Gallery run 28th September

Having been invited to the lunchtime press opening at Ordovas gallery, the first stop today is at a sports shop for new trainers. A couple of invites came through in the last week and it would be nice to look smart. At the gallery an installation of cacti by luxury Italian furniture company Gufram has been set up. Around the walls is situated pop art and an Andy Warhol piece seems to fit very well into the cartoon-like space created by the cacti.

Across the street, which is Savile Row, stands the two Hauser and Wirth galleries. To the left is an installation by Marcel Broodthaers. Palms, a luxury product back in the 70’s, stand alongside some intentionally tired-looking museum display cases. This creates a pastiche of the traditional museum.

In the right hand gallery are paintings by Jack Whitten who has applied a variety of meshes and raking tools to create highly complex and varied painted surfaces. Then it is south to White Cube where America’s pop art tradition has been brought into a critical discourse by the varied artworks on display. Christoher Wool’s Riot slogan and David Hammon’s fly zippers trapped in two jars have a delightful lightness of touch. Meanwhile in this show Bruce Nauman has a neon piece depicting two people poking the other in the eye.

Further down Duke Street St. James’, Thomas Dane Gallery is playing host to Kelley Walker. This influential artist has taken branded objects, such as those by Calvin Klein, and turned them into exotic artworks. This is the first day of the show and a small group including possibly the owner are discussing the works in the gallery.

Then it is time to head south and the arrival in Kennington at Greengrassi and Corvi Mora allows me to visit the two artists being shown by these twinned galleries. The assistants at the front desk greet me and check the gallery lights are on. Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen has developed interesting narratives from seemingly mundane objects. A tree stump has had a set of processes applied to it as though the artist were following an algorithm, but the effect is beautifully poetic and though his objects on display are small, they seem to fill the gallery with their presence. Upstairs it is the turn of Greengrassi to exhibit in the smaller space. Stefano Arienti appears to be motivated by the giants of art history spawning a set of drawings and photocopies that reference the works of Bosch and El Greco.

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Andy Warhol presented in an imaginative installation, using fabricated cacti designed in the early 70’s by Gufram. On display at Ordovas.

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Marcel Broodthaers at Hauser and Wirth with an installation based deliberately on an old-fashioned museum style.

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Jack Whitten at Hauser and Wirth with abstract paintings.

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Christopher Wool at White Cube.

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David Hammons of White Cube in a witty piece with fly zippers trapped in jars.

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Bruce Nauman at White Cube.

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Kelley Walker of Thomas Dane Gallery has turned advertising images into artworks.

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Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen of Corvi Mora with processed objects. This tree stump was left after the tree collapsed. Then it was dug up, the roots burned and finally the stump was filled in with the resulting ashes.

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Stefano Arienti of Greengrassi with delicate drawings and a few photocopies.

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Gallery run 14th September

The day starts with a diversion to Clapham Junction. My partner is on a business trip abroad and has forgotten her phone. Having made the rendezvous and said a second farewell, it is only a short distance to Chelsea College. The college is located near Tate Britain and is hosting an MA fine art student show, the last of the season. Two painters on display are of particular note. Naoya Inose has produced fantastical landscapes incorporating architectural structures with enormous walls, bathed in the glow of a low sun which has simultaneously illuminated vast ranges of clouds. In contrast Mikolaos Panagiotopoulos has created a much more intimate space populated with variously wrought figures that are lifelike though suggesting in places a more cartoon-like idiom.

Next door the Tate has a grand retrospective of Rachel Whiteread and although it is a pay show, a large display has been installed in the Duveen Galleries, the enormous central space reserved primarily for sculpture. The pastel lozenges, which the sculptor has cast from coloured resin, bare the imprints of legs and chair bottoms and suggest that these are solid embodiments of the empty spaces beneath seats. A moment of reflection on the nature of chairs follows before noticing too, the glow of light that is trapped and preserved in the resin forms, the source being the sun of course, which is wending its way round the skylights above the gallery.

Close by in this central space, Lynda Benglis has produced what looks like a pile of molten metal cast into a generic corner. This pile finds its particular fit amongst the London stone of Tate Britain flanked by occasional classical columns.

Then it is a short jog through St James’ Park to Pace Gallery where Jean Debuffet’s late collage works are on display from a private collection. They demonstrate a striking use of juxtaposition as hundreds of drawings appear to have sought each other out as though by a natural force and collected into several perfectly ordered groups. Each framed cluster is rich in narrative through its varied fragments, but yet is unified through similarities of colour, theme and other parameters far too subtle to even put into words.

Finally at Sadie Coles HQ, TJ Wilcox has produced three films using an interview style done with great sensitivity. The restauranteur Fergus Henderson describes the joys of food with engaging anecdotes and slowly one becomes aware too, through the direct and honest replies, about the interviewee’s illness and treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Though the speech is sometimes hard to follow, necessitating subtitles, the interview is full of life. I stand there for a full twenty minutes simply enjoying the story, the images and the slow revelation of someone’s fascinating life.

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Naoya Inose at Chelsea MA Fine Art, with great landscapes.

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Mikolaos Panagiotopoulos at Chelsea MA Fine Art with elegantly combined images of figures.

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Rachel Whiteread of Gagosian Gallery on show at Tate Britain.

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Lynda Benglis of Thomas Dane Gallery with a piece on show at Tate Britain.

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Michael Fullerton of Carl Freedman Gallery with a portrait of John Peel in Tate Britain.

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Jean Dubuffet at Pace London with images built up from drawings collages onto the canvas.

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Lucy McKenzie and Paulina Olowska with a striking piece up for auction.

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Danh Vo of Marian Goodman Gallery with a piece up for auction.

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TJ Wilcox at Sadie Coles HQ interviewing charismatic restaurateur Fergus Henderson. There was too much salt in a friend’s batch of cucumber soup.

Gallery run 8th September

Today is wet and with the forecast suggesting continuous rain all day apart from a two hour window in the late morning, it is fortunate that all the galleries lie close together in the West End. The Photographer’s Museum is free before 12 and this morning slot also fits well with the gap in clouds overhead. Gregory Crewdson is showing photographs in which a small town and surrounding forrest have played host to several tableaux created by the artist and his team of assistants. Human figures are captured in the images perfectly lit behind windows or amongst landscapes. The effect is to reveal simultaneously both the details of a facial feature and those of a receding landscape. Technically this probably means an astonishingly deep depth of field and what the blurb described as a film crew whose size is normally associated with a movie.

Having marvelled at these works the next destination is Pilar Corrias Gallery. Tshcabalala Self has themed her first show here around the Bodega, the US equivalent of the corner shop. Lots of bottles of pop line the shelves. They seem to stand as a sort of cypher for the artist’s own memories of these shops. In addition to paint, the images use collage and stitched fabric. Even the gallery itself plays a role in the artwork. Three neon signs hang in the window and anti-theft mirrors are installed in each corner of the gallery, like the type the shop keeper glances up at from behind the till.

The rain has now started and after arriving at David Zwirner Gallery it is necessary to dry off in a porch opposite for a few minutes to remove any obvious signs of a soaking. Downstairs Lucas Arruda has displayed delicate landscapes and upstairs Suzan Frecon is displaying the studies for large abstract paintings she would go on to produce, though they themselves are not on display here.

Finally there are two further excursions from under the rain protection of overhanging facades. First at Simon Lee Gallery, Jeff Elrod has exhibited paintings composed chiefly of spray paint. The effect is to create an abstract surface and is exemplified by a fantastic large scale work upstairs that resists any attempt for the eyes to focus upon it. In that sense the painting offers an experience to the viewer that is almost physical. The last excursion, which is to Thomas Dane Gallery reveals an interesting twist to the standard summer group show format. Here the works are given 9 hours of individual air time in the empty gallery before returning to the packing cases, which themselves are all on display. Eventually, though, a sort of climax is scheduled to take place wherein all the individually displayed works will go up in the gallery at the same time. As the curator explains, this should have an interesting effect as each piece re-appropriates its piece of wall in a packed display, perhaps displacing others sideways in the process.

Now with the weather unexpectedly clearing up and only a short distance covered up to this point, I head west to build up the miles and attempt to convert these fragmented visits to the galleries into something more resembling an actual gallery run.

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Spot the loo roll!
Gregory Crewdson at The Photographers Gallery with a body of work depicting life in an American town and surrounding forrest. The photos are carefully staged tableaux.

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Tschabalala Self of Pilar Corrias with paintings of a type of corner shop called a #Bodega. Spot the anti theft mirror you would find in the corner shop.

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Hernan Bas at Victoria Miro Gallery with paintings of revellers and rebels in Cambridge.

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Mark Hagen uses a gloss white surface on a canvas-like support in this composition shown at Sotheby’s St George St.

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Aaron Young at Sotheby’s.

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Lucas Arruda at David Zwirner with delicate landscape. They have immaculate matt surfaces, revealed by the complete lack of glare when photographed.

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Suzan Frecon at David Zwirner with delicate studies for larger abstract pieces on show in New York.

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Jeff Elrod of Simon Lee Gallery with paintings using spray paint.

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Lari Pittman at Thomas Dane Gallery waiting to be displayed. The gallery displays each work for just 9 hours in this group show. Later on in September all the works go on display together.