Please feel free to browse or upload this 20 page PDF summarising 5 years of gallery running.
Dulwich Pavilion inspired by the Nigerian cloth patterns of artist Yinka Ilori‘s native country. Pricegore architects complete an impressive team.
Serpentine Pavilion, what a fantastic jagged roof it has!
This year’s Serpentine Pavillion has arrived, curtesy of the architect Junya Ishigami. The rock-covered roof was the chief design consideration and all else is periphery. A crow was the inspiration , the wings mimicked by several tons of slate. Destination, due South!, since for added impact the roof is also aligned to due South, tapering to the rear in the NE and NW directions.
He’s still as ascerbic as ever. Blah, blah, blah. The colours are stunning, helped by the velvet fabric. The old print set hasn’t changed but the experimentation with paint continues apace. Mel Bochner at Simon Lee Gallery.
Jannis Kounellis at Almine Rech Gallery.
These striking letter-canvases are inspired by ship’s lettering in the artist’s native home of Piraeus, Greece’s shipping port close to Athens.
Howardena Pindell at Victoria Miro with collages comprised of paper chads- those circular discs of paper made from hole punchers. Not to be confused with hanging Chad or Florida 2000. These artworks are very beautiful and represent the artist’s mature phase, set against her determination to recover from a severe car accident.
Well this is the subject of many an art school dissertation on movement and it’s arrived in London, in the flesh, as it were. Even in its latent state with power switched off it can’t resist a few impromptu light events, Obviously the shadows below are staged, but the refractions further up casting light pools on the surrounding walls are more telling of the machine’s potential to play with light. This is Lazlo Moholy Nagy‘s light machine -a sort of hybrid cross between film projector and stop-motion light house. On show at Hauser and Wirth.
Keith Tyson at Hauser and Wirth exploring the genre of flower painting. This is the standout example for me as there are allusions to swamps and a wider ecosystem. A question, though, to an old colleague and technophile. Is single, vanishing-point perspective appropriate, for rendering nature?
Nature is no friend of our Cartesian systems as the ironic quoting of equations attests. But the flowers are nevertheless signifying something with their spiral patterns in these photorealistic paintings. Do we consider the Aesthetics, or do we look deeper at some strange flower-sprouting- laws based on osmotic pressures and electric field lines, perhaps?
Francis Bacon at Gagosian Gallery They are all behind glass which makes them a pain to photograph, oblique angle photo to remove my own reflection followed by correction using the tilt toolbox- is not really the way to experience art. Being there , however, brings a few sublime moments and the eye’s remarkable ability to selectively choose its depth of field offers are far more forgiving editing of miscellaneous reflections.
Show open Thursday, Friday and Saturday at Tension fine art.
135 Maple Road, SE20
Cell Graffiti is my new solo show at Tension Fine Art. Visiting the London Galleries as a jogger helps give an objectivity to the shows, I feel, as you are grinding out those last few miles and reflecting on the art in a state of ego-less exhaustion. So here I should try to be similarly objective about my own show if only through mentioning how the gallery owner and curator, Ken Turner encouraged me to stretch beyond the comfort zone with this installation.
Much of the following review, then, focuses on this experience. Our remit, Ken says, is to take risks and question what art is and what art can be. Hence it was the ping-pong ball theme that caught Ken’s interest and one that I was happy to explore further, encouraged by our shared interests in drawing and unusual media.
Ostensibly the show is ultra traditional since it focuses on themes that reach back to the Italian Renaissance, namely anatomy and humanism. Cell Graffiti is a metaphor for the sort of complex machinery that cells actually produce within themselves and which we simply call proteins. 500 years after Leonardo, then, anatomy has become microscopy whilst humanism, a belief that shared genetic heritage can unite animals, humans and yeasts alike.
Whether one agrees with these sentiments is a matter of personal judgement, but I’ve certainly never expressed them with a walk-through artwork before. Ken reminded me when doubt crept in that I had to be ambitious. Thus the ping-pong ball cell membrane has rightly ended up in the doorway to the gallery feeling the stresses and strains of constant use. No easy option was taken here of just sticking it onto a wall with a price tag.
Though the work is for sale, the main emphasis is to allow the artists freedom to experiment. So, as a postscript to this review, when the current show by myself comes down and the next installation goes up we will see scaffolding, mattresses and builder’s tresses I believe! Tension will not only be accommodating this next round of drilling and madcap ideas, but true to its name, will be actively encouraging it!
Jonathan Trayte at Kate MacGarry using cement and vinyl sticker to make striking high-art.
Jordan Kasey at Kate MacGarry with an unusual close-up of familiar subject matter. The two pairs of lights look, to me at least, like pairs of cartoon eyes staring up from the dark background. They are in fact the windows of the house behind.
Luke Rudolf of Kate MacGarry with carefully composed paintings.
Zofia Rydet showing at Calvert 22 with examples of photos from documentation of over 20,000 families.
Weronika Gesicka at Calvert 22 with interesting photos of partially missing figures. In this particular image the jigsaw make this theme of absence part of a visual pun.
St.Paul’s Cathedral as it’s never been seen before, by artist Abigail Reynolds at Peer UK.
Gastone Medin at Estorick Collection with a modernist film set design. The show features such designers who were influenced by architecture and Hollywood.
Giorgio Morandi at Estorick Collection in a great show that also has the original drawings of some well known paintings.
Emilio Greco at the Estorick Collection.
This has been the week of the big freeze. Whilst it’s been possible to run in the snow, the prospect of having to then shake off the snowflakes upon ringing a gallery buzzer, has been enough for me to delay these visits to this Sunday. First stop is Tate Modern where a stack of materials including red buckets and wooden pallets occupies an almost perfect cube of gallery space. This work is by Tony Cragg and represents the early development of an artist who would go on to create his familiar idiomatic style of layered figures with beautifully smooth machine-worked surfaces.
The Barbican lies due north, over the Millennium footbridge, past St Paul’s Cathedral and across the raised walkway that takes one from the old city walls near the Museum of London to the unassuming doorway on level 2. The banality of the Barbican’s entranceway offers a sort of parallel to the concrete facades outside, confirming the utopian ideal that culture itself should provide the colour and nuances that these physical surfaces lack. This is not an unreasonable or untenable position to take. Frequent visits are nearly always rewarded by the work on show and today is no exception. Yto Barrada, an artist represented internationally by Pace Gallery, has echoed some of the utopian concerns of the hosting site, by depicting another ambitious building project in Agadir, where the greatest architects of the 50’s laid down their smooth lines against the backdrop of a city ruined by civil war. To capture this unique moment in history, the artist has juxtaposed simple wall drawings of the various radical buildings against items of furniture made from more traditional North African weaving techniques.
Maureen Paley is the only commercial gallery I would go on to visit today, since it offers the gracious distinction of being open on a Sunday whilst also exhibiting one of my favourite artists, Kaye Donachie. The paintings are primarily of women and this indeed is one of the show’s themes, to recreate the lost history of which these women were an important part, and in this sense the paintings offer an alternative view of reality. The dissolving forms that loosely depict these figures offer a kind of critique of this failed history, a history that has not managed to grow or take root, by showing instead not a photographic likeness but rather a likeness that seems to have been fashioned from chance events. A nose with distinct outline takes on the additional burden of sporting a giant brush mark, one that has obliterated its curved form, yet somehow this addition works and the facial feature seems strengthened rather than undermined by it.
Finally at Chisenhale Gallery we have dentistry raised to the level of art. This is not because the golden tooth that would be inserted into the artist’s mouth is particularly beautiful nor is it anything to do with recent developments of artworks taking on the narratives of prosthetics or plastic surgery. No, this dental procedure comes as a rather beautiful gesture by the artist, Lydia Ourahmane, who had the tooth inserted as a delicate and empathetic response to her own grandfather. He had in fact extracted all his own teeth in a decisive gesture against the then ruling French government. As a native to north Africa, he was at odds with their presence in his country. Then faced with the impossible position of being required to fight for them, he decided to render himself unfit for service by taking the drastic action described. This story is revealed in the gallery through the body of the artist, his grand daughter. An X ray depicts her own mouth before having the tooth inserted, whilst next to it mounted on the wall is a little nugget of gold, a second identical gold tooth in fact, since the artist had actually had two made, which offer a sort of tableaux vivant of these various events of fifty years ago.
During the big freeze, on the day of the hoped-for gallery run. It was too cold.
Tony Cragg at Tate Modern.
Wheat objects woven together by Ana Lupas. This was based on a traditional Romanian practice.
Yto Barrada of Pace Gallery showing at the Barbican Curve with drawings of the modernist buildings in Agadir set against traditional woven chairs and lampshades.
Kaye Donachie of Maureen Paley.
Lydia Ourahmane at Chisenhale Gallery has produced a historical artwork. The gold tooth is a copy of the one the artist had inserted in remembrance of her grandfather who had extracted his own as part of his resistance to French rule.
Regent’s Canal after the big freeze.
Flavie Audi and Samantha Lee with large projections of iPad screens and an accompanying dancer at Specisl Projects on Decima Street.
Adam Linder choreographed dance at South London Gallery.
This week I have chosen to go to Oxford. The main galleries are Modern Art Oxford and the Ashmolean Museum and for running purposes there is also a couple of rivers and a canal with which to fashion a loop out of the city and back in again. After having jogged to Paddington and sat on the train for fifty five minutes, there is a sense of expectation as the City of Spires pulls into view. The station has a sort of back entrance for cyclists wherein a bike path disappears out of sight into a housing estate and because of an association, albeit unwarranted, of similarity between barges and bikes it also seems a fair bet for access to the canal. Eventually, though not as easily as anticipated, the required transfer takes place and bike lane has morphed into towpath. At bridge number five Oxford’s famous Trout pub is signposted and this marks the way, too, for the River Thames in Port Meadow wherein the return loop to the city then commences.
Back in the City, Modern Art Oxford, is staging two exhibitions. A retrospective by Rose Finn Kelcey is the headline show and we quickly become aware that she was a performance artist who expanded her practice in later years to include installation and film. The iconic photo that launched the artist’s career is also on display. It is a picture of her doing a handstand on a beach wearing ballet-type shoes and a fantastic billowing skirt. This garment of clothing has been caught in the wind and looks like some fantastic shell or strange prosthetic at first sight, though on closer inspection we learn it is simply the white pleated skirt. Elsewhere the artist, in this posthumous retrospective, has a recreation of an artwork she made using coins of different metals to depict Van Goch’s sunflowers whilst alluding to its extraordinary multi-million price tag that was its primary feature at the time.
In the adjacent gallery Aleksandra Mir has giant drawings on display depicting satellites and control panels whilst suggesting through the use of symbols the vast quantities of data that might be passed between them. All the drawings have been made with black marker pens and the marks use a variety of saturations of ink to create textures and moods ranging from the precise to the casual. A video of the making of the work is shown in the cafe and it becomes clear that this artwork is a team effort with the helping artists working from style sheets and being assisted with grids.
As the cafe closes I head up to the Ashmolean Museum, slightly concerned that the 5pm closure of the former, might be a portent for an unexpectedly early closure of the latter. Alas this turns out to be true and the giant pair of panelled doors are literally being shut as I arrive. There is no chance then of exploring the Ashmolean collection on this trip and finding some hidden gems by John Ruskin. Instead the experience here takes a different turn as two large stainless steel sculptures by Lynn Chadwick take pride of place in the front courtyard. Light glistens on the polished metal and the blurb describes how the choice of material is very unusual for this particular artist. With these photos completed, there is an hour to spare and the natural destination is the river again but this time walking.
Oxford Canal leaving the city.
A ruin in Port Meadow near Oxford.
Cows by the River Thames in Port Meadow Oxford.
River Thames by Port Meadow Oxford.
Rose Finn Kelcey at Modern Art Oxford with a version of Van Gogh’s expensive sunflowers made from coins.
Aleksandra Mir at Modern Art Oxford.
Aleksandra Mir at Modern Art Oxford.
Lynn Chadwick at Ashmolean Museum.
Lynn Chadwick at Ashmolean Museum.
Regent’s Canal to Hackney. Plus Peckham galleries.
Zeng Fanzhi at Frieze 2016 sculpture park.
Antony Gormley at White Cube with interactive sculptures containing body sized gaps.
Sam Porritt at Vitrine Gallery
Patrick Caulfield at The Approach.
Virginia Overton at White Cube with a very warm wood burner.
Piotr Lakomy The Sunday Painter with sculptures made from high tech aluminium honeycomb.
Jean Dubuffet at Frieze 2016 sculpture exhibition.
Amalia Ulman at Arcadia Missa with a Labour Dance. A new gallery in Peckham.
Leake street (pictured) will soon appear on a Gallery Runner map as the preferred access to the west end galleries, from the south. The image reminded me of the paintings of Jim Shaw that I would soon be jogging to.
Jim Shaw at the Simon Lee Gallery recycles old theatre backdrops from the 50’s and adds vivid images on top.
Jim Shaw at the Simon Lee Gallery
I enjoyed Erika Verzutti’s show at the Alison Jacques Gallery. “The Painter’s Wife”, 2015, reminded me of a typewriter and also of Paul Noble’s picture shown below.
Paul Noble has produced this great drawing which looks to me like pools of light on a starlit sea.