REPORTING ON ART AND FOOD from Troubled Places

Warning : This is a modern-primitive writing website, of impressionist rather than informative character.

Oleg Sentsov at the Frontline Club 

Oleg Sentsov at the Frontline Club, 15 November 2019 about 1730

Ukrainian director and writer Oleg Sentsov was arrested when Russia annexed Crimea. Sentenced to 20 years in a gulag-style prison in Siberia Sentsov was set free as part of a prisoner exchange on 7th September 2019. He can't return to Crimea.

These are my impressions of Oleg as I saw him yesterday, Friday, 15 November at Frontline Club.

Oleg Sentsov turned to be one of the most impressive human beings I've seen lately. It certainly has to do with his 'Bogatir' or 'Nefilim' physical appearance - tall by nature, after five years spent in Siberian prison, he is now also built up. Not what you would expect from somebody grown up as a gamer - what Sentsov actually was (his film Gamer/ Гамер 2011, written and directed by him wan him good critics and wide popularity). Hence, the gamer's agility and nervousness is still there, but buried under layers of mussel and self-control. Sunk deep in the sockets, his eyes give the impression of overseeing more than one multidimensional reality. Absolutely spectacular Sentsov's demeanor is somewhere between a Slavonic prophet and a common Moscow thug. A sort of Rasputin reversed.

Released of his Siberian confinement only two months ago Sentsov looks both as: a man who will always be free - no matter where you might find or confine him; and a man who will always cary his cell around no matter in what circumstances you might find or confine him. A dramatic figure of high intensity.

Unsurprisingly, Sentsov and I share an opinion on Putin's Russia - Mega dangerous. Omniinterfering in all other countries' lives on all level. HUNGRY FOR WAR. War Loving Russia. (Russia loves to be surrounded by a war circle an arm distance away. This is my observation)

"They don't simply want to control the way peoplr live. Now they want to control what people think too", said Oleg.

The most remarkable point of the talk was when Oleg  was asked whether really Putin is the trouble or is he a simple personification of the bigger evil of the Russian state. Here Mr Sentsov's insider's opinion was very curious. He said: "In Russia parliament doesn't function. Institutions don't function. Nothing functions. The only things that functions is Vladimir Pitin's system. If he is taken out the system will crumble. Nobody could inherit Vladimir Putin's system".

Which from one side sounds as a good news, but kind of in the best Stalinian traditions - No, man no problem. No Putin....

Other than that, Askold Kurov:'s documentary The Trialal: The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov, was a very strong material to watch. It is one thing to read the words "The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov" and it is a whole other thing to see the footage of the man locked in a cage to whom a judge says "This is The State of Russia vs Oleg Sentsov case". The man against Putin's State. It makes me wonder with which hero Oleg Sentsov is comparable ... Prometheus? Sisyphus? Or simply Malala Yousafzai?

For don't they look the same? - Two humans engaged in a mortal combat with a multyheaded monster, with all the odds against them but still go out triumphant at the other end: Oleg Sentsov, the man, against the monsterous state of Russia. Malala Yousafzay's head against the Taliban gun.

Which is, in a way, my response to Oleg: Remember Afghanistan? No, man. Eliminating Putin won't solve the problem, but might ease the symptomatics. It might bring a temporarily relive. And you are right Oleg, miracles can be done in the blink of the monsters eye.

But for now:


16 November 2019

Forget Politics. Go Christmas ArtsPresents Shopping

Dr Paul with his Peter Brookes at Cafe Boheme, 13 November about 1700

Usually before Christmas, LAAF gets clever and starts giving Christmas Shopping advices. This when, obviously, no cleverness is required, for it is clear - all you, as everybody else, need is A R T.

In this town ART - of all sort and kind - and its derivates - of all sort and kind - can be obtained painless, effortless and botherelss-ly everywhere. I mean, come on! One could even get Van Gough and Leonardo socks! If, like me, socks is all one wishes to get or give for Christmas!

And as it is all so simple, I would have waited until the end of the month before starting banging about the Christmas ArtsPresents Shopping (CHAPSH), if I haven't met Paul Goddard the other day. Paul has not merely started his CHAPSH alteady. But he had started it as a wiseman does - by CHAPSHing for himself.

#mefirst type of man Paul is.

(Here I would like to open a bracket and say #mefirst should become the opening line of the New Women's Bible - we women better, eventually, learn something of our illustrious patriarchs). So everybody, start practicing the #mefirst first thing right here right now by getting your own present/s first - while the Christmas Presents Budget is still wholesomely intact.

Anyhooo, Paul has got himself a Peter Brookes' original illustration representing British Labour Party politburo lined for parade reception at what looks like the Kremlin mausoleum.

"Everybody will vote Boris Johnson, because Boris is so funny" said Paul cheerfully, further opening my eyes of the importance to be funny in this country. I mean, I knew the principle "forget unrest be funny" in regards to writing but Dr Paul's insight about Boris' electability on the grounds of him being funny brings the concept of English Funnyness on a whole new level. (I also wonder how much the General World would appreciate British PM electability criteria should they knew about it. I mean that's one of the General World's seven most important leaders that is. And then the whole General World will be influenced by his funny little hands... in combination with a pair of orange little hands and Siberian-Snowhite-pale little hands...)

Opppss, sorry. I said FORGET POLITICS. Think ART PRESENTS.

I liked Paul Goddard not merely because he's got himself what I would call "A very LAAF type of present", but also because Paul is "A very LAAF type of person":

In the 80s, radiologist Dr Paul toured the country with his band Dr Jazz fundraising and accumulating the necessary over 4 million ponds for the first MRI scanner in Bristol.

In addition to an art collector, radiologist, painter and musician, Dr Paul is also a prolific writer. Which brings us back to our subject - the pressies - Dr Paul has written about 30 books on various subjects. There should be there a book suitable for every taste and mood, shouldn't it?

As Dr Paul sells his books on Amazon, I won't be advertising the link here - more humane and community orientated book trading moduses are available and even more might be invented - but I will advice the curious to search his books under Paul R Goddard in any search engine.

More about Dr Paul R Goddard's music here

Get yourself a nice Peter Brookes original illustration - très en vogue in these pre General Election times - by visiting Chris Beetles Gallery (which for some reason Dr Paul kept calling Chrisp Eagles or was the music too loud?) or their website here

14 November

Hacienda crowd at Toby Latham's exhibition 'Journeys in Myanmar', Old Brompton Gallery, SW5 0DE

Forget politics. What is the Hacienda crowd doing?

Art. Obviously. And a good one in addition.

To be seen at Old Brompton Gallery. No, not through out all your remaining general election reflection time but until this Sunday, 17 November only. Alas.

Overcoming my favourite haiku-telegraphic style I will force myself to add: for those who have ever been into music, the two must see exhibitions in town at the moment are Toby Latham at the Old Brompton Gallery and Trevor Paglen at Barbican's Curve. Both not dealing with music directly but expressing it on another level.

12 November





I am not sure whether the Labour party may be called back to life; but I spotted a resplendent Emily Thornberry at Angel tube station. It was funny - I was just reading some insignificant account about her tv-appearances in the Evening Standard while on the tube. Then I emerged overground and et la voilà.

It turned out Emily is not only efficient but also beautiful. And cordial. I talked to her to tell her thank you for her help unveiling the mystery about my passport application.

Now I am thinking: it's a good job that the Home Office didn't give me a British passport this year, thus sparing me the obligation to vote on 12 December elections. (No, you can't vote on UK General Election when on the Settlement-scheme. Not even with the permanent status). For what would I have voted? My heart would have shouted 'Emily', my brain would have shouted 'Labour No'. Trouble trouble.

Maybe I would only get a British passport when I know what to vote in this country?

Oh, and keep watching for Tutankhamun.

11 November 2019

Emily SuchAHeart Thornberry with her gang at Angel Tube Station, Monday 11 November about 1850

All things Bridget Riley - dansing waves, bent seas, pulsating stripes, runny dots

After Bridget Riley's exhibitions I see her paterns everywhere. Here is a la Bridget Riely fence at Bowers Park, North London.

In the bleak, rainy autumn when all galleries compete to allure with sublime shows, Hayward Gallery shines with a mighty and vibrant exhibition of Bridget Riley.

Bridget Riley, well known to you, brand new to me - the curves of reality having thrown me, a pebble, on the sands of this perfect beach - the major retrospective exhibition of a celebrated British artist. And what a full on pleasure it is to discover an artist when all rounded and accomplished!

“200 works tracing her creativity from the 60s onwards, including 50 key paintings and the iconic black-and-white works of the 1960s” says the gallery’s press release. To me they all the paintings look iconic with ingenious simplicity, boldness and verve.

Unsurprisingly Bridget Riley is also a mighty thinker, as I had the privilege to realise at her question time. The reflections on her works are pieces of art in their own merit. I would love to have recordings of her voice talking about the process of creation:  thinking, perception and work. Hearing her voice and her thoughts amidst the exhibition this morning added … well, at least as many dimensions as those unfolding from the works on the walls. 

At first I thought that her narrative has a strong impact because it comes from another time. I thought that Bridget Riley is from “the old times” much closer to the times of coloses like the wise Pissaro and the generous Renoir. Until I realise that it is not a different time that she is talking to us from, but a different space - the special, untouchable space of the masters. 

From another perspective, purely visually Hayward Gallery suits  Bridget Riley’s work perfectly. As if the gallery was made especially to host her works. Which I guess is the great contribution of the curators. Or is it that Riley bends not only seas but also concrete? 

Bridget Riley is at the Hayward Gallery for a third time (in a praiseworthy continuation from 1971 and 1992) until 26 January 2020. The program accompagnying the exhibition includes music, which I imagine will be awsome (in the original sense of the word and not as merely 'terrific'). Check events here : hayward-gallery

Bridget Riely at Hayward Gallery, 22 October about 1100

Extinction Rebelion visiting Antony Gormley

Fly now Pay Later - Extinction Rebellion at Antony Gormley

An endearing, lonely extinction rebellionist was a live female sculpture amidst Gormley's Iron Men.

Into the Night. Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art, Barbican Art Gallery. Photo @Caroline Fakhri

Into the Night. Cabarets and Clubs in Modern Art, Barbican Art Gallery by Caroline Fakhri

This review is slightly late coming off the press due to the birth of my first grandson on the same day as the media viewing 3rd Oct.

The inclusion of Tehran in this exhibition was of particular interest to me as I lived in Tehran for six years post Revolution and have known the city for the last forty years travelling back and fourth at intervals, the most recent visit being this September. Despite my knowledge of the City and the places which existed pre 1979 Revolution, I had never heard of Rasht 29 until I went to Into the Night Exhibition. I was pulled in immediately, excited to see what the nightlife of Tehran had once had to offer.

So not to only focus on Tehran but to use it as an introduction to the exhibition as a whole which explores the ‘social and artistic roles of cabarets, cafes and clubs around the world’ The exhibition is arranged by city making navigation very easy. I was of course tempted to skip straight to Tehran but was patient and gave each city a fair share of my attention.

The exhibition focuses on global locations from New York to London, Paris, Berlin, Vienna, Tehran, Mexico City and Ibadan, bringing together over 300 works, including paintings, drawings, prints,films and archival material. These places, which were somehow free from the social and political norms of the day, no longer connected to ordinary everyday life, gave artists and the audiences that frequented them an opportunity to escape from the mundane and explore ideas that might otherwise have been frowned upon.

Into the Night begins its journey in Paris, a fitting start, on the ‘eve of the 20th century, in the Chat Noir (ground floor) and Cabaret Fledermaus in Vienna, where experimental cabaret productions were staged. Upstairs meanwhile, I ventured into Berlin’s nightlife probably immortalised in most peoples minds of my generation by the film Cabaret starring Liza Minelli. Germany was left scarred by the horrors of WW1 and the Weimar Republic was marked by unemployment and disillusionment alongside rapid social change.’ Night clubs, cabarets and variety theatre took advantage of the relaxed censorship nurturing a thriving entertainment industry.’ Critiques of militarism and patriotism manifested in satirical cabaret songs and alternative identities thrived as depicted in female artists’ work such as Jeanne Mammen and Elfride Lohse-Wachtler who documented the flamboyance and diversity ‘with a focus on marginalised communities.’ It was a time of experiment and change.

The full scale recreation of some of the spaces such as Cabaret Fledermaus in Vienna 1907, give a real feel of what this venue was like. Cabaret Feldermaus is impressive with its multi coloured ceramic tiled bar. The colours and the business of the place made me dizzy, contrast this with the black and white chequered flooring guaranteed to induce a feeling of nausea for even the most seasoned of drinkers after a couple of alcoholic beverages.

Much later on in the century, 1966, the night club Rasht 29 emerged in Tehran as a creative space for painters poets musicians and film makers. The works of artists such as Parviz Tanavoli and Faramaz Pilaram hung in the lounge of Rasht 29. Amid rapid economic development and social change Iranian traditions as well as the aesthetics of modernism and pop art created new visual languages. Other venues such as ‘Mari Artists and Writers Club’ are also celebrated, founded in the early 1960s in Nigeria. ‘The exhibition looks at how these places were founded as laboratories for post colonial artistic practices providing a platform for a range of dance, operas and jazz as well as poetry and literature readings’.

Until 19th January 2020

Trevor Paglen: From “Apple” to “Anomaly”, opens TODAY in The Curve, Barbican, 26 September 2019

Not sure about sober in October, but this show is an absolute must!

Trevor Paglen: From “Apple” to “Anomaly”, The Curve, Barbican

تريفور باغلن -" من التفاح إلى الانحراف" في "ذي كرف"، باربيكان

يفتتح اليوم عرض عظيم للفنان تريفور باغلن تحت عنوان " من التفاح إلى الانحراف"  وقبل التطرق الى العرض اود ان اضعه في إطار مكان العرض.

وهو ممر "ذي كرف" في حي باربيكان السكني العجيب الغريب والذي لا مثيل له. فهو حي سكني وثقافي شبه مغلق - فيه مساحات عامة كممرات وساحات وحدائق ومساحات اخرى خاصة - مفتوحة للعين لكن ممنوعة للدخول. تم بناء باربيكان في هذه المنطقة التي تعرضت لقصف شديد من قبل القوات الجوية الألمانية خلال الحرب العالمية الثانية، مما سمح ببناء حي جديد بأكمله

الخاص بالباربيكان هو ان الحي كله مرفوع فوق مستوى الشوارع المحيطة به ومداخله مخفية من عين وبصفاته هذه يشبه قلعة عامرة - وهو كذلك مغلق للسيارات والأعلانات والنشاطات التجارية ولهذه "النظافة" آثر مريح على نفس الأنسان الخدمات المتوفرة فيه متعلقة بالضيافة كالمقاهي والمطاعم المرتبطة بمركز باربيكان الثقافي الواقع في قلب المجموعة السكنية وقدامه بحيرة اصطناعية مستطيلة طويلة يكثر فيها النيلوفر و تحيط بها النخيل وفي احد اطرافها شلالة وفي طرفها الثاني حديقة. والمجموعة كلها مصنوعة من أجود أنواع الأسمنت المشغول يدويا، أما إطارات النوافذ والشرفات فهي مصنوعة من خشب الأبنوس

هناك قاعتين عرض في قلب مركز باربيكان الثقافي، ونشاطهن المتزامن مكرس هذه السنة لإعادة النظرة إلى الحياة من وجهة نظر العلاقة بين الإنسان والذكاء الأصطناعي

سمي عرض "تريفور باغلن" "من التفاح إلى الانحراف " ويمثل عمل فني - قطعة عمل عملاقة مكونة من 30.000 صورة فوتوغرافية - فريد، من خلاله يأخذ الفنان الزائر، حسب رأي ، في رحلة إنسانية من الجنة إلى الجحيم . ينطلق الفنان في عمله من طريقة "تعليم" أو " تطعيم " الذكاء الاصطناعي بمعرفة ومعلومات عن طريق تمويله بأعداد لا تعاد من نماذج شيء معين - وها يفتتح المعرض بصورة تفاحة وثم تليها صورة تفاحة ثانية، وبعدها صور اشكال وانواع والوان من التفاحات ، وبعدها تفاحات في حالات لاتحصى وهكذا تتكون "غيمة التفاح" وتليها غيمة أشجار التفاح وبعدها غيمة النباتات بصورة عامة والتي تتصل من جانبها بغيمتي السماء من جهة والأرض من جهة ثانية وهي على دورها تتصل بغيوم أخرى مثل غيوم الإنسان بنشاطاته الغير معدودة من طرف والحيوانات والكواكب والأشياء المادية من طرف آخر

وهكذا الى ما نصل اصناف ك: متخلف، محرض، أيديولوجي ، عنصري ، شاذ الخ وهذا العمل الفني عريض كالحياة نفسها ومضحك ومرعب وساخر وغامض مثلها

وهو عرض يجب ان لا يفوتكم للباربيكان مطعمان ومقهى وتتمتع كلا القاعتان الفنية بمخزن فني

٢٦ ايلول

Sea of Tranquility Sea of Plastic by Polite Extinction, @politeextinction

Sea of Tranquility Sea of Plastic

Mare Tranquilitatis is a lunar mare that sits within the Tranquilitatis Basin on the Moon.

Polite Extinction, went to Goldsmiths BA, MA, Museology in Ed, PGCE university of Brighton and is currently in artistic residence at Budapest.

Here We Go Again or Screaming Brexit

Credit @art_decoded. Follow @art_decoded on Instagram

Screaming Johnson, an ahead of its time image of Boris as captured in September 2020 by Francis Bacon

"Oh, Theresa tried so hard but in the end you couldn't make Brexit happen. We just hope that you are not taking it as badly as this painting is making you out to be." @art_decoded

"If this seems familiar, it is because it is based on Francis Bacon's 'Study of Velasquez's Portrait of Pop Innocent X' or The Screaming Pope as it is otherwise known.", @art_decoded continues its strict analysis.

Yet, Laaf just discovered an apocryphal edition of Nostradamus' Chronicles in which it is revealed that Bacon's inspiration for The Screaming Pope wasn't his tumultuous relationship with Peter Lacy as largely thought, but a vision of Britain's Prime Minister in September 2020.

The apocryphal chronicles reveal that the vision came to Bacon at about 0710 at the junction of Greek Street and Old Compton Street, Soho on 25th of May 1967, after a drinking night with Lucien Freud, Frank Auerbach, Henrietta Moraes and Lady Caroline Blackwood.

"You will paint a Prime Minister caught in a scary stuff called Brexit, ne cherche pas a comprendre, and you will call it Screaming Pope" a mighty voice whispered in Bacon's ear the chronicles further unveil.

Inspiration courtesy @art_decoded.

Follow @art_decoded on Instagram

It's one of Laaf's favourites

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