I have a confession to make.
The world of arts and culture is something that I can appreciate and most certainly have reverence for, but I have always struggled to fully immerse myself within because I do not necessarily feel qualified. Yet, Saziso Phiri, Olwen Davies and Sophie Mak-Schram’s takeover is something I thoroughly enjoyed. The familiarity of the city’s landmarks, which I grew up around, was juxtaposed with carefully curated exhibitions, shows and talks, perhaps it was this familiarity and accessibility that contributed to why I thoroughly enjoyed UKNA’s Leicester Takeover.
Without further ado, read on to discover what my personal favourite installations of the weekend were. Please note that these are in no particular order.
Malgorzata Lisiecka - ‘Crowd’
Malgorzata Lisiecka uses mediums of sculpture, costumes and performance as vectors of expression, operating in a ‘grey area’ by manipulating articles of clothing and the human body to do two main things. The first is to subjugate expectations that the audience may have of what they see in front of their eyes, while the second is to facilitate a discourse on various social, political and psychological parts of society.
Lisiecka has done this with great success, and she was nominated for UK Young Artist Of The Year in 2019.
‘Crowd’ was perhaps the most interesting exhibition that I was able to see as part of the event. The exhibition channelled the phenomenon of the ‘uncanny valley’ by toying with audience expectations. On first impression, one sees the lower body of men and women dressed in smart-casual clothing: shoes, trousers and shirts. As one’s eyes venture up, however, we are presented with a shocking sight – upper bodies melted away and covered in fabric.
This represents the illusion of ‘free choice’ whereby one is thought to have free choice but does not. Granted, one may be free to choose but these choices are all made within pre-determined parameters. My personal interpretation of the exhibition is that the clothing represents the ‘rat race’ we are trapped in, but that we ‘choose’ to participate in under the guise that it will help us achieve our goals and fulfilment. The fabric represents the blanket of subjugation that beguiles us into genuinely believing this is the case.
Find out more here: https://www.malgorzatalisiecka.com
Jarvis Brookfield - ‘Harbouring Delights’
Jarvis Brookfield explores human consciousness through work that is both realist and yet expressive. Remember at the start of the article when I admitted that I am not qualified to comment on artwork? Well, you will have to excuse me when I say the best way I can describe ‘Harborouring Delights’ is… trippy.
Brookfield won Robert Walters’ UK New Artist Of The Year (2021) and has had his work featured in Creativeboom and Juxtapoz.
‘Harborouring Delights’ uses both mysticism and colour to create a genuinely fascinating piece of work. Brookfield’s piece is one that caught my eye as soon as I walked into the room. On closer inspection I found myself being drawn in and appreciating the subtle nuances of the work. All I can say is, photos do not do this piece justice.
The piece is difficult to describe but combines the familiarity of the human body with mystical elements. Through this plays off of familiar elements and the juxtaposition of purples, pinks, greens and browns, Brookfield creates a piece that both the critic and the casual audience such as myself can appreciate.
Find out more here: https://www.jarvisbrookfield.com
Piotr Krzymowski - ‘a touch too much’
Piotr Kryzmowski uses an eclectic mix of artistic mediums: painting, photography and moving images. Whilst artists use people, nature or buildings as their muse, he opts for something right under our noses - mobile phones.
A graduate from the incredibly prestigious and renowned art school at Central Saint Martins, London, Kryzmowski is inspired by the role technology plays in our day-to-day lives and uses this particular work to reflect upon this.
In ‘a touch too much,’ he covered his phone with aluminium powder to trace his fingers as he used it. Kryzmowski also uses thermo-chromic ink which is another material that is seldom used within artwork. The end result is an interesting map of his fingerprints, which look more akin to the strokes of a brush, but what I found particularly interesting about the piece is that it is tactile and can be interacted with. While most other artworks are guarded and the thought of touching it would not dare cross our mind, Kryzmowski actively encourages this, and one can walk up to and press their hands against his work. The ink consequently reacts to the heat of our bodies and it temporarily disappears from the canvas. The exhibit is not so much meant to be admired from a distance as it is to be experienced.
Find out more here: https://www.piotrkrzymowski.pl
Phiri, Davies, Mak-Schram and the team did what can only be described as an excellent job with the UKNA Leicester Takeover.
There was an eclectic mix of paintings, sculptures and performances on full display in Leicester. The city served as the perfect venue for the show because it too is eclectic, Leicester is a vibrant, developing and multicultural city as diverse as all of the artwork was.
There was truly something for everybody from the casual passer-by to the art connoisseur. All I can say is to keep an eye out for future events near you and to lend your support to UKNA.