Gallery run 11th January

The run to Trinity Buoy Wharf has been an attractive activity ever since a speaker at an event there, Ian Sinclair, notable for walking round the entirety of the M25 and writing a book about it, declared that this wharf, with its location next to the River Lee, marked an historic site. From here the Saxons would check out the Vikings, whilst the latter would return their reconnaissance in this direction from across the barrier of the River Lee. It is right on this junction that this smaller tributary departs the Thames as it takes its waters from the North. With a bacon roll consumed, it is time to head to the first gallery of the day via a series of waterways.

The River Lee provides quite a formidable barrier to the foot traveller even today and unlike the fairly tortuous route of a few weeks ago which required a four lane highway as travelling companion to cross the river, today’s route wends its way north past the giant docks of Canary Wharf and onwards up the Regent’s Canal, escorting me to Hackney, and indeed, arriving fifteen minutes early at one of the midday openers. PeerUK is hosting Catherine Story from nearby Carl Freedman gallery and in its window are clues to the nature of the show. Clay maquettes are the artist’s starting point and these have then been transposed to canvas as a series of Surreal looking paintings populated by chunky figures with shear planes suggestive of both limbs and machinery. They are in fact reminiscent of Cubism and with the clay being a plastic medium, the artist appears to have worked out in advance, the various folds, bobbles, distortions and protrusions, distinctive of that style, before then transposing them to the two dimensional world of paint.

Herald Street Gallery has opened a new space in Museum Street just near the British Museum and Ida Ekblad is on show. Her rather stunning, bright paintings are actually made with plastic, a fact gleaned whilst reading her press release off the phone in those last few minutes of waiting outside the previous space. The plastic has been melted and smeared with a palette knife and yet none of its intensity of colour, whether it be derived from a previous state as coloured carrier bag or plastic household object, a specific origin that the artist doesn’t actually divulge, has been lost. Rather this detritus of daily life lives on in a strange afterlife as material of a painting, depicting the simple forms of pots that are themselves reminiscent of Greek urns, along with a whole host of other types of ornamentation ranging from flowers to simple coloured planes.

After seeing yet more good quality work up for auction at Phillips, with a couple of stand out pieces by Alex Israel and Barnaby Furnas, the next destination is south of the River at Vauxhall where Cabinet Gallery sits proudly in the middle of the aptly named, Pleasure Garden. Henrik Olesen’s musings on the nature of an object lead to an unusual, though confident display of tacked, nailed and propped materials that sit and hang against the various white-walled nooks that this gallery has made available with its slightly unusual polygon-styled floor plan. On many of the box-sections of brushed aluminium, which feature as rectangular frames or stand-alone girders, there are small inscriptions presented on clear plastic rather as one might find accompanying cooking instructions on a ready-meal, and these provide further philosophical reflections by the artist on object hood. Perhaps by giving us a general scene of peculiar part-objects to look at whilst openly questioning their validity, the artist is also trying to evoke an aspect of the human condition that has been put into words by the philosopher Heidegger, that since the Greek ages we have passed over the phenomena of the world, a general being, and instead focused our attention, to our detriment, on individual objects from which we try to extract meaning.

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Catherine Story of Carl Freedman Gallery on show at Peer UK.

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Ida Ekblad of Herald Street Gallery with vivid paintings made from melted plastic.

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Barnaby Furnas of Victoria Miro provides the statement piece for auction at Phillips.

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Alex Israel on auction at Phillips and adorning the front cover of the catalogue as befits a top ranking artist shown by Gagosian Gallery amongst others.

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Michael Pybus on auction at Phillips.

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Clever use of stickers on this bike.

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Henrik Olesen presents a show at Cabinet Gallery of what could perhaps be described as partial objects, many of which are casually stapled or pinned to the wall. The show itself seems to question what an object actually is.

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Simon Thompson of Cabinet Gallery, an artist I’ve wanted to visit for a while, has done prints of objects on rather fab rug-like objects with a hanging tag.

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Michael Armitage of White Cube showing at South London Gallery. An allegorical piece as a mother gives birth to a goat. Not a good thing! and dreams of a better life symbolised by washing machine top right, are back on hold.

Frieze week 5th October

It is Frieze week and the galleries are all together under the Regent’s Park awning. Consequently there is little opportunity for a run. However, earlier this week I am given the opportunity to run up to Alan Cristea Gallery and review the new Michael Craig Martin exhibition of prints. Prints are the speciality of this gallery. To one side of the gallery, the newest work uses an altogether new method of duplication using a laser cutting process to remove a thin black surface and reveal portions of the white under-layer. The bonus of this process is the durability of the surface and these works look striking without even needing a sheet of protecting glass.

Two days later it is my chance to visit Frieze. The stand out works include some great ones by Ivan Seal, Mary Reid Kelley, Djordje Ozbolt, Patricia Treib, Sheila Hicks and Daniel Richter. A recent addition to Michael Werner Gallery called Peter Saul catches my eye in particular. It seems popular too on the Instagram feed with the most likes and as I look at the image it leaves this intense desire to produce a work of my own in a similar style. This of course will never happen. The work is great though, being a sort of dismantled figure with recognisable foot and hand emerging from some central tank-like container.

Lastly, a neon piece by Andrea Bowers is flashing away at Andrew Kreps Gallery, and since this is Frieze week, New York lies only a few seconds from London. The concourse between the neighbouring cubicles replaces the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. A cardboard cowling surrounds the neon letters and frames their pithy slogan, but also lends to their slick form an impromptu feeling, due in part to bits of random image left on the cardboard surface. This is almost the end of Frieze experience for me, but the same evening there is a bonus of seeing a talk by the Slade professor Andrew Stahl. A mutual friend has invited us to a rather exotic venue in Mayfair, home of the Woman’s University Club, and the evening assumes a slower and more relaxed rhythm.

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Michael Craig Martin at Alan Cristea Gallery with laser cut plastic as a medium for his new drawings.

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Sheila Hicks of Alison Jacques Gallery at Frieze 2017.

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Mary Reid Kelley of Pilar Corrias at Frieze 2017. Images and props from a recent film are artworks in themselves.

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Ivan Seal of Carl Freedman Gallery at Frieze 2017.

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Djordje Ozbolt with Herald Street at Frieze 2017.

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Patricia Treib of Kate Macgarry at Frieze 2017.

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Peter Saul of Michael Werner at Frieze 2017.

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Daniel Richter with Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac at Frieze 2017.

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Andrea Bowers at Andrew Kreps Gallery.

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 21st July

To get to Lisson Gallery, I jog along the green corridor of St Jame’s Park, Green Park and Hyde Park before cutting through the Paddington Basin and finally taking the underpass under the busy A40 and Edgeware Road. Lisson Gallery is hosting a group show themed around Chardin and in true Lisson spirit, the artworks are decidedly minimal as though the artists know there is nothing to be gained in trying to outdo the old master’s realistic rendering of light. The artworks are good though and include a great piece by Audrey Barker that looks like the palette of colours in an oversized make-up box. In the gallery’s other building, the central room has been filled with razor wire. Santiago Sierra creates spaces that are reminiscent of borders and boundaries to try to make us reflect on the effect of separation and the extreme measures sometimes used to enforce it. The grid pattern of the razor wire is actually remarkable on account of its regularity, allowing distinct shapes and patterns to be picked out from different viewpoints.

The next destination is Camden Arts Centre on the outskirts of Hampstead. Daniel Richter is showing a retrospective of his painting that includes figurative and abstract works. One of the latter works stands out as stunning having an enormous quantity of elements and layers to it. Meanwhile in an adjacent room a second artist, Jennifer Tee has made juxtapositions of woven fabrics and plastic objects that seem to be colour-matched and produce a strong overall effect of unity.

Jogging up to Highgate, a number of shrines come into view occupying a small section of tree-lined grassland cordoned off from the main village green. There are candles, flags and photographs and it quickly becomes clear that these are dedicated to George Michael. But there is also an intensity to the tributes suggesting that he really did die before his time.

After several more miles of green space, albeit with a dusty stretch through Angel, Wharf road plays host to the next gallery, Parasol Space. Vibrant work by Monique Frydman is on show. Close by, Stuart Shave Modern Art is showing the work of gallery artist Katy Moran. She has incorporated great brushstrokes into her paintings that seem to be made up of different colours, as though she loaded up the width of her brush with a selection of different colours. Then having been passed across the surface, the resulting strokes have brought these colours to life as coloured streaks which remain differentiated from their neighbours.

Finally Carl Freedman gallery is showing Nel Aerts. She has produced sublime cartoon-like paintings which portray the artist herself experiencing a period of slight isolation during a residency she was doing at one of Van Goch’s former dwellings. The gallery manager sneezes at the front desk which is out of sight and in that split second when I’m wondering whether to acknowledge it, he suddenly remembers that the gallery lights have been switched off and kindly rushes to put them on. The colourful paintings acquire an even greater intensity and new details appear.

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Audrey Barker at Lisson Gallery with a fab palette of colours in an exhibition celebrating Chardin.

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Santiago Sierra of Lisson Gallery with a no-go space full of razor wire.

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Daniel Richter at Camden Arts Centre, with a retrospective of his paintings including this great abstract piece.

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Jennifer Tee at Camden Arts Centre with a great, colourful installation.

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George Michael shrines around trees on the way up to Highgate village from Hampstead.

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Monique Frydman at Parasol Unit with great abstract pastels built up from rubbings and a vocabulary of repeated marks.

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Katy Moran of Stuart Shave Modern Art with great multi-coloured brush strokes.

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Fiona Ackerman at Beers London.

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Nel Aerts of Carl Freedman with paintings and fabric cartoon-like figures, mainly the artist herself, inspired by a residency in a former home to Van Gogh.

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.

Gallery run 5th April

Regent’s Canal from Hackney.

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John McAllister of Carl Freedman Gallery with negative-like natural imagery.

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On Brick Lane.

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Maeve Brennan at Chisenhale Gallery with a documentary film following 3 characters who assemble or care for discarded or disintegrated objects in Lebanon. Here the car restorer in a scrapyard.

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Richard Tuttle of Stuart Shave Modern Art with latest of almost 200 solo shows.

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Secundino Hernandez of Victoria Miro with a giant palette piece.

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Elizabeth McAlpine of Laura Bartlett Gallery showing work inspired by film’s materiality. A 100 minute movie film stacked up in individual frames and presented as vertical columns totalling about 15metres.

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Elger Esser at Parasol Unit with dreamlike photos from a large format camera.

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Julien Tiberi at Parasol Unit with crowding stone figures.

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Brick Lane bicycle.

Gallery run 16th February

River Lea to Hackney.

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Do Ho Suh of Victoria Miro with a fabric copy of interior spaces.

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Tschabalala Self at Parasol Unit with distinctive figures.

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Nathaniel Rackowe at Parasol Unit with an illuminated and brightly coloured shed interior contrasted to a classic black exterior.

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Sebastian Neeb at Beers London with gilded ceramics in a group show.

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Invader in Hackney

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Sebastian Stohrer of Carl Freedman Gallery showing ceramic sculptures based on surreal forest-like vegetation.

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Elizabeth Magill of Wilkinson Gallery in a show featuring landscapes.

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Simon Dybbroe Moller of Laura Bartlett Gallery with an unlikely but recognisable alteration to the colour of lettuce leaves.

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Anj Smith at Wilkinson Gallery in a group show with some of the gallery artists.

Gallery run 25th November

Regent’s Canal to Hackney and Old St.

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Patricia Treib at Kate MacGarry with delicate paintings using repeated motifs.

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Matthew Darbyshire at Herald Street with images of his partner and muse made from extruded clay tubing bent to the contours of the figure.

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Anselm Kiefer at White Cube with vitrines and sculptures using lead sheet and the iconic sunflower.

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Goshka Macuga at Kate MacGarry. The pipes symbolise exchanges of ideas.

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Thierry Noir

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Alex Hartley at Victoria Miro.

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Bojan Sarcevic at Stuart Shave Modern Art.

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Fergal Stapleton at Carl Freedman Gallery with lit objects against dark backgrounds.

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Joachim Schmid at Hollybush Gardens showing a series of Brazilian football pitches with irregular dimensions due to encroaching roads and houses. Aerial photograph.

Gallery run 16th September

This week Thames and up to Hackney. Then Regent’s Canal to Limehouse.

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Samson Kambalu at Kate MacGarry with an exhibition of situationist documents rephotographed in the Yale College Library. The originals had been controversially sold to the institution in an episode that embroiled their former owner Gianfranco Sanguinetti in criticism and lawsuits along with the present artist.

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South Bank London skateboard and bike performance space.

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Thilo Heinzmann at Carl Freedman Gallery with bright pigmented gestures on aluminium sheets that are highly resistant to the cuts that have been made to them.

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Olivia Plender at Maureen Paley reinterpreting the causal sequences of our historical narratives. Tapestry called Brittania receiving her newest institution. These are where the artist sees much narrative thread-making happening.

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Lynette Yiadom Boakye at Corvi Mora with individuals in contemplative situations.

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Ik Joong Kang Floating Dreams on the River Thames. Having seen him the previous day in discussion at 5×15 Trinity Buoy Wharf, I knew he instigated and collected thousands of drawings from children. These are placed in large constructions on rivers usually which he sees as connectors not barriers.

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Paolo Gioli at Wilkinson Gallery. It’s a camera! This show archives the three basic cameras used by the artist. Who needs a lens when a hole will do? As for a film feed, why not just give it a tug? On show mainly are the resulting experimental films and screen prints.

358Gretchen Faust at Greengrassi with natural forms and cultural artefacts intermixed. This gold leaf piece in Autumn.

359Richard Serra in the City.

Gallery run 29th June

Lambeth Bridge, Tate Britain, then west to RCA show 2016. North over Battersea bridge, Hyde Park and into the Serpentine Pavilion. Pizza in Goodge Street. East to Angel and along the Regent’s canal then south to Bloomberg Space. North to Carl Friedman then onto Herald Street. Finally to opening at Vilma Gold and then back south.
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Jim Isermann of Corvi Mora at Bloomberg Space. Vinyl wall patterns and interacting objects.

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Paula Linke Sunrise at Royal College of Art show 2016. Great placement by the sinks creates doubt!

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Brian Griffiths at Vilma Gold. Checkered motif and cut up billboards gives a new take to previous tarpaulin works.

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Wolfgang Tillmans at Maureen Paley.

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Serpentine Pavilion.

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Michael Stevenson at Carl Freedman. Flight simulator machine replicas take us on flight journeys and weave in a cultural narrative.

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Pablo Bronstein of Herald Street at Tate Britain. Dancers perform against a classical setting of theatre backdrop and neoclassical colonnades.

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David Schroeter The Seven Stones at Royal College of Art show 2016.

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Nick Relf at Herald Street.