Gallery run 22nd February

Rachel Howard is showing at Damien Hirst’s Newport Street Gallery. Fourteen large paintings are on display which, as the press release tells us, are intended to resonate with the Fourteen Stations of the Cross, the last hours of Christ as seen through the canon of Western painting. In addition a small fifteenth painting is on display based on a famous news photo depicting an Iraqi detainee standing on a box, arms outstretched and wires dangling downwards, connecting to an electric box. Human suffering is a theme that preoccupies this artist. The images themselves, apart from the latter, are abstract and their immediate content stems from the love that has been put into them. Many weeks elapse between the application of each new layer of paint, waiting for the old layer to dry, implying a degree of care and solemnity by the artist which offers some kind of parallel to her powerful subject matter.

Due North through St. James’, Green and Hyde Parks followed by a stretch of the Regent’s Canal then Primrose Hill, lies Camden Arts Centre located on the outskirts of Hampstead. Giorgio Griffa, an Italian practitioner of Art Povera, has spent a lifetime exploring the subtle variations of brush marks on different unprimed fabrics using just a limited set of symbols comprising numbers, loops and lines. A particular artwork catches a shaft of light, that has entered through a gallery skylight, and its simple lines seem to dissolve into the glowing surface of the surrounding unpainted canvas.

Running back down the hill towards Camden, brings the Zabludowicz Foundation into sight. Based at what looks like a former consecrated building of some kind, the visitor enters through a grand Georgian facade with doric columns, arriving at an entrance lobby with a small cafe counter to one side and two doors giving access to each of the two shows currently on view. Siobhan Coen has been invited to participate as part of a scheme to showcase artists not currently represented by galleries. Her interest is perception and the multitude of stimuli that do not make it into our conscious thoughts. Whether the perceptions segue into the unconscious is a moot point since we cannot judge their passage for ourselves, but it is a concern that provides the artist with ample possibilities to develop her practice. The words of Donald Rumsfeld, who is recorded reading one of his own books, resonate through the building. As former security chief, the implication of him broadcasting his own thoughts on perception, is that this is a matter of political importance not just personal.

Finally a small group of galleries in Fitzrovia offers the last few shows of the day. The Telecom Tower provides a ready-made landmark that makes for an easy approach across Regent’s Park. At Alison Jacques gallery, Roy Oxlade has an exhibition of paintings that have a fantastic faux-naive style. As a biographical point we are told that he was married to Rose Wiley and soon spot the outlines of her handsome nose as muse on some of the images. Indeed with both artists producing works with this certain childlike quality to them, since Rose’s work is similar in respect to her use of figurative outlines and simplified backgrounds, one then wonders if there is any other possible connection. Perhaps their apparently simple, yet complex, paintings evolved from a canon of intellectual concerns that Roy and Rose would develop and share over a lifetime together.

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Rachel Howard at Newport Street Gallery with carefully applied gloss and bright acrylic base colours loosely following the sequence of 14 images in Christian depictions of Christ’s last days.

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John Copeland in Newport Street Gallery with figurative paintings.

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Giorgio Griffa at Camden Arts Centre with unprimed canvas and delicately chosen and applied brush marks.

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Siobhan Coen at the Zabludowicz Collection with an artwork that explores perceptions, namely how we edit nearly all the information from our senses before we become conscious of the remainder. Political commentators play as a soundtrack and the artist claims our editing processes can be exploited by political propaganda.

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Grainy video of Gillian Wearing dancing in Peckham shopping centre over 20 years ago. Shown in the Zabludowicz Collection.

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Roy Oxlade at Alison Jacques Gallery with paintings that focus on symbolism rather than pretty painted surfaces, (though they are very pretty anyway).

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Victoria Colmegna at Southard Reid with a picture cabinet suggestive of highschool memories.

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Vivienne Griffin at Southard Reid encasing an aptly named object in resin.

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Laurie Simmons of Amanda Wilkinson Gallery created mocked-up fashion shoots using herself and clothes sourced from second hand shops.

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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

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

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

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Lisa Oppenheim of The Approach with solarised smoke photographs.

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

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

Gallery run 28th April

Peckham to Chalk Farm.

Having finished coffee and porridge, I can’t delay the run any further. I complete the toe stretches, grab a half beaker of water and set off towards London Bridge. I am outside Damian Hirst’s gallery on Newport Street where I have just returned an unexpected phone call, spotted as I had pulled the phone camera out of a sock I use to keep it wedged in my pocket, and then go in. Ashley Bickerton is showing assemblages that carry a strong flavour of tropical islands with sharks, coconuts hung in small clumps and diving gear that point back to their origins whilst catching the eye with bright flecks of colour. In addition wall mounted silver rock tableaux adorn the gallery walls.
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Ashley Bickerton at Newport Street Gallery with assemblages and vivid sea based objects.

Onwards now northwards across St James park where I dodge the selfies on the bridge and up Berkeley Street to Almine Rech. Here Japanese composer Ryoji Ikeda has created grids from the miniaturised digits of irrational numbers. The subsequent jpeg seems burdened by the weight of information of these numbers, whilst the surface of the artwork itself with the digits shrunk down to the size of dots, appears like a sort of black and white texture resembling the two-tone fabrics used to cover loudspeakers in the 70’s. Extraordinary work.
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Ryoji Ikeda at Almine Rech Gallery with artworks based on irrational numbers, that although simple in essence, require an infinite number of digits to represent them.

Along Maddox Street eastwards now towards Golden Square. Annette Messager is showing giant safety pins made in black chunky material hung from the ceiling of Marian Goodman Gallery. Other objects on a similar scale create a Lilliputian haberdashery. Elsewhere 50 prohibitions are displayed ironically opposite a 51st that prohibits prohibitions.
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Annette Messager of Marian Goodman Gallery with pictures of prohibitions.

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Sol Le Witt with a surprising installation upstairs in Marian Goodman Gallery.

Then across the square to Frith Street Gallery and I see a gallery worker come towards me. I give a polite hello but am aware of the slightly unusual interaction and then with glance round I see why, as I instantly recognise the tall slim frame of Cornelia Parker as she works the camera. It is her opening day and she has to pose for two photographers. I dutifully point my iPhone in the other direction concentrating on her artworks. She is showing video films of revellers in New York who have dressed in horror garb for a festival, but have expanded the remit to include Donald Trump wigs personifying the general anxiety of their class.
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Cornelia Parker of Frith Street Gallery with video work of street revellers in New York shortly before last year’s controversial election.

Nearby I see work at Pilar Corrias, one of my favourite galleries in the area, before heading north to Chalk Farm and the large classical facade of the Zabludowicz Collection.
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Urban Zellweger at Pilar Corrias.

A group of photographers are showing and like a trainspotter I relish the chance to catch the first Jeff Wall artwork in over a year. A light box illuminates a shabby river going into a tunnel and I am struck by its unkempt beauty like some of the canals I run along.
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Jeff Wall with a beautiful/ shabby river at the Zabludowicz Collection.

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Sara Cwynar at Zabludowicz Collection with photos of plastic based structures.

Then it is the long run south and today with time pressing I opt for the shortest route through London’s busy streets.
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Conrad Shawcross at the Crick Institute.

Gallery run 23rd March

Regent’s Canal to Hackney.

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

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

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Paul Scott at Peer with modified old style plates.

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

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

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

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

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Helene Appel of The Approach with a washing up series.

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

Gallery run 1st December

Finsbury Pk, Parkland walk, Hampstead then South.

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Rose Wylie at David Zwirner.

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Donna Huanca at Zabludowicz Collection with performance and great props including a rumbling base sound generator.

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Sean Scully at Timothy Taylor with a series of work called Horizon.

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John Currin at Sadie Coles HQ.

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Thomas Ruff at David Zwirner with press images from his archive but photographed front and back to capture the editor’s comments. The reflected lights, however, are not from the artist’s layering of images.

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Willem Weismann at Zabludowicz Collection with images built up from the imagination.

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Mai Thu Perret at Simon Lee Gallery with work inspired by Monique Wittig.

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A blue plaque honouring nature has appeared just feet away from the show by Gavin Turk at Newport Street Gallery.

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Bonnie Camplin of Cabinet Gallery showing here at the Camden Arts Centre. Images based on the artist’s mind expanding theories.