Echo will focus on artworks throughout history that have taken significant inspiration either thematically or aesthetically from an artwork predating them. In this format ikono will explore how artworks resonate through time, and show how ideas are constantly being re-contextualised by new artists and artworks.

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ikono is proud to present the work of Joanna Hill, an artist who works with food, objects, acts and gesture, often taking still life painting as a starting point.

“I primarily work in moving image, but often, what I convey, the real experience, is the one of stillness,” says artist Joanna Hill about her video work made for Old Masters reinterpreted at Rollo Contemporary Art, London. “In my video works, it is my intention to slow down time or to even stop it, to remain immersed in each image in a kind of ‘intensive seeing’ and create a space for projection or memories”. The artist works with the exterior – food, objects, small gestures – to create a connection with the interior – feeling, emotion and our experience of the world.

Characterized by familiar recognizable objects, still life paintings subtly yet insistently turn upside down expected ways of looking at the world in which we inhabit. Shadows and reflections often have as much substance as objects themselves. Backgrounds can be as significant as nominal subjects. Items of little intrinsic value become objects of great poise. They make us question commonly held distinctions about distance and proximity, the trivial and the grand. Through working in the medium of moving image, she aims to make some transformation and create a contemporary reading of the issues at play.

More about Jan van Kessel the Elder and Joanna Hill on our blog.

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This July we are presenting a remarkable reworking of Hieronymus Bosch’s “The Garden of Earthly Delights” by the Spanish painter Lluis Barba. The original artwork was painted in 1504 and, composed of three panels showing the Creation, the Earth and a particularly macabre Hell, is one of the most surrealistic and disturbing paintings of the whole Dutch Renaissance. In 2007, Lluis Barba revealed his modern version of the painting at Art Basel Miami Beach, the world’s premiere international art show for Modern and contemporary works. What Barba did, is collocating new characters next to the original Bosch’s deformed ones. Artists, friends, colleagues and celebrities join the narration and are attentively placed either in the Paradise, Earth or Hell sections. For instance, Kate Moss, who, as the artist says: “is as important to Art History as Andy Warhol”, can be seen on the left side of the panel, enjoying the delights of Creation, while Brad Pitt, Madonna, Elton John and Pavarotti belongs to the central panel, representing the earthly sin. All of them have their place, but the artist left the worst position to some of those considered the key players in the art world, like Jay Joplin (the White Cube Gallery dealer who sold Damien Hirst’s skull). Despite the humming created around his version of Bosch’s painting, it is not the first time that Barba re-interpreted iconic artworks or portraits. His artistic language, which critiques the art world and, more in general, the modern society, is also visible in his series of self-portraits, picturing the most important artists in the development of art history.

Born in Spain, Lluis Barba currently lives and works in Barcelona. He has exhibited his work in the United States, Europe, Latin America and Canada. His work is hosted in major public collections, such as the Artothèque d’Art Anekdota in Paris, Museo International Cairo, Museo Marugame Hirai Japan and more.

A version of this article appeared on Times Online, December 12, 2007.

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The Raft of the Medusa

Adad Hannah was not convinced at first when his old friend Gus Horn from Canada asked him to stage his version of The Raft of the Medusa ( (Le Radeau de la Méduse) in 100 Mile House, a community of 2000 people in British Columbia. The painting by French Romantic painter Théodore Géricault (1791–1824) had already inspired numerous spoofs and variants by the likes of Martin Kippenberger, Asterix, Tintin, David LaChapelle or The Pogues with their album cover for “Run Sodomy and the Lash”, but: In the end Hannah signed up and the whole community of 100 Mile House came together to work on the project.

The crew of the raft was made up of twenty students and two tree planters who had to hold their poses for up to ten minutes for the final photos. The story behind the raft of 100 Mile House is less dramatic than the story of the original painting itself, but downturns in the local cattle and forestry industries have hit the community hard.

Adad Hannah worked after a painting which has become one of the most recognizable artworks in history and an icon of French Romanticism. The theme of human life abandoned by all hope is universal and the brutal story Géricault based his work on is still horrifying.

Géricault was 27 when he painted the survivors of a tragedy which had also become a political scandal hyped up by the French media. Like many other people who read newspapers, the artist was fascinated by the story of the 150 men who were left to their own devices in the ocean outside of Senegal with only a bag of biscuits consumed right away, two bottles of water which went overboard during fighting and a few casks of wine.

The men succumbed to cannibalism, dehydration, and insanity until only fifteen of them were left on the raft when they were discovered by accident two weeks later after the original sinking of the Méduse. The tragedy became an international scandal since the French captain of the ship was perceived to have acted under the command of the freshly restored French monarchy.

When the painting debuted at the Paris Salon of 1819 it became the talk of the town. “It strikes and attracts all eyes”, wrote Le Journal de Paris while other critics also called it a “pile of corpses.” Louis XVIII apparently said “Monsieur, vous venez de faire un naufrage qui n’en est pas un pour vous” (“Monsieur Géricault, your shipwreck is certainly no disaster”). Jules Michelet,  the first historian to use and definethe word Renaissance wrote that “our whole society is aboard the raft of the Medusa [...].”

For more information please step by our blog for reading more about The Raft of the Medusa – Sketches & Studies.

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When Freedom Graffiti (2013) popped up on Saatchi’s Facebook page, the image from the Syrian artist’s series The Syrian Museum was shared all over the Internet and made it into many international publications: Tammam Azzam has digitally projected Gustav Klimt’s Kiss from 1908 upon a wall full of bullet holes, reminders of the civil war in the artist’s home country.

Not long after the Syrian civil war started in 2011, the artist lost his studio in Damascus and his means of production. Under the impression of the violence the people in Syria have to face on a daily base, Azzam turned to digital art, looking at the desperation and the many victims in Syria from inside the safety of the computer screen. With his latest series The Syrian Museum Azzam worked iconic faces of western art into images of battlezones in Syria. Using paintings by Henri Matisse, Leonardo da Vinci, Pablo Picasso, Francisco de Goya or Andy Warhol, he wants “to demonstrate that Syria has no world-class museums and the regime is presently killing its own cultural heritage.” By projecting Klimt on a destroyed facade Azzam confronts a couple’s intimacy with the cruelty of war: “The Kiss shows the love and relationship between people,” the artist stated in a recent interview, “and I have juxtaposed this with the capacity of hate the regime holds for its people.”

Tammam Azzam was born in Damascus in 1980 and graduated from the Syrian’s capital Faculty of Fine Arts. He was featured at the Scope Art Fair Basel in 2009 and at Art Miami 2010. He also had various solo shows at the Ayyam Gallery, Damascus and Dubai.

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Mounir Fatmi’s video work ‘The Angels Black Leg’, 2011, contains a strong aesthetic and thematic reference to ‘Main Altar of Saint Cosmas and Damian’, 1438/40, by Fra Angelico. The work by Angelico depicts two surgeons performing a transplant operation in which a black leg is being transplanted onto a white patient. Fatmi’s work often deals with historical matters, religious objects and their desecration. Furthermore his productions are often subversive and frequently deal with political issues. Fatmi is a Moroccan multimedia artist presently living between Paris and Tangier.