Parkland Walk, 23rd June

Parkland Walk is one of my favourite routes to an art gallery. It serves Camden Arts Centre, though with a big detour northwards. Such is the beauty of this dis-used railway route, formerly connecting two seemingly unbridgeable projections of the Northern Line, that the detour is well worth it. Indeed, I get a sense of impending excitement whenever the Arts Centre in Hampstead (it’s not actually located in Camden) has a new show on.

Once on the tree-lined course of Parkland Walk, time stops and one seems to cross, as if by magic, from Hackney in the north east of London to its richer relative of Highgate in the north west. Here is a double illusion though, insofar as these boroughs are actually close together surprisingly, whilst the slowing of time is simply the effect of peace and the wildlife that this route provides. Graffiti appears to have emerged from the stonework of old station platforms. The sheer excess of signs and logos emulates the same force of nature that is embodied in the bursting vegetation on all sides. The route is well populated with runners and cyclists and we move out of each others way as we proceed between the two ends at different speeds and in different directions.

At Camden Arts Centre there is an installation by Anya Gallaccio, an artist who makes outdoor sculpture using materials that are often short-lived. Indeed one of her works, which so attracted me to come today, was a stack of salt slabs placed on the beach awaiting the incoming tide and their ultimate dissolution into the briny waters of the sea later that night. Watch the video sometime as it has a fantastic moment where a local is incandescent with rage that these beautifully ordered blocks should be wasted, as though entropy were a force for negotiation rather than one of nature itself. Anyway it’s with this in mind that I inspect her work in this show. If you were ever in the Cubs or Guides you may have done one of their excursions to a woodland, where rope bridges, swings and climbing nets have been slung amongst the branches of the trees. It is this experience which comes back to me today as I look upon the woven rope-work and get the faintest scent of an oily tar that must have been used in its manufacture. These are not for climbing on, however. Everyone sits sedately in the garden drinking tea and enjoying the cakes.

The route back is a long one on account of the geography of this week’s run. I can more or less take my pick of galleries to visit before crossing the Thames insofar as, like an ever branching tree of its own, the gallery run offers ever more possible routes through all the junctions I encounter heading back south. Michael Werner’s gallery is the one chosen to complete this run. A vivid painting by Jorg Immendorf, which is a really, rather wonderful, visual pun, is on display. Two yellow, cartoon-like figures are in the bath soaping themselves down. They are young so it is a benign image of bath-sharing, but as the torsos extend just below the unfeasibly blue water, they change colour. Think back to paint mixing classes at school and what you get if you mix blue and yellow. That’s all it is, but how nice it is to see a painting that has a logical reason to paint a torso in the false colour of green. To extend this idea one step further, Parkland Walk itself has created an equally false but joyful impression that all of London extends with similar hues between Hackney and Highgate.

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Parkland Walk between Finsbury Park and Highgate. On the way to the Camden Arts Centre.

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Guillermo Kuitca at Hauser and Wirth. The fragmentation cubism-lines become a floor plan.

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Anya Gallaccio of Thomas Dane Gallery showing at Camden Arts Centre. Part of Making and Unmaking show.

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Victoria Morton at Sadie Coles HQ. Colourful images with beautiful recurring motifs.

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Jorg Immendorff at Michael Werner. The babies are iconic symbols of innocence amidst his fierce campaigning against the Vietnam war.

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Nairy Baghramian at Marian Goodman Gallery. The pole structures hold the elements together

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Anna Paterson at RA Schools Show 2016. Oil, pastel and print on aluminium. Another interesting artist at the RA schools show.

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Joseph Grigely shows The Gregory Battcock Archive at Marian Goodman Gallery. Gregory himself is photographed in front of the first plane painted by Alexander Calder for Braniff Airlines in 1972.

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Rafal Topolewski at RA Schools Show 2016. Yellow, Orange and Black and Turn. Great paintings.

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