Palladium/ White Cube/ Martin Kobe


Written by Leni Rowles
02 Friday 02nd November 2007

Palladium, a mass of pretty faces, fur and dangly earrings, are easy to spot even in Hoxton. I apologise for my lateness and herd them into the White Cube gallery where Martin Kobe and Ellen Altfest are showing. It’s not difficult to get the boys talking. We shimmy around the exhibition opining our heads off.

Palladium looking confused outside White Cube.

Afterwards we head out into the drizzle, grab a free beer and get deep about art. First, we discuss German artist Martin Kobe’s vibrantly coloured, angular interiors. Born in Dresden during the German Democratic Republic regime, his work is heavily influenced by the socialist urban planning and architecture that dictates form, function and uniformity.

Martin Kobe, Untitled, 2007, Acrylic on canvas
The Palladium boys aren’t keen - they think the paintings look too much like architectural blueprints to feel ‘arty’. They look like: “rubbish neon hotels,” is the consensus. I peer down at Rocky’s fluorescent yellow plimsolls and ask: “What’s wrong with neon?” Apparently it’s OK if its on your feet… according to Rocky.

We move on to Ellen Altfest, whose work plays with the conventions of the traditional genres of nude and still life. She’s a bigger hit. Sorry Martin - she painted a willy and a bum. That’s always a winner. But even though the subject matter of The Penis and The Butt may initially attract attention, we all agree that it’s Altfest’s meticulous detail that holds it. Fez says of The Penis: “I’ve seen a lot of penises and that was very accurate”. Rufio adds: “It’s got balls, that painting” (hee hee). Rocky, meanwhile, is engrossed in a painting of some rusty pipes.

Later, as I slurp on Ginger Chicken Udon with the band, I ask them what stresses them out. Rocky admits he’s precious about his hair and gets anxious when it’s cut too short. Fez delivers: “I don’t get stressed – I’m the Fez, baby!” Of course you are dear.

Rufio explains that he gets very uncomfortable when things aren’t at right angles. And Peter informs me that he’s aggravated by small talk. “So, what do you do to relieve stress?” I ask. “Hunt!” Peter answers without hesitation (a fox fur stole complete with face and paws hangs around his neck). Apparently deer hunting is his favourite and aged, female, virgin deer are the tastiest.

Then it’s show-time at the Islington Carling Academy. I’m intrigued to see how they will come across performing together as a band. Palladium isn’t just a ruggedly handsome front man band with three other musicians content to fade into the background. Each is a proper one man show. I fall instantly in love with Rufio in action – a miniature man in a silver visor, matching silver trainers and a keyboard earring.

Rufio in action (Photo courtesy of Jonny Cochrane)

Rocky really does LOVE playing the drums. He’s 21 year old and from South Wales. Fez is a proper Norf' London boy in leather jacket and All Stars. He’s got a nice, thrusting thing going on as he plays guitar. Then there’s Peter: deer-hunter-cum-rock-star, a calm and collected front man complete with pearls and dangly earring. His voice is beautiful and striking. He is more versatile, camper and funkier than I expected. I spend equal time watching each of them.

Peter - rock star by night, hunting enthusiast by day.

I had intended to leave after a few songs, but stay watching
Palladium till the end, and am late for my friends’ night up the
road. And I hate being late… it makes me really stressed.

Additional photography by Ben Miller

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