Gallery run 20th October

At Stephen Friedman Gallery Rivane Nauenschwander has produced an installation based on the Brazilian version of the board game known in the UK as risk. Flags represent the individual countries that the players would normally roll dice for in their pursuit of world domination. Long all-nighters with friends playing this game have imbued this artwork with a particular aura for me. Round the corner in Grafton Street Sprueth Magers have been doing a refit to their gallery. It looks very slick and the creaking floorboards have been lovingly preserved though firmly secured. Gary Hume has experimented with gloss paint on paper and the effect is very interesting. The painted surface takes on a mottled form due to the paper support yielding in some way to the gloss, yet it still looks as though it has the solidity of a worked and beaten metal support.

Further down Grafton Street at David Zwirner, Sherrie Levine is displaying work made by re-photographing some iconic images made in a 1940 project to document rural American life during The Great Depression. The display itself is striking with about 50 images hung in a perfect grid on the gallery wall. After visiting this hub of three closely placed galleries the next stop is Grosvenor Hill where Almine Rech and Gagosian have created a new hub comprising two expansive white spaces. The former gallery is showing Ernst Wilhelm Nay. The abstract paintings are reminiscent of seeds and foliage yet they are not restricted to this interpretation. This ambiguity lends them an additional magic which also complements their perfect balance of colour.

The word is out that Almine Rech and Gagosian have teamed up with the estate of Tom Wesselmann. Both galleries have produced identical press releases describing the artist’s shaped canvases that predominate in his series of bedroom paintings. Various bedside objects such as clocks and designer lamps interweave the limbs, feet and hands that the artist has sketched and then blown up into full size paintings. In the Gagosian on Davies Street a subtle black and white maquette of two painted boards placed in front of one another simulate the two ends of a bed. A large pair of elegant feet obscure the rest of a body whilst the lamp peers out from further behind. This completes the Mayfair region for today and now it is time to embark on the old favourite route along the Regent’s canal whereupon one arrives at the gas storage frameworks that offer a familiar landmark for Hackney.

Two of the new galleries exhibiting at Frieze this year are Campoli Presti and Hales gallery, whilst a new artist has been taken on at Herald Street, called Jessi Reaves. These additions offer the chance to see three new artists in this region of the city which is really the birthing place for new talent and with its exceptionally high rate of Turner Prize nominations is also sustainable in its own right with no need to interact with or be fostered by the Mayfair galleries to the west. Jessi Reaves is an American artist and hence of international importance, who makes sculptures from old furniture. The assistant in the gallery invites me to sit down on the rebuilt comfy chairs and this highlights the critical space that the work operates in, being utilitarian in some respects but stripped of any designer chic. Concluding this exploration after a quick stop at Beigal Bake is a visit to Hales gallery. Since its early days on Deptford High Street as a well respected gallery cafe, it has now become important internationally. Frank Bowling is one of seventeen artists on their books and he is showing colourful abstract paintings incorporating small objects offered up by friends, as well as cutting and sewing, which all contribute to a complex and interesting surface.

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Rivane Neuenschwander of Stephen Friedman Gallery with an installation based on the board game risk. Each flag represents a risk territory. On the back is written “war”. This would be “risk” in the Uk version.

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This paving slab on Grafton Street appears to be made up of two parts?

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The gallery is open again! Gary Hume of Sprueth Magers uses his trademark gloss to produce a mottled finish on paper in his new works.

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Sherrie Levine has rephotographed and appropriated American Depression photos of farmers by Russell Lee. What was once an attempt to boost morale when they were made in 1940 has now become historical document. Shown at David Zwirner gallery.

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Ernst Wilhelm Nay at Almine Rech Gallery. Beautiful images with natural motifs but in bright colours.

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Brice Marden of Gagosian using terre verte, green earth pigment, from several well known paint suppliers, has produced 9 canvases of varying greenness.

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Tom Wesselmann at Gagosian with Bedroom Paintings.

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Jessi Reaves of Herald Street with sculpted furniture, cut up and reassembled.

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Frank Bowling of Hales Gallery with abstract compositions on stitched canvases.

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Gallery run 12th October

One of the most enjoyable runs is along the Regent’s Canal from Lisson Gallery to Wharf Road, where Victoria Miro and Parasol Unit are situated. Having been to neither gallery for a while there are new shows to see at each and with the addition of an exceptionally fair autumn day the planets are aligned for a good run. At Lisson Gallery, Allora and Calzadilla have installed a display that very obliquely criticises America’s policy towards Puerto Rico and other affiliated states. These states don’t get a star on the US flag and furthermore, according to the artists, suffer from the ambiguity of their legal status of being “Foreign in a Domestic Sense”. They are foreign in some respects and domestic in others but in a way that gives them generally a bad deal, as the critique continues. How could this critique be presented as an artwork?, one might wonder. Partly through drawing attention to the phrase above in its use as the show title and partly also through arguing that the work itself by a sort of mimetic response, embodies contradictory aspects in its own form. On display is a transformer plugged into a domestic power socket making a surprisingly large humming sound off what is presumably a 13 amp plug. With various bits of foliage and earth surrounding it, the electrical equipment does indeed seem to deliver this contradictory response to the viewer that the artists had hoped for. The artwork is actually rather scary to get close up to for the photograph.

At the other gallery Daniel Buren has installed beautifully finished powder-coated, coloured modules against a mirror background. This encourages the simple conceit on my part of trying to pick up reflections from across the gallery and uniting the different modules in single camera shots. Buren’s characteristic 8.7cm vertical stripes unite all the modules together and this is a geometric feature which the press release diligently draws attention to.

The canal is looking good today adorned by the sparkling sun and the towpath is full of walkers and cyclists. Though the canal is not a short cut, it allows the mind to switch off and soon enough one arrives at Wharf Road, 5 miles away. Tal R is showing his sex shop paintings which are a lot less explicit than they sound. Indeed it is the very barrier of the front door and plain facade of the shop that the artist likens to a physical barrier of the painted canvas. The critique continues that the canvas obscures various desires forever hinted at but unrealised through the medium of paint. The images are painted from photographs but rather than this being a negative feature in the sense that the images are only copies, the photographs add a performative aspect to the artwork. For these photographs are collected randomly by the artist’s friends and thereby remove some sense of the artist’s own taste and instead allow the subject matter to be presented more as pure phenomena.

Having also seen some more great artwork at Parasol unit, the last destination is The Strand where Lisson Gallery have taken over a building. The building is scheduled for demolition and has temporarily assumed the name of Store Studios. Here the Lisson artists have executed some of their installations in this new setting and of particular note is Ryan Gander’s sculpture depicting glowing steps ascending to a rectangular doorway, which is actually a sheet of back-lit plexiglass. The effect is to suggest some transcendental ascent to those climbing those steps (but as they number only three and are built of plexiglass too, cannot be walked on) set within the shabby walls of the condemned building. With the index of Lisson artists largely addressed in this show and the earlier works from the morning further drawing from that index, the day has finished with a decidedly minimalist Lisson-like feel.

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Daniel Buren of Lisson Gallery with wall mounted pieces based on his characteristic 8.7cm wide black and white stripes.

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Allora and Calzadilla of Lisson Gallery. Foreign in a Domestic Sense is a legal American phrase which the artists feel is unfair to certain of its allies.

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Regent’s Canal.

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Tal R of Victoria Miro with his new series of paintings based on photos of sex shops, many of which were sent to him from around the world.

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Martin Puryear at Parasol Unit with beautifully crafted sculptures.

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Robert Montgomery at the Parasol Unit with a large outdoor text piece.

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Idris Kahn of Victoria Miro with delicate text-based paintings.

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Anish Kapoor of Lisson Gallery showing at Store Studios on The Strand.

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Ryan Gander of Lisson Gallery at Store Studios on The Strand.

Frieze week 5th October

It is Frieze week and the galleries are all together under the Regent’s Park awning. Consequently there is little opportunity for a run. However, earlier this week I am given the opportunity to run up to Alan Cristea Gallery and review the new Michael Craig Martin exhibition of prints. Prints are the speciality of this gallery. To one side of the gallery, the newest work uses an altogether new method of duplication using a laser cutting process to remove a thin black surface and reveal portions of the white under-layer. The bonus of this process is the durability of the surface and these works look striking without even needing a sheet of protecting glass.

Two days later it is my chance to visit Frieze. The stand out works include some great ones by Ivan Seal, Mary Reid Kelley, Djordje Ozbolt, Patricia Treib, Sheila Hicks and Daniel Richter. A recent addition to Michael Werner Gallery called Peter Saul catches my eye in particular. It seems popular too on the Instagram feed with the most likes and as I look at the image it leaves this intense desire to produce a work of my own in a similar style. This of course will never happen. The work is great though, being a sort of dismantled figure with recognisable foot and hand emerging from some central tank-like container.

Lastly, a neon piece by Andrea Bowers is flashing away at Andrew Kreps Gallery, and since this is Frieze week, New York lies only a few seconds from London. The concourse between the neighbouring cubicles replaces the expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. A cardboard cowling surrounds the neon letters and frames their pithy slogan, but also lends to their slick form an impromptu feeling, due in part to bits of random image left on the cardboard surface. This is almost the end of Frieze week for me, but there is a last bonus of seeing a talk by the Slade professor Andrew Stahl. A mutual friend has invited us to a rather exotic venue in Mayfair, home of the Woman’s University Club, and the evening assumes a slower and more relaxed rhythm.

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Michael Craig Martin at Alan Cristea Gallery with laser cut plastic as a medium for his new drawings.

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Sheila Hicks of Alison Jacques Gallery at Frieze 2017.

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Mary Reid Kelley of Pilar Corrias at Frieze 2017. Images and props from a recent film are artworks in themselves.

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Ivan Seal of Carl Freedman Gallery at Frieze 2017.

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Djordje Ozbolt with Herald Street at Frieze 2017.

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Patricia Treib of Kate Macgarry at Frieze 2017.

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Peter Saul of Michael Werner at Frieze 2017.

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Daniel Richter with Galerie Thaddaeus Ropac at Frieze 2017.

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Andrea Bowers at Andrew Kreps 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 a luxury Italian furniture company 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 31st August

The first stop today is a Science Fiction Exhibition at the Barbican containing artwork from several artists at London galleries. On arrival, there is a sort of sensory overload of robots, clips from 60’s sci fi films and models of rockets destined for the moon. Many of these items are film props which were used in classics ranging from Star Wars to The Incredible Shrinking Man. For this show a clinical search through the exhibitors for the gallery artists goes too much against the grain of the displays and it is easier to search for images that have already appeared in reviews of the show. The postcards by Andrey Sokolov with moonscapes and yet more rockets look striking.

At the Barbican a helpful attendant points the way up to Old Street after asking me If I was lost and what look likes a very pedestrian unfriendly car ramp turns out to be a short cut back to the main road. At Beers, Adam Lee is showing some evocative paintings inspired by the exotic location of his studio in an isolated region of Australia.

From here the Regent’s Canal provides a direct, though fairly long, route to Regent’s Park where there is a choice selection of sculptures. This is the Frieze Sculpture Park show and it is kicked off with a stunning sculpture by John Chamberlain set against a background of the park and some of the Regency properties on its periphery. Next Ugo Rondinone of Sadie Coles HQ presents an enormous white tree planted firmly into the grass. Tony Cragg has a sculpture with his stacked disc motif all assembled into a gold figure that has some similarities to the fantastical machines and figures on show earlier at the Barbican. Finally Takuro Kuwata of Alison Jacques Gallery has presented some brightly coloured cylindrical forms that look slightly organic like brightly coloured mushrooms, though of a different shape. Urs Fischer, meanwhile, has a skeleton placed in a fountain. It is being cooled, or watered in some way, with a garden hose. Then for me it’s back south with tired legs after having spent much of the last week with feet up on vacation.

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Postcards by Andrey Sokolov shown at Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction at The Barbican Centre.

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Storyboard for The Incredible Shrinking Man shown in the exhibition Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction at The Barbican Centre.

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Robot figure with light stick. Conrad Shawcross showing at Into the Unknown: A Journey Through Science Fiction at The Barbican Centre.

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Adam Lee at Beers London.

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John Chamberlain of Gagosian showing at the Frieze Sculpture Park in Regents Park.

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Ugo Rondinone at Frieze Sculpture Park in Regents Park.

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Tony Cragg at Frieze Sculpture Park in Regents Park.

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Takuro Kuwata of Alison Jacques Gallery at Frieze Sculpture Park in Regents Park.

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Urs Fischer of Gagosian in the Frieze Sculpture Park in RegentsPark.