Gallery run 22/2/19

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Tracey Emin at The White Cube Bermondsey until 9th March. Work entitled Another Goodbye in the show A Fortnight of Ashes.

This show focuses on the powerful feelings evoked by love, sex, death and loss. In this piece, located in a room Tracey has renamed the Ashes Room, is a remembrance of the artist’s dead mother.

Remembrance and memory are the themes of this show and the power that they hold over us are clearly visible here. For Tracey, the memorabilia of her past are displayed in glass vitrines, rather like the sealed vessels of Prousts Remembrance of Things Past that hold the long forgotten memories of past habits and routines shared with loved ones. Just as Proust’s vessels burst open when triggered with a sensation often of smell or taste, it looks like these glass vitrines too have been smashed apart and plied their powerful subject matter upon the work in the show.

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Staging Jackson Pollock at The Whitechapel Gallery until 24th March. Not so much about the American artist himself as rather a narrative of two intertwining events. Firstly, the display and eventual purchase of a beautiful painting called number 9, Summertime, by the Tate Gallery and secondly the ground breaking exhibition at the Whitechapel Gallery back in 1958, of Jackson Pollock’s works, where this painting was originally displayed on a bespoke wall by modernist architect Trevor Dannat. The wall ran right through the middle of the gallery and epitomised the brutalist architecture of the day. Alongside all this archive material is the real thing. Number 9 has been lent back to the Whitechapel for this show and it is still looking resplendent.

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Woskerski mural near BrickLane.

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Hyon Gyon at Parasol Unit, until 31st March. Work entitled We Were Ugly.

This enormous work running the length of the gallery is composed of 17 styro-foam blocks in the traditional builder’s dimensions of 4 feet wide by 8 feet high. Here the similarities to the building trade comes to an end, however. The bright painted surfaces have been burnt with a soldering iron revealing the blue granular layer that comprises the region behind the picture surface. Paint fuses into this nether world and offers a comparison to the artist’s own psyche, we are told.

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Me in front of my works Life In A Cell and Psychic Space exploring the hidden realities in nature and science.
This is my base in Peckham, Ideas Lab and the start point for each #galleryrunner event.

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John Korner at Victoria Miro until 23rd March. Work entitled Apples as Architecture, 2019 in the show Life in a Box.

For John Korner, apples are a mini-theme and one that I both recognise and love. Previous apple works are Apple Bombs and Running Along Apples. This mini-collection of apple works also offers a clue as to why this show should seem to be all about dynamism, with its running figures, sports track and climbing-frame bar where you receive free alcohol shots on a Friday afternoon, yet its title Life in a Box should simultaneously seem so static. The apples in Korner’s paintings are not strictly still, but pulse across the picture surface leaving behind their glowing after-images. Thus grids and boxes as exemplified by these vibrant apples are therefore only temporary states. Everything is ultimately dynamic and changing.

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Peter Joseph at Lisson Gallery, until 2nd March. Work entitled Dark Blue, Mushroom, Light Blues, Greens and Yellow 2016

These enigmatic works give little away on an intellectual level but nevertheless show the acute aesthetic sensitivity of a 90 year old artist at the top of his game.

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Liu Xiaodong at Lisson Gallery, until 2nd March. Work entitled Weight of Insomnia (Beijing) 2016, in the show Weight of Insomnia.

In a glass vitrine we see a typed proposal for a kind of painting machine, three in fact, that could work tirelessly for several weeks depicting three different landscapes from digital images captured by CCTV. By a certain good fortune one of these CCTV regions would be outside the artist’s own apartment and is the image shown here.
This and the other two images were a great success in the artist’s native China and the project continued to grow, incorporating iconic squares and public spaces in many other countries. The machines are still painting night and day, and one of them is even on show and at work in the present exhibition, where we see scaffolding, some delicate wires, a kind of makeshift print-head and finally a small laptop displaying the CCTV image providing the electronic subject matter of its current painting of Nelson’s Column and Trafalgar Square.

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Miroslav Balka at White Cube, until 9th March. Show title, Random Access Memory.

Walls are the theme of many news stories currently and here we have two. They are made of corrugated metal sheet, heated to a temperature of 45 degrees, which apparently is the temperature at which the enzymes within organisms begin to denature and their cells die, but when this temperature is delivered by objects resembling giant radiators, they actually feel lovely to rest against. Random Access Memory, the type used by computers to store data, is the show title that adds a more sinister note to these giant structures straddling the galleries.

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Gallery run 29th July

First stop today is Matt’s Gallery near Tower Bridge. Willlie Doherty has produced a video work on show here that juxtaposes on two screens, both the arrival of arms in Donegal prior to the Easter uprising in Ireland and also the location in Dublin where the revolutionaries were holed up in 1916. The centenary of that event seems to be the inspiration for this work and reminds me of another recent and important work on the Easter uprising by Jaki Irvine at Frith Street Gallery. Round the corner in Bermondsey Street is White Cube and there is a big mixed show of female artists. The theme is surrealism and the curating principle is that, just as the female body has been depicted by male artists as an external form and often disfigured by the removal of the hands and head for example, the female mind as an internal presence can through art describe and depict important realities whilst engaging in the discourse of surrealism. In short the work is fab. Stand-out artworks include Tracey Emin’s bronze statue with a slight alteration to one of the legs, and two great painters. Caitlin Keogh has made images of single female figures with various attachments including ropes and small male figures on puppet strings. The appearance is slick and has a flat graphic quality but with little touches of paint to provide the details. Meanwhile next door there is another piece that I try to identify from the exhibition catalogue. However due to its slightly unusual editing, wherein it has focused on the general work of the artists rather than the individual pieces, I still don’t know who it is by. With thirty or forty artists on show, I need to ask the gallery assistant to identify the artwork. She obligingly does with a well worn A4 sheet and a numbering system extending well beyond 150. Jordan Kasey has painted a fan with tassels that stream in the direction of an adjacent female figure, all of which has been depicted with a loose but precise application of oil paint.

Across Tower Bridge is the Whitechapel Gallery where in the main space, Benedict Drew is showing work based on the economic theory of the Trickle Down Effect. There are some large cartoon-like paintings on giant pieces of banner-vinyl whilst in the middle of the space is a podium of glitzy objects, though with some distortions to the tableau such as a giant veiny eyeball which acts as a device to remove some of the glitz on closer inspection. Clearly the artist is not a fan of the Trickle Down Phenomenon. Next door, Emma Hart has been to Italy with an awarded residency and has expanded her ceramic practice to include some specialised techniques. The ceramics are like lamp shades in practice, since they cleverly project speech bubbles through their openings onto the gallery floor and with surprisingly sharp outlines, but they are also beautiful objects in themselves. Externally they have simple designs on their surface but on the brightly lit interiors the colours are extremely vivid and maybe this is where her newly acquired expertise has found its application.

After the brief jog up Brick Lane and a quick lunch at Bagel Bake which has now finished its refurbishment, though they haven’t replaced the clock on the new grey tiles yet, I decide to put in the legwork and head for Trafalgar Square. The National Portrait Gallery has artworks by some important contemporary artists, including by Alessandro Raho, who has painted Dame Judi Dench, and by Marlene Dumas, who has envisaged a stunning portrait of Oscar Wilde. Finally, in the National Gallery next door, I find Chris Ofili’s large woven tapestry. A documentary with Alan Yentob has laid the foundation already in describing the three year period over which the professional weavers added different coloured pixels using a thick woollen weave even recreating the random marks of graphite powder that stand aside from the main composition in the original sketches. But seeing the artwork in situ it looks like an alter piece and the dim lighting adds a further sense of being in a chapel. Two figures are placed at the bottom of deserted cliffs amongst empty glades creating a depiction of nature that whilst being classical in composition, is decidedly modern with respect to its style and colour palette.

 

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Willie Doherty at Matt’sGallery with work about the 1916 Easter uprising in Dublin.

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Tracey Emin of White Cube in a group show called Dreamers Awake.

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Caitlin Keogh at White Cube in a group show called Dreamers Awake.

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Jordan Kasey at White Cube in a group show Dreamers Awake.

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Benedict Drew at Whitechapel Gallery with artworks about a rather questionable economic theory called the Trickle Down Effect.

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Emma Hart at Whitechapel Gallery.

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Alessandro Raho of Alison Jacques Gallery with a portrait of Dame Judi Dench at National Portrait Gallery.

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Marlene Dumas of Frith Street Gallery with a depiction of Oscar Wilde.

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Chris Ofili at The National Gallery with a hand-woven tapestry.