Apro Lee is guesting at Sang Bleu London until the 24th September
Since Seoul-based tattooer Apro Lee completed his first guest spot at East River Tattoo last April, his tattoos–contorted, demonic tigers and cartoonish, almost mocking, magpies in particular–have left a lasting impression. With thick, bold lines, expansive stippling, and graphic dotted, slashed, and scratched textures, all his tattoos have a sense of strength and deliberateness that feels appropriate to their place of origin. After all, tattooing is still very much illegal in Seoul, and serious tattooers are still actively and passionately fighting to practice their craft without persecution. We recently caught up with Apro to talk about his background, philanthropy the rough tattoo scene in Seoul.
When did you start tattooing? Do you have a background in art?
I started tattooing in Seoul, Korea in 2006. I don’t have any background in art, but as far as I can remember, I was drawing all the time. I had always wanted to be a cartoonist when I was little.
I know tattooing is still illegal in South Korea. How does that affect the tattoo scene there? How does the tattoo scene in Seoul compare to other cities you have travelled to?
Yes, tattooing in South Korea is still illegal. There is this strange law that only doctors can tattoo, which is very frustrating. But compared to the days I began about 10 years ago, circumstances and regulations are way better. Back then, there were no [tattoo] masters or [sites like] YouTube that could teach us, nor the proper tattoo equipment dealers. A single needle was $10, so I had to make needles, liners, magnums, etc. every time I tattooed. Can you imagine?
Things are different now, but it still has to stay private and [...]
Polish artist Joanna Rajkowska’s upcoming exhibition at London’s l’étrangère gallery is an unnerving exploration of Western science; casting weaponry out of painkillers, Rajkowska has created products physicalising the complex relationship between the military and pharmaceutical production industries that often develop biological armament and painkilling drugs in cohesion with each other.
Rajkowska has formed products of modern warfare -guns, grenades, bullets- from powdered analgesics. The pristine whitened perfection of these final products mounted on white walls is far from what we hitherto understand as an environment for weapons of war; chaos, blood, dirt upon dilapidated landscapes. Instead, the space they sit in -unused- is clinical, modern, almost dystopian in its displacement.
The same businesses own armament and pharmaceutical production industries due to their similar technologies, similar substances and the similar knowledge required. Therefore, the same individuals are responsible for considering the medical, chemical and psychological consequences of a weapon and the medical, chemical and psychological knowledge to ease a cause of pain. In Rajkowska’s pieces, this complex purpose is physicalised; the product of destruction and a product of aid.
Each weapon is mounted alongside a list of countries that have used it and the wars it has been present in.
These spectral forms, in the purity of their white space, untouched, unmarked and deactivated are unnerving in what we know is their true purpose. Our body, present, should fear these products of harm and destruction, though hesitate in the materialism of analgesics that seek to cure the body justly. In Painkillers, Rajkowska demands this conversation of conflict ideologies. We spoke to her about the process of the artwork, the exhibition and the place for the body within it.
You speak of endless historical research into biological warfare and pharmaceutical industries but what prompted you to create something physical from these findings?
Will Sheldon is currently guesting at Sang Bleu, 29b Dalston Lane until Saturday.
Creating original work within the tattoo world is an area largely untackled or difficult to manouveue due to its isolated styles falling into the categories of flash or tribal or script or geometry or so on or so on….. There is a certain safety in a tattooer cocooning themselves within the guidelines of what makes a good traditional tattoo or a photo realistic portrait.
It seems now that tattooers aim to champion each sub category and re-invent these styles to their own rather than create something new. How many more times can we all see a recreation of an Amund Dietzel snake, a lacklustre copy of a Thomas Hooper sleeve or a flat version of a Duncan X graphic?
At only 25 years old, Will Sheldon has been working at the prestigious shop Saved in Brooklyn for two and half years and creates mind bendignly surreal tattoos incorporating the brilliance of folk and outsider art into something modern but timeless rather than nostalgic. His work is simultaneously sensitive and gender neutral as well as catering towards a more intellectual audience with its humorous edge and brilliant colour palette.
His work sets him apart from anything else happening within the tattoo world at the moment, creating original work within this industry is an area largely untackled or difficult to manouveue due to its isolated styles and overpoweringly masculine environment. However it seems that these categories are rarely challenged, or if they are – they are rarely successful. This is where Will’s work really stands out like a breath of needed fresh air.Instead of speaking to Will about the same repetitive questions that we all want to know but can guess from a tattooer, we’ve [...]
Between 1450 and 1750 more than 100,000 people, mostly women, were prosecuted by secular and ecclesiastical courts in different parts of Europe for allegedly practising harmful magic and Devil – worshipping. This is a short history on the strange and terrible practice of witch-hunts and some of the art that depicted them. This will be the first in a new series about medieval art, torture devices, weaponry, battle strategies, alchemy & mysticism and symbols that we take reference from here at Sang Bleu.
Persons who were prosecuted for witchcraft were predominantly if not overwhelmingly female, the percentage of female witches exceeded 75% in most regions of Europe and in a few locations, such as the county of Essex, it was more than 90%.
‘There was nothing in the definition of a witch that excluded males. Men could, just like women practise harmful magic, make pacts with the devil and attend the sabbath. In some of the woodcuts and engravings produced during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, especially those illustrating the pact with the devil, male and female witches are shown in equal numbers’. Briffault (1927).
The witch-hunts took place in most parts of Europe and at all different times, they also did not start without reason, many factors could have been the trigger for such a phenomenon, the centuries in which they took place were times for immense social and religious change, such as the Reformation. These factors along with peasantry superstitions, the subsequent belief in magical power and the role of the church in creating true fear of the Devil and the afterlife created tensions that clearly exacerbated the phenomenon that would go on to last three centuries. In most accounts and many people’s understanding of the trials is that most of the accused [...]
While in New York last month, I met with Derek Danton to have coffee and discuss Derek’s work as the owner of the world’s most important leather bar The Eagle. Opening in 1970, the bar has been a home to a kind of raw, gay masculinity like no other. A space of total community and celebration pioneering the way forward for this particular lifestyle as well as being prolific in their system of fundraising for LGBT communities. Tattooer Tamara Santibanez and Jason Schell also joined us for the conversation.
Reba: When did you start the Eagle? Why did you want to start this club?
Derek: I opened up in 2001, I have a history with the Eagle, it is why I moved to New York. Jack who owned the Eagle at that time, then had to move and I took it over, it’s been here since 1970, it has a huge rich history, it’s a leather bar, there was no leather bar before it. Everybody calls it a leather bar, but it really wasn’t a leather bar, it wasn’t just guys wearing leather, it was western gear, the construction look, it was village people.
When I opened the Eagle I had a battle with the old school leather guys who were saying this isn’t a leather bar and I’m saying, I never said it was a leather bar, it’s a bar for people who are into masculine stereotypes, but that argument falls on deaf ears as these guys have a big nostalgia for the 70s. Here we’ve embraced the entire kink community, there are people here into facial hair, diapers, paddles and whips, whatever, just a place where everyone can come and feel safe and secure. Everyone has [...]
At all times, my acts and my actions in life have stemmed from love
or eroticism, as you like it
Pierre Molinier, The Shaman and its Creatures
The Richard Saltoun Gallery is one of London’s most provokative art spaces, infamous for celebrating some of the 20th century most visceral artists in regards to the body and performance. So it was of great pleasure to discover that they have curated a solo exhibition of French artist Pierre Molinier’s photographs and paintings.
Molinier, being an artists of extortionate amounts of guts, taboo and originality paved the way for us to question how and what we consider shocking within art. The works on show are titilating in their obscure perversity; limbs, dildos and mannequin masks create Molinier’s bodies of odd exhibition, calling vulgar attraction with their fetishistic eroticism. So, to celebrate this exhibition we spoke to the curators of the exhibition, Giulia Casalini and Niamh Coghlan about Molinier’s bizarre but beguiling life and work to find out more about him and his work.
Reba – How long have you been planning this exhibition for?
Niamh- Probably for about six or seven months. We did a show before called Transformer last year where we had some of his works in that exhibition and ever since that show we’ve been buying up the works. As you know Molinier has become the new hit on the block since the Biennale. He is becoming much more of a household name as probably about four years ago that wasn’t necessarily the case.
Do you feel that Molinier is important to associate the gallery with?
Niamh – He fits a lot of what we focus on which tends to be artists that are exploring the body, performance, gender and sex, and doing it at a time when they weren’t supposed to be doing it. Particularly [...]
American Cassidy is an independent escort, dominatrix and cam girl. The self-proclaimed all natural “Goddess” takes her thoughts and photos and makes them available to the public. Flashing her bright blue dyed pubic hair any time she can get away with it, Cassidy hopes to break down barriers in society. She writes a blog (www.hookerproblemz.blogspot.co.uk), where she reveals her personal thoughts and sexual encounters in a thought-provoking and relatable way. Prostitution is one of the oldest professions known to mankind and is still very active all over the world today- yet it is generally seen as a shameful lifestyle choice. Using social media, (mainly Instagram; @hookerproblemz) Cassidy hopes to shed some light on various aspects of the sex industry. Ever since making her life public, she has been amazed at how many clients come to see her based on her writing and the way her mind works, rather than just her looks and visual aesthetic. She loves what she does for a living and knows one day she will live in a world where people will be more open-minded to her unique lifestyle.
In your professional life as a cam girl and escort you appeal to a niche or specialty audience with your full body hair- was this a change made because of an existing lifestyle/grooming choice or made specifically to set you apart in the cam & escort industry?
Ever since I went through puberty, I always enjoyed having my pubic hair. I admit I did shave my armpits and legs at one point- and over the past few years shaved them on certain occasions. When I first started in the sex industry I totally conformed to what I thought every guy wanted to see in a woman, which was [...]