Thursday, 15 March 2018


 Up Now in London

Matt Johnson: 0,1,1,2,3,5,6,13,21 
@ Marlborough Contemporary, 6 Albemarle St – Central

To 12 April
Installation view

By titling the show with the Fibonacci Sequence, American sculptor Matt Johnson indicates that he’s working with science and ratios: not so obvious when you see piles of baguettes and a giant (65cm square!) pizza box. But the bread, which is piled in the ration of the golden mean, is a scale model of the Giza pyramid, and it isn’t wheat but wood suggesting stone. And the pizza box has a black hole vortex in the middle – making it the logical pair of a version of the cosmos painted onto the fibreglass replica of the unevenness of a tarp, setting up Johnson’s version of a blip in the space time continuum. Opening just after after Stephen Hawking’s death, this show begun to feel like a tribute. A swan and a frog watch over proceeding, both made from shells enlarged, cast in bronze, and painted to look like shells again. Fun, to which Hawking himself was far from averse, of course, before  checking out at the surprising age, given his condition, of 76.


Black Hole Pizza Box, 2018, carved wood with paint, 26 x 25 1/4 x 5 in. (detail).

In Quotes @ the Gerald Moore Gallery, Eltham Collage, Mottingham Lane - Mottingham
To 19 May

Cristina Garrido: Hymn, 2012 - homonymous work by Damien Hirst from the series of altered postcards Veil of Invisibility, 2011-present

The Gerald Moore Gallery makes a fine venue for Ann-Marie James’ stimulating presentation of collage and assemblage by 13 artists ranging from perhaps the most famous current practitioners (Linder, John Stezaker and Susan Hiller) to less known artists also finding logical reasons to represent and combine to generate a fresh aesthetic. For example Tim Davies subverts the function of bridges by sanding away their ‘from’ and ‘to’; Cristina Garrido almost erases the works of art from postcards, leaving us to wonder which are improved by the process; and Holly Stevenson’s riotously conjoins vintage postcards of 1950’s cowboy actors with the landscapes in which they acted, the latter in turn inhabited by snippings from jewellery adverts to ramp up their theme park qualities. I liked it more when Holly told me how one of the actors died following a marital row: he drove off with all his wife’s jewellery, crashed, and his head was fatally cracked by the flying casket of bling. 
Holly Stevenson: Phosphoresent, Palmy Bonheur Series - 6 silver gelatin postcards, 22 linen type postcards, magazine cut-outs. The series, says Stevenson, applies happiness to images that have come to foolishly symbolise a perpetual state of readiness for a good time.


Invisible Cities: Architecture of Line @ Waddington Custot, 11 Cork St - Central

To 4 May

Maria Helena Vieira da Silva; Le couloir (ou Intérieur), 1948
oil and graphite on canvas, 46 x 55 cm

It would be easy enough to throw together a few artworks relatable to Italo Calvino’s famous book of imaginary cities. Harder, though, to obtain works by four artists whom Calvino actually wrote about (de Chrico, Melotti, Paolini, Arakawa), complement them with three whom he certainly could have engaged with, and persuasively relate each artist’s oeuvre to a particular ‘invisible city’. That’s what curator Flavia Frigeri achieves here. Her three ‘extras’ are Tomas Saraceno (matched logically enough with Octavia, 'the spider web city'), Gego (steel drawing-constructions linked to Ersilia, a constantly regenerating metropolis based on a ‘pattern of strings’) and the Portuguese-Brazilian-French painter Helena Vieira da Silva. Her six shimmering visions of cities on the cusp of abstraction – the most I’ve ever seen at once – are the highlight, delicately teamed with Diomira, one of Calvino’s cities as memory triggers. 


Maria Helena Vieira da Silva: Sans titre , 1955 oil on canvas 60 x 73 cm

David Harrison: Fuck Me @ Lungley Gallery, 438 Kingsland Rd - Dalston - to 30 March  & Liane Lang: Prussians and Other Villains @ Coffee Is My Cup Of Tea, 103B Dalston Lane - Dalston - to 25 March

David Harrison: 'Fuck Me' installation view and the artist in an editioned mask alongside Ode To Joy (Saints & Sinners), 2012

This Dalston double of new spaces is good for refreshment and transgression. You can have a beer at The Haggerston, then step down to the basement where David Harrison (who's represented by Victoria Miro) has a decidedly left field project. 'Fuck Me' concentrates on his glory hole masks, which for all I know are made to be worn for sexual action. They're complemented by a couple of striking paintings and some short video loops of the artist dancing around, fully costumed, in his Aladdin’s Cave of a studio. Harrison’s masks are clean-shaven, but walk north-east and you can sip a hot drink as you examine Liane Lang’s collection of  bronze moustaches, inspired by the post-Communist theft of Stalin's mouth mirken from a statue. Various fascists and dictators are reduced to the suitably ridiculous and murine by these synechdochal portraits.   


Liane Lang: Stalin's moustache and  cafe installation view with Prussians and Other Villians (Prussian rulers and politicians) and Hair of the Devil (fascists and dictators), 2015


Dominic Beattie: Cascade @ JGM Gallery, 24 Howie St – Battersea

To 14 April

Untitled (yellow/blue), 2017

Dominic Beattie has made his name with paintings which make a virtue of their scruffy construction, but here he adopts a new near-rigorous manner: repeated shapes are hand-drawn onto plyboard, which is carefully taped; and ink blotted on with a cloth to make patterns with two tones each of two colours depending on whether two or four layers of ink are applied; and modules so made are combined to make large paintings. The somewhat tapestry-like results  are complemented by several studio chairs (co-produced with Lucia Buceta) - monochrome contrasts on which one can sit to read Martin Maloney, in the excellent catalogue, compare his ex-pupil’s new mode to a schoolboy  sarcastically double-knotting his tie to indicate rebellious conformity. 

Installation view with studio chairs

Anna Reivilä: Nomad @ Purdy Hicks, 25 Thurloe St – South Kensington

To 7 April

Bond #31, 2017

Young ‘Helsinki School’ photographer Anna Reivilä cites Smithson and Araki as inspirations, though Christo and Goldsworthy seem equally present. Her first solo show anywhere presents photographs taken in the remoter parts of her native Finland. They follow a move from drawing on landscape photographs to ‘drawing’ on the landscape itself, using rope which she knots around tress, rocks and ice.  That proves a beautiful ambiguous way to muse on man’s relationship with nature. The rope nets, intuitively rather than systematically formed with sailor’s knots, hover between protection and strangulation. In the case of ice, of course, rope is a hopeless stay against melting, triggering the thought of how little chance we seem to have of protecting ice in the larger scheme of global warming.

Bond #29, 2017


The Machine Stops @ Danielle Arnaud, 123 Kennington Rd – Lambeth North

To 23 March

Gabriela Schutz  DISconnect, 2016  clay  46 x 18.5 x 12.5cm  installation view by Oskar Proctor

‘The Machine Stops’ takes its title and themes from E.M. Forster’s only sci-fi writing, a 1909 short story in which physical interaction is displaced by communication over distance, and all surface desires are catered for - until a breakdown occurs. That sets the context for three artists and a composer to ponder what the Internet done to us, and what will happen when it shuts down. Clare Mitten's sculptural grouping  of plant-come-machines resonates with Forster’s prescient themes*. Gabriela Schutz contributes clay figures which seem overtaken by their mobile phones even before one of them is broken to the point of disconnection, and also shows her astonishing analogue blog, a giant roll of drawings and text setting out everyday experience and responses to artworks in front of which she unfurls her incongruous alternative to Instagram.

* Take these quotes: 'The imponderable bloom, declared by a discredited philosophy to be the actual essence of intercourse, was rightly ignored by the Machine' or 'Few traveled in these days, for, thanks to the advance of science, the earth was exactly alike all over'.

Gabriela Schutz  Blog 3, Blog, Art Posts I Liked and First Hand Experiences  installation view by Oskar Proctor

In The Future @ Collyer Bristow, 4 Bedford Row – Holborn

To 14 June

Installation view with Karen David

Law firm Collyer Bristow have, remarkably, now been using their offices to show art for 25 years*. And they’re big shows: 60-odd works by 20 artists appear in regulator curator Rosalind Davis’ latest, which uses a Talking Heads lyric even older than the gallery to set off thoughts about what the future might be like. Any danger of sci-fi similitude is countered by plenty of wit (eg Kitty Sterling, David Worthington, Sasha Bowles) and a good sprinkling of retro-futurism (Tim Ellis, John Greenwood and young German Arno Beck, who has the surprising idea in one of his age of using a typewriter to convert  digital images into deliciously delicate analogue equivalents). Four artists contribute especially large and coherent bodies of work: Dan Hays, Alison Turnbull, Ian Monroe and Karen David. You do need to know, I think, that the candies** are in David’s pictured installation because just that was used to lure E.T. from the woods.

* By appointment during office hours: and subject to meetings sometimes occupying rooms, so Friday afternoon is a good time to visit. Comes with a nice booklet.

** Odd what you can learn looking at art: Reese's Pieces are American packs of peanut butter candy spheres, manufactured by The Hershey Company in yellow, orange and brown. Sales tripled when, in one of the earliest such film product placements, they featured at a cost of $1m in ‘E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial’, 1982.


Arno Beck: Textmode (Mountain), 2017 - typewriter drawing on Japanese paper                            


Lorna Simpson: Unanswerable @ Hauser & Wirth, Savile Row – Central

To 28 April


Woman on Snowball, 2018 - styrofoam, plywood, plaster, steel, epoxy coating, 277 x 210cm
Installation view,
Lorna Simpson. Unanswerable
,Photo: Alex Deview,
Lorna Simpson. Unanswerable
, &

The artist explains her collages: that for Woman on Snowball is just above her

Peter SchuyffPlato Combinato @ Carl Kostyál12a Savile Row - Central

To 31 March

Peter Schuyff came to prominence as one of the Neo-Geo painters in New York in the 1980's, but moved to Amsterdam in 2003. He's known for geometric abstraction with a 'stoner Zen' aesthetic, and wood carvings which use the shape of a baseball bat as a convenient starting template. Here the sculpture has swollen to uncover feminine undulations in three tree trunks, two of them named after ex-wives. They look great in the wood-panelled gallery. Other painted motifs include infinite spaghetti and a sort of anthology of previous themes, as shown below. The whole ensemble has a characterful vibe consistent with Schuyff's parallel interest in making music.

Plato Combinato, 2010, Oil on linen, 140 x 140 cm


Gideon Rubin: Black Book @ Freud Museum, 20 Maresfield Gardens - Finchley Road

To 15 April

Untitled, 2017: gouache on paper in antique frame

Whereby a Jewish artist tackles, modestly yet intensely, the reason Freud lived here during the last year of his life: fleeing Nazi Germany. Such a charged subject suits Gideon Rubin's way of sourcing old magazines (from Germany in the 30's) and using them to make collages, and paintings at a further remove. He paints out all fascist references as well as all faces - the latter an established move in his practice to universalise an image and shift what viewers focus on. He also blocks out, line by blacked line, a copy of the original serialised English translation of Mein Kampf, as if seeking to identify the abstract pattern of evil. Rubin, moreover, secretes much of the work in among the many archaeological objects in Freud's study. But some memories cannot be suppressed, and we know what came next. 

Black Book (detail) - ink on serial parts of the 1939 English  edition of 'Mein Kampf'


Giorgio Griffa: A Continuous Becoming @ Camden Arts Centre

To 8 April 

 Dall'alto, 1968 ('From the top')

The first show to be initiated by  Martin Clark – successor to 27 years of Jenni Lomax’s direction  of Camden – gives all the exhibition space to the 81 year old Italian Georgio Griffa, He kept painting when arte povera was at its sculptural peak in his native Turin, but in the most graceful of conceptual styles. Mostly he allows pastel coloured lines and simple shapes to soak into unprimed canvasses of various hues and roughnesses, then folds them away to be tacked to the walls in due course. Both method and display imply provisionality, as if  the brushstrokes could have gone further and the marks spread beyond the picture, and the creases are of no concern because the works are for demonstration purposes only and refolding will be necessary soon enough. Yet can a picture be  left ‘intentionally uncomplete’ as Martin Holman’s text claims, or is it finished by definition when  the artist decides there is no more to be done? In such delicate conundra lies the appeal…

Installation with with part of the 60-piece Frammenti, 1968 ('Fragments')



Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries 


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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.