Gallery run 15th February

Gallery runs by artist, jogger and London explorer Julian.

Gagosian Gallery, which is on Brittania Street near Kings Cross, has been between exhibitions for several weeks and the two present shows by Nancy Rubins and Vera Lutter are therefore much awaited. They don’t disappoint! The scale of work by both artists is stunning. For Nancy Rubins the scale requires engineering solutions to hold her sculptures together. Assembled metal objects originating from scrap yards and fairgrounds are secured to a network of cross linking metal cables. These cables allow the sculptures to project way beyond the relatively small plinths that they sit upon. Furthermore, the placement of these cables forms an elaborate system of cantilevers which incorporate the various objects on display into their design. The art objects then, rather like Calder’s mobiles, serve both as surface for contemplation as well as physical mass within this larger system.

In contrast Vera Lutter’s works, whilst being physically large, draw their true impact from the scale of the machinery that underpins them. Her works are giant negatives which are about 3.5 metres high, roughly 100 times the height of old fashioned film negatives. It is of no surprise, therefore, that the object she has used for a camera carries a similar multiplication of scale. It’s a shipping container no less. The various expanses of photographic negative before us in the gallery are a sort of physical trace of the walls of this container that they would have been stuck against during their exposure and on this account they bring with them a sense of the magnitude of the container itself, its steel plate and enormous mass. If this double reading were not enough, though, the artist has then presented yet another level of engagement with the images. For they are of the world’s largest radio telescope and this creates a powerful metaphor of observation through use of only the faintest of signals. The faint traces of energy from outer space would be equivalent in some way to the almost imperceptible light reaching the pieces of film inside the container.

The next section of the run is over the hill at Angel. This means leaving the canal behind as it disappears into a very long tunnel and hot-footing it across to the other side. Back by the water, another lock serves to drop its level, before a spur of water branches out sideways past Victoria Miro gallery. A great show by David Altmejd at Stuart Shave Modern Art, a gallery slightly further on, is followed by a return to the canal and a visit to Stuart Shave’s second gallery space in Hackney. Paul Lee has produced several combinations of canvas and tambourines, the latter being a familiar trope for the artist, and they have an interesting sensuous quality due to a sort of exchange of physical properties from their close proximity. The tightly stretched skins of both objects, both sitting about 2 inches away from the wall, unite to produce a sort of extended space across their combined surfaces.

In contrast to these, the artist has produced four wall-mounted objects that appear, at first sight, to be no more than a cluster of recyclables, fabrics and bits of wire. However, they have a great sense of freedom to their forms, something that would require either chance processes for their assembly or else the application of sound artistic principles to block any unwanted rational processes of repetition, use of pre-established pattern or over reliance on an external narrative. None of these deficiencies here and what’s more for good measure, the central core of each object, which may well have been fashioned from a fizzy drink can, offers the one-off surprise to a viewer taking a closer look, that they are actually portraits of a male face rendered in black screen print style ink. Though small, this figurative element offers a strong contrast to their constructivist style.

Antonio Calderara at Lisson Gallery.

On the Regent’s Canal. A new layer of image just added with the yellow sign.

Nancy Rubins of Gagosian Gallery.

Vera Lutter of Gagosian Gallery with images of one of the world’s largest radio telescopes made using a giant pinhole camera constructed from a shipping container.

David Altmejd of Stuart Shave, Modern Art with plaster reliefs inspired by the complex biological evolutions of organisms.

Paul Lee of Stuart Shave, Modern Art.

Eddie Peake of White Cube with an immersive installation.

He Xiangyu of White Cube with small clusters of wire and pieces of metal that had benn smuggled out of North Korea to China for a pitifully small cash price.

Andrea G Artz has produced novel photographic origami pieces at Crol And Co.


Gallery run 15th December

Trinity Buoy Wharf lies in the crook of land between The Thames and the River Lee. Because of the two converging rivers, this area feels fairly isolated from nearby Canary Wharf and the Millenium Dome across the water to the south. It accommodates an artist community, as evidenced by the strange and beautiful sculptures that are scattered around, but it also enjoys a strong connection to the surrounding waters. A lightship is moored at one end of an open yard whilst opposite stands an assembly of crisscrossing shipping crates, populated by creative types who can observe their environment through circular porthole windows. After a bacon roll in Fatboy Diner the time has come to make an arching detour round the loops of the River Lee and across the top right of London’s map into Hackney.

The Approach gallery has drawings and paintings by Bill Lynch, who as we understand from the press release led a free-living existence, taking on decorating jobs to make ends meet, all the while exploring the intricacies of fluid mark-making, prevalent in the tradition of Japanese landscape drawing and calligraphy. A tree appears in one of the artist’s paintings and it is opening up its foliage with the energy of small coiled springs, a state of affairs depicted with tight, circular brush marks amongst the living network of dark twigs and branches.

At Maureen Paley, a neighbouring gallery in this East London cluster, Andrew Grassie has made paintings that rival even Vermeer in their precision and use of colour. They are barely bigger than postcards yet carry a wealth of detail. The white beams of an open roof space recede towards a vanishing point, whilst objects associated with a functioning studio, since this is the chosen subject matter of the series of seven paintings, appear as if by magic with minute flecks of coloured paint, all the while being contained within a flawless, photographic-like surface. A few doors away in Herald Street Gallery, a dinner plate sits on a plinth. Oliver Payne seems more interested in the various distractions that might divert us away from art rather than the many objects catalogued in the previous show that are intended to make us think of art-making itself. Indeed, it is a testament to the left-field nature of the present show that none of its objects conform to the canon outlined in the previous show, neither the plate of cold chicken and pasta sitting on the plinth nor the array of eight I-pads that, despite all their powerful processing capacity, have been requisitioned purely for the purpose of displaying a single image, something of course, which could have been done with a piece of back-lit cellophane, were the artist not interested in turning his critical eye on digital technology itself.

Finally, back south of the river, Gilbert and George have been having a giggle thinking up how the F-word can be inserted into short pithy slogans. As the eye scans across the alternate red and black fonts of F-word wallpaper a kind of rhythm emerges. The two artists switch between being the randy agents of various described acts outlined in block capitals on the one hand, to being puppeteers of the English language on the other. Familiar slogans become wilfully distorted as the artists introduce the necessary four letter insert. A game is being played, for which we know the rules, and which all the while is being powered by the free-flowing imaginations of G and G, revealing in the process a sort of inner portrait of the two artists.

Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Tate Modern with layered images.

Trinity Buoy Wharf.

Bill Lynch of The Approach Gallery with paintings on wood that appear to be inspired by the Japanese tradition of prints and calligraphy.

Jack Lavender of Approach Gallery with assembled rocks and taxi cards.

David Noonan of Stuart Shave Modern Art. The artist was there talking to friends about his work and it was great being able to eavesdrop!

Andrew Grassie of Maureen Paley with photorealistic paintings.

Oliver Payne of Herald Street with a new display format of wall-mounted iPads carrying a single image.

Florian Meisenberg of Kate MacGarry.

Gilbert and George at White Cube with rude words wall paper.

Gallery run 22nd November

The Saatchi Gallery has been closed for the last two weeks and today’s run offers an eagerly awaited opportunity to check out the group show there. Makiko Kudo, who was previously on the books of Wilkinson Gallery before its recent closure, is showing paintings in one of the rooms. Her subject matter includes figures and trees and a multitude of interactions between them. The figures actually appear to have been gathered up by the arboreal companions and then raised to a viewpoint where they can look down upon the world as though from a lookout post or treehouse replete with those memories of childhood. Also of note in the group show is Dale Lewis. His paintings of street kids and workmen in visibility tops are striking. The figures are all engaged in energetic mannerisms around tables or standing in groups and their movement is conveyed effortlessly, with the figures’ flailing limbs sometimes occupying several positions at once.

Meanwhile, though not quite literally, my own flailing limbs have taken me to South Audley Street where Massimo De Carlo gallery is showing Yan Pei Ming. This artist has depicted the famous scene first rendered by the painter David, in which Napoleon has taken his crown from the then Pope and is lowering it onto his head, his first act as emperor. For an event of such historical importance the painting has to be good and the artist doesn’t disappoint. He has rendered the image not just once, but five times over in a series of tinted, coloured monochrome paintings. Two of these striking images are actually placed beneath the gallery’s own elegant chandelier, and whether by accident or design, the painted crowns seem to sparkle and refract in a way that is prompted by the illuminated glass immediately above them.

At Southard Reid, the gallery assistant is on the phone. But she helpfully gestures to the press releases presented in a neat pile at the foot of a small staircase. The artist R M Fischer is from New York and undergoing something of a renaissance, we are told. He has made a particularly impressive work using plumbing fixtures, such as taps and pipes, to create a sort of bas relief against a background that is itself reminiscent of a section of bathroom wall. On this surface, almost like a graffiti artist, he has rendered fat lines with marker pens and possibly oil sticks, to create the rough forms of cartoon faces. These in turn have commandeered an occasional washer or random mark to act as make-shift eye or expressive feature.

From here it is eastwards. Having slightly overdone the Thames and Regent’s Canal routes in the past, today will use the busy streets, populated by cars and people, to play host to the remainder of the run. Hollybush Gardens is accessed by a staircase that connects the main road to a small network of streets below and it is in this hidden enclave that Claudette Johnson is on display. She has made beautifully economic paintings of figures that dominate the space in which they are portrayed and her sitters, who are all from ethnic backgrounds, appear empowered to leave the confines of the picture plane at any time of their choosing. Finally, at Stuart Shave Modern Art, Karla Black has produced delicate artworks of abstract marks on glass, paper and polythene. Light is the companion to these swirling compositions. It plays across their various surfaces and many of the artworks, despite their simple materials, resonate and glow like the insides of giant shells. Responsible in part for this is toothpaste which the artist has requisitioned from her toiletry bag, along with nail varnish, and then added to her artworks. Through these cameo appearances of objects that populate the artist’s own daily routines, she has not only created interesting visual effects, but also instilled herself in the artworks as an additional presence.

AES+F at Saatchi Gallery with photoshopped minarets in traditional settings but the minarets are actually rockets.

Makiko Kudo at Saatchi Gallery.

Dale Lewis at Saatchi Gallery.

Yan Pei Ming of Massimo De Carlo with reworking of a famous image in which Napoleon was crowned emperor.

Bruce McLean with a public sculpture just off Regent Steet called Handbag Heads.

R M Fischer at Southard Reid with a sculpture incorporating plumbing parts and some drawing.

Claudette Johnson at Hollybush Gardens with dominating portraits.

Karla Black at Stuart Shave Modern Art with delicately coloured materials using a range of pigments and extenders including toothpaste and nail varnish alongside traditional watercolour pigments.

Nick Flatt and Paul Punk showing in a drawing show at Beers London.


Gallery run 27th October

The main feature of today’s run is the exceptionally long and attractive stretch between Camden Arts Centre in the west and The Approach Gallery in the east of London. Over half of this journey is off-road.

Rewind two hours and I am in Newport Street Gallery at Damien Hirst’s fifth show since opening the showcase space for his own collection. Like Jeff Koons from an earlier show Dan Colen, along with Hirst himself, are all on the books of Gagosian. Without really following the logic of an argument, this simple association suggests maybe there is some swapping of priceless art pieces between these giants of the contemporary scene. Colen is included in this accolade because he is a rising star and his limited edition of glass bottle and glass cig butts on sale at the entrance for £1600 looks good value on this account. Colen’s works are summarised as essentially self-portraits, by the blurb, and that seems right. For as well as the photo-realist self portrait with its cartoon-like addition, featured, the sculptural works all involve an activity by the artist, be it sticking chewing gum to a canvas or collecting rubbish from New York’s streets and then turning it into improvised paint brushes.

The run north is a long one and features the Zabludowicz collection and the elegant pub-style carpet by Rebecca Ackroyd, before arriving at Camden Arts Centre. Language is a feature of Christian Nyampeta’s show. Some words, he argues, such as philosophy cannot be translated easily into his native tongue of Rwanda. Far from being a deficiency of his country’s languages it is almost the opposite. Western thought has ignored an important concept, which he refers to as “Being”, or more specifically “good will to fellow humans”. In contrast, words from his own culture, he argues, carry these additional connotations as part of their overall meanings. In the other gallery Nathelie Du Pasquier continues her foray into the London consciousness after having recently shown at Pace, and in this gallery she has made a brightly coloured installation suggestive of industrialisation through the tripling of her motifs which is reminiscent of the three phase power supply that remains segregated from generator to power line to factory.

The intermission referred to at the beginning, the long run between west and east, begins with Hampstead Heath. The hard-won altitude gained at Hampstead is quickly surrendered as one approaches the three ponds and with Highgate church now looming above, it is this ascent that will then provide the fantastic views across London before one enters the trees and scrubland of Parkland walk. As mentioned in previous runs, Parkland Walk is a disused railway line and thankfully today it is on a downwards gradient and, with its array of bridges over low roads and ornate arches under the higher ones, one that is remarkably constant in its gradual descent.

In the east, three artists are showing at The Approach gallery, whilst outside the downstairs pub police-style tape causes momentary alarm as it surrounds the railings of the outer seating space, before revealing its joke on closer inspection, as a Halloween prop and not the site of major incident. Artworks feature motorways and smoke from three of the gallery’s strong list of regulars.

Nearby, the building formally inhabited by Wilkinson gallery has been taken over by Stuart Shave. Josh Kline has cast familiar objects in concrete and then smashed them up slightly, whilst other objects have been cut in half with some extremely effective cutting tool. Having achieved the precision of a smooth cut through the variety of materials making up consumer objects, the plastic of a knob and the steel of a fascia, the artist has then taped together two incongruous halves. A twin of different shape but similar function ensures that this part of the process looks impromptu and scruffy like some final ironic comment about the objects and perhaps also about the process of making art.

Dan Colen represented by Gagosian showing at Newport Street Gallery. Beautifully painted and a witty dialogue between cherub and a rather austere looking silver medallion.

Rebecca Ackroyd at Zabludowicz Collection with a carpet design that explores Britishness referencing, in particular, the pub carpet.

Christian Nyampeta at Camden Arts Centre with an installation and video work that explores the problem of translating western concepts such as philosophy into the language of the Rwandan people.

Nathalie Du Pasquier at Camden Arts Centre with bold images using isometric drawing, a graphic technique that doesn’t rely on perspective.

Sam Windett of The Approach with paintings incorporating collage based around the themes of roads and driving.

John Stezaker of The Approach with pictures of smoke without its cause, in other words heavily cropped chimneys.

Lisa Oppenheim of The Approach with solarised smoke photographs.

Josh Kline at Stuart Shave Modern Art with cut up and reassembled objects.

Tim Rollins and KOS of Maureen Paley with drawn-on texts.


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.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Fiona Ackerman at Beers London.

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.

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

On Brick Lane.

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.

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

Secundino Hernandez of Victoria Miro with a giant palette piece.

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.

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

Julien Tiberi at Parasol Unit with crowding stone figures.

Brick Lane bicycle.


Gallery run 8th February

West to East.

Luiz Zerbini of Stephen Friedman Gallery with abstract motifs inserted into vivid naturalistic paintings.

Anya Gallaccio of Thomas Dane Gallery with extruded clay building up a gallery-sized replica of a mountain in the US. A giant 3D printing process will be used to build the mountain up in layers with a honeycomb internal structure for strength but deliberately compromised by the chaotic nature of the wet clay.

Fernanda Gomes of Alison Jacques Gallery with white objects of wood and canvas placed about the gallery.

Florian Roithmayr of MOT International at Bloomberg Space with objects made from processes using basic materials.

Urs Fischer of Sadie Coles HQ with an interactive Rodin replica whose plastacene material has been remodelled by the gallery visitors.

Peter Halley at Stuart Shave Modern Art with 80’s paintings exploring communication and technology with simple but striking painted forms.

Alex Israel and Bret Easton Ellis at Gagosian with text on painted film-style back drops.

Team Lab of Pace Gallery with an immersive installation that recreates basic forces in nature such as the forces between water droplets, to create waterfalls, vortices, rivulets of water and other natural phenomena from their minute parts.

Barbara Kasten at Thomas Dane Gallery with set-ups made from modern optically attractive materials.