Gallery run 11th January

The run to Trinity Buoy Wharf has been an attractive activity ever since a speaker at an event there, Ian Sinclair, notable for walking round the entirety of the M25 and writing a book about it, declared that this wharf, with its location next to the River Lee, marked an historic site. From here the Saxons would check out the Vikings, whilst the latter would return their reconnaissance in this direction from across the barrier of the River Lee. It is right on this junction that this smaller tributary departs the Thames as it takes its waters from the North. With a bacon roll consumed, it is time to head to the first gallery of the day via a series of waterways.

The River Lee provides quite a formidable barrier to the foot traveller even today and unlike the fairly tortuous route of a few weeks ago which required a four lane highway as travelling companion to cross the river, today’s route wends its way north past the giant docks of Canary Wharf and onwards up the Regent’s Canal, escorting me to Hackney, and indeed, arriving fifteen minutes early at one of the midday openers. PeerUK is hosting Catherine Story from nearby Carl Freedman gallery and in its window are clues to the nature of the show. Clay maquettes are the artist’s starting point and these have then been transposed to canvas as a series of Surreal looking paintings populated by chunky figures with shear planes suggestive of both limbs and machinery. They are in fact reminiscent of Cubism and with the clay being a plastic medium, the artist appears to have worked out in advance, the various folds, bobbles, distortions and protrusions, distinctive of that style, before then transposing them to the two dimensional world of paint.

Herald Street Gallery has opened a new space in Museum Street just near the British Museum and Ida Ekblad is on show. Her rather stunning, bright paintings are actually made with plastic, a fact gleaned whilst reading her press release off the phone in those last few minutes of waiting outside the previous space. The plastic has been melted and smeared with a palette knife and yet none of its intensity of colour, whether it be derived from a previous state as coloured carrier bag or plastic household object, a specific origin that the artist doesn’t actually divulge, has been lost. Rather this detritus of daily life lives on in a strange afterlife as material of a painting, depicting the simple forms of pots that are themselves reminiscent of Greek urns, along with a whole host of other types of ornamentation ranging from flowers to simple coloured planes.

After seeing yet more good quality work up for auction at Phillips, with a couple of stand out pieces by Alex Israel and Barnaby Furnas, the next destination is south of the River at Vauxhall where Cabinet Gallery sits proudly in the middle of the aptly named, Pleasure Garden. Henrik Olesen’s musings on the nature of an object lead to an unusual, though confident display of tacked, nailed and propped materials that sit and hang against the various white-walled nooks that this gallery has made available with its slightly unusual polygon-styled floor plan. On many of the box-sections of brushed aluminium, which feature as rectangular frames or stand-alone girders, there are small inscriptions presented on clear plastic rather as one might find accompanying cooking instructions on a ready-meal, and these provide further philosophical reflections by the artist on object hood. Perhaps by giving us a general scene of peculiar part-objects to look at whilst openly questioning their validity, the artist is also trying to evoke an aspect of the human condition that has been put into words by the philosopher Heidegger, that since the Greek ages we have passed over the phenomena of the world, a general being, and instead focused our attention, to our detriment, on individual objects from which we try to extract meaning.

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Catherine Story of Carl Freedman Gallery on show at Peer UK.

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Ida Ekblad of Herald Street Gallery with vivid paintings made from melted plastic.

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Barnaby Furnas of Victoria Miro provides the statement piece for auction at Phillips.

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Alex Israel on auction at Phillips and adorning the front cover of the catalogue as befits a top ranking artist shown by Gagosian Gallery amongst others.

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Michael Pybus on auction at Phillips.

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Clever use of stickers on this bike.

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Henrik Olesen presents a show at Cabinet Gallery of what could perhaps be described as partial objects, many of which are casually stapled or pinned to the wall. The show itself seems to question what an object actually is.

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Simon Thompson of Cabinet Gallery, an artist I’ve wanted to visit for a while, has done prints of objects on rather fab rug-like objects with a hanging tag.

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Michael Armitage of White Cube showing at South London Gallery. An allegorical piece as a mother gives birth to a goat. Not a good thing! and dreams of a better life symbolised by washing machine top right, are back on hold.

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Gallery run 15th November

With a lap round The Serpentine in Hyde Park taking the time up to ten o’clock, the first gallery of today’s run should now be open. But alas, my check of opening times on the internet last night was not done accurately enough and it turns out the gallery is in fact closed today for refurbishments. Fortunately one of their artists, Sanford Biggers, is showing just a few hundred metres away at Phillips auction house. The good fortune of spotting the gallery artist in this alternative venue is further enhanced by the quality of the work. It comprises a delicately stitched, embroidered quilt cover with a back story that it was donated to the artist along with many others from families whose ancestors were effected by slavery. This has become part of the rich historical narrative of the artwork itself.

A few blocks along in Victoria Miro, Stan Douglas is displaying photographic-based work. Although primarily the show focuses on high-resolution photographic reconstructions of the London riots of 2011, there are also two abstract works. These additional abstract works are fascinating because they are actually based on simple jpeg images of geometric shapes but where the information of the original digital files has been altered in a systematic way. The resulting rhythmic patterns, we are told, reveal the wave patterns that make up the structure of all jpeg files.

Nearby in the hub of galleries close to the Royal Academy, Pace Gallery is showing some of the American Abstract Expressionists. The dominant figure in this group, at least from an historic perspective, is Kenneth Noland, and the show builds on this popularity by also including works from other important artists from that movement including Frank Bowling and Sam Gilliam. The former has poured paint down the canvas and despite the absence of a brush, has created an elegant and ordered painted surface, evidenced by the clean boarders on either side of a main channel that comprises a complex multi-layered surface of paint. Meanwhile, the latter artist has removed his canvases from their stretchers altogether. They have been bunched up into a few hanging points and suspended from the gallery walls.

The London art scene is buzzing right now with the Basquiet show at the Barbican. Today’s run actually takes in a concurrent show in the building’s second gallery, known as The Curve. John Akomfrah has collected a multitude of chemical containers with their coloured residues still visible in white plastic grooves. He has then suspended them from the ceiling where they mingle with the lighting to create a stunning spectacle of glowing white plastic. The artwork actually references the anthropocene, an emerging name for Earth’s most recent age, and one that is characterised by human influence rather than geological change. On this account, the artwork draws more attention, in fact, to the pollution of these chemical containers than to their sublime beauty. Perhaps also on this solemn note, it is where today’s blog comes to a close, though the run itself would take in David Blandy at Seventeen, Omar Ba at Hales Gallery, Alan Belcher at Greengrassi and Abel Auer at Corvi Mora, all offering great exhibitions over the rest of the day.

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Sanford Biggers of Massimo De Carlo on show, and for auction, at Phillips.

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Stan Douglas at Victoria Miro with a manipulation of a jpeg file. These familiar digital files, used for storing images, use clever techniques to compress them and the artist has intervened in some way to produce an image that reveals this underlying technique as an image of its own.

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Frank Bowling often represented in London by Hales Gallery on show here at Pace Gallery.

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Sam Gilliam at Pace Gallery with a detached canvas.

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John Akomfrah represented by Lisson Gallery showing at Barbican. These are chemical containers that the artist has used to represent, with some beauty, the Anthropocene, our current geological time period by some accounts.

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David Blandy of Seventeen Gallery with a digital reconstruction of the solar system.

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Omar Ba of Hales Gallery draws on the experiences of his native Senegal to develop his rich symbolic language in paintings.

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Alan Belcher at Greengrassi with paintings of geometric objects that accompany, in his show, paintings of ducks, fish and shellfish each having a surreal quality.

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Abel Auer of Corvi Mora.

Gallery run 31st March

Tate to Tate zigzag.

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Ged Quinn at Phillips.

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Sylvie Fleury at Phillips with a gold plated tyre fountain.

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Eddie Martinez of Timothy Taylor with vivid gestural images.

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Cerith Wyn Evans at Tate Britain.

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Agnes Martin at Tate Modern.

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Irma Blank of Alison Jacques Gallery with heavily worked pen lines giving an all over blue.

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Christopher Williams at David Zwirner with an installation about photography. There are X-rays of cameras and wall partitions on wheels with a worn utilitarian feel. I am sure I could smell a whiff of film developer too!

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Knut Henrik Henriksen of Hollybush Gardens with an installation using pebbledash and accents of gold paint.

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Theaster Gates of White Cube with an artwork in Tate Modern. The vertical lines are fire hoses.