Thursday, 21 April 2016


Up Now in London

Graham Hudson: I lost my body but found my mind (Or, my only regret, is I did not fuck Che Guevara) @ CANAL, 60 De Beauvoir Crescent - Haggerston

To 14 May:

Without saying you need to be mad to be an artist, it can sometimes help…and Graham Hudson seems to be drawing parallels with the clinically deluded in a show titled for quotes attributed to Jane Fonda. He cites a case study of someone with Cotard's Syndrome, in whihc you think you're dead, along with a revolving umbrella-heavy installation on which a light bulb is the stylus for a vinyl record of ‘test sounds’ such as traffic, table tennis and a fire alarm. Another room contains what could be an ironic self-portrait as a tub of muscle-builders’  supplement. However big his body (of work) might look, it seems, the artist will be convinced of its alarmingly slimness. No wonder Jane Fonda’s self-improving mindset comes in for mockery. So can Hudson square the circle of self-doubt and public presentation? He gets as far as rectangling a roll of tape by looping it onto the wall with fluent straightness.

Dalila Gonçalves: The clock has no place in the woods @ Lamb Arts, 10 White Horse Street – Green Park

To May 19:

Edge, 2014: Plastic meridian of a desk globe and light and rotation mechanism

An artist asked to use found objects to explore time and materiality might fear the best ideas had already been taken. Still, how about turning the implied time of playing a CD into a Judd-like specific object of 750? Or arranging coins in order of the extent to which time and human agency had worn away the faces on them? Not bad, but it would be a step up to immerse lumps of dried clay in an aquarium and record and project the  break-down and its rumbling sound as if the scale and speed were geological; and a museum-worthy coup to set the arm from a globe spinning on the wall, creating an implied diurnal temporality out of the absence of our planet, and casting a sundial of shadow. All this and more is in the first London show by Porto-based Dalila Gonçalves. She brings something of a Brazilian sensibility to her practice, though maybe it’s Portugal having a London moment, as another fine show is Carlos Noronha Feio’s at Narrative Projects.

Untitled (CD's), 2016, 750 CD's

Dunhill and O'Brien: Rockery @ White Conduit Projects, 1 White Conduit Street - Islington

 To 30 April:   (artist talk 21 April)

A few weeks ago I mentioned in my weekly column that Islington made for a good gallery tour, and that’s still true now * – including this fascinating show which compares the Japanese and British attitudes to rocks. Just as Tracey Emin has confounded the usual relative expectations by marrying a stone, long-time collaborators Mark Dunhill and Tamiko O’Brien ponder two Japanese traditions of rock veneration. They apply Suiseki - the ‘Art of Stone Appreciation’ - to glacial rocks in Britain through a series of videos; and make a window display echoing the nearby Chapel Market out of cardboard versions of the Edo period’s Fujizuka – the construction or selection of surrogates of Mount Fuji for the edification of women then disbarred from the mountain itself.  Add a witty ‘surprise yourself with a rock sculpture by doing it blind’ and the show, erm… rocks.

Stone Appreciation: having discovered ‘celebrity’ rocks by purchasing postcards on the Internet, Dunhill and O’Brien  visit and measured these much photographed landmarks, such as the Bowder Stone in Cumbria.

 * it’s worth mentioning Liane Lang & Nigel Grimer at the James Freeman Gallery   and Joby Williamson at Tintype


The Missing: Rebuilding the Past @ Jessica Carlisle, 4 Mandeville Place – near the Wallace Collection

Still from 'The Quake'
What’s just the second show in Jessica Carlisle’s handsome permanent space is a timely artistic response to the iconoclasm in Syria. It effects a mournful tone which nonetheless mines the uncomfortable aesthetic attraction which ruins acquire. Piers Secunda consistently operates in that area, as in his head with and without casts of bullet holes from a frontline Syrian village; less expectedly, Matteo Barzini’s impactful reportage film The Quake, 2015, features a soundtrack by Ennio Morricone which wrests a haunting beauty from the noise of destruction. Turning to reconstruction of sorts, Syrian refugee Tmam Aikhidaiwi Alnabilsi replicates a now-damaged mosque, and the Institute of Digital Archeology shows the maquette for what will soon become a full-size 3D print of the Triumphal Arch of Palmyra in Trafalgar Square. Add three more artists, including James Brooks’ poignant classically-infected meditations*, and the range impresses.     

Piers Secunda: ISIS Bullet Hole Painting (Assyrian Head), 2015-16 - industrial floor paint, metal fixtures

* see my Feb 2016 choices for a fuller discussion


Francis Bacon / Darren Coffield @ the Herrick Gallery, 93 Picadilly - Central

To 21 May -

Francis Bacon: Untitled, (blue pope) pastel and coloured paper collage, 148x99cm
Alice Herrick, who moved east to west last year, has come up with a fascinating pairing here: the first London chance to see the large drawings somewhat controversially attributed to Francis Bacon (whether his or not, I don't much like them); photos of Bacon by Neil Libbert; and new work by Darren Coffield, who knew Bacon and is working on a history of his habitual haunt, the Colony Room Club. Coffield (best known for jumbling faces' ups and downs) shows paintings which are cut into puzzle templates, scrambled and reconstituted so that, as Eric Morcambe might have put it, all the right notes are present, but not necessarily in the right order. This proves a perceptual game with some queasy punch, especially in multiple portraits of a curiously disparate group Coffield happens to know: here are 5 Alexei Sales, 4 Peter Tatchells, 3 Margaret Zuckermans and 3 Hattie Hayridges, the pieces swapped across each the groups and sometimes extra unseen versions, too.
Darren Coffield: Peter Tatchel (i), 2015, acrylic on die-cut board, 42 x 32cm

Michelle Dovey The Colourful Sausage Trees @ Gimpel Fils, 30 Davies Street - Mayfair

 Midsummer Red Trunk (Colourful Sausage Tree), 2015 - oil on canvas, 92 x 122 cm
There’s no shortage of art gardens and flowers available for spring, principally at the Royal Academy and the National Gallery, but Gimpel Fils provides an alternative splash of colour for spring. Michelle Dovey calls her current subject ‘sausage trees’, hinting slightly comically at how the forms are broken down. They’re made in one-off wet on wet sessions in her back garden in Wales, derive from her favorite oak, and utilise all the colours she sees around her but not (as Eric Morcambe might have told her) necessarily in the right order. The observation in all weathers take us to Monet, while her intuitive derivation of colour taken from - but free of - nature might place her somewhere between Matisse’s Fauve and late periods. Can that be such a bad place to be?

Self Portrait as a Dancing Tree, 2016 - oil on canvas, 92 x 122 cm
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 Finbar Ward: In Absence at FOLD, 158 New Cavendish St – Fitzrovia

It hardly sounds feasible to merge Robert Ryman, Steven Spielberg and Carlos Cruz-Diez, yet they all came to mind at Finbar Ward’s novel sculptural installation of 300 small paintings.  Ryman as the face of each is a deceptively painterly monochrome, predominantly white but not without colour – a framing device of artist-ground cobalt violet. Spielberg because the obsessive line-up of fin-shaped canvasses brought a certain film to mind. Cruz-Diez bacause if you walked past the serried whitenesses then turned back, you saw the scuffed and contingent rear sides of Ward’s offcuts of found wood, many of them festooned with a notational ‘b’ for back, setting up a contrast worthy of a Physiochromie.


Anna Barriball: New Works @ Frith Street Gallery, Golden Square - Soho

Night Window with Leaves, 2015 -  Pigment and beeswax picture varnish on paper,            235 x 124 cm
I’ve never seen Anna Barriball apply her signature frottage with more resonance than here, moving from morning blinds; to her studio windows, pressed full of light; to a candle-smoked evening; and through to the first sunrays of a new a diurnal cycle, taken from lead window designs. She’s in there too, via the sequins on her T-shirt vibrating to her heartbeat. That suggests ultrasound, and Barriball has indeed just given birth, setting up a contrast with Night Window with Leaves, which memorialises a former neighbour. All use the exacting indexical sculpting of a small pencil to press her work up against the world, as if to avoid, in her words ‘the space between looking and representation’. 

Sunrays II, 2016 -  Pencil on paper,  52 x 53 cm
Das Institut @ the Serpentine Gallery – Kensington

One of the 80 slides in the series 'When You See Me Again It Won't Be Me', 2014
Das Institut’s show applies a wide range of languages (graphic alphabets projected in light; slapstick slideshows; self-portrait photograms; marbled paint on mylar; stained glass brushstrokes…)  and a cornucopia of identities – solo, dual, collaborative, fragmented, disguised, subconscious, oppositional. All to the point as the umlauted German duo Kerstin Brätsch and Adele Röder* explore the annihilation of the self through cooperative action (rather than losing one’s identity in the corporate and commercial world).  Rebecca Lewin’s catalogue essay cites Deleuze’s notion of the ‘dividual', as a ‘a person made of data which can be endlessly subdivided and recombined. It’s complex, yes, but worth spending time on – the more so as the midpoint of a wander via Hilma Af Klint at the other Serpentine space and Slate Projects’ latest at the Averard Hotel.

* say ‘Bretsch’ and ‘Rerder’

Three of Adele Röder's 'Solar Body Prints', 2013


Bonheur de Vivre @ Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 28 Duke St - Central

Henri Matisse: Jeune femme assise en robe grise, 1942
Most shows reflect something of their gallerist, but rarely as explictly as Bernard Jacobson here declares ‘this is me’ through the art joys in his life. Matisse is God in Jacobson’s world, and he makes an annual pilgrimage to the painter’s grave in Nice. Matisse leads by way of colour and light to Miro, Calder, Sam Francis and the show’s only living artist, William Tillyer. Jacobson regards Robert Motherwell as the greatest ever American painter. We differ slightly, as I don’t even rate Motherwell as the best painter in his own house during his marriage to Helen Frankenthaler*, but it’s good to see such a passionate show, and the selection of 16 works is exemplary enough that I was surprised to learn it’s all for sale.  

*that said, I haven’t read Jacobson’s book on Motherwell, which doubtless makes a case

Joan Miró: Femme et oiseau devant la nuit, 1944


Jane Bustin: Rehearsal @ Copperfield, 6 Copperfield Street - Southwark

Faun (2015) acrylic, polyeurathane, copper pins, balsa wood, 50cm x 100cm
There are, I’d say, three ways of ‘infecting’ minimalism with the personal and lyrical: gesture, fragility and implied personal connections or narrative. Jane Bustin’s rigorously poised and openly beautiful geometries typically incorporate backstories, and here it is Nijinsky - in rehearsal, on the stage, in costume - as filtered through her son, who is himself a dancer and whose bodily dimensions are incorporated into the work. There is also some fragility: both in her characteristic use of potentially tarnishable copper, and in her new adoption of porcelain so thin it looks like paper. There’s also a hint of gesture in the circles formed on the porcelain by the rims of beakers – catching not just an implied choreographic movement echoed by studio practice, but Nijinsky’s favourite shape.

La Ronde (2015) Oxides on porcelain 23cm x 18cm


Mark Wallinger @ Hauser & Wirth, Savile Row – Central
id Painting 12, 2015 - Acrylic on canvas, 360 x 180 cm

Mark Wallinger’s first solo show for Hauser & Wirth fills both impressive spaces and gains traction from how several works build to a vision of the self – not as straightforwardly unified, but rich in variant perspectives. One gallery is full of the 3.8m high ‘Id Paintings’ which explore the tall dark format of Wallinger’s versions of the I from different fonts, but with expressionist gestures applied with the hand and laboriously replicated in Rosrchach-like way.   The other contains the superego of a giant mirror revolvingon high, national identity linked to revolving views of an oak tree on a roundabout in Essex, and the artist as flaneur seen only as the shadow which precedes him through the city as he walks to experience it. 
Orrery, 2016 -  4-channel video installation, sound


Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries 

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.