Gallery run 16th March

The write-up this week will describe the connecting route between Matt’s Gallery in Bermonsey, Kate MacGarry’s gallery near Brick Lane and finally a cluster of galleries in the West End, the latter beginning with Herald Street’s new space near the British Museum in Holborn. This first section, described above, is only suitable for cyclists and joggers since it covers about 10 miles but it is well worth the effort with a lovely section through Southwark Park and along the River Thames. A second section, beginning near the British Museum, the location of Herald Street’s new gallery, comprises an excellent group of shows all within walking distance of each other and these will be described in paragraph three.

The day starts then with a jog to Matt’s new gallery space to see Mandy Ure’s curious abstract paintings. The gallery is doing a sequence of short one week shows and with this fast turnover has quite an itinerary lined up. The space is small but the artist list for future shows is impressive including Ben Rivers who has previously exhibited at Kate MacGarry. Southwark Park is a gem in Bermondsey and its immediate access at the far end onto The River creates a great, green corridor until Tower Bridge, allowing some poetic license for the building site near the bridge. A jog up Brick Lane then brings us to Kate MacGarry, previously mentioned, and Laura Gannon has a lovely show of ripped canvases covered in metallic paint. Gentle and poetic is my immediate impression.

The route to Holborn is not particularly interesting or worthy of comment but the show at Herald Street is strong consisting mainly of sculptural objects. Here would be a good place for the gallery walker to join the route as they would have a treat in store for them with this second section. To continue on this stage, take the first route west. Old Compton Street followed by Brewer Street is good and then by wending past Lower John Street and across Regent’s Street you will have access to Sprovieri on Heddon Street. Tucked away amongst restaurants, look for number 23 and the crew will invite you up to the first floor to see Francesco Arena’s thought provoking works based on the theme of time. Just round the corner we would then reach a hub of three gallery spaces on Savile Row. Take note of the two at Hauser and Wirth. There is a painting bonanza with interesting themes of recycling in the case of Matthew Day Jackson and social equality for Lorna Simpson. Hers are fantastic images with thin washes of vivid blues to create a sublime spectacle of glaciers. Across the road we see Ordovas gallery and the London Painters show that mirrors the current show at Tate Britain, with great works by Freud, Bacon and Kossoff.

Finally by walking, or jogging, across the dog leg that leads to St George’s Street, you would come to Victoria Miro and see the works of Jules de Balincourt. His are paintings from the imagination and are extremely beautiful. Along with Leon Kossoff at Ordovas, he has the most likes on this week’s Instagram post.

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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.

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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.

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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Tate Modern with layered images.

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Trinity Buoy Wharf.

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

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

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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!

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Andrew Grassie of Maureen Paley with photorealistic paintings.

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

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Florian Meisenberg of Kate MacGarry.

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

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 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.

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

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

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

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

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

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Tom Burr of Maureen Paley.

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

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

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Francis Upritchard of Kate Macgarry Gallery with gothic figures.

Gallery run 10th May

Today I headed towards St James’ Park and then into Stephen Friedman gallery where Mamma Andersson is showing paintings and woodblock prints. After checking out both galleries I go into Sainsbury’s off Berkeley Square and buy a croissant as a mid-morning snack. Then I make my way north to Sadie Coles in Davies Street to see Jordan Wolfson’s show. I photograph a rather sinister looking red plastic house with teeth and nose moulded in the roof and then go upstairs where a shock awaits. An assistant helps me put on virtual reality headset and headphones whilst warning me to hold a metal grab rail at all times. It is not an electric shock from the grab rail, but from some grotesque ultra-violence that awaits from the headset. The grab rail is probably there in case someone faints. For the first thing I see is someone taking a massive swing at a defenceless victim using a baseball bat. I close my eyes, too embarrassed to remove the headset straight away in front of the assistant and as the beating continues I catch more glimpses of the victim, through half closed eyes, now unconscious on the street which incidentally is Davies street filmed outside the gallery. “That was intense”, I mutter, as I leave in slight shock. Going south now across Piccadilly I arrive at Thomas Dane Gallery, where the sculptor Terry Adkins has assembled stacks of tin pans and lids on poles protruding from the gallery walls. The route to the Thames from here passes through Trafalgar Square and here the street performers have laid out their chalk flags on the pavement and gathered people around the sound system. The river weaves its way eastwards and I follow its north bank past City School and then into a walkway that divides a recycling facility with a large four-wheeled crane straddling the divide and visible above as it shifts giant shipping crates. At Brick Lane I refuel with a smoked salmon bagel and then check into Kate MacGarry Gallery where Dr Lakra, a Mexican artist, has made totemic sculptures based on ancient South American figurines but crossed with 20th century icons including E.T.. Peer gallery is next where James Pyman has exhibited intricate pencil drawings from images linked to his own childhood including to comic books. A tragic tale unfolds as I listen to the artist recounting the story of everyone’s second favourite comic book artist but I am not here to spoil the ending. As the run draws to an end I reach the last stage which is White Cube in Bermondsey Street. Larry Bell had created a chemical cupboard in the 70’s and has developed a trademark style of pearlescent finishes used in geometric abstractions and also some beautiful figurative works on display here. In the adjacent gallery I take what I think is the last photo of the day, entranced by a stunning orange vase with minimal design imparted to its surface by the artist Jurgen Partenheimer. But running through Bermondsey Square Lucy Tomlins sculpture of Atlas fallen from the pedestal catches my eye and I find the right angle to show off her excellent stone work as the sun catches the bridge of its nose.

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I was stopped in my tracks by a policeman as the pavement had been shut just before these guards emerged.

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Mamma Andersson at Stephen Friedman Gallery with delicate paintings from nature.

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Jordan Wolfson at Sadie Coles HQ with striking and disturbing objects and films.

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Terry Adkins at Thomas Dane Gallery with evocative assemblages.

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Dr Lakra of Kate MacGarry with totemic figures based partly on popular culture.

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James Pyman of Maureen Paley at Peer. This is a drawn close up of a Beatles 45″ record sleeve.

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Larry Bell of White Cube with oxide surfaces made in a chemical cupboard.

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Jurgen Partenheimer at White Cube with loosely painted images and ceramics.

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Lucy Tomlins presents a sculpture of Atlas in Bermondsey Square.

Gallery run 10th March

Regent’s Canal to Hackney.

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Peter McDonald of Kate MacGarry with figures revealing an inner life through brightly coloured Venn-diagram-like head spaces.

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Laure Prouvost at Serpentine Galleries with an atmospheric installation using sound and dimly lit objects.

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Simon Ling of Greengrassi with piled logs and characteristic orange under and occasional over-painting.

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Dee Ferris at Corvi Mora with natural forms in abstract compositions.

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Gerard Hemsworth at Raven Row in a group show recreating their 70’s show at Exhibition House. Excellent tutor at Goldsmiths and this early text work reminds me of many of his pearls of wisdom delivered in tutorials.

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John Latham at Serpentine Galleries in a retrospective.

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Matt Paweski at Herald Street with aluminium constructions incorporating swirly motifs.

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Maja Ruznic at Beers London.

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Susan Hiller at Raven Row. Group show celebrating the 70’s exhibition space Gallery House with the original participating artists.

Gallery run 26th January

West to East.

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Augustus Thompson at Almine Rech Gallery with evocative paintings made on aluminium honeycomb.

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Street art on Brick Lane.

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Anna Zacharoff of Vilma Gold with sea life imagery.

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Sophie Bueno Boutellier of The Approach with delicate paintings on folded canvas.

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Amalia Pica of Herald Street with a sculpture using a drainpipe and broccoli.

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Peter Liversidge at Kate Macgarry with objects with faces on.

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Park Seo Bo of White Cube with paintings made of fine mulberry pulp paper that have been shaped and scored with a stick.

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Takashi Murukami at auction in Christies.

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Wilhelm Sasnal at auction in Christies.