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Scottish artist Jane Frere currently showing at Summerhall Edinburgh, in preparation in a ten metre lift shaft at the internationally acclaimed maverick architect Will Alsop's Testbed1 for her installation of hundreds of figures spiralling into a void.

"Who is a God like you" ? is the first of a series of "Shaft works" to be held at Testbed1 over the next year with lighting designer Mike Gunning. 
Opening 28th November 6 - 11pm, Testbed1, 33 Parkgate Road, London SW11 4NP
Alex Fowler: Hill Town Paintings: San Francisco, Jerusalem, Italy

5 images, courtesy the Alexander Fowler

1990s North Oxford: fatigued by private school, Vespers and Paxman walking his Labrador, intelligentsia brats vogued ‘ghetto’. Ever one to gain kudos and finding myself on a family holiday in San Francisco, I set my sights on Groove Merchant records Lower Haight: the target Cut Chemist’s Live at Future Primitive Sound Session. The meticulously planned route from Union Square Hotel came adrift. My sister and I found ourselves in the Hayes Valley projects. With street sensibilities founded upon listening to Task Force whilst punting in Mesopotamia. Aut viam inveniam aut faciam we hopscotched past burnt out cars, shorties and smashed bulbs[1].

‘Tech entrepreneurs are starting to peer out from their hoodies and explore the art world, and dealers and museum boards couldn't be more thrilled’                                                                                    Ellen Gamerman, Wall Street Journal[2]

Propensity of ‘Blodgety’ booms[3], pre-IPO loading[4] and swift tech obscelensence withstanding, proximity to Silicon Valley has served San Francisco well. Over the past decade troubled areas such as Hayes Valley and Mission have been revived. Hipsters, artists and boutiques now prevail. The ‘siliconaires’ collecting and providing patronage to the city’s aesthetic. Their pixilated preferences seduced by works with a digital twist[5].

The painter Alex Fowler (NEAC) first visited Mission in 2007 for a friend's wedding. Struck by the harmonic colours he vowed to return. The 2013 Christmas exhibition ‘Hill Town Paintings’ part dedicated to his subsequent 2010 exposure and 2011 re-framing in London. As a New English Art Club scholarship winner and elected member Alex’s work follows the dogma of slow and intricate pictorial statements. The legacy of Heatherley School of Fine Art (1845) resonating through proportion and colour combination. His delicate compositions a chivalric rebellion against the Royal Academy’s 21stC. ‘abandonment of figurative painting’[6].

The work ‘Mission Street’ (2011) based upon a furiously paced sketch in situ. Subsequently reworked and enlarged in London. The vantage so languid it would appear the artist fell into his beer glass and painted from there. Acutely aware of extreme contrasts in colour temperature, the endless blue sky tempered by piquants of neon graffiti and mathematical palms. Paintings such as ‘Church Street’ and ‘La Taqueria’ continued the hazy combination of street colours and blue ether. The artist held in captivity by the warm evening light and evolving shadow patterns on Mission and 24th.

‘If you saw these people, you'd never guess that they have money -it's all about just being cool’ San Francisco Art Dealer Chris Perez [1]

Denoted by the Farrow and Ball tones of Glebe Place, harmonized to the paintings and their frames, Alex Fowler is undeniably Establishment. The hoody wearing pixel patrons of Silicon Valley polar opposite. Yet despite this intangible/tangible divide both are resoundingly ‘anti-bling’. The ‘siliconaires’ low key acquisition strategies and reluctance to flaunt wealth of the Old School.

Fundamental changes have occurred in Hayes Valley and Mission since my 1990’s immersion. Gentrification propelling Lord Leighton’s alumnae to visit. Its deprivation relocated not resolved. However accretion within the silicon 1% has an egalitarian twist. Worldwide online ‘projects’ can link to the Khan Academy[2] and the stubborn matriculate Harvard Business School[3]. Social mobility might remain hazy for some time. But via carefully balanced colours of the Ivy League, self-development superior.


2 The New High-Tech Patrons, Wall Street Journal 28th Feb ’13 http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424127887323384604578328121811415726 
3 Twitters hot IPO leads the way for AirBnB, Spotify, Uber, Pinterest & Scribd etc but some argue dependence on venture capital and advertising revenue is 
unsustainable. Larry Chiagouris, Lubin School of Business, New York. 
5 For instance: Yahoo and Mark Pincus funded $8 million abstractable light project on Bay Bridge ( artist Leo Villareal ) http://thebaylights.org/ 
7 The New High-Tech Patrons, Wall Street Journal 28th Feb ’13 
8 Sponsored by e.g. Google & Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation http://www.khanacademy.org/about 

http://www.alexanderfowler.co.uk/christmas-exhibition.asp The Studio, 73 Glebe Place, Chelsea, London SW3 5JB 

Pavilion of Russia @ The 55th Venice Art Biennale (Giardini)

filmed by JEJ for FACADES

Quirky Art Installation at the Russian pavillion lashes out on the shallowness and material desires in today's society...


(17 images shot by Malcolm Crowthers)

A corridor in an arts venue might be off-putting for some artists, but Scottish artist Jane Frere relishes site-specific spaces. She is best known for her moving and critically acclaimed installation, Return of the Soul, displayed in four countries in 2008 to mark the 60th anniversary of the Nakbah, the ethnic cleansing which forced many Palestinians to flee from their homeland when Israel was formed. Her latest exhibition Into the Void at Edinburgh’s talk-of-the-town new cultural venue Summerhall reveals, through highlights of work over the past six years, how a life changing experience in a war zone has affected the artist through drawing, painting, photography and printmaking. A journey in three stages, it moves from images of more than 3,000 suspended wax figures symbolising refugees in flight, via a period where the artist was living literally in the shadow of the wall, to the present theme, The Void, with images referencing a work in progress for an ambitious installation in a 10 metre tall lift shaft at Testbed1 in London at the invitation of international architect and artist William Alsop for his next A Few Friends exhibition in November. Jane has drawn on her site-specific theatre experience to recreate the overpowering and oppressive effect of the apartheid wall. Her Summerhall exhibition invites the viewer to pass through a claustrophobic tunnel - a vast photo-montage highlighting the sprawling oppressive wall; embedded within the montage is a video piece created by the artist as she panned through a five minute walk with the camera lens scrutinising the wall's surface capturing brightly coloured, textured graffiti to a disconcerting, aggressively gritty sound track of rushing traffic and haunting Arabic music. “The Israeli apartheid wall is an obscenity,” according to the artist. “It incarcerates, it crushes morale, it extinguishes hope. But although ugly and oppressive, the wall’s surface is often intriguing. It is full of words, peeling paper, colours and texture, and this finds its way into my drawing and painting. Conceptually, the layering of marks reminds me of a palimpsest, where text is worn away but can never be completely erased. Actually the map of Israel reminds me of a palimpsest, the imposition of a new map over an existing one, but history cannot be entirely eradicated. Compared to those who live there, my experience was brief. Every time I went in I had a ticket to get out, but you cannot be a witness, a tear collector and then leave, forget and move on. The emotional memory remains too strong. It’s not so much sadness or despair that I feel, it’s rage. Rage at the unfairness of it all. The Holocaust was a European atrocity and yet it is the Palestinians who are being punished. That’s where my despair lingers and that is imbued in the essence of everything that I do.”

Into The Void can be seen at Summerhall, Edinburgh, until the end of the Autumn. www.summerhall.co.uk The Void installation is at Will Alsop  "Yet more friends,"  at Testbed1, Battersea, London on 28 November.www.testbed1.com 

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