Thursday, 21 June 2018


Up Now in London

Richard Woods: The Ideal Home Exhibition @ Alan Cristea Gallery, 43 Pall Mall  - central

To 31 July

House with Solar Panels, 2018

At last year’s Folkestone triennial Richard Woods came across the illogical combination of houses being sold as second homes because the locals couldn’t afford to buy them as their only residence.  That – in the form of implausibly colourful model ‘holiday homes’ - is the starting point for a rich mix of ideas bringing the housing market to Woods’ characteristic modes. Fashionable cellar extensions and solar panels are mocked. Eight prints of ‘Dream Homes’ refer to the somewhat double-edged compliments of estate agents: does ‘mature garden’ mean it's overgrown, does ‘potential to convert’ indicate it's currently uninhabitable? Another set converts Woods’ famous wood effect prints – by rotation, cropping and minimal intervention – into ‘handheld landscapes’, ie views of plots of ground to be sold. 

Handheld Landscape (51 acres), 2018

Carol Bove @ David Zwirner, 24 Grafton St – Mayfair
To 3 Aug
May, 2018

Some of Carol Bove’s best known work uses peacock feathers, quite an apparent contrast with the big all-metal collages here, which she makes ‘in the air’ using a robust system of hoists, jacks and harnesses. Yet – perhaps due to that – there’s a lightness to Bove’s combinations which she says she ‘imagines fast’, as if working in clay. The results are compelling. Partly due to the interplay of rusty found steel, manipulated and then powder coated steel tubing, and highly polished steel discs. Partly due to the superbly orchestrated ‘abstract narrative’ (if I can be allowed the term) which unfolds over the two floors. 
View with Nike I and Nike II, 2018


New Relics @ Thames-Side Studios, Harrington Way, Woolwich
To 24 June
Michael Samuels: Logjam, 2016

Artist-curators Kate Terry and Tim Ellis fill the large spaces of Thames-Side Studios’ gallery with no fewer than 56 sculptures, providing an excellent cross-section of current practice well worth the trip to Woolwich. The conceit of ‘New Relics’ is broad enough to allow considerable variety, but many artists use their materials with a certain wit: take Vasilis Asakopoulos’s resinous puddle in a chair (Shell II, 2018); Simon Brinkman’s fetishistic Untitled Anonymous, 2018, a black rubber, silicone and steel ramp to nowhere; Michael Samuels’ oddly resonant boxing off of a ladder in Logjam, 2016; and Alan Magee’s Was, is, shall be, 2015, a mere sprinkle of silicon which has been cast in the holes of a colander – one of several small floor-dwelling works offsetting the general up-thrust of forms. Oh, and Hamish Pearch’s kinetic Bambi, 2018 massages itself…

Alan Magee: Was, is, shall be, 2015

Brian Bress: Another Fine Mess @ Josh Lilley, 44-46 Riding House Street – Fitzrovia

To 27 June

Sunset Peacock (cutout), 2018 - 140 x 76cm

American artist Brian Bress puts the fine into what’s far from a mess with the most formally innovative show in London. On entering, you wonder ‘what is this?’ Several canvases curl down in curiously attractive tatters from being cut away with a knife.  Down in the main space you find that those paintings were the main part of stage sets to make films in which canvas and screen converge. Each start with an image which gets cut away from behind so that the reverse side hangs down. Bress does the cutting while wearing a suit with a third painting on it. Behind him is a fourth painting. The balance between the four levels shifts mesmerisingly over 15-30 minute loops. And that is just one strand of Bress’s video panel paintings shown here, relatable to Helena Almeida and Alex Hubbard, I suppose, but effectively a new cross-medium.

Still from Sunset Peacock, 2018 (29 minute video loop)

Family Values: Polish Photography Now @ Calvert 22 Foundation, 22 Calvert Avenue – Shoreditch

To 22 July

From Zofia Rydet's Sociological Record

At the core of this show, despite its subtitle, are two stunning long-term series from the last century.  Zofia Rydet made an amazing 20,000 images of Poles in their homes for her Sociological Record (1978-90) – detailed orchestrations at a rate of five per day from age 67 to her death! Film maker Józef Robakowski, banned from exhibiting his work, turned to the apolitically personal, albeit with the texture of surveillance, as a way of protesting obliquely at collectivist ideology. From My Window (1978-2000) is just that: the neighbourhood’s coming and goings to a commentary which stresses their personalities just as it transmits Rabakowski’s. There are also four recent projects in the show. Remarkably, they assert themselves successfully in the context of the older work, especially Aneta Grzeszykowska’s Negative Book and Aneta Bartos’ startling dual portraits of herself with her bodybuilder father. 

From Aneta Grzeszykowska’s Negative Book 


Katharina Grosse: Prototypes of Imagination @ Gagosian, 6-24 Britannia Street to 27 July; Bernard Frize: Blackout in the Grid @ Simon Lee Gallery, 12 Berkeley St to 30 June;  Juan Uslé: Open Night @ Frith Street, Golden Square to 23 June; Cipriano Martinez: Displacement @ Maddox Arts, 52 Brook's Mews

Katharina Grosse: Untitled, 2018, acrylic on canvas, 265 × 175 cm

If you're attracted to harmless list-making, you might consider who are the dozen top abstract painters in the world: there's no right and wrong, of course, and I may have forgotten someone obvious, but a plausible group seems to me Gerhard Richter, Bernard Frize, Bridget Riley, Katharina Grosse, Mary Heilmann, Charline von Heyl, Juan Uslé, Robert Ryman, Beatriz Milhazes, Sean Scully, Tomma Abts and Ding Yi. In which case London is well served, as Milhazes (see below) Grosse, Frize and Uslé have wonderful shows on now, and Tomma Abts is next up at the Serpentine. Moreover, a ten year survey of Cipriano Martinez's  politcally charged deconstructions of architectural geometry in Caracas and London emphasises the variety of means he has brought to a tight thematic focus, and makes for a worthy 10th anniversary show at Maddox Arts.  Come to that, Richter has an impressive presence in Southampton, which isn't so far away. Grosse uses scale to thrilling effect, Frize does what only he can do to the grid, and Uslé brings us something of the night. 


Bernard Frize: Wir, 2018
Acrylic and resin on canvas 250 x 215 cm 


Beatriz Milhazes: Rio Azul @ White Cube Bermondsey

To 2 July

Installation image Ollie Hammick

There’s everything in this exuberant show: big paintings, and even bigger tapestry, collage, hanging sculptural combinations of found objects, and stage set and opening performances by her sister's dance troupe (a little is here). One way of looking at the show would be as a rebooting of  the Manifesto Antropófago published in 1928 by  Oswald de Andrade, for that proposed that European influences should be 'cannibalised' - chewed up and digested to emerge in a South American form - and Milhazes definitely integrates a tropical and carnival aspect into European modernist tropes. This show is particularly heavy on circles, and there’s a contrast between the dazzling intricacy of their intersections in most of the work and the comparative simplification which emerges from the weaving process. 

As irmãs em azul celeste, 2015-2018 - Collage on paper
86.5 x 76 cm, Photo: Manuel guas 


Lea Cetera: Expanding Brain @ Southard Reid - 7 Royalty Mews, Soho

To 30 June 2018

Installation view

Shows about identity politics can get heavy handed, so Lea Cetera’s light touch is welcome here. The central work is a 15 minute ‘artist interview’ in which we see an artist - identified by number, hooded like an assassin, voice disguised – answer questions about her practice and background. She complains when asked how race informs her work on the basis that a white artist wouldn’t have been asked that, yet the show is largely about that, as well as what the interviewee says her work is about: on the one hand, mockingly, ‘it’s about everything, it’s about nothing’, on the other hand it’s about ‘the psychological spaces we construct and operate within’. The rest of the show features hyper-real sculptures of quotidian items (coffee cups and suchi are favourites) with emails integrated to indicate how the artist’s everyday experience is informed by the nature of art and identity. This is all within the pretended parameters of a progression chart which the Filipino New Yorker found online, showing how to accept then go beyond the role of ‘artist of colour’ to make work about 'whatever the fuck you want'.
Cup Construction, 2018 - plywood, formica, resin, porcelain, acrylic


Lola Frost: Towards Deep and Radiant Time@ The Arcade at Bush House, Strand 

To 27 July

Towards Deep and Radiant Time, 2018

South African academic Lola Frost  - Visiting Research Fellow in War Studies, King’s College London  - is showing her paintings as part of the College's increasingly lively arts programme. They're interesting as a combination of human and geological time which also acts as a critique of the male art historical tradition of equating a rolling landscape with a reclining female nude. Instead, her apparent abstractions (derived from preparatory collages of remote spots in New Zealand, South Africa and Patagonia) suggest internal and assertively sexually assertive forms:  intestines, brains, vaginas.  The newest paintings here complicate the matter through  doubling - which turns out to be  short of exact reflection - and disorientation, by rotating the landscape source through 90 degrees. 

On the Edge, 2018


Noémie Goudal: Telluris @ Edel Assanti, 74a Newman Street - Fitzrovia

To 23 June 

French photographer Noémie Goudal presents three immersively installed takes on how we trammel between image and reality and between manmade and natural. The upper space is filled with wooden cube frames, within which lies the Telluris series, depicting similar 25-cube constructions within the landscape, in the forms used by analogue era scientists to model the geology of mountain formation.  Also incorporated is the Soulevement series, in which rock formations turn out to be photographs of sets of mirrors installed in the landscape. Downstairs, rock reflections take a different tack through the stereoscopic installation Study in Perspective III, which causes us to see similar images as differently constructed. It’s a substantial investigation of illusory substance.


Molly Soda: Me and My Gurls @ Annka Kultys Gallery, 472 Hackney Road – Cambridge Heath

To 16 June

Molly Soda’s teeming and multifarious practice is most naturally online. Here, then, she effectively transports her studio to the gallery by covering the walls with images and footage from her laptop, complete with a 15 foot printout of comments on one of her YouTube posts which takes over the space sculturally. That is a make-up tutorial which pokes an artist’s fun at the genre, yet evokes deadpan or mocking responses from people who take her to be playing it straight. Indeed, Soda entertainingly subverts various roles and genres. Instead of showing off her new clothes she adapts the format to present her favourite Gifs: she likes ‘the delayed Gif experience’, as when a flower keeps the viewer waiting before opening.


Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries 


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About Me

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Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09) and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, Frieze, Photomonitor, Elephant and Border Crossings. I have curated 20 shows during 2013-17 with more on the way. Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.