Saturday, 30 January 2010

EARLY SPRING SELECTION

TEN NEW SHOWS FOR EARLY SPRING

There are some obvious questions to be asked just now. How mad was van Gogh? What kind of bad is that Ofili shit? Should you dump in Landy’s art bin? Why is the ICA showing Billy Childish? Can Dylan paint? How much can a Giacometti be worth? Why is the Hayward closed for so long for refurbishment so soon after it was closed for so long for refurbishment? And who was Theo Van Doesburg? You’ll find none of the answers here, just ten lively new shows to visit, to which you can add a dozen previous recommendations which are still on view as I write...


Malbux

Bernard Frize @ Simon Lee,12 Berkeley St - Central

To 24 March: www.simonleegallery.com

Bernard Frize finds ever-more ways to let ‘the brush paint’, as he puts it, by setting up the imaginative procedural frameworks within which he can see where chance leads him and his collaborators (many of his paintings are multi-hand productions). Past procedures include painting a wide brush in various colours before use, games with a single stroke or how often lines can cross, and using extreme brush sizes or a spraygun. This exhibition introduces four new ideas of which the ten large paintings become the manifestation. Three of them lead – as has been usual – to paintings which look instantly and seductively ‘like Frizes’, despite the role of chance (‘that’s a harsh accusation’, he once teased me, ‘ I know that I have been doing the same thing for more than thirty years, but I am really trying to change.’). That makes ‘Lud’, which required two steps of blocking and washing the paint rather than his usual single hit approach, the most striking because least characteristic work here. Having shown at Frith Street before he moved to Simon Lee, Frize has been among the more visible French artists in London, but deserves a major public show. Until then, this is a welcome update.


What Verb Did Hunt

Simon Morse: I Cannot See the Trees But I Can Hear the Mountain @ Gooden Gallery, 25A Vyner St – Cambridge Heath

To 7 March: www.goodengallery.com

Della Gooden, who has only recently adopted a more upfront name for her former VINEspace, gives Simon Morse his third show in three years. He has moved in that time from perfect two-dimensional imaginings of control panels for comically-purposed machines towards actually making them in more visibly-used forms which suggest relics recently stranded in the march towards ever-more sophisticated computerisation. Extra buttons, switches, labels and instructions are added to the found items, and their edge-of-sense titles – ‘A Few Tricks I Can Do With a Knife’, ‘Welt Stable’, ‘What Cannot Henceforth Be Yet Unhenced’ – could be swapped between works without much changing their wacky slant on pseudo-functionality. I was reminded of how the banking system can appear: an absurdly-mislabelled farrago of apparent controls which connects to nothing in the way it claims.


Head (Amaethon)

Dan Perfect: Dæmonology @ Karsten Schubert, 5-8 Lower John St, Golden Square - Central

To 9 April: www.karstenschubert.com

There’s an eighties tinge to Dan Perfect’s work – the obvious influence is Basquiat – but why not? This illustration of the recessionary trend towards longer-running shows provides a helpful reminder of the big paintings teeming with totemic suggestions which characterised Perfect’s appearance at the Chisenhale two years ago. But the focus is on a sort of letterless alphabet, in which 26 head-sized near-abstractions exploit our instinct for finding a face by evoking an A-Z of dæmons plucked from a wide range of cultures: ‘Head (Amaethon)’ through to ‘Head (Zadkiel)’ via Furfur, Qadesh and Ungud. They could be out-crops from the big works, but with their hues ramped up and their marks hazed by Perfect’s process of digitally manipulating and computer-colouring drawings before painting the dæmons themselves from low resolution print-outs. A ‘Grimoire Perfectorium’ says the nice little book of the show.

Don’t turn up at the weekend, by the way, and don’t confuse with ‘Demonology’, a coincidentally-timed group show at Charlie Smith! That may not be Perfect, but does contain a wonderful new painting by John Stark…


Still from 'Remnants of the Future'

Uriel Orlow: Remnants of the Future @ Laure Genillard, 2 Hanway Place – Tottenham Court

To 10 April (Wed to Sat 2-6 only): www.lauregenillard.com

The dystopian side of the modern is very much a la mode, but the wide-ranging Swiss artist Uriel Orlow’s beautifully doomy first London solo show is convincingly grounded in a sense of how the future will never escape its pasts. We see a half hour video exploration of Mush, an Armenian housing project near the site of the 1915 genocides which was left unfinished when the Soviets withdrew and which Orlow sees as ‘ruins in reverse, oscillating between the not-yet and the no-longer’. It is shown to a soundtrack of dying stars, sounds which of course we detect long after the stars have vanished. There are also drawings made by tracing the mass-produced ceramic deathmasks which were a curious Russian tradition well into the photographic age, and stare as blankly as the unfinished houses’ windows; and photographs of an abandoned textile factory suggesting that society’s threads will not be pulled together any time soon. Enjoy…


Sow Farm (near Libby, Oklahoma)

John Gerrard @ Thomas Dane, Ist Floor, 11 Duke St - Central

To 6 March: www.thomasdane.com

The Irish artist John Gerrard made a big impact with his collateral event at the Venice Biennale last year, and this is the first London showing for his realtime 3D animations. They use video gaming technology to make silent virtual reality versions of scenes which unfold over long periods. Two are shown large scale here: 'Sow Farm (near Libby, Oklahoma)', which recreates an unmanned, computer-controlled agricultural complex, and 'Lufkin (near Hugo, Colorado)', showing an oil derrick. Both circle round over a full year of changing light to produce a hyper-real yet oddly artificial portrait – neither documentary nor fiction, somehow, but a real form of the virtual – which matches the distanced and exploitative relationships between man and nature which they depict. The effect is at once painterly, cinematic and disturbingly clinical. In addition, ‘Oil Stick Work’, in which it takes a man thirty years to paint a silo with an oil stick until it becomes completely blackened – will soon be on view at Canary Wharf underground station over the full third year of its running, due to finish in 2038.


Stills from 'Whose Toes'

Shudder @ The Drawing Room, 55 Laburnum St – Haggerston

To 14 March: www.drawingroom.org.uk - ‘Whose Toes’ can also be seen at www.barrydoupe.ca

Europe’s only public gallery dedicated to drawing presents eight practitioners using animated forms. The show is named for the pleasingly low-tech means employed and the shudder as an intense response, but I was most taken by two artist who employ different strategies of disjuncture between sound and image. Raymond Pettibon is best known for captioned ink drawings, but I found the combination enhanced by his giving voice to the deadpan multiple-register commentaries in ‘Sunday Night Saturday Morning’. The much less famous young Canadian Barry Doupé brings the look of an out-of-focus video game to the mesmerising half hour computer animation ‘Whose Toes’, in which characters and events recur in a dizzying pattern of apparently violent near-narratives to the sound of the dialogue reduced to a hissing static. You are cast as a voyeur who can’t quite see or hear properly a stream such as swans, lifts, Princess Diana, a riderless motorbike, danced-around scissors, JFK and a glory hole...


No. 207 (detail)

Rana Begum @ The Delfina Foundation, 29 Catherine Place – Victoria

To 2 March: www.delfinafoundation.com

Young Anglo-Bangladeshi sculptor Rana Begum is best known for modular aluminium wallworks, which reveal intense colour effects in a fresh take on minimalism infected by Islamic abstraction and modern architecture. This show consists of just one multi-part work, ‘No. 207’, which emerged from a residency in Beirut. It plays that city’s vibrant nightlife off against the Delfina’s quiet spaces in a two-floor installation of neon tubes and geometrically-arranged plastic straws rendered fluorescent by ultraviolet light. This makes for an alluring new language, as if Dan Flavin has been reinvented for the nightclub and the playroom simultaneously.


Wild Horses Couldn't Drag Me Away (detail)

Stephen j Shanabrook: In Pills We Trust @ Orel Art, 2nd Floor, 7 Howick Place – Victoria

To 13 March: www.orelart.com

Ilona Orel’s very well-appointed gallery usually shows Russian artists, though Stephen j Shanabrook is an American with a Russian wife. Works made from prescription pill bottles and scalpel blades which draw parallels between drugs and religion may make you wonder whether Damien Hirst isn’t better left to pastiche himself, even though they pack a punch and Shanabrook has previous: he’s an ex-addict whose father was an obstetrician. I was more struck by his use of oven-melted toy horses, knitted together into chains which spill from a mouth on the wall to add a more original and macabre childhood twist to one aspect of addiction – and referring in passing to the one-way nature of horses’ throats: they can’t vomit and so are particularly susceptible to poisons.


Still from Artur Zmijewski's 'Two Monuments'

Scapegoat Society @ Guest Projects, Sunbury House, I Andrews Road - Cambridge Heath

To 21 Feb: www.nornprojects.org

Yinka Shonibare’s admirable project invites curators to propose shows in his space. Ali MacGilp and Cassandra Needham successfully suggested examining the hostile process whereby people absolve themselves from responsibility by moving blame towards another person or group. This strong and tightly interrelated show provides a nuanced view of the individual attitudes and social factors at work. Among the highlights are Jacek Niegoda’s examination of what happens when a man sets himself apart by walking on the spot up a down escalator and a new video from the normally confrontational but here winningly gentle Pole Artur Zmijewski, who invited immigrant Polish and unemployed Irish people to work together in Dublin to build sculptural monuments to cooperation. And if you have four hours free you can watch all of Rod Dickinson’s restaging of the infamous Milgram experiments, which sought to show how people would follow orders to administer pain: the experiments’ scientifically dubious artificiality is highlighted by the fact that, although all the participants are acting for Dickinson, that’s only one more actor than in the original.


Untitled (Table 4)

Lara Viana @ DomoBaal, 3 John St – Clerkenwell

To 20 March: www.domobaal.com

Viana, a Brazilian who has lived in London for 25 years, is a late developer whose first solo show of intimately-scaled paintings is well-suited to Domo’s warm space. They show interiors with commonplace art historical subjects such as figures, mirrors and still lives on tabletops. These are filtered through secondary sources – photographic, decorative or ceramic – and depicted with an increasingly confident mixture of baroque flourish and crisp precision. It’s as if a mind is attempting to reconstruct a past time which had more certainties in it. Make sure to catch the delicately pared-back watercolours hidden behind a door…


Still showing from previous lists: Philip Guston to 20 Feb, Danny Rolph to 20 Feb, Ornulf Opdahl to 26 Feb, William Eggleston to 27 Feb, Shoa Azari & Shahram Karimi to 27 Feb, Waseem Ahmed to 27 Feb, Zhang Enli to 27 Feb, Damien Roach to 6 March, Rula Halawani to 6 March, Eva Hesse & Katja Strunz to 7 March, Magali Reus to 7 March, David Hockney/Andy Holden to 10 April.

www.newexhibitions.com gives full address and opening time details of most shows


TEN FOR THE FUTURE

I am looking forward to:

Paul Nash @ Dulwich Picture Gallery 10.2 – 9.5

Vanessa Billy @ Limoncello 12.2 – 13.3

Peeping Tom (curated by Keith Coventry) @ Vegas 18.2 - 28.3

Kathy Prendergast @ Peer 18.2 – 10.4

Chiharu Shiota @ Haunch of Venison 19.2 - 27.3

Icelandic Artists @ Tintype 24.2 – 14.3

Members' Show @ Studio Voltaire 25.2 - 27.3

Mat Collishaw @ BFI 26.2 – 9.5

Kaye Donachie @ Mauren Paley 27.2 - 4.4

Céleste Boursier-Mougenot @ The Barbican 27.2 - 23.5

Saturday, 23 January 2010

FEBRUARY HIGHLIGHTS

The glut of the new shows no sign of abating, so I have updated for some just-seen recommendations even as the only-slightly-older ones roll on… And that without mentioning – unless this counts – the Van Gogh, Michael Landy, Chris Ofili, Matthew Barney and Saatchi Indian exhibitions which are garnering most of the publicity at present.

Untitled

Waseem Ahmed @ Laurent Delaye, 1st Floor, 11 Savile Row – Central

To 27 Feb: www.laurentdelaye.com

Laurent Delaye visits Pakistan frequently to seek out its somewhat internationally under-exposed artists. His best discovery is Waseem Ahmed, who tackles charged topics – fundamentalism, conflict, tradition in the context of the modern, the status of women – through small paintings which exploit traditional miniatures techniques to counterpoint symbolic subject matter in a very contemporary way. Mullahs, gods, gardens, bullets, burqas, soldiers – and even a soldier wearing a burqa – appear against a virtuoso background effect made from tea stains. The stains turn menstrual or violent and sometimes incorporates abstract calligraphy which refers, says Ahmed, to how meaningless the Koran can become when learned by rote. Sounds heavy? It doesn’t feel so in front of the poised and delicate beauty of the paintings themselves. Bonus: a very informative hand-out.


Relief

Zhang Enli @ Hauser & Wirth, 196A Piccadilly - Central

To 27 Feb: www.hauserwirth.com

There’s no sign of the brash political pop one associates with contemporary Chinese painting in the everyday lyricism of Zhang Enli. His approach is figurative but far from realist, with a penchant for washed out colours and allowing paint’s drips to hint at time seeping: think Luc Tuymans meets Callum Innes. Even the biggest works are of quiet subjects: a two metre canvas show a circle, leaves or a basin. And I like Zhang best at his quietest, when his fluid contemplations of objects almost disappear into their context: a wall lamp, a relief and a peeled white wall could all stand in for what would otherwise be found where they are hung.

Reflections

Damien Roach: Shiiin, Jet Stream, White earphones @ David Roberts Art Foundation, 111 Great Titchfield St – Fitzrovia.

To 6 March: project blog @ www.fromadarkenedsunroof.com

Where to begin? Young conceptualist Damien Roach has drawn on his love of Japan to turn the Foundation into an immersive environment which is part garden (complete with pond), part house (with rooms demarcated by variously coloured semi-transparent screens). We come across both Roach’s work and his choices from the David Roberts Collection, and a roster of eccentric events is scheduled. Roach’s own pieces include video; slide shows; paintings laced with LSD; acoustic foam panels posing as minimalism; the back of a playing card entitled ‘Think of a Card’; and his characteristic collages which transformationally invert elements to make fake reflections - picked up in turn by a collection of twelve vinyl records all entitled ‘Reflections’. A chance, then, to escape from the everyday by reflecting on gently imaginative tweaks of same. Shiiin, in case you wonder, is the onomatopoetic form of absolute silence in Japan. If you’re reduced to it, it’ll be in a good way…

Untitled No. 1

Thérèse Oulton: Territory @ Marlborough Fine Art, 6 Albemarle St - Central

To 13 March: www.marlboroughfineart.com

Marlborough may not have a cutting edge image, but they have some excellent artists. Thérèse Oulton, who sounds more exotic than most who come from Shrewsbury, has built her reputation over thirty years through large abstract paintings with a geographical aura. Her new show does it the other way round through 24 small landscapes which use her own photographs from elevated vantage points as the source for unpeopled views. The paintings are vertiginous and yet calm, highly detailed and yet cloudy – and retain a strong feeling for the abstract. That includes abstraction from particular places: they are untitled, and both physically and emotionally distanced. Oulton suggests that may allude to how ‘fewer and fewer people do actually come from, stay on, one small patch of earth anymore’. An interesting comparison is with Carol Rhodes’ aerial views of marginal zones: it would be hard to like those – as I do – and not these.





David Hockney ‘Bigger Trees Near Water Or / Ou Peinture Sur Le Motif Pour Le Nouvel Age Post-Photographique’ & Andy Holden ‘Pyramid Piece and Return of the Pyramid Piece’ @ Tate Britain

To 10 April: www.tate.org.uk/britain/exhibitions/artnow

Given the clamorous claims of their blockbusters, it’s easy to overlook the rehangs and smaller shows in the Tates. The Millbank branch currently provides two explorations of scale by artists of contrasting age and fame. David Hockney’s biggest-ever painting is a view of a copse with a sycamore 30 feet high. Actually it’s 50 canvases worked on separately by reference to a computer mosaic of the whole plan – and for good measure the ex-exile techno-enthusiast has made two full scale photographic copies, so you get three full walls of trees. Meanwhile, in the adjoining Art Now room, Andy Holden has made a vast knitted version of a small boulder he stole from the pyramids of Giza when he was a boy (and which he shows himself guiltily trying to return in an accompanying video). Thus a small souvenir of the monumental is made mock-monumental through a laborious process of penance in medium associated with the domestic scale. Holden’s fragment undergoes a continuous metamorphosis, says Lizzie Carey-Thomas in her accompanying text: ‘a stone in the ground, a fragment of an edifice, a relic of a lost civilization, a tourist icon, a stolen souvenir, an object of guilt’. I found both rooms endearing in a slightly silly way…


Exotic Dancer

Ansel Krut @ Modern Art, 23-5 Eastcastle St – Fitzrovia

To 13 Feb: www.modernart.net

Ansel Krut (with the 'u' as in 'hoot') is a South African who has lived in London – and taught influentially – for getting on thirty years. This is his first outing in glitzier surroundings after showing previously at the excellent but more domestic DomoBaal. Krut’s quirky and spirited inventions play affectionately with any number of modern painting devices and communicate his own enjoyment in making them – indeed, he himself says it is a good sign if he laughs while at work. An energetic spiral form feautures in many of these works, and Krut has intensified his colours in recent years, and is one of those painters with an instantly recognizable palette. And if you’ve ever asked yourself what the personality of a vortex, onion or escalator might be, here are some entertaining possible answers…

The Happy Cactus

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

To 13 Feb: www.alisonjacquesgallery.com

Ryan Mosley (with the ‘o’ as in ‘hot’) is a rising young painter who, like Krut, creates a distinctive world of his own which draws you in to believing in its impossible logic. This, his first big solo show, features a bemusingly amusing range of the human treated like objects (free-floating feet, misplaced faces, a head in a snow shaker) merging with a peculiarly active non-human world (a happy cactus, invasions of pipes, snakes everywhere – indeed, they’re all we can see in the near-abstract ‘A View from a Window’). And they’re helped on their way by titles (‘A Concave Friar’, ‘Blue Bottle Mask’, ‘Snake in Drag’…) which point up the absurdly tangential wit.

Salisbury

Danny Rolph: Automatic Shoes @ Poppy Sebire, Piccadilly Arcade – Central

To 20 Feb: www.poppysebire.com

The second pop-up (poppy-up?) space for this new gallery is over three floors in a posh shopping arcade opposite the Royal Academy which has fallen on lease-freeing times. That layout facilitates a balanced presentation of Rolph’s works on paper, canvas and – most characteristically – the almost-clear polycarbonate building material triplewall. All teem with energy, colour and references to arrive at what seem to be abstractions of pretty-much everything. Like having, says Rolph, the right crossword but the wrong clues. The newest element are drawings after (not before) the triplewalls, the mix of which includes apparently hairy elements in a sly homage to Guston. I suppose I should admit that Danny is an established favourite of mine, and my interview with him forms part of the show’s documentation – but that doesn’t make it any less good!

Interview @ www.poppysebire.com/downloads/Rolph-interview-CareyKent.pdf

Untitled (Book), 1968

Philip Guston: Works on Paper @ Timothy Taylor, 15 Carlos Place – Mayfair

To 20 Feb: www.timothytaylorgallery.com

It’s always good to see work by the great and influential Philip Guston (1913-80)- especially when he looks to be in the mix behind Krut, Mosley and Rolph. Guston is hardly under-exposed, but this show provides a fresh angle by forming a retrospective of works on paper: from 50s abstract expressionist studies to fascinating transitional not-quite-figurative mid-60s drawings (from a time when Guston stopped painting) and on to a wide range in his cartoonish late style, including books as buildings, wonderfully simplified hooded figures and clusters of fruit and shoes. And they look great as a whole, with all 24 works restricted to black, white and Guston’s characteristic pinks.


Scren shot from 'Versions'

Oliver Laric: Versions / Real Talk @ Seventeen, 17 Kingsland Rd - Hoxton

To 13 Feb: wwww.seventeengallery.com

Young video-based artist Oliver Laric makes a striking triple-impression here. First, he plays telling games with originality though a six minute documentary about doctored images using material taken from the internet – from Iranian rocket strikes to celebrity porn to a multiverse of manipulations of Zidane’s world cup final headbut – which illustrates how ‘every lie creates a parallel world – the one in which it is true’. The film itself comes with voice-overs by four commentators who variously interpret the meaning of that content. Second, he draws analogies between the breaking up of graven images in the reformation and the extremely wide variation in the status of images in the internet age by presenting vari-coloured polyurethane versions of a damaged icon from Utrecht Cathedral. Third, he riffs on those themes by curating four films in the basement under the rubric ‘Real Talk’. I loved Aleksandra Domanovic’s version of ‘Annie Hall’, which literalises Woody Allen’s sound track by correlating it against images culled from the seventy million–strong Getty archive – with wildly varying effects as the nature of the match changes. Allow yourself plenty of time here!




Still showing from previous lists: Gordon Cheung to 7 Feb, Visible Invisible: Against the Security of the Real To 7 Feb, Ornulf Opdahl to 26 Feb, William Eggleston to 27 Feb, Shoa Azari & Shahram Karimi to 27 Feb, Rula Halawani to 6 March, Eva Hesse & Katja Strunz to 7 March.

www.newexhibitions.com gives full address and opening time details of most shows


TEN FOR THE FUTURE

I am looking forward to:

Mat Collishaw, Tracey Emin & Paulo Rego @ The Foundling 27.1 - 9.10

John Stezaker @ The Approach 29.1 - 7.3

Eileen Agar @ Redfern Gallery 2.2 - 25.2

John Gerrard @ Thomas Dane 3.2 – 6.3

William Tillyer season @ Bernard Jacobson (four shows from Feb 5)

Bernard Frize @ Simon Lee 10.2 – 24.3

Franz Ackermann @ White Cube 10.2 – 1.4

Paul Nash @ Dulwich Picture Gallery 10.2 – 9.5

Vanessa Billy @ Limoncello 12.2 – 13.3

Peeping Tom (curated by Keith Coventry) @ Vegas 18.2 - 28.3

Monday, 18 January 2010

NEW YEAR, NEW SHOWS

With almost everywhere opening afresh for the new decade, there’s almost too much to see at the moment – and that’s without factoring in the ongoing shows which I reached too late to list previously. So an honourable mention for the following hangovers from last year:

• an almost surreal life-force sparks the darkly humorous photographs in Lithuanian Rimaldas Viksraitis’s ‘Grimaces of a Weary Village’ at Anya Stonelake’s temporary base in an architect’s office near Euston (to 16 Jan);

• Viksraitis is strongly endorsed by Martin Parr, and a punchy retrospective of Parr’s own work runs
at Rocket until the end of the month;

• perhaps the best Howard Hodgkin show I’ve seen - not that I am in general his biggest fan – is at the Gagosian’s Davies Street branch to Jan 23: just nine beautifully straightforward and intimately-scaled paintings which seemed to link up into views through the window of a train through changing weather as I moved around the gallery;


• Rob Tufnell’s fascinating accumulation of ‘Hyperborean Manners’ in his new timeshare arrangement with Sutton Lane Gallery , including offbeat items specially acquired by him and a particularly good example of John Stezaker’s face/cave collages in which there is a powerful sense of the skull (to 30 Jan);

• the group show ‘Pretty Baa-Lambs’ @ Madder 139 (until 30 Jan) is named from Peter Jones’ small and rather disturbing portraits of vintage toy lambs in landscapes, but the stand-out picture is Guy Allot’s ‘Fredville Oak’, a big painting of a giant oak, through holes in which landscape views appear.

But on to the new stuff x 10…


Martin Maloney: Lolita

Detox @ Concrete Allotment Projects, 16 Hoxton Square – Hoxton

To 6 Feb: www.detoxme.org.uk

This lively group show set up by artist-curator-participants Kristen Lovelock and Jo Wilmot rather appropriately utilizes a former martial arts centre to present work in the gym, corridors and changing rooms. It starts from the new year premise that we will have a mighty post-noughties hangover requiring recovery modes – of self-improvement and self-presentation as much as of detox, it seemed to me: for example, in Agathe Snow’s ‘Total Attitude Work Out Video’, a parody of celebrity exercise regimes. All good, if somewhat uneven, fun though the two highest-impact artists seemed the least directly thematic: Rainer Ganhal’s video of himself risking plenty for art by cycling against the traffic in Brussels, and Martin Maloney’s fluid new set of multi-women which exaggerate the conventions of the modernist nude in super-zingy style.


Mali Morris: Sillett

Tag: From 3 to 36 – New London Painting @ Brown, 42 Hoxton Square – Hoxton

To 6 Feb: www.browngallery.co.uk

The mysterious title of the show at White Cube’s lively basement neighbour refers to a procedure whereby Kim Brown asked three young London painters to show one painting each and to choose another London painter, who in turn chose another to show and choose – and so on, until there were 36 paintings. That makes for a survey of painters and their connections which comes from a broader base than would a conventional selection. You can follow the tag game of who chose whom, look for trends or just pick your favourites – in my case Jill Mason’s sideways landscape; Geraldine Swayne’s curiously-proportioned hobby horse rider; Clare Price’s graffiti-tinged abstraction mixing acrylic gouache, spray paint and household lacquers; and Mali Morris’s lively swish ‘n’ spot at the invitation of her student Gabriel Hartley.


Giants of Modernism #1 (Vortex Head with Pipe)

Ansel Krut @ Modern Art, 23-5 Eastcastle St – Fitzrovia

To 13 Feb: www.modernart.net

Ansel Krut is a South African who has lived in London – and taught influentially –
for getting on thirty years. This is his first outing in glitzier surroundings after showing previously at the excellent but more domestic DomoBaal. Krut’s quirky and spirited inventions play affectionately with any number of modern painting devices and communicate his own enjoyment in making them – indeed, he himself says it is a good sign if he laughs while at work. Krut has intensified his colours in recent years, and is one of those painters with an instantly recognizable palette. And if you’ve ever asked yourself what the personality of a vortex, onion or escalator might be, here are some entertaining possible answers…


Takiing Care of the Crops

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

To 13 Feb: www.alisonjacquesgallery.com

Ryan Mosley (with the ‘o’ as in ‘hot’) is a rising young painter who, like Krut, creates a distinctive world of his own which draws you in to believing in its impossible logic. This, his first big solo show, features a bemusingly amusing range of the human treated like objects (free-floating feet, misplaced faces, a head in a snow shaker) merging with a peculiarly active non-human world (a happy cactus, invasions of pipes, snakes everywhere – indeed, they’re all we can see in the near-abstract ‘A View from a Window’). And they’re helped on their way by titles (‘A Concave Friar’, ‘Blue Bottle Mask’, ‘Snake in Drag’…) which point up the absurdly tangential wit.


Scren shot from 'Versions'

Oliver Laric: Versions / Real Talk @ Seventeen, 17 Kingsland Rd - Hoxton

To 13 Feb: wwww.seventeengallery.com

Young video-based artist Oliver Laric makes a striking triple-impression here. First, he plays telling games with originality though a six minute documentary about doctored images using material taken from the internet – from Iranian rocket strikes to celebrity porn to a multiverse of manipulations of Zidane’s world cup final headbut – which illustrates how ‘every lie creates a parallel world – the one in which it is true’. The film itself comes with voice-overs by four commentators who variously interpret the meaning of that content. Second, he draws analogies between the breaking up of graven images in the reformation and the extremely wide variation in the status of images in the internet age by presenting vari-coloured polyurethane versions of a damaged icon from Utrecht Cathedral. Third, he riffs on those themes by curating four films in the basement under the rubric ‘Real Talk’. I loved Aleksandra Domanovic’s version of ‘Annie Hall’, which literalises Woody Allen’s sound track by correlating it against images culled from the seventy million–strong Getty archive – with wildly varying effects as the nature of the match changes. Allow yourself plenty of time here!


The Fight

Shoa Azari & Shahram Karimi: Blazing Grace @ eastcentral, 23 Bateman’s Row – Shoreditch

To 27 Feb: www.eastcentralgalleries.com

The traditional layering techniques of oil painting are in limited evidence these days, but these western-based Iranian collaborators make a version for our times which, though it didn’t sound the best idea to me, achieves a haunting intensity: Aziri projects looped video onto Karimi’s paintings of exactly the same footage, paintings which are themselves overlaid on scarcely-visible Farsi texts. The luminous results are also oil paintings in another sense, as they show the burning oil fields in Kuwait, as set alight by Saddam Hussein’s retreating troops in 1991. And so enter echoes of current military and environmental concerns. This is, incidentally, the second show at eastcentral, a handsome though below-ground space which is ideally suited to video – and it is, I suppose, pretty much in the middle of the shape you would make by joining Victoria Miro, the Barbican, the Whitechapel and Vyner Street….


Lloyd George

Danny Rolph: Automatic Shoes @ Poppy Sebire, Piccadilly Arcade – Central

To 20 Feb: www.poppysebire.com

The second pop-up (poppy-up?) space for this new gallery is over three floors in a posh shopping arcade opposite the Royal Academy which has fallen on lease-freeing times. That layout facilitates a balanced presentation of Rolph’s works on paper, canvas and – most characteristically – the almost-clear polycarbonate building material triplewall. All teem with energy, colour and references to arrive at what seem to be abstractions of pretty-much everything. Like having, says Rolph, the right crossword but the wrong clues. I suppose I should admit that Danny is an established favourite of mine, and my interview with him forms part of the show’s documentation – but that doesn’t make it any less good!

Interview @ www.poppysebire.com/downloads/Rolph-interview-CareyKent.pdf


Untitled (Hooded Figure), 1969

Philip Guston: Works on Paper @ Timothy Taylor, 15 Carlos Place – Mayfair

To 20 Feb: www.timothytaylorgallery.com

It’s always good to see work by the great and influential Philip Guston (1913-80). He’s hardly under-exposed, but this show provides a fresh angle by forming a retrospective of works on paper: from 50s abstract expressionist studies to fascinating transitional not-quite-figurative mid-60s drawings (from a time when Guston stopped painting) and on to a wide range in his cartoonish late style, including books as buildings, wonderfully simplified hooded figures and clusters of fruit and shoes. And they look great as a whole, with all 24 works restricted to black, white and Guston’s characteristic pinks.


Untitled (Newspaper on Ground, Grass, California, 2000)

William Eggleston: 21st Century @ Victoria Miro, 16 Wharf Road - Hoxton

To 27 Feb: www.victoria-miro.com

This presentation of 22 of Eggleston’s photographs from the last decade – his seventh – has been widely praised, and I can’t swim against that tide: his uncommon takes on the commonplace seem to be moving towards a more abstract approach and to use less strident colours than the 1970’s images which made his name, but the results remain potently strange. The subjects indicate his continuing ability to achieve those effects from unpromising material: freezer with ice bags, Kentucky; soap on windshield, car wash, Memphis; water on dirt road, Las Pozas, Mexico…


Al Bira

Rula Halawani: Presence and Impressions @ Selma Feriani Gallery, 23 Maddox St – Mayfair

To 6 Mar: www.selmaferiani.com

‘Before and after’ is a well-worn trope, but given a powerful political charge at this recently-opened Near East oriented space just off Regent Street. Halawani is a Palestinian who was born and still lives in East Jerusalem, occupied by Jordan from 1948-67 and by Israel since then. Here she presents nine diptychs which match found photographs from historic archives of Palestinian villages as they were before the 1948 mass depopulation of Palestinian land with images of the destroyed or abandoned sites as they are now. The landscapes thus both represent and – in a quiet key but intensely – resist the effects of the longest occupation in modern times on a community and its culture.

Still showing from previous lists: Donald Judd to 29 Jan, Gordon Cheung to 30 Jan, Visible Invisible: Against the Security of the Real To 7 Feb, Ornulf Opdahl to 26 Feb, Eva Hesse & Katja Strunz to 7 March.

www.newexhibitions.com gives full address and opening time details of most shows


TEN FOR THE FUTURE

I am looking forward to:

Waseem Ahmed @ Laurent Delaye 22.1 – 27.2

Magali Reus @ Ibid Projects 22.1 – 7.3

Michael Landy @ South London Gallery 29.1 - 14.3

Eileen Agar @ Redfern Gallery 2.2 - 25.2

John Gerrard @ Thomas Dane 3.2 – 6.3

William Tillyer season @ Bernard Jacobson (four shows from Feb 5)

Bernard Frize @ Simon Lee 10.2 – 24.3

Franz Ackermann @ White Cube 10.2 – 1.4

Paul Nash @ Dulwich Picture Gallery 10.2 – 9.5

Vanessa Billy @ Limoncello 12.2 – 13.3

About Me

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Southampton, Hampshire, United Kingdom
I was in my leisure time Editor at Large of Art World magazine (which ran 2007-09)and now write freelance for such as Art Monthly, The Art Newspaper and Border Crossings. I have curated five shows in London during 2013-15 with more on the way.Going back a bit my main writing background is poetry. My day job is public sector financial management.

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