Saturday, 30 August 2014


The latest in my rolling top ten, together with previous choices which you can still see


Trade @ Castor Projects, 16 Little Portland St  -  Fitzrovia

Alan Magee: Return to glory, 2014
Castor Projects have co-opted a west end gallery during its summer close for their first exhibition, bringing together a group of artists who tweak the process of fabrication. Andy Wicks turns picture fittings into sculptural forms which confuse work and support; Alan Magee sort of repairs the holes in hula-hoops by filling them with plaster; Rachel Champion adapts pea shingle to the gallery environment; amd Matt Blackler magnifies a damaged drillbit into a mountainous precipice which is still the smallest piece in the show. Meanwhile Matt Calderwood’s 15 minute film sees him make and unmake versions of the monumental by rearranging six bricks in six ways via many - equally valid? - interim stages.

Still from Matt Calderwood: Six Sculptures, 2011


Giulio Paolini: ‘To Be or Not To Be’ & Francis Upritchard: ‘Do What You Will’ at the Whitechapel Gallery

To 14 Sept (Paolini) / 28 Sept (Upritchard)

Giulio Paolini: Delphi, 1965

There’s much to be said for the unusual coupling of Giulio Paolini’s coolly effervescent Arte Povera teasing at the roles of artist and spectator, with Francis Uprichard’s children’s commission. Paolini is most characteristically present in not quite making a straightforward appearance in 40 years of such putative self-portraits as Delphi, in which he seems to be looking through a canvas, distanced by stretcher bars and sunglasses, while we're round the back. Upritchard takes on the classroom staple of the dinosaur, making new variants out of balata, a rubber-like Amazonian material, to gloriously gloopy goofy effect.
One of Francis Upritchard's balata dinosaurs (on a plinth by Martino Gamper)


Eleni Bagaki, Stéphane Blumer, Heena Kim and Soomeen Kim: I Meet Together, I Agree @ VITRINE, 183-5 Bermondsey St and on Bermondsey Square - Bermondsey

To 30 Aug (Gallery) / 13 Sept (Square):

Stéphane Blumer: installation on Bermondsey Square

Here the overarching theme is the nature of the local from foreign perspectives. That’s most direct in Stéphane Blumer’s soundpiece, in which he asked 50 Londoners to tell him a secret. Only five did, so the result is something of a communicative desert, consistent with the Swiss artist’s other works: a giant hashtag in soundproof packing foam, like an anti-advert for our times; and a panoramic hour-long montage of 25 film scenes featuring lone protagonists in desert landscapes, to meditative and convention-revealing effect. Add ‘Forgetten Materials’, Soomeen’s beautifully judged installation of slates found in nearby building sites and co-opted into her performative inventory; fellow Korean Heena’s near-abstract paintings derived from the regulation of laundry; and some streaky Bagaki bacon a la Greque.. the four artists, along with Indian-born curator Mary George, and have conjured a lively and coherent show from their summer residencies at Vitrine.
Soomeen Kim: ‘Forgetten Materials’, 2014 (detail)

Lucy Sparrow: The Cornershop @ 19, Wellington Row – Shoreditch

Felt artist Lucy Sparrow has opened a corner shop in which all 3,000-odd items – from packets of crisps to ice cream to top shelf soft porn to should-be-soft loo paper to the till itself - results from a seven month binge of sewing. It’s all for sale, as impressively set out on the website. This wackiness has its precedents: Yayoi Kusama’s phallus infestations, Olek covering everything in crochet. Galleries are, of course, shops of a sort. And the best thing in White Cube’s Masons Yard summer show is the assistants’ shoes. All the same, the question arises: is this art or hobbyist obsession? Pure fun or a heartfelt paean to the disappearance of independent shops? 

Parker Cheeto's shoes as worn at White Cube

Soon Hak Kwon: Truth is in the Detail @ Union Gallery, 94 Teesdale St – Cambridge Heath
To 13 Sept:
History of UNION Gallery IV, 2014. Digital Prints on 42 Aluminium Panels
Through his ongoing History Of project, London based Korean Soon Hak Kwon has built a practice out of photographing gallery walls in high resolution and installing the results… on gallery walls, so making the supporting act of display excessively visible. That’s treble-tweaked in this cunning exhibition. First, Union’s own walls are represented in 42 panels mimicking how the Kepler Telescope image sensor array shows the results of its seeking out other planets. Second, the accidental test shot presence of the ladder used to shoot an altarpiece builds the method into its being photographed echoes Kepler’s upward aspirations. Third, the other two walls, left blank but spotlit, gain their own fresh presence. Quite a bit of content for a painting show with no paint.

Ecce Homo, 2014, Giclee Print on Alumium


Schema – Sukima @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place – Tottenham Court Rd 

To 13 Sept:

Installation view with Yasuko Otsuka left, Kenneth Dingwall ahead,
Yoko Terauchi right

This six-strong Anglo-Japanese curation by David Connearn can be viewed at two levels, and not just Laure Genillard’s ground floor and basement: on the one hand, a post- Heideggerian account of Kant which uses the linguistic coincidence set out in an accompanying  newspaper that the English schema (plan) and the Japanese sukima (crevices) are pronounced the same as a starting point (phew!) or as a delicately beautiful collection of interventions which contrast eastern gradations (Yasuko Otsuka’s subtle duochrome lithographs on cotton, Yoko Terauchi’s shifting perspective of the gallery space using graphite on paint to shadow the floor, Hakudo Atsuo’s silver dust drawings)  with western clarity  (Gary Woodley’s line sliced through the stairs, Kenneth Dingwall’s more logical colour-sets, Tom Benson’s white painting with an accompanying text which makes for a neat face-off with the canvas at the centre of Yasmina Reza’s play ‘Art’).  Recommended either way.

Gary Woodley: Impingement no. 62. double helix, 2014


Keita Miyazaki (& Bongsu Park): Sound & Vision @ Rosenfeld Porcini, 37 Rathbone St – Fitzrovia

Collective Practice, 2014: aluminium bronze, felt, exhaust pipe 

Young Japanese artist  Keita Miyazaki has a resonant-enough central idea for his new sculptures, which look to create some sort of utopian mode, however ironic, out of post-tsunamic landscape by combining parts of old car engines, festooning them with colourful origami forms, and building in public jingles from the Tokyo soundscape.   That said, I can imagine it turning null, but Mizazaki’s forms take on an unpredictable almost animal life as their contrasts hint at post-recessionary flowering, industry in the community, and party streamers threatening to trump environmental issues. The no-nonsense aesthetic and political charge of the car engine have made it a fairly frequent component of conceptual art – see Thomas Bayrle, Matthew Barney and Roger Hiorns (though not John Chamberlain: 'I didn’t want engine parts, wheels, upholstery, glass, oil, tires, muffler systems or transmissions.  Just the sheet metal').

Quarantine, 2014:   felt, paper, exhaust pipe

Eric van Hove: V12 @ Copperfield Gallery, 6 Copperfield Street - Southwark

To 1 Aug, then 1-20 Sept:

V12 Laraki: Alternator (2013): Yellow copper, red copper, nickel silver, mahogany wood, cedar wood, cow bone, sand stone, cotton, ram's horn, cowskin, tin, chinese superglue and cow horn.

In an unusual twist on work not being what it seems, the apparent bling of intricate abstract sculptures in the second show of the third gallery to use this spacious former church hall is far from the point. Rather, they’re part of a project which revisits a failed dream of manufacturing a luxury sports car wholly in Morocco by commissioning to-scale versions of the 463 components in the Mercedes V12 engine which Abdeslam Laraki was eventually forced to use in the ‘Luraki Fulgara’. As such, it’s a social sculpture project orchestrated by the multi-national Van Hove to empower 57 of the estimated three million self-employed Moroccan craftsmen to make something other than tourist fodder. They worked reclaimed and traditional materials such as cow bone and recycled aluminium to the point of looking precious, so harnessing traditional skills in a sort of reverse engineering of factory line production.

V12 Laraki: Alternator (2013) - exploded view

An Impossible Bouquet: Four Masterpieces by Jan van Huysum @ Dulwich Picture Gallery

To 21 Sept:

Vase with Flowers, c. 1715

The obvious reasons to visit the country’s oldest public gallery are the permanent collection (all that Poussin!) and (also to 21 Sept) a winning account of Ben and Winifred Nicholson and their circle in the 1920s. Yet there’s also a focussed gathering of four floral still lives by the Dutch painter Jan van Huysum (1682-1749).  Dulwich’s own example, set against a dark background, is from 1715. Here it’s joined by three loans which follow his 1720 switch in to setting his Rococo bouquets against gardens with statuary. Their pre-refrigeration ‘impossibility’ is, of course, that Huysum took up to two years over each painting, and so shows blooms from quite different seasons - up to 40 different species plus maybe ten insects in each - all of which are informatively set out by means of interpretative keys. 

Flowers in a Vase with Crown Imperial and Apple Blossom at the Top 
and a Statue of Flora, 1731-32 


A Poem for Raoul and Agnes @ Ancient & Modern, 201 Whitecross Street - near The Barbican

To 6 Sept (but closed 10-26 Aug):

Winifrid Nicholson: Palm, 1980

Talking of flowers, here are 14 floral works, chosen by Sherman Sam with a poem of accepting transience by another art critic – Barry Schwabsky – in mind: ….’We more than wounded know nothing / of flowers but the ripe pod / scatters its seed regardless’.  Cue a Winifred Nicholson worthy of Dulwich; Phoebe Unwin’s nuanced nude disguised in a bloomscape; Alex Katz alongside his under-seen peer Jane Freilicher;  Eithne Jordan’s play in the office - hardly separate given Ancient & Modern’s scale – with the separate lobby of Spruth Magers; and various other seasonal subtleties in one of the most enjoyable summer shows around (Simon Lee and Laura Bartlett’s project space are also commended).

Eithne Jordan Office I, 2014

Sam Francis @ Bernard Jacobson Gallery, 6 Cork St – Central

Untitled (#2 Pri-Rain), 1964 - gouache on paper

As John Yau says in the accompanying book to this extensive and beautiful survey of works on paper by the Californian artist Sam Francis (1923-94), he’s hard to place as an American abstractionist, being neither an Expressionist nor a Colour Field painter. Plenty lay behind his fluid and spontaneous-looking work – flight, botany, Zen, Jung, alchemy, dreams and his considerable physical sufferings from a plane crash, tuberculosis, kidney disease and cancer. This show ranges from early Tobeyesque explorations to his petal-like phase to his radical use of the ‘empty centre’, to the ‘blue balls’ to structured pours as those background factors are reflected in different formal approaches. All of which might be bracketed as using colour to trammel between the physical world of paint and ground and the immaterial world of thought and air.

Untitled (L.A.), 1976

PERFECTIoNISM @ Griffin Gallery, 21 Evesham St – Latimer Road

To Aug 30:

Katerina Blannin: Three Piece  Suite, Vert, 2014
To 30 Aug: www.

Becca Pelly-Fry, the director of Winsor & Newton's lively space, has chosen ten artists whose work, shares an underlying 'perfectionism of process'. As teed up by an intelligently ludic wall text by Nick Hornby, they range from Lee Edwards’ intimate portraits on wood knolls to Inbal Strauss’ meticulously wrought pseudo-functional sculptures to Dale Adcock’s paradoxically intricate control of monumental surfaces to Iavor Lubomirov's canny sculpting of W&N's own graph paper. Katrina Blannin derives angular geometries from grids, then groups the forms into triptychs to complicate their visual dance of ghosting and mirroring. It's all precisely calibrated, yet the weave of the linen, along with the odd stray hair, is allowed to insinuate humanising touches of what one might call perfectly judged imperfections. 

Dale Adcock: Tomb, 2012


Candida Höfer: Villa Borghese at Ben Brown Fine Arts12 Brook's Mews - Mayfair

To 19 Sept:

Villa Borghese Roma XVIII, 2012

Candida Höfer's Villa Borghese series is typical of her intimately monumental, formally similar records of culturally significant public interiors: she uses natural light only (Höfer adjusts her exposure time from minutes to hours as necessary), includes no people (though this set is statue-heavy by way of stand-in), centres the far wall from a slightly raised viewpoint, and generates an air of splendour and permanence. Indeed, despite the lack of digital intervention, you might say that Höfer  presents such spaces more as we might imagine them to be than as they would be likely to appear to us, were we there.


Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America @ the Saatchi Gallery - Sloan Square

To Nov:

Rafael Gómezbarros:  'Casa Tomada' (Seized House)

There are plenty of big shows which it hardly seems necessary to mention: such brilliance as  Matisse at the Tate Modern; Veronese, all theatre and colour at the National Gallery, any lack of depth well-aligned to modern tastes – or at any rate to mine; Phyllida Barlow in ramshackle glory at Tate Britain; and Giuseppe Penone at Gagosian. And the less convincing: Schnabel at The Dairy, for example, or Herman Bas's two sites for Victoria Miro. Then there are mixtures like Chris Marker at the Whitechapel, and Saatchi’s new ragbag of South America and Africa… if you’ve never been to the excellent Jack Bell Gallery, there’s a crash course here as three rooms are given over entirely to expanded versions of four of the African explorer’s lively shows. Still, Pangaea’s signature room is its first: Rafael Gómezbarros' 440 giant ants swarm the walls, each made of two cast human skulls with branches for legs, and held together by dirty bandaging. 

 Images courtesy the relevant artists and galleries + Mary Boone Gallery, New York (Cotton)

Sunday, 24 August 2014


     Katharina Fritsch: Hahn/Cock, 2013 in Trafalgar Square

Galleries aside, London grows ever more artistically interesting. I rather like Fritsch's 15 footer poking fun at Nelson's Column. But pausing only to note of that the German word hahn has the same double meaning as cock in English, here's my choice of less publicised sculptural works - some permanent, some temporary -  you can see out and about in London  this summer.

Dale Chihuly: The Sun, 2014 at Berkeley Square

The latest international venue for this Dale Chihuly spectacular is Berkeley Square, till the end of the year. It consists of 1,573 hand-blown glass elements from the glass master's studio in Seattle, where for 35 years now he has directed others rather than blowing the glass himself (Chihuly was blinded in one eye by glass in 1976 - not in the studio, but when thrown through a car windshield). The Sun works well both by day, when the effect is of an impossibly exotic tree, and when illuminated each night.


Cecil Balmond H_Edge  at Bishop's Square, Spitalfields

Anglo-Sri Lankan designer, architect and artist Cecil Balmond's urban walk-in hedge will hover over a reflecting pool opposite the Allen & Overy building until October. The 'leaves', I suppose, are thousands of curvy x-shaped aluminium plates, held tensely in place by stainless steel chains. Balmond (co-designer of several Serpentine Pavilions and, with Anish Kapoor, of the ArcelorMittal Orbit) sees it as embodying 'infinity and zero' - so it may be just me, but I found it an attractively kinky from of foliage. And, like 'The Sun', it is dramatically illuminated at night.


Gavin Turk: Nail, 2011 at One New Change, St Paul's

What god-sized object used to be pierced by this 12 metre bronze, treated to take on a stable look of rust on an equally blown up - and so unnatural - scale? Whatever it was, the nail seems stranded between the resonance it would have in the nearby St Paul's Cathedral and the role it didn't play in building the new shopping centre outside which it stands. Gavin Turk's comic riff on Claes Oldenberg certainly puts the nearby bollards in their place.


David Batchelor: Chromolocomotion, 2014 at St Pancras Station

The latest commission (April-Oct) over the Grand Terrace of a station best known sculpturally for Paul Day's 9 metre kissers is a much happier match for Sir George Gilbert Scott great Gothic design of 1868-1874. Colour theorist David Batchelor uses 44 Perspex L-shapes to play the look of a video game and the giant Olympic Rings previously seen here into a stained glass effect. The right light through the Barlow Shed roof turns the platforms into stages for rainbows, and 'you can't not like that', as the artist himself says. Though those lumpen lovers are annoyingly close...


Oliver MarsdenDub, 2010 at 10 Rochester Row, Westminster

Oliver Marsden is best-known for meditative paintings which explore the intersection of intense colour with the mystical power of circular formations to produce what he calls 'a state of resonance' - as if sound waves were caught in a liquid speaker.  I was surprised to hear that he'd applied the approach to the facade of a building, but the 'luxury living' of  55 apartments and penthouses at Ten Rochester Row hums with satisfying subtlety.


Mark Titchner: Love Flags, 2014 on the South Bank

Turner-prize nominee Mark Titchner’s festival flags spelling out ‘love’ incorporate the rainbow spectrum, as used by the peace and pride movements, and the love knot.  Here's one seen through Jeppe Heine's ever-popular  Appearing Rooms fountain. The Festival of Love, which runs to the end of August, has its share of naffness but incorporates many good things: lots of Lothar Goetz; entertainingly phallic  inflatables by Zoe Walker and Neil Bromwich; Frances  Stark's video My Best Thing; and the excellent show What's Love Got to Do with It in the Hayward Project Space  (with Anna Barham, William Cobbing, Sharon Hayes, Joanna Piotrowska and Ilona Sagar). 


Tobias Rehberger: Dazzle Ship, 2014 at Victoria Embankment

As part of the centenary commemoration of World War One, Tobias Rehberger is ‘dazzling’ the HMS President  near Blackfriars until December. The ship served (built 1918) served as one of the ships painted in camouflage designed to confuse German U-Boats.  Recreating the visual technique, Rehberger designed a print of pipework viewed from different perspectives that completely covers the boat. The project complements Carlos Cruz-Diez's (much less effective) dazzling of the historic pilot ship, the Edmund Gardner, in Liverpool.

Uliana Apatina: Vertical Immersion at St Mark’s Church, 337 Kennington Park Rd (accessible to October inc. Art Licks Weekend 3-5 Oct)
An unusual public art location arises from the enthusiasm of the vicar of St Mark’s church, directly opposite the Oval tube station. The extensive crypt contains both a café and a run of chambers with installations by the Siberian space creator Uliana Apatina. A green neon and salt room, That Side Where Real Is, incorporates the video history of no fewer than nine previous installations, so revealing aspects of a rather ghostly location’s past, complete with atmospheric sounds of the film’s own making. Vertical Immersion fills a cell-like space with lines of fishing wire which look impenetrable until a path through is spotted, only for the route to veer towards invisibility as the angles change. You end up feeling your way into an uncertain future.


Shin Meekyoung: Written in Soap: A Plinth Project, 2012 at Cavendish Square, Mayfair

Korean Shin Meekyoung is known for making surprising use of soap. You can currently wash your hands on one of her sculptures in the form of the Toilet Project at Sketch in Conduit Street. The external location of this version of the Duke of Cumberland provides an alternative mechanism for deterioration. Two years in, he's lost an arm and leg and is cracking up badly - catching up, perhaps, with what the original 1770 sculpture of the Duke would have looked like had it not been removed in 1868.


Shin Meekyoung: Plinth Project (2012). Cavendish Square, 24 July 2014

Clem Crosby: 180 Monochrome Paintings, 2004-06 at the Young Vic, Southwark

Were can you find 180 paintings on permanent outdoor display? You may have walked past and not noticed, but the panels which might seem to be merely cladding the Young Vic Theatre are indeed manifold individual yellow-tending abstracts by Clem Crosby, held in place and semi-hidden by a mesh screen. The paintings look best at night, when their variation and expressiveness emerges fully: add that the bar’s pretty good, and you don’t even need a play to justify a visit.


Wendy Taylor: Spirit of Enterprise, 1987 at Heron's Quay

From dung beetles to pilot kites to a giant timepiece near Tower Bridge, Wendy Taylor's seventy-plus  probably mean she has more public sculptures on display than any other living artist. It's no surprise, then, to find her in the Canary Wharf area, which has many such commissions, some of responding well to the settings of water and architecture. That's the case here, as mirror-polished Thames-like curves  pick up on and reflect the surroundings to suggest a that man and nature might progress harmoniously.

James Hopkins: Angled Ball, 2011 near Wembley Stadium

Sport can make an awkward subject, but James Hopkins scores with a four metre high ball at Wembley. Its hexagons and pentagons make up a convincing black and white football from some angles, but transmute into a prototypical modernist abstraction from other viewpoints. That’s consistent with Hopkins’ established interest in how points of view change what we see, and so suggest that there is no objective ‘true perception’ - as in his equally cunning sculptures of words reflected in mirrors such that, for example, 'rear' becomes 'view'