Gallery run 18th August

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

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

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.

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

Thrush Holmes at Beers London using neon and loose brushwork.

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

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

Break step!

Jean Michel Basquiat at Gagosian Gallery.

Straight on from the bridge shown adjacent.

Sculpture in the City 2016, 12th August

Michael Lyons’ sculpture, Centaurus is hard to understand since its name seems to suggest a constellation of stars. Yet its placement in Sculpture in the City seems to suggest just the opposite, tall office blocks and busy traffic. The trail itself, of 20 sculptures is excellent. By good fortune the meaning, as I understand it, of Centaurus has just come to me a couple of days later. A run along the Thames has precipitated this and it is one of those moments where, with a fine, glowing sunset, the City is actually looking quite nice.

Here is the background. Sculpture in the City is a trail of art that extends in a southwards direction from the NatWest Tower, as I’ve always known it to be called, to just beyond the Cheese Grater, as I still prefer it to be called, and then back north to the Gherkin, which will always be its true name. In short, the trail has a North-to-South orientation forming a sort of point at its southernmost extent, though this could well be a coincidence. It is near this point that Michael Lyons’ Centaurus is located. It is a simple looking object reminiscent of a Totem or tall sundial with a semi-circular, metal feature at the top of a tall, nicely corroded metal stand or plinth.

From afar these three buildings, which frame the sculpture trail, again announce their North-to-South geometry, this time emphasised with the red ridges of a setting sun shining off their southern facades like the red paint sometimes used on bar magnets to indicate their polarity in old science labs. I think they still do that, don’t they?

Anyway a quick browse on the internet before writing this confirms that Richard Rogers, whose Cheese Grater is the dominate element of this little, red, glowing constellation, is obsessed with due South and has located his building precisely in that orientation. This is fortunate because the plaza in which it is located and which precedes it by many years, also has this orientation extending to the buildings in it and the paving slabs on it. Finally it is on the very edge of this plaza that Centaurus has been installed, holding true to the principles of the space in which it is located. Its rectangular plinth is perfectly aligned, meaning of course that its semi-circular head faces due South in the manner of all its surrounding architecture. Presumably the additional privilege it has of being a work of art is that it can subtly draw attention to this fact. I don’t know where Centaurus is in the sky but the name corresponds well to Michael Lyon’s artwork insofar as the sculpture seems more concerned with the cosmic relationships of alignment in the City’s architecture than with its own physical appearance, beautiful though that is.


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.

Gavin Turk in Sculpture In The City

Huma Bhabha of Stephen Friedman in Sculpture In The City.

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

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

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

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

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

Brick Lane activity.

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

The Line Sculpture Trail, 4th August

If the most important abstract line on the Earth’s surface, which we know from maps as the Greenwich Meridian, were to overlap and run in tandem with an important London river, you would think that this might be a noteworthy location for a sculpture trail! This is indeed the case. The name of this art trail is The Line and the important river that completes this cosmic alignment, and along which the trail progresses, is called the River Lea.

The Line begins in Greenwich, though not actually at the observatory. Rather the giant dome built to celebrate the new millennium provides a backdrop and also probably much of the land for the first batch of sculptures that mark the beginning of the trail. We encounter a sign that rather wittily points in what is effectively a random direction and states the distance back to itself as being approximately 24,000 miles. This is not an artwork for flat earthers. The sign would be true in any location on Earth but it seems particularly apt here in Greenwich once we have been primed to the idea that we are standing on the very soil from which the whole of the Earth’s navigation system is grounded. An upside down electricity pylon is nearby. “Are we in the Antipodes now?” seems to be the question it is prompting or at least allowing us to contemplate. Finally, a cable car whisks us off for a real flight as we earn our first air mile crossing the River Thames and land on its far side amongst the repurposed docks and another batch of great sculpture.

We’ve landed. Now we have the task of getting up to the Lea’s footpath. As this river enters the Thames it makes two majestic swishes, throwing its detritus onto the muddy banks and generally deterring any intrepid trailblazer from attempting a short cut to get to its side. Instead The Line guides us patiently round some backstreets and we arrive at Damien Hirst’s sculpture. It is also where the footpath begins, going upriver and the visitor is met here with the calm flow of an already diminished waterway and the smell of coffee and cake. The sculpture is predominantly pink and yellow. Though this colour scheme is not intended to imitate food, it nevertheless invokes memories of school dinners and my favourite puddings.

It is actually a sculpture of skin, not the sort you find on cold custard, but rather what we would see on our own bodies if we were somehow to be miniaturised to see things on a microscopic level. When sculpture is massively enlarged, which this is, the familiar can look extremely strange. The tubes, tissue, hairs and sweat glands are every bit as realistic as the anatomy pictures you see in textbooks or on television. It’s really very good actually, to such an extent that were the mud on the banks of the Lea itself rendered in this way, one wonders whether that too might be elevated to the level of art. It’s time to move on now and with one last artwork to view. Abigail Fallis’ spiral of DNA is an assemblage of shopping trolleys up a very large metal pole. As you might imagine they form a spiral pattern rising up from the ground with each trolley paired to another. This could be a meditation on shopping, as one account states, but whatever its intended meaning, it also portrays a childlike pleasure of simply stacking things and all the better that those trolleys still have their swivel wheels to remind us of their now defunct purpose.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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