Tuesday, 10 January 2017


Up Now in London

I Lost My Heart to a Starship Trooper @ the Griffin Gallery, 21 Evesham St – Latimer Road

To 24 Feb: www.griffingallery.co.uk


Stephane Graff: Untitled (Courbet/Fontana), 2015 - Acylic silkscreen and oil on wood  Diptych


Catherine Loewe’s exhibition is easy to enjoy: she picks nine artists who have appropriated the art of the past, and lets us explore their different methods and aims.  Diptychs by Stephane Graff wittily line up iconic works with mismatched texts from what seem to be auction catalogues, pricking the bubble of artistic identity which Gavin Turk undermines by taking on that of others, here through his British styling of Warhol as the silkscreener of white transit van crashes (there’s more of that at the Newport Street Gallery) ; Marielle Neudecker and Gordon Cheung both deconstruct the Vanitas still life in painterly non-paintings, the former as plastic, the latter as digital glitches; and Glenn Brown seems to reveal the atomic under-life of old masters in his re-imaginings on the cusp of painting and drawing. 

Glenn Brown: Hinckley Point, 2016 - Indian ink and acrylic on panel, diptych - Each 60 x 50 cm


Franziska Lantz: expanding arid zones & Haris Epaminonda: Vol. XX @ RODEO, 123 Charing Cross Road – Tottenham Court Road


Franziska Lantz: detail of  expanding arid zones 

Rodeo’s condo share presents two installations representing found elements to transformative effect. Downstairs we can move on from the injustice of Michael Dean not winning the Turner Prize to admire an installation by his Swiss-German wife Franziska Lantz. Both are represented in Berlin by Supportico Lopez: here Lantz has trawled the Thames for detritus which she cleans with contemplative obsession, then hangs to form a shamanistic whole room installation featuring a surprisingly high proportion of camouflage wear. It’s complemented by her soundtrack – cluing us in to a wider practice which includes a regular broadcasts for Resonance FM. Upstairs are what might be termed ‘overlages’, by Berlin-based Cypriot Haris Epaminonda – collages in which the top layer (black and white images of ikebana flower arrangements) almost completely covers the lower layer (would-be-colour of Egyptian art). It’s mainly the captions, referring to pharaohs, which remain to complicate our interpretation of the bouquets. 


Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva: An Intimate Gaze @ Danielle Arnaud, 123 Kennington Rd – Kennington

To 11 Feb: www.daniellearnaud.com
Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva Lady's Purse,  2011 - sheep testicle purse lined with silk, antique frame and chain, mounted in perspex box

It’s an old gambit to generate beauty from abject or repulsive material. All the same, Anglo-Macedonian artist Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva’s use of animal materials is striking: she’s best known for immersively delicate installations using waste products from the meat industry. Here, a domestic environment suits a transcendental drawing made from a cow’s guts, bovine intestines blown up to form vulnerable sculptures,  and four sheep testicles configured as rather attractive purses. The most radical form, though, is probably Gill’s Slits, made by simply alligator-clipping together the wing-like skeletons of several skates. This inside-to-outside move yields flyaway fish with a floral feel. I was somewhat reminded of Paul Nash’s 'Flight of the Magnolia' 1944, which you can see in the excellent survey at Tate Britain.

Elpida Hadzi-Vasileva  Gill’s Slits  2011 - skate bones, metal, perspex box  45 x 45 x 50 cm


Paul Nash: Flight of the Magnolia, 1944

Charlie Roberts: Juicy @ Marlborough Contemporary, 6 Albemarle St - Central
Juicy x 24
Kanas-born, Oslo-based Charlie Roberts shows immense energy at in individual works and overall in  224 gouaches (you can download  them all at Marlborough's site) of  which 128 are on display in the gridded mother of all salon hangs, with any sold (at £1,000) being replaced with, I was told, the various types selling pretty equally so far. They start from  hip-hop but throw in myriad subjects, abstract approaches, colour combinations and  art historical influences pretty much freestyle, building to quite an impact.

Juicy x 1 (No. 201)

Feminist Avant-Garde of the 1970's  from the Verbund Collection, Vienna @ The Photographer's Gallery

To 15 Jan: http://www.thephotographersgallery.org.uk/  (free  10 am -12)

Renata Eisenegger: High-rise No. 1, 1974

This may sound a narrow show until you realise how many excellent artists can be described as avant-garde 1970s feminists: Chicago, EXPORT, Ivekovic, Mendieta, Orlan, Pane, Rosler, Shneeman, Sherman, Wilke and Woodman obviously enough, but they're mostly represented by refreshingly less-often seen work: Mendiata counters her beauty and renders herself other simply by pressing up against the pane of glass, Ivekovic makes herself visibly silent by greeting her show's visitors with a taped up mouth. Moreover, there are 200 works by 48 artists, well marshalled into four themes, and almost everything is of interest. For example, Lili Dujourie makes a naked man look like a woman simply by how she has him pose; Renata Eiseneger irons the floors of her apartment block; and Brigette Lang proposes a headress which prevents intimacy by means of sharp spikes.... In spite of all of which, this is far from comprehensive: Adrian Piper, Chantal Akerman, Dara Birnbaum, Mary Kelly, Niki de Saint Phalle would all fit.

Sanja Ivekovik: from Inauguration at Tommaseo, 1977 / 2012


Renate Bertlmann: Höhepunkte (Two Climaxes) @ Richard Saltoun Gallery to 27 Jan / Tender Touches @ the Austrian Cultural Forum to 13 Jan /  Natalia LL: Probabilities @ Roman Road to 14 Jan

Renate Bertlmann : from Tender Touches, 1976
Natalia LL: Consumer Art, 1972
There’s something of a festival of 70’s feminist art in London now, as three fine shows complement to the Photographer’s Gallery's uberfest. Renate Bertlmann (also at the Photographer’s) has a solo show at Richard Saltoun – including work sharp enough to be banned by the Pompidou Centre in 1978 - and also stars in the Austrian Cultural Forum’s combination of 70’s classics with current parallels. Tender Touches, Bertlmann’s compelling series of short films, is in both shows: latex teats and the like appear to flirt, kiss, fuck, ejaculate and give birth in some sort of pseodo-sexual zone. The ACF cunningly counterpoints her with Eva Stenram, who cuts the posed female down to a limb: either way, we’re drawn in yet alienated from the bodies we might reconstruct from their different degrees of absence. Natalia LL’s early 70’s work from Poland seems to parody, yet also dream of ,western styles of consumption and advertising. At Roman Road the artist is visibly present in making food sexual, and it’s relevant that bananas, for example, were a luxury behind the Iron Curtain.

Eva Stenram: Parts 6, 2013

Renate Bertlmann : from Tender Touches, 1976


Bojan Šarčević: invagination @ Modern Art, 4-8 Helmet Row - Old Street

 To 14 January 2017:

By Modern Art’s hermetic standards, Serbian Bojan Šarčević is allowed an informative sentence as his press release: ‘Invagination’, it says, ‘refers to the idea of something being turned inside-out, turned-in, or folded back on itself’. And the works, all entitled ‘exhibition elements’, generate an eerie presence as they invaginate the exhibition they constitutes through a spectacular range of materials: the new front desk is a fake, mostly of gravel held together by clear glue; there’s a sculpture made by hanging what could have wrapped a different form; a tapestry (well, dirty wool caught on some fencing); fragments of a frame which, in the absence of a painting, seem to present the whole exhibition; and a hulking yet elegant parody of a display unit fronts up a tray of dried meat.. the artist as dessicated by the experience of installing the work?

Mai-Thu Perret: Zone @ Simon Lee, 12 Berkeley St - Central

To 4 Feb: www.simonleegallery.com

Installation view with Zone, 2016

Genevan artist Mai-Thu Perret has made her name since 1999 through by mapping an imagined women-only would-be-utopian desert community through the writings and artworks attributed to them. Typically they tweak traditional crafts – ceramic, tapestry, wickerwork – towards a constructivist aesthetic which carries an incipient feminism. Zone sees things get darker: it cites a novel about a tribe of lesbian warriors; a faceless armed figure stands guard; inside is a ceramic fountain in the form of a mortuary slab, its tube more suggestive of ritual or abuse than of pleasure. But the total effect is ambiguous: the water babbles pleasantly and the wall-based works package their art historical references attractively, though not quite as perfectly as their systems seem at first to imply...  

Be fearful and alert, as if peering into an abyss, as if treading onto thin ice, 2016 - glazed ceramic


Ingeborg Lüscher: It’s 1 o’clock and the bell tolls 8 times @ White Rainbow, 47 Mortimer St – Fitzrovia

Ingeborg Lüscher at the opening

If you feel the need of some intensely spiritual abstraction, your main choices are Rothko and Newman in the RA’s Ab Ex show, or this first London solo for the German widower of Harald Szeeman, who got to know Ingeborg Lüscher through selecting her work for Documenta V in 1972. These works from 1987-91 make elemental use of sulphur dust (glowing more creamily then you might expect from admixture with acrylic) and ash. That gives her paintings body, and an offsetting darkness. The fire of inspiration and the remnants of its burning out might come to mind, but Lüscher seems sparky enough at 80.

Untitled, 1988 - sulphur, dust, plaster, cardboard


Antonis Pittas: Shadows for Construction @ Narrative Projects, 110 New Cavendish Street - Fitzrovia

Shadows for Construction # 7, 2016

This striking two room installation by the Amsterdam-based Greek artist Antotis Pittas uses a sonorous Malevich red to set up a quadrilogue between the classic constructivism of the utopian Soviet period, current European politics, the artist’s hand, and the space. So, for example, a Judd-like form is made from sub-standard bronze obtained from Greek piping sold somewhat desperately as scrap; the artist’s hands imitate the gestures from speeches by various European leaders in front of the same drawing by Lyubov Popova. And a hand-made hand-come-sofa - has it fallen from a colossal Oldenburg statue of Lenin? – provides a potentially comfortable seat from which to view a wall drawing which quotes a refugee expelled from the Calais camp. The past is our grab-bag, it seems, but still we fail to learn from it… 

Installation view with Throw Hands, 2015 and 3 x Clip (untitled), 2015


The Seasonal Others  

David Salle: Mingus in Mexico, 1990

There are too many good shows to review them all, and I tend to avoid the most obvious: those open over Christmas include:

Picasso at the National Portrait Gallery (to 5.2), a superbly balanced retrospective which happens to focus on known people - plus the bonus ball of Luc Tuymans’ portraits in glasses

The RA’s Abstract Expressionism (to 2.1). True, it’s a mess with an unduly tokenistic female presence, but is still full of great things, and the Still room is a triumph. Luc Tuymans bonus his curation of Ensor.

William Kentridge at the Whitechapel Gallery (to 15.1, plus various extras, none Tuymans).

Paul Nash at Tate Britain (to 5.3), bonus Rachel Maclean

Richard Serra’s third monumental occupation (to 25.2) of the Gagosian space in Britannia Street which was built to the spec of accommodating his work

Parts (30%) of Saatchi's latest show Painters' Painters (to 28.2) - David Salle (taking over from the recent Skarstedt show), Ansel Krut, Ryan Mosley.

If you like the spectacular, Anselm Kiefer at White Cube Bermondsey (to 22.1)

Rauschenberg at Tate Modern (to 2.2), not without a Salle chime at points...

The Wellcome Collection's current double, include Making Nature, a nice counterpoint to Marian Goodman's Animalia.

Robert Rauschenberg: Triathlon (Scenario), 2005

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, The Art Newspaper and Border Crossings. I have curated five shows in London during 2013-15 with more on the way.Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.