Friday, 26 February 2010

Walls are talking: Wallpaper, art & culture, Whitworth Art Gallery

On Monday I visited the Whitworth Gallery in Manchester. I went to have a gander at the wallpaper exhibition: Walls Are Talking: Wallpaper, Art and Culture

It was just wonderful, Iv always admired wallpaper design and think this exhibition really shows the talent and expertise that it takes to design these gorgeous pieces. Some I could take or leave like the section on human anatomy of the nether-regions, but others like the comedic David Shrigley and his warehouse designs made me giggle with pleasure. Others dates back to the 1800’s, this amazed me and stunned me at how intricate the designs are for that period in time.

The one I thought was just oddly fascinating were designs from a new upcoming company called De Angelis & Garner, one which was a digitally printed design of Leigh Bowery ( a punk performance artist). This design amplified his features and make-up to make this vibrantly shocking design repeated over and over. It overshadowed other wallpapers in proximity and glared into your eyes.


You can find more information at:

The first major UK exhibition of artists' wallpapers with work by over 30 artists including Andy Warhol, Sarah Lucas and Damien Hirst.  Kitsch ideas of home decoration are turned upside down as artists subvert the stereotypes of wallpaper to hit home messages about warfare, racism, cultural conflicts and gender.

The exhibition is grouped around themes: subversion, commodification, imprisonment and sexuality. In Sonia Boyce's work Clapping, a feeling of claustrophobia and menace is strengthened by the repeated design of the black and white hand print. Zineb Sedira uses wallpaper patterns to illustrate social inequalities and gender difference from her French-Algerian Islamic perspective.  
Thomas Demand, one of the foremost conceptual artists working today, covers the entire South Gallery in his Ivy wallpaper - intricate pieces of paper cut out and photographed make up a lifelike work of imprisoning beauty. In stark contrast to this are popular commercial papers that reinforce cultural and gender stereotypes; from Barbie or the Spice Girls to the use of male symbols such as beer cans, football teams or idealised female bodies.

Whether amusing, like David Shrigley's Industrial Estate, or startling, like Bashir Makhoul's Points of View, the rolls of paper in this exhibition provide an unprecedented insight into a bold and progressive contemporary art form. Wallpaper has long been thought of as a backdrop to the main event. With so many prominent designers and artists using the medium as their primary method of expression, this exhibition provides a timely exploration of the possibilities and

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