Gallery run 7th February

The Regent’s Canal highway describes a sort of subjective experience of running on the towpath between Hackney and Regent’s Park. Though not particularly fast in the physical sense the towpath seems quick in a kind of existential sense, namely that with several galleries dotted along its route a sensation of speed is produced by the sheer lack of things that need to be done or thought about during the journey. A few glances at boats, the occasional meandering daydream is all that separates one gallery on the canal from the next. Suddenly the finger is on the buzzer awaiting entry to Victoria Miro Gallery. Jorge Pardo, who is of Cuban American extraction and now living in Mexico, is showing wall-mounted structures that resemble beautifully coloured screens. They are painted, but not in a traditional sense, for the colour emerges from an interaction of minute speckles of paint which have either been created from abrasions into a surface of many layers or, and this seems the case here, have in fact been created completely intentionally by a programmed computer and application device. A thin hair’s-breadth groove around each speckle provides the clue that the speckles themselves have been applied with deliberate intent. On a larger scale, that is on the scale of the entire objects, we see rhythmic patterns running right across their surfaces. Waves and flow lines appear as the eye scans the intricately cut plastic and fibrous sheets. For the lamps this experience is enhanced further by the presence of the interior light source which provides a strong contrast between material and void. In addition this light source promotes a change of geometry in the object. Rather than being planar, as was the case with the wall mounted works, these lamp-like objects are radial. Intricately cut sheets of coloured plexi-glass fan out from the centre, like an elaborate array of coloured cooling fins, conveying their subtle glows to the object’s fragmented surface.

Back on the canal highway, Regent’s Park soon offers a route south to the West End. At Simon Lee Gallery, there is a display of the late works by Hans Hartung. Accompanying this display is a film that shows the artist in a wheel chair, since he is an old man, spraying and flicking paint across large expanses of canvas. Known for his gestural abstraction, the artist is now using a prosthetic device comprising a stick wand and spray nozzle. In the gallery we see the result and how the artist succeeds in his express intention of mimicking the forces of nature. Partly these forces reside within the paint itself causing the drops to cling to one another or else suddenly break free as though they were a shower of ejecting particles, but there is a deeper connection to nature too, manifest most clearly when the work has taken on more complex forms such as a spiral motif in one outstanding example. Here it is as though the artist has attuned himself to the various rhythms that define the universe itself allowing him to represent the more complex forces that create the various spinning and oscillating systems around us.

With Corvi Mora and Greengrassi galleries pairing up this month, several artists are on display in the main viewing space and it requires careful checking of the paperwork to determine which gallery is associated with which artist. Tatsuo Ikeda who as it turns out is with Greengrassi, though in previous years has also exhibited with the blue-chip giant Gagosian, has produced surreal drawings of figures sporting various limbs for locomotion, as well as prosthetic cones. The artwork is very proficient, which allows us not only to enjoy the images, but also to engage with the various distortions of nature without rejecting them on the grounds of incredulity. The images are therefore accepted on account of their near photographic-like appearance. As a passing observation it seems that the two dominant features of these works, namely their Surrealism and their Realism of execution, turn out to be unlikely bedfellows, despite the apparent contradiction of these two terms.

Jorge Pardo at Victoria Miro with laser cut plastic in exotic lamps that nevertheless look very traditional.

Pablo Bronstein of Herald Street Gallery showing drawings at RIBA of pseudo-Georgian architecture.

Matt Saunders of Marian Goodman Gallery.

Hans Hartung at Simon Lee Gallery with paintings from late in his career made using spray nozzles and paint-covered olive branches that he could manipulate from his wheelchair.

Estate near Greengrassi and Corv iMora galleries looking resplendent against a blue sky this afternoon.

Tatsuo Ikeda at Greengrassi group show for Condo 2018.

Kye Christensen Knowles at Corvi Mora and Greengrassi group show as part of Condo 2018.

John Lindell at Corvi Mora for Condo 2018.

Sable E Smith at Greengrassi and Corvi Mora group show as part of Condo 2018.


Gallery run 18th January

With an invite to the Foundling Museum this morning it is necessary to divide the day into two halves. The first half will be in the East and the second half in the West. Parasol Gallery, the first stop of the day, is hosting Lisa Milroy, an artist who rose to prominence in the 1990’s. Her distinctive style is a grid pattern of objects standing out against canvas backgrounds and onto which there appear to have been cast drop-shadows. The pairs of black shiny shoes make a particularly strong impression in one of the older works, actually borrowed from Tate’s collection, since they go beyond the literal representation of an object and evoke additional associations notably of mussel shells. Such metaphorical readings of paintings often come from powerful childhood memories and whilst these certainly reside within myself, it is impossible to know if such associations are also shared by the artist. A small biographical detail recently provided by a friend, that the artist frequented a stunning beach close to Liverpool inhabited by razor mussels in their thousands, adds support to this further association but ultimately just confirms our own love of resemblances.

The theme of childhood memory is one that also underpins the new show at the Foundling Museum, a show aimed for children who may have lost a vital connection to their environment. Poet and writer Robert Macfarlane has turned away from our mediated worlds of digital technology and taken us on a stroll through nature while artist Jackie Morris has produced accompanying illustrations of the poet’s main themes to depict a world populated by birds, some resting on twigs, another with a pebble held delicately in its beak. What we see is a sort of hybrid world that never really leaves culture behind, for the gold-leaf backgrounds in many of the artist’s images are often more pleasing to the eye than those in which the complex structures of trees and vegetation have been presented. Perhaps nature is only digestible in small quantities. Following this theme, we find the most lucid and beautiful quote in the press release to be one that is actually set against the cultural reality of Pokamon characters. A child may be able to name over a hundred of these cultural brands, the artists inform us, but when it comes to naming the species and genera of our own natural habitats this number falls dramatically.

What does the window panel of an envelope mean? This is one of the questions that arises at Sadie Coles HQ where Darren Bader presents a room with a few highly collectable art sculptures mixed with tat, but where the buyer is not informed as to which is the art since this is precisely the nature of the game. In one sense then, all the work is art including the tat, since just as in a landscape the figure can only be picked out in contrast to a less busy background, here the artworks would only take their full meaning when viewed in relation to the much weaker objects that surround them. But this would be to miss the point which is that the viewer or potential buyer is expected to put their own judgement on the line, and this brings us back to the envelope windows. Are they art or simply the incidental and spontaneous product of HQ’s recycling activity? That they are reminiscent of any activity at all is why they get the thumbs up from me as accomplished artwork but this is an easy thing to say, whereas it is for the dedicated punter to make the real decision on this through a purchase.

Finally, at Thomas Dane Gallery Phillip King is presenting a fabulous multi-coloured installation using painted objects that appear to have been constructed out of wooden sheet. Large circular holes punctuate a central piece that makes it appear like a giant block of cheese. Though the yellow is provided not by the object itself, which is actually a bright lime green, but by the painted wall behind, the association of colour is nevertheless strong enough to impart the idea of food to it. In all there are several of these objects propped up against each other and the overall effect is to create a space reminiscent of a stage set where the viewer can move around and observe the curiosities of colour juxtapositions and perspectival lines.

Lisa Milroy at Parasol Unit. Shoes, distinctive flat style, fab painting in general, but also a passing resemblance don’t you think to hinged mussel shells?

Oli Epp at Beers London.

Jackie Morris at Foundling Museum has produced images to accompany poetry by Robert Macfarlane.

Christina Quarles at Pilar Corrias as part of Condo.

Gerasimos Floratis at Pilar Corrias as part of the #Condo project where artists from different galleries do a temporary exchange.

Koppe Astner at Sadie Coles HQ part of Condo.

? at Sadie Coles HQ. There is a room full of conceptual sculptures including this one made up of envelope windows. Four are by A-lister Darren Bader and a few others are by guests, the rest is intended to be tat! The catch is none of the sculptures are labelled and prospective buyers are invited to take a punt. I fancy this one to be a quality piece.

Phillip King at Thomas Dane Gallery with an installation of bold forms.

Martin Kippenberger at Christie’s.