Monday, 18 January 2010


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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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:

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 @

Untitled (Hooded Figure), 1969

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

To 20 Feb:

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:

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:

‘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. gives full address and opening time details of most shows


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

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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.