Monday, 18 March 2019


SHOWS TO SEE: Up Now in London 

see also my Instagram feed as paulcareykent

Betty Tompkins: Fuck Paintings etc at J.Hammond Projects, Archway to 13 April

The intimate is made monumental in the first UK solo of Betty Tompkins' paintings, which she still makes from pornographic magazines rather than the online world – she sends her husband out to buy them in a neat tweak of expectations. This excellent survey includes 'Cunt' paintings, the more abstracted 'Pussy' series, three works with text, a couple of  gridded Dicks and a giant Fuck as per the installation shot.  Something of a coup for Justin and Jennie Hammond...

Anna-Bella Papp, Katinka Bock, Esther Kläs, Helen Mirra, Hayley Tompkins at Modern Art, Vyner Street to 13 April

New bodies of work from five artists, The highlights are Hayley Tompkins' (no relation) pools of colour in wall-mounted plastic boxes and a 'self-portrait' as a stool, titled LB after her birthplace Leighton Buzzard; and Anna-Bella Papp's ‘Plans for an unused land’, a sequence of hand-sculpted, tablet-like forms which form another form of self-portrait through her speculations on possible uses of a parcel of land which she may inherit - from sculpture park to farming options to highway - which she details charmingly in an accompanying text.

Alice Anderson
: Body Disruptions at Waddington Custot to 11 May 

Alice Anderson performs regularly during a solo show of three recent streams of her performatively generated  sculptures and drawings, all related to the difference between digital and physical worlds: the Lost Gestures (2018) drawings, made from the repetitive sign-making various computer keyboard symbols; monolithic Body Itineraries (2019), which derive a language of abstract painting from copper wire; and the five memorialised totems of ‘Nuhé’ (2018).  

David Salle: Musicality and Humour at Skarstedt Gallery to 25 May

David Salle (say 'Sally') scores with a new set of 11 assured fusions of different worlds, with greyscale 50’s cartoons the dominant recurring element. He starts by deciding how to divide the canvas, then proceeds with little planning to populate ‘doing paintings’ in which the characters are typically busy. In 'Latin Rythms' 2018, it seems the artist is treading on his own work just as he decides it would be fun to have a Mexican ride his donkey across its disparate contents.

Tribute to Mona-Ha at Cardi Gallery to July

This encounter between cotton and stone is one of 18 installation-scaled works across four Mayfair floors which make up the most impressive Mono-ha (Japanese 'School of Things') show London has seen. It's typical of Lee Ufan in showing the unaltered material properties of things, and resisting any hierarchy between them: Koji Enokura, Noriyuki Haraguchi, Susumu Koshimizu, Katsuhiko Narita, Nobuo Sekine, Kishio Suga, Jiro Takamatsu, Noboru Takayama and Katsuro Yoshida are also represented by work produced between 1968 and 1986.

Jeremy Cooper: The World Exists To Be Put On A Postcard - artists' postcards from 1960 to now at the British Museum to 4 Aug

Entre Tot, with ‘One Dozen Rain Postcards’ 1971-73, is one of the standouts in Jeremy Cooper’s wonderful show of over 300 postcard works at the British Museum. The Hungarian artist typed dashes of rain plus titles onto purple Xerox copies to make visual jokes which deconstruct the nature of typologies, conceptual art’s typical use of the typewriter at the time, and the normal expectation that a postcard will report on places and weather conditions the recipient. Moreover, there are Cooper-related postcard shows at Danielle Arnaud and Tintype.

Tom Lovelace: Interval at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road to 27 April

In 'Clock Work' 2019 a performer's arm emerges from the wall every now and again to make you notice the clock it adjusts, even when you don't need to know the time. Part of Tom Lovelace's ingeniously staged show 'Interval', which also turns the floor, velvet covers and the action of the sun into interesting photographic works. I guess it's the clock's third hand...

Reinhard Mucha: Full Take at Sprueth Magers to 11 May

An impressive survey of Reinhard Mucha's production: mostly constructions which look like cut-ups of institutional architecture and office furnishings which sleekly elide aesthetics and power, but also a sculpture of fans, some striking text works, and film. The German (born 1950) hasn't showed much in London, so this is a good chance to catch up. Above is Seelze, 2012

Franz West at Tate Modern to 2 June (and elsewhere)

An obvious choice, but the new Franz West show is a hoot which captures his spirit. 'Kollega' 1988 is one of his papier mache works, often made from old phone directories and painted casually while he was on the phone. This one looks like a sandwich grinning back bigtime at its consumer. Sarah Lucas covered the crowd control architecture in tape and painted it in Franz colours - here a pink he took from children's pajamas - as part of her lively Westian interventions into the presentation. The cinderblock plinth is her, too. Add worthwhile shows at David Zwirner and Omer Tiroche, and the RA's excellent show by Phyllida Barlow - who I'd say is as close to Franz's approach as Lucas, and it's very much time to Go West.

Sarah Pichlkostner: I'd ride on a rock and go take a bite if moon was cookie and Belén Rodríguez: I turn Chilli Red at Josh Lilley Gallery to 30 March

The first double show use of Josh Lilley’s space is a winner: upstairs the cool, lunar, bubble-powered metallic attenuations of Sarah Pichlkostner’s sculptures are disrupted by a soft boomerang form on the floor, covered in a gaudily psychedelic print. Perhaps it’s a portal to downstairs, where Spanish artist Belén Rodríguez (install shot above) shows in the sun-soaked mode of a recent Colombian residency. Everything is 50% abstract, 50% figurative, from curtains which are pools and landscapes to images which are half redacted by stripes to apparently non-figurative paintings which turn out to be of plankton or fruit in close up…


Tracey Emin: A Fortnight of Tears at White Cube Bermondsey to 7 April

Tracey Emin taking a selfie with some of the 50 blown-up selfies in her Insomnia installation. It's 'like an early death from within' she says. For the past four years she has taken selfies and selected some to blow up with an impressive range of bedwear and a lack of vanity which extends to a couple with a fat lip. This, the freshest part of her huge and effective new show, might be seen as an update on the famous bed.

Grace Weir: Time Tries All Things at the Institute of Physics, Kings Cross to 29 March

Are you a bit hazy on how physicists think about time? Unsure what the alternative is to the block theory of the universe? You will be educated as well as entertained by Grace Weir’s 30 minute film in an impressive new space. Two leading scientists explain while she builds many cunning parallels about what they say into a two screen installation: the editing styles capture time variously and, for example, we see her photographing (the classic way to freeze time) a World War I memorial stone plaque declaring that time tries the truth of things, its remaking by a sculptor, the new version itself, and footage of the bird species which features on it...

Fausto Melotti: Counterpoint at Estorick Collection to 7 April

Not only is Fausto Melotti's 'Hanging Garden' 1970 serenely attractive, there's no weeding or watering required. From the Estorick's demonstration that the Italian (1901-1986) is more varied than previous UK showings have suggested. Melotti's dictum 'Zero is infinity in reverse' could be relevant... Moreover, other displays of Boccioni, Marini and Morandi are well worth seeing.

Equilibrium. An idea for Italian sculpture
at Mazzoleni Gallery to 5 April

Melotti also features in this cool show of Italian sculpture, much of which looks as if it could lose its balance any time. Here is Remo Salvadori's 'Verticale' 1991, which simply encircles a roll of copper with a cord to provide a tenuous structure on which a tabular flatness, a very large glass and one normal glass (plus the odd unauthorised addition at the opening) are balanced to suggest relationships just about in equilibrium. Is that a heavy drinker paired with a moderate one?

Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries 


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Sunday, 17 March 2019


I Will Be Dead at König London to 16 March

The defiantly lively group show ‘I Will Be Dead’ includes Elmgreen & Dragset’s menaced infant scenario ‘Eternity’ 2014/17 (shown), Alicja Kwade’s witty poke at how ephemeral our adult obsessions will prove - ‘Finallyfound (iPad)' 2018 has been fossilised – and Amalia Pica’s marble, granite and silicone hearing aid ‘In Praise of Listening 8’ 2018, the vastly magnified scale of which put me in mind of those who shout at the aged.

Tom Wesselmann at Almine Rech to 23 March

You wouldn't instantly link him to abstraction, but that's how Wesselman started out and he returned to it, inspired by offcuts from his figurative steel drawings, in his last decade. Almine Rech sets out the story superbly with parallel streams of nudes and abstracts.Here's 'Three Step II' 2003.

Linder: Ever Standing Apart From Everything at Modern Art, Helmet Row to 16 March

Linder has a wide-ranging practice, but I can't remember when I last saw a comprehensive overview of what she's best known for: collage. Here, though, are more than 70 covering five years' work. They include her characteristic combinations of apparently free women - in the landscape, or in sexual activity - undermined by the imposition of household duties, but also all-male combinations an a new strand of 'Superautomatism' (as above) in which chance presses of paint perform the role of obscuring the image of nudes in a creeping censorship which might be ominous were it not so exuberant.

Thursday, 14 March 2019


'Uneven' is a  generous way to describe The Other Art Fair (14-17 March in Brick Lane): there's plenty of bad and stale art. But the concept of meeting artists in front of their work is a good one, and it gives a showcase to some of the many without gallery representation. My guess is that most people would find a few artists from the 140 who appeal. Any rate, I found ten who interested or entertained me: here are five of them in front of their work, and me in the midst of another piece.

Jo Hummel (Stand 111)
Jo makes collages which use playful systems, such as joining up to edges, to arrive at a language which generates a satsifyingly painterly aesthetic. When I asked her for a picture, she propounded the interesting theory that the explosion of online images and Instagram in particular has put visual art in a position parallel to that of music when radio arrived.

Alice Palmer (119)
Alice plays art, textile and fashion backgrounds into politically-driven machine knitting. Here a confusion of black and white (that would be ‘no deal’ and ‘remain’ I suppose) leads to a dizzying confusion into which the word ‘Brexit’ has been smuggled; while her partner Josh poses before a view of himself as a revolutionary.

Joshua has photographed 350 of London’s extant 450 launderettes – all as they are with no interventions – in the face of the ongoing reduction in these characterful and social spaces. Some surprisingly colourful examples caught the eye...

An artist has to eat: I found Nicolette snacking in front of her series of starved-looking dolls got up in bobbly constructions. On the one hand Barbie is imprisoned, as if by body image – on the other hand, you get the feeling she’s enjoying herself in these vibrant  balls of hand-rolled textile…

Neat, you may say, the fragility of butterflies made out of razor blades, suggesting sharp conclusions to the brevity of life – but isn’t that simply combining two of Damien Hirst’s best-known streams of work? Of course: but Lene’s usages precede Damien’s by some time…  And she's designed her own themed dress: we await Damien's.

Beccy McCray: Full Circle

The fair's special attractions included this literally immersive installation in a greenhouse. The massed results of holes punched in unrecyclable papers - hence the preponderance of shiny stuff - reflect on waste, but also struck me as a rite for the passing of any need to ready paper for filing in our digitalised lives. Mainly, though, this was confetti-style fun.

I also liked Walter van Rijn (66), Etienne Clément (132), Delphine Lebourgeois (27) and Nayla Tabet (147). That makes ten entertaining diversions, even if my hit rate was modest...

About Me

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Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.