Gallery run 24th May

The streets are filled with the drone of helicopters as I reach Lambeth Bridge. Security is high today after the tragic bombing of Manchester two days earlier. At St James’ Park the guardsmen on horseback are given a police escort as a car and policeman on bicycle flank the procession. The first gallery is White Cube where Wayne Thiebaud has a retrospective of pie and cake paintings along with landscapes. The application of paint is in thin single-coloured sheets rendered with parallel brushstrokes. On the food they look like icing whilst on the landscapes, nature itself looks edible. Across Piccadilly I arrive at Pace Gallery. Joel Shapiro has created an installation of coloured solid forms. I read that the airborne forms are made of 3mm plywood making them light enough to be suspended by thin wires. As described on the photo below, the floor based forms actively flaunt much thicker sides and greater mass. As a whole we are perhaps induced through illusion to believe the floating forms are of a similar design and are thereby defying gravity in some way. Back onto the streets I pass Berwick Street market whilst being stuck behind a cement mixer and pause to let the street and the way forward clear. Wardour Street leads on to Berners Street where I push open a door for the second time this month and find myself in an office next to Alison Jacques Gallery, a mistake in other words, and go into the gallery feeling slightly self conscious about the rather gauche circumstance of my arrival. The show I wanted to see is invitation only and in fact completely closed today due to the installation of a big show downstairs, though the woman on the front desk graciously invites me to the big opening in a week’s time. Hopefully this will feature in the next run. Slade School of Art have their BA this week and I was struck by the work of Chloe Ong and Max Martyns, both painters. The next student show I go to is the St Martin’s BA at St Pancras, but first I stop at Brittania Street and see a triple bill of Giacometti, Peter Lindberg and Taryn Simon. I had seen the work by Simon before and loved it. Bouquets recreated and photographed accompany political text describing the signing of a treaty, where the original flowers were present, and the narrative continues to subsequent events many of which involve war and conflict. The walk to St Martin’s College is stunning through the back of St Pancras and over a bridge crossing the Regent’s Canal. The college has an open atrium leading to 3 floors and on the top floor is a piece of work I love by Nathaniel Faulkner where high-tech facade meets low-tech materials. Another work by the same artist catches my eye. An IBM supercomputer, is powered by a few fairy lights, whilst the rest of the lights hang loose, visible from the back along with a roll of Sellotape casually left behind. Finally the canal takes me east to the exit at Wharf Road. After photographing Anne November Cathrin Hoibo’s beautiful textile works at Carl Freedman Gallery, I head south and reach Matt’s Gallery. David Batchelor has created a great installation notable for its use of giant hole cutter and un-precious materials. On the way out I meet the director and after an introduction we do a quick catch up on the day’s shows!

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Wayne Thiebaud at White Cube with richly rendered landscapes in addition to his famous cake paintings.

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Joel Shapiro at Pace Gallery with coloured plywood forms. From a technical viewpoint the floor based forms show thick chunky edges whilst by a kind of illusion the air based pieces conceal their thin 3mm sides and appear to float from thin wires.

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Chloe Ong at Slade Degree Show 2017 with beautifully composed landscapes.

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Max Martyns at Slade Degree Show 2017 with an exciting use of brushstroke.

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Taryn Simon at Gagosian with recreations of exotic bouquets that had been made originally for important signings of international deals.

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Nathaniel Faulkner at Central St Martins Degree Show 2017 with stunning recreations of technology from the front view. But look round the back and we see the proper artwork with wooden frames and flashing fairy lights that created the illusion of complex processes.

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Chicks on the towpath of Regents Canal.

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Ann Cathrin November Hoibo of Carl Freedman Gallery with beautifully woven threads and fabrics.

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David Batchelor at Matts Gallery with an installation that portrays the city landscape coming alive by night.

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Gallery run 19th May

Today I would be zigzagging along the Regent’s Canal, catching the early openers such as Victoria Miro Gallery before doubling back to visit the later opening Hackney galleries. Soon the hump of the canal appears on Dalston High Street just behind a mosque. The run to Victoria Miro requires an exit at Wharf Road, about 5 or 6 bridges along. I am greeted warmly by a tall chap near the door. Alice Neel’s paintings are of friends and neighbours in Spanish Harlem, where she settled with her husband. The women all have strikingly graceful hands. Upstairs Isaac Julien displays atmospheric stills from a film. From here the route to Beers, the next gallery on the run, takes me across a main road coming down from Islington. Strong, colourful, geometric forms based on architecture fill the gallery. The shapes cast artificial shadows upon themselves whilst the surfaces are pleasingly distressed as though to upset the geometric perfection and allow the eye to feast upon the rich colours. Then a return up Wharf Road and onto the canal makes for quick progress to Wilkinson Gallery near Victoria Park. The current show comprises beautiful, intricate paintings of trees and landscapes by Elizabeth Magill. Branches divide the landscapes into gridded mosaics and in a few places where it suits the composition, the artist has not been afraid to overpaint the branches with background pushing their knotted forms deeper into the composition. There would be two more gallery stops nearby on Herald Street. First I see a powerful sound-based installation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Mobile phone footage flashes up on monitors accompanied by shouts and shrieks. But when the sound quietens the monitors appear to switch off. These intermittent images on about 10 different screens powerfully depict an incursion by a crowd across a barbed-wire frontier into Israel. Meanwhile in Herald Street Christina Mackie has displayed beautifully coloured objects in a way that highlights their surfaces and basic forms. Any sense of what the objects may have been used for in the past is lost in the form of the artwork. I jog back to Brick Land through a lovely park and church yard and then weave through a small warren of walkways. Then on towards The City. Raven Row near Shoreditch is an old Huguenot house and the curator and co-director of the gallery has brought together female artists who have added an edgy twist to domestic objects. Lucy Orta has made fantastic live-in objects including a tent with attached hoodie which peers out of the top like a strange periscope. Finally I return west along the River Thames and arrive at Photo-London in Somerset House. Tatsuo Miyagima, an artist I am familiar with from Lisson Gallery, has photographed a fantastic digitalised number 5 created with orange paint on the toned stomach of an athlete.

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Alice Neel at Victoria Miro with portraits of her neighbours in Spanish Harlem New York, though she would later move to Upper West Side.

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Isaac Julien of Victoria Miro with stills from his film Looking For Langston.

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Genti Korini at Beers London with paintings inspired by fantastical architecture.

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On the Regents Canal today.

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Elizabeth Magill of Wilkinson Gallery with paintings of landscapes comprising tree branches in the foreground. Excellent rendering of the broken planes of colour between the branches.

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Christina Mackie of Herald Street with an installation of colourful objects in unusual arrangements.

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Lucy Orta at Raven Row.

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Tatsuo Miyajima at Photo London.

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A tank parked up off the Old Kent Road near Peckham.

Gallery run 10th May

Today I headed towards St James’ Park and then into Stephen Friedman gallery where Mamma Andersson is showing paintings and woodblock prints. After checking out both galleries I go into Sainsbury’s off Berkeley Square and buy a croissant as a mid-morning snack. Then I make my way north to Sadie Coles in Davies Street to see Jordan Wolfson’s show. I photograph a rather sinister looking red plastic house with teeth and nose moulded in the roof and then go upstairs where a shock awaits. An assistant helps me put on virtual reality headset and headphones whilst warning me to hold a metal grab rail at all times. It is not an electric shock from the grab rail, but from some grotesque ultra-violence that awaits from the headset. The grab rail is probably there in case someone faints. For the first thing I see is someone taking a massive swing at a defenceless victim using a baseball bat. I close my eyes, too embarrassed to remove the headset straight away in front of the assistant and as the beating continues I catch more glimpses of the victim, through half closed eyes, now unconscious on the street which incidentally is Davies street filmed outside the gallery. “That was intense”, I mutter, as I leave in slight shock. Going south now across Piccadilly I arrive at Thomas Dane Gallery, where the sculptor Terry Adkins has assembled stacks of tin pans and lids on poles protruding from the gallery walls. The route to the Thames from here passes through Trafalgar Square and here the street performers have laid out their chalk flags on the pavement and gathered people around the sound system. The river weaves its way eastwards and I follow its north bank past City School and then into a walkway that divides a recycling facility with a large four-wheeled crane straddling the divide and visible above as it shifts giant shipping crates. At Brick Lane I refuel with a smoked salmon bagel and then check into Kate MacGarry Gallery where Dr Lakra, a Mexican artist, has made totemic sculptures based on ancient South American figurines but crossed with 20th century icons including E.T.. Peer gallery is next where James Pyman has exhibited intricate pencil drawings from images linked to his own childhood including to comic books. A tragic tale unfolds as I listen to the artist recounting the story of everyone’s second favourite comic book artist but I am not here to spoil the ending. As the run draws to an end I reach the last stage which is White Cube in Bermondsey Street. Larry Bell had created a chemical cupboard in the 70’s and has developed a trademark style of pearlescent finishes used in geometric abstractions and also some beautiful figurative works on display here. In the adjacent gallery I take what I think is the last photo of the day, entranced by a stunning orange vase with minimal design imparted to its surface by the artist Jurgen Partenheimer. But running through Bermondsey Square Lucy Tomlins sculpture of Atlas fallen from the pedestal catches my eye and I find the right angle to show off her excellent stone work as the sun catches the bridge of its nose.

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I was stopped in my tracks by a policeman as the pavement had been shut just before these guards emerged.

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Mamma Andersson at Stephen Friedman Gallery with delicate paintings from nature.

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Jordan Wolfson at Sadie Coles HQ with striking and disturbing objects and films.

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Terry Adkins at Thomas Dane Gallery with evocative assemblages.

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Dr Lakra of Kate MacGarry with totemic figures based partly on popular culture.

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James Pyman of Maureen Paley at Peer. This is a drawn close up of a Beatles 45″ record sleeve.

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Larry Bell of White Cube with oxide surfaces made in a chemical cupboard.

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Jurgen Partenheimer at White Cube with loosely painted images and ceramics.

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Lucy Tomlins presents a sculpture of Atlas in Bermondsey Square.

Gallery run 5th May

This week’s run is the big one up to Highgate which I do when a new show is on at the Camden Arts Centre near Hampstead. There is just enough time to get round the 6+ hour circuit and with the sun shining, I set off. First stop is Brick Lane to pick up an apple strudel from Bagel Bake and build up the carbs. Then north to the Regent’s Canal…Islington….Finsbury Park….Parkland Walk. This is a stunning disused railway line with trees and graffiti. A mother panics briefly as her child has lagged behind, but quickly reappears thankfully and jogs on past me. A bicycle bell then rings behind me and as I step to one side a child thanks me as she shoots past catching up with her mum. Then onwards to ….Highgate….Hampstead Heath….two ponds and Louie’s and more carbs. Then the steep decline of Arkwright Road before arriving at the Camden Arts Centre. As I read the blurb on the hallway wall before going into the gallery, the assistant sneezes. “Bless you” seems a good thing to say. Going into the gallery, the name Paul Johnson seems familiar to me from the list of artists I have memorised from the galleries on my running circuits. Bruce Haines gallery possibly. This is confirmed by the BH gallery’s homepage, news splash. Sculptural shapes dominate the space, some carefully manufactured and others made from stacked detritus. Together they create a strong unified installation. In the gallery next door Greta Bratescu, who is still making work in her nineties, has a retrospective with some beautiful little drawings accompanying photographs and stitched fabric. Then it is south to Lisson Gallery. Anish Kapoor is showing new work including a concave mirror with the top half edited out using an unreflective layer. The effect is striking as the reflected objects move in relation to this stationary surface responding to the viewer’s own movements. Further down Bell Street at the other gallery, Djurberg and Berg are showing cartoon-like characters that have submitted to base desires and appear to be having a great time in their rectangular tableaux world. At Gagosian Gallery further south I enter the darkened setting of a Picasso show featuring bulls and minotaurs. An attendant shakes his head as I point to the phone and therefore no photo but a great show and some beautiful paintings. In Simon Lee Gallery there is the smell of fresh paint. The paintings have been covered in a silver surface which has then been raked off to reveal colourful underpainting. Then the final leg south to the building that jointly houses Greengrassi and Corvi-Mora. Downstairs Brian Calvin has made pop-art style portraits that are very expressive but beautifully simplified. Upstairs Giuseppe Gabellone has made a carefully crafted crate from bamboo and carved supporting units into which some organic shapes gently nestle. That is the ninth and last photo of the day.

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Parkland Walk is a disused railway route turned into a nature reserve.

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Hampstead Heath pond which I passed on the way back south from Highgate.

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Paul Johnson of Bruce Haines Mayfair showing at Camden Arts Centre with sculptures mingled with consumer detritus.

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Greta Bratescu at Camden Arts Centre. Drawings and thought provoking objects from the nonagenarian artist.

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Anish Kapoor of Lisson Gallery with beautifully crafted concave mirrors and other objects.

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Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg of Lisson Gallery with objects and cartoon-like figures doing whatever they want with no inhibitions.

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Garth Weisler at Simon Lee Gallery with layered paintings all presenting a pleasing silver grid line surface.

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Brian Calvin showing at Corvi Mora with simplified but expressive faces.

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Giuseppe Gabellone at Greengrassi with what looks like a flat-pack object, but presented on a crate that follows the organic outlines with some of its wooden structure.