Gallery run 9th March

The day begins with a jog up to White Cube Gallery in Mason’s Yard. Minjung Kim has used traditional Korean craft techniques to lay down layers of ultra-thin mulberry tree paper into rhythmic compositions. The paper has many uses outside of art in the artist’s native country including as window panes, due to its strength even in thin layers allowing light to diffuse between the various natural fibres. Downstairs, the artworks are vividly coloured. The paper has been dyed and applied in layers, with each piece burnt along one edge in a ritualistic gesture by the artist, one that we are told is accompanied by the smell of incense and a discipline of complete silence. The overall effect on the artworks is to create textured regions of intense colour reminiscent of flowers and natural vegetation.

In Sprueth and Magers just across Piccadilly, Anthony McCall is displaying a light installation. His use of a smoke-like mist in these light-works, allows the experience to be a 3D one rather than just the conveyance of an image from one flat medium, a digital Jpeg in a projector, to a screen on the far wall. Yes, the screen is still present as the final destination for the image, but the light wends its way through wisps of smoke, like in those cigarette-friendly cinemas of one’s youth, catching the little eddies of particles on the way, creating straight shimmering beams of light across the room. The image itself is simple enough, a single line that is curved into an ellipse, sometimes perfectly rounded, sometimes dislocated into a stepped join between end and beginning, but the transition between the two is captivating as the digital projector slowly cycles from the one to the other.

At Grosvenor Hill a few hundred metres further on, is the Gagosian Gallery. A burst of applause echoes from within the furthest room. Glenn Brown had given me a great tutorial twenty years ago and he is instantly recognisable as the same chap. With his address to a group of visitors in the background and my own sketchy knowledge of some of his main artistic concerns gleaned during that generous four hour tutorial, the work on display takes on an extra depth. The painting is ultra flat as many of us would be familiar with, whilst the waxy trails of paint from the historical canon he explores, are simulated with intricate brushwork. These labour intensive works used to net the artist just a couple of pounds an hour, a fact which he presented as a footnote to the precarious business of being an artist, during the aforementioned tutorial. It was interesting to hear from this address that whilst the paintings are still labour intensive, twenty years later, the intricate sketching style of some of the accompanying drawings is actually very quick to execute. Here, expertise of his medium appears to have allowed the artist to bend some of those time constraints of the beautiful painted works, and create an image that takes on the same rapid fluidity as those very lines he has imitated.

A second major gallery sits just round the corner and is the home of Almine Rech. Gunther Forg has several large photographs on display of variously imposing buildings. These are neo-classical in style and each is emblazoned with a title depicting the particular institution it houses. Whilst the titles such as GEOLOGIA and MUSICA are true to the original photographs, rendered in various block capitals in concrete or metal, and sitting above the grand entranceways, they nevertheless form a more extended and general index of knowledge, one which is familiar to us from library shelves and TV documentaries. Meanwhile, the buildings have a grand scale themselves, both in their photographic representation and in their actual physical size. Presented together along one wall, the images appear monumental and we get that rare sense of an illusionistic space that is actually bigger than the expansive gallery it has been presented in.

Minjung Kim at White Cube who makes images from thin layers of mulberry tree paper.

Tonico Lemos Auad of Stephen Friedman.

Bjarne Melgaard of Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac with recently finished work that fills the room with an aroma of linseed oil and paint from their drying surfaces.

Sturtevant at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

Anthony McCall at Sprueth Magers with slowly moving light projections, which uses a smoke-like substance in addition to a screen, to capture the image. The public are encouraged to move through the space and disrupt the image.

Bosco Sodi of Blain Southern with a piece at Philips.

Glenn Brown of Gagosian showing paintings where the brush marks of oil paint are simulated with a flat almost photographic surface.

Gunther Forg of Almine Rech.

Sculptures on Grosvenor Hill.


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 20th October

At Stephen Friedman Gallery Rivane Nauenschwander has produced an installation based on the Brazilian version of the board game known in the UK as risk. Flags represent the individual countries that the players would normally roll dice for in their pursuit of world domination. Long all-nighters with friends playing this game have imbued this artwork with a particular aura for me. Round the corner in Grafton Street Sprueth Magers have been doing a refit to their gallery. It looks very slick and the formerly creaking floorboards have now been lovingly preserved and firmly secured. Gary Hume has experimented with gloss paint on paper and the effect is very interesting. The painted surface takes on a mottled form due to the paper support yielding in some way to the gloss, yet it still looks as though it has the solidity of a worked and beaten metal support.

Further down Grafton Street at David Zwirner, Sherrie Levine is displaying work made by re-photographing some iconic images made in a 1940 project to document rural American life during The Great Depression. The display itself is striking with about 50 images hung in a perfect grid on the gallery wall. After visiting this hub of three closely placed galleries the next stop is Grosvenor Hill where Almine Rech and Gagosian have created a new hub comprising two expansive white spaces. The former gallery is showing Ernst Wilhelm Nay. The abstract paintings are reminiscent of seeds and foliage yet they are not restricted to this interpretation. This ambiguity lends them an additional magic which also complements their perfect balance of colour.

The word is out that Almine Rech and Gagosian have teamed up with the estate of Tom Wesselmann. Both galleries have produced identical press releases describing the artist’s shaped canvases that predominate in his series of bedroom paintings. Various bedside objects such as clocks and designer lamps interweave the limbs, feet and hands that the artist has sketched and then blown up into full size paintings. In the Gagosian on Davies Street a subtle black and white maquette of two painted boards placed in front of one another simulate the two ends of a bed. A large pair of elegant feet obscure the rest of a body whilst the lamp peers out from further behind. This completes the Mayfair region for today and now it is time to embark on the old favourite route along the Regent’s canal whereupon one arrives at the gas storage frameworks that offer a familiar landmark for Hackney.

Two of the new galleries exhibiting at Frieze this year are Campoli Presti and Hales gallery, whilst a new artist has been taken on at Herald Street, called Jessi Reaves. These additions offer the chance to see three new artists in this region of the city which is really the birthing place for new talent and with its exceptionally high rate of Turner Prize nominations is also sustainable in its own right with no need to interact with or be fostered by the Mayfair galleries to the west. Jessi Reaves is an American artist and hence of international importance, who makes sculptures from old furniture. The assistant in the gallery invites me to sit down on the rebuilt comfy chairs and this highlights the critical space that the work operates in, being utilitarian in some respects but stripped of any designer chic. Concluding this exploration after a quick stop at Beigal Bake is a visit to Hales gallery. Since its early days on Deptford High Street as a well respected gallery cafe, it has now become important internationally. Frank Bowling is one of seventeen artists on their books and he is showing colourful abstract paintings incorporating small objects offered up by friends, as well as cutting and sewing, which all contribute to a complex and interesting surface.

Rivane Neuenschwander of Stephen Friedman Gallery with an installation based on the board game risk. Each flag represents a risk territory. On the back is written “war”. This would be “risk” in the Uk version.

This paving slab on Grafton Street appears to be made up of two parts?

The gallery is open again! Gary Hume of Sprueth Magers uses his trademark gloss to produce a mottled finish on paper in his new works.

Sherrie Levine has rephotographed and appropriated American Depression photos of farmers by Russell Lee. What was once an attempt to boost morale when they were made in 1940 has now become historical document. Shown at David Zwirner gallery.

Ernst Wilhelm Nay at Almine Rech Gallery. Beautiful images with natural motifs but in bright colours.

Brice Marden of Gagosian using terre verte, green earth pigment, from several well known paint suppliers, has produced 9 canvases of varying greenness.

Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian with Bedroom Paintings.

Jessi Reaves of Herald Street with sculpted furniture, cut up and reassembled.

Frank Bowling of Hales Gallery with abstract compositions on stitched canvases.


Gallery run 23rd June

Today’s run is about 30 miles taking a large loop out to Chiswick, where my friend Suzanne from our ACME studios is showing. After looking at her works, which are studies of Brixton market, I head north to Acton and then east along the Grand Union Canal. As there are no galleries here I visit some places I have worked in, though of no relevance to Gallery Runner.

Eventually I arrive at Hyde Park and see the beautiful new pavilion by Diebedo Francis Kere. It looks like a chieftain’s palace with slatted roof and stained block-wood sides whilst being structured around an immaculate white metal frame that gives it further credentials as a piece of cutting edge architecture. Then I head on to the Royal Academy. After having photographed a couple of great works by Danny Rolph and Frank Stella, that I remember from my previous visit last week, I note the number of my painting and check the front sales desk to see if it has a red dot next to it yet. No, is the answer to that one.

Round the back of the RA on Old Burlington Street is Stephen Friedman Gallery. It has been influential in this year’s RA Summer Exhibition because of the contributions from its own artist, Yinka Shonibare, both by his curating and from his artworks there. In Stephen Friedman Gallery itself there is an unlikely but fascinating exhibition of material-based artworks that explore stretched canvas through a multitude of distortions and interventions that have been enacted upon it by sixteen artists.

Finally today I check out the RA School’s degree show. Work by Josephine Baker-Heaslip catches my eye due to great patterns she has created with stacked bricks whilst containing them in their entirety within wooden cut-out structures that hold the various brick forms in place. The bricks themselves have been painted on some of their faces with earthy but bright colours and make lovely artworks. After a quick half pint and the time now seven and a half hours past my departure time this morning, a marathon already achieved, there is a last hour remaining for the return home.

Suzanne Baker exhibiting images made on location in Brixton Market.

Diebedo Francis Kere Serpentine Pavillion with a beautiful mix of materials.

Danny Rolph at RA Summer Show 2017 using a classic building material to great aesthetic effect.

Frank Stella of Spruth Magers Gallery exhibiting at RA Summer Show 2017.

Channing Hansen at Stephen Friedman Gallery using knitting to create coloured forms stretched across frames.

Gunther Uecker at Stephen Friedman Gallery using nails to great effect.

Zilia Sanchez at Stephen Friedman Gallery using canvas stretched across simple objects to create a beautiful simple piece.

Zsofi Margit at RA Schools Show 2017 using painted MDF to create the illusion of reflecting glass.

Josephine Baker Heaslip at RA Schools Show 2017 using painted bricks to great effect.


Gallery run 10th May

Today I headed towards St James’ Park and then into Stephen Friedman gallery where Mamma Andersson is showing paintings and woodblock prints. After checking out both galleries I go into Sainsbury’s off Berkeley Square and buy a croissant as a mid-morning snack. Then I make my way north to Sadie Coles in Davies Street to see Jordan Wolfson’s show. I photograph a rather sinister looking red plastic house with teeth and nose moulded in the roof and then go upstairs where a shock awaits. An assistant helps me put on virtual reality headset and headphones whilst warning me to hold a metal grab rail at all times. It is not an electric shock from the grab rail, but from some grotesque ultra-violence that awaits from the headset. The grab rail is probably there in case someone faints. For the first thing I see is someone taking a massive swing at a defenceless victim using a baseball bat. I close my eyes, too embarrassed to remove the headset straight away in front of the assistant and as the beating continues I catch more glimpses of the victim, through half closed eyes, now unconscious on the street which incidentally is Davies street filmed outside the gallery. “That was intense”, I mutter, as I leave in slight shock. Going south now across Piccadilly I arrive at Thomas Dane Gallery, where the sculptor Terry Adkins has assembled stacks of tin pans and lids on poles protruding from the gallery walls. The route to the Thames from here passes through Trafalgar Square and here the street performers have laid out their chalk flags on the pavement and gathered people around the sound system. The river weaves its way eastwards and I follow its north bank past City School and then into a walkway that divides a recycling facility with a large four-wheeled crane straddling the divide and visible above as it shifts giant shipping crates. At Brick Lane I refuel with a smoked salmon bagel and then check into Kate MacGarry Gallery where Dr Lakra, a Mexican artist, has made totemic sculptures based on ancient South American figurines but crossed with 20th century icons including E.T.. Peer gallery is next where James Pyman has exhibited intricate pencil drawings from images linked to his own childhood including to comic books. A tragic tale unfolds as I listen to the artist recounting the story of everyone’s second favourite comic book artist but I am not here to spoil the ending. As the run draws to an end I reach the last stage which is White Cube in Bermondsey Street. Larry Bell had created a chemical cupboard in the 70’s and has developed a trademark style of pearlescent finishes used in geometric abstractions and also some beautiful figurative works on display here. In the adjacent gallery I take what I think is the last photo of the day, entranced by a stunning orange vase with minimal design imparted to its surface by the artist Jurgen Partenheimer. But running through Bermondsey Square Lucy Tomlins sculpture of Atlas fallen from the pedestal catches my eye and I find the right angle to show off her excellent stone work as the sun catches the bridge of its nose.

I was stopped in my tracks by a policeman as the pavement had been shut just before these guards emerged.

Mamma Andersson at Stephen Friedman Gallery with delicate paintings from nature.

Jordan Wolfson at Sadie Coles HQ with striking and disturbing objects and films.

Terry Adkins at Thomas Dane Gallery with evocative assemblages.

Dr Lakra of Kate MacGarry with totemic figures based partly on popular culture.

James Pyman of Maureen Paley at Peer. This is a drawn close up of a Beatles 45″ record sleeve.

Larry Bell of White Cube with oxide surfaces made in a chemical cupboard.

Jurgen Partenheimer at White Cube with loosely painted images and ceramics.

Lucy Tomlins presents a sculpture of Atlas in Bermondsey Square.


Gallery run 23rd March

Regent’s Canal to Hackney.

Andrew Munks at Zabludowicz Collection with fish wearing hats and wigs.

Gardar Eide Einarsson of Maureen Paley with enlarged painted images borrowed from paraphernalia of institutions and then modified.

Paul Scott at Peer with modified old style plates.

Fred Tomaselli of White Cube with enhanced front covers of New York Times.

Anya Gallaccio of Thomas Dane Gallery with an ever growing copy of a distinctive mountain in America featured in the ET movie.

Stephan Balkenhol of Stephen Friedman Gallery with elegantly hewn wood figures.

Oscar Tuazon at Maureen Paley exhibiting with gallery artist Gardar Eide Einarsson. Their work has a political focus, though here the isolated door has more of a feel of a ready-made.

Helene Appel of The Approach with a washing up series.

Andrew Cranston at Wilkinson Gallery with delicate paintings on hard covers of old books.


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.