Gallery run 23rd March

This week’s run accesses Hollybush Gardens, via Brick Lane and The Regent’s Canal. From here it progresses west to the hub of galleries near St James’ Park and Regent’s Street. The first stretch, like last week, is too far to walk though well worth the journey. The remaining hub is very accessible to the pedestrian and offers a nice selection of current work.

A classic stop-off point on Brick Lane is Beigel Bake where apple strudel costs just 80p. With a refuelling stop of choice items the longer-range London traveller can weave up some backstreets past Hoxton Overground station whilst maintaining a course parallel to Kingsland Road before they reach The Regent’s Canal. Go west for a few miles until the various gas frames at Kings Cross come into view and then switch south heading down Gray’s Inn Road. Hollybush Gardens is situated in a low-lying segment of Farringdon and on show is Turner Prize winner, Lubaina Himid. The viewer will see a room full of painting extending onto additional objects propped upright on the floor, objects whose original utility is immediately recognisable.

A good place for the more sedate traveller to join the trek is at Duke Street St James, where Thomas Dane and White Cube are both located. They are presenting respectively, art formerly linked to Brazilian Street art, in the case of Jose Damescano, and art using refrigeration units to produce a glistening white frost, in the case of Pier Paola Calzolari. A lovely little show further on at Mazzoleni Gallery on Albemarle Street is also well worth a visit.

David Zwirner on Grafton Street has the pick of the day in my opinion, hosting Andrzej Wroblewski, a Polish artist who oozes Eastern Block charm. His Chauffeur series features drivers with their back turned to the viewer. A Gauguinesque blaze of colour near the driver’s head appears to demarcate that area of the vehicle window where the subject’s own psyche has intervened into this external world. Down Hay Hill lies Berkeley Street and Simon Lee Gallery. Two great shows are on here featuring Roy Newell’s tiny abstracts and Micelangelo Pistoletto’s mirror images. Finally, though this show is no longer on, Sophie Von Hellermann has been exhibiting some lovely loose paintings at Pilar Corrias. Formally of Vilma Gold, which shut last Autumn, the artist has found a good replacement with this gallery on Eastcastle Street.

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Lubaina Himid of Hollybush Gardens with a painted piano lid.

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Jose Damasceno of Thomas Dane Gallery with a small intervention on the eyes of Brazilian money-prints.

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Pier Paola Calzolari at White Cube who uses refrigeration units in his sculptures to produce pure whites.

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Mel Bochner at Mazzoleni Gallery.

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Andrzej Wroblewski at David Zwirner with an image from his Chauffeur series.

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Roy Newell at Simon Lee Gallery with meticulously worked miniature paintings.

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Michelangelo Pistoletto of Simon Lee Gallery with shelving images on his characteristic mirror backgrounds.

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Jean Dubuffet at Timothy Taylor with one his familiar cellular-based sculptures.

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Sophie Von Hellermann of Pilar Corrias with colourful paintings from the imagination.

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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 9th November

After a run through St James’ park and spotting a black swan, which in 1738 was used as an example by philosopher David Hume of an inconceivable event of such rarity that it might as well be compared to the Earth no longer orbiting the sun, today’s run continues northwards to the first gallery of the day. The galleries themselves are subject to similar laws of induction that aroused the attention of Hume, whereby oft repeated events start to seem almost necessary in the future, and in this vein, today’s planning takes into account that it would be almost inconceivable that White Cube gallery and Marian Goodman should not open at 10am, Sadie Coles HQ and Thomas Dane galleries would not open at 11am and Mother’s Tank Station would not open at 12 noon, though in the case of the latter there is slightly less inductive certainly of this owing to the status of the gallery as a relative newcomer.

With an itinerary set out, then, for the arrival at each gallery shortly after their respective opening times, the run is under way. First stop is White Cube. Haim Steinbeck has made elaborate shelves that look almost like triangular plinths. He has then arranged objects on them and in many cases even embedded the objects into smaller triangular plinths that nestle into the larger ones, fitting snuggly due to their precision of craftsmanship. The press release claims that these resting and embedded objects evoke nebulous associations reminiscent of how words function in a sentence. As a witty addition to this worthy aim, the current show uses surfboard fins in a variety of different coloured plastics. They have been flipped over whence they resemble the fins of sharks, the bane of any surfer, and function as a cipher for the commodified terror that has permeated our popular culture with films like Jaws. Elsewhere and with the clock confidently past 10am Marian Goodman gallery is hosting Hiroshi Sugimoto. This artist has photographed movie theatres and music halls incorporating a white projector screen as both focal point and also sole light source. Appearing as brightly lit, white rectangles these screens have in fact acquired the illusion of being white through the conjunction of the flickering forms of an actual movie and the long exposure of the artist’s photograph.

As the clock strikes 12 noon, Mother’s Tank station seems to be strangely elusive. The SatNav dot is directly above my location and then a glance upwards reveals the viaduct that straddles Farringdon road and which defines the upper level of the City’s geography at this point upon which Mother’s Tankstation is also situated. Yuri Pattison has excavated into the fixtures and fittings of the gallery’s temporary space and created small cavities. A square ceiling panel is casually pushed to one side whilst on the floor, tiny traces of carpet adhesive accompany the occasional excavations downwards. Circuit boards and computer screens populate this strange part-hidden world and on these circuit boards, which are fully functioning, software creates migrating crowds of tiny figures which interact with each other and even, as the gallery assistant tells us, commit a few murders.

Finally, at Whitechapel Gallery a small show of previously stored artworks is enjoying a rare exposure to the public. Michael Borreman’s hoodie portrait is stunning whilst Jim Lambie’s red and and silver bags is equally impressive . It is assembled, one assumes, into some sort of soul, since the secondary theme of this show is portraiture. Lambie’s piece actually evokes the feeling that it has been seen before which either means that this is the case or, more impressively perhaps, that it hasn’t been seen before, since this after all is the remit of the show, and that instead it has acquired its sense of familiarity by actually tapping into some sort of fundamental truth which simply makes it seem familiar.

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Black swan and white swan in St. James’ Park.

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Haim Steinbach of White Cube with wall mounted arrangements of objects that create associations like sentences.

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Hiroshi Sugimoto at Marian Goodman Gallery with photos of old cinemas. The artist has used long exposures whilst a film plays in the cinema he is photographing, causing the cinema screen to appear white.

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Thomas Schutte of Frith Street Gallery with glass busts blown in the Murano workshops of Venice.

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Catherine Opie of Thomas Dane Gallery with intimate photographic portraits.

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Yuri Pattison of Mother’s Tank Station with computer screen imbedded in the gallery ceiling which is showing crowds of small figures. These are generated by a computer programme and can be observed acting in certain ways and with certain objectives.

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Ad Minoliti at Project Native Informant with an installation of painted wall and two inkjet reproduced images.

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Jim Lambie of Sadie Coles HQ at Whitechapel Gallery.

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Michael Borremans of David Zwirner with a typical hidden face painting, at Whitechapel Gallery.

Gallery run 28th September

Having been invited to the lunchtime press opening at Ordovas gallery, the first stop today is at a sports shop for new trainers. A couple of invites came through in the last week and it would be nice to look smart. At the gallery an installation of cacti by luxury Italian furniture company Gufram has been set up. Around the walls is situated pop art and an Andy Warhol piece seems to fit very well into the cartoon-like space created by the cacti.

Across the street, which is Savile Row, stands the two Hauser and Wirth galleries. To the left is an installation by Marcel Broodthaers. Palms, a luxury product back in the 70’s, stand alongside some intentionally tired-looking museum display cases. This creates a pastiche of the traditional museum.

In the right hand gallery are paintings by Jack Whitten who has applied a variety of meshes and raking tools to create highly complex and varied painted surfaces. Then it is south to White Cube where America’s pop art tradition has been brought into a critical discourse by the varied artworks on display. Christoher Wool’s Riot slogan and David Hammon’s fly zippers trapped in two jars have a delightful lightness of touch. Meanwhile in this show Bruce Nauman has a neon piece depicting two people poking the other in the eye.

Further down Duke Street St. James’, Thomas Dane Gallery is playing host to Kelley Walker. This influential artist has taken branded objects, such as those by Calvin Klein, and turned them into exotic artworks. This is the first day of the show and a small group including possibly the owner are discussing the works in the gallery.

Then it is time to head south and the arrival in Kennington at Greengrassi and Corvi Mora allows me to visit the two artists being shown by these twinned galleries. The assistants at the front desk greet me and check the gallery lights are on. Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen has developed interesting narratives from seemingly mundane objects. A tree stump has had a set of processes applied to it as though the artist were following an algorithm, but the effect is beautifully poetic and though his objects on display are small, they seem to fill the gallery with their presence. Upstairs it is the turn of Greengrassi to exhibit in the smaller space. Stefano Arienti appears to be motivated by the giants of art history spawning a set of drawings and photocopies that reference the works of Bosch and El Greco.

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Andy Warhol presented in an imaginative installation, using fabricated cacti designed in the early 70’s by Gufram. On display at Ordovas.

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Marcel Broodthaers at Hauser and Wirth with an installation based deliberately on an old-fashioned museum style.

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Jack Whitten at Hauser and Wirth with abstract paintings.

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Christopher Wool at White Cube.

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David Hammons of White Cube in a witty piece with fly zippers trapped in jars.

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Bruce Nauman at White Cube.

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Kelley Walker of Thomas Dane Gallery has turned advertising images into artworks.

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Juha Pekka Matias Laakkonen of Corvi Mora with processed objects. This tree stump was left after the tree collapsed. Then it was dug up, the roots burned and finally the stump was filled in with the resulting ashes.

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Stefano Arienti of Greengrassi with delicate drawings and a few photocopies.

Gallery run 14th September

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Rachel Whiteread of Gagosian Gallery on show at Tate Britain.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Gallery run 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.

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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.

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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.

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

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

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Aaron Young at Sotheby’s.

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

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

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

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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 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.

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

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

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

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Terry Adkins at Thomas Dane Gallery with evocative assemblages.

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

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

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

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

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Lucy Tomlins presents a sculpture of Atlas in Bermondsey Square.