Today I would be zigzagging along the Regent’s Canal, catching the early openers such as Victoria Miro Gallery before doubling back to visit the later opening Hackney galleries. Soon the hump of the canal appears on Dalston High Street just behind a mosque. The run to Victoria Miro requires an exit at Wharf Road, about 5 or 6 bridges along. I am greeted warmly by a tall chap near the door. Alice Neel’s paintings are of friends and neighbours in Spanish Harlem, where she settled with her husband. The women all have strikingly graceful hands. Upstairs Isaac Julien displays atmospheric stills from a film. From here the route to Beers, the next gallery on the run, takes me across a main road coming down from Islington. Strong, colourful, geometric forms based on architecture fill the gallery. The shapes cast artificial shadows upon themselves whilst the surfaces are pleasingly distressed as though to upset the geometric perfection and allow the eye to feast upon the rich colours. Then a return up Wharf Road and onto the canal makes for quick progress to Wilkinson Gallery near Victoria Park. The current show comprises beautiful, intricate paintings of trees and landscapes by Elizabeth Magill. Branches divide the landscapes into gridded mosaics and in a few places where it suits the composition, the artist has not been afraid to overpaint the branches with background pushing their knotted forms deeper into the composition. There would be two more gallery stops nearby on Herald Street. First I see a powerful sound-based installation by Lawrence Abu Hamdan. Mobile phone footage flashes up on monitors accompanied by shouts and shrieks. But when the sound quietens the monitors appear to switch off. These intermittent images on about 10 different screens powerfully depict an incursion by a crowd across a barbed-wire frontier into Israel. Meanwhile in Herald Street Christina Mackie has displayed beautifully coloured objects in a way that highlights their surfaces and basic forms. Any sense of what the objects may have been used for in the past is lost in the form of the artwork. I jog back to Brick Land through a lovely park and church yard and then weave through a small warren of walkways. Then on towards The City. Raven Row near Shoreditch is an old Huguenot house and the curator and co-director of the gallery has brought together female artists who have added an edgy twist to domestic objects. Lucy Orta has made fantastic live-in objects including a tent with attached hoodie which peers out of the top like a strange periscope. Finally I return west along the River Thames and arrive at Photo-London in Somerset House. Tatsuo Miyagima, an artist I am familiar with from Lisson Gallery, has photographed a fantastic digitalised number 5 created with orange paint on the toned stomach of an athlete.
Alice Neel at Victoria Miro with portraits of her neighbours in Spanish Harlem New York, though she would later move to Upper West Side.
Isaac Julien of Victoria Miro with stills from his film Looking For Langston.
Genti Korini at Beers London with paintings inspired by fantastical architecture.
On the Regents Canal today.
Elizabeth Magill of Wilkinson Gallery with paintings of landscapes comprising tree branches in the foreground. Excellent rendering of the broken planes of colour between the branches.
Christina Mackie of Herald Street with an installation of colourful objects in unusual arrangements.
Lucy Orta at Raven Row.
Tatsuo Miyajima at Photo London.
A tank parked up off the Old Kent Road near Peckham.