Gallery run 3rd May

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Julian Opie at Alan Cristea Gallery with the ubiquitous vinyl support now raised to the level of very good, high art.

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Helen Frankenthaler at Victoria Miro.

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Richard Serra of Gagosian with thickly covered sheets of paper, revealing uncovered edges built into the composition.

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Matthias Bitzer of Almine Rech Gallery with faces, mediating mathematical forms and his characteristic alternating light and dark bands of paint.

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John Chamberlain of Gagosian with posthumous artwork of crushed car parts shown in conjunction with his estate.

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Urs Fischer of Sadie Coles HQ with an emerging nude figure.

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Eric N Mack at Simon Lee Gallery with multi-media images and spaces.

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Karen Kilimnik of Sprueth Magers with small, vivid paintings. The effect of her imagination is clear from the explosion and bullet traces that have been frozen for the single moment of the composition.

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Spot the front door with letter box and street number 69, drawn onto this shelter along with the more obvious added brickwork.

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Gallery run 9th March

The day begins with a jog up to White Cube Gallery in Mason’s Yard. Minjung Kim has used traditional Korean craft techniques to lay down layers of ultra-thin mulberry tree paper into rhythmic compositions. The paper has many uses outside of art in the artist’s native country including as window panes, due to its strength even in thin layers allowing light to diffuse between the various natural fibres. Downstairs, the artworks are vividly coloured. The paper has been dyed and applied in layers, with each piece burnt along one edge in a ritualistic gesture by the artist, one that we are told is accompanied by the smell of incense and a discipline of complete silence. The overall effect on the artworks is to create textured regions of intense colour reminiscent of flowers and natural vegetation.

In Sprueth and Magers just across Piccadilly, Anthony McCall is displaying a light installation. His use of a smoke-like mist in these light-works, allows the experience to be a 3D one rather than just the conveyance of an image from one flat medium, a digital Jpeg in a projector, to a screen on the far wall. Yes, the screen is still present as the final destination for the image, but the light wends its way through wisps of smoke, like in those cigarette-friendly cinemas of one’s youth, catching the little eddies of particles on the way, creating straight shimmering beams of light across the room. The image itself is simple enough, a single line that is curved into an ellipse, sometimes perfectly rounded, sometimes dislocated into a stepped join between end and beginning, but the transition between the two is captivating as the digital projector slowly cycles from the one to the other.

At Grosvenor Hill a few hundred metres further on, is the Gagosian Gallery. A burst of applause echoes from within the furthest room. Glenn Brown had given me a great tutorial twenty years ago and he is instantly recognisable as the same chap. With his address to a group of visitors in the background and my own sketchy knowledge of some of his main artistic concerns gleaned during that generous four hour tutorial, the work on display takes on an extra depth. The painting is ultra flat as many of us would be familiar with, whilst the waxy trails of paint from the historical canon he explores, are simulated with intricate brushwork. These labour intensive works used to net the artist just a couple of pounds an hour, a fact which he presented as a footnote to the precarious business of being an artist, during the aforementioned tutorial. It was interesting to hear from this address that whilst the paintings are still labour intensive, twenty years later, the intricate sketching style of some of the accompanying drawings is actually very quick to execute. Here, expertise of his medium appears to have allowed the artist to bend some of those time constraints of the beautiful painted works, and create an image that takes on the same rapid fluidity as those very lines he has imitated.

A second major gallery sits just round the corner and is the home of Almine Rech. Gunther Forg has several large photographs on display of variously imposing buildings. These are neo-classical in style and each is emblazoned with a title depicting the particular institution it houses. Whilst the titles such as GEOLOGIA and MUSICA are true to the original photographs, rendered in various block capitals in concrete or metal, and sitting above the grand entranceways, they nevertheless form a more extended and general index of knowledge, one which is familiar to us from library shelves and TV documentaries. Meanwhile, the buildings have a grand scale themselves, both in their photographic representation and in their actual physical size. Presented together along one wall, the images appear monumental and we get that rare sense of an illusionistic space that is actually bigger than the expansive gallery it has been presented in.

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Minjung Kim at White Cube who makes images from thin layers of mulberry tree paper.

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Tonico Lemos Auad of Stephen Friedman.

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Bjarne Melgaard of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac with recently finished work that fills the room with an aroma of linseed oil and paint from their drying surfaces.

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Sturtevant at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

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Anthony McCall at Sprueth Magers with slowly moving light projections, which uses a smoke-like substance in addition to a screen, to capture the image. The public are encouraged to move through the space and disrupt the image.

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Bosco Sodi of Blain Southern with a piece at Philips.

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Glenn Brown of Gagosian showing paintings where the brush marks of oil paint are simulated with a flat almost photographic surface.

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Gunther Forg of Almine Rech.

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Sculptures on Grosvenor Hill.

Gallery run 20th October

At Stephen Friedman Gallery Rivane Nauenschwander has produced an installation based on the Brazilian version of the board game known in the UK as risk. Flags represent the individual countries that the players would normally roll dice for in their pursuit of world domination. Long all-nighters with friends playing this game have imbued this artwork with a particular aura for me. Round the corner in Grafton Street Sprueth Magers have been doing a refit to their gallery. It looks very slick and the formerly creaking floorboards have now been lovingly preserved and firmly secured. Gary Hume has experimented with gloss paint on paper and the effect is very interesting. The painted surface takes on a mottled form due to the paper support yielding in some way to the gloss, yet it still looks as though it has the solidity of a worked and beaten metal support.

Further down Grafton Street at David Zwirner, Sherrie Levine is displaying work made by re-photographing some iconic images made in a 1940 project to document rural American life during The Great Depression. The display itself is striking with about 50 images hung in a perfect grid on the gallery wall. After visiting this hub of three closely placed galleries the next stop is Grosvenor Hill where Almine Rech and Gagosian have created a new hub comprising two expansive white spaces. The former gallery is showing Ernst Wilhelm Nay. The abstract paintings are reminiscent of seeds and foliage yet they are not restricted to this interpretation. This ambiguity lends them an additional magic which also complements their perfect balance of colour.

The word is out that Almine Rech and Gagosian have teamed up with the estate of Tom Wesselmann. Both galleries have produced identical press releases describing the artist’s shaped canvases that predominate in his series of bedroom paintings. Various bedside objects such as clocks and designer lamps interweave the limbs, feet and hands that the artist has sketched and then blown up into full size paintings. In the Gagosian on Davies Street a subtle black and white maquette of two painted boards placed in front of one another simulate the two ends of a bed. A large pair of elegant feet obscure the rest of a body whilst the lamp peers out from further behind. This completes the Mayfair region for today and now it is time to embark on the old favourite route along the Regent’s canal whereupon one arrives at the gas storage frameworks that offer a familiar landmark for Hackney.

Two of the new galleries exhibiting at Frieze this year are Campoli Presti and Hales gallery, whilst a new artist has been taken on at Herald Street, called Jessi Reaves. These additions offer the chance to see three new artists in this region of the city which is really the birthing place for new talent and with its exceptionally high rate of Turner Prize nominations is also sustainable in its own right with no need to interact with or be fostered by the Mayfair galleries to the west. Jessi Reaves is an American artist and hence of international importance, who makes sculptures from old furniture. The assistant in the gallery invites me to sit down on the rebuilt comfy chairs and this highlights the critical space that the work operates in, being utilitarian in some respects but stripped of any designer chic. Concluding this exploration after a quick stop at Beigal Bake is a visit to Hales gallery. Since its early days on Deptford High Street as a well respected gallery cafe, it has now become important internationally. Frank Bowling is one of seventeen artists on their books and he is showing colourful abstract paintings incorporating small objects offered up by friends, as well as cutting and sewing, which all contribute to a complex and interesting surface.

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Rivane Neuenschwander of Stephen Friedman Gallery with an installation based on the board game risk. Each flag represents a risk territory. On the back is written “war”. This would be “risk” in the Uk version.

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This paving slab on Grafton Street appears to be made up of two parts?

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The gallery is open again! Gary Hume of Sprueth Magers uses his trademark gloss to produce a mottled finish on paper in his new works.

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Sherrie Levine has rephotographed and appropriated American Depression photos of farmers by Russell Lee. What was once an attempt to boost morale when they were made in 1940 has now become historical document. Shown at David Zwirner gallery.

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Ernst Wilhelm Nay at Almine Rech Gallery. Beautiful images with natural motifs but in bright colours.

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Brice Marden of Gagosian using terre verte, green earth pigment, from several well known paint suppliers, has produced 9 canvases of varying greenness.

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Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian with Bedroom Paintings.

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Jessi Reaves of Herald Street with sculpted furniture, cut up and reassembled.

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Frank Bowling of Hales Gallery with abstract compositions on stitched canvases.

Gallery run 28th April

Peckham to Chalk Farm.

Having finished coffee and porridge, I can’t delay the run any further. I complete the toe stretches, grab a half beaker of water and set off towards London Bridge. I am outside Damian Hirst’s gallery on Newport Street where I have just returned an unexpected phone call, spotted as I had pulled the phone camera out of a sock I use to keep it wedged in my pocket, and then go in. Ashley Bickerton is showing assemblages that carry a strong flavour of tropical islands with sharks, coconuts hung in small clumps and diving gear that point back to their origins whilst catching the eye with bright flecks of colour. In addition wall mounted silver rock tableaux adorn the gallery walls.
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Ashley Bickerton at Newport Street Gallery with assemblages and vivid sea based objects.

Onwards now northwards across St James park where I dodge the selfies on the bridge and up Berkeley Street to Almine Rech. Here Japanese composer Ryoji Ikeda has created grids from the miniaturised digits of irrational numbers. The subsequent jpeg seems burdened by the weight of information of these numbers, whilst the surface of the artwork itself with the digits shrunk down to the size of dots, appears like a sort of black and white texture resembling the two-tone fabrics used to cover loudspeakers in the 70’s. Extraordinary work.
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Ryoji Ikeda at Almine Rech Gallery with artworks based on irrational numbers, that although simple in essence, require an infinite number of digits to represent them.

Along Maddox Street eastwards now towards Golden Square. Annette Messager is showing giant safety pins made in black chunky material hung from the ceiling of Marian Goodman Gallery. Other objects on a similar scale create a Lilliputian haberdashery. Elsewhere 50 prohibitions are displayed ironically opposite a 51st that prohibits prohibitions.
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Annette Messager of Marian Goodman Gallery with pictures of prohibitions.

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Sol Le Witt with a surprising installation upstairs in Marian Goodman Gallery.

Then across the square to Frith Street Gallery and I see a gallery worker come towards me. I give a polite hello but am aware of the slightly unusual interaction and then with glance round I see why, as I instantly recognise the tall slim frame of Cornelia Parker as she works the camera. It is her opening day and she has to pose for two photographers. I dutifully point my iPhone in the other direction concentrating on her artworks. She is showing video films of revellers in New York who have dressed in horror garb for a festival, but have expanded the remit to include Donald Trump wigs personifying the general anxiety of their class.
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Cornelia Parker of Frith Street Gallery with video work of street revellers in New York shortly before last year’s controversial election.

Nearby I see work at Pilar Corrias, one of my favourite galleries in the area, before heading north to Chalk Farm and the large classical facade of the Zabludowicz Collection.
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Urban Zellweger at Pilar Corrias.

A group of photographers are showing and like a trainspotter I relish the chance to catch the first Jeff Wall artwork in over a year. A light box illuminates a shabby river going into a tunnel and I am struck by its unkempt beauty like some of the canals I run along.
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Jeff Wall with a beautiful/ shabby river at the Zabludowicz Collection.

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Sara Cwynar at Zabludowicz Collection with photos of plastic based structures.

Then it is the long run south and today with time pressing I opt for the shortest route through London’s busy streets.
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Conrad Shawcross at the Crick Institute.

Gallery run 20th April

West End to Peckham.

Set off at 11.15, later than usual, in the cool spring sun and made my way to Burgess Park. On the way a new friend I had made a couple of weeks ago, a tabby cat, bounded across the road to greet me. Onwards to the River Thames via Kennington Tube Station and Newport Street where Damian Hirst’s gallery is located. That’s a show I will be saving up for next time. Then I cross Lambeth Bridge and reach St Jame’s Park. Across Piccadilly and I reach Pace Gallery which is showing works in stitched fabric by the American artist Richard Tuttle. His works look like they are falling apart but yet have an understated beauty. They are stitched fabrics with additional embroidery and colour patches. In the press release he writes that he is exploring the space between two and three dimensions.
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Richard Tuttle at Pace Gallery with artworks made from gently worked fabrics.

Then onto Almine Rech passing a film crew in Saville Row whom I overhear are searching for a location to film in the street. “How about the coolest gallery around”, I think to myself, though the chance of them stumbling upon it from the small flight of stairs that leads up from an unassuming entrance lobby seems unlikely. Ziad Antar has photographed public sculptures in a state of renovation with fabric protection completely covering them. In the gallery there are three-dimensional copies of these, creating an installation.
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Ziad Antar at Almine Rech with photos of covered statues. There are also 3D recreations of them presented alongside.

Today is Peckham day and it needed careful planning as the three galleries I am visiting there are late openers and I seldom have enough time to catch them before I have to go to work in the afternoon. Today is fine though. Running towards Peckham I see an extraordinary display of waves of yellow and white paint spread out along the main road next to the Oval cricket ground. Clearly an accident earlier in the day.
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Outside Oval Cricket Ground. Some paint spillage has been turned into street art by the car wheels.

My favourite baker Sophocles heats up a cheese borek for me and I grab a caramel slice knowing my pockets will fill up with change but also that the thick chocolate layer on top looks delicious. Eric Van Lieshaut is showing at The South London Gallery and the graceful charm of his video works puts across the personality of an artist who seems to make an adventure out of every day.
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Erik Van Lieshout of Maureen Paley at South London Gallery with a film featuring wild cats.

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Peckham building site.

Turn right towards Bellenden Road and I reach Arcadia Missa, a small gallery in a railway arch alongside car repair workshops.
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Hamishi Farah at Arcadia Missa with a portrait presented in an unusual way in the gallery.

I also check into Hannah Barry gallery where a delivery man is gently reprimanded for not using the right door, having used the public one that I had been standing at waiting to gain entry myself. Upstairs I recognise James Balmforth’s works using an oxygen lance to disturb and obliterate the surface of a steel block turning it into a seething mass of droplets preserved now for posterity in the gallery.
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James Balmforth with torched metal pieces.

Round the corner at Sunday Painter I beep myself in and see a beautiful pattern made by Leo Fitzmaurice out of junk mail leaflets carefully overlapped to conceal unwanted text.
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Leo Fitzmaurice of The Sunday Painter with a striking pattern made from junk advertising leaflets.

Meanwhile Samara Scott who makes sculptures out of liquids, crystals and folds of paper has installed a tray of her latest offering into the laminate flooring of the gallery. With photos of these two gallery artists complete I return to my home.
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Samara Scott at The Sunday Painter with a colourful liquid sculpture embedded into the gallery’s laminated floor.

Gallery run 17th March

River Thames to Hackney.

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Sam Durant at Sadie Coles HQ with protest slogans made beautiful in light boxes.

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Claudio Parmiggiani at Simon Lee Gallery with a soot print made from a fire in a specially set up library. These prints are on boards that were placed behind the shelves and books and then the soot wafted through.

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Roberto Matta at Robilant Voena with psychic landscapes and imagery that inspired the surrealists.

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Rodney Graham at Canada Gallery in Canada House. A survey of his work.

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Alicja Kwade at Whitechapel Gallery with celestial imagery using iPhones that rotate but continually use their orientation sensor to pick out the correct region of space in front of themselves to depict on the screen.

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Jaki Irvine at Frith Street Gallery with a sound and video installation. It has a song she wrote herself in a traditional Irish style. Also there is an historic account of the 1916 Easter rising in Southern Island. Though risking execution as traitors many women took part and the artist celebrates them here.

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Chris Succo at Almine Rech Gallery with paint and spray paint compositions from life.

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Georg Baselitz at Michael Werner showing work from 77-92 and continuing a relationship with the gallery that goes back to the early 60’s.

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Lisa Brice at Stephen Friedman Gallery showing blue drawing paintings of women in contemplative poses usually unaware of any external viewer.

Gallery run 16th February

Battersea, then east along the Thames.

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Stephen Sutcliffe at Simon Lee Gallery. This artist has also exhibited with Rob Tufnell.

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Vauxhall City Farm in the heart of London.

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John McCracken of Almine Rech Gallery with early plastic sculptures.

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Sonia Boyce at ICA, with multi screen installations of choreographed sound and movement.

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Jana Euler at Cabinet Gallery with images of objects that have somehow had their edges moved to the middle.

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Antoni Tapies of Timothy Taylor. Late works.

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Sherrie Levine of Simon Lee Gallery with cartoon imagery in artist made frame.

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DeWain Valentine of Almine Rech Gallery with translucent plastic sculptures in a group show.

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Dennis Oppenheim at Simon Lee Gallery with a video installation.