Thursday, 24 April 2014

TOP TEN UP NOW

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

TEN CURRENT CHOICES

Nicole Wermers: The London Shape @ Stanley Picker Gallery, Kingston University

To 24 May: www.stanleypickergallery.org



Nicole Wermers is known for explorations of consumer design, so perhaps it’s no surprise that when she saw a Roman friend’s most valuable crockery set aside for washing up by hand, she thought not of detergent but of art. Placed a bit high for cleansing action on eye level plinths, grouped by theme and interlock, and energised by some perilous-looking overhangs,  her four ‘dishwashing sculptures’ turn appropriation into a collage which references the Dutch still life tradition – yet also poke fun at sculptural pretension by bringing it down to the level of a daily chore. This new stream is the highlight from the London-based German’s recent residency at Kingston University’s gallery space.

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Richard Galpin: Elephant (Ten Thousand Revolutions per Minute) @ Hales Gallery, Tea Building, 7 Bethnal Green Rd – Shoreditch
Having developed a practice in which the material status of photos of cityscapes was emphasised to architectural effect by cutting into them with a scalpel, Richard Galpin has now switched weapons to attack self-sized photographs with a 10,000 rpm sander. The images are of temporary structures and sites around Elephant & Castle, but their language proves to be abstract painting, though you can still spy the cut-away constructivist Galpin down the sides of the steel structure which holds the ten photographs away from the wall like advertising hoardings. What I like best are the passages in which it gets hard to tell what’s deterioration in the subject as shot, and what is damage done to the photographic surface.
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Pangaea: New Art From Africa and Latin America @ the Saatchi Gallery - Sloan Square

To 31 Aug:  www.saatchigallery.com

Rafael Gómezbarros:  'Casa Tomada (Seized House)

There are plenty of big shows which it hardly seems necessary to mention: Matisse triumphant 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; 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.

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Berndnaut Smilde: Antipode @ Ronchini Gallery, 22 Dering St – off Oxford St





Cumulus Dering Street 22, 2013
Dutch artist Berndnaut Smilde has become known for his photographs of clouds created inside various spaces, acting as ghostly intimations of the ideal and ethereal counterpoints to architectural solidity. But he has other ways to explore space and weight: half a dozen of the Nimbus series are complemented by diminutive plastic models, including one of the gallery in which we stand, nestled under blocks of aerogel, a substance as close to the weight of a cloud as you will get; vintage  postcards are modernised by gleaming white miniature tiling, then blown up hugely into columnar versions,  their cracks and creases prominent.

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James M. Barrett @ New Art Projects, 17 Riding House Street – Fitzrovia





New Art Projects was brimming with bearded middle-aged men when I looked at James M Barrett’s 16 portrait photographs of mostly middle-aged men, 14 of them bearded.  That, I was told by bewhiskered gallerist Fred Mann, is very much the current look. The photographs have an Old Testament  / Old Master heft, which Barrett explained results from obsessive eight hour Photoshop sessions on each.  He overlays a colour original with multiple black-and-white versions, so that an almost complete reduction of colour is achieved through a paradoxically additive process. He then modifies every detail of his 4 gigabyte files - repositioning features to suit, repainting each hair - to achieve a rugged look at some sort of odds with the mainstream norms of plastic surgery and airbrushing. 


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Ella Kruglyanskaya: how to work together @ Studio Voltaire, 1a Nelsons Row – Clapham Common

To 8 June: www.studiovoltaire.org

Zip It!, 2014
New York based Latvian Ella Kruglyanska paints assertively ebullient women going about tasks spread across the divide of sexual strereotypes from cleaning to bricklaying. Her three week residence in Clapham was enough to produce the sketches and finished versions of an outside work and a wall painting of the wall being painted. They're all at an in-your-face 1.5 x life size,  drawn from her imagination complete with often-striking clothes designed to rack up the vitality. Kruglyanskaya sees them as an appropriately hysterical response to the conditions faced by women.  Men are absent, unless in the gaze implied, but as Kruglyanska pointed out to me, plenty of men have concentrated on depicting women…







 
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About Time @ Maddox Arts, 52 Brook’s Mews – Mayfair

To 31 May: www.maddoxarts.com

Paul Huxley: Metronome, 1979
Assiduous followers may recall that I recently co-curated a show called ‘It’s About Time’ (see http://paulsartworld.blogspot.co.uk/2013/12/its-about-time-asc-gallery-128.html) , but Laura Culpan’s choice of six artists makes something very different from a semantically similar starting point. The highlights are Cuban Glenda León’s Waste of Time, an hourglass overflowing to a mountainous extent; Colombian Miler Lagos’ The Rings of Time, a 2 km roll of a year of The Times which recycles the paper back into a log; and Paul Huxley’s magisterially muted painting which looks abstract and maybe out of place until you see the title: Metronome
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Valeska Soares: Double-Margin @ Max Wigram Gallery, 106 New Bond St – Mayfair
To 24 May: www.maxwigram.com

Not All Who Wander Are Aimless, 2014 Canvas, book pages, nautical glasses, rum, reclaimed wood table, nautical paintings

Some artists are suspicious of beauty, others avoid the explicitly poetic. New York based Brazilian Valeska Soares is refreshing unconstrained in those respects as she probes time, memory, love and literature through the exploratory filter of how emotions affect perception. Thus a frame of blue-covered books acts as a portal; a dangling clock, missing its hour hand, circles hourly around its ceiling fitting; and we see a selection of sea paintings and appropriate title pages through nautically-themed glasses, complete with rum, lined up along an impressively long table made from a boat plank. ‘East of Eden / A Bit Off The Map’ read two of the titles… ‘The Lights Are Dimming / My Stillness’.   


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Mona Kuhn: Acido Dorado @ Flowers Gallery, 82 Kingsland Rd - Hoxton

To 10 May:  www.flowersgallery.com

AD6016, 2013-14
LA-based Mona Kuhn is known for the natural intimacy of her nudes. This show, her first sequence to focus on a single figure, is set against the backdrop of the Californian desert, and photographed at the modernist Acido Dorado in Joshua Tree National Park. Helped by the extent of windows, Kuhn caresses her subject into distortion through the use of light, reflection, variable focus and refraction, and - inspired by the abstraction so achieved – zooms in on figure-free details. Upstairs, Kuhn is well-complemented by what Flowers term Esther Teichmann's 'liquid dream-like world of desire'.
 
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Michael Riedel: Laws of Form @ David Zwirner, 24 Grafton Street - Mayfair




David Zwirner is well worth a visit, both for Michael Dean and Fred Sandback (who share the top floor space) and for German prankster Michael Riedel, who gets two floors to himself. He needs them, given the expansive scale of the project, originating from his running an alternative gallery in Frankfurt (2000-11) which did nothing but copy and subvert exhibitions, performances and concerts from round about, advertising itself by means of the posters from the original events and is now itself recorded in a 500 page book. 'I am not the artist producing art', says Riedel 'I am creating a system that produces art' - yet it's one which generates its own aesthetic through intention-free reproduction, reshuffling, and computer-driven mergers to find a definite sense of liberation in its restriction to the closed loop of art made by others



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PREVIOUS CHOICES STILL ON
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Red Tape: Stanley Casselman, Hyo Myoung Kim + window project by Michel Platnic @ Gazelli Arthouse, 9 Dover Street

To 4 May: www.gazelliarthouse.com




Michel Platnic: from ' Three Studies for Portrait of John Edwards', 2013

More art recycling here: Stanley Casselman takes on the myth of originality not by copying Richters, but by making ‘original imitations’ in response to a challenge by Jerry Salz, so querying what the balance might be between branded method and specific inspiration. In the windows, Michel Platnic presents himself as a moving Bacon triptych, complete with accidents of paint, so getting at the slapstick behind the angst in Bacon. And Hyo Myoung Kim devises several interesting strategies for making digital riffs on art practices, overlaying 300 Monets, liquefying Mondrian in photoshop, presenting all 900 Richter paintings very small and all at once, and playing round effectively with a scanner and lightboxes.


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Sam Jackson: Colossal Youth (Part 2) @ Charlie Smith London, 336 Old St – Hoxton






    Super Mansty, 2014


Sam Jackson’s small (20 x 20 cm is typical) yet titularly collosal paintings of faces, body crops  and seedy acts are full of contrasts: alluringly repulsive,  dark brown but impactful, loose yet precise, painterly though photo-inspired (by the punk era work of Derek Ridgers). The underlying approach is decidedly classical, but Jackson’s recent addition of graffiti-tinged texts emphasises their  modernity and also triggers a diverting interplay between image, text and title.  Super Mansty would have had me scrabbling for a dictionary had Jackson not  been there to tell be that ‘mansty’ is an American slang term for a state of sexual anxiety.  Actually, I can't see it in the dictionary…

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Louise Hopkins: Settings @ Mummery & Schnelle, 44a Charlotte Rd – Shoreditch

To 3 May: www.mummeryschnelle.com

Quarters, 2010

The highlights of Glasgow-based Louise Hopkins’ gently analytical watercolours are several  overpainted maps, including the flag-like result above of allowing Greenland and the Black, Red and (slightly less famous) Yellow and White seas to have their colour influence; and Bull Table Photograph, 2013, which amounts to three works:  one she’s seen to be painting on hands and knees, a painted bull which seems to stand on her back; and the photograph in and on which these elements come together.  It’s all consistent with her overall practice of using supports which already contain information, so that the original, its transformation – sometimes a near-annihilation - and the relationship between the two are kept in play. She's often used patterned fabric: not here, but...


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Images courtesy the relevant artists + galleries

CHOICES FROM 2014 NOW CLOSED

Liang Yuanwei: The Tension Between a Bow and an Elephant @ Pace, 6-10 Lexington St - Soho

To 26 April: www.pacegallery.com


Untitled 20113.4
Chinese artist Liang Yuanwei specialises in paintings which originate in floral fabric patterns and end up approaching the immediate impression of wallpaper, but with very obvious brushwork up close and a spontaneously generated rhythm as she repeats close to the same  wet on wet markings in successive horizontal strips as she works her way down the canvas. This new stream of 11 variably sized, coloured and constructed paintings all derive from the same fabric pattern, and Liang has declared her intention of carrying on with that one pattern indefinitely. I like the sounds of such an obsessive focus, though you could say it just points up the way in which most painters carry on portraying just the one world…

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Rachel Pimm: Plants Under Glass @ Enclave, Resolution Way – Deptford



  
Still from Princesses of the Vegetable Kingdom, 2014

On-the-rise Rachel Pimm (who’ll show at Anita Zubludowicz in June) invites us into a sleek green world full of how we relate to nature, as filtered through a consideration of cultivating plants in homes and workplaces. Why can’t some hybrids be returned to the wild? What is the process of ‘greenwashing’ a company’s products? Can plants be bred to imitate artificiality? Have you ever seen 1930’s neon bulbs shaped as flowers?   How many words can you think of to describe a rubber plant’s leaves? Her videos and installations pose, and sometimes answer, the questions with style… 


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Camille Henrot: The Pale Fox @ Chisenhale Gallery, 64 Chisenhale Rd - Globe Town

To 13 April: www.chisenhale.org.uk


There’s a lot to take in at New York based Parisian Camille Henrot’s Chisenhale show: no surprise when this is the installation version of the 13 minute film history of the world, which won the Silver Lion for a young artist at last year’s Venice Biennale: anthropology, Leibniz, Chinese calligraphy, modernist shelving, a gothic radiator and any amount of stuff off Ebay in an undersea-blue hall. It’s very democratic: I was rather taken by Henrot’s own sculptures but she presents them as just another aspect of the mix. A radio-controlled snake gives the attendant extra purpose as it charmingly follows you around. I emerged, to be honest, no wiser – yet strangely satisfied… 


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Charles Atlas: Martha, Martha, Martha, Martha, Martha @ Vilma Gold, 6 Minerva St – Cambridge Heath

To 12 April: www.vilmagold.com


Charles Atlas’ five screen anthology of dance snippets against a blazing background of his favourite orange may look a little like Christian Marclay’s recent territory… but it was made 14 years ago.  Virtually anything, it seems, can be categorised as dance, from ballet to calisthenics, from go-go grinding to whirling willies; from sliding down stairs to footage of any film character called Martha in this not-especially reverent tribute which - breaking down her name -  teases Graham (1894 – 1991) as the Ma Ma of dance, as well as setting up comparisons with the ‘art’ in ‘Martha’. As a portrait, then, it’s rather indirect, but as entertainment its seven minutes pass fast.

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Enantiodromia @ Fold Gallery, 15 Clerkenwell Close - Farringdon

To 26th April: www.foldgallery.com

Installation view with Simon Callery's green and black works prominent, and Lawrence Carroll centre

Simon Callery has spoken about how the physical qualities of a painting involve the viewer in an encounter analogous to the experience of being in a landscape, and that’s aided here by the absence of any flat rectangles. Callery, Lawrence Carroll, Angela de la Cruz and Onya McCausland all invade the gallery space to make this a painting show which you literally have to walk around. And the land feeds directly into McCausland's process of digging the pigment - chalk, coal, iron oxide - out of the earth for her tensile yet balanced dual abstractions. As for that tricky title, in Jungian terms, 'enantiodromia' refers to an excess of one thing producing its opposite: here, I guess, the contemporary super-abundance of digital imagery has yielded material abstraction.



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Martino Gamper: design is a state of mind & Haim Steinbach: once again the world is flat @ the Serpentine Galleries – Kensington



Martino Gamper with Carl Andre bricks

Here the Serpentine makes brilliant use of its recent acquisition of a second space:  the new gallery has Martino Gamper’s extensive anthology of modern shelving design, on which many fascinating collections are displayed, from Richard Wentworth’s alternatives to the spade to Carl Andre’s assistant’s  collection of bricks to Daniel Eatock’s drinking glasses which came free - as packaging. In the old space is Haim Steinbach’s forty year retrospective. His signature move is also to present objects on shelves – though this is a far more varied show than one might have expected, ranging from early abstract paintings to linoleum and wallpaper to the re-presentation of other artists’ work. Both are fascinating shows, but what makes one ‘art’ and the other ‘design’ plus ‘collections’?

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Elisabeth Scherffig:New Works @ Faggionato, 49 Albemarle Street - Central

To April 17: www.faggionato.com
Bologna II, 2012

I guess it’s a simple idea: to make literal the pasts we sense all around us by using tracing paper to layer drawings of city maps from various eras over each other. But add in a realistically drawn aerial view of how it looks now, section the results off in the style of map folds or windows, and Elisabeth Scherffig’s evocative results are too complex to unravel with any confidence. Add mind-maps in the form of delicate heads in unfired fragments porcelain on silk, and the patterns of vineyards traced on steel, and the Düsseldorf-born (1949) Milan-based (since 1970) Scherffig provides a sensitivity to history and line which is well worth exploring. 

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He Xiangyu @ White Cube, Bermondsey St - Bermondsey


To 13 April: www.whitecube.com



This plus Darren Almond’s night photos and Franz Ackermann’s cathedral of cities in the 9x9x9 space make for a good trip to Bermondsey, not to mention there’s an excellent show across the street at Vitrine. The young Chinese conceptualist He Xaingyou, ranges from the one child policy (a lone egg in a gold eggbox), Tiananmen Square (a deflated leather tank), consumerism (rocks which look like coke as in coal turn out to be the residue of burnt coke as in cola) and his loneliness away from home (copper casts derived from the internalising move of feeling his mouth with his tongue, set in an a palate-pink room). My favourite work is the smallest: a pagoda which personalises a surreal pun by incorporating his own wisdom teeth.
Lara Schnitger @ Modern Art, 6 Fitzroy Square – Fitzrovia

To 26 April: www.modernart.net

Lara wears Schnitger – actually her ‘Sister of Arp’ brand – as does her sculpture 
Little Help from my Friend

Textiles have always been at the core of LA-based Dutch artist Lara Schnitger’s practice, mainly in banner-like quilts of feisty females wittily asserting their sexuality, and beguilingly-patch worked assemblages. They’re joined here by a new stream: for want of something she wanted to wear, Schnitger started making clothes. At the opening, she not only sported her own range – now on sale separately – but used them to dress her sculptures of flattened people.  The first time I’d seen that particular combination…


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PREVIOUS CHOICES STILL ON
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Rosson Crow, Francesca DiMattio & Mickalene Thomas: Domestic Unrest & Yinka Shonibare MBE: Phallic Stalactites and Stalgmites @ Pippy Houldsworth, 6 Heddon Street - Central

 
Rosson Crow in front of her Black Pussy in the Mirror Room

In a neatly conceived triumvirate of American hasslers of home comforts, Thomas and DiMattio make delirious collages of interiors, Thomas with rhinestones and enamel maxing the variety of surface, DiMattio faking it with what turns out to be just paint; while the painterly Crow brings Jason Rhoades’ vulgar neons into her own fluorescent space, and imagines herself diving out of a party in a reverse girl-from-a-cake move, with plenty of violent pink to make the point that pretty need not be tame. Those three feel a feisty match for Yinka Shonibare’s box project, a mirrored riot of batik-clad dildos which teases at Yayoi Kusama’s infinite and phallic modes.

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Société Réalist: Mottopsy @ Tenderpixel, Ten Cecil Court - Leicester Square


To 26 April: www.tenderpixel.com




The Parisian cooperative Société Réaliste are self-professed radicals who examine ‘the interlacement, divergence and manifold interdependence between political entities and cultural fields’. That may sound forbidding, but their methods of ‘averaging’ the meanings of national representation are very user-friendly.  The walls  are covered with text, in their invented typeface ‘mediapolice’, which enacts an averaging twice over: the 20 nouns most frequently featured in national slogans are each laboriously stencilled out of three from a range of 60 typefaces lifted from geographically-titled newspapers around the world, to generate a striking fragmentation. Meanwhile, the computerised combination of the audio files from the UN’s 193 national anthems yields a cacophonous Universal Anthem pretty much as you might expect.
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Francis Upritchard @ Kate MacGarry, 27 Old Nichol Street - Shoreditch


To 26 April: www.katemacgarry.com


Francis Upritchard with Mandrake, 2013, modelling material, foil, wire, paint, cloth

London-based New Zealander Francis Upritchard – whose husband, Martino Gamper, has an excellent show at the Serpentine – says she’s combined two types of empty vessel in her new show: her ceramic bowls and spooky-faced lampshades, and her brainless modelling clay figures. Those characters, suspended somewhere between science fiction, hippydom and the medieval, are maybe two thirds lifesize, reduce the directness of their address, albeit they’re raised on plinths so as to look us in the eye. Nor are they innocent: the harlequin sports distancing sunglasses and an erection… 


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Enantiodromia @ Fold Gallery, 15 Clerkenwell Close - Farringdon

To 26th April: www.foldgallery.com

Installation view with Simon Callery's green and black works prominent, and Lawrence Carroll centre

Simon Callery has spoken about how the physical qualities of a painting involve the viewer in an encounter analogous to the experience of being in a landscape, and that’s aided here by the absence of any flat rectangles. Callery, Lawrence Carroll, Angela de la Cruz and Onya McCausland all invade the gallery space to make this a painting show which you literally have to walk around. And the land feeds directly into McCausland's process of digging the pigment - chalk, coal, iron oxide - out of the earth for her tensile yet balanced dual abstractions. As for that tricky title, in Jungian terms, 'enantiodromia' refers to an excess of one thing producing its opposite: here, I guess, the contemporary super-abundance of digital imagery has yielded material abstraction.



 Walid Raad: Preface to the first English edition @ Anthony Reynolds Gallery,
60 Great Marlborough St - Soho



Having grown up in war-torn Libya and come to notice with his convincing fictional research documentary of its conflicts, Walid Raad’s current rigorous-looking and yet somehow mysterious  long-term project considers the reception of Arab art and its means of institutional display. Starting from the plans to construct a branch of the Louvre  in Abu Dhabi, Raad also finds plenty of beauty in the three combined elements which make up the bulk of this first British version: a wallpaper made from overlapping images of museum vitrines; small black and white illustrations of some of the 18,000 Islamic items in the Louvre’s collection; and large photographs of those objects, set in coloured overgrounds based on the peculiar irregularities of disintegrating manuscripts. A film of morphing artifacts similarly suggests how travel, means of display and historical context will affect these works’ reception.
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Martino Gamper: design is a state of mind & Ham Steinbach: once again the world is flat @ the Serpentine Galleries – Kensington



Martino Gamper with Carl Andre bricks

Here the Serpentine makes brilliant use of its recent acquisition of a second space:  the new gallery has Martino Gamper’s extensive anthology of modern shelving design, on which many fascinating collections are displayed, from Richard Wentworth’s alternatives to the spade to Carl Andre’s assistant’s  collection of bricks to Daniel Eatock’s drinking glasses which came free - as packaging. In the old space is Ham Steinbach’s forty year retrospective. His signature move is also to present objects on shelves – though this is a far more varied show than one might have expected, ranging from early abstract paintings to linoleum and wallpaper to the re-presentation of other artists’ work. Both are fascinating shows, but what makes one ‘art’ and the other ‘design’ plus ‘collections’?
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Viennese Season: Actionism @ Austin Desmond, Pied Bull Yard - Bloomsbury & Richard Saltoun Gallery,111 Great Titchfield St - Fitzrovia

 To 4 April:  www.austindesmond.com  &  www.richardsaltoun.com




Richard Saltoun’s Giulia Casalini pays tribute to Otto Muehl ’s  Materialaktion 3, 1964

The Viennese Actionists have had little recent exposure in London, and so this twin-sited show provides a welcome introduction to how, in Otto Muehl ’s 1962 words, ‘the aesthetics of the dung heap’ were made ‘the moral means against conformism, materialism and stupidity’ for him and Günter Brus, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. The shows are at something of a safe remove from the original visceral and bodily performances (though there is a film evening on 27 March), but we do get Nitsch’s ritualistic red drip paintings, photos of many a naked provocation by Muehl, using his body as a canvas, and his later paintings, like van Gogh on acid; and a Schwarzkogler sequence which turns a head into a still life. Given the phallic nature of refusing to hold back the master artist’s expression with petty Freudian concerns, I warmed especially to a Günter Brus photo which is all balls and no visible cock…




AK Dolven: Teenagers Lifting the Sky @ Wilkinson Gallery, 50-58 Vyner St – Cambridge Heath

how to reach every corner, 2013


A striking combination of rectitude and revelation in paint and sound: the paintings, made with oil on hammered aluminium, are barely-there traces of white on black or vice versa, but bear eloquent traces of the artist’s movement. The sound is the 22 minute collaboration JA as long as I can with Buddhist performer and poet John Giorno which features just the one word repeated by both:  Dolven’s Ja is her native Norwegian, expressive and sensual, and I wasn’t surprised when she told me she’d had her eyes closed tracking back through memories.  Giorno’s Ja is a deep and constant chant, but also affirmative in his lover’s Swiss-German.

Luis Tomasello: Six Decades of Reflection @ The Mayor Gallery, 21 Cork St - Central

To 28 March:  www.mayorgallery.com

 
Objet Plastique No. 1024, 2013


The Mayor Gallery has slipped above Cork Street’s controversial building works  by moving to Ben Brown’s former space on the first floor. The stairs are well worth climbing for a magisterial survey of Franco-Argentinian Luis Tomasello’s career – he’s just died at 98 -  since the epiphany of noticing coloured reflections in 1958. That led to his characteristic 3D serially geometric naturally-illuminated lightworks, the ‘Chromoplastic Atmospheres’ in which colour touches the air. He kept experimenting, as in the Black Lights, which work instead on absorbency; and this recent animation of maximum red via pegs of differing heights: intensity of colour matched by intensity of enquiry.  
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 Walid Raad: Preface to the first English edition @ Anthony Reynolds Gallery,
60 Great Marlborough St - Soho



Having grown up in war-torn Libya and come to notice with his convincing fictional research documentary of its conflicts, Walid Raad’s current rigorous-looking and yet somehow mysterious  long-term project considers the reception of Arab art and its means of institutional display. Starting from the plans to construct a branch of the Louvre  in Abu Dhabi, Raad also finds plenty of beauty in the three combined elements which make up the bulk of this first British version: a wallpaper made from overlapping images of museum vitrines; small black and white illustrations of some of the 18,000 Islamic items in the Louvre’s collection; and large photographs of those objects, set in coloured overgrounds based on the peculiar irregularities of disintegrating manuscripts. A film of morphing artifacts similarly suggests how travel, means of display and historical context will affect these works’ reception.
_________________________


Martino Gamper: design is a state of mind & Ham Steinbach: once again the world is flat @ the Serpentine Galleries – Kensington



Martino Gamper with Carl Andre bricks

Here the Serpentine makes brilliant use of its recent acquisition of a second space:  the new gallery has Martino Gamper’s extensive anthology of modern shelving design, on which many fascinating collections are displayed, from Richard Wentworth’s alternatives to the spade to Carl Andre’s assistant’s  collection of bricks to Daniel Eatock’s drinking glasses which came free - as packaging. In the old space is Ham Steinbach’s forty year retrospective. His signature move is also to present objects on shelves – though this is a far more varied show than one might have expected, ranging from early abstract paintings to linoleum and wallpaper to the re-presentation of other artists’ work. Both are fascinating shows, but what makes one ‘art’ and the other ‘design’ plus ‘collections’?
_________________________

Viennese Season: Actionism @ Austin Desmond, Pied Bull Yard - Bloomsbury & Richard Saltoun Gallery,111 Great Titchfield St - Fitzrovia

 To 4 April:  www.austindesmond.com  &  www.richardsaltoun.com




Richard Saltoun’s Giulia Casalini pays tribute to Otto Muehl ’s  Materialaktion 3, 1964


The Viennese Actionists have had little recent exposure in London, and so this twin-sited show provides a welcome introduction to how, in Otto Muehl ’s 1962 words, ‘the aesthetics of the dung heap’ were made ‘the moral means against conformism, materialism and stupidity’ for him and Günter Brus, Hermann Nitsch and Rudolf Schwarzkogler. The shows are at something of a safe remove from the original visceral and bodily performances (though there is a film evening on 27 March), but we do get Nitsch’s ritualistic red drip paintings, photos of many a naked provocation by Muehl, using his body as a canvas, and his later paintings, like van Gogh on acid; and a Schwarzkogler sequence which turns a head into a still life. Given the phallic nature of refusing to hold back the master artist’s expression with petty Freudian concerns, I warmed especially to a Günter Brus photo which is all balls and no visible cock…


_________________________

AK Dolven: Teenagers Lifting the Sky @ Wilkinson Gallery, 50-58 Vyner St – Cambridge Heath

how to reach every corner, 2013


A striking combination of rectitude and revelation in paint and sound: the paintings, made with oil on hammered aluminium, are barely-there traces of white on black or vice versa, but bear eloquent traces of the artist’s movement. The sound is the 22 minute collaboration JA as long as I can with Buddhist performer and poet John Giorno which features just the one word repeated by both:  Dolven’s Ja is her native Norwegian, expressive and sensual, and I wasn’t surprised when she told me she’d had her eyes closed tracking back through memories.  Giorno’s Ja is a deep and constant chant, but also affirmative in his lover’s Swiss-German.

_________________________
 



Fleurs du mal @ The Lion and Lamb, 46 Fanshaw St – Hoxton

To 22 March:  lionandlambgallery.co.uk
Neal Rock: Inked Prosopon, 2014

The Lion & Lamb specialises in artist-curated painting shows.  Dolly Thompsett's choices include two canvas-free works: Michael Boffey memorialises flowers by casting them into a blackened bronze ‘painting’; while Neal Rock's silicone paint construction comes across like a rubber Dale Chihuly in the colours of a Tiepolo sky. Back at oil on canvas, GL Brierley is at the more disturbing edge of the floral, Thompsett's own intricate mash-up of Fuseli, Gainsborough and natural history is as odd as it sounds, and Bernhardt Martin’s ejaculatory amalgam of popping champagne is well-placed by the bar.  Sex, death, alcohol and pub hours - what's not to like?


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Elisabeth Scherffig:New Works @ Faggionato, 49 Albemarle Street - Central

To April 11: www.faggionato.com
Bologna II, 2012

I guess it’s a simple idea: to make literal the pasts we sense all around us by using tracing paper to layer drawings of city maps from various eras over each other. But add in a realistically drawn aerial view of how it looks now, section the results off in the style of map folds or windows, and Elisabeth Scherffig’s evocative results are too complex to unravel with any confidence. Add mind-maps in the form of delicate heads in unfired fragments porcelain on silk, and the patterns of vineyards traced on steel, and the Düsseldorf-born (1949) Milan-based (since 1970) Scherffig provides a sensitivity to history and line which is well worth exploring.


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George Condo: The Discarded Human, 2013

George Condo: Headspace @ Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkeley Street and Ink Drawings @ Skarstedt, 23 Old Bond Street

To 22 March / 5 April:  www.simonleegallery.com  /   www.skarstedt.com


George Condo is a master of imaginatively energetic drawing which bursts out of a defined format. As such, he’s perfectly suited to this extremely coherent two site show: big, dark watercolour figures at Skarstedt, and brightly painted character portraits at Simon Lee. Picasso, Gris, Bacon and Giacometti are heavy in a psychogical cubist mix which ends up looking 100% Condo (he says he ‘uses every artist to become me’). My favourites are the kitschily architectural heads which make an instant impact contradicting their complexity, and a grotesquely voluptuous nude with both a displaced head and its shadowed absence. 


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Georg Baselitz: Farewell Bill @ the Gagosian Gallery, 6-24 Britannia St – Kings Cross

To 29 March: www.gagosian.com

Licht wil raum mecht hern (Lef el rial bel), 2013 - 300 x 275 cm

The Bill in question here is de Kooning who directly inspires the colour schemes and freedom of approach in a dozen giant self-portrait heads in which Baselitz wears a cap labelled ‘Zero’: just the name of his paint suppliers, but close to making a nothing out of ‘Hero’ – himself in the context of de Kooning, perhaps?  Baselitz worked across them simultaneously on the floor of his vast studio, so the scale at such close quarters undermined his control. Consequently, the fluid markmaking often comes close to reducing all except the word ‘Zero’ to an abstraction – and even that is, of course, inverted along with the heads (with one playful exception, in which I guess being the right way up makes the logo upside down).



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Daniel Lefcourt: Cast @ Campoli Presti, 223 Cambridge Heath Rd – Bethnal Green

To 22 March: www.campolipresti.com

 
This is the archetypal Campoli Presti show, i.e. work which explores slippages between object and representation and can tend towards a monochrome result (see Eileen Quinlan, Liz Deschenes, Scott Lyall, Olivier Mosset…). It’s interesting, though: Lefcourt has photographed studio dust and debris in macro-resolution, used computers to turn the result into a relief model the size of his pretty big paintings, filled the resultant mold with paint, let it dry, peeled it off and stuck it to canvas.  This maximally complex path to a paintinig uses only one colour, but the effect varies according to its resultant depth, so images of sorts emerge; and they come in pairs with slightly different production processes applied. So what are they, objects or representations? I knew we’d be asking that…

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New Order II: British Art Today @ the Saatchi Gallery, Duke of York’s HQ, King’s Road – Sloan Square

Tom Gidley: Pacifist, 2012

The second chunk of Saatchi’s New Order (or should that be 'Wen Orred'?) samples 13 artists living in London. It’s a big improvement on Part 1: Virgile Ittah’s melted antique figures, Mary Ramsey’s abstract edge manoeuvres, Dominic Beattie’s homemade retro-constructivism, Dan Rees’ plasticine satires of ab ex and Sarah Dwyer’s swirly-world all have something to be said for them, though my favourites are Martine Poppe's mistings (more in Wandsworth below) and Tom Gidley’s interactions of Richter blur with early Fontana ceramic, part of a sub-trend for staging painting with extras (qv Kate Hawkins, George Little, Finbar Ward). Still, the best reasons to visit remain for Dana Schutz and Chantalle Joffe, downstairs in Body Language.


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Arcana @ Kristin Hjellegjerde,  533 Old York Road - Wandsworth

To 16 March: www.artecogallery.com

Martine Poppe: Analogical Change 15

It’s worth a trip to Wandsworth to see this lively three woman’ show. London-based Norwegian Martine Poppe’s most recent work discovers an innovative way to handle the still life: painting in oil over polyester restorations fabric with large scale photographs beneath, she uses an expressive brush mark, but repeated to the point of unemotionality, to half-obliterate the subject as she represents it - and with the curious effect that the brushstrokes take primacy over the image from the side, but it’s the other way around from the front. Plus Gemma Nelson’s enamel candy intricacy applied to all manner of ceremonies and myths, and Amy Stephens’ harmonic plays on space, newly infected by a residency in the Sultanate of Oman. 


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Amy Stephens: Patterns in the Chaos @ William Benington Gallery, 20 Arlington Way – Angel

Minke, 2103


Wandsworth provides a taster of Amy Stephens, but her work benefits from separate space, with which it can interact with intimations of the time she spends working with architects.  This fuller range of Stephens’ work includes copper tube drawings; a delicate balance of desire and control as a flocked wood rod courses tremblingly through Perspex; collages and paintings which imagine sculptural forms; a bronze cast of a birch branch (welded laboriously from eight separately-cast branchlets) and a whale’s vertebrae which she found being used as a doorstop in Iceland. Stephens says the original bone was almost as heavy as the bronze: I love the textural contrast of inner density and outer shine, and the synecdochical way the bone stands in for the tail.


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He Xiangyu @ White Cube, Bermondsey St - Bermondsey


To 13 April: www.whitecube.com



This plus Darren Almond’s night photos and Franz Ackermann’s cathedral of cities in the 9x9x9 space make for a good trip to Bermondsey, not to mention there’s an excellent show across the street at Vitrine. The young Chinese conceptualist He Xaingyou, ranges from the one child policy (a lone egg in a gold eggbox), Tiananmen Square (a deflated leather tank), consumerism (rocks which look like coke as in coal turn out to be the residue of burnt coke as in cola) and his loneliness away from home (copper casts derived from the internalising move of feeling his mouth with his tongue, set in an a palate-pink room). My favourite work is the smallest: a pagoda which personalises a surreal pun by incorporating his own wisdom teeth.


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Nina Canell: Near Here & Silke Otto-Knapp: Monday or Tuesday @ Camden Arts Centre

To 30 March:  www.camdenartscentre.org


Nini Canell: Near Here (1 Microsecond), 2014 - photocopying toner, nylon, floor carpet, perspex, 1,000,000 volts during 1 microsecond

Camden Director Jenni Lomax has a way with the double header, here a match-up of insubstantialities delicately transformed. Silke Otto-Knapp uses black watercolours on canvas, into which she paints natural and literal stage sets by removing layers so that, in her neatly paradoxical words ‘I make  a mark with a view to what it’ll look like when I wash it away’. Nina Canell explores such effects as coagulating air, shredding a sock, magnetising nails into a hanging Hokey Cokey and passing 1,000,000 volts through photocopying toner on nylon.  Tuesday's my answer to Silke, by the way: the Centre's closed on Mondays…

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Ryan Mosley @ Alison Jacques Gallery, 16-18 Berners St – Fitzrovia



 




Surrealism tends towards a flatly factual style, but Ryan Mosely is absurd yet painterly, which has fewer precedents – maybe Magritte’s  Période vache . Here it’s pretty much business as usual in his  world of alternative myths: fewer pipes, true, and  more birds but a stable incidence (lots) of big beards and more of a tendency to generate slippages between the world-be-real and the avowedly abstract, most obviously in a man composed of multi-coloured bananas. Plus there’s a good mix between complicated set pieces and small-scale quirkiness such as the punning morbidity of a skull on a foot being called Dead Leg and the ambiguously-sexed and multi-faced Duchess of Oils.



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Ariel Reichman: Who distinguishes light from dark @ Waterside Contemporary, 
2 Clunbury St – Hoxton

You see my mother, she just doesn’t know how to light a lighter, 2014

Tel Aviv and Berlin-based Ariel Reichman insists a on cool white minimalist space by refusing to use the walls. But the show has a dark heart: a narrow pitch-black room in the middle – on the outside of which are drawings, photographs and ‘a burnt stone’ -  houses Reichman just-about operating a wind-up torch fast enough to be visible on  film. Yet his mother has it tougher, struggling for five minutes to get the knack of igniting a cigarette lighter for the first time. A couple of hundred attempts see her essay such moves as the wrist-hold, the shake and the multi-flick until her thumb’s distinctly dented. Given my DIY skills I empathise. Is it just as hard to find illumination in art? 
 

Images courtesy the relevant artists + galleries + Jochen Littkemann (Baselitz)
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Rupert Newman: Tripping the Light Fantastic @ Cock ‘n’ Bull Gallery, 32 Rivington St – Shoreditch


Three screenshots from Changing Faces
In the space below the Tramshed Restaurant (Hirst animals, Chapmans wallpaper), pop-up gallerist Aretha Campbell presents the art adventures of Rupert Newman, whose commercial day job recently included a light installation for the  Brit Awards After Party. What I assumed were two films sequencing psychedelic-geometric mutations as if, say, Delaunay and Goncharova had got loose on a computer, are in fact live, mapped projections - a technique typically used for concerts or to project adverts onto buildings. That means a digital print forms the ground, and coloured light and images are projected onto its structure. Newman's software enables him to mimic the shapes, allowing the light to create illusions by responding differently to printed and unprinted elements. Changing Faces mixes in landscapes with sound enhancing the viewer's journey, while Impetus is more architectural and slow-moving.

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Beth Collar: Some Chthonic Swamp Experience @ Tintype Project Space, 107 Essex Rd – Islington


To 8 March: www.tintypegallery.com




Here’s the artist’s hand as you may not have seen it before: not painting, but drowning in clutched despair in earth pigments on acetate wrapped around the walls. That's an awkward enough combination to ensure a cartoonish quality to the apparently flood-prescient results of Beth Collar’s in-gallery residence. In front of all this, plaster hands are mounted on rickety tripod contraptions, part branch, part real.   When I collared Beth for the meaning of those, she cited the superstition attributing power to the severed hand of a hanged man if it holds a candle made from his fat.  That reminded me of Morten Viskun, the Norwegian who paints using a severed hand as a brush. Yet the chthonic title is from Camille Paglia. This show could take you anywhere… 

Gary Webb: X7 City @ Bloomberg Space,




Considering how bright and shiny his work is, Gary Webb operates somewhat under the radar, but this deserves to be a hit, bringing memorable movement to his signature meshing of reflection and transparency; geometric and organic; artificial and natural. Against a background of life-size mirrored palm trees, drills and sanders – their functioning elements wrapped in vibrant tape - dangle from the ceiling to writhe and whirr in coloured glass vitrines. Are these, perhaps, the inhabitants of the city X7, doomed to buzz like bees on the windows of a world which has no use for their neutered analogue persistence? 



Paul Klee: Making Visible @ Tate Modern


Harmony of the Northern Flora 1927

Back in the autumn, it seemed a little unnecessary to mention these 140-odd paintings. Now perhaps, it’s worth pointing out that it’s still on. Even if Klee had produced only nature pictures, or oil transfers, or geometric abstractions, he would still be significant. In fact there are a dozen paintings here which consist of little more than squares, and their variety of mood would justify a room of their own – but that would deny another glory of this thorough retrospective: how each of the 17 rooms takes us forward through stylistic modulations in the exact, carefully numbered, order of Klee’s production.



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Adam Barker-Mill: Just Noticeable Differences @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place - Tottenham Court Rd
  
To 8 March 2014: www.lauregenillard.com

                           



Adam Barker-Mill’s primary set-up here has a computer programme fade up, hold and fade down the LED lamps which illumine an inner circle and outer ring of colours at differential speeds over a 15 minute cycle. The effect’s a sort of mini-Turrell, but with more chromatic range. There’s also a boxier work, through the slats in which blue light alters its intensity as you move past: a Cruz-Diez by other means? Maybe, except that Barker-Mill has come to these meditative colour modulations from a career as a Lighting Cameraman. Two paths to the waterfall… 

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Dean Hughes @ Maria Stenfors, unit 10, 21 Wren St – KX?






Drawn Edinburgh Shapes

Talking of male embroiderers (away with those stereotypes!) there’s plenty of intricate sewing in Dean Hughes’ first move into the application of colour. Wooden frames are hung with shapes of calico, crazed by the creases which the dying process causes in such a sensitive material - and which remain visible even after they’ve been ironed (though actually I seem to achieve a related effect with cotton!). The effect is bunting / clothes dollies / paint samples / anthologies of abstraction with a hint of seriality and a sense of potential exchange – indeed, Hughes says he found himself swapping colours around once the works were in the gallery, though he’s not encouraging visitor revisions!
 


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Lotte Rose Kjær Skau: United We/I Stand Etc. @ IMT, Unit 2/210 Cambridge Heath Road – Cambridge Heath

 


Internet art hits the gallery as Danish artist Lotte Rose Kjær Skau merges Camgirl with Cindy Sherman in ten versions of herself in trance to – mostly unheard – beats. Each self-invention has a digital add-on, from subtle as hair-sparkle to blatant as lightning, so by the time you factor in what Kjær Skau is wearing, where she is, what she might be hearing, how she moves, who might be looking her and how she’s chosen to embellish her image, the play of identities gets quite complex – as does the accompanying essay, channelling Laing, which IMT have meritoriously commissioned from Morgan Qaintance.

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Frances Richardson: Loss of the object and bondage to it @ Lubomirov-Easton, Enclave 8, 50 Resolution Way - Deptford





Sculpting in the gallery with an unusual industrial material, Frances Richardson’s Marx-quoting title casts her – with a little irony, surely - in the role of alienated labourer generating surplus value. But she allows the Concrete Canvas (www.concretecanvas.com), more typically used to make instant shelters in areas of conflict, the starring role. Teetering or propped, it brings a satisfying hardness to would-be-soft forms suggesting drapes, a discarded sleeping bag and a deadheaded flower. And their mixture of the abject and the sensual comes in a slate grey which sets off the stone-coloured walls in Lubomirov-Easton’s programmatically non-white cube. 


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Anni Leppälä @ Purdy Hicks, 65 Hopton Street - Bankside

To 22 Feb: www.purdyhicks.com


Leaves II (The Couple)
Purdy Hicks make a good job of showing the excellent Helsinki School of photographers, such as Jorma Puranen, Ola Kolehmainen, Susanna Majuri - and Anni Leppälä. She has a persuasive way of presenting linking aesthetics (here, dark reds and clouded reflections), subjects (forests, streams, her copper-haired sister) and approaches (a certain indirectness: faces but glimpsed, one thing seen through another, the past seemingly present) to form a cloud of potential narratives which suggest how fictions emerge from the real. Or as she puts it, ‘to enable the ‘fixed points’ of the visible to be transformed into imaginary space’. Leaves II (The Couple) might stand for her whole practice, as the fixed  points of leaves stuck on a photograph obscure the past space of the figures beneath.


Anissa Mack: Body Copy @ Josh Lilley, 44-46 Riding House St - Fitzrovia


Dear Victoria, 2014 - Painted aquaresin, cloves - smells good...
                   
This complex but instantly captivating first London solo from Brooklyn artist Anissa Mack turns on skewed religious imagery (legs presented like holy relics, with slots for offered coins, ‘cathedrals’ of revolving ham tins filled with amethyst), craft traditions (quilts, arrowheads), copies and fakes (the quilts are cast in resin, the arrowheads are just chips of flint), the obliquely personal (applying of her own freckle pattern to a photographed mannequin) and how memories can degrade (the cast quilts are at one remove, but the remnants of that process are then cast in pewter). What’s more, you get to carry an artwork around as you go – which, as you’ll gather, you should...  


Neil Zakiewicz: MDF Paintings @ Divus London, Enclave 5, 50 Resolution Way – Deptford

To 23 Feb: www.divus.org.uk


Deptford’s five Enclave galleries, yards from Deptford station and so six minutes from London Bridge, are well worth a February visit. Sculptor Neil Zakiewicz has had furniture manufacturers make painting-cabinet hybrids which neatly demonstrate the logic of their own making: spray-painted through their own holes when folded up, then unfolded and hung so that gravity determines the exhibited look – which is itself provisional, as rotation would change their form as well as their orientation. Painting as a flatpacked game of consequences.    
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Adham Faramway: HYRDA @ Cell Project Space, 288 Cambridge Heath Rd – Cambridge Heath


This ambitious installation by the in-demand recent RA graduate posits water as a luxury product justifying conspicuous consumption. Flat screens present hyper-hued and ripple-distorted drinking, washing and mud-masked wrestling action to the sort of new age soundtrack you’d expect in a spa – only Faramway’s sleek and many-headed manipulations of largely faked hydration suggest that technology is cleansing the intimacy from our lives. How does that relate to the abstract configurations of chunky cube spills, set on beds of colour-shifting light? Good question, do they spell out logos?  Either way, I like them, too…
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Josh Blackwell: Never Uses @ Kate MacGarry, Old Nichol St - Shoreditch

To 22 Feb:  www.katemacgarry.com


Plastic Basket (Man O War), 2014
Brooklynite Josh Blackwell is known for sewing onto everyday items: previously at Kate MacGarry handkerchiefs and sweaters. But his plastic bags, ongoing since 2004, are the most convincing: a more extreme contrast between worthlessness and art value; good use of the iron (protected by baking paper) to flatten and merge the bags (they also take laser cutting well); and bags seem naturally of the street - indeed, Blackwell has taken to working on a found a bag and then returning it to its original location for a photograph. You might also be reminded of jellyfish (after which some of them are named), although I tended to see cats.
Biggs & Collings @ Vigo, Dering St - Central

To 19 Feb: www.vigogallery.com


Living Creature

You know the score: Biggs the mosaicist lays down the ground, Collings the acid critic turned compliant husband fills it in. Whatever she say, goes on.  Titles all from Genesis. They could be landscapes, but why, when it’s all about the marks? A couple of years ago, they seemed a bit inert. Suddenly, the whole hoopla loosens up and sort of soars. Less strict with the diamonds. More variably sized, and airy, heavy, wavy, scraped, translucent, scumbled. As if they’ve suddenly seen what rules are for. To tee up transgressions. Blimey! It’s OK.  

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Magali Reus: In Lukes and Dregs @ The approach, 1st Floor, 47 Approach Road -
Bethnal Green


Dregs (Flash Batch), 2013 -  Hand hammered and powder coated aluminium, mirror polished aluminium, sand blasted aluminium, snake-eye security nuts and bolts, laser cut and powder coated aluminium, rubber dipped burnt pizzas, cotton

Magali Reus seems to have turned a vandalised kitchen showroom into a scarred city: fridges play the part of tower blocks or maybe people, their open fronts (hence the lukewarmness of 'lukes') providing glimpses into lives in which takeaway food (and its 'dregs') seems to loom large;  stains spread; a touch of rioting is flagged by burned pizzas; waste products are flushed away by pipes in the runnels left around a raised rubber-mat surface the Anglo-Dutch artist has installed over The approach’s wooden floor. None of this is appropriated, however: all is manufactured to a faultless powder coated finish. We’re used to the abject being valued as sculpture: here Reus fetishises that aesthetic. 
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 Matter & Memory @ Alison Jacques, 16-18 Berners St - Fitzrovia

To 15 Feb: www.alisonjacquesgallery.com 

Philomene Pirecki: White Wall, Alison Jacques gallery (15:58, 16:03, 16:04, 16:02, 16:01 / daylight, 19-12-13), 2014
Machine mixed emulsion paint, emulsion and acrylic paint, C-type matt photograph, PhotoRag photograph
If this show did no more than provide a bigger stage for the stream of work Philomene Pirecki showed at Supplement last year, that would be plenty. She does indeed reprise one of her paintings which makes a near-abstraction of the word ‘grey’ out of its component colours, and shuffles once more between photographing the space, painting the space, and photographing her painting of the space. Yet Pirecki’s just one of seven artists exploring ‘the self-reflexive business of perception’, and it’s also good to see the results of N. Dash’s cloth-stroking performances, Helen Barff’s felt-wrapped stones Charlotte Posenenske’s modular version of ventilation units, even if I don’t fully understand how they’re ‘inherently self-reflexive’.  


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Uliana Apatina: Red Room @ Herrick Gallery, 1 French Place – Shoreditch


To 9 Feb (open 4-7 pm – it needs some darkness): www.herrickgallery.com

              

There are at least five ways to look at young Siberian artist Uliana Apatina’s simple yet rich installation of bath, light and salt in this one room gallery. Formally: what merges into red light from without proves to consist of pink, cerise and amber fluorescence, denying any straightforward red.  Symbolically: is that salt as in the bible?  Referentially: Dan Flavin meets Miroslav Balka… Biographically: suppose Apatina dreams of diving into salt, and grew up in a cramped flat with a photographer father who used the bathroom as a ‘darkroom’, the Russian for which literally translates as ‘red room’.  Or, of course, personally: what does the strange scene trigger for you?


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Andrew Esiebo: Pride @ Tiwani Contemporary, 16 Little Portland Street - Fitzrovia

To 8 Feb: www.tiwani.co.uk


The Barbers Abidjan 
Nigerian photographer Andrew Esiebo presents men’s barbershops from eight African cities, slyly equating the cutting of hair with the making of art and the selection of a hairstyle with the forging of an artistic identity. Esiebo’s lively images  are far from typographic, yet the shops’ retro-styling looks decidedly consistent: are there, I asked him, subtle differences between nations? He thought not, seeing evidence of underlying continental unity – along with a pride in hair – rather than as a stage for diversity. One shop is recreated on site, allowing you to walk into the photographs and pose as a customer…though I should warn those due a cut that no barber is actually present.