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 29th July

First stop today is Matt’s Gallery near Tower Bridge. Willlie Doherty has produced a video work on show here that juxtaposes on two screens, both the arrival of arms in Donegal prior to the Easter uprising in Ireland and also the location in Dublin where the revolutionaries were holed up in 1916. The centenary of that event seems to be the inspiration for this work and reminds me of another recent and important work on the Easter uprising by Jaki Irvine at Frith Street Gallery. Round the corner in Bermondsey Street is White Cube and there is a big mixed show of female artists. The theme is surrealism and the curating principle is that, just as the female body has been depicted by male artists as an external form and often disfigured by the removal of the hands and head for example, the female mind as an internal presence can through art describe and depict important realities whilst engaging in the discourse of surrealism. In short the work is fab. Stand-out artworks include Tracey Emin’s bronze statue with a slight alteration to one of the legs, and two great painters. Caitlin Keogh has made images of single female figures with various attachments including ropes and small male figures on puppet strings. The appearance is slick and has a flat graphic quality but with little touches of paint to provide the details. Meanwhile next door there is another piece that I try to identify from the exhibition catalogue. However due to its slightly unusual editing, wherein it has focused on the general work of the artists rather than the individual pieces, I still don’t know who it is by. With thirty or forty artists on show, I need to ask the gallery assistant to identify the artwork. She obligingly does with a well worn A4 sheet and a numbering system extending well beyond 150. Jordan Kasey has painted a fan with tassels that stream in the direction of an adjacent female figure, all of which has been depicted with a loose but precise application of oil paint.

Across Tower Bridge is the Whitechapel Gallery where in the main space, Benedict Drew is showing work based on the economic theory of the Trickle Down Effect. There are some large cartoon-like paintings on giant pieces of banner-vinyl whilst in the middle of the space is a podium of glitzy objects, though with some distortions to the tableau such as a giant veiny eyeball which acts as a device to remove some of the glitz on closer inspection. Clearly the artist is not a fan of the Trickle Down Phenomenon. Next door, Emma Hart has been to Italy with an awarded residency and has expanded her ceramic practice to include some specialised techniques. The ceramics are like lamp shades in practice, since they cleverly project speech bubbles through their openings onto the gallery floor and with surprisingly sharp outlines, but they are also beautiful objects in themselves. Externally they have simple designs on their surface but on the brightly lit interiors the colours are extremely vivid and maybe this is where her newly acquired expertise has found its application.

After the brief jog up Brick Lane and a quick lunch at Bagel Bake which has now finished its refurbishment, though they haven’t replaced the clock on the new grey tiles yet, I decide to put in the legwork and head for Trafalgar Square. The National Portrait Gallery has artworks by some important contemporary artists, including by Alessandro Raho, who has painted Dame Judi Dench, and by Marlene Dumas, who has envisaged a stunning portrait of Oscar Wilde. Finally, in the National Gallery next door, I find Chris Ofili’s large woven tapestry. A documentary with Alan Yentob has laid the foundation already in describing the three year period over which the professional weavers added different coloured pixels using a thick woollen weave even recreating the random marks of graphite powder that stand aside from the main composition in the original sketches. But seeing the artwork in situ it looks like an alter piece and the dim lighting adds a further sense of being in a chapel. Two figures are placed at the bottom of deserted cliffs amongst empty glades creating a depiction of nature that whilst being classical in composition, is decidedly modern with respect to its style and colour palette.

 

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Willie Doherty at Matt’sGallery with work about the 1916 Easter uprising in Dublin.

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Tracey Emin of White Cube in a group show called Dreamers Awake.

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Caitlin Keogh at White Cube in a group show called Dreamers Awake.

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Jordan Kasey at White Cube in a group show Dreamers Awake.

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Benedict Drew at Whitechapel Gallery with artworks about a rather questionable economic theory called the Trickle Down Effect.

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Emma Hart at Whitechapel Gallery.

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Alessandro Raho of Alison Jacques Gallery with a portrait of Dame Judi Dench at National Portrait Gallery.

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Marlene Dumas of Frith Street Gallery with a depiction of Oscar Wilde.

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Chris Ofili at The National Gallery with a hand-woven tapestry.

Gallery run 24th May

The streets are filled with the drone of helicopters as I reach Lambeth Bridge. Security is high today after the tragic bombing of Manchester two days earlier. At St James’ Park the guardsmen on horseback are given a police escort as a car and policeman on bicycle flank the procession. The first gallery is White Cube where Wayne Thiebaud has a retrospective of pie and cake paintings along with landscapes. The application of paint is in thin single-coloured sheets rendered with parallel brushstrokes. On the food they look like icing whilst on the landscapes, nature itself looks edible. Across Piccadilly I arrive at Pace Gallery. Joel Shapiro has created an installation of coloured solid forms. I read that the airborne forms are made of 3mm plywood making them light enough to be suspended by thin wires. As described on the photo below, the floor based forms actively flaunt much thicker sides and greater mass. As a whole we are perhaps induced through illusion to believe the floating forms are of a similar design and are thereby defying gravity in some way. Back onto the streets I pass Berwick Street market whilst being stuck behind a cement mixer and pause to let the street and the way forward clear. Wardour Street leads on to Berners Street where I push open a door for the second time this month and find myself in an office next to Alison Jacques Gallery, a mistake in other words, and go into the gallery feeling slightly self conscious about the rather gauche circumstance of my arrival. The show I wanted to see is invitation only and in fact completely closed today due to the installation of a big show downstairs, though the woman on the front desk graciously invites me to the big opening in a week’s time. Hopefully this will feature in the next run. Slade School of Art have their BA this week and I was struck by the work of Chloe Ong and Max Martyns, both painters. The next student show I go to is the St Martin’s BA at St Pancras, but first I stop at Brittania Street and see a triple bill of Giacometti, Peter Lindberg and Taryn Simon. I had seen the work by Simon before and loved it. Bouquets recreated and photographed accompany political text describing the signing of a treaty, where the original flowers were present, and the narrative continues to subsequent events many of which involve war and conflict. The walk to St Martin’s College is stunning through the back of St Pancras and over a bridge crossing the Regent’s Canal. The college has an open atrium leading to 3 floors and on the top floor is a piece of work I love by Nathaniel Faulkner where high-tech facade meets low-tech materials. Another work by the same artist catches my eye. An IBM supercomputer, is powered by a few fairy lights, whilst the rest of the lights hang loose, visible from the back along with a roll of Sellotape casually left behind. Finally the canal takes me east to the exit at Wharf Road. After photographing Anne November Cathrin Hoibo’s beautiful textile works at Carl Freedman Gallery, I head south and reach Matt’s Gallery. David Batchelor has created a great installation notable for its use of giant hole cutter and un-precious materials. On the way out I meet the director and after an introduction we do a quick catch up on the day’s shows!

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Wayne Thiebaud at White Cube with richly rendered landscapes in addition to his famous cake paintings.

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Joel Shapiro at Pace Gallery with coloured plywood forms. From a technical viewpoint the floor based forms show thick chunky edges whilst by a kind of illusion the air based pieces conceal their thin 3mm sides and appear to float from thin wires.

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Chloe Ong at Slade Degree Show 2017 with beautifully composed landscapes.

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Max Martyns at Slade Degree Show 2017 with an exciting use of brushstroke.

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Taryn Simon at Gagosian with recreations of exotic bouquets that had been made originally for important signings of international deals.

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Nathaniel Faulkner at Central St Martins Degree Show 2017 with stunning recreations of technology from the front view. But look round the back and we see the proper artwork with wooden frames and flashing fairy lights that created the illusion of complex processes.

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Chicks on the towpath of Regents Canal.

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Ann Cathrin November Hoibo of Carl Freedman Gallery with beautifully woven threads and fabrics.

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David Batchelor at Matts Gallery with an installation that portrays the city landscape coming alive by night.