Gallery Run 6th August

Sculpture in the City 2017 is a trail of artworks in London’s square mile and is the destination for today’s run. With the sun shining I head towards Limehouse Basin before taking an eastwards loop that comprises the three links of the Limehouse Cut, the River Lee and finally the Hertford Union Canal. Having effectively done three sides of a square, the loop rejoins the Regent’s Canal and the waterway makes quick progress along its direct route towards Islington. It drops me off at Old Street and from here there is only a short distance to go before the beginning of the trail on the A10 near Tower 42.

Mark Wallinger’s sculpture of a thoroughbred horse stands sleekly in the lunchtime sun absorbing the rays through a dark bronze patina. A group of children stand by it and pose for a family snap. Just down the A10 is the next piece by Martin Creed. He has used plastic bags placed amongst the branches of a tree to create a colourful spectacle whilst copying the manner in which an individual bag might create an unfortunate eyesore, thereby allying this attractive artwork to its antithesis created by chance from the city’s litter.

Last year the route was V shaped and the apex of the V was Leadenhall market. This had provided an enchanting gateway to the blue chip buildings that cluster around the core of the City in homage to some of the world’s finest architects. This year the destination is the same but the numbering of the trail suggests a more prosaic progress along the trail with a simple left turn off the A10. The magic is quickly restored, though upon seeing the next two artworks lit by shafts of sunlight that have made their way through this towering core of buildings. Ryan Gander’s artwork continues the theme of an incidental object that has attached itself to a tree. Not a bag this time but a parachute. Alongside this are four blue tanks and when put together the narrative suggests perhaps a vertical descent of some vital supplies over a last few fictitious seconds before becoming embedded amongst the branches one is currently looking at. In contrast, Paul McCarthy’s work nearby uses none of the resident objects in the plaza to create its narrative but rather through its scale looks as though it has always been here. It consists of two giant figures that are almost as big as the trees populating the plaza. Characteristic of the artist, little nut-like protrusions give the figures a cartoonish quality.

The remaining artworks are an eclectic mix. Daniel Buren presents a classic four colour composition with accompanying black and white striped frame whilst Gary Webb has used the natural colours of exotic materials to create a delicious looking sculpture stacked up like a fruit sundae. A little further along the street Damian Hirst presents a colourful bronze anatomical figure of a man. Finally Karen Tang’s piece called “Synapse”, a large fibreglass construction comprising five or six yellow and green sausage-like elements, gets the biggest endorsement of the day from a group of kids who rush over to it saying “wow”!

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Regent’s Canal.

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Mark Wallinger of Hauser and Wirth, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Martin Creed of Hauser and Wirth, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Ryan Gander of Lisson Gallery, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Paul McCarthy of Hauser and Wirth, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Daniel Buren of Lisson Gallery, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Gary Webb of The Approach Gallery, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Damien Hirst, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Karen Tang, Sculpture In The City 2017.

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Gallery run 14th July

The annual Goldsmiths MA show is the first stop on today’s run. Spread across the old swimming baths and the stunning Ben Pimlott building with views across London, the show has a variety of interesting architectural back drops. These are matched in no small part by a great painting from Daniel Arcand displayed on the top floor of the Ben Pimlott building. The artwork has a Manga-like quality to it with excellent mark-making and a great economy of design.

From here, the quickest route to Victoria Park is through the Greenwich foot tunnel and then north along the Regent’s canal. The Approach Gallery is showing a retrospective of its artists as well as previous exhibitions spanning twenty years. Works by Rezi Van Lankveld and Gary Webb stand out in the group show, whilst in a side room there is a film of speeded-up highlights from the previous shows here from which I recognise in their younger years some of my former Goldsmiths colleagues.

Then after a stop at Wilkinson Gallery with some evocative work by the late Derek Jarman, Herald Street plays host to the next three shows. At Maureen Paley there are abstract sculptures depicting cubic volumes of mainly empty space, adorned with a few intriguing objects including books and carpet tiles. Tom Burr is a thought provoking artist and writer who is new to this gallery having transferred from Stuart Shave Modern Art. A few doors down at Laura Bartlett, a group show has lovely small pieces by Koak who depicts female figures in slightly unusual ways. The images seem to fulfil their remit of challenging the viewer’s gaze by showing the figures engaging only with each other and without any additional acknowledgement of the viewer.

At Herald Street Gallery there is a great installation by Klaus Weber. The gallery assistant warns me of the hazards of a temporary rickety floor and protruding cactuses. The planks spring up slightly across the joists, whilst the cactuses penetrate these planks through round holes. Meanwhile a policeman-figure is kneeling down, with head below floor level accessed through yet another circular hole. There is also a stack of coloured glass spheres raised up on a plinth that, we are told, represent a type of humanoid figure. This perhaps needs more explanation and comes from a story told in Plato’s symposium. Essentially these figures were described by the Greek philosopher as mythological beings that Zeus callously cut into two halves, bisecting them from top to bottom. As these half-beings entered into ancient history they then matched up to the anthropomorphic form we currently reside in. The truth of this myth seems to lie in its ability to articulate our constant psychological need to find our other missing halves.

After a quick lunch at Bagel bake, which seems to have had a cash injection as there is now a new air conditioning system and workmen replacing tiles, I stroll down to Kate MacGarry Gallery finishing off a last few bits of apple strudel. Inside there are works by four artists including Francis Uprichard. She has presented two gothic figures that resemble harlequins. They are smaller than life size, but have a powerful presence due partly to their positioning on plinths but also because of their excellently rendered faces imparting, not for the first time today, a challenge to the gaze of the viewer. With that now recorded and the Hackney galleries fully explored, there just remains a return back South to complete this week’s run.

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Daniel Arcand at Goldsmiths MA Degree Show with a great fluent painting with drawn outlines.

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Rezi Van Lankveld of The Approach with a lovely loosely rendered painting.

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Gary Webb of The Approach with a colourful resin-based wall sculpture.

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Derek Jarman of Wilkinson Gallery with a series of black paintings incorporating objects.

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Gretchen Bender at Wilkinson Gallery with works that explore how images are propagated through our media.

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Tom Burr of Maureen Paley.

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Koak at Laura Bartlett Gallery with figurative paintings that have a strong drawing quality to them.

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Klaus Weber of Herald Street with sculptures that depict a mythical human form made from globes that Plato had written about.

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Francis Upritchard of Kate Macgarry Gallery with gothic figures.