Thursday, 13 June 2019

FLYING TO AND IN BASEL




Galleries at Art Basel naturally hope that works will fly off the wall (or out of the separate private sale rooms at the fair in a growing VIP trend). But questions are being asked these days about the environmental consequences of flying people and art around the world. Does the model need to change? With 290 galleries in Art Basel plus plenty of other fairs and institutions in Basel, you can probably home in on any trend – but as it happens I saw several interesting works which involved flight directly, as well as many flights of fancy...


Gregor Törzs: à la couleur – Wing Wing 2, 2017 at Persiehl & Heine, Hamburg, in Photo Basel



The separate Photo Basel fair was of a good standard, and featured these beautifully realised microscope-assisted images of cicada wings, printed on Gampi paper which buckles a little with moisture and takes on a wing-like texture. I had never realised, perhaps because they beat too fast to see in flight, that cicadas have such colourfully patterned wings.


Rebecca Horn: White Body Fan, 1972 at the Tinguely Museum


Rebecca Horn’s seminal performance, in which she fixed a pair of semi-circular wings made of white fabric to her body that unfolded when she raised her arms, was the starting point for exploration of many flight-related works within the restrospective ‘Body Fantasies’. Those included kinetic feather fans and a mechanical morpho butterfly, itself linking to Horn’s film ‘Buster‘s Bedroom’, in which an aging Diva keeps the souls of her former lovers as butterflies in a fridge.


Masahisa Fukase: Erimo Cape, 1976 at Taka Ishii Gallery, Tokyo in Art Basel



Taka Ishii showed a pretty comprehensive history of Japanese photography from the 60’s onwards spread across one large wall.  Among some 75 images was this silver gelatin print of a raven: a subject which Masahisa Fukase made famous through his book ‘The Solitude of Ravens’. That collects photographs from 1975-82 in which the often-shadowy bird stands as a symbol of Ishii's solitude following a divorce.


Pierre Bismuth: Abstractions in ‘Art Parcours’ (with Jan Mot Gallery, Brussels)



My favourite of the 20 special projects dotted around the old town sees the Belgium-based French artist make a nice political point by flying 15 flags around Munsterplatz. Each was an amalgam of a European nation’s flag and that of the nation from which they have taken in the most migrants. Not only do they question the shifting basis of nationhood, suggesting it is increasingly abstract, but the merged flags make for fresh and unconventional ensigns as they flutter in the breeze. So for example the two nearest above are  Switzerland/Somalia and Austria/Bangladesh.


Ugo Rondinone fall cloud, 2018 at Galerie Eva Presenhuber, Zurich/ New York, in Art Basel

      

Clouds fly, and this is clearly a cloud, albeit fixed to the wall. But its's rocky: made of sand, gravel, concrete to be precise, making implausible heavy of the driftingly light. Rondinone, Swiss but dwelling in New York, has previous in channelling clouds as evocations of romanticism , but tweaked towards modernity. These might suggest the clouds of ash which have sometimes prevented planes flying.



DK: Memories of Tomorrow: Remnants of the Ronne Ice Shelf, 2018 at Galerija Fotografija, Ljubljana in Photo Basel



The photographer known as DK showed work from his new photobook 'Scotoma'. Under such evocative theme titles as ‘Behind Eyelids’, ‘Memories of Tomorrow’ and ‘Darkening’, it seems to present near-abstract landscapes from around the world. In fact, the Slovenian photographer’s motto is ‘I don't travel to photograph. I photograph to travel’ – for everything is actually from close to his studio. Often, they’re cloudscapes. So not only does this image allude to the loss of ice, but DK’s practice is a carbon-friendly one which won’t contribute to the problem.



Saturday, 18 May 2019

CHOICES UP NOW






SHOWS TO SEE: Up Now in London 


see also my Instagram feed as paulcareykent



William Cobbing: Haptic Loop at Cooke Latham Gallery, Battersea to 21 June



'Long Distance', 2018 extends William Cobbing's  well known 'The Kiss' 2004 to show a couple connected yet struggling to get close. Part of an excellent solo survey in a notably tall new warehouse space with three films, many ceramic books and several haptic loop sculptures.


Mike Nelson: The Asset Strippers at Tate Britain to 6 Oct

Related image
'The Asset Strippers' 2019 fills the Duveen Halls with online auction sourced industrial, agricultural and bureaucratic detritus from our analogue past, repurposing it as sculpture and memorial while echoing many modern art tropes. The best use of this space since Phyllida Barlow in 2014...


Alexis Harding at Watson Farley and Williams LLP , 15 Appold Street, near Liverpool St to June 31




The most surprising inclusion in Alexis Harding's   show is a set of 12 boulder-like forms of oil and gloss paint such as 'June' 2019 above (no prizes for guessing the other 11 titles). But there are also 50 paintings in a comprehensive and powerful solo survey in the offices of Watson Farley Williams - best visiting time is Friday, when the lawyers tend to work from home.


Various shows at the British Museum


          

It's easy to see that Tate Modern (Bonnard + Tanning + West) has three interesting shows, but the British Museum can claim similarly. Franz Stuck's 'Die Sinnlichkeit (Sensuality)' 1889-91 sees a snake entangled with Eve, part of a display of Symbolist prints, and one of the movement's defining images of women as darkly enticing femme fatales. Add the surveys of Munch and Rembrandt and The World Exists To Be Put On A Postcard - artists' postcards from 1960 to now and you have a feast quite apart from 'the usual stuff'...









Tribute to Mona-Ha at Cardi Gallery to July 26



This encounter between cotton and stone is one of 18 installation-scaled works across four Mayfair floors which make up the most impressive Mono-ha (Japanese 'School of Things') show London has seen. It's typical of Lee Ufan in showing the unaltered material properties of things, and resisting any hierarchy between them: Koji Enokura, Noriyuki Haraguchi, Susumu Koshimizu, Katsuhiko Narita, Nobuo Sekine, Kishio Suga, Jiro Takamatsu, Noboru Takayama and Katsuro Yoshida are also represented by work produced between 1968 and 1986.







Images courtesy / copyright the relevant artists and galleries 




   

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Friday, 17 May 2019

PHOTO LONDON: All the Nudes Not Fit to Put On Instagram


Photo London 16-19 Nov 2019: 

All the Nudes Not Fit to Put On Instagram



The nude is potentially difficult territory in the #MeToo era, the more so as almost all of the examples at Photo London are of women. Instagram doesn’t allow them anyway, so my stream’s choices from Photo London were landscapes and portraits. And yet I found myself drawn to several interesting nudes, mostly from the rear…
Gabriele Basilico: Contact, 1984 / 2016 at Galleria Valeria Bella, Rome
This is a recently printed composite version of what were originally pairs of photographs showing the impact of iconic Italian chair designs on a classical Italian arse. In this departure from trained architect Gabriele Basilico’s renowned core practice of photographing buildings, body modification meets abstract gridding via witty use of a printing process we’ve all experienced.
Chloé Jafé: from the series I give you my life, 2014-2017 at Akio Nagasawa Gallery, Tokyo
                          
The surprising name in a very Japanese booth is as French as it sounds, but Chloé Jaffé lives in Tokyo and is sufficiently integrated to have worked in a hostess club and met a boss who agreed that she document the women associated with – they cannot be part of – the Yazuka organised crime syndicates. They were typically keen that Jaffé photograph their ‘irezumi’ tattoos, made painfully over years by hand with a wooden handle and a needle: they are a source of pride, still associated with outsider status, not fashion, in Japan. As such, they represent a strong commitment to their gangster partners.
Danielle Van Zadelhoff: Paradise (Adam and Eve), 2016 at Project 2.0 Gallery, The Hague

The surprising colour here isn’t down to Photoshop, but the use of grey light to suggest an early renaissance tonality. Add the jocularly genital foliage and fantastical freckles, and the Amsterdam artist’s life-sized first couple make for an original spin on one of the oldest subjects. Though perhaps it carries the contemporary question: what are we doing with the garden now?
Alix Marie: French Kiss, 2014 at Roman Road, London

             
How many people is that? It takes a moment to realise that a man is smuggled into that hair in one of the London-based French artist’s explorations of how to represent bodily intimacy. It’s as if he’s being consumed. No wonder Marie has said: ‘I am investigating the similarities between skin and the photograph: both surfaces, both fragile, both filled with secrets and taboos’.
Edouard Taufenbach: Impression Nue de Dos from the series Spéculaire, 2019 at Galerie Binome, Paris
Edouard Taufenbach shows cut-ups of photographs from the collection of anonymous images that film director Sébastien Lifshitz has been gathering for several decades. They feature bodies in leisure, pleasure and desire,and are shaped to the form Taufenbach finds in the original. He introduces movement and complexity, here with the suggestion of multiplication in a bathroom mirror. The erotomane transvestite Pierre Molinier is bound to come to mind…

Wednesday, 15 May 2019

SHOWS CLOSED / OLDER 2019




Massimo Vitali: Short Stories at Mazzoleni Art to 24 May




'Short Stories' shows why Vitali should be considered the finest street photographer never to actually shoot in the street. It's easy to assume that his many beach scenes - typically taken from a tripod in the water - are much the same, but Vitali's own picture by picture commentary on 12 huge prints proves that isn't so. In 'Catania Under the Volcano' 2007 people are grouped geometrically by the artificial beach set on scaffolding necessitated by the volcanic landscape, the submerged lava from which gives the sea its particular darkness.

Peter Halley and Ugo Rondinone: Still at Modern Art Vyner St to 15 June



Ugo Rondinone and Peter Halley form a rather perfect pairing with what Modern Art term their works’ ‘containment and hostility, as well as a contrary spirituality’. On the ground floor giant door sculptures, forbidding yet cartoonish, meet prison paintings which repeat cellular structures as if presenting a diagram of a social system.

Julian Stańczak : Don't Talk, Just Look at the Mayor Gallery to 31 May




It was Julian Stańczak (b. 1928 Borownica, Poland – d. 2017 Ohio, United States) whose paintings led to the coinage ‘Op Art’ in 1964, and this show suggests he should be ranked with Riley, Vasarely and Cruz-Diez. One strand is his ‘see throughs’, which lead in 'Assemble', 1973-74, to the teasing illusion of box form which doesn’t quite make sense. Stańczak said the series had a self-analytical aspect, referring to how ‘sometimes there is an invisible wall between me and out there. That wall is in every human being. There is the complexity of oneself and the outside, and how I view myself and how the outside views me, and the person I really am is still another third person'.


How Chicago! Imagists 1960s & 70s at Goldsmiths CCA , New Cross to 26 May



Some of the Chicago Imagists are well known – Jim Nutt, Karl Wirsum, Christina Ramberg , Gladys Nilsson – but there are 14 at Goldsmiths. Among the others employing the typical flattened forms, repeated patterns, disparate sources and a  humorous outlook which extended to them showing collectively as The Hairy Who is Roger Brown. Here is his ‘Misty Morning’ 1975, in which a lorry interrupts a rather original depiction of a rural idyll. 




David Salle: Musicality and Humour at Skarstedt Gallery to 25 May





David Salle (say 'Sally') scores with a new set of 11 assured fusions of different worlds, with greyscale 50’s cartoons the dominant recurring element. He starts by deciding how to divide the canvas, then proceeds with little planning to populate ‘doing paintings’ in which the characters are typically busy. In 'Latin Rythms' 2018, it seems the artist is treading on his own work just as he decides it would be fun to have a Mexican ride his donkey across its disparate contents.



Caroline Jane Harris: A Three-Dimensional Sky at Kristin Hjellegjerde Gallery, Wandsworth to 11 May






Caroline Jane Harris's solo show uses historic lantern slides and her own photos as sources, layering them with positive cut-outs and etchings of the consequent negative shapes of the images' bitmaps to set up a dizzying interchange between analogue sources and digital representations. Additional elements of original image capture and apparent fragility are built into the cloudscape 'A Three Dimensional Sky', in which the print is veiled by the cut-out of a translucent tissue paper normally used to clean camera lenses...


Allan Sekula: Photography, A Wonderfully Inadequate Medium at Marian Goodman Gallery to 18 May





If you’re in the mood for rewarding hard work, set aside an afternoon for a museum-standard survey of Allan Sekula’s career. There are 13 projects here, but the key, linked, ones are the photo and text based ‘Fish Story’ 1989-95 and the 3 hour film ‘The Lottery of the Sea’ (still above). They use the sea as a metaphor for the global reach of capitalism, and aim to effect a radical critique by foregrounding the typically hidden role of labour in trade. Sekula counters post-modernist accounts of the simulacral with the gritty material realities of exploitation, industrial decline, uncontrolled growth and pollution. Maritime industry is seen as a representative infrastructure of globalism. The Internet has subsequently increased the impression that the world operates through frictionless capitalism, increasing Sekula’s relevance. That said, another way of putting that is: hundreds of images of ships, ports and workers - not for everyone...

 

Mustafa Halusi: Cyprus Realism at PiArtworks to 11 May 





The Anglo-Cypriot’s multi-media practice, yo-yoing between the dirty and the transcendental, is well surveyed here through film, photography ceramic tiles and sculpture as well as paintings, which includes what might be called 'op expanders' paired with hallucinatory flowers and fruit. Hulusi has chopped up and coloured his formerly black and white 'expanders' to tweak the trippiness which contrasts - or maybe doesn't – with the lush visual consumption of flora.

Augustus Serapinas: February 13th at Emalin  to 18 May 



The titular date was when the artist filched snowmen and balls from children's playgrounds in his native Lithuania. And here they are in London, kept at -3°C in a giant fridge you can walk into to ponder the question: if your country is chock full of Soviet legacies, what do you preserve? Unusual in that these are perfectly ordinary objects, and yet the show has a definite wow factor.


Sylvie Fleury & Gerwald Rockenschaub at Thaddaeus Ropac to 11 May




Sylvie Fleury used to say she was a p
ainter, but only on her face. Now several of her acrylic on canvas on wood versions of make-up palettes are included in a neat survey. The glowering ‘Private shadow - Emerald Sun’, 2018, seen here (in Ben Westaboy's photo) above a comically deflated phallic rocket, is particularly seductive as a minimalist abstraction through which we might travel – in the absence of branding - from fashion to art and wonder about the differences in objects of desire. And the larger show of Rockenschaub's site-specific pop-minimalism is the perfect complement: a related language used to different ends.




Chloe Wise: Not that We Don't  at Almine Rech  to 18 May
      

New York based Canadian Chloe Wise’s impressively scaled paintings anatomise the awkward gaps between the instinctual self and the performance required to fit in with group norms. Above is You definitely lied to the right person, 2019. The presentation at Almine Rech is effectively choreographed: the paintings are hung in a generic reception room with cheap carpet and paper towel dispensers, suggesting we might be assessed and ought to be cleaner. Downstairs similar characters appear in a wittily scripted film which takes you back to the paintings.



Jeremy Cooper: The World Exists To Be Put On A Postcard - artists' postcards from 1960 to now at the British Museum to 4 Aug



Entre Tot, with ‘One Dozen Rain Postcards’ 1971-73, is one of the standouts in Jeremy Cooper’s wonderful show of over 300 postcard works at the British Museum. The Hungarian artist typed dashes of rain plus titles onto purple Xerox copies to make visual jokes which deconstruct the nature of typologies, conceptual art’s typical use of the typewriter at the time, and the normal expectation that a postcard will report on places and weather conditions the recipient. Moreover, there are Cooper-related postcard shows at Danielle Arnaud and Tintype.

Reinhard Mucha: Full Take at Sprueth Magers to 11 May





An impressive survey of Reinhard Mucha's production: mostly constructions which look like cut-ups of institutional architecture and office furnishings which sleekly elide aesthetics and power, but also a sculpture of fans, some striking text works, and film. The German (born 1950) hasn't showed much in London, so this is a good chance to catch up. Above is Seelze, 2012





Franz West at Tate Modern to 2 June (and elsewhere)










An obvious choice, but the new Franz West show is a hoot which captures his spirit. 'Desiderat' 1988 is one of his papier mache works, often made from old phone directories and painted casually while he was on the phone. This one looks like a sandwich grinning back bigtime at its consumer. Sarah Lucas covered the crowd control architecture in tape and painted it in Franz colours - here a pink he took from children's pajamas - as part of her lively Westian interventions into the presentation. The cinderblock plinth is her, too. Add worthwhile shows at David Zwirner and Omer Tiroche, and the RA's excellent show by Phyllida Barlow - who I'd say is as close to Franz's approach as Lucas, and it's very much time to Go West.


Alice Anderson: Body Disruptions at Waddington Custot to 11 May 




Alice Anderson performs regularly during a solo show of three recent streams of her performatively generated  sculptures and drawings, all related to the difference between digital and physical worlds: the Lost Gestures (2018) drawings, made from the repetitive sign-making various computer keyboard symbols; monolithic Body Itineraries (2019), which derive a language of abstract painting from copper wire; and the five memorialised totems of ‘Nuhé’ (2018).  



The Future is Female at Dellasposa, Lancaster Gate to 2 May



When it comes to puns, make mine a triple. So gotta love Gail Olding lacquered plaster 'Formate No. 2' 2014: heart come breasts come condomised phalli. Part of an excellent all-female combo with Alicia Paz's complex historical-conceptual paintings, Tahnee Lonsdale's weird colour and subject combinations and Ehryn Torrell's collages of issues of Vogue from the year - 1977 - the Canadian was born. Plus the older basement bonus of Sonia Delaunay.
Betty Tompkins: Fuck Paintings etc at J.Hammond Projects, Archway to 13 April





The intimate is made monumental in the first UK solo of Betty Tompkins' paintings, which she still makes from pornographic magazines rather than the online world – she sends her husband out to buy them in a neat tweak of expectations. This excellent survey includes 'Cunt' paintings, the more abstracted 'Pussy' series, three works with text, a couple of  gridded Dicks and a giant Fuck as per the installation shot.  Something of a coup for Justin and Jennie Hammond...

‘Should I Stay or Should I Go?' at Patrick Heide, Marylebone to 13 April



The best Brexit-related show I’ve seen is Patrick Heide's joint production with Bartha Contemporary. It’s full of subtle abstractions which can be read as relevant to issues of belonging, choice and identity. In the fireplace, though, is something more incendiary: New York based Stefana McClure grew up in Northern Ireland during The Troubles, and one stream of her work wraps actual protest stones from the street with newspaper articles she dislikes and hurls them repeatedly against her studio wall. For ‘Protest Stones (Brexit)’ 2019 they are articles on Brexit – I’m guessing the Irish backstop looms large... 



Tom Lovelace: Interval at Flowers Gallery, Kingsland Road to 27 April





In 'Clock Work' 2019 a performer's arm emerges from the wall every now and again to make you notice the clock it adjusts, even when you don't need to know the time. Part of Tom Lovelace's ingeniously staged show 'Interval', which also turns the floor, velvet covers and the action of the sun into interesting photographic works. I guess it's the clock's third hand...

Anna-Bella Papp, Katinka Bock, Esther Kläs, Helen Mirra, Hayley Tompkins at Modern Art, Vyner Street to 13 April



New bodies of work from five artists, The highlights are Hayley Tompkins' (no relation) pools of colour in wall-mounted plastic boxes and a 'self-portrait' as a stool, titled LB after her birthplace Leighton Buzzard; and Anna-Bella Papp's ‘Plans for an unused land’, a sequence of hand-sculpted, tablet-like forms which form another form of self-portrait through her speculations on possible uses of a parcel of land which she may inherit - from sculpture park to farming options to highway - which she details charmingly in an accompanying text.


Sarah Pichlkostner: I'd ride on a rock and go take a bite if moon was cookie and Belén Rodríguez: I turn Chilli Red at Josh Lilley Gallery to 6 April






The first double show use of Josh Lilley’s space is a winner: upstairs the cool, lunar, bubble-powered metallic attenuations of Sarah Pichlkostner’s sculptures are disrupted by a soft boomerang form on the floor, covered in a gaudily psychedelic print. Perhaps it’s a portal to downstairs, where Spanish artist Belén Rodríguez (install shot above) shows in the sun-soaked mode of a recent Colombian residency. Everything is 50% abstract, 50% figurative, from curtains which are pools and landscapes to images which are half redacted by stripes to apparently non-figurative paintings which turn out to be of plankton or fruit in close up…

 


Tracey Emin: A Fortnight of Tears at White Cube Bermondsey to 7 April


Tracey Emin taking a selfie with some of the 50 blown-up selfies in her Insomnia installation. It's 'like an early death from within' she says. For the past four years she has taken selfies and selected some to blow up with an impressive range of bedwear and a lack of vanity which extends to a couple with a fat lip. This, the freshest part of her huge and effective new show, might be seen as an update on the famous bed.



Grace Weir: Time Tries All Things at the Institute of Physics, Kings Cross to 29 March




Are you a bit hazy on how physicists think about time? Unsure what the alternative is to the block theory of the universe? You will be educated as well as entertained by Grace Weir’s 30 minute film in an impressive new space. Two leading scientists explain while she builds many cunning parallels about what they say into a two screen installation: the editing styles capture time variously and, for example, we see her photographing (the classic way to freeze time) a World War I memorial stone plaque declaring that time tries the truth of things, its remaking by a sculptor, the new version itself, and footage of the bird species which features on it...





Fausto Melotti
: Counterpoint at Estorick Collection to 7 April





Not only is Fausto Melotti's 'Hanging Garden' 1970 serenely attractive, there's no weeding or watering required. From the Estorick's demonstration that the Italian (1901-1986) is more varied than previous UK showings have suggested. Melotti's dictum 'Zero is infinity in reverse' could be relevant... Moreover, other displays of Boccioni, Marini and Morandi are well worth seeing.


Equilibrium. An idea for Italian sculpture
at Mazzoleni Gallery to 5 April


Melotti also features in this cool show of Italian sculpture, much of which looks as if it could lose its balance any time. Here is Remo Salvadori's 'Verticale' 1991, which simply encircles a roll of copper with a cord to provide a tenuous structure on which a tabular flatness, a very large glass and one normal glass (plus the odd unauthorised addition at the opening) are balanced to suggest relationships just about in equilibrium. Is that a heavy drinker paired with a moderate one? 

I Will Be Dead at König London to 16 March


The defiantly lively group show ‘I Will Be Dead’ includes Elmgreen & Dragset’s menaced infant scenario ‘Eternity’ 2014/17 (shown), Alicja Kwade’s witty poke at how ephemeral our adult obsessions will prove - ‘Finallyfound (iPad)' 2018 has been fossilised – and Amalia Pica’s marble, granite and silicone hearing aid ‘In Praise of Listening 8’ 2018, the vastly magnified scale of which put me in mind of those who shout at the aged.


Tom Wesselmann at Almine Rech to 23 March


You wouldn't instantly link him to abstraction, but that's how Wesselman started out and he returned to it, inspired by offcuts from his figurative steel drawings, in his last decade. Almine Rech sets out the story superbly with parallel streams of nudes and abstracts.Here's 'Three Step II' 2003.


Linder: Ever Standing Apart From Everything at Modern Art, Helmet Row to 16 March


Linder has a wide-ranging practice, but I can't remember when I last saw a comprehensive overview of what she's best known for: collage. Here, though, are more than 70 covering five years' work. They include her characteristic combinations of apparently free women - in the landscape, or in sexual activity - undermined by the imposition of household duties, but also all-male combinations an a new strand of 'Superautomatism' (as above) in which chance presses of paint perform the role of obscuring the image of nudes in a creeping censorship which might be ominous were it not so exuberant.

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.

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