.” “I always make really bad sketches and have really bad ideas at the beginning, so I spend one week to develop the ideas from my brain to start making drafts. After the draft is settled, I will then work on the colours, since colour separation is very crucial to screen printing. Developing the idea and getting the film done take more time than the printing,” she said.
The local art scene “Hong Kong has always been an international art market,” said Gabrielle. “We have Art Basel every March, where masterpieces are sold here with high prices. However, I think people are starting to shift their focus to the more local and affordable side of the creative scene. “From the blooming handicraft market to zine exhibitions, creators and viewers enjoy the art they are making and the art they can afford. I am always happy to see more kinds of art and I hope that we can make good quality art even with the harsh social phenomenon in the city,” she said. “In Hong Kong, space is very limited and rent is crazily high. Young and emerging artists have very little opportunity to get a proper space for creating art.”
Having good connections is very important. I am always too shy and I have little social skills, but I am learning slowly, “
” added the humble artist. We hope Gabrielle will
continue breaking through any barriers that obstruct her from showing her works – whether personal, social or environmental. We also hope no creator will doubt themselves or their abilities to create wonderful art!
The visually impactful dreamer Rex Koo
Rex Koo Only You Can Take Me 取西經 My first illustration zine. The zine contain most of my favorite scenario of 70-90s Hong Kong movie.
“You have to love design and create. When you really love it, you will never be tired of it. You won’t even calculate how much you earn and lose because you are already satisfied from the process of creating.”
and Dr. Martens, to name a few.
Meet Rex Koo, a full-time Hong Kong graphic designer satisfying his own principles as a creator and that of his commercial clients.
As a creator, Rex is not an exception of thinking in a visual way. He likes to think by the way he sees: giving shapes and forms to texts or abstract ideas.
“The biggest difference between creating for me and creating for commercial brands is who to satisfy. For the former one is satisfying my thoughts and concepts while the latter one means clients’ ideas come first,” Rex said.
“I like the impact of visual language,” he said.
He has done commercial works for famous brands such as Nike, Shu Uemura
Rex explained that being a graphic designer in the real world is not only about passion in creating, but also about problem solving. “I am happy that I have chosen graphic design as my occupation. It is very good training for problem solving. I persist on designing on my own because
I want a large extent of freedom, which breeds all kinds of good works .”
Choosing graphic design came naturally to Rex after he graduated from university. He explored further into his creativ-
ity with different medium and styles such as vector graphics, grids, hand drawing and woodblocks. And without a doubt, he loves them all. “The reason why I create with different materials and styles is because I love them,” said Rex. “Using hands to create is like flying in the sky, while using a computer is similar to driving a well-equipped racecar on a highway both are interesting and exciting.” He added that the continuation of doing vector graphics would desensitize him in terms of creativity, which is why he tried something new. Most creators have their own signature and personal characteristics inserted in their works, but Rex cares very little about that.
“I don’t really care about creative style. The thing I care most for is how to solve problems and try new possi-
Rex K of Si oo - Aft mple er Peop the firs ts le fro m 2D olo exhi (silk bition scree o n pr f Simple int, T P -shir eople, I t pri t ntâ€Ś ry explo etc) to 3D re the po (woo ssibilty d scu lptur e).
Rex Koo - Simple People - Hitchcock Simple People is a series of portrait created under the principle of „Simplify“ and „Symbolic”. Taking music and film icons as subjects, I’ve re-renders these famous faces to simple graphic perfection.
bilities. I think being over conscious to unify creative style will formalise works,” he said.
“I try not to think anything about styles. I think styles are something that will be conveyed naturally. They reflect one’s personality, morality, value and also aesthetics. Works with intentional styles will have no depth,” he added. Rex is planning to publish his own comic book in two to three years - his dream project.
Getting our feet back on the ground, Rex has some realisation from younger fellow creators who are trying to be a full-time creator: “I found out that quite a lot of fellows or design students aren’t really in love with design. They mostly think about how to make money, while falling in love with design is the most basic thing.” And he knows exactly what he is in love with. He knows it so well that he
I have no ultimate goal as a creator. I love surprises. isn’t even goal-oriented. “
The details of life Ting Ting Cheng
Quitting her full-time job and dedicated to being a creator, Ting Ting Cheng, the locally born and raised girl pursues her artistic career in such a hasty city where no one has time to pay attention to the details in life. The one-year graduate shares a studio with a few other artists to achieve her creative dream. “It has just been a few months since I quit my full-time job as a graphic designer. I might have dedicated my time fully as an artist, but 70% to 80% of my time is not on art-making but art administration and all trivial tasks.” Ting Ting has foreseen the difficulties of being a full-time artist as it is never easy. “I think the utmost obstacle is to sustain art-making and living at the same time. Freelance plus part-time jobs still occupy most of my time while research and development of my works are insufficient.”
Although she has to spend most of her time on making a living, she has trained her observation in daily life and put it into her creativity. The 23-year-old creator loves to pay attention to unnoticed details that everyone misses out. To Ting Ting, each individual owns a distinct way of behaviour and habit therefore life experience gives her inspiration. Technology nowadays has flooded everyone with text and images while delicate facets are overlooked. However, she found the details boring.
“Indeed I think most of the
Ting Ting Cheng - Receptionist
unnoticed details are not really interesting. They are sometimes neutral but quite often empty.” “For instance, I once captured a receptionist in the lobby of a commercial building. She looked merely empty. I mean what else could she express besides hospitality in her position? She is not supposed to express her inner feelings when she is on duty. So, I usually find these characters poetic and even cinematic in their own settings.” In Ting Ting’s works, human beings are the most frequently appeared theme. Apart from her observation, the instincts within humans fascinate her the most. “Humans are diverse in terms of gestures, facial expressions and interactions with others.” Interestingly enough, when one sees Ting Ting, one can feel the brightness and light-heartedness expressed from her personality. She would also describe herself “fascinated by unmarked life details with a sense of humour.” Yet, looking at her work, it doesn’t really give a feeling that she is “fascinated” neither “with a sense of humour” since the colours and expressions she has given are dark and heavy.
Ting Ting Cheng - Simulator Cinema
“I think it is dark humour… sceneries I have depicted are absurd sometimes, so it could not be clearly and concretely expressed. I will also transfer a particular image to something abstract in order to strengthen the darkness and absurdity.” Ting Ting explained her work Forever Promoters as an example – people who gave out leaflets on the streets have no individual and independent identities. What defined them are the promotional materials they are carrying with. “I would say tones and feelings are sometimes heavy in my works as to express the pointless phenomena I have observed in life,” said Ting Ting. She also described her works as “subtly expressive” because she has a lot of feelings to express but she has chosen not to show them in an exaggerated way. For her future project, Ting Ting is going to create a new set of paintings and also her zine – Month is Stone Day is Long which is a quarterly publication which mostly involves drawings. Garde Magazine loves to ask creators two questions: what do you want to create the most? And what is your ultimate goal as a creator? Ting Ting’s
answers are very direct:
“Nice paintings! I want to create artworks that show the greatest depth of abstractions, like emotions and ambience. We are unable to name or describe them while they are actually very intimate between individuals and deserve more care.”
“I think good paintings / drawings will speak to each of the viewers and recall their souls. That’s roughly what I would like to achieve.”
The dreamer, the whip hand and the director Lyfeik Records Uriel Calderon, Felipe Cea, Rebekah Kim
Lyfeik is an independent and very special record label. It is formed by three unique people with an interesting principle that does not follow typical music industry conventions: they refuse to play in venues that serve alcohol and strive to do the world good through their music.
G: How did you all come together? F: I was making music with a few artists first then I met Uriel and asked if he wanted to join us. After that, we did pretty well with various projects. Rebekah is the one who moulded everything together. R: I am the newbie in the group. They were in the group way back. U: She is the one who got our asses in gear.
Garde Magazine invited the creators from issue 1 and 2, Uriel Calderon and Felipe Cea, who are members of Duofox to tell us about their progress in the music world. We Later on, Garde Magazine finds out Rebekah is have also got Rebekah Kim with us, the one actually Felipe’s girlfriend. who “moulded everything together.” G: How would you define the music G: Garde Magazine / F: Felipe Cea / U: style of Lyfeik? Uriel Calderon / R: Rebekah Kim R: We have actually come up with a genre called Melange Bounce since we could not G: What does “Lyfeik” mean? categorise Lyfeik accurately… R: It means life + music, right? F: I would say we are much more rooted F: A fusion of both. Uriel actually came up in hip hop and electronica but I tend to with the name. be very diverse and also scientific in terms U: There was one night Felipe and I were of sounds, which means we are very exthinking about how to call a blog where we perimental. Our sounds tend to post things about fashion, music and art. Then I said let’s combine life and music. be happy, mysterious and R: People have trouble pronouncing it nostalgic…but also futuristic though… U: It does sound a bit like German. with old sounds of yester-
year. Uriel knows better.
U: I grew up in a very open-minded house with Caribbean and traditional Latino background roots, so my love for music was like an inclusive buffet that contains a bit of this and that. G: What is everyone’s role in the group? F: I would say I write all the music, mix it and master it. I also refine the product for all the artists at the moment. U: Well I am the publicist, networker brushing shoulders with people who can help us be exposed further. R: I just do everything else that’s not music basically – spill over here and there. G: So Rebekah doesn’t know anything about music? R: Not really. F: She’s being humble. R: Okay maybe a little… our dynamics is pretty chilled and easy going. Everyone just does what’s the best for the label without being told what to do. G: What’s the biggest difficulty for the label so far? F: Time, without a doubt. Also funding, since we are independent. It’s a tough business. R: I agree. U: Time and money, most of the time. F: But we love what we do and we take it seriously. R: Making pretty things does cost money. It would be great if we could get support for the things we love. The word “HATS” popped up from Felipe all of
a sudden, which led to the most interesting question Garde Magazine has prepared to ask. G: Who is the most difficult person to work with? U: I can say it would be Felipe and I. R: Felipe wants to get his artistic hands on everything. He is planning to have hats produced for the label. It is a logistical nightmare for me. But hey, it’s cool. F: We all have our downfalls here and there… Uriel and I are from the ghetto-like part in Sydney so we tend to be broke as a joke. U: Rather than “person,” it’s actually “timing” that is the most difficult thing since we all have different schedules of life and inspiration. For example, when Felipe has some cool thoughts, I might not have the right lyrical narrative for the emotion of the beat. R: I was going to say these boys are troublemakers. I like structure and order, while these two like going into their own creative spaces, VERY OFTEN. It is pretty funny seeing us at a meeting. G: What is the most interesting experience Lyfeik has had so far? R: Finding random people to know more about our music. F: Establishing our mark on digital distribution and also getting live performance ready for events. U: Meeting more interesting people who love music, art and creativity. Finding out how to manifest ideas of our label. Hmm… pretty much the same answer. G: What has been your biggest argument so
far? R: At the moment we are disagreeing about hats. U: I need no hat I have an Afro. F: It isn’t. Seriously? F: Here is one: I refuse to play in venues that provide alcohol. I am against drugs and alcohol and I also refuse to promote it. R: I agreed that to do good (moral good) is definitely the philosophy of Lyfeik. But at the same time, from a business perspective, such a limit could be somewhat damaging during the establishing phases of the label. U: It is a challenge that makes us able to set us apart from other labels for sure. F: I think most of the music over the last century has promoted those… R: It’s also beneficial to keep an open mind to some things. I think nothing is black and white. U: Meanwhile I am an anarchist and I believe people have rights to make choices. There will be merits and also clashes but I have been hinting for ways to come up with solutions. G: What is your upcoming project? F: More content and different approaches. R: Mainly new sound, also new outlets.
Duofox is going on live soon. U: Establishing a creative space that sell organic fresh beverages, live art being painted while music is being performed. R: We have a few music videos coming soon. Also some collaborative projects with other Sydney musicians. G: What is the ultimate goal of Lyfeik? R: World peace. JOKING. F: To get the perfect morning coffee that
For real I would say to innovate sound and the industry towards something better and discover new approaches to do it ethically. Music has the power to make culture pay attention. doesn’t destroys bowels…
U: WORLD DONIMATION HAHAHAHA.
What is it...
Comics 101 You probably have read a lot of comics in your life, but do you know how they are made? Comics writer, Evangelos Androutsopoulos, who has his works regularly published on VICE magazine is going to give us a 101 class on comics...through a comic strip! Evangelos intentionally left all the pencil lines on raw scan with no edits, so experience the real deal and enjoy the most natural state of comics!
Background by Evangelos Androutsopoulos
up and coming Peter bellamy from nice gallery
Nice Gallery, is currently hosting the works of Peter Çan Bellamy. Rosa Nussbaum’s brainchild came to life in an effort to re-think the art scene in Tooting, London. It’s become a temporary home to a variety of up-and-coming artists, where they are invited to work for about a month-long period and afterwards expose their creations. In order to get to know its resident artists better, Rosa recently sat down with Peter for an informative and playful back and forth. Rosa Nussbaum: What is your starting point when creating? What are you interested in? Peter Bellamy: I don’t know where the work comes from and I don’t know why I even want to make art and I don’t know why the work I make is the work I make. Each thing is different. Each thing has a different reason, a different source. I only start to know after I’ve made it. After I’ve made it I can go OK, that was because I needed to learn that or I needed to do that or I needed to get into this position. Everything interests me. R: Take the sculptures you showed recently at the exhibition Demimonde at Amberwood House. Do you now feel like you are at a point where you now know why you made those and what they did for you? P: I was worried that I couldn’t do absolutely anything that was in my mind. And I always thought that you could. That if you think it, there is some way of making it a reality. I was worried that I couldn’t do that. I was worried that I had these ideas, which I didn’t necessarily know where they came from to make these figurative sculptures and doing it showed that I could. R: You talked to me before about that original sense of amazement or wonder you get
looking at something beautiful, wondrous or magical. P: Yeah, but I think anything can be like that. I think you can look at anything and feel a sense of awe about it. And I think it is up to the person looking at a piece. It really has nothing to do with the artist. Not even art. It’s a decision you make; you can decide to think about what you’re looking at and then find what’s beautiful and striking about that thing. Or you can choose not to. R: So where does the artist come in? P: Well with art I suppose it’s the same.
Artists, we’re quite quick to judge we’re quicker to judge artwork than anyone else. That’s probably a bad thing because it’s easier to say you don’t like something than to take the time to figure out why you might like it. You’re not thinking - the whole point is to think. R: If it is the responsibility of the viewers to find the wonder in the tree or the road sign, what role do you play as an artist in that relationship? It sounds like you’re not there. P: I’m not there. That [pointing at his painting] is not me. That is just something I have made. R: Can you think of a piece of art that did something for you?
Nice Gallery - Nancy Allen and Peter Bellamyâ€™s Private View of Exhibition
P: I’ll talk about Sean Mullan’s work, because I think about that piece a lot. R: The waterfall piece [Wateryeeonabout (2014)]?
where other artists sit. It’s about the work not the bits of writing and paper. Brilliantly w ell done for saying that, when we are literally talking about a bit of writing that we have to do. I want out. I’m not even an artist I’m a plumber. R: Thinking of you as Super Mario now.
P: The waterfall piece. I missed it when I first went through the space. I didn’t even know it was there and I completely overlooked it. And then I revisited the space and I noticed it just standing quietly in the corner. And there was something...that piece itself was very simple. It was probably the simplest piece I’ve ever seen, both conceptually and in its delivery. And it made me think about Sean first making that connection between the sound and the image he wasn’t thinking about art, he was thinking about the world. He noticed something. I keep thinking about the process behind it but really I don’t care about that. I just feel good that someone noticed that; that someone made that and that I got to see it.
P: Rosa focus. We’re doing an interview. R: OK. How long have you been in residence here at Nice Gallery? P: This is the beginning of my third week. It’s been good. I have the space for a month and when I came I wanted to work my arse off just to demonstrate my appreciation because it’s a rare opportunity to be afforded such space to work in. R: You’ve really made use of it. You really have worked hard. P: Yeah?
R: What have you been looking at? R: Yeah. P: I was looking at Draper’s Lament for Icarus. I mean formally it’s very sort of Matisse. I think about maybe two or three big works. I think about Picasso’s dancers a lot. You know the three very tall abstract colourful dancers. I think about them a lot. But maybe that’s not the point. I mean couldn’t you say that the egg I had for breakfast informs my practice? Where does it stop? It’s not for me to say where my practice sits. I never listen to other people when they say
P: So I can stop now? R: No.
Alright...Well I’m really enjoying it and I think that it’s a great opportuniP:
ty. I get to share this with some other great artists. I’m really happy to be on the bill. R: Tell me more about what you’re making at the moment. P: Paintings. I’m making paintings. Oil paintings. At the moment there are two large two-by-two metre oil paintings. They are figurative. They are quite...I’m trying not to sound like a dick here they are definitely some of the most exciting things I have worked on. R: How has your practice changed since you graduated in July? P: I was making a lot of film work and I was making figurative sculpture sort of faux Giacometties and that was fun. For the whole three years I stopped I didn’t paint. R: Those being your three years at university? P: No, those were my three years on the international space station! R: Zero g painting! P: I only painted before I went to university. That was basically all I did. I did a bit of sculpture as well. I just painted and drew. I completely pushed it aside for university because I decided instead of choosing the painting course I chose the film and print course as a way of pushing myself, trying something different. I applied with a portfolio full of paintings classical stuff. I really wanted to get away from that and work with film and digital media, which is what I did for three years. I was always making
sculpture but I just completely stopped painting other than a few family gifts fruit bowls, flowers. Since graduating I didn’t have anywhere to live. When you don’t have a space to work in, you can really only make small work. I couldn’t make massive figurative sculptures like I used to. I couldn’t always film and show with projectors but I could draw. And so I drew. And I made watercolours and I got back into using my wrist for painting. I took my thumb out of my arse and started painting. And this [points at his work] is just a continuation of that. I’m coming back to painting. It’s a fucking nightmare. R: Painting? P: Yeah. It’s like fighting someone every day. Because at first it was very unfamiliar and I had to get used to how paint acts. And you do y ou fight with it it’s fucking irritating. It’s actually quite annoying. People have this idea and maybe some artists are like that they go into the studio and it’s really fun and they’re making beautiful work and it’s wonderful. They have queries “oh, I don’t know about that” but that’s the extent of their troubles. But I feel like every single mark I make is...yeah, is just agony. R: Where are you going from here after you’ve had your show on the 19th of January, which everyone should come to! P: I’m trying to build a studio with my bare hands, on the land [referring to a plot of land that he owns], along with a few friends. So I’m literally building a studio, so that I can make big works again. I’m going to carry on painting. R: And in the long run? Do you want to do an MA? P: I’d love to go to the RA. That’s the dream.
under the skin By David Madsen
Under The Skin (2013), Film 4 and BFI. Directed by Jonathan Glazer. Imgur.com
There are a lot of apt comparisons to make to the 2014 experimental movie Under the Skin, directed by Jonathan Glazer and starring Scarlett Johansson. The plot involves an alien taking the form of a beautiful woman, seducing and killing single men in the urban areas of Scotland while slowly trying to figure out both her identity and sexuality. This plot description makes it sound almost identical to the 1995 sci-fi thriller Species. However, whereas Species was a brass, dumb, somewhat misogynistic (though that may be reading too much into things) vehicle for getting the positively stunning Natasha Henstringe to get her tits out, Under the Skin is a slow paced, methodical look into such themes as loneliness, human compassion (or lack thereof), identity and attraction. And while Species was a glossy mess lacking any style or substance, Under the Skin’s fantastic cinematography, chilling
soundtrack and disturbing imagery makes it kin to David Lynch’s eerie masterpiece Eraserhead more than the sleazy soft-core thrillers of the late 80’s to mid 90’s, such as Basic Instinct, Fatal Attraction or the aforementioned Species which all followed a ‘dangerous’ woman, seducing and killing off bachelors.
tentious’ scenes have to do with the aliens and the environment they inhabit - something that we as humans obviously aren’t able to comprehend. Even so, if you’re watching this film because you heard that Scarlett Johansson is nude in it, one; she is and she is gorgeous and two; boy are you in over your head.
The film never gets quite as unexplainably weird as Eraserhead, and the comparison is more superficial than anything else. This is a good thing as many art house films in the past have tried and failed to recapture David Lynch’s particular flavour for the weird and otherworldly.
See you have to keep one thing in mind: This review is meant mostly as a recommendation for one of the most unique, idiosyncratic movies I’ve seen since, well, since Eraserhead.
While the film goes without dialogue for long stretches at a time, even the most inexplicable scenes in the film never seem to come without context or purpose to the general plot or the arch of Scarlet Johansson’s character. Rather a lot of the weird and what some misguided folks would no doubt call ‘pre-
It is also however, a warning: Under the Skin is not for everyone - most certainly not for people who just want to stare at Johansson’s exposed lady parts. And I don’t mean that as some goofy trailer to a bad horror film warning the audience
“THIS MOVIE IS NOT FOR THE SOFT OF HEART that,
OR FAINT OF STOMACH.” No, I
mean this film left me disturbed, at times during the film in utter shock and I truly believe that the film will offend some people deeply. This shock value doesn’t come in the form of superficial body horror or jump scares, but instead in psychological terror and horrifying imagery. That’s mostly due to the first half of the film, which has Scarlet Johansson drive around in a van, seducing single men, leading them into a pitch black room with the promise of sex and then, as they get undressed, slowly watches them descend into a black emptiness. This process is, as I stated before, almost identical to Species, but what makes it disturbing is that the aforementioned bachelors aren’t ‘in on it,’ at least not while they are being seduced. See these aren’t scripted
scenarios; Johansson improvises them and the men whom she picks up weren’t actually informed they were in a film before they were seduced. Of course the part where they get killed off and some of the more gruesome, exploitative scenes in the film are staged, but because the lead up to these scenes are actually occurring as they would in real
the film takes on a horrifying dimension of believability, that makes the exploitative scenes… well to be frank… fucking horrifying and in some ways incredibly offensive. life,
One of these scenes gets particularly nasty when Johansson coldly gazes out at sea, while a diver unsuccessfully tries to
save a couple from drowning. As the diver comes to shore, ready to pass out from exhaustion, she breaks his skull with a rock, pulls him into her van and leaves the couples’ infant child on the beach, crying, unable to escape the coming tidal waves. Another scene, and the one that will probably make or break this movie for you depending on your reaction to it, has one of Johansson’s male victims literally pop like a balloon. That may sound silly and to some it will probably come off as such. However, the setup for the scene in question, the execution and suddenness of it and the leering shots of the deflated human body, is so believable and so out of left field. I’ve not had a particular scene affect me so deeply since the end scene to Peter Greenaways The Cook, the Thief, his Wife & her Lover, which features a man forced to eat his enemies’ cooked corpse.
There are even more of
the above mentioned scenes ilk in the film and if that turns you off, I completely respect that. The films use of horrific imagery – such as a drowning baby – to get a response from the audience, isn’t necessarily justified by the overall narrative and so these scenes can come off as needlessly shocking. In other words, the primary goal of these scenes is to offend you through emotions of shock and horror, not to progress the narrative and so they can be said to be exploitative and unnecessary. This would be true if it wasn’t because the scenes in question are juxtaposed to events of the second half of the movie, where Scarlet Johansson slowly tries to conform to human norms and join our society. In
other words, her character tries to transform from something inhuman,
to something closer to human. Because of the
first half we know this is not possible, we as an audience know how futile this sudden desire of hers is, because of the abject inhumanity and emotionless state that is a core part of her being and on full display in the first half of the film. This makes her attempts and failings to do rudimentary things such as eating chocolate cake or elicit basic human emotion all the more tragic. It also gives an incredible outside perspective into both the very best but especially the very worst of male behaviour towards women in her progressing interaction with human society.
And that’s the thing
about Under the Skin. The
inhumanity shown in the first half of the film, the literal destruction of a male
body which is shown in explicit detail, the infant who drowns off-screen and Johansson seducing real life, actual dudes only to have them drown in darkness is all fucking abhorrent. But it makes her character’s attempts at understanding and gaining (so to speak) humanity in the latter half of the film all the more sweet and her ultimate failing to do so all the more tragic. Scarlett Johansson’s mesmerising performance, the eerie soundtrack and stunning work with contrasts and lighting only helps to emphasise this point.
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