Gallery run 23rd August

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Tracy Emin of White Cube with a delicate bird on pole sculpture. At Frieze Sculpture Park.

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Simon Periton of Sadie Coles HQ with a delicate cut-out made from painted metal sheet. At Frieze Sculpture Park.

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Conrad Shawcross of Victoria Miro Gallery with a labyrinth. At Frieze Sculpture Park.

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Rachel Feinstein of Gagosian Gallery with a florid sculpture set in Regent’s Park at the Frieze Sculpture Park.

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Virginia Overton of White Cube with fab artwork reminiscent of blue collar fabrication. At Frieze Sculpture Park.

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Bharti Kher of Hauser And Wirth at Frieze Sculpture Park.

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John Baldessari of Marian Goodman Gallery with a 6’7” penguin. At Frieze Sculpture Park.

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Kiki Smith has created a figure out of a fairy tale. At Frieze Sculpture Park.

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Elmgreen And Dragset of Galerie Perrotin at Frieze Sculpture Park.

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Gallery run 10th July

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Angela De La Cruz of Lisson Gallery with paintings and metal shutters pulled off their frames.

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Christopher Le Brun at Lisson Gallery with abstract paintings. Some have the paint applied straight from the tube which leaves pleading scratch marks from the nozzles.

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Edward Keinholz at Blain Southern with sculptures from found objects.

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Alex Hartley of Victoria Miro with two-layer paintings combining foliage and architecture.

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Pipilotti Rist at Hauser and Wirth. Trust me!

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Fischli and Weiss at Hauser Wirth with a giant vase.

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Alexander Calder at Ordovas with a black flower mobile.

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Cindy Sherman of Sprueth Magers with film star style self portraits. A hint of cleverly contrived faded glamour too.

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Lydia Okumura at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac with a retrospective. Made with painted wire mesh.

Gallery run 16th March

The day starts with a jog to Matt’s Gallery. The gallery is doing a sequence of short one week shows and with this fast turnover has quite an itinerary lined up. This week it is Mandy Ure, who I remember well from Goldsmiths. She had a great way of mixing random marks, from paint pouring and dripping, into purposeful compositions through subsequent blowing up and careful finishing with a paint brush. Her work today is reminiscent of the shapes under a microscope and her own purposeful action has become here a metaphor for the careful order maintained in the blob-like structures of cells.

A few hours later after seeing the works shown below I come to the last gallery of the day, Victoria Miro and see Jules de Balincourt. His paintings are from the imagination and a rather sublime one at that. Figures are dwarfed by a spectacular multi-coloured boulder. Though the image is physically small, it extends into the abyss of the viewer’s own imagination and stirs up a host of resident memories!

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Mandy Ure at Matt’s Gallery with small abstracts.

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Laura Gannon at Kate MacGarry with cut canvases painted with metallic pigments.

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Michael Dean of Herald Street.

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Amalia Pica of Herald Street showing a small cluster of castings of shell-like objects.

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Francesco Arena of Sprovieri Gallery with a performance stool. It can only be sat on by someone whose age is 33, the difference in age between artist and father. A death will cause this interval to change and that will impede on the required age for the stool-performer.

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Matthew Day Jackson of Hauser and Wirth with recreations of Dutch still life paintings made with DIY materials.

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Leon Kossoff at Ordovas.

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Lorna Simpson at Hauser and Wirth with delicate washes on screenprinted and newspaper images.

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Jules de Balincourt of Victoria Miro with vividly coloured landscapes populated by crowds of small figures.

Gallery run 1st December

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Sprovieri and BlainSouthern are amongst the latest venues to be checked out on this week’s run. The first on this list, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, is showing work by Arnulf Rainer, Lee Bul and Medardo Rosso, whose displays are in the various ornate rooms and hallway spaces that fill a classically styled building. Due to the precious nature of Medardo Rosso’s sculptures, a specially sealed room has been created. It has curtains on both its doorways and a heater that raises the temperature to considerably higher than the freezing day outside. Apart from this unexpected warmth, the sculptures themselves offer a real pleasure for the viewer. They actually appear to have emerged from chunks of matter bringing with them a strange life-force to the blocks of inanimate material from which they are cast.

At Sprovieri, the artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, who are enjoying a current major retrospective at the Tate, have three paintings on display. Each of these paintings explores the relations between the surface plane of a painting and its picture plane, in other words the physical surface of an image and the illusory perspectival space that lies just beneath it. This dual space of a painting was truly liberated 100 years ago with Russian Suprematism, we are told in the press release. To use an extended metaphor of my own, the angular forms of the new avant-guard movements managed to haul themselves out of the illusionistic world of landscape and still-life, to sit on the paintings’ surfaces, rather as the first amphibians, in fact, had found themselves liberated from water and free to roam land! In this particular show the artists have employed angular forms that are reminiscent of Suprematism but painted in muted pastel hues and beneath these shapes are various rural landscapes. This duality not only adds narrative interest, but also demonstrates as a fate accomplis, the simultaneous existence of the two different painterly spaces the artists were keen to depict.

At Blain Southern, a gallery my friend has recommended to visit, James White is displaying paintings of glasses and associated objects. Catching a glimpse of them through the window last week, they looked like black and white photographs but this week they are revealed as highly realistic monochrome paintings. Every cut in the crystal of various glasses unleashes a new cascade of white paint executed in small brushstrokes. Close up their materiality is clearly discernible but from afar they dissolve into an overall impression of light.

The rest of the run is dictated by the cold weather, since a dead phone (and need for mince pies) necessitates a jog to Hampstead, albeit through some lovely parkland, and then back again in search of Apple HQ and a new battery. The process of queuing for the item actually provides the necessary warmth to bring the phone back to life and to photograph some remaining artworks. At Hauser and Wirth, Jakub Julian Ziolkowski is displaying some vivid paintings, whilst at Raven Row, and with the battery still surviving, Gianfranco Barruchello has produced drawings that resemble mind maps. A container is made with a few pen strokes and encloses several pinkish spheres. From here a cartoonish figure starts to come to life, as though the imagination has bestowed upon these spheres the power to regenerate into a network of vital organs. Perhaps the artist has tapped into yet another type of space then, a third type in addition to the picture surface and illusionistic spaces previously described, a space where the artwork is a trigger of images without needing to provide all the details itself.

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Arnulf Rainer at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac with abstract works from the 50s and 60s.

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Medardo Rosso with early 20th century works at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

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Kehinde Wiley of Stephen Friedman Gallery with paintings of brave boat steerers adopting heroic poses from famous western paintings.

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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Sprovieri with compositions experimenting with relations between the image and picture planes.

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James White of Blain Southern with intricate painted monochromes featuring transparent materials in close-up often invoking narratives.

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Jakub Julian Ziolkowski of Hauser and Wirth with images by his invented alter-ego, who depicts nature as it is sensed rather than seen.

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Monika Sosnowska of Hauser and Wirth with sculptures from industrial materials, including steel reinforcement bars here.

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Luciano Fabro showing iconic works from the 60s at Simon Lee Gallery.

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Gianfranco Baruchello of Massimo De Carlo showing at RavenRow. Detailed drawings resemble mind maps.

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.

Gallery Run 6th August

Sculpture in the City 2017 is a trail of artworks in London’s square mile and is the destination for today’s run. With the sun shining I head towards Limehouse Basin before taking an eastwards loop that comprises the three links of the Limehouse Cut, the River Lee and finally the Hertford Union Canal. Having effectively done three sides of a square, the loop rejoins the Regent’s Canal and the waterway makes quick progress along its direct route towards Islington. It drops me off at Old Street and from here there is only a short distance to go before the beginning of the trail on the A10 near Tower 42.

Mark Wallinger’s sculpture of a thoroughbred horse stands sleekly in the lunchtime sun absorbing the rays through a dark bronze patina. A group of children stand by it and pose for a family snap. Just down the A10 is the next piece by Martin Creed. He has used plastic bags placed amongst the branches of a tree to create a colourful spectacle whilst copying the manner in which an individual bag might create an unfortunate eyesore, thereby allying this attractive artwork to its antithesis created by chance from the city’s litter.

Last year the route was V shaped and the apex of the V was Leadenhall market. This had provided an enchanting gateway to the blue chip buildings that cluster around the core of the City in homage to some of the world’s finest architects. This year the destination is the same but the numbering of the trail suggests a more prosaic progress along the trail with a simple left turn off the A10. The magic is quickly restored, though upon seeing the next two artworks lit by shafts of sunlight that have made their way through this towering core of buildings. Ryan Gander’s artwork continues the theme of an incidental object that has attached itself to a tree. Not a bag this time but a parachute. Alongside this are four blue tanks and when put together the narrative suggests perhaps a vertical descent of some vital supplies over a last few fictitious seconds before becoming embedded amongst the branches one is currently looking at. In contrast, Paul McCarthy’s work nearby uses none of the resident objects in the plaza to create its narrative but rather through its scale looks as though it has always been here. It consists of two giant figures that are almost as big as the trees populating the plaza. Characteristic of the artist, little nut-like protrusions give the figures a cartoonish quality.

The remaining artworks are an eclectic mix. Daniel Buren presents a classic four colour composition with accompanying black and white striped frame whilst Gary Webb has used the natural colours of exotic materials to create a delicious looking sculpture stacked up like a fruit sundae. A little further along the street Damian Hirst presents a colourful bronze anatomical figure of a man. Finally Karen Tang’s piece called “Synapse”, a large fibreglass construction comprising five or six yellow and green sausage-like elements, gets the biggest endorsement of the day from a group of kids who rush over to it saying “wow”!

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Regent’s Canal.

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Mark Wallinger of Hauser and Wirth, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Martin Creed of Hauser and Wirth, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Ryan Gander of Lisson Gallery, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Paul McCarthy of Hauser and Wirth, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Daniel Buren of Lisson Gallery, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Gary Webb of The Approach Gallery, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Damien Hirst, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Karen Tang, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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.