Gallery run 15th February

Gallery runs by artist, jogger and London explorer Julian.

Gagosian Gallery, which is on Brittania Street near Kings Cross, has been between exhibitions for several weeks and the two present shows by Nancy Rubins and Vera Lutter are therefore much awaited. They don’t disappoint! The scale of work by both artists is stunning. For Nancy Rubins the scale requires engineering solutions to hold her sculptures together. Assembled metal objects originating from scrap yards and fairgrounds are secured to a network of cross linking metal cables. These cables allow the sculptures to project way beyond the relatively small plinths that they sit upon. Furthermore, the placement of these cables forms an elaborate system of cantilevers which incorporate the various objects on display into their design. The art objects then, rather like Calder’s mobiles, serve both as surface for contemplation as well as physical mass within this larger system.

In contrast Vera Lutter’s works, whilst being physically large, draw their true impact from the scale of the machinery that underpins them. Her works are giant negatives which are about 3.5 metres high, roughly 100 times the height of old fashioned film negatives. It is of no surprise, therefore, that the object she has used for a camera carries a similar multiplication of scale. It’s a shipping container no less. The various expanses of photographic negative before us in the gallery are a sort of physical trace of the walls of this container that they would have been stuck against during their exposure and on this account they bring with them a sense of the magnitude of the container itself, its steel plate and enormous mass. If this double reading were not enough, though, the artist has then presented yet another level of engagement with the images. For they are of the world’s largest radio telescope and this creates a powerful metaphor of observation through use of only the faintest of signals. The faint traces of energy from outer space would be equivalent in some way to the almost imperceptible light reaching the pieces of film inside the container.

The next section of the run is over the hill at Angel. This means leaving the canal behind as it disappears into a very long tunnel and hot-footing it across to the other side. Back by the water, another lock serves to drop its level, before a spur of water branches out sideways past Victoria Miro gallery. A great show by David Altmejd at Stuart Shave Modern Art, a gallery slightly further on, is followed by a return to the canal and a visit to Stuart Shave’s second gallery space in Hackney. Paul Lee has produced several combinations of canvas and tambourines, the latter being a familiar trope for the artist, and they have an interesting sensuous quality due to a sort of exchange of physical properties from their close proximity. The tightly stretched skins of both objects, both sitting about 2 inches away from the wall, unite to produce a sort of extended space across their combined surfaces.

In contrast to these, the artist has produced four wall-mounted objects that appear, at first sight, to be no more than a cluster of recyclables, fabrics and bits of wire. However, they have a great sense of freedom to their forms, something that would require either chance processes for their assembly or else the application of sound artistic principles to block any unwanted rational processes of repetition, use of pre-established pattern or over reliance on an external narrative. None of these deficiencies here and what’s more for good measure, the central core of each object, which may well have been fashioned from a fizzy drink can, offers the one-off surprise to a viewer taking a closer look, that they are actually portraits of a male face rendered in black screen print style ink. Though small, this figurative element offers a strong contrast to their constructivist style.

Antonio Calderara at Lisson Gallery.

On the Regent’s Canal. A new layer of image just added with the yellow sign.

Nancy Rubins of Gagosian Gallery.

Vera Lutter of Gagosian Gallery with images of one of the world’s largest radio telescopes made using a giant pinhole camera constructed from a shipping container.

David Altmejd of Stuart Shave, Modern Art with plaster reliefs inspired by the complex biological evolutions of organisms.

Paul Lee of Stuart Shave, Modern Art.

Eddie Peake of White Cube with an immersive installation.

He Xiangyu of White Cube with small clusters of wire and pieces of metal that had benn smuggled out of North Korea to China for a pitifully small cash price.

Andrea G Artz has produced novel photographic origami pieces at Crol And Co.


Gallery run 20th December

Rose Wiley has a show at the Serpentine Gallery and the jog out west from Peckham proceeds over Lambeth Bridge, along the Embankment to Chelsea before finally reaching the damp Autumn grass of Hyde Park. In the show, a great painting made of several panels, has been installed where two walls meet at right angles. A sort of half panorama is the result. Several figures float around the space, sporting tabs like the kind that were used in children’s cut-out kits for adding outfits and interspersed amongst these figures are various symbols such as ovals and bits of text, each deeply evocative. The overall effect is a painting that feels like a powerful memory since, in addition to the aforementioned symbols, there is also an extensive network of completely untouched canvas. The artist hasn’t tried to fill this space, as would be the case in a normal panorama functioning as a window on the world, but rather has left the raw canvas as a conduit allowing the eye to move smoothly from one symbol to the next.

To the north of Hyde Park lies the little cul-de-sac of canal called the Paddington Basin, and it is via this little stretch of waterway that one then arrives at Lisson Gallery, spared in the meantime from hearing the thunderous A40 traffic, by a sort of emotional bubble that this charming stretch of canal has put in place. Carmen Herera paints jagged forms that jump across the canvas like lightening bolts and it is in the first of Lisson’s two galleries that the viewer encounters them. In addition there is a surprise. The artist has installed a three-dimensional structure, about the size of two back to back wardrobes and with its shiny blue paint, it seems to encourage various dialogues with the other brightly coloured paintings in the show.

In the second gallery are artworks by Roy Colmer from the 1970’s. Think back to the tech prevalent then and we have bulky old TV sets with horizontal band patterns, flickering away due to the limits of their technology. These are exactly what the artist has evoked in his paintings with their uniformly wide bands of colour. The unique quality of these bands is that they change colour during a single pass and this is what makes them hard to pin down as simply a band of coloured paint, a feat achieved, we are told, by the artist having rigged the spray gun to switch colour whilst still applying the paint in a continuous stream.

Lastly, in Brewer Street, Amanda Wilkinson has set up a new gallery after the restructuring of what was previously Wilkinson gallery. She has taken approximately half of the original artist list and of these artists, Jewyo Rhii, is showing a great installation of make-shift printing devices. Reversed lettering and some strange pivoted arms along with black lettering marks on the gallery wall accompanied by various drips and splats, provides the evidence that these machines actually work, up to a fashion. A lump of rock has been placed in a makeshift tray and this seems to function quite literally as a power supply in the manner of the swinging motion of a pendulum in a clock. With this low tech set-up the artist has enabled the viewer to turn away from the immediate function of a printing device and, rather as Roy Colmer had done, in fact, with his depictions of the TV raster pattern, offer instead a profound meditation on the general nature of the reproduced image without the burdensome presence of the duplication devices themselves.

The Gingerbread City in Museum of Architecture with different companies of architects offering various cameos that have fitted together in this carefully designed edible city.

Rose Wylie at Serpentine Gallery with a panoramic artwork that uses a novel method to portray the human figure.

Carmen Herrera of Lisson Gallery with evocative hard edge paintings.

Roy Colmer at Lisson Gallery with subject matter based on old flickering 70’s TV sets, but using a cleverly rigged spray gun that can change colour on a single pass.

Susan Hiller of Lisson Gallery with painted over wallpaper allowing bits of cartoon and word-caption to show through.

Bex Simon has designed this great public participation artwork on Westminster Magistrates Court.

Gower Street birthplace of the Pre Raphaelite Brotherhood.

Polly Apfelbaum of Frith Street Gallery with a show themed around a foot drawing by Dubuffet.

Jewyo Rhii at Amanda Wilkinson Gallery with an imaginative design for a printing press. The rocks help the hidden upper sections swing against the gallery wall, imparting black ink from the various word moulds in the process.

Gallery run 15th November

With a lap round The Serpentine in Hyde Park taking the time up to ten o’clock, the first gallery of today’s run should now be open. But alas, my check of opening times on the internet last night was not done accurately enough and it turns out the gallery is in fact closed today for refurbishments. Fortunately one of their artists, Sanford Biggers, is showing just a few hundred metres away at Phillips auction house. The good fortune of spotting the gallery artist in this alternative venue is further enhanced by the quality of the work. It comprises a delicately stitched, embroidered quilt cover with a back story that it was donated to the artist along with many others from families whose ancestors were effected by slavery. This has become part of the rich historical narrative of the artwork itself.

A few blocks along in Victoria Miro, Stan Douglas is displaying photographic-based work. Although primarily the show focuses on high-resolution photographic reconstructions of the London riots of 2011, there are also two abstract works. These additional abstract works are fascinating because they are actually based on simple jpeg images of geometric shapes but where the information of the original digital files has been altered in a systematic way. The resulting rhythmic patterns, we are told, reveal the wave patterns that make up the structure of all jpeg files.

Nearby in the hub of galleries close to the Royal Academy, Pace Gallery is showing some of the American Abstract Expressionists. The dominant figure in this group, at least from an historic perspective, is Kenneth Noland, and the show builds on this popularity by also including works from other important artists from that movement including Frank Bowling and Sam Gilliam. The former has poured paint down the canvas and despite the absence of a brush, has created an elegant and ordered painted surface, evidenced by the clean boarders on either side of a main channel that comprises a complex multi-layered surface of paint. Meanwhile, the latter artist has removed his canvases from their stretchers altogether. They have been bunched up into a few hanging points and suspended from the gallery walls.

The London art scene is buzzing right now with the Basquiet show at the Barbican. Today’s run actually takes in a concurrent show in the building’s second gallery, known as The Curve. John Akomfrah has collected a multitude of chemical containers with their coloured residues still visible in white plastic grooves. He has then suspended them from the ceiling where they mingle with the lighting to create a stunning spectacle of glowing white plastic. The artwork actually references the anthropocene, an emerging name for Earth’s most recent age, and one that is characterised by human influence rather than geological change. On this account, the artwork draws more attention, in fact, to the pollution of these chemical containers than to their sublime beauty. Perhaps also on this solemn note, it is where today’s blog comes to a close, though the run itself would take in David Blandy at Seventeen, Omar Ba at Hales Gallery, Alan Belcher at Greengrassi and Abel Auer at Corvi Mora, all offering great exhibitions over the rest of the day.

Sanford Biggers of Massimo De Carlo on show, and for auction, at Phillips.

Stan Douglas at Victoria Miro with a manipulation of a jpeg file. These familiar digital files, used for storing images, use clever techniques to compress them and the artist has intervened in some way to produce an image that reveals this underlying technique as an image of its own.

Frank Bowling often represented in London by Hales Gallery on show here at Pace Gallery.

Sam Gilliam at Pace Gallery with a detached canvas.

John Akomfrah represented by Lisson Gallery showing at Barbican. These are chemical containers that the artist has used to represent, with some beauty, the Anthropocene, our current geological time period by some accounts.

David Blandy of Seventeen Gallery with a digital reconstruction of the solar system.

Omar Ba of Hales Gallery draws on the experiences of his native Senegal to develop his rich symbolic language in paintings.

Alan Belcher at Greengrassi with paintings of geometric objects that accompany, in his show, paintings of ducks, fish and shellfish each having a surreal quality.

Abel Auer of Corvi Mora.


Gallery run 12th October

One of the most enjoyable runs is along the Regent’s Canal from Lisson Gallery to Wharf Road, where Victoria Miro and Parasol Unit are situated. Having been to neither gallery for a while there are new shows to see at each and with the addition of an exceptionally fair autumn day the planets are aligned for a good run. At Lisson Gallery, Allora and Calzadilla have installed a display that very obliquely criticises America’s policy towards Puerto Rico and other affiliated states. These states don’t get a star on the US flag and furthermore, according to the artists, suffer from the ambiguity of their legal status of being “Foreign in a Domestic Sense”. They are foreign in some respects and domestic in others but in a way that gives them generally a bad deal, as the critique continues. How could this critique be presented as an artwork?, one might wonder. Partly through drawing attention to the phrase above in its use as the show title and partly also through arguing that the work itself by a sort of mimetic response, embodies contradictory aspects in its own form. On display is a transformer plugged into a domestic power socket making a surprisingly large humming sound off what is presumably a 13 amp plug. With various bits of foliage and earth surrounding it, the electrical equipment does indeed seem to deliver this contradictory response to the viewer that the artists had hoped for. The artwork is actually rather scary to get close up to for the photograph.

At the other gallery Daniel Buren has installed beautifully finished powder-coated, coloured modules against a mirror background. This encourages the simple conceit on my part of trying to pick up reflections from across the gallery and uniting the different modules in single camera shots. Buren’s characteristic 8.7cm vertical stripes unite all the modules together and this is a geometric feature which the press release diligently draws attention to.

The canal is looking good today adorned by the sparkling sun and the towpath is full of walkers and cyclists. Though the canal is not a short cut, it allows the mind to switch off and soon enough one arrives at Wharf Road, 5 miles away. Tal R is showing his sex shop paintings which are a lot less explicit than they sound. Indeed it is the very barrier of the front door and plain facade of the shop that the artist likens to a physical barrier of the painted canvas. The critique continues that the canvas obscures various desires forever hinted at but unrealised through the medium of paint. The images are painted from photographs but rather than this being a negative feature in the sense that the images are only copies, the photographs add a performative aspect to the artwork. For these photographs are collected randomly by the artist’s friends and thereby remove some sense of the artist’s own taste and instead allow the subject matter to be presented as a simple phenomenon.

Having also seen some more great artwork at Parasol unit, the last destination is The Strand where Lisson Gallery have taken over a building. The building is scheduled for demolition and has temporarily assumed the name of Store Studios. Here the Lisson artists have executed some of their installations in this new setting and of particular note is Ryan Gander’s sculpture depicting glowing steps ascending to a rectangular doorway, which is actually a sheet of back-lit plexiglass. The effect is to suggest some transcendental ascent to those climbing those steps (but as they number only three and are built of plexiglass too, cannot be walked on) set within the shabby walls of the condemned building. With the index of Lisson artists largely addressed in this show and the earlier works from the morning further drawing from that index, the day has finished with a decidedly minimalist Lisson-like feel.

Daniel Buren of Lisson Gallery with wall mounted pieces based on his characteristic 8.7cm wide black and white stripes.

Allora and Calzadilla of Lisson Gallery. Foreign in a Domestic Sense is a legal American phrase which the artists feel is unfair to certain of its allies.

Regent’s Canal.

Tal R of Victoria Miro with his new series of paintings based on photos of sex shops, many of which were sent to him from around the world.

Martin Puryear at Parasol Unit with beautifully crafted sculptures.

Robert Montgomery at the Parasol Unit with a large outdoor text piece.

Idris Kahn of Victoria Miro with delicate text-based paintings.

Anish Kapoor of Lisson Gallery showing at Store Studios on The Strand.

Ryan Gander of Lisson Gallery at Store Studios on The Strand.


Gallery run 11th August

The day starts with a run up to White Cube Gallery near St James’ Park, followed by a visit to Gagosian just across Piccadilly and up past Berkeley Square. At White Cube, Harland Miller has painted more imaginary book covers using the 70’s style idiomatic of self-help manuals. He seems to look back at that era with affection and there is a suggestion in the blurb that it marked a time when such projects on oneself were seen as augmentative to an already ok self whereas now the self has become categorised by science as being afflicted by a range of disorders perhaps best left to the professionals to remedy. After these thought provoking issues, Peter Marino’s work consisting of several patinated bronze trunks, serves up a healthy serving of bling preventing any further circumspection of the soul. Above each of these floor-based works are priceless artworks by Bacon, Picasso and Warhol all hung on the wall. Taken from the Gagosian group of elite artists, these works provide a sort of imaginary setting which no doubt many rich collectors will identify with as home.

Initially when I then arrive at the Serpentine Gallery in Hyde Park and see the slogan “The most popular show ever” before being asked to queue, I wonder who might have written this in their revue. Then I realise it is the title of Grayson Perry’s new show. He is displaying vases and tapestries and some gloriously sumptuous bikes with cow horn handlebars, a motorbike and peddle bike. Judging by the crowds milling around these great exhibits, the show title rings true. Across the Serpentine lake in the Sackler gallery are more works by a black artist Arthur Jafa, exploring political and urban street life themes. My favourite work is a video showing a performance of two artists spontaneously taking over the central isle of a metro train and swirling around the central pole. As I snap the image and look at the photo, they are upside down with lights and seats receding into the distance creating a spectacle that looks like the astronauts on a space station. They are modern day “metronauts”.

Finally the journey back south takes me to Vauxhall where Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff are showing at Cabinet Gallery. In the middle of the gallery is a long one metre wide strip of vinyl which is being passed over motorised rollers in a complex system of zig-zags. Printed on this vinyl are occasional images of stonework lettering which, we are told, are addresses of American government organisations that have been carved onto their stone walls. Meanwhile in a sort of contra-punctual relation there are also images of the interior of an Irish bar in Berlin. Whilst the former is perhaps associated with military prowess, the latter still has associations of military exemption, a feature of Berlin life for many years. The structure of the present artwork in Cabinet alludes to a standard printing procedure of airing the vinyl strip to allow time for the inks to dry. But it is also suggestive of a much more poetical process whereby it is acting as a sort of collaging machine. Here the contrasting images from Berlin and Washington that have been printed onto the vinyl strip, whilst not actually drying together in a literal sense, are nevertheless settling together over time.

A short distance further south takes one to the South London gallery. Opposite is an important base camp for this final ascent, called Sophocles’ bakery which makes excellent cheese boreks. The placement of this bakery allows for a five minute walk, to consume the pastry, before arriving at the gallery. Inside Lubeina Himid has presented some collage-based works relating to her placement within a domestic and political culture and she carries an additional aura now as a Turner nominated artist. Meanwhile on a TV monitor is “roadworks” an early performance piece by Mona Hartoum. She walks barefoot through busy Brixton market and carefully drags DM boots attached by their laces behind each ankle seemingly oblivious to the constant chatter and comments. These video works under stressful situations, as they are described, perhaps helped to hone her abilities in making the powerful more static works she is known for today.

Harland Miller of White Cube with images based on imaginary book covers with very brief titles.

Howard Hodgkin large scale work.

Peter Marino at Gagosian Gallery in Davies Street with decorative bronze chests made in a classical style.

Grayson Perry of Victoria Miro Gallery at Serpentine Gallery.

Arthur Jafa at Serpentine Gallery with a performance of acrobatics in a metro train.

Victoria and Albert Museum have a new entrance and courtyard.

Calla Henkel and Max Pitegoff at Cabinet Gallery.

Lubaina Himid of Hollybush Gardens at South London Gallery.

Mona Hartoum of Lisson Gallery showing a performance by herself in South London Gallery.


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”!

Regent’s Canal.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Damien Hirst, Sculpture In The City 2017.

Karen Tang, Sculpture In The City 2017.


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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiona Ackerman at Beers London.

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.