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Ellie Ji Yang’s idyllic paintings explore the rhythms of the natural world

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List Work / Art Cleon Peterson's new exhibition Blood & Soil attacks American politics head on

Cleon Peterson’s powerful paintings challenge modern-day anxieties; directly criticising global and national politics. Blood & Soil, a title taken directly from a Nazi slogan, opens this Saturday at Over the Influence, LA. Moving from expressive nudes to figures in uniform, this exhibition observes Cleon attacking America’s here and now. Drawing from classical art forms, with his figures reminiscent of those created by the Greeks, the artist highlights how history never seems to progress — justice remains an unreachable ideal, law and order remains violent and corrupt. Concerned that we are slipping into a new form of fascism, Cleon has decided to speak up instead of remain silent. With their bold, uniform blocks of red, white and black, these threatening, ferocious paintings speak volumes.

Frieze-list Work / Art Frieze Sculpture 2018 proves the power of art in the public realm

The UK is experiencing a heatwave, and what better way to experience this warm, balmy weather than spending an evening wandering through one of London’s parks. Yesterday afternoon, It’s Nice That ventured down to Regent’s Park for the reception of Frieze Sculpture. With the summer’s heat lifting the scent of flowers into the surrounding air, and with members of the public already mingling amongst the works of art; it was instantly apparent the uplifting effect sculpture could have on a person.

List-image-locker-room Work / Art Locker room talk: Gray Wielebinski on appropriating the visual, spoken and body language of baseball

For their graduating exhibition at the Slade School of Fine Art, Gray Wielebinski turned the iconography and perception of baseball on its head, in an installation that creates what they describe as “a dream-like queer locker room setting”. A Dog Pees on Things for More than One Reason appropriates the visual codes of the sport to explore themes of “national identity – specifically in the USA, and Americana – desire, myth-making, sports, memory and childhood, fashion and masculinity”; and Gray describes the intention behind the work as being “to blur the lines between reality, memory, projection, hope and mainstream media representations, and to reconsider the framework for how the locker room occupies our cultural imaginations.”

List_climbing_the_ladder_2018_oil_on_canvas_40_x_55cm Work / Art Mia Wilkinson’s unapologetic nudes are a study of how women are sexualised on and offline

From Marlene Dumas, to Jeff Koons or even Titian, the line between what constitutes art and what is porn has been much debated over the centuries and rarely has a simple answer. With their voluptuous, fleshy figures and expressive brush strokes, Mia Wilkinson’s depictions of the female form are an exploration of this malleable line, using her joyous, powerful and sometimes grotesque portrayals of the female body as a method of challenging male objectification and reconfiguring the gaze. “I love the female form because it’s an interesting shape, it doesn’t all look the same. There are so many different bodies out there,” she says.

Hellocollective-art-int-list Work / Art Hell’O Collective paints poetic nonsensical worlds inspired by mythology

Hell’O Collective is an artistic duo composed of Jerôme Meyden and Antoine Detaille; the friends met over graffiti, but soon left “spray paint in favour of paper” and painting. Currently on show at the Musée des Beaux-Arts in Mons, a Belgium city where they both studied, is a presentation of their “last, or first” ten years of work. Too young for it to be called “a retrospective”, the duo describe it more as a “state of play”. Being their first museum project, it features a diverse range of mediums — drawings, paintings, sculptures, videos and murals. It illustrates the collective’s evolution over the course of the last ten years. “Homogeneity is one of the most important things we have developed” Jerôme and Antoine explain, “it is not easy for a lot of people to work together, but for us, it’s easier than working alone; after all these years we’ve found almost the perfect combination”.

Listthe_twins_220x190_oil_on_canvas_2018 Work / Art Francisco Rodríguez’s eerie paintings combine his childhood diet of cartoons and industrial landscapes

Growing up in Santiago, Chile, artist Francisco Rodríguez loved watching cartoons from the US and Europe but especially from Japan. “Japanese animation was extraordinarily famous during the 90s in Chile, maybe because they were cheaper to buy,” Francisco tells us. “Throughout my childhood, I was very influenced by these cartoons – it makes me think this could be one of the reasons why my paintings are quite graphic with solid colours and very delimited drawings.”

Ellie-art-int-list Work / Art Ellie Ji Yang’s idyllic paintings explore the rhythms of the natural world

Ellie Ji Yang’s joyful and colourful paintings explore the rhythms of the natural world. Brought up in Gwang-ju, a city in South Korea “that balances city and nature”, Ellie was surrounded by “greenery and small forests” from a young age. “Connected to nature, my memories of these places are the foundation of my imagination”, she tells us. Now based in Brooklyn, NYC, Ellie’s paintings vividly recall her childhood, creating idyllic, vibrant scenes, pointedly absent of anything human-made. Many of her works include animals reminiscent of Asian culture and symbolism, while others showcase worlds containing mysterious prehistoric and religious references.

Suzannesaroff-fish-photography-itsnicethat-list Work / Photography Suzanne Saroff's meticulously arranged photographs alter perceptions

Photographer Suzanne Saroff began working in her discipline the way most do, developing a love for it through picking up disposable cameras and point and shoots. Hooked, the Missoula-born and now New York-based photographer “endeavoured to learn as much as possible about the art, teaching myself aspects of DSLR cameras and learning lighting techniques while exploring composition and subject matter,” she tells us. Since then, composition has become a part of Suzanne’s work she’s garnered a following for, arranging glasses filled with water to alter perceptions of a well-known object, from a lobster to half a papaya, or a bunch of peonies.

Thinkpiece-image-list Work / Opinion Arts cuts are bad for our health – what are we going to do about it?

Jodie Cariss works as part of Forever Curious, a creative initiative set up to work with local east London primary schools. One of the many things they offer is a series of “buddy up” sessions, where industry professionals share stories with a view to make them come to life. Below, Cariss writes how increasingly important it is that these initiatives exist in a climate where cuts are rife and asks: What next for a generation let down by state funding for the arts?

The world feels messy. Politically unstable. A growing sense of slowly mounting chaos and fear over the unknown. One of the UK’s worst-hit areas is the education system. Teachers are leaving in droves. The National Audit Office has tasked mainstream schools with making £3 billion in savings by 2019 – that’s around £800 per pupil. Nearly a quarter of the teachers who qualified since 2011 have already quit the job.

Inevitably, money for creativity and the arts within the curriculum has been fiercely reduced, in some areas to non-existence. Our schools are facing a scarcity of teachers – or at least, many with depleted energy after meeting growing demands – and art cupboards with just one ream of A4 paper for 900 students. I’ve seen it with my own eyes in a Hackney school.

So what happens to a generation of young people, particularly the 4.1 million who are classed as underprivileged, with limited opportunities at home, and fewer at school?

There will be a rise in adolescents with behavioural issues, leading to a less mentally-well adult generation. We know creativity has a direct correlation to the way we feel and how we express emotion, and poor mental health is already on the rise, with one in four people experiencing a problem each year.
Without sounding like the doctor of doom, the education crisis will pave the way for social and creative regression. Why? Because creativity is fundamental to the way we understand the world, form and keep relationships and develop our own sense of self. The ability to create, which begins in early development as play and forms the foundation of the way we find meaning in later life, is essential for a balanced and stimulated generation.

Turkina-faso-photography-itsnicethat-15 Work / Photography Turkina Faso's cover story for Odiseo issue 12 explores our skin as a uniform

“Evoking thoughts of conformity and lack of change, but also the sensation of equality and unity, issue 12 explores the significance of patterns, and the need for belonging,” reads the editor’s letter of the latest issue of contemporary erotic magazine, Odiseo, published by Folch. Focussed around a central question: “Who are you when you are alone, and who are you with others?” – the issue is dedicated to uniformity, “shaped into a publication”.

Its-nice-that-caitlin-mccarthy_list Work / Animation Meet Caitlin McCarthy and her cute (and sometimes gross) animations

Throughout Caitlin McCarthy’s creative career she has jumped between disciplines, analogue tools and digital programmes. Studying illustration at Camberwell, “which I chose because I loved drawing,” Caitlin then “somehow finished up my degree trying to be a fine artist, making giant silicone ham slices” she tells It’s Nice That. Immediately after graduation, literally just a few days, she went back to drawing and was an illustrator. Now… Caitlin’s an animator!

Moon-publication-itsnicethat-list Work / Publication From magazine worshipper to publisher: a chat with Moon’s founder Verity Pemberton

When Verity Pemberton, the founding editor of Moon magazine, was a teenager, her bedroom walls had a similar wallpaper to many other magazine makers. They were repeatedly pasted with ripped out centrefolds. “My brother used to write for i-D and The Face so I was looking at all those magazines from a young age,” she tells us. “I think when you pick up the right kind of magazine it can really speak to you — with Moon I just wanted to be able to make my creative ideas into a reality and also be able to share the people I find inspiring.”

List Work / Art Cleon Peterson's new exhibition Blood & Soil attacks American politics head on

Cleon Peterson’s powerful paintings challenge modern-day anxieties; directly criticising global and national politics. Blood & Soil, a title taken directly from a Nazi slogan, opens this Saturday at Over the Influence, LA. Moving from expressive nudes to figures in uniform, this exhibition observes Cleon attacking America’s here and now. Drawing from classical art forms, with his figures reminiscent of those created by the Greeks, the artist highlights how history never seems to progress — justice remains an unreachable ideal, law and order remains violent and corrupt. Concerned that we are slipping into a new form of fascism, Cleon has decided to speak up instead of remain silent. With their bold, uniform blocks of red, white and black, these threatening, ferocious paintings speak volumes.

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