Gallery run 7th June

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Helen Beard at Newport Street Gallery with brightly coloured figures in intimate settings.

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Sadia Laska at Newport Street Gallery with artwork referencing the New York music and cultural scene.

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Boo Saville at Newport Street Gallery with vividly painted found images from Google searches on the internet.

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Seung Taek Lee at White Cube with great sculptures made from brightly coloured vinyl sheet stretched over sculptural supports.

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Julian Schnabel at Pace Gallery has painted expressive black marks reminiscent (to me) of ploughs and pitch forks, on blown-up prints that originally celebrated country life. The prints were made by a Royal Academician and for those in the know Pace shares a building with the RA who are celebrating 250 years and this body of work is a nod to that anniversary.

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Adboulaye Konate of Blain Southern showing at Stephen Friedman Gallery in a group show that celebrates African art and culture.

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Florence Mytum at Slade postgraduate show. The stone structures of the art school’s architecture have been softened with extruded sponge.

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Gabriela Giroletti at Slade postgraduate show.

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Charlie Barlow at Slade postgraduate show with clusters of spots all over the corridors and even into the loo.

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Gallery run 13th April

Like last week, this Gallery-Run-write-up has been reduced to the individual photo captions, shown further down the page, in order to make room for a temporary project called Plus 1 that now follows. Guests join me, hopefully, on a gallery run and will share ideas. Alas there are still no takers, though admittedly I still haven’t really asked anyone else yet, beyond the hopeful invitations shown last week. This week’s article features something entirely different, though still comprising a sort of plus 1, whilst also verging on the confessional! For two months I learnt the names of artists associated with London-Frieze-exhibiting galleries, from lists of paper whilst out jogging being careful not to run into lampposts or pedestrians. Each list could be hand-held and studied. Some even show the effects of rain or of being stuffed into a pocket. Along with a two word summary of something that each artist did, the process helped to create a stack of memory boxes that follows the sequence of the numbered lists shown in the photograph below. The memory boxes automatically bring forth the next in the stack, provided they are cycled through in recall about once every fortnight. The boxes also bring with them an essence of each artist, since they have gradually filled up with experiences of gallery visits. Memory is a strange thing and this sequential recall is probably born through the need to piece together consecutive events in time, something the philosopher David Hume considered to be the rather unphilosophical survival function that shapes the human brain.

listsThe Lists Cycle. Gallery Runner lists in the foreground.

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Pablo Bronstein of Herald Street Gallery with a film that crosses the glam game show format with some of the grand narratives of Greek mythology.

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Bernard Cohen at Flowers Gallery.

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Elizabeth Murray of Pace Gallery showing at Victoria Miro with what looks like biological imagery on the shaped canvas.

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Joan Mitchell at Victoria Miro in a group show.

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Carlos Garaicoa at Parasol Unit with reconstructions of tiled Cuban adverts, albeit with a few alterations.

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Fab boat in Camden.

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Ryan Gander of Lisson Gallery with carved shapes from an important mathematical blueprint. Meanwhile the black pile of sand steadily grows during the show from a thin stream of sand falling out of a hole in the ceiling.

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Pedro Reyes of Lisson Gallery with a room full of sculpture and wall tableaux forming a complete system of ideas, some executed and some pending.

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Ian Cheng of Pilar Corrias showing at Serpentine Galleries. We see what appears to be a simple animation but gradually learn that the creature is living in real time and using a sort of AI to try things out and get used to its rather unusual body.

Gallery run 4th March

This has been the week of the big freeze. Whilst it’s been possible to run in the snow, the prospect of having to then shake off the snowflakes upon ringing a gallery buzzer, has been enough for me to delay these visits to this Sunday. First stop is Tate Modern where a stack of materials including red buckets and wooden pallets occupies an almost perfect cube of gallery space. This work is by Tony Cragg and represents the early development of an artist who would go on to create his familiar idiomatic style of layered figures with beautifully smooth machine-worked surfaces.

The Barbican lies due north, over the Millennium footbridge, past St Paul’s Cathedral and across the raised walkway that takes one from the old city walls near the Museum of London to the unassuming doorway on level 2. The banality of the Barbican’s entranceway offers a sort of parallel to the concrete facades outside, confirming the utopian ideal that culture itself should provide the colour and nuances that these physical surfaces lack. This is not an unreasonable or untenable position to take. Frequent visits are nearly always rewarded by the work on show and today is no exception. Yto Barrada, an artist represented internationally by Pace Gallery, has echoed some of the utopian concerns of the hosting site, by depicting another ambitious building project in Agadir, where the greatest architects of the 50’s laid down their smooth lines against the backdrop of a city ruined by civil war. To capture this unique moment in history, the artist has juxtaposed simple wall drawings of the various radical buildings against items of furniture made from more traditional North African weaving techniques.

Maureen Paley is the only commercial gallery I would go on to visit today, since it offers the gracious distinction of being open on a Sunday whilst also exhibiting one of my favourite artists, Kaye Donachie. The paintings are primarily of women and this indeed is one of the show’s themes, to recreate the lost history of which these women were an important part, and in this sense the paintings offer an alternative view of reality. The dissolving forms that loosely depict these figures offer a kind of critique of this failed history, a history that has not managed to grow or take root, by showing instead not a photographic likeness but rather a likeness that seems to have been fashioned from chance events. A nose with distinct outline takes on the additional burden of sporting a giant brush mark, one that has obliterated its curved form, yet somehow this addition works and the facial feature seems strengthened rather than undermined by it.

Finally at Chisenhale Gallery we have dentistry raised to the level of art. This is not because the golden tooth that would be inserted into the artist’s mouth is particularly beautiful nor is it anything to do with recent developments of artworks taking on the narratives of prosthetics or plastic surgery. No, this dental procedure comes as a rather beautiful gesture by the artist, Lydia Ourahmane, who had the tooth inserted as a delicate and empathetic response to her own grandfather. He had in fact extracted all his own teeth in a decisive gesture against the then ruling French government. As a native to north Africa, he was at odds with their presence in his country. Then faced with the impossible position of being required to fight for them, he decided to render himself unfit for service by taking the drastic action described. This story is revealed in the gallery through the body of the artist, his grand daughter. An X ray depicts her own mouth before having the tooth inserted, whilst next to it mounted on the wall is a little nugget of gold, a second identical gold tooth in fact, since the artist had actually had two made, which offer a sort of tableaux vivant of these various events of fifty years ago.

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During the big freeze, on the day of the hoped-for gallery run. It was too cold.

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Tony Cragg at Tate Modern.

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Wheat objects woven together by Ana Lupas. This was based on a traditional Romanian practice.

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Yto Barrada of Pace Gallery showing at the Barbican Curve with drawings of the modernist buildings in Agadir set against traditional woven chairs and lampshades.

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Kaye Donachie of Maureen Paley.

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Lydia Ourahmane at Chisenhale Gallery has produced a historical artwork. The gold tooth is a copy of the one the artist had inserted in remembrance of her grandfather who had extracted his own as part of his resistance to French rule.

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Regent’s Canal after the big freeze.

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Flavie Audi and Samantha Lee with large projections of iPad screens and an accompanying dancer at Specisl Projects on Decima Street.

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Adam Linder choreographed dance at South London Gallery.

Gallery run 25th January

At Blain Southern, Rachel Howard has produced a series of black and white paintings including an interesting one with a wallpaper motif. She appears to have then developed this image extensively in red and on a larger scale with four examples shown in the adjacent gallery. For the artist, wallpaper is a powerful motif because it represents the liminal space between a safe domestic environment and uncontrollable external events such as war. In some areas the wallpaper appears to reveal this external space through a semi-transparency, whilst the red of the pattern itself becomes a vehicle for introducing a more free-flowing use of red paint symbolic, of course, of blood and strife.

Meanwhile in the downstairs gallery, Brian Griffiths has created a puppet-like character which he has presented against simple cardboard and wooden off-cut stage sets on the gallery walls. The artist’s characteristic use of visual metaphor is clearly apparent in these simple backdrops commandeering, for example, a second hand spindle to function as a high-tech sun lamp. The introduction of figurative elements is by no means new to the artist’s oeuvre but the combination of low-tech figure in low-tech background is an interesting development.

It would then be a long loop up to Notting Hill via the Regent’s Canal followed by a return through Hyde Park, which lands me back amongst the Mayfair galleries and the shiny black door of Michael Werner bejewelled with brass trimmings. Peter Doig has produced a set of images based on a powerful looking figure standing astride a sandy beach. The paraphernalia of a red and white flotation device lends an air of the everyday to the image as well as pleasing colour harmonies whilst the figure itself is more reminiscent of the mythical tales of Odysseus and a Greek ideal of the male physique.

Craig Kauffmanm is on display at Sprueth and Magers with work from the 60’s that uses bright plastics. In the main window is a stunning display incorporating work by this artist alongside additional works by Donald Judd and Robert Morris. Each of the works by the three artists has been produced in a single coloured plastic and seen together they create an overall harmony as the eye moves from one piece to the other, resting upon a single colour before moving to the next. The plastic used by Craig Kauffman is actually slightly transparent and the effect is to make his works look delicious with the coloured lozenge of plastic both reflecting a warm glow of light but also, in some cases, projecting a coloured patch onto the gallery walls.

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Rachel Howard of Blain Southern with a wallpaper motif that she has then developed extensively in a further series.

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Brian Griffiths at Blain Southern has created a puppet-like character presented in simple cardboard stage sets on the gallery walls.

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Wim Wenders of Blain Southern showing a selection of his Polaroids at The Photographers Gallery. These were an important part of his movie film preparations.

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Peter Doig at Michael Werner.

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Josh Smith at Massimo De Carlo with colourful depictions of the Grim Reaper.

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Bridget Riley at David Zwirner with new work.
Delete Comment

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Craig Kauffman at Sprueth Magers with works from the 60’s using bright plastics.

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Andreas Schulze at Sprueth Magers with colourful pipework.

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Tara Donovan of Pace Gallery has created a series of images using stacked cards with small cut-out sections.

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.

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

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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.

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

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Sam Gilliam at Pace Gallery with a detached canvas.

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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.

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

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

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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.

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Abel Auer of Corvi Mora.

Gallery run 14th September

The day starts with a diversion to Clapham Junction. My partner is on a business trip abroad and has forgotten her phone. Having made the rendezvous and said a second farewell, it is only a short distance to Chelsea College. The college is located near Tate Britain and is hosting an MA fine art student show, the last of the season. Two painters on display are of particular note. Naoya Inose has produced fantastical landscapes incorporating architectural structures with enormous walls, bathed in the glow of a low sun which has simultaneously illuminated vast ranges of clouds. In contrast Mikolaos Panagiotopoulos has created a much more intimate space populated with variously wrought figures that are lifelike though suggesting in places a more cartoon-like idiom.

Next door the Tate has a grand retrospective of Rachel Whiteread and although it is a pay show, a large display has been installed in the Duveen Galleries, the enormous central space reserved primarily for sculpture. The pastel lozenges, which the sculptor has cast from coloured resin, bare the imprints of legs and chair bottoms and suggest that these are solid embodiments of the empty spaces beneath seats. A moment of reflection on the nature of chairs follows before noticing too, the glow of light that is trapped and preserved in the resin forms, the source being the sun of course, which is wending its way round the skylights above the gallery.

Close by in this central space, Lynda Benglis has produced what looks like a pile of molten metal cast into a generic corner. This pile finds its particular fit amongst the London stone of Tate Britain flanked by occasional classical columns.

Then it is a short jog through St James’ Park to Pace Gallery where Jean Debuffet’s late collage works are on display from a private collection. They demonstrate a striking use of juxtaposition as hundreds of drawings appear to have sought each other out as though by a natural force and collected into several perfectly ordered groups. Each framed cluster is rich in narrative through its varied fragments, but yet is unified through similarities of colour, theme and other parameters far too subtle to even put into words.

Finally at Sadie Coles HQ, TJ Wilcox has produced three films using an interview style done with great sensitivity. The restauranteur Fergus Henderson describes the joys of food with engaging anecdotes and slowly one becomes aware too, through the direct and honest replies, about the interviewee’s illness and treatment for Parkinson’s disease. Though the speech is sometimes hard to follow, necessitating subtitles, the interview is full of life. I stand there for a full twenty minutes simply enjoying the story, the images and the slow revelation of someone’s fascinating life.

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Naoya Inose at Chelsea MA Fine Art, with great landscapes.

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Mikolaos Panagiotopoulos at Chelsea MA Fine Art with elegantly combined images of figures.

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Rachel Whiteread of Gagosian Gallery on show at Tate Britain.

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Lynda Benglis of Thomas Dane Gallery with a piece on show at Tate Britain.

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Michael Fullerton of Carl Freedman Gallery with a portrait of John Peel in Tate Britain.

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Jean Dubuffet at Pace London with images built up from drawings collages onto the canvas.

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Lucy McKenzie and Paulina Olowska with a striking piece up for auction.

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Danh Vo of Marian Goodman Gallery with a piece up for auction.

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TJ Wilcox at Sadie Coles HQ interviewing charismatic restaurateur Fergus Henderson. There was too much salt in a friend’s batch of cucumber soup.

Gallery run 6th July

Today is another hot day and with sun cream and cap at the ready, I head over Lambeth Bridge towards Pace Gallery just off Piccadilly. Nathalie Du Pasquier has created an installation out of the entire gallery. Central to the space is an inner room with walls painted red onto which four works have been hung. One artwork catches my eye here, comprising several chunky objects painted in separate primary colours but concealed behind a white screen allowing a multitude of shadows and colour combinations to be explored in their resulting still life depiction. Other paintings include factory-like images which occupy a strange middle space between the expanse of landscape and the intimate private space of a still-life set up. This is partly achieved through the artist having made wooden maquettes of the original objects before then painting these directly.

A few streets away in Golden Square, there is a group show at Frith Street Gallery and three artists catch my eye, Daniel Silver, Fiona Banner and Callum Innes. They have created, respectively, life-sized sculptures of elegant figures, strips of paper with heavily worked graphite surfaces and finally a painting of solid blocks of colour with delicate overworking that soften their geometric forms. With the temperature rising now towards midday I am switching vest and T-shirt over as I leave, in order to remain presentable in the galleries.

Along Eastcastle street, just north of Oxford Circus, I come to Pilar Corrias Gallery. Here another group show announces that summer is upon us, since this is a preferred format for this time of year, and there is some great work on show here too. Judith Bernstein has produced a fantastic depiction of life, the universe and everything in a single compact painting. Downstairs, Sophie Von Hellermann has joined two canvases together in the middle of the room to create an image that extends across their two surfaces up to the ceiling. It is a diving board but with a marvellous sense of light and colour that gives the art a fantastic sense of presence.

Finally at Alison Jacques Gallery I see two great artists on show. Of particular note are the artworks of Sue Dunkley. They are portraits of figures in social poses and situations and the best examples are two paintings each comprising two bathers. Though they inhabit a social space, the figures have a powerful sense of self-reflection and seem absorbed in their own consciousnesses uniting perfectly the public and the private lives of an individual. Now it is time to meet my Argentine relatives at our rendezvous just off Piccadilly and with their tickets loaded up on my iPhone, I will be taking them around a show.

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Nathalie Du Pasquier at Pace Gallery with simplified and striking cityscapes that merge into the genre of still life.

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Daniel Silver of Frith Street Gallery.

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Fiona Banner of Frith Street Gallery with graphite-laden strips of paper that have a metallic appearance.

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Callum Innes of Frith Street Gallery with a boldly articulated painting that also shows a delicacy with the uppermost layer.

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Judith Bernstein at Pilar Corrias with a fantastic piece.

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Sophie Von Hellermann of Vilma Gold exhibiting in a group show at Pilar Corrias.

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Sue Dunkley at Alison Jacques Gallery with vibrant figurative paintings.

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Jade Montserrat at Alison Jacques Gallery with intricate and thought-provoking drawings.

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The Old Kent Road tank has had a striking Mondrian makeover.