Gallery run 7th February

The Regent’s Canal highway describes a sort of subjective experience of running on the towpath between Hackney and Regent’s Park. Though not particularly fast in the physical sense the towpath seems quick in a kind of existential sense, namely that with several galleries dotted along its route a sensation of speed is produced by the sheer lack of things that need to be done or thought about during the journey. A few glances at boats, the occasional meandering daydream is all that separates one gallery on the canal from the next. Suddenly the finger is on the buzzer awaiting entry to Victoria Miro Gallery. Jorge Pardo, who is of Cuban American extraction and now living in Mexico, is showing wall-mounted structures that resemble beautifully coloured screens. They are painted, but not in a traditional sense, for the colour emerges from an interaction of minute speckles of paint which have either been created from abrasions into a surface of many layers or, and this seems the case here, have in fact been created completely intentionally by a programmed computer and application device. A thin hair’s-breadth groove around each speckle provides the clue that the speckles themselves have been applied with deliberate intent. On a larger scale, that is on the scale of the entire objects, we see rhythmic patterns running right across their surfaces. Waves and flow lines appear as the eye scans the intricately cut plastic and fibrous sheets. For the lamps this experience is enhanced further by the presence of the interior light source which provides a strong contrast between material and void. In addition this light source promotes a change of geometry in the object. Rather than being planar, as was the case with the wall mounted works, these lamp-like objects are radial. Intricately cut sheets of coloured plexi-glass fan out from the centre, like an elaborate array of coloured cooling fins, conveying their subtle glows to the object’s fragmented surface.

Back on the canal highway, Regent’s Park soon offers a route south to the West End. At Simon Lee Gallery, there is a display of the late works by Hans Hartung. Accompanying this display is a film that shows the artist in a wheel chair, since he is an old man, spraying and flicking paint across large expanses of canvas. Known for his gestural abstraction, the artist is now using a prosthetic device comprising a stick wand and spray nozzle. In the gallery we see the result and how the artist succeeds in his express intention of mimicking the forces of nature. Partly these forces reside within the paint itself causing the drops to cling to one another or else suddenly break free as though they were a shower of ejecting particles, but there is a deeper connection to nature too, manifest most clearly when the work has taken on more complex forms such as a spiral motif in one outstanding example. Here it is as though the artist has attuned himself to the various rhythms that define the universe itself allowing him to represent the more complex forces that create the various spinning and oscillating systems around us.

With Corvi Mora and Greengrassi galleries pairing up this month, several artists are on display in the main viewing space and it requires careful checking of the paperwork to determine which gallery is associated with which artist. Tatsuo Ikeda who as it turns out is with Greengrassi, though in previous years has also exhibited with the blue-chip giant Gagosian, has produced surreal drawings of figures sporting various limbs for locomotion, as well as prosthetic cones. The artwork is very proficient, which allows us not only to enjoy the images, but also to engage with the various distortions of nature without rejecting them on the grounds of incredulity. The images are therefore accepted on account of their near photographic-like appearance. As a passing observation it seems that the two dominant features of these works, namely their Surrealism and their Realism of execution, turn out to be unlikely bedfellows, despite the apparent contradiction of these two terms.

Jorge Pardo at Victoria Miro with laser cut plastic in exotic lamps that nevertheless look very traditional.

Pablo Bronstein of Herald Street Gallery showing drawings at RIBA of pseudo-Georgian architecture.

Matt Saunders of Marian Goodman Gallery.

Hans Hartung at Simon Lee Gallery with paintings from late in his career made using spray nozzles and paint-covered olive branches that he could manipulate from his wheelchair.

Estate near Greengrassi and Corv iMora galleries looking resplendent against a blue sky this afternoon.

Tatsuo Ikeda at Greengrassi group show for Condo 2018.

Kye Christensen Knowles at Corvi Mora and Greengrassi group show as part of Condo 2018.

John Lindell at Corvi Mora for Condo 2018.

Sable E Smith at Greengrassi and Corvi Mora group show as part of Condo 2018.


Gallery run 1st December

Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, Sprovieri and BlainSouthern are amongst the latest venues to be checked out on this week’s run. The first on this list, Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac, is showing work by Arnulf Rainer, Lee Bul and Medardo Rosso, whose displays are in the various ornate rooms and hallway spaces that fill a classically styled building. Due to the precious nature of Medardo Rosso’s sculptures, a specially sealed room has been created. It has curtains on both its doorways and a heater that raises the temperature to considerably higher than the freezing day outside. Apart from this unexpected warmth, the sculptures themselves offer a real pleasure for the viewer. They actually appear to have emerged from chunks of matter bringing with them a strange life-force to the blocks of inanimate material from which they are cast.

At Sprovieri, the artists Ilya and Emilia Kabakov, who are enjoying a current major retrospective at the Tate, have three paintings on display. Each of these paintings explores the relations between the surface plane of a painting and its picture plane, in other words the physical surface of an image and the illusory perspectival space that lies just beneath it. This dual space of a painting was truly liberated 100 years ago with Russian Suprematism, we are told in the press release. To use an extended metaphor of my own, the angular forms of the new avant-guard movements managed to haul themselves out of the illusionistic world of landscape and still-life, to sit on the paintings’ surfaces, rather as the first amphibians, in fact, had found themselves liberated from water and free to roam land! In this particular show the artists have employed angular forms that are reminiscent of Suprematism but painted in muted pastel hues and beneath these shapes are various rural landscapes. This duality not only adds narrative interest, but also demonstrates as a fate accomplis, the simultaneous existence of the two different painterly spaces the artists were keen to depict.

At Blain Southern, a gallery my friend has recommended to visit, James White is displaying paintings of glasses and associated objects. Catching a glimpse of them through the window last week, they looked like black and white photographs but this week they are revealed as highly realistic monochrome paintings. Every cut in the crystal of various glasses unleashes a new cascade of white paint executed in small brushstrokes. Close up their materiality is clearly discernible but from afar they dissolve into an overall impression of light.

The rest of the run is dictated by the cold weather, since a dead phone (and need for mince pies) necessitates a jog to Hampstead, albeit through some lovely parkland, and then back again in search of Apple HQ and a new battery. The process of queuing for the item actually provides the necessary warmth to bring the phone back to life and to photograph some remaining artworks. At Hauser and Wirth, Jakub Julian Ziolkowski is displaying some vivid paintings, whilst at Raven Row, and with the battery still surviving, Gianfranco Barruchello has produced drawings that resemble mind maps. A container is made with a few pen strokes and encloses several pinkish spheres. From here a cartoonish figure starts to come to life, as though the imagination has bestowed upon these spheres the power to regenerate into a network of vital organs. Perhaps the artist has tapped into yet another type of space then, a third type in addition to the picture surface and illusionistic spaces previously described, a space where the artwork is a trigger of images without needing to provide all the details itself.

Arnulf Rainer at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac with abstract works from the 50s and 60s.

Medardo Rosso with early 20th century works at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Kehinde Wiley of Stephen Friedman Gallery with paintings of brave boat steerers adopting heroic poses from famous western paintings.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Sprovieri with compositions experimenting with relations between the image and picture planes.

James White of Blain Southern with intricate painted monochromes featuring transparent materials in close-up often invoking narratives.

Jakub Julian Ziolkowski of Hauser and Wirth with images by his invented alter-ego, who depicts nature as it is sensed rather than seen.

Monika Sosnowska of Hauser and Wirth with sculptures from industrial materials, including steel reinforcement bars here.

Luciano Fabro showing iconic works from the 60s at Simon Lee Gallery.

Gianfranco Baruchello of Massimo De Carlo showing at RavenRow. Detailed drawings resemble mind maps.

Gallery run 8th September

Today is wet and with the forecast suggesting continuous rain all day apart from a two hour window in the late morning, it is fortunate that all the galleries lie close together in the West End. The Photographer’s Museum is free before 12 and this morning slot also fits well with the gap in clouds overhead. Gregory Crewdson is showing photographs in which a small town and surrounding forrest have played host to several tableaux created by the artist and his team of assistants. Human figures are captured in the images perfectly lit behind windows or amongst landscapes. The effect is to reveal simultaneously both the details of a facial feature and those of a receding landscape. Technically this probably means an astonishingly deep depth of field and what the blurb described as a film crew whose size is normally associated with a movie.

Having marvelled at these works the next destination is Pilar Corrias Gallery. Tshcabalala Self has themed her first show here around the Bodega, the US equivalent of the corner shop. Lots of bottles of pop line the shelves. They seem to stand as a sort of cypher for the artist’s own memories of these shops. In addition to paint, the images use collage and stitched fabric. Even the gallery itself plays a role in the artwork. Three neon signs hang in the window and anti-theft mirrors are installed in each corner of the gallery, like the type the shop keeper glances up at from behind the till.

The rain has now started and after arriving at David Zwirner Gallery it is necessary to dry off in a porch opposite for a few minutes to remove any obvious signs of a soaking. Downstairs Lucas Arruda has displayed delicate landscapes and upstairs Suzan Frecon is displaying the studies for large abstract paintings she would go on to produce, though they themselves are not on display here.

Finally there are two further excursions from under the rain protection of overhanging facades. First at Simon Lee Gallery, Jeff Elrod has exhibited paintings composed chiefly of spray paint. The effect is to create an abstract surface and is exemplified by a fantastic large scale work upstairs that resists any attempt for the eyes to focus upon it. In that sense the painting offers an experience to the viewer that is almost physical. The last excursion, which is to Thomas Dane Gallery reveals an interesting twist to the standard summer group show format. Here the works are given 9 hours of individual air time in the empty gallery before returning to the packing cases, which themselves are all on display. Eventually, though, a sort of climax is scheduled to take place wherein all the individually displayed works will go up in the gallery at the same time. As the curator explains, this should have an interesting effect as each piece re-appropriates its piece of wall in a packed display, perhaps displacing others sideways in the process.

Now with the weather unexpectedly clearing up and only a short distance covered up to this point, I head west to build up the miles and attempt to convert these fragmented visits to the galleries into something more resembling an actual gallery run.

Spot the loo roll!
Gregory Crewdson at The Photographers Gallery with a body of work depicting life in an American town and surrounding forrest. The photos are carefully staged tableaux.

Tschabalala Self of Pilar Corrias with paintings of a type of corner shop called a #Bodega. Spot the anti theft mirror you would find in the corner shop.

Hernan Bas at Victoria Miro Gallery with paintings of revellers and rebels in Cambridge.

Mark Hagen uses a gloss white surface on a canvas-like support in this composition shown at Sotheby’s St George St.

Aaron Young at Sotheby’s.

Lucas Arruda at David Zwirner with delicate landscape. They have immaculate matt surfaces, revealed by the complete lack of glare when photographed.

Suzan Frecon at David Zwirner with delicate studies for larger abstract pieces on show in New York.

Jeff Elrod of Simon Lee Gallery with paintings using spray paint.

Lari Pittman at Thomas Dane Gallery waiting to be displayed. The gallery displays each work for just 9 hours in this group show. Later on in September all the works go on display together.


Gallery run 29th June

Today is the RCA degree show in Wandsworth and with a midday opening time, the run will start slightly later and will incorporate a zigzag to the bacon sandwich van parked outside Wandsworth’s recycling depot. The woman frying the bacon is quite chatty and says she has been up working since 6am, whilst in turn I tell her I have come along the Thames from Peckham on a gallery run.

At the degree show, two adjacent rooms stand out as exceptional containing respectively the work of MA sculpture student Rosie Reed and MA painting student Feline Minne. The work by the the sculptor has a sense of abandon to it. A stack of pots and brushes are covered in paint whilst alongside stand three towers containing yet more paint-covered pots. They resemble those organic chimneys found above termite nests to provide ventilation for the colony. Clearly there are formal principles behind the work but there is also a sort of mimesis that one finds sometimes in art whereby the very thing that gives rise to anxiety, namely dirty brushes and pots, is thrust into the artwork itself and becomes its subject. Meanwhile the paintings in the adjacent room maintain this sense of freedom using loosely applied paint which somehow has a chunkiness to it despite its application in thin drippy layers.

Further east along the Thames, having doubled back almost the entire route, is Cabinet gallery set amongst its fantastic location of Vauxhall zoo. Inside, the artworks of Gillian Carnegie are no less alive than the goats that are roaming outside. The paintings somehow retain one vital ingredient that is lost to the poorer pretenders of her craft of still life. This ingredient is time, and not just the time of execution which looks considerable, but rather the time embodied in hundreds of fleeting glimpses captured in the single image. Much of this is down to her treatment of light which marks each glimpse with its own stamp of authenticity.

Further into town, another captivating painter is showing at Sadie Coles HQ in Davies Street. I analyse how Nicola Tyson has skilfully blown up her original sketches to produce vibrant large-scale images which maintain the freshness of the absent original. This is partly achieved by brushwork that applies blocks of colour in single swipes thereby exhibiting a constant element of risk. For me on the other hand, tiredness is starting to kick in now. My legs still hurt slightly from the mammoth run last week. Nevertheless I get myself across Regent’s Street to the little oasis of Golden Square where Marian Goodman Gallery is displaying two major artists, one established from the 60’s and the other relatively new.

Downstairs Giovanni Anselmo, the established practitioner of art povera, has secured marble blocks on to the wall. Unlike the blocks on the floor which have been cut beautifully by a band saw and then worked on further with a drill, these appear to be hewn much more crudely and naturally. Upstairs, the artist Adrian Villar Rojas has created a stunning sculpture. It is basically the legs of the famous statue of David set in a fantastic marble-floored auditorium but containing on its plinth along with the well known tree stump that supports David’s right leg, two playfully rendered kittens that appear to be kissing. Photos secured and art feasted upon, it is time now to head off home.

Invader on Lambeth High Street.

Rosie Reed at RCA Graduate Exhibition with painted brushes pots and objects.

Feline Minne at RCA Graduate Exhibition with great paintings.

Gillian Carnegie of Cabinet Gallery with beautifully depicted flowers and leaves.

Ryuji Tanaka at Simon Lee Gallery. The paintings have a powerful material quality.

Nicola Tyson of Sadie Coles HQ with beautifully vibrant paintings.

Gabriel Kuri of Sadie Coles HQ has created an installation incorporating these standard steel cubes. Each has circular inserts containing different small objects. Here, money.

Giovanni Anselmo of Marian Goodman Gallery with dramatically positioned rocks.

Adrian Villar Rojas of Marian Goodman Gallery with the bottom part of David and some kissing kittens.


Gallery run 5th May

This week’s run is the big one up to Highgate which I do when a new show is on at the Camden Arts Centre near Hampstead. There is just enough time to get round the 6+ hour circuit and with the sun shining, I set off. First stop is Brick Lane to pick up an apple strudel from Bagel Bake and build up the carbs. Then north to the Regent’s Canal…Islington….Finsbury Park….Parkland Walk. This is a stunning disused railway line with trees and graffiti. A mother panics briefly as her child has lagged behind, but quickly reappears thankfully and jogs on past me. A bicycle bell then rings behind me and as I step to one side a child thanks me as she shoots past catching up with her mum. Then onwards to ….Highgate….Hampstead Heath….two ponds and Louie’s and more carbs. Then the steep decline of Arkwright Road before arriving at the Camden Arts Centre. As I read the blurb on the hallway wall before going into the gallery, the assistant sneezes. “Bless you” seems a good thing to say. Going into the gallery, the name Paul Johnson seems familiar to me from the list of artists I have memorised from the galleries on my running circuits. Bruce Haines gallery possibly. This is confirmed by the BH gallery’s homepage, news splash. Sculptural shapes dominate the space, some carefully manufactured and others made from stacked detritus. Together they create a strong unified installation. In the gallery next door Greta Bratescu, who is still making work in her nineties, has a retrospective with some beautiful little drawings accompanying photographs and stitched fabric. Then it is south to Lisson Gallery. Anish Kapoor is showing new work including a concave mirror with the top half edited out using an unreflective layer. The effect is striking as the reflected objects move in relation to this stationary surface responding to the viewer’s own movements. Further down Bell Street at the other gallery, Djurberg and Berg are showing cartoon-like characters that have submitted to base desires and appear to be having a great time in their rectangular tableaux world. At Gagosian Gallery further south I enter the darkened setting of a Picasso show featuring bulls and minotaurs. An attendant shakes his head as I point to the phone and therefore no photo but a great show and some beautiful paintings. In Simon Lee Gallery there is the smell of fresh paint. The paintings have been covered in a silver surface which has then been raked off to reveal colourful underpainting. Then the final leg south to the building that jointly houses Greengrassi and Corvi-Mora. Downstairs Brian Calvin has made pop-art style portraits that are very expressive but beautifully simplified. Upstairs Giuseppe Gabellone has made a carefully crafted crate from bamboo and carved supporting units into which some organic shapes gently nestle. That is the ninth and last photo of the day.

Parkland Walk is a disused railway route turned into a nature reserve.

Hampstead Heath pond which I passed on the way back south from Highgate.

Paul Johnson of Bruce Haines Mayfair showing at Camden Arts Centre with sculptures mingled with consumer detritus.

Greta Bratescu at Camden Arts Centre. Drawings and thought provoking objects from the nonagenarian artist.

Anish Kapoor of Lisson Gallery with beautifully crafted concave mirrors and other objects.

Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg of Lisson Gallery with objects and cartoon-like figures doing whatever they want with no inhibitions.

Garth Weisler at Simon Lee Gallery with layered paintings all presenting a pleasing silver grid line surface.

Brian Calvin showing at Corvi Mora with simplified but expressive faces.

Giuseppe Gabellone at Greengrassi with what looks like a flat-pack object, but presented on a crate that follows the organic outlines with some of its wooden structure.


Gallery run 17th March

River Thames to Hackney.

Sam Durant at Sadie Coles HQ with protest slogans made beautiful in light boxes.

Claudio Parmiggiani at Simon Lee Gallery with a soot print made from a fire in a specially set up library. These prints are on boards that were placed behind the shelves and books and then the soot wafted through.

Roberto Matta at Robilant Voena with psychic landscapes and imagery that inspired the surrealists.

Rodney Graham at Canada Gallery in Canada House. A survey of his work.

Alicja Kwade at Whitechapel Gallery with celestial imagery using iPhones that rotate but continually use their orientation sensor to pick out the correct region of space in front of themselves to depict on the screen.

Jaki Irvine at Frith Street Gallery with a sound and video installation. It has a song she wrote herself in a traditional Irish style. Also there is an historic account of the 1916 Easter rising in Southern Island. Though risking execution as traitors many women took part and the artist celebrates them here.

Chris Succo at Almine Rech Gallery with paint and spray paint compositions from life.

Georg Baselitz at Michael Werner showing work from 77-92 and continuing a relationship with the gallery that goes back to the early 60’s.

Lisa Brice at Stephen Friedman Gallery showing blue drawing paintings of women in contemplative poses usually unaware of any external viewer.


Gallery run 16th February

Battersea, then east along the Thames.

Stephen Sutcliffe at Simon Lee Gallery. This artist has also exhibited with Rob Tufnell.

Vauxhall City Farm in the heart of London.

John McCracken of Almine Rech Gallery with early plastic sculptures.

Sonia Boyce at ICA, with multi screen installations of choreographed sound and movement.

Jana Euler at Cabinet Gallery with images of objects that have somehow had their edges moved to the middle.

Antoni Tapies of Timothy Taylor. Late works.

Sherrie Levine of Simon Lee Gallery with cartoon imagery in artist made frame.

DeWain Valentine of Almine Rech Gallery with translucent plastic sculptures in a group show.

Dennis Oppenheim at Simon Lee Gallery with a video installation.