Gallery run 18th August

Gallery visits by @juliansharplesart, jogging via canals and parks. 9 pics. This week, Samara Scott Battersea Park and clockwise.

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Su Xiaobai at White Cube. Size about 5’x5′ Depth about 6″

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Samara Scott of The Sunday Painter at Pleasure Garden Fountains in Battersea Park. The show called Developer uses fabrics deployed in characteristic casual, meaningful and evocative manner.

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Jiang Zhi at White Cube. Remember these screen blips from 90’s computer technology?

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Thrush Holmes at Beers London using neon and loose brushwork.

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Daniel Sinsel at Sadie Coles HQ with more exploration of surface and illusion.

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Jeff Koons at Gagosian Gallery with a blow-up stainless steel piece complete with two valves.

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Break step!

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Jean Michel Basquiat at Gagosian Gallery.

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Straight on from the bridge shown adjacent.

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Sculpture in the City 2016, 12th August

Some artworks take time for their significance to be fully absorbed and this was the case with Michael Lyons’ sculpture, Centaurus. As a consequence of this, the present gallery run, based on a trail of 20 sculptures called Sculpture in the City, is described on two separate time scales, the day itself and a few days later. On this later occasion  I looked across an expanse of water to the City from the banks of the Thames whilst on a separate run and at a greater distance. The inspiration for a double narrative of this sort was also inspired by the writer Marcel Proust who used the changing distance of a spectator to reveal different truths about a cluster of objects whether they be artworks or the steeples of rural churches.

Close up, Sculpture in the City is a trail that extends south from the building formerly known as the NatWest Tower which bares, for those who are interested, the bank’s logo in its section. It then doubles back at Leadenhall market and one soon arrives at the grand plaza of the Leadenhall Cheesegrater, and then further back, the plaza of the St Mary’s Axe Gherkin. This doubling back at Leadenhall gives the sculpture trail an overall V shape with the Cheesegrater near the tip.

It was these same three buildings I would see from afar as I jogged round the long curving banks of the Thames a few days later. They formed a slowly rotating compass which would constantly pick out due south thanks to the illumination of a rather vivid red sunset reflecting off the Cheesgrater’s long south-facing facade. Thanks also to Michael Lyons’ sculpture, this overview of the whole sculpture trail would inspire me on my return home to write the present account, mindful of the fact that some artworks give a delayed reaction to the understanding of their truths.

On the day, Michael Lyons’ sculpture appeared sited on ground level in a plaza close to these iconic buildings. It had a roughly worked steel form and stone plinth and what looked like a gestural curve applied to a horizontal steel plate as a head and this sat atop a thick tapered pole in reference to a neck. It had a presence a bit like a sentinel and its name Centaurus suggested it was referencing a point or constellation in the southern sky, despite the bright midday sun temporarily obscuring any poetic reference to the stars. Then comes the moment referred to at the beginning of this account, of realisation. The sculpture was actually in alignment with the paving slabs of the plaza and this in turn, through the vision of architects, extended to an overall south facing aspect for all the buildings in that little region of the City. Thus from afar on the Thames I was looking at London’s Compass as the three buildings of the trail formed a V shaped constellation brought to life by its glowing tip as the evening sunset shone off the slope of the foremost building, the Cheesegrater. This is a compass that any city visitor can henceforth use to pick out due south and guide them on their way.

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Centaurus by Michael Lyons. The sculpture faces due south, as do the surrounding buildings, in fact, and is the inspiration for this week’s blog, the London Compass.

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Gavin Turk in Sculpture In The City

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Huma Bhabha of Stephen Friedman in Sculpture In The City.

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William Kentridge of Marian Goodman gallery. The artist has produced a composite portrait of a poverty stricken figure selling coals.

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Sarah Lucas of Sadie Coles HQ in Sculpture In The City.

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Ugo Rondinone of Sadie Coles HQ in Sculpture In The City.

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Lukas Duwenhogger at Raven Row. Exotic symbol-laden paintings.

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Giuseppe Penone in Sculpture In The City. Bronze tree with smooth boulders.

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Brick Lane activity.

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Anthony Caro of Gagosian in Sculpture In The City. Made from additions to a sea floatation tank.

The Line Sculpture Trail, 4th August

With the galleries on summer holiday, I decided to check out The Line sculpture trail. Its collection of artworks are embedded along two geographic vectors that by happy coincidence lie superimposed upon one another pointing in a northerly direction. They are the River Lea and the Greenwich Meridian line. The Line sculpture trail is rather less fluent than the geographical lines it references, due in part to tight bows near the mouth of the River Lea and accompanying industrial estates that make the river at this stage inaccessible. But this makes for added adventure.

An Oyster card is useful too since another major feature of the Line is the Thames itself. Whilst the first sculptures are situated on the south side of the river the rest are reached by a ride across the Thames on the Emirates cable car. After a surprisingly exciting “flight”, the route planners have then urged the adventurer to take the DLR and resume on foot after a short journey by train. But I hot-foot it through the industrial estates and rejoin The Line further north. A river path has appeared and the Lea has become navigable again to the casual stroller.

Along this stretch of the river I see a sculpture by Damien Hirst identifiable by its cartoony style. It is a painted bronze about the size and shape of a saloon car. Small blue and red circles punctuate its surface in pairs and have been clearly articulated from the day they were cast in the original monochrome bronze. They represent blood vessels close to the surface of the skin and add a sensation of visceral reality to the giant biological machine of which they are part. Other vessels are rendered too in an extended palette of colours which try through their clarity to emulate the strange alphabet of the book of life. Sweat glands, hairs and shunts that cool the skin are all present and speak of their function with the clarity of a medical textbook illustration.

This mass of bronze mimics no more than a slither of skin but it is brought to life by the bright colours and remind me of a fabulous slice of trifle. I graciously receive this generous offering and tuck into yet another of the courses that have been served up today! The layers are stepped on their upper surface adding a further sense of grandeur to their scale. But like those classical depictions of vanities that have a skull or some other device to remind us of our own mortality, thick black hairs sit atop the spectacle, and upset any further sense of appetitive fulfilment. They are curved as though caught momentarily by a delicate breeze drawn off the surface of the nearby river. And it is along this river that the next item of the trail lies, a spiral DNA structure fashioned from shopping trolleys, somehow commenting on our most recent mutation that has come to characterise the first part of the 21st century, our transformation into shopaholics.

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Emirates Air Line which forms a vital link crossing the Thames for The Line sculpture trail.

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Opposite larger than life bronze contemporary figure with its own smart phone by Thomas J Price on The Line sculpture trail.

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Carsten Holler of Gagosian joins his spiral tube slide to the spiral tower of Anish Kapoor of Lisson Gallery.

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Antony Gormley of White Cube showing Quantum Cloud on The Line sculpture trail.

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Richard Wilson RA produced Slice of Reality, the title being visible on a life ring on board. The Line sculpture trail.

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Sterling Ruby of Spruth and Magers and Gagosian produced this angular canon-like form. He paid particular attention to the spray paint whose code is displayed in welded lettering on the base. The Line sculpture trail.

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Damien Hirst of White Cube on The Line sculpture trail. The painted bronze sculpture imitates a few cubic millimetres of skin.

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Gary Hume of David Zwirner gallery with brass leg-like forms on The Line sculpture trail.

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Abigail Fallis on The Line sculpture trail. Shopping trolleys imitate structural molecules in a DNA spiral. The poppies were growing round the concrete base.