Gallery run 10th May

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Beatriz Milhazes at White Cube with a 15m long tapestry in her characteristic style.

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JeffKeen at Kate MacGarry with an early example of spliced 8mm film intercut with animation.

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Birgit Jurgenssen of Alison Jacques Gallery with delicately presented photographs using gauze fabrics to give a soft focus and welded metal frames which she made herself.

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Wilhelm Sasnal at Sadie Coles HQ with paintings in his distinctive style.

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Christian Boltanski at Marian Goodman with films of interventions and installations in deserted landscapes.

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Juan Usle of Frith Street Gallery with delicate brushwork.

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Rose Wylie at David Zwirner with evocative paintings made from the artist’s memory and images she finds in her studio.

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Alvaro Barrington at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac with paintings and sketches.

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Joseph Beuys at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac with a big retrospective and here a transformer and felt installation.

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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.

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.

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

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Tonico Lemos Auad of Stephen Friedman.

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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.

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Sturtevant at Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac.

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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.

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Bosco Sodi of Blain Southern with a piece at Philips.

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

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Gunther Forg of Almine Rech.

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Sculptures on Grosvenor Hill.

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.

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Antonio Calderara at Lisson Gallery.

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

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Nancy Rubins of Gagosian Gallery.

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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.

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

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Paul Lee of Stuart Shave, Modern Art.

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Eddie Peake of White Cube with an immersive installation.

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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.

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

Gallery run 11th January

The run to Trinity Buoy Wharf has been an attractive activity ever since a speaker at an event there, Ian Sinclair, notable for walking round the entirety of the M25 and writing a book about it, declared that this wharf, with its location next to the River Lee, marked an historic site. From here the Saxons would check out the Vikings, whilst the latter would return their reconnaissance in this direction from across the barrier of the River Lee. It is right on this junction that this smaller tributary departs the Thames as it takes its waters from the North. With a bacon roll consumed, it is time to head to the first gallery of the day via a series of waterways.

The River Lee provides quite a formidable barrier to the foot traveller even today and unlike the fairly tortuous route of a few weeks ago which required a four lane highway as travelling companion to cross the river, today’s route wends its way north past the giant docks of Canary Wharf and onwards up the Regent’s Canal, escorting me to Hackney, and indeed, arriving fifteen minutes early at one of the midday openers. PeerUK is hosting Catherine Story from nearby Carl Freedman gallery and in its window are clues to the nature of the show. Clay maquettes are the artist’s starting point and these have then been transposed to canvas as a series of Surreal looking paintings populated by chunky figures with shear planes suggestive of both limbs and machinery. They are in fact reminiscent of Cubism and with the clay being a plastic medium, the artist appears to have worked out in advance, the various folds, bobbles, distortions and protrusions, distinctive of that style, before then transposing them to the two dimensional world of paint.

Herald Street Gallery has opened a new space in Museum Street just near the British Museum and Ida Ekblad is on show. Her rather stunning, bright paintings are actually made with plastic, a fact gleaned whilst reading her press release off the phone in those last few minutes of waiting outside the previous space. The plastic has been melted and smeared with a palette knife and yet none of its intensity of colour, whether it be derived from a previous state as coloured carrier bag or plastic household object, a specific origin that the artist doesn’t actually divulge, has been lost. Rather this detritus of daily life lives on in a strange afterlife as material of a painting, depicting the simple forms of pots that are themselves reminiscent of Greek urns, along with a whole host of other types of ornamentation ranging from flowers to simple coloured planes.

After seeing yet more good quality work up for auction at Phillips, with a couple of stand out pieces by Alex Israel and Barnaby Furnas, the next destination is south of the River at Vauxhall where Cabinet Gallery sits proudly in the middle of the aptly named, Pleasure Garden. Henrik Olesen’s musings on the nature of an object lead to an unusual, though confident display of tacked, nailed and propped materials that sit and hang against the various white-walled nooks that this gallery has made available with its slightly unusual polygon-styled floor plan. On many of the box-sections of brushed aluminium, which feature as rectangular frames or stand-alone girders, there are small inscriptions presented on clear plastic rather as one might find accompanying cooking instructions on a ready-meal, and these provide further philosophical reflections by the artist on object hood. Perhaps by giving us a general scene of peculiar part-objects to look at whilst openly questioning their validity, the artist is also trying to evoke an aspect of the human condition that has been put into words by the philosopher Heidegger, that since the Greek ages we have passed over the phenomena of the world, a general being, and instead focused our attention, to our detriment, on individual objects from which we try to extract meaning.

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Catherine Story of Carl Freedman Gallery on show at Peer UK.

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Ida Ekblad of Herald Street Gallery with vivid paintings made from melted plastic.

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Barnaby Furnas of Victoria Miro provides the statement piece for auction at Phillips.

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Alex Israel on auction at Phillips and adorning the front cover of the catalogue as befits a top ranking artist shown by Gagosian Gallery amongst others.

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Michael Pybus on auction at Phillips.

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Clever use of stickers on this bike.

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Henrik Olesen presents a show at Cabinet Gallery of what could perhaps be described as partial objects, many of which are casually stapled or pinned to the wall. The show itself seems to question what an object actually is.

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Simon Thompson of Cabinet Gallery, an artist I’ve wanted to visit for a while, has done prints of objects on rather fab rug-like objects with a hanging tag.

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Michael Armitage of White Cube showing at South London Gallery. An allegorical piece as a mother gives birth to a goat. Not a good thing! and dreams of a better life symbolised by washing machine top right, are back on hold.

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.

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Ilya and Emilia Kabakov at Tate Modern with layered images.

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Trinity Buoy Wharf.

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

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

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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!

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Andrew Grassie of Maureen Paley with photorealistic paintings.

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

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Florian Meisenberg of Kate MacGarry.

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

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.