Gallery run 29th June

Today is the RCA degree show in Wandsworth and with a midday opening time, the run will start slightly later and will incorporate a zigzag to the bacon sandwich van parked outside Wandsworth’s recycling depot. The woman frying the bacon is quite chatty and says she has been up working since 6am, whilst in turn I tell her I have come along the Thames from Peckham on a gallery run.

At the degree show, two adjacent rooms stand out as exceptional containing respectively the work of MA sculpture student Rosie Reed and MA painting student Feline Minne. The work by the the sculptor has a sense of abandon to it. A stack of pots and brushes are covered in paint whilst alongside stand three towers containing yet more paint-covered pots. They resemble those organic chimneys found above termite nests to provide ventilation for the colony. Clearly there are formal principles behind the work but there is also a sort of mimesis that one finds sometimes in art whereby the very thing that gives rise to anxiety, namely dirty brushes and pots, is thrust into the artwork itself and becomes its subject. Meanwhile the paintings in the adjacent room maintain this sense of freedom using loosely applied paint which somehow has a chunkiness to it despite its application in thin drippy layers.

Further east along the Thames, having doubled back almost the entire route, is Cabinet gallery set amongst its fantastic location of Vauxhall zoo. Inside, the artworks of Gillian Carnegie are no less alive than the goats that are roaming outside. The paintings somehow retain one vital ingredient that is lost to the poorer pretenders of her craft of still life. This ingredient is time, and not just the time of execution which looks considerable, but rather the time embodied in hundreds of fleeting glimpses captured in the single image. Much of this is down to her treatment of light which marks each glimpse with its own stamp of authenticity.

Further into town, another captivating painter is showing at Sadie Coles HQ in Davies Street. I analyse how Nicola Tyson has skilfully blown up her original sketches to produce vibrant large-scale images which maintain the freshness of the absent original. This is partly achieved by brushwork that applies blocks of colour in single swipes thereby exhibiting a constant element of risk. For me on the other hand, tiredness is starting to kick in now. My legs still hurt slightly from the mammoth run last week. Nevertheless I get myself across Regent’s Street to the little oasis of Golden Square where Marian Goodman Gallery is displaying two major artists, one established from the 60’s and the other relatively new.

Downstairs Giovanni Anselmo, the established practitioner of art povera, has secured marble blocks on to the wall. Unlike the blocks on the floor which have been cut beautifully by a band saw and then worked on further with a drill, these appear to be hewn much more crudely and naturally. Upstairs, the artist Adrian Villar Rojas has created a stunning sculpture. It is basically the legs of the famous statue of David set in a fantastic marble-floored auditorium but containing on its plinth along with the well known tree stump that supports David’s right leg, two playfully rendered kittens that appear to be kissing. Photos secured and art feasted upon, it is time now to head off home.

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Invader on Lambeth High Street.

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Rosie Reed at RCA Graduate Exhibition with painted brushes pots and objects.

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Feline Minne at RCA Graduate Exhibition with great paintings.

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Gillian Carnegie of Cabinet Gallery with beautifully depicted flowers and leaves.

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Ryuji Tanaka at Simon Lee Gallery. The paintings have a powerful material quality.

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Nicola Tyson of Sadie Coles HQ with beautifully vibrant paintings.

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Gabriel Kuri of Sadie Coles HQ has created an installation incorporating these standard steel cubes. Each has circular inserts containing different small objects. Here, money.

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Giovanni Anselmo of Marian Goodman Gallery with dramatically positioned rocks.

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Adrian Villar Rojas of Marian Goodman Gallery with the bottom part of David and some kissing kittens.

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Gallery run 23rd June

Today’s run is about 30 miles taking a large loop out to Chiswick, where my friend Suzanne from our ACME studios is showing. After looking at her works, which are studies of Brixton market, I head north to Acton and then east along the Grand Union Canal. As there are no galleries here I visit some places I have worked in, though of no relevance to Gallery Runner.

Eventually I arrive at Hyde Park and see the beautiful new pavilion by Diebedo Francis Kere. It looks like a chieftain’s palace with slatted roof and stained block-wood sides whilst being structured around an immaculate white metal frame that gives it further credentials as a piece of cutting edge architecture. Then I head on to the Royal Academy. After having photographed a couple of great works by Danny Rolph and Frank Stella, that I remember from my previous visit last week, I note the number of my painting and check the front sales desk to see if it has a red dot next to it yet. No, is the answer to that one.

Round the back of the RA on Old Burlington Street is Stephen Friedman Gallery. It has been influential in this year’s RA Summer Exhibition because of the contributions from its own artist, Yinka Shonibare, both by his curating and from his artworks there. In Stephen Friedman Gallery itself there is an unlikely but fascinating exhibition of material-based artworks that explore stretched canvas through a multitude of distortions and interventions that have been enacted upon it by sixteen artists.

Finally today I check out the RA School’s degree show. Work by Josephine Baker-Heaslip catches my eye due to great patterns she has created with stacked bricks whilst containing them in their entirety within wooden cut-out structures that hold the various brick forms in place. The bricks themselves have been painted on some of their faces with earthy but bright colours and make lovely artworks. After a quick half pint and the time now seven and a half hours past my departure time this morning, a marathon already achieved, there is a last hour remaining for the return home.

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Suzanne Baker exhibiting images made on location in Brixton Market.

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Diebedo Francis Kere Serpentine Pavillion with a beautiful mix of materials.

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Danny Rolph at RA Summer Show 2017 using a classic building material to great aesthetic effect.

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Frank Stella of Spruth Magers Gallery exhibiting at RA Summer Show 2017.

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Channing Hansen at Stephen Friedman Gallery using knitting to create coloured forms stretched across frames.

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Gunther Uecker at Stephen Friedman Gallery using nails to great effect.

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Zilia Sanchez at Stephen Friedman Gallery using canvas stretched across simple objects to create a beautiful simple piece.

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Zsofi Margit at RA Schools Show 2017 using painted MDF to create the illusion of reflecting glass.

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Josephine Baker Heaslip at RA Schools Show 2017 using painted bricks to great effect.

Gallery run 14th June

Today is scheduled to be hot at 27 degrees and suncream and a sports cap are necessary to protect against about 4 hours of direct sun. I head north west towards the Lisson Gallery using the most picturesque route available out of Peckham through a succession of small parks and across Lambeth Bridge. In gallery 1 Jorinde Voigt has beautiful drawings on display and the blurb explains that they are time based depictions of objects changing their appearances over time. We learn the artist was a cellist and of the possible connections between these drawings and musical scores. Meanwhile on close inspection the application of spray paint is immaculate and stands in contrast to the urgently scrawled text made as though by the hand of an experimental scientist. In gallery 2 Joyce Pensato has produced large paintings based on cartoon imagery ranging from Mickey Mouse to Batman’s mask. The application of paint is frantic and disorientating with hundreds of drips, scourings and a loose style more reminiscent of Abstract Expressionism than of Pop.

Then there is a short journey south to Michael Werner Gallery. The receptionist who always welcomes me is talking on the phone in Spanish, but still breaks off to give me a nod, and I make my way upstairs into the gallery. Marcus Lupertz is a geologist, we discover, and immediately the loosely rendered images take on a new dimension as though depicting living rock. A volcano bubbles away in one picture, at least to my imagination, but looks small and evokes no sublime terror but rather appears more domestic like a hot cauldron. Perhaps this is the effect of the artist’s own familiarity with his subject matter. David Zwirner is next a few streets away and here Lisa Yuskavage has painted large scale nudes, men and women in pairs, which can be linked to small jewel like studies shown upstairs. I admire her ability to work from studies in this way without losing any of the vitality of the original. Nearby at Victoria Miro, Milton Avery has produced beautifully rendered landscapes and portraits. We are told in the press release that he was influential to Rothko. A buyer asks for a quote and I overhear a figure in excess of £100,000 for one of the works on paper. This is A list.

In the art colleges the student shows are continuing this week and it is the turn of the Slade MFA and PHD students to exhibit. A striking painting by Georgina Lowbridge depicts a man lying down amongst a pile of beautifully painted clutter. A young woman comes up and asks what I think of the paintings, and knowing they are hers I dutifully reply they are great, which is easy to say, in fact, because they are. After a great discussion about life at the Slade I mention that I had tried to see Florian Roithmayer’s work of cast clay on show in the observatory, a small circular building in the quad, to find out more about the PHD programme. In fact the building had been locked for lunchtime, though I didn’t mention this, but nevertheless had peered through the windows into the darkened space to his three mysterious sculptures. The most striking was a slab of clay, pinched and squeezed in a way, now quite familiar to abstract sculpture, but somehow there is excess here as though the slab has had a real going over.

Back south the monthly visit to the Greengrassi, Corvi Mora complex in Kennington offers ample rewards with Anne Ryan displaying cutouts in the larger of the two spaces whilst upstairs a bed with bright orange sheets lies tucked in the corner. Its placement next to the concrete floor slab of a defunct fireplace merged now into the smooth white wall of the gallery, reminds me of nights spent by the fire in a small squat nearby. But the bed has rich memories of its own as a press release depicts an old photo from the 70’s showing the sculpture in its original exhibition at New York’s 303 gallery.

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Jorinde Voigt of Lisson Gallery with intricate drawings using a style that’s almost scientific.

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Joyce Pensato of Lisson Gallery with great cartoon imagery.

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Markus Lupertz of Michael Werner Gallery with striking free brushwork in highly charged landscapes. As he was a geology graduate also, I fancy this to be a volcano but with unusual vantage point.

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Lisa Yuskavage at David Zwirner London with powerful figurative paintings.

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Milton Avery at Victoria Miro Gallery. This landscape has a beautiful use of colour including the delicately painted pale blue trees.

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Dominic Dispirito at Slade School of Fine Art with great spray painted artworks.

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Georgina Lowbridge completing her MFA at Slade School of Fine Art with three great paintings including this one. She told me she had sussed out using this clean and carefully limited palette of colours during the course and it certainly seems to work.

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Anne Ryan of Greengrassi with a new move away from her narrative paintings. The installation is made up of over 100 cut-out images.

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Rirkrit Tiravanija of Pilar Corrias exhibiting in a group show at Corvi Mora.
The artwork uses the space well and reminds me of a mis-spent gap year living in squats.

Opening RA Summer Show 5th June

Royal Academy Summer Show 2017 Varnishing Day

Varnishing day was traditionally an occasion when exhibiting artists could make last minute changes to their artworks before the show formally opened to the public. Now in the 21st century there is absolutely no touching of the artworks and instead it is a celebratory occasion. We can look around the crowded hall and see colleagues that we have encountered along artistic careers, perhaps often entirely different from the steep gradients to success that characterise the more illustrious exhibitors. I meet up with a friend from our studios in Peckham as she accompanies an older chap who she says seems to know almost everyone. He is one of the Academicians and greets me with a handshake before sharing some of the back story of the hanging. Of course it is fascinating and also a thrill to imagine my own piece woven into this narrative.

First impressions of each of the exhibition rooms is familiarity, thanks to some of the works on display. I see Yinka Shonibare’s beautiful sculpture with recognisable use of a globe for a head. And later I see the artist himself. With a sense of gratitude for being picked, I thank him for a tutorial he once gave me at Goldsmiths 20 years ago and he graciously acknowledges this. In another room are artworks by international megastars from the art world curated by Fiona Rae. George Condo’s and Anselm Keifer’s stand out. By these works is a lifting platform, though soon to be put away, highlighting the sense of fluidity of the hang and, indeed, a few pictures are still going up elsewhere.

I spend the next hour seeking out artworks to photograph with a phone camera and there is a sense of excitement each time I encounter a new piece familiar from previous trips to the commercial galleries featured in this blog. I see Tomoaki Suzuki’s beautifully hewn wood figures, shown previously around the floor of Corvi Mora gallery and elsewhere artworks by Gilbert and George and Conrad Shawcross are instantly recognisable. The accompanying artworks by the anonymous public are enhanced by these staples, though in turn they offer something precious and individual in exchange.

It is this reciprocal relationship that adds charm to the show, since any visitor knows that every anonymous artwork, including my own, is not only a physical product of an artist’s enduring spirit but also, perhaps, a rare moment for that artist to find a public audience as they follow their individual and unpredictable journey.

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Julian Sharples, me, at Summer Exhibition 2017 Royal Academy of Arts Varnishing Day. Psychic Space.

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Sean Scully of Timothy Taylor at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 Varnishing Day.

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Fiona Rae of Timothy Taylor at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 in the room she created.

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Anselm Keifer of White Cube at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 Varnishing Day.

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George Condo at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017.

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Gilbert and George of White Cube at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 Varnishing Day.

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Rose Wiley at Summer Exhibition 2017 Royal Academy of Arts Varnishing Day.

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Mark Wallinger of Hauser and Wirth at Royal Academy of Arts Summer Exhibition 2017 Varnishing Day.

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Ana Mendieta of Alison Jacques Gallery used gunpowder in her small landscape artwork. From a trip earlier in the week, but stunning and wanted to post it.