Elephant #6 —
Let’s be clear: Elephant’s particular view on contemporary art lies at the aesthetic end of the spectrum. This might fail to impress the more theoretical or conceptual standpoints that now occupy powerful positions of influence in the international art system, but it’s exactly the reason that the title appeals to younger audiences and those who, whilst loving art, have felt alienated by the intellectual voices of other specialist art titles or the art world itself. And, of course, Elephant is beautifully produced and pleasing on the eye, ironically, not always a quality inherent in ‘serious’ art magazines.
Furthermore, Elephant’s coverage crosses over into the realms of street culture and graphic design, something that is, perhaps, growing in its presence within the title. The article ‘The Glass Ceiling’ in issue 6 is a good case in point. Whilst the same debate could be raised – yes, still!- about the position of women artists, here it takes on the form of a very personal article by Astrid Stavro, instead turning its attention to women in the field of graphic design. In many ways, this is perhaps more pressing. For, if women artists have a long history of raising their voices about gender disparity in the art world, women graphic designers, for obvious reasons, may have had to remain silent. The graphics world, after all, is traditionally very much a ‘boy’s game’, not to mention that, as a far more industrial and commercial landscape, vocal political positions on gender inequality might well scare away the corporate clients.
That said, the issue has a number of eye-opening articles that are unquestionably about top quality visual art, including a feature article on acclaimed painter Chantal Joffe and Margherita Dessanay’s survey article ‘Cinematic Painting’ that profiles a clutch of international young talents whose work is based in cinema. However, it needs to be said that her failure to mention either Luc Tuymans or Gerhard Richter –the two artists responsible for even making this topic relevant to today’s contemporary art audience- leaves doubts as to the authority of the text.