Looking back on a year of Studio 75

It’s nearly a year since we started up Studio75. It was last Christmas time that were in there stripping, painting and repairing the place to make it fit for purpose. In January Naz stood in the cold and painted the exterior wall. By Feb were put on our first show, a drawing show.

Now we’re taking stock. It’s been a learning experience.

What have we learned?

It’s possible to make a project without funding if you are committed. There are ways to glean, barter, share and negotiate. And you are investing in yourself.

Don’t expect anything. Don’t expect to get accolades or money. Don’t expect that limo to pull up with a rich collector bursting to buy you up and make you big. Ok, so we weren’t expecting that, but we can’t reiterate it enough LIFE AIN’T NO FAIRYTALE. You get born, you make art, you die.

Freedom is worth more than you can imagine. Being free to make and show, has been a challenge. It is also exhilarating, which is its own reward – and it develops you as an artist.

Something to remember about your anticipated audience: People want the security and imprimature of a known name or brand [e.g. “Tate” “Hirst” “Warhol” “Bloomberg” “Becks” “White Cube” “Jerwood” etc. – some of the current brands in the art world.. We live in a brand – obsessed society. It’s hard to persuade people to try anything new and label-free. That includes you.

Many people prefer the comfort zone of simply paying for something, rather than having it for free but having to rise to expectations.

Generosity of spirit appears in the most unexpected and unforeseen ways.

London is the empire of the overprivileged and half-talented. This can be very hard to negotiate when you are trying to put together a show or an event.

You will be online more than you would like to be. No matter what we write on our website about the nature of the studio, people still email us asking us to curate them or hire them. So we have to email back and say politely that …no, etc.etc.

The audience that is not in the art biz is really important. Some of the best art conversations we’ve ever had is with our neighbours.

Document everything, and try to do a good job of it.

Reflect regularly on what you are doing and why.

Art is really hard work and demands total commitment. It’s not fun or trendy or cool or nice.

You have to be prepared to fail each and every day, and get up and do it again.

We’ve been fortunate. We’ve welcomed a book art show from Moscow (joined by UK based book artists); a gallery exchange with Valencia; solo shows by Elshaday Berhane from Amsterdam and Glenn Ibbitson from Wales. Nazir Tanbouli painted the start of the Egyptian on the studio walls, as the news radio spewed out minute by minute updates. Gareth Evans, together with Andrea Luka Zimmermann, hosted a series of remarkable film screenings. Nazir and Valentin Manz created a library of handmade books. Gillian hosted film students for experimental film discussion, and launched her book Tarkovsky’s River. Many paintings have been made, and some collages. A lot more are now in process.

What’s coming for 2012? Less focus on showcasing, and more focus on the process of making and showing as one act. More experimentation, more daring, less comfort, more challenge.

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the exhibition EYE CANDY by Egyptian born, London based Nazir Tanbouli presents very violent and disturbing themes, such as street battles, interrogations, personal violence and nightmarish monsters, within a palette which is very luscious, candy coloured and bright.

Tanbouli is very influenced by Mexican and Aztec imagery, from the copal wood carvings sometimes known as alebrijes to the Aztec pictographs and masks. He is particularly interested in the ritualistic and shamanistic aspects of this kind of work, and how it belongs to the societies in which it’s made. It is not Mexican or Aztec culture itself which has inspired the artist, but a sense of bringing together non-Western approaches to art that can be employed in making sense of the contemporary world which in Tanbouli’s case is present-day London, where he lives, and the wider world, which he accesses through the media.

New reports of the Arab Spring and the street fighting, the London riots, the daily wash of news horror stories, all make their way into Tanbouli’s work. Watching his home town of Alexandria erupt in revolution, reading his friends’ posting on Facebook, was almost too much for the exile to bear and he dealt with it in his own way – through drawing and painting.

The personal is political for Tanbouli. In a previous piece, Take 7, (2010) he imagined his life story as a film, and created the storyboard for it as a series of stark black-and-white screen prints, published in 2011 as SELF, an expressionistic, wordless graphic autobiography that channels Albert Camus, Frank Miller and Robert Weine.

The principal works in EYE CANDY, the collections Coloured Label and Candy Coloured Tragedies, together with the large painting CIVILIANS fool the eye with their colourful surfaces, cooly disguising the horrible things they portray. And yet the works are homeopathic, shamanic. Candy for the eye, food for the brain and rejuvenation for the soul.