Gallery run 16th March

Mandy Ure at Matt’s Gallery with small abstracts.

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

Michael Dean of Herald Street.

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

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.

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

Leon Kossoff at Ordovas.

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

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


Gallery run 7th February

The Regent’s Canal highway describes a sort of subjective experience of running on the towpath between Hackney and Regent’s Park. Though not particularly fast in the physical sense the towpath seems quick in a kind of existential sense, namely that with several galleries dotted along its route a sensation of speed is produced by the sheer lack of things that need to be done or thought about during the journey. A few glances at boats, the occasional meandering daydream is all that separates one gallery on the canal from the next. Suddenly the finger is on the buzzer awaiting entry to Victoria Miro Gallery. Jorge Pardo, who is of Cuban American extraction and now living in Mexico, is showing wall-mounted structures that resemble beautifully coloured screens. They are painted, but not in a traditional sense, for the colour emerges from an interaction of minute speckles of paint which have either been created from abrasions into a surface of many layers or, and this seems the case here, have in fact been created completely intentionally by a programmed computer and application device. A thin hair’s-breadth groove around each speckle provides the clue that the speckles themselves have been applied with deliberate intent. On a larger scale, that is on the scale of the entire objects, we see rhythmic patterns running right across their surfaces. Waves and flow lines appear as the eye scans the intricately cut plastic and fibrous sheets. For the lamps this experience is enhanced further by the presence of the interior light source which provides a strong contrast between material and void. In addition this light source promotes a change of geometry in the object. Rather than being planar, as was the case with the wall mounted works, these lamp-like objects are radial. Intricately cut sheets of coloured plexi-glass fan out from the centre, like an elaborate array of coloured cooling fins, conveying their subtle glows to the object’s fragmented surface.

Back on the canal highway, Regent’s Park soon offers a route south to the West End. At Simon Lee Gallery, there is a display of the late works by Hans Hartung. Accompanying this display is a film that shows the artist in a wheel chair, since he is an old man, spraying and flicking paint across large expanses of canvas. Known for his gestural abstraction, the artist is now using a prosthetic device comprising a stick wand and spray nozzle. In the gallery we see the result and how the artist succeeds in his express intention of mimicking the forces of nature. Partly these forces reside within the paint itself causing the drops to cling to one another or else suddenly break free as though they were a shower of ejecting particles, but there is a deeper connection to nature too, manifest most clearly when the work has taken on more complex forms such as a spiral motif in one outstanding example. Here it is as though the artist has attuned himself to the various rhythms that define the universe itself allowing him to represent the more complex forces that create the various spinning and oscillating systems around us.

With Corvi Mora and Greengrassi galleries pairing up this month, several artists are on display in the main viewing space and it requires careful checking of the paperwork to determine which gallery is associated with which artist. Tatsuo Ikeda who as it turns out is with Greengrassi, though in previous years has also exhibited with the blue-chip giant Gagosian, has produced surreal drawings of figures sporting various limbs for locomotion, as well as prosthetic cones. The artwork is very proficient, which allows us not only to enjoy the images, but also to engage with the various distortions of nature without rejecting them on the grounds of incredulity. The images are therefore accepted on account of their near photographic-like appearance. As a passing observation it seems that the two dominant features of these works, namely their Surrealism and their Realism of execution, turn out to be unlikely bedfellows, despite the apparent contradiction of these two terms.

Jorge Pardo at Victoria Miro with laser cut plastic in exotic lamps that nevertheless look very traditional.

Pablo Bronstein of Herald Street Gallery showing drawings at RIBA of pseudo-Georgian architecture.

Matt Saunders of Marian Goodman Gallery.

Hans Hartung at Simon Lee Gallery with paintings from late in his career made using spray nozzles and paint-covered olive branches that he could manipulate from his wheelchair.

Estate near Greengrassi and Corv iMora galleries looking resplendent against a blue sky this afternoon.

Tatsuo Ikeda at Greengrassi group show for Condo 2018.

Kye Christensen Knowles at Corvi Mora and Greengrassi group show as part of Condo 2018.

John Lindell at Corvi Mora for Condo 2018.

Sable E Smith at Greengrassi and Corvi Mora group show as part of Condo 2018.

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.

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

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

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

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.

Michael Pybus on auction at Phillips.

Clever use of stickers on this bike.

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.

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.

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.


Gallery run 15th December

Trinity Buoy Wharf lies in the crook of land between The Thames and the River Lee. Because of the two converging rivers, this area feels fairly isolated from nearby Canary Wharf and the Millenium Dome across the water to the south. It accommodates an artist community, as evidenced by the strange and beautiful sculptures that are scattered around, but it also enjoys a strong connection to the surrounding waters. A lightship is moored at one end of an open yard whilst opposite stands an assembly of crisscrossing shipping crates, populated by creative types who can observe their environment through circular porthole windows. After a bacon roll in Fatboy Diner the time has come to make an arching detour round the loops of the River Lee and across the top right of London’s map into Hackney.

The Approach gallery has drawings and paintings by Bill Lynch, who as we understand from the press release led a free-living existence, taking on decorating jobs to make ends meet, all the while exploring the intricacies of fluid mark-making, prevalent in the tradition of Japanese landscape drawing and calligraphy. A tree appears in one of the artist’s paintings and it is opening up its foliage with the energy of small coiled springs, a state of affairs depicted with tight, circular brush marks amongst the living network of dark twigs and branches.

At Maureen Paley, a neighbouring gallery in this East London cluster, Andrew Grassie has made paintings that rival even Vermeer in their precision and use of colour. They are barely bigger than postcards yet carry a wealth of detail. The white beams of an open roof space recede towards a vanishing point, whilst objects associated with a functioning studio, since this is the chosen subject matter of the series of seven paintings, appear as if by magic with minute flecks of coloured paint, all the while being contained within a flawless, photographic-like surface. A few doors away in Herald Street Gallery, a dinner plate sits on a plinth. Oliver Payne seems more interested in the various distractions that might divert us away from art rather than the many objects catalogued in the previous show that are intended to make us think of art-making itself. Indeed, it is a testament to the left-field nature of the present show that none of its objects conform to the canon outlined in the previous show, neither the plate of cold chicken and pasta sitting on the plinth nor the array of eight I-pads that, despite all their powerful processing capacity, have been requisitioned purely for the purpose of displaying a single image, something of course, which could have been done with a piece of back-lit cellophane, were the artist not interested in turning his critical eye on digital technology itself.

Finally, back south of the river, Gilbert and George have been having a giggle thinking up how the F-word can be inserted into short pithy slogans. As the eye scans across the alternate red and black fonts of F-word wallpaper a kind of rhythm emerges. The two artists switch between being the randy agents of various described acts outlined in block capitals on the one hand, to being puppeteers of the English language on the other. Familiar slogans become wilfully distorted as the artists introduce the necessary four letter insert. A game is being played, for which we know the rules, and which all the while is being powered by the free-flowing imaginations of G and G, revealing in the process a sort of inner portrait of the two artists.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Tate Modern with layered images.

Trinity Buoy Wharf.

Bill Lynch of The Approach Gallery with paintings on wood that appear to be inspired by the Japanese tradition of prints and calligraphy.

Jack Lavender of Approach Gallery with assembled rocks and taxi cards.

David Noonan of Stuart Shave Modern Art. The artist was there talking to friends about his work and it was great being able to eavesdrop!

Andrew Grassie of Maureen Paley with photorealistic paintings.

Oliver Payne of Herald Street with a new display format of wall-mounted iPads carrying a single image.

Florian Meisenberg of Kate MacGarry.

Gilbert and George at White Cube with rude words wall paper.


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.

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.

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

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.

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.

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

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

Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian with Bedroom Paintings.

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

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


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.

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

Sheila Hicks of Alison Jacques Gallery at Frieze 2017.

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

Ivan Seal of Carl Freedman Gallery at Frieze 2017.

Djordje Ozbolt with Herald Street at Frieze 2017.

Patricia Treib of Kate Macgarry at Frieze 2017.

Peter Saul of Michael Werner at Frieze 2017.

Daniel Richter with Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac at Frieze 2017.

Andrea Bowers at Andrew Kreps Gallery.


Gallery run 14th July

The annual Goldsmiths MA show is the first stop on today’s run. Spread across the old swimming baths and the stunning Ben Pimlott building with views across London, the show has a variety of interesting architectural back drops. These are matched in no small part by a great painting from Daniel Arcand displayed on the top floor of the Ben Pimlott building. The artwork has a Manga-like quality to it with excellent mark-making and a great economy of design.

From here, the quickest route to Victoria Park is through the Greenwich foot tunnel and then north along the Regent’s canal. The Approach Gallery is showing a retrospective of its artists as well as previous exhibitions spanning twenty years. Works by Rezi Van Lankveld and Gary Webb stand out in the group show, whilst in a side room there is a film of speeded-up highlights from the previous shows here from which I recognise in their younger years some of my former Goldsmiths colleagues.

Then after a stop at Wilkinson Gallery with some evocative work by the late Derek Jarman, Herald Street plays host to the next three shows. At Maureen Paley there are abstract sculptures depicting cubic volumes of mainly empty space, adorned with a few intriguing objects including books and carpet tiles. Tom Burr is a thought provoking artist and writer who is new to this gallery having transferred from Stuart Shave Modern Art. A few doors down at Laura Bartlett, a group show has lovely small pieces by Koak who depicts female figures in slightly unusual ways. The images seem to fulfil their remit of challenging the viewer’s gaze by showing the figures engaging only with each other and without any additional acknowledgement of the viewer.

At Herald Street Gallery there is a great installation by Klaus Weber. The gallery assistant warns me of the hazards of a temporary rickety floor and protruding cactuses. The planks spring up slightly across the joists, whilst the cactuses penetrate these planks through round holes. Meanwhile a policeman-figure is kneeling down, with head below floor level accessed through yet another circular hole. There is also a stack of coloured glass spheres raised up on a plinth that, we are told, represent a type of humanoid figure. This perhaps needs more explanation and comes from a story told in Plato’s symposium. Essentially these figures were described by the Greek philosopher as mythological beings that Zeus callously cut into two halves, bisecting them from top to bottom. As these half-beings entered into ancient history they then matched up to the anthropomorphic form we currently reside in. The truth of this myth seems to lie in its ability to articulate our constant psychological need to find our other missing halves.

After a quick lunch at Bagel bake, which seems to have had a cash injection as there is now a new air conditioning system and workmen replacing tiles, I stroll down to Kate MacGarry Gallery finishing off a last few bits of apple strudel. Inside there are works by four artists including Francis Uprichard. She has presented two gothic figures that resemble harlequins. They are smaller than life size, but have a powerful presence due partly to their positioning on plinths but also because of their excellently rendered faces imparting, not for the first time today, a challenge to the gaze of the viewer. With that now recorded and the Hackney galleries fully explored, there just remains a return back South to complete this week’s run.

Daniel Arcand at Goldsmiths MA Degree Show with a great fluent painting with drawn outlines.

Rezi Van Lankveld of The Approach with a lovely loosely rendered painting.

Gary Webb of The Approach with a colourful resin-based wall sculpture.

Derek Jarman of Wilkinson Gallery with a series of black paintings incorporating objects.

Gretchen Bender at Wilkinson Gallery with works that explore how images are propagated through our media.

Tom Burr of Maureen Paley.

Koak at Laura Bartlett Gallery with figurative paintings that have a strong drawing quality to them.

Klaus Weber of Herald Street with sculptures that depict a mythical human form made from globes that Plato had written about.

Francis Upritchard of Kate Macgarry Gallery with gothic figures.