Gallery run 21st September

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Mary Webb at Hales Gallery with explorations of colour using rectangles as a recurring motif.

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Heidi Bucher at Parasol Unit with latex castings of interior spaces.

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Bit of a litter problem on Regent Street.

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Martine Syms at Sadie Coles with a wall piece that reads in the clockwise direction around the gallery and creates a stream of consciousness revealing amusing moments of self doubt.

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Kemang Wa Lehulere at Marian Goodman with images and sculpture based on South African strife.

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Bob And Roberta Smith at Royal Academy Of Arts with some large scale works, including these door pieces.

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Harold Ancart at David Zwirner with sublime paintings of glaciers.

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Daniel Richter of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac with paintings inspired by figures and abstraction.

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Gary Simmons of Simon Lee with images that suggest the cinema. Names of black actors and their films have undergone a process of partial erasure.

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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 18th January

With an invite to the Foundling Museum this morning it is necessary to divide the day into two halves. The first half will be in the East and the second half in the West. Parasol Gallery, the first stop of the day, is hosting Lisa Milroy, an artist who rose to prominence in the 1990’s. Her distinctive style is a grid pattern of objects standing out against canvas backgrounds and onto which there appear to have been cast drop-shadows. The pairs of black shiny shoes make a particularly strong impression in one of the older works, actually borrowed from Tate’s collection, since they go beyond the literal representation of an object and evoke additional associations notably of mussel shells. Such metaphorical readings of paintings often come from powerful childhood memories and whilst these certainly reside within myself, it is impossible to know if such associations are also shared by the artist. A small biographical detail recently provided by a friend, that the artist frequented a stunning beach close to Liverpool inhabited by razor mussels in their thousands, adds support to this further association but ultimately just confirms our own love of resemblances.

The theme of childhood memory is one that also underpins the new show at the Foundling Museum, a show aimed for children who may have lost a vital connection to their environment. Poet and writer Robert Macfarlane has turned away from our mediated worlds of digital technology and taken us on a stroll through nature while artist Jackie Morris has produced accompanying illustrations of the poet’s main themes to depict a world populated by birds, some resting on twigs, another with a pebble held delicately in its beak. What we see is a sort of hybrid world that never really leaves culture behind, for the gold-leaf backgrounds in many of the artist’s images are often more pleasing to the eye than those in which the complex structures of trees and vegetation have been presented. Perhaps nature is only digestible in small quantities. Following this theme, we find the most lucid and beautiful quote in the press release to be one that is actually set against the cultural reality of Pokamon characters. A child may be able to name over a hundred of these cultural brands, the artists inform us, but when it comes to naming the species and genera of our own natural habitats this number falls dramatically.

What does the window panel of an envelope mean? This is one of the questions that arises at Sadie Coles HQ where Darren Bader presents a room with a few highly collectable art sculptures mixed with tat, but where the buyer is not informed as to which is the art since this is precisely the nature of the game. In one sense then, all the work is art including the tat, since just as in a landscape the figure can only be picked out in contrast to a less busy background, here the artworks would only take their full meaning when viewed in relation to the much weaker objects that surround them. But this would be to miss the point which is that the viewer or potential buyer is expected to put their own judgement on the line, and this brings us back to the envelope windows. Are they art or simply the incidental and spontaneous product of HQ’s recycling activity? That they are reminiscent of any activity at all is why they get the thumbs up from me as accomplished artwork but this is an easy thing to say, whereas it is for the dedicated punter to make the real decision on this through a purchase.

Finally, at Thomas Dane Gallery Phillip King is presenting a fabulous multi-coloured installation using painted objects that appear to have been constructed out of wooden sheet. Large circular holes punctuate a central piece that makes it appear like a giant block of cheese. Though the yellow is provided not by the object itself, which is actually a bright lime green, but by the painted wall behind, the association of colour is nevertheless strong enough to impart the idea of food to it. In all there are several of these objects propped up against each other and the overall effect is to create a space reminiscent of a stage set where the viewer can move around and observe the curiosities of colour juxtapositions and perspectival lines.

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Lisa Milroy at Parasol Unit. Shoes, distinctive flat style, fab painting in general, but also a passing resemblance don’t you think to hinged mussel shells?

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Oli Epp at Beers London.

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Jackie Morris at Foundling Museum has produced images to accompany poetry by Robert Macfarlane.

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Christina Quarles at Pilar Corrias as part of Condo.

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Gerasimos Floratis at Pilar Corrias as part of the #Condo project where artists from different galleries do a temporary exchange.

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Koppe Astner at Sadie Coles HQ part of Condo.

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? at Sadie Coles HQ. There is a room full of conceptual sculptures including this one made up of envelope windows. Four are by A-lister Darren Bader and a few others are by guests, the rest is intended to be tat! The catch is none of the sculptures are labelled and prospective buyers are invited to take a punt. I fancy this one to be a quality piece.

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Phillip King at Thomas Dane Gallery with an installation of bold forms.

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Martin Kippenberger at Christie’s.

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.

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

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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.

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Regent’s Canal.

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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.

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Martin Puryear at Parasol Unit with beautifully crafted sculptures.

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

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

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

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

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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Fiona Ackerman at Beers London.

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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.

Gallery run 5th April

Regent’s Canal from Hackney.

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John McAllister of Carl Freedman Gallery with negative-like natural imagery.

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On Brick Lane.

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Maeve Brennan at Chisenhale Gallery with a documentary film following 3 characters who assemble or care for discarded or disintegrated objects in Lebanon. Here the car restorer in a scrapyard.

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Richard Tuttle of Stuart Shave Modern Art with latest of almost 200 solo shows.

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Secundino Hernandez of Victoria Miro with a giant palette piece.

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Elizabeth McAlpine of Laura Bartlett Gallery showing work inspired by film’s materiality. A 100 minute movie film stacked up in individual frames and presented as vertical columns totalling about 15metres.

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Elger Esser at Parasol Unit with dreamlike photos from a large format camera.

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Julien Tiberi at Parasol Unit with crowding stone figures.

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Brick Lane bicycle.

Gallery run 16th February

River Lea to Hackney.

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Do Ho Suh of Victoria Miro with a fabric copy of interior spaces.

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Tschabalala Self at Parasol Unit with distinctive figures.

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Nathaniel Rackowe at Parasol Unit with an illuminated and brightly coloured shed interior contrasted to a classic black exterior.

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Sebastian Neeb at Beers London with gilded ceramics in a group show.

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Invader in Hackney

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Sebastian Stohrer of Carl Freedman Gallery showing ceramic sculptures based on surreal forest-like vegetation.

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Elizabeth Magill of Wilkinson Gallery in a show featuring landscapes.

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Simon Dybbroe Moller of Laura Bartlett Gallery with an unlikely but recognisable alteration to the colour of lettuce leaves.

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Anj Smith at Wilkinson Gallery in a group show with some of the gallery artists.